A Legoland theme park in the U.K. was supposed to host a "Muslim family fun day" for 1,000 Muslim families this weekend, but has cancelled the event because right wing extremists made threats.
The Muslim Research and Development Foundation had scheduled the private event at Legoland, but the Windsor, England amusement park received abusive and threatening messages on its Facebook page, noted The Guardian.
According to AFP, before the Muslim fun day was cancelled, a member of the right-wing British National Party said Legoland should be "ashamed of themselves for bowing to these Muslims."
"The Legoland Windsor resort has had to close the hotel on Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 March 2014 after threats from right-wing groups," a Legoland spokeswoman said in a statement. "The safety and security of our guests and our members of staff has to be our number one priority, which is why we've made the difficult decision to close the hotel."
The right-wing English Defence League applauded the decision on its website:
"We are pleased to hear that Legoland Windsor Resort has listened to the complaints of the EDL, its members and concerned members of the public and decided to cancel this event," the website reads.
In response to the cancellation, the Muslim Research and Development Foundation posted on its website:
"Together with these threats, publication of several articles in the national press helped fuel further hatred and resentment towards the event, resulting in further negative impact on the security of the event," the response reads. "It was evident from these hate articles and threats that this was not an attack on MRDF alone but was an outright attack on Islam and Muslims in the UK."
A university in the U.K. has banned a group of students from posting flyers depicting the "Flying Spaghetti Monster" image on the basis that the practice could be deemed offensive to Christians.
The Flying Spaghetti Monster became an Internet phenomenon in the mid-2000s as an ironic, satirical symbol used by atheists and others of non-religious belief. The character was initially invented as a protest against the Kansas State Board of Education’s decision to teach creationism in public schools, but it quickly became popular amongst people who wanted to express their nonbelief in a tangible, humorous way. Followers of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster referred to themselves as "pastafarians." They argued that belief in a Flying Spaghetti Monster is equally as valid as a belief in a more traditionally valued God.
Although the Flying Spaghetti Monster has significantly faded in online popularity, the symbol often reemerges as an argument against creationism and intelligent design.
That’s how a group of students at London’s South Bank University were using the image. The group, known as the South Bank Atheist Society, posted the image on their stall at the university’s orientation week. According to Raw Story, the students had hung posters depicting Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam” that replaced God with the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
School officials forced the students to take down the images for being “religiously offensive.”
Cloe Ansari, president of the group, claimed that she did not expect to be unjustly shut down by the university.
“This incident is just one of a catalogue of attempts to censor our society. I never expected to face such blatant censorship and fragile sensibilities at university, I thought this would be an institution where I could challenge beliefs and in turn be challenged,” Ansari said.
Source: Raw Story
Kerry Alun Evans, 25, could miss the birth of his first child after being found guilty of numerous charges related to dog fighting.
District Judge John Charles told Evans that all sentencing options were open when he is sentenced at Newport Magistrates’ Court---three days before his baby is due.
Evans denied multiple charges related to keeping or training six Pit Bull Terriers in connection with an animal fight; having possession or custody of a Pit Bull Terrier, and having equipment for use in connection with an animal fight.
But he was found guilty after trial at Merthyr Tydfil Magistrates’ Court, where the underground world of organized dog fighting in Wales was laid bare.
Evans admitted to one count of having a Pit Bull named Mason, but said he was looking after the family pet for his mother. That claim was rejected by District Judge Charles who stated the evidence supported the fact that the dog was used for fighting.
“I am satisfied that what the defendant has done from the outset is try to minimize his involvement in criminal activity by resorting to a pack of lies in the face of overwhelming evidence,” said the judge.
Five of the Pit Bulls were housed individually at a shed at Pengarnddu, Merthyr Tydfil, and Mason, whose ears were cropped at the base, had scars similar to a deceased dog belonging to Evans and used in dog fighting. All of the dogs had multiple scars, leading Veterinarian Mark Evans to conclude: “In my opinion they were most probably resultant from bites from other animals.”
He told the court the dogs displayed numerous facial and bodily scars, most of which had healed but one which was recent.
