Thursday, August 31, 2006 

Violently criminalising the "deviants".

Jane Longhurst's mother has got her wish. After a two-year long campaign and a government consultation, "violent" pornography is to be made illegal to have in your possession.

Before examining exactly what the government intends to criminalise, it's worth remembering the victim in this. Jane Longhurst, a 31-year-old music teacher at a school for children with special needs was killed by Graham Coutts, a 35-year-old who had an obsession with asphyxiation during sex. This obsession was allegedly exacerbated by his visits to pornographic websites which featured simulated necrophilia and strangulation. Former girlfriends testified that he had performed asphyxiation on them during sex, while he had told one that he feared that he would end up killing someone.

Coutts has always claimed that he accidentally killed Longhurst during consensual sex. Last month the House of Lords agreed that the jury should have been given the option of convicting him for manslaughter rather than murder. The Crown Prosecution Service is applying for a retrial. Coutts had kept Longhurst's body in a rented unit in Brighton, visiting 10 times before eventually dumping her corpse in a field, setting it alight. Found in the unit was a condom containing traces of Coutts' semen, as well as Longhurst's DNA. This led to it being claimed that Coutts had sex with her body after her death, although he has always denied this and it has not been proved.

The whole issue comes down to whether Coutts was further influenced by the material that he used on the internet. There's very little to suggest that he was. While the internet has undoubtedly made access to extreme pornographic material far easier, there's everything to suggest that Coutts had already carried out his fantasies on past girlfriends in a consensual situation, and that for him this was just a part of his normal sex life. Whether he got carried away with Longhurst, or set out to fulfil his ultimate fantasy we may never know. The government itself admitted in the first consultation document that the link between such pornography that Coutts' used and violent crime had not been established. "We recognise that accessing such material does not necessarily cause criminal activity," it said. "We consider the moral and public protection case against allowing this kind of material sufficiently strong."

So it has proved. 50,000 people, mainly coming from campaigning in the tabloids, signed a petition calling for violent pornography to be outlawed. Those who actually responded to the consultation document that the government published on its website were by far in favour of the current law situation remaining unchanged. 223 individuals, compared to 90 who replied said there should be no change. This was reversed when it came to groups who responded, with 53 calling for such material to be banned, with 18 backing no change. Even so, this still left the "no" camp with a majority of 98.

Away from the rather vague BBC reports, this is what the government plans to make illegal:

Content of Material
12. The material covered by the offence would be:
(i) intercourse or oral sex with an animal; and
(ii) sexual interference with a human corpse, as proposed in the consultation document.

We have considered the point raised by some respondents that
these categories do not exactly mirror the criminal offences set out in the Sexual Offences Act 2003, which refer to penetration, but have concluded that the broader categories should remain.

13. We have reconsidered the remaining categories set out in the consultation:
(i) serious violence in a sexual context, and
(ii) serious sexual violence.

We have concluded that the reference to “in a sexual context” caused confusion and was unnecessary in view of the pornography threshold described above. We therefore propose a single category of serious violence.

14. We have considered the violence threshold, which was originally proposed at GBH level, and concluded that the test was not sufficiently precise, would be difficult to apply and would draw in material which would not pass the obscenity threshold. We have concluded that the offence should apply to images of acts that appear to be life threatening or are likely to result in serious, disabling injury. Again, it would be for the prosecution to show that the material fell into this category. We would consider giving non-statutory guidance on the type of injury which we consider would fall within this category.

15. In summary, material would need to be:
(a) pornographic
(b) explicit
(c) real or appears to be real act (these would be objective tests for the jury)

16. It would cover:
(i) serious violence*
(ii) intercourse or oral sex with an animal
(iii) sexual interference with a human corpse
*by serious violence we mean appears to be life threatening or likely to result in serious, disabling injury.

The government has thankfully decided that the violence threshold has to be above GBH, as GBH has in the past been defined as "breaking of the skin". GBH would have meant that sadomasochist pornography would almost certainly have been made illegal, as would spanking material, which often involves welts being made on the skin.

Even so, the legislation as it is risks criminalising a distinct minority of what some would consider "sexual deviants". For those who practice erotic asphyxiation, it's quite possible that if they decided to take photographs or record themselves while doing it that they would be breaking the law. While it would be up to a jury to decide, the possibility is always there that something that is taking place between two adults in the privacy of their own bedrooms could be criminalised. Choking during sex can certainly appear to be life threatening or likely to result in serious injury, especially if taken too far. This isn't just a minority pornographic pursuit/interest either; "gonzo" pornography often features the male actor choking the female star during sex. It may be deeply unpleasant, it may be dangerous, but it's taking place in what is a safe, controlled, consensual environment. The sex industry in America is remarkably self-regulating, and takes safety, especially HIV/AIDS protection incredibly seriously. The BBFC cuts such practices from all R18 submissions, but the DVDs that are available to download from the internet from American websites could fall foul of this law.

The most troubling thing though is just what could be made illegal if it was taking place in a sexual environment rather than in say, a comedy or art film. Frank Fisher on Comment is Free identifies Hitchcock's Frenzy as featuring asphyxiation that could fall foul of this legislation. The Channel 4 comedy Peep Show contains an episode in which the Mark character ends up having sex with a teenage goth, who starts to choke him half way through, to his terror. It looks real, and could potentially be considered pornographic or explicit. Any film or work that has a BBFC certificate is to be exempt from prosecution, but doesn't this set up a double standard? Why should we persecute those who have different sexual interests who have as much right to see what they enjoy going on as anyone else? Why is asphyxiation in pornographic material seen as more dangerous than asphyxiation in "art" films?

The government is on safer ground on the banning of bestiality, but even here there are dangers. Many such examples of bestiality are often short clips, which are considered humourous. There's a lot of people out there with these who could be potentially prosecuted. One such video that was doing the rounds on forums last year was a clip of a man who died after receiving anal sex from a horse; not the most enlightening, educational or tasteful entertainment available, but should having such a video lead to someone facing imprisonment? The Good Old Naughty Days, a collection of silent pornographic vignettes, one featuring bestiality, was passed uncut by the BBFC with an R18 certificate. What makes old porn featuring sex with animals more acceptable than more modern examples?

The banning of necrophilia faces similar problems. While there is no such thing as real "snuff movies" (the closest thing to real snuff is the beheading propaganda videos released by the likes of al-Qaida in Iraq), or real necrophilia videos, sites such as necrobabes are easily available and feature men having sex with women who are made to look dead. Could a jury potentially view such material as real?

With there being no evidence that viewing such pornography leads to any more likelihood that someone will commit a crime, why on earth has the government gone along with what is the pet project of radical feminists who think all women in pornography are being exploited, censorship groups such as Mediawatch, which grew out of the ashes of Mary Whitehouse's old pressure organisation, and the ever reactionary plod? The only answer must be that it'll help to appease a certain amount of people and the press who are otherwise pissed off with the government, i.e. the Daily Mail, Sun etc.

It seems like a very British disease, and it is. No other European country has such a interest in criminalising minority sexual pursuits. Only Germany has what could be considered a more draconian censorship body than ours. We've had to deal with moral panics such as this before: one was over "video nasties" with the advent of the home video recorder. There was another in the aftermath of the James Bulger case, despite there being no evidence that his killers were influenced in any way by horror films, or even seen them. The current panic does not have such wide ramifications, but it will still do very little to nothing to stop what happened to Jane Longhurst from happening to someone else. I don't doubt Mrs Longhurst's sincerity and belief that making this material illegal might save further lives, but she ought to consider the likelihood of men and women having their lives ruined by draconian legislation which makes their "kinks" illegal to view. She should also wonder whether she is being used by those who want to remove the freedoms of the wider public to watch they want to, something which the intolerant likes of John Beyer has wanted for a long time.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006 

Blair or bust.

It's almost possible to feel slightly sorry for Tony Blair. Going from the most loved, respected and impressive politician of his generation to being the most loathed, detested and untrusted within 10 years must be difficult to adjust to. Long gone are the now hilarious in retrospect "Cool Britannia" parties at 10 Downing Street, where hand-picked celebs all worshipped at the feet of the king of spin, replaced instead with a bunker mentality, advised only by his remaining friends and allies.

These friends and allies, exemplified by the likes of Charles Falconer, chief crony and unelected to boot,, seem to be the only ones left in the country that can't see how badly Blair needs to go immediately, not in a few months, not in a year, but right now. It is only they that are still convinced by his messianic complex, that only he can solve the problems of the world at large. That Blair has had next to no influence on Bush administration despite riding their coat-tails and in effect turning our foreign policy over to the hawks in the Pentagon doesn't stop them from continuing to claim that he must be the one who goes to the Middle East to bang heads together. The possibilities of a peace settlement any time soon between Israel and Palestine are now laughable, thanks in part to Blair and Bush's insistence that Israel be given time to destroy Hizbullah, while hundreds of innocents died. As it has turned out, the Israeli public appears to have decided that they didn't hit Lebanon hard enough. This is coupled with the abduction of countless Hamas and Palestinian authority members by Israel, which only underlines the contempt the Israelis feel for democracy that leads in their eyes to terrorist groups gaining more power.

