Breaking News: EU bans criticising EU bans 

A new European law has been introduced that effectively outlaws complaining about new European laws which have led to a ban on almost every aspect of British life.

A spokesman in Brussels told Breaking News over the telephone that the new laws were necessary as existing levels of complaining about the EU contained less than 20% of actual truth – far below the acceptable limit – while in the background he silently wiped the sweat off of his brow with a photograph of the Queen.

Rows between British people and European bureaucrats are nothing new. The latest complaint came about last week when it was reported the the EU had banned the acre, an antiquated unit of measuring area that lies somewhere between a metre and a tonne. Not content with simply asking people to use a common unit of measurement for measuring land space, the EU have gone further and outlawed actual acres, forcing local councils to seize any areas of land that span acres and replace them with hectares of new ground, many of which have to come from abroad.

This was too much for critics in Britain, a country, they claim, that was built on the acre, which was much bigger back then. There is also a concern that this move could pave the way for the abolition of other common measurements like the mile. “That could dramatically change the look of our towns and cities and highways” observed Martin Sleaping, a prominent anti-EU campaigner and waltz enthusiast. “When I drive around France I see these signs that say things like, ‘Montpellier 45km’,” he continued, “can you imagine how disconcerting it would be to see a sign like that in England?”

Not everyone is against such regulation, of course. It has been argued that the standardisation of certain measures is desirable as we interact more with different cultures within Europe, as it helps simplify transactions between them. For example, when two countries are arguing about the correct level of farm subsidies, it can cause problems when one side isn’t budging an inch if the other side has to try and remember how many centimetres that means they also shouldn’t budge.

Reaction within the media to the new law has been muted. There were rumblings from one tabloid, but this later turned out to be a semi-conscious cat, and not even a very well-written one. A number of broadsheets did go as far as to describe the new measures as “text-based” and “punctuated”, but for now, at least, no-one has spoken out of behalf of the British public, and mentioned how very excellent they think it all is.


Breaking News: Gay Bishops Break From Anglican Church Over Tolerance Towards Conservatives 

A group of Anglican bishops has today declared it’s decision to form an independent alliance, seperate from the Church’s traditional authority, as part of the ongoing row over the Church’s continual tolerance of conservatives.

The group, called the Furthering Anglicanism General Conference – or FAGCon – comprises clergy who support a progressive interpretation of the Bible, and as such are gay, or in some cases, well gay. The real impetus for the split appears to have be the ordination of the first openly conservative bishop, in 1534.

The split comes only days after traditionalists broke off ties with the more liberal wings of the Church over a long-standing dispute over its teaching of a “false gospel” based around tolerance and equality. There are a number of areas, conservatives Anglicans feel are misrepresented in the modern Church. Most attention, however, has focused on the Biblical teachings about homosexuality, especially where this homosexuality is gay, or even well gay. Conservatives believe the Bible rules out active homosexuality, though its position on passive homosexuality – such as wearing a sports top with your own name on it or using the word “banter” as a noun – is unclear.

They are keen to stress they are not orthodoxaphobic, but rather are concerned with the conservative agenda the Church has recently taken since the abolition of the monastries. Among some of the points causing the rift is the conservative belief that Anglicans should follow a universal doctrine. Gay and well gay Anglicans reject this notion, and hope to restore an acceptance of differing personal worship to all followers without exception. Conservative Anglicans believe that to be an Anglican involves sharing a single common doctrine, as no follower has the right to take unilateral decisions seperate from that consensus, and are willing to split the church in two to achieve it.

The two schisms this week could mean the Anglican Communion now has a much smaller body of clergy – indeed, if it were to comprise all the non-gay, non-conservative members, it would be exactly the size of Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. However, much like the traditionalists, the group insist they are not leaving the Anglican Communion, but that they will no longer recognise the authority of the Dr Williams, who they have criticised for failing to discipline churches for not being women, or even well women.


Breaking News: “Old-Person Racer” Straw Defends Witness Anonymity 

A &pound 6 million murder trial has been brought to an end by a Law Lords ruling that statements by anonymous witness are not admissable testimony, stating that the accused have the right to face their accusers and that defence lawyers should be able to test the credibility of any evidence presented.

Justice Minister Jack Straw stated afterwards that the law should always protect the innocent from the dangerous, and situations where the the innocent are asked to testify against the dangerous places the innocent at great risk of retribution from the dangerous, especially given how dangerous the innocent said he is. He suggested that changes to the law may be proposed in the next few days, to prevent those on trial escape answering for the crimes they certainly committed given their now-inevitable convictions.

However, the Ministry of Justice may be sidetracked in the coming days by allegations that Mr Straw is a member of an underground organisation that races old people, according to a man. The society meets every Sunday and bets on which of the five 80-year olds is first to get around a military assault course, it has been rumoured. There has been speculation that at these events, the winner is the first to crawl over the finish line and claim their only meal of the week – a plate of crisps.

It is likely that upon hearing these claims, the minister would deny them strenuously. However, those close to the story suggest that such denials are to be expected, and that stronger proof would be needed to convince everyone that he wasn’t involved in the forced running of any pensioners, such as listing all the places he knew that did not host such events. The word around Westminister is that Mr Straw is devastated these stories came out so soon before next weekend’s revelations that he believes Chinese people and black people sound the same.

Obviously, this is a story that could easily spin out-of-control due to media conjecture. You can be assured, however that Project Brainstorm places the highest value on the truth. The decision to run this story in the first place was only made after it been broken by a website with near-identical values: this one. As a result, a government minister has been forced into a desperate situation, which makes him dangerous, or so we’ve been told.


