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Being dead breaches Paypal’s contract terms

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

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

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

Well, yes and no actually:

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

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

It’s badly worded, that’s true.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Brexit plan revealed: let’s invade the EU

brexit and the battle for democracy

 

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

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

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

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


Cannabis: a cruel law pauses for Billy Caldwell

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who would you trust?

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


World Cup Watch: Daily Mail singles out Sterling for criticism

Raheem sterling england colombia

Raheem Sterling is rubbish in the Daily Mail

 

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

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

 

Raheem sterling england colombia

Sterling was “dangerous” in the Daily Mirror

 

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

 

Raheem sterling england colombia

The Sun

Raheem sterling england colombia

The Sun says Sterling was “lively”

 

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

 

Raheem sterling england colombia

Sterling is “lively” in the Daily Express

 

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

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

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

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


World Cup: Gareth Southgate meets with triumph and disaster

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

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

Sometimes the nice bloke wins:

 

 

Can England win the World Cup? Yes.

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

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

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

A win and confidence becomes contagious.

 

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


Peter Firmin: remembering The Clangers, Bagpuss and their creator

peter-firmin bagpuss

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

As for Mr Firmin:

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

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

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

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

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

The BFI:

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

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

 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

haim gender pay gap

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Brexit is good news for Northern Irish potheads

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

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

And there it is again:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

 

Church Spain restoration St George

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

 

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

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


After Gosport let’s rip up the NHS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tim Black notes that questioning the NHS is heresy:

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

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

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


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

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

 

Dr Jane Barton

 

Dr Jane Barton

 

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

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

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

 

Dr Jane Barton

 

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

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

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

 

Dr Jane Barton

“Murder.” Who mentioned murder?

 

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

 

Dr Jane Barton

The Express: Barton is 69 in Menoca

 

Dr Jane Barton

The Sun: Barton is 70

 

Dr Jane Barton

The Mail: Barton is 69 in Majorca

 

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

 

Dr Jane Barton

 

Barton Shipman

 

Dr Jane Barton

 

Such are the facts.

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


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

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

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

 

ant mcpartlin anne-Marie Corbett

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

 

ant mcpartlin anne-Marie Corbett

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

 

ant mcpartlin anne-Marie Corbett

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

 

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

 

ant mcpartlin divorce

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

 

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

 

ant mcpartlin anne-Marie Corbett

 

ant mcpartlin anne-Marie Corbett

Page 5 family – Lisa looks pretty good

 

ant mcpartlin anne-Marie Corbett

Lisa Armstong in “torment”

 

ant mcpartlin anne-Marie Corbett

The hard-faced blonde

 

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

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

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

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

 

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


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

marijuana

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s hear it for personal freedom!

 

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


Clickbait balls: Hazard keeps agreeing to leave Chelsea for Real Madrid

On a break from advertising biscuits, Chelsea and Belgium footballer Eden Hazard is doing his best to alienate the club’s fans. Well, he is if the BBC and Sun’s back-page headline is to be believed. “Belgium forward Eden Hazard, 27, has warned his club side Chelsea that ‘Real Madrid could interest me’,” says the BBC. The Sun leads: “EDEN WARNING – Eden Hazard has warned the club he will quit unless they sort things out in the summer.” Warning your employer to work hard to please you is an iffy move. But is that what Hazard really said in an interview with L’Equipe before he flew to Moscow for the World Cup?

What can we believe? Reporting on Hazard is so much more clickbait than fact.

 

hazard chelsea the sun real madrid

 

On January 11, the Sun reported: “EDEN HAZARD has NOT agreed to join Real Madrid in the summer, despite reports.”

Reports like… this one in the Sun from July 2o17. The word ‘agrees’ is in inverted commas but fro SEO purposes hazard to Real Madrid is a statement of fact.

 

hazard chelsea the sun real madrid

 

Not that the Sun is alone in milking the ‘Hazard has gone nowhere for years’ story. In January the Independent said Hazard was staying at Chelsea. Fact.

 

hazard chelsea the sun real madrid

 

The Express told its readers: “…the Belgium international has now quashed rumours that he will leave the Blues by confirming he intends to sign a new deal…However, he has claimed he will not do so until his fellow countryman Thibaut Courtois has also extended his stay at Stamford Bridge.”

Really? No. He said nothing of the sort.

