Sunday, 17 July 2011

News International

The big story these days is the major unravelling of News International following the triggering news that came out in the trial of Levi Belfield, the man convicted of murdering 13 year-old schoolgirl Millie Dowler. It was revealed that a person or persons working for the News of the World had accessed and in fact deleted messages on the girl's phone after she went missing. The repeated activity led police to believe she was accessing her voice mail, and thus, it's implied, thinking of her as a runaway rather than an abductee in the first few days of her disappearance.
Then we learn her family's phones were also hacked.
And the whole scandal picks up momentum.
We knew they'd been doing it to movie stars, royalty, cheating sports personalities, and we knew there had been investigations. But celebrities don't tug at the heartstrings like a bereaved family of ordinary people, people like us.
And so it rolls on, this crumbling of a once-mighty empire. It thought itself untouchable. It thought politicians were in its pocket, it thought it owned the police.
But now it seems the politicians fear the people more than the Murdoch empire, and that empire is crashing around his ears. The first step of damage limitation was to announce that News of the World would print its last edition, 168 years from its inception. The staff mostly heard about it from the BBC, before their employers told them.
People were resigning too, an inch before they were pushed. Police chiefs. bent detectives.
Then we hear that just prior to announcing the death of news of the world, they've registered web domains for "The Sun on Sunday". Ha! so they think they'll just fill the void with another, indistinguishable paper with a different name? Business as usual?
Oh no.
The prime minister's erstwhile aide, a man with links to the phone tapping is arrested, but hey. they're non-denominational, they've cultivated pals of whatever stripe, dined with the scions of labour as well as the conservatives, oh yes, they'd all thought inviting the tiger to dinner was a good idea, appeasement on a grand scale.
Well. It looks as though it's all over in Britain for Murdoch's business empire. He owns the Wall Street journal too, and Fox News, a network not  famed for journalistic integrity. Now it seems there are allegations that News International played the same hacking tricks with the phones of 9/11 victims and their families, of fire crews, police, medical personnel. The FBI is investigating.

I can't see the company surviving in the U.S. if these stories prove to be true.

Few tears will be shed for Murdoch's losses. I don't imagine this ushers in a new wave of honest press, but I'm glad that some of the scummiest journalists around have reaped their just rewards, and will find no other paper dare employ them.

I never read the News of the World, it's always been an offensive rag. Good riddance.

Ahaaarrr, Me Hearties!!!


Yep Aardman animation's new movie...... Soon!

The Knock-Off Navy

Australian Navy personnel, serving in the middle east, have been issued with uniforms bearing a misspelled badge. Yes, out there, they're the Royal Australlian Navy. According to Arbroath, the uniforms were supplied to a Tasmanian firm, 'Badger Makes Badges', of Hobart, which outsourced the badges, it seems,  to Hong-Kong.
(for the geographically challenged, Tasmania is an island on the south-east of Australia, and is Australian, whereas Hong-Kong is part of China.)
Anyway, this apparition of a knock-off navy, looking almost, but not quite the real thing, led me to consider a future possibility, registered here in this blog, and if it  becomes reality, Soubriquet expects a fee of 10% of the profits over the next hundred years.
Yes, here it is, The Knock-Off Navy. I suggest that China, which is currently building the world's biggest navy,  builds part of it as a hire fleet. Y'know, personnel badges all stuck on with velcro, ship's identity numbers all made of fridge-magnet material. That way, navally challenged countries, like britain, which only has about three ships left, could, at the drop of a hat, or, at least, a Visa card over the Knock-Off Navy's hire desk, rapidly have a fleet on the way to any bit of sea it chose. Like around the Falklands, perhaps. Last time we had to send a fleet there, we had to commandeer cruise ships and cargo vessels. We'd have to hire them from China too.
It thus becomes possible for, for instance, the Swiss Navy to fight a major engagement against, say, that of Hungary.  Both landlocked nations would not need to actually own a single ship, nor have a home port. And the Knock-Off Navy would supply both fleets.
Just don't forget to sign the damage waiver form.
Actually, in engagements solely between Knock-Off Navy ships, it wouldn't be necessary to destroy or sink opposing vessels.
Nerf missiles and torpedoes would suffice. After two direct hits, the ship would release a cloud of coloured smoke, rip off all its badges, and return to China.
(It would also help avoid confusion in signal interception, as all ships would be speaking chinese.)

Couldn't ever happen you say?
What about Halliburton? Blackwater? How much of current warfare is outsourced to people who are not actually government armed forces?