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News | Anorak - Part 7

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Steve Smith quits Australia cricket captaincy role

Smith Smith is no longer captain of the Australian cricket team. His deputy David Warner has also stepped down. Both players cheated and got found out. Smith admitted that the team’s “leadership group” had discussed a plot to tamper with the ball in the Test series against South Africa. Cameron Bancroft was caught on camera on the third day of the third Test between in Cape Town taking a yellow tape from his pocket before rubbing the ball. Aware he;d been spotted, he then stuffed the tape down his trousers.

 

Down Under Press

 

“We had a discussion during the [lunch] break and I saw an opportunity to use some tape, get some granules from the rough patches on the wickets and change the condition,” said Bancroft. “It didn’t work. The umpires didn’t change the ball. Once I was sighted on the screen I panicked quite a lot and that’s why I shoved it [a piece of sticky tape] down my trousers.”

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was upset. “I am shocked and bitterly disappointed by the news from South Africa,” said Turnbull. “It seems beyond belief the Australian cricket team have been involved in cheating. Our cricketers are role models and cricket is synonymous with fair play. How can our team be engaged in cheating like this? It beggars belief.”

Role models. Haha. No. They’re not. But they are cheats.

Posted: 25th, March 2018 | In: News, Sports | Comment


US school gives teachers and students rocks to fight off shooters

The Biblical ways are always best. Obey the 10 Commandments. If you see a burning bush talk to it. And the best way to slay a lunatic Philistine bristling with weaponry is to sling stones at them. It might just work in Pennsylvania, where one school district is arming teachers and students with buckets of rocks.

Every classroom in the Blue Mountain School District in rural  Philadelphia is equipped with a 5-gallon bucket of river stones. “We always strive to find new ways to keep our students safe,” Superintendent David Helsel tells The Associated Press. “Throwing rocks is more effective than just crawling under desks and waiting, and it gives students and teachers a chance to defend themselves.”

The rocks form the ‘C’ part of the “ALICE” action plan in case of emergency – Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate.

There has never been a mass school shooting in Pennsylvania. In much the same way there has never been a Islamist attack on a school in the UK, but children in many prepare for such a horror with a drill. In 2017, when the bells sounded at Craigie High School, Dundee, children hid under desks. The school went into lockdown. It was a false alarm. They were given no prior warning.

“In common with other schools across the city, Craigie High School periodically tests the resilience of its procedures,” said a spokesman for Dundee City Council. “Clearly it is important that any drill is as realistic as possible, but as soon as the procedures had been tested, the school community was informed that it was an exercise.”

Should we be worried that the threat of a rare attack is now part of growing up in the West? What happened to terrorists not changing our way of life?

As for life in Blue Mountain School District, if reason can’t defeat the shooter and change US gun laws, maybe an army of Davids can.

Posted: 24th, March 2018 | In: News | Comment


Zlatan Ibrahimovich hails his move from Manchester United to LA Galaxy with full-page ad in LA Times newspaper

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has paid for a full-page advert in today’s LA Times newspaper to hail his arrival in the US of A. Earlier this week, Manchester United ripped up Zlatan’s contract, allowing him to sign a two-year deal with LA Galaxy. He’s still’s full of swagger, but is the 36-year-old Ibra worth it?

 

Zlatan-la-times-advert-galaxy

 

He might well be. With 33 top trophies in his cabinet, Ibrahimovic has aged well. Since his 30th birthday, Zlatan has scored – get his – 251 goals. Didier Drogba scored 141. Teddy Sheringham scored 124. Before turning 30, he scored 232. Ibrahimovic has scored ten or more league goals in every season from 2006/07 to 2016/17.

All hail, Zlatan, then.

 

Posted: 23rd, March 2018 | In: manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


Varsity Boat Race embroiled in KKK row

You don’t need to be all that bright to row for Oxford. Take Benedict Aldous, 20, an ex-Etonian who thought it “satirical” to rock up to a party at Christ Church College, Oxford, dressed as a Klu Klux Klan member. ” I arrived at the bop dressed in a jumper and jeans with a sign reading  ‘Middle America’ and wearing a pillowcase resembling KKK regalia,” he tells Cherwell, a weekly student newspaper published by students of Oxford University.

 

KKK Boat Race

 

First up, Benedict, mate, only idiots and Hilary Clinton think everyone in Middle America is a violent bigot. In case you missed it, Clinton was on a trip to India when she rubbished millions of Americans, saving particular derision for the less well off. This is what she told a dinner-and-speech crowd in Mumbai:

“If you look at the map of the United States, there’s all that red in the middle where Trump won. …

“I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward. And his whole campaign, “Make America Great Again,” was looking backwards.

“You know, you didn’t like black people getting rights, you don’t like women, you know, getting jobs. You don’t want, you know, to see that Indian-American succeeding more than you are. Whatever your problem is … working for a woman now, you don’t like it — whatever the reason was, he stirred that up.”

