Fast Moving

No, I’m not talking about my cycling ability nor my running skills. I’m not even talking about the curry I had earlier today.

I’m thinking of the News International Phone Hacking affair. This week we have had several people arrested, Rebecca Brooks (husband beater) resigning at last from her role at News International and then today being arrested – shame.

This evening comes the news that Sir Paul Stephenson the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police has also resigned.

The story moves on so fast. first it was about hacking a royal mobile phone and 2 News of the World employees were jailed. Then it turned out celebrities phones had been hacked.

Then the most shocking hacking was that the mobile phone of murder victim Milly Dowler had been hacked whilst she was still a missing person and incredibly the NotW employed personnel had deleted messages off the phone. Quite what the NotW staff thought they were doing is beyond me. Hacking phones is one thing, destroying potential evidence in what turned out to be a murder case is another thing. It may even provide Levi Bellfield with grounds for an appeal against his conviction.

Then we learn the NotW had been hacking into the phones of relatives of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and iraq. Could it get any more appalling?

Then we learn that the NotW had been bribing police officers to give them phone numbers and contact details of people. This included members of the Royal Protection Squad selling or being asked to sell the contact details of the Royal family and their phone details. Incredible!

Then we learn that NotW had tried to get access to the mobile phones etc of the British victims of 9/11. This may well prove to be the most damaging thing to the business interests of the Murdoch family. The US authorities are unlikely to take this too well. There could easily end up being prison sentences and very punitive punishments in the US for this.

To try to limit the fall out from this, Rupert Murdoch has taken out adverts in all newspapers trying to apologise. The apology is a load of nonsense and indeed, the picture below is probably a better interpretation of the apology.

x2_731a58e

Where will this story end?

It seems that every time we think it can’t get any worse, even more unpleasant allegations come out.

One name that gets mentioned regularly in this, but perhaps not as prominently as it should is Andy Hayman. This obnoxious and unpleasant character was in charge of the first investigation into the NotW. This was the officer who failed to investigate properly the evidence in the case. This is the same officer who, lets not forget resigned from the Metropolitan police over dodgy expense claims (which were not investigated properly) and then went to work for… yes you’ve guessed it, News International.

Am I being unfair on Andy Hayman? I don’t think so – look at his clip of him being asked a simple question before the Parliamentary Select Committee investigating this matter.

His protestations are grossly over the top. I will imagine he asked suspects questions far more offensive and in a far more assertive manner when he was a police officer. A simply answer of “No” would have sufficed,

He was appearing before a committee investigating payments to the police by the NotW. Did he not expect to be asked such questions? If he didn’t then I would question his ability in planning and his ability as a police officer.

Now, you will note that he was clear he had not received any payments from the NotW. Look at the enclosed document released under Freedom of Information by the Metropolitan Police

.Hayman & Payments from News International

He might not have directly received bundles of £notes, but he was dined regularly by the News International group. Is there any difference between him getting £100 in cash and used it to pay for a meal or he had the £100 meal paid for. The end result is the same, he was £100 better off than before.

The fact he immediately went to work for News International after resigning from the police tells you something about how cosy his relationship with News International was.

Th politicians are themselves squirming about this. David Cameron has egg on his face after employing former NotW editor Andy Coulson as his press officer. Coulson now having been arrested over this. Cameron also had a close relationship with Rebecca Brooks and News International.

So, you would expect that Labour are reaping the rewards. Well, they would except Labour in the form of Ed Miliband also have close links with News International, as did previous Labour politicians. Gordon Brown accused the Sun of hacking his phone, despite the information coming from a legitimate source and the fact the story (re his son’s health) was published years ago and Brown never complained then or at any time since. A liar and a poor one at that.

However, the best Labour could do about this was Yvette Cooper a minister in the Last labour government ( remember Labour were in power 1997 –2010) demanding to know of David Cameron why this scandal wasn’t investigated properly earlier. Hmmm Yvette dear, look again at the dates of the allegations and you will find you and Labour were in power. Was that shot gun just discharged into your foot?

