We don’t just report off-beat news, breaking news and digest the best and worst of the news media analysis and commentary. We give an original take on what happened and why. We add lols, satire, news photos and original content.
Madeleine McCann: a look at reporting on the missing child in the news.
The Daily Star (Page 21): “McCann Blow Over Cop’s Maddie Book”
The story beings:
“The top police officer in the Madeleine McCann case expect her parents to lose their £1m libel battle against him”
Portugal achieved its freedom of speech laws after a period of brutal dicatorship. And that should be ‘former “top police officer”.
The Daily Mail online reads the Star and adds:
McCanns ‘set to lose £1m libel action’ over claims they faked Madeleine’s disappearance to cover-up her death, says police chief who made allegations in book..
The former police chief who published astonishing claims that Kate and Gerry McCann faked their daughter Madeleine’s disappearance to cover up her death expects them to lose their libel battle against him, it was claimed today.
Goncalo Amaral is reported to have said the early rulings by the judge in the case suggested her verdict may be ‘favourable’ to him.
The 57-year-old told Portuguese television on Friday that Maria Emilia Melo e Castro’s indications so far led him to believe he would win the case, according to the Daily Star.
Are ISIS buliding a football team? Monday’s Daily Star leads with the news: “5 footie aces are secret jihadis.”
A strawl poll of Anorak Towers’ experts reveals the five we think are aiming to destroy Western civilisation:
Robin Van Persie
Transfer Balls: Arsenal wannabe Loic Perrin wants Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpoool, Spurs switch
Transfer Balls: What news on Loic Perrin, the St Etienne player linked in print with a move to Arsenal. He is (at the time of writing) one of the 65 players linked with a moves to Arsenal this January.
The Mirror catches up with Perrin news by telling readers:
Liam Corless has news. Well, the headline above his name does. The story beneath the screamer contains not a single menion of Perrin. The headline is everything. It is utter, utter balls.
One day earlier the Daily Star did have some words from Perrin:
“Arsenal have not contacted St Etienne, so it makes no sense to talk about it anyway. And I haven’t had any news from my side either, which cannot be a good sign. The fact that I have been included in the French national squad has alerted certain clubs. Great.”
Look out for the Mirror hwadline: “Perrin wants Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpoool, Spurs switch” soon*…
* See above.
Right now hundreds of people are scouring dating websites for Jon Venables, one of Jamie Bulger’s two killers. Find the man will nto easy, given that he has new identity and no longer looks like the 10-year-old who sat in the dock.
Go on a date with Venables. Then sell your story.
The Mirror reports that Venables is not on a dating website for ghouls who fancy killers. He’s on a mainstream site open to anyone:
Jon Venables has joined a popular dating website – where women who contact him have no way of knowing they are letting the James Bulger murderer into their lives.
Well, no. He’s not allowed to reveal his true identity. He has to live a lie. The Mirror does not include this salient point. So. Anyone who meets him socially won’t know he’s Jon Venables.
We cannot also identify the website, which has many young single and divorced mums among its users, who will not know his background if they contact – and possibly meet – the killer.
Well, anyone can be anyone online:
* Mary Kay Beckman first met Wade Ridley after the online service paired the two up in September 2010, and knew him for only 10 days before breaking up with him. Four months later, according to Courthouse News Service, on the night of Jan. 21, 2011, Ridley hid in her garage and eventually attacked her, stabbing her 10 times and kicking her in the head…
*45 and date-raped: One woman’s online dating warning…
The Mirror adds:
…but experts told of their shock that he is allowed free rein to trawl the web chatting up young single mums – just five years after admitting downloading and distributing child abuse material, for which he was jailed for two years.
Is he free? Is he not being supervised? Is he not meeting his handler? The Mirror’s “expert” is guessing.
The Sunday Mirror discovered Venables inviting women to contact him online in a joint probe with TV investigative reporter and child protection expert Mark Williams-Thomas. He said: “The horrific nature of James’s murder should mean that his killers should remain under constant supervision and be unable to freely roam the internet.”
But we don’t know that he isn’t.
The Mirror then provides clues to help sleuths track down Venables.
In his dating profile, Venables claims his best quality is his sense of humour. He tells of his love of music and football – he supports Everton – and asks women to contact him via his social media account.