Nice attitude:

 

 

Aldous then went on to say:

“It was meant as a comment on Donald Trump’s possible connection to KKK members after the US election. I did not intend to offend anyone and removed the costume within two minutes of arriving after realising the inappropriateness of it.”

So why is this news in the Times (prop R. Murdoch) and the Sun (prop. R Murdoch) – “RACE CREW Who is Benedict Aldous? Why was he called into the Oxford Boat Race crew and what was the ‘Ku Klux Klan’ incident?”? Well, the story first appeared on The Tab, the student news website in which Rupert Murdoch has invested. And the angle is that Aldous is set to row in the Boat Race, an annual rowing contest between crews from Oxford and Cambridge University Boat Clubs. Is he fit to hold the paddle? As a result of the KKK incident, Aldous was “blocked from attending all future JCR events” and “instructed to apologise in writing”. But he;s not banned from rowing for the University.

“Benedict made a mistake,” says a Boat Race spokeswoman. “He has apologised and the incident was dealt with appropriately.”

And there’s that thing: this obsession with appropriate behaviour. No laws broken; no crime committed; but if you’re thought bad of, you’ve had it. It’s a pretty fair bet to say most MPs would rather be caught breeching parliamentary rules than behaving ‘inappropriately’.  It’s the moralising catch-all with a diffuse and expansive definition that can snare anyone deemed to have caused offence.

If young Aldous wants to spend his life rowing backwards against the current. Let him.

Posted: 23rd, March 2018 | In: News | Comment


Craigslist closes personal ads as internet restrictions bite

You can no longer browse the personals section of Craigslist in the US. The owners of the online classified ads site have closed personal listings in reaction to Congress’s passage of a law that makes websites accountable for users who “misuse” personal ads. A click on the “casual encounters”, “strictly platonic” or any other romance-seeking connection tabs coughs up this message from San Francisco-based Craigslist:

US Congress just passed HR 1865, “FOSTA”, seeking to subject websites to criminal and civil liability when third parties (users) misuse online personals unlawfully. Any tool or service can be misused. We can’t take such risk without jeopardizing all our other services, so we are regretfully taking craigslist personals offline. Hopefully we can bring them back some day.

To the millions of spouses, partners, and couples who met through craigslist, we wish you every happiness!

Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) aims to curb online sex trafficking.

Electronic Frontier Foundation opposes the bill, stating last month:

“Facing the threat of extreme criminal and civil penalties, web platforms large and small would have little choice but to silence legitimate voices. Platforms would have to take extreme measures to remove a wide range of postings, especially those related to sex.”

The fear is that only the the most moneyed platforms will survive. Forced to err on the side of caution and view users as suspects, platform owners will shut down accounts.

You can still use the personal ads on the UK site. But the impact of the new riling is spreading. Reddit has switched off a raft of its community pages. On Reddit’s r/announcements we learn:

As of today, users may not use Reddit to solicit or facilitate any transaction or gift involving certain goods and services, including:

  • Firearms, ammunition, or explosives;
  • Drugs, including alcohol and tobacco, or any controlled substances (except advertisements placed in accordance with our advertising policy);
  • Paid services involving physical sexual contact;
  • Stolen goods;
  • Personal information;
  • Falsified official documents or currency

Gizmodo notes:

In the comments of the announcement, it was further clarified that relatively benign activities like beer trades and e-cigarette giveaways are also likely to fall under the purview of this rule, which encompasses not just purchases but transactions of any sort.

So much for freedom.

 

Posted: 23rd, March 2018 | In: News, Technology, The Consumer | Comment


Liverpool: James Milner tweets his ironing

James Milner, the Liverpool player, has tweeted a photo of himself doing a very James Miler thing: he’s ironing a T-shirt. It really is James Milner and not the famous joke Twitter account “Boring James Milner” that updates its hundreds of thousands of followers with news of him sorting his cupboards, lining up his socks and, yep, ironing.

 

 

Looks like Milner, the super-focused footballer has a sense of humour.

He’s also a lesson in now drive and ultra-professionalism can take a player to the top of the game. Here are few words from people who’ve worked with ‘boring” James Milner:

Roy Hodgson: ”We know what James will do. James isn’t and doesn’t pretend to be as exciting as some of the wingers we sometimes use these days.”

Steven Weeks, who taught Milner at school: ”James is still exactly the same really nice, calm, quiet, totally unassuming, popular lad he was at school but I always thought that, inside, he had the sort of controlled aggression that takes people to the very top.”

Glenn Roeder: “James can seem a goody two shoes but he deserves every bit of success going. Unlike the vast majority of professional footballers he works to his maximum and extracts every last ounce of ability.”

 

Posted: 23rd, March 2018 | In: Liverpool, News, Sports | Comment


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

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

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

Dang! It just keeps happening.

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

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

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

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

Why did he leave? We’re not told.

