Friday, May 03, 2019

Fingerprints On An Abandoned Handrail

'Who were your ancestors, the ones who made your family rich? Fancy lads in silk? They were fucking cut-throats. That's how all the great houses started, isn't it? With a hard bastard who was good at killing people. Kill a few hundred people they make you a Lord. Kill a few thousand they make you King. And then, all your cocksucking grandsons can ruin the family with their cocksucking ways!' The main themes of the latest - third-to-last - episode of Game Of Thrones were doubt and consequences. And, of Jaime and Brienne finally giving it some long-overdue trombone with the potential of the pair filling a brave new world with lots of little Lannister-Tarth's. All with brass hands, ladies an gentlemen. A dark and mostly sombre aftermath to the merry blood-soaked carnage of last week's Night Of The Long Darkness, The Last Of The Starks was something of a necessary comedown. The equivalent of the two week pause-for-breath between Stamford Bridge and Hastings in 1066. Seventy odd minutes of sustained ennui, if you will - a bit like Buffy The Vampire Slayer's entire sixth series compressed down into one episode. As a consequence, it received some inevitable whinging from people that you've never heard of - take Vox's self-congratulatory sour-faced review, for example. Or, similarly-themed pieces of scowling arrant discontent in the Independent and USA Today. But, most people who dared to express an opinion, seemingly, got what the producers were aiming for. Reviews - of varying degrees of interest, articulacy and eloquence - can be consumed at the New York Times, the Torygraph, The Atlantic, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, the Washington Post, the Daily Scum Mail, the Gruniad Morning Star, the Radio Times, Forbes, Deadline, Variety, the Digital Spy website, TV Line, the Metro, the Boston Herald, IGN, the Den Of Geek! website, Entertainment Focus, Rotten Tomatoes, Rolling Stain, Harpers Bazaar and What Culture. All of which, by definition, contain massive spoilerisation in the area. So, if you haven't watched the episode in question yet then, what've you been doing instead? Contemplating the inherently ludicrous nature of existence? Like the man said, 'we've defeated them, now we have to contend with us.'
Game Of Thrones as well as just about breaking the Interweb also broke ratings records in the US for the second time in three weeks last Sunday: The Long Night, delivered an incredible 17.8 million overnight American viewers. This marks a new high for the popular adult fantasy drama - and for HBO - and makes the episode the most-watched scripted series broadcast in America so far of the year. The figure exceeded the final series premiere last month, which had 17.4 million. The numbers, of course, represent only a tiny fraction of the show's total audience as the series is a hit around the globe and is currently, probably, the world's most popular television series. Although, apparently, some people have never seen a single solitary episode and aren't shy in letting anyone that is interested (and, indeed, anyone that isn't) know about this and how it makes them, you know, windswept and interesting. The series eight premiere is now up to a whopping thirty eight million viewers worldwide. Not counting all those extremely naughty people who viewed it though, ahem, 'other sources.' The Long Night - as previously gushed about at length on this blog - chronicled the climactic Battle of Winterfell, a lavishly produced eighty two-minute siege where a collection of disparate heroes faced off against the Army of the Dead. Directed by Miguel Sapochnik, it drew lavish praise for its suspense and character-driven action although a few people couldn't help themselves and spent more time whinging about the episode's lighting (or, lack of it). But, to quote Kit Harington, frankly, such people can 'go fuck themselves!' You know something, Jon Snow. The production famously spent fifty five nights (plus several more weeks inside the studio) filming the episode amid very difficult conditions in an effort to make the battle as realistic as possible. The Long Night was also the most-tweeted-about episode of scripted television ever, with Twitter claiming there were 'nearly' eight million tweets about the episode. Mostly, with very bad spelling.
HBO is currently working on three Game Of Thrones spin-offs according to George RR Martin. Except he doesn't call them 'spin-offs' but, rather, 'successor shows.' In a blog post updating his fans, the author of the books on which the show is based said: 'We have had five different Game Of Thrones successor shows in development (I mislike [sic] the term 'spin-offs') at HBO and three of them are still moving forward nicely. The one I am not supposed to call The Long Night will be shooting later this year and two other shows remain in the script stage, but are edging closer.' 'In the press at large, everybody said, "there are four spin-offs" and they assume that means each one is happening and we're going to have a new Game Of Thrones show per quarter,' HBO's programming president Casey Bloys told Entertainment Weekly two years ago. 'That's not what's going on. The idea is not to do four shows. The bar set by [Benioff and Weiss] is so high that my hope is to get one show that lives up to it.'
'Why Gill, why?' 'It's complicated.' Given the - wholly expected - announcement it had already been commissioned for sixth series by the BBC, there was never much chance that the finale of Line Of Duty's extraordinary fifth series was going to end in an 'uge eff-off bloodbath on Sunday. And, one stabbed hand and one shot-and-wounded 'rotten apple' aside, in the event, the eighty five minute episode contained remarkably little in the way of big, broad, massive and hard tool-stiffening malarkey. Which, for long-term viewers, made something of a welcome change from previous years. We discovered during a tense and complex labyrinthine finale that 'H' is not a whom at all, but rather it's a 'how many'? We discovered that Ted Hastings is the honest man that we all (probably) believed him to be - a bit of (legal and unextreme) porn-viewing notwithstanding - and that AC-12 still has some inquiries to make. If you haven't seen the episode yet, dear blog reader then most of the above is, obviously, more than a bit spoilerish. Not as spoilerising as the following reviews in, at random, the Torygraph (who described it as 'the best thing we'll be lucky enough to see on TV all year'), some louse of no importance at the Gruniad Morning Star (who, in atypical Doctor Who fandom-style, whinged that, basically, 'it's not as good as it used to be') and the Independent. There was also extensive coverage of the episode and, where the series goes in the future in, for example, the Radio Times, the Daily Scum Mail, the Sun and a further piece in the Gruniad in which a bunch of real-life Plod whinge about all the inaccuracies. Or, to be fair actually in most cases, celebrate their fandom of the popular crime drama!
Anticipation for Line Of Duty's series five finale was, of course, massive in its bigly bigness. And, it appears that someone at one particular Sainsbury's store just couldn't wait to see how the series wrapped up and wanted to share their spoilerising with as many people as possible. Because some fans spotted DVDs of the series for sale on the supermarket's shelves on Saturday, one day before the final episode has been broadcast. And then, couldn't resist snitching about it online like a filthy stinkin' Copper's Nark.
Martin Compston was left 'very shaken' after a truck crashed into his taxi, according to media reports. The actor, who plays Steve Arnott in Line Of Duty (you knew that, right?), is reported to have been in the passenger seat of the taxi when a HGV smashed into the same side, destroying the car door. According to the Sun, Compston was 'left very shaken' by the traffic incident - well, you would be, wouldn't you? - but was nevertheless unhurt. They claim that Compston was on his way to a hotel when the incident occurred in Salford on Thursday while they were waiting for a red light. The newspaper reports that cab driver Derek Burton believed the crash was 'initially a bomb,' snitching: 'Martin screamed. We didn't know what happened. We hadn't seen the truck. It smashed into where he was sitting. Martin's door was bashed in. It was probably doing ten miles per hour but it was so big it destroyed the cab.' It is claimed that the two drivers swapped details following the accident. And, both of them then asked Martin for his autograph and if he could let them know who 'H' is.
'If you start killing people for free, we are both in trouble. And broke!' As previously noted, dear blog reader, this blogger does not intend to review any episodes of the second series of From The North favourite Killing Eve currently showing in the US until the episodes become widely available in Britain for fear of spoilerising anyone who wishes not to be spoilerised and, as a consequence, buggering up their lives. Or something. However, if - and only if - you are not all that bothered about any such spoilerising shenanigans then, spoilerising-type reviews of series two, episode five are available to utterly spoilerise your day at, for example, The Hollywood Reporter, Vulture, Indie Wire, Entertainment Weekly, the Den Of Geek! website and Rolling Stain. Approach all of these with caution if you want to remain unspoilerised, however. Don't say you weren't warned.
Jodie Comer has said that she has seen a 'shift' in her levels of fame since starring in Killing Eve and admits she never gets approached romantically because of her on-screen character. Although, now she'd said this, expect that situation to change drastically as all manner of spotty chancers decide that what Jodie really needs in her life is them. Bad move, Jodie, jolly bad move! The actress said that while she hasn't seen a 'drastic change' in the number of people who approach her on the street, she does now get 'strange men' who wait for her at airports. Well, don't we all? Speaking to The Sunday Times she said: 'It's not a drastic change, but there's definitely been a shift. [I had a] really weird experience [recently]. I got to the airport, it must have been half two and there were ... men waiting for me to sign things. They'd been following us around doing press during the week. When does it become normal for strange men to be waiting for you at the airport?' Jodie added that her love-life hasn't picked up and blames her lack of romantic interests on the fact that she stars as a psychopath in Killing Eve. She said: 'Oh, zero, darling. I don't know if it's particularly because I've played a psychopath. I really don't get approached at all. Which is fine. I'm never in one place long enough.'
