The Long Weekend

Hiya. If you haven’t dropped in to I.Doubt.It over the weekend, it was a busy one. Thanks to everyone who made Saturday a record day for visitors. Here’s the best of what the rest of you missed:

What Phone Is Right For You? 7 – I, Android

Latest in the ongoing series of articles aimed at helping you pick the best fruit in the smartphone jungle. Today I look at Google’s Android and ask if it is a better alternative to Apple’s iPhone.

Don’t Trust The Data Protection Commission

The agency charged with keeping us safe from the likes of the News Of The World’s “phone hacking” has a suggestion to prevent the same thing happening here. Unfortunately, it’s wrong.

Expel The Papal Nuncio

Join the campaign to tell the Vatican that canon law is not above the law of the land.

They Really Are Out To Get You

Despite ever more excruciating cuts into Ireland’s budget, no matter how much we reduce health and social spending, the US-based agencies continue to revise our credit rating down. Could there be a hidden agenda?

Your Morning Monkey

Just a picture of me. With a monkey.

Some Of Last Week’s Highlights

Stuff you might not have seen yet if you’re new to I.Doubt.It

Good Morning, Euro. Euro?

I come up with a brilliant solution to the currency crisis.

The George Michael Revelations

Disgraced Murdoch minion Rebekah Brooks admitted her papers got celebrity news from police informers – or so George Michael claimed on Twitter. I edit his tweets together to make his allegations clear.

The World’s Greatest Secret

Before she was fired herself, when Rebekah Brooks made the entire staff of the News Of The World redundant, she told them that when the full story comes out in a year from now they would see she had no choice. I think I know what the terrible secret is.

First Impressions of Google+

Is it the new Facebook? Is it the new Twitter? Is it the new Twitface?

Murdoch’s Apology

Here, according to sources, is the full-page advert that will be carried by all UK daily papers tomorrow.

Was the News Of The World “in the business of holding others to account”? I didn’t realise. I thought you bought it if you wanted to read about famous people having sex.

Rebekah Gone. Rupert Going?

Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and Chief Executive
Hello World

In an inadvertent blasphemy this morning, a BBC news anchor described the leadership of the Murdoch empire as “The father, son, and Rebekah Brooks”. The unholy trinity has been broken now it seems.

I am not surprised that Brooks resigned, but I am surprised she went today. This morning the Guardian was forced to apologise for saying that the Sun had gained illegal access to medical records. There was a chance then to make it look as if all the allegations relating to Murdoch’s other UK titles, the Sun, Times, and Sunday Times, were nothing but the personal vitriol of failed PM Gordon Brown, and that therefore the problem was confined to – and died with – the News Of The World.

Today would have been the day to fight back, but instead she surrenders. It leads one to speculate that scapegoating the NOTW is a tactic they know is going to fail, that it will soon become obvious that the rot spreads further through News International.

And into its parent News Corp, owner of Fox and Dow Jones? What we need to know now is whether her journalistic methods were condoned by the father himself – and it’s hard to imagine it being otherwise. Even if he somehow managed to remain carefully uninformed about the details of practices at News International, it beggars belief to think that someone with his experience couldn’t tell.

It will be made out that he was too busy with his American and other enterprises to pay any real attention to his UK holdings. But just as questions of illegal actions by other UK Murdoch titles make it look like Brooks was the rogue element, comparable practices in the US or Australia would make it inescapable that Murdoch himself is the common factor.

We await the conclusions of the FBI with interest.

Rebekah Gone. Rupert Going?

Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and Chief Executive
Hello World

In an inadvertent blasphemy this morning, a BBC news anchor described the leadership of the Murdoch empire as “The father, son, and Rebekah Brooks”. The unholy trinity has been broken now it seems.

I am not surprised that Brooks resigned, but I am surprised she went today. This morning the Guardian was forced to apologise for saying that the Sun had gained illegal access to medical records. There was a chance then to make it look as if all the allegations relating to Murdoch’s other UK titles, the Sun, Times, and Sunday Times, were nothing but the personal vitriol of failed PM Gordon Brown, and that therefore the problem was confined to – and died with – the News Of The World.

Today would have been the day to fight back, but instead she surrenders. It leads one to speculate that scapegoating the NOTW is a tactic they know is going to fail, that it will soon become obvious that the rot spreads further through News International.

And into its parent News Corp, owner of Fox and Dow Jones? What we need to know now is whether her journalistic methods were condoned by the father himself – and it’s hard to imagine it being otherwise. Even if he somehow managed to remain carefully uninformed about the details of practices at News International, it beggars belief to think that someone with his experience couldn’t tell.

It will be made out that he was too busy with his American and other enterprises to pay any real attention to his UK holdings. But just as questions of illegal actions by other UK Murdoch titles make it look like Brooks was the rogue element, comparable practices in the US or Australia would make it inescapable that Murdoch himself is the common factor.

We await the conclusions of the FBI with interest.

