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.
Good news. Facebook has reconsidered. The picture of 16th-century theologian Desiderius Erasmus’s fingers is not offensive. When Stephen Ellcock posted the image on his Facebook page, Facebook banned him, suspending him from posting for 30 days.
Facebook soon blamed it on “human error” by one of its employees and reinstated his account.
Mr Ellcock, 59, tells the Times:
“I’ve had death threats, I’ve had stalkers. I have received threatening messages from photo agencies and American academic institutions warning me of dire consequences if I didn’t stop posting copyrighted material… What I’m trying to do is create an online museum in the same way Uber is a cab company without any cabs.”
We’re delighted to say that Stephen Ellcock will soon be contributing to flashbak.com.
Is the University of Iowa’s Athletics mascot, Herky the Hawk, a little lacking in emotional depth?
“I believe incoming students should be met with welcoming, nurturing, calm, accepting and happy messages,” Resmiye Oral, a clinical professor of paediatrics at UI, writes in an email to UI athletic department officials. “And our campus community is doing a great job in that regard when it comes to words. However, Herky’s angry, to say the least, face conveying an invitation to aggressivity and even violence is not compatible with the verbal messages that we try to convey to and instill in our students and campus community.”
Oral is big on words. She wants to “bring diversity” to how Herky emotes.
“UI athletic department officials are aware of this request and are in the process of formulating a response in regard to Herky,” replies Steve Roe, the department’s director of communications.
Says Herky: “I have no regrets about using Botox. But I deny having had cosmetic surgery. My face is my fortune.”
North Korea finds a use for its vast haul of bullets:
Two senior North Korean officials were executed with an anti-aircraft gun in early August on the orders of Kim Jong-un, South Korea’s JoongAng Ilbo newspaper reported, citing people it did not identify.
Unless North Korea is saving every bullet it can and the officials were beaten with the anti-aircraft gun or it was dropped on them?
Ri Yong Jin, a senior official in the education ministry — possibly minister — was arrested for dozing off during a meeting with Kim and charged with corruption before being killed, the paper said. Former Agriculture Minister Hwang Min was purged over a proposed project seen as a direct challenge to Kim’s leadership, it said.
Sleeping in class is a crime:
Since taking over after his father’s death in late 2011, Kim has carried out a series of executions of party and military officials. The most high-profile was the December 2013 execution of Jang Song-thaek, Kim’s uncle and former political guardian. Another high-profile execution was that of Hyon Yong-chol, North Korea’s former defense chief, who South Korean intelligence said was executed by firing squad in April 2015 on charges of dozing off during a meeting attended by the supreme leader.
Remains are then tossed to the dogs. Well, maybe. The source for this story offers no evidence. In fact, we never see any evidence of Mr Kim’s toughness:
In late April , the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea uncovered “a ghastly sight” at a military firing range: analyzed satellite images showed six anti-aircraft gun systems being fired upon a small target at short range last October. The group assessing the bizarre scene decided it was an execution that had been watched by high-level officials who’d driven in from the capital of Pyongyang.
“Anyone who has witnessed the damage one single U.S. .50 caliber round does to the human body will shudder just trying to imagine a battery of 24 heavy machine guns being fired at human beings. Bodies would be nearly pulverized,” the report reads. “The gut-wrenching viciousness of such an act would make ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ sound like a gross understatement.”
He’s a vicious sod is Mr Kim. Well, so they say…
The victims of this brutality are unknown, but there is no shortage of past examples. In 2012, a shocked international press reported that a military officer was sentenced to death for drinking during the official mourning period for Kim’s father, Kim Jong Il. The method of execution was reportedly by short-range mortar firing squad. According to a source talking to South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo, it was ordered that “no trace of him [be left] behind, down to his hair.”
Show me the body.
Breaking news from Australia. A man has been attacked. His wounds are ‘not serious…just life threatening”.
The Times says “Chelsea’s new stadium has been delayed by “quiet assassins on the wing”. Surely the noise police don’t have a problem with Chelsea expanding their ground. That place has been quiet ever since the old die-hards were priced out of the place.
The story is not about people who enjoy the quiet. It’s about creatures who are quiet:
A colony of bats in the neighbouring Brompton cemetery, a Grade I-listed Victorian burial ground…threatens to derail the project and make the proposed completion date of 2020 appear optimistic.
The local council, Hammersmith and Fulham, has asked the club managers to explain how they propose to protect the cemetery and the denizens of its catacombs before approving the new stadium, which the architects claim is inspired by Westminster Cathedral.
