Sean Spicer, originator of “alternative facts”, resigns from the White House

Sean Spicer at the 2017 Conservative Party Action Conference (Wikimedia Commons)

WHITE HOUSE PRESS Secretary Sean Spicer, whose claims concerning the size of the crowd for President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January led to the coining of “alternative facts” has announced his resignation. He will remain in the post until August.

The New York Times reports that his resignation is a protest against the hiring of Anthony Scaramucci as White House Communications Director.

Scaramucci previously worked on President Trump’s transition team, initially led by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and later by Vice President-elect Mike Pence, amid reports of a “purge” of Christie’s staff within the team. Trump allegedly thought Christie to be a liability in the wake of Bridgegate, a scandal that revealed he had colluded with other members of his staff in New Jersey to create traffic jams.

Christie made headlines earlier this month after he and his family were photographed using a beach that was not accessible to the public.

Spicer apparently strongly disagreed with Scaramucci’s selection. His resignation marks the end of an unprecedented period of instability for the press office of the White House.

The day after President Trump’s inauguration, Spicer insisted the crowds present were the “largest ever. Period.” According to figures from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, the number of people present for Trump’s inauguration was almost half the number for that of President Barack Obama’s first ceremony in 2009.

Appearing with CNN’s Chuck Todd later that day, Counselor to President Trump Kellyanne Conway called Spicer’s statistics “alternative facts.”

The interview and its subsequent response on social media led to sales of George Orwell’s 1984 rising by 9500%. 

In April, following the use of chemical weapons in Syria by its leader, Bashar Al-Assad, Spicer released a statement alleging not even Adolf Hitler “[sank] to using chemical weapons.” Hydrogen cyanide was used in the gas chambers at Nazi concentration camps such as Auschwitz.  

Beginning on June 29th, journalists at their daily press briefings were prohibited from recording sound or video. Independent journalist Ksenija Pavlovic rebelled against this ruling on Wednesday, streaming audio from the briefiing on Periscope.

His various incidents and behaviour in front of the White House cameras was parodied by Saturday Night Live, with actor Melissa McCarthy in the role of Spicer.

Scaramucci’s hiring represents another about-turn from President Trump’s campaign rhetoric. During the presidential race in 2016, Trump criticised both his Republican rival for the nomination, Ted Cruz, and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for being “owned” by Goldman Sachs. CNN reported in 2013 that Clinton earned at least $225,000 per speech, which she often gave at financial organisations.

Members of the Trump administration who have previously been involved with Goldman Sachs include Treasury Secretary Anthony Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and Chief Strategist Steve Bannon.

Scaramucci worked for Goldman Sachs before setting up his own investment firm, SkyBridge Capital, in 2005.

Anthony Scarmucci speaking at SkyBridge (Wikimedia Commons)

According to the NYT report, Scaramucci’s selection was questioned by White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, who “thought [he] lacked the requisite organisational or political experience”. Similarly to Trump, who held no elected office before assuming the presidency – the first time a President has neither been in office or served in the military before his election – Scaramucci have previously shared the media spotlight. A fierce defender of President Trump during the election, Scaramucci also previously hosted Wall Street Week and contributed to Fox News, one of the few media outlets Trump has not labelled “fake”.

After being introduced by Sarah Huckabee Sanders at Friday’s briefing Scaramucci appeared confident in front of the crowd, exhibiting a charisma lacking from Spicer’s often terse interactions with White House correspondents.

Questioned on whether President Trump was currently “under siege”, following another failure by Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act and investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, Scaramucci responded:

“I want to limit my remarks on the Russia investigation.

I don’t see [President Trump] as a guy who’s ever under siege. I see the President as a winner. We’re going do a lot of winning”

His words mirror a promise by Trump on the campaign trail:

“We’re going to win so much, you’re going to be so sick and tired of winning, you’re going to come to me and go ‘Please, please, we can’t win anymore.’”

Asked later about the relationship between the Trump administration and the press, and the emergence of “fake news”, Scaramucci was diplomatic but seemed to agree with the President’s multiple accusations of his discrediting by the liberal media.

