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The Litvinenko Inquiry

Alexander Litvinenko died on 23 November 2006 (previously). The inquiry into his death is currently underway in London following a detailed investigation by the Metropolitan Police into his poisoning with polonium. The Guardian summarises six key things we have learned so far. These include some pretty casual applications of proper handling procedures for nuclear material, news of a previous assassination attempt and some forthright words from Marina Litvinenko's barrister concerning Vladimir Putin's character that may have led to two unauthorised Russian military planes flying up the English Channel two days ago. [more inside]
posted by biffa on Jan 30, 2015 - 65 comments

[GREEN] JOBS FOR ALL

Let Us Face the Future - "All parties pay lip service to the idea of jobs for all. All parties are ready to promise to achieve that end by keeping up the national purchasing power and controlling changes in the national expenditure through Government action. Where agreement ceases is in the degree of control of private industry that is necessary to achieve the desired end. In hard fact, the success of a full employment programme will certainly turn upon the firmness and success with which the Government fits into that programme the investment and development policies of private as well as public industry." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jan 29, 2015 - 9 comments

Tick Tick Boom

Along the western coast of England, under a half-moon hidden by clouds, a dark Audi sports car with fabricated plates followed an empty road toward a Barclays bank. Inside were five men, dressed all in black, and their gear: crowbars, power tools, coils of flexible tubing, and two large tanks of explosive gas. It was 1:51 a.m. The job would take just under seven minutes.
posted by Chrysostom on Jan 29, 2015 - 38 comments

The Good, The Bad and The Furry

My cat is sad because . . .
posted by jason's_planet on Jan 28, 2015 - 17 comments

The Sun has got its top on

RIP Page 3. There has been no formal announcement but it seems the long tradition of having a photograph of a topless woman on Page 3 of Rupert Murdoch's flagship British newspaper, The Sun, is no more. [more inside]
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Jan 20, 2015 - 80 comments

MOM, an inflatable incubator, and winner of the 2014 James Dyson Award

The annual James Dyson Award is open to current and recent design engineering students. The winner this year is James Roberts with his inflatable incubator MOM. The device costs around £250 compared to £30,000 for modern incubators and could prevent up to 75% of fatalities in premature birth cases in the developing world.
posted by shimmerbug on Jan 19, 2015 - 13 comments

You're Not Beautiful

Labour's Shadow Culture Minister Chris Bryant has said the art world must address lack of diversity “I am delighted that Eddie Redmayne won [a Golden Globe for best actor], but we can’t just have a culture dominated by Eddie Redmayne and James Blunt and their ilk,” James Blunt has replied. Bryant has replied in turn. The dog from Downtown barks up.
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Jan 19, 2015 - 54 comments

'We should be as important as Oasis or Blur'

The Prodigy have a new album, The Day Is My Enemy, out soon. Interview in the Guardian. Nasty [more inside]
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Jan 17, 2015 - 43 comments

Zombie Blue

Parkour vs zombies short film to promote a forthcoming video game Dying Light (slightly NSFW)
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Jan 14, 2015 - 13 comments

End of Empire. End of Days. End of Everything.

Since the controversial 2010 takeover of the British company Cadbury, by the makers of processed cheese slices Kraft, consumers of chocolate have been dismayed at the many changes brought in by the new owners. But the breaking point of many has been reached as the recipe for Cadbury Creme Eggs in the UK is changed, replacing dairy milk chocolate with standard cocoa mix chocolate. To add insult to culinary injury, Mondelez International, owned by Kraft Foods, is also introducing five eggs in a pack instead of three and six-packs. The opinions of actors and wallpaper designers. [more inside]
posted by Wordshore on Jan 14, 2015 - 130 comments

By leaves we live

The mystery Edinburgh book sculptor has given her first interview
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Jan 13, 2015 - 11 comments

"Frankly, I had enjoyed the war."

Adrian Carton de Wiart: The unkillable soldier
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Jan 6, 2015 - 13 comments

Wicked Professor!

Doctor Who: how Ace set the template for modern companions [more inside]
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Jan 5, 2015 - 58 comments

From Churchill to Doctor Who

Royal Mail 'special stamps' have been produced in the UK for fifty years since 1965, when the new postmaster general, Tony Benn, expanded the criteria for commemorative stamps to include representations of British life and culture.
posted by carter on Jan 4, 2015 - 12 comments

A TV drama that puts gay characters centre-stage is still a novelty

"What was striking about the recent film The Imitation Game wasn't just the incredible story of Alan Turing, the man who helped the Allies win the Second World War by cracking Germany's Enigma code, only to find himself chemically castrated for being gay. It was the epilogue that informed us that the 1885 Criminal Law Amendment Act, criminalising homosexual activity, led to 49,000 gay men being convicted of gross indecency in the UK. If you subtract Turing and Oscar Wilde from that total, that’s 48,998 stories that still haven't been told." Why is television still ignoring gay lives? – Matt Cain for The Independent. [more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Jan 4, 2015 - 56 comments

Chapstep

Mr B, The Gentlemen Rhymer - who you may know for his chap-hop ditties 'Chap-Hop History', 'Songs For Acid Edward and Hip-Hop Was To Blame After All' has a side project as The Gentlemen Selector with Acid Ragtime and has dropped the first gramophone platter 'Vegetables' [more inside]
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Jan 3, 2015 - 15 comments

Let's shop outside the box

The most pointlessly gendered children's toys in 2014. The 2013 awards. [more inside]
posted by low_horrible_immoral on Jan 2, 2015 - 103 comments

2014 has taught us that a critical mass of people want to talk feminism

"From a seven-year-old who took on a supermarket to the girls who stood up to authority against violence, racism and inequality, these girls make the future look bright." Laura Bates looks back at a year of young feminist action in the Guardian piece, "2014: a year of brave, inspiring, young feminists". More feminism year-in-reviews below the fold. [more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Dec 29, 2014 - 18 comments

My identity is my creation

Sleaford Mods are an English Hip hop/Post-punk duo based in Nottingham. This year the NME asked them to record a Christmas Message (NSFW swearing) [more inside]
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Dec 28, 2014 - 5 comments

The Sounds of Things to Come

Sound of Cinema - British Sci-Fi from the BFI Days of Fear and Wonder - BBC Radio 3 talks to film composer Stephen Price about The Shape of Things to Come, Alien, Gravity, and other science fiction soundtracks.
posted by Artw on Dec 27, 2014 - 7 comments

Never Mind the Baubles

Anarchy in Huddersfield: the day the Sex Pistols played Santa [more inside]
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Dec 24, 2014 - 6 comments

Millions of people in the UK were in germ war tests

Guardian: The Ministry of Defence turned large parts of the country into a giant laboratory to conduct a series of secret germ warfare tests on the public. A government report just released provides for the first time a comprehensive official history of Britain's biological weapons trials between 1940 and 1979. (This is an old article but didn't show up on preview.)
posted by marienbad on Dec 23, 2014 - 17 comments

Fanny at Christmas

Fanny Cradock makes Mincemeat out of an Omelette [more inside]
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Dec 22, 2014 - 20 comments

The Legend of the Free Labour Market

The Legend of the Free Labour Market. From the excellent HR/Economics blog Flip Chart Fairy Tales.
posted by TheophileEscargot on Dec 21, 2014 - 8 comments

Snap, Crackle and Pop!

In an area of London that already boasts a cat cafe and a 3d printer cafe, two bearded twin brothers have opened the Cereal Killer Cafe that serves only breakfast cereal. [more inside]
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Dec 15, 2014 - 75 comments

"I made it so she wanted to sleep with me, which was totally a lie..."

She came from Greece she had a thirst for knowledge
She studied sculpture at Saint Martin's College, that's where I caught her eye.
She told me that her Dad was loaded
I said in that case I'll have a rum and coke-cola.
She said fine, and in thirty seconds time she said,
I want to live like common people I want to do whatever common people do,
I want to sleep with common people I want to sleep with common people like you.
Well what else could I do – I said I'll see what I can do. [more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Dec 13, 2014 - 53 comments

The Place for Royalty and The Right Sort of Young

When Mark Birley died at the age of 77 he left behind a legacy of London nightclubs for the aristocratic set ...and a highly contested $200 million dollar estate with last second will changes, phony ex-girlfriends, and feuding children. Maureen Orth explores the family life of the nightlife king.
posted by The Whelk on Dec 12, 2014 - 10 comments

Worse than a Defeat

The British army is back in Warminster and its other bases around the country. Its eight-year venture in southern Afghanistan is over. The extent of the military and political catastrophe it represents is hard to overstate. It was doomed to fail before it began, and fail it did, at a terrible cost in lives and money. How bad was it? In a way it was worse than a defeat, because to be defeated, an army and its masters must understand the nature of the conflict they are fighting. Britain never did understand, and now we would rather not think about it. (SLLRB)
posted by Jakey on Dec 11, 2014 - 47 comments

No Gloves, No Rounds, Plenty of Blood

Of all the forms of fighting known to man, one name strikes fear further into the hearts of those who hear it: Bare Knuckle. For hundreds of years, the men of Britain have rammed their unprotected fists into each others bodies to decide who was the hardest of them all. [more inside]
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey on Dec 8, 2014 - 30 comments

What are you doing here? ... Physician, heal thyself.

The first 15 mins of all the episodes of classic Doctor Who at the same time. (SLYT)
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Dec 8, 2014 - 12 comments

UK's Premier Foods accused over 'pay and stay' practice

Premier Foods, one of the UK's biggest manufacturers, has been asking its suppliers for payments to continue doing business with the firm.
posted by marienbad on Dec 4, 2014 - 20 comments

Residents here decline emailed requests: Kensington Palace Gardens

"The signs on the doors are excessively polite, and use outmoded words such as 'kindly' and 'residing'. 'Kindly do not deliver items for Mr and Mrs [...] to this address as they are no longer residing here.' But it is the doorbell etiquette that is most enraging, and instructions that 'for all collections and deliveries please press the housekeeper's button only' incite a sudden surge of anarchic rage and a desire to ring all the other bells simultaneously – summoning the chef/kitchen, the residence and the caretaker." [SLTheGuardian]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Dec 4, 2014 - 43 comments

the Ukips

“I don’t mind causing offence when I intend to, but I don’t like causing it accidentally” Interview with comedian Stewart Lee
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Dec 3, 2014 - 28 comments

Tory shires join call for more cash and powers for England’s regions

Grauniad: "The huge list of signatories to the letter – which also calls for an end to savage financial cuts imposed by the centre – demonstrate growing all-party frustration at a system that leaves local communities at the mercy of a central government with little or no understanding of each area’s particular needs. The letter states: “There is compelling evidence that taking decisions closer to the people affected achieves better results and saves money.""
posted by marienbad on Nov 30, 2014 - 16 comments

"The Little Big Man of the London underworld"

RIP 'Mad' Frankie Fraser aka The Dentist, ex enforcer for the Richardson gang and declared Britain's 'most dangerous man' by two Home Secretaries, spending 42 years in prison. In his later years he found work as an after dinner speaker, television personality and tour guide (last year he received an Asbo after an argument in his old people's home over someone sitting in his favourite chair)
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Nov 27, 2014 - 21 comments

Hey you, don't watch that watch this!

This is the heavy heavy monster sound, the nuttiest sound around so if you've come in off the street and you're beginning to feel the heat, well listen buster you better start to move your feet to the rockinest, rock-steady beat of Madness... One Step Beyond!
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Nov 25, 2014 - 47 comments

British Breakdown

People that like Slugs are mostly males, aged 25-39, live in Northern Scotland, are far right politically and work in mining and quarrying. Favourite dishes are Spinach Risotto followed by Fidget Pie. They like bird watching and cycling. They describe themselves as alternative but on occasion silly. They are online for 36-40 hours per week and read the Guardian and New Scientist.
Whereas people that like Jellyfish are likely to be female, aged 25-39, live in the north east, are far left politically and work in research and development. Their favourite dish is Vegetarian Sausage Roll followed by Hunter's Stew. They like looking after their pets and archery. They describe themselves as idiosyncratic and on occasion withdrawn. They are online for 50+ hours per week and read the Guardian and New Scientist. [more inside]
posted by unliteral on Nov 17, 2014 - 63 comments

You wanna understand America, don't come here — go to the movies

Rich Hall’s How The West Was Lost (What started with Red River mostly ended with Blazing Saddles; from 20th C. cultural behemoth to object of satire; the Western genre and the archetype of the cowboy.)

There’s a tradition of Brits coming to the US to explain this young country and expose the folks back home to America. From Charles William Janson and Thomas Ashe on through Stephen Fry and Jeremy Clarkson, foreigners with funny accents and strange vocabulary have set foot on American soil in an effort to explore the place and its people. But for the Brits to truly understand America, two things might be necessary: an American expat and (more importantly) MOVIES! Because an insider’s take on Hollywood’s misportrayal, mythmaking, stereotypes, historical ignorance, misunderstanding, bullshit, and skewed lens through which we see (and are shown) ourselves as Americans can get pretty interesting as well as informative.

Stuff like: [more inside]
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey on Nov 16, 2014 - 19 comments

A pound of flesh for 50p

Artist Alex Chinneck has constructed a full-sized wax building which is slowly being melted from the top down. For the last twelve months the artist has collaborated with chemists, wax manufacturers and engineers to develop visually convincing wax bricks that transform in the most sculpturally effective way. The installation is part of the 2014 Merge Festival.
posted by showbiz_liz on Nov 15, 2014 - 19 comments

on a frolic of his own

‘You do not need to deliver the fatal blow or even be at the actual scene of the killing to be found guilty and sent to jail,’ Detective Inspector John McFarlane said after the conviction of 17 of the 20 young people jointly charged with the murder of 15-year-old Sofyen Belamouadden at Victoria Station in March 2010: ‘the law on joint enterprise is clear and unforgiving.’ [more inside]
posted by standardasparagus on Oct 25, 2014 - 24 comments

The Murderers Next Door

The Edwards were spooked. Christopher stole £10,000 from his employer and they ran away to Lille, De Gaulle’s birthplace. But they couldn’t access the Wycherleys’ account from abroad, Christopher couldn’t find work, and their money ran out. Instead of selling the memorabilia they’d brought with them, in desperation Christopher rang his elderly stepmother, Elizabeth Edwards, confessed to burying Susan’s parents and asked for money to save him and Susan from prison. If the memorabilia hadn’t mattered so much, no one would know today that the Wycherleys were under the lawn. It could have been the perfect crime. But Elizabeth Edwards called the police. The Murderers Next Door.
posted by Ghostride The Whip on Oct 25, 2014 - 17 comments

Woof.

A review of the uncomfortable, colonialist-islander RPG, Dog Eat Dog
posted by michaelh on Oct 22, 2014 - 32 comments

\|/ \|/ \|/ \|/ practical (& fun) conservation in coppicing \|/ \|/ \|/

It is easy to think of woodlands as wild places, but in the UK and Europe, most have been carefully managed for centuries. If you visit an ancient woodland in Europe at this time of year, you may well see small areas where the trees are being cut down to the base, but the stumps left behind. This is likely to be part of a traditional woodland practice called coppicing. Until about 150 years ago, most deciduous woodlands in the UK were coppiced to produce wood for use in a variety of industries, but today coppicing is largely only practised for woodland conservation. [more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Oct 22, 2014 - 22 comments

Tory Peer: "Pay disabled people £2 per hour"

A Conservative welfare minster has apologised after suggesting that disabled people are "not worth" the national minimum wage and some could only be paid "£2 an hour". Lord Freud, the Welfare Reform minister admitted the comments were "offensive” after they were disclosed by Ed Miliband during Prime Minister's Questions this afternoon. The Labour leader has called on the Tory peer to resign.
posted by marienbad on Oct 17, 2014 - 68 comments

Meet the Mumbles Train, the very first fare-based passenger train

Mumbles Railway, the first public railway On 25 March 1807, the very same day that the British Parliament passed a Bill to outlaw the transatlantic trade in slaves, Swansea took its place in history with the inauguration of the world’s first passenger railway. [more inside]
posted by Michele in California on Oct 7, 2014 - 6 comments

"The Twist was a form of therapy for a convalescing nation."

Music historian/nerd Neil Transpontine's blog "History is made at night" covers the "politics of dancing and musicking" -- from the riots at Lou Reed's concerts in Italy in 1975, demonstrations against the "anti-rave" Criminal Justice & Public Order Act of 1994 (UK) to present-day protests in New Orleans against a proposed noise ordinance. [more inside]
posted by spamandkimchi on Oct 5, 2014 - 7 comments

Cassetteboy - Cameron's Conference Rap

"I'm hardcore and I know the score And I am disgusted by the poor..." [NSFWish lyrics] [more inside]
posted by metaBugs on Oct 1, 2014 - 24 comments

Cut square and stamped with a proper stamp of the happy union and baked

"Nowadays, we tend to eat biscuits with beverages like tea and coffee. But in the past they were an important element of the dessert course and were dipped into sweet wine." - Food History Jottings (previously) on the strange world of Regency biscuits. (Cookies to you US types.)
posted by The Whelk on Sep 9, 2014 - 25 comments

Twenty four days to go

The second televised debate between Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling is to be shown across the UK tonight. After a lacklustre first debate, the final days of the referendum campaign are ticking down. There are signs of growing momentum for the Yes side, with undecideds moving to Yes in some polls and the 'Yes Declaration' recently hitting a million signatures. But the Better Together campaign still has some heavy hitters on side, with Sir Ian Wood recently casting doubt on oil extraction figures he had previously agreed with. [more inside]
posted by Happy Dave on Aug 25, 2014 - 223 comments

Well I'll Go To The Foot Of Our Stairs

British subtitles
posted by The Whelk on Aug 20, 2014 - 32 comments

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