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

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) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


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 | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


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 | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


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 | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Brexit: breakthrough deal please the status quo

“REJOICE!” screams the Daily Mail from it front page. “WE’RE ON OUR WAY?” Where to?  Out of the European Union, dummkopf. “It’s a “HUGE BREXIT BOOTS,” declares the Daily Express from its front page. “Now let’s get on with ditching the EU.”

Agreements have been reached. But we don’t know what the UK’s relationship will be with the EU.

 

eu brexit newspapers

 

The Mail gives over an entire page to nodding heads. “Theresa May won,” says Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, wafting perfume into the stultifying air. “The doomsters and pessimists have been confounded,” says Norman Lamont, former chancellor. The deal is “the personal success of Theresa May”, says Donald Tusk, the European Council president.  May “negotiated in  “very gentlemanly manner”, says Jean-Claude Junker, European Commission president, muddying the eye of those who say a woman cannot behave as well as a bloke in demanding company. At the bottom or 13 opinions, we get to Jeremy Corbyn, who says it’s “Tory chaos and posturing”.

Having hailed the historic handshake” (Page 1), “triumph” (pages 4-5), a “breakthrough deal” (pages 6-7), the early arrive of Christmas for City bosses (pages 8-9), a confounding of the “Jeremiahs” (page 9), “record booms for British exports” (page 8) and May making it “back from the dead ” (page 25), the Mirror gives front-page space to someone calling May  “lily-livered”. “Softly Softly,” says the Mirror on pages 4 and 5. Is that praise or criticism? “Softly, softly, catchee monkey” is taken to mean “Don’t flurry; patience gains the day.”

On page 4, the Mirror says any deal could be “ripped up” should trade talks fail. And, er, that’s it. The leading Left-wing tabloid can muster just three pages for the Brexit deal, the Mail calls “historic”.

Over in the Sun, which sees the Brexit news as less important than an actress being “pelted with glasses in a pub” and Toff’s jungle bikini, Trevor Kavanagh says May was “summoned in her pyjamas by three unelected bureaucrats”. But “we will not be surrendering last year’s referendum vote by carrying on as EU member in all but name”. Brexiteers, says Kavanagh, are “keeping their powder dry”.

Have we “taken back control”, then? No. The Brexit vote was radical. But when the same old faces are organising it, what did you expect, revolution? Here’s Gove in the Telegraph:

“If the British people dislike the arrangement that we have negotiated with the EU, the agreement will allow a future government to diverge.”

Keep on voting! Eventually you’ll reach the right decision.

Anyhow, here are three key things from the agreement, as told by the BBC:

No “hard border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic

The rights of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU to live, work and study will be protected. The agreement includes reunification rights for relatives who do not live in the UK to join them in their host country in the future

The so-called “divorce bill” will amount to between £35bn and £39bn, Downing Street sources say. This includes budget contributions during a two-year “transition” period after the UK leaves the EU in March 2019

You can read the full text of the UK-EU agreement here.

Posted: 9th, December 2017 | In: Broadsheets, News, Politicians, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Seeing students as a welfare issue demeans education

Do we agree that university fees are too high for students? And do we agree that the real debate should not be about any rights for everyone to go to university and if leaving with a student debt is right or bad, but what the point of a university education is? Why do you need to study for a degree? Is the degree an investment in a career and sound future, because that’s what successive governments have sold you?

Current fees are £9,250 a year. Jeremy Corbyn says a vote for him means a vote to end the fees. Little wonder the young like  that policy. One 18-year-old Labour candidate at the last General Election, Eli Aldridge, stated: “I could not be more proud to represent a party that is promising 400,000 undergraduates starting their courses this September that they could do so safe in the knowledge that their education will not saddle them with decades of debt.”

Good for them. But education is politicised. Sod the learning; get a load of that welfare package. You see how bad it is for today’s young?

In today’s Guardian Kehinde Andrews writes:

On the same day that news broke that staff at the University of Birmingham are protesting the obscene pay of their vice-chancellor, I opened an email asking for donations to a food bank that my university, Birmingham City, has started for students. This Dickensian contrast in fortunes demonstrates the widening problems of inequality in universities since fees have been introduced.

Sad news that students need a food bank. But what does that have to do with pay for a non-student’s job?

The very fact that staff have had to reach out for food charity demonstrates the failure of higher education “reforms” to provide for those that need it most.

Education and welfare? They’re not the same thing.

It is chilling to think what future generations of students will have to overcome in order to participate in higher education.

But that’s not right. The student isn’t looking for food banks because they can’t pay their student fees, because those fees are only payable after graduation when your income is more than £21,000 a year. Repayments are set at 9% of everything earned above £21,000, operating more like a tax than a loan. Loans not repaid within 30 years are written off.

Being in debt is not great. And it should make students question their value of their courses offered by the government, which operates a cartel over them. Are students simply investing in the State and the education industry? Maybe students can answer – or maybe they can’t because critical thinking skills, the kind of stuff universities should teach, are being replaced with a need to keep everyone controlled and cosy.

Education, a tool for promoting economic mobility and equality, looks capable of doing just the opposite.

Posted: 8th, December 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Money, News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Walking in polluted cities London is good for you

When seeing a shocking headline, it’s useful to turn it around. The Telegraph brings news that “Pollution wipes out the benefits of walking”. Turn it about and its reads: “Walking wipes out the harm caused by pollution.” Given that it’s cheaper to walk than it is to stop polluting, the solution to better health is simple, right?

The news is rooted in a study by the Imperial College London and funded by the British Heart Foundation, which looked at a sample of the over 60s, inviting 119 people to take a single two-hour stroll through London’s Hyde Park and neighbouring Oxford Street. The park stroll was good for the lungs, opening them up and improving arterial flexibility by up to 24%. But walk down the bus car park that’s Oxford Street and the walkers saw less improvement in lung capacity and up to 4.6 per cent rise in artery flexibility.

The Telegraph is putting a spin on the news. But in the Huffington Post it gets more confusing. It says:

Volunteers who took a walk in Hyde Park experienced a decrease in the stiffness of their arteries, a benefit normally seen after exercise. In contrast, volunteers who walked on Oxford Street had a “worrying increase” in artery stiffness following exercise.

You can read the study in full here. And it suggests that the media is picking data. The walkers’ health and what medication they were on might be vital. It might even be that some drugs prove an effective barrier to the detrimental effects of pollution.

The study’s authors write:.

In healthy participants, walking in Hyde Park led to a reduction in arterial stiffness that persisted up to 26 h, a benefit that was not only lost but even reversed after walking on Oxford Street. Participants with COPD or ischaemic heart disease also exhibited a reduced pulse wave velocity after walking in Hyde Park but increased pulse wave velocity after walking on Oxford Street. All three groups showed reductions in augmentation index following Hyde Park; and this beneficial change was significantly attenuated (even reversed at a few timepoints) after the Oxford Street walk.

Imperial says CODP is “a chronic lung condition linked with smoking”. It continues:

There are some limitations to this study. Because we did not include a resting control group, it would not be possible to be certain that walking contributed to the changes in lung function or arterial stiffness.

And:

Our short-term study is unlikely to inform on the long-term benefits of exercise in relation to pollution. Moderate physical activity might protect against the adverse effects of air pollution on arterial stiffness

And then:

We have noted that adults free of chronic cardiopulmonary diseases lose the benefits of walking on pulmonary and cardiovascular function in a polluted environment. In participants with COPD and ischaemic heart disease exposed to traffic pollutants, the pulmonary benefit from walking seem to be lost too, but the improvement in arterial stiffness caused by walking is relatively well preserved in ischaemic heart disease participants, likely due to concomitant routine medication use.

So if you’ve got a sickly heart, walking in polluted environment might not do you as much good as walking in the park.

In 2016, Imperial College reported: “Walking and cycling in cities is good for health, despite worse air pollution.”

Dr Marko Tainio from the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge, who led the new study, said:

“Our model indicates that in London health benefits of active travel always outweigh the risk from pollution. Even in Delhi, one of the most polluted cities in the world – with pollution levels ten times those in London – people would need to cycle over five hours per week before the pollution risks outweigh the health benefits.

“We should remember, though, that a small minority of workers in the most polluted cities, such as bike messengers, may be exposed to levels of air pollution high enough to cancel out the health benefits of physical activity.”

And:

“These findings are important as for many people, such as the elderly or those with chronic disease, very often the only exercise they can do is to walk,” said senior author Fan Chung, Professor of Respiratory Medicine and Head of Experimental Studies Medicine at National Heart & Lung Institute at Imperial College London. “Our research suggests that we might advise older adults to walk in green spaces, away from built-up areas and pollution from traffic,” he added.

It’s interesting. But to look at the study and thunder “Air pollution wipes out benefits of exercise” as the Telegraph and Indy do it misleading.

Posted: 7th, December 2017 | In: Broadsheets, News, Technology | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Meghan Markle: show us your dirty laundry

Meghan Markle has a “rift “with her father. Well, she had, apparently, because in a video from when she was 19 in the summer of 1999 that’s now the Sun’s front-page news (“MEGHAN: MY RIFT WITH DAD”), the actress tells her pal “my dad and I aren’t on the best of terms”. We’d like to keep up with the Markles, but we’d have to check a new source because the video shooter was Ninaki Priddy, a woman no longer mates with Meghan, 36.

Alongside a photo of Meghan in a short dress, we read that Thomas Markle “now lives a nomadic life driving between rented homes on LA and Mexico in an old Volvo” – a car the Mirror tells us is an “old batted blue Chrysler PT Cruiser”.

The Sun says Thomas’s home is a “cliff shack”. He “proudly tells the locals Meghan’s is his daughter”. Odd because the Mail was looking for the “elusive” Thomas and telling readers that “placed in his position, many fathers would be singing their joy from the rooftops”. The Sun says Thomas’ roof might not take the weight, given that it’s atop a “tiny red-tiled home…on a 120ft cliff overlooking the Pacific.”

Having given a front page and two inside pages to Ninaki Priddy’s scrapbook, the Sun today finds space for Jane Moore to accuse Priddy of “betrayal”. So the tabloids don’t do chequebook journalism any more, expose celebs and feature kiss ‘n’ tells about the beautiful people? Or is it different for Royals? Why shouldn’t a woman sell her story for loadsa money when her ex-pal – and do we know why they fell out?; Priddy says “What came to light after Trevor [Engelson – Meghan’s ex] and I spoke ended my friendship with Meghan”? – is due to remarry, this time to a billionaire’s scion?

We never did get the full story of Princess Diana and Charles when they were engaged. The media kept the knobs on a pedestal by delivering a narrative soaked in magic and star-written love. Let’s not have it again.

Much guff has been written about Meghan and Harry. “Don’t underestimate the symbolism of a royal marriage. From now on, it will be impossible to argue that being black is somehow incompatible with being British,” trumpets the Guardian. “Is it too mad to wonder, once the Brexit dust settles, whether the younger royals may – against all the odds – represent a Britain looking forward to the future rather than an imagined past?” the Indy muses. Once more the royals are showing us the way. But if we want to be modern – and wouldn’t that involve getting shot of them? – then surely we should know who they are and why we need to crane our necks to see them.

Posted: 6th, December 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Celebrities, Key Posts, News, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Damian Green: flagrant abuse is what we love best

The Daily Damian: a look at Damian Green in the newspapers. The story so far: the Deputy PM is accused of having porn on his PC and chatting up a younger woman, whose knee she says he touched. The Cabinet Office is investigating. Damian Green say he’s innocent. Now read on…

The Sun (page 6) says Education Secretary Justine Greening “all but called for him to be sacked”. Greening told BBC viewers to Andrew Marr’s Sunday morning show that  “most employers” would think it unacceptable to watch porn at work. On the other side (ITV) was Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, telling everyone that he trusts Damian Green and “I believe what he says”.

 

damian green

0800GREEN – HOW MUCH ABUSE CAN HE TAKE?

 

On Page 10, Trevor Kavanagh says the story is based on a “politically motivated vendetta” against Green by two “bitter” former police officers, Bob Quick and “co-conspirator” Neil Lewis. We learn that Quick “led the scandalous raid” on Green’s office in 2008 over alleged leaks from the Home Office. Quick “seized the computers. Lewis fund the porn.” And then comes the worrying bit: “thousands of perfectly legal images were copied – against orders – and squirrelled away by Lewis for future use.” Kavanagh alleges it’s part of moves to get back at Theresa May for threatening to “smash  their Mafia-style trade union”.

