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Bridgend Watch: A Look At The Cult Of Suicides In The Media

parry185_285934a.jpgSUICIDE Watch: Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of teenage suicides in Bridgend

THE SUN: Jenna Parry’s face looks out from the cover of the Sun

“ANOTHER MYSTERY TEEN DEATH,” says the paper. “17 hangings, 13 months, 1 town, 1 question..WHY?”

Above a picture of swings, a see-saw and a climbing frame, the legend: “Place where shadow of death stalks the young”

“The stunned people of Bridgend found themselves living in the shadow of death yesterday after yet another young suicide victim was found hanging from a tree…While police and politicians maintained there was no link between Jenna Parry’s death and SIXTEEN previous hangings in the area, local people feared otherwise”

Who needs facts and the results of a police investigation when you have “fear”. And the shadowy internet

Michael Bennett found Miss Parry’s body as he was out walking his dog, as is ever the way of things. “In an apparent reference to Bebo, he added: ‘Youngsters need to talk to people like their family, not spend all their time on computers or watching television'”

Reports the Sun: “Like many of the others, Jenna had her own pages on teenage social networking website Bebo. Police will examine her computer.” Rachel White, a friend of the dead girl, says: “Her Bebo site will probably be turned into a memorial as well”

David Morris, Assistant Chief Constable of South Wales, “admitted the cluster of suicides in the Bridgend area was unique because of the ‘exceptional’ numbers involved. But he claimed there was no evidence of a mass pact”

He says:

“A number have access to social networking sites such as Bebo and MySpace. But we have not found any suggestion of any links or influence from these sites to have encouraged these young people to take their lives. These are vulnerable young people and there is a view that taking one’s own life may become an acceptable option, but we have found no evidence of any link between them”

Not to worry, though, because the Sun is on the case, and it has one line of questioning

DAILY MIRROR: “SUICIDE No 17 IN THE TOWN OF NO HOPE – JENNA, 16 FOUND HANGED.”

“There is only one topic of conversation amongst a group of teenagers outside an off-licence in Bridgend – the apparent suicide of Jenna Parry,” says the Mirror’s man on the scene, stood by a group of teenagers who – and this a bonus – are hanging out by the booze shop. If reporter Nic North can mention the teens’ weight – and let’s pray to god they are obese – and their smoking, his story will have the lot

But before he asks them for their views on Iraq, he brings the economy into it: “Young people are pessimistic for their Jobs in local retail parks or fast food outlets is the best they can hope for.” Pretty much all teens, unless you’re Peaches Geldof, a Royal earning a crust, a model of a footballer, are pessimistic about the low-paid work they are offered

Gareth says bleakly: “I can understand why they’re killing themselves. It takes a trigger, a row with your girlfriend, another job rejection, to push you over the edge.” He says the mood in Bridgend is “fear”. He explains: “Every morning, you’re waking up thinking, Who’s it gonna be today? It’s got really freaky. There’s a sense that the place is cursed, a losing town’s curse.”

A curse! Now the Mirror is getting somewhere.

DAILY EXPRESS: “More suicide mystery”

Says David Morris: “The link between the deaths isn’t the internet – it is the way the media is reporting the news”

“Jenna belonged to two websites,” says the Express. “Experts warn of internet link”

Says the Express of Mr Morris’s comment: “This is nonsense. Many of the deaths occurred before there was any news coverage.” But then many suicides never make into the pages of the national press. Maybe when they did, impressionable teenagers read about it? Maybe all 17 suicides read the Daily Express?

DAILY MAIL: “The tragedy of Jenna, suicide town’s 17th victim”

It’s the town that’s killing them

THE TIMES: “Schools on alert after 17th Bridgend suicide”

Says the paper: “Experts are to be sent into every school in Bridgend as part of an urgent strategy drawn up to halt the spate of suicides in a small area of South Wales that claimed a 17th young victim yesterday.”

Says David Morris: “These are vulnerable young people. Taking one’s own life may be becoming an acceptable option to young people for issues that they are facing.”

So no curse? No Internet plot? But this mass suicide is a phenomenon, Bridgend is like Jonestown with a broadband connection?

