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News | Anorak - Part 4

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Sheffield University hires students to work as thought police

“Getting a job whilst at University is a great way to gain work experience and develop your employability skills,” says the University of Sheffield. So hands up which 20 students want to earn £9.34 per hour policing your peers?

The University of Sheffield will pay students to face down “microaggressions”. Come again? Tsk! Ignorance is no excuse. The university tells us they are “subtle but offensive comments”.

To help you understand better how you unwittingly caused offence and are at heart a racist, the job description features these examples of phrases that mark you out as bad:

“Stop making everything a race issue”
“Why are you searching for things to be offended about?”
“Where are you really from?”
“I don’t want to hear about your holiday to South Africa. It’s nowhere near where I’m from”
“Being compared to black celebrities that I look nothing like”

Telling on or correcting people who use such phrase will be “opening up a conversation”. Presumably, the 20 race champions will have to eavesdrop on chatter, have remarkably good hearing and be blessed with the right kind of thoughts.

It’s pretty easy to see what could go wrong. A misheard word, the nark’s own prejudices, or a comment taken out of context could create problems. Better no-one speaks. And if you could all curtail your sex lives to watching porn alone, so much the better. Here’s to a brighter tomorrow!

Posted: 15th, January 2020 | In: News | Comment


God bless Victoria Agoglia : Charlene Downes is still missing

Victoria Agoglia

So now we know. The BBC puts it well: “Social workers investigating child sex exploitation in Manchester knew children were suffering ‘the most profound abuse… but did not protect them’.” Why not? And where is Charlene Downes, the teenager who vanished in Blackpool?

After a child’s death in 2003, police identified at least 97 “predominantly Asian” suspects, but “very few” faced justice, the independent review found. The police operation was “prematurely closed down” after senior officers decided to “remove resources”, it said.

We only know about this because the media got involved. Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham commissioned the report after the BBC broadcast The Betrayed Girls in 2017. The show shone a light on Victoria Agoglia. The teenager was placed in the case of Manchester City Council after her mother died. Victoria died after being injected with heroin by an”older Asian man”. Before she died, over the course of 18 months Victoria told adults in positions of trust that she was being abused, raped and plied with drugs by paedophiles. In 2004, a 50-year-old man was cleared of her manslaughter. He admitted two offences of injecting her with heroin and was jailed.

The Guardian reported on her death:

Manchester city council is investigating how Victoria Agoglia, known to her family and friends as Vicky Byrne, managed to run away from her care home and take the drug. She moved to a house on the outskirts of Rochdale in April with a team of residential care workers who were supervising her 24 hours a day. She absconded in the middle of last week, before she took the drug, and became ill on Saturday morning… Shortly after she was admitted to hospital, a man of 50 and a woman of 29 were arrested. They were released on police bail.

And what did the police do? Well, they looked busy. The GMP launched Operation Augusta. It would tackle “the sexual exploitation throughout a wide area of a significant number of children in the care system by predominantly Asian men”. It spotted at least 57 children “as potential victims” and up to 97 “persons of interest” involved in the crimes against them. They identified eight men who had gone on to commit rapes against children. And then they shut the thing down. The BBC notes, “one suspect vehicle uncovered in the initial investigation was linked to a GMP officer, who was later dismissed from the force.”

And what of the council? The Manchester Evening News wrote in 2007:

Simon Crabtree, representing Manchester City Council, said: “In the context of guidance there was nothing further the local authority could have done to prevent Vicky’s untimely demise … Vicky clearly was a child who by conventional standards behaved in a way in which many children and young people would not behave, and in a way which parents would not, or at least should not approve. However that does not make her an unworthy individual, quite the contrary, she had many redeeming qualities. She was not ‘bad’ but misguided in her youth”

And:

Coroner Simon Nelson, giving a narrative verdict, said: “Vicky was a vulnerable young person who died of opiate intoxication following a lethal ingestion of heroin. The local authority should have properly anticipated Vicky Byrne’s propensity to abscond, abuse drugs and alcohol and mix with inappropriate people. However, no inference can be made that these events were foreseeable. Her death was not the result of a breach of the council’s protective duty.”

Police had received this note written by Victoria and “ignored” by police:

“I am only 13. I got the rest of my life ahead of me. I have slept with people older than me. Half of them I don’t even know there [sic] names.”

