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Madeleine McCann: spotted in 90 countries; Netflix is ill; and the making of Our Maddie

kate mccann maddie

“How much worse can it get for the Portugal travel and tourism industry?” asks one website in response to the eight-part Netflix drama, a feast on the Madeleine McCann story. The question is left unanswered. But we can guess because when it comes to the media’s ‘Our Maddie’, aside from the single fact – child vanishes – guessing is all we have.

The Tab taps into the media narrative of a Maddie in every county, by telling us “These are all the Maddie McCann ‘sightings’ since she went missing in 2007”. Spoiler alert: she’s not been spotted anywhere since she vanished. Other children have. But not her. The last few years have thrown up very few ‘sighting’ but by 20011, the innocent child who vanished had been spotted in India, Canada, ItalySwedenPortugalSpain,  Morocco, Majorca,BelgiumBosniaFranceAustraliaBrazil,Wales, MaltaItaly, Germany, Australia, France, DubaiDorsetUSA and New Zealand (by boat). The Tab has more but, unhelpfully, without links:

Algeria, Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Azores, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, Canary Islands, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dubai, Egypt, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, French Polynesia, The Gambia, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ibiza, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jersey, Jordan, Kenya, Kosovo, Laos, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Madagascar, Madeira, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, United Kingdom, Ukraine, USA, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela and Vietnam.

The world is full of sleuths and suspects. And Maddies. And you can play along. Irish website Extra invites its readers to play armchair detective. The headline appears to be more suggestive than a puppy sat by a pile of poo: “HERE ARE THE 48 QUESTIONS KATE MCCANN DIDN’T ANSWER ABOUT MADDIE’S DISAPPEARANCE.” Stop Press: before you read on and start speculating, Kate McCann is not a suspect in her daughter’s vanishing. Gerry McCann is not a suspect. Both are innocent. In fact, there are no suspects. Everybody is innocent.

Not that this is all about an alleged crime. It isn’t even about the McCanns as real people – not since Madeleine McCann, the name her parents call her by, was reworked into ‘Maddie’ by a press pushed for headline space and concerned the story of the missing English blonde might sound a bit, you know, French. This is entertainment.

Get this in the Mail: “Madeleine McCann’s parents are ‘furious’ after retired detective repeats claim in new Netflix series that they put toddler’s life at risk by publicising her distinctive eye mark.” After the fury, the story:

Gerry and Kate McCann, both 51, from Rothley in Leicestershire, were said to be livid that Goncalo Amaral has again said the three-year-old’s life was endangered after the couple revealed the distinctive mark in her eye.

The abductor may have felt forced to kill the toddler after the mark was publicised, Mr Amaral, 59, suggested, due to her being easily identified.
Mr Amaral, who led the police investigation into the 2007 Praia de Luz disappearance, originally made the comments in a book he wrote in 2008.

He said it over ten years ago. An unnamed source tells the Sunday Mirror: “Mr Amaral doesn’t seem to have any compassion for Kate and Gerry and is only interested in publicising himself. To criticise them for doing ­everything they could to help find their daughter is insensitive in the extreme… If there is any defamatory content in there then, of course, they will consider what next steps need to be taken.”

A reported statement from the McCanns – via Digital Spy – reads:

“The production company told us that they were making the documentary and asked us to participate.We did not see – and still do not see – how this programme will help the search for Madeleine and, particularly given there is an active police investigation, it could potentially hinder it. Consequently, our views and preferences are not reflected in the programme.”

And on and on it goes. Screw the lowered ambition of a trite documentary. Why not go for the theatre play? The Mousetrap could use a rival.

Posted: 17th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, Madeleine McCann, News | Comment


Transfer balls: Monchi agrees Arsenal move and joins Seville

On February 25 this year, the Daily Mirror reported: “Arsenal transfer news: Monchi ‘agrees deal’ to become Gunners sporting director.” Yesterday, Ramon Rodriguez Verdejo, better known as ‘Monchi’ and blessed with the looks of a detective in the Obscene Publications Squad, started work in his new job at Sevilla.

What happened? Well, the Mirror’s scoop was based on an article in Il Messaggero, which said Arsenal had agreed to pay the “£2million” needed to activate the buy-out clause in his Roma contract. The odd bit is that the Italian website reports two days after the Mirror’s story – and this through Google Translate:

Evening Standard publishes today, Rome would have already resigned itself to salute Monchi. The current Giallorossi ds seems destined to reach Arsenal, one of the most glorious English clubs. The London newspaper notes that Monchi could even leave the Capital in advance, if the ‘Gunners’ pay a termination clause of around 3 million.

To the Standard, then, to read on February 26:

Roma are increasingly resigned to the departure of sporting director Monchi, with Arsenal a leading contender to hire him in the summer…

Monchi has been at Roma since 2017 and his contract, which has two more years to run, is thought to contain a release clause of around £2.6million.

Nothing agreed at all. And the fee is an issue. But one day earlier talkSport said it was a done deal – just look at the URL:

And on March 8, the Sun told us:

Monchi arsenal

Today the BBC reports: “Monchi will return to La Liga club Sevilla as sporting director, ending reported links with Arsenal.”

Such are the facts.

