Frank Skinner joins forces with the Catholic Church to keep priests celibate
Frank Skinner is to defend priestly celibacy in a debate two days before Pope Benedict XVI visits Britain.
Frank Skinner forged his reputation through his laddish humour on television Photo: Stuart Clarke/ Rex Features
Frank Skinner made his name as the quintessential "new lad" whose comedy on such television programmes as Fantasy Football League was derided by critics as "crude and misogynistic".
The 53-year-old comedian has undergone such a transformation that he is to defend priestly celibacy alongside a Roman Catholic bishop in a debate in London two days before the visit of Pope Benedict XVI next month. Skinner, who lives with his long-term girlfriend Catherine Mason, will argue that celibacy should continue to be a requirement for Catholic priests.
The comedian, a practising Catholic, will be joined by Jack Valero, a spokesman for the controversial Catholic organisation Opus Dei, as well as a bishop and a priest.
They will debate against a team including Tina Beattie, a theologian, and Baroness Kennedy, a human rights lawyer. The debate will follow a screening of Conspiracy of Silence, a film about a priest who wishes to marry.
Last year, Skinner said he stopped going to Mass at 17 but returned to the faith after reading a book by the theologian Hans Küng.
At least he has some experience of celibacy. During the 1996 European Championships, he said he took such a vow to prove his devotion to football. "I’ll be living and breathing footie," he said. "No woman would put up with me.”
Tim Walker. Edited by Richard Eden
Published: 6:30AM BST 28 Aug 2010
France accused of turning blind eye to orlotan trappers
It has been described as the ultimate “barbaric pleasure” for gastronomes, to be eaten whole, bones and all after being drowned in Armagnac.
France?s League for the Protection of Birds estimates that 50,000 ortolans are trapped and killed each year as they alight in France while migrating from Eastern Europe to North Africa Photo: ALAMY
It was the late French President François Mitterrand’s “last supper”, who hid his head under a napkin to eat it in the traditional manner.
But the tiny ortolan songbird could become a large peck in the neck for the French government if French bird lovers get their way.
France’s League for the Protection of Birds hopes to have French authorities pronounced guilty of flouting a European ban on hunting the endangered species.
After long ignoring an EU directive protecting the skinny, sparrow-like birds, France three years ago promised to adopt a “zero tolerance” approach to poachers.
However the League says the government has this year tacitly agreed to turn a blind eye to orlatan trappers from August 20 to September 15. Last weekend, its president, Allain Bougrain-Dubourg freed 80 birds from traps in the Landes region of southwestern France, the seat of ortolan hunting tradition.
Henri Emmanuelli, the Socialist head of the regional council said he was no hunter but that “it’s a tradition for old people of the region”.
The League estimates that 50,000 ortolans are trapped and killed each year as they alight in France while migrating from Eastern Europe to North Africa. The prized birds can fetuch more than £120 each if sold illegally to restaurants.
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The UK’s biggest ever survey to find the most common butterfly in British gardens
The most common butterfly in British gardens this summer has been the small white, according to a new survey. Almost 30,000 of the creamy white butterflies were spotted across the country in one week between July 24 and August 1 as part of the UK’s first ever big butterfly count
Picture: JIM ASHER
Kent battle between German bomber crew and British soldiers marked after 70 years
A little-known skirmish between a downed German bomber crew and a group of British soldiers, the last ever military conflict to take place on British soil, is finally being marked 70 years after the event.
London Irish Regt training on Graveney Marsh in 1940 Photo: BNPS
Most history books have Bonny Prince Charlie’s 1746 defeat at Culloden as the final battle to occur in this country.
But the virtually unheard of Battle of Graveney Marsh in the Kent countryside 194 years later was actually the last action involving a foreign enemy.
The battle took place on September 27 1940 between the crew of a downed German bomber and a company of British soldiers who had been holed up in a pub.
Members of the London Irish Rifles were billeted at the Sportsman Inn in the coastal hamlet of Seasalter when the stricken Junkers 88 plane came down on Graveney Marsh.
Although the soldiers armed themselves, they fully expected the four-strong Luftwaffe crew to give themselves up without a fight. They were wrong.
As they approached the plane, the Germans opened fire with a machine gun.
The British servicemen hit the deck and returned fire, while a smaller group crawled along a dyke to get within 50 yards of the plane before they too started shooting.
There was a heavy exchange of fire before the Germans surrendered, with one of them being shot in the foot during the brief battle. Nobody was killed.
In a dramatic twist, commanding officer Captain John Cantopher overheard one of the captured crew mention in German that the plane should "go up" at any moment.
With that, he dashed back to the aircraft, located an explosive charge under one of the wings and threw it into a dyke, saving the prized aircraft for British engineers to examine.