Over in the Mirror (page2 ), Justine Greening is telling Green to “fall on your sword”. Which isn’t a euphemism for masturbation, rather a euphemism for career suicide, or maybe actual suicide. On page 8, Kevin Maguire wonders if the Tories would back an “ordinary worker” – are MPs made extraordinary in anything but the glorious building they occupy? – “if police found thousands of indecent images on his or her desktop.” Dunno. Maybe police should all check their PCs and let us know what occurs?

And how is watching porn on your PC any different from watching porn in a magazine or newspaper, say, perhaps one that on Page 41 offers readers the chance to call premium-rate phone numbers and get some “X-RATED CHEAP CHAT” from “18-94 years olds” and “REAL HOUSEWIVES”? The Mirror does. And it offers no warning against doing so whilst at work, nor displaying the porny images that go with the adverts lest it offend workmates and paymasters.

The Mail (pages 6 and 7), says Lewis “could be prosecuted – as watchdog accuses him of ‘flagrant violation of the public’s trust in police.” New Met commissioner Cressida Dick says the force is thinking about investigating Lewis. Dick, you will recall, was in charge when armed police shot dead innocent Jean Charles de Menezes as he waited for a train on the London Underground. No police employee was disciplined for that.

Speaking on BBC Radio London today, Dick said: “All police officers know very well that they have a duty of confidentiality, a duty to protect personal information. That duty in my view clearly endures after you leave the service. And so it is my view that what they have done based on my understanding of what they’re saying… what they have done is wrong, and I condemn it.”

We also hear in the Mail from Eleanor Laing, who says deputy speaker of the Commons, who says in a letter dated November 14:

A member of my parliamentary staff has told me that, several years ago, before we had effective screening of our parliamentary computers, she used to find pornographic images on her computer every morning when she switched it on…

She was certainly not accessing pornographic sites deliberately or even accidentally. The material was just there on her computer every day. She simply deleted it. This happened before 2010.Thus, it would appear that material found in the parliamentary computer system can be proved to have been put there by some other means than by the deliberate actions of the person operating the computer.

Lax security in parliament. Who knew?

Over in the Guardian, a columnist thunders: “!If Damian Green harassed a woman or lied, he must go.” Yeah. If. But do consider it for as long as it takes to read 500-odd words about today’s burning issue.

In other news: I took up porn to help me stop smoking, says man looking for five-minute work break.

Posted: 4th, December 2017 | In: Broadsheets, News, Politicians, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Damian Green, Jacqui Smith and watching porn on The Job

Who do the police work for? Asking because Cabinet Office Minister Damian Green, effectively Prime Minister Theresa May’s deputy, allegedly had porn on his computer when police raided his office in 2008. Neil Lewis, a former Scotland Yard detective, tells media he found “thousands” of thumbnails of dirty photos in Green’s computer’s browser cache. There was, says Lewis, “no doubt whatsoever” that the porn was accessed by Green.

Green says if there was any porn found, it wasn’t his.

Which leads us to wonder: why would Lewis allegedly keep personal copies of potentially damaging information on an elected MP and cabinet minister? If the information was obtained during paid work hours, why has he got it out of the office? Or is this just about two men allegedly sharing the same taste in smut, storing thumbnails being the modern take on finding a jazz mag in a hedge?

Lewis told the BBC:

“The computer was in Mr Green’s office on his desk, logged in, you know, his account, his name. In between browsing pornography he was sending emails from his account, his personal account, reading documents, writing documents and it was just impossible it was exclusive and extensive that, you know, it was ridiculous to suggest that anybody else could have done it.”

A spokesman for Mr Green tells us, precisely:

“From the outset he has been very clear that he never watched or downloaded pornography on the computers seized from his office.”

The police add in a statement:

“Confidential information gathered during a police inquiry should not be made public. The appropriate course of action is to co-operate privately with the Cabinet Office inquiry as the Metropolitan Police Service has done.”

Jim Waterson, of Buzzfeed News, tweeted:

“The headline on this Damian Green story should be ‘The police don’t delete your data when ordered to do so and are liable to leak details of the legal porn they found in order to embarrass you’.”

And what about the quality of that porn? Thumbnail photos? Is looking at small aides to masturbation likely to make you go blind faster that the A4 shots?

Matthew Parris in the Times:

Be clear: all sides agree that none of the alleged material was illegal, and his accusers have withdrawn any claim it was “extreme”. Nobody is suggesting this was anything other than mainstream internet porn of the kind millions of men, probably most men, many journalists and many policemen, have accessed. There is a debate about pornography and the law but the fact remains: if Mr Green did what the police alleged (and he denies) he would have broken no law. Yet, now he is wounded, they close in on him.

The Register adds:

Lewis’s claims are also subtly different from other police leaks aimed at Green: a month ago Bob Quick, a disgraced former assistant commissioner of the Met, described Green as having “extreme” porn – which is illegal to own. Quick was sacked from the Met for letting press photographers see details of a secret briefing document as he walked into Downing Street, though he was also head of the police inquiry which decided to arrest Green.

And the backstory?

Green is under investigation by Parliamentary authorities for allegedly inappropriate behaviour with a young Conservative activist. He denies any wrongdoing.

The Guardian has more backgroundbin a story entitled “Damian Green and the decade-long feud with ex-Met officer Bob Quick”:

The decade-long feud between Damian Green and Bob Quick, now coming to a head with a Cabinet Office investigation into Green, can be traced back to a day in 2006 when a young civil servant working in Jacqui Smith’s Home Office was allegedly told by the now first secretary of state to get “as much dirt on the Labour party, the Labour government as possible”…

The Jacqui Smith who in 2011 was reported on the BBC thus:

Jacqui Smith has revealed she felt “frozen rather than angry” when told her husband had entered a parliamentary expenses claim for pornographic films. The former Labour home secretary told Radio Times she felt “protective” towards Richard Timney, despite the episode ending her political career.

