Top news from The Times, Daily Telegraph, The Indepedent and The Guardian newspapers
The papers all lead with Harry and Meghan’s meeting with his grandma, the Queen. But what kind of picture will sum up the news that she says they can settle in Canada?
The Metro and Telegraph lead with an image of familial love. Although with Her Majesty’s “reluctance” to agree to the Sussex’s resignation to the fore, the Telegraph’s kiss has a Mafia feel.
The Sun shows a beaming Harry and Meghan waving us a cheerio – she turning her back on being an also-ran in the Princess Anne brood mare stakes; he eschewing the chance to be the next Prince Eddie or Andy. The Queen is stoic.
There are three people in this relationship – and only one of them is happy on the Express’s cover. Harry has the mien of a London estate agent wondering about his bonus; the Queen looks fierce; Meghan is chuffed to bits. The Guardian also shows only one of them smiling – Meghan.
The Mail can’t bare to look at the couple’s faces as they upset the matriarch. They can go. They are no longer relevant. And you can read about their irrelevancy over eight pages.
The Times opts for an image of Prince William’s chin and mouth. He is tight-lipped. “Defender,” says the legend on his car. Wills is the big winner here. Harry and Meghan can flog perfumes and a range of Canadian products: weed, syrup and wood. But it will be Wills who gets to see his head on coins and stamps in the coming years. He gets the real money.
And the Star? It goes for three puns.
Next up: will Meghan play herself in The Crown? And can a chocolate teapot ever really replace Harry?
Writers for Australia’s Herald Sun can boost their pay by turning their stories into sponsored posts and marketing campaigns. Writers can earn between $10 and $50 for, as the Guardian puts it, “driving digital subscriptions and traffic through their own stories”.
Journalists are engaged in something akin to a popularity contest. Nothing new in that, of course. Columnists have long been hired to keep readers reading. It’s why they’re often their views are front-page news. The new bit is that analytics can measure who readers read the most and are willing to pay to read. The writer can then get their dues.
The News Corp system, called Verity, “empowers our editors, newsrooms and content promoters with real-time information to understand and influence the content for which our audiences are willing to ‘pay & stay’”.
According to Nathaniel Bane, the title’s head of digital, the number crunchers “know how many subscribers viewed it, how many times it was shared on social media, how many clicks it drove to other content, and how long readers dwelled on it.”
If you’ve a large social media following, a column in a paper could be the best way to cash in on it. (I have 650,000 followers – call me, I have ideas.)
So much for the strongest links in the news chain. What of the weakest? The Guardian has that covered:
The Labour antisemitism “crisis” – which isn’t – appears on just one front page. The Daily Telegraph leads with the “Labour antisemitism crisis”. But not one of the Corbyn cronies running Labour thinks Jew hatred in it ranks is a crisis. They see it as an issue, bigger than dog poo on the pavements but smaller than getting the trains to run on time and keeping Diane Abbott off the telly.
At a recent meeting of the Labour party – one so important that the party’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, didn’t bother to attend; and neither did Labour General Secretary Jennie Formby, who instead wrote a letter saying how she thinks Jew hatred is wrong. She says that as a result of hundreds of instances of antisemitism in the party – some of which were probably investigated by a crack team of party loyalists [insert small number here] – 12 members were kicked out. Kick out JC’s apostles. Raus! To the trains!
PS: Odd that the only national newspaper at the vanguard of sticking up for Jews caught once again in the maw of rising antisemitism is the Telegraph. This is how the paper responded to one recent complaint:
This article [HYPERLINKED] of 26 September published in Telegraph Travel originally stated that only Cuba, North Korea and Iran do not have a central bank owned or controlled by the Rothschild family. We accept that this is an anti-Semitic trope, although it was not included by the writer with anti-Semitic intent. We obviously accept that it was inaccurate and offensive, however, and we are very sorry that it found its way into our output. It has been redacted from the article.
Antisemitism – you’re never more than a click away from the stuff.
The injunctions are dead. Sir Philip Green wanted the law to prevent the Daily Telegraph from revealing details of alleged sexual and racial abuse against him. Today the paper leads with allegations that the fashion mogul paid five staff members of staff at his Arcadia Group money to keep shtum. One female employee was allegedly paid more than £1m to keep quiet after she accused him of kissing and groping her. All five signed non-disclosure agreements (NDA) stating they would not repeat their allegations.
Green denies allegations he behaved wrongly. His lawyers argue he was a “passionate businessman” who “can at times be exuberant and hot-headed”. Green “categorically denies any unlawful… sexual behaviour”. He also denied any “unlawful… racist behaviour”.
The Daily Mail looks at Green’s legal bill. He has, says the paper, “started a new war with accusers”. They should honour the NDAs or face “further legal actions and significant losses”.