So. If we all find out who is is, then he will need yet another identity. How is this helpful?
Venables pays a monthly fee to be featured on the dating site and is able to exchange messages and photographs with any women who choose to contact him. The site also has a feature allowing him to video himself and share clips with any of the site’s thousands of members, some of whom have young children.
There was outrage when it emerged in 2013 that Venables had been released from jail after downloading and distributing child abuse images after posing as a mum on a chatroom online.
Videos he downloaded showed girls said to appear as young as eight being raped. Other images found on Venables’s computer involved children as young as two.
And after that, and the story that he’s been shagging his hander at Red Bank prison, maybe the justice department is being litle more cautious with Vanables.
No story of Venables is complete without a word from his victim’s mother. In the Mail, Denise Fergus is quoted:
Denise Fergus, 47, said it was frightening women may have unwittingly contacted Jon Venables without having any idea of his true identity… “It’s quite disgusting that a child murderer and paedophile can have access to online dating websites. I feel so sorry for the girls and women who do not know who they’re chatting to. He’s capable of anything. Who’s to say that he’s not prowling the internet, looking for mothers and targeting their children? That’s the most frightening thing.”
Well, he’s under observation. He can look at legal material. He can talk to people. He can do anything that does not break the law and the terms of his sentence.
“The Parole Board should have some kind of system where they can watch what he is doing on the internet. He seems to be left to his own devices and getting away with it all the time.”
Seems to be. But isn’t.
Mr Williams-Thomas then adds:
‘The thing about child sex offenders is that their behaviour does not change – he will always be a child sex offender.’
Why is the sex now seen as more notable than the killing? We live in changed times, where child sexual abuse is always the top story.
In other news, Jon Venables is a cottage industry
A prison officer has pleaded guilty to selling information about one of James Bulger’s killers to the Sun newspaper. David Hobbs, 67 and from Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to misconduct in a public office between February and April 2010. The charge is understood to relate to a single payment of £750 for information about Jon Venables while he was in prison. No story was published as a result…
Last year, ex-prison officer Scott Chapman was convicted of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office for selling details about Jon Venables to a journalist for up to £40,000…
A former News of the World journalist, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was given a six-month suspended prison sentence for the same offence.
The journalist said:
“He had been taken in by the prison service, given millions of pounds for a new identity and then repeat-offended, and the prison service deal with it by making his life as comfortable as possible. Public interest. What sort of message are they sending out to him that it’s OK to look at two-year-olds being raped?..
“I think I would have been thinking about the public interest of the story rather than the impact on Jon Venables’s mental state.I would have thought the fact he had to live with the fact he murdered a two-year-old would have more affected his mental state than a piece in the News of the World that he may or may not have seen.”
The child who killed a child never moves on…
In “Con Her Majesty’s Secret Service”, the Sun tells how a hoax caller managed to speak with the cheif of GCHQ and David Cameron. The Sun knows this because the – get this – hoax caller called the Sun and told them about it.
The caller, described as “boozy”, managed to contact “top spy” Robert Hannigan, Cameron before calling the Sun “to brag about it”.
He boasted he was drunk and on drugs but still got to speak to the chief of the GCHQ surveillance base.
But it has all been confirmed by a spokeswoman in a, er, phone call:
“The Prime Minister ended the call when it became clear it was a hoax. In neither instance was sensitive information disclosed. Both GCHQ and No10 take security seriously and both are currently reviewing procedures.”
That spokesman, of course, could be a fake. But the anonymous caller can be totally trusted, telling the Sun:
“I’ve just made complete monkeys out of GCHQ. I’ve got the mobile number of the director. What’s more, I am off my face on booze and cocaine. I had some spliffs too.I’ve been up all night. I’m utterly wasted. Hilarious.”
But the best line comes from the Sun:
The man — who sounded well-educated and from the South East…
We’re looking for a well-educated Home Counties man on drugs. Seal the doors at Westminster. This looks like an inside job…
Rod Liddle looks at The Sun’s Page 3, and the prigs who want it banned.
To my mind, Page 3 is is bit naff, a throw back to the say when old the tall and athletic could reach the newsagent’s porn shelf, ‘Continental’ was a euphemism for hardcore and not better coffee and Denmark was the place of adolescents’ sticky dreams.