So much for the trusty Express, then, which performed the same trick as the Sun in gearing news for the robots. Like the Sun, the Express said Hazard ‘agrees’ to join Real Madrid. But because Google’s bots don’t read those conniving inverted commas, Hazard to Real is a statement of fact:

 

express hazard transfer

 

So will Hazard remain at Chelsea or leave for Real Madrid? This is what he said when pressed on his future as quoted in the Sun:

“I will stay at Chelsea if the team is better than it was last season. I don’t want to stay if we are less good,” says Hazard, who might reflect on is role in the team and how you can know next season is better before its been played? “It would be too easy for me to say that I want to leave because I have done it all. I have won everything bar the Champions League in London. I am where I am in my career thanks to Chelsea. Above all I would love to know what will happen at the club next season. I will wait and see whether the manager stays or goes. As everybody knows, Real Madrid could interest me. But if tomorrow they don’t want me, I won’t talk about them any more. If they want to buy me they know what they have to do.”

And this is what he said in May, as quoted by the Guardian:

The 27-year-old knows his next contract could well be the last in his prime. “That’s why I’m taking my time,” he said. “It’s something big, so I need to think about a lot of things. But one thing is for sure: I’m happy here.”

Asked to elaborate on the factors that would influence his decision, he added: “I’m waiting for new players next season. I want good players, because I want to win the Premier League next season.

“Like I’ve said many times before, I think the FA Cup final is not my last game for Chelsea. It’s the last game of the season, that’s it. After the World Cup then we will be ready for the next season. But, for me in my mind, I’m here. I have one week to play now. Saturday is a massive game, I just want to win, for me and them also.”

He’s not warning Chelsea over anything, is he? Hazard’s Chelsea contract runs til 2020. He’s not going anywhere unless Real Madrid or any other club pay a huge transfer fee.

NOTE: Maybe he just wants more money? Chelsea are to offer him £300,000 a week says the Sun:

 

hazard chelsea

 

Although according to the Sun they made the offer last year:

 

hazard chelsea wages

 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 19th, June 2018 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Key Posts, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Middle-class nightmares: Guardian readers panic over post-Brexit au pair shortage

Brexit matters trouble the Guardian’s readers as they made their way to Jezfest, aka Goodstock. What would it all mean for au pairs? One of the most-read stories on the Guardian’s website begins: “Au pair shortage sparks childcare crisis for families.” This from the paper that mused: “Is au pairing the new slavery?” and “Au pairs on a pittance: the young women minding kids.” And so to the looming Brexit disaster for the Guardian’s caring readers:

Many families are facing a childcare crisis following a 75% slump in the number of young Europeans willing to work as au pairs, as Brexit, plus other factors such as last year’s terrorist attacks in London and Manchester, deter young people from coming to the UK.

May, June and early July are when most au pair placements are arranged, before the beginning of the school term in September, but Guardian Money has learned that some agencies are unable to find a single young European for British families to even interview.

Or to put it another way not versed in the paper of the knowing liberal who outsources child rearing on the cheap: ‘Brexit ends au pair slavery’; and: ‘Brexit ends scandal of teens minding other kids.’ Says the paper, at pains to assure readers that an au pairs shortage affects not only middle-class professionals who can’t afford full-time staff:

While families who have an au pair are often characterised as well off, agencies say many are “ordinary” people such as doctors, nurses, firefighters and academics who work long hours, have long commutes or do not work nine to five, which means breakfast clubs and after-school clubs often do not benefit them. An au pair can be an affordable alternative to employing a nanny.

Since when did GPs and university dons become anything other than middle-class and wealthy? Does the Guardian really think GPs – average wage: £100,000 per annum – are anything but well off?

Maybe it does? And maybe if Brexit happens their kids will have to put their own plates in the dishwasher? The horror!

