Broadsheets Category

Top news from The Times, Daily Telegraph, The Indepedent and The Guardian newspapers

Salad Dodger

‘IF John Prescott isn’t careful he may overindulge and so ruin his chances of capturing the heavyweight boxing gold for Britain at the 2012 London Olympics.

‘Get away, Prescott! They’re not on the menu’

Rarely has a politician been so associated with food. From scrambled eggs to oysters, Prezza is hungrier than a fleet of Jaguars.

Barely has he digested the meal from his date with Gordon Brown before the Guardian spots the Deputy PM at the Hoxton Apprentice restaurant, where he’s declining a plate of proffered grilled vegetables in favour of some Curry Dusted Fat Chips.

The venue, funded by the Government, Corporation of London and private enterprise, intends to give 48 unemployed people the chance to train as professional caterers each year.

And if that sounds familiar, it should – it’s based on Jamie’s Kitchen, the TV series is which Jamie Oliver performed the same trick with 15 such trainees.

That Jamie Oliver is now dictating Government policy should fill us with fear, dread and a creamy apple sauce, but we remind you that the generously-tongued chef is at least a step up from George Bush.

But what does Prezza make of it all? He tells the assembled diners, and the Times: ‘These young people have found out that a salad is about more than tomatoes and lettuce.’

What it is about we might never know because pukka John stopped short of telling us, although we cannot rule out a Prezza salad being about lashings of cheese, deep-fried Mars bars and some more of those chips in curry sauce.’

Posted: 19th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

White Teeth

‘ONE key difference between the fake photographs of British soldiers abusing Iraqis and those American snapshots is the teeth.

Brush three times a day after meals

While our bogus squaddie bows his head in shame, hiding his teeth from view, the Americans beam like the headlights on mom’s Cadillac.

And this has hurt us nearly as much as it’s hurt the Iraqis, taking a bite out of our young people’s confidence, according to the Independent.

And it’s not just Americans, but also our white-toothed celebrities who are making our youth ever more tooth-conscious.

Professor Jimmy Steele, of Newcastle University, has noted how the sight of David and Victoria Beckham’s artificially whitened teeth, and others like them, is encouraging youngsters to opt for special dental procedures.

‘Despite the fact that oral health has been steadily improving over the years,’ writes Prof Steele, ‘young people are more likely to believe they have unhealthy teeth because they compare themselves with the high standards set in the celebrity world.

‘People have developed unreasonable expectations of their dentists.’

Of course, just finding an NHS dentist is even harder than spotting a flaw on Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt’s blindingly white ivories.

So while you look for one, try not to open your mouth and, if you have to, paint your teeth with some Tippex first…’

Posted: 19th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Tours Of Duty

‘ON days like these, when you can lie back and warm your piercings beneath a radiant sun, you wonder why you ever need to go anywhere.

‘Next year we’re going to Afghanistan’

But as good as our beaches are, they can never match the sands of Iraq, which stretch for mile upon mile upon mile in all directions.

So, as the Telegraph says, Tony Blair is offering 3,000 British soldiers the once-in-a-lifetime chance to get away from it all in Iraq.

‘You’ve watched it on the telly,’ says the advert. ‘Now see first hand the bombsites and hear the pump-action sounds of the holiday hot-spot they’re all talking about.’

The full itinerary has yet to be finalised, but Tony Blair Tours are at pains to emphasise that no holidaymakers will be left in the lurch, as happened at Dunkirk all those years ago.

Speaking at a conference in Turkey, Blair vowed that he and his staff would not ‘cut and run’, a phrase he repeated no less than three times during his appearance.

‘Of course it is difficult at the moment,’ he said. ‘But the task of leadership when things are difficult is precisely not to cut and run, but to face the difficulties and overcome them.’

The Turkish Prime Minster, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with one eye on Iraq – and mindful of lessons learned in Faliraki and by the behaviour of American travel reps in Abu Ghraib – replied by addressing Blair as ‘my dear friend’ before voicing a note of caution.

‘We need to be real,’ said he, as the Guardian reports. ‘At the moment in our diagnosis, we can’t say that the developments are going the right way.’

But the Telegraph says that Blair will stay until the job is done – whether that be for one month until the hand-over of power, seven months until the first Iraqi elections or right up to the next General Election and into a third term…and fourth, and fifth.’

Posted: 18th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Corps Blimey!

‘WHAT we have seen in Faliraki, and now in Iraq, is that the cream of British youth can make a massive impact when they travel abroad.

‘Fancy a peace of this? Heh-heh!’

It’s something Gordon Brown has also noticed, and the Times hears the Chancellor suggest that young people from poor backgrounds should be given money from the public purse to take gap years and ‘change the world’.

