Friday, March 22, 2019

Down Among The Z-Men

'You're going to be reborn. And, then you'll be the bane of the unjust. The band of the corrupt. The bane of anyone who opposes us.' From The North favourite Gotham's latest episode would, in previous series, probably have taken up a plot-arc of half-a-dozen parts or more. But, with a mere couple of episodes of the series to go, things are, perhaps inevitably, getting compressed into tightly-crafted forty two minute chunks. Reviews of the episode - I Am Bane - can be found here, here, here and here. This blogger, as usual, thought it was great. The series final two episodes will be broadcast on 18 and 25 April.
All dear blog readers are hereby directed to a splendid interview with Resolution's Charlotte Ritchie, here which is, this blogger considers, well worth a few moments of your time.
According to national heartthrob David Tennant, another actress was 'almost' cast as The Doctor's companion for series four in 2008 before the decision to bring back Catherine Tate was made. Which, of course, we all knew anyway since considerable space was given to the process in Russell Davies and Ben Cook's book The Writer's Tale. Tate, who played Donna Noble throughout 2008 and returned to Doctor Who, briefly in 2010 for Tennant's finale, was initially intended purely to star in the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama's 2007 Christmas special, The Runaway Bride. But, while the producers wanted to see more of Tate, they doubted the actress would have the time or the inclination to sign on for a full series - lining-up another actress to take a different part. The 'revelations'(which aren't, actually, revelations at all or anything even remotely like it) were heard on the latest edition of David Tennant Does A Podcast With ... Speaking to Tate, Tennant said: 'None of us expected you to say yes. There was another actress lined-up, but she doesn't know this. Our executive producer, Julie Gardner, was going to have lunch with Catherine and see if she wanted to come back for a whole series. Obviously she won't, so on Monday we're going to send out the offer to play this character. There was a character breakdown and everything. It was a formality.' Yes, David, we know - she was to be called Penny Carter, a recently jilted journalist whose grandfather was part of an Alien Watch Group. When Catherine agreed to return as Donna, the Penny plans were scrapped, although a journalist character with that name (played by Verona Joseph) did appear in series four's opening episode, Partners In Crime. And, Penny's grandfather quickly mutated into the character of Donna's grandfather, Wilf. Tate replied that she was 'surprised' when she was asked back to the show. 'I remember exactly, Julie took me out to lunch,' she said. 'My jaw genuinely dropped open because at no point did I expect her to say that. And I thought it'd be a really good thing to do. I thought it'd be a one-off thing, I absolutely loved doing The Runaway Bride, but I didn't, for a minute think.' Before doing the show full-time, Tate admitted that had not really watched the show. 'Doctor Who wasn't my thing, I knew it from when I was growing up,' she said. 'But, I heard it was coming back with Russell T Davies, who I loved from Queer As Folk. I turn on to see the episode where Rose was a baby and it's all set in the 1980s. I'm thinking "This is absolutely shocking, the production values haven't changed at all!" It was a fundamental misunderstanding, but I remember thinking "this is appalling."' And this blogger is sure that the writer of the episode in question, Father's Day, his old mate Paul Cornell, will be delighted by those comments! It was not, in fact, until relatively recently that Tate said she finally understood just how 'uge Doctor Who was. 'I didn't know anything about it,' she said. 'I don't think I realised until last year how popular this show is. Genuinely no idea. I've experienced things at conventions I didn't think I would. There's a level of intensity. You're shocked and delighted and amazed at it.' Yeah, that certainly sounds like a few conventions this blogger has attended.
It notably returned to more stand-alone storytelling with Jodie Whittaker's debut series, but modern Doctor Who once had a reputation for dealing in complex, intricately-planned story arcs. But back in The Old Day, it was quite different. If not, necessarily, better. Tom Baker's final series (1980 to 1981) is out now on Blu-ray but, whilst the stories - The Leisure Hive, Meglos, Full Circle, State Of DecayWarriors' Gate, The Keeper Of Traken and Baker's swansong Logopolis - are beloved by many fans, this blogger very much included, the series' then-script editor Christopher H Bidmead has admitted that little thought went into planning a series-arc. 'We were writing this stuff as it came, there was no serious planning of how the whole thing would be shaped,' said Bidmead, speaking at a BFI event. 'It's not how you'd do the thing today, with a writers' room and proper planning of how the different stories were going to interweave with each other and the through-line. We were really making it up as we went along!' Bidmead was Doctor Who's script editor for just the one series - a very good one, let it be noted - and said that he finds it 'extraordinary' there is 'still continued interest' in the work he did almost forty years ago. 'You didn't sit down and plan a season - you had to write the next script!' he revealed. 'You got that done and then you had to do the next script. The turnover was so enormous that there was none of that sort of forward planning. It would've been amazing, but we never had that - we never had the budget, or the time, we were just kind of rushing it out.' Any 'themes' allegedly present during series eighteen, in particular. can actually be credited to the fans, Bidmead insisted. 'The fans come along and they put the structure in for you. That's so exciting, that's wonderful.' Bidmead also admitted that he would sometimes clash with Mad Tom over the actor's desire to ad-lib and deviate from the scripts. 'We fought all that like Hell and tried to put a stop to it,' Bidmead recalled. 'If we saw Tom doing something that was not in the script, we would come down and we'd have words with him; quite loud words sometimes. He wasn't allowed to improvise.' Bidmead admitted that he was 'arrogant' as a young script editor, adding: 'I believed that once I got the job, I understood the show with a deep clarity that nobody else had, and certainly not Tom. Not Tom of that era anyway. Tom's view of the character was of no interest to me at all.' Baker was also romantically involved with his co-star Lalla Ward, which fellow cast regular Matthew Waterhouse acknowledged led to tensions. 'There were certainly tensions between Tom and Lalla, which affected the atmosphere in the rehearsal room,' Waterhouse claimed. 'It wasn't a bundle of laughs. I'm very fond of them both, but it wasn't an easy relationship and it wasn't easy, as a very young person, to observe.' Waterhouse said Mad Tom's 'whole performance would change depending on his particular frame of mind in the moment,' but the actor was 'more relaxed' once Ward had left the show midway through the series in one of this blogger's favourite Doctor Who stories, Warriors' Gate. 'The atmosphere was so different, and to be honest, so much more relaxed,' Waterhouse said. Margot Hayhoe, the production manager on Logopolis, also noted that Mad Tom's demeanour seemed to have 'improved' by the time he filmed his final episodes. She admitted: 'I was actually terrified, because he had a certain reputation for being a little difficult sometimes. But he was absolutely fine. I think it helped that it was his last one; he wanted to leave on a good note.'
American Gods has been recommissioned for the third series. Starz announced, only one episode into the fantasy drama's second series, that the adaptation of Neil Gaiman's novel will be getting a third year. The timing is exactly the same as during American Gods first series, two years ago when the commissioning of the current, second, series was announced the day after the opening episode had been broadcast. But, who will be showrunning American Gods series three? Usually, when a TV show gets as far as a third series renewal, it is pretty obvious who will be running the ship. But, given that American Gods original showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green left after the first series and then Jesse Alexander, who took over for Fuller and Green, stepped down halfway through the production of series two, it's a valid question. According to the official press release, Chic Eglee will be the new showrunner. Eglee has previously written for Dexter and The Shield, as well as co-created Dark Angel with James Cameron. 'I'm thrilled American Gods has been renewed for a third season, and even more thrilled that I'm getting to work on it with Chic Eglee,' said Gaiman. 'Chic is the best partner-in-crime. We’ve been working for weeks now on the shape of the season and I'm delighted that he gets to carry the American Gods torch on to glory. Thank you to Fremantle, Starz and Amazon for having faith in the series, to Bryan, Michael and Jesse for bringing it this far, to all the cast and crew and most of all to the viewers. It's their love of the characters that took us to this point, and will take us on to the next chapter.'
So, that was some proper good news for fans - particularly after all of the horror stories about the production of the second series had been doing the rounds. Meanwhile, this week's episode was a jolly good one - a clever juxtaposition of Shadow's (long-awaited) origin story and an amusingly violent road-trip for the late Laura and Mad Sweeney. You can check out a review of the episode here.
'Honey, I just travelled all the way from Jersey to Barcelona, cut open a priest, climbed inside him and landed in a snow globe. And now, I'm standing here talking to a friggin' Robotman!' The preview disc for the fifth episode of the DC Universe's increasingly impressive Doom Patrol also arrived at Stately Telly Topping Manor this week. Again, top quality entertainment; a terrific cast - Tim Dalton, Alan Tudyk, Brendan Fraser, Diane Guerrero among others - and a script that takes just the right amount of liberties with the (already pretty wacky) source material and manages to create something funny, exciting and charming all at the same time. The plot: Mister Nobody releases Caulder from captivity so that the two can work together to stop The Decreator. Nobody travels back in time to 1977 and uses one of Crazy Jane's multiple personalities, Doctor Harrison whose superpower is persuasion, to recruit a Cult Of The Rewritten Book which will create a counterpart to Elliot that can oppose The Decreator. Mad! As! Toast! There's a very good review of the episode here.
One can always tell whenever Only Connect is coming towards the end of a series, dear blog reader. Because - as the divine Victoria her very self will regularly note - around the quarter-final stage (which began this week), the questions start getting, in short, rock hard. Or, at least, rock harder than they normally are. As evidenced in the latest episode by the fact that this blogger - who can usually manage to get the answer to at least one question per week before either of the teams - ended Monday's episode with a big, fat zero to his name. Nowt. Not a sausage. Bugger all.
Jodie Comer has beaten her Killing Eve co-star Sandra Oh to be named best female actor at this year's Royal Television Society awards. Lesley Manville, Lorraine Kelly and Romesh Ranganathan were among others honoured at the London event. Lennie James was awarded for writing Sky Atlantic's Save Me, which was also named best drama series. Comer, who plays a female assassin in Killing Eve, said that she felt 'fortunate' to work in a show with a female writer. 'A woman understands another woman in a way that not all men, but a lot of men maybe, can't,' she told reporters. The first series of Killing Eve was adapted by Fleabag's Phoebe Waller-Bridge from a series of novellas by Luke Jennings. Other winners on Tuesday included Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith, whose work on Inside Number Nine saw them share the male comedy performance award. The BBC won fifteen awards all on what director general Tony Hall said had been 'a great night for British creativity.' These included awards for Lesley Manville in Mum, A Very English Scandal, Drowning In Plastic, Killed By My Debt and Match Of The Day's coverage of England's World Cup quarter final win over Sweden. Originally founded as the Television Society in 1927, the RTS is an educational charity with more than four thousand members. It is open to anyone 'with an interest in the medium' and not specifically those with links to the industry.
Steven Knight - the man behind From The North favourite Peaky Blinders - has revealed plans for series six of the BBC hit drama. Knight 'sent fans into meltdown' when he spoke at a Creative England event held in Digbeth this week. He reportedly 'dropped huge hints' to the audience about his plans for a sixth series of the BAFTA-winning drama. Series five wrapped filming in January and is due to be broadcast on BBC1 soon. But, despite the show being Birmingham-based, the majority of filming is carried out in the North of England - with occasional scenes filmed at the Black Country Museum. The event, held to celebrate the region's creativity, saw Knight reportedly tell fans that series six will be filmed in and around Birmingham - and a search for suitable locations has already begun. He is said to have 'vowed' to the audience that he 'would shoot it here.' The drama began filming its fifth series in Manchester last September, before moving to Stoke-on-Trent in November. Knight revealed in November that the Shelby family will take on a notorious Glasgow crime boss in series five. Steven said: 'We have someone playing a fictionalised version of a real Glasgow character who was around in East Glasgow, Billy Fullerton. The man who ran The Billy Boys. Truth be told, the Glasgow gangs were pretty much the most feared so I thought it was time we went North of the border. It's due to be aired in late spring. It'll be the best yet.' Hunger Games star Sam Claflin will be joining the series as Oswald Mosley, who will 'come into conflict' with Tommy Shelby. Anya Taylor-Joy, Brian Gleeson, Neil Maskell, Kate Dickie Emmett J Scanlan, Cosmo Jarvis, Charlene McKenna, Andrew Koji, Elliot Cowan and Daryl McCormack have also joined the act. Little is known about the plot for the new series, apart from the fact that it will explore the 1929 financial crisis, along with Tommy's new role as the MP for Birmingham South and how he navigates the political sphere, specifically his relationship with Mosley, at the time the series is set still a respected member of the Labour cabinet still a few months away from his - rapid - move to the far-right.
An Angel reunion of some description may be on the horizon. Appearing on Tuesday's The Talk, David Boreanaz hinted that there are plans to in some way commemorate the Buffy The Vampire Slayer spin-off's twentieth anniversary this autumn. 'We're coming up on our twenty years,' Boreanaz noted. 'That's amazing to have been blessed with a show like that. That's really where I started my gig in this acting world. I love that character. So I will say there may be something coming up. I don't want to give away a lot. It's twenty years coming up this fall and we may have something in the works.' Angel made its WB debut in October 1999 and ran for five - superb - series and one hundred and ten episodes. The cast also included the divine Goddess that is Charisma Carpenter, Alexis Denisof, J August Richards, Amy Acker, James Marsters and the late Glenn Quinn and Andy Hallett. Last year at New York Comic-Con, Boreanaz - who is currently starring on CBS' SEAL Team - came out in support for the in the works Buffy revival. 'It's a good thing,' he told the audience. 'Let's just embrace [it]. I'm very happy for them. They want to embrace a new generation, something new. Everybody wants old, they want to go back, which I can understand,' he continued. 'You want to see us back in these roles. It's great, it's cool, [but] things move on, stories evolve, times change. I think it's a great opportunity for a reboot like this to show where we are with society now, what you can do with technology. I'm all for it.'
Emilia Clarke has spoken about the reaction she received from the public over her nude scenes in Game Of Thrones. Daenerys has appeared in more bare-nekked scenes over the course of Thrones' seven series than anyone else and this is something which Emilia claims she has had to defend. Speaking to the Sun ahead of next month's series eight premiere, she explained: 'There's not one part of the show that I would go back and redo. People ask me the nudity question all the time. But the short answer is no, I would never change anything. You had to see those sex scenes, as they couldn't just be explained.' The actress faced considerable backlash during the show's sixth series, following a scene where her character emerged from a burning temple with her clothes melted away. Albeit, not from anyone that you've actually heard of or, indeed, care about. 'I just wanted to come out and do an empowered scene that wasn't sexual - it was naked, but it was strong,' she claimed. 'I get a lot of crap for having done nude scenes and sex scenes. That, in itself, is so anti-feminist. Women hating on other women is just the problem. That's upsetting.' Emilia added that 'plenty of other TV shows' feature sexual themes and nudity, including dystopian drama The Handmaid's Tale: 'That is all sex and nudity. There are so many shows centred around this very true fact that people reproduce. People fuck for pleasure, it's part of life.'
Meanwhile, Emilia has revealed she had to undergo brain surgery between two series of Game Of Thrones. Writing in The New Yorker, Clarke said that she suffered from two 'life-threatening' aneurysms. The actress underwent surgery twice, leading to 'terrible anxiety' and panic attacks. Despite thinking that she would die, Clarke has now recovered beyond her 'most unreasonable hopes.' Clarke experienced her first aneurysm in 2011. She had been working out before collapsing in a toilet with 'shooting, stabbing, constricting pain.' Doctors diagnosed her with having a subarachnoid haemorrhage, from which a third of sufferers die immediately or soon after. After the surgery, a condition called aphasia set in, meaning she could not communicate and feared her acting career was over. 'In my worst moments, I wanted to pull the plug,' she said. 'I asked the medical staff to let me die.' She recovered enough to return to filming series two of Game Of Thrones but said: 'I was often so woozy, so weak, that I thought I was going to die.' In 2013, while performing for a play in New York, she received brain surgery for a second aneurysm on the other side of her brain. This surgery was far more intrusive, meaning her skull had to be opened. 'I looked as though I had been through a war more gruesome than any Daenerys experienced,' said Clarke. Her piece in The New Yorker is the first time she has spoken about her experience. She says she is now 'at a hundred per cent' and has helped develop a charity that supports people recovering from brain injuries and strokes.
NBC has confirmed that it has renewed From The North favourite The Blacklist for a seventh series. The fact that it did so the day after an episode which ended on a cliffhanger with lead character Reddington seconds from execution by lethal injection could, perhaps, be taken as a slice of dramatic irony on the part of the network. The announcement had, reportedly, been in the works for some time. Standard broadcast series' cast contracts in the US are usually for six years. James Spader is reported to have renegotiated his deal early, adding an extra year, the rest of the drama's original cast members' contracts were up at the end of the current sixth series. Over the past several months, Sony TV has signed new deals with Megan Boone, Diego Klatenhoff and Harry Lennix, thus securing the core cast ahead of seventh year renewal. The Blacklist was a massive hit when it debuted on NBC in 2013 on Monday prime time. It took a hit when the network relocated it to shore up Thursday nights in series two, using a post-Super Bowl slot to give it a boost. Whilst The Blacklist never came close to the ratings heights of its first series, it has been a relatively consistent ratings performer even when switched again, to Fridays, boosted by solid DVR gains. Additionally, because of NBCUniversal's ownership in the show (initially twenty five per cent, increased to fifty per cent early in the series' run), NBC has a significant financial incentive to keep The Blacklist on the air. The show also is a big profits generator for Sony TV from international sales and the lucrative SVOD pact with Netflix.
