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Forget Muslims – we want Boris Johnson to attack Jews

When Boris Johnson criticised Denmark’s absurd decision to ban the wearing of the burka in a to-deadline article for the Telegraph, he went on to liken women wearing the niqab to “letter boxes” and “bank robbers”. This, said many, was Johnson “fanning the flames of Islamophobia”. We’re with Johnson on his view that it’s wrong to tell “a free-born adult woman what she may or may not wear in a public place when she is simply minding her own business”. Denmark’s move to ban an item of clothing follows burqa bans in France, Austria and Belgium. The problem is that he’d ask a constituent visiting him at his MP surgery to to remove her veil – “If a female student turned up at school or at a university lecturer looking like a bank robber then ditto: those in authority should be allowed to converse openly with those that they are being asked to instruct.”

Reactions are many:

“They are absolutely demonising, misogynistic, hurtful comments and they are fanning the flames of Islamophobia. As a result, the thugs who are already snatching the headscarves of Muslim women will feel empowered that someone who is part of the establishment, who has been our foreign secretary, is giving them licence.” – Imam Qari Asim, an imam who sits on the government’s Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group, in The Times.

“We’re still waiting for that to happen, which is not lost on a community that still feels vulnerable … My own congregation are increasingly reporting Islamophobic abuse, from having their headscarves removed to facing racist chants.” – Finsbury Park imam Mohammed Mahmoud.

Naz Shah – yep, her – wants the Conservative chair, Brandon Lewis, to send Johnson for mandatory equalities training. Shah, who once called for all Jews for be deported from Israel (she later went on a “journey” and apologised) is Labour’s shadow equalities minister. She calls Johnson’s comments “ugly and naked Islamophobia”.

 

boris johnson islam

An extract from Naz Shah’s letter

 

And:

“Muslim women are having their burkas pulled off by thugs in our streets and Boris Johnson’s response is to mock them for ‘looking like letter boxes’. Our pound-shop Donald Trump is fanning the flames of Islamophobia to propel his grubby electoral ambitions.” – David Lammy MP.

Nothing to do with Jews, then. Right? No. Because on Twitter, Channel 4 News anchor Krishnan Guru-Murthy is introducing Jews:

 

Jews burqa

Channel 4 News anchor Krishnan Guru-Murthy wonders about Jews

 

Why bring the Jews into it? Is the argument that Jews get more protection? Are Jews too powerful? Is it supposed Jewish privilege he’s wafting into the debate? What’s Guru-Murty’s point? The language around anti-Semitism has become nuanced, vague, deceptive and downright dishonest. Would a criticism of a Jew’s kippah or a woman’s sheitel (a wig be worn by very religious married Jewish women) be anti-Semitic? Is it racist to call orthodox Jews living in North London ‘Stamford Hill Cowboys’? We live in a time when many anti-Semites don’t like to make their hatred too explicit. You’re left looking for the verbal wink. And you get to the point where comparing a woman in a burqa to a letter box is presented as anti-Muslim – an assault on all Muslims and the religion of Islam – and not a lazy joke about an item of clothing worn by a relatively few Muslims.

 

It always comes back to the Jews

 

Over on the BBC, it’s all about Jews. On Newsnight – ” In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day’s headlines with Evan Davis -we get this:

 

 

A crass comment about women in burqas and you “have to ask” a question about Jews? To the knowing, sensitive and caring everything is about those pesky Jews, a group now portrayed as underserving of that ultimate 21st accolade: victimhood.

Posted: 7th, August 2018 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment


Jeremy Corbyn copies and pastes his commitment not to exterminate British Jews

“I will root antisemites out of Labour – they do not speak for me,” says Jeremy Corbyn, whose “friendship” with those who would see all Jews dead is finally riding high on the news cycle. Having spent an age denying accusations of anti-semitism in Labour (and rewarding those who agreed with him), Corbyn says Jew hatred is rife in Labour but it’s got sod all to do with him, its leader.

Jez does not “for one moment accept that a Labour government would represent any kind of threat, let alone an ‘existential threat’, to Jewish life in Britain, as three Jewish newspapers recently claimed.” There is no threat to Jews from Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour. Zis ist vy he now tells readers of der Guardian zat Juden vill not be forcibly deported and / or shot:

That is why I want to make it absolutely clear that any government I lead will take whatever measures are necessary to guarantee the security of Jewish communities, Jewish schools, Jewish places of worship, Jewish social care, Jewish culture and Jewish life as a whole in this country.

As Jews sleep easy in the knowledge that a British Government led by Corbyn (as seen on Press TV!) will not seek to exterminate them, let no-one deny that the Labour leader is deeply commited to protecting Jews, including many of the wrong kind of Jews (see ‘Zios’, ‘baby killers’, blood-munchers, confident Jews, Tories, ‘Jew-Nazis’, Trump-ists, Jew bankers enslaving the other races, the uniquely barbaric Jews who never learn, Jews in the mainstream media and possibly the bloke with the drum at the front of Spurs’ Yid Army, although he might be Greek). Jeremy is not just trotting out any old guff. He means it. Just as he meant it when he said it on April 24 in the Evening Standard.

 

jeremy corbyn copy and past jews

In today’s Guardian

 

jeremy corbyn copy and past jews

In April’s Standard

 

“I am not antisemitic” says Jeremy Corbyn over and over and over. And if you don’t believe him, you can read his words and ask his friends

Posted: 4th, August 2018 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment


Billy Joel: Trump and the rise of magical Nazis

Finally someone has had the guts to stand up and say it: “Nazis aren’t good people.” Well done, Billy Joel:

 

 

Billy Joel, the singer, thought it a good idea to wear a yellow Star of David stuck to his jacket during a concert to remind President Trump that “Nazis aren’t good people”. The stars are not yet official tour merchandise but give it time.

In the meanwhile, should all people who don’t like Trump wear the yellow stars Jews were forced to wear on pain of enslavement and death under the laws of the Third Reich? Or might it be that if you keep evoking Nazis, turning the horror of the Holocaust into a live event, you demean what went before, you reduce the horror and turn genocide into a routine happening?

The Hill notes:

Joel told CBS News that the president’s comments after a woman was killed last August when a suspected white supremacist struck a crowd of counterprotesters with a car “enraged” him.

“The president said, you know, ‘There’s some good people on that side …’ No, Nazis aren’t good people,” Joel told CBS in an interview that aired Sunday.

Said Joel:
“It really enraged me, actually. My old man, his family got wiped out. They were slaughtered in Auschwitz. Him and his parents were able to get out. But then he was in the U.S. Army during the war and fought with Patton and was shot at by Nazis. My family suffered. And I think I actually have a right to do that.”

You don’t need murdered relatives to advertise your opinion that Nazis were bad dudes. Plenty of Germans whose family were Nazis – real ones – agree with you. But you do need to wonder how calling a prat like Trump a Nazi serves the victims of the greatest crime? Is Trump gassing people to death in industrial ovens? Are racial laws banning untermensch from marrying Gentiles and owning property on account of their race? Are we so needy and lacking in direction and moral purpose that we eye the Holocaust with envy, and invest huge power in every act of racism by some dickhead so that the knowing are elevated to the rank of saviours? It looks like it.

This crass, historically illiterate narcissism destroys the past. It undermines the truth. It buys into the nastiness that wonders why the Jews and the gypsies and the gays didn’t just fight harder. It makes the dead weak and complicit and the living their betters. It turns the Nazis into something eternal and magic, an anti-human that can be summoned at any moment and never beaten. What a low opinion of humanity that is.

 

Posted: 25th, July 2018 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment


Liverpool goalkeeper Karius is the eternal victim

You can’t even laugh at a footballer’s failure these days. No sooner had Liverpool’s 25-year-old German goalkeeper Loris Karius made a delicious hash of his side’s Champions League final match against Real Madrid than the medics pronounced him concussed. Karius wasn’t rubbish when it mattered most. He was a victim. And that’s worse.

