Leveson has put the media’s privacy problem on full public display

Paul McMullan’s views are callous, but it’s true that privacy can be a cloak that hides as well as a sanctuary that protects

If you were planning to write a play about the phone hacking scandal – and I’m sure someone is – then the worst tabloid journalists will be drawn just like Paul McMullan who yesterday gave evidence at the Leveson inquiry. A more off-putting example of the species it would be hard to invent, and yesterday, like a pantomime villain, he stepped out from the shadows to spill the beans. Yes, phone hacking and other dubious practices had been routine. At no point did he appear more villainous than his breathtaking defence of these practices on the ground that “privacy is the space that bad people need to do bad things in”.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/nov/30/leveson-inquiry-media-privacy

My Christmas with Gaddafi’s spokesman

Moussa Ibrahim was one of her partner’s most charming PhD students and quickly became a good friend. So imagine the shock when Ros Coward turned on the TV and discovered he was the public face of Gaddafi’s regime

Moussa Ibrahim, Gaddafi’s spokesman, who became familiar to the world through his appearances in the Rixos hotel justifying the Gaddafi regime, was reported captured last week. Currently there is no news of his whereabouts, or whether he is dead or alive. If it’s the latter, his fate is not promising. It doesn’t seem highly likely that those who dispatched Gaddafi to his grisly end will be very forgiving to someone who, as the dictator’s minister of information, was seen as the public face of the regime and who spread Gaddafi’s inflammatory messages. But why should I care about the fate of a Gaddafi loyalist and whether he is tortured or not? Because only last Christmas, Moussa was in my home with his German wife and new baby. I cooked them a traditional roast dinner and we played with the baby. Moussa was very hands-on, changing nappies and rocking the baby to sleep. Perhaps more surprisingly, we toasted the Tunisian uprising over several glasses of good red wine, to which Moussa was always extremely partial.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/oct/25/my-christmas-with-gaddafis-spokesman

Families must not have the right to play executioner

Relatives are too close for objectivity. Doctors are fallible. And society is intolerant of frailty. That’s why a judge was correct to rule a brain-damaged woman should be allowed to live

High Court judge Mr Justice Baker has ruled that a brain-damaged 52-year-old woman in a ‘minimally conscious state’ should be kept alive, denying her family’s request to withdraw the life support sustaining her.

We have much to thank him for in making this judgment. 

He has not only upheld the legal presumption that exists in favour of preserving life — and which has been under such sustained attack in recent years — but he has also done so in a case that poignantly illustrates exactly why this presumption should remain.

Full article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2043582/Families-right-play-executioner.html

This image of the Dowlers should be a reminder to the power elite

It was the Dowlers’ suffering that finally brought phone hacking to public attention. Their pain should never be forgotten

The settlement between Rupert Murdoch and the Dowler family announced this week, and the photos that accompanied it, were a powerful reminder that it was the fate of one young girl and the ongoing suffering of her family that is at the heart of the phone-hacking story. Murdoch’s empire foundered eventually not on dirty tricks employed with spoilt celebrities but because his employees added to the suffering of a family who had already suffered too much.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/sep/21/dowlers-phone-hacking-power-elite

Sending Liz Jones to report on Somalia is grotesque

The fashion writer represents the worst excesses of the west’s dieting obsession. Why send her to cover a devastating famine?

 

Who would be the most inappropriate journalist you could think of to send to cover the famine in Somalia? Asked that question, it wouldn’t be long before most people arrive at the correct answer: Liz Jones, a narcissistic fashion journalist, a lifelong anorexic, a person who just spent £13,500 on a facelift, and a confessional columnist who charts her obsessions every week in the Mail on Sunday’s You magazine. If a further question was asked along the lines of “could there be anything worse than the simple fact of sending such an inappropriate journalist to cover a famine?”, the answer would have to be yes. Yes, she could use the occasion to berate the British NHS and the caring professions for not being caring “at all”. Apparently they failed to realise the fate of the starving Somalians rested on Jones being able to queue jump.

Full article

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/aug/01/liz-jones-somalia-famine

America’s other debt crisis

Amid the war of words taking place in Congress, nothing is said of the environmental cost of overconsumption

One word is missing in the American debate over the debt crisis: austerity. It’s a revealing absence. In spite of the vast deficit, and despite the US being the home of individualism, no way is being offered for individuals to make a difference by changing their lifestyles.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/jul/29/us-debt-crisis-environment

Graduates: A generation abandoned

Graduate unemployment is not only creating an economic black hole but a terrible human tragedy

A poll reveals that of this year’s crop of graduates, 27% will be heading home to live with parents. Cue comments on the “boomerang generation”, along with explanations that young people prefer free catering and laundry in the parental home to the challenge of independence.

What’s really surprising is there are not far more. Youth unemployment currently stands at 24%, more than three times the national average of 7.7%. Given the price of accommodation and the insecure, temporary nature of young people’s jobs, it’s more a case of who on earth could actually afford to move out.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/jul/19/graduates-generation-abandoned

Southern Cross wakes us up to the business of caring

We can’t leave our elderly to the market’s mercies – yet this government will not commit to averting a funding catastrophe

Southern Cross was owned by a private equity firm using care homes for exactly the kind of property speculation that underlay the banking crisis. So it might be tempting to think its demise is mainly indicative of just how catastrophic that business model turned out to be. But it’s even more a reminder of a subject we often choose to ignore: how we look after our elderly. The collapse of the UK’s largest residential care home provider is a shocking reminder that care of our elderly is in the hands of people who are in the business of care for profits – and that their business is almost as frail as the people they are looking after.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/jul/11/southern-cross-business-of-caring

Kate Middleton and Charlene Wittstock: A tale of two princesses

Kate Middleton has impressed the public on her first foreign tour, but in Monaco Princess Charlene’s ‘fairytale’ marriage has got off to a tricky start

Any hopes that “princess mania” might die down have now been dashed by Kate’s first royal trip to Canada. If anything, England’s new princess looks set to attract ever more attention as the tour moves to California. But this week, as images were beamed back of her every outfit and move, a tale of another princess offered an interesting counterpoint. Pictures of Monaco‘s implausibly named Princess Charlene weeping through her wedding were an unsettling reminder that the reality of marrying into the European monarchy can be rather darker and more coercive.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2011/jul/09/princess-charlene-kate-fairytale-wedding

Royal wedding: My patriotic fever pitch

A royal pundit vacuum in the US means I’m a go-to expert in a country gorging itself on Kate ‘n’ Wills trivia

‘Are y’all ready for the wedding?” Whenever I speak in Philadelphia, where I have been living for the last few months, they ask this same question. Apparently I have a quaint accent. And because of this quaint British accent I am obviously intimate with the royal family and their preparations for the wedding of William and Kate that is obsessing America.

I also happen to have written a book about Princess Diana, and this makes me appealing not only to the general public but the Philly media. No, not appealing; valuable – because there’s a pundit vacuum here. The American media is moving out wholesale, heading for London. CNN is sending at least 125 staffers and NBC more than 500. Top anchors are going from all stations: ABC’s Barbara Walters is already there. Rival companies promote their coverage by the numbers of reporters they will have in situ. Wedding coverage, which started back in January, is reaching fever pitch.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/apr/25/royal-wedding-patriotic-fever-pitch