The news as told by the UK’s tabloid press – The Sun, Daily Express, Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, Daily Star and News of the World.
John Bercow is the “smug Speaker” (Sun) who yelled “Bollocks to Brexit” (see Mrs Bercow’s bumper sticker) who “ambushed” (Mail) the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal. Bercow, the House of Commons’ warden, told MPs that Theresa May cannot bring her deal back for a third vote without “substantial changes”. We cannot have “Groundhog May” (Mirror). Rules are rules. And the ruling Mr Bercow cited from 1604 justifies his decision to block a third vote.
That’s 1604 the year, not 16:04 the time – and given the volatile nature of Brexit negotiation you’re forgiven for confusing the two.
Henry Deedes, writing in the Mail is upset. His paper, which supports May’s deal, says Bercow fired an “Exorcet rocket straight to the core” of May’s Brexit strategy. An Exorcet is the French-made missile used by the Argentines to sink the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Sheffield during the Falklands War. Twenty man were killed. From deadly missile to cheap shot. How language moves on. But at least laws stay rooted.
The Express calls Bercow “The Brexit Destroyer”. The Sun opts for similarly warlike imagery, saying Bercow “torpedoed Theresa May’s EU deal”. “GOTCHA!” as an alternative take on this might have put it. The paper’s editorial calls Bercow “obnoxious, discredited and shameless”. Well, he is also an MP.
Only the Mirror is non-plussed. The news features on its page 2 – that’s the page nobody reads. Well, that’s not exactly true. John Bercow reads it because he’s on it. The replicant incubating in his loins needs the sustenance of media coverage.
What next? Well, for Bercow and his Tourette’s-like scream ‘Divisionnnnnn” the opportunity to sort out camp rations in the I’m a Celebrity jungle surely beckons. For the rest of us, it’s apathy and Ray Mears boxsets.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
“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:
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:
The “fleeing couple” also look not a lot like these “suspects”:
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.
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.
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.
If you get your news from the Daily Mirror, the shocking realisation is that Maurizio Sarri is still the Chelsea manager. He was not sacked when Chelsea lost the Carabao Cup final to Manchester City. (The Mirror has form with predictions – see here.)
But clickbait is as clickbait does, and the Mirror today reports that Sarri has dropped the “biggest hint yet he WILL be Chelsea manager next season”. What tosh. He signed a a three-year deal to mange Chelsea in July 2018. But that’s more of a fact than a hint. If you want clicks, you need to conjure ‘hints’ and ‘five things we noticed’ and all manner of other drivel from football. So a few weeks after telling readers Sarri was getting sacked, the paper reports: “Two weeks after the Chelsea axe seemed set to fall on their new boss Sarri, he is now plotting their future.”
He never did stop plotting their future. It’s his job.
The Times is alone in not leading with knife crime. For all other national newspapers the biggest story is of “warzones on our streets” (Express) and what the Government can and cannot do about teenagers being stabbed to death.
The Telegraph wants police to be given stop-and-search powers. Readers see a photo of school friends of stabbing victim Yousef Makki embracing. Yousef, a pupil at Manchester Grammar school, was stabbed to death in Gorse Bank Road, Hale Barns, near Altrincham, on Saturday. Two 17-year-old boys have been arrested on suspicion of murder.
Are more police the answer to the “knife crime epidemic’? The Guardian says it is. The paper says there is a link between stabbings and reduced police numbers brought about by austerity. “How many more, Mrs May?” asks the Mirror, blaming the Prime Minister for 27 murders.
But is that why 27 teenagers have been knifed to death this year, because there are not enough police to control them? Surely there’s something more at the root of the matter than control? May says there is “no direct correlation between certain crimes and police numbers”. So certain crimes police are powerless to stop? Focus less on knife crime, perhaps, and more on people not paying their TV licence, doing 34mph in a 30mph zone and saying nasty things online.
Maybe the State could issue licences for people to own a knife, making a nice little earner from the horror and hitting the perps where the Government likes to hit them hardest: in their pockets?
Nuts? One other proposal for knife control was floated:
A judge wants the points of kitchen knives to be rounded and blunted to reduce the number of young men dying from stab wounds in street attacks.
Judge Nic Madge said ordinary kitchen knives were causing a “soaring loss of life”, rather than more heavily regulated large-bladed weapons… Kitchens contain lethal knives which are potential murder weapons and only butchers and fishmongers need eight or 10 inch kitchen knives with points,” the judge said.