Star Trek: Discovery will reportedly 'lose two major characters' at the end of its current second series. The CBS series welcomed two new cast members in the form of Anson Mount and Rebecca Romijn in series two, who play the roles of classic Star Trek characters of Captain Christopher Pike and Number One respectively. However, Deadline is reporting that both Mount and Romijn will exit the show at the end of the series, in a move that will see Discovery 'come full circle and sync-up' with the timeline of the first ever Star Trek episode. It was recently confirmed that the series had been renewed for a third series with writer Michelle Paradise promoted to co-showrunner for the third year.
The premiere date for Line Of Duty's fifth series has been announced by the BBC. The highly-anticipated new run of the popular drama programme will start on Sunday 31 March on BBC1. The announcement comes two weeks after the series' first trailer was unveiled. Vicky McClure, Martin Compston and Adrian Dunbar are all confirmed to be returning, as well as Maneet Bindra, Polly Walker, Andrea Irvine and Aiysha Hart. Stephen Graham will play a character who is a person of interest for AC-Twelve. 'The fifth series will see "a significant format change" as, instead of focusing on a single corrupt police officer, the show will focus on "an organised crime group." That is the fresh ground that we break in the series,' creator Jed Mercurio said earlier this year. 'We've had these shadowy figures, The Balaclava Men, who are part of an organised crime group and have featured on-and-off all through the previous four seasons. But we've never really gone behind the mask and identified them as proper characters and found out about them.'
David Dimbleby is to return to BBC1 just months after quitting as the presenter of Question Time - this time as guest host of Have I Got News For You. The presenter has not been seen on screen since stepping down from the current affairs programme after twenty four years but will be back on Friday 4 April to host the long-running satirical TV show. He said: 'It is an intriguing invitation. When chairing Question Time I became used to dealing with difficult panellists but Ian Hislop and Paul Merton are another matter. They have turned disruptive subversion into an art form. It will be quite a challenge to keep the show on the road but whatever happens it will be fun.' The eighty-year-old will be joined by journalist and documentary film-maker Stacey Dooley and From The North favourite the comedian Henning Wehn, along with Hislop and Merton, for the first episode of the show's latest nine-week run. Dimbleby retired from Question Time at the end of 2018 and was replaced by Fiona Bruce. However, there is a chance that he could return to screens in the event of a snap general erection being held this year, with a lack of clarity over whether he has formally handed control of the BBC's erection night results coverage to longtime understudy Huw Edwards. Dimblebs departure from Question Time - and his brother Jonathan's decision to step down from Radio 4's Any Questions? - means the UK is set to be without a major current affairs show hosted by a member of the Dimbleby family for the first time since time began.
Emily Maitlis will become the new lead presenter of BBC2's Newsnight after Evan Davis's departure. Kirsty Wark will have 'an enhanced role' on the programme while 5Live presenter Emma Barnett joins as a new presenter, the BBC confirmed. The announcement comes a month after Maitlis won network presenter of the year at the RTS TV Journalism Awards. Davis left the programme last year to take over from Eddie Mair as the lead presenter of PM on BBC Radio 4. Maitlis said that she was 'delighted to be moving into this role at a time when Newsnight feels so pivotal to our understanding of this extraordinary moment in British history.' Barnett will continue to present her daily morning show on 5Live in addition to her Newsnight presenter shifts. 'I can't wait to get started at Newsnight at a time when no one can predict the next hour in British politics, never mind the next evening,' Barnett said. This marks the first time the programme has had an all-female presenting team and follows the appointment of Fiona Bruce as David Dimbleby's successor on Question Time. The new presenter line-up on Newsnight will take effect immediately. Esmé Wren, the programme's editor, said: 'This is a tremendous presenter line-up that sends out a clear signal about the programme's growing ambition. All three presenters bring substantial political clout and a wealth of expertise across a broad range of subjects.'
The cast of Four Weddings & A Funeral reunited for the first time in twenty five years to help Comic Relief raise sixty three million knicker. In the mini-sequel, Rowan Atkinson returned as the bumbling vicar - this time presiding over the daughter of the two original leads, Carrie (Andie MacDowell) and Charles (Hugh Grant). Miranda, played by Lily James, was seen marrying the daughter of Fiona (Dame Kristen Scott Thomas). The telethon also saw the return of Keeley Hawes in a Bodyguard spin-off. The Four Weddings sketch - One Red Nose Day & A Wedding - also starred Alicia Vikander, who won an Oscar for her role in The Danish Girl, as Miranda's new wife. Sam Smith made a cameo as one of the wedding singers in the short film, presided over by Comic Relief co-founder Richard Curtis, writer of the original film. There were plenty of jokey references to Four Weddings, including its most-quoted line - as Grant's character claimed that he 'hadn't noticed' it was raining. This year's charity telethon also saw Hawes return as Home Secretary Julia Montague, who appeared to have been killed off during series one of Bodyguard. Her co-star Richard Madden had already been given a new job - protecting a new prime minister, played by Joanna Lumley - and was with her in a car when Montague was found in the boot. On seeing Hawes, Madden said: 'You're dead.' Hawes replied: 'Am I?' By the end of the broadcast, more than sixty three million quid had been raised. The last Red Nose Day, two years ago, raised seventy one million by the end of the evening. This year's Red Nose Day telethon also saw a minor dip in overnight ratings, with an average of 5.6 million viewers tuning in live - roughly six hundred thousand fewer overnight viewers compared to 2017. The highest amount the event has raised so far was one hundred and eight million smackers in 2011, once all the pledges had been redeemed. Half the money raised from Comic Relief goes to causes in the UK and half to those around the world. The fundraising TV show also featured an appearance from Little Mix - they're a popular beat combo, yer honour - who looked less than impressed when former shadow chancellor Ed Balls had a go at singing one of their biggest hits, 'Shout Out To My Ex'. The popular beat combo and the Strictly Come Dancing favourite were among a number of celebrities who climbed Africa's highest mountain, Kilimanjaro, to raise more than two million notes towards the show's final total. Former England football captain David Beckham again teamed up with that odious Corden individual to 'poke fun' at his own previous fashion choices, in a comic video monologue at the start of the night. So, if you missed that bit, that you didn't miss much of any consequence. Jennifer Saunders took part in mock musical Mamma Mia! Here We Go Yet Again, also featuring Sue Perkins, Carey Mulligan, Alan Carr and Gemma Arterton which, sad to report, was about as funny as a good hard eye-watering kick in the Jacob's Cream Crackers.
The BBC director general, Tony Hall, is to meet executives at Huawei next week, 'raising concerns among some journalists at the corporation about the broadcaster’s coverage of the Chinese technology company.' At least according to a rather atypical shit-stirring piece by some Middle Class hippy Communist of no consequence at the Gruniad Morning Star. BBC News journalists have 'raised concerns' about the potential conflict between the corporation's need to provide independent and critical coverage of China with the rest of the organisation's financial need to sign commercial deals with Chinese businesses, with 'some' - ie. the two or three who whinged to the Grunaid - 'seeing Hall's visit as a PR win for Huawei.' A BBC spokesperson confirmed that Hall would meet executives, with the meeting expected to take place at the company's headquarters in Shenzhen. Britain has a government department overseen by GCHQ to test the Chinese company's hardware, while Donald Rump has issued a blanket US government ban on the purchase of its technology. UK government ministers have also discussed the national security implications of Huawei's role in upgrading Britain's communications infrastructure and the extent to which legislation in China could compel Chinese companies active in the UK to assist with intelligence work. 'China and the wider region is obviously an important market for the BBC, both for our commercial businesses as well as for BBC News,' said a spokesperson. 'Tony is going to open our new bureau in Hong Kong, visit the Beijing bureau and will see a range of people to understand the changing nature of the tech market as well as meeting commercial clients.' The BBC is already expanding in China. BBC Studios, the corporation’s commercial arm, has offices in Shanghai and Beijing, while the corporation also has a growing partnership with Shanghai Media Group to distribute Doctor Who in China. Hall is expected to meet representatives of other big Chinese businesses while on his trip, including companies such as the Amazon rival Alibaba.
The BBC chair has suggested that the system of media regulation is 'no longer fit for the modern age,' after the corporation was forced to delay plans to make more programmes available for up to a year on iPlayer. Audiences used to watching programmes as box-sets on Netflix are 'becoming increasingly frustrated' that most BBC programmes are only available on catch-up for thirty days. The public broadcaster wants to make more shows available on iPlayer for longer, but has been told by the media regulator, Ofcom - a politically-appointed quango, elected by no one - to 'conduct a public-interest test' into the proposals, in the belief it could harm commercial television rivals. Sir David Clementi told an audience on Monday that iPlayer's thirty-day catch-up window is 'one of the main complaints' he hears from licence fee payers. The BBC chair said: 'Netflix currently updates its app over fifty times a year with no need for regulatory approval and can stream content for as long as they negotiate with rights holders. It's a market in which to stand still is to go rapidly backwards.' He told the Oxford Media Convention that many parts of the existing regulation system were designed to stop the BBC 'trampling over its commercial rivals' in an era when UK TV channels were competing for audiences. Clementi believes these regulations are out of date because the BBC itself is being massively outspent by the likes of Netflix, who are capturing younger viewers and drawing away top stars. 'The current regulatory system has its origins in an era where the BBC was seen as the big beast in the jungle, the big beast against whom all others needed protection. But that view of the world has now passed. Increasingly, our major competitors are well-funded international giants - Netflix, Spotify, Facebook, YouTube - whose financial resources dwarf our own,' Clementi said. 'We need to look again at whether regulation, born in a UK-centric linear era, remains fit for the global, digital age. The explosion of choice from the new online players has undoubtedly been a good thing for UK consumers. But in embracing the new we should also celebrate, and protect, what is good about our existing broadcast ecology.' The BBC has an uneasy relationship with streaming companies such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, sometimes co-producing big-budget dramas with the services in order to save costs, while at the same time eyeing the streaming services' ever-growing audiences as an existential threat to the licence fee model.
The creator of Fireman Sam has said that he 'can't see' how the children's show has a stereotype problem and puts women off joining the service. It comes after senior fire officer, Alex Johnson - who is, obviously, not mental - told the Daily Torygraph 'most of the job is nothing like it is portrayed' in the show. No shit? And nor is it like the portrayal in Trumpton either. What are the odds? It has sparked debate on social media about whether the show is 'sexist.' David Jones, who created the show set in the fictional Welsh town Pontypandy, said there was nothing he would change. Jones who is, himself, a former-firefighter, began working on the idea for Fireman Sam in the 1980s after he heard Mike Young on BBC Radio 2 talking about his cartoon project SuperTed. 'It is for children. It wasn't meant to be advertised as a recruiting post,' an exasperated Jones said. 'Someone doesn't join the fire service when they watch Fireman Sam. They wouldn't be the right people for the job if that was their mentality.' Jones sold the programme, illustrated by Rob Lee from Cardiff, to Mattel in 2002. Johnson, the temporary deputy chief fire officer for South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service - who is campaigning to attract more women into the fire service - said that women and 'people from different backgrounds' (whatever that means) do not consider the role because 'they aren't seeing themselves represented.' Meanwhile, the London Fire Brigade, using 'Firefighting Sexism' in its campaign, tweeted that the involvement of Penny Morris, a firefighting character in Fireman Sam, was 'devalued.' Jones maintains there is 'nothing he would change about' the show and said that in his fourteen years as a firefighter, rushing into buildings on fire was 'part of the job. A fireman is someone who runs into fire or towards danger when other people run away,' he said. 'There has been no harm done from Fireman Sam, it has only done good and I am very proud to have created it.' The show was broadcast for the first time in November 1987 on Welsh TV channel S4C and is shown in more than one hundred and fifty countries across the world. Almost none of whom have ever complained about any aspect of it.
Sky New Zealand has pulled fellow broadcaster Sky News Australia off-air until the channel stops broadcasting clips from the Christchurch mosque shooter's Facebook live stream. And, hopefully, develops a conscience. So, it might be a bit of a wait in that case. In a tweet posted on Saturday morning, Sky New Zealand, an independently-owned broadcaster, said that it had decided to remove the Australian twenty four-hour news channel from its platform because of the 'distressing' footage. 'We stand in support of our fellow New Zealanders and have made the decision to remove Sky News Australia from our platform until we are confident that the distressing footage from yesterday's events will not be shared.' Despite a plea from New Zealand police, billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch's Australian pay-TV channel was among the broadcasters that chose to screen Go-Pro footage shot by the man who slaughtered forty nine people at two mosques in Christchurch on Friday. '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.' Brenton Tarrant was alleged to have filmed a seventeen-minute Facebook video which included his drive to the mosque, his arsenal of weapons and graphic scenes of his murderous rampage. Media organisations that have used the film stopped the video as he entered the mosque. Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have removed the footage but new copies are still constantly being uploaded. Sky News Australia has been broadcasting the footage repeatedly, sparking anger and disgust on social media. It was also shown via Sky News Australia on screens in Qantas airways lounges at airports. A spokeswoman for Sky New Zealand told the Gruniad Morning Star Australia the company was in negotiations with Sky News Australia as to when the channel would be restored to the platform. 'We stand in support of our fellow New Zealanders and do not wish to show the distressing footage that has been shared at this time. We will resume service when available,' a social media spokeswoman said on Twitter. 'All other news channels are still available. BBC World and CNN are available on SKY GO.' Sky New Zealand attempted to calm anger over Sky's repeated use of the footage by assuring the public it was a separate company owned by New Zealanders and was not affiliated with News Corp. Sky News Australia said later on Saturday that it 'provides a live feed into New Zealand on the SKY television platform. As the live rolling events of the Christchurch shooting unfolded, an editorial decision was made by Sky News Australia to offer sports programming to SKY NZ in place of Sky News Australia's live feed to ensure any footage or reporting did not compromise the ongoing investigations taking place in New Zealand. Sky News Australia acted responsibly and prudently in replacing the service as soon as it was able to early yesterday evening after consulting with SKY NZ management.' On Friday a Sky News Australia spokesman had claimed: 'Sky News in line with other broadcasters ran heavily edited footage that did not show the shootings or the victims.' Another Australian channel, Network Ten, defended its decision to embed parts of the video on its Ten Daily platform as part of its news coverage on Friday. 'We are appalled and deeply saddened by the tragic events in Christchurch today,' a spokeswoman said. 'Like other media outlets, Ten Daily showed footage of the gunman walking towards the door of the mosque. We warned about the nature of the vision in the accompanying story. We did not show any vision from inside the mosque.' So, that's all right, then. Sometimes, dear blog reader, words utterly fail this blogger. But, not for long. The public broadcaster ABC did not use the audio or the footage from the Go-Pro camera but did show images from it on-air and online. The edited video was heavily promoted on all News Corp websites, with warnings about 'distressing' content.
From The North's semi-regular Headline Of The Week award goes to the Gruniad Morning Star's Molly Moss who asks that most vexed of questions, Why Does Coronation Street Keep Exploding Its Lesbians?
Julianne Moore was sacked from Oscar-nominated film Can You Ever Forgive Me? because she wanted to wear a fat suit, its star Richard E Grant has claimed. According to Grant, Moore also wanted to wear a false nose to play literary forger Lee Israel - but the film's then director did not approve. 'Nicole Holofcener said "you're not going to do that,"' Grant told an audience in London on Wednesday. Moore revealed this month that she was fired from the film without giving any further details. 'I think she didn't like what I was doing,' Moore said of Holofcener, who did not end up directing the film. Moore's departure was previously attributed to unspecified 'creative differences.' Melissa McCarthy eventually played Israel in the film. Brilliantly. Speaking at an Advertising Week Europe event in London, Grant said that Helena Bonham Carter and Sam Rockwell were also attached to the film before he became involved. Grant, known for his roles in Withnail & I, Downton Abbey and Doctor Who, received an Oscar nomination for his role as Jack Hock, Israel's inebriated accomplice. Irish actor Chris O'Dowd had been due to play the part opposite Moore, only to find out 'at the last minute' the shoot would not be going ahead. During a free-wheeling talk on Wednesday, Grant also revealed that he had received a phone call from Geri Halliwell the previous day. He did not disclose what they spoke about, but joked he could fill in for Victoria Beckham when the band embark on their reunion tour. Grant added that he still had some of the costumes he wore to play Clifford, the group's uptight manager, in 1997 film Spice World. The actor said his 2014 appearance in US TV show Girls had only come about because its creator, Lena Dunham, had been a fan of the Spice World film. 'Then Adele sent me tickets to her sold-out concert at the O2 because she knew me from Spice World, so it's a double win,' he continued.
Most bodacious news for fans of the Bill & Ted movies, the comedy duo will 'definitely' be going on a third adventure next year. Just a mere thirty years after the last one! Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter, the stars of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure and Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, revealed the news in a video message live from The Hollywood Bowl. The sequel will be released thirty one years after the 1989 original, which followed two - rather endearing, if extremely dim - Californian slackers travelling through time to enable them to pass a history exam. Titled Bill & Ted Face the Music, it will hit cinemas in August 2020. Now ageing rockers in their band, Wyld Stallyns, Bill and Ted's inability to fulfil their prophecy to save the universe via rock and/or roll music will be tackled in the new movie. News that a script had been written for a third film was revealed first at the Cannes film festival last year. A lot has changed since the last film was released. Reeves has long since transitioned from being a comedy actor into an action movie star best known for the likes of John Wick, Speed and The Matrix. And, for managing to pull off the single worst English accent in the history of cinema in Bram Stoker's Dracula. Meanwhile Winter has primarily worked as a director for the last two decades with only occasional acting gigs. Last year, Winter said making the Bill & Ted movies had been 'therapeutic' and proved 'helpful' to him, while he was coming to terms with childhood sexual abuse. Winter, now fifty three, says he was sexually abused as a child actor in the 1970s by a man who is now dead. 'I absolutely feel like a survivor,' he told 5Live's odious grumpy horrorshow (and drag) Adrian Chiles. Speaking about making the first film in 1989, he said: 'The movies are what they are, they're silly and all that, I don't hold them in overly high estimation as works of art or anything, but we had a lot of fun making them. But, for me personally, in terms of the experience it was really, really helpful for me mentally. And it was a great environment. The world of Bill & Ted is a very sweet and fun place to run around in.' The news that Bill & Ted 3 is officially a go follows an intriguing report on the Forrest Gump sequel that never was. In an interview with Yahoo Entertainment, screenwriter Eric Roth revealed the unmade film would have featured OJ Simpson, Princess Diana and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing had it not been axed in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks. So, by the sound of it, that's one reason to be grateful to Osama Bin Liner.
