Friday, March 08, 2019

I'm The Things You Hated, Filth Infatuated

Schoolchildren will get to investigate the intricacies of the Doctor Who theme music as part of a BBC project to engage the nation's youth with classical music. Which makes a considerable difference from music lessons when this blogger went to school. Those usually involved hitting a xylophone really hard with a hammer in an  attempt to get a tune out of it. The late Delia Derbyshire's sweeping electronic score is one of the works featured in this year's Ten Pieces season. It is joined by George Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue' and a newly-commissioned work by film composer Hans Zimmer. The aim of the season is to illustrate that classical music is 'a living, ever-evolving art form.' The ten chosen works span every era of classical music, based around the theme of 'trailblazers.' Among the composers being showcased are Florence Price, who was the first African-American woman to be recognised as a symphonic composer and Polish musician Grażyna Bacewicz, who wrote defiant, subversive music in occupied Warsaw during World War Two. Indian sitar guru Ravi Shankar, Vivaldi's - 'Winter' from The Four Seasons and Steve Reich's 'Music for Eighteen Musicians' also feature. Zimmer, whose film scores include The Lion King, True Romance, The Dark Knight and Gladiator, is writing a new theme for the season - in recognition of the fact most people's first exposure to orchestral music comes in the cinema. 'I am honoured to have been asked to create a piece for BBC Ten Pieces Trailblazers series,' he said. 'At the heart of my new piece, Earth is the sound of young voices who underlie the music. Set against the backdrop of our magnificent, precious planet, I hope it will be the perfect springboard to inspire creativity in classrooms across the UK.' Since it first launched in 2014, the Ten Pieces project has been rolled out to more than ten thousand schools, reaching five million people across the UK. The new season, like the ones before it, will culminate in a concert at the BBC Proms, where children who have studied the works in the classroom can see them played by a real-life orchestra. The Doctor Who theme is the 'Strawberry Fields Forever' of TV music, innovative, audacious and endlessly covered by amateurs and professionals alike. The music itself was written by Ron Grainer, but it was Delia Derbyshire at the BBC's Radiophonic Workshop who took his notes and created a futuristic, otherworldly arrangement so familiar to million. It was 1963, so Derbyshire and her assistant Dick Mills did not have access to anything like a synthesisers. Instead, they painstakingly created each note by cutting up and splicing together bits of analogue tape, then speeding them up and slowing them down. The famous bassline was a recording of a single plucked string, whose pitch was altered by an oscillator. Onto that, Delia layered white noise and strange test tones, making it sound as if the music had been beamed from another dimension. The story goes that when Derbyshire played the music back to Grainer, he asked: 'Did I write that?' To which she replied: 'Most of it.' Over the years, the theme has been tweaked, nipped, tucked, embellished and orchestrated - but it has never lost the essence of Derbyshire's original creation. And, while BBC policy dictated that Grainer got full credit for the music (he reportedly objected, claiming rightly that Derbyshire was the real genius behind the theme), Derbyshire has come to be recognised as a true pioneer of electronic music and sonic manipulation. Artists including The Aphex Twin, Orbital, The Chemical Brothers and The KLF have highlighted her influence, while her techniques were borrowed by everyone from The Be-Atles to The Pink Floyd.
Stephen Fry has reportedly begun filming scenes for the new Doctor Who series where he will appear 'as a special guest.' Mind you, this is according to the Daily Mirra so it might be an idea to take this story with at least a small pinch of salt until someone with a Hell of a lot more credibility than they confirm it to be true. Jodie Whittaker has been pictured by fans filming in Swansea over the last few days. Several of these fans claimed that they had seen national treasure Stephen 'in a tweed Forties-style suit on-set.' A TARDIS was also spotted being used in Swansea's Guildhall. An alleged - though suspiciously anonymous and, therefore, possibly fictitious - 'source' allegedly 'confirmed' Stephen was one of the guests appearing in the new series. Whether this was the same alleged 'source' who, infamously, told the Mirra in 2017 that Kris Marshall and not Jodie Whittaker had been cast as Peter Capaldi's replacement is, at this time, unknown. But, we can probably guess. Stephen Fry is, of course, known to be a long-time Doctor Who fan. Indeed, he once almost wrote for the series when Russell Davies was showrunner, but he didn't have time to complete the script that he'd pitched so we got lumbered with Fear Her instead. A tragedy of several levels. The former Qi host 'has appeared in a number of other BBC shows over the years including Blackadder, A Bit of Fry & Laurie and [the] travel series Stephen Fry In America,' the Mirra's report excitedly concludes. You knew all that, right?
Jodie Whittaker is one of more than one hundred women who will receive the Freedom of the City of London to commemorate the centenary of the Representation of the People Act 1918. The Court of Common Council, the City of London Corporation's top decision-making body, has set the final seal of approval upon the Freedoms, paving the way for ceremonies to take place at Guildhall over the coming months. Last year, the City Corporation agreed to mark one hundred years of female suffrage with the award of the Freedom by inviting members of the Court of Common Council and colleagues in their City of London Wards to nominate candidates. The nominees are drawn from a wide range of backgrounds, but all of them have a connection to the City. Jodie trained at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. The Freedom of the City of London is believed to have begun in 1237 and enabled recipients to carry out their trade. Today people are nominated for, or apply for, the Freedom because it offers them a link with the historic City of London and one of its ancient traditions. The Freedom is also offered to individuals by the City of London Corporation to help celebrate a significant achievement or to pay tribute to their outstanding contribution to London life or public life.
The cover art and special features of the animated version of the missing Doctor Who adventure The Macra Terror, due to be released on DVD, Blu-ray, special edition Steelbook and digital download on 25 March, have been revealed. Originally broadcast in four weekly parts from 11 March to 1 April 1967 and starring yer actual Patrick Troughton, Anneke Wills, Michael Craze and Frazer Hines, no episodes of this serial are known to have survived on film. Fortunately for fans, a complete audio recording of all four parts still exists. Now, fifty two years later, the four episodes will be brought back to life through the power of animation, available on disc and digital download, in both colour and black and white. Anneke Wills says: 'Back in 1967 "There's no such thing as Macra!" was the cry; and for many years after there was no such thing as The Macra Terror. Now, thanks to the magic of animation, we can see the story come to life again. I can't wait to see this adventure and how gratifying to have a little more of Ben and Polly's time with The Doctor available to be seen by new generations.' In the opening episode, The Doctor and his companions Ben, Polly and Jamie arrive on a human colony in the far future. The colony appears to be a giant recreational complex, a holiday camp for rest and relaxation. Everyone looks happy but, obviously, all is not as it seems. Otherwise it would've been a pretty boring four episodes, wouldn't it? The colony, in fact, has been infiltrated with a nasty dose of the crabs and the populous has been brainwashed by a race of giant parasitic creatures called The Macra. The Macra have only returned to the series once since - and then only briefly, forty years later - with David Tennant's Doctor in the 2007 episode Gridlock. Paul Hembury, the Executive Producer of BBC Studios said: 'After the success of Shada, we were very excited by the possibility of further animations. We are therefore delighted to be able to bring fans these missing episodes in a completely new form.' Amongst a plethora of bonus features, the very excellent Toby Hadoke presents an audio commentary track on all four episodes, featuring cast and crew from the original 1967 production - Frazer Hines, Terence Lodge, Anthony Gardner, Maureen Lane and the story's director, John Davies. The commentary was produced by John Kelly and recorded in London on 4 January. Surviving film frames, fragments of existing footage and set photographs have also been brought together with the original unedited audio to reconstruct a presentation of the original - now lost - live-action production of The Macra Terror. This is available to watch with an optional narration track read by Anneke Wills.
Shooting has extremely begun this week on The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) and Mark Gatiss his very self's much-anticipated adaptation of Dracula. As confirmed by this here shot of the three executive producers on-location.
ITV have confirmed that the Inspector Morse prequel, Endeavour starring Shaun Evans, will be returning in 2020, after the sixth series of the popular period crime drama came to an end on Sunday. In addition, Brenda Blethyn will also return as Vera Stanhope for a tenth series of another From The North favourite, Vera next year, it has been confirmed.
There was, of course, never too much doubt that From The North favourite Endeavour would be returning for another series; it is, after all, one of ITV's biggest drama money-spinners. Nevertheless, the rather grim pre-episode announcement by an ITV continuity-type person before Sunday's final episode rather suggested that not all of the regular cast would make it out of 1969 in one piece. In the event not only Morse, Strange and Max - all of whom we knew couldn't get murdered - but also Thursday and Bright survived the bloodied carnage of a Masonic/local government/police corruption scandal. Written, once again by Russell Lewis, who has scripted all of the twenty seven Endeavour screenplays to date, the next series will be set in 1970 and production will begin later this year for transmission in 2020. Filming will take place, as usual, in Oxford and the surrounding area. Lewis said: 'We're thrilled ITV has asked Team Endeavour to continue to add to the Casebook of Colin Dexter's immortal creation and take E Morse and Oxford's Finest into a new decade of decimalisation, package holidays, the Oil Crisis, Blackouts, Three Day Weeks and Europa Endlos.' So, Endeavour morphs into Life On Mars it would seem. Excellent. Looking forward to that. Only time will tell if the small furry creature that has been living on Shaun Evans's top lip for the last four weeks will still be there next year or whether it will have found itself a home elsewhere.
From The North's TV Comedy Line Of The Week came from the latest episode of Only Connect. 'There's been a focus group audit of Only Connect at the BBC,' the Divine Victoria claimed at the beginning of the episode. 'We've had an edict through to make the show more appealing to the younger, fifteen-to-twenty demographic. So, look out, one of tonight's questions might be about Jake Paul, the massive YouTuber who started on Vine. I mean, it won't, it'll be about a Smiths album track or Blake's 7 but, you know, happy to show willing!'
'I did not see that coming!' How thrilling it was to see From The North favourite Gotham effectively doing A Matter of Life & Death in its latest episode, The Trial Of Jim Gordon.
Whilst Gotham was off on its - very impressive - Powell and Pressburger-trip, Star Trek: Discovery was revisiting that long-running franchises own past, in essence, doing an direct sequel to the first Star Trek pilot, The Cage in If Memory Serves. That was pretty splendid too.
The plot of Game Of Thrones is, famously, one of the best kept secrets in television and it turns out even the author of the original novels, doesn't know how the final series will end. George Martin (no, the other one) has spent the last eight years working on the sixth book in his Song Of Ice & Fire series - The Winds Of Winter - and the HBO show long ago made significant departures from his novels. As the forthcoming eighth and final series nears, Martin has revealed that it is not only fans who are in the dark about the fate of the people of Westeros. He is too. 'I haven't read the [final series] scripts and haven't been able to visit the set because I've been working on Winds,' Martin told Entertainment Weekly. 'I know some of the things. But there's a lot of minor character [arcs] they'll be coming up with on their own. And, of course, they passed me several years ago. There may be important discrepancies.' Martin, who said he had 'mixed feelings' about the show ending, also recently revealed that he had turned down the opportunity of making a cameo appearing in the final series because he was 'too busy' working on his novel and 'couldn't justify' travelling to Belfast.
Police in Northern Ireland have flatly denied that they 'ruined' an epic Game Of Thrones scene by flying a helicopter over filming. The Police Service of Northern Ireland was accused of flying an aircraft over a 'ridiculously sensitive scene' in Magheramorne Quarry, County Antrim. Entertainment Weekly's James Hibberd claimed that filming had 'fallen silent' in April 2018 only to be 'hit by the sudden roar of a helicopter over the government-protected airspace.' 'The great battle is over, the snowy ground is streaked with blood, beloved heroes lay dead outside the castle gates,' he wrote. 'Winterfell is quiet. And then ... a sudden roar from above. A gust of wind. A blur of low-flying movement. A dragon? No. An ice dragon? Worse. "[A] fucking helicopter just flew right over the set!" says an alarmed crew member. The helicopter seemingly came out of nowhere and flew directly over a ridiculously sensitive scene from the show's final season.' He claimed that production then called the Civil Aviation Authority while the showrunners were told of the 'potential breach.' An hour later, they were allegedly 'told it was a police helicopter.'
There has been a lot written about what Game Of Thrones says about getting hold of power and hanging onto it, but Kit Harington believes that the popular fantasy drama has started to 'warp' real-world politics. Speaking to Stephen Colbert on The Late Show, Harington said: 'I got this theory that we kind of screwed the political landscape. I just felt like certain political figures tried to emulate Joffrey and things went a bit wrong.' He also said he 'can't quite grasp' the level of fame he has achieved since first playing Jon Snow in 2011 and joked he 'couldn't even grow a beard then.' Harington said the journey had been 'extraordinary' and at the outset 'all I knew is I booked a pilot on an HBO TV show and that was just winning the lottery anyway.'
Line Of Duty actress and From The North favourite Vicky McClure has revealed that she has auditioned for from The North favourite Peaky Blinders 'numerous times.' The actress mentioned the 'career rejection' in a new interview. Vicky told Red magazine that she had 'tried out' for 'every series' of Peaky Blinders but has missed out on a role each time. The actress also revealed that she was turned down for 2015 movie Suffragette, recalling: 'When ­Suffragette came up I thought it could be a game-changer for me, but it wasn't to be. Although work is regular, it doesn't always go my way.' McClure is currently gearing up for series five of Line Of Duty, which released a first-look trailer a few days ago. The new series promises plenty of drama, as three police officers are murdered following a hijack by armed men wearing balaclavas.
There's a fascinating interview with Killing Eve producer Elinor Day in advance of the second series of the From The North favourite at the Entertainment Weekly website which you can check out here.
If you are a fan of collecting vinyl - which this blogger is, when he can afford it - and a fan of Buffy The Vampire Slayer - which this blogger also very much is - then here's some terrific news. One of the popular series' most iconic episodes, 2001's Once More, With Feeling, is getting a vinyl release later this month. According to Alternative Press, the LP set will include all of the music from the episode as well as some, allegedly, 'super-cool artwork.' Mondo Records will be doing the pressing and Mo Shafeek, the manager of the label, recently provided a statement about the upcoming release. 'We've been huge fans of Buffy The Vampire Slayer for decades. Our obsession with the musical episode Once More With Feeling inadvertently presented a solution to a long standing problem of how to best entry point for us to celebrate the brilliantly singular, yet expansive series,' Shafeek said. 'It took a few years to get it perfect, but we couldn't be prouder with the artwork that Paul Mann put together - including some truly inspired additional design by Chris Bilheimer and Eric Montes, who came up with the idea of the Slaybill lyric booklet.' The music for the episode was written by the series' creator, Joss Whedon along with composer Christophe Beck and performed by the show's cast. Mostly very impressively let it be noted - although Alyson Hannigan, bless her, couldn't hold a note to save her life. A 'songtrack' CD of the episode's music was previously released in 2002.
Quite a lot of Buffy-related news has been occurring of late. Last week, many of the cast reunited at Wizard World Portland along with some of the cast of the series' spin-off, Angel. Though, two important figures were missing, Sarah Michelle Gellar and David Boreanaz both of whom still have careers.
The first full trailer for Good Omens has bee released, delivering a proper look at Michael Sheen and David Tennant as the angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley embarking on an unlikely mission to sabotage Armageddon. Andit looks fantastic. Amazon Prime Video's heavily-hyped adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s 1990 novel is due to be released on Friday 31 May. The series was first announced at the start of 2017, before the creators assembled a ridiculously star-studded cast that also includes Jon Hamm, Benedict Cumberbatch, Nick Offerman, Derek Jacobi, Anna Maxwell-Martin, Frances McDormand, Mark Gatiss and Sian Brooke.
'Believe in what you can see.' And, speaking of Neil Gaiman, American Gods series two is almost upon us and the Independent has unveiled 'an exclusive fresh piece of additional content ahead of the new episodes.' Or, 'a trailer' as we almost-normal people say. Almost two years after the first series debuted, the drama - an adaptation of Gaiman's novel - has had a very troubled time over the last couple of years but is set to return with a run of episodes that will pick up where its predecessor left off: with Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) fully embracing the conflict between the Old Gods and the new as the 'protector' of Mister Wednesday (the great Ian McShane). Returning cast members include Crispin Glover who plays New God leader Mister World and Emily Browning, the deceased wife of Shadow. New cast additions include House Of Cards' Sakina Jaffrey, who will play Hindu goddess Mama-ji, while Dean Winters will appear as Mister Town. Since its first series concluded, American Gods saw a shake-up as showunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green stepped down and lost From The North favourites Gillian Anderson and Kristin Chenoweth from the cast. Jesse Alexander - who served as an executive consultant on Lost and wrote for Hannibal - was the showrunner for much of series two's eight episodes although he too left the production before the series concluded. American Gods returns to Prime Video next Monday, with new episodes coming to the service weekly. And, despite all the back-stage shenanigans, on the evidence of the clips released thus far, it looks great.