‘If you take gap years, why is it that only people who have got money can actually take a year off or six months or three months off?’ he asked an audience at Youth Culture Television, a London-based educational charity.

Answers to that poser include, ‘The Job Seekers’ Allowance won’t allow it’, ‘Package tours to Faliraki usually last only two weeks’, and ‘They do, but the Government calls it ‘benefit fraud”.

But Gordon thinks it’s all terribly unfair, and suggests that more British youth should be despatched to places like Africa to sort out ‘the health, the education and other problems’.

So all being well, it won’t be long before the UK Peace Corps’ Jordan and Lance are hosting the Congo’s first Wet T-Shirt Contest and seeing how many Slippery Nipples it takes until you can fill your sandals with vomit.’

Posted: 18th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

A Right Titter

‘TONY Blair and the UK Peace Corps are striving to ensure that the map of the world will once more bear the pink of the British Empire, albeit spattered with occasional bits of blood and chunky, carrot-coloured puke.

‘Titter ye not!’

But one bit of the planet will be forever Britain, and yesterday Michael Howard visited the place we call Gibraltar.

In response to the Gibraltarians being able to vote in the European elections as part of the South-West of England constituency, the Tory leader flew to The Rock in search of votes.

He vowed to allow the people of Gibraltar to decide their future for themselves and not to enter into any secret negotiations about their future with the Spanish, ‘unlike the present Government’.

And Howard’s words seemed to do the trick, as the Independent watched him moving from shop to shop ‘pulling votes like ripe apples in an orchard’.

Buoyed by the overwhelming support, Howard stopped by busker Paul, who was busy playing ‘Rule Britannia’ on his harmonica.

‘He gave me a few coins,’ says Paul to the Indy. ‘Who is he? Frankie Howerd?’

Titter ye may, but this Howard is going places, leaving no vote untapped as the Tories go for broke.

‘Today Gibraltar,’ as they say in Tory HQ, ‘tomorrow, Yorkshire & The Humber’ – or Iraq West, as it will soon be known…’

Posted: 18th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Et Tu, Prezza

‘THE fat woman is not yet singing – but the stocky man and his fish-mouthed companion at the next table along are smacking their chops and making lots of noise.

Prezza strays off message

John Prescott has been busy saying nothing in a loud voice about how Tony Blair’s future could soon coincide with a regime change at Labour headquarters.

Having told the Times over the weekend, ‘I think it’s true that, when plates appear to be moving, everyone positions themselves for it” and, “Of course there has been speculation over the leadership, but the reality is there’s no race for the prime minister’s position”, Prescott sits back and let’s the Telegraph chew over his words.

And indeed they are words given added spice by the paper in its story of how plans for life after Tony were discussed between Prescott and Gordon Brown over oysters at the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar in Argyllshire.

We’ve checked on the map, and this eatery’s a pretty long way from Islington and the Granita restaurant where Gordon once ate at another memorable meeting, that time with Tony Blair.

The location might have been different, but once more it appears that the topic du jour was Gordon Brown’s elevation to the prime minister’s job.

That the Telegraph should give space to what in large part remains speculation is no great surprise, but the story does also appear on the front page of the Guardian where it has been dubbed the “Loch Fyne Accord”.

There, readers get to learn that either side of the oysters, Brown and Prescott shared a two-hour car journey from Oban to Glasgow after attending a memorial service marking 10 years since the death of former Labour leader John Smith.

The deduction is that anyone choosing to spend two hours in a car with John Prescott must either be stuck in a horrendous traffic jam, his wife on her way to the hairdresser’s or an ambitious politician hoping to secure the car-lover’s support in any leadership bid.

And since Brown has naturally wavy hair and Prescott’s integrated transport policy means his cars are the only ones on the near-empty roads, it looks to have been a journey of political beginnings and ends…’

Posted: 17th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Court Out

‘WHEN Tony Blair leaves Number 10, ascending to the Heavens in a golden chariot, what will his legacy be?

‘This is not a popularity contest,’ say government’s newest judges

All politicians, however selfless they appear, must wonder at some time or other how they will be remembered in the history books.

But Tony’s legacy is being muddied by the day.

He has been the most voter-friendly Labour politician ever, and that should secure him some bragging rights in the hereafter.

But other things are less certain. Take his plans for the new supreme court.

The Times has had a look at them and noted that the blueprints are to be put in “cold storage” for ten years because a suitable building can’t be found to house the legislative chamber.

Only when a building is ready will the supreme court, a key element of the Government’s Constitutional Reform Bill, be ready to dispense justice.

That a lack of building was no problem when is came to housing the devolved assemblies in Scotland and London (and Euan Blair in Bristol) will not escape the eyes of the taxpayer.

But the legal reform, attacked, as the paper reminds us, as ill-thought-out when they were announced, will be put on ice until that pile of bricks and cement can be found.