Knives for only those who need them? Look out for the looming fork crime epidemic.
A question for readers The Metro: “What’s it like being autosexual, when you’re attracted to yourself?” Is it a bit like being a wanker, only with more mirrors, a selfie stick and an Instagram account? It’s just Me, Myself & O:
The story, such as it is, is choice. It is, of course, written in the first person:
“My earliest memories of checking myself out in the mirror and feeling attraction happened at around age seven. I didn’t learn the term “autosexual” until after I graduated from college in 2013. My attraction to myself made me confused at times, but once I learned about autosexuality, I was glad there was a word for my experience. I’ve recognised myself as being in a relationship with myself since I was in college. I just didn’t have the vocabulary to express my experiences.”
Are there other words to define such grinding narcissism?
Remember when the Daily Mirror told us Maurizio Sarri was to be sacked should Chelsea lose the Carabao Cup final to Manchester City. They lost. He’s sill in the job.
The Mirror has form with predictions – see here. Of course, the paper’s online version writes for SEO bots and Google. Unlike these knowing bots, mere human have short memories and won’t call the paper out for writing utter tosh.
And so it is that despite making a statement that turned out to be total balls, the paper ploughs on regardless. Since handing Sarri advance warning that his P45 was in the post on February 20, the Mirror has written much more on the Italian’s sacking.
“Alan Shearer on why Kepa Arrizabalaga could get Maurizio Sarri sacked by Chelsea” – Feb 25
“Who’s running this show? Who’s driving this bus? And who will get sacked when results don’t go as required?” – Feb 25
“Jamie Redknapp lists three Chelsea games that will get Maurizio Sarri sacked” – Feb 25
“Maurizio Sarri ‘to hold talks with Chelsea over his future’ after Kepa Arrizabalaga row” – Feb 26
Such are the facts.
Meghan Markle will “break with tradition” and raise the young Prince “genderless”. So says the Daily Star. Meghan will do away with traditional macho frilly lace, broaches and knickerbockers, preferring to dress the young sire in something more masculine and yet also more feminine, like a smart business suit with complementary document wallet and sensible shoes.
The paper also notes that the royal nursery will be designed in “gender-neutral colours” of beige and grey from the corporate pallet.
Says one Royal watcher to Anorak: “It’s what Chairman Mao and Bill Gates would have wanted.”
No longer on the front pages, nonetheless, Shamima Begum remains newsworthy. The Star catches up with the jihadi on page 7. “JIHADI BRIDE’S DAD: DON’T LET HER HOME,” comes the headline. The page is split between a photo of Begum looking like an extra from ‘Wallace and Gromit : The Wrong Gap Year’, a photo of her dad Ahmed Ali – he thinks the State’s decision to revoke his daughter’s citizenship sound because she “does not admit her wrong’ – and news that Begum’s mates in ISIS raped 10-year-olds and left the severed heads of 50 sex slaves in a hole.
Welcome home, Shamima!
Much the same news appears on the Mirror’s page 5. “I am on the side of the Government,” says Mr Ali, “if the law of the land says it’s correct to cancel her citizenships then I agree. I know they don’t want to take her back and in this I don’t have a problem.” Says Begum: “They are taking an example of me.” But Begum wants to make an example of herself.
Over pages 18 and 19, we meet the “famous” Begum and tour her home at the Al-Hawi refugee camp in northern Syria. Larisa Brown goes through the keyhole into Begum’s digs. Who lives in a tent like this? Is it an innocent teenager who suffered at the hands of ferociously influential adult ‘groomers’? Or is it the unapologetic member of a death cult?
The camera zooms in. Shamima Begum “sits crossed-legged in her socks”. No, not school socks. Although given one narrative of the underage teen sexually abused by web perverts, you’d half expect it. On her knee is Jerah. Why the name? The Mail says its in honour of a “7th Century Islamic warlord”. He’s very much today’s modern man in ISIS circles.
As ever with ISIS, talks turns to love. She vows to wait for her husband, the child’s father, a Dutch Islamic convert called Abu Zoraya, but formerly known as Yago Riedijk. When they met she asked him some questions, one of which was what he wanted in a wife. “He told me he was strict and he wanted a good housewife that stays inside,” says Begum. He didn’t want someone who “wants to go out and stuff”. ‘Phew!’ thought Begum. No more competing with better looking, more intelligent women for sexual attention. Pass the shroud. Yago was chuffed. Not only would he get to shag a virgin who’d never know another man and thus remain dead to his limitations, but she was giving him tacit permission to live as a brutal thug and hang out with guys into murder, genocide and rape. I do!
