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Russia meddled in US elections just as Clinton backed one Russian leader

Not done with trolling the US through Russia Today, the allegation is that Vladimir Putin meddled in the 2016 US election, chiefly backing Donald Trump in his against-the-odds victory over the pre-ordained Hillary Clinton. This week 13 Russians have been criminally charged with interfering in the 2016 US election. Also implicated is so-called “troll farm” the Internet Research Agency. A 37-page indictment alleges Russians were “supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J Trump … and disparaging Hillary Clinton”.

Foreign entities interfering in US elections is wrong. Barack Obama would never do that.

 

 

And neither would a Clinton:

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, April 3— As President Clinton and President Boris N. Yeltsin of Russia began their first summit meeting today, Mr. Clinton presented the Russian leader with some $1 billion in American aid programs intended to support Russian democrats and spur the Western allies to make Russian reform their top foreign policy priority.

Among the new or expanded programs in the package were loan guarantees to build apartments for demobilized Russian soldiers; loans for Russian entrepreneurs; medical supplies, food and grain assistance; funds to help the Russian Government sell state-owned industries, and technical advisers to help repair pipelines and oil wells and begin exporting again.

Mr. Clinton said the package was intended to help promote free-market skills on a grass-roots level in both Moscow and the Russian countryside, so the movement toward democratic reform would continue no matter who governs in the Kremlin.

Is it only criminal when we don’t like the outcome? Is democracy being damaged by Russian oligarchs or helped by foreign billionaires? Do we only like the obscenely wealthy foreigners meddling with democracy when they’re on our side?

Posted: 17th, February 2018 | In: News, Politicians | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


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 | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Talking balls: Manchester United and Manchester City fans duped by Owen on de Bruyne and Scholes

 

Kevin de Bruyne is a terrific player. Watching the Chelsea reject play so well at Manchester City is Michael Owen, the former Manchester United and Liverpool striker, and sometime pilot. The Manchester Evening News picks up his thoughts and thunders: “Kevin de Bruyne has surpassed Manchester United greats, insists Michael Owen.”

Better than Best, Edwards, Law and Giggs? De Bruyne’s good, but is he that good? The story continues:

Michael Owen insists Kevin de Bruyne has surpassed Manchester United legends Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and David Beckham.

He insists. He will not be swayed.

One day on and the MEN has a follow-up scoop, thundering: “Manchester United fans blast Michael Owen over Paul Scholes claims.”

Paul Scholes is hailed by many as the best passer there has ever been.

Barcelona legend Xavi described him as the finest central midfielder he had ever seen – and many a former teammate has praised his pinpoint accuracy. But, Michael Owen has other ideas.

United’s former No.7 claims Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne is a level above the United great.

Controversial stuff – and it would have been had Owen said it. Over on the Premier League’s official website, Owen says de Bruyne is not the best passer but the best at “assists”. The MEN’s story is utter bunkum.

 

Posted: 16th, February 2018 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, manchester united, News, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


An incredible photo of a single atom visible to the naked eye wins science prize

single atom photo

Wonder no more what an atom looks like. David Nadlinger, a physicist at Oxford University, has taken a photo of an atom suspended in an electric field. The incredible thing is that this atom is visible to the naked eye. Well, we can the light emitted from it.

The image, “Single Atom in an Ion Trap”, won Nadlinger top prize in UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) science photo and imaging contest.

If we zoom in, you can see the atom – it’s the small dot in the centre of the photo.

 

 

The EPSRC reports:

‘Single Atom in an Ion Trap’, by David Nadlinger, from the University of Oxford, shows the atom held by the fields emanating from the metal electrodes surrounding it. The distance between the small needle tips is about two millimetres.

When illuminated by a laser of the right blue-violet colour the atom absorbs and re-emits light particles sufficiently quickly for an ordinary camera to capture it in a long exposure photograph. The winning picture was taken through a window of the ultra-high vacuum chamber that houses the ion trap.

Laser-cooled atomic ions provide a pristine platform for exploring and harnessing the unique properties of quantum physics. They can serve as extremely accurate clocks and sensors or, as explored by the UK Networked Quantum Information Technologies Hub, as building blocks for future quantum computers, which could tackle problems that stymie even today’s largest supercomputers.

“The idea of being able to see a single atom with the naked eye had struck me as a wonderfully direct and visceral bridge between the minuscule quantum world and our macroscopic reality,” says Nadlinger. “A back-of-the-envelope calculation showed the numbers to be on my side, and when I set off to the lab with camera and tripods one quiet Sunday afternoon, I was rewarded with this particular picture of a small, pale blue dot.”

Spotter: PetaPixel

Posted: 16th, February 2018 | In: News, Strange But True, Technology | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Lisa Armstrong prepared to part with her half her fortune to get shot of Ant McPartlin

When Ant McPartlin’s lawyers thrash out any divorce settlement with his estranged wife Lisa Armstrong, they may refer to the Sun’s reporting on the family fortune.

In today’s paper the news is that Amanda Holden and Alesha Dixon have been “comforting” Lisa and offering “real support”. That news of their good hearts should emerge just as Britain’s Got Talent, the show on which the pair work as judges hits the PR circuit, is surely coincidental and not opportunistic tosh pulled from cynicism’s deepest mine.

 

AntLisadivorce

 

Of more interest is that Sun’s news that Ant is “prepared to part with half his £62m fortune”. You might suppose that money accrued by childhood sweethearts who’ve ben married for 11 years would belong to both of them. The message could be: “Lisa is prepared to part with half her fortune”?

And it’s not £62m. Well, not according to the, er, Sun it isn’t.

 

 

One thing is clear: in the tabloids the money is always his and not hers.

 

Posted: 16th, February 2018 | In: Celebrities, Money, News, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Karen Smith charged with ‘child abuse’ for busting pupil who refused to stand for Pledge of Allegiance

 

Karen Smith is the teacher who allegedly assaulted a pupil who did not stand for the US Pledge of Allegiance, the classroom staple written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister’s son from upstate New York. (He went on to work in advertising.)

The BBC says Miss Smith has been charged with “child abuse – recklessly and with injury” and with third-degree assault. It is alleged that when the kid didn’t stand for the Pledge at Agevine Middle School, Colorado, the gym teacher pulled the child up by their jacket and walked them out the classroom.

Local school officials say students can sit or stand during the pledge. Federal law permits students to sit.

The school district released a statement to parents after the arrest saying they “are co-operating with the District Attorney’s Office and respect their decision on this matter”.

“We are unable to comment further because it remains a personnel matter that the school district is actively investigating.”

One site calls it an act of “political violence against a child”. I’d be more interested in who called the police. And there’s the religion. The part of the Pledge about the US being a nation “under God” was added in 1954, following a campaign by a Catholic outfit called the Knights of Columbus and others.

The school has sent out a missive:

Dear Angevine Middle School Families,

I hope everyone is having a good evening.

I am reaching out to you tonight to let you know that we will have a substitute teacher working with some of our PE classes for the time being.

While I cannot share much information, following an incident today at school, Ms. Smith was placed on paid administrative leave. We are working closely with our partners at the Lafayette Police Department. We believe in due process and therefore ask that everyone respect Ms. Smith’s privacy at this time.

We are dedicated, as always, to supporting our students and ensuring that we have qualified educators working with them during their physical education time.

Thank you for your patience and support. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Mike Medina

Principal

Angevine Middle School

Question: who’d want to be a teacher? What would a pledge look like in UK schools?

Posted: 15th, February 2018 | In: News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


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 | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Locals seek to save Jane Austen church from new arrivals

Local matters, now, in the Cotswolds, where some locals might be more local than others. It’s all about when it’s right and proper to lay down your marker.

The Leigh family took possession of Adlestrop Park, formerly monastic land, in 1553. The land was handed down the family line. Things were built on it. One Leigh, the Rev Thomas Leigh (d 1813), was uncle of the novelist Jane Austen, who visited the family pile and assorted buildings in 1794, and again in 1799 and 1806. Some suppose the place inspired Austen to create Sotherton Court, the estate in her book Mansfield Park.

An historian notes:

Jane Austen stayed with her Leigh cousins at Adlestrop several times and kept in constant touch with events there by letter. It was in Gloucestershire that she saw at first-hand how the eighteenth-century craze for improvements totally changed the village landscape. It is probable that Adlestrop Park and the Parsonage House inspired fictional places such as Thornton Lacey in Mansfield Park.

The Leighs don’t live in the village they changed in a flurry of faddish spending. Their former estate is owned by the Collins family. They dug deep into the pockets and helped fund the refurbishment of the local church’s five bells.

Now the rector and churchwardens have asked a consistory court to let Dominic Collins install a hatchment, a coat of arms display, in the church in memory of his late wife. But the idea was opposed by local historian and Austen expert Victoria Huxley, who said it was inappropriate to install a memorial to a family who were not the Leighs.

She writes:

“I was very surprised that someone with a relatively short link to the village (compared to the age of the church) should seek to place their coat of arms in the church, and I do not think that most people in the village have been alerted to this request… feel that only a family which has strong ties over several generations should have such a display.”

Are you local enough?

June Rogers, chancellor of the diocese of Gloucester, is unimpressed with that reasoning, arguing: “The Jane Austen connection does not preserve in aspic this church. As the Leighs succeeded Evesham Abbey, so the Collins family is now in residence. Another layer has been added to the life and continuity of this village.”

Hasn’t it always been about marking the wealthy’s territory, including being closer to God and other seats of power than thee? As one visitor to Adlestrop writes:

Inside the church are many marble memorials to the Leigh family both on the walls and on the floor of the nave… On the north wall of the nave are some Leigh family hatchments showing their dynastic marriages to the Twisleton and Brydges family..

The tower has a clock on its north and east side which was added to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, and the fine arch and lantern at the entrance to the churchyard were added on her Diamond Jubilee. The sundial in the churchyard marks Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee.

No word on the local peasants. And not much sign of them, neither.

Posted: 15th, February 2018 | In: News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


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 | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Man films ‘demonic child’ on 8-hour flight and uploads it to the internet (video)

demonic child plane

 

Shane Townley writes: “Watch as this kid runs and screams throughout the entire flight while the mother does little to nothing to stop him. Three years old on a 8 hour flight from Germany to Newark NJ. He never quits!”

The noise is appalling. The annoyance huge. The child’s energy impressive. And looking down on Other Parents is a simple joy.

But the story is incomplete. We’re the fourth wall, but the film’s maker was there. There’s no sign that the person behind the camera did anything to help quell the din nor find out if the child is suffering from some medical condition.

You just point, click and publicly shame.

 

 

And it looks as though there’s money to be made from filming other people’s children. On YouTube the video comes with the message:

This video is being managed exclusively by Newsflare. To use this video for broadcast or in a commercial player go to: https://www.newsflare.com/video/17020… or email: contact@newsflare.com or call: +44 (0) 20 3937 6280

Look, Damien, you’re famous.  Eat yer heart out, Linda Blair.

Spotter: Boing Boing

Posted: 14th, February 2018 | In: News, Strange But True, The Consumer | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Lizards are spying for Israel says top Iranian advisor

Over the years, various countries have accused the world’s only Jewish state of using a variety of less conventional secret agents. To date, they have identified the following creatures as being Israeli spies:

A Falcon (Turkey)
A Dolphin (Hamas)
A Shark (Egypt)
A Eagle (Syria)
A Griffon Vulture (Saudi Arabia)
A Vulture (Sudan)
A Bee-eater (Turkey)
A Boar (Palestinian Authority)
A Hyena (Palestinians)
A Rat (Palestinian New Agency)
A Kestrel (Hezbollah)

Today brings news that the Israelis are in cahoots with lizards, naturally.

Hassan Firuzabadi, a former chief-of-staff of Iran’s armed forces and key advisor to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, says Israel is using lizards to  “attract atomic waves” and spy on his country’s nuclear program.

“Several years ago, some individuals came to Iran to collect aid for Palestine… We were suspicious of the route they chose,” he tells the ILNA news agency.

“In their possessions were a variety of reptile desert species like lizards, chameleons… We found out that their skin attracts atomic waves and that they were nuclear spies who wanted to find out where inside the Islamic Republic of Iran we have uranium mines and where we are engaged in atomic activities.”

Lizards, of course, are not spying for the Israelis. They are spying for their fellow members of the House of Windsor.

Spotter: Daniel Sugarman

Posted: 14th, February 2018 | In: News, Politicians | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


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 | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Oxfam feasted on the ‘young meat barbecues’

The Times‘ scoop that Oxfam put its reputation ahead of  the needs of the people it purports to save is a cracker. Oxfam staffers saw in people’s pain and destitution a chance to abuse and debase Haitians. The numbers around the January 2010 earthquake are staggering: 220,000 lives lost; 300,000 injured; 1.5 million people destitute. Oxfam arrived on the seen. It’s 230 staff had a mission to help. The senior staffers also had money, the backing of the British state and the power that brings. A whistleblower spoke out:

“The group lived in a guesthouse rented by Oxfam that they called the ‘pink apartments’ — they called it ‘the whorehouse’. They were throwing big parties with prostitutes. These girls were wearing Oxfam T-shirts, running around half-naked, it was a like a full-on Caligula orgy. It was unbelievable. It was crazy. At one party there were at least five girls and two of them had Oxfam white T-shirts on. These men used to talk about holding ‘young meat barbecues’.”

The charity is in full panic mode. Exposed as complicit in morally despicable and criminal acts (prostitution is illegal in Haiti) including the allegation of sex with underage women – which should be called out for  what it is: child rape – chief executive Mark Goldring told staff that The Times report “very, very hard to read”. The truth for those who wanted it hidden, as is alleged, often is.

Roland van Hauwermeiren, Oxfam’s top man in Haiti who bought women, was afforded a “phased and dignified exit”. No blemish on his CV was recorded, doubtless helping him secure a job running a charity in Bangladesh. Three other senior staffers were sacked. No word on their resumes, neither. Oxfam covered up the sleaze.

On September 5, 2011, “Oxfam issued a press statement reporting that a small number of staff had been ‘involved in a number of instances of misconduct’“. Misconduct? “It stressed that it “was not related to fraud and did not affect the approximately US$98 million Oxfam fundraised following the earthquake in Haiti”. Phew! Just using the money to have sex with the vulnerable and dispossessed you’re rode into town to help. So long as you’re investing in the local economy and not stealing it.

You wonder who was being helped? Libby Purves writes:

We are the West, we know best! It is no surprise that last year Haiti banned 257 NGOs for being, as the minister Aviol Fleurant put it, “disconnected from the priorities and needs of the Haitian people”.

He’s not wrong. In 2011, Oxfam quoted Roland Van Hauwermeiren, country director for Oxfam in Haiti:

“Too many donors from rich countries have pursued their own aid priorities and have not effectively coordinated amongst themselves or worked with the Haitian government…

 

“If Haitians are to support themselves then the reconstruction effort must also give priority to helping people earn a living. Above all else, Haitians want to get back to work and provide for their families.”

Ah, yes, think of the children.

 

Posted: 12th, February 2018 | In: News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Stuntwoman wigs out over men in drag taking her jobs

Does pulling on a wig and acting like a woman make you a woman? In Hollywood there’s a backlash against wigging. It’s when men pull on wigs, dress like women and perform stunts in place of the female star for TV and movies. the thinking is, perhaps, that the stunt men in wigs are more expendable than the actress.

But stuntwomen – well, one stuntwoman – say wigging is preventing her getting work. It’s a man doing a woman’s job.  Deven MacNair, a Los Angeles-based stunt artiste, is looking to sue Hollywood’s acting union and a production company because a man in drag did a stunt she could have done.

“The practice is so common, ” she says. “It’s historical sexism – this is how it’s been done since the beginning of time.”

 

glamour woman of the year

 

Fair enough. We can’t have men in wigs taking jobs women can do, even if it they do well enough to earn them plaudits.

 

 

And let’s make it law that 50% of all primary school teachers are men, too.

Posted: 12th, February 2018 | In: Money, News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


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 | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Anti-Semitism expert Jeremy Corbyn wants to ban Spurs Yid Army

spurs yids

 

Jeremy Corbyn is something of an expert on anti-Semitism – which given his role as leader of the Labour Party, ‘friend’ of Hamas and a former presenter on Iran’s Press TV is no great shock. Corbyn has spotted something anti-Jewish in the ranks of Tottenham Hotspur fans. No, he’s not swapping allegiances from Arsenal to Spurs. He wants Spurs fans to sing what he tells them to and stop cheering for the ‘Yid Army’.

He told the Guardian before Spurs and Arsenal played each other yesterday: “There has been racist abuse at past matches between Arsenal and Spurs – instances of antisemitism and homophobia. Yes, football fans get very passionate but that is not acceptable and not allowed.”

“Yid chants are unacceptable,” adds Corbyn. “It plays into something that’s not very good and we should be saying: ‘We’re the Spurs’ or ‘We’re the Arsenal’. Stick to your club; it’s your club that unites you. The idea of adopting a term to neutralise it doesn’t really work because it is identifying a club by an ethnic group or faith, whereas you should be identifying clubs through supporters.”

You might at this point suppose the Guardian has been duped by an arch-satirist. You’re looking for Shami Chakrabarti to pop up and say that she’s never heard a thing – and for Corbyn to nationalise Tottenham and install Dame Shami as the club’s new striker. But the real Corbyn is no fan of Yid Armies, so it is very probably him doing his bit for his core electorate.

Image: A Labour campaign slogan?

Posted: 11th, February 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Politicians, Sports, Spurs | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


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 | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


KFC ‘wanker’ exposed and possibly inspired

NT news australia wanker tosser front page

 

Basil Corrigan, 47, the masturbator who “fell asleep mid-wank” on the lawn beside the KFC eatery on Trower Rd in Casuarina in Australia’s Northern Territory has earned the front-page screamer in his local paper: “WANKER GETS OFF LIGHTLY.”  Corrigan gave “a cheery thumbs up” when the judge set him free on account of time served waiting for trial.

 

NT news australia wanker tosser front page

 

Corrigan seems happy enough. And you wonder what being branded a “wanker” will do to his vigour.

Australians were fond of calling one New Zealand cricketer, the great all-rounder Sir Richard Hadlee, a “wanker”, often giving full throat to “Hadlee’s a wanker” during the match. When Hadlee was knighted in 1990, Australian cricket star Sir Don Bradman sent him a letter of congratulations and a cartoon of an Australian fan yelling “Hadlee’s a wanker” from the stands. Hadlee was pictured replying: “It’s Sir Wanker to you.” Greg Chappell, another Aussie cricketer, told Hadlee the chant was “a mark of respect. The people here rate you and fear you”.

Corrigan may embrace his fame as enthusiastically as he embraces his knob. Watch this space – and grassy knoll by the KFC.

Posted: 11th, February 2018 | In: News, Sports, Strange But True | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Ahmed Abdoule: Hull rapist first and foremost a criminal, a man or a Somalian?

How do you report on Ahmed Abdoule, 33, who this week was convicted of rape at Hull Crown Court, handed an 11 year prison term? The Hull Daily Mail’s headline sums up: “Man who raped teenage girl held sharp piece of wood to her throat and said: ‘You cannot be a virgin because you are white’.”

The rapist is a man first and foremost. In the story’s fifth paragraph we learn more about this violent criminal: “The court heard Abdoule, a Somalian national, was known to the woman and took her to his home.”

We read Judge Mark Bury’s comments: “She told you she was a virgin to try and get you to stop. You said to her, ‘You cannot be, you are white’. You told her not to look at you, and pulled her top over her face, telling her you did not want to see her while you were raping her.”

And then the story went national, appearing on the websites of two newspapers: the Sun and the Mail.

 

 

The Mail’s chief fact is the rapist’s nationality. The article begins:

A Somalian man has been jailed after he held a sharp piece of wood against a teenage girl’s throat and raping her, saying that the victim could not be a virgin ‘because you are white’.

Words matter. Facts are dressed for readers to digest. The story calls Abdoule a “savage rapist”. A spot of tautology, no? Can the rapist be, for instance, ‘kindly’, ‘gentle’ or ‘civilised’? He is a “sickening pervert”, again, rather than what other kind of criminal pervert, an ‘uplifting’ or ‘wholesome’ one?

We do hear more of the crime, and these parts, too, was reported by the Hull Mail:

After he had finished raping her, he told his victim that he had ‘liked it’ and that she was ‘not the only girl who was going to get punished’. Abdoule, from east Hull, also told her that ‘my country would love you’.

After he dropped the teenager away from his home, Abdoule gave the victim a new top to wear and told her to ‘cherish it’ and threatened to kill her if she told anyone about his attack.

Over in the Sun, we’re told:

SICKO CAGED – Rapist told teen victim she couldn’t be a virgin ‘because she’s white’ as he held weapon to her throat in sex attack. Somalian national Ahmed Abdoule also threatened to kill his victim if she told anyone about the attack

The story begins by calling Abdoule a “rapist”. He is then called an ‘evil rapist’. And then these comments appear beneath the story:

 

 

The ‘man” is taken to represent his ‘kind’. We do not know why Abdoule was in the UK, whether he was on holiday, working, seeking asylum, living with British relatives and so on.

The Mail’s comments – and these the most popular ones approved by the site:

 

 

 

How quickly the rapist who carried out a specific crime on an individual comes to epitomise something innate in the Other and a greater threat to us all. That’s not to say race played no part in this – the attacker expressly referred his vicim’s whiteness. That’s a fact. But in reducing the crime to one of culture or ignoring the abuser’s ethnicity  – why does the story appear in the Sun and Mail?; why doesn’t the story appear in the Indy and Guardian? – the facts and a myriad other factors that contributed to the crime are wilfully distorted or overlooked.

 

Posted: 10th, February 2018 | In: News | Comment (1) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Me Too and the Mob: ‘sex pest MPs’ should be anonymous

“‘Sex pest’ MPs to keep anonymity while under investigation over harassment claims,” says the London Evening Standard’s front page. It’s interesting stuff. Given that false and mistaken accusations can ruin lives, might not circumspection be right and proper? Does every victim want their claim and potential victimhood publicised, something that could leave them unable to move on with their lives?

Under new proposals drawn up by a cross-party committee, MPs ruled to have harassed staff will have to write a letter of apology and undergo training, be suspended or forced to face a public vote. At the moment, MPs don’t have any formal disciplinary procedures.

Helping readers to make sense of what is a thorny and important matter is Kate Maltby, the well-connected Tory activist. Maltby is the woman who alleged Damian Green MP made inappropriate advances towards her, including “fleetingly” touching her knee in 2015. She said he sent her a “suggestive” text, which made her feel “awkward, embarrassed and professionally compromised”. He has apologised for making her feel uncomfortable.

She tells the Standard, which counts a number of her friends among the columnists:

“I am pretty concerned about anonymity for those accused, particularly of sexual harassment,” she said [sic] because what we know in all of these cases is it is almost always the case that someone accused, plausibly, of sexual harassment is a serial offender, and that when one woman makes a complaint, others are finally emboldened to do so.”

Why can’t the accusation be examined on its merits? Why do we need a group to bring the accused down? Isn’t assuming that one accusation is the thin edge of the wedge, prejudicial to a fair hearing? How does trial by media achieve justice?

Ms Maltby said: “This working group is clearly a step in the right direction. I think there is a lot still to be hammered out.”

The Standard cites more voices calling for the accused’s name to be made known.

Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, says: “It’s a concern that the risk of malicious and vexatious complaints features so prominently in this report. None of the allegations that triggered the review were found to have been malicious so having this so high up as an issue to be addressed is misplaced. It triggers all those myths about hysteria and witch-hunts that have been such an unfortunate feature of this issue.”

Isn’t the risk of one innocent being wrongly convicted worth the caution?

Leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom adds: “This is a big day for Parliament and our politics. It is in the context of this that the confidentiality issue is so concerning. We know that confidentiality can protect victims but it can also be used to protect the guilty and party reputations. The whole Me Too movement has shown just how important public disclosure can be to victims who are otherwise ignored and mistrusted and might not feel confident in coming forward.”

Isn’t that alleged victims, Andrea? Many people who have said #MeToo have yet to have their claims tested in court. Have we not learnt anything from ‘Nick’, the man who claimed to have witnessed MPs murdering children for sexual gratification, whose allegation were branded “credibly and true” by the police, who after such fanfare and trawling found no evidence for any offence?

Let’s stick to the facts and hold people accountable for their actions. But let’s not ruin lives and careers on the strength of an  allegation, however morally right and powerful it is.

Posted: 8th, February 2018 | In: News, Politicians | Comment (1) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


VIP paedophile spotter Nick arrested by police that once believed him

Nick in the Sun – front-page news

 

The man known only as “Nick”, on whose word police investigated an alleged VIP peadophile sex ring and trawled for ‘victims’, faces multiple charges relating to the possession of indecent images of children. Nick said powerful child rapists were responsible for murdering three children. He pointed the finger at the entirely innocent Tory politicians Sir Ted Heath, Leon Brittan and Harvey Proctor, and former top soldier Lord Brammel.

The Metropolitan Police launched Operation Midland in 2014, describing Nick’s allegations as “credible and true”. The accused declared their innocence. Police never found a shred of evidence to support Nick’s claims. The Met paid out compensation. The investigation, which cost around £2..5m, was closed.

 

 

Reporting on this is varied. The Mirror buries the story of Nick’s impending trial on page 4. Once Nick was the Mirror papers’ biggest story:

 

the people paedo operation midland Nick

 

The Sun splashes the story on its front page and on page 5 lambasts the police.

 

Bashing the police in the Sun

 

Over in the Mail, politics is to the fore.

 

Leon Tory Nick VIP paedo daily mail

 

NickTomwatson paedo

 

It’s of less interest why ‘Nick’ told his story than it is why his story was believed and became front-page news?

Posted: 8th, February 2018 | In: News, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Jon Venables may never get out of prison

Jon Venables is back in prison. Venables, infamous for being the child who murdered a child, has been jailed for 40 months for possessing pornographic images of children and what the trial judge called with no little tautology, a “sickening” paedophile manual. The “Jazz Guide” as it was labelled on a laptop Venables kept hidden behind the headboard at his West Midlands home, showed what Mr Justice Edis called “vile” advice on how to rape children.

The Star says Edis thought the evidence show Venables was “at least contemplating carrying out sex attacks on children”. It’s worth looking at everything the judge said in summary. It might even be worth repeating what Venables told police as he was being driven to a police station: “This is my own fault. I’ve let people down. I’ve had stupid urges, inquisitive. I’m not going to be seeing this for a lot of years. It won’t be slap on the wrist for me.” He also claimed too having “no desire to have physical contact with children in real life.”

Is downloading images from the ‘dark web”, the same as seeing images in a book and storing them in your head? And has Venables, as the Sun declares on its front page and once again in page 5, “GOT AWAY WITH IT”? And there’s Denise Fergus and Ralph Bulger, the parents of James Bulger, the two-year-old Venables and his friend Robert Thompson murdered. Mr Bulger calls the sentence “an insult”. He wants Venables’ new identity made known. “Unmask the monster,” says the Mail.

Here are the remarks – supplied by the Judicial Office – in full made by Mr Justice Edis at the Old Bailey as he sentenced Jon Venables.

The victim surcharge applies. I make a deprivation order for the laptop computer.

I make a sexual harm prevention order with the prohibitions set out in the order because those terms are necessary for protecting the public from sexual harm from you. That order will last indefinitely, that is to say until (if ever) the court discharges it.

You have been convicted of a sexual offence to which the Sexual Offences Act 2003 applies, and I certify that fact. You will therefore be subject to the notification requirements of that Act for an indefinite period.

The offences of which you have been convicted are such that you may be barred under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006. Jon Venables, you have pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity to three counts of making indecent photographs of children contrary to s.1 of the Protection of Children Act 1978, counts 1-3 on the Indictment, and one offence of possession of a paedophile manual contrary to s. 69(1) of the Serious Crime Act 2015, count 4 on the Indictment. The relevant guideline suggests a sentence before plea discount of 12 months, or, after discount for the plea of guilty, eight months. The sentence I am about to impose will be much longer than that, but must remain proportionate to the offences with which I am dealing.

This case is unique because when you were 10 years old you took part in the brutal murder and torture of James Bulger. That was a crime which revolted a nation and which continues to do so, even after the 25 years which have passed since it happened. He was two-years old. The facts of what you did are notorious and there is no need for me to repeat them here. From all that I know about James’ parents it is clear that you not only took his young life, but have also devastated theirs.

You received a life sentence for that crime, and after serving about eight years you were released subject to licence. That licence lasts for life, and there are conditions attached to it. Breach of the conditions means that you can be recalled to serve a further indefinite period of imprisonment under the terms of the life sentence. The commission of criminal offences while on licence is a breach of the licence and you have now been convicted on two occasions since your first release. This is the second of those convictions. In 2010 you were convicted for the first time of similar offences to those which are before me, and received a sentence of two years’ imprisonment. Although entitled to release after half of that sentence, 12 months, you were detained until 2013 under the terms of the original life sentence. The immediate effect of the licence today is that you will not get credit for the time spent in custody awaiting today, and, more importantly, that there is no guarantee that you will be released when you have served the sentence I shall pass shortly.

The Parole Board is the body which has responsibility for deciding when you will actually be released in this case. What I have to decide is what punishment is appropriate for these offences. In that respect I am required to follow a guideline unless it would be contrary to the interests of justice to do so. Because the legal language of the offences has a technical meaning I wish to explain exactly what you have been convicted of.

You have pleaded guilty to ‘making’ the images listed in counts 1-3. This means that you downloaded them from the internet for your own gratification. You did not yourself create the images and you were not present when someone else did that. You did not intend to distribute or sell them. The point about child pornography is that it involves films and images being made of very serious sexual offences being committed against defenceless children. It is heart breaking for any ordinary person to see this kind of material. The consumer of it, you, therefore does two things. First, he emerges as a threat to children from real harm caused by his own offences against them. A person with a perverted sexual interest in children plainly poses a higher risk than one without. Secondly, by being a consumer of this dreadful material he causes others to make it and thereby promotes the commission of very serious and damaging offences by others. These are the reasons why the offence is regarded so seriously.

There were 1170 images, and moving images were included. 392 were in category A which is the most serious class of image. These include multiple images and films of penetration of children and also some images where the young victim appears to be in physical pain. Some of them were babies. Given your history, it is significant that a number of the images and films were of serious crimes inflicted on male toddlers. You did this using a browser called ‘TOR’ which allows anonymous browsing on the internet and access to what is called the dark web. It was designed to enable you to obtain these images without being detected.

In addition, you had a paedophile manual, which you acquired in the same way. This is a vile document which gives detailed instructions on how to have sex with small children, as it puts it, ‘safely’. The use of that word in that document reveals the cynical brutality of its author. This manual was created by someone with some detailed anatomical knowledge and is designed to encourage its readers to perpetrate the most serious sexual offences against very small children. It is a direct incitement to do this. Although the maximum sentence for this offence is far lower than the maximum penalty for the other three offences, it is, in my judgment, no less serious.

Offences contrary to s.1 of the Protection of Children Act 1978 are specified offences and the court should consider whether an extended sentence should be imposed. Is there a significant risk of serious harm to the public from the commission by you of further specified offences? I accept that downloading images for private viewing does not directly cause serious harm to the public.

The existence of a market for this kind of depravity undoubtedly causes serious offences to be committed by others against children so that the images can be created. This does cause children all over the world to be seriously harmed. That dreadful fact does not appear to trouble your conscience at all. As a consumer of the products of this barbarous evil, you, along with many others, indirectly cause it to happen. The commission of these offences and the possession of the manual suggest that you have a compulsive interest in serious sexual crime against small children. The possession of the manual also suggests that you were at least contemplating the possibility of moving on to what are called ‘contact offences’, that is actual sexual crime against children. This is against a background where you know the very substantial penalties you face if you are caught.

The incentive for you to live a quiet a law abiding life out of the public eye does not just come from penalties imposed by the criminal justice system, which is why there is an injunction in place to protect your life. You took a very great risk when you committed these offences and this suggests to me a compulsive desire which you could not control. You did this on a day when you were undergoing assessment in the contact of your life licence. This shows how manipulative and dishonest you are. There is no evidence that you have ever actually embarked on the commission of any contact offence. There is no evidence of grooming or, in this set of material, of you having been in contact with other men with a view to gaining access to children.

The pre-sentence report was prepared by someone who has had significant dealings with you. Its author concludes that you present a high risk of serious harm to children. It is agreed that the threshold for an extended sentence is met but submitted on both sides that the question is academic since the extended period of licence would add nothing to the powers which the Parole Board already has and will have for the rest of your life because of the life sentence.

I conclude that the risk you pose to the public is fully addressed by the fact that you are subject to a life sentence. That is a far more potent long term protection for the public than anything I can do today. I have read a pre-sentence report which contains information which, in conjunction with this conviction and sentence, will cause the Parole Board to examine the case when considering release with particular care. I have referred to the opinion of its author already, which will be part of the material on which any release decision will be made. Any evidence at all that you had turned your attention to any children in what I shall call ‘the real world’ would, of course, change this assessment and would probably also result in additional offences being charged with more extensive sentencing powers available.

The relevant guideline suggests a starting point of one year with a range going up to three years. However, the paedophile manual requires an uplift as do the previous convictions in 2010 for offending of this kind. It is a different kind of thing from the images and films because its purpose is to inspire actual offending. It is probably not designed to excite or to achieve sexual gratification simply by being looked at, but to give practical advice. It is extremely important that possession of this kind of thing should be clearly punished and I consider that a consecutive term is required.

Further, there are aggravating features as identified in the guideline. The offences were committed whilst on licence and in breach of a number of the terms of that licence. For the reasons I have stated already, this is a particularly serious aggravating feature in this case. Your breach of licence was manipulative, persistent and dishonest as well as seriously criminal in itself. The children depicted were often very young and vulnerable, there is discernible pain and distress suffered by some of the children depicted and the collection includes moving images.

The number of images is substantial, though much larger collections are routinely encountered in these cases. The proportion of category A images, almost exactly one third, suggests deliberate searching for and collection of this most repulsive material. In doing that, you accessed the dark web. For these reasons the sentence can properly be increased into the next category range within the guideline, which is usually reserved for offences involving distribution of images of this kind. This involves following the guideline by using its ranges, but by doing so flexibly when confronted with a wholly exceptional case such as this.

There is very limited mitigation apart from the plea for which you will receive full credit following the guideline. It is true that you were immediately candid with the police when arrested, but, as is common in this type of case, you did not have much choice. Your difficulties in living in the community are obvious, but you do not have the mitigation that you only offended on one day. Your offending went back some months and required ingenuity to keep it hidden. The offending is so serious that only an immediate custodial sentence will suffice. That sentence must be above the usual range in the guideline to which I have just referred for the reasons I have given. But for your pleas the total sentence would have been five years.

Giving you full credit of one third for those pleas as I am required to do, the sentence on you is as follows: Count 1: 32 months; Count 2: 2 years; Count 3: 18 months; Count 4: 8 months consecutive. This makes a total term of 40 months. At the half way point of this sentence you will be released from this sentence. Whether you will actually be released from prison at that point depends on what action is taken in relation to your life sentence.

There are many horrific crimes. But not of them were used by politicians and press for a cause.

Posted: 8th, February 2018 | In: News, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


A police medic did not punch a man in the face and head at London’s Kurdish protest (video)

kurds rally London police

 

The police tell. They do not listen. They work to an agenda. Media should not be so monocular. It should exercise circumspection. The police make enough mistakes without any need to sensationalise the ordinary.

The Metro trails as story from a march in London by thousands of Kurds protesting against Turkey’s military attack on the Kurdish city of Afrin in Syria. It’s horrendous. Shame on the UK for not backing the Kurds.

This Metro’s conjures the headline: “Police medic punches man in head at Kurdish rally.” It is “shocking” says the paper of the moment a “Metropolitan Police medic repeatedly punches a man” in the head.

Only, he doesn’t. The copper is hitting the man in the shoulder in what appears to be an attempt to get him to release his grip.

 

 

The minor incident was reported earlier in the Mail, which also needs a crash course in body parts:

Met police medic punches man in the head at Kurdish rally. Met police medic punches man in the head at Kurdish rally. A man wearing a Metropolitan police medic uniform has been filmed on top of another man who he punches repeatedly in the head as he lays on the road at a Kurdish protest rally in London.

 

kurds rally London police

The Mail adds: “The man tries to get up, without using much force but is pushed back down by the medic, who then punches him in the face four times“. The Mail says that twice.

 

 

The face? No. That’s a shoulder.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police says: “We are aware of a video posted on social media. We are in the process of establishing the circumstances of the incident. The Directorate of Professional Standards has been informed.”

We’re aware of it, too, and it’d be stupid to rush to judgement. No context is offered by the video. Just sensationalist reporting.

Meanwhile…in Afrin…

Posted: 7th, February 2018 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Doritos is making a new female version of its revolting snacks

There are women-only shortlists for books and art, and talk of women-only carriages on trains, so let’s have some women-only food, a light snack to got with the sherry. Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo, opined that the company is tasked with making Doritos less crunchy because “woman don’t lick their fingers generously and they don’t like to pour the little broken pieces and the flavor into their mouth”. For what it’s worth, my pet hate is anyone who licks their fingers, generously or otherwise.

Said Nooyi:

When you eat out of a flex bag – one of our single-serve bags —-especially as you watch a lot of the young guys eat the chips, they love their Doritos, and they lick their fingers with great glee, and when they reach the bottom of the bag they pour the little broken pieces into their mouth, because they don’t want to lose that taste of the flavor, and the broken chips in the bottom. Women would love to do the same, but they don’t. They don’t like to crunch too loudly in public. And they don’t lick their fingers generously and they don’t like to pour the little broken pieces and the flavor into their mouth.

Maybe the women in Nooyi’s line of sight aren’t thrusting young blades looking to live the product and don’t much like Doritos, on account of them tasting like salted parrot droppings dusted with desiccated Saturday night telly hosts, or whatever that stuff is Donald Trump rains onto his face.

Nooyi went on:

It’s not a male and female as much as “are there snacks for women that can be designed and packaged differently?” And yes, we are looking at it, and we’re getting ready to launch a bunch of them soon. For women, low-crunch, the full taste profile, not have so much of the flavor stick on the fingers, and how can you put it in a purse? Because women love to carry a snack in their purse.

Well, you’ve got to hide the gun under something.

The whole design capability we built in PepsiCo was to allow design to work with innovation. Not just on packaging colors, but to go through the entire cycle, and say, “All the way to the product in the pantry, or how it’s being carried around, or how they eat it in the car, or drink it in the car, what should be the design of the product, the package, the experience, so that we can influence the entire chain?”

The New York Times followed up:

“The reporting on a specific Doritos product for female consumers is inaccurate,” the company said in a statement released on Monday night. “We already have Doritos for women – they’re called Doritos, and they’re enjoyed by millions of people every day. At the same time, we know needs and preferences continue to evolve, and we’re always looking for new ways to engage and delight our consumers.”

The idea of Doritos evolving is interesting. They are not a fatty snack, but a life form, an entity that will  breed – hence the male and female strains – before mutating into a Twiglet.

Asked what Ms. Nooyi meant by “snacks for women that can be designed and packaged differently,” a spokeswoman declined to elaborate.

“I can’t yet give any more details beyond what Indra relayed in the podcast,” the spokeswoman said. “However, I will be able to in a few months.”

Is that how long it takes to grow a spine?

Posted: 6th, February 2018 | In: News, The Consumer | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Why car insurance is so expensive for the unemployed

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

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

Yes.

Posted: 6th, February 2018 | In: Broadsheets, News, Technology | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


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