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Italy dips into recession; UK out-performs EU; BBC ignores figures

Italy dips into recession; UK out-performs EU; BBC ignores figures

Something is missing from the BBC’s report on the Italian economy slipping into recession. In the final quarter of 2018, the Italian economy shrank by 0.2%. That followed a 0.1% decline in the third quarter. The BBC tells us:

Growth in the euro area remained at 0.2% in the final quarter of 2018, the same as the previous quarter and in line with analysts’ expectations.

Bad news, then. Time to leave the EU. But hold on because the BBC has more news:

The figures, issued by the Eurostat agency, showed that in the 28-nation EU as a whole, fourth-quarter growth was 0.3%.

That figure includes the UK – which is leaving the EU. But the BBC doesn’t mention the UK’s economy anywhere in its report. It only says:

In contrast to Italy, some other eurozone economies expanded more than expected, with France and Spain posting growth rates of 0.3% and 0.7% quarter-on-quarter respectively.

In the third quarter of 2018, the UK economy grew by 0.6%. The next quarter looks to have produced a rise of 0.4%. Why doesn’t the BBC think this important to mention? Might it have something to do with Brexit, and how Remain-supporting MPs told us a vote for Leave was a vote for a deep recession? George Osborne told us every household would be £4,300 worse off by 2030 if we voted Leave. We didn’t. And we’re not.

Posted: 31st, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, Money, News | Comment


Arsenal Transfer Balls: Christopher Nkunku in balance; Yannick Carrasco and Ivan Perisic want to come

Arsenal won’t be parading Ivan Perisic and Yannick Carrasco before their next match. The BBC says any deals to take one of them to the club this transfer window is dead. The Gunners will muddle along without a top-class, proven winger. Arsenal tried hard for Perisic, offering to pay Inter Milan a penalty fine should the player arrive now but the club be unable to buy him in the summer. Inter want the transfer fee today.

Perisic wants to leave Inter. The club’s fans want him to go. And Arsenal want him to come. Which makes you wonder what Inter’s plan is? Sell the Croatian at the season’s end when he’ll be 30 and worth less than the £35m they want Arsenal to cough up?

Option B is for the Gunners to take Yannick Carrasco on loan. Arsenal only want to pay his wages with an option to buy in the summer. Carrasco wants to leave Chinese club Dalian Yifang and return to Europe. But Arsenal’s bid was deemed too low. Can they up it in the final hours of the transfer window? Can their moneybags, absentee owner Stan Kroenke lob them a few million? No chance. Arsenal are just another asset in his portfolio. Gunners fans should be grateful he’s not relocated the club to a different state. He’ll pay nothing from his own purse.

Arsenal need a winger. But do they really need PSG’s Christopher Nkunku? A bid has been made. But PSG don’t need the money. Maybe they’ll want Mesut Ozil as part of the deal? Maybe…

As for the future, well, Arsenal says they’ll have loads money in the summer. Yep – we’ve heard it before, usually just before season ticket renewal time. When Wenger and the board sat on that huge pile of cash for season after season, settling for a top-four spot, it was always jam tomorrow. Now they’re out of the Champions League and money is tighter the need to invest is paramount.

Posted: 31st, January 2019 | In: News | Comment


Brexit: May the appeaser becomes ‘Our Theresa’ in the tabloids

‘SHE’ who must be obeyed

Any idea what the tabloids made of yesterday’s vote in which MPs despatched the PM to Brussels to ask the EU to renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement – you know, that deal she agreed and her peers thought was crap; the one the same MPs voted down by a record margin of defeat for a serving Government a whole two weeks ago? Take a look. The tabloids it. They love “Theresa” (Mail), “She” who must be obeyed (Express) and a pretty chipper public school “May” (Mirror).

Theresa the Wheezer is limping to the finishing line. Theresa the Squeezer is eking out every last drop of credibility for her fudge. Or how about any one of Caesar, freezer, pleaser, teaser, appeaser, bumfreezer, displeaser, misfeasor, tranquilizar and any other pun the tabloids could have employed to ridicule the painfully absurd state of British politics?

Remainers and Brexiteers like to promote themselves as opposing sides in a frenzied, thrusting debate. But both camps are united only in their introversion, a chamber of inward looking dullards seeking truth in a solid past and never daring to press on. Calls for a second vote are as steeped in nostalgia and insecurity as the Brexiteers they deride, for whom distance is always measured in yards and bad teeth are a national treasure.

The tabloids must try harder. We get it: they want anyone but Corbyn, But the papers’ sappiness means we also get May. And that’s got us nowhere.

Oh for a Leaver leader capable of embracing the vote and blessed with courage and an expansive outlook. But the loud, arcane Brexiteers left it to May, a Remainer, to cobble something together as they snarked and sniped from DJ booths, newspaper columns and the back benches, turning the simple act of writing a letter, something they must have dictated to a nanny, tutor or divorce lawyer hundreds of times, into a group therapy session they flunked. Sat across the way is Jeremy Corbyn, a monocular visionary so stuffed with contradictions and hypocrisy that Michael Gove, the MP who stabbed Boris Johnson in the back, managed to toss a wreath over the Labour leader’s frowning bonce and reel him in for a pasting. And that frown, the one Corbyn uses to portray, in his mind at least, deep thought and knowing but gives him the look of a confused viewer trying to work out how Dirty Den came back from the dead.

So farewell, Theresa. Off you pop to serve the EU’s wonks the Parliament-backed Brady amendment, with its “alternative arrangements” to the Irish backstop. Best of luck. May’s shuffling back. Nigel Farage and Yvette Cooper can only look on approvingly.

Posted: 30th, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians, Tabloids | Comment


Thailand fires water canon to clear Bangkok smog; London learns

smog pollution london

You know you’re in Bangkok, Thailand, because you can see the air moving. But worry not. The Thais are defeating the smoggy pea-soupers with water cannon.

Global News has more:

Thai authorities used water cannons on Monday in an effort to combat Bangkok’s air pollution. Masks were also provided after hazardous dust particles reportedly reached an Air Quality Index (AQI) of 180.