“I wanna speak for myself – I’ve never I have empathy for journalists. But there feels like there’s a bit of a media bias. I’d like to reverse that.”

It remains unclear what role Sanders will fill once Spicer leaves the White House in late August.

Sean Spicer (left) as the Easter Bunny during an Easter egg roll on the White House lawn, with President Bush

 

Pastygate, Falcao fails to fell City, and more sports stories

piegate
Screenshot via BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39046583)

This story was originally published on London Multimedia News

Piegate: Wayne Shaw resigns

Wayne Shaw, the reserve goalkeeper for National League side Sutton United, has resigned.

The news comes amid speculation that he may have broken FA regulations on betting.

A betting service by The Sun offered odds of 8-1 for him to eat a pie on television during the club’s FA Cup game against Arsenal on Monday.

Shaw ate a pasty on the bench in the 82nd minute, once all three of Sutton’s substitutes had been used.

It is yet to be determined if anyone benefited from the offer.

Ryan Sidebottom calls time on 20-year career

The former international cricketer Ryan Sidebottom has announced his retirement at the age of 39.

Part of the England team that won the ICC World Twenty20 title in 2010, he holds five County Championship titles, and has taken over 1000 test wickets in a career lasting 20 years.

In his retirement, he’s said he will focus on helping underprivileged children in Yorkshire in Leeds learn the sport, through his charitable foundation.

 

City overcome Monaco despite shaky defence

Sergio Aguero disputes a penalty following a trip by Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subašić

Eight goals were scored at the Etihad yesterday evening, with Manchester City taking a win into their next round of 16 tie with a 5-3 victory over AS Monaco.

Former Manchester United striker Radamel Falcao helped give the visitors a 2-1 lead, before City defender John Stones cancelled out a mistake at the other end to put his side 4-3 up.

Leroy Sane added a fifth.

Elsewhere, Athletico Madrid claimed a 4-2 away win over Bayer Leverkusen.

Tonight, struggling Leicester City face Sevilla at the King Power Stadium.

Mayweather vs McGregor conjecture continues

Boxer Canelo Alvarez has labelled a potential fight between Floyd Mayweather and UFC Champion Conor McGregor as a ‘joke.’

Alvarez’s only defeat in 50 professional bouts was to Mayweather, and has labelled the potential match as a ‘businessman’s match’ in an interview with Reuters.

Trainer Freddie Roach has previously offered to train McGregor, who has the highest draw in MMA pay-per-view purchases in the world.

He obtained a professional boxing license in California late last year.

Mayweather, who served 90 days in jail for battery in 2011, has previously said a fight between the two men is possible if his pay is high enough, requesting a ‘payday of $100 million.’

Slip-ups, protests and milestones: 2017 Oscars Report

best-picture
AMPAS

This story was originally published on London Multimedia News

Despite claiming its lowest ratings haul since 1974, Sunday night’s Oscars ceremony has been labelled the most dramatic ever.

A mixup live on-stage saw La La Land announced as Best Picture, despite coming-of-age drama Moonlight actually winning.

In a statement from the Academy, the accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers claimed full responsibility for the error.

We sincerely apologize to “Moonlight,” “La La Land,” Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, and Oscar viewers for the error that was made during the award announcement for Best Picture. The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, was immediately corrected. We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred.

We appreciate the grace with which the nominees, the Academy, ABC, and Jimmy Kimmel handled the situation.

—PwC

It was not the first slip-up of the night; during the In Memoriam segment, the name costume designer and four-time nominee Janet Patterson of the still-living producer Jane Chapman.

Mahershala Ali, who shot to fame as part of the Netflix series House of Cards, won Best Supporting Actor for his role in Moonlight, becoming the first Muslim actor ever to win and the first black actor to win in either category since Forrest Whittaker in 2006, for The Last King of Scotland.

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Mahershala Ali (AMPAS )

Casey Affleck won Best Actor for Manchester by the Sea, and was presented the award by Brie Larson, who did not applaud in an apparent protest following allegations of sexual harassment on the set of one of his previous films.

Emma Stone and director Damien Chazelle both won for La La Land, while twice-nominated Viola Davis was awarded Best Supporting Actress for Fences.

The Salesman won the award for Best Foreign Language Film, but director Asghar Farhadi was not there to pick up his statue, due to the recent travel ban to the United States from seven mainly Muslim countries. Iranian astronaut Anousha Ansari accepted the award on his behalf.

Theresa May calls for general election on step of Downing Street

Originally posted to London Multimedia News on April 19th

Sky News cameras pointed at Downing Street before Theresa May’s announcement

The pound dropped 0.3% in value following the news that Prime Minister Theresa May would make an announcement on the steps of Downing Street, at 11:15 on Tuesday morning.

The drop came in anticipation of Mrs May calling a snap general election, a decision that would be supported by leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn.

However, due to the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, introduced by Mrs May’s predecessor David Cameron, the Prime Minister cannot call an early general election in this manner, but can introduce a vote in the House of Commons that would require a majority of two-thirds.

Emerging from Downing Street five minutes early, predictions were proved correct when Mrs May called for a general election for the 8th of June, a decision which will be put before the House of Commons on the 19th of April.

Mrs May promised that the Conservatives would help secure a “deep and successful partnership” with the European Union after Brexit, leaving Britain “free to chart its own way in the world.”

“We will regain control of our own money, laws and borders… This is the right approach and it is in the national interest.”

In the speech, Mrs May called on her opposition to prove they are interested in leadership and not the “division” she says has arisen in the Liberal Democrats, Labour, and the SNP.

“We need a general election and we need it now.”

Critics put forward that Mrs May’s calling of an election at this stage capitalises on the opposition, with Labour holding two leadership elections in the space of two years.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, in a statement, said he “[welcomed]the Prime Minister’s decision to give the British people the chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first.”

Nicola Sturgeon, whose Scottish National Party claimed all but one seat in Scotland in 2015, sees Mrs May’s announcement as her seizing on the chance for a bigger majority in Parliament.

In terms of Scotland, this move is a huge political miscalculation by the Prime Minister.

It will once again give people the opportunity to reject the Tories’ narrow, divisive agenda, as well as reinforcing the democratic mandate which already exists for giving the people of Scotland a choice on their future.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron, was caught up in controversy on the day of the Prime Minister’s announcement when he appeared in a Channel 4 interview to not confirm whether he considered homosexuality a sin.

Imp For A Day – Lincoln City’s Day Out in London

This story was originally published on London Multimedia News

In 1992, Arsenal travelled to Wrexham – the whole population of which, at the time, could have fit into the Gunner’s Emirates Stadium – for a third-round tie in the FA Cup.

Arsenal had won the league the year prior, the team enjoying what would be their first tastes of glory in the modern era with stars like David Seaman, Ian Wright and Lee Dixon.

However, on swapping North London for North Wales on an early January evening, the magic of the Cup proved too much for the Gunners; Wrexham ran out 2-1 winners, in what was dubbed the greatest cup shock of all time by ESPN.

Football Association

Now, with the gulf between leagues seeming ever bigger, fans of National League high-flyers Lincoln City crowded into a unique pub on Holloway Road, eager to take in the atmosphere preceding their quarter-final tie against Arsenal, a stage no non-league team has reached in over a hundred years.

Budweiser turned a pub on the road, a mile or so from Arsenal’s ground, into The Lincoln Imp for the afternoon, complete with complimentary beers, local food, an official press release featuring Graeme Le Saux, and the original pub’s landlady, Avril Pickard.

The Lincoln Imp, aka The Edward Lear, on Holloway Road

Soon after midday, red and white shirts spilled out onto the road. Every time a fan bus rolled by on its way to the stadium, cheers would erupt as it passed. The loudest point of the day came when a lone, unfortunate Arsenal fan happened to walk by in his replica kit. The Lincoln fans, to their credit, were welcoming enough. Though Graeme was nowhere to be found.

Lincoln’s eventual 5-0 drubbing by the Gunners does no credit to their extraordinary run. Our piece, however, does credit to the fans’ dedication, even in the face of Premier League opposition.