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Key Posts | Anorak - Part 2

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Labour MP calls for 17.4m Brexit voters to apologise for nasty ‘anti-Semitism’ tweet about Muslims

Labour MP David Lammy wants an apology from everyone who voted for Brexit. He’s collecting names. He’s going to be busy, what with there being 17.4million of us who voted Leave to process. But Twitter, where Lammy made his reasoned request, can handle some of the admin.  And he can ask fellow Labour MP Naz Shah to help. She’s also outraged by a nasty tweet from a Brexit-supporting group. Like Lammy and Jeremy Corbyn, Shah is highly sensitive to racism following a cathartic “journey”. The adult woman voted into the Commons by the good people of Bradford West discovered that advocating for the mass deportation of Jews to the American mid-West was a bit, you know, akin to Nazi and Stalinist methods for dealing with the ‘Jewish problem’. She apologised and is now on the side of the knowing.

The trigger for Lammy and Shah’s ire was this tweet from the account @leave.eu.

Is it any wonder that Labour can’t be bothered to deal with the disgusting antisemitism in their party when they are so reliant on the votes of Britain’s exploding Muslim population? It’s a question of maths for these people, not justice!

To blame Muslims for creating Labour’s cesspit of anti-Semitism is wholly wrong. To pick the word “exploding” to describe Muslim families is pathetic, nasty, divisive and anti-human. To claim all Muslims vote as a block demeans their autonomy. The tweet stinks.

Although that’s not to say Labour with its commitment to identity politics doesn’t use craven means to shore up its vote. Perhaps the party believes taking on any anti-Semitic Muslims not worth the effort if it affects the polls? Perhaps Labour is not all that in to individuality, equality and free will. Perhaps Labour doesn’t trust voters, preferring to package us into boxes according to our race, religion, age and gender, before proposing policies that appease each ‘community’ by pandering to what they perceive our prejudices to be?

But why is Corbyn’s Labour not so bothered about speaking up for Jews, being more blind to anti-Semitism than other forms of racism? Does the Labour Party need and value Jewish support? In 2012 former Labour London mayor Ken Livingstone told BBC’s Newsnight programme:

“People vote according to their income. Now that can change – it might be a generation before people catch up. If we were talking 50 years ago, the Roman Catholic community, the Irish community in Britain, the Jewish community was solidly Labour. Still the Irish Catholic community is pretty still solidly Labour because it is not terribly rich. As the Jewish community got richer, it moved over to voting for Mrs Thatcher as they did in Finchley.”

 

April 29 2016: Mr Livingstone was suspended for a year in April 2016 over his claim that Adolf Hitler had supported Zionism in the 1930s.

 

So much for the politics. Lammy’s upset by the tweet. And he wants you – all 17.4m of you deplorables who voted Brexit – to apologise for one bellend’s sad message. He has not called for every Labour Party member and voter to apologise for anti-Semitism in the ranks. But surely that will come.

 

 

 

Hello @metpoliceuk I would like to report this crime. Please investigate. This tweet is a crime under the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006: “Use of threatening words or behaviour, or any written material which is threatening or intends thereby to stir up religious hatred.”

He followed that with:

 

 

Hate speech is a crime. I am reporting you to the police. @BorisJohnson @michaelgove @Nigel_Farage and all people that voted to Leave on June 23rd 2016 must condemn this immediately and unequivocally. This is absolutely disgusting.

All 17.4 million of you “must” condemn this tweet now. Or..? Be arrested? Be named and shamed? Be forever branded a racist? Be disgusting?

PS: The problem is, if course, that Lammy has nailed it. He’s correctly reasoned that Brexit only won because the 17.4 million of us who usually vote for the BNP would not be denied. Of course, had we known how racist Labour was*, we’d most likely have gone with them. But their official position was unclear during the EU Referendum vote, as nuanced and slippery as their leader, so Brexit was the chance for every racist – all 17.4 million us – to win the day. Finally.

* Labour’s gonna walk the next election if it keeps the anti-Semitism thriving. The BNP never stood enough candidates to make us believe bigots could form a Government. But with Labour’s anti-Semitism being well advertised, it’s all vote now and vote often.

First they came for the EU… Raus!

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


The racist Left, ‘Jews for Jez’ and Jeremy Corbyn’s inability to spot anti-Semitism

Only around a thousand people turned up on Parliament Square to protest against anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. The polite request was that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn works to expose and confront the hatred of Jewish in his party’s membership – and that he stops acquiescing to anti-Semitism. Some Labour MPs did attend. And that’s great. But only about a dozen of them bothered to make the shot walk from the Commons to the grassy roundabout.

 

Jews for Jez

 

Accompanied by chants of “enough is enough”, the crowd heard from Haringey Council leader Claire Kober, and Labour MPs John Mann, Louise Ellman and Wes Streeting, Ian Austin, Chuka Umunna and Luciana Berger, who said antisemitism is “very real” and “alive in the Labour Party”. Some Conservative MPs also turned up, including Priti Sushil Patel, and cabinet ministers Sajid Javid and Penny Mordaunt.

Mr Streeting told the throng: “To those Jewish members who felt enough is enough and cut up their membership cards and walked away, our commitment to you is to work with every ounce of strength to drain the cesspit of antisemitism in the Labour Party so you can come back. We know what needs to be done. We don’t need any more mealy-mouthed statements from the leader of the Labour Party, we need actions. The actions are very simple: Ken Livingstone should not be in the Labour Party. Antisemites need to be drummed out of the Labour Party. And that whitewash of a report – the Chakrabarti Report – can we at least implement every one of those recommendations. We had a wishy-washy report, it got someone a place in the House of Lords, but let’s at least make sure its delivers a genuine fight against antisemitism in our party.”

Slippery and nuanced Jeremy Corbyn wasn’t there, of course. He never is. But he did address the Jews via a letter:

“I recognise that antisemitism has surfaced within the Labour Party, and has too often been dismissed as simply a matter of a few bad apples. This has caused pain and hurt to Jewish members of our party and to the wider Jewish community in Britain. I am sincerely sorry for the pain which has been caused, and pledge to redouble my efforts to bring this anxiety to an end. I must make clear that I will never be anything other than a militant opponent of antisemitism.”

Not a single world on how he has contributed greatly to that “pain”. Not a single word from his supporters, those intolerant people who if this were a Tory or anyone else they did not like giving a big thumbs up to anti-Semitism would be demanding their resignation. They screamed in outrage when Conservative MP Anne Marie Morris said “nigger in the woodpile”. They howled for Toby Young’s removal because he’d tweeted about women’s looks and described wheelchair ramps as part of “ghastly” inclusivity in schools. They pilloried Tim Farron for his views on homosexuality (he called it a “sin”) – ubiquitous Corbyn fan Owen Jones called Farron’s comments “an absolute disgrace”.

To his supporters, Corbyn can do no wrong.

Some Corbyn fans are Jews. A small number arrived carrying signs that said “Jews for Jez”, the words written on a yellow star. If Brass Eye did protests:

 

"Jews for Jez" - with a yellow star, to boot. Some people, eh.

“Jews for Jez” – with a yellow star, to boot. Some people, eh.

 

Instead of being upset by Corbyn’s links to anti-Semitism, his supporters tasked themselves with getting the hashtag #PredictTheNextCorbynSmear to trend on Twitter. Blessedly, not everyone thinks anti-Semitism is no big deal:

 

 

 

 

Corbyn did have more to say. And it, as ever, vague:

“Sometimes this evil takes familiar forms – the east London mural which has caused such understandable controversy is an example. The idea of Jewish bankers and capitalists exploiting the workers of the world is an old antisemitic conspiracy theory. This was long ago, and rightly, described as ‘the socialism of fools’. I am sorry for not having studied the content of the mural more closely before wrongly questioning its removal in 2012.”

 

Corbyn racist art

 

Amazing, no, how Corbyn, a man who presents himself in public as highly sensitive to anti-Semitism can looks at the picture above and not realise its might be even a tad anti-Jewish without “study”. Is he blind to anti-Semitism or does he think it’s ok?

As Brendan O’Neill puts it: “Corbyn is in essence saying: ‘Ah, I didn’t notice the anti-Semitism.’ And that is precisely the problem. This section of the left never notices anti-Semitism. It always seems to pass them by. Or worse, they acquiesce to it in the belief that objecting to it might lose them support among some of their key bases, in particular the old left and young Muslims. I didn’t see it, they say, not realising that their failure to see anti-Semitism is the crux of the problem. It is a wilful blindness to hatred that they would treat as unforgivable in relation to any other racial or religious group.”

Anti-Semitism is a sickness. It’s been excused time and time again under Corbyn’s watch. You can look at Corbyn and his fans and ask yourself: if it looks like a duck, quack likes a duck and talks like a duck, what is it? And you can vote in the election.

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


Jeremy Corbyn: Jews and your racist ‘friends’ know what you are

Corbyn racist art

 

If you’re still unsure whether or not the mural painted on an east London wall (see above) was anti-Semitic, you are either:

a) possibly not fully aware what anti-semitism is (see Shami Chakrabarti’s absurd report into anti-semitism in the Labour Party)

b) unaware that the artist, Mear One, said of his 2012 creation: “Some of the older white Jewish folk in the local community had an issue with me portraying their beloved #Rothschild or #Warburg etc as the demons they are.”

c) did not hear Lutfur Rahman, the Tower Hamlets mayor at the time, say he wanted it removed because “the images of the bankers perpetuate antisemitic propaganda about conspiratorial Jewish domination of financial and political institutions”.

d) have yet to hear a Corbyn spokesperson tell everyone last week: “In 2012, Jeremy was responding to concerns about the removal of public art on grounds of freedom of speech. However, the mural was offensive, used antisemitic imagery, which has no place in our society, and it is right that it was removed.”