Let’s just hope the Government can house its project somewhere before it disappears in a puff of smoke, like Tony and his plans for cutting the red tape for small businesses, a total ban on fox hunting, an ethical foreign policy, an integrated transport system…’

Posted: 17th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Maid In The Philippines

‘FOR millions of us Tony Blair has been more than a spiritual leader.

A Leo

To the middle-classes, he has been the epitome of what can be achieved on a simple diet of Tuscan holidays, Jamie Oliver recipes and Paul Smith cuffs.

As a result of his guidance, we now all live better lives, eat better food and have better children called Leo.

And that’s created a problem – there are no longer enough Philippino maids to serve our needs.

Every woman from that Asian land is now already employed in the service of ‘Tony’s People’.

And things are going to get worse before they get better.

The Times reports that Tony’s Government will today unveil plans for a new breed of domestic help.

Working parents will be able to claim tax breaks worth up to £140 a week to pay for nannies to look after their little Jacks and Chloes.

All very well and good for Gordon and Sarah, you chime, but where will the new breed come from? Can you get the staff?

Well, the people that brought you Dolly The Sheep have been contacted and Monica The Maid will be in the shops sometime soon…and the bathroom, up a ladder cleaning out the guttering, running the kids to school…’

Posted: 17th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Permian Damage

‘WHAT President Bush is trying to do today, a huge asteroid succeeded in doing 250 million years ago – namely, causing the greatest mass extinction on record.

A genuine 250 million-year-old photograph of the moment of impact (Source: Mirrorpics)

And scientists now believe they have found the culprit, hidden (as is the way with so many mass murderers and others of the criminal persuasion) in Australia.

The Independent reports that geologists have located a huge undersea crater off the coast of Western Australia where they think the giant asteroid hit with the force of 1 million nuclear bombs.

About 90 per cent of marine organisms and 80 per cent of land animals and plants died out at the end of the Permian and the beginning of the Triassic periods, the paper says, for reasons that had not previously been explained.

‘Some scientists have suggested that severe volcanic eruptions at the time may have sent soot and ash into the atmosphere and shut out the sunlight for years,’ it says – although the same could be said of Manchester and there is still life of some form there.

‘Others have suggested that climate change, brought about by the formation of a supercontinent, was the cause.’

The great dying at the end of the Permian period is known as the greatest of the five mass extinctions.

An impact crater at Chicxulub in Mexico is thought to be responsible for the disappearance of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

A moron in the White House is doing his best to become responsible for the sixth one…’

Posted: 14th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Greek Pique

‘NOT many people remember now but, in the run-up to the Olympic Games in Sydney, the Australian media was full of predictions of doom and gloom.

‘And this is where the roof-building contest will take place…’

There was even a website whose sole job was to list the cock-ups made by contractors, the budgetary overruns and all the other problems attendant on such a massive undertaking.

All that was forgotten by the time the actual event took place and the 2000 games are now reckoned to have been one of the finest on record.

The same will probably be true of Athens, but the Greeks are getting touchy about what they see as hostile publicity in the run-up to this year’s games.

The Times carries a front-page story this morning of how reporter Laura Peek spent two and a half hours yesterday wandering unnoticed and unchallenged inside the so-called Olympic ring of steel – ‘supposed to be one of the most secure places in the world’.

The paper ran the story on its website yesterday, and the response from the Greeks was not polite.

Mega Channel described Peek’s report as ‘completely distorting the facts’; Flash radio station said ‘persistent negative reporting has now grown into negative action’; and Alter TV called the stunt ‘unprecedented and illegal’.

Anyone familiar with the British press could assure the Greeks that it is far from unprecedented – airports in this country are awash with journalists smuggling replica guns onto planes and taking pictures of themselves.

Nor should the Greeks worry about how they come across to the rest of the world.

Peek reports that she started her tour of the Olympic site by asking a security guard if she could look round.

‘Instead of ordering me to leave,’ she says, ‘the guard handed me a beer and showed me the swimming pool, cycling velodrome and agora.’

Can you imagine getting such a friendly welcome from a British security guard?

Anorak wishes the Greeks good luck…and how about a free beer?’

Posted: 14th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

The Press Gang

‘AS predicted, Mirror editor Piers Morgan is clinging onto his job like a particularly stubborn barnacle despite the fact that the photos he published of Iraqi prisoners being abused by British soldiers have been shown to be fakes.

‘Pictures of the Loch Ness monster? Being ridden bareback by Lord Lucan?’

The Telegraph carries the official verdict from Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram on its front page – namely, that the pictures ‘were categorically not taken in Iraq’.

But, as we forecast, Morgan is refusing to accept the verdict, arguing that the MoD had still not produced ‘incontrovertible’ evidence to support its claim.

