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Sunday, 24 March 2019

Comic Relief criticised for 'hoarding' £117million - as charity pleads for cash to help hungry and homeless in the UK

In its emotive fundraising films, Comic Relief paints a bleak picture of impoverished Britons in desperate need of cash to combat hunger, deprivation and homelessness.
But today The Mail on Sunday can reveal that the charity is sitting on a cash pile of almost £117 million – nearly twice the total donated on Red Nose Day.
Last night, critics blasted Comic Relief bosses for hoarding the sizeable sum.
Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said: ‘It is clear that the famously generous British public will not be happy if their donations are merely swelling the reserves of an already well-funded charity.
‘It is difficult to see who the reserves are actually aiding, apart from the organisation itself. I’m sure that was not where people intended their generous donations to go.’
Comic Relief’s most recently published accounts also show it spent £11.9 million on salaries in 2017, with 30 staff earning more than £60,000 and five pocketing more than £100,000.
The news comes a week after The Mail on Sunday revealed that the BBC faced fierce criticism for allowing stars such as Ed Sheeran to paint a downbeat picture of Britain and effectively deliver ‘an advert for Jeremy Corbyn’.
In one film, charity co-founder Lenny Henry warned that ‘real hunger… is hitting a huge number of people in this country’.
However, Comic Relief itself is in fine financial fettle. According to its most recent figures, its £116.9 million reserves in 2016-17 were up from £93.5 million the previous year.
The lion’s share of that is a balance of £66 million in donations yet to be paid out in grants, plus a £50 million war chest intended to keep the charity running for six months in the event of an emergency, including a collapse in the value of its investments.
The MoS has also learned that Ministers have expressed concern about Comic Relief’s spending.
The Department for International Development (Dfid), which has given taxpayers’ cash to fund some of the charity’s projects, has sought assurances that Comic Relief money was being spent on good causes rather than going towards running costs or lost to fraud.
The charity is currently investigating three separate fraud allegations involving a total of £867,000.
In 2017, Comic Relief chief Liz Warner reassured Priti Patel, who was International Development Secretary at the time, about how they planned to ‘review and tighten our systems’ to address the issues. 
Comic Relief last night declined to give details of exactly what her comments related to. But a source close to Dfid said: ‘There was concern about where all Dfid’s donations to Comic Relief were going, particularly as the charity had quite high staffing and administrative costs.’
Dfid said action was taken after Comic Relief discovered ‘fraud in a partner’s programme’, adding: ‘Funds were recouped and no taxpayers’ money was lost.’
This year’s Comic Relief fundraiser, which included a Four Weddings And A Funeral reunion starring Hugh Grant and Lily James, raised more than £63 million, but that was £8 million less than the previous appeal in 2017.
Last night a spokeswoman said: ‘Comic Relief is committed to making sure every pound the charity gets directly from the public goes towards helping transform the lives of people dealing with poverty and injustice.’
She said no public donations went to the emergency war chest and that Comic Relief takes a ‘zero-tolerance approach to corruption’.


REVEALED: Dr. Dre made a $70 MILLION donation to USC and has a building named after him on campus after boasting his daughter got into the college 'all on her own' in the wake of admission scandal

