Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Prisoner Lives In Camden Town Selling Revolution

Yer actual Neil Gaiman his very self has suggested that he is keen to write another Doctor Who episode. The author told Doctor Who Online that he is eager to contribute a third script, following his 2011 debut, the acclaimed, award-winning The Doctor's Wife and 2013's rather less highly-regarded Nightmare in Silver. 'Absolutely, [I'd like to write another],' Neil told the website. 'I don't want to be coy! They would like to have me [and] I would like to do more. The only problem I'm having right now is the time that I probably would've spent writing a Doctor Who script this year suddenly got eaten by going on [a book] tour.' Yer man Gaiman said that he would love to write for Peter Capaldi's forthcoming Doctor, but added that he is currently uncertain if his next proposed episode would be part of Doctor Who's eighth series or in a subsequent one. 'I would love to write an episode for season eight, it may well be that I'm over in season nine, but I promise I haven't gone away,' he insisted. 'The idea of writing for Peter Capaldi's Doctor is one that I find so thrilling and exciting.' Luther creator Neil Cross recently confirmed that he is writing an episode for Doctor Who's eighth series, which will be broadcast in 2014.

The Big Brother final brought almost two million sad crushed victims of society with nothing better to do with their time or intellect to Channel Five on Monday, overnight data suggests. Which is, frankly, a damning indictment on Britain the Twenty First Century, dear blog reader. We are all scum now. Emma Willis announced the runners-up to an audience of 1.99 million at 9pm. Sam Evans's victory brought in 1.67m at 11pm. This is up from last year's final, which was seen by one and a half million punters. In-between the two episodes, Under the Dome premiered to a decent score of 1.84m at 10pm on what was something of triumphant night for Five. On BBC2, a repeat of Death In Paradise interested 3.08m at 9pm. BBC2's University Challengehad an audience of 2.52m at 8pm, followed by the new cooking series The Incredible Spice Men with 1.47m at 8.30pm. Still, there was some good news in terms of the truly appalling ratings that ITV had during primetime. You've Been Framed was watched by 2.25m at 8pm, while Natasha Kaplinsky's The People's Medal appealed to a risibly low 1.52m at 9pm. It was beaten in the 9pm hour by not only BBC1 and Channel Five but, also Channel Four's Benefits Britain 1949 which gathered 1.56m. Gordon Ramsay's Hotel Hell was seen by 1.11m at 10pm.