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

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

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

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

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

He was more passive than active?

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

So how did he become a member?

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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


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

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

And today the madness reached new heights.

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

It is.

 

What madness.

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

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

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

See: plastic trumpet.

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

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

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

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


Man disguised as a bull attempted to burn down ex-lover’s home with pasta sauce

To Florida, where the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office claims Derrick Irving and John Silva, who was dressed as a bull, broke into their ex-boyfriend’s house and tried to burn the place down with spaghetti sauce. It’s alleged that Irving and Silva nicked several items and left pasta sauce boiling on the stove with a cloth close enough to catch light and start a fire. The alleged plot failed because the victim’s security system alerted him.

 

pasta sauce crime

 

Police arrived at the peoperty in time to find Irving and Silva driving away. Silva was behind the wheel. Irving was in the passenger seat dressed as a bull. Police also noted in the car: a marijuana grinder, a vacuum, a window air conditioning unit, a flat-screen television, a heater in the back seat, and an empty jar of Ragu sauce.

Says the alleged victim: “He was trying to make it look like I left the stove on but who gets up 2am and fixes skett. It started out as a relationship, that lasted about a week. I’ve let him use my car for four months, maybe he’s angry about that. Or maybe he’s angry because I gave him $150 to fix his teeth.”

Both men have been charged with unarmed burglary, grand theft and arson.

Posted: 22nd, March 2018 | In: News, Strange But True | Comment


One in ten are cocaine fiends

That’s not quite the result from the latest research into fun and tooting habits, that 1 in 10 of us are cocaine fiends. What is actually shown is that enough of us are into Bolivian marching powder that the entire environment is infested with traces of the stuff. Enough that fingerprint testing shows that 1 in 10 of us could be, if we’re not careful, adjudged to be users ourselves. That’s about 10 times what we think is the real level of usage in the country:

Cocaine is now so prevalent in society that one in 10 people who have never used the drug have traces on their hands, a new study has shown.

Researchers at the University Surrey tested the fingerprints of 50 drug free volunteers and 15 drug users who had taken cocaine or heroin in the past 24 hours.

Around 13 per cent of fingerprints of those who had never used the drugs were found to contain cocaine, while one per cent contained a metabolite of heroin.

There’re some technical bits here- it’s not just traces of the drugs, but also of what the human body turns drugs into when they’re used. As with just about everything else anyone ingests some parts of those “metabolites” end up in the sweat. That’s what’s being tested with these fingerprints and also how it all gets out into the environment.

The reason it’s all so prevalent is cash. OK, sure, we’ve that mental image of someone using a bank note (a £50 to show off) to snort coke but that’s not really it. There’re some 700,000 people who are thought to use cocaine and they’re not infesting enough bank notes for us all to be infected. And that certainly doesn’t explain the heroin – no one using heroin ever has any money, the drug’s quite famous for that.

What’s actually happening is that some small portion of notes are getting contaminated. In the normal course of things they get spent and sent off to the banks. Where they use money counting machines then stick the notes back in ATMs. And it’s the rollers on the counting machines and the ATMs which end up with traces of cocaine on them, spreading those traces over every note that passes through. This isn’t, therefore, really a story about how we’re all drug fiends. Rather, it’s one about how much better science has got. We can now check for such minute traces of things that we find them everywhere.

Presumably the whole story will go away at some point when we’re all using contactless payment cards. For at that point only the people actually using drugs will have them on their fingertips.

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


Facebook boss Mark Zuckerbeg: ‘We made mistakes’

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has spoken on the Cambridge Analytica (CA) horror – CA company improperly harvested data on 50 million Facebook users without their consent. Zuckerberg has vowed to “protect your data”. To which the obvious response is: from you or from them? It was slack data policies that damaged Facebook, wiping tens of billions from its stock market valuation. The big worry is that Facebook’s lax protocols and CA’s conniving lead to a more regulated internet.

 

facebook dislike antisemitism

 

 

It also invites us to wonder if the data was worth the hassle? The idea is that CA gathered enough information to target individuals with messages geared to their prejudices. At voting time, this can give candidates an edge, so they claim, either by bigging up a candidate or disparaging rivals.

Does it work? Did Facebook win the US election for Donald Trump as it is helped Barack Obama in 2012? At what point does using data move from being cutting-edge and down with the kids to something sinister? Whatever the outcome, the narrative is the same: voters are perceived as fools, slack-jawed consumers devoid of circumspection and reason.

Zuckerberg made his thoughts known in a Facebook post, naturally.

 This is Mark Zuckerberg’s statement in full:

I want to share an update on the Cambridge Analytica situation — including the steps we’ve already taken and our next steps to address this important issue.

We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you. I’ve been working to understand exactly what happened and how to make sure this doesn’t happen again. The good news is that the most important actions to prevent this from happening again today we have already taken years ago. But we also made mistakes, there’s more to do, and we need to step up and do it.

Here’s a timeline of the events:

In 2007, we launched the Facebook Platform with the vision that more apps should be social. Your calendar should be able to show your friends’ birthdays, your maps should show where your friends live, and your address book should show their pictures. To do this, we enabled people to log into apps and share who their friends were and some information about them.

In 2013, a Cambridge University researcher named Aleksandr Kogan created a personality quiz app. It was installed by around 300,000 people who shared their data as well as some of their friends’ data. Given the way our platform worked at the time this meant Kogan was able to access tens of millions of their friends’ data.

In 2014, to prevent abusive apps, we announced that we were changing the entire platform to dramatically limit the data apps could access. Most importantly, apps like Kogan’s could no longer ask for data about a person’s friends unless their friends had also authorized the app. We also required developers to get approval from us before they could request any sensitive data from people. These actions would prevent any app like Kogan’s from being able to access so much data today.

In 2015, we learned from journalists at The Guardian that Kogan had shared data from his app with Cambridge Analytica. It is against our policies for developers to share data without people’s consent, so we immediately banned Kogan’s app from our platform, and demanded that Kogan and Cambridge Analytica formally certify that they had deleted all improperly acquired data. They provided these certifications.

Last week, we learned from The Guardian, The New York Times and Channel 4 that Cambridge Analytica may not have deleted the data as they had certified. We immediately banned them from using any of our services. Cambridge Analytica claims they have already deleted the data and has agreed to a forensic audit by a firm we hired to confirm this. We’re also working with regulators as they investigate what happened.

This was a breach of trust between Kogan, Cambridge Analytica and Facebook. But it was also a breach of trust between Facebook and the people who share their data with us and expect us to protect it. We need to fix that.

In this case, we already took the most important steps a few years ago in 2014 to prevent bad actors from accessing people’s information in this way. But there’s more we need to do and I’ll outline those steps here:

First, we will investigate all apps that had access to large amounts of information before we changed our platform to dramatically reduce data access in 2014, and we will conduct a full audit of any app with suspicious activity. We will ban any developer from our platform that does not agree to a thorough audit. And if we find developers that misused personally identifiable information, we will ban them and tell everyone affected by those apps. That includes people whose data Kogan misused here as well.

Second, we will restrict developers’ data access even further to prevent other kinds of abuse. For example, we will remove developers’ access to your data if you haven’t used their app in 3 months. We will reduce the data you give an app when you sign in — to only your name, profile photo, and email address. We’ll require developers to not only get approval but also sign a contract in order to ask anyone for access to their posts or other private data. And we’ll have more changes to share in the next few days.

Third, we want to make sure you understand which apps you’ve allowed to access your data. In the next month, we will show everyone a tool at the top of your News Feed with the apps you’ve used and an easy way to revoke those apps’ permissions to your data. We already have a tool to do this in your privacy settings, and now we will put this tool at the top of your News Feed to make sure everyone sees it.

Beyond the steps we had already taken in 2014, I believe these are the next steps we must take to continue to secure our platform.

I started Facebook, and at the end of the day I’m responsible for what happens on our platform. I’m serious about doing what it takes to protect our community. While this specific issue involving Cambridge Analytica should no longer happen with new apps today, that doesn’t change what happened in the past. We will learn from this experience to secure our platform further and make our community safer for everyone going forward.

I want to thank all of you who continue to believe in our mission and work to build this community together. I know it takes longer to fix all these issues than we’d like, but I promise you we’ll work through this and build a better service over the long term.

One thing, Mark: can I have my friends back, you know the ones you want me to pay for to see my posts?

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


Arsenal told Jack Wilshere he could leave last summer

Jack Wilshere has still not committed his future to Arsenal, the club he joined at age nine. Wilshere, 26, will be out of contract at the end of the current season, in which he has made 31 appearances to date – the most in a season since 2013-14. The Gunners have offered him a new deal on reduced terms – he’ll have to accept a pay cut on his £120,000-a-week salary. He wants a better deal. And he wants to stay.

“I have got three months left on my contract,” he says. “Ideally, yes, I want it sorted as soon as possible. I want to go to the World Cup and enjoy it but we have three months until then and a lot can happen. Ideally from my point of view and the club’s point of view, they will probably want it sorted.”

 

jack wilshere

 

He might have left the club last summer.

“He [Arsene Wenger] gave me the opportunity [to leave] with three or four weeks left in the transfer window,” says Wilshere from the England team base. It will be Wilshere’s first outing for England since that 1-0 defeat to Iceland in Euro 2016.

“I did not find anything that I wanted and at the same time I was not really fit, so I decided that I wanted to stay and build up my fitness. It was an honest conversation. We have known each other long enough where we can have that relationship where we are honest with each other. It was boiling up for a while because everybody knew I had a year left on my deal and I had been out on loan, got injured, and wasn’t really in his plans. He said, ‘I am going to be honest with you and at the moment we are not going to be offering you a contract, so if you can get a contract somewhere else, you can go’. Obviously I was not happy with that, but at the same time I was happy he was being honest.”

Determined and cock-sure, Wilshere is the kind of player Arsenal need more of.

 

Posted: 22nd, March 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment


Alleged drink-driver Ant McPartlin has been banned before

It turns out that TV presenter Ant McPartlin might not be “squeaky clean” after all.  To go with the story of alleged drug taking, Ant’s been charged with drink driving. McPartlin was, as you know, arrested following a car crash on Sunday. The 42-year-old will be at Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court on 4 April.

And it’s serious. If found guilty, possible sentences include six months in prison, an unlimited fine and a minimum driving ban of a year.

And he’s been banned before. In 2002, McPartlin earned a 30-day driving ban for shifting at 127mph by an unmarked police car near Bowburn, County Durham. “It was silly and I have learnt my lesson,” said McPartlin after the hearing.

Or not..

Note: According to Government figures, drink-driving is all too common.

The second provisional estimates for 2015 show:

between 180 and 250 people were killed in Great Britain
at least 1 driver was over the drink drive limit
there has been a rise in overall drink drive casualties of all severities from 2014, a 3% increase to 8,480
there was an estimated 180 fatal drink drive accidents
the total number of drink drive accidents of all severities rose by 2% to 5,740

If he is guilty of drink-driving, Ant McPartlin should count himself lucky.

Posted: 21st, March 2018 | In: Celebrities, News | Comment


The greatest dive in football: Jean Meneses hits invisible force field

To Chile, where Universidad de Concepcion forward Jean Meneses is taking an interesting tumble in the box, having encountered an invisible force field. He does not go to ground easily. He opts for complexity.

Let’s set the scene. The game between Universidad de Concepcion and Colo Colo is 1-1. Five minutes normal time. Meneses, 25, is inside the Colo Colo box. He has the ball. And then he does not. Here it is:

 

 

Penalty! Seriously. The referee awarded a penalty kick. Fernando Manriquez scored it. Universidad de Concepcion win the match 2-1.

Says Jean Meneses: “One has to take advantage of the fact that the forwards can not touch attackers inside the area. So I played a little bit with the vividness and I let myself fall.”

File unser: when gravity attacks!

Posted: 21st, March 2018 | In: News, Sports | Comment


It’s quiet at Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea because football fans are being controlled

Manchester United’s Old Trafford is a quiet ground. It’s not alone. The quiet at the Emirates is more obvious than a dead nun on a snow-covered hillside. Stamford Bridge is quiet enough for rare newts to breed and raise their young in The Shed end.  But help is afoot. United are looking at ways to bring back the noise. Things under consideration: fans with megaphones; song sheets; the return to standing and a reduction in ticket prices, meaning fans can turn up on a whim and not have to book seats well in advance, pay though the noes and sit among strangers. Only one part of that list was made up. The last part.

 

 

There will be no standing.

Football as we know it changed on 15 April 1989, when 96 blameless Liverpool fans who “neither caused nor contributed to the deaths” lost their lives at Hillsborough in a “failure of police control” and “multiple failures in other organisations”. The police lied and lied and lied. The victims still await justice. But rather than address why fans were caged and police sent for attack dogs when people were losing their lives, Hillsborough was used an excuse to control football supporters – what the Sunday Times called “slum people, who deter decent folk from turning up“.

The mood against football fans was hostile. And then came the 1990 Taylor Report. The fences were torn down. In their the place came all-seater stadia. The ID card scheme never took off – the Tory government wanted football fans to carry compulsory identity cards at matches. But now all fans did get a number, a booking reference and their bank details taken. New forms of control took hold. Spontaneity was out. Chants and language were policed.

So why is there a palpable lack of atmosphere at the football? Because the fans are shackled, treated as problem to manage and control.

Hillsborough: 96 Liverpool Fans Killed By ‘A Slum Sport Watched By Slum People In Slum Stadiums’

 

Posted: 21st, March 2018 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


Judge saves British Jews from Nazi pug

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

 

nazi pug

 

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

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

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

So what if it is?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Liverpool will sell Salah for a fortune and Chelsea are the biggest losers

Spare a thought for Chelsea fans forced to look on as club rejects Kevin Bruyne and Mohamed Salah light up the Premier League for Manchester City and Liverpool, respectively. Both players sold under Jose Mourinho’s regime are shining. Given Mourinho’s narcissism, he’s most likely try to pass his errors off as part of a cunning ploy to leave his former employer’s pained. But if he had foresight, Mourinho would have sold them to Manchester United, pushing Old Trafford towards investment in the coming force rather than selfish Alexis Sanchez – made to look better than he was by playing for a palsied Arsenal team – and the vastly overrated Paul Pogba.

News across the media is that Real Madrid rather like Salah. Those Spanish talent spotters have noted that the Egyptian scores lots of goals and looks a joy to be around. So excited are they by their discovery in the Premier League backwaters that Real will invest up to £200m in Salah. But news from Anfield is that Liverpool will spurn any moves for their star turn. They won’t, of course. Every player has a price. And £200m for Salah is an absurd sum  for a £34million summer signing from Roma.

The problem for Liverpool is that Salah is the star of a team which will probably win nothing.

 

 

 

Posted: 21st, March 2018 | In: Chelsea, Manchester City, manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


Ben Carson blames his wife for $31,000 expenses error

Time to hear from “The Honorable Ben Carson”, summoned to tell a House Appropriations subcommittee why his official office came to feature a $31,000 mahogany dining set. The rules impose a $5,000 limit on cabinet secretaries for redecorating their offices. But in late 2017, Carson took delivery of some things whose cost exceeded that pretty measly allowance.

“If it were up to me my office would probably look like a hospital waiting room,” said Carson, “but at any rate, I invited my wife to come along and help me… The prices were beyond what I wanted to pay, I made it clear that that just didn’t seem right to me, and I left it with my wife.” He “dismissed” himself from the decision.

It wasn’t the former neurosurgeon who bought the reassuringly expensive furniture. It as Candy Carson.

 

 

It looks bad. But aren’t the only people who care about Carson’s table and chairs politicians and journalists? Voters have bigger concerns than Carson’s office accounts.

If Carson’s worried that his political career will be scuppered by some empty chairs, he should take a glance at the ups and downs of Maria Miller MP. In 2014, Miller resigned as culture secretary following an expose over her parliamentary expenses. The media gunned for her. Maria Miller apologised “unreservedly” to Parliament. Miller remains an MP and is Chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee.

One irony about Ben Carson and his decorating skills: he’s the secretary of housing and urban development.

Posted: 21st, March 2018 | In: News, Politicians | Comment


Ant McPartlin drops into the therapy trap

At what point did a private man in a private vehicle involved in a collision in south-west London become a “scandal”? Ant McPartlin was driving when his vehicle collided with two other cars. He’s ok. His mother was in the passenger seat. No, not Meghan Markle in a state of undress. His mum Christine. She’s alright, too. A family of three and two work colleagues travelling in one of the other vehicles involved in the prang are also ok. None were hospitalised, although Shilpa Dandekar did suffer a cut lip, and her husband, Faheem says the whole thing has been a “nightmare”.

 

ant mcpartlin scandal

 

Ant was carted off to the police station to help police with their enquiries. There are allegations that he failed a roadside breath test, and he has been arrested on suspicion of drink-driving.

 

ant mcpartlin scandal

 

But in what way is any of that a “scandal”, as the Daily Star calls it on its front page? Is there public outrage at Ant’s accident? Surely not. If there is, well, get a grip. Ant’s back in rehab, where, according to the Sun, he will spend “months”. Maybe if it’s scandal were looking for we should gawk less at Ant McPartlin and more at the therapy industry, which operates behind a soft-hinged revolving door. Does anyone ever graduate from pricey therapy suites, or is it all designed to keep you coming back for more, replacing the patient’s initial obsession with one that keeps medics in jobs and business booming for whoever makes monogrammed towelling gowns and slippers?

 

Posted: 20th, March 2018 | In: Celebrities, News, Tabloids | Comment


Spurs Harry Kane is worth more than Barcelona’s Messi

The CIES Football Observatory has crunched the data and concluded that Spurs striker Harry Kane is worth more in the transfer market than Barcelona’s Lionel Messi. Total balls.

No disrespect to Kane, but how many football fans will boast “I saw Harry Kane”? To see Messi in the flesh is to witness something extraordinary, a player who lifts the spirits. A friend from Napoli interjected a pub debate on which top player we’d all enjoyed watching live. Names poured out: Thierry Henry, Eric Cantona, Johan Cruyff, Franco Baresi, Ziendine Zidane and Franz Beckenbauer. He raised his hands and if spelling out a neon sign above the door to the star attraction, move them from left to right as he declared: “I saw Maradona.”

Messi is better. He is also, as one sports writer notes, the cure: “Some weeks especially we need to plunge head-first into the joys of sport after fretting about the contents of a Jiffy bag or whether England fans will be targeted by thugs in Russia or if a pundit should be sacked for gobbing at a fan…Messi is the best antidote to any creep of dissatisfaction.”

But away from the thrill of live action, in an office block in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, the boffins at CIES have calculated not only Messi’s monetary value but how he ranks against other players in England, Spain, Italy, Germany and France. The challenge is to decide which player represents the best investment for their current club. Kane, who cost Spurs nothing to recruit, is worth £173m (€198.2m); Messi, who joined Barcelona as as child, is worth £172m (€196.8m).

CIES explains its method:

The estimated values are calculated using an exclusive algorithm conceived by the CIES Football Observatory research team. An increasing number of professional clubs and football intermediaries have recourse to the approach developed for transfer negotiations and litigation. The estimations for all big-5 league players are available here.

Here’s the list of talent;

 

best players europe money

best players europe money

best players europe money

 

So Kane is worth more than Messi – but only if you reduce football to a sport best watched via screens, accessed through a betting app and broken down to the raw data, reducing every aspect of humanity into quantifiable, anodyne chunks. One day they’ll bring all the greats back to their pomp with a new software package, and show us if Bobby Charlton and Pele were better than Ronaldo and Messi. The fans, meanwhile, should save up for something far more vital: a ticket to see Messi play live.

 

 

Posted: 20th, March 2018 | In: News, Sports, Spurs | Comment


British tourist jailed for Facebook ‘sex’ party

Daniel Jones has been on remand in a Cambodia prison for one month and 22 days. Today he received his sentence for using “pornographic” images to advertise a pool party: he will serve a one-year suspended prison sentence. That’s the maximum sentence.

 

cambodia facebook party

A Cambodian police handout picture features people appearing to imitate lustful acts at a party. The accused claim the photo is years old and does not feature them.

 

Jones, 31, was one of 10 non-Cambodian nationals nicked during a police raid on a pool party and drinks do in Siem Reap on 25 January. The event was trailed on Facebook as “Let’s Get Wet”. Jones says the promotion featured no nudity – and given Facebook’s often arcane ‘Community Guidelines’, that’s easy to believe. Facebook can block users for all manner of ills, not least of all posting a drawing of a human hand. But Cambodian prosecutors said the photos were illegal and damaging to Cambodian culture.

Judge Um Chan Thol ruled that Jones had “unintentionally produced pornography that affects Khmer culture”. The other nine accused of offending Cambodian morals also denied any wrongdoing. They were deported after charges against them were dropped.

Cambodia is now made pure. Incidentally, this is what Human Rights Watch says of the place:

Prime Minister Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge commander, has been in power since 1985. His rule has relied on security force violence and politically motivated persecution of opposition members, activists, and human rights workers. Security forces commit killings and torture with impunity. Authorities regularly restrict the right to peaceful assembly by suppressing protests and banning nonviolent gatherings and processions. The politically powerful have carried out forced evictions and illegal land grabs for decades. Government officials and judges are mired in corruption. Garment industry workers, primarily women, are subject to sexual discrimination and other rights abuses.

But that’s alright. It’s that Facebook photo that really causes problems.

Message to holidaymakers: if you really want to get wet on holiday, try Blackpool in April.

Posted: 20th, March 2018 | In: News | Comment


Robot wars: driverless Uber kills pedestrian

Uber car arizona

 

To Arizona, where a pedestrian has become the world’s first person killed by an autonomous vehicle. A human was behind the wheel of the Uber cab but the vehicle was self-driving when it hit the walker, reports KNXV. Early news is that the victim was walking outside of the crosswalk. There were no passengers in the Uber. The make a of car? A super-safe Volvo.

 

 

Can it be right that experimental technology is operating heavy vehicles that can travel at speed on public roads? And like all accidents, doesn’t this one contains a deep vein of human error?

Would you be happy to ride in an automated car?

Be quick. Here come the robots.

Posted: 20th, March 2018 | In: News, Technology | Comment


Activists says PE and team sports are racist colonialism

The latest from the grievance studies industry is that team sports – those English things like football, rugby, cricket – are racist. Further, that we only let the rest of the world play them so they could beat us as an act of colonialism. The problem with this being not the basic facts at issue. For the English, perhaps the British, did indeed invent many of the sports which are now played globally. And there was most certainly an element of exporting the games as a part of civilising the savage natives of other lands. You know, like teaching the French rugby will make them gentlemen. Teaching the Welsh the game will make them something even if not gentlemen.

The problem with the idea though is that it’s entirely missed the proper, Marxist, interpretation of what happened:

Analyses of curricula in a range of countries show how they tend to reinforce, rather than challenge, popular theories of racism. To date, we know little about the contribution of physical education (PE) curriculum policy to the overall policy landscape. This paper examines the construction of race and racism in two national contexts (Norway and England) as a means of putting race and anti-racism on the PE policy research agenda. It adopts a critical whiteness perspective to analyse how whiteness, as a system of privilege, contributes to the racialisation of valued knowledge in PE and asks, who potentially benefits and/or is marginalised within the learning spaces available in the texts? The discourse analysis reveals that two discursive techniques of whiteness combine to privilege white, Eurocentric knowledge content.

Yeah, yeah, we know how that ends, Whitey’s a Bad Boy and a colonialist to boot. Tsk.

But that is to use today’s unthinking Marxism – the identifying feature of which is not to think and not to use actual Marx – to explain matters, rather than actual Marx and or thinking.

Marx himself said two things which explains matters here. The first is that the mode of production determines social relations. How what is produced tells us a great deal about how the society is going to be organised. The second is that capitalism, as harnessed by the bourgeoisie, was the most productive economic system as yet used.

It’s not a big step and it’s most certainly a usefully Marxist one to go on to say that the much greater productivity of the capitalist economy was going to change the society. Which, of course, it did. One of the most obvious ways it did was to make the workers rich enough that they didn’t have to work every moment of every day in order to just stay alive. That Industrial Revolution is what brought us the concept of leisure. An example of which is why football matches start at 3 pm on a Saturday. Because it was still into hte working lives of those living today that Saturdays were a half day up in those Satanic Mills.

All of which tells us why it was those White Victorians who invented most of the games. They were the first people to live in a society which had the time – and thus the inclination – to actually have regular games. Either to play or to spectate. And that’s really it.

As to the exportation, we did export that Industrial Revolution which created that leisure. And the wealth which the industrialisation creates. It’s really not a surprise that as places got rich enough to have the time for sports then they adopted those sports that were already played in the richer places.

So, yes, many sports are British in origin. But not because of racism or even colonialism. Purely and simply because Britain was the first place to be rich enough to have large scale organised sports. As other places got richer they copied the sports as well as the methods of getting rich. No racism nor colonialism involved.

Posted: 20th, March 2018 | In: News, Sports | Comment


London House Prices Are Falling, Hurrah!

Or is is hurrah at all? For if London house prices are falling doesn’t that mean lots of people are going to get screwed by their mortgages? And thus we get to one of the great economic problems, there is no way to please everyone.

House prices in parts of London that were once at the epicentre of the UK property boom have fallen as much as 15% over the past year in fresh evidence of the impact of the EU referendum.

Figures from Your Move, one of the UK’s biggest estate agency chains, reveal that the average home in Wandsworth – which includes much of Clapham, Balham and Putney – fell by more than £100,000 in value over the last 12 months.

So, start from what we all would say is the largest housing problem we’ve got in Britain – no one can afford the damn houses. At least no one normal, on a normal income, can afford to buy a house. Therefore we’d really rather like the price of houses to fall.

So, we vote for Brexit, all those foreigners get cold feet about living here and house prices fall, Huzzah!

But we all know what happens next, don’t we? There will now be endless complaints about negative equity, about how people are being bankrupted because their houses are going down in value. Thus we’ll get all the more usual cries that government must do something to keep house prices up.

We could just say this proves you can’t please all the people all the time but that would be trite. We actually want to know what it is that government should be doing about all of this. The answer being nothing. They cannot win, there’s no right thing for them to be doing. Better by far if they simply retreat from the whole sector. Just leaving houses and their prices to the markets and when asked the government can just shrug and insist “Nowt to do with us, is it?”

No, really, what else can they do?

Posted: 19th, March 2018 | In: Money, News | Comment


Manchester United are not getting rid of 10 players this summer

Fancy making a guess at how many players are heading out of Manchester United this summer? The BBC says it’s ’10’. the source for the Beeb’s news of this mass exodus of talent is the ever-trusty Daily Express. The Express, of course, is riding high on the back of its scoop that this winter would feature cold weather and snow. Sure enough, the UK was gipped by the ‘Beast from the East’. Yes, the paper forecasts bad weather on its front page around twice a week but this time it was right. It might well be right again – Madeleine McCann will be found; dementia will be cured with rhubarb; the summer will bring a heatwave; and ten footballers will leave Old Trafford at the end of the season.

 

daily express clickbait manchester united

 

The Express lists the players heading to the exit: Luke Shaw, Juan Mata, Ander Herrera, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Daley Blind, Matteo Darmian, Marouane Fellaini, Michael Carrick and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. It then tells us that the ten will be replaced with just five: Gareth Bale, Toby Alderweireld, Danny Rose, Willian and Fred. Will that happen? Reason says no. But we did have that snow…

 

daily express clickbait manchester united

 

Of course, in the clickbait world of online journalism, pretty much any claim, however outlandish, can be countered by another outlandish claim, So here’s the Metro to tell us that Fred has already agreed to join Manchester City:

 

fred manchester city

 

And if you don’t believe the Metro, well, you know who else told us Fred is on his way to City? Yep. The Express:

 

Daily Express, Feb 9 1018

 

The Express offers no source for its story of ten players leaving United. But over in the Sun, we read: “Manchester United reportedly set for summer clear out with Luke Shaw, Ander Herrera, Chris Smalling and Anthony Martial among NINE facing axe’”. The Sun does cite a source: the Daily Mail. And it reports:

Luke Shaw may as well start planning a joint leaving-do with Matteo Darmian and Daley Blind this summer…

Ander Herrera, Anthony Martial, Juan Mata and Chris Smalling are among those who cannot guarantee they will be at Old Trafford beyond this summer, when United will also have to replace Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick.

And from that the Express got its scoop of ten players leaving Manchester United.

Now… anyone know if it’s going to be sunny this July?

Posted: 19th, March 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment