Top news from The Times, Daily Telegraph, The Indepedent and The Guardian newspapers
‘FOR some, the end of the world has already been and gone. While we in Blighty have to wait a little while longer, the Americans have already seen the final curtain.
|We’re with stupid|
Americans, the Guardian reports, have just witnessed the last episode of the TV series Friends.
Hang the war in Iraq, the wanton abuse of the locals and whether George Bush is sorry or not, what Americans really want to know is if any of the Friends cast will ever work again.
We would like to think not.
But while America chowed down on vats of artichoke dip and ginger ale (the recipe for a perfect Friends farewell, as dictated by the NBC website), plans for a second assault were being finalised.
In the same way that Cheers spawned Frasier (and George and Barbara Bush gave life to Dubya), America is to have a new spin-off feature – not as robust and potent as the first, but just as funny, although not always intentionally so.
The shows retarded Joey character is to have his own series in which he leaves New York to further his acting career in Los Angeles.
And the hot news is that whiles hes learning to act, hell be joined by David Schwimmer.
And when they have both honed their craft and are able to deliver a lie without blinking and an apology with meaning, they will be ready to move into that other world of fantasy: American politics.
Joey for the White House? Why not? Its time to get the campaign started.’
”MY fellow Iraqanians,’ said George Bush yesterday as he spoke directly to two Arabic language TV channels. ‘I come in pieces.’
|The English subtitles are at the bottom of the screen|
The Telegraph looked on as Bush furrowed his brow in that way that makes his forehead look barely big enough to hold all but the most rudimentary brain and issued a humble and at times grovelling apology for his countrymen’s appalling behaviour in Iraq.
Only he didn’t. What he said was that people in Iraq ‘must understand that I view these practices as abhorrent’. Iraqis ‘must understand that what took place does not represent the America I know’.
And, as Donald Rusmfeld might have added, they must understand that if they don’t understand what they must understand, they will be against us and so not with us and, in so doing, place themselves in considerable danger of having electrodes tied to their genitals.
And there was more for the two people left in Iraq who actually have electricity and a working TV set to mull over, as Bush explained all.
‘It is important for the people of Iraq to know that in a democracy everything is not perfect; mistakes are made [see Bush].
‘But in a democracy these mistakes will be investigated and people will be brought to justice.’
Or, as in the case with those dodgy votes, the people concerned will be given the presidency of the United States. But we take Bush’s point, whatever it may be.
However, not everyone is as enthusiastic about the American way as the US President.
The Independent hears from Hayder Sabbar Abd, the man pictured hooded and naked while a dwarfish female American soldier points at his bared genitals.
He gives a bald account of the abuse he withstood, which seems to reveal his tormentors’ obsession with his and the other victims’ genitalia.
‘They [Americans] told us about democracy and freedom. We are happy about that. Then they [the soldiers] did this to the seven of us. I am asking ‘Is this democracy, is that freedom?”
The answer to the question should be a simple ‘No’. Just as Bush’s broadcast should have contained another simple word. That word is ‘sorry’.’
‘WHAT the world must understand is that not all Americans are like George Bush.
|‘It’s called Dumb And Dumberer’|
Some can eat pretzels and think at the same time. And one of them is Michael Moore, the broadcaster, writer and filmmaker.
(In fact, Mr Moore looks like he could eat a whole bag of pretzels for every thought that pops into his brain.)
In his latest movie, the Guardian reports that Moore – winner of an Oscar for Bowling for Columbine, a look at American’s obsession with the gun [see Iraq] – exposes the links between the aforesaid Bush and prominent Saudis.
Fahrenheit 9/11 promises to cast light on the dealings between the Bush clan and those who control the world’s biggest oil reserves in Saudi Arabia, a country not a million miles from Iraq.
The Telegraph says the film looks at a flight that spirited members of the bin Laden family out of America in September 2001 and includes footage of American soldiers criticising their leader.
But the film might never be shown – Disney, which owns Miramax, the firm behind the movie, is blocking its distribution.
Moore’s agent, Ari Emanuel, says the reason for this is that Disney’s involvement could have a negative impact on tax breaks the corporation receives from the state of Florida.
And, yes, that is the same state where Jeb Bush, George’s brother, is governor.
Back in the Guardian, Moore is in thoughtful mood.
‘At some point, the question has to be asked, ‘Should this be happening in a free and open society where monied interests essentially call the shots regarding the information that the public is allowed to see?’
Once more the question calls for a simple answer, although whether it’s a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ depends on whether you’re called Bush or not.’
‘WE all know, or must quickly understand, that, thanks to the sterling work of George Bush and Tony Blair, the world is a much better place to live than it ever was.
|‘If he doesn’t choke, the fat should kill him’|
But the Social Disadvantage Research Centre at Oxford University’s Department of Social Policy and Social Research has found that not every place is of equal happiness.
In some places, like Chorleywood West, the people are happy. They are, in fact, the happiest people in the entire land.
The Times reports that the locals enjoy rude health and high levels of employment, they have been widely educated to degree level and they are likely to own their own homes.
Not for nothing is Chorleywood West the blueprint for the new Iraq.
Sadly, at the moment, Iraq looks more like Harpurhey. The university study describes health in the Manchester locale as ‘appalling’.
What’s more, there are high rates of teenage suicide, heart and lung disease is rife and drug abuse and crime are popular forms of recreation.
As one resident, known as Craig, says: ‘Harpurhey is a dump.’
It is also home to Bernard Manning’s ‘WORLD FAMOUS EMBASSY CLUB’, a venue adorned by a mural of the great man wearing a tuxedo and a syrupy grin.
It’s a bit like Iraq of old, with Manning in the guise of Saddam Hussein.
However, as yet, the place has not been fortunate enough to have been levelled by the Americans and see its leader toppled. But the local residents live in hope…’
‘IT will doubtless interest you to learn that the official wild flower of London is the rosebay willowherb, the flower of the bombsite.
|‘Orville, who is your very best friend?’ ‘YOU ARE!’|
Look, there’s one there, just under the enormous dry dog turd and to the left of that hypodermic needle and jellified condom.
Now you see it.
And do you hear that? Yes, it’s the sound of true lovers meeting in Mayfair, ready to dine with angels in the Ritz and later to gaze up at the moon lingering in the skies above.
Of course, you didn’t hear a thing, because Berkeley Square is being ruined by the din of nightingales marking out their territories.
The Times says that the constant hum of traffic and mayor Ken Livingstone’s drone is causing nightingales in London and other cities to sing up.
And they are now singing so loudly that they are breaking legal noise levels and could be classified as a sound hazard.
You can even hear them in Berlin. There, scientists have recorded birds warbling next to the Potsdamer Chausee dual-carriageway at an ear-splitting 93 decibels.
‘A nightingale next to your ear would cause severe damage to your ear for a prolonged length of time,’ says Henrick Brumm, a behavioural biologist at Berlin’s Free University.
‘In Germany, you are obliged to wear ear protectors with more than 85 decibels for more than one hour, so working next to a nightingale means you would have to have protection.’
This is a warning to us all, including the British Army, which might be contemplating equipping its forces with nightingales to win over the locals in Iraq.
They should also avoid canaries, which are rumoured to be unreliable, stool pigeons, hawks, Rod Hull’s emu and American bald eagles, all of which might cause offence.
Orville, however, would do just fine…’
‘WHETHER or not members of the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment did torture Iraqi captives in their charge is fast losing its importance.
|‘Okay, name Manchester United’s European Cup winning team of 1999’|
The damage caused by those controversial photos and the irrefutable evidence of American abuse has been done.
What the coalition forces would like us believe to be isolated incidents perpetrated by a few bad apples is today placed in a context of sustained and prolonged abuse.
The Times leads with ‘America’s catalogue of ‘torture”, a story based on its reading of an internal American military paper, one marked ‘Secret, No Foreign Dissemination’.
The report details at least 20 ways in which American guards at the Abu Ghraib prison softened up and, in the words of the leaked document, ‘committed egregious acts and grave breaches of international law’.
The list involves such delights as breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees; beating them with a broom handle, an implement that may also have been used to sodomize one captive; keeping Iraqi captives naked for several days; piling up naked detainees and then jumping on them; forcing detainees to masturbate themselves while being photographed and videoed; and threatening them with guns and barking dogs.
Those who recall the campaign in Afghanistan may now hanker for the return of Barney The Dinosaur, that lovable purple instrument of American interrogation.
It’s the kind of news that can only harm any efforts to win the much-valued hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.
However, the better news is that some Iraqis do still value our justice system.
Indeed, they hold it in such high regard that the Guardian leads with news of how families of 14 Iraqis killed in the war have decided to see first-hand how well it works by taking their case to the High Court.
The families and their lawyers are challenging the Ministry of Defence’s refusal to consider any legal responsibility for their relatives’ deaths.
And that includes the death of one Baha Mousa, a Basra hotel receptionist who is alleged to have been killed by soldiers from – of all places – the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment.
Culpable or not, the mud, blood and gore is sticking and will prove very hard to remove…’
‘LIKE many, we noted something suspicious when we first saw the shots of British soldiers apparently abusing Iraqi detainees.
|Worth fighting for?|
Forget the lacing of the shoes, the make of rifle and clarity of image, we were shocked to see that one alleged victim was not wearing a Manchester United football kit but that of the Syrian national team.
What’s more, the squaddie in one shot is wearing a floppy hat of the type favoured by Chris Evans.
Where’s his beret? The beret that has been held up as the way to capture the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.
But now, in light of these images, the British Army surely needs new weapons of peace. And the Times has found one that might just work.
The results of the County Flowers scheme, a project by conservation charity Plantlife to find a wild flower for each UK county, are in.
There is little surprise in seeing that the official bloom of Lancashire, home to the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment, is the red rose.
While the Lancashire militia plant one of their emblematic blooms in the muzzle of their guns and encourage Iraqis to step up for a sniff, we look at some other more surprising results.
And chief among those is that the official wild flower of Yorkshire is not the white rose (that came in second), but the harebell.
The flower, described by the Telegraph as possessing a ‘papery beauty’ that ‘belies their extraordinary toughness and resilience’ will appear on local signs and car number plates.
The contest, voted for by the public, awarded the primrose to Devon, Jacob’s Ladder to Derbyshire, the evocative gorse to Belfast and the exotic viper’s burgloss to the equally exotic East Lothian.
But the challenge was not without controversy, says the Telegraph.
The vote was intended to coincide with the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, but so many counties clamoured for the bluebell that the vote was cancelled.
Second time round and the bluebell became automatic choice as the official wild flower of the United Kingdom, and the judges allowed Northamptonshire, Surrey and Worcestershire all to hold the cowslip as their own, lest there be an all-out war and much bloodshed.’
‘IF the Telegraph’s poll is right and Tony Blair is now no more or less popular with the electorate than Tory leader Michael Howard, New Labour could be in trouble.
|‘Well, that’s four votes in the bag’|
What the party and Tony need is a plan, a way of getting the nation excited once more about the Third Way and all that education.
Tony must have brought up this exact topic of conversation at one of his many children’s parties/focus groups, and the recipe for his return to political dominance soon became clear – give the youth the vote.
Just last month the Electoral Commission decided to oppose any move to lower the age at which people are allowed to put a cross on a piece of paper from 18 to 16 – but what do those old squares know about anything, eh kidz?
So, in spite of the advice given by a group set up by Parliament in 2002 to look into just such matters, the Independent says Labour politicians are throwing their weight behind plans to lower the voting age.
‘The commission does not have a veto,’ says one senior Labour source.
‘We will listen carefully to what is said and we will take account of its arguments. But we will make our own decision.’
It’s the kind of language any 16-year-old can understand, although the words are a little better put than ‘Get out of my life, you old witch. I’m not a child anymore!’
But let’s hear from the 16-year-old kids themselves, the yoof who Tony hopes will get the vote – and so vote for the man who gave them it. And so to the Indy’s ‘VERDICT ON THE STREET’.
‘Not all 16-year-olds are mature enough to vote – but the majority are,’ says Ruth MacKenzie.
‘If we had a say in who governed us we’d take more notice of the arguments,’ posits Idnan Hussain.
‘I don’t have any strong view on anything yet,’ says Vikki Doherty, who already sounds like the ideal Tony Blair fan. ‘I think politics is pretty boring.’
But what better way to spice politics up than with an injection of youth? And why not turn the whole thing into a ‘Countdown 2 Vote’.
As Jodi approaches her 16th birthday on General Election day, the Indy could release pictures of the teenager walking slowly towards the polling station.
When polling day arrives, and with it Jodi’s coming-of-age, she steps into the voting booth and reveals her views to the watching world.
And a tattoo of Tony Blair on each naked breast.’
‘DO you know what it costs to bring up a child these days? No, the answer is not ‘Who cares? I never asked to be born’.
|De rigeur for all middle-class parents|
And neither is the answer, ‘My health, my sanity, my looks’, however worldly-wise that response seems.
The correct answer is £164,000. So, well done to Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard professor no less, and her daughter, Amelia Warren Tyagi, for getting that right.
And what’s more, the pair have put their workings down in the form of a book.
The Telegraph takes a look at their project – The Two Income Trap, Why Middle Class Mothers And Father Are Going Broke – and notes what passes for fact.
The authors say that married American couples with children are twice as likely to file for bankruptcy than those without children, while 75% are more likely to be late paying their bills.
News that mouths cost money to feed is hardly going to blow anyone’s romper suit off.
That children cost money is no sensation, as any American who has ever looked into buying a Chinese baby could attest.
Indeed, the report seems to be one filled with stating the bleedin’ obvious.
For instance, hands up who didn’t know that 16-19 year olds and their demand for ‘cool’ clothes are expensive to run.
But Ray, of Ray and Tina Currey, held up by the Telegraph as the typical middle class couple, thinks he has the spotted the root cause of the cost.
‘The biggest expense is peer pressure,’ says he. ‘We don’t want our sons to grow up spoiled, but neither do we want them to be the ones who didn’t have anything.’
So mum had to have the new off-road Jeep and dad was forced into buying the gold clubs and gym membership lest they should not fit in and cause their children to die of embarrassment.’
‘GETTING the kids to like you, perhaps even to love you, is a challenge that not only parents and the Labour party want to take on.
|‘You can’t pull the wool over my eyes’|
The Times too aims at a younger readership today with its front-page story entitled ‘Bare Truth From World’s Oldest Shearling’.
The story is the inspirational tale of Shrek, the sheep that escaped from a New Zealand farm and roamed free for six years, during which time he grew an enormous matted fleece that was only taken off last week.
In his story, told in his own words, Shrek says how the reason he left the farm in the first place was because his sheep pals used to stand around staring blankly, like those stupid human beings.
And those are the human beings Shrek finds so comical, what with them being unable to grow their own coats.
Shrek then regales us with the time he went to an official dinner. He avoided the ‘mutton dressed as lamb and went for a vegetarian option: grass served on a bed of grass.’
And how when he met with Helen Clark, the New Zealand Prime Minister, he found her chaaaarming. ‘She went baaa and seemed genuinely surprised when I replied in English.’
Having displayed a rare gift for diplomacy, Shrek is now on his way to the Middle East.
There, Shrek will attend another dinner, although he won’t be able to tell you what he’s seen since he and the other guests will have just eaten his eyes.
But don’t cry kids, it’s only a story…’
‘PRESIDENT Bush emerged yesterday from his three-hour grilling by commissioners investigating the 9/11 attacks and announced that he had enjoyed the experience.
They had a lot of good questions, he said afterwards. And Im glad I did it.
The Telegraph says Bushs announcement (at an impromptu press conference) that he was delighted that he testified was at odds with the White Houses long rearguard campaign against the bipartisan commission.
In the end they did secure certain concessions the interview was conducted in the Oval Office, the President was not under oath, Dick Cheney appeared at his side (with one arm mysteriously stuffed up the back of the Presidents shirt) and there was no transcript.
To make it easier for Bush, the questions were all in a multiple choice format and, despite the absence of a transcript, Anorak managed to get a prior look at some of the questions…
Q1: Mr President, what is the correct way in which to eat pretzels? Do you… A) Chew, B) Suck or C) Collapse to the ground unconscious?
Q2: Mr President, in a democracy, is the winner of an election generally the person with the most… A) Votes, B) Hair, C) Money?
Q3: Mr President, if your country is fighting a war in Vietnam, where can you make most difference? A) Vietnam, B) Alabama, C) In a bar?
Q4: Mr President, if the USA is attacked by terrorists, most of whom are from Saudi Arabia, which country do you bomb? A) Afghanistan, B) Canada, C) Iraq?
Q5: Mr President, which of the following statements did you say: A) ‘Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream’, B) ‘I think if you know what you believe, it makes it a lot easier to answer questions. I can’t answer your question’, C) ‘I will have a foreign-handed foreign policy’?
Q6: Mr President, if the big hand is pointing to the 12 and the little hand is pointing to the 7, what time is it? A) 7 oclock, B) Bedtime, C) Time for another holiday?’
‘PRESIDENT Carter once said that the hardest thing to persuade the American people was that they were not better than everyone else.
|Iraqis are made to audition for Scream III|
He didnt have the photograph on the front page of this mornings Guardian to help.
The picture, which shows an Iraqi prisoner hooded and attached to wires in Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, is one of several showing widespread abuse by American soldiers in Iraq.
Another picture shows a prisoner being attacked by a dog, another shows inmates being forced to simulate sex with each other and yet another shows nude inmates being piled up to form a human pyramid.
Who, one wonders, are the evil folks here?
The photographs came to light in January when a soldier reported the abuse to senior officers.
There are some things going on here that I cant live with, he apparently said.
Six soldiers are now facing a possible court martial and a general is under investigation.
But the paper says the soldiers lawyers claim they are being used as scapegoats for a system in which mercenaries hired by the Pentagon give orders without legal accountability.
One civilian contractor, for instance, has been accused of raping a young male prisoner, but hasnt been charged because military law has no jurisdiction over him.
The Abu Ghraib jail was notorious for torture and executions under Saddam Hussein.
It appears the Americans are being more successful than we thought about getting life back to normal in Iraq.’
‘IN the European playground, its the size of your gang that counts and the good news is that Britains gang will soon be the biggest of the lot.
|Tuscany or bust|
Tony Blair tells the Times that the 10 countries who are about to join the EU, most of whom are East Europeans, will automatically join his gang.
France and Germany will hang around with the likes of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, while there will be another gang led by Italy and including Ireland and the Scandinavians.
Of course, this is assuming Britain is still part of the EU French president Jacques Chirac warned that we may have to leave if we fail to back the new constitution in a referendum.
But the most alarming fact about Mr Blairs vision of a tripartite Europe is that, as things stand at present, we seem to be on our own.
For all the guff over so many years about being at the heart of Europe, using our influence to forge a union of nation states and wresting control from the Franco-German axis, it would seem we are as isolated as ever.
And the results of a poll on the front page of the Telegraph show why most of us know little and care even less about the EU.
Only 36% of the country believes membership is a good thing, while more than half plan to vote against the new constitution in any referendum.
Which, as George Bush knows, is enough for Tonys Yes campaign to win the day…’
‘HOW, without using the mother of all airbrushes, do you turn Michelle McManus into Kirsty Gallagher?
|Two weeks in the life of Slimz-U-Like|
In days gone by, such an operation would have required the following: a tenon saw, two buckets, some Ronseal woodstain and the instruction manual from a VW Polo.
No longer – with Anorak’s new range of Slimz-U-Like creams, available under the counter at all disreputable pharmacies, we can promise that no-one need ever look like Michelle again.
If you don’t believe us, consult the Independent for a second opinion.
It reports on a French test ‘involving the thighs of 200 women’ which has found that our boasts are true: ‘miracle’ slimming creams really do reduce cellulite.
The study by the French consumers’ association – which should be called Quel?, but isn’t – found that the best creams reduced the circumference of women’s thighs by up to 2cm in two weeks.
All very impressive, but even at that rate it could take months or even years before a Michelle became a Kirsty.
With Anorak’s Slimz-U-Like cream, you can shave 2cm off your thigh A DAY – 14 times quicker than with, say, L’Oreal’s PerfectSlim or Elancyl’s Chrono-Actif.
To prove it, we conducted our own test involving the thighs of some lardy girl called Janet whose job in Anorak Towers no-one has ever quite discovered.
We rubbed Slimz-U-Like into one of Janet’s thighs every day for a week and a placebo cream into her other thigh.
The difference was staggering – and so was Janet as she tried to get around with one leg the size of a Giant Redwood and the other a young sapling.
But back to France, where women spend £50 every year on slimming creams, and the Indy reports that the manufacturers are not happy with the results.
Marie-Jeanne Husset, of 60 Million de Consummatuers, said it strengthened the case for regulation.
‘The last thing they want,’ she said, ‘is for slimming creams to be listed as medicines.’
Believe us – it’s better you don’t know what goes to make these creams…’
”EGO tenuis sum, gratia Slimz-U-Like.’ Words that you will hear with increasing frequency when you visit Rome.
|‘No, you can’t be a consul’|
The Times reports that from next months the Italian authorities are to offer free Latin lessons for foreigners wanting to understand the inscriptions on all the old buildings.
The crash courses, which include an introduction to ancient Roman culture, are aimed particularly at the Americans, British and French.
Knowing the facility that certainly the first two groups mentioned have for languages, it is surely now only a matter of time before the forum is once again alive to the sounds of Cicero.
The Times attributes this sudden interest in Latin to the success of Mel Gibson’s flagellation flick, The Passion Of The Christ.
‘Even those of us who learnt some Latin at school have forgotten much of it,’ says Daniele Ciccaglioni, who runs one of the 15 bookshops in Rome that are taking part in the scheme.
Altogether now! Amo, amas, amat…’
‘IT is an accolade that is not given lightly, but Tim Gray, up until recently the head chef at Bonapartes in the Yorkshire town of Silsden, is this morning rejoicing in the knowledge that he is ‘the biggest twat in Britain’.
|The Duke Of Beef Wellington|
What, you ask, has Steve Penk left the country? Has Chris Moyles been set adrift in the North Sea, where he is now a major hazard to shipping?
Sadly not – according to the Guardian, Tim’s claim to the title, bestowed upon him by a friend, was to be publicly humiliated by Gordon Ramsay on TV on Tuesday night.
More than four million people tuned into the programme, in which Ramsay is supposed to provide provincial cooks with tips for success.
What they saw was an expletive-filled hour of television, in which 21-year-old Tim was denounced as an ‘idiot’ who could not even cook an egg.
His speciality dish of black pudding, scallops and hollandaise sauce was described as ‘minging’ by Ramsay, who said it made him feel physically sick.
Not a great advert for Tim’s talents or indeed for Bonapartes restaurant – the former has been sacked and the latter is now deserted.
But some people in Silsden sense a stitch-up.
Sarah, a waitress at Bonapartes, accused Channel 4 of manipulating the facts.
‘They portrayed Silsden as an unsophisticated northern town in the name of reality television,’ she said.
‘We are as sophisticated as people in London. This is an affluent, growing place and I think we all feel insulted.’
Everyone including Bob The Dog, the town mascot, whose antics we can now all follow thanks to the wonders of webcams…’
‘FOR years, supermarket shoppers have mistakenly believed that it was bad engineering that was responsible for wonky shopping trolleys.
|Studying sports management at Tesco University|
Today, we can reveal that they were in fact a prototype for the ‘trim trolley’, a new invention by Tesco to help its customers lose weight even as they snatch another family pack of cream cakes off the shelves.
According to the Independent, the trolley measures pulse rate, tells customers how many calories they are burning as they shop and even offers them a work-out around the aisles.
It is equipped with an electronic monitor to check heartbeat and calorie expenditure, while an ‘adjustable resistance wheel’ (which used to be known simply as a broken, or dodgy, wheel) makes the trolley harder to push.
Its manufacturers claims that a normal 40-minute shop will burn off 160 calories, but with the trim trolley set to maximum resistance that could rise to 280.
Derek Thowney explains: ‘Obesity is a massive issue in this country and this trolley could help address some of the problems around diet and exercise.
‘It will raise people’s awareness of weight and fitness.’
And keep Tesco customers alive longer than, say, Asda customers or Sainsbury’s customers – so giving the supermarket giant a chance to take yet more of their money.
Of course, this is just a gimmick by Tesco. If it were serious about encouraging its customers to lose weight, there are plenty of more effective measures it could adopt.
It could, for instance, make the confectionary and biscuit aisle really narrow so only the thinnest customers could fit through it.
It could put a barcode scanner on each trolley which could read how many calories there are in each item you buy and display the total in flashing lights above your head.
Or it could even stock fewer high calorie products…’
‘IT is estimated that Tesco already receives £1 out of every £8 spent on the British high street and on current trends we will all be doing all our shopping there within five years.
|But we can’t rebuild him…|
Thanks to the trim trolley, however, we will all be fit, healthy specimens, gambolling like spring lambs (£4.99/kg) down the aisles of Jack Cohen’s Brave New World.
That is until the trim trolley develops a malfunction, at which point we will all look around in vain for an engineer to fix the damn thing.
‘Didn’t you study engineering at college?’ ‘No, I did media studies like you, stupid.’
‘What about you?’ ‘Don’t be ridiculous, I did design. I can come up with 1,000 ways to make the trolley look cool, I just can’t make it work.’
‘Anyone know an engineer?’
The Times reports that fewer and fewer students are signing up to study science at university these days, leading the University Of Wales in Swansea to announce that it is closing its renowned chemistry department altogether.
Needless to say, the decision has provoked a furious reaction in what remains of the scientific community, with three Nobel laureates among those deriding the measure as short-sighted.
The university says it is simply reacting to lack of student demand.
There are, according to the Times, 40 chemistry departments left in Britain, but by the end of the decade the Royal Society warns there could be as few as six.
Only 51 out of 100 universities offer physics as a first-degree course – which a mathematician, if there were any left in the country, could tell you equates to 51%.
Where 40 years ago, pure science was second to arts as the most popular course to study at university, these days it is design studies ahead of computer science, management studies, law and psychology.
As for media studies, research shows that a person who takes a media studies degree will actually earn less than an equivalent person who left school at 18 – an average of £9.95 per hour over a lifetime.
By contrast, a person who takes a chemistry degree will earn £11.95 an hour over a lifetime – 21% more than an equivalent school leaver.
Or they could just get a job on the check-out at Tesco like everyone else…’
‘THE good news is that within a decade it should not matter what a student reads at university – his or her brain will be too fried to absorb any of it.
|‘And this was all that was left of your son, Mrs Sorene’|
According to the Telegraph, a quarter of seven- to 10-year-olds now own a mobile phone – almost double the number who had one in 2001.
