Key Posts Category
It’s Seder Night, when Jews recall Passover and the plagues sent down on the house of Egypt to help along their emancipation from slavery. As dad reads out the story, the cool kids can play along by wearing one of 10 masks, each one representing a plague. “Bagsy, Death to the ‘First Born’,” says Junior, the rascal. Others can enjoy ‘Blood’, ‘Boils’, ‘Lice’ and ‘Darkness’.
The whole set is yours for a mere $14.99 at Bed Bath and Beyond.
But be warned: these mask are only suitable for over 3s lest there be a new plague of ‘Choking’.
Another summer brings with it another Madeleine McCann front-page news story. The innocent child who became the media’s benchmark for all missing children is evoked on the Daily Star and Daily Mirror’s front pages. There is talk of child kidnappers in Protaras, Cyprus.
The Star announces:
NEW MADDIE SNATCH HORROR AT BRIT HOLS RESORT
The Mirror goes with:
MY GIRL WAS SNATCHED ON HOLS LIKE MADDIE
Only, she wasn’t snatched. No, not Madeleine. This other child. In fact, no other child has been kidnapped.
The Star’s Jerry Lawton says “hero dad” James Down performed a “citizen’s arrest” on “one of the suspects who had been videoing children on his mobile phone”. Holidaymakers say are “up to 10 child traffickers posing as hotel waiters”.
The Leicester Mercury sees an exodus:
A British father on holiday in Cyprus has spoken about fearing a Madeleine McCann style snatch after his two-year-old daughter was taken by a gang of would-be kidnappers. The incident happened at the Anastasia Beach Complex in Protaras on Tuesday, resulting in tour operator Thomas Cook moving more than one hundred holidaymakers.
The Times has more from the aforesaid heroic Mr Down:
James Down, 30, said that he apprehended the man and claimed that he had found footage of children on his phone. “He’d been on the beach talking to some children and then he was by the pool. I then saw him kneeling behind a wall talking to some little kids,” Mr Down, a wind turbine engineer, said. “I got him by the scruff of the neck and took him to the hotel reception.”
Mr Down, a former soldier from Newcastle, said he took the man’s phone and found images and videos of children taken in the area. He said that he and his friends had later seen a woman who they thought was linked to the man, chased her and grabbed her. “I saw a pick-up truck which had its engine running and a saloon car. Some of our group tried to run after the vehicles, but they drove off. I think they were traffickers,” he said.
Think they were traffickers? Can anyone ask the man Mr Down’s arrested and frog-marched into the hotel if he is interested in selling children?
The Daily Record’s James Moncur writes:
THREE youngsters were being lured into cars at the Anastasia Beach Complex, near Protaras, when the child-snatcher were caught [sic].
Got him! Brilliant. No make him talk.
A holidaymaker at the Cyprus resort with a wedding party from Dundee said: “We had seen these people around the hotel all week. They’d been in the pool and interacting with some of the children. Some of them were wearing staff outfits so they could blend in more easily. It was really scary.”
Scots dad Greg Letford, 28, told how the gang – who staff claimed were Romanians – targeted kids on Tuesday night.
He said: “This Romanian couple were leading the two young children towards a waiting car, another person had a third child up against a wall ready to go, too. Someone spotted what they were up to and stopped them. If he hadn’t been there those kids would have gone. One of the men got away and we heard the getaway car crashed a short distance away too. When the police turned up, they took the man and woman into an office in the hotel and a crowd built up in the foyer – there must have been about 60 or 70 really angry people. It was chaos. The police got them into a van through a window for their protection. One of the hotel staff later told us they were Romanian and that one of them used to work at the hotel.”
And the arrested man and the Romanian “holiday hell gang”? Well, the ‘arrested’ man is from Bulgaria. As the Times notes:
Police said they had arrested the Bulgarian man, 19, accused of filming children, but there had been no reports of an abduction and searches of his mobile phone, home and person led nowhere. Other reports suggested the man had been assaulted by a group at the hotel. Nikoletta Tyrimou, a police spokeswoman, said that police made one, not two, arrests and that there was no get-away car or people in disguise stalking children. She said: “Upon arriving at the scene, police officers arrested a 19-year-old man from Bulgaria whom holidaymakers said had been filming their children and was trying to abduct them.
“We questioned the suspect, went through his phone and also searched his home. Nothing we found suggests that he is part of a child-abducting gang or that he was stalking children. The man has since been released.”
It did? They did? Mr Daniel Mann tells the Mirror that kidnappers tried to steal his daughter Lillie last year.
It also emerged that a two-year-old girl from Durham had disappeared for 40 minutes at the same resort last year. She was finally spotted being carried away from the hotel by a woman who claimed to have found the toddler wandering alone.
Says Mr Mann:
“It was awful. My daughter was about 10 yards from me at the pool and in the time it took me to turn around and say, ‘It is time to go I will go and get the bairn,’ she had gone.We were frantically searching for about 40 minutes. I could feel my stomach churning the longer it went on. There were people joining to help all the time. One or two mentioned Madeleine McCann, you can imagine how that made me feel. We found her in the arms of an Eastern European woman who was walking towards a car park. My partner saw her, she thought she was carrying a bag of potatoes, then she realised it was our child. She ran after her, screaming.”