It’s hot in the tent. Begum says there’s no tea because she’s can’t heat water. Where’s a Yazidi slave when you need one? (Raped and decapitated – ed).
Begum – whom Brown calls “Shamima” throughout, affording her celebrity status – is “at pains to be conciliatory”. “I am hoping to be given a second chance,” she says. “…I want to help encourage other young British people to think before they make life-changing decisions like this and not make the same mistakes as me.” Hard to make those mistakes now that ISIS is being smashed to bits. And until a new Islamists terror group rise from the blood, teens are advised to lay off pills, sugar and too much ‘screen time’.
“I can’t do that if I’m sitting here in a camp,” she adds of her offer to save young lives. “I can’t do that for you.” Thanks for the offer to work for us, Shamima Begum. But the position of moral guide has been filled. We appreciate your interest.
“Inshalla (God willing) I’ll see you soon,” says Brown to Begum as she leaves the tent. Where they will meet again, who knows where, who knows when. If the UK won’t take Begum, maybe the I’m A Celebrity jungle or Big Brother will?
He’s called Aaron Campbell – the teenager convicted of abducting, raping and murdering six-year-old Alesha MacPhail on the Isle of Bute last July. The tabloids called him evil. This is, then, what evil looks like.
The Mirror calls Campbell the “Beast of Bute”. The Daily Mail brands him a “twisted narcissist”. You might all him a ****. The Mail also notes in a masterclass in opinion-triggering tabloidese:
The cat-torturing, adrenaline junkie teenager – who was obsessed with gaining YouTube followers, playing violent video games such as Fortnite and recording himself performing acrobatic moves on a trampoline – had received anonymity due to his age, but a judge unmasked him today.
For good measure, the Mail include football of the rapist jumping on a trampoline. They say Osama bin Laden cold do keepy-uppies for a full 30 seconds, and Jon Venables can whistle the Sesame Street theme song. But those videos for another time.
This is all about desperate-for-fame Aaron Campbell, who can now read about how his name came to be known by millions in the papers and online. Until yesterday his name could not be made public on pain of law. The law was unfit for purpose. Trial judge, Lord Matthews agreed with petitioners that naming Aaron Campbell was in the public interest.
The Sun says there is now “no hiding place” for Alesha’s murderer. The Mirror says there is a price on his head. Fellow inmates at Polmont Young Offenders’ prison know who he is. His lawyer says Campbell is at “risk of attack from others” or “potentially self harm” if his name and picture were in the public domain. They are. Few will weep for Campbell.
As for evil and what it is, a few words. Fr. Robert Barron looked at Hannah Arendt, and her book Eichmann in Jerusalem, and St. Augustine:
The young Hannah Arendt had written her doctoral dissertation under the great German philosopher Karl Jaspers, and the topic of her work was the concept of love in the writings of Saint Augustine. One of the most significant intellectual breakthroughs of Augustine’s life was the insight that evil is not something substantial, but rather a type of non-being, a lack of some perfection that ought to be present. Thus, a cancer is evil in the measure that it compromises the proper functioning of a bodily organ, and a sin is evil in the measure that it represents a distortion or twisting of a rightly functioning will. Accordingly, evil does not stand over and against the good as a kind of co-equal metaphysical force, as the Manichees would have it. Rather, it is invariably parasitic upon the good, existing only as a sort of shadow.
J.R.R. Tolkien gave visual expression to this Augustinian notion in his portrayal of the Nazgul in The Lord of the Rings. Those terrible and terrifying threats, flying through the air on fearsome beasts, are revealed, once their capes and hoods are pulled away, to be precisely nothing, emptiness. And this is exactly why, to return to Arendt’s description, evil can never be radical. It can never sink down into the roots of being; it can never stand on its own; it has no integrity, no real depth or substance. To be sure, it can be extreme and it can, as Arendt’s image suggests, spread far and wide, doing enormous damage. But it can never truly be.
Aaron Campbell – the face of evil – might have joined ISIS.
Anthony Martial is making news on the front and back pages. The Sun tells us that Martial is due a call up to his national side: “Anthony Martial’s return to form will cost Man Utd £8.7m after France recall.”
Good for him. But why will hi success cost United so much money?
