Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Littlejohn attacks media over Jackson coverage, omits current and former bosses

Richard Littlejohn's latest column focuses on the outpourings of emotion following the death of Michael Jackson. Even in that he manages to include a bit of gay-bashing, referring to the 'provisional wing of the Friends of Dorothy,' whatever the hell that means.

Never one to shy away from his enormous ego, he claims he is 'someone steeped in the history of Motown'. Even if he does say so himself.

Using this 'expertise' Littlejohn goes on to claim Jackson is 'a fairly minor figure compared with Smokey, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Holland-Dozier-Holland, the Tops and the Temps'. I may not be as 'steeped in the history of Motown' as our world authority, but I would have said that Jackson became much more of a pop figure than a Motown one, so the comparison (and showing off) is a bit pointless.

Our 'expert' then goes on to dismiss Jackson further, claiming his:

global fame and fortune was predicated upon a single album, Thriller, which owes as much to Quincy Jones's brilliant production and John Landis's groundbreaking video as it does to the songs themselves.

As if nothing before or after Thriller was of any importance and, in any case, that album's success wasn't really down to him anyway.

Thriller is the biggest selling album of all time, so we have heard repeatedly over the last few days, but given his Off the Wall - which came out three years before Thriller - sold 20 million copies and Bad, five years later, sold 30 million, Thriller doesn't appear to be the be all and end all. Perhaps Littlejohn isn't as 'steeped' in knowledge about Jackson's music as he likes to think.

He then switches his attention to the media, and follows in the great Mail tradition of bashing the BBC: 'As usual, the BBC went bonkers, with one reporter even wearing a black tie.' He neglects to mention that Sky had just as much coverage on its news channel, although this surely has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact he used to have a debate show on Sky News.

He then has a pop at the printed press for all their coverage:

Newspapers followed suit. Rainforests have been felled to churn out special souvenir supplements, which will end up as cat litter.

Of course the Mail would never go overboard in its coverage. If you put Michael Jackson's name into the Mail website search engine, there is simply no way that you would find some 90 articles that mention him since his death five days ago (including, at time of writing, four in their 'top story' section).

And the Mail certainly wouldn't have put Jackson on the front page for three days running from 27-29 June.

And the Mail's star columnist definitely wouldn't dream of indulging in such 'bonkers' coverage with 909 words of his own on the subject.

Oh wait.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Mail wants you be to afraid of Sharia courts

The Mail's front page splash Britain has 85 Sharia courts is based on a a Civitas report, co-written by Denis MacEoin. MacEoin was author of the infamous Policy Exchange report, and also oversaw the nonsense about Harry Potter and Ludo being 'banned' in Muslim schools. So while intelligent people may want to question the report, the Mail cut and pastes the press release and sticks it on the front page. And adds an editorial.

The Mail isn't the only one - the Sun has also received the press release, but adds the word 'fundamentalist' to the word 'Sharia' to make it all seem more scary. It then adds, with some useful explanation that:
Some UK sharia courts work as part of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) system which works with British law to deal with commercial, civil, and matrimonial matters and some instances of domestic violence and neighbourly disputes.
And that is, apparently, 'fundamentalist'.

Then the Guardian has given MacEoin an opportunity to explain his position in their Comment is Free section. He states:
I have not been able to get reports of live rulings from tribunals, but there are a large number of online sites which offer fatwas in answer to questions posed by believers and these seem likely to represent the kind of answers which tribunals in Britain must produce.
So this 'academic' has written a report based not on what has actually happened, but what might have happened based on what he has discovered via Google. As there is, according to an earlier Guardian article, five different schools of interpretation of Sharia it seems near impossible to claim the examples he has found are sure to be representative anyway.

But no such analysis, or even attempts to find out facts, has come into the Mail's report. It does include a side-panel on the workings of a Sharia court from 2008, but even the headline to that - 'The elders who dole out justice' - sounds like it is something of the vigilante about it (who else 'doles out justice'?) Why does neither the Mail nor the report say the Jewish Beth Din courts, for example, 'dole out justice'? Could it be that MacEoin has declared himself 'pro-Israeli and involve myself in the defence of Israel'?

Instead the Mail includes a quote - again direct from the press release - from Civitas Director David Green saying:
The reality is that for many Muslims, sharia courts are in practice part of an institutionalised atmosphere of intimidation, backed by the ultimate sanction of a death threat.
Maybe the report provides evidence for this, but it sounds like wild anti-Islam scaremongering to suggest that this is the case in this country (certainly the Mail's sidebar example makes no such claim).

The Guardian have said columnists have been commissioned to write counter-articles to MacEoin, which will surely provide better and deeper understanding of the detail of the Sharia issue than I can. I will update the post then.

Melanie Phillips joins Mail attack on BBC

The BBC finds itself in the crosshairs of the Daily Mail once again. The whole of page 5, part of the editorial and a Melanie Phillips op-ed piece of today's edition are all devoted to attacking the Beeb. Partly because of expenses and partly that in order to broadcast over 170 hours of the Glastonbury festival on TV, radio and online, it had to send quite a few people to the event. Shock horror.

No word that the coverage was of a very high standard with viewers being able to pick and choose between everyone from Lady GaGa to Neil Young, Status Quo to Amadu and Mariam.

(The Telegraph, The Sun and the Star have also covered the Glastonbury angle, although all these stories are almost identical.)

The Mail says the BBC 'sent' 415 people to cover the event, but given that nearly half (190) were technicians and in total only 125 of the 415 were staff (the rest freelances and short-term contractors) it doesn't seem that excessive.

But according to rent-a-BBC-bashing-quote Tory MP Philip Davies it's 'another example of of how the BBC is bloated'. The Mail editorial dimisses it as a 'mass junket' to which all are invited.

The Mail claims all this cost an 'estimated' £1.5m although it doesn't even begin to explain where this figure has come from.

And then Melanie Phillips steps in. At one point she sniffily dismisses BBC presenters for 'knowingly' referring to the festival as 'Glasto', without realising the headline on the earlier story is, er, BBC's Glasto army. As Mail subs knowingly call it.

She admits that 'a huge outside broadcast...can't be covered with a handful of staff,' which is rather more generous than the editorial can manage. But she's more concerned with why the BBC is covering Glastonbury at all:

Glastonbury might be popular among the young, along with a bunch of superannuated hippies vicariously revisiting their lost adolescence.

In other words: How dare the BBC provide programmes that might be 'popular among the young'? She goes on:

It's hard not to conclude that Glastonbury...is an event with particular appeal for those of a certain age who were teenagers in the Sixties and Seventies. Which, by an amazing coincidence, just happens to be the age of many senior BBC executives.

In other words: How dare the BBC provide programmes for people who are between 43 and 68?

If the BBC weren't providing programmes for these age groups, or indeed covering major arts events, that would be wrong. But as this is modern music, it's not really important to the likes of the Mail and Melanie.

