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Tall Ships Parade of Sail 2008

Tall Ships 2008 Part 1

Wretched Refuse of our Teeming Shores

No further comment needed on this story from The Yorkshire Post:

TWO men convicted of publishing race-hate articles on the internet have skipped bail and fled to the United States to claim political asylum, the Yorkshire Post can reveal.

Simon Sheppard and Stephen Whittle were given bail by a judge at Leeds Crown Court on Friday, despite having been found guilty of a series of race-related offences.

The pair were due to return to court on Monday while a jury continued deliberating over further charges, but they failed to turn up.

Last night Sheppard, 51, and Whittle, 41, were being held by immigration officials at Los Angeles Airport – outside the jurisdiction of the British court system.

It is believed that the pair travelled from the UK to Ireland by ferry before taking a direct flight to Los Angeles.

They are likely to have their case considered at an immigration hearing in the US before UK authorities can secure their return.

A spokeswoman for Humberside Police, which led the race-hate investigation, said: "We are led to believe that they are indeed being detained by the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (INS) at Los Angeles Airport.

"They are in custody and we are in liaison with the INS to establish that this pair are our two men and, if so, what is likely to happen to them."

Sheppard, of Brook Street, Selby, was found guilty after a seven-week trial of 11 counts of publishing racially inflammatory written material.

The jury gave unanimous verdicts on nine of the charges on Friday, and returned with two majority verdicts on Monday while Sheppard was absent.

Whittle, of Avenham Lane, Preston, was convicted of five counts of publishing racially inflammatory written material.

Four of the verdicts were reached unanimously on Friday, and the fifth was returned by a majority of 10 to one on Monday after Whittle had absconded.

The jury were unable to reach verdicts on seven further race-related charges which Sheppard faced.

A spokeswoman for the Crown Prosecution Service said it had yet to decide whether Sheppard should be retried on the seven outstanding charges. It has 14 days to reach a decision.

The case is due to be considered further at a hearing at Leeds Crown Court on July 28.

Tonight's Latest Scores

As I've said before, the attitude of the Daily Mail can be gleaned not from the actual comments made by its posters - as only the more vocal and extreme readers tend to bother - but by the number of comments made on various stories. The reason is simple: the Mail claims to receive thousands of comments, which are then subject to moderation before publication - a justification for only including some of those received. Of course, some form of pre-moderation is understandable but despite claims that comments are not censored for political views, this is patently not the case.

I try to post at least a dozen comments each week. I know it's a forlorn task so I keep them succinct in the vain hope that one will sneak through. The disturbing aspect is that I only succeed when posing completely sycophantic letters in support of whatever bile they are spouting.

Whilst I was working on a post about Rowan Williams's letter to Muslim religious leaders (his actual letter can be downloaded as a Word doc here) and the predictable reporting of it by Steve Doughty in The Mail here, I started looking at what was exercising the collective mind of DM Land.

Make your own videprinter noises:

Teenager's Guantanamo interrogation Video 0

Lorraine Kelly seems to have gained weight 14

Blair 'assassination' plans 19
Rhodes Earthquake kills someone not British 0

Swindon Council (may) scrap speed cameras 40
Alleged torture of UK citizens 4 (all supportive of torture)

The last story is particularly vile and the 4 comments add weight (not in the Lorraine Kelly sense) to the argument that the DM just lights the blue touch paper and awaits the explosion of bigotry to come.

  • They are NOT British.

    - Mr. J. Smith, Birmingham, England, 15/7/2008 9:03

    I'm sorry terrorists don't have human rights.

    - A M, Wolverhampton, 15/7/2008 9:14

    Along with most other Britons, I couldn't care less how our security services get the information that keeps us safe.

    - Fed-up, Coventry, England, 15/7/2008 9:25

    And the problem is?

    - Andy L, St Helens, Lancs, UK, 15/7/2008 11:15

If the Mail truly wanted to distance itself from these bastards, and not want them to be representative of its readership views, it has the means to do so. Needless to say my comment attacking the overt racism of at least one of the comments will be ignored.

