Politicans and world leaders making news and in the news, and spouting hot air
THAT’S what the newspapers are reporting this morning, that Osborne has stung the big internet companies like Amazon and Apple by changing the rules on VAT rates. Although it’s not actually Osborne who has done this, it’s the EU:
Multinational companies such as Amazon and Apple will be forced to add VAT to all UK downloads including music, film, smartphone games and e-books from January 2015 in a move that may drive up the cost of music tracks from 99p to £1.19.
The move forms part of the Government’s “international efforts to develop tough, new global tax rules,” George Osborne said in his Budget address last week. From next year, download services will be subject to VAT in the country where the consumer is located.
According to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), the change will attract an extra £300m in VAT revenues in the first year.
YOU’D think that people would have worked out about these internet things by now but apparently there are none so dumb as politicians:
Shortly after the Twitter ban came into effect around midnight, the micro-blogging company tweeted instructions to users in Turkey on how to circumvent it using text messaging services in Turkish and English. Turkish tweeters were quick to share other methods of tiptoeing around the ban, using “virtual private networks” (VPN) – which allow internet users to connect to the web undetected – or changing the domain name settings on computers and mobile devices to conceal their geographic whereabouts.
Some large Turkish news websites also published step-by-step instructions on how to change DNS settings.
On Friday morning, Turkey woke up to lively birdsong: according to the alternative online news site Zete.com, almost 2.5m tweets – or 17,000 tweets a minute – have been posted from Turkey since the Twitter ban went into effect, thus setting new records for Twitter use in the country.
The ban came from the Prime Minister, pissed off that people were disagreeing with him in public. One of the first people to breach the ban on using Twitter was the Turkish President.
We might have to start saying that there’s a Turkish variant of the Streisand Effect.
The Streisand effect is the phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely, usually facilitated by the Internet.
SO. There was the Happy Monday’s dancer Mark ‘Bez’ Berry kicking off his campaign to run for Parliament by joining the Barton Moss anti-fracking site, Manchester.
Bez, famous for winning Celebrity Big Brother, playing the maracas whilst white-and-not-drunk-in-a-Spanish-pub and being the subject of the line “Everyone thinks Bez has about two pounds of coke up his nose all the time and he’s on about eight E’s”, aims to “stir things up” in the Commons. His manifesto is concise:
“If you want to do something about things you’ve got to get into the corridors of power and take them on. If you’re voting for me, you’re voting as a protest about what’s happening in the world at the moment.”
It all seems impossible until you realise that the politician in Bez’s sights is the Labour MP Hazel Blears, a woman whose twin political ambitions are to be more irritating than Harriet Harman and to make Ed Balls look self-conscious. She’s half-way there.
Bez might just win…
THIS is the plaque Tony Benn placed illegally in a broom cupboard in Parliament, in memory of suffragette Emily Davison:
Photo: Murderer William Rutherford Benn, Great-Uncle of Politician Tony Benn And Margaret Rutherford’s Dad
FLASHBACK to 14/09/1983:
William Rutherford Benn, great-uncle of politician Tony Benn and father of the actress, the late Margaret Rutherford. A graphic account of how Tony Benn’s ancestor murdered his own father, twice attempted suicide, and years later died in an asylum is recorded in a new book to be published by W.H. Allen. The story is related in great detail in “Y Tony Benn- The Making of a Politician”, by Alfred Browne, Weekend Editor of Press Association.
William Rutherford Benn murdered his father, the Reverend Julius Benn, a Congregational church minister, by bludgeoning him to death with a Worcester Spode chamberpot.
FLASHBACK to 19/06/57.
Tony Benn decorating the Labour Party offices at St. George, Bristol.
LEADER of Camden Council @Sarah_Hayward’s excellent one word response to a question about twitter use.
Councillor Paul Braithwaite (LD):
Given the gravity of the role of Leader of Camden Council, will the Leader consider creating a separate Twitter account for matters relating to Camden as separate from reporting on her personal interests in Arsenal, the X Factor, restaurants and dishes she’s enjoyed and B-movies she watches on TV, which represents circa 80% of her 21,800 tweets?
Sarah Hayward (Lab):
THIS is excellent news really, that the CIA has been spying on the people in the Senate over in the US. OK, in one sense it’s a bit naughty as the CIA isn’t supposed to ever do anything domestically. And the Yanks also tend to frown a bit on one part of the Executive part of government trying to interfere with a part of the Legislative side of government. They’re supposed to be quite different. But this can still be seen as cheering news:
A bitter dispute between the CIA and the U.S. Senate committee that oversees it burst into the open on Tuesday when the committee chairwoman accused the agency of spying on Congress and possibly breaking the law.
Veteran Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein said the CIA had searched computers used by committee staffers examining CIA documents when researching the agency’s counter-terrorism operations and its use of harsh interrogation methods such as simulated drowning or “waterboarding.”
Failed political photo-ops
DAVID Cameron is facing ridicule once again. His latest gaffe was to tweet a picture of himself looking serious and statesmanlike while having a serious statesmanlike phone call with Barak Obama. The problem, aside from the typically patronising pomposity of the gesture, was that he looked singularly un-statesmanlike. In fact, he resembled nothing do much as a perplexed pudding.
Of course, he has plenty of competition in the failed phot-op stakes.
Here’s George Osborne, Chancellor and Chelsea fan, in ‘man of the people’ pose, manfully working late while snacking on a burger and fries. His tweet backfired when said burger was identified as coming from posh nosh joint Byron.
Oh, hello! Talking of burgers…
Hey presto – instant ridicule. What a Gummer.
But frankfurters are even more risky. Republican Presidential nominee Michele Bachmann has been dubbed Palin 2.0 thanks to her numerous factual and logical gaffes. On this occasion, however, she was guilty of nothing more than innocent naivety, and chomped on a corn dog in full view of the press without considering the consequences.
Best to stick with a beer. In Nigel Farrage’s case almost literally so, as he clings to his pint prop as tenaciously as Tony Blair clung to his ubiquitous ‘ordinary guy’ coffee mug. Asked about it, he replied: ‘I’ll tell you something. I work an 18 hour day most days and I think I’m entitled at lunchtime to a pint.’
William Hague famously claimed to have regularly drunk 14 pints a day as a schoolboy, and he wasn’t averse to being pictured pint-pot in hand. But his most risible moment was this fashion faux pas which was intended to make him look cool, but didn’t.
Even without the banana, David Miliband achieves the extraordinary feat of making his brother look normal.
But what the hell – normal’s overrated, right? Just ask Francois Hollande. Actually don’t ask him, as he appears to be a bit sensitive about it. In fact, two French press agencies even took the unusual step of withdrawing this unflattering portrait of the French president.
Ask former US Congressman Chris Lee instead. Or better still, just admire this picture of himself that he utilised in the services of his reply to a sex ad on Craigslist.
Of course anyone can have an off-day. But for one man, it happened to be Groundhog Day.
In the end, you just have to laugh along and rise above it.
IN 1978, there was an infestation of mice in Jimmy Carter’s White House:
ON February 28 1986: Swedish prime minister Olof Palme was assassinated on a Stockholm street.
THIS is what George Washington drank at his leaving do:
…we still have available the list of beverages served at a 1787 farewell party in Philadelphia for George Washington just days before the framers signed off on the Constitution. According to the bill preserved from the evening, the 55 attendees drank 54 bottles of Madeira, 60 bottles of claret, eight of whiskey, 22 of porter, eight of hard cider, 12 of beer, and seven bowls of alcoholic punch.
That’s more than two bottles of fruit of the vine, plus a number of shots and a lot of punch and beer, for every delegate. That seems humanly impossible to modern Americans. But, you see, across the country during the Colonial era, the average American consumed many times as much beverage alcohol as contemporary Americans do. Getting drunk—but not losing control—was simply socially accepted.
Chin-chin. Never trust a tea-totaller…
QUOTES of the week: Rebekah Brooks email about advice from Tony Blair re-hacking scandal:
1. Form an independent unit that has a outside junior council, ken macdonald, a great and good type, a serious forensic criminal barrister, internal counsel, proper fact checkers etc in it. Get them to investigate me and others and publish a hutton style report.
2. Publish part one of the report at same time as the police closes its inquiry and clear you and accept short comings and new solutions and process and part two when any trials are over.
3. Keep strong and definitely sleeping pills. Need to have clear heads and remember no rash short term solutions as they only give you long term headaches.
4. It will pass. Tough up.
CAN you own a headline? In response to Barack Obama meeting the Dalai Lama yesterday in White House, and China frowning on that chat, the Sun chimes:
Good to see that in the age of the internet pun-killing headline, some wit can get through the Google news sieve.
But how original is the headline?
Five Reasons Why Miley Cyrus Stuffs A Thong In Her Mouth And Simulates Oral Sex On A Bill Clinton Impersonator
QUESTIONS everyone born in the 1990s is asking:
Why does Miley Cyrus, in her current show, “stuff a thong in her mouth and simulate oral sex on a Bill Clinton impersonator”?
Is it because:
a) Bill Clinton was unable to be there in person.
Religious Arizona Business Owners Can Legally Refuse To Serve Gays, Jews, Satanists, Muslims And Other Christians
IT is now legal to refuse to serve gays in Arizona shops and hotels – but only if it offends your religious beliefs.
State senators voted Wednesday to let businesses refuse to serve gays based on owners’ “sincerely held” religious beliefs. The 17-13 vote along party lines, with Republicans in the majority, came after supporters defeated an attempt to extend existing employment laws that bar discrimination based on religion and race to also include sexual orientation.
Wow, indeed. Bigotry is ok so long as it complies with rules you believe in. We’re all religious now.
This is intolerance dressed up as equality.
Arizona’s Sen. Steve Yarbrough, R-Chandler explains:
“This bill is not about discrimination. It’s about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith.”
Yarborough is the Executive Director of the Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization. He was a co-founder and served on the school board for Valley Christian High School from 1981-2005.
Sen. Yarbrough leads a bipartisan group of legislators and citizen group leaders known as the Arizona Values Action Team which supports public policy that is pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, pro-school choice and pro-religious liberty.
He is not alone:
“We are trying to protect people’s religious liberties,” said Rep. Steve Montenegro, R-Litchfield Park. “We don’t want the government coming in and forcing somebody to act against their religious sacred faith beliefs or having to sell out if you are a small-business owner.”
As he notes, “it could soon be legal for Satanists to discriminate against Christians in Arizona.”
Thalidomide was marketed as the sedative that would alleviate morning sickness. It had been sold to unsuspecting pregnant women between 1958 and late 1961, when it was removed from the market following evidence it disrupted foetal development.
WHO is Barack Obama’s ‘Sub Par ‘artist decorating Santa Monica, Calif., with posters declaring President Obama to be “subpar” around a picture of the President using a gold club?
Obama has played 150 rounds of golf since winning the White House. Is that lot?
Anorak had long thought ‘I’m off to play golf’ a euphemism for much for fun times. But it turns out that Obama really does play actual golf. Odd. Where does he find time for the extra-marital shags, a drugs habit and other things we love in our elected leaders? Some reports tell us that Obama can take anything up to six hours to play a single round. This is reassuring. If golf is about escaping the home – which it entirely is – Obama is playing at the ideal speed.
HERE’S a video of real members of the US Congress saying Frank Underwood’s lines from House of Cards. Kevin Spacey’s character – a delicious US rendering of Ian Richardson’s Bafta Winning performance as Tory politician Francis Ewan Urquhart – epitomises the venal, self-serving, charismatic, survivalist politico.