Sir Philip said the law “recognised that the signatories to the non-disclosure agreements have ongoing obligations to honour those agreements, which they entered into willingly after receiving full independent legal advice about their rights and responsibilities”.
The BBC outlines the claims:
A female employee received more than £1m after Sir Philip groped her, kissed her, called her a “naughty girl” and made comments about her weight
A black male employee received £1m after Sir Philip mocked his dreadlocks and suggested he was “throwing spears in the jungle”
A female employee received hundreds of thousands of pounds after Sir Philip sexually harassed her and grabbed her face
A female employee received hundreds of thousands of pounds after Sir Philip put her in a headlock and groped her waist
A male employee left his role with one month’s pay shortly after Sir Philip smashed his mobile phone
The Telegraph is gunning for Green. Will other leading businessmen and figures – say, Royals – get the same attention?
One day after the Meaningful Vote and the newspapers are going for Jeremy Corbyn, aka Plan B:
Leading Brexiteeer and Tory MP Michael Gove ticks off Corbyn’s faults – well some of them:
The cross party talks to reach a Brexit deal so far: Labour won’t talk to the Tories; the Tories will only listen to the DUP; the Lib Dems want to do it all over again with a 2nd referendum; and the SNP want the UK to stay in the Union so it can, er, best leave the Union. Such are the facts.
Jemima Lewis is the Daily Telegraph’s radio critic and columnist. Jemima Khan isn’t. The Daily Telegraph is no longer sub-edited in house. Not that you’d notice…
A “gunman” shot three people dead and injured 12 others at Strasbourg’s Christmas market. The Guardian says gunman is “a 29-year-old born in Strasbourg”. And that is all. Any idea why he did it? One day on and the paper tells us the wanted man is what the French call “gangster-jihadists”. His name is Chérif Chekatt. He is from a family “with Moroccan roots”. He moved into “Islamic extremism”. What else do we know?
Disappointing to see BBC and Sky News lead with “Allahu Akbar” in their headline on the awful shooting in #Strasbourg vs. ITV and Al Jazeera who are being far more responsible.
This matters and it’s wrong. pic.twitter.com/62rEDMVbdq
— Miqdaad Versi (@miqdaad) December 12, 2018
At what point do you report that the suspect is an Islamist?
The Express makes it plain on its page 2, the headline reads: “Massive hunt for Islamist who shot three dead.” He’s a career criminal (paragraph 1) and “radical Islamist” (paragraph 2). He is “of Algerian descent”. Not Moroccan? Or is it all the same – British, Irish, German – all much of a muchness? Another report tells us Islamic State terrorists target shoppers, including those in Britain.
The Mirror features the story on page 11. The headline tells of the “gunman who killed two”. He is an Islamic terrorist (paragraph 1). He “screamed Allahu Akbar” before opening fire (paragraph 3). Again we read of the fear that Islamic State supporters will attack shoppers in the UK. The threat is ranked as “severe”. what he said and why he said it appears to be relevant.
The Sun calls Chekatt a “French terror fiend” He is a “butcher”. We read that he yelled Alluahu Akbar in paragraph 5. He is of “Algerian decent”. He’s been jailed in Free, Germany and Switzerland.
The Daily Mail calls him the ‘Xmas killer”. In paragraph 5 we learn that Allah Akbar man ‘god is great’ in Arabic. Only the Mail mentions the victims. One is a Thai tourist called Anupong Suebsamarn. We’re told Chekatt “was radicalised in a French jail”. But we don’t know that to be true. The Mail then adds a touch of Brexit, noting, “Free movement rules mean he would not have to show a passport” if he closed the border into Germany. The paper says Cherkatt’s parents are Algerian. At no point does the Mail use the words Islam, Muslim or Islamist or Islamism. Chekatt’s religion is not mentioned.
In “Strasbourg shooting: What we know so far”, the BBC refers to Chekatt as a “gunman”. It is only in paragraph 7 we get a possible motive: “Along the way he opened fire several times and also used a knife to seriously wound and kill people, Mr Heitz added, saying the suspect yelled “Allahu Akbar” (“God is greatest” in Arabic) during the rampage.” His religion is not mentioned.
The Telegraph finds space to add: “Investigators are trying to establish whether Mr Chekatt travelled to Syria or Iraq to join an Islamist group, or whether he was radicalised entirely in France, according to sources close to the case.”
Such are the facts.
Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong, 21, wants to play for PSG. He prefers the French champions elect over Manchester City. So he’ll head to France this summer sats the BBC. This is same BBC that told us Manchester City had agreed a £61m transfer, pipping Barcelona to his signature. The Sun says it’s his “dream” to play for Barcelona. Confusion reigns, then over the player who is talking about as being every bit as good as – get this – Johan Cruyff, and in a single Guardian article: Franz Beckenbauer, Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard. Yeah, he’s that good.