When Karius was a calamity ‘keeper, we could relate to him. He was human. Time would heal the fans’ disappointment and his sense of regret. One day he’d pretend not to save something and become that most rare of things: a German the country loves. He’d explain how it all went wrong and produce a string of great saves to show that having reached the nadir the only way was back up. We will see that the Champions League final was a freak event that adds texture to a career it does not define. If Gareth Southgate can recover from missing a crucial penalty at Euro 96, Karius can rise again. You don’t get to be Liverpool’s first choice without displaying some degree of talent and skill. The clangers would be out of kilter in the video montage of a terrific life between the sticks, the two big non-saves adding a layer of interest to any autobiography. But when doctors in Boston assessed him a few days after defeat to Real, Karius’ became a man beyond redemption. Something had gone wrong that nothing could ever fix. You can’t laugh at concussion and self-deprecate. You can’t move on because what happened is defined as something beyond your control.

Lured into victimhood, Karius tis tipped to leave the club. Liverpool have paid an absurd sum to recruit Brazil international Alisson, 25, as the club’s new number one. Karius can sit on the bench and wait or hope another big club wants him and go. But who wants a victim?

In Liverpool’s pre-season games, Karius has made a few slips. Liverpool’s 3-1 defeat against Borussia Dortmund in North Carolina featured Karius conceding two goals he should have stopped. Sensing the mood, Karius tweeted pathetically: “To those who take joy in seeing other people fail or suffer, I feel for you. Whatever it is that’s happening in your life to hold this much anger and hate, I pray that it passes and good things come to you.”

No humour. No chance of salvation – unless he believes in his own agency. To take delight in another’s failure is part and parcel of football. In Karius’ world, we should not celebrate the opposition’s red card, own goal or error. We should hold hands and form a prayer circle.

Karius evokes god. And the divine Mohamed Salah, his brilliant Liverpool’ colleague, damns him, tweeting: “Stay strong Karius. It has happened to the best players. Ignore those who hate.” The problem is that you, Karius, and neither God nor Mo is the last line off defence. It’s not we who need to learn from our mistakes. It’s not us who needs to rediscover our nerve. It’s you.

Posted: 24th, July 2018 | In: Key Posts, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


‘Racists’ force Arsenal star Ozil to quit Germany team

In news to hearten online trolls and bigots, Arsenal footballer Mesut Ozil intends to stop playing for Germany. Ozil, part of the German side that won the 2014 World Cup winner, says a combination of online harassment and the asinine behaviour of the German Football Association (DFB) means he “no longer want to wear the German national team shirt”.

 

ozil erdogan gundogan

 

The attacks are not all related to Ozil’s performances for Germany, which have been mixed. In May he was criticised after being photographed with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan inLondon. Ozil and Manchester City’s German international Ilkay Gundogan are of Turkish descent. Both were invited to meet Turkey’s authoritarian leader who used photographs of him and the footballers to boost his governing AK Party in the build-up to elections in the country. Well over a million people in Germany with a Turkish background are eligible to vote in the election, which Erdogan won (natch.).

 

ozil erdogan gundogan ozil erdogan gundogan

 

Ozil said he would have been “disrespecting his ancestors’ roots” had he not agreed to be meet Erdogan. Gündoğan, who like Ozil holds German and Turkish passports, presented Erdogan with the signed shirt bearing the legend: “To my president, with my respects.”

The background is relevant:

World Cup winner Özil was awarded an “integration” prize by the Hubert Burda Media group in 2010. That year the president of Germany’s football association (DFB) had complained about politicising football after Merkel made an unscheduled visit to the Germany changing room following a 3-0 win over Turkey. Photographs of the German chancellor were distributed by the government to the press afterwards.

So much for the politics and football. Incidentally, the above segment is taken from the Guardian, the paper in which a writer looked at the England World Cup team and opined: “If this team represents anyone, it’s the 48 per cent of Remainers.” This is because the England squad for Russia featured “11 players of colour”. That’s good thing, you see, because in the eyes of the knowing and enlightened being “too white”, an accusation levelled at the Russia team, is a bad thing. You were watching the football; they were studying the ethnic and racial make up of the team. Germany is not so far removed from the UK when it comes to the weak game of identity politics.

DFB chief Reinhard Grindel goes on the record: “The DFB of course respects the special situation for our players with migrant backgrounds, but football and the DFB stands for values that Mr Erdoğan does not sufficiently respect.” So much for not politicising football.

Ozil repsonds on Twitter:

“For me, having a picture with President Erdoğan wasn’t about politics or elections, it was about me respecting the highest office of my family’s country.

“My job is a football player and not a politician, and our meeting was not an endorsement of any policies. The treatment I have received from the DFB and many others makes me no longer want to wear the German national team shirt. I feel unwanted and think what I have achieved since my international debut in 2009 has been forgotten…

“People with racially discriminative backgrounds should not be allowed to work in the largest football federation in the world that has players from dual‑heritage families. Attitudes like theirs simply do not reflect the players they supposedly represent. In the eyes of Grindel and his supporters, I am German when we win but I am an immigrant when we lose.

“It is with a heavy heart and after much consideration that because of recent events I will no longer be playing for Germany at international level whilst I have this feeling of racism and disrespect. I used to wear the German shirt with such pride and excitement, but now I don’t. I feel unwanted and think that what I have achieved since my international debut in 2009 has been forgotten.

“I am disappointed but not surprised by [Grindel’s] actions,” the 29-year-old added. “But when high-ranking DFB officials disrespect my Turkish roots and selfishly turn me into political propaganda, then enough is enough.”

“The 29-year-old added that he had received abuse online, and claimed he was racially abused by a supporter after the match against Sweden.

“A German fan told me after the game, ‘Özil, fuck off you Turkish shit, piss off you Turkish pig.’ I don’t want to even discuss the hate mail, threatening phone calls and comments on social media that my family and I have received.

“They all represent a Germany of the past, a Germany that I am not proud of. I am confident that many proud Germans who embrace an open society would agree with me.”

Good for him.

Posted: 23rd, July 2018 | In: Arsenal, Key Posts, Sports | Comment


Life imitates Scarfolk: Civil Service tells parents to shoot rabid children

“Wow! This has made my week,” says Richard Littler. “This is from the government’s *own* publication about the history of government communications. They mistakenly included a Scarfolk poster which encourages the killing of children. Clearly, nobody thought it was too extreme.”

 

government scarfolk

The original Government pamphlet

 

rabiesshoot scarfolk government

UK Government says ‘shoot yer kids’

 

“You can download your own copy of this Scarfolk/UK government ‘collaboration’ from the government’s own site: quarterly.blog.gov.uk/download-a-pdf… (Hurry before they realise!).” They did realise that the fictional town of Scarfolk created by Richard as “a dystopian satire of the 1970s that somehow leaks into and reflects on current affairs” had become Government approved. And chances are whoever compiled the collection realised, too. The image has now been removed.

 

scarfolk shoot children cabinet office

 

The advice to shoot your children appears in the July edition of Civil Service Quarterly. Produced by the Cabinet Office ‘A century of government communications’ , the publication tells us that top-down communiqués have “helped to shape modern Britain and have themselves been shaped by the changing media landscape and changes in society”.

We are warned:

In an era when the spread of social media and the proliferation of digital information sources makes us question the very nature of news and what constitutes a ‘fact’, it is worth remembering two things. First, we have been here before: communications can, often deliberately, distort and mislead. A royal proclamation in 1688 specifically referred to tackling the spread of ‘false news’ (echoing the ‘fake news’ of today). And, second, at their best – honest, open, informative and effective – communications can help to shape, improve and even save lives.

Adding:

As we continue to listen, we are more likely to act appropriately on what people are telling us about what they need – and earn their trust – if we understand the public we serve. The Civil Service’s ambition to be the most diverse and inclusive employer in the UK by 2020 supports this aspiration.

Excellent communication that people trust is essential to a properly functioning democracy. That trust, built on the dialogue between public and state, is the touchstone of modern government communications.

It’s all about trust.

 

Detail from James II's 1688 proclamation "to restrain the spreading of false news"

Detail from James II’s 1688 proclamation “to restrain the spreading of false news”

 

“I have never seen the government move so quickly in my life (and certainly not because of me)!” says Richard. ‘From my announcement of their error to them deleting and editing the documents was about 5 mins.”

Richard adds: “On the last page of Discovering Scarfolk (2014), I warned about the dangers of a Scarfolk-based, apocalyptic cult infiltrating the civil service… You’re welcome.”

 

government scarfolk

The original Government pamphlet

 

rabiesshoot scarfolk government

Discovering Scarfolk – 2014

 

To prevent unnecessary bloodshed, Scarfolk Council has issued the following cease and desist letter to HM Government:

 

scarfolk shoot children

 

 

“The Government has tried replacing the Scarfolk poster with something patriotic. Is this some kind of photoshop challenge?”

 

scarfolk government

Now updated – don’t shoot yer kids; shoot Germans instead

 

But it’s not gone. You can download the original pamphlet here.

 

Posted: 21st, July 2018 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians, Strange But True | Comment


No anti-racist should vote for Corbyn’s Jew hating Labour

Funny, no, how so many self-styled anti-racist campaigners on the Corbyn Left have no problem with Jew baiting and Jew hatred. Might it be – and this is just a wild theory – they are anti-Semites? Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge noticed that Labour’s new anti-Semitism guidelines mark the Jews out as special. Whereas other races get to know when they are being attacked, when it comes to Jews, Corbyn’s Labour knows better.

Labour did adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA’s) definition of anti-Semitism. But it made a few tweaks. Corbyn’s Labour says it is not necessarily anti-Semitic to say Jews are more loyal to Israel than the UK. Jews are all Israelis, then – the country Corbyn and his fans hates above all others. And saying Jews / Israelis / Zionists are like Nazis is only bad if “anti-Semitic intent” can be proven. Not content with goading living Jews, Cobyn’s Labour attacks the dead ones too, especially the 6 million Jews murdered by actual Nazis. His Labour makes the murdered deserving of genocide. It is revolting. But the Left can’t see it – or doesn’t want to.

Under Labour’s rules criticising a Muslim, a woman or a transsexual requires no proof of intent to label the speaker a bigot? Labour adheres to the Macpherson definition of racism: an act perceived by the victim to be racist is racist. Unless your a Jew in which case: prove it. Macpherson is a bizarre rule that necessitates the ability to read minds and judge another’s thoughts. It can make you an unwitting racist. It’s an absurd, anti-democratic ruling that makes us all potential racists. But Labour supports it. Criticise the London mayor, a Muslim, and you are Islamophobic, says Labour. Abuse the Windrush Generation and you are a racist, says Labour. But go for a Jew and Labour says its all about free expression and free speech.

Why is it different for Jews? Labour says it’s about freedom of speech, the need to be able to criticise Israel, which, after all, is one of its pet hobbies and a cornerstone requirement of being a caring and sensitive Corbynista. Fair enough. But why aren’t Muslims or blacks treated the same way? Why is freedom of speech vital to Labour when it comes to lambasting Jews and the world’s one Jewish State but unimportant when criticising Islam? Why-oh-why are Jews singled out? Is it because, you know, Labour is a haven for anti-Semites?

 

The Jeremy Corbyn and Jewdas Seder abridged

Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour turn things upside for Jews. So here’s a message for those contortionists.

 

Dame Margaret, the MP for Barking, wrote in The Guardian that she “confronted Jeremy Corbyn in Parliament and told him to his face what I and many others are feeling”.  Labour was “so distrusted by the Jewish community, we are the last people on earth, at this time, who should think about amending a widely accepted definition of anti-Semitism.” No Jew should vote Labour. I’d like every Jewish MP to become an independent. The idea that voting for a Jew and thus helping Corbyn become Prime Minister

To Corbyn’s Labour, Jews are ok to demonise. They are the useful Other, the uniquely barbaric enemy within against which everyone of a sound mind and good morals can rail and mass.

The BBC reports:

Labour MP Margaret Hodge faces “action” by the party after reportedly swearing at Jeremy Corbyn and calling him an “anti-Semite”. A spokesman for the Labour leader said what had happened was “clearly unacceptable between colleagues”.

Sod the Jew hatred in Labour. Just clamp down on anyone who dares to speak out. So much for freedom of expression…

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


Sir Cliff Richard: victim of the paedo inquisition

cliff richard

 

In the post-Savile era, the BBC is so desperate to look decent and worthy that it broadcast live a police raid on an innocent man’s home. The celebrity in the Beeb’s cross-hairs was Sir Cliff Richard, who had been implicated in an incident at a Billy Graham evangelist rally in Sheffield in the 1980s involving a boy under the age of 16. The Metropolitan Police’s Operation Yewtree shoved the allegation on to South Yorkshire Police in June 2014. A month later the police and the State broadcaster colluded in the interests of “breaking news” and PR to show us Cliff’s home being turned over. He was out at the time. It was revolting stuff. But it wasn’t out of keeping with the BBC and police’s frenzied pursuit of salvation and purpose, in which accusers became ‘victims’, accusations are considered “credible and true” and the accused branded guilty without any need for such nuisances as evidence, proof and a trial.

Sir Cliff, who was told in 2016 that he’d face no charges, sued. And yesterday the 77-year-old singer was awarded £210,000 in damages. More damages are sure to follow. South Yorkshire Police has already paid £400,000 in damages.

Mr Justice Mann told the court:

“The material at trial demonstrated not only that people were very excited at the prospect of this scoop, but also that they were very keen to preserve it as their own. The latter point is demonstrated by a number of things, including the very questionable (in contractual terms) exclusion of ITN from knowledge of the launch of the helicopter and the fear, expressed in emails, that Sky News might pick up the event.

“I think and find it likely that this is what motivated the BBC in relation to timing at the end of the chain of events. It was important, if possible, to get the news to broadcast for 1pm (ITN would have a lunchtime broadcast at 1.30pm), rather than waiting any longer.

“That led the BBC to truncate, unfairly, the opportunity for Sir Cliff to get in a reply before the first broadcast.

“I emphasise that I am not finding that there is anything inherently wrong with a desire to beat a rival to a story. What happened in this case was that that view unduly skewed other judgments that had to be made.”

This was the stodgy BBC engaging in competitive journalism with commercial broadcasters. It wanted to use Sir Cliff to prove that in the new arena it too could shout “First!” The police used the reality show to trawl for more ‘victims’.

 

Cliff Richard police raid

 

BBC News director Fran Unsworth has issued an apology, albeit one with a sympathetic back story and mealy-mouthed lament:

“We are sorry for the distress that Sir Cliff has been through. We understand the very serious impact that this has had on him. We have thought long and hard about how we covered this story. On reflection there are things we would have done differently, however the judge has ruled that the very naming of Sir Cliff was unlawful.”

Why name an innocent man? Was he a danger to the public? Was Cliff more Pied Piper than Peter Pan? What evidence did the police hope to find at his unoccupied home? What would this compelling evidence look like on the telly? Where was Sir Cliff – wasn’t he the story, rather than his house?

“So even had the BBC not used helicopter shots or ran the story with less prominence, the Judge would still have found that the story was unlawful; despite ruling that what we broadcast about the search was accurate.”

Man has home searched. Fact. Broadcasting it live and naming the celeb, who must be presumed innocent to showcase your own sound morals. Sensationalist horror show. This is a pathetic apology.

“This judgment creates new case law and represents a dramatic shift against press freedom and the long-standing ability of journalists to report on police investigations, which in some cases has led to further complainants coming forward.”

Trawling for ‘victims’ on a live reality TV show is not an investigation, at least not one any sensible and circumspect institution should be dabbling in.

 

Cliff richard police

 

And it could be you:

“This impacts not just the BBC, but every media organisation. This isn’t just about reporting on individuals. It means police investigations, and searches of people’s homes, could go unreported and unscrutinised.”

Balls. The BBC went for Sir Cliff because he is famous.

“It will make it harder to scrutinise the conduct of the police and we fear it will undermine the wider principle of the public’s right to know. It will put decision-making in the hands of the police.”

