Friday, April 12, 2019

Dead Man's Hollow

We start the latest From The North bloggerisationisms update, dear blog reader, with a heartfelt plea from this here blogger to the politicians of the United Kingdom and, indeed, of the world. And, to anyone else in a position of authority, anywhere, who had the ability to affect changes within their own sphere of influence. The plea is as follows ...
Yeah. This blogger thinks that about covers it. Next ...

'Normal ain't nothing but a state of mind.' From The North's current favourite TV show on the planet, Doom Patrol continued with the long-awaited Danny The Street episode, Danny Patrol. And, as usual, dear blog reader, it was fantabulous in its downright queerness. If you don't believe this blogger, ask these guys. Or these. Or these. 'It's getting to the point where I'm not quite sure how they do it: every week, Doom Patrol seems to meander through its main plot points but still be even more entertaining than the last episode,' wrote the latter. 'The characters are this mesmerising mix of dejected but somehow oddly finding moments of true happiness. I think it may be the perfect parallel for modern life for most of us these days.' What he said.
Unless Game Of Thrones, or Peaky Blinders, or Line Of Duty manages to come up with something truly remarkable in their current and forthcoming series, dear blog readers, then as things stand Doom Patrol is going to walk off with the From The North TV show of the year award come December. That's if this blogger does a From The North TV show of the year award list this year, of course. Which he probably will.
Meanwhile, judging by the trailer, the next Doom Patrol episode - Jane Patrol - appears to be yet another adaptation of one of Grant Morrison's key issues, Going Underground. In which Cliff will find himself trying to stitch Crazy Jane back together again. From the inside.
From The North's award for 'The Most Thigh-Slappingly Hilarious Middle Class Hippy Communist Whinge Of The Week' goes to the Gruniad Morning Star's Jim Waterson (no, me neither) for a piece of abject misery-guts snivelling about the second series of Killing Eve. And, specifically, the fact that it is being shown in the US before the UK. Ooh, proper stroppy in his incandescent, impotent fury was yer actual Jimbo,dear blog reader. Pure-dead vexed and with his mad right up, so he was. 'The long-awaited second series of the hit BBC drama Killing Eve will return to screens on Sunday night - but audiences in the UK may have to wait months to watch it,' Waterson whinged. Yeah, they will. Just as they did with the first series, you mean? And this constitutes 'news', does it? 'The show about a MI5 officer’s hunt for an assassin, starring Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh, has been an enormous critical and audience success for the BBC, topping the list of nominations for this year's BAFTA TV awards and being heralded by the BBC director general, Tony Hall, as one of the corporation's biggest success stories of last year,' Waterson continued. So, he's a fan, clearly. Or, he's got one of his Gruniad colleagues to fill him in on what all the fuss has been about, anyway. There's a 'however' coming, though, dear blog reader you can probably tell. 'However, the new series will premiere in the US on BBC America and a date still has not been set for the programme to return to UK screens, an increasingly unusual situation for viewers who are used to streaming services such as Netflix releasing series simultaneously in almost every country in the world.' So, there you go, dear blog reader, a Gruniad writer has spent the first three paragraphs of a (non) story whinging and managing to shoehorn the Gruniad's beloved Netflix into the piece even though it has nothing whatsoever to do with the production or the broadcast of Killing Eve. Marvellous. This blogger isn't saying that the Gruniad are predictable, dear blog reader, but ... well, no, actually he is and they are. 'This is because Killing Eve was made as a special commission for BBC America, the corporation's for-profit US cable channel, which has the exclusive rights to show its first run - with those in the UK unable to watch it until after the US channel shows the final episode on 26 May,' yer man Jimmy finally gets around to explaining in paragraph five. He adds, helpfully, that BBC America, a joint venture with US company AMC Networks, does not receive public funding and carries advertising, ultimately funnelling any profits it makes back to the BBC to subsidise programming made for UK viewers. 'However, in this case, the British licence fee payers face having to wait to see the new series of a hit British TV show produced under the BBC banner, due to the issues surrounding ownership of the international rights,' the article continues. And, just to repeat, this is exactly the same as last year. So, what's the problem, you may ask? A BBC spokesperson said that the decision to 'delay' broadcasting Killing Eve was 'necessary' to enable the release of all eight episodes at the same time on iPlayer. Which is likely to occur very soon after the series has concluded in the US. 'BBC America are playing it out in weekly episodes,' they said. 'This means we have to wait until BBC America have premiered all of the weekly episodes - which as commissioning broadcaster they are entitled to do - before we can begin our transmission, otherwise we would be premiering episodes before them. The decision to make it a box-set was based around how we thought audiences would enjoy the programme. We are still experimenting with different release models and we know last time audiences really loved the fact we did this as a box-set so they could binge.' This has, Waterson claims, 'raised the prospect of piracy, with British fans of the show tempted to access downloads of the US broadcast via illegal streams and torrents rather than wait and risk encountering spoilers from US coverage of the show.' And, if that isn't a blatant example of the Gruniad's Middle Class hippy Communist readership being virtually directed to break the law of the land then this blogger doesn't know what is. Waterson finally - and, rather reluctantly one senses - then notes that Killing Eve's US premiere took place last April, 'with British audiences only seeing it when it appeared on BBC3 six months later [which] meant it should not have been eligible for the BAFTA awards, some of which are only eligible to shows originally made for a British audience. However, judges bent the rules and gave it fourteen nominations in order to recognise the show's extraordinary success, which saw the series attract tens of millions of views from the UK on BBC iPlayer.' A very confusing paragraph since it appears to be critical of BAFTA whilst, at the same time, acknowledging that, artistically at least, they got it spot on. 'Bizarrely, some other smaller countries have already bought up the rights to Killing Eve and will show the second series before the BBC, with fans in New Zealand being able to watch it episode-by-episode from Monday night,' Waterson then sneers. Quite why the word 'bizarrely' is included here, you'll have to ask him. Hopefully, many Gruniad website readers in the 'small' nation of New Zealand will be doing exactly that, demanding to know why they are considered 'bizarre' by this odious fraction of a Middle Class hippy Communist. Killing Eve was, of course, initially developed by Phoebe Waller-Bridge for Sky in the UK. However, BBC America stepped in to snap up the project when it appeared that Sky was losing interest, with the BBC in the UK subsequently buying the British rights to show the drama. 'The issue also highlights the difficulties surrounding the BBC's attempts to compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime, who can use their global heft to create worldwide coverage around a single show,' yer man Jimmy adds. 'The BBC is fighting to turn its iPlayer service into a destination in its own right that will show programmes for up to twelve months at a time but is facing regulatory challenges and the need to negotiate rights deals with programme creators.' He then manages to get in yet another arse-slurping plug for Gruniad's own favourite broadcast. 'David Attenborough, the face of the BBC's wildlife coverage, said his decision to partner with Netflix for their big-budget Our Planet series was influenced by the streaming service’s ability to release the show around the world on the same day. He suggested this creates a global buzz that is hard to replicate using the traditional television production model, which sees rights sold on a region-by-region basis to national broadcasters who then show the material in their own time.' So, to sum up then, the BBC is involved in a co-production deal of a very popular drama but is, rightly - as the non-producing part of the co-production - getting to show the drama only after those that stumped up the majority of the cost have shown it first. Exactly what happened with the first series. Which seems entirely fair. But, some louse of no importance at the Gruniad is outraged by this. Or, more likely, this is rather obviously faux-outrage and simply an excuse for a bit of atypical Gruniad shite-stirring at the BBC's expense. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
Of course, the whinging Waterson could simly do what many British viewers - this blogger included - have done and got a very kind friend in the US to record the episodes and send them over to us in the mail, perfectly legally, on a recording medium of their choice. Or, alternatively, he could just wait, patiently and read the BBC's take on the saga or the US reviews of the opening episode - here, here and here, for example - whilst gnashing his teeth in impotent fury at the manifest unfairness of life in general. And the complexities of the broadcasting world, in particular. Which, to be fair, would be a geet good laugh for everyone.
And, if you're wondering dear blog reader, yes this blogger though the episode in question was great. So, no change there then. However, there will be no From The North reviews of Killing Eve series two until the BBC have started broadcasting it (presumably in late May or early June). In the interest of not needlessly pissing off anyone trying to remain spoiler-free. Can't say fairer than that, yes?
Sunday saw another superb, complex and dramatic episode in the latest - fifth - series of Line Of Duty. God, it was good. Sarah Hughes's recap in the Gruniad, Michael Hogan's in the Torygraph and Jacob Stolworthy's in the Independent are recommended if you've already seen the episode but should be avoided like the plague if you haven't.
Now, dear blog reader, the latest in our, semi-regular, From The North feature, Songs This Blogger Really Likes Turning Up On The Soundtrack Of TV Series This Blogger Also Really Likes. Number five: Doctor John, The Night Tripper's seminal 1968 Creole masterpiece 'I Walk On Guilded [sic] Splinters' used in the latest episode of American Gods to accompany Mad Sweeney and Dead Laura's, ahem, 'interactions' with Madame Brigitte and Baron Samedi respectively. Reviews of the episode - The Ways Of The Dead - can be consumed here and here. And also, here - although that reviewer really didn't like it and is, therefore, a foolish fool.
This week's episode of From The North favourite Only Connect - the first semi-final of the current (fourteenth) series - provided this blogger with but one question where he got all uppity because he spotted the answer before either of the teams did (although, personally, Keith Telly Topping went for 'all of the members of Esther and Abi Ofarim' to complete that particular sequence).
Meanwhile, major congratulations go to current From The North favourites The Time Ladies for becoming the first team to reach this series' Only Connect final. Especially because, for the first time in four appearances, they didn't require a tie-breaker to progress this time around. Go on, ladies, win the big prize for fandom. And, for yourselves, obviously.
A West Midlands council has given the green light to a six million knicker visitor centre at the museum where the hit TV drama Peaky Blinders is filmed. The popular period crime drama, which follows the exploits of the Shelby crime family in the aftermath of the First World War, is shot at the Black Country Museum in Dudley.
The writer of ITV's Victoria has whinged that it is 'demoralising' to go up against Line Of Duty in the TV schedules. Which, if you're wondering, is the runner-up in From The North's 'The Most Thigh-Slappingly Hilarious Middle Class Hippy Communist Whinge Of The Week' award. The two dramas have gone head-to-head at 9pm on Sunday for two weeks and the hit BBC crime show has come out significantly on top so far. Scheduling is 'a dark art' practised by 'Machiavellian types,' Daisy Goodwin wrote in Radio Times magazine. Although it should be noted in the interest of fairness that Goodwin was not whinging in August and September 2016 when the first series of Victoria was pulling in consolidated audiences of seven-to-eight million punters when it was being broadcast opposite the second series of BBC1's Poldark and was winning the slot - albeit only fractionally. She also did not revel what she believed the BBC should be showing at 9pm on a Sunday evening as opposition to her show. The Test Card, perhaps? Victoria's third series premiered in the US before its recent UK debut and Goodwin said that she 'hoped' the fourth series would 'go out simultaneously' around the world. She told Radio Times that the staggered release 'felt analogue,' urging broadcasters to echo streaming services with 'a truly global shared experience.' Her show, which traces the life of Queen Victoria, has lost out in the overnight ratings to Line Of Duty since the fifth series of the BBC police drama began on 31 March. The opening episode of Line Of Duty pulled in an overnight average of 7.8 million viewers and a consolidated Seven Day Plus audience of 11.37 million punters, compared with 3.1 million on overnights for Victoria and a Seven Day Plus audience of 5.12 million. On 7 April, Line Of Duty's overnights dropped slightly to 7.1 million, but it was still significantly ahead of Victoria's three million audience. The consolidated figures for that episode will be announced by BARB next Monday. Goodwin whinged: 'It's a dark art, scheduling and it can be very demoralising for people who have dedicated themselves to making something special to realise that for the scheduler your carefully-honed drama is nothing more than a line of sandbags against Bodyguard or, in Victoria's case, Line Of Duty.' Goodwin's comments come as the divide between traditional and digital release schedules has come under the spotlight in recent weeks. The second series of Killing Eve has already begun in the US on BBC America but a date for the UK premiere is yet to be announced (see above). This contrasts with release strategies in which entire series are released in full around the world on streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. Goodwin said that while she 'understood' that 'die-hard' fans of her ITV show 'may have already streamed' the complete series online in the UK 'in ways that are quite possibly illegal,' she 'hoped' many would still watch in the 'old-fashioned way. In these days of the box-set binge, where you can emerge bleary-eyed, wondering where the last six hours went, I rather love a dainty morsel of television that leaves you wanting more,' she said. Goodwin also revealed that the next series of Victoria - starring yer actual Jenna Coleman - is 'already in production' and will be 'the darkest yet.' The writer said that she hopes 'the Gods of scheduling look favourably upon it and decide to put it out simultaneously with the US broadcast.'
These days, yer actual Jenna Coleman is seen on our screens reigning over Nineteenth Century Great Britain and its Empire in Victoria - albeit, not seen by anywhere near as many people as are watching the show on the other side, admittedly - but it wasn't all that long ago that she was travelling back and forth through time with The Doctor. The actress has revealed her fondness for her time in the TARDIS during an appearance on The Jonathan Ross Show. Asked whether she owns any memorabilia from the set, the actress revealed that she 'stole quite a lot, actually. I stole a piece of TARDIS. A proper Gallifreyan full-on piece under my jumper,' she recalled, before adding that she had half-inched it 'with permission' from the crew - 'it was in conjunction with the props team, they gave me the wink,' she claimed. A likely tale. 'I've also got the neon sign of the police box sign and I've got that in my dining room and it lights up.' The actress was also asked about who her favourite Doctor is and - rather than stay loyal to her co-stars Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi - she whispered 'David Tennant!'
The final three episodes of Qi's Q series - the first of which will be on the theme of Quagmire - have been recorded. The former will feature Aisling Bea, Sally Phillips and Sindhu Vee. The untitled fifteenth episode also includes Aisling Bea along with David Mitchell and Nish Kumar whilst the series finale, also untitled, has Kumar, Ade Adepitan and Holly Walsh joining Alan Davies and Sandi Toksvig. There will also, as usual, be two compilation episodes taking the full series to eighteen episodes.
Sir David Attenborough has gone global with a new nature series on Netflix. Our Planet arrived on the streaming service last Friday. The show is described as an 'ambitious and ground-breaking series' which will showcase the planet's most precious species and fragile habitats, with trailers adding that Our Planet is 'a global event that reminds us we're all on one team.' The review of the series by the BBC's resident slapheed Will Gompertz can be read here. Be advised, however, it does include the word 'rapaciousness.'
And, speaking of TV icons, there's a fascinating interview with Dame Diana Rigg covering many aspects of her remarkable career at the BBC News website which you can check out here.
On a somewhat related theme, Ciaran McCauley's lengthy article Beyond The Throne about the impact of Game Of Thrones on the Northern Irish film industry and how the series' conclusion will affect the future is, also, likely to be of considerable interest to dear blog readers whilst they impatiently await Monday's return of the final series of the popular fantasy drama.
And, whilst we're on the subject of Keith Telly Topping recommending that you read stuff other than From The North, dear blog reader, if you only read one article on the Interweb this week, then you are urged - urged - to make it James Gent's interview with the great Barry Cryer at the We Are Cult website. It covers Barry's time as Monty Python's Flying Circus's warm-up act, inventing the first gay sitcom and stalking JB Priestley. What's not to love?
Emma Corrin has been cast as Princess Diana in the fourth series of The Crown. Netflix confirmed the decision in a press release, adding filming will begin later this year. In an accompanying quote, Corrin claimed that she was 'beyond excited' to be joining the show. 'Princess Diana was an icon and her effect on the world remains profound and inspiring,' she said. The Crown's creator, Peter Morgan, described Corrin as a 'brilliant talent' who 'immediately captivated' casting directors. The actress, who has appeared in Grantchester, is set to make her film debut in Misbehavior [sic], a historical drama following a group of of women from the Women's Liberation Movement as they attempt to disrupt the 1970 Miss World beauty competition in London. She becomes the latest actress to join the revolving cast of The Crown, as the show jumps forward in time with different stars playing the Royals every two years. Series three - set to debut in late 2019 - will see Olivia Colman take over Claire Foy's role as Queen Elizabeth and focus on the Harold Wilson era between 1964 and 1970. Corrin, meanwhile, will begin by dramatising Princess Diana's failed marriage to Prince Charles during the years of That Awful Thatcher Woman's government. Netflix's content chief Ted Sarandos has previously said that the plan is for the drama to run for six series, spanning The Queen's entire life. Or, at least, her entire life to date. Unless Netflix were planning on bumping off Her Maj in real-life to tie in with the end of the series.
