Archive for August, 2010

August 31, 2010

>Sunderland go big on dull deadline day

>Steve Bruce and Sunderland have gone big and signed Ghana star Asamoah Gyan, on what was a generally dull deadlined day. The North-East team spent the club record fee of £13mil for the Ghanian striker, who missed a penalty that would have put his country through to the World Cup semi-final.

Stoke City were the other big movers, signing Eidur Gudjohnsson, Mark Wilson and Jermaine Pennant. Dave Kitson and Liam Lawrence have though left the club, both joining Portsmouth in the Championship.

In other developments Manchester City diva Robinho has signed for AC Milan, Franco Di Santo has moved from Chelsea to Wigan, and DJ Campbell has signed for Premier League new boys Blackpool. Another move of note is Birmingham’s signing of former Arsenal star Alex Hleb.

At the moment their is a rumour that Dutch star Rafael Van De Vaart is joining Spurs from Real Madrid, this post will be updated if any other news breaks.

UPDATED 20.20:
A very pleased look Harry Redknapp has been seen leaving White Hart Lane, saying the transfer of Rafa Van De Vaart is now in the hands of the Chairman and the Club Secretary. Looks like this one might just stick…

August 31, 2010

>The Bill crack last case


After more than 20 years, the Bill will tonight come to an end, when its final episode ‘Respect – Part 2’ is aired. The episode will centre around the Sun Hill team cracking a murder and gang rape on a nearby estate.

Anybody who is anybody has appeared in country’s longest running police procedure drama, including Russell Brand and Kiera Knightley.  The programmes viewing fingers have steadily decreased though, and not even a format change for a 1 hour 9pm slot could save the show. On March 25th ITV announced they would not recommision The Bill, and tonights final episode was filmed on 14th June.

You can see a preview of the episode here.

August 31, 2010

>Betting revelations throw cricket into turmoil

>A peaceful and exciting weekend of Test cricket was thrown into turmoil after the News of the World printed allegations that some members of the Pakistan cricket team were paid to bowl ‘no balls’ at specific points in the game. Investigators from Pakistan will be in England to join Scotland Yard into looking at the allegations made against captain Salman Butt, Mohammed Amir, Mohammed Asif and wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal. 

While VN would not wish to pre-empt the conclusions of any ongoing investigation, the evidence seems pretty damning. The most worrying aspect is what has gone before, and will never be investigated? Were previous seemingly ‘freak’ incidents in the earlier tests actually paid for by a betting ‘Mr Big’? The betting markets in India and Pakistan are beyond what we could fathom here, you can spot bet on any incident for huge returns, and the less well paid cricketers from these nations are vulnerable to influence from big gamblers in their desire to make a quick buck.

The saddest case in this incident is that of Mohammed Amir. Amir is a massively talented 18 year old, but his career now hangs in the balance. If found guilty, he could face a life time ban. While such a punishment may be appropriate for the older, more experienced players, it would be a terrible loss to cricket to throw this young talent out of the game for good. 

Of course, one should not forget that while fixing incidents in a game is terrible, the match result was not, as far as we know, fixed. Furthermore, the upcoming one day series should go on as planned, but Butt, Akmal, Amir and Asif should not play while they are under investigation. 

In this test Lords witnessed one of the great battling batting partnerships as Jonathan Trott and Stuart Broad hit centuries to bring England back from the brink. Sadly, their achievements will forever overshadowed by the spectre of crickets latest betting scandal. 

August 27, 2010

>Prisons Minister comes out, aged 50


Picture courtesy of the Guardian

Conservative MP for Reigate, and the coalitions Prisons Minister Crispin Blunt has revealed that he is gay, and is consequently leaving his wife. 

In a statement Mr Blunt said:
“There is no third-party involvement but this is difficult for his immediate and wider family and he hopes for understanding and support for them. The family do not wish to make any further public comment and hope that their privacy will be respected as they deal with these difficult private issues.”

To come out age 50 is courageous, and it appears that Mr Blunt was dedicated to his family. Hopefully he, his wife Victoria, and their children, will be given more privacy and respect than they got from the Spectator’s editor Fraser Nelson who tweeted: ‘News is out. Impressive amount of libido in this government.’ This rather childish approach to a very personal issue has thankfully not been replicated by other politicos. 

At this time Crispin Blunt has opted to keep his role in the Government while he works out this personal issue.

August 26, 2010

>Breaking News: Champions League group draw

>The draw for the group stages of this years Champions League group stage has just finished in Monaco and is as follows:

Group A: Inter Milan, Werder Bremen, TOTTENHAM, FC Twente
Group B: Lyon, Benfica, Schalke, Hapoel Tel Aviv
Group C: MANCHESTER UNITED, Valencia, RANGERS, Bursaspor
Group D: FC Barcelona, Panathinaikos, FC Copenhagen, Rubin Kazan
Group E: Bayern Munich, AS Roma, FC Basel, CFR Cluj
Group F: CHELSEA, Marseille, Spartak Moscow, MSK Zilina
Group G: AC Milan, Real Madrid, Ajax, Auxerre
Group H: ARSENAL, Shakhtar Donetsk, SC Braga, FK Partisan

The draw could mean that all four English team get through. Spurs will face the toughest task, as the Champions League debutants will take on take on the current holders Inter. They do though have beatable opponents in am Ozil-lessWerder Bremen and FC Twente. Manchester United and Valencia should been too strong for Rangers and new boys Bursaspor. Chelsea and Arsenal should also face few problems, although both face inevitably uncomfortable trips to Eastern Europe.