She turns this, as the editorial did, into a rant against the BBC and its expenses, claiming the publication of them caused 'such outrage'. Although the death of Michael Jackson rather ovetook the story, there was very little evidence, outside of the pages of the Mail, that there was 'such outrage'. (Maybe this is the same type of 'outrage' that led it to launch its 'Not in the Mail any more' campaign against wheelie bins)

But the evidence of her own outrage is quite odd. She points out that 'no fewer than 47 BBC executives were paid more than the Prime Minister's salary of £195,000,' including Director General Mark Thompson's £816,000. Which leads her to ask:

is he really saying that his job is four times as important as the Prime Minister's?

At which point, she should answer this question: Is her boss, Mail Editor Paul Dacre (paid £1.62m per year), really saying that his job is EIGHT times as important as the Prime Minister's? (And twice as important as the DG's?)

It would be interesting to know how much Melanie is paid as well, so we can see how many times more important she thinks she is than the PM.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Dacre - earning double the BBC DG's salary

The BBC-hating Mail was obviously going to leap on Auntie's expenses, eventhough, as Septicisle pointed out, they weren't actually that scandalous.

One claim it has leapt on is that DG Mark Thompson spent £2,236 to charter a plane to fly him and his family back from holiday when the Sachsgate row broke. A row entirely concocted by, umm, the Daily Mail. And then the Mail and its columnist Stephen Glover attacked Thompson for being 'slow to respond to the furore'. Then when he does fly home to deal with it, that's wrong too. As if any Mail journos and executives travel anywhere at their own expense...

Its editorial on 26 June fumes:

But lavishing six-figure sums and huge expenses accounts on executives who air repeats, vacuous reality TV, puerile comedy littered with four-letter words and are happy to employ Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand? That really sticks in the craw.

Really? Mail Editor-in-Chief Paul Dacre received an 8% pay rise last year, so he 'received £1.62m in salary and cash payments for the year to 28 September 2008'. His expenses tab is unknown. Meanwhile, 'star' columnist Richard Littlejohn is said to receive a salary of £800,000 a year.

Lavishing six- and seven-figure sums on executives who print repeats, vacuous daily updates about reality TV, hate-filled articles about minorities and are happy to employ Richard Littlejohn?

Now that really sticks in the craw.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Mail launches another feeble attack on Hollywood actress

The Mail has its not-very-sharpened claws out for another Hollywood actress. After attacking Megan Fox for being the 'dumbest Hollywood star ever' based on almost no evidence, it's now asking if 'anyone' can take Cameron Diaz seriously in a new straight film role.

In fact, the headline asks 'will ANYONE now take Cameron Diaz seriously'. The journalist who penned the article - Lina Das - clearly isn't much a film buff. She begins:
We are so used to seeing Cameron Diaz fulfilling Hollywood's perception of her as a sexy, sassy, fun, but lightweight actress - thanks to a string of sexy, sassy, fun, but lightweight movies - that it's hard to believe anyone could take her seriously.
Which firstly assumes that being a comic actress is somehow easy and therefore 'lightweight'. Being good at comedy is not easy - just ask anyone who sat through You Don't Mess With the Zohan or The Love Guru.

But also, Das seems to believe being in 'serious' films is somehow unusual for Diaz. She mentions that: 'Three years ago, she ventured outside her comfort zone to play a troubled sister in the family drama In Her Shoes. It was well received by the critics, but it flopped'. But if the critics liked it, surely that shows SOMEONE does take her seriously?

And before that there was Gangs of New York, Vanilla Sky and Any Given Sunday - none of which were exactly a barrel of laughs. And even some of her comic roles - such as Being John Malkovich and Last Supper - have hardly being the type of knockabout stuff of Shrek and Charlie's Angels that Das seems only to have seen.

It's shoddy journalism, but more than that, there seems to be a perception that because Diaz is 'sexy, sassy' she can't possibly be taken seriously. In the same way that FHM's 'sexiest woman in the world' Fox can't possibly be anything other than an airhead.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Desmond papers campaign against burkha, don't know what it is

As Septicisle has pointed out, the Desmond papers - which have long been at the forefront of anti-Islam coverage - have jumped on President Sarkozy's comments about the burkha.

But as their front pages on 23 and 24 June shows, every story about banning the burkha they have published has been illustrated with a niqab.

Inside the 24 June edition, there are photos of women in Burnley and Luton in niqabs. They also have a pic from Leeds showing three women - two appear to be in niqabs, one in a hijab. The caption reads: 'Women in burkhas in Leeds yesterday, one almost completely covered. Another shows her eyes, a third her face'. So not burkhas then.

Mail still doing the BNP's work for it

About to post about the Mail's striking Four in ten under-20s in London aren't white but Jonathan at No Sleep Til Brooklands has beaten me to it.

As he points out the figure does appear to be genuine (although 'experimental' and three years old) but the real question is - what is the point to it, other than some casual race-baiting? It makes up two short paragraphs of a 29-page report and is turned into a full blown scandal to rile the Mail pilgrims.

And once again, the story has been picked up and posted on the BNP site (just as this post was being written). It contains a few juicy extras such as 'bloodless genocide' and:
within the next generation and a half, white British people will effectively be a total minority in Britain’s capital city, and shortly after that be extinct from the streets of London.
But the question is - how much is the Mail influencing BNP press releases? For example, the Mail says:
At present, just over a third of Londoners of all ages are reckoned to be non-white - but the new figures indicate that this share will grow substantially in the future.
Currently it is estimated that a third of all of London’s population is non-white, but this figure is to change dramatically as the predominantly youthful population matures.
They also point to the way recent waves of immigration have made a bigger impact on London than other parts of the country.
The figures also show that recent waves of immigration have made a bigger impact on London than other parts of the country.
The analysis from the Office for National Statistics said that in the West Midlands, the second most multi-racial area of the country after London, just 19 per cent of children and teenagers are non-white.
The analysis from the Office for National Statistics said that in the West Midlands, the second most multiracial area of the country after London, just 19 percent of children and teenagers are non-white.
Sir Andrew Green of the Migrationwatch think-tank said: 'This illustrates the massive change that is taking place to our society at a rapid pace and without the indigenous population ever being consulted'.
Asked for comment, Sir Andrew Green of the Migrationwatch think tank told a newspaper that this “illustrates the massive change that is taking place to our society at a rapid pace and without the indigenous population ever being consulted".
It's not just that these sentences are (almost) identical, but they follow each other in exactly the same order in both. This may show a complete lack of imagination by BNP press release writers, but the fact they feel comfortable repeating whole sections of a Mail article says more about the latter than the former.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Mail attacks attempts to improve relations with Gypsies on day terrorised Roma flee country

Two new developments in the case of the Romanians in Belfast.