Funeral For A Fiend

When it was announced that Margaret Thatcher was to be afforded a state funeral, I thought it must have been the decision of someone who was round the bend or made spoons bend. A caller to local radio was one of the few to agree with the plan - as long as they waited until she was dead, I understand- said that she had done so much to change society. I don't need to state the damage this woman's change did to this area of the country, so all that is needed is a statement by the Iron Lady herself, oft-quoted:

"I think we have gone through a period when too many children and people have been given to understand"I have a problem, it is the Government's job to cope with it!" or"I have a problem, I will go and get a grant to cope with it!" "I am homeless, the Government must house me!" and so they are casting their problems on society and who is society? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first.

But it went too far. If children have a problem, it is society that is at fault. There is no such thing as society."

Footnote: Douglas Keay faithfully reproduced MT's reflections on society, although in the transcript the phrase "There is no such thing as society" occurs a few paragraphs below its position in the published text.

Don't Mention The Bore

As someone who visits Germany on a regular basis, I am always troubled by the crass obsession in the UK with WW2 and The Germans. Quite what the average German tourist thinks when travelling here is hard to imagine. Switch on your TV in your hotel and you'll find, alongside old Hollywood Americans-won-the-war films in black and white, a multitude of programmes about Nazis and weapons of WW2 masquerading as entertainment and historical documentary.

Don't get me wrong - I do like UK TV History (and the repeat of the olivier-voiced epic, The World At War is well worth watching) but the channel does have a tendency to concentrate on a 6 year period.

Uber-twat Richard Littlejohn today picks up on a story about an airship being used to convey tourists over London. The Guardian has a more sober reading of the story here.

Littlejohn is such a predictable hate-monger that it irks me to give him space. His journalism is so creaky, even WD40 can't help it. He trots out his tired, 'you couldn't make it up' catchphrase when he discovers that the company providing this service is German - and wait for, it (guffaw) is owned by a man named Fritz. Littlejohn lives in a cocoon he has carefully spun over the years: a world of politically incorrect 70s sit-coms, Gilbert and Sullivan parodies and semen-stained copies of Warlord ( Achtung! Mein Gott!)

The migrant Littlejohn lightens up his sycophantic readers' lives with Booker winning prose:

  • This week's edition of You Couldn't Make It Up comes courtesy of Stella Artois, which is planning to hire a Zeppelin, piloted by a German called Fritz, to take tourists on an aerial trip across London.

He continues - beneath a pitiful cartoon -
  • How about bringing them over on doodlebugs? Don't be surprised if they encounter a little light ack-ack over Wapping.

Stan Boardman must be shitting himself.

Test Video 1

Test for proposed web project

Hm........sound ends abruptly..........back to the drawing board.....................bloody interweb.

Fiona Phillips: Words of Wisdom Volume 28

Fiona shows why she didn't take the job with Gordon

I knew things were not going to turn out so well for Gordon Brown when it was announced/leaked in November of last year that on top of adding such lifelong staunch socialists as Digby Jones to his dog's dinner of a kitchen cabinet, he head-hunted the gushing name-dropper of the GMTV sofa, Fiona 'previously expressed an interest in politics' Phillips.

Ms. P has a weekly column in The Daily Mirror where she tells us -in addition to her hilarious children anecdotes - how wonderful every guest she has had on her show is 'in real life' particularly as she wants them back again to flog their latest record/'auto'biography/diet video/Quantum Physics discovery.

To make matters worse, Gordon was spurned like a Coronation Street bride, as FP felt her talents remained in the journalistic sphere.

Reminding us of this yesterday, she informed us:
  • Privileged. That's what I am. Or at least I was on Tuesday when I was among an audience fortunate enough to watch James Morrison perform his new single (I was so mesmerised I can't remember what it was called).
It's a pretty poor day when a journo can't be arsed to do any research and find out the name of the song. or ask her mate James or the office cat at the Mirror. But no, that would spoil the sentence, rather.

There's still hope, of course, Fiona: former GMTV settee-sitter, Esther McVey is likely to be the next Tory MP for Wirral West.

Sympathy From The Devil

A friend of the senior partner in the Mother and Child Quiz team said last week that she was depressed reading her newspaper - all those stories of stabbings, immigration and Gordon Brown. Her newspaper of choice? Step forward The Daily Mail. Yes, it does depress and make you think life under Labour is shit: that is its purpose. As if on May 1st 1997, the halcyon days nurtured by Madame Thatcher had been replaced with the nastiest government ever. The record unemployment, decaying industrial base and the belief that 'there is no such thing as society' only the Me, Me, Me lodge, are long forgotten by the idiots who buy and read the paper.

