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Prince Harry and Meghan: ghost voters and big banks

In January, Prince Harry (not HRH) sat down for talks with Saad-Eddine El Othmani, prime minister of Morocco, Peter Mutharika, president of Malawi and Filipe Nyusi, president of Mozambique at the UK-Africa investment conference. It was one of his last jobs as a working royal. The Mail says that after the formal chats: “The VIPs then rushed to a private room at the Intercontinental Hotel for an informal ‘catch-up’ chat – but unusually they insisted no No 10 or Palace aides were present to ensure the talks were kept private.”

What could they have to talk about they don’t want the commoners to know? Private Eye reports that Mr Nyusi might not be everyone’s cup of fair-trade, organic tea. His election last year was, we’re told, marred by “violence and a climate of fear”. Votes in Gaza province “exceeded the number of dual inhabitant by 300,000”.

Observers noted several incidents across the country where people were found trying to enter polling stations with extra ballots marked for Frelimo.

On Friday, the US embassy expressed “significant concerns regarding problems and irregularities” during the voting and counting which “raise questions about the integrity of these procedures and their vulnerability to possible fraudulent acts.”

The European Union’s election observation mission said “an unlevel playing field was evident throughout the campaign. The ruling party dominated the campaign in all provinces and benefitted from the advantages of incumbency.”

The Eye quips: “Just the sort of ‘progressive’ type a modern real wants to rub shoulders with.” But, of course, Harry did it out of duty. It was a State-run function.

Another Harry appointment, one attended in a private capacity with his wife Meghan, was hosted by JP Morgan in Miami. A “source” told the New York Post’s Page Six, the couple “headlined” the bank’s Alternative Investment Summit. “It was all very hush-hush, with a lot of security,” we’re told. The Mirror says Harry and Meghan could have been paid £400,000 for supporting the event.

JP Morgan:

In November 2013, JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s largest bank, agreed to pay a then-record $13 billion fine to federal and state authorities in order to settle claims that it had misled investors in the years leading up to the financial crisis.

Trying to earn enough money to maintain your lifestyle might not be all that easy for post-royal Harry and Meghan, a couple so ethically right that he says buying fruit in plastic is “a dirty habit”. Spin the wheel, and hold your nose. Or retain as nurses.

Posted: 12th, February 2020 | In: Celebrities, Money, News, Politicians, Royal Family | Comment


Pitch@Palace loses the palace: Prince Andrew moves out

prince andrew epstein
Prince Andrew: “Buck Off”

You can still see traces of Prince Andrew on the website for Pitch@Palace, his beauty show for budding entrepreneurs. News is that Andrew’s company has moved from its Buckingham Palace base into new office space. The name continues, however, suggesting that a new palace needs to be found to keep the brand alive. There’s the Palace Gentlemen’s Club in New Jersey, the Tower of London or inside a used mackintosh?

PS – on his website, the Duke of York is said to be a full-time working member of the Royal Family. He stepped down from royal duties last November over his relationship with the paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

Posted: 10th, February 2020 | In: Money, News, Royal Family | Comment


Lie on your CV if you’re name ends with a vowel or you’re not called John

racism jobs

Funke Abimbola claims she was victim of “bias” when she tried to get into the legal profession. She tells the BBC: “I found a number of barriers to entering the profession because I had an African name and am a black woman, without any doubt. I had to make over 100 phone calls to get a foot in the door. I have experienced bias and situations where, being a black woman, I was judged more harshly over other colleagues. You are more likely to be noticed and are far more likely to have negative judgements made about you if you are part of an ethnic minority.”

Should you put a false name on your CV if it ends in a vowel or sounds ‘foreign’ to employers’ ears? My own family changed their name twice – once because the officials at the gates misspelt it and once from the Sephardic Benhamu to the more anglicised Benham.

Change your name or leave it off your CV? “Your name no longer matters on your CV,” the Daily Telegraph announced in 2015. CVs are going “name blind”. You can remove age, address, gender and educational background also. This will, at least, make the initial stage of the recruitment process more open, so the thinking goes. Until you get to the diversity box, that is, the one that asks applicants to declare their religion, ethnic roots, sexuality and disability status. Has this box-ticking helped job seekers from minority backgrounds? Has it helped end prejudice or discrimination aimed at someone on the basis of their race?

In 2017, the BBC told us:

A job seeker with an English-sounding name was offered three times the number of interviews than an applicant with a Muslim name, a BBC test found.

Inside Out London sent CVs from two candidates, “Adam” and “Mohamed”, who had identical skills and experience, in response to 100 job opportunities.

Adam was offered 12 interviews, while Mohamed was offered four.

Although the results were based on a small sample size, they tally with the findings of previous academic studies.

Meet ‘Honest John’:

Yogesh Khrishna Davé, 56, is the director for quality at a pharmaceutical company in Slough. It has taken him decades to reach this senior role.

During the journey up the ladder he suspected he was being consistently overlooked for jobs because of his name. So he secretly carried out his own experiment. 

“I entered the job market in the 80s. I put my CV in and it was disappointing. I got rejection letters.