 

Corbyn mural east london

Corbyn and another former face of Iran-backed Press TV both like the mural.

 

Before this was news, Jeremy Corbyn rather liked the mural called “Freedom of Humanity”. When the artist wrote on Facebook, “Tomorrow they want to buff my mural. Freedom of expression. London calling. Public Art”, Corbyn replied: “Why? You are in good company. Rockerfeller destroyed Diego Viera’s mural because it includes a picture of Lenin.”

Corbyn was, apparently, referring to an incident in 1934, when a work by Mexican artist Diego Rivera was removed from New York’s Rockefeller Centre.

This might be tricky one to spin, then, even for nuanced and slippery Corbyn. As Rod Liddle puts it in the Times (“Nothing proves Jeremy Corbyn is anti-semitic — just everything he says and does): “I suspect most Jewish people will take the view that if it walks like an anti-semite and repeatedly quacks like an anti-semite, then it probably is an anti-semite.” Over in the Jewish Chronicle, Stephen Pollard (“There is only one word for Jeremy Corbyn”) writes: “Mr Corbyn is a liar.” Yeah, I thought he was going to call him something else, too. Pollard thinks Corbyn is a liar because of what he said then and what he said this week don’t really tally. Here’s Corbyn’s latest apology for having “friends” who dabble in anti-semitism:

“In 2012 I made a general comment about the removal of public art on grounds of freedom of speech. My comment referred to the destruction of the mural Man at the Crossroads by Diego Rivera on the Rockefeller Center.

“That is in no way comparable with the mural in the original post. I sincerely regret that I did not look more closely at the image I was commenting on, the contents of which are deeply disturbing and anti-Semitic.

“I wholeheartedly support its removal.

“I am opposed to the production of anti-Semitic material of any kind, and the defence of free speech cannot be used as a justification for the promotion of anti-Semitism in any form. That is a view I’ve always held.”

But that’s not what he said before. How closely do you have to look at the image to think it anti-semitic, especially when you are as sensitive to anti-semitism as Corbyn says he is?

Maybe everyone is wrong? Maybe the Guardian is right to cast the whole thing as a matter of opinion. The paper uses inverted commas to soften the racism, saying Corbyn is in an “antisemitism row after backing artist behind ‘offensive’ mural”. Are you offended by what the Guardian calls a mural that “pictured several apparently Jewish bankers playing a game of Monopoly, with their tabletop resting on the bowed naked backs of several workers”? Corbyn wasn’t. The Guardian is unsure if its readers are.

But blessedly some Labour MPs have backbone.

 

mural antisemitic berger

 

Labour peer Stewart Wood said: “The German Social Democrats had an expression in the 1890s: ‘antisemitism is the socialism of fools’. Sadly, Labour’s leadership now faces the challenge of having to convince our party and country that they will not tolerate those who confuse the two.”

Dudley MP Ian Austin said: “Jeremy would never have defended racist imagery aimed at any other group.”

But some Labour MPs are just as slippery as their leader:

Corbyn’s Deputy Tom Watson, you know the bloke who takes money from Max Mosely (not a Jew) and who called dead Tory Leon Britton (was a Jew) “as close to evil as any human being can get” (he later apologised for that error) was shown the mural on BBC TV and asked for his reaction to it. “My reaction is that is a horrible anti-Semitic mural that was rightly taken down… You are showing it to me on a 32-inch screen on national television and I have seen it about 100 times on social media. It’s very different from seeing it on Facebook when you are on the move.”

There’s only move that chills us: Jeremy Corbyn’s relocation to 10 Downing Street. And he clearly doesn’t care if Jews vote for him are not.  It was Corbyn’s old mucker Ken Livingstone who explained Labour Party thinking on BBC’s Newsnight programme in 2012:

“People vote according to their income. Now that can change – it might be a generation before people catch up. If we were talking 50 years ago, the Roman Catholic community, the Irish community in Britain, the Jewish community was solidly Labour. Still the Irish Catholic community is pretty still solidly Labour because it is not terribly rich.

“As the Jewish community got richer, it moved over to voting for Mrs Thatcher as they did in Finchley.”

And we’re back to those Jewish bankers.

Stephen Pollard is right. Jews know what you are, Jeremy Corbyn. The terrifying thing is that not enough of your colleagues think it’s all that big a deal.

The oldest prejudice is back. And it is rampant.

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


Trawling for Jeremy Corbyn’s Facebook posts risk turning anti-Semitism into a witch-hunt

The Times is going pretty big on news of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s Facebook activity. The Conservative-supporting Guido Fawkes website says Corbyn was a member of pro-Palestine Facebook group “History of Palestine”. Fawkes claims Corbyn was added to the group in 2014. He left it today. We’ve seen no comments made by Corbyn on the group, but the Times says there are posts saying things like: “Rothschild Zionist agenda and new world order”; “Jewish organ trafficking centre where kidnapped Syrians are stripped of their entire bodies”; and “Ambassador says Jews control 90 per cent of Canadian media.”

Mr Corbyn’s spokesman has responded thus: “Jeremy condemns antisemitism in all its forms in the strongest possible terms. He was added to this group without his knowledge.”

Dang! It just keeps happening.

Earlier this year we learnt that Corbyn had been commenting on the Facebook group “Palestine Live”. The group has about 3,000 members, “who have to be invited or added by administrators.”

Members have included Paul Eisen, a Holocaust denier, and Jackie Walker, who has been suspended by Labour over accusations of antisemitism.

Corbyn, who left the group shortly after becoming Labour leader in 2015, made a few comments under group posts. Asked whether Mr Corbyn had known about antisemitic posts when using the group, a spokesman said: “I’m sure that he didn’t.” He added that any members found to have made such posts would “be investigated and action will be taken on the evidence”.

Also in the Times, Melanie Philips (“Labour can’t see its cesspool of antisemitism”) has enlarged on Corbyn’s Facebook pals. Noting the work of David Collier in finding Corbyn’s link to Palestine Live – in a long report, Collier alerted us to members  calling Jews “demons”, stating that Jews were behind 9/11 and the 2015 Paris terror attacks, and linking to far-Right websites – and that “several” Labour Party members were suspended for participation in this group, she cites the words of the group’s creator, Elleanne Green, who posted in February 2016: “Jeremy was a member of this group for several years until a few weeks after his election as Labour leader.”

Why did he leave? We’re not told.

During this time, according to other posts on the group’s forum, Corbyn was thanked for helping members organise an Israel-bashing meeting in the Commons. He posted an apology for not attending that meeting.

Yet Corbyn said he “was joined on to that group” without his knowledge and that he had merely replied to a “couple of things” posted there. He had “never trawled through the whole group”.

Putting it at its most charitable, Corbyn and other prominent participants never registered the vile nature of some of those alongside them in this forum. The reason for this moral myopia illustrates why the Labour Party finds it impossible to deal with the antisemitism in its broader ranks and why this is the problem that won’t go away.

Meanwhile, over in the Guardian, there’s no word on Corbyn’s alleged links to “History of Palestine”, but there is one article on his relationship with “Palestine Live”:

Corbyn posted several times in the group after being tagged in posts…

He was more passive than active?

Corbyn said he had not seen the other antisemitic posts on the group. “Had I seen it, of course, I would have challenged it straight away, but I actually don’t spend all my time reading social media… I have never trawled through the whole group. I have never read all the messages on it. I have removed myself from it. Obviously, any antisemitic comment is wrong. Any antisemitism in any form is wrong.”

So how did he become a member?

The Palestine Live group was founded in 2013 and was set up in a way that allowed administrators to add people to the group without their consent. It is understood that Corbyn believes he may have been added to the group by an acquaintance, who simultaneously added him as a Facebook friend when he was a backbench MP.

Understood. Believes. May. Surely we can find out the facts, no?

The Labour MPs Clive Lewis and Chris Williamson were members of the group, as were two former Liberal Democrat politicians, Baroness Jenny Tonge and the former MP David Ward.

Jacqueline Walker, a former Momentum steering group member, is also a member of the Facebook group. Walker has been suspended from the Labour party twice over allegations of antisemitism.

In one post, Walker appears to ask: “How safe is this group?”, to which the group’s founder, Elleanne Green, replied: “Very. no one is allowed in who is not trusted. I am very very careful, it is a secret group.”

So can you add people to a “secret” Facebook group without them knowing? It looks like it. This is on Facebook:

 

 

The bigger worry than any of this is why Jew hatred does not matter to Corbyn’s Labour? Why are they obsessed with Israel? Why is it okay for the Left to attack Jews if they can link their barbs to Israel – the skin between anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel is porous?

And another question: how does showing a Facebook group Corbyn was a member of stymie anti-Semitism? To work under the assumption that membership of a Facebook group with a low barrier to entry represents tacit endorsement of every view espoused in it can’t be helpful. It runs the risk of turning the need to call out anti-Semitism into a hunt for people saying things that, however horrible, should not be unsayable.

