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Meghan’s spare wedding dress cost £100,000 (or not)

Thomas who? Thomas Markle… Anyone? Having rolled over Megan Markle’s father, the news cycle gets to focus on the honeymoon and the dress. Not that the new Duchess of Sussex’s dress was a surprise to Daily Mail readers who on April 4 got a sneak peak of her walk-on look. Rebecca English told us:

EXCLUSIVE: Meghan’s £100,000 wedding dress revealed: Royal bride will wear hand-stitched, beaded design made by British couturiers Ralph & Russo (and paid for by Prince Harry’s family)

 

daily mail meghan dress

 

The price then doubled. And the designer changed their name. Although no longer an “exclusive”, the story remained a revelation: “Givenchy’s Clare Waight Keller has been revealed as Meghan’s wedding dress designer.” There had been lots of “speculation” –  surely “exclusives”? – with with “Ralph & Russo hotly tipped”:

 

 

meghan dress daily mail

 

 

But if it’s guff you’re after, step forward and take long obsequious bow, Robin Givhan, who writes in the Washington Post:

…what was most noticeable were all the things that the dress was not. It was not a Hollywood red-carpet statement. It was not a Disney-princess fantasy. It was not a mountain of camouflaging tulle and chiffon.

The dress, designed by Clare Waight Keller, was free of extravagant embellishments. It was not covered in yards of delicate lace. It did not have a single ruffle — no pearls or crystals. Its beauty was in its architectural lines and its confident restraint. It was a romantic dress, but one that suggested a clear-eyed understanding that a real-life romance is not the stuff of fairy tales. The dress was a backdrop; it was in service to the woman.

Weekend in Blackpool, right?

Posted: 19th, May 2018 | In: Fashion, News, Royal Family, Tabloids | Comment


Chinese corruption crackdown screwed Cartier watches

cartier fakes china

 

These aren’t things you’d really think would be connected. How much corruption there is or isn’t in the Chinese economy and the profits of a Swiss watchmaker. But there is indeed a link and it’s worth about £400 million.

The connection is that when people Out East make buckets of cash money from doing something they shouldn’t have done then they’ll invest some of the proceeds in a good looking watch. And the brand matters – because the watch is a signifier of being one of the rich guys. Therefore it has to be one of the brands which is seen as showing that you’re one of the rich guys.

Sure, it’s showing off but with a purpose. It shows you’re a player and if you can show you’re one of those them more games to play in will be offered.

Then what happens with a crackdown upon corruption? Fewer people have the cash to buy them of course. But also, even those who can legitimately buy them from properly earned money won’t – who wants to be market out as a player when there’s a crackdown?

The company took action after stocks of its wristwatches began building up in display cabinets in Asian markets amid a crackdown on corruption in China, where luxury products such as watches and whisky had been dished out as lavish gifts to curry favour with officials, as well as a wider sales slowdown. It was worried that unsold stock would end up being discounted in the so-called “grey market” of unauthorised resellers, damaging the image and pricing power of its brands.

There’s also that point that fewer “presents” were being bought. The effect is rather large:

Shares in Richemont fell sharply on Friday after the Swiss luxury goods group reported annual profits had been hit by more than €200m spent buying back excess stocks of watches to protect its brands from “grey market” discounted sales.

It was a couple of hundred million the year before too.

The real lesson here is that the world economy is a hellishly complex place. Less corruption in China means smaller Swiss watch profits. How can anyone plan something of this complexity? And that really is why planned economies don’t work, it’s just not possible to even know what’s going on let alone predict what will.

Posted: 19th, May 2018 | In: Key Posts, Money, News | Comment


Standing in a betting shop made women want me

They shoot horses and put greyhounds out to graze on the hard shoulder. And now there’s “bloodbath at the bookies” featuring human beings. The Star is labouring under the impression that bookmakers give two hoots about their staff as it leads with how the Government has “slashed maximum stakes at fixed odds betting terminals from £100 to £2”. This will, we’re told, lead to job cuts among the people detailed to scoop up the proceeds of the pitiless gambling industry and deposit the filthy lucre into the burgeoning bank accounts of the big companies running the show.

 

betting adverts tabloids

Betting is sexy!

 

betting adverts tabloids

Who sane dials these lines?

 

The Association of British Bookmakers warns that curbs on “crack cocaine” betting machines will lead to the loss of 21,000 jobs as 4,000 high-street bookies shut. All balls, of course. The big betting companies spend fortunes telling us to bet online, offering inducements for a more fun sporting experience from your smart phone. They don’t do that to improve the lot of their shop workers. Online bookies are often based overseas. They’re happy for British punters to chuck their money to non-British workers.

Switch on pretty much any televised sporting event and someone will tell you how betting is for hard men – men ‘hard’ to argue with, like actor Ray Winstone, or ‘hard’ to touch, like the priapic saddos who think betting on Harry Kane will get them laid, possibly with an actual flesh-and-bone woman.

 

betting adverts tabloids

 

Inside today’s Star there are plenty of adverts for gambling. “Bets plan is a loser,” says the Star’s editorial. The adverts agree – it’s free FUN and you GET YOUR MONEY BACK:

Page 50: topless stunna Michelle Marsh advises readers to “BET HARD & FAST” (see above). Subtle it ain’t.

Pages 46- 48: horse racing times are wrapped round adverts for tipster hotlines (£1.50-a-minute); and more ads for Ladbrokes and Coral – “Bet £5.. .& Get £20 in Free Bets” – “When The Fun Stops Stop – Be Gamble Aware.” Yeah, right.

Pages 27-30:  An entire section advertising Paddy Power bets on the FA Cup final – “The Craziest bets punters have placed this weekend.”

And it’s all done to keep people in work and the high-street bustling. It’s selfless stuff…

Posted: 18th, May 2018 | In: Key Posts, Money, News, Tabloids | Comment


Meghan Markle: darts walk-on girls and The Naked Rambler should get the nod

As Meghan Markle straps an inflatable bellend to her neck and brandishes Harry’s loyalty card for for the mother of all hen nights at SophistiCats night club, the papers all lead with the “sad” announcement that her dad, the much-maligned Thomas Markle, will no be walking her down the aisle. Who will is the matter of heated debate, the smart money being on the her mother, darts walk-on girls, Naomi Campbell, the Naked Rambler and Ian Botham, should he be seeking a new sponsorship role: it’s £1000-a-yard for charity. (TV executives, call me I have ideas – Sue Perkins presents The Hard Yards, a pro-celebrity walk down the aisle.)

 

the sun markle harry sex

The Sun plan for the next generation

 

Anyhow, California-gal Meghan stuffed in a plum and issued a statement via the Kensington palace twitter feed: “Sadly my father will not be attending our wedding. I have always cared for my father and hope he can be given the space he needs to focus on his health.” Shades of Adrian Mole’s mother saying she’s “fond” of him. Harry has never met Thomas. But “nothing’s going to spoil our big day,” thunders the Daily Mail’s lead headline – although you’d imagine a few of the paper’s hacks will give it a whirl.