Posted: 17th, March 2019 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Key Posts, Sports | Comment


Comic Relief: David Lammy shamed whites into not giving

Comic RElief

Two stories about Comic Relief, the BBC’s tired telethon. What is about the BBC that shows are celebrated chiefly for their longevity? And those presenters who go on for eons – but at least Dr Who gets to regenerate his genitalia every couple of years. Maybe it’s about institutions needing other institutions to make the mob bow to their edifices of permanency and legacy? Or maybe it’s just laziness?

The first Comic Relief story is that some Tory MPs are angry (natch.) that the fundraiser dresses to the Left. The Mail on Sunday calls it an “AD FOR CORBYN”. In which case, hard cheese, Jezza, because the Sunday Times says Comic Relief raised £8m less than last year – £63m compared with £71.3m.

The blame for less cash is apparently rooted in Labour MP David Lammy citing tin rattlers for their “white saviour” complex. When the Beeb’s pro-celeb dance champion and journalist Stacey Dooley, 32, uploaded a photo of herself posing with a young African child in Uganda she captioned it “Obsessed!”, “as if she was plugging a new face cream, not holding an unhappy Ugandan child.” Lammy saw it and tweeted: “The world does not need any more white saviours.”

The Times notes today: “Others said they had decided not to donate this year because they did not want to be accused of acting like a “white saviour”.” Nice one, Dave. Middle-class whites with spare cash will spend it on something else. What does Jess Phillips spend her money on? Farrow & Ball paint, festival tickets and Waitrose, possibly.

So how can we redistribute the world’s wealth and keep narcissistic politicians and celebs happy? Fair trade coffee, au pairs, cocaine and Filipino maids are a start. But this is about giving and who gets to give freely. We don’t tick a box declaring our race when donating money to Comic Relief, but maybe we should. In the current climate of identity politics, the State can use the data to work out which sort of people give the least and which give the most. Much fairer that way, right?

Africa’s poor will be waiting.

Posted: 17th, March 2019 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, Money, News, TV & Radio | Comment


After Christchurch: Daily Mail discovers the killer’s angelic blonde roots

Daily Mail Christchurch blonde

Did you know that the man who murdered 49 people as they prayed in a Christchurch mosque was once a blonde? You can mull over that as the Mail thought it wise to broadcast footage of the murderer’s live-streamed killing spree. The same papers that attacked Facebook for giving mass murder a platform – The Mail, The Sun and The Mirror – all ran excerpts online. In the race for web traffic, anything goes.

daily mail new zealand facebook
They are shameless; we are reporting

The videos were on the same pages as adverts for London North Eastern Railway (LNER) and Coral on The Mail and The Sun websites. The videos have now been removed.

Was the ISIS maniac ever an ‘angelic boy’ – or blonde?
Daily Mail Christchurch
For edited highlights click here

The Mail thought it informative to allow readers to download of the attacker’s 84-page manifesto as a PDF. It’s been removed from the site.

Andy Dawson puts it well:

Oh, and it’s not about Facebook. To blame the massacre on social media is a cop out. Nazis didn’t need social media to turn an entire nation to murderous extremism. The fear is that individuals with a warped agenda based on hating a group will see themselves as part of something bigger.

Posted: 16th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Tabloids | Comment


Man stands guard outside Manchester mosque to protect his friends

Mosque guard Manchester

After the massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand, a man in Manchester has taken up a role as a volunteer security guard outside the mosque in Levenshulme. “You are my friends,” says his message of support, “I will keep watch while you pray.”

It might be a time to say guards and police are routine outside synagogues in the UK. But all you can really says is ‘good on him [note]’.

Note: Who he is we don’t know. But the anticipation is that he’ll be hailed and then rubbished. Let’s not all stay in our lanes.

Update: his name’s Andrew Graystone.

He says: “I woke up on Friday morning and I heard the terrible news about the killings in the mosque in Christchurch in New Zealand. I began to think about how I would feel if I was a Muslim in Manchester going to Friday prayers today, perhaps feeling afraid or angry, and what small thing I could do to make a difference. You can either meet these things with either fear or friendship – that’s the choice we have to make and in the end friendship wins.”

Nice one.

Posted: 16th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


After New Zealand: Tom Watson calls Mark Zuckerberg ‘wicked’ and blames Facebook for massacre

Forty-nine people are known to have been murdered as they prayed in a New Zealand mosque. The killer live-streamed the massacre on Facebook. On LBC Radio, Labour Deputy Leader Tom Watson used his hosted show to call Mark Zuckerberg, the owner of Facebook, “wicked”. Watson said he “dreams of the day” when he no longer has to use social media.

The Sun New Zealand massacre

Watson sounds like the intro to 1970s TV show Why Don’t You?, which advised British children tuning in to turn the telly off and get a life – but only after they’d finished watching this show, which was more pure than all the other shows. So by all means use Twitter and Facebook, but only listen to people who advocate “decency”, like Tom Watson.

The Daily Telegraph calls the slaughter the first social media terror attack. The Sun calls the killer the ‘FACEBOOK TERRORIST”. The Mail says it’s the “MASSACRE SHAME ON FACEBOOK”. The mood is clear: more censorship is required to prevent a repeat of this. But is that how you stop a disease from spreading? And who gets to decide what we, the impressionable masses, get to see?

You can argue about what kind of person seeks out a video of people being murdered, and why anyone not involved in psychopathic studies would want to spend a muon of their time reading the killer’s long manifesto. But should things be banned?

daily mail new zealand facebook

Maybe context is key? In France, the odious Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right National Rally, is being investigated for her tweets. Her response to suggestions that the Far-Right has much in common with jihadism was to tweet the pointer “This is Daesh” and a series of gruesome photos. She thought it useful to show her followers images of a man being burned alive in a cage and decapitated US journalist James Foley. Le Pen has been charged with “circulating violent pictures liable to be seen by children”. “Sharing is caring,” says the blurb beneath social media icons. Not always it isn’t.

So, who else be blamed?

The Hill:

“New Zealand Police alerted us to a video on Facebook shortly after the livestream commenced and we quickly removed both the shooter’s Facebook and Instagram accounts and the video,” Mia Garlick, Facebook’s director of policy for Australia and New Zealand, said in a statement. Facebook is “removing any praise or support for the crime and the shooter or shooters as soon as we’re aware,” Garlick added.

A caller to Watson’s show said words heard in any video can be transcribed by machine learning. If the broadcast features a word on the banned list, then the video is flagged. So, for instance, a video of Tom Watson talking about “porn” and “white supremacy” would be flagged and blocked at the gate. The problem with that approach is clear. No platforming words and ideas diminishes us all.

What to do? Well, a word from Waleed Aly is worth listening to:

Posted: 16th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians, Tabloids, Technology | Comment


Plastic bag walks across the road – video

I say, I say, i say, how did the plastic bag cross the road? First insert a frozen chicken, then warm in the sun and wait.

Posted: 16th, March 2019 | In: Gifs, Key Posts, Strange But True | Comment


The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann: TV at its most pathetic

mccann maddie podcast

Netflix’s Madeleine McCann documentary was full of shocks and theories from experts in ‘Our Maddie’ Studies (OMS). So dire was the that the missing child’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, refused to take part. How can you fill an eight-part TV show if the people who knew the subject best won’t say anything new? Will eight hours of grainy footage, newspaper cuttings and speculation be enough to keep subscribers tuned in to a show without end?

The director wants “to take the viewer on the journey that the public went on”. This is what happens when you watch the X Factor too often: you realise a journey can lead nowhere.

The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann opted for timeline over insight. So we get Madeleine McCann jetting off on her hols; Madeleine McCann playing on her hols; Madeleine McCann going missing on her hols; get the full glossary of OMS terms – Cuddle Cat, Tapas 7, Arguido, Amaral – and then lots of ‘Our Maddie’, and how the British child became public property and a docu-drama on pay-for-view US telly.

The single thread story spun by a voracious media was all Netflix had and it wasn’t going to bother finding anything more.

If you know what happened to her, call the police. If you want to see a crime show, watch an Agatha Christie.

Posted: 15th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, Madeleine McCann, News, TV & Radio | Comment


College bribery scam: the education system is a game; Hallmark sacks actress; rich kids are just donors-in-waiting

Hallmark Channel has severed business dealings with actress Lori Loughlin. Hallmark dims the lights to a 20watt soft-focus in rose-pink, tilts its head, and says it’s “saddened” by news of the allegations that Lori pays to game the college system.

Who knew? We thought America was a meritocracy. The fact that Ivy League schools take in more children of families in the top 1 per cent of the income distribution than from the bottom 60 per cent was surely just a weird quirk.

Loughlin, previously seen on Full House, the Garage Sale Mysteries films and When Calls the Heart, and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, are accused of bribing college officials to get their children into decent schools. They and others are implicated in a scam to pass their progeny off as bright and able, often as budding athletic stars.

The FT:

The children of the accused parents were presented as nationally ranked athletes in tennis (Georgetown), pole-vaulting and rowing (University of Southern California), women’s soccer (Yale), and sailing (Stanford); but these “sailors” didn’t know a tiller from a toolbox. In some cases, photographs of athletes were Photoshopped to look like the applicants.

I sail therefore I math.

(Has anyone actually seen Prince Edward play real tennis? The Earl of Wessex scored a C and two Ds at A level. He was given a place at Cambridge to read history – a course kids with less hidden talents needed 3 As to attend.)

Investigators claim Loughlin and Giannulli agreed to pay $500,000 in bribes to help their daughters get into the University of Southern California, by pretending they were crew-team recruits… The fallout has also extended to Loughlin’s daughters, Olivia Jade Giannulli and Isabella Rose Giannulli. Sephora dropped its partnership with Olivia, a YouTube star and social media influencer. Critics are now calling for USC to expel both of the young women.

Not their fault, though, right, that their neurotic, vain, insecure and needy parents look like skinflints? Reports suggest Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law, got into Harvard after his father made the school a $2.5m donation. Look not at my thicko daughter’s apathy, dead headmaster, but consider instead the state of the taps in your bathroom and how solid gold ones never rust.

The system is flawed. A USA Today writer opines: “As Stanford and Yale and the University of Southern California scramble to distance themselves from these criminal corruptions, perhaps we might all consider all the legal corruptions of the entire college admissions process.”

Tyler Cowan adds: “First, these bribes only mattered because college itself has become too easy, with a few exceptions. If the bribes allowed for the admission of unqualified students, then those students would find it difficult to finish their degrees. Yet most top schools tolerate rampant grade inflation and gently shepherd their students toward graduation. That’s because they realize that today’s students (and their parents) are future donors (and potential complainers on social media). It is easier for professors and administrators not to rock the boat. What does that say about standards at these august institutions of higher learning?”

It all says one thing: school’s a racket. Learn a trade. Do a job.

Posted: 15th, March 2019 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, Money, News | Comment


A plea for mirrors and no more weed from Lee Scratch Perry

Lee Scratch Perry has politely requested his fans relent from giving him weed. He has plenty. If you must give anything, give mirrors. The fabled reggae star tweets:

Lee Scratch Perry

You know what’s coming don’t, you? Yep, mirrors being reclassified as a Class C drugs.

Posted: 15th, March 2019 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, Music, The Consumer | Comment


Madeleine McCann: Netflix show says actors kidnapped child

madeleine mccann netflix

There’s a  “Maddie shocker” on the Daily Star’s cover. The paper doesn’t tell you what it is until you reach page 13. That location’s a clue, isn’t it. It tells us that the story isn’t shocking and certainly doesn’t reveal what happened to Madeleine McCann back in May 2007.  But let’s take the bait and flick through…

The story is about that new Netflix drama into the child’s vanishing. It will, says the marketing and the tabloid, “contain explosive new claims”. They’d best be good. We’ve heard some pretty edgy stuff in the decade and more since a 4-year-old girl on holiday became ‘Our Maddie’.

The Mail also trails the show. It tells us: “Haunting last footage of Madeleine McCann boarding a plane to Portugal with her family days before her disappearance is unearthed in new Netflix documentary.” Haunting because..? No reasons are given. She didn’t go missing on the plane to The Algarve. She didn’t board the plan and then – poof!  – vanish. It’s not haunting to see the child on the plane’s steps. It’s ghoulish.  

On page 29, the Mail conducts an interactive study. “Is this Maddie playing in Portugal just days before she vanished.” Before. Not after. So let’s say ‘yes’, it is her. Because a four-years-old on holiday will do a lot of playing. The Mail says the image of a child seen from the back who might or might be Madeleine McCann is “haunting”. The Mail sees ghosts where the rest of us see a flesh and blood child, and a mystery most likely rooted in the criminal rather than the supernatural.

Indeed, as part of Netflix’s armchair detective show, we see a “dramatic reconstruction of Maddie’s abductors…running through the resort’s streets with a child in their arms.” These kidnappers are played by “actors”. This is no CCTV footage of this as an actual event. And for reasons uncertain, the “couple” seen carrying a child in plain view constitute one man (brown skinned; 30-ish; jeans and trainers) and one woman (white; 30-ish, headscarf). Why they’re portrayed like this is unsaid. But, you know, telly. And it’s hard to get Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman to patch up their differences, even if it is to help with an open case. Also, very few actors resemble this early suspect:

One artist’s impression of the suspect

The “fleeing couple” also look not a lot like these “suspects”:

belgium-suspect1

Picture 1 of 6

If The Dandy comic did abductions

But there has been a breakthrough. Over in the Sun we get the answer to the Mail’s question. “Maddie,” says the paper, “New pic playing on hols.” Not now. Way back then.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 15th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, Madeleine McCann, News, Tabloids | Comment


Uefa pause from flogging junk food, debt and gambling to investigate Neymar for swearing in private

Uefa supports booze, junk food, debt and big oil but says no to sweating in private

We like footballers to be on-message when they talk, to speak about knife crime (against), isotonic drinks and potato crisps – two of your five a day, kids! – (for) and betting (do it lots because watching football is only fun and truly matters if it includes gambling and the chance to lose your home). So when Neymar, the irritating Paris Saint-Germain forward, offered his opinion that the perennial French chokers had been robbed by an absurd refereeing decision to award Manchester United a penalty that proved decisive when the two sides met in the Champions League he should have known to speak carefully. He didn’t. Uefa is all for football promoting betting, booze and debt but very much against footballers calling bollocks on VAR in a private comment to people who follow them. Uefa have, as the Times puts it, “launched an investigation into his sweary rant at the match officials after last week’s defeat”.

You will recall that referee Damir Skomina awarded United an injury-time penalty when Diogo Dalot’s wayward shot hit Presnel Kimpembe’s elbow. Having hands and lower arms in the penalty area is now an offence. Marcus Rashford scored from the spot to give United a 3-1 win on the night and send them through on away goals. No-one who loves the game laments the loss of PSG, a fashion brand masquerading as a sporting entity. But Neymar was rightly cheesed off.

“This is a disgrace,” Neymar wrote to his followers on Instagram. “They put 4 people that know nothing about football in charge of looking at the replay for VAR. There is no penalty. How can it be a handball when it hits his back! Go f**k yourselves!”

In response, Uefa has detailed an – get this – “Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector” to investigate Neymar’s comments. If found guilty of being rude, Neymar, one the world’s best players, could be banned for three matches. Which makes you wonder what the ban would have been had he said what he really thought of the ***** VAR ***** ****s!

Now eat your junk food, make your bet and obey the rules. Uefa is watching.

Posted: 14th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Josh Stone plays North Korea

North Korea Josh Stone

Joss Stone has sang at a bar in North Korea, as part of her Total World Tour. Stone intends to perform in every one of the worlds country’s. She’s ticked off North Korea, Iraq and Syria without problem.

“It was a little scary crossing the border as of course we have absolutely no idea what might transpire,” said Stone to her Instagram followers. “We just have to trust the people on the ground that are advising us and looking after us”. 

In Mr Kim’s kingdom, Stone got to hang out with British ambassador to the country, Colin Crooks. “Amazing to meet @JossStone tonight in #Pyongyang and see her perform,” Mr Crooks wrote on Twitter. Given his usual entertainment diet of mime acts and the glorious leader on the telly boasting about the country’s 8th World Cup victory and moon landings, Stone’s show can only have been a huge relief. Crooks must have clapped loudly, and possibly whopped before sobbing about missing out on the Brazil job.

Posted: 14th, March 2019 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, News | Comment


Brexit: cats bark in the House of Fools

All tabloids bar the Daily Star lead with Brexit. The Star begins its take on world affairs with news that a thug has glassed “EastEnders Girl” Katie Jarvis. The actress plays Hayley Slater in the soap opera without end. We wish her well. But it’s another soap opera elsewhere that occupies the rest.

The Daily Mirror says the country is facing “months of chaos” and “mayhem”. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock or got poked in the Big Brother house at closing time – and lucky you if you have been – Theresa May’s Brexit deal was last night defeated for a second time in the Commons. MPs rejected her withdrawal agreement by a whopping 149 votes. More votes will now follow. MPs will vote on whether the UK should leave the EU without a deal and, if it should not, on whether Brexit should be delayed. Funny, no, how MPs get to have so many “meaningful” votes when we are just afforded just one – and it’s the one they’ve done their utmost to stymie.

Inside the Mirror, and over pages 4 and 5 we get odds on what will happen next. You can get 40-1 on May getting her deal through; 30-1 on a second referendum; 10-1 on a “softer Brexit – although what the means is moot; and 15-1 on a General Election. iI shot: no-one has a clue (dead cert). Odds on May having an affair with Jeremy Corbyn (80-1); Boris Johnson having an affair with Jeremy Corbyn (25-1); and Jeremy Corbyn f****** himself (11-10) are all available on request.

On page 6, we hear Corbyn urge MPs to ‘back Labour’s rival Brexit plan”. What that plan is remains less certain than a Corbynista queuing for the toilet at a conference of black, transgender Jewish lesbians. The paper notes: “After detailing Labour’s Brexit proposals, he [Corbyn] added: ‘We believe there will be a majority for the , but there will also be the potential of negotiating them.” The Mirror does not bother to outline the proposals. They just exist and are able to change. Why waste the ink?

What the papers do agree on is the need for a map. Political intrigue is great for graphic designers and illustrators.

brexit
The Sun
brexit
The Mail

And what of Mrs May, the architect of a useless plan? The Daily Mail blames not her for the mess, rather “contemptuous MPs” for plunging “our despairing nation into chaos”. It calls the House of Commons a “house of fools”. Is that bad? Umberto Eco identified fools as one of four kinds of people:

Fools are in great demand, especially on social occasions. They embarrass everyone but provide material for conversation…Fools don’t claim that cats bark, but they talk about cats when everyone else is talking about dogs. They offend all the rules of conversation, and when they really offend, they’re magnificent…

Fools they are, then.

Posted: 13th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Tabloids | Comment


Brexit: ‘traitor’ Tony Blair readies France to invade the UK in 45 minutes

tony blair
“Et Voila! There’s your withdrawal agreement, Britishers!”

Look out for the air and sea invasion. Tony Blair has been advising France’s President Macron on ways to beat the Brits in Brexit negotiations.

We voted for Brexit but Tony’s a bit ‘whatevs’ on the democracy lark. That Blair has no truck with democracy is something echoed by supporters of Saddam Hussein who voted their man into power on the kind of majority politicians dream of. On 16 October 2002, Saddam polled 100% of the popular vote, eclipsing the 99.96% received in 1995. The first message is clear: be careful what you wish for, dear Remainers, the second referendum might go worse for you. The second message is: a 52% percent approval rating for Brexit is the kind of result that gets Blair on the phone to fighter command. If he goes with form, France should invade the UK in around 45 minutes.

The Telegraph says the storied interventionist told Macron to “hold firm” while events play out in the UK. Blair told him that Parliament may eventually accept a customs union or grant the British public a second referendum on Brexit. So don’t give the sods an inch.

Ukipper Douglas Carswell writes in the Telegraph:

Stop and think about that for a moment. The French government is taking advice on how to deal with our country from someone last elected to public office fourteen years ago. That’s the same year that YouTube started – or two years before the first smartphone appeared.

TREASON! screams the Express. The paper hears “ex-Labour MP George Galloway” take to Twitter to say: “This is treason!” Last month the Express reported: “John Mann brands George Galloway a ‘TRAITOR to Labour.” Is Blair merely the alleged traitor’s alleged traitor? Is Macron Blair’s lovechild?

And vitally: can we start the air, rail and sea blockade with Blair still in Paris?

Posted: 12th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment


After the Jack Grealish attack: it’s time all footballers were armed

stone island
Fire at will!

After Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish was attacked by a Birmingham City fan during Sunday’s derby at St. Andrew’s, reaction was swift. The idiot was jailed for 14 weeks.

Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville wondered that would have happened had the criminal been carrying a knife. It was a good question, although I wondered why Neville had thought only of a knife and not, say, a gun, candlestick or length of lead piping?

Neville’s thinking was doubtless shaped by historical events, particularly when Monica Selles was stabbed between the shoulder blades by a keen Steffi Graf fan during a break between games in a 1993 match in Germany. If it can happen in the rough trade of women’ tennis, why not in football’s controlled and marshalled realm?

Such is his breadth of Neville’s sporting knowledge, we should expect to hear the ubiquitous former Manchester United defender commentating at Wimbledon soon.

Meanwhile, over the airwaves on BBC Radio Wales – thus marking the punch as an international incident – ex-Birmingham forward David Cotterill served up the suggestion that police attending football matches be armed with guns. “Shoot” scream the crowd as the players take cover.

Again, the ex-pro is not going far enough. Why not twin football with darts or the javelin? Moreover, if the Modern Pentathlon can test athletes for their prowess with fencing, freestyle swimming, equestrian show jumping, and a final combined event of pistol shooting and cross country running, surely its within the wit of the FIFA to equip all footballers with rifles and print targets on replica kits issued to all fans at the turnstiles. Although given many football hooligans’ predilection for the Stone Island fashion brand, anyone clad in crosshairs is already fair game.

Posted: 12th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Sports | Comment


Manchester City: how much compensation can a club owned by trillionaires afford to pay victims of sexual abuse?

barry bennell abuse
The star maker – Barry Bennell

Former Manchester City youth coach Barry Bennell abused children at the club and at Crewe Alexandra between 1979 and 1990. He is serving a 31-year prison sentence.

To date, City are aware of 40 men who could take up the club’s decision to offer them compensation and a face-to-face apology.

But how much cash is enough? City say any claims will be dealt with within seven weeks. That’s faster than the civil courts. And how would City defend the indefensible?

The BBC says there are also allegations against a second man from the club’s youth set-up in the 1960s – John Broome. He was involved at City from 1964-71. He’s dead. He’s accused of raping children.

Gary Cliffe, one of Bennell’s victims, goes on the record: “They [City] let us down, they didn’t challenge him. They knew who he was and they allowed it to continue because he was producing results.”

How much is the right amount of compensation for being raped and abused as a child? And should the payment be linked to the club’s extraordinary wealth? The BBC says victim can apply for general damages, “potential loss of earnings if their careers have been affected, therapy fees and legal costs. The list had me up to “if”. Everything is affected. No ifs. No buts.

The talk if of six-figure sums. Enough? The Guardian:

…Bennell, who was convicted last year of 50 specimen charges relating to 12 boys, aged eight to 14, from 1979-91, and has been described by the police as one of the worst paedophiles in UK criminal history, numbers-wise, with potentially hundreds of victims – in one case, even taking one of City’s youngsters on to the pitch at Maine Road, the club’s former ground, to abuse him behind the goal…

Police documents from the 1990s question City’s stance during the criminal investigation, with one detective suggesting the club’s priority was to avoid damaging publicity. The now-deceased Len Davies, a scout who worked alongside Bennell, admitted that one of England’s major football clubs was “beguiled and hoodwinked” by the man, now 65, who liked to be known as “the star-maker.”

Of course that was then. Nothing of the sort happens now, does it?

Posted: 12th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, Manchester City, News, Sports | Comment


Michael Jackson: beat him and burn him but don’t miss the Wacko Jacko exhibition at The Tate

Michael Jackson fan Seany O'Kane displays a message of support
Michael Jackson fan Seany O’Kane displays a message of support

No-one’s dug Michael Jackson up and beaten the corpse with sticks. Nor have they set his remains alight – and given his latter-years’ waxy appearance, stuck a wick in his head and let him burn so that all the living can see what we do to dead stars accused of molesting children and getting away with it. For now we’ll have to make do with burning Wacko Jacko’s memorabilia, which is what anyone who tuned into HBO’s four-hour-long documentary Leaving Neverland saw as the closing credits rolled. Before we got to the burning pyre of branded Jackson merchandises, we heard the harrowing and credible testimonies of Wade Robson and James Safechuck. The two claim that they were abused as children by Michael Jackson.

But unless Jackson begins to speak and justice can grind and arrive at some incorruptible truth, facts are hard to ascertain, and people will take sides and turn hideous, grim alleged crimes into a shouting match.

All we have is a spark of light in the darkness that is soon extinguished, leaving us to flounder in search of its source. Maybe the next spark will alight on a new angle and flash us glimpses of different propositions, thing to stir our hunches and armchair investigations based on prejudice, righteousness, caprice and schadenfreude? After all, as Tim Black notes, “Robson was convincing and credible in 2005, when he took to the stand in defence of Jackson, over allegations of child molestation. And then he was not facing the sympathetic director of Leaving Neverland, Dan Reed, but fearsome prosecution attorney Tom Sneddon.” But that’s child abusers for you: they know their quarry are easily scared.

So what are you going to do with your Michael Jackson clobber and records? It’s not as if he sang about paedophilia and promoted it as a lifestyle choice. The music and videos were wildly entertaining. Can you ignore the man and delight in their product?

Last year, the Tate exhibited the work of English artist Edward Burne-Jones (28 August 1833 – 17 June 1898). The brochure says he “brought imaginary worlds to life in awe-inspiring paintings, stained glass windows and tapestries”. You can see his work at the National Portrait Gallery. When not making worthy art, Eddie was busy being a virulent anti-Semite. His Jew hatred was “blatant and repulsive“. And what of Phil Spector? He murdered a woman. You can hear his records on the radio and buy the house where the crime took place.

Patience, Jackson diehards. Your hero will rise again. The smart investor will be buying up Jackson’s oeuvre and old tour jackets while prices plummet. One day they’ll put on a show at the Tate and that stuff will be worth a bomb.

Posted: 11th, March 2019 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, News, TV & Radio | Comment


Woman offers umbrella to Python eating a wallaby

Woman offers umbrella to Python eating a wallaby

“I was driving back up the drive and glanced back across the paddock and saw something big and thought ‘oh no, I don’t like the look of this’,” says Miss Lisa Delany, of Queensland, Australia.

“I parked the car and had a look and from a distance I could see that it was a python. It was starting to get quite hot and I felt kind of sorry for the snake because it was going to all this effort. I went and got a really big umbrella and sort of laid it so it was casting some shade on it.

“I went back later and had a look and it had sort of regurgitated a bit of [it] and was trying to work its way back up the body. Whether it got too hot or it felt threatened, it had just given up … I’ve just been keeping an eye out in the meantime.”

Spotter: ABC

Posted: 11th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Strange But True | Comment


Found: the first recorded use of the word ‘Fuck’

Fuck monk first recorded word english language

“It would be impossible to imagine going through life without swearing, and without enjoying swearing,” says Stephen Fry.  What’s good for him was good, too, for a 1528 monk., whose line “O D fuckin abbot” is the earliest recorded use of the word ‘fuck’ in the English language.

Spotter: Flashbak

Posted: 11th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, Strange But True | Comment


Biased BBC: John McDonnell is Fleabag on BBC News

John McDonnell BBC

More questions over the dreaded mainstream media’s treatment of Jeremy Corbyn and his comrades after last night’s BBC News at Ten used an image of shadow chancellor John McDonnell to trail a TV show called Fleabag during a segment on Brexit.

Fleabag is about an angry, confused young woman living in London. As anyone knows, John McDonnell as with Corbyn, is an angry and confused man living in London. Although Labour abhors gender labelling, so McDonnell might well be angry and confused woman living in London after all.

John McDonnell is 68.

Posted: 11th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, Politicians, TV & Radio | Comment


Shamima Begum to get Duke of Edinburgh gold award

begum shamima

Aid workers and refugees were in mourning today at the news that a child has died in a refugee camp. “We’re inconsolable,” says Farida Agha, a Yazidi woman living in a nearby camp. “I just hope the refugee community can finally come together over this terrible tragedy. Like me, Shamima Begum experienced the horror of war. Sure, I was raped, sold into slavery, my brother beheaded and father buried alive in a pit, and Shamima’s role was to make tea, babies and cheers for the killers, but we both of us now live in tents. There’s a common bond.”

“Up til now no-one had ever died in a refugee camp,” says Kurdish widower Ibrahim Kalhor. “We Kurds used to live in houses and flats, too far away from nature. We ate processed food and took drugs and pills for our ailments. But thanks to the likes of Shamima and her friends’ tireless efforts, our diet is now one exclusively of flour and water. Our cancers, mental illness and my son’s diphtheria can be treated with fresh air and the warming sun.”

“They should give Shamima an MBE,” says one source known locally as ‘Jihadi Jane’. “Or at least a job running the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme. (May death be upon him!) Doing the Jihad Scheme is one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life. It’s been an amazing adventure. Shamima inspired me to explore new territories. I’ve gathered friendships and the experiences and memories that will last a lifetime. Not your’s obviously, because you’ll be dead as soon as I’ve finished polishing my knife.”

Posted: 9th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Shamima Begum: the baby is alive, dead and possibly British

Shamima Begum son dead
Facts: zero. News: lots

Shamima Begum is back in the news because her lawyer, Tasnime Akunjee, has “told the Guardian”: “We have strong but as yet unconfirmed reports that Shamima Begum’s son has died. He was a British citizen.” We can debate the boy’s nationality at our leisure. And we can all wonder why the lawyer has gone on the record with a rumour?

Shamima Begum

But, boy, have the media ever lapped it up. Akunjee seems to “told” the Guardian pretty much exactly what he told everyone else on Twitter, posting today: “We have strong but as yet unconfirmed reports that Shamima Begums son has died. He was a British Citizen.”

EXCLUSIVE: Akunjee speaks to everyone

“Leaks said that ISIS bride Shamima’s son died are fake. The bebe [sic] is alive and healthy,” tweeted Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces.

Fact. Who needs ’em…

Posted: 8th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Billionaire with Short Man Syndrome dies in penis enlargement operation

penis operation enlargement

Sometimes enough is enough. He was 65. What a schmuck. Not a big one – well, not as big as he wanted to be. But rest well Ehud Arye Laniado, a billionaire diamond trader who reportedly died during penis enlargement surgery that triggered a “heart attack’ at a Paris clinic for big swinging dicks.

The Sun’s obituary is choice:

According to media reports, Laniado suffered from a so-called Napoleon complex due his short stature. The old friend [no that ‘old friend’] said that Laniado was “always focused on his appearance and how others perceived him”. According to Laniado’s friends, the only time he forgot about his short height was when he asked his accountant to read out his bank statement, something which he did multiple times a day, it was reported.

You can argue about why he grew big in diamonds – rock-hard diamonds prized for quality over size – amongst yourselves.

Posted: 7th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Strange But True | Comment


Madeleine McCann: Netflix and Maddie Podcast in ratings battle

mccann maddie podcast

Netflix and chill to the Maddie McCann documentary soon-to-be streamed to your living rooms. It’ll be a show that tugs hard on the single-thread story: child vanishes. What light it will shed on the vanishing is clear to anyone whose followed the story since May 2007, when the British child disappeared on a family holiday to Portugal. None. This is entertainment. Child vanishes, possibly abducted and, if the media narrative is right, maybe sold into slavery and sexually abused. Netflix and chill.

Madeleine McCann’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, have taken no part in the show, say reports. But they’ll know about it, and if the McCanns take out a Netflix subscription they can watch it and thereby find out if Maddie is a hit.

But who needs to wait for Netflix’s hot take when the ‘Our Maddie’ show has barely paused for breath since it first aired on May 3 2007. On today’s 9News (Australia) you can read: “Top Maddie cop: ‘I’ve seen nothing to make me think Gerry and Kate McCann had something to do with daughter’s disappearance’.” Well, d’uh. If you had done, Mr Top Cop, you’d have surely questioned them about it. But the bigger question remains: can you build a media career on knowing nothing?

Before we hear from Jim Gamble, the former head of Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre (CEOP), know this: “Maddie is currently the number one podcast on Australia’s iTunes chart, reaching that spot inside of 24 hours of launch.” We’re Number 1!

In episode two of Maddie, Nine.com.au’s new podcast investigating Madeleine’s disappearance, Gamble outlined the profilers’ mission, and potential crime scene scenarios his team explored.

“When the case first began to unravel … I began to simply watch the news feed and then get direct feedback from our team on the ground,” Gamble said. “Being a police officer, I am a cynic… I believe that any good investigator clears the ground beneath their feet. So of course the first people you suspect are the parents, because they are there, they are in proximity, it is their child. Did I believe at the beginning that the parents could possibly have done it? Yes. As time went on, did I see evidence that supported that hypothesis? No, I did not.”

Adding apropos of ‘ME!’:

“Now that’s not to say that something couldn’t turn up in the future where I think: ‘Oh flip, you know I was right in the beginning and I’m wrong now’. But I’ve seen nothing, been briefed on nothing and heard nothing that would make me think that Gerry and Kate McCann [had] something to do with their daughter’s disappearance.”

What utter balls. Speculation is not news. But enough of that old copper because here comes another one. The Mail hears the plod of shiny boots on media studio carpet: “Friend of Kate McCann slams retired police chief who said their claims Maddie was abducted through their apartment window raised a ‘red flag’.”

A family friend to Kate McCann has slammed claims made by a top superintendent that the story around her disappearance raises ‘red flags’.
In a podcast by 9 News, retired superintendent Peter MacLeod cast doubt on the logistics of an abductor theory and said it would have been ‘difficult’ for a kidnapper to have entered the Praia da Luz apartment as three-year-old Madeleine slept. However a friend of the family refuted the ‘spurious allegations’ and the suggestion that Madeleine’s parents, from Rothley, Leicestershire, had anything to do with her kidnapping.

The family “friend” remains nameless, as ever it was. The Mail quotes McLeod:

During the podcast, titled Maddie, the retired police chief said: ‘The window is only an absolutely maximum 50cm wide, in reality 46 wide, and it’s already a metre off the ground. I had a look at that and my shoulders are wider than that little window. So although you could climb in sideways you certainly can’t jump in if you are a normal sized person.’

[Size of his shoulders unstated but available on request.]

‘I frankly do not think it’s possible. It would be difficult enough to get yourself in. You’d have to grab hold of windows, grab hold of things. Then you’ve got to pick up a child without waking it up without waking the other two children. I do not think it can be done, or let me put it another way, I do not see how anyone could do it.’

Insight be damned!

A “friend to the McCann family” tells the Sun: “Spurious allegations discussing what might have and might not have happened that night have been made umpteen times. Anybody can do a podcast, it doesn’t mean it’s right, and one spouting off about what they did and subsequently said is something quite frankly they will ignore. What would he know?”

Well ignored. And now for the main event… which will be right after over a decade of prequels…

Posted: 6th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, Madeleine McCann, News | Comment