Wednesday, 28 January 2009

A sensible point of view

Here's a rare thing: an article in the Sun which I agree with.

In today's Sun Says is the following:
Step too father

ABSENTEE dads must pay their fair share for raising the children they leave behind.

Sadly, many simply refuse to face up to their responsibilities. Bad dads deserve tough penalties.

As a last resort, a court can — rightly — seize their passports and driving licences.

Now the Child Support Agency wants to grab that power for themselves.

This chaotic organisation has a shocking record for incompetence.

It has been known to target decent, hardworking and loving fathers who are doing all they can to pay their way.

Losing your licence can mean losing your job. That’s too harsh a penalty to be dished out by the heavy-handed CSA without higher authority.

The Sun does not appear to have an article on the subject, but the BBC does which confirms the plans.

I have to admit the Sun is correct. Powers of confiscation - and criminal punishments generally - should be decided by an independent Court of Law not by civil servants, nor anyone else for that matter - that's part of the rule of law.

I hope that the Sun has more sensible positions regarding legal issues. Unfortunately, I do not hold out much hope, but would be more than happy to be proven wrong.

The Sun under investigation

For the record...

The Guardian:
The Press Complaints Commission is investigating a front-page story in the Sun newspaper that claimed Islamic extremists were targeting The Apprentice star Sir Alan Sugar.
It is understood that the Sun story originated from a news agency.

The Sun declined to comment on why it had removed the story from its website.


Rebekah Wade speaks to the nation.

Billed as her first major speech in six years, or rather appearance, as the Sun's editor, Rebekah Wade, is notoriously shy of the limelight, the invitation for her to deliver this year's Hugh Cudlipp lecture was a curious one. Although the press is too coy to mention it, the real reason why Wade has not defended her newspaper in person when controversy has surrounded it, instead sending out Grahan Dudman to do it, is for fear that she'd embarrass herself, as she did when she rather unfortunately told the truth to a parliamentary committee by saying that her paper paid the police for information. Then there was of course her arrest and night spent in the cells for whacking her then husband, Ross Kemp, after a night on the booze. Again, interestingly, most of the media connived to cover up her split from Kemp, with Private Eye reporting that Les Hinton had phoned round the papers pleading with them not to report on it. For an editor whom in her speech defends vigorously the right to print whatever the hell she likes about those supposedly in the public eye, this strikes as rather hypocritical behaviour.

There is perhaps though another reason why Wade has not ventured into the public gaze for the past few years, which quickly becomes apparent when you read the actual content of her speech: she has nothing of any great interest to say. You don't need to be an intellectual to edit an newspaper, and Wade is probably excellent at what she does, but an orator or a debater she is obviously not. Compared to Paul Dacre, who likewise is supposedly shy of the limelight, his speeches, which included the very same lecture a couple of years back, are furious and infuriating by equal measure. He might be completely wrong, and arrogant and insulting with it, but he can argue his point well enough. Wade however lacks the courage or self-belief to adequately cover the contradictions throughout, leaving gaping holes in her material.

She might well have been then as Roy Greenslade suggests, charming in person, but none of that comes across in the somewhat disjointed full text offered by both the Guardian and the Press Gazette. Starting on somewhat surer ground, she illustrates that those cutting costs without reinvesting the savings back into journalism itself are the ones that are losing the most sales. Unsurprisingly, the Mirror and the Daily Star are the ones that have lost the most sales over the past year. Even this though leaves out some other much needed explanatory detail: Wade doesn't mention that her own paper has reignited the vicious price war, with the paper selling for just 20p across London and the south-east. As has been noted time and again, because of Murdoch's other vast interests, he can afford to do so; his competitors simply can't, and attempting to compete is beyond stupid. Naturally, Richard Desmond has therefore slashed the cost of the Star to... 20p. Although December is always a quiet month for newspapers sales, the Sun fell below 3 million last month, just as it did in 2007. Across the board though all of the tabloids are declining, and falling at far faster rates than their broadsheets rivals and sisters. It indicates the inevitable: that as the internet increasingly takes over as the main source for the celeb tittle-tattle, scandal-mongering and populist wittering which they specialise in, the tabloids are facing the end of their business models. The broadsheets, by contrast, although still giving away their content, can survive thanks to their quality and reader dedication, which simply isn't there among the red-tops and middle-market.

Wade's rallying cry then, that it will be "the quality of our journalism [that] makes or breaks our industry, not the recession", is one of those statements that makes you wonder if she really knows what she's saying. Just the recent Glen Jenvey incident, when the paper splashed on a complete untrue concocted story which accused completely innocent Muslims of being extremists, shows how much it cares about accuracy. It's no surprise to learn that a new poll found that only 19% of those questioned in this country had trust in newspapers. This is a direct consequence of the tabloids' often irresponsible and downright untrue journalism, which unfairly infects opinion of other newspapers and broadcasters, yet still editors like Dacre and Wade defend their "quality" despite its effects.

Wade's second theme, campaigning journalism, offers us her insight into both the recent Baby P affair and the more notorious "naming and shaming" of paedophiles she directed while editor of the News of the World, but first she mentions the paper's continuing support for the Help for Heroes charity, including her own trip to a base in Helmand. She describes a warm welcome and how everyone was wearing the wristbands, but this jars somewhat with the far more cynical views of the newspaper on the Army Reserve Rumour Service message board in response to the paper's Military Awards, which Wade also mentions, and which readers themselves also seemed less than overwhelmed with. She takes credit for the increasing support for the army and turnout at parades, without providing any evidence whatsoever that it was the Sun "wot did it". Similarly, while she calls for more reporting of the war in Afghanistan, she doesn't mention that her paper's own coverage of it never for so much of a second doubts that it's for a good cause or that the battle is being won. Whenever the topic is discussed in the paper's leader column, it inevitably turns to the argument that fighting the Taliban makes us safer, when again there is evidence to suggest the opposite is the case. Blind loyalty is all that it has to offer, when constructive criticism is always the best policy.

Moving on to Sarah's law, what becomes clear is Wade's utter refusal to take responsibility, both for her own actions, and also for the actions of those who read her newspaper and decide to take the law into their own hands. Illuminating firstly is that it came about after she arrived unannounced on Sara Payne's doorstep; not apparently concerned about whether either she or her husband were in a fit state to be interviewed, or to set in motion what became a crusade which if implemented would most likely have the opposite effect to that which is intended, Wade immediately had her witch-hunt. Her own contempt for the truth is also apparent when she castigates the other media for its reporting of what happened on one Portsmouth estate:

Parts of the media went on the attack with a blatant disregard for the facts of the campaign or more importantly their readers’ opinions on the matter.

After we published the first list, a group of mothers from an impoverished housing estate in Portsmouth took to the streets to protest. The BBC described them as ‘an angry lynch mob’.

What the BBC did not report was that the mothers had just discovered that Victor Burnett, a paedophile with 14 convictions for raping and abusing young boys between the ages of four and nine, had been rehoused amongst them unmonitored by the authorities.

Totally unaware of his background, the residents had complained for years about Burnett’s inappropriate behaviour towards their children but their voices, until then, had remained unheard.