Posted: 17th, June 2018 | In: Key Posts, Money, News, Politicians | Comment


Labour Live: the highlights of Jeremy Corbyn’s Goodstock Festival

Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Live Festival was  terrific fun. Let’s see what you missed as Corbyn continues his drive to turn a mainstream party into a fringe movement:
 

John McDonell sings Find The Magic Money Tree:

 

Clean Bandit Don’t Need No Educashun

 

 

Jeremy Corbyn front The Average White Band (Diversity No-Mix)

 

Transforming the World one rubbish dance at a time

 

The Electric Light Orchestra

 

Marx & Spender

 

If You Build |it They Will Come (the journalists; the local Labour MPs, the people with free tickets, the security…)

 

The Hacks

 

The Handlers


 

Brexit Means whatever Jeremy Corbyn Thinks You Want It To Mean


 

A Cultural Exchange


 

Your Mum…

 
His Mum…


 

Our Father (Ted)

 

Organising a Piss-up In A Brewery

 
Next week: The Women’s Institute.

Posted: 17th, June 2018 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment


Transfer balls: Arsenal and Liverpool both favourites to sign Mario Gotze

With two Borussia Dortmund players already on the books, and another scheduled to be announced on July 1, Arsenal are looking at recruiting Mario Gotze. The  Germans want £18m for the 26-year-old Dortmund – the kind of money Arsenal can afford. The Mirror says Everton and West Ham are “among the clubs keeping tabs” on the man once hailed as Germany’s answer to Lionel Messi.  The same paper then adds in a separate story that Gotze wants to play for Jurgen Klopp again. We’ve been here before:

 

Liverpool Gotze klopp

The Daily Express got it wrong

 

 

This latest story of Gotze to Liverpool is rooted in the players words on the DAZN documentary Being Mario Gotze. Gotze left Dortmund for Bayern Munich in 2013. He made the reverse trip in 2016, picking Dortmund over Liverpool.

Says Gotze: “I decided to leave Bayern and Jurgen Klopp was interested in getting me to Liverpool. And I was also interested in working with him again.. He is a world-class coach and that’s why it’s always an option. I decided to join Borussia Dortmund, but it was not a decision against Liverpool or Jurgen Klopp.”

Churn that through the journalism mincer and the Metro can declare: “Mario Gotze drops Liverpool transfer hint and reunion with Jurgen Klopp.” “Mario Gotze still keen on reunion with ‘world-class’ Jurgen Klopp,” says Goal.com. “Liverpool transfer news: Mario Gotze talks up reunion with former manager Jurgen Klopp,” yodels The Independent’s clickbait factory.

In March 2016, the Guardian told its readers: “Liverpool confident of signing Mario Götze because of Klopp connection.”

Liverpool are confident of completing the marquee signing of Mario Götze this summer with the World Cup winner understood to be keen on a reunion with Jürgen Klopp.

 

Liverpool Gotze

The Express got it wrong…again

 

gotze klopp

Gotze ‘snubs’ Liverpool in 2016 – the Sun

 

This dire reporting on a player being touted round the Premier League by his agent is summed up on Google, where a search for ‘Gotze Liverpool’ guffs out these three top stories:

 

mario gotze liverpool

 

Liverpool are favourites to sign Gotze, says the Express – because, er, Gotze, who turned Liverpool down in 2016, says Klopp is a good coach. Liverpool should not want Gotze says the Liverpool Echo. Liverpool and Arsenal both want Gotze says the Star.

Type ‘Arsenal Gotze’ into the world’s largest search engine and you get:

 

arsenal gotze

 

The Metro’s news that Gotze wants to play in the Premier League is a “boost” to Arsenal but, oddly, not a boost to Everton and West Ham. The Guardian just wonders if the Gunners will sign him. They don’t know.

In other news, ESPN says Arsenal not Liverpool are favourites to sign Gotze:

 

gotze arsenal liverpool

 

Such are the facts…

 

 

Posted: 15th, June 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Key Posts, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Narcissism saves 30m North Koreans from nuclear destruction

Baseball caps off to Donald Trump. It turns out that he and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un want to make America great again. The paid had “a really fantastic meeting. A lot of progress” says Donald in that manner he of saying things like he’s heard the words for the first time. It’s why he says everything twice, isn’t it, because after guffing out the words the first time he tries to work out what they mean so repeats it. If the first peroration gets a cheer, he might say it three times. So how was it, Don? “Really very positive,” he explains. “I think better than anybody could have expected. Top of the line. Really good.”

And now after the tea and the handshakes, the other guys and gels – “my people”, as Don calls them – will sort out all the details, you know, the stuff about nuclear weapons, trade, human rights, lots of tanks aimed at South Korea, repatriating the dead and other odds and sods. And that’s to say nothing –  and nothing was said – about North Korea trading with the EU, the US or even UKplc, North Korean students being able to study overseas and the general opening up Mr Kim’s  hermetic camp. But let’s not split hairs. North Korea back in the fold of international relations is good thing. Its people will get richer.

 

trump kim north korea

Many papers lead with a photo of Trump looking like gameshow host – Mr Kim, Come On Down! ‘You wanted peace but… you got a prawn cocktail. Hard cheese! Or more like no cheese at all, or meat or much food for your people of any sort.’

 

In case you missed it, this is the document Don and Kim signed:

1) The United States and the DPRK commit to establish new US-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity

2) The US and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula

3) Reaffirming the 27 April 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work towards complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula

4) The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.

 

The media is the message, right? Don’t sweat the details because life will take care of those. The doings will out. So Trump can denigrate his predecessors. Only he can do it the right way. And maybe you can do if you stay tuned, buy the book, watch DVD and work out if the 30m people – that’s the number Trump said he was saving – can be saved from obliteration by the power of narcissism.

 

 

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


Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson reunited in Mirror and Mail cut and paste disaster

The Mirror is promoting an auction of photographs by “royal snapper” John Scott, who died in 1986. The paper omits to mention where the auction is talking place – you can buy them at Cornwall auctioneer David Lay. But it does lead with a group phots that features “Fergie met Andy…possibly for the first time”. The Mail says is “the moment a young Fergie fixed eyes on Andrew”. No it isn’t. Not unless Sarah Ferguson, for it is she, was boss-eyed.

The paper trills: “A smiling Sarah Ferguson is clearly impressed by Prince Andrew as she claps eyes on him for the first time  in the early 1970s.” Ferguson is described as being “very young” at the time. It was the summer of 1970. Fergie and Andrew was 10 – although the Mirror and Mail say they were “about 12”. The Mail also says they are both 10.

The Mail is clueless:

fergie andy

 

sarah ferguson andrew first meeting

 

sarah ferguson andrew first meeting

 

Having told readers this was not the first time Sarah met Andy, the Mail wonders, er, if it was:

 

sarah ferguson andrew first meeting a

Daily Mail: question asked; question answered

 

The tin lid on the utter balls is when you realise that she isn’t looking at Andrew – who isn’t looking at her –  but towards Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones.

The Mirror: the peril of copying a Press Release

 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 6th, June 2018 | In: Key Posts, News, Royal Family, Tabloids | Comment


‘Role Model’ Raheem Sterling should stick to junk food, gay bashing and gambling

Some news that the FA has a Code of Conduct for England players and that Manchester City and England striker Raheem Sterling might have fallen foul of it on account of his M16 tattoo. The Sun cites the Code in its front-page news story on Sterling’s tattoo. The paper links Sterling’s tat to the Vietnam War.

 

raheem sterling m16 tattoo

 

raheem sterling m16 tattoo

 

raheem sterling m16 tattoo

 

 

You can read the full Code of Conduct which Sterling has not flouted here.

And you can read the list of FA ‘parters’ here, highlights of which are: Mars, Lucozade Sport, Emirates, Budweiser, Carlsberg, Walkers and Coca Cola. All the kind of stuff to get the kids fit, lean and healthy. And there’s Emirates, the airline that sponsors the FA Cup. It’s owned by the government-run Investment Corporation of Dubai. In Dubai, the NYTimes says “homosexuality is subject to the death penalty”. Grab your rainbow laces and run like hell.

In 2017, the Football Association ended all of its sponsorships with betting companies, including mutually terminating a long-term Ladbrokes deal. The BBC’s Dan Roan commented:

…it does at least finally address mounting concerns the governing body was being hypocritical and its role as a regulator of gambling was hopelessly compromised by a clear conflict of interest. However, there will still be concerns the football and gambling industries are too closely linked. It will be interesting to see if the clubs follow the FA’s lead.

The Premier League itself may not have an official gambling partner (like the FA), but last season 11 Premier League teams were sporting betting company logos on their shirts, and Sky Bet are title sponsors of the Football League.

Gambling. What harm does that do, eh? Former England player Kieron Dyer told the Mail in 2018:

We were gambling such large sums that we knew we couldn’t possibly do it in public. So we gambled in each other’s rooms, behind locked doors.

We were like clandestine drinkers, hiding ourselves to get wasted. Except the drug was gambling and there was a sizeable band of us that were addicted.

If you’re going to pretend that England players are “role models” to anyone but their nearest and dearest, why focus on a tattoo of a gun and not their employer’s profiteering from gambling, booze, gay bashing and junk food?

PS: Previously the Sun has gunned for Sterling:

 

Young man from working-class background buys house!

 

Sterling-Social-Media-drugs

Spot the obscenity – the story had nothing to do with Sterling

 

raheem sterling PFA daily mail

The Sun: Man has car; eats breakfast; minds own business

 

sterling

Get Sterling

 

To recap: Raheem Sterling is a professional athlete and England footballer.

 

Posted: 29th, May 2018 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, Manchester City, Sports | Comment


Gareth Bale gives Liverpool and Spurs fans something to remember

gareth bale 4 champions leagues

 

Liverpool tyro Mohamed Salah was injured in the Champions League final against Real Madrid. Talks is of a suspected dislocated shoulder. He was hauled down by Real captain Sergio Ramos in the 26th minute. Real are merciless. Liverpool had nine shots with Salah on the pitch. After he left the pitch they had no more in the first half. Then after the break: goals. Benzema scored in the 51th minute. Mané equalised for Liverpool in the 55th minutes. And then – and then – Gareth Bale scored a belter. There were four former Southampton players on the pitch for Liverpool when the one former Saint on the Real team scored. Bale then scored another.

Bale has now won four Champions League titles since leaving Spurs for Madrid.

Worth repeating, then, what the experts said of Bale when he made the move:

Former Spurs manager David Pleat says Bale, 24, was too young to work abroad: “I think he’s a little bit young to go abroad. I doubt he’d find it easy. Many have failed when they have moved overseas. One or two have succeeded, but not many. Most have had a difficult time.”

Former Spurs manger Harry Redknapp told us: “He’s not an over-ambitious lad. He wants to be successful obviously but he’s not someone I can see moving to Real Madrid at this stage in his life.”

Former Spurs great Glenn Hoddle offered: “He’s had a new baby and I’m not sure if he’s ready for a move abroad.”

And this is what the mighty Bale said in 2011: “I’m not afraid to leave the country. I left home at 15 [to join Southampton’s academy]. If I leave the Premier League, I’ll learn another language … I will grow as a person.”

Gareth Bale: Number of regrets – nil.

Posted: 26th, May 2018 | In: Key Posts, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Chinese corruption crackdown screwed Cartier watches

cartier fakes china

 

These aren’t things you’d really think would be connected. How much corruption there is or isn’t in the Chinese economy and the profits of a Swiss watchmaker. But there is indeed a link and it’s worth about £400 million.

The connection is that when people Out East make buckets of cash money from doing something they shouldn’t have done then they’ll invest some of the proceeds in a good looking watch. And the brand matters – because the watch is a signifier of being one of the rich guys. Therefore it has to be one of the brands which is seen as showing that you’re one of the rich guys.

Sure, it’s showing off but with a purpose. It shows you’re a player and if you can show you’re one of those them more games to play in will be offered.

Then what happens with a crackdown upon corruption? Fewer people have the cash to buy them of course. But also, even those who can legitimately buy them from properly earned money won’t – who wants to be market out as a player when there’s a crackdown?

The company took action after stocks of its wristwatches began building up in display cabinets in Asian markets amid a crackdown on corruption in China, where luxury products such as watches and whisky had been dished out as lavish gifts to curry favour with officials, as well as a wider sales slowdown. It was worried that unsold stock would end up being discounted in the so-called “grey market” of unauthorised resellers, damaging the image and pricing power of its brands.

There’s also that point that fewer “presents” were being bought. The effect is rather large:

Shares in Richemont fell sharply on Friday after the Swiss luxury goods group reported annual profits had been hit by more than €200m spent buying back excess stocks of watches to protect its brands from “grey market” discounted sales.

It was a couple of hundred million the year before too.

The real lesson here is that the world economy is a hellishly complex place. Less corruption in China means smaller Swiss watch profits. How can anyone plan something of this complexity? And that really is why planned economies don’t work, it’s just not possible to even know what’s going on let alone predict what will.

Posted: 19th, May 2018 | In: Key Posts, Money, News | Comment