Liberal Burblings – Editorial statement

There is a certain daily publication which refers to itself as a “newspaper” and has a two-word title. That title starts with the letter “D” and ends with the letter “L”.

As of today, 31st December 2009, this blog, Liberal Burblings, will never again refer to this atrocious, steaming pile of horse manure by its name and will certainly never provide any links to it. The so-called “newspaper” in question will be referred to only as “The Usual Suspect”.

I used to regularly read said “newspaper” for many years. It can be, insidiously, a carefree read over a coffee, with celebrity news, quick crosswords and a cartoon about an amiable dog. Indeed, it was our family “newspaper” for many years when I grew up, and my grandfather read it everyday from the 1920s. I stopped actually purchasing the said “newspaper” many years ago. Indeed, I wrote to the proprietor at the time, the previous Lord Harmsworth, telling him I would never again purchase his “newspaper” because it was too right wing. He replied saying that the “newspaper” had always been “patriotic” and used to have the motto “For King and Country” below its masthead. I replied back, saying that His Lordship was making the elementary, nay simple, mistake of confusing patriotism with political outlook, mentioning en passant that one of the largest (if not the largest) rumps of people who have fought and died for our country actually came or come from Glasgow, which is not a vicinity noted for its right wing leanings.

And, of course, over the years there have been countless non-sensical and alarmist articles in said “newspaper”. I could tolerate that.

However, in the last two months there have been two bigoted, disgusting, sickening articles in “The Usual Suspect” which have been the two straws which have broken the camel’s back. I have had enough. I am never again even going to go to The Usual Suspect’s website. I am never again going to pick up a free copy of the “newspaper” in question. And I will never mention the “newspaper” on this blog except by the code “The Usual Suspect” (if I must) and I will certainly never link to it. I will even (and this is a great sacrifice) refrain those mischievous and hilarious “tweet the vote” campaigns on their websites’ “daily poll”.

R.I.P Stephen Gately 1976-2009

R.I.P Akmal Shaikh 1956-2009

Say what you like about China but at least their trains run on time

Alex Foster on Liberal Democrat Voice provides an interesting deconstruction of the latest exploits of a national daily newspaper to which I will refer only as ‘The Usual Suspect’. It’s worth reading, if only for a sort of classic (presumably unintended) self-parody of journo-rubbish by Liz Jones. One for Private Eye, I think. Not quite Glenda Slag; but something akin to it.

For me, it’s taken a while for news of Akmal Shaikh’s execution to sink in. It’s deeply sickening and all so pointless. The real criminals, who duped Shaikh into carrying a suitcase, are now laughing their socks off, as they count their money. So what good has killing a clearly demented and unwitting “mule” done? It will simply embolden the criminals to find more people to dupe into carrying drugs for them.

Reprieve have a full breakdown of the case. Their director Clive Stanford Smith summed it up well:

China’s refusal to even allow a proper medical evaluation is simply disgusting.

Shaikh was the first European to be executed in China in more than 50 years. The EU now has a High Representative, Baroness Ashton. Did she get involved in this at all? It would seem a prime example of precisely the sort of instance where she should wield the full weight of the EU. But I can find no evidence of any involvement by her. A Google news search for “Shaikh Ashton” comes back with zippo on the subject.

I am going out on a limb here, but I think the British government’s conduct on this issue has been fairly good. British ministers made 27 appeals to the Chinese government, Gordon Brown spoke personally to Wen Jiabao, the Chinese Premier, to appeal for clemency for Shiakh, and a Foreign Office team travelled to China before Christmas to work for clemency in the run-up to the execution.

By the way, if anyone is in any doubt of the pathetic state of mind of Shaikh, listen to his recording of “Come little rabbit” (below on You Tube) which he thought would make him a star and bring world peace. (It’s chilling to listen to it now.) OK. So that’s the same delusion as that entertained by many Miss World or X-Factor contestants, but Reprieve has accumulated plenty of evidence to point to mental illness in the man:

Akmal had a lifelong history of very strange behaviour, and Reprieve uncovered vital evidence that he suffered from an extremely serious mental condition.

A preliminary medical report by clinical psychologist Dr Peter Schaapveld suggests that the odd decisions leading up to Akmal’s offence were most likely influenced by some form of delusional psychosis.

On Twitter yesterday morning, @CaronMLindsay asked:

 I wonder why there wasn’t more outrage in press about Akmal Shaikh..

Here answer, I think, came from the Bureau of Sabotage:

One wonders what the reaction of the tabloids and how half-hearted the efforts of HMG to save his life would have been had his name been something like “Alan Smith”;

– Which brings me back to “The Usual Suspect”. Yesterday they had LeoMcKinstry praising China’s “ruthlessness in tackling drug pushers” and supporting the execution of Akmal Shaikh. “Ruthlessness” in “tackling drug pushers”? You idiot, McKinstry! The “drug pushers” in this case are still alive and still coining it in! Alongside that, take a recent “Usual Suspect” article quoted by Alex Foster which praises China for rapidly completing the construction of a new train network. The trains travel at at 245 mph! – they breathlessly informed us. Wow! Never mind the fact that 72% of the world’s executions take place in China. That’s a mere frippery.

How to get stars to respond to you on Twitter

I was tickled by this wonderful tweet from Stephen Fry on Boxing Day:

@jesmmifs Oi! Are you not aware that clay pigeons are NOT REAL BIRDS!!!!!!!! They are little discs made of clay!

Intrigued, I took the trouble to thread back to the original comments on this which were, from @stephenfry:

http://twitpic.com/vbrg1 – Went clay pigeon shooting today. Such larks. F-f-f-freezing though.

The linked picture on Twitpic is worth looking at, by the way – quite beautiful. And then @jsemmifs responded:

@stephenfry pigeon shooting? That’s not cool!

…Which then elicited the gorgeous reply from the Great Fryster at the top of this post. Judging from his tweets since, @jsemmifs has spent the last few days on Cloud Nine after getting a response tweet from such a stellar personage.

Omg, Omg, OMG!!! @stephenfry responded to one of my tweets!!! Can I say STAR-STRUCK?! Best thing that happened to me all day! 😀

So, now you know how it’s done. Wind them up a bit. And it helps if you are genuine about it.

Sherlock Holmes – the movie

We went to Newbury’s new Vue cinema for the second time yesterday. It was great to see the lobby full to bursting as people queued up to get into (I think) Avatar and Sherlock Holmes. We saw Sherlock Holmes amongst a full house for that screen.

It’s a great film. Beautiful to look at, some superb music, action packed, fast moving, with the usual Holmes intrigue and a very exciting ending.

Robert Downey Junior is superb (and even his English accent seems convincing) and it’s great to see a shedload of brilliant performances from British actors such as Jude Law (as Watson), Mark Strong, Eddie Marsan and arch-luvvie James Fox.

Rotten Tomatoes has the full SP here.