Archive for March 2012
Pioneering banjo player Earl Scruggs, who is credited with helping create modern country music, has died aged 88.
The musician died of natural causes at a Nashville hospital on Wednesday, his son Gary said.
Scruggs was known for his unique banjo playing technique, which involved just three fingers. It later became known as “the Scruggs picking style”.
His innovative method can be heard on the theme tune to the 1962 series The Beverly Hillbillies.
Scruggs rose to prominence when Bill Monroe hired him to play in the Blue Grass Boys, one of the defining groups in the bluegrass musical genre.
Hollywood actor and fellow banjo player Steve Martin previously paid tribute to Scruggs in the New Yorker newspaper.
Conservative Party co-treasurer Peter Cruddas offered access to the prime minister and chancellor for £250,000, the Sunday Times has alleged.
It has footage of him apparently making the offer to undercover reporters.
London-based Mr Cruddas was appointed Tory co-treasurer in June 2011 and is the founder of online trading company Currency Management Consultants Ltd.
The Conservative Party said it would investigate but pointed out no donation had actually been accepted.
In the footage, Mr Cruddas is heard discussing what access different size donations would get.
“Two hundred grand to 250 is Premier League… what you would get is, when we talk about your donations the first thing we want to do is get you at the Cameron/Osborne dinners,” he says.
On one side of the fence are women in habits and wimples who have taken vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
On the other side of that fence, if a developer gets his way, will be women in G-strings in the business of nudity, dollars and prurience.
The scene for the clash between these two competing visions of femininity is a retirement home for nuns in Chicago’s western suburbs, which is scheduled to have soon as a neighbor a giant $3 million strip club.
Get It gentlemen’s club is on track to open this spring in the 5,000-resident village of Stone Park, Ill., just feet from the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo’s retirement home.
“When you come out of the back of the chapel, you can see the facility,” said Peter Breen, executive director of the Thomas More Society. “When they have given their entire lives to teach those children of Stone Park — after a lifetime of service to their faith — these sisters’ reward in their retirement years is to be in constant view of the large pornographic palace.”
Actor Robert De Niro has apologised for a quip he made at a Democratic fundraiser that the US might not be ready for “a white first lady”.
The Raging Bull star was introducing the First Lady, Michelle Obama, at an event in New York.
“My remarks, although spoken with satirical jest, were not meant to offend or embarrass anyone – especially the first lady,” he said.
Republican candidate Newt Gingrich called the remarks “inexcusable”.
During his introduction at Monday’s fundraiser, De Niro, 68, alluded to Mr Gingrich’s wife, Callista.
“Callista Gingrich, Karen Santorum, Ann Romney. Now do you really think our country is ready for a white first lady? Too soon, right?” he told the audience.
Welfare-to-work firm A4e knew of widespread potential fraud and systematic failures by management to control it, a leaked document suggests.
BBC Newsnight has obtained the results of a confidential 2009 internal audit of work by A4e’s top recruiters.
The auditors found examples of staff claiming for putting people into jobs which did not exist, jobs which did not qualify for payment and fabricating paperwork to back up claims.
A4e has so far declined to comment.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which was passed a copy of the leaked document, said: “A 2009 A4e internal audit and risk document, relating to programmes contracted by the previous government, has today been passed to the department.
“The Work and Pensions Select Committee was made aware of this audit at the time and the department later received assurances from A4e that it had not uncovered any major issues.
“When an allegation of attempted fraud was recently made in relation to a current Mandatory Work Activity contract with A4e we immediately announced a formal investigation of that allegation. Alongside that, we announced we would commence a separate and independent audit of our current contractual relationship with the company.
“That process is ongoing, and while the internal A4e document relates to programmes delivered by the previous government, our investigation into current contracts will ensure the issues this report raises have been fully addressed.”
Earlier this month the DWP launched an investigation into A4e’s work, saying that the department had been made aware of an allegation of attempted fraud in relation to a contract with the firm.
The company has denied wrongdoing, saying at the time that it took any allegations of fraudulent or illegal activity extremely seriously.
Police were already investigating claims of irregularities at the company, which was paid £200m a year by the government for training the unemployed and getting them into long-term jobs.
Earlier on Tuesday a fifth person was arrested in connection with the police investigation into allegations of fraud at A4e’s Slough offices dating back to 2010.
Four ex-members of A4e staff were arrested in January.
In February, entrepreneur Emma Harrison stepped down as the head of A4e and quit her role as the government’s “family champion” amid the police investigation.
According to the leaked confidential document obtained by Newsnight, in July 2009 A4e’s own audit and risk department examined the work of its top 20 recruiters, looking at 20% of their work, which equated to examining the files of 224 clients.
The jobs A4e was arranging were supposed to last at least 13 weeks and employers needed to sign a form confirming the job was real and that the employee would be working a minimum of 16 hours a week.
The Peabody hotel in Memphis has started a blog to trace the activities of the facility’s famous ducks.Five North American mallards live at the hotel and march daily from their rooftop home to a marble fountain at the center of the grand lobby. It’s been a tradition at the 464-room luxury hotel since 1940.The blog also will discuss ducks at the Peabody Hotel Group’s other properties in Little Rock, Ark., and Orlando, Fla.It’s at http://peabodyduckmaster.com/