Notes the paper: “Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that 20 people – 14 of them young men – took their lives in the Bridgend area in 2006, while Merthyr Tydfil had 10 suicides and Rhondda Cynon Taff 18”

Jenna Parry is the 17th suicide in Bridgend since the start of 2007

THE INDEPENDENT: “Task force considers the ‘Werther effect'”

The Sorrow of Young Werther is the story of a young artist who shoots himself after an ill-fated love affair. “Following its publication in 1774 there was a series of reports of young men who took their own lives in the same way, which led to the book being banned”

Was Master Werther on Bebo?

DAILY TELEGRAPH: “What hope can we offer Bridgend’s teenagers?”

Jan Moir pictures the scene in her mind’s eye: “It is hard to imagine what kind of despair inched each of them towards the thought and then the deed: to fashion the knot, to slip the fixings before the final swing into oblivion.” Is it so hard? “Teenagers are emotional creatures whose taste runs to the gothic,” says Moir. Was she ever a teenager?

“In each case, the method was the same; only the location changed. One youngster strung himself up from a washing line, one in a park, yet another from a tree; terrible and strange fruit hanging in the Welsh valleys. Most were hanged in their own bedrooms; the worst of surprises for a parent opening the door on to an unforgettable scene… Exposure to suicide can lead to what psychiatrists call contagion, and the fear is that more vulnerable teens will succumb to the death talk in the air and copycat-kill themselves. Is this what happened yesterday?

The more excitable newspapers have a weakness for outrage. Together they make an uncomfortable alliance. Certainly, the repeated and sensational suggestion that the dead youngsters are part of a internet death pact or cult is particularly unhelpful. Apart from anything else, if it were a cult, the deaths would be more ritualistic and flamboyant, there would be more of them and they would have happened in a shorter space of time for maximum impact”

Moir does not try to imagine how cult members might kill themselves. But Anorak readers can feel free…

Posted: 20th, February 2008 | In: Broadsheets, Tabloids | Comments (15) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Students Train For Depression

STUDENTS in depression:?

On Saturday I stood at Warwick University’s union bar. I had been speaking at a rather excellent student conference and the organisers had invited me to join the students for the evening. Large numbers of the 400 students present were standing without anything to drink, unable to afford the highly-taxed lagers that were on sale. As a result, students stood in straight lines listening quietly to the live band. No one was smoking, which of course would have been illegal.

Pills. Give us the pills…

Posted: 19th, February 2008 | In: Broadsheets | Comment (1) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Rafael Behr On Max Gogarty (Not-Related)

max-gogarty-guardian.pngAFTER this: Nepotism In The Media: The Guardian’s Max Gogarty Goes On His Hols, this:

But as the case of Max Gogarty shows, there is no presumption of civility or community spirit online. His fate should be instructive to politicians. He was flamed because he was perceived to be bogus. Self-selecting judges ruled that he had no business writing for the Guardian. The message was transmitted swiftly, sometimes eloquently, sometimes wittily. His travel diary was extinguished. As an expression of mob will, it was very efficient. But that does not mean it was fair.

What’s not fair?

Cultural Revolution aside, we would venture that the “recent pillorying” of young Max happened to be because readers felt insulted that the Guardian tried to put one over on them. First of all, they hired the kid of a former travel writer write a lame travel blog about his gap year. Secondly! The kid’s writing had an almost unparalleled skill at being annoying.

Rather:

There’s no point debating anything online. You might as well hurl shoes in the air to knock clouds from the sky. The internet’s perfect for all manner of things, but productive discussion ain’t one of them. It provides scant room for debate and infinite opportunities for fruitless point-scoring: the heady combination of perceived anonymity, gestated responses, random heckling and a notional “live audience” quickly conspire to create a “perfect storm” of perpetual bickering.”

