Patrick Ward

Blatantly Bonkers Claims

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The Sun newspaper, champion of balanced reporting (and Tory cheerleader since owner Rupert Murdoch threw his lot in with David Cameron) hit out at the "Blatantly Biased against Conservatives" BBC last month.

The Sun's "exclusive" exposed that Basil Brush, the puppet fox, has been deployed in an attack on the Tories: "BBC2's Basil Brush Show featured nasty 'Dave' [in a school election] complete with blue rosette. He beat nice Rosie, with a purple rosette, by promising free ice cream but was arrested because it was out of date." Can a fox be blamed for fearing a Tory victory?

The police - whose side are they on?

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The brutality with which Greater Manchester Police (GMP) attacked anti-fascists in Bolton last month shocked many.



In the run-up to the 20 March Unite Against Fascism (UAF) counter-protest it could have been anticipated that the English Defence League (EDL) boot-boys would use intimidation and threats. But it wasn't just the fascists who were out to crush their opponents.

Bluster and Bigotry

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"In today's Conservative Party, it seems that it is easier to 'come out' as a homosexual than to come out as a climate sceptic," grumbles Tory MEP and Freedom Association chair Roger Helmer on his "Straight Talking" blog.

Perhaps being homosexual is too easy? "It is outrageous that a bed and breakfast proprietor should be obliged to accommodate under his roof people whose behaviour he regards as offensive and sinful," he foams in another article, gritting his Anglican teeth to agree with Vatican criticism of Labour's equalities legislation. "It is a sad day when it takes a German Pope to correct the errors of an English government."

Don't believe it's true

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Fox News, Hugo Chavez and "tectonic weapons"

"The US apparently possesses an 'earthquake weapon' that set off the catastrophic quake in Haiti and killed 200,000 innocents. Don't believe it's true? Just ask Hugo Chavez."

So reports Fox News, relishing the chance to make Chavez look like a plonker. But the story, which began in Spanish newspaper ABC before being picked up by Fox and then hundreds of other outlets, has nothing to do with him. It is based on an opinion piece about the US and "tectonic weapons" from the Venezuelan state-owned ViVe TV website.

Holy war

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"Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."

That's chapter 8, verse 12 of the book of John in the King James Bible, in case you didn't know. One group of people who will be seeing it a lot are British soldiers stationed in Afghanistan. New rifle gun sights purchased from US firm Trijicon by the Ministry of Defence bear the etched biblical reference "JN8:12".

"As part of our faith and our belief in service to our country, Trijicon has put scripture references on our products for more than two decades," said a company spokesperson.

Google: Searching for profits

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"Google strikes a blow to China's Great Firewall." This gushing headline, from the Guardian, sums up recent press coverage of the internet search giant.

Google created a specific portal for China-based users in 2006, Google.cn, which complied with the country's censorship laws. So, for example, searching for "Tiananmen Square" via Google.cn would retrieve pretty photos of the square as it stands today, with the 1989 massacre stricken from the record.

But following a hack of Google's mail service, Gmail, apparently from somewhere in China, Google decided to stop playing ball, relaxing this censorship. Over the next few hours, thousands of search queries originating from China featured the query "Tiananmen Square 1989".

Unhappy snappers

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"Officers and community support officers are reminded that we should not be stopping and searching people for taking photos," emailed Andy Trotter of British Transport police to fellow chief constables last month.

Just one week later photographer Grant Smith was taking pictures of Christopher Wren's Christ Church when he was joined by three police cars and a riot van, and then searched by seven City of London police.

"One of them even admired my badge which said 'I am a photographer not a terrorist'," Smith told the Guardian, "But they searched my bag for terrorist-related paraphernalia and demanded to know who I was and what I was doing. I refused, saying that I didn't have to tell them, but they said if I didn't they would take me off and physically search me."

Lords-a-leeching

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Proposed reforms of the House of Lords expenses system have run into trouble - the lords aren't happy.

Last month the House discussed a review of peer expenses by the Senior Salaries Review Board, which suggested paying £200 a day to peers who turn up and sign on. This would be on top of £140 a night for peers who live outside London. The new system would cut the nightly allowance given to peers by £35 - but would also increase the daily allowance by £38.50.

Despite the leaders of the three main parties recommending that the House accepts the "architecture and principles" of the review, there are loud grumblings emanating from the backbenches.

Young Tories, old bigots

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Conservative Future members are gearing up for the compassionate conservatism (sic) they hope awaits us.

The recommended blog links on the Tory youth website shows us what the proto City slickers are really thinking.

The Tory Bear blog, for example, refers to one female Labour candidate as "intellectual top totty". Another, Blaney's Blarney, repeatedly refers to the US president as the "Kenyan-American...Barack Hussein Obama". Nothing technically wrong with that, but you can see what Donal Blaney is insinuating.

A Bomb in Every Issue

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Peter Richardson, The New Press, £19.99

When Ramparts first hit the shelves in San Francisco in 1962 as a Catholic literary magazine, the lead articles debated the literary merits of J D Salinger and Tennessee Williams. Its minimalist front cover featured what looked like a white turret against a red background and the back cover carried a white cross. But by 1969 the magazine cover was of a child carrying the Viet Cong flag next to the words, "Alienation is when your country is at war and you want the other side to win" and carried articles by the Black Panthers promoting revolutionary violence.

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