Incredibly, the British even had a pint of beer with the German airmen back at the pub before the PoWs were picked up.
Now for the first time the Battle of Graveney Marsh will be officially remembered by a military organisation.
Next month, the London Irish Rifles Regimental Association will mark its 70th anniversary by unveiling a commemorative plaque at the pub which is still standing today.
Nigel Wilkinson, vice-chairman of the association, said: "Although it barely gets a mention in the history books Graveney Marsh was the last battle to take place on British soil involving a foreign enemy.
"At the time the aircraft was found to be a new marque and as it was only two weeks old it provided the Air Ministry with valuable intelligence.
"Of course the men of the London Irish Rifles spoke about the battle and for a time it went down in folklore within the regiment.
"But it seems to have been forgotten about. We were aware the 70th anniversary was coming up and thought it was about time that something was done to officially recognise and remember it.
"Because the men were billeted at the Sportsman, and the pub is still standing today, we thought a plaque that will serve as a permanent reminder was appropriate."
In the summer of 1940 the 1st Batallion London Irish Rifles was sent to Kent and deployed on coastal defence duties following the Dunkirk evacuation.
As the threat of invasion by the Germans eased, their task changed to capturing any enemy aircrew brought down in the Kent countryside.
On September 27 a Junkers 88 bomber was attacked by two Spitfires over Faversham following a raid on London.
One of its engines had already been knocked out by anti-aircraft fire when the second was put out of action by the Spitfires.
The pilot, Unteroffizer Fritz Ruhlandt, crash landed on Graveney Marsh, which was seen by elements of A Company who were in the pub.
According to the regiment’s official records, Capt Cantopher then arrived at the hostelry to inspect the men.
The record states that Sergeant Allworth explained he had sent the men to the downed aircraft.
It reads: "’They took arms I hope,’ Cantopher said.
The sergeant broke off. Sounds of machine gun fire could be heard.
‘It looks as if they should have done,’ commented Cantopher. ‘Forget the inspection, I am going over there. Bring some of your men with rifles and ammo.’"
Mr Wilkinson said: "On approaching the aircraft the men were fired on by the German crew with the aircraft’s two machine guns.
"The London Irishmen got into attack formation and having laid down heavy rifle fire on the aircraft mounted an assault of the Junkers across the marsh.
"By now the enemy air crew had been wounded by the rifle fire and decided to surrender.
"It was at this stage that Captain Cantopher came on the scene. As the prisoners were being taken away Cantopher heard one of them say that ‘the aircraft would go up anytime now’.
"He ran back to the Junkers and after a nerve-wracking search located the device and disarmed it. Cantopher was awarded the George Medal for his bravery."
Corporal George Willis, 90, the regiment’s piper, was in the Sportsman when the men returned with the Germans.
George, from Greenwich, south east London, said: "The men were in good spirits and came into the pub with the Germans. We gave the Germans pints of beer in exchange for a few souvenirs.
"I got a set of enamel Luftwaffe wings."
It is expected that 60 members of the London Irish Rifles Regimental Association will attend the event at Seasalter, near Whitstable, on Sunday, September 26.
There will be parade in front of the association’s president, Major General Corran Purdon, who won the Military Cross for the famous raid on St Nazaire and was imprisoned in Colditz.
There will then be a drum head service before the unveiling of the plaque.
Phone User ‘Killed By His Exploding Mobile’
6 hours 49 mins ago
A man has been killed in India after the mobile phone he was using exploded, according to reports.
Phone User ‘Killed By His Exploding Mobile’ Enlarge photo
The victim, named as 23-year-old Gopal Gujjar, suffered serious injuries to his right ear, neck and shoulders.
There were no witnesses to the incident – but it was assumed he was talking on his Nokia when the blast happened in the northern state of Rajasthan.
His body was found along with the remains of the phone and battery near his farm in Banda village, Kota, reported the Times of India.
Police believe he was killed by the device after discovering pieces of the Nokia 1209 handset, a basic model released in August 2008, scattered nearby.
The victim had gone into a forest to tend to his grazing cattle around noon and his body was recovered later that night.
The Times of India said it was probably the first incident in the country where a mobile phone had exploded while it was not being charged.
In January this year, a 27-year-old housewife in Kadapa was killed while she was talking to her husband using a Chinese-made mobile and charging it at the same time.
Deaths due to mobile phone explosions have been reported in countries such as China, South Korea and Nepal.
However, the South Korean incident was later exposed as a hoax.
:: Sky News Online was waiting a response from Nokia to news of the reported death.
Third of adults ‘still take teddy bear to bed’
More than a third of adults still hug a childhood soft toy while falling asleep, according to a new survey.
Teddy bears ”evoke a sense of peace, security and comfort” Photo: REX FEATURES
More than half of Britons still have a teddy bear from childhood and the average teddy bear is 27 years old, the poll found.
Travelodge, the hotel chain, surveyed 6,000 British adults and found that respondents said sleeping with a teddy a “comforting and calming” way to end the day.
The survey also found that 25 per cent of men said they even took their teddy away with them on business because it reminded them of home.
Travelodge said that in the past year staff have reunited more than 75,000 teddies and their owners.
Spokesman Shakila Ahmed said: “Interestingly the owners have not just been children, we have had a large number of frantic businessmen and women call us regarding their forgotten teddy bear.”
Corrine Sweet, a psychologist, said cuddling a teddy bear was an ‘important part of our national psyche’.
She said: “It evokes a sense of peace, security and comfort. It’s human nature to crave these feelings from childhood to adult life.
“It’s not surprising, then, that taking a teddy bear on a business trip is popular. As a bedtime bear evokes feelings of home, warmth, and can help you nod off – just like in babyhood.”
The study also found that the traditional teddy bear was the most popular cuddly toy among adults, with Winnie the Pooh second and Paddington Bear third.
Why dormice are set to stop a £12m Morrison’s supermarket project
The humble dormouse is potentially standing in the way of the development of a £12m Morrison’s supermarket in Wadebridge, Cornwall.
Dormice set to stop a £12m Morrisons supermarket project
Morrisons, one of three retailers proposing sites around the town, wants to build a store on the local football club ground.
To gain permission it has offered to provide a replacement ground at nearby Bodieve. But the possibility that dormice, a European Protected Species, are inhabiting that site has led planning officers to recommend the council refuse permission.
The local planning officer said the football club development should be refused as "there is a reasonable likelihood of dormice being present".
Although no dormice have been found, they have been spotted 2km away. The local planning committee meets to rule on Morrisons’ application on Thursday.
Stephen Frankel, a spokesman for campaign group Love Wadebridge, said: "These companies are very powerful. They want to ignore us, but it seems they cannot ignore our dormice."
Morrisons said it had commissioned a local ecologist to carry out a dormouse survey. It said it had asked Cornwall Council to defer its decision on its planning application until the survey had been completed.
A spokesperson said: "At this stage, no evidence has been produced to show there is a dormouse presence on the site. However, our scheme, should it be granted consent, would provide for a significant amount of new dormouse habitat."
By Sarah Butler
Published: 6:30AM BST 11 Aug 2010
Top 20 ways to live longer
Living longer is one of the greatest benefits of leading a healthy active lifestyle and life expectancy for both men and women has continued to rise with improvements in diet, awareness and medical care.…
Posted By Realbuzz, Wed 04 Aug, 2010 10:43AM BST
To ensure that you are one of those helping boost future life expectancy figures we have prepared a list of 20 great tips to help with putting off the inevitability of death for as long as possible…
1. Laugh more
Research states that laughter may be beneficial to health. Laughing appears to boost the blood flow (by more than 20%) and researchers say it may reduce the risk of developing heart disease. Laughing has previously been found to help fight infections, relieve hay fever, ease pain and help control diabetes. The positive effect of laughing is thought to last around 30-45 minutes.
2. Adjust sleeping time
Life expectancy may be reduced by sleeping more than eight hours a night. A study found that people who get only six to seven hours sleep a night live longer than those who sleep eight hours or more, or less than four hours.
3. Eat more garlic
Garlic has been referred to as ‘nature’s antibiotic’. It is a powerful cleanser of the body and regular ingestion promotes a healthy heart and circulation by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. It also helps fight infection and can boost immunity. There is strong evidence to suggest that garlic helps with the prevention of cancers of the digestive system, including the oesophagus, stomach, colon and rectum. Those who don’t like the taste of garlic should try the odourless supplements that are available.
4. Boost your sex life
Having sex between three to four times a week is thought to reduce the risk of having a heart attack or stoke in half. During sex, the average person maintains their heart rate above 70% of the maximum, making sex a wonderful CV workout! Sex reduces stress, leads to greater contentment and better sleep.
5. Drink tea
Many bodies of research support the view that tea is good for your health. Scientists tend to agree that tea, both black and green, may contribute positively to the promotion of health and the prevention of chronic disease. Recent research studies reveal the antioxidants in tea may inhibit the growth of cancer cells, support dental health, increase bone density and strengthen cardiovascular health. According to a study published in Circulation: The Journal of the American Heart Association, heart attack patients who were tea drinkers decreased their risk of death by up to 44%, as compared to non-tea drinkers.
6. Drink red wine
Any excuse to drink more has got to be good! Recent studies show that drinking around one glass of red wine a day may have certain health benefits by protecting against certain cancers and heart disease, and can have a positive effect on cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Excessive or binge drinking, however, unfortunately doesn’t produce the same benefits.
7. Regular self examination
For women this means regularly examining their breasts, and while breast cancer is not unknown among men, males should regularly check their testicles for lumps. It is important to get to know how your body parts normally feel and look, and report any changes, such as a lump, to your doctor. More often than not, lumps prove to be benign, and these types of cancer are usually curable if they’re caught early enough.
8. Have regular smears/prostate tests
Women will usually be called once every three years for a smear test, and should make sure they attend when requested. Cervical screening probably prevents around 2,500 deaths a year in the UK. Prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in men and is second only to lung cancer as the biggest cancer killer. There are varying viewpoints about how often men should have a test and at what age. Testing should start at the age of 50, or at the age of 40 if in high-risk groups, such as black men or those with a father, brother or son with the disease. However, if you have any concerns go and visit your doctor.
9. Monitor your toilet behaviour
Any dramatic change in bowel habits such as an increase in constipation, or passing blood should be referred to a doctor immediately. It could prove be something as simple as piles (haemorrhoids), or worse case scenario could be bowel cancer, which is important to discover as early as possible.
10. Drink more water
Most people are unaware that the recommendation is that the average person should drink around eight glasses of water a day. The human body is made up of between 55 and 75% water, and is in need of constant water replenishment. An increased intake of water will greatly enhance digestion‚ nutrient absorption‚ skin hydration‚ detoxification and virtually every aspect of better health.
11. Get more friends
Research suggests that friends help people live longer. Research in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health says that socialising with friends is beneficial. Good friends will promise to be there for you, and their presence can actually help you live longer, researchers say. Australian scientists said having friends around in old age can do more for life expectancy than having family members around, and that friends may encourage people to look after their health, and help reduce feelings of depression and anxiety at difficult times.
12. No smoking
Everyone is aware of the potential catastrophic effect of smoking. It is better not to start at all, but the sooner a smoker quits, the better. Because the damage caused by smoking is cumulative, the longer a person smokes the greater the risk of developing a smoking-related disease, such as lung cancer or heart disease. Quitting not only saves money, but also has added health benefits. Within one year after quitting, the risk of a heart attack falls to about half that of a smoker, and within ten years, the risk of lung cancer falls to about half that of a smoker. In Britain, about 120,000 a year die through smoking – that’s more than 300 every day.
Relaxation reduces blood pressure and helps reduce stress-related conditions such as depression. A relaxation technique such as yoga or meditation can help reduce stress levels.
14. Get a pet
Owning a pet has a surprising amount of health benefits for the owner, according to a series of studies. Ownership of a pet, particularly a dog, means people are more active. Animals are known to reduce anxiety both from the actual physical comfort from stroking them, but also because they are a distraction and something pleasant to focus on. They are also good friends to many and provide a source of amusement, making us laugh.
15. Exercise more
Exercise is known to reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, diabetes and obesity. It keeps joints, tendons and ligaments flexible, and contributes to mental well-being by helping treat depression, relive stress and anxiety. Exercise also aids better sleep. Even if you are pushed for time, exercise could be gained simply by walking up stairs rather than taking the lift, or even try walking or cycling on shorter journeys rather than taking the car.
16. Eat more fruit and vegetables
Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can help ward off heart disease and stroke, control blood pressure and cholesterol, and prevent some types of cancer. It is recommended to eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables a day.
17. Change job
Research suggests a strong relationship between how long people live and the nature of their jobs. According to UK Government statistics, for the period 1997-99, life expectancy at birth in England and Wales for males in the professional group was 7.4 years more than that for those in the unskilled manual groups. The gap between the social classes was smaller for women than for men, at 5.7 years.
18. Have a happy marriage
Married people tend to have better health than unmarried people. For instance, married individuals tend to be able to have lower rates of alcoholism than their unmarried counterparts because they tend to offer encouragement, support, and protection from daily problems. They are also more able to handle stress better as a result. However, studies suggest that divorcing then remarrying actually increases the risk of dying prematurely.
19. Be optimistic
People with a positive outlook on life can actually live longer. Researchers found that optimistic people decreased their risk of early death by 50% compared with those who leaned more towards pessimism.
20. Eat chocolate
Chocolate contains flavanoids and antioxidants which have positive health benefits. Flavanoids aid cardiovascular health, while antioxidants are believed to prevent or delay certain damage to the body’s cells and tissues. Dark chocolate is considered best as it contains more than twice as many antioxidants as a bar of milk chocolate, and has fewer calories.