Falconer's other wheeze is that only Tony can save this country from evil terrorists dedicated to destroying our loving and peaceful way of life. That Blair was on holiday and didn't feel the need to return earlier this month at the height of the hysteria over the hyped out of all proportion terror plot should be enough to destroy this mendacious argument, but there's something else worth acknowledging also. Only 1% believe the country is safer after Blair's wars on Afghanistan and Iraq, surely the biggest indictment of the man and his supposed power in dealing with the terrorist threat. Even if you don't think that Blair's decision to needlessly join the illegal war on Iraq directly led to the 7/7 attacks, it's clear that many believe that he has done nothing to help the situation. Rather, he's ever more convinced of his righteousness in his foreign policy. His "arcs of extremism" speech was frightening in how close in proximity it was to Bush's rants about "Islamic fascists". His desire to lump all nominally "extremist" Islamic organisations together as one homogeneous entity, different aims and all, as well as the refusal to directly contact either Syria or Iran during the Israel-Lebanon-Hizbullah war ought to show that his foreign policy is not just wrong and counter-productive, it's downright dangerous.

Even Tessa Jowell, who has in the past suggested she'd throw herself under a bus to protect her saviour Tony, recognises there are doubts about Blair's continued leadership, but these are laughably only in the "Westminster village". More notable is the nugget that nearly all the closest Blair allies have either resigned in the past or been caught in scandals. Stephen Byers, or as more popularly known, Byers Byers Pants on Fires, sounds off first to Sunday Telegraph that inheritance tax should be scrapped so that Middle England has a reason to love Tony, then uses the Murdoch press to suggest that Gordon Brown has to use the 2007 spending review to cement the New Labour legacy. Alan Milburn, who resigned to spend more time with his family and at the same time join the board of a company with a direct interest in the NHS, the department he previously ran, has refused to deny that he would run for the leadership once Blair does finally go. No one cares any longer what David Blunkett thinks, but he doubtless would like Blair or one of his allies to become leader, only because that'd be the only chance he has of returning to the government for a third time.

The longer Blair stays, the more enemies he creates. Charles Clarke continues to skulk in the background, embittered by his removal as Home Secretary. Michael Meacher, the former environment minister has since emerged as one of the darlings of the parliamentary left. Clare Short, who left it far too late to resign over Iraq, has similar qualities. None of these could on their own force Blair to consider his future, but together and with other Labour MPs they could almost certainly force something approaching a coup. That they haven't, and that the party seems disinclined to do anything, despite reports in the Grauniad this morning that something finally seems to be happening, means that they will just as culpable if it ends up with David Cameron winning the next election.

The biggest wimp of all though has been Gordon Brown. For a man who has waited so long, who has plotted for so long, who has been betrayed time and again, he seems remarkably content to let Blair completely wreck the Labour party. As Polly Toynbee has pointed out, the satisfaction rating with Blair is half that of Thatcher's when she was forced to leave Downing Stret in tears. Getting rid of Blair would be incredibly popular in the country, but the worry for Brown must be that the Blairite ultras and the Tories would combine together to say that the left was regaining the upper hand in the party. Utter bollocks, obviously, but you can bet your money that the Daily Mail and Sun would go along with it.

Blair himself should have resigned over the death of David Kelly. He should have resigned over the absence of WMD in Iraq. He should resign over the disaster that Iraq has become. He should resign over the loans for peerages scandal. If he won't go now, he has to be forced to.

Labour then is faced with a choice. It can let Blair to continue in his delusion that only he can solve Britain and the world's problems single handedly, or they can get rid of him. They have it in their power to do so. The longer this continues, the more the hatred for Blair, and as a result, Labour, grows. This would not be the equivalent of the Tories getting rid of Thatcher; the party has far longer to re-establish itself with the electorate, with a leader and new policies that actually do something other than disillusion the party's core support. Unless it happens now, we may face another 18 years of Tory hell, and you can rest assured that however bad New Labour has been, the other lot will be worse.

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That New York Times article.

You've probably already read it elsewhere, but the New York Times article on the alleged terror plot is available in full on Pickled Politics.

The most interesting thing is that the article suggests the liquid explosives were HMTD, not TATP as we’ve been led to believe by the press over here, although they are both made with similar ingredients. The arrested 17-year-old was charged with having a book on explosives. Wikipedia suggests that there are recipes for creating HMTD in the Anarchist’s Cookbook, that incredibly inaccurate and freely available manuscript. This may be a major leap, but that it’s possible they’re charging him with having that seems utterly ludicrous.

In short, the government yet again hyped it out off all proportion. They’d been watching these men for months. They knew actually what they were doing, or were planning to do. There’s widespread agreement that it would have been near impossible for them to mix these chemicals and create a bomb once aboard an aircraft. Some of them didn’t have passports. It seems incredibly likely the supposed ringleader in Pakistan has been tortured, hence the almost laughable claims of top-level al-Qaida involvement, and to top it all, we have to read the reality about it from an American newspaper, with blogs having to do the leg work in getting hold of a copy. Long live freedom!

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006 

Scum-watch: Sickening speculation.

Message to the media: The only thing from which the press should save me is the eternal lies about my person, the false interpretations, the we-know-better mentality and the lack of respect toward me.

A more than reasonable request from Natascha Kampusch. After spending 8 years with only the company of her kidnapper for comfort, you'd think that the media would be kind enough to let her try to rebuild her life in peace. No such luck.

First up then we have the Daily Mail, with quite possibly the most sickening and misleading front page they have had in a long time. Not content with trying to sell newspapers through lurid voyeurism, with the picture of her as a 10-year-old and not one taken after her escape, they completely distort her statement. She repeats twice that she doesn't want intimate matters to be discussed, as they are quite rightly nothing to do with anyone other than her and those who will be treating her.

Far from acknowledging that the trauma of escaping and readjusting to normal life is likely to be even more stressful than being captured in the first place, the Sun similarly decides to freely speculate and lie through its teeth. The first paragraph sets the tone for the rest of the article:

SEX-slave schoolgirl Natascha Kampusch told for the first time yesterday about her eight years in a pervert’s cellar — and stunned the world by insisting it was not all bad.

The article then goes on to speculate that she's pregnant, despite also quoting her insistence that intimate matters stay private.

As so often happens, what was once satire eventually becomes reality. In the Brass Eye paedophilia special which attacked the hysteria surrounding media coverage of paedophilia, a section of the show has the presenter asking one of the fictional paedophile's victims to demonstrate his perversions; she does so, while Chris Morris narrates with "Someone who agrees to rub their breasts on television is undoubtedly inexcusably disturbed". This is exactly what the tabloids are doing today, slavering, salivating, waiting for all the horrible details to be told to them, only for their victim to refuse to do so. This leaves them with the only other option in the circumstances: make it up instead and speculate wildly. That they're using the victim as an object almost as much as the original kidnapper did doesn't seem to make them any less ashamed of their actions.

Adding insult to injury, the Sun also dedicates part of its leader column to the unfortunate Natascha:
THE horror of being kidnapped for eight years does terrible things to the mind.

Natascha Kampusch describing captivity as almost a blessing is extraordinary.

The 18-year-old is grateful for not mixing with a bad crowd or experimenting with fags and booze.

Natascha’s comments show her journey back to reality will be a long, difficult process.

We wish her well every step of the way.

And if you'd like to change your mind about telling the world the horrible minute details of your horrendous experience, News International will be there to pay you a huge amount of money and use your pain for sales purposes.

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Monday, August 28, 2006 

Scum-watch: Criminalising an entire generation.

Put it down to the silly season, or there just being a general drought of news over the weekend until the bombs in Turkey late last night, but some of today's papers, especially the Sun, seem to be obsessed with crime.

The Daily Mail wails about how John Reid has supposedly ordered magistrates to free suspects on electronic tags rather send them to jail, presumably because of the overcrowding crisis. That it's been the screaming leader columns of the likes of the Mail than have considerably contributed to the prisons being overcrowded is naturally not worthy of a mention. Over in the Mirror, Tony Parsehole, sorry, Parsons, calls for the return of the death penalty for the killer(s) of Peter Woodhams. This isn't so that there's a possible deterrent even worse than at least a 15-year stretch in a stinking prison, but seemingly because a death seems to deserve another death in return. The revenge mechanism may be strong, but what difference would it make? Is taking another life justifiable in any circumstances? Parsons doesn't bother to explain, but then that might be taxing for the male Glenda Slagg.

The Times leads with the comments of the head of the crown prosecution service, Ken McDonald, who's spoken out to say that "elitist attitudes had helped to break the bond of trust between the public and the criminal justice system." No Ken, it's been the likes of the Sun and the Daily Mail screaming that the victims of crime are being failed, along with the appeasement of this point of view by the Labour government, which hasn't helped matters by being thoroughly incompetent, i.e. over the foreign prisoners scandal. When there was an outcry over the length of the sentence given to the paedophile Craig Sweeney, the judges got the blame, when the fault was entirely with the government.

It's no surprise that there has been something of a breakdown in trust in the criminal justice system. The reason for this has not been the justice system itself, which has been shown to be getting progressively more punitive and harsh when sentencing offenders, but with the governments and the "popular" press. This very Labour government has directly said that it intends to rebalance the "criminal justice system in favour of the victim". That they have said this repeatedly might be why a recent opinion poll, quoted by the Times, suggests that only 36% are confident that it satisfies the needs of victims. If the government suggests it's going to do something about it because this is what's happening, a certain amount are going to believe it, whether there's a crisis in confidence over trust with this government or not. This has been coupled with the increase in "campaigns" in the tabloid press, likely linked to decreasing circulation and the descent into hysteria which seems to have become inexorable.

The article goes on:

Mr Macdonald said that the old-fashioned idea that thecriminal justice system sits above the public and consists of principles and practices beyond popular influence or argument was “elitist and obscurantist”.

Who believes that? It's not old-fashioned, it's entirely untrue. How can the criminal justice system sit above the public when the public are directly involved in it, i.e. in jury trials. The fact of the matter is that the criminal justice system is now being undermined not by the judges and lawyers, but by the government which increasingly interferes, such as the sentencing guidelines in the case of Craig Sweeney.