How else should the media have described protests such as these, as reported by the Telegraph:

The torch paper was lit by the naming of Victor Burnett, a convicted serial child abuser, in the News of the World: he was a resident of Paulsgrove and was hounded from his home by a chanting mob. Events moved out of control: the rest of Britain looked on in horror and fascination as windows were smashed, cars burned, and angelic, banner-waving five-year-olds happily chanted words that sounded ugly falling from childish mouths. "Sex case, sex case. Hang 'em, hang 'em, hang 'em." Five families were moved from the estate: the police said that none had links with sex offences.

There was no evidence that Burnett had re-offended while on Paulsgrove, but at least he was correctly identified: others had their houses burgled, windows smashed and their cars set on fire. Wade calls the "naming and shaming" her responsibility, which it was. She however hides behind the readers themselves, critical of how others disregarded "readers' opinions", as if readers' opinions are always unimpeachable or always right. As Nick Davies pointed out in Flat Earth News, one of the rules of production is giving the readers what they want, but what you think the readers want is not always the same thing. The key is that it's cheap, while challenging orthodoxy is expensive and unpredictable.

That Wade has no interest in the ultimate consequences of her own actions could not be more illustrated by the end result of the paper's Baby P campaign. Here's how she describes it:

Campaigns provide a unique connection to the public especially when the subject matter is of a serious nature.For me, nothing can illustrate this connection better than our recent Baby P campaign.

The public outcry was deafening. And we began our fight for justice with a determination to expose the lack of accountability and responsibility for Baby P’s brutal death.

We delivered 1.5 million signatures to Downing Street and the collective power worked.

Children’s Secretary Ed Balls was forced to use emergency legislation to ensure that those responsible were held to account. We received many many thousands of letters at The Sun about our Baby P coverage.

I’d like to read you one: ‘I have never been a huge fan of The Sun, however I thank you for the coverage of Baby P. I am so grateful for the campaign. This is not a modern day witch-hunt but a petition for justice. Please, please do not relent.'

In contrast, I’d like to quote from an article in... The Guardian.

“Full of fury and repellent hysteria, but isn’t that part of the game? This is less about the creation of public emotion and more about its manipulation."

This knee-jerk tabloid kicking reaction is just dull.

But total disregard and respect for public opinion never ceases to amaze me.

They demanded accountability.

And as a result of the campaign, some, just some, of those responsible were removed from office without compensation.

Or as this Sun reader wrote: ‘The tabloid press, which the arty-farty press like to look down on so much, has shown that it prides morality over political correctness.’

Again, there's the lack of evidence that Shoesmith and others wouldn't have been suspended or sacked if the Sun hadn't ran its campaign. Some sort of action was always going to be taken. Again, Wade hides behind supposed public opinion: it's what "they" want, not what she wants or what's good for Murdoch's bank balance. It's not about directing the blame onto other people because those actually responsible for Baby P's death couldn't be named and demonised themselves because the cogs of justice are still whirring in connected cases, it's about so-called justice, or even morality. The result? A new boss has been installed in Haringey, on double what Sharon Shoesmith was earning, while the borough is now so desperate for social workers that the head of the department made an appeal across London for some to be lent him. Children less safe, those who worked on the case who were already likely distraught had their lives ruined, and now the service, what's left of it, costs more. A more ringing endorsement of a Sun justice campaign could hardly be imagined, and yet still Wade feels fit to quote a reader who invokes morality. This so-called morality was presumably what lead the comment sections on the Sun's articles to be shut down, where previously already suicidal social workers had been encouraged to kill themselves. The only more immoral paper in this country is the Daily Mail.

Filled with such chutzpah, it's little wonder that Wade then goes on to make an even more outrageous statement, this time involving press freedom:

This country is full of regulators, lawyers and politicians eager to frame and implement legislation that would constrain freedoms hard won over centuries.

We are already losing those freedoms. Privacy legislation is being created by the drip, drip of case law in the High Court without any reference to parliament.

This from the editor of an newspaper which as the Heresiarch has already pointed out, has never so much as raised its voice once against this government's incessant attacks on civil liberties. In fact, on nearly every occasion it's supported them, whether it be ID cards, detention without trial or its constant bugbear, the Human Rights Act, which it opposed while the government introduced it. She's also completely wrong: parliament passed the HRA, which now so apparently threatens the tabloids' and their dying business model by potentially restricting the scandals they can report. This is also an issue on which public opinion is not necessarily on their side: few cared about Max Mosley, or even knew who he was until the News of the World exposed him while blackmailing the women who spanked him. The HRA doesn't affect real scandal, like the already monikered "Erminegate", which is why no one other than the tabloids and their editors care, and why the Guardian was completely right to print Mosley's own views on press freedom, which she criticises, no doubt intending to be humourous, as "self-flagellation". When she talks about quality, a old man being spanked by prostitutes is the sort of story she means.

Having regaled stories about how much the Sun listens to its readers, she concludes with a few questions which can be happily answered:

We need to ask ourselves: Can we unite to fight against a privacy law that has no place in a democracy?

Obviously not, as firstly there isn't one, isn't going to be one, and even if there was, it wouldn't be supported when it would only cover sex scandals involving celebrities. Next!

Can we agree that self-regulation is the best way to deal with the occasional excesses of a free press?

No, not when the regulator is completely toothless and cannot impose financial sanctions or front page apologies on newspapers when the "excesses" are serious enough, as they often are.

Can we have a press that has the courage and commitment to listen to and fight for its readers?

Not when no thought is put into whether the consequences of that courage and commitment will actually result in a positive outcome.

Can we survive this economic climate if we keep investment in journalism at the heart of what we do?

Not if what you call journalism is whatever's on the front page of tomorrow's Sun (Jade Goody and a footballer being interviewed about a rape).

Sunday, 25 January 2009

The Sun v the Criminal Justice System and Gays

Once again there's a nice neutral headline in our favourite tabloid newspaper:

"Barmy Euro law let pervs abuse"

The article is about how two registered sex offenders were allowed to share a flat which is clearly the fault of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Sun claims that the police felt they were unable to tell their neighbours that they were in the area, because of a
"fear of being in breach of European Human Rights legislation on cohabiting same-sex partners."
What a load of rubbish. The ECHR doesn't say anything like this. In fact, homosexuality is not mentioned at all, presumably because it was drafted in the 50s when homosexuality was illegal in a lot of countries, including the UK. The nearest there is article 8: Right to respect for private and family life, which itself stems from an English case from the early 1600s that established the principle of "An Englishman's home is his castle". Effectively the Sun is raging against one of the basic principles of English common law: Why does the Sun hate our freedoms?

What is more likely to be the reason for this lack of action - if indeed that is what actually happened - is because of how people reacted in summer 2000 to the News of the World's anti-paedophile campaign, including innocent people being attacked. In any event, they were on the sex offenders' register, so it was already a matter of public knowledge.

The Sun also appears to be gay-bashing. It states that the men started a relationship in prison and then in the next sentence states they then targeted the kiddies. The Sun seems to be implying that homosexuality and paedophilia are one and the same or are in some way connected. The only people who take this line are those of a nutty, right-wing persuasion (see the Google search for homosexuality and paedophilia for examples). It implies this even though later on it states that one of the offenders had two kids.