So anyway, dear blog reader, in case you haven't heard (and, if you haven't, what planet exactly have you been living on for the last twenty four hours?) the government, or the American government, or the security services, or the American security services, or the police, or a combination of some or all of the above, have been really jolly beastly to the boyfriend of a Gruniad journalist who specialises in investigative stories about official nefarious skulduggery. They acted, to be frank, like an overgrown school bully and ought to be sodding well ashamed of themselves. Not least, because they've managed the almost impossible and made this blogger - who loathes the Gruniad and everything it stands for almost as much as he loathes the Daily Scum Mail - feel, briefly, sorry for the Gruniad. Or, at least, he would have done if they had acted with a bit more dignity instead of displaying their usual combination of high dudgeon, self-importance and wallowing in their own celebrating of victim culture. So, for all your Gruniadistas out there, here's a song for you. For the bitter old Reds, still gloriously pissed off that it isn't the Swinging Sixties any more, there's this version. For the now-fiftysomething middle class rebels without a clue, there's this. And, for the current load of Gruniadistas sipping their frappaccinos in frothing outrage in a cafe in Camden, there's this one. Don't let the bastards grind you down, guys.
Using section seven of the Terrorism Act to detain the partner of a Gruniad Morning Star reporter - one who had covered a series of articles about the US and UK security services - was 'legally sound', according to Scotland Yard. If not, necessarily, by anybody else. The filth was responding to claims that they had misused their powers by holding David Miranda for nine hours at Heathrow on Sunday. The UK's reviewer of terror laws has said the length of detention was 'unusual' and will meet police later to discuss the matter. And, presumably, find out what the frig they thought they were playing at. Meanwhile, the Gruniad's editor has claimed that 'leaked information it held' was destroyed following government demands. Downing Street said that it 'would not comment' on the allegations by the editor, Alan Runtbudgie. Except, seemingly, to comment that they would not comment. If you see what I mean. To be honest, dear blog reader, if I was prime minister I'd created a special squad to go round to Runtbudgie's gaff and give the odious specky little weasel a damned good kicking on general principle. Which, in and of itself, is probably one very good reason why you should never vote for yer actual Keith Telly Topping, his very self. I'd be a menace to society, so I would. Anyway, enough of this blogger's lack of political ambition; the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, David Anderson QC, will meet police for 'an urgent briefing' on 'just what the frig is going on?' He, and several senior British politicians of all parties, have called on police to explain exactly why Miranda was detained. The Brazilian was held at Heathrow on his way from Berlin to Rio de Janeiro - where he lives with his partner, the Gruniad journalist Glenn Greenwald, who has published information obtained from the American fugitive Edward Snowden. Miranda was, apparently, detained under 'schedule seven of the Terrorism Act 2000.' This allows the police to hold someone at an airport, port or international rail station for up to nine hours for questioning about whether they have been involved with or have any knowledge of acts of terrorism. To date no one has explained exactly what 'acts of terrorism' someone, somewhere believed Miranda to have been involved in. if they can come up with a convincing answer to that question then, frankly, there's no story here and they were just doing their jobs as laid down by the law. But if, as many people suspect and as the Gruniad insist, they didn't have any reason to believe that Miranda had any connection to terrorism in the slightest and were, in fact, stopping him for reasons wholly unconnected to terrorism but, rather, the job that his partner does, then someone really does deserve to have their Jacob's cream crackers publicly twanked. For 'being an arsehole' more than any more obvious civil liberties argument. Miranda said that he was kept in a room and questioned about his 'whole life.' Scotland Yard, which has not revealed on what grounds he was detained, said in a statement on Monday night that the 'examination' of Miranda was 'subject to a detailed decision-making process. The procedure was reviewed throughout to ensure the examination was both necessary and proportionate,' it was claimed. No one particularly believed them. 'Our assessment is that the use of the power in this case was legally and procedurally sound. Contrary to some reports, the man was offered legal representation while under examination and a solicitor attended. No complaint has been received by the MPS at this time.' They forgot to add, 'yet.' And, indeed, legal action wasn't slow in being forthcoming, as it were. Law firm Bindmans have now written to the Home Secretary and Met commissioner for assurances 'there will be no inspection, copying, disclosure, transfer, distribution or interference, in any way, with our client's data pending determination of our client's claim.' In Germany, Miranda had been staying with the American film-maker Laura Poitras, who has also been working on the Snowden files with Greenwald and the Gruniad, according to the newspaper. The paper said that Miranda was stopped while he was 'ferrying materials' between his partner and Poitras. 'I was kept in a room with six agents coming in and out and asking me about everything - my whole life,' Miranda told reporters when he finally arrived back in Brazil on Monday. 'They took my computer, my video games, my mobile phone and memory cards - everything.' In a separate interview with the Gruniad, he said: 'They were threatening me all the time and saying I would be put in jail if I didn't co-operate. They treated me like I was a criminal or someone about to attack the UK. It was exhausting and frustrating, but I knew I wasn't doing anything wrong. They said I was obliged to answer all their questions and used the words "prison" and "station" all the time,' he added. The American government has said that British officials gave it 'a heads up' about Miranda's detention but claimed that the decision to seize him was a British one taken 'independent of our direction.' The detention appears on the verge of creating a proper full-blown diplomatic incident. Brazil's foreign minister Antonio Patriota has called the detention 'not justifiable' and has sought answers from his UK counterpart, William Hague. Downing Street effectively washed its hands of the entire affair, saying that the case was 'an operational matter for the police.' Which, presumably, means that if it is subsequently established that the detention of Miranda was outside the scope of the terrorism act, then it's someone in the police force that's going to get their bollocks hung out to dry on a line. Subsequently, in a slightly (for which read 'very') embarrassing about-turn, Downing street admitted that it was 'kept abreast' of the decision to detain Miranda. The No 10 spokesman did not confirm whether David Cameron had, personally, been informed. But Conservative MP David Davis claimed that he 'almost certainly' would have been. But the Home Office defended the detention. A spokesperson said: 'The government and the police have a duty to protect the public and our national security. If the police believe that an individual is in possession of highly