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Key Posts | Anorak - Part 6

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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


Madeleine McCann: spotted in 90 countries; Netflix is ill; and the making of Our Maddie

kate mccann maddie

“How much worse can it get for the Portugal travel and tourism industry?” asks one website in response to the eight-part Netflix drama, a feast on the Madeleine McCann story. The question is left unanswered. But we can guess because when it comes to the media’s ‘Our Maddie’, aside from the single fact – child vanishes – guessing is all we have.

The Tab taps into the media narrative of a Maddie in every county, by telling us “These are all the Maddie McCann ‘sightings’ since she went missing in 2007”. Spoiler alert: she’s not been spotted anywhere since she vanished. Other children have. But not her. The last few years have thrown up very few ‘sighting’ but by 20011, the innocent child who vanished had been spotted in India, Canada, ItalySwedenPortugalSpain,  Morocco, Majorca,BelgiumBosniaFranceAustraliaBrazil,Wales, MaltaItaly, Germany, Australia, France, DubaiDorsetUSA and New Zealand (by boat). The Tab has more but, unhelpfully, without links:

Algeria, Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Azores, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, Canary Islands, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dubai, Egypt, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, French Polynesia, The Gambia, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ibiza, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jersey, Jordan, Kenya, Kosovo, Laos, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Madagascar, Madeira, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, United Kingdom, Ukraine, USA, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela and Vietnam.

The world is full of sleuths and suspects. And Maddies. And you can play along. Irish website Extra invites its readers to play armchair detective. The headline appears to be more suggestive than a puppy sat by a pile of poo: “HERE ARE THE 48 QUESTIONS KATE MCCANN DIDN’T ANSWER ABOUT MADDIE’S DISAPPEARANCE.” Stop Press: before you read on and start speculating, Kate McCann is not a suspect in her daughter’s vanishing. Gerry McCann is not a suspect. Both are innocent. In fact, there are no suspects. Everybody is innocent.

Not that this is all about an alleged crime. It isn’t even about the McCanns as real people – not since Madeleine McCann, the name her parents call her by, was reworked into ‘Maddie’ by a press pushed for headline space and concerned the story of the missing English blonde might sound a bit, you know, French. This is entertainment.

Get this in the Mail: “Madeleine McCann’s parents are ‘furious’ after retired detective repeats claim in new Netflix series that they put toddler’s life at risk by publicising her distinctive eye mark.” After the fury, the story:

Gerry and Kate McCann, both 51, from Rothley in Leicestershire, were said to be livid that Goncalo Amaral has again said the three-year-old’s life was endangered after the couple revealed the distinctive mark in her eye.

The abductor may have felt forced to kill the toddler after the mark was publicised, Mr Amaral, 59, suggested, due to her being easily identified.
Mr Amaral, who led the police investigation into the 2007 Praia de Luz disappearance, originally made the comments in a book he wrote in 2008.

He said it over ten years ago. An unnamed source tells the Sunday Mirror: “Mr Amaral doesn’t seem to have any compassion for Kate and Gerry and is only interested in publicising himself. To criticise them for doing ­everything they could to help find their daughter is insensitive in the extreme… If there is any defamatory content in there then, of course, they will consider what next steps need to be taken.”

A reported statement from the McCanns – via Digital Spy – reads:

“The production company told us that they were making the documentary and asked us to participate.We did not see – and still do not see – how this programme will help the search for Madeleine and, particularly given there is an active police investigation, it could potentially hinder it. Consequently, our views and preferences are not reflected in the programme.”

And on and on it goes. Screw the lowered ambition of a trite documentary. Why not go for the theatre play? The Mousetrap could use a rival.

Posted: 17th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, Madeleine McCann, News | Comment


Transfer balls: Monchi agrees Arsenal move and joins Seville

On February 25 this year, the Daily Mirror reported: “Arsenal transfer news: Monchi ‘agrees deal’ to become Gunners sporting director.” Yesterday, Ramon Rodriguez Verdejo, better known as ‘Monchi’ and blessed with the looks of a detective in the Obscene Publications Squad, started work in his new job at Sevilla.

What happened? Well, the Mirror’s scoop was based on an article in Il Messaggero, which said Arsenal had agreed to pay the “£2million” needed to activate the buy-out clause in his Roma contract. The odd bit is that the Italian website reports two days after the Mirror’s story – and this through Google Translate:

Evening Standard publishes today, Rome would have already resigned itself to salute Monchi. The current Giallorossi ds seems destined to reach Arsenal, one of the most glorious English clubs. The London newspaper notes that Monchi could even leave the Capital in advance, if the ‘Gunners’ pay a termination clause of around 3 million.

To the Standard, then, to read on February 26:

Roma are increasingly resigned to the departure of sporting director Monchi, with Arsenal a leading contender to hire him in the summer…

Monchi has been at Roma since 2017 and his contract, which has two more years to run, is thought to contain a release clause of around £2.6million.

Nothing agreed at all. And the fee is an issue. But one day earlier talkSport said it was a done deal – just look at the URL:

And on March 8, the Sun told us:

Monchi arsenal

Today the BBC reports: “Monchi will return to La Liga club Sevilla as sporting director, ending reported links with Arsenal.”

Such are the facts.

Posted: 17th, March 2019 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Key Posts, Sports | Comment


Comic Relief: David Lammy shamed whites into not giving

Comic RElief

Two stories about Comic Relief, the BBC’s tired telethon. What is about the BBC that shows are celebrated chiefly for their longevity? And those presenters who go on for eons – but at least Dr Who gets to regenerate his genitalia every couple of years. Maybe it’s about institutions needing other institutions to make the mob bow to their edifices of permanency and legacy? Or maybe it’s just laziness?

The first Comic Relief story is that some Tory MPs are angry (natch.) that the fundraiser dresses to the Left. The Mail on Sunday calls it an “AD FOR CORBYN”. In which case, hard cheese, Jezza, because the Sunday Times says Comic Relief raised £8m less than last year – £63m compared with £71.3m.

The blame for less cash is apparently rooted in Labour MP David Lammy citing tin rattlers for their “white saviour” complex. When the Beeb’s pro-celeb dance champion and journalist Stacey Dooley, 32, uploaded a photo of herself posing with a young African child in Uganda she captioned it “Obsessed!”, “as if she was plugging a new face cream, not holding an unhappy Ugandan child.” Lammy saw it and tweeted: “The world does not need any more white saviours.”

The Times notes today: “Others said they had decided not to donate this year because they did not want to be accused of acting like a “white saviour”.” Nice one, Dave. Middle-class whites with spare cash will spend it on something else. What does Jess Phillips spend her money on? Farrow & Ball paint, festival tickets and Waitrose, possibly.

So how can we redistribute the world’s wealth and keep narcissistic politicians and celebs happy? Fair trade coffee, au pairs, cocaine and Filipino maids are a start. But this is about giving and who gets to give freely. We don’t tick a box declaring our race when donating money to Comic Relief, but maybe we should. In the current climate of identity politics, the State can use the data to work out which sort of people give the least and which give the most. Much fairer that way, right?

Africa’s poor will be waiting.

Posted: 17th, March 2019 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, Money, News, TV & Radio | Comment


After Christchurch: Daily Mail discovers the killer’s angelic blonde roots

Daily Mail Christchurch blonde

Did you know that the man who murdered 49 people as they prayed in a Christchurch mosque was once a blonde? You can mull over that as the Mail thought it wise to broadcast footage of the murderer’s live-streamed killing spree. The same papers that attacked Facebook for giving mass murder a platform – The Mail, The Sun and The Mirror – all ran excerpts online. In the race for web traffic, anything goes.

daily mail new zealand facebook
They are shameless; we are reporting

The videos were on the same pages as adverts for London North Eastern Railway (LNER) and Coral on The Mail and The Sun websites. The videos have now been removed.

Was the ISIS maniac ever an ‘angelic boy’ – or blonde?
Daily Mail Christchurch
For edited highlights click here

The Mail thought it informative to allow readers to download of the attacker’s 84-page manifesto as a PDF. It’s been removed from the site.