Martial’s deal from Monaco in 2015 included an add-on triggered by 25 caps for his national team. He needs to play 45 minutes in the game for an appearance to count and is so far on 11 before losing his place in Deschamps’ squad for the World Cup. The France boss is now considering a recall for next month’s European Championship qualifiers against Moldova and Iceland – and Martial could hit the 25-cap mark before the end of the 2020 campaign including finals.
Really? No. Here’s the Daily Telegraph:
The France forward’s 76th minute equaliser at Old Trafford on Saturday was his 25th Premier League goal for the club and triggered a clause in his contract entitling his former club Monaco to a €10 million (£8.73 million) windfall.
United paid Monaco an initial £36 million when they signed Martial in September 2015 but the cost of the transfer has now risen to what is expected to be a final fee of £44.73 million.
The French club had a longer wait than they might have expected for the additional sum, though, since Martial had been stuck on 24 league goals for more than eight months. His previous league goal was against Burnley on January 20.
Under the terms of the original deal, Monaco were due two further payments of £8.73 million each if Martial played 25 games for France and was nominated for the Ballon d’Or before the end of the current 2018/19 season. Yet with Martial not among the Ballon d’Or nominees announced this week and out of favour for France, for whom he has played 18 times, seven games short of the stipulated target, neither clause will be met.
And the Mirror in March 2018:
…back in 2015, Monaco president Vadim Vasilyev proudly announced: “The price for Martial is £57.6million but take into account this sum includes bonuses, which are very realistic.” Manchester United included three bonuses amounting to £7.2million each in the deal to sign Martial – all of which must be triggered by 2019…
United agreed to pay Monaco an additional £7.2million if the France international scores 25 Premier League goals for the Red Devils before 2019..
Prior to joining Manchester United, the talented 22-year-old forward had already made seven appearances for France. The Red Devils agreed that should Martial feature in an additional 25 games while representing the Old Trafford club, they would again fork out £7.2million.
The target is not 25 international matches but 32. Such are the facts…
In July 2017 Alesha MacPhail was abducted, raped and murdered. Her killer’s name will not be known. The Mail calls him a “boy”. The Scotsman calls him a “teenager”. He’s a “16-year-old” on The Scotsman’s front page. The Metro just says “the teen” in “PURE EVIL”. But we won’t get to know his name.
Alesha was murdered on the Isle of Bute, an island in the Firth of Clyde in Scotland. The country’s law rules that to publish the name, address, school or any other information which could identify anyone under the age of 18 who is the accused, victim or witness in a criminal case in any media is illegal. So don’t. You can, however, name the victim. Alesha MacPhail is the only name that matters.
Minds turn to the abduction and murder of James Bulger, 2, in 1993. The names of the guilty – two boys aged 10 – were soon known. Tony Blair stirred the mob, positioning the crime as one emblematic of the country’s dire straits and moral disintegration.
The killers’ families lived in fear of revenge attacks. In 2012, 38 year-old Scott Bradley committed suicide, unable to cope with people mistaking him for Jon Venables, one of the killers. “My son was tormented by the allegations,” said Mr Bradley;s mother. “He had a good heart and didn’t deserve this. It’s been heartbreaking.”
Do we need to know the name of Alesha MacPhail’s murderer? The killer’s own mother helped bring him to justice. She alerted detectives after reviewing footage from two CCTV cameras outside the family home. She watched her son coming and going three times between 01:54 and 04:07 on the night Alesha was murdered. If we know the killer, we know her. Why should an innocent woman wear the stain in public? He will be in jail for a long, long time. Isn’t that enough?
Venables and Thompson were released on parole in 2001 under new identities. They must not ever reveal to anyone who they once were. To do so would land them back in prison. Venables was caught downloading child pornography. He has been jailed indefinitely as it is feared he is likely to reveal his true identity.
We don’t know the killer’s name. But do we know why he did it?
The BBC: “The jury heard the teenager previously bought cannabis from Alesha’s father, Robert MacPhail, but the pair fell out five months before her death over an unpaid £10 drug debt.”
The Star: “The unnamed boy, 16, searched for the Slender Man meme, and some of his sick acts mirrored those carried out by the character… Slender Man was invented by users on the Something Awful forum in 2009 for a paranormal Photoshop competition. Shown as a thin, tall, featureless figure in a black suit, in many stories written online about him feature stalking or abducting people, especially children.
The Sun: “The teenager got sick thrills from playing gory video games.”
One heinous and blessedly rare crime now defines a place?