However, campaigners are worried that this growing trend is putting children’s health at risk.
Alasdair Philips, of consumer group Powerwatch, said that it was immoral for phone companies to try to encourage kids to use their mobiles.
‘Children should not use mobile phones,’ he tells the paper, ‘because their brain cells are still developing and are more likely to suffer serious long-term consequences.’
Anyway, if they want to fry their brains, what’s wrong with drugs? Available soon at a Tesco near you…’
‘THERE is a nice symmetry to the letter published in all today’s papers lambasting Tony Blair’s Middle East policy and signed by 52 eminent former British diplomats.
|The Two Jokers|
After all, 52 is the number of playing cards in a deck – and playing cards was exactly the motif used – in its hubris – by the Anglo-US coalition to enumerate the most wanted members of Saddam Hussein’s ousted regime.
In those days, it was naively assumed, that the capture of the 55 ‘cards’ (there were two jokers and, presumably, a bridge scoring card) would complete the de-Baathification of Iraq and the blossoming of a new democracy in the region.
But a year on, with Iraq in turmoil and the White House unilaterally deciding to endorse Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon’s decision to mark in a few detours and shortcuts on the ‘road map’ to peace in what used to be known as the Near East, that post-war optimism seems laughable.
And it is the worsening of the situation in the region that has prompted the 52 former ambassadors, high commissioners and governors to write.
‘We feel the time has come to make our anxieties public,’ says the letter (which is reprinted in full on the front page of the Independent), ‘in the hope that they will be addressed in Parliament and lead to a fundamental reassessment.’
The letter condemns the announcement by President Bush and Ariel Sharon that Israel was to lay claim to part of Palestinian territory as ‘one-sided’ and ‘illegal’ and said it would cost more blood, both Israeli and Palestinian.
It says that, rightly or wrongly, the occupation of Iraq is seen throughout the Arab and Muslim world as ‘illegal’ and ‘brutal’.
And it lays into Mr Blair for not using the influence of a loyal ally in Washington to bring about a change of course.
‘If that is unacceptable or unwelcome there,’ it concludes, ‘there is no case for supporting policies which are doomed to failure.’
This ‘unprecedented onslaught’ (Telegraph) cannot be shrugged off by the Government – among the signatories are three former ambassadors to Iraq, many senior former Foreign Office Arabists and even a former ambassador to the United Nations.
Oliver Miles, a former ambassador to Tripoli, explained his reasons for drafting the letter.
‘Our objective is not to damage Blair politically,’ he told the Times, ‘but to strengthen the hand of those who feel as we do. Our voice will be heard.’
And heard it is loud and clear this morning as the Guardian carries news of yet more turmoil in Iraq.
It says that vital reconstruction work has almost completely ground to a halt because of the worsening security situation, with the power network a particular concern.
‘We are at risk of moving into the summer period with the repairs not complete,’ says a senior official, ‘which means we are going to have massive demand and not very good provision.
‘So from that point of view, it is a disaster.’
One could be forgiven for thinking that it is a disaster from any point of view.’
‘IT’S not easy sitting in the same place all day and smiling at everyone who walks past, as anyone who has worked on a supermarket check-out will know.
|‘If I have to smile for one more bloody photo…’|
So, we should not be surprised that, after 500 years of grinning enigmatically, the Mona Lisa’s smile is getting a bit thin.
After all, Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece has to smile at five million visitors a year.
According to the Times, the Louvre Museum is so worried by the painting’s deterioration that it has ordered a detailed study into its condition.
The painting, which is now housed in an air-conditioned glass cage and in its own room, will remain on display while the tests are carried out.
The Times says the last repair was in the mid-1950s, when she had age spots removed, but curators are so far resisting calls to give her a facelift.
It would, they say, be too risky.
However, perhaps it isn’t just age that has affected the Mona Lisa’s smile – perhaps, it’s just that she’s got less to smile about.
Perhaps, as an Italian in Paris, she’s homesick. Perhaps, like so many of us, she’s dismayed with what passes for American policy in the Middle East.
Or perhaps she’s just found out that David Beckham was also sending text messages to the Venus de Milo down the corridor…’
‘DAVID Beckham at least has an alibi for 67 minutes of the time he spent away from his wife in a Madrid hotel room – he was asleep. And he’s got the video to prove it.
|What David dreamt|
The Telegraph reports that the National Portrait Gallery will today unveil a video portrait of the England football captain by Sam Taylor-Wood. It is called simply David.
‘His nut-brown torso naked and wearing diamond earrings, a necklace and a bracelet,’ the paper says, ‘[he] slumbers like Sleeping Beauty.
‘He gently tosses and turns and occasionally licks his lips.’
A separate 67-minute video showing Beckham’s lip-smacking dreams during that time is in Anorak’s possession. It is called simply Becks, Loos & Videotape.
According to the paper, Taylor-Wood only clinched the deal after months of negotiation by telling Beckham the video would be exhibited in a gallery alongside portraits of Elizabeth I and Shakespeare, both of whom were key members of the great Huddersfield Town team of the 1920s…’
‘JEAN Marie Le Pen, the leader of the French Far Right is, as the Home Secretary acknowledged, quite entitled to travel to Britain.
|When in France…|
Similarly, we in Britain are quite entitled to let him know exactly what we think of him, his odious policies and his equally odious friends.
And that was eloquently summed up yesterday by the bin bags thrown at his car and the chants of Fascist scum that greeted his arrival at a press conference with BNP leader Nick Griffin.
But perhaps M Le Pen would have been better off staying in France, where his help in repelling foreign invaders is more needed…and would be more welcome.
The Telegraph reports from Vittel in eastern France where for the past 32 years the Brotherhood of Frog Thigh Tasters has gathered to discuss and, of course, eat all things froggy.
And the disturbing news is that French frog-eating is in a parlous state, with what the paper calls the dying croaks of a once great tradition audible at the weekend.
Its not for want of frog-eaters the local rugby club, tennis club, choral society and Johnny Halliday Appreciation Society were apparently all packed for the occasion.
Its for want of frogs or, more specifically, French frogs.
The terrible truth is sacre bleu! – that none of the seven tons of cuisses de grenouille were French; they arrived vacuum-packed from Indonesia.
And worse the art of cooking the frogs legs appears to have died with the frogs, with many cooks preparing boil-in-the-bag cuisses and parsley sauce.
The inappropriately named Roland Boeuf, secretary of the Thigh Tasters, said a combination of agricultural chemicals and laws restricting the frog hunting season to just 15 days were responsible for this decline.
The frog fair used to go on for four days with all sorts of competitions, like a hopping race, M Boeuf explained.
But now with the 35-hour week and tougher drink-driving laws, people cannot afford to come and they have to be much more careful going home.
The festival, which now only lasts for two days, was the brainchild of Rene The Frog Clement, who moved to Vittel in 1952 and liked to say: The frog is like a woman only the thighs are good.
He had clearly never seen pictures of Michelle McManus in her bathing costume.’
‘FRANCE without frogs is like Britain without beef, and France without frog ranchers is like Britain without butchers.
|Butcher’s charm offensive fails to win customers|
Unthinkable…or is it? The Times reports that the British butcher is becoming as endangered a species as a frog in France or a Spaniard in Tenerife.
Latest figures from the Meat And Livestock Commission suggest that there are fewer than 8,000 independent butchers left in Britain down from 25,000 25 years ago.
In 1977, well over half the population bought their meat from the local butcher compared with just one in ten last year.
And Government plans to promote local food and market regional specialities are being put at risk by the shortage of qualified butchers.
London butcher John Richardson blames the emphasis on young people going to university for the problem.
The same is going on with plumbers and carpenters, he said. Young people dont like the image of a butcher they think its cold, dirty, hard work, but there are lots of opportunities.
All you need is a BA in Butchery, a blue and white striped apron and your own machete and youre good to go…’
‘BUTCHERS are by no means the only species in Britain facing extinction.
|‘Just because you bought me dinner, it doesn’t mean you can watch’|
The Independent reports that several other animals are under threat for instance, the red squirrel, the wildcat and no doubt much to Ron Daviss chagrin the badger.
And, according to a countryside audit (entitled The State Of Britains Mammals 2004), the introduction of GM crops could threaten other species by reducing the number of insects around such crops with potentially serious consequences for hedgehogs, mice and bats.
The Guardian warns that the extinction of the red squirrel, one of the most fondly regarded of Britains small mammals, was certain unless drastic measures were taken.
A report by the Mammals Trust UK says large-scale control of the American grey squirrel and vaccination against disease is the only way to save the red squirrel.
And the UK red Squirrel Group says it is planning a shooting and poisoning blitz on greys near 20 designated red squirrel areas.
But you too can do your bit to help – send a frog to France, hug a butcher, throttle a grey squirrel or join the brave men and, er, other men who get up in the middle of the night to perform a census of the local badger population…’