Tom’s busy

That’s the short version… and I’m happy to cut him a little slack because, unlike some people, he doesn’t have a track record of dicking me around.

I’m a tad busy myself, but I did have time to knock this out for B3ta’s ‘Make Newspaper Comics Funny’ image challenge.

See you soon. Try not to harm any puppies or human beings while I’m away.








Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | 1 Comment

The Obi One may have trouble laughing this one off…

LayScience – Dr. Joseph Obi vs. LayScience.net: Today I have “most ethically” triggered a chain of events that may be of great interest to the Royal College of Alternative Medicine. Nothing beats good evidence, and I’ve just posted a load of it to the Irish Government’s Office of the Director Of Corporate Enforcement…








Posted in UK Libel Law | 5 Comments

Stormfront in hotlinking whoopsie

Media Watch Watch is a blog with a free-speech focus that rose like a mighty phoenix from the ashes of the JS:TO firestorm and, blessings upon the cotton socks The Monitor, is still keeping tabs on Stephen Green.

Recently, The Monitor noticed that the good people at the white supremacist forum Stormfront were hotlinking a contentious cartoon hosted for discussion in this article.

As I’ve mentioned before; there are many reasons not to hotlink, but one of them is that you have no control over the image, which might very well be changed by the person hosting it… often with the specific intention of making the hotlinker look like a bit of a dick.

And yes, The Monitor has changed that image, and replaced it with an altered version of yet another controversial image hosted and discussed on the Media Watch Watch website.

To see the result, click here.

(And, if the mighty whities eventually catch up with the rest of us and edit the entry, I’ve saved a screen capture for the ages here.)








Posted in Teh Interwebs | 2 Comments

“Answer my questions, or the puppy gets it.”

While we’re waiting for Tom… here’s a US marine throwing a puppy off a cliff (maybe):

News.com.au – Military investigates puppy-throwing video: The US military is investigating a YouTube video that apparently shows a Marine throwing a puppy off a cliff. Major Chris Perrine from the Marine Corps Base Hawaii said the man appears to be based with a unit in the islands. The video has caused an internet backlash after footage of the incident was uploaded onto YouTube – even though it could be fake.

It looks fake to me. Judge for yourself.

Typically, the Sun is outraged (Rebekah Wade has a thing for puppies… and horses).

UPDATE (9pm) – The Times – Puppy-toss video makes Marine figure of hate: A US Marine has become the target of a massive internet hate campaign after a mobile phone video appearing to show him throwing a puppy off a cliff in Iraq became a viral hit… A number of US websites named the perpetrator as David Motari, a 22-year-old from Washington state who has recently returned from Iraq and is based in Hawaii. Mr Motari’s profile on the social networking site Bebo was closed down yesterday. Some sites posted his personal details, phone numbers and even a picture of his car, while other bloggers called for him to be ostracised.

Valleywag expands on the theme.

Meanwhile…
Meanwhile…
Meanwhile…

I’m as appalled as Justin is… but not quite as shocked. The death of an innocent* puppy doesn’t involve any tricky politics, so it’s an easy win.

[*”Tonight on FOX News: the truth about puppies and why they hate America!”]

UPDATE (11:30pm) – I couldn’t sleep, so I made you a picture. Inspired by Justin and posted to B3ta. Enjoy:

Abu

UPDATE (11:45pm) – For me the audio is the most suspicious element, and there’s a lot of speculation about the dead/alive status of the dog before it was thrown; that reminds me of this.

And on that note, I retire to bed. Pleasant dreams.

UPDATE (05 Mar): Doggy go ‘boom’ | Doggies go ‘boom’ | Kitty go ‘boom’… just while you’re in the mood. Oh, and for the sake of balance, here is a report of Al-Qaeda killing doggies and here is a report of an abused Iraqi doggy saved by a U.S. Marine.

Also, the comments under the Sun article are worth a browse, not least because of the many, many anti-American sentiments expressed over this.

Tch. Looks like playing to xenophobia wins over pro-Bush/anti-peacenik propaganda every time… at least when puppies are involved. Other highlights include:

“perhaps, just perhaps, that the dog would of died anyway? In the heat, no food, no water, and the marines are not there to puppysit!” – CactusJoe

This just in: the RSPCA is opening a new rescue centre at Beachy Head.

“You know what – What goes around, comes around. They will get their day, and I hope someone posts it on youtube for us all to see!” – xKellyx

Hmmm. Live mob justice on YouTube. An intriguing idea. All we’ll need then is free bread via Teh Interwebs and we’ll be set.

