Saturday, March 02, 2019

A Change Of Scene With No Regrets

A singular piece of fascinating reportage from the Daily Mirra this week claimed - with no supporting evidence that would actually stand up to even the most basic of fact-checking scrutiny - that 'Doctor Who [is] set for massive change next series over [a] fall in ratings.' The article claims that: 'It seems Doctor Who will be taking her shortest time trip ever, from a Sunday to Saturday.' Nicola Methven, the alleged 'newspaper's ace TV reporter, adds that 'BBC bosses' (that would be 'executives' only with less syllables) 'are planning on moving the show to its original evening slot after a steady ratings slide during Jodie ­Whittaker's debut series.' The piece goes on to suggest, entirely wrongly, that 'the Sunday run kicked off with 8.2 million viewers in October but had slipped to 5.2 million for the last episode in December.' Of course, those figures quoted are, as this blogger is sure you're well aware, purely initial overnights, despite the fact that no one in the TV industry is in the least-bit interested in overnights any more in this iPlayer and video-on-demand age. The actual, final and consolidated Seven Day Plus audience numbers of the first and last episodes of Doctor Who's most recent series being 10.96 million for The Woman Who Fell To Earth and 7.13 million for Resolution. Still, Nicola, why let a little thing like 'accuracy' get in the way of things when you could be off writing another spectacularly breathless story about I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want)? But, it gets better, dear blog reader. An alleged - though suspiciously anonymous and, therefore, probably fictitious - 'insider' allegedly revealed to Nicola: 'There is a feeling families are freer to watch on Saturdays than Sundays, when kids have homework to finish. While the show rated well overall, there were concerns over the decline in audience. Returning to Saturdays is being discussed as a likely option.' Possibly this was the self-same vaguely anonymous - and therefore, almost certainly fictitious - alleged 'insider' who, allegedly, told Nicola's Daily Mirra colleague, Vicki Newman, in April 2017 that Kris Marshall had been cast as Peter Capaldi's replacement. When he hadn't or anything even remotely like it. This blogger has no idea whether the BBC intend to move Doctor Who's broadcast slot again for the next series - currently in production in South Africa and due for broadcast early in 2020. It's entirely possible that they will be considering this, they understandably want to maximise the largest possible audience for the show - one of their most profitable and high-profile. But, this blogger will tell you what, dear blog reader, he'll reserve judgment on that matter until someone with a Hell of a lot more credibility than some anonymous - and, almost certainly fictitious - alleged 'source' quoted by the Daily Mirra says so. Trinity Mirra stories were much more believable when they used to just have done with it and hack people's phones to get their information, don't you think? 'The series averaged a respectable 5.7 million across the ten episodes,' Nicola continues, again, selectively using only overnight figures and ignoring the fact that, actually, the series had eleven episodes and that its Seven Day Plus consolidated ratings were 7.89 million per episode and its Twenty Eight Day Plus consolidated figures were 8.39 million per episode. The 'source' for which information is not anonymous in this case, it's Wikipedia via BARB, neither of those being in any way particularly hard to find for a journalist, one could suggest. Perhaps Nicola had something much more important to write about than doing some proper research. Like this. for instance. Or this. Pulitzer Prize-winning stuff, this blogger is sure you'll agree. Nothing dear blog reader, nothing in the wide, wide world of sport is more absolutely guaranteed to boil the steam off this blogger's piss than some tabloid journalist writing about TV viewing figures and - as they always, without fail, do - talking utter shite! It's a universal constant, a bit like a total eclipse only considerably more in the dark. 'Episodes for the new Doctor Who series, out early next year, are already being filmed,' the Mirra's piece concludes, which is the only accurate and trustworthy statement Nicola managed in four paragraphs. Quality journalism there.
'What if there's another story? What if something went unbroken?' And so, dear blog reader, the third series of True Detective ended in a suitably morally ambiguous way with a final episode that - just about - wrapped up the majority of the dangling plot threads (with one or two notable exceptions) and left the majority of viewers satisfied. It certainly left this viewer satisfied. A variety of reviews can be found here, here, here, here, here, here and here. Now, as pointed out in at least one of these pieces technically, the protagonists did not solve the crime in quite the way they thought they did. But, like the first series - and very much unlike the second - a 'positive' ending felt absolutely right. It's fairly certain that, should yer actual Keith Telly Topping be continuing a From The North tradition stretching back to 2008 and doing a 'best - and worst - TV shows of the year' awards thingy for 2019 come December, True Detective will be featured in it.
'Oswald, I accept you for the person that you are. Just as you accept me for the cold logician I am. That's why this friendship's great!' There was yet another superb episode of From The North favourite Gotham broadcast in the US this week - Nothing's Shocking - which balanced a couple of very serious plotlines (one of Harvey's many skeleton in the closet and Bruce and Alfred's journey to the underworld) with further, thigh-slapping, interplay between Penguin and The Riddler. Robin Lord Taylor and Cory Michael Smith's double-act managing, once again, to drag a bit of tasty comedy into some of the darkest places imaginable.
The current series of Star Trek: Discovery continued what has been, effectively, The Search For Spock II rather nicely in its latest episode.
The on-going Vulcan inter-family shenanigans aside, however, most of the good lines of dialogue are still going to From The North favourites Stamets and Tilly. Most notably the former's 'Beyond the Event Horizon, time exists all at once - which makes finding them like catching a grain of sand in a hurricane. Using a pair of tweezers!'
So, dear blog reader, as per usual yer actual Keith Telly Topping managed to get the answer to but one question on this week's episode of Only Connect before either of the teams did. And, of course, it was this one! It's always either music, football or telly, is it not? Any dear blog readers notice an emerging trend here? Just this blogger, then?
The highlight of the episode, however, was a question on that infamous piracy commercial which appeared on just about every DVD produced during the 2000s. You know the one this blogger mean; you wouldn't steal a car, a handbag, a television, a film. Downloading pirated films is stealing.' This one, in fact. Dear blog readers may remember that The IT Crowd did a particularly memorable and amusing parody of it.
After the answer to that particular Only Connect question was revealed, the divine Victoria then told the highly amusing story of the Dutch musician and DJ Melchior Rietveldt, who composed the techno music which was used as the soundtrack for that - ubiquitous - advert. Melchior, Victoria noted, was not paid for his work on an advert about the theft of intellectual copyright (he reportedly only discovered that his music had been used when a bought a Harry Potter DVD and heard it). He was forced to go to court and the royalty agency which used the music had to pay him an - eye-watering - amount of bread in settlement for their naughty piratical ways.
The BBC and ITV are in the 'concluding phase of talks' to create a rival to Netflix. The BBC's director general Tony Hall said that the aim was to launch BritBox 'in the UK in the second half of 2019.' The price was not announced but Lord Hall said it would be 'competitive.' ITV's chief executive, Dame Carolyn McCall, said it would be home for 'the best of British creativity.' There are reports it could cost five quid a month. The two organisations already have a BritBox streaming service in North America, which Lord Hall said was performing 'ahead of expectations.' It currently has five hundred thousand subscribers. 'Research with the British public shows that there is a real appetite for a new British streaming service - in addition to their current subscriptions,' he said. Dame Carolyn told Radio 4's Today programme that forty three per cent of all homes which use the Internet are interested in a subscription to BritBox. For homes which already subscribe to Netflix, she said that increased to half of all homes. 'There is a window of opportunity here,' she said. ITV will spend twenty five million notes on the venture this year and forty million smackers in 2020. The BBC did not disclose how much it was spending but Dani Warner, TV expert at uSwitch, said it 'could be a good way for the BBC especially to recoup losses from Brits abandoning the licence fee for subscription models.' It is understood licence fee money will not be used to pay for the service. The new venture is not intended to replace the BBC's iPlayer or the ITV Hub - the on-demand services where programmes are available for a restricted period of time. It is expected to have box-sets from the BBC and ITV archives. There will also be some programmes commissioned only for BritBox. Shows would appear on the relevant channels, then on the on-demand services before going on to BritBox. It would be 'one permanent, comprehensive home where anyone in Britain can get all of our library content - both the ITV and BBC library - in one place and they can watch it anytime, anywhere,' Dame Carolyn told Today. The details have not been announced but BBC shows which are no longer broadcast regularly be available. ITV dramas such as Vera and Endeavour - and its predecessor Inspector Morse - are also likely contenders. Dame Carolyn said that 'existing licensing agreements' with Netflix will be honoured. For instance, last year, Netflix acquired the rights to the BBC show Bodyguard - from ITV Studios which owns the production company which made the drama. Two inescapable trends are driving the TV business around the world today - one in consumer behaviour, the other in business strategy. The first is exponential growth in streaming, with an accompanied decline in scheduled TV. The second is consolidation among content providers who are desperately seeking scale. Britbox is a marriage of the two. For the BBC, the iPlayer is still a small part of overall viewing, but the key growth area, especially among the younger audiences who much prefer other digital platforms, particularly YouTube. ITV faces a hugely different set of challenges. It is a mostly advertising-funded, linear channel - the opposite of Netflix, a subscriber-driven, streaming service. Clubbing together to offer the maximum amount of content allows the BBC and ITV to provide a better service than they could alone, at a time when other media giants, such as Disney, are pulling out of Netflix to launch their own direct-to-consumer offering. An idea for a similar streaming service - known as Project Kangaroo - was blocked by the competition authorities nine years ago. Dame Carolyn told Today that the industry had changed since then. Both the Competition and Markets Authority and media regulator Ofcom are being consulted on this latest venture. Ofcom said it was 'looking forward to discussing the plan' with ITV and the BBC. 'We want to see broadcasters collaborating to keep pace with global players, by offering quality UK content that's available to viewers whenever and however they want to watch it.' ITV said 'talks' with Channel Four and Channel Five to join the venture were 'ongoing.' The announcement came as ITV reported 2018 profits of five hundred and sixty sevene million quid, up thirteen per cent in what Dame Carolyn said was 'an uncertain economic and political environment.' ITV's shares were down more than two-and-a-half per cent in early trading as it admitted that advertising in the first four months of the year was forecast to be down three to four per cent. 'It is an uncertain economic world at the moment for the UK our customers [advertisers] are more cautious because they are contingency planning and we expected it to be to be slow,' she told Today. Needless to say, that hateful, smug, full-of-his-own-importance Middle Class hippy Communist Mark Lawson at the Gruniad Morning Star had a right good sneer about Britbox, describing it as 'the bizarre Netflix rival that will surely bomb.' So, nice to see he is ready to give it a chance to succeed before it's even begun. What's the matter, Marky? Was your milk sour on your muesli that particular morning?
'If we don't stop, one of us is probably going to die!' One of the genuine telly highlights of this week - and, indeed, of 2019 so far - was Guy Evans's really impressive (and fantastically rude) Soft Cell documentary, Say Hello, Wave Goodbye broadcast on BBC4 on Friday. Always a duo that yer actual Keith Telly Topping had a lot of time for were Marc and Dave - both of whom came over as thoughtful, articulate, funny and genuinely nice chaps in the film.
The makers of Peaky Blinders have reportedly sent a warning to an unofficial Peaky Blinders-theme bar in Manchester. The bar, music venue and dim-sum restaurant has photos of characters from the drama on its walls. But the period crime drama's producers said that the venue 'has no authorisation to use the Peaky Blinders television brand.' The bar owners claimed that they were fans of the BAFTA-winning drama - isn't everybody? - and 'do not, in any way, intend on portraying ourselves as being affiliated with the show.' The show is made by Caryn Mandabach Productions and Tiger Aspect Productions. The producers said: 'The bar has no authorisation to use the Peaky Blinders television brand and, in line with our strategy to manage such infringements, the owners have been contacted with a legal notice to cease and desist. We work hard to protect the quality and authenticity of the Peaky Blinders brand and work only with approved partners to ensure that the show's dedicated fanbase receive quality experiences and products befitting the high standards of the show.' The bar's owners claimed that both sides were 'in discussions' about the implementation of any 'necessary changes.' They said in a statement: 'We are a fan-based theme bar from the 1920s era. We base ourselves on the Peaky Blinders tradition of community spirit and togetherness with a feel good factor. We are trying to create that image and that image only. If we have offended anybody, that is not intended and, for that we apologise. We enjoy the Peaky Blinders series as fans and do not in any way intend on portraying ourselves as being affiliated with the show or [with] Tiger Aspect Productions. We're just fans of the past and present.' Caryn Mandabach Productions has registered the phrase Peaky Blinders as a trademark for use in relation to television shows, among other things. But an application by the TV company to trademark the name for uses relating to bars and other food and drink services has been opposed, according to the government's Intellectual Property Office.
And now, dear blog reader, this week's semi-regular From The North candidate for a tweet which, 'almost, justifies Twitter's existence.'
Occasionally, dear blog reader, this blogger will stumble across something on the Interweb which he feels compelled to thrust into your inner-space and force you to watch. This, Richard Littler's short film What Is Hauntology? And Why Is It All Around Us? on the BBC Ideas website is one such artefact. 'From TV to art to design - why a "nostalgia for lost futures" seems to be everywhere,' the descriptor on the site doesn't even begin to articulate the sheer abstract strangeness and unsettling nature of the film. And, of the concepts - the philosophy of the late Jacques Derrida - that it deals with. Check it out, dear blog reader, it will - this blogger hopes - wrap your brain to buggery.
An unseen animated episode of popular TV show Worzel Gummidge has been unearthed. The original ITV children's programme ran for four series from 1979, featuring Jon Pertwee as the titular talking scarecrow Worzel and Una Stubbs as Aunt Sally. A BBC producer found an unbroadcast animated pilot episode which was due to be broadcast in the mid-1990s. The animation never made it to screens after Mister Pertwee sadly died in May 1996. Producers had been in talks to broadcast the spin-off show on Sky. The negatives for the animated pilot episode were located in a private archive in Slough but without sound. BBC producer Richard Latto found the cans among original camera negatives for the TV show with archive expert Paul Vanezis. The son of the late claymation animator Maurice Pooley was traced to Devon where a cutting copy of the full episode had been kept in a garage for more than twenty years. The sound was added with fresh transfers of the negatives. Tony Pooley said: '[The animation] was probably an idea that got thrown around in the Dog & Duck, it was a very small industry then. It's very basic, but my father spent hours doing this.' Stuart Manning, author of The Worzel Book, said: '[It] was made with limited resources and has some rough edges but it captures the last time Jon and Una worked together, with their chemistry still going strong after fifteen years in their roles.' The TV series was directed by Oscar-winner James Hill and was nominated for four BAFTAs. It also spawned a hit West End musical. Mackenzie Crook is currently reported to be working on a revival of the show - based on the series of books by Barbara Euphen Todd - for the BBC.
Watching television for more than three-and-a-half hours a day 'could' leave adults with a deteriorating memory, a study has suggested. Given that this blogger watches at least twice as much TV as that every single day and his memory is excellent - particular regarding any aspects of inane TV trivia - is, of course, necessary factor which this study, seemingly, did not take into account. Tests on three thousand five hundred adults aged over fifty - but, significantly, not yer actual Keith Telly Topping - allegedly 'found that verbal memory decline was twice as bad in couch potatoes, compared to lesser TV watchers, over six years.' Our memory normally gets worse as part of the ageing process. But, this allegedly happened faster the more TV was watched, University College London 'research' has claimed. The researchers 'cannot be sure' that TV was the cause of more rapid memory decline, but they suggest it 'could be' that watching it for long periods stopped people from doing other more stimulating activities such as reading and exercising. The study, in Scientific Reports, found that those who watched television for more than three-and-a-half hours a day experienced, on average, 'an eight to ten per cent decrease in verbal memory.' For those watching less than that per day, it was around four to five per cent. There was no evidence of TV having an impact on language fluency. Doctor Daisy Fancourt, from the UCL Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care, said that while watching television 'may' have educational and relaxation benefits, 'overall this suggests that adults over the age of fifty should try and ensure television viewing is balanced with other contrasting activities.' Like, perhaps contemplating the inherently ludicrous nature of existence. Or, you know, masturbation. Or golf. Or reading the Daily Mirra. Study participants, from England, were 'tested' on how well they could remember a list of ten common words and asked to list as many words in a particular category in one minute. They were asked how much TV they watched each day and monitored from 2008-09 to 2014-15. And, some scientists got paid for this shit. Nice work if you can get it. The research allegedly 'took into account' other potential explanations for memory decline including lifestyle factors - and early-onset Alzheimer's, one trusts - and 'other behaviours,' such as time spent sitting and exercising. Although the study did not ask people what they were watching on TV, some types of television 'could have a greater effect on cognitive decline,' it claimed. That'll be I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want), probably. Yeah, actually, come to think of it, that's probably a fair assessment. 'Older people tend to like watching more soap operas, which can be stressful because they identify closely with the characters,' Professor Andrew Steptoe, from UCL, said - in a horribly stereotypical statement which, if it has been about anything other than TV viewing habits would, rightly, be criticised for being 'something-ism.' 'This may create cognitive stress which could contribute to memory decline,' he added. Fantastically scientific word 'may', is it not? Dame Til Wykes, professor of clinical psychology and rehabilitation from King's College London, said that being 'a passive TV observer' may - that word again - be 'a potential explanation' for the study findings. 'There is still a lot we don't know, such as whether memory reductions are affected by what we watch, whether we watch alone or whether you interact with the TV like those on Gogglebox. We also don't know whether changing behaviour would improve memory. Although this result will cause us to think carefully about screen time, a lot more research is needed before we panic and closely measure TV time like a step counter.' Doctor Bob Patton, lecturer in clinical psychology, University of Surrey, said that older adults (and their carers) should be 'mindful' of too much time spent watching TV. 'While TV may not rot the brain as traditional wisdom may suggest, even moderate watching is associated with some very real changes among viewers aged over fifty.' When asked for his opinion on this nonsense, 'media expert' yer actual Keith Telly Topping was quoted as follows ...
Two years after Bones ended, the popular US crime drama's leads Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz have been awarded millions of dollars in a potentially 'game-changing legal case.' Deschanel and Boreanaz, along with the series' executive producer Barry Josephson, have been awarded a sum of more than one hundred and seventy five million bucks from FOX, according to Deadline. After first filing lawsuits in 2015, both Bones' stars and its creator have accused FOX of 'under-reporting' the show's profits and over-charging 'many additional millions of dollars in alleged expenses.' A ruling has sided with Deschanel, Boreanaz, and Josephson, although FOX has vowed to appeal. In a statement, Barry Josephson's lawyer said: 'This is a tremendous victory for the Bones profit participants who created and starred in the longest-running drama series to air on the FOX network. FOX's fraudulent conduct toward the series' creators and stars, perpetrated over many years, has finally been brought to light and FOX has been held accountable for its actions.' It continued: 'After extensive testimony, the arbitrator found that FOX manifests "a company-wide and accepted climate that envelops an aversion for the truth."' The lawyer acting on behalf of Emily Deschanel, David Boreanaz and the author of Bones' source material Kathy Reichs, promised that the recent case will 'profoundly change the way Hollywood does business for many years to come.' Twenty First Century FOX, which 'disagrees' with the ruling and is seeking to appeal it, told The Hollywood Reporter that the arbitrator's decision is 'categorically wrong.' 'FOX will not allow this flagrant injustice, riddled with errors and gratuitous character attacks, to stand and will vigorously challenge the ruling in a court of law,' it said. Ooo, get them.
