Patrick Ward

Sky: Broken news

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The speed at which the Georgia-Russia conflict erupted forced media outlets to provide background facts rapidly and accurately.

Luckily, the Sky News website had a briefing ready to fill in the blanks: "Georgia was one of the 13 colonies that revolted against British rule in the American Revolution," it began, ending with, "Information provided by Wikipedia. Sky News takes no responsibility for its accuracy."

Police: Task force farce

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"I don't know what I'm going to tell the landlord. The door is off its hinges and there is a big hole in it," said Oldham resident Aaron West following a police raid on his home for someone else.

Aaron, his partner Leeane and their two year old son, who have lived in the property for just 11 weeks, received an extra surprise in the kitchen: "My fridge magnets had been rearranged to spell out 'OLDHAM TASK FORCE CALLED'."

We already know that modern policing has little time for paperwork, but Sergeant Mike Peake wanted to set the record straight: "Mr West visited the police station and I explained, in detail, the reasons for our entry into his home and advised him that the procedure to obtain compensation for his door was to write to the chief constable.

Drugs: prescription for change

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Julian Critchley, former director of the Cabinet Office Anti-Drug Co-ordination Unit, argued last month that Britain's drugs policy "doesn't work, cannot work, because we have no way of controlling the supply of drugs".

Critchley now claims not only that all drugs should be legalised, but that the majority of professionals in government, police, the NHS and charities share this view. "Yet publicly, all those intelligent, knowledgeable people were forced to repeat the nonsensical mantra that the government would be 'tough on drugs', even though they all knew that the government's policy was actually causing harm."

Cass

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Director: Jon S Baird; Release date: 1 August

While there is nothing to be celebrated in groups of working class men beating the hell out of one another in the football club firms of the 1980s, Cass offers a view beyond the tabloid screams about broken society, poor parenting and demands for brutal retribution on those involved.

Interview: Moazzam Begg: Operation end your freedom

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As Labour imposes more draconian legislation, Patrick Ward asks former Guantanamo detainee Moazzam Begg for his views on civil liberties today

The government won the House of Commons vote to extend detention without trial to 42 days. What do you think about this attack on civil liberties?

It's important to remember that the government didn't want 42 days - they wanted 90 days and they've settled for less than half of that. What's really bizarre for me is that I was at the protest close to Downing Street when George Bush visited and I actually caught a glimpse of him.

Tom Harris: don't worry. Be happy

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Department for Transport minister Tom Harris appears at a loss as to why people insist on being miserable under his government.

On his blog (tomcharris.wordpress.com) he notes, "In our own country today, despite the recent credit squeeze, our citizens have never been so wealthy... Whatever the latest technological innovation, most people can treat themselves to it. Eating out - a rare treat when I was a child in the 1970s - is as commonplace as going shopping."

The DUP: still saving Ulster

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After helping Gordon Brown secure the recent Commons vote on 42-day detention without trial, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) seems to wish to be known as the party that just keeps giving.

Iris Robinson, wife of Northern Ireland first minister Peter Robinson, has offered to help gay people "cure" their "abomination" of a condition.

Robinson made her offer on local radio, after a report by a young gay man about a violent campaign of homophobia which had driven him from his home.

Ian Paisley may have gone, but his long fought campaign to "Save Ulster from Sodomy" seems alive and well in the DUP.

Louise Casey is tired of human rights

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The increasing media obsession with the rate of crime in Britain has led to another draconian gem from New Labour's former "respect tsar", Louise Casey.

In the government-commissioned "Engaging Communities in Fighting Crime" report Casey argues, among other things, that people doing community service should have the added shame of wearing high visibility jackets stating that they are being punished. She also argues that websites, leaflets, posters and public meetings should be used to name and shame those guilty of crimes such as vandalism and tell people what their punishment will be. She also suggests giving community support officers the power to detain and fine people - a bit like budget versions of Judge Dredd.

Politics Noir

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Edited by Gary Phillips, Verso, £8.99

Presidential candidates organising the elimination of their opponents via the barrel of a gun; holier than thou politicians burying sexual indiscretions through threat and counter-threat; and plenty of photograph-stuffed brown envelopes - beneath the thin veneer of what the US political elite have themselves termed morally acceptable, lie the selfish, corrupt and entrenched who force their values upon the poor, both at home and abroad.

Tory pick and choose

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In 1989 Westminster Council voted to expel homeless families from the borough's hostels. They were transferred to asbestos-ridden tower blocks in a safe Labour ward, often without heating or sanitation systems.

This was part of Westminster's "building stable communities" plan, which pumped investment into marginal wards in order to secure Tory votes while removing groups traditionally thought to vote Labour (such as the homeless, nurses and students).

It became known as the "homes for votes" scandal, described by a previous council leader as "simply criminal".

One pioneer of all this was council leader Sir Simon Milton. With such experience, his newly appointed position seems obvious: Boris Johnson's lead adviser for planning and housing.

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