“Did that poor puppy live? If so that marine should pay the vet bill’s and go and throw himself of a cliff before some one else does!” – sweetkaz

Yeah! Right on! *And* he should pay the doctor’s bills if he survives the fall. That’ll learn him.

“Sick!! It would’ve been OK if it was a Iraqi terrorist they were throwing about, but a poor puppy! Sick!” – UltraNationalist

Hm. There’s all sorts of things wrong with that, but – just for starters – the majority of terrorists in Iraq are not from Iraq. JHL has more on the terrorist/puppy angle here.

“Just remember what DOG spells backwards you stupid American Idiots. You will be thrown over the edge in to hell for that.” – flynn04

(speechless)

OK, so some of these may be trolls… but it’s very hard to tell in some neighbourhoods.

UPDATE – OK, so now can we get on with the impeaching? (Image posted to B3ta):

U.S. Marines watching George W. Bush throwing a puppy in Iraq - THIS REALLY HAPPENED, PEOPLE!








Posted in It's War! It's Legal! It's Lovely!, Teh Interwebs, Video | 11 Comments

Meanwhile…

Sorry to interrupt the eerie silence, but Iain’s latest CiF article comparing David Cameron to Barack Obama prompted this comment from me and I wanted to share.

[Yes, I’m aware of the multiple absurdities of Iain’s article, but I’m trying to stay focused.]

UPDATE – Heh. I fear I might have strayed into a Brit-centric neighbourhood recently. This post is my first mention of Barack Obama on this weblog since September 2004, when I blogged this item.

UPDATE (04 Mar) – Ahahahahahahaha! Iain responds to criticism of his article by claiming that he sold the Guardian a surplus article with the specific intention of winding up their readers. I suppose they’ll be wanting their fee back, then. I also enjoyed Iain predicting a “torrent of abuse” in the same comment where he describes CiF contributors as having “even fewer braincells than the LibDem front bench”.

UPDATE (05 Mar) Two bits of related bloggage for you:

mask of anarchy – Iain Dale: The Blogging Equivalent of The Emperor’s New Clothes


Septicisle – Pranked over Cameron’s likeness to Obama, while Cameron himself sings from the same old hymn sheet








Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | 3 Comments

Who’s got Phorm?

The Register – How Phorm plans to tap your internet connection: Internal BT documents obtained by The Register for the first time provide solid technical information on how data from millions of BT, Virgin Media and Carphone Warehouse customers will be pumped into a new advertising system.

El Reg promises more on this story; in the meantime, Political Penguin digs in here and here.

See also:
Guardian – You might call it “resistance”: 95% say they’ll opt out of ISP’s data-sharing deal
BadPhorm – When good ISPs go bad!








Posted in Consume! | 1 Comment

‘Joey’ Obi: Creepshow II

Another video starring Grand Master Joseph Chikelue Obi… and this time he’s naked!

That this clown and his pseudo-lawyer managed to bully an ISP into submission continues to amaze me.








Posted in Teh Interwebs | 6 Comments

Let’s probe some padded expenses!

Paul Staines (aka ‘Guido Fawkes) – Sunday Sleaze Special : Tom Watson: Last year Watson pocketed his £60,000 salary and his parliamentary expenses amounted to £150,000-plus – bringing his total package to £211,000 – making him the 73rd highest claiming MP out of 646 MPs. Quite an achievement for an MP not claiming for travel to and from Scotland. He of course employs his wife Siobhan at the public’s expense, his brother, Dan, is constituency director to Euro MP Michael Cashman, Dan Watson’s wife, Joanna, has no fewer than three jobs. Like her husband, she also works for Mr Cashman and for Wolverhampton Labour MP Pat McFadden, yet still finds time to be a Labour councillor in Sandwell. Amy Watson, cousin of Tom and Dan, works for Birmingham Northfield Labour MP Richard Burden. The West Midlands constituency Labour Party offices are packed with Watsons… The total annual cost to the taxpayer of the Watson family’s five not-so-little piggies is in excess of £300,000. Far more than the disgraced Derek Conway fiddled…

1. The way Paul Staines carries on about British taxpayers’ money, you would think it was *his* money being spent. But if Staines pays any tax, surely it’s in Ireland.

2. That story appeared on Staines’ pseudo-blog just before 10:30pm last night. The only link to any source was to this irrelevant article in the Sunday Times. Just after midnight, this very similar article by Mark Lister appeared on the Daily Express website. So did Lister lift from Staines? Or did Lister or someone else leak to Staines? Or is there a mystery article that we’re unaware of that Staines is using as his (uncredited) source?