What evidence would satisfy the tabloid editor we don’t know. We say the sky’s blue; everyone we know agrees that the sky is blue; but how do we provide incontrovertible evidence to prove the blueness of the sky?

The funny thing is that, despite the fact that they all agree that the sky is blue and the photos were faked, none of the broadsheets calls for Morgan’s head.

Were it a politician that had committed such an egregious error, one can’t imagine them all being so forbearing – but journalists tend to look out for their own.

Only Andrew Gowers, editor of the Financial Times, thinks that this is a resigning issue.

‘This is similar to the Gilligan affair,’ he tells the Guardian. ‘The defence as I understand it is that the pictures may not have been of actual events that took place; and that the story is basically right – when it’s actually wrong.’

Having dug his heels in and insisted on the genuineness of photos which are not even good fakes, Morgan and his organ have nowhere now to turn.

The Guardian thinks the paper should say sorry, arguing that its position regarding possible abuse of Iraqi prisoners by British soldiers would be strengthened, not weakened, by admitting that it had been the victim of a hoax.

Roger Alton, editor of the Observer, tells the paper that Morgan is a first-class editor and the country would be worse off without him.

‘I don’t think journalists should sit in judgement on what other people in the press should do,’ he says, ‘because we don’t know what the circumstances were.’

Not something that prevents journalists sitting in judgement on the rest of the country…’

Posted: 14th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Kilroy’s Still Here

‘WE have seen the future and, just as the mobile phone commercial says, it’s orange.

‘Vote for me and keep the Germans off my sunbeds’

In fact, it is the exact hue of Robert Kilroy-Silk’s permatanned skin, which is not surprising as Kilroy is the face of the future.

The 61-year-old former TV presenter yesterday helped to launch the UK Independence Party’s European election campaign with an attack on the “metropolitan political elite”.

It makes a change from his normal target – foreigners of any sort, but specifically Arabs (or “suicide bombers, limb-amputators and women repressors”, as he prefers to call them).

According to the Guardian, Kilroy claims to speak for the ordinary men and women of this country who are fed up with being ignored and patronised by this metropolitan elite.

How is he qualified to speak on their behalf? He has had 250,000 of them on his show over the past two decades…and during that time he has ignored or patronised every single one of them.

If Kilroy Silk is the UKIP’s most high-profile supporter, it has attracted a veritable rag-bag of backers from PR guru Max Clifford, boxing promoter Frank Maloney and burglar’s enemy Tony Martin.

Its leader is Roger Knapman, a former Tory MP who didn’t find the party’s policies right-wing enough for his taste.

Despite pandering to the electorate’s basest instincts, starting with a pathetic TV advert last night, the UKIP claims not to have any links with fascist groups like the BNP.

But the Guardian warns that such is the growing anxiety about the threat posed by the BNP in next month’s local and European elections that senior members of the three main parties have met to decide how best to counter it.

The paper says they are particularly concerned at new research that shows that the party “is successfully portraying itself among some voters as a mainstream democratic, political organisation”.

The study by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust found that the BNP is perceived as being very active, closely representing the views of its members and, say its supporters, “would make a difference”.

It would indeed make a difference – it would prove that racism and fascism is alive and well and able (just about) to put a X in a square.’

Posted: 13th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Morgan’s Organ

‘THE Ministry Of Defence is expected to confirm today what we have suspected all along, namely that the Mirror’s photos of British soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners are fake.

The jammed gun and melting boots were dead giveaways

Whether or not they represent what has really been going on in Iraq is another matter.

The fact remains that, by publishing the pictures without doing proper checks to prove their authenticity, the Mirror has perpetrated one of the greatest journalistic blunders of recent times – and editor Piers Morgan should start clearing his desk now.

We rather suspect he will try to hold on, arguing (as he has done up to now) that he still believes the pictures are genuine and anyway the main point about British abuse of Iraqi detainees remains.

However, the Telegraph also pins blame on the Government, which it says has known since last Monday that the pictures were in fact “mocked up” in the back of a Bedford four-ton lorry by members of the TA Lancastrian and Cumbrian Volunteers.

It says the announcement of the findings of the inquiry was delayed “in what appears to be an attempt to divert media attention from the controversy over when the Government knew about allegations of mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners”.

What is not in doubt is the impact the pictures of abuse – real in the case of the Americans; fake in the case of the British – have had in Iraq.

The Times says the country’s new leaders are demanding that the US surrender control of all prisons and detainees in Iraq when it hands over power to the interim authority on June 30.

“Such a sweeping demand,” the paper says, “will be unacceptable to the Pentagon and will leave Tony Blair in a position of acute discomfort, testing his loyalty to President Bush to the limit.”