Overnight, City Church, which gave refuge to the families after they were forced out of their homes, had its door and main windows smashed. The pastor says linking the two events would be 'guesswork' but it would be good guesswork.

Then came news that of the 114 people who were targeted, 100 were going to return to Romania. So not only have they been forced from their homes, they have been forced out of the country.

A deeply depressing state of affairs. One so serious that the Daily Mail can't even be arsed to assign a named journalist to the story, so its byline is 'Daily Mail Reporter', who produces 532 words on it. The Sun doesn't appear to have covered the story at all, while the Express deems it worthy of 308 words.

And it gets even more depressing, because the Mail then dedicates 620 angry words to the story Fury as police force holds party for local gipsies to 'improve relations' with travellers . The idea that the police - or indeed, anyone - might be trying to improve relations between locals and the Gypsy and Traveller community on the day 100 Roma have been forced to flee the country after racist attacks against them enrages the Mail. It's a twisted logic all the Mail's own.

Of course, the 'fury' it mentions in the headline is, as always, not really fury at all. It's the Taxpayers Alliance (who Anton has been chasing) doing their rent-a-quote-fury schtick. Are they really arguing: 'How dare the police spend two thousand pounds trying to improve community relations'?

Coming so soon after stoking anti-Gypsy feeling with its wildly exaggerated 'story' about NHS provision and blaming the Belfast Roma for their plight because they're all criminals, the bile and hate in the Mail's agenda is sickening. As one of the comments left on the story says: 'So not only do these people get health service priority, they're using our money to give them a party. Come on for God's sake, something has to be done'. And that seems to be exactly what the Belfast hate mob thought and it's what the Mail thinks. If they knew how, they should be ashamed.

Christian Mail v Islam round-up

A Catholic woman has resigned from her job at Gloucester Royal Hospital after being told she can not wear her crucifix necklace because of a strict uniform policy banning all necklaces.

The Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Trust said:

"We were disappointed that Helen took this decision and had offered to meet her again to discuss her concerns. The Trust does have a uniform policy which prohibits the wearing of necklaces and chains for the safety of both patients and staff. Similar policies are in place in hospitals across the country and are vital in the fight against infections.

“We would like to make it clear that Helen had not been the subject of disciplinary action. As a Trust we are supportive of our employees’ religious beliefs and indeed the vast majority of staff feel able to work within the policies of the organisation without compromising these important beliefs".
The Mail says: Devout Catholic nurse resigns over hospital crucifix ban.

One sounds reasonable and eminently sensible. The other sounds like hysteria-stoking, look-what's-happening-to 'us' non-Muslims nonsense, the latest in a long-line of such stories.

And it comes just a day after the Mail reported - with no small relish - remarks by Don Maclean that the BBC hearts Islam and hates Christianity. This was great for the paper, as it allowed it to both bash the BBC and push its 'Christians under attack from Muslims' agenda.

Maclean claimed that the BBC only covered Christian issues when it was about gay clergy and paedophile priests. When an inquiry finds 'endemic' child abuse at Catholic institutions or there's the possibility of a split in the Church of Scotland over the appointment of a gay clergyman, apparently, it's not to be mentioned.

He echoes Mail columnist Stephen Glover in making an attack on Aaqil Ahmed, the newly appointed head of religious programming. But like him, his criticism makes no sense, bemoaning the state of religious programming on the BBC, yet saying Ahmed's predecessor, Michael Wakelin, was a 'very devout Christian' and the 'man for the job'.

How can he be the 'man for the job' if, as Maclean claims, religious programmes have been so rubbish and the BBC has been 'keen on programmes that attack the Christian church...They seem to take the negative angle every time'. This is a total contradiction, and the same one that Glover seemed to have no problem spewing out.

Maclean also states the BBC is 'keen on Islam...Programmes on Islam are always supportive', without giving a single example of this - as he doesn't with all these programmes 'attacking' Christianity. As Richard Bartholomew states, there is still plenty of Christian programmes on the BBC. And Maclean's statement that they 'wanted rid of Wakelin' is rather disproved given Wakelin led the Daily Service this morning (and anyone who has had their TMS commentary interrupted by the Daily Service will know all too well there is a 15 minute Christian worship every single morning).

Star pays damages to Beckham

Following their admission that the story wasn't true, David Beckham has accepted 'substantial libel damages' from the Star following their false claims about him chasing a blonde model.

The Daily Star's lawyer, Kate Wilson, added: "The defendant acknowledges that the allegations made against Mr Beckham are untrue and are happy to give the undertaking referred to above. The defendant apologises to Mr Beckham and his family for the distress, embarrassment and injury caused to him."

Another good day for Richard Desmond and his awful rags.

Mail hates women, part 2

Just as Megan Fox is named the sexiest woman in the world (read: public eye) by FHM, the Mail has decided to set the attack dogs on her. Again.

Last week it was suggesting she was hideously deformed because of her thumbs. Now they are asking if she is 'the DUMBEST star ever?' Because, you know, you can't possibly be the 'sexiest woman in the world' and not dumb.

But the evidence they produce is so thin, it's hard to believe someone spent the time putting it together, for no other reason than to have a bitch about her (the byline is the infamous 'Daily Mail reporter').

A clue might come in the fact she has called for the legalisation of cannabis, which they highlight and would clearly disapprove of - but is that really the dumbest thing a Hollywood star has ever said?

She also is quoted talking about Transformers, which she admits she is 'terrible' in:
'I can't s**t on this movie because it did give me a career and open all these doors for me. But I don't want to blow smoke up people's a*s. People are well aware that this is not a movie about acting.'
Which seems to be quite self-aware and hard to disagree with. It certainly doesn't sound like someone who has 'amazed fans with her ignorance'.

Mail links death of mum to IVF

The Daily Mail has come up with a classic 'guilt by association' headline today, exploiting the death of a mother of four children at the same time.

The headline reads: Mother collapses and dies aged 40 as the IVF triplets she yearned for play nearby.

Why is the fact she has IVF triplets of any relevance to the story? Answer: it ain't. So why have they written it in that way? Indeed, the death of a 40 year old from a blood infection, while undoubtedly tragic, doesn't seem to be the type of story that national papers usually rush to print at all.

One of the comments left (by anna lang) has suggested: 'Before having IVF, proper checks to should be in place to check health of mother'. This is currently rated at -672 and others have piled in to attack her and say it had nothing to do with IVF. Good for them. Shame on the Mail.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Refugee Week

Today is the last day of Refugee Week. You won't know this if you only read the tabloids because not one of them has mentioned it. Why not?
Refugee Week is a UK-wide programme of arts, cultural and educational events that celebrate the contribution of refugees to the UK, and encourages a better understanding between communities.
And the tabloids don't want to be doing any of that.

There's a calendar of events here - please go and support events near you.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Mail and BNP and Roma (cont.)

