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Top news from The Times, Daily Telegraph, The Indepedent and The Guardian newspapers

The one about the man who died at Chichester Theatre

Sir – and Madam – I read with interest the letter penned by Johnny Cameron, Fyfield, Wiltshire. It appeared in The Spectator (April , 2018). It might be the most quintessentially British story of the year:

 

 Johnny Cameron, Fyfield, Wilts.

The letter in The Spectator

.

Sir: Following Toby Young’s article on funerals and the letter last week, I thought you might like to hear another example of British phlegm. My stepson, who is now a successful theatre director, was an assistant at Chichester Theatre. The audience tends to be predominantly pensioners. A few years ago when he was closing up the theatre, he noticed two people still in their seats. When he approached them the lady was very apologetic. ‘I think my husband died in the first act,’ she said, ‘but we didn’t want to cause a fuss.’ He was indeed declared dead on arrival at the hospital, and my stepson could not but admire her stoicism. I particularly admired the fact that she thought ‘we’ didn’t want to cause a fuss.
Johnny Cameron Fyfield, Wiltshire

Great letter. But is it true? In the 2016 book Stop the World, I Want to Get Off…: Unpublished Letters to the Telegraph, we read another letter from Johnny Cameron Fyfield:

Sir – I read with interest [in your review of Dan Jones’ book about King John] the views of Richard of Devizes following a visit to London in the 12th century. Apparently it was full of “actors, jesters, smooth-skinned lads, Moors, flatterers, pretty boys, effeminates, singing and dancing girls, quacks, beggars and buffoons”. I visited London last week …..
Johnny Cameron, Fyfield, Wilts.

You out there, Mr Cameron?

Posted: 7th, May 2018 | In: Broadsheets, Strange But True | Comment


Facebook data harveting is no worse than the Guardian’s

Anyone who has ever written an email to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg should check their inbox. A report on  Techcrunch claims Zuckenburg’s messages have vanished. Their own replies and missives were intact – but all of his words had gone. Erased down the memory hole?

Did it happen? It seems so. Reports says Facebook has been secretly deleting Zuckenberg’s personal messages since 2014, at around the time Sony Pictures was hacked.

So will Facebook extend the same courtesy to you? Don’t bet on it. Apparently, when Facebook claimed any private videos uploaded by users would vanish on the users’ request, instead Facebook “permanently retained these videos”. Who owns your photos and videos?

Is it all matter of, if you think Big Tech is taking you for  fool, it’s taking you for  fool? Facebook is a bit of fun, a distraction from the stress and joys of real like.  You can tun it off of ignore it. Many are.

Techcrunch reports:

Facebook now says that it plans to launch an “unsend” feature for Facebook messages to all users in the next several months, and won’t let Mark Zuckerberg use that feature any more until it launches for everyone. One option Facebook is considering for the Unsend feature is an expiration timer users could set. But it’s alarming that Facebook didn’t disclose the retractions or plans for a Unsend button until forced, and scrambling to give everyone the feature seems like an effort to quiet users’ anger over the situation

Facebook is mired. But let’s not be hypocritical.

Around its story “‘Utterly horrifying’: ex-Facebook insider says covert data harvesting as routine”, the Guardian is operating not one but three trackers, including Doubleclick (it gathers data for Google ads to target you with stuff), Scorecard Research Beacon. What it does you can read about on the Guardian:

…it has “approximately two million worldwide consumers under continuous measurement”…

the cookie may be used to observe certain types of browsing behaviours, which are then combined with other browser data to give a picture of what people are likely to do when they surf the web. The data obtained through ScorecardResearch cookies is kept for up to 90 days. When it is aggregated to observe trends, it may be used for analytical purposes indefinitely.

And – get this – the Guardian story also uses Facebook Custom Audience, which once all the user data has been harvested and stored can:

  1. Create an ad using the ads create tool. You can set it to show in News Feed or the right-hand column and on any device.
  2. Choose your Custom Audience and select targeting options like location, age, gender and interests
  3. Set a budget and place your order. Your ad will be served to the audience you’ve chosen to target.

Do all Guardian readers know?

Spotter: Techcrunch

Posted: 8th, April 2018 | In: Broadsheets, Key Posts, News, Technology | Comment


Red trolls in Purple States: how Russia defeated democracy

 

The Guardian has a few words on the Russian State-funded trolls accused of swinging the 2016 US Presidential election from Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump. Russia saw in Trump, so the allegation follows, a better chance to grow and protect its monocular, illiberal interests.

The Russian regime often looks guiltier than a dog stood by a pile of poo. When the Russian PR machine talks, you’d be wise to hold your nose. It’s a steady stream of bull-made effluent. And it makes you wonder why Russia’s tosh has been imbibed with such power. Did Russian bots and spods really win it for Trump, boost Bernie Sanders and root for the Green Party’s Jill Stein? Is its propaganda so much more effective than the stuff seeping from Western regimes? And why does any of it matter?

The Cold War was won. But look out – the Ruskies have moved on from invasion and armed global socialism to a fearsome social media strategy. They might not be able to hack United States military supercomputers and trigger World War III, but they’ve got some terrific gossip about Clinton having had on-the-clock sex with Trump on a yellowy waterbed as Saddam Hussein drummed out Back in the USSR on Bono’s buttocks. (That was the rumour, right? If not, Oleg, call me, I have ideas and hashtags.) Whatever the truth, mentally-negligible Mary-Sue in a swing state bought it.

The Guardian tell us:

It was from American political activists that they [Russian trolls] received the advice to target “purple” swing states, something that was essential to the ultimate success of the campaign.

Well, quite. You target the area where you can have most effect. You know, like the, er, Guardian did:

To maximise the likelihood of your efforts making a difference, we’ve zeroed in on one of the places where this year’s election truly will be decided: Clark County, Ohio, which is balanced on a razor’s edge between Republicans and Democrats. In the 2000 election, Al Gore won Clark County by 1% – equivalent to 324 votes – but George Bush won the state as a whole by just four percentage points. This time round, Ohio is one of the most crucial swing states: Kerry and Bush have been campaigning there tire lessly – they’ve visited Clark County itself – and the most recent Ohio poll shows, once again, a 1% difference between the two of them. The voters we will target in our letter-writing initiative are all Clark County residents, and they are all registered independents, which somewhat increases the chances of their being persuadable.

Before Twitter, there was the Guardian’s interventionism. Called Operation Clark County, the paper wanted to “help readers have a say in the American election by writing to undecided voters in the crucial state of Ohio”.