sensitive stolen information that would help terrorism, then they should act and the law provides them with a framework to do that. Those who oppose this sort of action need to think about what they are condoning.' Greenwald said that the British authorities' actions amounted to 'bullying' - which they do - and linked it to his writing about Snowden's revelations concerning the US National Security Agency. All of which is true but, it's still hard to feel much sympathy for him. If he didn't expect something along these lines (albeit, more likely to himself rather than his boyfriend) then he was being spectacularly naive. Snowden, who has been granted temporary asylum in Russia, leaked details of extensive Internet and phone surveillance and other - alleged - naughty shenanigans and nasty malarkey by American intelligence services, with direct aid by GCHQ in Britain. According to the Gruniad, Snowden passed 'thousands of files' to Greenwald, who has written a series of stories about surveillance by US and UK authorities. Greenwald said that his partner's detention was 'clearly intended to send a message of intimidation to those of us who have been reporting on the NSA and [UK intelligence agency] GCHQ.' Clearly. Though, it's a pretty damn ham-fisted one at that - don't these people still operate wet-works units that could simply go and carry out a covet assassination or two without screwing it up? Oh hang on, we're talking about the British security services here, aren't we? Sorry. Daft question. Still, it's given the drama queens at the Gruniad another chance to shine their halo and demonstrate their collective martyr complex again (which, they clearly enjoy doing). So, in the end, everyone's happy. Well, except for poor Mister Miranda, of course, who got locked in a room with some nasty men for nine hours. The Gruniad's very annoying editor Alan Runtbudgie has written an article about Miranda's detention and 'what it means for journalism.' it means 'do your job and accept the fact that some people aren't going to like it and some of them can be mean fekkers; and, more importantly, think yourself lucky you don't live in Russia because, like as not, they'd've just taken you out the back and shot you in the face,' Alan. You don't need to be an expert in international affairs to suss that one. Runtbudgie also claimed that he was contacted by a 'very senior government official claiming to represent the views of the prime minister' who demanded the return or destruction of the Snowden files. Runtbudgie claims that after two months of meetings and the threat of court action, two security experts from GCHQ, the UK's eavesdropping centre, came to the Gruniad's offices to oversee the destruction of computer hard-drives 'just to make sure there was nothing in the mangled bits of metal which could possibly be of any interest to passing Chinese agents.' And again, one has to ask, couldn't a simple burglary have been organised? That's how they'd have done it in [spooks]. 'Whitehall was satisfied, but it felt like a peculiarly pointless piece of symbolism that understood nothing about the digital age,' Runtbudgie said. 'We will continue to do patient, painstaking reporting on the Snowden documents, we just won't do it in London.'
Nine people, including the former managing editor of the Sun, are to be charged in a probe into the alleged selling of information to newspapers. It is alleged Graham Dudman authorised illegal payments to public officials. Former Daily Mirra journalist Grieg Box Turnbull will face charges for allegedly paying prison officer Grant Pizzey for information on inmates. Two further Sun journalists, a police officer and an employee of Broadmoor hospital are also facing charges. Pizzey's partner, Desra Reilly, will be charged, as will a second former prison officer, Marc Alexander, who worked at HMP Holloway. The charges arise from Operation Elveden, the Metropolitan Police's investigation into allegations involving the unlawful provision of information by public officials to journalists and other alleged naughty badness. Dudman, who is now an executive at News UK, is to be charged with three counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office. It is alleged that in September 2002 he requested the authorisation of payments of three thousand smackers to one or more police officers in exchange for information relating to ongoing police investigations. It is also claimed that between June 2002 and December 2007, Dudman authorised payments to public officials relating to the health of a Broadmoor patient, details of an incident at a hospital and details of an incident relating to army combat. It is further alleged that he approved a payment requested by John Troup, a former journalist at the Sun, for information relating to the death of a prison inmate. Troup will be charged as a co-conspirator. Pizzey and Reilly are alleged to have received almost twenty grand from Box Turnbull for over forty pieces of information about a number of incidents which took place at HMP Belmarsh, where Pizzey worked. Box Turnbull is also alleged to have paid Alexander two thousand seven hundred quid for information on inmates at the prison where he worked. Box Turnbull will face two charges of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office, with Pizzey, Reilly and Alexander charged as co-conspirators. The CPS said it would not be be bringing charges based on allegations against a member of the public included in the same file because of insufficient evidence. A Trinity Mirra spokesman said: 'We note that former Daily Mirra journalist Greig Box Turnbull has been charged as part of Operation Elveden - the investigation into alleged payments to public officials. We continue to co-operate with the police and further updates will be made if there are any significant developments.' The editor of the Mirra at the time that at least some of the alleged offences are said to have taken place was, of course, yer actual Piers Morgan. Morgan denied, vigorously, that any phone-hacking, nor any other illegal activities, had ever (not never) taken place at the Mirra - as, indeed, have several other, more current spokespeople for the group - when he appeared at the Leveson Inquiry into press standards last year. Morgan said: 'Not a single person has made any formal or legal complaint against the Daily Mirra for phone-hacking.' Well, they have now. 'Our position is clear. All our journalists work within the criminal law and the PCC code of conduct,' is, dear blog readers may remember, a mantra which regularly came out of Trinity Mirra during the 2011-12 period. Mind you, plenty at News International used to say similar things. A further Sun journalist, Vince Soodin, is alleged to have paid five hundred knicker to a police officer for information, including contact details for witnesses in police investigations. He will be charged with conspiring with a police officer to commit misconduct in public office. A former officer with the Wiltshire police force, Darren Jennings, will be charged with misconduct in public office. It is alleged he provided information to the Sun in relation to a police officer who was facing criminal proceedings and sought payment of ten grand in exchange for personal background information about the officer. Alan Ostler, a former assistant technical instructor at the high-security psychiatric hospital Broadmoor, is alleged to have provided information to journalists at the Sun and the Daily Mirra. It is claimed Ostler received a nine hundred quid payment from the Mirra for information relating to patients. All nine will appear before London's Westminster Magistrates' Court on 5 September.

