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Key Posts | Anorak - Part 2

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Desperate poacher killed by elephants and eaten by lions

rhino poacher elephant

Shall we unpack the story of the poacher killed by an elephant then eaten by lions? Do you want to hear about the dead man’s impoverished, brutal life, his dear relative’s cancer diagnosis and her urgent need to pay for life-saving treatment, and how having already sold all his duplicate organs, a Chinese investor offered the man a few rand and a gun loaded with a single bullet to slaughter a rhino in a region patrolled by massive elephants and man-eating lions?

Up in the chap seats at the Twitter Colosseum, there’s much baying for blood:

Let’s just smile at events in South Africa’s Kruger National Park, and display the human skull and a pair of trousers (very possibly soiled) found after story of death-by safari park hit the police radios as a triumph of animal wit over human greed. Human death and misery is ok by us. One man’s hideous death might even be a sign of God’s love:

“Entering Kruger National Park illegally and on foot is not wise,” says the park’s MD. said. “It holds many dangers and this incident is evidence of that. It is very sad to see the daughters of the diseased mourning the loss of their father, and worse still, only being able to recover very little of his remains.”

Note to poachers: steal a van.

Spotter: SanParks

Posted: 7th, April 2019 | In: Key Posts, Strange But True | Comment


State steals Teagan Appleby’s cannabis medicine; the Dark Web beckons

Walk down most streets in London and you can small skunk, the strong, hot-house grown cannabis. The Mail says cannabis is so commonplace throughout the UK that police don’t bother nicking people for smoking the stuff.

Daily Mail cannabis

But if you want to use marijuana to treat your sick child, the authorities will get you. Emma Appleby schlepped to The Hague to buy £4,000-worth of TGC oil capsules, a form of medical cannabis, for her daughter Teagan, 9, who has severe epilepsy. When the family arrived at Southend Airport, boarder guards confiscated all of it. It’s pretty clear that Mrs Appleby is neither weed dealer nor pot head. A quick chat with Anorak’s slacker division reveals that you can get all this stuff delivered to your door via the dark web or ‘Malc The Talc’, who has a mate in ‘The Dam’ who can post it. Next time, eh…

Mrs Appleby had tried to get the treatment with a prescription. UK doctors can issue the drug legally. But she was refused because the medics say THC is a psychoactive compound found in cannabis and might be detrimental to Teagan’s wellbeing. So Emma asked for help via a crowdfunding campaign, raised some money and arranged to collect the blow at a Netherland’s pharmacy.

“I’m absolutely gutted,” she said after the drugs were seized. “They just took everything. This is our last resort. There’s nothing else. We’ve tried all the medications at home. If there’s a single, slight chance that this medication will help and save her I’m going to be here.”

A government spokesman goes on the record: “The decision to prescribe cannabis-based products for medicinal use is a clinical decision for specialist hospital doctors, made with patients and their families, taking into account clinical guidance, which is based on the best international evidence. The Border Force has a duty to enforce the law and stop the unlawful import of controlled substances into the UK.”

And what’s a mother’s duty – to accept that guff and watch her daughter suffer? The drugs seems to help. This from December 2018:

A young girl with a severe form of epilepsy is back at home after receiving cannabis-based medication in a London hospital. Teagan Appleby of Milner Crescent, Aylesham, had up to 300 fits a day but her life-threatening condition has now stabilised. Doctors at the Evelina Children’s Hospital have successfully treated the nine-year-old who was born with the rare condition Isodicentric 15, a chromosome abnormality that has led to Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a form of acute epilepsy.

Teagan spends her days in a wheelchair. Would you take her medicine away and turn her mother into a criminal?

Posted: 6th, April 2019 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Cannabis is full of good shit, bad shit and the smuggler’s diarrhoea

Leira-Cannagars cannabis cigar

Anyone buying cannabis in Madrid should know that it contains “dangerous levels of faecal matter”. What safe levels of human shit are in your good shit is unsaid. But the fact is that traces of e.coli bacteria and the Aspergillus fungus were spotted in cannabis tested by experts in such things. Apparently the poo is a byproduct of how the cannabis is brought into the country – the smuggler swallows the stuff and then once in Spain takes laxatives to enact a dose of Montezuma’s revenge. Drugs runners, indeed.

Spotter: Forensic Science International

Posted: 4th, April 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Strange But True | Comment


Brexit: Hurrah for Corbyn’s “Marxist, antisemite-led government”

Brexit has coughed up all manner of MPs whose names are new to many of us. Meet Caroline Johnson, Tory MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham since the by-election on 8 December 2016. She says Theresa May talking Brexit with Jeremy Corbyn represents “ushering in a Marxist, anti-semite led government”. Just as Rowan Atkinson is always a “rubber-faced comedian” and gauntlets are always tossed down, will Corbyn be forever known as “the anti-semitic Labour leader”? And for how many people will Jew hatred be the hook that finally convinces them Communism is the right way?

The New Statesman says Johnson’s surmising of Corbyn’s politics offers no comment on the man. It simply “reflects just how weak a hold Downing Street has on party discipline”. The magazine considers the comment unworthy of investigation.

anti-Semitic new statesman kosher conspiracy
The Labour Party supporting New Statesman had a question that might have been rhetorical.