If it is so awful, how the bloody hell did you – top State-approved journalists – all agree it was a good idea? Why didn’t the BBC apologise earlier? Why did the BBC fight the case? Has anyone been sacked? Will ‘lessons be learned’?

Ubiquitous Tory MP Anna Soubry has called for “Cliff’s Law” to ban media from naming suspects before they are charged. Oh, the sick irony of Sir Cliff having his own law, thus cementing his name with an accusation of which he is entirely innocent. Bad practice makes for bad laws. Soubry is as vain and monocular as the BBC reporters who sought to make names for themselves on Sir Cliff’s back.

“We don’t believe this is compatible with liberty and press freedoms – something that has been at the heart of this country for generations. For all of these reasons, there is a significant principle at stake. That is why the BBC is looking at an appeal.”

Ha. So much for the apology. The show goes on…

Posted: 19th, July 2018 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, News | Comment


European Union fines Google €4.3 billion over Android

It sounds a bit odd that someone has to pay a fine to the European Union for giving something away but such are the twists and turns of antitrust law. The EU has fined Google €4.3 billion (£3.8 billion) over Android, the operating system that they simply give away to anyone who asks for it.

Ah, well, not quite, it comes with some conditions, even if payment is not required, and it’s those conditions which matter:

The European Commission fined Google €4.3 billion ($5 billion) on Wednesday for antitrust violations related to Android, its popular mobile operating system.

The penalty represents the largest ever antitrust fine levied by Europe’s competition authorities against a single company, and marks a significant step by Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s antitrust chief, in her ongoing stand-off with the U.S. search giant.

There’s a significant problem here concerning the very definition of what is bad behaviour concerning antitrust law. Being a monopoly and then rooking everyone is indeed bad behaviour about which we’d like government to do something. But just being dominant may or may not cut it. It’s this distinction which is at the heart of why the EU’s decisions are different from those of the US.

Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner, said Google has used its Android mobile phone operating system “to cement its dominance as a search engine”, preventing rivals from innovating and competing “and this is illegal under EU antitrust rules”.

The following isn’t exactly accurate but it’s close enough. The US system says that consumers must actually be harmed before there’s a monopoly or antitrust issue that must be addressed. Near all economists agree on that point, that if harm is being done then do something. The EU position is rather more, well, if people are working themselves into a position where they could do harm if they decided to, then we must do something. The actual harm doesn’t come into it. Not that many economists agree with this formulation.

That’s why we’ve got activity which is entirely legal under US law being fined here in the EU. My own view is that the US is right here.

There is one little delight though:

Vestager said Google has become dominant across Europe for internet search, licensable smartphone operating systems and for the Google Play app store. “With market dominance comes responsibility,” she explained.

It’s that Google Play part that amuses. Google has some 90% of the market for places which people can download Android apps from. Hmm, OK.

Apple has 100% of the market for places people can download iOS apps from. If I were Apple I’d be a little worried right now.

Posted: 18th, July 2018 | In: Key Posts, News, Technology | Comment


Anti-racists and Corbyn march against Trump but ignore the plight of Jews

On Twitter, Jeremy Corbyn, Labour Party leader and Prime Minister in waiting, tells his followers that Donald Trump should not be on a State visit to the UK because: “When we divide ourselves by racism, misogyny and hate, we all lose. When we are united in hope, with common goals, we can all win.#TrumpProtest #TrumpVisitsUK.” Wise words. But is Corbyn listening to them?

As Charlie Peters tweets, Jezza might be a bit of hypocrite:

Hamas and Hezbollah: had tea with them in Parliament

The IRA: had tea with them in Parliament

Anti-Semite Raed Salah: had tea with him in Parliament

President of the United States: “I wouldn’t have invited him”

Corbyn then followed this up with a wonderful tweet:

The #DurhamMinersGala shows the strength of our movement. History teaches us that those at the top never conceded anything without it being demanded from those below.

So that’s why he supports Brexit – which the nuanced and slippery Corbyn sort of does and sort of doesn’t.

Doubtless Corbyn will also be supporting Iranian women defying their totalitarian regime – the one he worked for when fronting shows for Press TV. Corbyn was paid £20,000 by the broadcaster described by one Guardian writer as “a platform for the full fascist conspiracy theory of supernatural Jewish power”. Not that Corbyn’s all that good at spotting such nastiness. He thinks he is, however, because Labour has rewritten the rules on what anti-Semitism is, deciding that it knows better than Jews what constitutes Jew hatred.

Over in Iran women are dancing to show their disgust for the country’s absurd laws on chastity and modesty. How absurd? Well, Maedeh Hojabri, 18, was arrested for the apparent crime of posting on Instagram videos of herself dancing – without her headscarf! Banged up by the hijab police, Hojabri soon apologised in public. What brought about her change of mind can only be guessed at. But other Iranian women are inspired by her bravery. They’re posting videos under the hashtag #dancing_isn’t_a_crime and #dance_to_freedom.

As Corbyn’s retweets those hashtags (not yet – but he’ll get round to it, we’re sure), here’s the good news: lots of people in the UK like to protest against racism, misogyny and assaults on human autonomy. Many were doing just that when they formed The Stop Trump Coalition and created the ‘Carnival of Resistance’ to President Trump’s visit to the UK. Unless it was just self-aggrandizing, monocular tosh. Nah! Hundreds of thousands of these good people who tell us we’re heading back to the 1930s and Hitler is among us once more will surely march against the rampant rise and rise of Jew hatred. And Corbyn will be marching at their head – just as soon as he’s finished his tea with the people whose charter calls for all Jews to be killed. And you know who else liked genocide and wanted all Jews to be murdered…

Posted: 14th, July 2018 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment


Being dead breaches Paypal’s contract terms

It would appear that all of us with a Paypal account should live forever. Presumably Elon Musk’s old firm has some idea as to how this should or even could be achieved. For their contract seems to indicate that the popping of clogs is a breach of their terms.

A widower told last night of his shock after receiving a letter from online banking company, PayPal, threatening his dead wife with debt collection and legal action.

Howard Durdle was contacted by the ‘insensitive’ company, which claimed the death of Mr Durdle’s wife, Lindsay, constituted a ‘breach’ of their rules.

Well, yes and no actually:

The death of the 37-year-old British woman, Lindsay Durdle, who passed away from breast cancer, apparently violated PayPal’s account holder policies. After being notified by her surviving husband, Howard, of her tragic end on May 31, the American company demanded, in a quite peculiar way, repayment of about £3,200 that she owed.

“You are in breach of condition 15.4(c) of your agreement with PayPal Credit as we have received notice that you are deceased,” PayPal scolded, in a letter addressed to Mrs Durdle, after her husband provided copies of her death certificate, her will and his ID.

It’s badly worded, that’s true.

But here’s the full situation. She had borrowed money from Paypal Credit – OK, that’s what it’s for. There are certain repayment terms on such loans – that’s normal enough, when are you going to repay? Death does make following such terms a little difficult. But the debt’s still owed of course. It’s part and parcel of her estate in fact. What she owns is bundled up, what she owes – if secured of course – is also bundled up, one is used to pay the other and then what’s left over is distributed according to her will. This will be true of any other debts she has as well. The whole process is called probate.

So, yes, badly worded, possibly even a source of amusement for us out here, but nothing terribly odd about it at all. Being dead means the last chance they’ve got of getting the loan repaid is her estate. Thus the letter demanding immediate – for which read, the executor of the will out of that estate – repayment.

After all, a little delay here’s not going to harm her credit rating all that much, is it?

Posted: 14th, July 2018 | In: Key Posts, Money, News, Technology | Comment


Britain’s 35th place in international broadband speeds – simply appalling

It appears that the UK is 35th in a listing of countries by the average speed of the broadband enjoyed there. This is appalling, a condemnation of all that is holy, a product of Tory Austerity and—-actually, it’s meaningless. Entirely unimportant, except for the reason that Britain has slow broadband, which is that we’re a rich nation already. The places doing better than us are, with a few exceptions, largely poor places. Which is why they’ve thrown a large amount of money at this new technology. They didn’t already have the one that came before that is:

The UK has slipped to 35th place in an annual league table of global broadband speeds, putting it in the bottom third of EU countries and below the likes of Madagascar and Bulgaria.

