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This page is a comprehensive resource for the real “News In Briefs”; it has every single one since this weird Sun editorial feature started in 2004. Also, this other page, starting about a third of the way down, analyzes their content more closely. Alongside all the stuff about “Our Boys”, here’s possibly my favourite bit of all:
This one seems harmless enough, but it echoes Orwell so closely I had to include it...

Tue, June 01, 2004
Ruth (23, from Bolton) today tells us that she was stunned to learn that a third of Brits are too lazy to take a ten-minute walk. She said: "A short walk every day keeps me fit. I think everyone should do the same."

(Sadly, for reasons of space, Ruth was unable to also point out that she's actually thirty-nine and has had four children. And that we should remember our boys on the Malabar front.)
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Zoo poisons lion cubs to cut costs

Ethiopia’s black lions are being culled and sold on to taxidermists by an Ethiopian zoo, despite the continuing threat to the long-term survival of the species. A lack of finances and zoo space has resulted in the cull of the Abyssinian lion population, according to the administrator of Addis Ababa’s zoo.

Muhedin Abdulaziz, the zoo’s administrator, said his US$64,000 budget was simply not enough to provide for more than 16 adult lions, which cannot be reintroduced to the wild. “There is a shortage of place and a shortage of budget and when they are over-populated, most of the time we send them to taxidermists,” he said. “It is not really good, but we do this is because of the problems we have. For the time being our immediate solution is to send them to the taxidermists, but the final and best solution is to extend the zoo into a wider area.”
No, it’s not “really good”, is it? I might even venture to say that culling the cubs of an endangered species when your only job is to protect them was “bad”.


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Blair accepts ‘disaster’ in Iraq

Tony Blair has publicly agreed with the opinion that the violence in Iraq since the 2003 invasion has been a disaster. The UK prime minister was responding to a question by Sir David Frost in an interview on the new al-Jazeera English-language Arabic TV channel.

The Liberal Democrats said Mr Blair had finally accepted the enormity of his decision to go to war in Iraq, but Downing Street insisted his views had been misrepresented and that he had not made “some kind of admission”. A spokesman said the prime minister often agreed with interviewers when he responded to their questions.
Even under caution? This could be interesting...



The Prime Minister, apparently
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Probe into ex-KGB agent poisoning



UK police are investigating after a Russian former security agent in exile in Britain was poisoned by thallium. A clinical toxicologist said the 43-year-old had been poisoned with a potentially lethal dose of the metal.

Mr Litvinenko is in a serious but stable condition in University College Hospital, London. He is reported to be under armed guard.
The really worrying thing about these KGB poisonings (Viktor Yuschenko, Anna Politkovskaya, now Litvinenko) is that they are probably not botched assassinations; after all, if the victims survive, they do so in significantly worse shape than before, as a warning to anyone else who might ever have contemplated crossing one of the world’s most successful secret polices. [NB - written before it became clear that he had been dosed with a highly radioactive material, guaranteed to wipe him out and possibly also take out anyone in his immediate surroundings. Still, if it had just been poison, I would have stood by what I wrote.] You can tell who the leadership really wants to kill, as it just has them killed (Politkovskaya again, two years later). It’s also a clear message to everyone else, whether or not the intent was to kill, that they can carry out this kind of attack with utter impunity. [That bit's still true.]

In 1990 I found myself in the middle of a huge demonstration in Moscow against the Soviet regime, with particular reference to the KGB. “Down with the USSR! Down with the KGB!” they were yelling. (It had a snappier rhythm in Russian.) I hope those protesters still have their old banners lying forgotten in the attic. They’re going to need them again one day.

December 2015

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