The Bodyguard Star Ben Richards on Not Singing in a Musical & Why He Likes Being a Replacement

first_img Ben Richards is a major TV name in Britain who has distinguished himself across a range of musicals, including Grease and Guys and Dolls to The Full Monty and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. He can currently be seen at the Dominion Theatre opposite star Beverley Knight in a fresh run of The Bodyguard, the stage version of the iconic 1992 film that starred Kevin Costner in the title role of Whitney Houston’s minder. The delightful Richards took time one recent afternoon to chat about takeovers and conquering the Big C in an honest and wide-ranging interview. You’re the latest in a strong line of actors to play the title role in The Bodyguard on stage: what has that been like?What’s interesting is that I accepted [the part of] Frank on the strength of the script and what I had heard, which is probably a bit of a gamble. Otherwise, there can be that element of watching someone’s performance and then you try and copy it, whereas I try to inhabit the role without any outside influences.Frank Farmer is an unusual part for a musical theater performer given that he has next to nothing to sing.Yes, and when you do hear him sing, it’s very badly in the karaoke scene! In some ways what’s weird about The Bodyguard is that for most of the characters it’s like a play. It’s when you have the concert numbers, with Beverley as Rachel Marron, that it becomes a musical.So you don’t have to worry about your voice?It’s so nice not to have to do that. The thing with Frank is that the part is about being grounded; he’s the anchor of the piece. It’s important, too, in a show about an entertainer that Frank isn’t Mr. Showbiz. He looks after big people, and he’s prepared to take a bullet on the job. You make the interesting point that the 1992 Kevin Costner film doesn’t at first glance suggest itself as a stage musical.Not the way that, say, when you see Moulin Rouge, you think, “I can see how they would put it on stage.” But what’s really clever about the way [director] Thea Sharrock has done this is that the set is like an iris: it moves in and out and helps direct your eyes to where she wants you to watch. So in a way it manages to be theatrical and cinematic at the same time.Do you think attracts people who don’t necessarily go to musicals?Or theater shows of any sort, much like when I did Rock of Ages. These sorts of shows encourage people who don’t normally have a night at the theater because, at least in the case of The Bodyguard, everyone knows the songs. I saw the movie when I first started going to the cinema and have been singing and dancing along to Whitney Houston ever since. Do you relate to the world of the show—that’s to say, of intense celebrity and the need for bodyguards that goes with that? Well, the first thing to say is that Bev [Knight] understands it completely as a recording artist and star and knows what it’s like, at least to a certain level. And though she herself doesn’t live like that, she knows the terrain. I’ve found for my part that I’m not very interested in the media circus where you end up going to the opening of an envelope. I’d much rather be around friends and do normal stuff or be here in the country [in Hertfordshire, north of London] with my family. That’s what keeps me sane. You’re no stranger to takeovers.It’s nice when  you get to experience all the research and the fun stuff. But, honestly, if you’re doing interesting work and playing interesting characters, I’m just happy to be working—and in a good productionThe result has allowed you a broad range of parts.That’s the intention. I want to be as chameleon-like as I can be, whether that means playing a gay drag queen in Priscilla or a 1980s misogynistic boss [on tour] in 9 to 5 or a shaven-headed thug in Oliver! or a rock god in Rock of Ages. What’s good is when the work keeps changing: the goal with each project is to switch it up.You’ve been very candid about having had bowel cancer and subsequently became an ambassador for Bowel Cancer UK. By the time 9 to 5 came along, I had finished treatment and knew I could do [the show], so they were, like, “OK, we trust you to do your thing.”  It’s been four years now since the diagnosis, and I feel fantastic; a fifth year in the clear will be the big marker. This must give you a new and considered perspective on life.Very much so, and I’m always aware that things could have gone the other way. You learn for one thing to take less for granted. But I find more than ever that I like where I am going and I’m very happy. We’re scheduled to do The Bodyguard in Toronto in the first half of next year, for instance, and I’m incredibly excited about that. I’ll get to do my American accent in North America.That should be cool. And what about once you’re back in the U.K.? Well, there’s certainly a big buzz about this Hamilton show, but I don’t know if there are any white guys in it. Ben Richards & Mickell Stewart-Grimes in ‘The Bodyguard’ (Photo: Alessandro Pinna) View Commentslast_img read more

