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Grenfell Tower: antisemites, Trots and other agendas

The Times has been looking at people around Grenfell Tower protests and campaigns. In one story headlined “Russian TV wanted to stir class unrest after Grenfell” we hear about reports on RT (formerly Russia Today), the broadcaster through which, as one colleague opines, Vladimir Putin trolls the West.

The story begins:

A Kremlin-controlled TV station seized on the Grenfell Tower fire to try to foment “class war” in Britain.

An RT broadcaster is cited as having told his audience:

“£10 million was spent on cosmetic changes to the outside of the building to make it look better for rich residents who live near by.”

The Times checks the facts and finds them wanting:

“In fact the £10 million figure was the cost of the entire refurbishment between 2014 and 2016, not just the cladding.”

RT has responded, albeit in a slightly confusing manner.

If this did happen, and it probably did because we have to trust that The Times has studied the hell out of the coverage in order to squeeze out any accusation it can, could it be that the RT reporter made a mistake?

If this did happen? Can’t it check its own footage? But this part of the lengthy response seems to be in surer ground, picking up on an anomaly in the Times report:

The paper usefully quotes “class war,” but it’s not really obvious where that quote is from. Top investigative reporter Dominic Kennedy wasn’t in the mood to make that clear. The word ‘foment’ is not part of a quote – that is The Times’ own little addition. So essentially it appears RT is accused of putting the words ‘class’ and ‘war’ together… and saying them out loud!!!

If RT is trying to “foment class war” with its coverage of Grenfell (I asked around, and it’s not) you have to wonder what kind of war The Times is trying to ‘foment’ with its unending, sensationalist and misleading coverage of anything linked to the word Russia.

Three other stories form part of the Times’ investigations into people around Grenfell Tower. In “How the far left tried — and failed — to hijack Grenfell” we get to look at Justice4Grenfell which “has suggested there were hundreds of fatalities even though the police say 71 people were killed”.

The group has angered some locals by taking possession of the slogan it uses as its name, registering it at Companies House and on the internet registry, and adopting a high public profile. It said that it would apply for core participant status, which would bring privileged rights to see paperwork, make statements, question witnesses and apply for money for legal advice.

But if it’s all legal, what’s wrong? And, in any case, the group doesn’t seem to be at the heart of things.

Residents have created their own exclusive self-help group, Grenfell United, after becoming alarmed at attempts to hijack the disaster by fringe pressure groups, political extremists and agitators. Grenfell United is treated by everyone from Downing Street to local charities as the authentic voice of the tower’s former residents.

We are introduced to some of the alleged ‘hijackers’, all of whom appear in the Daily Mail’s story in today’s paper “Far-left activists in bid to hijack Grenfell: Fire victims hit out at rabble-rousers to exploit deaths of 71.”

We meet Sue Caro, 60, a “diversity expert” who questioned the death toll, believing it to be higher. The Mail says she is no longer a member of Justice4Grenfell. There’s Ishmahil Blagrove, 49, the founder of Justice4Grenfell. The Mail says of him:

He launched Justice4Grenfell with a speech warning: ‘You know me and when I’m ready to start a fire I’ll start a fire.’ He added that ‘if we burn down anywhere’ it might be Chelsea.

The Mail does not find room for what we can read in the Times:

He said: “My statement in regards to starting a fire is to indicate that now is not the time.” Young people were on the streets seeking retribution for the fire and he was “indicating that if this anger and frustration were to boil over, then it would be in a part of the Royal Borough [of Kensington and Chelsea] to which the government and the media pay close attention.”

The Times also notes:

Grenfell protests have been joined by the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), which suffered mass defections over the suggested cover-up of sexual assault and rape allegations in 2010.

In another story, this one titled “Antisemitic outbursts of prominent Grenfell aid organiser” we get to meet Tahra Ahmed. The Times us:

A leading proponent of the conspiracy theory that the 9/11 terror attack was faked by Jews has gained a prominent role as a Grenfell Tower volunteer.

We’re not told what that role is and if she has anything to do with any organised groups. One writer has tried to find out more. But a look for her name around the disaster reveals very little. The name does feature in a Daily Mail story from June 19, when a Tahra Ahmed was quoted as part of a protest at Kensington Town Hall:

Tahra Ahmed, who was involved in organising the protest, branded the tower fire a ‘holocaust’. The former Metropolitan Police worker admitted she was ‘hoping the protest doesn’t get worse’ after repeatedly being forced to intervene to stop violence against police throughout the evening.

Having featured her a source of information then, the Mail today tells readers beneath the sub-head “The Antisemite”:

…she has repeatedly made antisemitic outbursts and has claimed that the 9/11 terror attack was faked by Jews. Miss Ahmed, who lives in London, has previously described Hitler’s massacre of Jews as the ‘holohoax’. And in a previous comments, the activist has said: ‘Grenfell is owned by a private Jewish property developer just like the Twin Towers. I wonder how much Goldman [Sachs] is standing to make in the world’s most expensive real estate location, [Kensington].’

The Mail then explains:

Goldman Sachs has had no involvement in the disaster apart from donating 100 boxes of children’s clothing and books, helping former residents get access to technology and matching employees’ appeal donations.

Or as the Times put it one day earlier:

Goldman Sachs has had no involvement in the disaster apart from donating 100 boxes of children’s clothing and books, helping residents access technology and matching employees’ appeal donations.

As the Mail checks its sources, we get to a Times’ story on Cathy Cross, 54, who seems to be a product of nominative determinism, being described as a “self-proclaimed rabble rouser”. Beneath the headline “Grenfell council accuser is a [John] McDonnell activist”, we do get to hear her response:

Ms Cross denied using the tragedy for political ends. She said she asked legitimate questions and had a reply from the council leader about assistance from other boroughs.

In it’s top and tail story, the Mail makes no word of Cross’s reply, stating:

Despite living outside the borough, she heckled the new leader of Kensington & Chelsea council at the latest meeting. As Elizabeth Campbell was making an opening address, Miss Cross, 54, shouted: ‘You have blood on your hands.’

It does seem unfair not to afford people a right to reply.

No other papers carry any word on the activists.

Posted: 12th, December 2017 | In: Broadsheets, News, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Violent death is not just about sex

More women are killed by men than are killed by women. Also, more men are killed by men than are killed by women. The Guardian interprets the facts and declares: “‘Shocking’ toll of women killed by men renews call for safe spaces.”

Are prisons safe spaces; don’t they make society a safer place? The paper relays research by Women’s Aid, telling readers:

Of the 113 women killed by men in England, Wales and Northern Ireland last year, 85 died in their homes, according to the Femicide Census, an annual analysis by the charity Women’s Aid.

How many men died in their homes, victims of violence is not stated. But we are told that nine in 10 women killed during 2016 died at the hands of someone they knew – 78 by a man they’d been intimate with; three by their sons; five by another man in the family; nine by a stranger. Domestic violence is horrendous. And getting a clear picture of it is no easy thing. Killing is the indelible and baldest proof it happened. But what about other crimes behind closed doors? Questions need to be asked about the police’s early response to claims of domestic violence. Are police able to intervene when actual violence has occurred, or are they expected to spend time and resources wondering if it might, policing the trials and tribulations of domestic life?

“More needs to be done to address men’s fatal violence against women, as once again the Femicide Census reveals fatalities not as isolated incidents but as part of a repeated pattern of male violence against women,” says Katie Ghose, chief executive of Women’s Aid.

“Without a safe space to escape to, more women will be killed by men that they know,” Ghose adds. “The government must act now. Refuges are a vital lifeline, not an optional extra; they are not just a bed for a night but essential for women and their children to safely escape domestic abuse and rebuild their lives away from the perpetrator.”

But this goes beyond domestic violence. We are being asked to look at men as innately violent, to see different inherent characteristics of men and women. Sex, they say, determines your character and personality. Men present a risk to women.

According to the NHS:

Home Office figures reveal that on average, 100 women a year and around 30 men a year are killed within a domestic abuse context. Women are almost exclusively killed by men whereas in contrast approximately one third of the men are killed by other men and a little under a third are killed by women against whom they have a documented history of abuse.

Karen Ingala Smith, chief executive of the charity, nia, which campaigns to end violence against women and children,  is quoted in the paper. “Men’s fatal violence against women extends beyond their partners and families,” she says. And you could say, ‘Men’s violence against men extends beyond their partners and families.’

The problem is that if it’s all about sex – women seen as weak and men as suspects, each one of them a criminal-in-waiting – we are reduced. Refuges for victims of domestic crime can be vital, but let’s not treat all human relationships with suspicion.

Posted: 11th, December 2017 | In: Broadsheets, News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Manchester United’s Lukaku accused of throwing bottle that injured Manchester City coach

Instead of putting his finger to his lips in the manner of a kindergarten teacher quieting a group of toddlers, José Mourinho simply requested that Manchester City’s players celebrating victory over the his Manchester United “keep their music down”.

Mourinho and Ederson, City’s Brazilian goalkeeper who apparently heard the polite request, began to argue. Reports suggest Mourinho accused Ederson of play-acting to waste time and then in English told him, “You fucking show respect. Who are you?” He’s Ederson. It says so on his top. Anyhow, overlooking the older man’s difficulty with names and aversion to loud music, the debate “sparked” trouble.

In the ensuing melee, Mikel Arteta, one of Pep Guardiola’s assistants, was left with blood streaming down his face from a split eyebrow and another member of Guardiola’s backroom staff needed medical treatment. As is the way with Mourinho, the Guardian says the “escaped lightly despite being in the middle of it”.

But who allegedly threw the bottle that hit Arteta? The Mirror announces: “Man United star ‘Romelu Lukaku launched bottle at Mikel Arteta’.”  Well, that’s “according to Spanish outlet Cadena SER on the show ‘El Larguero'”.

Over there, it’s alleged – and this through Google Translate:

Triggers between United and City players after the Manchester derby
Luis Martin told El Larguero that Romelu Lukaku gave a bottle to a member of the coaching staff of the City

We’re not told who Luis Martin is, nor how he knows anything about the incident. Which makes you wonder why he’s seen as a reliable source, and one good enough for the Daily Mirror? The Sun notes:

 

 

But we don’t know who threw the bottle.

Anyhow, after that Mourinho went for a chat with referee Michael Oliver, who booked Ander Herrera for diving in the City box. The Portuguese manager than told press: “It’s a clear penalty and I feel sorry for Mr Oliver because he had a good performance. He’s a human being and tried his best.”

What a lovely, understanding bloke Mourinho is.

Posted: 11th, December 2017 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, manchester united, News, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


‘Shoot the Jews’: importing anti-Semitism to Sweden

A synagogue in Sweden is under attack. You know who you find in synagogues? Yeah, them, the Jews. But who are the attackers? The Daily Mail picks up the news from Swedish organs:

Twenty-one masked men have been seen throwing molotov cocktails at a synagogue in central Gothenburg. ‘We are in place with a number of units,’ said Peter Nordengard, police chief of the West Western region, told the Expressen newspaper.

The paper makes no word on who the perpetrators are. Sverige Radio had more, reporting last Friday December 8:

Donald Trump’s plans to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital have been met by anger all over the world – so also in Malmö. On Friday night, about 200 protesters scandaled against Arab leaders and threatened with violence against Jews.

We get a quote:

“We have announced the intifada from Malmö. We want our freedom back, and we will shoot the Jews.”

Anything else? This through the wonder of Google Translate:

There was also a demonstration yesterday in the same place, and besides very angry rams against Arab leaders, called dirt and knives, who do not act harder against Israel, they also scanned rams that “the Jews should remember that the army of Muhammad will return” .

Might this, you know, be one of this incidences where anti-Israel protesting is actually just anti-Semitism?  Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven offers: “There is no place for anti-Semitism in our Swedish society. The perpetrators will be held accountable.”

Really? No place? Haaretz has news:

Nearly a decade ago, reports by journalist Niklas Orrenius helped open Swedes’ eyes to the prevalence of Jew hatred among the Muslim population in Malmö, a city that has since earned an international reputation for anti-Semitism…

In an op-ed the morning after the Gothenburg attack, Orrenius wrote: “It can feel complicated when the hatred comes from Muslims, a group that is also subjected to much hatred in Sweden today. The fact that Muslim-haters often use anti-Semitic incidents to throw suspicion on all Muslims does not make the matter any less thorny.”

Three arrests have been made.

But what’s really interesting is the lack of coverage about the “Horror as ’20 masked men attack synagogue with petrol bombs'” (Daily Express).

Meanwhile…in London, one Tweeter claims:

 

 

These are worrying times to be a Jew in Europe.

Posted: 10th, December 2017 | In: News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Clickbait hate: Michael Wolfe is not starting a 15 year prison sentence for leaving bacon in a mosque

Why was Michael Wolfe, of Titusville, Florida, handed a 15-year prison sentence? The clickbait-led news media is clear:

 

bacon mosque

 

The most concise of the clickbaiters is the Independent, which says: “Man sentenced for 15 years for leaving bacon in a mosque.”

 

 

Not quite. And not all.  Michael Wolfe, 37, broke into the Islamic Society of Central Florida Masjid Al-Munin Mosque in January 2016. He broke windows and lights with a machete. He left come bacon by the front door. Wolfe, who has numerous previous convictions for burglary, “entered a plea deal and plead guilty to vandalizing the mosque itself with hate crime enhancement, making it a felony,” said Todd Brown, a spokesman for the State Attorney’s Office. “He waived his right to a pre-sentencing investigation.”

Wolfe was charged with armed burglary. “The agreement was to drop the armed burglary in exchange for his plea,” Brown added.

So Wolfe wasn’t jailed for leaving bacon, in the manner, say, of a worshipper leaving behind a scarf or a jacket.

Florida Today adds:

According to Brevard County records, Wolfe has had multiple run-ins with the law dating back to 1998, including convictions in burglary of an unoccupied dwelling and grand theft in 2004— for which he was sentenced to two years, seven months and two days in prison— and burglary of a conveyance in 2011, for which he was sentenced to 64 days in the county jail. Wolfe was also fined and sentenced to probation after a 2001 burglary and grand theft arrest when he was just 20 years old, records show.

In addition, Wolfe was found guilty in three DUI offenses, possession of hydrocodone and cannabis, and an array of traffic violations. He spent over a year and a half in total in the Brevard County Jail over the course of his sentencings.

Nasty stuff. And turning crime into clickbait is pathetic.

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


Manchester United v Manchester City: Jose Mourinho’s narcissism makes us warm to Pep

Is Jose Mourinho a narcissist?  Of course he is. It’s always about him. Noticing that Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola wears a yellow ribbon – a symbol of protest against the imprisonment of pro-independence politicians in the Spanish region of Catalonia – Mourinho soaks it in his own identity, sniping:

“If the rules allow us to do that, he is a free citizen. My doubt is if the rules allow any political message on the pitch. I don’t think I would be allowed to.”

We’ve been here before.

When Pep went at Southampton’s Nathan Redmond after the final whistle, and was not sanctioned for his outburst, Moutinho snarked:

“Surprised?” said Mourinho. “No, not surprised.”

Asked if that was because he felt he was treated differently to other bosses, Mourinho said: “I can’t answer to the second question.

“You know, if you’re my friends, don’t ask me the question, because you know I get into trouble, so no.”

Poor old, Jose, eh, persecuted for nought. Sure, he belittled a female doctor, sneakily poked a rival in the eye, labelled a rival a voyeur, after a match called West Brom defender Jonas Olsson in the tunnel a “Mickey Mouse player”, allegedly threatened to “break  the face” of a rival manager, escaped censure from the Football Association “despite telling a ballboy…  he could be ‘punched’ if he continued to delay returning the ball”, wrongly accused Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard of visiting referee Anders Frisk at half-time during Chelsea’s 2-1 defeat to the Spanish side, helping Frisk quit the game:

“I have been subjected to things that I couldn’t even imagine,” said Frisk, who describes himself as “a Chelsea fan since boyhood”, yesterday. “I love to referee and I have done it since 1978, but what has happened to me over the last 16 days means it is not worth continuing.

“I won’t ever go out on a football pitch again. I am too scared. It is not worth it. Unfortunately that is the way football looks in 2005. I’ve had enough. I don’t know if I even dare let my kids go to the post office.

“These past 16 days have been the worst in my life as a soccer referee.”

Mourinho and his supporters like to claim he’d have been crucified if he behaved like Guardiola. Trouble is, he’s got form…

 

Posted: 9th, December 2017 | In: Manchester City, manchester united, News, Sports | Comment (1) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Brexit: breakthrough deal please the status quo

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

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

 

eu brexit newspapers

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No “hard border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic

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

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

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

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


The Jews did it: anti-semitic conspiracy theories linger in the Romanovs’ remains

Mr Kirill became Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church in 2009. In 2013, he said same-sex marriage was “a very dangerous sign of the apocalypse”.  In November this year, he told worshippers at Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral that the apocalypse was “already visible to the naked eye”. That same month he met with the Archbishop of Canterbury, a meeting the Times says “underlined growing ties between the two churches. He visited London last year and was received by the Queen.”

Kirill also has “a number of difficult questions” about the deaths of Nicholas II, the last Russian Tsar, and his family members. Nicholas II and his family members were shot dead in 1918. Official news is that all the bodies had been incinerated. But Kirill says some body parts can remain after burning. At a conference in Moscow’s Sretensky Monastery, called The Royal Family Murder Case: New Examinations and Files. A Debate, Kirill opined:

“They [investigators] ought to travel to India, to the city of Varanasi on the Ganges River, where cremations take place. I was there and I saw it with my own eyes: cremations continue all day long, from early morning till late at night, they use large dry logs. However, after the cremation, the arms and legs still remain.”

They’re looking for bodies? Not only that. They’re looking for evidence:

Colonel of Justice Marina Molodtsova told the aforesaid conference, according to the Tass news agency:

“After the criminal investigation was resumed, a total of 34 forensic tests have been commissioned in order to identify the remains.The remains found in two gravesites in the Porosenkov ravine are being carefully examined. Experts are expected to clarify the reasons for their death, their gender and relations between them, as well as their injuries.”

What’s the point of this? Well, Kirill’s associate Bishop Tikhon, has more. This via John Helmer:

Tikhon, the patriarch’s appointee in charge of the new investigation, said in a speech in front of Kirill on November 27: “We pay the most serious attention  to the ritual murder interpretation [of the execution]. Moreover, a considerable part of the church commission has no doubt that this was what happened.  But everything should be proved, everything… All [the executioners] wanted to be regicides – this is already what one can say was for many of them a ritual. This is a serious question which is studied now by investigator Molodtsova, and I think we will present some serious developments on this subject at our next meeting.”

A ritual… Like a religious ritual? Like something Jews do?

Kirill added in a remark at the same meeting of churchmen that despite a near-century of forensic and scientific investigations of the Romanov deaths,  the results remain  inconclusive. The final results, Kirill added,  will be up to the Church bishops to decide.  “The Church will decide the issues, not at scientific conferences but at the Synod of the Russian Church. There we will all be thinking and discussing. Now we are gathering the information we need… This is not just about the remains of ordinary people. We are talking about the phenomenon of Holy relics, and this already has direct relevance to the mysteries in the life of the Church. And only the Cathedral of our Church is competent to judge this.”

Only the Church can decide what really happened:

Bishop Tikhon Shevkunov, who is heading a Russian Orthodox Church commission investigating the execution of the Romanov family by firing squad in Yekaterinburg, said at a conference on Monday that many members of the commission believe it was a ritual murder that held special significance for Bolshevik commander Yakov Yurovsky and his men.

Yakov Yurovsky was chief executioner of Emperor Nicholas II of Russia, his family, and four retainers on the night of 16 July 1918.

“Ritual murder” has in the past referred to a theory that the last emperor was the victim of a Jewish conspiracy, as Mr Yurovsky was of Jewish heritage.

Russia Today adds the words of Chief spokesman of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, Rabbi Boruch Gorin:

“We, as a Jewish community are shocked not only because of the absurdity of such assumptions. The myths about the existence of ritual killings relate to various cults and religions, but in Russia … this has become a typical anti-Semitic myth, used by anti-Semitic propaganda for several decade.In our view, the absurdity of this theory is evident, because it’s obvious that the murder was committed by complete atheists – people who had rejected any faith in any powers apart from what can be done with their own hands.”

Can it be that the blood libel is back. The oldest story has crept out of the sewer. It never went away, of course. Anti-Semitism is making a rapid return to the mainstream. Not that this is, of course. It’s just an open and honest investigation.

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


Thomas Markle gets doorstepped

Turns out that Thomas Markle is’t all that “reclusive” after all. He’s on the Daily Mirror’s front page talking about his daughter, Meghan Markle.

 

thomas markle

 

“I’m delighted,” says Thomas of the wedding. For reasons that are not clear, the Mirror presents Thomas Markle with a bottle of French champagne and some Darjeeling tea. “Thank you, that’s very kind,” says Thomas as a stranger gives him free treats.

Not that Thomas needed a free drink. The Mirror’s says it “tracked him down” to his, er, home, and looked on as Thomas Markle “bought a four-pack of Heineken and cigarettes”. Lest we be disbelieving, the Mirror features a video of Thomas walking from a store.

Lest you think that invasive and not in the least bit newsworthy, the Mirror uses an editorial to tell readers: “Thomas Markle’s eyes will have a little more sparkle than most” when he walks his daughter own the aisle. The booze, right? The Mirror says the “British public” will “instantly take to such a down-to-earth chap”.

That’s the divorcee sat in the gold coach, scarfing booze and puffing on a fag. And that’s Camilla wondering what might have been…

Posted: 8th, December 2017 | In: Celebrities, News, Royal Family, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Seeing students as a welfare issue demeans education

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

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

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

In today’s Guardian Kehinde Andrews writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Walking in polluted cities London is good for you

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

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

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

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

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

The study’s authors write:.

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

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

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

And:

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

And then:

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

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

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

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

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

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

And:

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

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

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


Meghan Markle: show us your dirty laundry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Donald Trump ate my bomb and other dinners

If we are what we eat, news that Donald Trump eats McDonald’s interests us. You might suppose it’s a clear sign that Trump is of the people. No, not at one with the abstemious dieters and juicers; rather allied to the fat Untermensch who like fast food.  It might also indicate that if you put his name on something he has to have it.

Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and aid David Bossie, have written a book about working with the President. Just as it is with showbiz weddings in OK! magazine and death row prisoners’ last rights, we want to know about the eats. “Trump’s appetite seems to know no bounds when it comes to McDonald’s, ” they write “with a dinner order consisting of two Big Macs, two Filet-O-Fish, and a chocolate malted.”

Deelish.

They continue: “On Trump Force One there were four major food groups: McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, pizza, and Diet Coke.”

Fried food chased down by the lo-cal beverage. The man can be restrained.

As Melania Trump watches her man eat and eat and eat from behind dark glasses, her nails taping on the ceiling of Air Force One as if if counting heartbeats, we read that the plane’s galley is “stacked with Vienna Fingers, potato chips, pretzels, and many packages of Oreos”.

Double deelish.

But hold on. James Hamblin looks into the entrails of Trump’s lunch and sees the whole man. Writing in the Atlantic, he opines:

Decisions to live this way would seem to offer insight into Trump’s ability to assess risk. In light of a nuclear standoff with North Korea, rapidly warming oceans, and a looming tax bill that would leave millions more Americans without health insurance, his approach to self-maintenance is not reassuring.

Vote for the vegetarian, right.

Posted: 6th, December 2017 | In: News, Politicians, The Consumer | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Damian Green: taxi for David Mellor and police in the dock

The Daily Damian: a look at de-facto Deputy Prime Minister Damian Green in the newspapers. We kick off on page 2 of the Daily Mirror, where former Tory minister David Mellor says Green would not be missed for a “millisecond”. Mellor, who fell on his bellend (surely sword – ed) in 1992 after a sleaze scandal, tells one and all: “Damian Green should have said, ‘I will resign to clear my name’ and he would have lots of sympathy.” But no job. Mellor adds: “Damian is the sort of guy who, under Mrs Thatcher, would have been the Minister of State for Latrines and would have lived in total obscurity.”

Sorry. Yes,. Mellor. M.E.L.. He’s the top bloke who told a London cabbie (something he later apologised for): “You’ve been driving a cab for 10 years, I’ve been in the cabinet, I’m an award-winning broadcaster, I’m a Queen’s Counsel. You think that your experiences are anything compared to mine?”

Ring a bell? No? This bloke:

david mellor newspapers sex

Yeah, him. But not her:

 

 

In the Sun, Green’s story is a police issue. On page 6, the paper hears Cressida Dick, the Met’s top copper, say is was “quite wrong” for “ex-Detective David Lewis to go public on the contents of Mr Green’s machine”. (That’s Green’s computer which allegedly contained lots of porn. He denies it.)

Nick Cohen writes in the Spectator:

The police, or rather the retired officers, want to use legal but shameful behaviour to destroy their target. In Russia, Putin’s agents send women to lure opposition activists into honey traps, then post sex tapes on the web. Our police seem too close to their colleagues in Moscow for comfort…

I am sure an eager detective could find something to discredit you. Everyone has legal but potentially shameful secrets, and if you do not, you are too good for this world…

But:

…the inquiry into Damian Green’s conduct has nothing to do with computer pornography real or imagined. Green is accused of the sexual harassment of Kate Maltby, a women 30 years his junior, and a family friend to boot.

I am told on good authority that it is not just Maltby’s story the inquiry is hearing. Other women have gone to Sue Gray, the director-general of propriety and ethics at the Cabinet Office, to tell stories of their own.

Should we hear them, too?

The Mail (page 4) continues to stick it to the police. Cressida Dick “condemns” police leakers. A Tory MP says Green is a “steady pair of hands”. No, not wandering. Steady.

On page 14, the Mail rages against “police flouting the law”. Police have made a “clear attempt to ruin Mr Green’ career”. On page 17, Richard Littlejohn wonders: “If the Deputy PM isn’t safe, what chance have we got?” Which makes you wonder why the Deputy PM should be viewed as being any different to the rest of us?

“Ex-officers may face court over MP porn claims’,” says the Express (page 2).

Meanwhile… the Cabinet Office has still to report on Green’s computer and Maltby. Why not let them do their job and see what occurs?

 

Posted: 5th, December 2017 | In: News, Politicians, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Thérèse Dreaming must be censored to save people from art

therese dreaming

 

To New York, where offence-seekers and defenders of sound morals are demanding the Metropolitan Museum of Art remove Balthasar Klossowski’s (1908-2001) painting, Thérèse Dreaming. Mia Merrill was “shocked” to see the painting. “It is disturbing that the Met would proudly display such an image,” Merrill told Care2, the self-styled “social network for good”. “They are a renowned institution and one of the largest, most respected art museums in the United States. The artist of this painting, Balthus, had a noted infatuation with pubescent girls and this painting is undeniably romanticizing the sexualization of a child.”

In 2013, when the Met created the 2014 exhibition Balthus: Cats and Girls—Paintings and Provocations the show came with a warning that read: “Some of the paintings in this exhibition may be disturbing to some visitors.” It stopped short of saying that the best art is unsettling and much of the other stuff is ‘meh’ – and failed to say why only “some visitors” would be disturbed. Why not all? That show also featured Thérèse Dreaming, one of 10 portraits of Thérèse Blanchard (1925-1950), Balthus’ young neighbour in his native Paris.

“If The Met had the wherewithal to reference the disturbing nature of Balthus in the 2013 exhibit, they understand the implications of displaying his art today,” Merrill laments. “Given the current climate around sexual assault and allegations that become more public each day, in showcasing this work for the masses, The Met is romanticizing voyeurism and the objectification of children.”

When asked about the poses of preadolescent girls in his work, Balthus said, “It is how they sit.” When asked why they did it, no child abuser cited Balthus.

But in the minds of the ‘good’ and caring, to see is to do. They have judged the art and found it wrong. It must be banned. Ideas that make them feel uncomfortable must be suppressed.

One look at the intense painting of a glowing and self-possessed Thérèse Blanchard, who was about twelve or thirteen at the time this picture was made, will turn the mentally negligible masses into child abusers. It must be censored by they who know best, those shiny-eyed seers who view the rest of us as suspects. Down the memory hole with this paintings, the statues, the art, the gender, the books, free expression and the birth names. The world’s being changed into a safe space. We’re all in therapy now.

Posted: 5th, December 2017 | In: News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Mark Clattenburg: I let Spurs lose the title at Chelsea

Like so many of you, I am a huge fan of the Premier League referees. Sadly, my Mark Clattenburg replica kit is now a ‘vintage’ item on match days following ‘Clatts’ departure to Saudi Arabia.

Clattenburg (‘REF – HERO – LEGEND’) has been on NBC’s Men in Blazers podcast, reliving the glory days when he “allowed Tottenham to self-destruct” in their 2-2 draw with Chelsea in May 2016. Spurs had to win the match to keep their Premier League title challenge alive.

And for such an important match they were awarded Clattenburg, who booked nine Spurs players. Argy-bargy after the match also helped Chelsea and Tottenham receive record fines from the Football Association, and Spurs’ Mousa Dembele was banned for six games for violent conduct.

“I allowed them [Spurs] to self-destruct so all the media, all the people in the world went: ‘Tottenham lost the title’,” says Clatts. “If I sent three players off from Tottenham, what are the headlines? ‘Clattenburg cost Tottenham the title.’ It was pure theatre that Tottenham self-destructed against Chelsea and Leicester won the title.”

Football’s Andrew Lloyd Webber (surely Webber is theatre’s Clattenburg? – ed) continues: “Some referees would have played by the book; Tottenham would have been down to seven or eight players and probably lost and they would’ve been looking for an excuse. But I didn’t give them an excuse, because my gameplan was: Let them lose the title.”

Who needs rules when you have a ref like Clattenburg? All together now for that familiar match-day chant one last time: Whose the w***** in the black? “One FA Cup and three UEFA Finals, do-dah, do-dah.”

 

Posted: 4th, December 2017 | In: Chelsea, News, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Damian Green: flagrant abuse is what we love best

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

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

 

damian green

0800GREEN – HOW MUCH ABUSE CAN HE TAKE?

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lax security in parliament. Who knew?

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

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

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


Brexit means we will all ‘starve’ says Downing Street winer maker

We are all going to starve because of Brexit. Over the newswires we read that the chief executive of Chapel Down, a Kent wine maker that supplies plonk to 10 Downing Street, telling us that Britons will “starve” if Brexit means an end to cheap fruit pickers imported from overseas.

Frazer Thompson opines: “The biggest potential impact of Brexit is on agricultural labour. Kent has had eastern Europeans picking fruit in recent years, but we’ll all starve if the labour issue is not sorted after Brexit.”

Dead. All dead. And you thank Brexit for it. But hold on moment, why don’t we – and let’s just toss this out there – trade with other countries who have lots of fruit? Says Thompson: “We want a resolution to allow us to have freedom of movement for labour to pick the fruit. This is something that affects all fruit farmers across the south-east of England. I’m hoping it will be sorted out and I hope they won’t close the doors, as if there’s no one to pick the fruit, we’ll have to import everything.”

So British fruit remains unpicked because it’s too expensive to pick here and because it’s less expensive to pick over there we import the stuff. So what’s the problem? Is that the English wine made from English grapes will be more expensive than the English wine made from Greek, Portuguese, Hungary or Romanian grapes? Or why not go outside the EU and buy grapes from places where labour is even cheaper, like Chile and South Africa?

Or why not get the fruit-pickers from within the EU zone visas?

Once upon a time, of course, fruit was picked by seasonal workers – you know, people who went somewhere to do a job and then moved on. But if the peasants are too expensive for the farmer, why not invest in a machine?

 

 

Posted: 4th, December 2017 | In: Money, News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Meghan Markle’s dad Thomas is an international man of mystery

Meghan Markle has a “mysterious dad”. And by mysterious we mean not a man who weaves mysteries, vanishes in puff of smoke or is, as one dictionary defines it, “difficult or impossible to understand, explain, or identify.” We mean a man who doesn’t much fancy being a celebrity.

The Daily Mirror makes Thomas Markle Senior its front-page story. They say that aside from his family, “no-one even knows where Thomas Markle Senior is.” It might be less a mystery than a question of budgets and being bothered to track down a man who was living in Rosario Beach on Mexico’s Baja California Peninsular. He moved on, says the Mirror, “determined to avoid any chance of public attention”.

 

Thomas Markle

 

Not that the man’s absence detracts from the story. He “gets by on his £1,307 monthly pension”, we learn. How the Mirror knows what money he earns and spends is moot. The ‘facts’ are provided to fit the narrative of the future princess’s dad living if not in poverty then at least in humdrum simplicity. Thomas is “driving around in an old batted blue Chrysler PT Cruiser”. His new family-to-be are “one of the richest and most powerful in the world”. He “devoted his life to his daughter”. He “may” be avoiding the spotlight “due to the humiliation of bankruptcy”.

Thomas Markle’s “solitary life means Harry has still not met his future father-in-law”. Or as the Mail puts it: “EXCLUSIVE: Prince Harry has met his girlfriend Meghan Markle’s father.”

 

Thomas Markle

 

 

That’s not to say the Mail isn’t also on the scent.

“Why is Meghan’s dad so determined to hide from the world?” wonders the Mail. “Where is the elusive Mr Markle? Why has this enigmatic man concealed his whereabouts so determinedly?” And: “After all, placed in his position, many fathers would be singing their joy from the rooftops.” Why, because an American – a citizen of the world’s greatest republic, a bastion of freedom and hope to the world – is getting shackled to a man who symbolises inequality? Maybe not because the Sun says Meghan’s dad is “said to be impressed by Prince Harry”.

Shedding light on the international man of mystery is Thomas’s brother Michael, who tells everyone: “Tom is trying to comply with the royal directive to keep a low profile so that’s where he’s coming from. He doesn’t want to upset the Royal Family.” Indeed, there’s nothing like a normal bloke to undo the ‘magic’ of monarchy.

 

Posted: 4th, December 2017 | In: Celebrities, News, Royal Family, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Sunderland fan takes poo in the stands as Black Cats lose to Reading

How poor is your side performing? One Sunderland fan allegedly expressed his dissatisfaction with doings at the Stadium of Light by pulling down his trousers and laying a pipe. As the Black Cats toiled to a 3-1 loss to Reading, twitter users claims the man pulled down his pants and pooed on the seat, causing a fan sitting nearby vomit.

Reports abound that police took the site-down protestor away.

 

 

Stadium of shite:

Posted: 3rd, December 2017 | In: Back pages, News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Media obsession over Kate Maltby and Damian Green is something Rotherham girls can only dream of

It’s always big news when a journalist becomes the story. Access is easy.  The newspaper with the hack’s number on speed-dial gets to ride high on the news cycle and be relevant. And all other media can take sides and judge. Kate Malby is the young Conservative activist in the limelight, writing in the Times about how “awkward I felt” when Damian Green, the Tory MP and first secretary of state, allegedly came on to her. He denies doing so. But the story is out there. And it’s open season on Green and Maltby, teh story veering between the invasive and the endemic.

Maltby kicked off her story with context. “After the Weinstein scandal we are asking new questions about the sexual abuse of power: all to the good,” she wrote, linking a powerful Hollywood figure’s alleged rapes and serious sexual assaults to her experience. What did Green do? Was it criminal?

Mr Green is almost exactly 30 years older than me. He has always cropped up in the peripheral circle of my parents’ acquaintances; he generously agreed to be interviewed by my school newspaper when I was the 16-year-old editor and he the shadow education minister.

Oh, god no!

I did not conduct the interview myself, and had no contact again until I became involved in Tory activism in my twenties.

Ah. Phew! The 16-year-old and the man in this 40s is not a story laced with sex and crime. We rejoin the story with Maltby in her twenties…

At that point I began to ask him for advice on internal matters. We met for a daytime coffee in 2014 to discuss a political essay collection I was co-editing. He was helpful and avuncular…

We fast forward to 2015, Maltby and Green are meeting once more:

He steered the conversation to the habitual nature of sexual affairs in parliament. He told a funny story about finding himself in a lift with the Cameron aide Rachel Whetstone and her alleged lover, Samantha Cameron’s stepfather, Lord Astor. He mentioned that his own wife was very understanding. I felt a fleeting hand against my knee – so brief, it was almost deniable. I moved my legs away, and tried to end the drink on friendly terms. I then dropped all contact for a year. I wanted nothing to do with him.

Awkward, right enough.

For a while I wondered if I’d imagined the incident. I had no proof. And was I self-regarding to think myself attractive? Women are trained to doubt our desirability.

Only women? Aren’t men also presented with ideals? They go loopy for a man with his shirt off drinking a Coca Cola or serving a yoghurt, but can only pity the hapless husband who can’t operate soap. And aren’t men now being recast as suspects? An LA Times article told us: “Sexual harassment is neither a Republican problem nor a Democratic one. It’s a man problem.” Like womanhood before liberation, manhood is a restrictive condition.

In May 2016, Maltby was” persuaded by The Times to write a piece about the history of corsets… It ended up being quite light-hearted, and I was talked into posing in a not-very-revealing corset.” The phone rang. It was Green:

“Long time no see. But having admired you in a corset in my favourite tabloid I feel impelled to ask if you are free for a drink anytime?” I ignored the message.

Indeed. She “wanted nothing more to do with him”.

Six weeks later, David Cameron fell and Mr Green was suddenly one of the most important men in Theresa May’s cabinet. As an aspirant political writer, it seemed impossible to avoid him professionally. So I sent him a message. “Many congratulations on joining the cabinet — you and your family must be delighted. I’ll look forward to seeing what you achieve in government.”

Cue Jan Moir, Mrs Michael Gove, the apogee of school gates knowing, who tells Mail readers:

Clearly driven mad with lust by the sight of the 31-year-old in a lace-up bodice and lumpy leggings, Green had only one thing on his mind. The brute! So she ‘actively ignored him’ until this June, when he was suddenly promoted to Deputy PM in Theresa May’s new government. The fact that Green was suddenly hugely important did not escape the single-minded Miss Maltby, who put the trauma of what had happened behind her and began texting him again.

 

maltby green

 

Will anyone stick up for ‘Miss’ lumpy legs? The Mail won’t. It’s Team Green, backing the man allegedly involved in Daily Mail scoops? The Mail’s double-page spread comes with a free hatchet:

One very pushy lady: Kate Maltby’s dad is a banker who dated Ann Widdecombe, and a family friend of the minister she accuses of touching her knee. ANDREW PIERCE profiles a woman determined to make it in politics – whatever the cost

Isn’t being determined a good thing?

Kate was brought up in Geneva, Switzerland, before the family moved back to Britain and into their £5 million home in Holland Park, West London. Kate, a highly- strung teenager, dropped out of Cheltenham Ladies’ College and moved to the £25,000-a-year St Paul’s Girls’ School.

Well-travelled, well-connected and well educated. Maltby can either spend her days lunching or work hard to put her nous to good use. Good on her for having a go, right?

In 2012, Maltby moved into a £1.3 million flat in Notting Hill… She bought the flat, now worth around £2 million, with no mortgage.

Which surely garners the reaction: so what? If this were a story about how anyone seeking a career in media needs to have private means, then we’d get it. We’d expect every Mail’s byline to come with a word on the writer’s schooling, market rate of their home and a family tree linking them to the owner. But it’s a story is about a woman feeling uncomfortable.

While she was in Notting Hill, the ambitious Maltby targeted Samantha Cameron… One member of the now defunct Notting Hill set recalled: ‘She was relentless and persistent in courting Mrs Cameron and others. We all got bombarded with emails and calls from her after she just sort of appeared in our midst. But I’m afraid there was something not quite right. I wasn’t sure we could ever fully trust her.’

And who better to trust than the anonymous source? The same or maybe it’s another anonymous voice tells us: “She might be more careful the next time she’s asked to write a piece trashing a decent man.”

Team Green is in full cry, then? But in the New Statesman, Sarah Ditum says Maltby is “paying the price” for speaking out as a woman. Damian Green’s relations with Maltby are being investigated by Cabinet Office. Green is also being investigated for alleged misuse of his Commons computer, namely to access porn, something he denies. Anna Soubry, a Tory MP, says he should be suspended. A “senior figure” tells the Sunday Times Green should contemplate suicide: “It’s time for the whisky and the revolver.”

Ditum wonders: “How posh does a woman have to be for her account of a man’s behaviour to be dismissed? How ambitious?”

The questions are rhetorical. It’s also clear Ditum is writing less about Maltby than the Mail’s reaction to her. You see. Media loves to talk about media. It’s the easiest news beat there is.

And if accusations of betraying friends, shaming family and publicising herself are too mild for you, don’t worry: Jan Moir is there on the facing page, calling Maltby “poison”, “disingenuous” and “not afraid to use all her charms to get herself noticed”.

But what about Maltby?

When a woman comes forward, she knows her credibility will be undermined, her past picked over and her character demolished. She might, like Labour activist Bex Bailey when she reported a rape, simply be told to hush up.

Rape? Is the heinous crime of rape relevant to Green? Isn’t that, you know, a bit unfair? Isn’t this about an alleged light brush of the knee, and flirtation? And if the media wants to investigate young vulnerable women being abused by older men, why don’t they talk more about attitudes to poor women in Rotherham and elsewhere? No #MeToo hashtags for the poor, ordinary and isolated. You stat to wonder if this about women or class? To rework Ditum’s question: How poor does a woman have to be for her account of a man’s behaviour to be dismissed? And does she have to live in London?

She continues:

When a national paper is willing to go to war for the hand on the knee and the presumptuous text, it’s not because they fear for one man’s career (which, again, was never threatened by Maltby): it’s because these are the things that keep women where we are.

Which is…where? Writing a column in a national newspaper or magazine? Four days after her original story, Maltby wrote in the Times:

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC came forward to confirm that I had confided in her a year ago about Green and was unlikely to have fabricated the story. At least two other women have said the same in public — and there are others who have offered to give similar evidence in private to a forthcoming Cabinet Office inquiry.

So my accusers changed tack. Seeming to accept that I genuinely believe my own claims, “friends of Damian Green” now suggest I may not have been able to tell the difference between the touch of a human hand and the flicker of tablecloth. This is the only story in a very difficult week that has given me reason to crack a hollow smile. Women know the difference between a hand and a tablecloth.

Women do. But do men, who are clueless when it comes to household items and laundry. Discuss.

Posted: 3rd, December 2017 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Damian Green, Jacqui Smith and watching porn on The Job

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

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

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

Lewis told the BBC:

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

A spokesman for Mr Green tells us, precisely:

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

The police add in a statement:

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

Jim Waterson, of Buzzfeed News, tweeted:

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

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

Matthew Parris in the Times:

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

The Register adds:

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

And the backstory?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Back to the Guardian:

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

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

In the Mail, any word on that?

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

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

Adding:

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

Or as the Guardian reports:

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

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

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

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

One day they’ll let robots run us…

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


Daily Mail reported Mugabe’s demise 2 days before he went

As Robert Mugabe spends time with his money, it’s worth noting how the Mail knew he was going well before anyone else. On November 19 at 5:08 pm, the Mail thundered: “Robert Mugabe STEPS DOWN to end 37 years in power.” The was wrong, of course, Mugabe resigned two days later.

robert mugabe daily mail

 

How did the Mail know? And what were those people celebrating – Mugabe’s staying and going? The Mail’s Facebook page published this update:

 

robert mugabe daily mail error

 

Follow the link and the Mail story now reads: “Robert Mugabe now faces impeachment after REFUSING to resign”. Indeed, the paper’s Twitter link is confused. Having stated that Mugabe was gone, the updated teaser was picked up and tells readers: “Robert Mugabe REFUSES to step down.”

 

 

Such are the facts.

 

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


Bournemouth v Harry Redknapp in new flats row

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

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

What a basta…

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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


David Dearlove: the Facebook photo that jailed a child killer

dearlove booth crime scene

 

David Dearlove is starting a life sentence for the murder of Paul Booth. David Dearlove is 71. He will serve at least 13 years behind bars. Paul Booth is 19 months old. He will always be 19 months old because on October 1 1968 David Dearlove swung him by the ankles and smashed his step-son’s head into a fireplace.

We only know what happened because Paul’s brother Peter saw it all when he went downstairs to fetch a drink. Peter was three-years-old when he peered through the crack in the door and saw the horror. Having seen his brother murdered by their stepfather – Dearlove had moved into their home in Stockton, Teesside, one month earlier – Peter ran back upstairs.

How did the authorities think the toddler died? The inquest into Paul Booth’s death delivered an open verdict.

 

dearlove booth crime scene

 

In 2015, Peter did tell the police what he’d seen. His sense of injustice and anger was triggered by a photograph posted by a family member on Facebook. The photo (above) shows his younger brother sat on Dearlove’s knee. “Dearlove’s son David posted an image of his dad with Paul and I got angry,” Mr Booth told jurors at Tyneside Crown court. “I did not want it on there because of what he had done to Paul and what he had done to me.”

 

 

The killer denied it all. He said Peter was a liar. He said Paul Booth was instrumental in his own death, claiming he’d fallen out of bed on to a concrete floor.

The court heard Dearlove had a history of violence towards Peter, Paul and their sister Stephanie Marron.

“What happened behind closed doors stayed behind closed doors,” Peter told jurors. “You didn’t tittle-tattle. You don’t tell tales. So everything that happened I just kept it to myself. You just got on with it. You’d cry yourself to sleep.” Peter told how Dearlove tortured him. He held him under water in the bath. He stood him outside in the cold and ran his hands under ice-cold water. He beat him.

Stephanie told the court that Dearlove punched her “full force” in the stomach. He’d lay on top of her until she could not breathe. “I can still feel his weight,” she said.

And then we know this: the Crown Prosecution Service told the court it had not been able to exhume Paul’s body as burial records had been lost. On October 7 1968 Paul Booth was buried at the Haverton Hill baptist church, since closed and demolished. The case would reply on the documents prepared for his inquest at the time. Paul’s mother Carol Boot died in 1991.

Would the records be enough?

 

dearlove booth crime scene

 

Thankfully, the coroner’s report contained photographs (above). They showed injuries to Paul’s feet and ankles, older bruising to his body, that his front teeth had been knocked out and, most damning, a Z-shape injury that crossed two plates in his skull. Had he hit the floor, as Dearlove claimed, the wound would have been in a straight line.

Indeed. Why didn’t that occur to anyone at the original inquest? Why did a postmortem cause the police spokesman to “rule out foul play”?

Paul Booth was remarkably accident prone on Dearlove’s watch. He fell down the stairs. And:

Pictures from inside the Rodney Street home [above] show the hot water pipes Dearlove claimed little Paul had burned his hand on. They also show a moped he claimed had fallen on Paul, which left him with visible bruising.

And then there was that fatal wound to his head.

 

dearlove booth crime scene

The killer

 

Outside court, Paul’s family make a statement:

“Thinking about this makes us sad, as Paul would have been a man, no doubt married and more than likely with children of his own.

“However, sadly Paul was not given the opportunity to live his life due to the cruel and wicked actions of David Dearlove.

“This was a man who entered Paul’s life and was supposedly to act as a father figure to Paul. A man, who was supposed to care for him and look after him. Instead of doing this he ended Paul’s life in the most violent way.

“The actions of David Dearlove on 1st October 1968 not only physically killed Paul but also destroyed his memory. He was buried into an unmarked grave the location of which remains unknown and he was not spoken about for many years.

“However, we now believe as a family that this court case has shown everyone that Paul did live a life and that his memory will never be forgotten. Naturally we are delighted as a family that justice has now been done, even if it did take 47 years to achieve it.

“David Dearlove is now behind bars.

“This has been a long journey to get to this point and we would like to thank Cleveland Police and those that assisted in bringing the case to court. We now hope to move on with our lives, and with justice having been served, hope that Paul can now rest in peace.”

Paul Booth RIP.

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