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.
DIZZY looks at people in glass houses:
Just want to point out the sterling work that the Spectator Coffee House blog is doing in relation to picking apart the so-called dossier of nonsense that Compass have produced on Boris Johnson. The Evening Standard Diary also commented on this last night. Compass’ report esentially argues the to be right wing is to be in league with the devil whilst to be left wing puts you on the side of angels (*cough* Stalin, Lenin, Pol Pot, Mao)
In the ES Diary column they pointed out how Compass had selectively quoted Boris Johnson’s articles and even have a section on how Boris insulted the Dutch. They quote one line and then leave the succeeding three lines out where he says Britain is rubbish and the Dutch are great. It’s pretty clear from the straw clutching that Johnson scares them electorally, although of course they’d never admit it. This said, it’s amusing that whilst they go after Boris, they completely ignore Livingstone’s less than colourful past. For Boris, unlike Ken, has not got cosy, for example with, Sinn Fein-IRA, as Matthew d’Ancona points out.
Livingstone, the man who says he loves London, had no problem being friendly with Sinn Fein-IRA in the height of their bombing campaign on Londoners. Nor does he mind spending Londoner’s Council Tax revenue on setting up offices in a dictatorships in South America. And let’s not forget how he stood on a platform with a Islamist who thinks homosexual should be strung up and called him a moderate.
People in glass hosues and all that jazz.
YOU can catch fat:
A common virus that causes colds can be a factor in obesity, according to a study released Monday offering further evidence that a weight problem may be contagious.
The adenovirus-36 (Ad 36) has already been implicated as the cause of weight gain in animals, but with this study researchers showed for the first time that it can also cause humans to pile on the pounds.
I don’t have big bones, I just work on a pig farm…
Barack Obama’s wife Michelle is not running for the presidency. But she is enjoying her moment in the limelight. And it gets us thinking if the husband – like Hillary’s Bill – is just the foil to the real power game. Are Barack and Michelle the dream ticket? Or is he her dream ticket?
Barack Obama often says that his wife, Michelle, is smarter than he is, stronger than he is, and gives better speeches than he does.
On a trip to Iowa last week, Michelle was a firebrand, expressing a determined passion for her husband’s campaign, talking straight from the heart with eloquence and intelligence.
She told an audience in Council Bluffs that Obama was cautioned not to enter the race for president because there was so much fear: “fear that he might lose; fear that he might get hurt; fear that this might get ugly; fear that this might hurt our family.”
But the family decided to say “yes” to the Democratic race partially to confront those fears, said Michelle. “I am tired of being afraid . . . I don’t want my girls to live in a country that is based on fear.”
Barack Obama and his daughter Sasha play a carnival game with his wife Michelle and their other daughter Malia, right, at the Iowa State Fair.
At another stop, in Atlantic, Michelle said she travels with her husband in part “to model what it means to have family values,” adding “if you can’t run your own house, you can’t run the White House.” She didn’t elaborate, but it could be interpreted as a swipe at the Clintons.
USING your mobile while driving is dangerous. Right? You aren’t concentrating. But you are driving slower. You are not runing in the radio. You are not banging your head in time to the Ace of Spades or rolling your eyes at the news bulletin.
Ther is lot you aren’t doing when you are on the phone.
The Press Release:
“We were quite shocked,” admitted Saurabh Bhargava, who with co-author Vikram Pathania set out to satisfy a curiosity about drivers who use their cell phones despite the commonly perceived perils.The students point to data revealing that the average amount of time a cell phone subscriber spends on calls has surged from 140 to 740 minutes a month since 1993. In addition, about 40 percent of drivers acknowledge using their cell phones at some point while driving, and cell phone ownership is skyrocketing, up from about 2 percent in 1990 to more than 75 percent in 2006.
The researchers also found – not surprisingly – that calls made just after 9 p.m. on weekdays, the point when off-peak, “free minutes” kick in on many cell phone plans, have increased by 20 to 30 percent. In a 2006 Pew Research Survey, 44 percent of cell phone-using respondents said they wait until after 9 p.m. on weekdays to make non-urgent calls.
Pathania said the jump in call volume just after 9 p.m. on weekdays should have translated into a jump in the number of crashes, too.
