Saturday 31 October 2009


I thought that with the undeniable triumph of Facebook as social networking site of choice for almost everyone, with the exception perhaps of bands who favour MurdochSpace and various media luvvies and others who like Twitter that the Sun had put a lid on its Facebook-bashing. They couldn't apparently resist the temptation to splash today though with "DISGRACEBOOK", because Facebook isn't vetting every single profile on the site:

Andrea, 39, said: "It is time somebody introduced controls which stop people putting up false information. The people who run Facebook have a responsibility."

Well no, they don't. They provide a service. If you somehow think you can stop people putting up "false information" without infringing the privacy of everyone, you haven't thought it through clearly. The Sun for its part, without mentioning MySpace (prop. R Murdoch), drops hardly the most subtle of hints with the bringing up of the Internet Watch Foundation:

Facebook and Twitter are the only major social networking sites which are not members of the Internet Watch Foundation.

Friday 30 October 2009

Protecting the kids

It's all about the kids, isn't it. Drugs, booze, paedos, gangs. Got to protect the kids.

Well football is no different. Never mind on the pitch, off it tempers can flare and if you dare to just say the words "it's only a game", well, you only have yourself to blame.

So when a sixteen year old lad threw his beachball on to the pitch (eh?) and deflected the official ball into the goal, which the ref let stand, and so lost Liverpool the game, the Sun in its report did the decent thing...

Liverpool fans accused him of wrecking their Premier League title dreams.

The Sun knows the lad's identity - but is keeping it concealed to protect him.

A Liverpool badge is in the upstairs window of his family's smart semi-detached home.

Good old Sun, looking after the kids. OK, so they said about the Liverpool badge in his upstairs window but Liverpool's hardly a small place and Liverpool has a dedicated following so it's fair to presume there are loads of bedroom windows with the same badge on.

After doing the decent thing, the Sun then go and shoot themselves in the foot after only five days...

Today, Callum Campbell, 16, who lives streets away from the Anfield home of his heroes, claimed he had received death threats from other fans.

In one neat sentence they give his name and the fact that he lives close to Anfield and the very reason why they should still not reveal his identity.

Also makes you wonder if they new his name all along.

Via HallucigeniaUK

Mackenzie is sensitive no longer.

Kelvin Mackenzie makes an appearance in Private Eye 1248 too.

It seems that some words, in Kelvin's mind, are now perfectly acceptable on the BBC that weren't not so long ago...

Wednesday 28 October 2009

Goodbye George

After nothing in Private Eye's Street of Shame for a couple of issues, the latest issue, 1248 has four entries for the Sun, although being strict, only one is suitable for this blog.

And how suitable that it is the out-going political editor, George Pascoe-Watson, who should get one last mention on these pages...

An apology to Tom Watson

The Sun has apologised to Labour MP Tom Watson in the high court today and agreed to pay substantial damages after it ran articles earlier this year claiming he was involved in a plot to smear the Conservatives.

Lawyers for Sun publisher News Group Newspapers, a subsidiary of News International, said today that the paper accepted the stories were untrue. The Sun has agreed to pay Watson's legal costs and "a substantial sum" in damages.

Watson, a former minister who serves on the Commons culture, media and sport select committee, was not in court today, but his solicitors, Carter-Ruck, confirmed the settlement.

Those words come from the Guardian because you won't find anything about it in the Sun as...
It is understood that the paper has not agreed to print an apology, however. News International, the Sun's parent company, was not immediately available for comment.

Not available for immediate comment? Maybe we'll hear something in a day or two then...

via TabloidWatch

Monday 26 October 2009

Yet more lies about "evil terrorists".

Last week the Sun had to apologise to Abdul Muneem Patel for calling him an "evil terrorist" and claiming that he had been involved in the liquid explosives plot. He had in fact been found guilty of having a document which could be useful to terrorists, which the judge accepted he had unknowingly kept for a friend of his father's. The judge also stated specifically that Patel was not a radicalised or politicised Islamist, but this didn't stop the Sun from telling Patel's neighbours a pack of lies about his supposed secret terrorist past.

As could have been expected, the Sun has learnt absolutely nothing from having to print such a humiliating apology. You might have thought they might have waited a little longer though to repeat almost exactly the same exercise, but obviously not. This time the paper is outraged that

THREE convicted terrorists who plotted to kidnap and behead a British Muslim soldier have been freed early from jail.

Hamid Elasmar, 46, Zahoor Iqbal, 32, and Mohammed Irfan, 33, were all caged less than two years ago.