And get this from 2013:

Margaret Oliver, a former detective constable, quit the force in disgust over the way three separate inquiries into gangs of men having sex with underage girls were handled. In one instance, an aborted foetus from a 13-year-old abuse victim was kept in an evidence store after officers took it without the mother’s knowledge or consent. Officers established the identity of the father — a married Pakistani taxi driver in his thirties — through DNA evidence in February 2009 but did not charge him for almost two years. Oliver, who has been commended for her work during murder and gang crime inquiries and who worked on sex abuse investigations in 2004 and 2010, later broke the news to the 13-year-old and her mother that the foetus had been retained. She believes that hundreds of cases of alleged abuse were mishandled or ignored by Greater Manchester police (GMP).

This new report notes:

 “(Victoria’s) exposure to sexual exploitation by adult males was known to police and social services and, despite the risk of significant harm caused by the men who were sexually exploiting her, statutory child protection procedures, which should have been deployed to protect her, were not utilised and the strategies put in place to protect Victoria were wholly inadequate.”

Children are ignored. Poor children are seen as fair game and damned. We know some of what happened then. What’s happening now?

Posted: 14th, January 2020 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Paris Museums pushes 100,000 gorgeous images into the public domain

Paris Museums pushes 100,000 gorgeous images into the public domain

Paris Musées has made available 100,000 works of art. You an see them on their website. Fill your boots on the usual suspects – Rembrandt, Monet, Picasso, Cézanne – and thousands of lesser known artists.

Hyperallergic:

Paris Musées is a public entity that oversees the 14 municipal museums of Paris, including the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Petit Palais, and the Catacombs.Users can download a file that contains a high definition (300 DPI) image, a document with details about the selected work, and a guide of best practices for using and citing the sources of the image.

“Making this data available guarantees that our digital files can be freely accessed and reused by anyone or everyone, without any technical, legal or financial restraints, whether for commercial use or not,” reads a press release shared by Paris Musées.

Spotter: Flashbak

Posted: 14th, January 2020 | In: News, The Consumer | Comment


US newspaper mistakes Iraq for Iran

herald-times iraq

The Herald-Times in Bloomington, Indiana, reported that Iraq had attacked US soldiers in the country. The apology was almost as swift as the attacks: “To our loyal and treasured print subscribers: We owe you this letter, and our deepest apologies for the error. A single character can make a huge difference.”

Posted: 14th, January 2020 | In: News | Comment


Naff Orf: papers react to Meghan and Harry meeting The Queen

The papers all lead with Harry and Meghan’s meeting with his grandma, the Queen. But what kind of picture will sum up the news that she says they can settle in Canada?

The Metro and Telegraph lead with an image of familial love. Although with Her Majesty’s “reluctance” to agree to the Sussex’s resignation to the fore, the Telegraph’s kiss has a Mafia feel.

harry meghan front -pages
harry meghan front -pages

The Sun shows a beaming Harry and Meghan waving us a cheerio – she turning her back on being an also-ran in the Princess Anne brood mare stakes; he eschewing the chance to be the next Prince Eddie or Andy. The Queen is stoic.

harry meghan front -pages

There are three people in this relationship – and only one of them is happy on the Express’s cover. Harry has the mien of a London estate agent wondering about his bonus; the Queen looks fierce; Meghan is chuffed to bits. The Guardian also shows only one of them smiling – Meghan.

The Mail can’t bare to look at the couple’s faces as they upset the matriarch. They can go. They are no longer relevant. And you can read about their irrelevancy over eight pages.

The Times opts for an image of Prince William’s chin and mouth. He is tight-lipped. “Defender,” says the legend on his car. Wills is the big winner here. Harry and Meghan can flog perfumes and a range of Canadian products: weed, syrup and wood. But it will be Wills who gets to see his head on coins and stamps in the coming years. He gets the real money.

harry meghan front -pages f

And the Star? It goes for three puns.

harry meghan front -pages f

Next up: will Meghan play herself in The Crown? And can a chocolate teapot ever really replace Harry?

Posted: 14th, January 2020 | In: Broadsheets, News, Royal Family, Tabloids | Comment


BBC shortchange women : Samira Ahmed wins £700,000 backpay

Hold your ire about what the Royals cost, and know that the BBC have been forced by law to hand one its presenters, Samira Ahmed, £700,000 in backpay in a discrimination equal pay case.

