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You’ve heard news of the Panama Papers. The Guardian is hot for them:
In the files we have found evidence of Russian banks providing slush funds for President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle; assets belonging to 12 country leaders, including the leaders of Iceland, Pakistan and Ukraine; companies connected to more than 140 senior politicians, their friends and relatives, and to some 22 people subject to sanctions for supporting regimes in North Korea, Syria, Russia and Zimbabwe; the proceeds of crimes, including Britain’s infamous Brink’s-Mat gold robbery; and enough art hidden in private collections to fill a public gallery.
Can it be that the corrupt are corrupt? As the Guardian studiously ignores its own off-shore tax arrangements, the Mirror leads with David’s Cameron’s link to the Panama Papers. It asks: “So, do you STILL have family money stashed in a secret offshore tax haven, Prime Minister?” To which you might asks, “Does the Mirror have any investigative journalists or is it all clickbait?”
Before more on Cameron, a few words on the source. The 11.5 million documents were leaked by someone at Panama-based law company Mossack Fonseca, and shared with more than 370 journalists affiliated with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
The ICIJ is the watchdog journalism branch of the Center for Public Integrity, a Washington nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative group.
Founded in 1977, Mossack Fonseca is headquartered in Panama but has a presence in dozens of countries including known tax havens such as Switzerland, the British Virgin Islands and Seychelles. It specializes in helping companies and individuals set up offshore, tax exempt entities, according to its website, and is reportedly the world’s fourth largest provider of such services. According to the Guardian, one of the two U.K. publications that partnered with the ICIJ in the investigation, one of the firm’s partners said in a leaked memorandum that “ninety-five per cent of our work coincidentally consists in selling vehicles to avoid taxes.”
Mossack Fonseca has strongly denied any wrongdoing, saying in an initial statement to ICIJ that it conducts “a thorough due-diligence process” before helping to incorporate companies. The company also provided a more detailed response, which can be read in full here.
The leak is the biggest in history, greater than the cache of documents released by Wikileaks, and contains information from 1977 to December 2015, including the details of 214,000 entities, such as trusts, foundations and shell companies that can be used to hide the true ownership of assets.
Back to Cameron. The Times also leads with the Cameron link. And it’s a good read:
Blairmore Holdings, set up by Ian Cameron [Dave’s dad] in 1982, held board meetings abroad and allegedly placed up to 50 Caribbean officers including a lay bishop in executive positions to legally avoid being taxed as a British company.
The Bahamas-based investment fund, which managed tens of millions of pounds on behalf of wealthy families, used anonymous “bearer shares” to shield its clients from public view, according to a data leak that has implicated world leaders, celebrities and businessmen in offshore tax avoidance.
Bearer shares can be used to facilitate money laundering and tax evasion as they enable investors to hide ownership and transfer assets without a paper trail. The prime minister banned them last year and has called for an international crackdown on aggressive tax avoidance and evasion. Last night Mr Cameron said that his family’s tax affairs were a private matter. Downing Street would not be drawn on whether the Cameron family still had a stake in the fund.
The Mirror says they are not a private matter. Of course, what is and what is not private is far from being the Mirror’s special area of expertise, what with it being embroiled in phone hacking payouts for invading people’s privacy.
The row came after an unprecedented leak of 11.3 million documents from Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian law firm. Jurisdictions such as Panama offer companies and individuals the chance to legally mitigate tax bills and maintain anonymity, but failure to declare assets to the taxman in their own country can be illegal.
The Mail leads with much the same, although early on it points out that Bearer shares are now banned in the UK. Over on Page 9, the Mail looks Putin’s “£1.4bn if shady deals”. To which cynics might say, ‘and the rest of them aren’t?’
It’s all murky stuff. But given the levels of secrecy and massive wealth, the cast of billionaires, celebrities and global leaders, what do we expect to be the result of it all?
