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March 3, 2015

Footballer Adam Johnson arrested on suspicion of sex with under-age girl

Footballer Adam Johnson arrested on suspicion of sex with under-age girl

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

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Johnson (right) playing for Manchester City in 2010.
Image: Roger Gorączniak.

English footballer Adam Johnson has been arrested on suspicion of having sex with a girl under the age of 16. Johnson, who currently plays for Sunderland A.F.C. , was arrested yesterday morning at his home. Durham Police confirmed they had arrested a “27-year-old man […] on suspicion of sexual activity with a girl under 16.”

A neighbour of Johnson’s spoke to The Sun newspaper about the arrest. They said “All the main activity was between 9.15am and 9.35am. Three undercover cars and a scenes of crime van arrived. As far as I know he lives there with his girlfriend”.

He was due to travel with his club to face Hull on Tuesday night in the English Premier League. However since the news of his arrest broke Sunderland AFC have released a statement confirming his suspension. The club said “Sunderland AFC has confirmed Adam Johnson has been suspended from the club, pending the outcome of a police investigation.”

Johnson has made 105 appearances for Sunderland having previously played for Middlesbrough, Leeds United, and Manchester City. He has represented England on 12 occasions and scored two goals for the national team. He last played for the England National Team in 2012.



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December 5, 2010

UK Parliament to vote on tuition fee rise on Thursday

UK Parliament to vote on tuition fee rise on Thursday

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Students protesting outside the UK parliament in November.
Image: BillyH.

The controversial plan to raise university tuition fees in England and Wales will be voted on in the House of Commons on Thursday, December 9. The policy has been the cause of protests across the United Kingdom by students, some of which have turned violent. It has also been a source of considerable criticism and political difficulties for the Liberal Democrats and has raised questions as to the long-term viability of the Coalition government.

The new policy on tuition fees will allow universities to double the current tuition fees from £3,290 per year to around £6,000 per year, as well as allowing some universities to get special approval from the Office For Fair Access (OFFA) to raise their fees to £9,000 per year. If passed, the new fee structure will apply starting in the academic year of 2012/2013. The vote on Thursday will only be on the fee rise, with other matters being voted on in the new year following publication of a new higher education white paper.

Vince Cable and Nick Clegg will likely vote for the changes, but how many Lib Dems will join them?
Image: Nick Clegg.

In addition to increasing fees, the policy will increase the payment threshold at which payment is made. It is currently set at £15,000 and will rise to £21,000, but the interest rate will also rise. It is currently 1.5% but will now vary from between 0% and 3% plus inflation (using the Retail Price Index).

The fee increase follows the publication of an independent review by Lord Browne, former chief executive of BP, a process started by Peter Mandelson, the former Business Secretary. Before the election, two main options were mooted for funding reform in higher education: either an increase in tuition fees or a graduate tax. The Browne Review endorsed the former and the findings of the Review form the basis of the government’s policy. The graduate tax was supported by the Liberal Democrats before the election, and in the Labour leadership elections it was supported by Ed Balls and the winner of the leadership election, Ed Milliband.

Conservative members of the Coalition intend to vote for the reform, and the Labour opposition have been vociferous critics of the rise in fees, despite the previous government’s introduction of top-up fees. The Liberal Democratic members of the Coalition have been left in a politically difficult position regarding the fee hike and have been target of much criticism from protesters. Liberal Democrats have opposed the rise in tuition fees: their party manifesto included a commitment to ending tuition fees within six years, and many signed a pledge organised by the National Union of Students to not vote for any increase in tuition fees.

The Coalition agreement allows Liberal Democrats to opt to abstain on votes for a number of policies including tuition fees. Many Liberal Democrats are expected to abstain, and a few MPs have stated that they will vote against it including former party leader Sir Menzies Campbell, and the recently elected party president Tim Farron, as well as a number of Liberal Democrat back-benchers. Liberal Democrat party leaders have said that they will act collectively, but the BBC have said senior Liberal Democrats have admitted in private that government whips will not be able to force all Liberal Democrats to vote for the policy.

On Tuesday, the Liberal Democrats parliamentary party will meet in the Commons to decide on their collective position. If all ministers decide to vote for the policy, it will probably pass, but if only cabinet ministers (and maybe parliamentary private secretaries) vote for the policy, there is considerable risk of it not passing. If the Coalition does not manage to get the policy through Parliament, it will fuel doubts about the continued effectiveness and viability of the government.

How deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and business secretary Vince Cable vote has been of considerable controversy. Although under the Coalition agreement, they are allowed to abstain, suggestions of doing so have prompted criticism. It was suggested last week that Cable may abstain even though as business secretary he is directly responsible for higher education policy, and has been heavily involved in designing the proposals. Cable has said that Liberal Democrat support of the tuition fee changes has allowed them to push it in a more “progressive” direction.

Cable has now decided that he will vote for the policy, and argues that the policy has “a lot of protection for students from low income backgrounds and graduates who have a low income or take time out for family”. He also believes “there’s common consensus that the system we’ve devised is a progressive one”.

“Dr Cable has performed so many U-turns over the issue of university funding that he is spinning on his heels,” said National Union of Students president Aaron Porter. “That may stand him in good stead with the Strictly Come Dancing judges but the electorate will see it differently.”

Former deputy PM John Prescott has joked about Vince Cable’s u-turns on Twitter.
Image: Steve Punter.

Former deputy prime minister John Prescott joked on Twitter that “On tuition fees we’ve noticed Vince Cable’s remarkable transformation in the last few weeks from stalling to Mr In Between”—a reference to a previous attack Prescott made on Gordon Brown as having transformed from “Stalin to Mr Bean“.

On Question Time this week, Liberal Democrat treasury secretary Danny Alexander also confirmed he is prepared to vote for the policy but delegated the question to the meeting of Liberal Democrats on Tuesday.

The politics of the tuition fee debate may also affect the by-election taking place in Oldham East and Saddleworth following the removal of Phil Woolas, where Liberal Democrat and Conservative candidates will both be standing for the first by-election following the formation of the Coalition government.

Opposition to the policy has become the focus for a large number of protests across the country by both current university students, many school pupils and political allies of the student movement.

On the Nov. 10 demonstration, protestors occupied Millbank tower.
Image: Charlie Owen.

On November 10, between 30,000 and 52,000 protesters from across Britain marched through central London in a demonstration organised by the National Union of Students and the University and College Union, which represents teachers and lecturers in further and higher education. At the November 10 protest, a number of people occupied Millbank Tower, an office block which houses the Conservative Party. Fifty people were arrested and fourteen were injured. NUS president Aaron Porter condemned the attack and said it was caused by “those who are here to cause trouble”, and that the actions of a “minority of idiots” shouldn’t “undermine 50,000 who came to make a peaceful protest”.

Following the November 10 march, other protests have taken place across the country including an occupation at the University of Manchester, a sit-in at the John Owens Building in Manchester, and a demonstration at the University of Cambridge. A protest was also run outside the offices of The Guardian where Nick Clegg—who was giving a lecture inside the building—was executed in effigy while students protested “Nick Clegg, shame on you, shame on you for turning blue” (blue is the colour of the Conservative Party).

A graffitied police van in Trafalgar Square at the November 24 demonstration.
Image: yllA.

On November 24, a large number of protests took place across the country including a mass walk-out from universities and schools organised on Facebook, numerous university occupations, and demonstrations in Manchester, Cambridge, Birmingham, Leeds, Brighton and Cardiff, and a well-publicised occupation of University College London.

In London, a protest was planned to march down Whitehall to Parliament, but police held protesters in Trafalgar Square until they eventually broke free and ran around in a game of “cat and mouse” along the side streets around Charing Cross Road, Covent Garden and Picadilly Circus.

Simon Hardy from the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts described the police response including the controversial ‘kettling’ of protesters as “absolutely outrageous”. Green MP Caroline Lucas raised the police response including the use of kettling in the House of Commons and stated that it was “neither proportionate, nor, indeed, effective”.

On November 30, protests continued in London culminating in 146 arrests of protesters in Trafalgar Square, and protests in Cardiff, Cambridge, Newcastle, Bath, Leeds, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Belfast, Brighton, Manchester and Bristol. Protesters in Sheffield attempted to invade and occupy Nick Clegg’s constituency office. Occupations of university buildings started or continued at University College London, Newcastle University, Cambridge University and Nottingham University, as well as council buildings in Oxford and Birmingham.

A “day of action” is being planned on December 8, the day before the Commons vote, by the National Union of Students.



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November 25, 2010

English jury returns mix of verdicts in policeman\’s serial rape trial

English jury returns mix of verdicts in policeman’s serial rape trial

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

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A jury in Newcastle Crown Court, northeast England has cleared a police officer of some charges in a trial over serial rapes and related offences, and convicted him of others. Northumbria Police‘s Police Constable Stephen Mitchell faced five counts of rape, six of indecent assault and 15 of misconduct in public office. He is guilty of two rapes, three indecent assaults and six counts of misconduct, with most of the sex charge convictions coming yesterday.

