Daily Archives: July 13, 2011

I think I love you too, Hugh.

And here’s why.

Surely the facts are still spilling out.

“Prime Minister David Cameron offered details for the first time on Wednesday of a broad inquiry into the relationships between the police, politicians and the press in the broadening scandal confronting Rupert Murdoch’s media empire in Britain.
Speaking to Parliament, Mr. Cameron said the inquiry would be led by a senior judge, Lord Justice Leveson, and would have the power to summon witnesses to testify under oath. The announcement came as Mr. Cameron fought to recover the initiative in a scandal that has turned into potentially the most damaging crisis of his time in office.
Mr. Cameron’s Conservative Party took power in May 2010, supported by some of the newspapers in Mr. Murdoch’s British stable, and his critics said that he, like some of his predecessors in 10 Downing Street, sought to maintain that support even as the phone hacking scandal erupted last week.”

“On Wednesday, Mr. Cameron urged Mr. Murdoch to abandon his ambitions to complete a takeover of the country’s biggest satellite broadcaster.”

“But in a rancorous session at the weekly encounter in Parliament known as prime minister’s questions, Mr. Cameron also came under renewed pressure from opposition Labour leader Ed Miliband to explain his relationship with his former director of communications, Andy Coulson, a former editor of The News of the World — a top selling Sunday tabloid at the epicenter of the scandal which the Murdoch family ordered closed last weekend.
A lawmaker also asked if there was evidence that journalists at News International, a British subsidiary of Mr. Murdoch’s News Corporation, had tried to hack into the voice mails of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, as they are accused of doing in Britain after the July 7 2005 bombings. Mr. Cameron offered no immediate reply.”

“Speaking in advance of a broader debate, Mr. Cameron offered his most forthright comments yet on Mr. Murdoch’s $12 billion bid for more than 60 percent of the shares in British Sky Broadcasting which he does not already own, saying his companies should “stop the business of mergers and get on with cleaning the stables.”



“This, the sixth labor of Heracles, was not an easy task. Augeas, the king of Elis had been given a huge amount of cattle as a gift from his father, many herds in fact. His problem was, the stables where he kept them had never been cleaned. His neglect was so great that not only the stables, which were in a very bad state, but the land surrounding them had been unfertilized for many years, due to the unused manure which lay within the compound.
Heracles task was to clean them. This seemed to Augeas to be a long and arduous labor for Heracles to undertake. Thinking it would be totally impossible Augeas wagered Heracles a tenth of his cattle, if the huge task was finished in a single day. Without hesitation Heracles accepted Augeas’ challenge, then set about working out a plan in which to do the job in a swift but thorough way. The next day Heracles started his formidable labor, not only using his great strength, but using his brain to plan this challenge.
The first part of the mammoth task was to dismantle the wall which protected the rear of the stables, and with Heracles’ great strength this was an effortless job. Next he made a diversion in the two rivers which flowed close by, the Alpheus and the Peneus. After digging a canal in the direction of the stables, Heracles released their banks, and when the two rivers merged they created a surge, which, by the time they flowed through the stables, turned into a torrent. The power and also the amount of water, washed all the filth away. After the rush of water passed through the stables it not only cleansed them but cascaded on to the fields below, giving the soil life after being deprived of manure for many years.
With the task complete, Heracles sought his prize, which Augeas had promised; one tenth of all his herds. The king was infuriated by his defeat, thinking the great hero would never clean such a mountain of filth in such a short time, and refused to pay the wager. This time it was Heracles who was infuriated. However, Phyleus the son of king Augeas, thinking of the consequences of Heracles anger, affirmed the agreement and brought about an amicable settlement, which Heracles accepted.”

“The latest exchanges came a day after Mr. Murdoch’s once-commanding influence in British politics seemed to dwindle to a new low on Tuesday, when all three major parties in Parliament joined in support of a sharp rebuke to his ambitions and a parliamentary committee said it would call him, along with two other top executives, to testify publicly next week about the growing scandal enveloping his media empire.”

“But the argument was also marked with sharp exchanges between Mr. Cameron and Mr. Miliband. “He just doesn’t get it,” Mr. Miliband said, referring to the worries provoked by Mr. Cameron’s decision to hire Mr. Coulson, who was forced to resign in January as the phone-hacking scandal gathered pace. But Mr. Cameron replied: “The person who is now not getting it is the leader of the opposition.” “

There are a great many people who are not getting it — including the editor and publisher of the NYT.

“What the public wants us to do is to deal with this firestorm,” Mr. Cameron said.

What the public wants is your immediate arrest.

“Since the scandal broke last week, Mr. Miliband had taken the lead in demanding strong action both against News International and its chief executive, Rebekah Brooks, and in calling for Mr. Murdoch to abandon the $12 billion bid to complete his ownership of British Sky Broadcasting. On Wednesday, Mr. Cameron also distanced himself more abruptly than in the past from Ms. Brooks, reportedly a personal friend.”

“In an effort to save the broadcasting deal from the scandal’s fallout, Mr. Murdoch has already shut down The News of the World. But the accusations have spread to other papers in his News International group, and have taken in an ever wider and more outrage-provoking list of victims.
The House of Commons is scheduled to vote on Wednesday on a motion declaring that “it is in the public interest for Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation to withdraw their bid for BSkyB,” a motion pushed by the opposition Labour Party that the governing Conservatives decided on Tuesday to support.
The Conservatives’ coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, have been vocal in their condemnation of Mr. Murdoch and his executives. With the three parties holding more than 600 of the 650 seats in the house, the motion is expected to be approved overwhelmingly.
Though it would have little direct effect, the motion represents a powerful political headwind blowing against the deal and against Mr. Murdoch, a figure so powerful in Britain that until the current scandal, politicians and others in public life have rarely risked invoking his ire. And it threatened to undercut a last-ditch step that the News Corporation took on Monday, when it withdrew promises it had made to satisfy antitrust concerns about the deal, most notably that Sky News, the target company’s 24-hour news channel, would be spun off.
Before the scandal flared up, the Conservative government had shown readiness to waive a formal antitrust review of the deal, based on those promises. A regulatory review would now not just delay the deal for months, but may kill it.”

“A parliamentary committee said Tuesday that it would call Mr. Murdoch, his son James and Ms. Brooks, the chief executive of News International, to testify next week about accusations of phone hacking and corruption at the News International papers. John Whittingdale, chairman of the Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said it would seek to determine “how high up the chain” knowledge of the newsroom malpractices in the Murdoch newspapers went.
New and alarming charges came on Tuesday from the former prime minister Gordon Brown, who said that one of the most prestigious newspapers in the group, The Sunday Times, employed “known criminals” to gather personal information on his bank account, legal files and tax affairs.
Those charges centered on suggestions that The Sunday Times and The Sun, a Murdoch tabloid, used subterfuge to learn in 2006 that Mr. Brown’s infant son, Fraser, had cystic fibrosis, a fact that generated a Sun scoop.
The two papers responded with statements denying wrongdoing. The Sun said it had not accessed the child’s medical records and did not “commission anyone to do so.” Instead, it said, the article originated “from a member of the public whose family has also experienced cystic fibrosis.”
“He came to The Sun with this information voluntarily, because he wanted to highlight the cause of those afflicted by the disease,” the newspaper said.
The Sunday Times said it had “pursued the story in the public interest” and had followed Britain’s press code “on using subterfuge.” “No law was broken in the process of this investigation,” it said.”

“that they can pin on us. So far.”

“A separate parliamentary committee investigating years of indecisive police investigations into The News of the World’s rampant phone-hacking operations spent hours on Tuesday grilling police officers who led the inquiries.
Some of the most humbling moments for the police came as members of the Home Affairs Committee demanded to know why John Yates, the head of the police’s counterterrorism force, spent only one day in a formal review of an earlier investigation before concluding in 2009 that there was nothing more to it. At one point a committee member, Steve McCabe, said, “You just don’t seem like the dogged, determined sleuth that we would expect.”
That was followed by the committee chairman, Keith Vaz, rebuking Andy Hayman, who oversaw the original investigation from 2005 to 2007 but is now retired: “All this sounds more like Clouseau than Columbo.” “



“Mr. Hayman acknowledged that he had private dinners with journalists from The News of the World during the investigation. When he defended that by saying that to “have turned it down would have been potentially more suspicious than to have it,” peals of laughter erupted in the hearing room. “


“The most startling revelation may have been the scope of the new police investigation, covering many more potential victims than the 4,000 previously said to have been identified in the notes of one of the men jailed in 2007. Sue Akers, the top Scotland Yard officer assigned to take over the inquiry this year, said that her team had lists of 3,870 names, 5,000 land-line phone numbers and 4,000 cellphone numbers. So far, she said, only 170 people had been formally notified that their phones may have been hacked.
The hearing next week could be a make-or-break moment for the Murdoch’s and Ms. Brooks. The committee they will face has been asked by Ofcom, the media regulator, to judge whether they are “fit and proper” to run BSkyB, Britain’s most lucrative satellite television network.
Mr. Brown’s accusations against The Sunday Times signaled that the scandal would not be confined to the tabloid papers in the group. “I’m shocked, I’m genuinely shocked, to find that this happened, because of their links with criminals, known criminals, who were undertaking this activity, hired by investigators working with The Sunday Times,” Mr. Brown said.”

“He added, “I just can’t understand this — if I, with all the protection and all the defenses and all the security that a chancellor of the Exchequer or a prime minister has, am so vulnerable to unscrupulous tactics, unlawful tactics, methods that have been used in the way we have found, what about the ordinary citizen?”
Mr. Brown said that he and his wife, Sarah, were “in tears” when they were told by Ms. Brooks, then the editor of The Sun, that the paper was going to publish an article about their son Fraser’s condition, which the couple had not discussed with anyone except the boy’s medical care providers.”

Did Murdoch pay them for the info?

“Although News International contended in its statement that The Sun had obtained legitimately the information about the boy’s medical condition and that it did not look at his medical records, Mr. Brown was skeptical.
“They will have to explain themselves,” he said. “I can’t think of any way that the medical condition of a child can be put into the public arena legitimately unless the doctor makes a statement or the family makes a statement.”


Sing us out Dusty !