The Mail has done a 'special investigation' on the chasing out of Romanian families from their Belfast homes. The headline, however, rather gives the game away: As hate-filled mobs drive Romanian gipsies out of Ulster, we ask who's REALLY to blame?

And before you can say 'the hate-filled mobs' the Mail has the 'REAL' answer...it's the fault of the Romanians themselves. Because, apparently, they are all criminals - including that five day old baby no doubt - and so deserved it:
Opinion has been inflamed...by the crimes the police and locals agree some of the Roma commit...a wave of petty crime that has swept Belfast over the past two years — the period in which the Roma have arrived.

The crimes, confirmed by police, range from ‘mobbing’ elderly ladies at cashpoint machines, distracting them while they steal cash, to using razor blades to slice the straps of handbags and disappear with possessions before anyone knows.

Roma have also been linked with prostitution and people trafficking.
British police said last year that they were struggling to cope with a staggering 800 per cent increase in crimes, such as pickpocketing, committed by Romanians since they started coming to Britain in large numbers.

Now that sounds familiar. Here's an excerpt from the BNP's 17 June press release 'BNP Leader Condemns Belfast Anti-Gypsy Violence and Immigration Policy Which Allows It to Happen':
“We also have to bear in mind that the Gypsy community is notorious for its extremely high rate of criminality and anti-social behaviour. Everyone in Romania and Eastern Europe knows this and it is one reason why their governments are so keen to encourage them to come over here,” Mr Griffin said.

While there are no recent figures available for Gypsy crime in Belfast, British police went on record in February 2008 as saying that they were struggling to cope with an 800 percent rise in crimes committed by Romanian Gypsies in Britain.

Now it goes without saying if there are more members of a certain community, then there is likely to be more crime committed by them. But notice the BNP states there are 'no recent figures for Gypsy crime in Belfast'. And remember the raids on the so-called Fagin gangs which was on the front of the Mail which turned out not to be true, but which nonetheless fed an urban myth?

So all the Mail relies on is heresay from angry locals who say things such as: 'foreigners should be burned out of their f****** homes' and are not challenged on that by the reporter.

Moreover there is also something inherently racists about the way the journalist Andrew Malone quotes one of the Roma: 'Romania no job. Belfast job. But ten persons come. They drink. They broke in the house. They no good.’ Generally speaking, reporters will tidy up ANY quotes they have. But they haven't done it here - as if to emphasize his lack of fluent English. They're not like 'us', see?

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Littlejohn and the BNP

Richard Littlejohn has read his copy of yesterday's Mail and churned out a so-expected-it's-untrue diatribe against the NHS document on health provision for Gypsies and Travellers. It reads much like the the Mail article, with a few 'you couldn't make it up' and 'Guardianista' phrases chucked in.

But the BNP have read their copy of the Mail too, and have also issued a press release. The differences in the three articles are minimal.

Littlejohn: Fast-tracking the Tarmacing community on the NHS
Mail: Want to see a GP? Gipsies come first as NHS tells doctors that travellers must be seen at once
BNP: Romany Gypsies in Britain Given Better NHS Service than British People

As the Mail article was discussed here previously, here's some of the points Littlejohn and the BNP make.


the NHS has decided to give priority to gipsies in hospitals and GP surgeries.

At least half of all Gypsies and Travellers in Britain are Romany in origin and are officially placed above indigenous British people in a range of National Health Services.

gipsies will be allocated a full 20 minutes with a doctor and allowed to bring their extended family into the waiting room. The average length of a normal appointment, always assuming you can get one, is between five and ten minutes.

Gypsies must be given 20 minute consultations (in comparison to native British peoples’ five or ten minutes) and must be allowed to bring relatives into the consulting rooms;

A Department of Health statement said it was 'fast-tracking' what it calls 'members of the mobile community' because they have difficulty accessing services.

Gypsies must be “fast tracked” when being provided with NHS services.
Littlejohn (in relating the story of an correspondent who apparently had to wait for an appointment):

a gipsy...would have been ushered to the top of the list.

[Gypsies] must be seen before any other patients, even if the indigenous patients have been there earlier or have prior appointments;

Now, I can understand that this policy may have arisen from the most noble of intentions. But this has nothing to do with the milk of human kindness and owes everything to the venomous bile of the 'diversity' industry, which takes sadistic pleasure in persecuting the taxpaying majority.

The NHS document tries to justify this blatant anti-British policy by claiming that Gypsies suffer from greater health problems than indigenous British people.
Spot the difference? It's not the first time in the past week a Mail columnist and the BNP seem to be in agreement. And given events in Belfast it's really hard to see what the Mail hopes to achieve by stoking anti-Gypsy sentiment by misrepresenting these guidelines in the way it has.

Incidentally, the only mention Littlejohn gives to the racist attacks on the Romaian families in Belfast is as an aside in a piece attacking Martin McGuinness.

Mail helps fuel more anti-Roma attacks

The Guardian is reporting that last night there were further attacks on a Romanian family in Belfast, while the twenty families forced to move yesterday are now in a secret location with an armed guard.

Given the Guardian reports that 'the majority [are] from the Roma community', isn't it just the perfect time to go to the Daily Mail website and see this as the main headline:
Want to see a GP? Gipsies come first as NHS tells doctors that travellers must be seen at once
Googling the story brings up the Daily Mail version first, the Stormfront re-print second. The story is based on a Primary Care Service Framework document on the health of Gypsies and Travellers, that quite rightly points out that:
Gypsies and Travellers have significantly poorer health status and significantly more self-reported symptoms of ill-health than other UK-resident...There is now little doubt that health inequality between the observed Gypsy Traveller population in England and their non-Gypsy counterparts is striking, even when compared with other socially deprived or excluded groups and with other ethnic minorities.
So it only seems right the NHS should react. And given the lifestyle of Gypsies and Travellers, and the likelihood of moving to a new area, it suggests it is important, given their relative poor health, that they are 'wherever possible fast-tracked into primary care services'.

But the Mail insidiously twists this into them being given 'priority' and that they must be 'seen at once'. The report says no such thing. It suggests that:
practices should adopt a policy of not turning away any Gypsy/Traveller who attends without an agreed appointment
but not turning someone away is rather different to claiming they must be seen at once.

And nowhere in the article does the Mail make reference to the 'significantly poorer health status' of Gypsies and Travellers. They do include some comments from the Taxpayers Alliance (their second favourite rent-a-quote gang after Migrationwatch), who states:
The only priority should be how ill someone is, not their politically-correct concerns.
Which is exactly what the guidelines are trying to do - ensure people in poor health get the treatment they need.

