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EPIC banners harks back to April 13, 2005. It’s the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Second Leg. Juventus are playing Liverpool at the Stadio Delle Alpi. The Juventus fans hold up a message.
“YOU ARE MORE THAN CAMILLA”
TRANSFER Balls looks at Arsenal and Carlos Vela:
May 19, Daily Star: “Arsenal would be STUPID not to sign me! Carlos Vela talks up potential Emirates return”
May 22, Daily Star: “I’m so much better now: Mexico striker Carlos Vela ready for Arsenal return”
CARLOS VELA reckons he is ready for a return to the Premier League after a spell with Spanish side Real Sociedad.
June 6, Daily Star: “Carlos Vela to reject Arsenal and replace Chelsea bound Diego Costa at Atletico Madrid”
The striker, who scored 11 goals in 64 appearances for the Gunners, has reportedly told friends he has received an “irrisistable” offer to join Diego Simeone’s Champions League runners-up.
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Hillsborough Joins The War On Free Speech And Bicholim: Chelsea Fan Sacked For Abusing Liverpool On Wikipedia
THE War on Free Speech looks at the story of the man who posted a message on Wikipedia. In “Revealed: How The Telegraph found the Hillsborough Wikipedia vandal”, the paper reports:
A civil servant in Liverpool has been fired for using government computers to post abuse about the Hillsborough disaster on the Wikipedia website following an investigation by The Telegraph. The Whitehall official used the government intranet to mock the 1989 tragedy in which 96 Liverpool fans died at Sheffield Wednesday’s football ground.
The 24-year-old idiot changed the message “You’ll Never Walk Alone” to “You’ll Never Walk Again”.
ALBANIA is not on the backpackers trail. But it soon will be. Maybe.
Last week, Albanian special forces raided the marijuana-growing village of Lazarat, south of the capital Tirana.
Gangs based in Lazarat are believed to produce about 900 metric tons of cannabis a year, worth about 4.5 billion euros ($6.1 billion) - roughly half the small Balkan country’s GDP.
So. What do the police do with such a valuable cash crop in a pretty poor country? Yeah, they burn it. What utter idiots.
THIS is a memo on British newspapers by American diplomat for King George VI’s 1939 visit to the US:
THE success rate of old television shows brought to the big screen is a sad one, to say the least. Time after time, great shows have been adapted to film with less than stellar results. Sure, there have been a few good ones, but they’re the exception, not the rule. Here are some of the tragic attempts made in the last decade or so. This list is by no means comprehensive. There are many more examples of Hollywood’s inability to get it right, but this is all I can ask of you to stomach in one sitting.
Fat Albert (2004)
I’m sure there are people who enjoyed the Fat Albert remake… but then, I’m sure there are also people who like to get peed on.
To quote Roger Ebert’s review of North (1994): “I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it.”
The Honeymooners (2005)
Science Fact of the Day: If there exists an alternate universe composed entirely of anti-matter, then the greatest film ever made in that universe is The Honeymooners.
Get Smart (2008)
This film adaptation somehow managed to discard all the camp humor and charm while retaining every shred of stupidity. (slow clap)
The Flintstones (1994)
Charlie’s Angels (2000)
The Charlie’s Angels film adaptation bears just enough resemblance to the TV series to be insulting, but also finds new ways to be terrible in its own right. Thanks to tons of hype, it made big piles of money on its release… but as time wears on, it sinks deeper and deeper beneath the bargain bin; forever forgotten unwanted.
The Mod Squad (1999)
The Mod Squad adaptation could have been good. Just a few minor tweaks like rewriting the script from scratch and firing everyone involved is all that it would have taken to make this better.
McHale’s Navy (1997)
To paraphrase Mark Twain’s review of an Ambrose Bierce book: “For every laugh that is in this movie, there are five blushes, ten shudders and a vomit.”
The Avengers (1998)
The Avengers adaptation is a pus-filled bedsore of a film that should be avoided like an exploding bag of hepatitis. But, otherwise, it’s not too bad.
The Beverly Hillbillies (1993)
Say what you will about the original series, it was pretty funny. The film version, however, seems to be saturated in some sort of comedy-repellant.