Bodyguard's Richard Madden has 'spoken out' against the 'unrealistic' demands he and his fellow actors face regarding their weight and body image. 'I've done numerous jobs where you're told to lose weight and get to the gym,' he told Vogue. 'It doesn't just happen to women, it happens to men all the time as well.' His comments follow singer Sam Smith's recent admission on Instagram that 'I have starved myself for weeks' in advance of photo shoots. Smith's revelation was accompanied by a shirtless photo that was described as an effort to 'reclaim my body.' Madden said that he and his actor friends had found themselves bemoaning the 'barely eating, working-out-twice-a-day, no-carbing thing' required for certain scenes. He said they would find themselves 'looking at each other going: "We're just feeding this same [expletive] that we're against."' Madden, whose other roles include Robb Stark in Game Of Thrones, said that he had sometimes been given 'restrictive costumes' which had made breathing 'difficult.' The Scottish actor will next be seen in Rocketman, a musical biopic about Sir Elton John starring Taron Egerton. Madden is not alone in highlighting the pressures placed on the modern leading man. Last month, Australian actor Chris Hemsworth - soon to be seen reprising his Thor role in Avengers: Endgame - admitted keeping in shape for the camera 'can start to become a drag. The roles I've taken on have shaped my physique,' he told Men's Health. 'It just goes hand in hand with the parts I play. But occasionally I'll see paparazzi poking out of the bushes and I'm like, "How's my rig look? Am I on point, or have I slacked off lately?"'
Coronation Street will welcome its first black family to the cobbled streets in June 2019. The new family are called the Baileys and will be made up of Edison, Aggie and their two sons, Michael and James. Michael will be played by CBeebies presenter Ryan Russell and the family are due to move into number three, after buying the house from Norris Cole. The show's producers says that the family will have 'some strong storylines' and the show will look at issues around racism and anti-gay feeling in sport - as nineteen-year-old footballer James is due to come out as gay in an upcoming episode. Eastenders has had black families in its cast for a long time and in 2009 spent a whole episode with two of them, the Truemans and the Foxes. Although over the years Coronation Street has featured occasional black characters, the Baileys will become the first black family to actually live on the street since it began in 1960. When Richard Everitt was producing the soap in the late 1960s he had wanted to reflect actual trends in Salford but was prevented from introducing an Asian family; one of his successors, Susi Hush, in the mid-1970s, was similarly opposed when she tried to introduce a black family. In the latter case, it was decided by Granada executives that, because so few non-white characters had even been seen in Coronation Street up to that point, the attitudes of the regulars would have to be explored, resulting in characters such as Stan Ogden or Len Fairclough being portrayed as - at least, unconsciously - racist. Instead, the viewers were asked to accept as 'real' a Manchester suburb with a virtually non-existent ethnic community. Current producer Iain MacLeod said: 'The North-West and Great Britain as a whole is a big melting pot of people from different backgrounds and ethnicities and the more representative we can make Corrie of Manchester and Britain the better really. It's was a no-brainer.' When he was asked why this had never been done before MacLeod said: 'Short answer, I don't really know. Manchester has a large proportion of black residents so it did feel sort of overdue we did this and represented modern Manchester a bit more accurately.' The Bailey's daughter, Diana, will join the street at a later date, but the actress who will play her has not been chosen yet.
EastEnders actress June Brown has said that she can no longer recognise her friends as she deals with age-related macular degeneration at the age of ninety two. The actress, who plays Dot in the BBC drama, says she has lived with the condition for ten years. Speaking to the Daily Mirra, Brown said that she has no central vision at all and can no longer respond to fan mail. 'I haven't driven for years and I can't really go out socially due to my eyesight,' she said. Brown has starred in EastEnders since 1985 and revealed in 2018 that this will be her last year on the show. The actress said her condition was getting worse despite her undergoing eye surgery in 2017. 'I never go to soap awards or suchlike now,' she said. 'I don't recognise people that I know and they would think I was snubbing them. Just pray for your health and strength, hearing and eyesight and an active mind,' she added. Age-related macular degeneration is a relatively common condition which usually starts to affect people in their fifties and sixties. Although it does not cause total blindness, it can make everyday activities like reading, watching TV and recognising faces very difficult and can worsen without treatment. Symptoms can include seeing straight lines as wavy or crooked, objects looking smaller than normal and seeing things that are not there. The exact cause of macular degeneration is unknown, but it has been linked to smoking, high blood pressure, being overweight and having a family history of the condition. There are two types of age-related macular degeneration, dry AMD and wet AMD. There is no treatment for dry AMD but vision aids can help with day-to-day life. People diagnosed with wet AMD may need regular eye injections.
Dame Darcey Bussell is to step down as a judge from Strictly Come Dancing. She has been a member of the judging panel for seven series, having joined in 2012. Darcey said that she was 'not leaving because of any upset or disagreement' but, rather, 'to focus on other commitments.' She added: 'It has been a complete privilege for me to be part of Strictly, working with such a talented team.' It has not yet been announced who will replace her on the show. For most of her years on the show, Dame Darcey shared the judging panel with Len Goodman, Craig Revel Horwood and Bruno Tonioli. Goodman retired from the show in 2017, however and was replaced with Shirley Ballas. Charlotte Moore, the director of BBC Content, said: 'It has been an absolute honour to have Darcey, a national treasure and British dance icon, bring her passion for dance and her graceful presence to the Strictly Come Dancing judging panel for seven consecutive years. She will be thoroughly missed by us all and will of course remain part of the Strictly family in the future.'
Fleabag will not return after the current series came to an end this week, one of its cast has told BBC Breakfast. 'There will not be a third series,' Sian Clifford said. 'This is it.' Clifford, who plays Fleabag's uptight sister, Claire, in the comedy, said the final episode would conclude with 'a beautiful, perfect ending.' Her comments echoed creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge's own declaration that Monday's climactic episode would be 'the final curtain. I have thought about it and there isn't going to be one,' she told the BBC earlier this year when asked if a third series might be made. Waller-Bridge is currently in New York performing the original one-woman play from which the TV series sprang. Fleabag's second series, which was broadcast on both BBC1 and BBC3, has captured the public imagination even more than its 2016 predecessor. Viewers have been captivated by the title character's tantalising relationship with a charismatic priest, played by Andrew Scott. That relationship reached a pivotal point at the end of episode five, leaving audiences eager to know what happens next. Clifford was giving nothing away on Friday, beyond saying that 'people will accept this is the end when they see it.' In the event, the last episode of series two drew slavvering reviews from critics and viewers alike. The Daily Torygraph described the finale was 'a near perfect work of art,' while the Metro called it 'a masterpiece.' Some worthless Middle Class hippy Communist at the Gruniad Morning Star claimed the second series 'raised the bar so utterly that at times Waller-Bridge's risks and progression were so impressive all one could do was shake one's head in appreciation.'
Lisa McGee's BAFTA-nominated comedy, Derry Girls, is set to return to Channel Four for a third series. The screenwriter revealed the news as the second series of the coming-of-age sitcom came to an end on Tuesday. McGee, who used her own childhood as the basis for the show, said that she was 'thrilled' her 'band of eejits' would continue their on-screen adventures. The show is set against the backdrop of The Troubles in Northern Ireland in the 1990s. She said: 'I love writing this show and I'm so thrilled to be able to continue the Derry Girls story, thank you Channel Four, Erin and the eejits live to fight another day!' The series two finale saw pretty much the entire cast going crazy for the visit of then-US President Bill Clinton - with the leading girls hoping to get close to his daughter, Chelsea - while James got a surprise and Granda Joe embarked on a mysterious plan. The episode attracted an average overnight audience of 1.1 million viewers. That figure is expected to rise once catch-up services are included, as the consolidated viewing figures for the first episode of the series were over three million. The Irish Times said the series two finale was 'a moving and significant piece of nostalgia.' The Torygraph described it as 'a terrific sign-off for a moving and uproariously funny show.' It picked up from the success of series one, which became most popular show in Northern Ireland TV history with more viewers tuning in to watch it than any other series since records began in 2002. It was also one of this blog's favourite TV shows of 2018.
Russell Brand's 'vagina biscuit bake' for The Great Celebrity Bake Off For Stand Up To Cancer prompted a small number of viewers - with, seemingly, nothing better to do with their time - to whinge to Ofcom. Scruffy, foul-mouthed weirdo Brand, who made his appearance in the Bake Off tent last month, created a 'vagina' out of biscuits to 'pay a tribute' to the birth of his second child. Ofcom has confirmed that the episode received a whopping eleven whinges from humourless, tight-arsed viewers, who snitched it up to the broadcasting regulator like a - small - bunch of Copper's Narks under 'generally accepted standards.' However, the broadcasting regulator has decided that it will not be investigating these utterly ludicrous whinges. 'We considered a small number of complaints about comments in this charity baking competition,' a spokesperson for Ofcom confirmed to the Digital Spy website. 'In our view the remarks were light-hearted and not sexually explicit.' Tragically, Ofcom - a politically appointed quango, elected by no one - did not also take the opportunity to name and shame the eleven individuals with so little else going on in their lives that they felt the need to whinge about such utter nonsense. An opportunity missed, one could suggest.
A TV historian who grew up in the North East has spoken about the sick and wicked racist abuse that he suffered during the 1980s. David Olusoga was born in Nigeria and moved to Gateshead with his British-born mother as a boy. David and his family were forced to leave their home because of verbal and physical attacks by The National Front. He describes the experience as 'an extremely traumatic time' which scarred him and his siblings. But, despite the trauma, David says that he still has a deep love for the region: 'It comes down to a simple choice: Either I allow my experiences to define my relationship with the part of the world I was brought up in, the part of the world half my family comes from and where my grandparents lived and worked for their whole lives; or I don't, instead I define my relationship with the North East. I'm not going to have my relationship defined by a bunch of racist thugs.' Now, David is presenting the second series of A House Through Time, an acclaimed BBC2 documentary about a house in Newcastle. David describes it as his 'love letter to the North East.'
The actress Allison Mack has pleaded extremely guilty to charges linked to an alleged sex trafficking operation disguised as a mentoring group and now faces the probability of doing a shitload of jail for her naughty crimes. Appearing in Brooklyn federal court, Mack pleaded guilty to racketeering and conspiracy charges related to the 'suspected sex cult,' Nxivm. In a statement, Mack admitted to recruiting women by telling them they were joining a female mentorship group. 'I must take full responsibility for my conduct,' she said. Mack, known for the television series Smallville, is one of six people facing criminal charges as part of an investigation into Nxivm. The group, which started in 1998 as an alleged 'self-help programme,' claims it has worked with more than sixteen thousand people including the son of a former Mexican president and Hollywood actresses such as Mack. On its website Nxivm describes itself as 'a community guided by humanitarian principles that seek to empower people and answer important questions about what it means to be human.' Despite its tagline of 'working to build a better world' its leader, Keith Raniere, stands accused of overseeing a sick and sinister 'slave and master' system within the group. According to the group's website, it has suspended enrolment and events because of the 'extraordinary circumstances facing the company at this time.' Prosecutors allege that the group 'mirrors' a pyramid scheme, in which members paid thousands of dollars for courses to rise within its ranks. Raniere is alleged to be at the top of this structure as the only man, but Mack served as one of his 'top female deputies.' Female recruits were, allegedly, 'branded' with Raniere's initials and expected to have The Sex with him, as part of the system. 'Allison Mack recruited women to join what was purported to be a female mentorship group that was, in fact, created and led by Keith Raniere,' Richard Donoghue, US attorney for the Eastern District in New York, said in a statement last year. In court on Monday, Mack said she was 'instructed' by Raniere to 'collect compromising materials and images' of two women within the group, threatening to make the photos public if they revealed information about the secret society. 'I believed Keith Raniere's intentions were to help people,' Mack said in court on 8 April. 'I was wrong.' Raniere was very arrested in Mexico last year. His defence team argued that the alleged sexual relationships 'were consensual.' Mack had previously pleaded not guilty in April 2018 to charges including sex trafficking, conspiracy to commit sex trafficking and forced labour. She is now scheduled to be sentenced in September and will face a maximum sentence of twenty years in The Joint for each of the two charges. Last month the co-founder of the group, Nancy Salzman, also pleaded very guilty to charges of racketeering. She is due to be sentenced in July.
Someone else potentially facing time in The Slammer is Felicity Huffman who will, reportedly plead guilty to charges in a cheating scam aimed at acquiring places for children at elite US universities. The Desperate Housewives actress said that she had 'betrayed' her daughter and was thoroughly 'ashamed' of herself and the pain she had caused. Huffman is accused of paying fifteen thousand dollars to have her daughter's exam questions 'covertly corrected' in 2017. The fifty six-year-old is one of fourteen people set to plead guilty among the fifty charged in the disgraceful scandal. In a statement, Huffman said: 'I am in full acceptance of my guilt and with deep regret and shame over what I have done, I accept full responsibility for my actions and will accept the consequences that stem from those actions. I am ashamed of the pain I have caused my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues and the educational community. I want to apologise to them and, especially, I want to apologise to the students who work hard every day to get into college and to their parents who make tremendous sacrifices to support their children and do so honestly.' She added in the statement that her daughter had 'known nothing' about her actions: 'In my misguided and profoundly wrong way, I have betrayed her. This transgression toward her and the public, I will carry for the rest of my life.' The FBI code-named the investigation Operation Varsity Blues - named after a 1990s film about the pressures of sports scholarships. The case relates to the period between 2011 and 2018, when investigators say that rich parents tried to cheat the usual US admission process. They allege parents paid bribes, had exams altered and even had their children edited on to stock photos to pretend they played sports. Huffman and another Hollywood actress, Lori Loughlin, are the most high-profile figures indicted, but others charged include prominent business executives. Loughlin is accused along with her husband of paying nearly five hundred thousand bucks in bribes to get their two daughters admitted to the University of Southern California. They are not among those who have agreed to plead guilty and have not publicly addressed the allegations. According to a report on Yahoo News - admittedly not the most reliable of media sources - Loughlin 'didn't believe' she would end up doing time in The Big House. That's why, the alleged 'source' allegedly claimed, she and her husband Mossimo Giannulli rejected a plea deal. 'She has been in complete denial and thought, maybe, she could skate by,' the unnamed alleged 'source' allegedly told E! on Wednesday in that curiously tabloidese 'nobody really talks like this' manner. 'She ... thought the DA was bluffing. She was adamant she wouldn't do any jail time.' The report goes on to state that federal prosecutors have 'turned up the heat on Loughlin this week, slapping her and others in the case with additional charges of conspiring to commit fraud and money laundering.' Investigators say the couple helped to get their daughters in on rowing scholarships, even though neither student had ever actually participated in the sport. Huffman was accused of paying fifteen thousand dollars to William Rick Singer - the self-confessed 'mastermind' of the alleged scam - to have her daughter's exam questions covertly corrected in 2017. She has agreed to plead guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud, AP reports.
Shila Iqbal has been fired from Emmerdale over 'historical offensive tweets,' ITV has confirmed. The actress, who played Aiesha Richards on the soap, was only made a series regular at the end of March. She said that she was 'terribly sorry' for using 'inappropriate language' in tweets sent in 2013, when she was nineteen. 'As a consequence of historic social media posts, Shila Iqbal has left her role as Aiesha Richards on Emmerdale,' a spokesperson for the show said. 'The programme took the decision not to renew her contract as soon as these posts were brought to the company's attention.' ITV would not confirm what she had actually said in the messages and the twenty four-year-old has deleted her Twitter account. In a statement, she said: 'I am terribly sorry and take full responsibility for my use of such inappropriate language. I have paid the price and can no longer continue the job I loved the most at Emmerdale. Although I was young when I made the tweets, it was still completely wrong of me to do so and I sincerely apologise.' She added: 'The only consideration I would ask is that I have recently received hateful tweets telling me that as a Muslim my Emmerdale role means that I am "committing sinful acts, promoting sin and deliberately going against the Quran." We live in sensitive times for members of all communities and especially those in multi-racial Rochdale, where I grew up. I regret that I too have let people down by the use of such language, albeit six years ago. I, like everyone else, have a responsibility about the language I have used on social media as well as in conversation.'
