Patrick Ward

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.

George Bush - golf wars

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"I don't want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander in chief playing golf. I feel I owe it to the families to be in solidarity. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal" - George Bush, 15 May 2008.

"Thousands of Americans have given up a lot more than golf for this war. For President Bush to imply that he somehow stands in solidarity with families of American soldiers by giving up golf is disgraceful. It's an insult to all Americans and a slap in the face to our troops' families" - Brandon Friedman, US veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Bush claims he gave up golf on 19 August, 2003, after the attacks on UN personnel in Baghdad, despite news outlets pointing out that they reported on the president golfing well into October.

Either way it's the sacrifice that counts.

Where in the World is Osama bin Laden?

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Director: Morgan Spurlock; Release date: 9 May

Morgan Spurlock's big break was the excellent 2004 film Super Size Me, in which he acted as a human guinea pig, living (only just) on McDonald's fast food. The beauty of that film was that all Spurlock had to do was eat the McRubbish and show how it affected him. Where in the World is Osama bin Laden? uses a similar formula. Spurlock is the everyman who goes on a hunt for the world's most wanted man, ostensibly without any political agenda, hearing what people think about bin Laden, terrorism and the US.

Olympian failure

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When Ken Livingstone lobbied for the 2012 Olympics he argued that the resulting investment was needed desperately by east London, as it had seen none since Victorian times.

Yet the games have received a chorus of damnation in recent weeks. A study by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) thinktank has shown that the regeneration of the East End of London was wishful thinking, at best.

Five-year olds: Innocent until deemed guilty

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It's not just Cumbrian police who are on the ball when it comes to preventative measures in the fight against crime.

Britain's most senior forensics "expert", Gary Pugh, head of Scotland Yard's forensic science department and DNA spokesperson for the Association of Chief Police Officers, has argued that children as young as five should be placed on the DNA database, which currently holds DNA samples of 4.5 million British residents, if they show early signs of criminality. "Some people will grow out of crime; others won't," said the tough talking law enforcer.

Muslims in Cumbria: Guilty until proven innocent

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Cumbria Police sergeant Jonathan Sizer went straight to the top with his plan to halt Al Qaida's Cumbrian terror cells.

He presented Kirkby Lonsdale Town Council with advice for residents hoping to stop Osama bin Laden in his tracks.

Sizer asked locals to report any sightings of "young Asian males" so they can be checked out as "Muslim terrorists".

In a later clarification (due to either the brave boys in blue wishing to cast the net wider, or perhaps the PC brigade striking once more) Sizer's colleague, DCI Lee Johnson of the criminal intelligence department, said that in fact all males spotted should be reported - "extremists do not have to be of a certain appearance".

London: capital's capital

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The City of London has become a tax haven for the super-rich, overseen by Gordon Brown with, alarmingly, no complaints from Mayor Ken Livingstone. Patrick Ward looks at the history and humbug that props up the square mile and leaves neighbouring boroughs cash-starved

The reaction from much of the press to government plans for the City of London's non-domicile super-rich might make you think they were about to hand control of the square mile to the RMT. The outrage from non-domicile fat cats was coupled with threats to leave Britain altogether and for a raft of bizarre claims that London-based capitalists were being driven out of the country.

Osama Likes Obama - According to Fox News

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Back in 2000 Fox News announced George W Bush's "victory" before the results had even finished being counted, leading to the widespread media acceptance that Democratic candidate Al Gore had lost, a result eventually accepted by Gore himself.

As the election heats up this time, over once more to Rupert Murdoch's beacon of trustworthy news, which is answering the question on everyone's minds: "Who does Osama Bin Laden want to be the next president?"

According to a survey on its website: "More people think the terrorist leader wants Obama to win (30 percent) than think he wants Clinton (22 percent) or McCain (10 percent). Another 18 percent says it doesn't matter to Bin Laden and 20 percent are unsure."

Marshall Adame versus Blackwatch

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Marshall Adame, ex-marine and Democrat congressional candidate for North Carolina, has incurred the wrath of mercenary firm Blackwater, whose 7000 acre training facility is based in his constituency.

Adame has worked recently on Iraq's "reconstruction", where he was given protection by the firm. He wrote on a blog about travelling in a Blackwater vehicle which began to fire at passers-by before crashing into civilian cars: "The vehicle in front of us rammed into a car that was trying to get out of the way, and they just spun that guy around. He was out cold in that car, maybe even dead. I don't know, but we just kept on going."

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