Dr. Dre has boasted about his youngest daughter being accepted into the University of Southern California 'all on her own' - six years after the rapper donated $70 million to the school.
The rapper, whose real name in Andre Young, took to Instagram on Saturday to brag about his 18-year-old daughter Truly Young's acceptance into USC. 
In his social media post, the 54-year-old threw shade at those embroiled in the college admissions scandal by declaring his daughter was accepted without bribing or cheating her way in.    
'My daughter got accepted into USC all on her own. No jail time!!!' Dre wrote alongside a photo of them posing with Truly's certificate of admission.
Dr. Dre, whose real name in Andre Young, took to Instagram on Saturday to brag about his 18-year-old daughter Truly Young's acceptance into USC. He shared this photo of them posing with her certificate of admission
Dr. Dre, whose real name in Andre Young, took to Instagram on Saturday to brag about his 18-year-old daughter Truly Young's acceptance into USC. He shared this photo of them posing with her certificate of admission
Her admission comes six years after Dre and record producer Jimmy Iovine made a whopping $70 million donation to USC. 
Their donation in 2013 went towards creating the USC Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for arts and technology. 
They also have a building named after them on the USC campus. 
'The vision and generosity of Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young will profoundly influence the way all of us perceive and experience artistic media,' C. L. Max Nikiasthe, who was the USC president at the time, said when the donation was made.  
A news release from USC in 2013 said the academy named after the music industry icons would help undergraduates in marketing, business entrepreneurship, computer science and engineering, audio and visual design, and the arts.
Dr Dre (right) and record producer Jimmy Iovine (left) made a whopping $70 million donation to USC in 2013. They are pictured above in 2017 when USC revealed they were building a hall named after the two music industry icons
Dr Dre (right) and record producer Jimmy Iovine (left) made a whopping $70 million donation to USC in 2013. They are pictured above in 2017 when USC revealed they were building a hall named after the two music industry icons 
Dre and Iovine (center) have a building named after them on the USC campus following the creation of the USC Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for arts and technology
Dre and Iovine (center) have a building named after them on the USC campus following the creation of the USC Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for arts and technology 
Dre's 'no jail time' comment was a jab at the 50 people charged earlier this month in the largest college admissions cheating scandal in U.S. history.
Among those arrested were actress Lori Loughlin and her designer husband Mossimo Giannulli who are accused of paying $500,000 to get their two daughters into USC as fake rowing recruits.
Their daughters, Olivia and Isabella, have since dropped out of USC in the wake of the scandal. 
USC was the most implicated school involved in the cheating scandal after prosecutors said wealthy parents either paid bribes to have a college counselor rig standardized tests or get their children admitted as recruits of sports they didn't play. 
More than half the 32 parents charged were trying to bribe their children's way into USC. 

'They told me I was the wrong colour, size and showed too much emotion': Oprah Winfrey reveals TV bosses told her she was a 'terrible' news anchor - as she reveals her tips on how to become a success

Oprah has admitted she was branded a 'terrible' news anchor and reporter before she found her true calling in 1978, aged 24.
Speaking in her new book The Path Made Clear, which is out this week, the talk show host- who was named North America's first black billionaire in 2003 - revealed that she never felt comfortable in her own skin and used a 'pretend anchor voice' when she began her career.
The American philanthropist, 65, who has since been awarded the Presidential Medal Of Freedom by Barack Obama and honorary doctorate degrees from Duke and Harvard, admitted TV bosses at the beginning of her career had told her she was 'the wrong colour, size and showed too much emotion'. 
Sharing her wisdom, Oprah revealed that she had since learned that 'the true meaning of courage is to be afraid', giving her top tips on how readers could find their own path.
Oprah, 65, seen this year, revealed that she never felt comfortable in her own skin when she began her career and felt she was a 'terrible' news anchor
Oprah, 65, seen this year, revealed that she never felt comfortable in her own skin when she began her career and felt she was a 'terrible' news anchor
Recalling her her first day working on Baltimore TV show 'People Are Talking' in August of 1978, she said: 'Up until then I'd been a news anchor and reporter. 
'I was terrible. I knew it. My bosses knew it and certainly made no secret of their feelings. They told me I was the wrong colour, the wrong size and that I showed too much emotion.
'I never felt comfortable in my own skin. Even now, when I look back on the tapes, I can still hear the pretend anchor voice I used on air.'
The American philanthropist, admitted TV bosses of the Baltimore TV show, seen above in 1978 - had told her she was 'the wrong colour, size and showed too much emotion' at the beginning of her career
The American philanthropist, admitted TV bosses of the Baltimore TV show, seen above in 1978 - had told her she was 'the wrong colour, size and showed too much emotion' at the beginning of her career
She has since built a record breaking career. Bradley Cooper and Oprah Winfrey speak onstage during Oprah's SuperSoul Conversations this year
She has since built a record breaking career. Bradley Cooper and Oprah Winfrey speak onstage during Oprah's SuperSoul Conversations this year
However that same day something changed, and Oprah revealed it was the moment she found her calling. 
She continued: 'But after one day on this local talk show I was energised in a way that fuelled every cell of my being. There was no doubt that the seeds of what was to give my life meaning and purpose had been planted. 
'That day my job ended and my calling  began'.
Oprah also admitted that she was terrified she wouldn't have anything 'revelatory' to teach Harvard students after being asked to hold a presentation.
Oprah also admitted that she was terrified she wouldn't have anything 'revelatory' to teach Harvard students after being asked to hold a presentation - seen in 2014
Oprah also admitted that she was terrified she wouldn't have anything 'revelatory' to teach Harvard students after being asked to hold a presentation - seen in 2014
Success! Oprah Winfrey, right, poses with first lady Michelle Obama during taping of 'The Oprah Winfrey Show' in 2011
Success! Oprah Winfrey, right, poses with first lady Michelle Obama during taping of 'The Oprah Winfrey Show' in 2011
However a life-changing conversation with author Steven Pressfiled soon taught her a valuable lesson, that the 'more important an activity is to your soul's evolution, the more resistance you will feel to it'.
Armed with this new knowledge, she faced the speech head-on, and was later awarded an honorary doctorate degree.
Sharing her top tips to readers looking for their 'path', she advised them to begin by articulating their vision, finding their intention and executing the plan.
Concluding her advice, Oprah wrote: 'The true meaning of courage is to be afraid - and then, with your knees knocking and your heart racing, take the leap anyway'.
Oprah has previously spoken about being 'fired' as an evening news reporter at Baltimore's WJZ-TV before she was given a daytime TV show which kick-started her world-famous career.