The only positive to this article is that the Sun doesn't explicitly say that the ECHR was forced upon us by the Eurocrats, but the fact it uses the term "Euro" shows what it wants people to think.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

The Echo Chamber

The mission of this blog from the outset has been to show people the lies told in The Sun in the hope of turning tabloid readers away from this newspaper.

Often we will hear people 'defend' that tabloid on the basis that no-one believes their nonsense.

We humbly beg to differ on this point, not least because there are plenty of news outlets willing to repeat their nonsense, and not all of their readers realise that The Sun is the sole source of what they are reading (if The Sun is listed as a source at all).

Fear is a cumulative thing, after all, and not always subject to logic.

Thanks to the hard work of editor Sim-O, we now have an excellent example of this echo chamber at work, and from today, Sun Lies editors and other contributors will be working through this list as part of a - *cough* - polite letter-writing campaign designed to (a) show people how the echo chamber works, and (b) provide us with a starting point so we can clean up some of the mess The Sun left behind when they selfishly backed away from the story instead of pointing out to other news outlets that they were wrong, and their 'expert' was a fraud...

... which neatly brings us to the list of things you'll want to keep in mind when browsing through this incomplete list of stories resulting from The Sun's 'scoop':

1. The Sun wilfully distorted the evidence presented by terror 'expert' Glen Jenvey in order to sex up what became a front page story.

2. Further, the evidence presented by terror 'expert' Glen Jenvey turned out to be falsified/planted *by* terror 'expert' Glen Jenvey.

3. After this was discovered, The Sun quietly removed their article from their website, but failed to issue a retraction.

4. Some initial comments and emails issued by editors of this blog and/or readers of Bloggerheads have resulted in some other articles being removed, but for the most part, the written record states that this happened (when it clearly didn't), and there is very little in the world of mainstream media that suggests otherwise.

5. Please note that some articles out there like this one involve a critical eye and independent reporting, *not* a simple repeat of the story. The Telegraph, unlike some newspapers, were also kind enough to publish our comment about major inaccuracies in the story. Please also note that examples like this are very, very thin on the ground.

6. A classic case of Chinese whispers for fans of the echo chamber; The Sun took the list of names offered (!) by Glen Jenvey in his guise as 'abuislam' (Sir Alan Sugar, Alan Howard, David Miliband) and decided it needed a bit of sexing up for the text generation, so they had a browse through this list of 100 names from a link posted to that discussion, and picked out Mark Ronson (at #62), mainly because of his connection to Amy Winehouse. The opening paragraph from the since-removed article declared that "TV’s The Apprentice boss Sir Alan Sugar and Amy Winehouse record producer Mark Ronson are among prominent names discussed on a fanatics’ website" and this was quickly interpreted (and then repeated) as Amy Winehouse being a 'target', and not merely the most famous client of a 'target'. The Sun did nothing to correct this, before or after their entire story was proved false.

7. There are also clear cases such as this, where it has gone to being a story reported as being from The Sun in NME to NME being presented as if it were a source.

"No-one believes The Sun"...? Bollocks to that.

OK, there's your background. Here are close to fifty examples from the echo chamber, starting with The Sun's front page 'scoop' that kicked things off. Articles like those listed below appeared around the world in multiple languages, not only online, but in print, and in news bulletins on radio and television. What we present here is just the tip of the iceberg:

[This list will be updated and labels attached to removed/corrected articles as our clean-up efforts progress.]

Hate hit list
The Sun, UK - 6 Jan 2009
By JOHN COLES FEARS grew last night that hate-filled Islamic extremists are drawing up a "hit list" of Britain's leading Jews — bringing the Middle East ...

David Miliband and Sir Alan Sugar 'targeted' in anti-semitic hit ...
Daily Mail, UK - 6 Jan 2009
By Tamara Cohen Islamic fundamentalists have drawn up an online list of Jewish 'targets' including David Milliband and Sir Alan Sugar. ...

Sir Alan 'target for extremists', UK - 6 Jan 2009
Apprentice star Sir Alan Sugar has been said to be among a list of top British Jews thought to be targeted by extremists over Israel's Gaza onslaught. ...

Sugar 'target for extremists'
TeleText, UK - 6 Jan 2009
Apprentice star Sir Alan Sugar is said to be among a list of top British Jews thought to be targeted by extremists over Israel's Gaza onslaught. ...

Winehouse named on Islamic terror list
Digital Spy, UK - 7 Jan 2009
By David Balls The singer was added to a list of 'top Jews to target' on the fundamentalist forum following recent troubles in the Middle East. ...

Amy Winehouse 'Named On Islamic Extremist Terror List'
Gigwise, UK - 7 Jan 2009
by Jason Gregory Amy Winehouse has been named as a "terror target" on a hit list compiled by Islamic extremists, according to reports. ...

Do we need to protect Alan Sugar?, UK - 7 Jan 2009
At last, to the delight of the many people who stop by to complain that the majority of posts on this blog confusingly and irritatingly concern showbusiness ...

Report: Islamist site compiling list of UK Jews to target over Gaza op
Ha'aretz, Israel - 7 Jan 2009
By Haaretz Service An Islamic extremist Web site is believed to be drawing up a list of prominent British Jews to target over Israel's offensive against ...

Sugar could be Hamas target, Ireland - 7 Jan 2009
Apprentice star Alan Sugar was said today to be among a list of top British Jews thought to be targeted by extremists over Israel's Gaza onslaught. ...

Kill 'em. Kill 'em all
Irish Independent, Ireland - 7 Jan 2009
As the current unpleasantness in the Middle East continues -- you may have seen something about it on the news -- it seems that the problems in the region ...

Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson 'targeted by Islamic extremists', UK - 7 Jan 2009
Reports have emerged today (January 7) claiming that Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson have been included on a "terror target" hit list made in reaction to the ...

Amy Winehouse allegedly targeted by Islamic extremists
Prefixmag, NY - 7 Jan 2009
It's rare for Amy Winehouse to be out of the headlines, but this time she may have become the unwitting target of an alarming hate campaign. ...

Shields MP on terror hit list
Shields Gazette, UK - 7 Jan 2009
By Paul Myles-Kelly SOUTH Shields MP David Miliband is said to be among leading British figures targeted on an extremist Islamic "hit list". ...

British Jews Under Threat of Revenge Attacks, Germany - 7 Jan 2009
Well known British Jews have been warned about revenge attacks carried out by Islamic extremists. Authorities fear a hit list of celebrities and politicians ...

Extremists have drawn up Brit Jew hit list
Sify, India - 7 Jan 2009
London: Hate-filled Islamic extremists are reported to be drawing up a "hit list" of Britain's leading Jews. The Sun reports British anti-terror expert Glen ...

List of leading British Jews is posted on extremist website
This is London, UK - 7 Jan 2009
APPRENTICE star Sir Alan Sugar and pop producer Mark Ronson are among a list of leading British Jews thought to be targeted by extremists over Israel's ...

Amy auf Todesliste islamischer Extremisten
Blick Online - 8. Jan. 2009
Islamische Extremisten haben es auf die britische Sängerin Amy Winehouse abgesehen. Auf der Todesliste, die auf Hass-Internetseite «Ummah» auftauchte, ...