And he’s off to play for Manchester City (if you read the BBC and the Mirror; the Sun said the deal was done) and PSG (if you read the BBC and Dutch newspaper De Telegraph). The Dutch paper says PSG will pay 75m euros (£67m) to sign the Netherlands international. It’s almost a done deal. That tells us how much the great Cruyff would be worth in today’s transfer market. He’s a bargain.
So he’s off, then? No. “No official decision has been taken and while there is no transfer, my main focus is on Ajax,” says De Jong. “There are five games to go until the winter break, I only want to think about the game against PEC this weekend and the next Champions League match against Bayern Munich. I can’t be worried about saying ‘I’m going here or there’. That wouldn’t show any respect on my part for Ajax or my team-mates.”
In other news, the Mirror today says Spurs want him. No word on Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Real Madrid wanting De Jong, but give it time…
Meet Carl Beech. You know him by his nom-de-plume ‘Nick’, the man who claimed child murdering VIP paedophiles were operating with impunity in and around Westminster. The Times “revealed” Mr Beech has been an “ex‑school governor” – you know, one of those adults who actually enjoy playing at schools. It was Nick who told us, often via the Daily Mirror’s titles, about pedophile “rings” – child sex abusers always appear in ‘rings’ because it satisfies our love for a conspiracy. Anyhow, Nick, sorry, Carl’s not in the news because he’s a dad of one “who formerly lived with his mother” (spoiler: most of us did), is “a Church of England priest” and worked as an NHS nurse, rather the 50-year-old whose claims triggered Scotland Yard to launch Operation Midland is being tested in court. Mr Beech, faces 12 charges of perverting the course of justice and one of fraud after the collapse of one of the Metropolitan Police’s most prominent inquiries. We know his real name because yesterday a judge at Newcastle Crown Court lifted an anonymity order.
He is accused of profiting from alleged lies about murder, abuse and torture by fraudulently claiming £22,000 from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. His identity can be revealed after legal restrictions were lifted… Mr Beech is accused of deceiving detectives over four years with false claims of a historical paedophile ring made up of senior politicians, military members and other prominent figures.
On the word of Nick, a desperate Scotland Yard blew £2.5 million (in the Sun it rises to £3m) on an inquiry that besmirched Lord Bramall, 94, a former chief of the defence staff, and Harvey Proctor, 71, a former Conservative MP. Both are entirely innocent. Two other former top Tories, Sir Edward Heath and Lord Brittan of Spennithorne, are also innocent. Although they’re dead – and one thing we know about corpses is that they unlikely to defend themselves and mud sticks.
Like former PM Heath, Operation Midland is also dead. Sir Richard Henriques, a retired High Court judge, read the bilge and told us that it was “littered with errors”. Of course, if you love a conspiracy, well, it was all to be expected. Better to equip the police with flaming torches and thumb screws.
For someone once so verbose, Mr Beech spoke only once in the dock. He answered “I am” when asked whether he was Carl Beech. the court will see him again on February 11 for a pre-trial hearings.
You might suppose the Mirror and its sister title The People would be all over this story. You’d be mistaken. There is a ‘Nick’ on the paper’s front page. But it’s TV presenter Nick Knowles now appearing in ITV’s I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! The otherNick – Carl Beech – is nowhere. Not a word. Nothing.
Not that the Sun goes large on Nick. He’s on page 22 and 23. The Mail slaps ‘Nick’ all over Page 5. Beech’s barrister tells us: “We expect the matter will be fully contested.” It’d be useful, too, if the role of the police was investigated. Why did they follow up Mr Beech’s claims with such gusto?
A coup for the Premier League, then, should Ousmane Dembélé move from Barcelona to Arsenal or Liverpool. The 21-year-old Frenchman remains a prized and coveted talent. He could be great. He might even prove to be worth the huge fee Barcelona paid Borussia Dortmund for his services. But there are problems. Marca reports the player is being sued for leaving a rented house in a mess. AS, another Spanish news outlet, talks of Dembélé’s having a “gaming disorder”. A Barcelona teammate says he is “always late for training”. You wonder if anyone is looking out for Dembélé or just his money. His career is one shaped by one thing: greed, says Barney Ronay. He writes:
It is 15 months now since Dembélé was plucked out and beamed down at the Camp Nou for a fee close to £100m. Since when he has played 90 minutes just four times and scored 10 goals. Information from Football Leaks tells us Dembélé has been paid £15m in basic wages in this time, with £9m siphoned off to “intermediates”, transformed in not much more than a year from promising Rennes teenager to one-man sporting mega-industry.
So is he heading to Arsenal or Liverpool? The Gunners have made an offer to take him on loan with a right to buy. Liverpool are very interested. Barca say Dembele’s contract has a release clause of 400m euros (£369.6m). Seems fair. Chuck in a Playstation and it’s a deal.