A television production company has been fined one hundred and twenty grand for 'unlawfully' filming expectant mothers in a maternity unit. True Vision Productions reportedly set up CCTV-style cameras in the Rosie Birth Centre at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, for a Channel Four documentary on stillbirths in 2017. Although notices were posted in the unit, the Information Commissioner's Office concluded TVP 'failed to adequately inform patients.' The recorded footage was later deleted. ICO director of investigations Steve Eckersley said: 'Patients would not have expected to have been filmed in this situation and many will have been very distressed when they learned such a private and potentially traumatic moment had been recorded.' TVP set up microphones and cameras in the unit's walk-in clinic between July and September 2017. The hospital trust had given permission and TVP 'had posted limited notices advising of the filming near to the cameras and in the waiting room area and had left letters on waiting room tables,' the ICO said. 'The detailed investigation found that these letters did not provide adequate explanations to patients, with one notice incorrectly stating that mums and visitors would not be filmed without permission,' it added. Filming was halted after the BBC reported on 'concerns' expressed by some expectant mothers. It resumed - using different methods - and the documentary was broadcast in October 2018. 'The unlawfully obtained footage was not broadcast and was deleted,' the ICO said. It added that the original footage 'would have included the sensitive personal data of patients who could already be suffering anxiety and stress.' Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust said that it had 'agreed to participate' as patients said more needed to be done to raise awareness of issues surrounding stillbirth. A spokesman added: 'While protocols were in place to protect privacy, we acknowledge the ICO decision and we are sorry for any distress caused.' TVP, which is based in London, said it was 'disappointed in the outcome' and had made 'strong legal representations' that the ICO's approach was wrong. It added: 'We are considering the decision and the potential for an appeal with our legal advisors.'
Geoffrey Rush has won a defamation case against the publisher of a Sydney newspaper which accused him of 'inappropriate behaviour' towards a former co-star. Judge Michael Wigney said that he was 'not satisfied' the incidents detailed in the Sydney Daily Torygraph, published by Nationwide News, had occurred. He said that Rush's former co-star Erin Jean Norvill's evidence was 'inconsistent.' He also said that she was 'prone to exaggeration and embellishment' and described the story as 'sensationalist journalism of the worst kind.' Wigney said the billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid had made 'a direct and full-frontal attack' on Rush's reputation, especially since it framed the story against the background of US producer Harvey Weinstein and the Me Too movement. 'The photograph and the headline clearly and spectacularly conveyed that Mister Rush was, effectively, guilty of that inappropriate behaviour and that it was sexual in nature,' Wigney said. 'I need only repeat here what I said earlier in that part of these reasons which deals with the question whether the alleged imputations were conveyed. The vice in the image and headline on the front page is that it effectively poisoned the reader's mind from the outset.' Judge Wigney ruled that Rush should be awarded eight hundred and fifty thousand Australian dollars and would be entitled to more compensation, the exact - presumably eye-watering - amount of which would be decided 'at a later date.' Rush was originally seeking more than twenty five million dollars in damages, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Rush had previously claimed that his career had been 'irreparably damaged' by the newspaper's erroneous claims. The alleged incidents detailed in the Torygraph article date back to a 2015 theatre production of King Lear in which Rush acted alongside Norvill. Subsequently, the Torygraph whinged that they were 'disappointed' with the judge's rejection of Norvill's claims. To paraphrase Mandy Rice Davies, well they would be, wouldn't they?
An eleven-second clip of The Be-Atles' only live appearance on Top Of The Pops, which was believed to have been be lost, has been discovered in Mexico. The silent snippet is all that exists, visually at least, of the popular beat combo of the 1960s (you might've heard of them) miming to 'Paperback Writer' on the BBC chart show on 16 June 1966, introduced by a hyperventilating Pete Murray. The original videotapes were not kept - although a complete off-air audio recording of the episode has long been rumoured to exist in a private collection - but the short clip was recorded by a viewer filming their TV set with an eight millimetre camera. The footage was shot by a family in Liverpool and, eventually, fell into the hands of a collector in Mexico. The collector contacted Kaleidoscope, the Birmingham-based organisation specialising in locating previously missing TV footage. 'I think if you're a Beatles fans, it's The Holy Grail,' Kaleidoscope's Chris Perry told BBC entertainment correspondent Colin Paterson. 'People thought it was gone forever because videotape wasn't kept in 1966. To find it all these years later was stunning.' The band pre-recorded songs for Top Of The Pops on several occasions (a couple of which still exist in one form or another), but they only appeared live once, in June 1966, miming to both sides of their then current chart-topping disc, 'Paperback Writer' and 'Rain'. The performance itself has long-been a talking point for Be-Atles obsessives like this blogger. Around the time of The Be-Atles Anthology in the mid-1990s, Record Collector magazine claimed that footage from the episode existed in the hands of a private collector although it now appears that report was erroneous. In 2000, a BBC spokeswoman said: 'We don't know whether or not this particular piece of Top Of The Pops history has disappeared forever, but unfortunately there was a time when BBC programmes were not archived as carefully as they are today and some programmes were sadly lost.' As we all know and as has been discussed on this blog previously, at length. The rediscovered clip will be screened at the BFI in London as part of Kaleidoscope's latest Music Believed Wiped event on 20 April. Speaking about the discovery, Doctor Dori Howard, a lecturer in The Be-Atles and Popular Music at Liverpool Hope University, said: 'It's crazy, what are the chances? I would say it's a really big find.' That was Doctor Dori, there, dear blog readers. One imagines her lectures are mind-blowingly articulate if that's an example of their content. A previously missing episode of Top Of The Pops from 1969, featuring an early version of The Be-Atles' promotional video for their single 'Something', has also reportedly been recovered in Austria. The Music Believed Wiped screening will include highlights of around two hundred and forty musical performances that have recently been found by Kaleidoscope. They include Elton John singing 'Rocket Man' on Top Of The Pops in 1972, a colour clip of T Rex's 'Metal Guru' and a Slade performance of 'How Does It Feel?' from 1975.
Sir Mick Jagger has said that he is 'on the mend' and 'feeling much better' after receiving hospital treatment. The Rolling Stones singer and rock and/or roll icon has reportedly undergone heart valve replacement surgery. In a tweet Mick The Jag thanked hospital staff 'for doing a superb job' as well as fans for their messages of support. The band postponed their tour of the US and Canada after Jagger was advised by doctors that he needed medical treatment. US gossip website Drudge Report was the first to report that Jagger would need surgery to replace a heart valve. The story was also reported by the US music magazine Rolling Stain. The Rolling Stones were due to kick off a seventeen-concert tour in Miami on 20 April, before travelling across North America until a finale in Oro-Medonte, in Ontario on 29 June. The band are currently working with promoters to reschedule the shows. Jagger previously apologised to fans for postponing the tour, writing that he was 'devastated' and would be 'working very hard to be back on stage as soon as I can.'
Fresh off a best-selling capsule collection inspired by Led Zeppelin, sneaker brand Vans is 'paying tribute' to another rock and/or roll icon, with a new collection of shoes, apparel and accessories that 'pay homage' to the late David Bowie. The Vans x Bowie collection 'celebrates the late singer's artistic legacy,' allegedly, with pieces that 'reference the artwork' from some of Bowie's most iconic LPs, including Space Oddity, The Fall & Rise Of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars and Hunky Dory. But, ironically, not Young Americans which, of course, was the one that had sole. Aw, come on, this blogger is working with limited material here, dear blog reader, give 'im a break. Prices range from twenty six dollars for an Aladdin Sane-inspired T-shirt, to eighty five bucks for the Vans x DB Sk8-Hi Platform sneaker - one of six sneaker styles available in the collection.
A GRAMMY-winning engineer has been ordered to pay Prince's estate almost four million dollars for releasing an unauthorised EP of songs by the late musician. Ian Boxill must also return all recordings he made with Prince. The ruling came after the engineer uploaded a song, 'Deliverance', to streaming services ahead of the first anniversary of Prince's death in 2017. He planned to follow it up with a six-song EP but Prince's estate sued, saying that he had violated his contract. A judge granted a temporary restraining order against the EP's release and an arbitrator ruled in the estate's favour last August, awarding them three million bucks for the breach of contract, with a further nine hundred and sixty thousand dollars to cover costs. The judgement has only just come to light, after US website The Blast obtained the court documents. The engineer has challenged the award, while the estate has asked the court to confirm the judgement. Neither motion has yet been approved. Boxill and Prince worked together on 3121 and Planet Earth in 2006 and 2007. According to the engineer, the songs on the EP dated from that period, and he spent a year completing them following Prince's death of an accidental opioid overdose in 2016. Meanwhile, Prince's estate has been slowly cataloguing and releasing rarities from The Funky One's 'vault', including an expanded edition of Purple Rain and the original demo of 'Nothing Compares 2U'. Last year, archivist Michael Howe told the BBC there was so much unreleased material to sort through that he had only been able to review 'a small percentage' of it in the last two years. 'I can tell you this,' he added. 'Everything that I was hoping was in there is certainly in there and many multiples more. Things that were only even rumoured to exist or that were completely unknown to anybody but Prince and whatever engineer was involved in the session.'
Astronomers have taken the first ever image of a black hole, which is located in a distant galaxy far, far away. It measures forty billion kilometres across - three million times the size of the Earth - and has been described by scientists as 'a monster.' The black hole is five hundred million trillion kilometres away and was photographed by a network of eight telescopes across the world. Details have been published in Astrophysical Journal Letters. Professor Heino Falcke, of Radboud University in the Netherlands, who proposed the experiment, told BBC News that the black hole was found in a galaxy called M87. 'What we see is larger than the size of our entire Solar System,' he said. 'It has a mass six-and-a-half billion times that of the Sun. And it is one of the heaviest black holes that we think exists. It is an absolute monster, the heavyweight champion of black holes in the Universe.' The image shows an intensely bright 'ring of fire,' as Professor Falcke (and Johnny Cash) describes it, surrounding 'a perfectly circular dark hole.' The bright halo is caused by superheated gas falling into the hole. The light is brighter than all the billions of other stars in the galaxy combined - which is why it can be seen at such distance from Earth. The edge of the dark circle at the centre is the point at which the gas enters the black hole, which is an object that has such a large gravitational pull, not even light can escape. The image matches what theoretical physicists and indeed, Hollywood directors, imagined black holes would look like, according to Doctor Ziri Younsi, of University College London - who is part of the collaboration. 'Although they are relatively simple objects, black holes raise some of the most complex questions about the nature of space and time, and ultimately of our existence,' he said. 'It is remarkable that the image we observe is so similar to that which we obtain from our theoretical calculations. So far, it looks like Einstein is correct once again.' Well, he was a smart guy was yer man Einstein, he certainly knew his onions. And, his theory of relativity, obviously. But, having the first image will enable researchers to learn more about these mysterious objects. They will be keen to look out for ways in which the black hole departs from what's expected in physics. No-one really knows how the bright ring around the hole is created. Even more intriguing is the question of what happens when an object falls into a black hole. A black hole is a region of space from which nothing, not even light, can escape. Despite the name, they are not empty but instead consist of a huge amount of matter packed densely into a small area, giving it an immense gravitational pull. There is a region of space beyond the black hole called the event horizon. This is a 'point of no return,' beyond which it is impossible to escape the gravitational effects. Professor Falcke had the idea for the project when he was a PhD student in 1993. At the time, no-one thought it was possible. But he was the first to realise that a certain type of radio emission would be generated close to and all around the black hole, which would be powerful enough to be detected by telescopes on Earth. He also recalled reading a scientific paper from 1973 which suggested that because of their enormous gravity, black holes appear two-and-a-half times larger than they actually are. These two previously unknown factors suddenly made the seemingly impossible, possible. After arguing his case for twenty years, Professor Falcke persuaded the European Research Council to fund the project. The National Science Foundation and agencies in East Asia then joined in to bankroll the project to the tune of more than forty million smackers. It is an investment that has been vindicated with the publication of the image. Professor Falcke told the BBC that he felt 'it is mission accomplished. It has been a long journey, but this is what I wanted to see with my own eyes. I wanted to know is this real?' No single telescope is powerful enough to image the black hole. So, in the biggest experiment of its kind, Professor Sheperd Doeleman of the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, led a project to set up a network of eight linked telescopes. Together, they form the Event Horizon Telescope and can be thought of as a planet-sized array of dishes. Each is located high up at a variety of exotic sites, including on volcanoes in Hawaii and Mexico, mountains in Arizona and the Spanish Sierra Nevada, in the Atacama Desert of Chile and in Antarctica. A team of two hundred scientists pointed the networked telescopes towards M87 and scanned its heart over a period of ten days. The information they gathered was too much to be sent across the Interweb. Instead, the data was stored on hundreds of hard drives which were flown to central processing centres in Boston (the one in Massachusetts, rather than the one in Lincolnshire) and Bonn to assemble the information. The process was also filmed for the - highly impressive - BBC4 documentary How To See A Black Hole: The Universes Biggest Mystery (narrated by yer actual Peter Capaldi his very self) which was broadcast this week. Professor Doeleman described the achievement as 'an extraordinary scientific feat. We have achieved something presumed to be impossible just a generation ago,' he added. 'Breakthroughs in technology, connections between the world's best radio observatories and innovative algorithms all came together to open an entirely new window on black holes.' The team is also imaging the supermassive black hole at the centre of our own galaxy, The Milky Way. Which, surprisingly, is actually harder than getting an image from a distant galaxy fifty five million light-years away. This is because, for unknown reasons, the 'ring of fire' around the black hole at the heart of The Milky Way is smaller and dimmer.
The news of which did, at least, give the Metro a contender for the From The North Headline Of The Week award.
Meanwhile, the BBC News website has a delightful profile of Doctor Katie Bouman who led development of the computer program which helped to make the breakthrough Black Hole image possible.
A space phenomenon which saw the Moon apparently 'swallow' the gas giant Saturn has been captured in stunning footage. The celestial event saw the ringed planet eventually re-emerge from the other side of the Moon - completing a process called occultation. It lasted for an hour and forty four minutes and was captured by photographer Cory Schmitz in Johannesburg. Schmitz said in his post: 'The raw view through my planetary imaging telescope from South Africa of the Saturn conjunction and occultation by Earth's Moon.' He posted a standalone picture to Instagram with colouration showing Saturn and its rings in the background, dwarfed by the nearby Moon. This required two separate images to be combined into a composite, one taking coloured data from the planet and another from the Moon. Schmitz explained: 'It's a composite image made from two sets of RGB data, one for the Moon and one for Saturn. I had to make a composite image because the Moon is far greater than the brightness of Saturn. To get a decent image I needed to use much higher gain for Saturn, which would blow out the moon exposure. So the Moon and Saturn were processed separately and combined.'
New observations made by scientists using the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii reveal that auroras appearing at Jupiter's poles heat the planet's atmosphere to a greater depth than earlier believed. An aurora is a natural electrical phenomenon, which is also observed on Earth's sky, specifically near the Northern and Southern magnetic poles. Auroras occur as a result of interaction between the solar winds and gases in Earth's upper atmosphere, the magnetosphere. Auroras are characterised by the appearance of streamers of green, red, blue or yellow light in the sky. Auroras can appear in different forms, but tend to stretch from East to West, across both horizons. According to scientists, the same phenomena happens on Jupiter. The Voyager I probe was the first mission to observe the auroras on Jupiter in 1979. By the 1990s, scientists realised that auroras on Jupiter were actually much bigger than first believed. The images captured by the Hubble Space Telescope revealed that the emanating lights on the gaseous planet were thousands of times brighter than initially thought. In the current study, the team used the Cooled Mid-Infrared Camera and Spectrograph instrument installed on the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii to observe the heating and chemical reactions occurring on the gaseous giant. The researchers found that the heating caused by solar winds on Jupiter extends into the stratosphere of Jupiter's atmosphere, meaning that the heating on Jupiter goes two or three times deeper down into its atmosphere than on Earth. The team also observed that within a day of the solar wind hitting Jupiter, temperatures on the planet increased sharply. Changes in the atmospheric chemistry of the planet were also observed. 'The solar wind impact at Jupiter is an extreme example of space weather,' said James Sinclair, the lead researcher from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. 'We're seeing the solar wind having an effect deeper than is normally seen.' The team hopes these observations can help shed new light on the evolution of planets and to help them learn more about the atmosphere of planets with harsh environments. The detailed findings of the study are published in journal Nature Astronomy.
