‘Green Book’ and ‘Mrs. Maisel’ Among Winners at 2019 Producers Guild Awards

AceShowbiz -“Green Book” is continuing its awards show streak after taking home the top prize at the Producers Guild Awards on Saturday night (January 19).

The film, which stars Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen, beat out “Black Panther“, “BlacKkKlansman“, “Bohemian Rhapsody“, “Crazy Rich Asians“, “The Favourite“, “A Quiet Place“, “Roma“, “A Star Is Born“, and “Vice (2018)” to land the Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California.

“You know, when you make (comedy) ‘Dumb & Dumber’, you don’t ever expect to get an award,” director Peter Farrelly said while he was accepting the award.

The movie about the relationship between African-American pianist Dr. Don Shirley and his white driver has already taken home Golden Globe Awards for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, Best Screenplay – Motion Picture, and Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture for Ali, and now it is poised to pick up Oscars glory when the nominations are announced this week (begin January 21) – the PGAS and Academy Awards voters have agreed on the same Best Picture in the last 20 out of 29 years.

Meanwhile, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” won the PGA award for Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures.

On the TV side, season 6 of “The Americans” took home the Norman Felton Award for Episodic Television, Drama, while season two of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” scored the Danny Thomas Award for Episodic Television, Comedy.

Season two of “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” picked up the David L. Wolper Award for Limited Series Television and “Fahrenheit 451” scored the Streamed or Televised Motion Pictures honour.

Jerry Seinfeld‘s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” took home the accolade for Short-Form Program, while “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” was feted with the Documentary Motion Picture award.

The full list of winners at the 30th annual Producers Guild Awards:

  • The Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures:Green Book” – Producers: Jim Burke, Charles B. Wessler, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga
  • The Norman Felton Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television – Drama:The Americans” (Season 6) – Producers: Joe Weisberg, Joel Fields, Chris Long, Graham Yost, Justin Falvey, Darryl Frank, Stephen Schiff, Mary Rae Thewlis, Tracey Scott Wilson, Peter Ackerman, Joshua Brand
  • The Award for Outstanding Producer of Documentary Theatrical Motion Pictures:Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” – Producers: Joe Weisberg, Joel Fields, Chris Long, Graham Yost, Justin Falvey, Darryl Frank, Stephen Schiff, Mary Rae Thewlis, Tracey Scott Wilson, Peter Ackerman, Joshua Brand
  • The Award for Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures:Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” – Producers: Avi Arad, Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, Amy Pascal, Christina Steinberg
  • The Award for Outstanding Short-Form Program: “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” (Season 5)
  • The Award for Outstanding Sports Program: “Being Serena” (Season 1)
  • The Award for Outstanding Children’s Program:Sesame Street” (Season 48)
  • The Award for Outstanding Producer of Live Entertainment & Talk Television:Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (Season 5)
  • The David L. Wolper Award for Outstanding Producer of Limited Series Television: “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” (Season 2) – Producers: Ryan Murphy, Nina Jacobson, Brad Simpson, Alexis Martin Woodall, Tom Rob Smith, Daniel Minahan, Brad Falchuk, Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski, Chip Vucelich, Maggie Cohn, Eric Kovtun, Lou Eyrich, Eryn Krueger Mekash
  • The Award for Outstanding Producer of Streamed or Televised Motion Pictures:Fahrenheit 451” – Producers: Sarah Green, Ramin Bahrani, Michael B. Jordan, Alan Gasmer, Peter Jaysen, David Coatsworth
  • The Award for Outstanding Producer of Game & Competition Television:RuPaul’s Drag Race” (Season 10) – Producers: Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato, Tom Campbell, RuPaul Charles, Mandy Salangsang, Steven Corfe
  • The Award for Outstanding Producer of Non-Fiction Television: “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” (Season 11, Season 12) – Producers: Anthony Bourdain, Christopher Collins, Lydia Tenaglia, Sandra Zweig
  • The Danny Thomas Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television – Comedy:The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Season 2) – Producers: Amy Sherman‐Palladino, Daniel Palladino, Dhana Rivera Gilbert, Sheila Lawrence

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Newark passengers spend hours frozen on sub-zero tarmac

These folks definitely do NOT want to build a snowman.