May duly explained her current position:

“When we suffered a chemical weapons attack on the streets of Salisbury, it was me as Prime Minister, this government that stood up against the perpetrators of that attack. [Mr Corbyn] said he’d prefer to believe Vladimir Putin than our own security agencies. That is not the place of somebody that should be prime minister… I want to ensure that we deliver Brexit, I want to ensure that we do it in an orderly way, without fighting European elections. But to do that we need to find a way of this House agreeing the Withdrawal Agreement and agreeing the way forward. And it is on that basis that I have been sitting down with members across the House and will continue to do so in order to ensure that we can find a way forward that this House can support.”

The Times quotes one “veteran Tory MP” who says Mrs May is isolated from mainstream party opinion: “She’s like a prisoner on death row, getting another two-week reprieve. The truth is she is no longer in control of events.”

May’s on Death Row, then, although the date of her execution is not yet fixed. Like racing snails, would-be Tory leaders jockey for position. See the person not the MP, goes the message. But whoever commissioned Parliament to be televised, and created entire channels for the purpose, should have known that familiarity breeds contempt. The smart move is to hand the show to Simon Cowell. Cut-away shots of the public galleries, where an emotionally corralling mix of the physically handicapped, telegenic and whooping can direct us at home to which way our sympathies should bend.

“I cried when Boyzone, split up,” says one audience member, before turning to Theresa May and asking “How do you feel?”

Posted: 4th, April 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment


They’re playing Michael Jackson in Selfridge’s but he’s ‘banned’ on the BBC

michael jackson

They were playing Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall in Selfridge’s department store in London today. BBC radio DJ Craig Charles says there’s no “official ban” on the singer but they’ve not played a single Jackson song on his show since the TV show Leaving Neverland aired last month. The show featured accusations that Jacksons was a paedophile.

The accusations were compelling and convincing. But, then, they can be unchallenged because Jackson remains dead. So it comes down to taking sides: do you believe guilt should be proven or is an accusation enough to try and convict?  The lawyer for the two men who detailed the abuse they says Jackson subjected them to said the singer “was running the most sophisticated child sex operation the world has ever known”. If sophistication is a grown man putting on a sing-song, girlie voice and inviting kids over to ride his Ferris Wheel, then a Florida bride in hot-pants is the stuff of monarchy.

Circumspection is overrated.

In 2014, a top copper said said officers had spoken to a man known as “Nick”, who said he was abused by a paedophile ring, and that his account was “credible and true“. This year Nick was charged with 12 counts of perverting the course of justice and one count of fraud. Radio stations have banned his music.

So what of journalistic standards and the BBC not playing Jackson? Radio DJ Paul Gambaccini was falsely accused of sexual abuse. Gambaccini has presented shows on BBC Radio 1, 2, 3 and 4. He accused BBC bosses of persecuting old presenters in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal. Last year Gambaccini spoke to the Times. He called the Metropolitan Police “the most dishonest organisation I have ever encountered”, adding:

“The Metropolitan police of Bernard Hogan-Howe was a third-rate Stasi. If the police are allowed to do what they did to me, and to so many other people in the witch hunt, this country is now unliveable.”

If it can happen to one of your own, the BBC should reserve judgment. Presuming guilt is a travesty. If we need to wonder and investigate something, let’s marvel at how a man as rich as Jackson could get away with what he’s accused of and why big media never saw it?

Posted: 3rd, April 2019 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, News | Comment


Brexit: tabloids hail detectives May and Corbyn

Brexit

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn will join forces to solve Brexit, forming the kind of made-for-ITV drama partnership mouth breathers will love. In episode one of Chalk ‘n’ Cheese / Marx and Narks / Remain & Remain we see the intrepid duo meeting for “national unity” talks. The tabloids preview the show:

The Sun (front page): “PM TO CORBYN: HELLLLPP!!” May’s locked in a room with scented Liam Fox and Geoffrey Cox’s Voice of God. Can Corbyn get into Number 10? “After 7 hours of Cabinet lockdown, May’s gone soft over Brexit mess,” says the Sun. May’s “bright idea” is to think Corbyn can help. His face appears superimposed on a screw-in lightbulb, evoking the time the Sun did the same to then Labour leader Neil Kinnock, telling readers to turn the lights off if he got into power. Kinnock lost that time but soon trotted off to a massive salary in Brussels, from where he and his ilk will be soon controlling the UK post-Brexit. Votes, who needs ’em?

But in Brexit terms it’s earth hour, says the Metro. The lightbulbs are about to go out across the UK if a deal with the EU cannot be done. Cabinet secretary Sir Mark Sedwill says a no-deal Brexit will “make the country less safe, cause food prices to rise by ten per cent and lead to a recession”.

Daily Mail (front page): “May delays Brexit AGAIN and kills off No Deal — Boris leads Tory fury as Corbyn invited to ‘compromise’ talks”. The talks have been compromised! If you don’t know which side the Mail is on get a load of the billing: only Boris Johnson is on first-name terms with the paper’s readership. Johnson arrives on page 2 to accuse “Mrs May of betrayal”. But Michael Gove backs May. He backs lots of things and so long as you don’t back into him, all is good.

Johnson is all over page 6: “You’ve handed Brexit deal to Corbyn, bitter Boris tells May.” He’ll vote against any deal with the Labour leader. One page on and Henry Deedes gives his verdict, employing language familiar to anyone who spends afternoons chemically coshed in front of reruns of the BBC’s Antiques Road Trip and howls with laughter at Readers’ Digest ‘Life’s Like That’ anecdotes.