Any level above 150 is considered unhealthy and Bangkok ranked in the top 10 of polluted cities worldwide on Monday.

The particles, known as PM 2.5, are a mixture of liquid droplets and solid particles that can include dust, soot and smoke.

Diesel fumes contributed up to 60 per cent of the pollution while burning rubbish and crops attributed about 35 per cent.

The Straits Times says the “PM2.5 air-quality index (AQI) in Bangkok on [last] Sunday reached a peak of 195, an unhealthy level, while some areas such as Bang Khen district were at hazardous levels, with PM2.5 AQI at 394 on Sunday morning”. That’s way over the target of 50.

The Mail:

Stagnant weather conditions mean it is unlikely to clear quickly own its own. But the government is set to deploy rainmaking planes to seed clouds by dispersing chemicals into the air to aid condensation. 
The weather modification technique should in theory result in rain, which would help to clear the skies.

‘The Department of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation… expects the rainmaking to be done tomorrow but it depends on wind and humidity levels,’ Pralong Dumrongthai, director-general of Thailand’s Pollution Control Department, told reporters. 

Waiting for rain is dull – as is cutting the reliance on pollutants. Better to fire up the water canon. But the water don’t taste like what it outta:

Thai media reported that in a desperate attempt to bring down critical air pollution levels in Bangkok, local authorities started experimenting with sweetened water, instead of regular one. The idea behind the bizarre pollution-fighting strategy is that by increasing the viscosity of the water using sugar will allow it to trap more dangerous particles when sprayed into the air. However, some experts believe that the unconventional approach could do more harm than good.

Dr. Weerachai Putthawong, a professor of organic chemistry at Kasetsart University, told Workingpoint News that he has serious doubts that the sweetened water will yield better results than regular water. He claims that the increased viscosity of the liquid won’t make much of a difference, because the equipment used to spray it isn’t powerful enough to pulverize it into small enough droplets to catch dust and particulate matter as small as 2.5 microns in size. The current machines used to spray the water can only catch particles down to 10 microns.

To make matters worse, the added sugar could cause the surfaces the mixture lands on to develop dangerous mold, as the organic additive would allow bacteria and fungi to develop.

Back in the UK, London just sold its convoy of three water canon. “Although London’s air often appears clear to the naked eye, the city has suffered from illegal levels  of air pollution since 2010,” says the FT. Recall the canon. Fire at will!

Posted: 30th, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Strange But True, Technology | Comment


Morrisons offer: 20p for a paper bag or 15p for a more environmentally friendly plastic bag?

plastic bag tax
Bag. 2012.3045.04. McDonald’s: Toy Story 2.

Morrisons is offering its customers the chance to buy a reusable paper bag. Prince: 20p. The supermarket chain is also offering a reusable plastic carrier bag. Cost: 15p. The offer runs for eight weeks. So you’ll all buy the more expensive bag one, right, because it’s more environmentally friendly to do so. Or not.

Waitrose is not currently introducing a paper bag because “it can take three times more energy to make a paper bag than a plastic one”. True. And – get this – the paper bag is made of paper, which gets wet and falls to bits. The durability of paper bags – ie: the lack of it – is why plastic bags were so popular and needed. A good plastic bag is so very hard to destroy – just look how long they can survive in the ocean.

The BBC notes:

The production of paper bags uses more energy and creates more CO2 emissions than the manufacture of plastic bags. But paper decomposes much more quickly, while plastic can remain part of the environment for hundreds of years, causing damage to animals and marine life.

Tim Worstall adds:

How many times do we need to reuse a bag for it to have as little resource use – and thus environmental effect – as just the one use of those thin single use plastic ones? Obviously enough, the single use that we’re told not to use has a value of one here. The bag for life must be reused 35 times. A bag for life from recycled plastic 84 times. A paper bag must be reused 43 times – yes, paper. A cotton bag 7,100 times and an organic cotton? 20,000.

The answer: grow everything yourselves and eat out. Careworn urbanites can eat actual ‘street food’ in streets, rather than street food in new restaurants. Or maybe not. Those street food Meccas are pretty polluted:

 Shocking report reveals that 95% of plastic polluting the world’s oceans comes from just TEN rivers including the Ganges and Niger. “More than half of the plastic waste that flows into the oceans comes from just five countries: China, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Sri Lanka.”

Five. How about 8?

Just eight countries in the region are responsible for about 63 percent of total plastic waste flowing into the oceans. Little of that junk has been exported by rich economies. Instead, it’s almost solely generated by Asia’s newly minted consumer classes, the vast majority of whom lack access to garbage collection, modern landfills and incineration. Any progress in reducing ocean plastic will have to start with them.

A boom in garbage is almost always the result of two related phenomena: urbanization and income growth. Rural dwellers moving to the city shift from buying unpackaged goods to buying stuff (especially food) wrapped in plastic. As their incomes rise, their purchases increase. That growth in consumption is almost never matched by expanded garbage collection and disposal. In typical low-income countries, less than half of all garbage is collected formally, and what little is picked up tends to end up in unregulated open dumps. In 2015, scientists estimated that as much as 88 percent of the waste generated in Vietnam is either littered or tossed into uncontained dumps. In China, the rate is about 77 percent. By comparison, the U.S. rate is 2 percent.

Every big city in developing Asia faces this problem. Jakarta’s waterways are choked with plastic trash. In Kuala Lumpur, instances of open dumping line the high-speed train route to the airport. On the outskirts of any Chinese city, loose plastic bags and instant-noodle cups litter every road’s shoulder. Much of this junk ends up in waterways — and, eventually, the ocean. One study found that eight of the 10 rivers conveying the most plastic waste into the oceans are in Asia. China’s Yangtze alone delivers 1.5 million metric tons of plastic to the Yellow Sea each year.