Posted: 22nd, March 2018 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment


30 police in 7 police vans arrest a toy trumpet player in Sheffield (video)

To Sheffield, where the Labour council has drawn up a list of 17,500 trees that must be killed. The trees, say the council, are dangerous. Many people disagree. But to prevent protestors saving healthy trees from the chop are lots and lots of police – as many as 30 officers can attend a single tree being felled.

And today the madness reached new heights.

@M_caveman tweets: “Here it is. 7 police vans, a CCTV van, 2 inspectors, 20-30 police – keeping our streets safe from a toy trumpet player. Unbelievable.’

It is.

 

What madness.

On 3 February 2018, this statement from Sheffield City Council was intended to make sense of the lunacy:

“We welcome todays statement by South Yorkshire Police’s Assistant Chief Constable, Dave Hartley, with regards to police support around our legitimate tree replacement works on the highway.

“Whilst we respect the right to campaign and protest peacefully, some members of the campaign group are now adopting increasingly violent tactics as well as breaching a high court injunction. This is simply not acceptable.”

See: plastic trumpet.

“It is disappointing that, on so many occasions, this unnecessary division in the city has led to on site activity shifting from peaceful protest to criminal behaviour and our priority must be to ensure the safety of the public and staff who are undertaking this work in increasingly dangerous and challenging situations.

“We once again ask that people respect the law to ensure this vital work, which will enable the upgrade of the city’s roads, pavements, street lights and bridges, can continue.”

The council is replacing mature trees of diverse species – cherry trees, lime trees and elm trees – with saplings. The existing trees are baring the brunt of a £2.2 billion plan to improve the city’s roads and pavements. But local residents are happy with the trees. And you can imagine the police are happy with getting paid to watch them. So why is his madness happening?

Posted: 22nd, March 2018 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Judge saves British Jews from Nazi pug

We should all be worried by Mark Meechan’s ordeal. The 30-year-old has been convicted of a hate crime – you know, one of those offences of the mind the Soviets dreamt up to keep people in line. Meechan’s offence was in teaching his girlfriend’s pug, Buddha, to raise its paw in the manner of a very small, squashed-face Nazi whenever he heard the words “gas the Jews” and “Sieg Heil”.

 

nazi pug

 

If this was an Alsatian on the end of a recreational Nazi’s rope in the shopping precinct, it’d be more pitiful that amusing. But the pug is such a soppy creature that to consider the tableaux threatening would be guilty of intellectualising the absurd.

To inure against the mentally negligible seeing the pug as a recruiting tool for a new Final Solution, Meechan told his video watchers: “My girlfriend is always ranting and raving about how cute and adorable her wee dog is so I thought I would turn him into the least cute thing that I could think of, which is a Nazi.”

The footage was uploaded to YouTube, where millions of people saw it. But when the police noticed the video those protectors of sound morals thought it “grossly offensive”.

So what if it is?

Anti-semitism is rife. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour is a cesspit of Jew hatred. A pug with a raised paw is not threatening. It’s ridiculous. Jews have endured many attempts to exterminate them. Their persistence is the stuff of historical fact. Chances are they’ll laugh off the jerking pug.

But there’s sanity and then there is law. And the law is here to teach us all a lesson. Meechan, of Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, was arrested, charged and put on trial at Airdrie Sheriff Court. He denied any wrong doing. He said he made the April 2016 video to annoy his girlfriend Suzanne Kelly, 29.

But Sheriff Derek O’Carroll found him guilty of a charge under the Communications Act for posting a video that was “anti-semitic and racist in nature”. It was aggravated by religious prejudice. What O’Carroll said should make us more afraid than Buddha’s raised paw:

“In my view it is a reasonable conclusion that the video is grossly offensive The description of the video as humorous is no magic wand. This court has taken the freedom of expression into consideration. But the right to freedom of expression also comes with responsibility… The accused knew that the material was offensive and knew why it was offensive. Despite that the accused made a video containing anti-Semitic content and he would have known it was grossly offensive to many Jewish people.”

Thanks for speaking up on behalf of the Jews, judge. But we can take care of ourselves. Free expression is bigger and more vital than your patronage. Leave Meechan alone. It’s every human’s right to offend. Anyone who’s never caused offence needs to try harder.

Ricky Gervais speaks for many: “A man has been convicted in a UK court of making a joke that was deemed ‘grossly offensive’. If you don’t believe in a person’s right to say things that you might find ‘grossly offensive’, then you don’t believe in Freedom of Speech.”

And you know who didn’t much like Freedom of Speech? Yeah. Nazis.

PS: Mark Meechan sentence will be passed at Airdrie Sheriff Court on 23 April.

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


Biased media won’t save Ant McPartlin from drink-drive shame

The Press has been very much on the side of Ant McPartlin, 42, “getting over an addiction to painkillers following knee surgery”; separated from his wife Lisa, to whom he is prepared to give half of “his fortune“; his condition connived into a campaign we all can take heart from, turning McPartlin from a man who deserves a private life into a role model; his plight told in his own words; a “source” assuring Sun readers that divorce would be “the right thing for his health.” This is “freakishly clean” Ant who in 2013 admitted to having taken drugs. Good old, Ant, then. But things have changed. Ant has been nicked for alleged drink driving.


ant mcpartlin drunk driving

 

McPartlin was arrested on suspicion of drink-driving when his car was involved in an accident in Richmond yesterday afternoon, not far from his London home. He allegedly failed a breathalyser test at the scene. He was taken into police custody at a South London police station.

Worse still: the Mini his Mini collided into was carrying a couple and a three-year-old girl. McPartlin was in the car with his mother, Christine.

Sympathy for Ant will be in shorter supply. But not yet. Old habits die hard. In the Press, the same old tired reporting holds sway. The Mail notes:

The divorce from his wife of 11 years is believed to be costing the star around £30 million of his estimated £60 million fortune.

His fortune. Not ‘their’ fortune.

And in the Sun:

After his rehab stint, which was revealed by The Sun On Sunday, Ant announced he was divorcing wife Lisa, 41, after 11 years of marriage. Legal experts say it could cost him £30million.

Let’s see how long this episode can be spun for?

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


Poor and white Telford girls are the wrong kind of victims

From Rochdale and Rotherham and Oxford, we’re now reading grim news of horrendous sexual abuse in Telford, Shropshire. The Mirror reports on the claims that over 1,000 girls, some as young as 11, were raped – three were murdered – by gangs of predominately Muslim, Asian-heritage men over four decades. Huge news, then. Or not.

 

Sunday Mirror TElford

Sunday Mirror – Telford

 

One day on from the story only the Daily Mail led with it.  No other paper thought it worth a front page, including the Guardian, which champions the #MeToo movement, and The Times, which went big with the story of how Damien Green MP allegedly touched Tory activist Kate Maltby’s knee and attempted to seduce her. Why is that the suffering of 1,000 beaten and raped young women and girls from an unfashionable part of the world is ignored but so much space is afforded to better off, better educated and better looking victims?

The world knows what actress Rose McGowan says she experienced at the hands of movie mogul and “monster” Harvey Weinstein, but we don’t know what happened to Charlene Downes, the poor, white girl who vanished in Blackpool, Lancashire. Maybe if she’d been seen in the company of a famous face, we would have?

 

Joanne Williams notes on the #KneeToo movement:

The lack of comment on the Telford abuse scandal exposes the hypocrisy at the heart of the #MeToo movement. High-profile campaigners announce time and again that they are not driven by self-interest, but from a desire to help women less fortunate than themselves. Jane Merrick told all because, ‘I knew that by failing to act I was letting down not only my 29-year-old self, but also any other women who may have been subjected to the same behaviour since. More importantly, I would be failing to protect other women in future.’ Kate Maltby made a similar declaration: ‘It is true that I have many privileges that other women do not. That is why I owed it to others to come forward. When we see white, financially secure women saying #MeToo, we should ask: where are the voices that we are not hearing?’ Yet Merrick and Maltby, for all their self-sacrifice and sisterly compassion, have so far had nothing to say about the rape of teenage girls in Telford.

Time’s Up, the celebrity #MeToo spin-off, launched a fundraiser to pay legal fees for victims of sexual harassment and assault seeking justice. The aim, it said, was to ‘lift up the voices, power and strength of women working in low-wage industries where the lack of financial stability makes them vulnerable to high rates of gender-based violence and exploitation’. More than $16.7million was raised in less than a month. The British actress Emma Watson, one of the most generous and high-profile donors, posted on social media: ‘The clock’s been ticking on the abuse of power. I stand in solidarity with women across every industry to say #TIMESUP on abuse, harassment, and assault. #TIMESUP on oppression and marginalisation.’ Only, it seems, some women are more deserving of solidarity than others; some women’s voices are more worthy of being lifted up.

Too true. The story has yet to catch. The Sun cover it lightly on page 27; and the Express on page 11. The Mail uses the horror to give the BBC a kick, citing MPS “from across the political divide” who accused the BBC of “failing to cover the Telford scandal adequately”. What is adequate for what one victim calls a “whirlwind of rape” meted out to her between the age of 14 and 18? The Mail has the story on page 22, after first covering news of a new Harry and Meghan TV movie and Ken Small’s painting, which looks a lot like a Canaletto, but isn’t. Even the Mirror has it on page 5.

 

It’s not all about #MeToo. It’s also about them.

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


Bradley Wiggins didn’t cheat and he never asked to be a national treasure

What would we think of Team Sky and Sir Bradley Wiggins if they were Russian, if the Tour de France winner and gold medal Olympian was a recipient of the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle the First-Called and not a knighthood? Would we roll out eyes, sneer and demand they get thee hence?

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee says Sir Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky “crossed an ethical line” by using drugs allowed under anti-doping rules to enhance performance instead of just for medical need. Our judgemental MPs are, however, “not in a position” to know the content of a jiffy bag delivered to Wiggins at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine. Team Sky says the jiggy bag contained a legal decongestant. But in the world of big-money sport, wherein vast sums are invested in shaving milliseconds off times and to give your athlete a ‘competitive’ advantage – lighter, stronger bikes; better fabrics; the most energy efficient nutrients; and the drugs – the proof was lacking and the MPs says there is “no “reliable evidence” to back up Team Sky’s claim.

“Drugs were being used by Team Sky, within World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) rules, to enhance the performance of riders and not just to treat medical need,” the DCMS committee report adds. Team Sky “strongly refutes” the “serious claim that medication has been used by the team to enhance performance”. Wiggins has also responded. “I find it so sad that accusations can be made, where people can be accused of things they have never done, which are then regarded as facts. I strongly refute the claim that any drug was used without medical need.”

Oh, and there’s more:

The long-awaited report, entitled “Combatting Doping in Sport”, also states Lord Coe, the president of athletics’ world governing body the IAAF, gave “misleading answers” in evidence about his knowledge of doping allegations in Russian athletics, before they were made in a German television documentary in 2014.

The DCMS committee was also “shocked” that British four-time Olympic champion athlete Sir Mo Farah received an injection of the legal supplement L-carnitine before the 2014 London Marathon that was not recorded on Farah’s medical records.

It’s what we don’t know that nags and pervades UK sport with a stink.

What was in that jiffy bag?

Former British Cycling and Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman received a ‘mystery package’ for Wiggins on 12 June 2011 – the final day of the Criterium du Dauphine in France, an event Wiggins won.

At the request of Freeman, Sutton arranged for then British Cycling coach Simon Cope to bring the package – he claims left for him in a sealed ‘jiffy-bag’ – out to La Toussuire for the end of the race.

Both Cope and Sutton deny knowing what was in the package, although Sutton told the committee he believes Freeman did administer the substance in it to Wiggins after the race, adding that Freeman had told him: “Brad’s been sorted.”

Ukad started an investigation into the contents of the package in September 2016, following an allegation, also seen by the DCMS committee, that it contained triamcinolone,

As the DCMS report notes, if Wiggins was given triamcinolone on 12 June 2011 without a TUE, it would constitute an anti-doping rule violation. Get caught misbehaving and you’re in line for a possible two-year ban and the loss of results. Wiggins won the Tour. In 2012 he won Olympic gold. But so what? “If” is not proof.

But there are records, right? There’s data on everything a top athlete does. So there are records of what was in the bag? After all, this is big money we’re talking about, to say nothing of athletes’ reputations. Er, no. Team Sky can’t produce the medical records. Say the MPs: “Such failure was unprofessional and inexcusable, and that failure is responsible for the damaging cloud of doubt which continues to hang over this matter.”

That there’s any doubt is shameful. It’s not like Team Sky had no warning.

Twelve years before, two months before the start of the 1999 Tour de France, US Postal team director Johan Bruyneel asked one of the team’s soigneurs, Emma O’Reilly, to travel from the south of France to Piles in Spain to pick up a medical product and take it to France before handing it on to Lance ­Armstrong.

O’Reilly never knew what the pills were but was sure they were not paracetamol. She met Armstrong in the car park of a McDonald’s restaurant outside Nice and handed over the drugs.

Lance Armstrong turned out to be a monumental cheat.

Team Says responds: “We take full responsibility for mistakes that were made. We wrote to the committee in March 2017 setting out in detail the steps we took in subsequent years to put them right, including, for example, the strengthening of our medical record keeping.”

Pad. Pen. Computers, Mobiles. Crayon. Paper. Photo copiers. Tablets. Faxes. Cameras. Memory sticks. Had only – had only – Team Sky kept some more records. But you live and you learn, eh.

The BBC:

In a letter revealed by the BBC in January, Ukad claimed its investigation had been “hindered” and may have even been “potentially compromised” by British Cycling’s failure to report doping allegations sooner.

The body criticised the “lack of accurate medical records” held by British Cycling. Freeman kept Wiggins’ medical records on a laptop that was stolen while he was on holiday in Greece in 2014, and no back-up copy was made.

Dang! Those foreign swine! But as the Greek police get on the case – those bungling clots have found nothing – we learn that Freeman” submitted written evidence for the report but was too unwell to appear at a DCMS hearing, before resigning from British Cycling in October because of ill health”. Let’s hope his own doctor keeps proper records and backs them up.

 

Winner of Sports Personality of the Year 2012, Bradley Wiggins accepts his award onstage from The Duchess of Cambridge during the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards 2012 at ExCeL Arena, London.

 

The upshot is that Wiggins, a supremely talented athlete possessed of incredible drive to succeed, is mired. He didn’t cheat. He didn’t ask to be knighted and feted by the great and good, turned from athlete to national treasure and a force for moral right. There’s a big stripe of subjectivity running through the story of drugs and Team Sky. Sport is all about rules. You find the limits by pushing. We’ve yet to see any proof that Team Sky broke them. But we have seen how the State latches on to sporting success. And we should wonder why.

As for what was suspected, David Walsh gave his Sunday Times readers the side-eye in September 2016. Walsh has been an invaluable source of news on competitive road cycling and Team Sky. So when he writes, we listen:

With the benefit of hindsight, there is irony in Wiggins expressing fears about other teams using needles when he was interviewed before the 2011 Tour. The day before he had received a 40mg injection of the corticosteroid triamcinolone acetonide. Freeman had made the application and supported it with testimony from ENT (ear, nose and throat) consultant Simon Hargreaves. Wiggins did suffer from asthma and had received three TUEs in 2009 that allowed him to inhale salbutamol and two other drugs. Inhalation of these drugs is not performance-enhancing and they can now be used without a TUE. A 40mg injection of triamcinolone is very different and though some experts claim it is not performance-enhancing, the experts by experience (bike riders who have abused it for decades) argue the opposite.

Twelve months later, four days before the start of the 2012 Tour de France, Wiggins received the same injection, 40mg of triamcinolone. Again it was Freeman who applied for the TUE, and UCI’s Mario ­Zorzoli’s name on the approval slip. Ten months later, 12 days before the start of the 2013 Giro d’Italia, another application for triamcinolone was granted.

A year later Wiggins won the 2014 Tour of California as his road racing career began to wind down. That victory came during California’s “hay fever season” but now there was no longer a need for a TUE.

But let’s not just look at cycling. British sport is reeling:

And to UK Athletics, whose former chief medical officer Dr Rob Chakraverty – now the Football Association’s chief doctor for the senior men’s England football team – the MPs want investigated by the General Medical Council (GMC), after being “shocked” he gave an injection of L-carnitine to athlete Sir Mo Farah without recording the dose on medical records.

The upshot is that British sport is a professional industry. Athletes, clubs, coaches and owners seek advantage where they can. It might not be in the Corinthian spirit to take drugs, but we do so love a winner.

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


Ashya King is cancer free: monstered parents rejoice in son’s life

Truly incredible and heartening news reaches us: Ashya King is cancer free. In 2014, the sane among us looked on aghast as the State declared that it not the parents knew what was best for the terminally ill child with a brain tumour.

Hampshire Police obtained a European arrest warrant for Ashya King’s parents, Brett and Naghmeh King, alleging “neglect”. The media saddled up and invited us to join the hunt for the family who’d removed their son from Southampton Hospital in defiance of doctors’ orders as they sought pioneering proton therapy on the Continent. The treatment was not offered in Britain. The Kings feared the chemotherapy and radiotherapy the NHS had scheduled for the son would leave him brain damaged or kill him.

As the police hunted the Kings, so did we. The Mirror said Ashya had just “24 hours” to live. Assistant chief constable Chris Shead told us: “It is vital that we find Ashya today. His health will deteriorate rapidly. Ashya is in a wheelchair and is fed through a tube. The feeding system is battery operated and that battery will run out today. He must continue to be fed through the tube by someone with the relevant medical training.”

The message was clear: the parents had placed their child in mortal danger. The Kings were oddball parents who belonged to “a millennial religious cult”. They must be stopped.  The Mirror, which was not alone in calling on us to nark on the Kings, told readers: “Anyone with information about Ashya’s whereabouts should contact Hampshire Constabulary on 101, quoting Operation Aquilion.”

It worked. Police got the Kings. The parents were arrested in Spain and locked up. Their five-year-old son was placed with strangers in protective custody. He was made a ward of court.

And then, after the police-enabled, media-amplified hatchet job had snared the Kings, the CPS withdrew the European arrest warrants against the blameless couple it had terrorised for daring to say ‘no‘. The Kings had not wilfully neglected their son. It was nonsense to say they had done. The Kings looked after their flesh and blood with skill and love. They had recharged the feeding tube’s battery and got him the right food. The family was freed. The High Court said they could take their son to Prague for proton therapy.

