Top news from The Times, Daily Telegraph, The Indepedent and The Guardian newspapers
A NATION of
shopkeepers kept shoppers:
Up to two thirds of people claiming incapacity benefit are not entitled to the state handout, the Government’s new welfare adviser warns today.
That’s 1.9million of us.
Says Tim: “Anybody at all who has looked at these figures knows that Incapacity Benefit has been a parking place for long term unemployed”
Andrew is a champion of man’s lib, and has written a book called Dad Rules. It is a pun.
Here’s a sample of Mr Clover’s writing: “Saturday night. I sleep with my wife and baby. It’s like being in a trench in Flanders. Bright lights beam. Bodily matter is ejected and consumed. People scream, but their writhing mouths can’t say the word ‘Mummy’. I behave like a captain during bombardment.”
How’s that, then? Until we see Ross Kemp in Afghanistan most of us how no idea how a captain behaves when under attack. Perhaps he writes a blog post?
Reading this, we wonder if Andrew is a woman’s name, and if Andrew is the name of any of the panelists on Loose Women. It might be Coleen Nolan’s nom de plume, and more power to her were it so.
But we fear Andrew is a man. But as we reach for the pills, it dawns on us that this is a neat parody on the most trite kind of chick lit, a male reply to Fashionably Latte, Anorak’s own work.
All it lacks is a name for this kind of writing. Any suggestions..?
It is “ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE RACE FOR THE WHITEHOUSE”.
The Indy is too modest. This is more than you or anyone needs to know.
The poster unfurls to reveal that John Edwards and Rudy Giuliani are “CONTENDERS FOR THE WHITE HOUSE”.
Both men have, as all papers and news wires report, now retired from the race.
The Independent seems unlucky. But it has been here before. With the result of the New Hampshire primary still unknown, its front page featured a picture of Barack Obama and the legend: “IOWA… NEW HAMPSHIRE…AMERICA?”
The answer was: “YES…NO….MAYBE.”
YESTERDAY’S news that McDonalds’ is to offer its own qualifications “equal to GCSEs”, occupies the Guardian’s leader writer.
“The fear that education would fall prey to the profiteers emerged yesterday after it was announced that authority to award A-level-style qualifications was being given to three firms: the airline Flybe, Network Rail and, most iconically, McDonald’s. If McQualifications were to displace traditional study, that would surely do for erudition what fast food has done for the diet.”
The Guardian is like that American teacher who gives their failing students an F-grade and an McDonald’s application form. This will inspire them to become more academic, not just give up and get a McJob.
And then this: Gordon Brown yesterday warned of the dire fate that would befall Britain if it failed to close its skills gap…The response is a mixed one, Mr Brown proposes heavy-handed welfare reforms along with welcome expansion in public sector apprenticeships. His plans are far from perfect, but it is to be hoped they will do the trick, because, for all yesterday’s McFlurry of publicity, McQualifications will not be enough.”
So, you can learn from the state – good – but learning from a hugely successful private enterprise is bad? And how do you get the money to fund State-run apprenticeships?
ARE you gay?
Only one in 100 Britons would describe themselves as gay, according to the first government research into the nation’s sexuality.
A further one in 100 would call themselves bisexual – but both groups are outnumbered by those who say they are unwilling to discuss their private life with Whitehall researchers.
In the survey, some people failed to understand the question and gave answers including “female”, “normal”, “not active” and “I am OK with my sexuality”.
Statisticians spent two years considering the precise wording of the sexuality question, which was asked as part of a larger survey about lifestyle. In the end, they asked it in two different ways, each bringing different results.
Overall, 94.4 per cent of people surveyed described themselves as heterosexual or “straight”; one per cent said they were gay or lesbian; 0.9 per cent said they were bisexual; 0.6 per cent selected “other”; and three per cent ticked the box for “prefer not to say”.
Homosexual campaigners have claimed previously that as many as one in 10 of the population is gay. Ben Summerskill, the chief executive of the gay rights group Stonewall, believes the true figure to be about six per cent.