Daily Mail: “He is handsome, in a modern, metrosexual way, with luxuriant, swept-over hair and a milky complexion. Dressed immaculately, in a tartan suit and collar and tie, he gave evidence with great self-assurance.”
So much for the CV.
BBC: ‘Judge Lord Matthews told the killer he had stolen Alesha’s life by “committing some of the most wicked and evil crimes this court has ever heard of in decades of dealing with depravity”. He said he had “no idea” why the teenager carried out the murder, and described the evidence in the case as “overwhelming”.’
Sky News: “Alesha MacPhail: Killed for the ‘life experience’?”
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri will be sacked if they lose Sunday’s Carabao Cup final to Manchester City, says the BBC. Sarri will be Chelsea boss for the length of an internship should his side lose to the same City side that thrashed them 6-0 days ago. Get packing, then. This news is echoed in the Mirror, which on February 11 led its sports coverage with: “MAURIZIO SARRI is facing the sack after Chelsea’s heaviest Premier League defeat.” The Mirror added on February 18: “CHELSEA will stick to their new ‘Sarri-ball’ style, even if if (sic) costs the manager his job this week.”
The Mirror’s plan seems to be keep saying Sarri will be sacked and when he is – and, of course he will be one day – say ‘Told yer!’ But the Mirror has form in getting it wrong:
As for Sarri’s eventual sacking, the Sun says it would cost Chelsea £5m – the cheapest pay-off for a manager since Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003.
Minds turn to who will replace Sarri? Sky Sports says Derby manager Frank Lampard and Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane head the list. Layers are working on their early-exit clauses as we speak.
Unless Chelsea win the Carabao Cup – in which case the Mirror will report that Sarri will be sacked ‘soon’…
Shamima Begum, the Londoner who joined the Islamic State group in Syria aged 15, will not be coming ‘home’ to the UK. The Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, has revoked her citizenship. He writes to her parents: “In light of the circumstances of your daughter, the notice of the Home Secretary’s decision has been served on file today (19th February), and the order moving her British citizenship has subsequently been made.”
Begum’s family say they will explore “all legal avenues to challenge this decision”. All roads lead to “Brit creek” says the Star. Or Asia. Shamima Begum holds Bangladeshi as well as British citizenship which allowed the Home Office to go ahead, says Sky News. She’s not stateless. The Home Office acted quickly. The UK’s gain is Bangladesh’s loss.
Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Sir Ed Davey says the UK is “palming off” Ms Begum to another country – which ISIS isn’t, despite its violent attempts to become one.
On BBC TV’s Newsnight King’s College London’s Shiraz Maher opines: “I think it’s a very dangerous decision, it does create this perception that there is a two-tier system and a system that’s frankly racist.” Perception is not fact. It all depends on you angle of approach. Come closer, within stabbing distance, and look at Shamima Begum?
But really? If the government can revoke Shamima Begum’s citizenship, it can cancel your, too. At least it can if you associate with people it does not like.
Do we really care what Shamima Begum thinks of us? If you sign up to the view that Begum is a victim of grooming, a victim of sexual exploitation as one nodding head opined on Sky telly yesterday, a victim of the UK’s lax security in allowing 15-year-old to leave the country, as she was when she left London for Syria, a victim… you buy into the message that nothing she says is an expression of her own thoughts, they’re words planted in her throat by nefarious types who rape children, enslave women, decapitate men and throw homosexuals from tall buildings.
But if you believe in free will, consider it questionable that Begum was a passive web-surfer looking for pop vids who was mind-altered and “brainwashed” when she saw a preacher extolling jihad, you’ll afford her the dignity of self. What she says is what she means. So when she talks about the murders of 22 people and the injuries sustained by 800 more when a fellow ISIS fan bombed an Arianna Grande concert in Manchester, you know she’s saying what she thinks. “How dare she?” asks the Sun, which claims she says the attack was justified. “How could she?” asks the Express. Answer: she’s a self-declared jihadi. Murdering infidels is what they do.
“Even though I was only 15 years old, I could make my own decisions,” says Begum. “But I will admit, it’s my fault right now. I just want forgiveness from the UK. Everything I’ve been through, I didn’t expect I would go through that.”
But she continues to talk. And she doesn’t come over as being all that bright:
“Isis Briton compares Manchester bombing to western airstrikes. I do feel that is wrong. Innocent people did get killed. It’s one thing to kill a soldier, it’s fine, it’s self-defence. But to kill people like women and children, just like the women and children in Baghuz who are being killed right now unjustly by the bombings. It’s a two-way thing really…
“This is kind of retaliation. Their justification was that it was retaliation so I thought that is a fair justification. That was unfair on them … They weren’t fighting anyone. They weren’t causing any harm. But neither was I and neither [were the] other women who are being killed right now back in Baghuz.”
