Patrick Ward

Against the Wall

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William Parry, Pluto Press, £15

In December 2007 street artist Banksy and the Pictures on Walls organisation travelled to the West Bank in Palestine as a venue for their annual "squat art concept store", Santa's Grotto.

They brought with them 14 other street artists from around the world. In bringing their usually London-based exhibition to Palestine they forced art collectors to see the truth behind what was happening in the occupied territory.

BP's sponsored leak

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BP may not have been able to plug the oil leak from the Deepwater Horizon disaster, but it's good at plugging its own brand.

Try a search on Google or Yahoo for the terms "oil spill" or "oil disaster" and you will see a sponsored link at the top of the page referring you to BP's website. The disgraced oil giant paid an undisclosed amount for the privilege. Following the link shows you photographs of people who appear very happy to be victims of the spill, and since the pictures of the clean-up are entirely oil free perhaps that is no surprise.

It's a fair cop, YouGov

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Online polling company YouGov has become a staple for much of the media, but how reliable is it?

One survey for the Sunday Times on 13 June asked this question of participants: "Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? The government could save billions of pounds by eliminating unnecessary 'non-jobs' in the public sector." Perhaps unsurprisingly, 85 percent of those polled agreed, no doubt to the joy of the Con-Dem cutters.

In that spirit, here is my own question: YouGov founder and CEO, Stephan Shakespeare, is an ex Tory election candidate and owner of the ConservativeHome website. Could that potentially lead to a lack of neutrality?

The Killer Inside Me

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Director: Michael Winterbottom; Release date: 4 June

Michael Winterbottom's latest film has divided critics. After its screening at the Sundance film festival the first question from an audience member to the director was, "How dare you? How dare Sundance?" Others disagree, with Empire magazine calling it "Winterbottom's career best".

Rubbish insult

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The coalition government hasn't wasted time in getting down to business.

Tory schools minister Nick Gibb was especially quick off the mark, managing to insult both school teachers and university lecturers after just three days in the job.

Gibb told Department for Education officials that he "would rather have a physics graduate from Oxbridge without a PGCE teaching in a school than a physics graduate from one of the rubbish universities with a PGCE".

David Cameron obviously thinks that Gibb himself has perfect credentials to run our schools, having previously worked for both NatWest and consultancy company KPMG.

Slick cover-up

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In the wake of the BP oil spill into the Gulf of Mexico, Barack Obama poured scorn on the "cosy relationship" between Washington and the oil industry.

Some weren't impressed. "I think one of the risks associated with his rhetoric on the spill is that it hardens the divide between the Democratic Party and the business community," said David Rothkopf, a former commerce department official under Bill Clinton. "And that's something that while it seems to be in the spirit of the moment now, could have serious ramifications come election time."

But business and government appear to be working together as well as ever, aside from the rhetoric.

Four Lions

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Director: Chris Morris; Release date: 7 May

Four Lions tells the farcical tale of a group of suicide bombers in Britain. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it wasn't an easy film to have made. Both Channel 4 and the BBC refused to touch it.

Regenerating profits

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"We must never include a product or service in sound or vision in return for cash, services or any consideration in kind," says the BBC's website. "This is product placement."

But there are other ways to ensure that editorial content is profitable, especially important at a time of recession and managerial hotel expenses.

Cue the return of Doctor Who. According to Private Eye magazine, BBC Worldwide, the corporation's commercial wing, suggested that there might be extra, vitally needed funding for the show in return for new merchandising opportunities.

Clear as ash

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"The planes are back in the air. And it's not a minute too soon," grumbled the Daily Star's editorial on 22 April, after ash from the Eyjafjallajökull volcano grounded flights.

"This whole mess has cost airlines alone £1.1 billion... It's clear ministers were far too cautious with their blanket flight ban. Air experts say it was 'another example of health and safety gone mad'."

What could possibly have gone wrong if flights hadn't been cancelled? I'm no "air expert", but there might always have been "TERROR AS PLANE HITS ASH CLOUD". For this was the Daily Star's front page "exclusive" the day before, over a photo of a Boeing 747 with flaming engines, and the subhead, "Dramatic pictures as jets get OK to defy volcano."

Vandalise this!

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After the ridicule prompted by David Cameron's giant airbrushed face telling us, "I'll cut the deficit, not the NHS", and "ordinary voters" telling us, "I've never voted Tory before, but..." the Tories have rethought their election poster campaign - looking for something that Photoshop and spray paint won't tarnish so easily.

Lord Saatchi, responsible for the "Labour isn't working" posters of 1979, is back with the Tories. The new posters feature Gordon Brown's smiling face with statements like, "I increased the gap between rich and poor. Vote for me." The Conservative Party website address is written in a small typeface below.

Perhaps they realise that, while people might be persuaded not to vote Labour, encouraging people to vote Tory is easier said than done.

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