Call The Midwife has been renewed for two more series, the BBC has confirmed. The award-winning drama, which follows a group of midwives in London's East End in the 1960s, will now be on air until at least 2022. The previously announced series nine will start filming shortly, the BBC said. Series ten and eleven will contain eight episodes as well as the usual Christmas specials. Heidi Thomas, the creator, writer and executive producer of the series, said: 'Even after all these years, it still feels as though Call The Midwife has more truth to tell, more tears to cry, more life to celebrate and more love to give. We are blessed with the best cast, crew and audience a show could wish for and I could not be more excited about our future.' Charlotte Moore, the director of BBC content, said that the corporation was 'delighted' to have extended 'such a very special show.'
The BBC director general, Tony Hall, has 'mocked the size of Netflix's viewing figures,' claiming 'only' seven million Britons watched The Crown despite the enormous media buzz around the big-budget show. Actually, Hall didn't 'mock' the viewing figures or anything even remotely like it, he was merely drawing a comparison between the audiences for the BBC's most viewed dramas and those of Netflix but, the article reporting this was written by some sneering fuck from the Gruniad Morning Star so introducing a bit of conflict to get all the box-set bores at the sneering Middle Class hippy Communist newspaper up-in-arms appeared to be an opportunity too good to miss. The BBC boss said - correctly - that high-profile dramas such as Luther and Bodyguard 'reached larger audiences with a smaller budget' on the public broadcaster than expensive Netflix shows. 'I mentioned the Bodyguard finale reaching seventeen million viewers,' he told a media conference in London. 'That was in one month. Our data suggests The Crown reached seven million users in seventeen months.' Netflix is, of course, infamous for never revealing the number of people who view any of its shows, 'leaving industry rivals and the media to fill in the blanks,' the Gruniad sneers. This approach means the streaming service does not have to admit which of its shows are critical hits but are flop with audiences, while also avoiding direct comparisons between the popularity of its shows and the audiences for programmes on traditional channels. A BBC spokesperson said that Hall's source for the viewing figures he quoted was 'a nationally representative survey commissioned by the corporation last year,' which asked Britons whether they had watched at least fifteen minutes of an episode of The Crown. Netflix declined to comment on the figures. Well, why break the habit of a lifetime. The Crown, which is following the reign of the Queen from her early years to the present day, is scheduled to last six series at a rumoured cost of one hundred million knicker. The drama, created by Peter Morgan, has been a major critical hit with sneering Middle Class hippy Communists and box-set bores 'and has been seen as indicative of a media environment where leading British television talent choose to work for streaming services on bigger budgets rather than produce material for domestic broadcasters,' according to one such sneering Middle Class hippy Communist. Hall's allegedly 'aggressive stance towards Netflix' came as he urged the BBC to improve its online offering and prepare for an era where many licence fee payers never watch live television channels. He said that the BBC - and other public service broadcasters - 'provided distinctive British content' which Netflix and Amazon 'never would be willing to produce.' However, he argued that traditional broadcasters are being held back by tough media regulation which did not apply to rival online video operations. 'The landscape in which we operate has changed beyond all recognition over the past decade. But our regulation has stayed largely the same,' he said. Hall said that the BBC's entire annual spent on television content is around one-and-a-half billion smackers across a whole year, leaving it struggling to compete: 'Analysts estimate that Netflix spent as much as thirteen billion dollars on movies and shows last year. Amazon has a content spend of around five billion dollars. They're reportedly setting aside a reported one billion for five seasons of a Lord Of The Rings series. Disney has a one hundred million dollar budget for a single series of Star Wars.' Hall also defended plans to put BBC content on a new paid-for BritBox streaming service after it has finished on iPlayer, which will be charged in addition to the licence fee. He said that this was the modern equivalent of paying 'a bit extra' for a DVD of a BBC show once it has come off-air. Alex Mahon, Channel Four's chief executive, told the event that she 'expected' her channel to join ITV and the BBC as part of the BritBox project 'in due course.'
Pauley Perrette is making her TV comeback nearly a year after leaving NCIS. The actress, best known for playing Abby Sciuto between 2003 and 2018 in the long-running navy crime drama, has signed up as one of the leads for a CBS multi-camera pilot from Jane The Virgin creator Jennie Snyder, reports Deadline. In Broke, Perrette will play Jackie, 'a tough, sharp-witted, loving but struggling single mother' whose life 'is changed when her estranged sister and her husband Miguel (Jaime Camil) move into Jackie's condo.'
The Scottish actor Tam Dean Burn is recovering at home after being stabbed in a street attack. The BBC reports that the sixty-year-old had finished speaking at an event at the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh when he was assaulted outside the venue. The actor, whose credits include Outlander and Fortitude, was initially treated in hospital but later released. Police said that a man had been arrested in connection with the incident. The forty two-year-old, who has not been named, was arrested outside the city's Crichton Close, a police spokesman said. The incident occurred after a tribute event to the Scottish poet Tom Leonard, who died last year. About sixty people - including Burn, Liz Lochhead, Joy Hendry, Kevin Williamson and George Gunn - attended the event. Emergency services attended and guests were kept inside for about an hour.
Johnny Depp has reportedly launched legal action against his ex-wife Amber Heard, accusing her of defamation. In December, Heard wrote an article for the Washington Post describing the 'backlash' she faced due to speaking out about domestic violence. Depp's lawsuit claims that he 'never abused' Heard and the allegations are 'part of an elaborate hoax' to advance his ex-wife's own acting career. He is seeking fifty million dollars in damages. Heard first accused Depp of domestic violence in May 2016, the year after they were married. Depp was ordered to stay away from her and the couple bitterly divorced in 2017. In her piece for the Washington Post, Heard did not specifically name Depp but described her experiences of speaking out against domestic violence, stating that she 'faced our culture's wrath.' She claimed that she had lost a role in a film, was dropped by a major fashion brand and witnessed 'how institutions protect men accused of abuse.' Depp's defamation claim argues that the article worked on 'the central premise that Ms Heard was a domestic abuse victim and that Mister Depp perpetrated domestic violence against her' and states that she was, in fact, the perpetrator. The lawsuit claims her allegations lost him his lucrative role as Jack Sparrow in the Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise. Heard's attorney Eric George told People magazine that Depp's legal action is 'an attempt to silence' his ex-wife but 'she will not be silenced.' He added that Depp's actions 'prove he is unable to accept the truth of his ongoing abusive behaviour,' but that Heard's legal team 'would prevail in defeating this groundless lawsuit.' In response, Depp's attorney Adam Waldman told the same magazine 'we hardly intend to silence Ms Heard' but 'look forward to holding the overwhelming video, photographic and eyewitness evidence we finally possess up against Amber Heard's (so far silent) attempts to explain the inexplicable.'
Billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch's FOX News channel allegedly knew about Donald Rump's illegal hush money payment to a porn actress ahead of the 2016 presidential erection but 'killed' the story because the media mogul wanted him to win, it was reported on Monday. The FOX journalist Diana Falzone 'had obtained proof' of Rump's alleged extramarital affair with Stormy Daniels, as well as e-mails which 'showed his lawyer, Michael Cohen, planned to buy her silence through a non-disclosure agreement,' according to The New Yorker. But, the report, a potentially huge scandal which could have damaged Rump at the polls, never saw the light of day. The FOX News executive Ken LaCorte reportedly told Falzone: 'Good reporting, kiddo. But Rupert wants Donald Trump to win. So just let it go,' The New Yorker article claims. The magazine adds that LaCorte denied the comment, but one of Falzone's colleagues confirmed having 'heard the account.' Falzone was later demoted, sued FOX and reached a settlement that includes a non-disclosure agreement preventing her from speaking about the matter. For ever. The symbiotic relationship between Rump's White House and America's most-watched cable news network has become well-established, with one amplifying the message of the other, for example by fanning fears of illegal immigration at the US-Mexico border. The president is a frequent FOX News viewer, often live-tweeting his reactions to the channel during his so-called 'executive time' and he has given it more than forty interviews (compared with, for example, none for CNN). Rump is known to speak regularly with 'a brains trust' which includes the FOX News host Sean Hannity, who is given 'preferential access' and 'widely suspected to have more influence' with the world's most powerful man than his own intelligence agencies according to the Gruniad Morning Star. The New Yorker quotes Nicole Hemmer, author of Messengers Of The Right, a history of the conservative media's impact on American politics, as saying: 'It's the closest we've come to having state TV.' The Wall Street Journal, also owned by billionaire tyrant Murdoch, 'revealed' in January last year that Cohen had arranged the one hundred and thirty thousand dollar transfer to Daniels weeks before the 2016 presidential erection, allegedly to 'stop her talking' about the alleged affair with Rump in 2006. The hush money payment has become a central focus of investigations into the president. Cohen pleaded very guilty last year to a campaign finance violation related to the Daniels payout. Last week, testifying before Congress, Cohen produced what he claimed was a cheque from the Rump family paying him back. On Monday, the New Yorker's Jane Mayer published 'a major report' on the quasi-merger between Rump and FOX News, suggesting that the latter has the power 'to shape government policy.' It suggests that late last year Rump was poised to sign a spending bill to avert a partial government shutdown but was 'persuaded not to by Fox News pundits.' One of Mayer's most significant alleged 'findings' relates to an effort in 2017 by Rump to pressure Gary Cohn, then director of the National Economic Council, to 'pressure' the justice department to thwart AT&T's eighty five billion dollar acquisition of Time Warner. The president reportedly summoned Cohn and Rump's then chief of staff, John Kelly, into the Oval Office and said to Kelly: 'I've been telling Cohn to get this lawsuit filed and nothing's happened! I've mentioned it fifty times. And nothing's happened. I want to make sure it's filed. I want that deal blocked.' The New Yorker reports: 'Cohn, a former president of Goldman Sachs, evidently understood that it would be "highly improper" for a president to use the justice department to undermine two of the most powerful companies in the country as punishment for unfavorable [sic] news coverage and as a reward for a competing news organisation that boosted him. According to the source, as Cohn walked out of the meeting he told Kelly, "Don't you fucking dare call the justice department. We are not going to do business that way."' The claim prompted sharp criticism. Ted Lieu, a Democratic congressman, tweeted: 'If this Jane Mayer article is accurate, it means Donald Trump engaged in abuse of power.' George Conway, a lawyer and Rump critic who is also married to The White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway, tweeted: 'If proven, such an attempt to use presidential authority to seek retribution for the exercise of First Amendment rights would unquestionably be grounds for impeachment.' The AT&T/Time Warner deal eventually went ahead after the justice department lost in court. Mayer writes that 'a direct pipeline' has been established between The Oval Office and billionaire tyrant Murdoch. 'Multiple sources told me that Murdoch and Trump often talk on the phone. A former aide to Trump, who has been in The Oval Office when Murdoch has called, says, "It's two men who've known each other for a very long time having frank conversations. The president certainly doesn't kowtow to Murdoch, but Murdoch also doesn't to him."' A FOX News spokesperson referred the Gruniad to a statement released last year by Noah Kotch, then editor-in-chief and vice-president of FOX News Digital but now no longer at the company. It said: 'Like many other outlets, we were working to report the story of Stephanie Clifford's account in October 2016 about then presidential candidate Donald Trump and a possible payment by Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. In doing our due diligence, we were unable to verify all of the facts and publish a story.'
A YouTube video maker who was fined for training a dog to perform a Nazi salute on camera has been dropped from a BBC Scotland programme 'following public backlash' according to the Gruniad Morning Star. The digital channel, which launched last week, allegedly 'came under fire' on Saturday when it was revealed that Mark Meechan, known as Count Dankula on his YouTube channel, had recorded appearances in two editions of late-night discussion show The Collective. A statement released by BBC Scotland on Sunday confirmed that it would not broadcast the two programmes. 'We have been reviewing our new late-night discussion programme The Collective during the edit process,' it said. 'In this case, we have concluded that its not appropriate to include Mark Meechan as a contributor.' Jewish campaigners had criticised the broadcaster's decision to use Meechan and MSPs had called on BBC Scotland to 'reconsider.' Meechan, of Coatbridge in Lanarkshire, was fined eight hundred knicker after being found extremely in breach of the Communications Act 2003 at Airdrie sheriff court in April. The offending video - entitled M8 Yer Dug's a Nazi - was deemed 'grossly offensive.' It showed his girlfriend's pug, Buddha, raising its paw in response to repeated calls of 'Sieg Heil' and 'Gas the Jews'. Meechan pleaded not guilty to the charge, claiming that the clip, which has been viewed more than three million times, was only made to 'annoy' his girlfriend and has 'comedic value.' Meechan said that the verdict was an infringement of his freedom of speech and he is yet to pay the fine. In 2018, he joined UKiP and he has ties to former English Defence League leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, on whose YouTube channel he appeared on last April. Meechan took part in the banned editions of The Collective alongside podcaster James English and Glasgow dominatrix Megara Furie, who lamented the cancellation on Twitter. Meechan also tweeted a response to BBC Scotland's decision. 'Due to the media getting outraged, I got deplatformed and I am being edited out of the show,' he wrote. 'I fully one hundred per cent expected this. Even while filming, I was thinking, "No one is gonna let this air." So it's not a surprise to me.'
A man has been extremely charged with assault after Comrade Corbyn was 'egged' in North London. The incident occurred as Comrade Corbyn and the shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, were visiting Finsbury Park Mosque in Seven Sisters Road on Sunday. John Murphy, from Barnet, has been charged with 'assault by beating,' the Metropolitan Police said. Although, if you beat an egg you usually end up with an omelette. Or, possibly, scrambled. He is due to appear at Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court on 19 March. Comrade Corbyn continued with his planned programme of events following the egging. The Labour leader later tweeted about the 'fantastic opportunity' Visit My Mosque Day had opened up to communities, although he did not mention the egging.
Fears over chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-fed beef are 'myths', according to the US ambassador to the UK. In the Daily Torygraph, Woody Johnson 'urged' the UK to 'embrace' US farming methods after Washington published its objectives for a UK-US trade deal. EU rules currently limit US exports of certain food products, including chicken and beef - but Johnson wants that to change in the UK after Brexit. Downing Street has repeatedly denied it will accept lower food standards. One or two people even believed them. A Downing Street spokeswoman said: 'We have always been very clear that we will not lower our food standards as part of a future trading agreement.' Johnson, however, described warnings over US farming practices as 'inflammatory and misleading smears' from 'people with their own protectionist agenda.' To paraphrase the late Mandy rice Davies, 'well, he would, wouldn't he?' Johnson also said the EU's 'Museum of Agriculture' approach was 'not sustainable,' adding: 'American farmers are making a vital contribution to the rest of the world. Their efforts deserve to be recognised. Instead, they are being dismissed with misleading scare-stories which only tell you half the story.' On chlorine-washed chicken, Johnson claimed the process was 'the same' as that used by EU farmers to treat their fruit and vegetables. Describing it as 'a public safety no-brainer,' he insisted it was the most effective and economical way of dealing with 'potentially lethal bacteria' such as salmonella and campylobacter. President of the UK's National Farmer's Union Minette Batters said that while Johnson was correct in saying chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-fed beef was 'safe' to eat, there were 'other factors' that needed considering. 'The difference is welfare standards and environmental protection standards,' she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. 'Our consumer has demanded high standards of animal welfare, we've risen to that challenge - he's right to make the point that food security is crucially important, we would say the same - but all we're saying is: "Produce the food to our standards and we'll have a trade deal."' Batters said that chicken farms in the US were not required, for example, to include windows in their sheds or clean out in between flocks. Although, whether than improves the taste of the chicken is another matter entirely. The US National Farmers' Union has always maintained that its chicken and beef, which use processes banned by the EU, are 'perfectly safe' and argues that there has been 'a lot of fear-mongering.' However, its British counterpart said that the UK government should not accept a US deal 'which allows food to be imported into this country produced in ways which would be illegal here.' That, Batters said, 'would just put British producers out of business.' Amy Mount from Greener UK, an environmental lobby group, said: 'This wish-list shows that a hard-Brexit pivot away from the EU in favour of the US would mean pressure to scrap important protections for our environment and food quality. Any future trade deals should reflect the high standards that the UK public both wants and expects.' Despite the NFU's insistence that consumers are keen to maintain the current welfare standards in farming, Batters said there was 'a possibility' that the UK would 'give in' to the US. She said: 'There's always been the risk - and agriculture has always been the last chapter in any trade deal to be agreed - so, yes, there is a huge risk that British agriculture will be the sacrificial lamb in future trade deals.' Although, ironically, lamb isn't one of the meats at issue here. Meanwhile, Doctor Emily Jones, who is an associate professor of public policy at the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford, also said that the issue was 'likely to be a sticking point' for America. 'I think the US won't buy it in negotiations with the UK,' said Jones, referring to the UK's insistence on maintaining its current standards. 'It has wanted, for a very long time, the EU to harmonise with US regulations and approaches to the production of food and it's exactly what it'll ask of the UK as well.' In the US, it is legal to wash chicken carcasses in strongly chlorinated water. Producers argue that this stops the spread of microbial contamination from the bird's digestive tract to the meat, a method approved by US regulators. But the practice has been banned in the EU since 1997, where only washing with cold air or water is allowed. The EU argues that chlorine washes 'could increase the risk of bacterial-based diseases such as salmonella' on the grounds that dirty abattoirs with sloppy standards would rely on it as a decontaminant rather than making sure their basic hygiene protocols were up to scratch. There are also concerns that such washes would be used by less scrupulous meat processing plants to increase the shelf-life of meat, making it appear fresher than it really is.