The Sun could just as easily put one of these Bamforth postcards on Page 3.
Je Suis Grub Street: Salman Rushie and the But Brigade love Charlie Hebdo but hate the British Tabloids
Salman Rushdie has been taking on the ‘but Brigade’, whose newfound committment to free speech after the Charlie Hebdo massacre has been steadily vanishing, who see moral equivalence and relativism in the murders:
“The French satirical tradition has always been very pointed and very harsh, and still is, you know. The thing that I really resent is the way in which these, our dead comrades … who died using the same implement that I use, which is a pen or pencil, have been almost immediately vilified and called racists and I don’t know what else… Both John F Kennedy and Nelson Mandela use the same three-word phrase which in my mind says it all, which is, ‘Freedom is Indivisible’. You can’t slice it up, otherwise it ceases to be freedom. You can dislike Charlie Hedbo. But the fact that you dislike them has nothing to do with their right to speak.”
Morgan Freeman nails Black History Month and ends racism, just like Rosa Parks and her fried chicken did
Morgan Freedman nails Black History M0nth and the obsession with division:
The Republican National Committee has congratulated civil rights hero Rosa Parks for her role in ending racism”.
Meanwhile…over at NBC it’s fried chicken fot all the folks (via):
Such are the facts…
News in the Daily Mail is that a “Muslim gang” has been “barred from gathering in large groups and burning flags after violent outbursts at rallies led by hate preacher Anjem Choudary”.
Choudary is a showy irritant, the familiar face of British Islamism on the telly because gurning loons Omar Barki – the ‘Tottenham Taliban’ – and Abu Hamza – the one-eyed, no-handed purple people eater – have left the country. The British media interviewed all the men who shout at pigeons in the precinct to be the face of Islamism UK and came up with nothing very frightening. So. Image-conscious Choudary stepped forward, a man who ticks boxes to be a radical Islamist but fails to be the full tonto.
Back to the Mail’s news that 12 men have received Asbos.
The great and good are meeting in Davos. It’s the World Economic Forum, dummy, the rich and powerful’s AGM. It’s here they elect what free gifts banks can give customers, who Prince Andrew shags and if attacking Mars is worth it.
We’ve had look at some of the tweets and news emerging from on high.
Grab a bucket. It’s a puke-arama!
The Sun follows it’s return to Page 3 with Nicole from Bournemouth with a Page 3 double spread.
The Daily Mirror is now the same as the Sun for it too has Miranda Kerr on Page 3:
But over in the Daily Star, Sophie (“she loves rowing” – phwoar!!) from Staffs is topless:
Will the Sun now go with or without a topless stunna tomorrow? Will Richard Desmond’s Star be the only place to reach for topless babes on the newsagent’s bottom shelf?
Will readers wonder where-oh-wher they can see photos of naked women if not in the Sun and the Star? And will you all be in tonight to watch Richard Desmond’s hardcore porn shows through Rupert Mudroch’s Sky boxes?
Christina Annesley died on holiday. The young British woman was travelling when she died on the Thai island of Koh Tao. Terrible news. But can the news of a woman’s death from natural caues be spun and sensationalised? Yep:
The Daily Mail reports – and this is the URL of the scoop:
The story runs:
Christina Annesley, 23, from Orpington in south London, was part-way through a four-month trip across south-east Asia when she died on Wednesday.
She was found dead on the island of Koh Tao- the same location where British backpackers David Miller and Hannah Witheridge were found murdered last September.
But Christina Annesley’s death has nothing to do with those murders.
This might be the greatest reason to support global warming:
News on Madeleine McCann, the innocent missing child, has been thin on the ground. But today the Sun has some news:
Find Maddie fund dries up as donations shrink
Donations to the fund have dropped. Well, the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Grange is on the case. So. Why donate to private detectives who have in years of looking and earning come up with zilch? And The Met is having some success, as the Indy reports:
Operation Grange, which is believed to have cost in the region of £7.3 million, has uncovered a number of significant leads.
The Sun adds:
PUBLIC donations to a fund set up to find missing Madeleine McCann dwindled to just £21,000 in the last financial year, latest accounts reveal.
That sounds pretty generous.
