Mel Gibson swears at television reporter –
Mel Gibson swore at a television reporter who questioned him about his controversial past, referring to him as an ——–. The actor and director snapped while being interviewed on Chicago-based station WGN about his alcohol addiction and anti-Semitic rant towards a police officers four years ago. Gibson, 54, aimed his comment at entertainment reporter Dean Richards, thinking that his microphone had been switched off. [Daily Telegraph] Mel Gibson
James Cracknell and Ben Fogle to cross Australia on foot –
James Cracknell and Ben Fogle are to embark on their latest risky adventure, retracing a Victorian expedition to cross Australia which ended in death. After rowing the Atlantic and walking to the South Pole, this time they are planning on walking 4,000 miles across the heart of Australia in the height of summer. They will be following in the footsteps of Irishman Robert Burke and Englishman William Wills, who set out in August 1860 to cross from Melbourne in the south to the Gulf of Carpentaria in the north. The pair made the 2,000 mile south-north leg across what was called the “ghastly blank” without too much trouble, heading an entourage that comprised 19 men, 23 horses, 26 camels and 12 tons of equipment, which included four enema kits and 12 dandruff brushes. But on the way back they perished as their support team deserted them. [Daily Telegraph] Ben Fogle and James Cracknell just before the start of the Atlantic Rowing Race 2005
Five Diana dresses sell for half a million dollars –
Five dresses designed for and worn by Britain’s late Princess Diana have been auctioned off by Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles for a total of nearly half a million dollars. British dressmaker Catherine Walker had made three of the gowns and all fetched within or just above their estimated price of between $60,000 and $80,000. The other two dresses were made by Caroline Charles and Zandra Rhodes. Diana, Princess of Wales
Two-headed cat lives to be 15 years-old –
A cat that was born with two faces has died at the age of 15 in North Grafton, Massachusetts. Called Frank and Louie – ‘Frankenlouie’ the birth defect is known as a Janus cat, named for a Roman god with two faces and expected to die very young due to congenital defects. While blind in his center eye, both his outer eyes worked fine, and while he had two noses and mouths, Frankenlouie had only one brain.
Orion capsule successful first mission –
The US space agency’s new Orion crew capsule has completed its maiden, unmanned voyage with a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off Mexico. Orion is designed to take humans to destinations such as the Moon and Mars. The flight was intended to test its critical technologies and took four and a half hours. Orion capsule
NYPD arrest go-slow –
Police in the New York Police Department (NYPD) have dramatically reduced the amount of arrests and other actions since the shooting of two of their officers on December 20th 2015. Citations for traffic violations have fallen by 94 percent, from 10,069 to 587; summonses for low-level offenses like public drinking and urination are down by 94 percent — from 4,831 to 300; parking violations drop 92 percent, from 14,699 to 1,241 and drug arrests by cops dropped by 84 percent, from 382 to 63.
I “emoji” you –
The most popular word of 2014 is not actually a word at all but a symbol meaning love – the ’emoji’ heart symbol was the most widely used character in blogs, Twitter and Facebook and in 250,000 global news outlets in the last 12 months, according to a list compiled by the Global Language Monitor in Austin, Texas.
3 wheels on my airliner –
A Virgin Atlantic passenger plane landed safely at London’s Gatwick Airport after discovering a problem with part of its main landing gear. Virgin flight VS43 was travelling from Gatwick to Las Vegas when it had to return and land on slightly less than the full number of wheels.
No such thing as bad publicity –
The Interview, the film about the spoof assassination of the North Korea Leader becomes Sony’s biggest download film ever. It’s been downloaded more than two million times since its release on 27 December, making back a third of its $44m (£28m) budget.