Respect Again

Since my last post, typed on Thursday night, so much has happened that makes me visit the issue of respect again. Ok, well actually some of it was things that happened before my last post but I forgot to blog about them then.

Are we responsible? I would suggest we are.

News of The World

Well, today was the final issue of the paper. Some say it was a cynical decision by Rupert Murdoch to close the paper to try to save his proposed take over of BSkyB. They would say that the fact that News International registered last Tuesday, the website www.sunonsunday.co.uk  shows that it was a cynical attempt to hoodwink the public. The fact this website was registered before the decision to close the News of the World (NotW) seems to support that view.

The final edition of the NotW seems to fail to make any mention of the wrong doing, but instead seems to suggest the NotW is the saviour of the world.

“The World’s Greatest Newspaper 1843-2011”

Hmm, wonder what the criteria are for being called the World’s greatest? Clearly committing criminal offences and bribing police officers assist.

“Thank you and goodbye, After 168 years, we finally say a sad but very proud farewell to our 7.5m loyal readers”

A proud farewell? How can you be proud after being closed down after widespread criminal activity including phone hacking, bribery, perverting the course of justice etc has apparently come to life. To be proud in such circumstances is like a murderer saying he is proud of his activities after being convicted but before sentence when asked by the judge if he has anything to say.

“We recorded history and we’ve made history”

Well this boast is certainly true. I can’t recall any newspaper being closed down in the UK as a result of criminal activity on the part of its management and employees.

“We’ve made a better world”

A better world? Well if your idea of a better world is a one of criminal activity and bribery of police officers, then it may be true.

“News of the World proved it is a force for good”

Hmmm, a force for good? So is good committing serious criminal acts and perverting the course of justice?

Then we could turn to the dirty digger himself, Rupert Murdoch, the head of the News Corporation criminal empire. A crime syndicate? I couldn’t possible comment on that. He arrived in the UK today, trying to sneak in by the back door- arriving at Luton Airport rather than Heathrow Airport. When asked by reporters today what his priority was,  he said it was Rebecca Brooks.

LONDON | Sun Jul 10, 2011 1:40pm EDT

LONDON (Reuters) – News Corp Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch exited his London home on Sunday with his arm around embattled newspaper chief Rebekah Brooks, and told Reuters that she was his first priority.

Murdoch, who flew into Britain earlier on Sunday to deal with an escalating phone-hacking scandal at his News of the World tabloid that Brooks used to edit, answered: “This one,” gesturing at Brooks, when asked what his first priority was.

The two, both smiling, then went into the Stafford hotel opposite Murdoch’s apartment in the upmarket Mayfair area of London

Reuters Story

So Murdoch’s priority is the person who was editor of the paper at the time the criminal activities are believed to have commenced. The person who either knew of the crimes, or as boss should have known of the crimes.

So, he’s not concerned with the several hundred innocent NotW employees who have been sacked through the activities she allowed to continue or even encouraged as editor of the paper.

He’s not concerned with the distress his employees caused to the family of Milly Dowler by interfering with her voicemails and giving the family false belief their daughter may have been alive, not to mention potentially destroying evidence in that murder case.

No concern for the parents of the Soham two or concerns for the families of war dead who all had their phones hacked.

Respect? Murdoch wouldn’t know it if it hit him in the face.

The matter gets even worse today, with the following story from the BBC website.

News International found ‘smoking gun’ e-mails in 2007

News International found e-mails in 2007 that appeared to indicate that payments were being made to the police for information, although this evidence of alleged criminal behaviour was not handed to the Metropolitan Police for investigation until 20 June of this year.

According to sources, these e-mails were in the possession of the firm of solicitors, Harbottle & Lewis.

BBC News Story

So, what are we to make of this? News International executives knew 4 years ago of the extent of this criminal activity of hacking and also the payments to corrupt police officers. Hardly seems to be the activities of a rogue reporter now does it?

Other Media Outlets?

I for one am cynical of those who claim it was only News International titles that were responsible for crimes of this nature. I suspect that NotW are the unlucky ones that have been caught. They have over the years upset many powerful people by exposing wrongdoing at high levels. There are many who are no doubt delighting in trying to bring down NotW and News International as a result.

I have no evidence to suggest any other media outlets are involved in similar activities, but I would be surprised if they were not.

I regularly, when mitigating on behalf of clients used to point out to the court that they are having to deal with the offender because he got caught, not because he had committed an offence. You are only ever punished if you get caught.

Watergate?

Those of you either old enough to remember or know modern US history will know about the Watergate Scandal that brought down Richard Nixon’s presidency in 1972. One of the two reporters who brave investigative journalism exposed the criminal activity of Richard Nixon and his presidency was Carl Bernstein. His thought’s on this affair are quite interesting and I make no apology for qouting them below.

‘MURDOCH’S WATERGATE’: CARL BERNSTEIN ON PHONE HACKING

The following paragraphs are excerpts from Carl Woodward’s article on the phone hacking scandal for Newsweek

‘Private detectives and phone hackers do not become the primary sources of a newspaper’s information without the tacit knowledge and approval of the people at the top, all the more so in the case of newspapers owned by Rupert Murdoch, according to those who know him best.’

‘For this reporter, it is impossible not to consider these facts through the prism of Watergate. When Bob Woodward and I came up against difficult ethical questions, such as whether to approach grand jurors for information (which we did, and perhaps shouldn’t have), we sought executive editor Ben Bradlee’s counsel, and he in turn called in the company lawyers, who gave the go-ahead and outlined the legal issues in full. Publisher Katharine Graham was informed. Likewise, Bradlee was aware when I obtained private telephone and credit-card records of one of the Watergate figures.’

‘Then there’s the other inevitable Watergate comparison. The circumstances of the alleged law-breaking within News Corp. suggest more than a passing resemblance to Richard Nixon presiding over a criminal conspiracy in which he insulated himself from specific knowledge of numerous individual criminal acts while being himself responsible for and authorizing general policies that routinely resulted in law-breaking and unconstitutional conduct. Not to mention his role in the cover-up. It will remain for British authorities and, presumably, disgusted and/or legally squeezed News Corp. executives and editors to reveal exactly where the rot came from at News of the World, and whether Rupert Murdoch enabled, approved, or opposed the obvious corruption that infected his underlings.’

Carl Bernstein Writes

Are We To Blame As Well?

So, how did we end up here? Well, it was investigative journalism from The Guardian that kept this matter coming back to the public attention, but its more than that.

We as a society have lapped up the celebrity bilge and prying into people’s grief etc. by buying the red top rags like the NotW and glossy magazines like Hello and OK. If we refused to buy their tat, then they would either have to change their content or rapidly go out of business. So to that extent we are to blame.

We as a society have repeatedly turned a blind eye to criminal activity or even anti social behaviour by the media in our desire for tittle tattle. Remember after Diana died and all the media said they wouldn’t buy paparazzi photos. That lasted all of what? a week?

We have to take some responsibility for the intrusive journalism and the ever increasing demands for personal information. If we didn’t pay to read such stuff, the media would not survive if it published it.

We all need to look at how our activities affect others, both those immediately around us and the wider society.

An Apt Song

 

Whilst all the media and public attention is focussed on the NotW story, there is a human crisis of unimaginable proportions developing in the Horn of Africa. It has hardly been mentioned by the media or the world at large. It is said to be a potentially worse famine than in Ethiopia in 1984. You will recall that famine resulted in the Band aid single and the Live Aid Concerts to raise monies to try to help the starving.

This time, the appeal launched by the Disasters Emergency Committee has hardly had a mention. Instead people are focussed on who has been listening in to who’s phone. Now, I am ordinarily a big believer in charity beginning at home and would rather donate to causes in the UK than abroad, BUT I find it incredible we are ignoring this crisis in Africa in favour of more tittle tattle about who has been listening to who’s phone.

Both stories are important and deserve consideration. However, one story is strangling the other story from our attention.

DEC aims to help prevent East Africa Crisis becoming a catastrophe

The DEC today (Sunday) set out the reasons it feared that the current crisis in East Africa would become a catastrophe without a substantially greater international intervention.

The umbrella body representing the UK’s 14 leading aid agencies explicitly rejected suggestions that aid agencies were ’crying wolf’ and said instead that they were right to raise the alarm before the current crisis deepened.

It cited the following indicators that the current situation was far more serious than the frequent seasonal droughts in the region:

• In some areas the drought is the worst in 60 years according to an analysis by FEWSNET.

• More than 10 million people have been affected across a wide area of East Africa.

• Acute malnutrition (GAM) has reached 37% in some parts of north east Kenya, double the 15 % emergency threshold.

• Child refugees from Somalia are dying of causes related to malnutrition either during the journey or very shortly after arrival.

• Prices of essential food items have skyrocketed, in some cases more than doubling as the price of the cattle that people are selling to buy grain falls sharply.

• The number of refugees fleeing from Somalia has increased significantly with 1,700 a day arriving in Ethiopia and 1,400 a day arriving in Dadaab in Kenya.

Disasters Emergency Committee Chief Executive Brendan Gormley said:

“The accusation that aid agencies are crying wolf when we try to raise the alarm early enough to avert a major catastrophe has become wholly predictable. We accept the need to present our evidence and justify our conclusions. All we ask is the opportunity to do so.”

“If the public are as generous as we know they can be, if world government’s step up and if our members and others rapidly increase their responses then a catastrophe can still be averted. If that is the outcome we accept that part of the price will be that many commentators will ask whether there was ever really a crisis at all.”

DEC member agencies recognise that long term solutions are needed to address the underlying vulnerability of many pastoralists in the horn of Africa and in many cases they are working to try to deliver these changes. However we are now facing a critical situation which could spiral out of control unless funds are received to support emergency operations.

Donations can be made at http://www.dec.org.uk/”>www.dec.org.uk by phone 0370 60 60 900 or by texting ‘CRISIS’ to 70000 to donate £5 or by post at PO Box 999 London EC3A 3AA.

Money from this appeal will be used to help people survive and rebuild their lives.

• £25 will provide safe drinking water for around 400 people

• £50 will provide vaccinations for 2,000 children

• £100 will provide emergency food parcels to feed 100 families in Kenya and Somalia.

DEC Appeal

Respect

Time for yet another post in my blog. I thought I’d touch on the subject of respect both for yourself and for others.

Now I could write about the disgraceful drunken states couples in their 8th decade get into when on day trips to York. Its hardly showing respect for themselves is it? Its ok though Mum & Dad, I won’t tell anyone about you coming to York, getting rather drunk and making new friends with that poor couple half your age who were just out for a romantic night. no Dad, Claire didn’t fancy you. She is young enough to be your granddaughter! So you can relax, your secret is safe.

I travelled on the train back from York today. I sat in first class as I’m a snob (ok, I was on a cheap ticket. The female sat at a nearby table received a phone call and proceeded to have a loud conversation for several minutes about nothing of any significance or importance. She made no attempt to keep her voice down or to keep the call short by suggesting to call back after she was off the train.

Now, I was brought up to be considerate of others and to have respect for the privacy of others on a quiet train. I always leave a room or on a train go into the vestibule if I am to have a chat on the phone. This is not because I want privacy, but is out of consideration and respect for others. It struck me how little respect people have for others these days.

Go into your local Asian run corner shop and the person behind the counter is likely to be talking on the phone. Very often they carry on the conversation whilst serving you, only pausing the call long enough to tell you the cost of your purchases. Not really a lot of respect shown there is there?

How about the pedestrian who just walks out into the road. No, not the one who didn’t look, that is bad enough. I’m referring to the ones who know the traffic is coming, but walk out, often at junctions when the red light is showing and expecting/ forcing the traffic to stop for them. Selfish behaviour and not showing any respect for others is it. The same can be said about cyclists who career on through red lights forcing other traffic or pedestrians to get out of their way.

On a slightly different level, the motorist who fails to acknowledge that you have stopped to let him/ her through the narrow gap. They again are not showing any respect.

