Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Holocaust-denyer on his way to trial?

Richard Williamson, the Holocaust-denying bishop who had his excommunication lifted by the Pope has left Argentina after weeks of pressure. Last night he was seen boarding a British Airways flight in Buenos Aires, leaving for London.
At the airport he was followed by an Argentinean reporter and he shoved him into a pole with his shoulder as he hurried to catch the flight to London. With sunglasses and a black cab he more looked like an old rock, grumpy rock star than a respected bishop. See the images from the Argentinean television right here:
The Argentinean government issued a statement last week saying Williamson had ten days to leave Argentina voluntarily; otherwise he would be thrown out of the country. The reason was that – in the past – Williamson denied the holocaust ever took place, not more than 300.000 Jews have been killed during the Second World War and gas chambers could never have existed. Authorities in Buenos Aires added to their statement that they found Williamson’s “views on the Holocaust deeply offensive to Argentine society, the Jewish people and humanity."

Williamson is a traditionalist bishop who is a member of the ultra-conservative Society of St. Pius X. After the statement and under huge pressure, the Society of St Pius X sacked him as head of its seminary there. In Britain, Bishop Williamson could face an extradition attempt by prosecutors in Germany after he gave an interview there broadcast on Swedish television in which he said: "There were no gas chambers." You can find that interview

(,,, picture:

Monday, 23 February 2009

British dominate the Academy’s

“I want to thank the Academy” sounded awfully British throughout most of the 81st Academy Awards award ceremony, which have been held in Los Angeles last night. The event was broadcast live on America’s ABC, the UK’s Sky One and many other television stations around the world with an estimated audience of 1 billion. While it is officially an American price for a typical US industry, 3 out the four main categories went to British filmmakers. Best picture was named the UK production ‘Slum Dog Millionaire’, Reading born and London based Kate Winslet walked away with the ‘Best actress’ Oscar while Manchester resident Danny Boyle picked up the ‘Best director’ award for ‘Slum Dog Millionaire’, which was the overall winner and won in several other creative and artistic categories as well. Sean Penn was crowned ‘best actor’ of 2009 for his role in the gay activist drama ‘Milk’, Heath Ledger was named ‘best supporting actor’ and Penelope Cruz delivered herself an Oscar after a stunning performance in ‘Vicky Christina Barcelona’. It was remarkable how the Academy has chosen for the British talent and has made some other remarkable choices. Hollywood legends such as Meryl Streep, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie all went home empty-handed.

(picture, international edition, 23 Feb 2009)

Friday, 20 February 2009

Jaws is coming

Although the chances are incredibily slim you will ever be attacked by a shark, you can increase the possibility by heading to Volusia Country, Florida (US). The county is home to the sunny city of Daytona Beach and is the world’s number 1 city for shark attacks. 22 incidents were reported alone in 2008, according to ISAF, part of the University of Florida. To get rid of their notorious reputation and questionnable achievement the city adopted the slogan ‘You have a bigger chance to win the lotto than to be attacked by a shark, here with us!”. More than ten million people visit the Volusia County beaches every year.
The ISAF reported an overall global shark attack rate of 59 in 2008. Less than the previous year, when 71 people were attacked. The US Professor George Burgess thinks we should thank the credit crunch for less attacks: “There are less tourists and swimmers out there, because families have hardly any money for holidays. Less tourists mean less attacks.” According to the ISAF, four people died last year as a result of a shark attack: two in Mexico, one in Australia and one in the United States. Three of them were surfers. This is easy to explain: paddling surfers seen from below are often mistaken for a big turtle, which often serves as meal for two days for a shark.


Thursday, 19 February 2009

Shame on you, Russia

More than 30 months after the Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya was brutally murdered outside her Moscow flat, a Russian jury acquitted the three main suspects this morning.

The two brothers Bzhabrail and Ibragim Makhmudov and the former police officer Sergei Khadzhikurbanov heard this morning the jury had come to a “not guilty” verdict. They were suspected of aiding the murder of the investigative journalist. Rustam Makhmudov, who is the third brother of Bzhabrail and Ibragim, remains at large and he is thought to be the actual killer. Last summer there were unconfirmed reports he is hiding somewhere in Eastern Europe. Although Russian prosecutors said they would appeal against the verdicts delivered by the jury, hope the murder will ever be solved and justice will ever be done is fading away rapidly.

The most remarkable element of this case is that no one has been named or has been accused of ‘ordering the killing.’ Ms Politkovskaya was one of the few fierce critics of the Kremlin and (former) president Putin, who is currently the prime minister and still running the show behind the scenes. Politkovskaya worked for the small-circulation newspaper Novaya Gazeta and was shot just outside her apartment building in October 2006. The killing highlighted the risks for journalists to do their job properly in Russia. According to the American Committee to Protect Journalists Politkovskaya was the 13th journalist to have been killed in Russia under Putin’s presidency. Although her death shocked the international community and was widely reported in the west, it was hardly noticed by the Russian press or public.

Vsevolod Bogdanov, the chairman of the Russian Union of Journalists told Interfax news agency: “I am ashamed of my country. I have this feeling of incredible shame - at what level was the investigation conducted that the jurors delivered this verdict unanimously? The evidence was overwhelming."

(pictures, information: Novaya Gazeta,,

Monday, 16 February 2009

Blood drug can ‘erase painful memories’

Painful and traumatic experiences and memories can be erased by a high blood pressure drug, Dutch research revealed recently. Scientists discovered they can be altered during ‘reconsolidation’, or when the memories are recalled.

Medics and psychiatrists see new possibilities of treating people who were traumatised by terrorist attacks, natural disasters or wars. A trial involving human volunteers has given strong support to the theory. A team of Dutch scientists and researchers artificially created a fearful memory by giving 60 participants a light electric shock, delivered to the wrists, every time they saw a picture of a spider. 24 hours later the volunteers were shown the spider pictures again and they had a "startle" response - a measure of fear –which was assessed by testing eye blink reactions. Volunteers turned out to be much less disturbed by the spider pictures after they were shown the pictures. Since the spider fear seen in the initial experiment did not return to treated participants, the effect seems to be permanent. Administering the beta-blocker drug propranolol (normally used to treat high blood pressure) before reactivation of the fearful memory led to a marked reduction in the startle response.

The findings, reported in the journal Nature Neuroscience, raise the possibility of a new approach to tackling emotional problems and post-traumatic stress disorder. Professor Merel Kindt, the project’s leader at the University of Amsterdam, wrote: "Millions of people suffer from emotional disorders and the relapse of fear, even after successful treatment. Our findings may have important implications for the understanding and treatment of persistent and self-perpetuating memories in individuals suffering from emotional disorders."

(,,, Nature Neuroscience magazine)

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Russell’s brand close to expiring

Last night I headed over to the famous Brixton Academy in south-London to see the stand-up comedian Russell Brand’s new show Scandalous.

Although I have never been a big fan of the former MTV presenter, I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt when my sister gave me two tickets for the show and to enhance my impartial approach I invited my partner, who seems to like his style: “kind of like him, yeah”. So we gave it a go. Well, his performance in three words: what a disappointment.

The tour name ('Scandalous') said it all and it was immediately clear that the free publicity that Brand received after the Andrew Sachs/Jonathan Ross BBC Radio affair was going to be exploited, big time. The gig began with a compilation of damning news clips and the subject took up a good part of his one and-a-half hour show. Here it became clear that the man who thought it was funny to go to work on 12 September 2001 dressed as Osama Bin Laden is nothing more than a self-obsessed, obnoxious exhibitionist, telling the audience he ‘brought down the BBC’. Yeah, right.

Described by some as ‘an intelligent and witty stand-up comedian’, it was not what I saw. It was obvious that the Captain Jack Sparrow incarnate is very frustrated about his failed attempt to break-through in the US: the audience at the MTV Music awards was horrified by his controversial cheap jokes about Britney’s vagina and the Jonas Brother’s cock rings, in LA in September 2008. Even before the live awards show ended, it was clear his career in the States was over. And what did he have to say about it tonight here in SW9? ‘America just does not understand me. They are all losers, wankers, tossers, and bastards. I did not even want to be there, so I came straight back to England.’ Yeah, right. They just did not want you, Russell. On top of that he decided to make fun of America’s religious traditions and became even slightly racist when he made a certain remark about a black rapper colleague and described himself as an ‘English gentleman’.
While he was claiming that at least here in Brixton he is understood, I could not avoid the impression Brand was trying to compare this modest, regional music hall with seats for around a 1000 to a worldwide television audience consisting of millions and millions of viewers. It is clear Russell’s brand is fading away in unrealistic self glorifying attempts to remind ‘the Great British public’ how big he once was, and still is. He had one global shot and he blew it; millions detested his cheap taste and negative approach. Because that is perhaps the most typical thing about Brand; he is so incredibly negative. Everyone is a wanker, slut, cunt, liar or loser. Luckily, in his world, above everyone else, lonely at the top, there is the Holy Brand, Saint Russell: ‘I am great in bed’, ‘I am a genius’, ‘I am fucking good at that’, and ‘I do so many more crazy things than you every day.’ Please, give me a break. Where is the self criticism, the ability to poke fun at yourself? After a good hour I was dying for moment of weakness, a moment of russellita, a moment in which he admit he is also just a human being

That moment never came. Perhaps it is a pretty smart way to cover up what he has always secretly known deep inside; that the tousled-haired sex addict has no other talents than to swear and shout, poke fun at others and disrespect everyone and everything around him. Brand against the world. That explains why he is best known for his heroin, alcohol and sex addictions, raunchy routines and his frequent trouble with the law. Happenings he happily exploits to get maximum publicity. Hence, I am writing about him so it works. But it makes you wonder, where are his impressive books, legendary performances, stunning TV-shows? They simply do not exist. While I was watching him I came to realise that when he claimed the whole world did not understand his sense of humour, it illustrated perhaps just one thing; an attempt to cover up his complete lack of sense of humour. (pictures: BBC, Russell Brand's blogs,,

Monday, 9 February 2009

Australia burns

Australia suffers from the worst fires in the country's history. In the last three days more than 130 people have been killed and the fires destroyed complete villages in the southern state of Victoria.

The Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has accused arsonists of “mass murder” as the death toll from bushfires reached 131 yesterday. Horrific stories have emerged of people who got trapped in their cars and could not get away in time. Police squads continue to search for survivors, but they mainly find bodies in the remains of the 750 homes destroyed by the fire.

Marysville, a small town in the northeast of Victoria, was completely razed by a bushfire. It has been declared a crime scene as it is believed that the fire was deliberately lit. It is estimated around 750 homes have been destroyed and more than 300,000 hectares of land burnt. The authorities said some fires could take weeks or even a few months to contain.

For more pictures, visit


Friday, 6 February 2009

Useless facts

Working as a full time reporter and writer has made me a news addict. A natural appetite for facts, stories, conspiracy theories and events is a requirement for a successful completion of the job. Often, when I want a break from my writing or the heavy political stories, I visit How much useless information can you store at one website! It gives us the answers to so many questions we will never even think about.

Some examples:
Ernest Vincent Wright wrote a novel with over 50,000 words, none of which containing the letter "E".
No president of the United States was an only child.
Apples are more effective at keeping people awake in the morning than caffeine.
Ants never sleep.

No word in the the English dictionary rhymes with "MONTH".
The human brain is 80% water.
Until the nineteenth century, solid blocks of tea were used as money in Siberia.
Tourists visiting Iceland should know that tipping at a restaurant is considered an insult.
When glass breaks, the cracks move faster than 3,000 miles per hour.
During your lifetime, you'll eat about 60,000 pounds of food, that's the weight of about 6 elephants.
Dolphins sleep with one eye open.
Donald Duck comics were banned from Finland because he doesn't wear pants.

TYPEWRITER is the longest word that can be made using the letters only on one row of the keyboard.
Coca-Cola was originally green.
If you yelled for 8 years, 7 months and 6 days, you would have produced enough sound energy to heat one cup of coffee.
It is impossible to lick your elbow.
(, pictures: Walt Disney/Google search question mark)