Ms Smith said she had not gone “through the expense form closely enough”…

Despite outlawing violent pornography while she was home secretary, she said she was “shocked” at the amount of hardcore material still available on the internet. Asked if her husband had known about this, he might not have chosen pay-per-view films, she replied: “Yes, that’s what my 17-year-old son said: ‘Dad, haven’t you heard of the internet?'”

 

 

Back to the Guardian:

Over the course of the next two years Galley got a job in the home secretary’s private office and passed at least 31 separate documents, some classified restricted, from the heart of Smith’s department including from her private office’s inbox and private outer office safe.

Green made maximum use of the documents to secure damaging headlines in the Daily Mail, Sunday Telegraph and other papers…

In the Mail, any word on that?

Damian Green and Bob Quick crossed swords in 2008 when the Met assistant commissioner took dramatic action in an inquiry into leaks from the force. Mr Quick decided to arrest then then shadow immigration minister.
The Tory MP was held for nine hours while his Commons office, two homes and constituency office, were searched and computers removed by counter-terrorism officers.

The episode sparked a huge inquest at the Commons into whether parliamentary privilege should have protected the material held by an MP.

Adding:

In the ensuing political storm, it emerged Mr Quick’s wife was running a car hire firm from their home and details of their address were published on a website.

Or as the Guardian reports:

Three weeks later Quick, in a move he later regretted, publicly accused the Tories “and their press friends” of “acting in a wholly corrupt way” to try to undermine his investigation into Green.

What had provoked his anger was a Mail on Sunday article detailing a wedding chauffeur business run by his wife, Judith, from the family home.

As newspapers score points by omission and inclusion, Parris has the last word:

What Damian Green was alleged to have watched might be thought disgusting, but what two former Met officers have been up to is little short of sinister. Disgust can rule the headlines and may win the day, but former police officers are trying to destroy a senior minister with whom they have clashed. This is London, not Chicago. Parliamentarians, in retreat for a decade now, should unite to push back.

One day they’ll let robots run us…

Posted: 2nd, December 2017 | In: Broadsheets, News, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Bournemouth v Harry Redknapp in new flats row

Do we like Harry Redknapp the property developer more than Harry Redknapp the wheeler dealing football manager? The Guardian is upset by the man who once upon a time looked a shoo-in to be England manager. “Harry Redknapp ‘will make 30 people homeless’ with flats plan,” runs the headline. Those inverted commas should tell you something about plans to replace the unlisted Victorian Belgravia Hotel in Bournemouth with flats. The hotel, says the local Echo newspaper, is divided into 24 bedsits.

Plans by the football manager Harry Redknapp to demolish a former hotel and replace it with “posh” apartments would result in 30 people being made homeless, including several with disabilities, cancer sufferers, ex-offenders and other vulnerable individuals, according to opponents to the scheme.

What a basta…

Clifford Henley, one of the residents, claimed Redknapp… stood to make a fortune from the 21 flats and three mews houses, adding: “To be chucking 30 blokes on the streets with no consideration whatsoever – it’s brutal.”

Class war? “It’s walking over poor people,” says Henley. and then comes a right to reply. A spokesman for Redknapp’s company says the proposed homes range in price from £160,000 to £300,000.

In February 2017, Bournemouth councillors rejected Redknapp’s plans to replace the Belgravia with a four-storey block of 32 flats.  East Cliff Conservation Area board chairman and East Cliff ward councillor David Kelsey opined: “We can’t just pull a building down because we don’t like the people living in it, we all have a right to live somewhere. I am fed up of developers just pulling buildings down for the sake of pulling them down.”

If it’s about housing people, isn’t the plan an improvement, offering space for more people than the current situation? You might suppose not because the Guardian has also delivered such stories as: “The truth about property developers: how they are exploiting planning authorities and ruining our cities” and “Virtual realty: can a computer game turn you into an ‘evil’ property developer?”

The Guardian ends by telling readers: ‘…in an interview last month, another footballing legend, the former England and Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman, said that owning too many properties was “just greedy and expensive”.’

Any journalists own more than one home? Or is it just footballers whose morals get examined?

 

Posted: 2nd, December 2017 | In: Broadsheets, News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


The Daily Mail versus The Guardian: wrapping Nazis and eugenics in Paperchase guff

Have you boycotted Paperchase, sellers of printed stationery – yep, people really do still send letters (though not to Daily Mail readers who communicate by holding their noses and yelling into the wind)?  Hope not. Paperchase tried its best to shine a light into society’s darkest recess. It reached out to the Daily Mail’s  Untermensch readership, hoping that in offering them two free rolls of Christmas wrapping paper, they’d be put on the path to decency.

 

paperchase brexit

Paperchase – not fan of Brexit

 

But Stop Funding Hate thought Mail readers beyond salvation and bombarded Paperchase’s social media account with complaints. Paperchase didn’t rescind the offer, but did vow never again to reach down into the sewer. It was “truly sorry”. Some people are just not worth the effort. Wrapping paper is a not a right; it’s a moral choice. The tree gods gladly give up their own to wrap useful gifts like photos of Jeremy Corbyn, DVDs of The 100 Best Silences and the Pop-Up Book of Safe Spaces. But save for the odd Japanese knot weed and leylandii, no vegetation wants to be seen dead around the kind of stuff Mail readers buy at Christmas – jackboots, flaming torches and Jeremy Clarkson audio tapes.

Sarah Baxter tells Times readers Stop Funding Hate is interested in muzzling the Press. The group’s founder, Richard Wilson, ‘admitted on Newsnight that “the end point for us is a media that does the job we all want it to”.’ Which is? Baxter says it’s “suppressing the array of opinion reflected in the British press… Stop Funding Hate, however, has morphed into an arrogant group of hate-mongering activists who are outraged about an ever-expanding range of subjects”.

The idea is simple: starve the publication you don’t like of advertising money and watch it die. If this also deprives thick-as-custard people of reading the tabloids, all to the good. If those mouth-breathers can’t be banned from sharing views of the right-minded, their reading material must be censored. The caring Left knows best.

The Advertising Association is concerned, stating: “The UK has a free press and advertising plays a vital role in funding that. Pressure group lobbying of this kind has negative implications for our press freedom.” Advertising body Isba, warns: “We shouldn’t take for granted the freedom of the press.”

