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News | Anorak - Part 20

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Stephen Hawking’s time travel proof – none turned up to his funeral

Time travellers are invited to come to Stephen Hawking’s memorial service in June. We expect – as he himself would have expected – none of them to turn up. There being rather an in-joke going on here.

Hawking’s work was rather famously about black holes, wormholes an other bits and pieces of weird physics mixed with astronomy. And it’s those weird bits which some think hold the secret to time travel if that is indeed possible at all. We’re really pretty certain that there isn’t – and isn’t going to be – some little box that allows us to go forward to next Tuesday nor to go back. All those sci-fi stories about being able to get the racing results and make a fortune aren’t going to come true.

But Hawking’s work was all about this sort of thing. And some of his theoretical results said that it might be possible using these weird bits of astrophysics. Or not, as the case may be. So, thus the joke about the memorial service:

A thousand people have been invited to attend a June memorial service for theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, whose ashes will forever be interred next to Sir Isaac Newton’s in the halls of the 11th century Westminster Abbey church.

And travelers from the future, it seems, are permitted to attend.

The joke here being that Hawking had already tested the idea a few years back:

I have experimental evidence that time travel is not possible. I gave a party for time-travellers, but I didn’t send out the invitations until after the party. I sat there a long time, but no one came.

No, really, he did.

And that’s a rather good proof of time travel too. Imagine that it does exist. So, where the hell are they all? That there aren’t any is rather evidence that it’s not possible, isn’t it?

Posted: 13th, May 2018 | In: News, Technology | Comment


‘Casual anti-semitism’ on the BBC Radio 4’s News Quiz

Ever listen to The News Quiz on BBC Radio 4? It’s the soundtrack to a Boden catalogue: knowing, safe and predictable; sold as edgy to ambulatory roadkill who book family yurts at Glastonbury and can conjugate Prosecco. It’s the tinkle of dinner party laughter that says, ‘Wouldn’t this be funny if it was funny.’ Today’s audio vanilla was a cracker, kicking off with guff about Trump, Israel, Iran and those pesky Jews. Once upon a time someone at the Beeb decided that Israel and ‘The Jews’ should always sit at the top of the news cycle. So here it was again. Tune in as someone called Jeremy Hardy ‘satirises’ all the safe targets before talking about Jews, you know those problematic “tailors” and “showbiz” types who give conspiracy theorists – enjoy the bit about the “miraculous” missiles – and the right-on, uniquely sensitive and knowing Left direction and cause.

 

 

 

Running through the hideous bilge lies the essential truth that mocking Israel and Jews is a sign of Jewish strength. There are no jokes on the religionists running Iran because they’re thugs who might smack you in the mouth. On the News Quiz, they only lampoon what they don’t fear.

Posted: 12th, May 2018 | In: News, TV & Radio | Comment


Artist accuses Netflix of Stranger Things stormcloud theft

stranger things cloud theft

Heavey’s Stranger Things cloud

 

Sean R. Heavey thought the Hellish cloud hanging over the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, looked familiar. The town, the setting for Netflix’s hit TV show Stranger Things, was in the shadow of what Heavey thinks looked like his artwork. And then things escalated when Heavey was alerted to a scene on spin-off show Beyond Stranger Things (episode 3) on Netflix. He says his concept art that was used by the Stranger Things production team.

 

stranger things cloud theft

A Netflix original?

 

He wrote to Netflix, who told him it was ought luck. He says:

“They are saying the only similarity that exists is the use of a similar cloud formation, that copyright law does not protect objects as they appear in nature, and that an artist can’t claim a monopoly over real-world public domain objects such as a cloud formation. The problem with that argument is that it’s not a similar cloud they use — it’s my cloud photo.”

Real world? We’re talking about conceptual art and a fictional TV show.

Heavey has called in the lawyers. But isn’t Netflix right: viewing and adapting different sources for inspiration and an original story is fair use? Is Heavey sues and wins, won’t the makers of ET, Poltergeist, The Goonies and any number of sci-fi books and comics form a line to the copyright courts, suing the derivative show for borrowing and using ideas?

Spotter: Boing Boing

Posted: 11th, May 2018 | In: News, TV & Radio | Comment


Freedom wins as MPs reject Leveson 2

Only two newspaper, The Times and The Sun (prop R. Murdoch), lead with the great news that Ministers have fought off an attempt to trigger a second stage of the Leveson inquiry into Press standards. Why more don’t is a mystery. But, then, a Commons vote on the Data Protection Bill was low on the news cycle. The Government won by just nine votes – 304 votes to 295. It was that close. Five Tories voted with Labour.

We should celebrate this victory for freedom, cheer a vote that thumbs its nose at the sneering drive to diminish the Press, to destroy all that frenetic, thrusting, contrarian, offensive, truth-seeking and enlivening news and opinion, and beat it dull with a legal cosh.

Culture Secretary Matt Hancock said it was a “great day” for a free press. Hacked Off, who want State-backed regulators to oversee what can and cannot be said, warned “the fight goes on in Parliament and the courts”. But yesterday the censors lost. And the public don’t back them. When asked if we supported Section 40 and Leveson 2, 79 per cent of us from a whopping 174,730 responses said ‘No’ and ‘No’.

Former Labour leader Ed Miliband is upset that his bid to shackle free expression, reduce choice, stick it to the gutter press and the slum people who read it, and boot the ‘Press barons’ was defeated. Had it passed publishers not signing up to the state-approved regulator would need to pay their own and their opponents’ legal costs in relation to alleged data breaches and more – win or lose. It would have been another blow to our beleaguered free Press. Had Miliband, Tom Watson, the deputy Labour leader, and their side won the day, it would be heretical and financially ruinous to print something the Government disapproves of. If you can’t be trusted to censor yourself, the Government would enforce your compliance and prevent you from corrupting the slack-jawed masses with your words. Vote ‘yes’ to Ed’s policy and we all move a step closer to speaking with the assuredness of a man who has read one book and agreed with everything in it.

 

ed miliband leverson

“Do as I think”

 

Most newspapers have signed up to Ipso, the Independent Press Standards Organisation, which has no intention of applying for recognition under the royal charter. good, Some control is required. But the State should be kept well out of it.

We should let people decide what they want to read. Don’t smear readers as stupid and incapable of reason. Progress comes through dialogue and challenge. Censorship is for prudes, control freaks, bores, totalitarian regimes, and people who mistook The Young Ones for a documentary and knew Rick was always right. Yesterday’s vote was a victory for trust in humanity. It was that big.

Posted: 10th, May 2018 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Former Arsenal player invited to join pale and shadowy World Economic Forum

World_Economic_Forum

 

Former Arsenal midfielder Mathieu Flamini, 34, has been invited to join the World Economic Forum’s community of Young Global Leaders (YGL). We know what that is – and what it aims to be – from the group’s website.

The YGL was “established in 1971 as a not-for-profit foundation and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.” No profits and it’s based in Switzerland, with a big annual meeting in Davos? What are the wages and perks like? Why do they host their shindig away from other humans and flowers – are they scared they petals will wilt and fall as the selfless do-gooders walk by?

The Transnational Institute describes the World Economic Forum’s main purpose as being “to function as a socializing institution for the emerging global elite, globalization’s ‘Mafiocracy’ of bankers, industrialists, oligarchs, technocrats and politicians. They promote common ideas, and serve common interests: their own.” Bono calls them “fat cats in the snow”.  It is the “most exclusive private social network in the world”.

A look at the Board of Trustees reveals not a single black face – which seems a peculiar oversight for an outfit keen to improve the entire world and the lot of its peoples. There is also not a black face on Managing Board. There is one on the Executive Committee. So that’s one black face in 82 leading positions in an institution that will “bring attention to challenges that affect the future of global society”.

One hundred of the world’s most promising artists, business leaders, public servants, technologists and social entrepreneurs have been asked to join the World Economic Forum’s community of Young Global Leaders. They are joining a community and five-year programme that will challenge them to think beyond their scope of expertise and be more impactful leaders. They were nominated because of their ground-breaking work, creative approaches to problems and ability to build bridges across cultures and between business, government, and civil society.

They want Flamini. But why would Famini want them? He works with GF Biochemicals, which works to develop technology to produce sustainable alternatives to oil-based products. His company produces levulinic acid, which could be an alternative to petrol. But not air fuel for private jets – not yet.

Posted: 10th, May 2018 | In: Arsenal, Money, News, Sports | Comment


The scandal of Motorway coffee costing more

motorway service station coffee

 

The Daily Mail has noticed that a coffee at a motorway services station costs more from McDonalds, Costa or KFC than it does from the same outlets not at a motorway services station. The explanation for this is really very simple – rent – and it’s the one explanation that we’re not given. Which is a pity because it is a very simple explanation.

Breaking up your journey with a coffee stop at a motorway service station? You may find it breaks the bank too.

An investigation has found that roadside stores charge up to 28 per cent more for a medium latte – costing motorists an extra 74p compared with the high street.

How desperately awful, eh?

Breaking up your journey with a coffee stop at a motorway service station? You may find it breaks the bank too.

An investigation has found that roadside stores charge up to 28 per cent more for a medium latte – costing motorists an extra 74p compared with the high street.

We’re given varied reasons for this, including the station operators claiming that it’s more expensive to operate such stations than general run of the mill services so therefore prices are higher. But it’s why costs are higher than matters and that’s rent.

The basic underlying story here goes all the way back to the very dawn of economics when David Ricardo published his book on rent, in 1817. If you can produce more crop from a piece of land then the rent on it will be higher than land that produces less. We can say the same thing by insisting that the cost of the land will be higher where there’s more money to be made. A third way of saying just that same thing is that the landlord always gets a chunk of whatever can be produced from a piece of land.

This is actually why Starbucks was making no profit – thus paying no tax – a few years back. They had lots of leases on lots of buildings that would be good to sell coffee out of. Because the landlords get a piece of that action places good to sell coffee out of have higher rents. Starbucks wasn’t making a profit selling lots of coffee but the landlords were doing just fine.

But that’s where there are lots of shops around. Starbucks couldn’t raise the price of coffee in those expensive places because if they did then we’d go to the one around the corner. Where prices were lower because they were paying less rent. That landlord’s share was thus coming out of Starbucks profits, not ours, the customers.

Now replay the same game but where there isn’t another shop just around the corner. We all know that lots of money can be made running a services station. Once people have decided to go there they’re a rather captive market though. So rents are high. But instead of those high rents coming out of the profits of the operators, they come out of our pockets in the form of higher prices. Because once we’re there we cannot go to another coffee shop.

There is no solution to this either. Just because there are only so many service stations, and once we stop at one we’re going to be doing our buying there, there’s lots of money to be had from running a service station. That means high rents – and that will, because of the lack of competition, lead to higher prices.

It really is all there in Ricardo’s book from 1817. It’s about time everyone understood it too, isn’t it? Two centuries being long enough?

Image: The Drive of Our Lives – The Heyday of the Motorway Service Station

 

Posted: 8th, May 2018 | In: Key Posts, Money, News, The Consumer | Comment


Prince Harry can’t recall meeting Meghan’s dad Thomas in Toronto?

Time to catch up with Thomas Markle, Meghan Markle’s dad. The Mail says the “virtual recluse” has still to meet Prince Harry. In the build up to the wedding, the Queen will be hosting a do at which Thomas will meet Her Maj and the rest of The Munsters. “Remarkably,” says the Mail, “it will be the first time that Prince Harry will meet his fiancee’s father.”

Aside from Thomas Markle being anything but a recluse, the Mail might care to note on January 4th 2017 we read that Thomas and Harry met in Toronto a while back. And where did we read that news? In the Mail:

 

thomas markle daily mail

 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 7th, May 2018 | In: News, Royal Family, Tabloids | Comment


Racism is only unacceptable if McDonnell and Corbyn notice it in Pendle

The story of the Tory and the racist joke features Pendle Council, Lancashire, and Rosemary Carroll’s return to the Conservative party’s ranks. In July 2017, Carroll was suspended from the Conservative Party for sharing a joke on Facebook. The Lancashire Evening Post added a dash of tautology and called the joke “racist and derogatory”. Council leader Mohammed Iqbal made an official complaint and called for Carroll councillor to be expelled from the Council and the Conservative Party.

Pendle Tory leader Coun. Cooney acknowlegded the “racist post which had been shared on Facebook by one of our councillors” and stated: “We will not tolerate racism of any form.”

By now you want to know two things: what was the joke and what happened next? Well, the Daily Mirror reproduces the joke. Most other newspapers and the BBC do not. Indeed the BBC says: “Tories urged to act in ‘racist joke’ row at Pendle Council,” the broadcaster unsure what is racist. Without the joke, the story is lacking. Here it is:

“I took my dog to the dole office to see what he was entitled to. The bloke behind the counter said ‘you idiot, we don’t give benefits to dogs’. “I argued ‘why not? He’s brown, he stinks, he’s never worked a f***ing day in his life & he can’t speak a f***ing word of English’. “The man replied: ‘His first payment will be Monday’.”

Nasty stuff.

Carroll spoked to LADbible. Her apology contained a blend of sympathetic back story and the caveat now routine in all apologies, the one that places the onus on the recipient and their reaction, ‘if I have caused offence’. She said:

“It was a mistake, obviously, somebody posted it to me and I thought I was deleting it. I don’t use Facebook much. Everything has gone over the top now. It was a genuine mistake. I can only apologise, because I am not racist by any means. All I can say is, if I’ve caused offence, I am truly sorry. I don’t do stuff like this and have closed that Facebook thing.”

In May, Carroll rejoined the Tories.

Tory leader Paul White says Ms Carroll had “learned form her mistake”. Mohammmed Iqbal says:  “They should have done the decent thing and distanced themselves from her. I’m appalled. The suspension was a gimmick.”

Carroll’s return was timely. In the council elections, the Tories won control of Pendle council by a single seat. The Conservatives control Pendle with 25 seats, ahead of Labour’s 15 and the Liberal Democrats’ nine.

And then the story got bigger. Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said it was “unacceptable” for Carroll to return. “To have the Conservative Party take control of that council by reinstating a councillor who used the foulest, foulest joke, a racist joke is unacceptable,” he said.

If Carroll’s return is wrong is – and argue amongst yourselves if it is – is it also wrong for Naz Shah, Jeremy Corbyn and others accused of racism to be in the Labour Party?

Shah was John McDonnell’s PPS. Shah is the Bradford West MP – and what if her job gave the Labour Party an overall Commons majority? – who shared on Facebook the idea of “transporting” citizens of the world’s only Jewish state (that’s Israel, not New York) to the middle of the USA. Having called for a country to be obliterated and “foreigner” Jews forcibly relocated away from what many see as their ancient home, she added the comment “problem solved”.

The JC added: “Shah also posted a tweet with a link to a blog which claimed Zionism had been used to ‘groom’ Jews to ‘exert political influence at the highest levels of public office’.”  The BBC adds: “A number of other posts emerged, with her comparing Israel to the Nazis and saying ‘the Jews are rallying’.”

Nasty. Labour suspended Shah. But she apologised, kept her job and her salary. After a brief suspension (a little over 3 months), Shah was back.

Former Labour major of London Ken Livingstone is still suspended by Labour. He said Shah’s comments were “rude and over-the-top” but not anti-Semitic – even though Shah accepted it was and apologised. And then he doubled down, opining: “When Hitler won his election in 1932 his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews.”

John Rentoul noted:

Livingstone’s refusal to accept that he had ever come across anti-Semitism in his 47 years in the Labour Party. And hence his refusal when pressed on the BBC’s Daily Politics today to accept that Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, whom he invited to London and who wrote that “every Jew in the world” should be fought by “every Muslim”, was anti-Semitic because he had never said anything anti-Semitic to him.

Back to Jeremy Corbyn, then, of whom Nick Cohen writes:

Corbyn invited Hamas and Hizbollah to Parliament and called them his ‘friends’. Bear in mind that Hamas’s Charter is explicitly genocidal – it makes it clear its supporters want to kill Jews and repeats Nazi conspiracy theories. Their founding Charter also rules out any peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestine problem. It says:

Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement… There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through jihad.

See a pattern?

Ben McIntrye has a good article in the Times on why Livingstone is no historian:

The suggestion that Hitler backed the idea of a Jewish homeland underpins an association between Nazism and Zionism that is fundamentally antisemitic. It is also wrong. “You can’t expel someone for stating historical fact,” Livingstone insists. But his claim is not a fact: it is a distortion of history, a defence of the indefensible that has undoubtedly emboldened antisemites within his party, leading to the current meltdown…

The Haavara Agreement was really just one more way of ethnically cleansing the Jews from Germany and taking their wealth. The idea that it represented any kind of support for a Jewish homeland, a central tenet of Zionism, is ludicrous and a deliberate perversion of its real import…

The idea that the Holocaust was due to the onset of “madness” on Hitler’s part is also wrong, reducing a programme of collective evil to an act of insanity on the part of one man. Hitler’s genocide was not the unexpected policy of a lone madman but premeditated, rational by Nazi logic, and purely wicked.

The oldest trick in the book of cornered politicians is to claim to have been accused of something they have not been accused of, and deny it. “I did not say Hitler was a Zionist,” the former London mayor said. “And that was why I was suspended.” Again, not true: he was punished because he claimed Nazi “support” for Zionism, a more subtle insinuation and a misreading of historical fact.

After Livingstone’s comments, things escalated. The Times again:

John Mann, who chairs the all-party parliamentary group against antisemitism, branded Mr Livingstone a “Nazi apologist” in a confrontation outside a TV studio that was captured live on camera. Mr Mann is reported to have called him a “f***ing disgrace”.

When the party released a statement early in the afternoon to announce Mr Livingstone’s suspension, a spokesman added that Mr Mann had been summoned to see the chief whip about his conduct.

Michael Dugher, Labour MP for Barnsley East and a former frontbencher, said that announcing the actions at the same time represented “drawing some kind of moral equivalence between John Mann and Ken Livingstone”.

“Yet again they’ve prevaricated because it was another of their close allies up to their necks in antisemitism again,” Mr Dugher said.

Is any of that “unacceptable” to John McDonnell?

In January, we got more:

On Saturday, International Holocaust Memorial Day, Mr Livingstone, 72, a former mayor of London, appeared in a programme called Has the Holocaust been exploited to oppress others? on the Iranian state-owned channel Press TV.

He said that Hitler had worked with the Zionist movement to move Jewish people to Israel: “He worked with the Zionist movement to move . . . to get 60,000 to go, but it was about half a million — and then he changed his policy and went for genocide.”

The presenter, Roshan Muhammed Salih, told viewers that Mr Livingstone, who has been suspended from Labour since April 2016, had been “targeted by the Zionist lobby here in the UK”.

You know who else used to appear on Press TV? Yeah: Jeremy Corbyn who used to present a show on the channel – although since Labour was exposed as haven for anti-Semites, traces of Corbyn’s journalism seem to have vanished from YouTube.

 

Corbyn mural east london

Corbyn and ‘Yvonne Ridley’ – someone of that name also used to present a show on Press TV  – both voice their support for an anti-Semitic mural in East London.

 

If Rosemary Carroll’s return to the Tories is “unacceptable” to Labour – she underwent diversity training and apologised;  Shah went on a “journey” of self-discovery and apologised fully; Corbyn says of supporting a huge painting of Jewish bankers sat on the backs of naked workers, something the Guardian says “resembled a homage to the Nazi newspaper Der Stürmer”, “I sincerely regret that I did not look more closely at the image I was commenting on.”

Labour only notices racism when it’s not about them and everyone else is pointing at it.

Posted: 7th, May 2018 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment


Transfer balls: Mahrez to Arsenal is clickbait

The BBC says Leicester forward Riyad Mahrez is “keen to join Arsenal”. The 27-year-old Algerian is on his way to the Emirates, says the Sunday Express in what it hails as a “transfer exclusive”.

 

mahrez leicester arsenal transfer

Daily Express – EXCLUSIVE

 

The story contains not a single new fact. But we do learn that “Express Sport understands” Mahrez “favours a move to Arsenal”. Apparently, Mahrez “has a house in the capital and would prefer a switch there over a move to Manchester”. So not withstanding Mahrez’s shock realisation that people live in houses in Manchester and, unlike in London, anyone on a mere £100,000-a-week can afford one, Arsenal it is, then.

Maybe. Because the Express also ‘understands’, “Tottenham and Chelsea remain alternative options”, to say nothing of West Ham, Crystal Palace and Watford, which the Express doesn’t.

Of course, this guesswork is based on previous reports linking Mahrez to Arsenal. You might have read them in the Express:

 

mahrez leicester arsenal transfer

Another Express scoop

 

Not that the Express is the only newspaper to have told us that Mahrez to Arsenal was a done deal:

 

mahrez leicester arsenal transfer

The Daily Mirror poses the story as question – but Google doesn’t recognise question marks – so the story is presented as fact to any readers searching for Mahrez, Leicester City and Arsenal news.

 

mahrez leicester arsenal transfer

Teamtalks opts for invested commas

 

mahrez leicester arsenal transfer

The Telegraph also opts for inverted commas

 

mahrez leicester arsenal transfer

The Metro

 

Mahrez to Arsenal it is, then…

Posted: 6th, May 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Manchester United Alex Ferguson ‘fights for life’ and privacy

The red-top tabloids agree on one thing: former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is “fighting for his life”:

 

alex ferguson brain surgery

 

The Sun on Sunday, Mirror and Star all  lead on Sir Alex Ferguson’s emergency operation for a brain haemorrhage. The former Manchester United boss is in intensive care at Salford Royal Hospital.

The news is peppered with good will wishes from many, including Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo. It’s unlikely Fergie is reading them. But such public displays of support serve to pad out the single-thread news and cast a light on the tweeters and Instagramers.

Ferguson’s family have asked for privacy – which is presumably why the news media is camped outside the hospital. Sky News’ man in the car park told us this morning that Fergie is “in the best place”.  You think?

Amidst much guff, credit, then to Everton manager Sam Allardyce who rather than shining a light on himself, offered instead: “I hope he’s in good hands and I hope the operation is a major success.”

Well said. And well said too, Man United’s Ashley Young: “Gutted to hear the news tonight about Sir Alex. Don’t really know what else to say other than thoughts and prayers with you and your family, boss.”

A bit less well said was is what former United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar noted: “Devastated about the news about Sir Alex and knowing all too well about the situation ourselves. Stay strong and hope together with everyone you recover.”

He is alive, Edwin.

 

alex ferguson brain surgery alex ferguson brain surgery

Posted: 6th, May 2018 | In: manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


Crystal Palace player apologies for scoring against Stoke

Patrick an Aanholt says he’s sorry for scoring a goal for Crystal Palace in the South Londoners 2-1 win over Stoke City. Van Aanholt has never played for Stoke. So it’s not yet another example of that sad, pathetic and po-faced non-celebration celebration enacted by players who score against a former club. Van Aanholt is sorry because his goal means Stoke City are relegated from the Premier League.

 

stoke city aarnholt tweet

 

Van Aanholt scored when he took full advantage of Ryan Shawcross’s calamitous under-hit backpass. A more cogent argument for Stoke’s demise than the vibrant opposition trying to score, and succeeding twice, would be to point the finger at Shawcross and then point lots more fingers at the rest of the Stoke side who failed to protect a 1-0 lead in a vital match.

Stoke fans can shake a fist at a club that forgot how to beat a team – winning once since January – that in Xherdan Shaqiri, have a single capable of posing a threat, and are overseen by board that took too long to sack the wildly overrated Mark Hughes.

Paul Lambert, Stoke’s manager, says relegation is a “change to rebuild”. Although he’s yet to tweet a word of thanks to Van Aanholt.

Posted: 5th, May 2018 | In: News, Sports | Comment


UKIP vows to return the county to the Middle Ages

 

UKIP is going to kill you. Kill your first born. Kill everyone you love. Following a hammering at the polls, UKIP’s General Secretary went on the BBC’s Today programme, telling Nick Robinson about the party’s plans for a dramatic return to the fore:

“Think of the Black Death in the Middle Ages. It comes along, it causes disruption then it goes dormant. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”

Sod all that guff about UKIP turning the clock back to the 1950s or even the 1930s – it’s the 1340s.

Image: Rats dancing at the time of the plague. Oil on canvas by an unknown Flemish artist, 17th century.

Posted: 5th, May 2018 | In: News, Politicians | Comment


Transfer balls: Arsenal’s £200m budget for £25m-a-year-Enrique

How much money will the next Arsenal manager be given to splurge on players? The coach who replaces Arsene Wenger should read the small print on any contract because the newspapers and the trusty BBC are very confused.

The BBC says “Arsene Wenger’s successor at Arsenal will be given a £200m transfer budget”. That’s a huge amount of money. Wenger could have bought 5 Granit Xhakas for that.

 

wenger arsenal transfer budget

 

The source for the BBC’s story is the no less trusty Daily Star. It reports the headline figure as an “exclusive” but offers not a single shred of proof to support the story – not even an unnamed “insider” is coughed up to say it’s all true.

 

budget arsenal

 

It’s wrong, of course. We know the £200m figure is wrong because on April 23 the Daily Telegraph said the next Arsenal manger will have a transfer kitty of…£50m.

 

arsenal players budget

 

 

That lower figure sounds more in keeping with Arsenal’s history than the £200m. So how did it come about? Well, a few days ago, the Sun said former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique wants £200m spending money to take over at Arsenal. But Arsenal don’t have that sum so it’s no deal.

Did the Star just see the figure and echo it?

As for the uninspiring Enrique arriving at Arsenal, the Sun of May 2 noted: “ARSENAL target Luis Enrique’s staggering £25million wage demands could rule him out of the running to replace Arsene Wenger.”

Only ‘could’? On April 29, the Times told its readers:

Arsenal have stepped away from making Luis Enrique the managerial successor to Arsene Wenger… The Sunday Times understands that senior executives consider Enrique an inappropriate fit to the position.

In short: no-one outside the club knows who Arsenal will appoint, let alone what the transfer budget will be.

 

Posted: 5th, May 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Only bigots and fools think Jews lost Barnet for Labour

According to the Indy, the Conservatives won control of Barnet Council in north London because “Labour was punished by voters for the antisemitism controversy”. Er, no.

Also wrong is Owen Jones, who writing beneath the hopeful headline “The biggest election threat facing Labour is complacency”, tells Guardian readers:

“Westminster, Barnet and Kensington and Chelsea are all Tory citadels in the capital that have never surrendered to the wooing of Labour.”

Jones’s long and monocular story tells of Tory “chaos” over Windrush and makes a single mention of all that anti-Jew hatred in the heart of Labour’s ranks:

Barnet, in north London, is home to Britain’s biggest Jewish population, many of whom feel angry about, and fearful of, the left’s antisemitic fringe.

Fringe? Is Jeremy Corbyn now on the fringe of the party he leads?

Jones might also like to read this letter in the Guardian:

Labour took control of the council in 1994 with the support of the Lib Dems, remaining in power until the election of 2002. From 1997 until 2010, it returned two Labour MPs: Rudi Vis (Finchley and Golders Green) and Andrew Dismore (Hendon). Not so “otherworldy” then.

Having reduced Jews from individuals with their own likes, dislikes, needs, contradictions and prejudices to a group who vote en masse – what racism? – the Indy adds:

Labour was widely expected to win the borough for the first time since the local authority was created in 1964. London Mayor Sadiq Khan had predicted the party would “probably” claim victory but admitted fears about left-wing antisemitism could damage their campaign.

Depressing stuff, no, not least of all because the narrative goes that only Jews give a toss about anti-semitism at voting time. Is Barnet the only borough where race hate is punished by voters? Can it be that everywhere Labour won is a haven for anti-Semites?

Barnet’s Labour group leader Barry Rawlings tells us:

“…to be honest most of the conversations have been about potholes rather than antisemitism. That said, we want people to know it is an issue we take very seriously in the Labour Party.”

No. You don’t. Anti-semitism is not something Labour takes seriously. Of course, if the Guardian and Indy are correct, only lots more Jews in lots more wards would force Labour to censure Jew baiting and Jew hatred in its ranks. But thinking that way is to fall into the trap of Jews losing Barnet for Labour.

Council leader Richard Cornelius, a Conservative councillor, also said voters were generally more concerned about “local issues” rather than accusations of antisemitism within Labour.

“It’s things like potholes, the collection of their rubbish bins and keeping the council tax low,” he said.

Most people didn’t bother to vote at all. Voter turnout in Barnet 43.7% – an increase from 41.1% four years ago. Sod the Jews – it’s apathy that prevented a bigger Tory win.

 

2011 – census

 

And how many Jews are there in Barnet? The census tells us:

Garden Suburb in Barnet was the most populous Jewish ward in 2001, even though it has grown since, it has been overtaken by Golders Green, which has increased by a third in a decade.

JPR [ Jewish Policy Research] now puts the number of Jews in Golders Green at 7,661 – which is considerably higher than the 6,795 people in the ward who identified themselves as Jews by answering the religion question in the census.

Not all that many, then. Although many don’t want their thoughts and aspirations to be calculated and sieved through race:

JPR has adjusted the total by adding the estimated number of Jews from among people in the ward who did not answer the religion question. In fact, JPR demographer David Graham has found that in wards with large Jewish populations, the number of residents overall who omitted the religion question was 9.3 per cent — more than the 7.2 per cent who left it blank across the country as a whole.

 

Total Barnet population*, 2001–2016

Total Barnet population, 2001–2016 – Via

 

What about non-Jews?

According to the 2011 census, by religion, Christianity is the largest faith in Barnet accounting for 41.2% of the total population. The next most common religions are Judaism (15.2%) and Islam (10.3%).

Drop those flaming torches and stand down the hunt, Corbynists. It wasn’t the Jews wot wunnit for the Tories in Barnet. It’s doubtless comforting for Corbyn and his supporters with their adherence to the reductive and patronising power of identity politics to view Jewish voters as a ‘community’ best managed through lunch with a ‘community leader’, but people are individuals. Labour lost and the Tories won for as many reasons as there are voters.

 

Posted: 4th, May 2018 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment


Transfers: Arsenal, Soyuncu and the truth about Turkish football

Arsenal have seen off a bid from Bayern Munich to sign 21-year-old Turkish defender Caglar Soyuncu, says the BBC. Not that it requires much thought for a hungry defender to pick the Gunners – any defender with even a modicum of pace, power, poise and positional awareness will walk into the current Arsenal team.

But the Beeb is wrong. Soyuncu hasn’t signed. He remains on the books of Bundesliga club Freiburg. News of his arrival at Arsenal is fanned by Altinordu president Seyit Mehmet Ozkan.

Who?

Well, Soyuncu used to play at Turkish club Altinordu. “Caglar Soyuncu is set to join Arsenal,” Ozkan is reported to have told the “International Football Economic Forum”.

The what?

“Arsenal demanded his youth information from us,” says Ozkan. “We’ll earn from him, if he joins Arsenal. Bayern Munich wants him too, but he’s on the way to the Premier League.”

 

 

 Turkish defender Caglar Soyuncu

 

Back to the International Football Economic Forum, something introduced to readers by the Standard, which is the source for the Beeb’s ‘fake’ news on Soyuncu signing for Arsenal. Not much information on this body appears on the web.

But a bit of digging reveals that it was held at the Grand Tarabya Hotel, Istanbul. Sabah newspaper, which hosted the event, lists the international names on the rostrum:

Youth Sports Minister Osman Aşkın Bak, TFF President Yıldırım Demirören , TFF 1st Vice President and Member of UEFA Board of Directors Servet Yardımcı, G.Saray President Mustafa Cengiz , Beşiktaş President Fikret Forest , Başakşehir President Göksel Gümüşdağ,  Altınordu President Mehmet Ozkan, former director of Manchester United and Chelsea Peter Kenyon, star players Gomis, Adebayor, Babel, Rodallega, SABAH Sports Manager Murat Özbostan, Fotomaç Newspaper Editor-in-Chief Zeki Uzundurukan, İnteltek AŞ. General Manager Ahmet Sezer, Passolig General Manager Ceyhun Kazancı, Aktif Bank General Manager Assist. Ahmet Erdal Güncan, Director of Türk Telekom Services Özlem Kalkan Karabulut, G. Saray Commercial Operations Director Kerem Ertan, F. General Manager of Communication Services Hakan Demir, writer Levent Tuzemen, Bülent Timurlenk and Spanish journalist J. Castro Nogale.

The only non-Turks on the panels appear to be: 4 “star players”, Peter Kenyon and a Spanish journalist.

It’s aims:

The International Football Economy Forum… aims to increase knowledge and awareness by creating rational, visionary, creative, sustainable and qualified targets and to increase the brand value of Turkish football by creating public opinion…

Fikret Orman tells the lads:

“Taking a glance at the star players’ perceptions about Turkey; It seems to be a stop before going to the Middle East. If we increase the brand value of the Super League, we can transfer the appropriate players to more economic conditions…

“If we increase the traceability, as in the case of Cenk Tosun [now at Everton], soccer player sales will come at a high price, all of them related with traceability and if we can increase this, the revenue rights of broadcasting rights will increase too. The majority of the sponsors in the league are doing it to become a world brand ..

In light of this marketing drive, are Arsenal really looking to sign Soyuncu for a fee as high as £40m? Ozkan’s words to the Forum are sieved through the wonders of Google Translate:

Speaking at the International Football Economy Forum… Özkan stated that they will continue to trust and provide young players with “We have won Çağlar Söyüncü and Cengiz Ünder for Turkish and European football. I will go to Germany for Sunday and to follow Chelsea to England on Sunday, and I’m going to sell football to both of them.”

And on Arsenal:

Of Turkey in the world take place in the football market, emphasizing that it is linked to the universal Seyit Mehmet Ozkan, “beginning of last season we sold Freiburg Ages Söyünc is to be transferred to Arsenal.”

Well, maybe… Only to the trusty BBC is Soynucu to Arsenal a done deal. And look out for the BBC’s scoop that Roma’s Cengiz Ünder has joined Chelsea. He hasn’t.

Posted: 4th, May 2018 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, Key Posts, News, Sports | Comment


Students at Queen’s College, Oxford, are afraid of ‘contentious’ ideas

Brendan O’Neill is speaking at Queen’s College, Oxford next week, and the college’s student organisation has sent out this bizarre warning. If you can’t have “contentious” discussion at a university, where can you have it?

All members of the  college can attend the Addison Society – if you’re brave enough to experience the power of words:

 

addison society dinner

 

The College prospectus tells us:

The JCR also has an Equalities Committee with officers to represent disabled students, international students, women, LGBT and BME students: these officers are available to provide support and advice for any students who feel they need it.

Why doesn’t the Equalities Committee simply represent everyone?

As well as providing confidential help, the welfare team for the JCR organise lots of events throughout term to keep everyone entertained and to give people a break from work – events in the past have included weekly yoga, zumba, a petting zoo, cake decorating, welfare brunches and self-defence classes!

Message to Brendan: don’t forget to take along some icing sugar, your best downward dog and Trigger the bunny-wunny. Or maybe not – we’re getting mixed messages:

Some colleges have pet cats and tortoises – here at Queen’s, we much prefer our friendly Boar’s head mounted on the wall of the JCR.

Discuss.

Spotter: Spiked

Posted: 4th, May 2018 | In: News | Comment


Breast Cancer Screening – Why Should Jeremy Hunt Resign For Something Done Under Gordon Brown?

The National Health Service has never been very good at dealing with all this complicated computer technology stuff. The attempt, nuder Blair, to rewrite the computing system for the whole shebang spent billions – yes, really, billions of pounds – and ended up delivering nothing that anyone has ever used to produce anything of value. That was actually the world’s largest cock up ever. We also know why it happened. They tried to design the system, rather than just designing the rules about how systems should talk to each other.

That is, you don’t try to build a computer system for 65 million people, you only design interfaces so that different systems can communicate.

Now we’ve another dubber up in NHS computing. Something that should have been caught, this is just something that should not have happened:

Up to 270 women may have died as a result of an IT failure that meant hundreds of thousands approaching their 70th birthday were not invited to a National Health Service breast screening appointment.

It costs money to screen people for breast cancer. Therefore we only want to screen those either likely to have it or those we might be able to treat effectively if they do. Men do indeed get breast cancer sometimes but at a rate about 1% that of women. So, we don’t screen men and we do screen women. There’s absolutely nothing at all wrong with the idea that we don’t screen everyone for everything.

With breast cancer screening we go on to make another choice. This is a little more arguable, but just an extension of the same principle. Women up to 70 are offered screening every three years. Those over 70 are not. The argument being that even if a cancer is found in those over 70 then the costs of treating it won’t be worth it for the extra years of life gained. Yes, harsh, and arguable, but we don’t have an unlimited amount of money for anything and everything and so some limits do need to be imposed.

And then we get to the problem here:

Mr Hunt told the Commons the problem was caused by a “computer algorithm failure”, which led to some women not receiving their final breast screening when they were between the ages of 68 and 71. The problems happened between 2009 and the start of 2018.

The computer code which sent out the appointments for screening was wrong. It should have been sending letters, booking appointments, for women up to the age of 71 – it only sent them for women up to the age of 68. This is simply a bollix in the construction of the code. The programmers, the system designers, the managers who signed off on it, all were in the wrong. And that’s it really. Sure, mistakes happen in complex systems and this one did and shouldn’t have.

we’ve absolutely no information at all about who has died as a result of this. We think, perhaps, that some will have done. Using the same statistical models that we use to decide that screening should be done up to age 70 and not afterwards. But that’s it, we cannot say that Mr’s Smith died because she wasn’t screened, we just don’t know and never will at that level of detail.

Then we’ve got the usual interjection of politics:

The Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb, a former health minister, said it was essential the review investigated the use of algorithms in healthcare, saying they should be “closely monitored to ensure that we can fully trust the technology to operate in the interests of patients”.

Sigh. This isn’t an algorithm, this is a programming error. Lamb is just hitching this to all those fashionable concerns about what Facebook and Google are up to.

There are also, inevitably, calls for Jeremy Hunt to resign. Which is pretty odd, for why should a Tory Minister resign in 2018 for something which was done under a Labour Government, when Gordon Brown was PM, back in 2008/09?

Posted: 3rd, May 2018 | In: News | Comment


Florida newspaper advertises guns under Parkland massacre story

To Fort Lauderdale, where Florida’s Sun Sentinel daily newspaper thought it ok to publish an advert for a gun show righty below a front-page story on he massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and a second story on a gunman who murdered five people at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood airport.

 

parkland guns ad sun sentinel

 

The Sun Sentinel has apologised. The Miami New Times has more:

“It’s a mess. It’s horrible,” says Julie Anderson, the Sun Sentinel’s editor in chief. “We’re taking every step possible to make sure our editorial staff always see ads before publication so something like this doesn’t slip through.”

In her statement, publisher Nancy Meyer said, “We deeply regret placement of a gun advertisement on our front page Wednesday morning. It has been against our policy to run gun and other types of controversial advertising on our front page.”

 

 

So who was checking? Does anyone read the paper at the paper? Can we blame outsourcing, at least partially?

Posted: 3rd, May 2018 | In: News | Comment


Government championing free speech at Universities is beyond irony

Sam Gyimah, the universities minister, presents himself as a champion of free speech. He says prudes, activists’ and censors attempting to silence voices not like their own are “chilling” in a democracy. Those “safe spaces” on British campuses are for fools. “No platforming” is for losers. (No platforming was adopted by the National Union of Students in 1974.) Banning things from campus, like the Sun newspaper, the Christian Union and Nietzsche, is for prigs.

 

free speech boston

 

Mr Gyimah says:

“A society in which people feel they have a legitimate right to stop someone expressing their views on campus simply because they are unfashionable or unpopular is rather chilling. There is a risk that overzealous interpretation of a dizzying variety of rules is acting as a brake on legal free speech on campus. That is why I am bringing together leaders from across the higher education sector to clarify the rules and regulations around speakers and events to prevent bureaucrats or wreckers on campus from exploiting gaps for their own ends.”

Writing in the Times, he adds:

The current landscape around free speech on campus is murky at best with a dizzying array of disjointed guidelines for universities, student unions and associations to follow. When there are so many different interpretations of the rules, there is the risk that legal free speech will be stifled, either by well-intentioned but jittery managers, or by ill-intentioned wreckers.

The office for students, which came into force on 1st April, will play a key role in this area and can use its powers to name, shame or even fine institutions for not upholding the principle of free speech. But for them to be effective, we need all our institutions to work together to make sure free speech is upheld.

But safe spaces and trammels on free speech do not grow in a vacuum. The Government has banned people from entering the UK and speaking at universities. In 2017, Julien Blanc, aka ‘the pick-up artist’ was banned from entering Britain on the reasoning that he promotes sexual assault. Just as we are to suppose that sane and intelligent students – adults – hearing a different view will turn into gibbering wrecks or else jihadis, one word from Blanc and a bloke will ignore the law, the love and respect for his mother, values strong and vibrant women in his life have instilled in him, and commit a heinous crime.

The troubling thing is that Government, politicians of all stripes and students are on the same page; they are all in favour of censorship. Both view their fellow humans as suggestible and vulnerable, mentally-negligible weaklings in need of protection from things (see the bans on advertising gambling, ciggies and sugar) and individuals holding dangerous ideas. A strident view can be cast out as ‘hate speech’. To the censors it’s morally brave to protect lesser minds from other ideas, which are, of course, wrong. Intolerance must be tolerated, say these saviours, lest correct and virtuous ideas be undermined.

The result of all this banning and censorship on society – both official and creeping self-censorship – is malign. It’s either free speech or it isn’t. No buts.

 

Posted: 3rd, May 2018 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Subbuteo and the FA still still women’s football as a marketing gimmick

subbuteo-women game

 

In readiness for the 2018 Women’s FA Cup final between Chelsea and Arsenal, Subbuteo have produced a limited edition first all-female set. Marzena Bogdanowicz, the FA’s head of marketing and commercial for women’s football, tells us:

This new, all-female Subbuteo set is a reflection of the rapid growth that women’s football is seeing in the UK right now.

It is? Does anyone still play Subbuteo?

We aspire to greater equality all the way from board games to boardrooms, and every day we are striving to transform the future of the women’s game on and off the pitch.

 

The very first #Subbuteo advert ever seen in #Shoot! 1969-08-16

Subbuteo advert – Shoot! magazine – 1969

 

James Walker, of Hasbro, which make the table-top football game, adds:

We are incredibly excited to work with the FA to place focus on female footballers in this special edition of Subbuteo. Subbuteo has a rich heritage that reflects the nation’s love of football and this all-female playset is recognition of the vital role that women’s football has in our culture.

This is a little undermined by the fact that the set is not being offered for sale. You can only get it via competitions on the FA’s social media channels. The feeling is that Hasbro and the FA see women’s football not as a viable sport, rather as an opportunity to blow their own horns about equality, and that ‘women’s football’ is something apart from ‘football’.

Posted: 3rd, May 2018 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, News, Sports, The Consumer | Comment


Manchester United should wish Fellaini a bon voyage to China

The two words Manchester United should tell Belgium midfielder Marouane Fellaini, 30, as he haggles over a new deal are “zài jiàn”. The Sun says Fellaini has “warned” United that unless they offer him huge money he will consider moving to China.

It comes to something when an average Premier League footballer – albeit one who makes full use of his height and reach; but lacks pace, technique and poise – is firing shots across the bows of one of the world’s biggest clubs. The question is not what United should do to please Fellaini but how he ever played for United in the first place?

The Sun says it would cost £50m to “replace” Fellaini. Which invites another question: why would you want to?

It’s also utter tosh. Fellaini joined a desperate United from Everton in 2013 for £27.5m. Since then, United have splashed out on the following talents:

Juan Mata (Chelsea) £37,100,000 – 25 Jan, 2014
Ander Herrera (Ath Bilbao) £29,000,000 – 26 Jun, 2014
Luke Shaw (Southampton) £27,000,000 – 27 Jun, 2014
Andreas Pereira (PSV Eindhoven) – 01 Aug, 2014
Marcos Rojo (Sporting) – £16,000,000 20 Aug, 2014
Angel Di Maria (Real Madrid) – £59,700,000 26 Aug, 2014
Daley Blind (Ajax) – £13,800,000 01 Sep, 2014
Victor Valdes (Barcelona) – Free 08 Jan, 2015
Memphis Depay (PSV Eindhoven) – £25,000,000 11 Jun, 2015
Matteo Darmian (Torino) £1 -2,700,000 11 Jul, 2015
Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich) – £14,400,000 13 Jul, 2015
Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton) – £25,000,000 13 Jul, 2015
Sergio Romero (Sampdoria) – Free 27 Jul, 2015
Anthony Martial (Monaco) – £36,000,000 01 Sep, 2015
Regan Poole (Newport Co) – £100,000 01 Sep, 2015
Eric Bailly (Villarreal) -£30,000,000 08 Jun, 2016
Zlatan Ibrahimovic Paris St-G. Free 01 Jul, 2016
Henrikh Mkhitaryan (B Dortmund) -£26,000,000 06 Jul, 2016
Paul Pogba Juventus (£89,300,000) – 08 Aug, 2016
Victor Lindelof Benfica (£31,000,000) – 14 Jun, 2017
Romelu Lukaku (Everton) – £75,000,000 10 Jul, 2017
Nemanja Matic (Chelsea) – £40,000,000 31 Jul, 2017
Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal) – Player plus cash – 22 Jan, 2018

And in that same period: Manchester City bought Kevin De Bruyne for £55m in 2015; Liverpool bought Mo Salah for £39m in 2017; and Spurs bought Del Elli for £5m in 2015.

But for £50,m you can get another Fellaini. If you’re not careful you can, yes.

Here’s Fellaini:

“I went to see the manager last year, and said I wanted a new contract. I then had a second meeting, but I’m not going to ask ten times. Since then I have become important for the team – and it costs £50m minimum to buy a good new player.”

No. It doesn’t. As Jose Mourinho put it on May 1:

“My Player of the Year has to be Scott McTominay.”

He cost United nothing in transfer fees. He’s 21. He’s dynamic. He’s hungry. And never once has he sounded as if he was doing the club a favour.

Best of luck in China, Marouane. Close the door on the way out…

Posted: 3rd, May 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


Staffordshire ‘pigs’ tell butcher to remove smutty signs

Butcher Pete Lymer no longer sells ‘big breasted birds’, ‘big cocks’ and ‘horny sausages’ at J W Ash & Son, in Ball Haye Street, Leek. “We’ve put the signs out for years and it’s always been a bit of a laugh,” he tells his local paper. “Just after Christmas apparently somebody complained to the police, saying it was offensive.”

Horny sausages? What’s in them – bone and rhino?

But here’s the thing: no shopper complained to the police about the smutty language on the butcher’s signs, the kind of puns former Great British Bake Off presenters Mel and Sue have built a BBC career on.

“Last month a lady from the police came in and asked if we could pull our sign in,” adds Mr Lymer. “And a bobby came in last Thursday. They’re just doing their job so I’m not annoyed with the individuals.”

What is the job of the police? When did Saudi Arabia open an office of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice in England? Because Staffordshire Police have gone on the record to say it all them. “We’ve received no complaints about signage outside J W Ash and Son butchers in Leek,” says a police spokesman. “However, the local Chief Inspector for the Moorlands did advise the owner to give careful consideration to what was written on the boards in case anyone took offence. No other action has been taken.”

Pigs! No, not the unformed men and women going about the place preventing non-crimes and thought crimes before they’ve happened. Not the police’s top brass cleaning the streets of things that don’t comply with their narrow world view. Actual pigs diced and slid onto skewers – you know, ‘meaty pork swords’.

Posted: 3rd, May 2018 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Mahmoud Abbas: Jews to blame for Holocaust

The anti-semitism accepted as normal in the upper echelons of Arab politics is echoed in the anti-Semitism rife in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party. So when Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas told a meeting of the Palestinian National Council in Ramallah that the history of European Jewry was written by “Jewish Zionist authors”, we cock an ear to find out what the Labour leader and some of his more avid supporters might next retweet. Abbas then turned his mind to the Holocaust.

“But why did this used to happen?” he asked. “They say, ‘It is because we are Jews.’ I will bring you three Jews, with three books who say that enmity towards Jews was not because of their religious identity but because of their social function. This is a different issue. So the Jewish question that was widespread throughout Europe was not against their religion but against their social function which relates to usury [money-lending] and banking and such.”  So that’s why the Germans and their allies murdered my family of farmers and bookbinders. Oh, he also said of Ashkenazi Jews – Jews from Germany and north-eastern Europe: “They have no relation to Semitic people.”

Having said that Jews deserved the Holocaust because they are rich, mean, cheating [insert antisemitic tropes here], the the man BBC has called a “moderate” rides high on the news cycle.

Abbas has form. In January the self-styled historian opined: “The Jews did not want to emigrate even with murder and slaughter. Even during the Holocaust, they did not emigrate.” True enough. The cattle trucks never did stop at Jerusalem on their way to death camps. The ghettos never were on the bus route to The Promised Land.

Jonathan Freedland notes:

At a push, you could imagine someone justifying such a view by noting that tension between Jews and their neighbours in Europe was fuelled for centuries by antisemitic laws that banned Jews from owning land, excluded them from key professions and forced them to engage in financial activity religiously forbidden as “usury” to Christians. But Abbas didn’t say any of that.

Mehdi Hasan gets it:

And:

In 1982, he published his doctoral dissertation that claimed the death toll of the Holocaust was exaggerated and alleged that Zionist leaders worked with the Nazis. The dissertation formed the basis for a 1984 book titled, The Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism.

Writing in the Times, Ben McIntyre looks at that idea in light of Ken Livingstone’s claim Hitler supported Zionism until he “went mad” and suddenly decided to murder millions of them:

The suggestion that Hitler backed the idea of a Jewish homeland underpins an association between Nazism and Zionism that is fundamentally antisemitic…

…it was a way of expelling Jews. Before settling on the Final Solution, the Nazis attempted various methods of solving the “Jewish problem”, including forced relocation, eviction, “encouraged” emigration and confiscation of possessions. In 1940, the Madagascar Plan envisaged relocating the Jewish population of Europe to the French colony…

Far from nursing any positive feelings towards a Jewish homeland, let alone supporting Zionism, he [Hitler] had made his loathing apparent back in 1925 in Mein Kampf, inveighing against the Jewish “spiritual pestilence”.

Here’s Abbas building bridges and pushing for peace:

 

Posted: 2nd, May 2018 | In: News, Politicians | Comment


John Kelly: Trump’s an idiot (and Moon Jae-in agrees)

All that guff about Donald Trump single-handedly bringing peace to the Koreas via the power of tweeting is cut through by Chief of Staff John Kelly who has, reportedly, referred to his boss as an “idiot”.

The news that North Korea and South Korea are moving towards peace and unification is joyous. But while the selfless Moon Jae-in, the South Korean president, gets on with the hard work, not least of all appealing to a wary electorate at home, Tump thunders: “KOREAN WAR TO END! The United States, and all of its GREAT people, should be very proud of what is now taking place in Korea!”

Moon understands who he’s dealing with, which is why he thinks Trump should get the Nobel Peace Prize: something shiny, lucrative and prestigious is what Trump really craves. Peace in Korea is nice, but you can’t hang it about your throat.

And maybe Kelly knows Trump, too. The NBC News checks eight present or former White House staffers as sources for its scoop. You might laugh. Don’t. Last week, Michelle Wolf’s monologue “called bullshit on the role laughter has been performing in Trump’s America”. ‘

Here’s an excerpt (via):

The officials said Kelly portrays himself to Trump administration aides as the lone bulwark against catastrophe, curbing the erratic urges of a president who has a questionable grasp on policy issues and the functions of government. He has referred to Trump as “an idiot” multiple times to underscore his point, according to four officials who say they’ve witnessed the comments.

Three White House spokespeople said they don’t believe it’s accurate that Kelly called the president an “idiot,” adding that none of them has ever heard him do that or otherwise use that word.

Officials said Kelly’s public image as a retired four-star general instilling discipline on a chaotic White House and an impulsive president belies what they describe as the undisciplined and indiscreet approach he’s employed as chief of staff. The private manner aides describe may shed new light on why Kelly now finds himself — just nine months into the job — grappling with diminished influence and a drumbeat of questions about how long he’ll remain at the White House.

Not long.

Posted: 1st, May 2018 | In: News, Politicians | Comment


Age of Abstinence: Tesco makes bottles smaller to charge more for your wine

It’s not exactly a surprise that food portions are getting smaller. Public Health England is insisting that we should all be eating less, drinking less. We should all be having less fat, less sugar, less alcohol. So, what is a supermarket or food producer to do? Some things just cannot be made with less salt – it’s essential to make bread rise for example. And there’s really not that much point in an energy drink like Lucozade if it doesn’t contain any sugar. Nor, obviously, booze if it doesn’t contain any booze.

So, what to do? Why, just make the package size smaller of course! Which is exactly what Tesco is doing with it’s own brand wines:

One of Britain’s biggest supermarkets has announced shock plans to make wine bottles smaller.

A new 50cl bottle contains the equivalent of four or five glasses of wine while a 37.5cl one – half the size of a standard sized bottle – holds three or four.

It means shoppers will be able to crack open their favourite tipple without being tempted to drink a full sized bottle.

Well, OK, those for whom own brand Tesco wine is a favourite tipple – rather than an any port in a storm sup – have their own problems. And the idea that a half bottle holds four glasses is true only of those who serve in sherry glasses. Actually, I’ve found that full bottles of sherry can hold only six glasses but there may be an influence of journalists and booze occurring there.

It is however The Sun which manages to get things entirely wrong here. For it’s not just smaller portions leading to less consumption going on. There’s also the manner in which things become more expensive:

The 50cl bottles are cheaper – the Rioja Reserva is £6.25 and 75cl is £8.50. But it remains to be seen whether shoppers will be tempted by the slimmer containers.

Well, no, the smaller bottles are more expensive. The full bottle size is 1.5 times the 50 cl one. 1.5 times £6.25, some quick mental maths, umm, £9.3750 for the same amount of booze we can get in the 75 cl bottle for £8.50. That’s more expensive, right? 87.5 pence more expensive in fact, and to pull out the calculator, that’s 10.3% more expensive.

Which is why we’re not hearing all that many complaints from the supermarkets about the insistences of PHE. For PHE have indeed said that their demands that we all have access to less sugar, less fat, less booze, can be met by portions becoming smaller. Without the correct reductions in price to take account of how we’re getting less. The supermarkets love this, they get to sell us less food at not a correctly less price, that means profit! And everyone else has to do the same because it’s the public health wallahs insisting upon it.

The worst part about this rip off is that we’re paying for it through our taxes. Yup, you pay taxes, I do, to pay for Public Health England, who then demand that the supermarkets make our booze and sweeties more expensive. Be easier and simpler, surely, to bypass the bureaucracy and w all just eat and drink what we want, no?

Posted: 1st, May 2018 | In: News, The Consumer | Comment