Ever since the split of original Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward from the group's reunion, the world has been under the impression that it was all a contract dispute. In the latest edition of Mojo magazine, Ozzy Osbourne tells a different story. According to Ozzy, it was more of a case of Ward's competency in remembering his parts. Osbourne said: 'I guess it's to do with finances or something. But there was also another side to it. When Bill came along, we all had to ask, 'Can he do an hour-and-a-half, two-hour gig? Can he cope?' My suggestion was that we run through a set and see how he got on because he was so out of condition and the drummer is the most demanding job in the whole band.
We looked at Bill, and he couldn't remember what the fuck we were doing. But he didn't come clean and say, 'I can't cut this gig, but can we work something out, guys, where I'll come on but with another drummer backing me up?' Or, 'I'll come and play a few songs.' That would have been cool. 'I get where he's coming from, though. His pride was hurt and I get it. I really do get it. The guy will always be a dear, dear friend and a brother to me, but ... He can't be surprised that he didn't get the gig... You know them yellow fucking stick-on memo notes? He had them all over his fucking drums. I was like, 'What the fuck's that for, Bill?' He said, 'I can't remember what I'm doing.' I go, 'How are you gonna remember out of those 500,000 bits of paper stuck all over your kit, which one you're looking at, Bill?' (He said) 'I'll know.' Ah, OK great. I'm not gonna give Bill a hatchet job, but at the same time we haven't got the patience to deal with it.' Ward was replaced by Brad Wilk of Rage Against the Machine for the recording sessions on the album 13 and Tommy Clufetos, who is part of Osbourne's solo band, has been playing for the tour.
A campaign against Griffon vultures is gathering pace in France after it was revealed that the carrion eaters had devoured the body of a 52-year-old woman who fell to her death in the Pyrenees. Major Didier Pericou of the gendarmerie said the woman had fallen down a 300-metre slope while taking a short cut walking with two friends. "There were only bones, clothes and shoes left," he told The Times. "They took 45 to 50 minutes to eat the body."
French farmers are now demanding the right to shoot the protected birds after attacks on sheep and cows. The birds no longer have their diet of carcasses because European health and safety regulations now force breeders to burn dead animals. The Pyrenees population of Griffon vultures has apparently been affected by an EC ruling that due to danger of BSE transmission, no dead animals must be left on the fields. This has critically lowered the food availability of the scavenging birds. Like other vultures, the Griffon is a scavenger, feeding mostly on carcasses of dead animals which it finds by soaring over open areas, often moving in flocks. The maximum lifespan recorded for a specimen kept in captivity is 41.4 years. Fear of vultures has been growing in recent years. Le Nouvel Observateur reports of 'mutant vultures', with one woman saying that a group of the birds, whose wingspans can exceed seven feet, hovered near to where her children were sitting. One farmer, Alain Larralde, reported seeing a group of vultures attack and start eating an adult cow. There have also been alleged sightings of live animals being carried off. "You can't imagine what it is like to see an animal eaten alive," Mr Larralde was reported to have said. Over the past few months, there have been 42 claims for compensation from farmers who say they have had livestock taken by the birds. The vultures, which have evolved to eat carrion and not tackle live prey, may have changed their habits due to starvation. According to a New Scientist report, there have been cases of vultures grabbing the bodies of shot animals before the hunters can reach them. "We are seeing three-figure vulture flocks over Belgium and Holland. These birds are fanning out across Europe in search of food," Grahame Madge, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds' European bird of prey expert told the Mail.