He added: “If people, including victims, feel they cannot secure justice through the courts, we are entering dangerous territory”.

Which brings us on today's Sun. While later editions splashed on the explosions in Turkey, earlier editions screamed "BANG UP THE GANGS".

TODAY The Sun declares WAR on gangs of young savages terrorising Britain’s streets.

We are demanding a crackdown on behalf of decent, law-abiding families — after a boy of 16 became the latest victim killed.

Glen Corner was knifed to death on his birthday less than a week after brave dad Peter Woodhams, 22, was shot dead.

Outraged locals in South Shields, Tyneside, said cops IGNORED warnings that thugs had made their neighbourhood a no-go zone.

Like all deaths, Glen Corner's is undoubtedly a tragedy. However, there has no been direct link between his death and that of gangs operating in the area. According to the Daily Mirror, the attack came after an argument over a stolen mobile phone. It's only been casually linked in with the fact that the area has had alleged problems with anti-social behaviour.

The case of Peter Woodhams seems entirely different. Woodhams was murdered seemingly by the same gang that had attacked him 6 months previously, an act of violence that was according to his family not properly investigated by the police. The plod and IPCC are now both reviewing the matter. The only link between the two separate incidents is that gangs of youths may have been however tenuously involved. The Sun's use of Glen Corner's image for their campaign is similar to the way they jumped on the death of Mary-Ann Leneghan to further their own political agenda.

What does the Sun want then? Their demands are succinct yet vague:

Tony Blair says there are 6,000 more cops now than when he came to power — but where are they? As hoodlum gangs rampage unchecked across the country, The Sun is demanding:

MORE cops on the beat to make our streets safe.

TOUGHER sentences for violent yobs — with gangs locked up.

PRESSURE to be put on parents by the Government to raise decent kids.

We start then with hoary old chestnut about how police out on the beat make the streets safer. That there's a body of evidence that suggests that people actually start to believe that there's more crime than there actually is when there's police on the streets doesn't enter in to the Sun's equation; neither does the fact that police walking the beat means that there are less to actually attend to emergency situations: a bloke in a helmet walking around can only run so fast. The only plus which more police wandering around bring is that they do have a certain deterrent effect, but even that is disputed.

Tougher sentences for violent yobs? Fine, why the hell not? I thought we had them already, and that the prison overcrowding situation rather proved that, but obviously not. As for gangs to be locked up, how exactly do you go about doing that? Does the Sun want the police to just arrest any group of young people that happens to be standing on street corners? Does the thought not enter the heads of those in Wapping that locking up young people in young offender institutions isn't the greatest idea in the world?

Pressure to be put on parents suffers from a similar problem. Just how exactly does the government force parents to bring their children up "right"? Isn't the Sun one of the newspapers that complains about the "nanny state"? Why yes, of course it is, but in this way the Sun gets to bash the government for not doing enough to tackle problem. It's damned if it does and it's damned if it doesn't. Then again, the Sun editor isn't the greatest role model for children anyway, unless battering your husband teaches them vital lessons of how women can be stronger than men.

It goes on:

We also pledge to act if YOUR neighbourhood is plagued by the gangs. If the police won’t do anything we want to know.

Tell us the names of the ringleaders, where they live or simply where they hang out. We will put pressure on the police and Government to keep their vow to be tough on crime.

You can also shop the mums and dads of tearaways. We will name and shame the worst.

If in doubt, turn to the name and shame. It worked so well over paedophiles! It was also so successful in this year's earlier campaign against "soft judges" that it was abandoned after about a month. Again, the Sun ignores yet more evidence that naming and shaming does more harm than good, emphasised by the fact that in some areas ASBOs are becoming badges of honour. The paper also doesn't explain how it's going to know for a fact that the people it names and shames are actually guilty of any crime, but then vigilante action has never been about justice, more about making a point, which is exactly what the Sun is doing. That entirely innocent people may have their lives ruined by the very lowest form of journalism doesn't matter, as long as some thoroughly nasty people get their just desserts.

Our campaign follows a shocking eight per cent rise in street crime — with the use of knives rocketing by a terrifying 73 per cent.

The 73% figure involves muggings in which a knife was used. Other statistics from the same survey showed that murders involving knives has actually held steady over the last ten years. Violence with knives had also peaked in 1995, and the study stresses that the long-term trend is downward. This is no comfort to those attacked by thugs with knives, but it's worth seeing the bigger picture.

The whole Sun campaign though reflects something much more sinister: the criminalisation of young people as a whole. In another Sun article, a police officer gives the game away:

Alan Gordon, vice-chairman of the Police Federation, said officers had to choose which incidents to investigate.

He said: “It is frustrating for the public when you have gangs of youths who congregate and are intimidating.

“Unfortunately, until they commit an offence there’s little the police can do.

Yes, that's the problem isn't it? Why won't they break the law so we can arrest the bastards? That the vast majority of young people who do congregate on street corners or in bus shelters aren't doing anyone any harm doesn't seem to matter, but it's through the constant repetition of the horror stories about gangs and anti-social behaviour that lead to people of all ages fearing groups of youths. A lot may be intimidating, but they're probably not intending to be. The continuous tabloid campaigns against "yobs" have in effect meant that they are seen as criminals or even enemies within. This might not happen if there was something for kids to actually do in their neighbourhoods other than just meet together, but for many they'd rather that young people just didn't exist than do something about it, and the Sun's increasingly hysterical campaigns do nothing but encourage yet more people to be fearful rather than constructive. This was to an extent what David Cameron was getting at when he made his "hug-a-hoodie" speech, that young people quite rightly feel marginalised, that they seek solace through groups and what some might see as menacing or concealing clothing.

There is one voice of sanity, but only one, in the whole of the Sun's coverage today:

Chief Constable of Leicestershire Matt Baggott said all young people should not be tarred with the same brush.

He added: “Youngsters are not just the perpetrators of crime but often the victims.”

Indeed, the rise in street crime reflects the fact that older youths are robbing younger ones of their expensive mobile phones and ipods, rather than a general explosion of violence against just anyone. The sad fact is that Matt Baggott is commenting on exactly what the Sun is doing and has been doing: tarring every youth as a potential yob.

Just like when the News of the World launched its name and shaming campaign against paedophiles, there's also no dissenting mainstream political voices on the issue (the government eventually persuaded Wade to tone down her coverage, but not before Paul Boateng had praised the Screws for its "important contribution to the debate"):
Shadow home secretary David Davis said: “I congratulate The Sun on taking up this immensely important issue.”

Quite. Why bother criticising the fact that the Sun has a terrible record on these matters, that young people are being unfairly demonised for the crimes of a few and that naming and shaming only makes things worse?

The underlying message of the Sun's campaign can be summed up then thus:
Young people, we know that you want to have fun and enjoy your childhood, but wouldn't it be better for you to stay indoors and be seen and not heard? After all, you're scaring the old folks, and you don't want that, do you? You might want to check out this website, called (Proprietor: R. Murdoch), it's like going outside and meeting people except inside, but with more bad music and stupid haircuts!

But what do I know? I'm just an obscurantist and an elitist.

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Saturday, August 26, 2006 


In the blue corner, fighting for corporate greed, perpetual environmental destruction, and the worst McJob on the entire planet, we have Ryanair!

In the "red" corner, fighting for the right to continue establishing a constant culture of fear, for the creation of the crime "travelling whilst asian" and to maintain the exaggerated threat to the country from a few extremist idiots, we have the Labour government!

Whoever wins, we lose.

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Friday, August 25, 2006 

Internet Explorer problems.

I've just noticed that the blog looks absolutely atrocious in Internet Explorer, especially the lower posts, which appear to have stupidly huge fonts. I use Firefox, which shows the page as having no problems. While I see if I can fix it, can IE users report if there are any problems? I'd appreciate it, thanks.

Update: Seem to have sorted it.

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The simple sword of truth and the trusty shield of British fair play.

Only just over a year on from when the country discovered the truth about the so-called ricin plot, one of the men cleared by the jury in that case has been told by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission that he can be deported to Algeria, as he is "a danger to national security" and that the situation in Algeria is "improving". Mr Justice Ouseley, the chairing judge, also said that it was "inconceivable" that the man would face ill-treatment, even though there has not been a "memorandum of understanding" reached between the UK and Algeria. Instead, the judge ruled on the basis of an unpublished exchange of letters between Tony Blair and Ahmed Ouyahia, who was prime minister of Algeria until earlier this year.

The most disturbing thing about the case is that appears that the exact same evidence used against the man in the ricin trial has been used against him again, along with evidence that was given to the judges in secret. This has led three of the jurors in the original ricin case to speak out via Amnesty International, something almost unprecedented.
The jurors have been repeatedly outspoken, as the government has continued to detain those who were initially cleared and released, only for them to be taken back into custody.

While the media can only currently refer to the man as Y, it seems that the man's real name is
Mustapha Taleb. About the only evidence that linked him to the ricin plot was that his fingerprints were found on the handwritten ricin and other poison recipes that been found in a police raid on a house in Thetford, Norfolk. Taleb had been working at the infamous Finsbury Park mosque in the bookshop, which means almost instantly that he can be dismissed by the government and majority of the media as an extremist. He was in charge of the photocopier, which is how his fingerprints were found to be on one of the copies' of the recipes. Whether he even bothered reading what he was copying is uncertain. Another piece of evidence put to the SIAC was that his fingerprints were found on the bag which contained the much paraded imitation handgun, stun gun and CS canister which were found in the mosque.