Trump supporters roast Democrats over the Mueller report on social media, comparing the special counsel's investigation to the Fyre Festival disaster

The internet has continued to poke fun at the Mueller report, comparing the special counsel's investigation to the Fyre Festival disaster. 
Jokes and memes flooded social media Saturday and Sunday after Mueller handed over his report to Attorney General William Barr Friday. 
The report's conclusion set off a storm of speculation on what it will have found after a senior Justice Department official said that Mueller will file no more indictments with federal courts.
It means the president, his inner circle of present and former confidants and his family members are out of immediate legal jeopardy. 
They include Donald Trump Jr., who had a role in arranging a Trump Tower meeting at the height of the 2016 election campaign with a Kremlin-linked lawyer, and Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who was interviewed at least twice by Mueller's prosecutors. 
And that news sparked a whole host of memes and jokes as Twitter users weighed in on the historical moment.
Benny Johnson illustrated his point with a picture of Fyre Festival organziers Ja Rule and Billy McFarland on a paradise island followed by the reality of the event where hurricane tents were used for 'luxury' accommodation
Benny Johnson illustrated his point with a picture of Fyre Festival organziers Ja Rule and Billy McFarland on a paradise island followed by the reality of the event where hurricane tents were used for 'luxury' accommodation
A number of people took to comparing the report to Fyre Festival, an event which had promised so much but failed to deliver, and Courtney Shadegg posted this image of the 'gourmet' food served to festival goers which was actually a cheese sandwich
A number of people took to comparing the report to Fyre Festival, an event which had promised so much but failed to deliver, and Courtney Shadegg posted this image of the 'gourmet' food served to festival goers which was actually a cheese sandwich
Another joked those hoping that report would find collusion would be disappointed
Another joked those hoping that report would find collusion would be disappointed
While one user shared a meme showing The Office character Jim Halpert watching on smirking as 'the Democrats turn on Mueller' following his report
While one user shared a meme showing The Office character Jim Halpert watching on smirking as 'the Democrats turn on Mueller' following his report
A number of people took to comparing the report to Fyre Festival - an event which had promised so much but failed to deliver. 
Benny Johnson, who works for Turning Point USA, wrote: 'Libs, for the past two years: “Lemme tell y’all - the Mueller Report gonna be the biggest, dopest, flyest Report on planet earth. You best not miss this Report. Get ready - we gonna blow yo minds.”' 
He then added 'Libs today' with a skull emoji.
The political commentator illustrated his posts with a picture of Fyre Festival organizers Ja Rule and Billy McFarland on a paradise island followed by the reality of the event where hurricane tents were used for accommodation. 
Courtney Shadegg posted an image of the 'gourmet' food served to festival goers which was actually a cheese sandwich. 
She wrote: 'The Mueller report, the Fyre Festival of 2019.'
Another joked those hoping that report would find collusion would be disappointed if it does not as they were 'promised'.  
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One Twitter user posted a picture of Mueller mocked up in a t-shirt which read: 'I investigated Trump for 2 years and all I got was this lousy t-shirt'
One Twitter user posted a picture of Mueller mocked up in a t-shirt which read: 'I investigated Trump for 2 years and all I got was this lousy t-shirt'
Trump's silence has led some critics to suspect that Mueller has uncovered incriminating information, but Trump's supporters insist that the lack of new indictments is vindication
Trump's silence has led some critics to suspect that Mueller has uncovered incriminating information, but Trump's supporters insist that the lack of new indictments is vindication
Some suggested the release of the details of the report will make the 'Democrats hate Mueller more than President Trump'
Some suggested the release of the details of the report will make the 'Democrats hate Mueller more than President Trump'
Another suggested certain media outlets would be sad to hear about the lack of more indictments and suggested CNN’s reaction would be to not listen
Another suggested certain media outlets would be sad to hear about the lack of more indictments and suggested CNN’s reaction would be to not listen

Others speculated the report may not contain any groundbreaking evidence of the alleged Russian meddling in the election.  
One Twitter user posted a picture of Mueller mocked up in a t-shirt which read: 'I investigated Trump for 2 years and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.'
Another shared a meme showing The Office character Jim Halpert watching on smirking as 'the Democrats turn on Mueller'. 
The reports has already brought charges against more than 30 individuals including several former members of Trump's campaign or administration.   
Barr's summary of the report to Congress is now expected to be delivered no sooner than Sunday, an official said.  
Trump's supporters insist that the lack of new indictments is vindication for the president.
One joked: 'Dems still looking for collusion after the report' with a gif of John Travolta Pulp Ficiton looking around.   
Another suggested certain media outlets would be sad to hear about the lack of more indictments suggesting CNN’s reaction would be to not listen. 
Some suggested the release of the details of the report will make the 'Democrats hate Mueller more than President Trump'. 

President Donald Trump arrives on Air Force One at the Palm Beach International Airport to spend time at Mar-a-Lago resort on Friday
President Donald Trump arrives on Air Force One at the Palm Beach International Airport to spend time at Mar-a-Lago resort on Friday 

Special Counsel Robert Mueller arrives at his office building, Thursday
Special Counsel Robert Mueller arrives at his office building, Thursday

ROBERT MUELLER'S PROBE SO FAR: EIGHT CONVICTIONS - INCLUDING THREE TOP TRUMP AIDES, A JAILED ATTORNEY AND 25 RUSSIANS ACCUSED