In the Sun there’s lots of gush about Meghan being a “silver-lining girl”as the paper joins “fans” sleeping on the streets of Windsor. Best not get there too early, mind, lest the police give you a kick and move you on. The homeless and rough sleepers have been swept from the town’s streets. “Crazy Corner” looks like the “Calais Jungle”, says the Sun’s man on patio furniture. But there’s no Lily Allen, just people like Skye London  – “People call us mad. Well, we are mad but we always gets the best seats” –  and Terry Hunt – “I’ve been doing this since I was four. I’m at every wedding and outside the hospital at every birth.”

Posted: 18th, May 2018 | In: News, Royal Family, Tabloids | Comment


Hunter S Thompson’s letter to Tom Wolfe- the ‘pig in the ‘filthy white suit’

Tom Wolfe (1931- 2018), leading light of the ‘New Journalism’, writer of the terrific The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and much else has died. Joseph Epstein writes in his profile of Wolfe in The New Republic: “His prose style is normally shotgun baroque, sometimes edging over into machine-gun rococo, as in his article on Las Vegas which begins by repeating the word ‘hernia’ 57 times.” “He is probably the most skillful writer in America — I mean by that he can do more things with words than anyone else,” says William F. Buckley Jr., in National Review. But if it’s high praise you’re after, getting up Hunter S. Thompson’s nose is hard to top.

The writers exchanged letters, the pick of which is this missive from Thomson to Wolfe dated Mash 3 1971.  Thompson was not exactly chuffed at being shuffled inside Wolf’s New Journalism project:

 

March 3, 1971
Woody Creek, CO

Dear Tom…

You worthless scumsucking bastard. I just got your letter of Feb 25 from Le Grande Hotel in Roma, you swine! Here you are running around fucking Italy in that filthy white suit at a thousand bucks a day laying all kinds of stone gibberish & honky bullshit on those poor wops who can’t tell the difference . . . while I’m out here in the middle of these goddamn frozen mountains in a death-battle with the taxman & nursing cheap wine while my dogs go hungry & my cars explode and a legion of nazi layers makes my life a goddamn Wobbly nightmare…

You decadent pig. Where the fuck do you get the nerve to go around telling those wops that I’m crazy? You worthless cocksucker. My Italian tour is already arranged for next spring & I’m going to do the whole goddamn trip wearing a bright red field marshal’s uniform & accompanied by six speed-freak bodyguards bristling with Mace bombs & when I start talking about American writers & the name Tom Wolfe comes up, by god, you’re going to wish you were born a fucking iguana!!

OK for that, you thieving pile of albino warts. You better settle your goddamn affairs because your deal is about to go down. “Unprofessorial,” indeed! You scurvy wop! I’ll have your goddamn femurs ground into bone splinters if you ever mention my name again in connection with that horrible “new journalism” shuck you’re promoting.

Ah, this greed, this malignancy! Where will it end? What filthy weight in your soul has made you sink so low? Doctor Bloor was wright! Hyenas are taking over the world! Oh Jesus!!! What else can I say? Except to warn you, once again, that the hammer of justice looms, and that your filthy white suit will become a flaming shroud!

Sincerely,
Hunter

Adrian Chen is more succinct on twitter: “RIP to Tom Wolfe, who gave a generation of young writers wildly unrealistic expectations about how glamorous and lucrative a career in magazine journalism would be.”

Posted: 16th, May 2018 | In: Celebrities, News | Comment


Thomas Markle declared clinically sane

Thomas Markle will not be at this daughter Meghan Markle’s wedding to Harry Windsor. The groom’s family is hosting the do, which means Thomas Markle flying from his home in Mexico to London, meeting myriads of strangers, being shackled and shaped by their huge teams of minted PRs, obsequious lackeys and armed goons, and welcomed warmly into the bosom of what absurdly passes for a modern twist on monarchy. All tabloids lead with the news. But none of them know for certain. He might come. He might not.

In this age of fluid gender roles, it’s a gentleman’s prerogative to arrive at the wedding. We used to like the story of the groom being jilted at the alter, now we’re wondering if a 73-year-old bloke can be arsed to go though all that guff to see his daughter married for the second time.

 

Thomas Markle

Get Thomas!

 

The Mail, which “exposed” “fake” photos of Thomas being boring as he looked at screengrabs of his daughter and her Chinger prince, tried on a suit and rode a cheap exercise bike, now invites Richard Kay to says the “world” feels “nothing but sympathy” for a man possessed of a “quiet dignity”. But he is “humiliated” by his “reckless agreement” to broadcast and allegedly flog photos of himself to the Press rather than lettering the Mail broadcast and flog photos of him without his permission. It is “regrettable and sad” that this “basically honourable man” will be absent from Meg’s big day. The Sun calls it a “bombshell”.

The Express says Thomas doesn’t want to “embarrass the Royal Family”, something you’d think impossible to do, given that the clan of feckless ninnies ride around in gold coaches, suck toes, cheat on their spouses, hang out with paedos (allegedly), dress up as Nazis (both real and for larks) and gave us this:

 

 

The Star and Mirror, however, wonder if Thomas has suffered a heart attack. The Mirror also says Thomas “claims” he has “been harassed by snappers”. Or as the Sun notes: “He was pictured driving away from his home last Wednesday and staying the night at a motel in San Diego after crossing the US border. The next day… he lifted two heavy pots of flowering plants on Doria’s [Meghan’s mother] doorstep in Los Angeles with a card. He was then seen driving around LA, visiting the post office, pharmacy and bank before heading bak to Mexico that evening.”

Who’d envy that?

Posted: 15th, May 2018 | In: News, Royal Family, Tabloids | Comment


Thomas Markle should profit from Meghan’s wedding like the Royals do

The Daily Mirror picks up the story which first appeared in the Mail on Sunday – the one about Thomas Markle allegedly earning a few quid by posing for photos which can be sold to the Press. Thomas is, of course, Meghan Markle’s father, and when he’s not being door-stepped by Mirror reporters, he’s getting on with his own life. But his alleged staging of a set of photos with British photographers has upset the tabloids, who presumably wanted their men in the bushes to shoot pics of Thomas being a “virtual recluse” for less and syndicate them for more, packaging the album as “The Royals DO Deserve Privacy”, “Has Meghan Inherited Her Dad’s Fat Genes?” and “How Did Thomas Markle Afford A Five-Star Holiday To Thailand?”

 

thomas markle photos newspapers

 

The paper quotes the father-of-the-bride’s son, also called Thomas, who apparently said: “He’ll apologise sincerely to Meg.” Why? The Royal Family are often caught guffing out photos of their lives and their children, including ones taken by Kate. The no-expense spared PR drive that frames Harry, Kate and Wills as a trio of caring, down-with-the-proles workaholics is not just about us loving absurdly entitled, wildlife slaughtering billionaires when they’re between private islands and ski lifts, but the Royals being able to carry on after Her Majesty waves her last and we’re invited to defy gut feelings and nature by looking up at Prince Charles and Camilla. Princess Diana left such a stain on The Munsters that our view is being directed over the crowns of the two people that cheated and lied to the Windsors’ brood mare, falling instead on her children and Kate.

