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Rob Ford, the former mayor of Toronto, has died. He was just 46. In his obituary, CBC includes this:
Ford staunchly denied that he smoked crack and questioned the existence of the footage, which prompted Gawker to begin a crowd-funding campaign to buy the video. The story not only made Ford an international celebrity and the object of mockery on late-night talk shows, but it also triggered a criminal investigation, which eventually led police to acquire a copy of the video. After months of denying he was in the video, Ford confessed in November 2013 to having smoked crack, adding that it had likely occurred during one of his “drunken stupors.”
He wasn’t wrong. It’s just that he couldn’t remember taking drugs because he was drunk.
The Court of Appeal has allowed a well-known entertainer to keep his extra-marital “threesome” secret in a move which heralds the return of the court injunction.
Are all three parties gagged?
Judges said the man, who can only be named by the initials PJS, was entitled to secure a legal ban on a tabloid newspaper which wanted to report the “open relationship” enjoyed by him and his wife, known as YMA.
As we wonder if PJS wear pjs in bed and ho anyone can be married to Yamaha Motor’s Australia, you also wonder how something open can remain closed?
Terry Bollea, the retired pro wrestler known as Hulk Hogan, was awarded a total of $25m in punitive damages on Monday, in his invasion of privacy lawsuit against Gawker Media.
These damages come on top of the $115m already awarded to Hogan last week which concluded a nearly two-week trial in St Petersburg, Florida. There, jurors heard how Hogan, 62, had not been contacted by the website before it posted a nine-second video clip of the wrestler having sex with the wife of his friend, DJ Bubba “The Love Sponge” Clem. Hogan has said he didn’t know he was being taped.
Gawker Media itself was hit with a $15m judgment, while its owner, Nick Denton, was personally ordered to pay $10m in damages.
Ouch. That’s one pricey / lucrative shag.
Turkel said Gawker Media’s gross revenues in 2015 were $48.7m and that founder Nick Denton has a total of $121m, including a $3.6m Manhattan condo. Gawker Media is worth $83m, the lawyers said.
How much of that $121m is tired up in Gawker stock? And with this hanging over the company, isn’t that same stock now worth a whole lot less?
Operation Midland is closed. The Metropolitan Police’s investigation into allegations that a ‘ring’ of paedophiles operated out of Westminster is dead. After 16 months of lurid headlines and wicked whispers, the Met came up with zilch.
Midland is one of a number of inquiries that began after Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, said in the House of Commons in 2012 that there had been “a powerful paedophile network linked to parliament and No 10”. He went on to call ex-top Tory MP Leon Britton “evil”. The Met called Nick’s claims “credible and true”. He was not an accuser. He was a victim.
Before the completion of an inquiry, let alone any charges brought or a trial, the people behind the inquiry knew its outcome. It was all credible and true. No evidence. No matter. The victim would be avenged. Objectivity and impartiality were no longer important barriers to justice. What followed would resemble not so much justice as a ritual cleansing, in which the morally right would purge the past and make clean the present. You might call it a witch-hunt.
Let’s review the coverage.
And we can begin with the Mirror, the paper that put so much stock in “Nick’, the man who said he knew children had been killed at sex parties. Nick said he had witnessed ‘VIP’ paedophiles rape and murder children between 1975 and 1984.
How many words does the Mirror tell its readers on the closure of Operation Midland, much of which was based on Nick’s claims? Nothing. Not a single word. Zippo. Wow, indeed. This is the paper that told its readers:
The Sun (front page): “VIP Paedo Probe Collapses”
Readers are asked, “Howe can he stay?” Howe is Met chief Bernard Hogan-Howe.
Page 4-5: “Probe was based on ramblings of a lying fantasist madman.”
ANGRY Harvey Proctor last night accused the Met of wrecking his life with a VIP paedophile ring investigation based on the ravings of a mad fantasist.
The gay ex-Tory MP, one of several prominent figures named by an anonymous accuser known only as Nick, wept with relief yesterday as the £3million Operation Midland inquiry shut down and he was told he faced no further action.
He said: “Operation Midland was based solely on the ramblings of a liar and a madman. The damage that has been done can’t be undone. The Met allowed me to be wrongly depicted as a paedophile, child abuser and child murderer by a fantasist. These are some of the worst things that can be said of another human being. Nothing the Metropolitan Police do or say, no weasel words of regret, can remove that indelible stain. I hope they are proud of themselves for irreparably ruining my life.”