Daily Mirror (front page): “HELP ME JEREMY,” says a “despairing Theresa May”. Jeremy will rescue things. “Jezza says he’ll talk”. But wait a moment. Might it be a trap?

Page 5: Jason Beattie, who writes beneath the marvellous title “head of politics”, says Corbyn is “well aware he’s being lined up for a fall”. “To keep his party together his minimum request should be for a customs union and a second referendum,” he advises. Will May agree to Remain? Will her successor rip-up any agreement? Will Brexit detectives Fudgeit and Snubs get to the bottom of things?

Daily Express (front page): “It’s Time For National Unity…Over To You Mr Corbyn.” Mr.. Not just ‘Corbyn’. By page four the language is back to basics. The Express phone poll asks: “Should Corbyn be entrusted with final Brexit deal?” That’s the Brexit-supporting Express asking its readers to spend 50p on a referendum that may carry less weight than, well, the referendum in which 17.4 millions of voted to leave.

Vote now and vote often.

Posted: 3rd, April 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians, Tabloids | Comment


Danny Cipriani in a mum’s ‘hallway’ and trailing Caroline Flack’s Love Island

Danny Cirpriani sex Flack

And to think they said it wouldn’t last. Days after “rugby ace” Danny Cirpriani was linked with Stanislavsky-honed Love Island presenter Caroline Flack, the Sun, the paper that broke the news on its front page, says he’s “bedded” a mum of two.

Meet Amy D’Ambrogio, whose kids will be the toast of their school playground as she tells the paper of her alleged shagging. Amy’s fluent in the kind of language that requires no work from the Sun’s busy subeditor’s, revealing: “After sex he was saying, ‘I feel really bad now. I feel guilty’ and told me he had cheated on someone.” Who? No matter because we get to the maul, tackle and ruck, which according to the scummy mummy (come on, Sun subs) went like this:

  1. Amy follows Danny on instagram
  2. Amy asks Danny for a “birthday kiss”
  3. “To her surprise [he] later arrived at her home”
  4. They spend 90 minutes “exchanging intimacies” in her “hall”
  5. His breath was a bit garlicky,” says she
  6. “I really needed that release,” says he

Another alleged shag is explained: “He stopped outside my bedroom, took all his clothes off and folded them in a neat pile.”

No word from ‘Copping some’ Flack, but after Danny and she were “caught” together at Babington House, a members’ club in Somerset, where spotting a frotting celebrity and their PR is akin to spotting the sky, we look forward to another series of Love Island very soon.

Posted: 3rd, April 2019 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, News, Tabloids | Comment


Peta circumvents porn ban with lactating cow filth

Peta lactating cow

Hold the internet. You can ban routine porn but the niche stuff you’ll never catch. Bearskins doffed to Peta, then, for their latest drive to be noticed, which features a cartoon cow breastfeeding a Joe Biden look-alike. CILF porn is proper dark web content, down there with SILF, GILF and for Australians who can find one DBPILF.

Posted: 2nd, April 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Strange But True | Comment


Brexit: Tory leadership hopefuls duck indicative votes

boris johnson

How’s this for leadership: of the four Brexit-style options chosen by the Speaker to be voted on later tonight, not one was suggested by any potential Tory leader. Two motions put forward by Tory MPs are up for grabs, but neither are from leadership hopefuls and both amount to a remain vote: avuncular Ken Clark wants “a permanent and comprehensive UK-wide customs union with the EU”; and Nick Boles, the one with the looks of the head of year who cycles to work at an underperforming county prep school, wants the UK to remain part of the EU single market.

Theresa May has agreed to leave No. 10. So you’d think the likes of Michael Gove and Boris Johnson would have seized the moment to propose their Brexit solutions and win the country, the day and the new house. But both of them only run in circles around the park: Gove on hairless, pale legs and clutching a mobile phone like he’s waiting for his wife to ask him if he bought the right sort of cherry tomatoes (clue: he forgot last time); and the priapic Johnson dressed in clothes picked for their ghastliness in the hope that any secretary, maid or lap-dancer within breathing distance and possessed of a muon of fashion nous will order him to get them off.

Nothing too from Amber Ruud or Dominic Raaaaaaab or Sajid Javid or Andrea Leadsom or David Davis or Jeremy Hunt. But special mention must go to John Baron, the Conservative MP who put forward not one but two ideas for indicative votes, both rejected by the Speaker. Can Baron be the next Tory leader? He’s one more rejection away from being every bit as successful as Theresa May. If he campaigns for the Tory leadership vote in a field of one, as May did, the job’s his. How’s that for democracy?

Vote now and vote often. And keep voting until you indicate something MPs approve of and can make happen.

Posted: 1st, April 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment


Danny Cipriani and Caroline Flack collide in the Celebrity Petri Dish

Danny Cipriani and Caroline Flack

Love Island presenter Caroline Flack and “rugby’s bad boy” Danny Cipriani “shared a romantic getaway” in… Somerset. The Sun peers into the Celebrity Petri Dish and spots the “smitten rugby ace” and Flack sharing a “passionate goodbye kiss” after a “raunchy” weekend. An anonymous source adds: “They did start tongues wagging quite quickly.” Wagging Tongue might be the celebrity sex aide we need, one up on Love Island’s‘ Under Duvet Hand Assister and rugby’s maul, ruck, scrum, praise of the “nice tackle”, lots of “playing with one another” and a “hooker” pressed on with cries of “heave” – to think they broadcast that stuff before the watershed.

