Anti-Putin activist charged with plotting protest

You can see the video for this article on the euronews website here

Russian opposition leader, Sergei Udaltsov has been formally charged with plotting mass disorder.

The anti-Putin activist remained defiant as he entered the headquarters of the Russian Federal Investigative Committee – which is modelled on the FBI in the USA – but if convicted he faces up to 10 years in prison.

He is accused of seeking funds from Georgia to stoke Unrest in Russia. The allegations were first brought by a pro-Kremlin documentary, but critics say it is just part of a government clampdown on anti-Putin protest.

Torture

It was earlier reported that one of his associates, Leonid Razvozzhayev, was snatched off the street in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev last Friday and brought back to Moscow.

He made a confession implicating Udatsov but later repealed it claiming it had been made under torture.

Protest

Speaking to reporters Sergei Udaltsov said: “This case is based on torture, it’s shameful, it hurts the Russian image. If somebody expected me to run across the border like a scared dog – they will not see this. I have not committed a crime.”

The shaven-headed opposition leader who leads the Left Front Coalition has been at the front of a series of sanctioned protests in the Russian capital, prompted by allegations of fraud in December’s parliamentary election which was won by Putin’s United Russia Party.

I saw Noel Gallagher

A little while ago I went to see Bob Dylan play live and despite him being one of my heroes I left feeling quite disappointed. I got the impression he was just going through the motions and didn’t really care about being there. The only thing I could take away from that gig was at least I had seen him with my own two eyes.

The contrast when I saw Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds play earlier last week was amazing. He too is the sort of figure who could sell out a venue with very little effort but it turned out to be one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to. To start with the people at the Transbordeur in Lyon, France had got the sound and lighting perfect.

And things started out very well when this chap came on stage:

Supporting act Jake Bugg is still very young but full of stage presence and he can play the guitar like a demon.

He takes his influences from folk artists of Dylan’s era and he has produced some really nice songs of that ilk with a modern twist. At the time of writing his single “Taste It” is being given away for free on iTunes (Log in on your own UK itunes account to find it) So I strongly recommend that you check him out.

After that performance by a young hopeful I was half expecting a lackluster performance from an established artist just turning up for a payday, but from the moment he walked on stage I realised how wrong I was. With the enthusiastic but tame French crowd all chanting No-el! No-el! No-el! he came on stage and immediately showed his true star quality.

The man who has been awarded the 2012 Godlike Genius award by NME then wowed the audience with a collection of new songs such as the hard hitting Freaky Teeth:

And unlike Dylan, Gallagher really took the time to interact with the audience throughout the gig, although he kept the same confrontational style that Oasis were known for – he threw out a few insults with a twinkle in his eye – and the audience loved it.

He also struck the right balance between old and new, playing some of his contemporary songs but knowing the audience will also be filled with diehard Oasis fans it lead to some really magical moments:

At the end of the gig a humble Noel Gallagher came forward and thanked the audience who had all been treated to a fantastic evening.

I hope you’ll take two things away from this article, check out Jake Bugg and go and see this Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds live. You won’t regret it.

John Terry helps Felix Baumgartner to diving success

Unseen by the long distance cameras Felix Baumgartner was not alone when he made the world’s highest ever skydive.

Helping him throughout the whole process was former England and Chelsea captain John Terry.

31-year-old Terry recently ended his international career but that hasn’t stopped him from going to new heights in his quest for success.

In a show of devotion for his club, he made the 39 km skydive at the same time as Baumgartner but without a protective suit or oxygen supply. Instead he sported the full Chelsea kit (including shin pads).

Fun at the airport

I have recently been traveling around doing a few bits and pieces. On my way back to France I found myself at London’s Gatwick Airport with some time to spare, so I stopped for some lunch at Café Rouge.

As I was waiting and looking at all of the planes go by, I thought I may as well take out the cameras I had in my hand luggage (Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ7 and DMC-FZ28) and took a few shots. Here’s the result, hope you like it.

Edited with Final Cut Pro
Music: Magna Carta – Airport Song As Universal Music Group got upset with me using their song and restricted my video I had to change the music to some free dance music offered by YouTube. It is the first time I saw this option, and I think it’s really quite good!

What if they were a nation?

When American swimming legend Michael Phelps won his astonishing number of Olympic medals I heard and read a lot of people asking: ‘if he were a nation on his own, where would he come in the medals table?”

This question quite easy to answer, the nation of Michael Phelps would have come 16th in 2004 with six golds and two silvers just behind the hosts, Greece and just ahead of next years hosts Brazil. In Beijing where he won eight gold medals he would have been 10th and this year with four golds and two silver medals he would have finished 20th.

In 2008 and 2012 his personal results didn’t change Team USA’s place in the medals table, but in 2004 the USA led China by 35 gold medals to 32, meaning that his personal medals were crucial to claim the top spot.