Claims of an MP's 'penchant for small boys' were passed to security services but they did not investigate or report them to police, an inquiry has heard. A 1986 letter implicated the late Tory MP for Chester, Peter Morrison, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse heard. The inquiry is examining how 'various institutions' responded to abuse claims, some made against 'prominent people.' Its latest stage is considering whether political parties 'turned a blind eye.' Brian Altman, lead counsel for the inquiry, said that some allegations had 'already been shown to be false.' Despite this, it was 'both necessary and appropriate for this inquiry to investigate' the role of Westminster during the three-week hearing, he said. Altman added that the inquiry would examine whether there were any 'attempted cover-ups.' The hearing on Monday revealed details of a 1986 letter by Sir Antony Duff, who was director-general of the security service at the time. Altman said that the letter reported information from a member of the Westminster establishment that Morrison had a 'penchant for small boys.' The informant had 'heard' the allegations from 'two sources' and passed the information to the security service. Further documents obtained by the inquiry from the Cabinet Office and the security service refer to this correspondence. 'Those documents make it clear that neither the security service nor the Cabinet Office took steps to investigate this allegation, nor did they report them to the police,' Altman said. As part of its investigation, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse will examine the role of party whips. It will investigate whether any whips became aware of allegations and 'tried to turn such allegations to their advantage' to keep party colleagues in line. Altman said that they will look at 'whether it is true that the Whips' offices of any party failed to report or, worse, assisted in suppressing allegations or evidence of child sexual abuse.' It will also look at whether the 'Westminster establishment sought to influence policing or prosecutors' decisions.' There will be evidence on 'whether there was a culture whereby people of public prominence were shielded from investigation and their wrongdoing tolerated at the expense of their victims,' added Altman. The way political parties, 'in particular the leadership of these parties,' reacted to allegations of abuse made against their members will also be looked at. The case of Morrison is one of the three case studies. Another will examine how the Liberal Party responded to allegations made against late MP Cyril Smith. The third, most recent, case study will look at Green Party member David Challenor. He was jailed for twenty two years last year after being convicted of sexual assault against a ten-year-old girl, the hearing was told. He was allowed to remain an active member of the party while he awaited trial, Altman said. They are 'extremely serious issues,' he added, telling the inquiry: 'The gravity of these issues in this investigation, we suggest, lies in the fact that they related directly to the alleged conduct of elected representatives.' He said a question by Labour's Tom Watson (power to the people!) in the House of Commons in 2012, in which he said there was 'clear intelligence suggesting a powerful paedophile network linked to Parliament and Number Ten,' could be seen as 'the catalyst for the establishment of this inquiry.' While there have been critics opposed to the work of the inquiry, Altman said that it aims to address 'outstanding issues of public concern.' The most serious allegations, from a man called Carl Beech - known by the pseudonym Nick at the time he made the claims to protect his identity - are not being considered by the inquiry. Beech is due to go on trial later this year, accused of fraud and perverting the course of justice. He denies the charges. The Westminster part of the inquiry is set to last for three weeks. It is one of thirteen strands being considered by the IICSA, which was set up in 2015 amid allegations a paedophile ring once operated in Westminster. Professor Alexis Jay is chairing the inquiry, which covers England and Wales. Witnesses this month are set to include representatives of MI5, the Metropolitan Police and the Independent Office for Police Conduct. As part of his opening statement, Altman listed a string of allegations against MPs - without concluding whether they were true or false. Before the hearing began, the son of the late Labour peer Lord Janner - who died before allegations of child sexual abuse made against him could be tried - accused the inquiry of being 'a witch hunt against dead politicians.' Daniel Janner, speaking outside the inquiry's headquarters, said it would 'unjustly trash' the reputations of people like his father as well as Sir Edward Heath and Lord Brittan, adding they 'cannot answer back from the grave.' Which is an entirely valid argument to be fair, albeit, it's not one you'll hear voiced very often when it comes to, for example, that right rotten rotter Jimmy Savile. Who - just like Janner, Heath and Brittan - was never charged with any criminal offence and who is now dead and, therefore, cannot defend himself. Because he is too busy burning in the pits of Hell for his filthy kiddie-fiddling ways, in his particular case. Janner described the inquiry as 'a massive, out-of-control waste of money' which was 'contrary to the basic principles of British justice.' Which would appear to be 'if a claim of alleged criminal conduct is made about someone after they have died then, just forget about it ... unless it's about Jimmy Savile.' An interesting definition, this blogger is sure you will agree, dear blog reader. Allegations involving Lord Janner are to be dealt with during a separate strand of the inquiry. The inquiry says its Westminster investigation will cover allegations of child sexual abuse committed by persons of public prominence associated with Westminster and how these came to light, the findings of relevant investigations, whether there is evidence of conspiracy, cover-up, interference or tolerance in relation to child sexual abuse committed by persons of public prominence associated with Westminster, whether governmental, political and law enforcement institutions were aware and took appropriate steps and whether there are adequate safeguarding and child protection policies in place within political parties, government departments and agencies. One area of inquiry will be the activities of the Paedophile Information Exchange, a campaign group which pushed for sex with children to be legal. There are allegations it had 'access to Home Office funding.'
The BBC has, allegedly, 'dropped' Michael Jackson's music from Radio 2, according to a newspaper report. One which the BBC subsequently denied. The Sunday Times claimed that songs by the iconic - if, somewhat odd - pop performer are no longer being played by the station, but the Beeb has insisted they don't 'ban artists.' Unless they're Gary Glitter, obviously. The newspaper alleged that 'bosses' (that's 'executives', only with less syllables) decided last week the King of Pop's back catalogue 'will no longer make it onto the air.' It comes as documentary Leaving Neverland broadcast claims that Jackson sexually abused two boys aged seven and ten. A representative for the BBC, however, denied that Jacko had been excluded from radio play. 'We consider each piece of music on its own merits and decisions about what we play on different network are always made with relevant audiences and context in mind,' the Sun was told. 'We don't ban songs or artists and Michael Jackson could be played on BBC Radio.' Wade Robson, now thirty six and James Safechuck, aged forty one, have both claimed in interviews that Jackson molested them on numerous occasions. Jackson died in 2009, aged fifty. His estate has dismissed the allegations as an attempt to 'cash in' on the singer. One or two people believed them.
Nico, the chanteuse who was the original femme fatale of 1960s art-rock, is to be portrayed in a new stage show starring Maxine Peake. The German-born singer is best known for her vocals on the seminal 1967 LP The Velvet Underground & Nico. But the show, titled The Nico Project, will focus on her bleak-as-fek 1968 solo LP The Marble Index. She later faded from the limelight and died in 1988. The show will be staged in July at the Manchester International Festival. Peake, who has starred in Peterloo, Black Mirror and Three Girls, said that she was 'attracted' by Nico's 'dark side.' 'Where does that come from?' she asked. 'I remember first listening to The Marble Index in my late teens in a dark room and I felt very uneasy about it. It takes you to uncomfortable places, but it's beautiful at the same time. And, I'm just fascinated with people who allow that to really seep out of them, to express that and to go to those places that most of us try to avoid.' Born Christa Päffgen, Nico started out as a model and had a small part in Federico Fellini's 1960 classic La Dolce Vita. She was then installed as one of the 'superstars' of Andy Warhol's Factory and loaned her icy vocals to The Velvet Underground, becoming one of the most striking figures of the 1960s scene. Her subsequent solo career was folk-inspired at first - exemplified on her classic 1967 debut, Chelsea Girls - but then took a decidedly Gothic turn with The Marble Index. But, she was also a heroin addict and spent some of the final years of her life living in flats and squats in Manchester and Salford. Peake told BBC News: 'You look at her work and it's extraordinary - the artistry and the depth. It's very dark, it's very complex, it's very challenging. I think she's been such a huge influence especially on a lot of female artists and currently you can hear a lot of [her] influence.' The show has an all-female creative team, led by director Sarah Frankcom. Peake added: 'Sarah said she wants it to be one of the most exposing pieces of work I've done, so I'm like, crikey, okay. So that's exciting. And nerve-racking.' The full Manchester International Festival line-up was announced on Thursday and will also include: Alfred Enoch starring in Tree, 'a piece of gig theatre' about South Africa created by Idris Elba and Young Vic artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah, film-maker David Lynch stageing his biggest UK art exhibition to date alongside film screenings and gigs at the Home Arts Centre, composer Philip Glass collaborating with director Phelim McDermott on Tao Of Glass, inspired by fragments from their own lives - with puppetry and 'Grime star' Skepta (he's a popular beat combo, m'lud) staging a rave in a secret venue, inspired by the history and his vision of the future of rave culture. Other artists taking part include Yoko Bloody Ono, Tania Bruguera, Rambert, Claire Cunningham and Janelle Monae.
The first public gig by alcoholic wife-beating Scouse junkie John Lennon and Yoko Bloody Ono is being 'celebrated' fifty years after it took place. Ono was booked to appear as part of a 'jazz performance' at Cambridge University's Lady Mitchell Hall on 2 March 1969 and Lennon came along as 'her band.' Although, in actual fact, two other musicians played with the duo, percussionist John Stevens and saxophonist John Tchicai. The ensuing racket was recorded and subsequently appeared on Lennon and Ono's 1969 LP, Unfinished Music Number Two: Life With The Lions. If you've never heard it, dear blog reader, do check it out, it's a hilariously unlistenable twenty six minutes of abject torture. A plaque which reads 'Yoko Ono John Lennon Cambridge 1969' has been unveiled in the hall to mark the event. It comes ahead of a six-month exhibition of Ono's work showing at a number of venues in the city. The couple's appearance as part of an 'experimental jazz concert' elicited just a few lines in the local and student press at the time, where it was reported that Lennon sat with his back to the small audience for much of the set. Ono on vocals began with 'a fearsome siren note' and ended the performance with 'a long series of screams.' Lennon 'was squatting at her feet, back to the audience, holding, shaking, swinging electronic guitars right up against a large speaker,' the Cambridge Evening News reported at the time. Speaking to the BBC's Andy Peebles in 1980 about the Cambridge concert, Lennon said: 'The audience were very weird, because they were all these sort of intellectual artsy-fartsies from Cambridge.' However, he added: 'They were totally solid.' Gabriella Daris, an art historian and curator of the forthcoming Ono exhibition which will be on show from June, said: 'There's very little to commemorate this other than a press report, word of mouth and the actual recording.' The commemorative plaque was unveiled on the fiftieth anniversary of the gig as their set from the time - called 'Cambridge 1969' - was played at full blast in the hall's foyer. It was given as 'a gift' to Cambridge University by Daris. 'The Cambridge concert was the first time ever that Ono and Lennon performed in public in the world,' she said. The exhibition, called Yoko Ono: Looking For ..., will feature more than ninety early, recent and new works by Ono and will run at various venues across the city until the end of the year.
America's new astronaut capsule has successfully docked with the International Space Station as part of its demonstration mission. The Dragon vehicle, launched by California's SpaceX company on Saturday, made the attachment autonomously. It is the latest in a series of tests the capsule must pass in order to get approval from NASA to transport people. All this particular mission is carrying is a test dummy and ninety kilograms of supplies. But, if everything goes according to plan, astronauts could be launching in the Dragon as early as July. The capsule's 'soft capture' contact with the ISS occurred when the station was flying over the Pacific Ocean just North of New Zealand. A 'full and secure' docking was confirmed about ten minutes later. The Dragon approached the four hundred kilometre-high station from the front and used its computers and sensors to guide itself in. Because, if it had tried docking from the rear dear blog reader, well, that would've been a complete disaster. Astronauts aboard the ISS watched closely on HD cameras to make sure the capsule performed as planned. The capsule advanced on the station slowly, stepping through a series of planned way points. US astronaut Anne McClain and Canadian David Saint-Jacques oversaw events from the station's big bay window, or Cupola. They had the facility to command the Dragon to hold, retreat and even abort the docking. After some rehearsals, the 'go' was given for the final approach. Attachment was made to a new type of mating adaptor on the ISS's Harmony module. This has a spring system which initially dampens the movement of the incoming vehicle, before applying a series of hooks to pull it in and make an air-tight seal - so-called 'hard capture.' McClain, Saint-Jacques and ISS commander Oleg Kononenko were able to enter the Dragon a couple of hours later, after the air pressures inside the capsule and the station had been equalised. Watching on the ground was Bob Behnken, who has been picked, along with Doug Hurley, to make the first manned mission in the Dragon when it gets its certification. 'It was super exciting to see it,' he said. 'I know you heard the applause and all the clapping that went along with the accomplishment today and so it's just one more milestone that gets us ready for our flight coming up here.' The docking procedure is a step up for SpaceX because the cargo ships it normally sends to the lab have to be grappled by a robotic arm and pulled into a berthing position. The freighters do not have the sophistication to dock themselves. The Dragon capsule is due to stay at the ISS until Friday when it will detach and begin the journey back to Earth. This is the phase of the mission that SpaceX founder Elon Musk says worries him the most -– the fiery, high-speed descent through the atmosphere. The Dragon's heatshield has a somewhat irregular shape and that could lead to temperature variations across the base of the capsule at hypersonic speeds. 'It should be fine, but that'll be a thing to make sure it works on re-entry,' said Musk. 'Everything we know so far is looking positive. Unless something goes wrong I should think we'll be flying [people] this year; this summer, hopefully.' The American space agency wants to contract out crew transport to SpaceX. Whereas in the past, NASA engineers would have top-down control of all aspects of vehicle design and the agency would own and operate the hardware - the relationship with industry has been put on a completely new footing. Today, NASA sets broad requirements and industry is given plenty of latitude in how it meets those demands. Agency officials still check off every step, but the approach is regarded as more efficient. NASA chief Jim Bridenstine said it was 'a new era where we are looking forward to being one customer, as an agency and as a country. We're looking forward to being one customer of many customers in a robust commercial market place in low-Earth orbit, so we can drive down costs and increase access in ways that historically have not been possible.' NASA is also working with Boeing on crew transport. The company has developed a capsule of its own called the Starliner. This will have its equivalent demo flight in the next couple of months.