Paper bags and ready-made food is the answer. McDonald’s all round it is, then…

Posted: 28th, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, The Consumer | Comment


Brexit: On Corporation Tax and offshore UK

The Guardian has something to say about Corporation tax. If your company is based in the UK, it pays Corporation Tax on all its profits from the UK and abroad. The current rate is 19%. The Government is set to reduce it to 17% in 2020 – in line with Singapore, which just pulled Sir James Dyson. Because the tax based on companies’ profits this dynamic tax (one that responds very swiftly to change) is very difficult to forecast. But the Guardian is clueless about how it works:

Corporation tax receipts have increased since the financial crisis, although profits of firms have risen as the economy has recovered

Guardian tax
Not quite. No.

“Although”?! No. Tax is up BECAUSE profits are up. That’s how Corporation Tax works. It also doesn’t work in isolation. There are other taxes, such as the banking levy. And economic growth leads to higher profits and thus higher levels of tax receipts. Of course, in the current political climate making any forecasts on company profits is set in water.

Posted: 28th, January 2019 | In: Money, News | Comment


Arsenal balls: sex, Joe Willock and The Sun’s Ashley Cole rerun

When back in December the Sun told us about Arsenal players allegedly inhaling nitrous oxide – “hippy crack” – we were assured that the “images will horrify Arsenal fans and enrage no-nonsense Spanish team coach Unai Emery”. Fast forward to January and club’s teenage prospect Joe Willock is the subject of an alleged huff ‘n’ tell. And the Sun once more tells us: “His antics will horrify Arsenal fans and enrage the team’s no-nonsense Spanish coach Unai Emery.”

Arsenal hippy crack
The Sun – December 2018
The Sun – Janaury 2019

The fallout from the December story has been softer than an autumn leaf dropping from a woodland tree. So will the Willock ‘The Pillock’ story travel better? It has a chance because it features “French model Eglantine Flore Aguilar”. You may recall her from her time with former Arsenal player Ashley Cole? Yeah – like the quote, she too is a repeat. Says La Eggplant: “He certainly moved quickly. One minute he was messaging me on Instagram, the next he was buying me tickets to London. His conversation was very boring, possibly because he’s so young. The sex was also really weird. He wanted to try all different positions in the shortest possible time. I didn’t enjoy it.”

The unmarried lad’s a nippy utility player. And:

The Sun – with typo

The paper’s typo and repetition will surely horrify Sun fans and enrage the team’s no-nonsense editor.

Posted: 28th, January 2019 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Key Posts, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Victoria Wood remembered in hilarious statue

Victoria Wood statue

BBC Radio Manchester alerts us to the statue which Bury Council have approved to honour Victoria Wood (19 May 1953 – 20 April 2016). It will stand on Silver Street next to the Library Gardens in the comedian’s home town.

You’ll know it’s her by the plaque and sounds of laughter.

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


Unicorn robber captured

unicorn thief

Police in Spain have captured a unicorn who allegedly robbed several stores in Malaga. The unicorn is said to be a man dressed in a soft onsie with a unicorn-style horn on his head. Well, so they say. What price the real thief – the nefarious and prolific unicorn – prompted a desperate man into a copy-cat crime? If this poor soul needs a defence, call me. The truth is out there. I have books…

Posted: 28th, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Strange But True | Comment


“Judea dies’, thus says the banner. ‘Judea will live forever’, thus respond the lights”

"Judea dies’, thus says the banner. ‘Judea will live forever’, thus respond the lights"

Friday December 11 1931 was the eighth and final night of Chanukkah, and Rabbi Akiva Boruch Posner, Doctor of Philosophy from Halle-Wittenberg University, struck a match and lit the Menorah. His home was across the way from the headquarters of the local Nazi Party. Rabbi Posner’s wife, Rachel, took a photo of the view from her window. When the film had been processed and returned to her in early 1931, she wrote a few lines in German on the back.

“Juda verrecke, die Fahne spricht. Juda lebt ewig, erwidert das Licht”

“Chanukah, 5692. ‘Judea dies’, thus says the banner. ‘Judea will live forever’, thus respond the lights.”

What came next was humanity at its more depraved. Today is Holocaust Memorial Day.

More: Judea Lives Forever’: Candles Illuminate Nazis In Kiel, 1931

Posted: 27th, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Amanda Knox: ‘Foxy Knoxy’ wins damages from Italian police

U.S. murder suspect Amanda Knox, right, is escorted by an Italian penitentiary police officer at a hearing in Perugia's court, Italy, Saturday, Nov. 28, 2009. Earlier this month, prosecutors requested life sentences for American student Knox and her former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito accused of killing a young British woman in Italy. Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini asked a jury in Perugia to convict Amanda Knox and Sollecito on charges of murder and sexual violence for their alleged role in the 2007 slaying of Meredith Kercher. They deny wrongdoing. (AP Photo/Stefano Medici)

How do you tell the story of Amanda Knox, the American embroiled in the investigation into the 2007 murder of 21-year-old British student Meredith Kercher? The media was attracted to the story of the blonde American and her Italian boyfriend accused of murdering a fellow student in a sex game. Very swiftly, Knox became ‘Foxy Knoxy’. Today the European Court of Human Rights found the Italian state guilty of violating Knox’s rights. Knox was convicted then acquitted over Kercher’s murder. She served four years of a 26-year tariff. Italy must pay Ms Knox €18,400 in damages.

Fox became ‘Foxy’ in a tale of sex

Knox has issued a statement: “I was interrogated for 53 hours over five days, without a lawyer, in a language I understood maybe as well as a ten-year-old.”

The Times says Knox “claimed she was pressured during interrogation into admitting she was at the scene and pinning the murder on the local Congolese barman Patrick Lumumba, an accusation she then dropped.” Do we mention Mr Lumamaba, the innocent black man? “They were determined to break me,” says Knox in a statement. “They threatened me with 30 years in prison if I didn’t remember what they wanted me to remember. Finally, in the delirium they put me through, I didn’t know what to believe. I thought, for a brief moment, maybe they were right.”

The Times adds: “A three-year sentence for Ms Knox for falsely accusing Mr Lumumba was never dropped, although her four years in jail covered the sentence.”

