WITH its leafy streets lined with charming brownstones, Park Slope is one of New York’s most desirable neighbourhoods. The name comes from the neighbourhood’s location on the western slope of Prospect Park – Brooklyn’s green oasis.
In the family-friendly Park Slope, also nicknamed “Stroller City”, yummy mummies brush shoulders with actors, directors and authors. Tom Hanks has a house here, as does Steve Buscemi and celebrity couple Maggie Gyllenhall and Peter Sarsgaard. Vintage shops, restaurants serving locally-sourced food and fair-trade coffee, community gardens and farmers’ markets cater to the well-to-do residents’ every need and PC preoccupation.
At the heart of the neighbourhood is the Park Slope Coop, a members’ only supermarket selling organic fruit and veg, artisan cheeses, supplements and vitamins, environmentally-friendly cleaning material and more. The coop has over 15,000 members, most of whom work at the shop once a month in exchange for discounts on groceries – and the buzz they get from feeling morally superior to their fast-food chomping peers.
DID Janaka Basnayake, 24, break the world record for being buried alive? We may never know. Firstly, there is no official record. Secondly, Lord Lucan has yet to appear for his hiding place. And lastly, we do not know the precise moment when Mr Basnayake died under the ground in Kantale, Sri Lanka.
Also, it is only alleged that Mr Janaka Basnayake buried in 10foot-deep trench sealed with wood and soil. It is only alleged that his family and friends helped him, er, live his dream.
PRINCE Harry has made it to the Bahamas. There he was presented with a portrait of himself. It wasn’t a caricature done by a precinct Picasso in black ink, with Harry smoking a massive refer, scarfing a rum punch and squiring a lovely bevy of lovelies. No, no. Wait for the photos. This is a neat portrait of Harry looking demure, as befits his role as one of the patriotic flag bearers for this year of Great British greatness. 2012 is the year of the Great British London Olympics and the Great British Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Lucky old Harry gets to escape the place for a while and build up his tolerances before the real pomp begins…
Prince Harry visits the Mayan temple at Xunantunich , Belize, on the second day of his 10 day tour to Belize, Bahamas, Jamaica, and Brazil. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday March 3, 2012. See PA story ROYAL Harry. Photo credit should read: Mark Large/Daily Mail /PA Wire
THE father of Baby Peter Connolly – for now and for ever the tabloids’ Baby P – has been awarded £75,000 against the publishers of The People. The newspaper said he was a child rapist who had attacked a 14-year-old girl.
The paper was wrong.
Mr Justice Bean said it was “difficult to think of any charge more calculated to lead to the revulsion and condemnation of a person’s fellow citizens than the rape of a 14-year-old girl”.
“The Scottish government had no interest whatsoever in Mr Al-Megrahi’s appeal being abandoned. I had no involvement in Mr Al-Megrahi’s decision to drop his appeal against conviction — that was entirely a matter for him and his legal team… Scottish government officials were present throughout my meeting with Mr al-Obeidi [Libyan government minister]. At no time did I or any other member of the Scottish government suggest to Mr al-Obeidi, to anyone connected with the Libyan government, or indeed to Mr al-Megrahi himself, that abandoning his appeal against conviction would in any way aid or affect his application for compassionate release.”
Prosecutors said the bomb which destroyed Pan-Am Flight 103 was in a suitcase loaded on the island. Previously secret documents, seen by BBC Scotland, detail the explanations of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, 59, for his presence on Malta….[The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission's] 821-page report has never been published, but it has now been seen by BBC Scotland.
“As a Libyan Arab Airlines employee and as someone well known, both at Tripoli airport and at the airport in Malta,” he told the lawyers, “I could get away with not using a passport or an identification card at all, but simply by wearing my Libyan Arab Airlines uniform.
“This may sound ridiculous but it is true. If I wanted to do something clandestine in such a way that there would be absolutely no record at all of me going from Tripoli to Malta and back again, I could do it.”
A Maltese shopkeeper, Tony Gauci, identified Megrahi as the man to whom he sold clothes which were later found in a suitcase which had contained the bomb.
The SCCRC document says:
He told them he could not have sex with his wife.
“It was possible therefore that the reason for his visit to Malta on 20 December was to meet a woman for this purpose,” the SCCRC report said. “The woman in question was the same one that he had suggested he might have met during his visit to Malta on 7 December. He had had sexual relations with her on a number of occasions over several years, until 1989 or 1990.”
Megrahi was released from a Scottish prison in August, 2009. He had three months to live.
In the Scotsman Dr Jim Swire sees his letter published:
Maybe I am just getting too old to relish the challenge, but recent noises from the No 10 direction could hardly be more hostile, with David Cameron claiming that John Ashton’s book Megrahi: You Are My Jury is an insult to “the relatives” of the Lockerbie bomb victims – and that before he could possibly have read it: is he Prime Minister of the UK or the US?
The inquiry route, as that proposed by the Justice For Megrahi campaign group, remains before the Holyrood justice committee. How else can we support JFM? My personal view is that there are sufficient material and powers within Scotland to unseat the Scottish verdict and that until that is done Whitehall, let alone the international arena, will remain obdurate…
The relatives seek answers to the question of who did carry out the atrocity and why were they not prevented from doing so, rather than the simpler question of “was Megrahi guilty or not?” But the verdict is the obstruction that bars our progress, and the heavy lifting gear to get rid of that obstruction is within Scotland.
The two entities needing to be in the cross-hairs are the Crown Office and the Dumfries and Galloway Police. Ashton’s book puts both of them on the back foot. Once the court proceedings at Zeist, in the Netherlands, are shown to have been corrupted – no matter by whom – it should be for Scotland to set aside her verdict. There is a scientifically verifiable divide between the fragment PT35b and the Mebo timers. Let us not waste time on wondering where the fragment came from and who made it. It appears the differences between the two types of circuit boards are scientifically irreconcilable. If that’s so and can be made to stand up in court, there is no other evidence of a timer used to enable the long journey from Malta to the skies over Lockerbie.
With full analysis of the proven genuine fragment, the prosecution case collapses. Once that happens, Whitehall and the Americans ought to have to answer for their roles in all this, but that probably won’t happen in my lifetime.
Besides, it is wrong that an innocent man, Megrahi, and his family should remain under such overwhelming and unjustified blame a day longer. That also is evil and it has been done in the name of Scottish justice. Addressing the far greater evil of the murders themselves must follow the destruction of the verdict, surely?
We shall all be guilty of failing to fight both those evils if we do not rise up in Scotland to overturn the verdict now…
Sometimes it is hard also to resist the temptation to seek revenge against those who have misused the trust we placed in them to solve this case, but revenge was the fuel for Lockerbie, and to succumb to it would be to hand a further victory to those who murdered and those who have deceived. That cannot ever be right.
BEFORE keep-fit videos and DVDs, the would-be fit listened to LPs. We’ve compiled a gallery of some of the greatest, as found in Old Mr Anorak’s Bangkok Gym ‘n’ Gin Studios. It was all leotards, Miss Piggy, aerobics, Jane Fonda know-how, June La Salvia’s “How The Waist Was Won’, dancing for Christians and other ‘firm’ believers, Crystal Carrington, Nutricize and the chance to be like “GLORIA and her Six Daughters”. As the keep-fit industry grew so did we. Fatter. And fatter. The conclusion is simple: exercise products make you fat…
IN “Whitney’s secret affair with Jackson”, the Sun leads with news that Whitney Houston had a “secret affair” with…Big Brother star Jermaine Jackson. Having been told earlier that Whitney wanted to marry Michael Jackson, we enter the realm of mistaken identity.
Pinning down what Michael Jackson looked like was akin to hitting a moving target. Thoughts are that had the King of Pop lived longer, he’d have been mistaken for Joe Jackson and be a freckle away from EastEnders harridan Bianca Jackson.
Says the Sun:
The romance explains why 56-year-old Jermaine — a married man at the time — was so devastated by pop diva Whitney’s death in a Los Angeles hotel last month.
SAMANTHA Lewthwaite, 28, is being sought by the CIA, Scotland Yard, Kenyan Police and more agencies of justice. Samantha Lewthwaite is from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. She is the widow of Jermaine Lindsay, who killed himself and 26 passengers on a Piccadilly Line train in July 2005.
It is alleged that she is a terrorist, a mum of three funded by Somali pirates and training local Islamists how to make bombs in readiness for an attack on Western targets in East Africa.
She is suspected of being a paymaster, scout and reciter for the al-Shabaab terror group, part of the al-Qaeda network.
DOBBIN(G)-GATE: The best comments on David Cameron’s ride on Raisa, the horse the Met lent to Rebekah Brooks. Before the horse died, Rupert Murdoch’s tame tabby Rebekah Brooks let David Cameron have a ride on it – to go for a hack, as it were. Thanks to Murdoch, even right-wingers are agreeing with the Guardian. The media mucks out:
Michael Crick, Channel 4:
#horsegate In Commons in 2004 Cameron attacked plans for horse passports. He said they’d affect “every child’s pony, every happy hacker.”
JOHN Kafunda and Reece Donovan have been convicted by jury of mugging injured Malaysian student Ashraf Rossli, 21, in Barking during last August’s London riots.
Beau Isagba had broken Rossli’s jaw and stolen his bike when the heroes arrived.
At Wood Green Crown Court, Kafunda 22, of Ilford, was convicted of robbery and violent disorder. Donovan, 24, of Romford, has been convicted of theft, violent disorder. He would go on to burgle a Tesco store.
JUSTIN Bieber is legal to have sex with. No tabloid countdown clock preceded this move. But if you want to shag Bieber, you now legally can. To mark the happening Bieber went on the Ellen Degeneres show. Ellen, took time out from being a member of One Direction (Niall Horan) to help a steaming mountain of praise on the singer for his selflessness and good deeds in face of mass fame and wealth accumulation. She invite someone named Scooter to give Bieber a $100,000 Fisker Karma.
TODAY, Kate Middleton went shopping with Queen Elizabeth II, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Queen at Fortnum and Mason in London. The royal guests met military personnel involved in the Gifts For Troops scheme, which sends packages to soldiers serving in Afghanistan. Our Boys an Girls get tea and biscuits (Hobbing Nobs) if they’re out there during the Diamond Jubilee weekend. They might even get some foie gras and candied peel. Fortnums is the posh shop that sells tortured goose fat. It being one of Kate Middelton’s top five sources of fat, the other four being: lamb chops, KitKats, suet and custard creams …
AS THE Leveson Inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press trundles on, online magazine spiked launches an “intellectual two-fingered salute to the creeping conformism and censoriousness being unleashed by the Leveson process”.
Explaining the decision to launch a “Counter-Leveson Inquiry”, spiked editor Brendan O’Neill said the magazine intends to “carry a torch for press freedom”. The campaign will “put the case against Leveson, against judges and police getting to tell the press what its ethics should be, and against any stricture whatsoever on the right of the press, whether highbrow or low-rent, to investigate and publish what it sees fit”.
THE day is upon us, and England Expects… not very much really, if we are honest about it.
It’s Stuart Pearce’s first game as caretaker manager of the national team and the omens aren’t great. Previous friendlies against World Cup runners-up have been largely miserable experiences for England, and the records of previous caretaker bosses are nothing to write home about either. So how does “Psycho” match up against his predecessors?
REBEKAH Brooks, formerly Rebekah Wade, was loaned a police horse.
One day earlier, we heard Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers says that he has uncovered a “culture of illegal payments” at The Sun newspaper.
Akers, of the Met Police, is leading Operation Elveden, an investigation into allegations of corruption at News International, where Brooks used to work.
Akers tells the Leveson Inquiry:
“Instead these are cases in which arrests have been made involving the delivery of regular, frequent and sometimes significant sums of money to small numbers of public officials by journalists…The evidence suggests that such payments were being made to public officials across all areas of public life,” she added. “The current assessment of the evidence is that it reveals a network of corrupted officials. There appears to have been a culture at The Sun of illegal payments and systems have been created to facilitate such payments whilst hiding the identity of the officials receiving the money. The e-mails indicate that payment to ‘sources’ were openly referred to within The Sun, with the category of public official being identified rather than the individual’s identity.”
Tom Crone, the News of the World’s head of legal, wrote to the paper’s then-editor Andy Coulson on September 15 2006:
“The only payment records they found were from News International, ie the NoW retainer and other invoices, they said that over the period they looked at (going way back) there seemed to be over £1 million of payments…They’re going to contact RW (Rebekah Wade) today to see if she wishes to take it further.”
The internal News International (NI) email shows an unnamed police source told Brooks there were between 100 and 110 “victims” while the News of the World was under criminal investigation for hacking phones in the royal household. She was also told there were records suggesting NI had paid more than £1m to Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator employed to carry out the hacking.
THERE’S nothing funny or trivial about bowel cancer. Or rather, there shouldn’t be. Which makes the current bowel cancer awareness campaign rather odd.
It is presumably aimed at adults, since this demographic features exclusively in the current radio ads. Yet the gratingly condescending tone of the campaign is more suited to under-fives, with its “caring” nursery school narration and its constant references to faeces as “poo”.
Then there are the voices, which sound as if they are starring in a 1970s sitcom instead of a life-saving bulletin.
A series of people describe their “poo” in a tone that brings to mind the sparkling conversation at Gillian McKeith’s dinner parties. The last of these, with the glum air of jaded comedian trotting out a tired catchphrase, announces that ‘It’s all… bloody.’
THE Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland has produced a book of photos of World War II against the same locations today. It’s called Auschwitz-Birkenau. The Place Where You Are Standing…” The victims and murderers of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps are gone. But the place remains…
THE 84th Oscars wer a terrific show. Silence as an golden as the statuette as The Artist was named best film at the Oscars. Jean Dujardin became the first Frenchman to win an Academy Award for acting. Michel Hazanavicius, thanks three people for his best picture award for the same film: “Billy Wilder, Billy Wilder and Billy Wilder.” Nicholas Sarkozy, the French president, did as all politics must and thrust himself into the limelight saying the The Artist has made “French cinema proud”. Meryl Streep scored her second Osar form 17 nominations for playing Lady Thatcher in The Iron Lady. Sacha Baron Cohen hogged the limelight, turning the AGM for the Hollywood film industry into a promotion for his new film by spilling Kim Jong-il’s ashes over the red carpet – but not Halle’s Berry’s chest (again). Another landmark was scored by Christopher Plummer, who at 82 became the oldest actor to win an Oscar, for his performance in The Beginners. Octavia Spencer for getting a gong for her role as the pastry chef in The Help, offering: “I’m freaking out … I’m sorry, I love you … I’m sorry, I love you.” Which might explain why the best actors work with the best scripts…