Gogarty could respond. The web offers plenty of space to do so. If he wants to write, here’s his chance. Stop “shitting” yourself. You’ve got an audience – that’s the hard part…

Posted: 18th, February 2008 | In: Broadsheets | Comments (3) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


The Worthy Artists

WORTHIES: The new embraceable Britain – What’s behind our sudden craving for big, bold works of public art? Jonathan Jones goes on a British odyssey – and finds a whole new country taking shape…

Posted: 18th, February 2008 | In: Broadsheets | Comment (1) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


A Chance For Prisoners To Work For A Living Tax Free

cherie-blair.jpg“CHERIE Blair, wife of the former prime minister, is leading a drive for prisoners to earn up to £10,000 a year doing work in jail for firms which are household names.” So reports the Times.

“She has endorsed a pilot scheme in a category C prison in which serious offenders are paid the minimum wage – £5.52 an hour – to work for companies such as Kentucky Fried Chicken and Clifford Chance, the City law firm.” It light-fingered lickin’ good.

Who better to employ villains than lawyers and a take-away food shop? Perhaps call centres, with their innate fondness for small cubicles and battery-farmed workers. Or public schools.

Interestingly, because inmates pay no rent on their cells, no council tax and need incur no transport costs they could be left better off than low-paid workers outside.

In fairness, though, the Howard League for Penal Reform suggests the prisoners pay income tax, “but the government is refusing to accept contributions because the inmates might then have workers’ rights.”

The last thing you want is for a prisoner to bring a case of constructive dismissal…

Posted: 17th, February 2008 | In: Broadsheets, Money, Politicians | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


India Knight Makes A Meal Out Of Supermarkets

INDIA Knight says “Supermarkets are selling us out”. Enough of this cheap protein, massive choice of ingredients, ready meals, availability and value. What we want is something else. And India Knight knows what it is, and how to get it.

Says she in the Times:

I realise I am speaking from a fortunate standpoint: I can afford to pay a little more for organic and locally sourced ingredients, and I use my local butcher and fishmonger (which I’m lucky to have: both are a dying breed) because I would rather eat fantastic meat once a week than mechanically recovered slop on a daily basis. But actually I question the whole “value” status of supermarkets, not least because whenever I go to one I end up buying a pile of stuff I don’t actually need or, indeed, want; stuff that, more often that not, ends up being thrown away (shamefully).

Anorak resists the urge to reprint the entire article and file it under “beyond parody”. Instead we just strip out a few juicy bit, our choicest cut being:

Rubbish highly processed food is not cheap, whereas you can make enough rice and dhal for six people for about £1.50.

Genius. That’s the food budget and the obesity crisis polished off. We can all eat Indian food, like those Indians whose life expectany is 63 (men) and 66 (women), less than the 77 (men) and 82 (women) in the UK.

India Knight was born in 1965…

Posted: 17th, February 2008 | In: Broadsheets | Comments (2) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Patrica Hewitt: Failed Labour Ministers Live On In The EU

hewitt.jpgPATRICIA Hewitt, the former Health Secretary, is “on course to become Britain’s first woman Commissioner in Brussels after winning Cabinet backing to succeed Peter Mandelson”.

So reports the Telegraph. Brussels is the home for failed Labour ministers:

EU Commissioner Neil Kinnock – Led Labour in failure for nine years
EU Commissioner Peter Madelson – twice forced to resign from government

Hewitt – of whom gordon Brown is said to have uttered “I have to sit here while she loses me the next election” – seems ideal for the post…

Posted: 16th, February 2008 | In: Broadsheets, Politicians | Comments (3) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Government Sells You A Licence To Smoke

last-cigarette1.jpgFIRST they came for the smokers: “A ban on the sale of cigarettes to anyone who does not pay for a government smoking permit has been proposed by Health England, a ministerial advisory board.”

A permit to smoke. Somthing like: “The holder of this permit is a supporter of cancer and pollution.” The message will come written on a T-shirt or baseball cap, to be worn by the licencee at all times.

Says the Guardian: “The idea is the brainchild of the board’s chairman, Julian Le Grand, who is a professor at the London School of Economics and was Tony Blair’s senior health adviser.”

Tony was a non-smoker. His paper says:

“Suppose every individual who wanted to buy tobacco had to purchase a permit. And suppose further they had to do this every year. To get a permit would involve filling out a form and supplying a photograph, as well as paying the fee. Permits would only be issued to those over 18 and evidence of age would have to be provided. The money raised would go to the NHS.”

