Thursday, July 31, 2014 

Those all important silly season stories in full.*

Death to racist feather headdress wearing festival fucks, says the Graun.

Commonwealth games awesome says athlete, Commonwealth games pointless and bit shit say public.

Ebola: we could die, say people in affected countries.  Ebola: we're all going to die, say Telegraph, Mail and government of hypochondriac dickheads.

Real-life Nathan Barley gets TV series on dedicated idiot channel in latest example of death of satire.

Person with breasts attacks other person with breasts.

People on Twitter do something in defiance of something someone somewhere said.

People use internet to advertise drugs, shock BBC investigation finds.

I've had just as much if not more casual sex than Byrony Gordon, pay me the same level of attention pleads Rhiannon Lucy Seagulling Cosslett.

Album format dead, say artists who've never managed to produce a single decent tune.

I can't make promises on tax, says Cameron. Cameron to cut tax, reports entire media.

ISIS releases video of murder of dozens of captives, Tony Blair still Middle East peace envoy, George W. Bush still incoherent inoffensive dauber, Israel still decimating Gaza to neutralise terror threat.

*In full meaning as many as I can stand without getting a hatchet and driving it with full force into my skull.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014 

Israel snatches defeat from the jaws of victory.

If we spend our whole lives bending, what do you think we will get?  What are you trying so hard to understand, aren't the structures obvious yet?

In conflict, there comes a point where the only rational choice left, whether as a result of loss of men, materiel or territory is to surrender.  The alternative is complete annihilation.  This is predicated however on the victorious side accepting it.  Arguably, both positions were adopted respectively as the Sri Lankan forces closed in on the Tamil Tigers' last remaining strongholds, with the result being the deaths of hundreds if not thousands of civilians trapped in the crossfire.  Evidence of war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan military following their eventual victory and the Tigers' belated surrender is also abundant.

Relating this to Gaza, Israel has no intention of fully reoccupying the Strip despite calls for just that from the far-right, not least as it would give the militant groups ever greater opportunities of abducting soldiers than "Operation Protective Edge" currently has.  It can't then force a victory that way.  It can try and exhaust the very ability of Hamas and Islamic Jihad etc to resist by keeping the military operation going for so long that their stockpiled caches of rockets and ammunition are completely depleted, but they can't know how long that will take, nor is there a guarantee the political pressure from the international community won't, finally, become too much to ignore.  Similarly, they don't know how many actual fighters Hamas etc have, nor can they trust their actions won't have pushed those with sympathy for the militant groups into joining/rejoining.

Just as there can only be peace through a negotiated settlement, so it appears there can now only be no peace through negotiations.  This is what is meant by the idea of "demilitarising" Gaza, something we've heard a lot of the past few days.  While it's not by any means clear just how "demilitarising" Gaza would be achieved, as the idea of UN monitors disarming Hamas while at the same time trying to provide for the hundreds of thousands reliant on UNRWA's various programmes, the implications are obvious.  Hamas, despite all the obstacles in its path, including the blockade and deteriorating relations with former allies such as Syria and Iran, has succeeded in becoming just that little more like Hezbollah in Lebanon.  During Operation Cast Lead, Hamas or other groups killed 6 Israeli soldiers.  56 have so far been killed in this latest conflict, including 5 inside Israel itself when Hamas used one of its "terror tunnels" to attack a military outpost.

This only underlines how the outside world and almost certainly Israel herself have underestimated HamasWe were told Hamas was weak, how it resorted to war as a sign of its decline, and it's true the unity government deal suggested Hamas knew its position was ebbing.  Only now do we discover that in fact Hamas has spent its time in Gaza preparing for just such a conflict, building the underground infrastructure any resistance group confined to a small area of land would need to store its weaponry.  It's also the case the tunnels provided Gazans with necessities denied by the blockade, as well as the odd luxury (if fried chicken can ever be described as such).  Nor is Hamas given any credit for its changes in strategy.  It still has its repellent, antisemitic charter which calls for Israel's destruction, but it has long since moved away from the suicide attacks that did so much damage to the Palestinian cause.  Had they wanted to they could have sent bombers through the tunnels; instead those who haven't been obliterated the second they stepped into Israel went for military targets.

Hamas then must be disarmed, not because its rockets threaten Israeli civilians in any meaningful sense, but as it now seems more formidable than before.  Israel has spent the last few years safe in the knowledge that Fatah is as corrupt and broken as it has ever been, while Hamas has been isolated and contained in Gaza, a situation especially useful for proving the governing party's military mettle prior to elections.  The reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, itself in response to Israel yet again not living up to promises made in an effort to kick start peace talks, led to Israel taking the opportunity presented by the kidnap/murder of three teenagers to pre-emptively strike against Hamas in the West Bank, which in turn brought us to where we are now.