Except these three weren't convicted of plotting to kidnap and behead a British Muslim soldier, as a few minutes of fact checking would have made clear. All three were in fact involved with the plot's ringleader, Parviz Khan, but in smuggling equipment to fighters in Pakistan. The prosecutors accepted that Iqbal and Irfan had nothing to do with the beheading plot, while Elasmar's house was used for discussing the plot, although whether Elasmar was there at the time or not is unclear; considering he received the most lenient sentence of the three one would suspect he wasn't. The Sun also has it completely wrong on Khan supposedly telling Elasmar that "we'll cut it off like you cut a pig"; Khan was in fact talking to Basiru Gassama, already released and presumably deported.

The Sun being the Sun, it couldn't just leave it at that. No, it had to include a leader comment on its completely wrong article:

HOW is it possible that three terrorists who planned to behead a squaddie have been freed within two years?

Err, because they didn't plan to behead a squaddie?

Simple: They all behaved themselves in prison.

Oh, right, that must be it.

The breathtaking evil of the crime they plotted counted for nothing.

Or it counted for nothing because they weren't involved in the "breathtaking evil" of the crime?

Good behaviour sprung them early from already derisory sentences. One was released in only five months, to a life on housing benefits.

Our justice system is a laughing stock.

Only the Sun could call a sentence of seven years "derisory", which is what Iqbal received. It might be derisory if Iqbal had been convicted of plotting to beheading a soldier, but he wasn't. The real laughing stock here should be a so called newspaper that either can't or won't do the very basics of actual journalism, checking facts. Anyone up for complaining to the Press Complaints Commission?

Thursday 22 October 2009

Cat Girl

Today's Sun has an article about a Chinese girl* who they say has baffled doctors by becoming covered with body hair.

I think that the likely explanation is that she's suffering from Hirsutism, although it is a symptom of something else, including the following:
In any event, there's a good chance of her condition being explained.

* I don't think that the picture that is used of one of her...

Tuesday 20 October 2009

Touched by the hand of Allah

Monday's Sun had an article which claims that some kiddie in southern Russia has had verses of the Qur`an appear on his skin.

At first glance you could mistake it for an Islamic version of Stigmata, but the people over on the Bad Science Forum suggest that it could be dermographia: scratching writing on the skin which leads to rashes.

They also suggest that the marks would disappear if the child was taken into care and the doctors should look into who's taking care of the child during the times that the lesions appear, so possibly implying M√ľnchausen syndrome by proxy.

Monday 19 October 2009

Jesus lives! (in IKEA furniture)

I was going to go through this article in the Sun about "'face of Jesus'" - yes, even the Sun is disbelieving for once, so hopefully they've read my previous posts on pareidolia - but Orac from Respectful Insolence has done the job for me.

Saturday 3 October 2009

She's Hearing Voices

Earlier this week the Sun had an article in which some woman claims to hear voices in a piece of video footage she's taken.

The video can be played about half-way down the article. I won't mention what she says she thinks it is because I don't want to give suggestions.

My view is that it's just static - and so would be simply another example of pareidolia: seeing/hearing things in random patterns - but I'd be interested in what other people think it is and what they hear...

Friday 2 October 2009

The misleading has begun already.

Splashed across yesterday's Sun front page were those ordinary voters who like the paper had decided that Labour's lost it. Alongside those who would blame the government if it rains was one Ros Altmann, a former adviser to Tony Blair and now a governor at the LSE. The Sun's report of her comments was thus:

I thought we had a chance to make a difference. But Brown wanted people to spend, spend, spend and thought that will generate growth.

That is not the way economics work. We needed radical change. But we got radical complications. We have the world's lowest state pension, but also the most complex. I am hopeful for David Cameron. I don't think he can make a worse mess of pensions. I can see why The Sun supports him.

Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the Tories, but Hugh Muir in the Grauniad Diary has more:

For sure, the economist has strong criticism of the pensions and economics polices pursued by Gordon. But there it ends. "What I said to them in answer to the specific question: 'Do I now support the Tories?' was 'No'," she tells us. "I said I don't know what their policies are so I can't support them. I said I can understand that some people no longer support Labour. There has been a bit of poetic licence here." Such is war.

And as could have been predicted, David Cameron today gives the paper an interview, unveiling 10 pledges, all naturally Sun-pleasing and many also naturally counter-productive or just wrong-headed. Reassessing every person on incapacity benefit? Stupidly wasteful in both time and cost terms. Replacing the Human Rights Act with a piss-poor "British" bill of rights substitute when the Tories almost certainly won't withdraw from the European Convention of Human Rights will just delay justice. And as for reforming inheritance tax to "encourage saving", words fail me. One new one, although not included on the 10 pledges itself, is that Cameron will institute a "war cabinet" on Afghanistan should the Tories come to power, something demanded by the Sun only a few weeks back. It doesn't seem to matter that such a cabinet would be pointless when it's the military and not the politicians who are helming the fighting, but then the Sun has always loved symbolism far more than well thought out and implementable strategy.