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Barry R. Glazer might be the world’s most honest lawyer: ‘I’m in it for vengeance’

 

Baltimore-based lawyer Barry R. Glazer is “in it for vengeance”. He has money. He’s been an attorney since 1968. And the principle – that thing that makes lawyer’s go ker-ching! – is for the idiots. This is about retribution. If his gun jammed, Judge Dredd would hire Barry Glazer.

Barry’s been hailed in film. You’ll hear his catchphrase – “Don’t urinate on my leg and tell me it’s raining” – and that he’s “Making it rain for the urinated upon”:

 

 

And now for more messages from Barry:

 

Posted: 15th, December 2017 | In: News, The Consumer | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Racist woman thrown out of Starbucks

To a Starbucks in Walnut Creek, Cali., where a woman on a lap top is berating a woman for speaking Korean in her vicinity. The LA Times hears the women tell Korean student Annie An: “This is America. Use English only… Your language is disgusting.”

We don’t know all that went on before. But we do know that the woman was filmed and the footage was uploaded to the web.

 

Starbucks row Korean

 

A Starbucks workers asks the woman to leave.  “You’re going to be in trouble when I get this letter out,” she say tapping on her keyboard. “You’re pressing numbers over and over again,” says a voice.

According to An, no fewer than three police officers lead the woman away.

 

 

Anyone else like to know more before they pass judgement? But, yeah, right: anyone using a lap top around all those hot drinks deserves everything they get.

Posted: 15th, December 2017 | In: News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Asthmatics gasp as another British cycling champion is accused of cheating

Has anyone blamed Chris Frome’s failed drugs test on Russia yet? Tour de France winner Frome was found to have high levels of an asthma drug in his urine. He might well be innocent, of course. And if he can explain the discrepancy, Frome will not earn a year-long ban from the sport. He says he is innocent. “My asthma got worse at the Vuelta [a Espana],” says Frome, “so I followed the tram doctor’s advice to increase my Salbutamol dosage. I tok the greatest care to ensure I did not use more than the permissible dose.”

In the meanwhile, the BBC has to work out if the cyclist should appear on Sports Personality of the Year. “It’s a massive headache, one which the BBC should do without,” says a BBC “source” in the Mirror. What asthma sufferers make of it is not mentioned. Presumably, they’re affronted that a man who has apparently overcome the condition with such gusto is being pilloried and possible censored.

Not that this is new. Bradley Wiggins, like Frome a Tour de France winner with Team Sky, has suffered with asthma. And like Frome, treatment of his condition has proven problematic. Perhaps asthmatics should confine their sporting activities to chess and panting down telephone sex lines?

As the BBC gets in a tizz about role models and who is fit to appear on its show, we get a bit more about Frome and Wiggins in the Mail. The paper picks up on a Facebook post by Lady Catherine Wiggins, Sir Bradley’s wife, in which she opines: “I’m going to be sick. Nothing in the news. If I was given to conspiracy theory I’d allege they’d thrown my boy under the bus on purpose to cover for this slithering reptile.” To ensure readers were not left in any doubt as to the identity of the reptile, Lady Wiggins’ post came with a photo of Frome.

Her ladyship has now removed the post and has posted an apology: “Sorry everyone for my emotional comments and insults. Too much stress got the better of me. Heat of the moment thing and certainly not my intent to fan the flames.”

No flames without smoke. Best open the window and let some sunlight and fresh air in. It’s getting claustrophobic for the asthmatics…

PS: what is it with cycling and asthma?

An assessment of the British Cycling team before the 2004 Olympics showed that around 40 per cent had asthma compared to only about eight per cent of the general population. For [Dr John Dickinson] Dickinson, this discrepancy stands to reason.

“Athletes are far more prone to asthma-related problems, mainly because of the environments they’re exposed to and the conditions required by the sport, such as the high breathing rates over prolonged periods.

“Cycling is done outdoors, often in dry, polluted air — there are lots of reasons for the high prevalence.”

And then there are the overtaking estate cars, media vehicles, villagers firing compressed-air horns into your eyeballs, finding the throat to scream “Get out the f***ing way” in French as you ascend a mountain pass Tibetan Sherpas view as a bit on the slippery side of steep, and the organ throttling lycra. It’s a miracle cyclists can breathe at all.

Posted: 15th, December 2017 | In: News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Student cleared of rape after police wrongly withheld evidence of his innocence

Spare a few thoughts today for Liam Allan. Accused of the heinous crime of rape, 22-year-old Allan, a student at Greenwich University, protested his innocence. He spent two years on bail, the horror hanging over him. He’d be warned that if found guilty he could expect a ten-year prison sentence.

And, then, when the case came before the judge at Croydon Crown Court, after three days of debate Jerry Hayes, the prosecuting barrister, told the room: “I would like to apologise to Liam Allan. There was a terrible failure in disclosure which was inexcusable…There could have been a very serious miscarriage of justice, which could have led to a very significant period of imprisonment and life on the sex offenders register. It appears the [police] officer in the case has not reviewed the disk, which is quite appalling.”

The disc was a computer disc. On it were copies of 40,000 messages from the alleged victim’s telephone. Liam Allan’s lawyers never saw the disc until very late. Police told them there was no need to because the disc contained nothing of importance to the case for defence nor prosecution. But it did. A new prosecution barrister ordered police to hand over any telephone records before the trial began. On the disc were messages revealing that the woman had asked Mr Allan for “casual sex”. She told friends she enjoyed sex with Allan – she had told police she did not enjoy sex. She discussed her fantasies of being raped.

Julia Smart, part of Allan’s defence team, only received the details of the woman’s text messages the night before she was scheduled to cross-examine her. She spend the night reading them.

Mr Allan tells The Times: “I can’t explain the mental torture of the past two years. I feel betrayed by the system which I had believed would do the right thing.” His mother, Lorraine Allan, added: “In the current climate, in these sorts of cases, you are guilty until you can prove you are innocent. The assumption is there is no smoke without fire.”

Ruling Allan innocent of all charges, Judge Peter Gower told one and all: “There is something that has gone wrong and it is a matter that the CPS, in my judgment, should be considering at the very highest level,. Otherwise there is a risk not only of this happening again but that the trial process will not detect what has gone wrong and there will be a very serious miscarriage of justice. He [Mr Allan] leaves the courtroom an innocent man without a stain on his character… It seems to me to be a recipe for disaster if material is not viewed by a lawyer,” he said. “Something has gone very, very wrong in the way this case was investigated and brought to court.”

Is there an agenda at play?

 

Posted: 15th, December 2017 | In: Broadsheets, News | Comments (2) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Same-sex couple win NHS IVF case

Here’s a story in the Telegraph about IVF and same-sex couple seeking children.

Laura Hineson and Rachel Morgan were told by their local NHS Clinical Commissioning Group they would have to spend £6,000 on six rounds of intrauterine insemination due to unexplained infertility.

Go on…

However, under Barnsley CCG’s policy, a heterosexual couple with similarly unexplained infertility would not need to undergo the same procedure before being granted access to IVF treatment.

Er, can a heterosexual partnership experience the same fertility issues as a same-sex partnership? Discuss.

The actual story is one of people looking to share love and parent a child. Laura Hineson and Rachel Morgan have been trying to have a baby via the emotionally and physically taxing method of artificial insemination. Having paid for private IVF, the couple explored getting help through the NHS. p

Pink News notes:

This week the couple, who had perused legal action against NHS Barnsley Clinical Commissioning Group on the grounds of unlawful discrimination, were successful in securing access to IVF treatment.

The couple say: “For us, this is about fighting for LGBT equality. We should have equal access to IVF treatment and a family, irrespective of the gender of the person we fall in love with.”

Seems fair enough, no? To borrow the words of bioethicist Dominic Wilkinson, “it is profoundly unjust to apply restrictions to reproduction only on those who are unable to conceive by natural means”. IVF is parenting just it is by any other method. He adds: “‘If the state is going to interfere in couples’ decisions about whether to have children or the number of children that they have, it should do so fairly and equally.”

Pink ads:

The couple, who struggled with unexplained infertility, had been told that they would be required to undergo a total of six rounds of private intrauterine insemination (IUI) – at a cost of approximately £6,000 – before being able to access funded IVF treatment.

Under NHS Barnsley CCG’s policy, a heterosexual couple with similarly unexplained infertility does not need to undergo clinical IUI before being granted access to IVF treatment.

The policy stated that heterosexual couples would be offered IVF treatment if they had been unsuccessful after trying to conceive for two years, among other criteria.

Good for them. Most of us can have a child without seeking State approval and being means tested if the bits aren’t working. If you start licensing parenthood, at least be consistent. To have the State investigate not only your relationship but also your reproductive organs is a trial. If you are going to afford same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples, to make them pay a surcharge for their love is wholly wrong.

Posted: 14th, December 2017 | In: News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Relive the ‘impossible gloom’ of 1970s Britain with Abba’s London show

 

Ah, the glorious Seventies, when the gap between the top and lowest earner was closer. At the Abba: Super Troupers show at London’s Southbank Centre, visitors get to relive the wonder of power strikes, the three-day week, rubbish going uncollected and condensation on the inside of windows. “You get very close to the reality of Britain in the 70s,” says Abba’s Björn Ulvaeus. “I had no idea it was so gloomy.”

Well, hold your breath, Björn, because a vote for Jeremy Corbyn will bring those good times rolling on back. Less for all and politics wrapped in identity. Just like it was back then, only with less funny comedians and better telly.

“It is the opposite of all those huge technically advanced virtual reality exhibitions that most of those pop groups have,” the Abba bloke who stands up continues. “This is much more intimate, it’s warm, it’s full of a sense of humour.”

Abba, of course, came to the fore in the 1970s, winning the Eurovision song contest when it really counted for something, taking top spot in 1974 with the brilliant Waterloo. The contest was held in Brighton that year, but Björn says he and the rest of the band were only in the country for two days and never realised how “impossibly gloomy” the place was.

Now thanks to the show, we and he can journey back in time to those halcyon says.

 

 

Ulvaeus says he never imagined Abba would endure through the decades. “It is kind of weird, but you get used to it,” he says.

You can get used to anything – like being cold indoors, no mixer taps and spending years dressed in brown velveteen jumpers. The itchiness just became ubiquitous. And then came the 1980s…

Posted: 14th, December 2017 | In: Celebrities, Music, News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Indian bookmakers offer to fix The Ashes and offer odds on Pope wearing funny hat

After two matches played, England’s cricketers are two down in The Ashes best of five series. You might think the results so far were down to a combination of poor England performances and a superior Australian team. But you’d be wrong. Maybe. The Sun leads with news that bookmakers have been plotting to fix the games.

The paper says it’s been handed a “bombshell dossier to the International Cricket Council which details attempts to fix” the Third Test.

 

fix ashes the sun

 

Would it be possible to fix a Test without anyone realising? You could argue that an England victory would be so shocking that no-one would notice peculiar betting patterns. We’d be too busy head-butting one another, dousing themselves in beer and arranging time off work to watch the victory bus on its way to Downing Street. And if Australia win, well, plus ca change.

The Sun shines a light on two men. Sobers Joban and Priyank Saxena allegedly asked for up to £140,000 to “spot fix” markets, such as the exact amount of runs scored in an over. It’s alleged that when a cheating player gives a secret signal – a fielder moves to a certain position; bowling a first-ball wide; wearing a long-sleeve top; tugging his ear; tugging the umpire’s ear; etc. – a network of bookmakers gamble “millions” on the sure thing. We also hear of India’s ‘Mr Big’ and Australian cricket’s ‘The Silent Man’.

Who they? Dunno. So the Sun tells us a bit more about the people it did meet, who can allegedly reveal all for a not inconsiderable consideration. Around a photo of Joban dressed in cricket gear we read about his “lavish lifestyle”, house in the “swanky, diplomatic area of Delhi” and his engagement “to a Russian martial arts specialist”. Saxena “was described by his partner Sobers as a tobacco and spice tycoon with business interests in South Africa”.

They urged our investigators, who posed as financiers for underworld London bookies, to pour millions into a new Zimbabwean league where matches would be fixed.

Corruption. In Zimbabwe?! Say it ain’t true, Joe!

Joban allegedly told the paper:

“I will give you work in Ashes Test. Session runs. Maybe day one, two, three. We have two session work, one session costs 60 lakh rupees (£69,000), two sessions 120 lakh rupees (138,000).

“If you are interested Priyank will talk to the Silent Man. If you want to go with him alright, but you will not sit in meeting. I don’t know what he give, script or session.

“Right now if I tell you he want one crore (£116,000), he might want five crores (£580,000).”

Fast forward a few hours and the ICC is on the case. “We have now received all materials relating to The Sun investigation,” says Alex Marshall, the ICC general manager anti-corruption. “There is no indication that any players in this Test have been in contact with the alleged fixers.”

England captain Joe Root tells BBC Test Match Special: “It’s very sad that this has been written about. We’ve got to focus on this Test match and do everything we can to win it.”Australia captain Steve Smith adds: “As far as I know, there’s nothing that’s been going on or anything like that. There’s no place for that in our game.”

In other news: anyone who wants to know the result, can contact us on the usual address. For £850,000, we will tell them who is going to win The Ashes. But given that you’re our loyal readers, we’ll let you in on the secret: keep your eyes on Joe Root’s wicket. When the umpire raises his finger, it’s on!

 

Posted: 14th, December 2017 | In: Back pages, Money, News, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Tania Amisi jailed: Express turns crook into a story about immigration

If Tania Amisi is “Queen of the Scroungers”, are her subjects also scroungers? And where might they be found?

The Express leads with Tania Amisi, 27, who on Monday began a four-year prison sentence for defrauding 22 councils out of at least £244,000. She raked in the cash by claiming benefits on properties she did not live in. To put the tin id on it, she was living in a swanky flat in Chelsea Harbour.

 

Tania Amisi

 

Congo-born Amis, who came the UK as a 12-year-old asylum seeker (she was granted indefinite leave to stay) after her father was murdered, would have most likely gone to prison earlier, having pleaded guilty to three charges of fraud. But she legged it. The law caught up with her in Paris in July.

On Monday the judge at Southwark Crown Court told her:

“You had a flat in Chelsea paid for by your fraudulent activities and your son had all the material benefits he could want. Once discovered, you could not face up to the consequences and you fled to mainland Europe until you were brought back.”

So how do you tell the story?

The BBC told it in a story called Britain on the Fiddle:

 

 

Over in the Express, there’s no word on why Amisi was granted asylum. The paper punctuates its front-page story with a “Daily Express Vote” (page 5) in which readers are invited to respond to the question “Should Britain be more careful about who get asylum?” – which begs another question not asked by the paper: how can you best vet a 12-year-old whose dad’s been murdered for any future crimes she may commit?

To help Express readers reach an answer, on page 12 the paper delivers the editorial: “Fraudster made fortune from soft-touch Britain.” Amisi is the “pregnant mother-of-three, who came to Britain from the Congo as an asylum seeker”. When she was 12. She didn’t come when she was pregnant and take Britain as a soft touch by pointing to her kids and her bump. This is a story on benefits fraud. But the Express makes immigration its thrust.

The London Evening Standard mentions Amisi’s place of birth not once. The Guardian doesn’t report on the story at all. But to the Express she is “the shameless former asylum seeker”. Why can’t she just be a crook?

 

Posted: 13th, December 2017 | In: Key Posts, Money, News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Johnny Depp: JK Rowling defends a man’s right to earn a living

depp

 

Do we look at actors pretending to be other people and beings from fact and fiction, and think they should have had their morals checked before getting the part? Moral thinking can change, so if we are going to check people’s minds, we need to review the past in a modern light, too, in case someone impressionable and vulnerable looks at them and copies their lives. You know how it works: you watch Clark Gable and Carole Lombard in No Man of Her Own, realise he’s cheating on his wife with her, pull on a vest, grow a moustache and shag a colleague.

Blessedly, Kevin Spacey, now the subject of sexual abuse allegations, has been removed from the next series of House of Cards, the TV show in which he plays the main characterVariety reports that “producers plan on scrapping most, if not all, of the footage shot during the roughly two weeks of season-six production that had taken place in October”.

You can still catch Spacey on reruns, but perhaps they too will be binned, just as the BBC purged its archives of Jimmy Savile, both real and imagined. Spacey’s accusers have not had their claims tested in court, their allegations not yet made to vault all those hurdles to justice. He says he’s innocent. But lest we be upset by the look and sight of Spacey playing a murderous figure on the telly, he’s been dismissed.

So when Johnny Deppp was cast in JK Rowling’s Fantastic BeastsThe Crimes of Grindelwald, there were howls of outrage. This is Depp whose then wife Amber Heard accused him of subjecting her to domestic abuse. Depp denied any wrongdoing. The couple divorced. And that was that.

Until that is Deep went to get a job. Rowling, an intelligent woman, told everyone: “Based on our understanding of the circumstances, the filmmakers and I are genuinely happy to have Johnny playing a major character in the movies.”

But some people were dismayed. In what she terms “a post-Weinstein world”, one writer says casting Depp in the show “breaks my heart”. She adds:

The practice of giving men in power the benefit of the doubt simply because other powerful people vouch for them is sometimes known by another name: rape culture.

Well, that escalated quickly. Rape? Depp is presumed innocent, right? And we don’t own him. He’s a private individual. Rowling says just that in her statement:

When Johnny Depp was cast as Grindelwald, I thought he’d be wonderful in the role. However, around the time of filming his cameo in the first movie, stories had appeared in the press that deeply concerned me and everyone most closely involved in the franchise.

Harry Potter fans had legitimate questions and concerns about our choice to continue with Johnny Depp in the role. As David Yates, long-time Potter director, has already said, we naturally considered the possibility of recasting. I understand why some have been confused and angry about why that didn’t happen.

The huge, mutually supportive community that has grown up around Harry Potter is one of the greatest joys of my life. For me personally, the inability to speak openly to fans about this issue has been difficult, frustrating and at times painful. However, the agreements that have been put in place to protect the privacy of two people, both of whom have expressed a desire to get on with their lives, must be respected. Based on our understanding of the circumstances, the filmmakers and I are not only comfortable sticking with our original casting, but genuinely happy to have Johnny playing a major character in the movies.

I’ve loved writing the first two screenplays and I can’t wait for fans to see ‘The Crimes of Grindelwald’. I accept that there will be those who are not satisfied with our choice of actor in the title role. However, conscience isn’t governable by committee. Within the fictional world and outside it, we all have to do what we believe to be the right thing.

How great is that. She gets it. “JK Rowling endorsed Johnny Depp and betrayed millions of women,” laments the Independent, which thinks women are best served by subjecting private lives and relationships between the sexes to forensic scrutiny; equating accusation with guilt; and believing that no-one of whom we have an unfavourable opinion and who is innocent before the eyes of the law should get the job.

How’s that for progress?

Posted: 13th, December 2017 | In: Celebrities, Film, News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Apple’s huge stash of cash is invested in the global financial system

Much financial illiteracy in the Guardian, wherein there’s talk of Apple and its billions. Writing beneath the headline “The tech giants will never pay their fair share of taxes – unless we make them” Guardian readers are told about Apple’s tax avoidance schemes and how they must be stopped. It begins:

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, and the accountants of Silicon Valley have proved Arthur C Clarke’s third law to be as true of tax avoidance as it is of tech.

Clarke’s third law features on the writer’s essay Hazards of Prophecy: The Failure of Imagination, as seen in his book book of 1973 (originally published in 1962) Profiles of the Future: An Inquiry into the Limits of the Possible. The law states: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

But it’s nothing like magic what Apple does. Fortune has a decent take on how it works. And it can be argued that Apple has painted itself into a corner, albeit one of sublime luxury on small islands. “Apple and firms like it are hoist by their own petard,” says Professor Edward Kleinbard of the University of Southern California. “They have gigantic pools of cash that are the fruit of their tax-avoidance labour but they can’t enjoy it in the way they want because that is the deal. The way to look at the cash is not that it’s a problem but that it’s the result of the success US firms have had in generating stateless income.”

And so we get to this nonsense in the Guardian:

The most recent outrage is Apple’s $252bn offshore cash pile, as exposed by the Paradise Papers investigation. More valuable than the foreign currency reserves of the US or the UK, it represents all the money that the world’s most valuable company has siphoned out of the global financial system for the benefit of its shareholders.

Bizarre stuff indeed to view Apple’s billions as cash dumped in a treasure chest. There is sits, not being used for investment in bills, bonds, overseas goods and services, nor even earning interest in its host nation.

CNN helps us know how the money is used:

So Apple has actually been going into hock to help fund some of its stock buybacks and dividends. The company raised $10 billion in debt last quarter and now has about $47 billion in long-term debt overall.

Apple can use its cash reserves to buy unsecured debt, paid back at a much lower rate than 35%. As Bloomberg noted in May:

The iPhone-maker has $148 billion of its record $257 billion cash pile invested in corporate debt alone, according to a company filing from Wednesday.

Buy debt and wait for a tax window to repatriate the cash? If Apple moves the cash from overseas to the US, it’ll receive a gigantic tax bill.

…the Cupertino, California-based company invests in corporate bonds and other assets like money market funds and U.S. Treasuries.

With more than 90 percent of its war chest abroad, the company regularly issues bonds of its own to help fund programs like share buybacks and capital spending.

Shareholders and investors see that huge stack of cash and want some.

Apple said Thursday it’s selling what may be $7 billion of debt, and will use proceeds in part to support a 63-cent dividend and an increased stock-repurchase program.

The money is not siphoned out of the global financial system. It’s just in another part of it.

PS – if you have business idea and don’t live in a high-tax juristiction, call Apple.

 

Posted: 13th, December 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Money, News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


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