* Prices may differ from that shown
The Mirror Group has been bloody lucky not to suffer the fete of News International over this phone hacking stuff. The then editor of the Daily Mirror, Piers Morgan, admitted in his rather brilliant book on the media - The Insider - that he was aware of pin code hacking at the height of the practice back in 2005, explaining how to do it in great detail to his then dinner guests. We presume he meant at his paper. Somehow his high powered lawyers have done a John Terry and kept him clean but clearly all the tabloids were at it and the government too scared to take them to task in fear of retribution through sordid revelation. I'm not surprised the hacks did it as it was very easy to do and like Jimmy Saville, everyone knew it was going on but did nothing. And it's 'Pedogedden' in those tabloids this week, the fitting phrase the outrageous comedian Chris Morris christened in his brilliantly satirical TV show Brass Eye TV to describe such hysteria we are seeing now, the redtops awash with Saville stories, other BBC stars sure to be exposed (excuse the double entendre), payback for all those young girls (and probably boys) abused by those seedy DJ types back in the seventies, almost a perk for the entertainers of the day. Freddie Star and John Peel are the latest names to be muddied in the Mirror. Last month we had the report on Asian gangs targeting young white girls and now the tragic abduction of little April Jones on top of the above. As human beings we detest the abuse of our young yet the guardians and figures of authority often the abusers. The working-class, more than most, get extremely het up on the subject of pedophilia and if a beast is leaving court in the prison van they will be outside with the pushchair and shell suits ready to brick it. These stories sell newspapers and they will be hyped up. No such crowds gathered for pensioner murder Harold Shipman. As nine out of ten pedophiles abuse family members its one of those crimes we exonerate ourselves from that deviant percentage by being very vocal against it. Its one of very few crimes proportionate too all races and social classes in the UK. It's genetic and not pleasant. It's been interesting to see how the Welsh police are playing the April Jones suspected murder case and how the number one suspect has all but been elbowed into the doc by the police through the media, regardless of whether he did it or not. Presumably there is a DNA trail and they must be pretty sure but surely we are on the edge of subjudicey here? The tabloids can't risk the debacle in Bristol when that oddball was all but convicted by the media for the murder of the architect and so we seem to be seeing a role reversal here and the police egging on the press to expose this guy. I've never seen this style of policing before in TV news. It worries me that this guy may have done something similar before and the police knew about that and why he was living the isolated life there. What's been most striking about this case is the way its revealing the increasing role the public want to play in these tragic cases, modern social media the grapevine and the encourager. Clearly modern digital media, CCTV and mobile communication systems leave a helpful trail for the police to narrow down the crime scene and crooks and so killers easier to triangulate to the scene of the crime and so catch. It's very noticeable that the death of young children through abduction has fallen dramatically because of this third eye. Most children abducted that lead to deaths by strangers are in working-class families because the parents are more likely to leave their kids playing out in numbers and so more vulnerable than closeted posh kids. But the downside is that today the killers know they can be quickly closed in on when they commit these heinous crimes through more forensic technologies, even when they are premeditated murders, and so kill the kids quicker, why the Maddy McCann and Shannon Mathew's stories were so intriguing. The nice middle-class McCann's were only really ever in the frame because child abductions are extremely rare amongst the white collar classes. The Mirror hacks approach to this story is conjecture first and then facts, racing ahead of the police investigations as the tabloids love to do. But the star of the show has been the inhabitants and volunteers in the small Welsh town of Machynlleth, a conurbation of around 2000 producing 4000 plus 'Kagolled' up searchers and tea and coffee bearers. Being a small Welsh valley town there's probably high unemployment and anti depressant use and its almost a therapy for the town to find this kid, even when its likely that wont happen, the police having to tell them to 'back off' last week as they began to flatten the crime scene in their exuberance when it became clear to the police that the kid and attacker never left the area. It's almost as if they want to be on the evening news to be seen doing some good in their lives. The Daily Mirror reporter also picked up this unusual public spirit, so much so that there was a small rebellion amongst some of the searchers that said they would keep going regardless. It's pretty clear a 5-year-old kid can't survive long alone in the Welsh wilderness in winter. It's a tragic story. But when your town is overrun with glamorous newscasters you can't help but get involved and do things to keep them there, like the Chinese lanterns and bouquets of flowers...I just find this human dynamic with the media fascinating. We all want some sort of celebrity and recognition, wherever that may be found. On the Jimmy Saville story it just sickens you to think, if the allegations are true, that this guy did all that charity work just to get at kids and, perhaps, appease his guilt for his 'alleged' pedophilia with that £40 million raised. He always appeared to be what he clearly is and parking your caravan in the grounds of the hotel you are booked in at with a nice suite should have been evidence enough. I'm sure 14 and 15-year-old girls threw themselves at Duran Duran and the like back then but when it's an older ugly man that's never been seen out on the town with a woman his own age it can only turn out to be seedy and sick. Watching his funeral on YouTube makes you cringe. It all makes sense now. Another topic that riles all of us up is immigration and greedy human rights lawyers, the two strong bedfellows. The Mirror have revealed through a Freedom of Information request that the MET are arresting 200 foreign national suspects a day in a purge to try and control London's booming foreign criminal class. Just over 72,500 were pulled in last year and 33% of all foreign national arrests in the UK were in the capital, including for rape, murder, street robbery and fraud. The figure is up on almost a quarter in just TWO years. 