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Newspaper Watch

Nigel Farage MEP and the Sunday Times

A report in the Sunday Times today:

THE leader of the eurosceptic United Kingdom Independence party (UKIP) is employing his son as his assistant, using taxpayers’ money, despite the young man being in full-time education.

Nigel Farage’s 19-year-old son Sam is being paid to work for his MEP father through his European Union expenses allowance, despite being a politics student at Exeter University.

Farage’s use of public funds to pay his son is comparable to the case of the disgraced Tory MP Derek Conway, who employed both his sons using parliamentary expenses despite one being a full-time university student.

He is being investigated by Olaf, the EU’s antifraud watchdog.

It could be that this article is not true in each and every particular. Nigel Farage\’s response: 

Statement from Nigel Farage regarding sunday times article, 24th february.

On page 11 of today\’s Sunday Times an article appears under the heading \’Anti Brussels MEP pays son from EU funds\’

1. There is not a single grain of truth in the statement that i am employing my son using EU allowances or in any other capacity.

2. A statement appears saying \’he (N Farage) is being investigated by OLAF, the EU\’s fraud watch dog. This is simply untrue.

3. The article says that a former UKIP regional organiser claimed we are misusing EU funds. It fails to say that this individual lost his case a couple of weeks ago against Mike Nattrass MEP on all counts.

This newspaper has asked ridiculous questions in the part, alleging that I am acting in an illegal manner financially. I am particularly annoyed that my son should be dragged into this and his photograph published without any evidence at all.

I dunno what anyopne has done to piss off Daniel Foggo in the past but he does seem to have form in these allegations against Farage and UKIP. Wonder where he\’s getting his misinformation from?

Newspaper Watch


Veteran British television entertainer Bruce Forsyth celebrates his 80th birthday with Miss Puerto Rico and Miss England

No, really, that\’s the photo and caption above a story about Bruce Forsyth\’s 80 th birthday.

Anybody who gets the dead tree version might want to check and see whether that made it there as well.

I\’m pretty certain that\’s not the right Brucie, anyway: the rug looks far too good.

Ooooh, Polly?

The CBI claims 250,000 jobs would be lost – but service jobs always need doing.

Umm, you\’ve never hard of substituting capital for labour? Being a counter clerk in a bank is a service job. We\’ve a lot fewer of them than we would if we didn\’t have ATMs.

You\’ve failed to understand the most basic point. If agency workers become more expensive (which the application of permanent employment rights would do) then there will be fewer jobs available to agency workers. Might take a litle time to work through the system, but it\’ll definitely happen.

What\’s Wrong With American Newspapers

This John McCain thing, he and the lobbyist. Read this in The New Republic if you\’d like to know what\’s wrong with the American newspaper industry.

Layer upon layer of bureaucracy, months of dithering about whether to publish a story or not.

At the end of it, after all of this carefulness, we still don\’t know either whether he boffed the bird or even whether the reporters think he boffed the bird.

C\’mon guys, get with the program. A little more news and a little less navel gazing please?

I thought this was superb:

She had spent just six months at the Times and recorded only four bylines before accepting an offer to return to her former employer as an editor overseeing the Post\’s accountability coverage of money and politics.

Writing four pieces in 6 months is the workload? Shit, sign me up for that!

Makes me think that there is money to be made in the US newspaper industry. Hack the number of hacks back to something more reasonable, where those employed to deploy words do so, ooooh, now let\’s not be too harsh, say every other day? Better than having someone employed , the justification for said employment being their ability to make words on the screen, putting said words on the screen once every 6 weeks, no?

Polly Today


US sub-prime debt has topped $100bn

I know Polly doesn\’t do finance but really….here it is in full context:

The UK is still at the top of the G7 developed countries for growth, and employment is still rising, with interest rates low and falling. Meanwhile world oil prices have tripled, US sub-prime debt has topped $100bn, and in Germany not one bank but three have had to be taken over by state banks after hitting the rocks.

Wht she means is that the acknowledged losses, the ones that banks have owned up to, are $100 billion. And even that figure is wrong (too low). Sub-Prime is well over a $ trillion. Sigh.

So Labour needs to attract deeper loyalty, better reasons why people should support it –

Anyone got any good ideas? I\’m completely out I\’m afraid.

Ashley Seager: Moron

Please, please, can we get this right?

A properly designed FIT rewards early adaptors, helps kick-start a new industry and creates jobs. The German PV industry added 10,000 jobs last year.

"Creating jobs" is a cost of such schemes, not a benefit. Jebus, why are all the writers on this subject such morons? Have they not learned the very basics yet?


What is this woman for?

The supermarkets may provide an embarrassment of choice, but they do the opposite of educating: they pile their stuff high and sell it cheap, pretending to be the consumer’s friend while lining their pockets courtesy of their customers’ naivety.


Mark Kleinman on the Competition Commission Report

Sorry, but is he reading the same report I was?

Among the mistakes the commission seems to have made is to have virtually neglected the issue of the banks of land built up by supermarkets to prevent rivals from competing.


They identify 886 sites in the landbanks and almost all of these (all except 110) are indeed in the normal process of development.

They specifically and explicityly address this problem. And they find that the vast majority of such sites are there in the landbanks because the planning process takes up to a decade (there are horror stories of even longer) to allow development of a site.

Oh Dear Polly, Oh Dear

She\’s really not got this markets thing, has she?

A story headlined "Homeowners looking to sell" said "Non-dom foreigners living in the UK are preparing to sell their homes", quoting Knight Frank estate agency saying it "could lead to an exodus". But further on, another agent, Chesterton, reports "a record few months" in Knightsbridge.

Umm, if there are a few months of record purchases, this really rather has to mean that there are a few months of record sales. A rise in the number of people selling their homes is in fact entirely consistent with a rise in the number of people, umm, selling their homes so as to leave the country.

A press release from Greek shipowners threatening to depart was printed without a hint of verification.

We\’ve actually had an historical verification: the shipping industry moved from New York to London decades ago because, umm, the Americans changed their tax treatment of the industry and those who own it.

Those looking to the FT for sober evaluation of financial fact would do well to bear in mind the last two disreputable weeks of specious and polemical reporting, which has been overtly Tory propaganda.

As opposed to The Guardian which is what?

None of this solves the £25bn in tax avoidance identified by tax expert Richard Murphy this month in Missing Billions.

Now you\’re really losing it Polly: Our Richard? Tax Expert?

Labour gains a small sum from this, but it has angered the City without heartening any of the 90% basic rate taxpayers,

Jesu C….the 90% of the taxpayers who are basic rate payers not people who are paying a 90% basic rate of tax (although in Polly\’s dreams of course…) but even that\’s wrong.

Using figures buried in an HM Revenue & Customs document, the accountancy firm UHY Hacker Young has calculated that the number of higher-rate taxpayers has risen by 20 per cent since 2002-03, to 3.7 million. At the same time, the number of basic-rate taxpayers has increased by more than 5 per cent, to 23 million.

But much, much more importantly, "Labour" hasn\’t gained a small sum from this. The Treasury has. I know Polly\’s certain that "L\’etat c\’est moi" but that\’s really taking it too far.



Mhmm, Hmmm

Alexander Chancellor:

Unfortunately, it is not only his skin that is thick. Asked by CNN whether he believed that the situation in Iraq was now improving, he replied that he could not answer because this was "almost a university PhD question".

Then, remembering finally what he was in America for, he said, "Now I realise that what keeps us all going is international commerce, it\’s global trade. In some cases, politics keep a lot of people thinking, but what actually makes the world go round is the commerce that goes on." His dismissal of politics as inconsequential in the midst of the most gripping presidential election campaign in years might also have seemed insulting to the US if uttered by anyone else, but Prince Andrew\’s grasp of such matters is clearly so tenuous that it could only have aroused pity.

It is frankly embarrassing that Britain should be represented in any capacity by such a halfwit, and it is inconceivable that Prince Andrew would have been chosen as a trade ambassador for this country had he not been a member of the royal family.

If you\’re going to call someone a halfwit, it helps if you make sure that what they\’re saying is in fact half-witted.

Trade and commerce are indeed vastly more important that which politician sits atop the greasy pole. Vastly so.

Torygraph Headline

Yes, I know, Iain Dale doesn\’t write his own headlines:

For all our sakes, Boris Johnson must win

Someone\’s going a little over the top there aren\’t they? Sure, it would be nice if Boris won, but it\’s hardly a matter of any great import: life will go on, babies will be born, some will shuffle off this mortal coil and the influence of either of them on the bit that comes in between will be highly marginal.