Frozen passengers on a United Airlines flight from Newark to Hong Kong spent 14 hours trapped in a frigid cabin as their plane sat in sub-zero temperatures on a Canadian tarmac — only to be returned to New Jersey just in time for more bone-chilling weather.

The mercury plunged to -31.7 degrees overnight at Newfoundland’s Goose Bay Airport Saturday, and winds blustered at up to 31 miles per hour as passengers huddled in the Boeing 777-200, which got a door stuck open on the ground after making an emergency landing.

United Airlines Flight 179 left the Garden State at 3:03 p.m. Saturday en route to relatively balmy Hong Kong International Airport — where the highs have been in the mid-60s — but only made it as far as Greenland before pilots had to pull a U-turn and touch down at Goose Bay Airport due to a sick passenger, officials said.

But the medical emergency was only the tip of the iceberg — once the plane was ready to depart, crews couldn’t get an emergency door shut and had to delay the take-off, according to United.

Minutes turned to hours as the aircraft sat frozen while workers tried to fix the door — but passengers were not allowed to leave the chilly plane because Goose Bay is a Royal Canadian Air Force base and had no customs officer on duty to process passengers, a United rep said.

“Hour 7 of Vacation: Stuck in Goose Bay, New Foundland for a few hours. Any recs on things to do?????” passenger Steven Lau tweeted at 9:45 p.m.

And so customers had to weather the long delay inside the plane, where tensions ran high while temperatures — and food — ran low, according to one passenger.

“Please help us. This is an emergency @united. People are not doing well. Running low on food,” tweeted pro wrestler Retesh Bhalla, who goes by his ring name Sonjay Dutt around 5:30 a.m. Sunday.

Airport workers eventually showed up with coffee and donuts from Canadian staple Tim Horton’s Sunday morning, and a rescue plane sent from Newark eventually picked up the stranded travelers — only to bring them back to New Jersey, where the temperatures were plunging from a high of 41 degrees Sunday toward an expected low of 13 degrees.

The return flight was delayed by about 50 minutes, according to flight-tracking service Flight Aware.

“We apologize to our customers and our crew is doing everything possible to assist them during the delay,” a United spokeswoman said.

Customers will be offered meals, hotel accommodations, reimbursement and compensation for the nightmare delay, but the spokeswoman would not provide specifics.

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Contactless card payments are overtaking plate collections in churches

Contactless card payments are overtaking traditional plate collections in churches across England

  • SumUp says 35 per cent of churchgoers want the convenience of paying by card 
  • Churches get an extra £875 per 500 parishioners by offering them, firm claims 
  • Church of England said rise may not make up for a fall in traditional donations

Contactless card payments are rapidly overtaking traditional collection plates in churches, figures show.

Since being introduced late last year, the card readers have led to a doubling in ‘digital’ revenues.

They now account for half the money taken by card, direct debit or bank transfer, a firm behind a trial of contactless in 60 churches claims.

Contactless card payments are rapidly overtaking traditional collection plates in churches, figures show. Since being introduced late last year, the card readers have led to a doubling in ‘digital’ revenues [File photo]


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SumUp says 35 per cent of churchgoers want the convenience of paying by the card readers – and calculates this means churches rake in an extra £875 per 500 parishioners by offering them.

However, the Church of England said the rise may not make up for a fall in traditional collections. 

A spokesman said some churches had difficulties in introducing card readers during services.

‘It takes too long to pass them through the pews,’ they added. ‘We would need to have much longer hymns.’

SumUp says 35 per cent of churchgoers want the convenience of paying by the card readers – and calculates this means churches rake in an extra £875 per 500 parishioners by offering them [File photo]

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Theresa May ‘considers rewriting Good Friday agreement’

Theresa May ‘considers rewriting Northern Ireland’s Good Friday agreement to get her Brexit plan passed by Parliament’

  • PM considering rewriting Good Friday agreement to win Tory and DUP support
  • Theresa May will update MPs on her ‘Plan B’ following crushing Commons defeat 
  • Mrs May hopes this will assure Ireland the UK is committed to no hard border
  • Esther McVey will do round of social media appearances to ease Brexit anxieties 

Theresa May (pictured attending church with husband Philip yesterday) is considering rewriting Northern Ireland’s Good Friday agreement to get her Brexit deal passed through Parliament

Theresa May is considering rewriting Northern Ireland’s Good Friday agreement to get her Brexit deal passed through Parliament. 

The prime minister is expected to update MPs today on her ‘Plan B’ for Brexit after her disastrous first attempt was voted down in a historic Commons defeat.

Mrs May will now move to secure Conservative and DUP support by rewording the Irish backstop plan within the Withdrawal Agreement.

Ministers hope this will assure Ireland that the UK is committed to no hard border been Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland once the UK withdraws for the EU.

The PM hopes amending the agreement would avoid having to commit the UK to the backstop,  but it will prove extremely controversial and would require consensus among all of the parties involved in Northern Ireland.

Sources said the move was a ‘non-starter’, the Daily Telegraph reports and highlights the extent to which Mrs May is scrambling for leverage after last Tuesday’s crushing defeat.

One cabinet minister said the outcome was ‘essentially one more heave on the backstop’.


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Tory MPs appear to be in agreement that if Mrs May adopts the same approach of  trying to win around Labour MPs again then there is a serious risk of alienating her party and making ‘Plan B’ even less likely to get through the Commons. 

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns urged there was no ‘stability’ in Opposition votes.  

Mrs May will now move to secure Conservative and DUP support (Pictured above: DUP leader Arlene Foster) by rewording the Irish backstop plan within the Withdrawal Agreement

Following the failed Brexit deal vote, which MPs voted by 432 votes to 202, the PM blamed Jeremy Corbyn, for the collapse of the cross-party approach.

The Labour leader had refused to enter into talks unless Mrs May agreed to rule out a no-deal Brexit. 

Despite this, Mrs May’s door “remains open” to Mr Corbyn and that she is willing to have more talks with trade unions before putting pen to paper, the Sunday Times reports.  

Mrs May blamed Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, for the collapse of the cross-party approach after he refused to meet for talks unless she ruled out a no-deal Brexit.

The prime minister will try to use a vote in the Commons on January 29 to show that the changes she hopes to secure in the coming days could secure a majority among MPs.   

Elsewhere former cabinet minister Esther McVey is set to lead a campaign to allay Brexit fears over a No Deal this week, as the PM launches her week-long campaign to save Brexit.

Ms McVey, the former Work and Pensions Secretary, will do a round of social media appearances where she will outline the UK’s preparations for leaving the EU with no agreement in place.

She will also plan a series of Q&A sessions to address public concerns directly.

File photo shows then-PM Tony Blair and former Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern signing the Good Friday agreement in April 1998

The Prime Minister will have to returen to the Commons with her Brexit ‘Plan B’ today. Above: MPs gather in the Commons for January 16’s vote of no confidence in her Government

 

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Rare super blood wolf moon turns red over UK in once in a generation event

The moon is turning a deep shade of red this morning in a once-in-a-generation event over UK skies.

The stunning spectacle – a total lunar eclipse – was first visible in the early morning sky from around 2.30am.

However, the so-called ‘super blood wolf moon’ will be visible for a total of five hours with early risers able to catch a glimpse as late as 7.48am.

The celestial phenomenon is also visible over Europe, Africa and the Americas, weather permitting.

Pictures taken earlier tonight as the moon was rising show the moon already looking like a shade of crimson.

However, the peak time to see it is around 5.15am.


The rare event is taking place for the last time in 18 years.

However, many stargazers in the UK may have to contend with cloudy weather in order to see it.

Those living in the South West and north stand the best chance.