You can read Boris Johnson’s thoughts in the Daily Telegraph. The Tory MP’s column earns him around £5,000 a week. The paper marks them as ‘Premium’ stories on its website. If you want to read them all you have to pay. Or you can read them on his Facebook page for free. This week, Johnson pitches himself on the side of girls. The article is entitled: “Put a sock in it men: It’s time to end the global injustices and bigotry towards women.” It’s the kind of article any newly single man whose been caught cheating on his long suffering wife, as Johnson allegedly has, will think a good way to pull the birds.
On Facebook, Johnson’s publishes the following for free:
When a mighty dam is about to burst it does not just collapse in one explosive roar; it first springs a leak. A jet of water shoots from the crack, and then another crack appears and another horizontal fountain of foam; and as the whole vast curtain of masonry finally begins to tremble the onlookers behold the valley beneath and wonder who and what will be in the path of the billions of pent-up gallons as they are released from their captivity.
That is roughly how it feels today as we watch these extraordinary feminist movements like #MeToo, and the frenzy surrounding the nomination of judge Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court. We have a sense of the welling emotion behind these phenomena. We feel the rage at decades, centuries, millennia of complacency and injustice. We see women and men uniting to call for a change of attitudes, for a new and progressive sensibility…
What can possibly have triggered Johnson’s fire? One clue comes via Private Eye, which notes that the Telegraph’s new digital MD is one Dora Michail. Her twitter profile includes a rainbow flag. And recent retweets and tweets give a clue to her agenda, which takes in ‘tackling discrimination and promoting gender equality with an intersectional approach’:
So there’s Boris Johnson’s column on his drive to tackle gender equality. Fee for the social justice warrior’s wisdom: £260,000 a year. In next week’s column Boris says: ‘Time to go, Theresa May, and give a bloke a chance…’
RIP Maurizio Zanfanti, aka Zanza, the Lothario from Rimini who has died aged 62. He succumbed to a heart attack, possibly brought on by exhaustion at having to tell every holidaymaker they were ‘bootifall zike therstars’. His obituary in the Daily Telegraph is memorable. They say he died during sex with a 23-year-old tourist (Sun) or was she 25 (Telegraph)?
He died of a heart attack at around two in the morning in his Mitsubishi Pajero 4×4, parked in a small peach grove owned by his family, seconds after making love with a 25-year-old Romanian woman, who raised the alarm.
There are plans to erect a statue in his honour.
Boris Johnson wants to lead the Tory Party and become Prime Minister. Theresa May is blocking his ambitions. It’s “war”. But is it a fair fight in the media? No:
Does it matter? Well, yes. Insults and ad hominem attacks are part of the debate. Words colour the argument. The persuadable onlookers can be swayed by words. So here’s Boris – a man we’re on fist-name terms with; he’s our pal – and May, not Theresa – an aloof presence.
Sir – and Madam – I read with interest the letter penned by Johnny Cameron, Fyfield, Wiltshire. It appeared in The Spectator (April , 2018). It might be the most quintessentially British story of the year:
Sir: Following Toby Young’s article on funerals and the letter last week, I thought you might like to hear another example of British phlegm. My stepson, who is now a successful theatre director, was an assistant at Chichester Theatre. The audience tends to be predominantly pensioners. A few years ago when he was closing up the theatre, he noticed two people still in their seats. When he approached them the lady was very apologetic. ‘I think my husband died in the first act,’ she said, ‘but we didn’t want to cause a fuss.’ He was indeed declared dead on arrival at the hospital, and my stepson could not but admire her stoicism. I particularly admired the fact that she thought ‘we’ didn’t want to cause a fuss.
Johnny Cameron Fyfield, Wiltshire
Great letter. But is it true? In the 2016 book Stop the World, I Want to Get Off…: Unpublished Letters to the Telegraph, we read another letter from Johnny Cameron Fyfield:
Sir – I read with interest [in your review of Dan Jones’ book about King John] the views of Richard of Devizes following a visit to London in the 12th century. Apparently it was full of “actors, jesters, smooth-skinned lads, Moors, flatterers, pretty boys, effeminates, singing and dancing girls, quacks, beggars and buffoons”. I visited London last week …..
Johnny Cameron, Fyfield, Wilts.
You out there, Mr Cameron?
Anyone who has ever written an email to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg should check their inbox. A report on Techcrunch claims Zuckenburg’s messages have vanished. Their own replies and missives were intact – but all of his words had gone. Erased down the memory hole?
So will Facebook extend the same courtesy to you? Don’t bet on it. Apparently, when Facebook claimed any private videos uploaded by users would vanish on the users’ request, instead Facebook “permanently retained these videos”. Who owns your photos and videos?
Is it all matter of, if you think Big Tech is taking you for fool, it’s taking you for fool? Facebook is a bit of fun, a distraction from the stress and joys of real like. You can tun it off of ignore it. Many are.
Facebook now says that it plans to launch an “unsend” feature for Facebook messages to all users in the next several months, and won’t let Mark Zuckerberg use that feature any more until it launches for everyone. One option Facebook is considering for the Unsend feature is an expiration timer users could set. But it’s alarming that Facebook didn’t disclose the retractions or plans for a Unsend button until forced, and scrambling to give everyone the feature seems like an effort to quiet users’ anger over the situation
Facebook is mired. But let’s not be hypocritical.
Around its story “‘Utterly horrifying’: ex-Facebook insider says covert data harvesting as routine”, the Guardian is operating not one but three trackers, including Doubleclick (it gathers data for Google ads to target you with stuff), Scorecard Research Beacon. What it does you can read about on the Guardian:
…it has “approximately two million worldwide consumers under continuous measurement”…
the cookie may be used to observe certain types of browsing behaviours, which are then combined with other browser data to give a picture of what people are likely to do when they surf the web. The data obtained through ScorecardResearch cookies is kept for up to 90 days. When it is aggregated to observe trends, it may be used for analytical purposes indefinitely.
And – get this – the Guardian story also uses Facebook Custom Audience, which once all the user data has been harvested and stored can:
Do all Guardian readers know?
The Guardian has a few words on the Russian State-funded trolls accused of swinging the 2016 US Presidential election from Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump. Russia saw in Trump, so the allegation follows, a better chance to grow and protect its monocular, illiberal interests.
The Russian regime often looks guiltier than a dog stood by a pile of poo. When the Russian PR machine talks, you’d be wise to hold your nose. It’s a steady stream of bull-made effluent. And it makes you wonder why Russia’s tosh has been imbibed with such power. Did Russian bots and spods really win it for Trump, boost Bernie Sanders and root for the Green Party’s Jill Stein? Is its propaganda so much more effective than the stuff seeping from Western regimes? And why does any of it matter?
The Cold War was won. But look out – the Ruskies have moved on from invasion and armed global socialism to a fearsome social media strategy. They might not be able to hack United States military supercomputers and trigger World War III, but they’ve got some terrific gossip about Clinton having had on-the-clock sex with Trump on a yellowy waterbed as Saddam Hussein drummed out Back in the USSR on Bono’s buttocks. (That was the rumour, right? If not, Oleg, call me, I have ideas and hashtags.) Whatever the truth, mentally-negligible Mary-Sue in a swing state bought it.
The Guardian tell us:
It was from American political activists that they [Russian trolls] received the advice to target “purple” swing states, something that was essential to the ultimate success of the campaign.
Well, quite. You target the area where you can have most effect. You know, like the, er, Guardian did:
To maximise the likelihood of your efforts making a difference, we’ve zeroed in on one of the places where this year’s election truly will be decided: Clark County, Ohio, which is balanced on a razor’s edge between Republicans and Democrats. In the 2000 election, Al Gore won Clark County by 1% – equivalent to 324 votes – but George Bush won the state as a whole by just four percentage points. This time round, Ohio is one of the most crucial swing states: Kerry and Bush have been campaigning there tire lessly – they’ve visited Clark County itself – and the most recent Ohio poll shows, once again, a 1% difference between the two of them. The voters we will target in our letter-writing initiative are all Clark County residents, and they are all registered independents, which somewhat increases the chances of their being persuadable.
Before Twitter, there was the Guardian’s interventionism. Called Operation Clark County, the paper wanted to “help readers have a say in the American election by writing to undecided voters in the crucial state of Ohio”.
Here was one reaction from the mouth-breathing colonials:
KEEP YOUR FUCKIN’ LIMEY HANDS OFF OUR ELECTION. HEY, SHITHEADS, REMEMBER THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR? REMEMBER THE WAR OF 1812? WE DIDN’T WANT YOU, OR YOUR POLITICS HERE, THAT’S WHY WE KICKED YOUR ASSES OUT. FOR THE 47% OF YOU WHO DON’T WANT PRESIDENT BUSH, I SAY THIS … TOUGH SHIT!
PROUD AMERICAN VOTING FOR BUSH!
How the modern Left loves democracy. You can intervene if is means sneaking the demos the right answer to the big question. Noble Obama telling us a vote for Brexit would put us to the back of the queue and helpful Bill Clinton backing Boris Yeltsin with $1bn of aid are great. But a Russian nerd in an out-of-town office tweeting bollocks is a threat to democracy – something so precious that its champions call everyone who voted for Trump and Brexit thick as custard.
So much for confidence in democracy. Because that’s it, no? It’s not about Russian might. It’s about us thinking our way of life is so precarious that a few rogue propagandists can destroy it with a tweet.
Oxfam’s chief executive Mark Goldring has been talking to the Guardian. The paper says the mood at Oxfam is one akin to a “sudden bereavement” – much like Haitians felt when 200,000 of them were killed in an earthquake, or worse?
Oxfam staff are “close to tears”. Goldring “hasn’t slept for six nights and he looks stricken,” we’re told. Anyone wondering why Goldring chose to speak with the Guardian and not, say the Daily Mail or Times, which broke the story of Oxfam’s alleged laissez-faire attitude to criminality and sexual exploitation by its staff? This is less interview than PR.
Goldring was “justifiably fretting that his words would be wilfully twisted to do Oxfam yet more damage”. But here he is in the Guardian, a man in mourning wondering if the inheritance tax and death duties will damage the brand. He complains of being “savaged” in the media, his words “manipulated”. No danger of that in the Guardian, which sees good in the simple act of a grown man at the top of powerful multi-million pound organisation – last year’s income: £408.6 million – talking “alone, unchaperoned by press officers” – one of the 20 full-time press officers the Times says are on Oxfam’s books. He is “unguarded and candid. The impression I form is of someone telling the truth: if Goldring has been guilty of anything, I think it might be naivety about the vulnerability of almost any organisation in the febrile public mood of distrust.”
It’s not so much about Oxfam lying and covering up alleged criminality and exploiting the bereft and genuinely bereaved, allowing staffers to leave without a stain on their CVs and thus best able to secure other jobs at other aid organisations, which some did, it’s about you. Asked why Oxfam lied and covered up immoral behaviour by some of its staff, Goldring offers:
“That was wrong. I believe it was done in good faith to try to balance being transparent and protecting Oxfam’s work. I don’t think [Oxfam] wanted to promote a sensation and damage the delivery of [the Haiti] programme. With hindsight, we should have said more. I’ve been clear about that since this broke. But if Oxfam’s business is to help save lives, if your organisation is there to actually help make the world a better place, I can see why people thought this was the right thing to do.”
It’s you they don’t trust, you judgemental sods who give so generously to Oxfam. It’s about ring-fencing your giving from people who don’t have the best of intentions. It might be about the Haitians, but don’t worry about them. Just give. Oxfam will decide what they need.
“The intensity and the ferocity of the attack makes you wonder, what did we do? We murdered babies in their cots? Certainly, the scale and the intensity of the attacks feels out of proportion to the level of culpability. I struggle to understand it. You think: ‘My God, there’s something going on there.’”
He is then invited to go on the attack. The Guardian leads him to the escape hatch and kicks it open:
Is it that political opponents of international aid – the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg and Priti Patel – are exploiting Oxfam’s crisis? He hesitates.
Are leading Tories the problem here? Goldring dismisses the idea out of hand, saying that it’d be a sick irony to present Oxfam as the victims of an opportunist, self-serving elite. No, of course not. He says:
“Others are better to judge whether that’s right or wrong. I don’t think it’s right for Oxfam to say that at the moment, because even that feels self-serving. What I’m really concerned about is that this is not used as an approach to attack aid.” But it already is. “Yes. It is.”
Good job it’s not about first world westerners, the rich, saintly and knowing, riding in to save the hapless, perpetually needy Third Worlders from starvation and poverty by telling them how many babies to have, that Fairtrade is better than GM, that to live ‘ethically’ is ideal, water is best when it comes not from pipes by from wells dug by Prince William, and if they’re lucky a celebrity coloniser will adopt one of them. Good job it’s not about the vain and well off controlling the impoverished and using them to show off their own moral goodness. It’s not about them. It’s all about us. Charity, after all, begins at home…
No sooner has John McDonnell outlined his ambition to renationalise energy, rail and water than news reaches us of a shortfall. The Guardian notes:
Transport for London (TfL) has insisted it is not facing a financial crisis despite planning for a near £1bn deficit next year after a surprise fall in passenger numbers.
Mr McDonnell told BBC Radio 4’s Today earlier:
“It would be cost free. You borrow to buy an asset and when that asset is producing profits like the water industry does, that will cover your borrowing cost.”
The assets make the profits. The profits pay the bills. What about if people alter their behaviour?
He went on:
“We aren’t going to take back control of these industries in order to put them into the hands of a remote bureaucracy, but to put them into the hands of all of you – so that they can never again be taken away.”
But bureaucrats will still run the entity, albeit ones appointed by the State, right? Who are they accountable to? How does anyone get redress for poor service? Is McDonnell seeking to serve taxpayers best or just tying to give meaning, direction and authority to the State?
“Public ownership is not just a political decision, it’s an economic necessity. We’ll move away from the failed privatisation model of the past, developing new democratic forms of ownership, joining other countries, regions and cities across the world in taking control of our essential services.”