Amy Winehouse, blanco de terroristas
esmas, Mexico - 8 Jan 2009
Aunque no le han dado importancia, Glen Jenvey, experto en antiterrorismo de origen británico, asegura que los comentarios publicados deben ser tomados en ...

Prominent UK Jews named on website
First Post, UK - 8 Jan 2009
Businessman Sir Alan Sugar and record producer Mark Ronson (right) feature on a list of high-profile British Jews who could be targeted after their names ...

UK Celebrity Terror Watch
Heeb Magazine - 8 Jan 2009
Reports emerged yesterday alleging Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson have been added to a "terror target" hit list made in reaction to the current conflict in ...

Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson 'targeted by Islamic extremists'
Launch Yahoo - 8 Jan 2009
Reports have emerged today (January 7) claiming that Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson have been included on a "terror target" hit list made in reaction to the ...

UK authorities believe these prominent British Jews are on terror ...
Electric New Paper, Singapore - 8 Jan 2009
Anti-terrorism expert Glen Jenvey told The Sun he feared the forum was being used to prepare a backlash against Jews. He said: 'The Ummah website has been ...

Rampant Muslim Jew-Hatred
EuropeNews, Denmark - 8 Jan 2009
Mr Jenvey, 43, [British anti-terror expert Glen Jenvey] said: "The Ummah website has been used by extremists. Those listed should treat it very seriously. ...

Winehouse Appears on Terrorist Hit List
Popeater, NY - 8 Jan 2009
(Jan. 8) -- Amy Winehouse and British music producer Mark Ronson are among the celebrities including on a "terror target" list made in response to the ...

Terroryści chcą zabić Amy Winehouse!
Pudelek, Poland - 8 Jan 2009
Takie listy należy traktować bardzo poważnie – powiedział mediom Glen Jenvey. Fanatycy są gotowi atakować gwiazdy, które uważają za symbol zepsutego ...

Amy Winehouse na lista dos extremistas islâmicos
SRZD, Brazil - 8 Jan 2009
O britânico Glen Jenvey, especialista em táticas antiterroristas disse ao jornal que a tal lista deve ser levada a sério. "O website da Ummah está sendo ...

Islam-Terroristen wollen Amy ermorden
Berliner Kurier - 9. Jan. 2009
London - Gerade planschte sie noch ausgelassen oben ohne in der Karibik und turtelte mit ehemaligen Rugby-Spielern am Strand, da hat sie schon wieder Ärger ...

Amy Winehouse na seznamu terčů islámských teroristů, Czech Republic - 9 Jan 2009
Očekávejte nenávistnou kampaň a zastrašování tak od dvaceti či třiceti zločinců," uvedl britský expert na terorismus Glen Jenvey pro list The Sun. ...

Amy Winehouse Marked for Death!
Celebuzz, CA - 9 Jan 2009
Any person who's been reading the tabloid news over the past year would assume that Amy Winehouse will do herself in before anyone else can get the chance. ...

Amy Winehouse estaria na mira de terroristas
Ego, Brazil - 9 Jan 2009
De acordo com o site "Perez Hilton", Glen Jenvey, uma especialista britânica anti-terrorismo, extremistas islâmicos teriam elaborado uma lista de alguns dos ...

Amy Winehouse, pe lista ţintelor unor posibile atacuri teroriste
Mediafax, Romania - 9 Jan 2009
Glen Jenvey, un expert britanic în politicile antiteroriste, consideră că această ameninţare trebuie să fie luată în serios. El a declarat pentru cotidianul ...

Amy Winehouse na seznamu terčů islámských teroristů, Czech Republic - 9 Jan 2009
Očekávejte nenávistnou kampaň a zastrašování tak od dvaceti či třiceti zločinců," uvedl britský expert na terorismus Glen Jenvey pro list The Sun. ...

Amy Winehouse op dodenlijst Islamitische groepering! - 9 jan 2009
Het wordt uitkijken voor Amy Winehouse. Haar leven wordt nu eens niet bedreigd door drugs door ... extremistsiche islamieten. ...

Todesliste: Winehouse im Visier von Terroristen - 9. Jan. 2009
Islamische Extremisten erklären jüdische Prominente wie Amy Winehouse und Mark Ronson zu Zielen von Terroranschlägen. Während Amy Winehouse auf der...

Amy Winehouse on Terrorist Hit List
OK! Magazine, NY - 9 Jan 2009
As the conflict in Gaza rages on, Islamic extremists are turning their hate to Western nations and their Jewish citizens, naming several prominent Brits on ...

Winehouse A Terrorist Target, CA - 9 Jan 2009
According to a new report, there's a lot of talk that Islamic extremists have drawn up a "hit list" of some of Britain's leading Jews. ...

Terrorists Target Winehouse
Radar Online, NY - 9 Jan 2009
According to published reports, singer Amy Winehouse and British music producer Mark Ronson are among the celebrities marked for death on a 'terror target' ...

AMY WINEHOUSE OP DODENLIJST JIHAD Amy Winehouse op dodenlijst Jihad - 9 jan 2009
Niemand minder dan Amy Winehouse staat op de Islaamse Jihad dodenlijst. De zangeres is toegevoegd aan een dodenlijst speciaal gericht op joden, ...

Amy Winehouse en danger de mort ?
SCOOP PEOPLE, France - 9 Jan 2009
Et d'après un spécialiste anglais du terrorisme, Glen Jenvey, "les personnes figurant dans cette liste doivent prendre cela très sérieusement"...

Amy Winehouse, cible pour les terroristes ?
Teemix - 9 jan 2009
Un site internet, apparemment souvent visité par des islamistes, a eu la "brillante" idée de publier une liste de personnalités d'origine juive qui feraient ...

Amy im Visier von Terroristen
Vienna Online - 9. Jan. 2009
Dies berichtete nun Auf der Internetseite forderte ein Poster andere User auf, prominente Juden vorzuschlagen, die zum Ziel von ...

Amy Winehouse visée par des terroristes
Voici - 9 jan 2009
La chanteuse trash est à mille lieues de se douter de ce qu'il se passe de l'autre côté du globe. En vacances sous le soleil de Sainte-Lucie, dans les bras ...

Is Amy Winehouse Being Targeted By Terrorists?!?
X17 Online, California - 9 Jan 2009
Reports in the UK say that Amy Winehouse is a "terror target" for extremists who plan to attack high profile British's Jews. Also named in the threat was ...

Amy vizata de teroristi
Ziua, Romania - 9 Jan 2009
Glen Jenvey, un expert britanic in politicile antiteroriste, considera ca aceasta amenintare trebuie sa fie luata in serios. Acesta a declarat pentru ...

Suicide Bombers Target Suicidal Bummer
Jawa Report, TX - 10 Jan 2009
It has been frequently noted that Islamists are rather short on sophistication. Indeed, traits like humor, intelligence and irony appear to be completely ...

Troubled singer Amy Winehouse in terror hit list?
Spicezee, India - 10 Jan 2009
Los Angeles, Jan 10: The troubled pop singer Amy Winehouse, whose weird antics have always grabbed more eyeballs than her singing talent, is reportedly on ...