Ahmed (female; £440 per episode) claimed she was underpaid for hosting audience write-in show Newswatch when compared with Jeremy Vine (male; £3,000 per episode)) who earned shedloads more for hosting audience write-in show Points of View. The Beeb said he gets more because he’s more widely known and so gets picked to present a more widely-watched show.

The judgment ruled: “Her work on Newswatch was like Jeremy Vine’s work on Points of View under section 65(1) of the Equality Act 2010… [the BBC] has not shown that the difference in pay was because of a material factor which did not involve subjecting the claimant [Ahmed] to sex discrimination”.

The BBC goes on the record: “We’ll need to consider this judgment carefully. We know tribunals are never a pleasant experience for anyone involved. We want to work together with Samira to move on in a positive way.”

Or to put it another way: the BBC made her sweat, spunked a load of cash on lawyers and then lost. And you, the licence-fee payer, funded it. Now wait for Samira’s predecessor, a man, to ask for his backpay. And the rest of us can wonder why Vine was paid so much.

Posted: 10th, January 2020 | In: Money, News, TV & Radio | Comment


Prince Charles ‘incandescent with rag’ [sic] says Daily Mail as Harry and Meghan go full celebrity

By now you’ll be wondering what Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have been up to. Well, after a six-week holiday (Canada) and resignation from the Family to become full-time celebrities, they’ve been upsetting Prince Charles and Prince William. The Mail reports that both are “incandescent with rag”. Which rag is not said. But let’s hope it’s not that one!

prince harry meghan markel  daily mail

Kate Middleton is 38.

Posted: 9th, January 2020 | In: News, Royal Family, Tabloids | Comment


So Long Meghan and Prince Harry – can you take Andrew and the Yorkies with you?

beatrice eugenie

Royals are lining up to replace The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who have announced they will step back as “senior” royals and work to become financially independent. It’s the moment the Yorks have been waiting for, surely.

Princess Eugenie cost us a few million in security when she married last year in a televised event. But Eugenie never gelled with the public. Prince Andrew honourably tried to promote his girls and keep the York torch burning by appearing on the BBC in a one-on-one interview. It had worked for Diana when she sat down to chat with Martin Bashir. But whereas Diana came across as likeable, abused and isolated, he came across as an entailed prig who’d been mates with a prolific paedophile.

Diana perished in a car crash. Andrew created a car crash of his own and tried to creep away unscathed.

Maybe Meghan Markle’s abdication from guest editing Vogue as a Royal to guest editing Vogue as a celebrity, becoming the kind of Hollywood star Liz Hurley pretends to be as Harry demures and self-deprecates at her side, can provide the distraction Andrew needs to get away and push his kids and brand to the fore?

The Mail has 17 pages on Harry and Meghan’s decision to do what those in the know call “not the done thing”. People who know what done things are include: anyone who says “gels”; anyone who can recognise a horse from a pony; anyone who knows which spoon is proper to scoop out a serving wench’s foetus. The rest of us wonder why any one of these minted toffs are on the public payroll and if the Sussex’s pile we paid a couple of million quid to do up will now provide shelter for the homeless?

Meanwhile, what of Princess Beatrice, the other Yorkie, notable until now for having once worn a hat modelled on a vampire quid’s entrails, eating a pizza and, well, anyone got anything else? But worry not because Beatrice’s story is to swell. She is to marry a property developer. Neither the BBC nor ITV plan to broadcast the wedding live. But in this busy media landscape they’re not all, and any one of Netflix, Amazon or Dave could step in and fill the void between reruns of Cash in the Attic.

Farewell, then, Meghan and Harry. Your leaving is a new beginning for the Royal Family. And if you can take the rest of the hanger-ones and freeloaders with you, perhaps as part of a US trade deal with the post-Brexit UK, we’ll consider the chlorinated chicken a fair exchange for Princess Michael of Kent.

Posted: 9th, January 2020 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, News, Royal Family | Comment


Government wants to stop FA selling rights to betting companies

The Government is worried that people who look to the Football Association for moral direction are being let down by the organisation’s decision to sell FA Cup broadcast rights via a third party to Bet365. Nicky Morgan, for one was aghast. The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport tweeted: “I hope they will reconsider.”

