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News | Anorak - Part 31

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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


Americans Are Odd – Why Execute A Terminal Cancer Patient?

There are times when it appears that the transatlantic cousins are more than a little odd. Their preoccupation with guns puzzles many this side of the Pond for example, their continuing love affair with executions meets with the approval of the vox populi over here if not with those who rule us. But seriously, who tries to execute a terminal cancer patient?

Part of this they did get right:

An execution in the US was aborted last week after the inmate was left with 10 puncture wounds when medical personnel were unable to find a vein after two and a half hours of trying. The failed attempts left behind a bloodied death chamber, the inmate’s lawyer said.

No, that’s getting it right. The purpose of the death penalty is to put the Fear of God into those who might commit a serious crime. A blood spattered execution chamber aids in doing that so why not? In fact, there’s a good argument that if a death penalty we’re going to have then the more public and gory it is the better. Why go with private and peaceful like a lethal injection in a prison when we could have breaking on the wheel in the public square? Evisceration perhaps? Either would be more of a deterrent.

But then there’s the part that they got wrong:

In court filings in the days before the planned execution, Hamm’s lawyers said he had terminal cancer and a history of intravenous drug use that had severely compromised his veins.

Yes the drug use will have made the injection more difficult. But the terminal cancer would make it unnecessary as well. In fact, why bother with the rigmarole at all?

It’s fairly well known that a death from cancer isn’t a pretty nor enjoyable one. That’s why those who die that way tend to go out on a cloud of morphine – these days perhaps the much stronger fentanyl. A prisoner whose veins can’t be found isn’t going to be getting useful amounts of either of those drugs now, is he? So, why bother with the execution?

Why not just with hold treatment for the cancer, including pain relief, and allow nature to get on with the rest of it? Possibly film it as an example to others?

For if we’re going to have death as a disincentive to crime then let’s make those deaths as awful as possible so as to increase the disincentive, the precautionary effect. And if we’re not doing it so as to dissuade people, as gorily as possible, then why in hell are we doing it in the first place?

Posted: 26th, February 2018 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Ian Wright: when the Arsenal striker tore a Man City star’s foreskin

As a powderpuff, toothless, guile-free, limp Arsenal lose 3-0 to Manchester City in the League Cup final, minds turn to how it used to be when players actually ran and looked like they were living the dream. You know, when Ian Wright played for the Gunners.

Wright is the player who grow up on Honor Oak council estate in Brockley, south London, whose mother told him “I should have had a termination”;  who left school at 14; who at age 18, whilst working as a labourer, became a father; who after countless rejections became at 22-years-old a professional footballer with Crystal Palace; who ran and ran and ran and ran.

“I spoke with Arsène for a few hours during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil,” says the former Arsenal star. “He is such a fascinating man to talk to. During our conversation he said he accepts whatever criticism I make comes from a place of love. Watching him now is like witnessing the ageing Muhammad Ali against Larry Holmes, or watching Brazil’s Ronaldo when he got fat. You are watching the greats in their demise. The problem with Arsène is that there is no one in his corner prepared to throw in the towel.”

Arsene Wenger’s time was up years ago. A combination of loyalty to the man who moulded the club in the modern era, and an asinine board and absentee owner grown fat and complacent on big dividends from the club’s role as perennial Champions’ League also rans, have kept Wenger in situ. His current team are woeful.

Do any of them want it as much as Wright did? Talking to the Sunday Times, he tells a story, which is undoubtedly the most entertaining thing Arsenal fans will have seen today:

“First time I got called up for England. I am amongst the greats. Bryan Robson, Shilton, Butcher, Barnes, Lineker, Beardsley, Gascoigne, Platt. But I’m losing the ball in training and Steve McMahon’s giving me a hard time.

“’F*****g useless, how do players like you get into the squad?’” Horrible he was, and it got me down. Years later he [McMahon] is playing for Man City and we both slide into a tackle. He had to go off. It’s at Highbury and after the game he’s in the doctor’s room being stitched up. It’s his foreskin that is being stitched.