'What is this fuckery?!' The latest episode of From The North favourite Doom Patrol - Cyborg Patrol - was an 'uge engine of destruction, in which Cliff, Jane, Larry and - a very reluctant - Rita infiltrated the sinister Bureau of Normalcy's 'Ant Farm' to rescue Vic. And then, The Butts got loose! As usual, dear blog reader, the episode was as mad as toast and thoroughly entertaining. Reviews can be sought out here, here, here, here and here. And, as if that wasn't impressive enough, the next episode will, apparently, see the long-awaited TV debut of one of the Doom Patrol comic-series' most popular characters, Flex Mentallo.
It is, of course, not unusual for TV fans to wish that their favourite shows would make more episodes. But it seems that viewers who long for more have an unlikely ally in the former Prime Minister and oily disgraceful twat David Cameron. Speaking on the latest episode of David Tennant's podcast, US actress and writer Tina Fey revealed that Cameron asked her to 'lobby' the British TV industry to churn out as many episodes as US shows do. 'Come and convince our showrunners that they can't just make six episodes of things. Like you guys, they should make two hundred episodes,' she recalled oily disgraceful twat Cameron snivelling to her. Fey - rightly - rejected this disgraceful request, explaining that US writers were, in fact, 'jealous' of the less-is-more British approach. UK dramas, of course, tend to be authored by just one writer and hold runs of between six to eight episodes per series as a result. In US network TV, scriptwriting is synonymous with the writers' room, in which a team of writers - led by a showrunner - work together to produce up to twenty two episodes a season. Although many of the acclaimed US non-network dramas of recent years - Game Of Thrones, Breaking Bad, The Wire et cetera - have been far closer to the UK model with between ten and thirteen episodes per series. Each writer will generally get to write their own episode as part of the overall narrative arc. But, according to scriptwriter Gareth McLean, the showrunner always has the chance to 'overwrite to add a consistency of tone.' Production timeframes also differ. Unlike the UK, where series are completed well ahead of time, writers of US shows often still be filming and even writing episodes from late in a series whilst the first episodes are being broadcast. The closest we come to this in Britain is on the soaps where multiple episodes are produced weekly. Of course, as anyone with half a brain in their head will know (so, that would exclude the oily disgraceful twat Cameron), the main difference between the two countries is money. Bigger ratings make the US industry more lucrative for advertisers, says Ant Boys, a BAFTA-nominated writer and editor with credits on both UK political satire The Thick Of It and its stateside equivalent Veep. 'The biggest difference is that the US industry just has far more money pumped into it and can afford to pay a room full or writers. The UK industry just can't,' he says. 'In the early days of The Thick Of It, we were making episodes for eighty thousand pounds, but for the early episodes of Veep, we were looking at three million dollars an episode. When you have that disparity, the ability to hire more writers and produce more episodes is clear.' Having more money, writers and episodes doesn't necessarily mean the calibre of writing is any better or worse, of course. But McLean says that shorter runs can allow more succinct writing, authored in a way that can assure clarity of vision. 'In the case of Fleabag it was very much a case of, "I've got a story to tell, I can tell it really clearly in the way I want to tell it."' The UK TV industry benefits from lucrative overseas sales. British producers earned more than nine hundred million knicker from selling their shows abroad in 2016-17. The contribution they make to the economy is likely to be the main reason oily twat Cameron approached Fey and asked her - wholly improperly - to interfere in the artistic endeavours of others. Commercial success 'often means looking for ways to stretch something out even when it's not really feasible,' said the Gruniad Morning Star's TV critic Hannah Davies. While US shows can be churned out quickly, she says 'super-long US shows such as Supernatural can become generally disjointed,' particularly in the glare of union-led writers' strikes. And, this dominance of financial interests can strengthen further in syndication, with Seinfeld episodes 'made shorter to free up more time per episode for adverts, increasing network revenue.'
Claire Foy and yer actual Matt Smith will make their Old Vic debuts in Duncan McMillian's Lungs, as part of the London theatre's upcoming season. Matthew Warchus will direct the play in his fifth season as artistic director. Lucy's Prebble's stage reimagining of A Very Expensive Poison, about the death of Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, will make its world premiere in September. Daniel Radcliffe also joins Alan Cumming in Endgame as part of a Samuel Beckett double bill. The macabre comedy will be followed by Beckett's rarely seen short play, Rough for Theatre II. Discussing his latest line-up, Warchus said that he was 'proud' of the 'titanic ideas and emotions' it will offer audiences, from the 'dark fantasia' of the Litvinenko adaptation - based upon Luke Harding's book - to the 'contemporary dilemmas' discussed in Lungs. Highlights of the Old Vic's new season include Mark Knopfler's musical adaptation of the 1983 film Local Hero - directed by John Crowley from the book by Bill Forsyth and Old Vic associate artist David Greig - will receive its London premiere in June. Jack Thorne's version of A Christmas Carol is to return in time for Christmas. Themes raised by the main productions will be discussed in Voices Off - a series of debates with leading voices in the arts, media, science and politics. The West End theatre has also announced two new audience initiatives alongside its billing, to help make theatre more accessible.
National treasure Stephen Fry is to take his book Mythos, a retelling of Greek legends, on the road this summer - his first UK tour in nearly forty years. Mythos: A Trilogy - Gods. Heroes. Men will open at the Edinburgh International Festival on 19 August. The play has been split into three separate shows and audiences will help Fry choose which tales he will tell. He said that he is 'shivering and quivering with excitement' at his first tour since working with Huge Laurie. The comedy duo toured new material around the UK in the late 1980s. 'Three different shows over three different nights: people can come to one, two or three evenings, but whichever they choose I hope will be as exciting for them as I know it will be for me,' he added. Fry's most recent foray into the world of theatre was an award-nominated turn as Malvolio in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, which ran in London before transferring to Broadway. In February 2018, he announced that he'd had surgery to treat prostate cancer and said the early intervention had saved his life. Mythos had its premiere at the Shaw Festival in Ontario in 2018 where it was warmly reviewed. The Gods play will chart the lives of the Greek Gods Zeus, Hera, Apollo and Athena among others, while Heroes will chronicles the fabled feats of the likes of Perseus - who battled the Gorgon and Theseus who slew the Minotaur. Men will recount ancient battles and conflicts like The Trojan War and epic journeys like those of Odysseus. After four performances in Edinburgh, the show will move to Salford, Liverpool, Birmingham, London, Oxford and Gatesheed.
The foreign secretary the vile and odious rascal Hunt declared this week that the Russian government-owned TV station RT was 'a weapon of disinformation' in a speech to mark World Press Freedom Day. The comments, to an audience in Ethiopia, marked an escalation of a British ministerial assault on the standards of the Russian broadcaster, originally known as Russia Today, which had faced repeated investigations into its output by the media regulator Ofcom. 'After the Russian state carried out a chemical attack in the British city of Salisbury last year, the Kremlin came up with over forty separate narratives to explain that incident,' the vile and odious rascal Hunt said in Addis Ababa. 'Their weapons of disinformation tried to broadcast them to the world. The best defence against those who deliberately sow lies are independent, trusted news outlets.' The vile and odious rascal Hunt said that it 'remained a matter for Ofcom' to 'independently decide whether the station should be closed down.' At the end of last year RT was found extremely guilty of seven breaches of the British broadcasting code in relation to programmes broadcast in the aftermath of the Salisbury novichok poisoning. A spokesperson for the media regulator reaffirmed its independence and said that it has 'yet to decide' on a punishment, which could include fining the network or removing its licence to broadcast in the UK, although the latter option is considered 'highly unlikely.' The vile and odious rascal Hunt comments 'could exacerbate the high-stakes dispute,' according to some louse of no importance at the Gruniad Morning Star. Russia has retaliated by opening an investigation into the BBC's right to operate its Russian service out of Moscow, while RT is seeking a judicial review of the Ofcom decision in the British courts. The vile and odious rascal Hunt has made media freedom one of the signatures of his tenure as foreign secretary and is hosting a ministerial conference on the issue on London later this year, in addition to enlisting the help of human rights lawyer Amal Clooney to act as his special envoy on media freedom. Earlier this week the vile and odious rascal Hunt was photographed with undercover Ghanian journalist Anas Aremeyaw, who does not show his face in public. The vile and odious rascal Hunt used his speech in Addis Ababa to accuse the Russian state of 'manipulating the media, spreading fake news' and said that RT is 'a key part of that effort. Channels like RT – better known as Russia Today - want their viewers to believe that truth is relative and the facts will always fit the Kremlin's official narrative,' he will say. 'Russia in the last decade very disappointingly seemed to have embarked on a foreign policy where their principal aim is to sow confusion and division and destabilise fragile democracies.' He also referenced a baffling interview conducted by RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan with the two purported Salisbury poisoning suspects, in which the Russians insisted that they were visiting the Wiltshire city to look at the cathedral's famous spire: 'Hilarious though it was when we had the interview with the Salisbury suspects, there was actually a much darker purpose behind all of this.' Explaining his broader thinking, the vile and odious rascal Hunt said that media freedom is 'not a Western value' but, instead, a 'force for progress from which everyone benefits.' Yes, dear blog reader, this is, indeed, the same vile and odious rascal Hunt who, in his - disastrous - time as lack of culture secretary barely spent a day not whinging about some aspect of the BBC's alleged 'bias' against him and his Tory louse-scum colleagues.