3. So much for bread and sources… here’s the meat;

The comparison to Derek Conway is totally out of order unless one *only* addresses the money Tom Watson paid to his wife Siobhan and *if* there appears to be some irregularity and/or difficulty proving that she has done this work. (Lister in the Express also works Conway into his article, but is far more careful about it.)

The crux of the Conway matter was that Derek Conway had paid his son Freddie Conway £40,000 (over a three year period) and no record was found of any work done by this ‘researcher’.

If a fair comparison were to be made, it would involve an estimated £60,000 paid to Siobhan Watson (i.e. over the same period) and there would have to be some indication that she didn’t actually do any work during this period.

But instead, Staines (followed by Lister) has grouped the money paid by Tom Watson to his wife with Tom’s own pay and expenses, *and* tacked on money paid to members of his extended family by people and organisations that have *SFA* to do with that MP.

[All of the other members of Tom Watson’s family work for other people and Tom’s responsibilities to the taxpayer start and finish at his offices. There might be cause for investigation or comparison if, for example, Tom was funnelling his own money through family members for some reason (*cough*)… but he isn’t.]

So when Staines describes that figure of £300,000 as “Far more than the disgraced Derek Conway fiddled…” he is implying:

a) That Siobhan Watson did no work for her salary.

b) That Tom Watson did no work for his salary – and that none of his expenses can be properly accounted for.

c) That Tom Watson is directly responsible for the employment of these other members of his extended family.

It’s almost as if Paul Staines is baiting Tom Watson and waiting for a letter from Tom’s lawyer so he make yet another comparison of chalk to cheese in order to overcome or overshadow his recent PR difficulties.

No doubt there will also be accusations of personal/political favouritism if certain blogs don’t repeat this non-story, when Staines himself is guilty of ignoring many genuine Tory stories (including this item about Anne Milton).

But, even though Tom is not my MP, I recognise that there are political realities to deal with here (mostly involving a gang of right wing bloggers who delight in misrepresenting my position and even falsely suggesting that *I’m* employed by Tom Watson) so I’m going to ask Tom 3 of the 5 questions put to Anne Milton (i.e. the 3 questions that are relevant to this situation):

Q1. Where did Siobhan Watson carry out this work you describe? In your parliamentary office, your constituency office, from home…?

Q2. What evidence can you show your constituents of the work you claim was done by Siobhan Watson?

Q5. Have any other members of your family been employed in this or any other way by your office?

[Please note that Tom Watson does not have advance notice of these questions and that they’ve been presented to him in exactly the same manner as they were presented to Milton; bloggage first, followed by an immediate heads-up via email. To better Milton’s response time, Tom only has to come up with a single and totally unsatisfactory answer within two weeks… but I’m willing to bet that he can do a little bit better than that.]

UPDATE (1:10pm) – The article on the Daily Express website appears to have been removed.

UPDATE (2:10pm) – This appears to be the original article (Sunday Mercury – March 2, 2008), and the source for both Staines and Lister. It’s a curious item full of friendly smiles and wild stabs, but – crucially – it makes no mention of Derek Conway.

UPDATE (5:20pm) – Garry Smith expands on the maths.








Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | 7 Comments

Neil Clark: how to waste public money by trying to keep your personal mistakes private

Via Richard Bartholomew (<---- worth a read):

Oliver Kamm – Not a parody: Yesterday morning I got a telephone call from a bewildered gentleman at Abingdon Police Station saying he had received a complaint from a Mr Neil Clark… I learned from my interlocutor at Abingdon Police Station that Mr Clark was upset about disobliging references to him on the World Wide Web…

Blessings upon the cotton socks of the hardworking copper who seeks to keep the peace… and a hearty ‘good luck’ to Oliver in his mission to “abstain from interest in Clark’s pronouncements” in order to “make life easier for the Abingdon constabulary than it has been in the very recent past.”








Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | 3 Comments

OMFG! EXCLUSIVE!!: New Idea blows Prince Harry’s cover while Matt Drudge claims the exclusive and compounds the error

By now you’re all aware that Prince Harry has been fighting in Afghanistan (gunning down other human beings in much the same way that most normal people do) and that there was an agreement for it not be reported by the media. You are probably also aware that the carrot that was dangled to ensure the integrity of the embargo was an appeal to media owners and editors not to complicate military operations by needlessly endangering Harry’s life and those of his fellow soldiers a steady feed of photos and interviews that they would be allowed to use at a later date.

This morning, there is an undignified rush to use that material in almost every newspaper. Classy.

The Independent, by contrast, uses a single image on page 3 alongside this article:

Independent – Prince’s cover in Afghanistan blown by Drudge Report: An American website, the Drudge Report, broke a news blackout yesterday by revealing that Prince Harry has been serving in Afghanistan for more than two months. To the fury of the Ministry of Defence and condemnation from the head of the British Army, General Sir Richard Dannatt, the website announced a “world exclusive” and proclaimed: “They’re calling him ‘Harry the Hero!”… It is thought the source for the Drudge Report article was a story printed last month in an Australian women’s magazine, New Idea.

Back-pats to the Indy for this, and for not falsely describing Drudge as a ‘blogger’.

Brick-bats to New Idea and Matt Drudge… oh, and well-known Drudge-wannabe Paul Staines*.

What Drudge did was take something that had been previously reported by regional ragsters who claimed to be unaware of the embargo, and used that to knowingly break the embargo… while screaming ‘EXCLUSIVE’.

And now the eyes of the world are upon him, Matt Drudge is getting greedy. Below is the article published by Drudge yesterday. The text in bold is the paragraph that he has since deleted:

PRINCE HARRY FIGHTS ON FRONTLINES IN AFGHANISTAN; 3 MONTH TOUR
Thu Feb 28 2008 11:37:52 ET

They’re calling him “Harry the Hero!”

British Royal Prince Harry has been fighting in Afghanistan since late December–and has been directly involved in battle.

Australian magazine NEW IDEA and the German daily BILD have broken world embargoes on the development. CNN has debated internally on the merits of reporting Harry at war.

The prince, a junior officer in the Blues and Royals, and third in line to the throne, has been a “magnificent soldier” and an “inspiration to all of Briton.”

Prince Harry is talking part in a new offensive against the Taliban.

Ministry of Defense and Clarence House refuse all comment. Army chiefs have managed to keep the prince away from media and have encourage fellow soldiers in his squadron to stay quiet.

Developing…

Not that the people at New Idea have any complaints; they themselves are busy rewriting history today…. and here’s why:

The Australian – New Idea, no idea of Harry embargo: New Idea had no idea it was breaking an embargo when it revealed on its website that Prince Harry was fighting in Afghanistan. The weekly magazine has been criticised by a British army chief for leaking the news of the young royal’s frontline deployment, which was subject to a strict media blackout. A German newspaper and then US website the Drudge report picked up the story this week. With the ban broken, the story has received intensive coverage in Britain and around the world. The story was published on New Idea’s website on January 7, said editor-in-chief Robyn Foyster.

SMH – No idea: New Idea in the dark about Harry blackout: An Australian women’s magazine has denied deliberately breaching a media news blackout about Prince Harry’s deployment to Afghanistan. New Idea is at the centre of a storm in Britain, accused of leaking the news the 23-year-old prince is fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan and potentially putting his life in danger. The magazine published a story about Harry’s secret tour of duty on its website in January in an apparent breach of a strict media blackout on the story. It appears few noticed the story. It was only after US website the Drudge Report picked up the story and broadcast it around the world, after a German newspaper ran a piece yesterday, that the storm blew up.

[Psst! “Woman’s magazine” is putting it kindly; New Idea (nicknamed ‘No Idea’ long before this debacle) is a trashy supermarket tabloid.]

Now, while everyone else is revelling in their ability to use material that was previously embargoed until April, New Idea has decided to ‘disappear’ the items in question. If you visit either of these URLs, the original teaser and article will not appear; instead, on both pages, you’ll get a bog-standard bio of Prince Harry (that’s been put together so hurriedly that the picture fails to load)…
http://au.lifestyle.yahoo.com/b/new-idea/8771/prince-harry-goes-to-war-in-afghanistan/
http://au.lifestyle.yahoo.com/b/new-idea/9210/prince-harry-war-lord/

So now, +++ EXCLUSIVELY +++ at Bloggerheads (via the cached pages stored by Google and Live Search), I present the two original items in full:

NEW IDEA: Prince Harry Goes to War in Afghanistan
Originally published by New Idea on Jan 07 at 04:33pm EDT at:

http://au.lifestyle.yahoo.com/b/new-idea/8771/prince-harry-goes-to-war-in-afghanistan/

Prince Harry has joined his regiment on a covert mission to Afghanistan and his unit has already seen front line action.

Not seen in public since the middle of December, New Idea can exclusively reveal that despite opposition from senior members of the British government and the royal family itself, Harry now joins his uncle Prince Andrew as a royal who has been to war.

‘At first there was a lot of resistance’ said a friend ‘but Harry threatened to resign his commission and serve as a private if he was kept from the battlefield – and that proved to be the final straw’.

Full details on this breaking story in this week’s New Idea

No idea there was an embargo? What does the word ‘covert’ mean to these people?

Here’s the article that followed that teaser a week later:

NEW IDEA: Prince Harry: War Lord
Originally published by New Idea on Jan 15 at 12:07pm EDT at:

http://au.lifestyle.yahoo.com/b/new-idea/8771/prince-harry-goes-to-war-in-afghanistan/

Maverick Prince Harry has joined his regiment on a covert mission to Afghanistan and his unit has already seen front line action.

New Idea can exclusively reveal that despite opposition from senior members of the British government and the royal family itself, Harry flew out with his regiment and joined the troops on the front line. He spent Christmas with his men at the sharp end of the action.

‘Harry found members of his unit were to be posted in Afghanistan for a four-month tour of duty over Christmas and the New Year,’ a close friend tells New Idea.

‘He had already begrudgingly accepted the decision to keep him off the front line in Iraq, but when he heard about the mission in Afghanistan he was insistent he would not stay at home eating Christmas dinner and living it up at the palace while his men were on the front line.

‘At first there was a lot of resistance, but Harry even threatened to resign his commission and serve as a private if he was kept from the battlefield – and that proved to be the final straw,’ the friend says.

‘He wants to be a real soldier who gets the same treatment as any other officer of his rank – and that means going to war just like everybody else.’

Prince Charles was said to be against the idea of Harry seeing active service, but sources say that with the support of his elder brother William, and uncle Prince Andrew, who flew helicopters during the Falklands war, Harry convinced Charles not to take action to prevent him from going.

The Queen is said to have sent Harry a card with her best wishes and a gift with sentimental value that he has kept private.

Before he left, Harry invited William and some of his close friends to a secret ‘godspeed’ party at Boujis nightclub in London.

Guests were under strict instruction that there was to be no mention of the real reason for the party and no toasts or public discussion of Harry’s imminent departure.

The British government is said to strongly oppose Harry’s deployment to Afghanistan. Their official reason is that his presence may put his fellow soldiers at risk, but defence commentators have been quick to suggest it may be more to do with their fear that Harry could be killed or injured fighting George Bush’s ‘war on terror’. This would doom Gordon Brown’s Labour government in the next election.

But Harry has always been insistent that he wanted to see active duty and he hated the idea of being wrapped in cotton wool while his men put their lives on the line.

He famously said: ‘There’s no way I’m going to put myself through Sandhurst and then sit on my a*** back home while my boys are out fighting for their country.’

For more Royal Watch, check out the latest issue of New Idea – on sale now!

Again, reading what has been published (and since ‘disappeared’), one might get the impression that – even if New Idea didn’t know of the embargo – they certainly should have noticed the alarm bells in their own damn article!

Which might be why that article and the teaser have been removed; New Idea’s statement on the matter reads as follows:

“New Idea was not issued with a press embargo and was unaware of the existence of one… The story was published on Monday, January 7. Since then New Idea has received no comment from the British Ministry of Defence. We take these matters very seriously and would never knowingly break an embargo. We regret any issues the revelation of this story in America has caused today.”

Scroll up and read the article again. Try to work out how it was planned for at least a week, researched, penned and published without anyone involved becoming aware of the merest possibility of a hint of an embargo.

And, if you’re of the opinion that New Idea knowingly breached the embargo and find yourself wondering why, there’s a subtle hint in the closing line of each item…

Full details on this breaking story in this week’s New Idea

For more Royal Watch, check out the latest issue of New Idea – on sale now!

So now it’s New Idea with a secret they’d rather the media didn’t report.

Share at will.

[*Paul Staines happily ran with the outing and there are suggestions from anonymous readers (or from Staines himself; sometimes it’s hard to tell) that Staines knew all about it, and even dropped hints. What a guy. He inspires me to drop hints myself from time to time because, as Staines notes here, if you dish it out…]

UPDATE – Hahahahahaha! Great input from Anorak.

UPDATE – Many comments under this ABC article. New Idea gets a repeated kicking.

UPDATE – Staines nearly trips over himself trying to get in on the action.

UPDATE – PM on Radio 4 this afternoon (from 5pm); “Tonight on the programme, we’ll trace the origins of the story. “ Top stuff.

UPDATE – That programme tracked the earliest press mention back to the ever-reliable News Of The World (on June 3, 2007 IIRC). Indigo Red has documented some of the reports that followed that, and it would appear that The Observer also carried an item on that same day. I don’t have confirmation on this, but my gut is telling me that this early coverage (published long before Harry went to Afghanistan) is pre-embargo, and may even have triggered the embargo.








Posted in It's War! It's Legal! It's Lovely!, Old Media, The Political Weblog Movement | 10 Comments