79 were arrested on the suspicion of murder alone and if you bear in mind London suffers less than fifty murders a year you can see who is doing most of them. 7,243 were arrested for shoplifting and 2,123 for drink driving. Birmingham has seen a 50% increase in arrests of foreign nationals in the last two years, some 11,435 getting their collar felt. Meanwhile deportations fell from 5,342 in 2010 to 4,345 in 2011. The human rights angle to the story is about those deportations, or lack of them because of these ambiguous laws, unbelievably that woman who you may recall who was a campaigner for Romanian gypsy's rights and using it as a cover to get Romanian illegal access to the benefit system will not be deported to her native Romanian after her two year sentence because her 12-year-old sons human rights would be breeched because his Romanian isn't good enough to live in Romania, even through he was born and lived there. Such a petty reason not to deport a criminal is down to the ambiguity of these laws, written deliberately so on the European stature if you ask me. But it gets worse, an asylum seeking African war criminal involved in genocide in Sudan also being allowed to stay her because he admitted his crime on a BBC interview and so he says would be at threat at home in Sudan if he returned. He admits to being a paid soldier there and to 'killing women and children' under orders. But the human rights court said he can stay on British streets. Astonishing! Politics.... Its party conference season and the Mirror still the most Labor paper on the newsstands, slightly more left wing than Ryan Giggs. They gushed at Millibands vacuous and ambiguous speech with out notes and sharpening their knives for the Tories all this week. Like the rest of the nation, the Mirror mocked and then ignored the Liberal Democrat conference in September. Cameron has thrown some roar meet to his base already by threatening more benefit cuts whilst still refusing to cut child benefit and heating allowance to his wealthy voting base, flogging the unemployed in recession the Tories only vote winner by the looks and so keep on. Even if every job vacancy was filled there would still be 4.7m people 'economically inactive'. Without a big public service modern western economies simply can't create mass employment anymore. Public sector employment and dole claimants are the majority of spenders up north and employers simply want cheaper and willing foreign labor now. The French Alps murder story rumbles on in the Mirror with the news that the dead father had an illegal tazer stun gun at home, looking more and more like a classic Asian honor killing no than international spy stuff. Some good news on the site is a fresh inquest will happen over Hillsborough, perhaps better news for the police than the victims as the police will be able to defend themselves at last by building up a narrative of their and the fans actions on the day. Again, the cops did not open that gate to kill football fans but to save them outside. A more disturbing story is the Mirror exclusive that some chavs are getting their status dogs addicted to heroine so to attack the police and opposing gang members by injecting their pets with the drug, 150 cases reported this year alone in Scotland. This sick behavior has seen an increase in attacks on their family members. 95% of animal abusers are animal lovers. Light entertainment..... The Mirror entertainment section is called '3AM' and perfectly adequate and where online newspapers make their advertising money. The Daily Mail is hugely successful in this aspect and the number one online rag not only here but around the world. The Mirror doesn't really try to ape that celebrity volume but there nevertheless. The X Factor is in there as usual with the perfunctory frivolous vote rigging story and Cheryl, according to her memoirs, apparently hates Simon Cowell, which helps to sell her memoirs and tire of her even more. Sport and the John Terry story is getting even more excruciatingly dull, the Premier League desperate to defend their brand from racism by flaying him in the stocks. Ashley Cole's job in life seems to be to defend racists, marrying Cheryl Cole and now this Terry defense, suggesting he won't be the president of the muted black players association any day soon. If John had stood up and said he did it from day one his career would have been over quickly. He was only ever going to deny. The foreign player's cancer of diving in games has spread to the Welsh players with Gareth Bale putting Tom Daley to shame. Manchester United unleashed their devastating 3-4-3 attack to crush Newcastle. I'm not a big fan of reading about football, before or after the action, but the Mirror football writers are considered the top guys in the field. Lewis Hamilton ranted at Jensen Button on Twitter after a boring Japanese Grand Prix for 'unfriending' him but later apologized as Button had never added him in the first place, which seems worse to me. The best offer of the day on the Mirror site is a voucher to see the tennis at the O2 for just 12 quid, which includes Andy Murray and the top male players. The West Indies are on the way back to greatness with a brilliant win in the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka. The columnists are not as plentiful as other tabloids and not flagged up much here; hidden away in the Opinion section, Fiona Phillips and the smug Tony Parsons their star turns. People like to read their stuff in the printed press but not online, it seems. There are boring Lifestyle and Money sections and then the Play section for games and competition s full of the perfunctory sedukos and crosswords for the females of the pack. The TV section isn't bad either. On the whole the mirror.co.uk website is functional and basic, like its readers. It's refreshingly not over complicated, again like it s readers. The tabs at the top of the front page take you wear you need to be quickly and the print nice and bold and the navigation swift, set out like those large print books in the library for slow kids and old people. There is nothing pretentious about tabloid news sites. The site does get overrun by celebrity guff but again that's what people want, how ever they say they don't at election time. We like the frivolous to brighten our lives to distract us from terrible stories like April Jones.
Living abroad, the papers tend to be a bit dear and it's really not worth forking out on them unless you are seriously bored or have a large journey ahead of you. For that reason, I only buy 1 or two a year. I usually use BBC (either website or television) to get my news, I do ocassionally sift through links of other news websites though. Mirror.co.uk occasionally has interesting sports articles but on large is filled with celeb gossip, paparazzi photos, agony aunt (Dr. Mirriam Stoppard) columns and the usual rubbish. A relatively new addition to the site is links to numerous blogs on the right, all of which are generally on the poor side. Any articles which allow comments are usually a ridiculous read, the readers thoughts make Yahoo Answers! look like a real centre of education. An issue I have with mirror.co.uk apart from drivel as the content is that the articles tend to be ridiculously short and mostly just consists of a summary of the situation rather than going into any detail (of course, except for football matches where there is better coverage) I could easily live without this site, it's pretty crappy and looks a bit messy with links everywhere including adverts and google ads.