There is no doubting that Taleb had been involved in Islamist groupings. Indeed, he admitted to working for the
GIA, the Armed Islamic Group, at his interview over his asylum application. He said he left in 1994 because of its policy of killing innocent civilians, maintaining that he had never taken up arms and had only helped the families of fighters to flee. During 1994 he was tortured daily by the Algerian security services, something substantiated by medical evidence and the scars on his body. It's therefore perhaps not surprising that his laptop was found to have at least 50 files containing Algerian opposition material. There was also one file on "bomb-making", although experts said that it was both "incoherent and incomplete". The SIAC said yesterday that it also considered Taleb to have been a leader of the FIS, the Islamic Salvation Front, which did not turn to armed struggle until 1993 in the aftermath of the elections in Algeria being cancelled by the army, and their leaders being arrested and sentenced to 12 years in prison. Whether this evidence came from the torture of Taleb is unknown.

The most perverse about the ruling is that the judges admit that the evidence against Taleb cannot even be said to make it more probable than not that he was involved in the "ricin plot". For those who still don't know the truth about the alleged ricin plot which was disrupted,
it turned out that the ricin recipes, despite being legitimate, would have been of incredibly weak potency. Bourgass most likely got hold of them from extreme rightwing American survivalist websites. Even if they had been made, the concoction would not have been able to kill anyone. Bourgass's plan had been to smear the poison on doorknobs and car door handles, which would have not worked even if the recipe had been potent, as ricin needs to pierce the skin in order to be deadly, as in the case of the Georgi Markov, a Bulgarian dissident murdered by the KGB with an umbrella tipped in the poison. The judges nonetheless claim that Taleb "was aware of the plot, he was trusted by those who engaged in it to know of it and to keep quiet about it, and would not have alerted the UK authorities to it." They claim this despite the prosecution in the ricin trial no doubt making the exact same arguments, where he was cleared of all wrongdoing.

What seems most likely is that the Algerians want Taleb back, having managed to lose him once. In his absence he was convicted of "organising an armed group prejudicial to the state", and sentenced to death. Under the Algerian charter on Peace and National Reconciliation these convictions would be quashed. Whether he would be allowed to rebuild his life in Algeria if deported is questionable though, especially when viewed in the light of the Algerians requesting his extradition in June 2003, one of only three such requests from the country since 1997.
As Jason Burke wrote in the Observer in April 2005, most of the information about the "ricin plot" was received from interrogations of Mohammed Meguerba, who had returned to Algeria after jumping bail in the UK. It's uncertain whether Meguerba was tortured, as Burke reports that he seemed confident when talking to officers from the Met, showing few signs of being broken. This may have been because he was more than willing to tell his interrogators what they wanted to hear: Meguerba said that the ricin already existed; it didn't. It was most likely Meguerba's evidence that led to the Algerians calling for the extradition of Taleb, using the excuse of the plot to get him back.

Nonetheless, the SIAC has ruled that Taleb is a threat to national security. While he can still appeal against the ruling, the whole decision of the government in first detaining him and the others acquitted in the original trial smacks of a vendetta against the men that showed that the true level of threat to Britain is much lower than the government has always claimed. The trial also revealed that those who are inclined to jihadism are often complete amateurs, using recipes from the internet for both poisons and bombs that often range from being hopelessly difficult to manufacture to being hopelessly wrong. It's also worth wondering whether some such sites that offer recipes are honeytraps, operated by the security services who monitor the server logs. Richard Reid was such an amateur. Kamel Bourgass was such an amateur, although one who was obsessive and murderous in his devotion to the cause. Those arrested a couple of weeks ago may yet also turn out to be so.

This is what it comes down to then: sending a man who has been a victim of torture, who has only been circumstantially linked to the "ricin plot" and faces a horribly uncertain future back to a country where despite the SIAC's decision, Amnesty reports that military intelligence still torture and ill-treat suspects with impunity. We appear to be damning a man who has in the past been involved with Islamists and who previously worked at the Finsbury Park mosque purely for his past relations, and on dodgy information by security services that might well also have been obtained under duress. It seems that in order to win the "war on terror" we have to be prepared to ignore jury rulings when they come to the "wrong" decision.

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Thursday, August 24, 2006 

Government plans to share personal information throughout departments.

...This is a time to push forward, faster and on all fronts: open up the system, break down its monoliths, put the parent and pupil and patient and law-abiding citizen at the centre of it. We have made great progress. Let us learn the lessons of it not so as to rest on present achievements but to take them to a new and higher level in the future...
Speech by Tony Blair to National Policy Forum, 9th of July 2005.

Kiss goodbye to the Data Protection Act. Say hello to a new snooper's charter. The government has come to the conclusion that in order to fully streamline the way the state works, it no longer needs to seek permission for your personal details (it seems likely they'll use the national insurance database) to be shared between different departments of state. As you can expect from Labour, this is being dressed up as part of necessary reform, and even as a step in introducing the "choice" agenda into the public services.

There's no need to worry though, as John Suffolk, tasked with making the "Transformational Government" agenda happen, tells the Grauniad that "Not all information will be shared." We can also rest assured that information will only be shared when it's in "the public interest".

Primarily, the main concern is that there will no longer be a 'functional seperation' between departments, meaning that it may no longer be possible to fight a local authority over a small personal matter without them gaining information on you that they previously wouldn't have been able to. Doubtless this will be glossed over with the predictable "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear" argument closer. What's perhaps more worrying is how we've seen the government in the past conspire against those who have in some way threatened it: the whistleblower who leaked the information which led to the resignation of Beverley Hughes was variously smeared for his trouble. Craig Murray faced similar attacks when he didn't follow the government line. There's also the spectre of what happened in the run-up to Dr David Kelly taking his own life: Campbell writing in his diary about "fucking Gilligan", the Ministry of Defence's policy of confirming the name of Kelly if it was one that was put to them, etc. Once a government gets further powers, it's hard to grab them back, and they invariably use and abuse them for their own ends.

This isn't the only recent threat to civil liberties to emerge. Apart from the continuing campaign aginst ID cards, The Observer reported a couple of weeks back on an EU plan to fingerprint all children from a certain age (Sweden seemed to suggest that 6 was acceptable, although plan appears to be from 12), with the possibility that they may made available on a database to all current member states. This in addition to a continuing library project in some schools which requires all the students to have their fingerprints taken; apparently a card just isn't good enough anymore. Many probably wouldn't object, but parents are not being asked to give their consent in almost all cases. A campaigning website has been set-up to pressure schools into at the least making sure that consent is sought.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006 

Israel accused of war crimes by Amnesty; organisation calls for international investigation.

Before and after satellite shots of Beirut (top two) and Bint Jbeil.

Another case of just confirming what you already knew:

Amnesty International delegates in south Lebanon reported that in village after village the pattern was similar: the streets, especially main streets, were scarred with artillery craters along their length. In some cases cluster bomb impacts were identified. Houses were singled out for precision-guided missile attack and were destroyed, totally or partially, as a result. Business premises such as supermarkets or food stores and auto service stations and petrol stations were targeted, often with precision-guided munitions and artillery that started fires and destroyed their contents. With the electricity cut off and food and other supplies not coming into the villages, the destruction of supermarkets and petrol stations played a crucial role in forcing local residents to leave. The lack of fuel also stopped residents from getting water, as water pumps require electricity or fuel-fed generators.

Israeli government spokespeople have insisted that they were targeting Hizbullah positions and support facilities, and that damage to civilian infrastructure was incidental or resulted from Hizbullah using the civilian population as a "human shield". However, the pattern and scope of the attacks, as well as the number of civilian casualties and the amount of damage sustained, makes the justification ring hollow. The evidence strongly suggests that the extensive destruction of public works, power systems, civilian homes and industry was deliberate and an integral part of the military strategy, rather than "collateral damage" – incidental damage to civilians or civilian property resulting from targeting military objectives.


Israel has launched widespread attacks against public civilian infrastructure, including power plants, bridges, main roads, seaports and Beirut’s international airport. Such objects are presumed to be civilian. Israeli officials told Amnesty International that the potential military use of certain items, such as electricity and fuel, renders them legitimate military targets. However, even if it could be argued that some of these objects could qualify as military objectives (because they serve a dual purpose), Israel is obligated to ensure that attacking these objects would not violate the principle of proportionality. For example, a road that can be used for military transport is still primarily civilian in nature. The military advantage anticipated from destroying the road must be measured against the likely effect on civilians, especially the most vulnerable, such as those requiring urgent medical attention. The same considerations apply to electricity and fuel, among other items.

Similarly critical is the obligation that Israel take "constant care to spare civilians, the civilian population, civilian objects, from attack". This requirement to take precautionary measures in launching attacks includes choosing only means and methods of attack "with a view to avoiding, and in any event to minimizing, incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects".

It is also forbidden to use starvation as a method of warfare, or to attack, destroy, remove or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population. Some of the targets chosen – water pumping stations and supermarkets, for example – raise the possibility that Israel may have violated the prohibition against targeting objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population.

Israel has asserted that Hizbullah fighters have enmeshed themselves in the civilian population for the purpose of creating "human shields". While the use of civilians to shield a combatant from attack is a war crime, under international humanitarian law such use does not release the opposing party from its obligations towards the protection of the civilian population.

Many of the violations examined in this report are war crimes that give rise to individual criminal responsibility. They include directly attacking civilian objects and carrying out indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks. People against whom there is prima facie evidence of responsibility for the commission of these crimes are subject to criminal accountability anywhere in the world through the exercise of universal jurisdiction.


