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Monday, April 20, 2009 

I love the smell of propaganda in the morning...

If it's on the Sun's front page on a Monday, it's probably propaganda. This seems to be a rule of thumb which is well worth following. Previous examples have included claims that al-Qaida fighters in Algeria had contracted the plague (they hadn't) and that Nimrod aircraft flying over Afghanistan had heard Taliban fighters talking in "Brummie and Yorkshire" accents (unconfirmed, possible). Today's, also authored by John Kay, is more easy to trace direct back to source: the MoD have the exact same story up on their website. It's also a hoary old tale which while possibly true, is equally likely not to be:

MIRACLE soldier Leon Wilson told last night how a high-velocity Taliban bullet hit his helmet and missed his head by two millimetres — the thickness of a beer mat.

The Sun further embellishes the story by adding some extraneous detail:

Travelling at 1,000 metres a second, the bullet pierced the left side of his combat helmet, ripped through a forehead pad inside and exited the front without touching him.

At 1,000 metres a second! Not 999 metres a second, or 1,001 metres a second, but an exact 1,000! That's impressive!

A typical tale of derring-do follows on, tedious in its evocation of such heroism and bravery. There are two things that do cast a dampener on the story though.

Firstly, if we are to believe this isn't just an MoD stunt, desperate for some good news from Afghanistan, it isn't as rare as is being made out. Only last July a highly similar story was reported, without apparent MoD involvement, the soldier in that example being David Poderis, also shot through the helmet without being harmed. Secondly, another previous case, reported back in 2003 in Iraq, involving a soldier supposedly shot four times in the helmet and surviving, subsequently turned out to be a prank or hoax, depending on which you prefer, the Sun proudly reporting the soldiers' ingenuity. The author? One John Kay. Is history repeating itself? You decide...

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The newspaper is a terrible, terrible mess of nonsense. Have you seen the Gaunt/Cameron launch of the Sun radio show?

*vomit*

Considering I wrote the Sun Lies post on it, I might just have done ;)

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