In what is being described as a "bizarre, tragic accident," an off-duty police constable and his TV engineer partner were both killed over the weekend after plunging 20 feet into a construction site. The London Evening Standard has the story:
An official source confirmed to the Standard that the men (Gavin Brewer-left and Stuart Meads-right) had leaned on boards round the building site on the corner of Hampstead Road and Netley Street. The boards then gave way.
The men fell into the hole - believed to be an uncovered roof light for a basement flat - and suffered fatal injuries. London Ambulance Service said both were pronounced dead at the scene.
Today their families both described the deaths at about 2:30 last Saturday as a "bizarre, tragic accident".
The Health and Safety Executive is investigating and the Met Police, which said officers were called to reports of two men arguing, is treating the deaths as "unexplained". Mr. Meads's father Stephen, of Egham in Surrey, told the Standard: "Stuart was a wonderful son and is a huge loss to our family. We are in shock. It is a very difficult time."
Stephen Baker, a friend of Mr. Meads, said the couple had been drinking Friday night but stressed that there was no question of attributing blame to them. He added:
"They were a wonderful couple. They clearly cared for each other a great deal. They had just come back from a tour of Europe. They were very happy and in love, by all accounts."
Post-mortem examinations were scheduled to take place at noon today and inquests to open on Friday or Monday.
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Victor Mendolia and current Mayor William Hallenbeck Jr. are fighting a tough campaign for the mayorship of Hudson, New York, a heavily Democratic city which nonetheless provided the Republcian Hallenbeck a victory during a 2011 campaign. But according to a post on Mendolia's campaign website, the campaign seem to have taken an ugly turn:
Bubbling just beneath the surface of this year's campaign for Mayor in Hudson has been Mayor Hallenbeck's surrogates raising questions about my health due to my HIV+ status and trashing me for accessing disability benefits for which I am legally and legitimately qualified. Up until now, I had no indication that the Mayor was actually driving this.
Mendolia goes on to share an excerpt of a letter he received from a worker at Providnce Hall, a center for senior and disabled care:
Just want to let you know that Hallenbeck has told a Schuyler Court resident that you have aids [sic]. The residents at Providence Hall told me he was here last night to speak and told them also that you have aids [sic] and that you are on disability. He also told them since he was a police officer years ago, that he got lots of information on you and that they would be shocked if they knew what you did. So he is spreading this crap. What a jerk he is.
Mendolia is both openly gay and openly HIV-positive. And in his posting, the mayoral candidate proudly defends his HIV status:
I do not see my health struggle as a disadvantage. To the contrary, I see it as something which enables me to see more clearly, the obstacles that others face. Hudson is an amalgamation of many things. We are a city facing new prosperity after a long decline. We are a city of rich and poor and of able bodied people along with the elderly, sick and differently abled. That is why I recently joined the board of the AIDS Council of Northeastern NY and why I have met with many of Hudson's service providers in many fields. To better understand what is working for Hudson's residents and what isn't. My experience and my search for solutions gives me insight into the struggles that many people face. Insight which, in my opinion, my opponent does not possess.
In a statement regarding the incident, Mendolia said, "I am very disheartened to see the Mayor stoop so low. He has little record to stand on, refuses to come before the voters to discuss his agenda in a debate, and now this. It's sad that he would choose this path instead of standing on his record. But he has no plan for Hudson and he is desperate."
As thousands of gay rights supporters rallied in Springfield yesterday in the hopes of pressuring hold-out members of the House to reconsider marriage equality legislation, a planned prayer vigil inside the city's largest Catholic church was squashed following a warning from the head of the Springfield Catholic Diocese that those wearing a rainbow sash would not be permitted in.
In a statement calling the plan "blasphemous," Bishop Thomas John Paprocki (pictured right) said that those praying the rosary for marriage equality would not be allowed to enter the church:
"It is blasphemy to show disrespect or irreverence to God or to something holy. Since Jesus clearly taught that marriage as created by God is a sacred institution between a man and a woman (see Mathew 19:4-6 and Mark 10:6-9), praying for same-sex marriage should be seen as blasphemous and as such will not be permitted in the cathedral," he wrote.
Rick Garcia, a longtime gay rights advocate and political director for The Civil Rights Agenda, blasted Paprocki's comments, saying they were in stark contrast to Pope Francis' recent call for the Catholic Church to work on becoming more inclusive.
"This is the first time in all of my years of coming here that I see police officers in front of this church..." Garcia said. "It angers me because I'm a life-long Catholic. That a bishop would say this about me or my people is outrageous."
Meanwhile, the fate of the marriage equality legislation appears to still be up in the air, according to The Southern Illinoisan:
But, despite a raucous crowd and a big-name line-up of speakers including U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, Gov. Pat Quinn, Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, the proposal appears to remain short of the needed 60 votes to become law.
The measure's chief sponsor, state Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago (pictured right), told reporters he has not yet scheduled the measure for a vote during the six-day veto session, which began Tuesday "I hesitate to talk about timing or roll calls," Harris said.
Asked if he was waiting to call the legislation until after the December deadline for candidates to file for the primary election - a move that could appease fence-sitting lawmakers worried about picking up an opponent - Harris said the same excuse could be said of waiting until after the March election to vote.
In May we reported that Tom Hardy was circling a biopic of Elton John called Rocketman. He has now signed on to the picture which will be produced by Focus Features, EW reports:
Rocketman will tell John’s legendary story, from his childhood to his unbelievable rise to fame. John is set to re-record a number of his biggest hits to match the emotional moments in the film, which will be directed by Michael Gracey, the man behind the upcoming film The Greatest Showman on Earth starring Hugh Jackman.
The screenplay was written by War Horse writer Lee Hall and starts shooting in fall 2014.
Steve Hamilton Shaw and David Furnish of Rocket Pictures are producing alongside Lawrence Bender on behalf of AI Film, the production and financing company that ensued from the acquisition of Icon by Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries.
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