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.
Peter Hain is preparing to admit to the Electoral Commission that he has failed to declare more than £100,000 in donations to his campaign for Labour’s deputy leadership.
It is understood that there are almost 20 donations that his team failed to declare, in breach of the rules for party political elections.
The scale of the under-reporting – more than half the total income received by the Hain campaign – will shock many party members and raise questions as to how such a massive apparent oversight occurred.
An oversight. And these people make the rules…
While “arts chiefs” scratch their heads and rub their chins, the Sun positions Keeley Hazel on the vacant site.
Oddly, Keely’s views on the matter are not know, her relocation from drafty photographers studio to public exhibit done by popular demand.
But what of the alternatives to Keeley’s flesh and flesh Britannia? A visit to the Fourth Plinth website reveals:
Tracey Emin’s “Something for the Future” – For some years Tracey Emin has been interested in the social behaviour of meerkats, small mammals that live together in an egalitarian order in the Kalahari Desert, southern Africa. She has noticed that ‘whenever Britain is in crisis or, as a nation, is experiencing sadness and loss (for example, after Princess Diana’s funeral), the next programme on television is Meerkats United’. Emin proposes to place a sculpture of a small group of meerkats on the empty plinth as a symbol of unity and safety”
As you were, Keeley…
PAUL Efthemios Tsongas won the New Hampshire primary in 1992.
TAX in France: “Nicolas Sarkozy yesterday launched a far-reaching shake-up of French television, proposing to tax -commercial operators in order to fund a high-quality public broadcaster that would promote the country’s cultural and economic -’renaissance.
“The French president said at his first full press conference at the Elysée palace since his election seven months ago that advertising on the nation’s two public television stations could be scrapped.
“Instead, funding would be generated by a tax on mobile phone operators and internet service providers, as well as a levy on the advertising revenues of commercial channels.”
So the commercial channels will have to pay to fund their competitors? Genius! Do Tv execs burn cars?
BODY heat to warm buildings in Sweden. The human hampster wheel:
A Swedish company plans to harness the body heat generated by thousands of commuters scrambling to catch their trains at Stockholm’s main railway station and use it for heating a nearby office building.
Real estate firm Jernhusen AB believes the system can provide about 15 percent of the heating needed for a 13-storey building being built next to the Central Station in the Swedish capital…
About 250,000 people pass through the station every day, warming the air inside with their body heat.
Sundholm said the idea is to have large ventilators in the station suck in the warm air and use it to heat up water, which will then be shipped through pipes to the new office building.
Plans for London’s Tube stricken, airless passengers to warm Norwegians are well advanced – although the risk of burning flesh cannot be ruled out…
TO the Indian call centre, sink of depair and hopeless phone calls:
Researchers estimated that heart disease, strokes and diabetes would cost India more than £100 billion in lost productivity over the next 10 years.
Staff in call centres dealing with customers in Britain say they have been shocked at the ferocity of the verbal attacks they encounter.
Nidhi Aggarwal, 24, said she had never heard some of the insulting language used – including the word “Paki” as a term of abuse – before she began taking orders for a British catalogue company, which routes its customers’ calls to a Bangalore call centre.
“At first, I thought I’d get used to it, but it’s been a year now and it’s not getting easier,” she said.
“On its own, maybe I could cope with the abuse, but there’s also the stress of finishing calls in one minute and hardly having time for breaks.”
Miss Aggarwal, an English graduate, said she planned to quit, tired of wishing customers a good morning only to hear: “Oh, I’m through to India am I? Put me through to someone who can understand English, you f****** cow.”
The Indian call centre is the eight layer ofg hell. The ninth layer is the Dell Indian call centre…
THERE will be no casino at the Earls Court Exhibition Centre.
Planning inspector Roger Brown denied the developer’s appeal, warning that traffic caused by the casino could have caused “unacceptable noise and disturbance for neighbours”.These are the people who live near Earl’s Court, a venue for shows like The Chemical Brothers in concert and – oh, do get this! – The International Casino Exhibition…
Who needs the aggro. Stay in. Play online…
ASKS the BBC website: “Are we all to blame for Britney?”
The question is asked by “Health reporter, BBC News”.
For more Britney health issues contact your GP… Or Dr Phil…
NOT all casinos in Las Vegas are non-lit flesh pits with sticky carpet and two-fur-one lobster.
Not all of them are so fortunate.
In Vegas a floor manager is watching over all 16 slot machines. As the NY Times reports, for eight hours, Station Casinos opened a beige 40-by-10-foot trailer on a vacant 26-acre plot of land about six miles east of the Strip.
There is an outside toilet, on wheels. It is not plush.
As the paper notes: “The sole purpose was to comply with a state law that requires public gambling to occur on a property for at least one shift every two years in order for the landowner to retain the valuable zoning designation needed to conduct wagering.
“It just has to be open to the public,” says Lori Nelson, a spokeswoman for Station Casinos, which owns 16 casinos in Nevada and one in California. “You don’t need to promote it. You don’t need to really have people gamble here. But you do need to have that option.”
And hardly any one came to play. Indeed, the biggest payout on the bank of video poker and blackjack machines was $2.50.
The showgirl – one Wilma Harkins, 57 – wore an Anorak…
SHANE Warne is going to the World Series poker championship in Las Vegas.
Sadly, for Hampshire cricket fans – yes, you Doris and Lester Biggins – Shane will not be available for the club’s Twenty20 Cup campaign.
Says Shane: “Now that I am retired from international cricket – in fact all cricket in Australia – I am gradually moving into other areas.”
More cameo appearances on Neighbours? More adverts for nylon hair?
Says Warne: “There is a deal in the pipeline with a poker company that will involve playing in certain events through the year. I can fit what I do around the cricket.”
But what of the cricket?
“The World Series takes place in Las Vegas at the same time as the Twenty20 Cup,” he says. “I definitely want to go to Las Vegas and I have not played Twenty20 for the past few seasons. It has always come at an ideal time to take a break. I am 38 and, after 20 or so years in the game, I need a rest at some point during a six-month campaign.”
A rest…in cricket? Isn’t that what English players call fielding?
TIMMY notes: Sometimes the typo is simply too, too perfect.
The new offence of causing death by carless or inconsiderate driving…
New Hampshire Thought for the Day, by Dizzy:
The question today is not “Is America ready for a female President?” it’s “Is America ready to let two families execute political sovereignty for over 20 years?”
Two households, both alike in politics,
In fair DC, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where political blood makes political hands unclean.
GOLDMAN Sachs workers taunted in New York:
You know Merrill and Morgan and Lehman and Citi
J.P. and Wamu and Bofa and Barclay’s
But do you recall?
The most famous i-bank of all?
Goldman the two-faced i-bank
Gave out very shoddy loans
And if you ever saw them
You’d wonder how its profits rose
All of the other i-banks
Lost billions on the subprime game
How did that crooked Goldman
Come away with all the fame?
Because it knew how bad it was
And it stoked the flames
At the same time that it made bad loans
It bet that folks would lose their homes
Right now it’s bonus season
And we’re shouting “don’t you see!
Goldman the two-faced i-bank
Pay now or pay in history!”
Frosty the Goldman
Frosty the Goldman
Was a very crafty soul
With a gilded pipe and a lot of dough
And a heart made out of coal
Frosty the Goldman
Was too smart to lose they say
He made awful loans
But he sure did know
How to swindle us for pay
There must have been some magic
In that goldman pipe he smoked
For when he held it to his lips
He made bank and we went broke
Frosty the Goldman
Was as rich as rich can be
But still he’d say
“Make the poor folks pay!
And bring their homes right back to me”
Frosty the Goldman
Knew there had to be a way
To boost his funds
At the end of the run
On the backs of the subprime prey
He plundered and pillaged
Like a felon on the lam
Running here and there all around De Beers
Saying catch me if you can
He led us down the road to debt
And before the market dropped
He even bet we’d lose our homes
And now we holler STOP!
Frosty the Goldman
It is soon your bonus day
Stop telling us lies
We can rhyme “securitize”
And you sure as hell can pay
thumpety thump thump
thumpety thump thump
Look at Goldman go
thumpety thump thump
thumpety thump thump
Give up your dirty dough
IS traffic on a candidate’s website a guide to chances of success? If it is Barack Obama has the presidentcy in the bag.
“Stranded polar bears, melting glaciers, dried-out rivers and flooding on a horrific scale – these were the iconic images of 2007. So who is most able to stop this destruction to our world? A Guardian panel, taking nominations from key environmental figures, met to compile a list of our ultimate green heroes.”
A panel will save the world. Hurrah! This is superheroes by committee. Super camel!
Or Ken Livingstone,
Peter Garrett, Politician – “the former punk lead singer of the disbanded Australian rock group Midnight Oil, who continued his weird journey from radical muso to establishment politician when he was appointed Australia’s environment minister in November. He began with gigs outside Exxon offices and protests at the Sydney Olympics about Aboriginal rights, and found himself labelled a turncoat by some at the election.”
He was nominated here by Jonathon Porritt, for being “instrumental in shaping the Australian Labour party’s climate change and environment policies”.
Garrett isn’t permitted to speak on the subject of climate change. Looks like we’re doomed.
Al Gore – the man who lost
THE Bali bombers want to choose the manner of their punishment:
A lawyer for three Islamic militants convicted for their role in the 2002 Bali bombings says the mode of their upcoming execution violates Islamic law.
Their lawyer, Achmad Michdan, says the men prefer to be executed by beheading rather than firing squad, which is Indonesia’s normal mode of execution.
The men are scheduled to be executed in the next few weeks unless they take advantage of a 30-day period to request presidential clemency. They have already indicated that they will not ask President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to grant them a lighter sentence.
Should they have any say in the matter, having murdered so many?
AS reported: “Portuguese prosecutors have begun moves to reinterview witnesses in the case of missing Madeleine McCann.
“It is believed that they may want British police to speak to seven friends who dined with Madeleine’s parents on the night she was last seen.”
The spokesman for the McCanns, Clarence Mitchell, told BBC News 24 that if the reports were correct the family would welcome them.
“We have been saying for a long time now that, frankly, it’s about time that the police came to reinterview anyone they need to reinterview,” he said.
“We feel that any inconsistencies the police are concerned about in any original statements from Gerry and Kate’s friends can easily be cleared up through these reinterviews.
“And the sooner it happens the better, because we believe it will lead the police to realise there is no case against Gerry and Kate and it will lead to them being eliminated and their arguido [suspect] status lifted.”
THE Lyrical Terrorist has a pen pal Sohail Qureshi:
A man in e-mail contact with so-called “lyrical terrorist” Samina Malik has been sentenced to four-and-a-half years after admitting three terror charges.
Al Qaeda-trained Sohail Qureshi, 30, was arrested in October 2006 as he prepared to board a Pakistan flight at Heathrow to fight overseas.
The Old Bailey heard he planned to take military-style equipment on board.
The court heard Qureshi wrote in an email: “Pray that I kill many, brother. Revenge, revenge, revenge.”
After the case a senior investigating officer described Qureshi as “serious terrorist” who hoped to kill many people.
In was revealed during the case that Qureshi, from east London, contacted Heathrow worker Malik to ask about the airport’s security procedures.
Malik, a WH Smith employee, was given a suspended jail sentence in November 2007 after being convicted of storing a library of material for terrorism.
Prosecutor Jonathan Sharp told the court Qureshi had planned a “two to three-week operation” in either Pakistan, Afghanistan or Pakistan’s Waziristan region after he landed in Islamabad.
He was arrested at Heathrow with £9,000 in cash, a night-sight, two metal batons and a computer hard drive, Mr Sharp added.
The court had also been told that Qureshi intended to take two sleeping bags, two rucksacks, medical supplies and CD-Roms on board the flight in October 2006.
Mr Sharp added: “Sohail Qureshi is a dedicated supporter of Islamist extremism.”
Qureshi admitted preparing for terrorism under Section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2006 – making him the first person to be convicted of new laws against planning terrorism…
Are we winning?
BRITNEY Spears has… a flat tyre…
Updates on all major news networks…
DEBT: “A man was left deaf, blind and brain-damaged after his young wife spiked his drinks with antifreeze because she had run up debts and wanted to claim against his £50,000 life assurance policy, a court was told yesterday.
“Kate Knight, 28, set out to murder her husband, Lee, 37, after taking out bank loans and remortgaging the family home, Stafford Crown Court was told. She considered giving him an overdose of Ecstasy or iron tablets before settling on antifreeze, which contains the poisonous chemical ethylene glycol, it is alleged.”
Knight denies attempted murder. The trial continues.
“THE gambler to be found regularly propping up the roulette table at 4am probably couldn’t care less about the quality of the croupier’s conversation.”
So says the Guardian. And it is wrong. At 4am, the lone punter may be hanging about with the sole intent of chatter. If you don’t want to talk to the croupier, play online.
But: “There has been a sea-change in the kind of people we are looking for,” says Kevin Graham, technical training manager for Grosvenor Casinos.
As noted: “Entertaining will therefore be very much on the agenda at the new National Gaming Academy, a venture just set up by three colleges. Its mission: to supply a rapidly evolving casino industry with a new breed of multi-tasking croupiers.”
Help! Who wants a croupier who can juggle, speak languages and boil an egg while dealing the cards and French polishing the chairs? What punter wants a croupier who looks smarter than them?
The Guardian goes on: “The new academy – a partnership between Blackpool and the Fylde, Greenwich Community, and North Warwickshire and Hinckley Colleges – will offer what is effectively a national curriculum for croupiers and other casino staff.”
Geoff Pine, Greenwich College principal, says: “They are looking for a rigorous quality-controlled country-wide training structure with qualifications that support the industry and with an emphasis on entertainment and social responsibility.”
Come again? Perhaps you need to be one of the new breed of croupiers to understand the plan, let alone how it translates in actual action?
“Students on the course will learn as much about the importance of customer service and keeping the punters entertained as they will about roulette terminology and spotting card-counting ‘cheats’ at the blackjack table,” says the paper.
Plus ca change. But what is this entertainment the paper speaks of, or threatens? We still do not know.
Colleen McLoughlin, the academy’s coordinator and a lecturer in casino operations management at Blackpool, says: “Roulette is like the maths and English of our curriculum, because all the skills you gain in learning to deal the game are transferable to all the other games.”
Speaking English and knowing all the numbers up to and including 36. Is this what passes for extra entertainment? Of course, the croupier’s job is much more. But does remembering a face and smiling constitute entertainment?
“Ulrike Meinhof was a much more interesting, much more multi-faceted person than I used to think,” Ditfurth told DW-RADIO. “She was a woman who would have had a huge amount of opportunities and prospects — if only she’d had the good fortune to have grown up somewhere other than Germany.” Source.
There can have been few better places to be alive and in early middle age at the time Meinhof decided to become a terrorist. Africa? South America? The Soviet Bloc? China? The Middle East? Indeed, the BRD was such an awful mother to Meinhof that it allowed her to take a brace of degrees and be a full time student for some years before editing a magazine of the extreme left (Konkret), that continues to be published. Frau Ditfurth is an alumna too….
More, much more, on the Baader-Meinhof gang / Red Army Faction here.
Footnote – I *know* that the Raspberry Reich, or more correctly, das Himbeere Reich, was a dismissive term used by the extreme left for the Federal Republic, but it has proved extraordinarily difficult to pin down a reference because every possible form of googling turns up details on a film of the same name that is ‘A critique of terrorist chic from pop culture maverick Bruce LaBruce‘. If anyone can confirm the reference, I will be profoundly grateful.
A LOOK at Road Pricing, with Dizzy:
Road pricing? Is it on? Is it off? Who actually knows? Some people might remeber that at Labour Conference, the Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly, said that road pricing was “inevitable”A month later it was reported that the Government had U-turned on the subject.
For a policy that is supposedly dead it’s interesting though that since 2004 the Department of Transport has spent “£6.5 million on consultancy contracts including professional advice on possible technical designs, system architecture and cost modelling” and that “[a]nother £1.0 million is currently contractually committed through to the end of 2007-08″.
Wouldn’t be anything to do with ITIS Holdings that company that has the former Transport minister, Stephen Ladyman, who bigged up road pricing, consulting for it now? Worth noting at this point though that former MP and London Mayoral candidate, Steve Norris is a non-executive director of ITIS. NOt sure how that sqaures with his opposition to road pricing but there you go.
The point is though is that the DfT is spending quite a lot of money on a policy that it has been applied will not be happening. On, off, on again? Or never really off, just postponed to the right politically expeident moment?