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.
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?
THE vexed question of casino sites takes the Casino Anorak to
This sounds entirely democratic. Why not ask the locals what they want?
If the city council approves it, citizens will be presented with the following question: “Do you support the establishment of a casino in
A report prepared for the province last September suggested
In 2002, 56% of
Meanwhile, over in the
And the punters just wait and see… – Vote now and vote often (with Anorak bonus)
AS reported: “A Western woman has been allowed to enter the mysterious world of Japan’s geisha for the first time.”
Fiona Graham, originally from Melbourne, first came to Japan at the age of 15 on a school exchange programme.
Fiona Graham makes her debut as Sayuki, the first Western woman to become a geisha
Impressed by the culture, she graduated from a Japanese high school, attended Keio University and then Oxford before completing a doctorate in social anthropology.
“I started my geisha training in April and it has been a long year because it took more time than I expected to be able to make my debut,” she said.
“Even though I have been in Japan a long time and have a good grasp of the culture, this has been very difficult.”
True to tradition, Sayuki – her professional name – will not reveal her age…
Most just go on an exchange programme and get off with some of the locals and buy cigarettes. But Fiona is from Oz. She’s the geisha in the white face paint – aka the sun block…
SINGER Mariah Carey was asked if she’d ever sing with Jennifer Lopez. Her reply: “I’d rather be on stage with a pig — a duet with Jennifer Lopez and me just ain’t going to happen.”
Pinky and Perky – and that’s just Carey…
Says Carey: “This is just some Internet gossip and it’s pathetic that people actually entertain the thought that this could be real. This is another sad example of two strong women being pit against each other.”
SEX: “Circumcision does not reduce sexual satisfaction and so there should be no reservations about using this method as a way to combat HIV, a study says.
“Nearly 5,000 Ugandan men were recruited for the study. Half were circumcised, half had yet to undergo surgery.”
Had yet to… Adult men…
IF John McCain were taller and younger, he’d win. Says he to Osama Bin Laden: “Osama, I’m going to get you. Even if I have to follow you to the gates of hell, I’ll bring you to justice.”
JUST when you thought the US airport goons could not get any more repugnant:
A couple of years ago, Michael T. Arnold landed at the Los Angeles International Airport after a 20-hour flight from the Philippines. He had his laptop with him, and a customs officer took a look at what was on his hard drive. Clicking on folders called “Kodak pictures” and “Kodak memories,” the officer found child pornography.
The search was not unusual: the government contends that it is perfectly free to inspect every laptop that enters the country, whether or not there is anything suspicious about the computer or its owner. Rummaging through a computer’s hard drive, the government says, is no different than looking through a suitcase.
Peeping is justified by cracking down on child porn…
THE Top 5 Most Unfortunately Named Products. At No. 2:
DID Knut do it? Professional jealousy… After the ealier news of three baby polar bears:
“Two polar-bear cubs which had been hailed as the successors to Knut, a white Berlin cub shown worldwide last year on TV, suddenly vanished on Monday in their zoo den.
“Keepers at Nuremberg Zoo suspect their mother, Vilma, gobbled them up in a hungry moment.
“A keeper checked out Vilma’s den and saw no sign of the cubs.”
THE new “stars” of TV show Dancing On Ice were unveiled today. So says the Manchester Evening News.
The register. Answer “Who?”, “Er?” and “Didn’t she used to be…”
Gareth Gates, Sarah Greene, Suzanne Shaw, Greg Rusedski, Samantha Mumba, Linda Lusardi, Steve Backley, Aggie Mackenzie, Michael Underwood, Chris Fountain, Tim Vincent and Natalie Pinkham.
That’s right. It’s Natalie Pinkham, the bird from the Poker Channel telly show. “The glamorous Pinkham, 29, is feeling the benefits of her training.” As was Prince Harry, who aided Pinkham’s rise to prominence by cupping her in a nightclub.
Says Pinkham: “It’s great – you can eat whatever you like. For the first time in my life I can have two puddings.”
[Insert joke about William and Harry here]
HILLARY Clinton’s new slogan: “I’m here to identify with the little people, who don’t have $8 million book deals,” Sen. Clinton told a near-capacity crowd at the Orange Julius in the Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua. “The voters in Iowa said they wanted change. And like my friend Rashid over there at the cash register, I’m saying ‘America, here’s your change’.”
HE WRITES: “Jobs define us; what we do and where we do it is the stuff of social introductions. How should they go nowadays? ‘My company badges up goods manufactured in China. We market them here – and India does the sales support. An American private-equity group runs the show, but is looking to sell us on next year.'”
Well, no. Jobs do not define us. People who ask “So what do you do?”, and expect to hear a label or job title in response, will always be the type best avoided.
Jobs are how we make a living. Nothing more…
COMPILED by Amused Cynicism:
Welcome everyone to this week’s roundup of all that’s best in UK blogging. Today’s roundup is the first of 2008 and incidently also the fist one done by me.
My first two items are by Devil’s Kitchen, who is distinctly unimpressed with the government’s suggestion that people only be entitled to NHS treatment if they live healthy lifestyles. DK also notes that Gordon Brown seems to have nicked the idea from David Cameron.
Moving on to culture, Michelle Kazprzak talks about pop culture versus high art. She concludes that while much of it is garbage, “the best and the worst of it can be fodder for other artists to make bigger, more interesting statements”.
A blog that’s being going for some time, but which I only recently became aware of, details the experiences of William Lamin, a British soldier during the First World War. No, the blog isn’t written by way of a time machine; Lamin’s grandson writes it based on Lamin’s surviving letters from the trenches.
Natalie Bennett writes about the Sleeping and Dreaming exhibition at the Wellcome Collection in London. Did you know that some of the first resuscitation devices involved tobacco being blown into the body via the rectum? I didn’t either.
Nee Naw (who works for the London Ambulance Service) writes about the recent fire at the Royal Marsden Hospital, and how some people thought that rescuing seriously ill cancer patients from a burning hospital was less important than their own needs: “If there was an award for selfishness, there’d be two callers fighting for it. A nurse at another hospital, who was waiting for an ambulance for a routine transfer, so she could go home. And a first aider in a well-known department store, who rang because a child had cut his foot and couldn’t walk properly”. Personally I think the LAS should publish on their website the most ridiculous, selfish and timewasting calls they get and invite people to vote on which is the most absurd.
Lady Bracknell is peeved by the amount of packaging for Christmas presents overflowing from people’s bins. And because the people haven’t separated it out into the separate blue wheelie bin for recycling that the council provide.
The Daily Maybe writes that George MacDonald Fraser, author of the Flashman novels, has died. Bummer. Fraser was a brilliant writer and if you haven’t read his books you should do so.
Philip Booth writes that the Anti-Slavery Arch at Paganhill in Stroud — Britain’s oldest anti-slavery monument — has had its listed status upgraded.
Jonathan Calder wrties that the old Tory Party is alive and well. He comes to this conclusion because Nadine Dorries, a Tory MP, apparently thinks the TV stations shouldn’t broadcast programmes that she personally finds distasteful. Is she not aware of the “off” button?
Peter Dunphy writes about the legacy of the Young Social Democrats, who were only active between 1982 and 1987, but whose alumni have since been influential in the Labour, Conservative and Green parties as well as of course the Liberal Democrats.
Chicken Yoghurt notes the 2-pints rule for aduts with children in Wetherspoons pubs, and remarks that “If you had any respect for yourself or your children you wouldn’t be in Wetherspoons in the first place”.
Bill Jones disagrees with Ed Balls about The Election That Never Was — Balls things it hasn’t harmed Gordon Brown, Jones thinks it has.
The ARCH Blog notes that patients can opt-out from having their records put on the NHS data spine — but they might not be able to do so for their children’s records.
Finally, Bishop Hill is confused by all this talk about “carbon footprints” and “food prints” and suggests a way of simplifying things.
SAYS Janet Street Porter:
Blogs are surely the musings of the socially inept, those people you sidle away from at parties after a couple of stabs at conversation. They are the product of the internet that has given a “voice” to millions of people who have nothing to say apart from the fact that their pet has just exited via the cat flap and the baby has soiled another nappy. Thousands of hackneyed opinions about books on Amazon written by people who can’t use a three syllable word. Endless reviews of films tapped out by couch potatoes who’ve never experienced any culture other than the one within their suburban front room.
Columns in The Independent are surely the musings of the socially inept, those people you sidle away from at parties after a couple of stabs at conversation. They are the product of the system that has given a “voice” to people who have nothing to say apart from the fact that we’re all doomed, it’s capitalism’s fault and by the way, I met someone famous recently. Thousands of hackneyed opinions about books, politics, the environment and society written by people who can’t use a logical argument or recognise a fact. Endless reviews of this and that tapped out by idiotarians who’ve never experienced any culture other than the one within their own heads.
To Nuremburg Zoo to see three newborn polar bear cubs.
The mother is neglecting her brood. Staff are refusing to intervene, fearful that the threesome will become victims of “Knutmania”, the affliction that beset Knut, a Berlin polar bear abandoned by its mother.
The Mail says the “cries of the cubs can be heard”. But do not despair. This is Mother Nature, and she knows best. Too many celebrity polar bears and the danger is that we will move away, look for new global warming pet. (It’s much the same with famous magicians – there is only ever room for one.)
The penguins will be praying that the cubs live…
CARSTEIN Frein, of German giant Tipp24, suggests Germany’s ban on online gambling is unconstitutional under German and European Union law.
Says he: “We consider the state treaty on gambling as clearly illegal and will take legal action if necessary. Reports by notable constitutional lawyers such as Professor Bodo Pieroth or Professor Hermes confirm that the treaty contravenes the German constitution and European law. The European Union and the German Monopolies Commission have also taken up a clear stance in this sense.”
Sixteen German states prohibit online gambling.
But you can play, play und play. For you the game is not over…
AS it says: THE SeriousPolicy Game sets the player on a mission to win Treasury funding for a new policy. Players can get advice from Tony Blair, get on Alistair Darling’s nerves, or get congratulated by the PM. Along the way you wander through a virtual Members’ Lobby, pop into a simulated Treasury and are summoned to a stunningly realistic digital Number 10. A Paris Hilton look-alike provides some light relief and the MC has more than a passing resemblance to Keira Knightly.
But this isn’t satire. It’s designed as an example of how computer games can be put to serious use – for both citizen engagement and education. This game aims to:
- Demonstrate how political processes and decision making can be brought to life in a fun and interesting way through a virtual world
- Highlight to players, whether they be citizens or policy makers, the importance of public engagement in the decision-making process
Got a gun for this shoot ‘em up? (Only joking)…
PRESS Release on teaching finance in schools:
The ifs School of Finance has welcomed the Prime Minister’s recent call for schools and colleges to do more to educate their pupils about personal finance.
“When asked if there should be financial education in schools, Gordon Brown replied, “Yes absolutely. And I would favour more education in financial management and in financial budgeting generally at school. I’d like to see financial literacy…extended particularly through schools and colleges and their education programme.”
Anne Kiem, Director of External Affairs at the ifs School of Finance, said:
“We welcome Gordon Brown’s comments and hope this signals a change in Government policy which currently does not include any statutory provision of financial education or provide for any examinable financial education in schools.
We would like to work with Government to achieve our mutual aim of ensuring future generations have the capability to make informed financial decisions. The ifs School of Finance has long argued that financial education should be added to the core school curriculum, putting personal finance on an equal footing with other subjects such as Geography, History and Modern Foreign languages i.e. compulsory for schools to offer it but not compulsory for all students to take it. We welcome the Prime Minister’s comments as another step towards this goal.”
A good idea? Or not – espceially if the nippers work out how dear Gordon takes their spending money from mum’s purse…