Easy. Rebrand the cemetery as a stand. The bodies should up the crowd for those mid-week matches.
The search goes on for who urinated into the River Cale at Wincanton, Somerset. PCSO Janet Sparkes addressed a meeting of Wincanton Town Council: “Members of public have made us aware of adult drinkers in the skate park. “Also a male was seen urinating in the river. Regular patrols are being carried out by officers in order to establish the identity of the offenders.”
Says one fish: “Ever since the council shut the toilets, we’ve nowhere else to go.”
Arsenal have hired Lucas Perez. The Mirror says it is a “PANIC BUY”, which is odd because Arsenal are usually criticised for being over cautious in the transfer market.
The paper goes on to say that Arsenal “compiled several scouting reports on the Deportivo La Coruna striker”. So not a panic buy, then, but something they considered at length.
The Mirror adds: “Arsenal’s first offer was rejected by Deportivo on Thursday after they tried to pay the modest fee in two instalments.” Paying a “modest fee” does not suggest panic, either. It suggests the Gunners have done a good deal for the player the Mirror has called a “star striker”, hailing him as “a relative bargain for a man who scored or assisted 25 goals in La Liga last season”.
In yet another Mirror story on Perez, the paper show him “scoring a nuclear thunder volley” and says he is a “shrewd buy”.
Today’s headline is utter balls.
The Rio Olympics legacy has not inspired a man from Llandysul in Ceredigion, Wales, to recreate his own version of the Brazilian looming statue of Christ the Redeemer. God has.
Emyr, 48, explains: “I had a vision that the Lord wanted me to carry a St Davids flag from St Davids to Snowdon. I thought that was ridiculous at first, but then the Lord said about the cross.”
And then it all made sense.
To Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, where Raymond Mazzarella is upset that sap from a neighbour’s tree is damaging his car. He picks up a chainsaw, cuts down the tree and sees it come down… right on top of his own home.
So bad is the resulting damage that the apartment block is now unfit for human habitation.
“He decided it was the best thing to do, to get rid of the tree, where he thought it was going to go, I don’t know,” says Terry Best, a Pittston Township code enforcement officer.
We live in strange and worrying times. Katie Hopkins, a woman who lost a competition for an office job in Brentwood, Essex, (The Apprentice), has said something about the deaths of five people in the seas off Camber Sands. When I first saw the Independent’s headline, I thought it was a typo, with the words the wrong way around:
Katie Hopkins reported to Twitter by police over Camber Sands deaths poll
It can’t be so that the British police demure to twitter in criminal matters? It can be. That’s no typo. The story goes:
Sussex police has reported Katie Hopkins to Twitter after she conducted a poll mocking the possible identities of five men whose bodies were pulled from the sea at Camber Sands beach.
This was the Tweet that had Sussex police upset:
5 dead at Camber Sands were:
Aspiring footballers, mentally ill, fans of Anders Brevik or big fans of inflatables.
Stewart Ayrey @StewartAyrey was offended. He called the police, asking the State’s enforcers to deal with some one said something he didn’t like.
@sussex_police is there anything you can do about this from @KTHopkins? Bad taste at very least.
Can the police arrest you for doing things in bad taste? No. Not yet. They admit as much in their reply:
@sussex_police @StewartAyrey @KTHopkins incredibly insensitive, although not criminal. We suggest reporting her to @Twitter. We have already.
A spokesperson for Sussex police goes on the record:
“At about 10.30am on Thursday (25 August), Sussex Police were made aware of a tweet regarding the tragic incident at Camber Sands on Wednesday (24 August). The force considered this tweet to be insensitive towards the victims and their families and reported it to Twitter under the categories “abusive or harmful” and “disrespectful or offensive”. Shortly after this the tweet was removed.”
Who knew the police were so sensitive. We knew they were censorious and keen on PR. But sensitive?
Chief Inspector Julia Pope then adds:
“Our primary reason for doing this was out of respect and concern for the thoughts and feelings of the next of kin of those who sadly died at Camber. Since the removal of the tweet we have been asked whether we will investigate and seek prosecution. After reviewing CPS guidance we have made the decision that this communication does not meet the prosecution threshold. Therefore, whilst the communication is distasteful it would not be criminal or fit within the guidelines for prosecution.
“We are satisfied that the tweet has now been removed.”
They checked. They wanted to see if a tweet they didn’t much like could be criminal. We know it can be. Liam Stacey’s plight taught us that.
We live in strange times when words are policed and free speech is criminalized. Stranger still they we all don’t get angry about it.
PS: On the Sussex Police Facebook Page, these comments appear below the story. None are deemed insensitive by the Force:
Free speech: it’s not only ok when you agree with what’s being said. It’s the right to say unpleasant things, too.
The Townsville Bulletin has more on the alleged murder of Mia Ayliffe-Chung. We don’t why she was killed. We may never know, let alone understand the alleged killer motives. It’s alleged yelled Allahu Akbar as she struck. One line is that he did this because he might be mentally ill.
Smail Ayad, 29, had fawned over Mia Ayliffe-Chung, 21, for several days, telling other backpackers at the Home Hill hostel the pair were deeply in love and married … Furious at the unrequited love, he allegedly stabbed Ms Ayliffe-Chung multiple times while screaming “Allahu Akbar”, leaving her to die on the floor of her Shelley’s Backpackers room.
He’s been arrested and charged:
Yesterday afternoon as police transferred Ayad from hospital to the watchhouse, he allegedly bashed two police officers, after they had to pull over on Woolcock St as he was lashing out in the back of the police paddy wagon. Both officers were hospitalised.
Police were forced to use capsicum spray on Ayad to subdue him and the Bulletin understands it took seven officers to get Ayad into a padded cell, as he continued to scream “Allahu Akbar”.
And the police continues to say::
Queensland Police Minister Bill Byrne described the stabbing attack as “tragic and disturbing” but sought to distance the incident from extremism. Despite police being unable to rule out radical links to the murder, Mr Byrne said the attacks were not “about race or religion”.
What they don’t know and what they do know.
Queensland’s police minister Bill Byrne has called for an end to “opportunistic commentary” on extremism following the fatal stabbing of a British backpacker in the state’s north… Byrne said there was no immediate evidence to suggest extremism as a motive for the attack.
As police continued to interview 30 witnesses who saw the shocking attack, federal politicians began to link the incident to a debate on immigration. One Nation senator Pauline Hanson used the tragedy to reissue calls for a moratorium on Muslim immigration.
“I’m not going to be silenced on yet another attack involving Islamic extremism – especially one occurring in the state I am representing in the Senate,” she said…
While not referring to any politician specifically, Byrne said some of the commentary from “predictable sources” was highly speculative and unhelpful.
“There’ll be those that seek to exploit this incident,” he said. “What is required here is cool, calm and thoughtful consideration.”
More to follow…
On The Canary website, monocular readers can study Jeremy Corby’s responses to #traingate. “Corbyn delivers a brutal message to Richard Branson after the Traingate smear falls apart [VIDEO],” thunders one headline. The apparent “smear” being that Corbyn was misrepresented when he sat on the floor between carriages and said to camera that there were no seats on a packed train when there were, using his suffering to campaign for a return to State-owned railways.
Another story upbraids Richard Branson’s Virgin for running “fuel-guzzling trains”.
As Jeremy Corbyn books handgliding lessons and a sedan chair for his next trip up north, we notice that alongside the Canary’s self-styled “Fresh, Fearless Independent Journalism” is this advert for an airline offering “Aisle Seats for Everyone”.
‘Book now and book often’, as they don’t say in Corbyn’s office.
BBC: “Tasered footballer given CPR for 35 minutes”
The post-Tasering facts are given to us straight:
Doctors battled in vain for 35 minutes to save ex-footballer Dalian Atkinson after he was Tasered by police, the inquest into his death has heard. He died 90 minutes after the weapon was used by police in Telford on 15 August.The 48-year-old former Aston Villa, Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich striker went into cardiac arrest on his way to hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
But why did he die?
The inquest was adjourned to 22 November after post-mortem tests failed to establish the cause of death.
Waiting is hard on the loved ones. Sky says they will have to wait nine months for an independent police watchdog investigation to complete its investigation. Thats seems like a very long time to wait. Why does it take so long?
The coroner’s officer Julie Hartridge said West Mercia Police officers were called there at 1.39am following a “report of concern for safety”. She told coroner John Ellery that Mr Atkinson became unresponsive shortly after being shot with a stun gun. “At hospital, following 35 minutes of CPR, he was confirmed deceased,” she added.
Tragic indeed that a call of a report for safety should end in a death triggered, as is alleged, by police action. It’s the kind of help you could do without.
Guardian: “Two police officers to be interviewed over death of Dalian Atkinson”
A spokesperson for the IPCC goes on the record:
“Our independent investigation into the death of Dalian Atkinson is expected to take around nine months. We recognise there is significant public interest and while we will carry out the investigation as swiftly as possible, we need to ensure it is thorough and robust. Interviews under criminal caution with two West Mercia police officers will take place shortly.”
