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Hey Remainers: The EU wants to kill the Internet with Article 13

The European Union is coming for the Internet. On June 20, the EU’s legislative committee will decide if Article 13 and Article 11 should form part of the EU’s Copyright directive. Article 11 says you can only link to a story if you’ve paid the site your liking to. Paying for a link is nonsense. What company or political party will permit a link from a critic?

Article 13 says things will be marked as a copyright violation if the bots say it is. Claim the work as yours first and it will be. Make the clim of copyright theft and the bots will back you up long before any human can make the correction. The bots are never wrong.

This proposed legislation is dire. A right to property is sound. A right to information is vital to any functioning democracy. The EU needs to think again.

In an open letter to the President of the European Parliament, lots of big thinkers on tech say Article 13 of the proposed EU Copyright Directive “takes an unprecedented step towards the transformation of the Internet from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users.”

 

article 13

Ouch

 

Wired says: “It’s a direct threat to the established legal notion that individual users, rather than platforms, are responsible for the content they put online.”

Boing Boing says it will empower the big platforms and kill competition and inovation:

These proposals will make starting new internet companies effectively impossible — Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, and the other US giants will be able to negotiate favourable rates and build out the infrastructure to comply with these proposals, but no one else will. The EU’s regional tech success stories — say Seznam.cz, a successful Czech search competitor to Google — don’t have $60-100,000,000 lying around to build out their filters, and lack the leverage to extract favorable linking licenses from news sites.

The bizarre, byzantine, undemocratic EU will allow big America companies to rule the web.

Kenan Malik has a word:

The EU wants to strengthen the music industry in negotiations with sites such as YouTube. But the proposal would inevitably require an automated system of monitoring that could not distinguish copyright infringement from legal uses such as parody. The plan will require the indiscriminate monitoring of platform users. It might also harm code-hosting platforms – key to open-source software – and scientific repositories, undermining access.

Copyright is a delicate issue, requiring the rights of content creators to be balanced against the demands of free speech and open access. What it doesn’t require is the kind of size 13 boots treatment threatened by the EU.

And Brexit? Copybuzz muses:

“Even if they are not required to implement an online censorship system immediately, new companies will have the threat of mandatory upload filters hanging over them as they grow.

“Why would startups choose to operate under these terms in the EU when they can avoid the problem by setting up a company in jurisdictions with laws better-suited to the digital age? Similarly, why would venture capitalists risk investing in new EU companies, which will be hamstrung by a requirement to filter everything once they grow beyond a certain size?”

Time to leave the EU, right?

Posted: 18th, June 2018 | In: News, Technology | Comment


The financial crisis is over; US Fed raises interest rates, ECB ends QE

Most of us have noted that the past decade hasn’t been all that hot on the economic front. That grand and resounding crash back in 2008 has led to government and bank finances being near obliterated, the follow on effects being not much to no economic growth, wages stagnating and so on. The good news though is that it’s all pretty much over.

Yes, a decade is a long time, yes, it’s even possible that different economic policies would have made recovery faster. Even, that not having the excess in the first place would have meant no crash. But it is still good news that it does, finally, seem to be over.

To think like an economist for a moment – yes, OK, so we all insist they don’t know anything. And yet they are the only experts we’ve got about this economy type thing. And they will be saying that these two events mark at least the beginning of the end. We’re now properly into recovery, rather than continuing crisis.

The US Federal Reserve has voted to raise the target for its benchmark interest rate by 0.25%, citing solid economic expansion and job gains.

The widely-anticipated decision will lift the target for the central bank’s benchmark rate to 1.75%-2%, the highest level since 2008.

When the economy goes kablooie the first thing we do is lower interest rates. The counterpart to that, the other side of the coin, is that when the economy has recovered and we’re worried again about inflation, not that kablooie, then we raise interest rates. Among economists who are not central bankers there’s a little muttering about whether interest rates should rise right now, or perhaps in a month or two – for the US that is. But that they should rise is agreed, the crisis is over and recovery well under way.

The European Central Bank said on Thursday it will end its unprecedented bond purchase scheme by the close of the year, taking its biggest step in dismantling crisis-era stimulus a decade after the start of the euro zone’s economic downturn.

When you’re really in the hole and you can’t reduce interest rates any further then you have QE. No, don’t worry what it is, it’s just what you do when there’s deep economic doo doo ahead. And if you stop doing QE then that’s the indication we need that the doo doo has been avoided, we’ve turned the corner and we’re back on the upturn. It’s not as good a sign as raising interest rates again but it’s a necessary precursor to it at the very least. The US stopped QE a few years back, has even started to reverse it – not something the ECB is starting to even talk about yet – and it took them a few years to then raise rates. So Europe is perhaps three or four years behind the US in recovery here, something which sounds about right to be honest.

The other way to put this is that if the crisis were over we’d be stopping QE and raising interest rates. We are stopping QE and we are raising interest rates, thus we should conclude that the crisis is over.

Posted: 18th, June 2018 | In: Money, News | Comment


Labour Live Workers Beer Company refuses to help Corbyn organise a piss-up in a brewery

Turns out we it was no joke about Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party being unable to organise a piss-up in a brewery. The Observer has the last laugh on labour Live, aka Jez Fest:

There was no visible revolt over the fact that half the crowd had coughed up £35 for their entry and the other half had been bussed in for free after the Labour party started desperately giving out tickets to make up the numbers. The growing sense that the leadership should not be reliably left in charge of party organisation at a brewery was compounded by the fact that the Workers Beer Company refused to provide keg versions of its product, because they were “reserved for high-volume events”.

First stop a field in North London. Next stop the entire country…

Moe highlights here.

 

Posted: 17th, June 2018 | In: News, Politicians | Comment


Middle-class nightmares: Guardian readers panic over post-Brexit au pair shortage

Brexit matters trouble the Guardian’s readers as they made their way to Jezfest, aka Goodstock. What would it all mean for au pairs? One of the most-read stories on the Guardian’s website begins: “Au pair shortage sparks childcare crisis for families.” This from the paper that mused: “Is au pairing the new slavery?” and “Au pairs on a pittance: the young women minding kids.” And so to the looming Brexit disaster for the Guardian’s caring readers:

Many families are facing a childcare crisis following a 75% slump in the number of young Europeans willing to work as au pairs, as Brexit, plus other factors such as last year’s terrorist attacks in London and Manchester, deter young people from coming to the UK.