Fast forward to today and Brett King is reading a letter from the cancer specialist at Southampton General Hospital: “Dear Mr King… I am pleased to say there is no sign of any tumour recurrences and there is nothing that requires any urgent intervention.”

Who knows what’s best for you children, then? And why does the State assume it’s not the parents?

Posted: 3rd, March 2018 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


A Free Press Means No One ‘Guards the Guardians’

Good news, eh. The government will not implement the second stage of the Leveson Inquiry, which was due to investigate journalists’ relationship with the police. Moreover, the Government will not bring to bear the fearsome Section 40 of the crime and courts act. If implemented, Section 40 could have seen newspapers not signed up to the States’s Press regulator forced to pay legal costs in libel and privacy cases, even if they won. If you got to the bit about there being a State regulator for a free press and gaped, you’re among the majority who find it abhorrent.

Culture Secretary Matt Hancock says the “world had changed” since Leveson’s 2012 report into Press behaviour – when journalists were inspected and proprietors were impelled to explain themselves. The Press’s hypocrisy was clear to even the most monocular stooge. Things had gone badly wrong. But then the debate turned to what form compensation should take? How should we interpret the law-breaking that Leveson unveiled?

More questions are prompted. What is the role of the Press in an age when Government and business can talk directly the the people through the internet? A government communique is no longer news for an ‘insider’ hack to top and tail. Secret documents are leaked. Every football match is streamed, reducing fans’ reliance on informative match reports. TV listings are free – and you can make your own broadcast schedules on the likes of Netflix. In the multi-media age, one-media newspapers get desperate as they seek to add value. What’s the future of the diminished Press and should Leveson have focused more on the booming Internet?

The Press has been behaving better since all that phone hacking was exposed. On the other side of the fight, in which everyone in a powerful position has a dog, is Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson. He says the move is a “bitter blow to the victims of Press intrusion”. Watson says Hancock failed to “stand up to the tabloid-style newspapers who are propping up this government”. Snooty much, eh.

Hancock says tabloid-hating Watson is “tied up with the opponents of press freedom”. Does he mean Max Mosley, perhaps, who earlier this week was accused of having once supported racism, an allegation he denies? Mosley has donated over £500,000 to Mr Watson’s office (you should see the curtains). He has donated more big money to Impress, the official media regulator, set up in the aftermath of the Leveson Inquiry. The Labour Party is so sure it has nothing to worry about it has, er, said it will not accept further donations from Mosley.

So much for those holding the mic. But it’s not about them. At least it shouldn’t be. Let’s be in no doubt that this is victory for all of us. Tom Slater rightfully enjoys the moment:

When the government consultation into Section 40 and Leveson 2 was announced in January last year, spiked set up the #FreeThePress campaign, with a website that allowed readers to make their feelings known and respond to the inquiry. You did so in your thousands. And despite the press-regulation lobby’s ignoble efforts, our free-press submissions swamped theirs. The culture secretary Matt Hancock said yesterday that two-thirds of the mighty 174,000 responses said No to Section 40 and Leveson 2. You stood up for liberty, and won.

“The answer to the question of ‘Who guards the guardians?’ cannot be “No one”, asked Lord Leveson. Which makes me wonder: why does a free press need guards when laws on libel, privacy, contempt of court, privacy, conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and more already exist? And we should not forget that at the root of Leveson, the thing that sparked the whole story, criminal trials and the closure of one newspapers, was robust and rambunctious journalism.

Posted: 2nd, March 2018 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Max Mosley and the right to ask offensive questions

Most of us have never met press reform campaigner Max Mosley (and I’m including some members of the spanking community in that) nor his father, the fascist Oswald Mosley who married Diana Mitford in Joseph Goebbels’ drawing room. She was a woman dubbed “Hitler’s Angel”. Max knew her as ‘mum’. My own ancestors living in London’s Stepney and Whitechapel did have a run-in with Mosley Senior a while back, chiefly when in his guise as leader of the Black Shirts, the aristo and former Labour Party government minister wanted to march his gang of booted anti-Semites through Cable Street in East London. The aim was to intimidate the local Jews. Back then lots of people who didn’t much like the Nazi-styled Black Shirts disobeyed the law by turning out in force, blocked the march and won the day. Officialdom did sod all to protect them. “It was a victory for the united people of the East End.”

Our bloodlines, however, have not crossed since. I know what I know of Mosley and his family by reading and hearing about them. Eventually, I might even form an opinion on Max from looking at the press, TV and books. “The questions raised by the desire to know are in principle all answerable by common-sense experience and common-sense reasoning,” wrote Hannah Arendt. We read a lot of things. We think about them, debate them and, through reason, try to reach the truth.

And today we get to know a bit more about Max Mosley. He’s back in the news. The Times says Mosley “is facing questions about whether he lied to the High Court after the discovery of a racist political leaflet published in his name”.

The 1961 document links leprosy, venereal disease and tuberculosis to “coloured immigration” and argues that Jamaicans should be sent back home. Mr Mosley, the former Formula One boss turned press reform campaigner, was questioned about the leaflets during his 2008 High Court privacy case against the News of the World.

Under oath, he said that he did not recall putting out election literature urging voters to send black people home. He also explicitly denied that any leaflets from the 1961 campaign accused immigrants of bringing leprosy, syphilis and TB, saying: “That is absolute nonsense.”

Confronted with a copy of one of the leaflets last night, he rejected the “offensive suggestion” that he lied under oath and appeared to question if it was genuine. “If it is genuine, it doesn’t reflect my views today,” he said during a combative live appearance on Channel 4 News. “This was in 1961. I ceased to have any involvement in my father’s movement in 1963.”

Here he is on Channel 4 news:

 

 

The part about Tom Watson is of interest.  The Deputy leader says a Labour Government would set up Leveson II and enforce state-backed press regulation. So much for a free press. The State will decide what is and what is not fit and proper for you to read. No need for reason when the State does the thinking for you. You’ll be free to think about other stuff, like ‘How the hell did this happen?’, ‘Isn’t it great that we all agree on everything’ and “Why is fake news now the only news?’

Spotting error is essential to solving problems and progress. Stymie expression – the right to make mistakes – and we are all isolated from one another and diminished. As the philosopher Karl Popper noted:

In spite of everything, and although we have had so many failures, we, the citizens of the western democracies, live in a social order which is better (because more favourably disposed to reform) and more just than any other in recorded history. Further improvements are of the greatest urgency. (Yet improvements that increase the power of the state often bring about the opposite of what we are seeking.)

 

Max Mosley racism

 

The story is on the cover of the Mail. It begins with a question. And for what it’s worth, I’d cede to Betteridge’s Law of headlines: “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word ‘no’.”

The Mail focuses on Mosley’s relationship with the media:

He has bankrolled Labour deputy leader Tom Watson and Impress — the State-approved media watchdog which critics say opens the door to statutory control of the Press…

Mr Mosley has also pledged £3.8 million via a family trust to fund Impress, the controversial Press regulator which is underwritten by statute and supported by Mr Watson and the pressure group Hacked Off, but shunned by the newspaper industry which views it as a threat to freedom of expression.

The Guardian notes the response:

“It appears that the historical investigation pursued by the Daily Mail is yet another misconceived attempt to intimidate and deter me. I will continue to campaign for the vital reforms needed to protect ordinary people against the bullying of newspapers like the Daily Mail.”

In response to the leaflet, Watson told the Mail: “My views on press regulation are well known and have not changed. The views expressed by Max as a young man are not the views he holds now, just as the Rothermere family no longer uses its newspapers to support fascism.”

 

Max Mosley racism

 

And so there it is. A free Press is the right to report things people of power and influence don’t want you to know. It’s the right to cause offence. More power to it. And more power to anyone who can prove it wrong by establishing their facts as authentic and true. After all, our desire is to know the truth and therein become better.

PS:

 

If we are now all citizen journalists – something Jeremy Corbyn is keen to foster as he invites “non-journalists” from outside the hated mainstream media (see Trump. D) to ask him questions – will each of us with a social media account need to sign up to State regulation for our right to publish tweets and Facebook posts? A vibrant field of open debate will end when the State is the only one holding the mic.

Posted: 28th, February 2018 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Americans Are Odd – Why Execute A Terminal Cancer Patient?

There are times when it appears that the transatlantic cousins are more than a little odd. Their preoccupation with guns puzzles many this side of the Pond for example, their continuing love affair with executions meets with the approval of the vox populi over here if not with those who rule us. But seriously, who tries to execute a terminal cancer patient?

Part of this they did get right:

An execution in the US was aborted last week after the inmate was left with 10 puncture wounds when medical personnel were unable to find a vein after two and a half hours of trying. The failed attempts left behind a bloodied death chamber, the inmate’s lawyer said.

No, that’s getting it right. The purpose of the death penalty is to put the Fear of God into those who might commit a serious crime. A blood spattered execution chamber aids in doing that so why not? In fact, there’s a good argument that if a death penalty we’re going to have then the more public and gory it is the better. Why go with private and peaceful like a lethal injection in a prison when we could have breaking on the wheel in the public square? Evisceration perhaps? Either would be more of a deterrent.

But then there’s the part that they got wrong:

In court filings in the days before the planned execution, Hamm’s lawyers said he had terminal cancer and a history of intravenous drug use that had severely compromised his veins.