The whole article reeks of 'look at these people who aren't like you getting preferential treatment' - if it's not Gypsies, it's immigrants or Muslims. And it's the type of article that (sorry to repeat, again) fuels the agenda of the BNP.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Sun readers, the BNP and Belfast

I posted earlier about how the readers of the Mail reacted to the news that over 100 Romanians had been hounded out of their homes by racists. But the comments on the Sun website are even worse. Despicable, knuckle-dragging, slack-jawed filth that puts the Mail's efforts to shame (click for larger images)
This all makes depressing reading. Stand out comments include:
...which was posted by 'upthearse' - appropriately, as that's where his comment seems to come from. And then there's the twisted logic of 'mickey1':
...who is attacking the victims for 'harrasing [sic] people'. Go figure.

'Comfortablynumb' says this is 'very understandable' and prays for more of the same: 'I just know it isn't going to be the last we hear of it will it be here next...with a bit of luck?'

'elmlea22' decides to go for the insightful: 'GREAT... Bet they will come to the UK now' - proving s/he's such a patriot, they don't even know what the UK is.

The BNP has put out a press release entitled 'BNP Leader Condemns Belfast Anti-Gypsy Violence and Immigration Policy Which Allows It to Happen'. And yes, it does contain a vague condemnation of the attacks:
No one wants to see any person attacked and for that reason all right-minded people will condemn the attacks over the past few days.
Which echoes the 'I'm not racist but'-type comments from the Sun morons. But it also contains a series of vile anti-Gypsy sentiments and innuendos about crime perpetrated by Gypsies. It says:
We also have to bear in mind that the Gypsy community is notorious for its extremely high rate of criminality and anti-social behaviour...I am quite sure that the people of Belfast are reacting to what they see as provocation from the Gypsy invasion of their city, and while I cannot support their reaction, I think that it was fairly predictable, given what everyone knows about Eastern Europe’s Gypsy population.
So the BNP and the people who comment at the Mail and Sun agree - it's all the fault of the Romanians.

Mail's new campaign

The Mail's ludicrous front page about wheelie bins (when will they drop this tiresome subject?) marks the launch of a new Not In My Front Yard campaign. The aim? 'To stop monstrous wheelie bins engulfing our streets'.

But is it? Because the Mail explains:

Now the Mail is calling on town halls to let council tax payers choose between wheelie bins, ordinary dustbins or biodegradeable bags.

But if wheelie bins are such a monstrosity, why does it want to give people the choice to keep them?

Its evidence is thin. It has taken a few selective snaps from around the country on collection days, when bins are inevitably more visible, as if to prove the problem. A load of black plastic sacks on a roadside would probably look quite bad too...

On the day Romanians have been forced from their homes in Belfast after a series of racist attacks, the Mail believes the most important issue to campiagn about is how bins look. Here's something for the Mail to try: something on anti-racism, to campaign against the BNP and the anti-immigrant attitudes that led to those attacks. That would be of far more value to people in this country, rather than campaigning against some sodding plastic boxes.

Latest 'news' from the Mail

The Mail website is running a 'story' about the 'first' pictures of Chaz Bono. Chaz used to be Chastity, daughter of Cher, but has had gender realignment surgery.

The Mail prefers to use the term 'sex change' in its headline, although this is regarded as an inappropriate phrase by some trans campaigners such as Press for Change (although not as bad as Sun favourite 'tranny')

What's baffling about the story, given that is all about Chaz being a man, is this line:
Chaz, who now refers to himself as a 'he', was spotted enjoying a massage in West Hollywood yesterday.
And later: Referring to his client as 'he', publicist Howard Bragman said last week...

Well he is a man. Why wouldn't he now refer to himself as he? Although he probably refers to himself as he, not 'he'.

Recommended read - Enemies of reason

Anton reports that the Royal College of Midwives has called out some BNP propaganda...which may well have begun life as a Mail story. Fancy that.

And sets a quiz - guess if the quote is Melanie Phillips or Geert Wilders.

Racist attacks less important to Mail than fake tits

The news that around 100 Romanians have been forced to flee their homes in Belfast because of a string of racist attacks is a shocking and important development. At time of writing it is lead story on the BBC website, and takes a high profile on the Sky News, Guardian, Telegraph and Times websites (various below Iran and breaking unemployment figures).

The Sun's homepage doesn't mention it anywhere on its homepage (but Big Brother is everywhere). The Express has it on its UK news page, but not the homepage.

The Mail does have it fairly high up, but decides its of less importance than more whinging about bin collections, job applications at McDonalds, why Brits like living in New Zealand (one of their twisted 'immigration is good when it's British people' stories), Katie Price's big tits and Victoria Beckham's reduced tits.

And when you get to the comments section on the Mail's story, it's beyond parody. This comment:

I notice a lot of blaming the victim going on here. Racism is disgusting and always wrong. Anyone who voted BNP recently take a look - this is the future you voted for.
- JamesP., edinburgh, 17/6/2009 9:41

is currently at -121. And at -102, this:

it is very easy to whip up hysteria about immigration but its equally hard to control the nasty forces such hysteria unleashes. We all have a responsibility here.....
- Mike, Bristol, 17/6/2009 9:26

Whereas commentators who blame the government, rather than the mindless racist thugs, get big positive scores. But Mike in Bristol's comment about immigration hysteria unleashing nasty forces - you can't expect Mail readers to appreciate that.

The amnesty report gets typical tabloid treatment

The LSE/Mayor of London report on the costs/benefits of an amnesty for illegal immigrants has been published and has finally got some press coverage in the tabloids.

£7bn bill to let in 860,000 migrants, says the Star. Amnesty for migrants to cost us £6bn, claims the Star's sister paper the Express (where did that billion go?). Senior Tories rubbish Boris Johnson's proposal to allow illegal immigrants to work in UK write James Slack and Matthew Hickley in the Mail.

All three stories are stuffed full of quotes from Migrationwatch - the Express quoting Andrew Green more than the report or Boris Johnson.

The Star's headline uses the 860,000 figure, as does the Express, which is in fact the highest estimate of numbers. The report (p.13) says the total could be as low as 417,000, but they use a mid-range figure of 618,000. The Mail uses the this latter figure - none of them use the lower end estimate.

But in the conclusions to the report, it makes clear only 67% may be eligible for regularisation - around 412,000. None of these rags discuss such trivial matters as to what the actual proposals for who qualifies for regularisation might be.

The LSE say all this could add up to £3 billion a year to GDP per annum (a figure the Star 'forgets' to mention), and the regularised might add up to £846 million per annum in tax revenue.

The report admits that there might be a £300 million one-off administrative cost (although the Express credits this to Migrationwatch), and an increase in public service costs of £410 million. This might climb to £1 billion to take into account 'potentially available welfare costs'. But as the report states on page 106:

the fact that the weight of evidence suggests irregular migrants are probably already able to access many public services implies the additional costs of regularisation will be limited.

Only the Mail decides to mention that 'The National Audit Office has estimated that deporting all illegal immigrants from Britain would cost up to £4.7billion', a figure which should put the estimated 'costs' into perspective.

Both the Star and Express, in their outrage at the costs, point to a figure in the executive summary that housing costs alone will be £6 billion. It is worth nothing the whole of what the report says on this however:

Impacts on the housing market are likely to be limited. Irregular migrants are currently mainly accommodated in the private rented sector or living with family and friends. Except to the extent that their incomes increase, there will be very little additional demand. In the short run at least, very few additional households would be eligible for either benefits or social housing.

In the longer term however there would be an impact on the demand for social housing. In London for instance there might be 128,000 households regularised. Earlier evidence suggested that perhaps 40 per cent of those from similar backgrounds have over time been able to access social housing. This would imply adding 52,000 units to the stock at a public sector cost of perhaps £4.4 billion over a long period. Across the UK the figures might be as many as 72,000 units required at an estimated cost of £6.2 billion. However the much more likely outcome is simply that there would be longer waiting lists both in London and across the country as a whole.

In other words, that £6.2 billion figure is really a top-end estimate that is very unlikely to come to pass.

But never mind any of that - Migrationwatch has spoken and they must be obeyed. So they quote him Andrew Green saying the proposals would be an 'absurd waste of taxpayers’ money' (Star) and claiming 'benefit payments [would be] likely to hit £10million a week' (Express) - figures from their absurd amnesty briefing paper which claims the regularised will be on housing benefit their whole life.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Cost of amnesty not important when it proves positive

Remember the nonsensical Migrationwatch paper on the cost of an amnesty for illegal immigrants that made the front page of the Express on 4 May?

Well, today, the London School of Ecnomomics will publish a report commissioned by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson, suggesting such an amnesty would 'boost the UK economy by £3 billion a year and raise tax revenues by £842 million,' according to the Telegraph. The BBC, the Financial Times, the Guardian are all reporting the same.

On Google News there are currently 16 articles on this subject. None of them are from the Mail, Express, Sun or Star. The story has not made Migrationwatch's 'recent news reports archive' either.

Express 'celebrates' Refugee Week with asylum splash

It's taken a while, but an asylum scare story is back on the front page of the Express. The ironic thing about Asylum chaos: the appalling truth is that there isn't much 'truth' in it.

What the Express counts on, of course, is that no one will actually read the full report and rely on its nasty little article. The basis of the report is a new report by the Public Accounts Committee which it claims is 'hard hitting' and provides a 'damning verdict on the Home Office's latest overhaul of the asylum system'.

Except, er, it doesn't.

The report's first line says:

In 2006, our predecessors published a critical report on the shortcomings in the removals system, making wide-ranging recommendations. Revisiting the subject of asylum applications and removals some three years on, we are pleased to note that the Home Office (the Department) has responded positively and progress has been made.


We are also pleased to note that, as a direct result of implementing our recommendations, the Department also established a separate process to clear the backlog of 400,000–450,000 legacy cases unresolved at the introduction of the New Asylum Model. The New Asylum Model has resulted in the Department reaching an initial decision more quickly and in cases being concluded faster than in 2006. We also have the Department’s firm assurance that the legacy cases will be cleared by 2011.

And in the first point of the recommendations:

The Department has made significant progress in the management of asylum applications through the New Asylum Model. Since our predecessors’ report Returning failed asylum seekers published in 2006, the Department has made substantial improvements in the management of asylum claims, but still faces major challenges to sustain this improvement.

Does this sound like a 'damning verdict' about 'chaos'? Not really. The report actually provides some quite balanced and justified criticism of the system (such as not having up to date IT, or reliable methods for researching cases and dispersal).

The Express meanwhile misquotes one section of the report. It claims: 'Ministers have 'some way to go' to reduce the backlog of up to 450,000 asylum claims'. In fact the 'some way to go' quote refers to the Department's target of completing cases within 6 months: 'The Department still has some way to go to meet its aims of reaching initial decisions in 80% of cases within two months of an application and of concluding all cases within six months.'

What the Express fails to acknowledge is that initial decisions in 2007 took on average 7 months, compared with 22 months when Labour took office in 1997.

The Express also claims:

the MPs warned how failed asylum seekers frequently manipulate the appeals system to stay in the country as long as possible. In some cases, MPs themselves are being drawn into anti-deportation campaigns to delay their removal.

But this part of the report is actually quoting the Home Office ('Of particular concern to the Department was abuse of the Judicial Review process to delay removal', p.17). Although the Home Office's claim that 'some applicants waited until, for example, removal directions were served upon them before triggering the next step in their legal campaign', would seem to be stating the obvious.

The Express sub-head states that 'Britain has a backlog of 450,000 cases'. The report itself says it is between 400,000 and 450,000 (now why wouldn't the Express assume the lower figure...?)

What the paper never mentions, however, is that in 2008, 155,000 backlog cases were resolved, so clearing this backlog by 2011 shouldn't be that problematic. What the Express does instead - in a piece of trickery that would make Migrationwatch proud - is put the 450,000 backlog case figure alongside the number of removals, which was 11,600 in 2008.

It's putting two different figures alongside each other to make everything seem far worse than actually is the case (155,000 v 11,600).

If you Google the headline of the story, the first result you get is the Express, the second is the story on the Stormfront ('White pride world wide') website - once again showing a link between such media coverage and the views of the far right.

This is particularly noteworthy this week, Refugee Week. If there has been any articles about the Week in the tabloids, they have passed me by. And why did none of the tabloids give any coverage to the Red Cross survey that the British public 'massively overestimate' the number of people seeking refuge in the UK. Its findings were that:

A massive 95% of the British public do not know how many people apply for asylum in the UK each year, with the vast majority hugely overestimating numbers...almost a quarter of the British public think more than 100,000 people apply for asylum in the UK each year, around four times the actual number of applications in 2008.

Now why would the Great British public get those ideas in their head...

Monday, 15 June 2009

Recommended read

If you can stand any more about Luton, the Sunday Times did a fairly even-handed investigation yesterday. It includes an interesting detail about an attack by a white youth on Lakhbir Singh, the town's Sikh Mayor. This was, the paper says, for several weeks 'kept a secret and the mayor himself kept under wraps'.

A search for 'Lakhbir Singh' on the Mail and Express sites, finds no results. He is mentioned in one story about the protests on the Sun website, but not the assault.

Recommended read - Paul Krugman

Very interesting article from Paul Krugman in the New York Times on the dangers of right-wing media (and others) whipping up hatred. Although his focus is the shootings of George Tiller and of the Holocaust Museum guard, it is relevant this side of the pond in the light of the election of two BNP MEPs. He writes:
supposedly respectable news organizations and political figures are giving aid and comfort to dangerous extremism.
Yes indeed.

Sun claims dead Taliban fighter is Villa fan

The Sun's Aston Villain - Taliban corpse has Aston Villa club tattoo is one of those headlines that just doesn't sound right. And once you start reading the story, the doubts increase.

