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

Brexit

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

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

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

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


Marijuana: cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome is something to worry about

How’s your learning curve? A bit flat? Business Insider brings news of something making marijuana users violently ill. This matters. You should know what you’re taking.

Cannabis is all the go in medical and medical circles. The Sun wonders: “Could cannabis oil fast-track your weight loss?” So in tune with the new “miracle drug” is the Sun that it tells readers to look out for “CBD – the element of cannabis associated with relaxation rather than tripping.” That’s CBD not LSD, although confusing the two is plainly simple. More questions follow, like this in the Guardian: “Can we all chill out about cannabis?” No, because the writer who “rarely got paranoid from smoking weed” recalls an episode in which she was so stoned she thought there was something wrong with the car she was driving along a busy road. There wasn’t.

So at what point do you stop puffing away? When you’re looking for non-existent puncture or choking your guts up?

For nearly a decade, the Australian woman had experienced sudden and severe episodes of nausea and vomiting in connection to using the drug. Before that, she’d smoked safely for years with no symptoms. In 2004, a team of emergency room physicians in the country detailed Mrs. X’s experience anonymously alongside a handful of similar cases that happened in the same region that year. In nearly all of them, patients described an illness that cropped up suddenly, often after decades of normal marijuana use. Piping hot baths were their only relief. The Australian physicians dubbed it “cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome,” or CHS.

Although the Australians’ report raised some red flags locally, most experts continued to believe that cases like Mrs. X’s were rare across the globe. Until a spate of similar reports begin to crop up elsewhere.

Now, several recent studies from emergency room physicians across Europe and the US are beginning to suggest that CHS could be a lot more common than previously thought.

This woman smoked weed and kept smoking it for ten years despite it making her ill. Weed, you know, it can make you a little slow.

Posted: 27th, March 2019 | In: News | Comment


Madeleine McCann: the cloning programme

mccann maddie

Madeleine McCann: an at-a-glance round-up of stories about the missing child in today’s media.

The website Mama Mia has “6 unanswered questions we have after watching The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann“. Tosh. There is only one question, and it’s unchanged since the child banished in 2007: what happened? The Netflix show shed light only on itself.

9News (Australia): “EXCLUSIVE ‘Maddie’s DNA possibly in car boot’: Top US scientist has key to unlock baffling McCann forensic riddle.”

Possibly. On planet Maddie, a possibility – a thing without proof – is an exclusive. We meet Dr Mark Perlin, “one of the leading DNA scientists in the world”. He’s not worked on the case. He says “modern methods” are best. 9News is all in, chiming: “Dr Perlin’s powerful DNA testing software, widely regarded as the most sophisticated on the planet, is a quantum leap ahead of the forensic science used in 2007, when the McCann samples were tested.” Regarded by whom? And why is Dr Perlin in the news? Answer: “Nine.com.au sent [Perlin] a copy of the FSS [the Forensic Science Service] DNA report which was handed to Portuguese police in September 2007.” Nine then interviewed Dr Whatshisface in the fifth episode of Maddie, “Nine.com.au‘s podcast investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance”. Dr Perlin has a company that he says could look at any DNA and maybe – maybe – crack the case. Or not. Possibly.

Yahoo: “Madeleine McCann Facebook page warns against ‘nasty comments’.”

Moderators behind the official Madeleine McCann Facebook page have put out a post warning against “nasty comments” following Netflix’s documentary on the case. The post reads, “As a reminder, all posts are hidden until they are approved. If you make a nasty comment, your post will be deleted and you will be banned. This is a place of hope. We will not tolerate negativity towards Madeleine, her family or anyone else on this page. “

In the Daily Telegraph most talk os possible things. Here’s Clarence Mitchell, the McCanns’ spokesman. “I asked the British authorities what they think happened and if there was any family involvement, ” he says “and they assured me it was just a rare case of stranger abduction. It’s very rare, but it can happen. A sexual motive is an obvious possibility.” Adding: “A child was taken to order from that room.”

It can happen? But did it happen?

The Sun: “HUNTED BY PAEDOS Madeleine McCann was ‘snatched to order’ by paedo gang who spied on her room, Kate and Gerry’s spokesman believes.”

Belief. So not a fact, then. He adds: “A lot of it is misinformed, misguided and based purely on assumptions or lack of knowledge. People deciding that the don’t like the McCanns. People also assumed the worst. That [the McCanns] were getting drunk, that they were having fun and that they did not care about their children.”

One man’s guess is not as good as another man’s guess.

The Sun: “MADDIE TROLLS Madeleine McCann’s parents ‘angry and upset’ as trolls bombard them with hate mail in wake of Netflix documentary”

Armchair detectives can be nasty. The Sun adds: “Heart doctor Gerry, 50, and former GP Kate, 51, now a medical worker, of Rothley, Leics, have slammed the programme saying it will “do absolutely nothing” to help the worldwide search to find her and could even hinder it.”

But we need an end to the story.

The Sun: “THE MADDIE FILES Madeleine McCann conspiracy theorists made bonkers claim Maddie was born as part of a government cloning project.”

Discuss in the form of an eight-part documentary or podcast.

Posted: 27th, March 2019 | In: Madeleine McCann, News | Comment


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

speeding eu driverless cars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Hamas rockets ‘land’ but Israel ‘attacks’

Israel Guardian

If it happens in Israel, it’s reported on the Guardian’s front page. Yesterday seven Israelis were hurt when a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit a house in Mishmeret, 12 miles north of Tel Aviv, at 5:20am. Around 10 days earlier, two rockets were fired towards Tel Aviv. Nobody was hurt. The Guardian’s front-page headline declares: “Airstrikes: Israel attacks Gaza amid heightened tensions.” The emphasis is on Israel taking the initiative. Missiles that hit Tel Aviv are not an attack , they are “heighten tension” enablers.

The BBC updates:

On Tuesday morning the IDF said it had launched 15 attacks in the northern Gaza Strip in retaliation for rockets being fired into Israeli territory. It said earlier that about 30 rockets had been fired into Israel since 22:00 local time (20:00 GMT) on Monday…

The official Palestinian news agency meanwhile reported that Israeli jets fired missiles at two locations in central Gaza City and in the eastern Shujaiya district. A spokesman for the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, Ashraf al-Qudra, said on 

Nasty stuff. Potentially lethal. Can we take sides? Let’s see. The Guardian produces the suggestive headline: “Israeli military bombs Gaza after rocket strike.” Who fired the rocket? No mention of Hamas in the headline. Why not “Hamas military attacks Israel”? The Jerusalem Post opts for: “TENSE QUIET IN SOUTHERN ISRAEL AFTER NIGHT OF ROCKETS AND AIRSTRIKES.” Words matter.

The Mail tell readers: “

Gaza is controlled by Hamas, a militant Palestinian group that seeks Israel’s destruction and possesses a large arsenal of rockets and missiles capable of striking deep inside Israel. The territory is home to other Palestinian militant groups, including Islamic Jihad, an Iranian-backed armed organization that also has a rocket arsenal.


The Guardian tells its readers:

In an apparent attempt to de-escalate the situation, a Hamas official, speaking to the Agence France-Presse news agency on condition of anonymity, denied the group was behind the rocket launch, and even suggested the projectile was automatically fired by mistake following “bad weather”.

Is what newspapers love out as important as what they put in? No mention of rocket arsenals and Iran’s role in things in the Guardian’s report. No mention of bad weather and defusing tensions in the Mail’s. The Sun says the family’s whose home was destroyed by the rocket “cheated death”. And get a load of this headline from CNN:

The rocket ‘lands’

Did the rockets that “obliterated” a family home just land, as a plane lands?


Posted: 26th, March 2019 | In: News | Comment


Look busy – the Porn Laws are coming

porn laws
Ban this sick filth

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

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

What can possibly go wrong?

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

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

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

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


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

Madrassa Briitsh

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

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

pakistan madrassa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Jacinda Ardern

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Donald Trump: John McCain still hasn’t thanked me for his funeral

Donal tRump buttplug

US President Donald Trump ‘has attacked the late Senator John McCain, complaining that he “didn’t get a thank you” for his state funeral.” So says the BBC. McCain never talked when he was in the Hanoi Hilton and he sure as hell ain’t gonna start now that he’s dead.

“We sent him on the way, but I wasn’t a fan of John McCain,” said Trump, reading the room on a visit to an Ohio tank factory. “I gave him the kind of funeral that he wanted, which as president I had to approve. I don’t care about this, I didn’t get a thank you. That’s OK.”

Comment from McCain came there none.

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


Lottery winner Ade Goodchild saves us from Brexit

Ade Goodchild

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

daily star lotto

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

ade goodchild

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

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

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


What racism? Raheem Sterling becomes the tabloids’ role model

Raheem Sterling the sun

In a tribute to Jadon Sancho, the England and Borussia Dortmund winger, the Sun’s Martin Blackburn says Raheem Sterling might be “something of a role model” to the tyro. Writing in the Times, Henry Winter calls Sterling “a role model in a divided land crying out for them”. Watford’s Troy Deeney has no truck with footballers being pitched as role models to strangers, arguing that he’s a role model only to his kids. But this isn’t about Sterling’s talents, which are considerable, but how the press portrays him. And the Sun has changed tact.

Winter has called out the media’s bias towards Sterling, an intelligent, driven young black athlete on the receiving end of some monocular reporting. And the Sun has been accused of treating Sterling unfairly.

raheem sterling drugs
Story about drugs: Nothing to do with Raheem Sterling
Young man from working-class background buys house!
raheem sterling tattoo gun
Sterling gets a tribute to his late father – it’s an anti-gun tattoo
raheem sterling the sun
And the Sun’s Star letter is… GET STERLING!
raheem sterling m16 tattoo
Raheem and his part in the Vietnam War

Today the BBC reports the words of Spurs and England full-back Danny Rose, who says players were “over the moon” to see Raheem Sterling criticise the media’s portrayal of black players and says the winger was “spot on”. Sterling opined that newspapers helped “fuel racism” by the way they portray young black footballers.

“Raheem was only saying what we all say in the dressing room,” said Rose, 28.”It’s sad really but he’s 100% spot on with what he said… The stick he used to get from the media was bang out of order. When he put the [Instagram] post up about the media we were all over the moon with that because we all agree. Fair play to Raheem… One of the few positive things about social media now is you have a voice and you can influence people. Now it’s not just boys in the dressing room talking about the media targeting Raheem, the general public have now seen it. We hope it changes but it doesn’t affect Raheem in any way, which we are all grateful for.”

I’ve no interest in a footballer being a role model. I just want them to be brilliant and give their all when playing for my team and rubbish in a rival club’s shirt. Does what Wayne Rooney or Raheem Sterling do in their downtime fill a gap in your parenting skills? Simon Barnes summed it up well in The Times: “Football itself is neither disgusting nor admirable. It’s just a game, it doesn’t have any pretensions to be a moral force, for good or evil. That’s not its job.” Stop holding footballers up as an example to the slack-jawed masses, and stop making examples of them.

Next week: why aren’t MPs role models?

Posted: 20th, March 2019 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Brexit: Operation Yellowhammer replaces Operation Glasshammer

operation yellowhammer

Finally something new in the Brexit shambles. The Daily Telegraph leads with Brexit, telling readers that unless Theresa May and her minions agree a new date for the UK leaving the EU “Operation Yellowhammer” will be enacted. Sounds rather exiting. Operation Yellowhammer has to be better than the current Operation Glasshammer.

Should the Government opt for a long delay to Brexit, post-EU empire builders Andrea Leadsom, Liam Fox and Chris Grayling have “warned” May “they could quit” the Cabinet. As Grayling is sent to the shops to buy some tartan paint, Leadsom orders replacement bubbles for British spirit levels and Fox finally gets his hands on that reversible drill, Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay writes to those Cabinet ministers still listening: “Operation Yellowhammer command and control structures will be enacted fully on 25 March unless a new exit date has been agreed between the UK and the EU.”

How delicious is that line. “Operation Yellowhammer command and control structures.” Good to see whoever used to write the script for Knight Rider has found work. What these command and control structures are no newspaper can identity. But we have ways. Control is here to help:

Posted: 20th, March 2019 | In: News | Comment


John Bercow v Brexit: you sweet beautiful man

John Bercow Brexit
Daily Mail

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

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

John Bercow Brexit
The Sun

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

Daily Express

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

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

John Bercow Brexit
Daily Mirror

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

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


Childhood evacuees in Wales

Wales evacuees

To escape German bombs, thousands of of children were sent from Liverpool and London to live in rural Wales. Flashbak has a terrific collection of images from life back then.

A Child’s Life in Wales 1939-1962

Posted: 19th, March 2019 | In: News | Comment


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

kate mccann maddie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Comic Relief: David Lammy shamed whites into not giving

Comic RElief

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

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

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

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

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

Africa’s poor will be waiting.

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


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

Daily Mail Christchurch blonde

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

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

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

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

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

Andy Dawson puts it well:

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

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


Man knifed to death in Fulham: Jill Dando evoked

So how you report on the death of man in a fight in Fulham, south-west London? If you’re ITV News, you tell viewers that a 29-year-old man was stabbed to death “yards from where TV presenter Jill Dando was shot nearly 20 years ago”. Is that a line of enquiry?

And this on the BBC website:

Fulham murder

The dead man was not shot. He was stabbed to death in a fight.

Jill dando death fulham

The dead man is named in the Sun as Nathaniel. We get that fact after the headline:

jill dando nathaniel
Jill Dando committed murder after a row?

“Jill Dando murdered after blazing street row”. No. But who cares about journalism and facts when you can inject a celebrity element into a story of a young man losing his life?

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


Man stands guard outside Manchester mosque to protect his friends

Mosque guard Manchester

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

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

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

Update: his name’s Andrew Graystone.

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

Nice one.

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


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

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

The Sun New Zealand massacre

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

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

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

daily mail new zealand facebook

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

So, who else be blamed?

The Hill:

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

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

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

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


The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann: TV at its most pathetic

mccann maddie podcast

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

The FT:

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

I sail therefore I math.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Madeleine McCann: Netflix show says actors kidnapped child

madeleine mccann netflix

There’s a  “Maddie shocker” on the Daily Star’s cover. The paper doesn’t tell you what it is until you reach page 13. That location’s a clue, isn’t it. It tells us that the story isn’t shocking and certainly doesn’t reveal what happened to Madeleine McCann back in May 2007.  But let’s take the bait and flick through…

The story is about that new Netflix drama into the child’s vanishing. It will, says the marketing and the tabloid, “contain explosive new claims”. They’d best be good. We’ve heard some pretty edgy stuff in the decade and more since a 4-year-old girl on holiday became ‘Our Maddie’.

The Mail also trails the show. It tells us: “Haunting last footage of Madeleine McCann boarding a plane to Portugal with her family days before her disappearance is unearthed in new Netflix documentary.” Haunting because..? No reasons are given. She didn’t go missing on the plane to The Algarve. She didn’t board the plan and then – poof!  – vanish. It’s not haunting to see the child on the plane’s steps. It’s ghoulish.  

On page 29, the Mail conducts an interactive study. “Is this Maddie playing in Portugal just days before she vanished.” Before. Not after. So let’s say ‘yes’, it is her. Because a four-years-old on holiday will do a lot of playing. The Mail says the image of a child seen from the back who might or might be Madeleine McCann is “haunting”. The Mail sees ghosts where the rest of us see a flesh and blood child, and a mystery most likely rooted in the criminal rather than the supernatural.

Indeed, as part of Netflix’s armchair detective show, we see a “dramatic reconstruction of Maddie’s abductors…running through the resort’s streets with a child in their arms.” These kidnappers are played by “actors”. This is no CCTV footage of this as an actual event. And for reasons uncertain, the “couple” seen carrying a child in plain view constitute one man (brown skinned; 30-ish; jeans and trainers) and one woman (white; 30-ish, headscarf). Why they’re portrayed like this is unsaid. But, you know, telly. And it’s hard to get Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman to patch up their differences, even if it is to help with an open case. Also, very few actors resemble this early suspect:

One artist’s impression of the suspect

The “fleeing couple” also look not a lot like these “suspects”:

belgium-suspect1

Picture 1 of 6

If The Dandy comic did abductions

But there has been a breakthrough. Over in the Sun we get the answer to the Mail’s question. “Maddie,” says the paper, “New pic playing on hols.” Not now. Way back then.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 15th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, Madeleine McCann, News, Tabloids | Comment


Uefa pause from flogging junk food, debt and gambling to investigate Neymar for swearing in private

Uefa supports booze, junk food, debt and big oil but says no to sweating in private

We like footballers to be on-message when they talk, to speak about knife crime (against), isotonic drinks and potato crisps – two of your five a day, kids! – (for) and betting (do it lots because watching football is only fun and truly matters if it includes gambling and the chance to lose your home). So when Neymar, the irritating Paris Saint-Germain forward, offered his opinion that the perennial French chokers had been robbed by an absurd refereeing decision to award Manchester United a penalty that proved decisive when the two sides met in the Champions League he should have known to speak carefully. He didn’t. Uefa is all for football promoting betting, booze and debt but very much against footballers calling bollocks on VAR in a private comment to people who follow them. Uefa have, as the Times puts it, “launched an investigation into his sweary rant at the match officials after last week’s defeat”.

You will recall that referee Damir Skomina awarded United an injury-time penalty when Diogo Dalot’s wayward shot hit Presnel Kimpembe’s elbow. Having hands and lower arms in the penalty area is now an offence. Marcus Rashford scored from the spot to give United a 3-1 win on the night and send them through on away goals. No-one who loves the game laments the loss of PSG, a fashion brand masquerading as a sporting entity. But Neymar was rightly cheesed off.

“This is a disgrace,” Neymar wrote to his followers on Instagram. “They put 4 people that know nothing about football in charge of looking at the replay for VAR. There is no penalty. How can it be a handball when it hits his back! Go f**k yourselves!”

In response, Uefa has detailed an – get this – “Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector” to investigate Neymar’s comments. If found guilty of being rude, Neymar, one the world’s best players, could be banned for three matches. Which makes you wonder what the ban would have been had he said what he really thought of the ***** VAR ***** ****s!

Now eat your junk food, make your bet and obey the rules. Uefa is watching.

Posted: 14th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Josh Stone plays North Korea

North Korea Josh Stone

Joss Stone has sang at a bar in North Korea, as part of her Total World Tour. Stone intends to perform in every one of the worlds country’s. She’s ticked off North Korea, Iraq and Syria without problem.

“It was a little scary crossing the border as of course we have absolutely no idea what might transpire,” said Stone to her Instagram followers. “We just have to trust the people on the ground that are advising us and looking after us”. 

In Mr Kim’s kingdom, Stone got to hang out with British ambassador to the country, Colin Crooks. “Amazing to meet @JossStone tonight in #Pyongyang and see her perform,” Mr Crooks wrote on Twitter. Given his usual entertainment diet of mime acts and the glorious leader on the telly boasting about the country’s 8th World Cup victory and moon landings, Stone’s show can only have been a huge relief. Crooks must have clapped loudly, and possibly whopped before sobbing about missing out on the Brazil job.

Posted: 14th, March 2019 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, News | Comment