“Someone suggested: ‘Why don’t you put a very English name on your CV [as well as sending one in your own name]… and see who they might offer the job to?’ So I had my name, Yogesh, and John Smith. John Smith got the interview. I got rejected for the interview.”

None of this mans you’re going to ge the job, of course. The employer will still want to see you. The results of an independent review by Sir John Parker (that is his real name) into the ethnic diversity of UK boards is out. You can read it here.

Meet ‘Honest John II’ in the Times:

The Parker Review, which was launched in 2017, has found that 37 per cent of FTSE 100 boards still have all-white boards. Although the latest figures are an improvement on the 50 per cent that had no ethnic minority representation three years ago, its latest report said that progress had been slower than hoped.

Sir John Parker, who heads the review — and sits on an all-white board himself as chairman of Pennon Group, the water company — accused businesses of being complacent in their approach.

Look lively. It’s ‘Honest Jon III’:

Separate research by the Financial Reporting Council, the watchdog that sets the UK’s corporate governance code, found that most companies were failing to adequately report and set targets for ethnic diversity. More than half of FTSE 250 companies fail to mention ethnicity in the board diversity policy. Only 14 per cent of FTSE 100 companies and 2 per cent of FTSE 250 companies set measurable ethnicity targets.

Sir Jon Thompson, 55, chief executive of the regulator, said: “The UK’s record on boardroom ethnicity is poor. It is unacceptable that talented people are being excluded from succession and leadership simply because companies are failing to put in place appropriate policies on boardroom ethnicity.”

In conclusion: you can never have enough Johns in charge of fairness…

Posted: 5th, February 2020 | In: Key Posts, Money, News | Comment


City Trader accused of eating sandwiches

city sandwich
A bacon sandwich is prepared after a study found body fat and obesity are far more closely linked to cancer than is generally realised. Picture date: Wednesday 31 October 2007. The study found strong evidence that red meat and processed meats were a cause of bowel cancer. Examples included ham, bacon, pastrami, salami, and frankfurters. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Photo credit should read: Anthony Devlin/PA Ref #: PA.5297529 Date: 31/10/2007

The BBC reports on a report in the Financial Times which alleges a City trader at Investment bank Citigroup was allegedly suspended for “stealing food from the staff canteen”. You will, of course have noticed the caveats in that opening line. The trader earns, reportedly, over £1m a year – more than enough to afford a pricey lawyer. Allegedly. It is alleged “he helped himself to sandwiches from the canteen at the bank’s London headquarters”.

Sandwiches.

Posted: 4th, February 2020 | In: Money, News | Comment


Aviva treats every customer just like ‘Michael’

Aviva typing pool

Cheap words at insurer Aviva, which undid the pretence that letters are tailored to each individual customer by addressing thousands of missives to just one: ‘Michael’.

The boss doesn’t sit on a big chair dictating a new letter for each customer. Someone in marketing simply cooks one up and a machine guffs them out. Aviva tells us: “We sent out some emails to existing customers, which, as a result of a temporary technical error in our mailing template, mistakenly referred to customers as ‘Michael’.”

We tell them it’s time to bring back the typing pool.

Posted: 28th, January 2020 | In: Money, News, The Consumer | Comment


Ant McPartlin doesn’t ‘give’ Lisa Armstrong anything – she earned it

ant and dec money

Ant McPartlin “gives” his ex-wife Lisa Armstrong £31m, says the Sun. The paper claims the settlement was reached out of court. An unnamed source arrives to tell us: “Ant made a very generous settlement that works out to be more than half of everything that he has.”

Isn’t this about what ‘they’ had amassed during their long relationship and marriage? Didn’t she merely get what she was entitled to?

Why she walked away more than half we can only guess at, but no court date might mean less revelations that could damage his future earnings and that all-important image.

Posted: 16th, January 2020 | In: Celebrities, Money, Tabloids | Comment


BBC shortchange women : Samira Ahmed wins £700,000 backpay

Hold your ire about what the Royals cost, and know that the BBC have been forced by law to hand one its presenters, Samira Ahmed, £700,000 in backpay in a discrimination equal pay case.

Ahmed (female; £440 per episode) claimed she was underpaid for hosting audience write-in show Newswatch when compared with Jeremy Vine (male; £3,000 per episode)) who earned shedloads more for hosting audience write-in show Points of View. The Beeb said he gets more because he’s more widely known and so gets picked to present a more widely-watched show.

The judgment ruled: “Her work on Newswatch was like Jeremy Vine’s work on Points of View under section 65(1) of the Equality Act 2010… [the BBC] has not shown that the difference in pay was because of a material factor which did not involve subjecting the claimant [Ahmed] to sex discrimination”.

The BBC goes on the record: “We’ll need to consider this judgment carefully. We know tribunals are never a pleasant experience for anyone involved. We want to work together with Samira to move on in a positive way.”

Or to put it another way: the BBC made her sweat, spunked a load of cash on lawyers and then lost. And you, the licence-fee payer, funded it. Now wait for Samira’s predecessor, a man, to ask for his backpay. And the rest of us can wonder why Vine was paid so much.

