If you get delve into the steaming heap of pleading, bias, fiscal nous, screeching, virtue-signalling, baby-kissing, dreaming, pining, narcissism, spiritual zeal, butchery and guff, at the root of society, you’ll find the whole point of governance: to support human life. You can consult the history books and thereby, say the knowledge wallahs, learn how not to repeat mistakes of the past. But most of us know what we want and where we need to go to get it. We want a good life. So how did it come to this? How did the parents of terminally-ill baby Charlie Gard end up fighting for their son’s existence in the High Court in London?
Charlie suffers from infantile onset encephalomyopathy mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome (MDDS). He’s ill. Very ill. He cannot see, hear, move, cry or swallow. Everything he does is dictated by invasive machines. Science and electricity keep Charlie Gard alive.
And in technology, Charlie’s parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, have hope. They know of an experimental treatment that could prolong their son’s life. Doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GSOH), where Charlie is on life-support, say they have explored many treatment options and none would improve Charlie’s quality of life and he should be allowed to die. Judges at the European Court of Human Rights ruled further treatment would “continue to cause Charlie significant harm”.
But that hope, the thing that makes us human and active lingers and nags. It drives Charlie’s parents on. They’ve raised £1.3m through donations to take their son to the US for an experimental treatment called nucleoside therapy. It’s untested. Not even mice have tried it. And it’s not being offered as a cure. Having seen the report on Charlie’s brain damage, the American doctor stated that he could “understand the opinion that [Charlie] is so severely affected by encephalopathy that any attempt at therapy would be futile. I agree that it is very unlikely that he will improve with that therapy.”
GSOH says Charlie should be allowed to die with dignity. Charlie is 11-months-old. Dignity is for the aged, the lived and the caring. Can an innocent die with anything but dignity? Can a child yet to make his first birthday have an undignified death? The adults are charge. They are keeping him alive and deciding the manner, time and, through language, the narrative of his death.
Medics will offer Charlie the utmost respect through a hard-fought death; but they will not offer him more life. They’ve blended hard-nosed, pragmatic, experienced views with statistics into a thick gunk, added some sweetness to mask the taste and handed it to Charlie’s parents. Give it to the lad. Swallow once and wait for the end. It’ll be ‘peaceful’.
But for everyone involved in this case – the living – it isn’t peaceful. Hurt by a seriously ill child with an inherited disease, the parents are cursed doubly with hope stymied by bureaucracy .“There is no love of life without despair of life,” wrote Albert Camus. Hope doesn’t mean denying the horror of their son’s appalling condition and appealing for the impossible. Hope is about remembering triumph.
So we give them money. We want the Gard family to prevail. And from the medics, one small boy’s life is now down to the lawyers. The case is now about the State’s reason and critical thinking versus emotion. We know hope won’t do it. It’s not enough. But the money might. The intrepid medics could help. Things are not certain. There is a miniscule chance of something incredible. And in that tiny space, we see a need to act. Hope, more muscular than mere optimism, is the trigger for action. Not to act on hope is to be complicit and complacent this side of the grave. Against cruel nature Charlie’s parents have a chance to influence the outcome.
You’d deny them that chance? I wouldn’t. I’d let them seize it. Things might not change for the better, but they can change.
Can we link the ban on smoking in public places to the death of pubs? It’s been ten years since the introduction of the smoking ban in England. Lots of pubs tried to make up for the loss of income from banned smokers by selling food or setting aside outside places for smokers to sit. But the country is not all that warm, and wrapping yourself around a patio heater in November as you eat your chips and guacamole is not all that much fun. You might as well have a drink, a smoke and an oven-ready meal at home.
And then there are the drinking pubs – so so called “wet-led pubs” – which rely on drinkers not eaters, where food is nuts, crisps and something picked in a jar on the counter. These pubs are more likely to be in less wealthy areas, where the working class go for a sit, a chat, a drink and a smoke.
The Guardian looks at the fate of pubs on housing estates, where space for smokers’ gardens is not an option:
English postwar estate bars are often seen as a joke: “Never drink in a flat-roofed pub,” the saying goes. But these pubs – whether they’re 1930s-style redbrick structures with pitched roofs and large beer gardens, or forbidding cubes of wood and brick that squat in the shadow of tower blocks – are now at risk. They’re being closed and converted into shops or apartments, boarded up and left to rot, or completely wiped from the map, leaving a cleared site and an empty car park.
“There’s a huge level of threat: these pubs are dropping like flies,” says Emily Cole of Historic England.
Jeremy Corbyn has been “enjoying pizza” with a man who supports “Syrian dictator” Bashar Assad. The Sun has spotted Corbyn eating, nay “scoffing” with “pro-Russian journalist Marcus Papadopoulos”. One Washington newspaper calls Papadopoulos a “Russian agent”.
Most of us have no idea who Papadopoulos is lest what his opinions are. Helpfully, the Sun has searched Google and can tell us that last year Papadopoulos tweeted: “There was no siege of #Sarajevo, there was no genocide at #Srebrenica and there was no massacre at #Aleppo. Discard what Western media says”. This year he opined: “President Assad, the guardian of Christians in #Syria, celebrating Easter. I stand with him 100%…”
So much for the Sarajevo Roses. A Guardian leader article called Srebrenica a “place of horror that ranks alongside Auschwitz”. The one deed the dead can perform on behalf of the living is allowing us to bear witness to their suffering and the consequences of our freedom. Would you deny them that honour?