To be innocent and accused of something you never did in such a public fashion is hideous. Proctor deserves our sympathy. For those readers late to the story, the Sun gives a potted history of Nick’s allegations:
He claimed he had witnessed Mr Proctor strangling and beating to death two young boys at one of these parties.
Nick also alleged former Home Secretary Lord Brittan, Britain’s most decorated soldier Lord Bramall, another senior Army officer and two ex-heads of MI5 and MI6 also attended sex parties in London.
The claims caused a sensation when they were publicised by Labour deputy leader Tom Watson and the Exaro News website. The homes of 92-year-old D-Day veteran Lord Bramall and the late Lord Brittan were raided. And one senior detective described Nick’s claims as “credible and true”.
But doubts began to surface when Nick’s stepbrother and ex-wife described him as a fantasist who was having a mid-life crisis. The claims against Lord Bramall were eventually dropped. Police also found there was no case against Lord Brittan.
What say the police?
Scotland Yard Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve Rodhouse yesterday insisted Operation Midland had been “handled well”. He refused to apologise to Mr Proctor and said: “I regret any distress caused to any individual but the Met can’t apologise for investigating serious allegations.”
But why were these allegations played out in public? Was it all a panicked reaction to Jimmy Savile, a man celebrated in life but in death dug up and beaten with sticks – a papal and British knight who had “groomed the nation”?
Page 10: “Met’s disgrace”
The Sun’s lead editorial is given to a review of the Met, the police force that not so long ago was harassing Sun journalists.
FROM start to finish there was a loathsome arrogance about the way Bernard Hogan-Howe’s Met Police conducted its “VIP paedophiles” witch-hunt. It was still evident yesterday even as Operation Midland was shut down in failure and disgrace…
They publicly insisted from the start the claims, from one man, were “credible . . . and true”. They turned out to be baseless smears blackening several distinguished names.
But no one is held to account and no one resigns.
And, despite zero evidence, no one prosecutes the “victim” for perverting justice or wasting police time.
The Mail (front page): “Humiliation of the Yard”
Only, they are not humiliated. They just carry on. The police do not listen. The police only tell.
Controversially, there are no plans to prosecute Nick, despite calls for him and a news website which peddled his claims to be put on trial for allegedly perverting the course of justice. One of the most extraordinary claims was that former Prime Minister Ted Heath persuaded former MP Harvey Proctor not to castrate Nick with a penknife – which was then handed to him to keep as a souvenir. The tone of the Met’s statement was in sharp contrast to its media appeal to ‘victims’ 15 months ago in which senior investigating officer Det Supt Kenny McDonald described Nick’s allegations as ‘credible and true’.
We should cheer this:
Mr Proctor last night paid tribute to the ‘free, inquisitive and independent-minded media, who have all supported me over the last year’.
Free speech matters. Journalism must not be regulated with licenses and a State-run board deciding what is and what is not important for people to know.
Mr Proctor said: ‘I believe Operation Midland should now be the subject of a truly independent public inquiry. ‘I consider that Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, (Assistant Commissioner) Patricia Gallan, (Deputy Assistant Commissioner) Steve Rodhouse and (Det Supt) Kenny McDonald should tender their resignations. I believe Nick… should be prosecuted for seeking to pervert the course of justice.’ Lord Bramall told the BBC: ‘If they’d taken any trouble to put their effort into questioning the so-called victim, I think they would have found that (his allegations) were very unlikely.’
The Mail features the story over pages 4-5:. Guy Adams lists the “charge sheet” against the Met. He begins:
In December 2014, Det Supt Kenny McDonald held an emotional press conference and described Nick’s story as ‘credible and true’. McDonald has never explained why he made this extraordinary comment, given that Nick’s claims hadn’t been tested in court. At that point McDonald hadn’t interviewed a single suspect, didn’t know who the alleged murder victims were, and hadn’t found a single body.
So why did the police make such a big noise about the investigation? And how is it that amid the talk of VIPs and powerful people getting way with it, not a single top copper’s name – alive or dead – was dragged into the mire? But surely the biggest issue is that the failures of Operation Midland make us suspicious of all other investigations into past crimes. In the rush to look on the public’s side and morally correct, the police have damaged their own reputation and made us wary of complainants who allege they are victims of a cover up.
As the Tories row over Brexit and disability payments, the Labour party obliterates casus belli, picks up the one working gun in the British Army and aims at its feet.
Britain would be safer if its defence policy was to have “cups of tea” with Isil terrorists rather than bomb them, one of Jeremy Corbyn’s key allies on Labour’s ruling body has said. Christine Shawcroft, who sits on the party’s National Executive Committee and is a senior figure in Momentum, said that soldiers should “get the teabags out” to solve the Syrian crisis rather than resorting to air strikes.
She warned that media stories about Mr Corbyn’s non-interventionism were having a negative impact and imagined a voter saying: “That Jeremy Corbyn you know, faced with terrorists he’d sit down and have a cup of tea with them or something.”
Does Hamas break for teatime?
Ms Shawcroft went on: “Now I mean, you know, maybe we should try it! Bombing them and attacking them has got us nowhere, why don’t we get the teabags out?
“You know I did read a while ago about when the EDL were going round picketing outside mosques… One particular mosque in the Midlands somewhere just opened the doors and said would you like to come in for a cup of tea? And they went in for a cup of tea and now they’re friends with the EDL. Straight away the EDL are now like oh, well actually these people are not the monsters you know that we’re being told all this time, they’re actually human beings that you can sit down and have a cup of tea with.”
Proper English tea grown in Yorkshire, we’ll bet. None of that foreign muck.
“So you know I think we should bear in mind that having cups of tea might actually be the best kind of system of defence and national security that you could have, but there we are.”
Chimpanzees and scalding hot water might hold them off for a while. But will they stand a chance against Isil’s Rich Tea biscuit tanks? Those things can absorb a tea bombardment.
Madeleine McCann: a look at reporting on the missing child.
The Sun has a loaded headline:
Joy for Ben Needham’s mum as cops given extra £450k to find missing son – while Maddie hunt totals £11M
Are the two cases of British children who vanished on overseas trips connected? Why else would Madeleine McCann’s name be invoked in a headline about Ben Needham?
SOUTH Yorkshire Police have been given an extra £450,000 to find missing Ben Needham as the 25th anniversary of his disappearance draws near. Police were granted £700k by the Home Office last January for more resources into the investigation, but that money will have run out by the end of the month.
Good news. The disappearance of Ben Needham is an open sore. But then this:
The amount given to Operation Ben still pales in significance compare to the £11 million spent on Madeleine McCann’s search fund.
A great deal of money has been invested / spent on the hunt for Madeleine McCann. Good. Let’s hope we get to know what happened to her. The problem is not what is spent, rather what is not. Do you think it unfair that the case of one missing child gets more public cash than another because, like the media and police who stand accused of picking blondes over blacks and rich over poor, there is bias at work?
If you want to compare what is spent on what, it might be better wondering how much has been spent on the hunt for other children who vanished in the UK, like, say Charlene Downes? She disappeared 12 years ago from her home in Blackpool, Lancashire, when aged 14. There is a £100,000 reward on offer for information leading to, well, something. Was she murdered, as Paige Chivers was? Paige went missing from her Blackpool home on 23 August 2007. She was 15. Three days later her feckless father reported her missing. The police operator recorded the year of Paige’s birth incorrectly – as 1962 not 1992 – and that she had left home voluntarily. Police were looking for a 45-year-old woman who had left home of her own accord. On 7 September the error was rectified.
Paige had sought help from Robert Ewing, 37 years her senior. Ewing, a known paedophile, had groomed Paige for sex. To keep her quiet, he murdered her. In July 2015, Ewing was convicted of murder at Preston Crown Court. His co-defendant, Gareth Dewhurst, 46, was convicted of disposing of her body three days later.
Less than a fortnight before her disappearance, Ewing “tested the water” with police when he contacted them anonymously and said a “problem child” had turned up on his doorstep after being thrown out by her father. The prosecution said Ewing had wanted to see what official reaction there would be to a 15-year-old girl turning up on the doorstep of a 52-year-old man. “The answer he learned… was very little,” said Brian Cummings QC.
Back to the Sun’s story of stolen lives and money:
But it is still a promising step for Ben’s heartbroken mum Kerry Needham, as the government agreed to hand over more cash to find her long-lost son. Kerry said: “Please end the pain my family are suffering. I know he’s out there somewhere, please call the detectives and put an end to it.”
Ben was 21-months-old when he disappeared on July 24 1991 as he played outside the house his grandparents’ farmhouse in Kos.
Resources are finite, of course. But where police chose to spend their money and time should not be a decision triggered by media pressure.
Zac Goldsmith, your Tory candidate for London mayor, woos the anglo-Indian vote with his flyer.
If you find that hideous – the idea that people only vote for a candidate from within ‘their own community’ – then we’re in agreement.
In any case, this divisive approach to politics doesn’t work. We, for instance, know a number of white, prep-school-educated Islington-immigrants who think a vote for Jeremy Corbyn (one of their own) less attractive a prospect than being tied to a radiator and forced to drink Terry Waite’s urine.
“MAN UP,” orders the Daily Mirror’s back-page headline. Manchester United manager Louise Van Gaal is looking for a “miracle” to see his side overcome Liverpool in the Europa Cup – and to help God’s plan the hammer-headed Dutchman wants his team to play like men.
Of course, it doesn’t require an act of divine surrealism for one mid-table Premier League to beat another; it just takes United to be as good as West Ham were when they defeated the once-mighty Reds 3-0 back in September.
But it’s not the match that makes us think – it’s the phrase “Man Up”. In July 2013, Liverpool included ‘Man Up’ in its list of banned words. The club produced a handbook to help staff better recognise and enforce the policing of words which could cause offence.
Liverpool’s crusade smacked of a righteous, morally superior elite telling the pygmies how to behave. The message was clear: the fans were thick and in need to educating.
Our position is that if you don’t like so-called ‘offensive’ chants, then don’t join in. If it’s really ugly, then tell the singer to shut up. Don’t grass them up to the police and the stewards. You know, Man Up.
The Psychoactive Substances Act seeks to “ban the new generation of psychoactive drugs”.
It will soon be illegal to produce, supply or possess any drug capable of producing a psychoactive effect. You know, like LSD, magic mushrooms, vodka and tobacco. No, not quite. The Act excludes food, alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, and medical products.
The stuff the elites like to get a buzz from are ok. The stuff the kids like to try out are forbidden, which, of course, will help to keep bath salts, dried winnits or whatever other crud Matt ‘The Talc’ has on sale edgy and counter-culture cool.
You might laugh – but not with laughing gas, the stuff the tabloids call – get this – ‘hippy crack’. That’s going to be illegal, too. Law-abiding hippies who need a laugh will have to make do with the Michael McIntyre boxset and jokes about greasers.
And how bad is are these new drugs? Voice of America says they’re very bad. This from March 3:
Illegal heroin and psychoactive substances pose emerging worldwide threats, an annual State Department report to Congress said.
The International Narcotics Control Strategy report, released Wednesday, offers details on efforts by foreign governments to reduce drug production and trafficking and related money laundering and terrorist financing.
Doesn’t prohibition create the trafficking and illegality? Banning something does not lead to a reduction in demand. It just alters the market.
Improved international reporting on drug use has led to a better understanding of heroin and psychoactive drug problems worldwide, a State Department representative told VOA on background.
More than half of the countries listed in the report cite heroin as one of their major drug control problems…
The report also found psychoactive drugs are a “rapidly spreading danger, particularly in Africa and in much of Asia” due to cheap production and the difficulty of regulating their manufacture.
The popularity of cheap drugs is rising at a higher rate the expensive kinds. Is this a shock?
What about investigating psychoactive drugs for any benefits? The Independent:
In January of this year Home Office minister Mike Penning said that the Government “recognizes that representations have been made to the effect that ‘poppers’ have a beneficial health and relationship effect in enabling anal sex for some men who have sex with men, amid concern about the impact of the ban on these men.”
He said the Home Office would consider “whether there is evidence to support these claims and, if so, whether it is sufficient to justify exempting the alkyl nitrites group.”
The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drug says poppers are not ‘psychoactive substance’ under the terms of the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016.”
Rotherham is now a town synonymous with sex crimes. The Times reports that “50 Rotherham taxi drivers have been stripped of their licences under new regulations introduced after the town’s sex-grooming scandal.”
Among them was the local authority’s former deputy leader, Jahangir Akhtar, who featured in a recent trial at which three of his relatives were convicted of multiple sexual offences against young girls.
Is it fair to single him out by name? He is innocent.
Rotherham council said that a decision was taken 12 months ago that Mr Akhtar’s licence should immediately be revoked. No reason was made public but a council spokesman said that such a decision could only be taken after the receipt of information that “gives rise to significant and serious concerns for risks to public safety if the licence remains in place”.
Why is a reason not made public? The phrasing implies that there was a reason to revoke the licence, so why not state it?
An independent inquiry by Alexis Jay “..noted frequent past warnings that taxi operators and their drivers played a prominent role in the abuse. A follow-up inspection of the council, ordered by the government and led by Louise Casey, found that Pakistani-heritage councillors had a disproportionate influence in the council, particularly on issues which affected the Pakistani community ‘such as the taxi trade’.”
The Times harks back to an incident it helped to broadcast:
Mr Akhtar, 55, resigned as council deputy leader in 2013 after The Times revealed his role in a deal under which a violent child abuser to whom he was related, Arshid Hussain, agreed to hand a missing 14-year-girl to police at a petrol station after he received an assurance that he would not be prosecuted.
Hussain, 40, was one of three Rotherham brothers jailed by Sheffield crown court last month for offences against 14 children, including the girl involved in the petrol station handover. Mr Akhtar was unavailable for comment last night.
Rotherham Council is pursuing its former deputy leader Jahangir Akhtar for £2,000 of court costs after he withdrew an appeal against his taxi licence being revoked.
The council has confirmed Mr Akhtar had said he would appeal against his licence being revoked in February 2015.
But ahead of the scheduled hearing at Rotherham Magistrates Court in September 2015, he withdrew his appeal – with the court awarding costs to the council in relation to their legal work in preparing a case for the hearing.
A spokesman for Rotherham Council said: “The council is pursuing collection of this through the civil debt enforcement process.”
MP SARAH Champion has succeeded in changing how some child sex abuse crimes are officially categorised.
The Rotherham MP and shadow minister for preventing abuse and domestic violence, pressured the Office for National Statistics (ONS) into removing the term “abuse of children through prostitution” from national crime statistics.
The ONS had reported in their latest release in January that “abuse of children through prostitution” had increased by 65 per cent in the last year.
But Ms Champion wrote to the Government pointing out that the use of the word “prostitution” was wrong as “it infers criminality on the part on the child and does not acknowledge that children cannot consent to sex themselves, but are instead exploited.”
“Victim blaming has been a barrier to justice for many and this change is another step in the right direction.”
A MUSLIM postie who “dozed off” behind the wheel and killed a dad-of-eight while fasting for Ramadan has been spared jail. 36-year-old Sajid Hussain was asleep when his Volkswagen Polo smashed into David Hinton, 47, at 2pm on June 20 last year. Mr Hinton was strapping his baby into his car when he was crushed, a court heard.
The story’s headline and teaser direct readers:
No jail for Muslim postie who killed dad of eight when he fell asleep at the wheel during Ramadan fast. Sajid Hussein fell asleep after fasting for over 10 hours for Muslim festival Ramadan
Would prison have served any purpose? Did Mr Hussain deserve to be removed from society? (And it is Hussain – even if the Sun cannot settle on the spelling.)
Hussain was handed an eight-month suspended jail sentence after pleading guilty to causing death by dangerous driving. The judge ruled that the Dudley postman, who bowed his head and wept throughout the hearing, had showed “genuine remorse”.
North Korea has issued a statement. Hear ye, Western filth!
“Our hydrogen bomb is much bigger than the one developed by the Soviet Union… If this H-bomb were to be mounted on an intercontinental ballistic missile and fall on Manhattan in New York City, all the people there would be killed immediately and the city would burn down to ashes.”
For some time the conversation has been shaped by nuanced arguments whether anti-Israel movements are driven by anti-Semitism, and how Islamists and the Left share a hatred of Jews. Now, finally, we get to see some more in-yer-face proper old-school racism. At the all-boys Catholic Memorial School in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, students taunted the visiting Newton North High School team with anti-Semitic chants. The visitors have a considerable Jewish population.
“You killed Jesus,” yelled the Catholic kinder.
Catholic Memorial President Peter Folan says the chants were “abhorrent behaviour.”
Indeed, surely the correct racist term is, “You killed Our Lord Jesus.” Where’s the respect for tradition?
When Anna Reed of Spirit Lake, Iowa, dropped keys to her rented car down a public toilet she did as any rational human being would have done: she called the plumberlocksmith rental office police.
When police arrived they asked Reed for her name. They ran it through the big computer and spotted an outstanding warrant for possession of a controlled substance. For added oomph, she told them there were drugs in the locked car.
The police called a locksmith, who opened the car door, allowing the officers inside to find a “large variety of prescription pills and a small amount of marijuana”.
Reed has been charged with possession of marijuana, possession of a controlled substance, and possession or use of drug paraphernalia.
Police were unable to retrieve the key from the toilet, which, like Reed, remain in deep shit.
That’s racist! The Telegraph reports on an incident in Hull:
A motorist has been prosecuted for racially abusing a traffic warden by calling him “English”. Mohammed Akhlaghi swore at traffic warden Robert St Paul by telling him he was “English” during an argument over a parking fine.
Humberside Police charged Akhlaghi, 35, with being racist during the incident which also saw him push Mr St Paul in the back.
The police are so hot on race issues.
He pleaded guilty at Hull Magistrates Court to racially aggravated assault by beating. In his defence Akhlaghi, of Hull, claimed he had been the victim of racial abuse. He said he has been subjected to abuse over the last seven years he has lived in the UK.
A tape capturing monkey chants made as a black man lay dead on a police station floor was missed by investigators for nearly four years, it emerged yesterday.Christopher Alder, 37, died handcuffed and face down in a Hull police station in April 1998 surrounded by police officers, after choking on his own vomit. Sections of the tape show the officers joking and chatting as the former paratrooper died.
Last month five Humberside policemen were cleared of manslaughter and neglect of public duty over the death.
Tapes from the custody suite cameras were seized in April 1998, but a section containing monkey chants and laughter was not investigated until March 2002, a fortnight before the trial began.
Mr Alder’s family are furious that this evidence was never put before the jury. The crown prosecution service said it never tried to have this evidence admitted because it could not be determined who was making the noises.
The officers were cleared of all charges on the orders of the judge.
Four police officers were guilty of the “most serious neglect of duty” over the death of ex-paratrooper Christopher Alder in 1998, a watchdog has ruled.
Mr Alder, 37, who was black, died while lying face down and unconscious in a pool of blood in a police custody suite in Hull, as a group of officers stood chatting nearby.
The police watchdog said the officers had been guilty of “unwitting racism”.
Humberside Chief Constable Tim Hollis apologised following the Independent Police Complaints Commission’s report.
No-one will be prosecuted over a mortuary mix-up that led to a woman’s body being buried in the grave of a man who died in police custody. Grace Kamara, 77, was buried in Christopher Alder’s grave after he died at a police station in Hull in 1998.
His body was discovered in a Hull mortuary in 2011.
Mr Alder’s sister, Janet, said the family was “devastated” at the decision made by South Yorkshire Police, who investigated the mix-up. In a statement, the force said there was “no realistic prospect” of conviction for misconduct or the prevention of a lawful burial. Following an exhumation, Ms Kamara’s body was discovered in Mr Alder’s grave in the city’s Northern Cemetery.
Mr Alder, a former paratrooper, choked to death at Hull’s Queen’s Gardens police station after being arrested in 1998.
A group of five police officers charged with neglect of duty following Mr Alder’s death were cleared by an independent inquiry in 2003 after their trial for manslaughter collapsed the previous year. Mr Alder was believed to have been buried in 2000 at Northern Cemetery but his body was found in the mortuary in November 2011.
Both bodies have since been reburied.
In 2015, it was revealed that the police had spied on Mrs Alders sister, who is campaigning on his behalf.
The evidence of surveillance came to light after all police forces were asked to check their records following claims the Metropolitan Police spied on the family of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence.
The operation was mounted “in anticipation of potential public disorder as a result of the tensions to which it was perceived your brother’s death had given rise”.
In what the Times is calling a “political correctness row”, Pembroke College, Cambridge, has banned a do themed around Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days because dressing up could lead to “cultural appropriation”.
Good. I loathe fancy dress.
The Pembroke “junior parlour committee” told students:
“Having discussed the matter at length as a committee, we have decided that the most appropriate action is to break with the tradition of reusing finalists’ first fresher bop theme, in their end of Lent term third year bop. Instead we are using an alternative theme to avoid the potential for offense [sic] to be caused by the theme Around the World in 80 Days.”
Yeah. The “junior parlour committee”. Let’s be clear: anyone who signs up for an outfit called the “junior parlour committee” is a bit of a knob. Anyone who heeds their views on acceptable behaviour without laughing themselves sick is themselves laughable.
A typical parlour party (from Diary of a Nobody aka ‘Minutes of the Pembroke Junior Parlour Committee’ )
One student who claimed to have chosen the theme wrote on Facebook: “Doesn’t any theme contain aspects which could be spun into an offensive costume?… This seems overly controlling and a little insulting.”
Another said, however: “This is a way to minimise the risk of people of colour having a s*** night, being reminded that they share a college with ignorant people who don’t understand the impact of their ‘harmless’ bop outfit.”
We propose this Bop instead*. RAUS!
* Too offensive to Germans, says the Parlour committee. BANNED! Oxford University Student Union says it’s not Nazi-themed enough. Also banned!
Madeleine McCann: a look at reporting on the missing child.
Daily Star (front page): “Maddie is potted in Paraguay”
A “massive police hunt” is underway in Paraguay, says the Star, which adds that this is “Paraguay, South America”, and must not to be confused with any other Paraguay.
Page 9: “Copes Probing Maddie Sighting in Paraguay”
Is the missing child “living in custody of a woman in the city of Aregua”? Was British private eye Miraz Ullah Ali, who “praised the alarm”, right to believe sources who told him the child arrived in Paraguay “a month or two ago” as “sources” told his “team”?
The paper adds: “He says wealthy well-wishers were offering a 2million euro reward for information leading to the youngster’s safe return.”
Claims made by Briton Miraz Ullah Ali Isa (his name keeps on growing) have been “dismissed”.
So much for the “massive” police search, then.
Not other news in the British Press, os we go to AS Color in Paraguay (South America), where this story first aired.
We learn that many locals have now claimed the “juicy reward” – “part of that reward was posted by English magnate Richard Branson”. That reward still stands? In 2007, the BBC reported:
Rewards totalling £2.5m have been offered to anyone who can help with information leading to the safe return of Madeleine McCann. The News of the World and businessmen including Sir Richard Branson have jointly pledged £1.5m. Scottish tycoon Stephen Winyard has offered £1m.
The NoTW is no more.
The News of the World has promised £250,000 – matching the contribution of Top Shop owner Sir Philip Green.
Madeleine McCann has been spotted in Paraguay. Yes. Really. Well, maybe. The media cranks up the journalisomobile.
The Mail: “Heartache for McCann family as authorities debunk reports missing Madeleine is living ‘in the custody of a woman’ in Paraguay following claims by British ‘private eye'”
Is that huge reward still on offer, the one the News of the World put up?
British man Miraz Ullah Ali Isa, who claims to be a private eye, had said Maddie was living ‘in the custody of a woman’ in the city of Aregua. His claims are believed to have triggered a major search involving four local police stations, an anti-kidnapping division and Interpol.
Claims. Claims. Believed. Any more facts?
Her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, had been informed of the reports and appealed for anyone with information to come forward. But investigators have now debunked the alleged sighting and questioned the credibility of researcher Miraz Ullah Ali Isa.
Maybe he just made an honest mistake? Many others have seen her in – deep breath:
But the report is still understood to have sparked in investigation.
Any other names in this story?
Commissioner Sanny Amarilla, a deputy chief involved in the search, said four police stations, intelligence personnel from the Interior Ministry and Interpol divisions were involved in the search. He said: ‘We are investigating neighbourhoods where there are foreign citizens, villas, condos, to see if there is someone with a similar description that corresponds to the newspaper clipping. ‘This news stretches across the globe, it is very important. So if they are in the area we need to find this girl and return her to her family.’
But the allegations have now been dismissed by inspector Luis Ignacio Arias of Interpol in Paraguay, who said that his office had ‘nothing concrete’ about Isa’s identity. He told EFE the researcher had never contacted the National Police or the Foreign Ministry with his reported sighting.
The Sun: “‘Madeleine in Paraguay’: Cops launch manhunt after missing McCann is ‘spotted'”
More inverted commas, or are four in one headline enough? We hear more from the PI:
Ali told Color ABC: “My team and I received the information that Madeleine arrived in Paraguay a month or two ago and is living in Areguá in the custody of a woman.”
Bill Wyman is not dead. The former Rolling Stone’s been to the wedding to Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall. The Sunday Times featured him in an article on the “stars aligning for Rupert and Jerry”.
Today the Express leads with news that Bill Wyman, 79, is unwell. He is battling prostate cancer. In paragraph 14 on the paper’s Page 3, we wear that “his life has not been without controversy… There was an outcry in 1989 when after divorcing his first wife he married his 18-year-old girlfriend, the model Mandy Smith, who had had been dating since she was 14. He was 52 at the time.”
Bill Wyman is not dead. In life he’s invited to all the best parties.
The Mirror wants us to be more like “Brave Bill”:
Today the BBC reports:
In recent years, as the Jimmy Savile scandal unfolded, he approached police to ask whether they wanted to question him about their relationship. “I went to the police and I went to the public prosecutor and said, ‘Do you want to talk to me? Do you want to meet up with me, or anything like that?’ and I got a message back, ‘No,'” he said. “I was totally open about it.”
The Press and the BBC love Bill. Last season he was on a BBC sports show predicting the weekend’s Premier League results.
Get well soon, Bill. Don’t die. Because when you do, it’ll be open season on your past exploits. (Unless you’re David Bowie, John Peel or anyone else the BBC and mainstream media likes.)
The Queen wants the country to leave the European Union. She doesn’t vote, much like Russell Brand, but she knows the right course to plot. Well, so says the Sun, which delivers the news in an “exclusive bombshell”.
Readers might wonder why Her Maj would want to opt out of a union with countries that slaughtered their royals. Go it alone and the country needs a leader, someone who represents the place. Vote out and The Munsters are doomed.
The Sun adds that “Her Majesty let rip” at Nick Clegg. The phrase ‘let rip’ is ripe with odour. Betty spoke with “venom and emotion” in a “bust-up” with then deputy PM Nick Clegg. The source of this story is not named. And since publication the Queen’s PR mob have moved to distance her from it.
Oddly, this news comes just one day after the Sun led with a picture of the Queen’s grandson, Prince William, larking about on a “luxury ski trip”. Wills was “accused of shirking his job”, although it’s hard to pinpoint what that is other than being alive to claim the crown and extending the royal line. He’s accomplishing both tasks with skill. There is talk of his work with helicopters. What is it with helicopters and the Windsors? Prince Andrew flew one; Prince Harry learned to fly one; Sarah Ferguson drew one… Maybe the Anglo-Germans are making ready for a vote to remain in the EU, and the moment when they’ll need to beat a hasty retreat from the roof of Buckingham Palace.
A review of David Astor: A Life in Print, a biography of the former editor of the Observer, contained a number of errors (20 February, page 7, Review).
In the article we suggested that William Waldorf Astor was named after a hotel, when in fact his name referred to the family’s native Rhineland village.
He didn’t build Cliveden, as we suggested, but bought it, and he didn’t sack the editor of the Observer for spiking his contributions (although he did sack the editor of the Pall Mall Gazette, another Astor acquisition, for spiking his contributions).
We said Katharine Whitehorn was women’s editor of the Observer when in fact she was a columnist.
We said Patrick Leigh Fermor compared David Astor to Disney’s Pluto; Fermor actually compared the writer Philip Toynbee to that cartoon character.
Terence Kilmartin replaced Jim Rose as Observer literary editor, not JC Trewin.
During the war, David Astor didn’t merely suffer “a mild attack of dysentery” as suggested in the review.
In fact he was wounded in action during a German ambush in the Ardennes.
Terence Kilmartin is believed to have been involved in his rescue, and Astor was awarded the Croix de Guerre.