Harrison Ford auctions Han Solo Star Wars jacket in honour of daughter with epilepsy –
Harrison Ford is auctioning his Star Wars: The Force Awakens jacket for charity. The 73-year-old actor – who reprised his role as Han Solo in the latest installment of the sci-fi franchise – donated the iconic garment which he wore in his first scene in the 2015 movie to raise money for epilepsy research. The signed garment will benefit the NYU Langone Center and FACES (Finding A Cure for Epilepsy and Seizures), with bidding starting at $18,000 on ifOnly. But the actor – whose 26-year-old daughter Georgia suffers from the condition – joked the director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at the New York clinic, Dr. Orrin Devinsky, had taken a shine to the jacket. [Daily Mirror] In February 2016 the production company behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens was being prosecuted over a filming incident in which Harrison Ford broke his leg. Harrison Ford
FBI finds method to hack gunman’s iPhone without Apple’s help –
The FBI has managed to unlock the iPhone of the San Bernardino gunman without Apple’s help, ending a court case, the US justice department says. Apple had been resisting a court order issued last month requiring the firm to write new software to allow officials to access Syed Rizwan Farook’s phone. But officials on Monday said that it had been accessed independently and asked for the order to be withdrawn. Responding to the move, Apple said: “From the beginning, we objected to the FBI’s demand that Apple build a backdoor into the iPhone because we believed it was wrong and would set a dangerous precedent. As a result of the government’s dismissal, neither of these occurred. This case should never have been brought.” [Daily Telegraph]
At least 115 Al-Shabaab militants are killed and a further 110 are captured following heavy fighting with pro-government forces in the Galmudug region of Somalia, according to the regional government. There has been no independent confirmation of this claim. (BBC)
Belgian prosecutors release Faycal C., a man charged in connection with last week’s deadly Brussels bombings. The prosecutor’s office says the evidence which led to his arrest has not been backed up by the ongoing investigation. (Reuters)
New York GovernorAndrew Cuomo signs an order banning all non-essential travel to North Carolina, i.e., travel not necessary for the enforcement of New York state law, public health, and/or safety, following the state’s passage of a law blocking local governments from passing anti-discrimination ordinances. (CBS News)
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Chocolate shortage sparks violence at Easter family fun day in Skegness –
A volunteer at an Easter family fun day in Skegness was attacked by a visitor who became enraged when organisers ran out of chocolate eggs. Families paid £5 to attend Church Farm Museum’s “Easter Eggstravaganza”, which was raising funds for Bury-based charity Annabelle’s Challenge for Vascular Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. The fee included access to the site, billed as Lincolnshire’s only open air farming museum, along with a falconry display, an Easter bonnet competition, and an egg hunt. Families were also given an Easter egg – until supplies ran out. “We were handing them out and there were some people who got aggressive when we said we had run out of eggs. “A lady with her large family was aggressive and she grabbed my volunteer by the scarf round her neck, she pulled her across the counter and demanded her money back. [Daily Telegraph]
Belgium officials lower the official death toll from 35 to 32, with nearly 100 still hospitalized. (UPI)
BrusselsZaventem International Airport CEO Arnaud Feist says the airport will reopen at less than a quarter capacity Wednesday, as ongoing tests determine which flights can resume. It could take months for the airport to return to full capacity, Feist added. (UPI)
Dozens of chief executive officers of major U.S. technology, biotech, and financial companies urge North Carolina to repeal a new state law forcing transgender people to use rest-rooms and changing-rooms according to the gender on their birth-certificate.(AP via WBT)
The NC Values Coalition, which worked to get Charlotte‘s nondiscrimination ordinance overturned by the state legislature, says hundreds of North Carolina businesses support the new state law, though fear retaliation if they make that support public. The coalition did list 17 businesses willing to be identified as supporting the new law. (AP)
In a move designed to head off a 4-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court directs lawyers for the Obama administration, and for the religious groups who challenge it, to submit written briefs on a possible remedy to the case: whether coverage could be provided through the group’s insurance companies without any actual notice to the government. A 4-4 decision would not set a national precedent, and would let stand the preceding decision in each case. In these seven cases, the appeals court in six upheld the government mandate. (NBC News)
The Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, the country’s largest party, decides unanimously to leave President Rousseff’s governing coalition. While Rousseff will remain in office, it’s likely she could be impeached in a matter of months, which would make Vice PresidentMichel Temer president. (Reuters)
Chief of staff Jaques Wagner says President Rousseff will announce a new governing coalition before the end of the week. The President has an opportunity to form a new coalition for her remaining two years and nine months in office, Wagner added. (Reuters²)
The Millennium Challenge Corporation, a United States foreign aid agency, pulls $472m of funding for a Tanzanian electricity project after concluding that the election held in Zanzibar “was neither inclusive nor representative”. Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania, held a rerun of its election that was boycotted by the opposition after it was previously annulled because of supposed fraud. (BBC)
Two police officers are killed and four others are wounded in the western Venezuelan city of San Cristóbal after they were run over by a bus driven by young men protesting a hike in public transport fares, according to government officials and Reuters witnesses. (Reuters)
Europe’s largest floating solar farm to open –
The biggest floating solar farm in Europe is being constructed on a reservoir. More than 23,000 solar photovoltaic panels are being laid on the surface of the Queen Elizabeth II reservoir near Walton-on-Thames, Surrey. The farm, which will be the size of eight football pitches, is expected to generate 5.8 million kilowatt hours of electricity in a year. The energy will be used to part power a nearby water treatment works. Thames Water said construction of the solar farm, which is about eight miles (13 km) from Heathrow airport, will be completed by the end of March. The floating pontoon will be 57,500 sq m in size. [BBC]
The United States Food and Drug Administration announces it has relaxed its official requirements regarding the use of the abortion drug Mifeprex (RU-486). The current guidelines were based on 1990s medical evidence. Changes include reducing the number of physician visits required by abortion-seeking women, reducing drug dosage, and allowing women to take the drug for three weeks longer — now a total of 70 days. (UPI)
Mexico City, facing the capital’s worst air-quality crisis in over a decade, issues a temporary order that all cars remain idle one day a week. Today, authorities report a pollution index of 108 (bad) after low readings during Holy Week. Vehicles will also be forced from the roads one Saturday a month. The measure will begin next Tuesday, April 5, and run until Thursday, June 30, 2016. Starting July 1, improved technology will be in place at smog-check centers where all vehicles must be tested every six months. (AP via Fox News)
A Larnaca, Cyprus, court orders that 59-year-old Seif Eddin Mustafa, who was arrested by Cypriot police yesterday, remain in local police custody for eight days to assist Cyprus’s own investigation. Mustafa faces charges of hijacking, illegal possession of explosives, kidnapping, and threats to commit violence. It’s unclear if Mustafa had any explosives; the bomb belt he wore was fake, and officials are waiting for testing results on unidentified liquids found among his possessions. (AP via The Daily Courier)
The opposition plans to generate a recall referendum that would ask voters if President Maduro should be removed from office. The Constitution states a recall referendum can be held once the president has served half of his six-year term (Maduro became President on April 19, 2013) and at least 20 percent of registered voters sign the petition. (UPI²)
Ronnie Corbett, best known for The Two Ronnies, dies aged 85 –
Entertainer Ronnie Corbett, best known for BBC comedy sketch show The Two Ronnies, has died aged 85. His publicist said: “Ronnie Corbett CBE, one of the nation’s best-loved entertainers, passed away this morning, surrounded by his loving family. “They have asked that their privacy is respected at this very sad time.” Corbett was one of the UK’s best-loved comedians and along with Ronnie Barker, their double act was one of the most successful of the 1970s and ’80s. [BBC] See Video and List of the Day Ronnie Corbett in 2010
Video of the Day –
The Two Ronnies. Four Candles
List of the Day –
Ronnie Corbett’s best jokes
A man was marooned on a desert island. One day a beautiful woman arrives in a wet suit. ‘When did you last have a smoke?’ she asks. ‘Five years ago.’ So she gets out a cigar and he smokes it. She unzips her wet suit a bit and says, ‘When did you last have a drink?’ He said, ‘Five years ago.’ So she gets out a bottle of Scotch and he has a drink. Then she unzips her wet suit a bit more and says, ‘And when was the last time you played around?’ He looks at her in amazement and says: ‘You’re not telling me you’ve got a set of golf clubs in there?’
A cement mixer collided with a prison van on the Kingston by-pass. Motorists are asked to be on the look-out for 16 hardened criminals.
We will be talking to an out of work contortionist who says he can no longer make ends meet.
There was a fire at the main Inland Revenue office in London today, but it was put out before any serious good was done.
All those who believe in psychokinesis raise my right hand.
For some time, my wife’s had this ridiculous idea that I’m playing too much golf. Actually, it came to a head at about 11.30 last night. She suddenly shouted at me: “Golf, golf, golf. All you ever think about is bloody golf!”. And I’ll be honest, it frightened the life out of me. I mean, you don’t expect to meet somebody on the 14th green at that time of night.
This is a message for seven honeymoon couples in a hotel in Peebles: Breakfast was served three days ago.
French wine growers fear that this year’s vintage may be entirely spoiled due to the grape treaders’ sit-in.
West Mercia police announced tonight that they wish to interview a man wearing high heels and frilly knickers, but the chief constable said they must wear their normal uniforms.
It was revealed in a government survey published today that the prime minister is doing the work of two men, Laurel and Hardy.
We’ll be talking to a car designer who’s crossed a Toyota with Quasimodo and come up with the Hatchback of Notre Dame.
After a series of crimes in the Glasgow area, Chief Inspector McTavish has announced that he is looking for a man with one eye. If he doesn’t find him, he’s going to use both eyes.
We’ve just heard that in the English Channel, a ship carrying red paint has collided with a ship carrying purple paint. It is believed that both crews have been marooned.
A grandfather has gone missing after eating four cans of baked beans, two cauliflowers and a jar of gherkins. His family have made an emotional appeal for him not to come home for at least a fortnight.
Today is our anniversary. It’s just 12 years ago today when she said “I do”. It certainly surprised me, because I didn’t think she did.
That was the night when I leapt onto the dancefloor and did my rather racy impression of John Travolta. I suppose it must have been the animal in me. Well, I had a ferret down my trousers.
This new controller thinks I am the funniest man in Britain. He’s been told to stay in bed and take things easy for a while.
I remember that day clearly, because it was the one day there wasn’t a sale at Allied Carpets.
This joke dates back to 256 BC which, as scholars of ancient Egypt will know, was the year of the famous wildcat strike by the amalgamated union of eunuchs and allied sopranos, in a dispute over severance pay.
Since the last joke, I’d like to thank all those of you who have written in with suggestions about what I can do with my act, one or two of you with diagrams.
Offers of work have been flooding in. Last week I was invited to go on a round-the-world cruise. By the chairman of the Flat Earth Society.
This week I was asked to do a very important after-dinner speech. I said: “Do you want me to be funny?” They said: “No, just be yourself.”
A Malaysian court dismisses Malaysia Airlines’s bid to throw out a lawsuit filed by relatives of three people who went missing on Flight 370. The company argued that the disappearance of MH370 on March 8, 2014, occurred before the company came into existence as Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB) on September 1, 2015, and therefore has no liability to relatives. The court ruled MAB’s liability would be determined in a trial. (UPI)(Malay Mail)
Hello! Magazine apologises for ‘fabricated’ Clooney interview –
Hello! Magazine has apologised for running an “exclusive” interview with George Clooney that the actor says was completely fabricated. The UK-based magazine said it purchased the interview from an entertainment news agency called Famous, which they have worked with in the past. Hello! said it thought the article was accurate and has removed the piece from its website. Mr Clooney said the interview never took place. He said in a statement: “The problem is that I have not given an interview to Hello Magazine and the quotes attributed to me are not accurate. In my experience, being misquoted is not unusual but to have an ‘exclusive interview’ completely fabricated is something new. And a very disturbing trend.” [BBC] George Clooney
Video of the Day –
Introducing the self-driving bicycle in the Netherlands – (only available on April 1st!)
Health authorities in Fiji are urging people to observe strict personal hygiene as the country goes through a massive outbreak of conjunctivitis. In the past 14 days alone the number of cases of the virus in one district of Suva have jumped from 700 to 5000 cases. (Radio New Zealand)
The Parliament of Moldova announces that the country will hold a Presidential election on October 30. A court in early March ruled in favor of having a direct national election to choose a president rather than a vote in parliament, a concession to protesters who have been demonstrating for months against the political elite. This will be the first time since 2001 that the public will choose their country’s president directly. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)
Scientists ‘find cancer’s Achilles heel’ –
Scientists believe they have discovered a way to “steer” the immune system to kill cancers. Researchers at University College, London have developed a way of finding unique markings within a tumour – its “Achilles heel” – allowing the body to target the disease. But the personalised method, reported in Science journal, would be expensive and has not yet been tried in patients. Experts said the idea made sense but could be more complicated in reality. However, the researchers, whose work was funded by Cancer Research UK, believe their discovery could form the backbone of new treatments and hope to test it in patients within two years. [BBC]
Iraqi security forces free a large number of prisoners from an underground ISIL-operated jail in the city of Hīt. Malallah al-Obeidi, a local official in the Al Anbar Governorate, put the number of freed prisoners at around 1,500, saying most of them were civilians. (AFP via Al Arabiya)
The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopts a resolution setting the stage for the deployment of UN Police to Burundi, where political unrest that has lasted nearly a year killed over 400 people and displaced tens of thousands. The resolution asks Secretary-GeneralBan Ki-moon to present options within 15 days for the deployment of UN police in order to monitor the security situation, promote respect for human rights and advance the rule of law. (Al Jazeera)
Greece demands an explanation from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) after an apparent leaked transcript suggested the IMF may threaten to pull out of the country’s bailout as a tactic to force European lenders to offer more debt relief. Whistleblowing site WikiLeaks published what it said was the transcript of a March 19 conference call of three senior IMF officials discussing tactics to apply pressure on Greece, Germany and the EU to reach a deal in April. (Reuters)
The Governor of the U.S. territory of GuamEddie Calvo announces his intention to hold a plebiscite to decide the future political status of the island. Calvo said he hopes to start a successful “education campaign” on the issue before filing a petition to start a referendum. If the plebiscite does take place, voters on Guam would be asked to select which political status they would prefer; independence, statehood, or free association However, the possible vote would be non-binding as any change in political status would require an act of Congress in Washington, D.C.. Guam is currently on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories in need of decolonization. (Radio New Zealand)
Police in Brussels, Belgium arrest multiple right-wing and anti-racist protesters, with riot squads engaged in a tense confrontation with local youths in the district of Sint-Jans-Molenbeek. A standoff grew when far-right protesters faced a counter-demonstration, despite protests being banned by local authorities who were fearful of last Sunday’s event, in which police forcefully dispersed a right-wing protest with water cannons. (Reuters)
World Twenty20: West Indies beat England to claim second title –
Carlos Brathwaite hit the first four balls of the final over for six as West Indies stunned England to win the World Twenty20. West Indies, who were 11-3 in pursuit of England’s 155-9, needed 19 off the final over to win and did it in style. Marlon Samuels’ 85 not out kept them in contention before Brathwaite’s match-winning blitz off Ben Stokes. Joe Root scored 54 for England but nothing could stop the Windies joining their women as World T20 champions. In the process, the West Indies also became the first two-time winners of the men’s World Twenty20. [BBC]
Panama Papers: Mossack Fonseca leak reveals elite’s tax havens –
A huge leak of confidential documents has revealed how the rich and powerful use tax havens to hide their wealth. Eleven million documents were leaked from one of the world’s most secretive companies, Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. They show how Mossack Fonseca has helped clients launder money, dodge sanctions and evade tax. The company says it has operated beyond reproach for 40 years and has never been charged with criminal wrong-doing. The documents show links to 72 current or former heads of state in the data, including dictators accused of looting their own countries. Gerard Ryle, director of the ICIJ, said the documents covered the day-to-day business at Mossack Fonseca over the past 40 years. “I think the leak will prove to be probably the biggest blow the offshore world has ever taken because of the extent of the documents,” he said. [BBC]
Azerbaijan calls a unilateral ceasefire in its fight with ethnic Armenians one day after 30 soldiers died. The Associated Press reports rebel forces reject Azerbaijan’s claims, saying they see no sign the government has stopped fighting. (AP), (BBC)(NPR)
Czech Minister of the Interior Milan Chovanec says that authorities in Prague will send a group of 25 Iraqi Christians back to Iraq after they tried to move to Germany rather than staying in the Czech Republic. The refugees were on their way to Germany via bus before being stopped at the border. Czech authorities agreed to a request by the German police to take the people back. Chovanec said the 25 Iraqis abused Czech generosity and should go back to Iraq within seven days. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)
Police forcibly break up a protest in Malé, Maldives, with tear gas and pepper spray and detain multiple journalists. The demonstration was against government moves to introduce a new law to criminalize defamation. (BBC)
The Associated Press reports a government-sponsored committee of 27 companies/trade associations, set up by the U.S. FAA in February, on Friday submitted recommendations that could clear the way forcommercial drone flights over populated areas, and help speed the introduction of package delivery drones. (AP)