Sam Smith grabs a Grammy (or four) –
Hours after the BAFTAs in London saw favourite Eddie Redmayne pick up the top actor award, Grammy’s favourite Sam Smith wins four trophies at the Grammy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles. Smith won record of the year and song of the year for “Stay with Me”, artist of year and best new artist. Beck won album if the year for “Morning Phase”. Sam Smith posted this photo in Instagram with the words “The best night of my entire life”. List of awards below
He later tweeted:
Dr Who is expert on exiting when being chased by a bear –
British actor David Tennant makes a successful debut as a contestant on BBC Radio 4’s Just a Minute making it through a full 60 seconds without repetition, hesitation or deviation. The former Doctor Who and Broadchurch star talked for one minute on the subject of “Exit, Pursued by a Bear” without once being interrupted on his very first appearance on the show and it is thought to be the first time in nearly 50 years of the show that a debutant has made it through the 60 second challenge. David Tennant DIY store prepares for Fifty Shades of Grey specialist advice –
With the film version of Fifty Shades of Grey about to open, Britain’s biggest DIY store B&Q have told their staff to prepare for a big rise in demand for rope, cable ties and tape. It is also providing copies of the book to all 359 stores which can be lent out to staff so they can be ready for “sensitive” questions about the products.
Samsung TVs are listening in –
Samsung warns that it’s smart TV voice activation feature could be recorded by Samsung or the developers of the software. Because the TV is always “listening” for instructions in voice mode and is likely to be connected to the internet any conversations could in theory be recorded.
Canadian MP suffers from reduced smalls –
A Canadian MP Pat Martin had to leave parliament urgently due to ill fitting underpants. The opposition MP found it impossible to sit through the voting process while wearing knickers bought in a half-price sale. After a swift re-adjustment he made it back in time to cast his ballot. True commando. Pat Martin MP
Rihanna hits 27 –
Robyn Rihanna Fenty hits late thirties. She has sold over 30 million albums and 120 million singles worldwide,making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time Rihanna
The top winners at the Oscars are Eddie Redmayne (Best Actor in The Theory of Everything), Julianne Moore (Best Actress in Still Alice) and Birdman (Best Picture, Best original screenplay, Best cinematography and Best director). Eddie Redmayne
Video of the Day –
Birdman Spoof – Fred Armisen and Kristen Bell | 30th Film Independent Spirit Awards
Salman Khan: Bollywood star guilty in hit-and-run case –
An Indian court has found Bollywood star Salman Khan guilty of killing a homeless man in a 2002 hit-and-run driving incident in Mumbai. The man was among five people who were run over in the incident. The actor was charged with culpable homicide. Khan had said his driver was behind the wheel, but the judge said the actor was driving the car and was under the influence of alcohol at the time. His sentence is still to be announced. Khan faces up to 10 years in jail. Legal experts say the actor is bound to appeal against the verdict and the case is likely to go on for many more years. [BBC] [Later in the year Khan was cleared of the charges] Salman Khan
Django Unchained actress to apologise to police –
An actress investigated by police after a report she had sex in a car in public must apologise to officers, after admitting disturbing the peace.
Django Unchained actress Daniele Watts had initially claimed police actions last September were racially motivated. Watts was handcuffed and briefly detained during the incident, after LA Police responded to a call about “indecent exposure”. Prosecutors made a deal to drop charges of committing a lewd act in public. The pair had been facing up to six months in jail and a $1,000 (£659) fine if convicted of committing a lewd act in public. [BBC]
Kitchen microwaves baffle Australian space scientists –
After 17 years of fruitlessly searching the galaxy, Australian scientists have discovered the source of mysterious radio signals hitting a telescope. It turns out the source was their own kitchen microwaves. PhD student Emily Petroff made the discovery at the Parkes telescope, after noticing that the signals were only received during business hours. The rays, known as “perytons”, were emitted when impatient staff opened the microwave door prematurely. [BBC]
50 Shades of Subterfuge: Rape charges as ‘male model’ offering sex in dark turns out to be balding 68-year-old –
A Frenchman masquerading as a 37-year old “male model” offering women 50 Shades of Grey-type sex dates in the dark is facing rape charges after they belatedly discovered he was a short, fat and balding 68-year old. A man calling himself Anthony Laroche attracted much female interest on several dating websites after depicting himself as a young, mysterious prince charming with a photo highlighting his smouldering gaze, square jaw and designer stubble. Adding spice to the proceedings, “Anthony” proposed a “blind” date in which the two total strangers had sex in the dark on their first encounter at his flat in Nice, southern France. [Daily Telegraph]
Video of the Day –
Arnold Acts Out His Films In 6 Minutes – The Late Late Show with James Corden
Omar Sharif, actor – dies aged 83 –
Omar Sharif was the most famous Egyptian actor of his generation. He brought a smouldering intensity to films such as Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago. A man of striking good looks he escorted some of the world’s most beautiful women. But he quit acting to become a ubiquitous presence at the world’s most exclusive gaming tables. [BBC] Omar Sharif
Greece’s Parliament Approves Prime Minister’s Bailout Plan –
Setting the stage for a pivotal deal with Europe, the Greek Parliament early Saturday approved Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s proposal for a three-year, $59 billion rescue package with harsh austerity terms that was remarkably similar to the one Greek voters rejected in a referendum less than a week ago. With a Sunday deadline looming for a decision on the bailout, a crunch point that all sides see as Greece’s last chance to avoid bankruptcy and stay in the euro currency zone, the plan passed by an overwhelming margin. [NY Times] Alexis Tsipras was elected on January 25, 2015 and vowed to reverse many of the austerity measures adopted by Greece since a series of bailouts began in 2010. Alexis Tsipras
A bailout plan is submitted two hours before the midnight deadline. The plan would raise a retirement age to 67 and cut pensions by 15% for those retiring at 62. (LA Times)(Money Control)
Ellen Pao resigns as the interim CEO of Internet site reddit following a user backlash over the deletion of some subreddits for harassment and sacking of a popular admin. Site co-founder Steve Huffman will take her place. (WSJ)
Apple ‘sets shipping date for electric car’ –
Apple has designated building an electric car as a “committed project” and has set a target shipping date for 2019, according to reports. The project has been codenamed Titan and its leaders have been given permission to triple the 600-person team, the Wall Street Journal claimed. For Apple, a “ship date” doesn’t necessarily mean the date that customers receive a new product; it can also mean the date that engineers sign off on the product’s main features. Reports in August revealed that Apple was developing a car and studying self-driving technology, but it was unclear if the iPhone maker was designing a vehicle that could drive itself. [Daily Telegraph]
Foo Fighters ‘kicked off’ performing at Emmys after disagreement with Fox –
Dave Grohl says Foo Fighters were “kicked off” performing at the Emmy’s after a disagreement with Fox. The singer said that the band had been approached to play at the ceremony. But he says their spot was pulled after they refused to play half of Sonic Highways and half of Learning To Fly. “The band and the Academy were extremely happy and excited to have Foo Fighters play as the first ever rock band on the Emmys,” the Foos said in a statement to Rolling Stone magazine. “Fox then refused to allow the band to play a full song from the Emmy-winning Sonic Highways. [BBC Newsbeat] Dave Grohl
U.S. officials say Russia has begun flying drones on surveillance missions over Syria in what would be Russia’s first military air operations in the country since the recent military build-up at a Syrian airbase in Latakia. (Reuters)
At least eight people are killed and 45 wounded in shootings over the weekend across Chicago. (Fox Chicago)
A Denver, Colorado federal jury convicts Harold Henthorn of murder in the death of his wife Toni Henthorn, who fell off a cliff as they hiked in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park to celebrate their wedding anniversary. His previous wife had died in suspicious circumstances also. (AP)
Peanut Corporation of America owner Stewart Parnell is sentenced to 28 years for Salmonella typhimurium-tainted peanut butter, the most severe punishment ever handed out to a producer in a foodborne illness case. In late 2008 and early 2009, nine people died and at least 714 people in 46 states, half of them children, fell ill. Parnell and his brother were convicted in September 2014 of 71 criminal counts. His brother Michael Parnell is sentenced to 20 years, and the plant’s former quality control manager Mary Wilkerson is sentenced to five years. (LA Times), (USA Today)
Politics and elections
Political parties in Northern Ireland hold talks to save a power-sharing agreement following claims that Irish nationalist militants were involved in the murder of a former operative. (Reuters)
Qantas crew don All Blacks jerseys after World Cup defeat –