The New York Post presents the award as a defeat: “Italy to pay just $21K in damages to Amanda Knox after she sought millions.” She wanted $3 million. Does the amount matter? Knox’s lawyer, who’s not quoted in the paper, said: “It is impossible to compensate Amanda for four years in prison for a mistake. There will be no amount. We are not looking for compensation of damages. We are doing this on principal.” The Post does note: “Ms. Knox had been particularly vulnerable, being a foreign young woman, 20, at the time, not having been in Italy for very long and not being fluent in Italian,” the European Court of Human Rights noted. The paper then says: “She falsely accused an innocent Congolese barman of being involved in the murder.”

The British press took a position

Buzzfeed looks at why she pointed the finger. It leads: “Knox was convicted of making false statements during the investigation into the murder of her British roommate. A court ruled these had been made in an atmosphere of ‘intense psychological pressure’.” Adding: “They awarded her €10,400 for damages and an additional €8,000 for costs ($20,400 altogether).”

US Press took a position

AP reports: “The human rights court, however, said there was not enough evidence to conclude Knox had “sustained the inhuman or degrading treatment” she claimed. Knox said she had been slapped twice on the side of the head by police, while also being subjected to pressure, threats of imprisonment and shouting.”

Is it different for women?

And what of Kercher? The Telegraph notes:

The panel of seven judges added, however, that they had found no evidence that Knox was subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment during her questioning … Knox’s lawyer in Italy, Carlo Della Vedova, said her conviction for murder and sexual assault amounted to “the biggest judicial error by the Italian justice system in the last 50 years.

“This young woman was sent to prison at the age of 20 and came out at the age of 24 – four years of wrongful imprisonment. Strasbourg has confirmed the violation of her fundamental rights.”

But Francesco Maresca, lawyer for the Kerchers, said the family felt “dissatisfaction” with the Strasbourg court’s ruling, along with the outcome of the judicial process in Italy, which had led to the acquittal of Ms Knox and her ex-boyfriend.


The paper adds that “The only person to have been convicted for the murder of Kercher is Rudy Guede”. “Only”. How many were needed? He is serving a 16-year sentence.

Image: “U.S. murder suspect Amanda Knox, right, is escorted by an Italian penitentiary police officer at a hearing in Perugia’s court, Italy, Saturday, Nov. 28, 2009. Earlier this month, prosecutors requested life sentences for American student Knox and her former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito accused of killing a young British woman in Italy. Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini asked a jury in Perugia to convict Amanda Knox and Sollecito on charges of murder and sexual violence for their alleged role in the 2007 slaying of Meredith Kercher. They deny wrongdoing. (AP Photo/Stefano Medici)”

Posted: 24th, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


The court calls Mr Farrelly of Muff Crescent, Nobber

Ireland’s Ardee District Court calls Mr Conor Farrelly, 22, who stands accused of driving a 2011 BMW car into a wall in Ardee, fleeing the scene and heading into a pub. Mr Farrelly of Muff Crescent, Nobber… Pardon me? No giggling in court. You there! I’ll have you removed.

Mr Farrelly offered guilty pleas to dangerous driving and not being insured. Judge Coughlan banned Mr Farrelly from driving for two years. He also sought a probation report in respect of the defendant doing 240 hours community service in lieu of five months in jail.

The matter will return to court on May 13 when final sentencing will be passed. In the meantime, Mr Farrelly will reside at the property in Muff Crescent in Nobber… Enough! Dismissed!!!

Spotter: Dundalk Democrat

Posted: 24th, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Strange But True | Comment


James Bulger: And the Oscar for bad taste goes to…

James Bulger is back in the news. The child murdered by children is on the Mirror’s front page. “BULGERS RAGE AT OSCARS INSULTS,” says the headline. The story is yet another painful episode in which the child’s parents, Denise Ferguson and Ralph Bulger, are invited to share her pain for our gratification.

Denise Fergus is “disgusted” that Detainment, a film about the crime, is being considered for an Oscar. “To have a child re-enact the final hours of James’s life before he was brutally murdered means we have to relive the all this again,” she says.

THREE OF THE BOYS WHO FOUND THE BODY OF TWO YEAR-OLD JAMES BULGER. L-R, STEPHEN GUNNIAN, JAMES RILEY AND HIS BROTHER TERENCE. Date: 15/02/1993

But reliving the horror as entertainment was ever so. The comments attributed to the murder of a two-year-old by two ten-year-olds read like billboard splashes to come see the show. An act of “unparalleled evil” – Trial Judge. “In almost any city, town or village more minor versions of the same events are becoming an almost everyday part of our lives” – Tony Blair. “FREAKS OF NATURE” – Daily Mirror.

Daily Mirror Bulger freaks
Via
A POLICE POSTER SEEKING INFORMATION ON THE MURDER OF TWO-YEAR OLD JAMES BULGER IS PLACED OUTSIDE MARSH LANE POLICE STATION IN LIVERPOOL.    Date: 15/02/1993
A POLICE POSTER SEEKING INFORMATION ON THE MURDER OF TWO-YEAR OLD JAMES BULGER IS PLACED OUTSIDE MARSH LANE POLICE STATION IN LIVERPOOL. Date: 15/02/1993

The Mirror uses its editorial to slam the “Bulger shame”. We hear that Denise Fergus’s “disgust and upset is understandable”. Of course it is. We know that. It is “about showing compassion… and respect for a woman who has suffered enough”. Why, then, is her pain front-page news? The Mirror says it is “not too late” for “Irish director [why is his nationality important?] to go cap in hand to apologise in person” to the Bulgers.

In which case he can join the queue behind the politicians, judges and tabloid Press…

Posted: 23rd, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Tabloids | Comment


After Covington: the cult of the kid is dead

Kathy Griffith wanted “these fuckers” “named” and “shamed” in public. “NAMES,” she demanded. Daily Mirror columnist Stan Collymore called them “the bastard children of Trump.” Adding: “Like all vermin, they run in numbers , seldom happy to fight alone.” These inhuman beasts were the children of a US Catholic high school. After years of pandering to children’s needs – seeing life in terms of risks to them and their need to be protected from Brexit, sugar, sex, drugs, smartphones and adults – here was a sudden change: the enlightened were going after the kids and inviting all right-minded adults of join in the hunt.