The White Queen will not be returning for a second series on the BBC, it has been confirmed. In a statement to Broadcast, the BBC insisted that the show was always planned as a one-off series. 'The White Queen will not be returning, but it is important to note that it was never actually conceived as a returnable series,' said the BBC. The ten-part series was based on Philippa Gregory's novel The Cousin's War. Although the BBC are denying that they ever intended to make a second series, it was previously rumoured that the broadcaster was hoping to do a follow-up based on Gregory's The White Princess if the series was a success. But, of course, it wasn't. So, they won't be.

Nicholas Lyndhurst has said that he believes Only Fools and Horses would never be made today. He told the Radio Times he believes that TV companies would not take a chance on a show like that now. 'TV companies turn down good scripts because they're not prepared to let them develop,' he said. 'A talent show will pick up seven million viewers and they can't afford to nurture something that initially will only have a million. Only Fools would never be made today, nor Dad's Army.' Lyndhurst is about to join the cast of New Tricks, replacing Alun Armstrong in the veteran detective series. He said that he was 'not impressed' with the talent shows that TV companies are willing to put money into. He said he felt watching talent shows was 'cruel', and compared watching Britain's Got Talent to 'selling tickets to Bedlam. It's cruel to watch these deluded people - the judges as well, sometimes,' he said. 'They don't need to be talented and that's a shame because you don't want to watch people who can't do it.' He admitted his son Archie has inherited the 'acting gene' and is at the Sylvia Young Theatre School. But he worries about what sort of industry Archie will enter when he leaves. 'I can hardly say, "Darling, do all this training and the best thing will be Celebrity Dog Watch." Take away the talent shows, celebrity cook shows, skating, dog training, dancing, putting people on an island - and what's left? I've been asked to go on all of them,' he claimed.

Coronation Street actor Chris Fountain has been given the old tin-tack by the production following his exposure as a masked rapper who posted 'strongly worded videos' online. The YouTube clips showed the twenty five-year-old rapping about sexual violence in the guise of his alter-ego 'The Phantom.' In a statement, the actor said ITV 'had no choice' but to sack him. He said that he was 'mortified' to 'have brought so much embarrassment to my colleagues and employers.' An ITV spokesman said the actor's contract had been terminated 'as a result of the unacceptable comments he made in a number of online clips.' The clips, which are no longer available to view on YouTube, featured Fountain wearing a Halloween mask, miming stabbing motions and claiming he was 'bored with fame.' Not going to be too much of a problem for him from now on, one imagines. Last week the actor said that the videos had been made 'over a year ago' when he had been 'experimenting' with music. Fountain said he had 'two wonderful years' playing the role of Tommy Duckworth and had 'only happy memories of my time on Coronation Street. My biggest regret however is not to do with losing my job, but that I have hurt and let down so many people including those in a vulnerable situation and I am so very deeply ashamed of this. The lyrics that appeared online were influenced by a style of hip-hop that I was experimenting with at a private freestyle session and blurted out in a moment of madness. There is absolutely no excuse - I take complete responsibility for my actions - but they were in no way thought out or represent at all my attitude towards women, rape and violence.' Previously seen as Justin Burton in Hollyoaks and as a contestant on Twatting About On Ice, Bradford-born Fountain joined Coronation Street in 2011. According to the Daily Lies, an extra scene has already been filmed explaining his character's departure.

Broadcaster Sandi Toksvig has lamented the lack of female TV personalities on quiz shows, saying that programmes such as Mock The Week are dominated by men, who are more prepared to be aggressive. Toksvig, a BBC Radio 4 regular who starred in children's shows including ITV's Number Seventy Three during the 1980s, also asked why female broadcasters were not hosting chat shows. 'I do a show on Channel Four called One Thousand And One Things You Should Know, and the reason I like it is because it's not remotely aggressive,' she told the Radio Times. 'I would like to see more female quiz-show hosts on TV because they set a different tone. Women aren't as used to pushing themselves forward verbally or physically. So on a quiz show like Mock The Week you don't get very many female panellists because the environment doesn't lend itself to us.' Asked why there weren't more female quiz hosts on TV, Toksvig said: 'There's no reason for it because you have the answers right in front of you. All you need to do is read and I have been doing that since I was four years old. It's the same as chat shows – where are the women? It is just a conversation: women are great at those. With the current crop of hosts it tends to become more about them, so you rarely find out anything about the guest.'

Dick Van Dyke has escaped unscathed after his car burst into flames on a freeway in the Los Angeles area. Passers-by saw him seemingly slumped over in the driver's seat on the shoulder of the Ventura freeway, but actually trying to make a phone call, Van Dyke said. They 'yanked me out of the car' before it went up in flames. He claimed that had 'not realised' the Jaguar was on fire. 'It just started making a noise, and I thought I had a flat at first, then it started to smoke, then it burned to a crisp,' he told celebrity news site TMZ. Van Dyke is best known for his well-loved The Dick Van Dyke Show as well as roles in the musicals Bye Bye Birdie, Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. A video posted online by Van Dyke's wife, Arlene, showed the charred wreckage of the car. Van Dyke said that not only had he escaped unhurt, but 'there was a fireman, a nurse and a cop just happened to be passing by. Somebody's looking after me. Tell 'em I have a nice used car for sale,' he told the TMZ reporter.

Police chiefs reportedly wanted to buy an overseas holiday home for officers using money from the Hillsborough Disaster Fund. Scum. South Yorkshire Police proposed purchasing a property after trustees of the fund asked for ideas of how to spend 'residual money' in 1991. The force also asked for gym equipment, gifts for sick officers and microwaves. Sheila Coleman, of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, described the 'brazen' requests as evidence of the police 'insensitivity.' Documents released by the Hillsborough Independent Panel show the request for a holiday home was made by Chief Inspector John Donnelley, who was in charge of policing in Sheffield city centre on the day of the disaster. He wrote: 'Purchase of some sort of holiday flat - either home or abroad - for use by police officers and families.' Sir Norman Bettison, a former inspector with South Yorkshire Police who attended the 1989 match as a spectator, suggested spending two grand refurbishing the enquiry desk area at Hammerton Road Police Station, or upgrading the police room at Hillsborough. Other suggestions included redecorating police rooms at five football grounds in South Yorkshire, improving visitor facilities at police stations and creating an Occupational Health Unit for the force. None of the projects are believed to have been approved. Money for the fund, which eventually reached about twelve million quid, came via donations from organisations including Liverpool FC, the government and the cities of Sheffield, Liverpool and Nottingham. Coleman said: 'Clearly [South Yorkshire Police's] insensitivity to the whole issue was such that they had no problem in proffering suggestions, such as Norman Bettison for the front of his police station. The one that gets me is the holiday home for police officers. Even at the time in 1991 people knew there was a cover-up - there was emerging evidence - and it is absolutely appalling that they are brazen enough that they would take the money.' She described the decision by the fund's trustees to offer bodies such as the police money in January 1991 as 'premature', saying it could have been put towards 'subsistence' for families fighting legal battles. Deputy Chief Constable Andy Holt said that South Yorkshire Police was 'among a number of bodies' approached by the fund's trustees. He said: 'As a result, South Yorkshire Police formally submitted a number of suggestions to the trustees of the Hillsborough Disaster Fund which included enhancing the quality of the police control rooms at Hillsborough and other football stadia to improve public safety and the policing of future football matches. Other suggestions included the provision of better equipment for the force's Casualty Bureau, the creation of an Occupational Health Unit and a number of community-based projects. In addition, a small number of other suggestions were made by individual officers and or staff at the time that included the provision of items of gymnasium equipment in police gyms to help maintain the health and fitness of officers, and the purchase of a holiday flat for use by officers and their families. I am not aware that any of the various suggestions succeeded in attracting funding.' Justice for the ninety six.

The CIA has released documents which for the first time formally acknowledge its key role in the 1953 coup which ousted Iran's democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossadeq. The documents were published on the independent National Security Archive on the sixtieth anniversary of the coup. They come from the CIA's internal history of Iran from the mid-1970s. 'The military coup was carried out under CIA direction as an act of US foreign policy,' says one excerpt. America's role in the coup was openly referred to by then US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in 2000, and by President Barack Obama in a 2009 speech in Cairo. But until now the intelligence agencies have issued 'blanket denials' of their role, according to the editor of the documents, Malcolm Byrne. This is believed to be the first time the CIA has itself admitted the part it played in concert with the British intelligence agency, MI6. Byrne says the documents are important not only for providing 'new specifics as well as insights into the intelligence agency's actions before and after the operation,' but because 'political partisans on all sides, including the Iranian government, regularly invoke the coup.' The documents were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the National Security Archive, a non-governmental research institution based at George Washington University. 'By the end of 1952, it had become clear that the Mossadeq government in Iran was incapable of reaching an oil settlement with interested Western countries was motivated mainly by Mossadeq's desire for personal power; was governed by irresponsible policies based on emotion; had weakened the Shah and the Iranian Army to a dangerous degree and had cooperated closely with the Tudeh (Communist) Party of Iran,' according to the documents. Iranians elected Mossadeq in 1951 and he quickly moved to renationalise the country's oil production, which had been under British control through the Anglo-Persian Oil Company - which later became BP. That was a source of serious concern to the US and the UK, which saw Iranian oil as a key to its post-war economic rebuilding. The Cold War was also a factor in the calculations. 'In view of these factors, it was estimated that Iran was in real danger of falling behind the Iron Curtain; if that happened it would mean a victory for the Soviets in the Cold War and a major setback for the West in the Middle East. No remedial action other than the covert action plan set forth below could be found to improve the existing state of affairs,' says the coup's planner, Donald Wilber, in one document written within months of the overthrow. The documents show how the CIA prepared for the coup by placing anti-Mossadeq stories in both the Iranian and US media. The coup strengthened the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi - who had just fled Iran following a power struggle with Mossadeq and returned following the coup, becoming a close ally and knob-sucker pursuivant of the US over the next twenty odd years until he, himself, became the victim of an Islamic uprising. The US and UK intelligence agencies bolstered pro-Shah forces and helped organise anti-Mossadeq protests. 'The Army very soon joined the pro-Shah movement and by noon that day it was clear that Tehran, as well as certain provincial areas, were controlled by pro-Shah street groups and Army units,' Wilber wrote. 'By the end of 19 August members of the Mossadeq government were either in hiding or were incarcerated.'

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's something appropriate from The Clash.

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