Australian airline Qantas has settled its wager with Air New Zealand after Australia’s Rugby World Cup defeat. The crew of Monday’s Sydney to Auckland flight wore All Blacks jerseys, honouring a bet born on Twitter. The wager was inspired by some social media sparring – an earlier suggestion was for the losing airline to repaint its fleet in opposition colours. The Kiwis became the first team to defend the Rugby World Cup on Saturday, defeating the Wallabies 34-17. [BBC] Qantas on Twitter
NASA reveals that Antarctica is actually gaining more ice than it is losing –
NASA scientists have shattered the conventional wisdom that Antarctica’s ice surface is shrinking and revealed that the amount of ice is in fact growing. Though accepting that glaciers are still shrinking because of man-made global warming, the new study published in the Journal of Glaciologysuggests that recent gains more than offset losses elsewhere. The findings challenges previous research including the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2013 study, which concluded that the sea is rising by 0.27 millimeters annually because of melting in Antarctica. [Daily Telegraph]
Guinness goes vegan: Stout agrees to stop using animal bladders in brewing process for first time in 256 years –
The famous Irish stout is to become vegan friendly for the first time in its 256-year history, as the company halts the use of fish bladders in its brewing filters. The new system is due to be installed sometime in 2016. A Guinness spokesman said: “While isinglass is a very effective means of clarification and has been used for many years, we expect to stop using it as the new filtration asset is introduced.” The news follows a longstanding campaign and several online petitions from beer-loving vegans, with many highlighting the fact Guinness and other breweries are not required to state the use of isinglass on the bottle. [Daily Telegraph]
Nepali police shoot dead an Indian citizen at a border checkpoint as they attempt to clear protesters whose blockade has crippled Nepal’s fuel supplies and badly damaged relations between the neighboring countries. (Reuters)
The Vatican police arrest Msgr. Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda and Francesca Chaouqui, members of a former papal commission charged with studying financial operations of the Holy See, for allegedly leaking confidential documents to the media, a crime since 2013. (New York Times)
Wikipedia Celebrates its 15th birthday –
If you want a modern wonder of the internet, look no further than Wikipedia, which turns 15 years old today. It’s gigantic (more than five million articles in English alone), and gigantically useful for those seeking a grounding in any topic. It has illustrated how the internet and the power of the crowd can disrupt established businesses: both the book-based Encyclopaedia Britannica and Microsoft’s CD-based Encarta fell before the onslaught of a simple collaborative document that anyone could edit and enhance. Even Google failed with its rival, launched in 2008 and killed amid indifference in 2012. It even has a creation myth; people think it was the effort of Jimmy Wales alone, but in fact he and Larry Sanger (an “internet project developer” – thanks, Wikipedia) were working on the idea of an online encyclopedia called Nupedia, which began in 1999. [Daily Telegraph] [This web site is a supporter of Wikipedia] Jimmy Wales
Video of the Day –
22×22 rubik’s cube World Record
List of the Day
15 amazing things since the idea of Wikipedia was launched to the world on January 15, 2001. [Wikipedia]
Millions of people have gathered all this knowledge by working together from everywhere around the world.
It was held at the Göttingen University Library in Germany.
Behind the scenes, bots do some of the repetitive jobs so that volunteers don’t have to.
There are almost 2,000 bots approved for use on the English Wikipedia alone, and they even have names. PhotoCatBot helps people find articles that need images.
Wikipedia became one of the top 10 websites in the world in 2007.
It’s the only non-profit anywhere near the top.
People who work on Wikipedia are called “Wikipedians”.
Building the world’s largest database of information with people from all over can be challenging. Wikipedians write rules, guidelines and essays to help other people understand being a Wikipedian. “No angry mastodons” suggests that you shouldn’t edit when you’re hungry or intoxicated.
The first photo ever uploaded to Commons was a pair of quail.
…while this scan of the world’s first photograph uploaded to Wikimedia Commons is entirely inscrutable. Speaking of birds and photos, there is such a thing as pigeon photography: “A homing pigeon was fitted with an aluminium breast harness to which a lightweight time-delayed miniature camera could be attached.” (There was even a stamp for pigeon mail. It’s adorable and shaped like a triangle.)