Meet Dave Bry. Dave has a question for Guardian readers: “Does climate change make it immoral to have kids?” As the rule dictates, any headline posed as a question must be answered ‘No’. But Dave will not be sterilised so easily. He has a column to fill.
Bringing children into a disintegrating environment used to be a theoretical fear. Now it’s a very real one
Dave is scared of disintegration. He also tell us he has children. This being the Guardian, chances are they will soon be introduced in Dave’s column or one of their own, little Bry-lined specimens, keepers of the Bry hard stare.
…the world is a wonderful place, one we humans have made nicer for ourselves with wonderful inventions like books and record players, penicillin and pizza, it’s also a really awful place, one we’ve ravaged with deforestation and smog, nuclear weapons and mountains of pizza delivery boxes and other garbage.
Which one of those awful things do you suppose Dave and the Bry-lines rub up against on a given day? Nuclear weapons? (Isn’t Islington a nuclear free zone?) Deforestation by the Guardian’s new Kings X offices? Pizza? The Internet?
The awfulness seems to be getting worse, especially now that climate change has sped up – sea level rise that was supposed to take centuries has recently been projected as taking just decades. This complicates the already difficult decision of whether to have a kid.
It’s too late for Dave. But if he can put you off breeding, he’ll have made his contribution to Gaia’s health. And he will do it with science:
We’re living through what scientists call the “Sixth Extinction”, an era of precipitous decline in the number of species able to live on the planet. The last mass extinction, the fifth, happened 66 million years ago, when a giant asteroid crashed into Earth and 76% of all the species on the planet perished.
He sees “global economic collapse, famine, border disputes, wars.”
Thinking about the horrific future scientists predict hurts a very specific part of me, a part of me that I only first learned was there when I met my newborn son, 11 years ago, as he lay on the tray of the scale where the doctors had just weighed him and counted his fingers and toes.
The moment is wordless, and as mind-blowing as any drug trip I ever took.
Trust me. I’m a stoner. And Dave is re-evaluating:
Was I complicit in the damage? I remember every extra paper towel I’ve ever unspooled from the roll, and think about a tree falling in the Amazon, and then think about my son growing up in a gray, dying world – walking towards Kansas on potholed highways. Maybe while trying to protect his own son, like the father in The Road. Will he decide to have a kid? I have foisted upon him a decision even more difficult than my own. It’s all very depressing.
No. It’s hilarious. And curse those mahogany paper towels!
What if, and this is obviously a huge “if”, some young person, perhaps a certain 11-year-old in a Black Sabbath T-shirt (I highly doubt it, he can rarely remember to take his lunchbox out of his knapsack at the end of the day), perhaps someone who is not yet born, perhaps not yet conceived, is the one super-genius to figure out the invention that could save the planet?
For anyone not laughing themselves silly at Dave, the story ends with a line about his science:
This article was amended on Saturday 2 April 2016, to correctly identify the timing of the last mass extinction.
Madeleine McCann: a look at the missing child in the news.
The Sun (Page 15): “Maddie haunt get another 6 months”
News that £95,000 in “extra funding” has been earmarked to find the missing child “brings fresh hope to parents Kate and Gerry McCann”. We hear from “gran Susan Healy”, who says the police “must think it is worth continuing. We are very grateful.”
We also hear from the McCanns’ PR Clarence Mitchell, who says the family “have enough money left in the Madeleine Fund” to pay for private detectives.
The Mirror (Page 7): “Maddie hunt can carry on”
The money has comes from Home Secretary Theresa May, we’re told.
Daily Star (Page 14): “Six Months to Find Maddie”
Really? No. There is extra money for six months more police work. Then… Well, why with £12m invested in the investigation would police and the holders of the public purse baulk at another £100,000? This one will carry on.
The Sunday Express has set a deadline: “Six Months To Find Maddie.” And then..?
The paper says “the Home Office has set a budget for this year of just under £95,000, which will pay for only half a year of investigations by the team of four working on the case.” So, not six months to find the Madeleine McCann, then. Six months until the latest tranche of cash runs out. And then..?