The first privately funded mission to the Moon will attempt to land on the lunar surface this week. The Israeli spacecraft - called Beresheet - will try for a soft touch down, before taking pictures and conducting experiments. Until now, only government space agencies from the former Soviet Union, the US, China and India have achieved this. The mission has cost about one hundred million dollars, paving the way for future low-cost lunar exploration. Beresheet - which is Hebrew for 'in the beginning' - is a joint project between SpaceIL, a privately funded Israeli non-profit organisation and Israel Aerospace Industries. Morris Kahn, the founder of SpaceIL, told BBC News: 'The landing will be extremely challenging. But we've got good engineers, the spacecraft has responded well to our instructions over the last two months. I'm reasonably confident but a little nervous.' In space terms, the Moon is a mere hop from the Earth and most missions take a few days to get there. But the Beresheet mission, which launched on 22 February from Cape Canaveral in Florida, has spent weeks reaching its destination. Its journey has taken it on a series of ever-widening orbits around the Earth, before being captured by the Moon's gravity and moving into lunar orbit on 4 April. The main thing driving this has been cost. Instead of sitting alone on a rocket that would put it on the perfect trajectory to the Moon, it blasted off on a SpaceX Falcon Nine rocket along with a communications satellite and an experimental aircraft. Sharing the ride into space significantly reduced its launch costs - but it has meant the spacecraft has had to take a much more convoluted route. A soft landing on the lunar surface will be a major challenge. Key to its success will be a British-built engine, developed by Nammo in Buckinghamshire. The Leros engine has already provided the power to get the spacecraft all the way to the Moon, but it will also take Beresheet on its final descent. The one metre-tall spacecraft has to rapidly reduce its speed, so a final firing of the engine will in effect slam on the brakes, hopefully taking the spacecraft to a gentle stop. Rob Westcott, senior propulsion engineer at Nammo, said 'We've never used an engine in this kind of application before. The big challenge is the fact that the engine is going to have to be switched on and get very hot, then switched off for a short period of time when all that heat is remaining in its thermal mass and then fired up again, very accurately and very precisely such that it slows the craft down and lands very softly on the surface on the Moon.' The process should take about twenty minutes. All of the controls for this have been uploaded and will be performed autonomously - mission control will have to watch on. The spacecraft's first job on the surface will be to use its high resolution cameras to take some photos - including a selfie - and then send those back to Earth. It will then begin to measure the magnetic field of the spot it's landed in, an area known as Mare Serenitatis. Monica Grady, professor of planetary and space science at Open University, said: 'They'll be looking at the landing site really closely, which will help to work out how the magnetic measurements of the Moon fit in with the geology and geography of the Moon, which is really important to understand how the Moon formed.' The lander also carries a reflector from NASA, which help scientists to make accurate measurements of the distance between the Earth and the Moon. The mission won't last very long though - perhaps only a few Earth days. Temperatures on the Moon are extreme and as the Sun rises the spacecraft is unlikely to survive the heat. Beresheet is not alone in pursuing low-cost lunar exploration. Its origins lie in the Google Lunar XPrize, an international challenge offering twenty million dollars for the first privately developed spacecraft to land on the Moon. And, while the competition ended last year after no-one was able to meet its deadline (the foundation have subsequently announced they will award the Beresheet collaboration a million bucks for their achievement), other teams involved are also continuing with their efforts to get to the Moon. Both NASA and ESA have also announced their intention to use commercial landers to deliver scientific payloads to the lunar surface.
A new image of 'dust devil tracks' on the surface of Mars has been released by the European Space Agency this week. ESA wrote: 'Mars may have a reputation for being a desolate world, but it is certainly not dead: its albeit thin atmosphere is still capable of whipping up a storm and, as this image reveals, sending hundreds - maybe even thousands - of "dust devils" scurrying across the surface. These swirling columns of wind scour away the top layer of surface material and transport it elsewhere. Their course is plotted by the streaks they leave behind - the newly exposed surface material, which is coloured in blue/grey in this recent image from the CaSSIS camera on board the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter. Dust devils on Mars form in the same way as those on Earth: when the ground gets hotter than the air above it, rising plumes of hot air move through cooler denser air, creating an updraft, with the cooler air sinking and setting up a vertical circulation. If a horizontal gust of wind blows through, the dust devil is triggered. Once whirling fast enough, the spinning funnels can pick up dust and push it around the surface. As seen in this image, not much can stand in the way of a dust devil: they sweep up the sides of mounds, and down across the floors of impact craters alike.'
Venus may have once been a water-rich, Earth-like world whose raging volcanism morphed it into the overheated planet it is today. But it didn't become a nightmarish Hell-planet overnight. The fingerprints of its gradual shift may be present in some of the oldest surface features, hidden in plain sight. To understand what happened on the neighbouring world billions of years in the past, researchers are turning to tesserae, complex geologic features on the Venusian surface whose origins remain a mystery. Tesserae are broad plains where rocks have been folded and broken by geologic activity. 'On Earth, such deformation of rocks does not usually occur at the surface - instead, such deformation typically occurs at depth, many kilometres below the surface,' Richard Ernst, a geologist at Carleton University in Canada, told the website. Since the tesserae of Venus lie on, rather than under, the surface they must have been unearthed, Ernst said. Surface rocks above them could have shattered apart, revealing the tesserae beneath. Alternatively, interior rocks could have lifted the tesserae to the surface. In both situations, erosion of the tesserae would have played a significant role and that's what Ernst wants his fellow scientists to be on the lookout for. He presented his research in March at the Lunar and Planetary Sciences Conference in The Woodlands, Texas. According to Ernst, the tesserae 'likely' formed during Venus's cooler period, when water running across the surface could have acted to erode the rocky formations. By hunting for signs of water erosion, Ernst believes that it may be possible to track the warming of Venus over its lifetime, confirming the theory that the planet was once a more welcoming place. 'The search for erosional features in tesserae terrains is a key test of a hyper-global warming climate change for Venus,' Ernst said. A potential sign of erosion on the tesserae of Venus. The arrows indicate the location and direction of what could be erosion by water. Today, Venus is a truly Hellish place, with temperatures reaching an average of eight hundred and sixty four degrees Fahrenheit. But at least one recent model predicts that, in its past, Venus may have been an Earth-like planet, with water running across its surface. What changed the paradisical world into a sweltering hotbox? Extreme volcanism. Volcanoes dot the surface of Venus, and much of its surface is young. Previous studies have revealed signs of features that resembled enormous volcanic features on Earth known as large igneous provinces. On Earth, LIPs result from enormous volcanic explosions with volumes of at least twenty four thousand cubic miles, enough to cover all of the United States to a depth of anywhere from thirty three feet to five miles. 'LIPs on Earth are associated with the breakup of supercontinents, catastrophic climate change including mass extinctions and also some major ore deposit types,' Ernst said. Volcanic eruptions dump gases like carbon dioxide into the air. On Earth, plate tectonics work as part of the carbon cycle to help remove the gas from the atmosphere and trap it in rocks. Venus, however, doesn't have plate tectonics, so the carbon dioxide levels continue to rise, triggering a greenhouse effect that slowly warms the planet. Scientists have already identified a major phase of LIP-style eruptions that took place about seven hundred million years ago, kicking off the rise in temperatures. We should expect the beginning of the major time of volcanism should be the beginning of global warming,' Ernst said. Because the volcanism can take anywhere from one to ten million years to heat the atmosphere, Ernst thinks that the resulting climate changes 'may' have been preserved in the tesserae. He believes Venus may host features suggestive of a water-rich past such as stream cuts, gravel deposits, mudslides, alluvial fans and deltas. If these features exist, why has no one spotted them yet? Ernst thinks that this is because no one was looking for them. 'The idea of erosion on Venus has always been hard to imagine given the present-day superhot temperatures and the absence of free water,' Ernst said. With the emergence of the new model predicting that Venus was once cooler and water-rich, erosion features become easier to envision. Ernst suspects that having a model in hand that allows water to have once flowed across the surface will lead to more researchers identifying erosional features. Enter tesserae. On a surface that was mostly recovered by volcanism, tesserae may provide some of the best links to the water-rich world of the past. They are among the oldest visible surface features and remain uncovered by the volcanic plains, Ernst said. The next step toward identifying signs of erosion is more detailed mapping of the features on Venus. Erosion features would support the idea that the planet was water-rich when young. Dating those features would allow scientists a glimpse of how the planet changed over time. 'If we are able to identify erosion in the tesserae then we are essentially confirming the [recent] model that predicts that Venus had an Earth-like climate in the past,' Ernst said.
Archaeologists have begun re-excavating a hidden Roman bath which was first discovered one hundred and thirty years ago. After its discovery, the site in Bath was excavated and then backfilled, with only limited records about its structure being kept. It is one of eight baths known as The Roman Baths and is beneath York Street next to the main suite. The work is taking place before the conversion of nearby former Victorian spa buildings. Stephen Clews, manager of The Roman Baths, said: 'The excavation of this bath is part of the most significant archaeological investigations to have taken place at The Roman Baths for more than thirty years. It is helping us to build a picture of what was happening on the South side of the site, where it has been very difficult to gain access in the past.' Excavation is taking place before the Archway Project, which will provide new surroundings for visitors to The Roman Baths. The scheme - carried out by Bath and North East Somerset Council - will also create a new World Heritage Centre for the city which is due to open this year. The excavation is likely to finish in May.
Rafa The Gaffer Benitez has urged Keith Telly Topping's beloved, though unsellable, Newcastle to be 'more competitive' in the summer transfer market after they took a big step towards retaining their Premier League status with victory at Leicester City on Friday evening. Ayoze Pérez scored his first away league goal of the season with a glancing header as The Magpies recovered from back-to-back defeats to move ten points clear of the relegation zone. Newcastle spent just over twenty million knicker last summer - plus a further twenty million notes in January, albeit, om one player - and manager Benitez, whose contract is set to expire at the end of the season, says they can 'compete' with teams in the top half of the league by 'doing the right things. You can do everything right with your tactics, but the other team has one player that can make the difference,' Benitez, whose side have moved up to thirteenth place, told Sky Sports. 'You'd have to pay thirty million pounds to buy a Leicester player.' The Foxes started confidently, having won their previous four matches under Brendan Rodgers, but they struggled to play through their disciplined visitors. Salomón Rondón almost handed the visitors a spectacular lead when he struck the crossbar with a powerful free-kick from thirty five yards. Newcastle remained resolute and were rewarded when Pérez scored with over half-an-hour played. The Spaniard rose well inside The Foxes' box to meet Matt Ritchie's pinpoint cross and nod the ball over Kasper Schmeichel. A narrow miss by Miguel Almirón on the hour after a fabulous solo run by Fabian Schär then heralded City's best period of the game. The Magpies sat deep, allowing Leicester possession in the midfield but making it tough for them to play between the lines. When Jamie Vardy's chance eventually came in the final ten minutes - as Youri Tielemans slid him through on goal - he appeared to rush his effort and lifted the ball high over the crossbar. Rodgers' first home defeat as Leicester boss saw his side remain in seventh, though eighth-placed Wolves are level on points with two games in hand. Leicester dominated the ball with more than seventy per cent possession but Newcastle restricted them to a mere five shots on target in the entire match. Martin Dúbravka saved well after a solo run by Harvey Barnes and a right-footed strike by Ben Chilwell as Leicester tried to force the initiative early on, but it was the visitors who posed the greater threat on the counter attack - and Rondón's fifteenth-minute free-kick almost brought spectacular reward. Benitez' side were rigid in their shape and targeted Leicester midfielder Wilfred Ndidi, who lost the ball nine times in the first-half, before springing clear in attack. Ritchie whipped in two testing crosses with his excellent left foot before Newcastle took the lead, as Leicester failed to heed the warning. The visitors pinched the ball deep in the Leicester half once more before Ritchie delivered an accurate cross for Pérez to convert for his seventh Premier League goal of the season - securing Newcastle's third win on the road. Over three thousand travelling Toonies made a Hell of a racket all night, with the players and manager saluting their contribution at full time. It was Newcastle's first back-to-back league wins on visits to Leicester in the top flight since September 1959 under then manager Charlie Mitten.
Cardiff City's relegation fears increased with a controversial two-nil defeat by relegation rivals Burnley on Saturday, while Southampton also took a big step towards safety. Burnley beat The Bluebirds with two goals from Chris Wood but at one-nil Cardiff were awarded a penalty for handball, only for referee Mike Dean to reverse his decision. Which, as you'd except, left Cardiff manager Neil Wazzcock with a face like a smacked arse. So, no change there, then. Cardiff remain eighteenth after the defeat but the three points for Burnley took them up to fourteenth, eleven points clear of their opponents. Southampton beat Wolves three-one at St Mary's Stadium with two goals from Nathan Redmond and one from Shane Long to move eight points ahead of Cardiff in sixteenth. Brighton & Hove Albinos are now seventeenth, five points clear of safety, after they were thrashed five-nil at home by Bournemouth. Albinos next game is against Cardiff on Tuesday in what could be the very definition of a 'six-pointer'. Lucas Moura scored a hat-trick for Stottingtot Hotshots in the Saturday lunchtime kick-off as his side beat already relegated Huddersfield Town four-nil. Elsewhere, Fulham, whose relegation is also already confirmed, won for the first time since January by beating Everton two-nil at Craven Cottage.
Police are reportedly investigating an incident in the tunnel after Barnsley's League One match against Fleetwood at Oakwell. Barnsley striker Cauley Woodrow tweeted that Fleetwood manager - and arch nutter - Joey Barton 'confronted' Tykes boss Daniel Stendel. And blood was, allegedly, spilled. Woodrow tweeted that Stendel had been left with some claret 'pouring from his face' before deleting the post soon afterwards. Sky Sports News subsequently showed footage of Barton attempting to leave the ground in a car - at speed - but being stopped from doing so by The Fuzz. A South Yorkshire Police spokesman confirmed: 'We are aware of something that has taken place in the tunnel after the game and we are investigating.' Barnsley said they were 'assisting the police with its enquiries.' BBC Radio Lancashire reports that Fleetwood have 'declined to comment' on the incident and no member of coaching or playing staff from either side was made available for a post-match interview. Barnsley had earlier moved back into the automatic promotion places in League One with four-two victory over ten-man Fleetwood who had Harry Souttar sent off for elbowing Cameron McGeehan in the mush during an aerial challenge. Barnsley leap-frogged Blunderland after The Mackem Filth were beaten by Coventry City in a nine-goal thriller at The Stadium of Plight. Luton Town remain at the top of the League One table despite their first loss in twenty eight games, a three-one defeat at fifth placed Charlton Not Very Athletic.
One of Luton, Barnsley, Blunderland, Portsmouth or Charlton will be replacing Ipswich Town in The Championship next season as The Tractor Boys became the first team to be relegated in the Football League this season after they drew with Birmingham City. The hosts went into the game knowing that anything less than a win would see their seventeen-year stay in the second tier come to an end, but they fell behind after just seven minutes when Lukas Jutkiewicz hammered home from close range. Gwion Edwards levelled for Ipswich straight after the break before Alan Judge hit the post for the home side. Judge's effort was as close to a winner as Paul Lambert's side came, as their relegation to League One was confirmed with four games of the season to go. It has been a dire campaign for the Suffolk side, who sacked boss Paul Hurst after just one league win from his fourteen games in charge. Replacement Lambert has been unable to turn the club's fortunes around and admitted before Saturday's game that relegation to the third tier, for the first time since 1957, had been hanging over the club's head 'for months.' The thoughts of former boss, Mick McCarthy, who left the club at the end of last season after Ipswich fans protested that, basically, they hated him and everything he stood for are not known at this time. But, they probably include the word 'bastards'.
League Two leaders Lincoln City became the first club to win promotion in the Football League this season after drawing with Cheltenham Town. The Imps, who have not played in the third tier of English football since 1999, now need just three points from their remaining four games to secure the title. Shay McCartan gave the hosts the lead with a powerful shot that beat Robins goalkeeper Scott Flinders at his near post. George Lloyd headed in a Chris Hussey cross to level for the visitors, but Mansfield's draw at Northampton and MK Dons' defeat at Tranmere meant that a point was enough for Lincoln to clinch one of the promotion places. Boss Danny Cowley has now guided the Sincil Bank side to two promotions in his three seasons at the club, as well as winning the Checkatrade Trophy at Wembley last season.
Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa has been banned for eight games after being found guilty of abusing a referee. The former Moscow Chelski FC player was sent off by official Jesus Gil Manzano during Atletico's two-nil loss to Barcelona in La Liga. Manzano said in his match report that the Spanish international had 'insulted his mother,' a claim which Costa denied. The Spanish Football Federation did not buy his denial, however and the ban rules him out of Atletico's remaining La Liga fixtures this season. It will also extend one game into next season. Costa, who can appeal against the ban, received a four game suspension for insults to the referee and a further four for grabbing the official's arm. 'I asked the referee and he told me Costa said something to him,' Atletico manager Diego Simeone said after the game. 'Other players have said things and not been sent off but that does not justify what Costa did.'
A Fulham fan - albeit, one living in California rather than South London - is suing a state agency after he was banned from having the letters 'COYW' on a personalised car number plate, as they feared the slogan 'Come on you whites' had 'racist connotations.' Which, in some circumstances it could have but, in this particular case, it very definitely does not. University professor Jonathan Kotler that said he was 'shocked' and 'stunned' at the decision. Launching his legal case, he claimed the decision by the California Department of Motor Vehicles 'violated his right to freedom of speech.' And, his right to support a football club based eight thousand miles away from his gaff. Obviously. 'It's just a shirt colour,' he said. 'The people at the DMV are either extra thick or very PC.' Professor Kotler applied for a plate that would read 'COY-W' - an abbreviation of the slogan commonly used by relegation-bound Fulham football fans - and a hashtag seen every weekend on many Twitter posts about the club. The seventy three-year-old, who was born in New Jersey and now lives in Calabasas, has been a fan of Fulham FC for 'decades,' after watching a match 'by happenchance' during a visit to London. He claimed that he was, originally, a fan of both The Scum and Fulham, but chose his current allegiance in 2006 when both teams were in the Premier League. That, obviously, won't be a problem for the professor next season when Fulham won't be in the Premier League. So, he can go back to being a Red as well if he wants. Particularly as, given that he lives in California, that makes him virtually a local boy compared to the majority of The Scum's worldwide support. Professor Kotler, who teaches media law at the University of Southern California, put in his application for the number plate last year and had to include the reasons for his choice of letters, but it was turned down. The Department of Motor Vehicles said the 'COYW' slogan 'could be considered hostile, insulting, or racially degrading,' according to the US federal legal case. 'I sent them tons of material,' Professor Kotler whinged to the BBC. 'Press releases, stories from the British media, letters from the chairman who uses "come on you whites." I pointed out that many clubs in Britain are known by their colour - the Blues, the Clarets. Nobody thought the Liverpool Reds were Communists.' Well, as far as we know, anyway. He added: 'Even when I did it, it was the furthest thing from my mind that anyone would object to it. I was shocked, absolutely.' He said the club's owner, Shahid Khan, 'uses the phrase all the time. Half of the team are non-white. And it's just a shirt colour. It's got nothing to do with anything other than that. I decided this is crazy, this is enough. I can take it up to a point but this became personal.' Professor Kotler said that he travels to watch Fulham play in Britain on average around eight to ten times a season, often taking the eleven-hour flight on a Thursday and returning back in the US by Tuesday ready to teach his students. In his legal complaint, he is asking the court to declare the DMV's criteria for personalised licence plates 'unconstitutional.' He claims he has been deprived of his right to freedom of speech. The Department of Motor Vehicles says that it does not comment on pending legal cases. Particularly indefensible ones such as this. Licence plates in California will be refused if they carry any configuration deemed 'offensive to good taste and decency.' Albeit, 'deemed' by whom and usual what criteria, the DMV don't say. These 'deemed offensive' items include: sexual connotations, or terms of lust or depravity; vulgar terms, terms of contempt, prejudice or hostility, insulting or degrading terms and racially or ethnically degrading terms; swear words or terms considered profane, obscene or repulsive; configurations with a negative connotation to a specific group; configurations misrepresenting a law enforcement entity and foreign or slang words, or phonetic spellings or mirror images of words falling into the above categories. The number 'sixty nine' is reserved for cars made in 1969.
How many people can say they got their first international call-up at the age of forty nine? And of those - if there are any - how many can say they were spotted while playing a match on billionaire businessman Sir Richard Branson's Caribbean holiday island of Mosquito? Martin Smith, a plumber from Ipswich, would seem to be the only one. After playing in that charity game, he was thrust into the British Virgin Islands squad for their CONCACAF Nations League qualifiers against Bonaire and the Turks & Caicos Islands last month in Anguilla. Selected as reserve goalkeeper in those games he is yet to win a cap, but if he did it would make him the second-oldest international player in the world. 'I enjoyed playing but hadn't played for fifteen or twenty years,' Smith told BBC Sport. 'There were players there that played for the BVI national team and a week before this first game in Anguilla I had a call from the head coach. One of the English-based goalkeepers that flies in to play for the BVI had broken his shoulder and he asked if I would be interested in being back-up goalkeeper and maybe do a bit of coaching. It took me all of about twelve seconds to say yes,' added Smith, who played at a decent standard of non-league football in his native Suffolk. The British Virgin Islands is a British Overseas Territory, so people living there are classed as British citizens and anyone with a British passport is eligible to play for them - provided they meet residency requirements. Life away from the UK has always appealed to Smith - he worked as a holiday rep in places such as Tenerife and Majorca and did ski seasons in France and the USA. He moved to the Bahamas to work with his cousin five years ago, before getting a job a couple of years later as the plumbing supervisor on Branson's exclusive island. 'I'm still pinching myself now that I was involved with an international football squad,' he says. 'The week in Anguilla was an eye-opener. We were getting police escorts to the games, we had stands full of people and I had friends back in the UK who were watching it being live streamed. It was quite bizarre when we played the Turks and Caicos because we sung our national anthem, 'God Save The Queen', then they sung theirs and it was 'God Save The Queen' as well!' Though, probably not The Sex Pistols' version, one suspects. George Weah's final appearance for Liberia, against Nigeria last September, aged fifty one years and three hundred and forty five days, beat the previous record for the oldest international player held by Greece's Yorghos Koudas, who was forty eight when he played his last game in 1995. Smith said that his first day's training with the BVI squad was 'an eye-opener' as he chased men more than two decades his junior along the Caribbean sands. 'They say goalkeepers don't have to be fit and that was a lucky thing because after I tried to keep up with these guys on the beach for the first day, the next day was quite a painful twenty four hours for me,' he said. But that has not stopped Smith eyeing up a chance to stay involved in some capacity when they face Bonaire and the Bahamas in Group C of the third tier of the CONCACAF Nations League starting in September. 'They're very winnable games,' he says. 'If the other young goalkeeper's shoulder is repaired, I'll be seeing if they wouldn't mind me still being the international goalkeeper coach and be back-up.'
Guadalajara under-seventeen player Diego Campillo scored one of the luckiest penalties you will ever see during a shootout against Lobos BUAP in Mexico on Saturday. 'Incredible!'
Mind you, this isn't the first such occurrence. Take this similar 'look out, it's behind you' moment from 2017 when Bangkok Sports Club beat Satri Angthong twenty-nineteen in a dramatic penalty shootout which ended thus.
And then, of course, there was this one. What about that, Kammy?
Just one day after the news of the death of Liverpool legend Tommy Smith was announced, former England international Ivor Broadis has also died, aged ninety six. Ivor won fourteen caps for his country and scored twice in three appearances in the 1954 World Cup. Christened Ivan, the Londoner first made his name during the war guesting for Spurs, Millwall and Carlisle while a serving officer in the RAF. During his post-war club career, Ivor played as an inside-forward for Carlisle United (in two spells), Blunderland, Manchester City, this blogger's beloved Newcastle United and Queen Of The South. In a Twitter tribute, Carlisle described him as 'a true gentleman, a fantastic athlete and sportsman and a top quality journalist' whilst Newcastle also paid Ivor a moving online tribute. Posted to RAF Crosby-on-Eden after the war, Ivor signed for Carlisle in 1946. Although he was only twenty three years old, he was offered the player-manager's job and remains the youngest man to have held such a position in Football League history. He subsequently sold himself to Blunderland for eighteen thousand pounds, arguing that the sale was in the best interests of the club. Ivor worked as a football reporter in the city following his retirement and was England's oldest surviving international footballer. He lived with his family in the village of Linstock, near Carlisle. Last year he was made a freeman of the city. As well as his sporting achievements, Ivor was also recognised for his five hundred flying hours during the war. He helped return hundreds of troops home to Britain in his role as a navigator.
Mike Ashley's Sports Direct has whinged that the takeover of Debenhams by its lenders as part of an administration process is 'nothing short of a national scandal.' A bit like Ashley's own zero-hour contract malarkey at Sports Direct or, indeed, his outrageous mismanagement of this blogger's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle United. The store chain rejected two last-ditch takeover offers from Sports Direct. Under Tuesday's deal, all stores will remain open for the time being, although some have been earmarked for closure. Ashley whinged that politicians and regulators had been 'as effective as a chocolate teapot.' Or, as effective as Steve McClaren was when Ashey appointed him at this blogger's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle United. Point very much taken, sir. He also called for the administration process to be 'reversed.' Which, it won't be. Debenhams is the biggest department store chain in the UK with one hundred and sixty six stores. It employs about twenty five thousand people. Its lenders are made up of High Street banks and US hedge funds. Ashley whinged that reversing the administration process would mean 'a full, better and appropriate solvent solution can be found.' He added: 'This solution would include allowing myself and appropriate senior Sports Direct management access to detailed information to save the business for all stakeholders. The board of Debenhams and its advisers have sought to stifle and exclude us from their so-called process and have undermined and blocked our various offers of assistance as they carried out their underhand plan to steal from shareholders.' Sports Direct said that it had 'formally registered' its interest in buying Debenhams from its new owners. However, Chris Wootton, Sports Direct's deputy chief financial officer told the BBC he believed Debenhams lenders 'may already have a plan' in place: 'It's a case of the deal being done with a third party that keeps us locked out of it.' Oh, the tragedy. He said the firm was 'considering legal action' against Debenhams' board over shareholders' losses. Debenhams has passed through a pre-pack administration process. This lets a company sell itself, or its assets, as a going concern, without affecting the operation of the business. The lenders now take control of the business and will look to sell it on, while shareholders lose their investments. It means that Ashley's near-thirty per cent stake in the company, which cost about one hundred and fifty million notes to build up, is wiped out. On Monday, Debenhams rejected a one hundred and fifty million knicker rescue offer from Sports Direct, which was increased to two hundred million quid in the early hours of Tuesday. The higher offer was rejected because Ashley wanted to be chief executive. All Debenhams' stores will initially continue to trade, although about fifty branches had already been earmarked for closure in the future. Its lenders include Barclays and Bank of Ireland, as well as Silver Point and GoldenTree. As well as the planned closures, it has also been renegotiating rents with landlords to tackle its funding problems. It has not released a list of which shops may be shut. In February, it was revealed that the closure of twenty stores could be brought forward if the retailer took out a company voluntary arrangement, a form of insolvency that can enable firms to seek rent cuts and close unwanted stores. The company explained that its restructuring plans would continue and that, if approved, they would 'result in a significant overall reduction in the group's rent burden and underpin a sustainable future.' The stores will continue to trade as normal and administrators have confirmed to the BBC that customers will be able to spend any gift cards that they already have. Debenhams chairman Terry Duddy said: 'We remain focused on protecting as many stores and jobs as possible, consistent with establishing a sustainable store portfolio in line with our previous guidance. In the meantime, our customers, colleagues, pension holders, suppliers and landlords can be reassured that Debenhams will now be able to move forward on a stable footing.' A spokesman for the company's pension schemes said the schemes had been transferred to the newly incorporated company. 'Members can therefore be reassured that the schemes are carrying on as usual.' One major sticking point was that Ashley wanted to become chief executive. The hostilities became ever more acrimonious. At one point, he suggested two board members take lie detector tests. The lenders were also - rightly - suspicious of Ashley's intentions. 'If we give him the keys to the castle, he might change the locks,' one person allegedly 'familiar with the situation' allegedly snitched to the BBC. The new owners are already looking for a buyer, willing to take on the huge debts and liabilities of this household name. Debenhams has been struggling for a while and issued three profit warnings in 2018. It also has a debt pile of six hundred and twenty two million knicker. Last year, it reported a record pre-tax loss of four hundred and ninety one million quid. It later reported that its sales had 'fallen sharply' over Christmas. The scale and high cost of running stores as well as the investments needed to run a company in the modern retailing environment also put the company under financial pressure.
Twenty-year-old Sam Curran has become the youngest Englishman in a century to be named as one of Wisden's five Cricketers of the Year. The all-rounder was named alongside his international team-mates Jos Buttler and Rory Burns. England batter Tammy Beaumont and India captain Virat Kohli complete the list. Kohli was also named the leading cricketer in the world, while compatriot Smriti Mandhana was the world's leading women's cricketer. Afghanistan's Rashid Khan was named the world's leading Twenty20 cricketer for a second year running. Excluding 1918 and 1919 when schoolboy cricketers were honoured after the end of World War One, only Jack Crawford, who was nineteen when he was named as one of the five leading cricketers in 1907, was a younger recipient than Curran. The Cricketer of the Year award can only be won once by a player in their career and is based on performances during the English summer. Both Burns and Curran made their test debuts in 2018, as well as helping Surrey to win their first County Championship title since 2002. Curran scored two hundred and seventy two runs and took eleven wickets to be named man of the series in England's four-one win over India in September. Opening batsman Burns, who captains Surrey's red-ball side, was the Championship's leading run-scorer and subsequently made his England test debut. Buttler returned to England's test side in the summer and made his first century, as well as scoring three hundred and thirty six runs in England's fifty-over whitewash of Australia. He has scored more runs than any other England test player since his recall in May 2018 and is England's vice-captain in all three formats of the game. Opener Beaumont hit the fastest T20 century by an England women's player in June when she reached three figures from just forty seven balls. She averaged 50.22 from nine one-day internationals in 2018 and made back-to-back centuries against South Africa during the summer. India's prolific batsman Kohli, who was named Leading Cricketer for the third successive year, scored two thousand seven hundred and thirty five runs across all three formats in 2018 - more than seven hundred more than his nearest rival, Joe Root. During that period he scored eleven centuries in thirty seven innings and ultimately led India to their first test series victory in Australia. England's leading test wicket-taker, Jimmy Anderson and leading run-scorer Alastair Cook - who retired from international cricket in 2018 - are on the front cover of the one hundred and fifty sixth edition of Wisden.
Rugby Australia and the New South Wales Rugby Union say they intend to terminate Israel Folau's contract after a social media post by the full-back in which he claimed that 'Hell awaits' gay people. Folau, thirty (and, therefore, old enough to know better, frankly), has seventy three caps and was expected to play at this year's World Cup. But, no he won't. 'He does not speak for the game with his recent social media posts,' the governing bodies said. 'In the absence of compelling mitigating factors, it is our intention to terminate his contract.' Rugby Australia and the NSW Rugby Union said they have made 'repeated attempts' to contact Folau and he has failed to get in touch with either organisation. So, they then decided to sack him sorry homophobic ass and throw him in the gutter along with all the other turds, it would appear. 'Israel has failed to understand that the expectation of him as a Rugby Australia and NSW Waratahs employee is that he cannot share material on social media that condemns, vilifies or discriminates against people on the basis of their sexuality,' the governing bodies said in a statement. 'As a code we have made it clear to Israel formally and repeatedly that any social media posts or commentary that is in any way disrespectful to people because of their sexuality will result in disciplinary action.' Australia's sponsor, Qantas, whose chief executive Alan Joyce is gay, said that Folau's post was 'really disappointing. These comments clearly don't reflect the spirit of inclusion and diversity that we support,' the airline said. Folau, who signed a four-year deal with The Waratahs in March, escaped punishment for similar comments made last year, with Rugby Australia saying it accepted - but did not support - his 'position.' On Wednesday, he posted on Instagram that 'drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters' should 'repent' because 'only Jesus saves' and made similar remarks on Twitter. He sent a tweet criticising the Tasmanian parliament, which has become the first Australian state to make it legally optional to list gender on birth certificates. Seemingly, Folau, like many Christians is fond of quoting the Bible but a bit reluctant to follow the teaching of Matthew 7:1. Just sayin'.
Asher Budwig, the managing director of Lola's Cupcakes, says that the company has identified soft cheese as one of the products which 'might be affected by Brexit disruption as it is imported from Germany.
There is a new addition to the family tree: an extinct species of human that has been found in the Philippines. It is known as Homo luzonensis, after the site of its discovery on the country's largest island Luzon. Its physical features are thought to be a mixture of those found in very ancient human ancestors and in more recent people. That could mean that primitive human relatives left Africa and made it all the way to South-East Asia, something not previously thought possible. The find shows that human evolution in the region may have been 'a highly complicated affair,' with three or more entirely separate human species in the region at around the time our ancestors arrive. One of these species was the diminutive 'Hobbit' - Homo floresiensis - which survived on the Indonesian island of Flores until around fifty thousand years ago. Professor Chris Stringer, from London's Natural History Museum, commented: 'After the remarkable finds of the diminutive Homo floresiensis were published in 2004, I said that the experiment in human evolution conducted on Flores could have been repeated on many of the other islands in the region. That speculation has, seemingly, been confirmed on the island of Luzon nearly three thousand kilometres away.' The new specimens from Callao Cave, in the North of Luzon, are described in the journal Nature. They have been dated to between fifty and sixty seven thousand years ago. They consist of thirteen remains - teeth, hand and foot bones, as well as part of a femur - that belong to 'at least' three adult and juvenile individuals. They have been recovered in excavations at the cave since 2007. Homo luzonensis has some physical similarities to recent humans, but in other features hark back to the australopithecines, upright-walking ape-like creatures which lived in Africa between two and four million years ago, as well as very early members of the genus Homo. The finger and toe bones are curved, suggesting climbing was still an important activity for this species. This also seems to have been the case for some australopithecines. If australopithecine-like species were able to reach South-East Asia, it would change the way our ideas about who in our human family tree left Africa first. Homo erectus has long been speculated to have been the first member of our direct line to leave the African homeland - just under two million years ago. Given that Luzon was only ever accessible by sea, the find raises questions about how pre-human species might have reached the island. In addition to Homo luzonensis, island South-East Asia also appears to have been home to another human species called the Denisovans, who appear to have interbred with early modern Homo sapiens when they arrived in the region. This evidence comes from analysis of DNA, as no known Denisovan fossils have been found in the region. The Indonesian island of Flores was home to Homo floresiensis, nicknamed 'The Hobbits' because of their small stature. They are thought to have survived there from at least one hundred thousand years ago until fifty thousand years ago - potentially overlapping with the arrival of Homo sapiens. Interestingly, scientists have also argued that Homo floresiensis shows physical features which are 'reminiscent' of those found in australopithecines. But, other researchers have argued that The Hobbits were descended from Homo erectus but that some of their anatomy reverted to 'a more primitive state.' In an article published in Nature, Matthew Tocheri from Lakehead University in Canada, who was not involved with the research, commented: 'Explaining the many similarities that H. floresiensis and H. luzonensis share with early Homo species and australopiths as independently acquired reversals to a more ancestral-like hominin anatomy, owing to evolution in isolated island settings, seems like a stretch of coincidence too far.'
Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange has been extremely arrested at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Assange took refuge in the embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over a sexual assault case which has since been dropped. At Westminster Magistrates' Court on Thursday he was found very guilty of failing to surrender to the court. He now faces US federal conspiracy charges related to one of the largest ever leaks of government secrets. The UK will decide whether to extradite Assange, in response to allegations by the Department for Justice that he 'conspired' with former US intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to download four classified databases. He faces up to five years in The Slammer if convicted on the charges of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion. Assange's lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, said they would be fighting the extradition request. She said it set 'a dangerous precedent' where any journalist could face US charges for 'publishing truthful information about the United States.' She said that she had visited Assange in the police cells where he thanked supporters and said: 'I told you so.' Assange had predicted that he would face extradition to the US if he left the embassy. After his arrest, the forty seven-year-old was initially taken to a Central London police station before appearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court. Dressed in a black suit and black polo shirt, he waved to the public gallery and gave a thumbs up. He pleaded not guilty to the 2012 charge of failing to surrender to the court. The court heard that during his arrest at the embassy he had to be restrained and shouted: 'This is unlawful, I am not leaving' as someone in the embassy pushed his ass put into the street. Finding him extremely guilty, District Judge Michael Snow said that Assange's behaviour was that 'of a narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interest.' He sent Assange to Southwark Crown Court for sentencing, where he faces up to twelve months in The Joint. Australian national Assange set up Wikileaks in 2006 with the aim of obtaining and publishing confidential documents and images. The organisation hit the headlines four years later when it released footage of US soldiers killing civilians from a helicopter in Iraq. Former US intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning was arrested in 2010 for disclosing more than seven hundred thousand confidential documents, videos and diplomatic cables to the anti-secrecy website. She said that she only did so to 'spark debates' about foreign policy, but US officials claimed the leak put lives at risk. The indictment against Assange, issued last year in the state of Virginia, alleges that Assange 'conspired' in 2010 with Manning to access classified information on Department of Defence computers. Manning downloaded four databases from US departments and agencies between January and May 2010, the indictment says. This information, much of which was classified, was provided to Wikileaks. The US Justice Department described it as 'one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States.' Cracking a password stored on the computers, the indictment alleges, would have allowed Manning to log on to them in such a way as to make it harder for investigators to determine the source of the disclosures. It is unclear whether the password was actually broken. Correspondents say the narrowness of the charge seems intended to avoid falling foul of the US Constitution's First Amendment guarantee of freedom of the press. Assange had been in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, after seeking asylum there to avoid extradition to Sweden on a rape allegation. The investigation into the alleged rape, which he denied, was later dropped. Scotland Yard said that it was 'invited' into the embassy by the ambassador, following the Ecuadorian government's withdrawal of Assange's asylum. After his arrest for failing to surrender to the court, police said that he had been further arrested on behalf of US authorities under an extradition warrant. Ecuadorian president Lenin Moreno said that the country had 'reached its limit on the behaviour of Mister Assange' after he 'intervened in the internal affairs of other states.' Moreno said: 'The most recent incident occurred in January 2019, when Wikileaks leaked Vatican documents. This and other publications have confirmed the world's suspicion that Mister Assange is still linked to WikiLeaks and, therefore, involved in interfering in internal affairs of other states.' His accusations against Assange also included blocking security cameras at the embassy, accessing security files and 'confronting guards.' Moreno said the British government had 'confirmed in writing' that Assange 'would not be extradited to a country where he could face torture or the death penalty.' It comes a day after Wikileaks claimed it had 'uncovered' an 'extensive spying operation' against its co-founder at the Ecuadorian embassy. There has been a long-running dispute between the Ecuadorian authorities and Assange about what he was and was not allowed to do in the embassy. BBC diplomatic correspondent James Landale said that over the years the Ecuadorians have removed Assange's access to the Internet and accused him of 'engaging in political activities' - which is not allowed when claiming asylum. He said: 'Precisely what has happened in the embassy is not clear - there has been claim and counter claim.' Soon-to-be-former rime Minister Theresa May told the House of Commons: 'This goes to show that in the UK, no one is above the law.' Foreign Secretary The Vile & Odious Rascal Hunt claimed the arrest was 'the result of years of careful diplomacy.' He said: 'We're not making any judgement about Julian Assange's innocence or guilt, that is for the courts to decide. But what is not acceptable is for someone to escape facing justice and he has tried to do that for a very long time.' Press freedom organisation Reporters Without Borders said that the UK should 'resist' extradition, because it would 'set a dangerous precedent for journalists, whistleblowers and other journalistic sources that the US may wish to pursue in the future.' The large-chested actress Pamela Anderson, who has visited the embassy to support Assange, said the arrest was 'a vile injustice' which proved he was 'right all along' about the threat of extradition. Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne said he would continue to receive 'the usual consular support' and that consular officers will try to visit him.
The Home Office has grovellingly apologised to hundreds of EU citizens seeking settled status in the UK after 'accidentally' sharing their details. It blamed 'an administrative error' for sending an e-mail which revealed two hundred and forty personal email addresses - a likely breach of the Data Protection Act. One or two people even believed them. The department 'may' now have to make an apology in Parliament. In a statement to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, it claimed that it had since 'improved its systems and procedures' One recipient of the e-mail told Today that she was 'outraged' and was considering returning to Germany. The Home Office sent the e-mail on Sunday 7 April asking applicants, who had already struggled with technical problems, to resubmit their information. But it failed to use the 'blind CC' box on the e-mail, revealing the details of other applicants. In another message apologising to those who had been affected, the Home Office wrote: 'The deletion of the e-mail you received from us on 7 April 2019 would be greatly appreciated.' The government has already made an 'unreserved' apology after making a similar error with e-mails sent to five hundred members of the Windrush generation. The department notified the Information Commissioner's Office and made a statement in Parliament. EU citizens in the UK before Brexit can apply for 'settled status,' which allows them to continue to live and work in Britain after all this shit is eventually sorted out. Whenever that may be. Applicants and campaigning groups have criticised the system, saying it has proved slow and bureaucratic for some. Nicolas Hatton, from the Three Million group which campaigns for EU citizens' rights, said the incident showed the settled status process was not sufficiently robust. 'It feels like it adds insult to injury,' he said. A Home Office spokesman weaselled: 'In communicating with a small group of applicants, an administrative error was made which meant other applicants' e-mail addresses could be seen. As soon as the error was identified, we apologised personally to the two hundred and forty applicants affected and have improved our systems and procedures to stop this occurring again.'
A top cyber-security official has said Huawei's 'shoddy engineering practices' mean its mobile network equipment 'could be banned' from Westminster and other sensitive parts of the UK. GCHQ's Doctor Ian Levy told Panorama that the Chinese telecom giant also faced 'being barred' from what he described as 'the brains' of the 5G networks. The UK government is expected to reveal in May whether it will restrict or even ban the company's 5G technology. Huawei said that it would 'address concerns.' Last month, a GCHQ-backed security review of the company said it would be 'difficult' to 'risk-manage' Huawei's future products until 'defects' in its cyber-security processes were fixed. It added that technical issues with the company's approach to software development had resulted in 'vulnerabilities in existing products,' which in some cases had not been fixed, despite having being identified in previous versions. In his first broadcast interview, the executive in charge of the firm's telecoms equipment division said he planned to spend more than the two billion dollars already committed to 'a transformation programme' to tackle the problems identified. 'We hope to turn this challenge into an opportunity moving forward,' said Ryan Ding, chief executive of Huawei's carrier business group. 'I believe that if we can carry out this programme as planned, Huawei will become the strongest player in the telecom industry in terms of security and reliability.' However, Doctor Levy - the technical director of GCHQ's National Cyber Security Centre - said that he was yet to be convinced. 'The security in Huawei is like nothing else - it's engineering like it's back in the year 2000 - it's very, very shoddy. We've seen nothing to give us any confidence that the transformation programme is going to do what they say it's going to do.' He added that 'geographic restrictions - maybe there's no Huawei radio [equipment] in Westminster' was now 'one option' for ministers to consider. Mobile UK - an industry group representing Vodafone, BT, O2 and Three - has warned that preventing Huawei from being involved in the UK's 5G rollout 'could' cost the country's economy up to six billion quid and delay the launch of its next-generation networks by up to two years. Those already using Huawei's equipment have opted to keep it out of what is known as the core of their networks, where tasks such as checking device IDs and deciding how to route voice and data take place. EE used to make use of Huawei's tech in its 3G and 4G core, but BT is currently stripping it out after buying the business. The industry does, however, want to use Huawei's radio access network equipment - including its antennae and base stations. These allow individual devices to wirelessly connect to their mobile data networks via radio signals transmitted over the airwaves. The US has concerns about any deployment of Huawei's products. 'You would never know when the Chinese government decide to force Huawei to do things that would be in the best interests of the Communist party, to eavesdrop on the US,' claimed Mike Conaway, a member of the House Intelligence Committee. The Republican drafted a bill last year to ban the US government from 'doing business' with firms that use the company's equipment. It was later adapted to become part of the National Defence Authorisation Act, which was signed into law by President (and hairdo) Rump. The effect has been to deter the country's major telecoms networks from working with Huawei. The Chinese company is now suing the US government from vast oodles of wonga claiming the move is 'unconstitutional.' The congressman now has his sights on the UK. 'Obviously, the terrific relationship between the UK and the United States - English-speaking countries - is important to maintain,' Conaway told Panorama. 'But as a part of that we will have to assess what kind of risks we would have in sharing secrets that would go across Huawei equipment, Huawei networks. We can always share things old-school ways by ... paper back and forth. But, in terms of being able to electronically communicate, across Huawei gear, Huawei networks, would be risky at best.' This is a matter that crosses political divides. Mark Warner, a Democrat and vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, also cautioned against allowing Huawei to be part of the UK's 5G networks. 'I think that the consequences could be dramatic,' he said. 'There could be a real concern about the ability to fully share information because of the fear that the network that would undergird 5G in the UK, that there might be a vulnerability.' Doctor Levy, however, played down such fears saying that efforts to 'digitally scramble' communications meant that even if someone was able to intercept them, they would only 'get gobbledygook. Anything sensitive from a company or government or defence is independently encrypted of the network,' he explained. 'You don't trust the network to protect you, you protect yourself.' He added that despite finding 'vulnerabilities' in some of Huawei's kit 'we don't believe the things we are reporting on is the result of Chinese state malfeasance.' For its part, Huawei claims the Chinese government would never ask it to install 'backdoors or other vulnerabilities' into its foreign clients' systems and, even if such a request were to be made, it would refuse. Ding also dismissed suggestions that this commitment would fall by the wayside if the US and China were to go to war. 'We have a country here that virtually uses no Huawei equipment and doesn't even know whether our 5G equipment is square or round, and yet it has been incessantly expressing security concerns over Huawei,' he said. 'I don't want to speculate on whether they have other purposes with this kind of talk. I would rather focus the limited time that I have on making better products.'
The Chinese woman arrested after breaching security at Donald Rump's private club and resort, Mar-a-Lago, reportedly had 'a device used to detect hidden cameras,' other electronics and thousands of dollars in cash in her Florida hotel room, prosecutors said on Monday. Yujing Zhang appeared in court at a bail hearing in West Palm Beach, where prosecutors revealed that items found in her room included a signal detector – which is used to pick up the presence of hidden cameras – nine USB drives, five sim cards and a cellphone. There was also eight thousand bucks in cash and several credit and debit cards, according to the Washington Post. Zhang briefly gained entrance to President (and hairdo) Rump's Florida club and was found carrying a thumb drive containing malware, two Chinese passports and four cell phones. She has been charged with lying to the Secret Service. What she had planned to do remains unclear. 'She lies to everyone she encounters,' assistant US attorney Rolando Garcia said at Monday's detention hearing, the Post reported. But, he added there is 'no allegation that she is involved in any espionage.' The FBI is still said to be investigating whether or not she is a spy. Garcia said the government is 'not making allegations of spying at this time' but there are 'a lot of questions that remain to be answered.' Authorities said that Zhang entered the country on 28 March, flying into Newark from Shanghai. She went to Mar-a-Lago on 30 March. Prosecutors said she had no apparent ties to the US. 'Her ties are all in China,' Garcia said. The incident has sparked scrutiny of security procedures at Mar-a-Lago, where Rump often spends weekends.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has criticised animal rights activists as 'shameful and un-Australian' after dozens were arrested in nationwide protests. On Monday, activists broke into abattoirs and chained themselves to protest against the meat industry. More than one hundred protesters also blocked one of Melbourne's main intersections, before many were forcibly removed. Morrison said that the activism was damaging to farmers' livelihoods. 'This is just another form of activism that I think runs against the national interest and the national interest is [farmers] being able to farm their own land,' he told radio station 2GB. He later called on state authorities to bring 'the full force of the law against these green-collared criminals.' Australia is second only to the US for meat consumption per person, according to the World Economic Forum. The nation's livestock industry accounts for more than forty per cent of its agricultural output. The protests took place in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland and aimed to 'raise publicity' about animal treatment and the 'ethics' of eating meat. 'We want people to go vegan - we want people to stop supporting animal abuse,' one campaigner, Kristin Leigh, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 'Animals are suffering in ways that most of us could never imagine. It is not about bigger cages - it is about animal liberation.' Police said that thirty eight protesters were arrested in Melbourne. A further nine were arrested at an abattoir in Goulburn, a hundred south of Sydney, after chaining themselves to machinery. The Australian Meat Industry Council said butcher shops had been under a sustained 'attack' by campaigners. 'This has to stop and stop now. We need to look at the ninety nine per cent of people in Australia that are looking to and wanting to consume red meat products,' said chief executive Patrick Hutchinson.
A seventy-year-old man from Michigan was reportedly killed on Saturday when he hit a turkey while riding his motorcycle. Authorities suggested that the turkey 'flew' across a road in Oakland Township and hit the man so hard in the chest that he crashed into a guard rail. They said that the man lost his left leg below the knee in the accident. Emergency crews stabilised his condition at the scene and took him to the hospital, but he subsequently died from his injuries. Which is, obviously, very sad. Although, to be honest, this blogger is slightly more concerned by the fact that turkeys have now, seemingly, rediscovered the ability to fly away before cooking. 'I feel so bad for his family. I can't even imagine the pain they must be going through,' said Pam White, who lives near the crash site. 'To have such a fluke accident and to lose a loved one due to something like this, is unimaginable.' Officials said that the turkey was also killed on impact. Double bummer.
A British woman is facing up to two years in The Slammer in Dubai for calling her ex-husband's new wife 'a horse on Facebook, campaigners have claimed. Laleh Shahravesh was arrested at a Dubai airport after flying there to attend her former husband's funeral. She faces prosecution over two Facebook comments she posted on pictures of her husband remarrying in 2016. The Foreign Office that said it was 'supporting' the mother-of-one. Shahravesh was married to her ex-husband for eighteen years, during which time she lived in the United Arab Emirates for eight months, according to the campaign group Detained In Dubai. While she returned to the UK with her daughter, her husband stayed in the UAE and the couple got divorced. Shahravesh discovered that her ex-husband was remarrying when she saw photos of the new couple on Facebook. She posted two comments in Farsi, including one that said: 'I hope you go under the ground you idiot. Damn you. You left me for this horse.' Under the UAE's cyber-crime laws, a person can be jailed or fined for making defamatory statements on social media. Detained In Dubai said Shahravesh 'could' be sentenced to up to two years in prison or fined fifty thousand smackers, despite the fifty five-year-old writing the Facebook posts while she was in the UK. The organisation said Shahravesh's ex-husband's new wife, who lives in Dubai, snitched up the comments like a Copper's Nark. It said Shahravesh and her daughter flew to the UAE on 10 March to attend the funeral of her late husband, who had died of a heart attack.At the time of her arrest, Shahravesh was with her fourteen-year-old daughter, who later had to fly home on her own, it added. The chief executive of Detained In Dubai, Radha Stirling, told the BBC News website that both her organisation and the Foreign Office had asked the complainant to withdraw the allegation, but she had refused to do so. The decision 'seems quite vindictive really,' she added. Stirling said that her client had been bailed, but her passport had been confiscated and she was currently living in a hotel. She said Shahravesh was 'absolutely distraught' and it was 'going to take her a long time' to recover from her ordeal. Her daughter was 'very upset' and had 'been through really what you would call Hell,' she said. 'All she wants is to be reunited with her mother,' Stirling added. The fourteen-year-old was putting together an appeal in her mother's case, Stirling said. She added that 'no-one would really be aware' of the severity of cyber-crime laws in the UAE and the FCO had 'failed to adequately warn' tourists about them.
A suspected rhino poacher has been trampled on by an elephant then eaten by a pride of lions in Kruger National Park, South Africa. And, whichever way you look at it, that's not just funny, it's doubly funny. Accomplice poachers reportedly told the victim's family that he had been very killed by an elephant on Tuesday. Relatives then notified the park ranger. A search party struggled to find the poacher's body but, eventually, they uncovered a human skull and a pair of trousers on Thursday. The managing executive of the park extended his condolences to the family. 'It's a dirty job but someone's got to do it,' said the lion. 'Entering Kruger National Park illegally and on foot is not wise,' the park executive added. 'It holds many dangers and this incident is evidence of that.' No shit? Kruger National Park has an ongoing problem with poaching and there remains a strong demand for rhino horn in Asian countries.
A Taiwanese woman was reportedly found by doctors to have four small sweat bees living inside her eye, the first such incident on the island. The twenty eight-year-old woman, identified only as Ms He, was pulling out weeds when the insects flew into her eyes. Doctor Hong Chi Ting of the Fooyin University Hospital told the BBC that he was 'shocked' and 'stunned' when he pulled the four millimetre insects out by their legs. Ms He has now been discharged and is expected to make a full recovery. Sweat bees, also known as Halictidae, are attracted to sweat and sometimes land on people to imbibe perspiration. They also drink tears for their high protein content, according to a study by the Kansas Entomological Society. Ms He was weeding around her relatives' graves when the insects flew into her left eye. She was visiting the grave as part of the annual Chinese Qing Ming tomb-sweeping festival, which is traditionally observed by sprucing up loved ones' graves. When a gust of wind blew into her eyes she assumed it was dirt that had entered, she told reporters. But hours later, her eyes were still swollen and in pain, leading her to seek medical help at the hospital in Southern Taiwan. 'She couldn't completely close her eyes. I looked into the gap with a microscope and saw something black that looked like an insect leg,' Doctor Hong, an ophthalmology professor at the hospital said. 'I grabbed the leg and very slowly took one out, then I saw another one and another and another. They were still intact and all alive.' Doctor Hong added that the bees could have been blown inside Ms He's eye by a gust of wind and found themselves stuck inside. 'These bees don't usually attack people but they like drinking sweat, hence their name,' he said.
A Pennsylvania man allegedly assaulted an employee at a Giant Food Store in New Cumberland because he was, reportedly, 'upset' with the way his groceries were being bagged. Bradley A Bower was in the checkout line at the grocery store on 2 February when he became all stroppy and discombobulated when a cashier allegedly put canned goods in the same grocery bag as potato chips, in the process 'smashing' the chips, according to police. Bower asked the cashier to 'stop bagging his groceries that way' and, when he was leaving the store, he allegedly told the employee, 'Do you have a problem with me? Because I have a problem with you.' The cashier, who said he believed Bower was joking, replied: 'Do you?' That was when Bower grabbed the cashier by the neck and shouted 'You idiot!' The cashier told the police he pushed Bower away and other employees then stepped in between the pair. Authorities described the Bower as six feet tall, weighing two hundred and fifty pounds. The employee suffered bruising to his neck, police said. When police arrived, they viewed security video from the store and issued an assault summons for Bower. Police say that Bower told officers he knew he was in the wrong, but that he was 'having a bad day' and his chips being smashed 'sent him over the edge,' CBS affiliate WHP reported.
A British woman has been detained for removing tiles from a two thousand year old mosaic in Pompeii, Italian police have said. The twenty-year-old tourist was allegedly caught lifting pieces from a floor mosaic in the archaeological site House of Anchor. She is reported to have been with her father and sister at the time. And then, British people wonder why it is that the rest of Europe, frankly, can't wait to see the back of us. The site's manager said that the incident caused an estimated three thousand Euros worth of damage to the mosaic. The woman was charged with aggravated damage - and, being an arsehole - after she crossed a guard rail around the mosaic to take the tiles, police said. Pompeii is an ancient Roman city near modern Naples which was buried under four to six metres of volcanic ash and pumice after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. You knew that, right? The excavated city, which was largely preserved under the ash, remains a popular tourist attraction to this day as a detailed insight into the everyday lives of its inhabitants. This blogger's been there, dear blog reader. It's very nice. However, because of its astonishing preservation, Pompeii has long suffered with light-fingered tourists pocketing relics as holiday souvenirs. Last year, a French tourist was pinched by The Fuzz, fined and given a suspended prison sentence after trying to leave Pompeii with a backpack full of ancient artefacts, The Local Italy reported. In 2016, an American tourist was reported to have taken a piece of marble off the floor of the House of the Small Fountain.
A man with a 'long history' of pleasuring himself in front of horses has been jailed for re-offending twice, just hours after being released. Malcolm Downes said that he had been planning to see his doctor for libido suppressing drugs but, instead, went to a field after being freed from prison. He was spotted on 18 February in Bransholme, Hull, by a witness who thought he was urinating the Metro reports. Prosecutor Neil Coxon said it 'soon became clear he was, in fact, masturbating.' He added: 'This activity went on for three or four minutes. His penis was exposed for about ten minutes.' During a police interview Downes told detectives: 'I was sat on a bench. I was feeling sexy so I started.' Downes told them that he 'knew what he was doing was wrong' but did not do it 'to draw attention to himself.' He was released on bail but, within twenty four hours, he was spotted by an off-duty police officer at the same field, doing the same thing. He admitted that he 'had a problem' but 'got a thrill out of it.' Downes, who 'only recently reconnected with family and friends after being shunned,' had twelve similar offences on his record. He also had nine breaches of an ASBO for masturbating in public which banned him from entering any 'field, stable or area that might contain equine animals' across Humberside. He has now been jailed for eight months for his latest offending ways. His lawyer, Stephen Robinson, said: 'The defendant is very disappointed to be back before the courts again for precisely the same sort of behaviour he's been convicted of in the past. The defendant was of the view he'd been doing quite well. He can't really explain it. He said he felt he was starting to conquer his demons. He is, he insists, very sorry for his actions.' Judge David Tremberg told Downes: 'You know you are doing wrong but you appear either unable or unwilling to stop yourself.'
Residents of an Irish village where Viagra is manufactured are complaining that fumes from a nearby factory are 'giving them a hard time.' Quite literally. For the last two decades, the pharmaceutical firm Pfizer has been producing the erectile dysfunction drug near Ringaskiddy in County Cork. Thanks to the close proximity of Ringaskiddy to the plant and its 'love fumes,' villagers claim that local men and even man's best friends have been 'superpowered with sexual prowess.' Speaking to The Sunday Times, local barmaid Debbie O'Grady said: 'One whiff and you're stiff. We've been getting the love fumes for years now for free.' Sadie O'Grady, Debbie's mother, likewise claimed it is, in fact, 'a blessing' for men who suffer 'problems in that department,' adding that there is definitely 'something in the air.' The widow continued: 'I'm a flirtatious woman, a lot of us are. You just have to have a spark, that's all. There's a lovely man waiting down the road for me.' Pfizer said in a statement that there were 'no hard feelings' and the 'stiff whiff' was nothing more than 'an amusing myth.' The firm added: 'Our manufacturing processes have always been highly sophisticated as well as highly regulated.'
Authorities say they have arrested a nineteen-year-old Florida man after finding videos of him hitting a young alligator and placing a cigarette in its mouth. Lee County Sheriff's officials say they received 'numerous complaints' during a crime spree on Fort Myers Beach in March, which led them to Phillip Kolbe Harris. Detectives searched his phone on 28 March and found three videos of Harris 'abusing the alligator.' That's not a euphemism for something else, just in case you were wondering. The News Press reports that the videos show Harris holding the two-foot gator by the neck, tossing it to the ground and pointing a handgun at it. Harris' star tattoos are visible in the video and he is heard laughing and saying, 'this is animal abuse,' in the video. Harris has had multiple charges laid against him, including burglary and grand theft since 2017.
Onlookers were 'left panicking' when a meteor exploded over Siberia on Saturday. According to the Siberian Times, the 'blindingly bright' meteor exploded with a loud noise at about 7pm, local time. It split into several pieces before disappearing over the Irkutsk region, East of Krasnoyarsk. 'I panicked as it sounded and looked like a plane on fire, I got really scared of the noise and shine it created,' said a local woman from Krasnoyarsk City. 'I pulled a phone out of a pocket, but it flew across the sky so fast that I only caught a long white trace it left.' Another resident of Krasnoyarsk described the meteor as 'resembling the light and sparks created during welding work,' while a third likened it to a UFO. Which, technically speaking, it was until people found out that it was a meteor. One man, speaking to the Sun, described it as 'the most beautiful thing' he had ever seen and added that he heard 'a loud boom' as it vanished - 'as if something was exploding in the sky.' You can watch a video of the meteor, here. This is the third major meteor event over Russia in the past four months. According to the Siberian Times, expert Viktor Grokhovsky from Ural Federal University 'concluded' that the recent fireball was 'a bolide' - a meteor which explodes mid-air before it hits the ground. He, seemingly, worked this out because the object, you know, exploded in mid-air before it hit the ground. 'Experts', eh? What would we do without them?
Dallas police reportedly arrested a woman for, allegedly, setting fire to an ATM on Wednesday morning outside a bank in Dallas. According to police, a woman set fire to the front doors of the bank and an ATM along an exterior wall of the building. Firefighters quickly extinguished the flames. No one was hurt in the incident.
A woman sought by authorities in Tennessee in connection with a 2017 murder was taken into custody on Saturday whilst armed and wearing nothing but a smile, according to police. Authorities were called to a Waffle House in South Nashville after receiving a report of a naked man and woman with a weapon inside the restaurant. Staff and customers were evacuated 'due to feeling threatened' as the woman, later identified as nineteen-year-old Montessa Tate-Thornton, waved the gun around in an untoward manner and 'acted erratically,' according to an arrest affidavit obtained by FOX17. Officers arriving at the restaurant found Tate-Thornton wearing no clothes and 'screaming, sweating excessively and making incoherent statements,' WKRN reported. She reportedly admitted to police that she had used marijuana and cocaine. Tate-Thornton had an outstanding warrant for first-degree murder and aggravated robbery in connection with the death of a twenty three-year-old man in December 2017. Besides the charges linked to the outstanding warrant, Tate-Thornton was also charged with possession of a weapon while under the influence, public indecency, being a felon in possession of a weapon and public intoxication. The other naked - male - suspect at the restaurant was identified as thirty four-year-old Larico Nixon, who was also arrested and charged with public indecency, public intoxication and being a felon in possession of a weapon, officials said.
A woman currently on probation for bestiality was reportedly charged with bank robbery on Monday in Ohio. According to local NBC affiliate WFMJ, thirty five-year-old Amber Finney was indicted by Trumbull County Grand Jury after allegedly robbing a Chase Bank in February. Police say that employees at the bank identified Finney as then woman who walked in and handed one of the tellers a note. The teller allegedly told police that Finney was carrying a large purse, was wearing a hood to obscure her face and said she 'did not want to hurt her.' The teller told authorities she explained to Finney that she could only dispense one thousand dollars at any given time. Finney apparently accepted the relatively small amount and then feld the bank to meet a man standing in the parking lot, according to the witnesses. Unfortunately for Finney, snow had freshly fallen and a series of footprints allegedly led police from the bank, through a series of backstreets directly to the home where Finney was staying at the time. She was subsequently arrested without incident. WFMJ also notes that thirty-year-old Richard Williams was also arrested and charged in connection with the alleged robbery. Additionally, an unnamed fifteen-year-old boy faces charges relating to the incident as well. In early 2017, Finney was arrested and charged with one count of bestiality after a viral video from New Year's Day of that year appeared to show her 'performing sexual acts' on a dog. Finney initially denied the charges, but eventually pleaded no contest and received a suspended sentence plus five years of probation for violating a recently-enacted city ordinance which makes it a first degree misdemeanour to engage in The Sex with animals. During her original interview with detectives, Finney claimed the video had been 'doctored' to make it look like she was having The Sex with the dog. The police disagreed. According to the complaint, Finney '[d]id knowingly engage in sexual conduct with an animal, or knowingly possess, sell or purchase and animal with the intent that it be subjected to sexual conduct.' The city previously passed the ordinance in response to an uproar after sixty one-year-old Salvador Rendon was charged with animal cruelty - and given a thirty-day sentence in The Joint – for allegedly having The Sex with two dogs in absence of any specific law against bestiality in the town. Aside from jail time, the ordinance mandates counselling and contains a provision which could prohibit an offender from owning animals in the future.
A Zambian taxi driver has reportedly sued his ex-girlfriend for a refund of the sixty seven cents he spent on her during their relationship. Gilbert Njobvu, a taxi driver, told the court that he had been living with Rejoice Musamba, for seven years. Musamba allegedly suggested to him that they should start a mobile money business and that five thousand kwacha (roughly equivalent to sixty seven cents) was needed. 'I started giving her some money and in September the figure amounted to three thousand five hundred ,kwacha' Njobvu stated. He added that in October, Musamba told him she was going to South Africa with her boss and when he asked about their savings, she told him to wait for her when she returned after two weeks. 'She did not stay in South Africa for two weeks. She came back after a week and a few days and whenever I tried to call her number, it was always busy and finally, she blacklisted me,' the taxi driver claimed. Njobvu finally confronted her and asked for money. Musamba told him to 'suspend' the business idea. She also told him that she could not give him back the money because she had loaned it out. Musamba then told the court that Njobvu was an ex-boyfriend and they broke up two years ago. She further denied being liable to the money or ever talking about any business. She claimed that when Njobvu proposed to her, he told her he was single but she later discovered that he was actually married. 'He used to pay my rent and meet all my needs when we were in a relationship, but I broke up with him when I found out he was sleeping with my sister,' Musamba said. The ex-girlfriend added that she once caught Njovu 'red-handed' having The Sex with her sister on Musamba's bed. 'When I broke up with him, he threatened me and told me he had spent too much money on me and I can't leave him. He told me to repay all the money he spent on me or he would have me locked up,' she claimed. Boma Local Court Senior Presiding Magistrate Sharon Sichone found that the taxi driver had 'no evidence' that he gave money to Musamba for her business because he had no witnesses or records and dismissed the complaint.
A reportedly intoxicated Spirit Airlines passenger in Orlando, lifted her dress and 'twerked' as she was in the process of being kicked off a flight to Newark, New Jersey. The expletive-filled outburst which was captured on video and shared right across the Interweb, came just after a flight attendant had asked the woman to turn off her phone before take-off. A flight to The Moon followed.
Seven juveniles and one adult have been charged with 'aggravated rioting' after a teen party was 'shut down' by The Law in Cincinnati on Saturday night, police said. Jasmin Marie Watkins, aged thirty three, has been charged with rioting, obstruction of justice and resisting arrest in connection with the incident. Police documents state that her 'aggressive behaviour incited the large crowd to further behaving in a mob-like manner.' The scallywags. She is also accused of 'threatening to harm' a police officer. Mount Healthy officers were reportedly called to Playtime USA around by the management of the 'recreation business.' Sergeant Greg Nolte said that the space had been rented for a teenage party and management 'became aware' of social media posts stating that someone was 'planning to bring a gun to the party.' Nolte said that officers responded 'as a cautionary measure' at first, then the management of Playtime USA decided to shut down the party with extreme prejudice. This 'pushed the large group of partygoers into the parking lot' where 'several fights broke out,' Nolte said. A mother called nine-one-one during the incident. 'My daughter just called me crying and screaming saying there's a real big fight,' the woman reportedly said. The dispatcher told her there were already a dozen officers on the scene. Mount Healthy police called for additional help from neighbouring police departments. Police have not released the names of the juveniles arrested or the details about the fights they say happened occurred. Nolte said some of the youths had their sorry asses taken to juvenile detention while those who had injuries were taken to hospital.
A former California middle school teacher claimed in court that she was 'pressured' into giving an eighth-grade student oral sex because she felt 'threatened' that the boy would 'expose their relationship' if she refused. Justine Karen Nelson, a married former teacher at Tenaya Middle School in Fresno, testified on Wednesday that she 'succumbed to pressure to be intimate' - including kissing and oral sex after exchanging nearly one hundred pages of Instagram messages with the boy, the Fresno Bee reported. The student was thirteen at the time, while Nelson was a thirty one-year-old mother of one who has acknowledged knowing their relationship was 'inappropriate,' but 'felt powerless to stop it' due to potentially losing her job and the custody of her child. A prosecutor disputed that version of events, asking Nelson to 'show proof' the teen had threatened her in any way. Nelson replied that she was unable to do so since the coercion 'happened in person.' Nelson testified that the eighth-grader came into her classroom at one point and pushed her onto a desk before kissing her, prompting her to scream his name before the teen ran off. Nelson said she hoped her husband, who also worked at the school as a gym teacher, would hear her scream, but he did not. When asked if she kissed him back, Nelson admitted it was 'possible.' 'It's a natural instinct to kiss a child who just pushed you down on a desk?' Deputy District Attorney Liz Owen asked. Nelson also testified that the student incessantly pressured her to give him oral sex. She then gave in to his demands at one point, saying she considered herself out of options. 'I just wanted to get it over with,' an emotional Nelson testified. 'I was so sick and tired.' Nelson denied having 'romantic feelings' for the teen, testifying that she 'just cared about him as a person,' according to the newspaper. The teen, who is now a sixteen-year-old high school freshman, testified last week that Nelson had initiated their relationship and invited him to her classroom, where she kissed him and, later, gave him oral sex. The sex act occurred several times, he testified, sometimes in the middle of the school day between classes and after school. Nelson is facing felony charges of lewd or lascivious acts with a minor and oral copulation and faces more than eight years in prison if convicted.
An Easter trio of chocolate ducklings have waddled into a Waitrose 'racism' row after shoppers allegedly observed that the dark chocolate figurine was branded 'ugly' while its white chocolate counterpart was referred to as 'fluffy.' Rather than, if you will, ducking the issue (sorry) Waitrose immediately apologised for its 'unintended slight,' withdrawing the eight quid ducks from sale once it was 'made aware' of the 'potential' for 'ulterior interpretations' while it redesigned the packaging to erase references. A Waitrose spokesman said: 'We are very sorry for any upset caused by the name of this product, it was absolutely not our intention to cause any offence. We removed the product from sale several weeks ago while we changed the labelling and our ducklings are now back on sale.' The chocolate treats are believed to be a seasonal reference to the Hans Christian Andersen tale of The Ugly Duckling.
Sometimes Christians seem to prefer whinging about shit and being generally unhappy in life, but that makes them 'a perfect target' for The Devil, Pope Frankie has claimed in a morning homily. 'Desolation is from the serpent,' who tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden and who 'always bites' when a person sinks in despair, Pope Frankie said at morning Mass in the chapel of his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae. In his homily, Frankie reflected on the first reading from the Book of Numbers in which the people of God, after escaping slavery in Egypt, lose their patience and complain about their difficult situation, 'worn out by the journey.' God punishes them by sending venomous serpents, but then offers an antidote - a chance at salvation - after the people recognise their sin of complaining against God and Moses. Which was nice of him, although some might regard the whole 'sending of serpents' thing to be a bit of an over-reaction of The Almighty's part in the first place. The sensation of 'being worn out removes hope from us,' Frankie said. Fatigue gives people a 'selective' memory; 'it always makes us see the bad side of what we are going through and forget the good things that we have received. When we are in anguish, we cannot stand the journey and we seek refuge either in idols or in grumbling' or in other ways that show nothing is pleasing or satisfactory, he said. 'This is the life of many Christians. They live by complaining, criticising, grumbling, [being] dissatisfied,' preferring to see everything as a failure or worthy of complaint, he said. Yeah, that certainly sounds like plenty of Christians that this blogger has come across in his time. They're quite a sight.
A university worker who killed his wife and then himself in a suspected murder-suicide was 'obsessed' with the size of his small penis, an inquest heard. Thomas Kemp was found covered in blood on 6 August last year after apparently falling more than seven metres from his second floor flat in Suffolk, the Sun reported. Suffolk coroner Jacqueline Devonish said that he also had 'laceration' injuries. Police forced entry to his flat where they found the body of his wife, Katherine, 'in a pool of blood.' Devonish said that Katherine Kemp, a cruise company worker, had 'defensive injuries' to her hands and 'significant stab wounds to the chest,' including to the heart and lungs. Doctor Michael McCullagh, senior partner at the GP surgery where the couple were both registered, said that Thomas Kemp first presented with mental health issues in 2016. He said Kemp was 'urgently' referred to mental health services in 2017 after he threw himself on the floor of the surgery during an appointment. Kemp said he felt it was 'not worth being alive' and started to 'strangulate himself with his tie.' Mental health worker Chantal Eoche-Duval said she 'assessed' Kemp after the 'meltdown' and he told her he was 'conscious about the size of his genitalia' and had been 'on the receiving end of jokes and digs about it.' He told her that he felt people at work made 'comments' about his size and he had 'seen escorts for reassurance.' Psychiatric nurse Julie Murphy said in a separate assessment in July 2018 Kemp told her he also had The Sex with escorts and felt 'guilty' about this. 'He went on to say he had told his wife about his use of escorts,' she said. 'However, it was unclear if he had told her the full truth that he had used them for sex or just that it was to reassure him.' She said he 'appeared to be suffering from a high level of anxiety. He did fear he would lose his relationship with his wife should she become aware of the full extent of his use of escorts,' Murphy said. In a statement, she said he had admitted becoming 'concerned' his penis was 'too small' as a teenager. He told her he had sewn a sock between two pairs of underpants to wear as 'a piece' to make it look like his penis was bigger than it actually was when he was younger. His father, John Kemp, said in a statement that his son 'thought the world of Katherine. He idolised her,' he said. 'They were so in love with each other.' His mother, Marian Mitchell, said Kemp was 'besotted' with his wife, adding: 'I cannot believe he would hurt her. It was horrible thinking they had both gone and Tom had been the reason,' she said. Suffolk Police said at the time of the incident Katherine Kemp's death was being treated as murder and Thomas Kemp's death was being treated as 'not suspicious.'
A maths teacher has reportedly left her job after a video emerged of her calling a schoolboy 'one of the stupidest, dumbest people I've ever seen in my life.' The teacher, who has (tragically) not been named, continued her rant on Snapchat, saying: 'Like this kid probably doesn't even know what two plus two is if his life depended on it – kind of dumb.' It's four, just in case anyone was wondering and their life did depend on it. Unlikely, this blogger freely admits but, you never know. The teacher used to work at Juana Ines de la Cruz school in Chicago, but has since left her post with a school spokesman refusing to say whether she was had her ass fired or had quit before she had her ass fired. The unnamed teacher also 'hit out' (that's 'criticised' only with less syllables) at two schoolgirls who were fighting over a boy, saying: 'Here we are. Got some weave in our hands. Cause this guy is worth it.' One of the girls she was referring to was the younger sister of Shanique Bradford, who believes that the video spread around the school after the teacher 'accidentally' shared it publicly via AirDrop. Bradford snitched to CBS Chicago that the teacher's rants were 'not right.' She added: 'The school is a safe place for students. It doesn't matter their race or ethnic background. She shouldn't be talking about kids like that.' A school spokesman said that they had 'undertaken a rigorous investigation' after being 'informed' of the clip, but said they 'could not comment further' on 'confidential remedial matters.' Well, they could, they just weren't going to.
A 'moron' robber, who did not put his balaclava on until everyone in the Betfred shop he was in the process of robbing had already seen him, has walked free from court. Teejay Bick, of Cardiff, admitted the offence at Gloucester Crown Court after he entered the shop in Cheltenham on 29 March last year, completely undisguised and told cashier Amy Forsyth a FOBT had 'swallowed' his twenty quid note. When Forsyth left the counter to take a look, Bick then pulled a balaclava over his face and demanded money, claiming to have a knife in his pocket. Prosecutor Virginia Cornwall told the court that Bick then 'struggled to adjust the balaclava so he could see out of it' and said that 'the eyes were in the wrong place.' Last September Judge Ian Lawrie QC deferred sentencing until this month, telling Bick he needed to 'sort himself out' and describing him as 'a moron,' while defence lawyer Steven Masih admitted that it was 'a really amateurish offence.' The judge noted that Bick had, nevertheless, terrorised the women cashiers in the Betfred and they believed his threat that he had a knife. The court was told that one of the cashiers, Leanne Wright, was pregnant at the time of the incident. Sentencing was deferred by the judge for six months to see if Bick could 'go straight,' tackle his gambling addiction and save two thousand seven hundred notes in order to pay compensation to the two staff members whom her had terrorised. Upon Bick’s return to court this week, Judge Michael Cullum said: 'I understand the position is largely positive.' The court heard that Bick's solicitors were holding the money that he had saved, which was ready to be transferred to the court to compensate the women and were provided with a letter confirming his attendance to Gambler's Anonymous each Wednesday. They were also told that Bick had completed a Construction Skills Certification Scheme and is now working as a builder/labourer. 'That employment has put him in a position where he's earning more money than he did previously,' said Masih. 'The whole issue behind his offending was his addiction to gambling, and he's positively and proactively acting upon the suggestion of Judge Lawrie.' Judge Cullum imposed a two-year jail term but suspended it for twenty one months. He said: 'It's quite clear he acknowledged this was a serious offence of robbery. You owed money to someone who would have pressured you, and chose the cowardly way of dealing with it by frightening a pregnant woman. That is appalling behaviour, which you recognise, that richly deserves a custodial sentence. Balancing the need of rehabilitation and punishment, Judge Lawrie must have concluded the balance fell in favour of suspending the sentence.' Judge Cullum then warned Bick that, if he were to breach the suspended sentence 'we're likely without hesitation to send you to prison.'
A Pennsylvania woman who appeared on a local police department's 'Top Ten Most Wanted List' was busted by Plod this week after she taunted officers in a Facebook post about her being on the run. Chloe Jones implicated herself when she commented on the 'wanted' post by the Greene County Sheriff's Office, writing, 'Do you guys do pick up or delivery?' followed by four crying-laughing emojis. Jones then got into an argument with other commenters on the post and claimed that she was at a hospital in Morgantown, West Virginia, WDTV reported. On Monday, officers in West Virginia were able to track down Jones, who was arrested and extradited to Pennsylvania. The Greene County Sheriff's Office thanked citizens of Greene County, Monongalia County 'and many others for your tips that lead to [Jones's] arrest. Ms Chloe Jones and her witty comments are taking a hiatus from our Facebook comments section due to the jail not having Internet for her to use,' the Greene County Sheriff's Office sneered. It was not known at this time what Jones had originally been so wanted for that she made the top ten.
A Utah woman allegedly asked police officers if she could smoke marijuana before they took her to The Slammer for kicking the windows of her boyfriend's car, all while being drunk on mouthwash. That is according to a probable cause statement from the Utah County Sheriff's Office. Police say that twenty-year-old Francesca Delfina Farias-Swenson was drinking mouthwash 'to get drunk' when she called her boyfriend to pick her up. While driving, police claim Farias-Swenson 'got angry' with her boyfriend and started kicking the windows of his car, damaging at least one window. Farias-Swenson's boyfriend decided to take Farias-Swenson to her parent's house, but when they arrived, police say she started kicking the windows again and her parents would not let her inside. Police were called and found Farias-Swenson 'walking down a road with her feet bleeding from the broken window glass.' She had a bottle of mouthwash with her and told officers she had been drinking it. Before police took her to jail, they claim Farias-Swenson asked them if she could 'smoke a bowl of marijuana.' Subsequently contacted by Salt Lake City KUTV News, Farias-Swenson said that she was not drinking mouthwash but was, actually, drinking tequila. She added that she does not have a boyfriend and that the man involved in the incident is 'a good friend.' She agreed that she asked police to 'load me a bowl because I was in cuffs.' Farias-Swenson posted on social media that the story by officers was 'a fucking lie.'
From The North's Headline Of The Week award goes to Metro's Having Sex Hurt So Much That I Thought My Vagina Was Broken. Although, ultimately, it's the fact that the piece was written by one Fran Bushe that makes it art.
The week began badly for this blogger when he only went and stubbed his toe - really hard - against a balustrade in Stately Telly Topping Manor and then did what the Queen does whenever she hits her thumb with a hammer; 'a short, informal walkabout.' Thankfully, the offending digit is not broken dear blog reader, this blogger is able to jiggle it about a bit. But, as this photo may suggest, it does rather knack like Jim-buggery. So, that was Monday written off!