Press versus Politics

Murdoch's papers actually boasted that they could decide elections

What’s happening in Britain today is pretty damn exciting. Bluntly put, politicians have been running scared of Rupert Murdoch for decades. He has been a kingmaker. He owns enough of the media, including dailies and sundays in both the broadsheet and tabloid markets, to influence the entire political agenda, arguably even deciding the outcome of elections.

Politicians have feared him, politicians have tried to appease him. And not just because he could shape the agenda of public debate. He could also use his papers, and the people employed by them, to exert personal pressure. The man who owns the London Times also kept a couple of rottweilers, and had no qualms about using them to intimidate.

The more success he had at pushing politicians around, the softer they went on media regulation and ownership, so giving him more power. His ownership of leading names in all the paper markets was leveraged into a major interest in Sky, the biggest money-earner in UK TV. Money which helped further increase his market dominance and so his ability to push politicians around.

This was never going to end well.

And it looks likely to happen all over again in the US, where his Fox News has helped shift the debate drastically towards the right – and indeed away from debate at all, to a place where actual democratic politics is paralysed by polarisation and shouting. Murdoch is a businessman willing to damage the public cultures of countries within which he operates in order to profit.

What we’re getting to watch here is the worm finally turning. And it’s wonderful to see. Realising that public opinion might for once be on their side, cowed politicians are beginning to get a gleam in their eyes. They are imagining a world where they are not afraid. And they are thrilled by what a better world that could be.

For once, you can sympathise with the politicians. The press must be powerful, it must be free and strong. But dominance by one man and his organisation is every bit as pernicious as dominance by government.

Beginning Of The End Of An Empire?

Detail from photographic portrait of Charles D...
"Let me see, what to call a tedious, overweening news editor... Evertrue Pratthandle? Raphael Trundlethroat? Ted?

Like many others, I bought the News Of The World for the last time today. Like many others, I also bought it for the first time today. Morbid curiosity. Of course this issue is hardly representative. It’s devoted to showing what a loss it is to the news publishing world.

To this end they reprint their very first front page from 1843. It sets out the paper’s stall in prose which, if you didn’t know was the real thing, you’d take for a parody of long-winded Victorian pomposity:

The general utility of all classes is the idea with which this paper originated. To give to the poorer classes of society a paper which would suit their means, and to the middle, as well as the rich, a journal, which from its immense circulation, should command their attention, have been the influencing motives that have caused the appearance of “NEWS OF THE WORLD”. We shall make no apologies for these motives, because, we conceive, that in their accomplishment we shall attain an end, that in the present state of England is not only desirable, but absolutely necessary. Journalism for the rich man, and journalism for the poor, has up to this time, been so broadly and distinctly marked, as the manners, the dress, and the habitations of the rich, are from the customs, the squalor, and the dens of the poor.

Can’t seem to decide there whether the poor are objects of pity or their market. Maybe the adverts said “Read it in the comfort of your own hovel!” And what was, with all of those, freaking, commas?

It carries on in this vein for – Christ – over three thousand constipated words. You couldn’t make it up. Hell, Dickens would have had trouble making it up. All reprinting this seems to establish is that the News Of the World was every bit as much a piece of unbearable crap 168 years ago as it was, for the last time, today.

Though presumably it was at least less criminal.

Speaking of which, Murdoch may be in even more trouble than previously thought. As the Telegraph points out, his News International is a US-based corporation, and the US has a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) outlawing bribery payments abroad. If found guilty of making payments to British police, News International may be facing fines of hundreds of millions of dollars.

It will be interesting to see how that gets reported on Fox News.

Beginning Of The End Of An Empire?

Detail from photographic portrait of Charles D...
"Let me see, what to call a tedious, overweening news editor... Evertrue Pratthandle? Raphael Trundlethroat? Ted?

Like many others, I bought the News Of The World for the last time today. Like many others, I also bought it for the first time today. Morbid curiosity. Of course this issue is hardly representative. It’s devoted to showing what a loss it is to the news publishing world.

To this end they reprint their very first front page from 1843. It sets out the paper’s stall in prose which, if you didn’t know was the real thing, you’d take for a parody of long-winded Victorian pomposity:

The general utility of all classes is the idea with which this paper originated. To give to the poorer classes of society a paper which would suit their means, and to the middle, as well as the rich, a journal, which from its immense circulation, should command their attention, have been the influencing motives that have caused the appearance of “NEWS OF THE WORLD”. We shall make no apologies for these motives, because, we conceive, that in their accomplishment we shall attain an end, that in the present state of England is not only desirable, but absolutely necessary. Journalism for the rich man, and journalism for the poor, has up to this time, been so broadly and distinctly marked, as the manners, the dress, and the habitations of the rich, are from the customs, the squalor, and the dens of the poor.

Can’t seem to decide there whether the poor are objects of pity or their market. Maybe the adverts said “Read it in the comfort of your own hovel!” And what was, with all of those, freaking, commas?

It carries on in this vein for – Christ – over three thousand constipated words. You couldn’t make it up. Hell, Dickens would have had trouble making it up. All reprinting this seems to establish is that the News Of the World was every bit as much a piece of unbearable crap 168 years ago as it was, for the last time, today.

Though presumably it was at least less criminal.

Speaking of which, Murdoch may be in even more trouble than previously thought. As the Telegraph points out, his News International is a US-based corporation, and the US has a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) outlawing bribery payments abroad. If found guilty of making payments to British police, News International may be facing fines of hundreds of millions of dollars.

It will be interesting to see how that gets reported on Fox News.

The World’s Greatest Secret

The smile that says "I still have a job"

A secret so shocking that when it’s revealed in a year from now, former staff of the News of the World will turn to Rebekah Brooks and say “Thank you for firing us.”

That’s got to be something pretty bad.

I’m actually worried here, trying to think of something worse than what the NOTW has already done. They bribed the police, for God’s sake. They spied on the grieving families of soldiers and London bombing victims. They interfered with the phone of a child murder-kidnap victim, giving her parents false reason to believe she was still alive.

But this is something they’re ashamed of.

Oh boy.

The fact that it’s not going to be revealed for another year gives it a great Seventh Secret of Fatima vibe, but why is this the case? Most likely, something they were hiding is now bound to come out in the police investigation or the trial. But if it’s bound to, why not reveal it now and end all the wild speculation? Unless of course it’s worse than our wildest speculation.

Which again, would be pretty bad.

More likely, they don’t want to reveal it now because it has a bearing on News International’s most sensitive current business in the UK – their attempted takeover of BSkyB. And as this rests wholly on the question of whether Rupert Murdoch is a fit person to own such a significant portion of the media, it follows logically that the secret is not about the News of the World or even News International, but about Murdoch himself.

What was the NOTW doing with dirt on its owner? Well in the dismissal speech she gave to the workforce, Rebekah Brooks revealed that she herself had been spied on by agents of the News of the World. Merely because she was newsworthy? Well maybe, but I have a suspicion that the operatives who were tasked with the illegal mission decided to get something on their employers too – as insurance against being disowned by them. And it seems reasonable to suppose that if they went after her, they would have gone after her boss too. Those guys got something on Rupert Murdoch.

But what? We already know that Murdoch uses his power as a wealthy media magnate to influence – arguably, to subvert – the democratic process in favour of his still greater wealth. And yet until recently it was assumed that he could still be considered a ‘fit person’ to own UK media. If that doesn’t make you unfit what do you have to do? Have sex with crocodiles, use puppies as toothpaste?

There can only be one thing. Murdoch, like many of his fellow countrymen, is instinctively opposed to the royal family. That his papers have been making them look stupid for decades was no mere commercial tactic but a determined secret campaign.

Murdoch wants a British Republic.

The World’s Greatest Secret

The smile that says "I still have a job"

A secret so shocking that when it’s revealed in a year from now, former staff of the News of the World will turn to Rebekah Brooks and say “Thank you for firing us.”

That’s got to be something pretty bad.

I’m actually worried here, trying to think of something worse than what the NOTW has already done. They bribed the police, for God’s sake. They spied on the grieving families of soldiers and London bombing victims. They interfered with the phone of a child murder-kidnap victim, giving her parents false reason to believe she was still alive.

But this is something they’re ashamed of.

Oh boy.

The fact that it’s not going to be revealed for another year gives it a great Seventh Secret of Fatima vibe, but why is this the case? Most likely, something they were hiding is now bound to come out in the police investigation or the trial. But if it’s bound to, why not reveal it now and end all the wild speculation? Unless of course it’s worse than our wildest speculation.

Which again, would be pretty bad.

More likely, they don’t want to reveal it now because it has a bearing on News International’s most sensitive current business in the UK – their attempted takeover of BSkyB. And as this rests wholly on the question of whether Rupert Murdoch is a fit person to own such a significant portion of the media, it follows logically that the secret is not about the News of the World or even News International, but about Murdoch himself.

What was the NOTW doing with dirt on its owner? Well in the dismissal speech she gave to the workforce, Rebekah Brooks revealed that she herself had been spied on by agents of the News of the World. Merely because she was newsworthy? Well maybe, but I have a suspicion that the operatives who were tasked with the illegal mission decided to get something on their employers too – as insurance against being disowned by them. And it seems reasonable to suppose that if they went after her, they would have gone after her boss too. Those guys got something on Rupert Murdoch.

But what? We already know that Murdoch uses his power as a wealthy media magnate to influence – arguably, to subvert – the democratic process in favour of his still greater wealth. And yet until recently it was assumed that he could still be considered a ‘fit person’ to own UK media. If that doesn’t make you unfit what do you have to do? Have sex with crocodiles, use puppies as toothpaste?

There can only be one thing. Murdoch, like many of his fellow countrymen, is instinctively opposed to the royal family. That his papers have been making them look stupid for decades was no mere commercial tactic but a determined secret campaign.

Murdoch wants a British Republic.