Reality TV-regular and crass self-publicist Katie Price has denied being abusive outside a school. Price is charged with one count of using threatening and abusive words or behaviour outside a primary school in Shipley last September. Crawley Magistrates' Court heard that she was 'involved in a verbal altercation' with Michelle Pentecost, the girlfriend of her ex-husband Kieran Hayler. When read the charge to her, Price replied: 'Definitely not guilty.' The former model is due to stand trial at Horsham Magistrates' Court on 3 June. A second charge of using threatening or abusive words or behaviour was dropped. Prosecutor Georgina Kent told the court that Price had used foul language towards Pentecost and another woman next to the school playground on 6 September. The court heard the argument had been witnessed by two teachers. Price, who stood in the dock holding her mobile phone, had been due to appear before magistrates in Crawley on 13 March but - as was widely reported at the time - failed to turn up. When reminded by chairman of the bench, Serena Stewart, of the importance of attending the trial in June, Price replied: 'I will definitely be attending, don't worry about that.'
Lorraine Kelly has won a row over a million smackers tax bill, after a judge ruled she was not employed by ITV, but 'performs' as her 'chatty' TV persona. Kelly, who presents Lorraine on weekday mornings, received the national insurance and income tax bill from the tax office in 2016. HMRC claimed the Scottish broadcaster was an ITV employee, but she said she was a freelancer. The judge ruled in Kelly's favour that she was 'a self-employed star.' The case centres on a contract that Kelly signed in 2012 - through a company she runs with her husband - to present Lorraine, as well as her former show Daybreak which ended in 2014 when Good Morning Britain was relaunched. Four years later, she was sent a bill of nearly nine hundred thousand knicker in income tax and more than three hundred grand in national insurance contributions. Kelly appealed against tax authority HMRC and the case was heard by the first-tier tax tribunal. Judge Jennifer Dean ruled that the relationship that Kelly had with ITV was 'a contract for services and not that of employer and employee.' The tribunal found that Kelly did not receive staff benefits such as holiday or sick pay and was 'allowed to carry out other work.' The judge said that Kelly 'could' be classed as 'a theatrical artist,' which would mean any payments to an agent would be allowed as a tax-deductible expense. Judge Dean said: 'We did not accept that Ms Kelly simply appeared as herself - we were satisfied that Ms Kelly presents a persona of herself, she presents herself as a brand and that is the brand ITV sought when engaging her. All parts of the show are a performance, the act being to perform the role of a friendly, chatty and fun personality. Quite simply put, the programmes are entertaining, Ms Kelly is entertaining and the "DNA" referred to is the personality, performance, the "Lorraine Kelly" brand that is brought to the programmes.' She added: 'We should make clear we do not doubt that Ms Kelly is an entertaining lady but the point is that, for the time Ms Kelly is contracted to perform live on-air, she is public "Lorraine Kelly." She may not like the guest she interviews, she may not like the food she eats, she may not like the film she viewed but that is where the performance lies.' Kelly - who this year marked her thirty fifth anniversary working in television - has been described as the queen of the breakfast TV sofa. The Glasgow-born broadcaster began her career at a local newspaper before joining BBC Scotland. In 1984 she landed the job as a roving Scotland correspondent for ITV's then breakfast television franchise TV-am. She went on to host GMTV and, after the gruesome twosome Chiles and Bleakley had been extremely fired, Daybreak, before her current slot on Lorraine. In 2012, she was included on the New Year's Honours List and was appointed an OBE for services to charity and the armed forces. She has been involved with many charities and took part in the one hundred kilometres BT Red Nose Desert Trek in Kenya, which raised money for Comic Relief projects. A spokesman for HMRC claimed that it was 'disappointed' with the ruling. 'We will carefully consider the outcome of the tribunal before deciding whether to appeal,' he said.
One of the UK's biggest suppliers of toilet and kitchen roll has been stockpiling about three-and-a-half million netty rolls in UK warehouses in preparation for a no-deal Brexit. And, the moment when everyone discovers what this crap is going to cost us and, as a consequence, shats themselves. The German firm Wepa said that it had been storing an extra six hundred tonnes of toilet and kitchen roll in the last three-to-four months to 'safeguard supplies in Britain,' in case the UK crashes out of the EU without an agreement on 29 March. The company has also built six weeks' supplies of the cardboard core used inside the rolls, as this cannot be sourced from the UK in sufficient quantities and is imported from EU countries in Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. The firm has also decided to charter ships to take toilet and kitchen roll from a supplier in Naples to Swansea, rather than relying on trucks carrying its products via the Calais-Dover route. Wepa is the latest company to unveil its preparations for a no-deal Brexit. Businesses ranging from car manufacturers to supermarkets and pharmaceutical firms have been stockpiling products and components as well as revising their supply routes. They fear that customs checks introduced after a no-deal Brexit would lead to lengthy delays and drive up the cost of materials. Wepa's UK managing director, Mike Docker, said: 'The industry is pretty reliant on imports. We've been planning for Brexit since August last year to make sure we maintain our levels of service. What we've concentrated on is a hard Brexit. That's the worst-case scenario for us, where we'd probably see major delays at the border.' The news comes a week after the chief executive of the supermarket chain Morrisons said its customers had begun stockpiling toilet roll and painkillers. Wepa said that demand for toilet and kitchen roll had gone up seven per cent in the past month, though this 'could also be affected by promotions in the supermarkets it supplies.' The company sells eighty thousand tonnes of toilet and kitchen roll - six hundred million rolls - to the main UK supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury's, Morrisons and the Co-op every year - a tenth of the total one billion knicker supply in Britain. Wepa is the biggest supplier of toilet and kitchen roll used by supermarkets for their own-brand products.
An online petition calling for soon-to-be-former prime minister Theresa May to cancel Brexit by revoking Article Fifty has passed three million signatures. Parliament's petitions committee tweeted that the rate of signatures was 'the highest the site has ever had to deal with,' after the website crashed. It comes as the soon-to-be-former prime minister was in Brussels to beg the EU for a delay to next Friday's Brexit date. Foreign Secretary The Vile & Odious Rascal Hunt told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that revoking Article Fifty was 'possible' but 'highly unlikely.' Earlier Commons leader Andrea Leadsom sneered that she had 'been made aware' of an alleged 'technical problems' with the website, but she dismissed the petition as 'not being on the same scale' as the pro-Brexit vote in the 2016 referendum. 'Should it reach 17.4 million respondents then I am sure there will be a very clear case for taking action,' she told MPs. Well, that sounds like a challenge, dear blog readers. The place to vote, if you're wondering, can be found here. This blogger is not a particular fan of online petitions and has, in the past, been frequently exasperated with some of his friend's rather naive belief that an online petition can actually change the minds of anyone that matters. As this article proves, they never, ever do. That said, the sneering 'you lost, get over it' attitude of some of the leave side - as demonstrated by that loathsome reptile Leadsom's comments here - really grates this blogger's cheese to the point where, just this once, he hopes he's proved wrong. As bigly wrong, in fact, as a bigly wrong thing. The loathsome Leadsom added: 'It's absolutely right that people do have the opportunity to put their views and that can then spark yet another Brexit debate.' At one point, the petitions committee said there were nearly two thousand signatures a minute. In December, the European Court of Justice ruled that the UK can unilaterally revoke Article Fifty of the Treaty of the European Union. This means the UK can decide to stay in the EU without the consent of the twenty seven other member states. All it needs is for someone in a position of authority to, you know, actually do it. The petition currently has long since passed the one hundred thousand signatures that means it will be 'considered for debate.' Margaret Anne Georgiadou, who started the petition, told the BBC: 'I became - like every other Remainer - very frustrated that we've been silenced and ignored for so long. So I think now it's almost like a dam bursting, because we've been held back in a sense - it's almost like last chance saloon now. The government repeatedly claims exiting the EU is "the will of the people." We need to put a stop to this claim by proving the strength of public support now, for remaining in the EU.' She said the petition 'didn't do very well for a week. I nearly gave up but then I contacted a lot of people and it took off,' she added. The Article Fifty petition is not, yet, the most popular ever on the Parliament website. A petition for a second EU referendum in June 2016 attracted more than four million signatures and was debated in the Commons - but was, ultimately, ignored. A House of Commons spokesperson said the site crashed on Thursday morning because of 'a large and sustained load on the system.' One or two people even believed them.
A huge fireball exploded in the Earth's atmosphere in December, according to NASA. The blast was the second largest of its kind in thirty years and the biggest since the fireball over Chelyabinsk in Russia six years ago. But it went largely unnoticed until now because it blew up over the Bering Sea, off Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula. The space rock exploded with ten times the energy released by the Hiroshima atomic bomb. Lindley Johnson, planetary defence officer at NASA, told BBC News that a fireball this big is 'only expected about two or three times every one hundred years.' At about noon local time on 18 December, the asteroid barrelled through the atmosphere at a speed of thirty two kilometres per second, on a steep trajectory of seven degrees. Measuring several metres in size, the rock exploded about twenty five kilometres above the Earth's surface, with an impact energy of one hundred and seventy three kilotons. 'That was forty per cent the energy release of Chelyabinsk, but it was over the Bering Sea so it didn't have the same type of effect or show up in the news,' said Kelly Fast, near-Earth objects observations programme manager at NASA. 'That's another thing we have in our defence, there's plenty of water on the planet.' Doctor Fast was discussing the event here at the fiftieth Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in The Woodlands, near Houston. Military satellites picked up the blast last year; NASA was notified of the event by the US Air Force. Doctor Johnson said that the fireball 'came in over an area not too far from routes used by commercial planes' flying between North America and Asia. So researchers have been checking with airlines to see if there were any reported sightings of the event. In 2005, Congress tasked NASA with finding ninety per cent of near-Earth asteroids of one hundred and forty metres in size or larger by 2020. Space rocks of this size are so-called 'problems without passports' because they are expected to affect whole regions if they collide with Earth. But scientists estimate it will take them another thirty years to fulfil this congressional directive. Once an incoming object is identified, NASA has had some notable success at calculating where on Earth the impact will occur, based on a precise determination of its orbit. In June 2018, the small three metre asteroid 2018 LA was discovered by a ground-based observatory in Arizona eight hours before impact. The Centre for Near-Earth Object Studies at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory then made a precision determination of its orbit, which was used to calculate a probable impact location. This showed the rock was likely to hit Southern Africa. Just as the calculation suggested, a fireball was recorded over Botswana by security camera footage on a farm. Fragments of the object were later found in the area. The latest event over the Bering Sea shows that larger objects can collide with us without warning, underlining the need for enhanced monitoring. A more robust network would be dependent not only on ground telescopes, but space-based observatories also. A mission concept in development would see a telescope called NeoCam launched to a gravitational balance point in space, where it would discover and characterise potentially hazardous asteroids larger than one hundred and forty metres. Doctor Amy Mainzer, chief scientist on NeoCam at JPL, said: 'The idea is really to get as close as possible to reaching that ninety per cent goal of finding the one hundred and forty metres and larger near-Earth asteroids given to NASA by Congress. She said that if the mission did not launch, projections suggested it would 'take us many decades to get there with the existing suite of ground-based surveys.' Doctor Mainzer added: 'But if you have an IR-based (infrared) telescope, it goes a lot faster.'
Scientists are getting closer to understanding how the distant object Ultima Thule came to be. NASA's New Horizons spacecraft flew by the thirty five kilometre-long world on 1 January at a distance of three thousand five hundred kilometres. It is made of two distinct pieces which once orbited each other before colliding at a gentle speed, team members told a major US conference. The scientists may also be close to understanding why it is flattened like a pancake, rather than spherical. Researchers are excited because the object gives us a unique window into the formation of the Solar System, some four-and-a-half billion years ago. Ultima (the larger lobe) and its counterpart, Thule, are primordial building blocks from a time when smaller objects called planetesimals were merging to form the planets we know today. 'We have never seen a pristine binary like this anywhere in the Solar System,' said Professor Alan Stern, the mission's principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. 'We have seen bi-lobe comets, but we were never sure when we were looking at those whether it was something that was born with that shape or evolved to that shape. Theoretical models of planetesimal and planet formation predicted that objects like this should be out there. And the very first Kuiper Belt planetesimal that we visit turns out to be one of them. You can't get luckier than that. Unless they're very common.' The Kuiper Belt is the band of frozen material that orbits the Sun beyond the eight classical planets. Professor Stern was speaking here at the fiftieth Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in The Woodlands, Texas. Scientists think the object was formed from the collapse of a swarm of smaller particles orbiting the Sun. This led to the formation of medium-sized planetesimals. Jeff Moore noted that the 'lumpy' shape of Ultima could be a legacy of its accretion from these objects, describing them as 'poorly formed snowmen,' referring to the original nickname for the object. This made Ultima something of a 'Frankenstein' object, according to Doctor Moore, who is affiliated to NASA's Ames Research Centre. It's 'a time machine, taking us back to almost the very beginning of the Solar System.' Professor William McKinnon, from Washington University in St Louis, said the results from Ultima Thule fitted in with one class of theory about how the Solar System formed. 'If you go back to the solar nebula, the gas and dust that's circling the Sun, there are modern theories that postulate overdense particle or pebble concentrations that can gravitationally merge together - large swarms that can form bodies on the scale of Ultima Thule,' he said. 'As these particles come together, they will naturally form binaries.' The last stage of the process was the merger between Ultima and Thule, possibly after the gravitational ejection of other planetesimal companions. Ultima and Thule 'almost certainly formed in the same location,' said Professor Stern. 'We know this because, otherwise, they would have collided at a higher speed, had their orbits been very different.' Computer simulations suggest that the objects collided at a speed of just two to three metres per second, as team member Kirby Runyon explained: 'About the speed you might run into a wall.' In addition, the long and short axes - the imaginary lines running through the objects at planes perpendicular to one another - are remarkably well-aligned for both Ultima and Thule. 'It is very improbable that this would arise completely by chance,' said Professor McKinnon. 'The implication is that these bodies were almost certainly in orbit around one another.' Scientists may also be edging closer to an explanation for the object's striking flattened shape. Professor McKinnon drew comparisons with Atlas, a moon of Saturn which orbits within the giant planet's ring system. 'This is an accretionary environment - this satellite is accreting particles. Those particles just happen to be small,' he explained. This suggested there might be a link between the conditions that shaped Atlas in Saturn's ring system and those in the rotating mass of rocky material that eventually formed the lobes of Ultima Thule. 'A flat thing can be flat because it was originally weak and was spinning rapidly, but then it gets a little stronger,' Professor McKinnon told BBC News. But he added: 'We actually don't know. That's one of the more complicated and mysterious aspects to this - why this thing is as flat as it is.' Professor Stern said New Horizons still had fuel left and it is possible the mission might even get an extension from NASA to try to target another object in The Kuiper Belt. He told BBC News: 'It really depends on how the senior review ranks our proposal because the missions are set to compete with one another. I think we have done a spectacular job, both at Pluto and Ultima Thule, not only in terms of execution, but in terms of advancing the field.'
The asteroid being explored by the Japanese mission Hayabusa-2 is 'a rubble pile' formed when rocks were blasted off a bigger asteroid and came back together again. The discovery means that asteroid Ryugu has a parent body out there somewhere and scientists already have two candidates. They have also found a chemical signature across the asteroid that can indicate the presence of water, but this needs confirmation. Ryugu's unusual shape is also a sign that it must have been spinning much faster in the past. Scientists from the Japanese Space Agency mission and from NASA's Osiris-Rex spacecraft, which is exploring a different asteroid called Bennu, have been presenting their latest findings at the fiftieth Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. The Hayabusa-2 team has also published its results over three papers in Science journal. Meanwhile, the team behind the Osiris-Rex mission has made the first close-up observations of particle plumes erupting from an asteroid's surface. These findings are published in a suite of papers in the Nature journals. Bennu and Ryugu have many similarities. They are comparable in size, rich in carbon and shaped like spinning tops. Both missions aim to deliver samples from these objects to Earth. Both asteroids are primitive objects, made of the same basic material that went into building rocky planets like Earth. Studying samples in laboratories could shed light on how our own world came to be. The identification of Ryugu as a rubble pile asteroid comes from an assessment of its density. Project scientist Sei-ichiro Watanabe said the asteroid's porosity - a measure of the voids, or spaces, present in the object - was fifty per cent. The large number of rough boulders on Ryugu's surface support this idea, he added. These boulders are probably fragments that joined up after the disruption of its parent body. The spinning top shape, Doctor Watanabe said, 'was formed from a past rapid rotation.' He added: 'Most of the known top shapes are rapid rotators, but Ryugu is rather slow.' In fact, the scientists think that Ryugu once spun at twice its current rotation period of once every seven-and-a-half hours. At some point in its history, the object slowed down, though what happened to cause this remains unclear. Team-member Seiji Sugita, from the University of Tokyo, said: 'The size of Ryugu is very small - eight or nine hundred metres across. It's too small to survive the entire Solar System evolution of 4.6 billion years. Ryugu must have been born from a much older and larger parent body in relatively recent times - several hundred million years.' Analysis of the reflected sunlight from Ryugu shows it is a close match to two larger asteroids, known as Polana and Eulalia. These are good potential candidates for the asteroid's parent body. Ryugu is surprisingly dark, much darker than any carbonaceous chondrite meteorites, which could partly be due to exposure of the rocks to the space environment. 'The surface of Ryugu is extremely dark,' said Ralph Milliken, from Brown University in Rhode Island and a co-investigator on the near-infrared spectrometer instrument. He held up a 3D-printed model of Ryugu, saying that he suspected the jet-black plastic used to make it was brighter than the real thing. Data from NIRS3 has also revealed the presence of minerals with hydroxyl groups, which can indicate the presence of water. 'There is evidence for water on Ryugu, but we do not have any strong evidence yet for the presence of molecular water, H2O,' said Milliken. The particular hydroxyl groups found on Ryugu appear to be associated with the element magnesium, which is often associated with clay minerals in meteorites. At Bennu, the team behind Osiris-Rex detected plumes of material erupting from the asteroid on 6 January this year. The immediate cause isn't clear, but it could be related to volatile gases that escape from the rocks when sunlight heats them up. This would push the dust out into space. Bennu also appears to be a rubble pile asteroid, and, like Ryugu, was much more rugged than expected - posing a hazard for sample collection. Hayabusa-2 has just finished a touchdown operation to collect a sample of rock and cache it for return to Earth. Although there was no way to confirm if Hayabusa-2 had collected a sample, project manager Yuichi Tsuda said the team was confident it had, judging from the large amount of material kicked up after the spacecraft fired a five gram tantalum 'bullet' into Ryugu's surface. During the touchdown operation, Hayabusa-2's thrusters shifted fifty cenitmetre to one metre rocks, Yuichi Tsuda said. The thrusters also blew away the top layer of regolith, revealing darker material underneath. Mission scientists have also set a date for Hayabusa-2's next set piece: the kinetic impact experiment. This will involve the spacecraft detonating an explosive charge near the surface of Ryugu - generating an artificial crater. The spacecraft will move to the other side of Ryugu for safety when the charge goes off, returning later to grab a sample of rock from within the crater. The idea is for Hayabusa-2 to get at pristine samples from below the surface, samples that haven't been altered by aeons of exposure to space. The operation will take place on 5 April, said Doctor Tsuda.
FA Cup matches will be shown live on the BBC until 2025 as part of a new four-year broadcast deal with the Football Association. The new agreement - which starts at the beginning of the 2021-22 season - will see BBC Sport continue to show live fixtures, highlights and online clips. Up to eighteen fixtures a season will be televised - more than ever before. The FA said that the deal was 'exciting,' adding: 'We look forward to working with the BBC for years to come.' Mark Bullingham, the FA's chief commercial and football development officer, said The Scum's fifth-round win at Moscow Chelski FC was the most-watched domestic match of the season, with a final and consolidated Seven Day Plus audience of eight million people across all platforms. 'The popularity of the competition goes from strength to strength and continues to draw some of the largest audiences in sport,' he added. 'The Emirates FA Cup is the best and most historic domestic cup competition in the world and we are delighted to have agreed a new long-term commitment to keep it on the BBC until 2025.' The new deal will also see greater coverage of the competition's early stages, with up to six live matches from across the first and second rounds. Barbara Slater, the director of BBC Sport, said: 'We are delighted to have secured these FA Cup rights until the 2024-25 season, ensuring the millions that tune into free-to-air TV can continue to enjoy the most famous domestic cup competition in the world. This new deal now brings even more games to audiences across the country as the BBC provides top-class sport on all of our platforms. Our FA Cup coverage delivers some of the year's biggest viewing figures, engages a key younger audience and provides memorable sporting moments that unite a nation.'
England's years of living down to expectations may well be over - now the difficult part will be keeping a lid on the rising hopes and anticipation surrounding Gareth Southgate's exciting young side. The euphoria of a surprise run to the World Cup semi-finals in Russia was tempered by the sense of a missed opportunity after they were beaten in extra-time by Croatia in Moscow and failed to reach their first final for fifty two years. As Wembley rose in unison at the end of this emphatic five-nil thrashing of the Czech Republic on Friday there was the sense that Russia was simply the start of something special for England and this emerging generation of players. First, though, the context. The Czech Republic were compliant opponents, barely offering a threat and with several accidents waiting to happen in defence - which duly occurred. England,nevertheless, were ruthless and dynamic. They were simply too fast, too mobile, too good and no-one should pour cold water on that. And after their advance to the final stages of the inaugural Nations League in Portugal in June, secured by their first win in Spain in thirty one years and a superb comeback to exact revenge over Croatia at Wembley, there is every reason to believe this England team is not just here to stay, it is going to get better. It was crucial England capitalised on the wave of goodwill that accompanied them back from Russia. The nation loved and admired their football team again - for the first time in an age - and momentum needed to be maintained. On the evidence of the last few games, it has not simply been maintained. It has been gained. And at the head of it all was Sheikh Yer Man City's Raheem Sterling, now the mature, high-class player everyone assumed he would become when he first demonstrated his brilliance at Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws. Sterling, still only twenty four, has become the complete forward under Pep Guardiola's guidance at City. Southgate's careful handling and support during much of a three-year spell in which he never scored an England goal in twenty seven games is now reaping its reward. Southgate never wavered. He insisted he could not understand questions - albeit, not question from anyone that actually matters - about Sterling's place in England's side. These were not words to bolster fragile confidence. They were delivered with conviction and belief. Sterling now has twenty four goals for club and country this season. He is flourishing in the Premier League, Champions League and, importantly, with England. He is naturally gifted but now more clinical - and there is more to come. This is a message that applies to this England side, a team now confident in itself and with the growing confidence of supporters who became accustomed to bitter disappointment. As recently as 2016, they were bundled out of the Euros by Iceland in the last sixteen under Roy Hodgson's management. England's first goal against the Czechs summed up their fluidity, confidence and cutting edge. It was a passage of twenty five passes in which only Dele Alli did not touch the ball. Even goalkeeper Jordan Pickford was involved before the final thrust from Harry Kane's clever pass inside the defence, Jadon Sancho's perfect cross and Sterling's sliding finish. Kane has now scored sixteen goals under Southgate, eleven more than any other player. Sterling is another who is among the first names on the manager's teamsheet. What adds to the excitement is the lengthening undercard of young, precocious talent with the confidence to not simply stand alongside their more experienced, established England team-mates but to push them for their places. Eng land's evolution has picked up pace rapidly since the World Cup - which was crucial - and the evidence of future potential was paraded before elated fans at Wembley. Sancho, just eighteen, wore the England shirt that used to weigh so heavily on so many before him like it was a perfect fit. If anything, the Borussia Dortmund teenager was almost too confident, too eager early on before all of his burgeoning talent came to the fore. Sancho had the vision and composure to play in Sterling for the first, then brought England's fans to their feet with two quick-fire pieces of sleight of foot in the Czech penalty area. And the substitute appearances of twenty-year-old Declan Rice and Moscow Chelski FC's Callum Hudson-Odoi - the youngest player to make his debut for England in a competitive international, aged just eighteen years and one hundred and thirty five days - gave another tantalising glimpse into the future. It was the first time in one hundred and thirty eight years that England had fielded two players aged eighteen or younger in an international. Southgate's own boldness deserves credit here. It is hard to imagine any of his predecessors thrusting a rookie such as Hudson-Odoi into his England debut before he had even made his first Premier League start at Moscow Chelski FC. This is another sign that the emphasis has changed around England. And with the likes of Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws's Trent-Alexander Arnold and Joe Gomez, The Scum's Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Luke Shaw and Sheikh Yer Man City's John Stones all to come back from injury - plus midfield quality in the shape of Southampton's James Ward-Prowse and Leicester City's James Maddison - there will be some very hot competition for places to add to England's edge. England look a team perfectly equipped for the modern game in attack with pace, mobility and threat. The midfield has yet to pass the stiffest tests but Rice's switch from the Republic of Ireland may provide the missing link in that department. The same questions can be applied to England's defence in the face of this flimsy Czech Republic side but this was not a night for quibbling or negativity. This was a night when England delivered on the hype. Two up at half-time it was the sort of game in which, under several previous regimes, England would have treated the second half against clearly inferior opposition as a training exercise and the game would have ended two-nil with a crowd grown bored and borderline disappointed long before the ninety minutes. Instead, after an odd five minutes post half-time, in which the Czech's were first to every ball and half of the England team appeared to still be, mentally, in the dressing room, they recovered their poise and went for the jugular. England are now unbeaten in their past forty qualifying matches in the World Cup and Euros, winning thirty one and drawing nine since a loss to Ukraine in October 2009 - but rarely in that sequence has there been the sort of hope and optimism that surrounds this group of players. Now the good work must continue when England face Montenegro in Podgorica on Monday.
Alex McLeish refused to discuss his future as Scotland manager after leading them to one of their most ignominious defeats in their opening Euro 2020 qualifier in Kazakhstan. The Scotch were two down inside ten minutes and conceded again just after the break to give the Kazakhs only a second win in twenty one qualifiers. On Sunday, they face San Marino, who lost their opener five-nil in Cyprus. 'I'll continue to do my job and won't get drawn into that,' said McLeish. Speaking to Sky Sports News in the immediate aftermath of the abject defeat, the manager conceded the result 'possibly puts more pressure on me.' No shit? McLeish was appointed Scotland coach in February 2018 - eleven years after the end of his first spell in the job - and has won four of his eleven matches to date. His side had previously secured a place in the play-offs for Euro 2020, which they will part host, by winning their Nations League section. Scotland were guilty of abject defending for all three goals in Kazakhstan and offered little threat going forward against the country ranked one hundred and seventeen in the world. McLeish was forced to field a makeshift backline after several withdrawals and the team's inexperience was cruelly exposed. 'It was a poor night for us defensively,' he said. 'We had one chance just before they scored and I was thinking it was looking quite lively for us. But they scored two quick goals and we never reacted. They could have been prevented with better positioning. There's a lot of inexperience in the squad. We have introduced a few new names over the last year or so and it can take time, but I know we don't have time. It's never finished until it's finished. We have players to come back.' In Thursday's other game in the group, Belgium beat Russia three-one in Brussels.
World champions France began their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign with a comfortable victory against Moldova. Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann opened the scoring after converting from The cum's midfielder Paul Pogba's superb pass.Raphael Varane headed in the second and Moscow Chelski FC striker Olivier Giroud netted a third before half-time. Paris St-Germain star Kylian Mbappe stroked in a fourth before Vladimir Ambros scored for the hosts. In the night's other Group H games, Iceland won two-nil in Andorra while Turkey won in Albania by the same score.
Memphis Depay scored twice and provided assists for Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws duo Georginio Wijnaldum and Virgil van Dijk as the Netherlands thrashed Belarus in their opening Group C qualifier. The Dutch took a first-minute lead when Depay punished a sloppy back-pass before his backheel pass was converted by Wijnaldum in Rotterdam. The Reds midfielder then earned a penalty from a foul by Mikhail Sivakov. Depay converted before he crossed for Van Dijk to head in a late fourth. Ronald Koeman's side, who face England in the Nations League semi-finals in June, host Germany in an eagerly anticipated clash on Sunday. Northern Ireland defeated Estonia two-nil in Thursday's other Group C qualifier.
Germany head coach Joachim Löw whinged Leroy Sane was 'lucky' after a 'vicious foul' on the Sheikh Yer Man Man City forward led to Serbia's Milan Pavkov being sent-off as the sides drew oneall in a friendly on Wednesday. Sane hobbled from the pitch after the foul in added time at the end of the game. Serbia goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic had produced an inspired display to prevent Löw's new-look Germany from securing an opening win of 2019. 'It was a vicious foul,' Löw bleated. 'Sane was lucky and got away with not getting hurt but such fouls can break bones.' Löw's youthful side went behind to Luka Jovic's header in the twelfth minute, before substitute Leon Goretzka hit the equaliser after the break. Germany dominated the early possession but Jovic was on hand to turn in the loose ball from six yards before Goretzka levelled with a fierce strike in the second half.
Birmingham City and Aston Villains have each been fined five grand by the Football Association for failing to control players in their Second City derby. The Championship clubs were both charged over a melee in the fifth minute after a foul on Villains captain Jack Grealish by Blues midfielder Maikel Kieftenbeld. Birmingham are also facing a separate charge after Grealish was attacked on the pitch by a fan five minutes later. The Villains won the game on 10 March, with Grealish scoring the only goal. Both clubs accepted the charge. Kieftenbeld was booked for his late challenge, which set the tone for an ill-tempered game at St Andrew's. Grealish was subsequently attacked by Blues supporter Paul Mitchell, who ran on to the pitch and struck the Villains midfielder from behind in the side of the head. Mitchell, of Rubery in Worcestershire, was subsequently sent to The Slammer for fourteen weeks after admitting assault and encroachment on to the pitch. He was also ordered to pay three hundred and fifty smackers in fines and costs and banned from attending any football matches in the UK for ten years. Birmingham, who banned Mitchell from St Andrew's for life, were charged by the FA with failing to control their spectators and they have until 22 March to respond to that charge.
Barnsley midfielder Kenny Dougall has revealed that he tried to play on against Doncaster despite having a broken leg. Dougall is set to miss the rest of the season after suffering the fracture in Friday's goalless draw in League One. But, he subsequently revealed on Instagram that he tried to continue before being substituted in the eighteenth minute. 'Injuries are part of the game and unfortunately I've been hit with another tough pill to swallow,' the Australian posted. 'Full trust in the lads to get us up into the [Championship]. Don't know why I've tried to play on with a broken leg but nobody can say I didn't try.' Barnsley said in a statement that Dougall will be assessed by a specialist this week but he is not expected to feature again this season. Tykes striker Kieffer Moore has already been ruled out for the rest of the season due to concussion. Daniel Stendel's side are second in the table, two points ahead of third-placed Blunderland, having played a game more.
Doncaster Rovers have sacked Niall Mason after he admitted a charge of sexual assault in January. Mason received a six-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, for assaulting a woman in 2018. A judge at Sheffield Crown Court also placed Mason on the sex offenders' register for seven years. A Doncaster statement read: 'Rovers have cancelled the contract of Niall Mason after he withdrew an appeal against his dismissal by the club.' It continued: 'Rovers opened internal disciplinary proceedings immediately following his guilty plea for a sexual offence at Sheffield Crown Court.' Defender Mason had been a regular for the promotion-chasing League One side until shortly before his court appearance in January, but was suspended following his sentencing.
Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo has been extremely charged with 'improper conduct' by UEFA over a goal celebration in the win over Atletico Madrid in the last sixteen of the Champions League. The thirty four-year-old appeared to mimic Atletico coach Diego Simeone, who turned to fans and grabbed his crotch during his side's two-nil first-leg victory. Ronaldo made the gesture after his third goal of his hat-trick in the return leg as Juve won three-nil. UEFA will rule on the case later this week. Simeone was fined twenty thousand Euros for his celebration. Juventus have been drawn to play Dutch side Ajax in the quarter-finals.
A Colombian footballer has been arrested for, allegedly, having The Sex in public and then, allegedly, trying to bribe police officers who caught him after, allegedly, giving them a false name. Jhon Fredy Hurtado, who plays for Quiche FC in Guatemala's top flight, was reportedly arrested in the city of Santa Cruz Del Quiche. FC Quiche does, undeniably, sound like a Sunday League team containing eleven Gruniad Morning Star readers. Local media claim police found him having The Sex in his parked car - with someone else, obviously, he wasn't having The Sex by himself -- and extremely arrested him for 'obscene exhibitions.' The report adds that officers claim Hurtado told them he was called Guillermo 'El Pando' Ramirez Garcia, a former footballer. Both Hurtado and the woman he was with, named in the media as Rocio Adely Giron, are then said to have offered a bribe of ten knicker and a mobile phone to let them go. Police say they rejected the handout and the pair were romtly inched by The Fuzz. Hurtado has been charged with attempting to bribe an officer. A police report reads: 'In the moment they were caught, the gentleman who said he was called 'Pando' Ramirez was found on top of Rocio Adely Giron (both without clothes) and both were asked if they would be kind enough to get changed, after which the motive for the arrest was made known.' Quiche FC have moved to distance themselves from the scandal, saying in a statement: 'The player did it in his free time, which is why the club exempts itself of any legal or penal responsibility that the player has.' The club's board are set to meet to decide what action to take. Hurtado will also be 'hauled in for talks' so he can 'present his defence.' Guillermo El Pando Ramirez was a Guatemalan player who was suspended for life from any football-related activities due to his participation in money laundering and fixing games.
Football fans who claim they believed they were buying a share in 'a real life club' are, reportedly, demanding their money back from an app firm. Thousands allegedly signed up to OWNAFC after its director claimed it would enable them to 'make decisions over the running of a club it took over.' Customers said that they thought paying forty nine knicker would mean they 'had a share in a club' and would be 'entitled to help run it.' OWNAFC denies wrongdoing and said that the forty nine quid was 'to access the app.' It said that shares would only be on offer once a club was actually bought. Gunnercooke LLP, the legal adviser to OWNAFC, said it 'accepted' the business 'needed to be more open with customers.' Hednesford Town FC had considered a take-over by the app but 'a collective decision' was made to 'not go ahead.' One customer, who wished to be known as Nicholas, snitched to the BBC: 'I paid the money on behalf of my thirteen-year-old son because it seemed really exciting. But, after I paid, we received an e-mail about FAQs and in there it said I hadn't paid for a share, but that we would be "entitled" to a share. My son is really upset. He had spent his own money on this and now there appears to be no recourse.' Plus, he's discovered that his father is a moron which is, frankly, a blow for any teenager. In a statement issued on behalf of OWNAFC founder and director Stuart Harvey, Gunnercooke LLP said: 'In no way has the business done any wrongdoing and we strongly reject any accusations of fraud. The concept for OWNAFC was aimed at allowing fans to take an active part in the running of a football club via a mobile application.' A spokesman said that those who paid forty nine quid 'unlocked features' of the app 'allowing them to engage in the experience of running a real football club, by making all boardroom decisions upon deal completion and takeover.' He added: 'All OWNAs, subject to age restrictions, will be entitled to one share in the limited entity that takes over the club. However, it is not mandatory for an OWNA to take a share if they choose not to.' A 'non-executive advisory board' is being appointed and, as part of this move, Harvey will be 'stepping aside' from the business, added Gunnercooke LLP. Harvey said that he had closed down the company's social media pages due to online abuse and threats to his family. The company brochure stated that 'All OWNAs will have the option of buying one share within the club at the nominal value.' It also said that the choice of club to take over would be 'the first decision that you and your fellow OWNAs will make.' But customers said they were 'still unclear' as to what their forty nine notes had,actually, bought them. A customer, who only wanted to be known as Mark, nark'd: 'It's about the fact that ninety nine per cent of the people who paid, like me, are just genuine football fans wanting to be part of something that could make a difference.' The company's website also said 'by making payment of forty nine pounds, you are securing your position as football club OWNA and unlocking all features of the OWNAFC app.' It added: 'once the club purchase is complete, you will unlock the app features and really put your theories into practice.' Meanwhile, customers have been applying for refunds through their bank. Watchdog Action Fraud confirmed that it had received 'reports' relating to OWNAFC within the past two weeks and, as part of its process, informs the National Fraud Intelligence bureau, which then contacts the relevant police force. Greater Manchester Police, the force in which the business is registered, said that it had not yet received any reports. One of the clauses in the website's terms section states that refunds are only offered 'if a takeover is not completed within three months of a club accepting our offer. If no offer is made to a football club by 1 June 2019 then refunds will be offered,' it says.
Weapons, fireworks and drugs have reportedly been found on a coach carrying Paris St-Germain fans to a Women's Champion's League game against Moscow Chelski FC. Up to fifty PSG fans were denied entry to the quarter-final tie at Kingsmeadow. Police were first called to reports of vandalism at the stadium then, later, to serious disorder at Waterloo and Wimbledon stations. A coach that travelled overnight from Paris was searched and one arrest was made. In a statement, the Met Police said: 'Weapons, including knives and knuckledusters, were recovered along with class A drugs. One man from the coach was arrested for possession of class A drugs and the remaining passengers were escorted from the area by police.' Reports suggest a door at the stadium had been broken and parts of the ground had daubed with pro-PSG graffiti. BBC Sports reporter Jacqui Oatley tweeted: 'I'm told there were weapons - knuckleduster and knives - plus drugs on board. They damaged Chelsea's Kingsmeadow ground this morning before returning later. Banned from PSG men's and youth games but not women's.'
Sheffield United Women forward Sophie Jones has been banned for five games after being found guilty of racially abusing Tottenham player Renee Hector. Hector claimed that she 'received some monkey noises' from an opponent during a Championship match on 6 January. Jones, whose Blades deal has been terminated by mutual consent, claimed that she is 'not guilty' and the 'hearing took place in a kangaroo court.' She has also been fined two hundred smackers and must attend an educational course. Defender Hector made the allegations in a social media post after Tottenham had beaten the Blades two-one. Spurs, who said the alleged incident was reported to the referee by Hector during the game, also reported it to the Football Association. 'There is no place for racism in our game,' said Hector on Twitter. 'A zero tolerance policy is imperative in stamping this out from football therefore I welcome this verdict. No-one should be subjected to racist abuse on or off the pitch and I felt a responsibility to call it out for what it was.' The FA set up an independent panel to hear from both sides, with the charge of using abusive and/or insulting words - that included reference to ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race - found proven. An FA spokesperson said: 'The case against Sophie Jones was heard by an Independent Regulatory Commission comprising two independent lawyers and a former football player and manager. The written reasons in the case will be published in due course, which will provide a detailed account of the evidence given and the findings of the Commission.' Sheffield United confirmed that Jones' contract, which was 'due for review' at the end of the season, had been 'terminated by mutual agreement.' In a statement, Jones has since suggested her football career is over. 'It is with a heavy heart that I feel I am unable to continue within football and play under an organisation that I do not have any confidence in,' she said. 'I would like to state on record that I do not condone racism in any form and I will continue to stand by this statement. I strongly stand firm that I am not guilty with regards to the charge that the FA have brought against me. I am struggling to come to terms with this decision and how the FA can come to a verdict based on probability from the two witness accounts verbally given, instead of reviewing the case and its evidence, in its entirety.' In their own statement, The Blades added: 'The club works closely with the English Football League, the FA and Kick it Out and would like to reiterate that it does not condone racism or any form of discrimination.'
The father of former England footballer Adam Johnson said it was 'good' to have his son home after his release from prison. The former Blunderland and Sheikh Yer Man City winger was extremely jailed for six years in 2016 for engaging in sexual activity with a fifteen-year-old fan. Johnson's father spoke to reporters outside his thirty one-year-old son's house in Castle Eden. Witnesses said Johnson's father was seen leaving HMP Moorland near Doncaster in the early hours. A Mercedes with blacked-out rear windows he was driving was later seen arriving at the former player's mansion near Hartlepool. Johnson said that his son 'might' make a statement later and asked reporters to leave the home's gated entrance. Johnson, who played for England twelve times before being sent to The Slammer, was released part way through his jail term. On the first day of his trial, the winger pleaded very guilty to grooming the girl and one charge of sexual activity, relating to kissing her. Blunderland immediately terminated his sixty grand-a-week contract following his admission of guilt. Jurors found him guilty of sexual touching but cleared him of one charge relating to another sexual act. As a sex offender, Johnson will have to register his address and bank details with police and inform officers of any intention to travel abroad. His trial at Bradford Crown Court heard that Johnson first began communicating with the girl at the end of 2014 while his partner, Stacey Flounders, was heavily pregnant with their first child. The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was a Blunderland season ticket holder and was 'infatuated' with Johnson. He told the jury that when she sent him a friend request on Facebook he 'recognised her' as a Blunderland fan. They exchanged hundreds of online messages before Johnson met up with the girl in his Range Rover on 30 January 2015 after agreeing to sign football shirts for her. It was in the car that the kissing and touching took place.
England's women cricketers claimed the one-day series in Sri Lanka by winning the second match of the three-game contest to take an unassailable two-nil lead. Sri Lanka were restricted to one hundred and eighty seven for nine in their fifty overs, with left-armer Alex Hartley taking three for thirty six and Anya Shrubsole two for twenty one. Openers Amy Jones (fifty four) and Tammy Beaumont (forty three) got England's chase off to a strong start. Lauren Winfield scored forty four before Heather Knight and Danni Wyatt saw England over the line in just over thirty three overs. England will have expected to win this series comfortably, with Sri Lanka one of the weaker teams in the ICC Women's Championship. These two wins, though, have been not just comfortable but emphatic. A record ODI total in Sri Lanka in the first match, followed by a swift and successful run-chase in the second - the gulf in quality between the two sides is stark. Perhaps the only disappointment for England during the series so far is that the matches have been played in front of only a handful of spectators.
Team Sky are set to announce a new sponsor - owned by Britain's richest man Sir Jim Ratcliffe. The broadcaster said in December that it would end its decade-long commitment to cycling at the end of 2019, during which time Team Sky have won eight Grand Tours. The team will be renamed Team Ineos - after the chemicals giant that billionaire Ratcliffe owns. Ratcliffe is worth twenty one billion knicker and has, reportedly, been 'in talks' with Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford for several weeks. Team Sky was launched in January 2010 and has since amassed three hundred and twenty seven victories, including those eight Grand Tour triumphs. Current riders Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas have won five Tours De France between them and Welshman Thomas signed a new three-year deal in September after winning his first Tour last July. Ineos is Britain's largest privately owned company and in 2018 posted annual pre-tax profits of two billion smackers. Ratcliffe has already invested over one hundred million quid in Ben Ainslie's Americas Cup team. Former Team Sky rider and King of the Mods, Sir Bradley Wiggins, who won the 2012 Tour De France, said the partnership between Brailsford and Ratcliffe could be 'ideal.' Talking on Eurosport's The Bradley Wiggins Show, he said: 'I think he would have been reluctant to have another multinational company that came in and wanted the control in terms of "this is how we advertise our company." Ratcliffe is the richest man in Britain and you would imagine that the kind of money they have asked for is nothing to him. Dave can continue running this team with all his plans and philosophies, so it's an ideal situation for him and you'd imagine he is answerable to one man.' Team Sky have dominated the Tour De France in recent years, winning six of the past seven editions, while Froome also won the 2017 Vuelta A Espana and the 2018 Giro D'Italia. The efficient style and big spending that underpinned Sky's success has been unpopular with some fans, particularly in France.
A champion pigeon has been sold for a record one-and-a-quarter million Euros. Auction house Pipa described Armando as 'the best Belgian long-distance pigeon of all time.' He has also been called 'the Lewis Hamilton of pigeons.' Albeit, not by anyone who understands how similes work. You do know that Lewis Hamilton dives a car, right? Anyway, before this sale, the record was three hundred and seventy six thousand Euros. However, Pipa says that this was beaten within a day of Armando being put up for sale. The champ, who turns five this year, is 'now enjoying his retirement' and 'has already fathered a number of chicks.' The pigeon equivalent of being 'out out to stud' one imagines. Nice for if you can get it. 'It was unreal, the feeling - it was something out of this world,' Nikolaas Gyselbrecht, the CEO of Pipa told the BBC Sport website about the moment someone put down a bid of more than a million Euros. 'In our wildest dreams, we had never hoped for a price like that. We hoped for around four to five hundred thousand and we only dreamed of six hundred thousand.' Gyselbrecht said that two buyers from China 'ended up in a bidding war,' escalating from five hundred and thirty two thousand up to one-and-a-quarter million Euros 'in just over an hour.' To that in perspective, Gyselbrecht says, the 'usual' price for a racing pigeon is around two thousand five hundred Euros. But Armando is no ordinary pigeon. The last three races of his career were the 2018 Ace Pigeon championship, the 2019 Pigeon Olympiad and the Angoulême - and he won them all. He has no shortage of admirers, either. Fred Vancaillie, president of the local pigeon fancying association in Perwez, told Belgian broadcaster RTBF that he was 'the Lewis Hamilton of pigeons' - without the car, obviously - adding that he was 'one of the best in the history of the sport.' Although Armando's racing days are behind him, Gyselbrecht says that racing pigeons can carry on having chicks until they're 'about ten' and live up to twenty. While Armando will now settle in for a quiet life - full of The Sex - it is likely his new owners will breed him and race his progeny.
Expedition operators are reportedly 'concerned' at the number of climbers' bodies that are becoming exposed on Mount Everest as its glaciers melt. Nearly three hundred mountaineers have died on the peak since the first ascent attempt and two-thirds of bodies are thought still to be buried in the snow and ice. Bodies are being removed on the Chinese side of the mountain, to the North, as the spring climbing season starts. 'Because of global warming, the ice sheet and glaciers are fast melting and the dead bodies that remained buried all these years are now becoming exposed,' said Ang Tshering Sherpa, former president of Nepal Mountaineering Association. 'We have brought down dead bodies of some mountaineers who died in recent years, but the old ones that remained buried are now coming out.' And, a government officer who worked as a liaison officer on Everest added: 'I myself have retrieved around ten dead bodies in recent years from different locations on Everest and clearly more and more of them are emerging now.' Officials with the Expedition Operators Association of Nepal said they were bringing down all ropes from the higher camps of Everest and Lhotse mountains this climbing season, but dealing with dead bodies was 'not as easy.' They point at Nepal's law that requires government agencies' involvement when dealing with bodies and said that was a challenge. 'This issue needs to be prioritised by both the government and the mountaineering industry,' said Dambar Parajuli, president of EOAN. 'If they can do it on the Tibet side of Everest, we can do it here as well.' In 2017, the hand of a dead mountaineer appeared above the ground at Camp One. Expedition operators said they deployed professional climbers of the Sherpa community to move the body. The same year, another body appeared on the surface of the Khumbu Glacier. Also known as the Khumbu Icefall, this is where most dead bodies have been surfacing in recent years, mountaineers say. Another place that has been seeing dead bodies becoming exposed is the Camp Four area, also called South Col, which is relatively flat. 'Hands and legs of dead bodies have appeared at the base camp as well in the last few years,' said an official with a non-government organisation active in the region. 'We have noticed that the ice level at and around the base camp has been going down, and that is why the bodies are becoming exposed.' Several studies show that glaciers in the Everest region, as in most parts of the Himalayas, are fast melting and thinning. A study in 2015 revealed that ponds on the Khumbu Glacier - that climbers need to cross to scale the mighty peak - were expanding and joining up because of the accelerated melting. Nepal's army drained the Imja Lake near Mount Everest in 2016 after its water from rapid glacial-melt had reached dangerous levels. Another team of researchers, including members from Leeds and Aberystwyth universities, last year drilled the Khumbu Glacier and found the ice to be warmer than expected. The ice recorded a minimum temperature of only minus 3.3C, with even the coldest ice being a full two degrees warmer than the mean annual air temperature. Not all dead bodies emerging from under the ice, however, are because of rapid glacial meltdown. Some of them get exposed also because of the movement of the Khumbu Glacier, mountaineers say. 'Because of the movement of the Khumbu Glacier, we do get to see dead bodies from time to time,' said Tshering Pandey Bhote, vice president of Nepal National Mountain Guides Association. 'But most climbers are mentally prepared to come across such a sight.' Some of the dead bodies on the higher altitude sectors of Mount Everest have also served as landmarks for mountaineers. One such waypoint had been the 'green boots' near the summit. They were a reference to a climber who died under an overhanging rock. His green boots, still on his feet, faced the climbing route. Some climbing experts said the body was later removed while Nepal's tourism officials said they had 'no information' on whether the remains are still visible. Recovering and removing bodies from the higher camps can be both expensive and difficult. Experts say it costs between forty and eighty thousand dollars to bring down dead bodies. 'One of the most challenging recoveries was from the height of eight thousand seven hundred metres, near the summit,' said Ang Tshering Sherpa. 'The body was totally frozen and weighed one hundred and fifty kilograms and it had to be recovered from a difficult place at that altitude.' Experts say any decision over what to do with a dead body on the mountain is also a very personal issue. 'Most climbers like to be left on the mountains if they died,' said Alan Arnette, a noted mountaineer who also writes on mountaineering. 'So it would be deemed disrespectful to just remove them unless they need to be moved from the climbing route or their families want them.'
A skeleton thought to be about four thousand years old has been unearthed by builders working at a hotel in rural Northumberland. Work to convert a former stable block at the Tankerville Arms in Wooler was halted when a Bronze Age stone burial chamber - or cist - was discovered. Archaeologists are working to find out the sex of the single skeleton and whether any other remains are nearby.Estimates suggest the cist dates from some time between 2,200BC and 1,750BC. An archaeological team from Northumberland County Council has been called in and police have been informed. But, they're not looking for anyone in connection with the death since, you know, they've been dead for millennia. Local archaeologist Roger Miket, who assisted with the initial excavation, said: 'About four days ago in a development at the Tankerville hotel, they were putting drains in when a digger hit the slab of a stone made coffin called a cist from the early Bronze Age. In moving the slab back one could see the hollow underneath in which a burial had been placed. The cist is formed of four upright stones with the cover slab on top.' Miket added that a 'small, beautifully fashioned flint knife' was found by the legs of the skeleton. 'It would have been a precious item at the time of the burial and was included in the grave for use in the afterlife,' he said. A spokeswoman for the hotel described the find as 'exciting' and said staff were 'working with experts' from council. The hotel was built in the mid-1700s by the then Earl of Tankerville for use by hunting parties.
Archaeologists hope to carry out a fresh dig at what they believe could be the site of a five thousand five hundred-year-old 'mortuary' in Aberdeenshire. The Neolithic enclosure in what is now Aden Country Park may have been used for excarnation, the removal of flesh leaving only bones for burial. This sometimes involved leaving bodies outdoors for scavenging animals. Remains of an enclosure marked by wooden posts and living trees were first found in a dig in November 2018. Archaeologists said this 'exciting, extremely rare discovery' had resulted in the need to carry out a further excavation. They hope to uncover more of the history of the site and confirm the layout of the possible Neolithic structure. The Friends of Aden has started a crowdfunding campaign to help raise a thousand smackers towards the cost of the new dig and associated activities between 24 June and 7 July. Volunteers from the local schools, groups and wider community could be involved in the excavation. Archaeologist Ali Cameron, who has been commissioned by Aberdeenshire Council to lead on archaeology aspects of the project, said last year's dig revealed a larger structure than had been anticipated. She said: 'It is an intriguing enclosure with both posts and living trees and must have been very prominent in the landscape. We are really looking forward to going back to the site in June and finding out more about this site.' Derek Jennings, of the Friends of Aden, said the group had been 'astounded' at the considerable amount of archaeology that was being uncovered at the park. The dig in November was through the Aden Country Park Restoration and Redevelopment Heritage Lottery Fund and the Aden Archaeology Historic Environment Scotland project.
Google has been hit with a one-and-a-half billion Euros fine from the EU for blocking rival online search advertisers. It is the third EU fine for the search and advertising giant in two years. The case accuses Google of abusing its market dominance by restricting third-party rivals from displaying search ads between 2006 and 2016. In response, Google changed its AdSense contracts with large third parties, giving them more leeway to display competing search adverts. Google owner, Alphabet, makes large amounts of money from advertising - pre-tax profits reached over thirty billion Euros in 2018. 'Google has cemented its dominance in online search adverts and shielded itself from competitive pressure by imposing anti-competitive contractual restrictions on third-party websites. This is illegal under EU anti-trust rules,' said EC commissioner Margrethe Vestager. Google's global affairs head, Kent Walker, said: 'We've always agreed that healthy, thriving markets are in everyone's interest. We've already made a wide range of changes to our products to address the Commission's concerns. Over the next few months, we'll be making further updates to give more visibility to rivals in Europe.' Last year, the EU competition authority hit Google with a record four billion Euros fine for using its popular Android mobile operating system to block rivals. This followed a two billion Euros fine in 2017 for hindering rivals of shopping comparison websites. The European Commission said that websites often had an embedded search function. When a consumer uses this, the website delivers both search results and search adverts, which appear alongside the search result. Google's 'AdSense for search' product delivers those adverts for website publishers. The Commission described Google as acting like 'an intermediary, like an advertising broker.' In 2006, Google started to include 'exclusivity clauses' in contracts which stopped publishers from placing ads from Google rivals such as Microsoft and Yahoo on search pages, the Commission said. From 2009, Google started replacing the exclusivity clauses with 'premium placement' clauses, which meant publishers had to keep the most profitable space on their search results pages for Google's adverts and they had to request a minimum number of Google adverts. Publishers also needed to get written permission from Google before making any changes to how rival adverts were displayed, letting Google control 'how attractive, and therefore clicked on, competing search adverts could be,' the Commission said. The restrictive clauses 'led to a vicious circle,' Vestager said in a media conference. 'Google's rivals, they were unable to grow, and to compete, and as a result of that, website owners had limited options for selling advertising space on those websites, and were forced solely to rely on Google,' she said. 'There was no reason for Google to include these restrictive clauses in their contracts, except to keep rivals out of the market,' she added. Between 2006 to 2016, Google had more than seventy per cent of the search intermediation market in the EU. It generally had more than ninety per cent of the search market and more than seventy five per cent of the online search advertising market, the Commission added.
English Defence League founder - and convicted criminal - Tommy Robinson has extremely lost his legal challenge claiming that police had, allegedly, harassed him. Appearing in court under his real name, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, he was asked to move on from a Cambridge pub following a football match in August 2016. He alleged that Cambridgeshire Police had 'targeted' him 'because of his beliefs.' Judge Karen Walden-Smith said that there was 'no evidence' that Yaxley-Lennon was being 'treated differently because of his beliefs about fundamentalist Islam.' His harassment claim was heard at Peterborough County Court. Sergeant Paul Street, who asked Yaxley-Lennon to move on from the pub, told the court that he did not know what Tommy Robinson looked like and thought the name referred to 'an Eighties football hooligan.' He said that he moved Yaxley-Lennon on due to 'intelligence' that he was 'a football supporter likely to cause trouble' and was with a group of other 'risk' individuals. Giving her judgement following a four-day hearing, Walden-Smith said: Yaxley-Lennon 'isn't as well-known as he and his supporters may think.' Walden-Smith ruled that all of his claims, including several under the Human Rights Act, had failed. r Yaxley-Lennon claimed that he had been with his three children, aged between five and nine at the time, 'on a family day out' to see Luton Town play Cambridge United. Alison Gurden, representing the thirty six-year-old, suggested that Sergeant Street 'didn't take into account factors that he should have done. It wasn't necessary as there was nothing to indicate Mister Lennon was likely to become involved in [any] disorder,' she claimed. 'He's there with his children and he's certainly not dressed for a fight, he's in his flip-flops.' She claimed Yaxley-Lennon believed he was 'discriminated against on the grounds of being Tommy Robinson and his beliefs.' When the judge read out her decision, there was a shout of 'the law's an ass' from the public gallery Mr Yaxley-Lennon said that the judgment reflected 'the entire corrupt system.' The judge ordered that Yaxley-Lennon would have to pay twenty grand towards the defendant's costs. Yaxley-Lennon said outside court that he would appeal against the judgement. All, if the entire system is 'corrupt' as Yaxley-Lennon had previously claimed, then that would appear to be a case of throwing good money after bad.
A woman accused of membership of the banned neo-Nazi terror group National Action entered a 'Miss Hitler' beauty contest in a bid to recruit female members, a court has heard. Alice Cutter is alleged to have won the National Action competition using the nickname 'Buchenwald Princess', in reference to the Nazi death camp. Cutter is standing trial alongside her partner, Mark Jones, who is accused of posing for a photograph while giving a Nazi salute in Buchenwald's execution room. Jones and Cutter, from Sowerby Bridge near Halifax, deny being members of National Action between December 2016 and September 2017. Two other men, Garry Jack of Birmingham, and Connor Scothern, of Nottingham, also deny being members of the group between the same dates. Opening the case at Birmingham crown court on Wednesday, prosecutor Barnaby Jameson QC said that Jones flew to Germany to visit the site of the Buchenwald extermination camp in 2016. Jurors were shown a picture of two men standing in the camp's execution room holding a National Action flag. Jameson said: 'Buchenwald was a Nazi concentration camp that stood out, even by the standards of Nazi concentration camps, for its depravity. Like Auschwitz, Buchenwald is a permanent museum to honour the victims and remind the world of the horrors perpetrated in the name of Nazism.' Cutter is alleged to have entered the Miss Hitler beauty contest in June 2016. Jameson described the competition as 'a publicity stunt' to raise the group's profile. The jury was shown a picture alleged to show Cutter wearing a National Action mask, which was posted online. The court heard that in an interview to enter the contest, Cutter said: 'It is important to me that there's a balance of feminine to masculine in the movement - without feminine involvement, what would a movement be? A sad sausage fest with no appeal? Women are the most important figures when it comes to teaching and raising the next generation to be strong and proud. We need to step up, be the lionesses we ought to be and rip apart the hyenas laughing at us as we get raped, beaten, brainwashed and de-feminised en masse. Hyenas have no part in our pride and never will.' Jameson told the jury the defendants were seeking to 'spread terror' from 'an ideology so warped, so extreme and so twisted, its continued existence will be shocking to many of you, if not all.' He added: 'It is the terror of pathological racial prejudice. This case is about a fellowship of hate. A hate so fanatical and a fellowship so defiant that the accused would sooner break the law than break their bonds of hate.' Birmingham Crown Court heard they shared an 'obsession with knives, guns and the ideology of violent ethnic cleansing.' Jameson told the jury Cutter was 'a central spoke in the National Action wheel,' having been photographed giving the Nazi salute on the steps of Leeds Town Hall in May 2016. Jameson said that, in a private chat group with a convicted National Action member, she said that she wanted to 'play football with the head of a Jewish person.' The trial continues.
An Australian senator who reportedly blamed the New Zealand terror attack on Muslim immigration has punched a seventeen-year-old boy after he was egged at an event in Melbourne. Video footage recorded at the event appears to show Fraser Anning, a far-right independent Queensland senator, halfway through a press conference when the teenager cracked an egg over his head while filming with a mobile phone. The senator responded by punching the seventeen-year-old. Really hard. The teenager was then tackled to the ground by Anning’s supporters, given a further punishment beating and held in a chokehold. The boy was later taken away by police and subsequently released without charge. Victoria police are said to be 'investigating the incident.' Anning was criticised on Friday after 'trying to seek attention' by saying the mosque attack in New Zealand 'highlighted a growing fear over an increasing Muslim presence' in Australian and New Zealand communities. Which, of course, it does not or anything even remotely like it. Rather, it highlights that some people - sick, violent right-wing thugs, in the main - are just scum. The Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, said that Anning's comments blaming the Islamic community for the shooting were 'appalling and ugly and they have no place in Australia.' Or, indeed, anywhere else where people have a moral compass. The prime minister announced that the government would 'censure' Anning. The Australian Labor [sic] Party leader, Bill Shorten, said that Anning was 'chasing a headline. I do wonder if he's made Australians less safe overseas,' he said. 'That's another reason not to give this fool any more oxygen.'
Cadbury has withdrawn an advertising campaign urging children to dig for treasure after archaeologists said that it encouraged people to break the law. The campaign on its website called on children to 'grab a metal detector' and dig holes looking for gold or treasure. Doctor Aisling Tierney, of Bristol University, said it was 'intensely stupid' and people could be prosecuted for digging without permission. Cadbury confirmed it had removed the campaign web page. Doctor Tierney welcomed the U-turn, but said that Cadbury 'is sorely lacking in understanding the gravity of the problem. They have grasped that their content promoted "breaking the rules" but actually, it was the rule of law.' She said that she hoped the company 'learns from this experience and take the opportunity to develop something better that will respect heritage.' Historic England said: 'There are strict rules that protect England's archaeological heritage, including laws governing use of metal detectors. We are glad to see the campaign website is no longer live and would be happy to advise Cadbury to make sure any future campaign doesn't have unwelcome results.' Cadbury claimed that the campaign was aimed at 'inspiring' families 'to go on everyday adventures together.' And, buy more chocolate, obviously. It said: 'It was not our intention to encourage anyone to break existing regulations regarding the discovery of new archaeological artefacts and we are grateful this matter has been brought to our attention. We can now confirm that the webpage has been taken down and we are updating the content to focus solely on directing families to museums where existing treasures can be found.'
Swiss scientists have reportedly discovered that playing music during the cheese-making process 'might have an impact' on how it will taste. Then again, it might not. Nine wheels of Emmental cheese, weighing ten kilograms each, were placed in separate wooden crates last September. They were played different types of music from classical, rock and techno to hip-hop. Scientists used mini-transmitters to conduct the energy of the music into the cheese. A panel of people then decided what impact it had on flavour and smell. The whole process was carried out twice. The hip-hop sample topped the list. Now the researchers have got plans to do more tests on how hip-hop music works on cheese.
A new coin combines two German favourites: cash and bratwurst with curry sauce. This combination can be yours for just thirteen dollars, thanks to the Staatliche Münze Berlin, a mint based in Berlin which produces twenty per cent of all Germany's Euro coins. The mint has just released a commemorative coin celebrating seventy years of currywurst, on sale for numismatists and sausage fans alike. Some two thousand five hundred are available for purchase. The coin celebrates seven decades since Königsberg-born housewife Herta Heuwer first opened up a sausage stall in West Berlin. In September 1949, according to legend, it was a quiet day and she had time to experiment, mixing sweet peppers, paprika, tomato ketchup, and curry powder, then serving the resulting sauce hot over a sliced, fried bratwurst. In doing so, she invented a Berlin classic - and a cult sensation for cash-strapped students, drunk punters and hordes of tourists alike. Some eight hundred million currywursts are eaten in Germany each year, according to the Berlin Currywurst Museum: it is alleged to be a particular favourite of the current chancellor, Angela Merkel and her predecessor, Gerhard Schröder. Heuwer died in 1999, taking the particularities of her recipe with her. She is said to have kept it a secret even from her husband. The stall itself continued to grow, having nineteen employees at its height, before closing in the 1970s. That hasn't stopped hundreds of other sausage stands and beer halls across the world from taking a stab at the currywurst, however, with some of Berlin's most upmarket versions retailing for more than the cost of the coin commemorating the dish's invention - and, served with a glass of champagne.
A welfare scheme offering emergency financial support to England's poorest families is no longer available in a host of council areas, research shows. Church Action on Poverty said that the amount of Local Welfare Assistance cash has slumped from one hundred and seventy two million knicker to forty six million since 2013. It has ended completely in more than twenty of one hundred and fifty three areas surveyed. Only two councils - Islington and North Tyneside - have increased funding. Similar research by the Children's Society claims the number of people getting crisis support has fallen seventy five per cent since 2013. It estimates more than a quarter of almost one hundred thousand applications turned down last year were from families with children. Local Welfare Assistance Schemes replaced the national Social Fund in 2013, with responsibility for distributing cash passing to English local councils. The government - shamefully - stopped providing a ring-fenced grant for the schemes in 2015. Both Scotland and Wales still run national social funds, with the Scottish Welfare Fund distributing grants of almost one hundred and sixty five million notes between April 2013 and March 2018. Niall Cooper, director of Church Action on Poverty, said: 'A compassionate society ensures people can access help in times of crisis. That's what the Social Fund was there for; to help people stay afloat in turbulent times. The lifeline has been allowed to disintegrate, meaning people in sudden need are swept deeper into poverty.' Local welfare schemes are aimed at people in short-term crisis - offering support at times such as a sudden bereavement, a broken boiler, or having to move out of a rented home. Devon County Council passed 1.4 million smackers on to its eight district authorities in 2013-14, but by 2016 five had cut their support. Among them was South Hams District Council, which said it had closed the scheme 'when funding ran out.' Janie Moor, the chief officer of Citizens Advice for South Hams, said that the focus was now 'keeping a roof over someone's head' through alternative funding schemes such as Discretionary Housing Payments and council tax payments. One - anonymous - CAB advisor 'with fifteen years of experience' in South Hams snitched that losing the LWAS has 'caused a lot of problems.'She added: 'A lump sum was allocated at the beginning of the [financial] year so we knew that if we made an application for a client in April or May we had a good chance of getting something, but if it was in February the money would have run out. You were always expected to get second-hand stuff, but it was better than nothing.' In response, senior councillor Hilary Bastone said: 'We continue to do our best to help wherever we can, within our limited budget.' Church Action on Poverty questioned one hundred and sixty three councils in 2018, receiving responses from one hundred and fifty three. It found more than twenty English councils had closed their funds, including Bexley, Bournemouth, Haringey, Hillingdon, North East Lincolnshire, Stoke-on-Trent, Oxfordshire, Nottinghamshire, North Lincolnshire and Nottingham. In Greenwich, the Local Democracy Reporting Service revealed a plan to scrap the scheme was reversed last month when councillors decided to use higher-than-expected business rate income to maintain the fund. Church Action on Poverty is now calling on councils to maintain or strengthen their crisis support, while also asking for new laws to force authorities to provide grants, loans and in-kind help when people need it. In Lincolnshire, where LWAS support ran dry in December 2016, the county council said support had continued 'in other ways.' Sue Woolley, executive councillor for community engagement, claimed: 'This year, as well as providing two hundred and seventy eight thousand pounds in core funding for the Citizen's Advice service, we have provided one-off additional funding of fifty three thousand pounds to provide additional support relating to welfare reform, including Universal Credit.' But Simon Hoare, chief executive of Lincoln's Acts Trust, a charity which runs a furniture project and offers financial advice, said that even though charities and local groups tried to meet the basic needs such as food and furniture there were 'still gaps in support.' He said: 'The issue hasn't gone away. People don't suddenly no longer need crisis support.' Local Government Minister Rishi Sunak MP sneered: 'Local authorities are democratically-elected, independent bodies that are responsible for setting their own budgets and managing their resources in line with local priorities, which can include Local Welfare Provision Schemes.' Well, thanks for that, mate, that was really helpful.
A senior member of Matteo Salvini's Italian far-right League party who is an outspoken critic of Italy's mandatory vaccination rules has been treated in hospital after contracting chickenpox. Massimiliano Fedriga, president of the North Eastern Fruili-Venezia Giulia region, recently announced that he spent four days 'under observation' in a medical facility after being diagnosed with the virus last week. 'I'm fine, I'm at home in convalescence and I thank everyone,' he wrote on social media following his discharge. Fedriga has been a vocal opponent of Italy's decision to introduce mandatory childhood vaccinations against twelve diseases, including chickenpox. The legislation, introduced following a measles outbreak in 2017, prevents unvaccinated children from attending nursery or pre-school and imposes heavy fines on parents who fail to immunise school-age children. During his time serving as the League's head of the chamber of deputies in the Italian parliament, Fedriga had argued that parents should not be 'coerced' into vaccinating their children. In one interview, he described the Democratic Party, the largest member of the then-ruling coalition government, as 'Stalinist' for attempting to 'impose' the policy on the public. Writing on Facebook, Fedriga insisted he was not a supporter of the 'anti-vax' movement, members of which avoid immunising their children - often due to unsubstantiated safety fears. Or, because they are bloody stupid. Or, both. 'I'm reading a series of celebratory comments on Twitter because I've been hospitalised,' he whinged. 'I have always said that I am in favour of vaccines, but to achieve the result it is necessary to have an alliance with families not imposition. They even said I would get chickenpox from my children, not knowing that my children are vaccinated, as I have stated in interviews.' Vaccinations have in recent years become a contentious issue in Italian politics. The League’s coalition partners in government, the Five Star Movement, which also opposes compulsory immunisation, has been accused by opponents of enabling anti-vaxxers. Roberto Burioni, a prominent Italian doctor who runs the website MedicalFacts, said that the incident 'served as a warning to adults' to ensure they were vaccinated. 'Dear President, first of all let me wish you a speedy recovery,' he wrote on Facebook. 'I'm glad you vaccinated your children. [Fedriga], like many adults, did not get vaccinated. If he had been vaccinated as an adult he would be in perfect health. If he had infected a pregnant woman we would be facing a malformed child or an abortion. The only way we have to avoid such tragedies is to vaccinate us all to prevent the circulation of this dangerous virus, which could have hit a much more vulnerable person.'
Pictures of a giant, odd-looking - and, you know, dead - fish have 'gone viral' after it washed up on a beach in South Australia. Identified as an ocean sunfish by experts, the six foot-long specimen was first spotted by a group of fishermen driving along the sand. At first, they mistook it for a large piece of driftwood, said Linette Grzelak who posted pictures of her partner's find on Facebook. 'I didn't think it was real until I Googled sunfish,' she told the BBC. Her partner, Steven Jones has worked as a fisherman for years so he 'knew what it was but had never seen one in real life,' she said. 'Hence why they took the photos. He said it was extremely heavy and the skin was rough and leathery like a rhinoceros.' The fish was found at Coorong National Park, fifty miles South of Adelaide. It is believed to have later washed back into the ocean, Grzelak said. Ocean sunfish, or Mola mola, are the world's heaviest bony fish species and can be found in temperate marine waters globally, according to the 'Fishes of Australia' database. Their features include a large, blunt head, a disproportionately small mouth and long dorsal and anal fins. One expert said that the found fish appeared to be 'a smaller example' of its species, which can grow over four metres tall and weigh more than two-and-a-half tonnes. 'It's probably an average-sized one, they can get nearly twice as big as that,' Ralph Foster from the South Australian Museum told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The species are harmless to people, but are sometimes mistaken for sharks when they swim inshore, says the Australian Museum. In Australia, they have been known to cause damage to boats due to their size. Last year, a vessel in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht race had to retire after hitting a sunfish and breaking its rudder. Earlier this month, a rare hoodwinker sunfish washed up on a beach in California. It baffled scientists who questioned how the Southern hemisphere species had travelled so far from its home waters.
It really does look uncannily like the goldfish in The Singing-Ringing Tree though, doesn't it?
In Texas, a twenty eight-year-old man is currently behind bars after police say he was caught having The Sex ... with a cow. On Friday, Jose Nino was extremely arrested after the Starr County Sheriff's Office was called to the Starr-Hidalgo county line in relation to an alleged bestiality case. As deputies arrived, they met with border patrol agents who said they witnessed a man having The Sex with a cow. Nino, a Mexican national, was later identified and detained. He was charged with bestiality and given a fifteen hundred dollar bond before being released to the custody of border patrol.
The man who was charged with dipping his testicles in a customer's salsa apparently still thinks the prank was funny. Howard Matthew Webb laughed on Tuesday when he pleaded extremely guilty in Tennessee to a charge of misdemeanour assault and/or 'offensive touching.' The thirty one-year-old was reportedly 'scolded' by Blount County General Sessions Court judge Robert Headrick after giggling during his plea. 'What are you laughing about, Mister Webb?' Headrick demanded to know, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel. 'There is nothing about this situation I find cute or funny. It's abhorrent!' Webb was arrested last month and initially charged with the 'felony adulteration of food' after a Mexican food delivery driver posted a video of him online, apparently putting his scrotum into the salsa. 'This is what you get when you give an eighty nine cent tip for an almost thirty minute drive,' the driver can be heard saying in the fourteen-second clip. 'Oh, oh, it feels good,' can then be heard. The driver for the delivery company, Dinner Delivered, has been very fired but not charged with a crime. The customer was refunded for their meal after the video went viral on Facebook, leading to the charges. Webb was given a six-month suspended sentence and placed on probation. He is also required to attend ninety drug and alcohol counselling sessions and pay a ten dollar fine plus court costs.
Each year in March, residents and visitors of the Aichi Prefecture in Japan flock to Komaki, North of Nagoya, to celebrate the phallus as part of The Penis Festival – also known as Honen-sai. The purpose is to wish fertility to loved ones by throwing a massive festival packed with all manner of penis-like objects. Dong statues, cream-filled cakes shaped like massive members, throbbing monsters paraded through the streets, the works. Visitors can pray to the many structures in hopes of having a child, meeting someone nice, or simply having a bountiful harvest. It's about fertility in all of its forms, with the bell-end as a potent symbol of such fertility. The festival begins each year on 15 March at Tagata shrine, where priests have salted the road to purify the path for those carrying large penises. Then, the largest wooden cock, crafted each year from finest Japanese cypress, is carried through the streets by a group of - one imagines, rather jealous - men. This wanger can be incredibly hefty, weighing upwards of four hundred kilograms and with a circumference of more than one hundred centimetres - so, that'd be bigger than average, then - and is the one to which most tributes and prayers are paid. Lucky guests are able to give the wooden penis a kiss on the tip or a right good stroke. Once that is done, the parade begins, featuring more penis tributes, followed by a street party with snacks, sake and souvenirs. And, of course, the food is all penis shaped too, as are most of the souvenirs. Chocolate dipped banana, uncircumcised hot dogs and artfully designed dong-shaped pancakes. Tasty.
A succinct, two-section bill introduced this week in the Georgia General Assembly would make men aged fifty five and older self-report each and every time they ejaculate immediately, to the nearest law enforcement agency. HB 604, which was introduced Monday, according to its progress tracker on the General Assembly website, would require such men to 'immediately report to the county sheriff or local law enforcement agency when such male releases sperm from his testicles.' The bill was reportedly sponsored by five female Democratic state representatives, including Dar'shun Kendrick. Kendrick, from the Atlanta suburb of Lithonia, tweeted a separate, but related, proposal on Twitter under the umbrella of what she calls her 'testicular bill of rights' legislation. The 'testicular bill of rights' had been re-tweeted more than four thousand times and 'started a conversation' including more than two thousand three hundred replies as of Wednesday afternoon. Most of them being, essentially, 'what the fuck ...?' notwithstanding. 'You want some regulation of bodies and choice? Done!' Kendrick tweeted, along with a screenshot of an e-mail listing several points to be included in the legislation which, she says, she 'expects on her desk' at the end of the week. The bullet points include a ban on vasectomies, forcing men to obtain written permission from their sexual partners before obtaining a prescription for an erectile dysfunction medication and making sex without a condom punishable under law as 'aggravated assault.' The point of it all is not to 'push an anti-male agenda,' Kendrick claimed, according to Rolling Stone. She admitted that the likelihood of her 'testicular bill of rights' passing the Georgia Assembly is 'not high' (no shit?!) But, she told the magazine that her point was to 'bring awareness to the fact that if you're going to legislate our bodies then we have every right to propose legislation to regulate yours.' That statement positions her 'testicular bill of rights' and HB 604 as a response to HB 481, which was recently passed by the Georgia House and would make abortion illegal in Georgia after the point at which a doctor can measure a fetus' heartbeat, which is usually at about six weeks into a pregnancy. 'This bill helps men who are well past reproductive age to self-report when they wilfully engage in conception,' Representative Park Cannon of Atlanta, one of HB 604's co-sponsors, said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Kendrick wrote an Op-Ed piece for Newsweek on Tuesday under the headline, You want our wombs? We're coming for your testicles. In it, she rebrands HB 481 as the 'Women's Womb Takeover' bill. Kendrick has represented Georgia's Ninety Third District in the Assembly since she was elected in 2010 at age twenty seven, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. HB 604 was co-sponsored by Cannon, Renitta Shannon, Donna McLeod and Sandra Scott.
A nineteen-year-old Oklahoma man has been accused of gunning down his parents because he believed they were 'sending him messages telepathically and they were Satan worshipers,' court documents allege. Michael Elijah Walker, of Edmond, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the slayings of Michael Logan Walker and Rachael May Walker, according to Oklahoma County Jail records. Elijah Walker's sister, Ashten West, claimed on her Facebook page that her brother is schizophrenic. 'Mental illness is real and it is devastating. He was not and has not been in the right state of mind for a few years now,' West wrote. 'I will always love him no matter what. He is a victim as well.' Edmond police officials confirmed that investigators are looking into Elijah Walker's mental state.
A family have reportedly called their newborn Lucifer. Lucifer rivals another Biblical name chosen in Scotland in 2018 - a baby called Messiah. Of the more than forty seven thousand babies born in Scotland in 2018, some of the poor little bastards got lumbered with names like Awesome, Nun, Royalty and Pepper the Sun reported. And, this constitutes 'news', seemingly. Edinburgh Council's Karen Watson told the numbskull tabloid: 'There aren't really any rules around names. It's a case of people can call their babies whatever they like.' She added: 'To be perfectly honest, names now are actually pretty normal and there are only one or two that go a wee bit different. As long, as it's not offensive we don't get involved in what they are calling their baby.' Olivia was Scotland's most popular girl's name, while Jack topped the boy's table for an eleventh year. Lucifer comes from the Latin name for the planet Venus - the morning star - and was later applied to a Hebrew translation which referred to the King of Babylon as the 'shining one.' The interpretation led the name to become synonymous with stories of Satan's fall from Heaven.
A beer festival will be allowed to go ahead this summer in a redundant Shrewsbury church despite threats to boycott it. Concerns had been raised about plans to hold the Shrewsbury & West Shropshire Campaign for Real Ale Festival at The Church of St Mary the Virgin in July. Albeit, not by anyone that actually, you know, matters. Despite 'a number of people' whinging the plans at a public meeting last week, the Churches Conservation Trust has decided to proceed with the festival. It said that 'after careful consideration,' they had decided to go ahead with the event, with 'additional safety measures' to 'protect the fabric of the building.' CCT head of region North, Judith Patrick, said: 'At the public meeting there was a general support from the community regarding involvement and engagement within St Mary's. We welcome this and any additional support in raising vital funds for the ongoing repairs and maintenance costs.' About four hundred thousand knicker needs to be raised to keep St Mary's open to the public and Judith said that events like the beer festival are 'an ideal way' to raise funds. But a former steward at the church, David John, told the public meeting that he would be 'forced to boycott' the festival if the CCT allowed it to take place in the consecrated building.  Not that he'd been invited in the first place. Norrie Porter, from Shrewsbury's branch of CAMRA, said that the group is 'delighted' with the decision.
Sheriff's officials in Macon County, Alabama, have released mug shots of Mama June Shannon and her boyfriend, who were both extremely arrested last week on charges of drug possession and domestic violence. Shannon, who became infamous via Toddlers & Tiaras and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo on TLC and WeTV's Mama June: From Not to Hot, was very arrested with Eugene Geno Doak last Wednesday at a gas station near Tuskegee, after law officers responded to a domestic-violence call, according to, which cited arrest records. Doak has been charged with misdemeanour domestic violence and both face charges of felony possession of drugs and misdemeanour possession of drug paraphernalia after allegedly being found with crack cocaine and a pipe. Doak allegedly told Shannon that he was going to kill her, according to documents obtained by the TMZ website. The two have been dating for about three years, the site said and were spotted together at a casino in Wetumpka on Saturday, despite Doak being ordered to stay away from Shannon.
A man whom police claim 'terrorised' Detroit women by grabbing their bottoms then running off is now safely behind bars, according to Marquette County Prosecuting Attorney Matthew Wiese. Caleb Anderson was charged on Friday with 'multiple counts of criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree,' police said. Anderson is accused of going up to women, grabbing their buttocks and then, quickly, running away cackling. Yes, just like Benny Hill in The Italian Job. He is, also, accused of 'being a very naughty man.' The incidents occurred in Marquette, including on the campus of Northern Michigan University. The case is a joint investigation between the Marquette Police Department and the Northern Michigan University Police Department. According to WPBN-TV, the investigation began in January after police 'started receiving reports of assault.'
A former dogger has 'spoken out in support' of the 'minority sport' and 'revealed his favourite memories of The Public Sex activity.' The man, 'who wishes to remain anonymous,' claims that he started dogging in his early thirties. Speaking to the Liverpool Echo he 'slammed prudes' (that's tabloidese for 'criticised' only with less syllables) who stereotype doggers as 'mac-wearing perverts.' No, obviously, they take their macs off when having The Sex. He claims that the activity 'should not be a problem' for non-doggers. He said: 'In the main, doggers are not mac-wearing perverts, or social misfits. Many drive nice cars, have regular jobs and live in suburbia. They are the type of people who live next door to you or work with you. What they all have in common is that they are turned on by the thrill of having The Sex in public. There really is no one stereotype. They are of all ages, shapes, sizes and backgrounds. I never came across an instance where a couple didn't insist on condoms being worn - those involved in the scene practice safe sex. This is not a social scourge that is causing distress to unsuspecting locals. It is a minority sport, taking place at remote beauty spots away from residential areas, mainly late at night. I understand why it mightn't float most people's boat but the prudes shouldn't be allowed to spoil the fun for others because of their own sexual hang-ups.' And, this constitutes 'news', apparently.
A terrible accident or a terribly imperfect crime? Police and prosecutors in Slovenia are trying to determine the truth after a twenty one-year-old woman cut off her hand with a circular saw in January this year. Her family claim that it was an accident; that she was sawing branches from a tree when 'the saw slipped.' However, she is being accused of insurance fraud by investigators in Ljubljana. The woman had previously taken out five different insurance policies in the months before her injury and had only made two-to-three monthly payments for them, police told ABC News. Altogether, for her injury, she would have received four hundred and thirty thousand dollars and monthly payments of over three thousand dollars for ten years with smaller monthly payments thereafter. However, she has not received anything to date and is currently being detained by The Fuzz. The woman was unemployed and 'had no other source of income,' according to authorities. She and her twenty nine-year-old relative, who is also being detained, could face one-to-eight years in The Slammer if convicted of insurance fraud. 'With one of her accomplices, she intentionally amputated her left hand, hoping to stage it as an accident,' Ljubljana police spokesman Valter Zrinski said. Zrinski added that investigators first learned of the alleged fraud 'through routine system checks,' which lead to about one hundred arrests each year 'for different kinds of insurance fraud.' After the woman's hand was severed, her family took her to Ljubljana University Medical Centre without the hand in what police claim was 'an attempt to make sure her disability was permanent.' However, upon her admission into the hospital, doctors called police - per Slovene law - and they were able to retrieve the hand. Surgeons subsequently sewed it back on. 'Her hand,' Zrinski said, 'is recovering well.' Unlike her immediate prospects.
A man in New Jersey reportedly tried to board a city bus whilst dragging an ATM machine with him. According to a forty seven-second video obtained by NJ Transit, a man was spotted possessing, then twirling and pushing, a money dispensing machine toward a bus stopped to take on passengers. Once he reaches the vehicle's entrance, the man yells: 'I'll split it with you' to the driver. A female voice is heard saying: 'No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no' in response. The doors then close, leaving the person and the ATM at the curbside. 'Are you going to do this to me?' he says. 'For real?' Before the bus departs, the man pleads with the driver once more: 'We could have made money together!' Within a few hours, NJ Transit deleted the tweet. The agency also shared a statement about the social media post. 'We asked our customers to caption in video - however we did not stage, post or film this so we have no context around the posted video,' NJ Transit said. Newark Police is said to be investigating the incident.
A wife mercilessly beat her husband after finding out that he was drinking. The husband had allegedly failed to give his wife money for food and family upkeeping. According to the description given by the witness who recorded the event, the woman assaulted her husband because he had not given her money for their children's food. The event occurred in Iquitos, Peru and was captured by the witness via his smartphone. The video was then shared on Facebook by Jorge Marcelo Leon and it has - inevitably - 'gone viral.' This is the Twenty First Century,dear blog reader, what else did you expect? In the video clip, the wife throws her husband - who was sitting in a bar - to the ground and then starts hitting him with a wooden chair. A geet rive on follows with the punching and the kicking and the screaming and all that.
A man accidentally shot himself after he threw his gun at a cockroach in an attempt to squash the insect, police have said. The unnamed fifty-year-old man told police in Detroit that he tried to kill the insect on Tuesday morning by throwing a shoe at it, only for a revolver hidden inside the shoe - to go off and send a bullet flying in his direction. After throwing his sneaker at the cockroach, the man's gun allegedly fell out and fired, striking him in the foot. Authorities said the man was taken to a local hospital and was in stable condition following the incident. It is unclear whether he ended up successfully squashing the cockroach or not. Detroit Police Department says that it has 'not been able to confirm the man's version of events.' This is not the first time that Detroit has seen an injury caused by someone who, allegedly, went to extreme lengths to kill an insect. In January 2016, a man was reportedly badly burned after he tried to light bedbugs on fire in his apartment. He doused his infested furniture with alcohol and lit a cigarette, which he used to try to burn one of the tiny bugs, but he ended up extremely burning the couch - and himself. The incident also destroyed four apartment units and caused water damage in more than twenty other units.
Putting your life online can be wonderful for building a community and sharing experiences. However, it also leaves you vulnerable to cruel comments. As this blogger is well aware (yes, you know who you are). Sometimes the unpleasantness can be brushed off and ignored. Other times it hits a nerve. Mother-of-six, Krechelle Carter, has found this out for herself. Krechelle, from Australia, has been sharing some of the most horrific abuse which she has received from Interweb trolls, including being told her 'vagina must be a train wreck.' Mind you, this is all according to that bastion of truthful and accurate reportage the Daily Mirra so there's a chance it could be a load of old toot. 'The hateful comment came courtesy of a man called Michael, who'd messaged the Eight At Home blogger on her Facebook page,' state the Mirra's Social Audience Editor, Zahra Mulroy. That would be 'who had', Zahra, not 'who'd'. Where did you go to journalism school? Anyway, the message read: 'You have absolutely no credibility. Also your vag must be a train wreck. The quality of life your kids are going to have in the future is gonna be just terrible.' Nice. Tragically, as with most people who contact bloggers to tell them everything they are doing wrong, Michael did not include a detailed CV of his own, no doubt World Class, contributions to society. In the wake of this crass - and, somewhat ludicrous - bullying, Krechelle made a heartfelt statement on Instagram writing: 'Bullying. Man oh man; It has to stop. I just want to make one thing very clear - no form of bullying should be tolerated. People are loosing [sic[ their lives. We're actually loosing people because of this. So when does it stop?' As for Michael specifically, Krechelle then aimed a response at his comments: 'My vagina is perfectly intact by the way because of C-sections. Even if I had of had them out my hoo-hah it would be even more the beautifuler [sic] for it. I've had six babies cut out of my stomach while I was awake - I'm straight up-baller.' She continued: 'My children are perfectly fine - we eat broccoli and have craft supplies somewhere and we let them run around enough and cut bed time stories in half like all good parents do. We're just your average fucking family. As for my obesity. Yep it's true I'm obese, have been up and down my whole adult life. Give me six months to recover from all this bullshit and we'll race.' Needless to say, Krechelle standing up for herself and slapping down this worthless puddle of phlegm quickly garnered a lot of attention and praise from others in the online community. Of course, it's worth remembering, dear blog reader, that there are many good people in the world. There are, also, some bad people. Most of us, however, are somewhere in the middle, just trying to get through life with as little fuss as possible. And then, dear blog reader, there are some people who are just, simply, scum.
A North Carolina thrift shop recently sold a thousand dollar hand-carved furniture set which came with a warning of 'haunting activity' reported by its previous owners. The staff at Habitat for Humanity, a thrift shop in Salisbury, felt that the haunting activity reported by the previous owners of a queen canopy bed-frame and highboy chest of drawers was something which they needed to disclose to any potential buyers. 'Actually a lot of people are interested because it's haunted, supposedly,' Elizabeth Brady, the Store Operations Director, told FOX46. 'Our donations manager asked about these pieces and he was told "you don't want those, they're haunted," and he said "well, now I definitely want them!"' According to Brady, the previous owners of the furniture set had bought it years ago, but 'started experiencing creepy nightmares' the moment they brought it into their home. The couple's dogs would not stop barking at the queen canopy bed and chest of drawers, so they took the items out of their bedroom after a week. 'From the time they brought it in, they had continuous nightmares, the dogs wouldn't quit barking and finally, on the seventh night in there, he had a lot of trouble waking his wife up from sleep,' Brady said. 'We are a Christian ministry, we don't say we believe in ghosts or don't, but I have trouble selling this to someone not disclosing that. I would want to know as a customer.' A local couple was, seemingly, glad to pay the thousand bucks price and acquire the furniture in their home, adding that they 'don't really care' if it's haunted or whether this story is a complete and total invented load of old toot.
A 'hardened criminal' from Sheffield who stashed mobile phones that he smuggled into a Doncaster prison up his bottom has been 'hauled before the courts.' Graham Moore, has reportedly spent 'most of the last fifteen years' in The Joint; receiving a fifteen year sentence for robbery and firearms offences in 2003, before being jailed for another eight-and-a-half years in 2015 for further firearms offences. Another year was subsequently added to his sentence in 2017, after prison officers at HMP Lindholme found that he had secreted a mobile phone up his ringpiece in June 2016. Prosecutor Neil Coxon told Sheffield Crown Court that Moore had admitted committing identical offences in April and May of last year, whilst he was a prisoner at HMP Moorland. 'The defendant was the sole occupant of his cell. Officers attended on 11 April 2018 and the defendant was asked whether he had anything that he shouldn't have. He provided a response to the negative. He was asked to squat and a mobile phone was found secreted between his butt cheeks,' said Coxon. Coxon said that officers carried out another search on 9 May and another mobile phone was found up his Gary Glitter. Officers continued to search his cell and another phone was found in his dressing gown pocket. Moore was subsequently charged with three counts of possession of contraband electronic devices in prison and the court proceedings were still pending when he was released from his nine-and-a-half year sentence in January this year. The Recorder of Sheffield, Judge Jeremy Richardson QC, said Moore should have been sentenced before his release from prison and 'the inevitable consecutive sentence' he received would have pushed his release date back. Moore, who has an extensive criminal record of seventy one offences from nineteen convictions, pleaded extremely guilty to the charges at an earlier hearing. Rebecca Tanner, defending, said Moore was a 'career criminal and, after serving lengthy sentences, he now presents as a man who is showing the signs of real change.' Tanner said Moore has found employment since his release from prison and asked Judge Richardson whether it would be possible to defer or adjourn sentence to see whether he continues to make the same progress. Judge Richardson said he felt deferring sentence until 18 July was 'a risk worth taking,' but he warned Moore that should he re-offend during that time he would not only serve the rest of his license period, which expires in 2023, but he would also receive an additional sentence for his most recent set of offences. He said: 'I is important to record that this is a wholly exceptional course of action. Ordinarily, I would not contemplate taking a step such as this for a person such as you. There are a wholly unusual set of circumstances here, not least the fact a hardened criminal seems to be taking steps towards redemption and rehabilitation.' Judge Richardson added that in addition to punishment, another important function of the courts is to rehabilitate offenders where possible. He said he was 'throwing Moore a lifeline' and if he did not take it and was to re-offend during the next four months he would be the 'architect of his own destruction. If you step out of line once, back to jail you will go as soon as night follows day, you will remain in jail until 2023,' added Judge Richardson.
A police officer has admitted assaulting a child by repeatedly pouring water over their head. West Yorkshire Police Detective Sgt Mark Horwell and Claire Wallace of Northumbria Police, had previously denied child cruelty. Appearing at Newcastle Crown Court, those charges were dropped and Horwell admitted common assault. He was fined three hundred notes. The pair had been suspended from their respective forces. The court heard the decorated counter-terrorism officer with twenty years' service will 'inevitably lose his job' over the assault, which occurred in August 2017. The prosecution decided not to bring further charges against Wallace.
A former Coronation Street director who had sexual conversations with what he thought was a thirteen-year-old girl has been given a two-year community order. Tim Dowd, of Harrogate, had 'intimate online chats' with a police officer who was posing as a teenager in January 2018. Dowd reportedly talked to the officer who was pretending to be a teen named Chantelle. He denied four child sex offences but was found guilty at Leeds Crown Court on 1 March. Dowd asked 'Chantelle' to engage in phone sex with him and to send images of her naked breasts, jurors were told. He also quizzed her on whether she had ever slept with an older man. The former TV director, who also worked on Emmerdale and Heartbeat during a thirty-year career, carried on talking despite repeatedly being told she was thirteen, prosecutors explained. Dowd interacted with an online user Chantelle13Cymru, who was an undercover officer, before contacting her on WhatsApp, the court heard. Dowd was convicted of three counts of attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity and one charge of attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child, over a four-day period in 2018. Sentencing him, Judge Rodney Jameson QC said: 'It is unfortunate that even at the age of sixty six you are tormented by your own sexual desires.' Dowd had claimed in his defence that he believed he was talking to was an adult pretending to be underage as part of a sexual fantasy. But, the court didn't buy it. Saffman, defending Dowd, told the court his client had been guilty of 'foolish behaviour' but he had 'shown no intent' to engage in further sexual conversation with the web user.
Two men convicted of grooming and abusing girls showed 'remarkable stupidity' by trying to smuggle drugs into prison during their trial. Naveed Akhtar reportedly hid a parcel of mini-mobile phones and opioid tablets in a Bradford Crown Court toilet for Fahim Iqbal to pick up and take to HMP Leeds. The court heard that a dock officer found the package in a toilet roll dispenser. Iqbal and Akhtar were both extremely sentenced to a further five months in The Slammer. Iqbal is serving seven years for aiding and abetting rape and Akhtar seventeen years for rape following a trial in February. The drugs hearing was told the grooming trial was temporarily halted on 4 February for police to investigate two packages containing cannabis, opioid tablets and miniature mobile phones. The second package was found under a chair in the dock. Akhtar, who was on bail at the time, asked to go to the toilet during the trial and Iqbal, a serving prisoner, asked to go after him - resulting in a suspicious dock officer carrying out a search. Andrew Dallas, defending Iqbal, said it was 'widely known' on a HMP Leeds prison wing that Iqbal was being transported to court every day and he had been promised cannabis in return for carrying out the drugs plot. Sentencing at the same court, Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC told the pair they had executed the plan 'with remarkable stupidity and, quite possibly, some degree of pressure, under the noses of dock officers and myself. How on earth you thought you could get this into [HMP Leeds] I do not know,' he said. 'It was an irritating, vexing and seriously stupid matter and, as counsel has said, it was doomed to failure.' The pair previously admitted two counts of drugs offences and a single count relating to their attempt to smuggle mobile phones.
The policing of badger culling cost taxpayers more than three million smackers last year, new figures show. The government has allowed culling in thirty two areas across ten counties in England to tackle Bovine tuberculosis. Devon and Cornwall Police spent the most of any force at eight hundred thousand knicker followed by Cheshire Police's just over four hundred and eighty thousand quid bill. A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs claimed that the 'average cost' of policing has 'declined significantly.' One or two people even believed him. He claimed that Bovine TB 'is the greatest animal health threat to the UK and costs taxpayers more than one hundred million pounds each year.' Police forces are paid for the work by DEFRA, which released figures showing over thirty two thousand badgers were assassinated in 2018. The government is also considering 'other methods of eradication.' Gas chambers, perhaps? Cheshire West and Chester Council approved a badger vaccination programme last November, while a 'volunteer-run' Cheshire Badger Vaccination Programme is also in operation. The government's been awarding licences to cull badgers, usually to groups of local farmers, since 2013. Since then the cull has spread across England as licences have been extended. But the practice is extremely controversial with patrols of campaigners protesting against it or trying to stop it and police are often called in. Officers are asked to investigate allegations of wildlife crime as well as violence and intimidation from both sides. For those who've protested against the cull for the last six years, the policing cost is thought of as a huge waste of money. And, for those backing the cull, it is a necessary way of facilitating the fight against what the government says is 'the greatest animal health threat to the UK.' A spokesman for campaign group Wounded Badger Patrol said that he saw 'at first-hand the extensive police operation,' which 'is a very wasteful use of local taxpayers' money. This is all very expensive police time and equipment being used to police a deeply unpopular, unethical, unscientific and ineffective cull.' He said there is 'now a fully-functioning vaccination programme' and 'absolutely no need for farmers and landowners to sign up to culling badgers.' A DEFRA spokesman said: 'Our comprehensive strategy to eradicate it includes tighter cattle movement controls, more cattle testing and badger control in areas where the disease is rife.'
A day-old foal was rescued by firefighters after it became trapped down a mine shaft in a field in County Durham. The foal, which has not yet been named, had plunged down the hole in a field near Medomsley. Three crews from Consett and Bishop Auckland widened the hole and used a winch to raise the terrified foal. Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service posted on Facebook that the rescue had been 'an awesome effort.' It said: 'Less than twenty four hours old and yet to be named the foal was then reunited with her very relieved mother. Once she had been checked over by a vet they were both released back to into the field. An awesome effort from everyone involved.' The foal was said to be a bit shaken and 'feeling a little hoarse.' Come on!
A man from Arizona was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of bestiality involving a cat, according to Maricopa County court records. Authorities received a call from someone who, allegedly, heard the man, later identified as Michael Navage, calling for help, the court record allege. The caller told police Navage had 'taken his cat into the bathroom' and called out for help, 'stating the cat was stuck on his penis,' according to the records, which includes a probable cause statement from Mesa police. The caller told police he had 'heard' Navage 'shouting expletives' at the cat and that the cat 'sounded as if it were in distress.' Officials arrived at his apartment soon afterwards, but Navage refused to allow officers to enter. Authorities were subsequently able to enter the residence and found Navage allegedly 'standing in the middle of the bathroom with a cat partially wrapped in a towel near his genital area.' Navage told authorities he was 'drying off the cat,' records state. Navage later told authorities that he was in the shower with the cat but denied any sexual activity with the cat had occurred. During an examination of the feline, a veterinarian observed that the cat had sustained injuries to its genitalia. While at the scene, officers observed a small bag containing a crystal-like substance, which officers believed to be methamphetamine. Navage said that he did not want to disclose whether the methamphetamines belonged to him or to the other men residing at the apartment, though he did admit to having used them, the statement added. According to records, Navage voluntarily allowed authorities to search his suitcase, where officers found identification, credit cards and a chequebook, none of which belonged to him. Officers also found a counterfeit one hundred dollar bill, which Navage later said he had received 'from someone else' and was aware that it was forged. Navage was taken into custody and transported to the Mesa Police Department, where officials said he admitted to selling methamphetamines and having other residents in the apartment sell one hundred and fifty bucks worth of methamphetamines for him. Navage told police he has sold drugs and would exchange the drugs in order to be provided a place to reside and access to a shower, officials said. Navage is facing charges of, basically, everything. Bestiality and animal cruelty, as well as charges of possession of a dangerous drug, possession of a dangerous drug for sale and possession of drug paraphernalia.
The Russian city of Krasknoyask recently hosted the country's first ever 'amateur face-slapping championship,' which had participants slap each other across the chops until one of them got knocked out. The controversial event was held during the Siberian Power Show, a popular sports show held in Krasnoyarsk on 16 and 17 March. A similar competition took place last year, in Moscow, but it featured only 'professional' athletes competing for the unofficial title of the most 'heavy-handed face-slapper.' This time, organisers decided to give amateurs the chance to prove that they've got what it takes, so anyone willing to engage in some face-slapping malarkey was invited to sign up. The rules of this amateur face-slapping championship involved competitors facing each other across a small table similar to the ones used in arm-wrestling competitions and hitting each other - really hard - across the face with the palm of their hands. Ideally, one of the two men would be knocked out by the slap, but if both were left standing after taking three slaps, a judge would decide the winner 'based on power and technique.' Although face-slapping is not an 'official' sport, the competition did have some simple rules. Participants were not allowed to hit opponents with the bottom part of their palm, only with the fingers and the upper half of the palm, to 'avoid causing serious injuries.' They were also forbidden from targeting opponents' temples, ears or eyes. These measures were 'meant to protect competitors.'
A US mother whose seven adopted children regularly performed as superheroes on her family's YouTube channel has been charged with child abuse. Machelle Hackney - from Arizona - and her two adult sons were arrested on Friday by local police. Hackney has denied abusing her children. The adoptees regularly appeared on the popular Fantastic Adventures channel, dressed up as superheroes. With new videos uploaded about once a week, Fantastic Adventures featured the children in fantastical situations, with animated effects representing their various superpowers. The children, aged from six to fifteen according to the Washington Post, have now been removed from Hackney's care. Police accuse Hackney of starving, pepper-spraying, beating and isolating the children. Authorities also allege that they were 'forced to take ice baths' and at least one of the boys 'experienced physical abuse to his genitals.' One child was allegedly found hiding in a cupboard when police arrived. 'Officers came in contact with the six other children, who appeared to be malnourished, due to their pale complexion, dark rings under their eyes, underweight and they stated they were thirsty and hungry,' police documents said. Hackney has been charged with seven counts of child abuse, five of unlawful imprisonment and two of child molestation, all of which she denies. Her two sons were charged with failing to report child abuse. YouTube said that, since the arrests, the channel had been 'prevented' from earning money. 'When we're made aware of serious allegations of this nature, we take action, which may include suspending monetisation or, upon conclusion of an investigation, terminating channels,' YouTube said in a statement.
A woman in China reportedly 'almost died' after injecting herself with liquidised fruit in a bid to be healthy. The fifty one-year-old suffered liver, kidney, heart and lung damage and was put into intensive care for five days. There were over twenty kinds of fruit in the intravenous injection, an employee at the Affiliated Hospital of Xiangnan University in Hunan told the BBC News website. Social media users in China claim that the case 'highlights' the need for basic medical knowledge. And, you know, a fraction of common bloody sense. After injecting herself with the mixture, the woman had itchy skin and a rising temperature. She was admitted to the intensive care unit of the hospital on 22 February, before being transferred to a general ward and later discharged. The case has drawn attention on Chinese social media site Weibo. More than eleven thousand users have used the hashtag Old Woman Puts Juice Into Veins. And, this bollocks constitutes 'news', apparently.
When this blogger was nine, dear blog reader, he wanted, when he grew up, to be an astronaut ... who, when he wasn't working for NASA on Skylab played on the left-wing for Newcastle United. And was Slade's tambourine player at weekends. Do you ever have one of those days, dear blog reader, were you spend an inordinate amount of time wondering ... where did it all go wrong?
The Stately Telly Topping Manor playlist this week, dear blog reader, has included this lot. This blogger's been having a bit of 'English sensibility thing' going down of late.
Meanwhile, dear blog reader, boom, boom, boom, let me hear you say ...
And finally, on Thursday morning this blogger tried to access both iPlayer and UKPlay on Stately Telly Topping Manor's Samsung Smart telly - as this blogger does most days - and got a very odd error message that Keith Telly Topping had never seen before. It basically said that the device wasn't connected to the Interweb. Which, it very much was. Wirelessly, admittedly, but the modem was very definitely turned on. This blogger thereafter spent over an hour resetting all of the Interweb-to-TV connection information as recommended in the telly's manual but, still no connectivity. This blogger then went onto Samsung's website help page and found that a few other purchasers have been having the same problem. The website's advise - 'have you tried turning it off and on again?' Yes, that really is on there. And, whaddya know, this blogger hadn't, so he did and it worked. Has anyone else ever found themselves in an episode of The IT Crowd?