smokesigslogoShock horror Times involuntary resignation by James Harding. In his cheerio speech to staff, James referenced the paper’s coverage of child sex abuse rings as being something of which he was particularly proud. Well there you are then: death by rumour and innuendo. The main reason for this kerfuffle is, I spy, the imminent cash-cow amalgamation of the dying Daily and Sunday Times titles’ operation. Still, it’s interesting to note that the bloke with fearless and objective journalistic principles lost out. Perhaps he had been looking too closely into P.I.E. in the Sky: I couldn’t possibly comment.

Big money in High unemployment figures, it seems. Last week, The Slog raised the alarm about lots of neocon psychopaths claiming to have found jobs – and billing the DWP on that flimsy basis – for folks who seemed to have, um, er, found jobs themselves without their help. But clearly such practices are good for the directors and shareholders of such jobfinder entrepreneurs, because only this year, one such outfit, Business Employment Services Training Limited (BEST), was acquired by Interserve, a company describing its activities as, funnily enough, ‘the delivery of front-line services, particularly in the Department of Work and Pensions’ Work Programme’.

Well bugger me, as Lord McAlpine was never known to say. An initial cash consideration of £17.5 million was paid to acquire BEST.

In 2007, an Ofsted report (having described previous BEST performance as not entirely at best) listed the suppliers’ main weak point as ‘Low job outcome rates’. Just fancy that.

The continuing demonisation of the Syrian regime: sixes and sevens in Israel. Israel’s US Ambassador Michael Oren, warned on FOX TV last Saturday that any evidence of chemical weapons being passed from the Assad regime to extremist groups like Hizballah would be a “game-changer,” and a “red line” for Israel. But Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon saw no indication at all the next day that Syria was planning to use chemical weapons against Israel.

This latest bit of NATO distraction was brought to you by Rupert Murdoch, the owner of Fox TV. Yesterday, the US formally recognised the Rebel Coalition against Bashar Assad. The announcement by U.S. President Barack Obama in a television interview came ahead of an international conference in support of Syrian rebels on Wednesday in Morocco.

So three cheers for the Muslim Brotherhood, then.