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News | Anorak - Part 30

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Free expression attacked as protestors invade London University Libertarian event

Students at King College, London, never got to hear American-Israeli writer Yaron Brook, chairman of the Ayn Rand Institute, and YouTuber Carl Benjamin address the school’s Libertarian Society at the Edmond J. Safra lecture theatre. Their talk was disrupted by people dressed in black masks who consider the speakers to be “‘white supremacists” and “fascists”.

The audience rowed with the anti-free activists. Apparently punches were thrown. Students say windows were smashed and smoke bombs let off. A “safe space marshal” (cost per hour: £12*) was injured. And then the whole building was cleared.

 

 

The great irony is that the assault on free expression was reportedly arranged by the authoritarian Antifa – a self-declared anti-fascist group.

This shutting down of debate is  sickness. These censors’ pursuit of a monocular world view is wholly reductive and palpably ignorant of what happens when individuals are intimated and become less free to speak their minds and test their own ideas, however ‘controversial’, in the arena of public discourse.

The Libertarian Soiety has made the following statement:

Last night an event organised by the KCL Libertarian Society invited controversial speakers Carl Benjamin and Yaron Brook. The event had to be cancelled after some people forced their way into Kings College London. The Police attended and we are fully co-operating with their investigation. KCLSU condemns the use of violence in any situation.

Universities create environments in which debate from all sides on issues of political, scientific, moral, ethical and religious significance is possible, and King’s is no exception. Our role is to ensure that all parties feel safe and secure in expressing their views without fear of violence of intimidation. We take our responsibilities to provide a safe environment for free, peaceful and respectful dialogue very seriously. KCLSU and King’s will be reviewing the incident to decide on appropriate action to be taken.

Responding to the incident, Momin Saqib, President of KCLSU said, “I am appalled by the acts that were perpetrated in King’s College London yesterday evening. I strongly respect and encourage the right to freedom of speech, the right to challenge each other and the right to peaceful protest. It is unfortunate that the event was marred by violence by people who took an extreme and an unacceptable approach. My heart goes out to the guards who got physically and mentally hurt and I wish them a speedy recovery.

Universities are places to facilitate intellectually stimulating discussions, environments for constructive debates, places where ideas get tested, which are all done in a bid for the advancement of human knowledge and the betterment of our society. However, any actions which contravene peaceful protest will not be accepted.

Hatred: whether it is based on – race, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity, trans status, socio-economic status, or ideology or culture is totally unacceptable and I strongly condemn it and I will always QUESTION it.

Everyone has the right to protest peacefully but any forms of aggression and violence are completely unacceptable.”

Amid the argy-bargy, someone managed to film a segment:

 

 

Anyhow. If you fancy policing free speech at King’s apply below.

 

 

Safe Space MArshall King's College

Via – ‘a Safe Space breech” [sic]

 

Work as an Antifa free speech patroller is believed to be unpaid.

 

Posted: 14th, March 2018 | In: News | Comment


Poor and white Telford girls are the wrong kind of victims

From Rochdale and Rotherham and Oxford, we’re now reading grim news of horrendous sexual abuse in Telford, Shropshire. The Mirror reports on the claims that over 1,000 girls, some as young as 11, were raped – three were murdered – by gangs of predominately Muslim, Asian-heritage men over four decades. Huge news, then. Or not.

 

Sunday Mirror TElford

Sunday Mirror – Telford

 

One day on from the story only the Daily Mail led with it.  No other paper thought it worth a front page, including the Guardian, which champions the #MeToo movement, and The Times, which went big with the story of how Damien Green MP allegedly touched Tory activist Kate Maltby’s knee and attempted to seduce her. Why is that the suffering of 1,000 beaten and raped young women and girls from an unfashionable part of the world is ignored but so much space is afforded to better off, better educated and better looking victims?

The world knows what actress Rose McGowan says she experienced at the hands of movie mogul and “monster” Harvey Weinstein, but we don’t know what happened to Charlene Downes, the poor, white girl who vanished in Blackpool, Lancashire. Maybe if she’d been seen in the company of a famous face, we would have?

 

Joanne Williams notes on the #KneeToo movement:

The lack of comment on the Telford abuse scandal exposes the hypocrisy at the heart of the #MeToo movement. High-profile campaigners announce time and again that they are not driven by self-interest, but from a desire to help women less fortunate than themselves. Jane Merrick told all because, ‘I knew that by failing to act I was letting down not only my 29-year-old self, but also any other women who may have been subjected to the same behaviour since. More importantly, I would be failing to protect other women in future.’ Kate Maltby made a similar declaration: ‘It is true that I have many privileges that other women do not. That is why I owed it to others to come forward. When we see white, financially secure women saying #MeToo, we should ask: where are the voices that we are not hearing?’ Yet Merrick and Maltby, for all their self-sacrifice and sisterly compassion, have so far had nothing to say about the rape of teenage girls in Telford.

Time’s Up, the celebrity #MeToo spin-off, launched a fundraiser to pay legal fees for victims of sexual harassment and assault seeking justice. The aim, it said, was to ‘lift up the voices, power and strength of women working in low-wage industries where the lack of financial stability makes them vulnerable to high rates of gender-based violence and exploitation’. More than $16.7million was raised in less than a month. The British actress Emma Watson, one of the most generous and high-profile donors, posted on social media: ‘The clock’s been ticking on the abuse of power. I stand in solidarity with women across every industry to say #TIMESUP on abuse, harassment, and assault. #TIMESUP on oppression and marginalisation.’ Only, it seems, some women are more deserving of solidarity than others; some women’s voices are more worthy of being lifted up.

Too true. The story has yet to catch. The Sun cover it lightly on page 27; and the Express on page 11. The Mail uses the horror to give the BBC a kick, citing MPS “from across the political divide” who accused the BBC of “failing to cover the Telford scandal adequately”. What is adequate for what one victim calls a “whirlwind of rape” meted out to her between the age of 14 and 18? The Mail has the story on page 22, after first covering news of a new Harry and Meghan TV movie and Ken Small’s painting, which looks a lot like a Canaletto, but isn’t. Even the Mirror has it on page 5.

 

It’s not all about #MeToo. It’s also about them.

Posted: 14th, March 2018 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Salma Hayek dresses like a Daily Mail reader

The hard working Daily Mail Reporter was helping readers sat in their Comfi-Gowns and support stockings identify the “Worst dressed women” at the Oscars.

Eyes are drawn to Salma Hayek, who came as a “Shiny disaster”. Her “dress was baffling to behold… serving as more of an eye sore than a style statement”. What a horror show.

 

Salma Hayek daily mail horror

 

And you too can get the look because just one line down, the same readers are told: “Shimmer in sequins like Salma wearing a Gucci gown… Whoever said sequins can’t be worn all over on a maxi gown must’ve not seen how good Salma Hayek rocked this one at the 2018 Oscars.”

Who said it? The Daily Mail did a moment earlier.

 

Salma Hayek daily mail horror

 

Baffling stuff.

Price on application.

Posted: 14th, March 2018 | In: Celebrities, Fashion, News | Comment


National Geographic comes clean over its smutty, racist past

It’s now the turn of the dentist’s waiting room to revisit its past with candour. Finally, the old magazines are being cast out. National Geographic has issued a mea culpa over its past. The magazine has hired University of Virginia associate professor John Edward Mason to trawl the archives and expose any and all evidence of racism he can find. Items like a 1916 photo of Australian Aborigines with the caption “South Australian Blackfellows” – “savages” who “rank lowest in intelligence of all human beings”.

Mason notes that until the 1970s non-white Americans were only portrayed as manual workers or domestic staff.

And there was the sex.

“Teenage boys could always rely, in the ’50s and ’60s, on National Geographic to show them bare-breasted women as long as the women had brown or black skin,” Mason tells NPR. “I think the editors understood this was frankly a selling point to its male readers. Some of the bare-breasted young women are shot in a way that almost resembles glamour shots.”

“Through most of its history, National Geographic, in words and images, reproduced a racial hierarchy with brown and black people at the bottom, and white people at the top,” says Mason..

 

 

The magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Susan Goldberg explains why the audit was needed:

I’m the tenth editor of National Geographic since its founding in 1888. I’m the first woman and the first Jewish person—a member of two groups that also once faced discrimination here. It hurts to share the appalling stories from the magazine’s past. But when we decided to devote our April magazine to the topic of race, we thought we should examine our own history before turning our reportorial gaze to others.

Race is not a biological construct, as writer Elizabeth Kolbert explains in this issue, but a social one that can have devastating effects. “So many of the horrors of the past few centuries can be traced to the idea that one race is inferior to another,” she writes. “Racial distinctions continue to shape our politics, our neighborhoods, and our sense of self.”

Times change. Much of the magazine’s photography has been incredibly good. The acid test is in whether or not people are still willing to pay for it…

Posted: 14th, March 2018 | In: News | Comment


Stormy Daniels will reveal all about her candlelit romance with Trump if he returns $130,000 hush money

You know how it goes: you shag the billionaire and take his hush money. Then the billionaire becomes president of the US of And you realise you undervalued your services. And so it is that adult film star Stormy Daniels says she not longer wants the $130,000 she claims Donald Trump paid her to remain tight lipped about their affair. She thinks it best that she return the cash and place her story on the public record.

 

Stormy Daniels

Hush ‘n’ tell

 

Daniels, nee Stephanie Clifford, has laid out her plan in a letter to Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen. She has set a deadline of Friday for the return of the cash. She will then be at liberty to “speak openly and freely about her prior relationship with the president and the attempts to silence her and use and publish and text messages, photos and videos relating to the president that she may have in her possession, all without fear of retribution or legal liability.”

“This has never been about the money,” Clifford’s lawyer, Michael Avenatti, told NBC New. It’s the principle, right? “It has always been about Ms. Clifford being allowed to tell the truth. The American people should be permitted to judge for themselves who is shooting straight with them and who is misleading them. Our offer seeks to allow this to happen.”

 

Generous it is, indeed. And should Trump fall into a a trap marked ‘TRAP’ with huge arrow pointing at it, we can all marvel at how a man who outlined his mating ritual as “Grab her by the pussy” really treats women he fancies.

You can read Daniels’ letter in full here.

 

Posted: 13th, March 2018 | In: Celebrities, Money, News, Politicians | Comment


Former Liverpool star Jamie Carragher cops a suspension for Manchester United fan attack

Photos of Jamie Carragher, the former Liverpool defender, spitting at a teenage girl are all over the media. Given his tongue chewing, whale-voice way of speaking, we first thought the huge spray was Carra’s mouth wrestling with “Ryan Sessègnon scores screamer”. But then the story came that after Liverpool’s defeat to Manchester United, Carragher had been the target of banter as he drove home. Sat in traffic, a passing United fan wound down his window and reminded Carragher of the final score: “Unlucky Jamie lad – 2-1!” The driver was with his 14-year-old daughter. Carragher showed that he’d lost none of his old bile and gobbed at the girl sat in the passenger seat.

It’s all on camera.

 

jamie carragher spitting

 

What happens next is a sign that football punditry is not as far removed from the on-field action as first appears. Team Sky Sports have suspended Carragher. He calls it “a moment of madness” – “four or five seconds I can’t explain”, calling to mind the “It’s not the kind of thing he’d do” defence favoured by manager’s explaining ‘Chopper’s’ studs-up challenge on the opposition nimble midfielder.

Carragher adds:

“It’s devastating for the family involved and I’m sorry for my actions. I called the family, obviously they were upset last night. That is my biggest regret, that a 14-year-old girl was caught up in the middle of this.”

Not in the middle. More full in the face.

And just like in actual football, after the suspension, comes the expert punditry. So here’s former England and Manchester United defender Gary Neville to review the action. “I’ve just watched Jamie Carragher say sorry,” he said. “No excuses, he’s made a big mistake… I’ve been on TV for three years with him and, in my opinion, this isolated incident shouldn’t stop us working together.”

But where are you both going to work?

 

Posted: 12th, March 2018 | In: Liverpool, manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


Jamie Oliver’s Blitzkrieg on your pizzas

Oi, fatso. Make that, oi, fatso suspect – put that box of fried chicken down and step away. News is that Britain needs to go on a diet – and it’s not one of lard, dripping and sugar. Public Health England (PHE) chief executive Duncan Selbie tells us: “Children and adults routinely eat too many calories, and it’s why so many are overweight or obese.”

If you eat more than you need you get fatter. Who knew?

 

Jamie Oliver knows more about you than you do

 

But what does it have to do with him? Lots, apparently. PHE says all fast food should contain 20 per cent less calories. PHE says if we don’t do as it wants us to, it will ask the government to re-introduce rationing. It won’t happen? You sure about that? The tax on sugary drinks is introduced next month.

Dr Alison Tedstone, PHE chief nutritionist, adds: “The evidence is clear that just telling people what to do won’t work. To reverse what’s been decades in the making, we need sustained action across the factors driving poor diets and weight gain.”

 

The British Minister for Food between April 1940 and 11 November 1943, Lord Woolton, receiving a cup of tea from a mobile canteen.

The British Minister for Food between April 1940 and 11 November 1943, Lord Woolton, receiving a cup of tea from a mobile canteen.

 

It’s Woolton Pie for all, you know, the pastry dish of vegetables dished up to suffering Britons in the Second World War when rationing was a necessity for all but the rich and royal. Frederick Marquis, 1st Lord Woolton (1883–1964), gave full throat to his love of the low-everything dish after he became Minister of Food in 1940. Was it liked? The Times noted that Woolton went full Jamie Oliver:

When Woolton pie was being forced on somewhat reluctant tables, Lord Woolton performed a valuable service by submitting to the flashlight camera at public luncheons while eating, with every sign of enjoyment, the dish named after him

And right on cue is our Own Minister of Fat Jamie Oliver to tell The Times: “When you get trapped in the disadvantaged cycle, the concept of middle-class logic doesn’t work. What you see is parents who aren’t even thinking about five fruit and veg a day, they’re thinking about enough food for the day… We can’t judge our equivalent of logic on theirs because they’re in a different gear, almost in a different country.”

Poor of taste and poor of intellect. Let’s colonise these cultural pygmies now. These Untermensch need schooling with new laws and restrictions. Thankfully, the minted Oliver and his elite sponsors will invade zis other country and teach the Britishers vat ist best fur zem. Grab your vegetables and zet zer blender to Blitzkerig! It’s war.

 

Posted: 12th, March 2018 | In: News | Comment


25% of People in Wales Are in Poverty – Nonsense If We Count Properly

A new report out insisting that 25% of the Welsh are living in poverty. Our conclusion might therefore be that we’d not like to have Labour running the UK as they have been Wales these past few decades. But that would be partial, extreme and unfair. The truth being that we’re measuring what poverty is wrongly:

Growing numbers of Welsh families are at risk of being trapped in poverty, a major report warns today.

Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows Wales has a higher rate of poverty than England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

What poverty is depends upon how we measure poverty. For the world as a whole we use the World Bank’s measure, $1.90 a day. There is no one at all in the UK living at this standard, not one single person.

Within the UK we use something called “relative” poverty. This is less than 60% of median household income. If you live in a household which gets less than 60% of £25,000 or so a year then you’re in poverty. Sure, it’s not great riches but it sure ain’t the same as that global poverty. Also, note that this is after benefits, this is total income, not just that from work. But note one more thing – that’s the national median income.

And incomes vary over the country. More than that, the cost of living varies over the country. It’s not just housing either – a pint’s cheaper outside London, outside the SE, than it is within either of them. But we don’t account for that at all. And as anyone who has ever tried it knows, trying to live in London on £25,000 a year is very different from trying to live on that in Abergavenny is.

The reality is that many of those described as “poor” in Wales actually have a higher standard of living – well, except for being in Wales – than many of those in London on nominally higher incomes. Britain does have regional variations in wages but it also has large regional variations in costs. Once we account for those differences, both of those sets of differences, much of reported poverty simply disappears.

The biggest problem we’ve got with poverty in the UK is that we just don’t measure it the right way.

Posted: 9th, March 2018 | In: Money, News | Comment


Former Arsenal star sent off as life imitates Wotsits

Referee Dean Hulme asked former Arsenal player Sanchez Watt for his name. Watt, playing for Hemel Hempstead Town in a National League South game against East Thurrock United was going into the ref’s book.

“Watt,” said the 27-year-old. Hulme believed he was saying “what?” and sent him off for dissent. The card was soon rescinded.

“It was a human error,” Hemel Hempstead chairman Dave Boggins told BBC Sport. “The referee was man enough to rectify it. I think everybody found it amusing afterwards – including the referee. He came into the boardroom after the game and explained how he had made the mistake. He was very apologetic and saw the funny side of it. He was a good ref on the night to be fair to him.”

Watt a Wally:

 

Posted: 7th, March 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal shocker: 12% of Gooners want Wenger to stay

Don’t open those eyes yet, Arsenal fans: Arsene Wenger is still there. But the Arsenal Supporters Trust (AST) has done its bit to defenestrate the manager and prick a supine, greedy board and absentee owner into action. AST members voted overwhelmingly against the Frenchman remaining as manager beyond the end of this season.

A whopping 88% of fans responded to an AST survey saying that they do not support Wenger continuing in charge for another season – last year it was 78%, and Arsenal still gave him a new two-year deal.

As Arsenal FC go full ostrich, we can marvel that 12% of Gooners want Wenger to stay. The same 12% also consider that dream of being tied naked to Nelson’s Column and forced to watch Gary Linker discuss Spurs matches to be the best they’ve ever had. Masochists, eh, they’ve never suffered enough.

Meanwhile, the Times says Wenger spent the hours after Arsenal’s defeat to the mighty Brighton telling his coaching staff that he is “the best man to take Arsenal forward”. He will not break his contract. So Arsenal will have to sack him.

Over to the hapless Ivan Gazidis, then, the Arsenal chief executive. The AST will hand him the results of its survey at a fans’ forum ahead of the match against Watford on Sunday. The meeting promises to be more interesting than the match.

Posted: 6th, March 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment


Children failed by bigoted teachers and poor education

Does a teacher have the right to a life outside school? A Florida middle school teacher has been suspended from class for working nights as a white nationalist podcast host. The Huffington Post claims Dayanna Volitich, who teaches – get this – social studies at Crystal River Middle School, was also ‘Tiana Dalichov’, host of far-Right podcast show Unapologetic. The HuffPost alleges Volitich “suggests Muslims be eradicated from the earth and believes anti-Semitic conspiracy theories”. Part of the show reportedly features the following exchange on far-Right educators getting into schools:

GUEST: “They don’t have to be vocal about their views, but get in there! Be more covert and just start taking over those places.”

VOLITICH: “Right. I’m absolutely one of them.”

Its reminiscent of the Trojan Horse story in Britain. In 2014 Birmingham City Council was investigating a number of schools in the city after “receiving a copy of an anonymous letter referring to Operation Trojan Horse – a plot by some Muslim groups to install governors at schools. It claims responsibility for ousting four head teachers.”

Volitich’s school has issued a statement on Facebook:

On Friday, March 2, 2018 the Citrus County School District was made aware of a concerning podcast by a Huffington Post reporter. The reporter indicated they believed one of the persons participating in the podcast was a teacher at Crystal River Middle School. The Human Resources department was notified and an investigation was initiated immediately. The teacher has been removed from the classroom and the investigation is ongoing. Pursuant to Florida Statute an open investigation and materials related to it are exempt from public record and cannot be discussed until the investigation is complete.

If true, perhaps an anti-intellectualist like Volitich could find work as a home schooler?

David Allen Turpin and Louise Turpin home schooled their 13 children. Mr Turpin was registered in the state of California as the headmaster of Sandcastle Day School. In the school’s final year of business, the Turpins’ six school-age children were the only enrolled pupils. The Turpins are accused of abusing their children. Rachel Coleman, of the Coalition for Responsible Home Education, tells the Los Angeles Times: “Current law provides nothing to stop families like the Turpins from using home schooling to isolate and imprison their children.”

Why bother to get your weird, bigoted and agenda-driven views into an existing school when you can just set up your own?

You might ask what is the purpose of school? Is it to indoctrinate children with a monocular curriculum or to educate them through access to knowledge of the world and the dead?

In the UK, over 350 unregistered schools serving more than 33,000 children operate, according to Ofsted, the education regulator. “I have huge concerns about unregistered schools and the lack of regulation and inspection,” Robert Halfon, head of the Commons education committee, told The Times. “Any school of any kind shouldn’t be unregistered. There shouldn’t be room for grey areas. Even if they have less than five pupils and are open less than 18 hours they should be inspected and registered.”

The Times obtained five extremist books relating to Islam, including Dos and Do Nots of Islam and The Islam Way of Life. One was by Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, a Jamaican-born extremist Muslim preacher who has been banned from Britain. Concerns have also been raised about illegal Christian and Jewish schools.

The Times then lists “Lessons for children”, but is unclear about the source of what follows. Another article in the paper says “Take home schooling out of the shadows”. So much for the thousands of parents who surely teach home-schooled children to be curious, doubtful, challenged and well-rounded – around 1.8millions children in the US are home-schooled. We don’t see many examples of the good. But we do see the alleged “lessons”, which are not exactly enlightened and progressive:

“It is lawful to give slight punishment to the wife for her adverse behaviour but it is not permissible to beat her black and blue.”

“If a sweet thing is left uncovered, swarms of dirty creatures are liable to prey upon it and corrupt it. Similar is the case of a woman. The current wave of rape incidents in regions where public exposure of women prevails, strengthens this argument beyond doubt.”

“Celibacy is an unlawful criminal indulgence in sinful violations involving sex. Socially it is a disruptive and destructive act amounting to disobedience to Allah.”

“Homosexuality is not only an abomination but also unbecoming to human dignity.”

Neil Basu, deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, has gone on the record, claiming “segregated, isolated communities, unregulated education and home schooling are a breeding ground for extremists and future terrorists”. Time to make the British method more appealing then – less arbitrary in its authoritarianism that erodes freedoms hard won in the name of fighting the War on Terror and keeping us all ‘safe’.

Of course, if you’re rich, things can be different:

Emma Thompson and her husband, Greg Wise… withdrew Gaia, their 16-year-old daughter, from her private school in north London in the run-up to her GCSEs. “She loves learning and she’s terribly focused and hard-working,” Wise has explained, “but she didn’t like the sausage factory of formal education. I’ve no argument with that.” She is now taught by top tutors in a shed in their garden.

There’s more than one way to teach children. And if school is to be valuable and valued, we should be asking why adults can’t do more in the service of educating children, who should be equipped with the tools to judge a lesson or an opinion for themselves.

Posted: 6th, March 2018 | In: News | Comment


Bradley Wiggins didn’t cheat and he never asked to be a national treasure

What would we think of Team Sky and Sir Bradley Wiggins if they were Russian, if the Tour de France winner and gold medal Olympian was a recipient of the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle the First-Called and not a knighthood? Would we roll out eyes, sneer and demand they get thee hence?

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee says Sir Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky “crossed an ethical line” by using drugs allowed under anti-doping rules to enhance performance instead of just for medical need. Our judgemental MPs are, however, “not in a position” to know the content of a jiffy bag delivered to Wiggins at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine. Team Sky says the jiggy bag contained a legal decongestant. But in the world of big-money sport, wherein vast sums are invested in shaving milliseconds off times and to give your athlete a ‘competitive’ advantage – lighter, stronger bikes; better fabrics; the most energy efficient nutrients; and the drugs – the proof was lacking and the MPs says there is “no “reliable evidence” to back up Team Sky’s claim.

“Drugs were being used by Team Sky, within World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) rules, to enhance the performance of riders and not just to treat medical need,” the DCMS committee report adds. Team Sky “strongly refutes” the “serious claim that medication has been used by the team to enhance performance”. Wiggins has also responded. “I find it so sad that accusations can be made, where people can be accused of things they have never done, which are then regarded as facts. I strongly refute the claim that any drug was used without medical need.”

Oh, and there’s more:

The long-awaited report, entitled “Combatting Doping in Sport”, also states Lord Coe, the president of athletics’ world governing body the IAAF, gave “misleading answers” in evidence about his knowledge of doping allegations in Russian athletics, before they were made in a German television documentary in 2014.

The DCMS committee was also “shocked” that British four-time Olympic champion athlete Sir Mo Farah received an injection of the legal supplement L-carnitine before the 2014 London Marathon that was not recorded on Farah’s medical records.

It’s what we don’t know that nags and pervades UK sport with a stink.

What was in that jiffy bag?

Former British Cycling and Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman received a ‘mystery package’ for Wiggins on 12 June 2011 – the final day of the Criterium du Dauphine in France, an event Wiggins won.

At the request of Freeman, Sutton arranged for then British Cycling coach Simon Cope to bring the package – he claims left for him in a sealed ‘jiffy-bag’ – out to La Toussuire for the end of the race.

Both Cope and Sutton deny knowing what was in the package, although Sutton told the committee he believes Freeman did administer the substance in it to Wiggins after the race, adding that Freeman had told him: “Brad’s been sorted.”

Ukad started an investigation into the contents of the package in September 2016, following an allegation, also seen by the DCMS committee, that it contained triamcinolone,

As the DCMS report notes, if Wiggins was given triamcinolone on 12 June 2011 without a TUE, it would constitute an anti-doping rule violation. Get caught misbehaving and you’re in line for a possible two-year ban and the loss of results. Wiggins won the Tour. In 2012 he won Olympic gold. But so what? “If” is not proof.

But there are records, right? There’s data on everything a top athlete does. So there are records of what was in the bag? After all, this is big money we’re talking about, to say nothing of athletes’ reputations. Er, no. Team Sky can’t produce the medical records. Say the MPs: “Such failure was unprofessional and inexcusable, and that failure is responsible for the damaging cloud of doubt which continues to hang over this matter.”

That there’s any doubt is shameful. It’s not like Team Sky had no warning.

Twelve years before, two months before the start of the 1999 Tour de France, US Postal team director Johan Bruyneel asked one of the team’s soigneurs, Emma O’Reilly, to travel from the south of France to Piles in Spain to pick up a medical product and take it to France before handing it on to Lance ­Armstrong.

O’Reilly never knew what the pills were but was sure they were not paracetamol. She met Armstrong in the car park of a McDonald’s restaurant outside Nice and handed over the drugs.

Lance Armstrong turned out to be a monumental cheat.

Team Says responds: “We take full responsibility for mistakes that were made. We wrote to the committee in March 2017 setting out in detail the steps we took in subsequent years to put them right, including, for example, the strengthening of our medical record keeping.”

Pad. Pen. Computers, Mobiles. Crayon. Paper. Photo copiers. Tablets. Faxes. Cameras. Memory sticks. Had only – had only – Team Sky kept some more records. But you live and you learn, eh.

The BBC:

In a letter revealed by the BBC in January, Ukad claimed its investigation had been “hindered” and may have even been “potentially compromised” by British Cycling’s failure to report doping allegations sooner.

The body criticised the “lack of accurate medical records” held by British Cycling. Freeman kept Wiggins’ medical records on a laptop that was stolen while he was on holiday in Greece in 2014, and no back-up copy was made.

Dang! Those foreign swine! But as the Greek police get on the case – those bungling clots have found nothing – we learn that Freeman” submitted written evidence for the report but was too unwell to appear at a DCMS hearing, before resigning from British Cycling in October because of ill health”. Let’s hope his own doctor keeps proper records and backs them up.

 

Winner of Sports Personality of the Year 2012, Bradley Wiggins accepts his award onstage from The Duchess of Cambridge during the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards 2012 at ExCeL Arena, London.

 

The upshot is that Wiggins, a supremely talented athlete possessed of incredible drive to succeed, is mired. He didn’t cheat. He didn’t ask to be knighted and feted by the great and good, turned from athlete to national treasure and a force for moral right. There’s a big stripe of subjectivity running through the story of drugs and Team Sky. Sport is all about rules. You find the limits by pushing. We’ve yet to see any proof that Team Sky broke them. But we have seen how the State latches on to sporting success. And we should wonder why.

As for what was suspected, David Walsh gave his Sunday Times readers the side-eye in September 2016. Walsh has been an invaluable source of news on competitive road cycling and Team Sky. So when he writes, we listen:

With the benefit of hindsight, there is irony in Wiggins expressing fears about other teams using needles when he was interviewed before the 2011 Tour. The day before he had received a 40mg injection of the corticosteroid triamcinolone acetonide. Freeman had made the application and supported it with testimony from ENT (ear, nose and throat) consultant Simon Hargreaves. Wiggins did suffer from asthma and had received three TUEs in 2009 that allowed him to inhale salbutamol and two other drugs. Inhalation of these drugs is not performance-enhancing and they can now be used without a TUE. A 40mg injection of triamcinolone is very different and though some experts claim it is not performance-enhancing, the experts by experience (bike riders who have abused it for decades) argue the opposite.

Twelve months later, four days before the start of the 2012 Tour de France, Wiggins received the same injection, 40mg of triamcinolone. Again it was Freeman who applied for the TUE, and UCI’s Mario ­Zorzoli’s name on the approval slip. Ten months later, 12 days before the start of the 2013 Giro d’Italia, another application for triamcinolone was granted.

A year later Wiggins won the 2014 Tour of California as his road racing career began to wind down. That victory came during California’s “hay fever season” but now there was no longer a need for a TUE.

But let’s not just look at cycling. British sport is reeling:

And to UK Athletics, whose former chief medical officer Dr Rob Chakraverty – now the Football Association’s chief doctor for the senior men’s England football team – the MPs want investigated by the General Medical Council (GMC), after being “shocked” he gave an injection of L-carnitine to athlete Sir Mo Farah without recording the dose on medical records.

The upshot is that British sport is a professional industry. Athletes, clubs, coaches and owners seek advantage where they can. It might not be in the Corinthian spirit to take drugs, but we do so love a winner.

Posted: 5th, March 2018 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Kyron Horman: the missing child let down by hapless police and blinkered media

It’s been a while since we covered the story of Kyron Horman  (born September 9, 2002) who disappeared on June 4, 2010. The last confirmed sighting was when his step-mother dropped him off at Skyline Elementary School in Portland, Oregon. No sign of him has been seen since.

We covered the story in no small detail. But after our reporter in America, the lovely Cheryl Freeman, died in April 2015, we let it slip. But what did we miss? In a word: nothing. The case has gone cold.

In June 2017, Terri Horman, aka Terri Moulton, Kyron’s stepmother was found not guilty of grand theft of a firearm in August 2015. “Hopefully, this will allay some of her detractors now that she’s been found not guilty of this offence,” her attorney Adam Richards told PEOPLE.

Quite. But innocence is presumed, right?

Maybe.

When Kyron vanished, police and journalists’ eyes were trained on Terri Horman, who divorced Kyron’s father in 2013. Monstered in the media and watched by a monocular and hapless police force, Terri Moulton has never been charged with any crime linked to Kyron’s disappearance.

Not that her innocence makes her unique. No-one’s been charged. The case of Kyron Horman’s vanishing remains a single-thread story.

Terri has put her side of the story:

 

 

Kyron’s father, Kaine Horman told media last year: “The odds are that he’s still out there, somewhere, so we can’t stop what we are doing, we need to keep looking. It’s just a matter of sharing. It could take one share on a Facebook, someone recognizes that photo, see him in the community and this case is over.”

So what really happened?

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


Google and Facebook aren’t aiding sex trafficking – nonsense

We’ve another of those claims about sex trafficking which is simply complete nonsense. For, to any level of statistical accuracy, there is no sex trafficking in the UK. But people seem happy enough to accuse Google and Facebook of facilitating what doesn’t happen. The correct response to which is to tell these people to go boil their heads of course:

Internet giants were accused of profiting from sex trafficking in Britain last night as security chiefs warned of a new wave of “pop-up brothels” sweeping the country.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) last night accused firms such as Google and Facebook of “making profits” from the trafficking of vulner­able women, many of whom end up in temporary sex clubs and massage parlours that have sprung up around the country.

The agency’s “modern slavery tsar” said web companies have become the “key enabler for the sexual exploitation of trafficked victims in the UK” and demanded action.

This all boils down to that most unfashionable of things, the definition of words.

Sex trafficking does have a useful meaning. It’s lying, cheating, using force, to move women – it is usually women talked about because of the obvious realities of the sex trade – across borders and then force them into prostitution. This is of course appalling, it’s a continued series of rapes and anyone doing it should be severely punished.

We do indeed have laws against it and people looking for it to stop it too.

We’ve also the meaning which is being used here. There are, must as it will surprise some maiden aunts, those who are, given their other opportunities, quite happy to rent out their bodies for the sexual jollification of others. Some goodly number of these people live in poor countries and would much rather be in a rich one, getting much higher payments for their services and generally living a better life. There are even those who would not prostitute at home but would abroad – the Nobel Laureate Gary Becker explained this rather well in fact.

It’s even true that some of these foreigners come here to screw on fake papers, are smuggled in, lie about visas and so on. But this is very different from that first case.

It’s the difference between those illegally in prostitution, as in being forced into it, and those legally prostituting themselves but illegally in the country. Do remember that prostitution itself is legal in Britain.

Google and Facebook are being accused of facilitating people illegally here doing something legal, offering sex for money. Yet the language being used implies they’re aiding and abetting something very different, the repeated rape of sex slaves. These are not the same thing and we shouldn’t be calling them by the same name.

Which is exactly why the modern slavery tsar is using these same terms. Because we don’t actually have that proper form of sex slavery:

The UK’s biggest ever investigation of sex trafficking failed to find a single person who had forced anybody into prostitution in spite of hundreds of raids on sex workers in a six-month campaign by government departments, specialist agencies and every police force in the country.

The failure has been disclosed by a Guardian investigation which also suggests that the scale of and nature of sex trafficking into the UK has been exaggerated by politicians and media.

Everyone, including all the police forces in the country, went looking for sex trafficking for six months. And found absolutely no one who could be jugged for doing it. That’s about as good proof as we’re going to get that, to any reasonable statistical level, it doesn’t exist. But of course that answer doesn’t provide a budget for the modern slavery tsar which is why they use the different language.

Incentives do matter after all.

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


Super Seducer: the Playstation on Stream game where you grope women

 

How sad are you around women? If you aspire to James Bond levels of sadness – all that precise drinks ordering, flash cars and innuendo – then Super Seducer is the game for you.

With Super Seducer, gamers “learn state-of-the-art seduction secrets from the master himself, Richard La Ruina, in this incredibly valuable live action seduction simulator.”

La Ruina is the kind of character you first wonder if someone made up and second why anyone would  bother. With his tutelage you can say such things as, “If you’re not good at cooking you better be real good at sucking dick then” and “‘I like big boobs,’ and try and touch her boobs.”

A shadow of the one salient point La Ruina makes is in his line: “In the game that’s cool, in real life it’s totally illegal.” Quite. Fantasy is not reality. In our pornified world, it might well  be the motto.

Spotter: BB

Posted: 4th, March 2018 | In: News, Technology, The Consumer | Comment


The only stink worse than skunk is the UK’s cannabis policy

JeffSessionspapers

 

Cannabis is all but decriminalized. Walk down any high street in the UK and the sickly stench of skunk hangs in the air. It’s not legal, of course. But it should be, not least of all if it means that less potent forms of marijuana become more available. Skunk is brain rot for the unadventurous.

Researchers at GW Pharmaceuticals, which produces cannabis-based medicines, and King’s College London discovered that a whopping 94% of weed seized by police is a strain of high-potency skunk. Dr Marta Di Forti, one of the led researchers in the study, says: “This is actually worrying because if we do believe that there are types of cannabis that can be used more safely – because of the presence of cannabidiol – well, at least in this country, these are disappearing.”

This county’s remarkably leaden-headed attitude to drugs is narrowing supply towards the stronger, home-grown stuff that can be farmed in our colder climate. Why bother importing hash from north Africa when you can grow-your-own skunk in an indoor farm, with its guaranteed toxicity?

Anyone keen to try a bit of weed to stymie the pain of a medical condition is faced with the prospects of a life-changing criminal charge and a hit that leaves you goofed and mentally dull. If you fancy a toke and don’t want to break the law you can always invest in legal highs, like spice and other revolting man-made gunk fashioned from desiccated carrier bags.

Things are better overseas. In 1990 Donald Trump told us: “You have to legalise drugs to win the war.” In California you can buy weed legally. Colorado earns a fortune from drug taxes – just as out governments earns vast sums from other mind-altering substance, like tobacco and alcohol.

Not everyone is a convert. US Attorney General Jeff Sessions is against legalization. At a Senate drug hearing in 2016, he opined: “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.” Which begs the question: what do they smoke? And do they smoke it in General Jeff’s “Old Rebel” Session Papers? The people behind the Jeff Session’s papers write:

#JeffSesh is a campaign to tell Jeff Sessions:We’re not criminals, junkies or idiots. Regular Jeffs all over the country—good, responsible, patriotic Americans—have a sesh now and then… and it’s OK!

Lampooning the ridiculous ban on cannabis is a great idea. They won’t listen to reason. So let’s try satire. And you can drink to that.

Spotter: The World’s Best Ever

Posted: 4th, March 2018 | In: News, The Consumer | Comment


Provident Financial’s Nearly Bust, Not Overcharging On Those 5,000% Loans Then

One of the more difficult things to get people to do is make them understand the implications of their prejudices. One such is that all those Wonga-like companies offering high APR loans must be overcharging. APRs of 50%, 500%, 5,000 %, these must just be capitalist greed ripping off the poor, right?

The granddaddy of these firms probably being Provident Financial, starting out as a door to door operation well over a century ago rather than some internet upstart. But the logic and economics work the same way:

Provident Financial’s shareholders are hoping for better days ahead after the troubled doorstep lender unveiled a £331m cash call aimed at reviving the business after a torrid year.

But if the plutocrats are successfully ripping off the working man then why do they need to put more money in?

The update came alongside Provident’s much-anticipated annual results, which revealed a pre-tax profit drop of 67.3pc to £109.1m during a year that was the toughest in its 140-year history.

Well, yes, that’s a decent enough profit there. But on the capital that they’re employing it’s actually lower as a percentage than the average across British companies. They’re making less profit than normal industry, despite those sky high interest rates. Which does rather mean that those interest rates aren’t too high, doesn’t it?

The truth being that lending small amounts of money for short periods of time is a very expensive thing to do. Firstly, say you’re going to lend £100 to someone. Or £1,000? The decision making process will probably cost you about the same. So also the basic nuts and bolts of taking the application, sending the money out, setting up the repayment plan and so on. There are simply costs to doing this. Whatever, call this £10. Now note, that’s 1% of the larger sum, 10% of the smaller.

Then, of course, there’s the fact that not everyone repays all of their loan in full. whatever interest is charged has to cover that fact too. Finally, the way APR is calculated means that the arrangement fee, that £10, is counted as a fee that repeats and repeats through the year. If the loan is for a week then the APR calculation counts that fee 52 times to get to the annual rate.

A much simpler and more accurate method of working out whether these charges to borrow are too high is to look at the profits being made by those doing the lending. If those aren’t high – and that Provident Financial shareholders have to put more capital in shows they ain’t – then the lending rates aren’t too high either.

It just costs a lot to lend small amounts for short periods of time. Shrug.

Posted: 4th, March 2018 | In: Money, News | Comment


Ashya King is cancer free: monstered parents rejoice in son’s life

Truly incredible and heartening news reaches us: Ashya King is cancer free. In 2014, the sane among us looked on aghast as the State declared that it not the parents knew what was best for the terminally ill child with a brain tumour.

Hampshire Police obtained a European arrest warrant for Ashya King’s parents, Brett and Naghmeh King, alleging “neglect”. The media saddled up and invited us to join the hunt for the family who’d removed their son from Southampton Hospital in defiance of doctors’ orders as they sought pioneering proton therapy on the Continent. The treatment was not offered in Britain. The Kings feared the chemotherapy and radiotherapy the NHS had scheduled for the son would leave him brain damaged or kill him.

As the police hunted the Kings, so did we. The Mirror said Ashya had just “24 hours” to live. Assistant chief constable Chris Shead told us: “It is vital that we find Ashya today. His health will deteriorate rapidly. Ashya is in a wheelchair and is fed through a tube. The feeding system is battery operated and that battery will run out today. He must continue to be fed through the tube by someone with the relevant medical training.”

The message was clear: the parents had placed their child in mortal danger. The Kings were oddball parents who belonged to “a millennial religious cult”. They must be stopped.  The Mirror, which was not alone in calling on us to nark on the Kings, told readers: “Anyone with information about Ashya’s whereabouts should contact Hampshire Constabulary on 101, quoting Operation Aquilion.”

It worked. Police got the Kings. The parents were arrested in Spain and locked up. Their five-year-old son was placed with strangers in protective custody. He was made a ward of court.

And then, after the police-enabled, media-amplified hatchet job had snared the Kings, the CPS withdrew the European arrest warrants against the blameless couple it had terrorised for daring to say ‘no‘. The Kings had not wilfully neglected their son. It was nonsense to say they had done. The Kings looked after their flesh and blood with skill and love. They had recharged the feeding tube’s battery and got him the right food. The family was freed. The High Court said they could take their son to Prague for proton therapy.

Fast forward to today and Brett King is reading a letter from the cancer specialist at Southampton General Hospital: “Dear Mr King… I am pleased to say there is no sign of any tumour recurrences and there is nothing that requires any urgent intervention.”

Who knows what’s best for you children, then? And why does the State assume it’s not the parents?

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


A Free Press Means No One ‘Guards the Guardians’

Good news, eh. The government will not implement the second stage of the Leveson Inquiry, which was due to investigate journalists’ relationship with the police. Moreover, the Government will not bring to bear the fearsome Section 40 of the crime and courts act. If implemented, Section 40 could have seen newspapers not signed up to the States’s Press regulator forced to pay legal costs in libel and privacy cases, even if they won. If you got to the bit about there being a State regulator for a free press and gaped, you’re among the majority who find it abhorrent.

Culture Secretary Matt Hancock says the “world had changed” since Leveson’s 2012 report into Press behaviour – when journalists were inspected and proprietors were impelled to explain themselves. The Press’s hypocrisy was clear to even the most monocular stooge. Things had gone badly wrong. But then the debate turned to what form compensation should take? How should we interpret the law-breaking that Leveson unveiled?

More questions are prompted. What is the role of the Press in an age when Government and business can talk directly the the people through the internet? A government communique is no longer news for an ‘insider’ hack to top and tail. Secret documents are leaked. Every football match is streamed, reducing fans’ reliance on informative match reports. TV listings are free – and you can make your own broadcast schedules on the likes of Netflix. In the multi-media age, one-media newspapers get desperate as they seek to add value. What’s the future of the diminished Press and should Leveson have focused more on the booming Internet?

The Press has been behaving better since all that phone hacking was exposed. On the other side of the fight, in which everyone in a powerful position has a dog, is Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson. He says the move is a “bitter blow to the victims of Press intrusion”. Watson says Hancock failed to “stand up to the tabloid-style newspapers who are propping up this government”. Snooty much, eh.

Hancock says tabloid-hating Watson is “tied up with the opponents of press freedom”. Does he mean Max Mosley, perhaps, who earlier this week was accused of having once supported racism, an allegation he denies? Mosley has donated over £500,000 to Mr Watson’s office (you should see the curtains). He has donated more big money to Impress, the official media regulator, set up in the aftermath of the Leveson Inquiry. The Labour Party is so sure it has nothing to worry about it has, er, said it will not accept further donations from Mosley.

So much for those holding the mic. But it’s not about them. At least it shouldn’t be. Let’s be in no doubt that this is victory for all of us. Tom Slater rightfully enjoys the moment:

When the government consultation into Section 40 and Leveson 2 was announced in January last year, spiked set up the #FreeThePress campaign, with a website that allowed readers to make their feelings known and respond to the inquiry. You did so in your thousands. And despite the press-regulation lobby’s ignoble efforts, our free-press submissions swamped theirs. The culture secretary Matt Hancock said yesterday that two-thirds of the mighty 174,000 responses said No to Section 40 and Leveson 2. You stood up for liberty, and won.

“The answer to the question of ‘Who guards the guardians?’ cannot be “No one”, asked Lord Leveson. Which makes me wonder: why does a free press need guards when laws on libel, privacy, contempt of court, privacy, conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and more already exist? And we should not forget that at the root of Leveson, the thing that sparked the whole story, criminal trials and the closure of one newspapers, was robust and rambunctious journalism.

Posted: 2nd, March 2018 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Arsenal balls: Wenger threatens to stay for one more season

Arsenal players are “turning” on Arsene Wenger says the Mirror. The Frenchman is being “Frozen Out”. He’s also being paid a huge £10m a year to oversee a mediocre team. Blame Wenger by all means, but the board hire him. The absentee owner is unable to see beyond the next jackpot dividend.

If the owners had a clue they’d have sacked Wenger when Arsenal were beaten 8-2 at Old Trafford or lost 10-2 against Bayern Munich or went down 2-1 to Östersund Football Club – a Swedish team from a town whose population is smaller than the capacity of the Emirates stadium. “We could not compete on conventional terms in Swedish football, said Östersund’s manager Graham Potter. “We’ve got no history, no tradition, no culture [of football] here. You’re looking for the ones that have been discarded, the ones that conventional football has regarded as being not good enough.” You know, the kind of players Arsenal reject by the dozen.

Potter had more to say. For all those who say Arsenal outside the Champions’ League will struggle to recruit the top talent and thus compete, well…

“We’re up here in the woods. It’s very, very difficult to attract players from the south of Sweden… We’re not going to have the resources, we’re not going to have a reason for people to come here. Then we started to get players that were maybe either released or not considered good enough for the conventional sort of way. Pick those guys up, and then to do that you have to play to their strengths So we got the ones that were maybe too small or not strong enough to play typical, conventional football if you like. That helped us evolve towards more possession, more controlling game.”

Belief and vision can do wonders. Arsenal have neither. Under Wenger, the team of entitled, cosseted mouth-breathers possess less presence than Lord Lucan. They’d be outfought and outthought by the zip on Wenger’s jacket.

Why are Arsenal so lacklustre and witless given that the team earn fortunes and throughout their careers must have shown some signs of skill and drive? Is it to do with trial by transfer fee, whereby average players, especially the English ones – £40m for the limited Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain!; Jack Wilshere thinks £120,000 a week not enough to sign a new deal he is, we are told, desperate to agree!!! – think they’ve won before a ball has been kicked.

And at the top of the flaccid, gilded lump is Wenger, a man rewarded for perennial Premier League failure. Look, his longevity says, you can be a bit stylish, talk a good game and come nowhere near winning the title and still earn shedloads of cash and new contracts. This current Arsenal side of journeymen are the embodiment of the manager’s last decade in charge.

The test is now. Wenger says he has always honoured his contract. The current deal has a year to run after this summer. The paper talks is that Arsenal will once more turn to Monaco, where Wenger managed. Leonardo Jardim is the name in the frame. Arsenal, if they’re serious about change, should get him now.

 

Posted: 1st, March 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment


Trump voters least likely to stomach smell of other people

“Get a life in which you notice the smell of salt water pushing itself on a breeze over the dunes,” said Anna Quindlen in her Short Guide to a Happy Life. In a shorter guide: if you want to smell the linen and Alpine air, avoid Lefties. They stink and don’t much mind.

Jonas Olofsson at Stockholm University, Sweden, has linked a person’s response to smell to their politics. The less tolerant you are of another’s person’s stench, the further to the right you veer. Your attitude to personal hygiene can influence which political crowd you run with.

A test group of volunteers responded to questions about how revolting they found exposure to someone else’s sweat, the urine, faeces and more. Paired with responses to such statements as “Our country needs a powerful leader, in order to destroy the radical and immoral currents prevailing in society today”, Olofsson noticed that respondents most disgusted by other people’s smells tended to score more highly for authoritarian views. “Those that were most supportive of Donald Trump had the highest body odour disgust sensitivity,” says Olofsson. “People who react strongly to odours might claim to have a sensitive nose, but when we test them, they are average.”

Adding: “We think that olfaction might be at the root of the pathogen detection system, so body odour disgust might be the most primitive, most fundamental way to detect pathogen.”

The study, which can be read in full here, speaks of Trump:

Only a few studies have investigated the relationship between disgust sensitivity and voting preferences. In Study 3, we found positive evidence in favour of a weak relationship between disgust sensitivity to body odours and attitudes toward the Republican candidate Donald Trump. Importantly, this relationship is fully explained by authoritarian attitudes which were stronger among participants supporting Trump, a result that confirms the notion that in our study sample, Donald Trump was capable of attracting the sympathies of authoritarian voters.

Anyone else see a line of Trump-endorsed scent-free perfumes?

In fact, it can be argued that Trump’s firm stance against immigration, especially from groups viewed as culturally unfamiliar, might meet an implicit need of protection from pathogen threats from people perceived as either potential carriers of unfamiliar pathogens, or groups whose behaviours in disease-avoidance relevant behaviours (e.g. hygiene or food preparation) was perceived as deviant. Our findings suggest that high reactivity to pathogen threats signalled by body odours is part of an ideological disposition towards authoritarian candidates, because of the link between disease avoidance and authoritarianism.

Build a wall and stick some fans on the top of it. An ill wind blows…

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


Haven’t We All Got So Much Richer?

This little statistics rather surprised me. I should have known it but didn’t:

The average house price has soared by 7,578 per cent, from £2,100 in 1952 to £161,937 in 2012, according to Halifax. But in the 1950s, prices were much lower relative to earnings — around 3.5 times the average salary compared with 4.8 times over the past decade, so it was more affordable to get on to the property ladder.

OK, well I did know that. Houses have got more expensive relative to wages. It’s one of the ways in which you can say that we’ve not actually got richer over the generations: sure, wages have risen, but we’ve got to spend it all on a house.

It would have cost around £160 a year over a 20-year mortgage term to buy a typical home in 1952, but at that time around two thirds of properties had no hot water.

And that’s the important point. Sure, houses have got more expensive: they’re also less shit than they are. Central heating didn’t become even a luxury until the 1950s either, widespread adoption only coming in the 1960s. Which brings us to another complaint. We’re often told that a generation back one income could feed and house and raise an entire family. Now it takes two: so we’re no better off at all.

To which I would say bollocks. You can live a 1950s lifestyle on one income in the UK no problems. A house with maybe an inside lav, more likely than not no hot water, almost certainly no actual bath in a bathroom. And certainly no central heating: mebbe a coal fire in one or two rooms. Shitty food, no foreign holidays at all (this is still the era of a week’s camping at Scunthorpe). No meals out of course: it’s not just that no one could afford them, restaurants, other than those in expensive hotels, just didn’t exist (seriously, the expansion of Berni Inns in the 50s and 60s was the first experience of restaurants for many).

You can very easily live a 50s lifestyle on one single earner these days. The problem is that we all like being a great deal richer than that.

Posted: 28th, February 2018 | In: Money, News | Comment


Max Mosley and the right to ask offensive questions

Most of us have never met press reform campaigner Max Mosley (and I’m including some members of the spanking community in that) nor his father, the fascist Oswald Mosley who married Diana Mitford in Joseph Goebbels’ drawing room. She was a woman dubbed “Hitler’s Angel”. Max knew her as ‘mum’. My own ancestors living in London’s Stepney and Whitechapel did have a run-in with Mosley Senior a while back, chiefly when in his guise as leader of the Black Shirts, the aristo and former Labour Party government minister wanted to march his gang of booted anti-Semites through Cable Street in East London. The aim was to intimidate the local Jews. Back then lots of people who didn’t much like the Nazi-styled Black Shirts disobeyed the law by turning out in force, blocked the march and won the day. Officialdom did sod all to protect them. “It was a victory for the united people of the East End.”

Our bloodlines, however, have not crossed since. I know what I know of Mosley and his family by reading and hearing about them. Eventually, I might even form an opinion on Max from looking at the press, TV and books. “The questions raised by the desire to know are in principle all answerable by common-sense experience and common-sense reasoning,” wrote Hannah Arendt. We read a lot of things. We think about them, debate them and, through reason, try to reach the truth.

And today we get to know a bit more about Max Mosley. He’s back in the news. The Times says Mosley “is facing questions about whether he lied to the High Court after the discovery of a racist political leaflet published in his name”.

The 1961 document links leprosy, venereal disease and tuberculosis to “coloured immigration” and argues that Jamaicans should be sent back home. Mr Mosley, the former Formula One boss turned press reform campaigner, was questioned about the leaflets during his 2008 High Court privacy case against the News of the World.

Under oath, he said that he did not recall putting out election literature urging voters to send black people home. He also explicitly denied that any leaflets from the 1961 campaign accused immigrants of bringing leprosy, syphilis and TB, saying: “That is absolute nonsense.”

Confronted with a copy of one of the leaflets last night, he rejected the “offensive suggestion” that he lied under oath and appeared to question if it was genuine. “If it is genuine, it doesn’t reflect my views today,” he said during a combative live appearance on Channel 4 News. “This was in 1961. I ceased to have any involvement in my father’s movement in 1963.”

Here he is on Channel 4 news:

 

 

The part about Tom Watson is of interest.  The Deputy leader says a Labour Government would set up Leveson II and enforce state-backed press regulation. So much for a free press. The State will decide what is and what is not fit and proper for you to read. No need for reason when the State does the thinking for you. You’ll be free to think about other stuff, like ‘How the hell did this happen?’, ‘Isn’t it great that we all agree on everything’ and “Why is fake news now the only news?’

Spotting error is essential to solving problems and progress. Stymie expression – the right to make mistakes – and we are all isolated from one another and diminished. As the philosopher Karl Popper noted:

In spite of everything, and although we have had so many failures, we, the citizens of the western democracies, live in a social order which is better (because more favourably disposed to reform) and more just than any other in recorded history. Further improvements are of the greatest urgency. (Yet improvements that increase the power of the state often bring about the opposite of what we are seeking.)

 

Max Mosley racism

 

The story is on the cover of the Mail. It begins with a question. And for what it’s worth, I’d cede to Betteridge’s Law of headlines: “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word ‘no’.”

The Mail focuses on Mosley’s relationship with the media:

He has bankrolled Labour deputy leader Tom Watson and Impress — the State-approved media watchdog which critics say opens the door to statutory control of the Press…

Mr Mosley has also pledged £3.8 million via a family trust to fund Impress, the controversial Press regulator which is underwritten by statute and supported by Mr Watson and the pressure group Hacked Off, but shunned by the newspaper industry which views it as a threat to freedom of expression.

The Guardian notes the response:

“It appears that the historical investigation pursued by the Daily Mail is yet another misconceived attempt to intimidate and deter me. I will continue to campaign for the vital reforms needed to protect ordinary people against the bullying of newspapers like the Daily Mail.”

In response to the leaflet, Watson told the Mail: “My views on press regulation are well known and have not changed. The views expressed by Max as a young man are not the views he holds now, just as the Rothermere family no longer uses its newspapers to support fascism.”

 

Max Mosley racism

 

And so there it is. A free Press is the right to report things people of power and influence don’t want you to know. It’s the right to cause offence. More power to it. And more power to anyone who can prove it wrong by establishing their facts as authentic and true. After all, our desire is to know the truth and therein become better.

PS:

 

If we are now all citizen journalists – something Jeremy Corbyn is keen to foster as he invites “non-journalists” from outside the hated mainstream media (see Trump. D) to ask him questions – will each of us with a social media account need to sign up to State regulation for our right to publish tweets and Facebook posts? A vibrant field of open debate will end when the State is the only one holding the mic.

Posted: 28th, February 2018 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


North Korean leaders travelled the world on Brazilian passports

If you think the North Korean leader’s hair is an area of special scientific interest, you should see his bikini line. Reuters says Kim Jong-un and his dad, former North Korean Number 1 Kim Jong Il, each owned a Brazilian passport.

Everyone needs a break from the killing, torture and that oh-so tiresome issuing of most terrible threats. And the Kims are mostly human (source: CNN@WinterOlympics). So they used illegal documents to jet about the globe, selflessly exposing themselves to the horrors of plentiful food, back rubs and horrific US-sponsored imperialism. And, yes, I fear that includes a Brazilian.

 

 

Apparently, Jong Un was listed on one passport as Josef Pwag. Educated at an international school in Berne, Switzerland, where “he pretended to be the son of an embassy chauffeur”, Jong Un’s birthplace is given as Sao Paulo, Brazil. Big Kim was called Ijong Tchoi.

 

 

We don’t know where the Kims went, nor if they ever spent a busman’s weekend in East Glasgow. And we can’t know for certain why the Kims chose to play at being Brazilian, over, say, South Korean or German. Maybe it’s because Brazil has a rich history in giving sanctuary to murderous foreign loons (see Germans).

Anyhow, if you’ve any beach shots of the Kims getting waxed off, keep them to yourself and your nightmares.

Posted: 28th, February 2018 | In: News, Politicians | Comment


Jeremy Corbyn’s goes full Blair: for the EU not the many

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tilted his head and told us that the Labour Party will seek a customs union with the European Union. Total balls, of course. The European Union won’t go for it. To keep the country trading in cahoots with the EU stomps on the votes of 17.4 millions of us who got off our arses and voted for Brexit. But the EU won’t have an independent UK negotiating trade deals with them as equals.

Corbyn knows it’s nonsense, of course. This is all about him getting into power. If you still sue for Remain, then a vote for Corbyn is being presented as your best chance of securing it. The working class who voted Leave are getting stuffed. But with a Tory Party mired, who else do they vote for?

Meanwhile, Tom Newton Dunn (@tnewtondunn) offers an insight into how the media Corbyn seeks to gag will behave and be treated under his government:

This just happened at a Jeremy Corbyn speech Q&A:
Rebecca Long-Bailey (ignoring multiple journalists’ raised hands): “Do we have any questions from non-journalists?”
Activist: “I want to say, please will you hurry up and be our Prime Minister”.

Maybe that’s the way to go: just abandon the established Press and go with citizen journalism and twitter? Everyone with an opinion and a social media account could sign up to Max Mosley’s state-approved regulator? Labour want it so that news organisations that don’t sign up to a the State’s regulator will have to pay all the costs of libel and privacy cases even if they win. Yeah, even if you lose, you win. It’s a Remainer’s paradise.

Posted: 26th, February 2018 | In: News, Politicians | Comment