Over in the Guardian, which would surely be the only newspaper on the bottom shelf when the anti-haters have won the day, Peter Peston thunders:

Stop Funding Hate may legitimately urge Mail readers to quit (and Mail readers may, equally legitimately, examine the causes SFH espouses and make up their own minds). But trolling rather nervous companies such as Paperchase isn’t legitimate. It’s the thin end of a dangerous wedge – with no winners in sight, from left or right.

As last week’s Ipso complaints ruling on Trevor Kavanagh’s “The Muslim Problem” column for the Sun mordantly observes: “There is no clause in the editors’ code which prohibits publication of offensive content”. Nor should there be.

In the same paper, Stewart Lee writes beneath the headline: “My futile attempt to sell satire to the Daily Mail.” Well, the paper does employ the sublime Craig Brown, so maybe he’s enough? Guardian readers are told:

Usually, I am the sort of person who thinks that anyone who has ever worked for the Daily Mail is worse than Adolf Hitler, even the temps and the tea lady. And I’m not alone. So disgusted are youth voters by the repellent newspaper, it’s now clear that the Daily Mail’s increasingly hysterical attacks on Jeremy Corbyn, the coddled egg of British politics, may even have helped secure his triumphant loss in the last general election.

Worse than Hitler? Satire, right? Phew! And people not voting for Corbyn because the Mail told them, too? I thought it was about anti-Semitism. But, then, I’ve not been keeping up with the Guardian’s news on Jews and Jezza’ Labour Party, not since one of their columnists wrote in the Guardian: “I have developed a habit when confronted by letters to the editor in support of the Israeli government to look at the signature to see if the writer has a Jewish name. If so, I tend not to read it.”

I didn’t call for a boycott. And the sport pages are good. Boycotts are, after all, for censors and Nazis.

Lee also turns to the subject of Nazis, riffing on when the Mail hailed the blackshirts.

And a sepia-toned card of the first Viscount Rothermere, the paper’s 1930s proprietor, declares, in Daily Mail font, “I urge all British young men and women to study the Nazi regime in Germany. There is a clamorous campaign of denunciation against ‘Nazi atrocities’ which consist merely of a few isolated acts of violence, but which have been generalised, multiplied and exaggerated to give the impression that Nazi rule is a bloodthirsty tyranny. Congratulations on passing your driving test.”

Haha. Got one about the Guardian opposing the creation of the National Health Service as it feared the state provision of healthcare would “eliminate selective elimination”?

This is not to defend the Mail. It’s to highlight how censorship is formed by bigotry.

Owen Jones disagrees. He writes in the Guardian: “Paperchase rejecting the Daily Mail is another victory against hatred.” No, he’s not being ironic.

This paper, whose less than glorious history includes cheerleading for the Nazis and Oswald Mosley’s blackshirts, is one of the most vindictive bullies in Britain.

And the Guardian? The Spectator tells us that not all leading figures in the Left, including eugenicist George Bernard Shaw, minded tyranny. ( In March 1933 Shaw was a co-signatory to a letter in The Manchester Guardian protesting at the continuing misrepresentation of Soviet achievements: “No lie is too fantastic, no slander is too stale … for employment by the more reckless elements of the British press.”)

Malcolm Muggeridge, was initially supportive of the Soviet regime. But then he went to Moscow as a correspondent for the Manchester Guardian and learned about the Ukrainian famine. The Guardian censored his reports. The left was divided by the atrocities of the Soviet Union into honest, moral people and those who turned a blind eye.

Is this a row between newspapers: the Guardian in need of the Mail to showcase what it is not; the Mail and right-wing Press, doing much the same? The difference is, though, that only one side supports censorship.

Posted: 26th, November 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Key Posts, News, Tabloids, The Consumer | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Lily Madigan: Labour, women and a terf war

Lily Madigan was once Liam Madigan. Lily is now the women’s officer for the Labour Party branch in Rochester and Strood in Kent. She’s been in the news before. In October 2016, “Brave Lily” (Kent Online)  received an apology from St Simon Stock Catholic School, Maidstone, for sending her home for “wearing the wrong uniform” and “preventing her from using the girls’ toilets and changing rooms”.

Said Lily, who threatened to sue the school: “I decided to come in dressed in the girls’ dress code, which basically meant I was wearing a top instead of a shirt. It made me feel so happy, until I was sent home.”

Lily, 19, was born male but identifies as a woman. The Times explains how her new job works:

Labour Party rules state that “the women’s officer must be a woman”.

Why? Can only women understand and represent women? Do you need to have been a girl to know womanhood?

Ms Madigan said it was “misguided” to suggest she could not fulfil the duties of the role, simply because she was born male.

That part at least sounds right.

Teresa Murray, Medway councillor and vice-chairwoman of the executive committee of Rochester and Strood CLP, says “Lily will have to work very hard to convince other people that her very presence there is not going to undermine them”. Adding: “Someone who is an accountant would probably make a better treasurer initially, but that doesn’t mean we should only give the role to an accountant.”

Accountants are born for the job, of course. It’s not something you can learn. It’s something in you. It defines you. You’re just built that way. Accounting is in the genes. But that’s not to say others don’t think accountancy more representative of their true selves. If they want to dress in grey suits, part their hair to the side and carry a briefcase, then that is their right.

Ella Whelan has more background:

Madigan hit the headlines after arguing that Anne Ruzylo, a Labour Party women’s officer in a different constituency, should be sacked for being ‘transphobic’. Ruzylo, a lesbian, feminist and trade unionist, had criticised the sanctification of the trans movement. For this, she was labelled a ‘terf’ (trans exclusionary radical feminist) and was harassed by transgender activists online. Eventually, the executive committee of Ruzylo’s local Labour branch resigned in protest at her mistreatment.

“I feel quite violated,” Ms Ruzylo told The Times. “I’ve worked as a trade unionist for 30 years and I’ve never been shut down in this way. It’s disgusting… Debate is not hate. If we can’t talk about gender laws and get shut down on that, what’s next? What else are we not allowed to talk about? We’re going back to the days of McCarthyism. It is disgraceful.”

“I don’t care if I get called a transphobe, says Whelan adds, “Lily Madigan is not a woman. At 19, he is barely even a man.”

Ouch.

One thing is certain: if you cannot express yourself, we are all the worse off for it.