I noted recently that the Bad Science writer, Ben Goldacre said there was a risk of being inculcated by reading this bile all the time - a sort of journalistic Stockholm Syndrome. Well. I'd rather be trapped in a lift with a flatulent Michael Winner and an amorous Jade Goody than fall victim to this. Therefore, every now and again I treat myself to a life. I've begun to engage in the Liverpool Capital of Culture Year and even had the sad privilege of watching the Mighty Whites robbed by the not-quite-minimum-wage-slaves from Anfield today.

I also managed to satisfy one of my (legal) fantasies by singing a Beatles track (in German, oh yes) with a proper backing band, live on radio - to be heard throughout the discovered world.

However, there are times when my masochistic hobby has to take centre stage. Whereas alleged Formula 1 Max Moseley pays lots of alleged money for alleged fun, in no way connected to his mother and father's political leanings, I like mine to be free.

Max Moseley's father's favourite hate rag, The Daily Mail, today, has a 'moving' story of a Romanian child, Florina Vranceanu, who was allegedly raped by her uncle in Romania and her family sought an abortion in the UK.

The Mail puts their compassionate soul, Natalie Clarke on the case. Nat, who famously covered the Wayne and Colleen Rooney wedding, informing us that,

  • But cynics also point out she's intelligent enough to realise that if she wasn't the wife or girlfriend of Wayne Rooney, the clothes and TV contracts would soon dry up. That Coleen without Wayne reverts to being Coleen, just another kid from Croxteth. How nasty people are.
and then Natalie sneers further:
  • Then she was given her own column with Closer magazine, talking about her clothes and holidays, worth around £100,000, it's said. On her marriage banns she gave 'journalist' as her occupation. Er, right.
Obviously, Coleen will never reach your standards, Natalie but not that you're bitter, right?
  • I don't know, but I would guess that the big chavtastic wedding at Portofino is all down to Coleen, who the aforesaid cynics say is going to demand a lifetime of financial payback for those nights down at the massage parlour.
  • Meanwhile, Wayne took a bunch of what some would call freeloaders - sorry, friends and family - off to Ibiza last week for a five-day stag do.

The rest of this article is just as bad. Shoddy, ill-informed snobbery. Phrases like (and I paraphrase) 'barely a day goes by without Coleen shopping at a designer store' should not be allowed in a free-sheet, let alone a so-called serious national newspaper.

As usual, I digress, for our Nat tries to make recompense with her story about Florina Vranceanu. The article appears to suggest that this is an interview with the girl and her mother. If only they realised what a vicious and evil paper they were talking to; a rag with a less than hidden agenda.

Exhibit A

The original story in The Daily Mail

As the story broke, there was some debate as to whether the girl would be allowed to have an abortion due to the lateness and this brought out the pro-lifers to effervesce over 24 weeks.

On the face of it, the Mail does not make any judgement about the case. That is not its modus operandi, which is to merely light the blue touch paper and let its moronic and bigoted readership fill in the gaps. Much has been said before about headlines bearing no relation to the actual story, and the caveats secreted within the articles. Here, despite the fact that it clearly states that,
  • A wealthy Romanian businesswoman living in London has spoken to the family and promised to make arrangements for the abortion and cover all the costs.
the cerebrally-challenged DM haters vent their collective spleen:
  • I am sorry for this young girl and for what has happened to her, BUT doesn't Romania have their own government? Why should we have to pay for a termination when there are other very young girls of our own falling into the same trap?

    She only got 16 weeks left to go. Why not just let her have the baby then put it into care for adoption?

    - Jules, UK, 26/6/2008 11:16

  • A sad story but why, yet again, are we no doubt picking up the medical bill? Why does the whole of the world think we can sort their problems out?

    - S, Essex, 26/6/2008 14:13

  • Why the hell is this our problem, and why should the taxpayer subsidise or pay for this. I see no mention of anyone paying for the actual operation, only the trip.

    No, sort it out in your own country, we will not pay for this out our taxes.

    - Steve, Lincoln, UK, 26/6/2008 21:57

  • Excuse me? Will they pay for this procedure or just be like many others and do an NHS sponge visit at our expense? I do feel for the girl and her predicament, but good old GB is to be used again when our own are denied treatment because of cost.

    - Karen, London, UK, 26/6/2008 23:04

Then there are the people pontificating about whether abortion is right or wrong, or whether adoption should occur. Nice that people feel so free to pass judgement on morality from the comfort of their own arsehole.

To be fair, others did show compassion and point out the stupidity of the comments. Perhaps the finest comes from - I believe - someone orginally from Bucharest:
  • To the ones who are so much afraid that they will have nothing to eat because they will have to pay for this, can you actually READ? The text is written in your own language.

    And to the Romanian Orthodox Church, for the first time in my life: BRAVO for admitting it is not YOUR judgement and decision but the family's.

    - Gabriela, Bexleyheath, Kent, 27/6/2008 9:37

Romania and its people are always at the forefront of the Mail's compassion. Witness another story on the same day:

Police fury as bosses tell them to 'celebrate' gipsies

  • Their arrival in the capital is said to have led to a huge rise in thieving and prompted the creation of a specialist police squad to tackle their sinister activities.
Ah yes, the tried and trusted trick of hearsay evidence to blacken the reputation of a group of people. The story is ostensibly about a Gipsy (sic) Roma Traveller History Month but is just an excuse to have a go at people whose lifestyle does not fit in with the Mail idyll - ever see ethnic minorities in Mail TV ads? - and allow further bile to pile up. If people don't want to celebrate this, or feel it is an empty gesture on a par with National Foot Odour Day (sponsored by Adidas and Odour Eaters)then so be it, but what do we get?

  • What are these people doing to Britain. I think they have a plan to completely destroy our way of life. Who will stop them.

    - Peter, Greece, 12/7/2008 3:35

  • This is typical in PC Britain only Italy has the guts to get rid of them, but then as usual the rights of the criminal are put above those of the victim.

    - SHIRLEY, France, 12/7/2008 5:49

SHIRLEY, I SAID SHIRLEY, is a fan of Berlusconi. Perhaps she supports Le Pen. Anyway, nice of her to lecture us on foreigners from across Le Manche. Ditto Peter, whose Ouzo drinking has led to him forgetting how to use punctuation.

The frustrating thing about Planet Mail is that it increasingly resembles Groundhog Day. The article continues,
  • Earlier this year, police staged a dramatic series of dawn raids in Slough, Berkshire, in a campaign to stamp out a Fagin-style crime ring involving Romanian slave children smuggled into Britain.

    Ten children were taken into care and 24 of their suspected controllers arrested on suspicion of human trafficking and organising theft involving up to £1billion a year. Many of those arrested were understood to be Roma gipsies.
Sounds familiar. Oh yes. As The Guardian reported in February 2008, and I referred to here.

From brilliant coup to cock-up. How the story of Fagin's urchins fell apart

In the nine days since the raid all but one child has been returned to the Roma community in Slough, according to a Romanian diplomat, and none of the 24 adults arrested at the scene has been charged with child trafficking offences.

Now, I'm not suggesting that The Guardian is correct and The Mail is lying, twisting bastards but I know who my money is on.

Clipper Race Finish: 5th July 2008

People in Glass Shit-houses

From today's Guardian

Daily Mail publisher is red-faced after laptop with personal data is stolen

Daily Mail publisher Associated Newspapers has admitted that a laptop containing financial and personal details of thousands of staff, suppliers and contributors has been stolen.

After months of criticising "criminally careless" government departments for losing confidential records, the company has been forced to send out an embarrassing letter telling journalists they may now be at risk of identity theft, can reveal.

Even those who no longer work for either Associated Newspapers, which also publishes the Mail on Sunday and the Evening Standard, and regional newspaper publisher Northcliffe Media have been affected and contacted.

Daily Mail cover story on the lost computer discs row in November 2007 The Daily Mail's scathing splash in the government's lost computer discs scandal last autumn The letters from the Associated Newspapers group finance director, Simon Dyson, and his Northcliffe counterpart, Martyn Hindley, tell recipients that their "name, address, bank account number and bank sort code were the sensitive data lost" when the laptop was stolen last week.

Dyson and Hindley reveal the laptop was "password protected" but tell recipients to contact their banks and also "consult the government website … for advice on avoiding or dealing with identity theft".

The letters add: "The likelihood is that this theft was carried out in an opportunistic manner by a thief who will not realise that there is any personal data on the computer and who may just erase what is on the hard drive in order to disguise the fact that the computer is stolen.

"We have, of course, notified the police of the theft of the laptop and are talking to the Office of the Information Commissioner about what has happened.

Associated and Northcliffe also apologise to those affected and say that since the incident, which was caused by a "technical issue", security procedures have been "strengthened".

Associated Newspapers has been at the forefront of coverage of the recent bank and government department missing data scandals, so the incident is likely to cause embarrassment.

In May, the Daily Mail attacked "blundering banks" for "misplacing [their] customers' private personal information".

Last December a leader article in the Mail called the recent data loss scandals involving the NHS and government departments "criminally careless".

A Daily Mail & General Trust spokeswoman said: "DMGT confirms that a laptop company computer containing certain confidential information was stolen last week.

"The password-protected computer contained limited information on some current employers and suppliers from the group's newspaper division.

"DMGT has informed the police about the incident. DMGT has contacted all those affected and apologised to all those affected by this breach in security."

No mention of this in the Mail itself as obviously it feel that this is just bad luck; theft happens. If it happened to others they would not be the first to cast stones, would they:

Oh no, minister! Blears could face police inquiry after laptop is stolen in new data blunder

Daily Mail 18th June 2008 By Benedict Brogan

A Cabinet minister was facing the threat of a police investigation last night after a computer containing classified information was stolen from her office.

Now, the above story is slightly different in that it surrounds security matters and alleged breaches of protocol, but note the vitriol and snide remarks from the Mail's customers.

I hope Mr. Brogan's details are safe. I'd hate to see tainted earnings go astray.

News Updates

Majid Ahmed (Yesterday here)

The Guardian allowed Mr. Ahmed to write about the decision not to allow him a place on its medical course, and there's even a supportive article by Carol Sarler in the Mail here. Interestingly, there were no comments at the time of posting. As I've said before, a conspiracy of silence speaks louder than words where Mail readers are concerned. Simply contrast the amount of bile spewed on trivial cases compared to serious matters. I think it's a case of the readers having difficulty in taking a position - not something the Guardian's CIF trollmeisters have a problem with.

Jeremy Clarkson/ Top Gear - (Yesterday here)

Whilst I may be a minority of one over the 'wop' comment, it seems JC has met the wrath of the BBC -

Top Gear in hot water over G&T on ice

As he like to court contoversy, it's best to ignore the loud-mouthed twat.

More Milan Robbery

Ferrari in Milan by Eric The Fish

Just when I thought it was just me..........comes confirmation that it was just me. I noticed last week that there was a google 'Jeremy Clarkson be-wop' - almost a googlewack perhaps. Anyhoo, as I spouted in my diatribe here, I noticed a Clarkson carefully-prepared-ad-lib when reviewing a Ferrari.

The BBC respond - for they are not the unaccountable daleks of other networks - and I'm sure Jeremy will see the error of his ways and sign another lucrative contract with the Beeb.

  • Dear Mr Fish

    Thank you for your e-mail regarding 'Top Gear', broadcast on 22 June.

    I was sorry to read that you were offended by a comment Jeremy Clarkson made while The Stig was testing a new Scuderia Ferrari.

    Please accept our apologies for any offence caused. Throughout the testing Jeremy was in awe of this car and he attributed much of that to its Italian design. As usual he made a few references which seem like typical stereotypes. As you're aware this is typical of Jeremy but he certainly doesn't mean to upset anyone and he wasn't taking a view or making a statement as much as he was a random reference. He certainly didn't mean to use the term as a derogatory slur as some in the past have.

    That said, I appreciate that you feel he overstepped the mark this time. As a result I've registered your complaint on our audience log. This is a daily report of audience feedback that's circulated to BBC staff, including members of the BBC Executive Board, channel controllers and senior managers as well as the 'Top Gear' production team.

    Thank you again for taking the time to contact us.


    BBC Complaints
    Wednesday, 2 July, 2008

I'm happy that we do get some response and I've always been weary of serial complainers, but let's face it, the reply does not address the use of the word 'wop' or seek to justify it. It is not enough to say that it's just Jeremy - this seems to have helped Boris Johnson - either it is acceptable or it is not.

Maybe the acceptance relies upon the number of complaints. Maybe I just want to sit in Schumacher's car again.

Daylight Robbery in Milan

Milan Central - Mussolini's Bambino

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Saturday June 21, 2008

The best thing about this job is you have an excuse to read the Daily Mail every day: but sometimes, out of the corner of my eye, I worry that it might infect me.

Well, this is a voluntary exposure to the Daily Bile so think how I feel. It's all self-inflicted.

There has been much debate recently about civil liberties, freedom and fairness; this in itself is a good thing. David Davis's re-exchanging of vows with the electorate of Haltemprice initially injected some interest into the debate, although the subsequent decision of the Labour and Liberal parties not to stand has taken the shine off. (For the record, I feel the Labour Party made the correct call - just about).

In addition, a number of news stories - not all UK based - have highlighted the issue.

Firstly, we have the story in The Mirror et al, that a Housing Association in Surrey has decided to impose a curfew as part of its tenancy agreement. Draconian in itself but exacerbated by the close proximity of the homes to privately owned ones, whose children remain unfettered.

Now, part of the grumpy old fart in me thinks a general curfew might be a good thing in some areas, and the HA are within their rights to insist on certain levels of behaviour in fairness to all its tenants, regardless of the fact that there are more affluent homes as part of the same development. Indeed, even before the requirement for a percentage of homes to be set aside for social housing, HA tenants could find themselves close to existing homeowners. However, this appears to have been a badly thought out plan. What may have begun as an attempt to preserve social cohesion has clearly ended up being devisive and unfair. A less charitable view would be that - as some of those affected point out - they are pandering to the monied classes up on the hill.

As the scheme appears unworkable, I expect a climb-down to be undertaken and sanity to prevail. Otherwise, the posh kids will be able to claim the game once the referee blows at 9 p.m.

Next, we have the election charade (or Charamba to coin a phrase) in Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe Government Spokesman, George Charamba said today that the United States, Britain and other European countries could "go hang". Given Saddam's finale, Messrs C and M should be thankful they don't have oil.

Then, we have the case of potential medical student, Majhid Ahmed, from a deprived area, denied a place at Imperial College London on the grounds that he has a spent conviction for burglary.
The college is quoted as saying,
  • "The college requests information on a candidate's 'unspent' convictions only ... medicine, however, is focused on preparing students for a career that has particularly demanding requirements. Medical practitioners hold a position of responsibility in society, and must often deal with vulnerable people. The public must have confidence in the integrity and probity of its doctors.

    "Imperial believes that by carrying out and acting upon the CRB [Criminal Records Bureau] checks of potential medical students, it plays an important role in helping to uphold this trust."

The decision to uphold the bar on him taking a place comes despite references from charities and doctors he has worked with, together with straight A grades. As soon as I saw the story, I was reminded of a not-so-dissimilar case, that of Louise Woodward. (born in Elton, Cheshire not Cambridgeshire, Wiki people). For brevity's sake I shall merely point out that she has a conviction in the USA for manslaughter involving a child in her care. She then pursued a legal career, taking a degree in London and embarking on training. Indeed, I was somewhat surprised to see her at Liverpool Family Proceedings Court shadowing a solicitor, but hey ho.

The crucial aspect is that whilst criminal convictions (particularly dishonesty) can be a bar to practising law, the Law Society uses discretion.

Similarly, the General Medical Council yesterday confirmed that people can still become doctors if they have a criminal record. A candidate could be barred if thought to pose a risk, but evidence including references would be considered.

Not only does this smack of one rule for some, it sends out a clear message: we want to rehabilitate you, but don't get ideas above your station. I hope Mr. Ahmed gets further offers soon.