But no matter. Corbyn can explain. The Labour leader who was simply reaching out when he invited “friends” at jihad-endorsing, Jew-hating Hamas to take tea in Parliament (Hamas’s charter declares: “The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: ‘The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!”) and has a proclivity for sharingplatforms with anti-Semites is yet again an innocent.
The Sun quotes a “Labour spokesman” who says Mr Corbyn had been “joined briefly by Mr Papadopolous [sic], who asked to be photographed with Jeremy. Photographs of Jeremy with members of the public do not mean he endorses their views, as is the case on this occasion too.”
Do the two men know each other? The Times adds that Mr Papadopoulos “is editor of Politics First, a bi-monthly magazine with a circulation of just over 1,000. Mr Corbyn wrote for its last issue.”
So much for the right-wing Press’s view on the pizza date. What say the Mirror and Guardian on the matter? Nothing. Not a word. Is it a sign of information denial? Is news about feeling good and moralising journalists attaching themselves to pet causes, or is it about presenting the facts and trusting your readers?
Things are taking a nasty turn. It’s not politics that supports Corbyn; it’s a personality cult. And it’s dangerous.
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho can be a chippy, snide sort of man. But the man who likes to mask his own shortcomings by goading, belittling and mocking others should be impressed at how the tabloids see meaning in his most mundane observations “Jose Mourinho aims latest dig at Arsene Wenger over Alexandre Lacazette signing,” says the the Daily Express.
JOSE MOURINHO has mocked Arsene Wenger’s decision to sign striker Alexandre Lacazette with Manchester United saying the striker has “no stamina, no physical impact and is not a big-game player”.
What a sad sack he is. But hold on a moment. Mourinho didn’t say anything of the sort. Indeed, he didn’t say anything at all. The Express continues:
But a United source said: “Lacazette was followed because he was top scorer in French football – but a lot of his goals were penalties [10 of his 28 goals last season came from the spot]. In the end he wasn’t considered because he has no stamina, no physical impact and isn’t a big-game player.”
Words by Mourinho: nil.
Words by anonymous “source”: meaningless.
And then the Daily Mail hears more sniping. This time Mourinho “taunts” Chelsea over Romelu Lukaku.
What did he Jose say about his former club to manutd.com?
“Romelu is a natural fit for Manchester United. He is a big personality and a big player. It is only natural that he wants to develop his career at the biggest club. He will be a great addition to the group and I know they will make him very welcome. I am really looking forward to working with him again.”
Words about his former club Chelsea: nil.
Words about Lukaku’s selling club Everton: nil.
Words on how Lukaku is joining Manchester United because he and his agent will earn a shedload of cash: nil.
If it’s like this now, it’s only going to get worse when the actual football starts.
Ann Marie Morris is proof the Tories are “still nasty”, says The National. Ann Marie Morris is proof that the Conservatives are “in chaos”, says the Mirror. Ann Marie Morris is front-page news. She’s the Conservative MP for Newton Abbot. What she said during a meeting at London’s East India club to a group of Tory Eurosceptics is to terrible the paper refers to it as “n*****”, the word censored lest we say it and also become pariahs.
What Ms Morris said was that “the real nigger in the woodpile” about Brexit is if after the two-year negotiation period is up Britain and the EU haven’t agreed on trade contracts. It’s a remarkably stupid and ugly comment. You’ve got to wonder at anyone who uses it outside a class on arcane phrases loaded in racism. But surely one idiotic phrase doesn’t sum up an entire political party and the millions who voted for it.
When Prince Philip told British students in China “If you stay here much longer you’ll all be slitty-eyed”, the Mirror called it a “memorable gaffe“, a bit of misspeaking we should cherish. It was one of his many “classic quotes”, other being about Aboriginal “spear chuckers”. Did we hear them and say that his words summed up every Windsor in the Family Firm, including The Queen, Harry and Diana?
It’s not really about race. It’s about party politics, which is nasty and unsure. It means politicos have to be seen to be active. Theresa May, the actual Prime Minster, suspends Morris from their party. Labour MP Tulip Siddiq tweets: “I’m absolutely appalled by this. I assume PM will take appropriate action?” Andrew Gwynne, Labour’s campaign coordinator, says: “Theresa May once spoke about changing the Tories’ ‘nasty party’ tag. If she’s serious about that, she will admit it’s not enough for the Tories to ‘investigate’ and will apologise and act immediately. If that means withdrawing the whip, that’s what they should do.” Guardian invention Owen Jones wants action against other Tory MPs who were at the meeting and who failed to denounce Morris for her choice of phrase. For people against blood sports, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour seem to love the thrill of the hunt.
Neither circumspection nor reason is countenanced.
And Corbyn, with his interesting friends, should be sensitive to Morris’s re-education, after all when Naz Shah shouted “RAUS!” at the Jews, Corbyn told us, “We’re not saying she’s anti-Semitic. We’re saying she’s made remarks she doesn’t agree with.” More guff than gaffe.
In the Evening Standard, the London freesheet, news has moved on from a cat stuck up a tree in Neasden and bar openings to matters of national importance. There’s no time for investigations into local councils, social housing and iffy money – not when a former top Tory is talking to another former top Tory and about a current top Tory:
The pressure on Theresa May’s fragile leadership grew last night after she was reportedly described as “dead in the water” by a former Tory Cabinet minister.
Former chief whip Andrew Mitchell is claimed to have said at a private dinner that the Prime Minister “couldn’t go on”, adding she had “lost her authority” and was “weak”.
The serving MP is alleged to have made the comments on June 26, the day Mrs May struck a deal with the DUP to prop up her minority administration in Parliament.
You can read all about that in the newspaper edited by one George Osborne, who Theresa May sacked as Chancellor. Osborne’s the man who had he stuck around might have been in with a shout of being Prime Minister.
Time and time again Jemma Beale told police she’d been sexually assaulted by men. She lied and lied and lied. Beale made false rape or sexual assault claims against 15 men. The truly incredible thing is that the Crown Prosecution Service believed her every time. They were not alone – one innocent man was sent down for seven years. Somali-born Mahad Cassim, 37, spent almost four years in prison for a 2010 “rape”.
In the space of just four years, Jemma Beale told police she had been raped or sexually assaulted by six men and raped by nine, all strangers, in four different encounters. The Crown Prosecution Service thought Jemma remarkably unlucky. Or maybe Jemma drives sane men wild?
Perhaps in the eyes of the fair and circumspect police and CPS all men are rape suspects and all you need is an accuser to nail them?
Police only investigated Beale after one of her former girlfriends said the claims of a 2010 rape were false.
Detective Sergeant Kevin Lynott, who led the investigation into Beale’s false allegations, explains how things work:
“Cases such as this are exceptional and very rare but it does show how seriously we take allegations of rape and sexual assault and that we will carry out a thorough investigation in order to get to the truth.
“Beale is responsible for fabricating a series of extremely serious allegations, which led to several extensive investigations being carried out and teams of detectives and specialist officers spending thousands of hours on the cases and providing support to her.
“Her manipulation of the criminal justice system has caused police to direct significant amounts of resource into investigating her bogus complaints as well as her own offending.
“She has also significantly impacted on the NHS as a result of her complaints and used up many other limited resources that are relied upon by genuine survivors. Not only that, but she then went on to give false testimony at court, which resulted in the wrongful conviction and imprisonment of a completely innocent man.
“Beale has been exposed as a serial liar and I can only think that she was motivated partly by financial reward, but mainly the attention and control over her partners and family at the time she made the allegations.
“The impact on those she falsely accused has been devastating, however hopefully the outcome now fully exonerates all the men she falsely accused of such heinous crimes.”
So many innocent men ruined by the lies of one woman. It makes you wonder if the police were operating to an agenda?
When Donald Trump tweeted a meme made by Reddit user HansAssholeSolo, CNN were upset. The meme was a mash-up of footage of Trump wrestling WWE CEO Vince McMahon to the deck in 2007 altered so that McMahon’s face was replaced with CNN’s logo.
Trump and CNN are at loggerheads. He says they broadcast fake news to an anti-him agenda. They say he’s America’s enemy. HansAssholeSolo morphed this sad war of words into an actual fight. Joke. Geddit?
CNN didn’t. It’s issued a threat. No, not to Trump. They’re threatening HansAssholeSolo. If he lampoons CNN ever again, the broadcaster will stop talking truth to power and attack. Judgmental CNN reporter Andrew Kaczynski says CNN “reserves the right to publish his identity” if he commits “ugly behaviour on social media again”. To some this sounds like “blackmail“. Take on the corporation and you will pay. Comply or else. That Kaczynski’s makes his threat beneath the headline “How CNN found the Reddit user behind the Trump wrestling GIF” only adds to the absurdity. Unless the BBC can discover which leg Trump puts first into his trousers, that Pulitzer’s in the bag.
In a lengthy apology, a worried HansAssholeSolo says: “Free speech is a right we all have, but it shouldn’t be used in the manner that it was in the posts that were put on this site. I do not advocate violence against the press and the meme I posted was [not] advocating that in any way, shape, or form.”
It was a joke that thanks to Trump’s priapic tweet finger and monocular news agency CNN has gotten out of hand. And it’s exposed how prissy CNN is; how like Trump, CNN is over-sensitive, vain and self-regarding. It shows us how terrified CNN is of the power of newer, non-telly media. CNN’s viewers are in bed by 10pm and watching from rented rooms because they’ve tired of the hotel’s infomercial; twitter and Reddit users are tuning in anywhere at any time.
It’s as illuminating as it is entertaining. And the row is mildly contradictory: like The Donald’s skin, it’s terrible – and there’s not enough of it.
To Wimbledon, where American tennis player Jack Sock has tossed a towel into the crowd. Was he aiming at the lucky kid in the second row on a school day or the couple dressed like hit men for Del Monte in the front row?
Not the same is it – the shop-bought one. It’s not got the smell of duffel bag and the sense of occasion of being an actual towel that made it all the way to Wimbledon. Place matters. It’s why Wimbledon can charge a fortune for a seat, a glass of Pimms and a massive autograph ball. Take any of those items away from the All England clubs and they are just cheap patio furniture, a disappointing sticky drink and sports answer a stuffed donkey on a flight home from Benidorm.
The lad wants that towel. But its gone. Where to? We don’t know. But if you see a couple in matching outfits spreading a second-hand Wimbledon towel over a sunlounger at Hurlingham club, give it a sniff. If it smells of Jack Sock (top notes of sweat and tubigrip over base notes of chalk, apple pie and regret) shout, “Stop! Thief!” and make a citizen’s arrest.
Transfer Balls: Were you one of the Manchester United fans feeling “exited” when Chelsea’s Nemanja Matic’s was reportedly left out of the Blues’ new kit launch?
The Daily Mirror delivered the news: “Chelsea hint at Matic exit as Manchester United target is left out of kit launch.” Adding: “Jose Mourinho is keen on the Serbian midfielder, who was nowhere to be seen at the unveiling.”
The Manchester Evening News asked readers: “Have Chelsea hinted Nemanja Matic is joining Manchester United?”
And after thousands and thousands of Chelsea and Manchester United fans had clicked the stories, we watched the kit launch video and – yep- there was Matic in the Londoners’ new blue kit.
The shameless Mirror duly reported: “Manchester United fans get excited over Nemanja Matic deal – but midfielder IS in Chelsea kit launch.”
Those silly Manchester United fans, eh, believing what they read in the Mirror and their local paper.
Transfer balls: Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez has been offered £280,000 a week to continue kissing the badge. He’s in no rush to sign. Chances are high he will leave the Gunners. The Mirror quotes Ivan Zamorano, the former Chile and Real Madrid player, who opines: “What he really wants is to win the Champions’ League. And I don’t think he’ll have that chance at Arsenal.” Well, ‘duh. Arsenal have been in one final ever – they lost. And they’re not even in this season’s competition.
Of course, Sanchez had a better chance to winning the Champions’ League at Barcelona. But they got rid of him and triumphed in his absence. The question must be: is Sanchez a better player because he plays among less stella players? And if Champions’ League victory is his grail, why did Sanchez join Arsenal in the first place?
As for ‘news’, in the race for clicks, the Daily Star take the biscuit with its fake news story: “Alexis Sanchez is staying at Arsenal.” There it is on Google:
Take the bait. Click the link and you are told: “That’s according to Chilean reporter Juan Luis who works for TV station El Filtrador.”
Who? What? It’s a bit of guessing by a journalist on twitter presented as fact in a British newspaper.
And what about Bayern? The story was that Sanchez wanted to play for Bayern Munich and thereby win everything in the monotonous German league. But Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness says he won’t pay huge money for Sanchez: “The salaries being talked about up front of over €20 million [a year] are definitely an amount that isn’t feasible for FC Bayern.” And if Arsenal won’t sell Sanchez to Manchester City, where does the Chilean go to reap his reported demand of in excess of £300,000 a week?
Maybe Sanchez should just sit tight? In the last year of his Arsenal contract, he could claim his current £140,000 week, reasoning that any signing on fee would outweigh his reduced salary. He can talk to other European clubs in January. So long as his form and fitness endure, Sanchez would head to Bayern on a vastly reduced fee allowing the Germans to splurge all their cash on his wages.
It’s going to be a long summer. And Arsenal fans can spend it wondering how after Robin Van Persi and Samir Nasri were allowed to enter the final year of their contracts before joining rival clubs, the Gunners board let their best player get to this point again.
We usually see this kind of moody pout on the cover of Christmas books aimed at middle-aged men, you know the things with Jeremy Clarkson, Gordon Ramsay or some celebrity memoirist on the cover. They always look cheesed off with life. At the Manchester United kit launch players contrived much the same miserable look. We got Juan Mata is full proctologist mode. Paul Pogba looking affronted. Jesse Lingard anxious, adopting the pose of a man living in constant fear of a ball to the knackers. Victor Lindelof opted to be shrink-wrapped and laminated.
Manchester United’s stocking filler is the club’s new shirt, which looks a lot like the old shirt. It’s red. It’s got a blinged Swiss flag on it. And it’s got Wayne Rooney in it.
But it’s different. This one is red with black and white cuffs (supposedly inspired by the flags waved at Old Trafford on matchdays) and has a neat little button-up granddad collar. And that’s it.
So similar are old and new kits that clubs should invite fans to spot five differences to qualify for a discount.
Footballers get such a bad press it’s useful to focus on the good they do. Arsenal defender Hector Bellerin has kept his pledge to donate £50 for every minute he played for Spain in the European Under-21 Championship. The sums have been done and Bellrin will give £19,050 to the Red Cross fund helping survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire.
This follows news that Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling, who grew up in north west London and played for QPR, has also made a substantial donation to Grenfell survivors.
NOTE: Let’s hope all the money goes to those who need it. According to the Third Sector, the British Red Cross paid its highest earner £173,000 in 2017. Thirty-seven charities paid their top earner more than £200,000.
Transfer Balls: Is Kylian Mbappe heading from Monaco to Arsenal, Real Madrid or Liverpool? The Indy says the player’s “dropped a huge hint” he’s leaving the French club. So big is this “hint” that it now “looks certain he will now move”.
The Indy says Mbappe is surely leaving Monaco “after removing any reference to the club in his Twitter bio.” Jack Austin has the facts. But when we looked at Mbappe’s Twitter page we see two photos of the player wearing his Monaco kit? Not exactly shunning them, is he?
After that total balls, the Mirror says Mbappe is leaving Monaco. He’s going to play for…Arsenal. Maybe. The Gunners are “preparing a stunning £125million Kylian Mbappe bid”. Facts to support this story of an astronomical bid for an 18-year-old player there are none. Nil. Ziltch. Zippo.
But in the world of clickbait football reporting, when one newspaper makes a claim the others pile in and agree. So the Sun reads the Mirror’s scoop and declares: “ARSENAL will launch a mega £125million world record bid for Monaco hitman Kylian Mbappe this week.” It’s source? Yep, the Daily Mirror.
Amidst this human caterpillar of news reporting, the Mirror mentions another Arsenal target:
The Gunners are battling Real Madrid for the 18-year-old’s signature. But a deal for Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette seems far from done as the striker wants to join up with close friend Antoine Griezmann at Atletico Madrid.
So says Steve Stammers in a story timestamped at “22:30, 2 JUL 2017”
But in another Daily Mirrorstory by Darren Lewis dated “19:50, 2 JUL 2017”, we learn that Lacazette to Arsenal is a dead cert:
Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas says Alexandre Lacazette’s move to Arsenal is set to be completed in “one or two days”.
Lacazette is set to sign a five-year deal with the Gunners, who are expected to pay £44million for the French international’s services.
With tight reporting like that, surely we can look forward to more Mirror news on that huge Mbappe bid and work out how many fist-sized pinched of salt we should take it with …
Madeleine McCann: very few words on the missing child haver featured in the national press of late. Big stories – murderous terrorist attacks in Manchester and London, and the horror that engulfed lives at London’s Grenfell Tower – have kept journalists and editors busy. No need to press f9 on the keyboard and fill the pages with no news of Madeleine McCann.
But let’s see what has featured in the past few weeks.
The Sun: “‘KEEP THE SEARCH ALIVE’ – Holidaymakers urged to print off and pack Maddie McCann posters when they go abroad in new bid to track down missing youngster”
Passports. Money. Tickets. Poster of missing child…The Sun tells us:
The posters have been printed in 17 different languages including Romanian, Filipino and Arabic
And English, right? Not just foreigners being reminded about the missing child. But anyone holidaying in Bucharest, St John’s Wood or Iraq can tell the locals to watch out.
None of the posters contain information on any reward.
Posters have featured a reward:
Of course, maybe the posters will help. You never know.
The Sun then hears from people it calls “website fans”, people who read the Find Maddie Campaign website. Fans is an odd word. Can you be a fan of finding missing child?
Sharon Wood vows: “Every trip I make posters go up in Lanzarote and I keep my Find Madeleine tag on my case.” Sarah Green adds: “I’m in Crete and my eyes are peeled all the time for her.”
Madeleine McCann went missing in Portugal ten years ago.
The Star wonders if she left Portugal. “Is THIS where Maddie was hidden? Hundreds of wells were NEVER searched,” says the paper. “A WELL just 15 minutes from the apartment where Maddie disappeared is one of hundreds in the area reportedly never checked by investigators,” the paper reports.
The report runs the full gamut of Madeleine McCann reporting. We begin with the former detective’s opinion:
Ex-detective Roy Ramm said the well, which it’s claimed was used to hide swag by local crooks, was an obvious place to look for clues
Then we get the anonymous source:
The Brit, who asked not to be named, said: “This was brought up by an ex-cop who said that local criminals used it all the time. I don’t know whether that well has been investigated or not but if you pick wells on disused farms in the area of Luz there are lots of them.”
They don’t know about one well, and they don’t know about the other wells, either.
“It could be that one, it could be another one, it could be none of them. For it to matter, somebody needs to have information that Madeleine was in that well.”
And after speculation about place we get speculation about people:
Our source also said that – if a well was used to hide Maddie – her tormentor must have been someone with local knowledge who knew where to go.
After the “ifs”, “coulds” and “maybes”, the Mirror shoves Madeleine McCann into a listicle . “Agony of 7 most famous unsolved cases in the UK – including Madeleine McCann, Jill Dando and Suzy Lamplugh,” comes the headline. Yeah, “famous”.
“The shooting of TV presenter Jill Dando alongside the disappearance of Suzy Lamplugh and Maddie McCann are among the infamous unsolved cases that may remain a mystery forever,” the paper continues.
Readers can play along. The “seven” cases to solve are: Jill Dando (shot dead); Jack the Ripper (presumed dead); a dead child’s torso in the River Thames; Ben Needham; Madeleine McCann; and Suzi Lamplugh. Yes, that’s six. The seventh famous mystery will have to wait.
If you want more lazy journalism, South Africa’s East Coast Radiohas a question: “What would you ask the universe to explain? If you could have one answer to any mystery of the universe, what would it be?”
“We live in a mysterious world and in mysterious times,” we’re told. “Do you ever stop to think about world events that just don’t have answers and wish you knew what had happened?”
The writer has a few wonders to get you started:
Things like the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 that just literally disappeared off the face of the earth?
Bits of the plane were found on earth.
Princess Diana’s death, maybe? There’s been speculation and controversy around that story for two decades.
Had she worn a seatbelt, would she have survived a car crash whilst on holiday in Paris? Discuss.
Madeleine McCann – the young girl who disappeared while on holiday with her parents Gerry and Kate in Portugal?
Unlike the plane and Diana, no sign of the missing child has been found. And lest you think one missing child is a personal horror for her and her loved ones and not one of life’s great mysteries, the radio station tells just how big the story is.
What about the Bermuda Triangle, the pyramids, Stonehenge in England?
And above all else – and let’s toss in the meaning of life, God and why EastEnders is till on the telly – the writer has one burning question:
Mine would be: Where is Madelaine McCann [sic] and what really happened?
Maybe technology can help?
The Telegraph and Argus reports: “University of Bradford team develops digital face-ageing that could help in search for missing children like Madeleine McCann.”
As a test case, the researchers chose to work on the case of Ben Needham, who disappeared on the Greek island of Kos on July 24, 1991, when he was only 21 months old. Since then, several images have been produced by investigators showing how Ben might look at ages 11-14 years, 17-20 years, and 20-22 years. The team used its method to progress the image of Ben to the ages of 6, 14 and 22 years. The resulting images show very different results, which the researchers believe more closely resemble what Ben might look like today.
The images of Ben Needham provided by police above, and those generated by the new algorithm below
There’s fake news and there’s regretful reporting. After Grenfell Tower, the Independent told readers in a big and shocking headline: “Grenfell tower was covered in material to keep luxury flat owners happy. That’s being blamed for multiple deaths.”
The link between the desires of the rich and the horror endured by and fatal to Grenfell residents was stark. The story told readers.
Shocking stuff. People died so that the rich could enjoy a better view. But was it true? The story went viral, being shared tens of thousands of times on sites like Reddit and Tumblr. The Indy got lots of clicks. But the story has been changed, the headline now telling readers:
Grenfell Tower cladding that may have led to fire was chosen to improve appearance of Kensington block of flatsGrenfell Tower cladding that may have led to fire was chosen to improve appearance of Kensington block of flats.
The suspected cause of so much pain “may” be about appearance. And there’s no word on luxury flats. The story’s URL makes no such caveats. It has not been updated from the original:
In paragraph 3 we get the first word on those “luxury flats” and the view from them:
And that cladding – a low-cost way of improving the front of the building – was chosen in part so that the tower would look better when seen from the conservation areas and luxury flats that surround north Kensington, according to planning documents, as well as to insulate it.
The story is based in a 2012 planning report. It stated:
“Due to its height the tower is visible from the adjacent Avondale Conservation Area to the south and the Ladbroke Conservation Area to the east. The changes to the existing tower will improve its appearance especially when viewed from the surrounding area.”
Still no word on owners of luxury flats triggering the cladding. But in paragraph 8, readers are told:
An environmental statement said that the “primary driver behind the refurbishment” was to address the insulation and air tightness”.
You can read the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s entire document here. You can also read that the cladding was “an integral part of the upgrade to the heating of the building, while also being a complete overhaul to its appearance”.
Looks were a factor. However, the reports contain not a single mention of luxury flats. But let’s not let the facts get in the way of a good click.
The search for Miss Nuclear Power Plant has reached the swimwear section at the Czech Republic’s nuclear facility in Temelin. The winner will secure a two-week internship at the site. All 10 contestants are given a hard hat – safety first! – but lamentably not work boots and a high-vis bikini.
And you get to vote for your favourite worker. The power plant has posted photos of all the candidates on its Facebook page. The one who gets the most votes wins.
But no sooner have the photos gone up then complaints pour on. “We didn’t want to offend anyone,” the plant says in a Facebook post. “The purpose of the competition was to promote technical education. But if the original vision raised doubts or concerns, we are very sorry.”
Fair enough. We live and learn. Technical matters are important. Next time best to include the ladies’ vital statistics.
UPDATE: all 10 finalists were given an internship.
I’m on the Chicago Dyke March Collective (CDMC), “a grassroots mobilisation and celebration of dyke, queer, bisexual and transgender resilience”. But I’m not all that resilient. I am offended and terrified. I boast strong “anti-racist, anti-violent” credentials and work “to bridge together communities across race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, age, size, gender identity, gender expression, sexuality, culture, immigrant status, spirituality, and ability”. But I am scared by flags. I am a vexiphobic.
Yes, I know it’s odd but phobias are. And mine’s more intersectional than most because I’m scared only of flags depicting the Star of David. Whenever I see one I feel ill and want it removed from decent society. I’d like it burned but I’m worried about the carbon footprint. When I saw one being brandished as part of Jewish Pride on the march, I felt physically sick. A CDMC health worker saw my suffering and asked the flag brandisher to leave because the flags “made people feel unsafe”.
So the rainbow flag with the rainbow Star of David on it that tested the extremes of my resilience and anti-racist credentials, and breached them both, was banned. That it also meant the Jews holding these disturbing flags also were banned was a shame but, then, if the wrong kind of Jews arrive, they should except no special favours. I am neither biased not bigoted. Get thee hence. It’s what you do with people who have everything, you take things away.
For purposes of clarity there are two kinds of Jews. You’ve got the Jews who still haven’t learnt not to be barbaric and sub-human and you’ve got the educated Jews who admit they are barbaric and sub-human. As Bari Weiss notes:
For progressive American Jews, intersectionality forces a choice: Which side of your identity do you keep, and which side do you discard and revile? Do you side with the oppressed or with the oppressor?
Do you wear that yellow Star of David on your arm or on a flag?
That kind of choice would have been familiar to previous generations of left-wing Jews, particularly those in Europe, who felt the tug between their ethnic heritage and their “internationalist” ideological sympathies. But this is the United States. Here, progressives are supposed to be comfortable with the idea of hyphenated identities and overlapping ethnic, sexual and political affinities. Since when did a politics that celebrates choice — and choices — devolve into a requirement of being forced to choose?
Laurel Grauer, who was told to take her flag and go, and is one of those Jews who refuses to learn, moaned: “It was a flag from my congregation which celebrates my queer, Jewish identity which I have done for over a decade, marching in the Dyke March with the same flag.”