It also provides Blair with a perfect opportunity to demonstrate the UK’s independence from America, a move that will also help Blair’s standing at home.

The Guardian reports that Gordon Brown has seen media tycoon Rupert Murdoch twice this week, giving rise to rumours that the chancellor is growing more restless in his desire to succeed his erstwhile friend.

And some commentators suggest that Blair is nearing his Geoffrey Howe moment, when a senior member of his Government like John Prescott tells him it is time to go.

If Prescott is chosen as the messenger, the fear is that Blair will not understand the message.’

Posted: 13th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

No Fun For The Hun

‘IF you believe the UK Independence Party, all Germans wear lederhosen, eat sausages, drink beer from steins and spend their time plotting how to take over Europe.

‘It vas never ze same after Geoff Hurst…’

The truth, however, is very different. According to the Times, Germany is a nation of moaners, led by self-serving politicians (with or without dyed hair) and greedy managers.

Not the paper’s words, but those of outgoing German President Johannes Rau.

“Egotism, avarice and self-righteousness in parts of the so-called elite are sapping the trust in institutions,” he said.

“On almost every issue it is about who can win against whom and how to inflict damage most effectively.

“Individual incompetence is being made to seem typical for the whole of German society.”

The media, he added, delighted in talking everything down, with newspapers developing a “fatal attraction to painting everything black” and fuelling the resentment of ordinary citizens.

Don’t tell the UKIP, but it sounds like Germany’s just like Britain after all…’

Posted: 13th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Invitation To A Beheading

‘WHAT is striking among all the stomach-churning incidents of abuse and torture of Iraqi prisoners by American guards is the homoerotic nature of so much of it.

A still from the gruesome video

The catalogue of abuse detailed by Maj-Gen Antonio Taguba lists things like forcing male detainees to masturbate while being photographed, forcing male detainees to wear women’s underwear and forcibly arranging naked detainees into a variety of explicit sexual positions for photographing.

What is it about the US military, one wonders, that encourages such behaviour.

According to the Independent, Taguba has concluded that the abuse suffered by Iraqis in Abu Ghraib prison was caused by a failure of leadership.

‘Failure in leadership, sir, from the brigade commander down,’ he told Congress yesterday. ‘Lack of discipline, no training whatsoever, and no supervision. Supervisory omission was rampant. Those are my comments.’

All well and good, but when the boss is out most of us don’t go round torturing our work colleagues – we nip out to the pub or bunk off early.

Anyway, the all-too-predictable consequence of the actions of the US soldiers is emblazoned across the front pages of all this morning’s papers – a still from a video showing the beheading of an American civilian captured in Iraq.

The Telegraph relates how five masked men are shown shouting ‘God is great’ over the screams of Nick Berg, a 26-year-old businessman from Philadelphia missing since April 9.

They are then pictured holding Berg’s severed head out in front of the camera, promising that America would receive nothing from them ‘but coffins after coffins, slaughtered in this way’.

The gruesome killing, a direct consequence of the pictures of brutality that have emerged in the past couple of weeks, has also put even more pressure on the Mirror after it published pictures purporting to show British abuse of Iraqi detainees.

Piers Morgan, the paper’s editor, insists that the pictures are genuine, demanding that anyone who says otherwise provides incontrovertible evidence.

Short of a confession from the people who staged the pictures (and staged they quite obviously are), how can anyone provide such evidence?

Surely, the burden of proof rests with the Mirror, which is already trying to muddy the waters by claiming that the authenticity of the pictures is not the real issue.

Yes and no. The Mirror is to be applauded for highlighting the issue, but to publish fake pictures of such a sensitive subject would be a journalistic blunder of catastrophic proportions.

One only hopes that in that case Piers Morgan will have more honour than politicians on both sides of the Atlantic and fall on his sword.’

Posted: 12th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Countdown Conundrum

‘HOW different the outcome of World War II would have been had Neville Chamberlain not heeded Winston Churchill’s demand and stepped down is impossible to say.

Veteran codebreaker Carol Vorderman

One thing, however, is certain and that is that the war would have been prolonged had it not been for the achievements of the Allied code-breaking facility at Bletchley Park.

Now veteran boffins are putting on their thinking caps once again and trying to solve a cryptic inscription on an 18th Century monument in the grounds of Lord Lichfield’s Staffordshire estate.

The inscription reads Et in Arcadia ego (And I am in Arcadia too), above the letters O.U.O.S.V.A.V.V., beneath which are carved a D and an M.

The Guardian says the inscription, hoped by some to be the secret of the whereabouts of the Holy Grail, has exercised the minds of theologians, historians and scientists for the past 250 years.

Yesterday, a group of veteran codebreakers from Bletchley Park arrived at Shugborough House to try their hand.