Know Your Issues: The 10p tax 

As the UK gears up for a general election, it becomes important to get familiar with the major debate issues. The UK is, of course, not gearing up for a general election, but it will, just as soon as everyone democratically agrees to stop liking the Opposition. In the meantime, Project Brainstorm sees it not only as its job, but also as its part-time hobby thing, to break down all the words into a series of easily digested sentences.

The 10p tax row has become a major problem for the current Labour government. Indeed, although Labour’s poor showing at recent local elections could be blamed on anything from increasing dislike of the Iraq war, to recent data security blunders, to a mishandled bail-out of a failing building society, to poor leadership, to fears about loss of civil liberties, to concerns over multiculturalism, to dismay over tough new immigration laws, to worries about laws permitting hybrid embryos, to the fact Ruth Kelly is still alive, to inactivity over the rising cost of food, to inactivity over the rising cost of fuel, to inactivity over the rising cost of housing, to resentment over the excessive intrusiveness of the state on people’s lives, the 10p tax issue has really driven a wedge between popular opinion and the current administration.

The 10p income tax on the first part of taxable earnings was introduced in 1999 by then-Chancellor Gordon Brown to help out the low earners. It was removed in his 2007 Budget, and replaced with a 2p drop in the basic rate. Obviously, this has created what are referred to as the 10p tax losers – people who previously earned low enough incomes to mainly be paying at the 10% rate are losers, and people who earned incomes so low they only paid the 10% rate are total losers.

The Conservative opposition has recently attacked the government over the move. It is worth noting that this was announced in April 2007, and that the recent row erupted in March 2008. This, of course, has nothing to do with political opportunism, and neither does it have anything to do with allowing more time for people to forget that the Tories had proposed abolishing the 10p rate in September 2006. Rather, it was the necessary amount of time required for the party to assess the effects of the reform, and specifically, to check that 10 was less than twenty.

Government ministers will often retort that the Tories have no credibility on such issues, as they have often opposed measures that have designed to tackle poverty, like the minimum wage. The Tories may not have been wrong to do so – the minimum wage does nothing to raise the incomes of the unemployed. Even more concerningly, it does nothing to raise the incomes of the very rich, and without that, there is no way the very rich could afford to pay the very poor the higher pay packet. The very rich would, as a result, find themselves destitute and dependent on policies like the minimum wage, paid for by the very poor who, themselves also earning minimum wage, probably can’t afford it.

Instead of everyone ending up poor, surely it would be better if some people were allowed to be very rich, and who better to do that than the very rich? Allowing others to do that would be counterproductive – economists have shown that with no government intervention, the very poor tend to spend their incomes on being very poor, and are likely to do the same if they were to suddenly become very rich.

The Tories, as the official Opposition, are in the fortunate position of being required to oppose everything – they opposed the removal of the 10p tax rate, and they opposed any suggestion that they may reintroduce it when in power. Thankfully, the entire crisis was resolved by a &pound 2.7 billion compensation package to be paid by the government to all those who had been hurt by the removal of the 10p tax – a portion of which is certainly owed to the government. So, where does this leave Gordon Brown and Alasdair Darling? The prime minister and the Chancellor seem safe for now, but the same probably can’t be said for Mr Darling.


The Inner Ear: Recommended Listening 

It is a common misconception that Scubasnack are a complicated band. Listening to their new album Snacks on a Plane shows they have a simple sound that is frequently emphasised by seven additional simple sounds. Furthermore, the band have made an album that continues along the same progressive path tread by earlier discs in that it, like they, is comprised almost entirely of new music.

Opener Bleached Turtle is a robust choice – the chord progression reminds the listener of Lame Duck Congress‘ more melodic moments, but filtered through a post-jazz lens. The next couple of songs raise the volume, lyrically, and capture the time-change obsession of an energetic Tempest Mouse, though without any of the recent tanning. Finders Weepers, the forth of the album’s openers, finds the bands experimenting with a Rhonda Flood-like melacholy, though the chorus is lifted with the warm breeze of a hopeful soul harmony – a nod, no doubt, to hopeful soul harmony pioneers Grass of Home.

It would be possible to mention every song individually – they are all carefully crafted and given a name. Especially noteworthy is Early To Mid November, a timeless number that evokes the rawness of glib circa early 1982, tempered with the class of Terminality – last year’s Spooky and the Empty Needle jumps straight to mind.

The closing track on the album, Truck Stop For Paradise, also serves as a finale, and it feels very much like this is the track the band ultimately want the listener to head towards. Beginning with a four minute instrumental like an older Twisted Stare or a more focused Wally Thyme Quartet, it builds to a intricate two-tone back-and-forth exchange (recalling Max Slipford before the balding) and a refrain that takes the stylistic baton from the etho-punk scene but with at least three added notches of pre-Dickensian Engine falsetto.

Only Scubasnack could get away with putting their name to this album. Throughout the listener is reminded that just being able to play well is no substitute for technical expertise. It is possible, throughout, to catch snippets of the band’s most obvious influences, but this album sounds not like a collection of snippets, but as one, much larger snip. Unlike Gristle, The Fire Stingers and Postal Daisy, Scubasnack are the only band who have successfully answered all the critics who said they just wanted to be the next Radiohead. With this album, such unhelpful comparisons are shown to be exactly what they have always been: the most lazy kind of musical snobbery.