JEROME Kerviel has committed the biggest individual fraud in history. In France, he’s a hero:
France behind the biggest ‘rogue trader’ scandal of all time. Some 300 miles west of Paris, in his home village of Pont l’Abbé on the Brittany peninsula, Kerviel is a hero – particularly with the ladies in the hair salon his mother used to own.
‘He was your ideal son-in-law,’ said 62-year-old Martine Le Pohon, who remembers Jérôme helping his mother out on Saturdays at Un Monde Imagin’ Hair. ‘And if it turns out that he has stood up to the system to the tune of €5m, well, as far as I am concerned, that makes him even more ideal.’
Maryvonne Even, 40, said Kerviel was a scapegoat. ‘He was probably caught fiddling – a bit – and the bosses decided to blame him for all their losses,’ she said.
But this is not just local Breton solidarity. In France, where there is profound popular distrust for big finance, strong opposition to ‘international capitalism’ and a belief in the ‘French model’ as opposed to ‘savage Anglo-Saxon liberalism’, the views of the ladies in Pont l’Abbé are widespread.
It’s all our fault…
A SEXUAL revelation at college:
Those reading medicine had the most number of sexual partners (eight) while those reading theology had the fewest (two).
Where did the professors come?
“ONLINE tax system ‘too risky’ for the famous,” says the Telegraph.
Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs admits the system is not secure enough to be used by MPs, celebrities and the Royal Family, although not necessarily in that order.
The risk is that Tax records contain NI numbers, bank account and salary details – all valuable to fraudsters.
Men in cravats and generous ears will pass themselves off as Prince Charles; freckly youths called Wayne will clean Argos of jewellery; people will think Gordon Brown spends £26,467 a year on hair gel.
As such, thousands of “high profile” people have been “secretly barred” from using the online tax return system.
From this October, non VIPs are required to file a self-assessment online or face a fine. However, HMRC has a list of those excluded from the new rules who must send hard copies of returns for “security reasons”.
As the paper notes: “HMRC stressed that all taxpayers’ details were secure.”
EQUAL RIGHTS NOW!
But this smacks of discrimination. Why should the great and good be prevented from accessing the same cutting-edge technology as the rest of us, forced instead to use ancient ink and embarrassing paper?
A rebellion is already underway. The We Are Not Celebs movement is petitioning for a change in the rules.
Reports are that Kerry Katona, Anthea Turner and Bubble from Big Brother 3 have already signed up and are telling everyone and everyone that they are not really celebrities and challenging the Government to spot their talent.
Prince Edward denies being a Royal and Sarah Teather says only a madman would describe her as an MP…
EQUAL RIGHTS NOW!
It’s Pounds for Pounds. And if the fatties pound the pavement and run it’s Pounds For Pounds For Pounds.
Sadly, the initiative already has a name – Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives – and is under the auspices of the Well@Work scheme.
The Telegraph says that one competition, called The Biggest Loser, awarded £130 in gift vouchers for the participant who lost the most weight.
This is just the start.
Companies should be encouraged to flag their interests, perhaps replacing the Ltd and PLC parts of their names with something to reveal that their clinically obese staff have signed up to the scheme.
What about [company name] FAT or FLAB (Fat Loser Aerobic Business)?
And there are are the belly ads…
THE Government-funded School Food Trust wants to reintroduce cooking lessons into the school curriculum.
Of course, this has already been done via Jamie’s School Dinners. Jamie Oliver is the Essex lad who points at a working class man’s dinner and goes “Ugh!”.
Oliver invited us to do it at a school. Urg! And then again at a chicken farm. Urg!!
It is of course not all Oliver’s fault. He needs approval from on high; he needs the politicians to buy into celebrity and believe in the power of telly.
Indeed, so intoxicating is celebrity that the Government has launched its own cook book…
Or what about a light sponge sandwich with a lemon crud filling..?
LIVERPOOL is the Capital of Culture.
Everyone wants to be a Liverpudlian this year. Londoners are gargling with thickened mayonnaise to get their right accents and pass themselves off as one of the cultured elite.
Devonians have begun a campaign to have the former Liverpool-based soap Brookside reinvigorated in Torbay.
But not everyone can be a Liverpudlian – not even all Liverpudlians can.
Says the Independent: “Liverpool turns on Ringo for saying he misses nothing about the city.”