Netflix has postponed a controversial documentary Root Cause from its streaming platform and erased all trace of it from their website. The film, directed by Australian film-maker Frazer Bailey, is reported to allege that root canals cause cancer, heart disease and other serious chronic illness and that the best way to deal with an injured or infected tooth would be to simply pull it out. 'These claims have no scientific basis,' according to the Gruniad Morning Star who appear to be hugely conflicted in having to write a story in which their beloved Netflix is seen in a less-than-glowing light. Albeit, at least they have now stopped shoehorning the phrase 'which broadcasts House Of Cards starring Kevin Spacey' into every single mention of Netflix in any context which was a regular feature in the Gruniad up until a couple of years ago. Curious, that, don't you think? Maybe it was something Kevin said? Netflix began carrying Root Cause on 1 January and it soon met opposition from the American Dental Association, the American Association of Endodontists and American Association of Dental Research. In a letter dated 29 January, the ADA, AAE and AADR wrote that continuing to host the film on their platform 'could harm the viewing public' by 'spreading misinformation' about safe medical treatments like root canals. These associations also sent similar letters to Apple, Amazon and Vimeo, which also carried the film. The film is, at the time of writing, still available for purchase or streaming on those sites. Dental health experts praised the decision to remove the film from Netflix. 'The film contains significant misinformation that is not supported by scientific evidence, which can cause unwarranted fear among viewers,' said Jeffrey M Cole, the president of the ADA. Jennifer Gibbs, the director of endodontics at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, praised Netflix's 'wise and responsible decision,' citing its large audience. Eleanor Patterson, an assistant professor of media studies at Auburn University, told the Gruniad that it was 'unlikely' criticism from the medical community played a large role. Though, it certainly did in their decision to drop Kevin Spacey faster than a couple of handfuls of hot shit. Instead, Netflix 'may be protecting its growing reputation for producing high-quality documentaries,' Patterson claimed. Documentaries including Making A Murderer, The White Helmets, Icarus and Period. End Of Sentence have won Oscars. With prizes come prestige, said Porter Bibb, an alleged 'media expert' and managing partner at MediaTech Capital Partners LLC. And, a widely criticised documentary like Root Cause 'could do a lot of damage' to Netflix's reputation, not just among viewers but among the 'high calibre talent' that has been slowly migrating over to its production company. Like, you know, Kevin Spacey for instance. 'Netflix could not afford to take a back step and see the accolades and new prominence its films have achieved [disappear], or risk losing the high quality talent which has gravitated to Netflix in the past year,' Bibb said. Alleged - though, anonymous and, therefore, possibly fictitious - 'media experts' allegedly also 'pointed out' that Netflix's lack of a public statement or explanation about the decision was 'in line with their secrecy about viewing ratings.' 'Unlike broadcast, cable, box office, or retail sales, digital media platforms like Netflix can make these decisions in secret,' said Miranda Banks, an associate professor of film and media at Emerson College and, presumably, one of the Gruniad's 'alleged media experts.' 'That leaves the ADA, the filmmakers, and audiences left guessing their motive. But the motive is almost always money.' And you're, what, surprised by that, Miranda?
And, just to demonstrate an almost textbook example of the Gruniad's continuing arse-slurping infatuation - bordering on crass sycophancy - towards all-things-Netflix, here's Stuart Heritage describing a new Netflix documentary, Last Chance U, as 'a Shakespearean masterpiece' and 'genius.' Because, a day wouldn't have a 'y' in it for the streaming box-set bores at the Gruniad if they don't take the opportunity to give Netflix a bit of good old-fashioned Middle Class hippy Communist tongue.
Members of Michael Jackson's family - you might have heard of them, they used to be a popular beat combo - have appeared on US television to defend the late singer in the week that a documentary labelling him as 'a sexual predator' is due to be broadcast. Brothers Tito, Marlon and Jackie and nephew Taj have yet to see Leaving Neverland but claim that the four-hour HBO/Channel Four co-production is 'filled with untruths.' The documentary, that premiered at this year's Sundance festival to great acclaim, features the testimonies of two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who allege that the singer sexually abused them as children. 'I know my brother,' Jackie said in an interview on CBS This Morning. 'He's my little brother. I know my brother. He's not like that.' Director Dan Reed chose to focus the documentary on the two men and their families without featuring other voices, a decision that the estate has criticised. 'There has not been not one piece of evidence that corroborates their story,' Marlon said. 'And they're not interested in doing that.' In the documentary, both Robson and Safechuck reveal what they claim happened at Neverland when Jackson would invite them for 'sleepovers,' detailing graphic sexual assault, a claim which Taj Jackson denies. 'I grew up in it, so for me it wasn't odd,' Taj said of his uncle's frequent slumber parties with children. 'You know, I think, to the outside world, yes, I think it can be odd. I mean, I'm not oblivious to what it sounds like. But I think, the fault on my uncle was he just, he didn't have that bone in his body to look at it the other way. And, I think that was the thing, is that his naiveté was his downfall in a way.' The Jackson Four believe that the reason behind the two men coming forward is 'purely financial. It's all about money,' Marlon claimed. Taj referred to his uncle as 'a blank cheque.' Earlier this week, CBS also spoke to Leaving Neverland's director Dan Reed, who defended the men's stories and his decision to keep the focus tightly on those who were there. 'What was important to me was to have eyewitnesses or people who could add something to the story,' he said. 'I don't know that the Jackson family has any direct knowledge of what happened to Wade and James.' The singer's estate has already filed a suit against HBO claiming the network is 'in breach of a non-disparagement clause' that was part of a 1992 contract to show an earlier concert. They are seeking up to one hundred million dollars in damages. Although, in no way can this be described as 'purely financial,' obviously. The BBC has also announced that they will be making a rival documentary which will feature 'the individuals who shaped [Jacko] and were close to him' and 'will not shy away' from controversy. Something Robson and Safechuck's interview on Victoria Derbyshire on Thursday in which they both claimed they were abused 'hundred of times' by Jackson suggests might be worth watching.
About four thousand extremely dodgy right-wing bigots joined the former English Defence League leader and jailed recidivist Tommy Robinson - whose criminal record includes convictions for violence, financial and immigration frauds, drug possession, public order offences and contempt of court - in a protest against the BBC. The corporation confirmed that an upcoming Panorama episode was investigating Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon. He criticised the programme at the rally outside the BBC's Salford offices. About five hundred people attended a counter-protest by anti-fascists. The BBC said that the episode would follow its 'strict editorial guidelines.' Why they felt the need to justify investigating the activities of Yaxley-Lennon in the first place since his criminal activities are a matter of public record is another question entirely. Yaxley-Lennon said that the 'aim' of the protest was to 'make a stand against the corrupt media' and called for the BBC licence fee to be scrapped. During the rally, undercover filming of Panorama journalist John Sweeney, carried out by a supporter of Yaxley-Lennon, was broadcast on a large screen. Sweeney is heard saying 'one of my political heroes is the former head of the IRA Martin McGuinness,' which the BBC says was 'taken out of context' as Sweeney was referencing McGuinness's role in the peace process. McGuinness, who, as a prominent Sinn Fein politician, became Northern Ireland's deputy First Minister, had acknowledged that he was a member of the IRA. He died in 2017. Sweeney was also recorded making remarks which Tommy Robinson has described as 'racist, homophobic and anti-working class.' Which, coming from someone with the well-documented views of Stephen Yaxley-Lennon is, one has to say, a bit on the rich side. In response, a BBC spokeswoman said: 'The BBC strongly rejects any suggestion that our journalism is "faked" or biased. Any programme we broadcast will adhere to the BBC's strict editorial guidelines. Some of the footage which has been released was recorded without our knowledge during this investigation and John Sweeney made some offensive and inappropriate remarks, for which he apologises. BBC Panorama's investigation will continue.' UKiP leader Gerard Batten, who employs Yaxley-Lennon as an 'adviser' - told demonstrators that Yaxley-Lennon 'speaks up for things that are right, he tells the truth and he can mobilise lots of people like you and that's what they fear.' A rally organiser also took to the stage and told demonstrators: 'Don't touch the photographers or any of the media companies. Let them be. Just for today.' The National Union of Journalists said they 'roundly condemn Tommy Robinson and his fellow, far-right thugs who intend to intimidate staff at the corporation, particularly those working on Panorama. BBC staff should be free to do their jobs without these threats,' the NUJ spokesperson added. 'Intimidation, threats and violence carried out by far-right protesters systematically targeting the media, especially photojournalists, are becoming more frequent and we will always call out this behaviour and report criminal activity to the police.' In May 2018, Yaxley-Lennon was jailed for potentially prejudicing two court cases - in Canterbury and Leeds - after having been found to have broken contempt of court laws by live-streaming outside them on social media. The Court of Appeal later quashed the Leeds conviction and ordered that it be reheard in its entirety. Yaxley-Lennon is waiting for a decision from the Attorney General on whether he will face a full trial for the alleged contempt outside Leeds Crown Court - the ruling that he committed contempt of court by live-streaming in Canterbury still stands. He told the Salford protest: 'I want us all to give him a message. I dare you to charge me again because I just want to see the scenes outside court.' In November, PayPal announced it would no longer process payments for Yaxley-Lennon, saying he had broken its policy on acceptable use. He was banned from Twitter in March 2018. His account was, reportedly, suspended for breaking its 'hateful conduct policy.' Yaxley-Lennon - who also has convictions for assault, using false travel documents, mortgage fraud and using threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour and has served at least three custodial sentences - was also very banned from Facebook and Instagram this week for, allegedly, posting 'content which violate our policies around organised hate.'
A new drama starring survivors of drug addiction and gang violence in Edinburgh will be broadcast this week as part of the launch of the BBC's new dedicated Scottish TV channel. The Grey Area, which premiered on Tuesday, features a cast taken from addiction recovery groups in the city and is soundtracked by local hippin'-and-a-hoppin' music, with the baseball caps on backwards and all that. Initially commissioned as a standalone pilot, it is hoped that the drama will become 'Scotland's version of The Wire,' its creator Garry Anthony Fraser says. So, that'd be 'miserable as sin and watched by hardly anyone except box-set bores at the Gruniad' then? The film appeared on BBC Scotland, a thirty two million knicker digital channel that the corporation hopes will address whinges from SNP politicians that it has 'neglected' Scottish audiences. The stupid buggers, they've got The Krankies, what more do they want? A gritty tale of violence and addiction filmed on location on estates of Leith, The Grey Area follows an aspiring rapper, a struggling addict and a teenage outcast 'as they try to escape gang activity and their drug problems.' The drama was written and directed by Fraser, an award-winning film-maker who grew up in Muirhouse, the Edinburgh estate that provided the inspiration for Trainspotting. Fraser also plays a ruthless drug dealer in the film. A former addict himself, Fraser received a Scottish BAFTA New Talent award in 2013 for his documentary Everybody's Child, which explored issues of crime and drug addiction in Edinburgh. The documentary was seen by another former Muirhouse resident, Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh, who recommended Fraser to Danny Boyle for a crew role in the film's 2017 sequel. Fraser says that many of The Grey Area's themes 'derive from the real-life experiences' of its cast, eighty per cent of whom were found at a weekly drama group made up of recovering addicts. It is a world that, he says, 'is rarely shown on British television. It was really important for me to show a side to Edinburgh that often the tourists don't see. People are pleased that we're telling their stories.' Whilst only one episode of The Grey Area, which took three years to bring to the screen, has so far been made, Fraser says that three further episodes have been written and he is 'confident' that the drama will become a full series. 'I don't think there's been anything made like this in Scotland for a long time,' he says. 'It stands out night and day. For me it's Scotland's version of The Wire.' BBC Scotland launched on Sunday with a specially commissioned film featuring the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and the Glaswegian synth-pop band Chvrches. Other programming announced for the channel includes the final series of the sitcom Still Game, Guilt, a 'contemporary drama' starring Line Of Duty's Mark Bonnar, The Nine, an hour-long daily news programme dedicated to Scottish current affairs and a Scottish version of Question Time titled Debate Night. Speaking at a launch event this week, BBC Scotland's director Donalda MacKinnon said that the channel will offer 'an opportunity to reflect the length and breadth of Scotland.' She also expressed confidence that the channel's news coverage will 'go some way' to ensuring that 'audiences have confidence that we’re doing all we can to ensure fairness and balance.' The BBC has long been accused of anti-nationalist bias by supporters of Scottish independence if not anyone with less on an agenda to push, claims which resurfaced earlier this month after it emerged that a former UKiP council candidate who criticised the SNP during a Question Time broadcast was appearing as an audience member on the programme for the fourth time. BBC Scotland, will be broadcast from 7pm to midnight seven nights a week and will be available on Freeview for viewers in Scotland and on digital providers and online for viewers in the rest of the UK.
Baroness Karren Brady has resigned from Sir Philip Green's retail empire, just weeks after vowing to stay in her post despite a widely-reportedly harassment scandal. Taveta, the holding company for Green's Arcadia group, said that Brady had stepped down as its non-executive chairman, but gave no reason. She had been chairman since July 2017. It comes after a number of allegations of sexual harassment and racial abuse of staff by Green were reported earlier this month, accusations which he continues to deny. Brady had said that she felt 'a real sense of duty' to staff at the retail empire, including her own daughter, Sophia Peschisolido, who has been a social media content assistant at Topshop since 2016. Brady was made a life peer in 2014 and sits on the Conservative benches in the House of Lords. The firm said that Sharon Brown had also resigned as non-executive director. 'Taveta thanks them for their contribution and wishes them well for the future,' the company said. Through gritted teeth, one imagines. Brady's seat at the head of the Taveta board has been an uncomfortable one ever since she became chair in 2017. Putting one of Britain's most high-profile businesswomen at the head of a board on which she had served since 2010 was seen a shrewd appointment in the wake of the collapse of BHS. She has described herself as being 'tough' and has regularly spoken out against men who abuse their positions of power within organisations, subjecting women to alleged inappropriate behaviour. The recent revelations of substantial payments of hush money to keep allegations against Green of sexual and racial harassment and other - allegedly - naughty doings quiet, therefore, made her position very awkward indeed. Having weathered the media storm around Green's conduct and the use of non-disclosure agreements for several months, questions will naturally arise as to why both women are stepping down now. Green has always insisted that there was nothing in his conduct that was actually unlawful. Earlier this month, Green dropped protracted legal action against the Daily Torygraph, which had previously been prevented from publishing accounts of his alleged misconduct towards five employees. The paper subsequently reported that he paid a female employee more than a million quid to keep quiet after she accused him of kissing and groping her. After the allegations became public, Brady came under pressure to step down from her post at Taveta. But, she responded by saying that she would stay in her post because she felt 'a real sense of duty' to the staff. She said in a statement issued through her public relations team: 'I want to be one hundred per cent clear - I have always been an outspoken defender of women's rights in the workplace and always will be. As chairman of Taveta, I am extremely proud of our people, our customers and our brands. My primary concern are the twenty thousand people who work there, of which over eighty five per cent are women.'
Olivia Colman accepted her academy award for best actress at the Oscars in style, calling the win 'hilarious.' She played Queen Anne in The Favourite, winning the only award for the film at the ninety first Academy Awards ceremony. 'I have to thank lots of people and if I forget anybody I'll find you later and give you a massive snog,' she added during an emotional - and, very funny - speech. Colly became the eleventh British actress to take home the coveted prize. The last time a British actress won the accolade was in 2009, when Kate Winslet won for her portrayal of Hanna Schmitz in The Reader. Colly's co-stars, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone, were both nominated for best supporting actress but lost out to Regina King. Yorgos Lanthimos' film The Favourite received ten nominations in total.
Sarah Frankcom, the artistic director of Manchester's Royal Exchange theatre, is to leave to run drama school LAMDA. Frankcom has been an artistic director at the venue since 2008, staging shows including Hamlet with Maxine Peake and Don Warrington's Death Of A Salesman. As LAMDA director, she will work with figures including the drama school's president, yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch. 'Her reputation precedes her. I am sure her leadership will be a performance to truly grip the industry,' Benny said. The actor, a former student of the London school, said: 'I am thrilled at the prospect of working with Sarah, who I know has a passion for finding the best talent from whatever background and increasing diversity on stage and screen.' Under Frankcom's tenure, the Royal Exchange earned critical acclaim and has been nominated for best regional theatre at the Stage Awards for the past two years. Frankcom herself won best director at the 2018 UK Theatre Awards for Our Town. She will leave to take up the new role of LAMDA director in November. Before that, she will direct a new version of West Side Story in April and May. She said: 'I'm immensely proud of the strides the company has taken on-and-off our stages, increasing representation in both the stories we share with audiences, the artists we make work with and the meaningful way in which we now work with and listen to the communities we serve.' LAMDA was formed in 1861 and other past students include Richard Armitage, Sam Claflin, Rose Leslie, David Oyelowo, Katherine Parkinson and Ruth Wilson.
US broadcaster Univision says its reporting team was 'briefly detained' in the Venezuelan presidential palace where they had been interviewing President and scallywag Nicolás Maduro. The alleged incident allegedly occurred after award-winning journalist Jorge Ramos showed Maduro images of Venezuelans eating from a bin lorry, the network claimed. Their equipment was allegedly confiscated. Venezuela's Information Minister, Jorge Rodríguez, claimed that the government had 'welcomed' hundreds of journalists but it did not support 'cheap shows.' The Univision team was extremely deported from Venezuela on Tuesday. Univision, the leading Spanish-language TV network in the US, said that the six-member crew had been released after 'almost three hours' detention but that their recording equipment and personal belongings had 'not been returned.' Speaking on Univision, Ramos claimed that Maduro 'had not liked' some of the questions about 'the lack of democracy in Venezuela, torture, political prisoners and the humanitarian crisis. He got up after I showed him videos of young people eating out of a bin lorry,' Ramos said of the interview at the Miraflores Palace in the capital, Caracas. 'What I told Nicolás Maduro is that millions of Venezuelans and many governments around the world don't consider him a legitimate president but a dictator.' During their alleged detention, Ramos and Univision Vice President María Martínez were allegedly kept for 'a few minutes' in a separate room where the lights were turned off, the broadcaster claimed. Ramos, a veteran Mexican-born American journalist, is known for his confrontational style of questioning. In 2015, he was thrown out of a news conference of then-presidential candidate (and hairdo) Donald Rump. Natalie Southwick, Central and South America programme co-ordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said: 'By shutting down an interview and censoring one of Latin America's most high-profile reporters, Nicolás Maduro has demonstrated his fundamental disregard for the press.' Last month, several local and foreign journalists were also allegedly 'briefly detained' while working in Caracas. Some ended up being deported. On Twitter, Rodríguez claimed: 'Hundreds of journalists have come through Miraflores who have received decent treatment that we always give to those who do journalistic work.' One or two people even believed him. Earlier, a group of Latin American countries and Canada said Maduro was 'a threat to peace and security in the region' and called for his immediate exit, a democratic transition and free elections. Meeting in the Colombian capital, Bogotá, The Lima Group urged the International Criminal Court to consider whether Venezuela was guilty of 'crimes against humanity' for refusing to allow aid into the country. At least two people died in Saturday's clashes between civilians and troops loyal to Maduro that blocked the entrance of foreign aid organised by opposition leader and self-declared interim President Juan Guaidó. Maduro claims that the aid efforts are 'part of a US-orchestrated coup.' In other developments, more than one hundred soldiers are said to have defected since the weekend and the US has announced new and harsh sanctions against four Venezuelan state governors allied with Maduro.
A senior Roman Catholic Cardinal has claimed that files documenting child sexual abuse were conveniently destroyed, allowing such sick and sordid offences to continue, unchecked. German Cardinal Reinhard Marx told a conference on paedophilia in the Church that 'procedures' to prosecute offenders 'were deliberately not complied with. The rights of victims were effectively trampled underfoot,' he said. The unprecedented four-day summit has brought together one hundred and ninety bishops from across the world. The Catholic Church has faced growing pressure amid long-running cases of sexual abuse of children and young men, with victims accusing it of failing to tackle the issue. 'Files that could have documented the terrible deeds and named those responsible were destroyed, or not even created,' Cardinal Marx told the third day of the conference in The Vatican. 'Instead of the perpetrators, the victims were regulated and silence imposed on them.' He urged greater transparency in the Catholic Church's response to the issue, adding: 'It is not transparency which damages the church but rather the acts of abuse committed, the lack of transparency or the ensuing cover up.' On Friday, Cardinal Marx - who is one of nine advisers to the Pope - met survivors of abuse and members of the global organisation Ending Clergy Abuse. Hundreds of victims have protested outside The Vatican, calling for justice and zero tolerance over the issue. The conference was called for by Pope Frankie who, earlier this month, admitted that abuse of nuns by members of the clergy had included sexual slavery. Last week, a former Catholic cardinal was defrocked over historical sexual abuse allegations.
Emma Thompson has revealed she quit an animated project because the company making it had hired John Lasseter. Lasseter was recruited to head Skydance Animation following his departure from Pixar in the wake of claims that he sexually harassed female colleagues. In a letter, Thompson questioned the studio 'hiring someone with Mister Lasseter's pattern of misconduct.' The actress had been due to voice a character in Luck, a comedy about how luck affects our daily lives. 'If a man has been touching women inappropriately for decades, why would a woman want to work for him if the only reason he's not touching them inappropriately now is that it says in his contract that he must behave "professionally"?' Thompson wrote in a letter published by the Los Angeles Times. Thompson then referenced past allegations made against Lasseter and questioned whether the 'respect' he shows to his new female colleagues would be 'anything other than an act he's required to perform. The message seems to be, "I'm learning to feel respect for women so please be patient while I work on it. It's not easy,"' she added. Melissa Silverstein, founder of Women and Hollywood which campaigns for gender equality and inclusion, said that Thompson's decision to leave Luck was 'one of the most significant moments in the [Me Too] movement.' The organisers of the Time's Up movement have also saluted her stance. When Lasseter's hiring was first announced in early January, Skydance's CEO David Ellison sent an internal memo to staff. It said that he had 'conducted an independent investigation' into the accusations and was 'confident' that Lasseter's 'mistakes' had been 'recognised.' Thompson withdrew from Luck a few weeks later. Towards the end of her letter, the Oscar-winning actress said that she regretted exiting the project because the film's director, Alessandro Carloni, was 'incredibly creative. But I can only do what feels right during these difficult times of transition and collective consciousness raising,' she continued. Thompson concluded that if people like herself did not 'take this sort of stand, things are very unlikely to change.' In the wake of the Me Too movement, the actress has been vocal about the harassment she has faced in the industry. Speaking to BBC Newsnight in 2017, she called disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein 'a predator' and said that allegations made against him were 'the tip of the iceberg.' Weinstein is currently facing criminal charges on five counts of sexual abuse, charges which he denies. The producer has denied any allegations of non-consensual sex.
Fans of the rock and/or roll type person Ryan Adams are reported to be demanding their money back ahead of his upcoming UK tour. Following accusations of sexual misconduct, 'some' fans say that they don't want to go to his concerts until the allegations have been either proven or discounted. In a recent report, several women accused Adams of both sexual and psychological abuse. The FBI is said to be looking at whether he sent allegedly 'explicit' text messages to an underage teenager, something Adams said he 'unequivocally' denies. Adams' forthcoming CD has been put on hold but tickets for his UK dates were still on sale earlier in the week. This has left some - now, personally former - fans of the rock and/or roller 'taking to social media' to 'demand' - demand, they say -  a refund from music venues and ticket companies. One Emma Buff from Peterborough spent just under fifty knicker on tickets to see Adams perform in April but reportedly feels 'quite shocked' by the allegations made against him. 'Reading the allegations upset me quite a lot and I decided I didn't want any of my money to go to Ryan Adams in the future,' she said. 'I've tried to get a refund on the ticket [and] I've yet to hear anything back' she added. Emma says she has been a fan of the musician 'for a long time.' Due to the recent claims, though, she is now more 'wary' of whom she chooses to support. 'In the current climate we live in now, I definitely think about who I want my hard-earned money to go to and I do think the whole [music] industry needs to look at itself.' In an interview with Radio 4's You & Yours programme, New York Times European culture journalist Alex Marshall said that there 'needed to be clarity' on the issue from the music industry. Marshall said it was 'surprising' that the companies involved in the tour have been silent since the allegations were published. 'I've tried to speak to the ticketing companies,' he said. 'I've tried to speak to the venues and the promoter and I've had very little response back. That's leaving people in the dark about what's going on.' In cases where allegations have been made against an artist, consumers are not legally entitled to their money back. Ticket holders would only be entitled to a refund if the organiser cancels, moves or reschedules the event. Kate Hobson, Consumer Expert at Citizens Advice, said: 'Ticket holders who change their mind for whatever reason about going to see a concert have no legal right to a refund. They could try reselling their ticket, but they should first check the advice on reselling on the Citizens Advice website.' For the most part, artists and bands that have faced similar accusations have withdrawn plans to tour. In the case of Adams, Alex Marshall believes a delay in response as to whether the tour will go ahead as scheduled is down to many of the ticketing companies, venues and promoters who stand to lose money if the performances are cancelled. 'There seem to be some artists that believe they can keep going, no matter what's been said about them. But what you're hoping to see with the Me Too movement is that people are raising these accusations, which will lead to a change in culture to make people aware of what's gone on in the past and what is deemed unacceptable.' Three music companies have already severed ties with the rock and/or roll singer. In a statement on social media, Adams claimed that he was 'not a perfect man' and had 'made many mistakes.' Most of them, frankly, musical since his one decent record, Gold in 2001. Yet he suggested the New York Times' article, which first raised the allegations, had painted 'an upsettingly inaccurate picture' and that he 'would never have inappropriate interactions with someone I thought was underage.' Within a day of this malarkey being reported, however, Adams had extremely cancelled the tour. Meaning that Emma will, presumably, now get her money back. So, that's a nice happy ending. Well, for everyone except Ryan Adams, obviously.
A sublime goal by Fabian Schär helped to ease yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle United's relegation worries as Burnley's unbeaten eight-game Premier League run came to an end on Tuesday evening. Schär set Rafa The Gaffer's side on the way to a fourth win in six league games with an outstanding strike from around thirty yards which went in off the post at rockin' St James' Park. Burnley, who have picked up more points in 2019 than leaders Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws, fell further behind when they failed to clear Matt Ritchie's cross and twenty one-year-old academy graduate Sean Longstaff pounced for his first league goal for the club. James Tarkowski wasted Burnley's best chance when he fired over from inside the six-yard area. Newcastle's second successive win lifted them above Burnley into thirteenth in the table, seven points above the relegation zone. There is still work to do for Benitez's team to secure a third successive season in the top-tier but this was a performance full of positives. United's record signing Miguel Almirón was, again, the catalyst as he followed up his full debut against Huddersfield at the weekend with another dynamic display. His explosive pace caused Burnley's defence all sorts of problems and the Paraguayan forward is quickly being taken to by United fans who have been crying out for a new hero, with his attitude and never-say-die spirit. After he was thwarted by Tom Heaton after beating the off-side trap, he responded with a smile and was given a standing ovation when he was replaced by Paul Dummett towards the end after running himself into the ground. Longstaff, too, seemingly has a promising future at Newcastle. After Schär's exquisite finish set the hosts on their way, he showed great composure to double the lead from an acute angle. 'He is working hard, listening to staff and learning which is the main thing,' said Benitez about Longstaff. 'Having a young lad from the academy is a great example for people to follow. It is ideal for any club to have players through academy because they are cheaper and they give you more.' Newcastle were in the relegation zone as recently as 12 January following a defeat at Moscow Chelski FC left them third bottom. Almirón's mid-season arrival seems to have put a collective spring in the step on Tyneside, while the emergence of Longstaff and rediscovering the knack of winning at St James' have also elevated the mood significantly. They are slowly edging away from danger but Benitez knows that more performances like this one are needed before they can relax. This was Burnley's first league defeat since 26 December. Anchored in the relegation zone two months ago, Sean Dyche's side have transformed their season with eye-catching performances against Stottingtot Hotshots and The Scum. At St James' Park, however, they fell below the standards they have recently set.
Moscow Chelski FC goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga has been fined a week's wages and has grovellingly apologised for refusing to be substituted during Sunday's Carabao Cup final defeat by Sheikh Yer Man City. The Spaniard refused to be replaced by Willy Caballero at Wembley which led to the extraordinary sight of Moscow Chelski FC manager Maurizio Sarri having a reet angry strop on the sidelines. 'Although there was a misunderstanding, on reflection, I made a big mistake with how I handled the situation,' Kepa claimed in a Moscow Chelski FC statement. One or two people even believed him. Sarri claimed that he and Kepa had, since, 'had a good conversation.' Sarri, who reacted furiously when Kepa refused to leave the field towards the end of extra-time, also claimed the incident had been 'a misunderstanding.' But he added: 'Kepa realises he made a big mistake in the way he reacted. He has apologised to me, his team-mates and the club. It is up to the club if they want to discipline him according to the club rules, but for me this matter is now closed. The team performance as a whole was extremely positive and it is a shame to see how this incident has overshadowed our efforts in what was a very competitive cup final.' Kepa, the club's record seventy one million knicker signing, defied Sarri's attempt to substitute him for Caballero before Sheikh Yer Man City eventually won the cup on penalties. The Italian appeared furious and, at one point, appeared to be in the process of walking down the tunnel before quickly returning. The twenty four-year-old former Atletico Bilbao player said: 'I wanted to take the time today to apologise fully and in person to the coach, to Willy, my team-mates and to the club. I have done this and now I want to offer the same apology to the fans. I will learn from this episode and will accept any punishment or discipline the club decides is appropriate.' The club will donate Kepa's fine to the Moscow Chelski FC Foundation. Subsequently, for all Sarri's claims that he and Kepa had, merely, had 'a misunderstanding,' Sarri made the goalkeeper 'pay' for his 'big mistake' by extremely dropping his ass to the bench before the team cast aside an air of crisis with a thoroughly deserved Premier League win over Stottingtot Hotshots on Wednesday.
Hotshots striker Harry Kane will not face any punishment following an incident with Moscow Chelski FC defender Cesar Azpilicueta on Wednesday. England captain Kane appeared to move his head towards the Spaniard in an incident during Chelsea's two-nil Premier League win at Torpedo Stamford Bridge. Kane was not punished by the referee at the time and, as the incident was seen by officials, no further action will be taken post-game. Obviously, the fact that he is whiter-than-white Harry Kane and not, say, Harry Smith of Rochdale, factors majorly into the football authorities' decision to let him off with sticking his long face where it shouldn't be. A bit like his awful tackle on Florian Lejeune in the opening game of last season that put the Newcastle defender out for six weeks but didn't even earn Kane a yellow card, it would appear that there is one rule for King Harry and another for everyone else.
FIFA is reportedly investigating the transfer payment for Emiliano Sala after Nantes made a claim against Cardiff City. Cardiff were due to pay the first of three instalments for the fifteen million quid striker on Wednesday. Sala, the Bluebirds' record signing, tragically died aged twenty eight in a plane crash in the English Channel on 21 January. 'We can confirm we have received a claim. We are looking into the matter,' said a spokesman for world football's governing body. As Sala's move was an international transfer, it had to go through FIFA's mandatory system. The International Transfer Certificate was completed but there were 'issues' with 'the separate matter of Premier League registration.' The ITC was registered with the Football Association of Wales and confirmed that Sala as a Cardiff player, which meant the Welsh club were liable to pay Nantes the transfer fee. A Cardiff spokesman said: 'Cardiff City remains committed to ensuring fairness and accountability with respect to the agreement between Cardiff City and FC Nantes but, first and foremost the relevant authorities must be allowed to determine the facts surrounding this tragedy. It is inappropriate to comment further at this stage.' Cardiff were due to make the first of three payments on 20 February, but they agreed with French Ligue Un side Nantes to extend the deadline by a week. Nantes wrote to Cardiff on 5 February requesting the first instalment. But Cardiff said they were withholding payment until crash investigations were complete and they were satisfied about 'anomalies' around the deal. What these 'anomalies' were and whether, had Sala not been tragically killed, Cardiff would now be whinging about these alleged 'anomalies' are not known. Chairman Mehmet Dalman claimed that Cardiff will be 'honourable' with Nantes if they are contractually obliged to pay. Which, it would appear, they most certainly are given that the transfer was completed and the documents filed with the relevant authorities. Bordeaux are due fifty per cent of the fee because of a sell-on clause when they sold Sala to Nantes in 2015. Sala's body was recovered from the plane wreckage but pilot David Ibbotson remains missing.
The Football Association is investigating claims that Sheikh Yer Man City made a banned payment of two hundred thousand knicker to Jadon Sancho's agent when the England winger was fourteen years old. The allegations were made in documents published by Der Spiegel. It is alleged that Sheikh Yer Man City paid Emeka Obasi when they signed Sancho, now at Borussia Dortmund, from Watford in March 2015. Young players cannot be represented by an agent until the year they turn sixteen. A Sheikh Yer Man City statement read: 'The attempt to damage the club's reputation is organised and clear. We will not be providing any comment on out of context materials purported to have been hacked or stolen from City Football Group and Manchester City personnel and associated people.' London-born Sancho joined City as a fourteen-year-old, when the Premier League champions paid sixty six grand in compensation to Watford. FA rules state that clubs are not permitted to offer financial inducements to a player under sixteen. Der Spiegel - which has published a series of revelations in recent months, including allegations Sheikh Yer Man City 'deceived' UEFA over financial fair play rules - claims the club wrote a letter to Sancho's father which outlined how much they were willing to pay the player once he turned professional. The German magazine also claims that a Sheikh Yer Man City lawyer was 'alarmed' that the letter 'could be deemed as a financial offer' and, therefore, breaking the rules about offering inducements. Der Spiegel alleges Sheikh Yer Man City paid two hundred thousand quid to Obasi as part of 'a scouting contract' to find players in Central and South America. It claims the payment was, in fact, in relation to Sancho's transfer from Watford. Sancho never made a first-team appearance for Sheikh Yer Man City before moving to German side Dortmund for eight million notes in August 2017. He has been one of the star players for the Bundesliga leaders this season, with the club describing him as 'one of the most exciting players in Europe' when they announced he had signed a new long-term contract in October. In April 2017, Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws were fined one hundred thousand smackers by the Premier League and handed a two-year ban on signing academy players from other clubs for offering inducements to a twelve-year-old academy player at Dirty Stoke.
Fulham have extremely sacked their manager Claudio Ranieri after just one hundred and six days in charge at Craven Cottage, with Scott Parker taking caretaker charge of the club, who are currently nineteen in the Premier League. The Italian's last game was Wednesday's two-nil defeat by Southampton, which left The Cottagers ten points from safety with ten league games remaining. Ranieri took over in November after the sacking of Slavisa Jokanovic. Ranieri won only three of his seventeen games as manager. It included a three-two victory over Southampton in his first game, but eleven defeats have followed including an FA Cup third-round exit against League Two Oldham. Fulham chairman Shahid Khan said in a statement: 'Claudio walked into a difficult situation, inheriting a side that gained only one point in its prior eight matches and he provided an immediate boost by leading our club to nine points in his first eight matches as manager. Though we were unable to maintain that pace thereafter, I am grateful for his effort. Claudio leaves Fulham as our friend and he will undoubtedly experience success again soon. Scott's immediate assignment is merely to help us stabilise, grow and rediscover ourselves as a football club. If Scott can answer that challenge and our players respond to the opportunity, perhaps victories will follow in the months ahead.' Former Moscow Chelski FC manager Ranieri, famously, led Leicester City to a miraculous Premier League title triumph in 2016, but was dismissed by The Foxes just nine months later and was in charge for a season at French Ligue Un sides Nantes. He took over on a 'multi-year' contract at Fulham when The Cottagers were bottom of the table with five points from their opening twelve matches, but failed to oversee a significant upturn in fortunes. Ranieri added: 'I am obviously disappointed with the recent results and that we could not build on the good start we made following my appointment. Finally, I would like to thank the club, the players and the fans for the support they have given me during my time at the club.'
Beth Mead's spectacular winner helped England ladies come from behind to beat Brazil two-one in the opening game of the SheBelieves Cup. The substitute's long-range goal capped a fine comeback after The Lionesses had gone behind early on in Philadelphia. Andressa Alves put Brazil ahead from a controversial penalty after sixteen minutes. But Ellen White levelled from a tight angle early in the second-half, before Mead's brilliant screamer gave Phil Neville's side victory. A year after taking the job, Neville has now won eight of his thirteen games in charge of The Lionesses. Speaking before the match, the former England international said that even though the SheBelieves Cup is an invitational event, the results were 'crucial' with the Women's World Cup only three months away. While it was not a vintage performance from start to finish, his side's second-half showing will give them huge confidence for tough games against World Cup holders USA and Japan, who are in their group at France 2019. England's first-half performance somewhat below-par. They had few clear-cut chances and looked laboured at times, but they may have had reason to feel hard done by after the shockingly poor penalty decision. Legendary Brazilian Marta went on a blistering run into the box and was forced off the ball by Lucy Bronze. And, while England felt it - and television replays subsequently appeared to prove - was a perfectly timed challenge, the referee pointed to the spot and Andressa scored. The second-half was a different story. Just three minutes after the restart, White latched on to a lovely through-ball from Fran Kirby and, even though she was off balance, she managed to find the bottom corner for her fifth goal in the competition. England's dominance continued and substitute Mead secured the win in style with her sensational cross-shot from the right.
Dirty Leeds and the Football Association are investigating after a fan was filmed allegedly using sick racist language and gestures towards Queens Park Strangers supporters on Tuesday. A statement from the Championship club said that it was 'aware' of 'a video circulating on social media.' It continued: 'Racism will absolutely not be tolerated by Leeds United and anyone found to be racially abusive will be banned from attending all games indefinitely.' If not sooner. The Leeds United Supporters' Trust posted on social media: 'We are disappointed to see allegations of racism by a Leeds fan at the QPR game, there is no place for racism on or off the field. This is not a representation of our support base and we will ensure the club are made aware.' Queens Park Strangers said they 'take all accusations of racial abuse very seriously' and that anyone found to be guilty of such abuse will be banned from Loftus Road for life. A statement added: 'The club also received a number of videos showing the alleged offences. These videos have been passed over to the club's dedicated football officer, who will in turn forward them to his counterpart in Leeds. QPR is a family club and will not tolerate such abuse at Loftus Road.' Anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out added that it had contacted both clubs and the FA and 'offered support in any potential investigation.' Dirty Leeds lost the game at Loftus Road one-nil. They would have gone top of the Championship with a victory but instead they are third in the table, two points behind leaders Norwich City with twelve games of the season remaining.
The fuzz in Scotland are investigating reports of alleged sectarian singing at Tynecastle, as well as coin-throwing from Glasgow Celtic fans, during the league leaders' Scottish Premiership win on Wednesday. Footage showed what appeared to be 'an object' almost hitting Hearts goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal during the game, which finished two-one to the league leaders. Police have not confirmed in what area of the ground the singing was reported. But, they have urged anyone with 'information' to contact them. Presumably, that's information related to incident in question not just, general, information - you know, like the fact that La Paz in the capital of Bolivia, for instance? It comes as Police Scotland have warned of a rise in 'sectarianism and consistently thuggish behaviour' at Scottish football. Earlier this month, Kilmarnock striker Kris Boyd criticised Glasgow Celtic fans after being hit by a coin and subjected to sectarian abuse while warming up as substitute during the sides' meeting at Rugby Park. 'It's going to take someone losing an eye or somebody being seriously injured before they do something,' Boyd told BBC Radio Scotland's Sportsound. 'Why not address it before it actually happens. There's an opportunity right now to go in and fix the problem. How we do it? I don't know. I do take that into consideration that it isn't easy to fix.' Glasgow Celtic's victory at Tynecastle, in the first game of Neil Lennon's second stint as manager, was secured thanks to a stoppage-time Odsonne Edouard goal against the ten-man hosts.
Scottish football should lift the alcohol ban at games, says Dundee United's new American owner Mark Ogren. Serious, sick disorder at the 1980 Scottish Cup final between Glasgow Rangers and Glasgow Celtic led to the introduction of the ban. But the Scottish FA, Scottish Government and Police Scotland are all said to be 'considering' a pilot using Euro 2020 games at Hampden. 'It would be nice if the fans could have a beer. In the States, that's part of the entertainment,' Ogren said. 'They socialise, you go out with your friends, and it would be nice for people to have a pint or two because that would enhance the entertainment value.' As it stands, Glasgow would be the only one of twelve Euro 2020 host cities where fans can not buy alcohol in the stadium.
Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos has been given a two-game European ban by UEFA for 'clearly receiving a yellow card on purpose.' Ramos fouled Kasper Dolberg in the eighty ninth minute with Real leading two-one, meaning he is suspended for the second leg. The Spain defender told reporters afterwards that he would be 'lying if I said I didn't force [the booking].' UEFA opened an investigation and gave him with an additional one-match ban for obtained a booking deliberately.
La Liga games will no longer take place on Mondays, says the Spanish FA's president Luis Rubiales. Alaves supporters held a mock funeral during their win over Levante in protest at the match being switched to Monday night for live TV coverage. Alaves fans also protested about fixture changes during their game against Atletico Bilbao, held on a Monday in December. 'Business is important, but fans more so,' Rubiales said on Twitter. He added: 'There will be no more football on Mondays. From next season in La Liga, there will be football on Saturdays and Sundays. We will see what happens on Fridays, if we reach a good agreement for all.' Spanish top-flight games have been played on Mondays since 2010 and while the league's organising body says the matches have 'large television audiences,' they have led to a fall in attendances at the grounds.
How's this for - perhaps, foolish - over-confidence, dear blog reader? The Russian Premier League side FC Ufa are so convinced that they will win their forthcoming home game against Dynamo Moscow on Sunday, they have offered to refund fans' their ticket prices if they should lose. And, 'as a bonus' the club will also offer free tickets to their next home game. 'This suggests that the guys are confident in their abilities,' Ufa general director Shamil Gazizov said. Ufa are currently third from bottom in the league in fourteenth, two places below Dynamo.
Jos Buttler smashed a brilliant century as England edged a thrilling fourth one-day international against West Indies in Grenada despite Chris Gayle's breathtaking on hundred and sixty two in reply. The hosts almost - almost, but not quite - chased down England's four hundred and eighteen for six, Buttler hitting one hundred and fifty off just seventy seven balls, but the tourists held their nerve for a twenty nine-run win as leg-spinner Adil Rashid took four wickets for no runs in the forty eighth over. For large parts of West Indies' astonishing chase, it appeared that Gayle would see them home - the opener hammering fourteen sixes in a memorable knock. Hopes of a historic home win were dented when Ben Stokes dismissed Gayle with sixteen overs remaining - the left-hander bowled attempting one big swipe too many - but Carlos Brathwaite and Ashley Nurse continued the onslaught with an entertaining partnership of eighty eight. West Indies needed a very gettable thirty two runs from eighteen balls at the start of forty eighth over but Rashid dismissed both Brathwaite (fifty off thirty six balls) and Nurse (forty three off forty one) before taking the final two wickets, Devendra Bishoo and Oshane Thomas, neither of whom troubled the scorers. Buttler had earlier hit his highest ODI score with twelve sixes and thirteen fours while captain Eoin Morgan also made one hundred and three. The pair shared a brutal partnership of two hundred and four from one hundred and twenty four deliveries which took England to their third-highest ODI total - one hundred and fifty four runs coming in the final punishing ten overs alone. The victory puts England two-one up in the five-match series with one game remaining, in St Lucia on Saturday. Forty six sixes were hit in the match, the most every in an ODI. England hit a record twenty four sixes in their innings before West Indies almost matched the effort with twenty two in their reply. Eight hundred and seven runs were scored in the match; the third-highest aggregate total in ODI history. Buttler went from fifty to his hundred in just fifteen balls. He took thirty one balls to move from his half century to one hundred and fifty. The fastest ODI hundred was made by South Africa's AB de Villiers from thirty one balls. Gayle scored his hundred from fifty one balls, his fastest ODI century. Morgan became the first England batsman to pass six thousand one-day runs. England were clear favourites at the halfway stage - West Indies needed to make their highest ODI total to win - but few would have predicted what was to come. The momentum swung throughout the hosts' chase but, for large parts, they looked to have the upper hand. After Mark Wood had dismissed both John Campbell and Shai Hope within the first six overs, Gayle took charge and bludgeoned the England attack. The opener was criticised for batting too slowly for his century in the first match of the series but here, on a small ground, he was aggressive from the start, reaching his fifty from thirty two balls. His second fifty runs were even quicker as he brought up three figures from fifty five deliveries with all of the England bowlers, other than Wood, seemingly unable to prevent him from clearing the rope. Gayle scored one hundred and five in a one hundred and seventy six-run partnership with Darren Bravo, who made sixty one and, with those two at the crease West Indies were well ahead of the rate, reaching two hundred and twenty for two from just twenty three overs. Wood returned to dismiss Bravo who miscued a pull shot and had Shimron Hetmyer caught in the deep two balls later, but Gayle continued his big hitting before eventually falling to Stokes. At that stage, England became clear favourites again with Brathwaite - who famously scored four sixes to beat England in the 2016 World Twenty20 final - and Nurse at the crease, but after uncertain starts they continued Gayle's powerful hitting and took their side to the brink of victory. England's performance in the field continued to be somewhat ragged with eleven wides bowled, overthrows conceded and Stokes dropping an admittedly difficult chance in the deep. Rashid had been as guilty as anyone - his first nine overs costing eighty three runs - but Morgan kept faith with his leg-spinner at the death and Rashid responded by removing the lower order with a mix of leg-spinners and googlies. Buttler was at his brutal best with his twelve sixes, many of them full deliveries or low full tosses that were smashed down the ground. The wicket-keeper-batsman came to the crease at one hundred and sixty five for three and batted in a relatively reserved manner at first before exploding at the end of the innings alongside Morgan. The pair added eighty runs between overs forty one and forty four, with Buttler going from his half-century to one hundred and fifty in a mere thirty one deliveries. His knock overshadowed that of his captain but Morgan was also impressive, continuing his fine form by bringing up his century from eighty six balls with a huge hit over mid-wicket. Morgan's ton followed half-centuries in the first two matches of the series and he now averages 108.25 this winter. Credit must also go to England's openers, Jonny Bairstow and Alex Hales, whose rapid century opening partnership allowed Morgan and Buttler to be patient at the beginning of their innings. Hales opened in place of Jason Roy, who had a minor hamstring injury and showed his ability and England's batting depth, with a seventy three-ball eight two. He and Bairstow scored eighty nine from the first ten overs before being dismissed as West Indies slowed the scoring rate during the second powerplay. Bairstow played on to Oshane Thomas for fifty six while Hales was caught on the boundary by Hetmyer running round from long-on off off-spinner Nurse. The game will probably be remembered most for the stunning hitting of Buttler and Gayle - they struck twenty six sixes between them - but the most fascinating moment came after forty seven overs of the West Indies' innings. Who should bowl the next over? Ben Stokes and Liam Plunkett both had two overs left. Rashid had one. Rashid had gone for eighty three from his previous nine overs. Morgan knew Rashid could disappear for a couple of sixes. Nevertheless, he chose Rashid because he backs Rashid's wicket-taking ability. Six balls later, a dramatic game was over. In a match dominated by breathtaking batting, it was a bowler who ultimately decided it.
Meanwhile, England's women staged a superb recovery to earn a consolation two-wicket win over India in the third women's one-day international in Mumbai. Chasing two hundred and six, the tourists slumped to forty nine for five before they were revived by Heather Knight (forty seven) and a maiden ODI half-century from Danielle Wyatt (fifty six). Katherine Brunt fell with two required, but From The North favourite Anya Shrubsole hit her first ball for four to seal a well-deserved victory. India were earlier one hundred and twenty nine for one before Brunt's rapid five for twenty eight helped restrict them to two hundred and five for eight. The home side took the series two-one, but England have avoided what would have been only their second whitewash in India. More importantly, they earn a valuable two points in the International Cricket Council's Women's Championship, climbing to fifth in the table, which would be good enough to qualify for the 2021 World Cup if hosts New Zealand finish in the top four. England now move on to Guwahati for three Twenty20 internationals against India, the first of which is on Monday. Wyatt, dropped for the second match in the series, was only recalled after an injury to left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone. She joined Knight at the crease at the fall of England's fifth wicket, after India new-ball pair Jhulan Goswami and Shikha Pandey had once again been responsible for a destruction of the top order. Aggressive when opening in T20 cricket, Wyatt frustrated Knight by being caught in the deep with the first match of the series in the balance, but here controlled her instincts to successfully support the captain in a stand of sixty nine. Knight accumulated without trouble, but when she edged the leg-spin of Poonam Yadav behind with eighty eight runs still required, England's hopes seemed to depart with her. Wyatt, though, continued to show restraint, finding a willing ally in Georgia Elwiss. They added fifty six before Wyatt could resist no longer and was caught at long-on off Pandey. Elwiss (thirty three not out) and Brunt edged England closer and, even though Brunt pulled Yadav to Punam Raut, Shrubsole's pull for four silenced the partisan crowd. After winning the toss, India looked to be taking full advantage of a fresh surface after Jemimah Rodrigues played onto her stumps off Brunt in the first over. Smriti Mandhana made sixty six and Raut fifty six in a second-wicket stand of one hundred and twenty nine, Mandhana particularly dominant when England's change bowlers dropped short. With England in desperate need for a breakthrough, they returned to Brunt, who immediately persuaded to Mandhana to hole out to square leg before bowling Raut. Mithali Raj was caught off a bat-pad, Mona Meshram LBW and, at the other end, Shrubsole bowled Taniya Bhatia. In all, the India collapse was six wickets for twenty one runs. Deepti Sharma remained and stalled England's progress in the company of Pandey, carefully adding forty seven for the eighth wicket. As runs came more freely at the end and with England not totalling more than one hundred and sixty one in the first two games, India seemed favourites. Indeed, they were winning this game until Knight, Wyatt and Elwiss intervened.
Individual performances in women's cricket have been added to new honours boards at Lord's. The new boards include performances in men's and women's one-day internationals, with centuries and five-wicket hauls listed. Previously, only performances in tests were added and there has yet to be a women's test played at the ground. 'This is a landmark moment, with women's cricket now documented,' MCC chief executive Guy Lavender said. The changes, which are part of extensive refurbishments of the dressing rooms, mean England bowler and From The North favourite Anya Shrubsole's remarkable figures of six for forty six against India in 2017 to win the ICC Women's World Cup, are now included. England's Claire Taylor, Sarah Taylor and Caroline Atkins and Australia's Lisa Keightley are the first women's players to see their names recognised for ODI centuries, while Australia's Cathryn Fitzpatrick and England's Katherine Brunt join Big Anya in being celebrated for five-wicket hauls. Claire Taylor also holds the record for the highest ODI score at Lord's - men's or women's - scoring an unbeaten one hundred and fifty six against India in 2006. Retired internationals Michael Atherton, Ricky Ponting and Muttiah Muralitharan, who all missed out on test honours at Lord's, will also have their names on the boards for achievements in ODIs. Ath scored a fine century for England in a one-day match against the West Indies in 1995, Punter scored one hundred and eleven for Australia in 2005 and, in 1998, Murali recorded figures of five for thirty four for Sri Lanka, ripping through England's top order. Lavender added: 'We are delighted to now be able to recognise the same achievements for one-day internationals as we have done for test matches for many years. There is a huge amount of prestige for players to see their name inscribed in history.'
An allegedly 'controversial' cartoon depicting Serena Williams throwing a tantrum published in an Australian newspaper last year did not breach media standards, a press watchdog has decided. The cartoon shown an angry Williams jumping above a broken racquet next to a baby's dummy after the US Open final. Critics of the cartoon - who, seemingly, didn't have anything more important to whinge about - complained that the caricature allegedly used 'racist and sexist stereotypes' of African-American people. The Australian Press Council noted that 'some' had found the image 'offensive,' but accepted the publisher's defence. Williams sparked controversy during her loss to Naomi Osaka in September for her on-court behaviour where she accused the umpire of sexism and being 'a thief' and, frankly, behaved liked a spoiled brat. The Herald Sun newspaper and cartoonist Mark Knight have consistently called their depiction of the incident a comment on Williams's behaviour, denying that it was either racist or sexist or anything even remotely like it. The press watchdog said that the newspaper had 'sufficient public interest in commenting on behaviour and sportsmanship.' The cartoon 'went viral' in September of last year. The National Association of Black Journalists in the US denounced it as 'repugnant on many levels.' Complaints centred around the portrayal of Williams with 'large lips, a broad flat nose and [being] positioned in an ape-like pose,' said the watchdog. This contrasted with the depiction of Osaka, whose father is Haitian and mother Japanese, 'as white with blonde hair.' However, the watchdog ruled that the cartoon did 'not depict Ms Williams as an ape, rather showing her as "spitting the dummy," a non-racist caricature familiar to most Australian readers.' Spitting the dummy is an Australian colloquialism for someone who reacts to a situation in a bad-tempered or petulant manner, particularly in a sporting context. Knight told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that he was 'very happy' about the watchdog's ruling.
The world number one bridge player has been suspended after failing a drugs test. Geir Helgemo, who is Norwegian but represents Monaco in bridge events, tested positive for synthetic testosterone and the female fertility drug clomifene at a World Bridge Series event in Orlando in September. After accepting he had breached anti-doping rules, Helgemo was suspended by the World Bridge Federation until 20 November. He also had all titles, medals and points from the 2018 World Bridge Series revoked. Kari-Anne Opsal, president of the Norwegian Bridge Federation, suggested that the drugs were 'not performance enhancing.' No shit? In a statement on the federation's website, she said: 'Geir Helgemo … has previously played for the Norwegian national team and is our biggest star. Many within the bridge community know Geir and respect him. It is his responsibility not to take substances that are on the doping list, even though in this instance they are not performance enhancing in bridge. I feel for Geir in this situation and hope he will come back stronger after his ban ends.'
Fire crews have extinguished an 'uge blaze on moorland in West Yorkshire. The fire, described by one witness as 'apocalyptic,' started on Tuesday evening and covered about one-and-a-half square kilometres of land near Marsden. West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue said that it was 'one of the biggest moorland fires we've ever had to deal with.' It came as the UK broke the record for the warmest winter day for a second time and on the same day as a gorse fire on Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh. Following a night spent tackling the blaze, near Saddleworth Moor between Huddersfield and Manchester, a fire service spokesperson said: 'The fire now looks to be out.' However, they said that crews and specialist moorland firefighting units 'will remain at the scene for much of the day to tackle any further hot spots.' At its height, more than thirty five firefighters were in attendance at the National Trust property and the A62 between Colne Valley and Diggle was closed as a precaution. Station manager Adam Greenwood said when crews arrived about four square kilometres of moorland was ablaze. 'It was one of the highest flame fronts we have seen, with flames of up to two metres high, and it was moving fast across the moorland,' he said. 'The fire looks to be out however moorland fires can easily reignite so it's important that we monitor it closely. We expect to be at the moors for much of the day.' There have been no reports of any injuries. People living near to the scene have been advised to stay indoors and keep their doors and windows closed. And, turn their central heating down. Probably. But the fire service said 'risks to health are low.' BBC Yorkshire climate correspondent Paul Hudson said that, like much of the UK, the region had faced unseasonal winter temperatures. He said: 'These kind of temperatures, eighteen or nineteen degrees are what you would normally see in early June. There's been a prolonged abnormally warm spell and we've also had an exceptionally dry start to 2019.' Station commander Tony Pearson said that moor fires in February were 'very unusual but not unheard of. We've had a few dry days and it's dried the land out a little bit.' He described the location as 'horrendous' as it took firefighters an hour to get there due to the terrain. Pearson said: 'It was really uneven ground, really difficult working conditions on there.' Mike Elliot, from the National Trust, said the heather on the moorland had 'only just re-established itself' after a similar - though less dramatic - blaze about three years ago. He said: 'It's gradually got back to its normal self, but unfortunately it's going to have to start again. What we're doing here is trying to stabilise the moorland with all the heather as that keeps all the peat out of the watercourse.' The Edinburgh gorse fire broke out at a similar time on Tuesday evening and two large fires started within an hour of each other in the Ashdown Forest in East Sussex earlier in the day. In June and July last year, firefighters from twenty different brigades were drafted in to help tackle two huge moorland fires which burned for several weeks. Firefighters spent more than a month battling a huge fire covering eighteen square kilometres near Bolton. The Army was drafted in to help Greater Manchester crews deal with a blaze on Saddleworth Moor in Tameside.
Speaking of unseasonably warm weather and unusual things which occur because of it, dear blog reader, be advised that yellow and purple things are currently growing on some waste ground outside Stately Telly Topping Manor. In February. Pretty, though, let it be noted.
Weekend lie-ins do not make up for being sleep-deprived during the week, a study suggests. Which is a bit of a blow, frankly. Researchers 'took two groups of healthy people' and 'limited their sleep to no more than five hours a night.' You know, for a laugh. One group had their sleep restricted for the whole study, while the other was able to catch-up at the weekend. Both groups 'snacked more at night, gained weight and showed signs of deteriorating metabolic health,' compared to the start of the study. 'In the end, we didn't see any benefit in any metabolic outcome in the people who got to sleep in on the weekend,' said lead author Chris Depner, an assistant research professor of integrative physiology at the University of Colorado Boulder. And, once again, let us stand up and salute the utter crap that some people not only chose to care about but also, seemingly, get paid to study! Research has shown that too little sleep can increase the risk of a range of health problems, including obesity and type-two diabetes - although that doesn't explain yer actual Keith Telly Topping's possession of both given that he always manages a good eight hours a night - in part by boosting the urge to snack at night and by decreasing insulin sensitivity, or the ability of the body to regulate blood sugar. For this new 'study' - which some less charitable people might regard to quasi-torture - researchers wanted to find out what happens when people cycle back and forth between a sleep-deprived work week and two days of catch-up. At least, that was their excuse and they're sticking to it. They took thirty six people, aged eighteen to thirty nine and, for two weeks, kept them in a laboratory, where their food intake, light exposure and sleep were monitored. Although the numbers may appear small, experts claim this was 'quite a large number of participants' for a sleep study of this kind. Participants were divided into three groups: One was allowed no more than five hours per night over nine nights; the second was allowed no more than five hours for five days followed by a weekend when they could sleep as much as they liked before returning to two days of restricted sleep and a third was allowed plenty of time to sleep - nine hours each night for nine nights. Both of the sleep-restricted groups gained a small amount of weight over the course of the study and became less sensitive to insulin, according to the study, published in the journal Current Biology. Whilst those in the recovery group saw mild improvements at the weekend (including reduced night-time snacking), those benefits 'went away' when the sleep-restricted work week resumed. On some health measures, the weekend recovery group had worse outcomes. Insulin sensitivity declined by thirteen per cent in the sleep-restricted group, while in the weekend recovery group it worsened by between nine and twenty seven per cent. One problem was that the people who were given the opportunity to catch up on sleep struggled to do so. In the end, the recovery group achieved only sixty six minutes more sleep on average at the weekend. Alleged 'experts' not involved in the research said that although the effects on health shown in the study were small, it was 'possible' that over months and years the impact 'could become large.' They said that the findings 'reinforced existing advice' that it is important to sleep enough during the week and ideally keep a regular sleep schedule. But, if you are unable to keep to a regular sleep and wake time, it does not mean a lie-in is, necessarily, bad for you. The study focused on how sleep restriction and catching up on rest at the weekend affects metabolic health, rather than, for example, mental health or cognitive ability. Malcolm von Schantz, professor of chronobiology at the University of Surrey, added: 'Whilst I think we should urge everybody to work towards a regular schedule if they can, I don't think we should tell people who don't have that luxury that they mustn't sleep in during the weekend.'
The first privately financed mission to the Moon has lifted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida. The Israeli robot was put on a lunar path by a Falcon rocket - a trip that will take two months. Beresheet, as it is known, will attempt to land on the lunar surface, take pictures and conduct some experiments. Various members of the Labour party immediately whinged about alleged 'Israeli expansionism' but denied that they were being antisemitic. Oh no, very hot water. Only government space agencies from the US, Russia and China have previously managed soft touchdowns. SpaceIL, the non-profit organisation behind the project, hopes that Beresheet ('In the beginning' in Hebrew) will prove 'an inspiration' to all those who follow its progress. 'Exactly in the moment that the Falcon Nine was crossing the horizon, the Moon rose at Cape Canaveral - which I think was quite symbolic to this journey of getting the first Israeli rocket ship to the Moon,' SpaceIL co-founder Yonatan Winetraub told BBC News. Beresheet grew out of the Google Lunar XPRIZE, which offered financial incentives in 2007 to any non-government-funded team that could pull off a Moon landing. None of the groups which entered the competition managed to meet its deadlines and the offer of prize money was withdrawn, but several of the participants did promise to keep working on their ideas, SpaceIL among them. If the one hundred million dollar Beresheet craft can get down safely, it will take photos to send back to Earth and engage in some magnetic investigations. The targeted landing site is in a Northern-hemisphere lava plain called Mare Serenitatis, where magnetic anomalies are known to exist. The robot's on-board magnetometer device will acquire measurements - and not just in one location, because Beresheet will, some hours after landing, hop to a new spot. Professor Oded Aharonson, of the Weizmann Institute, leads Beresheet's science team. The Moon does not generate a global magnetic field, but on the surface, various areas or rocks are magnetic at different levels. 'If we can measure the magnetism of these rocks, we can begin to understand how and when this magnetism arose,' the professor explained. Winetraub added: 'Also, we have another instrument in a collaboration with NASA. That is a retroreflector [a device that reflects light back to its source] and that will join an array of reflectors that was already put on the Moon by the Apollo missions and that will be used for their purposes to measure distances and lunar dynamics.' It Is planned for Beresheet to keep operating for about two days on the lunar surface. The success of the mission will depend in large part on the spacecraft's UK-sourced Leros engine. his type of power unit, developed by Nammo in Wescott, Buckinghamshire, is normally found firing on geostationary telecommunications satellites as they lift themselves to the right part of the sky over Earth after coming off the top of a launch rocket. But Nammo's engineers have adapted the Leros for Beresheet, shortening its nozzle and increasing its thrust. The engine will do the job of pushing the robot out to the Moon from Earth, making sure the spacecraft is captured in lunar orbit and then taking the probe gently down to the surface. The Leros unit will also execute the five hundred metre 'hop' across Mare Serenitatis. One of the attractions of the Leros is that it can handle multiple, so-called 'hot re-starts,' says Nammo propulsion team leader Rob Westcott. 'Normally, when people use our engines they will start them up and leave them running for hours at a time before shutting them down for perhaps days, even weeks,' he explained. 'This gives an engine plenty of time to cool down. In this case, however, SpaceIL wanted to fire up the engine, stop it and then fire it again after just a few seconds while it is still very hot. They need this for the landing and hopping phases.' Whatever happens, Beresheet will go down as a pathfinder. Other privately funded lunar spacecraft are set to follow it. Both the US and European space agencies have stated their intention to use commercial landers to deliver some of their scientific payloads to the Moon.
A new image from Japan's Hayabusa-Two spacecraft reveals a dark splodge where it touched down on the surface of an asteroid last week. The discolouration could have been caused by grit being blown upwards by the spacecraft's thrusters, or by the bullet it fired into the ground. The purpose of the touchdown on asteroid Ryugu was to collect samples of rock for eventual delivery to Earth. Hayabusa-Two arrived at Ryugu in June 2018 after a three billion kilometre journey. During sample collection, the spacecraft approached the one kilometre-wide asteroid with an instrument called 'The Sampler Horn.' Yes, dear blog reader, it is a funny name. But, anyway, on touchdown, a five gram 'bullet' made of the metal tantalum was fired into the rocky surface at three hundred metres-per-second. The particles kicked up by the impact should have been be caught by The Sampler Horn. Still a funny name and getting funnier every time one uses it, frankly. The spacecraft then ascended to its home position of about twenty kilometre distance from the asteroid's surface. The image is further, visual confirmation that the touchdown proceeded to plan. Hayabusa-Two had, earlier, dropped a small, reflective, beanbag-like 'target marker' on to Ryugu. This was used as a guide as the spacecraft descended to the rough surface of the asteroid. Controllers were aiming for the centre of a circle, some six metres in diameter, located about four to five metres away from the target marker. The Japanese space agency had originally planned to carry out the touchdown operation in October last year. But images showed 'numerous, hefty boulders' on the surface, making it more difficult for mission scientists to find a location that was large and flat enough to sample. Controllers at JAXA had hoped they would have an area of about one hundred metres in diameter to target. But because of Ryugu's rugged surface features, this had to be reduced to a six metre circle for what team members were describing as 'a pinpoint touchdown.' The Sampler Horn - yes, it's still funny - that extends out from the bottom of the spacecraft has a length of one metre. It was, therefore, vital to choose a landing location devoid of boulders more than fifty centimetres in height, to reduce the likelihood that the body of the spacecraft could hit a rock.
Graffiti marks made by Roman soldiers near Hadrian's Wall are being recorded before they weather away. Inscriptions in a quarry at Gelt Woods near Brampton in Cumbria were made by Romans who were repairing the wall and were discovered in the Eighteenth Century. Known as 'The Written Rock of Gelt,' the markings include a caricature of the quarry's commanding officer. Archaeologists from Newcastle University are producing a 3D record of the writings. They are working with climbing experts to drop thirty feet down the quarry face to capture the markings using structure-from-motion photogrammetry. The public used to be able to access the writings until the 1980s when a path collapsed. Historic England said that the site is 'one of only a handful of Roman quarries in England to feature these kinds of inscriptions' documenting rebuilding and repair work. It gives the names of a group of men and, in some instances, their rank and military units. One inscription reads - Apro Et Maximo Consvlibvs Oficina Mercati - which roughly translates as 'In the consulship of Aper and Maximus.' These were consuls or diplomats of the Roman Empire in early third century. One of the archaeologists at the site says that it may depict 'an unfortunate accident.' They have found a pristine relief of a man's head and shoulders, the name Gaius and an arrow pointing downwards. Archaeologists have also found a carving of a phallus, which was a good luck symbol in Roman times. As, indeed, it still is today for some of us. It is a difficult job for the archaeologists, who are suspended over nine metres down the quarry face and are being pushed and pulled into position by safety experts. The photographs they are taking will mean that the carvings can be seen by members of he public who are unable to visit this inaccessible corner of Cumbria. Mike Collins from Historic England said: 'These inscriptions at Gelt Forest are probably the most important on the Hadrian's Wall frontier. They provide insight into the organisation of the vast construction project that Hadrian's Wall was, as well as some very human and personal touches, such as the caricature of their commanding officer inscribed by one group of soldiers.' Ian Haynes, a professor of archaeology at Newcastle University said: 'These inscriptions are very vulnerable to further gradual decay. This is a great opportunity to record them as they are in 2019, using the best modern technology to safeguard the ability to study them into the future.'
Six out of eight critical IT systems required to allow the UK's borders to function under any potential no-deal Brexit are 'in danger of not being ready in time,' Whitehall's spending watchdog has found. The government really haven't thought this thing through, have they? The National Audit Office has also concluded that with a mere thirty days to go before the UK is due to leave the EU, the readiness of UK's businesses are 'a red-rated risk' if the government crashes out of Europe without any deal. The findings were released on Wednesday evening in a memo sent to the public accounts committee. Meg Hillier, the chair of the committee, said that 'serious questions remained' about whether the UK would be prepared at the border and what this would mean for individuals and businesses. 'It is alarming that six of the eight critical IT systems needed are in danger of not being ready in time and that government assesses readiness of traders as one of its most significant risks,' she said. No shit. The report examined eight systems at the border across departments including HM Revenue and Customs, DEFRA, the Food Standards Agency and the Department for International Trade. One IT project, the Automatic Licence Verification System - which was meant to allow the importation of regulated horticultural, plants, live animals and animal products - had 'deteriorated' since last September, the report found. The Import of Products, Animals, Food and Feed System, developed to control the importation of animals and high-risk food and feed from the EU, 'still had the same risk profile' as six months ago, auditors said. Auditors noted that this month civil servants rated the risk to trader readiness as 'red-rated.' That's, you know, really fucking bad just in case you were wondering. 'A survey of external readiness commissioned by government in December 2018 found that thirty one per cent of businesses cited lack of knowledge as a barrier preventing preparedness, and that fifty per cent of small businesses were yet to take action to prepare for no deal,' the report said. So, time to start hoarding food-stuffs and refridgeating bottled water, then? A government spokesperson claimed that the report showed 'real progress had been made' at the UK's borders. 'We have also taken steps to minimise disruption through phasing in certain checks required at the border and continuing to apply the risk-based approach to customs checks we use today,' he added. 'The necessary resources we need to keep the border secure will be in place, including an additional nine hundred Border Force officers by March 2019, and we've been communicating extensively with businesses about the steps they need to take to prepare.'
Meanwhile, the government will pay thirty three million quid - of your and my money, dear blog readers - to Eurotunnel in 'an agreement' to settle a lawsuit over extra ferry services in the event of a no-deal Brexit. In December, the Department for Transport contracted three suppliers to provide additional freight capacity for lorries. Eurotunnel said the contracts were handed out in 'a secretive way.' As part of the agreement, Eurotunnel has agreed to make 'some improvements' to its terminal. One of the firms awarded a contract, Seaborne Freight, has already had its deal extremely cancelled after the Irish company backing it pulled out. Shortly after it was awarded the contract, the BBC discovered that Seaborne had no ships and had never run a ferry service previously. Something which the government minister in charge of this fiasco, Chris Grayling, appeared to be blithely unaware of. Which was - and remains - to put it bluntly, a sodding disgrace. Transport Secretary Grayling has been heavily - one means, Giant Haystack's, heavily - criticised for the Seaborne deal, which would have been worth nearly fourteen million knicker. In January, Eurotunnel wrote to Grayling to complain that it had 'not been considered' when the contracts were awarded. It argued that, unlike Seaborne, it has actually run a cross-Channel ferry service (MyFerryLink, which closed in 2015) and should have been approached. In a statement accompanying the agreement, Grayling weaselled: 'While it is disappointing that Eurotunnel chose to take legal action on contracts in place to ensure the smooth supply of vital medicines, I am pleased that this agreement will ensure the Channel Tunnel is ready for a post-Brexit world.'
Charity 'girl power' T-shirts sold in the UK are made at a Bangladeshi factory where more than one hundred impoverished workers claim to have been sacked after striking in protest at low wages, the Gruniad Morning Star has revealed. The twenty eight quid garments are sold online by F=, which claims to be 'all about inspiring and empowering girls,' with ten knicker from each T-shirt donated to Worldreader, a charity that supplies digital books to poverty-stricken children in Africa. Witless blonde thing Holly Willoughby recently reposted a 2017 picture of herself and former (and future) Spice Girl Emma Bunton wearing such T-shirts. The Gruniad has 'established' that the garments were made by Bangladeshi firm Dird Composite Textiles, where some workers earn as little as forty two pence-per-hour and complain of alleged 'harassment.' In one case, a female employee was reportedly 'beaten' on the orders of the management and 'threatened with murder.' After being contacted by the Gruniad (and, presumably, sneered at in that curiously condescending Middle Class hippy Communist way which the Gruniad specialises in), F= stopped selling the T-shirts and Worldreader pledged to cease accepting donations 'until the situation is resolved.' Machinists at the factory say they have been sacked en masse after striking over wages in January. They are among more than seven thousand employees at twenty seven factories in Bangladesh who have lost their jobs in recent weeks, according to union leaders, amid widespread protests and strike action over the imposition of a new minimum wage - which 'critics' (and, by critics, we actually mean 'some people at the Gruniad Morning Star') argue is 'too low' - for the country's garment industry. The new minimum wage for the sector is eight thousand taka (around seven one quid) per month, half what the sixteen thousand campaigners had been demanding and well short of living wage estimates. Meanwhile, some higher-grade factory workers who already earned more than eight thousand taka a month received only small increases, it is claimed. Kalpona Akter, executive director of the Bangladesh Centre for Worker Solidarity, who worked as a child labourer in textile factories, said: 'The huge number of dismissals over wage protests shows how workers’ voices have been suppressed and how they are lacking freedom of expression. The workers that got fired know the law and their rights. In many cases they were union leaders in their respective factories. These workers are picked intentionally so there is no voice left in a factory to fight against retaliation and form a union.' Dird insists that the workers who left 'resigned of their own volition.' One or two people even believed them. Actually, no that's not true, no one with a single ounce of brains between their ears believed them. The Fair Wear Foundation, a membership organisation paid by brands to improve working conditions, is investigating after a complaint was received about the workers' plight at Dird's factory. The news comes after the Gruniad revealed last month that an 'outspoken' worker at the same factory claimed she was beaten up on the orders of management and threatened with murder. The woman, who sat on the factory's anti-harassment committee, claimed that she was robbed of her severance pay and told that if she protested she would be 'killed and her body put in a cardboard box,' according to an FWF report. The factory initially denied the allegations, but, later, extremely sacked the HR manager and paid the woman over sixty eight thousand taka in compensation after pressure from FWF. A separate Gruniad investigation last month 'revealed' how Spice Girls T-shirts sold to raise money for Comic Relief were also made by Bangladeshi women at a different factory earning thirty five pence an hour, who claimed they suffered harassment and were forced to work up to sixteen hours a day. Stop right now, thank you very much. After witless plank Willoughby reposted the picture of herself and Bunton wearing the 'girl power' T-shirts recently, the Twitter feed of F= shared the picture and said the items were 'in huge demand.' Representatives for Willoughby and Bunton unsurprisingly 'declined to comment,' but the Gruniad claim is 'understood' neither was paid to wear the garments or post them on social media. F='s website claims that they are 'made in a Fair Wear Foundation certified factory, which means it is vetted for good working conditions and fair wages and by using organic cotton we drastically reduce the use of water.' The shirts are made by Stanley/Stella, the same Belgian brand which made the Spice Girls T-shirts. The Gruniad claims it 'has established,' via a code printed on the label, that the garments were made at Dird Composite’s factory in Bangladesh. An FWF spokeswoman said: 'Over one hundred workers claim to have lost their jobs. We did indeed meet with the factory and Stanley/Stella. There were some discrepancies between what we heard from the factory management and the complainants' stories and their personal files. The factory is in the process of paying legal entitlements, such as due salaries, provident fund and severance pay to all the workers concerned. FWF and Stanley/Stella will keep a close eye on this.' Danielle Newnham, who founded F= with her sister, said: 'We have asked Stanley/Stella about these reported resignations - they have explained that this only happened recently and is being investigated by the Fair Wear Foundation and Stanley/Stella's country manager in Dhaka. To clarify, we print our T-shirts here in the UK, but we are always concerned if anyone is treated badly - our entire mission is based on empowerment and if we receive evidence of poor treatment, we would look for another supplier immediately. All the research we have done in the past showed Stanley/Stella to be one of the best manufacturers both in terms of sustainability and working conditions they urge their suppliers to uphold, hence we used them. However, we are wholly dedicated to empowerment and have therefore closed our entire shop whilst any issues are being looked into.' A Worldreader spokesman said: 'Worldreader was saddened to hear about the conditions in the factory where these shirts were produced. Prior to accepting donations from the sales of "Girl Power" T-shirts, we entered into a contract that ensured the shirts were "Fair Wear certified." Worldreader has agreed with F= that we will cease accepting donations from the sale of these shirts until the situation is resolved.' A Stanley/Stella spokesman said: 'In any country facing fast economic development, some progress is still to be made with regards to social compliance. Wages are still too low, even after a forty to fifty per cent increase last December and overtime is often needed to support the normal living wage. Unfortunately, some gender discrimination can also be found. However, by producing garments in Bangladesh, responsible European brands - like Stanley/Stella - can drive a positive change.' Dird's group managing director, Nabeel Ud Daulah, said claimed the company operated 'with the highest regard for ethical and moral standards' and denied any suppression or 'targeting' of worker representatives. He said that the staff who left resigned 'because they were not satisfied with the new wage structure that was announced by the Bangladesh government' and that 'all workers that resigned have either received their due financial entitlements or have been contacted to collect their due entitlements.' Pointing to benefits provided to workers, including scholarships for their children, insurances and bonuses, he added: 'We take such allegations extremely seriously and have provided full disclosure and cooperation to Fair Wear Foundation.'
Cheddar remains 'Le Grand Fromage' with UK consumers - but continental varieties are taking a large slice of the market as popularity for the exotic continues to grow. With over a third of consumers viewing soft continental cheeses, such as Brie or Camembert, as 'good for special occasions,' sales rose by over six per cent in the first half of last year. But cheese-lovers don't have to look too far from home to satisfy their taste-buds with the UK now producing over seven hundred different varieties of cheese - more than France and Switzerland combined. This blogger likes a nice bit of Red Leicester his very self. Just, you know, in case you were wondering. Mind you, he also admires a chunk of Port Salut on his buttered crackers too. He's a man of many cheeses. Anyway, this hunger for more exotic flavours could provide further opportunities for the dairy industry, according to a new report from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. It reveals that Cheddar 'continues to be the nation's most popular cheese,' accounting for around half of UK cheese sales - with eighty six per cent of households purchasing it in the three months to October 2018, according to Kantar Worldpanel. However, sales of this great British favourite have failed to keep pace with the overall market over the past year. AHDB's analyst, Amey Brassington, said: 'In contrast, continental cheeses enjoyed volume and value growth, with sales volumes of hard continental cheeses up by six per cent and soft continental cheese up by 6.4 per cent in the year to July 2018. Whatever your preference, what's clear is that despite calls by a minority to reduce dairy intake, cheese is considered a staple food in the UK. According to Mintel, nearly ninety per cent of consumers eat cheese every month and two-thirds eat cheese at least twice a week.' According to Kantar Worldpanel, almost ninety nine per cent of the UK population bought some cheese at least once in the fifty two weeks to July 2018, with value sales up 3.7 per cent during this period, making it 'a strong year for cheese.' Amey added: 'Great Britain is well-known for its Cheddar production, but as the Great British cheese board has evolved to a more continental scene, so too has UK cheese production. While our own beloved British Cheddar looks set to stay, the hunger for more exotic flavours could provide further opportunities for the production of more continental-style cheeses and a boost for the territorials.'
A school admissions officer 'kicked a constable in the groin' - really hard - during 'a violent rage' in an airport departures lounge after being told she was 'too drunk to fly' for her 'dream' fiftieth birthday break. Grandmother Alison Yorston reportedly 'got intoxicated' on Prosecco while waiting to board an Emirates flight to Dubai for what she called 'the holiday of a lifetime' with her daughter. Cabin crew refused to let her on the aircraft after she stumbled toward Gate Twelve at Manchester Airport in high heels and was the last passenger to arrive for the flight. Later, as the company director's wife was waiting for her baggage to be taken off the holiday jet, police had to be called when she began pushing and prodding ground crew, screaming: 'They've ruined my holiday - I'm going to board that fucking plane.' Yorston 'flailed her arms around wildly' and warned intervening officers that her brother-in-law was a police sergeant before kicking one of the constables in the knackers. During a struggle, she fell to the concrete floor 'in a drunken stupor,' breaking her right arm in three places in the process. Police body cam audio footage taped Yorston as she screamed: 'This was a special present for me. Why you fucking breaking my arm? Don't fucking touch me. I will fucking see him. What's your number? It was not an accident, oh my God, there was no accident. The police officers broke my arm. I'm asking for your number because you broke my fucking arm.' Yorston, from Sale, extremely appeared in the dock at Manchester Magistrates' Court with her arm in a sling and wept as she was ordered to wear an electronic tag after admitting common assault and a public order offence. She was convicted of a third charge of assaulting a policeman and was sentenced to a six-month community order, must wear the tag under the terms of a 7pm to 7am curfew and was also ordered to pay seven hundred and thirty five quid court costs. 'It is thought she is about to lose her employment at a local high school,' reports the Daily Scum Mail. Prosecutor Richard Stone said: 'She had some drink before she went to the airport and whilst in the departures lounge she and her daughter shared a bottle of Prosecco. When it came to boarding the plane, staff refused to allow her to board. During her interview, Mrs Yorston stated she had shared a bottle of Prosecco before going to the gate, she said she was five on a scale of one-to-ten of how drunk she was. She said she was wobbling due to the shoes she was wearing. She has admitted to swearing and being abusive and being concerned with prodding and pushing staff. She said it was the police who were attacking her. She said she was on the phone to her daughter when the police stopped her. She said it was not her intention to hit the officer, she was just kicking out. She may not have known the intention but the act was reckless in doing so.' Giving evidence, PC Martin Sharrocks said: 'There were three to four members of staff and a female who was staggering around and waving her arms and shouting abuse. She was using quite a few "F" words. She was shouting something along the lines of "it's the fucking police" or words to that effect. She then sat down on the seats and sat on her phone. I became aware she had been offloaded and one of the airline staff said "other than slap me a few times" so I believed he had been assaulted. I approached Miss Yorston but she was irate, swearing and screaming "fuck off," then she started using her phone and dialling trying to make a phone call. She was drunk and there was a very strong smell of alcohol that I could smell a metre away. I approached her initially as we needed to calm her down and I wasn't intending to arrest her. I then took hold of her arm and took her phone off her to calm her down for her own safety and everybody else. But she was waving her arms around and threatening and shouting abuse at other people around. She was telling me to "fuck off" and she said something about informing her brother-in-law as he was a Police Sergeant and she said he was going to "fuck me over." I had hold of her right arm and I was sat in front of her. I was trying to explain that she wasn't getting into that flight and that I didn't want to arrest her and I kept telling her to calm down. At this stage, I don't know how it happened but she managed to go towards me and either pushed or kicked me away and in doing so, I was impacted on my inner thigh into my testicles. She was then going to be arrested, I didn't have any other option. I then shouted "on the floor." I don't know whether she lunged forward or slumped forward but she went to the floor. At the time it seemed she wasn't aware of her arm breaking and she continued to abuse us and told us to get off her. But, at this stage I knew the arm was damaged and we needed medical assistance. We tried to keep her still as she was kicking out so we put her in leg restraints. We told her that her arm was broken and she started shouting "you've broke my fucking arm." I did try to speak to her as I approached her. I didn't go in guns blazing. I had been told she had been slapping the staff.' PC Amy Barratt, a Counter Terrorism Officer at Manchester Airport added: 'She was shouting and swearing and waving her arms excitedly at staff. She was saying something along the lines of "you fucking dicks have ruined my holiday" and then she mentioned it was something to do with her fiftieth birthday. She was waving her arms and making contact with staff. There were a few scratches. I saw PC Sharrocks and he was about to inform her she was about to be arrested when she started flailing her arms around and swearing. She was angry and aggressive and her arms were going everywhere. PC Sharrocks was trying to reason with her. She was not happy. She had high heels on and kicked out at him making contact. He said to her "that really hurt." She was constantly swearing and telling us to get off and saying how she had done nothing wrong. Then her whole body lunged forward and we fell to the floor. I heard a loud snap, it sounded like a pair of glasses breaking.' Yorston claimed: 'My reason for stumbling was because I was wearing high heeled shoes and I was unsteady whilst walking. I admit I was abusive towards staff and I prodded them but I was very upset and emotional as I couldn't go on the holiday of a lifetime, it was a gift and contributions from family and friends. I felt let down and disappointed. Now I feel ashamed, it's not in my character to be like that and I have apologised for my behaviour. The officer approached me and grabbed me by the arm and then grabbed my wrist but he didn't explain why he was doing this to me, he was aggressive and forceful. I was just waving my arms about saying: "what's going on, why am I in this position?" I didn't kick out and I didn't lunge. After that there was a bit of commotion and I heard a crack and I was on the floor. I was taken to hospital and told my elbow was snapped in three places. I was annoyed, emotional, upset and in excruciating pain. I had to have two surgeries.' She added: 'I told my family to go, I didn't want them to stay with me. The staff didn't want me to get on the plane because I couldn't walk in my heels. I wasn't going on holiday and that was a normal reaction. I wasn't drunk, I was angry and upset. I was annoyed when the police turned up. I didn't want anything to do with them. There probably was a red mist and I probably wasn't listening. I don't agree that my own actions let to my misfortune, there was somebody else to blame for my injury.' Her lawyer Paul Shepherd said: 'She is currently off work sick, she hasn't been able to work and her employment is coming to an end. She has no alcohol or drug issues. This was totally out of character for her.'
The first British-led expedition to gather meteorites in the Antarctic has returned with a haul of thirty six space rocks. Which might not sound a lot but, it's more than thirty five. Manchester University's Doctor Katherine Joy was dropped in the deep field along with British Antarctic Survey guide Julie Baum for four weeks. The pair spent their days near the Shackleton mountains running across the ice sheet in skidoos looking for out-of-place objects. The meteorites ranged from tiny flecks to some that were as big as a melon. Some two-thirds of the meteorites in the world's collections have been picked up in the Antarctic. It is the contrast of black on white that makes the continent such a productive hunting ground. 'As soon as you spot a black rock you know. You dart towards it and your heart picks up a beat,' Doctor Joy told the BBC News website. 'They look black because they're burnt up as they come down through Earth's atmosphere. They have a very characteristic exterior colour and they have a kind of cracked surface where that exterior has expanded and contracted during the violent atmospheric entry.' Other nations have long sent expeditions to the polar South to look for space rocks. The US and Japan have been doing it regularly since the 1970s. China, South Korea, Italy, and Belgium also frequently dispatch teams. But this was the first all UK mission, funded by the Leverhulme Trust and it means the thirty six samples will all now come back to Britain for investigation. Meteorites trace their origin to the asteroids and smaller chunks of rocky debris left over from the formation of the Solar System over four billion years ago. As such, they have much to tell us about the conditions that existed when the planets came into being. Not only does the black-on-white contrast make for easier prospecting in the Antarctic, but hunters also get a helping hand from the way the ice sheet moves. Meteorites that crash in the continent's high interior are buried and transported towards the coast, ultimately to be dumped in the ocean. But if this conveyor happens to run into a barrier on the way - such as a range of mountains - the ice will be forced upwards and scoured by winds to reveal its cargo. Expeditions will therefore concentrate their searches in these special 'stranding zones.' And, although the places visited by Doctor Joy and Baum had not been explored previously, they had very good reason to be optimistic when they set out. The Manchester-BAS venture was a trial ahead of another deployment in the next field season that will try to target specific types of objects that seem systematically to be underrepresented in Antarctic finds. These are the iron meteorites. The irons come from the smashed up innards of early planetary bodies that grew big enough to have metal cores, just like Earth has today. 'When people search elsewhere, in the dry deserts of the Earth for example, they find a much higher proportion of iron meteorites,' explained Manchester mathematician Doctor Geoff Evatt. 'It's about five per cent, whereas in Antarctica it's about 0.5 per cent. We've come along and said: "We think we can explain this statistical difference."' The hypothesis is that the distribution of objects is exactly the same in Antarctica - it is just that the irons don't come to the surface in the same manner as the stony meteorites. The way metal conducts heat means any irons that rise upwards and encounter sunlight will soon melt their way back down through the ice. Doctor Evatt's calculations suggest many of these objects should be just thirty centimetres or so below surface. Which is why while Doctor Joy was picking up stony space rocks in East Antarctica, she was in the west of the continent testing equipment that can look deep into the ice to sense the presence of metal. 'What we have done is design a wide-array metal-detector. It's essentially a five metre-wide series of panels that we can drag behind the skidoo,' he said. 'In real-time, we're able to sense what's going on underneath the surface of the ice. And if an iron object passes under the panels then some lights and some audio equipment flashes up on the skidoo and we can then go out and hopefully retrieve the meteorite that's within the ice.' Doctor Evatt tested the system at a location called Sky-Blu, which has similar ice to meteorite stranding zones but is much nearer to the engineering assistance of BAS's big Rothera station than Doctor Joy's far-off search sites. The array worked well and the team will take it to the Arctic next month for some final tweaks before using it in anger in just under a year's time. But even if this 'missing meteorite' hypothesis doesn't work out, Doctor Joy believes her new hoard of space rocks demonstrates the value of regular expeditions. 'I would hope that we've validated the idea that going to Antarctica to collect meteorites in the places that BAS can get us to is working well,' she told the BBC. 'I'd like to think the people who are funding environmental science and space science will see this as a long-term opportunity for the UK. Potentially what's out there are unique meteorites that come from bodies we've not yet visited with space missions, or unique pieces of Mars or the Moon that unlock untold secrets about how those planets have evolved. I'd like to take more people down, train the scientists how to collect meteorites safely and bring them back to the UK for research.' Doctor Joy's own collection isn't yet back in Manchester. The rocks are are taking the slower route home by ship. The box should arrive in the city in June.
A plaque which 'erased' a celebrated Nineteenth Century diarist's lesbian identity has been 'corrected.' The plaque honouring Anne Lister was unveiled at Holy Trinity Church in York, where she took the sacrament in 1834 with her lesbian lover, Ann Walker. It originally described her as 'gender non-conforming,' prompting an online petition to change the wording, which had 'nothing to do with sexuality.' York Civic Trust agreed and grovellingly apologised, unveiling the new plaque this week. he petition, which attracted more than two-and-a-half thousand signatures, explained: 'Anne Lister was, most definitely, gender non-conforming all her life. She was also however, a lesbian. Don't let them erase this iconic woman from our history.' The trust agreed to reword the plaque and said that it had not meant to cause offence or upset to any community. It also apologised for featuring an upside down rainbow on the original plaque. Lister, who has been described as 'the first modern lesbian,' was a prolific diarist who wrote some five million words in her lifetime. Her journals, mostly written at her home at Shibden Hall in Halifax, documented her life and relationships and were recognised as a 'pivotal' document by the United Nations in 2011. A new BBC TV drama starring Suranne Jones, based on the diaries, is due to be broadcast later this year.
A Tyneside cosmetics shop has ended a completely pointless year-long dispute with the local council by repainting its 'garish' yellow frontage. Newcastle City Council had deemed L'Occitane's shop-front on Grainger Street 'unacceptable' and 'harmful' when it was painted in March. And, let us once again simply stand up and applaud the utter and complete rubbish that some people chose to care about. A planning inspector - who clearly had nothing better or more productive to do with their time to justify their existence - agreed with council planners saying it was 'garish and obtrusive' to a listed building. L'Occitane has now changed its frontage to an off-white colour, saying the street's heritage is 'crucial.' The shop, formerly occupied by Vodafone, is a listed building dating back to the 1830s but was refitted without planning permission from Newcastle City Council. The company appealed against the council's demand to change the frontage but planning inspector Philip Lewis - who sounds like a right laugh - sided with the authority, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service. He said: 'I accept that this is a commercial part of the city but its historic importance, reflected in its conservation area designation, requires a careful approach to shopfronts, particularly where listed buildings are also involved.' In a new planning application for the off-white, L'Occitane said: 'Conserving the aesthetic and history of Grainger Street were considered as crucial.'
A man captured 'a heated row' between two angry drivers before the petty argument led to one of the drivers 'getting distracted and colliding with an oncoming vehicle.' The video provides amble evidence of the dangers of petty road-rage as an 'infuriated' driver recklessly crashed into another vehicle following 'an altercation' which took place in the middle of a road in the town of Hockliffe, near Leighton Buzzard. The two drivers can be seen squabbling outside their vehicles before the fight 'escalated to physical force' as one of the men was grappled to the floor by the other. The driver attempted to make a hasty escape whilst the man on the floor quickly got up and attempted to chase him. Whilst in the car, the distracted driver momentarily crushes into an oncoming vehicle in a foolish blind rage. Bedfordshire Police released a statement shortly afterwards: 'Following an incident on Watling Street in Hockliffe, on Tuesday, one man has been reported for affray and a second man has been reported for array and driving without due care and attention.'
A thirty six-year-old Hawaii woman was very arrested at a Honolulu airport security checkpoint Thursday for allegedly having a gun in her carry-on luggage. The right to bear arms not extending to the skies, obviously. Alleged 'sources' allegedly told Hawaii News Now that the woman had a Glock with a loaded magazine in her bag. She was attempting to get on a Hawaiian Airlines flight headed for Los Angeles. After her arrest, the woman was released pending an investigation. Unloaded firearms can be transported on planes in checked baggage only and must be in a locked, hard-sided container. Firearms must also be declared pre-flight.
A Tennessee man was jailed on felony charges after reportedly appearing to dip his testicles into a container of salsa that a customer had ordered online. Which is not only very unhygienic but, also, potentially lethal to anyone with a nut allergy. Nah, lissun ... The delivery driver, allegedly, recorded the dipping and posted a video online, saying: 'This is what you get when you give an eighty nine cents tip for an almost thirty-minute drive.' News outlets report that the passenger, thirty one-year-old Howard Matthew Webb, was very arrested last week and charged with 'adulteration of food.' And, having sticky balls. Probably. Dinner Delivered said that the food service has extremely fired the driver and forwarded information about him to authorities as well. Webb remains behind bars pending a 12 March hearing. His arrest warrant says that he and the driver picked up the food for delivery from a local Mexican restaurant. The company issued a refund for the tainted food to the customer.
Hungry patrons at a local buffet in Alabama took angry to a whole new level when a massive fight broke out, allegedly over crab legs Friday. The unexpected brawl - with kids gettin' sparked and aal sorts - occurred at Meteor Buffet in Huntsville as diners were waiting to feast on a freshly boiled batch of crab legs, according to multiple media reports. Among the restaurant-goers was Huntsville police officer Gerald Johnson, who recalled 'hearing yelling and tongs clashing' as he was just about to eat his meal. 'Literally, as I sat down and maybe took two bites out of my plate,' Johnson told WHNT Nineteen News. 'There's a woman who's beating a man. People are moving around, plates are shattering everywhere. It's not something you typically hear, if you can imagine a fencing match,' Johnson said of the guests allegedly using tongs as weapons. As for why the altercation took place, Johnson claimed: 'Everyone was saying, "They cut me in line. She cut me in line. He cut me in line. I was here first." They'd been waiting there for the crab legs for a good ten, twenty minutes. When they finally came out, it's very heated. Especially if someone is taking more than their fair share,' Johnson told the news station. Following the fight, police extremely arrested John Chapman and Chequita Jenkins, the Associated Press reported. Jenkins, who was at the eatery with her children, has been charged with third-degree assault and Chapman has been charged with disorderly conduct.
Authorities say that a Florida woman is blaming 'a windy day' for the cocaine that police found in her purse. WPLG reported that Kennecia Posey was one of two passengers in a car stopped by Fort Pierce police in late March. Police say an officer smelled marijuana and that, after searching the car, cocaine and marijuana in separate bags were found inside a purse Posey had on her lap. Authorities say they questioned Posey about the drugs. According to the police report, Posey responded: 'It's a windy day. It must have flown through the window and into my purse.' Posey was charged with a felony count of cocaine possession, a misdemeanour count of marijuana possession and an additional count of 'having the worst excuse ever, in the history of drug possession, bar none.' She was later released on bond.
A group of funeral directors in South Africa say they will sue a self-styled 'prophet' who claims to have 'resurrected' a dead man. A viral video of Pastor Alph Lukau shows him shouting 'rise up' to a man lying down in a coffin who then jerks upright to cheers from gullible onlookers. The funeral companies say they were 'manipulated' into becoming involved in the sick and sordid stunt. The spectacle, seen outside Pastor Lukau's church near Johannesburg, has been ridiculed and condemned by many. On the grounds that Lukau - who is, obviously, not mental nor nothing - does not have the ability to raise the dead. 'There are no such things as miracles,' the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities told South Africa's national broadcaster. 'They are made up to try to get money from the hopelessness of our people.' Three funeral companies who claim they were 'manipulated' by the 'scheme' are now taking legal action for damage to their reputation. Kingdom Blue, Kings & Queens Funeral Services and Black Phoenix told local media that church representatives 'tricked' them in different ways. 'Alleged family members of the deceased' told the Kings & Queens Funeral Services that they had a 'dispute with a different funeral service provider.' The customers also, allegedly, placed 'Black Phoenix stickers on their private car' to look credible to Kings & Queens Funeral Services when they went to hire a hearse from them. The coffin, the funeral directors say, was 'acquired' from Kingdom Blue. The Sowetan news site reported that Pastor Lukau's church has 'since backtracked' on its resurrection claim, saying that the allegedly 'dead' man was, in fact, 'already alive' when he was brought to the premises in Kramerville. No shit? Pastor Lukau had only 'completed a miracle that God had already started,' Alleluia International Ministries is quoted by The Sowetan as saying. Just to repeat at this juncture, Lukau is - definitely - not a complete and total nutter. The BBC's Milton Nkosi says that the video has 'sparked a national debate' on 'fake pastors' and had been 'widely condemned' by established religious groups. However some South Africans have taken to social media with the hashtag Resurrection Challenge to, allegedly, 'see the funny side.' Of fraud. It is the latest high-profile row over religious leaders in the country who make extraordinary and scarcely believable claims to their congregations. Last year, a South African pastor was found very guilty of assault for spraying his followers with a household insecticide which he, falsely, claimed could heal cancer and HIV. It didn't.
A St Helens woman has been arrested on suspicion of assault after a man was stabbed in the leg. Officers were called to an incident in Robins Lane on Wednesday to reports that a man had been viciously stabbed. Emergency services attended and the man was found to have sustained 'a minor leg injury.' A forty five-year-old woman from Rainhill was arrested on suspicion of 'a section eighteen assault' and carted off, unceremoniously, to a local cop-shop 'for further questioning.'
The Law in Louisiana had to deal with a bit of right old monkey business after a man wearing a gorilla costume reportedly broke into a home and hid under a mattress whilst fleeing from police. According to the Sulphur Police Department, officers 'received multiple reports' from people seeing 'a suspicious person' looking into their homes while wearing an all-black costume. Police responded and spotted the suspect, later identified as Jeremie Moran. Officers told the suspect to stop, but he declined and ran into a residence through the front door. Officers set up a perimeter around the residence and determined that Moran could not get out. Sulphur police said that they entered and found Moran hiding under a mattress. He was very arrested and charged with resisting a Police Officer with Force or Violence, Unauthorised Entry of an inhabited of a dwelling, possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia, flight from an officer and wearing a masks or hoods in public places. When police were asked about the suspect's choice of clothing, a spokesman said 'the only reason' Moran would have opted for the costume he was wearing was 'the possibility of the drugs he was using.' Louisiana state law states that a person convicted wearing a mask in public can be sentenced to 'up to three years in prison.' Exceptions are made for religious purposes or for holidays like Hallow'een and Mardi Gras.
A farmer was reportedly 'left horrified' after discovering that a llama had been shot dead on his land. The late llama, called Larry, was found shot at the Hilltop Farm Animal Sanctuary near Longhorsely in Northumberland. It is believed that poachers trespassed on the farm last Wednesday and Thursday evening before shooting the animal. Larry's lifeless body was discovered in a field it shared with other alpacas. Police described it as 'a heartless shooting' and are investigating. Robin Hill, from Hilltop Sanctuary, rescued Larry six years ago from a zoo. He said that the llama was 'a peaceful animal' and 'popular with kids.' He said that a horse had also been killed by poachers seven years ago and a pregnant sheep had been disembowelled by dogs. Northumbria Police said the people responsible 'may have mistaken Larry for a deer.' But, only if they were really stupid. Though, this is rural Northumberland we're talking about so, you know, nothing's impossible. Sergeant Mick Aspey said: 'This heartless shooting has understandably led to outrage in the community and on social media. We know that poaching can be a problem in our rural communities and I want to reassure people that we take it seriously.'
A Minnesota woman has been arrested for what the Fergus Falls Daily Journal describes as 'assault and terroristic threats.' Yes, dear blog reader, if you're wondering 'terroristic' is indeed a proper word - this blogger checked and everything. According to the Fergus Falls police, 'scissors were removed from the scene by a police officer.'
A man who gave his girlfriend drugs at a pop music festival and filmed her as she died has been extremely jailed for her manslaughter. Louella Fletcher-Michie, the daughter of the Holby City actor John Michie, was found dead in woodland near the Bestival festival site in Dorset after taking the drug 2CP. Ceon Broughton was found very guilty of manslaughter and supplying the Class A drug by unanimous verdict on Thursday. He has been sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in The Slammer. Michie said in a victim impact statement: 'I wake up every morning to face life starting again without Louella, our daughter, our sister, our friend, our family now broken. And for what? It makes no sense - our beautiful Louella should still be with us on any measure of humanity. No more yoga with my daughter, no more running around the outside of the Arsenal stadium with my daughter. Her life cruelly cut short. Our lives forever diminished. She was wise beyond her years and trusting, too trusting it seems.' Louella's mother Carol Fletcher said: 'On the outside we all look much the same as we did before, but inside our hearts and souls have been ripped out, trampled on and stuffed back in. Like losing a limb, waking up every day to face this new reality, having to learn to live with this for the rest of our lives. There are no winners. We don't think Ceon is evil. He was stupid, massively selfish and he lied. My hope is that he has learned that truth is all we have ever really got.' Sister Daisy Fletch-Michie said: 'Every single day I try to understand why Ceon didn't help Louella, the hours that passed with her getting progressively worse, even having spoken to him on the phone myself, and begging him to get her to a medical tent. Why didn't he?' In sentencing Broughton, Judge Justice Goose said: 'I have come to the clear conclusion you were only concerned for yourself. You had created an obviously dangerous situation, you were not concerned until it was too late. Whilst you were doing little to help Louella you were sending messages to a friend asking him to say that Louella had obtained the drugs from an unknown person. You were more concerned to create defence.' Broughton, of Enfield, did little to help his yoga teacher girlfriend for six hours as he feared breaching a suspended jail term, his trial at Winchester Crown Court heard. The jury was told the couple 'liked to film each other' when they were taking drugs. Broughton - a rapper known as CeonRPG who has worked with artists including Skepta - filmed Fletcher-Michie as she became 'disturbed, agitated and then seriously ill.' He also branded her 'a drama queen' as she lay dying on 11 September 2017.
A cheese thief has been given a twelve month community order. Brian Lewis, of Fordhouses, reportedly stole the dairy product, worth sixteen quid, from a Nisa store in Wolverhampton, on 15 January. Which is a lot of cheese. He was given a sixteen-week curfew and, for the duration, must remain at his home address between 7pm and 6am. He must also pay a victim surcharge of eighty five smackers to the shop.
A police officer in Salisbury was kicked in the stomach and spat out while on duty. Officers were called to Deacons pub following a report of 'an intoxicated woman causing a disorder.' Police say that while an officer attempted to search a woman, she was kicked to the stomach and hockled upon. A thirty two-year-old woman from Salisbury was very arrested on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly and assault on an emergency worker. She was taken to Melksham for questioning. Acting Inspector John Hutchings said: 'We will not tolerate this kind of behaviour and lack of respect shown to officers. This is the second such assault on officers in Salisbury this week. Our officers are there to protect our communities - it should never be accepted that while doing this, they will be assaulted by the people they are trying to help. Fortunately, the officer involved was not physically injured and continued with her duties.'
Your favourite foods could reportedly soon be 'cloned.' The rise of 'fake meat' with The Impossible Burger has prompted a bio-tech start-up to replicate the texture and taste of foods like meatballs, chicken nuggets, cheese and yogurt with 'alternative proteins.' Boston-based company Ginkgo Bioworks is 'using its technology' to develop ingredients that 'could' be used to replace meat, eggs, dairy and just about any protein found in food for its new start-up, Motif Ingredients. The food incubator creates amino acids, enzymes, vitamins and more ingredients through fermentation with genetically-engineered yeasts and bacteria for protein substitutes. 'We're trying to find all the next heme proteins,' Jason Kelly, co-founder and CEO of Ginkgo Bioworks, told MarketWatch, referring to the red iron molecule heme found in meat - used in The Impossible Burger - and some plants that makes food cook, bleed and taste like beef. 'We'll supply those ingredients to these food companies that want to develop the next Impossible Burger.'
A judge sentenced a woman to fifteen days in The Joint for 'freeing a crying cub from a bear trap.' Only in President Rump's America, dear blog reader. Municipal Court Judge James Devine - who is, obviously, not a completely heartless scumbag or anything even remotely like it - sentenced Catherine McCartney on Thursday, reported. McCartney, who 'has a record of arrests related to bear-hunt protests,' pleaded very guilty to obstructing 'the administration of law and the prevention of the lawful taking of wildlife.' McCartney, a dedicated animal rights activist, plans to appeal the sentence, relating to the incident in in Vernon. In a statement she read in court, McCartney said that she 'did not regret' her decision in rescuing the bear cub from the painful trap. 'These animals are innocent and so I made the moral decision to let the bear go so he could run back to his mother and it was the right thing to do,' she said. The incident in question took place in October in a condominium complex. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection said that it installed two culvert traps inside the complex campus to capture a bear - known as 'Momma Bear' by activists - following two incidents with residents. None of these incidents resulted in any injury. Mark Nagelhout, who helped McCartney to free the cub, also pleaded extremely guilty to the same charges. However, he did not receive a jail sentence since this was his first offence. Both defendants were also fined thirteen hundred bucks. When asked for a comment on this malarkey, dear blog reader, Momma Bear ripped a reporter's face off.
A convicted Texas murderer left witnesses to his execution baffled after telling them in his final statement: 'That'll be five dollars.' Billie Wayne Coble was put to death nearly thirty years after murdering his estranged wife's parents and her brother. The seventy-year-old, who was once described by a prosecutor as 'having a heart full of scorpions,' was asked if he wanted to address the invited onlookers. He replied: 'That will be five dollars,' followed by a rambling monologue which included: 'Mike, I love you. Where's Nelley at? I love you, that will be five dollars. Take care.' As he was finishing his statement, the Viet'nam War veteran's son Gordon, grandson Dalton and daughter-in-law reportedly 'became emotional and violent.' Yelling obscenities, throwing fists and kicking at others in the witness area, they were eventually led to a courtyard where the two men were arrested and subsequently charged with resisting arrest. Earlier on Thursday, the US Supreme Court turned down Coble's request for a stay of execution for shooting Robert and Zelda Vicha and their son Bobby in Axtell, North of Waco, in August 1989. McLennan County District Attorney Barry Johnson said. 'This is the end of a horror story for the Vicha family.' Bobby Vicha's son, who was eleven when he was tied up and threatened by Coble during the killings, said that it would be a relief knowing the execution finally took place after years of delays. JR Vicha said: 'Still, the way they do it is more humane than what he did to my family. It's not what he deserves but it will be good to know we got as much justice as allowed by the law.' During his trial, jurors were told how, distraught over his pending divorce, Coble kidnapped his wife Karen Vicha. He was arrested and later released on bail. Nine days after the kidnapping, Coble went to Karen Vicha's home, where he handcuffed and tied up her three daughters and JR Vicha. He then went to the homes of Robert and Zelda Vicha and Bobby Vicha who lived nearby and fatally shot them. After Karen Vicha returned home, Coble kidnapped her, assaulted her and threatening to rape and kill her. He was arrested after crashing following a police chase.
A PE teacher who reportedly slapped a four-year-old boy following an after-school football class has not been punished by the judge trying his case. Ian Webber was convicted of assaulting the boy after being kicked when he told the boy not to pull post-it notes off an ideas display at a West Midlands school. The youngster 'had a tantrum' during the session, which led the teacher to 'lose his rag' and slap the boy, twice, on the knees. The fifty four-year-old teacher, of Polesworth, North Warwickshire, denied a charge of assaulting the youngster by beating in May last year. But District Judge David Robinson discarded the submission of Webber's defence barrister Alexander Barbour that child witnesses in the case had 'engaged in Chinese whispers' about the incident. The judge ruled that their evidence was 'compelling' and told Webber that the law did not entitle him to smack the youngster. However, Judge Robinson decided to only hand the teacher a conditional discharge because the incident will already have 'a huge impact' on his future. He was ordered to pay the eight hundred and fifty quid costs as well as the victim surcharge and was not asked to pay any compensation. Webber, who was helping at the football session involving around eight children, stepped in to assist the coach, his trial at Birmingham Magistrates' Court was told. Passing sentence on Wednesday, the judge said: 'I take into account that you were dealing with a difficult situation - but you were the adult, he was the child. The law did not entitle you to smack him in those circumstances. I also take into account that there are mitigating circumstances in this case. You only got involved to try and help. You were doing the right thing, until you did the wrong thing.' In his opening of the case, prosecutor Tim Talbot-Webb said Webber was 'unsuccessful in calming the boy down, the tantrum continued and it seems that Mister Webber in the course of that lost his temper. He picked the boy up by the arm so his feet left the ground. He was heard to say, "If you kick me again I am going to smack you" and then he did smack him twice - once to each leg. It was loud enough for a parent in the room to hear, although she didn't see contact being made.' Judge Robinson said Webber had made 'an outstanding contribution to education' and this was 'an isolated incident in a long teaching career.' In mitigation, Barbour told the court that Webber's colleagues described him as having 'an incredible rapport with his pupils.' Barbour added that the disgraced teacher was likely to face a 'summary dismissal for gross misconduct' following his conviction.
An alleged 'brute' who beat up his partner in front of their ten-year-old child following 'a petty argument about smoking' has been ordered to undergo counselling on a course for 'building better relationships.' Colin Hewitt headbutted Tara Worth in the face and then stood on her neck whilst she choked after she challenged him over why she had to go outside their home to have a cigarette. During the assault, the pair's daughter pleaded for Hewitt to stop as he dragged Worth by her hair and struck her up to five times. Police subsequently arrived to find the youngster saying: 'He nearly killed her.' Worth, of Denton, Greater Manchester, who lost consciousness in the attack suffered a fractured cheek bone and misaligned teeth. In a statement she said: 'He has a violent temper from drinking and I feel I've got to walk in egg-shells around him to keep the peace. I feel anxious going out of the house and I feel I've got to change the house around to change how things are. I feel so paranoid and I don't feel like the person I was before when I look in the mirror due to the injuries on my face. I have a loss in confidence in myself. I have to explain to people when they ask. I've got noticeable cheek damage, I have extreme nerve damage and have lost certain feelings in my face. I have been told they might not be able to repair the damage.' At Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester, Hewitt admitted causing grievous bodily harm but escaped jail with a twenty two months sentence being suspended for two years. He was ordered to complete thirty one session of a 'Building Better Relationships' programme which is said to 'empower participants to break their cycle of harmful behaviour and develop better relationships with their families and society.' The incident occurred on 28 April last year after Hewitt and Worth had attended a family gathering. Prosecutor Lisa Boocock said Worth 'decided to have a cigarette but the defendant doesn't permit cigarettes being smoked in the flat so she went outside to smoke it instead. When she came back into the flat she found on the kitchen window ledge some cigarette ash and she challenged the defendant about this in a calm way. But clearly angered by this, the defendant caused an argument. Her daughter came into her parents bedroom and witnessed the entire assault. The defendant appears to begin the assault with head butting Miss Worth to the head. He then dragged her back by the hair. Miss Worth then began throwing picture frames at the defendant, but at that point the defendant hit her four to five times. As he hit her, that caused her to fall to the floor. She tried to get up, but her daughter witnessed her crawling on her hands and knees trying to reach to her, but the defendant hit her and she fell back down on the floor. The daughter could see her mother bleeding and shouted for the defendant to stop. Miss Worth tried to reach for the telephone on the bed in order to call the police but the defendant got hold of the phone and took it from her. The daughter describes the defendant putting his foot on Miss Worth's throat to keep her down on the floor. Miss Worth has a phobia of pressure on her throat and the defendant was aware of this when he did this to her.' The court also heard that the daughter 'tried to intervene' during the attack, but 'was pushed away' by Hewitt, getting her hand cut in the process. The defendant said this wasn't intentional. 'The defendant was interviewed and said he acted in self defence but pleaded guilty at the first opportunity at the Crown Court. He used weapons by way of a headbutt and shod foot and this took place in the presence of a child.' In mitigation, defence lawyer Mark Fireman said: 'This was a minor argument that got completely out of control and he is deeply sorry for what he did. There have been ongoing threats since that day not to see the child. This relationship has seen both of these people in drink, and acting inappropriately towards each other in front of the child. There were other acts of violence which took place in front of the child. He is deeply ashamed of what he has done and says this was a terrible loss of temper. This was out of character and he will do whatever subsequent orders asked of him.'
A German family could not pay its debts, so their town council went looking for assets to seize. Officials, armed with a search warrant, found a laptop, a coffee machine and the wheelchair of one family member, according to reporting from the German publication Die Glocke. Most valuable of all, though, was the family's beloved pet - Edda the pug. The one-year-old dog was valuable to the family, of course, because she had 'provided comfort in trying times,' they told local media. But she was valuable to town officials, too, because Edda was a purebred. So the authorities from Ahlen, a town South-West of Munster, seized the pug and assessed her value at eight hundred and fifty Euros. Then they listed her for sale on eBay. More than one hundred and sixty kilometres away, a police officer saw the listing and, though she was sceptical about how the city had come to possess the dog, decided to make a bid for Edda. Ahlen town treasurer Dirk Schlebes told German wire service dpa that Edda was sold for 'a slightly lower price' than listed. 'The money went into the town coffers,' Schlebes added. The original owners are said to be 'still mourning the loss of their pet.' The new owner is reported to be 'considering legal action' against the town after Edda experienced a severe eye infection which required surgery and racked up a hefty medical bill. And the town is 'facing pressure to explain how all the dog drama came to be in the first place.' Frank Merschhausm, spokesman for the city of Ahlen, told NPR in an e-mail that their seizure of Edda was 'legally permissible' but that the criticism of the tactics 'may be warranted.' He added: 'Obtaining the proceeds of the sale through a private eBay account was a very questionable decision by the enforcement officer.' Merschhausm told NPR that the city is 'conducting an internal investigation.' The dog's new owner, Michaela Jordan, told local media that she feels 'misled' by the city's eBay advertisement. She was initially sceptical of the way the city seized the pug from her original owners, but was 'reassured' the process was legal. The low price surprised her, too, because a purebred pug can sell for much more money than they were charging, the German newspaper Ahlener Tageblatt reported. But, nevertheless, she bid for the dog. When she took Edda home soon the dog became sick and had to undergo eye surgery. The dog has had four operations and is preparing for a fifth, the new owner told the German tabloid Bild. Jordan is demanding a reimbursement from the city and for the original cost of the pug and veterinary bills. Though the ordeal has drawn national and international attention and brought public scorn upon the policy, town officials reassured their community in a statement that seizing family pets is 'not a common solution. Owners who pay their dog tax properly do not need to fear enforcement,' Merschhaus, the town spokesman, told NPR. 'Only if multiple requests for payment go ignored or agreements for instalment payments are not adhered to,' does the city resort to pets. 'It is a very long way to seizure.' Edda's original family said they are 'still coping.' But, they claim, they are glad the dog has found a good home.
'Entitled Millennials' have been 'given an inflated sense of self-importance' due to social media and are no longer willing to do unpaid work to advance their careers. That's the view of Muffin Break general manager Natalie Brennan, who claims that the 'precipitous' decline in eager young university students and graduates 'started about ten years ago. There's just nobody walking in my door asking for an internship, work experience or unpaid work, nobody,' Brennan said. 'You don't see it anymore. Before that people would be knocking on your door all the time, you couldn't keep up with how many people wanted to be working. In fact I'd run programmes because there were so many coming in.' Last year Brennan had but one intern in marketing and 'that was it. I can't even remember the one before that, six, seven, eight years ago,' she said. 'In essence they're working for free, but I can tell you every single person who has knocked on my door for an internship or work experience has ended up with a job. Every single person, because they back themselves.' Brennan, who has been with franchise giant Foodco for eighteen years, claims 'that kind of passion is lacking' these days. 'One fellow I hired, he was under-qualified, completely not the right person, but he rang me every two weeks for six months,' she said. 'He said, "I will do anything, I'll start at ground level." After six months I hired him, because you can't teach passion and enthusiasm. He worked for five or six years and moved on to a high role in another company.' These days, she suggests candidates often walk in to interviews 'thinking they're better than the job,' immediately asking, 'How long before I get my promotion? When is the first pay rise?' In one case, after she ended the interview early, the candidate 'sent me an abusive e-mail saying I was "underpaying," but then said, "If you pay X amount more I'll come and work for you." People are clueless,' she continued. 'Not only am I not going to hire you, I will tell everybody about you as well. That's the thing people don't realise - whatever industry you're in, it's a small industry.' Brennan adds that there is 'this unreal view that you're going to come into a company and be the general manager or CEO in five years. Nowadays I will often put the actual pay on the [job listing] and say this is not negotiable, because you have a budget for a role,' she said. 'There might be two, three, five thousand dollar flex for the right person, but generally it doesn't matter if an amazing person comes in if you're hiring for a junior role, you only have a junior role pay. But there are still people out there who come in and say, "I'm willing to work for junior wages to show what I'm worth."' Brennan blames social media for the entitlement mentality. 'I think everybody thinks social media is going to get them ahead somewhere,' she said. 'There's definitely that inflated view of their self-importance because they have X amount of Instagram followers or this many likes. That's dangerous. It's like, "I'm your manager and your mentor but not your cheerleader,"' she said. 'Even giving people constructive criticism about how they can learn or improve, it's like someone is "unfriending" them. It's like a personal attack. This ability to learn and grow through working in an environment, people don't want to do it anymore.' She feels that young people 'want to be applauded or named staff member of the month for doing their job. Great, you did your job, so you get to keep your job,' she said. 'I'm generalising, but it definitely feels like this generation of twenty-somethings has to be rewarded even if it's the most mundane, boring thing, they want to be rewarded for doing their job constantly.' Brennan recalls how, after she went overseas to a conference for two weeks, one of her subordinates demanded a pay rise for 'looking after the department' while she was gone. 'I said, "Actually you didn't, I wasn't on leave. You had maybe an extra ten e-mails to deal with for two weeks. That was part of your job. If you had solved this problem or saved us money, that's a thing to bring to me."' So, the Boss of the Year award for forthright Natalie, then?
An Australian woman who reportedly assaulted several police officers and resisted arrest after 'creating a scene' in Singapore during Christmas last year was jailed seven months and five days on Friday. Ashton Jane Holloway was 'in a drunken state' when she committed the offences. The student, who was a tourist in Singapore, admitted to one count of 'voluntarily causing hurt to a public servant,' one of 'using vulgarities on a police officer' and one count of disorderly and naughty behaviour. Another count of 'causing hurt to a public servant' was 'taken into consideration' for her sentencing. 'This was Christmas which is supposed to be a time of happiness. But you were quite determined to do the opposite,' said District Judge Mathew Joseph in sentencing Holloway to The Slammer. The judge noted that Holloway's parents had refused to post bail so that their daughter could 'reflect' upon the error of her ways. The parents, who were both in court, will be flying back to Australia on Monday. 'Your actions from the footage are quite breath-taking and astonishing,' said Joseph. 'A young lady like yourself can wreck so much havoc. It took the combined action of three or four police officers to try and get you to cooperate with which you seem determined not to.' On 25 December last year, a staff member from McDonald's went into the fire command centre in Lucky Plaza for help as Holloway was 'kicking tables and scolding customers.' Four male police officers arrived at the scene to 'engage' Holloway but she 'was uncooperative.' Holloway rushed out of the fast food outlet and 'had a spat' with the officers in a corridor. She 'questioned the officers loudly' and tried to use her phone to film them. An officer decided to arrest Holloway, prompting the woman to 'use an expletive.' While she 'continued bickering,' the officers called for back-up from a female officer. When Holloway was later arrested, she shouted 'rape' and asked what her charge was. The entire exchange, which lasted ten minutes, was captured on the body cameras worn by the officers. As Holloway was being conveyed to a police car she screamed and resisted entering the vehicle. While in the car, Holloway 'continued resisting and screaming.' Police officers could be heard commenting, 'she kicked me also sia' and 'just now also kena kicked.' Holloway kept trying to kick an officer who was heard saying, 'I have no strength anymore' in Mandarin. Holloway also bit a female officer's forearm and kicked her on the arms and legs. The police car was forced to a stop and the officer was found to have bruises on her arms. Deputy Public Prosecutor Amanda Han asked for a seven-month jail term for the charge of assault on a public servant, to be run consecutively with a shorter jail term for either of the other two charges. Holloway's lawyer, Gill Amarick Singh, asked for a five month-jail term on the assault charge but agreed with the prosecution for the other proposed sentences. Addressing the judge in tears, Holloway said that she was 'upset' and 'had a few drinks' before the offences. Apologising for her actions, Holloway added that she was 'mortified' and 'deeply embarrassed' over the incident.