Dog fighting has been illegal in Wales since 1835 but RSPCA Chief Inspector with the Special Operations Unit Michael Howard Butcher told the court it had a resurgence in the 1980s with the influx of Pit Bulls which were imported to the country, (The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 prohibits Pit Bull Types in the UK.)
“The problem for the defendant was his significant difficulty in telling the difference between truth and lies,” Judge Charles opined. ”The only inference I can draw [from the evidence] is that the purpose for keeping these dogs in the circumstances was for one purpose and one alone – to involve them in future dog fights.”
Evans will appear in court for sentencing on March 3, 2014.
Source: Wales Online
A woman was jailed for nearly two years after she set up numerous fake Facebook accounts that led to the arrest of her stepmother.
The woman, 24-year-old Michelle Chapman, claimed to local police officials that she was being sexually harassed and trolled online by her father Roy Jackson and her stepmother Louise Steen. After an investigation by forensic internet experts determined that the social media accounts had actually been set up at Chapman’s home, the woman herself was arrested.
According to the Mirror News, Chapman was subsequently jailed for 20 months.
This Is Cornwall reports that Chapman made eight written statements to law enforcement officials between February and October of 2011 regarding the abusive messages she was allegedly receiving from her father and stepmother, which she claimed were of a “very unpleasant sexual nature.”
In response to Chapman’s complaint, her stepmother Steen was arrested and questioned. The mix-up was eventually detected, and Chapman herself was sentenced for forging evidence.
Law enforcement official Philip Lee claimed that Chapman’s actions were intended as a sort of revenge against her father.
“She said that she wanted revenge on her father for matters in the past ... she wanted to make their life hell,” Lee said.
Martin Pearce, Chapman’s attorney, had a different reasoning behind his client’s actions, claiming that she has suffered from mental health issues.
“She says she wishes she had not done it and she says she understands the impact on the victims,” Pearce said.
Chapman’s husband Glyn claimed that he understands his wife needs mental help.
“She is the victim, she has mental health issues and it was a cry for help. She has not had the help she needs. This is what you do when you’re in desperate, desperate need of help - you scream out,” Glyn said.
Richard West, a physics teacher, was recently fired for accidentally shooting a student with a pellet gun.
West was teaching at St. Peter’s Collegiate in Wolverhampton when he decided to demonstrate an experiment in class using the pellet gun.
According to the Daily Mail, West was attempting to demonstrate the deceleration of a pellet as it passed through several sheets of paper. In order to accomplish this lesson, the teacher had 20 students volunteer to hold sheets of paper in a line over a group of desks. West shot the gun, but the pellet eventually hit a desk and deflected into the leg of 17-year-old Ben Barlow.
Word of the incident travelled quickly around the school and West was ultimately fired for gross misconduct. Despite the school’s negative reaction towards West, however, Barlow maintains that his teacher did nothing wrong.
“The bullet travelled through the first ten or 11 sheets; then it must have hit a desk below and cannoned into me. It was just a momentary pain, like when you walk into the corner of a table. I was left with just a scratch,” Barlow said.
West had worked at the school for 20 years prior to the pellet gun incident, and many students expressed their unhappiness with his dismissal.
“We’re infuriated about this and Mr. West has been humiliated,” said Barlow’s classmate Isabella Leadbeater.
Parents, on the other hand, were more concerned about West’s presence in the school.
“I can’t believe a teacher thought it was appropriate to take a gun into a school. Surely there are safer ways to do this experiment than taking a deadly weapon into the classroom?” one parent said.
In response to the incident, Barlow set up an online campaign to rehire his former teacher. According to the New York Daily News, the Facebook campaign ‘Bring Back Westy' already has over 1,000 supporters.
A new report from The Daily Mail claims that the Earth’s magnetic field shows signs of weakening, which could potentially cause the planet’s north and south poles to flip. If this magnetic reversal occurs, the article claims that the world would essentially be sent into spiraling chaos, as power grids and weather patters would be drastically altered and exposure to cosmic radiation at the ground level would increase.
