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.
THE Dutch Government’s consumer safety institute issues advice on fireworks.
“What is the campaign hoping to achieve by depicting a negative stereotype of the Muslim community in a fireworks advert?” says Saad Saraf, the chief executive of multicultural marketing specialists Media Reach Advertising.
“Are the producers aware that the actors in the advert are speaking in an Iraqi accent; with the current state of affairs in Iraq and the loss of lives as a result of suicide bombing, I question, what were the creatives thinking?”
Anorak’s resident mad mullah paused only to say it is T minus 4 days to New Year’s Eve…
VLADIMIR Putin’s dog, Connie, will be fitted with a satnav collar.
Walls have ears…
LIFE imitates art (Borat): BISHKEK (Reuters) – “Seeking a novel remedy to revive its rickety economy, the tiny ex-Soviet state of Kyrgyzstan has declared itself the new home of Santa Claus.
“Citing Swedish engineering firm that determined the ideal spot for Santa’s global toy delivery hub, officials in this predominantly Muslim country have quickly moved to capitalize on the finding.
“They named a mountain peak after Santa, to join Mounts Lenin, and Yeltsin, and declared 2008 The Year of Santa Claus.
“Its slogan will be ‘Kyrgyzstan is the land of Santa Clauses’, said Kyrgyz tourism authority spokeswoman Nurkhon Tajibayeva.”
WHO knew – the war is being won: Iraqis crowd churches for Christmas mass.
TONY and Cherie or: “Photographers are stalking the Egyptian resort of Luxor, after Nicolas Sarkozy arrived there to holiday with his new girlfriend, former model Carla Bruni.
“Holding hands with Ms Bruni, the French president waved at onlookers as they arrived at their luxury hotel.
“But security is tight with plainclothes guards deployed in the town and two journalists were briefly detained on Monday night after filming the hotel.”
IRAN and the bomb, sorry nuclear power: TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran said on Monday it rejected any preconditions for talks with the United States, which suspects it wants an atomic bomb, and a member of parliament was quoted as saying Tehran planned 19 nuclear power plants.
Reports the Jerusalem Post: “If a nuclear war between Israel and Iran were to break out 16-20 million Iranians would lose their lives – as opposed to 200,000-800,000 Israelis, according to a report recently published by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), which is headed by Anthony H. Cordesman, formerly an analyst for the US Department of Defense.”
WHICH place is next? You Highness:
KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) – The world’s last Hindu monarchy is to be swept aside under an agreement between Nepal’s former communist rebels and its major political parties that sets the stage for the country once idealized as a Himalayan Shangri La to become a republic.
Ever been to Katmandu? Like Birmingham, only with less planning…
SOVEREIGN Wealth Funds – “An issue rumbling away in the business sections for the past few months, and likely to rumble on in the New Year, are the activities of what are called “sovereign wealth funds,” enormous funds, usually accumulated from government oil revenues and run by countries such as Norway.”
Big money. Foreign money.
“They are now major buyers of assets such as chunks of shares of banks like Citi, the US bank that has taken massive write-downs connected to the US sub-prime mortgage crisis.
“The question that comes up, especially when these funds are run by Middle Eastern governments or the Chinese, is whether their control of large parts of western firms poses some sort of ‘problem’.
“At this stage, I do not see it being a problem. As Sylvia Pfeiffer points out, these funds ultimately want what any intelligent investor wants: maximumum possible returns. I suppose that conspiracy theorists might wonder whether the Chinese, say, will deliberately run their acquisitions into the ground as part of some grand dastardly Blofeld-like plan to take over the world, but this strikes me as a bit unlikely. Perhaps more significant are issues such as protection of intellectual property rights and whether the companies that get taken over are as open about their accounts and profits as before. But again, it strikes me that as long as these new funds do not breach any regular laws against fraud or force, I do not see their activities as a problem.
“The truth is, emerging economies in Asia, coupled with the petro-dollar wealth of the MidEast, parts of Asia, Russia and even Africa, is giving these funds a degree of market muscle that has taken some investment observers by surprise, but it should not do so. We are living through a major period of change in the economic clout of non-western states.
We might as well learn to profit from it.”
So says Samizdata. We say if the foreign power is looking to make money, then why not use a SWF. Or why not just give it back to people in tax breaks and let them decide how the money should be spent?
AS the Telegraph reports, Iggle Piggle, from the trippy chidlren’s TV show In The Night Garden is 31-year-old Nick Kellington, a member of rock band Ella Guru
MADELEINE McCann – and Robert Murat’s help was with Britsh police approval, says Paulo Reis:
Staff from Bill Henderson’s office suggested the name of Robert Murat as a reliable translator who could be used in the police inquiry, the days following Madeleine McCann disappearance. Murat was already known among diplomatic staff, as he had recommendation letters from Norfolk Police, where he worked for Bernard Matthews, one of the largest poultry farm companies in UK, which employs hundreds of Portuguese workers. The fact that Robert Murat has acted, before, as translator for Norfolk Police, and the recommendation issued by Bill Henderson’s office, at the time the British consul in Algarve, took police to accept the suggestion, according to PJ sources. After Murat was named a formal suspect, Police went through all translations he has done, checking its accuracy, but no problem was found, according to the same sources. Bill Henderson retired from his diplomatic post and went back to UK in August.
FROM El Pais on Algeria:
“The Algerian government is to build a 6,500-kilometer fence around its land border with six other African countries in a bid to prevent drug traffickers, sub-Saharan migrants and Al Qaeda terrorists from using the country as a major transit route“.
Let me know when you read of this in the Guardian and hear the anti-semites and anti-Americans condemn it…
THE Hendon Mob’s Joe Beevers beat Ian Cox, Howard Lederer, Liam Flood, Julian Gardner and runner up Marty Smyth on his way to winning the million dollar pay day at the Poker Million VI in London.
Beevers’ tournament winnings in 2007 are over $1.2million.
Well done, to him. Jungle bell rock. Deck the halls. Fa-la-la-la-la. We are soooo happy for him.
But let us not be bitter. Save the indigestion for after Christmas. For now join the play.
Click here. And get a bonus…
AS reported: “The trouble began for Ms Bègue, Réunion’s first winner in three decades, on Friday when Entrevue, a Paris magazine, published photographs that she posed for three years ago. They included a picture of her licking yoghurt off a concrete ledge. Another has her floating in a swimming pool on a wooden cross in crucifixion pose, while a third shows her breasts.”
The pictures brought down the wrath of Geneviève de Fontenay, 75, the formidable boss of the Miss France organisation for the past two decades. All entrants to the competition have to sign a disclaimer stating that they have never been photographed nude or in compromising positions.
“If she had some courage and a bit of dignity she would say: ‘I’m resigning because I’m not worthy to carry on as Miss France’, Ms Fontenay said.
“I wouldn’t want to be seen touring the provinces with a girl like that. Let her stay in La Réunion.”
But no shots on the web, as yet…
BRITBLOG Roundup – the Scumbag / Faggot Edition, by Mr Eugenides:
Greetings one and all from Sunny Greece, from where I have been casting my eye over the finest in the week’s British blogging. I asked for seasonal misanthropy and I’m glad to say that you have delivered in spades, dear readers. So without further ado, let’s get to it.
You can’t get much more misanthropic than our first story. Over at Amused Cynicism, Cabalamat flags up a shocking tale from Nigeria, where Christian preachers are naming children as witches and then demanding money from their families in order to ‘deliver’ them from the evil spirits. Truly disgusting.
Children also feature in two other nominated posts this week. First of all, the Ministry of Truth looks at the GMC’s decision to strike off Professor David Southall for serious professional misconduct. A typically long but thoughtful post, that. Second, over at Liberal England, the evil under the spotlight is that of cases where the state brings up kids, and some of the misfortunes that follow. Add that to the list of things the state just isn’t very good at, I guess.
Sticking with the Liberals for a moment, apparently they have a new leader. The Whiskey Priest is unimpressed. And, in conjunction with a fellow bloger, he also has a podcast for you to listen to – apparently you download it or something, I don’t understand how these things work.
BendyGirl has a rather affecting post up where she reproduces the answer she gave on a benefits form under “any other pertinent information”. Sadly, it’s an impersonal and dehumanising business relying on others in the way she does.
Jamie K at Blood and Treasure has a look at the election of Jacob Zuma as ANC leader, and gives us my favourite line of the week:
Pretty much all political or national anthems translate as “you’re goin’ home in a fuckin ambulance”.
A former prime minister converted to Catholicism on Friday, which makes me very glad not to be a member of that flock this Christmastide. Anyway, Paul Linford ponders whether politicians’ faith makes them better leaders, and whether it should be any of our business anyway.
My own flock has also welcomed a new convert now that the mighty Tin Drummer has joined the Church of Stella Artois. The young slip of a lad had barely started to sip before he heard the angels singing:
Stella taps into the recesses of the human mind, gives us access to areas of our life we had forgotten, and brings us towards harmony with painful or difficult pasts. Such, as I have said, is our birthright as human beings. Just like those pioneers, a mere 25 years ago who walked into pubs and had the courage, the sheer audacity, to ask for “a pint of Stella, please”. Well done to them. We all raise our glasses. We are all Stella drinkers now.
Still on religion, it being that time of year, it appears the Archbishop of Canterbury believes the story of the Three Kings to be rubbish. Which is fair enough, but once you start to pick and choose…
Moving over the water, and Alex Massie had a number of posts nominated this week (which either means he’s a quality blogger or he’s writing a lot of cheques to willing accomplices). Anyway, I plump for this one, in which Alex considers the ghastliness of the US Presidential candidates through the prism of Wodehouse.
And finally, I had a few thoughts on the big story of last week – the Fairytale of New York controversy. Censoring art is more offensive to me, frankly, than the word “faggot”. Good to see Radio 1 stepping back from the brink of total lunacy.
That, for this week at least, is all she wrote. A merry Christmas to all and here’s hoping you’re still awake and speaking to the rest of the family when Her Majesty comes on. Toodle-pip!
“FESTIVE packaging will create 3m tonnes of waste,” says the Independent. Children are invited to put the toys to one side and play with the boxes, just as they do every year…
The Venus Project: Jacque Fresco Interview – [futurism]
China’s “Manufactured Landscapes”, site – [photography]
Duck & Cover! Atomic bomb survival skills –
New Life for Rabbits, Hamsters etc. – [weird][vintage]
Tram on Ice: Retro Cool – [vintage]
New Species: Monster Rat Found – [nature]
Cats in Sinks. Yes, cats in sinks – [fun site]
Christmas Shopping for Idiots – [perfect gift]
Arnold is definitely pro-Apple – [fun site]
Worst Real Estate Listings Photos – [funny]
Pocket Helicopter (Soviet-made) – [pics]
Most spectacular places to meet New Year – [travel]
Fresh idea: disappearing car doors – [auto]
Shoe Design Madness (scroll down) – [pictures]
10 Worst Gadgets of 2007 – [gadgets]
Pretty cool 3D optical illusion – [picture]
First-person video from radio-controlled plane – [cool video]
DIY: Mouse “Mouse”, slightly gross – [gadget]
Scientists (almost?) build the Flying Carpet – [interesting]
Soviet Vintage Christmas Card Collection – [vintage] – via
Bigfoot Info, track your own – [useful?]
The Blue Man of Oregon – [weird]
Don’t sell THIS on eBay. Even if you need xmas $$ – [weird]
Robot Wrestling, more – [cool video]
Extreme Sliding – [fun video]
Cute fluff balls of sweetness – [cute video]
Video for cat lovers (only) – [fun video]
Mad Magic Tricks Show – [fun video]
$500 Olive Garden Gift card just for participating
“My right forearm has a 8″ ruler on it that I use for everything from measuring PVC diameter to wire lengths. My background is in embedded hardware design, but I choose to spend my time doing experimental building, transportation, and energy these days. The tattoo gets used daily.”–Mikey
“If I had the choice of being waterboarded by a third party or having my fingers smashed one at a time by a sledgehammer, I’d take the fingers…”
CHRISTMAS is Iraq: “No thanks to them, Christians are flocking back to Baghdad”
RICHARD Dawkins and the Archbishop of Canterbury:
Simon Heffer has written a very sensible (damn, I hate that word) article about why atheists rooted in our culture should have no problem at all enjoying Christmas. I agree whole heartedly with that view but…
We atheists are supposed to feel bad about Christmas. After all, what is it to do with us? All the present-swapping, drinking and over-eating is merely taking advantage of someone else’s festival, isn’t it? I have always had my doubts about that analysis, all the more so since the Archbishop of Canterbury this week refined the Christmas story as “legend“. I start to wonder whether I am any more of an atheist than he is.
Oh Simon, Simon, Simon…really. You are talking about the head of the Church of England…of course he is more of an atheist than you are! Folks like you and I simply decline to believe on the whole beardy-guy-in-the-sky thing and that is good enough for us, no need to bang on any drums about it and generally be a tiresome crypto-fascist prat like Dawkins. Dr. Rowan Williams on the other hand drives more people into our way of thinking every time he opens his yap. Clearly he and Dawkin are batting for the same side no matter how much they pretend to not like each other.
THE News of the World predicts that repossessions will leap by 50% next year.
The paper says data indicates the number of families thrown onto the street will rise from 30,000 this year to 45,000 in 2008.
And the People says first time buyers, who have dropped to their lowest level since the 1980s, will be abel to afford a home.
It promises to be a bumper year for property news…
Nine NHS trusts in England have admitted losing patient records in a fresh case of wholesale data loss by government services, it has emerged.
Hundreds of thousands of adults and children are thought to be affected by the breaches, which emerged as part of a government-wide data security review.
The Department of Health says patients have been told and there is no evidence data has fallen into the wrong hands.
I am from Barcelona, I know nothing…
HER Majesty the Queen has launched her own channel on the video-sharing website YouTube.
The Royal Channel will feature her Christmas Day message as well as recent and historical footage of the monarch and other members of the Royal Family.
The launch marks the 50th anniversary of the Queen’s first televised festive address in 1957.
Look out for home movies – shots of the man on the grassy knoll in Paris and more…
Firstly, says the reporter, “Anything in the prime minister’s life can cause huge attention, huge fuss and Tony Blair wanted to avoid that”
Tony Blair converts is the lead news item on the TV news; “Tony Blair joins Catholic Church” is the lead item on the BBC news website.
So why did he convert now..?