You can watch lots of dogs and horses racing along tracks in the bookies, as well as darts, tennis and squash. But something about football always upsets the righteous.

To watch the game on Bet365’s app or website, fans must first place a bet or deposit money into an account. In short, you pay. But unlike watching football, say, on the BBC, you pay and have a chance to win your money back or turn a profit. If that sounds a bit like an advert for gambling, it isn’t meant to be. And it’s way too subtle. Gambling adverts are loud. They challenge men to measure their worth by circling the plughole in a pissing contest with Ray Winstone, women to have ‘a bit of fun’ with a furry, and children tuning in to pre-watershed telly to know that betting is normal and synonymous with “good causes”.

Sports minister Nigel Adams tells us: “The gambling landscape has changed since this deal was signed in early 2017. All sports bodies need to be mindful of the impact that problem gambling can have on the most vulnerable.”

Does he mean that the “most vulnerable” who won’t watch the footy on the BBC – having paid a license fee on pain of law – but on the web? This is hard cheese on rough sleepers, the homeless and anyone in locked inside secure mental healthy facilities miles from home. The Government is not worried about those kind of vulnerables. It is worried about, well, who? And how serious is the Government about curtailing gambling?

According to one auditor, the UK betting industry is worth £6bn a year and employs 100,000 people. “The figures, equivalent to 0.5% of UK gross domestic product (GDP) and 0.3% of total UK employment respectively, are published in a study entitled The Full Picture commissioned by Ladbrokes to illustrate the industry’s value to the UK economy.”

A sizeable chunk of the cash goes to Bet365 founder Denise Coates, who paid herself £323m last year. All taxed. All honest. All above board. Which is more than you can say for a Government, which does business with all manner of interesting companies and unenlightened regimes but demands football and footballers teach the vulnerable the right path.

It’s almost as if they want us to talk about the easy stuff and avoid the bigger questions which should demand more attention.

Posted: 8th, January 2020 | In: News | Comment


Meet Bowie the Cat

Bowie the cat was rescued in Spain. Bowie now lives with Maria Lloret in Alicante. You can follow his life on Instagram.

Bowie cat

Spotter: Healthy Food House

Posted: 8th, January 2020 | In: News | Comment


Reporters on pilgrimage to meet Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg

Pilgrims to the Greek Cycladic island of Tinos in the Aegean Sea venerate the Virgin Mary’s ascent to heaven at the Feast of the Assumption, by crawling on hands and knees to an icon of the Virgin stood in a church atop a hill. “Some slither the half-mile on their bellies, poling themselves forward with their elbows in the manner of besieged soldiers creeping through underbrush, ” writes Rosemary Mahoney. “Some lie across the street and, like horizontal dervishes, roll themselves slowly up the gradual incline across stones baked torrid by the August sun. As they proceed they pray for miracles and for mercy… Once before the icon they prostrate themselves in a rapture of spiritual desire.”

Back in the UK, the Guardian tells its readers: “BBC put presenter on a plane to interview Greta Thunberg – Sarah Sands, editor of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, admits it ‘felt awkward’.” So how should you journey to meet the globe-totting teenage climate evangelist who avoids even the occasional use of aviation fuel?

Thunberg was a guest editor on the Radio 4’s Today programme. The BBC dispatched presenter Mishal Husain on a return flight to Sweden to interview her. Programme editor Sarah Sands tells the Sunday Times: “We did discuss that among ourselves. It felt awkward but we did not have the time for trains or boats.”

Sands then delivers the kind of line the Pope would consider a bit pious: “Greta is not actually judgmental towards individuals, accepting that other people will not all conform to her high standards and asking only for people to do what they can.”

We don’t know if Thunberg or her people enquired how the BBC would be getting from the UK to Sweden, and if the mode of transport met with their approval. And we also don’t know if BBC reporters will be required to adopt the tastes, beliefs and prejudices of their subjects or explain further in the press if they were not met – but maybe in the purist of truth and objectivity, they should.

Posted: 29th, December 2019 | In: News | Comment


All Good Things : buy Stephen Ellcock prints

Stephen Ellcock prints All Good Things Flashbak

The new shop at Flashbak features prints curated by Stephen Ellcock. Curated is an overused word – up there on the list of hackneyed tosh with ‘holistic’, a word used to describe anything from a therapy suite’s range of revolving-door services to finger painting at primary school, and ‘edited’, which is a bit like curated but can be used to describe the starters in restaurant menus. But curating is what Stephen does. His new book, All Good Things, is a delight. And many of the prints in that lovely bestseller are available to buy in the Flashbak Shop.