The Star cocks an ear:
Aston Villa fans hurl abuse at cops over Dalian Atkinson Taser death
What did they say that was abusive?
As the officers move in to disperse the crowd, they can be heard repeatedly chanting: “You can stick your Tasers up your a***.”
Abusive? That sounds restrained.
He did not touch the breasts. The breasts touched him.
Swedish police investigator reportedly dropped a sexual assault charge because the two alleged victims had “gigantic breasts”. Two women reported a professional ice hockey player to police after he allegedly grabbed their breasts at the Marité nightclub in Ostersund, northern Sweden.
But on Tuesday the lead investigator Mikael Lundberg reportedly said there was no proof the player had assaulted the women, or that the man had touched them intentionally.
“It’s pertinent in this case that the women had gigantic breasts,” he told reporters from Expressen newspaper. “It wasn’t hard to brush up against them. If you’re drunk and draping yourself over someone, well, you can see how it might have happened.”
Swedish broadcaster SVT also reported that Mr Lundberg had told them that one of the girls had “very large breasts and it was hard not to brush against them.”
A friend who worked for London Underground told me about frotting, the habit of men who board trains at busy times with the intent of rub themselves against women. If they only go for bigger women, do they now have a defence?
Is the man accused of killing British backpacker Mia Ayliffe-Chung mentally ill? It’s the default position whenever anyone is killed in what could look like a racially-motivated attack. The Sun looks at Mia’s alleged killer, Smail Ayad, and wonders:
BACKPACKER KILLER’S ‘DEADLY OBSESSION‘ Deluded French knifeman killed British girl, 21, after ‘bizarrely claiming they were MARRIED and flying into a rage when she posed for a magazine’
Deluded. Obsessed. Bizarre. Rage. Mentally Ill?
All that follows an earlier headline:
Mia was killed in a brutal attack at a backpackers’ hostel in Queensland, Australia overnight, while three others are thought to have been injured.
The tenth paragraph of the Sun’s story contains another idea, previously delivered in headline form:
She was knifed in a frenzied attack in front of 30 horrified witnesses, while her attacker is alleged to have shouted “Allahu Akbar” during the ordeal.
Oddly, what first appeared as a ‘claim’ soon appears as a caption:
English backpacker Mia Ayliffe-Chung, 21, was knifed by a man shouting “Allahu Akbar” at a hostel in Australia
The BBC says:
A 30-year-old British man – named locally as Tom Jackson from Cheshire – was severely injured in the attack in Home Hill, Queensland, and is in a critical condition. A French suspect, 29, who allegedly said the Arabic phrase “Allahu akbar” during the attack, was arrested.
The Guardian: “Queensland stabbing: British woman killed by attacker who allegedly shouted ‘Allahu Akbar'”
Steve Gollschewski, a deputy police commissioner, said the alleged offender’s comments “may be construed as being of an extremist nature” and investigators were working with Australian federal police to establish his motives.
What motives are being considered?
But police were “not ruling out any motivations at this early stage, whether they be criminal or political”.
Investigators would also consider whether “mental health or drug misuse” issues were a factor in the attack alongside any “indication of an extremist slant or he was radicalised”, Gollschewski said at a press conference in Brisbane.
They don’t know why. But they know enough to narrow the field of investigation:
“This is not about race or religion, it is about individual criminal behaviour,” he said.
Is that a fact?
Friends of a British backpacker stabbed more than 20 times as he tried in vain to save the life of a young woman allegedly knifed by a Frenchman shouting “Allahu Akbar” at a north Queensland hostel are praying he recovers.
Up to 30 terrified witnesses at the Shelley’s Home Hill hostel 100km south of Townsville watched as Smail Ayad, 29, who had been singing the French national anthem, burst in crying “God is great” in Arabic.
Australian Federal Police are now investigating if the attacker has any link to any terror organisations…
In a press conference, deputy police commissioner Steve Gollschewski said the investigation was in its early stages and all motivations were being considered, including criminal and political, as well as the impact of drugs and mental health problems.
Always the mental health issues. Just Press f9 on the keyboard and everything is ok. (Unless you suffer from the horror of poor mental health and are being profiled as a potential knife attacker, in which case, it’s awful.)
The Sun: “FRESH HOPE FOR MADDIE? Brit cops may push for more government cash to help hunt for missing Madeleine McCann”
A questions mark. A story headlined “may”. No new facts. No news. This is the story since 2007, when the child vanished. The paper continues:
DETECTIVES investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann have “outstanding work” left to do on the inquiry and may apply for more Home Office funding.