The Find Madeleine campaign made £21,264 from fundraising in the 12 months to March 31, 2014. That figure compares to £70,250 the previous year and £306,393 the year before that.
It raked in £1.8million at its height shortly after Madeleine, three, vanished from a holiday home in Praia da Luz, Portugal, in 2007.
The £21,264 of donations last year were made up of £2,744 in wrist band and T-shirt sales, with the rest collected.
Money for Maddie used to be big. Remember the News of the World’s huge reward? Hey, remember the News of the World?
The Sun goes on:
But administration costs such as accountancy fees and an audit swallowed up £21,005 of that cash.
So much for charity. No-one has to work for free.
But papers filed with Companies House in London last week show the charity’s account still currently has a healthy total balance of £753,056.
That’s a lot of money. If that’s just sitting there, why give more?
That is through unspent money brought forward from previous years and around £1million from mum Kate McCann’s 384-page best-seller Madeleine: Our Daughter’s Disappearance and the Continuing Search for Her.
Madeleine disappeared from her bed in the family’s apartment on May 3, 2007, while Kate and dad Gerry were eating at a nearby tapas restaurant.
A spokesman for the McCanns, who are from Rothley in Leicestershire, said: “Kate and Gerry and the board of directors remain extremely grateful to everybody who has helped in the search for Madeleine by donating to the fund.”
Just last month Kate and Gerry, both 46, said they had been “amazed” by the support they have received.
The organisation, which has six directors including Kate and Gerry, pays for a 24/7 helpline for tipsters to call.
Or you could just call the police…
ON the border between Tijuana and the USA, a drone helicopter carrying six pounds (2.72kg) of crystal meth has crashed. Well, if you’re flying that wasted accidents can happen. Just look at the state of that drugs bot.
Yes, there’s a lot of soap, showbiz and sex – plus, of course, those women in varying states of undress. But this is a paper with an extremely high story count – and many of its stories are important. Some of them even relate to foreign affairs.
Page 3 Stunnas, The Suffragette, Fascist Mary Richardson and the Rokeby Venus at the National Gallery
As Brendan O’Neill writes of the shrill campaing to ban the Sun’s naff Page 3:
All this talk of ridding Britain of the scourge of Page 3 brings to mind the Suffragette Mary Richardson, who in 1914 took a knife into the National Gallery and slashed Velazquez’s ‘Rokeby Venus’. “I didn’t like the way men visitors gaped at it all day long.” Richardson later became the head of the women’s section of the British Union of Fascists.
That story is well told on Flashbak: The Suffragette and Fascist Mary Richardson and the Rokeby Venus at the National Gallery
Prince Andrew and Virgina Roberts share the Sun’s front page. It’s the story of sex and slavery.
It’s the story of “MY SEX WITH ANDY AND 8 GIRLS.” Wow! Prince Andrew had sex with “girls”! Eight of them!
The story begins:
THE “slave” who claims she was forced to sleep with Prince Andrew said he once had sex with her and eight girls.
Robert is the self-confessed ‘slave’ who fled her paedophile captor whilst on a massage learning course in Thailand.
Virginia Roberts, 31, said the orgy took place on his paedo pal Jeffrey Epstein’s private island.
After a very brief hiatus. the Sun has restored topless stunnas to its page 3.
Bring it on Nicole Neal from Bournemouth:
In “SUN GIRL’S DAY FROM HELL”, Amy Jones (size 8) pulls on a fat suit and heads off to: the gym (“A child points and laughs”); the bus stop (“A gaggle of kids point and giggle”); lunch (“customers stare as I order the Steakhouse Meal”); the pub (“no one rushes to serve me”); a saucy lingerie shop (the cut-away playsuit is not in her size); and the Tube (I’m me with accusatory stares”).
Good job fat tourist Amy can pull off her ridiculous rubbery get-up (Why do they stare? Why?) and put an end to the “abuse”. At her Sun desk, Amy says “40 percent of Brits are the target to personal insults at least once a week”. She learns that “criticism is unhelpful when it comes to losing weight”.