Emma Smith, a meteorologist for the Met Office, said: “We probably won’t be able to see it around central or southern England, the Midlands, East Anglia, London. [It] will be quite overcast.

“I think Kent may be OK, you could see it in Kent.


“In the south-west – Devon, Cornwall – there will be clear skies, you could see it there and around the coast of Wales, but mainland Wales, it will be grey and overcast but the west coast of wales, it’s clear.

“Northern England has a good chance of seeing it and southern and eastern Scotland and Northern Ireland.

"But there are outbreaks of rain and sleet and snow and in western Scotland, it will be cloudier, so you won’t be able to see it there.

"Where it’s cloudy it will be quite overcast, there won’t be many gaps in the cloud to see the moon, which is a shame.”


The next ‘super blood wolf moon’ will happen on January 31, 2037 – the third and last of the 21st century.

The display, which sees the moon turn a spectacular shade of red, is a rare combination of a supermoon and a lunar eclipse.

It’s called a "wolf moon" because that’s the folk name for a full moon that happens in the month of January, when hungry wolves howled outside villages, according to folklore.

It will be the first lunar eclipse of the year and the last total lunar eclipse, when the moon glows red, until 2021.


The moon gets its red hue as sunlight is filtered as it passed through the Earth’s atmosphere, removing most of the blue light.

It’s dubbed a supermoon because the moon will be at its closest point to Earth, making it appear significantly larger in the sky.

This ‘super blood wolf moon’ is part of a cycle of lunar eclipses that began on October 25, 1874, and will conclude on July 26, 2325, with one display every 18 years.

The last one happened on January 9, 2001.

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Infant, 3 adults killed in ‘horrific’ domestic violence incident in Oregon: Officials

An infant and three adults were killed in a “horrific” incident at an Oregon home in which sheriff’s deputies shot and killed the suspect as he was about to take the life of another child, officials said Sunday.

The eruption of domestic violence occurred Saturday night in the Portland suburb of Canby, Clackamas County Sheriff’s Sgt. Brian Jensen said at a news conference.

Jensen said the suspect, Mark Leo Gregory Gago, 42, was shot and killed by deputies when they arrived on scene at 10:15 p.m. and saw him attempting to kill another child.

The child and another adult were injured in the attack and taken to a hospital for treatment, Jensen said.

After killing Gago, deputies found four victims — including a 9-month-old girl — dead inside the house, Jensen said.

The baby was identified Sunday as Olivia Lynn Rose Gago, according to the sheriff’s office. The other victims killed were: Shaina E. Sweitzer, 31; Jerry William Bremer, 66; and Pamela Denise Bremer, 64.

The relationship between the suspect and the victims, including the baby, is under investigation.

“We do believe they were all living in the residence. They are related somehow. We’re just trying to piece that together,” Jensen said.

It was not immediately clear how Gago allegedly killed the victims, Jensen said. He said the suspect was not armed with a gun.

“There are numerous objects around the house that can be used as weapons,” he said. “Investigators are trying to figure out exactly what it is he used to kill four people.”

A motive in the quadruple slaying is under investigation.

“Every investigator I’ve talked to that’s been inside the residence … cannot explain just how horrific the scene is. It’s a traumatic scene just to see,” Jensen said. “This is a tough one and we want to make sure our folks are going to be OK when this is all done.”

He said five deputies and a sheriff’s sergeant responded to the scene, but it was not immediately known how many fired their weapons.

“They were able to locate the suspect,” Jensen said. “At which point they were presented with a deadly force situation. Our deputies fired their service weapons, killing the homicide suspect.

“Obviously, they were trying to get there as quickly as possible to save as many people as they can,” Jensen said of the sheriff’s deputies. “They’re obviously worried about their own safety.”

He said the sergeant and five deputies have been placed on paid administrative leave in keeping with department protocol for officer-involved shooting investigations.