It simply said, “A dog by which all others are measured.” The English Wikipedia page for poodleis now more than 5,000 words, and includes the many names that people have invented for poodles crossed with other dog breeds: Labradoodle, Poochon, Cockapoo, Spoodle, Maltipoo, Goldendoodle, Schnoodle, Pekapoos, Cavapoo, and Bernedoodle.
Wikipedia helps keep the Internet open and free.
In 2012, the Wikipedia communities blacked out the site to protest SOPA.
“Researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory were able to make extremely accurate forecasts about the spread of dengue fever in Brazil and flu in the U.S., Japan, Poland and Thailand by examining three years’ worth of Wikipedia search data.”
Gunmen armed with heavy weapons attack a restaurant called Cappuccino and the Splendid Hotel, taking hostages, in the heart of Burkino Faso‘s capital, Ouagadougou. At least 20 people are reportedly killed. (BBC)(The Guardian)
Three men are arrested in the outskirts of Jakarta in connection with the attacks. Police have identified the attackers killed in the raid with two of the men having been imprisoned for terrorism related offences. (AP via Newser)
Maria Sharapova failed drugs test at Australian Open –
Former world number one Maria Sharapova has revealed she failed a drugs test at the Australian Open. The Russian, 28, tested positive for meldonium, a substance she has been taking since 2006 for health issues. Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam champion, is provisionally suspended from 12 March pending further action. “I did fail the test and take full responsibility for it,” said Sharapova, who won the Wimbledon title as a 17-year-old in 2004. “For the past 10 years I have been given a medicine called mildronate by my family doctor and a few days ago after I received a letter from the ITF [International Tennis Federation] I found out it also has another name of meldonium, which I did not know.” [BBC] See List of the Day Maria Sharapova
Peyton Manning: Denver Broncos quarterback retires from NFL –
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning has announced his retirement, ending a sparkling 18-year career in the NFL. Manning struggled to hold back tears as he confirmed the news at a media conference in Denver on Monday. He said: “I fought a good fight. I finished my football race. After 18 years it is time.” Manning, who turns 40 on 24 March, played his last game when he helped the Broncos win the Super Bowl in February. It was his second Super Bowl win, the first coming in 2007 during a 14-year spell with the Indianapolis Colts. [BBC] Peyton Manning
Amnesty International takes on the EU for using Turkey as a buffer to police Europe’s borders. Deputy Director Gauri van Gulik says Europe has an absolute duty to protect refugees and must fast-track significant, unconditional resettlement. (AP via The Washington Post)
Former mayor of the Pitcairn IslandsMike Warren is found guilty of downloading more than 1000 images and videos of child abuse and child pornography while working in child protection and is sentenced to 20 months in prison. (The Guardian)
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)
News from Wikipedia – please support this valuable resource
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)
Bryan Adams cancels Mississippi concert over new religious law –
Bryan Adams has cancelled a concert in Mississippi over the US state’s new controversial religious liberty law. The law, which allows some private businesses and religious groups to refuse service to gay people, was passed last week. The singer issued a statement saying he could not “in good conscience” perform in the state. He added he found it “incomprehensible that LGBT citizens are being discriminated against”. He was due to play the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi on Thursday. Adams’s cancellation comes after Bruce Springsteen cancelled a show in North Carolina last week because of a new law in that state. [BBC] Bryan Adams
Clashes and air strikes are reported in Yemen despite a fragile truce between the government and Houthis taking effect. However, the truce appears to be largely holding as members from the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement are granted unhindered access to give humanitarian aid and personnel across the country. (BBC)
Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the United Nations special envoy for Yemen, says he welcomes the tentative truce that started at midnight Yemen time. The truce opens unhindered access for relief aid to all of Yemen. Peace talks are set to start later this month. (Reuters)
Voting for a referendum begins in Darfur, Sudan. Voters will be asked during the three-day referendum to decide on the permanent administrative status of the region. The choices are for the creation of a Darfur Region composed of the States of Darfur, or the retention of the status quo states system. Darfur is currently divided into five states. Voters will decide this week whether the area should go back to being one region, as it was until 1994. However, there are fears of voter apathy and if the referendum will be credible. (Al Jazeera)
The President of the Georgian breakaway state of South OssetiaLeonid Tibilov announces his plan to hold a referendum on whether to become part of Russia or to keep its de facto independence before August of this year. This comes after South Ossetia signed various agreements further integrating the region with Russia. (TASS)
Prof Hawking backs interstellar travel project –
Stephen Hawking is backing a project to send tiny spacecraft to another star system within a generation. They would travel trillions of miles; far further than any previous craft.
A $100m (£70m) research programme to develop the computer chip-sized “starships” was launched by the billionaire Yuri Milner, supported by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. “If we are to survive as a species we must ultimately spread out to the stars,” he said. “Astronomers believe that there is a reasonable chance of an Earth-like planet orbiting one of the stars [in] the Alpha Centauri system. But we will know more in the next two decades from ground based and space based telescopes. “Technological developments in the last two decades and the future make it possible in principle within a generation.” [BBC] Stephen Hawking in 1999
Entertainer and producer David Gest found dead –
Entertainer, producer and reality television star David Gest has died in a London hotel aged 62, a statement from his friend says. Gest, who is a former husband of singer Liza Minnelli, died at the Four Seasons hotel in Canary Wharf. His friend and ex-bodyguard Imad Handi confirmed the news in a statement. American Gest was best known in the UK for his appearances on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! and Celebrity Big Brother. [BBC]
A Pakistanipolice officer accidentally detonates a grenade in an anti-terrorism court in Karachi, injuring himself and a court assistant. The officer was attempting to demonstrate a grenade detonator to a judge and said the grenade was defused before pulling the pin. (The Guardian)
North Carolina GovernorPat McCrory signs Executive Order 73 that addresses some, but not all, troublesome provisions in House Bill 2 that caused businesses, traveling recording stars, etc., to stay clear of the state. The order does expand the state’s anti-discrimination employment policy to include LBGT protection, but reiterates that people use the marked facility consistent with “… their biological sex.” The American Civil Liberties Union says the order, “… fall(s) far short of correcting the damage done … (and that)… transgender people are still explicitly targeted by being forced to use the wrong restroom.” Equality North Carolina says, “… the order doubles down on the Governor’s support for some of the most problematic provisions of HB2.” (NPR)(WSOC)(WNCN)
A German train controller, who was operating the tracks where two trains collided on February 9 near the town of Bad Aibling, Bavaria, is arrested on possible manslaughter charges. Prosecutors say the controller had been playing a game on his mobile phone, which led to his making signalling errors. The crash resulted in 11 deaths and 85 injuries, 24 serious. (UPI)
Politics and elections
Hundreds of people take to the streets of Handwara, Jammu and Kashmir after Indian Army soldiers shot dead at least two people during a protest against an alleged case of sexual harrasment by an army soldier against a young woman. (Al Jazeera)
Leicester City confirmed as 2015/16 Premier League champions –
Leicester City have completed one of the most remarkable triumphs in sporting history by winning the 2015/16 Premier League title. The club’s first top-flight championship in their 132-year history was sealed following Tottenham’s 2-2 draw with Chelsea on Monday night, meaning they have an unassailable seven-point lead at the top of the table with two games left to play. At the start of the season, Leicester were 5000/1 outsiders to become champions after flirting with relegation for most of last season and they were playing in League One as recently as 2009. [Sky News] See Video of the Day
Craig Wright revealed as Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto –
Australian entrepreneur Craig Wright has publicly identified himself as Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto. His admission follows years of speculation about who came up with the original ideas underlying the digital cash system. Mr Wright has provided technical proof to back up his claim using coins known to be owned by Bitcoin’s creator. Prominent members of the Bitcoin community and its core development team say they have confirmed his claims. By going public, Mr Wright hopes to put an end to press speculation about the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto. The New Yorker, Fast Company, Newsweek and many other media organisations have all conducted long investigations seeking Bitcoin’s creator and named many different people as candidates. “I have not done this because it is what I wanted. It’s not because of my choice,” he said, adding that he had no plans to become the figurehead for bitcoins. [BBC]
Video of the Day –
Leicester City players celebrate winning Barclays Premier League
Artillery shelling and drone attacks by the U.S.-led coalition strike Islamic State positions in Syria, according to Turkish authorities, killing 63 militants and destroying multiple rocket launcher and gun positions. (AP)
Business and economy
The Philippines stock market suffers the biggest drop since February amid uncertainty about the upcoming elections. (Bloomberg)
European leaders open world’s longest rail tunnel in Switzerland –
The world’s longest rail tunnel, running for 35 miles (57km) under the Swiss Alps, has officially opened. The Swiss president, Johann Schneider-Ammann, said the tunnel, which it is hoped will ease transit through the heart of the continent, would “join the people and the economies” of Europe at a time of rising nationalism and border closures. He spoke before European leaders made a ceremonial first journey through the Gotthard base tunnel. Passengers included the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, the French president, François Hollande, and the Italian prime minister, Matteo Renzi. While the tunnel was entirely funded by Switzerland, a non-EU member, the bloc’s transport commissioner, Violeta Bulc, hailed it as “a godsend” for the continent. It runs from Erstfeld in the central Swiss canton of Uri, to Bodio in the southern Ticino canton. [The Guardian]
German police are investigating 26 sexual assault reports from this weekend’s Schlossgrabenfest music festival near Darmstadt. In one case, three women reported being groped by groups of men Saturday. Police have detained three Pakistani immigrants, and expect more reports following this announcement. (CNN)(UPI)(The Independent)
Richard Huckle, dubbed “Britain’s worst ever paedophile” after being convicted of 71 cases of rape and other sexual offences against up to 200 children, is being sentenced at The Old Bailey in London in a hearing expected to last 3 days. Huckle is facing up to 22 life sentences once the hearing concludes.(Sky News)
Experiment ‘turns waste CO2 to stone’ –
Scientists think they have found a smart way to constrain carbon dioxide emissions – just turn them to stone. The researchers report an experiment in Iceland where they have pumped CO2 and water underground into volcanic rock. Reactions with the minerals in the deep basalts convert the carbon dioxide to a stable, immobile chalky solid. Even more encouraging, the team writes in Science magazine, is the speed at which this process occurs: on the order of months. “Of our 220 tonnes of injected CO2, 95% was converted to limestone in less than two years,” said lead author Juerg Matter from Southampton University, UK. “It was a huge surprise to all the scientists involved in the project, and we thought, ‘Wow! This is really fast’.” [BBC]
Papua New Guinea student protest leader Noel Anjo says demonstrations will continue despite the court order barring protests. “The students are not going to give up until and unless the prime ministerresigns or surrenders himself to police and is arrested and charged,” Anjo said. (BBC)(Reuters)
Venezuelan opposition lawmaker, Julio Borges, is left bloodied after being hit in the face with a pipe in downtown Caracas. He spoke at a press conference after the attack with blood streaming down from his nose and mouth, and bloody stains on his button-down shirt, accusing the attackers of being supporters of PresidentNicolás Maduro. (AP via ABC News)
California’sright to die law, that allows physicians to prescribe medicines to terminally ill patients to hasten their deaths, goes into effect. California is the fifth state in America where this practice is legal. Opponents sue to overturn the law as unconstitutional because it denies terminally ill patients protections afforded other citizens. (Los Angeles Times)
Election officials announce all ballots have been processed and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski wins the closest presidential contest in five decades with 50.1 percent of the votes versus 49.9% for Keiko Fujimori. Fujimori has yet to concede defeat. As many as 50,000 ballots still need to be reviewed, but experts say Fujimori can not make up the difference of roughly 40,000 votes separating her from Kuczynski.(BBC News)(ABC News)(AP)
Albania football win brings team diplomatic passports –