Another woman told to leave was Ms. Shoshany Anderson, who wrote: “I wanted to be in public as a gay Jew of Persian and German heritage. Nothing more, nothing less. So I made a shirt that said ‘Proud Jewish Dyke’ and hoisted a big Jewish Pride flag — a rainbow flag with a Star of David in the center, the centuries-old symbol of the Jewish people. During the picnic in the park, organizers in their official t-shirts began whispering and pointing at me and soon, a delegation came over, announcing they’d been sent by the organizers. They told me my choices were to roll up my Jewish Pride flag or leave. The Star of David makes it look too much like the Israeli flag, they said, and it triggers people and makes them feel unsafe. This was their complaint.”
CDMC replied on Facebook:“This decision was made after they [the Jewish Pride flag carriers] repeatedly expressed support for Zionism during conversations with Chicago Dyke March Collective members. We have since learned that at least one of these individuals is a regional director for A Wider Bridge, an organisation with connections to the Israeli state and right-wing pro-Israel interest groups.”
In the name of anti-violence and equality, we should pull the flags from those sticks and beat these Untermensch with them. But we’re tolerant and peaceful. “We want to make clear that anti-Zionist Jewish volunteers and supporters are welcome at Dyke March,” says the all-inclusive CDMC.
And that’s right and proper. Compliance is all when you’re celebrating diversity and freedom.
Add coins to the list of items banned on aircraft. And you can add the superstitious, too. Because a woman boarding a China Southern Airlines Flight from Shanghai to Guangzhou thought it good luck to toss nine coins into the plane’s engine. As she boarded her flight the woman “blessed” the plane by lobbing a handful of coins into the important bits.
China Southern Airlines told reporters that passengers were reminded to comply with civil aviation laws and regulations, which prohibit behaviour that could jeopardise the safety of the flight.
Best to slip the coins into the little paper bags they pass around passengers for charity collections, or, as superstition dictates, investing in lucky heather from a woman who looks like she’s very much down her hers despite having bought armfuls of the stuff.
When Wayne Rooney finally waves adieu to Manchester United, the tabloids will miss him. He’s been an environment of on-the-clock sex, foul-mouthed rants, rethreading and explosions of ferocious power and sublime skill. When he goes the Sun will produce a special souvenir issue with Shrek toys for the kids, phone-box calling cards for the dads and a hailing of the theme tune from The Adams Family for everyone to click along to when the paper is opened.
It’s been easy to take the Wazz out of Wazza. Given the amount to abuse chucked his way, Rooney might well we reappraised as a model of self restraint.
For an age Rooney has been a figure of fun – and the tabloids have been at the forefront of mocking the most gifted English football of his crop. Rooney has been portrayed as thick, fat and ugly.
The Sun salutes the captain
Today the Mirror – the paper that told readers Rooney had been “kicked out” of the club years before he became United’s all-time top goal scorer – points and laughs at the man. In “The remarkable differences between Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo with their shirts off”, readers are invited to look at “two men of similar age… and very different physiques: “Take a look at Ronaldo and Rooney and “it’s considerably harder to believe that they are of a similar age… particularly when they go topless.”
Imagine this were women the paper was talking about, say, comparing Theresa May’s legs to Nichola Sturgeon’s. When the Daily Mail did just that, the Mirror branded the paper “sexist”. Jeremy Corbyn told the paper that supports his Labour Party: “It’s 2017. This sexism must be consigned to history.” It was, said the paper, a “sexist row”. Amelia Womack, deputy leader of the Green Party, called Press watchdog IPSO for “breaking the editors” code and treating women with contempt.
But the Mirror sees a paparazzi photo of Rooney on his holidays and says “given how similar Rooney and Ronnie once were, the recent images of the England captain on holiday in Ibiza become particularly interesting when they are put alongside images of his former team mate. Especially when you remember that the Real Madrid superstar is actually eight months OLDER than the United striker…”
This from the paper that talked of “body-shaming bullies”.
Having diced Rooney into body parts – “the abs”; “the tan”; “the modelling potential” – the Mirror heralds another long lens photo of Rooney minding his own business: “Behold the most unflattering image of England’s record goalscorer you have ever seen.”
Maybe to escape the name calling and body-shaming, Rooney should seek out a new career as an MP? One thing for sure: his skin’s thick enough.
When we saw Brooklyn Beckham’s terrible photography being passed off as a talent for anything other than parody, we recalled another example of meaningless nonsense being passed off as art. In 2016, two pranksters placed a pair of spectacles on the floor at San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art. Before long the glasses were being viewed as a telling and important piece of art.
The hoaxers, @TJCruda and @k_vinnn, would doubtless be delighted to realise that their artwork fared better than other proper arty things. Tate Britain once threw away a Gustav Metzger installation, a bag of paper and cardboard.
Meanwhile, my own artwork, Vomit In Sock, has been touring the country’s music festivals. Catch it where you can.
Is it art? Dunno. What do you care? It is if it looks like it is.
You know how it is. The artist comes on stage. He wants to sing his new stuff but the crowd are there to hear the old faves. But at Glastonbury 2017, Oasis singer Liam Gallagher combined the two to leave everyone happy.
Having introduced his new song Wall Of Glass, Gallagher then moved into Oasis territory with Rock N Roll Star, Don’t Look Back In Anger and What’s The Story?, in which he ad-libbed a new line about a fog machine. “Turn that fucking shit fog machine off,” sings Liam in a departure from the normal lyrics.