Le Grand says the proposal is an example of “libertarian paternalism”. The government would leave people free to make their own decisions but it would “nudge them” in the right direction.

Smokers will buy ciggies in France or over the web. They will then have invested in so many fags there will no point in giving up because to do so would be a waste of money.

Next up a licence to be fat…

Posted: 15th, February 2008 | In: Broadsheets | Comments (2) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Martin McGuinness: The One About The Drunk Irishman

SAYS Martin Mr McGuinness, former IRA leader: “I have to say, I am absolutely appalled at the level of concentration around the pub in the programmes.”

Adding: “I am not a fan of East-Enders or Coronation Street but my wife and my children, particularly the girls, watch the programme. I am appalled at the drunkenness that is quite clear for everybody to see and all of that before the 9 o’clock watershed when children as young as 8, 9, 10 and 11 are watching. Now I regard that as irresponsible broadcasting and I think something should be done about it.”

Steady on, Mr McGuinness. You do the terror and the politics. We’ll do the satire…

Posted: 15th, February 2008 | In: Broadsheets, Politicians | Comments (2) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Nepotism In The Media: The Guardian’s Max Gogarty Goes On His Hols

max-gogarty.jpgMAX Gogarty, 19, son of Guardian travel editor Paul Gogarty, is preparing to travelblog his way through Asia for his dad’s paper.

Young Max is from London, in his gap year, and “spends his money on food, booze and skinny jeans, writes for Skins in his spare time. He’s off to India and Thailand to have a good time, and you can join him in his weekly blog.”

Writes Max:

I’m kinda shitting myself about travelling. Well not so much the travelling part. It’s India that scares me. The heat, the roads, the snakes, Australian travellers. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited. But shitting myself. And I just know that when I step off that plane and into the maelstrom of Mumbai – well, actually, I don’t know how I’ll react.Practically all of my friends are dotted around the globe scouring every nook and cranny for a bit of culture and enlightenment (but secretly hoping to run into as many full-moon parties as possible). But it seems all gappers I know – wherever they are – will be going to Thailand in March or April, and every one I’ve spoken to is making no secret of the fact that Thailand should be pretty damn decadent. [Guardian Travelog]

And:

I’m not entirely sure what appeals to me about travelling. Maybe the lack of work or study?

The Guardian’s commenters respond.

Old Mr Anorak has never worked for the Guardain, so we just plug away. Emily Bell, are you still there?

Posted: 14th, February 2008 | In: Broadsheets | Comments (9) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Mark Steel Has No Idea About Non Doms

IN The Independent: “Mark Steel: A taxing problem: should the rich pay for cheese?”

Says Steel:

New Labour certainly keep their promises. Before they were elected, they promised to reform the loophole that enables the super-rich to avoid paying tax, by claiming “non-domicile tax status”. And now, 11 years later, they’re still promising to do it.

But the non-doms don’t avoid paying tax. Non-doms pay tax on all their UK earnings. They also pay UK tax on earnings they bring into the UK. They are not non-residents. They are non-domiciles. The clue is in the name.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: 14th, February 2008 | In: Broadsheets, Money | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Smoking In Pregnancy Is Better For Mother

pregnant_woman_smoking.jpgWANT a smaller baby, and lessen the need for a Cesarean section? Then smoke ten fags a day.

(Can the increased use of Cesarean section be linked to reduced tobacco intake in pregnant women? Anorak feels a research grant coming our way.)

Smoking in pregnancy is far less damaging to the unborn baby than commonly supposed, detailed analysis suggests. If women give up smoking by the fifth month of pregnancy, the effect on the baby is negligible, the study found. And even if they do not, the effect on birthweight is surprisingly small.

And:

Middle-class women suffer almost no damaging effects, the analysis suggests, even if they continue to smoke throughout pregnancy.

Smaller babies can mean a quicker and easier birth:

Analysis of the data shows that smoking throughout pregnancy reduces birthweight by 5.6 per cent, and the gestation period by just over a day. But when the results are corrected for other factors, such as diet, lifestyle and alcohol, the effect of smoking on birthweight drops to 1.8 per cent and the reduction in gestation becomes insignificant.

