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News | Anorak - Part 16

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Rolf Harris is alive and coming to a school near you

rolf harris wood

Convicted child abuser Rolf Harris is alive. Who knew? This week the man once famous for asking kids “Can you tell what it is yet?” as he panted his way through a TV show and now known as a sexual deviant who persistently abused minors is reported to have entered the grounds of a primary school near his home and “waved at pupils”. The Mirror doesn’t tell us if the pupils waved back as they waited in the school hall for their lunch nor what part of his body Rolf waved. The BBC adds – and try not to gag: “He was talking to sculptor Nick Garnett, who was working in the school’s ‘Kiss and Drop’ area.”

(In June 2014 Rolf Harris was convicted of 12 counts of indecent assault. The crimes were committed against four girls – one of who was aged just seven or eight. He was released from prison 2017. That same year, an appeal saw one conviction overturned, but the other 11 remain.)

Mr Garnett tells the BBC: “I turned round and there was Rolf Harris, which was a strange moment.” Fight or flight? “He asked for a piece of timber. Apparently he’s interested in making some carvings, so I gave him a couple of pieces.”

The headteacher at Oldfield Primary School in Bray, Maidenhead, goes on the record, telling us: “We’ve got a wood sculptor working close to the road at the moment and Rolf Harris lives about three doors down from the school. He must have seen him (the sculptor) and come into the school area. He had no access to the children whatsoever. I went over and shook his hand and introduced myself. He explained what he was doing – that he was getting some wood from the sculptor. I said, ‘You need to go’.”

Was it a crime? Harris has no offspring at the school, one assumes. A copper is quoted: “A report was made that a man was on the site of the school. An officer attended the scene but no offence was committed. No arrests were made.”

A non-story, then? The Mail says Harris “was handed a police warning”. The Mail includes a few words from a local man: “One elderly male neighbour said: ‘He’s an asset to the area, he’s been a tremendous supporter of any charity we’ve been part of… We know he had sex with a 15-year-old but we find it terribly sad that the end of his life has been marred by continual investigation into what happened 30 or 40 years ago.”

People, eh, some really do believe in rehabilitation for paedophiles. Others believe in buying your own wood.

Posted: 7th, February 2019 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, News, Tabloids | Comment


See you in Hell, Donald Tusk

Dante and Virgil escape from Hell, from a 15th century manuscript of the Inferno
Dante and Virgil escape from Hell, from a 15th century manuscript of the Inferno

European Council President Donald Tusk says there is a “special place in Hell” for “those who promoted Brexit without even a sketch of a plan of how to carry it out safely”. There’s no referendum for anyone seeking to escape Hell. No ‘in’ or ‘out’ vote. The exit, as tried and tested by Dante and Virgil, is to descend into the ninth and lowest circle of Hell, slip down into the chasms below Satan’s waist and after a long walk emerge into the sunny uplands of the southern hemisphere – to strike a new deal with Australia, Kenya and the Maldives. Hades Exit – aka Hexit – is possible. Pack the suncream and a cricket bat.

Tusk hell

Who Tusk’s sinful promoters are is debatable. The BBC says: “The softly spoken politician who holds the authority of all EU countries [Tusk] has just completely condemned a chunk of the British cabinet.” It might be MPs who led the Leave campaign – Michael Gove, Gisela Stuart and Boris Johnson – Tusk was damning. It would not be George Osborne, Tony Blair and the Big Banks, who are, in Tusk’s spiritual view, on the side of the Heavenly. Maybe – just maybe – it was the 17.4m of us lost souls who freely voted to tell Tusk to naff off he was was casting into the pit.

Not that Tusk (EU salary: €33,000-a-month) has reappraised a view and found democracy wanting. He called the referendum “so dangerous, so stupid”. That’s what he thinks when politicians ask people what they think. Don’t ask. Tell. That’s how the EU does politics. Tusk predicted “the destruction of Western civilisation in its entirety” in June 2016, if British democrats voted to leave the EU. Health secretary, Matt Hancock, notes: “It’s this sort of arrogance that drives antipathy towards the EU.” It does. DUP MP Sammy Wilson went a tad further, describing the EU leader as a “devilish Euro-maniac”. European parliament’s Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt poured oil on the fires by tweeting: “Well, I doubt Lucifer would welcome them, as after what they did to Britain, they would even manage to divide hell.”

The Irish premier Leo Varadkar – hearing his country has not an Irish border but an EU border – thought it the right time to hand Jean-Claude Juncker, the European commission president, a thank-you card from a family in Ireland. “For the 1st time ever Ireland is stronger [than] Britain,” the card read. “That strength comes not from guns … it comes from your word and that of your colleagues. Britain does not care about peace in Northern Ireland. To them it’s a nuisance.”

Perhaps the most revealing part of Tusk’s snideness was when Varadkar turned to him and snarked: “They’ll give you terrible trouble in the British press for that.” As the BBC put it: “Mr Tusk nodded at the comment and both laughed.” They find it funny. They giggled. Get a load of Europe’s new aristocrats. And you know what Europeans do to them. Laugh your heads off, lads. Laugh them right off.

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


Scum: Liam Neeson uses rape and racism to promote a movie

liam neeson black bastard

Actor Liam Neeson reacted to the rape of a friend by asking her what colour skin the perpetrator had. Funny question, no? He then armed himself with a cosh and spent a week of his life hoping a “black bastard” would “have a go at me about something so that I could kill him”.

Neeson said this in an Press junket interview to promote his latest movie, Cold Pursuit, a revenge thriller in which the 66-year-old embarks on a revenge mission to right wrongs with extreme violence.

Yep, that’s what I thought: what kind of a c**t uses rape and racism to promote a movie? Frederick Joseph makes a sound point when he tweets: “Even him telling the story demonstrates a level of privilege and understanding that there may not be repercussions.”

Neeson uses the same interview to voice regret at his odious behaviour. He is “ashamed”. He says his behaviour was “awful”.

But that phrase, “black bastard” rolls so neatly from his tongue. “Rub some coal dust on those wounds you fuckin’ black bastard!” bellows Ray Winstone’s Carlin in the 1979 movie Scum. The phrase is bald, hard and horribly familiar. Some words go tougher, their use combined into a manta we all know: fuck off; Jew-boy; Paki-basher; stupid bitch; silly cow; black bastard.

Those are the words of adolescent ignorance and wilful adult malice. Neeson didn’t use them then. He’s using them now.

Posted: 5th, February 2019 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, News | Comment


Arsenal balls: Emery’s transfer budget

Arsenal transfer budget

Arsenal have a strange squad of players, a composite blend of the over-paid, over-hyped and under-performing. But worry not. New blood is on the way. The Sun says Arsenal are looking to recruit at least five new faces for next season. And they have a whopping £40m to get them. The transfer budget will go up should Arsenal qualify for the Champions League either by finishing in the top four or winning the Europa League. Can they do it? Can a club that paid over £30m for the lumpen Mustafi and let Aaron Ramsey leave for free do something right? If they do, then Emery will have £60m for spend on new faces – what Manchester City invest in a reserve full back.

The Sun, however, doesn’t tell readers who that figure was arrived at. why wold Arsenal go public with their budget? And why does the Mail tell its readers: “Emery’s Transfer budget is only £45m.” And in the Mail Arsenal needs “at least three players” to “join the elite”.

All utter tosh, of course. Arsenal are the elite:

Arsenal money

Arsenal do have the money. They also have an absentee owner uninterested in seeing his team win on the field.

Posted: 5th, February 2019 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports | Comment


Love Island winner Jack Fincham: being famous gets you drugs and booze

Jack Fincham, winner of TV’s Love Island, and Mr Dani Dayer, wants to talk about “My coke shame”. But before the shame, the sympathetic back story. The Sun, which leads with the news of Fincham’s drug taking, tells us he “caved in” to the “temptation” of “regularly being offered drugs in the wake of his TV triumph”. Other reality TV shows offer less mind-blowing prizes. But that’s showbiz.

Jack, 27, tells us: “I’ve made a terrible error.” And ..? Well, why are you telling us, Jack? Are you getting in first before an expose hits the papers? Is the Sun now an extension of the therapy industries – “If you want a sympathetic ear and a chance to talk, call 0800 Snort ‘n’ Tell (You’re amongst friends!”)?

There are two more pages of Fincham to browse. And we note that he’s “dreading telling hardman Danny Dyer about his cocaine shame”. Danny is, of course, Dani’s homophonous dad, the EastEnders actor.

But surely Danny will understand how “dangerous elements of the showbiz scenes” can pull young noses towards an incidental table in an Kent hotel. Says Jack: “Since winning the show I’ve been offered cocaine a lot”, plus “free drinks” and a chance to appear in another reality TV show. Yes, that’s right, Jack’s shame trails the TV show The Full Monty, named in honour of the film in which a group of down-on-their-luck men from the impoverished provinces turn to the skin trade to earn a few quid and fame. Showbiz, eh. The top prize used to be car.

Posted: 5th, February 2019 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, News, Tabloids, TV & Radio | Comment


Historic sex abuse: 33 men arrested in Yorkshire on the word of one woman

In Yorkshire, 33 men have been arrested over claims they were involved in child sex abuse. The men, aged from 30 to 40, were arrested in Calderdale, Kirklees and Bradford districts. The alleged crimes happened years ago. They are allegations of ‘historic sex abuse’. And, as the Examiner notes: “It comes after one woman has come forward alleging she was abused as a child, predominantly in the Halifax area, between 2002 and 2005.”

One woman makes a number of claims and 33 men are arrested. The paper tells us us: “All those who have been arrested have since been released under further investigation.”

Detective Inspector Laura Nield, of Calderdale District Safeguarding, goes on the record:

“Protecting and safeguarding children is a top priority for the Force and this operation forms part of West Yorkshire Police’s ongoing commitment to investigating both current and non-recent sexual offences against children. These crimes affect the most vulnerable in our society and are truly heinous crimes.”

Alleged offences. Surely she should have said the offences are alleged. The 33-men now being eyed with suspicion deserve that, don’t they?

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


Maltipoo proves Ant McPartlin is not a shit

Ant Mcpartlin the sun bgt multipoo

The Sun doesn’t bother to hire a dog whisperer to translate what the pair of Mulitpoo dogs hooked in Ant McPartlin’s paws think of their new ‘owner’. But we do know that Ant (pedigree: Geordie) “kept them warm in his cosy jacket”. what else Ant keeps in his anorak is also left unsaid, and the pooches are advised to avid licking the ‘tic-tacs’.

Two more pages of Ant (not a shit) and his “2 poos” follow. We hear from a source (unnamed – pedigree: house-trained PR firm mutt), who tells us that Ant and his new love Anne-Marie (pedigree: a cross between Anne of Green Gables and Marie Antoinette) are in a “positive place”. No, not bed, you cynical sluts. Ant is taking a stroll on Wimbledon Common, and showing not the slightest hint of being affected by the man with camera tracking his every move. “Ant has never been so happy.” So there, Lisa (pedigree: ex-wife and former employee of aforesaid Anne-Marie).

By the way, the Sun lets it be know that Ant is now clean of booze and drugs (and Anne-Marie) and gainfully employed. You can keep track of his movements in your role as Ant Mentors as he treads the boards on TV show Britain’s Got Talent. First up is a man who says he can spin gold from a piece of shit. He works in PR and performs as ‘anonymous source’…

Posted: 4th, February 2019 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, News, Tabloids | 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


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