Posted: 10th, January 2020 | In: Money, News, TV & Radio | Comment


Hypocrisy! France bemoans US trade tariffs; France wants British trade tariffs

France is upset that the US is thinking about imposing trade tariffs on French cheese, fizz, make-up and handbags. France wants to tax US business. A US ruling into French plans tells us:

The U.S. Trade Representative has completed the first segment of its investigation under section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 and concluded that France’s Digital Services Tax (DST) discriminates against U.S. companies, is inconsistent with prevailing principles of international tax policy, and is unusually burdensome for affected U.S. companies. Specifically, USTR’s investigation found that the French DST discriminates against U.S. digital companies, such as Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon

Messy. And hypocritical of the French, mais no? If France believes tariffs are wrong, it should argue for free trade deal between the EU and the the post-Brexit UK. But it isn’t.

Posted: 4th, December 2019 | In: Money, News, Politicians | Comment


A little kitchen painting sells for $26.8million

'Christ Mocked' by Florentine artist Cimabue

‘Christ Mocked’ by Florentine artist Cimabue (Giotto’s teacher) was created around 1280. It’s been in someone’s kitchen in France was ages. And now it’s sold at auction for $26.8.

From Smithsonian Mag:

[Auctioneer Philomène] Wolf spotted the painting, titled “Christ Mocked,” on display between the woman’s open-plan kitchen and living room. While she immediately suspected it was a work of Italian primitivism, she “didn’t imagine it was a Cimabue.”

Wolf turned to Eric Turquin, a Paris-based art historian who had previously identified a painting unearthed in a French attic as a long-lost Caravaggio. According to Benjamin Dodman of France 24, Turquin and his colleagues concluded with “certitude” that the new find was a genuine Cimabue.

How certain can you be that it’s the real deal?

Posted: 28th, October 2019 | In: Money, The Consumer | Comment


Public Library receipt shows how much cheaper it is to borrow than buy books

Public Library receipt shows  how much cheaper it is to  borrow than buy books

Save the libraries. They’re one of the few place you can go and sit without needing to buying anything. And you can read the books, too. But not everyone appreciates the library until the burghers say it no longer pays and it’s gone. Staff at the Wichita Public Library understand. They’ve come up with a great way to out a price on library services and show us their monetary value.

They write:


“Every time materials are borrowed from the Wichita Public Library (WPL) customers receive a receipt showing how much they have saved in that visit, the year to date, and their lifetime savings. The information is displayed on the receipt similar to the ways that retail stores show savings to club members or coupon users…


“So far this year, the highest dollar amount saved by a customer’s account is $64,734.12. And the highest dollar amount saved by a customer’s account since this feature was implemented is $196,076.21.”

Keep your local library up by using it.

Spotter: Flashbak, Open Culture 

Posted: 11th, September 2019 | In: Key Posts, Money, News | Comment


Football and betting: Stop using Liverpool, Spurs and Chelsea to advertise your own sound morals

Stop promoting 1xBet or else. News is that the Russian gambling company has no licence to operate in the UK. The Gambling Commission tells the Sunday Times it has written to Spurs, Chelsea and Liverpool, warning them to sever tis with 1xBet. The penalty for non-compliance, according to the paper: unlimited fines and up to 51 week’s prison. Spurs have terminated the deal.

The Sunday Times investigation into the firm’s global operations found that 1xBet was promoting a casino featuring topless croupiers, taking bets on children’s sports, advertising on illegal websites and cockfighting live streams emblazoned with the three club’s logos. In response to the findings, the Gambling Commission confirmed it had launched an investigation.

Some of the clubs’ top players, including Roberto Firmino, Willian and Olivier Giroud, have all fronted campaigns for the Russian company, which is now based in Cyprus.

xBet are quoted:

“We take very seriously the allegation that 1xBet’s brand has been promoted on prohibited sites, which is strictly against our policies, and we have launched an investigation. Pending the outcome . . . we believe it is responsible to temporarily suspend our advertising activity in the UK.”

Has the company been unlucky? The Times links to a wider issue, telling readers of a “growing backlash over the bankrolling of football by the gambling industry”. There is from our knowing betters. “Players need to start using their considerable power to reject gambling’s influence on football,” opined Church of England gambling spokesperson Dr Alan Smith, the Bishop of St Albans in reaction to Wayne Rooney striking deal with betting firm 32Red. And this from Labour MP Carolyn Harris, chair of the all-party parliamentary group on gambling: “When will celebrities realise that involvement in gambling is not right or moral? Many people look to Wayne Rooney as a role model and yet he is prepared to sell his soul.”

When did Wazza become employed by Public Heath England?

Troy Deeney, the Watford skipper, had a word on the tosh about role models: “I don’t like the word role model, first and foremost. The role model should be in the house at all times… What are we basing the role model on? Because we’re in the limelight. I don’t like that.”

One thing you can bet on: politicians scurrying around for a cause and sense of purpose by which to showcase their sound morals and protect the poor from themselves will keep hammering football and footballers. It’s a dead cert.

Posted: 1st, September 2019 | In: Money, News, Sports | Comment


Chinese fakery : goods rebranded ‘Made In Vietnam’

China tarrifs

Last week US President Donald Trump pledged a hike in tariffs on Chinese imports to the US. Trump accuses China of bad trading practices and intellectual property theft. USA Today has news of a Chinese work-around:

“Dozens” of products have been identified, Hoang Thi Thuy, a Vietnamese Customs Department official, told state-run media, and goods like textiles, fishery products, agricultural products, steel, aluminum, and processed wooden products were most vulnerable to the fraud.

Vietnamese state media noted that in 2017, the Customs Department exposed a company called INTERWYSE for trying to rebrand 600 Chinese-made speakers and phone chargers with a “Made in Vietnam” label.

“It will sabotage Vietnamese brands and products and it will also affect consumers. We could even get tariff retribution from other countries, and if that happens, it will hurt our economy,” Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh told the Vietnamese National Assembly last week.

Vietnam does not have any legal requirements for certification of the “Made in Vietnam” label. The country’s current regulations require that goods be produced partly or completely in Vietnam, but does not provide a mechanism for determining the veracity of the label.

What price that big US trade deal Trump’s promising for a post-Brexit UK features American goods as ‘Made in Britain’?

Posted: 26th, August 2019 | In: Money, News, Politicians | Comment


Multi-millionaire Jeremy Corbyn attacks Boris Johnson’s ‘Millionaire Friends’

Jeremy Corbyn never made it to the big Google climate shindig. As a man with an estimated net worth of £3million, chances are he wasn’t rich enough to afford a private jet and thus matter. As the right sort of stinking rich attempt to buy their way into Heaven by offsetting carbon and preaching from an exclusive, sun-kissed holiday spot, Corbyn was busy bashing the wrong sort of stinking rich. The first version of a recent video lambasted Boris Johnson’s millionaire friends. But Jez came across as a bit self-hating. So he changed it to Boris’s ‘billionaire’ friends.

And he got that wrong, too.

A 2016 investigation by Greenpeace revealed that some of the biggest recipients of EU grants that year included Queen Elizabeth (£557,707) and the UK’s youngest billionaire, the Duke of Westminster (£437,434). Other aristocrats earning hundreds of thousands of pounds from the EU – just because they own farmland – included the Earl of Moray and the Earl of Plymouth. Billionaire Brexiteer Sir James Dyson was also among the top 100 recipients of EU farm money.

Where there’s muck, there’s gold.

PS: Corbyn’s billionaire mates are the good sort.

Hugo Chavez money


According to a Forbes article in 2015, Chavez was worth an “estimated $2 billion at the time of his death [in 2013]. It is not known how many trees he planted.

Posted: 9th, August 2019 | In: Money, News, Politicians | Comment


Common business crimes and how to void them

Most common types of business crimes and how to avoid them

Businesses can deal with a number of white-collar crimes that are non-violent but are committed for financial gains. Small businesses, as well as large ones, can be at risk and taking several preventive measures is key, along with having a general risk assessment and management plan. In this article, we highlight some of the most common types of business crimes and provide information on how to avoid them.

Fraud

Included here are a series of deceitful acts committed for the purpose of obtaining money from the victim. This is a broader category that includes insurance fraud or Ponzi schemes, however, we will be referring to business or corporate fraud. This occurs when a company issues false statements or produces false documents that are used to hide the losses or illegal transactions. Maintaining a good internal control policy, training your employees to avoid fraud and working with good accountants are methods of avoiding business fraud.

If companies are accused of having committed acts that can be categorized as business fraud, a team of experienced criminal law solicitors in London can help entrepreneurs with business crime representation, as required.

Embezzlement

The act of taking money from a corporation, this can be enacted by employees who can find a manner in which they can use business funds or assets for their personal gain. Knowing your employees, as well as supervising the inventory, purchase orders and cash receipts are manners in which this action can be prevented. When needed, employers can also install security measures.

Tax evasion

Failure to pay the due taxes results in tax evasion, which is subject to penalties, as per the local tax laws. Companies can avoid being accused of tax evasion by working with a professional accountant who will file the tax returns accordingly. Tax evasion is different from tax minimization, which can be accomplished by legally using available tax deductions. 

Money laundering 

Money laundering schemes target businesses to make illegally sourced money legitimate through a transaction performed with an unsuspecting company. Businesses can avoid this by not accepting payments from unreliable sources and by implementing an anti-money laundering strategy that can include no-cash policies on transactions above a certain amount.

Protecting your business is possible by implementing a set of strategies and preventive practices as well as being aware of the possible risks. 

Posted: 7th, August 2019 | In: Money, Online-PR | Comment


The bizarre world of the Twitch millionaires

Money for playing games?

When Metro ran a story earlier this year that gaming is now bigger than the movie and music industries combined, it caused more than a few raised eyebrows. However, if you thought that simply meant people are sitting in their living rooms playing FIFA or Fortnite instead of catching a movie or listening to their Neil Sedaka CDs, think again.