Forget the C-Section. We’re in the S(moking)-Section…

Posted: 14th, February 2008 | In: Broadsheets | Comments (2) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Carla Bruni Is France’s Cheeky Girl

carla-bruni-cheeky.jpgSAYS Carla Bruni of Nicolas Sarkozy in L’Express: “It seems that with him, nothing bad can happen.

Says the Telegraph: “The new first lady of France, the former model and singer Carla Bruni, said that her first meeting with President Nicolas Sarkozy was love at first sight and she expects the marriage to last a lifetime.”

Says Bruni: “With him, an anxiousness that I’ve felt since childhood disappears. So I am the first lady until the end of my husband’s mandate and his wife until death.”

The French have Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni. We the British have Lembit Opik and a Cheeky Girl.

Romanian Gabriela, who forms one half of Cheeky Girls pop duo alongside her twin Monica, and who dates Lembit Opik, MP, tells GMTV: “Everything is true – all I can say is it was love at first sight.”

France 1 – England nil points… 

Posted: 13th, February 2008 | In: Broadsheets, Politicians | Comments (2) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Amy Winehouse And Tottenham Hotspurs: Ups And Downs

amy-winehouse-fans.jpgAMY Winehouse’s brother Alex is writing in the Times. Amy wins five Grammy awards, and brother Alex embarks on a career in journalism. Such is the way of the celebrity media. He is front-page news.

“She’s back among us. This time we hope it’s for real,” says the headline over pages 8 and 9. The back story: “A weekend to remember ended in triumph for the singer. Now Alex Winehouse hopes that his sister has conquered her demons.”

Now read on…

First up, we learn that Alex is a fan of Tottenham Hotspur football club. He talks about three “hard-earned” points at Derby and receiving his League Cup final tickets.

(Note to sports editor: Alex can cover the final.)

“The next day I got my sister back, and had a front row seat to see her kick ass [surely, arse] and take over the world.”

What happens next is less about Winehouse than about Alex taking a drink, sitting down, jumping around and sitting down again. Football fans, like Alex, will know the routine well.

And something occurs to us. Can it be that Winehouse’s career is tied to the fortune of Spurs? The Times provides a list of key dates in the Winehouse life:

September 14, 1982 – Amy Jade Winehouse born, Southgate, North London.

The news is sandwiched between home defeat to Manchester City (1-2; Sept 11) and a victory over Sunderland (0-1, 18 Sept).

Verdict: It augurs well.

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Posted: 13th, February 2008 | In: Broadsheets, Celebrities | Comment (1) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Lent Is Ramadan For Christians

It’s not just Anglican Archbishops who are determined to make the transition painless:

Dutch Catholics have re-branded the Lent fast as the “Christian Ramadan” in an attempt to appeal to young people who are more likely to know about Islam than Christianity.

“The image of the Catholic Lent must be polished. The fact that we use a Muslim term is related to the fact that Ramadan is a better-known concept among young people than Lent,” says, Martin Van der Kuil, director the Catholic charity Vastenaktie.

Posted: 12th, February 2008 | In: Broadsheets | Comments (3) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Cornelia Parker On Noam Chomsky And Global Warming

IN “Apocalypse laterGuardian readers learn: “Cornelia Parker’s work has always drawn on a sense of disaster. In her new film, she talks to Noam Chomsky about how art might save the planet.”

It gets even better:

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Posted: 12th, February 2008 | In: Broadsheets | Comments (7) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Mucca V Macca: Home Movies, Hunting Heather And Smiles

mucca-macca.pngBEFORE marrying Heather Mills, Paul McCartney was a popular singer, and a singer of popular songs.

“Is everybody having a good time?” asked McCartney. “I can’t hear you at the back!” was his catchphrase. They went wild for it.

Then Paul recorded the Frog Chorus and married Heather Mills. His separation from her is now front-page news:

DAILY EXPRESS: “SIR PAUL V HEATHER – BATTLE BEGINS OVER HIS £825M FORTUNE”

Mills (“pink blouse, black skirt and high-heeled leather boots”) is at the High Court with her sister Fiona and a make-up artiste.

McCartney (“pink stripe suit, white shirt, black and white knitted scarf and black shoes”) is there, substituting his weeping guitar in favour of Nicholas Mostyn QC (ginger wig, butcher’s coat and killer heels).

DAILY MIRROR: “GET BACK – Macca’s ‘no concessions’ as divorce fights begins”

A blonde lawyer called Vanessa tells us the judge, Sir Hugh Bennett, is “sensible”

DAILY MAIL: “Look whose smiling after Day One in court.”

We looks but the pictures of Mucca (Heather Mills) and Macca reveal the former snarling as if restraining a bout of wind and the latter looking tight-lipped and aged.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: 12th, February 2008 | In: Broadsheets, Celebrities, Tabloids | Comments (7) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


House Of Commons Cleaner Evades Border Police

police.jpgELAINE Chaves Aparecida is a cleaner at the House of Commons.

Police arrive and perform a random check on her security pass. It is not hers.

Aparecida has been working in the Commons since December 3 last year as the employee of Emprise Services, as the Telegraph reports.

Under questioning, Miss Chaves, 31, admits that she has run away from immigration officials at Heathrow Terminal 4 in December 2004 before she could be refused entry.

That’s the plan. Get to Heathrow. Strand in line at immigration. And when asked a tricky question, run.

And if you want to be really clever go and get a job cleaning the seat of power…

Posted: 11th, February 2008 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Betting Odds Are Research For Lazy Journalists

bookmakers.jpg“TRIUMPH for Day-Lewis but Baftas defy bookies,” announces the Guardian’s front page.

The bookmaker’s odds are the lazy reporter’s barometer of shock and sensation.

No need for a newspaper to make a decision and engage in actual research when they can just say Pete Doherty is a generous 1,000 to win the London marathon.

The odds are displayed as if to reflect popular sentiment. But this is only true if there is a market for the bet. You need someone to offer the odds and take the bet. And only a nutter or someone who misunderstands the nature of what speed is would back Pete Doherty to win a 26-plus mile long running race. The odds are less important than the amount of money wagered.

It is of course PR, the reporter being fed a bit of fact by the bookmakers – Daniel Day’s a 33-1 outsider for the cinematography gong, and I’d take it with a treble on Jan Archibald and Didier Lavergne (evens) to get the best make-up and hair prize, and felt to be discovered on Mars (230-1).

Have any of you ever met a punter who has placed a bet on the Baftas? Have you never meet anyone who uses their phone cards and shakes off the effects of prescription drugs long enough to vote on a Daily Express phone poll?

What are the odds on doing so..?

Posted: 11th, February 2008 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


First Crown Court Case With No Jury

NOTES the Telegraph: “Prosecutors are planning to apply for permission to hold a major criminal trial without a jury in what would be a legal first for England.

The Crown is pressing for a judge-only trial because of concerns that jurors in the case could be subject to intimidation or bribery.

It is understood the request – which will be submitted to the judge on Tuesday – follows consultation with the Director of Public Prosecution.

Why now? Why is this case so execeptional? When the Anorak worked on and around Fleet Street, I used to spend many rainy afternoons sat in the gallery at the Old Bailey. When brave enough, I’d glance at the other members of the gallery who would often be friends and family of the accused. They would stare hard at the witnesses and then the jury. Some would be around the nearby St Paul’s Station or on the platform to see the witnesses emerging.

No jury. No problem…

 

Posted: 11th, February 2008 | In: Broadsheets | Comments (3) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Smoke Damage At Camden Market

camden-town-fire.jpgA FIRE at Camden Market. Smoke.

Says the Times: “Smoke still hung heavy over the Canal section of Camden’s famous market this afternoon, a pungent reminder of last night’s blaze.”

No, not josticks. Not herbal cigarettes. Not even burnt falafel. More a combination of all three, plus the stench of smoke-damaged buildings and carpet.

Reports the Times: “The area’s most famous pub, the Hawley Arms, which attracts celebrities such as Amy Winehouse, Kate Moss and Sadie Frost, was gutted.”