Η Amy Winehouse και ο Mark Ronson στόχοι τρομοκρατών!
Avopolis, Greece - 11 Jan 2009
... Λωρίδα της Γάζας. Σύμφωνα με τον ειδικό της βρετανικής αντιτρομοκρατικής υπηρεσίας, Glen Jenvey, οι αναφορές αυτές θα πρέπει να ληφθούν σοβαρά υπόψιν. ...

(Psst! You may also have noticed after browsing through that list that the name of terror 'expert' Glen Jenvey also echoed around the world. Would it be wrong to suspect that this is one of the reasons why he tells such awful lies?)

Monday, 19 January 2009

Propaganda or just convenient dead terrorists?

Imagine for a moment you're some sort of security asset. You have a major story: 40 militants linked to al-Qaida in the Islamic Mahgreb (formerly the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat) have apparently died of the plague. Either they were the victims of diseases inherent to living in the middle of nowhere in Africa, where outbreaks of plague are still reasonably regular, or, more frighteningly, they were possibly experimenting with weaponising plague, and were struck down themselves in the process. Whatever the truth, it's still a reasonably big story. Who then do you leak this to? A well-respected newspaper, such as the Times, Telegraph or Guardian? Or, on the other hand, the Sun?

Silly question, really. As you might expect, the report splashed on today's Sun front page reeks to high heaven. All the signs that it's either propaganda or complete nonsense are apparent: firstly, that it's been handed to the newspaper over the weekend, to go in the paper on the slowest and generally least busy news day of the week, Monday. Second, it seems to be based on a single source. Third, it's a story which is completely impossible to verify: you could try talking to government health sources in Algeria and see if there have been any recent cases of plague reported to them or which they're aware of and go from them, but that's a lot of effort, especially for today's churnalists. Lastly, the actual details are sketchy while the background information is remarkably, for the Sun, rather well defined: it hasn't just described them as al-Qaida fighters but correctly as AQIM, it directly names the area where they were when apparently infected as Tizi Ouzou province, and where they apparently fled to, and names their leader correctly, even using his less well-known real name Abdelmalek Droudkal rather than his nom de guerre Abu Musab Abdel Wadoud.

In short, it provides you with everything except actual evidence. It claims that up to 40 were killed by the plague, yet apparently only one body was actually found, and rather conveniently by the roadside, while the others are meant to be in mass graves in Yakouren forest. There are no photographs, and no confirmation of what type of plague the man had died from. The article claims that plague can kill in hours, but this is only true of the rarest form, pneumonic plague, which if not treated within 24 hours of symptoms developing greatly increases the chances of death. Bubonic plague, the most common, can be treated, and due to its longer incubation period of 2 to 6 days and well-known symptoms is often identified in time. While all forms are increasingly rare in the West, there are still usually a few cases each year in the United States, a recent one of which killed a biologist in the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, apparently contracting pneumonic plague after performing an autopsy on a mountain lion.

Algeria last had a major outbreak in 2003, where there were a total of 11 confirmed cases and 7 suspected, all of bubonic plague with 2 later developing into septicemia. A later study trapped rats in the area of the outbreak and found 9 of the 95 fleas collected to be infected with Yersinia pestis. Despite this attesting that the country most likely still has such fleas and rats in abundance, especially in the apparent remote forest where the fighters were supposedly training, not to mention the possibility of it spreading from southern Africa where it is even more prevalent, all the far from paranoid self-cast jihad watchers have immediately jumped to the conclusion that this means they just must have been experimenting with plague as a weapon. The Sun has nobly followed-up such speculation in tomorrow's edition, with the paper contacting Dr Igor Khrupinov, of Georgia University, who immediately without the slightest of information further suggests this could be the case.

There are just a few problems with this. Firstly, if al-Qaida was experimenting with biological weapons again as it has very amateurishly done in the past, why would one of the least respected and smallest of its groups have been given the "contract" to do so? Moreover, plague is incredibly difficult to weaponise: the United States never managed it, although the Russians did. Famously, it has been used crudely in the past: first at Caffa and later by the Japanese, who dropped ceramic bombs filled with infected fleas on China in the early 1940s. The idea of weaponising plague, or at least bubonic plague has fallen down the list of feared outbreaks, mainly because of the relative ease with which it is treated. It would cause panic certainly, and some deaths most probably, but nothing on the scale of which al-Qaida would be interested in, especially considering the difficulties in spreading it in the wild. Pneumonic plague would be of more interest, especially if it could be spread by aerosol, but fears of its high infection rate have possibly been exaggerated: a study of an outbreak in Uganda in 2004 found a transmittance rate of only 8%. One of the authors had previously published a paper analysing the risk of person to person infection, which also appears to have come to a similar conclusion. That knocks the idea on the head of "suicide" infected walking around cities spreading the disease merely by coughing, and considering the quick onset of symptoms of pneumonic plague, also greatly reduces the time in which to spread it. That none of those involved apparently sought treatment gives the inclination that they were behaving deviously, but again that's if we believe that there are 40 bodies buried in a mass grave, when only 1 body has supposedly been definitively identified, with again no indication of the plague type.

If there was an outbreak then, and as could have been easily established by using the trusty Occam's razor, the most likely cause would have been our old friend Rattus rattus and his pals the fleas. It doesn't quite answer why they wouldn't have sought treatment, as not all of them would probably have been identified as militants, although they could have been "discouraged" from leaving.

That is of course if we accept the story at all. To return to the beginning, why would the Sun be given such a scoop? One answer might have been pay, naturally, not available from the more respected papers, but it still means that if it is completely false and instead an example of the tabloids being supplied with propaganda, that a significant minority, if not majority, are not going to believe a word of it. Why also has it been supplied now? When we last examined what seemed an almost certainly similar piece of unverifiable propaganda, it came at a time when the war in Afghanistan was going through a rough patch. Likewise, the threat from al-Qaida has been talked down of late, including by the head of MI5 himself. This doesn't suit the agenda of some politicians and security officials, who rely on the continuation of the "war on terror" or whatever name it is now masquearding as for both their own dubious ends and for their own employment. Only last week David Miliband was talking about the phrase "war on terror" being a mistake, something which the Sun itself denounced. It's also doubtless a coincidence that Barack Obama becomes US president tomorrow, and with it new policies on that very same war. Even better if the Sun itself doesn't immediately spin on how they might have been experimenting, with the outbreak being the result of weapons tests; let the jihadist watching blogs and forums do that.

Propaganda or not, the story has of course spread like the proverbial plague itself, all without anyone bothering to check it, although an article in the notoriously accurate Moonie-owned Washington Times is building on the story with another "intelligence source", claiming it was a weapons experiment that went wrong, which is helped by the article referring to the non-existent ricin plot without mentioning it being err, non-existent. Churnalism has done its work again, and because it spreads to more respected sites like the Torygraph, even if the story is based entirely on the Sun's original, it becomes more based in fact that it otherwise would. Either way, it's a good news story. Dead terrorists = good. Dead terrorists messing about with plague = good and SCARY, which is even better. The more you loathe the press, the more you come to respect its potential as a propaganda tool, and this article only furthers that.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

More idiotic bashing of British Muslims.