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Free computers

first_imgBy Tess HammockGeorgia 4-H’s Need a Computer program made 34 lucky students’ holidays brighter by awarding each of them a free personal computer. The philanthropic program began 11 years ago as a 4-H project for Rachel McCarthy, then a Walton County 4-H’er. She and her father, Jim, received donated computers, refurbished them and gave the computers to 4-H’ers in Walton County. After Rachel graduated from high school, her sister, Amanda, began to head up the Need a Computer program. In 2003, the state 4-H Youth Technology Team picked up the program and has since awarded more than 500 computers to needy 4-H’ers across the state. The team accepts computer donations all year and refurbishes them in the fall. This includes loading them with licensed software programs, cleaning, restoring hard drives and testing each computer and monitor to ensure the computers are in tip-top shape. “Most of the computers are two or three years old,” said Cheryl Varnadoe. “We don’t accept older computers because we want to give the students computers that will be capable of running current programs and the Internet.” Varnadoe is a UGA Extension 4-H specialist and the YTT state coordinator. This year, applications were received from 50 fifth through 12th grade students and 34 computers were awarded. Applicants must write an essay about why they want and need a computer and submit letters of reference from teachers and community leaders.The winning 4-H’ers’ reasons for needing a computer are varied.In Coweta County, Makayla Denise Herndon wanted a computer for her mother. “My mom is a single parent who does her best to get us to the library or print off information when she is at work,” she said “This computer would take a lot of pressure off of her.” Brittany Veal in Ben Hill County hopes having a computer of her own will help her grades. “Having my own computer will be like having a tutor at home with me, and I won’t have to have others laugh at me if I make a mistake,” she said.A computer will help Dy’Amond McGhee of Bryan County save time and money. “I write my research paper on notebook paper at home and I go to the library to type and print the research paper because I don’t have a printer. And I have to pay 10 cents a page!” Tyler Haymans of Walton County hopes his new computer will help him control his autism. “I have PDD-NOS. That is a form of autism. I don’t get as upset and frustrated typing as I do writing,” he said.Wilkinson County 4-H’er Corey Spann plans to use his computer to practice for tests. “I am already behind one grade in school, but I want to do better. If I get a computer, I can practice for the CRCT because I have to pass it to go to the next grade,” he said.For information on donating a computer or applying for the 2012 program, visit www.georgia4h.org/public/edops/techteam/Need-A-Computer/default.htm.Tess Hammock is a student writer with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.last_img read more

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Arrests of Journalists In Ferguson Further Fuel Debate About US Press Freedoms