Thomas Cook have made this statement:
The safety and welfare of our customers is always our first priority and upon hearing about the alleged incident, we immediately deployed our experienced resort team to the property to provide those customers in residence with individual support. On request, we assisted 16 customer bookings who wished to move to an alternative hotel and two families who travelled back to the UK early. Although there are conflicting reports as to what exactly occurred at the property, we would like to reassure all customers that we take all allegations incredibly seriously and we are continuing to work closely with our customers in resort and the local authorities.
So. Not 100 holidaymakers, then. And Mr Mann’s partner, Lillie’s mother Kay Baldasara, adds that the woman ‘abducting’ her daughter is on the loose:
“By the time I checked over Lillie, she had gone.”
The pair reported the kidnap attempt to Durham Police when they returned home after the holiday last August. The case was referred to Operation Grange, the unit leading the search for Madeleine. It was also shared with detectives in Cyprus. There have been no arrests.
Daniel told how the latest kidnap bids at the hotel brought their own horror flooding back.
We’ll end this round-up with the Cyprus Mail’s take on events. Constantinos Psillides writes:
The British media reporting on the alleged attempted kidnapping of three youngsters at a Protaras hotel, “has been completely blown out of proportion and it’s all wrong,” an eyewitness has said.
The tourist, who wanted to remain anonymous, told the Cyprus Mail that while he wasn’t part of the wedding party that was taking place at the Anastasia hotel at the time, he witnessed what happened firsthand.
“At some point we heard a large commotion and screams. Somebody attacked a young man yelling “paedophile, paedophile” and then suddenly a group of around 50 people were chasing him.
The 19-year-old Bulgarian was attacked?
We joined them and chased two people to the front desk, a man and a woman.
Police came and took the young man in custody – a 19-year-old Bulgarian — but let the woman go because it turned out that she had nothing to do with the incident and that she just happened to be there. That’s what really happened, nothing more,” said the holidaymaker, adding that he was appalled after reading news reports on the story.
“They said that child snatchers were posing as hotel staff. That’s completely ridiculous, I have no idea where they got that from,” the holidaymaker said.
“I also noticed that some have been connecting this incident to the Madeleine case. That is both wrong and disrespectful,” stressed the holidaymaker, referring to the famous case of then three-year old Madeleine McCann who disappeared from her room while holidaying with her family in a holiday resort in Portugal in 2007.
Meanwhile, a source close to the investigation told the Cyprus Mail that the parents of the 19-year old Bulgarian that was arrested are employed by the company that owns Anastasia Beach hotel, Tsokkos Hotels.
He was with his mum and dad. Their son has been abused?
The 19-year old apparently spent a lot of time in the hotel, frequenting the pool area. The source said that on the 19-year-old’s phone, police found four pictures, none of which depicted children.
“They were pictures of a hotel show. We went through the suspect’s phone, we searched his house thoroughly and found absolutely nothing to suggest that he was a paedophile, a kidnapper or that he was part of a gang.”
But he might have been, right?
Trigger Warning: free speech is being attacked and downgraded in Anglo-American culture, says Mick Hume
Anorak asked journalist Mick Hume about his new book, which looks at the highly topical issue of free speech…
Your new book is entitled ‘Trigger Warning’. For those not familiar with the phrase, could you explain its origin and its relevance?
A ‘trigger warning’ is a statement stuck at the beginning of a piece of writing, video or whatever to alert you to the fact that it contains material you may find upsetting or offensive. For example, ‘TW: Islamophobic language’, or ‘TW: references to sexual violence’.
Trigger Warnings took off in US colleges (where student activists want classic works to carry them, suggesting for example that The Great Gatsby should have one along the lines of ‘TW: suicide, domestic abuse and graphic violence’). They have since spread across the Atlantic and the internet. If you are not familiar with ‘TWs’, they are coming soon to a website near you.
For me the mission creep of trigger warnings symbolises the stultifying atmosphere surrounding freedom of expression and debate today. They are like those ‘Here be dragons’ signs on uncharted areas of old maps, warning students and others not to take a risk, not to step off the edge of their comfort zone, not to expose themselves to ‘uncomfortable’ ideas, images or opinions.
What is the book about?
The sub-title of the book rather gives the game away: ‘Is the fear of being offensive killing free speech?’ To which its unsurprising answer is yes, unless we do something about it.
Trigger Warning is about all the various ways in which free speech is being attacked and downgraded in Anglo-American culture today. It describes ‘the silent war on free speech’. It’s a silent war because nobody in politics or public life admits that they are against freedom of expression; all of them will make ritualistic displays of support for it ‘in principle’, as they did after the Charlie Hebdo massacre. In practice, however, they are all seeking ways to restrict freedom of expression, whilst insisting that ‘this is not a free speech issue’, it is merely an attempt to protect the ‘vulnerable’ against offensive and hateful words.
To that end, the book examines the complementary trends towards official censorship, unofficial censorship and self-censorship in the West today, covering everything from online ‘trolls’ to football and comedy as well as more conventional political issues.
Of these three, the most insidious is the informal, unofficial censorship promoted by Twitter mobs and assorted boycott-and-ban-happy zealots. They are a relatively small minority, but they exercise disproportionate influence by preying on the loss of faith in free speech at the top of our societies.
I describe these people as ‘reverse-Voltaires’, who have taken the famous principle linked to Voltaire – ‘I may hate what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it’ – and twisted it into its opposite – ‘I know I will detest what you say, and I will defend to the end of free speech my right to stop you saying it’. They do not want to debate arguments they disagree with, but merely to close them down as offensive. Trigger Warning takes on their most powerful excuses in a section entitled ‘Five good reasons for restricting free speech – and why they’re all wrong’.
What is the main message of the book?
The main message of the book – and I fear it is a ‘message’ book, or ‘polemic’ as we pretentious authors say – is twofold, I suppose. That we have forgotten how important the fight for free speech has been in the creation of something approximating a civilised society, and that we are in danger of giving it up without a struggle. It is not so much that we are losing the free speech wars: we are not even fighting them!
Few of the great advances in politics, science and culture over the past 500 years would have been possible without the expansion of free speech and the willingness of heroic heretics to question everything and break taboos. None of the liberation movements of the recent past could have succeeded without putting the right to free speech at the forefront of their campaigns (which makes it all the more bitterly ironic to see restrictions on free speech being demanded today in the name of protecting the oppressed).
Free speech was never a right to be won once and then put on a shelf to be admired. It always has to be defended again, against new challenges and enemies. The big danger today is that so few are standing up for unfettered free speech against the reverse-Voltaires and their like. Where are the young Tom Paines, JS Mills, John Wilkes’ or George Orwells of our age? Instead we have characters like the US liberal professor who just wrote a (pseudonymous) article about how he is too ‘terrified’ of his ‘liberal’ students to raise a potentially offensive idea or even ask them to read Mark Twain. Time to take a stand before it’s too late.
You have been outspoken about the right to offend. But some people seem to believe they have a duty to offend, and we have seen public examples of this recently. How does your opinion differ from theirs?
I have been writing about the right to be offensive for some 25 years, since the crisis over Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses. It is the cutting edge of free speech. After all, what use is it is we are only ‘free’ to say what everybody else might like? If we defend free speech for those views branded extreme and offensive, the mainstream will look after itself. This is not about offensive language, but opinions – as JS Mill pointed out long ago, the more powerful your opponent’s arguments are, the more offensive you tend to find them!
The importance of that issue was brought into sharp focus by the reaction to the Charlie Hebdo massacre of course. As the book describes, behind the apparent displays of Je Suis Charlie solidarity, the powerful message was that those cartoonists had gone ‘too far’ in offending Islam. Those gunmen might have been inspired by Islamist preachers, but they can only have been encouraged by the loss of faith in free speech at the heart of Western culture.
None of this means, as you mention, that anybody has a duty to offend. The right to be offensive is not an obligation. One problem today is that the response to the conformist culture of You-Can’t-Say-That tends to be a few comedians and others trying to cause offence for the sake of it. That’s infantile and useless. As William Hazlitt wrote, ‘An honest man speaks the truth, though it may cause offence, a vain man, in order that it may”. A good distinction, so long as we remember that the vain man gets the freedom to speak his version of the truth, too.
Trigger Warning: Is the Fear of Being Offensive Killing Free Speech? is published by Collins.
Mick was answering questions put to him by Ed Barrett
Lord Greville Janner: a look at news on the Labour peer embroiled in allegations that he abused children. He maintains his innocence. It’s been 58 days since the Crown Prosecution Sevice decided not to prosecute Lord Janner on gounds of his failing health.
With no actual news to report, we make do with a tenuous link between Janner and Michael Jackson. In keeping with the story of Westminster peados, like most of the people implicated, Jackson is dead. And he never read the letter Janner wrote him.
The Leicester Mercury takes up the tale:
Greville Janner wrote to superstar Michael Jackson congratulating him on being cleared of child sex charges… The Labour peer and former Leicester West MP wrote the letter shortly after the singer was cleared by an American jury of molesting a 13-year-old.
A number of national newspapers reported at the weekend that Lord Janner wrote to Jackson, who died aged 50 in 2009, on personalised House of Lords paper in 2005.
He is said to have passed the letter to former child actor Mark Lester and asked him to give it to Jackson.
What he wrote was:
“I was so very pleased at the news of your acquittal. What a terrible time you have endured. You know how much I enjoyed and appreciated meeting you at the Universal Studios and in the UK – and especially on that wonderful day in Parliament and the journey to Exeter. So I send you my very best wishes – and hope you will return to London before long and that I should have the pleasure of seeing you once again before long.”
In June 2002 Janner gave Jackson, spoon-bender Uri Geller and US magician David Blaine a tour of the Houses of Parliament. Lester is chiefly famous for having played Oliver Twist in the 1968 film.
Says Mr Lester:
“Janner knew I was friends with Michael. He gave me the letter and asked me to give it to him. I stuffed it in my pocket and never got round to it. I stumbled across it while clearing my house. What he said was inappropriate.”
If there was ever word that sums up this decade it is ‘inappropriate’. Why is it inappropriate for Janner to have to written to the then world’s biggest star? I mean, did you see Jackson’s fans back then?
There were a few naysayers:
And it was huge news.
But Lester is agog not that Jackson was given a tour of Westminster, but that Janner wrote him a letter:
“Michael Jackson was hounded for much of his life over these allegations and was then found not guilty. No one should congratulate Michael on being cleared let alone a QC and peer. It’s as if he’s saying, ‘Well done, you got away with it’.”
No. It isn’t. Jackson was found not guilty. Janner said it must have been a burden. He never once said ‘Nice one, you got away with it.’
The story of Westminster peadophiles has taken on a life of its own. The alleged abuse is said to have occured over years. This longevity suggests a culture of denial and, to some, a conspiracy of depraved men working together to maintain a secret. But facts are now so thin we get stories of a Wacko Jacko fan letter being passed off as news. In place of evidence of child rape in the shadow of power, we get news of ‘inappropriate’ words. ‘Innocent until proven innocent’, says one of the pro-Jackson banners. To which we would add a new one: ‘Guilty when dead.’
Such are the facts.
Lord Greville Janner: a look at news on the Labour peer embroiled in allegations that he abused children. He maintains his innocence. It’s been 52 days since the Crown Prosecution Sevice decided not to prosecute Lord Janner on gounds of his failing health.
BBC: “Lord Janner claim investigated by police in Scotland”
Police in Scotland are understood to be investigating claims Labour peer Lord Janner abused a boy there in the 1970s. Det Ch Supt Lesley Boal said Police Scotland officers were investigating a historical complaint – but did not confirm a name.
As ever, facts are thinner than Theresa May’s smile.
BBC home affairs correspondent Tom Symonds said the allegation had first been made in 1991 by a Leicester man who told police that Greville Janner sexually abused him during the 1970s – including in Scotland.
We’re told that Leicestershire police investigated and found Janner had no case to answer. And now a mere 14 years later the allegations resueface. The accused man is now old. He and his victims are denied a court trial. And all we get is a stink.
Now Scottish police are investigating.
“Because Scotland has a separate and independent prosecutor, it would be able to make its own decision about whether to charge Lord Janner,” he added.
Is there new evidence to warrant a charge that wasn’t available to police in 1991? Did the Scottish police investigate Janner? Questions and more questions. And with no court date, there is no chance to having them answered with satisfaction.
So that’s two police forces investigating Janner, the Crown Prosecution Service reviewing the Director of Public Prosecutions’ decision that m’lord would to be unable to take part in his defence due to his poor health, and Justice Lowell Goddard looking at the Labour peer as part od her independent inquiry into child sex abuse.
Yeah, that’s all.
Lord Janner is 86. He says he’s innocent.
But the Mail picks up a scent.
Daily Mail: “With a school party on a Commons visit in 1976, two Labour grandees Greville Janner and George Thomas who ‘abused children'”
Smiling broadly, two Labour grandees welcome a party of young schoolboys to the Commons. Since this photograph was taken in 1976, Greville Janner and George Thomas have been exposed as alleged paedophiles.
Exposed. Alleged. Can you be exposed as an alleged anything? What happened to those barriers to guilt?
The pair, later ennobled as Lord Janner and Viscount Tonypandy, have been accused of preying on children and yesterday campaigners said there was growing evidence a Labour paedophile ring operated at Westminster.
Is the Mail serious in labelling Labour the Paedos Party? If it is, were Liberal Sir Cyril Smith and Sir Tory Peter Hayman wannabe Labour members?
Thomas, Commons Speaker before becoming a peer, is said to have propositioned young men in his official grace and favour apartment in Parliament. He died aged 88 in 1997, but is now the subject of investigations by British Transport Police over an incident on a train in 1959, and by South Wales Police into a claim he raped a nine-year-old boy.
How can that be proven?
The alleged rape victim came forward to say he was abused at home in the late 1960s and early 1970s by the MP, who had befriended his foster parents.
A third former Labour MP, the late Leo Abse, has also been named as an alleged abuser.
Abse is dead. Smith is dead. Hayman is dead. Thomas is dead.
Yesterday campaigning Labour MP Simon Danczuk, who exposed the Cyril Smith scandal, said: ‘If George Thomas abused a nine-year-old boy, then you can be certain it was not a one-off. He would have abused others. The links between these people are coming together like a jigsaw puzzle, and one does get the impression there was a Labour network of paedophiles.’
If. Certain. We’re digging up the bodies to beat them with sticks. It’s only when the depraved grandees die that their guilt becomes a certainty. The pieces from Danczuk’s jigsaw puzzle crumble like dead skin when touched.
The close bond between Janner and Thomas is clear from the black-and-white photograph unearthed by the Mail, which was taken on June 22, 1976. Janner had arranged for 70 pupils from his Leicester West constituency to visit the Commons. There is no suggestion any of the children in the photo were abused…
The claims about Thomas, a one-time headmaster and Methodist lay preacher, surfaced last year. His victim, now aged 56 and living in Australia, said: ‘I was raped by George Thomas in Cardiff. I was about nine. He spent a lot of time at my house.’
He alleged the abuse also happened at another address in the city. A second victim says he was sexually abused on a train from Paddington to Aberystwyth when he was 22 and Thomas was 50.
Thomas, an MP from 1945 to 1983, was a secretary of state for Wales in Harold Wilson’s government and presided over the 1969 investiture of the Prince of Wales. He also read the lesson at Prince Charles’s wedding to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981.
Wasn’t is Sir Jimmy Savile who took Diana’s secrets to his grave?
In 2001, Leo Abse MP spoke to the Sunday Times about helping with George Thomas MP’s young blackmailer:
“Over the years, given his exposed position, it was inevitable that he would fall victim to blackmail. On one occasion, after a distraught recounting to me of the pressure upon him, I insisted I would meet and deal with the young criminal in his constituency into whose hands he had fallen.
“My reputation in Cardiff’s criminal underworld stood me in good stead in dealing with the wretch. As a lawyer, I had often acted in the courts on behalf of the local prosecution department, and even more frequently, I had defended the city’s gangsters. As one-time chairman of the watch committee, I had the duty of supervising the local police.
“The blackmailing cur, therefore, had no doubt that, unless he desisted, I would carry out my threat to ensure he was put behind bars for 10 years; shortly after our encounter he found it was politic to quit the city.”
The Mail forgets to say that Thomas was chairman of National Children’s Home (NCH) in 1983.
Such are the facts.
The Sunday Times has a cracking story on FIFA troughing. The paper says back in October 2010 it showed FIFA a video of leading FIFA officials talking about bribery. Reporters gained access by posing as lobbyists.
The allegations are that the vote to host the 2010 World Cup was rigged in South Africa’s favour – and that Morocco was the actual winner.
* The vote by 24 the Fifa executive committee (Exco) was rigged. At the final count South Africa (14) defeated Morroco (10) and Egypt (0).
* Ismail Bhamjee, an Exco member from Botswana, says: “After talking with everybody . . . Whose votes went where? We’re all colleagues, you know. And then we found out that actually Morocco won by two votes.” He says Exco members conferred after the vote and realised Morocco had won. Although Bhamjee says some some Exco members could have lied about their votes.
* The ballots were counted behind closed doors. Were they deliberately miscounted?
* It’s alleged FIFA suppressed the Sunday Times’ tapes and failed to investigate claims of bribery.
* It’s alleged members took bribes from Morocco and South Africa.
* Ahongalu Fusimalohi, the former Fifa Exco member from Tonga, says Morocco had offered him a $150,000 bribe for his vote. He did not take any money. But did others?
* It’s alleged that members Jack Warner, the former Fifa vice-president, took over $1m in bungs from both sides. Bhamjee is cited as having said: “I know they gave Jack Warner personally a lot of money for the Concacaf [Warner’s north America confederation]. But please, this is confidential.”
Michel Bacchini, a former Fifa director of competitions told the undercover reporters: “But Jack, they [the Moroccans] were paying him and at the end when they were voting here in Zurich, you know, he was making a big scene, he was running out of the hotel complaining that somebody was cheating. He was the guy who cheated, he was making a big scenario out of it. I know a hundred hundred per cent that he was voting for the South Africans and pretended to vote for the Moroccans. I always said you never have to pay any money upfront.”
FIFA has responded thus:
“It cannot have escaped even The Sunday Times’s attention that these matters are being investigated by the proper authorities, ie, government agencies, not newspapers. And Fifa is fully co-operating with these investigations.
Such are the facts.
The former Liberal Democrat Party leader Charles Kennedy has died at his home in Fort William, Highland, Scotland aged 55. He brought a humanity not generally accepted or too well understood in 1983 when he entered the Westminster Parliament at 23-years-old and then the youngest MP. He continued to represent his home territory for 32 years and lost his seat to the Scottish National Party in May’s General Election.
He rose through the ranks to in 2001 lead his party to its strongest ever membership of the National Parliament.
In what many found to be a magnificent stand, Charles Kennedy fought against all-comers from other major parties over the proposed invasion and war in Iraq. There is little doubt he was right in every respect in his then dire predictions of what was to follow. When it finally struggles into print. the long-delayed Chilcot Inquiry may very well be his finest epitaph.
Kennedy’s humanity had its fragility and alcohol abuse destroyed his professional and home life.
What was totally unique about him was he could attend social gatherings in Highland Village halls and stately country homes alike and very soon be flat out and sleeping off excesses on the hall floor or in the temporary bar. The evening’s guests would step over him while the festivities went on and all would ensure someone saw he was safely delivered home at the end of the night.
His friends and neighbours accepted him for what he was and understood he suffered from the worst of all conditions – West Highland Disease – otherwise recognised as chronic alcoholism. Above all else he was loved and respected as a Highlander doing the best he could for his voters and country alike. The Nationalist fervour now endemic in Scotland swept him to one side. He was devastated by the loss of his constituency his mainstay support.
Just this once the cliche “We will never see his like again” may very well be true and we all are the poorer for the loss of his total honesty, essential decency and… yes, even those frailties which destroyed him.
Westminster paedos: a look at reporting on the story of historical sex abuse gone unpunished.
The Guardian tells us that since Sir Jimmy Savile was dug up, stripped of his knighthood and beaten with sticks, 1,400 people have been investigated for child sex abuse.
That sound a lot. It might even be too much to actuall fund. Talk of a paedophile amnesty would be on the cards were the issue not so toxic. And, then, if you investigate the suspect, do you also investigate those who turned away and failed the victims?
The Guardian sums up:
Officer leading Operation Hydrant inquiry says out of 1,433 alleged offenders 76 were politicians, 43 were from music industry and 135 were from TV, film or radio
RealDoll’s take one helluva pounding. And Slade’s job is to go in there and make the rough, broken and chaffed smoother than a rubber glove.
Slade works with Matt McMullen, creator of Abyss Creations, located in Southern California.
“The original concept I had was actually not a sex toy at all,” says McMullen… “It was intended to be a poseable mannequin, or simply a form of art.” He quickly noticed that a lot of people saw the dolls in an erotic way. The company makes about 300 RealDolls each year. A standard-issue model sells for $6,500, while a meticulously customized one can go for as much as $50,000.
Slade replaces the damaged vagina, which looks like this:
Fiero traces his interest in dolls to playing with G.I. Joes and Barbie in his youth.
“I was born in 1960 so Joe was the guy I got to hang out with for those formative years.”
“Slade has a very important place in the doll world,” says Elena Dorfman, a photographer who documented that world in her 2005 book Still Lovers. “People are sending him their beloved—or at least a sex partner that they paid a lot of money for. They’re trusting him to fix her. It’s like sending someone you love to the doctor and hoping they’ll come out all right.”
Slade has tips:
“If you care for it, if you treat it right, you can crank her knees up to her shoulders and bang away at that doll with good hard intercourse and come out shining. But clean her out… Clean her off. If you’ve got a hairy chest, you’re going to leave hairs all over her. If you’ve got a cat, she’s going to pick up cat hair. You want to take care of what you’ve got.”
The customers might be registered:
“I had one guy from Berkeley who had sex so hard with his doll that he ripped the leg off it. The doll was less than a year old, and destroyed. Her calves, from below the knee, had what looked almost like knife puncture wounds. Hundreds of them. I don’t know what this guy was doing to this doll.”
Has Slade ever been tempted to road test his repair:
“I’m not going to be fucking dolls and shipping them to other people. That’s fuckin’ rude. What kind of businessman would I be if I did that?”
The first miscreants to fall foul of the news laws on online pornography are two dominatrix. Their videos feature “heave whipping” and hard and repeated kicks to the genitals. Megara Furie and Mistress R’eal take a bow. The footage breaches the Authority for Television on Demand’s code.
Rule 14 of the Atvod handbook bans video-on-demand services from showing material that would be refused classification by the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification), previously the British Board of Film Censors. You can read more about their record of censoring things here, here, here, here, here. It’s mixed.
And you can recall the words of Mervyn Griffith-Jones QC.
“Would you approve of your young sons, young daughters – because girls can read as well as boys – reading this book? Is it a book that you would have lying around in your own house? Is it a book that you would even wish your wife or your servants to read?”
Pump it up! Cameron comes out fighting
Has there ever been a worse speech than David Cameron’s ridiculous address to an audience of lucky businessmen in London?
Perhaps he has been experimenting with drugs.
Perhaps he is going through a mid-life crisis.
This is just brilliant. Listeners to the BBC World Service’s World Have Your Say show were introduced to Godfrey Elfwick, a student from Sheffield talking about the lastest Star Wars franchise, Star Wars Episode VIII: The Force Awakens. Godfrey says the character “Dark Raider” is “racial stereotype”.
Godfrey Elfwick is a work of parody. Having said on twitter that he’d never seen Star Wars, the BBC got in touch:
Did Angela do any research? If she did, she must have missed Godfrey’s other tweets, like these:
Godfrey pricked the knowing liberal bubble with a skewer:
Brilliant. Just brilliant…
(PS: is he the only work of parody in that clip?)
That’s NOT Entertainment!
For some time now our happy island nation has, slowly but surely, been invaded by an uninvited and unwelcome breed.
This is nothing to do with immigration, asylum-seekers, refugees, the EU or any of the other supposed threats that exercise the newspapers at election time.
No, this is an insidious invasion that has targeted our TV screens, and in particular the advertisements, ‘trails’ and promotional montages that seem to take up as much time as the programmes they punctuate…
The invaders are instantly recognizable by their distinctive singing style: breathy, slightly flat, sometimes with an ‘emotive’ crack in the voice. Their songs are, variously: drippy, dippy, dull and dreary. They are invariably accompanied by willfully amateurish acoustic guitar. This formula is used to advertise everything from white goods to Barclays’ revolting ‘thank you’ to ‘real football fans’.
Raheem Sterling, the Liverpool player, is the worst person on the planet. We know this because the Daily Star features him on its Page 5. Pictured smiling and giving the thumbs up, the 20-year-old Liverpool and England player is placed alongside a photograph of Jimmy Guichard, also 20.
Jimmy is seen “dying in hospital”.
It is an utterly grim image. Looking at it feels invasive. But the photograph comes with the blessing of Jimmy’s mother, Karen, whose views are summed up in the headline:
“Kops must drop Sterling, urges tragic mum”
Jimmy died in 2013. That’s when the photographs of his dire condition were released. Back then Karen “explained how Jimmy Guichard died after taking a synthetic cannabis”.
The Daily Mail reported:
Keen sportsman Jimmy Guichard, 20, suffered a heart attack and severe brain damage within hours of taking one of the herbal substances. His mother Karen Audino said he was found unconscious next to an empty plastic bag from controversial legal high shop UK Skunkworks.
And in today’s Daily Star’s “exclusive“, the paper writes:
Keen sportsman Jimmy… suffered a heart attack and severe brain damage within hours of taking one of the herbal substances….he was found unconscious next to an empty plastic bag from controversial legal high shop UK Skunkworks.
So much for the exclusive.
It is worth noting that “according to the coroner’s report, there were no traces of alcohol or illegal drugs – including cannabis, cocaine, morphine or acid – in his system that could have caused his death.”
There was no inquest into his death.
But Karen suspects the legal high killed her son. She said:
“Jimmy experienced severe hypertension which caused his heart attack, but why that happened we don’t know. I believe whatever he took from the high street shop messed with his system and caused this. He was a fit, healthy lad and there was no reason for him to die.”
It is tragic. Your heart goes out to her.
But what has this to do with Raheem Sterling, who was filmed inhaling laughing gas in the privacy of his own home? Does he approve of drugs, suffering, pain and death? He is pictured giving the thumbs up as an innocent young man lies on his deathbed.
“The management need to take action and not pick him. They wouldn’t have him if he had been taking cocaine or heroin.”
But Sterling is not Adrian Mutu, the Chelsea player sacked for taking cocaine. He’s not Diego Maradona, whose contribution to the Peru’s GDP is legend. Any footballer who takes recreational drugs is not exactly going to enhance their performance. As Eric Cantona said of Maradona: “I prefer someone who uses cocaine on a Wednesday and plays at the weekend.”
A football club has every right to discipline a player who fails to show up for training or doesn’t perform on match days because he has over-indulged. It’s not a question of morality but of discipline. The higher levels of fitness in the modern game mean that footballers must be extremely self-disciplined about what they ingest. It’s not quite a monkish existence – roasting, bling-bling, mock Tudor mansions and Porsches are not, as far as I know, features of monastic life – but being a professional footballer does require a degree of abstinence and dedication that is not expected of most employees.
Which brings us to wonder what Raheem Sterling and Jimmy Guichard have in common? To link Sterling to the death of a young man is utterly unfair. We live in a world where the US President Barack Obama and the late Apple Corp. founder Steve Jobs have smoked cannabis. Are they now linked to all drug-related deaths?
This story is about morals, a creepy demand that adults who are good at football behave as the elite demand. They must be pure in thought and deed. It buys into the stories that footballers are State-sponsored ambassadors for healthy living (witness the haste with which politicians use sportsmen for their own ends, to advertise their own sounds morals on sexism, racism and atheticism) and that football fans – by and large the working class – are so thick and impressionable they look not to parents for guidance but to Raheem Sterling, Luis Suarez, John Terry or any leading adult footballer. The narrative assures us that Sterling is a “role model”.
He’s not. The suggestion that his stupidity in smoking a shisha pipe or inhaling laughing gas endangers lives is weak and as thick-headed as the player himself the day after the night before…
The Daily Star reports that The Proclaimers, singers of such monster-monster hits as I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) and Letter from America, have written a song about Jimmy Savile. This follows news that Jonathan Maitland has written the drama An Audience with Jimmy Savile. Looks like the depraved old sod is still entertaining the masses from beyond the grave.
The Proclaimers song Then Again references Top of The Pops, the BBC TV show once fronted by Savile:
“I can’t believe that I couldn’t see how many dodgy men were running TV.
“While I was growing into a man they took advantage of their fans.
“When I was a boy the were stars of prime time television.
“But circumstances change and some of them ended up in prison.
“Now maybe we were on Top of the Pops.
“Some of the hosts have got the chop.
“I’m sleeping soundly in my bed cos Jimmy Savile’s still dead.”
The Daily Record says the song “also refers to the 70s paedophile ring at Westminster and features on the band’s new album Let’s Hear It For The Dogs.”
Savile never was tried for his alleged crimes. He’s dead. What of those still breathing who enabled, did and knew what was happening?
Get used to hearing a lot more about the Kincora Boys Home in Belfast.