You would have thought that after relying on the dubious claims of Glen Jenvey for a front page lead story, only for it to have been withdrawn less than a week later might have made the Sun's journalists slightly more circumspect in accusing British Muslims of stirring up hate or targeting Jews.

Then you of course remember that you're dealing with the Sun, where few of the journalists in the first place have enough brains or probably the time to make a Google search before taking to slamming their keyboard and banging out another idiotic piece. So it is with today's banner boosting, potentially baseless claim, that "menacing texts sent ... by Hamas supporters" originated in this country:

MENACING texts sent to Israeli soldiers’ families by Hamas supporters were traced to Britain yesterday.

Scores of messages have been sent — warning that Israeli sons fighting in Gaza face slaughter.

Checks of the code from the sender’s number revealed the texts originated in the UK.

British supporters of the Islamic fanatics in the besieged Gaza Strip were assumed to be responsible for the scare tactics last night.

As is usual, the Sun's own story appears to based on one elsewhere, this report from Ynetnews:

After Hamas sent a text message in broken Hebrew to a number of Israeli cellular phones during the first days of Operation Cast Lead, the organization ahs now decided to try its luck in an English message.

"Come on into Gaza. A number of surprises waiting for your sons, the least of which is death. Hamas," read the SMS message received Wednesday by a number of Israelis on their cellular phones.

Attempts to call the phone number from which the message was sent, that appeared to have an British country code, was met with an automated message the number had been disconnected.

Helpfully, Ynetnews provides a grab from the mobile, giving the number from which the message originated, +447624803777, which does indeed appear to be a British number, the +44 being our country code. A simple Google search however quickly reveals that this is not as simple as someone sending out mass messages from a phone which they've then quickly disconnected:

hi all
i am from indonesia,everybody can use that number for sms, pls your try from here

for free sms pls visit my sites
free sms for all

Another site that offered free SMS messages originating from that number was, currently down, as set out here. It seems that the number is just a generic one, meant to confuse people into thinking it's a legitimate number, but is instead just a front, mainly used for mass spamming, as was the case here. A whois for only identifies that the domain is registered with Godaddy, and might well no longer be used. In the comments on the Ynetnews article someone claims to have traced it as an Isle of Man network number, which further distinguishes it as not necessarily being connected with the mainland itself.

In fact, the Sun might well have been cleverer here than first imagined. Their screen grab of a phone with the message has been conveniently cropped so that phone number itself isn't visible, nor the Hebrew lettering underneath it, although it is almost certainly the same source image. It might just have been cropped for space, or for another reason, but the fact that anyone can quickly Google the number and find out that it's been used for spam in the past and debunk the article suggests if not the hack, then a sub-editor might well have looked deeper into it.

The work done, the article goes on, first reporting bin Laden's latest predictable audio message, then reporting the similarly ludicrous claims that Jewish schools are recruiting extra security guards because of the rhetoric from one Hamas leader:

Meanwhile, Jewish schools across Britain are hiring squads of elite security guards after Hamas declared children to be legitimate targets.

Guards are sweeping classrooms for bombs and searching visitors for weapons.

The head of security at North West London Jewish Day School said: “Many of the security staff have served in armies around the world.”

What he in fact said was that as long as Palestinian children were being targeted that Jewish children were legitimate targets also. It was simply the familiar tit-for-tat nonsense which often erupts from leaders in times of war, and about as likely to be acted upon in this country as Kate Winslet giving a short, calm acceptance speech. It's only after all this information about the evil of Hamas and al-Qaida that the Sun finally reports what actually happened in Gaza yesterday:

The Israeli onslaught in Gaza continued yesterday as the Palestinian death toll in the 19-day war soared over the 1,000 mark.

More than 300 victims were children. Thirteen Israelis have died.

The comments on the story tell their own tale too:

This is truly scary stuff- there are Hamas terrorists in Britain drawing up hit lists of British citizens on British soil. Hamas are animals, and any of their representatives anywhere in the world deserve condemnation in the strongest possible terms.

Israel is fighting our war, a war against extremism and filthy civilian-targeting terrorist groups all over the world. The shocking truth is that nobody in the UK can see that, as they are too busy supporting the most 'fashionable' cause.

The story has now been twisted beyond simply domestic "hate-filled extremists" into Hamas terrorists. The Sun and Glen Jenvey should be congratulated on their spreading of such nonsense.

what do you expected? the UK is not for the British any more. look at what New Labor has done to that place!! I wouldn't live in the UK now if you paid me, and watch everyone leave!!!

We can be grateful for the small mercy that electropleb already has.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Letter writing "Islamic fanatics" disappear.

As Tim notes, less than a week after publishing claims that Alan Sugar was among a number of "top Jews" due to be targeted by "hate-filled extremists", the Sun's front page article of the 7th of January has mysteriously vanished from the web. As it seems unlikely that the paper will have willing accepted that it was a tissue of lies from start to finish, concocted by its journalists with the help of a supposed former spy called Glen Jenvey, either lawyers have already made contact with the paper or the Press Complaints Commission is presumably investigating and has requested it be taken down for the time being.

The damage though has already been done, as previously stated. Hundreds of sites either reproduced or slightly altered the Sun's story without so much as even doing a cursory check of the facts, which would have only involved visiting the site and looking for the thread in question, which was hardly difficult to find. Those stories will remain up, even when the original has disappeared down the memory hole.

Update: Jon Swaine, who wrote the Telegraph's follow-up report on the Sun's story, emails in:


I thought it might be helpful to point out that my take on the Sun's story for is top of the Google News list linked to in your latest post on this subject.

And while your main point - that barely anyone bothered to check the details before ripping off the Sun - clearly stands, in fact I did wait until contacting Sajid at the forum and my story does make clear that it was a call to start a 'polite letter-writing campaign', rather than anything more sinister.

Given that my story is top of the list you link to, and may be read first by your readers, I thought there might be a better way of illustrating your point - eg linking directly to the Mail, PA, Guardian etc versions of the story, which indeed faithlessly reproduce the Sun interpretation.

More than happy to oblige.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Glen Jenvey and the letter writing "Islamic fanatics".

(Cross-posted from my blog.)

Strangely for what was a front page "exclusive", the Sun has not so much as a single word to say in today's paper about yesterday's entirely concocted claim that Alan Sugar was on a "hit list" drawn up by "hate-filled Islamic extremists" on a "fanatics" website. Perhaps they'd already noted that the forum had produced a press release which denied the allegations in the strongest possible terms, or maybe they felt they'd already done enough, which they certainly had. Google News links to 174 separate news stories, all of which had their origin in the Sun's original, the vast majority without so much as questioning the Sun's claim or double-checking them. Churnalism, as always, had done its work.