The publishers of the Sun and disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World, along with the publishers of the Mirra Group newspapers, could face a total bill for phone hacking of up to a billion smackers, says the group representing the victims. Settlements to victims, plus legal costs, already total nearly five hundred million quid. There are 'hundreds' more claims already under way and many thousands more victims who could potentially claim. 'More and more victims contact us each year,' said Hacked Off's Nathan Sparks. He told the BBC that this 'suggested' there could be 'many hundreds or thousands more' still to come. 'The apparent willingness of the Mirra Group Newspapers and Sun owners News UK to settle cases at seemingly any price indicates a desperation to avoid having these claims heard in open court - which would expose multiple allegations of corporate wrongdoing and criminality to the public gaze,' he added. 'With the expenditure of all publishers taken into account, the total cost of the scandal could exceed one billion pounds - with virtually no accountability for the executives who have presided over it.' The revelation that the Scum of the World employee Glenn Mulcaire hacked the phone of the murdered teenager Milly Dowler caused national outrage and led to a public inquiry into the behaviour of the press, the police and politicians, chaired by Lord Justice Sir Brian Leveson. That inquiry was split into two parts, with part two 'deferred' until after criminal prosecutions had been concluded - which they were in 2016. The government then closed down the second part of the inquiry, meaning that many of the claims of the victims were never heard in an open forum. Phone-hacking campaigners had hoped that a series of civil trials involving hundreds of victims would see fresh claims of wrongdoing by journalists, editors and owners at the Sun, the Mirra and the Sunday Mira tested in reportable court proceedings. News UK has always insisted that the illegality was confined to the Scum of the World. One or two people even believed them. The original Leveson inquiry led to criminal convictions mainly of people employed by the Scum of the World, with one journalist, Dan Evans, pleading guilty to hacking at both that paper and at the Sunday Mirra. The convictions included that of Mulcaire, the man who hacked Milly Dowler's phone. He never testified to Leveson because of his involvement in a criminal trial which resulted in him being sentenced to nine months in The Slammer. However, the judge in a civil trial against the Mirra that subsequently did make it all the way to court ruled that phone-hacking at the Mirra was 'widespread, institutionalised and long-standing.' A spokesperson for the publishers of the Mirra said: 'We don't believe there would be any merit in spending public money to hold a Leveson 2 inquiry today. The practices of the past which gave rise to the original Leveson inquiry have long since been banished from our newsrooms.' Again, one or two people even believed them. So far, News Group has paid out over four hundred million notes and the Mirra's owners over seventy five million. These settlements are entered into voluntarily by the claimants, but even if they are satisfied with the money they received, many activists remain unsatisfied that the full extent of phone-hacking and other press intrusion was never explored in public. The government has defended its decision to shut down the second part of the Leveson inquiry, saying that because of 'significant changes' in the media landscape, proceeding further 'was no longer appropriate, proportionate, or in the public interest.' And, certainly not in the interest of the government's close friends who own national newspapers. Sir Brian Leveson himself strongly rejected that conclusion in a letter to the government. The actor and phone-hacking victim Hugh Grant told the BBC that the conclusion was 'deeply unsatisfactory.' He said: 'The vast majority of people who were running the press pre-Leveson are still in place to this day and they got away scot-free, precisely because the Leveson inquiry was always supposed to be split into two parts, because the second part - who did what to whom - the precise gradual stuff had to be delayed until after the civil criminal trials. And once they did finish, Theresa May completely backed down.' The press, the police and the politicians tell the public Leveson forced everyone to clean up their act. But many activists and victims feel that an awful lot of dirty linen remains unwashed.
Sir Tony Robinson, a former member of Labour's governing National Executive Committee, says that he has quit the party over its current direction. He said he was leaving after nearly forty five years because of Labour's stance on Brexit, its handling of anti-Semitism allegations and its poor leadership. The political activist has spoken at rallies for the People's Vote campaign for another referendum. Announcing his move on Twitter, Sir Tony said it was partly down to the party's 'continued duplicity on Brexit.' He has previously written a tweet to Labour's deputy leader, Tom Watson, saying: 'Our party members are overwhelmingly in favour of a second referendum. To campaign on a platform of constructive ambiguity would be unprincipled, duplicitous and rather sinister.' Labour has refused to fully endorse a further referendum on Brexit - as supported by many ordinary members - instead saying it would do so 'under certain circumstances.' Sir Tony, who has frequently criticised Comrade Corbyn, also raised the issue of anti-Semitism and swore when describing the leadership in his tweet, describing the party's leadership as 'complete shit.' The actor, presenter and writer who campaigned at several general erections, served on Labour's National Executive Committee between 2000-04.
The right-wing 'activist' - and convicted violent offender and fraudster - Stephen Yaxley-Lennon reportedly had a milkshake thrown over him for the second time in two days as he continued on his campaign trail for the European elections on Thursday. Which seemingly suggests that Kelis is not the only person whose milkshake brings all the boys to the yard. The English Defence League founder - who is running as an 'independent' to become an MEP for the North-West of England in the forthcoming European erections - was hit with the drink during a walkabout in Warrington. Footage posted on social media showed Yaxley-Lennon arguing with Danyal Mahmud before the drink was thrown at his head. Yaxley-Lennon then appeared to respond by throwing several punches at Mahmud before the pair were separated. One man, filming the incident, is heard shouting at Yaxley-Lennon 'that's what you get for being a fascist.' Speaking to Asian Image, Mahmud said he had been 'left shaken' by the incident. As opposed to Yaxley-Lennon who was left, if you will, milk-shaken. Mahmud added: 'I was in Warrington for a meeting and afterwards was on my way home. I had to pass this group of people. He [Yaxley-Lennon] just kept talking to me. I kept moving location. I was the only Asian guy there. I said to him I do not wish to speak to you on or off-camera. I just got annoyed with him. A milkshake "slipped" out of my hand. I had no intention of doing anything or reacting in any way. But he kept talking. I feel a bit shaken-up and shocked to be honest.' Following the incident a crowd of people who had gathered to protest against Yaxley-Lennon's campaign were heard cheering. Loudly. Police have now launched an investigation as it is understood Yaxley-Lennon has made an allegation of assault with a deadly dairy product. Yaxley-Lennon was later filmed sitting in a police car as protesters stood nearby with placards. A Cheshire police spokesman said: 'We are aware of an allegation of assault made following an incident in Bridge Street in Warrington. We are looking into the circumstances.' Yaxley-Lennon has also claimed that he was 'punched and slapped' by two other people in separate incidents in Warrington. 'I was politically targeted,' he added in a video. 'I so want to win this. No amount of punches, milkshakes, attacks or anything is going to stop me.' The incident came a day after a separate video showed Yaxley-Lennon attacked with a milkshake on the campaign trail in Bury on Wednesday. In a video posted to his followers on his Telegram channel Yaxley-Lennon said: 'Had a strawberry milkshake thrown over me by some I dunno, I'd say some Muslim supporter of course.' Footage showed Yaxley-Lennon's supporters chasing the man who allegedly threw the milkshake down the road. Meanwhile, another viral video posted on Tuesday showed a woman in Salford accusing the prospective MEP of 'just spouting a load of shite' about grooming gangs to 'get publicity.' Yaxley-Lennon's appearance in Warrington had already raised concerns. Before his rally, Warrington South MP Faisal Rashid, who was the town's first Muslim mayor, said: 'I feel it is important that I put on the record that hatred and racism has absolutely no place in our town. Warrington is an inclusive and united town. I have lived in Warrington for over twenty years and in that time the town has welcomed me and my family.'