It’s muddled thinking. And it’s not a lot unlike the sort of thing you hear from Jeremy Corbyn’s fans for whom moral equivalence is a moveable target. Like Corbyn, Begum was there but not participating.
Joanna Williams touched on the same in a story about Labour’s problem with Jews and the Party’s attitude to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, which after much hand-ringing and self-serving bullshit it adopted in full:
The idea that the Labour Party champions free speech beggars belief. Amid the protests and counterprotests surrounding the NEC meeting, activists – including those previously expelled from the party over claims of anti-Semitism – chanted ‘IHRA no, BDS yes’. The mental gymnastics involved in rejecting a definition of anti-Semitism in order to defend free speech in the very same breath as backing a campaign that curtails academic freedom and free cultural exchange are astonishing. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement aims to stop singers, sports stars and actors performing in Israel and explicitly calls for the censorship of Israeli scholars and scientists abroad. In putting a political and geographical proviso on free speech, BDS activists negate the entire principle.
It’s not me, it’s them, says Begum. They made me do it but I also went of my own free will. Verstehen sie? So forgive me. Look only to yourselves. Because in this age of narcissism, it’s all abut you.
On February 12 2019, the announced that Manchester United had chosen their next full-time manager. “IT’S OLE YOURS,” stated the Sun. “Solskjaer to be appointed Man Utd manager permanently as board finally choose the club legend over Pochettino.” Good news for Spurs fans worried that their manager was on his way to Old Trafford.
“OLE GUNNAR SOLSKJAER will be named the full-time manager of Manchester United,” says the Sun’s Neil Curtis in an exclusive. “The decision has now been made at board level… The hunt is over with co-chairmen Joel and Avram Glazer now convinced they have the right man for the job in Solskjaer.” Adding: “The news will end speculation that Mauricio Pochettino could be tempted away from Spurs to Old Trafford next summer.”
Done. Or as the Sun notes on February 18 2019:
Such are the facts…
How can the Daily Express spin Arsene Wenger’s words into a portent of doom? Wenger was talking at the perpetually remote Laureus Sport for Good Awards. He said Aaron Ramsey would be a “loss” to Arenal, the club he managed for a geological era. And that was it. Ooze it through the SEO grinder and in the Express it becomes: “Arsene Wenger WORRIED for Arsenal.”
But it’s worse than that because the URL to this clickbait runs: “Arsene-Wenger-Arsenal-worry-Unai-Emery-management-future.” The implication is clear: to trick readers into believing Wenger thinks the throughly decent and likeable Unai Emery, the man who replaced him as Arsenal manager, could be on his way out. Total tosh.
Paul Hollywood is the subject of a Great British headline in the Great British Sun. Hollywood is a star of The Great British Bake Off, a TV show proving that if you use ‘Great British’ as an epithet, anything can be improved. The shock is that no-one has called it the Great British Brexit and Channel 4 has yet to broadcast 100 Great British murders. But give it time.
Hollywood is newsworthy because a) he dresses like a late middle-aged divorcee on the pull in a provincial nightclub – big cuffs, open neck shirt, diver’s watch, fringed mouth – chasing the kind of women you imagine they couldn’t pull when they were in their twenties; and b) the 52-year-old’s 23-year-old lover has had a run-in with his 54-year-old (estranged) wife.
Alex (wife) is said to have called Summer Monteys-Fullam (lover) a “slut” and a “whore”. Since both are badges of honour, we wonder if Summer thanked Alex? She didn’t. She called the police complaining of harassment.
We then get to see a photo of Summer and her sister Saskia (26) – their mum is called Sabina (48) – giving the world the finger via Instagram – which affords the Sun the chances to appraise the £9,000 ring Hollywood gave Summer and try to fathom the image’s accompanying message: “Got youuuuuuuu.” What to make of that? And what to make of the Sun’s opinion that this was a “bust-up” between “Paul’s women”? This is how you describe the main player in a televised mid-life car-crash. You get on first name terms with the man of whom Summer once stated on Instagram, having first labelled him her “amazing boyfriend”, he “turned me from a girl to a woman, and to a house woman”.
No word of reply to that from ‘Paul’. But it’s not hard to imagine that in his head he’s swaying his hips, tossing his soft leather blouson biker’s jacket over his shoulder and in the manner of John Travolta in Grease telling the Viagra poppers at the country club about his latest bout of ‘Summer lovin’.
There’s been very little news of Madeleine McCann. The story has lost its push. But the Star and other tabloids plough gamely on, waiting for an new fact to add to the only one we know: child vanishes.
The Star, Sun and Mail all bring news that police were “secretly investigated for misconduct”. To the Star and Sun they are “Madeleine McCann cops”, part of the missing child’s private and personalised police force. The Mail and Star’s stories are based entirely on the Sun’s.
The Sun’s scoop tells readers that the police officers who worked on the investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance were accused of “neglect or failure in their duty”. The Sun sums up:
Each officer was accused of “neglect or failure in their duty” while working on the Met Police’s £12million investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance. But two allegations were not upheld and one was later withdrawn after Scotland Yard found there was no case to answer.
It is not clear if the complaints were made by members of the public or Madeleine’s family.
Sources even hinted that internet trolls could be responsible.
We know that no officers did anything wrong thanks to a freedom of information request. And after the facts, we get the theorising in the Star:
Madeleine’s parents Kate, 50, and Gerry, 49, of Rothley, Leics, believe their girl, who would now be 16, could still be alive.
Believe. Could. Guexses and hunches in place of news and facts.
And in the Sun we get an unnamed “source “to tell us:
One said: “Because the precise details of the allegations aren’t made public, it’s entirely possible good officers have been subjected to a complaints process even though there may be little merit in the allegations against them.”
There may be little merit in the story; there may be some merit in the story. The source is available for comment either way…
Meghan Markle will need stronger crystals and a firmer deep tissue massage to reach the serotonin (happy hormones) as her heart is “broken beyond repair”. The Express has news that Meghan is pained by her father’s decision to “reveal” a private letter. And he “could release MORE”. MORE! We want more, rather MORE. But for now all we have to tuck into is a handwritten note Meghan sent her father, Thomas Markle – “In August, Meghan wrote to her Meghan’s father to stop his attacks.” She wrote:
It is with a heavy heart that I write this, not understanding why you have chosen to take this path, turning a blind eye to the pain you’re causing. Your actions have broken my heart into a million pieces – not simply because you have manufactured such unnecessary and unwarranted pain, but by making the choice to not tell the truth as you are puppeteered in this. Something I will never understand.
You’ve told the press that you called me to say you weren’t coming to the wedding – that didn’t happen because you never called.
You’ve said I never helped you financially and you’ve never asked me for help with is also untrue; you sent me an email last October that said: ‘If I’ve depended too much on you for financial help then I’m sorry but please could you help me more not as a bargaining chip for my loyalty’…
I have only ever loved, protected, and defended you, offering whatever financial support I could worrying about your health…and always asking how I could help. So the week of the wedding to hear about you having a heart attack through a tabloid was horrifying.
I called and texted… I begged you to accept help – we sent someone to your home…and instead of speaking to me to accept this or any help, you stopped answering your phone and chose to only speak to tabloids.
If you love me, as you tell the press you do, please stop.Please allow us to live our lives in peace. Please stop lying, please stop creating so much pain, please stop exploiting my relationship with my husband…
I realise you are so far down this rabbit hole that you feel (or may feel) there’s no way out, but if you take a moment to pause I think you’ll see that being able to live with a clear conscience is more valuable than any payment in the world.
I pleaded with you to stop reading the tabloids.On a daily basis you fixated and clicked on the lies they were writing about me, especially manufactured by your other daughter, who I barely know.
You watched me silently suffer at the hand of her vicious lies, I crumbled inside.
We all rallied around to support and protect you from day one, and this you know.
So to hear about the attacks you’ve made at Harry in the press, who was nothing but patient, kind and understanding with you is perhaps the most painful of all.
For some reason you continue fabricating these stories, manufacturing this fictitious narrative, and entrenching yourself deeper into this web you’ve spun.
The only thing that helps me sleep at night is the faith and knowing that a lie can’t live forever.
I believed you, I trusted you, and told you I loved you.
The next morning the CCTV footage came out.
You haven’t reached out to me since the week of our wedding, and while you claim you have no way of contacting me, my phone number has remained the same.
This you know. No texts, no missed called, no outreach from you – just more global interviews you’re being paid to do and say harmful and hurtful things that are untrue.”