But with a medal haul like this, there were dozens of Athletes, competing individually or as part of teams who were also essential for this result. But how would it feel to single handedly raise your country’s position in the ranking in the Olympic games?

Well at London 2012 there were a small group of Athletes who did just that. By winning gold medals for their country these athletes single handedly took their country from dead last to 50th in the standings.

These were; Taoufik Makhloufi of Algeria who won the 1500m and Stephen Kiprotich, Uganda, Men’s marathon champion. Kirani James won Grenada’s only medal with gold in the 400 metres and Ruben Limardo Gascon, who won a fencing gold for Venezuela.

I think special considerations have to be given to Rohullah Nikpah Afghanistan’s only medallist, who won Bronze in Taekwondo. When he achieved this feat at the 2008 games, he returned home to a heroes welcome. Also Afghan President, Hamid Karzai rewarded him with a car, a house and other luxuries at the government’s expense, as he stood as a symbol of peace in the country. I imagine he was similarly rewarded for achieving this feat a second time.

In the next few days I’m going to try to contact these athletes to see how their lives changed as a result of winning medals. Stay tuned.

A clean win for Wiggins?

There have been doping allegations at Tour de France since the race began in 1903, and even Tour legend, seven times winner Lance Armstrong is under investigation and risks being stripped of all his titles.

While huge efforts have been made to clean up the sport, there is always a question mark over any rider’s head when he dominates a race. I sincerely believe that Wiggins is a clean rider but a friend recently told me of the theory that a sign of a rider taking drugs can be shown up by a sudden improvement in form, so I looked at Wiggins’ record at the tour, over the last few years.

2007: Wiggins racing for Cofidis won the combativity award on stage six for a long solo breakaway. On the 16th stage he was ranked 131st when his team was forced to withdraw after team mate Cristian Moreni tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone and the the whole team were led away by police. Wiggins spoke out against dopers on the tour and vowed to never ride for Cofidis again.

2008: Wiggins had turned his attention to track racing. He won three gold medals at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships. At the Beijing Olympics he won the pursuit, the first rider to successfully defend a pursuit title at the Olympics. He was also part of the Olympic pursuit team which won gold and broke the world record.

2009: Now riding for US team, Garmin – Slipstream, Wiggins went into the tour de France six kilos lighter after a grueling Giro d’Italia where he finished 71st. He went on to surprise everyone by finishing fourth at the Tour de France. Equalling the highest finish for a British rider set by Robert Millar in 1984.

2010: Wiggins became a team leader for the first time at Team Sky, he improved on his Giro d’Italia performance finishing 40th and went into the Tour de France full of confidence. He had a disappointing tour however, struggling a lot throughout the middle phase and in the end could only manage 24th, 4 seconds behind 23rd placed Lance Armstrong and 38 minutes 45 seconds behind the winner Andy Schleck. Originally Spanish rider Alberto Contador had finished first by 39 seconds but was later stripped of the title after testing positive for the drug clenbuterol.

2011: Again at the helm of Team Sky, he decided against competing in the Giro d’Italia putting all his focus on the Tour de France. In his last competition before starting the tour he won the British National Road Race Championships. Wiggins started strong at the 2011 Tour de France and was placed Sixth at the end of stage Six, 10 seconds off the lead. But in stage Seven he crashed and broke his collarbone ending his chances for that year.

Do you think cycling has cleaned up its act? Or do you believe it’s a sport in which you have to cheat to win? Vote in the poll and leave your comments below:

I saw Bob Dylan!

So here is a little video from the Bob Dylan concert last night, (actually filming and taking photographs was strictly forbidden so that’s why it has a slight pirate video  feel about it!)

After the gig a few people were disappointed saying that the sound mix was awful, Dylan hit a lot of bum notes on the piano and harmonica and even his most famous songs were unrecognisable. He seemed not to make much effort to connect to the audience, and his voice is shot. Even I, as a native English speaker struggled to hear what he was singing – and I use the word singing in the loosest possible sense – so I feel sorry for the majority of French people in the audience.

That said, I enjoyed every second of it! I’m not a huge Dylan fan, and only know a handful of his most famous songs, but he is a man I can’t ever remember not knowing. He’s always been in my universe, on magazines, documentaries, on the radio, even cinema. When I started learning the guitar, Blowin’ in the wind and These times are a changin’ were in the first two or three songs I learnt and I must have played each of them hundreds of times.

He is so often spoken of as the greatest singer-songwriter who ever lived, and there I was sitting in the Roman amphitheater in Lyon, and this figure walks on stage, and I just felt a chill. Is this the man who’s now achieved an almost god-like status? Who so many musicians set out to be? A real life living legend?! Actually no on closer inspection it was his bass player walking out…

But then someone else came on, and my god it was really him this time! I was seeing the Bob Dylan with my own two eyes, and it was wonderful, and from that moment, I was just going to enjoy it, no matter what – and by the way he performed I think he knew that.