“He says ‘Wrighty, you caught me in the wrong place,’ but is OK about it. I apologise and wish him well for the rest of the season. After we retire I meet him somewhere and he’s saying that every time he pees or has any form of arousal, he feels a little pain and thinks of me. And I’m thinking, ‘ah man, that’s sweet.’”

If you’ve got the time, this is great: Ian Wright meets Mr Sidney Pigden, his old teacher who made him believe he could do it:

 

And this:

Posted: 25th, February 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment (1)


Donald Trump channels Archie Bunker on gun control

 

Donald Trump surveys the death at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, hears the laments of the grief stricken and then tells everyone it’d be good idea to bring more guns into school. You let the teachers have them. “You give them a little bit of a bonus, so practically for free, you have now made the school into a hardened target.”

More guns equals less crime, then?  No:

The notion [that more guns mean less crime] stems from a paper published in 1997 by economists John Lott and David Mustard, who looked at county-level crime data from 1977 to 1992 and concluded that “allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons deters violent crimes and it appears to produce no increase in accidental deaths.” Of course, the study of gun crime has advanced significantly since then (no thanks to Congress). Some researchers have gone so far as to call Lott and Mustard’s original study “completely discredited.” …

Now, Stanford law professor John Donohue and his colleagues have added another full decade to the analysis, extending it through 2010, and have concluded that the opposite of Lott and Mustard’s original conclusion is true: more guns equal more crime.

“The totality of the evidence based on educated judgments about the best statistical models suggests that right-to-carry laws are associated with substantially higher rates” of aggravated assault, robbery, rape and murder, Donohue said in an interview with the Stanford Report. The evidence suggests that right-to-carry laws are associated with an 8 percent increase in the incidence of aggravated assault, according to Donohue. He says this number is likely a floor, and that some statistical methods show an increase of 33 percent in aggravated assaults involving a firearm after the passage of right-to-carry laws.According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, 467,321 persons were victims of a crime committed with a firearm in 2011, which includes the 11,000 or so gun-related homicides.

According to the National Crime Victimization Survey 2011, 467,321 people were victims of a crime committed with a firearm in 2011, including the 11,000 or so gun-related homicides. Guns are pretty good at threatening people. Bang. Bang. You’re dead.

In 2010 the FBI recorded 12,996 homicides – 8,775 were committed with guns; 1,704 with knives; 540 with blunt objects; 11 with poison. People murder, then, with the nearest most lethal object to hand. Or they become more devious: in 1927, America’s deadliest school massacre was carried out with dynamite.

But what about guns just going off?

In 2010, unintentional firearm injuries caused the deaths of 606 people. From 2005-2010, almost 3,800 people in the U.S. died from unintentional shootings. Over 1,300 victims of unintentional shootings for the period 2005–2010 were under 25 years of age.

Matt Steinglass notes:

Gun-rights advocates often argue that there’s no point taking away people’s guns, because you can kill someone with a knife. This is true, but in practice people are nowhere near as likely to get killed with a knife.

In America, of those 14,022 homicides in 2011, 11,101 were committed with firearms. In England and Wales, where guns are far harder to come by, criminals didn’t simply go out and equip themselves with other tools and commit just as many murders; there were 32,714 offences involving a knife or other sharp instrument (whether used or just threatened), but they led to only 214 homicides, a rate of 1 homicide per 150 incidents. Meanwhile, in America, there were 478,400 incidents of firearm-related violence (whether used or just threatened) and 11,101 homicides, for a rate of 1 homicide per 43 incidents. That nearly four-times-higher rate of fatality when the criminal uses a gun rather than a knife closely matches the overall difference in homicide rates between America and England.

But police having guns is good, right?

Not one but four sheriff’s deputies hid behind cars instead of storming Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS in Parkland, Fla., during Wednesday’s school shooting, police claimed Friday — as newly released records revealed the Broward County Sheriff’s Office had received at least 18 calls about the troubled teen over the past decade.

Sources from Coral Springs, Fla., Police Department tell CNN that when its officers arrived on the scene Wednesday, they were shocked to find three Broward County Sheriff’s deputies behind their cars with weapons drawn.

Stoneman Douglas had an armed guard who did not engage the killer.

There is no consensus over guns in the US. Maybe the focus should be on the ‘wrong kind of people’ having guns?

 

 

All the talk is of guns. But why do the State and ordinary people own them in the first place? And if anyone needs to be denied gun ownership, why shouldn’t everyone be made gun free?

Posted: 25th, February 2018 | In: News, Politicians | Comment


London Council bans fat children from climbing trees without a ‘reasonable excuse’

London’s Wandsworth Council wants to ban anyone from climbing a tree in the borough. Unless you have a “reasonable excuse”, climbing a tree could cost you a £500 fine. It’s all part of a range of new bylaws being proposed throughout Wandsworth to “protect the borough’s parks from criminal damage, anti-social behaviour and vandalism”.

How’s that Olympic legacy going?

The council says that’s nonsense. It says the new rules are “nothing” to do with “curtailing childrens’ enjoyment in any way and will help the council run its parks effectively as possible for the enjoyment all residents, especially children.”

Councillor Jonathan Cook, Cabinet Member for Community Services, says: “Stopping a child from flying a kite or climbing a tree, as has been suggested in some quarters this week, certainly will not be how we want to see the bylaws used.”

So the rules can be used to stop people climbing trees? The rules are open-ended and vague?

“Council set to ban ‘annoying’ tree climbing and kite flying,” says the Times. Paul Hocker, director of the charity London Play, says: “They are bolstering their huge bank reserves by fining children for climbing trees or flying a kite in the park.”

The council says Hocker et al are “misinformed”. Really?

The London Evening Standard reports:

Along with tree climbing, such traditional outdoor pursuits as kite flying or a knockabout game of cricket – along with other pursuits considered “annoying” to others – could fall foul of the regulations.

The borough’s previous 27-point list drawn up in 1924 will be replaced with 49 new diktats, including bans on metal detectors and remote control model boats on ponds…

The rules will be enforced by civilian park police – who dress like the Met officers with a kit of stab vests, handcuffs and bodycams, but lack their powers.

In the Mail, we hear from an insider:

A council spokesman told MailOnline: “A six-year-old child climbing a tree is one thing but an 18-stone rugby player who might damage the tree by breaking the branches is another.”

What about an 18-stone child? And why can’t a big lad climb a tree? Why do children get more rights than adults?

“That is the sort of behaviour we are trying to discourage. We have had people badly injury themselves in the past.”

So what? Adults knows the risks. Children find ways of working out their limits. We’ll take freedom over banning orders, thanks.

“It’s not about stopping children from playing innocent games or engaging in healthy, outdoors activities, it’s about making the spaces more enjoyable for everyone.”

The Express and Star also rehash the same Times report. But no paper lists the 47 new “diktats”. Under the heading “Wandsworth Council parks and open spaces bye-laws –  Laws governing the use of our parks, gardens and open spaces”, the council tells us what fun we can all have in the fresh-ish air (still free at the point of delivery!).

 

No Running in the non-running zone:

 

Make your babies walk! 

 

 

No Sliding – on ice?

 

 

Vagrants raus! Go to the library. Do not soil the grass:

 

 

Sod it. Safer – and cheaper – to stay in doors and watch it all on the telly. Pass the blankets, mum.

 

Posted: 24th, February 2018 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment


Jeremy Corbyn sneers at 30 years of Matt’s ‘genius’ cartoons

Daily Telegraph cartoonist Matt Pritchett is celebrating his 30th anniversary at the paper. Plaudits come thick and fast. They’re deserved. The Duke of Edinburgh hails Matt as a “genius”, praising his “ability to think of wonderfully appropriate swipes at the idiocies of contemporary life”. to say nothing of the idiocies of hereditary privilege. And to say nothing at all of people the Telegraph refers to as  – dread phrase – “national treasures”.