first_img“The real reason I’m doing this is for the future of journalism,” Risen said, according to McClatchy.Risen isn’t the only journalist caught in the Obama administration’s crosshairs.There’s also the case of the government seizing Associated Press phone records amid a leak probe and the labeling of Fox News reporter James Rosen as a co-conspirator along with U.S. State Department Adviser Stephen Kim, who was indicted for allegedly revealing information about a North Korean nuclear test.Obama also oversees an administration that has charged more people—eight—under the Espionage Act of 1917 than all administrations combined.And then there is Barrett Brown, a Texas-based journalist, who has been jailed for 23 months, and who up until early March faced more than 100 years in prison for allegedly trafficking stolen authentication features, access device fraud and identity theft—all related to his sharing a link of publicly available information, albeit hacked information. Brown later pleaded guilty to several charges and now faces 8 ½ years in prison.But his prosecution—and the Obama administration’s so-called “war on whistleblowers”—caused the international press freedom group Reporters Without Borders to drop the United States’ ranking in its yearly “press freedom index” last year, from 32 to 46. #453803802 / gettyimages.com Was arrested— Wesley Lowery (@WesleyLowery) August 14, 2014 Committee to Protect Journalists, a press freedom organization, has condemned what it called the harassment of journalists in Ferguson.“Ferguson is an international story and journalists are going to cover it. They have a right to do so without fearing for their safety or liberty,” CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney said in a statement. “The harassment and detention of reporters must stop. From senior commanders on down, the word must go out to security forces to let journalists do their job.”The arrests of Reily and Lowery was widely reported the next morning, and prompted public outrage, as well as this response from President Obama during an unscheduled statement to reporters in which he addressed the unrest in Ferguson:“There is never an excuse for violence against police, or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting. There’s also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests, or to throw protestors in jail for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights. And here, in the United States of America, police should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs and report to the American people on what they see on the ground. Put simply, we all need to hold ourselves to a high standard, particularly those of us in positions of authority.”Here was the president standing up for press freedoms. But, not everyone was heartened by those comments, especially supporters of Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter James Risen, whose freedom currently hangs in the balance. Police come into McD where me and @ryanjreilly working. Try to kick everyone out.— Wesley Lowery (@WesleyLowery) August 13, 2014 Video of my arrest: http://t.co/baiYPQGfc7/s/ZHkX— Wesley Lowery (@WesleyLowery) August 14, 2014 Last week, press freedom groups handed the DOJ a petition signed by 100,000 Risen supporters, urging Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to “halt all legal action” against the journalist. “Before Obama took office, only three whistleblowers have been charged,” Delphine Halgand, U.S. director of Reporters Without Borders, told the Press in March. “That really reminds us that leaks are really crucial, are the lifeblood of investigative journalists, given that nearly all information related to national security is considered secret and classified, so that’s why we really see this war on whistleblowers [as] a clear strategy. This crackdown against whistleblowers is clearly designed to restrict all but officially approved versions of the events.”For national security reporters like Risen—who along with the Times’ Eric Lichtblau in 2005 broke the story about illegal wiretapping of U.S. citizens without warrants—anonymous sources are key to shedding light on government activities.“It’s obviously had an effect, but I’m trying to keep working,” Risen said of the government putting legal pressure on him to reveal his source.Before petitioning the Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth District also declined to hear his appeal.Judge Roger L. Gregory, who wrote the dissenting opinion for the court, criticized his colleagues and said: “Democracy without information about the activities of the government is hardly a democracy.”He continued:“The public, of course, does not have a right to see all classified information held by our government. But public debate on American military and intelligence methods is a critical element of public oversight of our government. Protecting the reporter’s privilege ensures the informed public discussion of important moral, legal, and strategic issues. Public debate helps our government act in accordance with our Constitution and our values. Given the unprecedented volume of information available in the digital age—including information considered classified—it is important for journalists to have the ability to elicit and convey to the public an informed narrative filled with detail and context. Such reporting is critical to the way our citizens obtain information about what is being done in their name by the government.”That’s all Risen and the reporters in Ferguson are trying to do.James Risen US Court of Appeals Decision Officers decided we weren’t leaving McDonalds quickly enough, shouldn’t have been taping them.— Wesley Lowery (@WesleyLowery) August 14, 2014 #453605958 / gettyimages.com Released without any charges, no paperwork whatsoever— Wesley Lowery (@WesleyLowery) August 14, 2014 Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York The chaos that has erupted in the streets of Ferguson, Mo. following the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a local police officer on Aug. 9 has ignited long-simmering racial tensions in the St. Louis suburb and has also brought to the mainstream another question that has been boiling in recent years: How free is the press in America?At least a dozen journalists have either been arrested or detained without charge for reporting on the deteriorating conditions in Ferguson. The first two reporters handcuffed by police there were the Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery and the Huffington Post’s Ryan J. Reily, who both tweeted about the experience. Lowery wrote a firsthand account a day after his arrest. Both were inside a McDonald’s when they raised the suspicion of police. They were released after a Los Angeles Times reporter called the Ferguson police chief and notified him of their arrest. Risen faces jail time for refusing to identify his source in his 2006 book State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration, which revealed “a failed attempt by the CIA to have a former Russian scientist provide flawed nuclear weapons blueprints to Iran,” according to court documents from Risen’s federal appeals court hearing.The Department of Justice can call Risen to testify and ask him to reveal his source, even though the government has already indicted former CIA agent Jeffrey Sterling for disclosing classified information about Iran’s nuclear weapons operation to Risen. If that happens and the reporter refuses to reveal his source, he could potentially be jailed on charges of contempt of court. But, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said, “As long as I’m attorney general, no reporter will go to jail for doing his job.”The classified information in question was originally going to be reported in the Times, but the government asked the paper not to publish it. Risen then decided to publish the material in his book.From court documents:“Although The New York Times had agreed not to publish information about Classified Program No. 1, Risen published a book, State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration (“State of War”), in January 2006, which did disclose the classified information. J.A. 721. Specifically, Chapter 9 of the book, entitled “A Rogue Operation,” reveals details about Classified Program No. 1. J.S.A. 219-32. In the book, Risen entitled the program “Operation Merlin” and described it as a “failed attempt by the CIA to have a former Russian scientist provide flawed nuclear weapon blueprints to Iran.” J.A. 722. Risen does not reveal his sources for the classified information in Chapter 9, nor has he indicated whether he had more than one source. However, much of the chapter is told from the point of view of a CIA case officer responsible for handling Human Asset No. 1. The chapter also describes two classified meetings at which Sterling was the only common attendee.”Risen exhausted all his legal avenues after the Supreme Court declined to hear his appeal. Despite his precarious situation, Risen has vowed to never reveal his source.In a recent interview with his colleague Maureen Dowd, Risen called Obama “the greatest enemy to press freedom in a generation.” He had the same choice remarks for Obama during a panel discussion as part of the George Polk Awards conference back in March.last_img read more