May, June and early July are when most au pair placements are arranged, before the beginning of the school term in September, but Guardian Money has learned that some agencies are unable to find a single young European for British families to even interview.

Or to put it another way not versed in the paper of the knowing liberal who outsources child rearing on the cheap: ‘Brexit ends au pair slavery’; and: ‘Brexit ends scandal of teens minding other kids.’ Says the paper, at pains to assure readers that an au pairs shortage affects not only middle-class professionals who can’t afford full-time staff:

While families who have an au pair are often characterised as well off, agencies say many are “ordinary” people such as doctors, nurses, firefighters and academics who work long hours, have long commutes or do not work nine to five, which means breakfast clubs and after-school clubs often do not benefit them. An au pair can be an affordable alternative to employing a nanny.

Since when did GPs and university dons become anything other than middle-class and wealthy? Does the Guardian really think GPs – average wage: £100,000 per annum – are anything but well off?

Maybe it does? And maybe if Brexit happens their kids will have to put their own plates in the dishwasher? The horror!

Posted: 17th, June 2018 | In: Key Posts, Money, News, Politicians | Comment


Labour Live: the highlights of Jeremy Corbyn’s Goodstock Festival

Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Live Festival was  terrific fun. Let’s see what you missed as Corbyn continues his drive to turn a mainstream party into a fringe movement:
 

John McDonell sings Find The Magic Money Tree:

 

Clean Bandit Don’t Need No Educashun

 

 

Jeremy Corbyn front The Average White Band (Diversity No-Mix)

 

Transforming the World one rubbish dance at a time

 

The Electric Light Orchestra

 

Marx & Spender

 

If You Build |it They Will Come (the journalists; the local Labour MPs, the people with free tickets, the security…)

 

The Hacks

 

The Handlers


 

Brexit Means whatever Jeremy Corbyn Thinks You Want It To Mean


 

A Cultural Exchange


 

Your Mum…

 
His Mum…


 

Our Father (Ted)

 

Organising a Piss-up In A Brewery

 
Next week: The Women’s Institute.

Posted: 17th, June 2018 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment


Food banks – a stain on our society or a godsend?

We’ve another of those reports – from the Joseph Rowntree folks this time – telling us how appalling it is that so many live in poverty in a rich country like Britain. A subject we can make two points about. The first being that they’re not actually talking about poverty, they’re talking about inequality.

Despite the language being used no one at all is really saying that anyone in Britain lives at the level of those starving people we see on the TV in Africa or wherever. Nor is anyone living like most people did 100 years ago. Our definition of poverty here is having less than other people – less than 60% of average household income in fact – instead of having near nothing. Yes, everyone says “poverty” but it’s really not what is being talked about, instead it’s inequality.

The much more interesting question though is about these food banks. Are they an appalling stain upon Britain? Or a sign of how well we’re doing?

Nearly 4 million adults in the UK have been forced to use food banks due to ”shocking” levels of deprivation, figures have revealed for the first time.

An exclusive poll commissioned by The Independent reveals one in 14 Britons has had to use a food bank, with similar numbers also forced to skip meals and borrow money as austerity measures leave them “penniless with nowhere to turn”.

The findings come as a major report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) shows more than 1.5 million people were destitute in the UK last year alone, a figure higher than the populations of Liverpool and Birmingham combined.

“Destitution” in that report includes having only one meal a day for two days in a row because there’s no money to buy more food. And the report does say – but doesn’t really try to emphasise – that a major reason for that is how badly the government manages to hand out the welfare money. They keep getting the amounts wrong that is. Which is the very thing which leads to the question about food banks.

We could say, as the general conversation does, that their existence shows how appalling Britain is. There’s such poverty that people must rely upon charity, government should be doing better, benefits must rise. The other way around is to say that it’s government causing the problem. It’s not the amount of benefits, it’s the incompetence with which they’re administered. It’s also nothing new – anyone rich in maturity will know that the dole and associated offices have always got the numbers wrong. And it can and always has taken weeks and weeks to get benefits to start with. At which point, well, maybe food banks are just a new way of dealing with something that has always been a problem? The rise in the number of them being a sign that we’re getting better at dealing with this problem.

Back in the 80s I had friends who had to wait 8 weeks to even start getting their dole. That’s a long time to go without money for food unless a few friends chip in. Food banks, to me and with those experiences, are just a better way of dealing with that long term problem, how crap the government is at giving away money. Opinions may differ here of course….

Posted: 14th, June 2018 | In: News | Comment


Oxford child sex gang jailed; don’t mention race and religion

How do you report on the eight men jailed for abusing children as young as 13? The Daily Express says: “A child sex gang has been jailed for nearly 90 years with the eight ‘predatory”’men abusing girls as young as 13 in a car they dubbed the ‘s**gwagon’.” Why the censorship? Are Express readers too prudish to read the word ‘Shagwagon” in a tale of child rape in a Nissan Serena People carrier and other places? Said one victim: “They would pick the girls, have sex with them, and dump them. Everything happened in that Serena.” It was a “s**gwgon,” says the Mirror, the paper owned by the same group that now also owns the Express.

The men, referred to as a “gang”, are aged 36 to 48. Their crimes occurred from 1998 to 2005. That’s a long time. Their victims were aged between 13 and 17.

Detective Sergeant Nicola Douglas, of the Thames Valley Police Major Crime Unit, goes on the record: “I would like to say a huge thank you to the victims who have all demonstrated such courage and bravery throughout the investigation and during the trial. I know nothing can ever undo the unimaginable suffering they were put through, but I hope it gives them some comfort to know these men have finally been held accountable for the abhorrent crimes they committed.”

How did they commit such heinous crimes for so long. How did they get away with it for 7 years?

The Guardian: “Eight members of Oxford grooming ring jailed for sexual assault – Men found guilty of raping and indecently assaulting five girls between 1998 and 2005.”