I mean, come on, this is politics: not anything important.

Today\’s News Yesterday

The Times, Feb 11:

Sniffing someone\’s armpits does not sound the most promising start to a date. Research, however, suggests that it will probably turn up a better prospect than either a blind date or gabbling nervously to 20 consecutive strangers. Now a new dating website,, promises a discreet way of letting you nose out potential partners.

Researchers found more than a decade ago – by asking female students to sniff T-shirts worn by men – that ovulating women rate certain male body odours as sexier than others. Crucially, the preferences depended on a certain part of the immune system called the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). Women, it turned out, were bewitched by the odours of men whose MHC genes were most different from their own, and repelled by the aroma of men with similar MHC genes.

The Blog, Jan 14:

No, really, the way to a happy love life is sniffing the t-shirt of your intended date.

The thing is that we are programmed to find attractive those who have an immune system complimentary to our own. And the evidence of such is contained in the pheromones that we throw out in our sweat, meaning that sniffing a t-shirt which has been worn for three days can give us some guidance (ie, whether we like the smell or not) as to whether we would find the person attractive. This is also a reason why those pheromone scents in a bottle don’t in fact work: the opposite sex is looking for subtle scents compatible with their own, rather than a generalised blast of general human hormones.

Slightly spoiled this trimphalism is by noting that we\’re both just lifting the story from The Economist.

Well, yes….

Michelle Obama: Barack\’s powerful weapon

OK, so the headline refers to his wife being a great political asset. But you do think the wording could have been a little different, eh? It can be read (and as my inner 11 year old boy did read it at first) it\’s the man\’s wife talking about his, well, you know the playground rumours about….

There\’s no polite way to allude to it, is there, which is rather why the headline might have been better phrased.

Newspaper Watch

Potent variety

— Skunk is a type of cannabis containing two or three times the normal amount of THC, the active ingredient

— It is named after its strong smell

— The maximum penalty for possession is two years in prison plus an unlimited fine, although police are more likely to let first-time offenders off with a warning

— The maximum penalty for supply of skunk is 14 years in prison plus an unlimited fine

— Skunk costs about £200 per ounce

— There is evidence that skunk can trigger mental health problems, such as schizophrenia. It can also lower sperm count in men and suppress ovulation in women

Source: Frank

Really? The Times is using the Government\’s propaganda site as a source of impartial information?

Well, that was my first reaction. Having actually read their entry on cannabis I have to admit that it\’s not quite as bad as it used to be.

There’s also increasing evidence of a link between cannabis and mental health problems such as schizophrenia. If you’ve a history of mental health problems, depression or are experiencing paranoia, then taking this drug is not a good idea.

That\’s pretty much as I understand matters: not so much that pot *causes* schizophrenia, but that it may exacerbate pre-existing conditions.

Guardian Giggle of the Day


No reason, no global warning, just, you know, you don\’t want to end up like Lot, do you?


By the way, Zoe, it was Lot`s wife who was turned into a pillar of salt. Lot escaped the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Doesn`t sound all that bad to me as a fate. Or are you warning us about the dangers of sexual perversion?

Et Tu?

Times Leader:

These wilderness areas have remained relatively untouched until now, because of the enormous cost involved in extracting oil from them. But a combination of higher oil prices, new technology and American demand has made them profitable.

Please lads, look up the word "fungible". It isn\’t American demand driving the exploitation of tar sands. It\’s global demand.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has already declared that California will not import fuel whose production generates too many greenhouse gases over its life cycle, thus ruling out the use of tar sands oil.

Again, please look up the word "fungible". It doesn\’t actually matter what Arnie says. If traditional oil goes to California then others will consume the crude from tar sands. Doesn\’t make any damn difference at all.

The Canadian Goverment has refused to cap production. It will not clamp down on this lucrative trade unless the US, its main trading partner, changes its tune. The next president must make this a priority.

Can I recommend the word "fungible" again?

Tsk, Subs, Subs…

It\’s clearly and obviously wrong:

Gunvor, which now has a $30bn (£15m) turnover.

Yes, I know, it\’s just a typo, but it\’s one that the subs and proof readers should get. To the even marginally numerate it\’s jarring to see it.