PS:  The Times, which is on the Madigan beat, reports

The transgender teenager at the centre of a Labour Party row has applied for the Jo Cox Women in Leadership programme, angering and dismaying party members…

The leadership programme was started last year in memory of the murdered MP Jo Cox, with the specific aim of encouraging more women into politics.

Critics say that it defies the whole point of the scheme, which attracted more than 1,000 applications for 57 places in its first year, to include people who are biologically male or who have lived part of their lives as men.

What price equality?

“Women in the party are fuming,” said one Momentum activist who accused the leadership of quietly redefining the meaning of “woman” without consulting the membership.

Good grief.

Posted: 25th, November 2017 | In: Broadsheets, News, Politicians | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


The pay gap for women and trans is about parenthood not gender

Trans issues are to the fore. The Government is looking at altering the Gender Recognition Act 2004 (GRA), which would permit trans people to change their legal gender without a medical process. Right now the rules are that a diagnosis of gender dysphoria is needed to begin the process. People seeking to change gender have to submit evidence that they have been in transition for at least two years.

It’s not about society, manhood and womanhood. It’s about the individual and individual wellbeing. The BBC’s Jenni Murray got into bother by saying that trans women were not “real women”. Feeling yourself to be women is not the same as being one, she opined. Countering that is Shon Fay, who writes beneath the Guardian headline: “Trans women need access to rape and domestic violence services. Here’s why –  All women face similar dangers, whether trans or not, and it’s distressing that some people seek to drive a wedge between our rights.”

Growing up being perceived by others as a feminine gay boy certainly wasn’t easy, but once I transitioned, in my 20s, things radically changed. The flashes of misogyny I witnessed when I was younger are now, as they are for most women, a daily reality. Some of this is banal – like the men on dating websites who call me a “stuck-up bitch” or a “desperate slag” when I turn them down. Some is more structural: when I get into my 30s, the gender pay gap will widen and I will find myself on the “wrong” side of it.

Maybe not.

Vox reported:

The data tells us that this can’t be the entire story. It can’t explain why the wage gap is so much bigger for those with kids than those without. One 2015 study found that childless, unmarried women earn 96 cents for every dollar a man earns.

Which man? Because dad get more:

One of the worst career moves a woman can make is to have children. Mothers are less likely to be hired for jobs, to be perceived as competent at work or to be paid as much as their male colleagues with the same qualifications.

For men, meanwhile, having a child is good for their careers. They are more likely to be hired than childless men, and tend to be paid more after they have children.

These differences persist even after controlling for factors like the hours people work, the types of jobs they choose and the salaries of their spouses. So the disparity is not because mothers actually become less productive employees and fathers work harder when they become parents — but because employers expect them to.

Economist Claudia Goldin suggests more:

Many companies still richly reward people who are available and work long, continuous hours, Goldin says. They give premium pay to certain key players – mostly men who don’t take time off for children or aging relatives. So women or men who need flexible schedules obtain them “at a high price, particularly in the corporate, finance and legal worlds,” Goldin writes in her paper. Technology and science fields are better off in pay equity, as are certain health care careers. … “It isn’t, quote, a women’s issue,” says Goldin in an interview with Quartz. The pay disparity shows up equally when male MBAs need reduced schedules or time off for personal or family needs.

And then we can talk about class…

Posted: 22nd, November 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Money | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


The Guardian makes cracking error in dyslexia story

Dyslexia news in the Guardian, where the paper infamous for its typos relays news that dyslexia may be caused by the light-receptor cells in “the human eye”. Scientists noticed a difference between the arrangement of cones between the eyes of dyslexic and non-dyslexic people. Might it be that vision is linked to dyslexia?

In non-dyslexic people, the blue cone-free spot in one eye – the dominant one, was round and in the other eye unevenly shaped. In dyslexic people, both eyes have the same, round spot.

“The lack of asymmetry might be the biological and anatomical basis of reading and spelling disabilities,” said the study’s authors.

Interesting stuff. But dyslexics and non dyslexics alike can then work out what the hell the Guardian means when in its rehashed press releases, the news becomes:

 

The Guardian error dyslexia

 

 

Transcribed:

About 700 million people worldwide are known to have from dyslexia – about one in 10 of the global population.

There’s no helping some people…

Posted: 15th, November 2017 | In: Broadsheets, News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Taxies levied on turnover will turn the lights off

Sky News economics editor Ed Conway has an idea about how the likes of Apple, Google and Facebook can be taxed when they operate a slippery system of moving services around the world and as a result pay about £3.45 in corporation tax on billions of pounds in profits. He writes in the Times:

The way we tax companies needs to be turned on its head. Abolish taxes based on a company’s profits and replace them with taxes levied on their turnover.

In which case, good luck getting gas and oil out of the ground – and investing in making things more efficient:

 

 

Might be better if governments invested in their own nascent unicorns and beat the all-conquering US tech giants fair and square.

Spotter: Forbes

Posted: 13th, November 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Money | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Brexit Balls: Irish cheese panic

More fine anti-Brexit work in the The Guardian, where news is that people who eat non-organic butter and hum-drum Irish cheddar are going to be worst off once the country quits the EU:

Leaving the customs union in a hard Brexit scenario could lead to the price of meat doubling and the price of dairy, half of which is imported, rising by up to 50%.

How so?

A block of cheddar imported from Ireland that costs £1 now will cost £1.41 under World Trade Organisation rules, with Ireland being a major producer of cheddar. This would prompt a vicious economical cycle and a period of “runaway” food price hikes, he warned.

The quoted “he” is Gabriel D’Arcy, chief executive of dairy producers LacPatrick in Strabane in Northern Ireland. In May Mr D’Arcy said LacPatrick “had seen a 25pc surge in its sales into the British market in the wake of Brexit, due to its presence in Northern Ireland”. Not all doom and gloom, then.

And as for the Guardian’s words on WTO, well, the quoted price hike represents the maximum import tariffs, so-called ‘ceiling rates’ on ‘bound rates’ . You can charge less through ‘applied rates’. The Government could go further and charge no tariffs (aka tax), and make the populace’ richer’ by allowing them to keep more cash in their pockets by way of cheaper cheese.