Facebook banned several prominent accounts promoting white nationalism on the platform on Thursday. A spokesperson for everyone else on Facebook said: 'About fekking time, too.' Accounts barred from Facebook, as well as its subsidiary Instagram, as part of the 'new enforcement' include the conspiracy theorist and complete loon Alex Jones, the 'far-right troll' Milo Yiannopoulos and the anti-Muslim clown Laura Loomer. Jones was previously banned from Facebook but still had an account on Instagram, which was no longer live as of Thursday. 'We've always banned individuals or organisations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology,' a Facebook spokesperson said. 'The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our decision to remove these accounts today.' Facebook also said that it would remove accounts 'relating to Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam group,' who has posted anti-semitic material. Critics say Facebook has not, in fact, 'always' banned individuals engaging in violence and hate. The company has often grappled with controlling far-right hate-speech on the platform in recent years. Figures like Jones, Loomer and Yiannopoulus were able to cultivate a huge reach using the platform, making Facebook's move 'insufficient,' said Cristina López, the deputy director for extremism at Media Matters for America, a not-for-profit media watchdog. 'This is a step in the right direction and it shows exactly why Facebook needs to be thinking about enforcement in a more holistic way,' she said. 'Facebook can help curb the spread of extremism, hate and bigotry that flourished on its platforms if it remains open to reforming enforcement measures.' The individuals have been banned from Facebook and Instagram under its policies against 'dangerous individuals and organisations.' The company said that it would continue its policy of banning accounts which praise or support these figures on the platform. In recent months, the company has become increasingly willing to issue outright bans against individuals deemed to spread hate-speech - in effect cutting many 'alt-right' figures off from the social networks that allowed them to gain an audience in the first place. The news was shared under embargo with a number of US news outlets before the bans actually went into effect, resulting in the bizarre sight of many of the figures using Instagram to complain that they were about to be removed from it. Many of the accounts affected by Thursday's announcement had already been banned from other social media sites. For instance, pages relating to Infowars were removed from Facebook but, until now, the conspiracist news site had been allowed to maintain an account on Instagram. Yiannopoulos, a former Breitbart News employee, had already been banned by both Twitter and Facebook but the decision to remove his Instagram account means his only mainstream social media outlet will now be on YouTube. The change in attitudes suggests Facebook is adopting a more consistent approach across all its platforms. The company has recently specifically banned white supremacist material from its service and has come under increased pressure to act against such content following the Christchurch terror attack, which was live-streamed on its network.
Pluto's atmosphere 'may completely collapse and freeze' by 2030, according to a twenty eight-year study of the dwarf planet on the edge of our solar system. Every two hundred and forty eight years, Pluto completes an orbit around the sun. This long orbit - and its great distance from our star - means that the surface temperature is between minus three hundred and seventy eight and minus three hundred and ninety six degrees Fahrenheit. But Pluto is the most distant of its kind with an atmosphere in our solar system. The atmosphere is largely made up of nitrogen, with hints of carbon monoxide and methane. An international collaboration of scientists from eight countries has been studying Pluto's atmosphere and its evolution since 1988 using ground-based telescopes. These observations were compared with additional information gathered by the New Horizons spacecraft flyby of Pluto in 2015. A study published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics recently shares data on Pluto's atmosphere gathered between 1988 and 2016. The data was used to model seasons on Pluto and how those react to the amount of sunlight it receives during different parts of its orbit. The researchers were able to record how surface pressure evolves during the seasons on Pluto. This helped 'paint a complete picture of the atmosphere,' including density, pressure and temperature. 'What the study found was when Pluto is farthest away from the Sun and during its Winter in the Northern Hemisphere, nitrogen freezes out of the atmosphere,' said Andrew Cole, study author and associate professor at the University of Tasmania's School of Natural Sciences, in a statement. 'The atmospheric pressure has tripled over the past three decades, but as the planet orbits, our modelling showed that most of the atmosphere would condense out to almost nothing left,' he said. 'What our predictions show is that by 2030 the atmosphere is going to frost out and vanish around the whole planet.' The data was gathered when the researchers were able to observe ground-based stellar occultations, when planets pass in front of background stars. This allows scientists to measure how much starlight is absorbed by a planet's atmosphere. These observations are tricky. The telescopes have to be positioned in the right spot to capture when a path outlined by the planet's shadow also passes over a spot on Earth. This lasts only a minute or two. If Pluto's atmosphere collapses and freezes over, the dwarf planet may appear brighter in our sky because it will reflect more sunlight, Cole said. 'The striking red terrain seen in the New Horizons images could fade away if they are snowed under with nitrogen frost,' he added. 'This research has been crucial in furthering our understanding of Pluto and testing what we know about atmospheres, ices and climate at extreme conditions.'
England efficiently chased one hundred and seventy four to beat Pakistan by seven wickets in a thrilling one-off Twenty20 international in Cardiff, on a day when Jofra Archer again impressed. Archer picked up two for twenty nine and effected a run-out, removing both Babar Azam (sixty five) and Haris Sohail (fifty), the mainstays of Pakistan's inning of one hundred and seventy three for six. A potentially tricky target was reached with four balls to spare thanks to Eoin Morgan's fifty seven not out from only twenty nine balls. Captain Morgan sealed victory with a six from the second ball of the final over. These two sides now move on to five one-day internationals in preparation for the World Cup, the first of which is at The Oval on Wednesday. And, although it is difficult to put the result of a T20 into context, all England performances are currently being viewed with the World Cup in mind. With Indian Premier League players Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Jason Roy and Moeen Ali all rested, there was a chance for those on the fringe of the England squad to press their claims. As well as Archer, Ben Duckett and Ben Foakes were given their T20 debuts. Archer grabbed his chance, while Joe Denly showed his potential World Cup value by supporting Morgan at the end of the run chase. In making his one-day international bow against Ireland on Friday, Archer showed a few glimpses of his talent. Here, he gave a greater exhibition of the benefits of his fiery pace, variations, control and electric fielding. Into the attack in the fifth over, the Sussex man immediately topped ninety miles per hour and hurried Imam-ul-Haq into gloving a hook shot straight to wicketkeeper Foakes. When he returned to the attack in the sixteenth over, Archer removed both Haris and Babar after they had shared a third-wicket stand of one hundred and three. Firstly, a short slower ball resulted in Haris picking out David Willey on the leg-side fence, then Archer capitalised on a mix-up to run out Babar by gathering the ball, turning and nailing a direct hit at the non-striker's stumps. Still, if Archer is to force his way into England's World Cup fifteen, there is the difficult decision on who he should replace from the preliminary squad named in April. Willey and Tom Curran, both in that party, did themselves no harm here. Left-armer Willey was again reliable, while Curran has the variety of a plethora of slower balls. Both can contribute with the bat. Indeed, it was Chris Jordan, himself trying to muscle in on the World Cup, who suffered a damaging day, conceding forty one runs from his four overs. It was off the bowling of Jordan that Haris kickst-arted a ponderous Pakistan innings into life by launching over cow corner for six. While Haris was all heaves and slices, Babar - top of the world's T20 international batting rankings - played orthodox strokes in between three maximums to the on side. When they both departed in the same over, there was a danger that Pakistan would stagnate, only for the wayward Jordan to concede sixteen runs from the final over. Even with Cardiff's short straight boundaries, a target of one hundred ad seventy four was a stiff ask against a Pakistan side taken to the top of the world T20 rankings largely on the strength of their pace bowling. James Vince is in pole position to replace Alex Hales in the World Cup squad and, after he saw outside contender Duckett fall for only nine, looked to be securing his place by alternating class with brutality. However, he was given out caught down the leg side off the spin of Imad Wasim for thirty six, failing to overturn the decision even though replays suggested he may have hit the ground rather than the ball. From there, with one hundred and eight runs required from eleven overs, Joe Root and Morgan kept England in touch. Root, not an England T20 regular, played classical strokes and cheeky flicks, while Morgan pulled to long leg and bulleted drives through the covers. Root departed for forty seven, trying to uppercut Hasan Ali, with forty three still required from twenty seven balls, but the nerveless Morgan found a useful ally in Denly as Pakistan began to get ragged with the ball and in the field. Twenty-nine from the final three overs became seventeen from two, with Denly effectively settling the match by hitting Shaheen Afridi over long-on for six from the first ball of the eighteenth. Only seven were required from the final six balls - Morgan slapping Faheem Ashraf over the long-off fence to finish with a flourish.
Things we learned from watching the cricket on Sky Sports on Sunday. Both David Lloyd and Rob Key desperately wanted the game to be finished as soon as possible so they could get home in time to watch Line Of Duty and, later, Game Of Thrones. Much to Nasser Hussain's bemusement since the former England captain is, seemingly, one of those people who appear to take great enjoyment in informing anyone that's interested (and, indeed, anyone that isn't), that he has never - not never - watched a single episode of either. The Simpsons, on the other hand ...
The Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws ensured that the Premier League title race will go to the final day of the season after Divock Origi's late winner saw them beat this blogger's beloved (though, tragically, still unsellable) Magpies in a twenty four carat five-goal thriller at St James' Park. The Reds looked on course for a ruinous blow to their title hopes after Salomón Rondón's sublime volley made it two-two midway through the second-half. But Origi rose to head in fellow substitute Xherdan Shaqiri's free-kick - dubiously awarded by the referee's assistant after a clearly non-existent 'foul' on Fabinho by Matt Ritchie - on eighty four minutes. (Subsequent television replays appeared to show the final touch actually came from United's Jamie Lascalles.) Liverpool moved back to the top, two points clear of Sheikh Yer Man City. The Sky Blues can (and will) retake the lead with victory over Leicester City on Monday and would then take a one-point advantage going into the final fixtures next Sunday. Liverpool went ahead after when Virgil van Dijk arrived unmarked on the end of Trent Alexander-Arnold's free-kick. Newcastle were quickly level when Christian Atsu scored from close range after Alexander-Arnold handled Rondón's goal-bound shot on the line but Mo Salah took advantage of poor marking to volley home another fine delivery from the young defender. Rondón, a handful from the Liverpool defence all night, drew Newcastle level once more nine minutes after the break when Liverpool failed to clear a corner and Herr Klopp's side suffered another blow when Salah was taken off with a head injury after a lengthy delay. The Reds forward was left clutching his head after an aerial collision with Magpies keeper Martin Dúbravka. Origi was introduced and made the decisive contribution that keeps the title race alive - though Salah's injury is a worry with Liverpool attempting to claw back a three goal deficit against Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final second leg at Anfield on Tuesday. Herr Klopp's side are showing drive and resilience, illustrated by the manner in which they have won so many games in the closing stages. Here, in an unforgiving Tyneside atmosphere, they overcame adversity and a Newcastle side who were in no mood to stand meekly aside despite Premier League safety already being assured. Rafa Benitez spent the entire night taking the acclaim of Th' Toon Army, from before kick-off to a post-match lap of honour when the supporters chanted for the Spaniard to agree a new deal to stay at St James' Park. The messages are still mixed - some much more positives noises than of late from Rafa's Friday's press conference notwithstanding - but not among Newcastle's fanbase. There is only one outcome these fans, who idolise Rafa The Gaffer, want. Whether Benitez gives them what they desire remains to be seen but, once again, he has kept a workmanlike squad in the Premier League with room to spare and now wants the investment to send them into the top ten. Ironically, on this night, some of the Benitez trademarks were missing as poor defensive organisation allowed Liverpool to cash in on each of their goals. But, as he led the players around Gallowgate to take the supporters' applause it was clear that those fans now want the final line of this season's story to be written with Benitez's name on a new deal.
Luton Town sealed the League One title while Plymouth Argyle, Scunthorpe and Walsall were relegated in a dramatic finale to the season on Saturday. The Hatters needed only to match Barnsley's result to clinch top spot and, with The Tykes losing two-one at Bristol Rovers, Luton ended the season three points clear at the top thanks to a three-one victory over Oxford. Plymouth were relegated on goal difference after a rip-roaring rollercoaster of a day at the foot of the table which ended with three teams all on fifty points. Southend survived courtesy of a two-one home win over Blunderland and AFC Wimbledon clung on for a point at Bradford, which meant that Argyle's highly controversial three-two at Home Park win over Scunthorpe was not enough to save either team. Scunthorpe also return to League Two, while results elsewhere meant that Walsall, who drew at Shrewsbury, would have been relegated whatever the outcome. Doncaster sealed the fourth and final promotion play-off place with a two-nil win over Coventry City. They will join The Mackem Filth, Portsmouth and Charlton Not-Very-Athletic in the play-offs. Peterborough narrowly missed out despite a three-one win over Burton Albinos.
      In League Two, Notts County's one hundred and thirty one-year stay in the Football League is over after they were beaten three-one at Swindon. Goals from Kaiyne Woolery and two from Theo Robinson helped Swindon end County's hopes of a last-day escape. County needed to win and hope that rivals Macclesfield lost to Cambridge to stand any chance - and Kane Hemmings gave the two thousand plus travelling County fans hope when he scored from the spot. However, Woolery equalised and, as County frantically pushed men forward, they were punished twice on the counter attack. Relegation means County, who have won only nine league matches all season, lose their status as the oldest Football League club, having been formed in 1862. That mantle now passes across the River Trent to Nottingham Forest, who were founded in 1865. County's misery meant elation for Sol Campbell's Macclesfield as they survived thanks to a draw with Cambridge. At the other end of the table, MK Dons were victorious in the winner-takes-all shootout against promotion rivals Mansfield. The Stags went into the game at Stadium MK behind the Dons on goal difference and had to win to climb above them into third place, but David Wheeler's second-minute header gave the hosts victory. It put Mansfield into the play-offs, where they will be joined by Newport after Jamille Matt's eighty seventh-minute equaliser at Morecambe saw County claim seventh spot. That was at the expense of Colchester, who missed out despite a three-nil win at champions Lincoln. Elsewhere, Tranmere will be in the play-offs although they lost to Crawley. Joe Martin and Jordan Gibson scored in Stevenage's two-nil win against Cheltenham while Grimsby were also two-nil winners against Crewe. Northampton rounded off their season in style with a five-two success at Oldham, who led through Johan Branger's strike. However, Sam Hoskins, Aaron Pierre and an Andy Williams double turned the game in The Cobblers' favour. Callum Lang hit another for Oldham before substitute Junior Morias scored Northampton's fifth. Promoted Bury drew at home against Port Vale as Jordan Rossiter cancelled out Tom Pope's opening goal, while it finished goalless between Forest Green and Exeter and relegated Yeovil against Carlisle United.
Norwich City won the Championship title on Sunday as Derby County claimed a final play-off spot to set up a 'spygate' rematch against Dirty Leeds. Teemu Pukki had put Norwich ahead in the seventh minute and though Jonathan Kodjia levelled for Aston Villains, Mario Vrancic ensured The Canaries left the second tier in style. The result at Villa Park mattered little though as, in the event, Sheffield United were unable to win at Dirty Stoke. Sam Vokes and Ryan Shawcross twice put The Potters ahead but second-half substitute Kieran Dowell and Enda Stevens guaranteed a share of the spoils for the already-promoted Blades. Derby seemed set to miss out on a top-six finish when Martyn Waghorn's header was cancelled out by West Bromwich Albino midfielder Stefan Johansen's curling effort moments after the interval. With The Middlesbrough Smog Monsters leading already-relegated Rotherham at the time, Derby could not afford to drop points but substitute Mason Bennett's goal and Harry Wilson's penalty soon afterwards gave them a three-one win. The Baggies spurned a number of opportunities throughout to miss out on the chance to finish third and their misery was compounded when substitute Hal Robson-Kanu was sent off for a senseless kick at Bradley Johnson. Derby maintaining their one-point advantage over Boro - to set up a play-off semi-final with Dirty Leeds - meant Tony Pulis' side finished in the undesired position of seventh.