Ringo is Ringo Starr, voice of Thomas the Tank Engine and a sometime percussionist.
There’s Ringo Starr stood on top of the St George’s Hall giving full throat to “Liverpool I left you, but I never let you down”.
And here’s Starr on Jonathan Ross’s radio show, responding to a question as to what he misses about the city. Anything? “Er, no…,” says Starr. “Look I love Liverpool. I was a child in Liverpool. I grew up in Liverpool. My family members are in Liverpool. But you know…
“I had to tell the audience, as it was so excited, that I was this close to coming back. But I had a great time up there at the weekend [during the opening ceremony]. I did.”
Cue the Liverpudlians. Says the paper: “Within hours the city’s local newspaper, The Liverpool Echo, was inundated with calls from angry readers and more than 1,500 people had posted on the paper’s website forums, venting their anger.”
Anorak has begun a petition to erase Starr from history and replace his effigy with that of Little Jimmy Osmond singing Long Haired Lover from Liverpool.
But we cannot do it alone and require a budget to pay for a shiny tracksuit, a few thousand locals to say that they are related by marriage to Osmond and a lorra lorra laughs…
“Ministers are concerned that many older children shun healthy school lunches for junk food, while younger pupils use ‘pester power’ to force their parents to buy them unhealthy snacks on the way home.”
Odd that this Government wants to curtail choice; choice is the mantra for all the main political parties. Odder still that the Government should want to stop children walking to the shops and buying cheap protein.
Perhaps the thinking is that if the fast food shops are removed further from the schools the nippers will have to walk further and so burn off more fat?
Says Health Secretary, Alan Johnson: “Hazel Blears [the Community Secretary] and I will also look at how the planning system can help all areas by making sure that planning decisions promote physical activity with better use of the regulations that enable local authorities to limit the spread of fast food outlets especially near parks and schools.”
As such, we can expect the ice-cream van to less stop than slow to the proscribed 5mp, the Mr Whippy Pied Piper leading the fatties and potential fatties through the streets, his tinky-tonk Greensleeves cranked up to a fat-burning 120-plus beats per minute.
Any children fallen the wayside will be rolled into the road and used as speed calming devices, and objects of fun.
It’s joined-up Government…
“DIAMONDS ? Gold? Old hat! Tractors are the thief’s holy grail,” says the Times.
Hundreds of tractors are being stolen in an extraordinary crimewave that is worth £3 million a year and affects most counties in rural Britain. It is being investigated by police forces nationwide, working with the National Plant and Equipment Register in Operation Mermaid.
It’s a big problem:
They are particular about their pickings, and have a penchant for the distinctive green and yellow tractors of the John Deere brand. John Deere tractors usually cost between £63,700 and £75,000, and even second-hand models can be sold for up to £50,000. Some top-of-the-range tractors cost more than £100,000.
As Tim notes: “Taking that second hand value £3 million a year is 60 a year. So that ‘hundreds’ looks like a tad of hyperbole, don’t you think?
SIR Martin, director of the Office for Fair Access (Offa), is responsible for ensuring that higher education is open to students from less privileged backgrounds.
He tells the Telegraph: “We will never go back to selection…”
Although, as the paper notes: “Potential Oxbridge students should be identified at 11 and given special mentoring throughout their school years to help them compete for a place, the Government’s access tsar has proposed.”
So, no going back to selection, then..?
Asked by the Sundays Times if they would feel safe walking around London late at night, our VIP opined: “Well, no, but I don’t think I ever have done. You know, I would never have done that, at any point in my life.”
Why not: “Well, I just don’t think that’s a thing that people do, is it, really?”
“Well, I wouldn’t walk around at midnight and I’m fortunate that I don’t have to do that?”
The Sunday Times is talking with…
a) Anna Nicole Smith
b) Maggie Smith
c) Victor Lewis Smith
d) Lady May Abel Smith
e) Jacqui Smith
f) Will Smith
Answer after the jump…
Smoking in enclosed paces is now verboten in Germany. So the German smokers are on the move, journeying not to France (where a smoking ban persists) but to Poland, historically an intrepid German’s first port of call on any freewheeling European adventure.
It is all too easy to hark back to those dark days, to mention the war. But this talk of Nazis is intoxicating for the Observer. How have Germans reacted to the tobacco ban?
In Berlin’s Vienna Bar, Gerhard Grünberg is showing off his bruises, a victim of “bar rage”. He shares his anecdote. A man is smoking. He asks the man to step outside and partake of the air warmed by heaters, the blankets and sofa. Says Grunberg: “’But the man said I was taking away his rights, and then he threw the punch.”
Violence in Germany. And as the papers notes: “Under the supervision of the Institute for Tobacco Hazards Research, the ban was imposed in every public building and public space, including air-raid shelters, with Hitler even personally intervening in 1944 to ensure it was extended to trains and buses in order to protect young female conductors.”
And: “It was even pointed out that Hitler, Mussolini and Franco were all non-smokers, while the ‘evil enemies’ – Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin – all enjoyed a tobacco fix.”
But it is the UK that bans smoking in all enclosed public places. In Germany, smokers can indulge their habit in establishments with separate rooms. The Observer say this is a “quirk”.
It’s not. It’s a fact. Modern Germany is more tolerant than the UK…
IN ‘Poultry is not a class issue, old Etonian Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall tell us about chicken:
But a commercially produced free range bird, not organic, can be had in most supermarkets for a little over £5. And there is another – cheaper – higher welfare option provided by the RSPCA’s Freedom Foods method of poultry rearing. All the major supermarkets offer this bird or an own-brand equivalent, and these typically sell for about £4. As one of these birds will easily feed a family of four – twice, in the hands of a keen and resourceful cook – you could even say they are a bargain.
You could. Only:
And be in no doubt, these birds may be reared inside but they have, through lower stocking levels and an enriched environment, certainly led more comfortable and less stressful lives than the “two for a fiver” birds piled beside them in the supermarket chill cabinet. The irresistible pressure on many shoppers to buy cheap chicken arises not because higher welfare birds are expensive, but because standard factory farmed poultry is aggressively, artificially and, I would say, shamefully cheap.
I would say a bargain…
I believe that there is a continued need for a domestic poultry industry that can deliver good value chicken at a keen price for a massive popular market. But basic welfare reform is an urgent matter. If something like the RSPCA standards were adopted as a new starting point for the industry, it would add only 50p to the cost of raising a bird. That includes a fairer price for the farmers, who are struggling to stay in business as their grim product sells for insultingly low prices.
Let’s hear it for more expensive chicken!
As the Telegraph reports: “Female police officers up and down the country rebelled have against the regulation trousers they are forced to wear, claiming they are unflattering for their bottoms.”
The article goes on: “They were particularly aggrieved by the high waistbands which cover up curves and the bulky, ill-fitting material which makes it difficult to run after offenders.”
It’s important to get the look right. When our PR-sensitive police force are posing for the snappers alongside a celebrity they need to look good. These photos are distributed around the world. Standing alongside the likes of Amy Winehouse, Kate Moss and Pete Doherty can make the WPC looks not a little hippy and “square”.
Says a Hampshire Constabulary WPC: “Police uniform for women is awful. When my uniform was issued I requested men’s trousers as the women’s were so high waisted that they did absolutely nothing for a woman’s figure. I now buy my own trousers.” Red ones?
One West Midlands WPC added: “It does wind me up that we get these terrible trousers – they make your bum look huge – they are massive around the hips. The force needs to listen to us, the old uniforms are old-fashioned and need updating.”
What to do? Something must be done. Peter Fahy, head of race and diversity, tell us: “Having listened to the British Association for Women in Policing it was clear many forces wanted to produce a better uniform themselves. It is at that level that the proposals need to be trialled.”
Like you, we have no idea what he means, his talking to immersed in copper’s English to make any sense.
However, attempts at translation point to a cohesive and sensitive joined-up approach to policing with WPCs reflecting the changing environment in a coming together of leggings, pencil skirts and something strappy and pointy on the feet…
SAYS Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary: “We are already working closely with the communications industry to take action against paedophiles. I believe we should also take action against those who groom vulnerable people for the purposes of violent extremism.”