The Covington’s boys’ crime against humanity was to have allegedly menaced a Native American veteran after the anti-abortion March for Life rally in Washington, D.C. The confrontation was videoed, uploaded to the web and – bang! – everyone wanted a piece of the “vermin”. The Twitter mob was in full cry. Being the fourth wall is a lot of fun, but we don’t always see the full picture. And so after the initial video went viral we got to see around two hours more.

We saw that the boys had been targeted by a group of Black Hebrew Israelites (BHI), self-styled descendants of the ancient Israelites. As the BHI regaled the Covington lads with such niceties as “White people, go back to Europe” and ‘Your president is a homosexual”, calling them “faggots”, the products of incest and paedophiles, the lads make no comment. The BHI tell one black lad that his friends will steal his organs after killing him. There they are stood pretty still, a gaggle of predominately white teens dressed in red MAGA hats.

Cue Nathan Phillips. The Native American was in town for a peace protest. He saw the two groups and stepped in between them. He went right up to the teens. Now the teens did react. One stood and stared. Others danced as if mocking Philips. Teens, eh. Such twats. Although one later said:

“We are an all-male school that loves to get hyped up. And as we have done for years prior, we decided to do some cheers to pass time. In the midst of our cheers, we were approached by a group of adults led by Nathan Phillips, with Phillips beating his drum. They forced their way to the center of our group. We initially thought this was a cultural display since he was beating along to our cheers and so we clapped to the beat.”

But this were different. Prejudice was to the fore. Those Trump hats. Those pale skin tones. These teens had been churned out by a “hate factory“. Watch the whole thing  here. Philips might care to. He told The Detroit Free Press that the teens “were in the process of attacking these four black individuals”. Phillips dehumanises the kids:

“There was that moment when I realized I’ve put myself between beast and prey,” Phillips said. “These young men were beastly and these old black individuals was their prey, and I stood in between them and so they needed their pounds of flesh and they were looking at me for that.”

For now the last word is with Nick Sandmann, the Covington student whose face has been splashed all over the web:

I am providing this factual account of what happened on Friday afternoon at the Lincoln Memorial to correct misinformation and outright lies being spread about my family and me.

I am the student in the video who was confronted by the Native American protestor. I arrived at the Lincoln Memorial at 4:30 p.m. I was told to be there by 5:30 p.m., when our busses were due to leave Washington for the trip back to Kentucky. We had been attending the March for Life rally, and then had split up into small groups to do sightseeing.

When we arrived, we noticed four African American protestors who were also on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I am not sure what they were protesting, and I did not interact with them. I did hear them direct derogatory insults at our school group.

The protestors said hateful things. They called us “racists,” “bigots,” “white crackers,” “faggots,” and “incest kids.” They also taunted an African American student from my school by telling him that we would “harvest his organs.” I have no idea what that insult means, but it was startling to hear.

Because we were being loudly attacked and taunted in public, a student in our group asked one of our teacher chaperones for permission to begin our school spirit chants to counter the hateful things that were being shouted at our group. The chants are commonly used at sporting events. They are all positive in nature and sound like what you would hear at any high school. Our chaperone gave us permission to use our school chants. We would not have done that without obtaining permission from the adults in charge of our group.

At no time did I hear any student chant anything other than the school spirit chants. I did not witness or hear any students chant “build that wall” or anything hateful or racist at any time. Assertions to the contrary are simply false. Our chants were loud because we wanted to drown out the hateful comments that were being shouted at us by the protestors.

After a few minutes of chanting, the Native American protestors, who I hadn’t previously noticed, approached our group. The Native American protestors had drums and were accompanied by at least one person with a camera.

The protestor everyone has seen in the video began playing his drum as he waded into the crowd, which parted for him. I did not see anyone try to block his path. He locked eyes with me and approached me, coming within inches of my face. He played his drum the entire time he was in my face.

I never interacted with this protestor. I did not speak to him. I did not make any hand gestures or other aggressive moves. To be honest, I was startled and confused as to why he had approached me. We had already been yelled at by another group of protestors, and when the second group approached I was worried that a situation was getting out of control where adults were attempting to provoke teenagers.

I believed that by remaining motionless and calm, I was helping to diffuse the situation. I realized everyone had cameras and that perhaps a group of adults was trying to provoke a group of teenagers into a larger conflict. I said a silent prayer that the situation would not get out of hand.

During the period of the drumming, a member of the protestor’s entourage began yelling at a fellow student that we “stole our land” and that we should “go back to Europe.” I heard one of my fellow students begin to respond. I motioned to my classmate and tried to get him to stop engaging with the protestor, as I was still in the mindset that we needed to calm down tensions.

I never felt like I was blocking the Native American protestor. He did not make any attempt to go around me. It was clear to me that he had singled me out for a confrontation, although I am not sure why.

The engagement ended when one of our teachers told me the busses had arrived and it was time to go. I obeyed my teacher and simply walked to the busses. At that moment, I thought I had diffused the situation by remaining calm, and I was thankful nothing physical had occurred.

I never understood why either of the two groups of protestors were engaging with us, or exactly what they were protesting at the Lincoln Memorial. We were simply there to meet a bus, not become central players in a media spectacle. This is the first time in my life I’ve ever encountered any sort of public protest, let alone this kind of confrontation or demonstration.

I was not intentionally making faces at the protestor. I did smile at one point because I wanted him to know that I was not going to become angry, intimidated or be provoked into a larger confrontation. I am a faithful Christian and practicing Catholic, and I always try to live up to the ideals my faith teaches me – to remain respectful of others, and to take no action that would lead to conflict or violence.

I harbor no ill will for this person. I respect this person’s right to protest and engage in free speech activities, and I support his chanting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial any day of the week. I believe he should re-think his tactics of invading the personal space of others, but that is his choice to make.

I am being called every name in the book, including a racist, and I will not stand for this mob-like character assassination of my family’s name. My parents were not on the trip, and I strive to represent my family in a respectful way in all public settings.

I have received physical and death threats via social media, as well as hateful insults. One person threatened to harm me at school, and one person claims to live in my neighborhood. My parents are receiving death and professional threats because of the social media mob that has formed over this issue.