The men are pictured:

 

oxford sex crime gang

 

They are:

Assad Hussain, 37, of Iffley Road, Oxford, guilty of five counts of rape and two counts of indecent assault, sentenced to life, to serve a minimum term of 12 years

Kameer Iqbal, 39, of Dashwood Road, Oxford, guilty of three counts of rape, sentenced to 12 years

Khalid Hussain, 38, of Ashhurst Way, Oxford, guilty of rape and indecent assault, sentenced to 12 years

Kamran Khan, 36, of Northfield Road, Bolton, guilty of indecent assault and false imprisonment, sentenced to 8 years

Moinul Islam, 41, of Wykeham Crescent, Oxford, guilty of rape, two counts of indecent assault and supplying cannabis, sentenced to 15 years and nine months

Raheem Ahmed, 40 of Starwort Path, Oxford, guilty of two counts of indecent assault and false imprisonment, sentenced to 12 years

Alladitta Yousaf, 48, of Bodley Road, Oxford, guilty of indecent assault, sentenced to 7 years and 6 months

Haji Khan, 38, of the Willows, Oxford, guilty of conspiracy to rape, sentenced to 10 years

Again: how did they get away with it for so long?

Adrian Foster, chief crown prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service, has an opinion:

“These cases are, in effect, organised crime, and we approached this case in the same way we would approach any organised crime case by making connections, and building an understanding of criminal networks.”

One gets way with it. They tell a friend. Now two are getting away with it. They tell a friend. And so on… Isn’t this why criminal gangs often come from a certain locale or a certain demographic?

The Oxford Mail introduces a new angle in its report, something the BBC, Guardian and Express do not:

Barrister Mark George QC, representing Assad Hussain, pointed to his upbringing as part of the Muslim community which he said ‘does have a tendency to encourage clandestine relationships’ because he was not allowed to bring girlfriends home or have sex before marriage. He added that while in custody he has been a model prisoner, and taken it upon himself to become a ‘listener’ helping to mentor and guide other inmates.

Is being Muslim relevant in crimes that, as the Daily Mirror says, involve “sickening child sex ‘parties’ in Oxford”?  The men’s religion does not feature in the CPS report. But ethnicity does in the Daily Mail’s:
:

 

sex crimes oxford daily mail

 

The Mail has trouble saying”shagwagon” but its very first word is “Asian”. Are North Koreans raping British children? What does Asian mean? And why don’t other news sources mentioned above use it to describe the bastards? Is it because they fear upsetting a minority or triggering a race riot – that working-class whites will forget their Muslim mates and see extraordinary and rare crimes as the norm? Is it mentioned to suggest something intrinsic in ‘Asians’ that leads them to rape children? In short: is it us or them that the papers, the CPS and the authorities see as the more terrifying and fear the most?

But the biggest question is: why did the crimes persist for so long?

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


Wetherspoon stops selling champagne; Primark closes Chanel concessions

Brexit continues to ripple although British society. The BBC brings news to chill the marrow: “Wetherspoon to stop selling champagne ahead of Brexit.” Who knew you could buy champagne at Wetherspoons? And no, Bronco Pete, Matt The Talc and All-Day Dave, champagne is not a nicety for Tenant’s Super in a glass. It’s the French fizzy wine. News is that Brexit supporting pub landlord Tim Martin, who co-founded the chain of budget boozers, sees the ditching the champers as part of the transition away from products made in the European Union.

“There will be an inevitable transfer of trade post-Brexit to countries outside the EU, which will reduce prices in shops and pubs,” says Martin. “The products we are now introducing are at lower prices than the EU products they are replacing.”

So champagne will be replaced with sparkling wines from the UK, which the BBC tells us, “such as from the Denbies vineyard, and Hardys Sparkling Pinot Chardonnay from Australia”. Well, if Oz can be in the Eurovision Song Contest, why not consider it as part of Kent?

Champagne growers will hope to make up for the loss of trade by doing very little.

In other Brexit news:

WHSmiths stops selling Gutenberg Bibles
Primark closes Chanel concessions
Pound Store says ‘No’ to Rolex
Ted’s Second Hand Motors rejects Ferrari

Posted: 13th, June 2018 | In: News, The Consumer | Comment


Narcissism saves 30m North Koreans from nuclear destruction

Baseball caps off to Donald Trump. It turns out that he and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un want to make America great again. The paid had “a really fantastic meeting. A lot of progress” says Donald in that manner he of saying things like he’s heard the words for the first time. It’s why he says everything twice, isn’t it, because after guffing out the words the first time he tries to work out what they mean so repeats it. If the first peroration gets a cheer, he might say it three times. So how was it, Don? “Really very positive,” he explains. “I think better than anybody could have expected. Top of the line. Really good.”

And now after the tea and the handshakes, the other guys and gels – “my people”, as Don calls them – will sort out all the details, you know, the stuff about nuclear weapons, trade, human rights, lots of tanks aimed at South Korea, repatriating the dead and other odds and sods. And that’s to say nothing –  and nothing was said – about North Korea trading with the EU, the US or even UKplc, North Korean students being able to study overseas and the general opening up Mr Kim’s  hermetic camp. But let’s not split hairs. North Korea back in the fold of international relations is good thing. Its people will get richer.

 

trump kim north korea

Many papers lead with a photo of Trump looking like gameshow host – Mr Kim, Come On Down! ‘You wanted peace but… you got a prawn cocktail. Hard cheese! Or more like no cheese at all, or meat or much food for your people of any sort.’

 

In case you missed it, this is the document Don and Kim signed:

1) The United States and the DPRK commit to establish new US-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity

2) The US and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula

3) Reaffirming the 27 April 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work towards complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula

4) The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.

 

The media is the message, right? Don’t sweat the details because life will take care of those. The doings will out. So Trump can denigrate his predecessors. Only he can do it the right way. And maybe you can do if you stay tuned, buy the book, watch DVD and work out if the 30m people – that’s the number Trump said he was saving – can be saved from obliteration by the power of narcissism.

 

 

Posted: 13th, June 2018 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment


Grenfell: how the fire spread

What did so many people die when a flat in Grenfell Tower caught fire? We now the flames spread in the concrete clock – concrete does not burn but new fittings installed since the block went up in 1974 do. New windows were not right.

Daniel Brown was the first firefight to enter flat 16 on the fourth floor. It’s where the fire began. “I walked towards the fridge to inspect it,” he says, “…immediately I noticed little pieces of hot embers falling outside what I could now see was a window that had completely given way leaving a hole in the wall.”

The cosmetic and insulating cladding was dangerous. Grenfell lacked sprinklers.

The shameful facts are seeping out at the public inquiry. We need to hear them all. Facts are vital. The objectivity of everyon on the inquiry’s panel is paramount is we’re to get to the truth.

The BBC shows us how the fire spread from flat 16’s kitchen. And we hear that residents did dial 999:

A resident of flat 195 on the 22nd floor called emergency services to describe smelling smoke, but was advised to “stay inside and keep your door and windows shut”.

 

grenfell fire spread

 

In case of fire: get out.

Posted: 11th, June 2018 | In: News | Comment


Tea towels you keep forever linked to food poisoning

Your tea towel is killing you. Maybe. The Daily Mail says “repeatedly using an old one could help to spread food poisoning“.

 

 

It’s said much the same thing many times.

“A 2015 study by Kansas State University found that, surprisingly, tea towels were the most contaminated surface during food preparation, fast becoming covered in bugs that can cause food poisoning” – 30 Jan 2018

The Mail says “make sure you sue a fresh tea towel“.

 

daily mail scare tea

 

Professor Hugh Pennington, Emeritus professor of bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen tells readers on 11 August 2015: “In my house, all the dishes and cutlery are dried with disposable paper towels, as tea towels pick up bugs after more than one use.”

daily mail

 

But on 7 December 2010, the Mail told us: “PS WHY YOU CAN KEEP TEA TOWELS FOREVER…

Such are the facts…

 

Posted: 11th, June 2018 | In: News, Tabloids | Comment


The Free Tommy Robinson March and World Naked Bike Riders collide in London

London – June 9 2018:

 

A few others noticed, too:

 

To recap:

Robinson, 35, is an exhibitionist sent to prison for contempt of court last month. Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, for it is he, was sentenced to 13 months on 29 May, br. His crime: broadcasting on social media about an ongoing trial at the court.

The Naked Riders are exhibitionists campaigning for safety regulations for cyclists. They also raise awareness on the world’s dependency on oil, particularly sun oils with high ski protection factor.

 

Posted: 10th, June 2018 | In: News | Comment


Kim Yong Un can’t pay his hotel bill

This is an amusing little story which illustrates how the absurdity of economic sanctions can worm their way into the society at large. Kim Yong Un – you know, fattie who runs North Korea – we’d rather like him to be at a summit where we can all talk through how we’ll beat him up unless he gives up those nuclear bombs. Yet he can’t turn up because he can’t find a place to stay:

Just one day after President Donald Trump announced the US-North Korea summit is back on, the US and Singapore are looking for ways to bear the cost of Kim Jong Un’s accommodation, including the North Korean leader’s preference for a five-star, $6,000 a night hotel.

The Washington Post reports that paying for North Korea’s accommodation during the June 12 summit would conflict with US Treasury Department sanctions and require a waiver to be signed to temporarily bypass them.

North Korea can’t pay the bill. Because that would mean the hotel taking money from North Korea and that can’t happen because of the sanctions against North Korea. The sanctions existing because of the Big Bad Bomb problems.

Kim’s trip to Singapore, which would be the furthest he would have travelled as leader, has posed a number of logistical challenges for White House Deputy Chief of Staff Joe Hagin and Kim’s the de facto chief of staff Kim Chang son.

Although Mr Hagin is open to footing the bill, US Treasure Department sanctions require a waiver to be signed before America can pay for his luxury stay, the Washington Post reported.

America can’t pay the bill because that would mean spending money on Kim Young ‘Un. Something they’re not allowed to do because of the sanctions. You know, the sanctions over the Big Bad Bomb problem. The Big Bad Bomb problem we’d like to sit down and discuss with Kim Young ‘Un.

I admit to finding all of this amusing. Although not quite as amusing as something that happened a couple of decades back. I was doing business with the government of North Korea. No, it’s OK, it was legal back then. They had to issue a letter of credit – it’s a promise to pay, backed up by a bank that there really will be payment – and their bank refused to issue one. It wasn’t for a lot of money, not a lot for a country that is. $250,000. But their bank – one in Singapore as it happens – refused to issue it on the grounds that North Korea didn’t have that much money.

Who knows, maybe it’s not about sanctions now, perhaps they just don’t have the cash?

Posted: 8th, June 2018 | In: News, Politicians | Comment


Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson reunited in Mirror and Mail cut and paste disaster

The Mirror is promoting an auction of photographs by “royal snapper” John Scott, who died in 1986. The paper omits to mention where the auction is talking place – you can buy them at Cornwall auctioneer David Lay. But it does lead with a group phots that features “Fergie met Andy…possibly for the first time”. The Mail says is “the moment a young Fergie fixed eyes on Andrew”. No it isn’t. Not unless Sarah Ferguson, for it is she, was boss-eyed.

The paper trills: “A smiling Sarah Ferguson is clearly impressed by Prince Andrew as she claps eyes on him for the first time  in the early 1970s.” Ferguson is described as being “very young” at the time. It was the summer of 1970. Fergie and Andrew was 10 – although the Mirror and Mail say they were “about 12”. The Mail also says they are both 10.

The Mail is clueless:

fergie andy

 

sarah ferguson andrew first meeting

 

sarah ferguson andrew first meeting

 

Having told readers this was not the first time Sarah met Andy, the Mail wonders, er, if it was:

 

sarah ferguson andrew first meeting a

Daily Mail: question asked; question answered

 

The tin lid on the utter balls is when you realise that she isn’t looking at Andrew – who isn’t looking at her –  but towards Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones.

The Mirror: the peril of copying a Press Release

 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 6th, June 2018 | In: Key Posts, News, Royal Family, Tabloids | Comment


One Year After London Bridge and still no talk about Islam

A year ago Islamists murdered eight people in an attack at London Bridge. A year on and the BBC says the eight “died”. Yesterday at a remembrance service for the victims, their loved ones lit candles at the Southwark Cathedral service. In attendance was the Prime Minister, the mayor of London and members of the emergency services. The talk is of “love”, the hashtag #LondonUnited and placards declaring “London more united than ever”.

 

love london bridge attack

 

The murdered fought back. Londoners set about the three murderers with skateboards, chairs and beer bottles.  Roy Larner heard the killers shouting “This is for Allah!” as they burst into the pub where he was drinking. “Fuck you, I’m Millwall!,” he told the killers, a trio that one eyewitness referred to as the “three Muslim geezers”. Larner punched them. They stabbed him eight times. He lived. Romanian baker Florin Morariu hit one of the killers over the head with a crate. Ignacio Echeverría saw the killers stabbing at a woman. He hit them with his skateboard. The murdered him. Geoff Ho also went towards the violence.  “The bastard in the Arsenal shirt came at me first. I think I got a hit in on one of them, but either he or his accomplice got me with a shot to the throat,” said Geoff, “but either he or his accomplice got me with a shot to the throat.”

When the religionists attacked, Londoners were not cowed. The names of these brave people who fought back should be all over the Press.

We should also be talking about why it happened. Can we talk about Islam and the killers’ humanity hating ideology? Only willing fools and bastards blame these murders on all Muslims. The discussion should be about violent Islamism. How can be confronted by more than pub glasses if it is not debated freely? Tackling the killers’ nihilism does not mean ‘giving into hate’. What happened was not normal, so let’s not make it appear so by our passivity.

 

london bridge

 

The threat is real and active. The Guardian looks at prisoner release dates and foresees a surge in the number of convicted terrorists being released from prison in 2018. How should these people be handled?

And how can further attacks be prevented? The Daily Telegraph says MI5 will share intelligence with head teachers. This will stop students becoming turned on to violent Islamism.

 

london terror

 

The people murdered in the attack were: Christine Archibald, 30 (from Canada), James McMullan, 32 (London), Alexandre Pigeard, 26 (France), Sebastien Belanger, 36 (France), Xavier Thomas, 45 (France), Kirsty Boden, 28 (Australia), Sara Zelenak 21 (Australia) and Ignacio Echeverria, 39 (Spain). Let’s think about them – and how we can stop the poison that killed them.

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


Stanley Nelson’s film shown to all Starbucks workers – both racist and non-racist

When Starbucks stores closed for racial training – half a day training adults not to be bigots – staff watched this video by Stanley Nelson. Called The Story of Access, here it is:

 

 

Starbucks explains:

On May 29, we closed 8,000 Starbucks stores in the United States for four hours — so 175,000 Starbucks partners could come together for a conversation and learning session on racial bias.

To recap: this is your employer talking about racial bias, the people who took you on. You are not the boss’s partner.  The company’s policies are here. Staff don’t need training to be sensitive to racism; they must adhere to the simple premise for any sound business: the black man’s money is every bit as welcome as the female anti-Semite’s.

In 2015, Starbucks launched Race Together in the US. Designed to “stimulate conversation, empathy and compassion” among the races, ‘partners’ were engaged to write ‘Race Together’ on cups and talk about race with customers. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz thought it would “help bridge the racial and ethnic divides”. You couldn’t even grab a coffee without being challenged on racial differences. Don’t you dare ignore difference and just get on with your life. Talk about race with your barista / therapist; think about race as you enjoy your sugary treat; wonder if your preference for black coffee or white coffee is deep-rooted in prejudice. There was no escape. Well, there was: you could avoid Starbucks are its preaching ninnies.

Starbucks continues in its latest drive to educate:

This was a foundational step in renewing Starbucks as a place where ALL people feel welcome.

Even the homeless? The derelict? If they can pay: yes. If not: no.

Starbucks partners shared life experiences, heard from others, listened to experts on bias and racial anxiety, reflecting on the realities of bias in our society and talking about how all of us can work together to create public spaces where everyone feels like they belong.

It’s not a public space. Starbucks is a shop. Punters vote with their feet. If a shop worker fails to take the money from a customer because they are upset by their gender, skin, religion or clothing, then that worker is a fool and needs sacking. The only force for social good Starbucks need concern itself with is to make as much money as possible and thereby keep its staff employed. Screw this corporatising of morals. Just give us the coffee, take our money and give us the correct change.

Via: Stanley Nelson—Story of Access

Posted: 3rd, June 2018 | In: News, The Consumer | Comment


England’s World Cup kit made by starving waifs in Bangladesh

The headline is roughly the story from the Telegraph, that the workers who make the England replica kit over there in Bangladesh are starving helots who deserve very much better. It’s also not quite true. Those garment factory workers have a pretty good deal – by the standards of Bangladesh that is. That’s why they flock to work in those factories. And yes, I have been there, I have seen it.

England’s World Cup football kit is being made in a factory in Bangladesh where workers are paid as little as 21 pence an hour, an investigation by The Telegraph can disclose.

The official England shirt and shorts, part of the most expensive England kit ever, are made at a factory inside a restricted government-controlled zone where employees are paid as little as £1.68 a day and described having to live “hand to mouth”.

The currency of Bangladesh is “taka.” The minimum wage in Bangladesh is 1,500 taka a month. The minimum wage in the garment factories is 5,000 and change taka. They’re doing pretty well by the standards of the time and place that is. That’s around and about £50 a month, true, which we’d think to be not very much at all. But then Bangladesh is a ery poor couontry still. It’s about as poor as Britain was back in 1700 AD or so.

No, really, that’s where they are and we were. That’s after we account for inflation. They’re 300 years behind us in economic development. Not their fault and all that but there’s the truth of it. And that’s why wages are shite – just as they were in England in 1700 in fact.

It’s also not much of a Telegraph investigation that uncovered this. For this is really a press handout from an NGO:

The Clean Clothes Campaign, which strives to improve conditions in the global garment industry, said: “With the minimum wage set at 5,300 BDT (£47), garment workers in Bangladesh are some of the most poorly paid in the global garment industry.

“Their wages do not even cover basic needs, much less enable them and their families to have decent lives.”

The group said that a living wage in Bangladesh would amount to 37,661 BDT (£335). This equates to £1.62 per hour.

The problem here is that that is higher than near all wages in Bangladesh. It’s about what a Commander (the same as a Major in the Army) gets per month. It’s about twice what a teacher preparing people for A Levels gets, four ties what a state school teacher does. The insistence is that the girl sewing zippers on a month after walking out of the paddy field should get that much?

It’s not a sensible demand, is it? As I’ve said elsewhere the last time this point came up, a year back:

What our doughty fighters for fashion equality are arguing is something very different. They’ve constructed an income that they think it would be nice if people had. This much food, that much leisure, this sort of housing and so on. It would undoubtedly be nice if we could guarantee a minimum quality of life for everyone. But people can only have that if production can support it. Which, in the still poor places of the world, it can’t. The demand is akin to insisting that people in 1800 should have had lives as rich in physical consumption as those in 1950 did.

The 30,000Tk demand is asking that garment workers in Bangladesh should be earning the same amount as garment workers in Malaysia, a country well over 10 times richer. This does not show a great deal of economic understanding.

Wages are lower in a poor country because productivity is lower. It’s a poor country because productivity is lower and, to complete the circle, low productivity means poor wages. They’re all different versions of the same statement of fact.

Frankly, they’re nutters and the Telegraph has been taken in by them. Wages are low on Bangladeshi garment factories because wages are even lower in Bangladesh in general. The reason for that is that it’s a poor country.

Oh, and the thing that’s making it richer? Richer about as fast as any place, ever, has become richer, at 6 to 8% a year? That we all buy those clothes made in those factories. If you’re really concerned about those wages the answer is clear. Check the labels, see where something is made. If it’s in Bangladesh then buy two, not just then one. Because that is what makes poor people richer, that we buy what poor people, in poor countries, make.

Posted: 2nd, June 2018 | In: Money, News, Sports | Comment


Zidane leaves Real Madrid; Spurs fret over Pochettino; Wenger hopeful

Zinedine Zidane is leaving Real Madrid boss, going out on an almighty high after leading the to a third straight Champions League triumph. He says the club needs “a different voice”. Replacements are quickly pushed to the fore: Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino; Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri; out of work Arsene Wenger; and Maurizio Sarri, most recently of Napoli.

How hopeful must Wenger be that having turned Real down a few times, they now come for him? And what of Pochettino, who surely could not resist the chance to manage the world’s biggest club? Marca says Real want Pochettino. Spurs should worry.

The media did not see this one coaming. “Zinedine Zidane says he wants to stay as Real Madrid boss amid speculation over future,” said Sky Sports on March 30. “Zinedine Zidane has put his future firmly in Real Madrid’s hands by stating he wants to remain head coach at the Bernabeu next season,” readers are told.

“Yes, I would still like to stay as coach of Real Madrid,” Zidane told everyone. “Here we depend on the results, it has not changed, it will not change, it is the requirement of this club and I accept it. I’ve been here 18 years, I how Real Madrid functions. I do what I like doing, I do it thoroughly and if the question is, do you want to continue? Then yes I will continue. I do not feel tired, not at all.”

Real Madrid finished third in La Liga, well behind winners Barcelona and beaten into second by city rivals Atletico Madrid.  Just as beaten CL finalist Liverpool are only the fourth best side in England, Real are not the best side in Spain. The club wants better. Zidane told the Real Madrid website: “My future is independent of that (Champions League success).” It’s about being the best side in Spain. And Real aren’t.

 

Posted: 31st, May 2018 | In: News, Sports | Comment


Jeremy Corbyn has “antisemitic views” says Jewish expert

Corbyn anti-semitism

The Mail’s photo choice is interesting

 

Jeremy Corbyn has “antisemitic views”. So says Jonathan Arkush. Arkush is the outgoing president of the board of deputies. He says the Labour Party leader “has views which are antisemitic, and he has problematic views”. Arkush tells the Daily Telegraph that British Jews are asking: “Do we have a future here?”

Under a country governed by Corbyn: yes, of course Jews will continue to live in the UK. One remarkable characteristic of Jewish history is the persistence with which they are persecuted. Some Jew always stays on to light the lamp, denying Mohammed and Jesus’s claims of divine destiny by waiting for the true Messiah. Will derelict synagogues in London, Leeds or Manchester become stopping points on tourists walks, like those in India, Cuba, Morocco, Turkey, Iraq, the Czech Republic, Syria, Italy and all other places where the Jews were dispossessed and expelled? Will the country under Corbyn do its bit for the deep history of Jewish victim hood? No. Well, not yet.

The future for British Jewry might not be a vibrant one. Better, of course, if British Jews become the right sort of Jews. But Arkush does not speak for all British Jews, even if the Mail does bill him as ‘The Tribe’s’ “chief”. The bilge that ethnic minorities in the UK have ‘community leaders’ who speak for their kind sticks in the craw. Don’t lump us all in together. Don’t divide us into groups. You don’t need to be Jewish to see that Corbyn’s Labour has a little problem with Red Sea Pedestrians. Arkush speaks for himself. And we can listen. Jews, after all, are often rather good at spotting Jew haters.

“He was a chairman of Stop the War, which is responsible for some of the worst anti-Israel discourse,” says Arkush. “If he shares the prevalent discourse about Israel, then that view is unquestionably antisemitic… I think we are all entitled to some clarity on his real views about Israel.”

Corbyn is too nuanced and slippery to let the electorate know his real views on much. But he does have a spokesman to tell everyone that Arkush comments are “personal attacks without any evidence to support them… Jeremy has been absolutely clear that he is a militant opponent of antisemitism and is committed to driving it out of our movement.”

He is? Got any evidence of anything he’s done to prove it?

“Jonathan Arkush’s attempt to conflate strong criticism of Israeli state policies with antisemitism is wrong and undermines the fight both against antisemitism and for justice for the Palestinians,” the spokesman adds. “It should be rejected outright.”

Rhea Wolfson, a member of Labour’s national executive committee, is shocked by the comments. Her words take up half the Guardian’s story on the matter. The paper offers no words in support of Arkush’s view. “Jeremy Corbyn is not antisemitic, he does not hold antisemitic views,” Wolfson tweeted. “I cannot understand what Arkush is trying to achieve here but I know it isn’t about being constructive.

“Jonathan Arkush has never spoken for me, for many other young, progressive Jews, and he doesn’t in this article. We have a lot of work to take a lot of poison out of the debate… around Israel and Palestine, making blanket accusations isn’t constructive and doesn’t move towards a better debate or solutions.” So much for Corbyn being militant. It’s a debate he wants.

The Guardian story is headlined: “Jeremy Corbyn’s views ‘could drive Jewish people from UK’.” So if you’re a bigot, vote Jez, right? The paper finds no space to report what Arkush also said. This from the Tele:

Mr Arkush said: “We have always felt Britain is a generous, fair-minded, exceptionally tolerant, mutually respectful country where Jews have been secure, well accepted and in return they have contributed vastly.

“That is why I am so troubled that, particularly in the last few months, there is an increasingly widespread question asked over the dinner table – which is, do we have a future here, and what’s that future going to look like? In its current, widespread form, it is very new.” Asked if he attributes this new anxiety in the community to Mr Corbyn’s leadership, he said: “Yeah. I do.”

You do wonder how any British Jew can vote for Corbyn, or, indeed, be a member of the Labour Party he heads. But it takes all sorts to make a ‘community’. And – get this – not all Jews are the same.

Posted: 31st, May 2018 | In: News, Politicians | Comment


1979 computer shop manager predicts the future (video)

The terrific filmmaker David Hoffman made this film in which a computer shop worker predicts the future. Says David: “I was shooting a documentary called ‘The Information Society’ in 1979 and filmed this in Cedar Rapids Iowa. Compushop had just begun selling the Apple II and this guy had a keen sense of what was coming.”

You can see lots more of David’s work on the brilliant Flashbak .

 

Via: flashbak and David’s YouTube Channel.

Posted: 30th, May 2018 | In: News, Technology, The Consumer | Comment


Liege: biased reporting and Benjamin Herman’s last words

liege

Two of the victims

 

How important is the fact that Benjamin Herman screamed “Allahu Akbar” as he murdered Soraya Belkacemi, Lucille Garcia and Cyril Vangriecken in the Belgian city of Liege? Jan Jambon, Belgium’s interior ministers says Herman had murdered a man the night before the attack. The BBC says “the authorities were working to establish a motive”. Herman, a 31-year-old drug dealer, had been in jail but was let out for two days on Monday to prepare for an eventual release in 2020.

According to RTBF, Herman had a history of violent behaviour and convictions for theft, vandalism and drugs offences.

Benjamin Herman is dead. Why he did it is something we might never know. But can the media present a narrative?

“There are signs he was radicalised in prison, but is it that radicalisation which drove him to commit these acts?” Mr Jambon told RTL radio. “It could have been because he had nothing to look forward to, because he also killed someone the night before, the guy’s psychology and the fact… he may have been on drugs.”

What Did The Killer Say?

Reuters notes in a story that includes the phrase “Jail to Jihad”:

A police source told Reuters that he had shouted “Allahu Akbar” — the Muslim affirmation of faith — during a gunbattle with officers at a school in downtown Liege on Tuesday after killing his three victims.

Or as the BBC puts it:

Police sources quoted in local media said the man was heard shouting “Allahu Akbar” (“God is greatest” in Arabic).

The Guardian adds (paragraph 7):

Witnesses said the attacker in Liège was dressed in black and was carrying a rucksack. Footage aired by the Belgian broadcaster RTBF showed him chanting “Allahu Akbar” – God is greatest, in Arabic – as he walked through the city.

In the Telegraph the story begins:

A suspected terrorist on day release from prison executed two female police officers with their own guns and shot dead a trainee teacher before he was killed in a shootout after taking two women hostage at a school in the centre of the Belgian city of Liege.

The bloody rampage on Tuesday morning, which left another four officers wounded, was captured on videos on social media, which showed the black clad man waving a pistol in each hand and shouting “Allahu Akbar” before he was gunned down by elite officers. Belgium’s federal prosecutors office has opened an terror investigation into the attack.

No “police sources” to claim the killer yelled “Allahu Akbar”. It was broadcast on social media.

The Sun makes the killer’s cry the main thrust. The headline declares: “BELGIUM BLOODBATH – Liege shooting – Terrorist on two-day jail release shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ is shot dead after killing two cops and a man.”

The New York Times doesn’t mention Herman’s cry at all, whether it be an Arabic phrase or a Muslim declaration. To omit the killer’s last known words is a remarkable oversight. Compare that blinkered approach to the monocular Breitbart and its report headlined: “Belgian Gunman Appeared on Multiple Reports on Radicalism, Killed 4th Person Before Attack.” It’s an eye-catching headline that the story below does not support.

The Guardian states in its more factual headline: “Belgium shooting: man kills passerby and two police officers in Liège.”

Best to stick to the facts. Via Sky News, we get this:

Media reported that the suspect had been radicalised in prison, and an AFP source close to the investigation said he had been reported as belonging to the “entourage of an Islamist recruiter”.

But justice minister Koen Geens said there was no consistent information for the claim, adding that the case was not “clear cut” and that Herman “certainly was not someone who could clearly be qualified as radicalised”.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 30th, May 2018 | In: News | Comment


Russian damages painting of Ivan The Terrible in drunken rage

The one great finding of all the social sciences is that there’s a truth in a stereotype. There has to be, for no one would believe it, or even make it up, if there weren’t something there to note in the first place. So, that idea that all Russians get wildly drunk on vodka all the time – no, it’s not true of all Russians and not of all the time. But there’s a truth there all the same:

A vandal has seriously damaged “Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan,” one of the best-known paintings exhibited in Tretyakov Gallery’s main building on Lavrushinsky lane in Moscow, the press service of Tretyakov Gallery told Sputnik on Saturday.

Well, yes, a vandal. Seems that the bloke didn’t go to the gallery with this in mind, but the idea occurred to him while there:

In the interior ministry’s video, the man says he recognised the seriousness of his crime. “I came to look at the painting,” the man reportedly told police. “I wanted to leave, but then dropped into the

[gallery’s]

buffet and drank 100g of vodka. I don’t drink vodka and became overwhelmed by something.”

That’s about 4 ounces of vodka, call it 5 UK shots from a standard optic. And yes, that 100 grammes of vodka is an entirely normal, even a small, measure in Russia. So, there’s that part of the stereotype proven then.

The painting — titled “Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan on November 16, 1581,” depicts Russia’s first czar cradling his dying son after striking him in a fit of rage.

That’s what makes the story so wondrous. Man gets into a (drunken) rage and attacks painting. A painting of a man who has just been in a (non-drunken, so the story goes) rage.

Pretty good, no?

Posted: 30th, May 2018 | In: News, Strange But True | Comment


We’ve found the journalism’s nadir at Sainsbury’s

Journalism is not dead – it’s just waiting for Sainsbury’s to “reveal” what times its stores open over the bank holiday:

 

 

The story from investigative reporter ‘Becky Pemberton’ informs readers:

A spokesperson confirmed to the Sun Online: “All of our stores will be open this Bank Holiday but subject to changed opening hours.” It is therefore essential to check up on the individual store times to make sure yours is open.

So essential is the news that amid all the guff about bonus Nectar points and Sainsbury’s being tops for barbecues, Becky advises readers: “Many supermarkets are not changing their hours for the May bank holiday, but it is best to check first. You can do this using the store finder on their website.”

Yeah, that’s right – the Sun has “revealed” the opening times by looking at the Sainsbury’s website. And now thanks to the paper and links, you too can do just that.

 

Posted: 29th, May 2018 | In: News, Tabloids, The Consumer | Comment


Are people richer In London?

We all know that wages in London are higher than they are in the rest of the country. When we start talking about inequality then that’s as far as people go. They get paid more money so they’re richer, inequality must be this much then.

That’s not quite how an economist would try to guide the conversation though. What’s important is not how much someone can earn but what can they consume? So, we talk about the concept of disposable income. And, to the economist, the important one is disposable income after housing costs. Because that’s what you can spend on everything else. Wages, or income if you like, after taxes, benefits and housing costs. That’s the important number to be using when discussing inequality.

This inequality is a lot less than what we’re generally told it all is across the country. A nice example being this:

The sharp differences in household incomes across the UK have been set out in official government statistics.

The average disposable income per person (the ONS calls this household income), once taxes and benefits are accounted, was £19,432 in 2016.

But in Kensington & Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham in west London the average income was more than three times this at £58,816.

In contrast, in Nottingham – which has the lowest household income – the average income was £12,232.

This is before housing costs. This is rather important because we can look up what housing costs are by borough (for London) or region (for the rest of the country). We should take the median – 50% of households pay less than this, 50% more.

Nottingham is East Midlands and median rent is £500 a month. Kensington and Chelsea is £2,000 a month. So, the economists’ inequality is rather lower. Because we’d say that disposable income after housing costs, is £6,000 a year in Nottingham, £38,000 a year in K&C. Sure, this is still a big difference. But it’s a smaller difference than the one generally being used.

Sure, incomes are higher in London, but so are the costs of living there. National inequality is lower than what we’re usually told it is.

Posted: 29th, May 2018 | In: Money, News | Comment


We don’t want more trains are useless; we want 21st Century technology

We have another of those calls from people who would spend our money for us. They’d like lots of it all to be spent upon trains. Lots of ’em, to cover the country with railway lines. There are problems with this idea, two of them being pretty obvious. Trains are a 19th century technology. It’s really more than a little odd to be pushing them quite so hard here as solutions to our 21 st century problems. The other is that they’re concentrating upon moving people around when that’s not the problem at all, freight is.

But, you know, they get to have fun arguing about how to spend other peoples’ money:

The UK risks becoming too reliant on HS2 to plug the gap in its national transport strategy, analysts have warned.

Transport thinktank Greengauge 21 has said that in order to develop a truly “national” strategy, the UK needs to move away from the “hub-and-spoke” model centred on London to a network that links together upgraded city centre “hub” stations.

It suggests that instead of forming a “Y” shape that will link London with Birmingham, the East Midlands, Leeds and Manchester, HS2 should instead form an “X” shape with a new connection in the West Midlands, allowing trains to operate from Bristol and Cardiff to places in the Midlands, the North and Scotland.

Well, that does rather depend upon the idea that there are people in Bristol who would like to go to the Midlands. People who would but won’t currently, given the necessity of going toward London then taking a left. Or, perhaps, up the M5 and right.

High-speed rail connecting all of the UK mainland by 2050 would put ‘rocket fuel in Britain’s economy’, a leading transport think tank has said.

The proposed plan would be a further development of HS2 (High Speed 2) which is the new high-speed rail linking London, West Midlands, Leeds and Manchester, due to be operational by 2026.

The ambitious proposal by a UK think tank is to extend the HS2 line and create 1,000 miles (1,600km) of new rail network that will ‘reach all parts of the country’.

Quite why this would invigorate the economy isn’t really known. For we do that by adding value. What we build must be worth more than what it costs us to build it. And HS2 itself doesn’t even manage that. The reason being that we’ve all got other methods of both communicating and travelling now. Cars, sure, but the internet and mobile phones have reduced the value gained by faster rail journeys.

Fast train sets just aren’t worth building that is.

It would also cut road traffic and shrink a long-standing productivity gap with countries such as Germany, Italy and France, the group believes.

But wasting money on something not worth it reduces productivity, not increases it.

Now, it is about possible that more freight railway work would be worthwhile. It’s a bit difficult to say in a country as small as Britain actually, but it’s possible. But more passenger rail? It’s simply not worth it, doesn’t cover the cost of building it.

So, obviously, we shouldn’t go build it, should we?

Posted: 29th, May 2018 | In: News, The Consumer | Comment