Amy Jones may care to flick through back copies of the Sun and learn that a fat suit is one thing but get fat and – look out! – her collegues will be on her:
There is Fat Wayne Rooney, who is mocked-up and mocked by the Sun:
And a few more examples of “nightmare abuse”:
The NUJ’s general secretay Michelle Stanistreet was on the ‘Je Suis Charlie’ march following the murders of Chartlie Hebdo staff. The NUJ made this announcement:
“This is not the first time that enemies of press freedom have attempted to muzzle journalists who use their pens to ridicule all purveyors of hatred. Beyond the massacre committed at Charlie Hebdo, the principles of liberty of expression are at stake: freedom to criticize, the caricature and to denounce. It is appropriate to quote Albert Londres: ‘Our job is neither to please people or to do them wrong, it is to use our pens to go to the heart of things even if it hurts.’…
“The extraordinary upsurge of solidarity in France and in many other European countries is a wonderful boost for defenders of these treasures liberties – above all the freedom of expression.”
The Daily Express has news: “80% want to quit the EU.”
On December 10, the Express brought news:
Some 46.6 per cent would vote “out” while just 34.3 per cent would vote “in”, with 19.1 per cent undecided.
In December 2014, the Express has other news.
46.6% became 51% is now 80%. Things move fast in Eu poll-ville.
The Express is getting mroe and more in-tune with its readers.
The Express and UKIP are in chorus:
Nigel Farage sees the 80% and tweets:
But what about that 80%? Martyn Brown notes:
BRITAIN is marching towards the EU exit door today after eight out of 10 people voted to leave in a historic poll.
That eight in ten:
Some 14,581 people voted – 11,706 of them want the UK to quit compared with 2,725 who want to remain part of the EU. The mini-referendum – the first on the issue since 1975 – was organised by two senior Tory backbenchers and a prospective Tory MP.
Three Tories conducted a poll. Who was polled?
The Tory poll was organised across three neighbouring parliamentary constituencies by Peter Bone, MP for Wellingborough, Philip Hollobone, MP for Kettering, and Tom Pursglove, who is standing as Tory candidate for Corby and East Northamptonshire at this year’s general election.
So. A poll of three constituencies speaks for the entire UK?
Following the count, carried out in the London offices of the Daily Express yesterday, Mr Bone said: “Eight out of 10 people who took part want to come out of Europe – that is extraordinary.
“It is very, very, very clear they want to come out.”
So. Of the people who actually replied to the poll, 780% want out. How many did not respond to the poll?
The voting exercise was the biggest poll on the issue since the national referendum in June 1975.
Ballot papers were delivered to 100,000 households in the three constituencies between May and the end of last year.
There were a total of 150 spoiled papers.
11,706 people of 100,000 in Northamptonshire wants to leave the EU. That’s 11.7%.
PS: The Express previously reported: “Ballot papers will be delivered to 150,000 households in the three constituencies after the polls close for the European Parliament elections on May 22.”
The Chilcot Report has been mired by delay. The feel is that we are witnessing a cover-up. But do we need an inquiry to tell us that invading Iraq was wrong and based on iffy evidence? Do we need an inquiry to tell us that Tony Blair was just the head of a group who, allegedly, cooked-up reasons for what had been decided?
We know the WMDs did not exist.
We know the ‘dodgy dossier’ was cribbed from the internet. Google ‘WMD’ and present it as fact.
What are we looking for? Do we just want Blair and George Bush’s heads, to bury them and the past with it?
We should asks: why did Tony Blair and New Labour lead Britain to war in Iraq?
Well, when the question of invading Iraq was put to the elected represensatives of this country on 18 March 2003, 412 British MPs voted in favour of military intervention and only 149 voted against. Jack Straw, then the foreign secretary, says “intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”
We went to war becsause we wanted it. Why? Well, I’d suggest mixture of pride, greed, desperations and a policy to unite the country and for Labour to look ‘good’ and ‘ethical’.
This website says www.arrestblair.org. But why only him? Are you anti-Blair or anti-democratic?
Westminster paedophiles: PIE, Grafton Close dies and ‘allegations of unnatural sexual proclivities’ on file
Westmisnter paedophiles: a look at the story of child abuse in VIP circles in the 1970s and 1980s.
Tom Parmenter tells Sky News viwers:
A secret Government file has been unearthed that documents “unnatural” sexual behaviour taking place when the Westminster paedophile scandal was at its height. It has been kept under lock and key for 35 years on grounds of national security – but will now be released to the child abuse inquiry established by the Government.
Aren’t those claims of a Westmisnter paedophile scandal? And isn’t the Westmisnter peedophile scandal at its height now?
Security and intelligence expert Dr Chris Murphy stumbled across it last November while searching documents at the National Archives in Kew. He was immediately alerted by the title: “PREM19/588 – SECURITY. Allegations against former public [word missing] of unnatural sexual proclivities; security aspects 1980 Oct 27 – 1981 Mar 20.”
Dr Murphy, a Lecturer in Intelligence Studies at Salford, says:
“I was looking through the ‘PREM’ Prime Minister file series for the 1980s. I think I did a double-take and then started wondering what the potential implications of the title, which is a little vague, could be.”
Do we know? We can guess:
It is highly likely then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher saw the documents, and was briefed on the security implications, but the identities of those within them remain secret.
Facts are pretty thin:
Dr Murphy added: “The fact that this file is concerning the Prime Minister and these allegations are being taken to the Prime Minister I think would strike anybody of being potentially of some interest.”
Yes. That much is true.
A Cabinet Office spokesperson says:
“In this case, the file was kept closed and retained as it contained information from the security services and advice from the Law Officers. These classifications are reviewed periodically. We are clear that any files that are pertinent to the historical child sex abuse inquiry will be made available to the panel.”
Mrs Thatcher’s former press secretary, Sir Bernard Ingham, responds:
“I asked him [a Government minster] about it [allegation of depravity] and he denied it, so no, I didn’t do anything else. What was the alternative?”
If it was illegal, we’d answer: go to the police.
Simon Danczuk MP, without whom no story of Westminster paedos is complete, adds:
“I think it is right and proper that the Government now open up this document, let us know what is in there. I think there is a culture within Government departments of not releasing information and that has caused some of the problems we now have in getting to the bottom of who was involved in this paedophile network and who was involved in covering it up.”
That would be the alleged network linekd to alleged deaths at Dolphin Square, goings on at the Elm Guest House and other matters.
The Cheddar Valley Gazette has other news:
A BRISTOL paedophile is being investigated over child abuse in the 1970’s. Douglas Slade, 73, left Britain after being exposed as a sexual predator. But detectives are working on a case which could see Slade extradited to the UK for offences linked to a nationwide paedophile network. Wealthy businessman Slade who lived in Bristol during the 1970s and 1980s, was a founder of the reviled child sex advocacy group Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE).
He left Britain in 1985 for Angeles City in the Philippines, where he has been accused of molesting boys as young as eight. Before he left, Slade is suspected to have abused numerous underage boys passed between PIE members who tracked down youths for illegal sex…
One man allegedly abused by Slade and other PIE members, who is not part of the current UK investigation, contacted the Daily Mail to describe how he was molested by Slade and then passed between paedophiles from 1979, when he was 14.
The 50-year-old man said he was introduced to Slade by another prominent PIE member, former racing car driver Christopher Skeaping, who was jailed in 2009 for sex attacks on a boy aged 12 in the late 1980s.
The alleged victim says:
“Skeaping rode a huge BMW 1100 and had big American cars. For kids of 13, 14 and 15, those are exciting things. Douglas Slade turned up at his home one day. I was a very quiet child and he just picked up on me and I ended up going to Bristol several times. Apart from the sexual side of it, Slade was actually very nice to me. He made me feel special. He was doing nice things for me and it all seemed quite a good thing. I suppose if that’s what grooming is, I was being groomed… I was affected by what happened to me for some years, but I got over it by being positive and coming to terms with it…”
If you wait long enough, they all die:
A former children’s home manager has been found dead just weeks before he was due to stand trial over alleged historical sex abuse. John Stingemore, 72, was discovered at his home in St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex, on Wednesday afternoon… Stingemore was due to stand trial next month at Southwark Crown Court charged with a string of indecent assaults on young boys. The charges came following an investigation into alleged abuse at Grafton Close Children’s Home in Hounslow, west London.
One allegation is that boys from Richmond Council-run care homes such as Grafton Close were supplied to Elm Guest House to be abused by VIPs.
Such are the facts…