Here was one reaction from the mouth-breathing colonials:

KEEP YOUR FUCKIN’ LIMEY HANDS OFF OUR ELECTION. HEY, SHITHEADS, REMEMBER THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR? REMEMBER THE WAR OF 1812? WE DIDN’T WANT YOU, OR YOUR POLITICS HERE, THAT’S WHY WE KICKED YOUR ASSES OUT. FOR THE 47% OF YOU WHO DON’T WANT PRESIDENT BUSH, I SAY THIS … TOUGH SHIT!
PROUD AMERICAN VOTING FOR BUSH!

How the modern Left loves democracy. You can intervene if is means sneaking the demos the right answer to the big question. Noble Obama telling us a vote for Brexit would put us to the back of the queue and helpful Bill Clinton backing Boris Yeltsin with $1bn of aid are great. But a Russian nerd in an out-of-town office tweeting bollocks is a threat to democracy – something so precious that its champions call everyone who voted for Trump and Brexit thick as custard.

So much for confidence in democracy. Because that’s it, no? It’s not about Russian might. It’s about us thinking our way of life is so precarious that a few rogue propagandists can destroy it with a tweet.

Posted: 20th, February 2018 | In: Broadsheets, Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment


Saving Haiti: if a celebrity won’t exploit you Oxfam will

Oxfam’s chief executive Mark Goldring has been talking to the Guardian. The paper says the mood at Oxfam is one akin to a “sudden bereavement” – much like Haitians felt when 200,000 of them were killed in an earthquake, or worse?

Oxfam staff are “close to tears”. Goldring “hasn’t slept for six nights and he looks stricken,” we’re told. Anyone wondering why Goldring chose to speak with the Guardian and not, say the Daily Mail or Times, which broke the story of Oxfam’s alleged laissez-faire attitude to criminality and sexual exploitation by its staff? This is less interview than PR.

Goldring was “justifiably fretting that his words would be wilfully twisted to do Oxfam yet more damage”. But here he is in the Guardian, a man in mourning wondering if the inheritance tax and death duties will damage the brand. He complains of being “savaged” in the media, his words “manipulated”. No danger of that in the Guardian, which sees good in the simple act of a grown man at the top of powerful multi-million pound organisation – last year’s income: £408.6 million – talking “alone, unchaperoned by press officers” – one of the 20 full-time press officers the Times says are on Oxfam’s books. He is “unguarded and candid. The impression I form is of someone telling the truth: if Goldring has been guilty of anything, I think it might be naivety about the vulnerability of almost any organisation in the febrile public mood of distrust.”

It’s not so much about Oxfam lying and covering up alleged criminality and exploiting the bereft and genuinely bereaved, allowing staffers to leave without a stain on their CVs and thus best able to secure other jobs at other aid organisations, which some did, it’s about you. Asked why Oxfam lied and covered up immoral behaviour by some of its staff, Goldring offers:

“That was wrong. I believe it was done in good faith to try to balance being transparent and protecting Oxfam’s work. I don’t think [Oxfam] wanted to promote a sensation and damage the delivery of [the Haiti] programme. With hindsight, we should have said more. I’ve been clear about that since this broke. But if Oxfam’s business is to help save lives, if your organisation is there to actually help make the world a better place, I can see why people thought this was the right thing to do.”

It’s you they don’t trust, you judgemental sods who give so generously to Oxfam. It’s about ring-fencing your giving from people who don’t have the best of intentions. It might be about the Haitians, but don’t worry about them. Just give. Oxfam will decide what they need.

Goldring adds:

 “The intensity and the ferocity of the attack makes you wonder, what did we do? We murdered babies in their cots? Certainly, the scale and the intensity of the attacks feels out of proportion to the level of culpability. I struggle to understand it. You think: ‘My God, there’s something going on there.’”

He is then invited to go on the attack. The Guardian leads him to the escape hatch and kicks it open:

Is it that political opponents of international aid – the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg and Priti Patel – are exploiting Oxfam’s crisis? He hesitates.

Are leading Tories the problem here? Goldring dismisses the idea out of hand, saying that it’d be a sick irony to present Oxfam as the victims of an opportunist, self-serving elite. No, of course not. He says:

“Others are better to judge whether that’s right or wrong. I don’t think it’s right for Oxfam to say that at the moment, because even that feels self-serving. What I’m really concerned about is that this is not used as an approach to attack aid.” But it already is. “Yes. It is.”

Good job it’s not about first world westerners, the rich, saintly and knowing, riding in to save the hapless, perpetually needy Third Worlders from starvation and poverty by telling them how many babies to have, that Fairtrade is better than GM, that to live ‘ethically’ is ideal, water is best when it comes not from pipes by from wells dug by Prince William, and if they’re lucky a celebrity coloniser will adopt one of them. Good job it’s not about the vain and well off controlling the impoverished and using them to show off their own moral goodness. It’s not about them. It’s all about us. Charity, after all, begins at home…

 

Posted: 17th, February 2018 | In: Broadsheets, Key Posts, News | Comment


John McDonnell will bankrupt the Tube and there’s no such thing as a free market

No sooner has John McDonnell outlined his ambition to renationalise energy, rail and water than news reaches us of a shortfall. The Guardian notes:

Transport for London (TfL) has insisted it is not facing a financial crisis despite planning for a near £1bn deficit next year after a surprise fall in passenger numbers.

Mr McDonnell told BBC Radio 4’s Today earlier:

“It would be cost free. You borrow to buy an asset and when that asset is producing profits like the water industry does, that will cover your borrowing cost.”

The assets make the profits. The profits pay the bills. What about if people alter their behaviour?

He went on:

“We aren’t going to take back control of these industries in order to put them into the hands of a remote bureaucracy, but to put them into the hands of all of you – so that they can never again be taken away.”

But bureaucrats will still run the entity, albeit ones appointed by the State, right? Who are they accountable to? How does anyone get redress for poor service? Is McDonnell seeking to serve taxpayers best or just tying to give meaning, direction and authority to the State?

“Public ownership is not just a political decision, it’s an economic necessity. We’ll move away from the failed privatisation model of the past, developing new democratic forms of ownership, joining other countries, regions and cities across the world in taking control of our essential services.”

So you take over the London Underground, and budget accordingly. And then there’s a £1bn deficit. Which means..? As Ronald Reagan put it in 1986: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

 

 

But business has never been independent of the State. What of PPI, regulation and subsidies, which rather dampen the idea that immense profits are being made? (In 2006-7, the Government spent £6.8 billion of public money in the the privatised rail industry – around half what it cost to run the entire thing.) What of Government calls for curbs on executive pay and vows to “fix the broken housing market”? So much for the free market.

Tony Blair told us “Stability can be a sexy thing”. Theresa May wants to be “strong and stable”. They seek to maintain the status quo. Doesn’t that add up to the established businesses and their links to Government rolling on and on and not entrepreneurship, the best of which is often triggered by volatility and daring?

McDonnell’s monocular and forgetful call for re-nationalisation has not come out of the blue. It’s just an addendum to current and recent Government policy and a crisis of purpose.

Posted: 15th, February 2018 | In: Broadsheets, Key Posts, Money, News, Politicians | Comment


Why car insurance is so expensive for the unemployed

The Times has news on car insurance, a tax that can be prohibitively expensive. Well, yes, of course it is – that’s one of the points of it, no, to link risk to wealth? James Daley asks:

The industry’s defence will always be that their prices are based purely on the data. While it may be true that customers who describe themselves as unemployed have more car accidents than people who describe themselves as homemakers, is it really fair to differentiate between those groups?

Yes.

Posted: 6th, February 2018 | In: Broadsheets, News, Technology | Comment


Referees confused over Liverpool v Spurs penalties prove VAR is rubbish

More reaction to Liverpool’s 2-2 draw with Spurs. No VAR was used in the match, which featured two penalties for Spurs. It might have been three pens had the referee not spotted that Dele Alli dived. Liverpool were aggrieved by the decisions. Spurs were elated. Would VAR have helped? Well, that depends on which referee is sat in a sealed box reviewing the action on the telly.

NO pens says retired ref Mark Halsey in the Sun:

“HARRY KANE was in an offside position for the first penalty. Yes, the ball has come off Dejan Lovren before falling to Kane, but the Liverpool defender has tried to clear the ball knowing that Kane is behind him – and not knowing if the Spurs striker is offside or not. So Kane has clearly impacted on the Liverpool man, thus interfering with an opponent. The assistant should have flagged at this point so the Loris Karius foul is immaterial.”

YES pens says former ref Graham Poll in the Mail: “Assistant Eddie Smart got Tottenham’s penalty decisions spot-on… it topped a good afternoon for referee Jon Moss and his officials at Liverpool.”

Well done Eddie Smart. The assistant got involved in both penalty decisions and he was right to do so. For the first penalty, he called for Jon Moss because Harry Kane was in an offside position and Smart could not be clear whether a Liverpool player had touched the ball before the Tottenham striker was fouled.

They discussed the situation and Moss decided that Dejan Lovren had played the ball, which meant Kane was onside before being taken down by Loris Karius…

And then Smart persuaded the referee, deep into stoppage time, to award the second penalty to Spurs.

To the naked eye it looked as if Erik Lamela had dived. People who had seen it numerous times on TV replays could not be sure, but Smart was. And he was right.

YES pens says former ref Dermot Gallagher on Sky:

“In the debrief after the game, they’ll be told that they made the big, match-changing decisions correct on the day.”

NO pens says ref Mark Clattenburg on the Times:First penalty

Pen 1. Was it offside?
This should not have been a penalty because it was offside….Second penalty

Pen 2.

This a tough decision. I believe that there is a suspicion of offside in the build up to the penalty. The ball is touched by Fernando Llorente and into Érik Lamela, who is fractionally offside in my opinion. As we have seen with VAR now, offside is a matter of fact and no benefit is given to the attacking team. Therefore, the penalty should not have been allowed. Once the offside is missed, It looks as though Virgil van Dijk goes to kick the ball and then tries to pull away his leg, but there is a still a bit of contact. It is a soft penalty, but not definitely a wrong call.

Clear as mud, then. Just the way we like it.

Posted: 5th, February 2018 | In: Back pages, Broadsheets, Liverpool, Sports, Spurs, Tabloids | Comment


Regret the error: a wet lunch in Bogata

In the Times, an error is corrected in Philip Jacobson’s obituary:

 

 

 

Posted: 2nd, February 2018 | In: Broadsheets | Comment


Well-paid BBC women are not thick as mince Grid Girl women

Spot the differences between the “BBC women on the march” for equal pay and ‘Grid Girls’ women being told they can’t work at Formula One events. Clue: age and class.

First up, the women who know what’s best for themselves and all women. The women taking a stand for equal rights, more money, opportunity and the sisterhood:

 

 

The women told they don’t know what’s best for themselves and who don’t know their own minds, being presumably too thick and infected by misogyny to earn an honest living of their choosing. Thankfully, more intelligent and higher ranking women are here to lend these losers a steer.

 

pit babes grid babes bbc sexism pay pit babes grid babes bbc sexism pay pit babes grid babes bbc sexism pay

 

And then this, in which the female expert in all things female schools two grown women no longer working the darts circuit in the right and wrong way to dress, earn money and conduct themselves. (Neither group is from the 70s – that’s the 1970s for the ‘babes’ and the 1870s for the bluestocking.)

 

Posted: 1st, February 2018 | In: Broadsheets, News, Sports, Tabloids, TV & Radio | Comment


Tax the brains: BBC should pay less to stop Amazon and Netflix

About those BBC salaries – and overlooking the bit about you needing a bellend to get top whack at dear old Auntie – the Telegraph tells readers:

The BBC is under pressure to cut the salaries of “untouchable” male stars including Chris Evans and Gary Lineker, ahead of a report into the on-screen gender pay gap.

Only male stars? What about female big earners? We won’t know what everyone’s on because the very well-paid bureaucrats running the BBC – spending your money – operate what former BBC China editor Carrie Gracie called a “secretive and illegal pay culture”.

Women at the corporation questioned why the the pair are maintained on such exorbitant salaries – £1.75m for Lineker and at least £2.2 million for Evans.

Evans is seen as a versatile crowd pleaser. Lineker fronts the BBC’s Premier League football highlights show, Match of the Day – the only show terrestrial TV show broadcasting Premier League highlights. It could be presented by a masturbating gibbon and fans would still tune in. Any number of good journalists could do it for much less.

The BBC claims that it cannot cut the pay of entertainment and sports personalities as it has done for news presenters, because there is too much competition from Netflix, Amazon and BT.

So why not make a commitment to producing stuff the BBC’s rivals can’t or won’t? Netflix, Amazon and BT don’t do broadcast news. Let’s have more of that, then. And would you follow Lineker to an Amazon PL show? The BBC shuold give new blood a chance – investing in experimental and daring telly. If you can’t compete with private outfits, use the vast sums raked in through tax to play a new game.

Spotter: Tele

Posted: 29th, January 2018 | In: Broadsheets, Money, News | Comment


Action on Sugar and the new Puritans know what’s best for the poor and chilled

You don’t need to share a big back of crisps of chocolates, you know, the small sacks of the stuff you can buy in cinema foyers. A friend of mine eschews the small packets and asks for the “fat bastard” popcorn bucket. He finds it just the right amount. But some people thinks he’s spending his money on too much nosh. They want a return to those halcyon says of less, when rationing was all the go. The Guardian says the country is gripped by an “obesity crisis” – which it isn’t –  and wants us to listen to the uncharitable charity Action on Sugar, which is demanding a 20% sugar tax on all sugar-enriched confectionery.

The poor will pay more for their sugary treats. The better off and thick won’t much notice. (Unless they add a new tax to wine, which is full of sugar.)

AoS also wants a ban on supermarket deals for “sharing” bags of treats like M&Ms, Maltesers, Cadbury Dairy Milk and Giant Buttons. The stuff’s being made too cheap. People are buying too much. There is too much freedom.

Graham MacGregor, professor of cardiovascular medicine at Queen Mary University of London and chairman of Action on Sugar is outraged. “It is shocking that food companies are being allowed to exploit consumers by manipulating them into purchasing larger size bags of chocolate confectionery on the cheap,” he says. “Theresa May is letting companies get away with this despite pledging to help the socially deprived when she first became the prime minister. Companies must be held accountable and reminded to reconsider their ethical and corporate responsibility.”

It turns out you help the deprived by, er, depriving them of things they enjoy. And the easily manipulated should be manipulated not by Bertie Bassett but by anti-sugar campaigners. No money for a skiing holiday this year, but you’ve got a few quid for a big bag of Revels on the sofa in front of the telly. You get your pleasures where you can. But other people know what’s best for you. Step back from the Minstrels trough, fatso. Stop being chilled about your weight and diet. It’s panic stations time. (Call 0800TASTE4STRESS – Our therapists are waiting for your call.)

According to the data, the most sugary sharing bag is a pouch of Brookside Dark Chocolate Pomegranate (198g), which contains 29 teaspoons of sugar in one bag – “four times the maximum daily limit for adults”. Maximum limit? It’s not a limit that if exceeded causes you to overdose. It’s a recommendation.

The Guardian doesn’t mention the reply from the Industry body the Food and Drink Federation. “There is no substantive evidence that they make any meaningful difference to obesity,” it says. “Instead of demonising individual nutrients, products or categories we should instead be promoting balanced diets.”

They all agree on one thing: the purpose of life is health and longevity. So wrap you and yours in cotton wool, avoid all risk and take your five a day. It might not be fun. But at least you’ll be miserable for longer…

NEXT UP: The Pension crisis and people living longer than ever!

Posted: 26th, January 2018 | In: Broadsheets, Key Posts, Money, News, The Consumer | Comment


Manchester United: Sanchez is no mercenary and Arsenal gain hope

The news media is on no doubt which of Arsenal and Manchester United got the better deal when Alexis Sanchez moved to Old Trafford and Henrikh Mkhitaryan headed to London in a swap plus cash deal. Every back page leads with Sanchez:

 

alexis sanchez arsenal manchester united

 

There’s a lot of guff about how Sanchez did and didn’t move for the money – my view: so what if he did; it’s a job and his duty to get the best pay he can to perform it. Not every athlete can be like Tim Duncan, the San Antonio Spurs star who twice helped his club by accepting contracts for less than his market value. Most players listen to their agents. And if journalists and pundits want to look around football for mercenaries, they should lower their gaze toward the men in shiny tracksuits.

The other notable thing is that Sanchez is being marketed heavily from the off, with United posting a video of the Chilean playing a few bars of ‘Glory Glory’, a song I’d always associated with Tottenham Hotspur.

 

 

Over at Arsenal, Arsene Wenger appraised his new player in unusual terms: “He’s a very complete player. He creates chances, he defends well, he can absorb distances and he’s very committed as well.”

The upshot is that both sides lose a player who were under performing and gain one who offers hope.

Posted: 23rd, January 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Broadsheets, manchester united, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Andrea Dunbar: ghastly review of Rita Sue And Bob Too warps the story to support the narrative

In the Sunday Times, a theatre review of Andre Dunbar’s excellent 1982 play Rita, Sue and Bob Too, currently showing at London’s Royal Court. It was made into a film in 1987. Readers are told:

 

Rita, Sue and Bob Too is a prickly, thought-provoking and sometimes hilarious little period piece, but there is one huge elephant in the theatre. No one, surely, can watch a piece about underage schoolgirls being groomed for sex in Bradford and not think of more recent scandals. Perhaps the most sickening thing is how innocent Rita and Sue’s experiences seem compared to those of young girls in Bradford and Keighley over the past few years: girls as young as 12, drugged into a stupor, raped by five men or more at once, abortions at 13 and many worse details. Such things leave deep scars and lifelong trauma.

Andrea Dunbar drank herself to death in 1990, at the age of 29.

Tosh then. Dunbar’s play is better than some moralising guff. Much better. Dunbar (22 May 1961 – 20 December 1990) died from a brain haemorrhage.

Spotter: Mic Wright. For further reading on Dunbar, this is a better start.

 

Posted: 16th, January 2018 | In: Books, Broadsheets | Comment


Public Health England wants a return to rationing

This photo shows customers lining up for sugar at an unknown location during rationing in 1943.

 

England is making moves to control your insides. The Indy has news for people who like food and freedom. The Government wants to monitor your shopping bags:

Public Health England (PHE) is demanding a “calorie-cap” on supermarket ready meals and fast food dishes.

Can that be enforced? Public Health England says it works so that “the healthier choice becomes the default choice”. PHE wants to order chefs to change ingredients, reduce sugar, fat and salt from dinners; or bring back rationing, albeit only for the well-fed and ‘too fat’. We’ve never had it so good, so let’s have less of it.

The suggested ruling, which may come into effect in March, would limit breakfasts to 400 calories and lunches and dinners to 600 each.

May or may not. The paper fails to say under what powers PHE can make such a ruling.

Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, tells The Times. “This is all about things like pizzas and readymade sandwiches. We will need to set out guidelines and, I suspect, a series of calorie caps.”

So the Indy was wrong. There will be no rules. The Indy doesn’t bother to check its story, preferring to hype the news it read in another paper. Compare and contrast the Indy’s and the Times’s opening lines:

The traditional January detox when Britons stop drinking and start dieting could last all year under new government health guidelines. – Times

The ubiquity of new year diets and detoxes could extend beyond January and last all year – Indy

It’s worth looking at what PHE does. This from the ‘About’ section on its website:

Responsibilities
We are responsible for:

making the public healthier and reducing differences between the health of different groups by promoting healthier lifestyles, advising government and supporting action by local government, the NHS and the public

We are an executive agency of the Department of Health, and a distinct organisation with operational autonomy to advise and support government, local authorities and the NHS in a professionally independent manner.

PHE can’t make rules. Buy it can try to justify it existence with a spot of PR that, as ever, tells us how to behave.

Posted: 15th, January 2018 | In: Broadsheets, News | Comment


Wenger watch: Arsenal manger swore at Chelsea player and never flinched

How did Arsene Wenger find life sat in the Chelsea press box for Arsenal’s League Cup match semi-final tie? Well, last time we discovered that he has a huge garden:

A year ago, when he was also serving a touchline ban, Wenger crept to his seat beside the corporate area in the East Stand at Stamford Bridge and was welcomed with a handshake by an Arsenal supporter.