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Facebook rejects ads from producers of controversial pro-life film

Facebook bans controversial pro-life ‘Roe v. Wade’ film starring Jon Voight from advertising the movie on the social network because it considers it a ‘political ad’

  • Filmmakers Nick Loeb and Cathy Allyn produced and directed Roe v. Wade
  • They tried to promote the movie through an ad on Facebook
  • But the social network denied permission because of ad’s sensitive nature 
  • Facebook announced new restrictions limiting ads about ‘hot-button issues’ 
  • Film is an anti-abortion movie starring a number of conservative actors
  • Jon Voight portrays Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger
  • Movie was made in secrecy because of feared backlash from pro-choice activists

Facebook has reportedly refused to authorize ads promoting an anti-abortion movie because the social media network considers the film a political ad.

The producers of Roe v. Wade, a new film starring Jon Voight and Stacey Dash, wanted to buy advertising on Facebook.

But the social network said the ad did not align with its new ‘issues of national importance’ guidelines, according to Breitbart.

Nick Loeb, a pro-life Hollywood producer, is best known as Sofia Vergara’s ex-boyfriend.

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Facebook has reportedly refused to authorize ads promoting an anti-abortion movie because the social media network considers the film a political ad. The producers of Roe v. Wade, a new film starring Jon Voight (above) and Stacey Dash, wanted to buy advertising on Facebook

But the social network said the ad did not align with its new ‘issues of national importance’ guidelines

He and Cathy Allyn directed and produced Roe v. Wade, a film with a largely conservative supporting cast which includes Milo Yiannopoulos and Tomi Lahren.

According to Breitbart, Loeb and Allyn wanted to run an ad on Facebook that linked to a Hollywood Reporter article about the film.


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The ad included a link to an article which was attached to an image of Voight and the hashtag #BringRoevWadeToLife.

Loeb and Allyn wanted to ‘boost’ the post from their own personal Facebook pages, but the social network said the ad was not approved.


Oscar-winning actor John Voight (left) will take on the role of Supreme Justice Warren E. Burger (right). Burger presided over the landmark Roe v Wade case in 1973

‘Your ad isn’t approved because it doesn’t comply with out Advertising Policies,’ the message from Facebook read.

‘You can click the ad name below to see why it wasn’t approved and edit the ad to have it reviewed again.’

Facebook told Breitbart that the ad was rejected because of changes made that require verification and identification from anyone who wants to post ads on important topics.

In April, Facebook announced new restrictions on those seeking to post ‘issue ads’ including politically oriented ads that touch on issues including elections, immigration, LGBTQ rights, and other sensitive topics.

The social network said it will require anyone posting these ads to undergo a vetting process requiring the authors to produce government-issued ID and mailing addresses.

At the time the new restrictions were announced, Facebook was facing a storm of criticism over its handling of user data as well as its inability to rein in alleged ‘fake news’ that was blamed for misleading voters in the run-up to the 2016 presidential elections.

Pro-lifer Nick Loeb (above) will be providing an alternative – and guaranteed to be controversial – take on the historic case. He will also star in the movie


Loeb says the parallels between discussions around the 1973 case prosecuted by Henry Wade (left) and the ones happening now are uncanny. This month, reports revealed the Supreme Court could hear its first pro-life case since Brett Kavanaugh’s (right) appointment

This is not the first time that Facebook has stood in the way of the filmmakers’ efforts to facilitate the movie’s release and dissemination.

Facebook blocked the fundraising website connected to the film, which seeks to tell the ‘true story of the most corrupt court case in history that led to the murder of 60 million babies.’

A trailer for the controversial film was unveiled this past Monday.

The three-minute trailer for the film showcased its all-star conservative cast, including Academy-award winning actor Voight as Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger. 

The movie was developed in near complete secrecy over a series of several months, as filmmakers attempted to avoid a backlash from pro-choice activists. 

The trailer flits intermittently between scenes from the film to modern-day news clippings, referencing the mounting speculation that Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the bench may help to overturn the historic case ruling, that legalized abortion in the U.S. 

Earlier this month, reports emerged suggesting the Supreme Court could hear its first case that challenges the Roe v Wade decision, following Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

The appeal, filed in Indiana, is seeking to enforce a state law forbidding the termination of pregnancy by women who cite Down syndrome or other disabilities as reasoning for the abortion.

‘Everyone is saying Kavanaugh is going to flip the decision and the same thing was said in 1972,’ Loeb told The Hollywood Reporter.

‘There’s actually a lot of parallels between then and now.’

Pro-life advocate Loeb is actually embroiled in his own lawsuit relevant to the films message with former girlfriend Sofia Vargara, regarding a batch of frozen embryos the couple produced.

The filmmaker is currently involved in a near four-year legal dispute with ex Sofia Vagara (left) over a batch of frozen embryos the created back in 2013

While dating in 2013, the pair signed a document which stated that they could not use the embryos without the other party’s consent.

But after their split two years later, Loeb filed a right-to-live lawsuit in California, and then again in Louisiana. He has allegedly named the embryos ‘Isabella’ and ‘Emma’.

The filmmaker admits he was forced to shoot the movie with a pseudomic title over the past year, as filming locations and extras were apparently hard to come by when he was honest about the film’s pro-life message.

A director and a number of other staff members also walked from the set when they discovered the co-writer’s vision.

On January 22, 1973 the US Supreme Court rule it was a constitutional right for women to have access to safe and legal abortion.

At the time, the decision was met with a great deal of controversy with some lawmakers calling the ruling ‘judicial activism’, rather than constitutionally ethical.

But today, a Planned Parenthood study found that 72% of American’s wholeheartedly agree with the legalization of abortion. However fierce opposition still remains, particularly in southern states.  

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NBA Rumors: Nikola Vucevic Trade ‘Best Course Of Action’ For Magic Before Deadline, Per ‘Basketball Insiders’

Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic is expected to one of the NBA players who could be traded before the February NBA trade deadline. Since the Magic selected Mo Bamba as the No. 6 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, most people believe that Vucevic’s days in Orlando are already numbered. With his contract that is set to expire after the 2018-19 NBA season, trading him now will be the Magic’s best option than losing him in the summer of 2019 as an unrestricted free agent without getting anything in return.

Earlier in the 2018-19 NBA season, the Magic looked determined to earn a playoff spot in the LeBron James-less Eastern Conference. Nikola Vucevic has succeeded to turn himself into the Magic’s best player. In 45 games he played this season, the 28-year-old center is averaging 20.3 points, 11.9 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.1 blocks, and 1.0 steal on 51.8 percent shooting from the field and 38.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

However, despite Vucevic’s explosive performance almost every night, the Magic aren’t still considered a legitimate playoff contender this season. Even if they manage to enter the NBA Playoffs 2019, it remains a big question mark if the Magic have what it takes to beat Eastern Conference powerhouse teams like the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors, and Milwaukee Bucks in a best-of-seven series.

According to Shane Rhodes of Basketball Insiders, trading Nikola Vucevic before the February NBA trade deadline remains as the “best course of action” for the Magic.

“Vucevic, in the last season of his deal, has a case for best expiring contract/player on the market. And, with Mohamed Bamba waiting in the wings, his future standing in Orlando isn’t very clear. If the Magic hope to one day return to relevancy, trading Vucevic may be the best course of action. Not only could he bring back a premium asset, but the extra playing time afforded to Bamba would be beneficial to his development. The benefits for any acquiring team are obvious; Vucevic is a premium player and could prove a major difference maker come the postseason.”

Nikola Vucevic may not have publicly admitted it, but at this point in his NBA career, he will surely love to play for a legitimate playoff contender than staying on a rebuilding team like the Magic, who recently drafted their center of the future. Trading Vucevic will be very beneficial for the Magic. Aside from acquiring trade assets that could help them speed up the rebuilding process, the Magic could give Mo Bamba more time to develop his game.

Once Nikola Vucevic officially becomes available on the trading block, several NBA teams will surely express interest in adding him to their roster. According to The Ringer, some of the potential suitors for the veteran center include the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Sacramento Kings, and the San Antonio Spurs.

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Four arrested over Northern Ireland car bomb, New IRA suspected

LONDONDERRY, Northern Ireland (Reuters) – Four men were arrested on Sunday over a car bomb attack in Northern Ireland’s Londonderry and police are looking into whether the New IRA militant group was responsible, officers said.

Two men in their twenties were detained hours after the explosion on Saturday evening outside the city’s courthouse. Two other men aged 34 and 42 were arrested in the city later on Sunday. No one was injured by the blast.

“Fortunately it didn’t kill anybody but clearly it was a very significant attempt to kill people here in this community,” Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton told a news conference.

Hamilton said the main focus of the investigation was on the New IRA – one of a small number of groups opposed to a 1998 peace deal that largely ended three decades of violence in the British-run province. They have carried out sporadic attacks in recent years.

Police in Northern Ireland and European Union member Ireland have warned that a return to a hard border between the two after Brexit, complete with customs and other checks, could be a target for militant groups.

Politicians from all sides – including Sinn Fein, the former political wing of the nationalist Irish Republican Army – condemned the explosion.

“SHAME ON YOU”

“Shame on you. Shame on you and stop,” said Mary Lou McDonald, leader of Sinn Fein, which signed the peace agreement. She told BBC Northern Ireland the blast was an “outrageous attack”.

The Northern Ireland police force said it was given only minutes to evacuate children and hundreds of hotel guests before the explosion of what they described as a highly unstable, crude device that could have detonated at any time.

Officers spotted a suspicious vehicle at the scene at about 1955 GMT, then received a warning five minutes later that a device had been left there, the force said.

“We moved immediately to begin evacuating people from nearby buildings including hundreds of hotel guests, 150 people from the Masonic Hall and a large number of children from a church youth club,” Hamilton said earlier.

The pizza delivery vehicle was destroyed by the blast ten minutes after that. The van had been hijacked nearby by two armed men around two hours earlier, police said.

CCTV footage released by police showed the driver running from the vehicle after leaving it outside the courthouse.

Hamilton said he thought the attack marked a continuation of militants’ campaigns, rather than an escalation.

The last fatal attack involving a car bomb was carried out in 2016 by the New IRA when a prison officer was fatally injured by a device left under his van in Belfast.

About 3,600 people were killed in the conflict that was fought between mainly Protestant unionists who want Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom and predominantly Catholic nationalists.

“There is no doubt that in terms of the Brexit element, there will be a section within our communities who will want to exploit that and use that to further their own objectives but I wouldn’t put that as the sole purpose,” Gary Middleton, a local Democratic Unionist Party member of Northern Ireland’s devolved government, told Reuters.

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New faces will keep the Tigers fresh: Cotchin

Gold Coast: Richmond captain Trent Cotchin isn't dwelling on last year's finals exit and tipped his cap to Collingwood as the Tigers wipe the slate clean in 2019.

The Tigers began a week-long pre-season camp on the Gold Coast on Monday, where star recruit Tom Lynch continued his rehabilitation from knee surgery in familiar surrounds.

Dustin Martin and Trent Cotchin run laps at a recent training session.Credit:AAP

Cotchin said the club has been freshened by the arrival of Lynch from the Suns.

But he was quick to remind fans the headline-grabbing key foward wasn't the only fresh face in yellow and black.

"I think Riley [Collier-Dawkins], Jack Ross and Fraser [Turner] will be disappointed that you think Lynchy is the only big in, and [St Kilda pick-up] Mav Weller," he said.

"We're really excited about not just what he brings, but all recruits."

Brandon Ellis with new recruit Maverick Weller.Credit:AAP

Cotchin cited defender Jayden Short's breakout 2018 season when forecasting the year ahead.

"We're looking for players like that to get better again and that's the exciting thing for old buggers like myself," the 28-year-old captain said.

"We are still quite young … I've got lots of grey hairs but I just love being part of an environment that we've all created and it's really fun to be a part of."

AAP

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