I love my school, my teachers and my classmates. I work hard to achieve good grades and to participate in several extracurricular activities. I am mortified that so many people have come to believe something that did not happen – that students from my school were chanting or acting in a racist fashion toward African Americans or Native Americans. I did not do that, do not have hateful feelings in my heart, and did not witness any of my classmates doing that.

I cannot speak for everyone, only for myself. But I can tell you my experience with Covington Catholic is that students are respectful of all races and cultures. We also support everyone’s right to free speech. I am not going to comment on the words or account of Mr. Phillips, as I don’t know him and would not presume to know what is in his heart or mind. Nor am I going to comment further on the other protestors, as I don’t know their hearts or minds, either.

I have read that Mr. Phillips is a veteran of the United States Marines. I thank him for his service and am grateful to anyone who puts on the uniform to defend our nation. If anyone has earned the right to speak freely, it is a U.S. Marine veteran.

I can only speak for myself and what I observed and felt at the time. But I would caution everyone passing judgement based on a few seconds of video to watch the longer video clips that are on the internet, as they show a much different story than is being portrayed by people with agendas.

I provided this account of events to the Diocese of Covington so they may know exactly what happened, and I stand ready and willing to cooperate with any investigation they are conducting.

The kids are alright-ish.

Posted: 22nd, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment


Kate Price and MPs agree: mocking the disabled is a hate crime (what isn’t?)

Should abusing the disabled be a crime? Katie Price thinks it should. The former glamour model has given evidence to the Commons Petitions Committee where she called for online abuse to be made a specific offence.
She wants social media to be policed. She wants new laws to ban vile words, punishing the berks and twats who abused her son Harvey’s disabilities. Harvey is partially blind, autistic and has the genetic disorder Prader-Willi syndrome. Anyone who mocks him for his illness deserves ridicule. Price says, “They know he hasn’t got a voice back and they mock him more… they find him an easy target.”

MPs on the Petitions Committee agree with Price. They want the government to give disabled people protection under hate crime laws.

“Social media is rife with horrendous, degrading and dehumanising comments about people with disabilities,” says Helen Jones, who chairs the committee. “The law on online abuse is not fit for purpose and it is truly shameful that disabled people have been forced off social media while their abusers face no consequences.”

But there are consequences. Laws exit if threats are made against the person. Hate crime is an attempt to outlaw offensive words. The Metropolitan Police website tells us what hate crime is: “A hate incident is any incident which the victim, or anyone else, thinks is based on someone’s prejudice towards them because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or because they are transgender. Not all hate incidents will amount to criminal offences, but it is equally important that these are reported and recorded by the police.” No crime committed. No matter. And shouldn’t we be free to hate? Doesn’t this sectoring of society into potential victims and likely abusers weaken us? And since when has censorship worked for the common good – don’t abhorrent viewpoints have the right to be said? How you better understand rival views if you ban their discussion?

Posted: 22nd, January 2019 | In: News | Comment


Class War: Royal family pheasant killer ‘attacked’ local ‘peasant’

sun pheasant peasant

The Sun leads with Patrick Panks, 43, who claims he was hit in the head and called a “peasant” by a gamekeeper on the Royal Family’s Sandringham estate. Mr Panks say a shoot was blocking the road. He complained (‘I say my good man, I’m in terrible dash. Will you be long?’, or words to the that effect). Mr Panks says the gamekeeper then hit him “several times”, causing lacerations to his head. Nasty stuff. But it’s only front-page news because Sandringham is newsworthy. We’re told the alleged incident occurred two days after Prince Philip’s prang, aka the “horror smash“. So there are two more pages of the plebs verses the ruling class.

Over pages 4 and 5, we hear the gamekeeper allegedly bellow: “Mind my dogs you fucking peasant.” The man then allegedly attacked Mr Panks, who responded: “I kept saying, ‘There’s no need for this.'” Mr Panks says the incident was an episode of “disgusting snobbery”. He was caught in the crosshairs of what he terms an “us and them culture”. Then the Sun’s bomb: “Prince Andrew is said to have been shooting on the day of the bust-up.”

The Royal Family aren’t all commemorative china cups, thimbles and faces on stamps. They’re a clique of guns, dead animals, lots of land, mastery of the handshake and more guns. It’s only in death that we get too glimpse the real them, and then only after the official biographies have doused the corpse’s remains in a gossamer weave of heroic deeds, terrific fashion nouse and hearts bursting with a purity of spirt that reaches the divine. So was it feckless Andy wielding the stick? Unlikely. The effort involved alone would rule him out. What about Phil? The Suns says he was “once the Royal Family’s keenest shot. But he is now only an observer during shoots.” He might not spot a nippy hatchback – but never misses a game bird.

Posted: 22nd, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Royal Family, Tabloids | Comment


Israel Anti-Boycott Act: Banning BDS is wrong

How do you clamp down on intolerance? Intolerance will not be tolerated! comes the cry. The US Congress is looking to ban American companies boycotting Israel on pain of law. Join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement – that shrill, bigoted and censorious drive to isolate Israel; China, Dubai and Russia are fine and dandy; Turkey, which has illegally occupied Northern Cyprus in 1974, is not on the BDS list – and face criminal charges, including a fine up to $1million. What horror the proposed Israel Anti-Boycott Act is. The ACLU says “Political boycotts are fully protected by the First Amendment.” Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Sen. Bernie Sanders warned that the “Israel Anti-Boycott Act” infringes upon free speech.

Predictably, Palestinian rights’ groups are not for it. Free expression must be permitted, they argue – that they also argue that free expression should be banned for the world’s one Jewish state is hypocritical to say the least. Lamentably the American Israel Public Affairs Committee supports the proposed legislation. Fighting BDS by banning things is also the work of hypocrites. Don’t ban the banners.