The Sun sees romance but perhaps this was an audition for the much-awaited Celebrity Love Island, in which Cirpriani, a man whose entire rugby playing career appears to be an audition for the moment he shares a televised hot tub with drip-dry incarnations of Kate Price, and Flack, a woman whose genitals are often accused of being a PR stunt – Flack, presenter of an X-Factor spin-off show enjoyed a “romance” with a teenage Harry Styles (who he?) enacted before anonymous sources and passing paps. Celebrity Love Island is the show we need.

That Celebrity Love Island line-up in full:

Caroline Flack

Danny Cipriani

Nigel Farage

Edwina Currie

Sarah Ferguson

Katie Price

The Teletubbies

Terry Waite

Shamima Begum

Uri Geller

Posted: 1st, April 2019 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, Tabloids | Comment


Brexit: Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie predicted it all (video)

Brexit negotiations were written by Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie:

Meanwhile… Jacob Rees-Mogg is on Newsnight:

PS: Anyone got any tapes of Alas Smith And Jones so we can know what Tusk and Junker talk about?

Posted: 1st, April 2019 | In: Key Posts, Politicians, TV & Radio | Comment


Brexit: Jon Snow is scared of white people

Muslims, Jews, blacks, Asians and you mixed-race types, Jon Snow, the Channel 4 news anchor, sees only white Leave voters for Brexit. In the age of narcissism, Snow sees only people who look like him. And he sees them as hateful. They terrify him. Analyse that!

“We’ve just got these pictures in which were taken nearby. Police are now wearing riot gear,” Snow told viewers as he slipped on the blinkers and observed last Friday’s pro-Leave demonstration in Westminster. Police in riot gear is de rigueur at football matches, student fees protests and pretty much everywhere where crowds mass. There were five arrests at the demo. There was no riot.

“Police dogs are patrolling. The mood has changed,” Snow continued. “We cannot confirm whether any arrests have been made. It has been the most extraordinary day. A day which has seen… I’ve never seen so many white people in one place. It’s an extraordinary story… there are people everywhere, there are crowds everywhere.” More white people than you see at Glastonbury, on the high street or at family dinners, Jon? Thanks to Wikipedia, we see a bit more of Jon’s snow white genes:

Snow was born in Ardingly, Sussex, the son of George D’Oyly Snow, Bishop of Whitby [a former master at Eton,] and Joan, a pianist who studied at the Royal College of Music. He is a grandson of First World War General Sir Thomas D’Oyly Snow (about whom he writes in his foreword to Ronald Skirth’s war memoir The Reluctant Tommy) and is the cousin of retired BBC television news presenter Peter Snow

He saw the whites and a race riot-in-waiting. And the whites turned to their brown friends and together saw the class war and the fear in the eyes of their betters.

Posted: 31st, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Brexit protest: five arrests outside, 184 ‘lying’ MPs escape inside

The newspapers mostly ignore yesterday’s Brexit rally outside Parliament. Thousands of Leave supporters gathered at Westminster on the day the UK was scheduled by law to leave the EU. But laws are made to be mangled in Parliament. Hours earlier 184 MPs had voted in favour of revoking Article 50. So we got very little.

Brexit

Only three newspapers lead with the crowds. The i (team: Remain) presents a picture of confrontation. There were five arrests for allegedly being: drunk and disorderly; wanted in connection with an offence in Hertfordshire; assaulting a police officer; assault (x2). “Brexit march,” says the Standard’s (Remain) headline, “five arrests as Leave supporters clash with police in Westminster.” Is five a lot? How many constitutes a rebellion? It’s enough for the paper’s main story on the protest. If you fear Leave voters and seek to portray them as the products of a Tommy Robinson dry toss, then five typifies the 17.4 million of us who to voted to leave in a free and fair vote approved by all MPs, the 184 anti-democrats included.

In a liberal democracy, a free and open society needs tense debate and verbal conflict to survive. Suppression is wrong and foolish. Rational argument and public opinion are lifeblood. The vote is all most of us have to express out views. Reject the vote and give the intolerant a foothold.

So those five arrests to breaching the limits of society’s tolerance. How do five arrests compare to the number of suspects pinched at the pro-Remain march staged last October? The Guardian told us at the very end of an article headlined “Huge crowd turns out in London to demand a ‘people’s vote’ on Brexit”: “A spokesperson for the Metropolitan police said they were not aware of any disorder nor were there any significant arrests.” Number? Dunno. But in July 2018, police arrested six anti-Trump protesters at a protest. Six might be significant.

The Express (Leave) sees the people behaving peacefully.

The Telegraph (Leave) evokes the spirit of Churchill.

Last week, MPs rejected 8 alternative solutions for Brexit. They then rejected Theresa May’s deal for the third time. No arrests have been made. But we can agree on one: the country is split not because the EU inspires and destroys, rather because it’s so utterly mediocre, nebulous and dull. How bothered are you Britishers about staying in the EU: 50-50. Meh.

Posted: 30th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment


Madeleine McCann: Maddie’s 10 birthday cakes

mccann

Madeleine McCann: an at-a-glance look at the missing child in the news.

The Sun: “BIRTHDAY WISH Madeleine McCann’s mum Kate still throws her a birthday party each year with cake and presents in the hope she’ll come home.” This is news? No. It’s voyeurism. The story contains one fact: child vanishes. But ever since Madeleine McCann vanished in 20017, we’ve been gawping at the parents. “Nearly 12 years of presents and cards are waiting in her unchanged pink bedroom in Rothley, Leics,” says the Sun. Is the cake uneaten, stored in Tupperware?

“Ex-GP Kate” – the tabloid rules dictate that the parents’ jobs then and now must be mentioned in every no-news update – said: “I do all the present buying. I think about what age she is and buy something that, whenever we find her, will still be appropriate so there’s a lot of thought goes into it… There are gifts people have sent – from teddy bears to rosary beads – and photographs and pictures Sean and Amelie have drawn for her pinned on the walls.” Stuffed toys, god and purgatory. “She also has a keepsake box in which the twins leave little things for her: the last sweet in their packet, a new drawing, sometimes just a leaf that has taken their fancy. Everyone sits in there from time to time to feel close to her. The children sometimes borrow toys to play with for a while but they always return them for Madeleine.”

The Express also wants its readers to hear those words. It presses f9 on the keyboard and creates another ‘Our Maddie story. “Madeleine McCann: How Kate McCann STILL keeps birthday presents in hope of Maddie’s return,” says the paper’s headline.

We’re not watching Madeleine McCann. We’re not looking for her. We just stare at the familiar. We’re being asked to look at woman who appears to have been buried alive. Can the New Zealand Herald offer relief from the mawkish and claustrophobia of a child’s bedroom without a child?

NZ Herald: “Insider: What I think really happened to Madeleine McCann.”

Oh, go on, then, tell us. It turns out we already know what “I” really think. The man revealing the contents of his mind to deadline – aka speaking – is Clarence Mitchell, the McCanns’ media handler. “Now he has revealed what he believes really happened, saying the investigation points to an abduction but still shares hope she could be alive.”

Believes. Points to. Hopes.

No facts. Opinions are all we have. The single thread story feasted on by a voracious media is a nagging dry cough with no product.

And here’s De Montford University journalism lecturer Lee Marlow to share his opinions, which you might have caught on the recent Netflix documentary the Disappearance of Madeleine McCann. The university’s website quotes him:

“I wasn’t sure I wanted to be involved in the documentary, to be honest. I didn’t know if people would be interested and I was a bit doubtful of their intentions. But I met with the producers. They told me what they wanted to do. They outlined their plans and seemed thorough and decent and they reassured me it wouldn’t be a garish, sensationalised, tabloid hatchet job. They were true to their word, too. It wasn’t that.”

What was it? It looks a lot like bald entertainment. Says Mr Marlow:

“I know the parents didn’t want to get involved and I can see, journalistically, that weakens the documentary. But it’s their choice. They were asked and they said no. The people behind the documentary respected their decision, which is also entirely right, I think. Should it have been shelved because the parents didn’t want to be involved? No, I don’t think so. Most of what was in the documentary is a matter of public record. All they did was collate it, re-tell the story and try to fill in as many gaps as they could.”

Madeleine McCann documentary
The Imagining

Most of it? All of it. The show offered nothing new on the case. We’ve learned nothing since she vanished.

Posted: 29th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, Madeleine McCann, News | Comment


Russian spy Maria Butina to be sentenced

Mqria Butina

Amid all the talk of Russian collusion in the election of Donald Trump to the highest office in the Western world and how former KGB colonel Vladimir Putin worked Brexit to give Jacob Rees-Mogg a routine slot on the telly, meet an actual spy. Maria Butina, 30, has admitted to trying to infiltrate the NRA and working towards getting inside the Republican machine. On April 26, she’ll be sentenced for her crimes. What will she tell?

Butina could be sentenced to five years in prison. She could also avoid jail terms entirely or be out within six months because of a plea deal. Her defence attorney, Robert Driscoll, told NPR: “I think our minds fill in lots of things when you see a tall redhead with a Russian accent.” Most of think of two things: corruption and sex. Men are ovine and obvious. Spies go for the obvious. It’s why a depilated Putin likes to be seen filmed from the ground up. It’s why the New York Times refers to her as “a redhead from Siberia”.

Russia’s Tass news agency is ticking by their fellow Russian:

“Our citizen, who fell victim to a provocation by US authorities, holds her head high. Maria is optimistically minded despite the prison conditions she has to endure,” the press-service said. Russian diplomats “congratulated Maria upon International Women’s Day and conveyed the warmest wishes from all those who are not indifferent towards her fate. We keep pressing for Butina’s release and her soonest return home,” the embassy said.

The New Republic was taking sides, too:

“The government’s case against Butina is extremely flimsy and appears to have been driven largely by a desire for publicity. In fact, federal prosecutors were forced to retract the most attention-grabbing allegation in the case—that Butina used sex to gain access and influence. That Butina’s prosecution was launched by the National Security Section of the District of Columbia federal prosecutor’s office, led by Gregg Maisel, is telling in itself: According to a source close to the Mueller investigation, the special counsel’s office had declined to pursue the case, even though it would have clearly fit under its mandate. Despite the lack of evidence against Butina, however, prosecutors—abetted by an uncritical media willing to buy into the idea of a Russian agent infiltrating conservative political circles—were intent on getting a win.
”

Reuters has the low down on where we are now:

Butina, a former graduate student at American University who publicly advocated for gun rights, pleaded guilty in December to one count of conspiring to act as a foreign agent for Russia. She has remained in custody since her arrest in July 2018.

The 30-year-old native of Siberia wore a green jail jump suit during the brief hearing in Washington, but said nothing.

Chutkan said during the hearing that sentencing memos from prosecutors and Butina’s defense team will be due a week before the sentencing date. Prosecutors and defense lawyers approached the bench for a discussion with the judge, but the subject of those talks was not made public.

Butina has admitted to conspiring with a Russian official and two Americans from 2015 until her arrest to infiltrate the National Rifle Association and create unofficial lines of communication to try to make Washington’s policy toward Moscow more friendly. The NRA is closely aligned with U.S. conservatives and Republican politicians including President Donald Trump.

Chutkan in February had delayed the sentencing at the request of prosecutors, who said Butina was cooperating in their ongoing investigation. Butina’s attorney, Robert Driscoll, said at the time his client was ready for sentencing.

Russia in December accused the United States of forcing Butina to falsely confess to what it described as the “absolutely ridiculous charges” of her being a Russian agent.

The thing, of course, is that if a reality TV show hots can be US President, then spies have it easy. Just think of a secret that sounds big enough to be absurd and the job’s done.

Posted: 29th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Border Force detain man who refused to remove ‘Bollocks to Brexit’ badge

Brexit

It’s not yet mandatory for all voters in the referendum to wear a badge advertising which way they voted. But it should me. And lighting the path to a more understanding country is a businessman who claims he was detained at Gatwick Airport for refusing to remove his ‘Bollocks to Brexit” badge at passport control.

Eddie Brinsmead-Stockham was returning from Portugal when he says a boarder guard told him to remove his badge. Border Force then took him to a holding area without his passport, where he was held for around five to ten minutes.

Mr Brinsmead-Stockham tells the BBC: “I had never encountered that sort of belligerence at passport control before. I felt very frightened.” Disputatious behaviour should not be tolerated, says the man in the “Bollocks to Brexit” badge.

Posted: 28th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Stephen Pinker’s 13 rules for good writing

pinker pros writing rules

Want to write well? Harvard Professor of Psychology Steven Pinker has outlined his 13 rules for good writing on Twitter. That Twitter keeps things brief is a clue to what Pinker thinks works best. Editor’s should be like vultures.

  1. Reverse-engineer what you read. If it feels like good writing, what makes it good? If it’s awful, why? 
  2. Prose is a window onto the world. Let your readers see what you are seeing by using visual, concrete language.
  3. Don’t go meta. Minimize concepts about concepts, like “approach, assumption, concept, condition, context, framework, issue, level, model, perspective, process, range, role, strategy, tendency,” and “variable.”
  4. Let verbs be verbs. “Appear,” not “make an appearance.”
  5. Beware of the Curse of Knowledge: when you know something, it’s hard to imagine what it’s like not to know it. Minimize acronyms & technical terms. Use “for example” liberally. Show a draft around, & prepare to learn that what’s obvious to you may not be obvious to anyone else.
  6. Omit needless words (Will Strunk was right about this).
  7. Avoid clichés like the plague (thanks, William Safire).
  8. Old information at the beginning of the sentence, new information at the end.
  9. Save the heaviest for last: a complex phrase should go at the end of the sentence.
  10. Prose must cohere: readers must know how each sentence is related to the preceding one. If it’s not obvious, use “that is, for example, in general, on the other hand, nevertheless, as a result, because, nonetheless,” or “despite.”
  11. Revise several times with the single goal of improving the prose.
  12. Read it aloud.
  13. Find the best word, which is not always the fanciest word. Consult a dictionary with usage notes, and a thesaurus.

Spotter: Big Think

Posted: 27th, March 2019 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts | Comment


EU ends speeding, driverless cars for everyone – car insurance is dead

speeding eu driverless cars

The EU plans to introduce technology to limit the speed of vehicles sold in Europe from 2022. “Every year, 25,000 people lose their lives on our roads,” says EU Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska. “The vast majority of these accidents are caused by human error. With the new advanced safety features that will become mandatory, we can have the same kind of impact as when safety belts were first introduced.” UK charity Brake says speed is a contributory factor in about a quarter of all fatal crashes. There were 26,610 people killed or seriously injured on British roads in the year ending June 2018.

No word yet on whether limiters will be fitted to police cars and other emergency vehicles. But the Daily Express cites the move as evidence that EU chiefs are “STILL meddling in British affairs”. The Mirror hails it as “the end of speeding”.

The other way to end speeding is to end speed limits, like on sections of Germany’s autobahns. Recent proposed speed limit enforcements over there were slammed as going “against all common sense” by Minister of Transportation Andrews Scheuer. The EU versus Germany – discuss.

The upshot of this legislation is to hasten moves towards driverless trucks, vans and cars. When people are not in control of their vehicles, we can do away with driver insurance. As Adrian Wooldridge noted:

When people are no longer in control of their cars they will not need driver insurance—so goodbye to motor insurers and brokers. Traffic accidents now cause about 2m hospital visits a year in America alone, so autonomous vehicles will mean much less work for emergency rooms and orthopaedic wards. Roads will need fewer signs, signals, guard rails and other features designed for the human driver; their makers will lose business too. When commuters can work, rest or play while the car steers itself, longer commutes will become more bearable, the suburbs will spread even farther and house prices in the sticks will rise. When self-driving cars can ferry children to and from school, more mothers may be freed to re-enter the workforce. The popularity of the country pub, which has been undermined by strict drink-driving laws, may be revived. And so on.

Why buy a car when you can take out a subscription to one? But will your vehicle be able to pass the Turing Test – you want to hear your taxi driver’s opinions on Brexit, don’t you? Or is humanity obsolete?

“People are lashing out justifiably,” said Douglas Rushkoff, a media theorist at City University of New York and author of the book “Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus.” He likened driverless cars to robotic incarnations of scabs — workers who refuse to join strikes or who take the place of those on strike.

“There’s a growing sense that the giant corporations honing driverless technologies do not have our best interests at heart,” Mr. Rushkoff said. “Just think about the humans inside these vehicles, who are essentially training the artificial intelligence that will replace them.”

You’re hermetically sealed inside a box and you’ve given Google the keys. They don’t just know where you’ve been on the web – they know every physical move you’ve made, too. The freedom of the open road is a thing of the past. So, dude, where’s my flying car..?

Posted: 27th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians, Technology | Comment


Look busy – the Porn Laws are coming

porn laws
Ban this sick filth

Fill your kinky boots on porn while you can, gels and guys. The Government is getting ready to collect the lot in a giant carrier bag (recycled) and lob it into a virtual hedge. From April 1 all porn viewed in the UK will be filtered from the web.

You can only see the stuff if you verify your age by buying a ‘porn licence’ at the shops (price: around £10), or by punching your details into the porn website – credit card, driving licence or passport details will do.

What can possibly go wrong?

But it might be good news for content makers. Porn sites only need to sign up if more than one third of their content is smut. Look out for HardCore.com covering Crufts, anything by Noel Edmonds and publishing minutes of governmental discussions on Uganda. (Anorak is available for syndication.)

The State-approved censors at the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) will police the age-verification system. Non-compliant sites will be blocked and liable for fines up to £250,000.

Avid onanists will, as ever, find a way to circumvent the rules. Copies of the Argos summer catalogue (patio furniture section) will be available in a brown paper wrapper from the usual address. Doggers, as you were.

Posted: 25th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Biased media: Tabloids say British Pakistanis are a threat to national security

Madrassa Briitsh

On the Daily Star’s page 2 a story about “British kids” being taken to Pakistan “and enrolled in chilling extremist summer schools”. These schools offer a “glorified version of jihad”. We hear from a “source” – unnamed. They opine: “It is highly likely his education in Pakistan, even for a short period, increases the risk of extremism for British-Pakistani children.”

Always a pity than you don’t know the name of the person giving you their opinion, especially one outlining a potential threat to national security which implicates British citizens.

pakistan madrassa

As for the story, the Star says it’s in a “secret report by the Home Office”. An earlier and fuller version of this story appeared in the Mail two days previously. “Terrorism fears as 3,000 UK children a year go to ‘jihadi’ schools in Pakistan, secret government report reveals,” says the Mail. The inverted commas should alert circumspect readers to the fact that these schools are not jihadi schools.

Like the Star, the Mail says the news is “chilling” and “secret”. That voice is again heard telling us: “It is highly likely that this education in Pakistan, even for short periods of time, increases the risk of exposure to extremism for British-Pakistani children,’ the source told The Mail on Sunday.” The teaching takes place in “Pakistan’s estimated 20,000 madrasas”.

Are these madrases all a worry for the British government? Er, no. The Mail says the report “identifies three madrasas of concern – the Darul Uloom Haqqania (DUH) madrasa in the remote Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region bordering Afghanistan; the Jamia Binoria in Karachi and Jamiatul Uloom Ul Islamia in Azad Kashmir. Each has denied involvement in extremism.”

How many British children have even been to one of those three schools? Dunno. Having cast a pall of suspicion over all British-Pakistanis who choose to give their children more education, the Star and Mail don’t say.

But we are told: “Two of the 7/7 bombers, Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer, enrolled on madrasa courses in Pakistan a year before they launched their deadly attack in 2005, which killed 52.” Khan was 30 when he committed an act of mass murder. Tanweer was 22. Neither was a child sent to a ‘jihadi’ school by the parents. Both were grown men when they went to school in Pakistan. The Sunday Times said Khan was assessed by MI5 in 2004, after his name appeared during an investigation into a plan to detonate a 600-lb truck bomb in London. Tanweer “looked up to Khan as a “father figure”. What role any madrasa played in their barbarity is moot.

So about those madrases… There’s no proof they’re any threat to this country at all.

Posted: 25th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Tabloids | Comment


After Christchurch: Don’t worry Jacinda the killer’s name will soon be forgotten

Jacinda Ardern

When fans of West Ham United taunt Spurs’ ‘Yid Army’ with the chant ‘He’s coming for you, he’s coming for you, we won’t say his name, but he’s coming for you’ we know they mean Hitler. At first glance that ‘he’ could refer to any number of anti-Semites, but the song often comes with a hissing sound supposed to evoke the sound of Nazi gas ovens. It’s Hitler. Move on.

And we know the name of another racist mass murderer, the man who slaughtered Muslims as they prayed in Christchurch, New Zealand. But should we say it? The country’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern told her parliament: “He is a terrorist. He is a criminal. He is an extremist. But he will, when I speak, be nameless.”

