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.
SANTA Clause and an (Alan) Partidge In a pear tree: “A hotel chain is targeting redundant Father Christmases across the UK to fill vacancies for jobs as managers.
“Travelodge said it aimed to recruit people who had been working as a Santa because they were likely to have the skills they were looking for, including good communications, strong leadership qualities and motivation.”
IT’S WAR: “JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel said on Saturday it had recently seized a truck carrying chemicals used to make explosives hidden in bags marked as European Union aid for the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
The army said 6.5 tonnes of potassium nitrate were in bags marked as sugar from the European Union for Palestinians in the coastal enclave.
“We are looking into this report,” said an EU official in Israel. “If it is found to be accurate, this is an illegal act that should be condemned.”
NATALIE Portman has put her staunch animal rights views to good use – by designing a collection of vegan-friendly shoes.
Otherwise known as flip-flops
AN IRAQ lie: “GARLAND, Texas (AP) — An essay that won a 6-year-old girl four tickets to a Hannah Montana concert began with the powerful line: “My daddy died this year in Iraq.”
While gripping, it was not true — and now the girl may lose her tickets after her mom acknowledged to contest organizers it was all a lie…
“We did the essay and that’s what we did to win,” Priscilla Ceballos, the mother, said in an interview with Dallas TV station KDFW. “We did whatever we could do to win.”
She had identified the soldier as Sgt. Jonathon Menjivar, but the Department of Defense has no record of anyone with that name dying in Iraq. Caulfield said the mother has admitted to the deception.
At least she got ticket. What did Tony Blair get for his porkies?
THE Government has produced a document entitled “Confident, Capable and Creative: Supporting Boys’ Achievements“.
Images and ideas gleaned from the media are common starting points in boys’ play and may involve characters with special powers or weapons. Adults can find this type of play particularly challenging and have a natural instinct to stop it. This is not necessary as long as practitioners help the boys to understand and respect the rights of other children and to take responsibility for the resources and environment. As the The Early Years Foundation Stage states: “Value play which is based on characters, such as superheroes who may mean a lot to children, even if you do not appreciate them yourself!”
So – get this – the Government has worked out that chilren enjoyed playing children’s games. More studies to follow…
BENAZIR Bhutto is dead. Murdered. Killed by her car’s car roof. These pictures are of X-Rays that the Pakistan government has released. The powers that be says the gunshots missed Bhutto.
Death by sunroof…
DAVID Hicks is an Australian convicted by the United States of supporting terrorism. He has been freed from a prison in Adelaide.
David Hicks, 32, was captured with Taleban forces in Afghanistan in 2001, and spent five years at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.
His father Terry Hicks describes his son’s religious hobby:
“He took an interest in something and it went wrong.”
A hobby. An innocent hobby. As the BBC notes: “Hicks, a convert to Islam who later renounced the faith, admitted training with al-Qaeda and meeting its leader Osama bin Laden, whom he described as ‘lovely’, according to police evidence presented in court”
“There’ll be some sort of apology I suppose for what he’s supposed to have done and what people believe he’s done – he’ll cover that side of it”
As Tim Blair says: “Feel the sincerity!”
David Hicks has been released from prison … A small crowd of mostly elderly supporters were outside the prison as Hicks left, many holding banners reading ‘This could have been your son’ and ‘David Hicks is no threat’.
It could have been your son – had your son trained to kill with Muslim fundamentalists. Or if your son was interested in making some money:
A MILLION-DOLLAR international bidding war is set to erupt for rights to David Hicks’ story.
Australian and US media organisations are expected to fight it out for interviews, book deals and movie rights.
While legislation prevents Hicks from personally profiting from his story, his father Terry has reportedly indicated the family had been advised on possible loopholes in the laws.
Crime can pay…
BENAZIR BHUTTO is dead – and soon you can buy her latest book: Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West.
AS the NY Post plugs: “Book publisher HarperCollins, which just received the manuscript for Benazir Bhutto’s upcoming book, is now moving quickly to get it on the shelves by February following yesterday’s assassination of the former Pakistani prime minister…
“HarperCollins, which like The Post, is owned by News Corp., signed up the book for an advance estimated to be around $75,000 shortly before she returned to Pakistan in October after years of living in exile”
Someone will profit from Bhutto’s murder…
THE LA Times notes: “Clinton’s “don’t ask” policy
“As she races through Iowa in the days before next week’s caucuses, Hillary Clinton is taking few chances. She tells crowds that it’s their turn to “pick a president,’’ but over the last two days she has not invited them to ask her any questions.
“Before the brief Christmas break, the New York senator had been setting aside time after campaign speeches to hear from the audience. Now when she’s done speaking, her theme songs blare from loudspeakers, preventing any kind of public Q&A.
“She was no more inviting when a television reporter approached her after a rally on Thursday and asked if she was “moved’’ by Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. Clinton turned away without answering.
“Her daughter, Chelsea, had the same reaction when a reporter approached her with a question.”
They ask Chelsea questions. On what?
DIZZY looks at Gordon Brown’s New Years Honours List - “Judgement? What judgement?”
You can’t beat a good Saturday morning with a New Years Honours List to browse over and make the steam come out of your ears. This is especially useful if you can bottle the steam up and use it to heat up the milk for your double espresso latte. Then you’re able to get slightly more agitated due to the caffeine and the cycle can start again. But wait, I digress, I was getting angry and then I thought about coffee.
Today’s New Years Honours list has, quite possibly, some of the most absurd people receiving honours. OK, the actors and TV stars are too be expected. I mean come on, you didn’t really believe that Gordon Brown rejected celebrity culture did you? A man with the charm, wit and sophistication of a shriveled up orange peel reject the opportunity to make some fake friends? Never!
Just take a look at that list for a second though. First up we have Tom Kelly, Blair’s former spokesman. The man who actively smeared a Government scientist who later went on to commit suicide?** A blatant pay-off in the hope that Kelly won’t write or start briefing about the days Brown was in Number 11? Also receiving a gong is the CEO of the UK Debt Management Office at the Treasury. So what’s that for then? Ensuring the country is hocked to the eyeballs or that the population is, or both?
The Deputy CEO of the Border and Immigration Agency, Ken Sutton, gets an honour along with two other colleagues. Yes that’s right. Top men at an department in charge of immigration at a time when illegal immigrants have been employed as security guards at the Home Office have been given honours. I would try to satirise it but like so many things the Government does these days it is impossible because it is so absurd.
Not only that, the Director of the Child Benefit and Tax Credit Office at HMRC has received an honour. I know, I know, you’re screaming with laughter at the sheer bloody insanity that a man in charge of an office that has been a complete failure in tax credits, whilst also losing the bank details of 25 million people is given a prize for doing a good job. Like I said, beyond satire.
No doubt over the next few days more details about some of the awards will emerge as bloggers and journalists pour over the list looking for possible “Cash for Honours” stories. The most amazing thing for me is that the judgement of Gordon Brown is so poor that he’s put people on the list from departments that have been involved in massive scandals in the past few months.
When you put it against the decision to airbrush out the worst bits of the past few months on the Downing Street website you really do get a picture of a man that is totally flawed.
* Apologies to oranges everywhere for comparing their skin to the Prime Minister, it was uncalled for.
** Note that I am accepting the official verdict in the face of know actual evidence to the contrary. 9/11 Truthers beware. Do not start commenting you will be slapped.
THE sunroof killed Benazir Bhutto. Really. It’s all here
WHEN Santa got stuck up the chimney: “Police said Friday they were waiting to question a man who had to be rescued by firefighters after he got stuck in the chimney of an Australian outback pub.
“Officers believe the man — too late to be making a Christmas delivery — may have been an incompetent burglar who got wedged into the tight spot as he tried to break into the premises.
“Firefighters took about 90 minutes to free him from the chimney of the Gapview Hotel bar in Alice Springs after staff heard his moans early Friday morning. He is thought to have been stuck for more than 10 hours.
“Alice Springs fire station officer Mark James said the rescue was ‘unusual”.
CAN you make this up? No: “A church and Christian newspaper in Malaysia are suing the government after it decreed that the word ‘Allah’ can only be used by Muslims.
“In the Malay language ‘Allah’ is used to mean any god, and Christians say they have used the term for centuries.”
“A spokesman for the Herald, the newspaper of the Catholic Church in Malaysia, said a legal suit was filed after they received repeated official warnings that the newspaper could have its license revoked if it continued to use the word.
“We are of the view that we have the right to use the word ‘Allah’,” said editor Rev Lawrence Andrew.”
I have directly observed how more and more Iraqis have grown to hate al Qaeda as much as Americans do. Al Qaeda has lost all credibility there, both from a religious standpoint as well as strategically. Even Western media seems to be gradually awakening to the realization that al Qaeda press releases on the topic of Iraq are about as well-informed as the post-invasion rantings of Baghdad Bob.
VALERIE Begue is Miss France:
PARIS (AP) — Miss France 2008 will keep her crown, despite racy photos that appeared recently in a gossip magazine, but will not compete in the Miss World or Miss Universe pageants.
Valerie Begue, 22, will not be stripped of the title she won Dec. 8, but will not be allowed to take part in upcoming international competitions, Miss France organizers said Friday.
Begue described the outcome as “a compromise which satisfies all parties.”
The pageant’s criteria stipulates that candidates must “never have posed or exhibited (themselves) in dubious outfits or poses, partially or totally nude.”
Want to see a picture? Here…
WHO killed Benazir Bhiutto? Andrew McCarthy: Killed by the real Pakistan.
Whether we get round to admitting it or not, in Pakistan, our quarrel is with the people. Their struggle, literally, is jihad. For them, freedom would mean institutionalizing the tyranny of Islamic fundamentalism. They are the same people who, only a few weeks ago, tried to kill Benazir Bhutto on what was to be her triumphant return to prominence — the symbol, however dubious, of democracy’s promise. They are the same people who managed to kill her today. Today, no surfeit of Western media depicting angry lawyers railing about Musharraf — as if he were the problem — can camouflage that fact.
In Pakistan, it is the regime that propounds Western values, such as last year’s reform of oppressive, Sharia-based Hudood laws, which made rape virtually impossible to prosecute — a reform enacted despite furious fundamentalist rioting that was, shall we say, less well covered in the Western press. The regime, unreliable and at times infuriating, is our only friend. It is the only segment of Pakistani society capable of confronting militant Islam — though its vigor for doing so is too often sapped by its own share of jihadist sympathizers.
Yet, we’ve spent two months pining about its suppression of democracy — its instinct not further to empower the millions who hate us. For the United States, the question is whether we learn nothing from repeated, inescapable lessons that placing democratization at the top of our foreign policy priorities is high-order folly.
The transformation from Islamic society to true democracy is a long-term project. It would take decades if it can happen at all. Meanwhile, our obsessive insistence on popular referenda is naturally strengthening — and legitimizing — the people who are popular: the jihadists. Popular elections have not reformed Hamas in Gaza or Hezbollah in Lebanon. Neither will they reform a place where Osama bin Laden wins popular opinion polls and where the would-be reformers are bombed and shot at until they die.
We don’t have the political will to fight the war on terror every place where jihadists work feverishly to kill Americans. And, given the refusal of the richest, most spendthrift government in American history to grow our military to an appropriate war footing, we may not have the resources to do it.
But we should at least stop fooling ourselves. Jihadists are not going to be wished away, rule-of-lawed into submission, or democratized out of existence. If you really want democracy and the rule of law in places like Pakistan, you need to kill the jihadists first. Or they’ll kill you, just like, today, they killed Benazir Bhutto.
The interior ministry says the mastermind is one Baitullah Mehsud, an “al-Qaeda leader”.
And how did she die? Shot? No. Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema says Bhutto hit her head on the handle of her car’s sun roof.
More to follow…
Death By Sunroof:
Says the Telrgraph: As hundreds of thousands mourned the murdered opposition leader, the country’s Interior Ministry claimed she had died from hitting her vehicle’s sunroof when she tried to duck after a suicide attack.
“Brigadier Javed Cheema, a ministry spokesman, said Miss Bhutto had died from a head wound she sustained when she smashed against the sunroof’s lever as she tried to shelter inside the car.”
Says Cheema: “The lever struck near her right ear and fractured her skull.”
Says Farooq Naik, Miss Bhutto’s top lawyer and a senior official in her Pakistan People’s Party: “It is baseless. It is a pack of lies. Two bullets hit her, one in the abdomen and one in the head. It was a serious security lapse.”
Who fitted the sunroof?
LILY Allen is to open the Harrod’s winter sale. Look out for her quotes..
LIBEL laws: “Martin Stabe points to another legal story that is getting too little coverage here, with links to a news story and a FindLaw analysis about a New York court refusing to protect an American author from a UK “libel tourism” judgment over a book that sold a mere 23 copies in England.
“What’s profoundly frightening about this is that we in America could find ourselves subject to the UK’s libel and privacy laws, which throw free speech to the wolves in defense of privacy.”
AS reported: “Three people were taken to hospital with serious burns after a gas-powered fondue set exploded.
“The emergency services were called to Shedfield, Southampton, after reports that hot oil had exploded, injuring six people on Thursday evening.
“A 15-year-old girl and a man and woman in their early 40s suffered “very serious injuries” on their hands, faces and arms.
“Another three people sustained minor injuries in the incident.”
Horrible. Who the hell eats fondue?
GEORGE Carlin’s monologue in the Supreme Court case of FCC v. Pacifica Foundation – as prepared by the Federal Communications Commission. This appears in light of the Catherine Tate article on her Christmas swearing contest:
Aruba-du, ruba-tu, ruba-tu. I was thinking about the curse words and the swear words, the cuss words and the words that you can’t say, that you’re not supposed to say all the time, ['cause] words or people into words want to hear your words. Some guys like to record your words and sell them back to you if they can, (laughter) listen in on the telephone, write down what words you say. A guy who used to be in Washington knew that his phone was tapped, used to answer, Fuck Hoover, yes, go ahead. (laughter) Okay, I was thinking one night about the words you couldn’t say on the public, ah, airwaves, um, the ones you definitely wouldn’t say, ever, [']cause I heard a lady say bitch one night on television, and it was cool like she was talking about, you know, ah, well, the bitch is the first one to notice that in the litter Johnie right (murmur) Right. And, uh, bastard you can say, and hell and damn so I have to figure out which ones you couldn’t and ever and it came down to seven but the list is open to amendment, and in fact, has been changed, uh, by now, ha, a lot of people pointed things out to me, and I noticed some myself. The original seven words were, shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits. Those are the ones that will curve your spine, grow hair on your hands and (laughter) maybe, even bring us, God help us, peace without honor (laughter) um, and a bourbon. (laughter) And now the first thing that we noticed was that word fuck was really repeated in there because the word motherfucker is a compound word and it’s another form of the word fuck. (laughter) You want to be a purist it doesn’t really — it can’t be on the list of basic words. Also, cocksucker is a compound word and neither half of that is really dirty. The word — the half sucker that’s merely suggestive (laughter) and the word cock is a half-way dirty word, 50% dirty — dirty half the time, depending on what you mean by it. (laughter) Uh, remember when you first heard it, like in 6th grade, you used to giggle. And the cock crowed three times, heh (laughter) the cock — three times. It’s in the Bible, cock in the Bible. (laughter) And the first time you heard about a cock-fight, remember — What? Huh? naw. It ain’t that, are you stupid? man. (laughter, clapping) It’s chickens, you know, (laughter) Then you have the four letter words from the old Anglo-Saxon fame. Uh, shit and fuck. The word shit, uh, is an interesting kind of word in that the middle class has never really accepted it and approved it. They use it like, crazy but it’s not really okay. It’s still a rude, dirty, old kind of gushy word. (laughter) They don’t like that, but they say it, like, they say it like, a lady now in a middle-class home, you’ll hear most of the time she says it as an expletive, you know, it’s out of her mouth before she knows. She says, Oh shit oh shit, (laughter) oh shit. If she drops something, Oh, the shit hurt the broccoli. Shit. Thank you. (footsteps fading away) (papers ruffling)
Read it! (from audience)
Shit! (laughter) I won the Grammy, man, for the comedy album. Isn’t that groovy? (clapping, whistling) (murmur) That’s true. Thank you. Thank you man. Yeah. (murmur) (continuous clapping) Thank you man. Thank you. Thank you very much, man. Thank, no, (end of continuous clapping) for that and for the Grammy, man, [']cause (laughter) that’s based on people liking it man, yeh, that’s ah, that’s okay man. (laughter) Let’s let that go, man. I got my Grammy. I can let my hair hang down now, shit. (laughter) Ha! So! Now the word shit is okay for the man. At work you can say it like crazy. Mostly figuratively, Get that shit out of here, will ya? I don’t want to see that shit anymore. I can’t cut that shit, buddy. I’ve had that shit up to here. I think you’re full of shit myself. (laughter) He don’t know shit from Shinola. (laughter) you know that? (laughter) Always wondered how the Shinola people feel about that (laughter) Hi, I’m the new man from Shinola. (laughter) Hi, how are ya? Nice to see ya. (laughter) How are ya? (laughter) Boy, I don’t know whether to shit or wind my watch. (laughter) Guess, I’ll shit on my watch. (laughter) Oh, the shit is going to hit de fan. (laughter) Built like a brick shit-house. (laughter) Up, he’s up shit’s creek. (laughter) He’s had it. (laughter) He hit me, I’m sorry. (laughter) Hot shit, holy shit, tough shit, eat shit, (laughter) shit-eating grin. Uh, whoever thought of that was ill. (murmur laughter) He had a shit-eating grin! He had a what? (laughter) Shit on a stick. (laughter) Shit in a handbag. I always like that. He ain’t worth shit in a handbag. (laughter) Shitty. He acted real shitty. (laughter) You know what I mean? (laughter) I got the money back, but a real shitty attitude. Heh, he had a shit-fit. (laughter) Wow! Shit-fit. Whew! Glad I wasn’t there. (murmur, laughter) All the animals — Bull shit, horse shit, cow shit, rat shit, bat shit. (laughter) First time I heard bat shit, I really came apart. A guy in Oklahoma, Boggs, said it, man. Aw! Bat shit. (laughter) Vera reminded me of that last night, ah (murmur). Snake shit, slicker than owl shit. (laughter) Get your shit together. Shit or get off the pot. (laughter) I got a shit-load full of them. (laughter) I got a shit-pot full, all right. Shit-head, shit-heel, shit in your heart, shit for brains, (laughter) shit-face, heh (laughter) I always try to think how that could have originated; the first guy that said that. Somebody got drunk and fell in some shit, you know. (laughter) Hey, I’m shit-face. (laughter) Shitface, today. (laughter) Anyway, enough of that shit. (laughter) The big one, the word fuck that’s the one that hangs them up the most. [']Cause in a lot of cases that’s the very act that hangs them up the most. So, it’s natural that the word would, uh, have the same effect. It’s a great word, fuck, nice word, easy word, cute word, kind of. Easy word to say. One syllable, short u. (laughter) Fuck. (Murmur) You know, it’s easy. Starts with a nice soft sound fuh ends with a kuh. Right? (laughter) A little something for everyone. Fuck (laughter) Good word. Kind of a proud word, too. Who are you? I am FUCK. (laughter) FUCK OF THE MOUNTAIN. (laughter) Tune in again next week to FUCK OF THE MOUNTAIN. (laughter) It’s an interesting word too, [']cause it’s got a double kind of a life — personality — dual, you know, whatever the right phrase is. It leads a double life, the word fuck. First of all, it means, sometimes, most of the time, fuck. What does it mean? It means to make love. Right? We’re going to make love, yeh, we’re going to fuck, yeh, we’re going to fuck, yeh, we’re going to make love. (laughter) we’re really going to fuck, yeah, we’re going to make love. Right? And it also means the beginning of life, it’s the act that begins life, so there’s the word hanging around with words like love, and life, and yet on the other hand, it’s also a word that we really use to hurt each other with, man. It’s a heavy. It’s one that you have toward the end of the argument. (laughter) Right? (laughter) You finally can’t make out. Oh, fuck you man. I said, fuck you. (laughter, murmur) Stupid fuck. (laughter) Fuck you and everybody that looks like you. (laughter) man. It would be nice to change the movies that we already have and substitute the word fuck for the word kill, wherever we could, and some of those movie cliches would change a little bit. Madfuckers still on the loose. Stop me before I fuck again. Fuck the ump, fuck the ump, fuck the ump, fuck the ump, fuck the ump. Easy on the clutch Bill, you’ll fuck that engine again. (laughter) The other shit one was, I don’t give a shit. Like it’s worth something, you know? (laughter) I don’t give a shit. Hey, well, I don’t take no shit, (laughter) you know what I mean? You know why I don’t take no shit? (laughter) [']Cause I don’t give a shit. (laughter) If I give a shit, I would have to pack shit. (laughter) But I don’t pack no shit cause I don’t give a shit. (laughter) You wouldn’t shit me, would you? (laughter) That’s a joke when you’re a kid with a worm looking out the bird’s ass. You wouldn’t shit me, would you? (laughter) It’s an eight-year-old joke but a good one. (laughter) The additions to the list. I found three more words that had to be put on the list of words you could never say on television, and they were fart, turd and twat, those three. (laughter) Fart, we talked about, it’s harmless It’s like tits, it’s a cutie word, no problem. Turd, you can’t say but who wants to, you know? (laughter) The subject never comes up on the panel so I’m not worried about that one. Now the word twat is an interesting word. Twat! Yeh, right in the twat. (laughter) Twat is an interesting word because it’s the only one I know of, the only slang word applying to the, a part of the sexual anatomy that doesn’t have another meaning to it. Like, ah, snatch, box and pussy all have other meanings, man. Even in a Walt Disney movie, you can say, We’re going to snatch that pussy and put him in a box and bring him on the airplane. (murmur, laughter) Everybody loves it. The twat stands alone, man, as it should. And two-way words. Ah, ass is okay providing you’re riding into town on a religious feast day. (laughter) You can’t say, up your ass. (laughter) You can say, stuff it! (murmur) There are certain things you can say its weird but you can just come so close. Before I cut, I, uh, want to, ah, thank you for listening to my words, man, fellow, uh space travelers. Thank you man for tonight and thank you also. (clapping whistling)
DAVID Beckham has “the biggest carbon footprint in the world”.
More importantly, as the Star reports: “During a four-month period over the summer, he was reported to have spent at least eight full days in the air”.
Only eight. How the star has come down to Earth…
And the papers are uncertain what to show their readers. Do they broadcast the moment of her death, or not? Is it disrespectful to show the killed leader’s dead body? And can other dead bodies be shown, if not hers?
The Express leads with “the moment Bhutto was assassinated”. The picture is of shadows bled into an orange fire. Bhutto cannot be seen
The Mirror shows the aftermath of the suicide bombers massacre. A man wails in grief. Behind him lies the charred remains of a body. It is not Bhutto, unless she wears diamond patterned black socks. The face is obscured
The Sun’s front-page picture is grimmer still. The same man is engulfed in pain. He stands. Arms outspread. Face turned to the sky. Around him are the remains of many people. Blackened. Dead. But not Bhutto
On the Daily Mail, Bhutto is “30 SECONDS FROM DEATH”
The Independent has Bhutto in a coffin. Men are carrying her. But we see no flesh. No face
The Times has Bhutto “shortly before” she was killed.
“Final moments,” says the Guardian
“Seconds from assassination,” leads the Telegraph
So no sign of the murdered Bhutto. We do not see the full horror. Perhaps we do not need to…