News | Anorak - Part 8

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BBC staff should be paid less than ambassadors says new Culture Secretary

Does the BBC pay staff too much? No, not the cleaners and caterers. This is about the presenters and mangers – people doing skilled jobs. New Culture Secretary Matt Hancock thinks they earn too much. His benchmarks for what a top BBC editor earns is Her Majesty’s ambassador to Costa Rica.

“This isn’t just a matter of levelling women’s pay,” says Hancock, picking up the story that the BBC employs less women on big salaries than men,  it is a matter of equality. Working for the BBC is public service, and a great privilege, yet some men at the BBC are paid far more than other equivalent public servants.”

So what? It’s a different job. Why not compare what the ambassadors earn to, say, the bloke who empties your bins.

“The BBC has begun to act and I welcome that, but more action – much more action – is needed, especially when BBC foreign editors can earn more than Her Majesty’s ambassadors in the same jurisdiction.”

Jon Sopel, the BBC’s North America editor, earns £200,000-£249,999 per year. Sir Kim Darroch, Britain ambassador to the US, earns £180,000-£184,999.

Add in the perks of free board and lodgings, boarding school for children

The Foreign Office spends more than £14m per year on private school fees for children of its staff, including £6m for staff based in the UK…It meant that last year staff stationed in the UK received school fees worth on average more than £33,000 per year.

Factor in the perks and the BBC editor earns less.

But Hancock’s point is, presumably, that the BBC is either a public service or it isn’t. It can’t be commercial and public, not if it’s funded by a tax, which it is.

It also reminds me of the moan many GPs guff out when they see the bigger money consultants earn. Never mind the fact they are very well paid for doing their jobs; look instead of what they would be earning as a specialist had they only not made the sacrifice.

Posted: 10th, January 2018 | In: Money, News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Donald Trump was the first person to think Oprah Winfrey should be in the White House

trump oprah daily news

In 2009, Donald Trump said his ideal running mate would be Oprah Winfrey. The actress used her acceptance speech for  receiving a lifetime achievement gong at the Golden Globe Awards to tell a room full of her peers (including the cheaters, narcissists and SADOS – Sons and Daughters of Stars ) that the time for social change for nigh. Oprah for President, came the media response. and the job is surely hers should she give away a free car with every vote.

But the idea was not of the media’s making. In 2009, Donal Trump told us that Oprah would be his dream deputy:



“Oprah would always be my first choice… I’ll tell ya, she’s really a great woman, though. She is a terrific woman. She’s somebody that’s very special… If she’d do it, she’d be fantastic… She’s popular. She’s brilliant. She’s a wonderful woman. If she’d ever do it, I don’t know if she’d ever do it… She’d be sort of like me. I mean, I have a lot of things going, she’s gotta a lot of things going.”

And Oprah seems to love The Don:



Spotter: EW

Posted: 9th, January 2018 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Clickbait balls: Arsenal and Man City fans tricked by Daily Express Sanchez fakery

The Daily Express online is clickbait mire. Arsenal and Manchester City fans checking up on news of Alexis Sanchez’s move from London to the champions elect are seduced by the headline: “Transfer news LIVE updates: Sanchez deal agreed; Man Utd, Liverpool, Barcelona, Chelsea.”

The Express appears to have a scoop when you search for Sanchez news on Google News. No other news source has the story that a Sanchez deal has been “agreed”. Indeed, Sky Sports says City haven’t even bid for the Chilean.


Here’s the that Express headline again on the paper’s website:


Stuart Ballard has the scoop! But to save you clicking, we’ll not pick out the words relevant to Sanchez’s transfer to City.

Here’s the first mention of Sanchez is Ballard’s story:

Sanchez ‘no bids’
10.00: Arsene Wenger has claimed Arsenal have received no offers for Alexis Sanchez and he fully expects him to stay until the end of the season .

When asked if the Gunners had received any offers, he replied: “No and I expect nothing.

“I am focused on tomorrow’s game. When solicitations happen you respond to it. At the moment it’s very quiet. I have nothing to add.”

Come on, Wenger, keep up with things. Read the Express. The deal has been “agreed”. But what’s this? Reading on we find no word on the agreed deal.


05:30: Manchester City could complete a deal to sign Alexis Sanchez this week after opening talks over a £30million deal.


Could? What happened to “agreed”?

Express Sport understands the Chile international has been told City will be making a bid for him in the coming days.

What about what readers understand by the phrase “Transfer News: Sanchez Dal Agreed”?

But Ballard has nm’t finished. Let’s not be hasty. What else?

05:00: Arsene Wenger has reignited Arsenal’s interest in Thomas Lemar in the fear they could miss out on him with Alexis Sanchez seemingly on his way out of the club, according to reports…

And with Sanchez constantly linked with a move to Manchester City, Arsenal are prepared to enter the race once again to sign Lemar.


Total balls, then. It might even be fake news.


Posted: 9th, January 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Manchester City, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comments (3) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Epic fail: resting Guardian editor mistaken gets Samuel L Jackson comeback

When Peter Preston, a former editor of the Guardian, died earlier this week, his old paper paid tribute to the man who led between 1975 and 1995.

Janice Turner, Preston’s daughter-in-law, and a Times columnist, read the Guardian’s obituary to the great man. She was moved to tweet:

Strange error in The Guardian’s obit of Peter Preston which would have amused him. He did not write the action movie 51st State starring Samuel L Jackson but a novel of the same name which predicted Britain would leave the EU.

peter preston fail 51st state


Not so strange. The BBC made just that error, noting:

His wrote the book 51st State, which was later adapted into a film starring Samuel L Jackson.


peter preston 51st state


The Herald Scotland told its readers

He also penned novels including Bess and 51st State, the latter of which was made into a film starring Samuel L Jackson.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 8th, January 2018 | In: Broadsheets, News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Data shocker: Westminster workers less likely to watch porn than the rest of us

In 2010, Online MBA produced a porn infographic. It claimed to know that 70% of men visited porn sites in a given month. Dan Savage, a Seattle-based sex columnist, had a word on the demographics of porn watchers. “All men look at porn, ” he stated. “The handful of men who claim they don’t look at porn are liars or castrates.”

Only men like to look?

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz claims women are fans of online porn, too:

Speaking to Vox in an interview about how Google data proves that most Americans lie about their sexual preferences, the researcher and author of “Everybody Lies” asserts… “Porn featuring violence against women is also extremely popular among women…It is far more popular among women than men. I hate saying that because misogynists seem to love this fact,” he added. “Fantasy life isn’t always politically correct.”

In 2014, the US Public Religion Research Institute, said 29 percent of Americans think watching porn is morally acceptable. That’s a lot of people feeling guilty about watching other people having sex.

Which brings us to news that the burghers of Westminster are not like the rest of us:

Staff working in Parliament tried to access online pornography once every nine minutes in the last couple of months, despite a crackdown on inappropriate sexual behaviour, new figures show.

More than 24,000 attempts were made to get onto adult websites from inside the Parliamentary estate – around 160 requests per day – although most were blocked.

Users on the Parliamentary network, including MPs, peers, staff and contractors, used their devices to try and connect to banned content almost 25,000 times in just four months.

Is that a lot?

At the end of January 2015, the headcount of the number of people employed by the House of Commons was 2,040

Add on 650 MPs, 800 Lords, their staff and media workers, and you can add another, say, 2000 people to the Westminster head count. Given the figures supplied for the popularity of porn, Westminster looks relatively clean.

Here’s the date from the MBA company:


porn statistics watching


Posted: 8th, January 2018 | In: News, Politicians, Technology | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Liverpool balls: Mahrez guff, Coutinho paid to leave and Nike called the shots

So keen was Philippe Coutinho to quit Liverpool than he paid part of his own £142 million transfer to Barcelona. The Times says it’s “understood” the Brazilian invested £9 million “out of his own pocket and is committed to paying another £2.5 million in the future”.

Of course, it’s not hard to understand anything in the world of big business than now owns top-flight football: it’s all about the money. As Liverpool were reiterating their desire to keep hold of their best player, Nike, which sponsors Barcelona, Coutinho and Brazil, last month published a photo of a Barcelona shirt with the player’s name across the back. “Where the magic happens,” said Nike. “Philippe Coutinho is ready to light up Camp Nou. Get your 2017/18 FC Barcelona kit with the Magician’s name on it. Act fast – free personalisation only available until January 6.”


Liverpool looked strong when they blocked Coutinho’s mover to Barcelona six months ago. At the season’s start, after Liverpool had rejected three Barcelona bids for their playmaker, Jurgen Klopp told media: “I wasn’t manager when Suarez was sold, I wasn’t manager when Sterling was sold, and we’re not selling Coutinho.”

Faced with predators from Nike and Barcelona, Liverpool caved in, waving a not-all-that-fond farewell to the player who now joins another former Anfield star, Luis Suarez, in attack.

Minds now turn to what Liverpool will do with all that money. Well, £75m has been invested in Virgil van Dijk. And the rest? We, the Times says, “There is no appetite, as it stands, to pursue AS Monaco’s Thomas Lemar or Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez”.

Or as the Mirror puts it: “Liverpool to test Monaco’s resolve over Thomas Lemar transfer with January bid.”



Which on Sky Sports becomes:



As for Mahrez, well, the BBC reported on January 7: “Liverpool are set to sign Riyad Mahrez, with the 26-year-old Leicester City and Algeria forward expected to have a medical on Sunday.”

The story echoed a report on BeIn Sports, which guffed:


Total balls, then. Who Liverpool sign next is unclear, but one thing is certain: they’ll pay well over the odds.


Posted: 8th, January 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Barcelona puts Premier League in its place with £142m deal for Liverpool Philippe Coutinho

Liverpool have have sold Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona for £142m – and reassured the world that the Spanish league is bigger, better and starrier than the hyped Premier League. The mighty Reds will get £105m up front for the 25-year-old Brazilian and more should he win cups in the Nou Camp, which he will do.

It’s a huge profit for Liverpool, who paid Inter Milan £8.5m for the player in January 2013. It was also a big profit when Liverpool sold Luis Suarez to Barcelona for £64.98 million in 2014. Suarez went on to win:

La Liga: 2014–15, 2015–16
Copa del Rey: 2014–15, 2015–16, 2016–17
Supercopa de España: 2016
UEFA Champions League: 2014–15
UEFA Super Cup: 2015
FIFA Club World Cup: 2015

Liverpool have in that time won nothing.

The top players don’t dream of playing for Liverpool. They dream of playing for Real Madrid and Barcelona. Unless Liverpool can compete with mega-buck Manchester City and pay huge wages to hire talent the big Spanish clubs don’t want or can’t find room for, they won’t win titles.

Cheerio, Philippe. You’ll be missed…

Posted: 6th, January 2018 | In: Liverpool, News, Sports | Comment (1) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

John Warboys: sex attacker worse than Savile grooms the CPS

In 2009, London taxi driver John Worboys was given a prison sentence of indeterminate length after being convicted of rape and sexual assaults. He’s to be released on licence. The trial judge ordered Warboys to serve a minimum eight years behind bars for one rape and 19 charges of drugging and sexually assaulting at least 12 women. He has convinced the three-strong Parole Board panel that it is no longer necessary for the protection of the public that he remain in custody. The therapy has worked.



The problem is that police “believe” there are many more victims. In October 2010 detectives stated their “belief” that Worboys had attacked at least 102 women. The Sun says Warboys attacked 200 women. The Mirror leads with the headline that Warboys took part in “100 rapes and sex attacks”. Police “believe” Warboys is “probably Britain’s most prolific sex offender”, says the Times. Wore than Jimmy Savile, even, the BBC DJ and TV presenter who never got his day in court but post-death was nonetheless branded the man “who groomed an entire nation” and “one of the UK’s most prolific sex offenders”. Savile was a depraved criminal hiding in plain sight. But, as with Warboys, to accept each claim as proof is troubling. There’s no need to hurdle barriers to justice in court, where both sides of a case are heard, when you can announce guilt and trawl for ‘victims’.

And there are lots of victims:

Detectives told The Times that they feared he might have assaulted as many as 500 women, but his use of drugs meant that many could not recall details of what happened to them.

The Mail says “police suspected him of more than 500 attacks”.

It’s worth looking at this BBC story from April 2009:

The Metropolitan Police was told sex offence units were overstretched months before the arrest and release of taxi rapist John Worboys, it has emerged.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating why he was released after an arrest in July 2007.

A report said specialist sex offence units, known as Sapphire teams, were understaffed and overstretched.

A report by Government inspectors, which was seen by Met chiefs nine months before the original arrest and release of Worboys, found that Plumstead CID, in south east London, needed urgent reform.

Ch Supt Nicola Grevatt, of HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, said the Greenwich borough only had six officers with specialist training to deal with sex offences. Detectives were investigating up to 20 rape investigations each, the report added.

The effect had been that rape victims were losing contact with the police or withdrawing their support.

Ms Grevatt also said senior officers were responsible for poor communication, in-fighting and an atmosphere of political correctness and paranoia.

Worboys was held at a police station in Plumstead, south-east London, but released on bail.

In February last year he was arrested for a second time, which led to the charges on which he was convicted.

Do we have faith in the police, who failed women seeking help but when talking to media believe everyone is a victim; choosing to tell rather than to listen? Do we trust the justice system? Here’s an easier one: do we admire politicians? The Times makes the link between Warboys and the Labour Party explicit in its reporting. The headline tells readers: “Labour law chief backed ‘lenient’ term for taxi rapist John Worboys”:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal, the former Labour attorney-general, decided against referring the sentence handed to John Worboys back to the courts despite an outcry over its leniency, it emerged last night… Lady Scotland’s decision not to challenge the sentence is one of a series of actions by legal authorities that might have enabled his early release…


Scotland Yard said that in the aftermath of the trial it had been contacted by 19 further suspected victims and referred their cases to the Crown Prosecution Service in October 2010. It was told that further prosecutions were not in the public interest.

The director of public prosecutions was Sir Keir Starmer, now Labour’s frontbench spokesman on Brexit.

The Sun also notes that Starmer was “in charge of the CPS as 115 new victims told police Warboys had attacked them”. The Mail (page 5), thunders: “How Labour’s Keir Starmer let him escape more charges”. Starmer is “accused of ignoring scores of women” who claim Warboys attacked them. A “senior Whitehall source” opines: “If Warboys had been ordered to stand trial for more attacks, it is possible he would have been convicted”. If. Possible. So much for considering the facts. And do we know if Starmer had any role to play in the Warboys trial? No. The Mail concedes: “It is not known if he was personally involved in the decision not to prosecute.”

In the Left-wing papers, the Guardian makes no mention of Starmer and Baroness Scotland in its report “John Worboys: MP demands reasons for release of ‘black-cab rapist'”. The Mirror declines to mention Baroness Scotland and Starmer in its tale of the “sex beast”.

Biased reporting to the fore, then, in a story about a sexual predator’s depravity and prison’s ability to rehabilitate even the most sickening criminals.


Posted: 5th, January 2018 | In: Broadsheets, Key Posts, News, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Arsenal v Chelsea balls: Jack Wilshere’s ‘outrageous dive’ wasn’t a dive say top refs

One day with video technology being a football referee will be easy. Mistakes will no longer be made. To emphasise the point, former refs have been reviewing the tapes of the Arsenal v Chelsea match for newspapers. Take the incident when Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere, already on a yellow card, was hit the turf on the edge or the Chelsea box. Did he fall or was he tripped?

Former referee Mark Halsey reviews the tape. He tells Sun readers:

I also felt Taylor [referee Anthony Taylor] did well by not handing a second caution to Jack Wilshere when he went down under a challenge from Andreas Christiansen [sic]. Taylor saw the incident and played on which was the correct thing to do. He didn’t go looking for trouble. It wasn’t simulation or a foul – it was just normal contact. Not every time a player goes down is simulation.


Or as former referee Graham Poll puts it in the Daily Mail:

Jack Wilshere should have been sent off for an outrageous dive but luckily for him, referee Anthony Taylor’s view was blocked by a number of players…. But knowing he was on a yellow card, he was stupid to dive over Andreas Christensen in the second half.

Also commenting on the match was former referee Dermot Gallagher, who tells Sky News:

The referee is in a position there where if he gambles and gambles wrongly he’s got a red card. It’s not possible to send somebody off for something you didn’t see. There is no way the referee can see that situation clearly enough to make a decision to send the player off. He’s waved it away and play has gone on. I think that’s exactly the right decision for that situation.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 4th, January 2018 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, News, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Nine who overdosed on hyoscine further cause of legalised cocaine

More evidence that all drugs should be legalised comes to us from Perth, Australia. Nine backpackers from France, Morocco, Germany and Italy are in hospital undergoing treatment for overdosing on a prescription drug called hyoscine, also known as scopolamine. It’s used to treat motion sickness. Reports suggest the victims, aged 21 to 25, thought they were snorting cocaine.

Three of the travellers are in intensive care in induced comas.

“They didn’t know where they were,” says Dr David McCutcheon of the Royal Perth hospital, where some of the victims were treated. “They were rolling around on their stretchers. It is lucky someone called an ambulance. Several of these people would have died without medical attention … their bodies were overheating, they were having seizures.”

One backpacker discharged form hospital says they found the drugs in a package with a New York stamp dated December 11. It was addressed to a name none of them knew. Inside was a white powder wrapped in aluminium, which had the word “scoop” written on it.

The upshot must be that people will always look for ways to get off their faces. The sensible thing would be to legalise drugs and reduce the chance of anyone taking unknown poisons. Drugs should be legal because they can be dangerous and pose serious risks. It’s time for a war on the war on drugs.

Posted: 4th, January 2018 | In: News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Starlings scare predator by forming shape of a huge bird

To evade predators starlings cluster. In the skies over Costa Brava, Spain, a murmuration of starlings took the form of a a far larger bird. Daniel Biber, who took the photo, tells the Independent:

“I was taking pictures of the murmurations over several days. Only when I checked the pictures on the computer later, I realised what formation the starlings had created.

“I was so concentrated on taking pictures at the time that I hadn’t realised that the starlings had created a giant bird in the sky.

“It took less than 10 seconds for the birds to create that formation. I realised that I had captured a unique snapshot, technically, sharp and in high quality.”




Mr Biber’s picture won first prize in a contest run by the Swiss Ornithological Institute in Sempach, which sims “to inspire public interest in birds and raise awareness for their protection”.

Says Daniel: “In the northeast of Spain, hundreds of thousands of Common Starlings gather at nighttime to sleep. While I was watching this spectacle, the billowing flock suddenly took the shape of a huge flying bird. What luck!”

Posted: 4th, January 2018 | In: News, Strange But True | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

West Brom’s Jake Livermore should shun the police after West Ham fan taunts him over dead son

Can terrace abuse go too far? West Bromwich Albion say their player Jake Livermore was on the receiving end of a West Ham United fan’s comments about the death of his newborn son, Jake Junior, who died in May 2014. We don’t know what was said to the former Spurs player, but it’s unlikely to have been along the lines of “Sorry for your loss, Jake” and “I wish you a long life”.

The alleged comment was made as the Baggies’ midfielder was being substituted in the second half of his side’s 2-1 defeat. Livermore was incensed, clambering into the stands and making for the berk. The only sad thing is that the stewards stepped in and prevented it becoming an “I was there” moment. Not that the non-event has stopped media from trailing it as must-see TV. One site oozes: “Watch: Jake Livermore Climbs Into Crowd And Tries To Get At Fan.”



I was at an Arsenal v Newcastle United match in 2008. Seated four rows back from the pitch, one row behind me three dickheads were screaming abuse at Joey Barton, recently readmitted to society after serving prison time for assault and affray. Joey winked at the criminally unfunny fans, who called him a “pikey c*nt” and encouraged to “come and have a go”. Of a like mind, Arsenal fans moved left and right to form a path, a gap though which he hoped Barton would accept the challenge. That he didn’t was a pity. We’d have loved it. But Barton understood that it was just mindless banter, taunts designed to do one thing: unsettle the opposition. Livermore took the bait.

West Brom have issued a statement: “The club would like to think that all right-minded football supporters could understand this reaction which did not result in any physical exchanges before Jake was led away to our dressing room. Jake is an outstanding young individual who has the total support of everyone at the club and he has made it clear he considers this statement to be an end to an unhappy incident. Albion were very appreciative of the swift response by the officials of West Ham in dealing with this matter and are more than happy to leave any further action they deem appropriate in their hands.”

What further action is right for a man who upsets a footballer or a footballer who “wades into crowd and shoves” a fan (Daily Mirror)?

West Ham add: “The player has confirmed he does not wish to make this a police matter, however, given the nature of the allegations, the club will continue to investigate before taking the appropriate action.”

A police matter? What’s the crime? Saying vile things to upset a player who used to play for the local rivals, and hoping that in so doing you cement yourself with the Hammers faithful who cheer on a team owned by Arsenal fans and who against West Brom featured two English players in the starting XI, one from Liverpool, the other Gateshead? It really is that stupid. And being stupid is not a crime – after all, if it were, we’d soon run out of coppers…

Posted: 3rd, January 2018 | In: News, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Media bias: sorry Swansea lose to a ‘pinpoint’ offside Spurs goal

When Spurs visited Swansea in the Premier League, the game’s opening goal in a 2-0 win for the Londoners should have been ruled out for offside. New Swansea coach Carlos Carvalhal says assistant referee Marc Perry apologised to his error.

But how does the Spurs website report on the controversy?

The former Swansea City target man marked his maiden Premier League start in our colours following his summer move from south Wales with an early breakthrough from Christian Eriksen’s free-kick.

It was also the Spaniard’s first domestic goal for us and came amid a spell of intense first-half pressure in the driving rain, but it took until the 89th minute for us to find a second through Dele Alli.


Christian Eriksen delivered the set piece and Llorente shook off his marker to glance in a header at the near post.

No word at all on the offside there. No word that the ‘marker’ had stepped up to play Llorente offside. But on the Swansea City website it’s a different story. The match report begins thus:

Liberty old boy Fernando Llorente set Spurs on the path to victory with an early header which should have been disallowed for offside.

And in the fourth paragraph, there it is again:

Tottenham took the lead on 12 minutes as Llorente headed home Christian Eriksen’s free-kick, but the Swans felt hard done by as replays showed the Spaniard was a yard offside.

What about local media?

The London Evening Standard describes the goal thus: “Tottenham old boy Tom Carroll felled Son Heung-min near the touchline and Eriksen’s trademark delivery quality picked out the head of Llorente in the penalty box.”

He picked out an offisde player.

And in the South Wales Echo: “…it was more the errors from referee Bobby Madley than anything else that contributed to this two-goal defeat in a middle of a torrential downpour… Tottenham’s key first goal was clearly offside. And long before Dele Alli sealed the game in the 89 minute, Spurs should have been reduced to ten men as Davinson Sanchez avoided an obvious second yellow card.”

Such are the facts.

Posted: 3rd, January 2018 | In: Back pages, News, Sports, Spurs | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Would be Tube fare-dodger caught by the penis

penis underground


The last time anyone of note vaulted the turnstiles on the London Underground, they were on their way to shoot an innocent man in the head. So it could have been worse when our hero leapt over the ticket barriers at Covent Garden station (more evidence of the London 2012 Olympic legacy – ed). Well, at least he tried to. The barriers shut and the young blade was caught by the penis.

The alleged dodger’s todger had upset the plan.

In addition to kind hearts stopping to record the spectacle on their mobile phones, advice was offered, not last of all the directive, “Butter him up, butter him up.”

Once freed, the man thanks a police officer (unarmed) and a passer-by who had helped.

Posted: 3rd, January 2018 | In: News, Strange But True | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Liverpool balls: Coutinho is determined to join Barcelona

Philippe Coutinho wants to leave Liverpool for Barcelona as soon as possible. The Times says Coutinho “believes that he has played his last game for Liverpool”. Not that belief is as legally binding as a contract.

Liverpool have rejected a bid of £119m for the 25-year-old. But Liverpool are now, reportedly, willing to sell should the Spanish side come up with an improved offer for the Brazilian – something in the region of £130m.

Coutinho has been playing well for Liverpool, scoring 12 goals in 20 appearances. But the problem for Coutinho is that his contract keeps him at Liverpool until 2022. He earns a not-too-shabby £150,000-a-week on the deal he signed last year, but his earning would rocket at Barcelona, and that’s without any signing-on bonus, which would be huge.

So is Coutinho, who was absent for Liverpool’s scrappy win New Year’s Day win at Burnley, off? Last week, Nike, the player’s sponsor and suppliers of Barcelona’s kit, stated a deal had been done. That was incorrect, say Liverpool.

Over in Spain, the front page of Mundo Deportivo declares: “Coutinho 145 millones.” Of course, what the newspapers say is ofter utter tosh. In October, the Liverpool Echo opined: “Philippe Coutinho deal to Barcelona may have already been done.” Or it may not have been.

One thing is certain: Liverpool are primed for Barcelona’s next move.

Posted: 3rd, January 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, News, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

RyanAir passenger exits via the emergency door at Malaga Airport

“This man decided he wasn’t going to wait any longer. He activated the emergency door and left, saying: ‘I’m going via the wing’. It was surreal. He was sat on the wing for quite a while until the crew managed to get him back inside.” So says Fernando Del Valle Villalobos as he recalls how a fellow passenger on board a delayed RyanAir flight from Stansted to Malaga, Spain, grew tired of waiting to disembark and opted for the quicker exit.

The traveller, a 57-year-old Polish national, sat on the wing of flight FR8164 with his hand luggage. The plane sat on the tarmac. Coaxed back inside the plane, he was soon arrested.

A spokesman for Ryanair goes on the record: “This airport security breach occurred after landing in Malaga airport on 1 January. Malaga airport police immediately arrested the passenger in question and since this was a breach of Spanish safety and security regulations, it is being dealt with by the Spanish authorities.”

Reports that the man was a RyanAir employee investigating new classes of travel, and doing away with steps, are wide of the mark. Probably.

Posted: 3rd, January 2018 | In: News, The Consumer | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Banning traffic apps is a wholly stupid idea

Given that the purpose of traffic apps is to help motorists avoid congestion, you’d suppose everyone would love them. Roads are a finite and scarce public resource. To maximise their value, they should be used. If one road has too much traffic, directing vehicles to underused roads makes sense. But some people don’t get it. They want the apps banned.

Caroline Russell, Transport Spokesman for the Green Party and member of the London Assembly, has been pricked into action by people who don’t like drivers using roads by their homes. And they’re blaming apps. “We have a huge congestion problem, and apps which provide a cut through, simply move that problem into areas where people are living,” says Russell.

But they don’t. The apps present a solution to the problem. And there being cars where people live is pretty much the point of the things – cars are very good at getting you home.

She continues: “It might be good for a few drivers, but it is much less healthy for the residents in those streets. A lot of these streets have so much parking you can’t even get two cars down, so you get jams, and a build up of pollution.”

So drivers can use the apps and, er, change direction to find an alternative route.

She continues: “Mini-Holland schemes have completely transformed neighbourhoods. Cars can no longer get in anymore. Those areas which were bumper to bumper now feel upbeat and positive. People now enjoy walking or riding their bike, so not only has it cut pollution but it’s a nudge in the right direction towards a healthier lifestyle.”

(Mini-Hollands are when roads are blocked to all vehicles except cyclists and motorists who live on them. The scheme is being implemented in three London boroughs.)

Meanwhile, people living nearby already busy roads get to see the value of their property fall as these new ‘gated communities’ are protected from outsiders and ‘other drivers’.

Why not do something more imaginative than banning things that keep traffic moving, like building more roads?

Posted: 1st, January 2018 | In: News, Technology | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Media bias: Arsenal are robbed by West Bromwich Albion’s deserved penalty

Biased footballer reporting is very much in evidence in match reports on West Bromwich Albion’s 1–1 draw with Arsenal. Having taken the lad with an 83rd minute own goal, the Gunners were denied a win when Albion scored an 89th minute penalty. Referee Mike Dean decided that it was hand ball when, as the Arsenal website puts it “former Gunner Kieran Gibbs flicked the ball into Calum Chambers’ hand in the area”. The reporting is clear: any handball was not intentional.

Former referee Graham Poll uses his Daily Mail column to state: “It wasn’t a penalty. It should never have been a penalty.”

The Times says “Calum Chambers was penalised for handball when the ball was kicked at him from a yard away”.

But in the Express and Star, the local West Bromwich Albion newspaper, the report looks like this:

Having been the better team for large parts of the game, Alan Pardew’s team found themselves staring defeat in the face after Alexis Sanchez squeezed a free-kick through a brittle Baggies wall seven minutes from time.

There will be an inquest into that goal, which has officially gone down as a James McClean own goal, but in the 89th minute, referee Mike Dean pointed at the spot after Callum Chambers handled in the box.

No inquest about that.

And: “Albion hadn’t been awarded a spot-kick for more than 50 games, so they were certainly due one.”

So that’s alright, then.

Posted: 1st, January 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports | Comments (2) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Swede paints huge pink penis in Chinese area of New York

The four-storey painting of a penis on the side of a building in Broome Street, New York, has been painted over. Carolina Falkholt’s massive knob is a mural bookend to her huge “abstract vagina” on the city’s Pike Street.

“I usually paint giant vaginas, pussies and cunts,” says Falkholt, “and since I had just finished one on the side of a five-storey building, I felt like a dick was needed. The wall space on Broome was a perfect fit for it. To paraphrase [the artist] Judith Bernstein, if a dick can go into a woman, it can go up on a wall.”

Something to think about, readers, as you take a wazz down the side of the pub. Aim high. Aim proud.

Or maybe do it on your own house. “We don’t like it, and we hope they take it down,” says a local. For reasons unclear the Guardian says the area is a “mainly Chinese neighbourhood”. Why would a Swedish woman paint a huge pink penis in an area mostly occupied by non-pink Chinese people? If identity matters, which the papers suggests it does, why not think bigger and get your huge dick on a Protestant skyscraper?

And adolescents cannot help but notice that the penis is not attached to the man, let alone a Weinstein, Clinton or Trump. No balls. No ejaculate. No intern. Nothing an adolescent would consider all that good. It’s a painting of a giant dildo. It’s not edgy and daring. It’s a blunt tool, although useful, perhaps, to assist Kevin Spacey, Louis CK et al in ‘battling their demons’…

Posted: 28th, December 2017 | In: News, Strange But True, The Consumer | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Desperate Liverpool outbid Manchester City for Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk

If Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk is worth £75m to Liverpool, rival clubs must be running audits of their playing assets and discovering new riches.

Liverpool will take delivery of the Dutch defender on January 2 in a £75m deal, making him the world’s most expensive defender.

It say something about the price when you know that massive-spending Manchester City were not prepared to match Liverpool’s offer for yet another Southampton player – Van Dijk will become the sixth Southampton player signed by Liverpool since 2014. He’ll join former Saints: Sadio Mane (£34m), Adam Lallana (£25m), Dejan Lovren (£20m), Nathaniel Clyne (£12.5m). Rickie Lambert (£5m) has left the club. And Liverpool boast another former Saint in Oxlade-Chamberlain, who they recruited from Arsenal for £35m.

Might it not be cheaper for Liverpool to hire Southampton’s talent spotters? Or why not buy the club? In 2017, Southampton sold 80% of the club to Chinese businessman Gao Jisheng for around £210m. Liverpool have spent not far shy of that on Southampton players.


Posted: 28th, December 2017 | In: Liverpool, News, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Facebook bans anti-fascist art

O Tannenbaum im deutschen Raum, wie krumm sind deine äste!


“Excuse me, where are the white supremacists?” That question was asked by an anti-fascist at a protest against the far right in Boston back in August. The Nazis turned out to be a “couple of dozen courteous people linked by little more than a commitment to — surprise! — free speech”. The 40,000 anti-Nazis who turned up stop Hitler’s return and prevent the world ‘returning to the 1930s’, as if a decade were an actual place or even a planet, couldn’t find the enemy they see everywhere, anywhere.

Facebook is also looking for Nazism where none exists. And because it’s got more feelers than a Harvey Weinstein AGM, Facebook can stare at things really hard until it finds something to be offended by and use to showcase its sound morals. It can see fascism in John Heartfield’s 1934 anti-Nazi photomontage, O Tannenbaum im deutschen Raum, wie krumm sind deine äste! (‘O Christmas Tree in German soil, how crooked are thy branches!’), one of the best known and powerful anti-fascist images of that era (see above).

For the hard of understanding, Heartfield (born Helmut Herzfeld; 19 June 1891 – 26 April 1968), who used photomontages to take on Adolf Hitler, wrote beneath his tree:

“According to the decree of the Reich Minister of Nutrition, the Tannenbaum is forbidden to reproduce as a foreign intruder on German soil from Christmas 1934. In the future, only the brown uniform tree bred in Walhall is allowed .”

He created and worked extensively for the left-wing workers’ daily Arbeiter Illustrierte Zeitung (AIZ). Here’s a brief biog of the man:

John Heartfield anglicized his name as a protest against German nationalism during World War I. In 1929 Heartfield began his long collaboration with AIZ, furnishing full-page photomontages nearly every month. Forced to flee Germany after Hitler came to power, he continued to create work for AIZ while in exile. He spent the war years in England, where he worked as a graphic artist. Heartfield was an active supporter of Communism and in 1950 returned to what was then East Germany. He continued to work there, mostly designing scenery and posters for the Berliner Ensemble and Deutsches Theater. Heartfield died in East Berlin in 1968, leaving an extensive archive, which, upon his widow’s death, was transferred to the Akademie der Kiinste zu Berlin. Given Heartfield’s leftist political leanings, his work has rarely been shown in the West. His first exhibition in New York was in 1938; the next was in 1991, when pages from the AIZ were shown.

A 1991 show of Heartfield’s caused the NY Times reviewer to notice the artist satirizing “the Nazi curtailment of civil rights and the Reichstag fire, to pronouncements about German eating habits, made in the face of severe food shortages. One image shows a typical German family dining on a bicycle beneath the heading: ‘Hooray, butter is finished.’ Underneath is a quote from Goebbels to the effect that iron ore makes a people strong, lard and butter only make it fat. Nearby, a related image shows a man being spread onto a piece of toast like butter, along with the Suggestion that, when all else fails, Germany can always eat its Jews. A larger caption reads: ‘Goebbels’s recipe against the food shortage in Germany.'”


Goebbels's recipe against the food shortage in Germany."

“Goebbels’s recipe against the food shortage in Germany.”


In 1993, MOMA wrote of Heartfield, whose work was being showcased:

His aim was to expose the dangers and abuses of power in the Nazi regime. For example, Adolf, the Superman: Swallows Gold and Spouts Junk (1932) shows Hitler from the waist up. A swastika replaces his heart, and his torso is an x-ray revealing gold coins flowing down his throat and collecting in his stomach. Meaning of Geneva (1932) shows a dove spiked on a bayonet in front of the League of Nations palace. The headline reads: “Where Capital Lives, There Can Be No Peace!” Such images remain among the most vivid satirical images of German political conditions of the 1930s. Although they deal with figures and events of more than half-a-century ago, they are instantly comprehensible today.


John Heartfield, With this sign we want to betray you

John Heartfield, With this sign we want to betray you


Heartfield’s work was vehemently anti-fascist. but Facebook saw the Hitler tree and commanded it to get thee hence. Stephen Ellcock published the tree on his Facebook page. And for that he’s been blocked and banished to the Facebook gulag for 30 days.


Arbeiter Illustrierte Zeitung, 10 August 1933

Arbeiter Illustrierte Zeitung, 10 August 1933, cover by Heartfield


John Heartfield - Gefährliche Mitesser (Dangerous Dining Companions),

John Heartfield – Gefährliche Mitesser (Dangerous Dining Companions)


nazis john heartfield


“The irony of this is glaringly obvious and in the grand scheme of things it is a ridiculously piffling matter, but it is definitely indicative of much wider and very important issues,” says Stephen, who wrote to Facebook to alert them to their idiocy. “Facebook HQ’s only response so far is along the lines, ‘Well, somebody may have have mistaken it for pro-Nazi propaganda.'”

We live in the age of the prude, for whom the overriding desire is to be offended. Triggered by the ‘inappropriate’, the knowing, smug and panicky engage in their demand for universal adherence to their monocular view. There is no alternative viewpoint to theirs. You are wrong. They are right. Things must be banned lest the race-riot in waiting (you) erupt. In the 1930s, we had a word for these censors. But to scream “fascist!” in their cloth ears would only get lost in the din because today everyone you don’t agree with is a fascist. For the censors to see is to do. One minute you’re looking at a demented tree on Facebook, the next you’re wearing felt and burning Jews.


1935 John Heartfield photomontage from the AIZ. The caption reads: 'How did this man get this spinal curvature?' 'That is the organic result of the incessant Heil Hitler salute.'

1935 John Heartfield photomontage from the AIZ. The caption reads: ‘How did this man get this spinal curvature?’ ‘That is the organic result of the incessant Heil Hitler salute.’


“The most disconcerting aspect of this sentence is that I cannot even respond or react to messages,” Stephen continues, “which is a very draconian and unfair, particularly as I don’t have alternative contact details for many of my closest virtual friends and collaborators. I am also going to lose quite a bit of money as a result of this, as I was going to be paid a reasonable sum for guest ‘curating’ the Thinking 3D FB page over the next week or two.”

Until Facebook sees the light, Stephen will be posting on Facebook via Flashbak.

Posted: 27th, December 2017 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

US ambassador to Holland says his own words are ‘fake news’

Little things are more satisfying than showing a politician as a fool. There’s pulling a shoelace from under your socked foot, sure. But watching a politico get caught out is a joy. And so it was when Dutch-born US ambassador to the Netherlands, Pete Hoekstra, described his own news as “fake news”.

Asked by Dutch reporter Wouter Zwart about is own choice of phrase, Hoekstra was defiant. “You mentioned in a debate that there are no-go zones in the Netherlands, and that cars and politicians are being set on fire in the Netherlands,” said Zwart. “I didn’t say that,” replied Hoekstra. “This is actually an incorrect statement. We would call it fake news.”

Hoekstra is then shown recordings of him stating: “The Islamic movement has now gotten to a point where they have put Europe into chaos. Chaos in the Netherlands, there are cars being burnt, there are politicians that are being burnt … and yes there are no-go zones in the Netherlands.”

Hoekstra then told Zwart he’d never used the phrase “fake news”. “I didn’t call that fake news. I didn’t use the words today. I don’t think I did,” he offered.

Mr Hoekstra served as chair of the House intelligence committee for two years…

Posted: 23rd, December 2017 | In: News, Politicians | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Meghan Markle, Princess Michael and the Windsor weirdos

Did you notice that Princess Michael of Kent wore a “blackamoor” brooch, depicting a black person in a turban when she attended a free lunch where Prince Harry and his lover, Meghan Markle, were also dining? The Sun, Mail and Telegraph all did, describing the brooch as “racist”.

That each of those organs couched the word inside inverted commas reveals that they don’t know if it’s racist or not. Is it more racist than dressing up as a Nazi (Prince Harry), having a dad who was an officer in the SS (Michael) or calling a man a “Paki” (Harry again)?

Is it less racist than pointing out that Markle is mixed-race and must therefore be offended by a piece of jewellery worn by a foreign-born divorcee of non-royal birth who married into the weirdest clan this side of the Appalachians? Might Mike and Mark not be kindred spirits who got into bed with people of lower moral worth?



The Times stirs the bedpan by throwing the matter into the debating ring: “Princess Michael of Kent: racially insensitive – or something worse?”


Pricne Harry NAzi

Just larking about


The Times informs us that blackamoor tut “is part of a tradition of jewellery and art that was popular in the 18th century, but in recent years has come to be regarded as highly racially insensitive.”

The princess was condemned in a series of posts on social media. One woman wrote: “Ah, the Princess who wears racist jewellery to lunch with Meghan Markle.” Another said: “That looks inappropriate in any setting.”

What else looks inappropriate at a lunch with a woman who rides about in a gold coach and whose eldest son was shagging a married woman while we all simpered at Diana? Poor people? Terry Waite tied to a radiator drinking a glass of urine? Prince Andrew getting a rub down?

A third wrote: “Has no one noticed the Blackamoor pin that Princess Michael of Kent is wearing? Really? #MeghanMarkle officially meets the family and is greeted by THIS? #racism #BritishRoyals.”


Although Ms Markle is not thought to have dined at the same table as Princess Michael, it is likely that they met.

Possibly as Mike handed Mark her coat and asked for a gin and spite.

It’s all huge news, of course. But Harry and his paramour are so much in love no mere trinket can break them. Just get a load of the official photo that shows us how much in love they are (“whatever ‘in love’ means is” – Prince Charles).


The official photo


Gosh. I’m welling up:


harry meghan



Image: Richard Littler


Posted: 22nd, December 2017 | In: Celebrities, News, Royal Family | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Brexit voters were groomed: the referendum was a crime

It’s not your fault you voted for Brexit, as 17.4 millions of you did. You didn’t vote for Brexit because you wanted change, to de-sanitise political debate and upset your unelected decision makers; because aspirational people asked what the opaque EU had done for them and couldn’t think of anything that could not be done as well or better without it; because you wanted to engage with democracy, deciding that decisions about the UK should be taken in the UK. None of that is your fault. You, dear voter, are a victim, an adult with all the nous of a vulnerable child getting into a stranger’s car to see his puppies. You were exploited. You were ‘groomed’. You poor, sad fools are the victims of abuse.


What’s the EU done for me?


Simon Wren-Lewis, Professor of Economic Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford University, and a fellow of Merton College, encapsulates how the millions who voted for Brexit in a legal poll are now caricatured as mentally negligible children:

Brexit would not have happened if it had remained the wish of a minority of Conservative MPs. It happened because of the right wing UK press. Brexit happened because this right wing press recognised a large section of their readership were disaffected from conventional politics, and began grooming them with stories of EU immigrants taking jobs, lowering wages and taking benefits (and sometimes much worse). These stories were not (always) false, but like all good propaganda they elevated a half-truth into a firm belief. Of course this grooming played on age old insecurities, but it magnified them into a political movement. Nationalism does the same. It did not just reflect readers existing views, but rather played on their doubts and fears and hopes and turned this into votes.


‘I want more and have more chance of getting it if the UK makes its own laws and its politicians, the ones I can directly elect at the ballot box, are accountable for them’


How do we see each other?



You Leave voters were comfortably dumb in going against the wishes of Big Government and Big Business (most MPs and leaders of big businesses wanted to Remain). But don’t worry. People who consider you dupes, who know what’s best for you, have coined the term ‘soft Brexit’, a safe space with soft walls, soft voices and soft beds. You’ll be happier there, in the incident suite, where knowing adults can hold your hands and tell you that what happened wasn’t love. It was abuse. And you were the victim.

Posted: 21st, December 2017 | In: News, Politicians | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

A terrifying talking Donald Trump robot debuts at Disney World


No sooner has Disney taken over Fox, President Trump’s favourite new bringer, than a terrifying talking Donald Trump robot debuts at Disney World. TrumpBot stands alongside other American presidents, like Abraham Lincoln, Barack Obama, and George Washington. All can be seen at the Mouse House’s Hall of Presidents.

Mickey Mouse Presidents, you say? Mickey Mouse is defined by the Urban Dictionary as: “Substandard, poorly executed or organized. Amateurish.” Bit harsh.

Anyhow, here’s roboDon:

“From the beginning, America has been a nation defined by its people. At our founding, it was the American people who rose up to defend our freedoms and win our independence. It was why our Founders began our great Constitution with three very simple words: We the people. Since that moment, each generation of Americans has taken its place in the defense of our freedom, our flag, and our nation under God.”

He does not say, “Grab her by the pussy!”


Posted: 19th, December 2017 | In: News, Politicians, The Consumer | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0