In short, there is more to the gaming sector than gaming – just as there is more to the sports sector than playing sport. The eSport phenomenon has brought about the concept of gaming as a spectator activity, and the live streaming channel Twitch provides the platform for gamers to perform for their fans, often for long hours every day.

$500,000 per month for playing Fortnite

The name Richard Blevins probably means very little to anyone, but this unassuming 27-year-old from the Chicago suburbs is the man behind Ninja, the most famous Twitch streamer on the planet. Ninja started streaming in 2011, playing a variety of games, but it is as a Fortnite streamer that his fame has skyrocketed. He has more than ten million followers on Twitch, plus 7.5 million on YouTube. Ninja earns more than $500,000 per month from his streams.

Anyone who knows a little about the world of competitive gaming might well find this surprising. Sure, Fortnite is phenomenally popular as a game, but has not taken off to any significant extent as an eSport. Ninja’s streaming success shows just how complex this area of the gaming sector is becoming. People are not just watching Ninja’s streams to see how a game pans out, they are following him in almost a literal sense, to pick up tips and, perhaps, to emulate his success. In many respects, Ninja’s success is no different to that of many other social media influencers.

Streaming success and failure

Ninja might be the best known, but he is only one of a growing number of Twitch millionaires. While most are famous for streaming games like Fortnite, Overwatch, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and the like, the phenomenon is rapidly spreading to other areas of gaming. For example, playing casino online is immensely popular and is one area in which a little expert help could, literally, pay dividends. Little wonder, then, that casino streaming has become the latest growth sector on Twitch.

UK streamer Rocknrolla, for example, built a reputation as the biggest name in casino streaming on Twitch, with more than 20,000 subscribers. However, he also serves as an example of both the best and the worst of Twitch streaming.

Rocknrolla’s decision to run a 24-hour stream to raise money for charity was one he would ultimately regret. Having raised more than £16,000, everything went wrong in the final hours when an internet troll managed to get under his skin. The result? Rocknrolla lost his rag and his outburst led to a permanent ban on Twitch. Just like in the real world, living in the public eye in cyberspace can come at a cost.

Posted: 14th, May 2019 | In: Money, Online-PR | Comment


The Future of Netflix: Competition Does Not Sleep

158 million – the number of Netflix subscribers around the world, not counting all the passwords exchanged, shared accounts, and collective visions. Netflix is the home of global entertainment, not only of movies but of TV series as well. In the first quarter of 2019, Netflix scored positively in all aspects, especially considering the growing number of new customers. However, the outlook of this streaming service does not look quite so good, as we have to take into consideration the competition.

Competition is an important and tricky topic in any sector. Customers are always testing new platforms and new products, even if they have a favourite one. This is the case not only of streaming services, but also of online casinos where players test games with no deposit bonus codes, or of new music streaming platforms, such as Spotify & Co., where fans search for their favourite artists. 

The History of Netflix

Founded in 1997, Netflix’ main and original activity was the DVD and video game rental. People could book disks on the internet and receive them directly at home by mail. In 2000, Blockbuster, a leading company in the field of video rental stores, offered 50 million to buy Netflix, but the latter refused the offer and continued its own business path. 

Since 2008, Netflix has activated an online streaming service on demand, accessible by subscription. This is the beginning of the challenge between the two companies. The end of the story is known, with Blockbuster declaring bankruptcy in 2010, while Netflix continues to grow exponentially

Netflix: What now?

Netflix expects slower user growth after a strong start this year. The world’s leading online video service, which has made a name for itself with series successes such as “House of Cards” and movies like “Bird Box”, is facing a heightened competition. In addition to established rivals like Amazon or Hulu, Disney and Apple are pushing new adversaries into the booming market of Internet television. And even worse: In this critical phase, Netflix is raising prices – definitely a risky manoeuvre. But Chief Executive Reed Hastings is not afraid.

So far, there is no real reason for it. In the first quarter, Netflix had 9.6 million new subscriptions. Overall, Netflix had nearly 149 million paid memberships by the end of March 2019. However, the trend is now sinking, due also to the price increase announcements. This will noticeably slow down user growth in the current and next quarters.

For instance, Netflix announced 5 million new memberships in this current quarter, disappointing experts’ expectations. This was not a good thing for investors; for instance, the stock of the company went down. However, Netflix had a good run with a stock price increase of about 34 percent since the beginning of the year, so that the market reaction is – for now – not very meaningful. The profit of Netflix indeed climbed from 290 million to 344 million dollars in the first quarter of 2019. 

Netflix: New Competitors, Fewer Users?

Nevertheless, it can not be ignored that the market environment for Netflix should be more uncomfortable in the future. With Disney and Apple new rivals – also financially very strong – that will attack the streaming market leader, the situation will not be easy. Both the Mickey Mouse group from Hollywood and the iPhone giant from the Silicon Valley recently presented competing offers that leave no doubt about their big ambitions. In addition, also WarnerMedia attacks with its renowned pay-TV channel HBO  under the corporate roof of Telecom AT&T.