Or, they may not. The word “may” appears in the headline versions of the same story on the Daily Express and Daily Telegraph websites.
The Sun adds:
In April, then-home secretary Theresa May granted the team £95,000 to keep the investigation going, with the cash expected to last until October. On Wednesday, Scotland Yard said it would talk to the Home Office about funding.
A force spokesman told the Press Association: “Whilst there remains outstanding work on this case, the Metropolitan Police Service will remain in dialogue with the Home Office regarding the continuation of funding.”
It’s a sad story with no sign of an end. But if not Madeleine, what could money be spent on?
Gloucestershire Live: “Family want Madeleine McCann-style woodland search for teenage relative who disappeared 20 years ago”
Madeleine McCann is the benchmark of all missing children.
Prime Minister Theresa May is coming under pressure to make missing schoolboy Damien Nettles the next Madeleine McCann so police can search a copse where his family have been told his body was buried 20 years ago.
Finite resources are being stretched.
Relatives in the Forest of Dean want police to carry out an official search of the woodland at the back of Gurnard Sailing Club on the Isle of Wight which has been named by some sources on the island as the ‘murdered’ teenager’s final resting place. And they have started a petition to force the Government to plough more money into solving the mystery of the 16-year-old who disappeared walking home from a party on November 2, 1996.
Some supporters have already started searching the woodlands with cadaver dogs, but the family believe they need the expertise of cold case murder squad forensic teams to either find his body or rule out the woodlands which are a few miles from where he vanished.
And they are hoping the petition will mean Damien’s case will attract extra funding for one last push in the same way as the Maddie McCann inquiry received an extra £12 million and Ben Needham inquiry was given £1 million so detectives could travel to Kos earlier this year.
Damien Nettles’ family have posted a petition online:
Please provide Hampshire Police with funding to find Damien Nettles remains
Damien Nettles aged 16 went missing 20 years ago in Cowes, Isle of Wight. His case remains a missing person despite a presumption of murder. Hampshire Police do not have the resources or funding to elevate this case. His family are desperate for justice and closure to move on. Thank you in advance.
You can read more about the disappearance here. Damien Nettles disappeared on November 2, 1996 when he was 16.
When did we become such prudes that a woman wearing too many clothes on the beach was a crime? The Telegraph:
French police made a woman remove her burkini on a Nice beach while another was fined in the resort of Cannes for wearing leggings, a tunic and a headscarf…
At which point the French rose up as one and cried aloud for liberty? No.
Along the coast in Cannes, a mother of two told AFP on Tuesday she had been fined on the beach for wearing leggings, a tunic and a headscarf. Her ticket read that she was not wearing “an outfit respecting good morals and secularism”.
France, place of enlightenment, now has a moral police police.
The BBC meets the woman who designed the cover-all:
Aheda Zanetti, who claims the trademark on the name burkini and burqini, said online sales were up by 200%… “I’m an Aussie chick, I’ve been here all my life,” she said. “I know what hijab means. I know what veil means. I know what Islam means. And I know who I am. I wanted my girls to grow up to have that freedom of choice. I don’t care if they want to have a bikini. It’s their choice. No man in this entire world can tell us what to wear or what not to wear.”
She gets it.
In “ARSENE WONGA”, the Mirror says Arsenal’s manger Arsene Wenger (geddit?!) “finally admits he treats the club’s money as if it was my own”. No, he’s not admitting to embezzlement. Wenger just says he’s cautions with spending tons of cash on players.
Of course, Wenger should spend, spend, spend because the Mirror has already told us this will be his last season at Arsenal.
Wenger has been quoted in Game Changers: Inside English Football, written by former Charlton boss Alan Curbishley: ”
“I personally believe the only way to be a manager is to spend the club’s money as if it were your own, because if you don’t do that you’re susceptible to too many mistakes. You make big decisions and I believe you have to act like it’s your own money — like you’re the owner of the club and you can identify completely with the club, because if you don’t do that I think you cannot go far.”
Some revelation there. At least it will be to the Mirror readers who didn’t see the paper’s story from one year ago:
Arsenal manager admits being tight with transfer cash because he feels club BELONGS to him
He has often been accused by his club’s frustrated fans of treating Arsenal’s money as if it is his own…. Now, for the first time, Arsene Wenger has unashamedly pleaded guilty to the charge and given a rare insight into the hurt he feels when his work is questioned at the Emirates Stadium.
As ever, Wenger was not talking with the Mirror, but with a magazine in France.