Prime Minsters past and present love him.

Theresa May says Matt’s works lets politicos “laugh at ourselves”. David Cameron says he has a Matt cartoon lampooning his time as PM on his wall. Gordon Brown says: “Cartoonists often get far nearer to the truth than other commentators and over 30 tumultuous years Matt Pritchett has consistently demonstrated exactly that.”

Tony Blair calls Matt “brilliant”.

John Major says: “In the 1990s, when I was under heavy press bombardment, Matt produced a cartoon of a newspaper billboard reading: ‘Queen falls off horse: Prime Minister not involved’. It caught the moment magnificently.”

And Jeremy Corbyn, who doesn’t much like a free press, says:

Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, was also invited to join the anniversary celebrations. His team politely declined, saying none of the Matt cartoons they had seen about Mr Corbyn were funny.

 

Jeremy Corbyn, folks, the man who prefers to tell not listen, who says a “free press is essential to democracy” and then threatens the media he doesn’t like and who don’t agree with him. He wants more control over the Press. So much for freedom.

Helena Horton says the PMs who did comment are a”a lesson in how to handle being on the receiving end of a joke with good grace”.

Quite so. Corbyn comes across badly. As Tom Jamieson tweets: “It does, but for satirists getting under skin of a politician is very pleasing…”

More of Matt, please. And more cartoons in newspapers.

Posted: 24th, February 2018 | In: News | Comment


God’s own Alan Pardew gives West Bromwich Albion an easy ride and a prayer

Ever since Maradonna attributed his cheating to God, sceptics and religionists have been debating the divine one’s role in the beautiful game. Is Deli Alli lysing down a lot because he’s a modern day Lazarus, rather than a persistent cheat? Are the Red Devils scared of crosses? And here’s Alan Pardew reacting to West Brom’s team-building jaunt to Barcelona last week, which featured four senior players going on the lash, nicking a taxi in the early hours of the morning and joy-riding to McDonald’s before dumping it outside their team hotel.

Gareth Barry (36), Jonny Evans (30), Boaz Myhill (35) and Jake Livermore (28) were each fined two weeks’ wages for breaking the midnight curfew. Such is the tough line at West Brom that Barry and Evans were picked to play in the next match. Pardew explained all:

“He (Evans) has paid a heavy price for [his conduct]. Trust me. It’s like all things in life, if you make a mistake does that mean you are going to have to pay for it for the rest of your life? I don’t think so. I think God teaches us to forgive. On this occasion I wouldn’t say he’s been forgiven. But he’s paid a price and he’s still paying a price with you guys [the media], so he’ll learn that that was an event he deeply regrets as he lives on.

West Bromwich Albion are bottom of the Premier League, five points behind their closest rival. You’d think that arrogant players larking about, boozing and eating junk food less than ideal. But with the Rev. Pardew at the helm, the lads have a prayer.

Posted: 23rd, February 2018 | In: News, Sports | Comment


Kardashian balls: Kylie Jenner’s billion dollar tweet

All power, then, to Kylie Jenner, 20, half-sister to Kim Kardashian, who has issued the first billion dollar tweet: “Sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore?”

Her message was liked more than 250,000 times. Around the same time, shares in Snap, which operates the social media app., dropped 6 per cent ($1.3bn).

Such is Jenner’s power that a role as share tipster must beckon. Kylie tips a few companies for greatness and  – waboom!- their short-term share price rises sharply. You can debate why anyone would follow the advice of a woman who called her first child Stormi Webster later. But they do. So there.

Of course, there’s more to it that just Jenner’s tweet. Citigroup analyst Mark May has seen a “significant jump” in negative reviews of the app’s redesign. Over one million names appeared on an online petition asking Snap to keep the old look.  Maybelline New York asked its followers if it should bother staying on the Snapchat platform.

But the story is out there – “Kylie Jenner’s pop at Snapchat wipes $1bn off value” (Times); “Reality TV star Kylie Jenner wiped $1.3bn off Snap’s stock market value after tweeting that she no longer used its Snapchat messaging app” (BBC);  and “SNAPCRASH -Kylie Jenner wipes £1BILLION off value of Snapchat just by saying she doesn’t use the app any more” (Sun).

When later on Jenner tweeted “Still love you tho snap”. The stock did not rally. Last night shares in Snap closed down $1.13 at $17.51.

Still, it’s good marketing for Jenner and Snapchat, which now appears to be relevant. It’s almost as if – as if! – it was all a spot of PR…

Posted: 23rd, February 2018 | In: Celebrities, Money, News | Comment


Justin Forsyth resigns from Unicef – man loses his job over text messages

john forstyth

 

Another successful hit for the anti-harassment police as Unicef chief Justin Fortyth falls on his (pork) sword and resigns. The former chief executive of Save the Children says his past must not “damage” the charities that allegedly coseted him.

Forsyth was accused of “inappropriate” behaviour towards three female colleagues – a “barrage” of texts and comments about their looks. He “apologised unreservedly” to the three women at the time. Save The Children investigated him twice. He left, scored a new job at Unicef and life rolled on. But when the story became news just a few days ago, his career was mired. Justice in the age of #MeToo is mercilessly swift. He’s gone.

“They were dealt with through a proper process many years ago,” Forsyth says in a statement about the complaints an their handling. “There is no doubt in my mind that some of the coverage around me is not just to (rightly) hold me to account, but also to attempt to do serious damage to our cause and the case for aid.” (For “aid”, read: politics, party, movie, the BBC, TV series,  gender and more.)

Conservative MP Pauline Latham, a member of the House of Commons’ International Development committee, reacts: “But what I’m more concerned about is the fact he has been able to work for as long as he did. It is shocking. The more I hear about it the more shocked I am. It’s terrible for the UK charity sector. It will take a lot of getting over.”

Should we be more shocked that a woman who represents us in the combative world of party politics is shocked by a man sending sleazy tests and making lewd comments? If that shocks her, what does the war in Syria do to her constitution?

Brie O’Keefe, a former employee at Save the Children, tells BBC’s Newsnight: “One of the things that kept many of us from speaking out earlier was a desire to protect the organisation that we loved.”

So much for justice, then. Less #MeToo than #ThoseBastards.

The rest of us might also wonder how one man’s unwelcome comments, for which he apologised, are linked to Oxfam’s depravity? The charity allegedly covered up and protected staffers who aided local women – some allegedly underage (child rape, then?) – escape the horrors of witnessing hundreds of thousands killed and millions made without basic needs following the 2010 earthquake by paying them for sex. The BBC makes the link explicit. In its comment on Forsyth, the BBC slips in the line: “Meanwhile, Haiti has suspended Oxfam GB operations in the country, as it investigates claims of sexual misconduct by staff in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake.”

The office creep is linked to Oxfam staff going to a poor foreign country and using their piles of money and power to debase the locals to such a degree that, it’s alleged, they arranged “meat barbecues” (orgies) in which the women wore Oxfam T-shirts.

Forsyth is right about one thing: this amplification of any sort of harassment into a scandal that rides high at the top of the news cycle is creating an unhealthy atmosphere of mistrust. The most authoritarian voices are holding the mic. The rest of us should worry about where it’s all leading?

Posted: 23rd, February 2018 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Former Arsenal and Spurs star: ‘I’m one of the greatest minds in football’

Sol Campbell has been overlooked for the Oxford job. No, not the Oxford job that involves big lunches, bigger dinners and students. The other Oxford job – the one as manager of Oxford United FC. Although the former Spurs and Arsenal defender could have done both, probably. As he tells one and all: “I can’t believe some people. I’m one of the greatest minds in football and I’m wasted because of a lack of experience or maybe he talks his mind too much.”

Instead Oxford are looking at former Wales and Liverpool player Craig Bellamy.

“I did go [for the Oxford Unietd job] and they didn’t accept me,” Sol told Highbury & Heels. “Maybe it was a lack of experience, things like that, but it’s a full circle. Experience? How do I get experience? Well I need a job to get experience. I don’t want to go too low that it’s a struggle, and I don’t want to go too low that I’m under someone and thinking ‘what am I doing here?’ I would rather be managing a club myself.

“I’m confident and it’s not like it’s rocket science to run a football club, especially when you get to that level. If you’re intelligent enough and a quick learner you will learn pretty soon, within two or three games, what the team needs, training-wise, to survive in that league, get better in that league, to get in the play-offs or even win the league.

“I’m intelligent enough, it’s not like I played on a fox and dog pitch all my life. I can’t believe some people, I’m one of the greatest minds in football and I’m being wasted because of a lack of experience or ‘maybe he talks his mind too much’. Go to Germany, they love people who speak their minds. They got the jobs. I’m sorry that I’ve got a mind, but don’t be scared of that. That should be something you want at your club, but obviously not.”

 

 

Glenn Hoddle is away.

Posted: 22nd, February 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Ramsey ready for Carabao Cup final

The Daily Express has news form the twilight zone of spots journalism: “Aaron Ramsey to miss Man City Carabao Cup final because of Arsene Wenger.” Jack Otway has news on just what Wenger has done to Ramsay, dealing a “hammer blow” to Arsenal’s chances of winning the trophy.

Reading on and we discover that Wenger has done…nothing. But we do get this:

The Sun say Arsene Wenger has already decided Ramsey will not be risked against Guardiola’s men.

Over in the Sun, then, for news of the “RAMBLOW”. Ramsey is “set miss Carabao Cup Final”. It’s an “exclusive”.

So Ramsay is out. But, hold on. Whose that training with the Gunners?  The Express identifies him:

 

Spotted? The Express is happy to quote the Sun’s “exclusive” that Ramsay is out – defo – but forgot to mention the bit where the Sun says: “And though he has been working hard in training to prove his fitness for Wembley, boss Arsene Wenger is unwilling to gamble on the Welsh star.”

As the Express mines two clickbait stories from one Sun “exclusive”, Wenger tells media: “Ramsey is not in the squad for tomorrow [Arsenal’s Europa League Cup match]. He had a good training session but he is short for tomorrow. We will see how his evolution goes now until Sunday. I don’t rule him out yet. It depends how well he can improve the intensity of training.”

Such are the facts.

Posted: 22nd, February 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports | Comment


Jennifer Lawrence’s puckered flesh gives Red Sparrow a leg up

Jennifer Lawrence showed some skin as she lined up with her Red Sparrow co-stars for a press call. The men showed no skin. The Mail  says the looks sparked “controversy on social media”. Helen Lewis, for one, was upset by what came to be called – get this – “WarmCoatGate”.

 

 

Not that Lewis, the Deputy editor @newstatesman, was outside to promote a film. Some clothes are best for popping to shops, others are good for gardening or climbing Everest. Some are good at getting attention.

The Mail couldn’t resist editorialising, telling readers that Jennifer Lawrence “appears to be shivering in a plunging Versace dress”. You can tell if someone’s shivering from a still? Maybe the cold is why the four man are all sporting coats and beards. Maybe the beards are viewed as part of what it is to be a man, just as Lawrence’s cleavage is essentially feminine?

Lawrence got wind of people voicing their disapproval. “This is not only utterly ridiculous, I am extremely offended,” she writes on Facebook. “That Versace dress was fabulous, you think I’m going to cover that gorgeous dress up with a coat and a scarf? I was outside for 5 minutes. I would have stood in the snow for that dress because I love fashion and that was my choice.”

Get a load of all that freedom. And then get another big stinky load of the righteous trying to work out if you can have freedom and enforced equality.

In other news: attractive actress in revealing dress gets film lots of attention. Read all about it!

Posted: 22nd, February 2018 | In: Celebrities, Film, Key Posts, News | Comment