We shouldn't pretend the political mood is shifting against Israel when it isn't. Philip Hammond is right to say it is undermining its own support, but it seems however much Israeli politicians insult and lecture both Obama and John Kerry neither is prepared to take on the lobby in the country. The real, significant change is at the lower level, where the voices of journalists are being heard before false balance is added later.  When hardened hacks say the situation is as bad as they've experienced, and news anchors make clear their disquiet, it's ever harder for the frankly increasingly laughable IDF propaganda to affect the picture.  The "most moral" army on the planet, which once did worry about so-called collateral damage, now tells desperate lies or not even that when it shells UN schools or kills children playing on the beach.  Shortly, if not now, Israel will no longer be able carry on as it long as.  That, even as the slaughter continues, is the very slightest of silver linings.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014 

David Cameron will find you.

It's Tuesday, it's the dog days of July, so it must be time for a reprise of the who can be the most reprehensible cunt to immigrants act. You might recall last year around this time the Home Office sent round their "go home" vans, a move we're now informed wasn't the brainchild of Lynton Crosby, will wonders never cease. It wasn't a complete success, truth be told, but a majority didn't think it was racist and those that way inclined probably quite liked the message.

Facts you see don't enter this equation.  According to our fabulous prime minister Labour operated a "no questions asked" approach to benefits and this acted as a "magnetic pull" to migrants, or presumably at least those with an iron constitution.  This contradicts just about every piece of evidence we have about why those from the accession 8 countries came here, with the Migration Advisory Committee most recently finding little to support such claims, but no matter.

As well as announcing a further limitation on the time those from EU countries can claim Jobseeker's Allowance, a change it's estimated will affect around a whole 5,000 people, Cameron was also channelling his inner Liam Neeson.  Apparently if you're an illegal immigrant, he will find you and he will kill you.  To make clear just how serious he is, he went along on a raid, and was filmed by the BBC chillaxing in the victim's alleged criminal's kitchen with Theresa May.  It's probably worth noting as this point how Mark Harper, who had to resign as a minister earlier in the year after he was found to be employing an illegal immigrant as a cleaner, got a job back in the reshuffle, while Isabella Acevedo is waiting to be deported, separated from her teenage daughter.  Ah, justice.

It doesn't matter all this is self-defeating in the extreme.  Politicians simply aren't listened to on immigration any longer, and haven't been for quite some time now, the reason being they took their cue from the tabloids, made all these foolish promises about limiting it, and haven't done so because they can't.  Rather than start admitting they can't and return to making the argument immigration is positive overall, while the negatives can be tackled through careful targeting of the areas which have seen the most change, like reckless gamblers they keep doubling down.  Cameron is still, still, insisting his beyond idiotic target of bringing net migration down to the tens of thousands can be achieved, while Labour continues trying to one up the Tories.  Adding illegal immigration to the mix is just asking for it; the days of the Liberal Democrats calling for an amnesty, the only even remotely workable solution, and one which would bring the exchequer hundreds of millions (at least) in extra revenue, are long gone.  Instead they must all be found and sent home.  Just like Lucan, Shergar and Madeleine McCann will be (apologies).

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Boy, 4, has the mark of Murdoch.

The parents of a boy, 4, were horrified when a "mark of Rupert Murdoch" appeared on his forehead.

Tracy Gardner and Nobby Torchwood spotted the dollar symbol as they got their son, Keith, out of bed one morning.

The sinister sign of the evil one is proving a devil to explain.  The imprint has baffled his parents, teachers and even the family's GP, all of whom are apparently as thick as pig shit.  Or we might be making this background detail up.

Shocked Tracy, born yesterday, of Salem, West Norwood Cassette Library, said: “It’s a nightmare. Some people have said it’s the symbol of Mammon — the sign of the worship of money above everything else — which has been very upsetting.

“Just looking at it made me shake thinking the soul of that terrible man had visited my boy.  Something or someone had made the sign on him but we just can't explain how, as neither Nobby or I have the power of independent thought, believing instead everything we see on Channel 5.”

Wondering if it might be a skin infection or rash, they took Keith to their GP, Dr. Nick Riveria.

"He too was baffled.  He recommended we take him for an MRI scan, privately, as the NHS is very pushed at the moment.  We didn't however have the £5,000 to spare."

Worried Tracy put a picture of Keith on Facebook, where it soon received 5 likes, and attracted a comment from among others, Tom Watson MP.  "Clearly this boy has been touched by a presence not unlike the one that made me start believing the claims of ludicrous Tory MPs of the 1980s.  We need a public inquiry into this right now."