Would you call your child ‘Corbyn’? The Daily Star says you might if you drink enough scrumpy cider with your magic mushrooms.
The paper says parents are “flocking” to name their “tots” after the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn. No, not Trots, tots. No typo. But are parents really massing at council offices to demand their children are named and renamed after Jeremy Corbyn? The Star says Corbyn’s “cool” was “boosted after appearing on Glastonbury’s Pyramid stage”. I’d spin that round and say that Glastonbury was stripped of cool when it invited a leading politician to address the crowd and build a personality cult around a man who wants more State control, favours Brexit and has worked for Iran’s theocratic regime.
The fact is that in 2015, 15 children were named Corbyn (source: Office for National Statistics). The Star reasons that if “festival nookie” results in anything other than a nasty rash and regret, “thousands” more children could be named after the Labour leader.
They could also be named Theresa, if they shagged in a field of wheat.
Who buys newspapers? Women and men who like looking at women do. Or at least they used to buy them – now they get them for free in supermarkets. Today’s tabloids are curious for the absence of men on the covers. They look like fashion titles, porn mag and women’s weeklies. Across all the tabloids, only the Daily Express features a man on the cover, and he’s Prince Charles, the kind of bloke who never understood what a T-shirt is and grimaces as he attempts to straddle two poles by being both relevant to the hoi polloi and beyond the reach of mere mortals. Charles is on the Express‘ front-page to illustrate how lucrative it is to be a royal. This year the proles are to fund the Queen to the tune of £82.2million, or £1.21 from each of us. That represents “such good value” says the Express. The Express costs 55p.
But the rest all focus on women only.
The Daily Star, the Express‘ fun stablemate, has Eastenders actress Jessie Wallace looking tired and emotional as she “boobs” on a bight out; “Sexy” Emma Willis illustrating the fact that Big Brother, the show she presents, is crap (yes, it is still on); Theresa May signing a deal with the DUP (pronounced D! U! P!) to give the county a working Government; and Meghan Markle, Prince Harry’s current lover, often “nips over to Harry” on a plane.
The Sun leads with claims that “lesbian jailbird” Syndee Offord and “female prison guard” Faron Selvage enjoyed “LESBIAN ROMP BEHIND BRAS”; May’s deal; and the Sun’s “Chest test”, in which Alice Lazar covers her naked breasts in glitter and walks about the streets of London.
The Mirror leads with Theresa May and D!U!P! leader Arlene Foster engaging in a “handshake of shame”. It’s “May’s £1bn Bribe to Crackpots”.
But the Daily Mail takes the cake. Its cover shows a picture of Princess Diana and Camilla Parker-Bowes, once “Britain’s most hated woman” and now part of the PR camping to make us believe that after Her Majesty leaves the throne the feckless ninnies and knobs who make up her Royal Family will do a decent job of being our betters.
To recap, then: in this enlightened age, the tabloids lead with naked women, sexy women, mad women, women’s primary sexual characteristics, materialistic women and lesbians. We’ve come a long way, baby….
John McDonnell says the Grenfell Tower disaster was “murder”. The shadow chancellor says the victims of the horror in west London were “murdered”. He says the dead were “murdered” as a “direct consequence of Tory attitudes to social housing”, cuts to fire brigade numbers and political decisions made over “decades”. As such the guilty should be charged with murder, no? And the likes of Camden Council leader Georgia Gould, where residents have been forcibly evacuated from tower blocks swaddled in flammable cladding similar to that used at Grenfell Tower, should be arrested for attempted murder, right?
Camden Council is run by Labour. The cladding on its estate in Swiss Cottage was installed in 2006, under Tony Blair’s Labour government. It’s good to see that McDonnell is not biased in his call for justice. In his judgement, Tory and Labour members are all guilty of murder. Lock ’em up. And the LibDems, too, after all they formed the coalition government. And let age be no barrier to justice. Go back over those decades when mass murder was fomenting in politicians’ warped hearts, and lock up anyone still alive. Strip honours from the dead.
McDonnell’s judgement that the dead were “murdered” is at least hasty. The deaths of 79 innocent people were not designed and arranged. Georgia Gould’s decision to evacuate the towers in her area was not because she experienced a change of heart about murdering scores of people. Thousands of people who advised and worked on cladding tower blocks with dangerous substances are not part of a huge conspiracy to murder. If they are, they are being remarkable silent.
McDonnell makes get play of speaking up for the victims. But we know how little politicians think of the great unwashed by their attitudes to Brexit. When the working classes and poor voted for change, they were called thick. David Lammy, who lost a friend in the Grenfell fire, wanted the Brexit vote undone by the politicians, you know, those people who knew best about social housing and used their nous to commit “murder” in a decades-long plot. “We can stop this madness’: London MP David Lammy calls on Commons to overrule Brexit vote and ‘end nightmare’,” ran the headline. As one writer notes: “Lammy has pushed himself to the forefront of politicising Grenfell. He wants to be a voice for the voiceless. We must be a society where ‘we care for the poorest and the vulnerable’, he says. This is the same David Lammy who following the first June disturbance, following Brexit, devoted himself to overthrowing the voice of the voiceless.”
Politics matters, but let’s not put too much faith in politicians.
Meanwhile, it turns out that every council block cladding checked since Grenfell has failed fire safety tests. So far 60 of 600 blocks have been tested. And what of the insulation behind the cladding? No news on that.