The prints are on gorgeous, archival paper. And worldwide shipping is free. Buy your gorgeous prints here.

Posted: 23rd, December 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, The Consumer | Comment


White academic says ‘geek’ should be a hate crime on par with racism

When you hear that an academic has said calling someone a “brainbox” or “geek” should be classed as a hate crime, do you think they’re anything but white? Dr Sonja Falck, of the University of East London, says: “Insulting slurs about age, disability, religion and gender identity remained in widespread use until relatively recently. Society at the time turned a blind eye to their impact by passing them off as harmless banter. It is only with the benefit of hindsight that we realise how wrong we were. The same can be said about anti-IQ words like nerd, brainbox, geek, egg-head, smart-arse and dweeb.”

Got that? Anti-semitic slurs – race hatred against the Jews; a grim story backed by hundreds of years of persecution (the Inquisition; pogroms; the Holocaust) – were “until recently” “harmless banter” on a par with calling someone “brainy”. Calling a black woman a n***** – a word constructed on enduring racist policies that sought to cast blacks as sub-humans, offering a State-endorsed acceptable excuse when they were raped, tortured and murdered by their colonisers and owners; the systematic horror of slavery that lasted for centuries; institutional racism in the police force – is on a par with calling the bloke who did well at maths a “geek”. Verbally abusing a disabled person – the ugly, murderous mistreatment of the disabled is a scar on humanity – is no worse than calling you a “dweeb”, or the “D-word”, as we should call it.

Dr Falck is billed as a “Harley Street psychotherapist”. Her new book is called Extreme Intelligence. It is “a study of discrimination against those with very high IQs”.

Do we now talk about what IQ tests are, if they’re worth a dime and how they impact on thoughts around eugenics and race?

The only way a comment on intelligence can ever be prejudicial is when people look at the demise of Jeremy Corbyn’s racist Labour Party and tell you those “clever Jews” were behind it. Anything else is idiotic.

Posted: 18th, December 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Strange But True | Comment


Nativity play angel gives everyone the finger for 20 minutes

“It was so funny because she didn’t realise what she was doing,” says the mother of the nativity play angel who for 20 minutes gave the crowd of parents, guardians , teachers and classmates the finger. Carla adds that Ella was trying to show mum her hangnail.

“It was pretty much for the majority of it she was there with her middle finger up,” says Carla. “Because I didn’t run over there she kept holding it up as if she was saying, ‘mum, look!’.

Mum did not respond to Ella’s finger by raising her own, either in solidarity or response. She did take a few photos. It being what Jesus would have wanted…

Posted: 18th, December 2019 | In: News, Strange But True | Comment


Arsenal smack down Ozil on China; Kroenke holidays in Rwanda

Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil says China’s treatment of Uighur Muslims is abhorrent. It is. He says the Uighurs are “warriors who resist persecution”. He then added on the Chinese microblog Weibo, where he has over 4m followers: “[In China] Qurans are burned, mosques were closed down, Islamic theological schools, madrasas were banned, religious scholars were killed one by one. Despite all this, Muslims stay quiet.”

So upset was China that the state broadcaster CCTV banned the broadcast of Arsenal’s Premier League game against Manchester City. (To anyone watching in China, Arsenal won 4-1 and were magnificent.)

“China’s Communist Party propaganda outlets can censor Mesut Özil and Arsenal’s game all season long, but the truth will prevail,” says US secretary of state Mike Pompeo. “The CCP can’t hide its gross human rights violations perpetrated against Uighurs and other religious faiths from the world.”

The United Nations says as many as 2m Uighur Muslims have been locked up in Xinjiang. Beijing calls it an antiterrorism campaign. Detaining that many people sounds like something far more sinister.

China’s Foreign Ministry says Özil “had been completely deceived by fake news and false statements”. Fans in China have been burning Arsenal shirts.