An analysis of more than 160m broadband speed tests conducted across 200 countries revealed Singapore was once again the world’s fastest country, followed by Sweden, Denmark and Norway, while Yemen came last.

The Scandis are different, that’s obvious enough in many different ways. The rest of the list who are faster, well, there’s a good historical reason for it:

Analysis of 163 million broadband speed tests across 200 countries indicates Singapore ranks as the world’s fastest country, with Yemen the slowest.

Well, yes, Yemen’s in the middle of a bloody civil war and the place has never, ever, risen above medieval poverty. Singapore, well, that’s an island city state. Damn near everyone lives in tower blocks. As you can imagine, it’s a lot easier to wire up the one city than it is to run fibre to every village and hamlet in the country.

When it comes to internet provision, the situation varies both by country and region. Generally speaking though, you can apply the rule that the larger and less developed the nation is, the slower the internet access tends to be.

The economy of Singapore, for example, relies heavily on digital infrastructure, while the country itself occupies a relatively small space. There is economic necessity, coupled with the relative ease of delivering high-speed connections across a small area.

That’s from the report itself and yes, well, quite.

Britain has slipped four places in the world broadband speed league, leaving its network lagging well behind the likes of Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary and Romania.

There is that other technical issue though. When the internet arrived we in Britain already had a copper telephone network which reached damn near every house in the country. Something like ASDL – which runs internet over such copper cables – was and is a fine technical solution for us therefore. We’ve got near everything already, we just have to stick the right equipment in the telephone exchanges. Countries that were very much poorer when that internet arrived – and yes, this very definitely includes all those ex-Warsaw Pact and socialist countries – didn’t have that basic and effective telephone network to start with. They couldn’t piggy back off that extant system, they had to go build the whole thing from scratch. At which point fibre to every home is a sensible idea.

That is, the reason that UK broadband is comparatively slow is because we were already a rich country, already had that telephone network. This isn’t unusual by the way. The British ATM network is, in its capacity to do things other than just spit out money, really pretty shite. That’s because we’ve had ATMS since the mid-1960s. Poorer places didn’t start to install them until the 1990s which is why they’ve installed a more advanced form of the technology.

Posted: 12th, July 2018 | In: Key Posts, News, Technology | Comment


Brexit plan revealed: let’s invade the EU

brexit and the battle for democracy

 

Situations Vacant: Brexit Secretary – the one person in the country who can’t just shout just “get the **** on with it” at the telly. David Davis, who was leading negotiations to leave the EU, has resigned from the government, a man “unpersuaded” that the UK’s negotiating approach “will not just lead to further demands for concessions” from the wonks in Brussels. Good news, then, for Leavers who don’t fancy Theresa May’s plans for a soggy Brexit; and good news for Remainers who want to talk about Brexit “chaos” and demand a second referendum (oh, save us).

Who gets the job? Thrusting Michael Gove, maybe. How about Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary who says May’s Brexit plans are like a “big turd”? So selfless is Johnson that he won’t do a Davis and resign when invited to sell a steaming pile of crap to the majority of us who voted to leave the EU, but back it to the hilt, as he has done. “I hate this,” said Andrea Leadsom during a big meeting Cabinet meeting at the PM’s country pile in Chequers, but “I’ll support you no matter what decision you take.” The EU’s negotiators don’t stand a chance against these principled pillars of public service.

After the excitement and decisiveness of the Referendum result, we’ve been told that there are multiple Brexits. The UK is leaving the EU. Unless there’s an appetite for a second referendum – which away from Gina Miller’s white stuccoed salon and Tony Blair’s bankers’ orgy there isn’t – we’re heading out. The details will then be sorted out, which was ever the way. Brexit has come to resemble less a divorce than one of the aforesaid Blair and David Cameron’s attacks on Iraq and Libya: identify the useful enemy, champion ‘regime change’, blow the whole thing up and let god knows who sort out what happens next.

Posted: 9th, July 2018 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment


Cannabis: a cruel law pauses for Billy Caldwell

The cretinous rule that led to 12-year-old Billy Caldwell’s medicine being confiscated at Heathrow airport has not been undone. It’s been paused. The matter of how Billy’s mother, Charlotte Caldwell, can best care for her ill and suffering son reached the desk of the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, who in his wisdom granted a licence for cannabis oil to be administered to the boy at home. Javid’s never met the lad but as a former banker he is ideally placed to know what’s best for Billy.

A doctor in Northern Ireland thought he knew what was best for Billy. In 2017 that GP saw the improvement in Billy after Charlotte had taken him to America to see paediatric neurologists. They had prescribed cannabis oils. And these drugged helped. The GP continued the treatment, prescribing medicinal cannabis oil on the NHS. It continued to work. Billy went 300 says without an epileptic seizure. Then the Home Office spotted the horror and ordered the GP not to renew the prescription. The GP was breaking the law. Give Billy the medicine and be disbarred. But now the Home Secretary says the law can be bent and Billy can get a medicine that helps him.

Javid has been advised, of course. He’s listened to experts, considered the options and the evidence, and, as an adult, made up his own mind about medical cannabis. The problem is that he and other politicians get to make up your mind as well, or at least turn you into a social pariah if you consider the laws they pass and leave unchallenged wrong, and decide that medical cannabis is helpful.

The Government has issued a statement to celebrate its humanity. “The Department of Health yesterday received an emergency licence application from Belfast Trust clinicians regarding medicinal cannabis use for Billy Caldwell. An emergency licence has today been issued by the department, replicating the licence issued last month by the Home Office for treatment at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London. We have also been in discussions with the Home Office to finalise arrangements for the immediate transportation of Billy’s medicine from London to the Belfast Trust.”

Funny, no, how the sight of an ill child having his medicine confiscated by the uniforms can change minds. As TV crews broadcast images of Billy hugging his careworn mother, the Home Office was telling us there is “no recognised medicinal benefit” to cannabis. Anyone using cannabis to dull the pain and the symptoms of MS, cancer, epilepsy and more was a fool and a criminal. Now, a few weeks later, the politicos think there might be something useful in cannabis. No new findings have been made in that time but there has been lots of bad Press for the Government.

So will all parents have to fight the law as hard as Billy Caldwell’s mum to improve the lives for their flesh and blood? The Government is investigating laws around medical cannabis. The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs is musing on the “balance of harms and public health needs”. But this is about who knows what’s best for the sufferer: their loving mum or the authoritarian State?

Who would you trust?

Posted: 5th, July 2018 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment


World Cup Watch: Daily Mail singles out Sterling for criticism

Raheem sterling england colombia

Raheem Sterling is rubbish in the Daily Mail

 

Did you know Manchester City and England striker Raheem Sterling has not scored for England in 1000 days? It’s a fact Matt ‘Statto’ Lawton wants to share with his Daily Mail readers. Sterling could have scored last night as England defeated Colombia on penalties to progress to the World Cup quarter-final but he was “hooked” off after 88 minutes. Sterling was replaced by Jamie Vardy, who in the Mail’s all-important “Jamie Redknapp’s Big Match Ratings” scores 6.5 – the same as Sterling gets. Sterling was not the worst England player on the pitch according to Redknob. He scored higher than Kyle Walker (6), Deli Alli (6) and Ashley Young (6). But why does Sterling feel the hatchet between his shoulder blades and the rest do not?

And what of Eric Dier’s scoring a 7? He had a “pass completion rate of less than 25 per cent in his first 24 minutes on the pitch” (source: Martin Samuel, Daily Mail) and was “ordinary” against Belgium. He did score in the penalty shoot-out, a shot that was a “bit scuffed and [David] Ospina got a hand to it”. But there he is on the Mail’s back page “The Coolest Man in Moscow”.

 

Raheem sterling england colombia

Sterling was “dangerous” in the Daily Mirror

 

He was cool? No. In the Mirror, Dier says he was “nervous”. Andy Dunn says “Sterling at least remains one who can dash past a defender, take a risk, create splash of chaos”, factors described as “rarities” in a game big on “chaos”. The Mirror gives Sterling a 7 – the same as Pickford, Trippier, Henderson and Kane. Only John Stones with 8 scores higher. Sterling was “dangerous”.

 

Raheem sterling england colombia

The Sun

Raheem sterling england colombia

The Sun says Sterling was “lively”

 

Over in the Sun, Sterling gets a 6. That’s a higher mark than Lingard and Henderson, and the same as Pickford, Walker, Young and Dele. The Sun says Sterling was “slippery and lively” and “darting”.

 

Raheem sterling england colombia

Sterling is “lively” in the Daily Express

 

In the Express, “lively” Sterling who “caused  Colombia all kinds of problems” scores a 7 – that’s more than Pickford, Stones, Maguire, Henderson, Dele and Young. Only Harry Kane (8) scores higher.

So why is Sterling derided in the Mail? Has the Mail got a problem with Sterling?

It’s been while since Sterling scored in an England shirt, his last goal coming on 9th October 2015. But only Sterling gets compared to a “mascot” and a “jockey” in the Mail. No other player is so diminished.

Posted: 4th, July 2018 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, Manchester City, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


World Cup: Gareth Southgate meets with triumph and disaster

You might have heard that England won a penalty shoot-out – their first at the World Cup – and saw off a feisty, underhand Colombia team. England manager Gareth Southgate had been there before, as a player, of course. At Euro 96 in front of a partisan and packed Wembley, Southgate took a penalty against the Germans. It was the semi-final. And he missed. His penalty CV was short: one missed effort for Crystal Palace three seasons previously. When Terry Venables, the England manager, asked him to take one, it hit him like “a bolt from the blue”.

“It will never be off my back, sadly,” says Southgate. “That’s something that will live with me for ever but today is a special moment for this team. It’ll hopefully give belief to the generations of players that will follow. We always have to believe in what is possible in life and not be hindered by history or expectations. I think these young players are showing that. They’re enjoying the tournament, and we’re looking forward now to the quarter-finals.”

Sometimes the nice bloke wins:

 

 

Can England win the World Cup? Yes.

This was England’s second win on penalties at a major tournament in eight attempts, the only previous success being against Spain at Euro 96. Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle missed penalties at the semi-final of Italia 90 (Germany again won); Paul Ince and David Batty missed at France 98; David Beckham and Darius Vassell missed at Euro 2004; Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher missed at the 2006 World Cup; Ashley Young and Ashley Cole missed ay Euro 2012. Souhgate has watched them all. “There was a different movement about his [Cole’s] hips if you watch his last stride — he almost fell away,” says Southgate.

Are the players better prepared now for the walk “into the darkness”? “Absolutely, no question. I’ve had a couple of decades thinking it through. In defence of the staff there at the time, penalty shoot-outs weren’t as regular then,” he says. “The depth of knowledge and understanding, we didn’t have as much information as we do now. FA Cup ties went to two, three replays so we weren’t in those situations as often as we are now.

“Definitely it’s not about luck. It’s not about chance. It’s about performing a skill under pressure. There are individual things you can work on within that. We have studied it. There is lots we can do to own the process and not be controlled by it.”

A win and confidence becomes contagious.

 

Posted: 4th, July 2018 | In: Key Posts, Sports | Comment


Peter Firmin: remembering The Clangers, Bagpuss and their creator

peter-firmin bagpuss

 

Peter Firmin (1928-2018) co-created Bagpuss, The Clangers, Basil Brush, Ivor the Engine, Pogles Wood and Noggin the Nog. You might not know the man, but every Briton who grew up in the 1970s knows his work. In 1999, Bagpuss was voted the most popular BBC children’s programme ever made.

It was a family affair. Mr Firmin’s wife Joan made Bagpuss’ paws and knitted the original Clangers. Their daughter Emily played Bagpuss’ owner, who places the saggy old cloth cat in her shop window.  The shop doesn’t sell anything. Each week Emily brings Bagpuss objects to mend and repair. Bagpuss wakes up, explores the new find with his pals and then after so much talk and hard looking drifts back to sleep.

Only 13 episodes were ever made. Each one if wonderful.

 

 

The Clangers are aliens living on small blue planet. They live in caves protected by saucepan lids – the noise of the lids gives the Clangers their name.

As for Mr Firmin:

Born in Harwich in 1928, he trained at the Colchester School of Art and, after a period of National Service in the Navy, he went on to attend the Central School of Art and Design. it was while teaching there that he met Mr Postgate with whom he formed Smallfilms.

In 2016, in an interview with the BBC at the unveiling of an exhibition of his work, Mr Firmin said of his relationship with Mr Postgate: “He wrote and imagined things and I brought them to life as pictures.”

He said: “We sometimes disagreed, but generally we agreed in the end as we had the same sort of taste and, also, we both rather liked the idea of gentle stories where there was no aggression really and everyone was rather happy, gentle and content.”

Mr Firmin was no fan of computer generated imagery. “I hate CGI faces on humans because you look in the eyes and there’s nothing there. There’s no soul.”

In 1974, his knitted Clangers with their black button eyes held an election. The General Election was taking place in the UK and far, far away The Clangers were asking you to Vote Froglet.

The BFI:

On a small blue planet far away, it’s polling day for the Clangers! Coinciding with 1974’s general election, this episode sees narrator Oliver Postgate trying to persuade the ever-popular woolly creatures of the merits of party politics. But the Clangers aren’t taken with the prospect of a society ruled by one group – even though the Soup Dragon stands for election on a ‘free soup for all’ ticket.

Oliver Postgate provides the voice of the narrator who, uniquely in this episode, engages in conversation with the Clangers. Their responses were adapted from the written script and played on swannee whistles by Stephen Sylvester and Oliver Postgate, as usual, while the music was composed by Vernon Elliott. This was the final in the original series of The Clangers which ran for 27 episodes from 1969-74.

 

Posted: 2nd, July 2018 | In: Key Posts, News, TV & Radio | Comment


£1bn of cannabis to boost the British economy – and let criminals sell skunk

The argument for legalising cannabis hinges not on your chronic pain or need to bark in front of daytime telly, rather on money, specifically how much the Government rake in by taxing it? The sickness is all too apparent. What goes inside the body of a consenting adult is no-one else’s business, least of all that of the wonks. But money will win the argument – it always does. And the latest news is that decriminalising the drug will earn the State £1bn a year.

That’s according to guesstimates by the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA). The headline figure is not all earnings but also savings, primarily on the cost of policing the Class B drug. The IE report, the snappily titled Joint Venture: Estimating the Size and Potential of the UK Cannabis Market, estimates the black market for cannabis at £2.6bn a year with 255 tonnes sold to more than three million people.

“It’s high time for reform of cannabis policy in the UK,” says Chris Snowdon, head of lifestyle economics at the institute, and most definitely unaware of his pun. “Canada and the USA are showing the way. Done properly, the legalisation of cannabis is a win-win-win: criminals lose a lucrative industry, consumers get a better, safer and cheaper product, and the burden on the general taxpayer is reduced.”

Maybe. Criminals get to re-evaluate their business and undercut the licence holders. Customers get to chose a product, whether it be safe or less safe will depend on price. Licensed sales allow regulators and other authoritarians to control the drug’s psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol sold on their premises. But if you want skunk or anything stronger than Theresa May thinks you can handle, asks Matt the Talc if he can sort you out – and look out for the Kitemark on his bag of greens.

The IE also adds in its report: “When added to tax revenues of £690m, plus new streams of income tax, business tax and VAT created by the legal industry, claims about cannabis legalisation providing a £1bn windfall to the Treasury seem pessimistic.”

No doubt the kind of bores who sell fine wines and hipsters who felt-tip their necks and dress like Norman Wisdom in undersize jackets and leggings will set up shops offering all manner of exclusive guff to the discerning toker looking for top notes of pettuli oil over hints of uncertainty. The rest of us will just want a hit from the stuff that grows out the ground. It’s not called ‘weed’ for nothing.

Posted: 29th, June 2018 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Gender Pay Gap: Haim fires agent over male band getting 10x the cash

haim gender pay gap

 

There is indeed a gender pay gap out there. Some of it is – whisper it gently though we must – entirely justified. Women do tend to take career breaks, there is what is called occupational segregation – people deciding to pursue careers in different occupations – and it does tend to be men who are stupid enough to think that success at work is the be all and end all of life. There are other times it’s entirely justified too – no one is going to be surprised that Tom Cruise gets a higher paycheque than whichever blonde is the arm candy this time around.

There’re also times when it’s rather less justified. And the answer there is for women to take matters into their own hands. To complain and demand that is. Which is exactly what Haim have just done:

All-female band Haim say they fired an agent after discovering they were paid just a tenth of the amount of a male artist on the same bill at a festival.

The US rock group – made up of sisters Este, Danielle and Alana – called the pay gap “insane”.

For those who don’t know these things, band pay at a festival will vary wildly. There will be those there just to get the exposure and maybe thereby get onto the radio. There will be others whose presence on the bill is what sells the tickets to the whole gig. Those latter will gain very much higher pay of course:

“We had been told that our fee was very low because you played at the festival in the hope that you’d get played on the radio,”

Well, that’s OK, as long as everyone knows the deal on the way in.

“We didn’t think twice about it, but we later found out that someone was getting paid 10 times more than us. And because of that we fired our agent.”

Maybe that is OK and maybe it isn’t. But that is the correct answer even so. Not to complain to the world nor to insist that the law must be changed, but to fire the person who negotiated the price you didn’t like.

Of course, it’s always possible that demanding more money means no bookings to play festivals but as these things work out this would also mean no gender pay gap, wouldn’t it? For we do only measure the gap among people who get hired. Those entirely unemployed aren’t included in our numbers.

Posted: 27th, June 2018 | In: Key Posts, Money, Music, News | Comment


Brexit is good news for Northern Irish potheads

Might Brexit turn Northern Ireland into a mecca for British potheads? The 2018 Parliamentary paper, “The land border between Northern Ireland and Ireland Contents” tells us:

The UK Government has been very clear that it is committed to avoiding a hard border and therefore it will not create “physical infrastructure or related checks and controls” at the border.

And there it is again:

43. The United Kingdom also recalls its commitment to the avoidance of a hard border, including any physical infrastructure or related checks and controls.

You can read more on this in: “Joint Report on progress during the negotiations under Article 50, 8 December 2017, Rt Hon Theresa May, Hansard Volume 637, 5 March 2018.”

Why this is relevant to sufferers and stoners is that on June 22 Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the British-Irish Council in Guernsey that legalising marijuana is on his agenda:

“We’re conscious that Portugal has done it and has had some success in moving it from a criminal justice matter to a health and addiction issue and I’m very conscious that cannabis has been decriminalised in every state on the west coast of the United States. Colorado, most recently Canada and the sky hasn’t [fallen] in, so it’s something that’s under consideration”.

To Belfast, then, where strident sectarianism will be replaced by an altogether more apathetic Peace (and Love) Movement.

PS: In December 2016, a bill to make cannabis legal for medicinal use was passed in Ireland’s lower house without a vote. That could be good news for not only Ireland’s ill whose symptoms might be alleviated by cannabis but also for Teresa May and her family investments.

Posted: 27th, June 2018 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment


Spain restores a 16th century relic and the result is unusual

To Estella, Spain, where a local expert is undertaking the “restoration” of the five centuries old painted wooden effigy of St. George at the Church of St Michael.

“The parish decided on its own to take action to restore the statue and gave the job to a local handicrafts teacher,” Mayor Koldo Leoz tells The Guardian. “The council wasn’t told and neither was the regional government of Navarre… It’s not been the kind of restoration that it should have been for this 16th-century statue. They’ve used plaster and the wrong kind of paint and it’s possible that the original layers of paint have been lost.”

You an blame the tools, but leave the artisan out of it:

 

Church Spain restoration St George

Original: Right; Restored version: Left. Or is it the other way around?

 

Spanish restorers have a rich history of this sort of thing.

Posted: 27th, June 2018 | In: Key Posts, Strange But True | Comment


After Gosport let’s rip up the NHS

Dr Jane Barton was in charge of prescribing medicine on the wards of Gosport War Memorial Hospital, Hampshire. The Sunday Times say she was “found responsible last week for the deaths of up to 650 people and a culture in which powerful opiates were routinely and recklessly prescribed”. Tough words. Surely her work “potentially contributed to the early deaths of hundreds of patients”? One thing is certain: this a scandal for the NHS to deal with. Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt goes on the record:

“The basic problem is that if you are a doctor or a nurse and you see something going wrong – even if you are perhaps responsible for a mistake yourself – the most important thing, the thing that families want if they are bereaved or if they have a tragedy, is to know that the NHS isn’t going to make that mistake again.”

Is this to be an other story which ends with the line “lessons have been learned”?

“We make it much too hard for doctors and nurses to do that – they are worried that there will be litigation, they will go up in front of the GMC or NMC, the reputation of their unit – in some places they are worried they might get fired, so we do have to tackle that blame culture and turn that into a learning culture.”

The stand -out part of his address to the scandal is that “the lives of over 450 patients were shortened by clinically inappropriate use of opioid analgesics”. Live were shortened sounds like a euphemism. The Sun puts it on balder terms: their lives were “snuffed out”. Thinks ,less of the ignored whistleblower and families of the dead and marvel at how many people must have said nothing or worse. Says the Sun: “The health service is, in the main, an admirable institution. But it also gave us serial killer Harold Shipman, the Mid-Staffs ­outrage, the baby deaths at Bristol and Morecambe, and now hundreds killed in Gosport as staff closed ranks.” Anyone using the word “systemic” should be removed from the debate. This is about people. “Scandals like Gosport will be repeated until government targets are banned,” says one Guardian writer. Blame the system and everyone escapes.

Professor Sir Brian Jarman, director of the Dr Foster Unit at Imperial College London, says what happened at Gosport could be occurring elsewhere, because whistleblowers are “fired, gagged and blacklisted… nobody dare whistleblow in the NHS”.

The obvious question, then: why not blame the NHS and question its role? Why blame the system and not the body? Catherine Bennett wonders:

If the propensity to sanctify the NHS, to the point of worshipping it at the Olympics ceremony, helps explain occasional unwillingness to recognise its fallibility, and correspondingly exaggerated self-belief on the part of some practitioners, the Jones report doubles as a 370-page case for deconsecration. Although just a quick reading of Learning From Tragedy, p25, “a new approach to complaints and concerns”, would be a start.

And what of the technology? The Sunday Times has focused a report on the “cheap, faulty syringe pumps” used in palliative care.

The pumps, or drivers, used in the NHS for at least 30 years, led to the rapid infusion of dangerous doses of drugs into the bloodstream and made the behaviour of Dr Jane Barton — in charge of prescribing medicine on the Gosport wards — even more dangerous than had been thought

Would you put a member of you own family on such a pump – one you didn’t want to bump off?

The whistleblower said: “This could be one of the biggest cover- ups in NHS history. Anyone who has lost their granny over the past 30 years when opiates were administered by this equipment will be asking themselves, ‘Is that what killed Granny?’”

Amazing, no, how many old people can have “their lives shortened” before the rest of us take notice.

And what of the money all politicians of every stripe want to toss at the NHS? Is the NHS snow so big and bloated it can’t be questioned? If MPs and ministers can’t excerpt power over it, what chance does a nurse or hospital porter have of exposing serious wrongdoing?

A private word now: had I relied on the NHS I’d be living in a wheelchair or much worse. The NHS does much great work, but it was the sixth opinion – the first from a private doctor – that saved me. Our leaders venerate the NHS. It is beyond blame. But an organisation which has to cancel 50,000 operations to handle winter flu is not best serving the people.