 

thomas markle photos newspapers

 

The Standard updates the story by leading with news that Markle’s half-sister is to “blame” for Thomas’s “fake pictures”. “The bad press over my father doing staged photos is my fault,” says Samantha Grant – who is not invited to the wedding. No. It isn’t. The bad press is over the scurry for post-wedding stories, when the Markles become old hat and we crave scandal and division over “love at first sight” tedium and a marriage”destined” ever since Meghan tried on a Disney Princess outfit when she was five and Charles fancied the Three Degrees. Although the Standard does deliver a two-page feature on the “unlikely love story” of an “ambitious girl from LA” and – get this – “the rebel prince”. Oh, do the other one. The only rebel Prince in recent memory was Edward VIII, formerly a Prince of Wales, who rather than merely pratting around dressed as a recreational Nazi, wore the authentic garb and politics of the Herrenvolk; and married a woman with two living ex-husbands who referred to staff as “lazy, thriving niggers”; and advised Britishers to survive the war on roasted terrapin. Harry’s less rebellious than a weather cock.

 

thomas markle photos newspapers

 

And, reportedly, Grant is here to help stir the pot. She’s rumoured to be penning a rift ‘n’ tell called The Diary of Princess Pushy’s Sister. “The media can be so cruel,” Grant is quoted by the Daily Star. But at £15 a pop with serialisation rights, a book packs a bigger whack.

 

thomas markle photos newspapers

 

Note: The Daily Mail vowed on 8 September 1997, eight days after the death of Princess Diana:

Mail leads the way in banning paparazzi pictures.

The proprietor of the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and Evening Standard announced last night that his papers will not in future purchase pictures taken by paparazzi Viscount Rothermere, chairman of the Daily Mail and General Trust plc said: ‘I am, and always have been, an admirer of Diana, Princess of Wales, and nagged my editors to protect her so far as they could against her powerful enemies. In view of Earl Spencer’s strong words and my own sense of outrage, I have instructed my editors no ‘paparazzi’ pictures are to be purchased without my knowledge and consent.’

Such are the facts.

Posted: 14th, May 2018 | In: Key Posts, News, Royal Family, Tabloids | Comment


Top Tories profit from the cannabis they say only criminals sell

Cannabis is a dull drug that induces apathy. Maybe something in the air confused Victoria Atkins, the drugs minister. Her husband, Paul Kenward, is managing director at British Sugar, operator of Britain’s biggest legal cannabis farm. But there’s no conflict of interest between he and she’s jobs. Perish the thought. The Home Office said she had “voluntarily recused herself from policy or decisions relating to cannabis”. It’s all ok because the drugs minister won’t talk about, er, drugs.

The drugs policy is a mess. If you grow cannabis illegally, you can be locked away for 14 years. Kenward’s business is fine because it grows the banned weed for a new epilepsy medicine soon to be approved in the US – it was licensed in 2016; Atkins became a minister in 2017. Sill it all stinks stronger than that nasty skunk crap.

The Sundays Times adds:

[Atkins] She does not declare Kenward’s role in the register of ministerial or MPs’ interests, though she mentioned it in a debate when she was a backbencher. Cabinet Office guidelines say interests held by the “close family members” of ministers should be declared where they “are, or might reasonably be perceived to be, directly relevant to a minister’s ministerial responsibilities”.

Whoops!

Steve Moore, of Volteface, a think-tank on drug policy, tells the paper: “The medical use of cannabis and its wider decriminalisation is rising up the political agenda. But we have the ridiculous situation of the drugs minister being unable to speak in parliament or make decisions on one of the most important parts of her job.”

Ridiculous. Hypocritical. Wrong. Stupid. And useless for people who suffer from conditions that cannabis can alleviate.

Atkins, a barrister and former criminal drugs prosecutor, has been a firm opponent of decriminalising or regulating cannabis, saying its brief downgrading to a class C drug during the Blair government had a “terrible” impact and that the “gun-toting criminals” who control the trade would not suddenly “become law-abiding citizens” if it was legalised.

In 2017, she opined:

“We are talking about gun-toting criminals, who think nothing of shooting each other and the people who carry their drugs for them. What on Earth does my Honorable Friend think their reaction will be to the idea of drugs being regulated? Does he really think that these awful people are suddenly going to become law-abiding citizens? I do not share the optimism of others about tackling the problem through regulation.”

Maybe they’ll all get jobs at her husband’s firm?

The paper adds:

In her first three months in her post, between November and early February, Atkins gave 17 Commons speeches or ministerial parliamentary answers about drugs, including several on cannabis-based drugs known as cannabinoids. In the three months since, she has not spoken about drugs in the Commons and has answered only six written questions on the subject.

And there’s more.

The majority of this “legal” cannabis is produced by one company: GW Pharmaceuticals.

GW made headlines in 2010 after releasing Sativex: a controversial, cannabinoid-based, medication, legal to purchase in the UK.

Sativex is “an oromucosal spray of a formulated extract of the cannabis sativa plant that contains the principal cannabinoids delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) in a 1:1 ratio.”

GW is legally growing cannabis containing THC despite the British Government viewing cannabis as having “no medicinal properties,” refusing to remove it from Schedule I, the strictest level of drug schedule.

And:

GW was granted a licence from the Home Office in 1998 to grow cannabis plants for medical use and in 2010 the UK became the first country in the world to authorise a prescription medicine derived from cannabis.

This site adds:

[Theresa] May’s husband, Philip May works for Capital group, which has a 19% holding in GW through its subsidiary, Capital Research Management Company.

Bit hypocritial?

It’s no what you know, it;’s who you blow…

Posted: 13th, May 2018 | In: News | Comment


Stephen Hawking’s time travel proof – none turned up to his funeral

Time travellers are invited to come to Stephen Hawking’s memorial service in June. We expect – as he himself would have expected – none of them to turn up. There being rather an in-joke going on here.

Hawking’s work was rather famously about black holes, wormholes an other bits and pieces of weird physics mixed with astronomy. And it’s those weird bits which some think hold the secret to time travel if that is indeed possible at all. We’re really pretty certain that there isn’t – and isn’t going to be – some little box that allows us to go forward to next Tuesday nor to go back. All those sci-fi stories about being able to get the racing results and make a fortune aren’t going to come true.

But Hawking’s work was all about this sort of thing. And some of his theoretical results said that it might be possible using these weird bits of astrophysics. Or not, as the case may be. So, thus the joke about the memorial service:

A thousand people have been invited to attend a June memorial service for theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, whose ashes will forever be interred next to Sir Isaac Newton’s in the halls of the 11th century Westminster Abbey church.

And travelers from the future, it seems, are permitted to attend.

The joke here being that Hawking had already tested the idea a few years back:

I have experimental evidence that time travel is not possible. I gave a party for time-travellers, but I didn’t send out the invitations until after the party. I sat there a long time, but no one came.

No, really, he did.

And that’s a rather good proof of time travel too. Imagine that it does exist. So, where the hell are they all? That there aren’t any is rather evidence that it’s not possible, isn’t it?

Posted: 13th, May 2018 | In: News, Technology | Comment


‘Casual anti-semitism’ on the BBC Radio 4’s News Quiz

Ever listen to The News Quiz on BBC Radio 4? It’s the soundtrack to a Boden catalogue: knowing, safe and predictable; sold as edgy to ambulatory roadkill who book family yurts at Glastonbury and can conjugate Prosecco. It’s the tinkle of dinner party laughter that says, ‘Wouldn’t this be funny if it was funny.’ Today’s audio vanilla was a cracker, kicking off with guff about Trump, Israel, Iran and those pesky Jews. Once upon a time someone at the Beeb decided that Israel and ‘The Jews’ should always sit at the top of the news cycle. So here it was again. Tune in as someone called Jeremy Hardy ‘satirises’ all the safe targets before talking about Jews, you know those problematic “tailors” and “showbiz” types who give conspiracy theorists – enjoy the bit about the “miraculous” missiles – and the right-on, uniquely sensitive and knowing Left direction and cause.

 

 

 

Running through the hideous bilge lies the essential truth that mocking Israel and Jews is a sign of Jewish strength. There are no jokes on the religionists running Iran because they’re thugs who might smack you in the mouth. On the News Quiz, they only lampoon what they don’t fear.

Posted: 12th, May 2018 | In: News, TV & Radio | Comment


Artist accuses Netflix of Stranger Things stormcloud theft

stranger things cloud theft

Heavey’s Stranger Things cloud

 

Sean R. Heavey thought the Hellish cloud hanging over the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, looked familiar. The town, the setting for Netflix’s hit TV show Stranger Things, was in the shadow of what Heavey thinks looked like his artwork. And then things escalated when Heavey was alerted to a scene on spin-off show Beyond Stranger Things (episode 3) on Netflix. He says his concept art that was used by the Stranger Things production team.

 

stranger things cloud theft

A Netflix original?

 

He wrote to Netflix, who told him it was ought luck. He says:

“They are saying the only similarity that exists is the use of a similar cloud formation, that copyright law does not protect objects as they appear in nature, and that an artist can’t claim a monopoly over real-world public domain objects such as a cloud formation. The problem with that argument is that it’s not a similar cloud they use — it’s my cloud photo.”

Real world? We’re talking about conceptual art and a fictional TV show.

Heavey has called in the lawyers. But isn’t Netflix right: viewing and adapting different sources for inspiration and an original story is fair use? Is Heavey sues and wins, won’t the makers of ET, Poltergeist, The Goonies and any number of sci-fi books and comics form a line to the copyright courts, suing the derivative show for borrowing and using ideas?

Spotter: Boing Boing

Posted: 11th, May 2018 | In: News, TV & Radio | Comment


Freedom wins as MPs reject Leveson 2

Only two newspaper, The Times and The Sun (prop R. Murdoch), lead with the great news that Ministers have fought off an attempt to trigger a second stage of the Leveson inquiry into Press standards. Why more don’t is a mystery. But, then, a Commons vote on the Data Protection Bill was low on the news cycle. The Government won by just nine votes – 304 votes to 295. It was that close. Five Tories voted with Labour.

We should celebrate this victory for freedom, cheer a vote that thumbs its nose at the sneering drive to diminish the Press, to destroy all that frenetic, thrusting, contrarian, offensive, truth-seeking and enlivening news and opinion, and beat it dull with a legal cosh.

Culture Secretary Matt Hancock said it was a “great day” for a free press. Hacked Off, who want State-backed regulators to oversee what can and cannot be said, warned “the fight goes on in Parliament and the courts”. But yesterday the censors lost. And the public don’t back them. When asked if we supported Section 40 and Leveson 2, 79 per cent of us from a whopping 174,730 responses said ‘No’ and ‘No’.

Former Labour leader Ed Miliband is upset that his bid to shackle free expression, reduce choice, stick it to the gutter press and the slum people who read it, and boot the ‘Press barons’ was defeated. Had it passed publishers not signing up to the state-approved regulator would need to pay their own and their opponents’ legal costs in relation to alleged data breaches and more – win or lose. It would have been another blow to our beleaguered free Press. Had Miliband, Tom Watson, the deputy Labour leader, and their side won the day, it would be heretical and financially ruinous to print something the Government disapproves of. If you can’t be trusted to censor yourself, the Government would enforce your compliance and prevent you from corrupting the slack-jawed masses with your words. Vote ‘yes’ to Ed’s policy and we all move a step closer to speaking with the assuredness of a man who has read one book and agreed with everything in it.

 

ed miliband leverson

“Do as I think”

 

Most newspapers have signed up to Ipso, the Independent Press Standards Organisation, which has no intention of applying for recognition under the royal charter. good, Some control is required. But the State should be kept well out of it.

We should let people decide what they want to read. Don’t smear readers as stupid and incapable of reason. Progress comes through dialogue and challenge. Censorship is for prudes, control freaks, bores, totalitarian regimes, and people who mistook The Young Ones for a documentary and knew Rick was always right. Yesterday’s vote was a victory for trust in humanity. It was that big.

Posted: 10th, May 2018 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Former Arsenal player invited to join pale and shadowy World Economic Forum

World_Economic_Forum

 

Former Arsenal midfielder Mathieu Flamini, 34, has been invited to join the World Economic Forum’s community of Young Global Leaders (YGL). We know what that is – and what it aims to be – from the group’s website.

The YGL was “established in 1971 as a not-for-profit foundation and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.” No profits and it’s based in Switzerland, with a big annual meeting in Davos? What are the wages and perks like? Why do they host their shindig away from other humans and flowers – are they scared they petals will wilt and fall as the selfless do-gooders walk by?

The Transnational Institute describes the World Economic Forum’s main purpose as being “to function as a socializing institution for the emerging global elite, globalization’s ‘Mafiocracy’ of bankers, industrialists, oligarchs, technocrats and politicians. They promote common ideas, and serve common interests: their own.” Bono calls them “fat cats in the snow”.  It is the “most exclusive private social network in the world”.

A look at the Board of Trustees reveals not a single black face – which seems a peculiar oversight for an outfit keen to improve the entire world and the lot of its peoples. There is also not a black face on Managing Board. There is one on the Executive Committee. So that’s one black face in 82 leading positions in an institution that will “bring attention to challenges that affect the future of global society”.

One hundred of the world’s most promising artists, business leaders, public servants, technologists and social entrepreneurs have been asked to join the World Economic Forum’s community of Young Global Leaders. They are joining a community and five-year programme that will challenge them to think beyond their scope of expertise and be more impactful leaders. They were nominated because of their ground-breaking work, creative approaches to problems and ability to build bridges across cultures and between business, government, and civil society.

They want Flamini. But why would Famini want them? He works with GF Biochemicals, which works to develop technology to produce sustainable alternatives to oil-based products. His company produces levulinic acid, which could be an alternative to petrol. But not air fuel for private jets – not yet.

Posted: 10th, May 2018 | In: Arsenal, Money, News, Sports | Comment


The scandal of Motorway coffee costing more

motorway service station coffee

 

The Daily Mail has noticed that a coffee at a motorway services station costs more from McDonalds, Costa or KFC than it does from the same outlets not at a motorway services station. The explanation for this is really very simple – rent – and it’s the one explanation that we’re not given. Which is a pity because it is a very simple explanation.

Breaking up your journey with a coffee stop at a motorway service station? You may find it breaks the bank too.

An investigation has found that roadside stores charge up to 28 per cent more for a medium latte – costing motorists an extra 74p compared with the high street.

How desperately awful, eh?

Breaking up your journey with a coffee stop at a motorway service station? You may find it breaks the bank too.

An investigation has found that roadside stores charge up to 28 per cent more for a medium latte – costing motorists an extra 74p compared with the high street.

We’re given varied reasons for this, including the station operators claiming that it’s more expensive to operate such stations than general run of the mill services so therefore prices are higher. But it’s why costs are higher than matters and that’s rent.

The basic underlying story here goes all the way back to the very dawn of economics when David Ricardo published his book on rent, in 1817. If you can produce more crop from a piece of land then the rent on it will be higher than land that produces less. We can say the same thing by insisting that the cost of the land will be higher where there’s more money to be made. A third way of saying just that same thing is that the landlord always gets a chunk of whatever can be produced from a piece of land.

This is actually why Starbucks was making no profit – thus paying no tax – a few years back. They had lots of leases on lots of buildings that would be good to sell coffee out of. Because the landlords get a piece of that action places good to sell coffee out of have higher rents. Starbucks wasn’t making a profit selling lots of coffee but the landlords were doing just fine.

But that’s where there are lots of shops around. Starbucks couldn’t raise the price of coffee in those expensive places because if they did then we’d go to the one around the corner. Where prices were lower because they were paying less rent. That landlord’s share was thus coming out of Starbucks profits, not ours, the customers.

Now replay the same game but where there isn’t another shop just around the corner. We all know that lots of money can be made running a services station. Once people have decided to go there they’re a rather captive market though. So rents are high. But instead of those high rents coming out of the profits of the operators, they come out of our pockets in the form of higher prices. Because once we’re there we cannot go to another coffee shop.

There is no solution to this either. Just because there are only so many service stations, and once we stop at one we’re going to be doing our buying there, there’s lots of money to be had from running a service station. That means high rents – and that will, because of the lack of competition, lead to higher prices.

It really is all there in Ricardo’s book from 1817. It’s about time everyone understood it too, isn’t it? Two centuries being long enough?

Image: The Drive of Our Lives – The Heyday of the Motorway Service Station

 

Posted: 8th, May 2018 | In: Key Posts, Money, News, The Consumer | Comment


Prince Harry can’t recall meeting Meghan’s dad Thomas in Toronto?

Time to catch up with Thomas Markle, Meghan Markle’s dad. The Mail says the “virtual recluse” has still to meet Prince Harry. In the build up to the wedding, the Queen will be hosting a do at which Thomas will meet Her Maj and the rest of The Munsters. “Remarkably,” says the Mail, “it will be the first time that Prince Harry will meet his fiancee’s father.”

Aside from Thomas Markle being anything but a recluse, the Mail might care to note on January 4th 2017 we read that Thomas and Harry met in Toronto a while back. And where did we read that news? In the Mail:

 

thomas markle daily mail

 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 7th, May 2018 | In: News, Royal Family, Tabloids | Comment


Racism is only unacceptable if McDonnell and Corbyn notice it in Pendle

The story of the Tory and the racist joke features Pendle Council, Lancashire, and Rosemary Carroll’s return to the Conservative party’s ranks. In July 2017, Carroll was suspended from the Conservative Party for sharing a joke on Facebook. The Lancashire Evening Post added a dash of tautology and called the joke “racist and derogatory”. Council leader Mohammed Iqbal made an official complaint and called for Carroll councillor to be expelled from the Council and the Conservative Party.

Pendle Tory leader Coun. Cooney acknowlegded the “racist post which had been shared on Facebook by one of our councillors” and stated: “We will not tolerate racism of any form.”

By now you want to know two things: what was the joke and what happened next? Well, the Daily Mirror reproduces the joke. Most other newspapers and the BBC do not. Indeed the BBC says: “Tories urged to act in ‘racist joke’ row at Pendle Council,” the broadcaster unsure what is racist. Without the joke, the story is lacking. Here it is:

“I took my dog to the dole office to see what he was entitled to. The bloke behind the counter said ‘you idiot, we don’t give benefits to dogs’. “I argued ‘why not? He’s brown, he stinks, he’s never worked a f***ing day in his life & he can’t speak a f***ing word of English’. “The man replied: ‘His first payment will be Monday’.”

Nasty stuff.

Carroll spoked to LADbible. Her apology contained a blend of sympathetic back story and the caveat now routine in all apologies, the one that places the onus on the recipient and their reaction, ‘if I have caused offence’. She said:

“It was a mistake, obviously, somebody posted it to me and I thought I was deleting it. I don’t use Facebook much. Everything has gone over the top now. It was a genuine mistake. I can only apologise, because I am not racist by any means. All I can say is, if I’ve caused offence, I am truly sorry. I don’t do stuff like this and have closed that Facebook thing.”

In May, Carroll rejoined the Tories.

Tory leader Paul White says Ms Carroll had “learned form her mistake”. Mohammmed Iqbal says:  “They should have done the decent thing and distanced themselves from her. I’m appalled. The suspension was a gimmick.”

Carroll’s return was timely. In the council elections, the Tories won control of Pendle council by a single seat. The Conservatives control Pendle with 25 seats, ahead of Labour’s 15 and the Liberal Democrats’ nine.

And then the story got bigger. Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said it was “unacceptable” for Carroll to return. “To have the Conservative Party take control of that council by reinstating a councillor who used the foulest, foulest joke, a racist joke is unacceptable,” he said.

If Carroll’s return is wrong is – and argue amongst yourselves if it is – is it also wrong for Naz Shah, Jeremy Corbyn and others accused of racism to be in the Labour Party?

Shah was John McDonnell’s PPS. Shah is the Bradford West MP – and what if her job gave the Labour Party an overall Commons majority? – who shared on Facebook the idea of “transporting” citizens of the world’s only Jewish state (that’s Israel, not New York) to the middle of the USA. Having called for a country to be obliterated and “foreigner” Jews forcibly relocated away from what many see as their ancient home, she added the comment “problem solved”.

The JC added: “Shah also posted a tweet with a link to a blog which claimed Zionism had been used to ‘groom’ Jews to ‘exert political influence at the highest levels of public office’.”  The BBC adds: “A number of other posts emerged, with her comparing Israel to the Nazis and saying ‘the Jews are rallying’.”

Nasty. Labour suspended Shah. But she apologised, kept her job and her salary. After a brief suspension (a little over 3 months), Shah was back.

Former Labour major of London Ken Livingstone is still suspended by Labour. He said Shah’s comments were “rude and over-the-top” but not anti-Semitic – even though Shah accepted it was and apologised. And then he doubled down, opining: “When Hitler won his election in 1932 his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews.”

John Rentoul noted:

Livingstone’s refusal to accept that he had ever come across anti-Semitism in his 47 years in the Labour Party. And hence his refusal when pressed on the BBC’s Daily Politics today to accept that Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, whom he invited to London and who wrote that “every Jew in the world” should be fought by “every Muslim”, was anti-Semitic because he had never said anything anti-Semitic to him.

Back to Jeremy Corbyn, then, of whom Nick Cohen writes:

Corbyn invited Hamas and Hizbollah to Parliament and called them his ‘friends’. Bear in mind that Hamas’s Charter is explicitly genocidal – it makes it clear its supporters want to kill Jews and repeats Nazi conspiracy theories. Their founding Charter also rules out any peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestine problem. It says:

Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement… There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through jihad.

See a pattern?

Ben McIntrye has a good article in the Times on why Livingstone is no historian:

The suggestion that Hitler backed the idea of a Jewish homeland underpins an association between Nazism and Zionism that is fundamentally antisemitic. It is also wrong. “You can’t expel someone for stating historical fact,” Livingstone insists. But his claim is not a fact: it is a distortion of history, a defence of the indefensible that has undoubtedly emboldened antisemites within his party, leading to the current meltdown…

The Haavara Agreement was really just one more way of ethnically cleansing the Jews from Germany and taking their wealth. The idea that it represented any kind of support for a Jewish homeland, a central tenet of Zionism, is ludicrous and a deliberate perversion of its real import…

The idea that the Holocaust was due to the onset of “madness” on Hitler’s part is also wrong, reducing a programme of collective evil to an act of insanity on the part of one man. Hitler’s genocide was not the unexpected policy of a lone madman but premeditated, rational by Nazi logic, and purely wicked.

The oldest trick in the book of cornered politicians is to claim to have been accused of something they have not been accused of, and deny it. “I did not say Hitler was a Zionist,” the former London mayor said. “And that was why I was suspended.” Again, not true: he was punished because he claimed Nazi “support” for Zionism, a more subtle insinuation and a misreading of historical fact.

After Livingstone’s comments, things escalated. The Times again:

John Mann, who chairs the all-party parliamentary group against antisemitism, branded Mr Livingstone a “Nazi apologist” in a confrontation outside a TV studio that was captured live on camera. Mr Mann is reported to have called him a “f***ing disgrace”.

When the party released a statement early in the afternoon to announce Mr Livingstone’s suspension, a spokesman added that Mr Mann had been summoned to see the chief whip about his conduct.

Michael Dugher, Labour MP for Barnsley East and a former frontbencher, said that announcing the actions at the same time represented “drawing some kind of moral equivalence between John Mann and Ken Livingstone”.

“Yet again they’ve prevaricated because it was another of their close allies up to their necks in antisemitism again,” Mr Dugher said.

Is any of that “unacceptable” to John McDonnell?

In January, we got more:

On Saturday, International Holocaust Memorial Day, Mr Livingstone, 72, a former mayor of London, appeared in a programme called Has the Holocaust been exploited to oppress others? on the Iranian state-owned channel Press TV.

He said that Hitler had worked with the Zionist movement to move Jewish people to Israel: “He worked with the Zionist movement to move . . . to get 60,000 to go, but it was about half a million — and then he changed his policy and went for genocide.”

The presenter, Roshan Muhammed Salih, told viewers that Mr Livingstone, who has been suspended from Labour since April 2016, had been “targeted by the Zionist lobby here in the UK”.

You know who else used to appear on Press TV? Yeah: Jeremy Corbyn who used to present a show on the channel – although since Labour was exposed as haven for anti-Semites, traces of Corbyn’s journalism seem to have vanished from YouTube.

 

Corbyn mural east london

Corbyn and ‘Yvonne Ridley’ – someone of that name also used to present a show on Press TV  – both voice their support for an anti-Semitic mural in East London.

 

If Rosemary Carroll’s return to the Tories is “unacceptable” to Labour – she underwent diversity training and apologised;  Shah went on a “journey” of self-discovery and apologised fully; Corbyn says of supporting a huge painting of Jewish bankers sat on the backs of naked workers, something the Guardian says “resembled a homage to the Nazi newspaper Der Stürmer”, “I sincerely regret that I did not look more closely at the image I was commenting on.”

Labour only notices racism when it’s not about them and everyone else is pointing at it.

Posted: 7th, May 2018 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment


Transfer balls: Mahrez to Arsenal is clickbait

The BBC says Leicester forward Riyad Mahrez is “keen to join Arsenal”. The 27-year-old Algerian is on his way to the Emirates, says the Sunday Express in what it hails as a “transfer exclusive”.

 

mahrez leicester arsenal transfer

Daily Express – EXCLUSIVE

 

The story contains not a single new fact. But we do learn that “Express Sport understands” Mahrez “favours a move to Arsenal”. Apparently, Mahrez “has a house in the capital and would prefer a switch there over a move to Manchester”. So not withstanding Mahrez’s shock realisation that people live in houses in Manchester and, unlike in London, anyone on a mere £100,000-a-week can afford one, Arsenal it is, then.

Maybe. Because the Express also ‘understands’, “Tottenham and Chelsea remain alternative options”, to say nothing of West Ham, Crystal Palace and Watford, which the Express doesn’t.

Of course, this guesswork is based on previous reports linking Mahrez to Arsenal. You might have read them in the Express:

 

mahrez leicester arsenal transfer

Another Express scoop

 

Not that the Express is the only newspaper to have told us that Mahrez to Arsenal was a done deal:

 

mahrez leicester arsenal transfer

The Daily Mirror poses the story as question – but Google doesn’t recognise question marks – so the story is presented as fact to any readers searching for Mahrez, Leicester City and Arsenal news.

 

mahrez leicester arsenal transfer

Teamtalks opts for invested commas

 

mahrez leicester arsenal transfer

The Telegraph also opts for inverted commas

 

mahrez leicester arsenal transfer

The Metro

 

Mahrez to Arsenal it is, then…

Posted: 6th, May 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Manchester United Alex Ferguson ‘fights for life’ and privacy

The red-top tabloids agree on one thing: former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is “fighting for his life”:

 

alex ferguson brain surgery

 

The Sun on Sunday, Mirror and Star all  lead on Sir Alex Ferguson’s emergency operation for a brain haemorrhage. The former Manchester United boss is in intensive care at Salford Royal Hospital.

The news is peppered with good will wishes from many, including Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo. It’s unlikely Fergie is reading them. But such public displays of support serve to pad out the single-thread news and cast a light on the tweeters and Instagramers.

Ferguson’s family have asked for privacy – which is presumably why the news media is camped outside the hospital. Sky News’ man in the car park told us this morning that Fergie is “in the best place”.  You think?

Amidst much guff, credit, then to Everton manager Sam Allardyce who rather than shining a light on himself, offered instead: “I hope he’s in good hands and I hope the operation is a major success.”

Well said. And well said too, Man United’s Ashley Young: “Gutted to hear the news tonight about Sir Alex. Don’t really know what else to say other than thoughts and prayers with you and your family, boss.”

A bit less well said was is what former United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar noted: “Devastated about the news about Sir Alex and knowing all too well about the situation ourselves. Stay strong and hope together with everyone you recover.”

He is alive, Edwin.

 

alex ferguson brain surgery alex ferguson brain surgery

Posted: 6th, May 2018 | In: manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


Crystal Palace player apologies for scoring against Stoke

Patrick an Aanholt says he’s sorry for scoring a goal for Crystal Palace in the South Londoners 2-1 win over Stoke City. Van Aanholt has never played for Stoke. So it’s not yet another example of that sad, pathetic and po-faced non-celebration celebration enacted by players who score against a former club. Van Aanholt is sorry because his goal means Stoke City are relegated from the Premier League.

 

stoke city aarnholt tweet

 

Van Aanholt scored when he took full advantage of Ryan Shawcross’s calamitous under-hit backpass. A more cogent argument for Stoke’s demise than the vibrant opposition trying to score, and succeeding twice, would be to point the finger at Shawcross and then point lots more fingers at the rest of the Stoke side who failed to protect a 1-0 lead in a vital match.

Stoke fans can shake a fist at a club that forgot how to beat a team – winning once since January – that in Xherdan Shaqiri, have a single capable of posing a threat, and are overseen by board that took too long to sack the wildly overrated Mark Hughes.

Paul Lambert, Stoke’s manager, says relegation is a “change to rebuild”. Although he’s yet to tweet a word of thanks to Van Aanholt.

Posted: 5th, May 2018 | In: News, Sports | Comment


UKIP vows to return the county to the Middle Ages

 

UKIP is going to kill you. Kill your first born. Kill everyone you love. Following a hammering at the polls, UKIP’s General Secretary went on the BBC’s Today programme, telling Nick Robinson about the party’s plans for a dramatic return to the fore:

“Think of the Black Death in the Middle Ages. It comes along, it causes disruption then it goes dormant. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”

Sod all that guff about UKIP turning the clock back to the 1950s or even the 1930s – it’s the 1340s.

Image: Rats dancing at the time of the plague. Oil on canvas by an unknown Flemish artist, 17th century.

Posted: 5th, May 2018 | In: News, Politicians | Comment


Transfer balls: Arsenal’s £200m budget for £25m-a-year-Enrique

How much money will the next Arsenal manager be given to splurge on players? The coach who replaces Arsene Wenger should read the small print on any contract because the newspapers and the trusty BBC are very confused.

The BBC says “Arsene Wenger’s successor at Arsenal will be given a £200m transfer budget”. That’s a huge amount of money. Wenger could have bought 5 Granit Xhakas for that.

 

wenger arsenal transfer budget

 

The source for the BBC’s story is the no less trusty Daily Star. It reports the headline figure as an “exclusive” but offers not a single shred of proof to support the story – not even an unnamed “insider” is coughed up to say it’s all true.

 

budget arsenal

 

It’s wrong, of course. We know the £200m figure is wrong because on April 23 the Daily Telegraph said the next Arsenal manger will have a transfer kitty of…£50m.

 

arsenal players budget

 

 

That lower figure sounds more in keeping with Arsenal’s history than the £200m. So how did it come about? Well, a few days ago, the Sun said former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique wants £200m spending money to take over at Arsenal. But Arsenal don’t have that sum so it’s no deal.

Did the Star just see the figure and echo it?

As for the uninspiring Enrique arriving at Arsenal, the Sun of May 2 noted: “ARSENAL target Luis Enrique’s staggering £25million wage demands could rule him out of the running to replace Arsene Wenger.”

Only ‘could’? On April 29, the Times told its readers:

Arsenal have stepped away from making Luis Enrique the managerial successor to Arsene Wenger… The Sunday Times understands that senior executives consider Enrique an inappropriate fit to the position.

In short: no-one outside the club knows who Arsenal will appoint, let alone what the transfer budget will be.

 

Posted: 5th, May 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Only bigots and fools think Jews lost Barnet for Labour

According to the Indy, the Conservatives won control of Barnet Council in north London because “Labour was punished by voters for the antisemitism controversy”. Er, no.

Also wrong is Owen Jones, who writing beneath the hopeful headline “The biggest election threat facing Labour is complacency”, tells Guardian readers:

“Westminster, Barnet and Kensington and Chelsea are all Tory citadels in the capital that have never surrendered to the wooing of Labour.”

Jones’s long and monocular story tells of Tory “chaos” over Windrush and makes a single mention of all that anti-Jew hatred in the heart of Labour’s ranks:

Barnet, in north London, is home to Britain’s biggest Jewish population, many of whom feel angry about, and fearful of, the left’s antisemitic fringe.

Fringe? Is Jeremy Corbyn now on the fringe of the party he leads?

Jones might also like to read this letter in the Guardian:

Labour took control of the council in 1994 with the support of the Lib Dems, remaining in power until the election of 2002. From 1997 until 2010, it returned two Labour MPs: Rudi Vis (Finchley and Golders Green) and Andrew Dismore (Hendon). Not so “otherworldy” then.

Having reduced Jews from individuals with their own likes, dislikes, needs, contradictions and prejudices to a group who vote en masse – what racism? – the Indy adds:

Labour was widely expected to win the borough for the first time since the local authority was created in 1964. London Mayor Sadiq Khan had predicted the party would “probably” claim victory but admitted fears about left-wing antisemitism could damage their campaign.

Depressing stuff, no, not least of all because the narrative goes that only Jews give a toss about anti-semitism at voting time. Is Barnet the only borough where race hate is punished by voters? Can it be that everywhere Labour won is a haven for anti-Semites?

Barnet’s Labour group leader Barry Rawlings tells us:

“…to be honest most of the conversations have been about potholes rather than antisemitism. That said, we want people to know it is an issue we take very seriously in the Labour Party.”

No. You don’t. Anti-semitism is not something Labour takes seriously. Of course, if the Guardian and Indy are correct, only lots more Jews in lots more wards would force Labour to censure Jew baiting and Jew hatred in its ranks. But thinking that way is to fall into the trap of Jews losing Barnet for Labour.

Council leader Richard Cornelius, a Conservative councillor, also said voters were generally more concerned about “local issues” rather than accusations of antisemitism within Labour.

“It’s things like potholes, the collection of their rubbish bins and keeping the council tax low,” he said.

Most people didn’t bother to vote at all. Voter turnout in Barnet 43.7% – an increase from 41.1% four years ago. Sod the Jews – it’s apathy that prevented a bigger Tory win.

 

2011 – census

 

And how many Jews are there in Barnet? The census tells us:

Garden Suburb in Barnet was the most populous Jewish ward in 2001, even though it has grown since, it has been overtaken by Golders Green, which has increased by a third in a decade.

JPR [ Jewish Policy Research] now puts the number of Jews in Golders Green at 7,661 – which is considerably higher than the 6,795 people in the ward who identified themselves as Jews by answering the religion question in the census.

Not all that many, then. Although many don’t want their thoughts and aspirations to be calculated and sieved through race:

JPR has adjusted the total by adding the estimated number of Jews from among people in the ward who did not answer the religion question. In fact, JPR demographer David Graham has found that in wards with large Jewish populations, the number of residents overall who omitted the religion question was 9.3 per cent — more than the 7.2 per cent who left it blank across the country as a whole.

 

Total Barnet population*, 2001–2016

Total Barnet population, 2001–2016 – Via

 

What about non-Jews?

According to the 2011 census, by religion, Christianity is the largest faith in Barnet accounting for 41.2% of the total population. The next most common religions are Judaism (15.2%) and Islam (10.3%).

Drop those flaming torches and stand down the hunt, Corbynists. It wasn’t the Jews wot wunnit for the Tories in Barnet. It’s doubtless comforting for Corbyn and his supporters with their adherence to the reductive and patronising power of identity politics to view Jewish voters as a ‘community’ best managed through lunch with a ‘community leader’, but people are individuals. Labour lost and the Tories won for as many reasons as there are voters.

 

Posted: 4th, May 2018 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment


Transfers: Arsenal, Soyuncu and the truth about Turkish football

Arsenal have seen off a bid from Bayern Munich to sign 21-year-old Turkish defender Caglar Soyuncu, says the BBC. Not that it requires much thought for a hungry defender to pick the Gunners – any defender with even a modicum of pace, power, poise and positional awareness will walk into the current Arsenal team.

But the Beeb is wrong. Soyuncu hasn’t signed. He remains on the books of Bundesliga club Freiburg. News of his arrival at Arsenal is fanned by Altinordu president Seyit Mehmet Ozkan.

Who?

Well, Soyuncu used to play at Turkish club Altinordu. “Caglar Soyuncu is set to join Arsenal,” Ozkan is reported to have told the “International Football Economic Forum”.

The what?

“Arsenal demanded his youth information from us,” says Ozkan. “We’ll earn from him, if he joins Arsenal. Bayern Munich wants him too, but he’s on the way to the Premier League.”

 

 

 Turkish defender Caglar Soyuncu

 

Back to the International Football Economic Forum, something introduced to readers by the Standard, which is the source for the Beeb’s ‘fake’ news on Soyuncu signing for Arsenal. Not much information on this body appears on the web.

But a bit of digging reveals that it was held at the Grand Tarabya Hotel, Istanbul. Sabah newspaper, which hosted the event, lists the international names on the rostrum:

Youth Sports Minister Osman Aşkın Bak, TFF President Yıldırım Demirören , TFF 1st Vice President and Member of UEFA Board of Directors Servet Yardımcı, G.Saray President Mustafa Cengiz , Beşiktaş President Fikret Forest , Başakşehir President Göksel Gümüşdağ,  Altınordu President Mehmet Ozkan, former director of Manchester United and Chelsea Peter Kenyon, star players Gomis, Adebayor, Babel, Rodallega, SABAH Sports Manager Murat Özbostan, Fotomaç Newspaper Editor-in-Chief Zeki Uzundurukan, İnteltek AŞ. General Manager Ahmet Sezer, Passolig General Manager Ceyhun Kazancı, Aktif Bank General Manager Assist. Ahmet Erdal Güncan, Director of Türk Telekom Services Özlem Kalkan Karabulut, G. Saray Commercial Operations Director Kerem Ertan, F. General Manager of Communication Services Hakan Demir, writer Levent Tuzemen, Bülent Timurlenk and Spanish journalist J. Castro Nogale.

The only non-Turks on the panels appear to be: 4 “star players”, Peter Kenyon and a Spanish journalist.

It’s aims:

The International Football Economy Forum… aims to increase knowledge and awareness by creating rational, visionary, creative, sustainable and qualified targets and to increase the brand value of Turkish football by creating public opinion…

Fikret Orman tells the lads:

“Taking a glance at the star players’ perceptions about Turkey; It seems to be a stop before going to the Middle East. If we increase the brand value of the Super League, we can transfer the appropriate players to more economic conditions…

“If we increase the traceability, as in the case of Cenk Tosun [now at Everton], soccer player sales will come at a high price, all of them related with traceability and if we can increase this, the revenue rights of broadcasting rights will increase too. The majority of the sponsors in the league are doing it to become a world brand ..

In light of this marketing drive, are Arsenal really looking to sign Soyuncu for a fee as high as £40m? Ozkan’s words to the Forum are sieved through the wonders of Google Translate:

Speaking at the International Football Economy Forum… Özkan stated that they will continue to trust and provide young players with “We have won Çağlar Söyüncü and Cengiz Ünder for Turkish and European football. I will go to Germany for Sunday and to follow Chelsea to England on Sunday, and I’m going to sell football to both of them.”

And on Arsenal:

Of Turkey in the world take place in the football market, emphasizing that it is linked to the universal Seyit Mehmet Ozkan, “beginning of last season we sold Freiburg Ages Söyünc is to be transferred to Arsenal.”

Well, maybe… Only to the trusty BBC is Soynucu to Arsenal a done deal. And look out for the BBC’s scoop that Roma’s Cengiz Ünder has joined Chelsea. He hasn’t.

Posted: 4th, May 2018 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, Key Posts, News, Sports | Comment


Students at Queen’s College, Oxford, are afraid of ‘contentious’ ideas

Brendan O’Neill is speaking at Queen’s College, Oxford next week, and the college’s student organisation has sent out this bizarre warning. If you can’t have “contentious” discussion at a university, where can you have it?

All members of the  college can attend the Addison Society – if you’re brave enough to experience the power of words:

 

addison society dinner

 

The College prospectus tells us:

The JCR also has an Equalities Committee with officers to represent disabled students, international students, women, LGBT and BME students: these officers are available to provide support and advice for any students who feel they need it.

Why doesn’t the Equalities Committee simply represent everyone?

As well as providing confidential help, the welfare team for the JCR organise lots of events throughout term to keep everyone entertained and to give people a break from work – events in the past have included weekly yoga, zumba, a petting zoo, cake decorating, welfare brunches and self-defence classes!

Message to Brendan: don’t forget to take along some icing sugar, your best downward dog and Trigger the bunny-wunny. Or maybe not – we’re getting mixed messages:

Some colleges have pet cats and tortoises – here at Queen’s, we much prefer our friendly Boar’s head mounted on the wall of the JCR.

Discuss.

Spotter: Spiked

Posted: 4th, May 2018 | In: News | Comment


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