No need to panic, then, and dash out to buy lots of Irish cheese. Guardian readers, of course, can stick with their runny brie.

Posted: 13th, November 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Money, News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Sayfullo Saipov: confessions of a lone wolf

saipov New York uber terrorSayfullo Saipov, 29, the Uzbek immigrant accused of murdering at least eight people in New York, is recovering from surgery after being shot in the abdomen by a New York City police officer.

What do we know of him? Well, not much. Saipov arrived in the US back in 2010. He worked as an Uber driver.

But the Telegraph knows lots:

Eight people died and 11 injured in the worst terror attack on New York since September 11, 2001 as a lone wolf extremist screaming “Allahu Akbar” used a pick-up truck to mow down cyclists along a bike path on Halloween.

He did this alone? Sayfullo Saipov has no connection with any organised group, says the paper. He’s got the jihadi slogans, jihadi mode of attack and the jihadi beard, a panoply of symbols beneath which his violent urges achieve a narrative.

His is the face of a leaderless rejection of Western society, a fearful, murderous malcontent. Can we find some comfort in international terrorism manifest in an ordinary, unexceptional man with a limited access to weapons, albeit one who is capable of committing a brutal act of mass murder?

If we call the suspect a “lone wolf”, don’t we ignore the causes that led to him wilfully killing people, negating debate and investigation by adapting the crime to fit out own prejudices and anxieties?

The terrorists can’t dictate our reaction to their actions. The attack on innocent people going about their day under a clear New York sky can be meaningless, signifying something much less than a looming war.

 

Posted: 1st, November 2017 | In: Broadsheets, News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Graphene rods to harness lightning

Life mirrors Back to The Future in the Times, where Sandy Chen has a dream. First you build a massive graphene lightning rod that reaches miles into the skies. Then you harness nature’s explosion.

Nothing all that new in the idea. And why it’s in the paper is unclear. The story reads a little like an advert for Chen’s company – and likening him to Elon Musk, the PayPal billionaire who has a dream for electric transport, is ambitious. But that’s not to say lightning power is uninteresting:

Of course, harnessing the power of an H-bomb is easier said than done, and scientists have been scratching their heads for decades over the conundrum of capturing and storing the five billion joules of energy that a bolt can transmit to Earth in a matter of microseconds. Chen admits that “it is really farfetched, but if we can develop it, that would just be pretty cool”.

It’s hot:

In the UK we experience relatively few thunderstorms each year: in England thunder occurs on average 11 days per year, with even fewer in Scotland and Wales. Even during a thunderstorm it’s incredibly difficult to predict when and where lightning will strike.

Assuming that you are lucky and get a lightning bolt to hit your conductor, there would be major difficulties in storing the energy and then converting it to alternating current so it can run your appliances. In addition, any solution to these problems would need to be able to withstand the enormous surges in energy generated by each strike.

Finally, much of the lightning bolt’s energy goes into heating the surrounding air to temperatures greater than the surface of the Sun. So even if you managed to overcome the problems of collecting, storing and converting the energy from the lightning to make it useful, you would still only be harnessing a small proportion of the lightning bolt’s power.

Good idea.

 

Posted: 1st, November 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Technology | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Bananarama are not a patch on the ‘original girl bands’

The Telegraph has news for fans of the world’s “original girl band”. You know…Bananarama.

 

bananarama girl band

 

Pretty good, if not exactly the Hamilton Sisters and Fordyce, aka The 3 X Sisters, seen below in the 1935 vintage:

 

the three x sisters group

 

And what of the Chordettes, the Fontane Sisters, the McGuire Sisters, the DeCastro Sisters and The Supremes? And…

 

Well, yeah…

 

 

But my pick… Take it away, The Ronettes!

 

And…

Posted: 22nd, October 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Celebrities, Music | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


The charity game: when sex with clients is ok

The charity business continues of amaze. The Sunday Times looks at the Leeds-based Yorkshire Mesmac charity, which, says the headline, “allows sex with clients”. And who are these clients at its centres in Leeds, York, North Yorkshire, Bradford, Wakefield, Rotherham and Hull?

A charity for child abuse victims, sex workers and gay men given more than £2m by the government, councils and police has told its staff they are allowed to have “sexual relationships” with the often vulnerable people they meet through their work.

Ah.

The organisation, based in Leeds, is being investigated by the city’s child safeguarding board after The Sunday Times obtained a copy of its “workers’ conduct policy” which states: “Sexual relationships are acceptable with service users initially met during work time”. Most health and social work organisations ban professionals from establishing relationships with patients and clients.

To which the Guardian adds, so as not to create confusion:

The rules do not relate to the charity’s work with children. 

Mesmac’s chief executive, Tom Doyle, gets the right to reply:

“We understand that, viewed out of context of Yorkshire Mesmac’s suite of policies including safeguarding of children and of adults at risk, there is a possibility that this code of conduct could be misunderstood.”

The policy was now being redrafted.

Spotter: Times

Posted: 22nd, October 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Money, Politicians | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Lysette Anthony and Harvey Weinstein in Trial By Media

Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood mogul accused of multiple crimes against women, is all over the tabloids.

The Sun leads with the “3 Brit Victims”. Alleged victims, of course, a fact given credence with those inverted commas. Weinstein is deserving of a fair hearing. Innocence must always be presumed.

The pick of the alleged victims seems to be Lysette Anthony, a former model and actress, subject of the Sunday Times’ scoop: “Lysette Anthony: I answered the door. Harvey Weinstein pushed me inside and raped me in my own hallway.” That’s a headline and a half. And because it is a headline, it counts as opinion not fact.

 

harvey weinstein

 

Lysette Anthony’s allegations reach use via Charlotte Metcalf, a “close friend” of the actress. The pair went to a police station, where Anthony made her allegation. It’s serious stuff. Her words are weighty, and she should be afforded respect. The sincere hope is that the matter goes to court. Our opinions matter not.

Metcalf writes:

She was nervous but the officers were sensitive and reassuring. Afterwards I sat down with her and she told me the full story which she has agreed I should now make public.

Are we entertained yet? Stay tuned…

We hear that Lysette and Weinstein first met in New York. “Over the net few years she would have lunch with Harvey from time to time when he was in London. At that point she experienced nothing untoward: ‘The lunches were invariably in hotel suites but I felt comfortable in Harvey’s company. We had become friends.'”