Slugger O’Toole writes:
Richard Kerr, a victim of abuse at Kincora told Channel 4 News that he was taken from the east Belfast home to London where he was molested by members of a VIP paedophile ring. Mr. Kerr alleges that he was abused by “very powerful people” at Elm Guest House and Dolphin Square – locations at the centre of the ongoing inquiry which has been mired in controversy.
Last month Home Secretary Theresa May ruled out extending the scope of a child sexual abuse inquiry to cover Northern Ireland and Scotland saying that child protection is “a devolved matter” despite Home recommendations by a Home Affairs Committee report:
Once upon a time, Labour Party leader Ed Miliband liked the Sun. It was his newspaper of choice.
Ed Miliband was in ‘Sun Country’. And he liked it:
He read it wherever he went.
And then Ed Miliband realised that the Sun was not exactly on his side. He could try and try but the Sun wasn’t going to be won over. Indeed, the Sun started to mock him.
Raheem Sterling is not a money-grabber. Well, so says the Times. And ‘money grabber’ is in inverted commas, the words appearing in a headline comment on the Liverpool player’s view of himself as revealed in a BBC interview. In that chat, Sterling confirmed that he has rejected an offer of £100,000-a-week to extend his Liverpool contract, which still has over two years to run.
He also says he’s “flattered” that Arsenal are interested in hiring him.
And he stated:
“Everyone’s dream is growing up seeing themselves in an away kit somewhere in a sunny country.”
You might take that for poetic licence, Sterling’s ‘sunny country’ being North London in February. But the 20-year-old who left QPR to earn more money at Liverpool is a pragmatist. Sterling wants a move away from the Premier League.
And he won’t weep for Liverpool. Following Liverpool’s win at QPR, his boyhood club, Sterling wrote on his Instagram page:
“Back to where it all started great win from the boys 3 points yerrrr boiiii.”
See how he loves Liverpool. Well, they do pay him more than QPR were offering. Liverpool got Sterling in their club colours because they outbid all other teams, offering QPR an initial £500,000 for the teenager.
In The Nowhere Men by Michael Calvin, we learn:
Sterling was a regular in pick-up games organised by Walley on a pitch marked out in the back garden of the home of Tim Sherwood, Tottenham’s technical co-ordinator. A trial game was arranged, between Tottenham Under 15s and a Brent Schools select, featuring Sterling, who was thought to be available for £200,000. Remarkably, Spurs turned him down, because academy coaches were split about his long-term potential and the challenges of his background. Fulham were convinced they were about to sign him. “We had Raheem in the building, and were totally blown away when Liverpool came in for the boy,” admitted Barry Simmonds, their chief scout. Anderson and McParland had successfully lobbied Sterling’s family, and close friends, that Raheem’s best interests would be served by a £1 million move to Merseyside.
A month before his 15th birthday, he was billeted with ‘house parents’ and installed in the fifth form at Rainhill School in St Helens.
That last line makes nonsense of Ian Ladyman’s clim in the Mail that Sterling is a kid out of his depth. Ladyman compares Sterling’s contract manoeuverings with those of his former Liverpool colleague Luis Suarez, who also sought an early exit from Anfield:
“Suarez was a worldly-wise, well travelled football gun for hire when he decided to take Liverpool on. He left home at 14. He could cope. Sterling, on the other hand, still looks like a boy…and in some ways he still is.”
That would be the same Raheem Stelring who left his native Jamaica at age six and then moved from London to Liverpool at 14.
Ladyman doesn’t seeme to have read the Daily Mail’s 2012 profile of Sterling’s “extraordinary story”:
“Long before he confirmed his place as football’s next big thing with his first Premier League goal last weekend, Sterling was a whippet-quick slip of a boy from Jamaica with flowing plaits, using his skill to embarrass grown men in adult matches, laughing as they floundered in his wake… His journey… began almost 5,000 miles away in a notoriously dangerous district of Kingston, Jamaica, where he lived until he was six, when he emigrated to Britain and settled with his family on one of London’s toughest estates.
In 2002, the Standard said of Stonebridge:
The area just north of Harlesden, comprising a maze of shabby concrete estates – Stonebridge, St Raphael’s and Churchend – is one of the poorest places in Britain and has become a breeding ground for violent crime and drug dealing.
Sterling ended up at Vernon House Special School, surrounded by “troubled” children. He “shunned gangs to play five-a-side with friends, and the Copland High School playing fields, in nearby Wembley, where he honed his game.”
We hear from Ann John, a Labour councillor for Stonebridge Ward. (Full disclosure: I grew up not far away. I’d avoid the Stoneridge Estate if it meant a much longer walk. It was notorious. It was a place anyone sane would want to get out of.) Says John:
“This is a real rags-to-riches story, so he deserves all the success he gets.”
One of Sterling’s former teachers says:
“Raheem is amazingly intelligent in so many ways… Raheem is a brilliant thinker. He would get concepts off the football pitch as well as on it. He had a great work ethic which lots of the other kids didn’t.”
So. That’s Raheem Sterling: ambitious, talented, smart and driven. Greedy? Yeah, probably. But no more or less than most of us.
Liverpool fans who want him to be one of their own are dreaming. He never was one of yours…