Monday, January 28, 2019

The Shape Of Things To Come

Earlier this week, the official Doctor Who Twitter account posted a photograph of the popular long-running family SF drama's regular cast - yer actual Jodie Whittaker her very self, That There Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill and Tosin Cole - with the announcement that the show is 'back in production!' In actual fact, it's been back in production since the tail end of last year, what they actually mean is that filming has now started, but let's not quibble over minor details. The cast and crew are currently shooting an episode - or, probably two - somewhere other than the UK, judging by the fact that it's effing freezing over here at the moment and yet Jodie, Tosin and Bradley are all wearing shorts in the photo - and, by the way, hasn't Jodie got really skinny, if not at all unattractive, legs?! Anyway, unconfirmed, but highly plausible, rumours suggest that they're in South Africa again. That was where two of last series' episodes - The Ghost Monument and Rosa - were shot.
From The North's TV Comedy Moment Of The Week, Part The First. Would I Lie To You? was shown on Thursday of this week rather than its usual Friday (due to BBC1 televising of the FA Cup tie between The Arse and The Scum). This particular episode was the first of two compilations of various previously unseen moments from the current, twelfth, series. It was particularly notable for yet another gloriously surreal tall (yet true) tale from the great Bob Mortimer. This one concerning his time working as a solicitor in London. And, we can add council tenant Barbara Lighthouse, entomology professor Broccoli Highkicks and Ronnie Omelettes from the local housing department to the oddly-named inhabitants of Bob's wonderfully daft world.
From The North's TV Comedy Moment Of The Week, Part The Second. Qi's latest episode - Procrastination - included very funny segments on subjects as diverse as changing views on paediatrics and Queen Victoria's crotchless knickers. But, the best bit of the episode was when Sandi Toksvig revealed that there is group called The Procrastinators Club of America (formed in 1956 and based in Philadelphia, apparently). Who sound, frankly, like a really fun bunch of chaps and ladies. They celebrate traditional events like Christmas and Independence Day several months late and it costs twenty dollars to join them. 'This entitles you to a licence to procrastinate and access to the monthly publication called Last Month's Newsletter, which lists "upcoming events" that have already taken place!' Sandi revealed. 'Their motto is "Behind you all the way"!' They recently ran a campaign to get the late US president James Buchanan reelected. He died in 1868. Sandi also noted that the programme had contacted The Procrastinators Club to let them know that they would be featured on this particular episode 'but, they haven't got back to us yet!'
There is a really good piece by - the always highly readable - Lance Parkin in The New Statesman on Star Trek: Discovery which you would be advised to have a right good gander at, dear blog reader. It is an admirably balanced piece, highlighting the many strengths and occasional flaws of the series (and how some of the latter even have the potential to become strengths in and of themselves). Check it out for yourselves, here.
And, speaking of Star Trek: Discovery, this blogger very much enjoyed this week's second episode of the current second series of the SF drama - New Eden. Particularly From The North favourite Tilly (Mary Wiseman) once again getting a decent chunk of plot and all the best lines.
This week also saw a particularly well-terrific episode of another From The North favourite, Gotham - Ruin - broadcast in the US. Which you can find reviewed, here (beware, the review obviously contains spoilers if you haven't seen the episode yet and are bothered about such malarkey).
And, then there was True Detective, the fourth episode of which was possibly the best yet. 'You got some major cognitive dissonance!' Amongst the, many, review of the episode are the following - here, here, here, here, here and here.
Wonders, dear blog reader, they will never cease, it would appear. Because, this blogger only went and got not one, not two, but three questions on this week's episode of Only Connect before either of the teams did. Which, and this is a properly sad confession to make, made him far happier than he had any right to be over such a downright trivial matter!
If the wait for series two of From The North favourite Killing Eve seems never-ending, that's understandable. Forget that it's been a mere two months since the critically acclaimed BBC espionage thriller ended in the UK, the first series finale concluded with MI6 agent Eve (Sandra Oh) winding up in bed with psychopathic assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer) and surprising her uncomfortably-close nemesis with a knife shoved into the stomach. Villanelle managed to escape by the climax, however, so you can bet the drama will intensify and complicate in series two. 'In many ways, it's actually more intimate and darker,' executive producer and new head writer Emerald Fennell says of the new series. 'What happened at the end of season one has really, really made an impact on both of our protagonists. It's a ripple effect that both of them have experienced.' It is also a deeply personal thing that happened between these two - and one that will have far-reaching consequences for Eve and will send her deeper into drama. 'What struck me is what the stabbing does to Villanelle's psyche - what this says about her and Eve,' Comer told EW. 'Does it make her believe that they have a very special relationship, or will she want revenge?' Whichever is the case, Eve finds herself in deeper and also, possibly, in over her head. 'Eve's state of mind is pushed to the absolute limit as she tries to contain the feral energy that is Villanelle,' Oh said. So, how creative will Villanelle be this year in her masterful murders? 'I don't want to take away the pleasure of surprise,' said Comer. 'All I will say is you can expect more, more, more from Villanelle.' As well as from her bonds with her highly conflicted pursuer. Oh added that she was 'struck' in the upcoming stretch of episodes by 'how Eve and Villanelle's relationship progresses and deepens.' And this intoxicating, complicated relationship is taking Eve down paths both dangerous and unexpected. 'It's going to be that tension between what we know is good for Eve and good morally, but there's also this other darkness,' says Fennell. 'It's a constant tension for her between what she'll choose. She doesn't know. I don't think any of us will know for a long time.'
Tom Hardy will star in an upcoming BBC adaptation of A Christmas Carol, as well as serving as executive producer alongside Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight. Knight, who also worked with Hardy on Taboo, confirmed his involvement in the three-part adaptation, but remained tight-lipped on whom he would play. He teased the adaptation would have an 'American element' but refused to disclose the nature of the US-based twist. Speaking to Collider he said: 'It's gonna be three one-hours, it's largely done in terms of the script. We're planning to shoot this year and hopefully get it on the screen for Christmas. What I'm planning to do is adapt five Dickens books - A Christmas Carol plus four novels - and do it over a period of six or seven years and have a repertory of actors and I think we'll get the best actors in the world, hopefully, to take part because the Dickens characters are so great.' Personally, this blogger is of the opinion that Dickens was rather over-rated, though that's largely a hangover from having to wade through Great Expectations for A Level English Literature. Knight added that it would be 'sort of like a Taboo, but not really'. Whatever the Hell that means. That's a bit like saying that 'a breadknife is sort of like Yul Brynner, but not really,' isn't it? The project was originally announced in 2017, with the pair promising to 'reinvent Dickens' most famous works,' with A Christmas Carol the first to be adapted. At the time, Knight told the BBC: 'Any question about narrative storytelling is answered by Dickens. To have the chance to revisit the text and interpret in a new way is the greatest privilege. We need luck and wisdom to do this justice.' Meanwhile, the fifth series of From The North favourite Peaky Blinders has, as previously reported, just finished filming. The series should return to screens around April(ish).
According to Entertainment Weekly, the running times of each of Game Of Thrones forthcoming eighth and final series' episodes have been revealed, thanks to a recent meeting involving a group of French TV networks. Première magazine is reporting that the first two episodes will be sixty minutes long and will be followed by a further four coming in at around eighty minutes each. It's probably worth taking these numbers with a vast quantity of salt however, as the running time of an average Game Of Thrones episode is about as random as a very random thing, rarely reaching a nice round number. That said, Première's figures are certainly not beyond the realms of possibility, HBO's Richard Plepler recently called Game Of Thrones's final series 'a spectacle. The guys have done six movies,' he said. 'The reaction I had while watching them was, "I'm watching a movie."' Game Of Thrones eight series will premiere on 14 April on HBO in the US and Sky Atlantic in the UK.
ITV have confirmed that the forthcoming sixth series of popular crime drama Endeavour will begin on 10 February (replacing Vera in the 8pm Sunday evening slot). It is not yet known whether the small fury animal that was inhabiting Shaun Evans's top lip when this location photo was taken will still be there when the series begins.
Meanwhile, ITV have made a series of - really rather good - 'Great Character' drama trailers; the one that seems to be played the most at the moment features the very excellent Roger Allam from Endeavour and is called The Patriarch.
Another currently doing the rounds features Brenda Blethyn in The Guvnor.
Speaking of whom, the latest episode of Vera managed to avoid any of the obvious geographical errors which this blogger enjoys so much identifying (see last week's episode, for a prime example). But the episode - filmed last August - was well worth watching for some properly superb location filming in-and-around Central Newcastle, including the Millennium Bridge, the Quayside, Amen Corner, the Central Arcade, Side, the Grainger Market, Newcastle Airport and, moving slightly further afield, Durham County Cricket Club's Riverside Stadium in Chester-Le-Street.
Pure is an adaptation of Rose Cartwright's acclaimed autobiography and follows a young woman's experience of an excruciating form of obsessive compulsive disorder, nicknamed 'pure O.' Written by Kirstie Swain, Pure follows twenty four-year-old Marnie, whose mind is invaded by intrusive - and often distressing - sexual thoughts all the time. This blogger knows how the poor lass feels. Having originally assumed that she was a sex addict, Marnie leaves Scotland and heads to London, soon discovering that she actually has a form of OCD. In her first screen role, Charly Clive leads the cast as Marnie. She is joined by Peaky Blinders' Joe Cole as Charlie, Kiran Sonia Sawar as Shereen, Niamh Algar as Amber and Anthony Welsh as Joe. A six-part series, Pure will begin at 10pm on Wednesday 30 January on Channel Four.
The BBC thriller Bodyguard has been named best new drama at the National Television awards and its male lead, Richard Madden, won in the best drama performance category. The awards were presented at a ceremony at the O2 in London on Tuesday evening. Also among those honoured were This Morning, Strictly Come Dancing and Peter Kay's Car Share. Accepting his award, Madden credited his Bodyguard co-star, Keeley Hawes, who had been nominated in the same category, adding: 'You couldn't ask for a better, more talented actress.' The award was the second this month for Madden after he won the Golden Globe for best actor in a TV drama for the BBC series. 'It's been a Hell of a year. It feels kind of surreal for me. It was a year ago and now I'm here with this award. It feels very strange to me. I'm very lucky and thankful for that,' he said. 'It's insane that so many people watched [Bodyguard], then the amount of people who voted and went to the effort of doing that. It's overwhelming. It's appreciated, so thank you to everyone who did that.' Ant and/or Dec won their eighteenth consecutive award in the TV entertainment presenter category after a difficult year for Anthony McPartlin, in which he was fined for drink-driving and chose to take time off to deal with personal addiction problems. Danny Dyer won the award for best serial drama performance for his portrayal of Mick Carter in EastEnders. Dyer delivered an emotional acceptance speech, thanking Harold Pinter for 'believing in me when no one else did' and issuing a message to the nation's youth. 'I just want to say to all you young kids living out there in poverty, who says they don't have the right to dream? Do not let where you come from dictate, define, what you can do in life. You can be whatever you want to be.' Peaky Blinders won best drama, Peter Kay's Car Share was given the best comedy award, while Strictly Come Dancing took the talent show award. This Morning was named the best daytime show as it celebrated three decades on television.
The son of James Gandolfini is to take on his father's most famous role in a prequel to hit HBO drama The Sopranos. Michael Gandolfini said that he was 'thrilled' to be cast as the young Tony Soprano in The Many Saints Of Newark, a film currently in development. 'It's a profound honour to continue my dad's legacy,' he said in a statement. James Gandolfini, who died in 2013 aged fifty one, played mob boss Tony in six series of the New Jersey-set Mafia crime saga, which ran from 1999 to 2007. Vera Farmiga, Alessandro Nivola and Jon Bernthal will also have roles in the film, which will be set during the Newark race riots of the 1960s. Alan Taylor, who directed nine episodes of The Sopranos as well as such films as Thor: The Dark World and Terminator Genisys, will direct the film. Sopranos creator David Chase has written the script with Lawrence Conner, whose credits include three episodes of the award-winning series. Michael Gandolfini was seen last year as Joey Dwyer in HBO's The Deuce and also had a small role in Ocean's Eight. He was born in 1999 when his father was married to his first wife, Marcy. Gandolfini Senior went on to have another child with his second wife, the former actress Deborah Lin.
Olympic bronze medal-winning gymnast Beth Tweddle is reported to be taking legal action against the makers of Channel Four's The Jump after fracturing vertebrae on the - sick - winter sports competition in 2016. Tweddle was one of a number of contestants who suffered injuries - of varying degrees of severity - during that particular series of The Jump, although hers were, by a distance, the most serious. No one felt particularly sorry for the majority of these people since it was their own bloody stupid fault for signing up to such an insanely dangerous conceit in the first place, although to be fair, that's probably less true in the case of Beth who seems like such a very nice lass and certainly didn't deserve to spend several weeks in traction. The thirty three-year-old needed surgery on her neck and spinal cord after hitting a barrier on landing. Tweddle's lawyer claims that the 'defendants involved in making The Jump' have, to date, denied any liability for the injuries. In December, Tweddle announced that she is pregnant with her first child. 'It's been a long journey and my recovery is still ongoing. I'm not sure I'll ever be one hundred per cent again,' she said. 'The effects of my accident still interrupt my daily life and, aside from the severe physical injuries at the start, the hardest part of the recovery process has been the psychological element - dealing with and processing the whole accident and the aftermath of what happened. I said before that I don't want this accident to define me and I work hard every day to ensure that isn't the case. It's disappointing that we have had to seek court proceedings as we had hoped the makers of the programme might be willing to work with us to settle the case. I just want to make sure that there is full accountability for people involved in creating shows like this and to help prevent others having to go through what I have for the past three years.' Tweddle's lawyer, Demetrius Danas, said: 'She has had to put many parts of her life and career on hold and, while Beth is making a good recovery, she still cannot do many of the things she previously could as an elite athlete and may never fully recover. Despite attempts to settle the legal case amicably, the defendants involved in making The Jump have so far denied any liability for her injuries and we have been left with no choice but to issue court proceedings as we seek to resolve the case.' Tweddle was the first female gymnast from Great Britain to win a medal at the European Championships, World Championships and Olympic Games. She retired in August 2013 and also appeared in ITV's Twatting About On Ice before taking part in The Jump.
George Alagiah has said that he is 'overwhelmed' by supportive comments from viewers welcoming his return to BBC1's News At Six. The sixty three-year-old's bowel cancer returned in December 2017, forcing him to take time away from work to receive treatment. He wrote on Twitter that the cancer was, currently, 'in a holding pattern,' which meant that he could work again. Fellow newsreader Sophie Raworth confirmed his return on Twitter. Alagiah replied to the tweet, writing: 'There goes my hope of slipping back into the studio unnoticed! Thanks to all for good wishes.' After Alagiah's initial diagnosis in 2014, the disease spread to his liver and lymph nodes, which needed treatment with several rounds of chemotherapy and three large operations, including one to remove most of his liver. He returned to work in 2015 but, again, had to take more time out in 2017 when he was told that his stage four bowel cancer had returned. Upon his return on Wednesday evening, viewers and fellow colleagues appeared delighted, with many complimenting his new beard.
A new documentary about the murder of Jill Dando is to be broadcast on BBC1 to mark the twentieth anniversary of the popular broadcaster's death. The BBC said 'previously unseen archive and photographs' would feature in the film, alongside interviews with Jill's colleagues, friends and family members. The Crimewatch presenter was shot and killed on the doorstep of her home in South London in April 1999. Barry George was wrongly convicted of the killing and acquitted in 2008 after a tragically bungled and thoroughly incompetent police investigation, leaving her murder still unsolved. David Brindley, the BBC's head of commissioning for factual programmes, said Dando's murder 'sparked one of the biggest investigations the Metropolitan Police had ever launched.' And, one of the worst. 'Twenty years on, with the crime still unsolved, this film will reveal in detail the process of that investigation from those who were closest to it,' he continued. The BBC said the film, provisionally titled The Murder Of Jill Dando, would 'go behind the headlines and speculation to offer unique insights into Jill's life and the hunt for her murderer. As the documentary is still in production, further details on the content of the film and contributors will be disclosed in due course,' said a BBC spokesperson. The film will be broadcast near to the anniversary of Dando's death, though an exact transmission date is yet to be confirmed.
The BBC is reportedly considering Brussels as the location for a new EU base post-Brexit to allow it to continue to broadcast across the continent. Belgium's prime minister, Charles Michel, has disclosed that he held discussions on the possibility in Davos with the BBC's director general, Tony Hall. 'Belgium is often on the shortlist of companies eager to anchor in the European Union after Brexit,' Michel said from the Swiss town hosting the World Economic Forum. It is 'understood' - by the Gruniad Morning Star, if not anyone more credible - that the BBC is also looking at the Netherlands and Ireland as potential sites for the new offshoot. The BBC will need EU-based licences for its international channels - which include BBC World, BBC Entertainment, BBC First and BBC Earth - if it wishes to have them broadcast across the rest of Europe either after 29 March, if the UK leaves without a deal, or after any possible transition period, should soon-to-be-former prime minister Theresa May's agreement be approved by parliament. Which it won't be. The soon-to-be-former prime minister has reportedly been seeking to include the audiovisual industry in a free trade agreement to avoid the problem, 'but her pleas have been ignored,' the Gruniad states. Last week, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, confirmed his opposition to Downing Street's request. He said in a letter to 'a concerned group' that he had 'no intention' of permitting the UK to continue to 'dominate' the industry. 'France has consistently defended the exclusion of audiovisual services from free trade agreements,' he wrote. 'This is an essential issue, which concerns the protection of cultural diversity. Our country has made it a major point in every trade negotiation. It has thus obtained, in all the free trade agreements the EU has concluded, the exclusion of audiovisual services.' As a result, to secure a pan-EU broadcast licence, the BBC would need to have either its head office, or 'a significant part of the workforce of the relevant channel,' or a satellite up-link in a member state to qualify for a licence there, a demand which could lead to the broadcaster moving some of its staff and operations into the EU. More than five hundred pan-European channels use licences issued by the British regulator Ofcom. International media companies reportedly spend about one billion knicker a year in the UK, making it the most significant such hub in Europe. After Brexit, however, the licences are likely to be invalid as the UK will have left the EU's single market. Last September, the British online sports channel DAZN said that it was opening a 'development centre' in Amsterdam as it sought to realise its ambition of becoming 'the Netflix of sports.' The channel provides livestreams of Champions League football, Formula One and the ATP tennis tour in both English and German-speaking countries plus Japan. Turner Broadcasting System Deutschland and NBC Universal Global Networks Deutschland have also taken steps to secure EU licences. A BBC Studios spokesperson said: 'BBC Studios, a commercial arm of the BBC, operates a number of bespoke TV channels outside of the UK, including some that are broadcast in the European Union. We will be keeping the situation under close review to ensure that we can continue to best serve our audiences in any changed regulatory environment.' Alleged - though suspiciously anonymous - BBC 'sources' allegedly said that there were 'decision-making and workforce requirements,' but that they expected the number of staff employed in the new base to be 'limited in number.'
'Brexit has helped make BBC Parliament, the often-overlooked public service channel that shows live coverage of select committees, briefly more popular than MTV,' according to a piece by some Middle Class hippy Communist of no consequence at the Gruniad Morning Star. The channel hit an average consolidated daily reach in the week of 7 to 13 January of two hundred and ninety three thousand people, according to BARB ratings, aided by fierce debate over Brexit in the House of Commons - higher than the two hundred and fifty one thousand punters per day who tuned in to the flagship youth channel over the same period. Although it remains a niche offering, BBC Parliament's viewing figures have been boosted by the public's interest in - or, alarm over - Brexit. Ratings for what was once a backwater channel for political obsessives and journalists have spiked with heightened interest in parliamentary proceedings, as MPs argue over the detail of Britain leaving the EU in debates that are too lengthy or arcane for rolling news channels such as BBC News or Sky News to cover in full. 'As a channel dedicated purely to politics, we're pleased more people are choosing to watch BBC Parliament at a time when there's an increasing focus on events in Westminster,' said a spokesperson for the BBC. BBC Parliament's ratings are, it should be noted, helped by its availability on Freeview, giving it a far larger potential audience reach than MTV, which is available only on pay-TV services such as Sky and Virgin Media. MTV was slightly ahead on its total weekly audience, reaching 1.3 million viewers in the second week of January while BBC Parliament was seen by 1.1 million - partly because the political channel is forced to show select committee highlights and reruns of regional assembly coverage at weekends in the absence of any live Westminster coverage. Both channels' audience fluctuates on a week-to-week basis.
Microsoft's Interweb browser is warning users not to trust the Daily Scum Mail's journalism as part of a feature designed to fight fake news. Visitors to the Scum Mail Online who use Microsoft Edge can now see a statement asserting that 'this website generally fails to maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability' and 'has been forced to pay damages in numerous high-profile cases.' Though, to be fair, they forgot to add that it is, also, 'written by a bunch of worthless right-wing scumbags who, come the glorious day, will all be first up against the wall.' Which some might regard as an opportunity missed. The message, which is produced by a third-party start-up called NewsGuard, informs readers to 'proceed carefully' given that 'the site regularly publishes content that has damaged reputations, caused widespread alarm, or constituted harassment or invasion of privacy.' It gives the Scum Mail Online, one of the world's biggest - if, most shameful - news websites, but one out of five on 'credibility', the same level as the Kremlin-backed RT news service. NewsGuard is run by 'news industry veterans' (whatever that means) and claims that it is 'trying to establish industry-standard benchmarks' for which news websites should be trusted. Yeah, well good luck with that, guys. It says it employs analysts to 'manually check' whether sites 'meet a series of journalistic standards,' making all its judgements public and inviting outlets to respond to criticism and improve their standards to gain a higher rating. Until now, the service has only been available as a downloadable plug-in but this week Microsoft began installing it automatically on all mobile editions of its Edge browser, the successor to Interweb Explorer, in the first stage of what its creators hope will be a widespread roll-out across multiple platforms. Edge has a tiny proportion of the global Interweb browser market and the NewsGuard plug-in is only included on the version for mobile users, not desktop or laptop users. The partnership was signed as part of Microsoft's Defending Democracy programme; the tech company has no oversight over NewsGuard's editorial verdicts. Steve Brill, a NewsGuard co-founder, said the Scum Mail Online verdict had been reached 'in a transparent manner. We spell out fairly clearly in the label exactly how many times we have attempted to contact them. The analyst that wrote this write-up got someone on the phone who, as soon he heard who she was and where she was calling from, hung up. We would love to hear if they have a complaint or if they change anything.' He said that NewsGuard 'took complete responsibility' for the verdicts and that all complaints should be directed at his company rather than Microsoft. 'They can blame us. And we're happy to be blamed. Unlike the platforms we're happy to be accountable. We want people to game our system. We are totally transparent. We are not an algorithm.' NewsGuard's business model relies on licensing its product to tech companies which want to fight online disinformation but do not want to take responsibility for making editorial judgements. Brill said that his company, which has received investment from the advertising group Publicis, has completed human-generated verdicts on the top two thousand news outlets in the US and was hiring staff to produce similar verdicts on the top one hundred and fifty news sites in the UK, with the aim of publishing results in April. A spokesperson for the Scum Mail Online whinged: 'We have only very recently become aware of the NewsGuard start-up and are in discussions with them to have this egregiously erroneous classification resolved as soon as possible.' Do remember to mention your very public supposed for that disgraceful old stinker Baronet Oswald Ernald Mosley and your then publisher's close personal friendship with the German Chancellor, Herr Hitler when you do, chaps. One is sure that'll go down well.
The high court has been told that well-naughty phone-hacking type activities were 'widespread' at the Sun, despite strong denials from billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch's News UK organisation that the shitescum daily tabloid newspaper was ever involved in any illegal activity or anything even remotely like it. No siree, Bob. One or two people even believed them. A lawyer representing alleged phone-hacking victims also requested the historic expenses receipts of serving Sun reporter Nick Parker, in order to investigate whether his purchase of top-up vouchers for a burner mobile phone was 'related' to the interception of voicemails. News UK declined to comment on any of the claims made in court and has always strongly denied that any illegal activities took place at the Sun. The newspaper has always denied any involvement in phone-hacking or wrongdoing by senior executives and said that the illegality was 'confined' to the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World, its now defunct sister title, which was closed in shame and ignominy in 2011 at the height of the scandal. Parker, who is the Sun's chief foreign correspondent, was handed a suspended jail sentence in 2014 after being extremely convicted of handling a Labour MP's stolen mobile phone but was welcomed back to the newspaper the following year. The high court also heard that Sir Elton John and his husband, David Furnish, were 'close' to settling a phone-hacking claim with the publisher of the Sun and the Scum Of The World, just weeks before the case was due to go to trial. The court was told that the couple were close to reaching an agreement with News Group Newspapers, part of the wider News UK group, in a move that could avoid a high-profile trial over claims journalists at the Sun were involved in illegally obtaining voicemails, allegations the newspaper has always denied. News UK has settled settled dozens of cases in recent years with confidential settlements thought to be worth millions of knicker, with agreements often reached on the eve of trial. The settlements, crucially, do not accept any wrongdoing on the part of the Sun relating to the interception of voicemails. Barrister David Sherborne told the court that two other 'big ticket' claims have still yet to settle and are due to go to trial on 4 February, which could potentially force senior billionaire tyrant Murdoch executives to appear in the witness box and, one imagines, answer some extremely awkward questions about what, exactly, did and did not go on at the tabloid. One case involves Liz Hurley and the other involves Heather Mills and her sister, Fiona. Sherborne also claimed at a pre-trial hearing that News Group Newspapers 'frustrated' attempts to obtain material 'relevant to the case.' The legal proceedings are still ongoing more than seven-and-a-half years after the Scum of the World closed in disgrace following revelations about phone-hacking that led to the convictions and banging up in the Slammer of Andy Coulson, the former Scum of the World editor and Downing Street communications chief and a number of other, low level, journalists. Many of the claims of phone-hacking still winding their way through the legal system relate to the sources of news stories published in the mid-2000s, with billionaire tyrant Murdoch's company having already settled more than a thousand civil claims for phone-hacking. Last year another group of claimants, including the former boxer Frank Bruno, settled their cases against the newspaper group. News Group Newspapers recorded a loss of ninety one million smackers in the 2017 financial year, with the accounts stating that one-off costs included significant legal fees in relation to ongoing legal issues. The publisher of the Mirra has also made multiple settlements with a-, b-, c- and z-list celebrities over alleged phone-hacking, including with the actor and press reform campaigner Hugh Grant. The publisher finally admitted last year that it had 'actively turned a blind eye' to the naughty - and extremely illegal - practice over many years. Mostly when the Daily Mirra was being edited by that Oily Twat Piers Morgan.
The shadow justice secretary, Richard Burgon, has told a court there is 'no justification' for linking his decision to record a song with a heavy metal rock and/or roll band which, allegedly, used 'Nazi-influenced fonts' and claims of antisemitism in the Labour party. The Labour MP, who would become Lord Chancellor and be placed in charge of the legal system if the party came to power, is extremely suing the Sun for libel after it published an article entitled Reich and Roll: Labour's justice boss ridiculed after he joins a heavy metal band that delights in Nazi symbols. Burgon launched the libel action against the billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper and its political editor, Tom Newton Dunn, after it reported on his guest appearance with the Leeds band Dream Tröll. The article, published in April 2017, claimed the typeface used for the letter 'S' in a Dream Tröll social media post entitled 'We Sold Our Soul For Rock N Tröll' 'paid homage' to the logo of Adolf Hitler's SS paramilitary organisation. Burgon faced repeated questions from the Sun's lawyer about Labour's record on antisemitism, including asking whether the shadow justice secretary would, hypothetically, be willing to perform a song with the band in front of the disputed artwork at a gig in areas with large Jewish populations such as 'parts of North London' or Tel Aviv. Burgon repeatedly insisted that he would not appear on a stage that featured Nazi iconography, but insisted that the artwork at the heart of the dispute was 'influenced by Black Sabbath,' not the German military unit. 'I do not accept that it is Nazi iconography. It is a pastiche or spoof of an album by a famous rock band from the 1970s.' The Sun's story was based on spoof artwork posted on Dream Tröll's Twitter account, alongside messages commenting on the actor Chuck Norris. The band also tweeted mock-ups of other heavy metal LPs such as 'God Gave Rock N Tröll To You' and 'For Whom The Bell Trölls.' Burgon was also accused of 'using expensive lawyers to shut down references to antisemitism in the press' and was repeatedly asked about comments about the Holocaust made by former mayor of London Ken Livingstone and the decision by Labour leader Comrade Corbyn to 'support' a graffiti artist whose work featured antisemitic tropes. Burgon said that he was 'deeply concerned' about antisemitism within Labour and had 'never denied there is an issue with this gravest of matters,' but insisted that it was 'unconnected to the issue at hand.' The shadow justice secretary told the court that he agreed the logo of Hitler's SS is 'a globally recognised symbol of unparalleled evil' but claimed that he 'did not see' any similarity between the Nazi logo and the 'S' in the image posted by Dream Troll. At one point proceedings paused, briefly, whilst lawyers explained the identity of the late singer Lemmy from Motörhead to the high court judge, amid lengthy discussions over the current popularity of Black Sabbath in the United Kingdom and Burgon's views on the use of Gothic typography used by the American glam metal band Kiss. The court heard of WhatsApp messages sent by Labour adviser Ben Foley discussing how to respond to the Sun's inquiry about Burgon's involvement with the band, amid concerns that the story could have wider consequences. 'They could seek to turn this into another "problem with antisemitism" story, especially as they can time this with passover,' he said. Burgon was also shown a series of Nazi posters and asked to repeatedly agree that Nazi imagery 'relied heavily' on the same red, white and black colour scheme used in the post by Dream Tröll. Burgon insisted that a 'similar' colour scheme was also used by 'the likes of Sunderland football club' and, indeed, by the Sun itself. So it's clearly evil. 'I did not associate with a band that delights in Nazi iconography and would not do so,' he said. Burgon's lawyer said that the Sun had 'deliberately exaggerated' the story to 'create' a political controversy: 'The intention behind any work of art is crucial to the understanding of it. The defendants accept that Mister Burgon is not a Nazi and there have never been any grounds to believe that he is, that Mister Burgon is not an antisemite, that Dream Tröll are not Nazis, that they are not Nazi sympathisers and, crucially, they do not "delight" in using Nazi symbols or iconography.' Burgon, who employed the services of libel lawyers Carter-Ruck for the case, did not know about the artwork until he was approached by the newspaper and has known the members of the band since they were all teenagers. The court heard that Newton Dunn was first 'alerted' to Burgon's connection with the band by an e-mail snitch from a Labour councillor. The story was, allegedly, 'pulled forward' because the Sun's politics team had 'a thin newslist' for the Good Friday edition of the paper and it was originally listed internally with the headline: What a Nazi Justice Secretary. The journalist then called the Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke to 'provide some political comment' on the story and the Dover MP provided exactly the sort of criticism of Burgon that the Sun was angling for without having seen the Black Sabbath LP cover. Or, indeed, knowing what he was talking about. So, no change there, then. Burgon's team insisted that the Sun took the social media 'post out of context' and 'knowingly misrepresented it.' They are seeking eye-watering damages. The trial extremely continues.
An Egyptian TV presenter has been sentenced to one year of hard labour for interviewing a gay man last year. A court in Giza also fined Mohamed al-Ghiety three thousand Egyptian pounds for 'promoting homosexuality' on his privately owned LTC TV channel. The gay man, whose identity was hidden, had talked about life as a sex worker. Homosexuality is not explicitly criminalised in Egypt, however the authorities have been increasingly cracking down on the LGBT community. They routinely arrest people suspected of engaging in consensual homosexual conduct on charges of 'debauchery,' immorality or blasphemy. The most recent case came about after lawyer Samir Sabry, who is well known in Egypt for taking celebrities to court, filed a lawsuit against Ghiety for his interview which took place in August 2018. The TV host, who has voiced homophobic views on a number of occasions, spoke to a gay man who expressed regret over his sexuality and described life as a male prostitute. The man's face had been blurred to conceal his identity. Egypt's media body, the Supreme Council for Media Regulation, immediately took the channel off-air for two weeks, citing 'professional violations.' The prosecuting lawyer, Sabry, accused the TV host of revealing there to be 'financial gains' of 'practising homosexuality,' state-owned al-Ahram newspaper reports. In addition to the jail term and the fine, the misdemeanours court also ordered Ghiety to be put under surveillance for one year after serving his sentence, Sabry said. The verdict could be appealed against and suspended - or, at least, have the hard labour part amended to 'a bit of light temp work' - if Ghiety paid bail of a thousand Egyptian pounds, pending the appeal's outcome, he added. Egypt's media council banned homosexuals from appearing on any media outlet after a rainbow flag was raised at a pop concert in Cairo in 2017, in a rare public show of support for the LGBT community in the conservative, mainly Muslim country. A crackdown was also launched on suspected homosexuals with dozens of people arrested, in a move decried by human rights groups. The authorities rely on a 1961 prostitution law that criminalises 'habitual debauchery' to charge people whom they suspect of engaging in consensual homosexual conduct. Sabry - who sounds like a complete and total closet case himself - was also the lawyer who filed a case against Egyptian actress Rania Youssef on charges of 'inciting debauchery' over a see-through outfit she wore at an awards ceremony last year. He later dropped the case after Youssef apologised. He has filed hundreds of similar cases in recent years. Yes, definitely no obscuring his own latent tendencies with aggressive displays of massive maleness there, then.
Sir David Attenborough has told Prince William that people have never been more 'out of touch' with the natural world than they are today. In an interview with the prince at the World Economic Forum, the naturalist warned: 'We can wreck it with ease, we can wreck it without even noticing.' Wavey Davey said that people 'must care, respect and revere' the natural world. Heeding his words, the prince said: 'Work to save the planet is probably going to largely happen on our watch.' Sir David said: 'When I started sixty years ago in the mid-1950s, to be truthful, I don't think there was anybody who thought that there was a danger that we might annihilate part of the natural world.' In his early career, he said, simply showing people a new animal on television would 'astound' them. Even then, he added: 'Television in Britain in the fifties was only seen by a few million people in Southern England.' Speaking in Davos, Switzerland, the Blue Planet and Dynasties narrator said: 'Now we can go everywhere, we can go into the bottom of the sea, we can go into space, we can use drones, we can use helicopters, we can use macroworlds, we can speed things up, we can slow things down, we can film in the darkness - and so the natural world has never been exposed to this degree before.' His new series, Our Planet, due to be shown on Netflix, could reach one hundred and fifty million people immediately, he said 'and go on being seen - by word of mouth.' Despite this, he added, with more people than ever living in towns, 'the paradox [is] that there has never been a time when more people are out of touch with the natural world than there's now.' He warned: 'It's not just a question of beauty or interest or wonder, it's the essential ingredient, essential part of human life is a healthy planet. We are in the danger of wrecking that.' He said that, for a very long time, people have viewed the natural world in opposition to the urban world. 'It is not, we are all one world,' he said, adding that global leaders are beginning to see that everything we do has implications. He said: 'That fundamental, beautiful fact is now being recognised.' In his interview with the Duke of Cambridge, Sir David said it was 'difficult to overstate' the climate change crisis. He added: 'We are now so numerous, so powerful, so all pervasive, the mechanisms we have for destruction are so wholesale and so frightening that we can exterminate whole ecosystems without even noticing it. We have now to be really aware of the dangers that we are doing. And, we already know that of course the plastics problem in the seas is wreaking appalling damage on marine life - the extent of which we don't yet fully know.' Last year, Sir David said that he was 'astonished' by the response to Blue Planet II, which raised the issue of single-use plastics and the damage they were doing to the world's oceans. Sir David was given a Crystal Award at the forum on Monday for his leadership in environmental stewardship. Accepting the award, the veteran broadcaster urged leaders to 'come up with practical solutions.' He told the prince: 'The point is that we have this option ahead of us - we have to take the option to protect the natural world. That's where the future lies. There's a source of great optimism there, we have the knowledge, we have the power, to live in harmony with that natural world.' Prince William has previously described Sir David as having 'the single most important impact in my conservation thinking.' Introducing Sir David, he said it was 'a personal treat' to interview the broadcaster. In a BBC tribute programme marking Sir David's ninetieth birthday in 2016, the duke called him 'a national treasure.' He added: 'I used to love - and I still do - but when I was a young boy, used to love turning on the television and watching David's programmes and really feeling like I was back out in Africa or I was learning about something magical and almost out of this planet.' The duke said: 'There is something very reassuring about seeing David Attenborough on BBC1 doing his documentaries. It is part of the national psyche now.' Sir David turned ninety in the same year as the Queen and paid his own tribute at her official birthday celebrations at St Paul's Cathedral. They also took part in an ITV documentary last year which looked at the Queen's Commonwealth Canopy project. Sir David and the Queen, who were born just weeks apart, shared a joke over a forlorn-looking tree in the Buckingham Palace grounds which the Queen suggested had been 'sat on' during a garden party. When Sir David suggested climate change might lead to 'all kinds of different trees growing here in another fifty years,' the Queen replied: 'It might easily be, yes. I won't be here though.' Prince William, who is patron of the Tusk conservation charity, has in the past warned over the impact of the ivory trade and wildlife trafficking. In 2016, he urged the UK government to push ahead with a total ban on the ivory trade in a bid to protect elephants. He also voiced concerns that the African elephant may have disappeared from the wild by the time his daughter Princess Charlotte is twenty five.
Sixteen social media 'stars' - whatever that ludicrous and meaningless descriptor means - including pop singers Ellie Goulding and Rita Ora, models Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Alexa Chung and vlogger Zoella (no, me neither) have agreed to change how they post online. Or, in other words, to obey the sodding law. About time. They will have to 'clearly state if they have been paid or received any gifts or loans of products they endorse.' It follows warnings from the Competition & Markets Authority that their posts could break consumer law. Online endorsements can boost brands but can also mislead, said the CMA. This blogger would, at this stage, like it to be noted that he had never - not never - been paid to say that a TV show is worth watching (or otherwise) on this blog or on Facebook. Not that he would be at all averse to such an arrangement should it be proposed, of course. And, he is sure that the CMA, the ASA and Ofcom (a politically appointed quango, elected by no one) will be happy to learn that he would be perfectly prepared to end such a recommendation with the words: 'This blogger was paid an absolute shitload of cash to tell you this.' Anyway, the CMA has not made a finding on whether these named 'influencers' - another ridiculous way of describing a group of, frankly, ridiculous people - breached consumer law, but said that all of them had 'volunteered' to change their practices following an investigation. However, if they fail to comply with the agreement reached with the CMA, they could be taken to court and face heavy fines or prison sentences of up to two years. And, let's face it, the very idea of Ellie Goulding or Rita Ora getting their asses banged up in The Slammer for their naughty ways is rather delicious. Actress Michelle Keegan, vlogger Jim Chapman (no, me neither) and 'reality TV' type individual Chloe Sims were also named along with some people that you've never heard for from Made In Chelsea and Geordie Shore. Warning letters have been sent to a number of other - unidentified - z-list celebrities, urging them to 'review' their social media posts. Usually when z-list celebrities post an advert without being clear that they were paid to do so, it's the Advertising Standards Authority that gives them a slap on the wrist if a complaint is made. But, while the ASA takes action against individual advertisements or campaigns, the Competition & Markets Authority can take action against the people involved. Social media platforms including Instagram already have built-in tools, such as the paid-partnership tool, which supposedly make it clear when a post is an 'advertorial.' All sixteen of the z-list celebrities named by the CMA were being specifically investigated because they may have broken the rules, not once but repeatedly. By agreeing to change their ways they have avoided court action, which could have led to unlimited fines or up to two years in The Big House, banged up with all the murderers and the rapists and the people who nick stuff from Lidl. Officially, no ruling was made on whether the z-list celebrities had broken any rules, because they were not taken to court. This time. But, the CMA says its investigation is 'not finished.' It has sent warning letters to more 'influencers' and is going to investigate other social networks too. Andrea Coscelli, the chief executive of the CMA, said: 'Influencers can have a huge impact on what their fans decide to buy. People could, quite rightly, feel misled if what they thought was a recommendation from someone they admired turns out to be a marketing ploy. You should be able to tell as soon as you look at a post if there is some form of payment or reward involved, so you can decide whether something is really worth spending your hard-earned money on.' Even gifts that are made without a requirement to post about them afterwards must be declared if they appear in social media content. It is no longer enough for 'influencers' to declare the companies they work for in their profile. Each post must be treated 'in isolation and all paid-content or commercial relationships declared.' If an 'influencer' is engaged in various commercial relationships related to an individual post, each one must be declared separately. A lawyer has told the BBC that the UK's rules were 'still complex.' 'The CMA has portrayed these posts as if some celebrities are deliberately trying to pull the wool over the eyes of their fans, but often it is just that the various guidance is difficult to follow,' said Geraint Lloyd-Taylor, legal director at law firm Lewis Silkin. 'I think the hashtag "#ad" will become the default, but it seems that the CMA intends to also look more at what the platforms are doing and it might be that we see more built-in tools and other changes from them as well.' The practice of endorsing products, from clothes to cars, hotels to holidays, is widespread among so-called 'social media influencers' who can, apparently, earn tens of thousands of smackers from companies for a single post on sites such as Instagram. The risk is that stupider and more pliable consumers will place more trust in a product which has been recommended by some z-list plank off the telly that they admire on social media. The CMA will be 'conducting further investigations' into the 'role and responsibilities' of social media platforms. The Advertising Standards Authority launched its own investigation into advertising on social media following complaints about the practice and has already flagged-up content from reality TV-type individual Louise Thompson (no, me neither) about product endorsement on two occasions.
Media in the Netherlands and Belgium have ceased employing a freelance reporter amid allegations that he plagiarised other media and cited alleged 'sources' in his articles that could not, subsequently, be traced. The scandal represents another blow to the reputation of journalism in Western Europe, following a similar high-profile case in Germany last month. News magazine Nieuwe Revu said on Tuesday it was withdrawing twenty seven articles by freelance reporter Peter Blasic, who covered general news, saying he had used sources in his stories that the magazine has been 'unable to track down.' On Wednesday, another Dutch magazine, HP/De Tijd, said in a statement that seven of about three hundred articles by Blasic it had published on its website between 2014 and 2017 had been 'copied in whole or in part' from the EUobserver website, without crediting the site. Blasic, who also works as a civil servant in the Southern Dutch town of Roermond, did not respond on Wednesday to calls and e-mails seeking comment. Belgian media also reported uncovering plagiarism and 'dubious sourcing' in Blasic's stories. The website said that it had published six of his articles: 'Our own investigations show that Blasic never spoke to certain sources he cites in the articles and appears to have invented a number of anonymous witnesses,' the site said. It added: 'Our website made a mistake. We should have seen through this fraudster.' The statements followed the publication this week by Amsterdam weekly De Groene Amsterdammer of a report outlining a string of suspect stories by Blasic in Dutch and Belgian media. The revelations come a month after German weekly Der Spiegel revealed that one of its star reporters, Claas Relotius, left the publication after committing journalistic fraud 'on a grand scale' over a number of years. Tom Kellerhuis, editor-in-chief of HP/De Tijd, said his website stopped working with Blasic after discovering his alleged plagiarism in October 2017, although the site did not publicise the situation at the time. 'This wasn't about a star reporter with a formidable reputation, but a starting inexperienced "journalist" who still denies his plagiarism,' Kellerhuis wrote.
Bryan Singer has reportedly been accused of sexually assaulting and sleeping with a string of under-age boys. Again. The allegations come from an article in The Atlantic, which allegedly quotes four men who it claims have not spoken publicly before. Two allegedly claim they had The Sex with Singer when he knew they were under eighteen, the Californian age of consent. Singer denied the allegations and said that it was 'a homophobic smear' timed to exploit Bohemian Rhapsody's success. In a statement to BBC News, he added that the story 'rehashes claims from bogus lawsuits filed by a disreputable cast of individuals willing to lie for money or attention.' His attorney also told The Atlantic that he categorically denied having The Sex with, or a preference for, under-age men. The Atlantic story includes the new allegations as well as claims from men who had previously filed lawsuits against Singer, which have been either settled or voluntarily dismissed. Of the new allegations, one man, who was anonymous in The Atlantic story, claimed that he and Singer had The Sex when he was fifteen whilst another said that Singer knew he was seventeen when they had The Sex. A third claimed he 'started a sexual relationship' with the film-maker at the age of 'seventeen or eighteen' and described Singer as 'a predator' who would 'stick his hands down your pants without your consent.' The Atlantic quoted another man, Victor Valdovinos, as claiming Singer that repeatedly molested him on the set of the 1998 film Apt Pupil. Singer's attorney told The Atlantic that the director did not know who Valdovinos was and denied that 'anything had happened' between them. He also pointed out that Singer has never been arrested for or charged with any crime. The Atlantic story was written by Alex French and Maximillian Potter, who are credited as Esquire magazine's 'writer at large' and 'editor at large' respectively. Singer - the director of The Usual Aspects, X-Men, Valkyrie and Star Trek: Nemesis - posted a statement in October saying that he was 'aware' Esquire was planning 'a negative article' about him. In Wednesday's statement, the director said: 'After careful fact-checking and, in consideration of the lack of credible sources, Esquire chose not to publish this piece of vendetta journalism. That didn't stop this writer from selling it to The Atlantic. It's sad that The Atlantic would stoop to this low standard of journalistic integrity. Again, I am forced to reiterate that this story rehashes claims from bogus lawsuits filed by a disreputable cast of individuals willing to lie for money or attention. And it is no surprise that, with Bohemian Rhapsody being an award-winning hit, this homophobic smear piece has been conveniently timed to take advantage of its success.' Singer was fired from directing the Queen biopic for 'unreliable behaviour on set' just weeks before filming was due to wrap and work on the movie was completed by Dexter Fletcher. But, Singer is still listed as the film's director by the Director's Guild of America.
Countdown presenter Rachel Riley has recalled the 'hideous' feeling of receiving hate-filled abuse after speaking out against anti-Semitism. At a packed Holocaust Memorial Day reception at the House of Commons, she first joked that her 'mum's Jewish and my dad's Man United' before outlining some of the abuse she has endured recently. Riley spoke of her 'deep and irreparable sorrow' about The Holocaust and of feeling 'emotionally punched in the stomach' after visiting Auschwitz in November. She said: 'On Twitter the messages I am sent are often indistinguishable from that you would expect from a Neo-Nazi - yet the tweeters are identifiably not Neo-Nazis. The markers of the red Labour rose coupled with the Palestinian flag and the hashtag of "Get The Tories Out" and "Jeremy Corbyn For PM" along with the standard claim to be "against racism in all forms" are their signature giveaways.' Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Dame Margaret Hodge and Holocaust survivor Eva Clarke were among the other speakers at the event organised by The Holocaust Educational Trust. Riley said: 'In the name of Labour I have been called a hypocrite, a lying propagandist, a tits-teeth-and-arse clothes horse dolly bird weaponised with anti-Semitism, fascist, right-wing extremist, Nazi sympathiser, a Twitter cancer, thick Tory, brainwashed, an anti-Semite, a white supremacist hate preacher.' Other slurs have included being called 'not a real Jew, a child bully, a bonkers mad conspiracy theorist, a paedo-protector minion puppet whom my dead grandfather would be disgusted by,' she said. Riley said that she has faced calls from critics to be fired from her role on Countdown. She said that she felt she has been 'targeted' for speaking about anti-Semitism in the Labour party. She said she was 'trying to educate herself' on the topic and watched six hours of videos on Christmas Day on the history of anti-Semitism and had spoken to a range of people including experts and Labour MPs. She suggested that 'knowledge and truth are our only weapons' in trying to tackle the problem, adding: 'You need to know next to nothing to propagate Nazi or Soviet Jew-hating propaganda reframed to fit today's narrative, which spreads like wildfire and is dangerous. But you need to know nearly everything to stop it. The odds are stacked in the anti-Semite's favour.' Calling for the Labour party to try to help 're-stack those odds,' she said: 'No-one should have to risk their safety and jeopardise their career in speaking out against anti-Semitism in Britain in 2019.'
The actress and reality TV-type individual Tina Malone is facing contempt of court proceedings - and, possible jail time - over a social media post which allegedly showed images of James Bulger's killer Jon Venables. Malone revealed that she had received a High Court summons in a series of Facebook posts on Thursday. There is a global ban on publishing anything which comes even remotely close to revealing the new identities of Jon Venables and Robert Thompson. The Attorney General's Office confirmed that it had summonsed Malone to appear at the High Court up a'fore The Beak, to answer for her actions. Venables and Thompson were convicted of murdering two-year-old James in 1993. They have been living under new identities since they were released on licence in 2001. A spokesman for the AGO said that the summons 'related to a social media post last year.' They added that the High Court would set a date for the hearing in due course. In Facebook posts on Thursday, Liverpool-born Malone, who has appeared in Shameless and Brookside, said: 'I need a lawyer ASAP. I've been committed to the High Court.' The AGO added: 'The Law Officers will review contempt of court allegations made to them, but they cannot comment on the nature of any investigations. The Law Officers remind everyone that an injunction is in place which prevents publication of any images or information claiming to identify anyone as Jon Venables or Robert Thompson.'
Alex Salmond will continue to host his own television programme despite being extremely charged with attempted rape and sexual assault, BBC Scotland reports. Russian broadcaster RT said that it would continue to show The Alex Salmond Show. The former Scottish first minister faced fourteen charges at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, also including breach of the peace and indecent assault. He made no plea during the hearing and outside court he said that he was 'innocent of any criminality.' The sixty four-year-old added that he would defend himself 'to the utmost.' Salmond has hosted a weekly show on RT since November 2017. In a statement, the controversial state-funded broadcaster said that it was 'unable to comment' on Salmond's court hearing. But it added: 'This matter does not concern anything related to The Alex Salmond Show or RT and The Alex Salmond Show will continue on-air, as usual, at this time. It is important to note, irrespective of the findings on this matter in court, that we believe firmly in the principles of a fair trial, including both the right to justice for victims and the presumption of innocence and that we utterly condemn sexual misconduct in any form.' Which, to be fair, is an interesting change from Russia's usual judicial policy of those charged with a crime being innocent 'until found dead from novichok poisoning.' Police had been investigating following a Scottish government inquiry into complaints of sexual harassment against Salmond. At court on Thursday, he was accused of two charges of attempted rape, nine of sexual assault, two of indecent assault and one breach of the peace. Speaking outside the court following the hearing, the former MP and MSP said: 'Now that these proceedings, criminal proceedings, are live it is important to respect the court. And therefore, the only thing I can say is I refute absolutely these allegations of criminality and I'll defend myself to the utmost in court.' No date has yet been fixed for the next hearing in the case. Salmond was twice leader of the SNP, but quit the party in 2018 after taking legal action against the government. Salmond left office after the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, with his former deputy Wee Jimmy Krankie taking his place in Bute House. He returned to Westminster as an MP the following year, but extremely lost his Gordon seat in the erection in 2017.
The Daily Torygraph has snivellingly apologised 'unreservedly' to Melania Rump and agreed to pay her 'substantial damages' for an article it published last week. The paper said its Saturday magazine cover story The Mystery Of Melania contained 'a number of false statements.' These included claims the US First Lady was 'struggling' in her modelling career before she met her husband and that she cried on election night. Which she, apparently, did not. Though, to be fair, lots of other people did. A lot. The paper accepted that the statements 'should not have been published.' It said it would also pay Rump's legal costs. In a grovelling apology printed on Saturday, the paper accepted Rump was 'a successful professional model in her own right before she met her husband and obtained her own modelling work without his assistance.' It said the article also, wrongly, claimed that Rump's mother, father and sister relocated to New York in 2005 to live in buildings owned by Donald Rump. The paper added that Mrs Rump's father was not 'a fearsome presence' and 'did not control the family,' as alleged in the article. It also accepted that Rump did not leave her Design & Architecture course at university for reasons 'relating to the completion of an exam' but, rather, because she 'wanted to pursue a successful career as a professional model.'
The Queen has joined members of her local Women's Institute in a live version of TV quiz show Pointless hosted by Alexander Armstrong. Her Maj is reported to be 'an avid viewer' of the BBC's teatime favourite, in which players compete to find the least obvious answers to questions. Armstrong, the show's presenter, described the Queen as 'our most distinguished viewer.' Which, frankly, is a bit of a kick in the knackers to the four or five million regular viewers of the show, most of whom believed they were. The Queen's team was crowned winner of the contest at the Sandringham WI. She visits the group every year as part of her winter stay at the Sandringham estate in Norfolk. West Newton Village Hall was divided into two teams for the live game - one headed by the Queen and the other by Yvonne Browne, vice-president of the WI group. Five matches took place, with the royal's team winning three. Although, whether Yvonne and her teammates merely let their opponents win the decider to avoid any potential royal kerfuffle is not known at this time. Armstrong - who presented Sandringham WI with a trophy - has previously claimed that an alleged, though suspiciously anonymous (and, therefore, probably fictitious) 'Palace insider' had snitched to him the monarch was 'a fan' of the programme. Like a filthy, stinking Copper's Nark. Armstrong said the Queen gave 'some answers herself' and had 'some deft, silky Pointless skills. I think Her Majesty and the team can be very pleased with themselves tonight and go back covered in glory,' he added. 'I think they can look back over the match and feel rightly proud of what they achieved.' Speaking before the event, Armstrong said meeting the Queen would be 'a dream come true.' He added: 'I think everyone I've ever spoken to has said they've had a dream where they had tea with the Queen - I'm going to get to do that.' The Queen posed for a group photograph, unveiled the branch's centenary plaque and was given a celebratory cake. Although whether she ate it all herself is, likewise, unknown. During her speech to the event, the Queen told her fellow members: 'Of course, every generation faces fresh challenges and opportunities. As we look for new answers in the modern age, I for one prefer the tried and tested recipes, like speaking well of each other and respecting different points of view; coming together to seek out the common ground; and never losing sight of the bigger picture.' The Queen has been a member of the Sandringham WI since 1943, when she was still Princess Elizabeth.
A family-run science fiction museum 'may be exterminated' because a Dalek display allegedly does not comply with planning regulations. The owners of The Museum Of Classic Sci-Fi have been ordered to remove a shed from the front of their home which houses the replica Doctor Who monster. It has been on display since the museum opened in Allendale in October. Northumberland County Council have allegedly whinged that the shed 'did not fit in with the character of the couple's Grade II-listed home.' And, let us once again simply stand up and salute the utter shite that some people chose to care about. Art teacher Neil Cole, who owns the museum with his wife Lisa, teamed up with members of an after-school club to build the Dalek replica. The museum's website describes its attractions as 'a unique collection of original, screen-used props, costumes and artwork, spanning several decades.' However, the Coles said that the Dalek cannot be stored in their cellar alongside the other exhibits which include further Doctor Who items and props and costumes from the Marvel movie universe. Mrs Cole said: 'I didn't realise we needed planning permission for a shed.' Unfortunately, as The Doctor himself was once told in The Stones Of Blood, 'Contrition is to be accounted in the accused's favour. Ignorance of The Law is not.' Mind you, he got off with that charge on a technicality so, there's still hope of the Dalek it would appear. 'It's not attached to the building and when the museum is shut, the shed is shut,' Mrs Cole added. She claimed that the Dalek 'would not fit' inside the museum and if they had to get rid of it then the fate of the museum was 'unknown. I don't even want to think about [having to close], I would be gutted,' she added. Mrs Cole said that the museum had 'brought more than nine hundred people into the village,' with the Dalek making people 'smile as they drive up the road.' 'You have to sell your house to be able to afford a real Dalek, but he's built this one so lovingly,' she added. Northumberland County Council said: 'We wish to work with the property owner to resolve this and we have written to him to advise that this would require planning permission and, due to the listed status of the property, an application is unlikely to be supported.'
The New Horizons probe has sent back its best picture yet of Ultima Thule, which it flew past on New Year's Day. The image was acquired when the NASA spacecraft was just six thousand seven hundred kilometres from its target, which scientists think is two bodies lightly fused together, giving the look of a snowman. Surface details are now much clearer. New Horizons' data is coming back to Earth very slowly and will continue to do so over the next twenty months. This is partly to do with the great distance involved (the separation is six-and-a-half billion kilometres) but is also limited by the small power output of the probe's transmitter and the size (and availability) of the receive antennas here on Earth. The new image was obtained with New Horizons' wide-angle Multicolor [sic] Visible Imaging Camera and gives a resolution of one hundred and thirty five metres-per-pixel. There is another version of this scene taken at even higher resolution by the probe's Long Range Reconnaissance Imager, but this has not yet been downlinked from the probe. When the best pictures from the moment of closest approach (a miss distance of three thousand five hundred kilometres) are available, they should have resolutions of roughly thirty five metres-per-pixel. But, even in the latest MVIC observation, the new detail is fascinating. Ultima Thule's topography has now sharpened sufficiently for us to see the defined outline of a number of pits, especially along the day/night boundary, or terminator. For scale, the overall length of the snowman is about thirty three kilometres. Researchers will have to determine whether the holes are impact craters or voids created by some other type of process - such as the escape of volatile materials. Ultima Thule, a conglomeration of ice and dust, orbits the Sun in a sparsely populated and low-energy environment known as The Kuiper Belt. The chance of a collision with other objects ought, therefore, to be exceedingly low, but then this object was very probably created right at the start of Solar System formation and has had time to pick up at least a few scars. Several factors make Ultima Thule - and the domain in which it moves - so interesting to scientists. One is that the Sun is so dim in this region that temperatures are down near thirty to forty degrees above absolute zero - the coldest atoms and molecules can possibly get. As a result, chemical reactions have essentially stalled. This means Ultima is, effectively, in such a deep freeze that it is probably perfectly preserved in the state in which it formed. Another factor is that Ultima is so small this means it doesn't have the type of 'geological engine' that in larger objects will rework their composition. And a third factor is just the nature of the environment. It's very sedate in The Kuiper Belt. Unlike in the inner Solar System, there are probably very few collisions between objects. The Kuiper Belt hasn't been stirred up. New Horizons' principal investigator Professor Alan Stern said: 'Everything that we're going to learn about Ultima - from its composition to its geology, to how it was originally assembled, whether it has satellites and an atmosphere, and that kind of thing - is going to teach us about the original formation conditions in the Solar System that all the other objects we've gone out and orbited, flown by and landed on can't tell us because they're either large and evolve, or they are warm. Ultima is unique.'
What may be one of the oldest known rocks from Earth has been found in the material that Apollo 14 astronauts brought home from the Moon nearly fifty years ago. It is thought that the rock, made up of quartz, feldspar and zircon, crystallised deep beneath Earth's surface about four billion years ago and was catapulted towards the Moon in a collision with an asteroid or comet soon afterwards. 'It is an extraordinary find that helps paint a better picture of early Earth and the bombardment that modified our planet during the dawn of life,' said David Kring, a senior staff scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston. Chemical analysis of the two gram fragment suggests it formed more than twelve miles underground in an oxidising environment, which can be found on Earth but not on the Moon. A major impact then excavated the rock and blasted it into space, according to a report in Earth & Planetary Science Letters. At the time of the collision, the Moon was three times closer to Earth than it is today. After the rock came to rest on the lunar surface, another impact 3.9 billion years ago partially melted and buried it, scientists believe. The final impact that affected the rock happened about twenty six million years ago when an asteroid slammed into the Moon and made The Cone Crater, measuring three hundred and forty metres wide and seventy five metres deep, near the Apollo 14 landing site. That impact resurfaced the rock, which was then collected by the NASA astronauts. The Apollo 14 crew spent more than thirty three hours on the lunar surface in February 1971 and brought home nearly forty three kilograms of Moon rocks. Apollo 14 wasn't one of the more famous of the Apollo landings, although it should have been if only for the moment when Alan Shepard played golf on the Moon. The researchers, led by Jeremy Bellucci and Alexander Nemchin at the Swedish Museum of Natural History and Curtin University in Australia respectively, concede that the rock may have formed on the Moon, but argue that this would have required conditions not previously seen in lunar samples. To have a lunar origin, the rock would have had to crystallise at tremendous depth where rocks tend to have very different compositions, they write. The Earth formed in the early solar system four-and-a-half billion years ago. The oldest known fragment of Earth rock is a zircon crystal from Western Australia. The sliver of material, the same width as two human hairs, has been dated to 4.4 billion years old.
Uranus is arguably the most mysterious planet in the solar system, we know very little about it. So far, we have only visited the planet once, when the Voyager 2 spacecraft encountered it in 1986. The most obvious odd thing about this ice giant is the fact that it is spinning on its side. Unlike all the other planets, which spin roughly 'upright' so to speak with their spin axes at close to right angles to their orbits around the Sun, Uranus is tilted by almost a right angle. So in its summer, the North pole points almost directly towards the Sun. And unlike Saturn, Jupiter and Neptune, which have horizontal sets of rings around them, Uranus has vertical rings and a series of moons which orbit around its tilted equator. The ice giant also has a surprisingly cold temperature and a messy and off-centre magnetic field, unlike the neat bar-magnet shape of most other planets like Earth or Jupiter. Scientists, therefore, suspect that Uranus was once similar to the other planets in the solar system but was suddenly flipped over. So what happened? New research, published in the Astrophysical Journal and presented at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union, offers a clue. The solar system used to be a much more violent place, with protoplanets (bodies which were, at that time, developing to eventually become planets) colliding into each other in violent giant impacts which helped create the various worlds and satellites that we see today. Most researchers believe that Uranus' spin is the consequence of one such a dramatic collision. Lots of questions remain about Uranus and giant impacts in general. Even though recent simulations are getting more detailed, scientists still have lots to learn. Many are, therefore, calling for a new NASA mission to Uranus and Neptune to study their strange magnetic fields, their quirky families of moons and rings and even simply what precisely they're actually made of.
The UK's only rocket to successfully launch a satellite into orbit is to be unveiled in Scotland after a ten thousand-mile journey back home. The Black Arrow had lain at its crash landing site in the South Australian outback for forty eight years. Over time it was damaged by extreme weather and vandalism before space technology firm Skyrora stepped in. The rocket is set to go on display in Penicuik, Midlothian, later this month. Daniel Smith, director at Skyrora, said: 'This is quite feasibly the most important artefact linked to the UK's space history. While our engineers have been working on our own launches, our STEM ambassadors have been arranging all of this in the background.' The rocket will be unveiled near the company's headquarters and workshop in Edinburgh. Smith said: 'With the UK government aiming to make us a launch nation again, it seemed like the perfect time to bring Black Arrow back. We really hope the rocket will help to inspire current and future generations of scientists and engineers.' The UK Space Agency has previously announced two-and-a-half million knicker of funding for a proposed vertical launch spaceport in Sutherland. Developed and tested on the Isle of Wight, the Black Arrow programme completed four rockets between 1969 and 1971. The third flight was the first and only successful UK-led orbital launch, but the programme was then cancelled. This is said to have given the rocket 'cult status' among the space community. The Black Arrow's journey home saw it transported across land and sea - making the trip from the Australian desert to Edinburgh via Adelaide. Skyrora has also commissioned a plaque to be placed where Black Arrow had lain. Doctor Graham Turnock, chief executive of the UK Space Agency, said: 'Black Arrow is testament to Britain's longstanding heritage in the space sector which continues to thrive today. The government's Spaceflight Programme includes a series of education and outreach activities which I hope will play a major role in inspiring the next generation of space scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs.' Skyrora successfully completed its inaugural sub-orbital test launch North of the border last year. The company's next rockets, Skylark Micro and SkyHy, will allow its team to gain more launch experience, with the latter capable of reaching the edge of space.
A scientific expedition in the Antarctic is set to depart its current location to go in search of Sir Ernest Shackleton's lost ship. The team has been investigating the Larsen C Ice Shelf and the continent's biggest iceberg, known as A68. This puts it just a few hundred kilometres from the last recorded position of the famous British explorer's vessel, the Endurance. The polar steam-yacht was crushed in sea-ice and sank in November 1915. Shackleton's extraordinary escape from this loss, saving his entire crew, means that there is considerable interest in finding the wreck. Endurance should be resting on the ocean floor, some three thousand metres down. The Weddell Sea Expedition 2019 team wants to grab the chance of making the discovery, using robotic submersibles. But the group will have a tough job reaching the location, concedes chief scientist Professor Julian Dowdeswell. 'We've got a journey of several hundred kilometres from where we are now through really heavy and quite difficult sea-ice,' he told BBC Radio 4's Inside Science programme this week. 'We shall do our best to get there with the excellent ice-breaker that we have, but in any given year it will be very difficult to judge whether you will be able to penetrate the sea-ice.' The team has a good idea of where the Endurance should be. Shackleton's skipper on the vessel, Frank Worsley, was a highly skilled navigator and used a sextant and chronometer to calculate the sinking's exact co-ordinates. The ship's wreck site is almost certainly within a few nautical miles of that point. The American geophysical survey company Ocean Infinity is part of the Weddell Sea Expedition group. It has a Kongsberg Hugin autonomous underwater vehicle that it will deploy to map a twenty kilometres by twenty kilometres grid square on the ocean floor. If it succeeds in locating the Endurance, a remotely operated vehicle will then be sent down to photograph the wreck site. The organisms that normally consume sunken wooden ships do not thrive in the cold waters of the Antarctic, so there is optimism that Endurance's timbers will be well-preserved. That said, crushing forces had done quite a bit of damage to the vessel before she slipped below the floes. 'I think that if we locate the Endurance, the greater likelihood will be that her hull is semi-upright and still in a semi-coherent state,' commented marine archaeologist Mensun Bound. 'However, on the evidence of the only deep-water wooden wreck I have been privileged to study, I must concede that there is every possibility that she could have been wrenched wide open by impact [with the seafloor], thus exposing her contents like a box of chocolates,' he wrote on his expedition blog. Attempts to get to Larsen C in recent years by other expeditions were thwarted by the sea-ice conditions, but the SA Agulhas II has made the most of favourable circumstances to reach Larsen and complete an extensive range of studies. The ice shelf is the fourth largest such structure in the Antarctic. It is an amalgam of glacier fronts that have flowed off land and lifted up to form a floating platform. Similar shelves to the North have collapsed in past decades and researchers want to understand the current status and likely future prospects of Larsen C. Was the calving from the shelf of the monster berg A68 in July 2017 just part of a natural cycle, or an indication that a change is gonna come? To gain the necessary insights, the submersible technology has been investigating the mixing of waters under the ice shelf. 'We're also measuring the salinity and temperature of the ocean because if warmer waters get beneath the ice shelf - that can cause it to thin and collapse,' said Professor Dowdeswell, who is also the director of the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge.
The search for the missing footballer Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson has been called off after rescuers failed to find their plane. Cardiff City's Argentine striker and Ibbotson, from Crowle in Lincolnshire, were on the aircraft that disappeared from radar on Monday. After three days of scouring the English Channel, authorities have made the decision to abandon the search. Guernsey Police tweeted to say that rescuers were 'no longer actively searching' for the plane. Harbour master Captain David Barker said the chances of survival were 'extremely remote. We reviewed all the information available to us, as well as knowing what emergency equipment was on board and have taken the difficult decision to end the search,' he added. 'I understand Emiliano Sala's family are not content with the decision to stop the search and I fully understand that. I'm absolutely confident that we couldn't have done any more.' Responding to the news, Cardiff City's owner Vincent Tan said: 'We were looking forward to providing Emiliano with the next step in his life and career. Those who met Emiliano described a good-natured and humble young man who was eager to impress in the Premier League. The response from the football community has been truly touching and we place on record our sincere thanks to those who have sent messages of support. We also thank everyone involved with the search and rescue operation, and continue to pray for Emiliano, David Ibbotson and their families.' Captain Barker said that the depth of the sea where the plane had last contact was about one hundred metres and it would remain a missing persons case for the police. 'Despite best efforts of air and search assets from the Channel Islands, UK and France we have been unable to find any trace of the aircraft, the pilot or the passenger,' he added. Sala became Cardiff City's record signing on Saturday, joining from Ligue Un club Nantes for a fee of fifteen million knicker. He had returned to the French city to say farewell to his former teammates before taking the plane back to the Welsh capital. The single-engine plane carrying Sala and Ibbotson left Nantes at 7.15pm on Monday and had been flying at five thousand feet over the Channel Islands when it disappeared off radar near the Casquets lighthouse, close to Alderney. It lost contact while at two thousand three hundred and disappeared off radar near the lighthouse, infamous among mariners as the site of many shipwrecks. Sala reportedly sent a WhatsApp voice message before the flight. Sounding conversational and jokey, he said he was 'so scared' and: 'I'm on a plane that seems like it is breaking apart.' Rescue crews have searched about seventeen hundred square miles of land and sea in the Channel Islands in the past three days, covering Burhou, the Casquets, Alderney, the North coast of the Cherbourg Peninsula, the North coast of Jersey and Sark.
Meanwhile, it was subsequently reported that an investigation into the missing flight will 'look at all operational aspects' including licensing and flight plans. Ibbotson held a private pilot's licence and passed a medical exam as recently as November, according to Federal Aviation Administration records. The Civil Aviation Authority said that the aircraft was registered in the US and so fell under its regulations. American law states private pilots cannot make a profit by carrying passengers.
New data listing the highest revenue-generating football clubs in the world has placed this blogger's beloved (though, tragically, unsellable) Magpies back in the world's top twenty. In the latest Football Money League table from professional services giant Deloitte, Newcastle United ranked nineteenth with revenues of over one hundred and seventy eight million smackers in the 2017-18 season - a year which saw the world's top twenty clubs rake in a whopping seven-and-a-half billion quid collectively. The Scum placed higher than any other English club in third place overall with five hundred and ninety million notes, behind FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. A record six Premier League sides scored a place in the top ten; Shiekh Yer Man City were fifth, with five hundred and thirty million knicker, Liverpool Alabam Yee-Haws were seventh with four hundred and fifty five million smackers, Moscow Chelseki FC were eighth with four hundred and forty eight million wonga, The Arse were ninth with three hundred and eighty nine million quid and Stottingtot Hotshots were tenth with three hundred and seventy nine million knicker. Everton (one hundred and eight eight million) and West Hamsters United (one hundred and seventy five million) both joined The Magpies in top twenty, coming seventeenth and twentieth respectively. The Football Money League, now in its twenty second year, is published by Deloitte's Sports Business Group. Newcastle recorded an increase of ninety two million quid since the 2016-17 figures were published a year ago when their revenue of eighty six million notes saw them placed outside the top thirty (although, to be fair, they were in the The Championship that year). Their 2015-16 listing saw them twenty first with one hundred and sixty eight million.
League One's bottom club AFC Wimbledon shocked and stunned Premier League West Hamsters United to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup, while Championship side Millwall grabbed a dramatic added-time winner to knock out Everton. Kwesi Appiah and a Scott Wagstaff double saw The Dons race into a three-nil lead before The Hamsters responded via Lucas Perez and Felipe Anderson. But nineteen-year-old Toby Sibbick's goal two minutes from time delivered a thrilling four-two win at Kingsmeadow. Hamsters' manager Manuel Pellegrini described his side's defeat as 'a disaster. Was I angry at half-time? Yes of course - I was ashamed of them,' said Pellegrini. 'It's very easy to explain what happened - it was one team who wanted to win and another team who played without any desire or any ambition to win or continue in this cup. Maybe we thought we were going to win because we are a Premier League team and they are in League One, but Wimbledon played with the desire to compete in this cup. In the first forty five minutes, we didn't fight.' Richarlison and Cenk Tosun twice put Everton ahead at The Den but Lee Gregory's header and a controversial equaliser from Jake Cooper - with the ball appearing to go in off his arm - levelled for Millwall and Murray Wallace's late goal won it The Lions. Much to the incandescent fury of Everton's manager Marco Silva who claimed that the Video Assistant Referee rules in the FA Cup 'do not make sense.' On a day filled with drama, Wallace was the fourth player to score after the ninety-minute mark, with Newport, Doncaster and Wolves all benefiting from late goals. Sheikh Yer Man City thrashed Premier League opponents Burnley to progress. The Premier League champions remain in contention for a clean sweep of four trophies as Gabriel Jesus, Bernardo Silva, Kevin de Bruyne, a Kevin Long own goal and Sergio Aguero earned a thumping five-nil win over The Clarets. League One Shrewsbury were minutes from knocking out top-flight opponents Wolverhampton Wanderings, only for Matt Doherty to snatch a ninety third-minute equaliser for Nuno Espirito Santo's side in a two-two draw. Second-half strikes from Andre Gray and Isaac Success earned Watford a two-nil win at this blogger's beloved (though tragically unsellable) Newcastle, whose wait for a first major domestic trophy since 1955 continues. That was despite The Hornets making eleven changes from their last Premier League game. It was a thoroughly shameful, inept, cowardly performance by The Magpies reserves against Watford's reserves with at least half of the team appearing to lack a shred of commitment and, effectively, stuck two fingers up to the thirty four thousand punters who'd paid good money to watch what was, in short, an absolute fekking disgraceful shower of shite. As the website noted: 'The prospect of an unwanted extra trek to Watford certainly outweighed the novelty of seeing our name in the Fifth Round draw, but this was just a tedious, mind-numbingly awful excuse for a performance. A football team used to play here. Not any more.' Newport County shocked Premier League Leicester City in the Third Round and their cup run continued, but only just. Matt Dolan scored three minutes into injury time to earn a draw at Championship Middlesbrough. Portsmouth are enjoying a fine season - they are currently second in League One - and they are still in the competition after drawing with Queens Park Strangers. Lee Brown had put the 2008 winners in front but Nahki Wells earned the Championship team a replay. League One Gillingham knocked out one Welsh side, Cardiff City, in the Third Round, but their hopes of eliminating another ended at Swansea. Ollie McBurnie scored twice for the Championship club in a four-one win. Accrington Stanley manager John Coleman said he was left feeling 'physically sick' and was 'rapidly falling out of love with the game' after perceived refereeing mistakes by Jon Moss in his side's one-nil defeat at home to Derby County. Martyn Waghorn fired Derby into the Fifth Round against ten-man Stanley. In front of a club record over five thousand crowd at The Wham Stadium, midfielder Daniel Barlaser was sent off for two bookable offences. 'Each week you get stiffed by a decision,' claimed Coleman after the game setting himself up, beatifically, for an FA charge despite subsequently apologising. 'It's a tackle, it's not dangerous [for Barlaser's red card]. It happened two minutes before on our lad and the referee said it was a coming together. The best thing I can say is that you couldn't tell we were playing with ten men for the last twenty five minutes. Even the most ardent Derby fan would say they didn't deserve a win - a draw at best. I sometimes feel like packing in.' Oldham Not Very Athletic captain Peter Clarke endured a rip-roaring rollercoaster tie against Doncaster Rovers including a goal, a goal-line clearance, an own goal and then getting himself sent off. Doncaster eventually reached the Fifth Round for the first time in sixty three years thanks to Ben Whiteman's last minute penalty. In the battle of the Albinos, Brighton and West Bromwich shared a rather tedious goalless draw earning both of them a - thoroughly unwanted - replay. Bristol City came from behind to reach Fifth Round for the first time since 2001 with victory over Championship strugglers Notlob Wanderers. Niclas Eliasson decided the tie with a sublime individual goal, cutting in from the right before unleashing an effort into the top corner. In Friday night's big game, Alexis Sanchez made a goalscoring return to The Arse to set The Scum on their way to a three-one victory which makes it eight straight wins for interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Stottingtot Hotshots went out of their second knockout competition in four days after defeat by Crystal Palace on Sunday. Having lost a Carabao Cup semi-final to Moscow Chelski FC on penalties on Thursday, Spurs were two down inside thirty five minutes at Selhurst Park. Connor Wickham marked his first start since November 2016 with a goal before a penalty by ex-Spurs midfielder Andros Townsend doubled the lead. Spurs missed a penalty before half-time when Kieran Trippier blazed wide. And, in the weekend's final game, Moscow Chelski FC beat Sheffield Wednesday three-nil at Torpedo Stamford Bridge.
A man was reportedly slashed across the face 'during a mass brawl' before Millwall and Everton's FA Cup clash. The Metropolitan Police said that it believed the violence 'involved groups of rival fans.' No shit? Jeez, with police intelligence like that, it's a wonder all the criminals in the capital aren't already banged up and doing considerable stir at Her Majesty's. The Met said that 'a large group of males' was fighting and that a man in his twenties suffered a slash wound to the face. He was taken to a South London hospital with injuries that are not life-threatening. Videos of the brawl have been watched more than a million times online with kids gettin' sparked an aal sorts. The FA said it was 'not investigating the violence' because it happened outside the football ground. However, it is investigating 'reports of a discriminatory song being sung by Millwall fans,' an FA spokeswoman told the BBC. 'We are aware of the video circulating online, which has quite rightly elicited shock and disgust.' The Met added that officers 'worked to separate the groups with support from the Mounted Branch and Dog Support Unit.'

Former Blunderland defender John O'Shea believes that 'ninety nine per cent' of the club's players did not want a film crew to cover their 2017-18 Championship relegation season. The documentary Sunderland 'Til I Die charted a dismal and calamitous campaign which saw The Mackem Filth relegated to League One. The series covers the sacking of manager Simon Grayson, the appointment of his replacement Chris Coleman (who, also, subsequently got the tin tack) and a second successive relegation. 'I have not watched all of it. I've lived through it so why would I need to watch it again?' said O'Shea. Comedy value? Just a suggestion. 'From my point of view and I'd say ninety nine per cent of the players, we didn't want it to happen,' O'Shea, who joined Reading in June, told BBC 5Live. 'It's one of those things. You go in in the morning, go in for a little bit of treatment and you realise there's little mini-cameras dotted around.' During the eight-part series, events including the frenetic nature of a transfer deadline day and the ongoing frustrations of fans are captured. Some supporters are visibly angered by midfielder Jack Rodwell's high wages at a time where spending on the team was minimal, while midfielder Darron Gibson's dismissal by the club after being charged with drink driving also formed part of an episode. Chief-executive Martin Bain was filmed fielding difficult questions from fans, while Coleman was seen clashing with a supporter outside The Stadium Of Plight when the club's relegation was confirmed. 'The few bits I've seen, I'm glad the people of the club in the canteen, the player liaison officer, the kit men, they are really good people and I'm glad they have come out of it looking well,' added O'Shea. Unlike the players who come over in the series as a bunch of mercenary waste-of-space cowards and the club's management who appear to be portrayed as incompetent clowns. 'The club itself is an amazing, amazing club and I loved every minute of it as it's a great place to play football. Yes, the fans are passionate and vociferous but who doesn't want that? I'm glad [the series] is getting good reviews. The people behind it were good people. You got to know the camera people but how things can be portrayed, with clever editing, for some of it I'd say it definitely came out unfair on some people. That's just how it was at the time as it was a negative story. It wasn't going to come out positive on everybody.' Blunderland finished extremely bottom of the Championship during the season and their takeover by a consortium led by Stewart Donald late in the campaign features in the Netflix documentary. The club are currently third in League One - three points off the automatic promotion places.
West Hamsters United have been fined one hundred grand by the Football Association for the pitch invasions which marred their defeat by Burnley at London Stadium last March. The Hamsters were charged after fans repeatedly ran on to the pitch, with one approaching captain Mark Noble. And, getting a good kicking for his trouble. The FA found that stewarding for the game, unknown to West Hamsters United, had been reduced. Also, a report by the head of security for LS185, the stadium operators, was 'updated' to 'remove negative comments' about the reduction of staff. The FA rejected LS185's head of security Dave Sadler's claim that 'only the relevant parts' in the report were retained. During the game, a fan ran on to the pitch with a corner flag, while supporters also threw coins and objects as they protested in front of the directors' box. Co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold were forced to leave the directors' box for their own safety, with Sullivan being struck on the head by a coin. West Hamsters United gave several fans lifetime bans following the bother. Burnley players were praised after they sheltered a group of young fans in their dug-out during the crowd trouble. Following the game, Noble admitted that the atmosphere at London Stadium was 'horrible,' while West Hamsters United vice-chairman Karren Brady called it 'one of the most painful days' in the club's history. 'Following the conclusion of the FA inquiry, we would like to reaffirm our sincere apologies for the scenes witnessed at our home game against Burnley almost a year ago,' West Hamsters United said in a statement. 'The club has done everything within its power to address the issues that occurred that day, despite having no control over match-day security operations - a point which is accepted and reflected in the FA's findings. In line with our zero-tolerance approach, immediate action was taken against the perpetrators, resulting in 23 banning orders being issued. There is no place for behaviour like that at our club.' On Tuesday London Stadium owners E20 announced that LS185 has been brought in-house. The agreement will help get the stadium 'on a firm financial footing,' the company said. The stewarding aspect of the report is particularly interesting as West Hamsters United, as tenants at the London Stadium, did not know about the reduction in the number of stewards, as the FA report points out and, once they found out, were 'very uneasy' about it. In the immediate aftermath of the Burnley game, Brady wrote to the London Assembly to highlight the problem. Yet, in response, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said that 'based upon reports from senior officials, there has been no requirement to reduce stewarding and security.' Evidently, the FA do not view this version of events as being entirely accurate. Given the report also concluded that there were 'unacceptable deficiencies' in the quality and training of stewards, the potential for problems, given the match was played against a backdrop of enormous supporter discontent against the West Hamsters United board, the potential for trouble was clear. West Hamsters United have rebuilt relations with LS185 over the past nine months, with Brady and E20 chief executive Lyn Garner finding 'greater common ground' than ever before, evidenced by the agreement over an increase in capacity at the London Stadium to sixty thousand. However, the Hamsters' difficulties in playing in a stadium where they, largely, have no control over the security is underlined by the FA noting that the club has spent around three hundred grand on legal fees on this case, even though they had nothing to do with the security lapses that led to the problems.
Paris St-Germain forward Neymar was reportedly told 'don't go blubbering' after he left the pitch in tears having suffered a fractured metatarsal. Neymar was fouled three times in a few seconds by Moataz Zemzemi during PSG's two-nil French Cup win over Strasbourg. The twenty six-year-old responded by 'doing a rainbow flick' over the head of Zemzemi but had to come off injured. 'It's Neymar's style, but don't come and complain when you get kicked,' said Strasbourg's Anthony Goncalves. 'He is a great player, I respect him. He can enjoy himself but don't come blubbering afterwards.' However, PSG manager Thomas Tuchel was unhappy with the comments by some of the Strasbourg players and coach suggesting Neymar's behaviour provoked his opponents to cause the injury. 'It was a situation where he was fouled three times, one after the other. The referee didn't give anything. He twisted his foot,' said Tuchel. PSG said that Neymar had suffered a 'reactivation of the lesion of the fifth right metatarsal,' adding that treatment would depend on how the injury heals in the next few days. The former Barcelona forward, who has scored twenty goals in all competitions so far this season for the Ligue Un leaders, injured the same ankle last February and missed the rest of the season, only returning to fitness in time to play for Brazil at the World Cup. And, fall over a lot. 'Ney is worried, because it is the same foot, the same place,' added Tuchel. Strasbourg manager Thierry Laurey described Neymar as a 'phenomenon' in his post-match comments, but also claimed there was 'nothing malicious' in his players' actions. One or two people even believed him. 'There are moments when you have to play tough, it's as simple as that,' Laurey suggested. 'There are moments when, if you go over the limit a little bit, you have to expect that you are going to get a kick or two. I didn't ask my players to go and kick Neymar, but I understand why the players had had enough of someone who was looking to tease and taunt them a bit.' Laurey conceded that players like Neymar 'need protection' but that his players 'grafted for ninety minutes' to 'try and stop' him. 'When you protect players who respect others, there's no problem,' Laurey added 'For example, when you do a pass with your back [referring to Neymar in a match against Guingamp], when there's no reason for it, then that's mocking. I've seen plenty of PSG players other than Neymar who are very good at five-nil up, but when it's nil-nil they don't show off like that. If Neymar plays in the same way against Manchester United he'll get the same reaction. Don't be surprised.' Goals from Edinson Cavani and Angel di Maria sealed the victory over Strasbourg. Meanwhile, PSG midfielder Marco Verratti is already doubtful for the first leg of their last-sixteen Champions League tie at The Scum on 12 February after suffering an ankle injury during the nine-nil win over Guingamp on Saturday.
Monaco have extremely sacked their manager, Thierry Henry, after a mere twenty games in charge. Because, he didn't have enough 'va-va-voom,' it would seem. The Ligue Un strugglers announced on Thursday Henry had been suspended, but BBC Sport reported that was 'merely procedural' and that the France World Cup winner had already left the club. There had been speculation that Monaco were set to replace Henry with his predecessor in the role Leonardo Jardim. The 2017 French champions are currently in the relegation zone after just five wins in the twenty games under Henry, hired in October. Franck Passi, appointed as Henry's assistant on 20 December, will take training on Friday, the club said. Passi has previously had spells as caretaker manager of Marseille and Lille. Henry - a great player in his day, let it be noted, albeit someone whom this blogger has never particularly warmed to as much as he probably should have, mainly because Henry spent much of his career resembling someone who went through life with a look on his face liked he'd just smelled shit nearby - had grovellingly apologised for 'using foul language' to insult Strasbourg defender Kenny Lala during his side's five-one defeat on Saturday. The Arse's all-time leading scorer is in his first managerial role, having previously been Belgium assistant boss. He had been on the shortlist for the Aston Villains' manager's job in October before taking the job at the club where he started his playing career.
The man extremely arrested at Fulham's training ground on Monday on suspicion of actual bodily harm and criminal damage was the club's soon-to-be-former French striker Aboubakar Kamara according to reports. Neither the club nor the police have confirmed his identity, but Fulham said that the person arrested was now 'banned indefinitely from all club activities.' Kamara joined from Amiens in 2017. A Fulham statement added: 'The club is grateful for the swift attention and action by the Metropolitan Police.' It continued: 'We will refrain from further comment but stress that we will fully cooperate with any new or continuing investigation or legal proceeding in the name of providing everyone a secure and safe working environment.' Metropolitan Police said that a man in his twenties was arrested at the training ground in New Malden on Monday and taken into custody in a South London police station. Kamara, who reportedly 'had a falling out' with teammate Aleksandar Mitrovic 'during a squad yoga session,' was said to be at the club training ground 'looking to resolve his future.' Earlier this season, Fulham's new manager Claudio Ranieri said that he 'wanted to kill' the forward after Kamara missed a penalty against Huddersfield Town having earlier refused to give the ball to designated penalty-taker, Mitrovic. Kamara has made fifteen appearances in all competitions this season for Fulham, who are currently second from bottom in the Premier League.
Crystal Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey has been very charged with a breach of FA rules for making an alleged Nazi salute in a photo posted on Instagram. The Wales international was pictured with his right arm in the air in a photo posted by Palace midfielder Max Meyer, who is German. The incident took place during a meal with his team-mates. Hennessey claimed that 'any resemblance' to the gesture was 'absolutely coincidental.' Which, if you look up 'unlikely excuses' on Google, you'll find that one pretty close to the top of the list. The goalkeeper claimed that he 'waved and shouted at the person taking the picture to get on with it' and 'put my hand over my mouth to make the sound carry.' The Football Association - who do not appear to be buying Hennessey's denials in the slightest - alleges that the action breaches its rules relating to abusive, insulting or improper conduct and brings the game into disrepute. It is alleged that Hennessey's is also an 'aggravated breach' because it included reference to ethnic origin, race, religion or belief. Meyer posted the picture on his Instagram page following the FA Cup third-round win over Grimsby. In a post on Twitter, Hennessey added: 'It's been brought to my attention that frozen in a moment by the camera this looks like I am making a completely inappropriate type of salute.' He has until 31 January to respond to the charge.
New Heart of Midlothian striker David Vanecek was 'rubbish' in his side's two-one Scottish Premiership defeat by Dundee, according to manager Craig Levein. The Czech forward arrived in Scotland at the start of January, having initially agreed to sign for Hearts last July. He made his debut in Sunday's Scottish Cup win over Livingston, but was taken off after thirty four minutes against Dundee. 'I might be a little bit annoyed that he didn't turn up in better shape,' Levein said of the striker. 'I thought he was rubbish and felt he just looked as if he wasn't at the races. He wasn't playing well. He'll need to do a Hell of a lot of work to get himself to the fitness levels he needs.' Levein said Vanecek did not hold the ball up well enough and explained that he has not played since the Czech season shut down in November. Vanecek scored seven goals in sixteen games for FK Teplice in the first part of the campaign. 'He's had a break and he's joined us at our training camp looking like he's had a break,' Levein said. 'Now I know where he is and I can only find out by playing him in matches. We can set about trying to get him fitter and hopefully it won't take him too long. I was hoping that he would have had more energy than he had but obviously he's not so we need to do some work on his fitness.'
FIFA has contacted the Thailand government over the case of Bahraini footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi. The twenty five-year-old, who holds refugee status in Australia, is currently being held in a Bangkok prison on an Interpol warrant issued by Bahrain. He was sentenced in Bahrain for vandalism although he denies the charges. In a letter to Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, FIFA says the former Bahrain player is 'at serious risk of mistreatment in his home country.' The footballer fled to Australia in 2014. He was granted political asylum in 2017 and plays for Melbourne football club Pascoe Vale. In 2014, he was sentenced in absentia in Bahrain to ten years in The Slammer for allegedly vandalising a police station. He was on a holiday in Thailand when authorities detained him at a Bangkok airport on 27 November. He fears he will be tortured - and possibly killed - if he is extradited back to his home country and in an interview with the Gruniad Morning Star, said the ongoing case had left him 'terrified' and 'losing hope.' FIFA general secretary, Fatma Samoura, has contacted the Thai prime minister seeking 'a speedy resolution' to the case. 'This situation should not have arisen, in particular, since Mister Al-Araibi now lives, works and plays as a professional footballer in Australia, where he has been accorded refugee status,' she said in the letter. 'As stated publicly on several occasions, FIFA is respectfully urging the authorities of the Kingdom of Thailand to take the necessary steps to ensure that Mister Al-Araibi is allowed to return safely to Australia at the earliest possible moment, in accordance with the relevant international standards. We would like to kindly ask for a meeting with a high-level representative of your government at the earliest possible convenience. The objective of the meeting would be to discuss the situation of Mr Al-Araibi and receive first-hand information on the status of the proceedings. The meeting would be joined by representatives from FIFA and FlFPro, the global union of professional football players.' Al-Araibi has been a vocal critic of Bahraini authorities and Human Rights Watch suggests that he is also being 'targeted' because of his brother's political activism. Last year, he told HRW that he had already been tortured in Bahrain following Arab Spring protests in 2012.
Cristiano Ronaldo has cut a deal with a court in Madrid over tax evasion charges, accepting a near nineteen million Euros fine. A huge media presence met the player outside the court, after a judge refused his request to appear by video or to enter the building by car to avoid the spotlight. The deal, agreed in advance, includes a twenty three-month jail sentence. But in Spain, convicts do not usually do time for sentences under two years. The non-violent nature of Ronaldo's offence means he is reported to be 'unlikely' to spend any time at all in The Slammer, serving it on probation instead. The court appearance lasted mere minutes as Ronaldo accepted the deal offered by prosecutors. The current Juventus player, who played for the club in Italy the night before his court appearance, arrived at the provincial court with his fiancee Georgina Rodriguez. Smiling and giving a thumbs-up, he was apparently unfazed by the media presence and his forthcoming guilty plea. His lawyers had argued that, given his fame, avoiding the main entrance was needed for the player's security. Ronaldo, five-time winner of Europe's Ballon d'Or was accused of avoiding paying tax in Spain between 2010 and 2014, when he was playing for Real Madrid. Forbes lists the thirty three-year-old as the third-wealthiest athlete in the world, with estimated earnings of nearly one hundred million knicker per year. The case centres around lucrative image rights deals. Prosecutors say that the proceeds were funnelled through low-tax companies in foreign nations to avoid paying the required tax. In court, as part of his deal, Ronaldo acknowledged four incidents amounting to 5.7 million Euros owed, according to Spanish-language news agency EFE. In 2017, when the allegations first emerged, prosecutors said that it was 'a voluntary and conscious breach of his fiscal obligations in Spain.' But Ronaldo's lawyers said it was 'all down to a misunderstanding' over 'what was and was not required under Spanish law' and denied any deliberate attempt to evade tax. The deal, struck in June last year, had to be agreed with Spain's tax authorities. Ronaldo is not the only high-profile player to face the wrath of Spain's tax system. His former Real Madrid team-mate Xabi Alonso also appeared in court on Tuesday in connection with similar offences amounting to about two million Euros. Alonso was appearing before the court for the first time, facing a potential sentence of up to five years in The Pokey. Unlike Ronaldo, he has not yet struck any deal with authorities and has maintained his innocence. Mid you, so did Ronaldo and look what happened there. Shortly after Alonso's trial began, the court suspended proceedings to consider whether it was 'competent' to hear the case, or if it should be referred to another criminal court, EFE reports. The longer sentence prosecutors are seeking means that Alonso could, unlike Ronaldo, face actual jail time. There are several other examples of footballers facing Spain's courts in recent years. Barcelona star Lionel Messi avoided a jail sentence for a similar scheme involving image rights, paying several million in 'a corrective payment' in back taxes and fines; Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior was at the centre of a row when Barcelona was fined millions after being charged with tax fraud over Neymar's signing - but avoided admitting the offence and Real Madrid's Marcelo Vieira admitted to tax fraud and accepted a four-month suspended jail sentence over his use of foreign firms to handle almost half-a-million Euros in earnings. The recent crackdown on high-profile footballers follows the removal of a tax exemption in 2010. Known as 'The Beckham Law,' it had allowed footballers to curb their taxes. Ronaldo also faces another ongoing legal battle: the football superstar is accused of rape in Las Vegas in 2009, a charge which he denies.
Eight-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt has declared his 'sports life over,' frustrated in his bid to begin a post-athletics career in football. The Jamaican spent two months training with Australian side Central Coast Mariners, but left in November after the club failed to find financial backing for a professional deal. 'It was fun while it lasted,' he said. 'I don't want to say it wasn't dealt with properly, but I think we went about it not the way we should.' But he added: 'You live and you learn. It was a good experience - I really enjoyed just being in a team.' In October 2018, Bolt scored two goals on his first start for the Mariners in a friendly against Macarthur South West, celebrating with his trademark lightning bolt pose. The A-League side were not the only team interested in signing Bolt - he turned down an offer from Maltese club Valletta, reportedly because the club could not meet his wage demands. He had also spent time training with Norwegian team Stromsgodset and German giants Borussia Dortmund. Bolt, who retired from athletics in 2017, has said his focus now lies with his various commercial endeavours. 'I'm now moving into different businesses, I have a lot of things in the pipeline, so as I say, I'm just dabbling in everything and trying to be a business man now.'
A newly discovered letter has revealed that the The Be-Atles (a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might've heard of them) 1968 single 'Hey Jude'/'Revolution', their first release on their own Apple Records, caused some unexpected issues in the minds of American record executives. As the labels logo allegedly 'looked like a vagina.' The letter written by a - nameless - Capitol Records executive and addressed to Apple's Ron Kass, read: 'Here's a wild and unanticipated problem to brighten up your day. I just received a call from a very large and influential rack jobber in the Western United States. He opened the conversation by saying, "Are you guys serious? Do you know what you're doing? Do you really intend to sell products bearing the new Apple label?" He then stated that he felt the new Apple label was "completely pornographic" and actually depicted a vagina.' The letter adds that the 'graphic similarity' was 'noticed by all of his key employees. [He] doubted that many of his chain store customers would even be willing to stock and display products containing the label.' The record, of course, was released with its Apple label intact and susequently became one of The Be-Atles' biggest selling in the US, reaching number one and staying there for a then-record eight weeks. So, it seems that most US record buyers didn't spot the minge. Or did, but didn't particularly care.
'A portrait of db' is a curious project. The 'art car' has been reportedly designed 'as an expression of David Bowie and his music' and created 'as a tribute to the singer-songwriter following his death in 2016.' It has taken some twenty one years to realise, with a full-scale 3D model debuting at Exposition Concept Car Paris this month. Although, to be fair, it doesn't look all that much like the late Grand Dame.
A stone circle thought to be thousands of years old has turned out to be a lot more modern after a former farm owner admitted building it in the 1990s. The 'recumbent stone circle' in the parish of Leochel-Cushnie in Aberdeenshire, was reported by the site's current farm and was 'considered unusual' for its small diameter and relatively small stones. Historic Environment Scotland and Aberdeenshire council's archaeology service celebrated it as an authentic discovery and continued their research until being contacted by the former owner who said they had built it - as a replica - in the mid-1990s. Neil Ackerman, the historic environment record assistant at Aberdeenshire council, said: 'It is obviously disappointing to learn of this development, but it also adds an interesting element to its story. That it so closely copies a regional monument type shows the local knowledge, appreciation and engagement with the archaeology of the region by the local community. I hope the stones continue to be used and enjoyed. While not ancient, it is still in a fantastic location and makes for a great feature in the landscape.' Recumbent stone circles often date back three-and-a-half to four-and-a-half thousand years and are unique to the North-East of Scotland. Ackerman said: 'These types of monument are notoriously difficult to date. For this reason we include any modern replicas of ancient monuments in our records in case they are later misidentified.' He added: 'We always welcome reports of any new, modern reconstructions of ancient monuments, especially those built with the skill of this stone circle and that reference existing monument types.'
Specimens discovered in South Africa ten years ago are from a long-sought missing link in our knowledge of human evolution, scientists have concluded in a new research study. The partly fossilised two-million-year-old bones of an adult female and a juvenile male were found in 2008 in a cavern in Malapa near Johannesburg. Researchers discovered that the Australopithecus sediba species is 'closely related' to the Homo genus and fills a key gap in the chain of human evolution between early humans and our more apelike ancestors. The fossils are distinctive yet similar to species along the same timeline, according to researchers. Scientists said they believe Australopithecus sediba was the bridge between the apelike Australopithecus Africanus and remnants of Homo habilis, which used tools one-and-a-half million to two million years ago. All three species 'spent significant time climbing in trees, perhaps for foraging and protection from predators,' according to the study in the journal PaleoAnthropology. Australopithecus sediba's hands had grasping capabilities more advanced than those of Homo habilis, which suggests that the species may also have used tools. 'This larger picture sheds light on the lifeways of Australopithecus sediba and, also, on a major transition in hominin evolution,' wrote lead researcher Scott Williams of New York University. The discovery has been the subject of a contentious debate. Some scientists said that they believe the specimens are not from a new species, while others said they thought the bones may be examples of two new species. The remains of Australopithecus sediba were found by a nine-year-old boy named Matthew who stopped to look at a rock he had tripped on while walking his dog. 'Imagine for a moment that Matthew stumbled over the rock and continued following his dog without noticing the fossil,' the scientists wrote in their study. 'If those events had occurred instead, out science would not know about Australopithecus sediba, but those fossils would still be there, still encased in calcified clastic sediments, still waiting to be discovered.'
The 'new abnormal' the world is facing from risks like nuclear war and climate change has led the symbolic Doomsday Clock to be frozen at the closest it has ever been to midnight. The clock, created by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 1947, intends to warn of impending disasters. Its 2019 setting was announced on Thursday - staying in the same perilous position it was set at last year. The BAS has warned that we are 'normalising a very dangerous world.' No shit? Have you seen the idiots currently occupying The White House, The Kremlin and Downing Street? It marks only the third year that the clock has been so close to midnight - first reaching the position in 1953 after the US and the Soviet Union tested highly destructive hydrogen bombs. In Thursday's announcement in Washington, representatives from the Bulletin said that the clock's maintained position was 'bad news indeed. Though unchanged from 2018, this setting should be taken not as a sign of stability but as a stark warning to leaders and citizens around the world,' BAS President and CEO, Rachel Bronson, said. 'This new abnormal is simply too volatile and too dangerous to accept,' Bronson warned at the unveiling. Former California governor Jerry Brown, who serves as BAS executive chair, also cautioned: 'We're playing Russian roulette with humanity.' In the announcement, the bulletin did acknowledge improvements in US-North Korean relations, but also criticised developments like increased carbon emissions from some nations and continued diplomatic schisms across the world. The group cites nuclear weapons and climate change as the two 'major ongoing threats' to mankind - and warned their risks were being 'exacerbated' by the 'increased use of information warfare to undermine democracy around the world.' Herb Lin, a senior research scholar for cyber policy and security from Stanford University, spoke about the particular risks from 'fake news' at Thursday's announcement. 'It's a terrible world in which rage and fantasy replace truth,' he cautioned. When it debuted the clock's hand stood at seven minutes to midnight and it has been reset twenty three times since. According to the Bulletin, its design was conceived by the artist Martyl Langsdorf. She wanted to illustrate impassioned observations she had heard from scientists about the consequences of the world's first atomic weapons, which they helped develop. Today, the board - made up of physicists and environmental scientists from around the world - decides whether to adjust the clock in consultation with the group's Board of Sponsors, which include Nobel laureates.
A Taiwanese woman who described herself as 'the Bikini Hiker' has died from suspected hypothermia, after a fall in Nantou County. Gigi Wu had fourteen thousand social media followers and was known for scaling mountains while wearing bikinis. Which, when you think about it, is a bit of an effing stupid thing to do since, you know, it can get quite cold when you're up the top of a mountain. The thirty six-year-old frequently posted photographs of herself at peaks while dressed only in swimwear. Wu entered Taiwan's Nantou County on 11 January and intended to hike the Batongguan Historic Trail in Yushan National Park until 24 January. But the hiker seemingly ran into peril when she fell down a thirty metre gorge and called for assistance on her satellite phone on Saturday. She indicated that she was 'in distress' and 'unable to move' after the fall but poor weather conditions hindered her rescue, according to the Chinese language website Apple Daily. A rescue team were unable to use their helicopter to come to her assistance and set out on foot instead. The mountaineer was found dead by rescuers on Monday, forty hours after her distress call.
An Australian woman 'jumped off her seat' after being bitten on the arse by a snake whilst sitting on a lavatory, a reptile handler said. Well, you would, wouldn't you? Helen Richards received the 'non-venomous strike in the dark' at a relative's house in Brisbane on Tuesday. She received 'minor puncture wounds' from the one-and-a-half metre long carpet python. Handler Jasmine Zeleny, who retrieved the reptile, said that it was 'common' to find snakes 'seeking water' in lavatories during hot weather. Richards told local media she had 'felt a sharp tap. I jumped up with my pants down and turned around to see what looked like a longneck turtle receding back into the bowl,' she told the Courier Mail newspaper. Zeleny said Richards had treated the minor bite marks with an antiseptic, describing carpet pythons as 'relatively harmless. Unfortunately, the snake's preferred exit point was blocked after being spooked by Helen sitting down and it lashed out in fear,' Zeleny told the BBC. 'By the time I got there, she had trapped the snake and calmed down. Helen treated the whole situation like a champion.' Carpet pythons are a common species along the East coast of Australia. They are not venomous but tetanus shots are recommended for bites. Australia has experienced a fortnight of extreme heat that has broken dozens of records across the nation. Several wildlife species have suffered, with reports of mass deaths of horses, native bats and fish.
A twenty one-year-old Australian tradesman has been bitten by a venomous spider on the penis for a second time. The man was using a portable toilet on a Sydney building site on Tuesday, when he suffered a repeat of the incident five months ago. Jordan, who preferred not to reveal his surname (presumably, in case other spiders were reading and fancied getting in on this knob-biting malarkey), said that he was bitten on 'pretty much the same spot' by the spider. 'I'm the most unlucky guy in the country at the moment,' he whinged to the BBC. 'I was sitting on the toilet doing my business and just felt the sting that I felt the first time. I was like "I can't believe it's happened again." I looked down and I've seen a few little legs come from around the rim.' He said that being bitten the first time had made him 'wary' of using portable toilets. But, seemingly, not wary enough. 'After the first time it happened I didn't really want to use one again,' he said. 'Toilets got cleaned that day and I thought it was my opportunity to go use one. Had a look under both seats and then I sat down did my business. Next thing you know, I'm bent over in pain.' The tradesman said that he was 'not sure' what type of spider bit him this time. One of his colleagues took him from the worksite in Sydney to Blacktown Hospital - although many of his workmates were 'quick to see the lighter side of the situation.' 'They got worried the first time,' he said. 'This time they were making jokes before I was getting in the car.' The hospital declined to discuss the matter, citing patient privacy. Jordan was released from hospital and said he expected to return to work soon but was unlikely to be using the on-site toilet again. 'I think I'll be holding on for dear life to be honest,' he said. Several species of Australian spider are, of course, very dangerous indeed. The redback spider, closely related to the black widow, is distinguished by a long red stripe on its abdomen. Its bite causes severe pain, sweating and nausea. Although there are recorded cases of deaths from redback bites, none have occurred since the development of an antivenom in 1956.
A man arrested by Illinois police for stealing what turned out to be his own car has come to an out-of-court settlement with a Chicago suburb. Northwestern University PhD student Lawrence Crosby was twenty five when the incident occurred in 2015. A woman - who clearly didn't have anything more worthwhile to do with her time - called the police when she saw him trying to fix a loose part on his car and 'thought he - wrongly - was a thief.' Evanston City Council will vote on the final settlement next week but a lawyer said it would be an eye-wateringly life-changing one million two hundred and fifty thousand bucks. Timothy Touhy, the lawyer representing Doctor Crosby, revealed the sum to the Chicago Tribune newspaper. Crosby, who is - of course - African American, told CBS Chicago that he hoped the incident would raise awareness of unconscious racial stereotyping. Which would be nice but, sadly, its highly unlikely. A lawyer for the city was quoted by ABC News as saying: 'The settlement is a compromise of disputed claims and the parties have not admitted any liability or the validity of any defence in the litigation.' According to Touhy, his client was trying to repair a part of loose moulding on his car when a woman saw him and believed he was trying to steal it. She followed him as he drove from his flat to the university and called police. The student got out of the car arms raised when asked to by officers, but was allegedly tackled when he did not immediately lie on the ground as ordered. He was reportedly struck at least ten times. A dash camera filmed the arrest. Officers then determined that he was the owner of the car but still detained him for disobeying police and resisting arrest. And, because they didn't want to look stupid for having arrested someone for stealing their own car. Their use of force was 'justified,' an Evanston Police spokesman said, as they 'thought it was a case of car theft.' But, it wasn't. Crosby was later acquitted of all charges and brought a lawsuit for damages against the city council and the police officers involved.
A builder drove a digger through the doors of a new hotel and repeatedly smashed into the building, leaving a scene of devastation. The driver reportedly 'went on the rampage' at the Travelodge in Liverpool, which is currently under construction, crashing through the doors, reception desk and smashing into windows. A witness, ceiling fixer Samuel White, claimed that the man was 'involved in a pay dispute' over six hundred quid with contractors.
Three watercolour paintings attributed to the former Nazi leader and Godawful genocidal shithead Adolf Hitler (who only had one) have been very seized by German police. The works were up for sale at the Kloss auction house in Berlin, but were taken on suspicions of being forgeries, police said. The separate works depict a mountain scene, a river and a distant figure sitting beneath a tree. The BBC reported that the raid took place at about 10.30am local time 'following a tip off.' Berlin police tweeted that they had 'opened an enquiry' into 'attempted fraud' and 'falsification of documents.' The starting price for each painting was four thousand dollars, according to AFP news agency. All of the watercolours carried a seal of authenticity 'given by an expert.' Not a very good expert, seemingly. A police spokeswoman, Patricia Brämer, told the BBC that investigators were 'looking into whether their authenticity' had, like the paintings, been 'faked.' No arrests have been made at this time. The paintings' elderly sellers reportedly did not wish to be identified. 'If you walk down the Seine and see one hundred artists, eighty [of them] will be better than this,' Heinz-Joachim Maeder, a spokesperson for the Kloss auction house in Berlin, had earlier told Reuters. 'The value of these objects and the media interest is because of the name at the bottom,' he added. Strong demand had been expected from online bidders in the UK, Scandinavia, the US and Russia. Cos, let's face it there are some bloody weirdos out there. Prior to World War One, in which he fought with a certain degree of distinction, Hitler had lived in Vienna trying to become an artist, drawing postcards and paintings. He was twice rejected from the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. In his subsequent book Mein Kampf, he claimed to have produced as many as three paintings a day. In Germany, it is legal to sell paintings by Hitler so long as they do not contain Nazi symbols. Whilst in power, Hitler allegedly ordered the collection and destruction of as many of his artworks as he could get his hands on, but several hundred are known to still exist. Many are held by the US Army, which confiscated them at the end of World War II. The collection has never been exhibited. Others are held in the private collections of individuals and institutions. One of the largest is housed at the International Museum of World War II in the US. In 2014, a watercolour of a registry office in Munich sold for one hundred and thirty thousand Euros at an auction in Nuremberg, southern Germany. The picture came with a bill of sale and a signed letter by the Nazi military commander Albert Bormann. Others have been auctioned for lower amounts. Mullock's of Shropshire sold a collection of thirteen artworks in 2009 for one hundred and thirty thousand Euros. All were signed A Hitler.
Three American men have been charged with aiding a hoaxer whose 'prank'subsequently led to a fatal shooting. The US Department of Justice claims that the three men 'conspired' with another, Tyler Barriss, to make calls about 'fake incidents' which prompted armed police to respond. Barriss is currently facing twenty years in The Slammer for one 'swatting' call that ended in the death of a man named Andrew Finch. Schools, police departments and others were targeted with such 'fake calls.' The three men charged with conspiracy and 'conveying false information concerning the use of an explosive device' are: Neal Patel, of Illinois, Tyler Stewart of Florida and Logan Patten of Missouri. Patel and Stewart have been arrested and charged, said the DoJ in a statement. It added that Patten had agreed to give himself up to police in Los Angeles. Information about the swatting incidents released by the DoJ revealed that the three are accused of 'being in contact' with Barriss for a series of hoax calls separate to the one in late 2017 which ended in Finch's death. The other incidents allegedly involved bomb threats made to schools, calls about fake hostage situations involving armed attackers and paying Barriss to prompt police to attend fictitious emergencies.
A dangerous driver who fled to Dubai has been extremely jailed after being extradited back to Britain. Adam Ali, who left the UK in January 2017, was described as 'taunting' police by using his Instagram account to pose with flash cars and watches. Ali was convicted in his absence later that year of ammunition possession and a variety of motoring offences. He has been given ten months in The Pokey for fleeing while on bail, to serve on top of his original three-year jail sentence. Metropolitan Police officers originally went to Ali's house to investigate reports of dangerous driving. The force said that it found self-filmed video of Ali speeding on roads in South Essex while he had one foot resting on the dashboard. But, after being bailed by a court, Ali fled to the United Arab Emirates and cocked a snoot at the fuzz from a safe distance. A police spokesman said Ali, of Thornwood near Harlow, remained abroad and 'appeared to lead a very lavish and luxurious lifestyle' in Dubai, from where he 'taunted police via social media.' The Met said he regularly posted pictures of himself on his Instagram account posing with sports cars and expensive watches. However, this came to an end after Ali visited the US in 2018 and, on his return to Dubai, he was very arrested at the airport by the Emirati authorities. He was extradited back to the UK on 16 January and sentenced on Tuesday at Southwark Crown Court, for fleeing while on bail and failing to surrender to the court. Ian Cruxton, from the UK's National Crime Agency, said: 'Ali fled justice to live a lavish lifestyle somewhere he thought his crimes wouldn't catch up with him.'
A rare red panda is missing from Belfast zoo. Police said that it went missing on Sunday and is 'believed to be currently taking in the sights of beautiful Glengormley.' They have called for people to be on the look out for the animal which is slightly larger than a domestic cat and an endangered species. 'Our curious friend has not yet learned the green cross code, so if motorists could also be vigilant,' police said. Red pandas are nocturnal and are generally found in wooded areas. While they are not aggressive by nature, they may be defensive when cornered and could probably rip a person's face off if they get too close or say the wrong thing. The animal is native to the Himalayas in Bhutan, Southern China, Pakistan, India, Laos, Nepal and Burma. It is also known as the lesser panda or firefox. Red pandas spend most of their time in the trees - their sharp claws make them agile climbers and they use their long, striped tails for balance.
A thirty eight-year-old woman was extremely arrested by deputies after she dropped her pants, blocked traffic and exposed herself at a Florida Waffle House. According to media reports, Escambia County Sheriff's Office deputies responded to The Waffle House located on Pensacola Boulevard 'in reference to a Baker Act.' A Waffle House employee stated in the report, when he came to work on Monday, Freedom Ryder Zobrist was trespassing on the property and, due to her behaviour, she was asked to leave the premises. According to the report, the employee contacted police after Zobrist continued to cause problems and she eventually ran from the location leaving all her belongings behind. The employee stated that he did not want to throw Zobrist belongings away, therefore, he decided to move them to the back of the establishment so Zobrist could retrieve them 'without interrupting anyone.' Zobrist later returned to The Waffle House and was sitting at the back door, says the report. The employee told deputies he asked Zobrist to leave the property and she became verbally abusive, cussing and threatened him. The report says Zobrist then advised the employee she was going to retrieve a firearm and 'shoot him in the face' along with everyone else in the store. Zobrist then walked to the middle of the parking lot, pulled down her pants 'exposing her sexual organs' and 'started dancing around in the parking lot.' The report revealed that Zobrist then approached The Waffle House employee whilst her keks were still down and attempted to grab the man's genitals. Which, you know, you normally have to pay good money for that kind of thing. When the employee 'attempted to prevent Zobrist from grabbing his genitals,' the report states, Zobrist 'lean forward and licked the victim on both sides of his face.' Zobrist was, again, asked to leave the premises but, instead, poked the employee in his chest with her finger. A witness stated in the report, while he was in his vehicle trying to leave the parking lot, Zobrist blocked him in and 'started dancing naked in front of his vehicle.' ECSO deputies arrived and arrested Zobrist for lewd and indecent exposure of sexual organs, disorderly conduct, battery and assault and threw her naked ass in The Slammer.
An Ohio mother convicted of allowing her two-year-old daughter to freeze to death has, reportedly, 'unleashed [an] F-bomb barrage during sentencing.' After judge Alison McCarty ordered Tierra Williams to spend the next eighteen months behind bars, Williams 'began screaming up a storm while being handcuffed.' 'That is so fucked up!' Williams reportedly shouted. Her mother, Angela Williams, responded from the gallery, 'Stop, Tierra!' 'I'm so fuckin' mad!' yelled the convicted woman whilst being led out of the courtroom, reported the Akron Beacon Journal. Her boyfriend, Dariaun Parker, was sentenced to two years in prison after pleading very guilty to child endangerment charges last November. Williams had left daughter, Wynter Parker, with the girl's father when she went out 2 February 2108. But, when she returned home two hours later, she found the little girl 'frozen' on the porch, said authorities. Despite being rushed to a nearby hospital, Wynter - who had not been wearing warm clothing or a coat - died from severe hypothermia. Prosecutors asserted that the father had 'lost track of Wynter' while Tierra Williams had been out with their four-year-old son. A neighbour of the couple claimed that she had taken Williams' children home on several occasions. 'It's just a very sad situation,' said Christal Lucas. 'It literally broke my heart.'
A child sitting in the backseat of a four-door sedan accidentally shot his mother with a shotgun on Wednesday, critically injuring her as she sat in the driver's seat. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office said it responded to the shooting in Norwalk, California, regarding 'a rescue responding, assault with a deadly weapon, gunshot victim.' The shooting happened just yards from a preschool though it is not known if any of the children were attendees. Upon their arrival, deputies found the mother suffering from an apparent gunshot wound to the torso. She was taken to a local hospital where her condition was upgraded to fair and, thankfully, she is expected to survive. There were three children in the backseat and another woman and young child in the front passenger seat who were not injured, police said. The sheriff's office said preliminary information showed the woman's three children were in the back seat of the car when one of the children picked up an unsecured shotgun and shot her through the back of the seat. The weapon was recovered. No arrests have been made. Yet. Although, this is America so one imagines, it's only a matter of time.
A woman from Exeter has announced plans to marry her own duvet. Pascale Sellick - who is, obviously, not mental or anything even remotely like it - has invited the public to witness her wedding to her 'comforting companion.' For the ceremony, she will forgo the traditional bridal gown, opting instead for bedtime attire: slippers paired with a nightie and dressing gown. The dress code is also extended to guests, who are 'encouraged' to 'bring hot water bottles if it's cold.' Speaking of her decision, Pascale told SWNS: 'My duvet is the longest, strongest, most intimate and reliable relationship that I have ever had. That's because it has always been there for me and gives me great hugs. I love my duvet so much I would like to invite people to witness my union with the most constant, comforting companion in my life. There will be music and a ceremony, laughs and entertainment.' Pascale is by no means the first person to wed an inanimate object. Last November, a man married a hologram during 'an intimate ceremony' in Tokyo.
An English woman with the same name as an American footballer who cost his team the AFC championship has had angry fans abusing her. Dee Ford, from Gillingham, woke up to hundreds of Twitter notifications on Monday morning, with many Kansas City Chiefs fans blaming her for ruining their year. Dee had been asleep so this was a fairly surprising accusation. She quickly discovered that Dee Ford, the Chiefs' veteran linebacker, gave away a penalty after being offside during a critical late play in the AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots. The penalty overturned an interception which would have seen the Chiefs win the match and progress to the Superbowl for the first time since 1969. 'The phone was going off literally nonstop,' Ford (no, the other one) told the Kansas City Star. 'Some of the things [said] were quite vicious. The things they're saying, he doesn't deserve it.' Ford has become used to being on the receiving end of such anger from fans, having first experienced it five years ago when the other Ford was playing for Auburn University in Alabama, when she had never watched an American Football game. Ford - the footballer - has his own Twitter account but (sensibly) has never tweeted, so Ford (the Gillingahm one) tends to get most of the abuse which would, under normal circumstances, be directed towards her large, rugby-ball throwing namesake. She has taken it in her stride, however,joking along with fans and using her charm to make them realise the offensive tweets are unnecessary. And, misdirected. 'I try to be funny with it,' she said.
An alleged bank robber has been identified and arrested on Friday due to him using a dockless e-scooter as a getaway vehicle, according to Austin police. Luca Mangiarano was extremely charged with robbery after allegedly robbing the BBVA Compass Bank. According to a bank employee, Mangiarano entered the bank, walked up to her station and handed her a note. The note was left at the scene and was taken into evidence. It read: 'This is a robbery. Please give me all your one hundreds and fifties in an envelope and everything will be okay.' Well, in his defence, at least he said 'please.' The victim told officers that she was 'afraid of what Mangiarano might do,' so she complied with his - surprisingly polite - request and gave him all the money. Another bank employee, who was unaware of the robbery at the time, told investigators that he saw who he believed to be the suspect leaving the bank and get onto a dockless e-scooter. A surveillance video from a nearby business showed a man matching Mangiarano's description riding away from the bank at speed. Well, as much speed and a e-scooter can manage, anyway. Through the surveillance video, officers were able to identify the scooter being used as a Jump-by-Uber scooter. APD sent a subpoena to Uber requesting the account information and were able to identify Mangiarano via his phone number and e-mail address. Further investigation into Mangiarano's Facebook account led officers to believe he was the man behind the robbery. Extremely arrested for robbery, Mangiarano's ass is currently residing in The Joint.
A sixty one-year-old man - who subsequently tested positive for both meth and marijuana - has been charged with manslaughter after shooting and killing a woman whom 'he mistook for a deer' last year. According to media reports Dale Williams told officers he 'might have drank a beer' before the incident occurred.
A stewardess has 'recounted the humiliating moment' when a thirty one stone passenger 'forced her to wipe his bottom' as he 'moaned in pleasure.' Mind you, this according to the Metro so it's probably a load of old bollocks. The incident was, allegedly, 'so upsetting' for the female flight attendant, named only as Kuo in the report, that she later spoke at a press conference to beg her employer EVA Air to update an existing rule meaning cabin crew must be female. According to Kuo, the unnamed man asked the cabin crew to pull down his pants so he could relieve himself and then, after having a nice satisfying dump - 'demanded' that they wipe (and then re-wipe) his ringpiece 'when their first attempts were not satisfactory.' 'I told him we couldn't help him, but he started yelling. He told me to go in [to the bathroom] immediately and threatened to relieve himself on the floor,' Kuo told the press conference. 'As the passenger's genitals were now exposed, one of my colleagues brought a blanket, which I used to cover his modesty. But he, very angrily, slapped my hand away, saying he didn't want it and only wanted me to remove his underwear so he could use the toilet,' Kuo continued. Flight attendants stayed with the man in the bathroom because they did not want to leave him trapped, said Kuo. But, they 'faced further humiliation' when the man called out to them to wipe all The Klingons out of his gussett. Kuo's chief attendant 'reluctantly agreed' to this, after putting on three pairs of latex gloves, as Kuo 'steadied the passenger,' but 'their disgust became humiliation when the passenger started "moaning in pleasure." He said: "Oh, mmm, deeper, deeper" and then accused my chief attendant of not properly cleaning his backside, requesting that she do it again,' Kuo claimed. She said that the chief flight attendant was 'forced to re-wipe the man three times' before the passenger said: 'You can pull my pants back up now.' The unnamed chap was travelling from Los Angeles to Taiwan and boarded the flight on a wheelchair, Focus Taiwan reported. He requested to be given three seats in economy class due to his enormous size, Kou said, which he was given because the plane was not full. The passenger also demanded that he use the business class bathroom because he could not fit in the economy cubicle and claimed a hand injury prevented him from undressing or wiping himself after he had squirted one out. EVA Air has said in a statement that staff are 'not obliged to comply' with demands from passengers, 'even those in need of special assistance.' The Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union, which is representing Kuo, have argued that the problem is 'systemic' and is 'the product of service industry culture' which allegedly 'frowns upon workers who do not meet every customer's request.' In the wake of the incident, the Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union has suggested that the airline either ban fat customers like the man or begin hiring male staff. Negotiations are expected to continue in the upcoming days.
A Wisconsin man was taken into custody in the Dane County Jail after accusing his wife of damaging his action figures and, as a consequence, taking an axe to their home, according to the Madison Police Chief Mike Koval's blog. The call came to police in the West side of Madison relating to 'a domestic disturbance' between a forty six-year-old woman and her thirty four-year-old husband. The husband called nine-one-one on himself after using a log-splitting axe to destroy a TV, the TV stand, a laptop computer and 'several other items' in the house. The man then went outside and smashed the family car, chopped off both side mirrors and then struck the windshield so hard that the axe got stuck there. He claimed that he had drank too much and overreacted after he thought his wife had damaged some of his prized property, which were action figures. No shit? When officers arrived, they found the axe in the windshield of the car. Damages were estimated to be about five thousand bucks. Officers took the suspect into custody, arrested him for domestic-related charges of disorderly conduct and felony damage to property and was taken to The Big House for his naughty ways.
Michael Dumphrey, of St Augustine in Florida, admitted himself to an emergency room citing 'concerns' regarding his genitalia. Upon further questioning, he revealed that the rash, the boils and his 'strange discharges' followed his use of the 'God Snake Oil,' an unregulated product which promises - without any actual scientific evidence - to 'add inches' to the size of one's Little Chap overnight. God Snake Oil is, dear blog readers will be unsurprised to know, 'controversial.' Despite not being regulated by the FDA, Americans can purchase the product online or through associates of the GSO peer-to-peer marketing program. There are no scientific studies proving the effectiveness of GSO, but it continues to sell in fairly large quantities because of 'countless positive reviews.' Dumphrey was treated with antibiotics and 'a topical cream' and instructed to cease and desist use of the product. After two weeks, Dumphrey's penis had 'returned to normal,' according to reports. When asked what advice he would give to other consumers considering the product, Dumphrey had this to say; 'I can't tell 'em not to. Despite the side effects, it was definitely effective. I can't believe the increase in length and girth.' Dumphrey is the first person to report horrifyingly plague-like side effects, but the product is unregulated and 'could be dangerous.' 'Just be careful what you do with your dick. You only get one,' he said.
A twenty eight-year-old man who invited a nine-year-old girl and her family to live with him and then recorded himself spanking her on the bare buttocks was extremely sentenced to seventeen years in prison on Monday. It was the latest in Lucas Orlin Ebert's series of convictions for a string of crimes which included posing as an OHSU doctor and writing bad cheques. The girl reported that Ebert also kissed her on the lips, pressed his body up against her from behind and tried to force his way into the bathroom whilst she was showering, according to a probable cause affidavit. The girl, her siblings and her mother moved in with Ebert after the girl's father was sentenced to thirty days in the county jail in May 2017, investigators say. The girl's mother told police that Ebert had met and 'become best friends with' the girl's father several months earlier, was 'an uncle-like presence' in the girl's life and 'seemed to have endless finances' to help the family out. Ebert's defence attorney, Drake Durham, said that state law gave the prosecution 'too much leverage' to negotiate a hefty sentence. The law requires a mandatory minimum twenty five years in prison for Ebert's two videos of the spankings, Durham said. That act is defined under state law as 'using a child in a display of sexually explicit conduct' - essentially, child pornography because of the nudity involved. 'Seventeen years is pretty harsh for the conduct,' Durham argued. 'People who killed other people serve sometimes less than that. Strangers who rape and hold knives and guns to people's throats sometimes get less than seventeen years. So seventeen years for spanking a girl's bottom seems completely unjustified.' But, Durham said that the sentence is eight years shorter than the sentence which his client could have faced, so Ebert agreed to the plea deal. Brent Weisberg, a spokesman for the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office, said his office believes that Ebert is a very naughty man and that his sentence is 'appropriate' and 'holds him accountable for his crimes' against the child, which include 'invading her privacy, touching multiple intimate parts of her body and causing her to have contact with his genitals for the purpose of arousing and gratifying his sexual desires.' Ebert pleaded very guilty to one count of using a child in a display of sexually explicit conduct, four counts of first-degree sexual abuse and one count of second-degree invasion of personal privacy. In a second case, Ebert also pleaded extremely guilty to first-degree aggravated theft and other crimes for running financial scams that included conning three people into paying him large amounts of cash for work promised though his unlicensed construction business. He failed to do the work. Ebert must pay back sixty thousand dollars to three people, including a senior citizen whom he called more than eighteen hundred times while in jail over eleven months.
A woman was extremely arrested after she was reportedly caught trying to 'sneak a hand grenade' into the Pakistani consulate in the Northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif on Sunday, the Foreign Office said in a statement. According to the press release, the Afghan woman had attempted to carry the grenade into the Pakistan Consulate General in her bag. She was very arrested by the police and is currently 'under investigation,' being carried out to determine who was behind the 'failed attack.' The consulate was closed following the incident, the FO spokesperson said. 'The Embassy of Pakistan in Kabul has urged the Afghan Foreign Office to provide foolproof security to its Consulate ... and to share the findings of its investigation at the earliest.'
A family-run chip shop is selling what they claim to be 'the world's spiciest fish and chips.' And, apparently, it is so red-hot that customers need to sign a waiver before eating it. The 'fiery fillet of fish' is coated in a batter made from ten heat-packed ingredients and then doused in chillies and hot sauce. The spicy invention is the brainchild of father and son team Nick and David Miller, owners of Millers Fish and Chips in Haxby, outside York. 'It's important to offer something a bit different now and again. We've ended up with a battered fillet which tastes incredible but is ridiculously spicy,' said Nick. 'We've already tried it out with a few customers who said they were lovers of spicy food and they were blown away by the heat.'
A Utah woman was arrested earlier this month for allegedly torturing and killing the family cat in front of her children in September. Ariane Christine Borg was arrested with three counts of child abuse and one count of torturing a companion animal. According to a probable cause statement, Unified Police officers were called to a residence in Holladay where Borg's son and daughter were 'found crying' in September 2018. The children told a responding officer that Borg 'beat' the family cat 'over and over again' and snapped its neck in front of them. The responding officer arranged the children to be taken away from the home when she walked throughout the home to further investigate. When the officer arrived in the yard, she found the dead cat and Borg covered in blood. The officer also found multiple broken items and blood throughout the home. The probable cause statement also records that Borg had what were later determined to be 'self-inflicted stab wounds' on her abdomen and wrists. In November 2018, a detective from Unified Police spoke with Borg's daughter at the Children's Justice Centre, where she told the detective that her mother had 'goes crazy nearly every night' and her mother was 'going insane' during the September incident. According to the statement, Borg's daughter also told the detective that she heard the cat meowing and saw her mother hold the cat by its legs, pounding it repeatedly on a table. The daughter tried to save the cat, but Borg bit her daughter on the arm before snapping the cat's neck. The statement added that a therapist has been working with the daughter to help her cope with acute stress disorder, which she was diagnosed with after experiencing Borg's traumatic incident 'and other events in the past.'
A vegan garlic bread has been taken off the shelves at Sainsbury's as it reportedly 'had traces of cheese' and 'could kill people.' The latter being, on could suggest, the more serious of the two alleged breaches of what it says on the label. Customers with an allergy to milk and dairy who bought the Deliciously Free From Garlic Pizza Bread are being warned not to eat it.
A Iowa woman was arrested on 13 January after police say she inappropriately called nine-one-one and then, later, assaulted a Sigourney Police Officer. Shelby Lynn Clubb was taken into custody at her residence after officers were dispatched in reference to five nine-one-one calls in which nobody was on the line. 'The defendant did not communicate with Keokuk County nine-one-one staff during any of the times that she called,' wrote Officer Richard Fortney in the criminal complaint. He goes on to say that after officers arrived, they found Clubb and discovered 'there to be no emergency.' Officers also believed that Clubb was intoxicated. No shit? 'The defendant was actively consuming an alcoholic beverage and appeared to be intoxicated. The defendant denied calling nine-one-one, but the phone that she had in her possession matched the phone number that was dialling,' Fortney added. Clubb was arrested and transported to the Keokuk County Jail. According to a second criminal complaint, during the booking process, Clubb told Fortney that she was going to 'do something stupid.' At that time, the complaint alleges, Clubb picked up Fortney's laptop and threw it at him. 'The laptop missed your affiant, but [it] struck the Keokuk County Sheriff Office's datamaster unit, desk top screen, and wireless keyboard,' Fortney added.
Police say that a Connecticut woman charged with driving under the influence was, in fact, drunk on vanilla extract, which contains a significant amount of alcohol. Hearst Connecticut Media reported that New Canaan police found Stefanie Warner-Grise sitting in a car at an intersection 'with her eyes closed.' That's illegal in Connecticut, apparently. Officers claimed that they found 'several bottles' of pure vanilla extract inside her vehicle. The force said that 'an odour of vanilla' was detected on the woman's breath, her speech was slurred and she was unable to answer basic questions. She was subsequently arrested after failing sobriety tests and later charged.
Hugh McIlvanney, whose prose and insight lit up the Observer's sports pages for three decades and brought him a string of journalism awards, has been hailed as 'a giant of journalism' after his death at the age of eighty four. McIlvanney, who also worked for the Sunday Times for twenty three years before retiring in 2016, had a ringside seat for many of the greatest sporting events of the Twentieth Century including The Rumble in the Jungle in 1974, The Trilla in Manilla a year later and England's World Cup triumph at Wembley in 1966. But being there was one thing; continually captivating his readers quite another. Few writers could match the Scot's way with words, his eye for detail, or his contacts book. McIlvanney was close with some of the most well-known figures in sport, such as Sir Matt Busby, Sir Alex Ferguson, Bill Shankly and Jock Stein. He also had the nous to visit Muhammad Ali's villa just hours after he had beaten George Foreman in Zaire and was rewarded when Ali gave him the lowdown on how he had beaten the fearsome champion by lying on the ropes and letting Foreman punch himself out. 'Truth is, I could have killed myself dancin' against him,' Ali admitted, while eating two steaks, eight scrambled eggs and drinking pints of orange juice. Paul Webster, editor of the Observer, echoed the sentiments of many, calling McIlvanney 'a giant among journalists, a powerful and beautiful writer whose coverage of some of the great sporting events of his era is still talked about today.' McIlvanney, who also wrote a number of books on football, boxing and horse racing, was awarded an OBE in 1996 and named the Sports Journalists' Association's writer of the year a record six times. The former Scum Mail on Sunday chief sportswriter Patrick Collins, who is the president of the Sports Journalists Association, said: 'When his countless admirers speak of Hugh's writing, they recall the rolling phrases, the astute insights, the dramatic sense of occasion. But those who worked with him - and especially the heroic subs who placed paragraph marks on his copy - will tell of the tireless perfectionist, the man whose Sunday would be spoiled by a misplaced comma or a wayward colon.' McIlvanney was arguably never more moving than when writing about the Welsh boxer Johnny Owen slipping into a coma from which he would never recover after a world title fight against Lupe Pintor in 1980. 'Our reactions are bound to be complicated by the knowledge that it was boxing that gave Johnny Owen his one positive means of self-expression,' he wrote. 'Outside the ring, he was an inaudible and almost invisible personality. Inside, he became astonishingly positive and self-assured. He seemed to be more at home there than anywhere else. It is his tragedy that he found himself articulate in such a dangerous language.' Some of the writer's most memorable pieces for the Observer covered Ali's boxing career. The former heavyweight boxing champion paid tribute to McIlvanney in 2016, saying: 'His words were a window to the lives, the courage, the struggles and the triumphs of the great champions of his time. He has contributed richly to the fabric of our sport.' Hugh was born in the Ayrshire town of Kilmarnock to William, a miner and his wife, Helen, parents who gave him and his three brothers - one of whom was the future crime writer William McIlvanney - a priceless grounding in the arts of expression. Hugh began on his hometown paper, the Kilmarnock Standard, after impressing during a debate at his school, the Kilmarnock Academy and moved briefly to the Scottish office of the Daily Express before joining the Scotsman. That newspaper's legendary editor, Alastair Dunnett, introduced him to the collected essays of AJ Liebling, perhaps the pivotal intervention in his long career. McIlvanney had not even considered becoming a sportswriter but, that moment fixed the path of his calling. To his surprise McIlvanney loved Liebling's defining book on boxing, The Sweet Science. Like the New Yorker with the Sorbonne education, he was originally an accidental tourist in the under-lit suburb of sport. 'I was a bit reluctant at the start,' he admitted. He was petrified of ending up 'a fitba writer' obsessing about Glasgow Celtic and Glasgow Rangers. Self-doubt did not often haunt him thereafter. His life and his way of writing about football, he said, was changed by one night - 18 May 1960 - when he was amongst the one hundred and twenty seven thousand crowd at Hampden Park watching the European Cup Final between Real Madrid and Eintract Frankfurt. He recalled being one of the many thousands who stayed on for an hour after the game had ended, stunned by the attacking display that the great Madrid side had just given in their seven-three victory. While his heart never truly left Scotland, the core of McIlvanney's working life was played out on the pages of the Observer, where he began work in 1962 as deputy sports editor. In surroundings that were unremittingly Dickensian, peopled by literary mavericks to whom he would quickly cleave, McIlvanney impressed. But he knew that his editing and sub-editing work was no more than an entree to a more fulfilling line as a writer. His style, he accepted, had an undeniable Scottish flavour to it. 'I think it can be said without pomposity,' he wrote, while straying in that very direction, 'that I have a recognisable voice in my writing. I would be surprised if there wasn't some Scottishness there and certainly an attitude to language. The feeling that you could be quite strongly expressive and still very accurate relates in a way to how I was brought up, listening to a lot of people who were very eloquent - although they might not have been very well educated, but who had a great respect for language, especially in the West of Scotland.' Allied to his great style was McIlvanney's huge admiration for the characters of sport and he never lost faith in his heroes, however flawed. Nobody gave George Best more rope - he narrated the 1970 BBC documentary The World Of Georgie Best and counted the maverick Irishman among his closest friends. And, Ali stood tallest for him, even when palsied after a boxing career that lingered too long. There was no doubt in McIlvanney's mind that Muhammad (as he insisted on calling him) was The Greatest, as a human being as well as an athlete. 'His boxing was totally idiosyncratic,' he said. 'And, technically, at a level much lower than that of Sugar Ray Robinson. Muhammad was in a sense the eternal amateur, but he was God's amateur, because the will was so magical, the imagination so magical, that he found a way to beat people.' It was the perfect metaphor for McIlvanney's career: the raw yet refined genius from the North who invariably finished in front, sometimes despite himself. His writing - his reporting, as he would have it - was a triumph of the imagination. Of all the footballers he watched, he rated four above all others - Pele, Maradona, Di Stefano and Messi - although he admitted there were strong cases also for Best and for Johan Cruyff. He believed Graeme Souness to be the best Scottish midfielder he had seen, although he placed Jim Baxter, Billy Bremner, Dave Mackay and Bobby Murdoch not far behind. He had no truck with those who claimed that you needed to have played the game to truly understand it - once infamously telling Sir Alf Ramsey who had suggested this: 'You can take a turnip around the world but that doesn't make it an expert on geography!' He also had to write about tragic events, including the death of his friend Jock Stein, after the World Cup qualifying game in Cardiff in 1985. He was in Munich in 1972 to report on the Olympic Games when eleven Israeli athletes were murdered by Black September. Often described as Britain's greatest-ever sports writer, he was inducted to the International Boxing Hall of Fame and the Scottish Football Hall of Fame among his long list of awards and honours. He is survived by his third wife, Caroline, whom he married in 2014 and by two children, Conn and Elizabeth, from his first marriage, to Sarah. It ended in divorce, as did a second marriage, to Sophie.
James Frawley, the veteran Hollywood director of TV and film projects like The Monkees and The Muppet Movie, has died at the age of eighty two. Frawley died on Tuesday at his home in Indian Wells, California, the Desert Sun reported. His wife, Cynthia Frawley, told the newspaper that he had fallen and had a heart attack. He also was secretive about having a serious lung condition after many years of smoking. Born in September 1936, in Houston, Frawley started out as an actor, initially in New York City and on Broadway. His early TV credits included The Seasons Of Youth in 1961 and appearances in episodes of TV series like Gunsmoke, The Outer Limits, Doctor Kildare, The Dick Van Dyke Show and Perry Mason. But Frawley made a name for himself behind the camera, starting in 1966 when he directed the pilot episode of The Monkees. He was chosen by producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider, ended up directing twenty eight of the show's fifty eight episodes and won an EMMY for his work during the first series (1967) as well as being nominated for the same award the following year. 'I picked up a sixteen millimetre camera and I shot two short films and edited them myself. They won a lot of awards and attracted the attention of Bert Schneider and Bob Rafelson, two young producers in Hollywood at that time. Because I had been an improvisational actor and done a lot of comedy, they thought I'd be a perfect combination to direct The Monkees,' Frawley recalled in a 2007 interview. Mickey Dolenz said in a statement: 'He not only coached us in the art of improvisation but brought to the party a brilliant sense of humour, a dazzling intellect and the patience of a saint when it came to dealing with the completely off-the-wall antics of the improvisational, spontaneous monster that they had created ... "they" being Bob Rafelson, Bert Schneider and Jim Frawley.' Frawley then directed episodes of That Girl with Marlo Thomas, Columbo, Paper Moon, Tales Of The Gold Monkey, Magnum PI and Cagney & Lacey as well as the TV movie Holly Golightly. He also became a trusted hand with TV pilots. 'The great thing about doing a pilot is you have an opportunity to come in at the beginning and create the look. You contribute the same kind of directorial point of view as you would in a feature,' Frawley told the Desert Sun in 2011. Muppets creator Jim Henson, a huge fan of Frawley's work on The Monkees, hired him in 1979 to direct The Muppet Movie, where Kermit and his friends travel across America to find success in Hollywood. 'He knew that I had been an actor and thought that I was the right combination for The Muppets. He flew me to London, where they made The Muppet Show. We met and we had an immediate connection,' Frawley said. Working with puppets - on a road trip in a car and getting Kermit to ride a bike - offered its own challenges on set, Frawley recalled. 'You have to figure that you had four grown men under the dashboard of that Studebaker. Fozzie Bear was operated by two people, Kermit was operated by somebody else and then Miss Piggy by somebody else. They had to have video imaging of what they were doing so they could watch their own performance as it happened. And then we had a little person in the back of the car steering and driving. We had a video camera on the nose of the car so he could see where he was going,' he recounted. The veteran director - whose trademark cry on set was 'Cut! Print! Yes!' moved with his wife from Los Angeles to Indian Wells in 2009 to 'find desert tranquillity. My wife, Cynthia and I have always loved it here. There is no other place we want to be. To wake up and see the dawn coming over the mountains. And at night, to see the moon and the stars - this is the place,' Frawley told Palm Springs Life in 2013.
French Oscar-winning composer and jazz pianist Michel Legrand has died in Paris aged eighty six, his spokesman has said. During a career spanning more than fifty years, Legrand wrote over two hundred film and TV scores, as well as numerous songs. In 1968, he won his first Oscar for 'The Windmills of Your Mind' from The Thomas Crown Affair. He was nominated a further ten times. Two more Oscars followed in 1971 and 1983 for the best original scores in Summer Of Forty Two and Yentl. In the 1960s, he collaborated with French new-wave director Jacques Demy on The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg - the work which opened the door for Legrand to move to Hollywood. Legrand - who was known for his often jazz-tinged music - collaborated with Miles Davies, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra and Edith Piaf among others. He had planned to give concerts in Paris in April, the AFP news agency reports. Legrand was born in Paris in 1932. He came from a musical family, his father Raymond Legrand was a conductor and composer renowned for hits such as 'Irma La douce' and his mother was Marcelle Ter-Mikaëlian (the sister of the noted conductor Jacques Hélian). His maternal grandfather was of Armenian descent and was considered a member of the bourgeoisie. He was twenty two when his first LP, I Love Paris, became one of the best-selling instrumental records ever released. He was a virtuoso jazz and classical pianist and an accomplished arranger and conductor who performs with orchestras all over the world. He studied music at the Paris Conservatoire from 1943 to 1950, working with, among others, Nadia Boulanger, who also taught many other composers, including Aaron Copland, Philip Glass and Ástor Piazzolla. Legrand graduated with top honours as both a composer and a pianist. Hollywood soon became interested in Legrand after The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg, bombarding him with requests to compose music for films. Among his best-known scores are those for Ice Station Zebra (1968), The Lady In The Car with Glasses & A Gun (1970), The Go-Between and Lady Sings The Blues (1972). Legrand also wrote the score for Orson Welles's last-completed film, F For Fake (1974) and would later compose the score for Welles's posthumously-released movie The Other Side Of The Wind (2018). He also composed the scores Louis Malle's Atlantic City, Breezy, Jean-Luc Godard's Une Femme Est Une Femme, Never Say Never Again and Robert Fuest's Wuthering Heights.