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Steven Callahan

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  1. A trip to Trinity shopping centre in Leeds turned from fun to shocking for a girl and her mother after they encountered a mascot from a children's charity. The person dressed as Pudsey Bear, the mascot character for the BBC's Children in Need, was photographed alongside a seven-year-old girl by her mother. After sharing the photo with her sister, she realized that the mascot's costume appeared to have an appendage resembling male genitalia between its legs. The woman said she was horrified when she noticed the oddity on the costume. She said it wasn't clear if the person in the suit was genuinely collecting money for charity or if they were a paedophile using it as an excuse to approach children. The BBC released a statement saying they are investigating the incident to ensure it does not happen again. The woman later searched the shopping centre but could not locate the person dressed as Pudsey. It is unclear how many other children encountered the person dressed in the costume. She contacted the BBC and was told that the fund-raiser was not officially sanctioned. BBC officials said that Pudsey suits are issued with certain guidelines for how they are to be worn and used. Official suits are sometimes distributed for fund-raising events. They confirmed that the costumes are not designed to include the appendage on the suit seen by the mother. The statement raised the possibility that the suit was an official version which had been altered or a homemade costume. Children in Need distributes grant money to projects across the UK which aid youths facing poverty, neglect, or disabilities. It relies heavily on donations and Pudsey the Bear is a popular character who serves as a face for the organization. Over 2,400 youth programmes receive support from Children in Need.
  2. The undisputed sexiest song in Ginuwine's arsenal was featured recently in a mascot performance that left fans all hot and bothered. When most hear the song "Pony", they get flashbacks to the original Magic Mike movie. Some even picture a stripping Channing Tatum or Matthew McConaughey. But unless you enjoyed The Revenant for completely different reasons, not many visualize a 7 foot tall bear. Memphis Grizzlies fans were a bit shell shocked last week when the iconic song came on, and not only did the large bear mascot start dancing, but his clothes were quickly torn off his hirsute bod'! The routine was complete with twerks, booty shakes, and 'air humps'. Most of the dancing seemed to be a la Rihanna's "Work" choreography, and who knew Grizz could, "work, work, work, work, work, work." This is not the first time that Grizz has made waves—in the past he got the team, and the reputation of the mascot in trouble in 2014 when he slammed a rival fan into a table. The team management doesn't seem to mind much if he causes controversy. The team does well but isn't a star in the division, and the mascot gets buzz, and therefore butts in seats. Even on the Grizz site "his signature shenanigans" are mentioned. Most of us find this amusing and hilarious—but parents with young kids in the stands may disagree as they often look up to mascots as idols. Who knows, maybe Grizz will be featured in the next Nicki Minaj music video... So next time Grizz is in town, maybe leave the kids with a sitter!In case you care, the Grizzlies won that game by 1 point.