My Favorite Martian (1999)
To quote TIME magazine’s review of the silver screen adaptation of Myra Breckinridge: This film is “about as funny as a child molester.”
Dukes of Hazzard (2005)
To compare the Dukes of Hazzard TV show to the movie is to understand the difference between lovably dumb and abrasively retarded.
I Spy (2002)
What a hot mess this was. But let’s not lose sight that there have been some damn good adaptations as well (ex. Star Trek, The Addams Family, Mission Impossible, Starsky & Hutch).
The problem is there seems to be no end to the awful adaptions. There’s Steve Martin’s horrific fail, Sgt. Bilko (1996), Will Smith’s nightmare rehash of Wild Wild West (1999), Matthew Broderick’s retarded abyss known as Inspector Gadget (1999), Tom Hanks’s foray into fecal cinema, Dragnet (1987), Disney’s steaming turd called George of the Jungle (1997), Will Farrell’s waking nightmare, Land of the Lost (2009), Johnny Depp’s public humiliation, Dark Shadows (2012) ….. you get the picture.
What happens to these film adaptations that everything that was good about the original series is sucked out? Hollywood seems to think that jettisoning the heart and soul of a TV series is okay; what matters is retaining the “brand”’. Thus, only the name and appearance stay the same. Yet, what made the originals so enduring are lost in the shuffle as these misguided film adaptations shit themselves as they fall off the cliff.
MADELEINE McCANN: The Sunday Express front page leads with the sensational headline: “I killed Maddie, you’re next.”
The story is that British woman Clara Corrigan claims that the man who stabbed her in Portugal screamed: “I killed Madeline McCann and I’m going to kill you.”
HOW England were cheated out of TWELVE World Cups.
See that lone star above the Three Lions crest?
CHRIS Carter’s landmark TV series The X-Files (1993 – 2002) proved not only a ratings blockbuster throughout the 1990s, but a cultural phenomenon too…the Star Trek of the Clinton Age, essentially. The series, which starred David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson proved so popular that its success led to movies, comic-books, toys, and even spin-offs such as The Lone Gunmen (2001). Chris Carter even had the opportunity to create another masterpiece for the era: Millennium (1996 – 1999).
But importantly, The X-Files also dramatically proved to network executives that horror and science fiction could play well on television if presented intelligently, and with a strong sense of continuity.
Accordingly, the years between 1995 and 1999 saw a veritable flood — a genuine boom — of horror-themed genre programming hit the airwaves.
These series had titles such as American Gothic (1995 – 1996), Strange Luck (1995 – 1996) , Dark Skies (1996), Kindred: The Embraced (1996), Poltergeist: The Legacy (1996 – 1999), Psi-Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal (1996 – 1999), The Burning Zone (1996 – 1997), Sleepwalkers (1997), Prey (1998), Brimstone (1998 – 1999) and Strange World (1999).
Most of the series above lasted only a season, but nearly all of them involved, like The X-Files, aspects of the police procedural format, and elements of the horror genre, namely the supernatural or paranormal. Many of the series also involved government conspiracies, or an “Establishment” attempt to hide some important “truth” from the American populace.
Below are my choices for the five best of this post-X-Files pack.
Nowhere Man (1995)
Created by Lawrence Hertzog, Nowhere Man ran for twenty-five hour-long episodes in 1995 and quickly proved a paranoiac’s dream. The series involved Thomas Veil (Bruce Greenwood), a photographer whose very life was “erased” in the premiere episode (“Absolute Zero”) by a shadowy conspiracy.
This act of erasure was undertaken because Veil publicly revealed a top-secret photograph called “Hidden Agenda.” Soon even Veil’s wife, Alyson, (played by Millennium’s Megan Gallagher) claimed not to have any memory of him. She had been “gotten to.”
As the series continued, Thomas began to uncover secrets about the photograph, and about his enemies too, a sinister cabal or conspiracy called “The Organization” (think The Syndicate on The X-Files).
Nowhere Man picks up primarily on The X-Files’ conspiracy vibe, but also features a strong if oblique connection to another TV paranoia trip: The Prisoner (1967). There, the prisoner, Number Six (Patrick McGoohan), was trapped in a bizarre European “village” for spies and ex-spies; but here Veil finds himself in an Information Age trap where the prison is the global village itself.