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Synergy Athletics bring workouts to your living room

first_imgVESTAL (WBNG) — When Synergy Athletics found out gyms would be closing due to COVID-19, they had to get a little creative with exercising at home. “Exercise is a portion of it, but community building is the most important thing to take care of right now. So we really trust to have our stuff out there, and it feels really good that the members are using it and staying healthy during this stressful time,” said Synergy Athletics President Joe Hashey. Hashey says the combination of gym equipment and workout videos will give members plenty of exercise all while staying safe indoors. The gym even took it a step further, having trainers live stream workout videos every day to give members some guidance in exercise. “We provide them with recordings if they’re not able to and they’re at work. We do it through the weekend, they can watch the videos, follow along with the exercise, and if they have any injuries, we write personal programs, video them, and send them along,” said Hashey. Before temporarily closing, the gym offered to loan equipment to members that wanted to stay active from home. From dumbbells to elliptical machines, Synergy Athletics says they want to support their community by keeping them healthy and active. “I think being busy is good medicine for a lot of us right now. Being able to do what we love, and reach people, and build community through exercise, that portion of the experience has been very positive,” said Hashey.last_img read more

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Indian Kashmir locks down, pilgrimage off as virus cases surge

first_imgIndian-administered Kashmir on Wednesday imposed a strict lockdown for a week as authorities warned of rising coronavirus cases, one day after cancelling a major annual Hindu pilgrimage.India, which has recorded almost 1.2 million infections and is the world’s third-most infected nation, had significantly eased a months-long shutdown to revive its shattered economy.But numerous states across the nation of 1.3 billion people have reimposed restrictions in recent weeks as case numbers exploded, sparking fears of overwhelmed healthcare systems. On Tuesday, the Amarnath Yatra — an annual Hindu pilgrimage to a cave shrine in Kashmir that draws some 300,000 participants — was cancelled for the first time in more than a century.The pilgrimage, held for nearly two months, is usually guarded by some 40,000 government forces as well as health professionals.But authorities said they were not able to divert such huge resources to the event with the health crisis still raging.”The health concerns are so serious that the strain on the health system, along with the diversion in resources to the yatra, will be immense,” officials said late Tuesday.”This would also unnecessarily put the yatris [pilgrims] at risk of catching COVID-19.”Kashmir has so far reported nearly 16,000 virus cases including 273 deaths in the region of 14 million people, local health officials said Wednesday.Manipur, with a population of 2.8 million people, has recorded 2,015 infections but no loss of life. The Kashmir lockdown came just before the major Eid al-Adha festival of animal sacrifice, which begins at the end of the month and lasts for several days.It also came ahead of the first anniversary on August 5 of the controversial stripping of Kashmir’s autonomy by India’s Hindu nationalist government.Last year’s pilgrimage was cut short abruptly days before the autonomy decision, with authorities claiming pilgrims and tourists faced terror threats from anti-India rebel groups.Severe restrictions on movement and communications were also imposed across the restive region to quell any unrest.Kashmir has waged a three-decade-long armed rebellion against Indian rule with tens of thousands of lives, mostly civilians, lost in the conflict. Officials in Kashmir said the Muslim-majority Himalayan valley, apart from one district, would go into lockdown until July 29, when the restrictions would be reviewed.”Complete lockdown in all red districts… from today evening,” the local administration’s information department tweeted.Agriculture, construction, and the transportation of fuel and other goods is permitted under the order.A similar declaration by the small northeastern state of Manipur was made hours later, with the shutdown to be put in place Thursday afternoon for a week, extendable to 14 days.center_img Topics :last_img read more

