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Jackson in court for abuse trial

If the jury in the trial of Michael Jackson doesn’t find him guilty, I’ll be extremely surprised.

But the real question is whether he actually is guilty, and I suspect not. Though it’s just a hunch.

This post was filed under: News and Comment.

Lies, Damn lies, and Newspaper sales

It appears that, along with many other people, I was duped into believing a false story. I’ll let the silicon.com Weekly Roundup explain and ridicule:

And finally, still on the subject of questionable journalism, news reached the Round-Up this week that one of the year’s most ridiculous stories was little more than a lie… cheaply concocted to sell papers. (Which is the Round-Up’s slightly self-important way of saying ‘phew, thank God we didn’t write this…)

The saga began with a journalist writing for the Romanian tabloid Libertatea claiming to have found a couple who named their child ‘Yahoo!’ in celebration of the fact they met online.

Even the most copy-hungry newspaper editor, with all manner of serious ear, nose and throat issues should have smelled something a little bit fishy at this point but the journalist concerned, the negatively charged Ion Garnod, had gone to the trouble of backing up his story with a forged birth certificate.

(The Round-Up can’t help thinking at this point that it’s a very telling sign-of-the-times that skilled forgers in Eastern Europe are turning to journalism as a source of income.)

However, as surely as night follows day, fact followed fiction and Garnod was exposed as a liar who made up the story “to make himself look good”.

To do what? To make himself look good!?

Whatever happened to elaborate lies about sexual conquests – perhaps involving twins – or great sporting prowess?

“Alright lads… how’s it going?”
“Good thanks Ion… what’s kept you, you’re very late?”
“Oh, I bumped into this couple who named their baby Yahoo!”
“Wow, you’re the greatest, pull up a chair and let us buy you an absinthe.”

The Round-Up doesn’t know who Garnod hangs out with but really thinks his peer group is way too easily impressed.

What about:

“Yeah sorry about that lads but I bumped into the Cheeky Girls and spent a wild night in a hotel with them…”

Actually, maybe ‘Yahoo!; the baby was the better option after all.

(Apologies at this point to any readers in Romania for having a woeful grasp on who the latest Romanian pin-ups might be… without a doubt there must be better than the Cheeky Girls.)

Simona Ionescu, Garnod’s deputy editor-in-chief, told Reuters “we fired him”, which didn’t exactly tax the shorthand of the Reuters journalist.

Ionescu did go on to say: “If it were real, it would have been a good story indeed.”

No, if it were real it would still have been a story about a couple who named their baby ‘Yahoo!’ let’s not get carried away.

I think I’m right in saying that this is the first time I’ve blogged a completely inaccurate story in twenty-one months of posting, and I’m really quite bothered about having helped spread this myth. I’ll certainly be checking my sources even more closely in future to try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

So, apologies for making the mistake, and I’ll trust my source on this a little less from now on (though, in fairness, the VNU Network are normally reliable).

This post was filed under: News and Comment, Technology.

Cash machines that can charge up to £10

Until I read this in the Sunday Times, I never realised that there are cash machines that charge quite this much. It’s crazy.

I wondered to myself why people would use such a machine, until I reached the end of the article:

Tintagel in Cornwall, for example, used to have branches of Lloyds, Barclays, NatWest and a van containing a mobile HSBC cashpoint, which made regular visits. NatWest and Barclays have closed, Lloyds is open just four hours a week and has no cash machine, and the HSBC mobile unit paid its last visit on Friday. All five machines available in Tintagel and the villages of Boscastle and Delabole charge fees.

This is getting silly. If the banks cannot manage to provide an appropriate level of service to their rural customers, then they must expect that these customers will abandon them. But the customers are left with little choice when all of the banks in their area have closed.

Of course, the other very negative impact this will be having is on the small local shops, who will be taking more card transactions than before, and so facing higher charges.

This is bad news all round, but I can’t see any way around the situation other than by forcing the hugely profitable banks to maintain a free (loss-making) cash machine service in rural communities. And that’s never going to happen.

This post was filed under: News and Comment.

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