Nowhere Man is cleverly constructed, right down to the hero’s name — Veil — and so the series’ final episode saw the “veil” over his eyes lifted at last. Today, this series would be ripe for either a movie or TV reboot.
American Gothic (1995)
American Gothic is the tale of Caleb Temple (Lucas Black), a youngster of questionable lineage who lives in the town of Trinity, South Carolina. In the premiere episode, little Caleb sees his father go stark, raving mad, and his sister Merlyn (Sarah Paulson) murdered by the nefarious sheriff, Lucas Buck Gary Cole). Then he learns that not only is Lucas Buck Caleb’s biological father…he may also be the devil.
But before Sheriff Buck can seduce Caleb to the dark side, the sinister force must contend with two most unwelcome “do-gooders” in Trinity: reporter Gail Emory (Paige Turco) and a Yankee upstart with a dark past, Dr. Matt Crower (Jack Weber).
Both carpet-baggers realize Buck is up to no good, and take steps to protect Caleb, but must simultaneously deal with their own personal demons. Gail’s parents died in Trinity twenty years earlier and Lucas Buck just happened to be the person who discovered their bodies. And Matt is still recovering from a drunk-driving incident in which his wife and daughter were killed.
Created by Shaun Cassidy, and produced by Sam Raimi, this soap opera horror owes as much to Twin Peaks (1990 – 1991), perhaps, as it does The X-Files. But all the x-trademarks are present, from a focus on corrupt (or actually evil authority figures…), to storylines which involve police solving crimes in a small-town.
American Gothic succeeds in part because of Gary Cole’s central presence and enormous charisma as the evil sheriff, a figure who can seduce anyone with a smile, and who is even taken, on occasion, to whistling the theme song from The Andy Griffith Show.
Dark Skies (1996)
Like all the TV series featured on this list, there can be little doubt that NBC’s Dark Skies was granted a prime-time berth because of the success of The X-Files.
There’s also little doubt, however, that Dark Skies is an original, visually-distinctive, and involving program. The one-season series showcases a memorable, growling regular performance from the late J.T. Walsh as the leader of a top-secret alien-hunting organization called Majestic, and features rewarding and intricate plotting across the span of the catalog’s nineteen hour-long shows.
The series is a period piece, interestingly, that concerns alien abduction — one of the key concepts explored in The X-Files.
Dark Skies opens immediately after President Kennedy is inaugurated and the age of Camelot commences. Two young Americans who are filled with enthusiasm — John Loengard (Eric Close) and Kim Sayers (Megan Ward) — go to Washington to serve the country and the new president but quickly become disillusioned when they learn that all is not as it seems. Aliens have infiltrated the highest levels of the American government.
While it’s true that Eric Close looks like he was incubated at a David Duchovny Clone Farm, and that matters of conspiracy in Washington were also heavily featured on The X-Files, Dark Skies nonetheless forges its own unique identity. It does so by replaying key events from human history — the first TV appearance of The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show, for instance, or the Kennedy Assassination — through the lens of alien infiltration in human affairs.
That was the “literal” level upon which Dark Skies operated, but the series also, overall, served as a metaphor for politics in the U.S. Naivety and idealism quickly give way to cynicism and dark agendas, and it’s a struggle to know who to trust, and who to believe in.
The tag-line for the short-lived series Prey on ABC-TV was “We’ve just been bumped down the food chain,” and the series concerned a beautiful geneticist, Sloane Parker (Debra Messing), who learned that a look-alike species — homo dominants — was gaining a foothold on power in North America.
A brilliant scientist not unlike Scully (Gillian Anderson), Sloane came to work with one of the dominants, Tom Daniels (Adam Storke), to help reveal the breadth of the dark conspiracy.
The X-Files often concerned genetic mutants like Victor Eugene Tooms, or other freaks of nature who, in some way could represent one possible future for humanity. Prey likewise involved a similar scenario, but taken to apocalyptic levels. Mankind was losing ground to superior beings, yet those beings were not aliens or monsters…but ones created under the auspices of evolution, by Mother Nature herself. The human race had become outmoded.