Posted: 21st, January 2019 | In: News | Comment


Emma Fairweather and me: Her Majesty The Queen extends ‘warmest thoughts’ at arms length to car crash victim

Emma Fairweather prince car

The Daily Mirror’s interview with Emma Fairweather, the woman injured in a collision with a car driven by Prince Philip, continues to make front-page headlines. Much to the tabloids’ disappointment, Fairweather doesn’t resemble Princess Diana in any way, other than her being female and a single mum. No word, then, from Mohamed Al-Fayed, just the relayed news that Her Majesty the Queen has sent “a message of concern” to 46-year-old Emma. The Duke of Edinburgh has not made contact, the paper says.

How nice and proper of the Queen to apologise for her husband’s prang. She always says the right thing, although most people come away from meeting with her unable to recall a word she uttered. She is the master of saying nothing. So what did she say this time? Nothing. The Mirror tells us: “The Queen has sent her warmest good wishes to Emma Fairweather, who broke her wrist in the collision, via her trusted lady-in-waiting.”

To rephrase: Queen details flunky to apologise. How touching. How very normal and in touch with the common folk. So much for the collision now billed as “Prince Philip’s horror car smash”. And so much for Republicanism. We live in an age where the monarchy is accepted without question. Just cop a load of this utter tosh in the Mirror. Miss Mary Morrison, 81, the aforesaid lady-in-waiting “left her a voicemail message”. Yeah. She didn’t even call back when Emma was free. The message trills: “Hello, I’m ringing from Sandringham House. The Queen has asked me to telephone you to pass on her warmest good wishes following the accident and Her Majesty is very eager to know how you are and hope that everything is going as well as can be expected.”

Eager enough to pop over or leave contact details for Emma to reply at her own convenience. The message continues: “We’re all thinking of you very much at Sandringham and I’ll try you at a later date. Unfortunately I’ve got to go out quite shortly but I hope all is well as can be expected for you. Thank you very much indeed. Goodbye.”

Lest you think that such aloofness exacerbates the matter, a “senior palace source” arrives to opine: “It is of huge significance the Queen chose Mary Morrison to make the contact. Mary is a close friend of the Queen and Her Majesty values her counsel immensely.”

So there you have it. Next time you’re in a car accident, don’t bother leaving your details in person or exchanging insurance details. Just get one of your spouse’s chums, preferably one on the payroll and well-rewarded for her servitude, to speak on your behalf.

Such fun!

Posted: 21st, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Royal Family | Comment


Ant McPartlin: Britain’s Got Talent seeks new role model

Ant Mcpartlin

Having heard Ant McPartlin hook up with the sympathetic Sun to trail the new season of Britain’s Got Talent as part of the star’s rehab programme, more papers lead with the celebrity who in less PR-driven times could be termed a love rat, troubled and drink-drive maniac.

The Express, Sun and Metro all lead not with Ant’s new partner, the rock-like Anne–Marie, rather Dec, the second part of the presenter’s double act. Dec was “angry” when Ant as arrested for drink-driving (Sun). Dec is laughing now he’s back on the telly with Ant (Metro). Ant is terrified that Holly Willoughby, who stepped in to present I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! will replace him. She may even be more liked by the public, what with her being vivacious, witty, not shagging her partner’s now former PA, not driving drunk into a car carrying a couple and their young child, and not taking drugs. Willoughby was a stop up in evolutionary terms.

Ant’s rehabilitation is all well and good – and good for him for finding a blonde fossil on which to build an empire. But this is surely about Simon Cowell, without whom Britain would be virtually talent free. What should have happened is that this series was made all about the presenters, a talent show for who can partner Dec or replace him and Ant entirely. If you’ve a dying granny, are a single dad with hair on the list of UNESCO sites of special scientific interest and/ or once shagged the aforesaid Cowell and are looking for a return favour, get in touch. Criminal records and failed blood tests are no barrier. Cowell missed a trick.

Posted: 21st, January 2019 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, News, Tabloids | Comment


Anne-Marie and Ant McPartlin get top-billing in the Sun

And Mcpartlin the sun

Any more puff in the Sun’s piece on Ant McPartlin and the paper would be classed as a Class B drug. As the record shows, Ant is a drink driver scheduled to reappear as the lovable host of Britain’s Got Talent. Just in time for his return to the public eye on his own terms (see court case), Ant stands before the Sun and blinds his with his loveliness and his love for his now ex-wife’s former PA.

Ant says his new lover, one Anne-Marie Corbett, is his “rock”. “She’s a beautiful soul.” She is “the most wonderful true woman”. He then harps on: “I don’t feel the need to defend Anne-Marie but I will say you’ve got to be careful judging other people’s relationships or what you think is the truth that’s been put out there.” As for the ex-wife, Lisa Armstrong, well, Ant notes in a story on the Sun’s font page: “‘She can live her life how she wants to live her life and say what she wants but I prefer to keep that private.” It’ll go no further with us, Ant.

So Ant’s back on the magic box with Dec. And it’s Ant ‘n’ Dec all over again – but not Dec ‘n’ Ant. The big star comes first and the sidekick second – see Batman and Robin, Jesus and Mary, Simon and Garfunkel, and Robson and Jerome. Like it not, Ant is the bigger deal. It’s not by accident that his name comes first. Nonsense , of course. It’s just an alphabetical thing. So it was Ant and Lisa; and now it’s Anne-Marie and Ant. Fair’s fair, Lisa…

Posted: 20th, January 2019 | In: Celebrities, News, Tabloids | Comment


Prince Philip and me: what Duke did and didn’t say to car crash victim

Prince Philip car crash victim

Prince Philip should travel by horse and buggy, or make better use of the family’s gold coach. But he’s sticking with the 4×4, picking one for a jaunt days after being involved in an accident near his Sandringham home. The “victim” of the accident is “single mother” and “royal fan” Emma Fairweather. She’s speaking in public for the first time about her ordeal. And thanks to the People, Express and Mirror sharing one owner, all three Sunday tabloids lead with her words.

“I still haven’t had any contact from the Royal household. Maybe he should prioritise that over test driving his new car,” says Emma. She feels “ignored and rejected” by the duke and the Queen after Thursday’s smash. Is Emma our Deuce of Hearts, suffering, as the Princess of Hearts did after a run-in with the Royals? The Windsors have a chequered history when it comes to cars and crashes. The Express, which has long been at the forefront of Royal car crash reporting, picks a side:

Emma will spend her 46th birthday today on painkillers with her arm in a cast after being left with a broken wrist when the Duke’s 4×4 ploughed into the Kia that Emma, her 28-year-old friend and her friend’s baby were travelling in, flipping his car just outside the Sandringham estate on Thursday afternoon.

Daily Express diana

Having heard a “friend” say someone could have died, Emma adds: “I feel like the impact of what has happened has been minimised because my injuries aren’t as minor as they are being made out to be.” Where there’s blame, there’s a claim. “She claims she was urged by a police officer not to speak publicly about the crash.” Consider that urge ignored.

Emma continues: “I was advised not to speak to anyone and told to expect a call from the Palace yesterday. I know the Queen is a busy lady but I was really excited at the idea she might phone me. Instead, I got a call from a police family liaison officer. The message he passed on didn’t even make sense. He said, ‘The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh would like to be remembered to you.”

What a wonderfully snotty and arcane phrase. But at 97, the Prince’s time is valuable. How much he has left is measured in weeks and maybe months. He’s no time to waste on platitudes. Speak to the insurers. Although we were robbed, of course, of what could well have been a memorable exchange. The Prince is synonymous with “gaffes”, which nearly always are just his attempt to lighten the mood and put his audience at ease. What price the Prince saying, “I’ve not had an accident since Paris”, “Women drivers!” or “I thought you were a pheasant”?

Posted: 20th, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Royal Family | Comment


Brexit: John Curtice appears as if by magic; General Election looms; The People’s Vote is a misnomer

John Curtice brexit

You know a General Election is in the offing when Professor John Curtice flies back into the media spotlight. Curtice, Professor of Politics at the University of Strathclyde and Senior Research Fellow at NatCen Social Research, has been talking about Brexit.

The big question, then: do Leave voters regret voting ‘Leave’? It’s a point many Remain-voters have made over and over. A bit like that other all-too familiar statement – “No-on voted for no-deal” – it’s become something of a mantra. Is it true? Curtice responds:

On average, 83 per cent of those who voted to leave say they would vote to leave again. This is only slightly lower than the 87 per cent of Remain voters who say they would vote the same way a second time. But the difference doesn’t mean Leave voters are switching to Remain. It is that Leave voters are saying they wouldn’t bother to vote again.

The People’s Vote is a Second Referendum by another name?

The difference arises because of how Leave voters react to different wordings. A majority of them are always against a second vote, but populist language like ‘people’s vote’ plays well with them. The people running the People’s Vote have been experimenting with different ways of presenting a second referendum and their polling discovered that ‘people’s vote’ and ‘final say’ were popular.

Spotter: Spiked

Posted: 19th, January 2019 | In: News, Politicians | Comment


How to appear trustworthy

blushing - (Gerard van Honthorst’s Smiling Girl, a Courtesan, Holding an Obscene Image, 1625, via Wikimedia Commons)

Do we trust others too much? Are we confident that the government is able to accomplish what it set out to accomplish, whatever that is (insert guess here and post it to Westminster). What about robots, do we trust them?In 2014, researchers at University of Wisconsin-Madison investigated what makes a humanoid robot seem more “alive.” They found that a firm, steady gaze was unsettling. Bots programmed to occasionally glance away and look around appeared more thoughtful and thus more trustworthy.

Sathnam Sanghera writes in the Times onheart surgeon Samer Nashef:

People have an instinctive inclination to venerate medical professionals, literally handing over their lives to them without question, when these people are as capable of error as anyone else. As Nashef explains at length in his excellent book The Naked Surgeon, patients operated on the day before a surgeon goes on holiday are twice as likely to die as those operated on the first day the surgeon returns from holiday; one surgeon can appear, statistically, to be a better surgeon than another although they have killed more patients, owing to a strange phenomenon called “category shift”; and choosing a surgeon with the lowest patient mortality rate could be a mistake because they could just be taking on fewer risky patients.

Nashef writes how a heart surgeon “day after day walks into an operating theatre, nonchalantly cracks open the chest, puts the patient on an artificial heart-lung machine, stops the heart, opens it, fixes it, starts it again, disconnects the patient from the heart-lung machine and expects that the heart will handle supporting life again”. We trust them.

You don’t need to study medicine for years or work in high finance to gain trust. You can cheat. You can rouge your cheeks and sit beneath a hot light:

The Dutch psychologist Corine Dijk gave volunteers a series of photos of people, some blushing and some not, accompanied by tales of their recent mishaps, ranging from appearing overdressed at a party to farting in a lift. The blushers were judged more favorably, despite their indiscretion.

Other research has found that if you blush people are more likely to forgive you, and it can even avert a conflict. When you’re trying to work out who to trust, it makes sense to choose the people who would feel guilty if they did anything wrong. The ideal person is someone who would blush and give themselves away.

Image: Gerard van Honthorst’s Smiling Girl, a Courtesan, Holding an Obscene Image, 1625.

Posted: 18th, January 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Technology | Comment


Brexit: Newspapers and Gove slaughter Corbyn, aka Mr Plan B

Brexit corbyn Express

One day after the Meaningful Vote and the newspapers are going for Jeremy Corbyn, aka Plan B:

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Picture 1 of 8

Leading Brexiteeer and Tory MP Michael Gove ticks off Corbyn’s faults – well some of them:

The cross party talks to reach a Brexit deal so far: Labour won’t talk to the Tories; the Tories will only listen to the DUP; the Lib Dems want to do it all over again with a 2nd referendum; and the SNP want the UK to stay in the Union so it can, er, best leave the Union. Such are the facts.

Posted: 17th, January 2019 | In: Broadsheets, Key Posts, News, Tabloids | Comment


Daily Telegraph subs confuse Jemima Khan with Jemima Lewis

Jemima Lewis is the Daily Telegraph’s radio critic and columnist. Jemima Khan isn’t. The Daily Telegraph is no longer sub-edited in house. Not that you’d notice…

Posted: 16th, January 2019 | In: Broadsheets, Celebrities, Key Posts, News | Comment