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Broadsheets | Anorak - Part 3

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Top news from The Times, Daily Telegraph, The Indepedent and The Guardian newspapers

The Daily Mail versus The Guardian: wrapping Nazis and eugenics in Paperchase guff

Have you boycotted Paperchase, sellers of printed stationery – yep, people really do still send letters (though not to Daily Mail readers who communicate by holding their noses and yelling into the wind)?  Hope not. Paperchase tried its best to shine a light into society’s darkest recess. It reached out to the Daily Mail’s  Untermensch readership, hoping that in offering them two free rolls of Christmas wrapping paper, they’d be put on the path to decency.

 

paperchase brexit

Paperchase – not fan of Brexit

 

But Stop Funding Hate thought Mail readers beyond salvation and bombarded Paperchase’s social media account with complaints. Paperchase didn’t rescind the offer, but did vow never again to reach down into the sewer. It was “truly sorry”. Some people are just not worth the effort. Wrapping paper is a not a right; it’s a moral choice. The tree gods gladly give up their own to wrap useful gifts like photos of Jeremy Corbyn, DVDs of The 100 Best Silences and the Pop-Up Book of Safe Spaces. But save for the odd Japanese knot weed and leylandii, no vegetation wants to be seen dead around the kind of stuff Mail readers buy at Christmas – jackboots, flaming torches and Jeremy Clarkson audio tapes.

Sarah Baxter tells Times readers Stop Funding Hate is interested in muzzling the Press. The group’s founder, Richard Wilson, ‘admitted on Newsnight that “the end point for us is a media that does the job we all want it to”.’ Which is? Baxter says it’s “suppressing the array of opinion reflected in the British press… Stop Funding Hate, however, has morphed into an arrogant group of hate-mongering activists who are outraged about an ever-expanding range of subjects”.

The idea is simple: starve the publication you don’t like of advertising money and watch it die. If this also deprives thick-as-custard people of reading the tabloids, all to the good. If those mouth-breathers can’t be banned from sharing views of the right-minded, their reading material must be censored. The caring Left knows best.

The Advertising Association is concerned, stating: “The UK has a free press and advertising plays a vital role in funding that. Pressure group lobbying of this kind has negative implications for our press freedom.” Advertising body Isba, warns: “We shouldn’t take for granted the freedom of the press.”

Over in the Guardian, which would surely be the only newspaper on the bottom shelf when the anti-haters have won the day, Peter Peston thunders:

Stop Funding Hate may legitimately urge Mail readers to quit (and Mail readers may, equally legitimately, examine the causes SFH espouses and make up their own minds). But trolling rather nervous companies such as Paperchase isn’t legitimate. It’s the thin end of a dangerous wedge – with no winners in sight, from left or right.

As last week’s Ipso complaints ruling on Trevor Kavanagh’s “The Muslim Problem” column for the Sun mordantly observes: “There is no clause in the editors’ code which prohibits publication of offensive content”. Nor should there be.

In the same paper, Stewart Lee writes beneath the headline: “My futile attempt to sell satire to the Daily Mail.” Well, the paper does employ the sublime Craig Brown, so maybe he’s enough? Guardian readers are told:

Usually, I am the sort of person who thinks that anyone who has ever worked for the Daily Mail is worse than Adolf Hitler, even the temps and the tea lady. And I’m not alone. So disgusted are youth voters by the repellent newspaper, it’s now clear that the Daily Mail’s increasingly hysterical attacks on Jeremy Corbyn, the coddled egg of British politics, may even have helped secure his triumphant loss in the last general election.

Worse than Hitler? Satire, right? Phew! And people not voting for Corbyn because the Mail told them, too? I thought it was about anti-Semitism. But, then, I’ve not been keeping up with the Guardian’s news on Jews and Jezza’ Labour Party, not since one of their columnists wrote in the Guardian: “I have developed a habit when confronted by letters to the editor in support of the Israeli government to look at the signature to see if the writer has a Jewish name. If so, I tend not to read it.”

I didn’t call for a boycott. And the sport pages are good. Boycotts are, after all, for censors and Nazis.

Lee also turns to the subject of Nazis, riffing on when the Mail hailed the blackshirts.

And a sepia-toned card of the first Viscount Rothermere, the paper’s 1930s proprietor, declares, in Daily Mail font, “I urge all British young men and women to study the Nazi regime in Germany. There is a clamorous campaign of denunciation against ‘Nazi atrocities’ which consist merely of a few isolated acts of violence, but which have been generalised, multiplied and exaggerated to give the impression that Nazi rule is a bloodthirsty tyranny. Congratulations on passing your driving test.”

Haha. Got one about the Guardian opposing the creation of the National Health Service as it feared the state provision of healthcare would “eliminate selective elimination”?

This is not to defend the Mail. It’s to highlight how censorship is formed by bigotry.

Owen Jones disagrees. He writes in the Guardian: “Paperchase rejecting the Daily Mail is another victory against hatred.” No, he’s not being ironic.

This paper, whose less than glorious history includes cheerleading for the Nazis and Oswald Mosley’s blackshirts, is one of the most vindictive bullies in Britain.

And the Guardian? The Spectator tells us that not all leading figures in the Left, including eugenicist George Bernard Shaw, minded tyranny. ( In March 1933 Shaw was a co-signatory to a letter in The Manchester Guardian protesting at the continuing misrepresentation of Soviet achievements: “No lie is too fantastic, no slander is too stale … for employment by the more reckless elements of the British press.”)

Malcolm Muggeridge, was initially supportive of the Soviet regime. But then he went to Moscow as a correspondent for the Manchester Guardian and learned about the Ukrainian famine. The Guardian censored his reports. The left was divided by the atrocities of the Soviet Union into honest, moral people and those who turned a blind eye.

Is this a row between newspapers: the Guardian in need of the Mail to showcase what it is not; the Mail and right-wing Press, doing much the same? The difference is, though, that only one side supports censorship.

Posted: 26th, November 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Key Posts, News, Tabloids, The Consumer | Comment


Lily Madigan: Labour, women and a terf war

Lily Madigan was once Liam Madigan. Lily is now the women’s officer for the Labour Party branch in Rochester and Strood in Kent. She’s been in the news before. In October 2016, “Brave Lily” (Kent Online)  received an apology from St Simon Stock Catholic School, Maidstone, for sending her home for “wearing the wrong uniform” and “preventing her from using the girls’ toilets and changing rooms”.

Said Lily, who threatened to sue the school: “I decided to come in dressed in the girls’ dress code, which basically meant I was wearing a top instead of a shirt. It made me feel so happy, until I was sent home.”

Lily, 19, was born male but identifies as a woman. The Times explains how her new job works:

Labour Party rules state that “the women’s officer must be a woman”.

Why? Can only women understand and represent women? Do you need to have been a girl to know womanhood?

Ms Madigan said it was “misguided” to suggest she could not fulfil the duties of the role, simply because she was born male.

That part at least sounds right.

Teresa Murray, Medway councillor and vice-chairwoman of the executive committee of Rochester and Strood CLP, says “Lily will have to work very hard to convince other people that her very presence there is not going to undermine them”. Adding: “Someone who is an accountant would probably make a better treasurer initially, but that doesn’t mean we should only give the role to an accountant.”

Accountants are born for the job, of course. It’s not something you can learn. It’s something in you. It defines you. You’re just built that way. Accounting is in the genes. But that’s not to say others don’t think accountancy more representative of their true selves. If they want to dress in grey suits, part their hair to the side and carry a briefcase, then that is their right.

Ella Whelan has more background:

Madigan hit the headlines after arguing that Anne Ruzylo, a Labour Party women’s officer in a different constituency, should be sacked for being ‘transphobic’. Ruzylo, a lesbian, feminist and trade unionist, had criticised the sanctification of the trans movement. For this, she was labelled a ‘terf’ (trans exclusionary radical feminist) and was harassed by transgender activists online. Eventually, the executive committee of Ruzylo’s local Labour branch resigned in protest at her mistreatment.

“I feel quite violated,” Ms Ruzylo told The Times. “I’ve worked as a trade unionist for 30 years and I’ve never been shut down in this way. It’s disgusting… Debate is not hate. If we can’t talk about gender laws and get shut down on that, what’s next? What else are we not allowed to talk about? We’re going back to the days of McCarthyism. It is disgraceful.”

“I don’t care if I get called a transphobe, says Whelan adds, “Lily Madigan is not a woman. At 19, he is barely even a man.”

Ouch.

One thing is certain: if you cannot express yourself, we are all the worse off for it.

PS:  The Times, which is on the Madigan beat, reports

The transgender teenager at the centre of a Labour Party row has applied for the Jo Cox Women in Leadership programme, angering and dismaying party members…

The leadership programme was started last year in memory of the murdered MP Jo Cox, with the specific aim of encouraging more women into politics.

Critics say that it defies the whole point of the scheme, which attracted more than 1,000 applications for 57 places in its first year, to include people who are biologically male or who have lived part of their lives as men.

What price equality?

“Women in the party are fuming,” said one Momentum activist who accused the leadership of quietly redefining the meaning of “woman” without consulting the membership.

Good grief.

Posted: 25th, November 2017 | In: Broadsheets, News, Politicians | Comment


The pay gap for women and trans is about parenthood not gender

Trans issues are to the fore. The Government is looking at altering the Gender Recognition Act 2004 (GRA), which would permit trans people to change their legal gender without a medical process. Right now the rules are that a diagnosis of gender dysphoria is needed to begin the process. People seeking to change gender have to submit evidence that they have been in transition for at least two years.

It’s not about society, manhood and womanhood. It’s about the individual and individual wellbeing. The BBC’s Jenni Murray got into bother by saying that trans women were not “real women”. Feeling yourself to be women is not the same as being one, she opined. Countering that is Shon Fay, who writes beneath the Guardian headline: “Trans women need access to rape and domestic violence services. Here’s why –  All women face similar dangers, whether trans or not, and it’s distressing that some people seek to drive a wedge between our rights.”

Growing up being perceived by others as a feminine gay boy certainly wasn’t easy, but once I transitioned, in my 20s, things radically changed. The flashes of misogyny I witnessed when I was younger are now, as they are for most women, a daily reality. Some of this is banal – like the men on dating websites who call me a “stuck-up bitch” or a “desperate slag” when I turn them down. Some is more structural: when I get into my 30s, the gender pay gap will widen and I will find myself on the “wrong” side of it.

Maybe not.

Vox reported:

The data tells us that this can’t be the entire story. It can’t explain why the wage gap is so much bigger for those with kids than those without. One 2015 study found that childless, unmarried women earn 96 cents for every dollar a man earns.

Which man? Because dad get more:

One of the worst career moves a woman can make is to have children. Mothers are less likely to be hired for jobs, to be perceived as competent at work or to be paid as much as their male colleagues with the same qualifications.

For men, meanwhile, having a child is good for their careers. They are more likely to be hired than childless men, and tend to be paid more after they have children.

These differences persist even after controlling for factors like the hours people work, the types of jobs they choose and the salaries of their spouses. So the disparity is not because mothers actually become less productive employees and fathers work harder when they become parents — but because employers expect them to.

Economist Claudia Goldin suggests more:

Many companies still richly reward people who are available and work long, continuous hours, Goldin says. They give premium pay to certain key players – mostly men who don’t take time off for children or aging relatives. So women or men who need flexible schedules obtain them “at a high price, particularly in the corporate, finance and legal worlds,” Goldin writes in her paper. Technology and science fields are better off in pay equity, as are certain health care careers. … “It isn’t, quote, a women’s issue,” says Goldin in an interview with Quartz. The pay disparity shows up equally when male MBAs need reduced schedules or time off for personal or family needs.

And then we can talk about class…

Posted: 22nd, November 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Money | Comment


The Guardian makes cracking error in dyslexia story

Dyslexia news in the Guardian, where the paper infamous for its typos relays news that dyslexia may be caused by the light-receptor cells in “the human eye”. Scientists noticed a difference between the arrangement of cones between the eyes of dyslexic and non-dyslexic people. Might it be that vision is linked to dyslexia?

In non-dyslexic people, the blue cone-free spot in one eye – the dominant one, was round and in the other eye unevenly shaped. In dyslexic people, both eyes have the same, round spot.

“The lack of asymmetry might be the biological and anatomical basis of reading and spelling disabilities,” said the study’s authors.

Interesting stuff. But dyslexics and non dyslexics alike can then work out what the hell the Guardian means when in its rehashed press releases, the news becomes:

 

The Guardian error dyslexia

 

 

Transcribed:

About 700 million people worldwide are known to have from dyslexia – about one in 10 of the global population.

There’s no helping some people…

Posted: 15th, November 2017 | In: Broadsheets, News | Comment


Taxies levied on turnover will turn the lights off

Sky News economics editor Ed Conway has an idea about how the likes of Apple, Google and Facebook can be taxed when they operate a slippery system of moving services around the world and as a result pay about £3.45 in corporation tax on billions of pounds in profits. He writes in the Times:

The way we tax companies needs to be turned on its head. Abolish taxes based on a company’s profits and replace them with taxes levied on their turnover.

In which case, good luck getting gas and oil out of the ground – and investing in making things more efficient:

 

 

Might be better if governments invested in their own nascent unicorns and beat the all-conquering US tech giants fair and square.

Spotter: Forbes

Posted: 13th, November 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Money | Comment


Brexit Balls: Irish cheese panic

More fine anti-Brexit work in the The Guardian, where news is that people who eat non-organic butter and hum-drum Irish cheddar are going to be worst off once the country quits the EU:

Leaving the customs union in a hard Brexit scenario could lead to the price of meat doubling and the price of dairy, half of which is imported, rising by up to 50%.

How so?

A block of cheddar imported from Ireland that costs £1 now will cost £1.41 under World Trade Organisation rules, with Ireland being a major producer of cheddar. This would prompt a vicious economical cycle and a period of “runaway” food price hikes, he warned.

The quoted “he” is Gabriel D’Arcy, chief executive of dairy producers LacPatrick in Strabane in Northern Ireland. In May Mr D’Arcy said LacPatrick “had seen a 25pc surge in its sales into the British market in the wake of Brexit, due to its presence in Northern Ireland”. Not all doom and gloom, then.

And as for the Guardian’s words on WTO, well, the quoted price hike represents the maximum import tariffs, so-called ‘ceiling rates’ on ‘bound rates’ . You can charge less through ‘applied rates’. The Government could go further and charge no tariffs (aka tax), and make the populace’ richer’ by allowing them to keep more cash in their pockets by way of cheaper cheese.

No need to panic, then, and dash out to buy lots of Irish cheese. Guardian readers, of course, can stick with their runny brie.

Posted: 13th, November 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Money, News | Comment


Sayfullo Saipov: confessions of a lone wolf

saipov New York uber terrorSayfullo Saipov, 29, the Uzbek immigrant accused of murdering at least eight people in New York, is recovering from surgery after being shot in the abdomen by a New York City police officer.

What do we know of him? Well, not much. Saipov arrived in the US back in 2010. He worked as an Uber driver.

But the Telegraph knows lots:

Eight people died and 11 injured in the worst terror attack on New York since September 11, 2001 as a lone wolf extremist screaming “Allahu Akbar” used a pick-up truck to mow down cyclists along a bike path on Halloween.

He did this alone? Sayfullo Saipov has no connection with any organised group, says the paper. He’s got the jihadi slogans, jihadi mode of attack and the jihadi beard, a panoply of symbols beneath which his violent urges achieve a narrative.

His is the face of a leaderless rejection of Western society, a fearful, murderous malcontent. Can we find some comfort in international terrorism manifest in an ordinary, unexceptional man with a limited access to weapons, albeit one who is capable of committing a brutal act of mass murder?

If we call the suspect a “lone wolf”, don’t we ignore the causes that led to him wilfully killing people, negating debate and investigation by adapting the crime to fit out own prejudices and anxieties?

The terrorists can’t dictate our reaction to their actions. The attack on innocent people going about their day under a clear New York sky can be meaningless, signifying something much less than a looming war.

 

Posted: 1st, November 2017 | In: Broadsheets, News | Comment


Graphene rods to harness lightning

Life mirrors Back to The Future in the Times, where Sandy Chen has a dream. First you build a massive graphene lightning rod that reaches miles into the skies. Then you harness nature’s explosion.

Nothing all that new in the idea. And why it’s in the paper is unclear. The story reads a little like an advert for Chen’s company – and likening him to Elon Musk, the PayPal billionaire who has a dream for electric transport, is ambitious. But that’s not to say lightning power is uninteresting:

Of course, harnessing the power of an H-bomb is easier said than done, and scientists have been scratching their heads for decades over the conundrum of capturing and storing the five billion joules of energy that a bolt can transmit to Earth in a matter of microseconds. Chen admits that “it is really farfetched, but if we can develop it, that would just be pretty cool”.

It’s hot:

In the UK we experience relatively few thunderstorms each year: in England thunder occurs on average 11 days per year, with even fewer in Scotland and Wales. Even during a thunderstorm it’s incredibly difficult to predict when and where lightning will strike.

Assuming that you are lucky and get a lightning bolt to hit your conductor, there would be major difficulties in storing the energy and then converting it to alternating current so it can run your appliances. In addition, any solution to these problems would need to be able to withstand the enormous surges in energy generated by each strike.

Finally, much of the lightning bolt’s energy goes into heating the surrounding air to temperatures greater than the surface of the Sun. So even if you managed to overcome the problems of collecting, storing and converting the energy from the lightning to make it useful, you would still only be harnessing a small proportion of the lightning bolt’s power.

Good idea.

 

Posted: 1st, November 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Technology | Comment


Bananarama are not a patch on the ‘original girl bands’

The Telegraph has news for fans of the world’s “original girl band”. You know…Bananarama.

 

bananarama girl band

 

Pretty good, if not exactly the Hamilton Sisters and Fordyce, aka The 3 X Sisters, seen below in the 1935 vintage:

 

the three x sisters group

 

And what of the Chordettes, the Fontane Sisters, the McGuire Sisters, the DeCastro Sisters and The Supremes? And…

 

Well, yeah…

 

 

But my pick… Take it away, The Ronettes!

 

And…

Posted: 22nd, October 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Celebrities, Music | Comment


The charity game: when sex with clients is ok

The charity business continues of amaze. The Sunday Times looks at the Leeds-based Yorkshire Mesmac charity, which, says the headline, “allows sex with clients”. And who are these clients at its centres in Leeds, York, North Yorkshire, Bradford, Wakefield, Rotherham and Hull?

A charity for child abuse victims, sex workers and gay men given more than £2m by the government, councils and police has told its staff they are allowed to have “sexual relationships” with the often vulnerable people they meet through their work.

Ah.

The organisation, based in Leeds, is being investigated by the city’s child safeguarding board after The Sunday Times obtained a copy of its “workers’ conduct policy” which states: “Sexual relationships are acceptable with service users initially met during work time”. Most health and social work organisations ban professionals from establishing relationships with patients and clients.

To which the Guardian adds, so as not to create confusion:

The rules do not relate to the charity’s work with children. 

Mesmac’s chief executive, Tom Doyle, gets the right to reply:

“We understand that, viewed out of context of Yorkshire Mesmac’s suite of policies including safeguarding of children and of adults at risk, there is a possibility that this code of conduct could be misunderstood.”

The policy was now being redrafted.

Spotter: Times

Posted: 22nd, October 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Money, Politicians | Comment


Lysette Anthony and Harvey Weinstein in Trial By Media

Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood mogul accused of multiple crimes against women, is all over the tabloids.

The Sun leads with the “3 Brit Victims”. Alleged victims, of course, a fact given credence with those inverted commas. Weinstein is deserving of a fair hearing. Innocence must always be presumed.

The pick of the alleged victims seems to be Lysette Anthony, a former model and actress, subject of the Sunday Times’ scoop: “Lysette Anthony: I answered the door. Harvey Weinstein pushed me inside and raped me in my own hallway.” That’s a headline and a half. And because it is a headline, it counts as opinion not fact.

 

harvey weinstein

 

Lysette Anthony’s allegations reach use via Charlotte Metcalf, a “close friend” of the actress. The pair went to a police station, where Anthony made her allegation. It’s serious stuff. Her words are weighty, and she should be afforded respect. The sincere hope is that the matter goes to court. Our opinions matter not.

Metcalf writes:

She was nervous but the officers were sensitive and reassuring. Afterwards I sat down with her and she told me the full story which she has agreed I should now make public.

Are we entertained yet? Stay tuned…

We hear that Lysette and Weinstein first met in New York. “Over the net few years she would have lunch with Harvey from time to time when he was in London. At that point she experienced nothing untoward: ‘The lunches were invariably in hotel suites but I felt comfortable in Harvey’s company. We had become friends.'”

And then she claims he attacked her:

“He pushed me inside and rammed me up against the coat rack in my tiny hall and started fumbling at my gown. He was trying to kiss me and shove inside me. It was disgusting.

She tried pushing him off but he was too heavy. “Finally I just gave up. At least I was able to stop him kissing me. As he ground himself against me and shoved inside me, I kept my eyes shut tight, held my breath, just let him get on with it. He came over my leg like a dog and then left. It was pathetic, revolting. I remember lying in the bath later and crying.”

Anthony says she never told the police not her agent. She claims that around a year later, she met Weinstein again. She took her out for dinner. He was “perfectly charming”. He bought her a coat on the way home. “I thought it was his unspoken way of apologising for what had happened,” says Lysette. “I assumed that was that and we went our separate ways.”

And then…?

“From this point on, if I ignored ­Weinstein’s calls the assistants started ringing and if I ignored them his ­assistants called my agent to set up a meeting. What you have to understand is that no one turned down an opportunity to meet Harvey Weinstein. No one. I’d never told my agent about the rape, so it was impossible to explain why I didn’t want to see him.

“The meetings would start with a chat in a hotel suite. The assistants would disappear and then he’d disappear and return in a robe demanding a massage. By then I’d just given up. I knew I was powerless and at least I wouldn’t have to do much. I was just a body, young flesh. It wouldn’t take long and no one knew.”

And there it is, out there in the court of public opinion, the story of the actress and her alleged rapist.

 

harvey weinstein

 

Weinstein the “sex beast”:

harvey weinstein

This has to reach court. Weinstein must have the right to defend himself. And society has the right to judge the matter. Anything less than law-based justice reduces alleged horrific crimes into a nasty form of entertainment…

Posted: 16th, October 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Celebrities, News, Tabloids | Comment


Monarch: paper profits and discounts as capital for the super rich

Monarch Airlines is bust. And in the Sunday Times we get an insight into the bizarro world of the mega-mega-rich. Monarch is owned by private equity outfit Greybull.

Amid a battle for orders between Boeing and Airbus, Monarch secured a cut-price deal for 30 new planes — which later rose to 45. The market value of the aircraft was greater than Monarch’s agreed price, so creating a paper profit.

And then it got even better.

Greybull was able to persuade Boeing to release more than £100m of this trapped equity as cash, pumping it into the airline through Petrol Jersey.

Can it be that the seller gave discount as capital?

And why now did the firm bust? The Times notes:

Questions have been raised about timing. Monarch went down with £48m of cash in the bank, over which Greybull has a strong claim as primary secured creditor. Swaffield’s statement revealed that the cash pile was shrinking rapidly and would have been £20m by the end of the month. Greybull’s Marc Meyohas said the timing of the collapse “was influenced by Atol, not by us running out of cash”.

Fair enough?

“The families, Greybull, Petrol Jersey, however you want to put it, will have lost money on this deal,” said Marc Meyohas. “We are absolutely disappointed by the outcome. We do feel we have been responsible owners, but we have failed nonetheless.”

As for placing questions marks over the owners, well, is it fair to portray them as grinners, as the FT does?

 

 

Expect a lot to follow – little of which will help the poor sods now out of jobs and fretting about pensions.

Spotter: Times

Posted: 8th, October 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Money | Comment


3 dead in Marseilles: ‘Allahu Akbar’ ad infinitum

Three people are dead at Marseilles’ Saint-Charles train station in France. Police shot one dead after he’d murdered the other two. The Guardian says the murderer was a “man”, an “assailant” armed with a knife, a “knifeman”. And that’s all.

“Two victims have been stabbed to death,” says regional police chief, Olivier de Mazieres on AFP.

But a clue to what the “man” might have been and why he did it comes via an unnamed French official, who tells France’s Le Monde newspaper that the killer yelled “Allahu Akbar” as he stabbed two women to death.

How relevant is that chant? It’s very relevant, reasons the Daily Mail, which unlike the BBC and Guardian makes the familiar war cry of militant Islam central to the story. “Two passengers are killed as attacker shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ slits a woman’s throat with a butcher’s knife and stabs another at Marseille station before soldiers shoot him dead,” announces the headline.

The Mail mentions “Islamist radicals” in its story. The Guardian makes no mention of Islam whatsoever in its. Why is there such a clear difference in reporting? Why does one publication make Islam a key part of the narrative, whilst another ignores it entirely? I’d hazard a guess that it’s something to do with the uncertain, fearful censorious times we live in. Ever watchful of triggering the slack-jawed mob, the simplest fact is redacted from reports lest it foment a race riot. With free speech and free expression stymied, what should be objective – simply stating the facts – becomes confrontational and daring. Most worryingly, it leaves the facts to actual bigots who adopt the role of rebels and present themselves as brave and knowing sources of ‘truth’.

As for the police, well, the soldiers who shot the killer dead are part of Operation Sentinelle, the military operation launched after Islamists massacred so many at Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Jewish supermarket in Paris in January 2015.

Good the soldiers were there, then.

Aside from a conversation on armed police on the streets this attack invites, is there also a conversation to be had about Islamist violence? Since 2015, more than 230 people in France have been killed in Islamist attacks. Discuss.

Posted: 1st, October 2017 | In: Broadsheets, News, Tabloids | Comment


Arsenal riot, stroll and stumble at BATE Borisov

Arsenal ran out pretty easy winners in their Europa League match against BATE Borisov, winning 4-2, having been 3-0 up after 25 minutes. Arsenal are the first team to beat Bate on their own patch in European competition since Barcelona defeated them in 2015 – a run of seven games.

What do the newspapers have to say about the match?

EASY!

The Daily Mail calls it an “Arsenal stroll”. The Sun agrees that it was a “stroll”. The Gunners, boasting a squad of nine players aged 20 or younger, “ran riot”. The Express saw Arsenal “picking apart the BATE defence at will”. The Daily Star says it was “stunning stuff from Arsenal”.

HARD!

The Daily Mirror says it “wasn’t an easy ride” for the Gunners in Belarus.

And the Times:

Times Arsenal

 

One man’s stroll is another reporter’s stumble.

Such are the facts.

 

 

 

Posted: 29th, September 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Broadsheets, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Lavinia Woodward’s case tells us nothing about race but it might expose the myth of gender equality

Afua Hirsch has something to say about Lavinia Woodward, the troubled woman guilty of attacking her boyfriend. For the crime of unlawful wounding Woodward was sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment suspended for 18 months. Much of the narrative has focused on her intellect, which the judge praised. He told her “normally it would attract a custodial sentence, whether it is immediate or suspended”. Judge Pringle praised her “extraordinary talent” for learning and medicine – Woodward wants to be a heart surgeon –  and listed “mitigating factors” in arriving at his conclusion that a period in prison would be the wrong sentence.

 

 

The Press disagreed, calling it “TOFF JUSICE” (The Sun) and reworking the judge’s comments into “Oxford student branded ‘too clever to be jailed'” (Mirror). Woodward became a talking point. So here’s Hirsch to tell Guardian readers: “The Lavinia Woodward case exposes equality before the law as a myth.”

It does? She describes Woodward as “white, and privileged”. I’d add ‘blonde’. It is surely Woodward’s blondeness that made her case front-page news.

Hirsch adds: “At the time of her attack, she was studying medicine at Christ Church college, Oxford. She had attended a prestigious international school. She could afford an excellent lawyer. She was able to demonstrate – in a language the judiciary can easily understand – her potential future contribution to society.”

Hirsch then reviews all the facts – although the judge’s full comments have not been published – adding maybe a dash of her own prejudice to the matter. “She is as deserving of a prison sentence as the young black men so often reported as being involved in stabbings,” she writes, as if all stabbings are of equal damage and all cases easily comparable.

But if it’s inconsistency we’re seeking, the key word might not be ‘white’. It might be ‘she’. In the 2013 Government report “Statistics on Women and the Criminal Justice System – A Ministry of Justice publication under Section 95 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991” we read more.

Women go to prison less often than men:

 

 

That the crime was Woodward’s first was noted by the judge, who told her: “There are many mitigating features in your case. Principally, at the age of 24 you have no previous convictions of any nature whatsoever.”

The report states:

Offending histories: Female offenders were less likely than male offenders to have any previous cautions or convictions throughout the ten years from 2003 to 2013, with a third of females and only a fifth of males being first-time offenders in 2013.

Is Woodward likely to repeat her crime?

In the most recent period (2012), males (both adults and juveniles) re-offended at a higher rate than females (27.7% compared to 18.5%), and this has not changed over the past ten years.

 

 

And what about those mitigating factors? The judge told Woodward:

“There are many mitigating features in your case. Principally, at the age of 24 you have no previous convictions of any nature whatsoever. Secondly, I find that you were genuinely remorseful following this event and, indeed, it was against your bail conditions, you contacted your partner to fully confess your guilt and your deep sorrow for what happened.

“Thirdly, whilst you are a clearly highly-intelligent individual, you had an immaturity about you which was not commensurate for someone of your age. Fourthly, as the reports from the experts make clear, you suffer from an emotionally-unstable personality disorder, a severe eating disorder and alcohol drug dependence.

“Finally, and most significantly, you have demonstrated over the last nine months that you are determined to rid yourself of your alcohol and drug addiction and have undergone extensive treatment including counselling to address the many issues that you face. In particular, you have demonstrated to me since I adjourned this matter in May a strong and unwavering determination to do so despite the enormous pressure under which you were put and which has been referred to me by your counsel.”

Says the Government:

A case with many aggravating factors is dealt with more severely than a case with a few aggravating factors. These offenders are more likely to be sent to prison and more likely to be sent there for longer. Conversely, offenders with many mitigating factors taken into account in their case are less likely to be sent to prison.

If you satisfy the court that your sorry, well done:

 

 

 

And:

The type of sentence outcome given at court differs between male and female offenders and has also changed over time, due largely to the greater use of SSOs since 2005 when they became more readily available under the Criminal Justice Act 2003. As with the wider trend for all indictable offences (highlighted in the defendants’ chapter) there was also a decline in the proportion of community sentences over the time period.

The most common disposal given to male offenders across each of the four specified violence offences is now an immediate custodial sentence, with the proportion increasing over the last ten years for ABH and remaining stable for the other offences. By contrast the type of sentence outcome given to female offenders has differed for each of these four offences. In 2013, the most common disposal given for the offences of ABH and cruelty to or neglect of children was a community sentence, whilst for GBH without intent it was a SSO and for breach of a restraining order it came under the otherwise dealt with category.

Across each of these four offences, male offenders were around twice as likely to be given an immediate custodial sentence than female offenders. By contrast, a greater proportion of female offenders received less severe sentence outcomes.

Money matters, of course. But to argue that Lavinia Woodward’s case typifies the “racial inequality at the core of our justice system” is wrong. But there might be an argument to be made around gender…

Posted: 28th, September 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Key Posts, News | Comment


Poppy monoculture: a draconian silence falls over Wembley

Without any hint of irony the Daily Telegraph hears that England – the national football side rebranded ‘The Three Lions’ – are allowed to wear pictures of poppies on their shirts and calls it a “major victory for the British game”. England might not win many meaningful football matches but when it comes to decorating our tops, decades of hurt have been undone. On November 10, England will wear poppies on their shirts as they play – get this – Germany at Wembley.

Before last year’s Armistice Day, FIFA banned England and Scotland — as well as Wales and Northern Ireland — from wearing the poppy, the symbol of remembrance, for matches on that day. FIFA says “political, religious or personal” designs should no infect the national shirts. But England and Scotland players wore them anyhow, albeit as black armbands with a poppy motif.  Odd, no? Football is about rules. It’s all about rules. Without rules there is no sport. Flouting the rules is no small deal.

Rory Smith notes that “Until 2009, it was rare for British club teams to display a poppy on their uniforms at this time of year… A campaign led by the Daily Mail that year changed all that. The intention, of course, is an admirable and honorable one: to show that football, as the slogan goes, remembers. That is not, however, necessarily the effect. Wearing a poppy is designed as an individual act; when it becomes compulsory, it loses not just much of its impact, but some of its meaning.”

An act of remembering in a minute’s contemplative silence became enforced duty. And it became political. Theresa May called it was “utterly outrageous” that FIFA should rule on poppies. The FA says “common sense” has won. The Sun calls it “VICTORY – Poppy ban KO-d as FIFA sees sense”.  “POPPY VICTORY,” declares the Express. “POPPY POWER,” hails the Mail. “Sportsmail ran a successful campaign in 2009 for all Premier League clubs to have the poppy emblem on their shirts, which is now commonplace.” No. It’s compulsory. And anyone who objects is portrayed as morally repugnant.

In 2010, Celtic fans protested a decision for their club’s shirt to feature the poppy. Their banner declared: “Your deeds they would shame all the devils in hell. Ireland, Iraq, Afghanistan. No blood-stained poppy on our hoops.” Celtic vowed to ban he protestors. The Sun called them “hate mobs”. Don’t sing sectarian chants about past battles and loss, goes the top-down directive, but you must wear the poppy.

This is not about heartfelt remembrance, giving private thanks to the sacrifices of so many for our freedom (to choose) and supporting the armed forces; it’s about public displays of group think and compliance.

 

Posted: 25th, September 2017 | In: Back pages, Broadsheets, Key Posts, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


NHS wages: multiplier effect v opportunity costs

If you pay the NHS’s legion of workers more money, they’ll spend it and everyone will be better off. Anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of economics will recognise that as only partly true. But in the Guardian, it’s just a magical fact. Faiza Shaheen tells readers about the “muliplier effect”. She does not mention opportunity cost, of which more later:

Putting the direct costs of the pay cap to public services aside, there is also the so-called multiplier effect to consider. This means when you give someone a pay rise, there are larger positive implications for the economy because it can stimulate further rounds of spending. For example, if there is a £2bn increase in wages for NHS workers and they spend just half of this in shops, then shopkeepers will also receive income.

True. But why not just cut taxes and rates for shopkeepers. Same result, no? Around 2.7 million people work in retail in the UK. It is the nation’s biggest employer. Around 1.2 million of us work for the NHS.

In turn, this increase in income will mean shopkeepers are more likely to employ more people and increase salaries themselves.

Shopkeepers are booming. Will others want to get in on the boom and open their own shops, perhaps undercutting the existing outfits? Indeed, in May 2017 Chris Hopson, NHS Providers’ chief executive, told the Guardian: “Years of pay restraint and stressful working conditions are taking their toll,” he said. “Pay is becoming uncompetitive. Significant numbers of trusts say lower paid staff are leaving to stack shelves in supermarkets rather than carry on with the NHS.”

Back to Shaheen:

The treasury would then not just receive more taxes from higher wages among NHS staff, but also the VAT on extra goods sold, and on higher income taxes from jobs created elsewhere.

Of course, some of the State’ investment in NHS staff will return to central Government. But that misses the point.

The multiplier effect is thought to be higher for those on low-middle incomes, as they are much more likely to spend it than save it or put it in a tax haven. According to a Unison study based on International Monetary Fund figures, every 1% increase in public sector pay would generate between £710m and £820m for the government in increased income tax.

Tim Worstall notes:

That money has come from someone. Might be tax, might be borrowing, but those who had it would have also spent some portion of it into the economy. Even if we say that borrowing means it is obviously only coming from savings if those savings weren’t put into gilts then it would have been invested elsewhere instead.

What we actually want to know is what is the effect after this? This is known as the marginal propensity to spend (or save, the inverse). If we take tax off low paid people and give it to low paid people then the net effect is nothing. Because whatever the marginal propensity to spend of the poor is, it’ll be the same or those who lose money as those who gain it. If we take money off the rich then there will be a change. But that change is not the amount of money itself. It’s the difference between what the rich would have spent and the poor do spend. A useful rule of thumb here is some 15%. Upper middle classes might save 15% of any marginal income, the poor 0%, that’s the amount that spending rises by.

Do also note that this only applies to tax funded increases in such wages. If it’s from what is already being saved well, those savings would have been used to invest in some other thing if not borrowed by government.

Spotter: The Guardian

 

 

Posted: 19th, September 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Money | Comment


Louella Michie is dead and the Press all ask: ‘Who is John Michie?’

louella michie

 

Louella Michie is not the subject of reports on her untimely death. The 25-year-old woman’s body was found dead on her birthday at the Bestival music festival. And ever since that unhappy discovery, the Press have been telling us who did not die: her father. The Daily Mail has produced 7 stories on Louella Michie’s unexplained death. It’s hard to spot Louella as the media zoom in on John Michie, her dad.

The Evening Standard had the news first, sticking to the facts. The body of a young London woman had been found at Dorset’s Bestival. Police were investigating. Murder was one line of enquiry.

Louella Michie

 

And then the media realised that the dead woman’s father is on the telly.  The pick of the front pages being the Daily Telegraph’s, which amid talk of her alleged ‘MURDER” described Louella as a “TV detective’s daughter”. John Michie had for a while appeared in Taggart, the Scottish detective show. In the twilight zone between fact and fiction, Telegraph readers might wonder if DI Robert “Robbie” Ross would be investigating.

 

 

louella michie murder bestival paper john

 

These are the Daily Mail’s headlines. See if you can spot Louella Michie:

Holby City and Coronation Street star John Michie insists death of his daughter, 25, at Bestival was an ACCIDENT as he mourns his ‘angel’ after a man was arrested on suspicion of her murder  – September 11th 2017, 11:54:26 am

Man held after daughter of Holby City star John Michie dies at Bestival – September 11th 2017

Man arrested over actor’s daughter’s death released under investigation – September 12th 2017

Drugs quiz for man held over death of daughter of Holby City´s John Michie – September 12th 2017

Holby City star’s daughter looked ‘odd and unsteady’ in the hours before she was found dead in secluded woods in drug-related death  – September 12th 2017

But our pick of the Mail’s barrage of stories on the death of ‘John Michie’s daughter’ is this one about Louella Michie taking the ice-bucket challenge:

The daughter of TV actor John Michie, took part in the internet craze.

Today’s story in the Mail begins in customary fashion, with the victim absent:

The rapper boyfriend of Holby City star John Michie’s daughter has been released by police after being arrested over her death at Bestival, with the actor’s family saying they believe the pair had taken drugs

As the Mail thinks the “dead girl” not worthy of mention by name, the Sun (nine stories so far) knows so little about Louella Michie it’s reduced to focusing on her looks. Today’s update begins:

A festival-goer claims the forest area where the green-eyed 25-year-old died had been used by drug dealers and that she “didn’t look very well” when spotted before her death

As police investigate the death so other green-eyed women and look for a pattern, Sun readers find Louella Michie missing from the paper’s headlines:

FESTIVAL TRAGEDY – Holby City star John Michie’s daughter Louella was found dead at Bestival – 13 September 2017

Pals reveal Holby City star’s tragic girl looked ‘unsteady and odd’ in woods used by drug dealers before she died at Bestival as boyfriend is released by cops – 13 September 2017

BESTIVAL SUSPECT RELEASED Boyfriend of Holby star John Michie’s tragic daughter is released as her devastated family say ‘there was no malice’ in her death – 12 September 2017

BESTIVAL PROBE Man held on suspicion of ‘murder’ over Holby star’s daughter is also being quizzed over supply of Class A drugs – 12 September 2017

BESTIVAL DEATH DASH – Holby City star made 130 mile 1am dash to Bestival after WhatsApp map pinpointed where his daughter was found dead – 12 September 2017

DAYS BEFORE DEATH  – John Michie posted haunting photo of daughter sewing outfit for Bestival days before she was found dead – 12 September

HOLBY PAL’S HEARTACHE Strictly star’s heartbreaking message to Holby co-star after his daughter is found dead at Bestival – 11 September

But top prize goes in the John Michie news frenzy goes to the Daily Mirror, which has published no fewer than 11 stories on Louella Michie’s dad, the pick of which being:

Who is John Michie? Tragedy as ex-Coronation Street star’s daughter confirmed dead at Bestival

At a guess, we’d say he’s  man grieving for his daughter.

Posted: 13th, September 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Celebrities, Key Posts, News, Tabloids | Comment


Brexit: European Commission President’s chief of staff says Britain should vote again

Fancy having more goes until we deliver the correct result on Brexit? The EU are pretty good at subverting democracy. The Telegraph reports:

People who voted for Brexit made a “stupid” decision which could still be reversed by the British public, one of the EU’s most powerful officials said yesterday.

Martin Selmayr, chief of staff to the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, said it was “legally” possible for the UK to reverse its decision to leave.

Fancy it? Want to keep tying until they approve of the result? That follows the opinion of the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier, who threatened:

“There are extremely serious consequences of leaving the Single Market and it hasn’t been explained to the British people. We intend to teach people… what leaving the Single Market means.”

Ooer.

Posted: 6th, September 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Politicians | Comment


Starbucks maternity leave makes baristas moan

When the BBC produced its list of earners, I’m sure you like me were aghast that not everyone earned the same. Also, footballers. Why is one paid more than another for doing the same job? Molly Redden is astounded. In a Guardian story sponsored by The Rockefeller Foundation, she says: “At Starbucks, your maternity leave depends on whether you’re a barista or a boss – One rule for corporate office employees, another for those who work in stores: unequal parental leave is splitting the company in two.”

So everyone at Starbucks and every other company, including The Guardian, should get the same perks. And what about the Rockefellers?

The Foundation was started by Standard Oil owner John D. Rockefeller (“Senior”), along with his son John D. Rockefeller Jr. (“Junior”), and Senior’s principal oil and gas business and philanthropic advisor, Frederick Taylor Gates, in New York State on May 14, 1913, when its charter was formally accepted by the New York State Legislature. Its stated mission is “promoting the well-being of humanity throughout the world.”

The Rockefellers were rich. Very rich. The Svabeniks, a family of three children with another on the way, are less well off. Redden writes of them:

Jess resents having to make the choice at all so soon after giving birth. As a retail employee of the country’s most profitable coffee chain, she is entitled to six weeks of parental leave at partial pay after Roman is born. (Her leave will probably be unpaid, since she has worked at Starbucks for less than one year.) But starting on 1 October, employees at Starbucks’ Seattle headquarters – just an hour’s drive from Jess’s home – and its other corporate offices will be entitled to 16 weeks of fully paid leave upon giving birth, and fathers or adoptive parents will get 12.

Announcing the new policy in January, Starbucks called it “reflective of our mission and commitment to be a different kind of company and put our people first”.

But the new policy doesn’t increase the length of leave for in-store workers who give birth, or for new fathers and adoptive parents, who will continue to get none…

As the company’s announcement received laudatory headlines, Jess joined a group of Starbucks baristas and store managers in asking the company: why are we treated differently

Why aren’t all workers paid the same?

“It is in no way fair to the average worker,” Jess says. “You can’t have corporate without us. So why would one have a better benefit than the other?”

America should offer paid maternity leave as in the UK. But the idea that all workers at a large company are of equal worth to the company is absurd.

Posted: 31st, August 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Money | Comment


Fostering fear and division in Tower Hamlets: the Christian child and her Muslim carers

foster muslim london

 

The Times‘ scoop became a big talking point: a five-year-old, white, native English specking Christian girl had been placed with a Muslim foster family by London’s Tower Hamlet’s council. What problem with that? If the vulnerable child needed help and help was forthcoming, what matter respective religions? The council surely vets foster parents and made an informed choice.

Maybe not.

The girl spent four months with her substitute family. She says the family did not speak English in the home, encouraging her to speak Arabic. Her primary foster carer veiled her face in public. When placed with a second foster family, also Muslim, the girl spoke of regularly eating meals on the floor. The girl was scheduled to return to the first foster carers, but a council worker heard her complain of having had her necklace removed and not returned. The necklace featured a cross-shaped pendant. The girl claimed the family had refused to let her eat carbonara prepared by her family because it contained bacon.

The girl is now back with her family, living with her grandmother on the orders of Judge Khatan Sapnara – the Mail tells readers on its front page, the judge is a Muslim; a fact the Times repeats on page 6 in a lengthy profile on the woman who arrived in the UK as child from her native Bangladesh. Judge Sapnara told the council to seek “culturally matched placements” for children. She also made a stand for free speech. Tower Hamlets tried to block the Times story but failed when Judge Sapnara made it clear she “would not stand in the way of the freedom of the  press to report, within the law and in a responsible manner, in respect of this case.”

The Mail adds that the girl’s family had “pleaded” with the council to let her live with her grandmother. The girl “begged” not to be returned to the Muslim family. By page 17, Sarah Vine is telling readers about the value of “a granny’s love”. But taken in isolation, without us knowing why the child was in care at all, why grandma was overlooked in favour of foster parents and what the foster parents hope to gain from their role, opinion rides roughshod over fact. But Vine tells us that Tower Hamlets advertises foster carer allowances of “£313 and £253 a week”. “That’s a nice little earner,” says Vine.

Easy money? On the Tower Hamlets website we read:

If you are interested in becoming a foster carer you will need to meet with a social worker many times to talk about yourself, your family and your experiences of looking after children. Some people find the idea of this daunting, but our social workers are highly experienced and will do everything they can to help you feel reassured during this process. You will also need to have police and medical checks and will need to ask employers, friends and families to give references.

And Vine’s undersold the job: “Fostering fees and allowances up to £474 per week (per child in placement depending on age).” But, yes, the payments for a five-year-old are as she says. Fostering is a cottage industry. Why the public sector is turning child care into a job creation opportunity is not touched upon. And it costs:

In the 2013/14 financial year an estimated £2.5 billion (gross expenditure) was spent on the main looked after children’s services in England. The majority of expenditure (55%) was on foster care services (around £1.4 billion, 55%) and children’s homes (around £0.9 billion, 36%).

So much for the money.

What’s wrong is when Vine says the “real scandal” is that social services “would rather pay someone, irrespective of whether or not  he child will be miserable, than find a home where someone wants  to offer the one thing that has no price: a mother’s love.”

Eh? Surely is can be argued that the “strict Muslim” women was offering  just that: a place where the child would be treated like one of their own. Moreover, where is the child’s mother? Is she able or capable of offering the kid of love Vine seeks? Let’s not pretend a mother’s love is the ultimate nurturer of life and love.

Also troubling is that the story is presented as one of child abuse. The child was refused food. The child  was with “strict” adults. The child was upset. The child “sobbed”. Everything is presented to make readers suspicious of adults. The child’s view is pure and passes challenged. We’ve not heard from the Muslim women at the centre of the story. The overriding impression from reading this story is that when society revolves around child protection, everyone who works with children is cast as a suspect.

Posted: 30th, August 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Key Posts, News, Tabloids | Comment


Tim Cook and Apple beat the principal-agent problem

Apple shares are soaring. The iPhone remains the best and most desirable phone on the market. And with success comes money.

Tim Cook, the chief executive of Apple, has collected $89.6m as part of a 10-year deal that he signed as an incentive to keep the iPhone maker at the forefront of the technology industry after he took over the reins in 2011 from company co-founder Steve Jobs.

Nice one:

The stock package awarded to Cook in 2011 was originally valued at $376m, but is now worth much more because Apple shares have increased by six-fold since he signed the deal.

Apple Insider has more:

If Apple’s performance fell in the middle third of the S&P 500, Cook’s RSU award would have been reduced by half. Cook would have collected nothing if Apple stock finished in the bottom-third.

Apple and Cook are bound.

The principal–agent problem, in political science and economics, (also known as agency dilemma or the agency problem) occurs when one person or entity (the “agent”) is able to make decisions on behalf of, or that impact, another person or entity: the “principal”. This dilemma exists in circumstances where agents are motivated to act in their own best interests, which are contrary to those of their principals, and is an example of moral hazard.

Meanwhile, over at the Guardian, which repeats the story of Cook’s earnings from a newswire feed without mention of the penalties Cook faced for missing targets:

The Guardian has confirmed losses of £69m for the last financial year but said it was making significant progress in its membership scheme, with more than 50,000 people paying to sign up.

At least the newspaper now is trying to produce a viable business, asking readers to donate (no, not to pay, as the Times does):

The new editor of The Guardian is to be paid tens of thousands less than her male predecessor, according to figures published by the newspaper group.

Katharine Viner received a salary of £340,000 for 2014-15, putting her basic earnings well behind the £395,000 handed to Alan Rusbridger, whom she replaced last month as editor-in-chief of the paper.

Taking into account Mr Rusbridger’s other payouts from the group, where he was editor for two decades, the former newspaper boss took home £492,000 over the past year, £152,000 more than his successor.

And for his last seasons in charge:

The revelation of the pay gap came as Guardian News and Media, the publisher of The Guardian and The Observer, reported an underlying loss of £19.1 million for its latest financial year, a slight improvement on the £19.4 million it lost the previous year.

Performance-related pay can be perilous.

Posted: 30th, August 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Money, Technology | Comment


100 MPs could be killed in 5 minutes

Big news is that a mock terror attack on the Houses of Parliament shows that it “could” take just 5 minutes to kill 100 MPs. In the “middle of the night” police pretending to be terrorists pulled up by the Commons, climbed the steep wall to the terrace and then gained access to the debating chamber. The Sunday Telegraph says that had the house been sitting “more than 100 MPs” would have been massacred.

An unnamed source described the MPs as “sitting ducks”. Another adds: “I remember thinking ‘Jesus Christ, if that’s where we are at and that can happen, then the public would be horrified’.” (Discuss.)

Is such an attack likely? The water around Westminster can be sea-like, choppy and tidal. It’s very tricky to pull up. The east front of the Palace of Westminster – the bit on the river – measures approximately 265m, and is the longest façade of any building in London. So plenty to room. But navigating the building can be tricky. Take a left turn instead of a right one and a seasick jihadi could end up in House of Lords Chamber!

Posted: 29th, August 2017 | In: Broadsheets, News, Politicians | Comment


Ministers embarrassed by successful academies want leaders’ salaries capped

Would it shock you to know that the boss of a group of high-ranking schools earns £420,000 a year? Sir Daniel Moynihan, of the Harris Federation, a chain of 44 schools, is the country’s highest-paid chief executive of an academy trust. His annual wage is the sort of money a Premier League football take home every fortnight. But that’s not really a valid comparison is it. After all, both the footballer and the schools’ executive are in the private sector.

The Federation says on its website:

67% of all of our Academies inspected so far have been graded as Outstanding (compared to 20% nationally) with the rest judged as Good. 83% of our Secondary Academies have been judged as Outstanding so far.

In Primary education our Academies have been judged to be the top performing group of schools compared to all other local authorities and academy trusts in England, in both 2015 and 2016 by the highly respected Education Policy Institute.

At Secondary Harris Federation has regularly been named as one of the top performing groups in the country for disadvantaged pupils by the Sutton Trust charity.

The charity was created by Lord Harris, who acts as its sponsor. A dyslexic who left school early, his story is an inspiration:

Educated at Streatham Grammar School, he had to cut short his education at 15 after the death of his father in order to take over the running of the family business of three carpet shops. He went on to set up Carpetright, now a public company with over 600 branches across the UK and the rest of Europe.

But it;s no good, say Ministers seeking to stop “fat cat” salaries.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, a former chief inspector of schools, and Lord Adonis, a former Labour schools minister, told The Sunday Times that ministers must cap salaries for academy high-earners. Adonis wants to prevent anyone being paid more than £150,000, the salary paid to Theresa May.

Why should a public servant’s salary, moreover a politician’s, be the benchmark for someone working in the private sector, especially one doing such a good job?

The row comes as school budgets are being cut, teachers face a 1% pay rise and parents are being asked to pay for basics at state schools, including textbooks.

Adonis said: “It is a simple question of morality and use of public funding.”

Morality? Phew! good job its not about results.

 

Posted: 28th, August 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Money, Politicians | Comment


Hani Khalaf: Hyde Park killer and the problem with immigrants

In today’s Daily Express, it’s another game of join the dots, of which there are just two. Page 5 tells readers of an “illegal immigrant” called Hani Khalaf. He’s been handed a 26-year prison sentence for murdering Jairo Medina, beating the man to death in London’s Hyde Park.

Khalaf, an Egyptian national, arrived in the UK in the back of lorry back in 2014, posing as a Syrian asylum seeker.

Judge Wendy Joseph QC tells the court:

“It is clear that Hani Khalaf, having absconded, came to the attention of authorities on at least six occasions. On each, he was re-bailed because they could not make arrangements for securing his deportation in a reasonable amount of time.”

The news is part of a page given over to immigration stories.

 

Immigration Special.

 

The phone poll on the same page asks: “Is Britain still letting in too many migrants?”

 

 

The story of how Hani Khalaf was free to murder is troubling. Why was a man in the country illegally not dealt with by the authorities? Joseph makes the valid point that Khalaf had no way of “lawfully maintaining himself”. How can man in the country illegally keep the rules?

So much for the Express. But how do the other paper report on the story?

The Daily Telegraph leads with the killer’s legal status:

Illegal immigrant murdered man in Hyde Park after Home Office repeatedly failed to deport him

It tells readers that the victim, a carer by profession, was born in Colombia. He was a Colombian national. The Express omits that fact. The Express also doesn’t say that Mr Medina, a migrant, has, according to his sister, won an award in 2015 for his “service to care in London”.

The paper adds:

The day before he [Khalaf] met Mr Medina, he was arrested for shoplifting in Regent Street and gave police the false name he had previously given to immigration officials.

He appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court and was bailed hours before the killing.

On August 11, Khalaf met Mr Medina in Hyde Park, where the victim had gone hoping to have sex with a younger man, the court heard.

Khalaf murdered and robbed Mr Medina. The judge ruled that it was a “murder for gain”.

Over in the London Evening Standard, the killer’s status is is once more the leading fact:

Illegal immigrant jailed for beating carer Jairo Medina to death in London’s Hyde Park

It was only good police work that saw Khalaf arrested:

Khalaf was arrested on August 16 for fare evasion and told police he was Hanni Hassan and later gave the name Khalaf, prosecutor Oliver Glasgow QC said.

Then on August 18, he was arrested again for shoplifting and taken to Charing Cross police station, where an “eagle-eyed” police officer recognised him from CCTV as the suspect seen with Mr Medina on the night of his death.

The BBC delivers the headline:

“Illegal immigrant jailed for Hyde Park murder”

And in the Guardian? Well, this is the headline:

 

 

It’s story begins:

A homeless man has been jailed for at least 26 years for murdering a “kind and peace-loving” carer…

To the Guardian, it is not Khalaf’s illegality that matters most. “Homeless man jailed for Hyde Park murder,” says the headline. Its report carries not a single mention of the words “migrant”, “illegal immigrant” or “immigrant”.

The Express and Guardian both massage the facts to fit an agenda. Neither is helpful.

Posted: 25th, August 2017 | In: Broadsheets, News, Tabloids | Comment