So it is a definite Aston Villa tattoo in the headline and in the first sentence (indeed, in the latter it's 'an ASTON VILLA tattoo'). But by the next line, it says the man in question was 'sporting the Premier League side's lion emblem'.

Now the club badge is pictured here. If the man had 'AVFC' tattooed on him, then the story is probably correct after all. But if the tattoo was just the 'lion emblem' part of it, that really could mean anything at all. Has the Sun never heard of the phrase 'lions of Islam'?

Given that there are no pictures of said tattoo, and the main quotes in the story come from an anonymous 'military source', it all sounds very doubtful, even a bit Glen Jenvey. But hey, it 'proves' the radicalism of British Muslims, and that's all that matters...

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Max Hastings and the BNP

Max Hastings has written a lengthy article in today's Mail about the BNP. How original. The thrust of it is that because the main three political parties have failed to deal with 'uncontrolled immigration' (a nicely unbiased phrase of course) the concerns that people have about the issue have not been addressed. And so people vote for the BNP.

Needless to say, misinformation about immigration by the media isn't mentioned anywhere. Indeed, manipulator of statistics and language Andrew Green from Migrationwatch is hailed as a hero 'whose relentless, but calm and objective, barrage of statistics is often criticised but never plausibly disputed'. Never disputed by the Mail certainly, but not never disputed (see this blog and 5CC).

So here are a few of the points Max raises. We'll begin with population:

On the Government's own, almost certainly understated, numbers, our population will pass 70 million by 2028. It could reach 80 million in the course of the century. We are the most overcrowded country in Europe, save Malta. Some 24 per cent of all births in this country are to foreign-born mothers.

And, for comparison, here is an excerpt from the BNP manifesto on immigration:

Britain’s population is now over 60 million and rising, solely due to immigration. Not only is Britain increasingly overcrowded, but the fact is that a country is the product of its people and if you change the people you inevitably change the nature of the country...Non-indigenous births will soon account for more than half of all the babies born in Britain.

Hmm. What about education? Max says:

Today, there are 300 primary schools in England where more than 70 per cent of pupils - nearly half a million children - use English only as a second language. It is unlikely the virtuous liberals of any major political party send their own children to such schools. I doubt that they would be happy if they had to do so.

The BNP says:

Fourteen percent of all primary school children do not have English as a mother tongue...At least 316 primary schools in England have a large majority of children whose first language is not English.

On identity, Max says:

Many thoughtful, educated people...use such phrases as 'It's not our country any more', and 'I don't feel I belong in the place where I grew up'.

While the BNP states:

these facts point inexorably to the overwhelming and extinguishing of Britain and British identity under a tsunami of immigration...uncontrolled immigration is leading to...a breakdown in community spirit.

On new arrivals, Max writes:

Most new arrivals come from the Third World, at a rate which is increasing the national population by almost one per cent every two years.

The BNP:

At least twenty percent of the currently resident population were either born overseas or are descendants of foreign-born parents. The vast majority of these foreign-born residents are of Third World extraction.

From Max:

There are also heavy health costs...A few years ago, tuberculosis was all but extinct in Britain. Today, there is a striking increase in reported cases, 65 per cent of them involving patients not born in Britain, with 21 per cent Africanborn. Hepatitis B cases have almost doubled in six years, to 325,000, 96 per cent of these involving patients born outside the UK.

From the BNP 2007 Mini manifesto:

'Health tourists' are costing the NHS £2billion a year, and diseases such as TB and AIDS are on the increase as a result of immigration.

Max quotes the 2008 House of Lords report that 'brutally dismissed' claims immigration benefits the UK:

The peers concluded that, contrary to New Labour propaganda, immigration has had 'little or no impact' on the economic well-being of Britain and offers 'insignificant' benefits to the existing UK population.

Whereas the BNP wrote on 15 November 2008:

The much trumpeted establishment claim that mass immigration has benefited the economy has been blown out of the water as experts told the House of Commons that immigration had brought virtually no economic benefit to Britain.


It is sometimes suggested that migrants offer useful cheap labour. But there is no really cheap labour in a welfare state. Each new arrival represents an additional burden on policing, health, education and infrastructure which must be paid for. Many police forces have expressed concern about the pressures and costs imposed by the huge influx of migrants.

The BNP:

The current open-door policy and unrestricted, uncontrolled immigration is leading to higher crime rates, demand for more housing (driving prices out of the reach of young people), severe extra strain on the environment, traffic congestion, longer hospital waiting lists, lower educational standards, higher income taxes, lower wages, higher unemployment, loss of British identity, a breakdown in community spirit, more restrictive policing, higher council taxes, a shortage of council homes, higher levels of stress and unhappiness and a more atomised society.

Higher levels of stress and unhappiness?! Migrants are being blamed for that too now? Anyway, Max goes on that:

Scarcely one of Britain's mainstream politicians is anywhere to be seen in a debate of vital concern for our national future. ...an issue about which much of the country cares more than the recession, health, education, Europe - the cultural identity and population stability of the island in which we live.

The BNP:

All it means is that they wish to preserve their identity and national existence. This is all the British National Party seeks for Britain - the right to be British. All the other parties shy away from this issue.

Max does call the BNP 'repulsive' and yet, as shown, has written an article full of BNP talking points. There is not a single sentence in the whole wretched piece where he mentions anything positive from immigration, or the enormous contribution immigrants have made to British society over the years. And yet he is wondering why people are voting for the BNP and concludes that it is all the fault of politicans. A little look closer to home might do him, and everyone, the world of good. Articles in (apparently) respectable papers about disease-ridden, resource-stealing, identity-destroying immigrants feeds the BNP agenda exactly.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Recommended reads

The Daily Quail highlights the Mail's report on the fact white boys are doing worse than almost every other ethnic group in school. And it's all the fault of the immigrants.

Excellent sarcasm, also from Daily Quail, about the Mail's ridiculous fault-finding of Megan Fox and her, ahem, 'toe-like' thumbs. Which they didn't notice when she was bent over a motorbike or when they were ogling her boobies just recently.

While Sun Lies reveals the latest bit of homophobia from the Sun.

Slack - his name fits his fact-checking

Notorious exaggerator and Migrationwatch poodle James Slack is up to his usual tricks, with another anti-immigrant, anti-Labour story in the Mail.

He says the Home Office has issued a document explaining how immigrants can 'earn' citizenship in six years rather than eight by doing 50 hours of unpaid voluntary work, including working at soup kitchens, helping out at a museum or being a school governor. Needless to say, these aren't the focus of the story, because that might make the idea seem, you know, reasonable.

And this is the Mail, so we can't have that. It focuses instead on the fact that trade union activity and canvassing for a political party are also on the list. And they turn that into this:

Want a British passport? Just stand on a picket line or canvas for Labour - 'Migrants will win fast-track passports if they stand on picket lines or knock on doors asking people to vote Labour, it emerged last night'.