So the question became: can man outwit, defeat, and outlive its replacement species?
Over the course of Prey’srun much information was learned about the new species, including the fact that it lacked human emotions but possessed ESP. Prey was also weirdly prophetic. One episode involved school shootings — less than a year before Columbine — and the entire premise seemed to forecast the War on Terror.
In particular, the homo dominants looked and sounded like us, and therefore could imitate humans flawlessly. So your neighbor could actually be a sleeper agent, just waiting for the right moment to strike. In 2004, this was the premise of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica.
Brimstone (1998 – 1999)
Created by Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris, Brimstone aired on Fox as the lead-in to Chris Carter’s Millennium on Friday nights, and ran for just thirteen hour-long episodes before an untimely cancellation.
The series starred Peter Horton as hangdog Detective Ezekiel Stone, a former Manhattan-based police officer who died in 1983…and promptly went to Hell. Stone did so because he took the law into his own hands and murdered his wife’s rapist, Gilbert Jax. Two months after that act of vigilantism, Stone was killed in the line of duty, and he has been trapped in the Underworld ever since.
As the series commences, however, 113 of the “most vile” criminals in Hell manage a jailbreak and return to Earth to wreak havoc. The Devil (John Glover) – trying to cover his ass with the Man Upstairs – recruits Detective Stone to pursue the fugitives and send them back to Hell and permanent incarceration.
Ezekiel can do so only by destroying their eyes, the so-called “windows to their souls.” In exchange for his service, Stone gets a much-valued second shot at human life, happiness, and redemption. Each time Stone kills an escaped convict, a strange runic tattoo (representing the convict’s “number” or identity) burns off his body. Stone must also deal with the fact that some of escaped convicts are extremely powerful, with terrifying supernatural abilities
As the Devil informs the detective: “The longer you’ve been in Hell, the more it becomes a part of you.”
The villains featured on the series reflect The X-Files concept of the “monster of the week.” They are literally twisted creatures from Hell, and the roster includes an unrepentant rapist (“Encore”), a shape-shifter with multiple personalities (“Faces”), a lovelorn poet who kills virgins (“Poem,”) and even a Bonnie and Clyde-styled pair of thugs (“The Lovers.”)
Presented in a kind of de-saturated or silvery-steel color-scheme, Brimstone was another police procedural of the 1990s, like the X-Files, but it proved an original initiative because it worked overtime to diagram a universe of nuanced morality. Despite the presence of God and the Devil in the stories, Brimstone always explored shades of gray, not the least in terms of Stone’s behavior. Did he deserve a second chance? Did he deserve to go to Hell in the first place?
In exploring these issues, Brimstone proved more than your average X-Files knock-off and emerged as a memorable supernatural noir. The series’ sense of humor, revolving around a man from 1983 living at the turn of the century, also proved stellar.
Madeleine McCann: Anorak’s look at the missing child in the news media.
Stefano Hatfield, Indy: “Reward MH370”: We need to have faith in those who govern”
…I’ve never lost anyone truly close to me in mysterious circumstances, so I cannot know how that must feel. I cannot know therefore how bewildered the desperate families of missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 must be to set up a crowd-sourced whistle-blower fund, “Reward MH370”, in the hopeful belief that someone, somewhere must know what happened to the jet that went missing two months’ ago with 239 people on board.
Nor, can I know the overwhelming terror, guilt, worry and helplessness that Gerry and Kate McCann must endure daily as they continue to search for answers regarding the disappearance of their daughter Madeleine, seven years ago.
TRANSFER Balls: a look at Luke Shaw, the England and Southampton star:
In January, the Mirror John Cross told readers:
Manchester United transfer target Luke Shaw wants Chelsea move from Southampton even if it’s in the summer…
Shaw, a boyhood Chelsea fan, has set his heart on London rather than Manchester when the time comes to move.
The Express agreed:
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WORLD Cup Watch looks at how the Daily Mail is gearing up top rubbish Roy Hodgson whose key error remains not being Harry Redkapp.
Redknapp’s ghost writer Matin Samuel looks at “impact” substitutes and, in particular, Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling:
Sterling, who knows? Hodgson rejected the chance to start him against Peru or Ecuador and was faced with a young man so desperate to make an impression in that second game that he got sent-off and missed the final match in which he was ear-marked to start.
IT’S rather sad to see the people who actually run the NHS being so confused about the realities of that very NHS. The latest being this idea that all of us becoming fat lardbuckets will mean that the NHS runs out of money. So, therefore, we’ve all got to be dragooned into eating less so as to save the taxpayer.
The problem with this is that fatties don’t cost the NHS cash, they save it. Here’s the standard story:
The way things are going, every kid is going to go to school wearing bubble wrap and a helmet. Back in the 1970s (and earlier), parents didn’t stress about our health and safety as much as they do today. It’s not that they cared less – they just didn’t worry compulsively about it.
Parents of 2014 need to be reminded of how less restricted, less supervised, less obsessively safety-conscious things were… and it was just fine.
1. JARTS: IMPALING ARROWS OF DEATH
Can your mind comprehend a more deadly toy than a weighted spear that kids hurl through the air like a missile? No one ever obeyed the actual manufacturer’s rules, we just flung these damn things everywhere. We threw them. They stuck where they landed. If they happened to land in your skull, well, then you should have moved.
After roughly 6,700 emergency-room visits and the deaths of three children between 1978 and 1988, they finally outlawed Jarts on December 19, 1988. I suppose it needed to be banned, but a part of me is sad that kids today won’t have the battle scars and Jart survival stories we had. Goodbye Jart – you were an impaling arrow of death, but I loved you anyway.
2. LOST AND NOT FOUND: SEAT BELTS
Cars came with seat belts in the 1970s, but no one used them except maybe out of curiosity to see what it was like to wear one. Of course, you’d have to fish them out of the deep crevice of the backseat cushion where they often came to rest, unwanted and ignored.
The only “click” heard in the 1970s automobile was your dad’s Bic lighting up a smoke with the windows rolled up. (cough!)
I should also mention that, not only were there no seat belts, child seats were nowhere to be found. Whether it was the front seat of your mom’s station wagon or her bicycle, chances are, you were entirely untethered.
3. SEMI-LETHAL PLAYGROUNDS OF HOT METAL
Remember when playgrounds were fun? Sure, there was a pretty good chance you’d be scalded by a hot metal slide, or walk away with tetanus, but that’s what memories are made of.
The ground wasn’t coated with soft recycled rubber or sand as most are today – they were asphalt. Remember being hurled from a spinning merry-go-round, then skidding across the gravel at full speed? Good times.
I remember my school playground had a metal ladder “wall” that I swear went up three stories – it didn’t connect to a slide or anything. It was literally a ladder to the sky. I remember fully believing the oxygen was thinner at the top. One false move and I’d have been a flesh colored stain on the asphalt.
According to the New York Times we are making playgrounds so safe that they actually stunt our kids’ development. So, while blood was spilt and concussions were dealt on the playgrounds of the 1970s, we were at least in a developmentally rich environment – and we had the bruises and scabs to prove it.
4. PRECIOUS LITTLE SUN PROTECTION
“Tanfastic lets the sunshine in. It’s not loaded up with sunburn protection like old folks and kids want. Tanfastic’s for you 15-to-25 year olds who can take the sun. Especially if you want to get superdark. Superfast.”
Back in the 70s, your goal was to get as brown as your skin would permit. Sun BLOCK or sun SCREEN was basically nonexistent. You wanted to AMPLIFY your rays, so women typically lathered on Crisco and baby oil to get that deep baked look.
For the kids, SPF numbers hovered around 2, 4 and 8. The idea that you would spray an SPF of 50 or even 30 wasn’t even an option, except perhaps from medical ointments prescribed for albinos.
5. HELMETS: FOR THOSE WITH MEDICAL CONDITIONS ONLY
Whether you were riding a bike, roller skating, or skateboarding, one thing was for certain: you were not wearing a head protection. You would have been looked at as a sideshow freak by other kids, and parents would assume you had some kind of medical condition.
6. IGNORED AND UNATTENDED ON THE REGULAR
Hey, who’s watching the kid in the stroller? YOU MUST HAVE YOUR EYES ON THE KID AT ALL TIMES OR ELSE HE WILL DIE!
My mother routinely left me alone in the car at a young age while she ran errands. Today, this will literally get you arrested. You see, once upon a time it was okay to leave your kids for long periods without supervision (remember the so-called “latch-key kids” of the 70s?), or let them free roam without constant surveillance. Today, parents won’t let their kids go out to get the mail alone, and any fun with friends has to be scheduled, closely monitored “play dates”.
On summer break or weekends in the 1970s, parents kicked their kids out the front door and didn’t let them back in until the sun went down. “Go play,” were their only words, and you were left to your own devices for hours upon hours. Neighborhoods looked like Lord of the Flies.
7. ROUTINELY ALLOWED TO GET SERIOUSLY HURT
This poor kid is about to get rammed in the nuts by a goat, and the nearby adult isn’t the least bit concerned. In fact, he finds this all incredibly amusing! As hard as this is to believe, but when kids got hurt back then, adults didn’t come running with first-aid kits. More than likely you’d be left alone with your pain, with no alternative but to get over it.
In the 70s, parents watched their offspring fall from trees and fall off bikes with a smile.
8. SECONDHAND SMOKE EVERYWHERE
From airplanes to your family car, it seemed the world of the 70s was shrouded in a haze of cigarette smoke. It wasn’t just the fact that many more people smoked, it was the absolute 100% lack of concern for those that didn’t, including children. Teachers smoked, doctors smoked, your parents smoked…. and they didn’t take it to a secluded smoking area, they did it right in your face.
Please don’t interpret this as condoning it. There’s no question that engulfing your child in a thick carcinogenic cloud isn’t a good idea. I’m just stating facts – this is the world we lived in. It was full of adults who didn’t seem to have anxiety attacks over our safety, and we turned out just fine…. right?
THE UCL Student Union has banned the college’s Nietzsche Club. The Union write beneath the headline “Motion to the Union Council: Fight Fascism”:
This Union notes
That a group positioning itself as a “student club about traditionalist art and philosophy” and as “Tradition UCL”, has started operating at UCL.
That this group has been putting up posters with their contact details around UCL campus.
That their posters’ heading reads “Too much political correctness?”, and they advertise a study of the philosophers Nietzsche, de Benoist, Heidegger and Evola.
That a second poster appeared around four weeks after the previous one had first been put up, bearing the title “Equality is a false god” and, once again, advertising the philosophers de Benoist, Heidegger and Evola for study.
That on this second poster the group has repositioned itself as a “Nietzsche Club” and altered its contact details to include a new email address.
That the aforementioned philosophers and thinkers are on the extreme-right, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, homophobic, anti-Marxist, anti-worker and have had connections, direct or indirect, with Italian fascism and German Nazism.
You might not agree with the Nietzsche Club. But when did students at universities become censorious?
This Union believes
BLIMEY! The Daily Express has news to chill Scottish Independence voters. A vote ‘yes’ gives you cancer:
MADELEINE McCann: Anorak look at the missing child in the news. In today’s newspapers.
The missing child is not on any of the front pages.
The Mirror: “Madeleine McCann search: Family of missing Ben Needham say ‘thoughts and prayers’ are with the McCanns”
Ben was just 21-months-old when he disappeared from the Greek island of Kos in 1991. A review into his disappearance was held in 2012, with some of the experts from that operation now being used in the renewed search for Madeleine.
23 years on, no trace of Ben has yet been found.
The police never looked that hard for him.
His family told Sky News: “Our thoughts are with the McCanns in this search for Madeleine. We ourselves know that this sort of investigation will be a very difficult time for the family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.”
THE Independent talked of “The ‘Irish Holocaust’” that “saw hundreds of babies left to die – and the practice may have been more common than first thought”.
The story of the babies dumped in a septic tank in Tuam, Galway, travelled:
“Bodies of 800 babies, long-dead, found in septic tank at former Irish home for unwed mothers” – The Washington Post.
“Nearly 800 dead babies found in septic tank in Ireland” – Al Jazeera.
“800 skeletons of babies found inside tank at former Irish home for unwed mothers” – New York Daily News.
“Almost 800 ‘forgotten’ Irish children dumped in septic tank mass grave at Catholic home” – ABC News, Australia.