But even if the the sound wasn’t great… it’s in the verb. You go to see a concert not to listen to it, and I can now say ‘I have seen Bob Dylan!’ Live! and I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. Take a look at the video and tell me what you think…

Bastille Day fireworks, Lyon

So I went out to see the festivities on Bastille day in France, and I didn’t see a lot worth writing home about so to speak, although I thought this group playing in front of the river were quite good so I took a little video.

Just after this I met up with some friends and headed to the top deck of a boat, from where we could grab a beer and watch the fireworks, a really nice evening.

Guest pulls out gun live on Jordanian TV

A great moment on Jordanian television. Two political figures debating and trading insults on live TV, then one of them snaps, firstly throwing his shoe then pulling out a gun to threaten his opponent.

Two things surprise me about this footage. Firstly to see how crap the TV studio is – when the table gets flipped it looks like it is made of cardboard – and secondly that both the presenter and the opponent seem to be angry but quite unafraid of the gun, perhaps this is common occurrence in Jordan? I’m quite sure I would have legged it out of there, or found some way to calm things down, or just wet myself, but the other guy continues to square up to him. Bravery or stupidity? You decide.

 

The hopes of a nation on Andy Murray’s shoulders

It has been decades since the last home grown player even made it into the final, but can he take the extra step ending years of misery for British fans?

You have to go back to before the Second World War, 1936, and the era of Fred Perry to find the last time a Briton won the men’s singles final at Wimbledon.

In a different time Perry ruled the lawns a Wimbledon and claimed the title against German aristocrat, Gottfried Von Cramm, and since then home fans have been waiting.

Now the stage is set, but can Murray end 76 years of hurt? It will be a tough challenge as he is taking on Roger Federer, one of the sport’s most decorated players who will not give him an easy ride.

The 30-year-old Swiss has his own records to set, a win here will see him with the most weeks ranked at number one, and see him equal the record of seven Wimbledon titles, adding to his already record 16 grand slams. He is also aiming for his first major win since the Australian open, which he won against Andy Murray in 2010.

Olympic Torch video

I had to go back to England for a few days and while I was there the Olympic torch was passing not too far from me. So I woke up nice and early and went to the town of Rugby, best known for its world famous school, which is the birthplace of Rugby Football and also known from books such as Tom Brown’s school days and Flashman.

While I was there I captured the event on my little camera. Take a look:

 

Lyon Music Festival / Fête de la Musique

World Music Day takes place on June 21 on the day of the summer solstice.  Its aim is to promote music, and on this night amateur and professional musicians perform in the streets. Free concerts are organised to expose people to a wide variety of different genres of music. The first was organised in Paris in 1982, and it is now celebrated in 32 countries around the world.

In Lyon hundreds of concerts take place throughout the city featuring local groups as well as international artists. Although I only got home from work at midnight on this night, I still managed to dash out with my little Lumix camera and take some videos around Vieux Lyon where I live. It’s really a fantastic night with something to discover on nearly every corner. For the moment I only have Windows Movie Maker to edit with but I’ve made do. Let me know what you think:

England go through on top

It was – as I predicted – a tough game, and it was Wayne Rooney who scored the scrappy winning goal following his two match suspension. It wasn’t pretty to watch however and the game could have gone either way. Joe Hart has made some cracking saves tonight as he has throughout the competition, and the team have a lot to thank him for.

As you can maybe see from the photo, I caught the game at one of Lyon’s ex-pat pubs, and just through the doorway you can barely make out, was the French game. Losing 2 – 0 to Sweden is not a great result ahead of taking on the favourites – Spain. So I’m sure for France barring a miracle they know it’s already the end.

As for us, we take on Italy in the next round. It’ll be hard and I know we’ve got play a lot better than we did tonight, but I have faith. Good night all.

Reporter gets pwned by Dutch fans

Just a few hours away England will take on Ukraine to try for their place in the final eight in Euro 2012. At work today I think I can see defeat on the faces of my Ukrainian colleagues already, as they have resigned to the fact they’re going out.

Or actually despite my bluff it’s far from sure, especially following the last games from group A where Greece got through knocking out Russia, after seeing that anything is possible. Although as we finally have Rooney in our line up I’m quietly (or not so quietly) confident.

However it’s not all fun and games at Euro 2012, and I’d like to use this post to highlight the plight of less fortunate… Ukrainian reporters. All this poor girl is trying to do is make a piece to camera for the local news, but surrounded by Dutch fans – who at the time still think they’re in with a chance – it’s just not happening. Truly awful… Truly funny.