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Governor Wolf Statement on Death of Trooper Michael Stewart

first_img Statement Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf released the following statement on the tragic death of Pennsylvania State Trooper Michael P. Stewart, who died early this morning in a traffic accident while on duty in Westmoreland County:“Frances and I were deeply saddened to learn of the loss of Pennsylvania State Trooper Michael P. Stewart. This young trooper’s tragic death is a reminder of the selfless sacrifice made each day by every state trooper and their families.He served his fellow Pennsylvanians, his troop and our Commonwealth with honor and integrity. We join all Pennsylvanians in mourning his loss, and send our sincerest sympathies, thoughts and prayers to his family, friends and all the women and men of the Pennsylvania State Police.” July 14, 2017 SHARE Email Facebook Twittercenter_img Governor Wolf Statement on Death of Trooper Michael Stewartlast_img read more

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Brisbane’s property market still offers good value with new research revealing it has become more appealing to investors

first_imgBrisbane’s prospects are set to grow, according to Terry Ryder.BRISBANE’S property market still offers good value with new research revealing it has become more appealing to investors.According to Terry Ryder of Hotspotting the best time to buy in the Sydney and Melbourne has well and truly passed.But he said Brisbane had prices roughly half those of Sydney and “considerably higher’’ rental yields.“Brisbane’s prospects are set to grow as the state economy improves after several years of lukewarm performance,’’ he said.Mr Ryder said while price growth for the entire Brisbane market has been fairly moderate in the past two or three years some suburbs had achieved double digit growth. He said the Brisbane metropolitan area was one of the most active capital city markets in Australia in terms of transaction numbers and he expected better price growth this year in specific areas. The Moreton Bay region, to Brisbane’s north was the leading area for market activity according to Mr Ryder.He said this was driven by affordability and infrastructure and also closeness to jobs nodes.More from newsMould, age, not enough to stop 17 bidders fighting for this home3 hours agoBuyers ‘crazy’ not to take govt freebies, says 28-yr-old investor3 hours agoHe said the Redcliffe Peninsula had been driven by the completion of the long awaited rail link.Logan City was also a strong performer to the south of Brisbane. Mr Ryder said it had been a “market leader’’ in the past two years. While that had dropped off a little he said it would continue to attract homebuyers and investorsbecause of its cheap housing, good transport and infrastructure.Mr Ryder said suburbs within Ipswich City, had similar qualities to Logan.He said many of those suburbs were now delivering good price growth.The Redlands, to the east was now chalking up a higher number of sales because of its affordability.“It is increasingly emerging as an area of economic development and has good proximity to the Port of Brisbane and to Brisbane Airport.’’last_img read more