Right now the killer’s name will be familiar to more people than those of his victims. And that is both understandable and lamentable. But knowing one victim’s story can help us understand the pain of the many. Six million Jews were murdered in World War 2. That huge number of stolen lives is too vast to comprehend. But thanks to Anne Frank’s diary, we get to focus on one human life snuffed out, and we connect. We can empathise and walk in her shoes.

Fifty people were murdered at Christchurch. Mucad Ibrahim was three. What can you say about a three-year-old out with his loving family? He was “energetic, playful and liked to smile and laugh a lot” says his brother. Can you stand it?

Omar Faruk “usually worked on Fridays and always felt sorry he can’t attend the Friday prayers,” says his wife Sanjida Zaman Neha. “But last Friday he called her to say was let off work early because it was raining.”

“I want him back. I would rather that I went than him,” says Junaid Kara’s bother Ismail. “I’m the naughty twin, he’s the better one and that’s how it is. That’s all I want to say about my brother.” It’s the facts that sting. The little things make it human. It’s hard to bear. The horror becomes real through the ordinary details, painfully so.

Their killer wanted to end lives and through murder achieve fame. He live-streamed the massacre and posted his manifesto online. He craved the oxygen on publicity. He wanted his heinous crime to stand for something bigger. It doesn’t. It represents nothing but his depravity. Analysing his words for meaning invests in them a power they lack. Watching people murdered says more about you than him. And it says nothing good.

So should we say his name? Does saying it make the horror more real and more likely to reoccur? Is censorship born from fear of triggering copycat crimes – handing other inadequate bastards a ready-packaged reason to plug the moral vacuum in their lives – or respect for the dead and bereaved?

Arden shouldn’t worry. Try this: can you name any of the 19 hijackers who murdered 2,977 people in 9/11? How about the 4 bombers who murdered 56 people on 7/7? What about the man who murdered 22 people killed at the Manchester Arena? Not all names stick for long do they? The Christchurch killer’s name won’t either. You’ll remember the event but nearly all of us will forget the killer.

Posted: 21st, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment


Lottery winner Ade Goodchild saves us from Brexit

Ade Goodchild

You can’t come out from under there yet. And go easy on those provisions you’ve stored and planned to live on until March 29 when you could re-emerge into society. And save some of the Buffalo mozzarella – that stuff could be worth more than gold in post-Brexit Islington. Brexit is being delayed, well, it will be if Theresa May can get permission from the EU – you know, the body the country rejected in favour of being sovereign. There, there. Hush. Banging your head into the wall won’t help in the long run. And by the time you come out, the Polish repair team will have left for China. Here, to keep you going is a copy of the Daily Star.

daily star lotto

There’s little talk of Brexit on planet Star. The paper focuses on breasts and factory worker Ade Goodchild, who has won £71m in the EuroMillions lottery. He was the only winner of the £71,057,439 prize on Friday. The BBC says he’ll travel the world and buy a home with a swimming pool.

ade goodchild

You cares what colour your passport is when you’ve loadsa money? Good for Ade. And his fortune might be better news for our MPs, too, because Ade is looking for staff. If he needs a boat, Chris Grayling Ferries can sort him out; John ‘ORDER!’ Bercow is handy in restaurants; and Jeremy Corbyn is a shoo-in as a travel agent, fixing trips to Iran, Russia and Venezuela.

And what millionaire doesn’t need a life-size weather house? Call me, Mrs May, I have ideas…

Posted: 21st, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, Money, News, Politicians, Tabloids | Comment


John Bercow v Brexit: you sweet beautiful man

John Bercow Brexit
Daily Mail

John Bercow is the “smug Speaker” (Sun) who yelled “Bollocks to Brexit” (see Mrs Bercow’s bumper sticker) who “ambushed” (Mail) the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal. Bercow, the House of Commons’ warden, told MPs that Theresa May cannot bring her deal back for a third vote without “substantial changes”. We cannot have “Groundhog May” (Mirror). Rules are rules. And the ruling Mr Bercow cited from 1604 justifies his decision to block a third vote.

That’s 1604 the year, not 16:04 the time – and given the volatile nature of Brexit negotiation you’re forgiven for confusing the two.

John Bercow Brexit
The Sun

Henry Deedes, writing in the Mail is upset. His paper, which supports May’s deal, says Bercow fired an “Exorcet rocket straight to the core” of May’s Brexit strategy. An Exorcet is the French-made missile used by the Argentines to sink the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Sheffield during the Falklands War. Twenty man were killed. From deadly missile to cheap shot. How language moves on. But at least laws stay rooted.

Daily Express

The Express calls Bercow “The Brexit Destroyer”. The Sun opts for similarly warlike imagery, saying Bercow “torpedoed Theresa May’s EU deal”. “GOTCHA!” as an alternative take on this might have put it. The paper’s editorial calls Bercow “obnoxious, discredited and shameless”. Well, he is also an MP.

Only the Mirror is non-plussed. The news features on its page 2 – that’s the page nobody reads. Well, that’s not exactly true. John Bercow reads it because he’s on it. The replicant incubating in his loins needs the sustenance of media coverage.

John Bercow Brexit
Daily Mirror

What next? Well, for Bercow and his Tourette’s-like scream ‘Divisionnnnnn” the opportunity to sort out camp rations in the I’m a Celebrity jungle surely beckons. For the rest of us, it’s apathy and Ray Mears boxsets.

Posted: 19th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians, Tabloids | Comment