Smith was saying just that as the International Centre for Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence - “the first truly global centre for knowledge and leadership in the area of radicalisation and political violence”. Possibly the last, too.
Listen up, Osama. You are no longer a mad mullah, a Teddy Bear Taliban or a jihadist. You are now a paedo.
Each car bombing will be punctuated by news that the victims’ children are now exposed to the dangers of paedophiles. “Perverts stalk
“I’m sure it is happening. It’s a perfect opportunity for these guys to move in,” says Unicef’s director of child protection in
Forget being blown to bits. It’s the paedos who really scare us.
If there is one thing guaranteed to get headlines more than celebrity, football and the War On Terror it is paedophiles. Heather Mills was not treated worse than a Muslim fundamentalist, she was treated worse than a paedophile.
Muslim, Christian, Jew, hawk or dove we can call form a consensus on paedos. And some of these paedos are offering the kids sweetners – like bombs and virgins…
ON the high sease: “Two British and Australian anti-whaling protesters are being held hostage in the brig of a Japanese harpoon ship after a dramatic high-seas encounter in the Southern Ocean, say environmental activists.
“The incarceration of Giles Lane and Benjamin Potts, of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, follows their attempts to board the Yushin Maru No 2 — a vessel engaged on Japan’s hugely controversial ‘scientific’ pursuit of minke and fin whales.
Feel sorry for them? Not the whales, the protestors?
A Times correspondent notes: “Certain areas of whale brains, such as the cingulate cortex of Fin Whales, are for instance, paralleled in humans, and in us, related to ethical decision-making. While the Fin Whale brain is 5x the size of our own, their cingulate cortex is larger in relation to their brain size than is ours. What if the Japanese are killing Gandhis and Einsteins?”
MRSA has embraced Kathy Burke – “I had that C.difficile hospital bug that everyone is going on about. It was an experience” – and Leslie Ash – “I want to bring this to the public notice”.
But Norovirus, also known as winter vomiting disease, has no VIP champion.
Doctors estimate more than 10,000 people a week are catching Norovirus. Knowing that there is now one celebrity for ever 1,000 Live Audience Members (Source: Anthea Turner’s Celebrity Survey), we wonder if the celebrity world is keeping the illness in house. Puking, diarrhoea and the multi-talented “Diking” (both at once) are, perhaps, less marketable than MRSA, with its mysteries and plotlines.
In the Guardian, Charlie Brooker, who appears on BBC4, says: “There’s a plague stalking the land and I’m terrified. But here’s how to avoid Notovirus meltdown.”
Brooker has been successful so far. This might be because he has washed his hands and spent past of the last month in New York. It might be down to sheer bloody-mindedness.
But if the likeable Brooker does fall ill, he might be the one to tell us about it. Assuming, of course, his computer does not become clogged with the detritus of the disease no-one is talking about…
PLEASE, Sir, can I borrow your raxor: “A 30-year-old woman was arrested yesterday for masquerading as a schoolboy after ‘stealing’ a teenager’s identity.”
Says the Telegraph:
Barbora Skrlova fled to Norway from the Czech Republic and posed as a 13-year-old boy for four months to avoid giving testimony in a 2007 child abuse case, Czech police said.
She was deported back to the Czech Republic and detained after months of fooling teachers in Norway by passing herself off as a boy named Adam. She was enrolled at a school near Oslo in September by a woman who introduced the 33-year-old as her son.
How old? 30 . 33. Even the paper of record is uncertain…
WRITES Simon Heffer in the Telegraph on drugs:
I make no apology either for being so uncharitable towards the drugs culture, or for hectoring a government that refuses to deal seriously with it. It causes, on a conservative estimate, 70 per cent of the crime in our country. Mugging, burglary, prostitution and most other forms of vice are linked to it. It provokes violence and murder. Poverty, misery and broken families are its result.
Why think you have to make an apology? Better to make a fist at understanding that drugs and crime are linked because – get his – drugs are, in the main, illegal…
Good for the ill in need of an organ. But does it mean that your body is owned by the State, unless you opt out?
And does that mean that the State takes precedence over religious beliefs?
Will the wake be enjoined by wonks playing games of Operation with the dearly departed?