Over the many years of the conflict between Hizbullah and Israel, both sides have repeatedly committed grave violations of international humanitarian law without any accountability. The Israeli authorities have investigated a few incidents, and have stated that they are still investigating some of the incidents in the latest outbreak of hostilities, but the methods and outcomes of these investigations have never been properly disclosed. They fall far short of the standards required. No investigation on violations of international humanitarian law by Hizbullah is known to have been conducted by the Lebanese authorities. If respect for rules of war is ever to be taken seriously, a proper investigation of their violation by both parties of the recent conflict is imperative.

Amnesty International calls for the immediate establishment of a comprehensive, independent and impartial inquiry into violations of international humanitarian law by both Hizbullah and Israel in the conflict. The inquiry should examine in particular the impact of this conflict on the civilian population. It should propose effective measures to hold accountable those responsible for crimes under international law, and to ensure that the victims receive full reparation.

Amnesty International has asked the UN Security Council and the UN Human Rights Council to request the UN Secretary General to establish a panel of independent experts to conduct this inquiry. They should include experts with proven expertise in investigating compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law, in military matters, as well as in forensics and ballistics. The experts should receive all necessary assistance and resources. The outcome of the inquiry should be made public and include recommendations aimed at ending and preventing further violations.

Amnesty will no doubt quickly come under attack from Zionist apologists for not dealing with the attacks by Hizbullah in the same report; the report only states that are being addressed elsewhere. Amnesty's report however is damning and deserves reading in full. At least two hospitals were completely destroyed, including the one in Bint Jbeil, the "Hizbullah stronghold". The rest of the town was similarly reduced to rubble, as can be seen in the satellite images provided by Amnesty with the report. At least 20 fuel depots were destroyed, the Lebanese government estimates that 200,000 square miles of road were completely devastated, while the number of the population unemployed is estimated now to be touching 75%. $200 million worth of damage has been estimated as being done to the industrial sector in the country. The oil slick, caused by the destruction of the fuel tanks at the power station in Jiyyeh, is now feared to have sank to the seabed, suffocating sea life.

All of this is increasing the pressure on Israel to pay reparations for the almost unbelievable damage done to the country by Israel's bombardment. As Brian Whitaker points out Comment is Free, Israel was told by the UN in 1968 that Lebanon was right to expect "appropriate redress" for the destruction of Beirut's airport. The bombing raid then was in response to a PFLP attack on an El Al plane at Athens airport, which killed one Israeli. The problem would be actually forcing Israel to pay; she predictably never paid the estimated $43 million worth of damage done to the airport. One way of paying for the damage might be for the UN to force the US to divert its economic and military aid to Israel to the Lebanon instead: last year the US gave $360 million in economic aid and a staggering $2.22 billion in military aid. President Bush has promised to increase aid to Lebanon to $230 million this year; that this doesn't even touch either of the amounts given last year to Israel speaks volumes.

Meanwhile, France is predictably getting a lot of stick for not keeping its word in sending the amount of forces it originally seemed to be suggesting it would to attempt to keep the peace. Allegations of cheese-eating surrender monkeyism are running rampant, coming from the usually sane Jonathan Freedland. As Daniel Davies eloquently puts it, everyone seems to have forgotten that a ceasefire would not have happened without France's attempts from the beginning to broker one. Despite the delays, the fact that innocent civilians are now not being slaughtered on a daily basis on both sides is worth celebrating on its own. While France was trying to do this, the US and UK were intent on keeping the war going long enough for Israel to reach its objectives: the destruction of Hizbullah, or at least the purging of the militia from south of the Litani river. It achieved neither, only succeeding in becoming even more of a pariah nation in the eyes of millions worldwide, if not in the minds of governments. Italy at least appears to be picking up in the baton, in offering 3,000 troops, while other nations such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Bangladesh have all offered soldiers, but Israel has balked because it doesn't have diplomatic relations with any of them. That these soldiers would be wearing the blue caps of the UN seems to have passed them by.

Freedland is always angry that the plan for the unilateral withdraw from the West Bank has been discarded for now. Freeland doesn't seem to release than a withdrawal that only leads to the West Bank becoming another open air prison similar to Gaza is no better than the current occupation. Some settlements may have been dismantled, but not ones such as Ariel which almost cut the territory in two. The result would have been an emasculated, unconnected, disjointed territory nothing like that which existed in 1967. That this would never have led to a peace that the Palestinians can accept passes Freeland by completely. He also criticises those of us who declared that "we are all Hizbullah now". His attack is rather mild compared to those who suggested that the demonstrators wanted all the Jews to die, or that the marchers were unknowingly supporting the establishment of an Islamic caliphate, yet it still misses the point entirely. Those of us who marched were showing our solidarity with the Lebanese people who had been dismissed by the Israelis as terrorists for staying in the south of the country; if they were Hizbullah, so were we.

As ever, the only way forward for the region is a negotiated peace. That Israel appears to have completely abandoned this, and shows no sign of wanting to return to the diplomatic table gives the lie to the idea that the Israeli government wants peace. The Israeli people might, but their representatives do not. This could not be better illustrated than by Olmert's continued attempts to abduct democratically elected members of the Hamas dominated government. A Palestinian minister was yesterday charged with being a member of the organisation. For once, I agree with George Galloway, in his now widely viewed interview with Sky News: no one knows the names of those killed by Israel, or the ministers held for daring to put themselves up for election, but everyone knows the names of the soldiers captured by Hamas and Hizbullah. That there is no international outcry over Israel's contempt for Palestinian democracy is disgraceful; it is little different from the way that the military junta in Burma holds Aung San Suu Kyi without charge, yet that regularly leads to condemnation around the globe. This cynicism is reflected in the way that only 25% of Lebanese think peace with Israel is possible; it is, but without a sea change in the views and attitudes of all the major parties, this situation will continue for yet more decades.

Curious Hamster also has an excellent post on Israeli censorship.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006 

Mea culpa.

and at the moment, Labour, which looked to be trapped with huge problems, is benefiting substantially from the hysteria.

me, yesterday.

David Cameron is on course for a possible general election win, according to a Guardian/ICM poll published today that shows support for the Conservatives climbing to a lead that could give them a narrow majority in the Commons, while Labour has plunged to a 19-year low.

the Grauniad, today.

Ahem. It may of course just be something of a mid-summer dip, with Blair away and a lot of problems all coming to roost at the same time. What's even more gratifying for the Tories, and troubling for Labour is that this is happening when the Conservatives still don't have any set in stone or recognisable policies.
Sure, Cameron launched the supposed "mini-manifesto" last week, but it got hardly any attention in the media, and three quarters of the policies are the same old half-baked ones of yore, ranging from the ridiculous, such as a "UK bill of rights", to the "Flatter and simpler" taxes, for which read less for the rich and more for the poor. Cameron also faces a backlash from grassroot Tories, unhappy with his continuing efforts to get more women candidates nominated for parliament by local constituencies. The Lib Dems also climb back up, which isn't much of a surprise. If Menzies Campbell had been a little stronger on the issue of the Middle East, and the party actually decided to try and get a higher media profile, it might do even better. At the moment it's just coasting, much as it was before Charles Kennedy was forced to resign.

The more interesting part of the poll is that on the terror threat itself. Only 1% (and considering opinion polls generally have a margin of error of around 3 to 4%, it becomes even more meaningless) think that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have made the country safer, which is perhaps the biggest indictment of Britain's foreign policy yet made. When it comes to the level of threat, the results are more ambiguous. 20% think that the government is telling the truth, 21% believe it's exaggerated, but a staggering 51% think the government is actually telling less than it knows about the threat. It has to be said that the question isn't exactly clear - are the government telling less than they know because they're exaggerating it, or less because there's an even greater threat than they're letting on? Either way, it shows that less than a quarter of the public think the government is being entirely honest.

The 51% figure though is the most worrying. If over half the public believe there's an even bigger threat than we're being told about, the government's propaganda and the media bluster is undoubtedly working, but it's not leading to support for the government - far from it, it would seem. It ties in with
the Spectator poll, which apart from having horribly leading questions, showed that 53% wanted an even "tougher" response in relation to the terror threat.

You also can't blame the public for feeling attacked from all sides at the moment - at the end of the report on the 10 O'Clock News last night on the charges against the terror plot suspects, the BBC reporter needlessly reminded everyone of how one police officer had described it as a plan "to commit murder on a massive scale". Peter Clarke was on next, scaremongering about the threat
and coming up with such ridiculous figures for the amount of stuff they'd seized, which must have been more or less everything the accused had in their houses, all in the aid of defending the police from suggestions that the plot was mostly invented and politically motivated. His case won't have been helped by another letter in today's Guardian, which suggests it would be possible to create TATP in an aircraft's toilet - but only if the person had uninterrupted access to it for two or more return flights to America. It's also worth remembering Lord Stevens' rant in the NOTW.

The other attack is on the immigration front, which has grown to new levels of hysteria, especially in the right wing tabloids.
Tales of thousands of Romanians and Bulgarians waiting to come here and infect everyone with TB and HIV once their countries join the EU abound, not to mention the way they're forcing down wages and stealing all our jobs. When it goes on for day after day, it's also unsurprising to find 75% apparently want strict controls on the level of migrants, and the best counter-argument that the likes of the Independent can come up with is from Digby fucking Jones, the ex-head of the CBI, the organisation that supports fat cats and sticks two fingers up at the workers. He also goes on to lambast the government for turning out kids that don't know anything and don't question anything, which are the exactly the sort that he and the rest of his band of neo-liberal capitalist freedom fighters love.