So you take over the London Underground, and budget accordingly. And then there’s a £1bn deficit. Which means..? As Ronald Reagan put it in 1986: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”
But business has never been independent of the State. What of PPI, regulation and subsidies, which rather dampen the idea that immense profits are being made? (In 2006-7, the Government spent £6.8 billion of public money in the the privatised rail industry – around half what it cost to run the entire thing.) What of Government calls for curbs on executive pay and vows to “fix the broken housing market”? So much for the free market.
Tony Blair told us “Stability can be a sexy thing”. Theresa May wants to be “strong and stable”. They seek to maintain the status quo. Doesn’t that add up to the established businesses and their links to Government rolling on and on and not entrepreneurship, the best of which is often triggered by volatility and daring?
McDonnell’s monocular and forgetful call for re-nationalisation has not come out of the blue. It’s just an addendum to current and recent Government policy and a crisis of purpose.
The Times has news on car insurance, a tax that can be prohibitively expensive. Well, yes, of course it is – that’s one of the points of it, no, to link risk to wealth? James Daley asks:
The industry’s defence will always be that their prices are based purely on the data. While it may be true that customers who describe themselves as unemployed have more car accidents than people who describe themselves as homemakers, is it really fair to differentiate between those groups?
More reaction to Liverpool’s 2-2 draw with Spurs. No VAR was used in the match, which featured two penalties for Spurs. It might have been three pens had the referee not spotted that Dele Alli dived. Liverpool were aggrieved by the decisions. Spurs were elated. Would VAR have helped? Well, that depends on which referee is sat in a sealed box reviewing the action on the telly.
NO pens says retired ref Mark Halsey in the Sun:
“HARRY KANE was in an offside position for the first penalty. Yes, the ball has come off Dejan Lovren before falling to Kane, but the Liverpool defender has tried to clear the ball knowing that Kane is behind him – and not knowing if the Spurs striker is offside or not. So Kane has clearly impacted on the Liverpool man, thus interfering with an opponent. The assistant should have flagged at this point so the Loris Karius foul is immaterial.”
YES pens says former ref Graham Poll in the Mail: “Assistant Eddie Smart got Tottenham’s penalty decisions spot-on… it topped a good afternoon for referee Jon Moss and his officials at Liverpool.”
Well done Eddie Smart. The assistant got involved in both penalty decisions and he was right to do so. For the first penalty, he called for Jon Moss because Harry Kane was in an offside position and Smart could not be clear whether a Liverpool player had touched the ball before the Tottenham striker was fouled.
They discussed the situation and Moss decided that Dejan Lovren had played the ball, which meant Kane was onside before being taken down by Loris Karius…
And then Smart persuaded the referee, deep into stoppage time, to award the second penalty to Spurs.
To the naked eye it looked as if Erik Lamela had dived. People who had seen it numerous times on TV replays could not be sure, but Smart was. And he was right.
YES pens says former ref Dermot Gallagher on Sky:
“In the debrief after the game, they’ll be told that they made the big, match-changing decisions correct on the day.”
NO pens says ref Mark Clattenburg on the Times:First penalty
Pen 1. Was it offside?
This should not have been a penalty because it was offside….Second penalty
This a tough decision. I believe that there is a suspicion of offside in the build up to the penalty. The ball is touched by Fernando Llorente and into Érik Lamela, who is fractionally offside in my opinion. As we have seen with VAR now, offside is a matter of fact and no benefit is given to the attacking team. Therefore, the penalty should not have been allowed. Once the offside is missed, It looks as though Virgil van Dijk goes to kick the ball and then tries to pull away his leg, but there is a still a bit of contact. It is a soft penalty, but not definitely a wrong call.
Clear as mud, then. Just the way we like it.
In the Times, an error is corrected in Philip Jacobson’s obituary:
Spot the differences between the “BBC women on the march” for equal pay and ‘Grid Girls’ women being told they can’t work at Formula One events. Clue: age and class.
First up, the women who know what’s best for themselves and all women. The women taking a stand for equal rights, more money, opportunity and the sisterhood:
The women told they don’t know what’s best for themselves and who don’t know their own minds, being presumably too thick and infected by misogyny to earn an honest living of their choosing. Thankfully, more intelligent and higher ranking women are here to lend these losers a steer.
And then this, in which the female expert in all things female schools two grown women no longer working the darts circuit in the right and wrong way to dress, earn money and conduct themselves. (Neither group is from the 70s – that’s the 1970s for the ‘babes’ and the 1870s for the bluestocking.)
About those BBC salaries – and overlooking the bit about you needing a bellend to get top whack at dear old Auntie – the Telegraph tells readers:
The BBC is under pressure to cut the salaries of “untouchable” male stars including Chris Evans and Gary Lineker, ahead of a report into the on-screen gender pay gap.
Only male stars? What about female big earners? We won’t know what everyone’s on because the very well-paid bureaucrats running the BBC – spending your money – operate what former BBC China editor Carrie Gracie called a “secretive and illegal pay culture”.
Women at the corporation questioned why the the pair are maintained on such exorbitant salaries – £1.75m for Lineker and at least £2.2 million for Evans.
Evans is seen as a versatile crowd pleaser. Lineker fronts the BBC’s Premier League football highlights show, Match of the Day – the only show terrestrial TV show broadcasting Premier League highlights. It could be presented by a masturbating gibbon and fans would still tune in. Any number of good journalists could do it for much less.
The BBC claims that it cannot cut the pay of entertainment and sports personalities as it has done for news presenters, because there is too much competition from Netflix, Amazon and BT.
So why not make a commitment to producing stuff the BBC’s rivals can’t or won’t? Netflix, Amazon and BT don’t do broadcast news. Let’s have more of that, then. And would you follow Lineker to an Amazon PL show? The BBC shuold give new blood a chance – investing in experimental and daring telly. If you can’t compete with private outfits, use the vast sums raked in through tax to play a new game.
You don’t need to share a big back of crisps of chocolates, you know, the small sacks of the stuff you can buy in cinema foyers. A friend of mine eschews the small packets and asks for the “fat bastard” popcorn bucket. He finds it just the right amount. But some people thinks he’s spending his money on too much nosh. They want a return to those halcyon says of less, when rationing was all the go. The Guardian says the country is gripped by an “obesity crisis” – which it isn’t – and wants us to listen to the uncharitable charity Action on Sugar, which is demanding a 20% sugar tax on all sugar-enriched confectionery.
The poor will pay more for their sugary treats. The better off and thick won’t much notice. (Unless they add a new tax to wine, which is full of sugar.)
AoS also wants a ban on supermarket deals for “sharing” bags of treats like M&Ms, Maltesers, Cadbury Dairy Milk and Giant Buttons. The stuff’s being made too cheap. People are buying too much. There is too much freedom.
Graham MacGregor, professor of cardiovascular medicine at Queen Mary University of London and chairman of Action on Sugar is outraged. “It is shocking that food companies are being allowed to exploit consumers by manipulating them into purchasing larger size bags of chocolate confectionery on the cheap,” he says. “Theresa May is letting companies get away with this despite pledging to help the socially deprived when she first became the prime minister. Companies must be held accountable and reminded to reconsider their ethical and corporate responsibility.”
It turns out you help the deprived by, er, depriving them of things they enjoy. And the easily manipulated should be manipulated not by Bertie Bassett but by anti-sugar campaigners. No money for a skiing holiday this year, but you’ve got a few quid for a big bag of Revels on the sofa in front of the telly. You get your pleasures where you can. But other people know what’s best for you. Step back from the Minstrels trough, fatso. Stop being chilled about your weight and diet. It’s panic stations time. (Call 0800TASTE4STRESS – Our therapists are waiting for your call.)
According to the data, the most sugary sharing bag is a pouch of Brookside Dark Chocolate Pomegranate (198g), which contains 29 teaspoons of sugar in one bag – “four times the maximum daily limit for adults”. Maximum limit? It’s not a limit that if exceeded causes you to overdose. It’s a recommendation.
The Guardian doesn’t mention the reply from the Industry body the Food and Drink Federation. “There is no substantive evidence that they make any meaningful difference to obesity,” it says. “Instead of demonising individual nutrients, products or categories we should instead be promoting balanced diets.”
They all agree on one thing: the purpose of life is health and longevity. So wrap you and yours in cotton wool, avoid all risk and take your five a day. It might not be fun. But at least you’ll be miserable for longer…
NEXT UP: The Pension crisis and people living longer than ever!
The news media is on no doubt which of Arsenal and Manchester United got the better deal when Alexis Sanchez moved to Old Trafford and Henrikh Mkhitaryan headed to London in a swap plus cash deal. Every back page leads with Sanchez:
There’s a lot of guff about how Sanchez did and didn’t move for the money – my view: so what if he did; it’s a job and his duty to get the best pay he can to perform it. Not every athlete can be like Tim Duncan, the San Antonio Spurs star who twice helped his club by accepting contracts for less than his market value. Most players listen to their agents. And if journalists and pundits want to look around football for mercenaries, they should lower their gaze toward the men in shiny tracksuits.
The other notable thing is that Sanchez is being marketed heavily from the off, with United posting a video of the Chilean playing a few bars of ‘Glory Glory’, a song I’d always associated with Tottenham Hotspur.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 22, 2018
Over at Arsenal, Arsene Wenger appraised his new player in unusual terms: “He’s a very complete player. He creates chances, he defends well, he can absorb distances and he’s very committed as well.”
The upshot is that both sides lose a player who were under performing and gain one who offers hope.