On Friday a twenty three-year-old Chilean man died, buried under two metres of sand on San Carlos de El Tabo beach, after the sand tunnel he was building with his son collapsed on them. After the collapse, emergency units, lifeguards and bystanders collaborated with the rescue of the victim and his son, who was rescued without injury. The victim was taken to the Claudio Vicuña Hospital in San Antonio, where he died as a result of cardiac arrest suffered by spending a long time buried in the sand.
A former TV director 'thought he was role-playing' with an adult during sexual chats with a police officer posing as a thirteen-year-old girl, a jury has heard. Prosecutors allege that Tim Dowd 'believed he was speaking to a teen named Chantelle.' But, Dowd told jurors at Leeds Crown Court that he believed 'Chantelle' was 'an adult woman looking to enjoy younger girl-older man role-play.' Dowd, of Harrogate, denies child sex offences. The court has heard Dowd, who had worked as a director on Coronation Street, Emmerdale and Heartbeat, asked the undercover officer intimate questions about 'phone sex' and requested images of her breasts. Jurors were told he contacted the girl via a chat site and asked to 'clarify' her age before remarking that being thirteen was 'not a problem.' In January last year, a day after their first conversation, he phoned up 'Chantelle' via WhatsApp, requesting she 'sexually touch herself,' the court heard. Giving evidence, Dowd said that when he starting talking to 'Chantelle,' he believed it was an adult woman looking to enjoy 'younger girl-older man role-play.' Asked why he had started using the site, the father-of-two, said: 'I wanted to go on there to find adult women who were interested in sharing some erotic conversation with me.' When the user declined to send him pictures, Dowd said, this 'served as confirmation' he was talking with an adult. He told the court he would have left the chat immediately if he had been sent an image of a child. The defendant said that he does not have a sexual interest in children, adding that he has never had any complaints about his conduct during his time as a freelance director. 'I have worked with hundreds of children during my career and have guided them to be great actors,' he said. He denies three counts of attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity, and a count of attempting to engage in sexual conversations with a child for the purpose of sexual gratification. The trial continues.
A takeaway boss operating an allegedly 'unclean kitchen' with 'extremely dirty equipment' has appeared in court over food hygiene breaches. Concerns were reportedly raised over standards at Darlington's Bigger Better Burgers when a customer complained to Environmental Health that their food was 'not properly cooked.' Inspectors visited the premises in September 2018 and found no hot water supply to the upstairs of the site and 'grime and grease covered walls' and cooking utensils. Newton Aycliffe Magistrates' Court heard the shop's owner, Adam Khalid Ali, 'accepted' the kitchen was unclean, but gave 'no reasonable excuse' for the poor hygiene. Yvonne Wood, prosecuting on behalf of Darlington Borough Council, said: 'A letter was sent to the premises on 27 September, explaining the conditions found and that the premises were to be given a hygiene rating of zero stars - the lowest possible. Of more than eight hundred premises in Darlington, seven hundred and thirty eight are rated as five stars. Only six premises are rated zero. On 24 October, he attended an interview under caution. He gave no reasonable excuse for the conditions found and following the interview, the council received a letter from Mister Ali explaining changes he had made.' Ali was previously convicted for breaching food hygiene standards as named owner of The Green, a pizza takeaway in Cockerton, in 2014. However, he denied controlling 'day-to-day operations' at The Green. He pleaded very guilty to three breaches of food hygiene regulations at Bigger Better Burgers. Ali, who represented himself, said: 'I took pictures the very next day to show changes we made. I understand it was my fault, but this is what I did. I sent a letter and pictures to the council. This business is my life - it was something my grandparents wanted for me.' He added: 'I am very proud of what I've built up for my business and if you look at the reviews on Just Eat, you can see how happy the customers are. We are proud of the food we serve and the business we have.' Magistrates had 'insufficient powers' to sentence Ali who will next appear before a district judge at Peterlee Magistrates' Court in April.
An employer in Singapore repeatedly 'pinched' a maid on the face and arms with so much force over a four-month period that it left fingernail marks on her, a court heard. Once, Lee Siew Choon, also 'tapped' the side of the twenty three-year-old Indonesian maid's face with the side of a knife blade. At the State Courts on Monday, Lee was jailed for three months and two weeks, having pleaded very guilty to two charges of causing hurt and one count of using threatening behaviour to cause alarm. Another five charges of causing hurt were 'considered' during her sentencing. Yani, who goes by one name, started working for Lee in May 2016. She would start work at 5.25am and ended at midnight. Lee neither gave Yani any off-days nor allowed her to have a mobile phone. Shortly after Yani started work, Lee would 'pinch various parts of her body,' including her arms and back, whenever she made mistakes. She would tell Yani not to tell anyone about the ongoing physical abuse. On one occasion, Lee was unhappy over the way the maid was cutting onions. Lee picked up the knife and tapped her on her face with the side of the knife blade. On another occasion, Lee 'pinched Yani's face and arms repeatedly' over the way the maid had cleaned the house. On 1 August 2016, Lee was unhappy with Yani for hanging out clothes to dry without opening the window in the room. Lee punched the maid's left eye, causing her vision to blur. The employer then grabbed a wooden pole and used it to hit Yani's arm. After Lee left her home to go to work on the same day, Yani ran away from the flat. A passer-by gave her some coins and she called the police from a phone at a nearby market. A medical examination found multiple small old scars all over her entire abdominal area, lower back and both arms. She still had visible marks on her body. Lee has given the maid over six thousand dollars in compensation. She will start serving her prison sentence on 4 March. The maximum penalty for 'causing hurt' in Singapore is up to two years' jail and a fine of up to five thousand dollars per charge. If the crime is committed by the employer of a domestic maid or a member of the employer's household, the perpetrator is liable to one-and-a-half times the punishment.
Water bosses have asked people not to flush unwanted Yorkshire puddings down the toilet after the roast dinner favourite blocked a sewer. Anglian Water posted two pictures of the floury, eggy mixture blocking drains in Ipswich. It said: 'We're sure even our friends at Yorkshire Water wouldn't welcome this sight.' One of the photos shows a slab of Yorkshire pudding batter covering a drain, while the other shows a surprisingly intact pudding in someone's gloved hand. The company added: 'Somebody dumped a load of Yorkshire puddings in an Ipswich sewer. Please don't treat sewers as bins. Avoid blocked pipes and compost your food waste.' It added that eighty per cent of sewer blockages are 'avoidable' and are caused by 'unflushables.'
The conductor and composer André Previn has died at the age of eighty nine. His manager told the BBC that he died at his home in New York on Thursday morning. Previn is best known for ditching a lucrative career in Hollywood to pursue his love of classical music as a jazz pianist. During his lifetime he won four Oscars, but many will remember him attempting to perform Grieg's piano concerto - by Grieg - with Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise. He was the legendary conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra who was married five times. The jazz singer, Betty Bennett, became his first wife; the couple quickly had two daughters and, just as swiftly, split. A few years later, the lyricist Dory Langan became his second wife and song-writing partner. Together they wrote Oscar-nominated numbers for the films Pepe (1960) and Two For The Seesaw (1962). He won Academy Awards for the musicals Gigi and Porgy & Bess. And for the scores to Irma La Douce and My Fair Lady. One of his more famous marriages was to actress Mia Farrow, the former wife of Frank Sinatra, with whom Previn had three biological children. They also adopted three other children, including Soon-Yi, who went on to marry Woody Allen, Farrow's subsequent partner after her break-up with Previn. André later married Heather Mary Hales, they divorced seventeen years later. His final marriage, in 2002, was to the violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, whose musical ability he greatly admired. The couple lived in Germany - the land of his birth - but divorced after six years. He was the one of the most talented all-round musicians of the twentieth century; a household name, rarely off television sets in the 1970s. He became well known on British television via a BBC series called Music Night which ran for several years - in which he played and conducted classical pieces and introduced a range of musical guests. But nothing compared with The Morecambe & Wise Show. Their Christmas shows were a British institution and regularly watched by more than twenty million punters. In 1971, Previn was invited to perform in a sketch which involved an orchestra: the serious-minded maestro playing straight man to Eric and Ern. His tight schedule meant they couldn't rehearse with the duo, so Previn learned his lines on the way from the airport in the back of a taxi - arriving with one condition: they could make as much fun of him as they liked but they were not to mock the music. 'If anyone thinks we are trying to be funny, we're finished,' explained Eric. 'We have to act as though it is very serious.' At one point during his introduction to the audience Andre perfectly timed the punchline to a joke about have to go and get his baton ('it's in Chicago!') and Eric was visibly impressed. 'He's got it!' he said, momentarily breaking character. Morecambe played an inept soloist - booked to play Grieg's piano concerto (by Grieg) as a late replacement for Yehudi Menuhin. With a flourish, he introduced Previn as 'Mister Andrew Preview' and treated the orchestra with customary disdain. 'Not too heavy on the banjos,' instructed Morecambe before hopelessly failing to hit his cue. He insisted the bemused conductor leap in the air so that he could see him over the piano lid and then turned in such a bizarrely jaunty version of the music that left Previn exasperated. 'You're playing all the wrong notes,' he exclaimed. 'I'm playing all the right notes,' came Morecambe's legendary reply. 'But not necessarily in the right order!' If Previn had cracked a smile at that point, the sketch would have been ruined. Eric had been right: the key was to play it with deadly earnest - no easy task with the audience in apoplexy. André deadpanned himself to comic glory and Morecambe & Wise's biographer described the show as one of their finest hours. Or, finest eight minutes anyway. Previn kept up a hectic schedule of live performances well into his eighties. He tried his hand at opera, with versions of A Streetcar Named Desire and Brief Encounter - both to somewhat mixed reviews. The London Symphony Orchestra released a statement to say they were 'deeply saddened' to hear of his death. Kathryn McDowell, managing director of the LSO, said: 'André Previn is a hugely important part of the LSO story, long before LSO Discovery was established André Previn was reaching out to new audiences far and wide through television. A particular highlight for those of us lucky to be in the audience or listening on BBC Radio 3 in June 2015 was his glorious performance of Rachmaninov Number Two in his final concert with us.' The Pacific Symphony also paid respects to the 'great pianist and conductor.'
Lisa Sheridan has been reportedly found dead at her New Orleans home, aged forty four. The actress' managers told People magazine of her death on Wednesday. 'We all loved Lisa very much and are devastated by the loss we all feel,' he said. 'She passed away Monday morning, at home, in her apartment in New Orleans. We are waiting for a coroners report on cause of death. The family has unequivocally confirmed that this is not a suicide. Any suggestion to the contrary is absolutely, one hundred per cent unfounded,' he continued. Lisa Sheridan was born in December 1974 in Macon, Georgia. She reportedly spent her childhood 'running around in the woods' until she did her first play at the age of eleven. Lisa studied in the conservatory programme at Carnegie Mellon University, where she graduated with honours and won The Thomas Auclair Memorial Scholarship Award for Most Promising Student Actor. She went on to study in Moscow and performed in fringe theatre in London before relocating to Los Angeles. Sheridan's acting credits include roles in CSI: Miami, The 4400, The Mentalist, Legacy, Invasion, NCIS, Scandal, Halt & Catch Fire, Still The King, The Fosters and the movies Elsa & Fred and Only God Can. She was in a three-year relationship and engaged to actor Ron Livingston from 2000 to 2003. It is believed they met on the set of the 2000 movie Beat.
Mark Hollis, lead singer of Talk Talk, has died at the age of sixty four, his former manager has confirmed. 'Sadly it's true,' Keith Aspden said. 'Mark has died after a short illness from which he never recovered.' Talk Talk achieved mainstream success with such hits as 'Today', 'Talk Talk', 'Life's What You Make It', 'It's My Life' and 'Such A Shame', but became increasingly insular and experimental after their first - two - brushes with chart success. After releasing an eponymous solo CD in 1998, Hollis left music behind and removed himself from public view. When asked about the decision, he said: 'I choose for my family. Maybe others are capable of doing it, but I can't go on tour and be a good dad at the same time.' Aspden told the BBC that he was 'still trying to accept' his former colleague had died. 'I can't tell you how much Mark influenced and changed my perceptions on art and music.' he said. 'I'm grateful for the time I spent with him and for the gentle beauty he shared with us. Musically he was a genius and it was a honour and a privilege to have been in a band with him.' 'Our songs are about tragedy. Human tragedy,' Mark once noted. Talk Talk may have been lumped together with synth-pop chart bands like Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet but Mark Hollis possessed a lyrical depth and musical curiosity that set him apart from many of his contemporaries. By their fourth LP, Spirit Of Eden, he had abandoned pop formulas in favour of ambient textures and jazz structures. From the outset, Hollis's tastes were always eclectic. His first record was the Love Affair's Northern Soul classic 'An Everlasting Love', which he bought at the age of twelve, while the first concert he attended was David Bowie & The Spiders. Speaking to Record Mirror in 1982, he cited his main influences as Burt Bacharach and counterculture icon William Burroughs. He also said the best live show he had ever seen was a performance of Shostakovich's Symphony Number Ten at London's Royal Festival Hall. Those facts aside, little is known about Hollis's early life - mainly because of his tendency to tell increasingly tall tales in interviews. Born in Tottenham in 1955, he told one journalist that he had dropped out of school before his A-Levels, while informing another that he had studied child psychology at the University of Sussex. Whichever was true, upon leaving education, he worked as a laboratory technician but music was always his first love. 'I could never wait to get home and start writing songs and lyrics' he told Kim magazine in 1983. 'All day long I'd be jotting ideas down on bits of paper and just waiting for the moment when I could put it all down on tape.' Hollis formed his first band, The Reaction, in 1977 and recorded a demo for Island Records which included an early version of his first signature song, 'Talk Talk'. The group split after one single - 1978's forgettable 'Telling You' - after which Hollis intended to pursue a solo career. After writing a new batch of songs, he recruited Paul Webb, Lee Harris and Simon Brenner to help him flesh out the arrangements in the studio. 'But, we liked what we were doing so much that we decided to throw every penny we had into hiring a rehearsal room and practising to go out and play in the clubs,' he said. The quartet soon became Talk Talk and got a record deal with EMI, who seemingly hoped to mould them into another Duran Duran. The company even hired that band's then producer, Colin Thurston, to work on their first two singles, 'Mirror Man' and 'Talk Talk'. But the band were keen to shake off the New Romantic tag, even dismissing their keyboard player to make it clear they weren't a synth-pop band. 'It gets tiring to listen to the Duran comparisons,' Hollis told Noise! magazine at the time. 'I can't hear it myself. I get depressed about the whole thing [because] kids ought to know about music, not image.' They had their first major commercial success with the pop classic 'Today' in 1982. The band then deliberately took a year to craft their second LP, It's My Life and even recorded animal noises at London Zoo for the title song. The video for 'It's My Life' was compiled from rushes of the David Attenborough series Life On Earth. It went on to become Talk Talk's biggest hit whilst a cover by No Doubt reached the US top ten in 2003. 1986 saw the release of The Colour Of Spring, which hinted at their musical ambitions. Based on the strength of the singles 'Life's What You Make It' and 'Give It Up', it became the band's biggest seller to date. A year later, Talk Talk settled into an abandoned Suffolk church to begin working on their fourth LP. When they emerged fourteen months later, it was hard to believe it was the same band that had produced It's My Life. Drawing on ambient textures, jazz-like arrangements and stunning orchestral arrangements, Spirit Of Eden was a meditative, melancholy six-song suite that was as downbeat as it was breathtaking. 'It's an engrossing, modern "head" album, the kind of recording that Pink Floyd never became heavy enough to make,' said The Times in a typically enthusiastic review. 'I'd never heard music that dynamic while being organic,' wrote Elbow's Guy Garvey, who named Spirit Of Eden his favourite LP in a recent edition of Q Magazine. 'It's such a brave record. To this day, I can hear its influence.' But, as well-reviewed as it was, the record performed poorly with audiences. EMI deleted it after just three months and promptly dropped Talk Talk from their roster. Re-signing to Polydor, the band released one further LP - the equally ambitious Laughing Stock - before quietly dissolving. 'There was no big split,' Hollis later told The Times. 'By the end, everything was so loose that walking away didn't seem like a wrench. We'd reached an end point.' Hollis waited eight years before releasing his first and only solo work. Self-titled, nuanced and delicate, it was recorded with just two of microphones strategically placed to capture the musicians' every inflection, from gently caressed guitar strings to the creaking of their chairs. It ends with two minutes of analogue tape hiss. Perhaps he was always travelling towards silence. 'Before you play two notes, learn how to play one note, and don't play one note until you've got a reason to play it,' he said in 1998, shortly before retreating from public life altogether. But there is, undeniably, something uniquely inspiring about a musician who puts a full stop on their career. There are no second-rate comeback CDs or awkwardly-staged reunions to taint Talk Talk's legacy. That's presumably the way Mark Hollis wanted it.
The Cure's former drummer Andy Anderson has died at the age of sixty eight after battling cancer. Andy first worked with Robert Smith in 1983 on The Cure frontman's project with Siouxsie & The Banshees' Steven Severin, The Glove, playing drums on the duo's solitary LP, Blue Sunshine. He later joined The Cure in 1983, after original drummer Lol Tolhurst switched to keyboards. Anderson recorded with Smith and Tolhurst on the LPs Japanese Whispers, The Top and Concert in addition to the band's breakthrough singles 'The Love Cats' and 'The Caterpillar'. He had previously played with Steve Hillage on two 1979 LPs, Live Herald and Open and had a brief stint in Hawkwind in 1983, though he did not record with them. After leaving The Cure, Anderson went on to play with a wide range of artists including Iggy Pop, Glen Mattlock, Edwin Collins, Peter Gabriel, The Gun Club, Brilliant, The Edgar Broughton Band, Jason Donovan, Nik Turner's Inner City Unit, Jimmy Somerville and Isaac Hayes. Recently, Anderson had been working as a solo artist under the name AAMuzik. The musician last week revealed on Facebook that he was battling the disease. Writing on Twitter, Lol Tolhurst said: 'It's with a heavy heart, I have to report the passing of a Cure brother. Andy Anderson was a true gentleman and a great musician with a wicked sense of humour which he kept until the end, a testament to his beautiful spirit on the last journey. We are blessed to have known him.' Iggy Pop addedg: 'Andy was a great guy. He was one of the nicest people I've ever met or worked with. I'm really sorry he's gone.'
And, finally, dear blog reader, the recent death of From The North favourite Peter Tork prompted Rolling Stain magazine - a media organ which had seldom had a decent word to say about The Monkees - to dig out and publish a previously 'lost' 2007 interview in which Peter spoke, with his usual charm and good humour, about hanging out with Jimi Hendrix, The Who and The Be-Atles (a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might've heard of them) whilst dating Mama Cass Elliot's sister and more remembrances of the late 1960s Laurel Canyon scene. You can check it out here. And then, perhaps, write and ask the magazine's editor why it took twelve years - and Peter's death - for them to bother making it public. Hippies.