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#ICYMI 2018 in review - Part 2: Thai boys, Brexit, blimps and getting away with murder

#ICYMI 2018 Part 2
If the first half of 2018 was all about Novichok, the second half of 2018 saw a murderous scandal introduce another new word into the media lexicon; Khashoggi.

Saudi Arabia was allegedly caught killing journalist Jamal Khashoggi. There was outrage, but no sanctions against one of the West's biggest cash cow allies.

Also making the headlines; the summer saw Donald Trump on his travels, finally making it to meet the Queen in Britain, a group of Thai boys made it out alive from an underground cave, and by the end of the year French protesters in yellow vests were threatening President Macron's political survival.

Mr. Potato

Prize-winning clown 'deeply offended' by misuse and misrepresentation of the word 'clown' to describe politicians

© Sam Stephenson/Alamy Stock Photo
‘I am deeply offended by the misuse and misrepresentation of “clown”’, says David Konyot.
With regard to your recent article and headline (Our elders are supposed to be older and wiser. But not these Brexit clowns, theguardian.com, 21 December), I am a prize-winning international musical clown, part of an honourable profession, and am deeply offended by the misuse and misrepresentation of "clown" in connection with parliamentary or other forms of chaotic behaviour.

The constant use of the word "circus" in the press to denote a mess or bad behaviour is also distasteful. Unlike the comparison the press constantly draws, a clown or indeed a circus must be orderly and efficient to work properly. And in the case of a circus, it takes teamwork - which is the opposite of the impression the press gives.

Please could the fourth estate find other words to describe political behaviour.

David Konyot
Tilney St Lawrence, Norfolk

Comment: Let's hope this clown is just getting some laughs out of the ridiculousness of today's PC culture. That said, given the absurdity of our environment, it's entirely possible this clown is completely serious.


#ICYMI runs down 2018: Mad Max Britain, Trump, and the great Novichokking - (Part 1)

ICMY year in review
© RT
It's been a wild one!
2018 will be remembered as the year everyone learnt the word 'Novichok,' as well as finding out that Salisbury Cathedral has a 123-meter-high spire. However, there was lots more going on besides the Skripal saga.

2018 was also the year Brexit still didn't happen, Trump met North Korea's Kim Jong-un to discuss nukes on a mini-break in Singapore, and there was the usual hysteria over royal babies and royal weddings.

So here's ICYMI's look back at some of the key stories from 2018, Part 1.

For more #ICYMI, follow on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Black Cat 2

Cats will be cats!

© Twitter
First, let's take a moment to introduce one of Japan's greatest products: the kotatsu. A staple of Japanese homes, the kotatsu is a heated table that can function as an ordinary surface space in the summer and transform into your own personal heaven-on-earth in the winter. Just throw a special futon blanket on top, switch on the heater, and stick your legs underneath for a blissfully toasty experience that is further enhanced while watching the snow fall outside.

One of the coolest things about kotatsu is that they come in all shapes and sizes. Some of the more unusual designs we've seen include movie theater versions and even a tiny kotatsu for one. But despite the variety, even we were a bit surprised to learn that there are kotatsu out there not just for us but for our furry friends as well!

Japanese Twitter user @usagi_drive recently purchased one such special pet kotatsu for her cat. It seemed like a foolproof idea at the time-cats love curling up in warm and cozy places, so what could her pet possibly not like about it? As it turned out, she forgot to factor in the simple fact that it's a cat we're talking about:

"I bought a cat kotatsu! I'm so glad that he seems to like it."
Yes, that tweet was laced with more than a little sarcasm. Poor @usagi_drive...she was so excited to give her cat such a wonderful gift, only to become increasingly frustrated as he ignored it for the cardboard box instead (ah yes-classic cat play).


Longstanding American tradition of staying in the Middle East indefinitely, broken by Trump

© Babylon Bee
Washington, D.C.- After Trump announced that US troops would be pulled out of Syria, the President was quickly criticized by leaders on both the left and the right for breaking with the longstanding American tradition of remaining in Middle Eastern countries indefinitely.

Trump drew ire from both sides of the aisle for his "careless and reckless" disregard for the beloved American custom of meddling overseas without a congressional declaration of war and then hanging around for another few decades.

"Occupying a country on the other side of the globe and staying there forever is an American pastime," said a CNN host. "For Trump to pull out when we haven't even been there a decade yet is a disgusting display of his selfishness and unwillingness to conform to the standards of presidential decorum."


"Stupid Woman" the nicest thing anyone has called Theresa May in months

Jeremy & Theresa
© (L) Reuters/Simon Dawson; (R) Reuters/Toby Melville
Whitehall insiders have secretly revealed that Downing Street is actually quite touched by the kind words directed at Theresa May by Jeremy Corbyn during parliamentary questions today.

During a fractious round of question, the opposition leader took time out to mouth the words "stupid woman" at the prime minister, in a show of solidarity to illustrate that some people think she's merely incompetent and out of her depth, rather than the Machiavellian villain of the piece secretly intent of ruining life as we know it.

As one party official told us, "Theresa has been called everything under the sun in the last 18 months, but I think it's fair to say that in context 'stupid woman' is about as harsh as a back rub and a cup of tea - and she recognises that show of support from the Labour front benches.


How the cookies crumble: Gingerbread men banned at Scottish Parliament in drive to 'stamp out sexism'

© Shutterstock/Marie C. Fields
Offensive cookies no more
Gingerbread men have been replaced by gingerbread persons in the Scottish Parliament's coffee shop in case the traditional name causes offence.

The move comes as a strategy aimed at stamping out sexual harassment and sexism was introduced at Holyrood this week after a survey found 30 per cent of women working there believed they had been sexually harassed.

But the decision to rename the sweet treat has not gone down well with everyone.

Scottish Conservative equalities spokesman Annie Wells said: 'Surely the Scottish Parliament has got better things to do than worry about what to call gingerbread men? This is an utterly pointless gesture which simply trivialises the real issues of gender equality.'

A Scottish Parliament spokesman would not comment except to say: 'They [the gingerbread persons] were delicious and sold out.'


Parrot tries to order items using Amazon's Alexa

Parrot Uses Alexa
© Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited
A mischievous parrot was caught ordering strawberries, watermelons and ice-cream after 'falling in love' with Amazon's voice-activated device Alexa.

Rocco, a homeless African grey, keeps using the personal assistant to order his favourite treats, as well kites and light bulbs, and likes to set the mood by playing romantic music.

The clever bird was taken in by the National Animal Welfare Trust's Berkshire centre earlier this year after he was found as a stray.

But staff member Marion Wischnewski agreed to become his foster parent after he caused a few issues in the Great Shefford office by swearing and throwing his water bowl around.

Ms Wischnewski said fun-loving Rocco enjoys dancing and putting on his favourite tunes.

But thanks to a parental lock on her Amazon account, the attempted purchases have not gone through, The Times reported.

Cell Phone

Titania McGrath: "I now understand how Nelson Mandela felt"

joan of arc
My name is Titania McGrath. I am a radical intersectionalist poet committed to feminism, social justice, and armed peaceful protest. In April of this year, I decided to become more industrious on social media. I was inspired by other activists who had made use of their online platforms in order to spread their message and explain to people why they are wrong about everything.

This week the powers-that-be at Twitter hit my account with a "permanent suspension" (a semantic contradiction, but then I suppose bigots aren't known for their grammatical prowess). This was the latest in a series of suspensions, all of which were imposed because I had been too woke. The final straw appeared to be a tweet in which I informed my followers that I would be attending a pro-Brexit march so that I could punch a few UKIP supporters in the name of tolerance.

Comment: For any that don't know, Ms McGrath's Twitter account has some of the best examples of parody and satire to be found on the platform. It's well worth the follow - @TitaniaMcGrath

Christmas Tree

Wild beaver spotted in supermarket looking for the perfect Christmas tree

A beaver left his or her dam in Charlotte Hall Monday on a quest to find Christmas decorations at a local dollar store, the St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office reports.

Witnesses say they saw the beaver attempting to select the perfect Christmas tree and checking out other discounted holiday decor.

Corporal Yingling was called in after the beaver reportedly caused some property damage to the store.

Officials say the beaver attempted to flee the area when Yingling arrived but he or she was safely "apprehended" by Animal Control.