Arsenal backed their man to the hilt. Er, no. They caved, commenting on Chinese social media: “The content he expressed is entirely Özil’s personal opinion.” The club that’s now the London office of Kroenke inc, then guffed: “Arsenal has always adhered to the principle of not involving itself in politics.” Good-oh. Josh Kroenke can read up on how to look the other way when he’s taking his holidays in Rwanda.

Here’s what Human Rights Watch has to say about the country Arsenal advertise on their shirts:

Tight restrictions on freedom of speech and political space remain in place, contrasting with solid results on economic development. Amendments to the constitution allowing President Paul Kagame to stand for a third term were approved in a referendum in December 2015. Kagame announced he would run for a third term. The government continues to limit the ability of opposition parties and civil society groups to function freely and independently in advance of the August 2017 presidential elections. Pro-government views dominate domestic media. Journalists who dare to question the official narrative are harassed or arrested. The authorities detained people unlawfully in unofficial detention centers; some were held incommunicado and tortured.

If you’re not going to back Ozil and say that importing British football means importing British values, then best to say nothing. Arsenal stuffed up – again.

Posted: 17th, December 2019 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment


Labour is dead: the horror of anti-racists backing Corbyn and throwing Jews under the bus

Corbyn anti-semitism

Did you turn the other cheek to racism and vote for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party? Or did you look at the party’s abhorrent treatment of Jews and rather than self-declare yourself an enemy of racism with a hashtag, T-shirt or ermine gown decide to act and not vote for a party being investigated for institutional racism? In living memory of the Holocaust, did you turn your back on British Jews when they needed you? Or did you spend years telling others to vote Labour? Are you an avowed anti-racist who voted Labour?

This isn’t to say everyone who voted for Corbyn’s Labour is an anti-semite. Millions of voters considered other things to be more important. Others could see no evidence of anti-Jewish racism at all. But what about people who are woke into racism, who call it out when they see it but backed Labour?

Corbyn had his fans:

The Guardian backed Corbyn and Labour. But now they want to explain:

Guardian labour corbyn
The Guardian says vote Labour
Guardian labour corbyn
The Guardian says Labour is crap

On December 10th, the Guardian told us to vote for Corbyn in a lengthy editorial. The paper had this to say about Labour and British Jews. Look out for the bit about having zero tolerance on racism and that ‘but…’

Mr Corbyn’s own unpopularity could also scupper Labour in this election. His obdurate handling of the antisemitism crisis has disrupted the message of hope. Anything less than zero tolerance against racism tarnishes Labour’s credentials as an anti-racist organisation. The pain and hurt within the Jewish community, and the damage to Labour, are undeniable and shaming. Yet Labour remains indispensable to progressive politics.

Maybe racism can be used to stop Brexit and the Tories?

After an incident at the Manchester Derby, TV pundit Gary Neveille opined:

“You are watching the prime minister’s debate where he is talking about migration to this country and people having to have certain levels. It fuels it all the time. It has got worse over the last few years in this country and not just in football… [A fan] thinks he can come to a game and racially abuse someone playing football. It is disgusting. It is terrible and something has to be done. It is not just about banning him from football. Everyone has a responsibility… We always judge other countries on how they deal with racism but we are poor with dealing with it ourselves.”

Gary Neville is no friend to bigots. Good. He made his point. He’s certainly not an anti-semite. So why this, then?

A vote for Labour gave succour to anti-semites. Had Corbyn won, people now saying he was a horror show would have cheered. And Jews would have felt even more isolated and fearful. But no matter about them, right, so long as the trains run on time, who cares..?

Posted: 15th, December 2019 | In: News | Comment


Voltaire’s Mirror: Ruth Smeeth slaughters Jeremy Corbyn

labour

“The mirror is a worthless invention. The only way to truly see yourself is in the reflection of someone else’s eyes” – Voltaire.

Image: The Arrival of the Jarrow Marchers in London, Viewed from an Interior – Thomas Cantrell Dugdale, 1936

Posted: 14th, December 2019 | In: News, Politicians | Comment


Diane Abbott wears two left shoes – what utter tosh

diane abbott left shoes
The lady is for turning

Out on the campaign trail with her fellow Labour MP for Hackney Meg Hillier, shadow home secretary Diane Abbott was pictured on Twitter apparently wearing two left shoes. She is fashion forward. And if you cannot keep up with her trendsetting, wait a while and she’ll circle back again. But surely this is fake? Not so says the Telegraph, which reports it as fact.

Diane Abbott shoes
A ‘mystery’
Diane Abbott shoes

Why is the paper of record so lacking in circumspection? Sad stuff when the Press becomes monocular and far from right.

Other photos of the day show her wearing a more conventional pair of shoes.

diane abbott left shoes
“Typical patriarchy focusing on what a woman wears”

Imagine being the subject of such fakery and bad reporting. Just horrible.

Posted: 12th, December 2019 | In: News, Politicians | Comment


‘Harbinger Customers’ back failed politicians and buy bad products – identifying the postcode losers

harbinger customers

Is it peer pressure, rebellion, a herd mentality or something else? The Dace Mirror introduces us to “harbinger customers” who live in “harbinger zip codes”. They buy unpopular products and back losers in elections. They do this often enough to suggest a pattern of behaviour.

First, the findings document the existence of “harbinger zip codes.” If households in these zip codes adopt a new product, this is a signal that the new product will fail. Second, a series of comparisons reveal that households in harbinger zip codes make other decisions that differ from other households. The first comparison identifies harbinger zip codes using purchases from one retailer and then evaluates purchases at a different retailer. Households in harbinger zip codes purchase products from the second retailer that other households are less likely to purchase. The analysis next compares donations to congressional election candidates; households in harbinger zip codes donate to different candidates than households in neighboring zip codes, and they donate to candidates who are less likely to win. House prices in harbinger zip codes also increase at slower rates than in neighboring zip codes.history

Are these people the outsiders, societal outliers? Are they the ones who think outside the box?

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the harbinger customer effect is that the signal extends across CPG categories. Customers who purchase new oral care products that flop also tend to purchase new haircare products that flop. Anderson et al. (2015) interpret their findings as evidence that customers who have unusual preferences in one product category also tend to have unusual preferences in other categories. In other words, the customers who liked Diet Crystal Pepsi also tended to like Colgate Kitchen Entrees (which also flopped).

Fortune does not always favour the brave.

Spotter: bb

Posted: 12th, December 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, The Consumer | Comment


Caroll Spinney as Big Bird sings ‘Bein’ Green’ at Jim Henson’s funeral

Caroll Edwin Spinney (December 26, 1933 – December 8, 2019) gave life to Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street from its inception in 1969 until 2018.

On May 16, 1990, Muppet creator Jim Henson died. That following July, at a memorial service for the great entertainer held at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, Spinney, dressed a Big Bird, sang Bein’ Green, the song Kermit the frog made famous. Stay tuned til the end. It’s heart-warming.

Posted: 9th, December 2019 | In: Celebrities, News | Comment


Senior quotes from a 1911 high school yearbook

Senior quotes from a 1911 high school yearbook

Here’s a lovely old selection of words and aspirations explaining how three students in 1911 saw their lives.

Spotter: Flashbak

Posted: 5th, December 2019 | In: News, Strange But True | Comment


Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers checks his DNA

No chance, then, that Brendan Rodgers will leave Leicester City, a team vying for the title and a Champions League place mid-stream. “I’ll give my life to make the supporters proud of their club,” Rodgers said when he joined Leicester having left Celtic half-way through a season with another domestic trouble on the cards.

The trick for Rodgers, for whom Arsenal is cooed as his “dream club”, is to make Leicester believe his departure is inevitable, the dancing of a talented and ambitious man. The Leicester owners are unsentimental, as the dismissal of title winner Claudio Ranieri proves. They might respect a man who wants to go on to bigger things, having served his time at Watford, Reading and Swansea City before be came within a Steven Gerrard slip of winning the title with Liverpool.

For now, of course, Arsenal are being coached by Freddie Ljungberg, who says he’ll accept Arsene Wenger’s offer of a chat before the Gunners play Brighton. They might discuss Josh Kroenke, the owner’s son sent to Big Co’s provincial London outposts to protect the brand. Kroenke pressed flesh at the club’s training ground last week, barfing out Ljungberg having “Arsenal DNA”. If having Arsenal hard-wired into your genetic code is the recipe for an Arsenal boss, then Kroenke fails his own test. A peek into any Kroenke blood sample would most likely the codes for bank accounts.

Does Rodgers have Arsenal DNA? Did Unai Emery? Maybe examining their stools can tell Josh more about what the future holds for his project. Because right now, he look clueless.

Posted: 4th, December 2019 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment


Hypocrisy! France bemoans US trade tariffs; France wants British trade tariffs

France is upset that the US is thinking about imposing trade tariffs on French cheese, fizz, make-up and handbags. France wants to tax US business. A US ruling into French plans tells us:

The U.S. Trade Representative has completed the first segment of its investigation under section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 and concluded that France’s Digital Services Tax (DST) discriminates against U.S. companies, is inconsistent with prevailing principles of international tax policy, and is unusually burdensome for affected U.S. companies. Specifically, USTR’s investigation found that the French DST discriminates against U.S. digital companies, such as Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon

Messy. And hypocritical of the French, mais no? If France believes tariffs are wrong, it should argue for free trade deal between the EU and the the post-Brexit UK. But it isn’t.

Posted: 4th, December 2019 | In: Money, News, Politicians | Comment


Labour pro-diversity video fails Jews – Corbyn gives succour to anti-Semites

Labour Jews

There are only a relatively few Jewish voters. That might be why in the Labour Party’s video celebrating its commitment towards protecting diversity it makes not mention of Jews either specifically or my implication.

The Labour Party is under formal investigation by The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) over whether the party has “unlawfully discriminated against, harassed or victimised people because they are Jewish.” You might think it would make an effort to allay fears among the Jews that Labour gives succour to anti-Semitism. But not. The advert features a voiceover by Dawn Butler, the shadow equalities secretary. She says goes down a list of people Labour will protect.

Jonathan Goldstein, chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council, says the absence of Jews from the list of minority groups worth protecting is “extraordinary and chilling.”

So why not take the chance to mend relationships in the video?

A vote for Corbyn is a vote for anti-Semitism. The very reals fear is that Corbyn gives racists a platform. He legitimises their rabid bigotry.

Last week at a provincial train station coming back from work, a woman – 60s, white, plainly dressed – started talking with me as I flicked through the day’s papers. She detected a sneer. I said it was for Corbyn. She asked why and said she loathes Johnson for his Islamophobia. She pressed me on Corbyn. So I told her many people believe he’s a racist, and not without evidence. She then – I kid you not – told me: “But his whole life has been dedicated to fighting racism.” But not for Jews, I told her. They are beyond his love.

She then proceeded to explain what antisemitism was and how ‘Zionists’ operate. She used her fingers and lay out her point, explaining nuances between hatred of one sort of Jews (bad Jews – the left index finger) and hatred of another sort (good Jews – the right index finger). Her fingers tapped the counter we were stood close to with force. Attacking ‘Jeremy’ was, she told me, a smear cooked up by those (uniquely barbaric) bad Jews. The good Jews realise their in-house errors and seek to be better Jews (ie: realise they are bad and should learn ‘English irony’).

She was an anti-Semite. That much was plain. Her’s was the casual anti-Semitism of the English provincial parlour, of GK Chesterton and Agatha Christie; the othering of the British Jews as loyalists to a foreign land. I told her it’s not the existence of anti-Semitism that upset me – it exists; move on; grow up; call the bastards out – but the fact that Corbyn could be the country’s leader and give succour to people like her to voice their prejudice without fear of censure.

A vote for him is a vote for anti-Semitism. Simple.

Posted: 2nd, December 2019 | In: News | Comment


Hero fought terrorist on London Bridge with huge Narwhal tusk

Narwhal tusk

Two people were murdered today in another attack on London. The killer was brought to a standstill and taken to the ground by passers-by on London Bridge.

Amy Coop was there. She tweets: “A guy who was with us at Fishmongers Hall took a 5’ narwhale [sic] tusk from the wall and went out to confront the attacker.”

Tour guide Stevie Hurst helped restrain the attacker. He spoke to BBC radio. “We saw a guy being accosted to the floor,” he said, adding that people were “screaming” the attacker had “stabbed a couple of women”.

“Everyone was just on top of him trying to bundle him to the ground,” he added.

“We saw that the knife was still in his hand… I just put a foot in to try and kick him in the head.We were trying to do as much as we could to try and dislodge the knife from his hand so he wouldn’t harm anyone else.

“The guys that were there were absolutely amazing. Heroes beyond belief.”

The suspect was shot dead by police.

Posted: 29th, November 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Strange But True | Comment