Where do we go from here? From a Labour point of view, Blair has to go. His cronies have to go. Even Gordon Brown, unlikely as he is to change anything, would be better than the band of robots which continue to control the Labour front-bench. That Stephen Byers talked a load of crap over the weekend about scrapping inheritance tax, only to get slapped down, was encouraging in that there are still signs of independent thought somewhere beneath surface. From the left's standpoint, there needs to be more honesty about the real level of threat we face, and there needs to be a greater effort to tackle the nonsense talked about immigration. It's not racist to put limits on it, but it's also an act of political bankruptcy to do it just to appease the screaming the tabloids, especially when we as yet do not have the full facts. Once the conference season kicks off, things might well calm down, but for now exaggeration seems to be the order of the day.

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Monday, August 21, 2006 

"The threat from terrorism is real. It is here, it is deadly and it is enduring."

Don't panic!

Peter Clarke, announcing the decision of the CPS to charge 11 of those held over the terror plot to blow up aircraft, did his best, but still scaremongered over the true threat level facing the UK. The police have been stung in recent days by the accusations that the plot has been at best politically motivated with other events in mind and at worst with being entirely concocted. The reply of Ken Jones to Craig Murray's article in the Guardian was a prime example of this.

Clarke then decided to go in for non-sequiturs in his statement, in one sentence saying:

"I would like to reassure the public that we are doing everything we can to keep you safe so that you can live your lives without being in constant fear.

then in the very next he continued with the quote which is this post's title. We're doing our best but you're probably all going to die anyway, so please don't panic.

The police then claim to have found chemicals, with
hydrogen peroxide being named, and electrical equipment, which may have been used in the preparation of the bombs. The consensus still seems to be that the materials for the bombs were to be mixed together once the suspects were in the air, something which has already been dismissed as incredibly difficult to nigh on impossible to achieve. Whether the men had the motive, as suggested by the "martyrdom videos", which still have not been conclusively identified as containing the suspects rather than just being the readily available propaganda of radical Islamist groups, may come to be the key factor. Taking together all the evidence currently revealed,there appears to be a lot less than that against the men who talked about bombing the Ministry of Sound, as they had ammonium nitrate fertilizer almost ready to use. Questions will also inevitably be asked about the point of attempting to blow up airliners, which has so many potential pitfalls, when there a lot of easier, or "soft" targets in the UK.

The announcement of the charges being brought against 11 of the suspects after less than 2 weeks in custody also shows the stupidity of the calls by the likes of the Sun for 90 days detention to be re-considered. It now seems highly unlikely that the full 28 days available will be used, as some reports had claimed. Despite what their denials, the police, the majority of the media and the government are determined to try to keep the nation in a constant state of fear.
That passengers demanded two entirely innocent Asian men were removed from their flight for "looking suspicious" shows just how successful this is becoming, as does the increasing amount of those who seem to want "tough" action on terrorism. The terror threat is real, but it is nowhere near as acute or "deadly" as it is being made out to be, and at the moment, Labour, which looked to be trapped with huge problems, is benefiting substantially from the hysteria.

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Big Brother paper-watch: The reckoning.

For those of you who've ripped the 4 button off your remote control, it's now safe (or reasonably so) for you to dive down the back of the sofa and look for it. After 13 weeks of absolute fucking hell, Big Brother has finished.

(The below opinions are based on various articles (
Charlie Brooker's Screen Burn reviews, Private Eye's review, numerous Grauniad articles) I've read on the show. I didn't watch the actual programme.)

The seventh series of Big Brother has created at the most two stars, both of which were identified within two weeks of the show beginning. Pete Bennett, the eventual winner, a cross dresser with Tourette's syndrome, quickly emerged despite his ailment as being the most normal and likeable character, and was tipped for victory from the beginning.
He's today found himself being praised in an editorial by the Observer, as well as being hailed by other Tourette's sufferers for helping the general public understand their problems better.

The other more predictable "star" was Nikki Grahame, a young woman who had previously been sectioned for suffering from anorexia. She arrived for the show dressed in a Playboy bunny outfit, and things went downhill from there. A spoilt brat, her temper tantrums got worse until she was eventually evicted by a public evidently fed-up with her. This rather peeved the show's producers, who within a couple of weeks had managed to get her back in, along with other fellow evictees. Presumably advised by her agents that attaching herself to the obvious winner would be a good idea, she announced her love for Pete, which even the most non-jaded viewer could have seen as being cynicism of the highest order. She's since admitted to being an escort, but she didn't have sex with any of her clients, which says something about the punters more than it does about her.

What about the others? Well, the show has another idiot to add to its already bulging ranks of the brain-dead. Imogen, a vacuum so powerful that she appeared to be able to pull in orbiting satellites, thought that man landed on the moon in 1903 and that there were 360 days in a leap year. Halfway through the show a sex tape featuring a Welsh female protagonist who looked mightily similar to the newly christened Dimogen appeared on the internet, and since being evicted she has done a shoot for one of the lad's mags. Shahbaz, a man so clearly mentally ill and without any social skills that it seems incredible he got past Big Brother's supposed impregnable medical checks and sessions with psychologists, left the show within a week. Bonnie, one of the first to be evicted, wasn't able to return later on because she was on police bail for non-payment of pizza deliveries. This was glossed over by the ever talentless and perennially pregnant coloured hair-ball Davina McCall, with the brilliant "legal reasons" explanation, which resulted only in a mass of googling for the real reason (I know this because the blog returned numerous search results for "sezer bonnie legal reasons", due to my initial summing up of the various housemates). That this was more exciting to many who had been watching than the show itself may well have told the producers what a complete fiasco the programme has become.

Nonetheless, the newspapers continued to lap it up.
The Daily Star, which lost 10.4% of its sales in July 2006 compared to July 2005, only missed the show off its front page 5 times during its complete run. While the Sun and Mirror were seemingly less interested than in years past, there was still a good amount of Big Brother "news" inside, despite the lack of exposure on the front covers. Interestingly, the Daily Mail and Express, both mid-market middle class Tory panic and hysteria sheets, didn't feature the show once on their front pages. Whether this is down to snobbery or not could be debated for decades. Of the broadsheets, or ex-broadsheets, the Guardian was by far the most enthusiastic about the show, featuring it in some way at least twice on its front page. There were also articles which in some way shoe-horned in the show, as we shall see.

I've tried to capture the headlines in as an accurate state as possible, hence the use of caps, etc. It should be noted that I read the Guardian, hence how I've noticed the articles written about it in there, although I'm sure I've missed some. I suspect the other broads and Mail/Express etc. had similar pieces, but seeing as the Grauniad in particular often thinks of itself as above shallow tittle-tattle, I feel that highlighting its decline into celebrity worship is justified alongside the tabs.

So without further ado, here are those Big Brother newspaper front pages in full. Some of the comments are contemporaneous to when I wrote the headlines down, some I've re-written, and some are new:

Tuesday the 23rd of May:
The Sun:
BB SPECIAL - Shahbaz on suicide watch - Get it off your chest, Nikki! HOUSE ROCKED BY ROW! (accompanied by image of Nikki barely covering her breasts which are somehow managing to remain in her dress)
Daily Star: BB FRUIT GOES NUTS - Suicidal Shahbaz to be pulled off show - MEANWHILE, Nikki takes her clothes off (again) (PS. The Star is the OFFICIAL World Cup paper)
Daily Mirror: REVEALED - Sezer's BIG secret - EXCLUSIVE
Guardian: Over on Comment is Free, Jonathan Heawood writes that "Big Brother makes us complicit in the victimisation of the damaged, the deranged and the excluded." graemewilliams in the comments gets the better of him with "There's nothing quite like cloaking voyeurism in indignation."

Wednesday 24th of May:
Sun: Shahbaz gets BBOOT - BIG BRUV LATEST!
Mirror: GONE - Shahbaz is first Big Bro casualty - JADE exclusive - Why I'll have a tummy tuck (P.s. the Daily Mirror is YOUR WORLD CUP PAPER ... JUST 16 DAYS TO GO!)
The G2 section runs an interview with the aforementioned Jade Goody, in which she startlingly reveals that she's not pretending to be thick. Elsewhere in G2 Sam Wollaston reviews the show, the paper itself covers a mental health charity protesting about the programme, and on Comment is Free, Matt Wells talks about self-delusion, involving both Mark Oaten and Shahbaz.

Thursday 25th of May:
Star: WE'VE GOT BIG BRUV'S GOLDEN TICKETS and YOU can win 'em and be a housemate! (accompanied by gorgeous pouting blonde woman holding a gold ticket while only wearing a gold bikini top) - SHAHBAZ - BB ordeal will kill me - READ MY STORY ONLY IN THE STAR
Mirror: MY PAIN By Big Brother's SHAHBAZ - EXCLUSIVE

Whether Shahbaz talked to both, or one ripped the "exclusive" off the other is unknown.

Friday 26th May
Star: GOLD RUSH - Mad race starts for our Big Bruv tickets - Dawn booted out for cheating - Bonnie 'next to go' (accompanied by gorgeous pouting blonde wearing bikini bottoms, showing off her navel while wearing a low cut t-shirt with Daily Star logo on it)

The Sun was referring to Dawn, I believe.

Saturday 27th May
Mirror - SOMEONE WILL DIE - EXCLUSIVE - Big Bro's Dawn blasts bosses
Star - BB SEZER STOLE MY BABE - Sleazy geezer's gone too far with Imogen (accompanied by photo of Imogen in her underwear) - Life's not funn-eh enough for the Bonn-eh boiler (geddit???) - WIN BIG BROTHER GOLDEN TICKETS TODAY! - You could be a housemate in two weeks and win £100,000
Sun - Big Bruv Eviction - Bonnie gets the BBoot - SCANTASTIC - Roo's on his way!
Guardian -
Brooker's Big Brother - The rodent, the posho and the pornstar - a brief guide to series seven.