The Insight probe's efforts to drill down below the surface of Mars appear to have hit some stony obstructions. The US space agency lander's HP3 'mole' was designed to dig up to five metres into the ground and began burrowing last week. But controllers back on Earth called a halt to operations when no progress was being made despite repeated hammering. Analysis suggests the forty centimetre-long mole mechanism, which will measure Mars' temperature, has barely got out of the tube that was guiding its descent. The instrument is also now tilted away from the vertical. It penetrated to a depth between eighteen and fifty centimetres into the Martian soil with four thousand hammer blows over a period of four hours, explained Tilman Spohn, HP3's principal investigator from the German space agency. 'On its way into the depths, the mole seems to have hit a stone, tilted about fifteen degrees and pushed it aside or passed it,' he added. 'The mole then worked its way up against another stone at an advanced depth until the planned four-hour operating time of the first sequence expired.' Professor Spohn said that there would now be 'a break in operations' of two weeks while the situation was 'assessed.' The Insight probe is sitting on flat terrain close to the equator in a region referred to as Elysium Planitia. The location was chosen after extensive study from orbit indicated the soil in the area might be deep with few sub-surface obstacles. But the presence of hidden rocks was always a possibility and was even expected. Tests on Earth prior to the mission getting under way demonstrated that the mole could handle coarse gravel and, given plenty of hammering time, even move larger stones out of the way. So this stoppage is by no means the end the matter. 'Planetary exploration is not as easy as pie,' stressed, Professor Spohn. The good news is that HP3's sensors can proceed with the first temperature measurements. The idea of the experiment is to find out how heat from the interior of the planet is being dissipated. This will give insights into how much natural radioactive decay is occurring inside Mars, and how much energy the planet still retains from its formation more than four-and-a-half billion years ago. Two other instrument packages on the probe are conducting complementary investigations. A seismometer system is checking the ground for Marsquakes - vibrations which could come from ongoing geological activity or from meteorite strikes. And a radio experiment is being used to check if the planet is wobbling on its axis - an indicator that it might have a liquid metal core like the Earth.
The outer region of the solar system may be the least explored, but scientists have managed to unravel several of its mysteries in recent weeks. On New Year's Day, the NASA spacecraft New Horizons encountered the icy Ultima Thule for the first time, shedding light on how it formed. Astronomers have also just discovered a previously unknown moon orbiting Neptune, which has been dubbed Hippocamp. Another discovery, thanks to new images from the Hubble Space Telescope, is that there are a variety of intriguing weather patterns in the atmospheres of both Neptune and Uranus. So what would it be like to go there? Having four times the diameter of the Earth, we typically refer to Uranus and Neptune as the 'ice giants.' Unlike the gas giants, Saturn and Jupiter, Neptune and Uranus are lower in hydrogen and helium and higher in concentrations of heavier materials such as methane, water and ammonia. Uranus is especially interesting as it is also the only planet in the solar system which rotates on its side. A Northern summer on Uranus lasts twenty one years with the North pole receiving constant sunlight, while the South pole sees continual darkness. This tilt to the Uranian axis is believed to be the result of an early solar system collision with an object at least as large as the Earth. Such a collision would either have released the internal heat reserves of the planet or created a layer of particles that effectively insulate the interior of the planet – preventing heat flow to space. Neptune, having avoided such an encounter, still has an outward heat flow. As such, both planets are almost the same temperature (at least, within a few degrees) despite Uranus being thirty three per cent closer to the Sun. The absence of any significant internal heat flow on Uranus means that this planet's atmosphere is distinctly less active than Neptune's. In fact, the Uranian atmosphere in winter is the coldest planetary atmosphere in the solar system. When Voyager 2 flew past Uranus in 1986, the planet appeared as a largely featureless green-blue disc. In the years since, however, scientists have realised that even this apparently cold, dead world has a surprisingly dynamic atmosphere. But the new images from the Hubble Space Telescope show a previously unseen huge white cloud likely composed of ammonia or methane ice enveloping the North pole. Clearly visible at the edge of this huge cloud system is a smaller cloud of methane ice that rotates around the larger cloud edge. These cloud structures may be seasonal, resulting from the current constant sunlight at the North pole. Around the equator of Uranus we can also see a thin band of cloud, though how this cloud band remains so narrow is not currently understood. Wind speeds on Uranus are so high that they can blow clouds along at up to five hundred and sixty miles per hour, which would spread clouds outwards over a large area. All planetary atmospheres possess a latitudinal circulation system that should, in theory, also distribute this cloud band over wider latitudes. It could be that these methane clouds are somehow constrained by these circulation patterns, due to altitude or chemical instability. If we could visit Uranus, the winds at a depth equivalent to the atmospheric pressure of Earth's surface could reach up to two hundred and fifty metres per second, or roughly three times as fast as a category five hurricane. Be sure to bring your coat, too, as temperatures at this depth are a frigid minus two hundred degrees. To put in context, that's even colder than Gatesheed in January. As strong as the winds of Uranus are, they are nothing compared to those found on its sister ice giant. Neptune boasts supersonic wind speeds of over thirteen hundred miles per hour and numerous storm systems. The most famous of these features was The Great Dark Spot that was observed in close up by Voyager 2 in 1989. This huge storm system covered an area roughly equivalent to one-sixth of the surface area of Earth. In the latest Hubble images, a different storm system is visible near the North pole, accompanied by bright clouds of methane ice crystals. The reason these features appear darker than their surroundings is because they are holes offering a view into deeper layers of the Neptunian atmosphere, much like the eye of a hurricane on Earth allows you to see the surface from space. Like on Jupiter and Saturn, these gigantic storm systems are believed to be powered by heat flowing out of the planet, left over from the planet's birth some four-and-a-half billion years ago. Once again, a visit here would be problematic, with similar temperatures to Uranus but double the wind speed. In fact, Neptune is the windiest planet in the solar system. The ice giants are the most commonly observed type of exoplanet - planets orbiting stars other than our Sun. If we know more about Uranus and Neptune, we can therefore understand more about planets throughout the universe. Of course, the ideal plan would be to travel to these worlds. Sadly, apart from the great distance involved, the exceptionally cold temperatures, massive storms and strong winds make them particularly unsuitable for a human visit. So for now, we shall just have to rely on telescopes like Hubble to tell us about our local ice giants.
It has been forty five years since the Soviet Union tried to send the probe to the surface of Venus. The spacecraft's return could be too close for comfort. Kosmos Four Eighty Two was designed to survive the crushing atmosphere of Venus, but failed to escape the pull of Earth's gravity after launch in 1972. Pieces of the vehicle burned up while reentering our own planet's atmosphere soon afterwards but, at least one big hunk appears to still be orbiting above us and may crash to Earth in the coming months. One amateur skywatcher who has been monitoring the intriguing bit of space junk told the website he 'guessed' it 'could' come down 'as early as later this year.' But, other experts estimate it has at least another year or two before it re-enters the atmosphere and likely makes a big splash somewhere. Among the least concerned is the European Space Agency's space debris office, which said that the Soviet space junk is 'currently on a two hundred and three kilometre by two thousand four hundred and two kilometre orbit. Our predictions don't see a re-entry before the mid-2020s.' Another veteran satellite watcher, Marco Langbroek, plugged data for the Kosmos Four Eighty Two Venusian lander into a model used by a number of NASA missions. 'Assuming the hardware still on-orbit is the semi-globular reentry vehicle, the model suggests it might survive until early 2020,' he said. However, Langbroek cautioned that predicting exactly when the craft will come back home in a blaze of glory is 'difficult' because there's no way to know what part of it still remains. Its highly oblong orbit also makes modelling tough. 'We don't know a lot about [this type of spacecraft], like their shape and rotation, which makes it difficult to get an accurate prediction on re-entry,' John Crassidis, a space debris expert at the University at Buffalo-SUNY said. 'Solar activity is an issue as well.' What makes Kosmos Four Eighty Two a little different from your average piece of space garbage, though, is that it's particularly tough. If the chunk still in orbit is indeed part of the lander, it was designed to withstand pressures equivalent to the deep ocean and heat up to four hundred and sixty seven degrees Celsius. 'If it is the entry sphere, it might well survive Earth atmosphere entry and hit the ground. In which case I expect it'll have the usual one-in-about-ten thousand chance of hitting someone,' writes Harvard astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell on his space report. 'The vehicle is dense but inert and has no nuclear materials. No need for major concern.' So, just trust the odds and invest in a nice sturdy hat in case. McDowell agrees with ESA that Kosmos For Eighty Two 'could' keep on orbiting for another five years or so, which means it might reach half-a-century in orbit since failing to come anywhere near its target. Whenever the lander finally does make an uncontrolled landing on Earth instead, it is likely to generate some coverage when its orbit starts to decay towards inevitable re-entry. The vast majority of space debris which makes it all the way back to the surface of Earth falls in the ocean, just as China's Tiangong-1 did last year. But, if the very remote chance that Kosmos For Eighty Two could hit a populated area does come true, it is liable to land with a bigger ker-splat than the little fleck of space debris which hit an Oklahoma woman a glancing blow on the shoulder in 1997.
India's army reportedly 'spent six months watching Chinese spy drones violating its air space, only to find out they were actually Jupiter and Venus.' Tensions have been high in the disputed Himalayan border area between the two nations in recent years, with India frequently accusing its neighbour of making incursions onto its territory. Things came to a head during a stand-off in April when Chinese troops were accused of erecting a camp on the Indian side of the de facto boundary known as the Line of Actual Control. By that stage, Indian troops had already documented three hundred and twenty nine alleged 'sightings' of unidentified objects over a lake in the border region, between last August and February, according to the Calcutta-based Telegraph. It quotes allegedly - though, suspiciously anonymous - 'military sources' as allegedly saying that the alleged objects violated the LAC one hundred and fifty five times. So, the army called the Indian Institute of Astrophysics to identify the objects. 'Our task was to determine whether these unidentified objects were celestial or terrestrial,' astronomer Tushar Prabhu told the paper. Only once the objects' movements were noted in relation to the stars were they identified as planets. The Telegraph suggests the sentry ought to be forgiven, with planets appearing brighter as a result of the different atmosphere at altitude and the increased use of surveillance drones.
Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle United pulled off a quite stunning comeback against Everton to edge closer to Premier League safety. Trailing two-nil at the break, Rafa The Gaffer's side went on to win three-two thanks to two late goals from Ayoze Peréz and a quality strike from Salomón Rondón. The result lifted The Magpies into thirteenth place in the Premier League with thirty four points and eight games left to play this season. The victory was particularly timely given that three of the clubs below United at the start of the day - Cardiff City, Southampton and Brighton & Hove Albinos - also won of Saturday. However, the game's biggest talking point was a first-half foul by England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford on Rondón. The former Mackem Filth keeper - who wasn't even booked by Bolton official Lee Mason - saved Matt Ritchie's subsequent penalty and seem to really enjoy childishly sticking his tongue out to the Magpies fans afterwards like he was so clever. Everton, already leading through a Calvert-Lewin goal, went two-nil up through a strike from Richarlison. However, spurred on by a seething sense of righteous injustice - just as they had been in another famous come-from-behind victory against Sheikh Yer Man City a couple of weeks ago - United fought back superbly after the break and claimed all three points whilst Pickford was left to slink off the pitch at the end, his tongue firmly stuffed inside his big gob. Newcastle made a promising start, but they didn't test Pickford before Everton got their eighteenth-minute breakthrough. Lucas Digne delivered a ball from the left which was headed past Martin Dúbravka by Calvert-Lewin from close range. The game's big moment of controversy came in the twenty ninth minute when Pickford crudely brought down Rondón - with a tackle more suited to Twickenham than a football stadium - after spilling a shot from Ritchie. Mason pointed to the spot but the hapless official, inexplicably, did not send off Pickford or, indeed, even yellow card him.
Pickford, off his line, inevitably stopped Ritchie's penalty and Everton promptly went up the other end and were two ahead less than a minute later. Dúbravka palmed a low cross from the right to Richarlison and he tapped the ball ine from close range. Mason further angered United fans before the break with several more highly debatable decisions and he left the pitch to a chorus of boos, chants of 'you're not fit to referee' and, some even less complimentary queries about the state of his parents relationship at the time of his birth. Ironically, however, Mason's decision to leave Pickford on the pitch ultimately worked hugely in United's favour as the blundering keeper made some right howlers in the second-half to aid the Black & Whites' fabulous fightback. Benitez replaced Jamal Lascelles, booked for a barge on Richarlison late in the first half, with Paul Dummett for the second half, the team reverting to a four-three-three system. Rondón went close with an effort early in the half, but the striker didn't miss in the sixty fifth minute after playing a one-two with Peréz. Rondón volleyed the return past Pickford for his ninth goal of the season. Rafa, not normally a man prone to exaggeration, later compared Pérez's pass to Lionel Messi and Rondón's finish to Alan Shearer. 'Once we scored,' Benítez said, 'everyone started believing we could score again.' Benitez sent on Kenedy for the last seventeen minutes and Jonjo Shelvey, making his comeback from injury, followed him shortly afterwards. Peréz levelled in the eighty first-minute after Pickford couldn't hold onto a shot from the, once again highly impressive, Miguel Almirón. The forward then capped a stellar performance when he scored a close-range winner three minutes later after Everton failed to clear a corner and Isaac Hayden found Rondón who set up Peréz to score. The strike, Peréz's sixth league goal of the season, almost lifted the roof off a rocking St James's Park and there were gleeful chants of 'dodgy keeper' aimed at pantomime villain Pickford as he ruefully picked the ball out of his net with a face like a smacked arse. Which, to be fair, was funny. The Toffees faded badly in the face of Newcastle's second-half onslaught and are now only three points in front of Benitez's side on thirty seven points.
Police are reported to be investigating complaints made by Cardiff City football club in the wake of the death of Argentinian striker Emiliano Sala. It follows claims in a Sunday newspaper that the club has accused the former sports agent Willie McKay of 'making threats' against Cardiff officials. McKay's son, Mark, was Nantes' acting agent in the deal for the footballer, who died in a plane crash last month. McKay denies the allegations. The Sunday Torygraph reported that the alleged threats were made on the weekend of Sala's funeral in Argentina last month. In a brief statement, a police spokeswoman said: 'South Wales Police can confirm that a complaint has been received from Cardiff City Football Club and is currently being investigated.' The club said it had been 'necessary and appropriate for South Wales Police to be engaged on the matter. We will not be commenting further at this time,' added a club official. Last week, McKay told the BBC that he felt Sala was 'abandoned' by Cardiff City and had to arrange his own travel following his fifteen million knicker transfer from Nantes. The body of the twenty eight-year-old was found in the wreckage of the Piper Malibu light aircraft in the English Channel on 4 February, after the plane disappeared near Guernsey on 21 January. The pilot, David Ibbotson, is still missing and his body has not been found. It emerged on Saturday that Ibbotson had dropped out of training for his commercial pilot's licence before it was completed. He was not licensed to carry paying passengers, which has led to speculation that the flight was illegal. An interim report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch on Monday said that Ibbotson held a private licence in the UK and the US, meaning he could not carry paying passengers within the EU, other than on a cost-sharing basis. But McKay, who commissioned the fight for Sala, told the BBC last week that the trip was not on a cost-sharing arrangement. The AAIB's investigation into the fatal crash is continuing, including examining the validity of the pilot's licence.
Pep Guardiola claims that Sheikh Yer Man City's critics are 'pushing' to 'find a reason' to 'punish' them, as the club is investigated by football's authorities. UEFA launched an investigation on Thursday in response to a series of claims made against the club by the German publication Der Spiegel. On Friday, the Premier League said that it was 'looking at' City's academy recruitment and financial matters. 'People press and push to find something wrong,' Guardiola whinged. Speaking before the Premier League announced its investigation, the Spaniard added: 'They want to underestimate what you achieve. I am not too concerned or worried about what people say if we win the title because what happens now with UEFA, they don't give us any credit for what we have done, believe me. I don't care. Absolutely zero.' In fact, it would appear, he doesn't care so much he used a press conference to tell everybody how much he doesn't care. Der Spiegel has published a series of claims, based on leaked documents, that league champions City have violated FFP rules. The publication also claims Sheikh Yer Man City made 'a banned payment' of two hundred thousand knicker to Jadon Sancho's agent when the England winger was but fourteen years old. 'The Premier League has previously contacted Manchester City to request information regarding recent allegations and is in ongoing dialogue with the club,' a Premier League statement read. 'The league has detailed financial regulations and strong rules in the areas of academy player recruitment and third-party ownership. We are currently investigating these matters and will allow Manchester City every opportunity to explain the context and detail surrounding them.' This season they have been investigated by the Premier League, UEFA, FIFA - over allegations they broke third-party ownership rules - and the Football Association, over the claims relating to a payment to Sancho's agent. Sheikh Yer Man City claim the allegations are 'entirely false.' One or two people even believed them. Guardiola is adamant the investigations will not tarnish his achievements at City, which include winning last season's Premier League with the highest number of points and goals. He said: 'If we have made mistakes we will be punished - it is what it is on and off the pitch - but I am pretty sure what we have done is incredible. I trust what the club has done a lot because I know them but hopefully it can solves as soon as possible.' Sheikh Yer Man City are competing for the quadruple of trophies this season as they remain in the chase for the league title, FA Cup and Champions League - after already claiming the Carabao Cup in February.
Moscow Chelski FC say that they are 'astonished' after their request to freeze a transfer ban while they appeal was denied. Because, obviously, Moscow Chelski FC - like, it would appear, Shiekh Yer Man City - believe that the rules which apply to all football clubs, do not apply to them. The Blues have been extremely banned from registering any new players until January 2020 for breaking rules over the signing of foreign under-eighteen players. The Premier League club deny any wrongdoing and have appealed against the decision. But FIFA - for once showing a bit of backbone when dealing with a club with more money than God - says it has denied measures which would see the transfer ban frozen during the appeal process. Moscow Chelski FC were charged after FIFA said it found breaches in twenty nine cases of ninety two investigated, including that of striker Bertrand Traore, now at Lyon. The Blues have also been fined four hundred and sixty grand, while the Football Association has been fined three hundred and ninety thousand smackers for letting them get away with it. In previous cases, involving Spanish clubs, FIFA has relaxed the measures so transfer bans were not enforced during the appeal process. 'Chelsea Football Club is astonished by the FIFA appeal committee's decision not to suspend its sanction pending completion of the appeal process,' read a shocked an stunned statement. 'So far as the club is aware, in all previous cases where a registration ban has been imposed by FIFA, a decision has also been made to suspend the sanction until the appeal process has been completed. In this case, Chelsea considers that it is being treated inconsistently in comparison with other European clubs.' The ban, which covers two transfer windows, does not prevent the release of players and will not apply to the club's women's and futsal teams. It was first reported in September 2017 that Moscow Chelski FC were being extremely investigated. Based on documents from Football Leaks, French website Mediapart claimed in November 2018 that nineteen Moscow Chelski FC signings had been 'looked at' during a three-year investigation and that fourteen of those signings were of players under the age of eighteen. Burkina Faso international Traore signed his first professional contract at Moscow Chelski FC in 2013, at the age of eighteen, but was not registered until January 2014. That deal, it is alleged by Mediapart, was for four-and-a-half years, despite the limit for under-eighteens being three years. In addition, it is claimed that Moscow Chelski FC paid for Traore to attend the twenty thousand quid-a-year Whitgift School in Surrey. Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid both received bans for breaching rules over the signing of minors in early 2016 and fellow Spanish club Barcelona were given a fourteen-month ban after breaking rules for signing international under-eighteens in 2014. However, a Barcelona appeal saw their punishment pushed back a year, allowing the club to sign Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic, Jeremy Mathieu, Claudio Bravo and Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
West Hamsters United midfielder Robert Snodgrass has been charged with allegedly abusing anti-doping officials, the Football Association has said. The alleged incident allegedly took place at the Hamsters' training ground on 6 February. The thirty one-year-old Scotland international, who faces a one-match ban and an eight thousand smackers fine, has until 18 March to respond to the charge. BBC Sport suggested Snodgrass was not scheduled to be tested, nor did he refuse to take a test. 'Robert Snodgrass has been charged with a breach of FA Rule E3(1),' the FA said in a statement on Monday. 'It is alleged the player used abusive and/or insulting words towards UK anti-doping officials who were visiting West Ham United's training ground on 6 February 2019 to conduct out-of-competition testing.' Snodgrass has played thirty two times for West Hamsters this season, scoring four goals in all competitions.
Twelve fans have been given football banning orders after 'mass disorder' broke out during a derby game. Thousands of pounds of damage was caused to Port Vale's stadium when they played Dirty Stoke's Under-Twenty Ones on 4 December, Staffordshire Police said. More than one hundred and fifty officers were deployed to Vale Park as seats, toilets and windows were broken in the away stand and a geet rive on with kids gettin' sparked and aal sorts. Chief Superintendent Wayne Jones said at the time tat his officers had faced 'shocking levels of hostility.' The twelve men were banned from attending all football games for three years - even a kick-about in the local park - after being extremely convicted at North Staffordshire Justice Centre on Tuesday for throwing missiles onto a football playing area. The force said there was 'mass disorder before, during and after' the Checkatrade Trophy tie where Vale beat Dirty Stoke four-nil. It had been the first Potteries derby since February 2002 and almost four thousand Stoke fans swelled the attendance to seven thousand nine hundred. Some fans had tried to set fire to a toilet block and officers had to use protective helmets and riot shields. Detective Inspector Steve Ward said: 'Since the fixture my team of detectives have been working hard to identify and locate all those responsible for the behaviour that resulted in thousands of pounds of damage at Vale Park. Violence and disorder at sporting fixtures will never be tolerated and the banning orders will go some way to preventing such behaviour in future.'
'Raging and furious' Hibernian chief executive Leeann Dempster said that 'nothing is off the table' after Glasgow Rangers captain James Tavernier was 'confronted' by a fan at Easter Road. The supporter attempted to kick the ball away from Tavernier as he moved to pick it up to take a throw in. The two then laid hands on each other before the fan was led away by police. Police Scotland confirmed that a twenty one-year-old man had been arrested in connection with the incident - and, presumably, given a damned good kicking down the cells. It comes just six days after Scott Sinclair was almost struck by a glass bottle thrown from the crowd at Easter Road during Glasgow Celtic's Scottish Cup quarter-final win. An irate Dempster told BBC Radio Scotland that the fan would be banned for life and that she will personally apologise to Tavernier. 'They've embarrassed this club tonight again, it's completely and utterly unacceptable,' she said. 'What are we going to be talking about tomorrow? What is going to be on the back pages of the paper? What are you going to be asking me about? You're going to be asking me about this utter idiot. There is a big debate, a healthy debate going on in the Scottish game. But I'm going to bring it back to personal responsibility. Who thought it was okay to come in here with a glass bottle and throw it? Who thinks it's alright to jump over an advertising hoarding? Ninety-nine-point-nine per cent of the people in here don't think it's okay and we ought to remember not to tarnish these guys as well. This individual will be banned for life. He's in custody at the minute and that's where he should remain as far as I'm concerned. This person and people like him are going to feel the full weight of what we, and hopefully Police Scotland, can deliver.'
His career has never followed a traditional path and now ex-Linfield striker Paul Munster has swapped India for the Pacific Islands as he continues his global football odyssey. The thirty seven-year-old from Belfast, whose playing and coaching career has included spells in Canada, the Czech Republic, Sweden and Germany, has been appointed the national team manager of Vanuatu. It's about a thousand miles East of Australia if you're geographically challenged. Currently one hundred and sixty third in the FIFA world rankings and with a population of roughly two hundred and seventy six thousand - slightly less less than that of their new manager's home city - it is, perhaps, unsurprising that Vanuatu was not previously on Munster's managerial radar. 'To be honest, I had to do a search on Google to find out exactly where the country is,' Munster admits. So, if you are geographically challenged, don't worry about it, you're not alone it would seem. 'When I saw the job was available and did some research, I really liked the look of it. There were over one hundred and eighty applicants for the position and I had to do two Skype interviews with the Vanuatu Football Federation, who are very ambitious. They have given me a totally free rein to do the job my own way and, as I'm also in charge of the under-twenty three and under-twenty teams, I can really put my own stamp on things.' Munster took the Vanuatu job soon after resigning as head coach and technical director of Indian top-flight club Minerva Punjab FC, where he won two trophies during seven months in charge. He has wasted little time in getting to work on researching players and is very clear about the key targets in his new role. 'I see this as a three-year project with the biggest aim being qualification for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar,' the former Slavia Prague forward explained. 'It's something the country has never done before so I realise the size of the task, but other smaller countries have done it so you have to believe it can happen. I want to increase our FIFA ranking to one hundred and fifty or higher and, in the shorter term, we have the Nations Cup to look forward to after a few friendlies in June. Our under-twenty threes will also have the qualifiers for the 2020 Olympics starting soon. I've watched lots of videos to assess the squad and we have some decent players. Eight or nine of the panel play outside Vanuatu, in countries such as Australia and New Zealand, while I also plan to introduce a few new faces.' After resigning from Minerva Punjab in February, Munster had returned to live in Sweden - where he had been a player and coach - and it was from here that he made the nine thousand-mile journey to the South Pacific. He is unfazed by the travelling and has found it easier to settle in his new surroundings than he did in India, where his dislike of spicy food was, he claims, a major challenge. 'I think once you've lived in India, you can live anywhere,' Munster said. 'My girlfriend and I are living in a lovely villa with a pool, which is just a five-minute walk from the national stadium in Port Vila. The weather is great and I've already had lots of friends getting in contact asking if they can come and stay with us. I've never been afraid to take on new challenges, such as this one. I see them as an opportunity rather than a risk and, when you consider I'm an international manager at the age of thirty seven, that's not too bad at all.' While he is a long way from home, Munster aims to instil what he describes as 'a Northern Ireland mentality' into his new players. 'Developing an "us against the world" ethos has helped the Northern Ireland team punch above their weight and that's what I want to do with Vanuatu.'
Brendan Rodgers' wife and stepdaughter are believed to have been inside his East Dunbartonshire home when it was broken into. The BBC reports that Charlotte Searle and her six-year-old daughter hid as burglars ransacked the property and stole some of the family's possessions. Police confirmed that the Bearsden home of the former Glasgow Celtic manager was broken into on Wednesday morning. A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: 'At around 1:55am on Wednesday 6 March, police received a report of a break-in at a property in Bearsden. No one was injured in the incident but a number of items were stolen from the property.' Police added that an investigation had begun and 'inquiries were ongoing.' Rodgers was appointed Leicester City's new manager at the end of February after leaving his job at Celtic.
England dismissed West Indies for just forty five run - the second-lowest score in T20 international history - to win the second T20 by one hundred and thirty seven runs in St Kitts and wrap up the series with a match to spare. Chris Jordan took four for six, the best figures by an England bowler in T20s, to skittle the dismal hosts in under twelve overs. Sam Billings earlier hit a career-best eighty seven and Joe Root made fifty five as England recovered from thirty two for four to post one hundred and eighty two for six in their twenty overs. Only the Netherlands have scored fewer runs in a T20 international, making thirty nine against Sri Lanka in the 2014 World T20. This was England's biggest margin of victory by runs in T20s and the fourth biggest of all time. After David Willey removed West Indies openers Chris Gayle and Shai Hope cheaply - the latter to a superb catch by Eoin Morgan, taken while colliding with Tom Curran - Jordan ruthlessly ripped through the middle order. The all-rounder surprised the hosts with his pace, bowling mostly back of a length but also shrewdly mixing in fuller and slower deliveries. He had Darren Bravo caught behind for a duck and removed West Indies captain Jason Holder LBW with the next delivery before Nicholas Pooran kept out the hat-trick ball. Pooran edged the first ball of Jordan's second over to Jonny Bairstow and Fabian Allen then nicked to slip as the Sussex player surpassed Ravi Bopara's previous best mark of four for ten by an England bowler in T20s. Given that pace bowling is England's main area of concern heading into the World Cup, Jordan bowling with such speed and accuracy, together with his hitting power and superb fielding, could well be forcing his name into the selectors' thinking for the fifty-over format. Liam Plunkett and Adil Rashid took two wickets apiece to complete a startling downturn for the hosts, who were on top as late as sixteen overs into England's innings, having shown much more application in the field. But they never recovered from Billings' late onslaught and England capitalised to secure their first series win of the tour, having lost the test series two-one and drawn the ODI series two-two. That England were able to post a competitive total was mainly down to Billings and Root. Billings has been a fringe player in England's one-day set-up since making his debut in both formats in 2015; an exciting batsman who has never quite broken through when given, admittedly limited, opportunities. With Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali all rested and Jason Roy back home for the birth of his first child, the Kent captain took his chance in easily his finest performance for England. After rebuilding in a stand of eighty two with Root, he accelerated with aplomb, mixing big hits down the ground with inventive reverse shots. Billings smacked ten fours and three sixes - hitting thirty five of the forty four runs England added in the last two overs - before he was caught behind off debutant Obed McCoy on the final ball of the innings. The right-hander is unlikely to make England's first-choice team in this summer's World Cup but more innings like this could see him cement a place in an England T20 side still finding its identity before the next World Cup in this format, in Australia in 2020. Test captain Root, who was playing only his fifth T20 international since the start of 2018, also wants to be an integral part of this team and his calm accumulation after England's top-order collapse was similarly vital in a comprehensive victory over the world champions.
Katie Cross bowled a magnificent final over to lead England to a thrilling one-run win over India in the third women's Twenty20 in Guwahati. With India needing but three runs to win, Cross bowled three dot balls, removed Bharati Fulmali and Anuja Patil, then conceded only one run from the final ball. England earlier stuttered with the bat, but their one hundred and nineteen for six was enough for a three-nil series whitewash. They now go to Sri Lanka for three one-day internationals and three T20s. Before this series, medium-fast bowler Cross had not played a T20 international in four years, but was asked to pull England through when the game seemed to be gone. With wicketkeeper Amy Jones up to the stumps, Cross' control of line and length under extreme pressure was immaculate. Fulmali, playing only her second game, was visibly nervous, surviving a stumping appeal before being caught at mid-off by Anya Shrubsole. From the next delivery, Patil gave herself room, played and missed and was brilliantly stumped by Jones. Shikha Pandey faced the final ball, but though she made sweet contact with a slash through the off side, Tammy Beaumont's dive at point ensured only a single, sparking jubilant celebrations from the tourists. On her final over, Cross told BBC Sport: 'When you've got a low total to defend, you're probably either going to be a hero pretty quickly or a villain pretty quickly. I knew I'd been hitting a hard length all game, that had been working quite successfully and thankfully we got it right. The pressure was back on the batsman as soon as I got those two dot balls in. Thankfully we kept Mithali off strike and that proved to be the difference. We practise those pressure situations and that's where your training comes to fruition.' India had earlier looked to be coasting the chase, especially when elegant captain Smriti Mandhana was moving to fifty eight from thirty nine balls. She added forty nine for the second wicket with Jemimah Rodrigues and twenty eight for the third with Mithali Raj, who looked to be guiding India even after Mandhana chopped on to her own stumps from the bowling of Laura Marsh. Indeed, when Raj lofted Big Anya over extra cover for four from the final ball of the nineteenth over, the game appeared to be as good as won. Raj, however, did not face another delivery and was left stranded on thirty. After winning the toss, England wasted a strong start with two collapses as India bowled eighteen overs of spin. Danielle Wyatt and Tammy Beaumont added fifty one for the first wicket, but England slumped first to fifty four for three, then from seventy three for three to ninety three for six. In all, the total slide was six wickets for forty two runs. It was left to Sophia Dunkley, back in the side in place of the rested Katherine Brunt, to drag England through the final overs in the company of Shrubsole. They took twenty seven from the final twenty balls of the innings, which, in the end, was just enough.
A prestigious women's one-day cycle race in Belgium was temporarily halted after the breakaway leader, Nicole Hanselmann, almost caught the men's race. The Omloop Het Nieuwsblad race marks the start of the 'cobbled classics' season and is a UCI World Tour event. The men's race started ten minutes before the women but Bigla Pro rider Hanselmann was catching the back of the men's support vehicles after thirty five kilometres. Organisers 'neutralised' the women's race to create a further gap between the races. Swiss rider Hanselmann, who attacked after seven kilometres and had opened a lead of around two minutes, was stopped, allowing the peloton to catch her. When the one hundred and twenty three kilometre race from Gent to Ninove which featured five cobbled sectors was restarted, Hanselmann was allowed to build an advantage before the peloton was released. However, the former Swiss national champion was soon caught and eventually finished in seventy fourth place, with Chantal Blaak taking the title which Britain's Lizzie Armitstead won in 2016. Hannah Barnes was the first British rider across the line, finishing twenty eighth, sixty nine seconds behind Dutch rider Blaak. 'Maybe the other women and me were too fast or the men too slow,' Hanselmann said on Instagram after the race. Speaking to Cycling News, she added: 'We came too close to the men's so we had to get a neutral time gap again so it was a bit sad for me because I was in a good mood and when the bunch sees you stopping, they just get a new motivation to catch you. We could just see the ambulances of the men's race. I think we stopped for five or seven minutes and then it just kills your chances.' The men's race was won by Czech rider Zdenek Stybar. Ian Stannard, who won the race in 2014 and 2015, was the best placed British rider in twenty sixth.
Dozens of manuscripts belonging to the late Albert Einstein, many of them unseen in public before, have been unveiled by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. More than one hundred and ten new documents are on display at the university, marking the one hundred and fortieth anniversary of Einstein's birth. The collection includes scientific work by the Nobel Prize winner that has never been published or researched. It was donated by the Crown-Goodman Family Foundation and purchased from a private collector in North Carolina. The manuscripts contain an appendix to Einstein's article on Unified Theory that had not been seen since 1930. He spent three decades attempting to unify the forces of nature into a single theory. According to the university, the appendix was thought to be lost. In one note to fellow scientist Michele Besso, Einstein confesses that after fifty years of dedication, he does not understand the quantum nature of light. The collection also includes a letter in which Einstein expresses concern about the rise of the Nazi party in Germany. Sent to his son, Hans Albert in 1935, the letter reads: 'Even in Germany things are slowly starting to change. Let's just hope we won't have a Europe war first.' The new collection joins more than eighty thousand items in the Albert Einstein Archives including medals, diplomas and photographs. Einstein was one of the founders of the university and donated his personal and scientific writing to create the Albert Einstein Archives. The archives' academic director, Hanoch Gutfreund, said: 'We at the Hebrew University are proud to serve as the eternal home for Albert Einstein's intellectual legacy, as was his wish.' In 2017, a letter by Albert Einstein in which he grapples with the concept of religion sold for over two million smackers.
French supercar maker Bugatti has unveiled the world's most expensive new car, sold to an unnamed buyer for at least nine-and-a-half million knicker before tax. The exact price has not being revealed, but is thought to have overtaken the previous new car record - between eight and nine million quid - for a Rolls-Royce Sweptail. With engine power about twenty times a Ford Fiesta, the car was built to celebrate Bugatti's one hundred and tenth anniversary. Ferdinand Piech, grandson of Porsche's founder, is thought to be the buyer. Piech is a former chief executive of Volkswagen, which owns Bugatti. During his tenure, he had a reputation for backing some of the group's most expensive development projects, notably the celebrated Veyron. However, Bugatti would only say that the purchaser was 'an enthusiast of the brand,' which is one of the motor industry's most treasured marques. Bugatti's president, Stephan Winkelmann, said that the La Voiture Noire - literally, The Black Car - combined 'extraordinary technology, aesthetics and extreme luxury.' The car has a jet-black carbon fibre body and a fifteen hundred horsepower, sixteen-cylinder engine. The Geneva car show is dominated by new electric supercars, but the Bugatti's six exhaust pipes speak to a very different market for power and noise. One motoring journalist said there was 'something Darth Vader about it.' Bugatti is not saying exactly how fast the car goes. However, the specs are similar to another of Bugatti's astonishing pieces of engineering, the Chiron. This car reaches sixty miles per hour in just over two seconds and has a top speed of two hundred and sixty one miles per hour. La Voiture Noire, Bugatti says, pays homage to its Type Fifty Seven SC Atlantic. Just four were made between 1936 and 1938 and fashion designer Ralph Lauren is the owner of the last Atlantic produced.
A car - not a Bugatti, thankfully - carrying four people plunged into a canal following a police chase. Officers reportedly tried to stop a BMW in Leicester on Friday evening but it later smashed through a fence and entered the Grand Union Canal. Four people were taken to hospital, where one currently remains. Her injuries are not thought to be serious. Three men and the woman were arrested on suspicion of failing to stop and theft of a motor vehicle. Leicestershire Police said that 'initial enquiries' suggest the car had been stolen from the Metropolitan Police force area.
A recent study claims to show that alcohol, when taken in the right amounts, actually contributes to longevity. Which is exactly what this blogger has been trying to convince his doctors of for decades. Doctor Claudia Kawas - a specialist in neurology from the University of California - and her team of researchers 'discovered' that people who consumed approximately two glasses of beer or wine a day were 'eighteen percent less likely' to 'experience a premature death,' according to the Independent. So, dear blog reader, the next time you're staggering out of Threshers late at night with a dozen cans of Red Stripe and a bottle of vodka and someone looks as you like you're something they'd like to scrape off the sole of their shoe, you can now say to them: 'Fek off! It's - officially - good for you!'
A man has been very mauled to death by one of the pet lions he kept in cages near his home in the Czech Republic. Michal Prasek's body was found inside the animal's homemade cage by his father, according to local media. Prasek owned a pair of lions that he kept 'for breeding purposes' although he did not have the required permits, it was reported. Police shot both animals in order to get to Prasek. Which, to be honest, it a bit rough on the one that didn't maul him to death. The thirty three-year-old 'caused a stir' in his village when he bought the male lion from Slovakia in 2016, according to Reuters. Prasek had been fined for illegal breeding, but the lions could not be removed from his property because there was 'no evidence of animal cruelty' and 'a lack of alternative facilities' for the big cats. He attracted media attention last summer when a cyclist collided with his lioness as he was walking her on a leash. Police deemed the incident a traffic accident.
Philippine police have seized more than fifteen hundred live turtles and tortoises found wrapped in duct tape at Manila airport. The reptiles, found in four unclaimed pieces of luggage, could have sold for more than four-and-a-half million pesos. Police believe the bags were abandoned after the carrier found out about the 'harsh penalties' for illegal wildlife trafficking. If caught, they could face two years in The Joint and a fine of up to two hundred thousand pesos. A total of fifteen hundred and twenty nine turtles and tortoises of different species were found in four pieces of unclaimed luggage in the arrivals area of Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Sunday. Some of the animals were of the Sulcata Tortoise species - which are recognised as vulnerable on the IUCN's Red list of Threatened species. The Red-eared Slider turtle was also among the reptiles found. The Bureau of Customs said that the reptiles were left behind by a Filipino passenger who was onboard a Philippine Airlines flight from Hong Kong. It said the passenger could have abandoned the luggage after they were 'informed of the vigilance against illegal wildlife trade and its penalties.' The animals have now been handed over to the Wildlife Traffic Monitoring Unit. Turtles and tortoises are often kept as exotic pets, but are sometimes also used as a form of traditional medicine or served as a delicacy across parts of Asia. Their meat is considered by some to be an aphrodisiac, while the bones are powdered for use in medicine. Last week, over three thousand pig-nosed turtles were smuggled into Malaysia by boat - though this attempt was intercepted by Malaysia's maritime agency and the smugglers were carted off to The Big House.
Parents are reportedly 'slamming' (that's tabloidese for 'criticising' only with less syllables) a 'bizarre new Internet challenge' which involves people throwing slices of cheese into babies' faces. Why, no one knows. 'Many' people - morons, almost exclusively - have seemingly been sharing videos and pictures of themselves throwing a piece of processed cheddar at their child's head, in the hopes that it will stick. And, again, the question of why should be raised at this juncture. If anyone actually has an answer to that one is sure that several national newspapers like the Gruniad would be delighted to know. The view on Mumsnet is, similarly, mostly disapproving. One commenter said: 'I wish people would put this much effort into doing something about poverty or climate change.' Another said: 'If you have thrown a piece of cheese at your baby or toddler and put a picture up of it on the Internet, you are an idiot.' While some appear to have found the footage funny, others have condemned the behaviour with some suggesting it is a form of child abuse. Which it isn't but it is very, very silly and those doing it should probably have a good hard look at their lives once they've, you know, stopped doing it. It is believed to have started when Twitter user Uncle Hxlmes (probably not his real name) uploaded a video of him throwing the dairy snap at a baby. Since that 'went viral' there have been 'a number of copycat clips,' with infants and toddlers being at the receiving end of a cheese pelting. This is Great Britain in the Twenty First Century, dear blog reader. Sometimes, aren't you just beyond glad we all survived The Black Death?
A woman was more than a little surprised when she found a swan in her holiday lodge watching CBeebies on the television set. And, this shite constitutes 'news', apparently. Dulcine Carney, from Norfolk, was on a short break with her nieces at Center [sic] Parcs in Sherwood Forest when one of the girls found the bird. 'My niece whispered: "Auntie, I need your help ... with the swan,"' she said. Carney managed to usher the swan out. The photo she subsequently put on Twitter has been 'liked' fifty six thousand times. Which frankly, dear blog reader, is the single most shocking indictment of the Twenty First Century this blogger has come across recently. Well, since the story about the cheese slices, anyway. Next ...
A billionaire diamond trader has died 'during a penis enlargement operation at a posh Parisian clinic,' the Sun reports in that atypical sneering way they do so well. Ehud Arye Laniado died at the age of sixty five in the clinic of an unnamed plastic surgeon on the Avenue des Champs-Elysees. According to local media, 'complications' during surgery 'proved fatal' for the Belgian-Israeli dual national and he suffered a heart attack when 'a substance was injected into his penis.' The billionaire, whose exact fortune is not publicly known, got in trouble with the authorities in 2013. He faced a claim for four billion knicker from the Belgian authorities for tax evasion on diamonds illegally imported from Congo and Angola, Belgium's GVA reported. Laniado reportedly prevented a tax evasion trial by agreeing to pay over one hundred and thirty million quid. However, as the Belgian customs office suspected him of lying or giving incomplete information about some of the diamonds imported from Angola and Congo, they still claimed four billion notes as well as a 1.7 million quid fine. Even though two courts dismissed the Belgian customs office's claim, an appeals court ordered a new trial with Laniado due to appear in court on 14 March. Laniado's company, Omega Diamonds, which is based in Antwerp where most of the world's top diamond traders operate, confirmed his death. A statement read: 'Farewell to a visionary businessman. It is with great sadness that we confirm that our founder Ehud Arye Laniado has passed away.' They didn't add '... with a needle in his dong whilst trying to boost the size of his girth.' Which is probably just as well.
A woman rescued by Spanish police after she had bound her arms to the steering wheel of her car and almost asphyxiated herself claimed that she had been 'trying to recreate a scene from the bestselling erotic novel and film series Fifty Shades Of Grey,' according to the Torygraph. Members of Spain's National Police force were reportedly called to a car park at a popular beach in Tenerife after a passer-by heard the car's horn sounding repeatedly as the woman bashed her head against the wheel. When the witness approached the car by Las Teresitas beach on Monday morning, he saw the woman 'immobilised and bleeding from her arms' in the driver's seat of a Citroën Three, having lashed her wrists to the steering wheel with cable ties and coiled duct tape around her neck. 'Fearing that this was the scene of a kidnapping or another serious crime, he phoned the police.' Officers had to use a knife to cut the woman free from her state of what appears to have been self-inflicted torture inside her own Citroën. 'I wanted to recreate a scene from Fifty Shades Of Grey but it got out of hand. I don't have a partner and I am alone,' the woman, whose identity has not been revealed, allegedly told her rescuers, according to island newspaper La Opinión de Tenerife. Once freed from her vehicle the woman - reportedly 'dressed in sporty clothes' - was taken to hospital to be treated for cuts and the effects of restricted breathing due to the tightness of the collar she had taped around her neck. According to 'a person who was camping on the beach' and who snitched to the local paper, the woman 'may have been desperate to be freed for some time as he said he heard a car horn sounding for around two hours.'
'Fornication' in Utah could be about to be legalised. Which will, no doubt, come as something of a relief to millions of Utah citizens who've been dying for a good hard shag for ages. A bill changing the criminal code in the state may soon remove 'fornication' outside of marriage as a class B misdemeanour. Senator Karen Mayne is the chief sponsor, while Representative Ray Paul is the sponsor in the state's House. It has been voted on and passed by both bodies, meaning it is only awaiting a signature by Governor Gary Herbert. If it becomes law, it will remove 'the fornication clause' from Utah's criminal code. It currently reads: '(1) Any unmarried person who shall voluntarily engage in sexual intercourse with another is guilty of fornication. (2) Fornication is a class B misdemeanour.' The current law is part of 'Chapter Seven Offences Against The Family,' meaning those pinched by the fuzz for getting it on and subsequently found guilty face punishment of up to six months in jail and a fine of thousand bucks. The law 'isn't pursued by police or prosecuted and is unenforceable,' according to 2KUTV. No shit?
A 'naked and belligerent' woman in Florida was very arrested after accusations that she attacked her fiancé because he didn't want to have The Sex with her, an affidavit states. Samantha Jewel Hernandez was extremely jailed on charges of battery domestic violence and battery on an officer, after the 18 February incidents. Indian River County sheriff's deputies went to an address in Vero Beach and spoke to Hernandez, whom they described as 'naked and belligerent.' She claimed that she 'didn't do anything' to her fiancé although she was said to be 'too intoxicated to advise of any further.' The fiancé said Hernandez was intoxicated and she 'wished to engage in intimate activities with him, but he declined her amorous advances.' Hernandez was reportedly angry at the fact that [the fiancé] did not want to have The Sex 'and began attacking him, striking him in the face and ripping his shirt,' the affidavit states. Hernandez, alternately described as 'intoxicated and belligerent,' yelled that she 'did nothing,' as she was being carted off to The Pokey. On the way, investigators say that she struck her head against a portion of a patrol car and spat on a deputy's arm.
Three mighty buffalo were shot - extremely dead - along the Humboldt-Trinity border after escaping their enclosure and galloping eastbound down Highway Two Hundred and Ninety Nine toward oncoming traffic, causal 'a damned nuisance,' according to reports. Sergeant Adam Battle with Trinity County's California Highway Patrol office told the Outpost that the buffalo were very shot and extremely killed by their owner after the animals reportedly 'posed a threat to people' living in a nearby trailer park. 'The owner shot the buffalo, I guess they were being aggressive and he was afraid they would hurt somebody,' Battle claimed. 'We dispatched a unit from Weaverville and that unit arrived about an hour later because it's a long drive. The buffalo had went back behind a trailer park. The owner had already dispatched and removed them by the time officers arrived on scene.' Whilst no California Highway Patrol officers actually witnessed the buffalo slaughter, local cabin owner Colt Mathews told the Outpost that he saw one of the dead buffalo 'being hauled away.' He said: 'I was driving on Two Hundred and Ninety Ninety, coming back from my cabin, everything's normal and then I look over and see a damn buffalo hanging from a piece of equipment. I've seen as many buffalo up there as I've seen Sasquatch. It was bizarre for sure.'
Opium farmers in India are complaining that 'addicted parrots' are destroying their crops. The farmers in Madhya Pradesh State claim that, along with a season of uneven rainfall, the parrots are 'having a serious impact' on their yields. They say that attempts to scare the birds away 'with loudspeakers' have 'made little difference' and local authorities 'have not helped.' The parrots 'could cause them to suffer huge losses,' the farmers warn. Asian News International tweeted a video of birds flying away with an entire poppy flower. The farmers supply the drug to medicinal companies and have a licence to grow the plant. One grower, Nandkishore, told NDTV he had tried 'making loud sounds' and even used firecrackers to scare off the birds. He explained that one poppy flower produces twenty to twenty five grams of opium, but 'a large group of parrots feeds on these plants around thirty to forty times a day and some even fly away with poppy pods. Nobody is listening to our problems. Who will compensate for our losses? he whinged. Doctor RS Chundawat, an 'opium specialist' at a Horticulture College in Mandsaur, told the Daily Scum Mail that opium gives the birds 'instant energy' similar to the effect of tea or coffee for a human. He said that once the birds had experienced this feeling, they would 'quickly fall prey to the addiction.' And, soon you'll find then dossing in doorways asking passers-by if they can spare any change.
Pinal County Sheriff's Office said it arrested an Arizona woman disguised as a nun and her husband on suspicion of trafficking ninety thousand dollars-worth of fentanyl. The woman, Esther Gomez De Aguilar and her husband, Jose Aguilar Diaz, of Yuma were initially stopped on Monday by a Pinal County Sheriff's Office K-9 deputy on Interstate Ten just outside of Eloy for 'suspected equipment and moving violations,' police said. Aguilar appeared to be 'dressed like a nun, with a Bible placed in her lap when the deputy approached the vehicle,' said Navideh Forghani, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Office. A search of the vehicle revealed four bundles of suspected fentanyl pills in Aguilar's purse. Two additional bundles of suspected fentanyl powder were found 'on her body under her clothing,' Forghani said apparently confirming that police had strip-search a potential nun. Police seized a total of eight pounds of suspected fentanyl, a synthetic opioid similar to morphine but a Hel of a lot more potent. They reckon. 'You can see they will use any means to try to conceal what they are doing,' Sheriff Mark Lamb said in a statement. Aguilar and Diaz and booked into The Slammer on suspicion of possession of narcotics, possession of narcotics for sale and transportation of narcotics for sale, police said.
A man and a woman in Lyndhurst, Ohio were spotted stealing a whole beef tenderloin, worth one hundred bucks. The suspects left in a car with their allegedly ill-gotten gain. Officers soon located and stopped the suspects' car. Both suspects were found to be wanted on outstanding Willowick police warrants. The man, of North Ridgeville, complained of chest pains and said that he was detoxifying from heroin. He was charged with theft and taken to Hillcrest Hospital. The woman, of Medina, was charged with complicity to theft and was released to the custody of Willowick police.
An Indiana man who accidentally shot himself in the penis and scrotum does not have a handgun licence and could face criminal prosecution, police say. According to officers, Mark Anthony Jones suffered 'an accidental self-inflicted gunshot injury' whilst walking early on Thursday morning in Marion, Indiana. During an interview in the emergency room of Marion General Hospital, Jones said that he was carrying a Hi-Point nine millimetre handgun in his waistband when the weapon 'began to slip.' Jones claimed that when he 'reached down to adjust' the gun - which was not in a holster - the firearm discharged. 'The bullet entered just above his penis and exited his scrotum,' police reported. Since Jones does not possess a state handgun licence - or, indeed, now a penis - investigators will forward the case to the Grant County Prosecuting Attorney for a determination on whether Jones will face any criminal charges whilst he tries to get his shattered life back on track.
A Christchurch woman was jailed for two years after lighting a hospital bed on fire. A firelighter's comment that she 'enjoyed her offending' was described as 'alarming' by her lawyer before the woman was jailed at a Christchurch District Court sentencing. Repeat arsonist Angela Maree McDonald cried in the dock as the judge discussed her mental health condition - diagnosed as schizo-affective disorder - before sending her to The Joint for two years. Because, prison is the very place to send people with mental health issues, isn't it? Jesus, the milk of human kindness must have been a bit sour that particular day in New Zealand. The prison term will, allegedly, 'mean a comprehensive management plan can be prepared for her before she is released,' with a current assessment that her 'risk of further firelighting is high.' McDonald had a 1998 conviction for the arson of a haybarn and previous convictions for wilful damage. In November, McDonald admitted a charge of arson for lighting a fire on the bed of a fellow patient at the Seager Clinic, at Princess Margaret Hospital, while she was out of her room. The fire damaged the woman's bed, bedside cabinet and possessions. There was also smoke and water damage from the sprinklers. Damage totalled over six thousand five hundred dollars, but no-one was injured. Defence counsel Tony Garrett said that the 'potential consequences were extreme' because there were 'people with disabilities in the clinic.' He said McDonald offended 'when she felt aggrieved or slighted.' It was 'an anger management issue,' but it was her 'gross over-reaction' which was 'a real concern.' Some of McDonald's replies when questioned were 'alarming,' he said. She had expressed 'enjoying' her offending. The pre-sentence report included the probation officer's assessment that McDonald was a low risk of further general offending but the risk of further firelighting was 'high.' Judge Garland said sentencing of offenders with mental health issues was 'a vexed issue,' but health assessors said that McDonald did not show symptoms of a current mental illness and there did not appear to be a link between her mental health and the arson offending. She had a long history of contact with mental health services and was assessed as having an under-lying schizo-affective disorder. She had a 'limited ability to emotionally self-regulate' and 'a tendency to resort to damaging property, threatening behaviour, or fire setting.' A psychologist said she 'needed to take responsibility for her behaviour.' The judge imposed a two-year jail term and said home detention would not be considered. He made no reparation order because there was 'no ability to pay it.'
An Atlanta man was arrested outside a Pizza Hut in possession of three handguns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition according to Griffin Police Department. Jeremy Arnez Eppinger was 'noticed' by a witness, who told police he was 'acting suspicious,' hiding behind a retaining wall and wearing a camouflaged mask. Eppinger continued to look up at the Pizza Hut and crouch back down into hiding, the witness told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A few moments later, Eppinger jumped over the wall, pulling a handgun from his waist. As Eppinger walked towards the restaurant with the gun in his hand, he spotted the witness attempting to flee. Startled, Eppinger backtracked and retreated towards his vehicle. Police arrived at the scene and found Eppinger in possession of a Smith & Wesson nine millimetre pistol and 'a small arsenal' in the vehicle. 'It was discovered that Mister Eppinger also had in his possession a Kel-Tec AR-Fifteen-style pistol and a third pistol, hundreds of round of ammunition - including pre-loaded magazines of nine millimetre, multiple thirty round magazines of .223, boxes of multiple calibre rounds and other pre-loaded magazines in the vehicle,' stated Griffin Police. Police said after being accused of 'loitering,' Eppinger was arrested and charged with criminal attempt of aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, as well as other misdemeanour crimes. 'The situational awareness and urgent reaction of the eyewitnesses in contact nine-one-one was critical in notifying Griffin Police Department of the matter,' said Griffin Police Department. 'The immediate response did not allow Mister Eppinger to follow through with a violent assault or flee the scene.'
A woman has been jailed for scamming more than two thousand dollars from people after pretending that her partner was a firefighter who was battling the fires in California in August 2018. Ashley Bemis, a 'wedding planner' from San Clemente pleaded very guilty last week to 'several charges' after she 'encouraged' people to donate money to her so that she could 'pass it to the fire department' which was battling The Holy Fire that hit Orange County and Riverside County last year. Bemis claimed to be 'in a relationship with a firefighter' named Shane Goodman who, in fact, did not exist. She was also accused of faking three pregnancies and claiming that she gave birth to a stillborn child. The court convicted her of one count of grand theft, four counts of second-degree burglary, six counts of dissuading a witness from reporting a crime and as many as two dozen fraud counts. The judge sentenced her to one hundred and seventy seven days in the county jail. Bemis was investigated after she posted pictures of herself with a firefighter, she claimed was her 'hubby,' Shane. The local fire captain saw this, knew something was amiss and reported her to The Law.
A Wisconsin teenager reportedly admitted putting cow tranquilisers in his stepfather’s energy drinks because he 'thought it would be funny.' It wasn't. Tyler Rabenhorst-Malone, was extremely charged with 'placing foreign objects in edibles' and 'second-degree recklessly endangering safety,' KTRK-TV reported, citing court documents. Whether he has also been charged with 'being a ruddy idiot' was not revealed. The teen admitted to the crime because he 'thought it would be funny' but, told authorities that he never meant to harm his stepfather in any way, according to the station. His stepfather first went to the hospital in January 2018 'with a droopy face and slurred speech among other symptoms,' officials said. The man told doctors he believed the symptoms came from drinking energy drinks, stress and lack of sleeping, the station said. When the same thing happened again, the man reportedly 'started to keep an eye on what he was drinking.' The teen's mother also told officials that a box of oxytocin mixed with rompun - an ingredient used in veterinary medicine for sedation - 'vanished' from their barn in April 2018, KTRK-TV reported. The stepfather started to suspect his stepson was 'up to something' and, then found used syringes he believed Rabenhorst-Malone was using to put the sedative in his drink, according to the complaint. Officials said liquid recovered from the man's drinks tested positive for Xylazine - a drug used for tranquilising large cattle, according to the New York Daily News. The syringes also reportedly tested positive for the same drug.
A man called for jury duty in Hawaii shouted 'he is guilty, he is guilty' outside a courtroom and ended up spending a night in jail himself. That's according to a lawyer representing Jacob Maldonado. The attorney says that Maldonado was 'having a bad day' during Tuesday's outburst and 'wanted to get out of being on a jury on an assault case.' One presumes that bad day got a whole lot worse when he was thrown in The Slammer for his outburst. The judge wasn't in the slightest bit amused by this malarkey and ordered Maldonado's arrest on a contempt charge, setting a ten thousand dollar cash bail. Maldonado was released the next day without being charged or fined.
It has been two weeks since Nara Walker - subject of a lengthy piece in the Metro this week - went to jail. The twenty eight-year-old artist is serving three months in an Icelandic high-security prison for biting down on her husband's tongue after, she claims, he forcibly pushed it into her mouth. During her trial, she told the court that she had 'acted in self-defence' following 'years of domestic abuse,' in which her partner allegedly assaulted and raped her, controlled her finances and spiked her tea with drugs. Police chose not to view her case as domestic violence and she was, instead, convicted of grievous bodily harm. Nara, originally from Queensland, met her husband in 2013 and the pair married in London before moving to Reykjavik in 2016. In the early hours of 1 November, they returned to their flat with a female friend and an American tourist, whom they had met previously, following a night out. The court heard that an argument then broke out and when Nara went to leave with the American man, her husband allegedly pushed him down the stairs, breaking his rib. She said that he then forcibly carried her back inside the apartment, pinned down her arms and pushed his mouth on hers - to which she reacted by biting off a two-and-a-half centimetre chunk of his tongue. The police were called and arrested Nara, taking her to prison while her husband and the female friend, who was also injured in the altercation, were taken to hospital. The chunk of tongue could not be reattached, leaving it slightly shortened and giving him a speech impediment. Despite filing a domestic violence claim, Nara was questioned for fifteen hours and then returned to her husband at their flat, where her passport was confiscated. She later walked forty five minutes to the nearest hospital and was told by doctors she had sustained a broken rib, sprained vertebrae and internal bruising in the ordeal. With only a tourist visa and no travel documents, she was left trapped 'in a financial prison' with no money, no means of continuing her art work abroad and nowhere to stay. The judge ruled that while she 'may' have acted in self-defence, her actions were to 'an extreme' - and would have a 'life-long impact' on her former partner. She was also told to pay over fifteen thousand dollars in damages. Armed with new evidence, Nara took her case to the Appellate Court in November 2018, but was told that while she had given a 'true' account of the night, the conviction would be upheld due to the nature of the injury she had caused. So, the moral of all this seem to be - at least, according to the legal system in Iceland - if you're in an abusive relationship and you defend yourself during an attack, don't hurt your abuser too much. Sometimes, dear blog reader, words simply fail this blogger.
Reality TV-type individual and general waste-of-space Kerry Katona is to face trial accused of failing to send a child to school regularly. The former Atomic Kitten member and reality TV regular pleaded not guilty to the charge at Brighton Magistrates' Court. Katona, who lives in Crowborough, will stand trial at the court in May. Magistrates heard that the thirty eight-year-old intends to represent herself when she appears at court.
Many couples find their 'sex drives' are mismatched over time, a problem that sexy therapists often suggest fixing by 'working on communication.' Or, having an affair. The Spinner, launched in April of this year, offers a different route to marital bliss - the online service encourages dissatisfied husbands to skip all that messy relationship effort and, instead, try to 'manipulate' their wives 'on a subconscious level,' in a way only possible in the age of the Internet according to Rolling Stain. For the bargain price of a mere twenty nine bucks, husbands are sent 'an innocuous link' which they, in turn, send via e-mail or text message to their 'target.' It can be accessed on a computer or mobile device and looks like any other hyperlink to an article or video. Once the 'target' clicks on this link, a small piece of code is dropped on and then through browser cookies, she will be fed 'a slow drip of content chosen for her with the express motive' of encouraging her to initiate The Sex. The content presented appears as 'natural looking links' which 'lead her to existing articles on the web.' Once she clicks on the adverts she will be 'brought to real sites like Woman's Day, Women's Health, or any other site chosen by the content team.' The articles are real, but the headlines and descriptions have been changed by The Spinner team - consisting of psychologists from an unnamed (and, therefore, possibly fictitious) US university - and 'specifically crafted to encourage' women to have more of The Sex. Over the course of the pre-paid run of adverts she may well see headlines such as Three Reasons Why YOU Should Initiate Sex With Your Husband and Ten Marriage Tips Every Woman Needs To Hear. Once signed up to the basic package, husbands 'can expect their wife to be presented with ten different articles, one hundred and eighty times over a three-month period.' As Spinner’s marketing copy chillingly states, 'Let the brainwashing begin.' Which would be funny if it wasn't so, frankly, sinister. Once again, words utterly fail this blogger at how ruddy cretinous some people are.
A court in Germany has sentenced a fifty seven-year-old man to life in The Slammer for poisoning his colleagues' sandwiches. The man, identified as Klaus O, added dangerous heavy metals to food items at the factory where he worked in the town of Schloss Holte-Stukenbrock over several years, according to RTL. The court in Bielefeld, North Rhine-Westphalia, found him very guilty of attempted murder Thursday and imposed the maximum custodial sentence. The judge said that the crimes were 'as serious as murder,' according to German news agency DPA. Two victims have been left with serious kidney damage and a third is now in a vegetative state after falling into a coma, RTL reported. Klaus O refused to speak during his trial and the motive for his actions remains unclear. However, a mental health expert for the prison service told the court that the defendant 'wanted to see how the poison would affect his colleagues, like a scientist performing tests on a rabbit.' In May 2018, a security camera captured Klaus O opening a co-worker's lunchbox and putting a substance on the sandwich inside, the police said in a statement. A small bottle of 'a powdery substance' was found in the suspect's bag after he was taken into custody. The owner of the sandwich had raised the alarm earlier, after discovering an unknown substance smeared on his lunch. He informed his company's management, which in turn notified police. Testing by the regional criminal office indicated the substance on the bread was toxic lead acetate and there was enough to cause severe organ damage, police said. Authorities broadened the investigation after two other cases of illness at the company in recent years were discovered. Klaus O was brought before a judge on 17 May, who issued an arrest warrant for attempted murder. Fire brigade specialists found mercury, lead and cadmium in the suspect's apartment in Bielefeld. Police said the man 'has long tried to produce toxic substances, including heavy metal compounds,' based on substances found in his home.
Police in Colorado have reportedly launched an internal probe after an officer detained a black man who was holding a rubbish picker in front of his building. Footage showed the man asking an officer why he had drawn his gun. 'I don't have a weapon! This is a bucket! This is a clamp!' he says in the video taken by a neighbour. Police in Boulder said that an officer had called for back-up as the man was 'unwilling to put down a blunt object.' Plus, he was extremely guilty of 'being black and looking at me in a funny way,' it would seem. Several more officers attended the scene, tooled up and ready for some aggro, before they determined that the man was armed only with a rubbish picker, had a legal right to be on the property and took no further action, a police statement said. Except to, hopefully, tell their over-eager colleague to grow the fuck up and put his shooter away before he hurt someone. During the incident the man gave officers his university ID and said, repeatedly, that he lived and worked at the shared occupancy building. One of the officers has been 'placed on leave while the investigation takes place,' the New York Times reported. Earlier this week Police Chief Greg Testa told Boulder city officials that it was 'an extremely concerning issue.' No shit? He confirmed that an officer had drawn his weapon but, claimed that he had 'pointed it at the ground,' the Boulder Daily Camera newspaper reported. Which, if true, suggests that the officer in question in addition to being incompetent - and, possibly racist - also needs a few lessons in what guns are for and what you actually do with them. Protesters at the city council meeting clacked rubbish pickers and held Black Lives Matter signs, the newspaper reported.
A Cumbrian man caught by police carrying a knife has been jailed by a judge who said he would 'not tolerate knife crime on the streets of Cumbria.' Joshua Warner was one of four people stopped and searched in Penrith in January after reports a blade had been 'brandished' near the town's Sainsbury's. Carlisle Crown Court heard that Warner had the weapon to 'frighten rather than to use' and 'for protection.' He was jailed for eight months. Warner admitted possession of a bladed article in public, but denied that he had produced the weapon during the earlier incident seen by eyewitness. Judge Peter Davies said: 'The carrying of knives in any circumstances cannot be tolerated. I will not tolerate it on the streets of Cumbria. There has to be deterrent sentences for knives. People have to know that if you carry a knife, you not only risk other people, you risk your own liberty.' Paul Tweddle, defending, described Warner as 'misguided' and said a 'lesson' had been 'severely learned.'
A champion angler has been stripped of his title after being caught cheating. Marty Booth from Hartlepool landed his prizewinning catch outside competing hours of the Paul Roggeman European Open Beach Championship, BBC News reports. Organisers have disqualified him and awarded the title instead to Chris Fisher from Aldborough, who finished second. One angler said the cheating was 'a disgrace.' The competitor, who wished to remain anonymous, said 'many' of the one thousand-plus anglers who took part were angered, adding: 'We spend a lot of money to spend the weekend at the competition and someone has ruined it by cheating.' The contest, which is said to be the largest beach fishing tournament in Europe, is held annually over three days at Tunstall on the East Riding coast. The main championship is held on a Saturday and Sunday with thirty five grand in prizes on offer. It is understood that Booth caught his prize-winning catch after the competition had closed on 15 February, but then submitted it as if it had been caught during competition hours on 16 February. A spokesman for organisers, East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said breaches of the rules were 'taken very seriously.' He said: 'Our aim is to deliver a fair, honest and open event that can be enjoyed by all competitors and the council will not tolerate anyone bringing the reputation of the event into disrepute.'
A former Coronation Street director has been convicted of attempting to incite a thirteen-year-old girl to engage in sexual activity. Tim Dowd, of Harrogate, had 'intimate online chats' with a police officer who was posing as a teenage girl in January 2018. He denied four child sex offences but was found guilty at Leeds Crown Court. Dowd, who also worked on Emmerdale and Heartbeat during his thirty-year career, is due to be sentenced later this month. A jury heard how the now former-freelance director asked the undercover officer questions about 'phone sex' and requested she send naked pictures of herself over a four-day period between 12 and 15 January. During the three-day trial, the court heard he met the policewoman, who adopted the username Chantelle13Cymru, on a chat site before contacting her on WhatsApp, when he made 'further sexualised requests.' Giving evidence anonymously, the officer said that she was able to pose as a thirteen-year-old girl despite having to input an age above sixteen to register on the site. Dowd told jurors that he believed the person he was talking to was 'an adult pretending to be underage' as part of 'a sexual fantasy,' despite frequently seeking clarification on her age. The court heard that he lost his job shortly after being arrested in Leeds. Following his conviction on Thursday, the NSPCC said Dowd's actions reflected 'a sick desire for sexual contact with children.' He was convicted of three counts of 'attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity' and one count of 'attempting to engage in sexual conversations with a child for the purpose of sexual gratification.'
The genitalia on a famous chalk figure have been given a floral makeover. The Cerne Abbas Giant's 'uge penis has been adorned with petals and leaves, making it look like a floral stem. It is not known who made the alteration, although a note was left at a local shop explaining the act was an 'invitation for unity' between men and women on International Women's Day. The National Trust, which maintains the site, said that it 'did not encourage' the 'defacing' of the giant. Standing at one hundred and eighty feet tall the Cerne Giant is Britain's largest chalk hill figure. The new adornment of a flower represents 'both the male and the female reproductive parts,' according to the typewritten sheet of paper which was hand-delivered - by a woman - to Cerne Abbas Stores in Dorset earlier. 'To celebrate International Women's Day... the aim of this action is to elevate the giant into a human rather than a binary gendered "him",' the statement continued. 'This temporary enrichment and extension of the penis into flora, is both a proposition for a permanent change to the chalk creation and an invitation to begin peaceful relationships within the sexes by finally creating equality,' it added. A National Trust spokesman said: 'It is important to celebrate International Women's Day, but we don't encourage the defacing of the Cerne Abbas Giant and are very concerned about any interference which may in future encourage damage to this fragile site. The giant is protected as both a Scheduled Ancient Monument and as part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest as it's an important chalk grassland for its wild flowers and the butterflies and wildlife that it supports and is easily damaged.' The ancient naked figure has been unofficially altered several times before. The name 'Theresa' was spelled out on the penis in June 2017, while the giant was seen brandishing a tennis racquet the following month.
Councillors have given the green light to a new fire station in Ponteland, despite concerns and objections about its location in the green belt. Presumably, those who objected would be happy to sign a waiver stating that, in the event of their homes burning down, they do not wish the fire service to attend? The new facility, on land West of Ponteland High School, was unanimously approved at Tuesday's meeting of Northumberland County Council's strategic planning committee. The site would feature a single-storey, seven-metre-high fire station, a fourteen-metre-high training tower, a training yard and thirteen parking bays. It is located approximately over three hundred metres South of the existing fire station which is to be demolished, freeing up land for the town's major new school and leisure development. The new facility would be within the North Tyneside Green Belt, originally designated in 1963, but planning officers had recommended approval due to the 'very special circumstances' demonstrated by the emergency service. And, the desire to put out fires when they occur. The majority of Ponteland's retained firefighters are able to reach the current fire station in under five minutes, so 'the new location is essential to maintain the existing high standards of response times.' Addressing members' 'concerns,' the council's new head of planning, Rob Murfin, explained that fire stations were 'a special case' - what, with fire being, you know, 'a bit dangerous' and all that - and that if this site ceased to be used for that purpose - in the event that a 'cure' for fire was discovered, for example - it would revert to green belt and any application would be determined in that light. John Haig, of Ponteland Civic Society, addressed the meeting to 'express concerns' about the green belt and the impact on what is a designated 'green approach' to the town. 'It would inflict serious damage on the existing landscape scene,' he claimed. 'It has to be located elsewhere, it has to be put in another location.' He also 'raised concerns' about the loss of trees at the site, disagreeing with the tree officer's assessment that it would not result in a loss of amenity and adding that it was 'bizarre' to try to justify their felling by saying they are not native species 'as though they are illegal immigrants of the tree world.' But at the start of the meeting, planning officer Ryan Soulsby had provided details of a new, more detailed landscaping condition, which will ensure new trees are planted. Native trees, obviously.
The holiday home used by former Prime Minister Harold Wilson is for sale. The three-bedroom bungalow on St Mary's in the Isles of Scilly was built for the Wilson family in the late 1950s and was still being used by his widow Lady Wilson prior to her death last year. It is the first time it has been on the market and is valued at four hundred and twenty five thousand notes. The Labour Prime Minister would often holiday there during his two periods in power in the 1960s and 1970s. He died in 1995 and is buried on St Mary's. The Wilsons called the house Lowenva which is Cornish for 'house of happiness.' Estate agents Sibley's Island Homes said on its website: 'Formerly the holiday home of Prime Minister Harold Wilson and, until recently, the island home of his late widow, Lady Wilson, Lowenva was built for the family in 1959.' It added the house 'is now in need of modernisation throughout' and 'has sea views from the garden.' Speaking on a visit to the islands in 1964, Wilson said: 'I come here for every holiday when I can get away, because you can get away from everything, not only in distance but also in time. If you go to some of the uninhabited islands you can imagine yourself almost living in pre-Roman times.' A year later he explained how he managed his schedule on Scilly, saying: 'What I like to do is relax and enjoy the holiday during the day and review in the evening any actions or decisions that need to be taken.'
The TV presenter Magenta Devine, known for her appearances on Channel Four's Network Seven and BBC2's Rough Guides To The World, has died after a short illness. According to her family, the sixty one-year-old had been undergoing treatment at a London hospital. Known for her sunglasses and stylish attire, Devine - real name Kim Taylor - was born in Hemel Hempstead in 1957. Her other credits include presenting the ITV documentary series Young, Gifted & Broke from 1999 to 2001. In a statement, her family remembered her as 'a talented writer and stylish on-screen presence who was greatly admired by her many friends and colleagues for her creativity and wit.' She is survived by her father, Gerald Taylor, her sisters Gillian and Georgina and her brother Nicholas. Sankha Guha, who worked with Devine on the Rough Guide series and other programmes, said she was 'an icon for a generation who invited attention and sometimes hostility for her bold look and style. She used her public persona to tell stories about the world that mattered to her and inspired a whole generation to travel with a sense of adventure and an open mind,' he continued. According to Guha, Devine was representative of the 'yoof' TV genre, 'a new kind of television that had attitude, irreverence and a commitment to telling it like it is. I knew she was ill, but her death is a body blow,' he added. 'I have lost a soul mate and a partner in adventure.' Devine started out as a music publicist, going on to promote her then-boyfriend Tony James's band Sigue Sigue Sputnik. She sought treatment in the 1990s for heroin addiction and depression and was declared bankrupt in 2003. 'When I went into rehab, it was considered shameful to admit needing help for depression or drug addiction,' she wrote in 2007. 'Now it is almost like a badge of honour for modern celebrities.'
Luke Perry has died in California at the age of fifty two, less than a week after suffering a massive stroke. His publicist said Luke had died surrounded by his family and friends. Perry rose to fame on Beverly Hills, 90210 and had been starring as Fred Andrews on the CW drama Riverdale. Last Wednesday, US media reported that paramedics had been called to the actor's home in Sherman Oaks. Perry had recently been shooting scenes for Riverdale at the Warner Bros film lot. Luke's children, Jack and Sophie, his fiancée Wendy Madison Bauer, ex-wife Minnie Sharp, mother Ann Bennett, step-father Steve Bennett and his siblings, Tom Perry and Amy Coder, were with him when he died, publicist Arnold Robinson said in a statement. 'The family appreciates the outpouring of support and prayers that have been extended to Luke from around the world, and respectfully request privacy in this time of great mourning,' Robinson said. Riverdale has postponed production following news of Perry's death. In a statement, Riverdale's executive producers, WBTV and the CW network, said Perry was 'a beloved member of the Riverdale, Warner Bros and CW family.' 'Luke was everything you would hope he would be: an incredibly caring, consummate professional with a giant heart and a true friend to all. A father figure and mentor to the show's young cast, Luke was incredibly generous and he infused the set with love and kindness. Our thoughts are with Luke's family during this most difficult time.' Luke, a native of Ohio, was famous for starring as Dylan McKay in in Beverly Hills 90210 from 1990 to 2000. A reboot of the series was also announced on Wednesday, though it was not clear whether Perry had planned to make any guest appearances. His former 90210 co-star Shannen Doherty - who played Perry's love interest on the show - told Entertainment Tonight on Sunday in an emotional interview that she had been 'in touch' with him following his stroke. 'I can't talk about it here because I will, literally, start crying but I love him and he knows I love him. It's Luke and he's my Dylan.' Perry also starred in dramas Oz and Jeremiah, voiced Krusty The Clown's half-brother Sideshow Luke Perry in The Simpsons and had guest roles on the likes of Criminal Minds, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Leverage, Body Of Proof and Will & Grace. His movies included the original 1992 version of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Eight Seconds and The Fifth Element. His most recent role was on Riverdale, based on the Archie comics, where he played the titular character's father.
The Prodigy's Keith Flint has died aged forty nine. Instantly recognisable for his fluorescent spiked hair and known for high-octane performances, Mad Keith sang on both of the band's number one singles, 'Breathe' and 'Firestarter'. He was found dead at his home in Dunmow, Essex, on Monday morning. The band, who were due to tour the US in May, confirmed his death in a statement, remembering Flint as 'a true pioneer, innovator and legend.' In a post on The Prodigy's Instagram page, Liam Howlett added: 'I can't believe I'm saying this but our brother Keith took his own life over the weekend. I'm shell-shocked, angry, confused and heartbroken.' 'Known for his incendiary, grandparent-horrifying turn in the 'Firestarter' video and, subsequently, for a festival presence somewhere between a court jester and a mob orator, Keith was rave on legs,' wrote The New Statesman's Andrew Harrison. 'A capering monster of the id - part Johnny Rotten, part Smike, part Vyvyan from The Young Ones and part Mister Toad - he incarnated the most absurd and electrifying aspects of the dance music experience which overturned our social order and our ideas of ourselves in the 1980s and 1990s.' Word.
Keith Charles Flint was born in September 1969. The singer had an unhappy childhood in Braintree, frequently feuding with his parents, who split when he was young. A bright boy with dyslexia, Keith claimed that he was often disruptive in class and was thrown out of school at the age of fifteen. Finding work as a roofer, he immersed himself in the acid house scene of the late 1980s - meeting Howlett at a rave in 1989. Impressed by Howlett's DJ skills, Keith approached him and asked for a personalised mixtape. Howlett obliged, scoring the word 'Prodigy' on the cover in reference to his favourite synthesiser and putting a selection of his original songs on the B-side. Flint was so impressed that he encouraged Howlett to pursue music professionally, offering up his services as a dancer. 'I loved his music and, "Boom!" I was in,' he told FHM magazine. 'I was never the brains behind the band - that was always Liam. But together, we were a complete package. It was the outlet I was looking for.' Completed by rapper Maxim Reality and another dancer, Leeroy Thornhill, The Prodigy scored early techno hits with 'Everybody In The Place', 'Charly' and the outstanding 'Out Of Space'. Their music matured on their second CD, Music For The Jilted Generation, which saw Howlett incorporate breakbeats, guitar loops, hip-hop samples and elements of jazz and hard rock on anthemic, groundbreaking songs like 'No Good (Start The Dance)', the sensational 'Poison', 'Their Law', 'The Narcotic Suite' and 'Voodoo People'. The CD was nominated for a Mercury Music Prize but the band truly went global the following year when Flint grabbed the mic and unleashed the full fury of his voice on the abrasive, in-your-face rave-rock anthem 'Firestarter'. The lyrics were the first he had written for the band. 'It didn't really have anything to do with starting fires,' he told the BBC in 1996. 'It was when you're in front of five thousand people and you can go out there - and just with the aid of the music and a visual performance, you can stir all them people up into a frenzy and that's almost like starting a massive fire, or a riot.' Walter Stern's infamous black-and-white video, featuring a headbanging Flint in the abandoned Aldwych Tube station, was blacklisted by the BBC after it was first shown on Top Of The Pops and some whinging glakes whinged that it had frightened their children (a somewhat truncated version was shown subsequently). Despite - or, perhaps, partly because of - that, it knocked Take That's 'How Deep Is Your Love' off the top of the charts, selling more than six hundred thousand copies in the UK alone and becoming the anthem of the summer of 1996. Spurred by its success, the band's third CD, The Fat Of The Land - including bona fide classics like 'Breathe', 'Smack My Bitch Up' (with another hugely controversial video) and 'Fuel My Fire' - went to number one in both the US and UK, selling several million copies worldwide. Flint stepped up as a frontman, giving The Prodigy a focal point for their live shows - including a notable headline slot at Glastonbury in 1997. Festival organiser Emily Eavis called it a 'huge, unforgettable moment' - paying tribute to Flint on Twitter following his death - and revealed that The Prodigy had been booked for this year's event. The Prodigy had previously headlined the Glastonbury NME stage with an incendiary set in 1995, in one of the all-time festival scheduling clashes being on at the same time that Oasis were playing The Pyramid Stage. They got on very well with Liam and Noel, often being spotted socialising together and supporting Oasis the following year at Knebworth. This blogger saw The Prodigy twice during that period. They were proper sodding epic on both occasions.
Following the success of The Fat Of The Land, the band faltered. Howlett disowned the single 'Baby's Got A Temper', which included a controversial lyric about the date rape drug Rohypnol, while Flint recorded a largely forgotten solo CD, Device #1, in 2003. While remaining part of the band, Flint did not feature on The Prodigy's 2004 CD, Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned, on which vocal duties were handled by Maxim, Liam and Noel Gallagher and the actress Juliette Lewis, among others. During this period, Flint revealed that he had suffered from depression and formed a worrying dependence on prescription drugs. 'I'd line up rows of pills and just take them and take them and I'd lose track of how many until I passed out,' he told The Times in 2009. He decided to get clean after meeting Japanese DJ Mayumi Kai, giving up drugs, cigarettes and alcohol around the time of their marriage, in 2006. Three years later, The Prodigy regrouped and returned to their classic sound, on Invaders Must Die. The first single, 'Omen', was a major success and the band returned to festival stages and stadiums around the world. Their most recent CD, No Tourists, went to number one last November. Keith was also a keen motorcyclist and had his own team - Traction Control - which has won four Isle Of Man TT races. He had recently wrapped up a tour with The Prodigy in Australia and was due to join them in the US in May. In a statement, Essex police said: 'We were called to concerns for the welfare of a man at an address in Brook Hill, North End, just after 8:10 on Monday 4 March. We attended and, sadly, a forty nine-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene. His next of kin have been informed. The death is not being treated as suspicious and a file will be prepared for the coroner.'
So, dear blog reader, here is this week's semi-regular From The North candidate for a tweet which, 'almost, justifies Twitter's existence.'
And finally, dear blog reader ...