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Forget Noosa, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle should stay here on their honeymoon

first_imgPrince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex. Photo: James Whatling/MEGA.THE owners of a majestic property in the Sunshine Coast hinterland that once hosted royalty have embarked on a new push to sell it.With all the focus on the royal newlyweds of late, it’s only fitting this heritage-listed Queenslander now holds extra appeal, given it was the residence of choice for the Duke of Gloucester during a royal visit in 1934. And if it was good enough for the Duke, surely it would be accommodating enough for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. GET THE LATEST REAL ESTATE NEWS DIRECT TO YOUR INBOX HERE The entrance to the heritage-listed Buderim House.Listing agent Lew Pottinger from Ray White Buderim said it would be fitting for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to consider visiting Buderim House.“That would be repeating history to a certain degree,” Mr Pottinger said.“The Duke of Gloucester and Prince Harry probably share some interesting characteristics and reputations.“I think the Duke of Gloucester was a bit of a lad.” Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, on their wedding day. Photo: Ben Stansall/Getty Images.The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are reportedly planning to holiday in Australia later this year.Meghan’s close friend and former Suits co-star Gabriel Macht — whose wife is Australian actor Jacinda Barrett — reportedly offered Harry and Meghan the opportunity to relax at their Noosa beach house.But further inland, Buderim House has so much more history and grandeur to offer the newlyweds. SUITS STAR OPENS NOOSA HOME TO PRINCE HARRY AND MEGHAN MARKLE The games room at Buderim House at 10 Orme Rd, Buderim.Character shines through in the fretwork, ornate cornices, ceiling roses, lead-lighting, casement windows, French doors and handsome fireplaces. The cosy living room at Buderim House.They set about transforming it into a large, family-friendly home with five bedrooms, four bathrooms, an office, a built-in bar and commercial wine fridge, five-vehicle lockup accommodation and a large resort-style pool and spa.There’s even a games room that Prince Harry could turn into a man cave, while Meghan relaxed by the pool surrounded by lush tropical gardens. STATE’S MEGA-MILLIONS SALES THE HEIGHT OF LUXURY More from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus17 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market17 hours agoThe deck leading from the kitchen in Buderim House.Change of ownership over the years saw the addition of a tower, flagpole, “Buderim House” inscribed in a leadlight panel at the front door, and modernising of the landscape.Owners Tim and Jackie Banks first spotted Buderim House in 1996, when it was a run-down commercial function space.center_img Buderim House at 10 Orme Rd, Buderim, is a grand residence fit for royalty.The grand residence on 6315 sqm, at 10 Orme Rd, Buderim, was built circa 1913 on the highest point of the northern slope of Mt Buderim, overlooking the Maroochy coast and river valley. Pioneer Buderim sugar planter, mill owner and fruit grower John Fielding bought the land in 1876 and the homestead was built after his son Herbert acquired the property. RECORD BRISBANE BLOCK SOLD FOR SYDNEY PRICE An ensuite for one of the five bedrooms at Buderim House at 10 Orme Rd, Buderim.Mr Pottinger said the property was unique for the Sunshine Coast and one of only two homes in Buderim that were heritage-listed.“It’s perfect for raising a family and entertaining,” he said. One of the bedrooms at Buderim House. The regal interior of Buderim House at 10 Orme Rd, Buderim.last_img read more

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I AM HUMAN. I have a right to life. Abortion takes away that right

first_imgFamily First Comment: All human beings have the right to be safe. The right not to be tortured. The right to be free. But one human right is more important than all of the others. The right to life. Because without the right to life being first, we cannot enjoy any other human right. Because without the right to life, the first right, there are no other human rights ? Now abortion campaigners want you to take away this right from preborn children. #chooselife.org.nzI AM HUMAN. I HAVE A RIGHT TO LIFE.last_img

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Suspected drug pusher falls in Jaro buy-bust

first_imgThe 19-year-old Mark Arian Billon ofBarangay Democracia, also in Jaro district, was caught around 5:30 p.m., apolice report showed. ILOILO City – Police arrested asuspected drug pusher in a buy-bust operation in Barangay Our Lady of Lourdes,Jaro district. Prior to his arrest, Billon sold asachet of suspected marijuana to undercover officer for P1,000, the reportadded. center_img Detained inside the lockup cell of theJaro police station, the suspect faces charges faces charges for violation of RepublicAct 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002./PNlast_img

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