Dirty Leeds striker Patrick Bamford has been extremely banned for two matches by the Football Association after being found very guilty of 'successful deception of a match official' in the draw with Aston Villains. Bamford went down like a sack of shite as though he had been hit in the face with a hammer by Anwar El Ghazi after Leeds' controversial opening goal in the match last week. Replays showed that Villa's Dutch winger never touched Bamford and had made absolutely no contact whatsoever with the head of the twenty five-year-old. El Ghazi was sent off but had the red card rescinded on Tuesday. Bamford missed Dirty Leeds' final Championship trip to Ipswich and, somewhat more importantly, will also miss the first leg of Leeds' play-off semi-final tie against Derby. Dirty Leeds said in a statement that although Bamford 'did not deny' the charge they had 'requested a hearing' to 'contest the penalty imposed on the player.' They added: 'The club felt that given the circumstances surrounding the incident, including the extraordinary act of sportsmanship which saw our head coach Marcelo Bielsa demand our team to allow Aston Villa to score an uncontested equaliser, we could have a sensible discussion around the sanction. We acknowledge that the FA panel did not feel that to be reasonable and the club therefore joins Patrick in accepting the two-match ban.' The melee, in which the Bamford incident occurred, was sparked after Mateusz Klich scored for Dirty Leeds with the Villains players appealing for the ball to be played out after Jonathan Kodjia had gone down injured in the centre circle. After clashes between the players and an exchange between the two benches, Dirty Leeds boss Bielsa ordered his team to allow the Villains to score an equaliser from kick-off, which was converted by winger Albert Adomah. Sunday's game finished one-all. On Tuesday both clubs were charged with 'failing to ensure their players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion' in the aftermath of Leeds' goal. Dirty Leeds' failure to win saw Yorkshire rivals Sheffield United promoted to the Premier League and they will now feature alongside the Villains in the play-offs.
Football League clubs have voted to introduce different deadlines for the summer transfer window for sides in the Championship and those in League One and League Two. Championship clubs will have until the Thursday before the start of the Premier League season to complete any loan or permanent signings. Third and fourth tier sides will still have until the end of August. This season all seventy two EFL sides had until 31 August to sign players on loan. However, all permanent signings had to be completed by 9 August in line with the closure of the window for top-flight teams. Next season Championship clubs will have until 5pm on Thursday, 8 August to complete their transfer business. 'It is right that clubs were given the opportunity to come to a decision that benefited their own individual transfer policies,' EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey said. The 2019-20 EFL season is scheduled to start on Saturday 3 August - although one fixture is expected to be moved to 2 August in order to be televised.
Most teams would be sipping cocktails on the beach in quiet satisfaction, having posted a ninth-placed finish and been on the cusp of the play-offs with the lowest budget in the division. But not Gatesheed. Even before the Tyneside club had completed their forty six-game National League campaign, things were starting to unravel. With just one contracted player on the books, the owners announcing plans to move to a new home and fans plotting to form a new club, Gatesheed's future remains uncertain. The final game of the season, Saturday's two-nil defeat by Barrow, was the end of an era at Gatesheed. Manager Ben Clark and his players applauded the fans - it proved to be an emotional goodbye, with the squad all out of contract this summer. Until the end of June when his deal expires, Scott Barrow remains the only player contracted to the club, while off-field members of staff were also released, including the football management team. At one stage, midfielder JJ O'Donnell was out of contract as a player but still employed as kitman before the club also severed those ties. 'The game felt like a funeral,' former general manager Alisha Henry told BBC Newcastle. 'The players came off the pitch crying, it was such an anti-climax to such a terrific season on the pitch. I had a missed call on my phone from Hong Kong and I texted the owner [Doctor Ranjan Varghese] saying "did you try to ring me?" He said "yes," I said "was it important?" and he said "a little bit." He then proceeded to tell me my services were not needed. My reply was that this was a really unprofessional way of doing things and I'll be seeking advice. The whole season has been erratic. You don't know what's happening day-to-day.' Amid the chaos, Varghese, advisor Joe Cala and board members Trevor Clark and Nigel Harrop are planning to continue running the club into next season. Varghese completed his takeover in July 2018 and, under the terms of his deal, maintained that he was required to lodge a two hundred thousand knicker bond with the National League as 'an insurance against financial issues.' The first cracks in the ranks began to emerge when it was revealed that The Heed were under a transfer embargo in December and then boss former Newcastle legend Steve Watson left in January, dropping down a division to move to York City. This preceded a string of off-the-field events which were in stark contrast to the on-field performance. Players Fraser Kerr and Scott Boden were sold in March, against the wishes of new manager Clark and general manager Mike Coulson also departed. Varghese put Gatesheed up for sale, claiming that he would sell the club for a quid once the season had been completed and his two hundred grand bond was reimbursed. Gatesheed were evicted from their office space at the International Stadium, following unpaid debt to Gatesheed Cooncil. They were, however, still allowed to play games there. Varghese also said that an 'agreement in principle' had been completed with ex-Rochdale chairman Chris Dunphy to take over the club. Players threatened strike action after wages for March were not paid, which was aborted once the payments were received, albeit later than scheduled. In a statement, Varghese has 'outlined' his aims for the club's future, despite his unpopularity with fans, as shown by supporter protests and their decision to set up a new breakaway side. 'Over the past ten months, we have had to make some very tough decisions that weren't always popular and weren't made lightly, but they were crucial to ensuring the club's survival,' the statement read. 'These past few days in particular have been very difficult as we have said goodbye to several people who have played their own part in last season's success. But our sport has always been a fluid business with personnel moving in, sometimes during the season and, especially in our case in the fifth tier of the football pyramid, at the end of the annual campaign. On a regular basis, we read about football clubs facing uncertain futures due to mounting seven-figure debts and this is why, from the outset, I insisted on a plan to ultimately ensure that our operational costs never exceeded revenue. I am pleased to report that, going forward, we are close to being able to reveal that we will be able to roll out an operational budget for next season that meets this criteria.' One of the first challenges for the Gatesheed ownership group would be to recruit a new squad, given the mass exodus of players. There is also the concern about where the club might relocate to, after the issues in the relationship with the cooncil this term. 'In order to deliver this strategy we will be committed to developing local talent and taking exciting young prospects on loan from our English Football League and Premier League neighbours,' the statement said. 'I firmly believe we will deliver an attractive and successful brand of football with young, talented and local players hungry to grab their opportunity to prove themselves at the start of their professional careers. It has become more and more apparent to fans, players, officials, staff and sponsors that the International Stadium is not ideal and we have been working hard behind the scenes to identify an appropriate venue that could become our new home.' Fans group 'Gatesheed Soul' have already done their bit to help the situation, paying to feed players for their away trips and making donations. With all hopes of a sale seemingly quashed, the fans have taken steps towards creating their own club, with a fundraising mission. It would be a case of following in the footsteps of other groups, such as those at AFC Wimbledon, Chester, AFC Telford United and fellow North-East club Darlington, in establishing a fan-led proposition on the back of off-field issues.'As previously mentioned, our only option as a group of fans that will ensure football survives in Gatesheed under the Gatesheed name is to form a new club together,' the group's statement reads. 'During Saturday's match, we received an overwhelming reaction from fans which supported the need of a new club being created; this was before the situation became even more urgent when Gatesheed FC dispensed of all of its players and staff. Establishing a new club will be a tough project, however with the full backing of the community we will make this work.' The aim of the new group is to accrue fifty grand through crowdfunding, similar to the way other groups such as at Hartlepool have sought investment. 'Gatesheed Soul has raised and will continue to raise money that would help fund a new club which will allow fans to be part owners,' they continued. 'Anyone who becomes a member of Gatesheed Soul will play a huge part of a new fan-run club - our club. A number of key stakeholders in the community have already offered their support which would allow things to develop very quickly. Gatesheed Cooncil backs the people of Gatesheed and to that aim they see the fans as the people of Gatesheed. New clubs will be considered for step seven of the non-league pyramid [the eleventh tier of English football], but can get special dispensation to start as high as step five [the ninth tier] in Northern League Division One. We would look to have a competitive budget which can be achieved through various income streams and sponsorship.'
Meanwhile, the Football Association says that it 'is aware' of an incident at Gatesheed where 'comments' were broadcast over the public address system. The comments, alleged to be directed toward fourth official Helen Conley on Saturday, were flagged up to the FA who are reported to be 'looking into the situation.' Gatesheed released an apology on social media after the game against Barrow. However, club announcer Peter Grant maintained that it was 'a private conversation' which was 'inadvertently broadcast in error.' Grant, who says he was 'forced to shut the windows of the PA box' following 'crowd abuse' directed to him and his partner Sarah-Jane, maintains that there was 'a problem' with an 'intermittently faulty on-off switch' on the microphone, which was 'not the usual supplied equipment.' The radio and television broadcaster - a former BBC colleague of this blogger - has written to the FA to outline his case. 'At worst it was a private conversation between two people that was overheard, courtesy of a counter-supplied faulty microphone,' Grant told the BBC Sport website. 'The incident in question was as a result of a double Barrow substitution, where with no team sheet and only the back of the match-day programme to refer to, coupled with the short window of opportunity to see the first two squad numbers, I elected to keep my eye on the fourth official's board and asked my partner to write down the numbers as I called them out to her. Once I knew the two substitutions I could refer to the squad the number and make the required announcement. The problem arose when Sarah-Jane couldn't find her pen and, with the sudden thought of missing the two squad numbers, if at that point the board had swung around to me and I'd called out the numbers Sarah-Jane wouldn't have been in a position to take the numbers down. The fourth official would have changed to the next two numbers. It was Sarah-Jane that I half-jokingly told to hurry up. Neither the referee nor stadium safety officer detailed any concerns in their subsequent reports. The witnesses who were in the PA box with me at the time have both testified that my description of events is correct. I've been a football PA announcer since 1993, in charge of stadium announcements during Euro '96 fixtures at Hillsborough, worked on the stadium PA system at Wembley twice, I know to never say anything provocative or say anything that would place the club officials or governing body author in a difficult situation. As an experienced broadcaster, I am acutely embarrassed the incident happened at all. In my defence I would have noticed the faulty on-off switch much earlier if the window had remained open, but given the climate of hatred towards me and my family at the time, I couldn't subject my daughter to the abuse Sarah-Jane and my daughter were subjected to on Good Friday. I am gravely upset that the club released an online apology, without speaking to me or the stadium safety officer first. An apology by its very nature is regarded as an admission of guilt.'
Spain's World Cup-winning goalkeeper Iker Casillas says 'everything is controlled' after he suffered a heart attack during training with his club Porto. The thirty seven-year-old is reported to be 'stable' in hospital and remains under observation. Casillas, regarded as one of Real Madrid's greatest keepers, says that he had 'a big scare' but added that his 'strength was intact.' A Porto statement said that he 'suffered an acute myocardial infarction' on Wednesday morning. 'The work session was promptly interrupted to provide assistance to the Porto goalkeeper, who is currently at the Hospital CUF Porto. Casillas is well, stable and his heart problem [is] solved,' it added. Casillas made seven hundred and twenty five appearances for Real during a sixteen-year career at the Bernabeu, helping them to win three Champions Leagues and five La Liga titles. He was also part of the Spain squad as they won two successive European Championships, in 2008 and 2012 and the World Cup in 2010. Madrid said that they were sending their former keeper 'all the courage of the world.' Real 'wants to transmit all their support to their beloved captain Casillas,' the statement read. 'Casillas has taught us throughout his professional career to overcome the most incredible challenges to enhance the glory of our club. It has taught us that giving up does not fit into our philosophy of life and has shown us countless times that being stronger, the harder the challenge, is the way to achieve victory. Real Madrid want to see their eternal captain recovered as soon as possible and send him all the courage of the world.' Casillas is held in high esteem at the Bernabeu, with the thirteen-time European champions describing him as 'the best goalkeeper in our history' on their official website. Born a short distance from the stadium, he graduated from the youth ranks and the C and B teams, to establish himself as a regular first-team player, winning ten major titles during a isxteen-year career with Los Blancos. The former club captain, who moved to Porto on a free transfer in 2015, holds the distinction of having made the most Champions League appearances of any player - one hundred and seventy six - and became the first player to appear in twenty consecutive seasons of the competition. Casillas is also the most-capped Spain player, having made one hundred and sixty seven appearances. He helped Porto win the Portuguese title last season.
Scientists found cocaine in freshwater shrimps when testing rivers for chemicals, a study has claimed. Researchers at King's College London, in collaboration with the University of Suffolk, tested fifteen different locations across Suffolk. Their report said that cocaine was found in all samples tested. Other illicit drugs, such as ketamine, were also widespread in the shrimp. The researchers said it was 'a surprising finding.' And that anyone cooking a nice prawn curry this weekend - like this blogger - might get a bit more than they bargained for. Professor Nic Bury, from the University of Suffolk, said: 'Whether the presence of cocaine in aquatic animals is an issue for Suffolk, or more widespread an occurrence in the UK and abroad, awaits further research. Environmental health has attracted much attention from the public due to challenges associated with climate change and microplastic pollution. However, the impact of "invisible" chemical pollution (such as drugs) on wildlife health needs more focus in the UK.' The study, published in Environment International, looked at the exposure of wildlife, such as the freshwater shrimp Gammarus pulex, to different micropollutants. Researchers collected the samples from the rivers Alde, Box, Deben, Gipping and Waveney. They said in addition to the drugs, banned pesticides and pharmaceuticals were also 'widespread' in the shrimp that were collected. The potential for any effect on the creatures was 'likely to be low,' they said. Doctor Leon Barron, from King's College London, said: 'Such regular occurrence of illicit drugs in wildlife was surprising. We might expect to see these in urban areas such as London, but not in smaller and more rural catchments. The presence of pesticides which have long been banned in the UK also poses a particular challenge as the sources of these remain unclear.'
The UK Treasury has reprieved one and two pence coins, saying they will continue to be used 'for years to come.' The copper coins were, theoretically, under threat when Chancellor Philip Hammond consulted on the current mix of coins and banknotes in circulation. The chancellor has now said he wants people to 'have a choice' over how they spend their money. He has also set up a group to oversee the cash system, ensuring everyone can get hold of their money in cash. The Treasury has estimated that over two million people in the UK are 'reliant on cash,' particularly the elderly, vulnerable and those living in rural areas. An independent review of cash published in March suggested that banknotes and coins were 'a necessity' for eight million people. Cash use has been falling dramatically in recent years. In 2017, debit card use - driven by contactless payments - overtook the number of payments made in cash in the UK for the first time. However, there were still nearly two hundred and forty one million one pence coins minted that year and nearly seventeen million two pence coins produced. Surveys have suggested six in ten of UK copper coinage are only used once before being put in a jar or discarded, while one in twelve is thrown into a bin. The rising cost of living has also eaten away at their value. In effect, the one pence coin is now worth less than the halfpenny was when it was abolished in 1984. In his Spring Statement in 2018, the chancellor's call for views on the mix of notes and coins appeared to pave the way for the end of one and two pence coins, as well as the future of fifty quid notes, once described as the 'currency of corrupt elites, of crime of all sorts and of tax evasion.' A swift reverse by the Prime Minister's official spokesman declared there were 'no plans' to scrap the copper coins. A later announcement of a plastic redesign for the fifty knicker note also confirmed the survival of the Bank of England's highest value note. However, the consultation continued, with the government's final view unknown until now. Many countries - including Canada, the home of the current Bank of England governor Mark Carney - have ditched a denomination coin. Australia, Brazil and Sweden are among many others to do so. However, the chancellor was accused of being 'a penny pincher' by opposition parties when the consultation on the UK's mix of coins was launched, prompting 10 Downing Street's intervention. Hammond weaselled that the decision to leave the current mix of notes and coins unchanged was a matter of public freedom. 'It is clear that many people still rely on cash and I want the public to have a choice over how they spend the money,' he said. The decision was welcomed by the trade body for small businesses, 'which has consistently called for the status quo.' Presumably because when it comes to copper coins, they like it, they like it, they like it, they like it, they la-la-la-like it? 'Keeping one and two pence coins in circulation is the right call,' said Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation for Small Businesses. 'The freedom to use pennies is still important to a lot of small firms. For many, being able to charge prices that end in ninety nine pence rather than a round pound figure can be enough to tip intrigue into a sale, particularly where lower-value items are concerned.' One or two people even believed that crap. The future of pennies clouded the bigger picture of the future of cash in general, according to former financial ombudsman Natalie Ceeney, the author of the Access To Cash Review. 'The issue is not one and two pence coins' she claimed. 'The issue is whether cash is going to stay viable.' She added that by chipping away at the mix of coins, the government would have been 'giving the impression that it did not care about cash.' Instead, she said that the announcement of a government-led group to support access and help safeguard cash for those who needed it was 'a clear statement of intent' and 'a good start' in ensuring the UK did not 'sleepwalk into a cashless society.' She said that her focus was on the twenty per cent of people who would be 'left behind' without cash and she still wanted 'a clear commitment from regulators' that they had the same focus. The Emerging Payments Association, which represents financial technology companies, argued that more needed to be done to ensure the nation's most vulnerable were 'given the education and guidance' to allow them to have the chance to use mainstream digital services, rather than having to rely on cash.
Campaigners have extremely lost a High Court challenge against the government's decision to approve plans for a third runway at London's Heathrow airport. Five councils, residents, environmental charities and the London Mayor Sadiq Khan brought the action after MPs backed the plans in June. The campaigners said that the runway would, effectively, create 'a new airport,' having a 'severe' impact on Londoners. But, judges rejected the arguments, ruling the plans were lawful. Transport Secretary Incompetent Chris Grayling said: 'The expansion of Heathrow is vital and will provide a massive economic boost to businesses and communities across the length and breadth of Britain, all at no cost to the taxpayer and within our environmental obligations. I now call on all public bodies not to waste any more taxpayers' money or seek to further delay this vital project.' Which coming from Grayling in the week that it was revealed he was responsible for costing the taxpayer fifty million smackers in cancelled ferry contracts and that a staggering four hundred and seventy million notes after his probation services shake-up was ditched some may regard as ironic. John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said: 'This verdict will not reduce the impact on local communities from increased noise and air pollution, nor will it resolve Heathrow Ltd's financial difficulties or the economic weakness in their expansion plans.' Shirley Rodrigues, deputy London mayor for environment and energy, said: 'In challenging the decision to expand Heathrow, Sadiq has stood up for Londoners who have serious concerns about the damaging impact it will have. We will now consider the judgement and consult with our co-claimants before deciding our next steps.' The case was brought against the transport secretary by five local authorities in London affected by the expansion - Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Richmond, Hammersmith & Fulham and Windsor & Maidenhead. Residents and charities including Greenpeace, Friends Of The Earth and Plan B also joined the action. They argued that the government's National Policy Statement, setting out its support for the project, failed to account fully for the impact on air quality, climate change, noise and congestion. Outlining the case on behalf of campaigners, Nigel Pleming QC had said the plans could see the number of passengers using the airport rise to an estimated one hundred and thirty two million - an increase of sixty per cent. But lawyers representing odious slapheed and walking disaster Grayling said that the claimants' case was 'premature,' as they would have the opportunity to make representations at a later stage in the planning process. Lord Justice Hickinbottom, sitting with Justice Holgate, said in the ruling on Wednesday: 'We understand that these claims involve underlying issues upon which the parties - and indeed many members of the public - hold strong and sincere views. There was a tendency for the substance of the parties' positions to take more of a centre stage than perhaps it should have done, in a hearing that was only concerned with the legality and not the merits, of the Airports National Policy Statement.' The ruling means the government will not have to devise a new NPS and put it to another vote in Parliament. It won its first vote by a comfortable majority of two hundred and ninety six after Labour MPs were granted a free vote by Comrade Corbyn. The decision to expand Heathrow follows almost half-a-century of indecision on how and where to add new airport capacity in South-East England. Under the current fourteen billion knicker plan, construction could begin in 2021, with the third runway operational by 2026.
A powerful cyclone has slammed into India's Eastern coastline, bringing torrential rains and winds of up to one hundred and twenty fivemiles per hour. Cyclone Fani (steady), one of the most severe storms to hit the region in recent years, made landfall early on Friday morning. More than one million people have been evacuated from the Eastern state of Orissa. A state official said two people had been killed. Flooding has also been reported in several areas and forecasters say a storm surge of five foot 'could threaten low-lying homes.' The cyclone made landfall in the tourist town of Puri, which is home to the eight hundred and fifty-year-old Jagannath temple. Numerous flights and train services in and out of the state were cancelled, while schools and government offices were shut. Operations at three ports on India's Eastern coast also shut down. Naval warships and helicopters were on standby with medical teams and relief materials. The country's National Disaster Response Force also deployed several teams. India's National Disaster Management Authority warned people along the East coast, especially fishermen, not to go out to sea because the conditions are 'phenomenal.' The agency said that the 'total destruction of thatched houses' was possible, as well as 'extensive damage' to other structures. 'I can confirm two deaths for now,' Orissa special relief commissioner Bishnupada Sethi told the AFP news agency. '[A] man in one of the shelters died because of a heart attack. Another person went out in the storm despite our warnings and died because a tree fell on him,' he said. The cyclone coincided with high tides in the country, which exacerbated potential flooding issues. In February the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies began distributing tarpaulins ahead of the region's 'cyclone season' but warned that if a deadly storm were to roll in, shelters made of battered bamboo and shredded plastic would 'offer little protection.' The navy, the coast guard and the National Disaster Response Force have all been prepared for deployment in the event of Fani hitting. In 2017, Cyclone Ockhi killed more than two hundred people and displaced hundreds. In October last year, officials in Orissa evacuated hundreds of thousands of people when another cyclone struck. But, India has improved its protections and responses to these disasters in recent years. The state's most deadly cyclone on record took place in 1999, killing almost ten thousand people. India's electoral commission has relaxed its rules about what the government can do during erection periods so that the authorities can carry out relief work. The country is in the middle of a multi-phased erection which started last month. Under normal circumstances the incumbent government has 'certain powers suspended,' so that it cannot announce new schemes or take decisions during the voting period. Although the erection will continue until the end of May, Orissa has already voted.
Peter Mayhew, who died of a heart attack aged seventy four this week, carved out a place for himself in movie history when he played Chewbacca, Han Solo's alien sidekick, in the Star Wars franchise. The two hundred-year-old Wookiee warrior, smuggler and resistance fighter, known affectionately as 'Chewie', was Han's co-pilot on the Millennium Falcon, fighting the Galactic Empire. Lovable and loyal, with super-human strength and bravery, Chewbacca served as the conscience of Han, played by Harrison Ford, but Mayhew had no need to learn lines for the role because the Star Wars sound designer, Ben Burtt, voiced him with a mix of animal noises sourced from walruses, bears, tigers, camels and badgers. The seven foot three inch actor, his face concealed by a mask and wearing a mohair and yak-hair costume, simply gave grunts and shrieks as cues to his fellow cast members. However, before filming, Mayhew had studied how gorillas moved and he brought a distinctive knock-kneed gait to the role that endeared his character to audiences. 'Chewbacca is more of a teddy bear or security blanket,' he said in 2015. 'He's who you count on when things get scary. His size isn't intimidating because he's on your side. Chewie doesn't waste time talking - he just comes in and saves the day.' When the director George Lucas was looking for someone to play the tall, hairy humanoid, his first choice was the bodybuilder Dave Prowse, who was later switched to the role of Darth Vader. Mayhew clinched the part of Chewbacca simply by standing up and towering over Lucas when the director entered the room. Mayhew acted in five films in the series, beginning with the original trilogy - Star Wars (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return Of The Jedi (1983). Later, he was in the third 'prequel', Revenge Of The Sith (2005) and a sequel, The Force Awakens (2015), which saw the death of Chewie's beloved Han. When poor health forced Mayhew to pull out of The Last Jedi (2017), to be replaced by Joonas Suotamo - who had doubled for him in some scenes of The Force Awakens – he was still credited as 'Chewbacca consultant.' Born in Barnes, to a police officer and his wife, Peter was brought up in Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey. By the age of fourteen he was six foot ten inches tall and diagnosed with an overactive pituitary gland which overstimulated his growth. He underwent radiation treatment to slow it down and, on leaving school, worked as a porter at King's College hospital and then Mayday hospital in Croydon. A newspaper included him in a feature on men with large feet and the reporter suggested he contact the Guinness Book of Records. Although he was not a record breaker, the article was spotted by the producer Charles Schneer, who was planning to make the fantasy film Sinbad & The Eye of the Tiger (1977), directed by Sam Wanamaker. 'He offered me the part of a Minotaur and I went off to be encased in fibreglass for six weeks on location in Spain and Malta,' Mayhew recalled. 'It was great, but then I went back to the hospital and that was that.' However, it was not long before Gary Kurtz, the Star Wars producer, called and the subsequent audition with Lucas took place. Mayhew's role grew bigger after the first movie, the franchise became a multibillion-dollar box-office success and he gave up his hospital job. He appeared in the 1978 horror film Terror and was cast as a giant in a 1979 episode of the TV series Hazell an as The Tall Knight in the well-remembered BBC children's drama Dark Towers (1981). His other screen appearances outside Star Wars were largely restricted to guest spots as Chewbacca and he was a regular on the SF convention circuit. In 1987 he moved to West Yorkshire, investing in a timber business outside Keighley, supporting the local rugby union club and raising money for charity with appearances in character as Chewie. He moved to Texas in 2000, a year after marrying Angie Luker, an American whom he had met at a convention and became a US citizen in 2005. Mayhew had a double knee replacement in 2013 and last year underwent spinal surgery. His contribution to the Star Wars films earned him a lifetime achievement honour at the 1997 MTV film awards. He and his wife were authors of the children's books Growing Up Giant and My Favorite Giant (both 2011). He is survived by his wife and their three children.