And then she claims he attacked her:

“He pushed me inside and rammed me up against the coat rack in my tiny hall and started fumbling at my gown. He was trying to kiss me and shove inside me. It was disgusting.

She tried pushing him off but he was too heavy. “Finally I just gave up. At least I was able to stop him kissing me. As he ground himself against me and shoved inside me, I kept my eyes shut tight, held my breath, just let him get on with it. He came over my leg like a dog and then left. It was pathetic, revolting. I remember lying in the bath later and crying.”

Anthony says she never told the police not her agent. She claims that around a year later, she met Weinstein again. She took her out for dinner. He was “perfectly charming”. He bought her a coat on the way home. “I thought it was his unspoken way of apologising for what had happened,” says Lysette. “I assumed that was that and we went our separate ways.”

And then…?

“From this point on, if I ignored ­Weinstein’s calls the assistants started ringing and if I ignored them his ­assistants called my agent to set up a meeting. What you have to understand is that no one turned down an opportunity to meet Harvey Weinstein. No one. I’d never told my agent about the rape, so it was impossible to explain why I didn’t want to see him.

“The meetings would start with a chat in a hotel suite. The assistants would disappear and then he’d disappear and return in a robe demanding a massage. By then I’d just given up. I knew I was powerless and at least I wouldn’t have to do much. I was just a body, young flesh. It wouldn’t take long and no one knew.”

And there it is, out there in the court of public opinion, the story of the actress and her alleged rapist.

 

harvey weinstein

 

Weinstein the “sex beast”:

harvey weinstein

This has to reach court. Weinstein must have the right to defend himself. And society has the right to judge the matter. Anything less than law-based justice reduces alleged horrific crimes into a nasty form of entertainment…

Posted: 16th, October 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Celebrities, News, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Monarch: paper profits and discounts as capital for the super rich

Monarch Airlines is bust. And in the Sunday Times we get an insight into the bizarro world of the mega-mega-rich. Monarch is owned by private equity outfit Greybull.

Amid a battle for orders between Boeing and Airbus, Monarch secured a cut-price deal for 30 new planes — which later rose to 45. The market value of the aircraft was greater than Monarch’s agreed price, so creating a paper profit.

And then it got even better.

Greybull was able to persuade Boeing to release more than £100m of this trapped equity as cash, pumping it into the airline through Petrol Jersey.

Can it be that the seller gave discount as capital?

And why now did the firm bust? The Times notes:

Questions have been raised about timing. Monarch went down with £48m of cash in the bank, over which Greybull has a strong claim as primary secured creditor. Swaffield’s statement revealed that the cash pile was shrinking rapidly and would have been £20m by the end of the month. Greybull’s Marc Meyohas said the timing of the collapse “was influenced by Atol, not by us running out of cash”.

Fair enough?

“The families, Greybull, Petrol Jersey, however you want to put it, will have lost money on this deal,” said Marc Meyohas. “We are absolutely disappointed by the outcome. We do feel we have been responsible owners, but we have failed nonetheless.”

As for placing questions marks over the owners, well, is it fair to portray them as grinners, as the FT does?

 

 

Expect a lot to follow – little of which will help the poor sods now out of jobs and fretting about pensions.

Spotter: Times

Posted: 8th, October 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Money | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


3 dead in Marseilles: ‘Allahu Akbar’ ad infinitum

Three people are dead at Marseilles’ Saint-Charles train station in France. Police shot one dead after he’d murdered the other two. The Guardian says the murderer was a “man”, an “assailant” armed with a knife, a “knifeman”. And that’s all.

“Two victims have been stabbed to death,” says regional police chief, Olivier de Mazieres on AFP.

But a clue to what the “man” might have been and why he did it comes via an unnamed French official, who tells France’s Le Monde newspaper that the killer yelled “Allahu Akbar” as he stabbed two women to death.

How relevant is that chant? It’s very relevant, reasons the Daily Mail, which unlike the BBC and Guardian makes the familiar war cry of militant Islam central to the story. “Two passengers are killed as attacker shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ slits a woman’s throat with a butcher’s knife and stabs another at Marseille station before soldiers shoot him dead,” announces the headline.

The Mail mentions “Islamist radicals” in its story. The Guardian makes no mention of Islam whatsoever in its. Why is there such a clear difference in reporting? Why does one publication make Islam a key part of the narrative, whilst another ignores it entirely? I’d hazard a guess that it’s something to do with the uncertain, fearful censorious times we live in. Ever watchful of triggering the slack-jawed mob, the simplest fact is redacted from reports lest it foment a race riot. With free speech and free expression stymied, what should be objective – simply stating the facts – becomes confrontational and daring. Most worryingly, it leaves the facts to actual bigots who adopt the role of rebels and present themselves as brave and knowing sources of ‘truth’.

As for the police, well, the soldiers who shot the killer dead are part of Operation Sentinelle, the military operation launched after Islamists massacred so many at Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Jewish supermarket in Paris in January 2015.

Good the soldiers were there, then.

Aside from a conversation on armed police on the streets this attack invites, is there also a conversation to be had about Islamist violence? Since 2015, more than 230 people in France have been killed in Islamist attacks. Discuss.

Posted: 1st, October 2017 | In: Broadsheets, News, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Arsenal riot, stroll and stumble at BATE Borisov

Arsenal ran out pretty easy winners in their Europa League match against BATE Borisov, winning 4-2, having been 3-0 up after 25 minutes. Arsenal are the first team to beat Bate on their own patch in European competition since Barcelona defeated them in 2015 – a run of seven games.

What do the newspapers have to say about the match?

EASY!

The Daily Mail calls it an “Arsenal stroll”. The Sun agrees that it was a “stroll”. The Gunners, boasting a squad of nine players aged 20 or younger, “ran riot”. The Express saw Arsenal “picking apart the BATE defence at will”. The Daily Star says it was “stunning stuff from Arsenal”.

HARD!

The Daily Mirror says it “wasn’t an easy ride” for the Gunners in Belarus.

And the Times:

Times Arsenal

 

One man’s stroll is another reporter’s stumble.

Such are the facts.

 

 

 

Posted: 29th, September 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Broadsheets, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0