GUILTY: MICHAEL FLYNN 
Pleaded guilty to making false statements in December 2017. Awaiting sentence
Flynn was President Trump's former National Security Advisor and Robert Mueller's most senior scalp to date. He previously served when he was a three star general as President Obama's director of the Defense Intelligence Agency but was fired. 
He admitted to lying to special counsel investigators about his conversations with a Russian ambassador in December 2016. He has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel investigation.
GUILTY: MICHAEL COHEN
Pleaded guilty to eight counts including fraud and two campaign finance violations in August 2018. Pleaded guilty to further count of lying to Congress in November 2018. Sentenced to three years in prison and $2 million in fines and forfeitures in December 2018
Cohen was Trump's longtime personal attorney, starting working for him and the Trump Organization in 2007. He is the longest-serving member of Trump's inner circle to be implicated by Mueller. Cohen professed unswerving devotion to Trump - and organized payments to silence two women who alleged they had sex with the-then candidate: porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal. He admitted that payments to both women were felony campaign finance violations - and admitted that he acted at the 'direction' of 'Candidate-1': Donald Trump. 
He also admitted tax fraud by lying about his income from loans he made, money from  taxi medallions he owned, and other sources of income, at a cost to the Treasury of $1.3 million.
And he admitted lying to Congress in a rare use of the offense. The judge in his case let him report for prison on March 6 and  recommended he serve it in a medium-security facility close to New York City.
Campaign role: Paul Manafort chaired Trump's campaign for four months - which included the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in 2016, where he appeared on stage beside Trump who was preparing  to formally accept the Republican nomination
GUILTY AND JAILED: PAUL MANAFORT
Found guilty of eight charges of bank and tax fraud in August 2018. Sentenced to 47 months in March 2019. Pleaded guilty to two further charges - witness tampering and conspiracy against the United States. Jailed for total of seven and a half years in two separate sentences. Additionally indicted for mortgage fraud by Manhattan District Attorney, using evidence previously presented by Mueller
 Manafort worked for Trump's campaign from March 2016 and chaired it from June to August 2016, overseeing Trump being adopted as Republican candidate at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. He is the most senior campaign official to be implicated by Mueller. Manafort was one of Washington D.C.'s longest-term and most influential lobbyists but in 2015, his money dried up and the next year he turned to Trump for help, offering to be his campaign chairman for free - in the hope of making more money afterwards. But Mueller unwound his previous finances and discovered years of tax and bank fraud as he coined in cash from pro-Russia political parties and oligarchs in Ukraine.
Manafort pleaded not guilty to 18 charges of tax and bank fraud but was convicted of eight counts in August 2018. The jury was deadlocked on the other 10 charges. A second trial on charges of failing to register as a foreign agent due in September did not happen when he pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the United States and witness tampering in a plea bargain. He was supposed to co-operate with Mueller but failed to. 
Minutes after his second sentencing hearing in March 2019, he was indicted on 16 counts of fraud and conspiracy by the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., using evidence which included documents previously presented at his first federal trial. The president has no pardon power over charges by district and state attorneys.
GUILTY: RICK GATES 
Pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the United States and making false statements in February 2018. Awaiting sentence
Gates was Manafort's former deputy at political consulting firm DMP International. He admitted to conspiring to defraud the U.S. government on financial activity, and to lying to investigators about a meeting Manafort had with a member of congress in 2013. As a result of his guilty plea and promise of cooperation, prosecutors vacated charges against Gates on bank fraud, bank fraud conspiracy, failure to disclose foreign bank accounts, filing false tax returns, helping prepare false tax filings, and falsely amending tax returns.
GUILTY AND JAILED: GEORGE PAPADOPOLOUS
Pleaded guilty to making false statements in October 2017. Sentenced to 14 days in September 2018, and reported to prison in November. Served 12 days and released on December 7, 2018
 Papadopoulos was a member of Donald Trump's campaign foreign policy advisory committee. He admitted to lying to special counsel investigators about his contacts with London professor Josef Mifsud and Ivan Timofeev, the director of a Russian government-funded think tank. 
He has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel investigation.
GUILTY AND JAILED: RICHARD PINEDO
Pleaded guilty to identity fraud in February 2018. Sentenced to a year in prison
Pinedo is a 28-year-old computer specialist from Santa Paula, California. He admitted to selling bank account numbers to Russian nationals over the internet that he had obtained using stolen identities. 