The Frenchman said: “I’ll give myself merit for one thing: I’ve always treated Arsenal as if it belonged to me. I have sometimes been criticised for it — because I am not enough of a spender, not carefree enough… My great pride will be to be able to say the day that I leave, that I am leaving behind a good team, a healthy situation and a club capable of performing in the future. I could have said to myself: ‘I am here for four or five years, we win everything’, [then] I leave and leave the club on the verge of bankruptcy. For me, consistency at the highest level is the true sign of great clubs.”
When he ‘admits’ it to the Mirror, that might be the end of the story.
Virgin Trains says Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was mistaken when he complained about a “completely ram-packed” journey. In his video lament, Corbyn is sat on the floor between carriages.
Virgin has released CCTV images which appear to show Corbyn walking past empty unreserved seats, and later sitting in one.
We now await Her Excellency Dame Shami Chakrabarti to lead an investigation into whether or not there are empty seats on Corbyn’s trains and if Hitler was trying to dodge his fair by hiding in the toilets.
When the Sun led with news that Liverpool’s American owners had rebuffed Chinese attempts to buy the club we enjoyed the headline “You’ll Never Wok Alone”.
Readers were told that “Liverpool chiefs will reject moves from the Far East to buy a stake in the club”.
It all looked an exercise in PR. Liverpool’s foreign chiefs are much more in tune with the Reds than other foreigners who want to be chiefs. The club is in safe hands.
The Chinese are a “state-backed group called Everbright”, who “value the club at £700m”. Liverpool chairman Tom Werner, part of the Fenway Sports Group, says the club would work with the right partner and offers are made “just for the publicity”.
Today the Times has more.
Liverpool, or Liwupu as it is rendered in Chinese, has received admiring glances in China. Over the weekend it emerged that China Everbright, a state-backed investment company, was looking into making a bid with Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners.
You wonder how these things emerge?
The club has also caught the attention of Fosun and Dalian Wanda, Reuters reported yesterday. Both are Chinese conglomerates with a proven taste for western consumer brands with Chinese cachet, counting Club Med and a Hollywood studio among their most recent deals.
How depressing to have your beloved football club bracketed with Club Med and cinema chains.
Liverpool’s owners, Fenway Sports Group, insist that the club is not for sale despite the £800 million approach said to be in the works. However, leading figures have indicated that they would take a proposal for a minority stake seriously from investors who could open doors for the club commercially.
£700million has now become £800m. That figure could go up and up.
Nick Davis, chief executive of Memery Crystal, a law firm that advised on the sale earlier this month of West Bromwich Albion to Yunyi Guokai, said that Chinese interest in Liverpool was part of a trend established at the top of the Chinese hierarchy. Xi Jinping, the president of China who last year posed for a selfie with Sergio Aguero, the Manchester City striker, has said he wants China to become a “world football superpower” that could win the World Cup by 2050.
China buys Liverpool. China picks the Liverpool team?
David Shambaugh, a China expert at George Washington University, said that the explanation was partly domestic. “China has so much pent-up money looking to be invested abroad and the Premier League is a very sound financial investment,” he said. “It also offers excellent opportunities to expand China’s ‘brand’ abroad.”
An £800 million valuation for Liverpool compares with the £300 million paid by Fenway Group in 2010.
And what is China’s brand? Well, Amnesty International says:
A series of new laws with a national security focus were drafted or enacted that presented grave dangers to human rights. The government launched a massive nationwide crackdown against human rights lawyers. Other activists and human rights defenders continued to be systematically subjected to harassment and intimidation. Five women’s rights activists were detained for planning to mark International Women’s Day with a campaign against sexual harassment. Authorities stepped up their controls over the internet, mass media and academia. Televised “confessions” of critics detained for investigation multiplied. Freedom of religion continued to be systematically stifled. The government continued its campaign to demolish churches and take down Christian crosses in Zhejiang province. In the predominantly Muslim Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, the regional government enacted new regulations to more tightly control religious affairs and ban all unauthorized religious practice. The government maintained extensive controls over Tibetan Buddhist monasteries. The UN Committee against Torture regretted that previous recommendations had not been implemented.
All very fit and proper.
Brendan O’Neill asks Corinne Grant a question:
The story is:
Cindy Prior, an indigenous administration officer in QUT’s Oodgeroo Unit, is using section 18C of the racial discrimination act – the controversial section that former Prime Minister Tony Abbott vowed to repeal – to sue three staff at QUT and five students.
Ms Prior claims she suffered “offence, embarrassment, humiliation and psychiatric injury” as well as ongoing fear for her safety, because of their actions and comments.
As The Australian has reported, the problems started when three students, who wandered into the Oodgeroo Unit in May 2013 looking for a place to use a computer, were asked by Ms Prior “whether they were indigenous”.
They said they were not, and she said there were other computers they could use.
She asked the students to leave the unit and they went away.
An hour later a Facebook page, called ‘QUT Stalker Space’, featured a post from one of the students, Alex Wood, saying: “Just got kicked out of the unsigned indigenous computer room. QUT (is) stopping segregation with segregation.”
Another student, Jackson Powell, wrote on the Facebook page: “I wonder where the white supremacist computer lab is.”
Another post — “ITT n—ers” — was attributed to another student, Calum Thwaites, who has emphatically denied that he had anything to do with the post.
Prior went to a doctor and was medically certified as unfit for work. Her initial doctor wrote: “Cynthia feels unsafe and frightened to return to work.”
Ten days after the students walked into the Oodgeroo Unit, a second doctor issued a workers’ compensation certificate declaring her unfit for work due to “nightmares, fear and sweating”. Four days later, Prior, who has not returned to the unit in the three years since the incident, told QUT she would be taking the matter to the Human Rights Commission. She felt “disheartened and powerless” because the university and its vice-chancellor, Peter Coaldrake, had made public statements about the incident and directed new strategies, which did not go far enough in her view. She felt “the critical issue of how to get me back to work and feeling safe once again” was being avoided.
…is suing the three students and the university for almost $250,000 in lost wages and general damages, plus future economic loss. She later claimed she felt unsafe leaving her home due to fears of being verbally abused and was unable to return to work in a role requiring face-to-face contact with white people.
So. About free speech. What does it cost?
New from India’s Mumbai Mirror. The language is as lovely as the story. The duplicitous talents of these guys who made false passports and government documents makes the news.
Two men, who worked in tandem faking government documents and scamming people, used their duplicitous talent to secure bail from a court in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region of Thane, India, last month. The duo, Bashir Mulla, 62, and Mohammed Lukman Shaikh, 48, managed to fool the court by securing bail through fake documents signed by non-existent police officers and guarantors. It is suspected that the lawyer who represented them in the court too was an impostor.
Thane police says there are no traces of the two.
Vijay Sanap, a constable attached to Srinagar police station in Thane, explains:
“I have to maintain a record of the accused granted bail by the court, do verification of witnesses by the police station and keep track of the dates of the cases. I knew the court had issued a bail order for the two accused last month but they could not be released as the verification of the guarantors was pending. There is a procedure where the witnesses’ record is checked and only then can the accused be released. This (the bail hearing) was on July 20,” said Sanap. He said, “After that, there was no mention of the case. Three days back, when I was going through the case diary.
“I saw a paper which said that both the accused had been released. The document was signed by senior inspector Kaarkar of Srinagar police station and submitted by one constable RS Patil. As I myself am attached to the same police station I know that there is no one called Patil there and also the name of the senior inspector was different. I enquired with the Srinagar police station and found out that the verification order had not yet reached them, and hence they had not yet approved the release order. They had no idea of the accused having been released.” Sanap then asked the police station to check the papers and then it dawned on all that the two guarantors who had signed the document were fake. The guarantors, Santosh Dongre and Sakharam Khude, were as non-existent as were the constable and the senior inspector who signed their release documents. Also the rubber stamps of the police station were fake.”
The duplicitous duo remain on the lam.
Is the media biased when it comes to reporting on Muslims? The BBC looks at the case of Michael Coe, accused of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and battery. He denies all charges.
The BBC: “Man ‘assaulted teens over cuddle’ in east London street”
The story begins thus:
A “bully” grabbed a schoolboy by the throat and called a teenage girl a “whore” after spotting them cuddling in east London, a court has heard. Michael Coe, 35, stopped driving and allegedly confronted the 16-year-olds, demanding to know if they were Muslims. When they lied and told him they were not, he grabbed the boy around the neck before throwing him to the floor.
Deep into the story, Mr Coe is identified as Muslim. But Islam is not given as key factor in the alleged crime.
The Sun: “ATTACKED FOR CUDDLING HIS GIRLFRIEND Muslim convert, 35, ‘grabbed teen by throat’ in London street over ‘cuddle’ with girlfriend.”
The tabloid makes the Islamic element key to the story. Mr Coe is a “Muslim convert”. Why he is billed as a “Muslim convert” and not simply a “Muslim” is, perhaps, worthy of attention. The Sun begins:
A MUSLIM convert grabbed a schoolboy by the throat and called a teenage girl a “whore” after spotting them cuddling in east London, a court heard.
Later on, readers are told:
Coe allegedly asked if the couple were Muslims – which they are – but they denied it because they were “worried what this defendant would do if they said yes”. At which point the defendant reportedly said: “Why am I wasting my time with you if you are not Muslim?”
The BBC does not include that exchange in its report.
The Evening Standard:
A Muslim “bully” attacked a 16-year-old schoolboy and branded his girlfriend a whore after spotting them cuddling in the street, a court heard today.
Prosecutor Jonathan Polnay described the attack as “completely unjustifiable”. He told the jury: “This case is about what started as unpleasant bullying with religious overtones in the street, followed by an attack by this 35-year-old man on a 16-year-old schoolboy.
“This was followed by a further assault on a schoolteacher, a nearby bystander, who came to his aid when he saw what was going on. The victim was, and is, a schoolboy and, in the early evening, he was there with his girlfriend standing on the pavement in the street, cuddling each other in the street. They had the misfortune that, of all the people to drive by, it was this defendant who was driving by in a car.”
The Newham Recorder:
It is foremost the story of an alleged “Muslim bully”.
The “Muslim convert” is in the dock.
The Asian Age:
The accused is simply a ‘man’.
Nowhere in the Asian Age’s report is Mr Coe identified as a Muslim. you could read this version and come way thinking it was an alleged attack by a man driven by anti-Muslim sentiment.
A “bully” grabbed a schoolboy by the throat and threw him to the ground because he saw him hugging a girl in the street, a court was told. Michael Coe, 35, was driving through east London when he spotted the two 16-year-olds cuddling on the pavement. He allegedly confronted the pair, demanding to know if they were Muslims, before calling the girl a “whore”.
Coe was said to have grabbed the boy by the throat, causing him to black out, before he woke up bleeding on the floor. When passing schoolteacher Boutho Siwela tried to come to the couple’s aid, Coe then allegedly attacked him.
Coe is on trial at Southwark Crown Court accused of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and battery.
Prosecutor Jonathan Polnay described the attack as “completely unjustifiable”. He told the jury: “This case is about what started as unpleasant bullying with religious overtones in the street, followed by an attack by this 35-year-old man on a 16-year-old schoolboy. This was followed by a further assault on a schoolteacher, a nearby bystander, who came to his aid when he saw what was going on. The victim was, and is, a schoolboy and, in the early evening, he was there with his girlfriend standing on the pavement in the street, cuddling each other in the street. They had the misfortune that, of all the people to drive by, it was this defendant who was driving by in a car.”
Coe demanded to know if the teenagers were Muslim and when they lied and said that they were not, he replied: “Why am I wasting my time with you if you’re not Muslim?”
He then called the girl “a whore” before attacking her boyfriend, Mr Polnay said.
“He (Coe) grabbed him around the neck, that’s the last thing the victim remembered,” he added. “The next thing the boy woke up on the floor and he was bleeding. This was completely unpleasant and utterly unwarranted – this is a grown man on a child.”
Mr Siwela heard the girl screaming and took a photo of Coe’s number plate as he was getting back into his car.
Mr Polnay continued: “The defendant wasn’t having that and he comes over to Mr Siwela and said give me that phone. Mr Siwela didn’t want to hand over his phone so the defendant grabbed him and threw him to the floor. He then got in the car and drove away.”
Coe denies the two charges against him. He admits assaulting the 16-year-old boy in Wilson Road, Newham, on April 15 but claims he was acting in self-defence.
The victim, who cannot be named because he is under 18, said he was hugging his girlfriend goodbye when Coe shouted “let that little schoolgirl go”.
He later demanded: “Why are you acting like a punk in front of your whore girlfriend?” before attacking the boy.
“Within seconds of saying that I felt a hand on my neck and after that I don’t remember anything else,” the teenager said.
“I woke up – there was blood on my hands and I could feel blood on my face, my head was throbbing and I was very dizzy and also felt sick.”
The trial continues.
Such are the facts.
Jamie’s Oliver’s fifth child is called River Rocket Oliver. With a name like Rocket, the worry is that the little lamb’s (lettuce) will go off. Nothing goes off like rocket.
PS – River Rocket is a brother to Poppy Honey Rose, Daisy Boo Pamela, Petal Blossom Rainbow and Buddy Bear Maurice.
PPS – There are few things more enjoyable than seeing other parents give their child a name that serves as a signifier of their individuality and cool.