A celebrity fire. The disaster for the stall holders who may have lost their livlihoods is given perpective…

Posted: 10th, February 2008 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Prostitution And Politics: Government Clamp Down On Legal Activity

vice-cards.jpgTHE Times reports: “Ministers want to block the phone numbers of prostitutes who advertise their services in newspapers and telephone booths in an attempt to stifle the illegal sex trade.

“Police forces would identify suspected prostitutes to the telephone companies, which would be required to cut off their numbers.”

So if you are suspected of being a prostitute – not proven – you will have your phone cut off?

Prostitution – exchanging participation in sexual activities for money or other goods – in the UK is not illegal but there are a number of offences linked to it. For example, it is an offence to ‘procure’ a prostitute or to use premises as a brothel and thereby live off ‘immoral earnings’.

So the Government is going to cut off the phones of people engaging in legal activity?

And that’s not all. “It is 10 times more dangerous to work on the streets than in a flat. It will drive it underground,” says Cari Mitchell of the English Collective of Prostitutes.

Yes, the English Collective of Prostitutes. A Co-operative. Group sex, or a party line, as the Government would term it…

Note – Withough tart cards what would be the point of public phones boxes, although, admittedly, urinals are not as common as they once were?

Can you sticker a mobile phone? It costs a minimum of 40p to make a call from a BT phone box. Local calls on mobiles can often be free. Does this make a BT phone box a clip joint? And if clients use the boxes, is BT living off immoral earnings?

Posted: 10th, February 2008 | In: Broadsheets | Comments (2) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Global Warming: Cars To Leave Lights On All Day

cars.jpgAS reported in the Telegraph: “All new cars are to be fitted with automatic daytime headlights within four years.”

Leave the lights on all day? Who says?

The Government previously opposed the idea on the grounds that using lights in the daytime would increase fuel consumption and emissions, but conceded it was unable to oppose European legislation.

Says Jim Fitzpatrick, the road safety minister: “The UK has been successful in arguing against the introduction of mandatory use of dipped headlamps during daylight hours by drivers of existing vehicles.

“However, from early 2011 all new types of passenger cars and light vans will have to be fitted with dedicated daytime running lamps in accordance with the relevant European directive. By summer 2012, all new vehicles will have to be so fitted.”

Leave your lights on in the summer. The endless summer…

Posted: 10th, February 2008 | In: Broadsheets | Comments (3) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Gerry Adams Driver Was A Spy

irish-republican-army.jpgROY McShane once drove for Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams. He has been outed as a British spy

McShane was nicknamed – irony of ironies – “Roy the Rat”. He is in hiding, as the Telegraph reports.

Sinn Féin says Mc McShane can come home whenever he likes. He ahs nothing to fear.

“He is under no threat from republicans. If he wishes to return, it is up to him to make peace with his community and in particular his family,” a Sinn Féin spokesman says.

Forgive and forget. It’s the IRA’s motto…

Posted: 9th, February 2008 | In: Broadsheets | Comment (1) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Antonio de Pascale And His ‘Lolita’ Make Waves In Italy

lolita_book_cover.pngIN Italy a 34-year-old Italian man has had sex with a 13-year-old girl.

Antonio de Pascale, a butcher from Vicenza, had a four-month long relationship with the unnamed girl.

In court, de Pascale’s lawyers put forward the notion of a “deep tenderness” between their client and the girl, with whom he had “fallen head over heels in love”.

The lawyers say the girl had wilfully taken part in the affair. Lolita?

De Pascale could be sentenced to 12 years in jail. But the court in Vicenza hears the lawyers words, and they strike a chord. De Pascale is sentenced to just one year and four months in jail.

A sentence of less than three years means de Pascale is unlikely to serve any jail time.

Antonio Marziale, the president of the Association for the Protection of the Rights of Minors, says: “It is not right to judge whether or not a 13-year-old girl is willing. The law should safeguard young girls who are too immature to make these decisions against adults without scruples.”

Simonetta Matone, a judge in Rome, said the law must “always look to be reasonable in these cases… Every relationship is a relationship and the real maturity, whether physical or psychological, of the minor must be weighed, with the help of experts.”

De Pascale broke the law. But did he get away with it too lightly? Who is right?

Posted: 8th, February 2008 | In: Broadsheets | Comments (9) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


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