He has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel investigation.
GUILTY AND JAILED: ALEX VAN DER ZWAAN
Pleaded guilty to making false statements in February 2018. He served a 30-day prison sentence and was deported to the Netherlands on his release
Van der Zwaan was a Dutch attorney for Skadden Arps who worked on a Ukrainian political analysis report for Paul Manafort in 2012. 
He admitted to lying to special counsel investigators about when he last spoke with Rick Gates and Konstantin Kilimnik. His law firm say he was fired.
GUILTY:  W. SAMUEL PATTEN
Pleaded guilty in August 2018 to failing to register as a lobbyist while doing work for a Ukrainian political party. Awaiting sentence
Patten, a long-time D.C. lobbyist was a business partner of Paul Manafort. He pleaded guilty to admitting to arranging an illegal $50,000 donation to Trump's inauguration.
He arranged for an American 'straw donor' to pay $50,000 to the inaugural committee, knowing that it was actually for a Ukrainian businessman.
Neither the American or the Ukrainian have been named.   
CHARGED: KONSTANTIN KILIMNIK
Indicted for obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice. At large, probably in Russia
Kilimnik is a former employee of Manafort's political consulting firm and helped him with lobbying work in Ukraine. He is accused of witness tampering, after he allegedly contacted individuals who had worked with Manafort to remind them that Manafort only performed lobbying work for them outside of the U.S.
He has been linked to  Russian intelligence and is currently thought to be in Russia - effectively beyond the reach of extradition by Mueller's team.
INDICTED: THE RUSSIANS 
Twenty-five Russian nationals and three Russian entities have been indicted for conspiracy to defraud the United States. They remain at large in Russia
Two of these Russian nationals were also indicted for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and 11 were indicted for conspiracy to launder money. Fifteen of them were also indicted for identity fraud. 
Vladimir Putin has ridiculed the charges. Russia effectively bars extradition of its nationals. The only prospect Mueller has of bringing any in front of a U.S. jury is if Interpol has their names on an international stop list - which is not made public - and they set foot in a territory which extradites to the U.S. 
INDICTED: MICHAEL FLYNN'S BUSINESS PARTNERS
Bijan Kian (left), number two in now disgraced former national security adviser Mike Flynn's lobbying company, and the two's business partner Ekim Alptekin (right) were indicted for conspiracy to lobby illegally. Kian is awaiting trial, Alptekin is still to appear in court
Kian, an Iranian-American was arrested and appeared in court charged with a conspiracy to illegally lobby the U.S government without registering as a foreign agent. Their co-conspirator was Flynn, who is called 'Person A' in the indictment and is not charged, offering some insight into what charges he escaped with his plea deal.
Kian, vice-president of Flynn's former lobbying firm, is alleged to have plotted with Alptekin to try to change U.S. policy on an exiled Turkish cleric, Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania and who is accused by Turkey's strongman president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, of trying to depose him.
Erdogan's government wanted him extradited from the U.S. and paid Flynn's firm through Alptekin for lobbying, including an op-ed in The Hill calling for Gulen to be ejected. Flynn and Kian both lied that the op-ed was not paid for by the Turkish government. 
The indictment is a sign of how Mueller is taking an interest in more than just Russian involvement in the 2016 election.
INDICTED: ROGER STONE 
Roger Stone, a former Trump campaign official and longtime informal advisor to Trump, was indited on seven counts including obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and lying to Congress about his communications with WikiLeaks in January 2019. Awaiting trial
Stone was a person of interest to Mueller's investigators long before his January indictment, thanks in part due to his public pronouncements as well as internal emails about his contacts with WikiLeks.
In campaign texts and emails, many of which had already been publicly revealed before showing up in Mueller's indictment, Stone communicated with associates about WikiLeaks following reports the organization had obtained a cache of Clinton-related emails.
Stone, a former Nixon campaign adviser who has the disgraced former president's face permanently tattooed on his back, has long been portrayed as a central figure in the election interference scandal, but as recently as January 4 told Dailymail.com that he doesn't expect to be indicted.
'They got nothing,' he said of the special counsel's investigation.
According to the federal indictment, Stone gave 'false and misleading' testimony about his requests for information from WikiLeaks. He then pressured a witness, comedian Randy Credico, to take the Fifth Amendment rather than testify, and pressured him in a series of emails. Following a prolonged dispute over testimony, he called him a 'rat' and threatened to 'take that dog away from you', in reference to Credico's pet, Bianca. Stone warned him: 'Let's get it on. Prepare to die.'