Once the money runs out in the autumn, Scotland Yard will almost certainly shelve Operation Grange, their five-year review and investigation, which has cost close to £12million but has failed to bring anyone to justice or discover what happened to Madeleine.
The paper had us right up to “almost”. “Almost certainly” is another way of saying “definitely uncertainly”. We then get to the missing child’s parents:
Soon the child’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, face the emotionally daunting prospect of paying for a new private investigation with a war chest of some £750,000, raised largely through sales of Kate’s widely praised book on the enduring mystery.
They have paid for private detectives before. Having speculated on the money, the police hunt and the McCann’s state of mind, the Express has a few facts:
At the height of the Yard’s inquiries more than 30 detectives and support staff were working on Operation Grange, based at Belgravia police station in central London. When the inquiry was in full swing a team of specially trained officers carried out detailed searches of carefully chosen scrubland near where Madeleine was taken at Praia da Luz on the Algarve on May 3, 2007.
And that is it. Although we do get to hear from the Home Office:
A Home Office spokeswoman said: “Following a request from the Metropolitan Police Service, we have agreed to provide nearly £95,000 of further funding. The funding reflects the reduced scale of the investigation, which was announced by the force last year.”
Northern supermarket chain Morrisons thinks the Scouse accent is not good at selling its quality groceries. Casting Networks Inc was looking to recruit actors for a new Morrisons advert. They wanted “proper working class people”. They said Scousers need not apply. The ad went:
They should be proper working class people but not at all like the people from ‘Benefits Street’. They should NOT sound or look posh and we should skew towards northern accents. And nobody from Liverpool please.”
The ad also called for “quirks“, such as “bushy eyebrows and freckles“. So, no black faces, then?
But no matter for the race issue. A sharp-browed black actor can always go ‘Ginger Face’ and stick on some felt. It’s the ban on Liverpudlians that hurt. OneGuardian writer was outraged that la-di-da-lar Scouse actors were not good / too good for Morrisons.
The deplorable language used to stereotype different types of ‘working class’ people is pure class-based discrimination. The crass, gratuitous nature of the words jump out. Like being stopped in the street and hit with a tirade of puerile, outdated incoherence. Growing up against a backdrop of the Thatcherite “managed decline” of the city of Liverpool, I have plenty of personal experience of such nonsense. In my quest for a first job as a reporter, I ended up being interviewed for a news agency role. It went OK until the interviewer, as if struck by a paroxysm of offensiveness, blurted out: “Just one final thing … you don’t write the way you speak, do you?”
But surely the casting agency and Morrisons were not exercising their own prejudices, rather working under the market-research-backed premise their shoppers do not like the Scouse accent. And no lesser mind than Craig Brown has passed comment on Liverpool:
The city’s favourite dish is the so-called “Sarnie Sarnie” – two slices of bread placed between two further slices of bread… Sophisticated Liverpudlians order their “Sarnie Sarnies” deep-fried.
He advises honing the Liverpudlian accent by “gargling with raw potato skins three times a week”.
You can get those sarnies and spuds mentioned above in Morrisons. Although, the supermarket advises Liverpudlians to pay for them before leaving any of their stores…
Former BBC staffer and Newsnight journalist Paul Mason and Tory MP Ken Clarke are talking about the steel industry on BBC Newsnight. The one thing you can’t escape noticing is how often Mason gurns and interrupts. The other thing is that not so long ago Mason was presented to viewers as a unpartisan expert, Newsnight’sEconomics Editor giving it to us straight:
Glasgow police have issued a threat to everyone on twitter. If your tweet or Facebook post or online comment falls short of their guide, they will knock on your door and menace you. If they think your comment is “unnecessary”, unkind, anything less than utterly true, illegal – illegal words? – or hurtful – and they and the ‘victim’ will be the judge of what is and is not hurtful – they will visit you.
The ban on legal highs might be impossible. The Guardian says “the government’s blanket ban on legal highs that was due to come into effect on 6 April has been postponed for at least a month… The Psychoactive Substances Act, which has reached the statute book, has been delayed following claims that its current definition of a psychoactive substance is not enforceable by the police.”
The story goes that it’s tricky telling which substance is psychoactive. It’s not. It’s all of them. The WHO defines:
Psychoactive substances are substances that, when taken in or administered into one’s system, affect mental processes, e.g. cognition or affect. This term and its equivalent, psychotropic drug, are the most neutral and descriptive term for the whole class of substances, licit and illicit, of interest to drug policy. ‘Psychoactive’ does not necessarily imply dependence-producing, and in common parlance, the term is often left unstated, as in ‘drug use’ or ‘substance abuse’.
The paper adds:
The legislation aims to ban any substance intended for human consumption that is capable of producing a psychoactive effect, with a list of exemptions of substances in everyday use such as alcohol, nicotine and caffeine.
The exemptions might be termed as: stuff the legislators like to take.
Poppers, also known as alkyl nitrite, were excluded entirely from the legislation after the government’s advisory committee on the misuse of drugs ruled that it did not have a direct effect on the brain.
A Home Office spokesperson adds:
“The landmark Psychoactive Substances Act will fundamentally change the way we tackle these drugs and put an end to unscrupulous suppliers profiting from their trade. Our message is clear: offenders will face up to seven years in prison.”
Is the profit the thing they don’t like, or is it the drugs?
Local News of the Day deals with a social media nasty. The Mid Devon Gazette tells us:
Twitter profile slates BBC Radio Devon presenter and Butterleigh resident Simon Bates
A TWITTER account calling for BBC Radio Devon’s Simon Bates to stay on holiday for good has been set up by a passionate listener. The campaign started Tweeting on Monday, March 21 and has so far attracted 11 followers…
Eleven people read the “quite scathing” tweets of the sort you can see above. What proportion of Bates’ listeners that constitutes, we ‘re not told – but let’s assume it’s all of them. After all, it’s in the papers…
The Mail says Soo Kyung Bae has created “shocking THIGH GAP jewellery to highlight women’s ‘unhealthy obsession’ with super-skinny legs”.
Er, no, Daily Mail. Hanging a long pendant between a woman’s legs make her and you look a like a dick.
Looking like a dick is what happens when you get your news from the Metro. The jewellery is not real. It’s just a campaign to get people talking about ‘thigh gap’ and how bad it is to crave a different body not suited to your build. In other news, you can read in the Mail:
Click! Aberdeen man Ben Innes, 26, poses for a photo with a hijacker who used a fake suicide belt to take control of an Egyptian plane and hold him hostage.
An Egyptian hijacker who forced a domestic flight to land in Cyprus used a fake suicide belt, officials said. His motives remain unclear but the Cypriot president said the incident was not terrorism-related.
Can we rejoice in the news that “Footie paedo Adam Johnson ‘faces bloody razor torture’ in prison showers”? The Sun has heard that prisoners want to scar Johnson, the former Sunderland and England footballer jailed for sexually abusing an underage girl .
LAGS have warned shamed footie ace Adam Johnson faces being tortured with razors in the prison showers following his child sex conviction. The paedophile, 28, is reportedly on suicide watch at HM Prison Leeds as he begins a six-year sentence for grooming and sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl.
Torture and suicide are too good for him, eh. Of course, new prisoners are routinely place on suicide watch. As for the talk of Johnson being tortured inside a British prison, well, the source is unimpeachable:
One convicted killer warned the former England star against pulling any “millionaire strops” and urged him to get out of the sex offenders’ wing as quickly as possible if he wanted to avoid serious injury.
And, presumably, seek comfort in the company of murderers, thieves and budding jihadis?
Charles — who is nearing the end of a manslaughter sentence served in some of Britain’s toughest jails — …said: “They held him down, cut him across the nips, his face, his c**k and then one of the lads stuck a blade in his a**e.”
Nothing says you’re right-minded like sticking a knife in a man’s bum. But Charles has some better news for Johnson, who, given his interest in less usual sex acts, might consider such treatment tame, on a par with the stuff meted out to new recruits by Wimbledon FC’s self-styled ‘Crazy Gang’ or enduring an hour of Jimmy Bullard-style ‘banter’. Says Charles:
“He ain’t touched a baby or a ten-year-old but the longer he stays tucked up with that kind of scum the more suspicious other prisoners will get. Get on a normal wing, talk to a couple of the faces there and show them his papers and then just get on with it.
A shocking story on the Sun’s cover about a plot to steal a baby. Shantel Ullah, 20, says a teenager knocked on her front door posing as a social worker and tried to abduct son Dontae. Over pages 4 and 5 we read that Shantel handed the two-week-old child over but “snatched” him back when the smartly dressed teen began to act oddly.
The teenager then walked away.
We learn that the would-be kidnappers obtained Shantel’s details through a Facebook page offering new mums free baby clothes. And that the two girls age 17 and 18 have admitted “conspiring to kidnap Dontae and two other babies”. One, we learn, wanted a mixed-race bay to convince her Jamaican lover she had given birth to his son.
The pair pleaded guilty to conspiring to kidnap at Derby youth court. And they can’t be named because they are under age.
Let us pray for Acomb Parish Church, in York, where “Chris is Risen”.
Says Assistant Curate Ned Lunn: “The pastor at the Baptist Church is actually called Chris. He’s got to get up for a sunrise service at 6.30am on Easter Sunday. His predecessor didn’t manage to get up for the service last year.”
Big news. The Indy says “Jeremy Corbyn overtakes David Cameron in leadership satisfaction ratings”.
The Ipsos MORI poll showed Mr Corbyn up ten points and David Cameron down ten points after last week’s Budget
Corbyn is popular?
Mr Corbyn is now on net -11 while Mr Cameron is on net -25 with the pollster.
Phew! No, he’s not. Unpack your bag, Jews of Britain. Things will be ok for a while yet.
There has been speculation that Mr Corbyn’s satisfaction rating with the pollster – his highest with any firm – may also be exaggerated by Conservatives saying they are satisfied with what they perceive as his poor performance.
Who was polled?
Other pollsters ask different question formulations – including whether a leader is “doing a good job” – which would likely shed light on whether the shift represents a real move in support.
The boost for Mr Corbyn however comes amid a number of pollsters showing Labour drawing nearly level, level, or slightly above the Tories in voting intention.
A -11 rating for an Opposition leader after a divisive budget is a ‘boost’?
The Indy does not mention that George Osborne’s satisfaction ratings equal his worst ever following the budget. And the paper completely fails to mention that Nigel Farage is the real winner:
According to radical feminist theory, pornography serves to further the subordination of women by training its users, males and females alike, to view women as little more than sex objects over whom men should have complete control. Composite variables from the General Social Survey were used to test the hypothesis that pornography users would hold attitudes that were more supportive of gender nonegalitarianism than nonusers of pornography. Results did not support hypotheses derived from radical feminist theory.
Pornography users held more egalitarian attitudes—toward women in positions of power, toward women working outside the home, and toward abortion—than nonusers of pornography. Further, pornography users and pornography nonusers did not differ significantly in their attitudes toward the traditional family and in their self-identification as feminist. The results of this study suggest that pornography use may not be associated with gender nonegalitarian attitudes in a manner that is consistent with radical feminist theory.
So toxic is Donald Trump that even seeing his name reduces students to jellies. To Georgia, USA:
Emory University students say they are “in pain” and “afraid” after someone left pro-Donald Trump chalk messages on their Atlanta campus, according to the student newspaper. “I’m supposed to feel comfortable and safe” here,” The Emory Wheel quoted one unnamed student as saying. “But this man is being supported by students on our campus and our administration shows that they, by their silence, support it as well. … I don’t deserve to feel afraid at my school.”