Other MPs have also since raised their concerns, as parliament is in recess and they have to keep tweeting in order to give the impression they're doing something.  "What possible justification can there be for calling the Sun a newspaper," Abraham Shelley didn't ask, "when it publishes trash not even the cheaper knock-offs of Take a Break would touch with a ten foot pole?  That's the real issue, especially when the parents of the boy obviously sold the story and don't care about their or his privacy in the first place."

THE SUN SAYS

Our story is totally justified on two grounds.  First, it's the silly season, and the rest of the press are filling their pages with similar guff.  It's not as though there's civil war in Libya, massacre after massacre in Gaza or conflict in Ukraine we could be reporting on.  That costs money.

Second, every time there's OUTRAGE about something we just get more attention, clicks and subscribers.  Last time we checked Mail Online has 190m unique visitors a month, despite Twitter and the chattering classes hating the paper with a passion.  You're feeding us, you gullible, keyboard slamming morons.

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Monday, July 28, 2014 

Our country is a graveyard.

Gentlemen, you have transformed
our country into a graveyard
You have planted bullets in our heads,
and organized massacres
Gentlemen, nothing passes like that
without account
All that you have done
to our people is
registered in notebooks

Tawfiq Zayad (Asad AbuKhalil's translation.)

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The class of the News of the World.

Nick Davies' Hack Attack looks to be as essential reading as Flat Earth News was:


Hoare was furious with him one time when Hoare brought in a story about a famous actress only to find that Coulson, first, refused to publish it; second, took the famous actress on holiday; third, was clearly being rewarded in her bed; fourth, and worst of all, told the famous actress how Hoare had managed to get the story in the first place, with the result that the source was exposed and lost forever.

When Hoare discovered all this, he told Coulson direct and to his face that he was a “complete cunt”. Coulson replied with a line which became a regular catchphrase as he worked his way upwards: “I’ll make itup to you, mate.” As though it didn’t matter what you did, because you could always throw a favour in somebody’s direction and just move on.
...

There is a story that Coulson’s assistant editor Ian Edmondson often liked to tell, about the time when he was still only a junior reporter on the News of the World and he had a girlfriend who was a reporter on another newspaper. He liked to call her “Boobs”. It so happened, he would explain, that Boobs made friends with Tracy Shaw, a particularly eye-catching young actor from Coronation Street who was of great interest to the tabloids. As Edmondson told it, there was one night when the two women had gone out on the town together and afterwards, Boobs had confided in him that Shaw had done some coke. This was obviously a secret, he would say, and one which could cause trouble for Shaw and potentially for his girlfriend – but also it was obviously a good story for the News of the World. So, he recalled with some relish, he had persuaded the trusting Boobs to tell him the whole tale again, secretly recorded her every word and gave it to the paper.

...

But Weatherup was no kind of street fighter. He appeared to be stuck in a 1970s time warp, playing the John Travolta part in Saturday Night Fever. He wore expensive suits and special gloves for driving and he had a well-known tendency, at the first sight of a sunny day, to turn up in the office in tight-fitting white tennis shorts; and an equally well-known tendency to slide up behind the young female reporters and massage their shoulders or even kiss their necks.

...

During the spring of 2005, for example, he (Coulson) personally oversaw a project to snatch an interview with the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe, in Broadmoor psychiatric hospital, where he was serving his time for the murder of 13 women. This was kept very secret.

The reporter on the job was instructed not to tell colleagues. For maximum discretion, any senior editor could have managed the job, but Coulson liked to think he knew how to run an investigation and he duly authorised the payment of a hefty fee to Sutcliffe’s brother, Carl, and also the purchase of a camera and recorder that were specially designed to trick the metal detectors at Broadmoor. Carl Sutcliffe concealed them inside a plaster cast and visited his unsuspecting brother who then found himself splashed across the News of the World, primarily on the grounds that he had become fat – “a balding 17-stone slob”, as the paper put it.

...

Some sources were naive. They would tell their story before getting a signed contract and would simply never be paid. One woman agreed to talk on the promise that the News of the World would pay for her to have a good holiday. When she tried to claim her reward, an editor declared that she was from up north, so she could stay in a caravan, for £150. Some got contracts and fell for an easy trick. The contract promised them big money if the story went on the front page. The reporter knew very well it would go inside the paper but kept that quiet. When the story came out and the source begged for something, anything, the reporter would offer them a tiny fee and, as one put it: “You wear them down and, in the end, they’ll take buttons.” A few – including a woman who had been raped by a footballer – fell foul of a clause which said that to the best of the source’s knowledge, the story must be true: the News of the World printed the story, claimed the source had been knowingly wrong about some part of it and refused to pay up.

...