Yes the drug use will have made the injection more difficult. But the terminal cancer would make it unnecessary as well. In fact, why bother with the rigmarole at all?

It’s fairly well known that a death from cancer isn’t a pretty nor enjoyable one. That’s why those who die that way tend to go out on a cloud of morphine – these days perhaps the much stronger fentanyl. A prisoner whose veins can’t be found isn’t going to be getting useful amounts of either of those drugs now, is he? So, why bother with the execution?

Why not just with hold treatment for the cancer, including pain relief, and allow nature to get on with the rest of it? Possibly film it as an example to others?

For if we’re going to have death as a disincentive to crime then let’s make those deaths as awful as possible so as to increase the disincentive, the precautionary effect. And if we’re not doing it so as to dissuade people, as gorily as possible, then why in hell are we doing it in the first place?

Posted: 26th, February 2018 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


London Council bans fat children from climbing trees without a ‘reasonable excuse’

London’s Wandsworth Council wants to ban anyone from climbing a tree in the borough. Unless you have a “reasonable excuse”, climbing a tree could cost you a £500 fine. It’s all part of a range of new bylaws being proposed throughout Wandsworth to “protect the borough’s parks from criminal damage, anti-social behaviour and vandalism”.

How’s that Olympic legacy going?

The council says that’s nonsense. It says the new rules are “nothing” to do with “curtailing childrens’ enjoyment in any way and will help the council run its parks effectively as possible for the enjoyment all residents, especially children.”

Councillor Jonathan Cook, Cabinet Member for Community Services, says: “Stopping a child from flying a kite or climbing a tree, as has been suggested in some quarters this week, certainly will not be how we want to see the bylaws used.”

So the rules can be used to stop people climbing trees? The rules are open-ended and vague?

“Council set to ban ‘annoying’ tree climbing and kite flying,” says the Times. Paul Hocker, director of the charity London Play, says: “They are bolstering their huge bank reserves by fining children for climbing trees or flying a kite in the park.”

The council says Hocker et al are “misinformed”. Really?

The London Evening Standard reports:

Along with tree climbing, such traditional outdoor pursuits as kite flying or a knockabout game of cricket – along with other pursuits considered “annoying” to others – could fall foul of the regulations.

The borough’s previous 27-point list drawn up in 1924 will be replaced with 49 new diktats, including bans on metal detectors and remote control model boats on ponds…

The rules will be enforced by civilian park police – who dress like the Met officers with a kit of stab vests, handcuffs and bodycams, but lack their powers.

In the Mail, we hear from an insider:

A council spokesman told MailOnline: “A six-year-old child climbing a tree is one thing but an 18-stone rugby player who might damage the tree by breaking the branches is another.”

What about an 18-stone child? And why can’t a big lad climb a tree? Why do children get more rights than adults?

“That is the sort of behaviour we are trying to discourage. We have had people badly injury themselves in the past.”

So what? Adults knows the risks. Children find ways of working out their limits. We’ll take freedom over banning orders, thanks.

“It’s not about stopping children from playing innocent games or engaging in healthy, outdoors activities, it’s about making the spaces more enjoyable for everyone.”

The Express and Star also rehash the same Times report. But no paper lists the 47 new “diktats”. Under the heading “Wandsworth Council parks and open spaces bye-laws –  Laws governing the use of our parks, gardens and open spaces”, the council tells us what fun we can all have in the fresh-ish air (still free at the point of delivery!).

 

No Running in the non-running zone:

 

Make your babies walk! 

 

 

No Sliding – on ice?

 

 

Vagrants raus! Go to the library. Do not soil the grass:

 

 

Sod it. Safer – and cheaper – to stay in doors and watch it all on the telly. Pass the blankets, mum.

 

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


Justin Forsyth resigns from Unicef – man loses his job over text messages

john forstyth

 

Another successful hit for the anti-harassment police as Unicef chief Justin Fortyth falls on his (pork) sword and resigns. The former chief executive of Save the Children says his past must not “damage” the charities that allegedly coseted him.

Forsyth was accused of “inappropriate” behaviour towards three female colleagues – a “barrage” of texts and comments about their looks. He “apologised unreservedly” to the three women at the time. Save The Children investigated him twice. He left, scored a new job at Unicef and life rolled on. But when the story became news just a few days ago, his career was mired. Justice in the age of #MeToo is mercilessly swift. He’s gone.

“They were dealt with through a proper process many years ago,” Forsyth says in a statement about the complaints an their handling. “There is no doubt in my mind that some of the coverage around me is not just to (rightly) hold me to account, but also to attempt to do serious damage to our cause and the case for aid.” (For “aid”, read: politics, party, movie, the BBC, TV series,  gender and more.)

Conservative MP Pauline Latham, a member of the House of Commons’ International Development committee, reacts: “But what I’m more concerned about is the fact he has been able to work for as long as he did. It is shocking. The more I hear about it the more shocked I am. It’s terrible for the UK charity sector. It will take a lot of getting over.”

Should we be more shocked that a woman who represents us in the combative world of party politics is shocked by a man sending sleazy tests and making lewd comments? If that shocks her, what does the war in Syria do to her constitution?

Brie O’Keefe, a former employee at Save the Children, tells BBC’s Newsnight: “One of the things that kept many of us from speaking out earlier was a desire to protect the organisation that we loved.”

So much for justice, then. Less #MeToo than #ThoseBastards.

The rest of us might also wonder how one man’s unwelcome comments, for which he apologised, are linked to Oxfam’s depravity? The charity allegedly covered up and protected staffers who aided local women – some allegedly underage (child rape, then?) – escape the horrors of witnessing hundreds of thousands killed and millions made without basic needs following the 2010 earthquake by paying them for sex. The BBC makes the link explicit. In its comment on Forsyth, the BBC slips in the line: “Meanwhile, Haiti has suspended Oxfam GB operations in the country, as it investigates claims of sexual misconduct by staff in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake.”

The office creep is linked to Oxfam staff going to a poor foreign country and using their piles of money and power to debase the locals to such a degree that, it’s alleged, they arranged “meat barbecues” (orgies) in which the women wore Oxfam T-shirts.

Forsyth is right about one thing: this amplification of any sort of harassment into a scandal that rides high at the top of the news cycle is creating an unhealthy atmosphere of mistrust. The most authoritarian voices are holding the mic. The rest of us should worry about where it’s all leading?

Posted: 23rd, February 2018 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Jennifer Lawrence’s puckered flesh gives Red Sparrow a leg up

Jennifer Lawrence showed some skin as she lined up with her Red Sparrow co-stars for a press call. The men showed no skin. The Mail  says the looks sparked “controversy on social media”. Helen Lewis, for one, was upset by what came to be called – get this – “WarmCoatGate”.

 

 

Not that Lewis, the Deputy editor @newstatesman, was outside to promote a film. Some clothes are best for popping to shops, others are good for gardening or climbing Everest. Some are good at getting attention.

The Mail couldn’t resist editorialising, telling readers that Jennifer Lawrence “appears to be shivering in a plunging Versace dress”. You can tell if someone’s shivering from a still? Maybe the cold is why the four man are all sporting coats and beards. Maybe the beards are viewed as part of what it is to be a man, just as Lawrence’s cleavage is essentially feminine?

Lawrence got wind of people voicing their disapproval. “This is not only utterly ridiculous, I am extremely offended,” she writes on Facebook. “That Versace dress was fabulous, you think I’m going to cover that gorgeous dress up with a coat and a scarf? I was outside for 5 minutes. I would have stood in the snow for that dress because I love fashion and that was my choice.”

Get a load of all that freedom. And then get another big stinky load of the righteous trying to work out if you can have freedom and enforced equality.

In other news: attractive actress in revealing dress gets film lots of attention. Read all about it!

Posted: 22nd, February 2018 | In: Celebrities, Film, Key Posts, News | Comment


Arsenal balls: Lacazette’s talking knee changes time

With Trinity Mirror’s purchase of the Daily Express and Daily Star, football fans who get their news online can expect a tag-team movement of total balls. All titles use their websites as clickbait farms. The latest tosh involves Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette, who has, says the Mirror,  “given an update on his recovery from a knee injury”.

In its dash for clicks, the Mirror tells readers approaching via Google’s bots that Lacazette is bidding “for a quick recovery” (as opposed to hoping for a slow recovery and lots of sick pay and daytime telly?), illustrating the teaser with a photo of Arsenal’s Hector Bellerin and, er,  Robbie Lyle, presenter of the entertaining Arsenal Fan TV

 

lacazette arsenal

 

Clicking into the story and readers are told Lacazette will be sidelined for “up to five weeks”. Arsene Wenger’s words to BeIn Sports that Lacazette could be out for “four or five weeks” are repeated. There’s no word on any “quick recovery”. That much is utter balls.

And then this spot some time illiteracy:

A return date on the pitch could occur against either West Ham on April 21 or Manchester United on April 28 with a return to first team training likely to begin at the start of April.

Lacazette underwent surgery on February 12. Four or five weeks after that take us up to mid March. Even if you add on a few days from the operation until Wenger spoke, Lacazette still looks likely to return well before April.

