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News | Anorak - Part 11

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Ban mobile phones from schools and Parliament

Parliament mobile phones MPs Commons

You can read the Times’s story on calls to ban mobile phones in school – but only for the kids, natch. – and not have the foggiest idea why you’re reading it. It’s all about fanning the opinions of Nick Gibb. But nowhere in the story does the Times find space to tell readers who Gibb is. Well, he’s Nick Gibb, Minister of State at the Department for Education. Who knew? Gibb, a man with a profile lower than a spoon, says mobile phones should be banned in schools. The ban will ensure the kinder have better chances of concentrating in class. The kids should be educated about the dangers of too much screen time at school, and at home.

Says Gibb, whose clearly not one of those MPs who sit in the Commons assembly hall ignoring the head’s addresses as they tip-tap on their phones and talk – like the kids must not do in their halls.:

“I believe very strongly that children should be limiting their own use at home. Every hour spent online and on a smartphone is an hour less talking to family, and it’s an hour less exercise and it’s an hour less sleep. And of course it is a lack of sleep that research is showing can have a damaging effect on a child’s mental health.”

An hour less slumped in front of the telly. An hour less watching video nasties. An hour less fighting the Rockers with switch blades. An hour less telling your mum you hate her and never asked to be born. An hour less reading comic books. An hour less having sex. Stop it. Stop it now!

Posted: 2nd, February 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment


Teacher plays sex worker’s advice at GCSE revision talk

Harris slang Croydon
Does Harris school need a rebranding?

To the Harris Purley Academy in Croydon, where the parents have come to lean about GCSEs. At the back of the hall ‘Sir’ presses play on a device. “I want to talk about sex for money,” says a female voice. Outrage. Parents are “obviously disgusted and upset that our children were exposed to filth”, says one dad. Sir “quickly turned his phone off and put it in his pocket – turned very red and started sweating as all the parents and children stared at him.”

The Indy says there is a perfectly sensible explanation for the interruption: “The teacher is understood to have been scrolling through his phone and looking at the TED website…”

Which TED talk is unspecified. You’ll have to search for it at your own leisure – but not on school premises. And only for research purposes.

Posted: 2nd, February 2019 | In: News | Comment


The Pool shuts; freelancers still owed money

The Pool website lavene

The Pool website has shut. As many as 24 staff are facing redundancy. The site, fronted by BBC Radio 6 presenter Lauren Laverne and former Cosmopolitan and Red editor Sam Baker, was running at a heavy loss. The Pool Ltd racked up a net loss of £1.84m in the year to the end of March 2018. The previous year it lost £1.36m. Who backed the website aimed at women? The overheads must have been big to incur such a loss. The site was only set up in 2015. You wonder what the business plan was?

The Guardian says the site was “known for its relatively generous freelance rates in a struggling industry”.

Go Fund Me page aims to raise money for the unpaid staff.

In 2015 it was all so different. The media landscape was hardly buoyant. But The Pool had ideas:

The Pool is being funded by early stage investors Fourteen17 and aims to be profitable next year. It is using native ads to generate revenues, with one brand partner signed up to an annual tenancy and more in the pipeline.

Big splash. Big names. Lots of nice coverage from other media hoping for links back. And then the competition bites.

Not that calling out the patriarchy is the website’s raison d’être, as it is with sites such as Jezebel or The Vagenda. And it would be unfair to suggest all-women teams have a totally different way of running media organisations than men. But one comment Baker makes is striking in its unusual perspective: “We always ask ourselves: how does it make her feel? A lot of people don’t think about how something makes someone feel when they’re reading it – but we always try to answer that question.”

All publications write with a reader in mind. All good writing foments emotion.

Oddly, for an all-female crew, the only company director – of 8 – who remained til the end is a man.

Posted: 1st, February 2019 | In: News | Comment


A look around Roald Dahl’s Dylan Thomas-themed writing shed

In 1982 Roald Dahl, showed us inside his writing shed at his home in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, England. The shed was relocated to the Roald Dahl Museum. The desk – a board balanced on the arms of a tatty chair – we knew about. Dahl called the 6ft x 7ft hut his “little nest, my womb”. One thing we didn’t know: Dahl modelled his shed on Dylan Thomas’s own writing shed in Carmarthenshire, Wales. The BBC:

Although Dahl based the design of his hut on Thomas’s shed, there was one major difference – the lack of natural light. He often kept his curtains drawn (10) to block out the outside world and was dependant on an angle-poise lamp for light….

Dahl’s widow Felicity said: “He realised he had to have a space of his own in the garden away from the children and the noise and the general domesticity and he remembered that Dylan had felt the same.

“And so he went down to Wales to look at Dylan’s writing hut and, like everybody, fell in love with it.”

Built to the same proportions, with the same angled roof – the similarities could be a coincidence. But according to his widow it was built in a similar design by Dahl’s builder friend Wally Saunders, who the BFG was based on.

“He built it exactly to the same proportions as Dylan’s hut, the same roof, one skin of brick,” said Mrs Dahl. “Of course Dylan’s hut was a garage originally, whereas Roald had nothing, it was an empty space that he built on.”

Roald dahl writing shed

Spotter: Boing Boing

Posted: 1st, February 2019 | In: Books, Celebrities, Key Posts, News | Comment


Prince Philip: look who Freaky Phil could have killed

prince Philip accident car

The Sun has an “exclusive” on Prince’s Philip’s car accident in which one woman travelling in the other vehicle sustained a broken wrist. It’s an exclusive based on the opinions of one Graham Oakley.

Oakley might be the person behind the company Graham Oakley – Crash Detective Ltd, which you can access via something called The Federation of Forensic & Expert Witnesses

The Sun mentions neither company but does tell us Mr Oakley is a “retired cop”. He tells us that had the accident occurred differently then someone could have died. “It don’t beat thinking about,” he adds. Only it does because the Sun mocks up what “could” have happened. “A split second later and there would have been a tragedy,” the Sun states.

prince Philip accident car
Not ‘Phil the Greek’

The paper then adds a look-alike image of the Prince and a figure in the 1493 Leonardo Da Vinci artwork A Man Tricked By Gypsies. This gives space for the pun “Phil The Freak”. The image, which featured in the Royal Collection, is described thus:

The man at the centre of this drawing is surrounded by a band of Gypsies in traditional dress. He raises his right arm to have his palm read by the old woman in traditional Gypsy dress on the right – unfortunately the sheet was cut at an early date and the palm-reading trimmed off. While the man is distracted, the grinning Gypsy on the left reaches under his sleeve to steal his purse. The two figures behind stare with hooded brow or laugh hysterically, adding to the sense of claustrophobic menace.

A Man tricked by Gypsies.

Just wait til Phil sells his story to the papers.

Posted: 1st, February 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Royal Family, Tabloids | Comment


Don’t make Fiona Onasanya a victim of our prejudice

Fiona Onasanya

Labour MP Fiona Onasanya is one of the rarest breed: a politician actually jailed for lying (what – rather rather than getting a peerage? – ed). Onsanya claimed she wasn’t behind the wheel when her car was spotted being driven at 41mph in a 30mph zone, in July 2017. She was. She lied. This week she was found guilty of perverting the course of justice and jailed for three months. She was expelled from the Labour party in December 2018. She remains an MP.

And some people think she got off lightly. The Mail hears them:

Jailed MP Fiona Onasanya could have her sentence increased after members of the public complained that it was too soft. The ex-solicitor, who has been kicked out of Labour, was locked up for three months for perverting the course of justice after lying over a speeding ticket. But the jail term is now being reviewed by Attorney General Geoffrey Cox, the Government’s chief law officer, under an unduly lenient sentencing scheme.

From being a crime it is now a moral offence. We expect better from our MPs, see, what with them being role models for the mentally negligible. So she should be given a tougher sentence so that we can feel pure and whole again. It should be different for them.

“You voted for a Labour Party person. Unfortunately the people of Peterborough were failed,” said Ian Lavery, the Labour Party chair. We want a Labour Party MP here who will do the people of Peterborough a great service.”

One aside: Fiona brother is called…Festus. He was jailed for 10 months for his involvement in the smatter, after pleading guilty to the same charge.

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


State refuses compensation for two innocent men who served 24 years prison

Sam Hallam innocent

Hard cheese Sam Hallam, who was convicted of murder, and Victor Nealon, who was found guilty of attempted rape. Bother men had those convictions quashed in 2012 and 2013 respectively. They are innocent. Between them they spent 24 years in prison (Hallam: 7 years; Nealon: 17 years) before their convictions were overturned. Compensation, then – how much for having a large chunk of your life ripped away for a crime you did not commit? Nothing. Why not? Because the evidence demonstrating their convictions were wrong isn’t enough.

The Indy:

Their compensation claims under the 1988 Act were rejected on the basis that it was not the case, as required by the Act, that a “new or newly discovered fact shows beyond reasonable doubt that there has been a miscarriage of justice”.

What about the State trying to make right what it make wrong? What about doing the decent thing? When he was freed, Hallam’s mother, Wendy Cohen, told media: “I am just shocked. I knew this would happen, he should never have been in there. My family has gone through hell, it is like we were all being tortured. Sam’s father killed himself while he was inside, all of us have suffered.”

Henry Blaxland QC, for Hallam, said: “Sam Hallam – and I put it boldly – has been the victim of a serious miscarriage of justice brought about by a combination of manifestly unreliable identification evidence … failure by police properly to investigate his alibi and non-disclosure by the prosecution of material that could have supported his case.”

And for that he gets nought.

Mr Nealon was wrongly convicted and left to rot. The BBC:

A man who spent 17 years behind bars wrongfully convicted of attempted rape has received an apology from a body set up to examine miscarriages of justice. Victor Nealon, 53, was convicted of attacking a woman outside a nightclub in Redditch in 1996. He asked the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) to examine his case but was turned down twice. His conviction was quashed last year… Commission chairman Richard Foster said: “I regret the fact in this particular case we missed something and I apologise to all concerned for the fact we did so.”

Simple question: what would you do if Mr Nealon was a loved one? Would you ignore his long protestations of innocence?

“I depended on people in that position to research paperwork and they didn’t do it,” Mr Nealon said… “I could have been out at least ten to 12 years ago but, on account of the CCRC and their failure to research a paper trail, I remained in prison.”

The law is unfit for purpose. “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer” is a thought expressed by William Blackstone in his work, Commentaries on the Laws of England, published in the 1760s. So what changed? When did we become such swine?

Posted: 31st, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, 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


Arsenal Transfer Balls: Christopher Nkunku in balance; Yannick Carrasco and Ivan Perisic want to come

Arsenal won’t be parading Ivan Perisic and Yannick Carrasco before their next match. The BBC says any deals to take one of them to the club this transfer window is dead. The Gunners will muddle along without a top-class, proven winger. Arsenal tried hard for Perisic, offering to pay Inter Milan a penalty fine should the player arrive now but the club be unable to buy him in the summer. Inter want the transfer fee today.

Perisic wants to leave Inter. The club’s fans want him to go. And Arsenal want him to come. Which makes you wonder what Inter’s plan is? Sell the Croatian at the season’s end when he’ll be 30 and worth less than the £35m they want Arsenal to cough up?

Option B is for the Gunners to take Yannick Carrasco on loan. Arsenal only want to pay his wages with an option to buy in the summer. Carrasco wants to leave Chinese club Dalian Yifang and return to Europe. But Arsenal’s bid was deemed too low. Can they up it in the final hours of the transfer window? Can their moneybags, absentee owner Stan Kroenke lob them a few million? No chance. Arsenal are just another asset in his portfolio. Gunners fans should be grateful he’s not relocated the club to a different state. He’ll pay nothing from his own purse.

Arsenal need a winger. But do they really need PSG’s Christopher Nkunku? A bid has been made. But PSG don’t need the money. Maybe they’ll want Mesut Ozil as part of the deal? Maybe…

As for the future, well, Arsenal says they’ll have loads money in the summer. Yep – we’ve heard it before, usually just before season ticket renewal time. When Wenger and the board sat on that huge pile of cash for season after season, settling for a top-four spot, it was always jam tomorrow. Now they’re out of the Champions League and money is tighter the need to invest is paramount.

Posted: 31st, January 2019 | In: News | Comment


Brexit: May the appeaser becomes ‘Our Theresa’ in the tabloids

‘SHE’ who must be obeyed

Any idea what the tabloids made of yesterday’s vote in which MPs despatched the PM to Brussels to ask the EU to renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement – you know, that deal she agreed and her peers thought was crap; the one the same MPs voted down by a record margin of defeat for a serving Government a whole two weeks ago? Take a look. The tabloids it. They love “Theresa” (Mail), “She” who must be obeyed (Express) and a pretty chipper public school “May” (Mirror).

Theresa the Wheezer is limping to the finishing line. Theresa the Squeezer is eking out every last drop of credibility for her fudge. Or how about any one of Caesar, freezer, pleaser, teaser, appeaser, bumfreezer, displeaser, misfeasor, tranquilizar and any other pun the tabloids could have employed to ridicule the painfully absurd state of British politics?

Remainers and Brexiteers like to promote themselves as opposing sides in a frenzied, thrusting debate. But both camps are united only in their introversion, a chamber of inward looking dullards seeking truth in a solid past and never daring to press on. Calls for a second vote are as steeped in nostalgia and insecurity as the Brexiteers they deride, for whom distance is always measured in yards and bad teeth are a national treasure.

The tabloids must try harder. We get it: they want anyone but Corbyn, But the papers’ sappiness means we also get May. And that’s got us nowhere.

Oh for a Leaver leader capable of embracing the vote and blessed with courage and an expansive outlook. But the loud, arcane Brexiteers left it to May, a Remainer, to cobble something together as they snarked and sniped from DJ booths, newspaper columns and the back benches, turning the simple act of writing a letter, something they must have dictated to a nanny, tutor or divorce lawyer hundreds of times, into a group therapy session they flunked. Sat across the way is Jeremy Corbyn, a monocular visionary so stuffed with contradictions and hypocrisy that Michael Gove, the MP who stabbed Boris Johnson in the back, managed to toss a wreath over the Labour leader’s frowning bonce and reel him in for a pasting. And that frown, the one Corbyn uses to portray, in his mind at least, deep thought and knowing but gives him the look of a confused viewer trying to work out how Dirty Den came back from the dead.

So farewell, Theresa. Off you pop to serve the EU’s wonks the Parliament-backed Brady amendment, with its “alternative arrangements” to the Irish backstop. Best of luck. May’s shuffling back. Nigel Farage and Yvette Cooper can only look on approvingly.

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


Thailand fires water canon to clear Bangkok smog; London learns

smog pollution london

You know you’re in Bangkok, Thailand, because you can see the air moving. But worry not. The Thais are defeating the smoggy pea-soupers with water cannon.

Global News has more:

Thai authorities used water cannons on Monday in an effort to combat Bangkok’s air pollution. Masks were also provided after hazardous dust particles reportedly reached an Air Quality Index (AQI) of 180.

Any level above 150 is considered unhealthy and Bangkok ranked in the top 10 of polluted cities worldwide on Monday.

The particles, known as PM 2.5, are a mixture of liquid droplets and solid particles that can include dust, soot and smoke.

Diesel fumes contributed up to 60 per cent of the pollution while burning rubbish and crops attributed about 35 per cent.

The Straits Times says the “PM2.5 air-quality index (AQI) in Bangkok on [last] Sunday reached a peak of 195, an unhealthy level, while some areas such as Bang Khen district were at hazardous levels, with PM2.5 AQI at 394 on Sunday morning”. That’s way over the target of 50.

The Mail:

Stagnant weather conditions mean it is unlikely to clear quickly own its own. But the government is set to deploy rainmaking planes to seed clouds by dispersing chemicals into the air to aid condensation. 
The weather modification technique should in theory result in rain, which would help to clear the skies.

‘The Department of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation… expects the rainmaking to be done tomorrow but it depends on wind and humidity levels,’ Pralong Dumrongthai, director-general of Thailand’s Pollution Control Department, told reporters. 

Waiting for rain is dull – as is cutting the reliance on pollutants. Better to fire up the water canon. But the water don’t taste like what it outta:

Thai media reported that in a desperate attempt to bring down critical air pollution levels in Bangkok, local authorities started experimenting with sweetened water, instead of regular one. The idea behind the bizarre pollution-fighting strategy is that by increasing the viscosity of the water using sugar will allow it to trap more dangerous particles when sprayed into the air. However, some experts believe that the unconventional approach could do more harm than good.

Dr. Weerachai Putthawong, a professor of organic chemistry at Kasetsart University, told Workingpoint News that he has serious doubts that the sweetened water will yield better results than regular water. He claims that the increased viscosity of the liquid won’t make much of a difference, because the equipment used to spray it isn’t powerful enough to pulverize it into small enough droplets to catch dust and particulate matter as small as 2.5 microns in size. The current machines used to spray the water can only catch particles down to 10 microns.

To make matters worse, the added sugar could cause the surfaces the mixture lands on to develop dangerous mold, as the organic additive would allow bacteria and fungi to develop.

Back in the UK, London just sold its convoy of three water canon. “Although London’s air often appears clear to the naked eye, the city has suffered from illegal levels  of air pollution since 2010,” says the FT. Recall the canon. Fire at will!

Posted: 30th, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Strange But True, Technology | Comment


Morrisons offer: 20p for a paper bag or 15p for a more environmentally friendly plastic bag?

plastic bag tax
Bag. 2012.3045.04. McDonald’s: Toy Story 2.

Morrisons is offering its customers the chance to buy a reusable paper bag. Prince: 20p. The supermarket chain is also offering a reusable plastic carrier bag. Cost: 15p. The offer runs for eight weeks. So you’ll all buy the more expensive bag one, right, because it’s more environmentally friendly to do so. Or not.

Waitrose is not currently introducing a paper bag because “it can take three times more energy to make a paper bag than a plastic one”. True. And – get this – the paper bag is made of paper, which gets wet and falls to bits. The durability of paper bags – ie: the lack of it – is why plastic bags were so popular and needed. A good plastic bag is so very hard to destroy – just look how long they can survive in the ocean.

The BBC notes:

The production of paper bags uses more energy and creates more CO2 emissions than the manufacture of plastic bags. But paper decomposes much more quickly, while plastic can remain part of the environment for hundreds of years, causing damage to animals and marine life.

Tim Worstall adds:

How many times do we need to reuse a bag for it to have as little resource use – and thus environmental effect – as just the one use of those thin single use plastic ones? Obviously enough, the single use that we’re told not to use has a value of one here. The bag for life must be reused 35 times. A bag for life from recycled plastic 84 times. A paper bag must be reused 43 times – yes, paper. A cotton bag 7,100 times and an organic cotton? 20,000.

The answer: grow everything yourselves and eat out. Careworn urbanites can eat actual ‘street food’ in streets, rather than street food in new restaurants. Or maybe not. Those street food Meccas are pretty polluted:

 Shocking report reveals that 95% of plastic polluting the world’s oceans comes from just TEN rivers including the Ganges and Niger. “More than half of the plastic waste that flows into the oceans comes from just five countries: China, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Sri Lanka.”

Five. How about 8?

Just eight countries in the region are responsible for about 63 percent of total plastic waste flowing into the oceans. Little of that junk has been exported by rich economies. Instead, it’s almost solely generated by Asia’s newly minted consumer classes, the vast majority of whom lack access to garbage collection, modern landfills and incineration. Any progress in reducing ocean plastic will have to start with them.

A boom in garbage is almost always the result of two related phenomena: urbanization and income growth. Rural dwellers moving to the city shift from buying unpackaged goods to buying stuff (especially food) wrapped in plastic. As their incomes rise, their purchases increase. That growth in consumption is almost never matched by expanded garbage collection and disposal. In typical low-income countries, less than half of all garbage is collected formally, and what little is picked up tends to end up in unregulated open dumps. In 2015, scientists estimated that as much as 88 percent of the waste generated in Vietnam is either littered or tossed into uncontained dumps. In China, the rate is about 77 percent. By comparison, the U.S. rate is 2 percent.

Every big city in developing Asia faces this problem. Jakarta’s waterways are choked with plastic trash. In Kuala Lumpur, instances of open dumping line the high-speed train route to the airport. On the outskirts of any Chinese city, loose plastic bags and instant-noodle cups litter every road’s shoulder. Much of this junk ends up in waterways — and, eventually, the ocean. One study found that eight of the 10 rivers conveying the most plastic waste into the oceans are in Asia. China’s Yangtze alone delivers 1.5 million metric tons of plastic to the Yellow Sea each year.

Paper bags and ready-made food is the answer. McDonald’s all round it is, then…

Posted: 28th, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, The Consumer | Comment


Brexit: On Corporation Tax and offshore UK

The Guardian has something to say about Corporation tax. If your company is based in the UK, it pays Corporation Tax on all its profits from the UK and abroad. The current rate is 19%. The Government is set to reduce it to 17% in 2020 – in line with Singapore, which just pulled Sir James Dyson. Because the tax based on companies’ profits this dynamic tax (one that responds very swiftly to change) is very difficult to forecast. But the Guardian is clueless about how it works:

Corporation tax receipts have increased since the financial crisis, although profits of firms have risen as the economy has recovered

Guardian tax
Not quite. No.

“Although”?! No. Tax is up BECAUSE profits are up. That’s how Corporation Tax works. It also doesn’t work in isolation. There are other taxes, such as the banking levy. And economic growth leads to higher profits and thus higher levels of tax receipts. Of course, in the current political climate making any forecasts on company profits is set in water.

Posted: 28th, January 2019 | In: Money, News | Comment


Arsenal balls: sex, Joe Willock and The Sun’s Ashley Cole rerun

When back in December the Sun told us about Arsenal players allegedly inhaling nitrous oxide – “hippy crack” – we were assured that the “images will horrify Arsenal fans and enrage no-nonsense Spanish team coach Unai Emery”. Fast forward to January and club’s teenage prospect Joe Willock is the subject of an alleged huff ‘n’ tell. And the Sun once more tells us: “His antics will horrify Arsenal fans and enrage the team’s no-nonsense Spanish coach Unai Emery.”

Arsenal hippy crack
The Sun – December 2018
The Sun – Janaury 2019

The fallout from the December story has been softer than an autumn leaf dropping from a woodland tree. So will the Willock ‘The Pillock’ story travel better? It has a chance because it features “French model Eglantine Flore Aguilar”. You may recall her from her time with former Arsenal player Ashley Cole? Yeah – like the quote, she too is a repeat. Says La Eggplant: “He certainly moved quickly. One minute he was messaging me on Instagram, the next he was buying me tickets to London. His conversation was very boring, possibly because he’s so young. The sex was also really weird. He wanted to try all different positions in the shortest possible time. I didn’t enjoy it.”

The unmarried lad’s a nippy utility player. And:

The Sun – with typo

The paper’s typo and repetition will surely horrify Sun fans and enrage the team’s no-nonsense editor.

Posted: 28th, January 2019 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Key Posts, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Victoria Wood remembered in hilarious statue

Victoria Wood statue

BBC Radio Manchester alerts us to the statue which Bury Council have approved to honour Victoria Wood (19 May 1953 – 20 April 2016). It will stand on Silver Street next to the Library Gardens in the comedian’s home town.

You’ll know it’s her by the plaque and sounds of laughter.

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


Unicorn robber captured

unicorn thief

Police in Spain have captured a unicorn who allegedly robbed several stores in Malaga. The unicorn is said to be a man dressed in a soft onsie with a unicorn-style horn on his head. Well, so they say. What price the real thief – the nefarious and prolific unicorn – prompted a desperate man into a copy-cat crime? If this poor soul needs a defence, call me. The truth is out there. I have books…

Posted: 28th, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Strange But True | Comment


“Judea dies’, thus says the banner. ‘Judea will live forever’, thus respond the lights”

"Judea dies’, thus says the banner. ‘Judea will live forever’, thus respond the lights"

Friday December 11 1931 was the eighth and final night of Chanukkah, and Rabbi Akiva Boruch Posner, Doctor of Philosophy from Halle-Wittenberg University, struck a match and lit the Menorah. His home was across the way from the headquarters of the local Nazi Party. Rabbi Posner’s wife, Rachel, took a photo of the view from her window. When the film had been processed and returned to her in early 1931, she wrote a few lines in German on the back.

“Juda verrecke, die Fahne spricht. Juda lebt ewig, erwidert das Licht”

“Chanukah, 5692. ‘Judea dies’, thus says the banner. ‘Judea will live forever’, thus respond the lights.”

What came next was humanity at its more depraved. Today is Holocaust Memorial Day.

More: Judea Lives Forever’: Candles Illuminate Nazis In Kiel, 1931

Posted: 27th, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Amanda Knox: ‘Foxy Knoxy’ wins damages from Italian police

U.S. murder suspect Amanda Knox, right, is escorted by an Italian penitentiary police officer at a hearing in Perugia's court, Italy, Saturday, Nov. 28, 2009. Earlier this month, prosecutors requested life sentences for American student Knox and her former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito accused of killing a young British woman in Italy. Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini asked a jury in Perugia to convict Amanda Knox and Sollecito on charges of murder and sexual violence for their alleged role in the 2007 slaying of Meredith Kercher. They deny wrongdoing. (AP Photo/Stefano Medici)

How do you tell the story of Amanda Knox, the American embroiled in the investigation into the 2007 murder of 21-year-old British student Meredith Kercher? The media was attracted to the story of the blonde American and her Italian boyfriend accused of murdering a fellow student in a sex game. Very swiftly, Knox became ‘Foxy Knoxy’. Today the European Court of Human Rights found the Italian state guilty of violating Knox’s rights. Knox was convicted then acquitted over Kercher’s murder. She served four years of a 26-year tariff. Italy must pay Ms Knox €18,400 in damages.

Fox became ‘Foxy’ in a tale of sex

Knox has issued a statement: “I was interrogated for 53 hours over five days, without a lawyer, in a language I understood maybe as well as a ten-year-old.”

The Times says Knox “claimed she was pressured during interrogation into admitting she was at the scene and pinning the murder on the local Congolese barman Patrick Lumumba, an accusation she then dropped.” Do we mention Mr Lumamaba, the innocent black man? “They were determined to break me,” says Knox in a statement. “They threatened me with 30 years in prison if I didn’t remember what they wanted me to remember. Finally, in the delirium they put me through, I didn’t know what to believe. I thought, for a brief moment, maybe they were right.”

The Times adds: “A three-year sentence for Ms Knox for falsely accusing Mr Lumumba was never dropped, although her four years in jail covered the sentence.”

The New York Post presents the award as a defeat: “Italy to pay just $21K in damages to Amanda Knox after she sought millions.” She wanted $3 million. Does the amount matter? Knox’s lawyer, who’s not quoted in the paper, said: “It is impossible to compensate Amanda for four years in prison for a mistake. There will be no amount. We are not looking for compensation of damages. We are doing this on principal.” The Post does note: “Ms. Knox had been particularly vulnerable, being a foreign young woman, 20, at the time, not having been in Italy for very long and not being fluent in Italian,” the European Court of Human Rights noted. The paper then says: “She falsely accused an innocent Congolese barman of being involved in the murder.”

The British press took a position

Buzzfeed looks at why she pointed the finger. It leads: “Knox was convicted of making false statements during the investigation into the murder of her British roommate. A court ruled these had been made in an atmosphere of ‘intense psychological pressure’.” Adding: “They awarded her €10,400 for damages and an additional €8,000 for costs ($20,400 altogether).”

US Press took a position

AP reports: “The human rights court, however, said there was not enough evidence to conclude Knox had “sustained the inhuman or degrading treatment” she claimed. Knox said she had been slapped twice on the side of the head by police, while also being subjected to pressure, threats of imprisonment and shouting.”

Is it different for women?

And what of Kercher? The Telegraph notes:

The panel of seven judges added, however, that they had found no evidence that Knox was subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment during her questioning … Knox’s lawyer in Italy, Carlo Della Vedova, said her conviction for murder and sexual assault amounted to “the biggest judicial error by the Italian justice system in the last 50 years.

“This young woman was sent to prison at the age of 20 and came out at the age of 24 – four years of wrongful imprisonment. Strasbourg has confirmed the violation of her fundamental rights.”

But Francesco Maresca, lawyer for the Kerchers, said the family felt “dissatisfaction” with the Strasbourg court’s ruling, along with the outcome of the judicial process in Italy, which had led to the acquittal of Ms Knox and her ex-boyfriend.


The paper adds that “The only person to have been convicted for the murder of Kercher is Rudy Guede”. “Only”. How many were needed? He is serving a 16-year sentence.

Image: “U.S. murder suspect Amanda Knox, right, is escorted by an Italian penitentiary police officer at a hearing in Perugia’s court, Italy, Saturday, Nov. 28, 2009. Earlier this month, prosecutors requested life sentences for American student Knox and her former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito accused of killing a young British woman in Italy. Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini asked a jury in Perugia to convict Amanda Knox and Sollecito on charges of murder and sexual violence for their alleged role in the 2007 slaying of Meredith Kercher. They deny wrongdoing. (AP Photo/Stefano Medici)”

Posted: 24th, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


The court calls Mr Farrelly of Muff Crescent, Nobber

Ireland’s Ardee District Court calls Mr Conor Farrelly, 22, who stands accused of driving a 2011 BMW car into a wall in Ardee, fleeing the scene and heading into a pub. Mr Farrelly of Muff Crescent, Nobber… Pardon me? No giggling in court. You there! I’ll have you removed.

Mr Farrelly offered guilty pleas to dangerous driving and not being insured. Judge Coughlan banned Mr Farrelly from driving for two years. He also sought a probation report in respect of the defendant doing 240 hours community service in lieu of five months in jail.

The matter will return to court on May 13 when final sentencing will be passed. In the meantime, Mr Farrelly will reside at the property in Muff Crescent in Nobber… Enough! Dismissed!!!

Spotter: Dundalk Democrat

Posted: 24th, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Strange But True | Comment


James Bulger: And the Oscar for bad taste goes to…

James Bulger is back in the news. The child murdered by children is on the Mirror’s front page. “BULGERS RAGE AT OSCARS INSULTS,” says the headline. The story is yet another painful episode in which the child’s parents, Denise Ferguson and Ralph Bulger, are invited to share her pain for our gratification.

Denise Fergus is “disgusted” that Detainment, a film about the crime, is being considered for an Oscar. “To have a child re-enact the final hours of James’s life before he was brutally murdered means we have to relive the all this again,” she says.

THREE OF THE BOYS WHO FOUND THE BODY OF TWO YEAR-OLD JAMES BULGER. L-R, STEPHEN GUNNIAN, JAMES RILEY AND HIS BROTHER TERENCE. Date: 15/02/1993

But reliving the horror as entertainment was ever so. The comments attributed to the murder of a two-year-old by two ten-year-olds read like billboard splashes to come see the show. An act of “unparalleled evil” – Trial Judge. “In almost any city, town or village more minor versions of the same events are becoming an almost everyday part of our lives” – Tony Blair. “FREAKS OF NATURE” – Daily Mirror.

Daily Mirror Bulger freaks
Via
A POLICE POSTER SEEKING INFORMATION ON THE MURDER OF TWO-YEAR OLD JAMES BULGER IS PLACED OUTSIDE MARSH LANE POLICE STATION IN LIVERPOOL.    Date: 15/02/1993
A POLICE POSTER SEEKING INFORMATION ON THE MURDER OF TWO-YEAR OLD JAMES BULGER IS PLACED OUTSIDE MARSH LANE POLICE STATION IN LIVERPOOL. Date: 15/02/1993

The Mirror uses its editorial to slam the “Bulger shame”. We hear that Denise Fergus’s “disgust and upset is understandable”. Of course it is. We know that. It is “about showing compassion… and respect for a woman who has suffered enough”. Why, then, is her pain front-page news? The Mirror says it is “not too late” for “Irish director [why is his nationality important?] to go cap in hand to apologise in person” to the Bulgers.

In which case he can join the queue behind the politicians, judges and tabloid Press…

Posted: 23rd, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Tabloids | Comment


After Covington: the cult of the kid is dead

Kathy Griffith wanted “these fuckers” “named” and “shamed” in public. “NAMES,” she demanded. Daily Mirror columnist Stan Collymore called them “the bastard children of Trump.” Adding: “Like all vermin, they run in numbers , seldom happy to fight alone.” These inhuman beasts were the children of a US Catholic high school. After years of pandering to children’s needs – seeing life in terms of risks to them and their need to be protected from Brexit, sugar, sex, drugs, smartphones and adults – here was a sudden change: the enlightened were going after the kids and inviting all right-minded adults of join in the hunt.

The Covington’s boys’ crime against humanity was to have allegedly menaced a Native American veteran after the anti-abortion March for Life rally in Washington, D.C. The confrontation was videoed, uploaded to the web and – bang! – everyone wanted a piece of the “vermin”. The Twitter mob was in full cry. Being the fourth wall is a lot of fun, but we don’t always see the full picture. And so after the initial video went viral we got to see around two hours more.

We saw that the boys had been targeted by a group of Black Hebrew Israelites (BHI), self-styled descendants of the ancient Israelites. As the BHI regaled the Covington lads with such niceties as “White people, go back to Europe” and ‘Your president is a homosexual”, calling them “faggots”, the products of incest and paedophiles, the lads make no comment. The BHI tell one black lad that his friends will steal his organs after killing him. There they are stood pretty still, a gaggle of predominately white teens dressed in red MAGA hats.

Cue Nathan Phillips. The Native American was in town for a peace protest. He saw the two groups and stepped in between them. He went right up to the teens. Now the teens did react. One stood and stared. Others danced as if mocking Philips. Teens, eh. Such twats. Although one later said:

“We are an all-male school that loves to get hyped up. And as we have done for years prior, we decided to do some cheers to pass time. In the midst of our cheers, we were approached by a group of adults led by Nathan Phillips, with Phillips beating his drum. They forced their way to the center of our group. We initially thought this was a cultural display since he was beating along to our cheers and so we clapped to the beat.”

But this were different. Prejudice was to the fore. Those Trump hats. Those pale skin tones. These teens had been churned out by a “hate factory“. Watch the whole thing  here. Philips might care to. He told The Detroit Free Press that the teens “were in the process of attacking these four black individuals”. Phillips dehumanises the kids:

“There was that moment when I realized I’ve put myself between beast and prey,” Phillips said. “These young men were beastly and these old black individuals was their prey, and I stood in between them and so they needed their pounds of flesh and they were looking at me for that.”

For now the last word is with Nick Sandmann, the Covington student whose face has been splashed all over the web:

I am providing this factual account of what happened on Friday afternoon at the Lincoln Memorial to correct misinformation and outright lies being spread about my family and me.

I am the student in the video who was confronted by the Native American protestor. I arrived at the Lincoln Memorial at 4:30 p.m. I was told to be there by 5:30 p.m., when our busses were due to leave Washington for the trip back to Kentucky. We had been attending the March for Life rally, and then had split up into small groups to do sightseeing.

When we arrived, we noticed four African American protestors who were also on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I am not sure what they were protesting, and I did not interact with them. I did hear them direct derogatory insults at our school group.

The protestors said hateful things. They called us “racists,” “bigots,” “white crackers,” “faggots,” and “incest kids.” They also taunted an African American student from my school by telling him that we would “harvest his organs.” I have no idea what that insult means, but it was startling to hear.

Because we were being loudly attacked and taunted in public, a student in our group asked one of our teacher chaperones for permission to begin our school spirit chants to counter the hateful things that were being shouted at our group. The chants are commonly used at sporting events. They are all positive in nature and sound like what you would hear at any high school. Our chaperone gave us permission to use our school chants. We would not have done that without obtaining permission from the adults in charge of our group.

At no time did I hear any student chant anything other than the school spirit chants. I did not witness or hear any students chant “build that wall” or anything hateful or racist at any time. Assertions to the contrary are simply false. Our chants were loud because we wanted to drown out the hateful comments that were being shouted at us by the protestors.

After a few minutes of chanting, the Native American protestors, who I hadn’t previously noticed, approached our group. The Native American protestors had drums and were accompanied by at least one person with a camera.

The protestor everyone has seen in the video began playing his drum as he waded into the crowd, which parted for him. I did not see anyone try to block his path. He locked eyes with me and approached me, coming within inches of my face. He played his drum the entire time he was in my face.

I never interacted with this protestor. I did not speak to him. I did not make any hand gestures or other aggressive moves. To be honest, I was startled and confused as to why he had approached me. We had already been yelled at by another group of protestors, and when the second group approached I was worried that a situation was getting out of control where adults were attempting to provoke teenagers.

I believed that by remaining motionless and calm, I was helping to diffuse the situation. I realized everyone had cameras and that perhaps a group of adults was trying to provoke a group of teenagers into a larger conflict. I said a silent prayer that the situation would not get out of hand.

During the period of the drumming, a member of the protestor’s entourage began yelling at a fellow student that we “stole our land” and that we should “go back to Europe.” I heard one of my fellow students begin to respond. I motioned to my classmate and tried to get him to stop engaging with the protestor, as I was still in the mindset that we needed to calm down tensions.

I never felt like I was blocking the Native American protestor. He did not make any attempt to go around me. It was clear to me that he had singled me out for a confrontation, although I am not sure why.

The engagement ended when one of our teachers told me the busses had arrived and it was time to go. I obeyed my teacher and simply walked to the busses. At that moment, I thought I had diffused the situation by remaining calm, and I was thankful nothing physical had occurred.

I never understood why either of the two groups of protestors were engaging with us, or exactly what they were protesting at the Lincoln Memorial. We were simply there to meet a bus, not become central players in a media spectacle. This is the first time in my life I’ve ever encountered any sort of public protest, let alone this kind of confrontation or demonstration.

I was not intentionally making faces at the protestor. I did smile at one point because I wanted him to know that I was not going to become angry, intimidated or be provoked into a larger confrontation. I am a faithful Christian and practicing Catholic, and I always try to live up to the ideals my faith teaches me – to remain respectful of others, and to take no action that would lead to conflict or violence.

I harbor no ill will for this person. I respect this person’s right to protest and engage in free speech activities, and I support his chanting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial any day of the week. I believe he should re-think his tactics of invading the personal space of others, but that is his choice to make.

I am being called every name in the book, including a racist, and I will not stand for this mob-like character assassination of my family’s name. My parents were not on the trip, and I strive to represent my family in a respectful way in all public settings.

I have received physical and death threats via social media, as well as hateful insults. One person threatened to harm me at school, and one person claims to live in my neighborhood. My parents are receiving death and professional threats because of the social media mob that has formed over this issue.

I love my school, my teachers and my classmates. I work hard to achieve good grades and to participate in several extracurricular activities. I am mortified that so many people have come to believe something that did not happen – that students from my school were chanting or acting in a racist fashion toward African Americans or Native Americans. I did not do that, do not have hateful feelings in my heart, and did not witness any of my classmates doing that.

I cannot speak for everyone, only for myself. But I can tell you my experience with Covington Catholic is that students are respectful of all races and cultures. We also support everyone’s right to free speech. I am not going to comment on the words or account of Mr. Phillips, as I don’t know him and would not presume to know what is in his heart or mind. Nor am I going to comment further on the other protestors, as I don’t know their hearts or minds, either.

I have read that Mr. Phillips is a veteran of the United States Marines. I thank him for his service and am grateful to anyone who puts on the uniform to defend our nation. If anyone has earned the right to speak freely, it is a U.S. Marine veteran.

I can only speak for myself and what I observed and felt at the time. But I would caution everyone passing judgement based on a few seconds of video to watch the longer video clips that are on the internet, as they show a much different story than is being portrayed by people with agendas.

I provided this account of events to the Diocese of Covington so they may know exactly what happened, and I stand ready and willing to cooperate with any investigation they are conducting.

The kids are alright-ish.

Posted: 22nd, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment


Kate Price and MPs agree: mocking the disabled is a hate crime (what isn’t?)

Should abusing the disabled be a crime? Katie Price thinks it should. The former glamour model has given evidence to the Commons Petitions Committee where she called for online abuse to be made a specific offence.
She wants social media to be policed. She wants new laws to ban vile words, punishing the berks and twats who abused her son Harvey’s disabilities. Harvey is partially blind, autistic and has the genetic disorder Prader-Willi syndrome. Anyone who mocks him for his illness deserves ridicule. Price says, “They know he hasn’t got a voice back and they mock him more… they find him an easy target.”

MPs on the Petitions Committee agree with Price. They want the government to give disabled people protection under hate crime laws.

“Social media is rife with horrendous, degrading and dehumanising comments about people with disabilities,” says Helen Jones, who chairs the committee. “The law on online abuse is not fit for purpose and it is truly shameful that disabled people have been forced off social media while their abusers face no consequences.”

But there are consequences. Laws exit if threats are made against the person. Hate crime is an attempt to outlaw offensive words. The Metropolitan Police website tells us what hate crime is: “A hate incident is any incident which the victim, or anyone else, thinks is based on someone’s prejudice towards them because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or because they are transgender. Not all hate incidents will amount to criminal offences, but it is equally important that these are reported and recorded by the police.” No crime committed. No matter. And shouldn’t we be free to hate? Doesn’t this sectoring of society into potential victims and likely abusers weaken us? And since when has censorship worked for the common good – don’t abhorrent viewpoints have the right to be said? How you better understand rival views if you ban their discussion?

Posted: 22nd, January 2019 | In: News | Comment


Class War: Royal family pheasant killer ‘attacked’ local ‘peasant’

sun pheasant peasant

The Sun leads with Patrick Panks, 43, who claims he was hit in the head and called a “peasant” by a gamekeeper on the Royal Family’s Sandringham estate. Mr Panks say a shoot was blocking the road. He complained (‘I say my good man, I’m in terrible dash. Will you be long?’, or words to the that effect). Mr Panks says the gamekeeper then hit him “several times”, causing lacerations to his head. Nasty stuff. But it’s only front-page news because Sandringham is newsworthy. We’re told the alleged incident occurred two days after Prince Philip’s prang, aka the “horror smash“. So there are two more pages of the plebs verses the ruling class.

Over pages 4 and 5, we hear the gamekeeper allegedly bellow: “Mind my dogs you fucking peasant.” The man then allegedly attacked Mr Panks, who responded: “I kept saying, ‘There’s no need for this.'” Mr Panks says the incident was an episode of “disgusting snobbery”. He was caught in the crosshairs of what he terms an “us and them culture”. Then the Sun’s bomb: “Prince Andrew is said to have been shooting on the day of the bust-up.”

The Royal Family aren’t all commemorative china cups, thimbles and faces on stamps. They’re a clique of guns, dead animals, lots of land, mastery of the handshake and more guns. It’s only in death that we get too glimpse the real them, and then only after the official biographies have doused the corpse’s remains in a gossamer weave of heroic deeds, terrific fashion nouse and hearts bursting with a purity of spirt that reaches the divine. So was it feckless Andy wielding the stick? Unlikely. The effort involved alone would rule him out. What about Phil? The Suns says he was “once the Royal Family’s keenest shot. But he is now only an observer during shoots.” He might not spot a nippy hatchback – but never misses a game bird.

Posted: 22nd, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Royal Family, Tabloids | Comment


Israel Anti-Boycott Act: Banning BDS is wrong

How do you clamp down on intolerance? Intolerance will not be tolerated! comes the cry. The US Congress is looking to ban American companies boycotting Israel on pain of law. Join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement – that shrill, bigoted and censorious drive to isolate Israel; China, Dubai and Russia are fine and dandy; Turkey, which has illegally occupied Northern Cyprus in 1974, is not on the BDS list – and face criminal charges, including a fine up to $1million. What horror the proposed Israel Anti-Boycott Act is. The ACLU says “Political boycotts are fully protected by the First Amendment.” Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Sen. Bernie Sanders warned that the “Israel Anti-Boycott Act” infringes upon free speech.

Predictably, Palestinian rights’ groups are not for it. Free expression must be permitted, they argue – that they also argue that free expression should be banned for the world’s one Jewish state is hypocritical to say the least. Lamentably the American Israel Public Affairs Committee supports the proposed legislation. Fighting BDS by banning things is also the work of hypocrites. Don’t ban the banners.

Posted: 21st, January 2019 | In: News | Comment


Emma Fairweather and me: Her Majesty The Queen extends ‘warmest thoughts’ at arms length to car crash victim

Emma Fairweather prince car

The Daily Mirror’s interview with Emma Fairweather, the woman injured in a collision with a car driven by Prince Philip, continues to make front-page headlines. Much to the tabloids’ disappointment, Fairweather doesn’t resemble Princess Diana in any way, other than her being female and a single mum. No word, then, from Mohamed Al-Fayed, just the relayed news that Her Majesty the Queen has sent “a message of concern” to 46-year-old Emma. The Duke of Edinburgh has not made contact, the paper says.

How nice and proper of the Queen to apologise for her husband’s prang. She always says the right thing, although most people come away from meeting with her unable to recall a word she uttered. She is the master of saying nothing. So what did she say this time? Nothing. The Mirror tells us: “The Queen has sent her warmest good wishes to Emma Fairweather, who broke her wrist in the collision, via her trusted lady-in-waiting.”

To rephrase: Queen details flunky to apologise. How touching. How very normal and in touch with the common folk. So much for the collision now billed as “Prince Philip’s horror car smash”. And so much for Republicanism. We live in an age where the monarchy is accepted without question. Just cop a load of this utter tosh in the Mirror. Miss Mary Morrison, 81, the aforesaid lady-in-waiting “left her a voicemail message”. Yeah. She didn’t even call back when Emma was free. The message trills: “Hello, I’m ringing from Sandringham House. The Queen has asked me to telephone you to pass on her warmest good wishes following the accident and Her Majesty is very eager to know how you are and hope that everything is going as well as can be expected.”

Eager enough to pop over or leave contact details for Emma to reply at her own convenience. The message continues: “We’re all thinking of you very much at Sandringham and I’ll try you at a later date. Unfortunately I’ve got to go out quite shortly but I hope all is well as can be expected for you. Thank you very much indeed. Goodbye.”

Lest you think that such aloofness exacerbates the matter, a “senior palace source” arrives to opine: “It is of huge significance the Queen chose Mary Morrison to make the contact. Mary is a close friend of the Queen and Her Majesty values her counsel immensely.”

So there you have it. Next time you’re in a car accident, don’t bother leaving your details in person or exchanging insurance details. Just get one of your spouse’s chums, preferably one on the payroll and well-rewarded for her servitude, to speak on your behalf.

Such fun!

Posted: 21st, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Royal Family | Comment