He commented: “This is not the girl I know. It’s not the way she talks. This letter is cold. When she signs off it’s ‘Meg’. You read the way it ends and it felt like a final farewell to me.”
This is jut one of 14 – that’s FOURTEEN in Express language – stories on Meghan Markle in today’s paper of record. Other highlights include:
“What is the latest travel advice for expectant mothers?” – Don’t get into a car driven by Prince Philip?
“Meghan Markle: Sister Samantha hits out at ‘NARCISSIST’ duchess – ‘She doesn’t care!'” – so why keep talking about?
And news that Meghan is “nothing like Princess Diana” – well, there’s no extra-martial sex to repot on and she alive (see car advice).
“Will Meghan and Harry name their baby after THIS Queen?” – Arise Princess Freddie Mercury.
“Meghan Markle must learn THIS marriage trick from Kate Middleton’s royal success” – Tell the butler to double the order on stun guns.
More to follow. Much, much more…
As you were Spurs fans. Relax. Mauricio Pochettino is no longer wanted by Manchester United. The Sun bellows the news that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be named the full-time manager at Manchester United. It’s a matter of when not if. The Sun says United will wait until the end of the season.
Not so, says the BBC. Solskjaer has does brilliantly in his first 11 games as Manchester United’s caretaker manager. He’s rid United of the “toxic atmosphere” created by Jose Mourinho. He’s delivered ten wins from 11 matches. He won over United’s staff with bars of chocolate – on his first day at the club Solskjaer gave all backroom staff bars of duty free chocolate. But the BBC notes: “What happens in the next 11…will probably determine whether the 45-year-old Norwegian gets the job of replacing Jose Mourinho full-time.”
Do we all believe the Sun?
Might be best to wait and see…
And this is what the Sun said of the Norwegian way back in January 2019:
Despite an encouraging start to life as interim manager, Solskjaer has a chequered record as a coach. Having taken Cardiff down he is yet to win a trophy since returning to Molde. How he would deal with a major transfer budget also requires consideration. There must also be questions over whether he possesses the tactical nouse to improve United beyond his honeymoon period.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer it is, then.
Anorak was looking for the headline ‘Martial Phwoar’, but instead has to make do with the Star’s “exclusive” that Manchester United forward Anthony Martial is a “Cheapskate”.
The paper alleges the player cheated on his pregnant partner, squiring his extra-martial lover in a £70-a-night budget hotel. Or to put it another way: pennywise football does not squander cash but seeks out best rates – possibly by the hour.
Martial’s partner has since given birth to the couple’s son… Swan. And today readers meet “French beauty Malika Semichi”. She says of her alleged tryst at the two-star Hotel du Midi near the Gare de Lyon train station in Paris: “I have to say I was surprised when he told me which hotel he had picked. It wasn’t the nicest and was a bit rundown and cheap, especially seeing as he’s used to much nicer hotels. But I knew he had a girlfriend so presumed it was because he didn’t want anyone to see us together.”
And who can presume anything other than that. After all, as Malika says: “He kept referring to me as his second girlfriend. He made me feel special.” You’re a number 2. Aw, shucks. And it get still more romantic in Paris, city of car-b-cues, angry people in yellow vests and snails a la mode. The Star claims he sent her “a string of snaps showing off his manhood, which this paper has seen”. The paper has seen Martial’s bellend? Bu at least we know now what what a load of snapshots of your knob is called: a string – a word once reserved for pearls?
Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea, 28, is “insisting” (BBC) the club pay him £350,000-a-week if they want him to sign a new deal. The BBC says this would make him the club’s second highest earner “behind behind [sic] £400,000-a-week Alexis Sanchez, 30.”
Sanchez is criminally overpaid. De Gea wants something close to parity with the Chilean. Will one error of judgement by United lead to disharmony in the ranks?
The BBC links to a story in the Mirror. But the Mirror doesn’t really know what Sanchez earns. So far it’s provided the following figures for Sanchez’s United wage – the taxman may be interested:
£2m a month – Feb 9 2019
£400,000 a week – Sept 22 2018
£390,000 per week – May 11 2018
£25.5m a year – Jan 22 2018
£500,000 per week – Feb 8, 2018
£400,000-a-week – Jan 29 2018
In other transfer gossip, Manchester United fancy Lyon midfielder Tanguy Ndombele and Norwich City defender Ben Godfrey, 21. Both should cost less than Sanchez or De Gea.
Such are the facts.