But having spun a nonsense story from a single photo of Lacazette’s poorly knee as he work out in the Arsenal gym – one taken by the player and posted to his Instagram page – the Mirror’s clickbait expert needs to hit his word count. So we get this:

Until Lacazette’s return, Wenger will put his faith in Aubameyang, though the Gabon striker is unable to help in their quest to win the Europa League. Despite overcoming Ostersund 3-0 in the first leg of the round of 32 tie, a probable last 16 tie will occur on March 8 and 13, with a potential quarter-final on April 5 and 12.

That means Arsenal’s most probable route back into the Champions League will rest on Danny Welbeck’s form.

No. It won’t because Arsenal are not a one-man team and Lacazettte will be back in March. In addition, the last 16 ties will be played on March 8 and 15. March 12 is a Monday. Europa League ties are played on Thursdays.

Apart from the story being factually inaccurate and based on total balls, it is spot on.

PS: But there is good news. Cop a load of the ads that wrapped around the balls. We counted – get this – 23 ads on this one story.

 

 

 

It’s almost as if the words are just a trick to make you see lots and lots and lots of ads…

Posted: 21st, February 2018 | In: Arsenal, Key Posts, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Red trolls in Purple States: how Russia defeated democracy

 

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

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

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

The Guardian tell us:

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

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

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

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

Here was one reaction from the mouth-breathing colonials:

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

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

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

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


Police and Travelodge view men as suspected paedophiles

Are we more suspicious of adults then ever? “One minute I was brushing my teeth, the next I was being told I was a paedophile,” says Karl Pollard, whose ordeal began when he checked into a Travelodge with his 14-year-old daughter, Stephanie.

Staff at the Travelodge in Macclesfield, Cheshire, didn’t much like the look of the 46-year-old, in town to visit his ill mother. “When we arrived the receptionist gave me a weird look but I thought nothing of it,” he says. “We went up to the room to get unpacked and ready to see my mum. It was only a 20-minute walk away, which is why I chose the hotel. About 10 minutes later there was a knock at the door. A policewoman was standing there. I thought something had happened to my mum or my wife. But she said, ‘We’ve had a call from Travelodge, they believe you are a paedophile grooming underage girls’.”

The police like to “believe” terrible things are “credible and true“.

“I explained to her [the police officer who interviewed them separately] that I was Stephanie’s dad. The officer had to ask her loads of questions to prove it. My mum has just been diagnosed with aggressive lung cancer. We’re not sure how long she has left. I wanted to take Stephanie down to visit her before she started treatment.”

Mr Pollard’s, Stephanie’s mother, wasn’t with them because she has multiple sclerosis.

“My daughter was in tears. She was so scared – and thought I was going to get taken away,” he adds.

Travelodge then endeavours to explain, offering a classic non-apology apology, containing the prerequisite sympathetic back story and a dash of moral smugness:

“All our hotel teams are trained according to national guidelines supported by the NSPCC. In the past proactive action by our hotel teams has helped to safeguard young people at risk. In this instance we got it wrong.”

And you thought they just operated budget hotels. Turns out they’re an arm of the purpose-seeking police, who view men as potential threats to children. It’s sound and rational to be worried by men.

Cheshire Police then offer: “Police were called at 3pm on Thursday 8 February to reports of suspicious activity at a hotel on Waters Green in Macclesfield.”

Who was acting suspiciously? Mr Pollard and his daughter weren’t. Unless, you’ve invested in the notion that all adults are suspects.

“Staff at the Travelodge did the right thing by reporting what they believed to be suspicious activity to officers, although thankfully there was nothing untoward and it turned out to be a misunderstanding.”

Good to know the police approve of innocent men being treated as suspects first whose innocence needs to be established. don’t trust one another. Trust only in the police and the State.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Goldring adds:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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


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

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

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

Mr McDonnell told BBC Radio 4’s Today earlier:

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

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

He went on:

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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


Judge rules: Taylor Swift’s lyrics are too ‘banal’ and ‘unoriginal’ to copyright

Taylor Swift’s lyrics are too banal to copyright. US Judge Michael W Fitzgerald has ruled in a case of alleged copyright infringement against the singer.

Songwriters Sean Hall and Nathan Butler claimed Swift’s song Shake It Off stole from their tune Playas Gon’ Play. They argued that Swift’s lyric relied on their lyric, “playas, they gonna play, and haters, they gonna hate.”

 

taylor swift banal

Shakers gotta shake; makers gotta make; takers gotta take

 

 

Fitzgerald was unimpressed. His ruling is golden:

As reflected in Defendants’ RJN, and as Plaintiffs acknowledge, by 2001, American popular culture was heavily steeped in the concepts of players, haters, and player haters. Although Plaintiffs recognize as much, they allege that they “originated the linguistic combination of playas/players playing along with hatas/haters hating…” Plaintiffs explain that the plethora of prior works that incorporated “the terms ‘playa’ and hater together all revolve about the concept of ‘playa haters’” – a “playa” being “one who is successful at courting women,” and a “playa hater” being “one who is notably jealous of the ‘playas’” success.”… Plaintiffs explain that Playas Gon’ Play “used the terms in the context of a third party, the narrator of a song who is neither a ‘playa’ nor a hater, stating that other people will do what they will and positively affirming that they won’t let the judgment of others affect them.

Isn’t it great.

The concept of actors acting in accordance with their essential nature is not at all creative; it is banal. In the early 2000s, popular culture was adequately suffused with the concepts of players and haters to render the phrases “playas … gonna play” or “haters … gonna hate,” standing on their own, no more creative than “runners gonna run,” “drummers gonna drum,” or “swimmers gonna swim.” Plaintiffs therefore hinge their creativity argument, and their entire case, on the notion that the combination of “playas, they gonna play” and “haters, they gonna hate” is sufficiently creative to warrant copyright protection…

Looking at this this case from a potentially-protectable-short-phrase perspective, the lyrics in question are not sufficiently creative to warrant protection… Even if, as Plaintiffs contend, Plaintiffs were the first to employ the concepts of players playing and haters hating for the purpose of expressing “the idea of not concerning yourself with what other people do and think” …  the allegedly-infringed lyrics consist of just six relevant words – “playas … gonna play” and “haters … gonna hate.” In order for such short phrases to be protected under the Copyright Act, they must be more creative than the lyrics at issue here.

As discussed above, players, haters, and player haters had received substantial pop culture attention prior to 2001. It is hardly surprising that Plaintiffs, hoping to convey the notion that one should persist regardless of others’ thoughts or actions, focused on both players playing and haters hating when numerous recent popular songs had each addressed the subjects of players, haters, and player haters, albeit to convey different messages than Plaintiffs were trying to convey. In short, combining two truisms about playas and haters, both well-worn notions as of 2001, is simply not enough.

At the hearing, Plaintiffs’ counsel offered alternative (very clunky) formulations of pairing a noun with its intransitive verb, thereby suggesting that “[noun] gonna [verb]” was creative in itself. While clever, this argument does not persuade. The argument ultimately only makes sense if the use of “gonna” as a contraction of “is going to” is sufficiently creative, or (as discussed above) one can claim creativity in asserting that a type of person acts in accordance with his or her inherent nature. To explicitly state the argument is to see how banal the asserted creativity is.

In sum, the lyrics at issue – the only thing that Plaintiffs allege Defendants copied – are too brief, unoriginal, and uncreative to warrant protection under the Copyright Act. In light of the fact that the Court seemingly “has before it all that is necessary to make a comparison of the works in question” … the Court is inclined to grant the Motion without leave to amend. However, out of an abundance of caution, the Court will allow Plaintiffs one opportunity to amend, just in case there are more similarities between Playas Gon’ Play and Shake it Off than Plaintiffs have alleged thus far (which Plaintiffs’ counsel did not suggest at the hearing). If there are not, the Court discourages actual amendment. The more efficient course would be for Plaintiffs to consent to judgment being entered against them so that they may pursue an appeal if they believe that is appropriate.

Judges gotta judge.

Posted: 14th, February 2018 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, News | Comment


US school bans To Kill a Mockingbird and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

To Minnesota, where the local censors have banned students from studying copies of To Kill a Mockingbird and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Anyone reading either book will be “humiliated or marginalised” by the language therein. (Yeah, they’re that good. Stick a ‘censored’ and ‘explicit lyrics’ label on them and watch the cool kids lap it up.)

The Duluth school district will allow the texts to sit on shelves in the libraries, but they won’t be on the curriculum for ninth and 11th-grade English classes, reports the Bemidji Pioneer. Pupils that age – and we’re talking about 16-year-olds – just can’t handle it.

Duluth’s director of ‘curriculum and instruction’ Michael Cary says he wants to “teach the same lessons” as To Kill a Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn in other ways, perhaps with finger puppets, cotton wool and the great American hashtag. Anti-racist texts, see, should contain no hint of the racism they’re satirising and destroying, in much the same way that books on World War 2 should feature no examples of anti-Jewish rhetoric, and histories of the US Civil War contain no violence and examples of ‘hate speech’. The past is the past. If history is not to be repeated it must be forgotten.

“We felt that we could still teach the same standards and expectations through other novels that didn’t require students to feel humiliated or marginalised by the use of racial slurs,” says Carey.

Oddly, this mollycoddling is supported by the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, whose regional president Stephan Witherspoon thinks the books are “just hurtful” and use “hurtful language that has oppressed the people for over 200 years”.

“It’s wrong,” he decrees. “There are a lot more authors out there with better literature that can do the same thing that does not degrade our people. I’m glad that they’re making the decision and it’s long overdue, like 20 years overdue. Let’s move forward and work together to make school work for all of our kids, not just some, all of them.”

