Dizzy leads the way...

As one of the political bloggers breaks as story that gets picked up in the mainstream plus a row ab

A leading political blogger known as Dizzy, was driving the news agenda this week with the likes of Channel 4 and The Times lapping up his wake.

On his blog, Dizzy Thinks, he broke the story on Wednesday of the first signs of Gordon Brown’s leadership campaign. The production company Silverfish TV, responsible for the 'Dave the Chameleon' advert, has bought the gordonbrown4leader.com web address.

Silverfish TV have said they are not working for Gordon Brown or the Treasury and merely bought it for when he officially declared his candidacy.
Channel 4 ran the story and said they had discovered the story. They hadn’t. The Times also ran it but at least they didn't claim it was their exclusive.

Credit has to be given to bloggers who break stories. Guido Fawkes raised this point when he took on Michael White and Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight two weeks ago - documented by my colleague on this blog review.

Dizzy also reported this week how a landmark ruling in the courts could mean that bosses who monitor their staff’s emails could be breaking European laws. This article highlights the need for companies to have properly drawn up usage policies for their employees email accounts, otherwise they may be breaching European human rights laws.

Oliver
Kamm's article
on the Guardian's Comment is Free blog caused quite a stir this week. Kamm claims political blogs are full of errors and that they "poison healthy debate."

One reaction to the article came from Luke Akehurst who said: "But attacking political blogging as a medium because you don't like Guido is about as rational as attacking all political coverage in newspapers because you don't like Richard Littlejohn." He might just have a point.

And in response to Kamm's piece, DocSilver said: "As blogs mature, and the more irresponsible are winnowed out by the rather Darwinian process of operating in an unsheltered environment, the quality of what is offered has steadily increased."

Adam Haigh studies on the postgraduate journalism diploma at Cardiff University. Last year he lived in Honduras and worked freelance for the newspaper, Honduras This Week.
European People's Party via Creative Commons
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Ansbach puts Europe's bravest politician under pressure

Angela Merkel must respond to a series of tragedies and criticisms of her refugee policy. 

Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, is supposed to be on holiday. Two separate attacks have put an end to that. The first, a mass shooting in Munich, was at first widely believed to be a terrorist attack, but later turned out to be the actions of a loner obsessed with US high school shootings. The second, where a man blew himself up in the town of Ansbach, caused less physical damage - three were seriously injured, but none killed. Nevertheless, this event may prove to affect even more people's lives. Because that man had come to Germany claiming to be a Syrian refugee. 

The attack came hours after a Syrian refugee murdered a pregnant Polish woman, a co-woker in a snack bar, in Reutlingen. All eyes will now be on Merkel who, more than any other European politician, is held responsible for Syrian refugees in Europe.

In 2015, when other European states were erecting barriers to keep out the million migrants and refugees marching north, Merkel kept Germany's borders open. The country has resettled 41,899 Syrians since 2013, according to the UNHCR, of which 20,067 came on humanitarian grounds and 21,832 through private sponsorship. That is twice as much as the UK has pledged to resettle by 2020. The actual number of Syrians in Germany is far higher - 90 per cent of the 102,400 Syrians applying for EU asylum in the first quarter of 2016 were registered there. 

Merkel is the bravest of Europe's politicians. Contrary to some assertions on the right, she did not invent the refugee crisis. Five years of brutal war in Syria did that. Merkel was simply the first of the continent's most prominent leaders to stop ignoring it. If Germany had not absorbed so many refugees, they would still be in central Europe and the Balkans, and we would be seeing even more pictures of starved children in informal camps than we do today. 

Equally, the problems facing Merkel now are not hers alone. These are the problems facing all of Europe's major states, whether or not they recognise them. 

Take the failed Syrian asylum seeker of Ansbach (his application was rejected but he could not be deported back to a warzone). In Germany, his application could at least be considered, and rejected. Europe as a whole has not invested in the processing centres required to determine who is a Syrian civilian, who might be a Syrian combatant and who is simply taking advantage of the black market in Syrian passports to masquerade as a refugee. 

Secondly, there is the subject of trauma. The Munich shooter appears to have had no links to Islamic State or Syria, but his act underlines the fact you do not need a grand political narrative to inflict hurt on others. Syrians who have experienced unspeakable violence either in their homeland or en route to Europe are left psychologically damaged. That is not to suggest they will turn to violence. But it is still safer to offer such people therapy than leave them to drift around Europe, unmonitored and unsupported, as other countries seem willing to do. 

Third, there is the question of lawlessness. Syrians have been blamed for everything from the Cologne attacks in January to creeping Islamist radicalisation. But apart from the fact that these reports can turn out to be overblown (two of the 58 men arrested over Cologne were Syrians), it is unclear what the alternative would be. Policies that force Syrians underground have already greatly empowered Europe's network of human traffickers and thugs.

So far, Merkel seems to be standing her ground. Her home affairs spokesman, Stephan Mayer, told the BBC that Germany had room to improve on its asylum policy, but stressed each attack was different. 

He said: "Horrible things take place in Syria. And it is the biggest humanitarian catastrophe, so it is completely wrong to blame Angela Merkel, or her refugee policies, for these incidents." Many will do, all the same.