The paper ruined a long list of more or less famous men by exposing the fact that they had visited prostitutes. And yet, in search of more of these stories, one News of the World reporter was told to make contacts among high-class sex workers with the specific instruction that he should have sex with them, do cocaine with them and claim it all on expenses. So he did.

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Friday, July 25, 2014 

Sucking on the hose pipe.

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Thursday, July 24, 2014 

The (Palestinian) right to death.

Shall we cut straight to the chase this time?  As we know, Hamas stores its rockets in schools, hospitals, mosques, ambulances and so on and so forth.  There is a certain amount of truth to these claims: UNRWA has twice in recent days discovered rockets hidden in vacant schools, something it has condemned in the strongest possible terms.  The key word there though is vacant schools; regardless of what Hamas and the other militant groups are, they do not store rockets in places where civilians are sheltering from the violence.

When the IDF then shells an UNRWA school where hundreds of people were taking refuge, it knows precisely what it's doing.  When they say terrorists store weapons in all the places mentioned above they're making clear they reserve the right to attack anywhere; it's a defence in advance.  When those shells kill 15 innocents, all the IDF can do is try and divert some of the blame, even it involves telling easily disprovable lies.  According to the IDF, there was a humanitarian window between 10:00 and 14:00 today when those sheltering in the school could have left to try and find somewhere else to escape the violence.  Instead, Hamas apparently prevented them from leaving.  This is news to UNRWA, who say they tried to coordinate exactly such a window and it was never granted.  In any case, Hamas continued firing from Beit Hanoun.  The IDF was responding to that fire.  By shelling a school they had the exact coordinates of, where they knew there were hundreds of civilians who wanted to leave but couldn't.

Something about this story doesn't add up.  To be precise, this is the sort of story a five-year-old would find difficult to believe.  It leads you to one conclusion, and one conclusion only: the IDF doesn't care what it hits in Gaza, and it will always blame Hamas regardless of how bad it looks.  This is the exact sort of behaviour we condemn when it's the Syrian military doing it.  They're the same kind of lies we find outrageous when they're told by the Russians.  Yet still our representatives will keep repeating Israel has the right to defend itself.  The Palestinians, as said before, only have the right to die.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014 

When words are not equal.

And what do you know, about alienation honey? Yeah please, explain how it feels.

There are numerous ways to shut down debate when it comes to Israel/Palestine.  The most obvious, and the most used and abused, is to cry antisemitism, although it must be stressed the line between vehement anti-Zionism and antisemitism is often an extremely fine one.  We saw this not too long ago when the Israeli ambassador to the UK denounced a Gerald Scarfe cartoon in the Sunday Times (having read a copy at the weekend, calling it a comic does a disservice to the Beano) as antisemitic on the grounds he portrayed Binyamin Netanyahu with a big nose, encasing Palestinians in a wall where the bricks were held together with blood.  This apparently invoked the blood libel and the age old antisemitic trope of caricaturing Jews as having big/long facial appendages.  As I noted at the time, it's fine for those who want to cry racism to do so on flimsy evidence, as Twitter would be even more unprofitable than it currently is if people didn't; when actual state actors start doing it to silence criticism, something much more sinister is at work.

Today we have a wonderful new example of the disparity in the nature of the discourse.  As they have in the past, Israeli politicians and those defending Israel's actions in Gaza have asked what other countries would do were they subjected to barrages of rockets on their towns and cities.  No nation could tolerate it, they say.  The IDF went so far as to photoshop an image of the House of Commons under just such an attack, questioning what we'd do then.  This obviously ignores how we dealt with the threat posed by the IRA, or how other countries which have faced down terrorist groups have done so without imposing a permanent siege on a heavily populated but relatively small city, but as the Israeli prime minister said, only Israel understands Israel.

When Lib Dem MP David Ward tweeted, saying "If I were in Gaza, would I fire a rocket? Probably yes" he was conducting a similar thought experiment.  You could say it's a rather redundant one, as transplanting yourself into such a situation without also taking into account how different your life would be makes it likely your entire world view would also be drastically altered, but at the same time it raises the question. What would you do? Would you resist as well, even if not necessarily alongside Hamas?  I find it likely I probably would.

Even to pose the question the other way it seems is to provide Hamas with succour, to suggest there is an equivalence between Hamas rockets and Israel defending itself.  Palestinians, as we really should have learned by now, don't have the same right to target those the UN says may have committed war crimes.  Indeed, according to the berk's berk, Tory chairman Grant Shapps, Ward's tweet may have incited violence, while Labour's Douglas Alexander said his "vile comments are as revealing as they are repellent".  Quickly the party issued a statement clarifying the obvious, that he was pointing out how people can be driven to such desperate measures, but not before the Board of Deputies of British Jews said Nick Clegg should expel Ward from the party.  Just as with everything else, words are simply not equal.

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