Now school’s not working for any of them. Which is surely what equality is all about. Oh, brave new world.

Posted: 13th, February 2018 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Whoops! Just like Iraq WMD goes missing in Syria

The use of sarin was Barack Obama’s “red line”. You can shoot, stab, and smash them with barrel bombs, but using chemical weapons to kill Syrians is bad.

The use of chemical weapons turned Syria’s embattled dictator Bashar al-Assad’s war against the rebels into a war crime. He must be stopped because it “is not just that President Assad might start using his chemical arsenal in much greater quantities… [but also] the prospect of it falling into even less benign hands.”

It’s not about ending the war in Syria; it’s about preventing us being next. It was also a connived argument against intervention – we only go if there are people being killed by poisoned gas. Starvation and a lack of medial aid for the critically ill exacerbated by armed blockades are morally superior ways to die.

 

 

There were impassioned calls for intervention:

There are no good choices — good outcomes in Syria are impossible to imagine. But if it is proved to a certainty that Assad is trying to kill his people with chemical weapons, then Obama may have no choice but to act, not only because he has put the country’s credibility on the line (Iran and North Korea are undoubtedly watching closely), but also because the alternative — allowing human beings to be murdered by a monstrous regime using the world’s most devilish weapons, when he has the power to stop it — is not a moral option for a moral man.

As Time noted: “Rebels’ use of chemical weapons] could force Obama into the deeper engagement he has long resisted: the alarming prospect that radical Islamists could acquire Syrian chemical weapons and try to use them beyond Syria’s borders, perhaps even within the US.”

Just as Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction led us into Iraq, WMDs would pull us into action in Syria.

You might wonder if WMD gases are more potent than conventional method of mass killing, as one expert told The Register: “Far from possessing any special deadliness, chemical warheads are less potent than ordinary conventional-explosive ones. Calling them “WMD”, which suggests they are in some way equivalent to nuclear bombs, is simply ridiculous.’ He concluded: ‘So, if your aim is to kill and injure as many people as possible, you’d be a fool to use chemicals. And yet chemicals are rated as WMD, while ordinary explosives aren’t.”

But there is no time to pause and consider the facts. We are 45-minutes from certain death. We must go in now.

We never did find any WMD in Iraq. And now news reaches us that more big weapons have vanished in the Middle East.  Newsweek reports:

Lost in the hyper-politicized hullabaloo surrounding the Nunes Memorandum and the Steele Dossier was the striking statement by Secretary of Defense James Mattis that the U.S. has “no evidence” that the Syrian government used the banned nerve agent Sarin against its own people…

Serious, experienced chemical weapons experts and investigators such as Hans Blix, Scott Ritter, Gareth Porter and Theodore Postol have all cast doubt on “official” American narratives regarding President Assad employing Sarin.

The bigger question is how this sectarian war in Syria came to be about America and us?

Posted: 12th, February 2018 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment


Poland absolves itself of all complicity in the Holocaust

The letter from the Polish League Against Defamation informed us: “There were only camps established by Germany in German-occupied Poland. The proper reference to the German camps therefore is as follows:

– German camps in German-occupied Poland

– German Nazi camps in German-occupied Poland

– German camps in Nazi-occupied Poland

– Nazi camps in German-occupied Poland.”

It is “gravely false and highly defamatory” to call the Nazi camps in German-occupied Poland “Polish death camps”, or any variant thereof.

Poland’s president Andrzej Duda has signed-off a law that that makes it criminal to suggest his country supported Nazi war crimes during the 1939-1945 occupation. The new law, he reasons, maintains Poland’s “dignity and historical truth”. If you call Auschwitz a  “Polish death camp” you could be fined or imprisoned for three years.

“All the atrocities and all the victims, everything that happened during World War II on Polish soil, has to be attributed to Germany,” says Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. “We will never be accused of complicity in the Holocaust. This is our ‘to be or not to be’… This law is not going to limit speech, not even one iota.”

Germany is on side.

“Without directly interfering in the legislation in Poland, I would like to say the following very clearly as German chancellor: We as Germans are responsible for what happened during the Holocaust, the Shoah, under National Socialism (Nazism),” said Angela Merkel in her weekly video podcast.

German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel states: “This organized mass murder was carried out by our country and no one else. Individual collaborators change nothing about that. We are convinced that only carefully appraising our own history can bring reconciliation. That includes people who had to experience the intolerable suffering of the Holocaust being able to speak unrestrictedly about this suffering.”

But how can any law banning words and opinions enable unrestricted speech?

Peter Muchlinski, SOAS, University of London, UK, notes: “There are fears that the law would put virtually every Jewish survivor of the Holocaust in Poland at risk of prosecution. I’ve read hundreds of survivors’ testimonies, yet I do not recall a single one where the writer has not described an episode of betrayal, blackmail or denunciation on the part of their fellow Polish citizens.”

Is something more in this?

Poland’s lower house of parliament endorsed the new legislation on January 26, the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Why then?

Many Poles helped Jews during the war. They were brave and righteous. If caught, they faced execution by the Nazis.

Morawiecki was touring the Ulma Family Museum of Poles Saving Jews in Markowa when he spoke.

The Markowa museum, which opened in 2016, stands near the place where German soldiers in 1944 killed Jozef Ulma, his pregnant wife Wiktoria and their six small children, as well as eight members of the Goldman, Gruenfeld and Didner families that the Ulmas were sheltering.

Mateusz Szpytma, deputy director of the museum, said it is estimated that between 700 and 1,100 Poles were murdered by the Germans for helping Jews during the war.

At the Yad Vashem Holocaust remembrance center in Jerusalem, 6,706 Poles are honoured for their role in helping Jews.

Facts are vital. But how are they established if not through free speech and free expression? It’s a perverted sense of liberty that advances freedom in negative terms – a freedom from ideas, speech and words, rather than the pursuit of a positive freedom to speak and to challenge. From “Arbeit macht frei”, the sick message that hung over the gate to Auschwitz, the message to today’s Poles is “Gesetz macht dich frei”, the law will provide.

Arkady Rzegocki, Polish ambassador to the UK, writes to the Times:

The new law does not set a precedent. Legislation penalising, for example, Holocaust denial is also reflected in the legal systems of other European countries.

Absurd, of course. Don’t try to understand why and how? Just dip the Holocaust in aspic and serve it as an orthodoxy to be consumed. Only bigots and berks deny the Holocaust and make liars of the millions murdered and everyone who knew them. That speech is trammelled on pain of law to protect the sane and reasoned from the foolish, biased and people who prefer the other side in the war is a sadness that undermines free speech, elevates the losers to something too close to martyrdom and presents Germans, French and anyone else living where Holocaust denial is a crime as mass-murderers-in-waiting, people for whom the Holocaust is not a horror but a neatly-packaged slice of history that were it not for banning orders most would consider an experiment worth revisiting.

You wonder who it is the authorities really hate and fear?

Rzegocki continues:

According to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of Holocaust denial, this is not only a denial that the Holocaust took place, but also a distortion of historical truth about its perpetrators and its circumstances. We believe that the truth about German death camps and the cruel reality of the German occupation of Poland is a part of the Holocaust’s history, and see the new law as complementary to the existing world regulation on Holocaust denial.

“World regulation on Holocaust denial”. To anyone who supports free speech, that line is chilling.

And now for some more context. The Guardian spots another landmark to Jewish persecution:

One lesser-known memorial is a small plaque on the wall of the Warszawa Gdańska railway station, a nondescript socialist-era building on the north side of the city. It was from here that many Poles of Jewish origin departed in the wake of the “anti-Zionist campaign” in March 1968, when cold war politics and a power struggle within the Polish Communist party led to an antisemitic propaganda campaign forcing thousands of Polish Jews to leave the country.

“Loyalty to socialist Poland and imperialist Israel is not possible simultaneously,” prime minister Józef Cyrankiewicz had declared in 1968. “Whoever wants to face these consequences in the form of emigration will not encounter any obstacle.” The plaque bears a tribute from the Polish-Jewish writer Henryk Grynberg: “For those who emigrated from Poland after March 1968 with a one-way ticket. They left behind more than they had possessed.”

And this:

Ruling party officials have claimed the row has been confected by Jewish advocacy groups seeking compensation for property restitution claims. An editorial on the rightwing TV Republika website described the crisis as “a big test of loyalty for the Polish Jews whose organisations are linked personally and institutionally with American Jews”, and accused them of “too rarely and too weakly defending Poland and the Poles in the international arena”.

“They want to break us – it’s about sovereignty, truth and money,” read the cover of Sieci, a weekly that has close ties to Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party.

DW adds:

Andrzej Zybertowicz, an adviser to Polish President Andrzej Duda, said Israel’s negative reaction to the law stemmed from what he called a “feeling of shame at the passivity of the Jews during the Holocaust.”

Zybertowicz called Israel’s opposition to the new law “anti-Polish” and said it shows the Mideast nation is “clearly fighting to keep the monopoly on the Holocaust.”

“Many Jews engaged in denunciation, collaboration during the war. I think Israel has still not worked it through,” Zybertowicz said in the interview in The Polska-The Times newspaper on Friday.

Two words in reply: never forget.

Posted: 11th, February 2018 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment