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May 11, 2016

Grand National winning horse \’Comply or Die\’ dies, aged 17

Grand National winning horse ‘Comply or Die’ dies, aged 17

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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Comply or Die won the 2008 Grand National
Image: Dan Heap.

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Comply or Die, the racehorse who won the 2008 Grand National has died at the age of 17. His death was announced by his former trainer, David Pipe. He died over at the weekend in Gloucestershire, where he had been staying with jockey Timmy Murphy. He was cremated on Monday and his ashes will return to Murphy.

Murphy was the jockey in the saddle when Comply or Die won the 2008 Grand National. Speaking to the Press Association, he spoke about the horse’s death. He said, “He was part of the furniture at home so it’s very sad. He gave me the greatest day of my career, obviously that can never be taken away. He paraded at Cheltenham and Aintree and was getting ready to do some dressage in the summer. I’m not actually sure how he died, to be honest, but it wasn’t nice to come home to. He was cremated on Monday. He was a happy horse and he was also very clever.”

During his racing career he made £798,809 in prize-money after winning a total of eight races.

The 2008 Grand National victory was his greatest achievement and he almost matched it when he came second place in 2009. He retired in 2011 but remained active, often being paraded at race grounds such as Aintree and Cheltenham. He also participated in some hunting activities. Pipe said, “Since his retirement he had been a lead-horse at Timmy Murphy’s establishment before trying his hand at dressage, a discipline in which he had proven very successful”.

Tributes have been paid to Comply or Die on social media by horse racing fans with several tweeting their appreciation and memories.



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May 9, 2016

Political columnist apologises after mocking disabled broadcaster Andrew Marr

Political columnist apologises after mocking disabled broadcaster Andrew Marr

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Monday, May 9, 2016

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Quentin Letts photographed in 2009
Image: Steve Punter.

Quentin Letts, a political columnist and sketch writer has publicly apologized after he mocked disabled broadcaster Andrew Marr. Letts was reviewing former BBC business editor Robert Peston‘s new ITV television show for The Daily Mail when he made the comments. In his column he said that Marr, who suffered a stroke in 2013, was like “Captain-Hop-Along, growling away on BBC One, throwing his arm about like a tipsy conductor”.

Letts posted an apology on his Twitter page after a critical article by Roy Greenslade, which appeared in The Guardian. Greenslade said “I don’t want to come off all namby-pamby. I understand that no-one should be beyond criticism and that Letts was exercising his right to press freedom. But really Quentin, that was a graceless remark.”

The apology tweet read, “I fear my sketch reference to the admirable Marr today was horrid. Apologies to all concern and upset”. Letts also replied directly to Greenslade, who updated his article. Letts said “Perhaps I should have been more cautious but I hope that Andrew will forgive it. He has been equally teasing about himself in my company. I admire him”. He also added that he believes that Marr’s stroke had “made him more watchable than he was beforehand”.

Criticism also came from Marr’s wife and The Stroke Association. Eleven complaints were filed in relation to the comments to the Independent Press Standards Organisation according to a BBC statement.

Andrew Marr drew in 1.6 million viewers significantly more than Peston’s debut, with 166,000 viewers tuning in. Peston left the BBC to become ITV’s political editor in 2015.



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June 10, 2015

Boxing referee Frank Cappuccino dies aged 86

Boxing referee Frank Cappuccino dies aged 86

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

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Frank Cappuccino pictured in 2004
Image: Al Pepper.
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Long-time boxing referee Frank Cappuccino has died at the age of 86. Cappuccino, who died in Yardley, Pennsylvania on Monday, was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. He started his career in the 1950s and officiated on some of the most famous fights in boxing history; these included 94 world championship fights.

Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission executive director Greg Sirb paid tribute to Cappuccino. He said, in remarks to ESPN, “When he was in his prime, there is no doubt he was one of the top five referees in the world. […] When he was reffing, he was poetry in motion. He had as much respect from the fighters as any referee there is. I just think they liked his style. He was straightforward. When you got Frank Cappuccino assigned to your bout, you knew you made it.”

Some of the most notable fights that Cappuccino officiated over include Lennox Lewis vs. Shannon Briggs, Mike Tyson vs. Michael Spinks, and the 2002 fight-of-the-year between Mike Ward and Arturo Gatti. He himself belonged to both the Pennsylvania and New Jersey boxing halls of fame.

Cappuccino spoke openly about his friendship with notorious boxer Mike Tyson. He had said “I can’t say a bad thing about Mike Tyson[…] He’s always been very good to me.” Cappuccino was the referee during six of Tyson’s fights, including his 91-second victory over Michael Spinks in 1998.

He refereed his last fight in 2008 and was a boxing judge up until 2010. He is survived by his wife, Florence.



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March 31, 2015

Four found dead at flat in Gibraltar

Four found dead at flat in Gibraltar – Wikinews, the free news source

Four found dead at flat in Gibraltar

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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

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Gibraltar, seen from the air. From file.
Image: Steve.

The bodies of two adults and two children were found yesterday at a flat in Gibraltar in a possible murder-suicide. Two young girls, one aged four and the other only six weeks, were found stabbed alongside a British 31-year-old male and a Spanish 37-year-old female. Royal Gibraltar Police said despite opening up a crime investigation on the deaths they do not currently believe anyone else was involved.

Police said an apartment letting agency staff member notified them about the property where the bodies were discovered. Police responded to the flat, in the Boschetti’s Steps area, at around 11:35 local time. Police said “They got no answer from within but noticed that the house was locked from inside and that sent a few alarm bells ringing and they decided to call the police[…] At the moment what we are doing is trying to get as much background information from both the Spanish and the UK sides of the family.”

Police also said the family were not permanent residents in Gibraltar and had entered the British overseas territory only days ago. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said they too were looking into the incident.

According to the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, police sources believe the older girl is the woman’s daughter but not the man’s. Police confirmed “It is believed that all the deceased belong to the same family”. As relatives of the deceased are being sought, the names of the victims have not yet been released.

Fabian Picardo, the Gibraltar Chief Minister, spoke of his shock after hearing about the deaths. “As a husband and father, I — like no doubt all Gibraltarians and residents of Gibraltar — am in total shock to hear about this terrible crime[…] Gibraltarians are not accustomed to witness this type of incident in our peaceful and law abiding community. Words will fail us all at a moment like this and all we can do is keep the victims and their families in our thoughts.” Due to the incident he ordered parliament be adjourned until Wednesday.



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March 30, 2015

UEFA Euro 2016 qualification match abandoned after brawl in Montenegro

UEFA Euro 2016 qualification match abandoned after brawl in Montenegro

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Monday, March 30, 2015

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Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev, from file.
Image: Steindy.

The UEFA Euro 2016 qualification match between Montenegro and Russia on Friday was abandoned after players and coaching staff got involved in a brawl. The match, at Montenegrin capital Podgorica‘s Gradski Stadion, was suspended within the first minute after the Russian goalkeeper was hit with a flare. The match re-started after a delay but was called off around the 66th minute when a brawl started.

The flare, thrown from the crowd, hit 28-year-old Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev on the back of the head less than 30 seconds after the game had started. The game was suspended and play delayed for 35 minutes after the incident. Akinfeev was substituted with Yuri Lodygin coming on in his place. Akinfeev, who plays his domestic football for CSKA Moscow, suffered a neck injury and minor burns and was taken to a Podgorica hospital.

Disturbances caused a further 18-minute delay in starting the second half. Play resumed and Russia were awarded a penalty on the 66th minute. Roman Shirokov saw his penalty saved by Vukasin Poleksic and the score remained 0–0. In the moments after the penalty players and officials from both teams started a brawl on the pitch. The players were led off the pitch, and the crowd was told the game had been called off.

Montenegrin Football Association general secretary Momir Djurdjevac gave his reaction the the events. He said to Reuters, “These fans sing ‘Montenegro we love you’ but throw flares, insult rivals and cause all sorts of incidents every time they turn up and that’s outright hypocrisy[…] We have left the impression of barbarians and this is a complete disaster. It seems we don’t deserve to have a nation, a football team or a berth in a major tournament. As far as I am concerned the game should not have continued after the first-minute incident. We can only thank God that no one was seriously hurt”.

He also spoke about his fear of the repercussions it could have on Montenegro’s hopes to qualify for Euro 2016. He said “We will in all likelihood pay a hefty fine and say goodbye to a major tournament but what scares me is that this can happen again.”

Russia and Montenegro are competing in Group G of the qualification process. They are in the group along side Sweden, Austria, Moldova, and Liechtenstein.



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March 29, 2015

US Senator Harry Reid announces he will not seek re-election

US Senator Harry Reid announces he will not seek re-election

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

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Reid is the current Senate minority leader
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Harry Reid, Democratic Senator and current Senate Minority Leader, announced on Friday he will not run for re-election next year. Reid has represented the state of Nevada in the Senate since 1987. He has endorsed Senator Charles Schumer of New York to replace him as Democratic senate leader.

The announcement follows months of rumours regarding the senator’s retirement. Reid had denied that he would retire on numerous occasions, even after the rumours strengthened after he seriously injured himself exercising on January 1. The 75-year-old hurt ribs and an eye, suffering problems with his vision after the accident.

To the Los Angeles Times, Reid spoke about his endorsement of Charles Schumer to replace him. He said “Schumer, in 22 months, if he plays his cards right, should be able to do it[…] I told him if you need my help, you got it.” Another Senator talked about as a possible replacement is Dick Durbin, Senator from Illinois.

Reid made the announcement in a video. He said “The decision I made has absolutely nothing to do with my injury, and it has nothing to do with my being majority leader, and it certainly has nothing to do with my ability to be reelected, because the path to reelection is much easier than it probably has been any time that I’ve run for re-election”.

While Reid was giving a radio interview to Nevada Public Radio, President Barack Obama called in to pay tribute to the Senator. He said “Harry is unique and he’s got that curmudgeonly charm that is hard to replace. I’m going to miss him. But the good thing is that I’m going to leave this place at the same time.”

Reid is to serve the remaining 22 months of his term through the end of 2016. He served in the Senate from 1987, and before that in the House from 1983. He has held the position of Senate Democratic leader since 2005.



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March 26, 2015

Zayn Malik leaves pop band One Direction after five years

Zayn Malik leaves pop band One Direction after five years

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Malik pictured while performing with One Direction in 2012.
Image: Eva Rinaldi.

Zayn Malik, one of the members of British pop boy-band One Direction, has left the group after five years. The band confirmed yesterday that Malik has left the group with a statement on Facebook. They also announced they would continue with the remaining four members and their fifth album would be recorded later this year.

The statement posted on One Direction’s Facebook page said “After five incredible years Zayn Malik has decided to leave One Direction. Niall, Harry, Liam and Louis will continue as a four-piece and look forward to the forthcoming concerts of their world tour and recording their fifth album, due to be released later this year”.

Malik, 22, also released a statement through Facebook confirming his departure. He said “My life with One Direction has been more than I could ever have imagined. But, after five years, I feel like it is now the right time for me to leave the band. I’d like to apologise to the fans if I’ve let anyone down, but I have to do what feels right.”

After news of Malik’s departure spread fans took to social media to share their disappointment. On Twitter the hashtag #AlwaysInOurHeartsZaynMalik was created and 48,000 comments were left on the statement posted by the band on Facebook. The Employer Advice Service, based at Manchester company Peninsula, said 220 people had called overnight regarding compassionate leave relating to the news. Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, employment law director Alan Price said “While I sympathise with One Direction fans, I hardly think this qualified as compassionate leave”.

One Direction formed as a group in 2010 after competing as single artists on the British reality music competition The X Factor. The band was signed by Simon Cowell‘s record label after the show, which they finished third on. The remaining members of the group are Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson.



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March 25, 2015

British singer Lil\’ Chris found dead aged 24

British singer Lil’ Chris found dead aged 24

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

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Lil’ Chris, an English singer and television personality, died on Monday, police reported that day. The 24-year-old Chris Hardman was found dead at an address in Lowestoft, Suffolk. Suffolk Police said they were not treating it as a suspicious death. Hardman came to fame as Lil’ Chris after appearing on the Channel 4 reality television show Rock School.

Rock School in 2006 featured a student rock band that KISS frontman Gene Simmons created. Hardman was chosen to be the bands lead singer by Simmons. Speaking to The Daily Mirror, Simmons paid tribute to Hardman. He said “Lil Chris was a kind, little soul. I will greatly miss his smile and his spirit. I knew there was something special about him as soon as I met him”.

More tributes came from other celebrities. McFly band member Dougie Poynter paid tribute to Hardman on Instagram; he posted alongside a photograph of him, “So sad to hear about Lil Chris. He was such a genuinely sweet and funny guy, we had some awesome times. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends.” Boxer Anthony Ogogo praised him as a “super-talented kid”; Ogogo and Hardman both went to Kirkley High School.

Hardman’s most successful hit was Checkin’ It Out, his debut single in 2006, which made it to number three on the UK Singles Chart. He released his last album in 2008 but had recently announced plans of a musical comeback on Twitter.

Prior to his death Hardman had spoken about his battle with depression on Twitter. He once tweeted “Depression really sucks. Learning how to notice it can save lives and your own feelings at times. Take time to understand it, for everybody.” Since his death has been announced the suicide helpline charity The Samaritans have released a statement. They said “If anyone has been affected by this news, or is struggling to cope, we would like to let people know that Samaritans is here for them if they need to talk.”



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Germanwings Flight 9525 crashes into French Alps, 150 on board

Germanwings Flight 9525 crashes into French Alps, 150 on board

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

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D-AIPX taking off from Barcelona Airport in May 2014.
Image: Sebastian Mortier.

Germanwings Flight 9525, an Airbus A320 carrying 150 passengers and crew, crashed into the French Alps yesterday between Digne and Barcelonnette. Officials said there were no survivors. The plane was flying to Duesseldorf, Germany from Barcelona, Spain. An emergency recovery team made its way to the crash site and reportedly recovered one of the plane’s flight recorders.

According to French authorities, 144 passengers were aboard the plane, reportedly including sixteen school children who were travelling on a German exchange project. A further six crew were present, including the two pilots. The flight was predominately made up of Spanish and German citizens.

The pilots did not send a distress signal. Various officials described the crash as an accident; the White House stated terrorism is not believed to be a factor. The weather reportedly was clear when the crash occurred. The plane descended for eight minutes before impact falling, by various reports, more than 30,000 feet.

French President François Hollande said regarding the accident “I would like to send all our solidarity to the family of the victims[…] It’s a new air tragedy; we must know all the causes. We are in mourning because this accident happened on our territory”. He said he has been in contact with both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and King Felipe VI of Spain, the later of whom cancelled the remainder of his state visit to France.

According to French prosecutor Bruce Robin the plane was completely destroyed. He said “The body of the plane is in a state of destruction, there is not one intact piece of wing or fuselage”. He made the comments to Reuters news agency describing his view of the crash site from a helicopter.

Germanwings is owned by Lufthansa. CEO of Lufthansa Carsten Spohr said “We do not yet know what has happened to flight 4U 9525. My deepest sympathy goes to the families and friends of our passengers and crew on 4U 9525. If our fears are confirmed, this is a dark day for Lufthansa. We hope to find survivors.”

The plane, registered as D-AIPX, had been in service for nearly 25 years. It first flew on November 29, 1990 and had been last checked earlier this month.


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March 14, 2015

Ian Holloway sacked as manager of Millwall F.C.

Ian Holloway sacked as manager of Millwall F.C.

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Saturday, March 14, 2015

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Holloway pictured in 2010, while manager of Blackpool F.C..
Image: Brian Minkoff.

Ian Holloway has been sacked as manager of Millwall football club. His sacking, announced on Tuesday, has come after a 1–4 defeat to Norwich City F.C. on March 7. He had managed Millwall since January 2014. Former player Neil Harris has been placed in charge until season’s end.

An official statement was released by club chairman John Berylson. He said “This was a hard decision to take because we very much hoped that Ollie would prove to be the man to take us forward and on to the next level. I would like to thank him for his efforts, and in particular for keeping us in the Championship last May.” He added “Ian Holloway remains a fine manager and it was his impressive track record which led us to appoint him some 14 months ago. However, our view is that the decision to part company at this stage is in the best interests of the football club going forward.”

At the time of Holloway’s departure Millwall sat in 23rd position of the Football League Championship, the second tier of English football. They were eight points away from safety. Holloway, 51, was in charge of Millwall for 62 games; during his tenure they won only 14 times, losing 29 and drawing the remaining 19.

Former Millwall player Matt Lawrence spoke to BBC London 94.9 about Holloway’s sacking and offered his opinion. He said “I think everybody knew this was coming. Most people are surprised it has taken this long[…] The fans completely turned and the minute you lose the fans your time is up and it is time to move on.”



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