Andy Dawson puts it well:

Oh, and it’s not about Facebook. To blame the massacre on social media is a cop out. Nazis didn’t need social media to turn an entire nation to murderous extremism. The fear is that individuals with a warped agenda based on hating a group will see themselves as part of something bigger.

Posted: 16th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Tabloids | Comment


Man stands guard outside Manchester mosque to protect his friends

Mosque guard Manchester

After the massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand, a man in Manchester has taken up a role as a volunteer security guard outside the mosque in Levenshulme. “You are my friends,” says his message of support, “I will keep watch while you pray.”

It might be a time to say guards and police are routine outside synagogues in the UK. But all you can really says is ‘good on him [note]’.

Note: Who he is we don’t know. But the anticipation is that he’ll be hailed and then rubbished. Let’s not all stay in our lanes.

Update: his name’s Andrew Graystone.

He says: “I woke up on Friday morning and I heard the terrible news about the killings in the mosque in Christchurch in New Zealand. I began to think about how I would feel if I was a Muslim in Manchester going to Friday prayers today, perhaps feeling afraid or angry, and what small thing I could do to make a difference. You can either meet these things with either fear or friendship – that’s the choice we have to make and in the end friendship wins.”

Nice one.

Posted: 16th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


After New Zealand: Tom Watson calls Mark Zuckerberg ‘wicked’ and blames Facebook for massacre

Forty-nine people are known to have been murdered as they prayed in a New Zealand mosque. The killer live-streamed the massacre on Facebook. On LBC Radio, Labour Deputy Leader Tom Watson used his hosted show to call Mark Zuckerberg, the owner of Facebook, “wicked”. Watson said he “dreams of the day” when he no longer has to use social media.

The Sun New Zealand massacre

Watson sounds like the intro to 1970s TV show Why Don’t You?, which advised British children tuning in to turn the telly off and get a life – but only after they’d finished watching this show, which was more pure than all the other shows. So by all means use Twitter and Facebook, but only listen to people who advocate “decency”, like Tom Watson.

The Daily Telegraph calls the slaughter the first social media terror attack. The Sun calls the killer the ‘FACEBOOK TERRORIST”. The Mail says it’s the “MASSACRE SHAME ON FACEBOOK”. The mood is clear: more censorship is required to prevent a repeat of this. But is that how you stop a disease from spreading? And who gets to decide what we, the impressionable masses, get to see?

You can argue about what kind of person seeks out a video of people being murdered, and why anyone not involved in psychopathic studies would want to spend a muon of their time reading the killer’s long manifesto. But should things be banned?

daily mail new zealand facebook

Maybe context is key? In France, the odious Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right National Rally, is being investigated for her tweets. Her response to suggestions that the Far-Right has much in common with jihadism was to tweet the pointer “This is Daesh” and a series of gruesome photos. She thought it useful to show her followers images of a man being burned alive in a cage and decapitated US journalist James Foley. Le Pen has been charged with “circulating violent pictures liable to be seen by children”. “Sharing is caring,” says the blurb beneath social media icons. Not always it isn’t.

So, who else be blamed?

The Hill:

“New Zealand Police alerted us to a video on Facebook shortly after the livestream commenced and we quickly removed both the shooter’s Facebook and Instagram accounts and the video,” Mia Garlick, Facebook’s director of policy for Australia and New Zealand, said in a statement. Facebook is “removing any praise or support for the crime and the shooter or shooters as soon as we’re aware,” Garlick added.

A caller to Watson’s show said words heard in any video can be transcribed by machine learning. If the broadcast features a word on the banned list, then the video is flagged. So, for instance, a video of Tom Watson talking about “porn” and “white supremacy” would be flagged and blocked at the gate. The problem with that approach is clear. No platforming words and ideas diminishes us all.

What to do? Well, a word from Waleed Aly is worth listening to:

Posted: 16th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians, Tabloids, Technology | Comment


Plastic bag walks across the road – video

I say, I say, i say, how did the plastic bag cross the road? First insert a frozen chicken, then warm in the sun and wait.

Posted: 16th, March 2019 | In: Gifs, Key Posts, Strange But True | Comment


The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann: TV at its most pathetic

mccann maddie podcast

Netflix’s Madeleine McCann documentary was full of shocks and theories from experts in ‘Our Maddie’ Studies (OMS). So dire was the that the missing child’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, refused to take part. How can you fill an eight-part TV show if the people who knew the subject best won’t say anything new? Will eight hours of grainy footage, newspaper cuttings and speculation be enough to keep subscribers tuned in to a show without end?

The director wants “to take the viewer on the journey that the public went on”. This is what happens when you watch the X Factor too often: you realise a journey can lead nowhere.

The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann opted for timeline over insight. So we get Madeleine McCann jetting off on her hols; Madeleine McCann playing on her hols; Madeleine McCann going missing on her hols; get the full glossary of OMS terms – Cuddle Cat, Tapas 7, Arguido, Amaral – and then lots of ‘Our Maddie’, and how the British child became public property and a docu-drama on pay-for-view US telly.

The single thread story spun by a voracious media was all Netflix had and it wasn’t going to bother finding anything more.

If you know what happened to her, call the police. If you want to see a crime show, watch an Agatha Christie.

Posted: 15th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, Madeleine McCann, News, TV & Radio | Comment


College bribery scam: the education system is a game; Hallmark sacks actress; rich kids are just donors-in-waiting

Hallmark Channel has severed business dealings with actress Lori Loughlin. Hallmark dims the lights to a 20watt soft-focus in rose-pink, tilts its head, and says it’s “saddened” by news of the allegations that Lori pays to game the college system.

Who knew? We thought America was a meritocracy. The fact that Ivy League schools take in more children of families in the top 1 per cent of the income distribution than from the bottom 60 per cent was surely just a weird quirk.

Loughlin, previously seen on Full House, the Garage Sale Mysteries films and When Calls the Heart, and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, are accused of bribing college officials to get their children into decent schools. They and others are implicated in a scam to pass their progeny off as bright and able, often as budding athletic stars.

The FT:

The children of the accused parents were presented as nationally ranked athletes in tennis (Georgetown), pole-vaulting and rowing (University of Southern California), women’s soccer (Yale), and sailing (Stanford); but these “sailors” didn’t know a tiller from a toolbox. In some cases, photographs of athletes were Photoshopped to look like the applicants.

I sail therefore I math.

(Has anyone actually seen Prince Edward play real tennis? The Earl of Wessex scored a C and two Ds at A level. He was given a place at Cambridge to read history – a course kids with less hidden talents needed 3 As to attend.)

Investigators claim Loughlin and Giannulli agreed to pay $500,000 in bribes to help their daughters get into the University of Southern California, by pretending they were crew-team recruits… The fallout has also extended to Loughlin’s daughters, Olivia Jade Giannulli and Isabella Rose Giannulli. Sephora dropped its partnership with Olivia, a YouTube star and social media influencer. Critics are now calling for USC to expel both of the young women.

Not their fault, though, right, that their neurotic, vain, insecure and needy parents look like skinflints? Reports suggest Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law, got into Harvard after his father made the school a $2.5m donation. Look not at my thicko daughter’s apathy, dead headmaster, but consider instead the state of the taps in your bathroom and how solid gold ones never rust.

The system is flawed. A USA Today writer opines: “As Stanford and Yale and the University of Southern California scramble to distance themselves from these criminal corruptions, perhaps we might all consider all the legal corruptions of the entire college admissions process.”

Tyler Cowan adds: “First, these bribes only mattered because college itself has become too easy, with a few exceptions. If the bribes allowed for the admission of unqualified students, then those students would find it difficult to finish their degrees. Yet most top schools tolerate rampant grade inflation and gently shepherd their students toward graduation. That’s because they realize that today’s students (and their parents) are future donors (and potential complainers on social media). It is easier for professors and administrators not to rock the boat. What does that say about standards at these august institutions of higher learning?”

It all says one thing: school’s a racket. Learn a trade. Do a job.

Posted: 15th, March 2019 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, Money, News | Comment