Yet, when the UC Berkeley researchers examined the number of fatal vehicular accidents from 1987 to 2005 in all states, as well the number of all crashes in seven states in roughly the same period, they found the crash rate had remained flat or had fallen. Plus, the crash rate declined steadily over the course of a typical weekday evening, even after 9 p.m., reflecting a pattern almost unchanged since the early 1990s when few people owned cell phones, they say in their report, “Driving Under the (Cellular) Influence: The Link Between Cell Phone Use and Vehicle Crashes.”
In what is probably the best-known and widely cited study on accidents and cell phones, researchers at the University of Toronto and Stanford University in 1997 concluded that using a cell phone while driving increased the odds of an accident four-fold, comparable to driving under the influence of illegal levels of alcohol.
So what might explain the lack of a link between vehicular mishaps and drivers on their cell phones?
“Maybe drivers aren’t as irrational as we think they are,” said Bhargava. “In real life, people may be aware of the risks of cell phones, and they may adjust their driving behavior.”
The researchers said drivers on cell phones may move into slower traffic lanes, increase the distance between their cars and others, or pull over to the side of the road to talk. They may also “substitute” across sources of risk by talking on the phone instead of, for example, fiddling with the radio or conversing with a fellow passenger. Maybe cell phone use helps to keep some drivers, such as long-distance truckers, awake and alert, Bhargava and Pathania said. They also theorized that cell phone use is more problematic when driving in poor weather conditions or for drivers in certain demographic groups, such as teenagers.
Bhargava and Pathania compared trends in cell phone ownership and crashes over time, sought out possible differences in urban versus rural crash rates related to varying rates of cell phone ownership in those regions, and estimated the impacts of laws restricting cell phone use. “None of the additional analyses produces evidence for a positive link between cellular use and vehicular crashes,” they concluded.
The economists don’t dispute that using cell phones while driving can be dangerous. Bhargava conducted his own personal experiment, talking on his cell phone while driving in Minnesota this summer. Acknowledging that he doesn’t often drive, much less drive and talk on the cell phone at the same time, Bhargava said he almost crashed twice on that trip.
“Our research should not be viewed as an endorsement to use cell phones in a negligent way,” he said. “It certainly may be risky for a marginal user.”
Pathania added another cautionary note: “Since we know that certain demographic groups such as teenagers frequently call and text while driving, and that they are also risky, inexperienced drivers, further research is needed in this area. Laws banning cell phone use in cars for such groups may well have some merit.”
UC Berkeley economist David Card said the researchers’ study supersedes existing ones and uses “more reliable methods that cleverly overcome the problem of making inferences about the ‘causal effects’ of cell phone use by focusing on the surge in use at the time when rates fall.”
Spotter: Comment Central
ROUND up the usual suspects:
A Conservative policy has escaped. After two years of successfully keeping all policies safely under lock and key, this one somehow escaped into the Radio Five studio in London’s Broadcasting House. Those present, who included the Conservative leader David Cameron, were plainly embarrassed that the policy had somehow been released, but officials at Conservative HQ are no doubt determined to recapture it and ensure that it never bothers the public again.
The policy in question is GP fundholding. Complaining about hospital closures yesterday morning, Mr Cameron said that his party would put National Health Service budgets into the hands of family doctors, who would then buy in whatever care their patients needed. That would be better because GPs knew their patients’ needs and the local availability of healthcare services.
“A return to GP fundholding?” He was asked.
“Improved GP fundholding,” he replied, and before he could draw breath, he realized that the policy was out.
DID Nic O’Teen stop children smoking? Did Superman? Charlie says never play in rivers, pull the heads off live chickens and poke your head into a tiger’s cage. Hedgehogs cross the road:
Sue Davies, chief policy adviser of Which?, said: “There are precious few examples of cartoons being used to promote healthy products. Our research shows that the majority are being used to encourage children to eat fatty, sugary and salty foods. We are calling on companies to follow the example of Warner Bros and Disney, and no longer use cartoons to promote unhealthy foods.
“With so many parents fed up with the amount of marketing aimed at their children, it also makes commercial sense for cartoon brands to distance themselves from unhealthy food products. Regulation should be put in place to protect children from all forms of irresponsible marketing of unhealthy foods, whether it’s TV advertising, packaging, free gifts or websites.”
WE’RE doing it for you, Stupid. Mick Hume writes:
In the past, direct action was employed by people fighting to defend their own interests – working people struggling for jobs and better pay, women demanding the vote, black people seeking civil rights. The pursuit of self-interest was the driving force for political change. Others such as we on the Left supported their struggles, but we acted in solidarity, not as self-appointed substitutes for the miners or disadvantaged minorities.
Today, by contrast, to take political action in your own interests seems frowned upon as greedy, even sleazy. Instead, the Heathrow protesters insist that they are acting altruistically “on behalf of” others, speaking for the “voiceless” – the poor of the developing world, unborn generations, or simply the planet. A picture from the weekend captures the essence of this direct-action-by-indirect-proxy. It shows a group of white, apparently well-heeled protesters, beneath a banner declaring “We are armed . . . only with peer-reviewed science” (we went armed with political arguments), while they carry huge posters of the supposed victims of climate change on whose behalf they are protesting – mostly impoverished-looking Africans and Asians.
These protestors are speaking for the ethnics, the poor, the stupid – whether we wanted them to or not…
THE bracelet might not be to everyone’s taste – poker’s medallion man – but the World Series of Poker Europe is a hit.
If you ever wondered what a professional poker player looked like, you can see Ben Grundy in action. Ben looks likes he should be getting his cub–scout Poker badge any day now.
And you can qualify for the WSOPE here.
WHY do I think an event for stoenrs should be free? But it isn’t. American Pundit says it costs a donation of $5 to celebrate hemp by the Myrtle Edwards Park – “a slim strip of grass, driftwood, and a breakwater bracketed by genetic research institutes”.
“It’s a strange celebration and not only because the thousands attending are strange by birth, design and recent inhalation, but because the drug it celebrates is officially not in attendance. It’s like an Oktoberfest without the beer.”
The sign advertises a “DRUG FREE ZONE”. And no booze.
On a brighter note: “This woman [see pic] will only dance when you put money in her tip jar. After about ten minutes the donations dry up.”
After he robbed a Bank of America on West Hillsborough Avenue last December, court records say, Etni Ortiz left his resume behind — dropped it, actually, when the bank’s dye pack exploded. Police found it outside the bank in a pile of dye-stained money. There were also photos, one of Ortiz. The picture, too, was stained with red dye.
R KELLY is Trapped in the closet:
Today’s DVD release for the second volume of R Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet has been billed – admittedly by R Kelly himself – as “the year’s biggest pop culture event”. That’s a bold claim, but then the success of Kelly’s baffling self-styled “hip-hopera” seems to have spiralled in a way that not even its creator, a man not given to modesty, could have predicted.
It began in 2005 as a peculiar footnote amid the R&B singer’s torrential output, a series of songs forming a “musical soap opera” that he likened to Desperate Housewives. Each of its 12 “episodes” used precisely the same backing music, but it was difficult to pay attention to anything other than the wildly convoluted plot, which has so far involved an outbreak of mass cuckoldry, a shooting, the outing of a gay pastor and a dwarf stripper called Big Man.
OI! I saw you mate. Get off my land!
The Ten Worst Film Couples Of All Time: Ben Affleck and…
1. Natalie Portman & Hayden Christensen – Stars Wars: Episode II
2. Jennifer Lopez & Ben Affleck – Gigli
3. Keira Knightley & Orlando Bloom – Pirates of the Caribbean
4. Madonna & Adriano Giannini – Swept Away
5. Catherine Zeta-Jones & Sean Connery – Entrapment
6. Andie MacDowell & Hugh Grant – Four Weddings and a Funeral
7. Kate Bekinsale & Ben Affleck – Pearl Harbor
8. Nicole Kidman & Tom Cruise – Eyes Wide Shut
9. Jake Gyllenhaal & Heath Ledger – Brokeback Mountain
10. Kate Winslet & Leonardo DiCaprio – Titanic
I AM not obsessed. It’s just..
Jordan: “I have a wee on the toilet in front of him, but I’d never have a poo in front of Pete, unless it was a sexual act!”
And after this…
DAVID Beckham makes his first ever start in a Major Indy Soccer World’s League match. The crowd goes… And one day it might go again:
Playing before a record crowd of 66,237, Beckham made his first Major League Soccer start and set up a pair of goals by Carlos Pavon in the first eight minutes. But the New York Red Bulls rallied for a wild 5-4 win over the Galaxy when Juan Pablo Angel scored his second goal of the game in the 88th minute.
Giants Stadium is nearly empty for most Red Bulls’ games—the team’s average of 11,573 for its first 10 home matches was next to last in the league. The crowd that came out for Beckham was the largest in franchise history and the largest there for a U.S. league game since the Cosmos drew 70,312 against Fort Lauderdale on June 22, 1980.
Day-vid puts bums on seats. Often his own bum on the bench. But point made…
DIZZY spots this:
We’re taking your unborn child
The following is a recording of a Social Services officer from a Calderdale Council informing a couple that the Council will be taking her unborn baby into care as soon as it is born whilst also saying there is “no immediate risk to your child from yourselves”.
The Telegraph is reporting that the Council is threatening legal action and demanding the recording be removed from YouTube.
So why are they threatening to take the child away the minute it’s been born? Well for a start the partially sighted mother has apparently had a depression and has a “personality disorder” and the social workers believe the child will suffer “emotional abuse”. The neighbours have also complained that the couple are disorderly with their lives.
The most bizarre thing here is that the Social Services freely admit they have no reason to suspect the child will be physically abused, sexually abused, mistreated, and as he’s say on the tape, is at “no immediate risk from yourselves”. So errr…why are they taking it again?
OLD hacks don’t die and freelancers don’t rest – they just join the Anorak forums:
One of the names which crossed the coffee table was Harry Diamond. Now there was a one off. The first words the young reporter Harry Diamond uttered to Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill on passing him in the corridor at Westminster were: “Excuse me Sir, your flies are open.” Churchill’s brilliant reply was: “My boy, there is no harm in leaving open the door of the cage when the bird is dead.”
It was one of the early incidents of thousands Harry’s life in the press, media and public relations. He is the man who sold Glasgow to the world under the fabulous…
Join the debate (and the nostalgia)…
JOHN Redwood unveils the Conservative’s plans to cut red tape for business. The BBC illustrates the story with pictures of him mumbling his way through the Welsh national anthem when Welsh secretary in 1993. The BBC is staffed by people who are not in business. They work for the state.
The Sunday Times’s Cosmo Landesman writes:
Is this just another case of BBC bias? Yes. But I suspect we have something more at work here. The choice of the Redwood footage is the work not just of some peeved anti-Tory leftie, but also a closet satirist. The Redwood item bears all the marks of someone who grew up on Spitting Image and dreams of going on Have I Got News for You. What we are dealing with is a wider cultural change within the BBC.
News programmes are full of current affairs nerds and swots who think they have a sense of humour. For them serious politics has become too unsexy and stuffy. In the old days real BBC newsmen and women wanted to be serious journalists like Richard Dimbleby or James Cameron; now they all want to be Armando Iannucci, Ali G and all the other political pranksters.
Problem is that stands for satire is often just taking the piss and name calling. This clanking BBC satire is simply making sure the victim is a politican or a royal and laughing at their pointy ears and big backside…
TABLOID Baby looks at the Merv Griffith, Griffin created the “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!” game shows. I once wrote the questions for Jeopardy (What is the giong rate?)
“Merv Griffin was gay.”
So says Ray Richmond, entertainment columnist for The Hollywood Reporter, in a controversial “outing” that in four words sticks it to the TMZ-type bottomfeeders before they have a chance to make the great man into a joke. They’re four words that are causing debate around the world this morning. But coming from Ray Richmond, they’re not sensational, not titillating. Just the decent thing to say.
Ray is no Michelangelo Signorile, who in decades past outed powerful closet cases as a way of stirring up gay pride and exposing hypocrisy.
He’s one of the most straight-talking, hard-hitting, no-BS, Pulitzer-worthy journos in the business, an incisive voice of deceny with a reputation as a conscience of the industry.
He also knew Merv well, having worked as a talent coordinator and segment producer on The Merv Griffin Show in the 1980s. “Around the office, the boss’s being gay was merely a fact of life, understood but rarely discussed (and certainly never with him),” Ray writes matter-of-factly on his essential Past Deadline site in a post titled “Griffin never revealed the man behind the curtain” (nice Wizard of Oz imagery, by the way).
“As it was, I loved the guy,” Ray adds. But not in that way!
“No gossip, no scandal, no snickering behind the back. Just reality. Why should that be so uncomfortable to contemplate? Why is it so difficult to write? Why are we still so jittery even about raising the issue in purportedly liberal-minded Hollywood, in 2007?
“We can refer to it casually in conversation without a second thought, but the mainstream media still somehow remains trapped in the Dark Ages as relates to the gay label. Even in the capital of entertainment– in a business where homosexuality isn’t exactly a rare phenomenon– it’s still spoken of in hushed tones or, more often, not at all.
“Maybe that helps explain why Griffin, who died Sunday at 82 from prostate cancer, stayed inside the closet throughout his life. Perhaps he figured it was preferable to remain the object of rumor and smug ridicule rather than live openly as ‘one of them.’ But how tremendously sad that a man of Merv’s considerable gifts, of his gregarious nature and social dexterity, would feel compelled to endure such a stealthy double-life even as the gay community’s clout, and its levels of acceptance and equality, rose steadily from the ashes of ignorance…”
We’ve been telling you about Ray Richmond. This article shows why he’s so important.
WHO was in America first? So who gets to say who stays?
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – For prices starting at $50, two nonfederally recognized Indian tribes are offering membership to thousands of illegal immigrants, claiming they can achieve legal status by joining the groups.
But immigration authorities insist becoming a tribe member gives no protection against being deported. And immigration advocates condemn the practice, saying it defrauds immigrants of money and gives them false hope.
“You can’t just decide to become a member of a tribe and all of a sudden legalize your status,” said Marilu Cabrera, a spokeswoman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
In Nebraska, some people reported paying up to $1,200 to join the Kaweah Indian Nation, which became the target of a federal investigation after complaints about the tribe arose in at least five states.
Manuel Urbina, the tribe’s high chief, acknowleged his group has sold at least 10,000 tribal memberships to illegal immigrants for about $50 each.
“We are not going against the law, we’re with the law,” he said, claiming membership papers can help illegal immigrants avoid being detained by authorities if they are asked for documents.
Should it work?
THE Times reports:
Private schools will be judged annually on whether they are doing enough for the poor in order to qualify for tax breaks worth £100 million a year, the charities regulator has told The Times.
Dame Suzi Leather, the chairwoman of the Charity Commission, suggested that the threshold to qualify schools for charitable status would be raised every year to ensure that they provide the maximum possible public benefit.
Dame Suzi’s comments come amid growing concern about the attainment divide between schools in the private and state sectors.
In the past decade private schools have seen a 16.3 per cent increase in the proportion of A grades at A level, compared with only 5 per cent at comprehensives.
Many education experts fear this academic divide will get wider, bringing with it increased social divisions.
As Tim notes:
So, the State funded schools are crap compared to hte privately so. What do we do about it? Make the State funded schools better? No, of course not! We punish the privately so!
Excellent, trebles all round!
Just one thing. Will other charities be subjected to the same tests? Will the National Trust have to do more for the poor? The Sith Institute? If not, why not?
Do we already know the answer?
NOT all bad then:
Troops training for and fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are firing more than 1 billion bullets a year, contributing to ammunition shortages hitting police departments nationwide and preventing some officers from training with the weapons they carry on patrol.
An Associated Press review of dozens of police and sheriff’s departments found that many are struggling with delays of as long as a year for both handgun and rifle ammunition. And the shortages are resulting in prices as much as double what departments were paying just a year ago.
“There were warehouses full of it. Now, that isn’t the case,” said Al Aden, police chief in Pierre, S.D.
Departments in all parts of the country reported delays or reductions in training and, in at least one case, a proposal to use paint-ball guns in firing drills as a way to conserve real ammo.