Finally, as 5CC pointed out some hours ago, it's that time of the year when The Daily Mail has a go at gypsies (or gipsies as it continues to print, not that it stops its salivating sickos using another spelling). As its intrepid fashion expert Liz Jones failed to find any swan-eating travellers at Glastonbury, it turns to its patriotic counterparts in Italy for succour:

Caught in the act: The 'gipsy' child thieves who could teach Fagin a trick or two

Sorry for shouting, but it is like being bellowed at by a particularly bigoted Mussolini-lookalike.
Of course, as usual, the 'story' is not quite what it says on the tin helmet.

Fagin, eh? Seen that somewhere before.

The Mail paints the picture: young kids pickpocketing outside Milan's railway station. Now, notwithstanding the fact that any seasoned traveller should be aware of such possibilities at every major transport station, and criminality is criminlality whoever perpetrates it, there is no justification for what follows:

  • Children, all below the age they can be prosecuted, are sent out by their parents to steal cash, cards and phones - in fact anything that can be sold on

nd the evidence is where? But this is Mail Land. Just use quotation marks and caveats sparingly and allow the moronic element of its readership to fill in the blanks like a journalistic paint-by-numbers.

  • Both youngsters are pickpockets and both are also almost certainly the offspring of Roma gipsies.
Berlusconi's solution is simple: fingerprint the Roma. And this gets some support from the Mail faithful:

  • It's not just Milan, parts of Britain are like this with organised mobs of children stealing in London and other cities. Unless immigration is controlled from Eastern Europe, expect more of the same.

    - Sue G, Perth, Australia, 1/7/2008 8:16

You see, even though Sue is half way round the globe, she sees all. Amazingly, the Mail sees no problem in printing such borderline racism (to be charitable).

  • We sent my parents to Rome as a gift for their Golden wedding anniversary. They had a miserable time fighting off these children and were not always successful. Even worse was the way the police seemed to collude with the Roma, beating the children and taking their pick from what was stolen. Very sad situation - mum and dad were so pleased to come home.

    - Elisabeth, Limoges, France, 1/7/2008 8:17

This doesn't even make sense. They collude with the children they then beat and steal from. Maybe lost in translation from our French expert.

  • Anyone who has had direct experience of gypsies will know quite how bad they are. All this hand-wringing from the usual liberal suspects is only to be expected.

    Go to it Rome - clear them out.

    - Geoff M, Brittany, France, 1/7/2008 8:18

Where the Mail fears to tread, another cross-channel racist steps up to the plate.

  • If Italy can get tough with these people why can't we - oh I forgot the Human Rights Act - they have a human right to rob us.

    - Declan, London, 1/7/2008 11:42

Declan thinks Italy is not part of the EU. Strewth.

  • UNICEF and the rest of the idiot do-gooders should butt out, whinging about children's rights. If they choose to rob, steal and thieve they deserve to be finger-printed. Moreover they deserve to be removed back to Romania.

    We need to put this idea on hold that immigrants should be treated with kid gloves because they don't know our laws. Rubbish. Either change your ways or head back to where you came from. Simple as that.

    - Chris Carr, Southampton, 1/7/2008 13:16

Carr is that peculiar breed of Briton, Thickus Shittus. Never mind reading the story, just make your own one up and hope nobody notices.The newspaper equivalent of John Redwood's Welsh National Anthem.

Fortunately, there are some sane comments:
  • If there are gipsy Roma families that are causing trouble or mistreating their children, they need to be dealt with like people from any other minority. Such cases shouldn’t simply be seen as an opportunity to gain votes or to sell a few more newspapers. Crime is the symptom of a greater problem, and if the problems aren’t dealt with then the problem persists. Ultimately society decides what kind of world we are going to live in. When people are excluded from society they make their own rules. I don’t say that is right it is just the way it goes. Catching criminals and punishing them is essential, but it doesn’t change any thing. Changing hearts and minds, changes everything.

    - Joseph G. Jones (The Gypsy Council Ltd, Secretary), Amersham Bucks, 1/7/2008 8:00

The Council's site is currently under reconstruction (imagine Mail comments about tarmac etc) but there is an interesting affiliated 'permanent site' here.
  • The comments here are disgusting. Fingerprinting children of a minority because they are from a minority? Even the Catholic Church has condemned it yet people here think it is common sense. Really quite unreal.

    - Kevin Boatang, London, 1/7/2008 10:05

There is daylight robbery in Milan: over £4 for a pint of piss poor Peroni.