Monday 29th May
Mirror - BB LEA AT 22st - amazing story is given two pages on 13 and 14 - report about Indonesian earthquake has to make do with a third of a page back at 23

Tuesday 30th May
Mirror - SENSATION - New BB girl is a BOY! - 3AM EXCLUSIVE - KATE, SEX AND ME By Big Brother's Russell Brand
Star - BB PETE: I SWEAR I'LL HAVE A SEX SWAP (also featured is gorgeous pouting Nikki Sanderson in her underwear, as some sort of link to the celeb X-Factor show)

Wednesday 31st May
Sun - BIG BRUV EXCLUSIVE - EVIL EYE - BB blast by mental health groups - Sam is fifth unstable housemate
Star - Big Brother Picture Exclusive - TRANNY SAM AS A BOY

Thursday 1st of June:
Star - Big Bro's Eviction Shock: Aisleyne (who she?) flashes the flesh (again)

Aisleyne, her of the stupidly spelled name, was I presume one of those parachuted in after Shahbaz/Dawn left.

Friday 2nd of June:
Star - Sleazer (geddit?!) and Lea battle it out - also on the front page - gorgeous pouting Michelle Marsh in her underwear after she exclusively tells the Star that Simon Cowell is scared of girls - or perhaps just of worthless cunts like Michelle Marsh who show off their body parts for huge amounts of money.

Saturday 3rd of June:
Mirror - BBitch! - The REAL Grace by her cousin
Star - HARD CHEEZER SEZER (geddit?!) - Most hated housemate ever is axed (oh, and win a £50,000 camper van!)

All this was on the same day as most of the papers were more concerned with the anti-terror raid in Forest Gate.

Monday 5th of June:
Amazingly, this was the very first day that Big Brother went without being mentioned on any mass-market UK newspaper front page. It was kicked off the Star's front page by the supposed rift between gorgeous pouting surgically enhanced Rebecca Loos (claims to fame: shagged David Beckham, jerked off a pig, got boob job) and not so gorgeous and pouting, although surgically enhanced Sharon Osbourne (claims to fame: married Ozzy Osbourne, gave birth to Kelly Osbourne, got boob job), which somehow has overshadowed the rest of the X-Factor charade.

Tuesday 6th of June:
It didn't last. The Star bellows on its front page "BIG BRO NIKKI'S 48-HOUR SEX ROMP".

Wednesday 7th of June:
Star - BB BABE'S WORLD CUP SEX HAT-TRICK - Imogen's secret romps with England ace (and Portugal and Trinidad and Tobago!) - RUSSELL BRAND - EXCLUSIVE - Kate Moss, hookers, and me

Would that Russell Brand exclusive be the same interview lifted from the previous week's Mirror? Surely not.

Thursday 8th of June:
Star - Big Bro... Small Brains (featuring two of Big Brother's stunnas in their bikini tops.)

Friday 9th of June
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is dead, which is the main story elsewhere on the Street of Shame. On the Star though it's business as usual. The majority of the front page is given over to the start of the World Cup, but alongside the masthead is a gorgeous pouting lovely laying down while wearing a tiny bikini and holding one of the Big Brother golden tickets with the headline: "BB's Gold ticket winner REVEALED".

Saturday 10th:
No mentions, thanks to the first England game of the World Cup.

Monday 12th:

Tuesday 13th:
And so begins the great Big Brother fix conspiracy, which the Daily Star investigates day after day over the coming weeks. This was presumably because their giving away of tickets came to nought, as someone else entirely who had previously auditioned for the show and had been rejected was drawn instead.

Star - BIG BRO IS BIG FIX - EXCLUSIVE: Gold ticket reject reveals how Suzie got into the house

Wednesday 14th:
Star - I KNEW I WAS IN BIG BRO 2 WEEKS AGO - EXCLUSIVE - Susie admits Friday's gold ticket draw WAS fixed

Of course.

Thursday 15th:
Star - RIOT COPS GUARD BB HATE TARGET GRACE - She's more loathed than sleazer Sezer - EXCLUSIVE

Friday 16th:
Star - BB Grace's love-in

Love, hate? Make up your mind!

Saturday 17th:
Star - GRACE GETS THE BOOT - BB bitch evicted as mum sells flat behind her back.
Mirror - SEX with BB's Grace - By her superman ex-lover

So, err, what happened to the riot cops?

Monday 19th:
Star - BB BANS THE BITCHES - They're banned from picking rivals for eviction

Tuesday 20th:
Star - Big Bruv Aisleyne's kinky sex website - EXCLUSIVE
Guardian - Ahh, Big Brother fever resumes in the Graun.
G2 explains what the "handstand position" is, which inevitably refers to the Sun or Mirror's interview with Grace's ex-lover, as she was especially skilled at "all of them", apparently. Elsewhere, Arabella Weir, yes the "does my bum look big in this?" woman, describes all the Big Brother contestants as repulsive, and gets paid money for it. If only life was so easy.

Wednesday 21st:
Today's Daily Star has the unenviable honour of having both the worst headline and worst pun about the show to date:
NIKKI'S HOT BOT BB PLOT (groan) - Secret sex scheme to win revealed
Sky comments on their front page review: Desperate Big Brother whinger Nikki Grahame is planning to spring a secret plan to stay in the house, the Daily Star reports.

Thursday 22nd:
Star - I missed it, but the story was along the lines that Susie's entry to the house was a fix, or something. I bet no one's reading this anyway.
Guardian - After a rest of a day, the high-minded liberal left paper of record is distracted back to the joys of Big Brother.
"In Big Brother, there are no secrets. Everyone can hear you speak, and understand what you say. Except, it seems, if you are Imogen Thomas or Glyn Wise. There they were in the Big Brother house, speaking in strange lilting accents, when the disembodied voice of authority ticked them off for speaking in "code". An article about how, err, Welsh is suddenly popular with striking resemblance to actually being an article about Big Brother in disguise.

Friday 23rd:
Star - FAKIN' THE MIKEY - He's Iranian not Scouse - His real name is Sahin - He's never been a model - FIRST FOR BB EXCLUSIVES - FULL AMAZING STORY - PAGES 8 AND 9

Someone on a reality TV show not telling the truth? Who would have thought it?

Saturday 24th:
Today marks the starting of the house within a house, with walls so thin that the other housemates could almost hear every word, and quickly came to the conclusion that a "surprise" was to be sprung on them.
Mirror - NO! FIVE NEW WEIRDOS GO INTO BB (Shouldn't that be "WEIRDOES"?)
Star - BIG BRO SECRET HOUSE NEXT DOOR ... and there's FIVE new housemates

Monday 26th:
Star - BB NIKKI FRUIT 'N NUT CASE - Health fears over secret fig stash

Or maybe Nikki was just constipated and didn't want to embarrass herself to the other housemates?

Tuesday 27th:

Wednesday 28th:
Star - Another BB cover-up exposed - BIG BRO LEA IS SECRET ALKY - Housemate downs a bottle of vodka a day - And we reveal her TRUE age
Mirror - BIG SNORTER - Big Brother's Pete hoovers up horse drug - EXCLUSIVE

The Star doesn't explain how Lea doesn't seem to be showing signs on the show itself of being an alcoholic, as she certainly doesn't have access to a bottle of vodka a day. The Mirror story is similar to those where it's exposed Kate Moss and Craig Charles, as it has a photograph of Pete snorting the horse tranquillizer and increasingly popular club drug Ketamine.

Thursday 29th:
Star - EXCLUSIVE - ANOTHER BB COVER-UP EXPOSED - AISLEYNE BLOWS LID ON BB FIX - She knows about 'secret' second house - She lets slip about 5 new housemates (with photograph of Aisleyne in a pair of tiny hipster panties)

Err, yes. Wouldn't be anything to do with Aisleyne being able to hear the housemates, would it?

Friday 30th:
Star - IT'S ANOTHER BB CONSPIRACY EXCLUSIVE - NOW BB FIXES THE WORLD CUP! - House to be told England win Cup even if we lose

Saturday 1st of July:
Star - FAKE THAT - EXCLUSIVE - BB's new housemates and, guess what, they aren't what they seem...

Monday 3rd of July:
Star - AISLEYNE WRECKS BB PLOT - Babe tells all over eviction shock (with photograph of her wearing only panties, covering her breasts with her hands)

Tuesday 4th of July:
Star - BIG BRO CRISIS TALKS - Show faces axe after this series

You can imagine the panic in the Daily Star's offices with this news. What on earth are they going to find to splash on during the barren summer months if Big Brother goes? Quick, start a campaign to save the show!

Wednesday 5th:
Star - Big Brother Suzie is a secret floosie
Guardian - Germaine Greer, who appeared on Celebrity Big Brother before leaving in a huff,
writes about the incident on the Australian Big Brother in which two male contestants allegedly sexually assaulted a female housemate.

Thursday 6th:
Star - I missed it. Apologies, but there was a story on there, although "Celebrity Love Island" took precedence as I recall.

Friday 7th:
A year on from the London bombings, and the Star's main story is - "AGENTS RIGGED IT FOR BIG BRUV STARS" with yet another photograph of one of the housemates (I'm assuming it's Aisleyne) wearing just bra, stockings and a thong with her back to the camera. The amazing courage of 7/7 victims gets a box half the size of the photo on the left.

Saturday 8th:
Star - LEA: I'LL TELL ALL ON BB FIX - Busty wannabe to get it off her chest

The Star seems to have forgotten about Lea being a "secret alky", or rather they didn't bother telling her about their "exclusive".