“I said, ‘Good afternoon’ and he replied, ‘I’m your gardener at your house’,” Wenger said. “I didn’t even know him. I do have a big garden.”

And this time, what did we learn?

Here’s Jeremy Wilson in the Daily Telegraph:

Spending 90 minutes literally just a few feet from Wenger ensured a fascinating insight. Not for anything he said, but simply the magnified perspective provided by his body language. We hear so often of how football managers live every moment of a match that we become almost immune to the draining reality of that statement. Yet to see Wenger fidgeting with each pass, almost straining to make every tackle and, even surrounded by media, still letting out the occasional shout of encouragement or kick of frustration was to feel just how much it all means.

Phil McNulty was there for the BBC:

Wenger remained relatively calm, even when Lacazette wasted a presentable first-half chance, only rising from his seat once during the game when Welbeck was penalised for a foul on Moses, but it was also easy to detect the strains and stresses.

He banged the table in front of him when Granit Xhaka committed a foul against Eden Hazard, shifted constantly in his seat, throwing back his head in frustration when opportunities came and went, such as Lacazette getting carelessly caught offside and when a promising free-kick position was wasted.

The Islington Gazette:

“I was two rows down so I couldn’t hear what he was saying, but colleagues reported him kicking the backs of their chairs and using the odd swear word, especially when possession was lost or the ball hoofed into the air.

“Whatever you think of him you simply can’t deny his passion.”

Jack Polden in the Mirror:

Commenting on referee Martin Atkinson blowing up for a foul on the Spaniard, Wenger shouted: “Every time Alvaro Morata goes down it’s a f****** free-kick.”

Gary Jacobs dedicates an entire column to Wenger Watch. Highlights include:

Wenger gently leans back in his seat, as Arsenal look more comfortable…

Wenger’s presence is noticed by Chelsea fans to his left. They stand, thrust their arms towards him and chant, “We want you to stay.” There is no response

Jack Wilshere is injured — again. Wenger never flinches

Such are the facts.

Posted: 11th, January 2018 | In: Arsenal, Broadsheets, Chelsea, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comments (2)


When David Hasselhoff didn’t see Stevie Wonder

David Hasselhoff is talking with the Sunday Times:

I live in Calabasas, outside Los Angeles. I can get to the beach in 18 minutes. It’s more laid-back than the rat race of LA — I can breathe out here. Stevie Wonder lives up the hill, but I’ve never seen him.

Anyone…? Anyone?

Posted: 11th, January 2018 | In: Broadsheets, Celebrities | Comment


Epic fail: resting Guardian editor mistaken gets Samuel L Jackson comeback

When Peter Preston, a former editor of the Guardian, died earlier this week, his old paper paid tribute to the man who led between 1975 and 1995.

Janice Turner, Preston’s daughter-in-law, and a Times columnist, read the Guardian’s obituary to the great man. She was moved to tweet:

Strange error in The Guardian’s obit of Peter Preston which would have amused him. He did not write the action movie 51st State starring Samuel L Jackson but a novel of the same name which predicted Britain would leave the EU.

peter preston fail 51st state

 

Not so strange. The BBC made just that error, noting:

His wrote the book 51st State, which was later adapted into a film starring Samuel L Jackson.

 

peter preston 51st state

 

The Herald Scotland told its readers

He also penned novels including Bess and 51st State, the latter of which was made into a film starring Samuel L Jackson.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 8th, January 2018 | In: Broadsheets, News | Comment


Arsenal balls: Arteta invests in a watch to replace Wenger

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says he always sees out his contracts. But the BBC says the Frenchman “could cut short his latest contract and move into the boardroom in the summer”. The source for this speculation is the Mirror, which tells readers:

Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger could quit as manager THIS summer — and is eyeing Mikel Arteta as hand-picked successor

Well, he could. But surely the Mirror’s job is to tell us if he will? Right now there is nothing to say that Wenger will leave Arsenal this summer. And it’s not as if the Mirror has a faultless track record is saying what Wenger’s planning:

 

Daily Mirror wenger quits Arsenal

 

As for Arteta taking the role, a man who played for the Gunners but has never managed a club:

One of the names in the frame is former Gunner Mikel Arteta, who is impressing as a coach alongside Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.

Arteta certainly left a lasting impression with Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis, using some of the money raised in club fines to buy the American a prestigious watch.

Eh?

As official collector of the money from players’ misdemeanours, the ‘present’ came as a surprise to some of Arteta’s team-mates.

But Arteta’s organisational skills on and off the training ground have impressed Wenger as he contemplates his future.

Forget Fergie time, this is Arteta time. The Mirror’s seems to be to show that Arteta is good with money. And because this is the modern media in which no scoop, however shallow, can pass unrepeated by rivals, the Sun reads the Mirror’s non-story and thunders:

QUICK TURNAROUND – Arsene Wenger ready to quit Arsenal and leave Manchester City coach Mikel Arteta in charge at the Emirates

Form something that “could” happen to Wenger being “ready ” to leave all in a morning. The paper looks at Arteta’s watch:

And the retired playmaker apparently impressed Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis by buying him a posh watch during his time as Gunners bursar.

Arteta was in charge of collecting fines at Arsenal and he put the money toward a watch for Gazidis – to the surprise of his team-mates.

Anyone know any facts about this watch, which is quickly passing into folklore?

Posted: 7th, January 2018 | In: Arsenal, Broadsheets, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


John Warboys: sex attacker worse than Savile grooms the CPS

In 2009, London taxi driver John Worboys was given a prison sentence of indeterminate length after being convicted of rape and sexual assaults. He’s to be released on licence. The trial judge ordered Warboys to serve a minimum eight years behind bars for one rape and 19 charges of drugging and sexually assaulting at least 12 women. He has convinced the three-strong Parole Board panel that it is no longer necessary for the protection of the public that he remain in custody. The therapy has worked.

 

 

The problem is that police “believe” there are many more victims. In October 2010 detectives stated their “belief” that Worboys had attacked at least 102 women. The Sun says Warboys attacked 200 women. The Mirror leads with the headline that Warboys took part in “100 rapes and sex attacks”. Police “believe” Warboys is “probably Britain’s most prolific sex offender”, says the Times. Wore than Jimmy Savile, even, the BBC DJ and TV presenter who never got his day in court but post-death was nonetheless branded the man “who groomed an entire nation” and “one of the UK’s most prolific sex offenders”. Savile was a depraved criminal hiding in plain sight. But, as with Warboys, to accept each claim as proof is troubling. There’s no need to hurdle barriers to justice in court, where both sides of a case are heard, when you can announce guilt and trawl for ‘victims’.

And there are lots of victims:

Detectives told The Times that they feared he might have assaulted as many as 500 women, but his use of drugs meant that many could not recall details of what happened to them.

The Mail says “police suspected him of more than 500 attacks”.

It’s worth looking at this BBC story from April 2009:

The Metropolitan Police was told sex offence units were overstretched months before the arrest and release of taxi rapist John Worboys, it has emerged.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating why he was released after an arrest in July 2007.

A report said specialist sex offence units, known as Sapphire teams, were understaffed and overstretched.

A report by Government inspectors, which was seen by Met chiefs nine months before the original arrest and release of Worboys, found that Plumstead CID, in south east London, needed urgent reform.

Ch Supt Nicola Grevatt, of HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, said the Greenwich borough only had six officers with specialist training to deal with sex offences. Detectives were investigating up to 20 rape investigations each, the report added.

The effect had been that rape victims were losing contact with the police or withdrawing their support.

Ms Grevatt also said senior officers were responsible for poor communication, in-fighting and an atmosphere of political correctness and paranoia.

Worboys was held at a police station in Plumstead, south-east London, but released on bail.

In February last year he was arrested for a second time, which led to the charges on which he was convicted.

Do we have faith in the police, who failed women seeking help but when talking to media believe everyone is a victim; choosing to tell rather than to listen? Do we trust the justice system? Here’s an easier one: do we admire politicians? The Times makes the link between Warboys and the Labour Party explicit in its reporting. The headline tells readers: “Labour law chief backed ‘lenient’ term for taxi rapist John Worboys”:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal, the former Labour attorney-general, decided against referring the sentence handed to John Worboys back to the courts despite an outcry over its leniency, it emerged last night… Lady Scotland’s decision not to challenge the sentence is one of a series of actions by legal authorities that might have enabled his early release…

And:

Scotland Yard said that in the aftermath of the trial it had been contacted by 19 further suspected victims and referred their cases to the Crown Prosecution Service in October 2010. It was told that further prosecutions were not in the public interest.

The director of public prosecutions was Sir Keir Starmer, now Labour’s frontbench spokesman on Brexit.

The Sun also notes that Starmer was “in charge of the CPS as 115 new victims told police Warboys had attacked them”. The Mail (page 5), thunders: “How Labour’s Keir Starmer let him escape more charges”. Starmer is “accused of ignoring scores of women” who claim Warboys attacked them. A “senior Whitehall source” opines: “If Warboys had been ordered to stand trial for more attacks, it is possible he would have been convicted”. If. Possible. So much for considering the facts. And do we know if Starmer had any role to play in the Warboys trial? No. The Mail concedes: “It is not known if he was personally involved in the decision not to prosecute.”

In the Left-wing papers, the Guardian makes no mention of Starmer and Baroness Scotland in its report “John Worboys: MP demands reasons for release of ‘black-cab rapist'”. The Mirror declines to mention Baroness Scotland and Starmer in its tale of the “sex beast”.

Biased reporting to the fore, then, in a story about a sexual predator’s depravity and prison’s ability to rehabilitate even the most sickening criminals.

 

Posted: 5th, January 2018 | In: Broadsheets, Key Posts, News, Tabloids | Comment


Arsenal balls: Sanchez agreed a new contract last December

Time for Arsenal to burn their bridges with Alexis Sanchez and kick out the sulky forward.

News is that the Chile international wanted to stay at Arsenal, allegedly shaking hands on a new deal last December.

Everything was agreed. But before Arsenal’s dithering board got any contract signed, the club were demolished 10-2 over two Champions’ League matches by a no-more-than-decent Bayern Munich side in March. Sanchez realised Arsenal were rubbish.

His future lay at Manchester City. They bid £60m, which Arsenal, in thrall to a palsied management structure of limited ambitions for anything other than routine dividends, rejected. Now they’ve got a misfiring player on huge wages. The only way to get something out of the situation is to push Sanchez out this January before he can leave for free at the season’s end.

Cue, then, the paper talk that he reneged on an agreement to remain at the club. Boo! Get him out!

Posted: 23rd, December 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Broadsheets, Sports | Comment


Rebecca Dykes: abducted, murdered by the Uber killer and a rape that wasn’t

Rebecca Dykes

 

The man arrested in connection with the death of British diplomat Rebecca Dykes is Tariq H, says the Guardian. Rebecca Dykes’s body was found by the side of a motorway in Beirut, where she’d been working for the British government.

Reporting has been sketchy. The Mirror leads with news that the woman “in her early 30s” (she was 30) was “raped and murdered”. The Sun agrees, stating that she was “raped and murdered”. But she wasn’t raped, at least not according to autopsy reports. And we don’t know that she was murdered. Indeed, the Express says she was, er, “strangled to death”.

Still, at least we know that the dead woman “graduated with a 2:1” (Mirror) and went to “posh Rugby School” (Sun). 

The Telegraph says she was “abducted some time after” leaving a cafe where she’d been out with friends.

Kidnapped? No, says the Standard, which delivers the headline: “Uber driver’ arrested after British embassy worker found ‘raped and strangled’ in Beirut.” Did she catch a cab using the Uber app? An Uber spokesman goes on the record: “We are horrified by this senseless act of violence. Our hearts are with the victim and her family. We are working with authorities to assist their investigation in any way we can.”

Can it be that a taxi driver hired using an app which tracks his movements and that of his client did it? And if he did, is this an open and shut case?

The Telegraph also notes: “The Lebanese driver picked her up from Gemmayzeh and then drove to the nearby Achrafiyeh neighborhood where she lived, but did not drop her off there. Police traced the suspect’s licence plate through surveillance cameras on the highway, where he dumped the body around 4am, Lebanese news agency NNA reported. The suspect has a criminal record, but it is not known if he was picking Miss Dykes up in his capacity as an Uber passenger or not.”

The Telegraph also tells us for reasons unclear: “She had not been drinking as she had an early flight to catch home early the next morning for the Christmas holidays.” Or as the Times puts it: “Another of the crowd at the bar said Ms Dykes had recently been suffering from a bug and was not drinking heavily.”

The only thing certain is that Rebecca Dykes is dead.

A family spokesman tells everyone: “We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Rebecca. We are doing all we can to understand what happened. We request that the media respect our privacy as we come together as a family at this very difficult time.”

How does bad reporting help them?

Posted: 18th, December 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Key Posts, News, Tabloids | Comment


Student cleared of rape after police wrongly withheld evidence of his innocence

Spare a few thoughts today for Liam Allan. Accused of the heinous crime of rape, 22-year-old Allan, a student at Greenwich University, protested his innocence. He spent two years on bail, the horror hanging over him. He’d be warned that if found guilty he could expect a ten-year prison sentence.

And, then, when the case came before the judge at Croydon Crown Court, after three days of debate Jerry Hayes, the prosecuting barrister, told the room: “I would like to apologise to Liam Allan. There was a terrible failure in disclosure which was inexcusable…There could have been a very serious miscarriage of justice, which could have led to a very significant period of imprisonment and life on the sex offenders register. It appears the [police] officer in the case has not reviewed the disk, which is quite appalling.”

The disc was a computer disc. On it were copies of 40,000 messages from the alleged victim’s telephone. Liam Allan’s lawyers never saw the disc until very late. Police told them there was no need to because the disc contained nothing of importance to the case for defence nor prosecution. But it did. A new prosecution barrister ordered police to hand over any telephone records before the trial began. On the disc were messages revealing that the woman had asked Mr Allan for “casual sex”. She told friends she enjoyed sex with Allan – she had told police she did not enjoy sex. She discussed her fantasies of being raped.

Julia Smart, part of Allan’s defence team, only received the details of the woman’s text messages the night before she was scheduled to cross-examine her. She spend the night reading them.

Mr Allan tells The Times: “I can’t explain the mental torture of the past two years. I feel betrayed by the system which I had believed would do the right thing.” His mother, Lorraine Allan, added: “In the current climate, in these sorts of cases, you are guilty until you can prove you are innocent. The assumption is there is no smoke without fire.”

Ruling Allan innocent of all charges, Judge Peter Gower told one and all: “There is something that has gone wrong and it is a matter that the CPS, in my judgment, should be considering at the very highest level,. Otherwise there is a risk not only of this happening again but that the trial process will not detect what has gone wrong and there will be a very serious miscarriage of justice. He [Mr Allan] leaves the courtroom an innocent man without a stain on his character… It seems to me to be a recipe for disaster if material is not viewed by a lawyer,” he said. “Something has gone very, very wrong in the way this case was investigated and brought to court.”

Is there an agenda at play?

 

Posted: 15th, December 2017 | In: Broadsheets, News | Comments (2)


Apple’s huge stash of cash is invested in the global financial system

Much financial illiteracy in the Guardian, wherein there’s talk of Apple and its billions. Writing beneath the headline “The tech giants will never pay their fair share of taxes – unless we make them” Guardian readers are told about Apple’s tax avoidance schemes and how they must be stopped. It begins:

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, and the accountants of Silicon Valley have proved Arthur C Clarke’s third law to be as true of tax avoidance as it is of tech.

Clarke’s third law features on the writer’s essay Hazards of Prophecy: The Failure of Imagination, as seen in his book book of 1973 (originally published in 1962) Profiles of the Future: An Inquiry into the Limits of the Possible. The law states: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

But it’s nothing like magic what Apple does. Fortune has a decent take on how it works. And it can be argued that Apple has painted itself into a corner, albeit one of sublime luxury on small islands. “Apple and firms like it are hoist by their own petard,” says Professor Edward Kleinbard of the University of Southern California. “They have gigantic pools of cash that are the fruit of their tax-avoidance labour but they can’t enjoy it in the way they want because that is the deal. The way to look at the cash is not that it’s a problem but that it’s the result of the success US firms have had in generating stateless income.”

And so we get to this nonsense in the Guardian:

The most recent outrage is Apple’s $252bn offshore cash pile, as exposed by the Paradise Papers investigation. More valuable than the foreign currency reserves of the US or the UK, it represents all the money that the world’s most valuable company has siphoned out of the global financial system for the benefit of its shareholders.

Bizarre stuff indeed to view Apple’s billions as cash dumped in a treasure chest. There is sits, not being used for investment in bills, bonds, overseas goods and services, nor even earning interest in its host nation.

CNN helps us know how the money is used:

So Apple has actually been going into hock to help fund some of its stock buybacks and dividends. The company raised $10 billion in debt last quarter and now has about $47 billion in long-term debt overall.

Apple can use its cash reserves to buy unsecured debt, paid back at a much lower rate than 35%. As Bloomberg noted in May:

The iPhone-maker has $148 billion of its record $257 billion cash pile invested in corporate debt alone, according to a company filing from Wednesday.

Buy debt and wait for a tax window to repatriate the cash? If Apple moves the cash from overseas to the US, it’ll receive a gigantic tax bill.

…the Cupertino, California-based company invests in corporate bonds and other assets like money market funds and U.S. Treasuries.

With more than 90 percent of its war chest abroad, the company regularly issues bonds of its own to help fund programs like share buybacks and capital spending.

Shareholders and investors see that huge stack of cash and want some.

Apple said Thursday it’s selling what may be $7 billion of debt, and will use proceeds in part to support a 63-cent dividend and an increased stock-repurchase program.

The money is not siphoned out of the global financial system. It’s just in another part of it.

PS – if you have business idea and don’t live in a high-tax juristiction, call Apple.

 

Posted: 13th, December 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Money, News | Comment


Grenfell Tower: antisemites, Trots and other agendas

The Times has been looking at people around Grenfell Tower protests and campaigns. In one story headlined “Russian TV wanted to stir class unrest after Grenfell” we hear about reports on RT (formerly Russia Today), the broadcaster through which, as one colleague opines, Vladimir Putin trolls the West.

The story begins:

A Kremlin-controlled TV station seized on the Grenfell Tower fire to try to foment “class war” in Britain.

An RT broadcaster is cited as having told his audience:

“£10 million was spent on cosmetic changes to the outside of the building to make it look better for rich residents who live near by.”

The Times checks the facts and finds them wanting:

“In fact the £10 million figure was the cost of the entire refurbishment between 2014 and 2016, not just the cladding.”

RT has responded, albeit in a slightly confusing manner.

If this did happen, and it probably did because we have to trust that The Times has studied the hell out of the coverage in order to squeeze out any accusation it can, could it be that the RT reporter made a mistake?

If this did happen? Can’t it check its own footage? But this part of the lengthy response seems to be in surer ground, picking up on an anomaly in the Times report:

The paper usefully quotes “class war,” but it’s not really obvious where that quote is from. Top investigative reporter Dominic Kennedy wasn’t in the mood to make that clear. The word ‘foment’ is not part of a quote – that is The Times’ own little addition. So essentially it appears RT is accused of putting the words ‘class’ and ‘war’ together… and saying them out loud!!!

If RT is trying to “foment class war” with its coverage of Grenfell (I asked around, and it’s not) you have to wonder what kind of war The Times is trying to ‘foment’ with its unending, sensationalist and misleading coverage of anything linked to the word Russia.

Three other stories form part of the Times’ investigations into people around Grenfell Tower. In “How the far left tried — and failed — to hijack Grenfell” we get to look at Justice4Grenfell which “has suggested there were hundreds of fatalities even though the police say 71 people were killed”.

The group has angered some locals by taking possession of the slogan it uses as its name, registering it at Companies House and on the internet registry, and adopting a high public profile. It said that it would apply for core participant status, which would bring privileged rights to see paperwork, make statements, question witnesses and apply for money for legal advice.

But if it’s all legal, what’s wrong? And, in any case, the group doesn’t seem to be at the heart of things.

Residents have created their own exclusive self-help group, Grenfell United, after becoming alarmed at attempts to hijack the disaster by fringe pressure groups, political extremists and agitators. Grenfell United is treated by everyone from Downing Street to local charities as the authentic voice of the tower’s former residents.

We are introduced to some of the alleged ‘hijackers’, all of whom appear in the Daily Mail’s story in today’s paper “Far-left activists in bid to hijack Grenfell: Fire victims hit out at rabble-rousers to exploit deaths of 71.”

We meet Sue Caro, 60, a “diversity expert” who questioned the death toll, believing it to be higher. The Mail says she is no longer a member of Justice4Grenfell. There’s Ishmahil Blagrove, 49, the founder of Justice4Grenfell. The Mail says of him:

He launched Justice4Grenfell with a speech warning: ‘You know me and when I’m ready to start a fire I’ll start a fire.’ He added that ‘if we burn down anywhere’ it might be Chelsea.

The Mail does not find room for what we can read in the Times:

He said: “My statement in regards to starting a fire is to indicate that now is not the time.” Young people were on the streets seeking retribution for the fire and he was “indicating that if this anger and frustration were to boil over, then it would be in a part of the Royal Borough [of Kensington and Chelsea] to which the government and the media pay close attention.”

The Times also notes:

Grenfell protests have been joined by the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), which suffered mass defections over the suggested cover-up of sexual assault and rape allegations in 2010.

In another story, this one titled “Antisemitic outbursts of prominent Grenfell aid organiser” we get to meet Tahra Ahmed. The Times us:

A leading proponent of the conspiracy theory that the 9/11 terror attack was faked by Jews has gained a prominent role as a Grenfell Tower volunteer.

We’re not told what that role is and if she has anything to do with any organised groups. One writer has tried to find out more. But a look for her name around the disaster reveals very little. The name does feature in a Daily Mail story from June 19, when a Tahra Ahmed was quoted as part of a protest at Kensington Town Hall:

Tahra Ahmed, who was involved in organising the protest, branded the tower fire a ‘holocaust’. The former Metropolitan Police worker admitted she was ‘hoping the protest doesn’t get worse’ after repeatedly being forced to intervene to stop violence against police throughout the evening.

Having featured her a source of information then, the Mail today tells readers beneath the sub-head “The Antisemite”:

…she has repeatedly made antisemitic outbursts and has claimed that the 9/11 terror attack was faked by Jews. Miss Ahmed, who lives in London, has previously described Hitler’s massacre of Jews as the ‘holohoax’. And in a previous comments, the activist has said: ‘Grenfell is owned by a private Jewish property developer just like the Twin Towers. I wonder how much Goldman [Sachs] is standing to make in the world’s most expensive real estate location, [Kensington].’

The Mail then explains:

Goldman Sachs has had no involvement in the disaster apart from donating 100 boxes of children’s clothing and books, helping former residents get access to technology and matching employees’ appeal donations.

Or as the Times put it one day earlier:

Goldman Sachs has had no involvement in the disaster apart from donating 100 boxes of children’s clothing and books, helping residents access technology and matching employees’ appeal donations.

As the Mail checks its sources, we get to a Times’ story on Cathy Cross, 54, who seems to be a product of nominative determinism, being described as a “self-proclaimed rabble rouser”. Beneath the headline “Grenfell council accuser is a [John] McDonnell activist”, we do get to hear her response:

Ms Cross denied using the tragedy for political ends. She said she asked legitimate questions and had a reply from the council leader about assistance from other boroughs.

In it’s top and tail story, the Mail makes no word of Cross’s reply, stating:

Despite living outside the borough, she heckled the new leader of Kensington & Chelsea council at the latest meeting. As Elizabeth Campbell was making an opening address, Miss Cross, 54, shouted: ‘You have blood on your hands.’

It does seem unfair not to afford people a right to reply.

No other papers carry any word on the activists.

Posted: 12th, December 2017 | In: Broadsheets, News, Tabloids | Comment


Violent death is not just about sex

More women are killed by men than are killed by women. Also, more men are killed by men than are killed by women. The Guardian interprets the facts and declares: “‘Shocking’ toll of women killed by men renews call for safe spaces.”

Are prisons safe spaces; don’t they make society a safer place? The paper relays research by Women’s Aid, telling readers:

Of the 113 women killed by men in England, Wales and Northern Ireland last year, 85 died in their homes, according to the Femicide Census, an annual analysis by the charity Women’s Aid.

How many men died in their homes, victims of violence is not stated. But we are told that nine in 10 women killed during 2016 died at the hands of someone they knew – 78 by a man they’d been intimate with; three by their sons; five by another man in the family; nine by a stranger. Domestic violence is horrendous. And getting a clear picture of it is no easy thing. Killing is the indelible and baldest proof it happened. But what about other crimes behind closed doors? Questions need to be asked about the police’s early response to claims of domestic violence. Are police able to intervene when actual violence has occurred, or are they expected to spend time and resources wondering if it might, policing the trials and tribulations of domestic life?

“More needs to be done to address men’s fatal violence against women, as once again the Femicide Census reveals fatalities not as isolated incidents but as part of a repeated pattern of male violence against women,” says Katie Ghose, chief executive of Women’s Aid.

“Without a safe space to escape to, more women will be killed by men that they know,” Ghose adds. “The government must act now. Refuges are a vital lifeline, not an optional extra; they are not just a bed for a night but essential for women and their children to safely escape domestic abuse and rebuild their lives away from the perpetrator.”

But this goes beyond domestic violence. We are being asked to look at men as innately violent, to see different inherent characteristics of men and women. Sex, they say, determines your character and personality. Men present a risk to women.

According to the NHS:

Home Office figures reveal that on average, 100 women a year and around 30 men a year are killed within a domestic abuse context. Women are almost exclusively killed by men whereas in contrast approximately one third of the men are killed by other men and a little under a third are killed by women against whom they have a documented history of abuse.

Karen Ingala Smith, chief executive of the charity, nia, which campaigns to end violence against women and children,  is quoted in the paper. “Men’s fatal violence against women extends beyond their partners and families,” she says. And you could say, ‘Men’s violence against men extends beyond their partners and families.’

The problem is that if it’s all about sex – women seen as weak and men as suspects, each one of them a criminal-in-waiting – we are reduced. Refuges for victims of domestic crime can be vital, but let’s not treat all human relationships with suspicion.

Posted: 11th, December 2017 | In: Broadsheets, News | Comment