  3. Just a few days before the Chicago Cubs made baseball history with their first World Series title in more than a century, the Pittsburgh Pirates were also making headlines; however, they were nothing to be cheerful about. An incident involving Pirate Parrot, the team's mascot, made baseball fans and legal scholars worried about gun laws in Pennsylvania. It all started with the birthday of Sheriff William Mullen of Allegheny County, when his deputies thought it would be a neat idea to hire the Pirate Parrot to make a paid appearance at the Sheriff's Office during birthday celebrations. There was nothing wrong with Pirate Parrot cheering up Sheriff Mullen on his birthday. The Sheriff happens to be a major Pirates fan, and his deputies routinely provide security for fans during home games at PNC Park. The problem started when deputies thought it would be funny to issue a firearms license to Pirate Parrot. The good people of Pittsburgh learned about the incident because the Sheriff's Office published a photo of the license on its official Facebook Timeline. Thanks to the stunt, baseball fans now know that Pirate Parrot is 36 years old, has green hair and dark eyes, weighs 340 pounds, and was licensed to pack heat back in April of 2015. Although the gun license issuance was clearly a poor attempt at humor by the Sheriff's Office, legal analysts have good reasons to be concerned. The joke clearly violated various statutes, namely 37 Pa.Code. 33.102 and 18 Pa.C.S. 6111. The combination of these two violations constitute a felony of the third degree, and with good reasons: Pennsylvania's gun mortality rate in 2013 was 11.2 per 100,000, which happens to be higher than the national rate. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette responsibly investigated the incident and sought the opinion of Sheriff Mullen and of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Neither one was amused: the Pirates' public relations department was not aware of the photos and the Sheriff explained that no one checked with him before issuing the license. Eventually, the photo of the gun license was removed, but not before legal scholars pointed out a couple of issues: First of all, not only did the Sheriff's Office egregiously issue a gun license, but also acknowledged doing so when it shared it as a Facebook update. Second, this incident may serve a legal precedent for attorneys whose clients have been denied a license. In fact, criminal and civil cases involving firearms can now be fought in court by bringing up the incident, which shows that the Sheriff's Office is careless when it comes to giving away gun licenses. The Pirate Parrot gun license was signed by an issuing authority and now needs to be formally revoked. There is still no word from the mascot regarding the revoking of his gun license. This is also a severe invasion of his privacy, as his personal information was revealed on the gun license. It was a disappointing year for the Pirates, so a mascot civil rights controversy may not be a battle they want to fight. Also, they must decide if the Pirate Parrot can continue his use of the t-shirt cannon during games.
  4. Two months ago, FIFA announced that it had narrowed downs its choices for the Russia 2018 World Cup mascots to three: tiger, cat, and wolf. On Oct. 21, FIFA announced that Zabivaka the wolf has been officially selected as the 2018 World Cup mascot. Creators and designers initially expected Russia to incorporate the bear as its official mascot, considering that Russia has a vast array of bear species. However, Zabivaka has come out as the clear-cut winner in an announcement on Russia's Channel 1 television, with both Local Organizing Committee Chairman Vitaly Mutko and Brazilian football legend Ronaldo in attendance. Ronaldo previously unveiled the 2014 World Cup mascot in Brazil. Nearly one million fans cast their votes on FIFA.com, with Zabivaka receiving 53 percent of the votes. The tiger landed in second place behind Zabivaka with 27 percent of the vote, while the cat mascot received only 20 percent of the vote. An online poll was created to gauge Russian students' mascot design preferences. Upon gathering the final poll results, university students submitted several designs which were subsequently released to the public to choose from, FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura said. Zabivaka, designed by Ekaterina Bocharova, a 21-year-old graphic design student at Tomsk State University, means "the one who scores." According to FIFA.com, Zabivaka is "charming, confident, and social" and will become an "ambassador for Russia and a worldwide 'celebrity'". Although Bocharova is expected to make potentially significant revenue through Zabivaka merchandise and advertisements, Russian news outlet TASS reported that the 21-year-old student received only $500 for her efforts. FIFA now owns the rights to Zabivaka the wolf. World cup mascots are not only known to promote events, matches, and act as marketing ambassadors for FIFA and the host country. Mascots have also traditionally sought to shed light upon wildlife animal species in the host country, particularly endangered species. For example, in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Fuleco brought attention to Brazil’s endangered armadillo. Similarly, Boharova's Zabivaka design attempts to highlight the vast array of animal species present in Russia, not only the bear, which Russia is widely known for around the globe. Bocharova told Russia Today (RT), "But at least my mascot will help them learn that the bear is not the only animal we have in Russia." Zabivaka joins a list of past world cup mascots, such as: Fuleco the armadillo in 2014 in Brazil; Zakumi the leopard in 2010 in South Africa; Geleo V the lion in 2006 in Germany, among others. I think predicting the outcomes of an all time World Cup mascot battle may actually be my next piece. As a reminder, the 2018 World Cup will be held from June 14 to July 15. 12 stadiums will host world cup matches in 11 Russian cities.

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