Netflix boss Hastings is clear about what is going on in his company but is combative. In his letter to shareholders, he described Apple and Disney as “world-class brands” against which Netflix would like to compete. Moreover, he does not expect the new counterparties to impact the growth of Netflix significantly. “We believe we’ll all continue to grow as we each invest more in content and improve our service and as consumers continue to migrate away from linear viewing,” said Hastings. The top manager had already emphasised in the past that the streaming market was big enough for several competitors.

The two-year period 2019-2020 will probably be important and decisive to define the future of the platform and in general of the use of home and personal entertainment. No one is a magician or a fortune teller, so predicting today what the impact of this increase in services will be complicated, if not impossible. The consumer is in danger of finding himself lost among so many proposals, with the difficulty of choosing what to subscribe to and for how long, trying to chase what will be the current fashion. Today is Netflix, tomorrow who knows.

Posted: 26th, April 2019 | In: Money, TV & Radio | Comment


Barking teenager extorted millions from porn users

Zain Qaiser
The Tosser’s Tosser

Zain Qaiser was quite the bedroom entrepreneur until the law caught up with him. Qaiser, a student from Barking, London, is estimated to have made £4m blackmailing pornography enthusiasts. Hit the wrong site, press the wrong button (often disguised as an advert on a legal porn site) and trigger malware to download. You read the message demanding money on pain of never being able to access your computer / aide to masturbation again, which has suddenly frozen. Habitual onanists might see this as a blessing.

For added punch an on-screen messages would issue an additional threat, saying something like: “HALT! This is the FBI. You have broken the law. Face jail or pay a fine. We have webcam footage of your disgusting self-abuse and will not hesitate to use it in a court of law and publish details in the Rotary Club newsletter”

Fearful of being exposed as a tossers, the threatened victim pays up and stays schtumm. And that was where the sophistication ended. Qaiser was, of course, the biggest tosser of the bunch (you have to know your victims’ flaws intimately to be an adept blackmailer) spending his cash – estimates are that he cleared £550,000 – on a vulgar and predicable Rolex watch, prostitutes (natch.), drugs and gambling, including around £70,000 at a casino in what one site calls “an upmarket shopping centre”.

Can it happen again? Not if we get our porn licences and everyone knows that everyone else is looking at smut. Of course, we already do know. Take this from 2011, in which Craig Brown harks back to the 1960s, spotting Harold Pinter, Vivien Merchant, Peter Cook, Wendy Cook, Lord Snowdon and Princess Margaret watching a post-prandial porn movie at Kenneth Tynan’s pad. The film, for you buffs, is Un Chant d’Amour by Jean Genet:

Peter Cook saves the day by starting to speak over the images. Tynan is thankful: ‘He supplied a commentary, treating the movie as if it were a long commercial for Cadbury’s Milk Flake chocolate and brilliantly seizing on the similarity between Genet’s woodland fantasies and the sylvan capering that inevitably accompanies, on TV, the sale of anything from cigarettes to Rolls-Royces. Within five minutes, we were all helplessly rocking with laughter, Princess M included.’

No sex tape was made. Or was it? Send £250 to the usual address and await further details.

Posted: 9th, April 2019 | In: Key Posts, Money, News | 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


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


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


Corbyn’s Blue Period: Laura Murray, Minted Aristocrats and a £50m Picasso

Corbyn Picasso

Gabriel Pogrund has huge news. A scoop! “EXCLUSIVE: The mystery of who sold Picasso’s “Child with a Dove” for £50M in 2013, one of the most expensive artworks ever, is today solved.” Who?! “It was the family of Laura Murray, Corbyn’s top aide, who also gifted her a £1.4m house. By me & @ShippersUnbound.”

A tale of minted former communists, nepotism, huge sums of cash, the randy Spanish goat and the man who would lead the nation. What a story this promises to be. A little aside before we tuck in: Laura Murray us being sued by Rachel Riley, co-presenter of ITV’s Countdown, for alleged libel. Now read on in the Times

Today it can be revealed that her family was behind the anonymous sale of one of the most expensive artworks in history, Pablo Picasso’s L’Enfant au Pigeon (Child with a Dove), which was sold for £50m in 2013. She also owns a share of a £1.3m north London property transferred to her by her mother, reportedly saving up to £500,000 in inheritance tax.

Murray is the daughter of Andrew Murray, 60, a key Corbyn adviser who comes from Scottish aristocracy and whose grandfather served as the imperial governor of Madras. He left the Communist Party after 40 years in 2016.


Who dares say socialism doesn’t pay? These people sound like a well-stocked elite. If we vote for them, do we all get to be their equals? Bread today – Picasso’s and pricey London pads tomorrow!

The Times adds:

Laura Murray, great-granddaughter of the 2nd Baron Aberconway, an Eton-educated Edwardian industrialist, and Lady Aberconway, his wife, who was bequeathed Picasso’s masterpiece by the art collector rumoured in the family to have been her lover, Samuel Courtauld. The Aberconway family’s decision to pull the work from public display at the Courtauld Gallery in London and put it up for sale through Christie’s, the auction house, in 2012 became a cause célèbre.

Get those Bullingdon Club application forms in the post. Corbyn and chums can yet be saved. If Picasso’s Blue Period is good enough for them, so too is Boris Johnson’s.

The identity of the seller was a mystery at the time, although speculation pointed to the branch of the family that still owns Baron Aberconway’s 5,000-acre estate in north Wales. In fact, the transaction was overseen by Laura Murray’s mother, Susan Michie, an academic, and her uncle, Jonathan Michie, an Oxford economist and university friend of Labour’s communications director, Seumas Milne. Both declined to comment.

But is it a scoop, really? In 2010, the Guardian told us:

The painting came to London in 1924 with Mrs RA Workman who was, along with her husband, a major collector of impressionist and post-impressionist art. She sold it a few years later to Samuel Courtauld, and on his death in 1947 he left it to his friend Lady Aberconway, and it had been in her family ever since.

The facts were known for years. And a quick look at a family tree could trace a line from the toff to the Trots. But the timing of the Times’ report is interesting.

Comment from Murray and the Labour Party features there none.

Posted: 10th, March 2019 | In: Money, Politicians, The Consumer | Comment


Matt Kuchar should have paid his caddie the correct rate

MAtt Kuchar Ortiz

Matt Kuchar has earned well over $45m in prize money playing golf. Last November he did something the judgemental among us can enjoy. Kuchar, 40, won the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico and banked the $1,296,000 winner’s cheque. His regular caddie was unavailable. So Kuchar hired local man David Ortiz. Caddies typically get 10% of first-prize winnings. Kuchar gave Ortiz $5,000. “He was definitely my lucky charm,” Kuchar said. “He brought me good luck and certainly some extra crowd support and did a great job as well. He did just what I was hoping for and looking for.”

Fair pay? In a way, it was. Kuchar and Ortiz had agreed a $4000 payment for a Top 10 finish. The extra $1000 was a bonus. Kuchar recognised that the $4,000 was low, so he topped it up by 25%. But that was a low act.

And then it got worse. Ortiz politely asked Kucha’s management to dig deeper. How much would be enough? Ortiz gave the figure: $50,000 – still less than half what a regular caddie could expect. Kuchar’s agent offered him $15,000. Ortiz then did the smart thing: he talked to the media. Journalist Michael Bamberger spoke to Kuchar. His reply is worth repeating. “I kind of think someone got in his ear,” said Kuchar. “For a guy who makes $200 a day, a $5,000 week is a really big week.” Bang! Bamberger had a story of greed and entitlement anyone can tuck into.

Faced with bad press, Kuchar spoke about the matter:

“It’s kind of too bad that it’s turned into a story. I really didn’t think it was a story because we had an arrangement when I started. I ended up paying him $5,000 and I thought that was more than what we agreed upon. So I certainly don’t lose sleep over this. This is something that I’m quite happy with, and I was really happy for him to have a great week and make a good sum of money. Making $5,000 is a great week.”

Oh dear. But then after more unfavourable reaction to the stinginess and reports of heckling at a subsequent tournament – “Go low, Kuch…just not on the gratuity!” yelled one spectator off the sixth tee. Fans cheered a missed putt on the 12th, and chants of “Mooch” could be heard throughout the day” – an apology finally arrived. Kuchar agreed to pay Ortiz $50,000:

“This week, I made comments that were out of touch and insensitive, making a bad situation worse. They made it seem like I was marginalising David Ortiz and his financial situation, which was not my intention. I read them again and cringed. That is not who I am and not what I want to represent. In this situation, I have not lived up to those values or to the expectations I’ve set for myself. I let myself, my family, my partners and those close to me down, but I also let David down. I plan to call David, something that is long overdue, to apologise for the situation he has been put in, and I have made sure he has received the full total that he has requested.”

When you tell the media first that you plan to call someone you short-changed and belittled, it’s all about the publicity. Kuchar pressed on:

“I never wanted to bring any negativity to the Mayakoba Golf Classic. I feel it is my duty to represent the tournament well, so I am making a donation back to the event, to be distributed to the many philanthropic causes working to positively impact the communities of Playa del Carmen and Cancun.For my fans, as well as fans of the game, I want to apologise to you for not representing the values instilled in this incredible sport.”

Screw the eponymous donation to the needy and the grandstanding. Just pick up the phone to Ortiz, apologise and on the quiet pay the guy the full whack. Don’t stop at $50,000. Pay him the $120,000.

Kuchar’s regular caddie, John Wood, then chimed in: “Nobody’s perfect. All we can do when a mistake is made is reconsider, apologise and make amends… To crucify for one mistake feels wrong.”

It does. But when anyone hears the name Matt Kuchar, they’ll always remember him for what he did wrong.

Posted: 19th, February 2019 | In: Key Posts, Money, Sports | Comment


Phone lottery scammer tried to con former CIA and FBI boss William Webster; scammer lost

William Webster lottery scam

Keniel A Thomas, 29, was a scammer who could not fail – not until he called William Webster (born March 6, 1924), the man who served as chief of the CIA and FBI. Thomas is now serving a six-year sentence. “Everybody’s vulnerable every grandmother, every grandfather,” said the former spy chief’s wife, Lynda Webster. “It seemed to me that something wasn’t quite right,” said Webster, 94. “This was pretty obvious to me that there was something fishy about it.”

The calls to the Webster home started in March 2014, with various men calling to tell William Webster he had won the lottery. In June, Thomas began calling, identifying himself as “David Morgan,” a manager with Mega Millions. However, Webster saw that he had an email address of keniel.thomas@outlook.com. He asked “Morgan” to stop calling, but Thomas not only continued to call but also sent more than 20 emails to Webster. At one point in July 2014, Thomas called Lynda Webster and told her that he knew no one was at her home the previous night. In another call, Thomas told Lynda Webster, “So easy that we go set your house ablaze, how is that? … You can be taken care of that easy.”

The FBI was able to link the Websters to other victims who had reported sending funds to Thomas or interacting with “David Morgan,” or who had sent funds to American middlemen who were also victims. Agents tracked payments through Western Union and MoneyGram to Thomas or members of his family, court records show. One California man reported receiving certified checks in exchange for sending “fees” to Jamaica, and wound up sending $85,000 to the scammers even though the certified checks all bounced.

Spotter: Washington Post

Posted: 13th, February 2019 | In: Key Posts, Money, News | Comment


The Pool RIP: people will pay for what they enjoy reading

trump magazine

Claire Woodward looks at the end of The Pool, the website for women by women that ran up crippling costs in quick time. Harking back to the era when magazines were must-haves for any teenager, she recalls hours spent devouring PippinTwinkleBuntyJintyJackieWhizzer and ChipsCor!Smash Hits, Disco 45Look-In, The BeanoThe DandyMelaniePinkBlue Jeans.

I used to read everything and anything – Tiger, Blue Jeans, Whizzer & Chips, Just 17, MAD, Resale Weekly (a trade magazine for plant machinery), my dad’s old Laugh comics from the 1950s, Punch and Women’s Own. Says Woodward:


This is a long-winded way of saying how said I was to read of the demise of women’s website The Pool, which went into administration yesterday. It was a bold, funny, relevant website for women that used a lot of great freelance writers, but it was all available for free, like the content of BuzzFeed, who announced editorial cutbacks this week. The Pool, like comedian Sarah Millican’s online women’s mag Standard Issue, found it couldn’t survive online without a subscription model (although Standard Issue is still available as a podcast).

It’s tragic, really. Writer Andy Dawson and I were lamenting The Pool’s demise on Twitter, and he wrote: “People think nothing of spending £3 for a coffee but shit their pants at the thought of forking out for something that’ll amuse and inform them for an hour.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to make websites pay. Flashbak, WhoAteAllThePies, Spiked-Online all need money to thrive. How do you do it?

Mathew Ingram lost his job at Gigaom in 2015. He talked to Poynter:

“You join these things because you’re committed to them as an idea, not just oh, hey, this would be a cool paycheck and maybe I’ll get some equity out of it,” Ingram said. “It is a lot more like a relationship than a job.” … “Maybe be prepared,” he said, “because it could happen at any time.”

A few ideas to consider. Be prepared for bad news. Wonder why you didn’t have a go yourself. Realise that magazines were always a good way to burn through cash. Journalism is not all speaking truth to power – sometimes it’s about selling shoes. People will pay modest amounts for something they enjoy. Not everyone expects everything for free. The trick is to keep costs low, be ready to go part-time on your labour of love and enjoy it.

Posted: 3rd, February 2019 | In: Money, News | Comment


Italy dips into recession; UK out-performs EU; BBC ignores figures

Italy dips into recession; UK out-performs EU; BBC ignores figures

Something is missing from the BBC’s report on the Italian economy slipping into recession. In the final quarter of 2018, the Italian economy shrank by 0.2%. That followed a 0.1% decline in the third quarter. The BBC tells us:

Growth in the euro area remained at 0.2% in the final quarter of 2018, the same as the previous quarter and in line with analysts’ expectations.

Bad news, then. Time to leave the EU. But hold on because the BBC has more news:

The figures, issued by the Eurostat agency, showed that in the 28-nation EU as a whole, fourth-quarter growth was 0.3%.

That figure includes the UK – which is leaving the EU. But the BBC doesn’t mention the UK’s economy anywhere in its report. It only says:

In contrast to Italy, some other eurozone economies expanded more than expected, with France and Spain posting growth rates of 0.3% and 0.7% quarter-on-quarter respectively.

In the third quarter of 2018, the UK economy grew by 0.6%. The next quarter looks to have produced a rise of 0.4%. Why doesn’t the BBC think this important to mention? Might it have something to do with Brexit, and how Remain-supporting MPs told us a vote for Leave was a vote for a deep recession? George Osborne told us every household would be £4,300 worse off by 2030 if we voted Leave. We didn’t. And we’re not.

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