Unfortunately for the Sun, their story has even further unravelled. Their own journalists in this instance seem to have only written the story up, or had it sold to them by Glen Jenvey, a so-called anti-terror expert and former spy quoted in yesterday's report as claiming that the result of the naming of certain high profile Jews on would result in 20 to 30 thugs going round their houses, at the least. Jenvey has an interesting past, and as Tim from Bloggerheads who has done most of the digging with some help from others notes, he's been involved in editing his own Wikipedia page, like all the finest egomaniacs, so nothing on there can be trusted in the slightest. Jenvey's page claims that he studied radical Islam at college, spied on Iran for the United States, and also infiltrated the Tamil Tigers. Again, trusting things on the internet is always unwise, but mikimoose in the comments on Tim's original post uncovered a perhaps more enlightening reason for Jenvey's interest in radical Islam:

Update 16/03/09: Following the latest from Tim have fully removed the claims involving Jenvey's non-existent daughter.

Jenvey is linked with another whole host of interesting characters, the online group Vigil, which claims to be monitoring and infiltrating jihadist forums online, both for surveillance purposes and, it seems, with a view to selling stories onto the national press. Vigil themselves deny that Jenvey is a member, although they admit that they have worked with him in the past. While as noted is by no means a radical forum, it has previously attracted extremist sentiment, and other sites have described it as being part of the so-called Londonistan set-up. For such an apparently sophisticated former spy meant to be monitoring incredibly dangerous individuals, Jenvey's exploits on were amateurish to say the least. While yesterday it was thought that "abuislam", the poster on the original thread that attempted to stir the letter writing campaign up into something it wasn't was a freelance journalist called Richard Tims, this appears to have a simple cover for Jenvey himself. Tims' only post on was to link to a website where you could sell stories, now defunct. Unfortunately for Jenvey, posts on other sites spamming point to the fact that the site was owned by none other than... Jenvey.

Tim has noted that "abuislam" had tried on a number of other occasions to troll, hoping to catch some bait, presumably to sell to the newspapers, but he failed on each and every occasion, not getting enough for a story to be weaved out of it. First he posted about the prospective release of "terrorist mastermind" Abu Izzadeen, without getting a single reply. Then he went a bit further, asking whether "marital rape" exists, which did spark discussion, but as you would expect, plenty of condemnation and some others in thread wondering about trolling. Next up was asking where the failed nail bomber Nicky Reilly might have been encouraged into carrying out a suicide attack, again without any luck. Probably most interestingly, especially regarding the Sun, he next tried to ask opinions on the Sun's "Help for Heroes" charity single, done in conjunction with the X Factor. One response was his reward, and that was to tell him that they didn't really discuss pop music. Perhaps this was his attempt to cash in on a previous Sun front page story, where the paper claimed that Omar Bakri Muhammad had ranted about the X Factor's involvement with the charity, suggesting that even watching it was committing a form of "muadaat". After failing with a thread on Prince Harry, he finally struck gold with his posts on letter-writing campaign thread.

The best that can be said for the Sun itself is that it was tricked by Jenvey in alerting them to the non-story in the first place, with them chomping at the bit to concoct from the little there was to go on in the thread a supposed "hate-filled Islamic extremist" threat to Alan Sugar and others, not bothering to investigate whether abuislam's interventions were too good to be true. At worst, the Sun has connived with a supposed anti-terror expert in completely fabricating a threat to some of the most prominent Jews in those country, doubtless causing them undue worry at the very least, all while further demonising British Muslims who were only planning to exercise their democratic right to peaceful protest. Whatever the truth, what has happened here is still a scandal; a newspaper caught red-handed, diverting attention away from the plight of the Palestinians in Gaza to completely spurious and invented threats, purely for its own profit and gain. This deserves to be investigated by the Press Complaints Commission at the very least, although is already considering its legal options. The paper might well yet curse doing business with Glen Jenvey.

Update: Fayruz in the comments on Bloggerheads says that Jenvey has no daughter and that the entire interview was invented by the Saviour Sect. I'm not removing the link as yet but just another thing to be kept in mind.

Update 16/03/09: As above, have fully removed claims involving Jenvey's non-existent daughter.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Letter writers turned into "Islamic fanatics".

(A slightly edited version of the post on my blog.)

The Sun today has an exclusive: TERROR TARGET SUGAR their front page shrieks, with EXTREMIST THREAT TO UK JEWS in a banner above it. The online version of the article, which has a rather less hysterical headline with "[H]ate hit list", spells it out pretty clearly:

FEARS grew last night that hate-filled Islamic extremists are drawing up a “hit list” of Britain’s leading Jews — bringing the Middle East conflict terrifyingly close to home.

TV’s The Apprentice boss Sir Alan Sugar and Amy Winehouse record producer Mark Ronson are among prominent names discussed on a fanatics’ website.


British anti-terror expert Glen Jenvey is convinced online forum Ummah is being used to prepare a deadly backlash against UK Jews.

Here is the thread on which the Sun article appears to be based on. It bares almost no resemblance whatsoever to the Sun or Jenvey's claims. The title of the topic is "[C]ompile a list of those who support Israel, started by saladin1970:

Asalamalykum, it seems that the time is right to compile a list of british people who support Israel

I read this post
"The names and addresses of Wealthy Zionist Jews can be found in the lists of sponsors and contributors of Zionist Charities. The names and addresses of Company Directors that work for Military Industrial Companies that support these tyrannical regimes can be found in publication like Dunn and Bradstreet"

It would be beneficial to start compiling a list so that we can write polite letters reminding them of the injustices of israel and to stop supporting israel

Ah yes, so what's being proposed on this "extremist" website is a deadly letter writing campaign. The thread itself was started on the 29th of December, and there wasn't exactly much headway made except in linking to lists on other websites. Suddenly, "abuislam" two days later bumped the thread up:

Have we got list of top jews and supporters yet we can target? can someone start posting names and addresses.

Saladin continues to link to a load of different pages, urging others on the forum to write to separate organisations to campaign against them, before abuislam suddenly pops up again and directly names some individuals:

Sir Alan Sugar

Alan Howard

David Miliband

Again, there's some further discussion but no indication of any protests that would involve anything other than private representation, until, wait for it, out comes abuislam at 7:31am yesterday with:

(QUOTE:It would be beneficial to start compiling a list so that we can write polite letters reminding them of the injustices of israel and to stop supporting israel ) polite will not work. Target them with Demo's out-side their Home's and Business hit and run demo's showing and exposing their war crimes in their support.

There where then no further posts until an admin posted on the Sun's story and locked the thread. seems to have already looked into who "abuislam" was and quickly found some rather quite surprising details:

I can confirm that the User "AbuIslam" who was posing as a Muslim on this forum is infact a freelance Journalist by the name of "Richard Tims" who registered on this forum to twist what the original Intent of this thread was for and to make Muslims look bad. Whether he works for the sun or not i dont know.

Abuislam Deliberated added comments on this thread which made is as if this thread was intended to cause harm to names that were mentioned

This has been confirmed from his IP address and Email addresses has he used on this forum and previous usernames

It's obviously impossible to confirm's claims, and a quick Google for Richard Tims doesn't turn up any obvious social networking profiles which would confirm there's a Richard Tims who describes himself as a hack, but on the surface the evidence does look rather damning; no one suggested anything other than a letter writing campaign or passing information on to other Muslim organisations for them to make representations, and very few actual names were mentioned until abuislam just happened to name some of the biggest used in the Sun's story, including Sugar and Miliband. Then, probably because even the Sun was going to have difficulties spinning a story out of absolutely nothing, abuislam finally suggested protests outside their homes and businesses, which even then suggests nothing other than unpleasant but within the law doorstep demonstrations.