In all the case involved 16 women aged from 17 to 48, all of whom were arrested on drugs charges or shoplifting thefts between 1999 and 2006; the prosecution said Mitchell picked his victims based on vulnerability. The prosecution claimed Mitchell used blackmail to demand sex in exchange for favours; Mitchell described a conspiracy to frame him involving “…a very small-knit community in Newcastle city centre’s criminal fraternity.” Mitchell’s defence dismissed the claims as driven by one woman motivated by “self-preservation;” he refused to explain this further in open court.

It was alleged he told one woman who wanted a female officer present when searched said “I am the law. I can do anything. I don’t need a woman here,” and later attacked her in his patrol car. The woman had been arrested for possession of drugs and was 37.

Cquote1.svg He threw me over the settee, I couldn’t move with the handcuffs on, I was petrified. He said this is what you’ve wanted for a long time and he raped me. Cquote2.svg

—Alleged victim testifies

“Each [victim] was vulnerable, whether because of drug abuse, health problems, domestic circumstances or a combination of these factors. The defendant took advantage of their vulnerabilities, usually providing or offering favours, but then requesting, or in some cases requiring by force, sexual favours in return,” was how prosecutor Paul Sloan QC explained the circumstances early in the trial.

Testimony in October included that of one lesbian, now 32, who in June 1999 was interviewed by the officer in Newcastle’s Pilgrim Street police station, and claimed he groped her and “that was the beginning of hell for me”. She told the court from behind a screen how he undid his trousers, saying that in arranging for her to be bailed he had helped her and he expected this reciprocated. “I was gay and had never had sex with a male,” but she claimed she was grabbed by the hair and forced, with a warning her girlfriend would be contacted if she made allegations. She had been arrested for cheque fraud.

She said the next month she was arrested again and he made a similar demand. Her testimony stated that he blackmailed her for four years, receiving regular sex after driving her into the country, culminating in a 2003 handcuffed rape at her home. She told the court he gave her drug money, as well as a lighter and foil to take heroin, after discovering she was in rehab. She says she pretended to take the drug but disposed of it, leaving rehab and beginning to study in 2002 in the belief the man had been evaded.

However, “[my] world just crumbled before me” when he arrived at her door and stole her spare keys, she said. She claimed he regularly visited her Sunderland house when she was away and once left a knife embedded in her pillow. She testified her fear made her sleep beneath her bed. Her testimony stated the policeman used what he said was video evidence of her committing fraud at a Post Office and in 2003 said he was going to hand the tape over.

She said when he arrived “[h]e was furious, he said I had disrespected him by not being in touch. I was trying to calm him down but he handcuffed me and said he was arresting me for fraud at the post office. He threw me over the settee, I couldn’t move with the handcuffs on, I was petrified. He said this is what you’ve wanted for a long time and he raped me.” She moved to Durham shortly after.

Detective Constable Cath Easton of Northumbria Police’s Professional Standards Unit said she visited one woman in June last year during the investigation. Although stating she had no problems with police treatment, Easton testified the woman called the following day. “She was crying, she was hysterical,” Easton told the court.

Cquote1.svg these people will grab any opportunity they can. They are lying Cquote2.svg

—Mitchell describes the women

“It took her a while to get her words out, but she was saying ‘how do I know I can trust you? How do I know he has not sent you to test us?’ She was frightened and she told us she was frightened. She was in a real state… She was absolutely terrified that he knew I had contacted her.”

The alleged victim was assured the investigation was genuine and later called again, claiming Mitchell forced her to perform a sex act following the former heroin addict’s arrest six years previously. Another woman told the court Mitchell raped her whilst in uniform in the woman’s flat, hands cuffed behind her, and blackmailed her for years demanding sexual favours.

One woman, 25 at the time, said while in Newcastle’s Pilgrim Street police station following her arrest for a minor offence she was grabbed and kissed by the policeman. “He put his hands on my shoulders and kissed me, it was a passionate kiss. The door was open and I was shocked, anyone could have walked past or seen him or anything.” She told the court this occurred in the fingerprint room.

“After I was photographed he told me he was finishing his shift, which I took to be a hint,” the witness, another former heroin addict who said she was drunk at the time, continued. “Then when I came out of the station PC Mitchell pulled up in a car and offered to take me home, it seemed the safest way of getting home was with a police officer.” She had no complaint about him during the journey but said she resisted another kiss upon arrival at her house.

The woman, who says she has not used drugs for nine years, stated that he arrived at her house the following day and gave her a second lift. “He said he had a wife and kids but that he would like to see me again. Obviously it was never going to happen but he was saying he wanted some kind of relationship where he was seeing me on a regular basis, I would imagine for sex or something like that. He said we would have to be discreet because he had a wife but I was not interested and eventually he accepted my ‘no’.”

Cquote1.svg What it means is: ‘Resign and this will go away’. Cquote2.svg

—The defence makes accusations against the officer in charge of probing Mitchell

She said he gave her money, suggested they get a private room and was “very persuasive”. Her mother also gave evidence to say Mitchell had called her to discuss the daughter’s drug-addict boyfriend. “You want to stop her going with him, he’s trouble, he’s a bad lad,” she claimed Mitchell said, adding her daughter told her the officer “was pestering her, she said he wanted to take her out.” The boyfriend also gave evidence, saying he had known the officer during former heroin addiction and giving a description of him.

One young mother met Mitchell when released from prison in 2001 after a theft sentence. Days later, he had given her heroin and felt she “owed him” according to testimony, receiving sex in return. She failed to attend Gateshead Magistrates’ Court in December the following year and he arrested her, she told the court. She wept, claiming he raped her in his vehicle. “I could not get out of the car, the doors were locked,” she told the trial.

“He said he wanted to have sex and that it would be the last time. I was shouting for him to let me out of the car, just screaming and shouting at him to let me go. He said if I told anybody, nobody would believe me because I was just a dirty junkie and I would never get my children back,” she said, describing him telling her he would plant drugs at her home and prevent access to her children if she made claims against him.

In November a woman in her fifties, who has four children and was 48 during her alleged attack, testified Mitchell raped her in a room used for reading reports at Pilgrim Street following her July 2006 theft arrest. “No one’s going to believe a thief,” he is claimed to have told her. “I said if you just let me go I’m not going to say anything; I’m not going to tell anyone. No one will ever know this has happened. I just wanted to be away.” She says she explained she was ill and taking cancer medication although “he did not seem bothered.”

Outside the police station following the alleged attack, “…there was two young lasses coming along. I will always remember one had a red Berghaus coat on. They seemed to know PC Mitchell and he did not seem to know whether to stay with me or talk to them and I just walked straight across the road. I was in total shock. I got on the bus home and I was trying to keep from crying and I had a pain in my throat.”

She said her life had been severely affected; “I was always thinking about it and crying for no reason. I just used to burst into tears for no reason and I’m not a crying person. I’m normally bubbly and happy and I really just let myself go. I never ever went with my partner again and from that day to this I have never slept with another man.” She triggered the probe that resulted in Mitchell’s prosecution by reporting him when, she says, he began arriving at her house.

She told Sloan she had not immediately contacted police because “I thought no-one would believe me. I was a shoplifter and he was a police officer. I still would never have been here to this day if he had not kept coming back to the house. If he had not done that it would have been a secret till the day I died.”

Mitchell, who has been a policeman since leaving the military in 1991, stated in the dock this month that the women had discussed their “host of rumours” amongst themselves and they were similar for this reason. “I think it has been demonstrated that people have been talking about this on a number of occasions… I know these people are not always truthful.” “But you are?” responded prosecution QC Paul Sloan. “Yes, these people will grab any opportunity they can,” according to the officer. “They are lying,” he later added.

Cquote1.svg He said if I told anybody, nobody would believe me because I was just a dirty junkie and I would never get my children back Cquote2.svg

—Testimony at trial

In an attempt to disprove this defence the prosecution produced a sex tape in which Mitchell uses similar phrases to his partner as the women alleged he had said to them. “So it just so happens the words used are exactly the words you used in the video?” Sloan inquired. PC Mitchell desribed this as coincidence and rejected claims he had used such words to any of the women. He also said supplying heroin to one addict was far too risky for him; “I know police monitor drug dealers’ homes and it would be a massive risk to take my vehicle to the address of a drug dealer. I don’t want people to be on drugs. If I could help them I would.”

Mitchell, 42, divorced in 2005, admitted meeting a woman he had met on duty for sex in 2006, having admitted the same at an internal misconduct hearing in September 2007. He told the court that if interviewing woman it was in his interests as an officer to be friendly, but insisted this was all.

Defended by Toby Hedworth QC, Mitchell said his father’s murder meant he could not possibly have committed one rape in Burdon, near Sunderland, on August 31, 2001 as he had returned to his original home city of Glasgow following his father’s murder. He was accused of raping the woman in a parked car in a field.

“Have you ever been with her in the fields in the Burdon area of Sunderland?” asked Hedworth. “No, I haven’t. My dad was attacked on July 30, 2001 by somebody and subsequently died on August 10, 2001.” Hedworth: “Had your father in fact been murdered?” Mitchell: “Yes. And from the 9th to the 16th of August I was in Glasgow,” he explained. Hedworth took him through denials of every charge, which he said there was “no truth whatsoever” in.

The defence also produced a recording secretly recorded by Mitchell with Detective Chief Inspector Chris Sharman, who headed the rape investigation. Hedworth told the court Mitchell is warned on the tape, made in March, that if he is charged he would “probably be front page of the national newspapers and they are horrible” but the team would “stop digging” if he stepped down.

Hedworth likened the offer to a Monopoly “get out of jail free card” and claimed despite a warning his client was “running the risk of going to jail and going on the sex offender register”, Mitchell chose to fight the allegations – a fact which demonstrated innocence. “What it means is: ‘Resign and this will go away’.” The prosecution denied Northumbria Police were seeking to offer their colleague an alternative to investigation, stating the allegation – made during Hedworth’s closing speech – was untrue and the recording did not indicate an offer to drop the probe.

The jury began deliberations on Wednesday. After three days, on Friday they cleared Mitchell of three rapes, two indecent assaults and two counts of misconduct in a public office. Following this, trial judge Mr Justice Wilkie said he would accept majority verdicts on the remaining charges, instead of unanimous verdicts. The jury departed for the weekend, returning on Tuesday to convict him of six misconduct charges and clear him of the same number; another indecent assault charge also produced an acquital.

Yesterday, the verdicts were delivered on the remaining charges. The remaining seven misconduct charges were acquitals, as did the other indecent assaults. Two charges of rape and three of indecent assault produced guilty verdicts.

At least one of the misconduct charges he was convicted of was unrelated to indecent assault or rape; it concerned a drug-addicted woman caught with non-prescriped diazepam (valium) when her friend was arrested for shoplifting in 2003. Her testimony was that he stroked her leg and tried to kiss her in Pilgrim Street, returned the drugs upon her release, obtained her number and met her several times to give her drugs. She says although he asked to go at night to a hotel she refused, and ultimately she began ignoring his calls while he ceased supplying drugs.

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  • “English policeman accused of being serial rapist” — Wikinews, January 22, 2010

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July 14, 2010

Facebook and UK government clash over tributes to killer

Facebook and UK government clash over tributes to killer

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

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Social networking site Facebook was tonight refusing to remove pages set up in tribute to British killer Raoul Moat, despite pressure from the highest levels of the UK government. A Downing Street official had earlier said that a complaint would likely be lodged with Facebook, following questions to Prime Minister David Cameron in Parliament.

Raoul Moat killed one person and seriously wounded two others in Northumbria following his release from prison, prompting a major week-long manhunt. A standoff with police ended early on Saturday morning with Moat shooting himself. An investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission is ongoing.

Thirteen people have now been arrested, with several under suspicion of assisting Moat in evading the police. Flowers have been left on the riverbank where Moat shot himself, and outside his home in Newcastle. A tribute page on Facebook titled “RIP Raoul Moat You Legend” has attracted over 30,000 members.

During the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions session, Conservative MP Chris Heaton-Harris asked David Cameron to contact Facebook about removing the page, which he described as containing “a whole host of anti-police statements”.

The Prime Minister described Moat as a “callous murderer”, and condemned the expressions of sympathy for him.

“I cannot understand any wave, however small, of public sympathy for this man,” stated Cameron. “There should be sympathy for his victims and the havoc he wreaked in that community. There should be no sympathy for him.”

A spokesman for the Prime Minister later said that Facebook would be contacted over the matter. In response Facebook issued a statement saying that the page did not breach its terms of service and would not be removed.

“Facebook is a place where people can express their views and discuss things in an open way as they can and do in many other places, and as such we sometimes find people discussing topics others may find distasteful, however that is not a reason in itself to stop a debate from happening.”



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“UK police involved in stand-off with gunman Raoul Moat” — Wikinews, July 9, 2010

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December 13, 2009

Joe McElderry wins UK X Factor final

Joe McElderry wins UK X Factor final – Wikinews, the free news source

Joe McElderry wins UK X Factor final

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

XFactorTitles.jpg

Joe McElderry has won the sixth series of the UK X Factor, in a hotly contested final with Olly Murs, after the third finalist, Stacey Solomon was voted off last night. McElderry was the favourite earlier this evening with odds of 2/9 from both Ladbrokes and William Hill, compared to 3/1 odds for Murs. Joe’s family had clubbed together to bet on his winning the show, even before the first live show was aired, at odds of 14/1. They are expected to receive approximately £14,000.

On Saturday night, McElderry sung Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me with George Michael, who said that Joe “rose to the occasion…I think he’s got a great future.” He also received a video message from Kylie Minogue after his performance, in which she said “I’m sending you lots of love and kisses. Have fun.” McElderry is from South Shields, Newcastle and born in 1991, began singing at 14. He auditioned for The X Factor in 2007, but felt too young when compared to the other contestants. Together with Lloyd Daniels and Rikki Loney he was mentored by Cheryl Cole, one of the four X Factor judges.

Cheryl Cole, Joe McElderry’s mentor, performing with Girls Aloud in 2007.
Image: Duncharris.

The weekend’s prime time shows are expected to have had more than 18 million viewers, with one analyst estimating £100m of revenue going to ITV from the autumn show. ITV also hope that it will aid in turning around their declining revenue.

As is tradition, McElderry will release a single next week in an attempt to gain the Christmas Number 1 chart spot. In recent years, the X Factor single has always gained that accolade.



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September 22, 2009

Memorial service held for Sir Bobby Robson in Durham Cathedral, England

Memorial service held for Sir Bobby Robson in Durham Cathedral, England

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

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A memorial service was held in the Durham Cathedral in England to honour the late soccer manager Sir Bobby Robson.

Sir Bobby Robson in 2007
Image: rockface.

Sir Bobby Robson was born on February 18, 1933 and had died on July 31, 2009, aged 76 after a fifth, long battle with lung cancer. A memorial service was held on Monday to honour the late world-famous former football manager of Manchester United F.C. in County Durham, in the north of England. The service was broadcast live on Sky News and on Sky News Online. Football fans were also able to watch the ceremony on giant screens in St James’ Park in Newcastle and in Ipswich town centre.

The congregation at the service was very large. It was attended by such famous people as Terry Venables, Sir Alex Ferguson, Paul Gascoigne, Gary Lineker, Katherine Jenkins, David Moyes, Harry Redknapp, Steve Bruce, Mick McCarthy, Ant & Dec, and a whole host of other celebrities. Gary Lineker paid tribute to Robson, and said: “He made me feel 7ft tall. When he first called me up for England, I was nervous arriving at the hotel in Wrexham for a game against Wales, meeting up with stars I idolised like Bryan Robson, but Bobby was waiting for me in reception. He’d seen something in my game I wasn’t even aware of myself. He put me on the bench to face Wales but did bring me down to earth somewhat when he pointed at me with about 20 minutes to go and said: ‘Get warmed up, Garth’.”

Cquote1.svg “Sir Bobby was … without question the single most enthusiastic and passionate man I’ve ever met in football.” Cquote2.svg

—Gary Lineker

Lineker also added: “Two World Cup campaigns and a European Championship over a six-year period was easily enough time for me to realise that Sir Bobby was indeed not just a brilliant leader of men, who brought the absolute best out of his players, but also without question the single most enthusiastic and passionate man I’ve ever met in football. From Ronaldo to Robson, from Gascoigne to Given, from Shilton to Shearer and from Wark to Waddle, the gaffer was hugely supportive and fiercely loyal. In return the players loved him and respected him. He was everything that was good about the game. He loved the game and the game loved him. He was a lion of a man – no, make that Three Lions,” he said, referring to the nickname for the England national football club.

Robson’s best man, Tom Wilson, said: “He had innate charm and a ready smile, but was modest all his life, even somewhat shy – though he had largely overcome that in later life. He was always passionate about football, had a deep love of his family and great loyalty to his old friends, with a touching and justifiable pride in his beautiful home up here in his beloved North-East. Friends have said to me you should never finish a eulogy with a cliche, such as ‘we will never see his like again’. But we won’t.”

Bobby Robson played for five football clubs, one of them the England international football team. He also managed nine football teams across Europe. He had been survived by his wife Lady Elsie since their marriage in June 1955, and also survived by his three children Paul, Andrew and Mark. His family had held a private funeral service for him in August.



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January 29, 2009

Dairy cattle with names produce more milk, according to new study

Dairy cattle with names produce more milk, according to new study

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Brown Swiss is the breed of dairy cattle that produces the second largest quantity of milk per annum, over 9000kg

Giving a cow a name and treating her as an individual with “more personal touch” can increase milk production, so says a scientific research published in the online “Anthrozoos,” which is described as a “multidisciplinary journal of the interactions of people and animals”.

The Newcastle University’s School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development’s (of the Newcastle University Faculty of Science, Agriculture and Engineering) researchers have found that farmers who named their dairy cattle Ermintrude, Daisy, La vache qui rit, Buttercup, Betsy, or Gertrude, improved their overall milk yield by almost 500 pints (284 liters) annually. It means therefore, an average-sized dairy farm’s production increases by an extra 6,800 gallons a year.

“Just as people respond better to the personal touch, cows also feel happier and more relaxed if they are given a bit more one-to-one attention,” said Dr Catherine Douglas, lead researcher of the university’s School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development. “By placing more importance on the individual, such as calling a cow by her name or interacting with the animal more as it grows up, we can not only improve the animal’s welfare and her perception of humans, but also increase milk production,” she added.

Drs Douglas and Peter Rowlinson have submitted the paper’s conclusion: “What our study shows is what many good, caring farmers have long since believed. Our data suggests that, on the whole, UK dairy farmers regard their cows as intelligent beings capable of experiencing a range of emotions.” The scientific paper also finds that “if cows are slightly fearful of humans, they could produce [the hormone] cortisol, which suppresses milk production,” Douglas noted. “Farmers who have named their cows, probably have a better relationship with them. They’re less fearful, more relaxed and less stressed, so that could have an effect on milk yield,” she added.

South Norfolk goldtop-milk producer Su Mahon, one of the country’s top breeder of Jersey dairy herds, agreed with Newcastle’s findings. “We treat all our cows like one of the family and maybe that’s why we produce more milk,” said Mrs Mahon. “The Jersey has got a mind of its own and is very intelligent. We had a cow called Florence who opened all the gates and we had to get the welder to put catches on to stop her. One of our customers asked me the other day: ‘Do your cows really know their names?’ I said: I really haven’t a clue. We always call them by their names – Florence or whatever. But whether they really do, goodness knows,” she added.

King’s Walk, giving access to the Newcastle University Union Society (left) and the arches of the Fine Art Building, leading into the Quadrangle.

The researchers’ comparative study of production from the country’s National Milk Records reveals that “dairy farmers who reported calling their cows by name got 2,105 gallons (7,938 liters) out of their cows, compared with 2,029 gallons (7,680 liters) per 10-month lactation cycle, and regardless of the farm size or how much the cows were fed. (Some 46 percent of the farmers named their cows.)”

The Newcastle University team which has interviewed 516 UK dairy farmers, has discovered that almost half – 48% – called the cows by name, thereby cutting stress levels and reported a higher milk yield, than the 54% that did not give their cattle names and treated as just one of a herd. The study also reveals cows were made more docile while being milked.

“We love our cows here at Eachwick, and every one of them has a name,” said Dennis Gibb, with his brother Richard who co-owns Eachwick Red House Farm outside of Newcastle. “Collectively, we refer to them as ‘our ladies,’ but we know every one of them and each one has her own personality. They aren’t just our livelihood, they’re part of the family,” Gibb explained.

“My brother-in-law Bobby milks the cows and nearly all of them have their own name, which is quite something when there are about 200 of them. He would be quite happy to talk about every one of them. I think this research is great but I am not at all surprised by it. When you are working with cows on a daily basis you do get to know them individually and give then names.” Jackie Maxwell noted. Jackie and her husband Neill jointly operate the award-winning Doddington Dairy at Wooler, Doddington, Northumberland, which makes organic ice cream and cheeses with milk from its own Friesian cows.

But Marcia Endres, a University of Minnesota associate professor of dairy science, has criticized the Newcastle finding. “Individual care is important and could make a difference in health and productivity. But I would not necessarily say that just giving cows a name would be a foolproof indicator of better care,” she noted. According to a 2007 The Scientist article, named or otherwise, dairy cattle make six times more milk today than they did in the 1990s. “One reason is growth hormone that many U.S. farmers now inject their cows with to increase their milk output; another is milking practices that extend farther into cows’ pregnancies, according to the article; selective breeding also makes for lots of lactation,” it states.

Critics claimed the research was flawed and confused a correlation with causation. “Basically they asked farmers how to get more milk and whatever half the farmers said was the conclusion,” said Hank Campbell, author of Scientific Blogging. In 1996, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs provided for a complex new cattle passport system where farmers were issued with passport identities. The first calf born under the new regime were given names like “UK121216100001.”

Jersey cattle being judged at the Agricultural West Show, in St. Peter, Jersey, home of the breed.

Dr Douglas, however, counters that England doesn’t permit dairy cattle to be injected hormones. The European Union and Canada have banned recombinant bovine growth hormone (rGBH), which increases mastitis infection, requiring antibiotics treatment of infected animals. According to the Center for Food Safety, rGBH-treated cows also have higher levels of the hormone insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1), which may be associated with cancer.

In August 2008, Live Science published a study which revealed that cows have strange sixth sense of magnetic direction and are not as prone to cow-tipping. It cited a study of Google Earth satellite images which shows that “herds of cattle tend to face in the north-south direction of Earth’s magnetic lines while grazing or resting.”

Newcastle University is a research intensive university in Newcastle upon Tyne in the north-east of England. It was established as a School of Medicine and Surgery in 1834 and became the “University of Newcastle upon Tyne” by an Act of Parliament in August 1963.

The School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development is a school of the Newcastle University Faculty of Science, Agriculture and Engineering, a faculty of Newcastle University. It was established in the city of Newcastle upon Tyne as the College of Physical Science in 1871 for the teaching of physical sciences, and was part of Durham University. It existed until 1937 when it joined the College of Medicine to form King’s College, Durham.



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November 9, 2007

Meat Loaf calls off European tour

Meat Loaf calls off European tour – Wikinews, the free news source

Meat Loaf calls off European tour

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Friday, November 9, 2007

Meat Loaf in concert in New York, 2004.
Image: Mr.Mushnik.

American musician Meat Loaf has canceled the remaining dates of his 2007 European tour on Tuesday. This decision was announced less than a week after the performer prematurely ended a concert in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Earlier reports attributed Meat Loaf’s medical problems at Newcastle to a sore throat. This week’s announcements indicate that the rocker sustained a vocal cord cyst that requires weeks of treatment and possibly surgery.

Despite Meat Loaf’s indication at the Newcastle concert that his career might have ended, a most recent statement on his fan site declared that he would be “coming back strong in 2008” with hopes of new concerts following treatment.



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  • “Singer Meat Loaf falls ill during concert” — Wikinews, November 1, 2007

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November 1, 2007

Singer Meat Loaf falls ill during concert

Singer Meat Loaf falls ill during concert

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Thursday, November 1, 2007

Meat Loaf in concert in New York, 2004.
Image: Mr.Mushnik.

Wikinews has learned that American rock singer Meat Loaf has taken ill during a concert in Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. He told the audience that it was “the last concert of his life,” and left the stage.

The incident came 70 minutes into the show on Halloween night. During the opening of Paradise by the Dashboard Light he suggested that the crowd of thousands should enjoy the performance as it was the last of his career. He attempted to sing the first line of the song, but instead said “Ladies and gentlemen, I love you, and I thank you for coming, but I can no longer continue. Good night, God bless you. I love you. Thank you for 30 years. I’m taking my coat off; I bow; and I say goodbye forever.” He then left the stage, soon followed by his band.

The venue, Metro Radio Arena, have announced that the singer had a sore throat. However, they also say that fans are unlikely to be refunded the cost of their tickets, priced at between £37.50 and £45, because he had performed for over an hour.



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September 14, 2007

UK bank gets emergency support

UK bank gets emergency support – Wikinews, the free news source

UK bank gets emergency support

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Customers queue outside the branch in Golders Green, London. Photo: Alex Gunningham

British bank Northern Rock received emergency loans from the Bank of England yesterday, as it felt the effects of the financial crisis originating in the U.S. subprime mortgage market. Queues formed outside branches as many customers sought to withdraw their savings, and shares fell heavily.

Northern Rock, based in Newcastle, is one of the UK’s largest mortgage lenders, with total assets and loans of £113 billion. Pressure has grown on the bank as other institutions have become less willing to buy mortgage debt, following the American subprime crisis.

The support from the central bank was authorised by the Government and the Financial Services Authority, following assurances that the problems were temporary and the bank remained solvent. Some current mortgages are being used as collateral. The lending is an “unlimited” facility, at an interest rate higher than the base rate. Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling, speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, encouraged customers to carry on as normal, stating that “Northern Rock will be able to carry on its business”.

Northern Rock chief executive Adam Applegarth also called for calm, but customers were seen queuing outside branches across the country to withdraw money. It is reported that the company website also crashed under the demand.

Shares in the bank fell 31.5% on Friday, down almost 60% from their highest value this year. Applegarth admitted that profits would be hit, but stated that the bank would adapt to the changes. Shares in other lenders also fell, with Paragon being the most extreme, dropping almost 17%. The FTSE 100 closed down 1.17% (74 points) following a recovery in the afternoon.

The last time the Bank of England acted as “lender of last resort” in this way was in 1973, after the collapse of Cedar Holdings.



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