Albania says it will reward its national footballers with diplomatic passports for having beaten Romania 1-0 at the Euro 2016 tournament. The country has never played before in a major football competition. But it is not yet clear whether Albania will qualify for the next round in France. The team will get €1m (£770,000; $1.1m) in extra funding as well as the new passports, the government said. Albania lost their other two matches, coming third in their Euro 2016 group. Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama captured the nation’s excitement on Sunday by tweeting “Goooooooooool….” when Armando Sadiku headed the winning goal against Romania in the first half. The award of diplomatic passports is mainly symbolic, as many of the Albanian players are already with clubs elsewhere in Europe and Albanians enjoy visa-free travel to the EU. They will not enjoy diplomatic immunity, as that is reserved for official diplomats, but they will benefit from easier international travel. [BBC]
A 15-year-old Palestinian teen is shot and killed by Israel Defense Forces while traveling in his family’s car through an area where stones had been thrown that injured two tourists and an Israeli. The IDF says an official investigation has been opened. Preliminary results indicate Mahmoud Rafat Baderan, the teen who was shot, was not involved in any stone throwing on the highway. (Haaretz)
Los Angeles glass slide opens 1,000ft up skyscraper –
A glass slide fixed 1,000ft (305m) along the outside of a skyscraper in Los Angeles opens to the public on Saturday. The Skyslide spans 45 ft from the 70th to the 69th floor of the US Bank Tower in the city. Despite being made of glass just one inch thick, it is built to withstand hurricane-force winds and earthquakes. Tickets cost $25 (£18) each. It is part of the Skyspace renovation that also includes an observation deck. [BBC]
Video of the Day –
Greenpeace holds a historic performance with pianist Ludovico Einaudi on the Arctic Ocean
Five Indian paramilitary soldiers are killed and another 20 injured when suspected rebels ambush their convoy in the outskirts of Srinagar in the Indian portion of Kashmir. Two of the attackers are killed by return fire; the others escape. (AP via ABC News)
Two women and seven men of the Extra Young Ohangla band die and eight other band members survive after their boat sinks in Lake Victoria at Kenya’s Lihunda beach. The 15-member band was headed to Ndeda Island. (Kenya Star)(The Standard)
Venezuelan opposition leaders say they have now secured enough signatures on a petition to move to the next stage in a recall referendum of PresidentNicolás Maduro. The process must now be validated by electoral officials. (BBC)
Terror fiend tricked police to get death truck onto busy Nice promenade, kill 84 –
Cars and trucks were barred from the Promenade des Anglais during Thursday’s Bastille Day festivities, but the terrorist who plowed a 19-ton truck into a mile-long crowd of revelers – killing at least 84 – reportedly got past police by telling them he had ice cream to hand out. Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a 31-year-old divorced loner, petty criminal and Tunisian national began his route of carnage by slowly moving onto the packed, seaside walkway around 10:40 p.m. local time. Then, say witnesses, he gunned the engine and weaved through the horrified crowd for nearly a mile, leaving a wake of dead and broken bodies. Police killed him in a shootout minutes later. Bouhlel, who shot at revelers after driving through the crowd and was then killed by police, was reportedly known to police prior to the attack although his rap sheet included just one arrest, for a road rage incident in March French Justice Minister Jean-Jacques Urvoas said. [Fox News]
The French government calls on former European Commission chief José Manuel Barroso not to take a job with investment bank Goldman Sachs, after some EU politicians demanded Barroso be sanctioned for accepting the new position that raises questions about the EU’s conflict of interest rules. (BBC)
Rio Olympics 2016: Team GB beat China to finish second in medal table –
Great Britain have finished second in the medal table at the 2016 Olympics – above sporting powerhouse China. One of the event’s dominant nations, China have won more than 200 golds since returning to the Games in 1984. Britain ended the Rio Games with 27 golds from 15 sports, one ahead of China, as they finished with a total of 67 from 19 sports, beating the 65 at London 2012. Since the modern Olympic era began in 1896, no country has increased its medal tally at the summer Games immediately following one it hosted. GB have also smashed their pre-Games target of at least 48 medals, which was set by UK Sport. That means Rio 2016 is the nation’s most successful ‘away’ Games in history. China, with a population of 1.357bn to Britain’s 64.1m, have amassed more medals (70) than Team GB in Brazil, achieving notable success in table tennis, diving and weightlifting. However, GB are ahead on golds, which is what the rankings are based on. [BBC] See List of the day