Of course, earning citizenship is nothing like as easy as 'just' standing on a picket line or doing some canvassing, although the average tabloid reader probably thinks that headline is literally accurate.

Moreover, the rules are not about Labour - nine paragraphs later, it admits that the canvassing 'also covers the Tories and Liberal Democrats'. But Mr Slack, didn't you say they would be asking people to vote Labour?

Slack has form on pushing this idea that the country is full of immigrants who have the audacity to want to vote, and the implication is that Labour allows it because the newcomers vote for them.

In the final line of the article, it says that 'the earned citizenship scheme has been delayed by nine months, to December 2010', at which point it is probable that Labour will be in opposition. So it may not happen anyway. And it is hard to work out exactly what the status of these guidelines are - the Home Office website doesn't appear to mention them, and as the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Bill is still going through Parliament, it's likely that this is simply a list for consultation. But Slack has never let the facts get in the way of a misleading story...

[EDIT - 13 June: The Star has also written an incorrect headline with A Brit passport if you picket and vote Labour. Voting Labour gets you a passport? The story, obviously, does not support that claim.]

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Terror arrests you might have missed

A week ago a father and son were arrested in County Durham under the Terrorism Act. Police said that 'suspected ricin was found in a jam jar' in the home of a 'suspected white supremacist'; the son was arrested on suspicion of inciting racial hatred and later re-arrested under the Terrorism Act.

The Mail stated that they were involved in a plot 'poisoning ethnic minorities' but this is based on a much vaguer statement by the police that this was 'one of our lines of inquiry'. (The Sun and Star don't mention a possible target, as the Mail and Express do.)

As with any terror arrests, these claims should be treated with some caution. But what is so noticeable about this story is how un-noticeable it was. The Mail's coverage is here, the Sun's here, the Star's here and the Express' here and here.

But compare that with the coverage with that two months ago when there were arrests in Manchester of a group of young Muslims under the Terror Act. That was on the front pages and full of lurid details of a plot to blow up football stadia and shopping centres. None of which, of course, was true. But the difference in the level of coverage is striking. And maybe the 'ricin' plot will also turn out to be no such thing.

But if the police had arrested a Muslim father and son, with ricin in a jam jar, who wanted to kill whites, imagine the coverage that would have received. Why should there be this difference?

As if to prove the point, the Mail gave undue prominence yesterday to the story that two men on the missing Air France flight apparently shared names with suspected terrorists. One day later, the paper reports that the two men have been 'cleared' (the original story has been modified so no longer exists, but a version from the Evening Standard site remains).

But 'cleared'? Cleared of what? Surely these two dead men should never have had their names and reputations dragged through the mud before the truth was discovered. And given their exoneration came only a day later, it proves it wasn't exactly difficult to disprove the slur.

Yet once again the Islamophobic agenda of the media takes precedence over such things as fact checking.

(Thanks to Enemies of Reason for writing a post which reminded me to write about the ricin arrests!)

Leave Elisabeth Fritzl alone

Some good news from the Daily Star however: Elisabeth Fritzl is 'cured'. Twenty years locked in a cellar being raped up to 3,000 times by her father and having seven children by him, but now she's fine:

Dungeon incest victim Elisabeth Fritzl has cured herself of her stress disorder by finding love with her bodyguard. Docs have let her quit psychiatric therapy as love has proved the best medicine of all.

The story of Ms Fritzl having a relationship was reported in lots of papers, but only the Star appears to have claimed that she was 'cured'. Probably because it's a deeply stupid word to use.

Given that the source for all versions of the story was one Austrain newspaper, it may be viewed sceptically, certainly in terms of claims she has stopped all regular psychiatry sessions. Only in March did the Guardian report that Elisabeth was:

said to be distraught and close to a breakdown after being forced this week to move out of the family's hide-away home, to which they moved earlier this year, after a British paparazzo burst into her kitchen and started taking photographs.

Now we can all wish her well in this new relationship and can only hope she manages to put her experiences behind her as best as she can. But is it necessary to reveal each new development in the media? Or for reporters from the Times to traipse around her new home village looking for clues?

When Paul Dacre was giving his evidence to the parliamentary Select Committee on privacy, he was asked about the the fact the Mail revealed the name of the village to which Elisabeth had moved to start her new life. And his response?

"I don't know the circumstances," he said, promising to investigate the matter and write to the committee with a response.

Which is clearly not good enough. He should know about such an important fact being put in his newspaper. But really, hasn't Elisabeth Fritzl been through enough without now being hounded by a media pack desperate for the latest update on her life. If she wishes to write or talk about her experiences, fine. But otherwise she and her children should be left well alone.

Star reveals its in-depth political knowledge

Just to prove there is something other than made-up reality TV and sleb stories in the Daily Star comes a made-up political story. It appears to have taken its lead from the unashamed Tory supporting Express, its sister paper. So the story Prime Minister's Cabinet reshuffle 'puzzles' voters tells us:

Defiant Gordon Brown unveiled his new-look Cabinet yesterday – but left voters clueless over who many of them are...to many ordinary Brits weary of the leadership saga, it was a sea of unknown faces around the famous Cabinet table in 10 Downing Street.

Cabinets are supposed to be crammed full of big-hitting politicians the public are familiar with.

But many of Mr Brown’s team have been hastily promoted, leaving voters asking: “Who are these people?”

And the evidence for what the public thinks? Well, it doesn't actually mention where this comes from. It is entirely possible that such a poll does exist, but the failure to name is source is immediately suspicious. If there is a poll, it's probably done in the Star newsroom.

Because, as the BBC's Chief Political Correspondent James Landale pointed out on the day of the reshuffle:

It's been a mini-reshuffle. Over half of the cabinet are in the same jobs. There are only six new entrants. It's not a substantial injection of new blood.

So how does the Star decide it's 'a sea of unknown faces'? Probably because they have been so busy watching Big Brother and I'm a Celebrity over the last few years that they don't have a clue about politics.

And to prove it: their 'humourous' 'alternative' Cabinet, which suggests Simon Cowell as PM and Lucy Pinder at International Development because

'this glamour girl, 25, would be a great at making sure the international community developed an interest in the breast of British'.

See what they did there? Brilliant.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Star apologises for made up story - for once

The Star has apologised to David Beckham for running a story about him and a blonde model that, shock, wasn't true. With the Star story now removed, you can read a version here. The apology says:

On April 30 we stated in an article headed “Becks & The Blonde Beauty” that David Beckham had made a play for Mariann Fogarassy after a recent AC Milan match and that he had invited her to a private party which was due to take place in Milan. We now accept that the story was completely untrue.

We unreservedly apologise to both David Beckham and to his family for making these allegations and for any distress and embarrassment our article has caused. We have also agreed to pay his legal costs.

Pay legal costs? That's another pay-out for Richard Desmond after all those Express' ones...