The group that will attract most attention is the Brit-less group G. Mourinho’s Real Madrid were always a danger in this draw as they were seeded in pot 2 meaning they were going to meet another top team, which turned out to be AC Milan. With Ajax, and the difficult Auxerre, thrown into the mix this group has without doubt become the ‘group of death’.

August 18, 2010

>The first 100 days of the coalition

>It doesn’t seem possible that 100 days have passed since David Cameron walked through the doors of Downing Street, followed soon after by Nick Clegg. 105 Days ago, as the Liberal Democrats surveyed the rubble of a campaign that failed to capitalise on ‘Cleggomania’, they could hardly have imagined being in such a position.

Unsurprisingly, given the relative size of the parliamentary parties, policy has thus far leaned towards either the Conservatives, or areas on which there was already agreement. That said, the Lib Dems have secured critical progress on an area in which there was major disagreement, electoral reform. The referendum on fairer votes will be a crunch moment in the lifetime of this government.

On a range of issues, from the forthcoming ‘Great Repeal Act’ to cowboy wheel clampers, it has been  the Liberal Democrat’s who are the driving force.

I.D. cards, gone.
Contact Point, gone.
Child asylum seekers being kept behind bars, gone.

While the VAT rise may have made Vince wince, and Conservative immigration policy may have made Clegg cringe, on civil liberties and political reform the Lib Dems have taken the lead

Deputy Leader Simon Hughes today put forward a proposal whereby MPs get a veto on policy not in the coalition agreement. It is an interesting idea, and not without some merit. The ‘new politics’ is about debate and compromise, not simply ram-rodding through policy. Consultation will also help keep the Tory right and the Lib Dem left happy. If they feel they are having a say, and that the government isn’t simply being run by the One Orange Nation negotiation teams and ministers, they are more luckily to support the government in harder times. Coalition though, means no party can veer of to its flanks too greatly.

The Liberal Democrats did not win enough seats to get their full agenda into government, but neither did the Conservatives. Over the next 100 days the Liberal Democrats must keep fighting to get their agenda forward, but twitchy MPs and members must remember it is a lot easier to implement your agenda from government than opposition. If the first 100 days are anything to go by, the party will be making the difference on green issues, on political reform, on civil liberties, and on localism.

After all, aren’t they the reason people voted Liberal Democrat?

August 17, 2010

>What would YOU do if you were in charge for 2 weeks?


Deputy Prime Minister Nick CleggImage by The Prime Minister’s Office via Flickr

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is currently ‘the public face of the coalition’, although not in overall control ad No.10 has continually reiterated.

VN would probably organise a large drum ‘n’ bass rave and turn all traffic wardens into proper police officers.

But what would you, the readers, do if you were in charge for 2 weeks?  Post in the comment section. Your answers can be political or otherwise, but please keep them clean!

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August 17, 2010

>Spurs make Champions league debut

>Tonight Spurs will make their Champions League debut, against Young Boys of Bern in Switzerland. Not much is know about their opponents, and after an impressive start to the domestic league season against Manchester City, Spurs will start the game as favourites. However, they must avoid complacency and the feeling that they simply need to turn up to win.

Harry Redknapp has said this week that it wouldn’t be a disaster for Tottenham not to qualify for the group stage. VN normally wouldn’t dare argue with Lord Redknapp of the Lane, but on this occasion he is wrong. Having got so far, Spurs must finish off the job and be in the group stage proper.

It will be interesting to see which player get a run out, after an impressive burst from Gio Dos Santos, and a rest for Nico Kranckar at the weekend. Expect Big Tom Huddlestone and Luka Modric to dominate in midfield, with the slightly slower European game suiting them down to the ground.

Now, VN is obviously a neutral and highly unpartisan news souce, uhum, but just for once COME ON YOU SPURS. (“your fired”, Neutrality ED)

Final Score: Young Boys 1 Tottenham  Hotspur 3

August 17, 2010

>Lord Pearson stands down as UKIP leader


UKIP party logoImage via Wikipedia

Lord Pearson has decided to stand down as UKIP leader. In a rare move for a politician he admitted his inadequacies, saying that he isn’t “much good at party politics”. He says that UKIP “deserved a better politician…to lead it”. UKIP undoubtedly consider their general election campaign to be a disappointment, as they failed to muscle into the mainstream.

It is hard to see who could become the next leader of the party, as none of the member have a particularly strong media profile. 

Inevitably people are looking at former leader Nigel Farage, 
who survived a plane crash on polling day. Mr Farage has 
said he is as yet undecided whether he will stand again or not.

UKIP could of course join the Green party and have a female leader. 
Marta Andreasen is currently the parties treasurer, and has a fairly decent 
media profile. However, she is an MEP, and the grouping in which UKIP 
sit, the European People’s party,  has previously blocked her becoming its vice-Chair.

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August 16, 2010

>Anti-Blair bile says more about detractors than him

>Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has announced that the profits from his new book, The Journey, will be donated to the Royal British Legion. It will be the biggest single donation the organisation has ever received.

Many have used this as an opportunity to Blair bash, calling the donation blood money. This seems to be disingenuous in the extreme. No, Blair doesn’t need the money. Yes, there is no doubt that Blair has a very personal guilt for a rightly unpopular war. However, it would impossible for a political leader of a nation such as Britain to enter office, let alone leave it, without having the upmost respect for the armed forces they had command over. Political feeling about the war should not degrade the generosity, sincerity, and necessity, of giving to this very worthy cause. 

The book was always going to be controversial, but criticism of this most generous of donations seems to say more about his detractors than it does about Mr. Blair himself.

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