A man who served as UKIP's Commonwealth spokesman for a year is the former leader of a kidnapping gang in Pakistan, BBC Newsnight can reveal. Mujeeb ur Rehman Bhutto's gang were behind a high-profile kidnapping in Karachi in 2004 and he then took a £56,000 ransom payment in Manchester. In 2005, Bhutto, of Leeds, admitted being the gang's "boss" and was jailed for seven years by a UK court. UKIP said Bhutto, 35, had "recently" resigned his party membership.
A beaver is alive and well in England, about 800 years after the last one was seen alive. Of course the big question remains: Where the heck did the beaver come from?
13 reasons why I am taking the Daily Mail to the Press Complaints Commission Jon Danzig deconstructs and demolishes a Daily Mail immigration story. [DM story: Sold out! Flights and buses full as Romanians and Bulgarians head for the UK]
Double serving of media critique on the proliferation of "poverty porn" TV (in the UK) over at Sociological Imagination with "A Summer of Television Poverty Porn" and "Pride, Propaganda and Poverty Porn: On Benefits and Proud." Programs under discussion include We Pay All Your Benefits, How to Get a Council House, Benefits Britain 1949, On Benefits and Proud. [more inside]
Whose Policy: UKIP Or Monster Raving Loony Party? - Nigel Farage doesn't realise how terrible his own party's policies are
BRITISH "GHOST TRAIN" FACADES FROM THE 1970s AND 80s
(from the National Fairground Archive digital collection)
(from the National Fairground Archive digital collection)
Operation War Diary is the newest crowdsourced science effort from Zooniverse, cataloging WWI British soldiers' war diaries from the Western Front. Participants can help tag dates, locations, people, and events from 1.5 million pages of war diaries from the Western Front. Entries range from the uneventful (October 24 | PONT DU HEM | 5:30 am | Occupied same position. Did not fire all day) to the eventful (A & B cleared the village and the regiment eventually captured the convoy in the wood about a mile on after it had been headed back by a returning movement of 12th Lancers. In all 200 prisoners). [more inside]
Icy weather getting you down? How about a nice relaxing beach holiday? The same weather pattern bringing Antarctic temperatures to America is pushing Himalayan surf towards Europe. With storm swell battering coastlines from Portugal to Cornwall, big-wave specialists from around the world are flocking to the unlikely surf mecca of Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo, Ireland. Apparently it's been pretty intense... "Down there was living repeatedly rabbit punched while diving in the deep!" [more inside]
Newly released cabinet papers from 1984 reveal mineworkers' union leader Arthur Scargill may have been right to claim there was a "secret hit-list" of more than 70 pits marked for closure. The government and National Coal Board said at the time they wanted to close 20. But the documents reveal a plan to shut 75 mines over three years. A key adviser to then-PM Margaret Thatcher denies any cover-up claims. The miners' strike began in March 1984 and did not end until the next year. [more inside]
“He articulates the dreams, fears and hopes of socially insecure members of the suburban middle class,” .... “It’s a daily performance of genius.” Paul Dacre of the Daily Mail
It all started on Christmas Eve 1965 (Google books preview), as a cold and wet Michael Bond was doing some last minute shopping. He had missed a bus, and ducked inside a department store to get out of the sleet. It was there that he saw a small bear, all alone on a shelf. On a whim, he picked it up as a stocking stuffer for his wife. The couple named him after the Paddington railway station that was near where they lived at the time. A few months later, Bond turned to Paddington to break his writers block, and the Paddington books were born. Paddington was turned into the UK's favorite animated character thanks to the 56 five-minute long episodes and three longer specials that were originally aired in the 1970s and 1980s, and are online in one form or another. [more inside]
If the drive for Scottish independence succeeds, what should be done about the Union Jack?
Skinhead Farewell a BBC documentary on the controversial cult novelist James Moffat aka Richard Allen
Let's admit it: Britain is now a developing country.
Gender equality? The WEF ranks us behind Nicaragua and Lesotho. Investment by business? The Economist thinks we are struggling to keep up with Mali. Let me put it more broadly, Britain is a rich country accruing many of the stereotypical bad habits of a developing country.Aditya Chakrabortty discusses the increasing hollowing out of the UK economy, as well as the City as an economically distorting resource curse.
The UK has opened its first social supermarket as a means of combatting food poverty.* [more inside]
Colin Wilson has passed away at the age of 82. He rose to fame in the 50s with The Outsider, which made him a figure amongst Britain's Beat movement and Angry Young Men. His writing has spanned the fiction and non-fiction, with an interest in the paranormal and the occult, his thoughts on which he blended with HP Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos to produce The Mind Parasites. A TV series based on his The Space Vampires, also the basis for the movie Lifeforce (previously), is currently planned. Wikipedia page, 2004 Guardian interview, Times Obituary (subs only).
UK-based performance artist Marissa Carnesky previously created Carnesky's Ghost Train, a dark ride with a theme of the experience of women immigrants, which after touring is now permanently located in Blackpool, England. More recently she produced Carnesky's Tarot Drome, an interactive extravaganza with roller-skating and wrestling versions of the major arcana.
"Detectives investigating the case of three women allegedly held as slaves for 30 years in south London have uncovered a "complicated and disturbing picture of emotional control". Last month officers were contacted by Freedom Charity after it received a call from a woman saying she had been held against her will for decades. A Malaysian woman, 69, an Irish woman, 57, and a British woman, 30, were rescued from the house on 25 October. A 67-year-old man and woman were held in Lambeth and bailed until January." More details on the BBC here.
Behind the scenes footage of the filming of the music videos for The KLF's 'Justified and Ancient' and 'What time is Love?'.
Brass Tacks, a BBC documentary / studio discussion programme from 1977, looks at the burgeoning phenomena of punk rock. (SLYT)
Stakker Humanoid - How 25 years ago Future Sound of London brought Acid House to the mainstream.
Adding to the widely reported speculation that Chiwetel Ejiofor is joining the cast, the BBC is reporting that open auditions for two of the lead roles in the next Star Wars film are being held across Britain and Ireland in the next few weeks. Shooting is still slated to start in January. The audition call tweet gives details of the roles... [more inside]
Inside the Proportion>London factory in Walthamstow. - Not an invasion force, honest.
In the late 1740s, John Wesley—a British evangelist and the co-founder of Methodism—published Primitive Physick, or, An Easy and Natural Method of Curing Most Diseases. The tome gave regular people ways to cure themselves, using items they could find in their own homes. - Here are some of his suggested home remedies.
The 'worst storm since 1987' is due to hit the UK over the next few days. It may also hit 'northern France and the Low Countries'. It may be 'overwhelming' and 'there is a risk of some parts getting two inches of rain in a six hour period'. The Met Office has warned that 'England and Wales will be hit by a significant storm on Sunday night with winds of up to 80mph in some areas'. They also said the predicted storm was 'not one you would see every year' and that 'exceptional winds will batter Surrey'. Drivers are advised to 'at a minimum, take a fully-charged mobile phone and warm, weatherproof clothing.' Some media outlets claim, however, the storm will only be the worst of the last five year, though in Bristol it'll be the worst in 'two decades'. Never the less, 'stay well away from trees'. [more inside]
'Colonic' by Emily Haworth-Booth the winner of the Observer/Cape/Comica graphic short story prize 2013. Interview
After a trade dispute, Grangemouth plant will remain open. Just another case of a greedy union almost driving a company out of business? Perhaps not. Robin McAlpine argues that this case underlines the broken nature of British industry and its relationship with the unions, as well as the media's ability to report on stories outside of London
On 1st November 1988, ITV dispatched over fifty crews to chronicle the production, reception and marketing of British television, at a time when, with satellite television yet to launch, the four main networks were your only viewing choice. It became the documentary One Day In The Life of Television, which you can now watch in full on YouTube. [more inside]
The Guardian presents an animated video explaining the distribution of wealth in the UK (and how it's getting worse).
A new report (pdf) released by LSE’s Media Department contradicts widespread claims about the decline of creative industries as a result of copyright infringement. The report shows that the gaming, film and publishing industries are growing and new business models are emerging based on digital sharing. (See pages 7-8 of the report for figures.) [more inside]
New documents released by Glenn Greenwald from trove leaked by Edward Snowden show that the agency officially viewed arguments about 'due process' to be an 'adversary propaganda theme', listed alongside military threats to drones. [more inside]
So Breaking Bad isn't the only series having it's final episode this weekend. The IT Crowd hits end of program with a one off special.
Residents of the English town of Northampton have been disturbed by the recent appearance of an sinister anonymous clown. Alan Moore is probably not responsible.
Zero Hours - For a workshop on future London, Arup, Social Life, Re.Work, Commonplace, Tim Maughan and Nesta created 10 Future Londoners for the year 2023. This one describes the working day of 19 year old Nicki, a zero hours retail contractor.
As the sun sinks slowly into Mayfair and the stars come out over Centre Point, the funster’s thoughts turn inexorably towards the bright lights and rundown neon of that square half-mile known as Soho, sin city nestling like a soiled Kleenex in the bosom of our great metropolis Soho 1983: A Girl's Guide To Peep Shows, Topless Bars & Nude Encounters
A judge in the UK has ruled that a Muslim woman can stand trial wearing the niqab, but must remove it when giving evidence. Following the ruling Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, praised the judge for his "sensitivity and clarity", while Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society condemned the decision, saying "We will be complaining to the Office of Judicial Complaints and...asking senior legal officers to make visibility throughout court hearings mandatory". [more inside]
After 500 years, the government of David Cameron has announced the unthinkable: from as early as today a majority stake in the Royal Mail of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will be put up for sale into private hands. Some are not happy. The sale is expected to fetch between US$3-4.7 billion. But what does it mean? Should you invest? And what does it mean for other postal systems in, say, Australia or the USA? Postal services have been benefiting from the rise in online shopping, even as traditional mail declines.
The guardian of the nation’s etiquette, Debrett’s, has now issued a handy 10-point guide to mobile (cell) phone etiquette in the digital age
Yesterday the House of Commons and the House of Lords debated a response to Syria's use of chemical weapons. The government lost the debate and the commons rejected military action. David Cameron said "the British Parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action. I get that, and the Government will act accordingly.." A government MP explains why she voted against and Charles Stross makes a suggestion for what could be done (distributing gas masks, field decontamination showers, NAAK kits, and medical resources to everyone in the conflict zones)
Fifty years ago, another bus-centric race dispute took place. Despite "Just 12 miles away in Bath, black crews were working on buses. London Transport recruitment officers had travelled to Barbados specifically to invite workers to come to the capital" ...non-whites found it impossible to obtain employment working on buses in Bristol, England. [more inside]
John Green: "Why Are Americans Health Care Costs So High?" A quick, handy little overview of common misconceptions on the US healthcare system. (SLYT)
A history of CLiNT, Mark Millar’s attempt at launching a newsstand anthology comic, which ended this month despite its Lad Mag sensibility, celebrity creators such as Jonathan Ross and Frankie Boyle, and a recent reboot. The comic magazine joins the likes of Revolver, Deadline, Crisis, Toxic! and Meltdown in the great newsagents in the sky, though like many of those other short lived UK magazines it has spawned many spin off successes, not least the controversial Kick Ass II, which is now a movie minus its rape scene.
"We’ve suspected for some time that the French and German governments’ refusal to take part in the Iraq war had something to do with their access to independent overhead imagery satellites. Briefly, France and Germany did (with the HELIOS and SAR Lupe programs respectively), and didn’t take part at all. Spain and Italy had some access to French imagery and had advanced plans to get their own. They made a limited commitment. The UK, Australia, Denmark, and the ROK relied on the United States and were, in a phrase that should be better known outside Australia, all the way with LBJ." -- Alex Harrowell explains how the absence of independent satellite intelligence may have helped the UK into the War on Iraq [more inside]
In 2011, the CIA declassified documents admitting its involvement in the 1953 coup that overthrew Iran's elected government and installed Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, details of which were first first disclosed by the New York Times in 2000. Timeline. However, they refused to release them to the public. Today, the National Security Archive research institute has (after a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit) obtained and made the 21 documents public. "Marking the sixtieth anniversary of the overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, the National Security Archive is today posting recently declassified CIA documents on the United States' role in the controversial operation. American and British involvement in Mosaddeq's ouster has long been public knowledge, but today's posting includes what is believed to be the CIA's first formal acknowledgement that the agency helped to plan and execute the coup. [more inside]