There are so many other examples not just traffic related that I could make reference to here. How about the person who plays there music so loud that everyone else is obliged to listen to it, whether its so loud everyone on the tube/ train is subjected to your ipod music, or every other car and passers by have to listen to your car stereo etc. They all have at least one thing in common. That is that it would take very little effort on the part of the person to show the other(s ) some respect. however, it seems that these days its all about the individual and that society and consideration or respect for others has ceased to exist.

In the Summertime

Well that’s two successive weekends of good weather we’ve had in the North East. That will be the end of summer then.

Already, we are nearly 1/13th of the way from the longest to the shortest day. Nights are drawing in & days are getting shorter. I have already got the winter lights on my bike.

Ungrateful?
I bought a ticket for the weekend’s Euromillions lottery. The jackpot was circa £140million. When talking with M about what I would spend any winnings on, I said I would buy her a wheel trim to replace the one she is missing on her car. Generous & thoughtful of me? Well I thought so, but I am not sure M agreed. I am assuming the swearing & the plates whizzing past my head were indications of her rejection of my kind gesture.

How ungrateful some women are!

Choices
Every go shopping & find yourself tempted to buy extra items because of a multibuy deal? I’m sure you all like a bargain as much as I do.

Yesterday my jet set lifestyle took me to Asda (Walmart) to buy some Fairy washing up liquid. It was £1 for a single bottle but there was a multibuy special @ £2.50 for 2 bottles!

Sometimes the generosity of these stores is incredible & they tempt you into buying more than you intended- I said sometimes!

Hypocritical?
No, not me, I know I am.

It is almost exactly since Raoul Moat shot his ex girlfriend, murdered her new partner, then shot & blinded PC David Rathband before eventually killing himself after a siege/ stand off in Rothbury in Northumberland.

This tragic turn of events has put the little town of Rothbury on the tourist map & has brought numerous extra visitors to Rothbury & as a result put a lot of money into the local economy.

Now the same locals who are willing to take the tourists money in their shops, pubs & restaurants are complaining that people come to visit where Raul Moat ended his life, branding them ghoulish.

Their complaints would be listened to more sympathetically if they were not acting in a hypocritical way & happy to take the cash from these visitors.

Revolting?
237 or so years ago, a group started terrorist attacks against the government & escalated that from terrorist attacks to all out war. The terrorists even formed alliances with those enemies of the government.

No, we are not talking about the Irish revolt and the IRA dealings with Libya. Nor are we talking about events involving Al Quaeda.

The terrorists & treason plotters eventually made a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI)!

Today, there is a world wide celebration of these terrorists. Happy Independence Day to the USA & all its citizen’s.

Football is Back

Wacko Mohammed

Wacko Mohammed

After the lengthy summer recess, football is back. The 2011-2012 Europa Cup campaign kicked off last night. Yes 30th June! – before schools have broken up for summer, even before England have lost a Test Match & we are starting the new season.

I took the opportunity to watch Premiership Fulham beat a team that would be lucky to survive in Blue Square North (level 6).

Why did I go? Well partly because it was cheap – £5 and partly to see friends. I expected it to be like old times watching Fulham play in front of 3men & a dog, but was surprised to find a crowd of 14,910 there. (No, I did not count them all!)

The game was played on a very humid night & the sun was still shining until nearly full time. It was perfect weather for a few beers, but as this was a European game, no alcohol was allowed to be sold. 😦

The game itself showed that Fulham had only started pre season training this week. The fitness levels were not the best. Fulham won without ever getting out of 1st gear.

A noteable exception to the above was the performance of Bobby Zamora who picked up where he left off last season. As the song goes:
When the ball hits your head
& you are sitting in row Z
That’s Zamora
He has lost none of his ability for missing the goal.

The good things for Fulham were no injuries, bookings or goals conceeded.

The good think for me was it was football & its back.

The bad thing was it takes nearly 2 hours to get home from Putney Bridge. 2-3 tubes, a train & 2x20minute walks 😦

The ugly was not seeing Lee, but was seeing that statue of Michael Jackson on the back of the Riverside Stand. Why? What’s it got to do with Fulham?

Well where is next game?