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Saturday, July 14, 2007 

Scum-watch: Finally apologising to the Kalam family, and other stories.

In the early hours of the 2nd of June 2006, the home of the Kalam family in Forest Gate was raided by anti-terrorist police. Acting on intelligence which had more holes in it than Abdul Kahar's shoulder shortly would, searching for what was variously described as a chemical device, an explosive device designed to spray out cyanide, or a suicide vest with a similar function, they broke down the door, shot one of the brothers and beat Hanif, a next-door neighbour, around the head with the butt of a gun. Their ordeal however was from far over. Not only were they entirely innocent and the victims of a heavy-handed police operation, but they were shortly to find themselves at the centre of some of the most dishonest, sensationalised and disgraceful reporting to have appeared in the tabloid media for quite some time.

Today the Sun finally apologised to the Kalam family.

IN articles last summer following the arrest in Forest Gate of the Kalam brothers, we incorrectly reported that Abul Koyair had criminal convictions, that the brothers did not tell police where substantial cash found at their home had come from and that charges were brought over paedophile images found on Abdulkahar’s computer.

We also reported that there was an inquiry into allegations that the brothers had insulted and spat at soldiers outside their barracks.

In fact, no charges were brought over the computer, which was second hand, police were immediately informed of the cash savings and no evidence was found by the inquiry that the brothers had insulted or spat at soldiers.

We accept that the brothers are not involved in terrorism and apologise for the embarrassment caused.

Just to underline how important this apology is, here's where it's featured on the Sun's website:

All too late for the suffering the family went through not just because of a police mistake, but because the media, no doubt helpfully briefed by the police themselves, set out to smear them guilty. Victoria Brittain wrote this back in November:

Mr Kahar today is traumatised, struggling with lost confidence, sleeplessness, flashbacks and guilt for his mother's distress. Until June he was a cheerful young man working for Royal Mail, where he had been through a vetting procedure and signed the Official Secrets Act as a driver/collector of material from such places as banks and police stations. He was able to manage this workload despite being dyslexic.

To me, this is far more serious than the BBC making a mistake about the Queen which it almost instantly apologised for once they discovered it was wrong. As a result of the Sun's willingness to help counter the police's acute embarrassment, sell newspapers and believe the worst about anyone who either happens to have a long beard or brown skin, a family could quite easily have been broken apart. For it take over a year for them to accept that they were even in the slightest bit wrong about any of their stories concerning the brothers is not just unacceptable, it's the perfect example of how distant the media actually is from the people it's meant to represent, of how its power can be so easily abused. A liar recently described the Independent as "feral"; by that standard, the Sun is rabid.

Speaking of the Queen, there's no let up in the Sun's anger over the BBC's insult to our glorious monarch:

Dame Helen’s comments came as it emerged that the BBC KNEW clips apparently showing the Queen storming out of a picture session were wrong within hours of them being shown to journalists.

But it apologised only at noon on Thursday — 17 HOURS after learning the truth the evening before.

In a typical piece of Scum disinformation, it doesn't explain why the BBC took 17 hours to apologise. As the Guardian states:

It was agreed with the palace that a statement would not be put out until the following morning, but that left the BBC open to accusations it was milking the publicity before putting the record straight. Corporation insiders now admit they should have been quicker to alert newspapers and try to kill the story.

Lastly, the Scum saves its unrighteous anger for the speech delivered by Douglas Alexander, given in America, which touched on foreign policy:

Mr Brown insists he values the Special Relationship — yet actions speak louder than words.

Few are as close to him as his Trade Secretary Douglas Alexander. So why is this pipsqueak allowed to lecture the U.S. on its foreign policy?

There could barely be a more provocative act.

Here are some excerpts from Alexander's provocative lecture:

"In the 20th century a country's might was too often measured in what they could destroy. In the 21st century strength should be measured by what we can build together. And so we must form new alliances, based on common values, ones not just to protect us from the world, but ones which reach out to the world." He described this as "a new alliance of opportunity".

We need to demonstrate by our deeds, words and our actions that we are internationalist, not isolationist, multilateralist, not unilateralist, active and not passive, and driven by core values, consistently applied, not special interests."

"Given the interconnected nature of the challenges we face, I would argue that we have to simultaneously be fighting to end poverty, to secure trade justice and to tackle conflict and climate change, as well as working to defeat terrorism and ensure the preservation of our security."

Have you ever read such a stinging rebuke? I know I haven't. The Scum continues:

Especially so soon after the PM’s appalling decision to appoint Lord Malloch Brown as his minister for Africa, Asia and the UN.

This is a man who delighted in savaging America in his last job at the UN and who has no place in the British Government.

Just why is the Sun so disgusted by Lord Malloch Brown's appointment? Could it possibly be because in his "savaging" of America at the UN he stated that:

"Today on a very wide number of areas, from Lebanon and Afghanistan to Syria, Iran and the Palestinian issue, the US is constructively engaged with the UN," he said.

"But that is not well known or understood in part because much of the public discourse that reaches the US heartland has been largely abandoned to the UN's loudest detractors such as Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. The UN's role is in effect a secret in Middle America."

Dare to suggest that a Murdoch-owned subsidiary might just be responsible for the way the United Nations is viewed in the US, and you can expect to have opprobrium heaped on top of you for the rest of your natural life.

The Scum in fact isn't advocating a special relationship - a relationship involves criticism, talking to each other, working out problems and coming to compromises - what the Sun wants amounts to a relationship beset by violence and intimidation, where we're forced to blindly follow everything that America ever does, no matter what the consequences are, either for us, or the world itself. It didn't used to be like this. Thatcher and Reagan used to have blazing rows and disagreed on a number of issues, but it didn't affect the partnership. It's only been under the neo-conservatism which Murdoch has embraced, which accepts no criticism and expects only loyalty, whatever the cost, that our influence over America has completely disappeared. After all that's happened in the last four years, you'd expect that we at the very least ought to take stock of what's gone wrong and why, but instead the Scum demands that nothing change. While Wade no longer has Kemp to bash, she's still got a Labour prime minister to bitch slap.

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