There isn't even any out and out anti-semitism within the thread, although some will doubtless consider the targeting of individuals simply because they are Jews, regardless of their views on Israel, to be intimidating and most certainly counter-productive. As for the names the Sun mentions, Mark Ronson, Lord Levy and Anthony Julius were not so much as mentioned in the thread itself. They are however all entries on the Jewish Chronicle's list on the 100 most influential Jews, which was linked to on the thread.

Worth quoting is a section from's "press release", which attacks the Sun's article in no uncertain terms:

Examining the adjectives used in The Sun's article gives us an undeniable insight into their intent in publishing this piece; the words "hate", "hit list", "hate-filled", "extremists", "terrifyingly", "fanatics", and "deadly" all appear in the short article. The article mentions anti-Semitic attacks on Jews in Europe, quotes a statement from a figure in Al-Qaeda saying Muslims should attack targets wherever they can, alleges that Hamas call for the killing of Jewish children by saying Jewish people should be targeted anywhere and mentions attacks including an arson raid on a Synagogue. Discerning readers will be able to see this for what it is: a despicable attempt to paint law-abiding, Muslim peace activists - who are campaigning against Israel's actions - as criminal, murderous, anti-Semites, and terrorists. By using the language and imagery of hate and fear, they are instilling these feelings towards Muslims in the hearts and minds of their readers, and this has been an obvious feature of The Sun newspaper for many years.

Around the only accurate comment made in the article regarding the thread on the forum is that as Glen Jenvey says, it has in the past been used by extremists. Considering however that it is a wide open forum, where debate is not strenuously moderated, this is always likely, especially on the internet where intemperate and extreme comment are only a click away on any major forum. Some of those on it are quite clearly militant in their thinking: "kuffar" is used a number of times to describe those that aren't Muslims, alongside the usually illuminating remarks about the "illuminati" and "masons", and on the open press release thread one person has an Israeli flag combined with a swastika as an avatar, while others have avatars regarding the caliphate, potentially indicating support for Hizb-ut-Tahrir or other similar revivalist groupings, but none of this even begins to justify the Sun's twisting of the thread, or their outright scaremongering about the threats facing famous Jews in this country.

Some, like the press release, will further link this to the Sun's previous articles about Muslims, whether supposedly telling passengers on their buses to get off so they could pray or attacking the homes soldiers had looked at with the view to moving in as evidence of the paper's Islamophobia. To me it just looks like the Sun doing what it always does: twisting the truth as far as it can to create a "story" while not telling outright lies. That it will further inflame hatred against Muslims who were only proposing a letter writing campaign, and also scare Jewish individuals already concerned at the potential for attacks on them because of Israel's actions in Gaza is just an unfortunate by-product of the Sun's constant need to keep shifting copies and making money. Nothing else apart from that matters, and if other people get hurt, so be it.

Three in a row

It's Wednesday which means it's Private Eye day.

This week, though The Sun gets its hat-trick. First up, the News of the Screws may be the Sun's sister paper, but that doesn't stop it having a go...

Next up we return to a column by Julie Burchill...

And finally, the Eye has noticed how the Sun likes to know that the kiddies enjoy Christmas...

Monday, 5 January 2009

Blueprint for suicide

The Sun, along with most other national papers and a couple of London-centric papers, both online and paper versions, is in trouble with the PCC again.

Complainant Name: Press Complaints Commission

Clauses Noted: 5

Publication: The Sun website


The Press Complaints Commission has investigated whether an article published on The Sun website on 20th November 2008 headlined “Suicide by chainsaw” contained excessive detail about the method of suicide used in breach of Clause 5 (Intrusion into grief or shock) of the Code.

The Commission found a breach of the Code.

The article reported the suicide of a man, who had taken his own life using a chainsaw. It contained a long and graphic reference to the method of suicide. It set out the precise apparatus that had been constructed by the individual to enable his suicide.
The newspaper accepted that the detail in the online version was excessive. It was therefore removed immediately.

Decision: Upheld


Clause 5 (ii) was introduced specifically to prohibit the inclusion of detail that would act, in effect, as a blueprint for the method of a suicide. It is crucial that newspapers abide by its terms, in order to minimise the risk of copycat suicides. This means that, particularly in inquest reports (many of which will be provided by external agencies), care needs to be taken in the editing process to remove excessive detail.
On this occasion, the online article contained far too much detail and had not been sufficiently edited. It was a matter of concern that the newspaper had allowed the material to be published on its website. The Commission expected that the situation would not be repeated, as this was a clear breach of the Code.

The online article has, obviously, been altered now so there is no specific details in it anymore.

The explanation in the email notification also had this note that I couldn't find online

The Commission acknowledged that the information in the reports, all of which had been heard at the inquest into the man's death, had been provided to the newspapers by a news agency. However, this was not a sufficient defence. Indeed, this case demonstrated the importance of the editing process in removing excessive detail before publication - both online and offline.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

War on Traditional English Liberties

There's an article in today's Sun making the usual claims about the Human Rights Act causing the destruction of the UK as it only helps criminals. The article then turns into a complaint about English common law, which from a paper which is prides itself in its "patriotism" is an odd position to take.

For some unknown reason they have an interview with the father of the murdered model Sally Ann Bowman who says that last month's unanimous ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that the government's DNA database goes way too far, is a disaster for the UK and he supports a national DNA database.

It is the usual "victims rights" nonsense (which I have previously covered) - that people who have suffered from crime are the ones that should be listened to more than anyone, irrespective of what they say. I can only hope that her father makes the effort to read the judgement, especially paragraph 125
"[We] find that the blanket and indiscriminate nature of the powers of retention of the fingerprints, cellular samples and DNA profiles of persons suspected but not convicted of offences, fails to strike a fair balance between the competing public and private interests and that the respondent State has overstepped any acceptable margin of appreciation in this regard [and it] constitutes a disproportionate interference with the... right to respect for private life and cannot be regarded as necessary in a democratic society."
I also guess that her father is unaware of the government's numerous losses of personal data that have been exposed over the past 18 months.

The Sun further states that the murder was only caught because he was only on the register due to previously being in trouble with the police. If that is the case it simply shows how poor the police are in this country.

What's interesting is the it states that the Home Office "fears it may only be allowed to take DNA samples AFTER someone is convicted". Has the Sun had a tip-off about the government's response to the ruling? Is it simply fear-mongering? Or is it both?

It then goes on and quotes her father complaining about the fact that nine year olds can't be prosecuted. He blames it on the HRA, but it is actually to do with the fact that there is a minimum age at which anyone can be considered to be culpable of a crime. The age limit in England and Wales of 10 years old is the joint second lowest within Europe, only Scotland has a lower limit of eight years old. In any event, he should be grateful of the current limits because until 1998 there was a rebuttable presumption that anyone under 14 years was incapable of committing a crime by the doctrine of doli incapax. He must want anyone of any age to be liable of a criminal record...

In fact the only thing about this article that is correct is that it doesn't state that the ECtHR is part of the EU or that the HRA was one of its directives.