While these descriptions may sound like science fiction lore, a magnetic reversal is a naturally-occurring phenomenon that takes place on Earth every several hundred thousand years. According to NASA, Earth’s last magnetic reversal occurred about 780,000 years ago, and the planet is long overdue for another flip. Scientists have found evidence in fossils that past magnetic reversals have had some mutation effect on living organisms, although the radiation change is not strong enough to result in any form of mass extinction.
How the next magnetic reversal will affect communications technology and other modern advances is impossible to determine, but several scientists in the UK are investigating the matter.
“This is serious business. Imagine for a moment your electrical power supply was knocked out for a few months - very little works without electricity these days,” said Richard Holme, Professor of Earth, Ocean and Ecological Sciences at Liverpool University, after suggesting that a modern magnetic reversal could result in the depletion of the Earth’s man-made power supply.
Other scientists claim that the magnetic reversal would cause an influx of cosmic radiation, increasing cancer rates and raising the potential for other mutations.
“Radiation could be 3-5 times greater than that from the man-made ozone holes. Furthermore, the ozone holes would be larger and longer-lived,” said UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory’s Dr. Colin Forsyth.
Despite concerns, such a drastic change in the near future is highly unlikely. The Earth’s magnetic field is in a constant change, and slight variations in the field are not indicative of a larger reversal. Due to a relatively limited history of studying the subject and observing the phenomenon, however, scientists are unable to predict when the next magnetic reversal could occur.
“At the moment, we cannot accurately determine whether or not the Earth’s field is about to flip. We have only been recording the Earth’s field for around 170 years; about 1-15 percent of the time a flip is expected to take,” Dr. Forsyth explained.
Lancaster University scientist Jim Wild maintained that another magnetic reversal could potentially occur, and that humans need to investigate the phenomenon further in order to best prepare themselves for the possible event.
“This isn’t some crazy theory that might happen. There is evidence, but we need to do more science to understand the impact. I’m confident we can come up with a solution,” Wild said.
A new TV reality series called "Benefits Street" stars welfare recipients, which include a former drug addict, a shoplifter (who steals on camera), a woman who faces eviction and a young couple who struggle to feed their children.
While that might sound depressing, the show is actually a big hit in the UK (video below).
Benefits Street is actually James Turner Street in a poor area of Birmingham, England.
The show follows the lives of these people and their jobless neighbors over five episodes, which have been called "poverty porn," notes the Associated Press.
Welfare is a hot button in the UK where benefits have been slashed and many older citizens don't think younger people deserve public assistance.
Prime Minister David Cameron's government recently announced plans to cut another $20 billion from the welfare budget.
"Benefits Street" reportedly confirms stereotypes of people on welfare being lazy and crooked. There have even been death threats made against the stars of the show on social media sites, reports Channel 4.
"On television the lowest common denominator is to get viewers, so you get the extreme end of the spectrum," Abigail Scott Paul, of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, told the Associated Press. "These shows present poor people as characters in a soap opera."
However, Channel 4, which airs the program, claims it's not exploitive and just shows reality in an area with high unemployment rates.
"This series gives a voice to the disenfranchised and some of those who have been hit hardest by austerity," says Nick Mirsky, of Channel 4. "It was not undertaken lightly."
There is a petition on Change.org calling for Channel 4 to pull the series and donate money to charity.
Not everyone hates the show. In fact, fans have flocked to the street to take pictures of themselves, reports the Birmingham Mail.
An investigation into the death of Jacob Cockle, 28, the award-winning photographer that passed away in May of last year, found that the man drowned while being sucked into a whirlpool he was attempting to capture on camera.
Cockle made a name for himself online for the daredevil underwater stunts that he captured on film and uploaded to video-sharing sites. His videos were often comedic but included potentially dangerous stunts, including several earlier videos that depicted Cockle near whirlpools and other underwater hazards.
According to the Daily Mail, the investigation into Cockle’s death found traces of the drug ketamine in his body. It is unlikely, however, that Cockle was under the influence of the drug while swimming underwater, although the validity of that statement is difficult to determine. Cockle was also wearing a plastic horse head as part of a costume for comedic effect when he died.
Andrew Cox, the coroner responsible for Cockle’s case, explained that he believed Cockle to have passed away understanding the risks he was taking by filming near the whirlpool.
“Jacob went down to the harbor with an expressed intention of recording the whirlpools there. I have seen the footage of him being sucked around the whirlpool while wearing the horse’s head. There is no doubt that Jacob was a competent waterman. There is also no doubt that he was a risk taker. I accept however that those risks were not spontaneous or impulsive but were considered. He was an admirable young man who died doing what he loved,” Cox said.
Cockle died in Cornwall, United Kingdom.
A Cocker Spaniel’s ear was mercilessly ripped off by a Pit Bull while the little dog screamed in pain in front of a preparatory school, terrifying locals and sparking new fears it could attack a child.
Niki Richards was walking Dudley, her Cocker Spaniel, close to her home when the incident occurred on Wednesday, the Wandsworth Guardian reports.
During the attack the Staffordshire locked its jaws on the spaniel’s ear and the little dog’s yelps and screams were so loud teachers at nearby Thomas’s Battersea School thought it was a child in danger.
Mrs Richards said there were three men sitting outside Lindsey Court, Battersea Square, where the Pit Bull was seen roaming. After the Pit Bull latched onto Dudley, eventually the owner ran over and hit it on the head repeatedly, which caused the dog to release Dudley.
The four-year-old Cocker was rushed to the Medivet, where vets stitched the ear back together and said he was lucky to be alive.
Mrs Richards, a psychologist, is now attempting to prosecute the owner through the help of Wandsworth Council, as it was not on a lead. However, there is no law against dog on dog attacks under the Dangerous Dog Act 1991, which only prosecutes owners if their dog attacks a person, the Guardian reports.
Mrs Richards said: “It is unbearable to think about what could have happened. “I felt helpless, “I threw my bag at the dog and couldn’t let go of Dudley’s lead. But I felt as though the attack would never end.”
“No animal or human should be subjected to this and I want this dog found so that he does not go onto attack again--God forbid if it is a child next time. I don’t just blame the dog, but the owner too.”
Source: Wandsworth Guardian
A passenger airplane flying near London’s Heathrow Airport came in close contact with an unidentified flying object last year, according to the delayed publication of a pilot’s flight report.
The incident took place on July 13th, 2013, when the pilot was flying an Airbus A320 approximately 20 miles west of Heathrow airport.
Although UFOs are typically depicted in popular culture as alien-piloted flying saucers, it’s actually quite common for pilots to report near-misses with unidentified objects. Despite closing a Ministry of Defence government hotline for reporting UFO sightings in 2009 due to an influx of calls from paranoid public, among other concerns, the British government still takes reports of unidentified flying objects in its airspace seriously.
The UK Airprox Board investigates each pilot-reported UFO sighting to better understand why the object may have been in the airplane’s flight path. According to the board’s report, the pilot involved in this incident believed he was going to collide head-first with the object.
“He was under the apprehension that they were on collision course with no time to react. His immediate reaction was to duck to the right and reach over to alert the FO (First Officer); there was no time to talk to alert him. The captain was fully expecting to experience some kind of impact with a conflicting aircraft,” the report reads, according to Yahoo News.
The pilot described the UFO as being silver, metallic and having a “rugby ball-like” shape.
According to The Telegraph, the UK Airprox Board was unable to determine the origin of the UFO, ruling out meteorological balloons, toy balloons and military radar operators as possibilities due to data records and the altitude at which the object was sighted. The report also suggests that the pilot may have believed he saw an object due to the reflection of the sun through the windows.
While the public may postulate the existence of alien species whenever a UFO sighting occurs, the more pressing issue is the fact that unidentified flying objects are potentially threatening the safety of passenger aircrafts.
Dr. David Clarke, UFO consultant for the UK National Archives, explained the importance of passenger safety in investigating these reports.
“The aviation authorities obviously think this is something they should continue to look into and if you are a regular air traveller, you are likely to agree,” Clarke said.