Monday the 10th:
Star - SPIRAL'S A BB SEX BEAST - Rapping rat goes too far with Aisleyne - EXCLUSIVE (complete with photograph of the female participants in Celebrity Love Island, all who just happen to be wearing their swimwear.)
Mirror - No Big Brother, but it does have Sophie's Love Island diet! (i.e. cry a lot, eat nothing, get hideous tattoo, become a prostitute, repeat)

Tuesday 11th:
Star - PR KING FIXED IT FOR BB SUSIE - Golden girl groomed by guru to the celebs (with picture of Bianca (who she?) with her ample assets flowing over her corset, with the Star putting the following into her mouth: Bianca - I need a boob job
Grauniad - Over on Comment is Free, Rebecca Atkinson says that
"Big Brother's freak show has produced the first warts-and-all disabled person on TV - when will the soaps follow?" Who knows? Who cares?

The PR king turns out to be Max Clifford. Whether he "fixed" or not is uncertain. I'm assuming Bianca is Bianca Gascogine, who is some relation to Paul.

Wednesday 12th:
7 explosions ripped through Mumbai's train network in the evening rush hour on Tuesday, killing at least 183, the government releases the long awaited energy review that recommends the building of new nuclear power stations, but in the street of shame things carry on as normal:
Star - B BRO FIX ROW GOES TO PM - Now top Blair MP wants answers - ANOTHER BB CONSPIRACY EXCLUSIVE (with photo of Nikki wearing a tiny pair of cut-off jeans and covering her breasts with her hands)
Mirror - REALITY TV WARS (it does mention the energy review, to be fair)

Thursday 13th:
Star - Big Bro makes fool of my Jen - EXCLUSIVE (relegated to a box by story which claims man was told he couldn't get a job because he was white)

Friday 14th:
Thursday marked the start of the Israeli-Lebanon-Hizbullah month long war. In the Street of Shame however, things just carry on as normal:
Star - AISLEYNE - New BB phone vote fiasco - EXCLUSIVE (with photograph of Nikki Sanderson wearing transparent panties, with hilarious pun alongside - Nikki's bot ITV bosses panting)

The Express, Sun and Mirror on the other hand all lead on the outrage of some badly lit photographs of Diana lying dying being published in Italy.

Saturday 15th:
Sun - Sad Nik gets Big Bro kick

Whoever came up with the term "WAG" needs to be shot, buried, dug up and then shot again.

Monday 17th:
Star - Nikki's kinky secret (with photograph of said Nikki in lingerie)
Sun - EXCLUSIVE - THE TEARS AND THE TRAUMAS - NIKKI - HER OFFICIAL STORY (SEE CENTRE PAGES) (with photograph showing off ample cleavage, naturally, or in Nikki's case, not)

Tuesday 18th:
While war continues to rage in Lebanon, all the tabloids except the Sun are still obsessed with everything else:

Wednesday 19th:
Star - BB FIX MADE MY LIFE HELL - EXCLUSIVE (Axed Dawn's torment over TV stitch-up)

However many weeks on and Dawn breaks her silence in order to back up the Star's repeated claims of a fix. That she was booted off for "cheating" doesn't seem to both worth a mention.

Thursday 20th:
Star - THROW OUT TRICKY DICKY - OFFICIAL BIG BROTHER PAPER (main story is two "Daily Star Babes" one of whom is pulling her bikini top off but covering her breasts with her hands) - RECORD BAKER

Friday 21st:

Saturday 22nd:

Rumpy pumpy, for those of you not familiar with tabloid euphemisms, means sex.

Monday 24th:
Star - Big Brother stars are heading for jail

If only.

Tuesday 25th:
Like rats leaving a sinking ship, today's Daily Star instead focuses on Love Island, rather than Big Brother. Meanwhile, both Zoo and Nuts claim to have exclusives with Nikki, one with her stripping, the other with her naked.

Wednesday 26th:
Star - NIKKI'S GOING BACK IN BB HOUSE! - Another BB EXCLUSIVE - And she's topless on p3 first (with photograph of said Nikki covering her breasts with her hands.)

Thursday 27th:
No Big Brother today, but the Star does have gorgeous pouting Sophie Anderton in her underwear on the front page, showing off her fucking grotesque lower back tattoo. According to the sages at the Star, LOVE ISLE IS BIG FIX! Someone should tell them that doesn't make grammatical sense, but plots and conspiracies seem to be a favourite of the soaraway Daily Star. Rodman reveals Sophie plot - EXCLUSIVE

Friday 28th:
Star - The main story is KATE LAWLER KINKY SEX PIC SHAME - Ex-BB star's crazed obscene romps in nightclub - JADE - Going back to BB house

It later turns out that the pictures are nothing more shameful than Lawler licking chocolate spread off her finger, and messing around with two male friends in a nightclub. The pictures were featured in the previous week's Heat magazine, and being short of news, the Star turned them into an "obscene" exclusive.

Saturday 29th:
In the most tedious news since yesterday's Daily Star revelations, Kate Lawler today reveals all to the Star - COCAINE ORGIES AND ME, which is a rather misleading headline, as Lawler denies taking cocaine or taking part in orgies. The other story is: B Bro Spiral in a spin

Monday 31st:
While every other paper except for the Sun and Express leads on the massacre in Qana, the Star dedicates yet more space to Nikki: BIG BRUV NIKKI'S DEATH THREATS - with photograph of Nikki in a transparent negligee showing off a thong, naturally - EXCLUSIVE

Tuesday 1st of August:
Star - No Big Brother, as the main story is given over to Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney's re-union at Manchester United. The other story is "BIANCA - First sex on Love Island, with accompanying shot of Bianca (who she?) in her underwear.

Wednesday 2nd:
Star - Big Bro Susie faces the boot - the main story is about one of the cunts (surely significant contributor to modern society? Ed.) on Love Island exchanging "sex texts" with becks

Thursday 3rd:
Star - BIG BRO £1.5M BETTING SCAM - EXCLUSIVE - Punters pour cash on Mikey in 2hr frenzy

Friday 4th:
Star - NUTCASE NIKKI RETURNS - She's back in house tonight - EXCLUSIVE

Saturday 5th:
Star - Big Bro £5M eviction rip-off

The Star apparently didn't see the rather predictable outcry from the fans coming, as they complained about wasting their money on voting out those who now returned. This may just be because it's just as exploitative of the fans of the show as the producers are to both them and the actual contestants.

Monday 7th:

Tuesday 8th:
Sun - Big Brother 'rip-off' crisis - furious fans demand probe
Star - BIG BRO IN TOTAL CRISIS - Golden Ticket fiasco a 'con' say TV officials - 1,500 complaints as Nikki & Susie return - Show may be sold as profits take a hit - SHOCK REPORT - Page 6 - 9

Wednesday 9th:
Star - BB: FRAUD COPS ARE CALLED IN - Complaint is lodged as 2m fans switch off

Thursday 10th:
Sun - Mikey and Grace turn on a MILLION extra views
Star - BB FIX NIKKI PETE FINAL - Insiders bet on babe to win even AFTER she was evicted

As it turned out, Glyn came second. Obviously those insiders were tricked.

Friday 11th:
All the papers go with the terror plot apparently foiled yesterday. Except for the Star, which still can't give up Big Brother even for one day:
Big Bro Grace's birthday romp... 'cos life goes on!

The other headline was the tactful "UP YOURS".

Saturday 12th:

Monday 14th:

Tuesday 15th:
Star - AISLEYNE A SECRET ACTRESS - She's done ads, movies and has showbiz agent - ANOTHER BB CON EXPOSED

The Star here wilfully ignores what it knows all too well about; that most of the "reality" stars are members of "talent" agencies that inform them of any possible parts, hence why Aisleyne has appeared as an extra in ads and movies. One such agency is
Envenio, where many of those who want to get on shows like Big Brother host CVs and show-reels. Currently on its index page it has Jonathan Leonard, as its "face of the month". He was in the "second house" for 5 days. It's not a con at all, but that doesn't stop the Star from screaming about it.

Wednesday 16th:
Star - NIKKI'S SAUCY SEX PIC SHAME - ANOTHER BB EXCLUSIVE - We reveal shocking nude snaps BB's 'Miss Innocent' tried to ban

Yes, this would be the same "Miss Innocent" who has stripped naked for Zoo and Nuts, and even, err, the Star's page three. The Star had previously revealed her "kinky secret" and about her "48-hour romps", neither of which possibly conflicted with her 'Miss Innocent' image.

Thursday 17th:
Star - BIG BRO FIXES IT SO ASH LOSES - Show in panic as she beats Nikki & Pete for final votes - YET ANOTHER BB CON EXPOSED

As stated above, Glyn came second. Pete won with 61% of the vote. The Star most likely made the story up as an attempt to get Aisleyne's exclusive story once she's out the house.

Friday 18th:
Mirror - BIG VERDICT - Read Polly Hudson's hilarious end of show report on ALL 22 housemates
Star - £2M CASH ON ASH - She's hot fave after 24-hr betting frenzy - Romp with Nikki loses Pete votes - BB FINAL, TONIGHT, CH4, 8:30PM (with photograph of Aisleyne with back to camera, wearing only a thong)

£2 million down the drain, then. The "romp" with Nikki also didn't stop Pete winning by a very comfortable margin.

Saturday 19th:
Star - PETE'S THE EFFIN STAR - He lands first ever Tourette's talk show - EXCLUSIVE
Mirror - KING PETE
Guardian -
gives over page 3 to Mark Lawson to talk a whole load of shite

Which brings to an end the Big Brother paper-watch in full. Obsolete hopes you enjoyed it more than he did.

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