Tim Black notes that questioning the NHS is heresy:

Few politicians question whether simply throwing money at the NHS is the best way forward. Or dare suggest that there are some things the NHS does, especially its intrusions into people’s lifestyles, that are detrimental to our political and social health. Or point out that its excessive managerialism and target-setting lead to routinised carelessness. Because, in the estranged world of the political class, invoking the NHS is seen as just about the only way to speak to us with any authority. The NHS is now the answer to nearly every party-political question. Why are we raising taxes? To support the NHS. Why are we leaving the EU? To benefit the NHS. Why are we better than them? Because we love the NHS more.

A final thought: if there were no NHS and we needed a body to provide medical care at the point of need at no extra cost, would anyone design the NHS as is it now? Surely not. It’s time to rethink the enterprise and come up with something that serves us all better.

Posted: 24th, June 2018 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Gosport Scandal: killing the old is easy but facts are hard

Dr Jane Barton’s is the face we are getting to know. The Mail leads with the demand “PUT HER IN THE DOCK”. On what charge? The Express demands “justice for hundreds killed by ‘Dr Death'”.

 

Dr Jane Barton

 

Dr Jane Barton

 

Dr Barton, dubbed ‘Dr Opiate’,  is “blamed” for failings that costs up to 650 lives  at Gosport Memorial Hospital. The dead were aged 62 to 99. the saying is true: if you want to be invisible, go grey.

A report “accused” Dr Barton of “giving patients powerful drugs they did not need”. The number of dead is staggering: 456 people died after being prescribed opioids “without medial justification”; the records of 200 more have gone missing. The Mail guesses that “they probably suffered a similar fate”.

Who needs fact when you’re talking about life, death and justice?

 

Dr Jane Barton

 

Dr Barton worked at the hospital between 1988 and 2000. The deaths making news occurred between 1987 and 2001. The report by the former Bishop of Liverpool James Jones does not mention her alone. His report is, says the paper, “scathing” about senior consultants, nurses, pharmacists and managers at the Hampshire hospital. None of them are pictured in any newspaper.

The dead have been the subject of reports, three police investigations, two reviews by medical bodies and 11 inquests. Nurses raised concerns decades ago. And not a single criminal charge has been levelled at anyone. The word conspiracy is flung around. Its reach extends to scores of people. But is it valid?

On pages 6 to 11, Mail readers hear more of the “deadliest coverup”. One fact seems notable above others: in 2010 the GMC found Dr Barton guilty of misconduct and that she prescribed “potentially hazardous” amounts of drugs. She retained her licence to practice medicine. The Mail says she was made the subject of sanctions, one being that she could not prescribe opiates for three years. In March 2010 Dr Barton retired on a “fat” pension.

 

Dr Jane Barton

“Murder.” Who mentioned murder?

 

We’re not being invited to sympathise with Dr Barton. But what we crave are facts. But the papers can’t get the most basic of those right. The Mail says Dr Barton is 69. The Sun says she’s 70. The Mail says she is in Menorca. The Express says she’s in Majorca.

 

Dr Jane Barton

The Express: Barton is 69 in Menoca

 

Dr Jane Barton

The Sun: Barton is 70

 

Dr Jane Barton

The Mail: Barton is 69 in Majorca

 

It’s worth noting that Dr Barton has not been charged with any criminal offence – ever. But you know who has…  Yep. Dr Harold Shipman.

 

Dr Jane Barton

 

Barton Shipman

 

Dr Jane Barton

 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 21st, June 2018 | In: Key Posts, News, Tabloids | Comment


Ant McPartlin, monstered Lisa and the blonde ‘rock’ who saved telly

Ant MacPartlin’s drugs habit and drink-driving have kept the papers busy. And now we read about his lover, one Anne-Marie Corbett, a 42-year-old married mum-of two. She used to work as a personal assistant to Ant and his wife Lisa. All tawdry and predictable stuff: married TV star takes drugs, drinks too much and shags blonde. But what’s interesting is how the tabloids are taking sides. You can tell which side they are on – Ant: the one who might give you interviews, sell newspapers and secure TV exclusives; or Lisa: the woman who won’t.

The Sun is Team Ant. Describing Anne-Marie as Ant’s “rock”, the Sun produces these photos of the trio:

 

ant mcpartlin anne-Marie Corbett

The Rock and the Hard Face. Ann-Marie is “upset” says the caption. Poor Anne-Marie.

 

ant mcpartlin anne-Marie Corbett

The photo the Sun chose to show of Lisa, who is not a drink-driver, has not taken drugs and has not been comforted by another

 

ant mcpartlin anne-Marie Corbett

The happy couple – look how happy Ant is. And we want him to be happy. He’s on the telly.

 

The Sun also adds that “blazing rows over his £62 million fortune have made it [divorce] increasingly acrimonious”. His fortune? Not their fortune? Childhood sweethearts Ant and Lisa have been married since 2006. This is about Ant and us continuing to like him. Good old Ant:

 

ant mcpartlin divorce

Good old Ant sharing his money with his wife. Waddaguy!

 

The Mirror leads with news that Lisa “suspected” Ant was with Ann-Marie “months ago”. Poor Lisa. Let’s take a look at her:

 

ant mcpartlin anne-Marie Corbett

 

ant mcpartlin anne-Marie Corbett

Page 5 family – Lisa looks pretty good

 

ant mcpartlin anne-Marie Corbett

Lisa Armstong in “torment”

 

ant mcpartlin anne-Marie Corbett

The hard-faced blonde

 

The Mirror says Lisa and Anne-Marie were “pals”. Anne-Marie split from husband Scott in October last year. But that has nothing to do with Ant, say “insiders”. Perish the thought. Ant and Lisa broke up “10 months ago” –  “long before he started dating his new love”. Ten moths ago was September 2017.

Over in the Mail and Lisa is looking happy. Ant is looking happy. Anne-Marie is wearing a “blue summer dress… with a plunging neckline, wedge heels, red lipstick and a Lulu Guinness tote bag”. She looks “glamorous”. The Express says Anne-Marie wore her “blonde hair loose”.

The final words is with an “insider, who tells the Express that Ant “could decide to to return to I’m A Celeb. That’s how far  things have changed thanks to Anne-Marie”.

Rejoice! Ant is happy. The show will go on.

 

Posted: 20th, June 2018 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, Tabloids | Comment


Canada seizes control of recreational marijuana market; under 18s turn to crime

marijuana

 

“Canada says ‘yes’ to cannabis,” announces Sky News. But it didn’t. If it could muster the energy to say anything, it mumbled, ‘oh, er, sure.’ Canada has legalised recreational cannabis use, the drug linked to asinine levels of apathy. The country’s Sensate passed the rule by 52 votes in favour and 29 against. The State now controls and regulates how weed is grown, distributed and sold. Let’s hear it for liberty!

Before cannabis was made illegal in Canada in 1923, the government had no control whatsoever. But in 2001 it approved the drug for medical use. And once the wonks get some control, they invariably tighten their grip. So from September smoking a refer will come with government approval. How cool is that?

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted, “It’s been too easy for our kids to get marijuana – and for criminals to reap the profits. Today, we change that. Our plan to legalize & regulate marijuana just passed the Senate. #PromiseKept”

So from September it will be easier for over 18s to get marijuana and the government will reap the profits. Under 18s, sorry, dudes, you’ll have to get fake id or buy it in the resale market – but not from your big sister because buying weed from an unlicensed dealer is illegal. And anyone selling weed to a minor is in line for a criminal record and up to 14 year in prison.

The wonks and the police say its ok for adults to possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis in public. The government will spend the next year working out what “edibles” are ok and equipping every law enforcement operative with scales. And no more than four plants per household.

But weed is legal. And thanks to Canada, weed is recast as an adult drug, no longer the stuff bored kids puff. It’s a serious narcotic, with budtenders and strains sold like fine wines; and all that marketing guff that turns a recreational spliff into the lifestyle choice for the knowing and dull. And the best bit is that the Government runs the market and makes the money.

Let’s hear it for personal freedom!

 

Posted: 20th, June 2018 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment