THE SUN claimed an ‘exclusive’ last Friday when it exposed that ‘callous asylum seekers are barbecuing the queen’s swans’. The paper’s front page ranted, ‘East European poachers lure the protected royal birds into traps, an official Metropolitan Police report says.’
Its reporter Mike Sullivan went on: ‘Police swooped on a group of East Europeans and caught them red handed about to cook a pair of royal swans in a park in Beckton, east London.’
The Sun claimed that ‘hundreds of the graceful creatures have been killed.’ Under the headline ‘Love Birds Die Crying’ the Sun added, ‘Swans mate for life and mourn their partner when it dies, like a human.’
A ‘police source’ was quoted in the paper saying, ‘It’s tragic that people from abroad don’t respect our traditions.’ What is really tragic is that the Sun has no respect for the truth when it comes to asylum seekers.
In just 24 hours the Sun ‘exclusive’ was exposed as lies. On Saturday it was revealed that there was no ‘police swoop’ and no ‘Metropolitan Police report’ about asylum seekers eating royal birds. The Independent quoted Scotland Yard’s response to the Sun ‘exclusive’ – ‘There is no police report.’
The police said there had been a decline in the swan population and went on: ‘There appears to be a perception that this is attributable to Eastern Europeans. We stress we have no evidence of this.’
A police spokesperson added that, despite considerable efforts, they could not back up claims that asylum seekers had been caught in east London barbecuing ducks or swans.
DEMOCRACY MARCHES on in Central Asia, now home to allies of George Bush who have generously provided the US with a string of military bases. Nursultan Nazarbayev has announced he intends to stay on as president of Kazakhstan in 2006, when he was due to step down.
Nazarbayev was a ruling state bureaucrat and a member of the Politburo when Kazakhstan was part of the Soviet Union. He stayed on as president when the Russian empire collapsed in 1991. He has since steered the country towards the US and Western oil and minerals companies. The last election, in 1999, fell ‘far short of the standards’ expected, according to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Nazarbayev disqualified his main opponent on the eve of the poll. A journalist, Sergei Duvanov, who dared to criticise Nazarbayev publicly was jailed five months ago on trumped-up charges. The US is looking to expand its military presence in Kazakhstan.
THE US wants exemption from the International Criminal Court. It has insisted that states signing up to the body also sign a waiver of immunity for US forces. The US suspended military assistance to nearly 50 states that hadn’t signed the waivers last week.
These include Colombia, which is cooperating with Bush in a war against left wing guerrillas in the country. The US Congress granted immunity to US forces. The US has forces in 140 countries.
29 – The number of millions of pounds the privatised air traffic control company, Nats, lost last year. Flight delays jumped nearly 60 percent. Three executives are getting bonuses totalling £140,000.
A SECRET detention centre which violates international law is being used by the Israeli secret service to imprison and torture Palestinians. The centre is run by Shin Bet. They refuse to say exactly where it is. If prisoners ask where they are the guards tell them, ‘On the moon.’ The cells are painted black and only a small amount of light filters through. Prisoners are kept in isolation.
H<4>In the Frame – No. 18 Randall Tobias
THE MAN George Bush has appointed to head the US’s global AIDS policy. Tobias is the former chairman and chief executive of Eli Lilly & Co, one of the big pharmaceutical companies. He is a significant contributor to Bush’s Republican Party. Bush has blocked Third World countries’ access to AIDS drugs to protect the profits of the pharmaceutical companies.
SOME PARENTS end up having to invent things they have done over the summer break. This is so their children will have something to write about in the traditional school essay about what they did during their holidays.
A new report from children’s charity Barnardo’s says parents struggle because of a loss of free school meals during the holiday period and the need to save up for next term’s school uniform.
JOHN CARL Marquez was arrested in the US state of Oklahoma for a crime that carried a possible year in prison and a £2,000 fine. Then he spat in an arresting officer’s face and was charged with ‘placing bodily fluid upon a government employee’. He has now been given the maximum sentence for that crime – life imprisonment.
US GOVERNORS warn that state budget deficits are the biggest for over 50 years. Some US states have taken to drastic cost-cutting measures like unscrewing every third light bulb in public buildings, getting teachers to double as caretakers, and raising tuition fees.
An elected official of East Cleveland has called on George Bush to wage war on the area, as in Iraq, so that its roads, schools and crumbling infrastructure could then be rebuilt.
‘God told me to strike at Al Qaida and I struck them. And then he instructed me to strike Saddam, which I did. And now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East.’
George Bush to Palestinian prime minister Mahmoud Abbas
‘If you tell people you are going to war because there is an imminent threat to national security, and then in the aftermath nothing is found, it opens up a credibility gap.’
Dame Pauline Neville-Jones former head of the Joint Intelligence Committee
‘I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq’s nuclear weapons programme was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.’
Joseph Wilson former US ambassador hired by the CIA to investigate claims that Saddam got uranium from Niger
‘Every child knows when you play hide and seek that it may take minutes to hide something, but it can take hours to find it.’
Geoff Hoon defence secretary
‘Most soldiers would empty their bank accounts just for a plane ticket back.’
Soldier on the low morale of troops stationed in Iraq
The US defence department announced last week that a satellite positioning device had been found in an Afghan cave. They said the equipment was lost in Somalia in 1993. The discovery, they proclaimed, was concrete evidence at last that Bin Laden's Al Qaida network was behind the deaths of 18 US soldiers in the disastrous raid on Mogadishu.