Oliver Lawn, aged 85, said it was the most challenging puzzle of its type he had been asked to solve.

‘I think you need classical knowledge as well as ingenuity,’ he said. ‘This is a language rather than a mathematical code.’

Or a very good 250-year-old practical joke…’

Posted: 12th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Sic Transit Gloria

‘THERE’S less than four weeks to go and we at Anorak can’t wait.

An artist’s impression of what the transit will look like

No, not for the final episode of Friends, the one in which they all get gunned down by a psychopath on the loose in New York, nor even for the start of Big Brother.

In the morning of June 8 (cloud permitting) we will all have the chance to see for the first time since 1283 the planet Venus moving across the face of the Sun.

The Independent says that anyone with a projection telescope (most of us) and a piece of card, or access to the internet, will be able to witness the ‘transit’.

What we will see in the unlikely event of it being clear that day is a small black disc crossing over the face of the Sun.

A similar effect can of course be achieved by getting a fly to walk across the lens of your telescope, and the fly is likely to get to the other side a lot quicker than Venus.

According to the paper, the transit will start at about 6.20am and finish at 12.04pm – and Gordon Brumage, professor of astronomy at the University of Central Lancashire, is as excited as us at the prospect.

‘It’s an extremely rare astronomical event,’ he says. ‘It’s a very special period of six hours and will link people across the world.’

But don’t worry if you miss it – transits are like buses. You wait 721 years for one and two come almost at once. The next will take place in 2247, a mere 243 years away.’

Posted: 12th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Noblesse Oblige

‘READERS of the Telegraph – God bless ’em – are probably still under the impression that two thirds of the map of the world is pink, the rather effeminate colour of the British Empire.

Laughing all the way to the bank – and from there to prison

They would certainly be of the opinion that one of those lucky enough to live under the enlightened British yoke, a certain Canadian by the name of Conrad Black, is a model of propriety and moral rectitude.

How could it be otherwise? Does he not have a seat in the House Of Lords next to Lord Archer Of Weston-super-Mare, Lord Ripper of Whitechapel, Lord Lucan Of Tabloid Notoriety and other representatives of the great and good?

But what is this? It seems that a careless paperboy has put the wrong paper through a Telegraph reader’s door – and the news is not so good.

In fact, it appears that Lord Black Of Wormwood Scrubs (coincidentally owner of said Telegraph) is as bent as the proverbial two-bob note.

The Independent reports that Black used his paper’s parent company, Hollinger International, as a ‘cash cow’ to subsidise his extravagant lifestyle and that of his wife, Telegraph columnist Barbara Amiel.

The Guardian also quotes from a $1.25bn writ, which claims that the couple billed the company for charitable donations made in their name.

Such was the couple’s greed, alleges the writ, Lady Black even claimed back the money she used to tip a doorman at the exclusive Bergdorf-Goodman store in New York.

And the Times says that the company jet was frequently commandeered by the Blacks to fly them between their many homes around the world.

In August 2002, the peer sent an e-mail in which he mused: ‘There has not been an occasion for many months when I got on our plane without wondering whether it was affordable.

‘But I’m not prepared to re-enact the French Revolutionary renunciation of the rights of the nobility.’

One of those rights is of course to have his head separated from his body, courtesy of Madame La Guillotine.’

Posted: 11th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Logic Dictates…

‘OUR beloved leader Tony Blair has told close associates that he will step down as Prime Minister if he becomes an electoral liability.

‘I said ‘lie ability”

A YouGov poll for the Mail On Sunday suggests that Labour would fail to win a parliamentary majority if Blair stays on, but would have a 77-seat lead under Gordon Brown.

Ergo, Blair stands aside, Brown takes over, the Tories are comprehensively routed again, the lame throw away their sticks and walk and everything is glad confident morning again.

That is the way it should work, but although (according to the Guardian) the first two statements are true, the PM is having trouble reconciling himself with the logical conclusion.

Indeed, the paper says Blair is privately confident that he remains an election winner and is convinced that he is more in tune with ordinary voters than a hostile media believes.

He also thinks he can walk on water, move mountains and solve the problems of Africa with nothing more than two loaves, five fishes and a roll of double-sided sticky tape.

But, the Guardian says, ‘if unforeseen events were to happen – personal or political – Mr Blair would back his chancellor’s claims as the man best qualified to inherit the mantle so long denied him’.

One such unforeseen event might be the news in the Times that support for Labour in a new opinion poll has fallen to a 17-year low.

The last time it polled as low 32% was early in 1987, just before Maggie Thatcher won her third term.

Altogether now, ‘Tony, Tony, Tony, Out, Out Out!”

Posted: 11th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Too Posh To Wash

‘IN the absence of too much in the way of news about the break-up of the British Empire or its owner’s scrapes with the law, what is there for the Telegraph to do?

‘I suppose there’s no chance of a soapy tit wank then…’

Well, it can shake its head and shrug its dandruff-specked shoulders at the foibles of the modern age.

And one of them is the news that a new generation of nurses is becoming “too posh to wash”.

That is not to say that said nurses are going days without a bath, but that they are drawing the line at washing their patients.

What is more, the Royal College Of Nursing’s annual conference was told, they’re not really into feeding patients, cleaning their mouths or providing much in the way of care at all.

Jeremy Bore, a general nurse at Exeter prison, said a significant minority of new generation nurses didn’t see providing holistic care as part of their remit.

“Washing people’s feet and backsides and keeping people’s mouths clean and fresh, these are tasks that are physically easy to carry out and learn.”

As is bringing the patient a copy of the Telegraph every morning…’

Posted: 11th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

A Worm

‘ALL teenagers are, by virtue of the fact they are teenagers, annoying – so to be dubbed the most annoying teenager on the planet is an accolade indeed.

Why couldn’t he look at porn like any other teeanger?

But that is how the Daily Telegraph introduces Sven Jaschan, the 18-year-old German who the paper says has made the lives of Taiwanese postmen and millions of others around the world miserable by insinuating his Sasser worm into their computers.

The paper says Jaschan and his fellow computer geeks claim to be fighting on behalf of the rest of the world at what they see as the evil empire of Microsoft.

And at least one German website was trying to portray the 18-year-old as a hero for his blow against global capitalism, as opposed to the sad inadequate that he really is.

In fact, as the Telegraph reports, the real winners from the Sasser virus are the companies who make security software.

An irony that will probably be lost on Sven Jaschan.’

Posted: 10th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

American Torture

‘CONTRARY to what Sir Elton John and Blue would have us believe, sorry does not appear to be the hardest word to say.

Although he’d forgotten why, Gary knew he had to shoot

In fact, it rolls off Mr Blair’s tongue more easily than a booze cruise of Brits rolling off the ferry in Calais.

The Prime Minister was at it again yesterday, following the lead of President Bush and US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in apologising for coalition abuse and torture of Iraqi prisoners.

It was what is known as a pre-emptive apology from Mr Blair – no definitive proof has yet emerged about British abuse, although it appears to be only a matter of time before some does.

Not so for the Americans – every day now they are seeing yet more images in the press and on TV of their repulsive behaviour in the Abu Ghraib jail near Baghdad.

But for all the apologies, there seems a complete lack of willingness to take responsibility for what appears – in Abu Ghraib at least – to have been systematic abuse.

Far from being the work of a few bad apples, the Guardian says that one soldier who has been charged with mistreating Iraqi prisoners claims she was acting on direct orders from army intelligence officers, CIA operatives and civilian interrogators.

And, despite offering what it calls “an unaccustomed apology” to Congress, Rumsfeld ducked the question of responsibility.

Republican senator John McCain complained: “I did not get answers to some fundamental questions and perhaps the most fundamental aspect of this is what was the chain of command, who was in charge of the interrogators, what was the role of the contractors.”

Vice-president Dick Cheney moved to back Rumsfeld, calling him “the best secretary of defence America has ever had” – in which case, we’d hate to see the worst.

But support seems to be ebbing away and it is surely now only a mater of time before Rumsfeld goes.

One general put the blame for the post-war debacle in Iraq squarely on the shoulders both of him and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz.

Rumsfeld, he said, refused to listen or adhere to military advice.

And a special forces officer said both Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz should go as a result.

In Britain, pressure is growing on the Government to get out of Iraq altogether, with a poll in the Independent suggesting that 55% think the troops should come home by the end of next month.

That is a staggering turnaround from last month, when 51% said troops should stay in Iraq for as long as necessary and is surely a warning that even Mr Blair will find hard to ignore.’

Posted: 10th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Don’t Look Back In Anger

‘WERE it not for the disaster that is Iraq, the Labour government would probably now be moving quite smoothly and confidently towards an unprecedented third term in office.

John Prescott wasn’t keen on the Poll Tax riots

Michael Howard may have revived the Tory party, but its condition has moved only from critical to stable. There is still very little to commend it to the British people.

Certainly, the Government has made mistakes, but as NHS chief announced last week, the fruits of its unparalleled investment in public services are beginning to show.

But all that is drowned out by Iraq, by arguments over whether we were taken into a war on a false prospectus and concerns about how we are ever going to get out of the consequent mess.

And now the Times reports that the Government is alienating its own MPs by launching a personal attack on Mr Howard in the run-up to the European and council elections.

The advert to be broadcast tonight shows images of poll tax riots and house repossessions, laid over with reminders of Mr Howard’s jobs in previous Tory government – all to Simply Red’s If You Don’t Know Me By Now.

A Labour strategist disingenuously claims that the adverts are only negative if your judgement of the Tories’ record is negative.

But what is the Government doing towards the end of its second term dredging up things that happened 15 years ago?

It’s like the Tories making adverts about the winter of discontent or even the IMF debacle.

Former defence minister Peter Kilfoyle was just one Labour MP to deplore what he called the “Americanisation” of politics.

“Campaigning now,” he said, “has often got nothing to do with policies and everything to do with personalities and how they’re represented.”

And who was it who said in 1997 that people want to hear about the health service, jobs, education, “not nasty, negative, personalised, abusive campaigning”?

Step forward, Mr Blair…’

Posted: 10th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Grin And Bare It

‘“IN September 2001, the planes smashed into buildings; today, Lynnie smashes to pieces our entire morality with just one tug on the leash.”

Oops! Lynnie arrives at the wrong time…again

So writes Robert Fisk on the cover of today’s Independent, in a piece produced beneath the shadow of the grandiose headline: “THE DESTRUCTION OF MORALITY.”

The veteran reporter is of the mind that the photograph of the US solider dragging her naked and prone captive along by a dog-style lead is as destructive to our collective selves as planes deliberately being flown into the World Trade Center.

The shot, which appears on the paper’s front page, presents a damning picture of American aggression and racism – as Fisk notes, the victims are brown-skinned Muslims, while the alleged perpetrators are churchgoing white Christians.

But how emblematic of an entire culture can a few boneheads be? Should we all be held accountable for Lynnie’s actions?

To find out more, we need to find out who Lynnie is, the brown-haired woman who has posed for photographs smoking a cigarette and giving an idiotic thumbs-up while pointing at the groins of stripped Iraqis, and now seen pulling a man along behind her like a dog?

First the bad news, or the even worse news: Lynnie’s full name in Lynnie England. It’s an unlucky quirk of fate that this inadequate should be so easily linked with the British war effort.

We need to learn more, and helping us with our enquiries is Terrie England, Lynnie’s mom, who speaks to the Telegraph from her trailer park home in West Virginia.

Dismissing the images of her daughter as “stupid, kid things – pranks”, Mom England adds that her daughter was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

She was nothing more than a “pen pusher”, explains Terrie. “She just happened to be there when they took those photographs.”

But perhaps it’s not mere coincidence. Perhaps it’s something to do with destiny?

Painted on a rock outside the home of one of the six members of the US Army’s 372nd Military Police Company facing court-martial, one Charles Graner, is a verse from the book of Hosea.

It says: “Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to see the Lord, until he comes and showers righteousness on you.”

After a hard day a-beating and a-torturing, there’s nothing like a good refreshing shower of righteousness to make you sleep at nights.

That Hosea fella sure was one smart cookie. But he was no American solider…’

Posted: 7th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Captain Scarlett

‘IF it wasn’t for US army specialist Joseph Darby, who is the man who released those pictures of the soldiers abusing Iraqis, we might never have learnt what passes for justice in parts of American-controlled Iraq.

Cluedo: Was it Mr Scarlett on the sofa with the dossier?

Whether or not the abuse is the tip of an iceberg or not, we might never know. Governments like to hang onto their secrets – however dark, however shameful.

But at least we in Britain now know who keeps ours. He’s called John Scarlett, and, as the Guardian says in its lead story, he’s just been appointed as the new head of MI6.

And if you or Tony Blair ask nicely, he might just tell you anything you want to know.

This, after all, is the official held responsible for that Iraq weapons dossier, the dodgy one where we were all 45 minutes from annihilation.

It’s pretty clear that what Scarlett tells you might not be right or true, but he will tell you something, and that has to be an improvement on silence.

For this reason, it’s little surprise that the relatively high-profile Scarlett got the job ahead of the other candidates.

As the Times says, it’s more normal for the deputy of the service to replace the retiring head, but even though the deputy applied for the post he was overlooked in favour of Scarlett.

Clearly this departure from usual practice has nothing to do with Scarlett’s dossier, nor his place, as the Guardian puts it, as “part of the sofa culture that makes policy not at the cabinet table but in the prime minister’s den”.

This the man who Lord Hutton, who chaired that investigation into the death of Dr David Kelly, concluded may have been “subconsciously influenced” by the Government’s eagerness to make a strong case for war.

But this is all rumour, and the new “C” is simply the best man for the job.

As no more impartial figure than Tony Blair says on the Guardian’s cover, Mr Scarlett is a “fine public servant”.

“I think it is unfortunate if it [Scarlett’s appointment] gets embroiled in party politics, or people try to make political capital out of it.”

Unfortunate? That’s a rather anodyne word, especially when we are 45 minutes from being wiped out.’

Posted: 7th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0