The chalkings appeared overnight, saying “Trump 2016,” according to the newspaper. About 40 students held a protest demanding action from the administration, chanting “You are not listening! Come speak to us, we are in pain!”
That Emory comedy club. What a hoot. It is a parody, right? Wrong:
“I legitimately feared for my life,” Paula Camila Alarcon, a freshman at Emory who identifies as Latino, told The Daily Beast. “I thought we were having a KKK rally on campus. It was deliberate intimidation. Some of us were expecting shootings. We feared walking alone,” freshman Jonathan Peraza added.
College president Jim Wagner met with the students, who expressed anxiety that the writings were threats to their safety rather than political speech, considering Georgia’s Republican primary was held earlier this month.
“The students shared with me their concern that these messages were meant to intimidate rather than merely to advocate for a particular candidate, having appeared outside of the context of a Georgia election or campus campaign activity,” Wagner wrote in a university-wide email Tuesday. “During our conversation, they voiced their genuine concern and pain in the face of this perceived intimidation.”
Jim Wagner might be beyond parody. How the hell did he get a job in education?
You might see Adam Johnson, the footballer, as a deeply unpleasant oddity. Jailed for six years for sexual activity with an underage girl, Johnson represents nobody but himself. But his job sets an agenda in motion. The Mail leads with news that Johnson has “damaged the reputation of football”. Well, so says Players’ Union supremo Gordon Taylor. He says the football authorities have to ensure a player grooming underage girls for sex “doesn’t happen again”, as if some kind of vetting process can be enforced to ensure anyone who thinks of kicking a ball for a living doesn’t think it ok to wilfully break the law. You might suppose the law was equally applied to the mundane and the celebrated, pointing to Johnson’s incarceration as evidence of just that. But footballs’ leading lights have bought into the top-down bilge that footballers are societal role models whose actions are aped by their fans.
Sticking with the Mail, Jeff Powell says the FA should “take back his caps”. Powell reasons that if a priest can be de-frocked, then a footballer can be un-capped. In Powell’s head a man who gives moral and divine guidance is on a par with a man who can pass a ball in a straight line. Wow, indeed. And then marvel at how Johnson’s name can be erased by taking away evidence that he ever played for England. The record books will show that when England defeated Switzerland 3-1 in 2010, the Three Lions fielded just 10 players and one goal was scored by a ghost, a non-person. Spooky stuff.
Over paged 4 and 5, we learn of things Johnson was not jailed for: looking at porn on a site called ‘Nice Young Teens’; having an STD; engaging in a number of “seedy trysts”; looking at animal porn; and liking sex on the bonnet of his Range Rover. The Express has more, telling readers how Johnson “scoured the internet for twisted animal porn” – is any animal porn non-twisted, of the straight-up sort? – and engaged in “vile discussions branding women ‘slags'”.
That’s the Express, which also owns the Daily Star. In today’s paper, readers are invited to dial a number to chat with “HORNY TEEN GIRLS”.
Adam Johnson is a depraved criminal who knowingly broke the law then lied and lied and lied, forcing his young victim to endure prolonged pain and humiliation. He is not a role model. He is not a typical footballer, any more than he is typical Sunderland-born male, father, porn watcher or tabloid reader. In labelling Johnson a “stain on the game” – typical of “an ugly side of the game rapidly losing its beautiful image” – the Mirror gives Johnson an excuse. ‘It’s not me, guv. It’s football wot made me do it.’
There is no hard evidence to support the idea that football culture makes individuals more likely to commit crime, sexually abuse minors and rape. Johnson’s crimes were not understandable responses to the prevailing culture around him, to his life at the office. He can’t get off that lightly. Framing his crimes as part of some perceived wider sickness in football gives him an excuse. He has none.
Johnson made a conscious choice to have sexual contact with a girl below the age of consent. His job did not force him into it. His professional peers did not present sexual abuse as an initiation. He represents no-one but himself. Football is innocent.