British tabloid newspaper The Daily Mail posted a photo of reporter Mark Nicol on the Syrian front lines posing with an assault rifle. This is bad for numerous reasons, but the main one is that it casts western reporters as mercenary participants and invites summary execution upon capture.
Hope you can shoot straight, Mark! Read the rest
Would it be a fitting end, for one of the first and greatest of the American web's dreams, to be eaten by the most infamous of British tabloids?
The parent company of the Daily Mail, the British newspaper and global tabloid website, is in talks with several private-equity firms to launch a bid for Yahoo, the people said. ... A possible bid by Daily Mail could take one of two forms, the people familiar with the matter said. In one scenario, a private-equity partner would aim to acquire the entirety of Yahoo’s U.S. operation, with the Mail taking over the news and media properties. Those assets include verticals such as Yahoo Finance and Yahoo Sports plus Yahoo News and a video operation whose big star is Katie Couric. Yahoo has been retrenching in those businesses—in February the company closed seven digital magazines including sites dedicated to food, parenting and health. In the other scenario, the private-equity firm would acquire Yahoo and merge its media and news properties into a new company that would include the Mail’s Web properties, DailyMail.com and Elite Daily, the people said. The Mail would run that business and would get a larger equity stake than under the first scenario.
Yahoo's core business is hard to value because of holdings in successful foreign companies such as Alibaba. At one point, its fortunes were so dire that squinting at it just right made the company seem to have negative value. More recently, an analyst put it at $4.3 billion. Read the rest
Adam Curtis's latest piece for the BBC starts out as a strange history of the role that the Daily Mail had in the formation of the British MI5 spy-agency, but then veers into an amazing history of MI5 brutal, awful, terrible record of incompetence, foolishness, self-sabotage, and waste. It turns out that the MI5 owes its origins to a German spy-scare the Mail whipped up 1910 by publishing a serialized novel about a fictional German invasion of England (the route of the invasion was tailored to pass through towns with large populations of Mail subscribers). This led to thousands of impressionable Mail readers writing in, saying they'd seen German spies out and about, and they demanded that Parliament Do Something. And so, MI5 was born.
But as I said, this is just the start of the story. Following on from its weird origin, MI5 spent generations cocking up, framing people, missing double-agents in their ranks, and generally wasting tons of money on paranoid losers who never caught a spy. Curtis is brutal in documenting the depth of MI5's failures, from its storied roundup of a "German spy ring" in 1914 (decades later, it emerged that none of the 21 "spies" were actually spies) to its failure to spot the incipient demise of the Soviet Union, to its hilariously evil false espionage accusations against 33 Iraqi students in 1991, none of whom were spies.
Curtis builds up a picture of spooks as neither evil masterminds nor brave sleuths, but as banal incompetents. Read the rest