There’s to be a Barbie doll based on US Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, who became the first women who wear an hijab at the Olympics. According to Mattel, Muhammad is a “Shero”, which is bit like being a hero but for women; like heroine, yes, but the kind of portmanteau that makes for better branding and makes women a special case. So much for equality.
Sejal Shah Miller, Barbie’s vice president of global marketing, guffs out a statement: “Ibtihaj is an inspiration to countless girls who never saw themselves represented, and by honoring her story, we hope this doll reminds them that they can be and do anything,” It’s less about her than it is about us, say Mattel.
And as for girls’ ambitions, well they can’t do anything. NBC says Muhammad got into fencing because her mother likes the cover-all kit. “My mom just so happened to discover fencing,” says Muhammad on CNN. “She was driving past a local high school and saw kids with what she thought was like a helmet and like long pants and long jacket. She was like, ‘I don’t know what it is, but I want you to try it.”
So you can do anything, so long as you cover up. And don’t do it in Iran,where as one toy seller opined: “I think every Barbie doll is more harmful than an American missile.”
Whatever the backstory, the athlete is delighted, saying being immortalised in plastic is a “childhood dream come true”:
Cynics might argue that Mattel needs to broaden its appeal, and what easier way than by tapping into a new market, albeit the relatively small one of female Muslim fencers. CNN Money notes: “Barbie has been working hard to make its collection of dolls more diverse in an effort to broaden the brand’s appeal… Barbie’s sales have slumped, down 6% in the most recent quarter compared to last year.”
More people as dolls here. Each one an inspiration…
Australians approve of gay marriage. Australian voters gave a thumbs up to same-sex marriage, with 61.6% voting for and 31% voting against. Turn out for the postal vote was high: just shy of 79% of eligible voters (12 million people) took part in the voluntary referendum.
Voters were asked to reply Yes or No response to the question: “Should the marriage law should be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”
It is another triumph for democracy. The people have had their say. Now get on with it.
News that Gareth Bale’s “bother-in-law” has died is surely a shock for his loved ones. The Mail says Real Madrid and Wales footballer Bale and his fiancee Emma have been left “devastated” by a “suspected family suicide”. Emma’s sister’s partner Alexander Williams has been found dead.
Tastefully, the paper buys paparazzi photos to best illustrate Bale’s pain.
The Mirror is not far off invading Bale’s grief, using the same photo to ooze: “Real Madrid star Gareth Bale looks pained s he turns up for training after shock family death”.
And worth revisiting the Mail’s pledge of 8 September 1997, eight days after the death of Princess Diana:
“Mail leads the way in banning paparazzi pictures.
“Mail leads the way in banning paparazzi pictures.” Here are the opening paragraphs to the article below that heading:
“The proprietor of the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and Evening Standard announced last night that his papers will not in future purchase pictures taken by paparazzi
Viscount Rothermere, chairman of the Daily Mail and General Trust plc said: ‘I am, and always have been, an admirer of Diana, Princess of Wales, and nagged my editors to protect her so far as they could against her powerful enemies.
In view of Earl Spencer’s strong words and my own sense of outrage, I have instructed my editors no ‘paparazzi’ pictures are to be purchased without my knowledge and consent.'”
Plus ca change, as they say in Paris, Madrid, London…
Transfer balls spots this gem in the Daily Mirror’s desperate clickbait factory: “Liverpool favourites to sign Barcelona star in January transfer window.”
To reach this story, readers vault no fewer than three video adverts. The story is squashed between them:
The entire scoop is an exercise in total balls:
Liverpool have been made favourites to sign Barcelona star Javier Mascherano in January.
Ah, him. Is he still any good? Does he want to rejoin Liverpool? Who else wants him?
Mascherano’s contract at Barcelona is less than two years to run and he is understood to be considering an early exit.
Understood by whom? Dunno. The Mirror doesn’t bother to say. But it does note:
Liverpool have been made 6/4 favourites to sign him by Sky Bet, although River Plate are another option for the 33-year-old.
Why SkyBet have odds on Mascherano is not stated, nor how large the market on the move is. Although it is fun to see the Mirror plugging its rival – SkyBet is operated by the Sun’s owners. Once upon a time both red-tops were fierce rivals seeking out scoops and shockers – now they exist to fluff each other’s guff and get readers to bet on total nonsense.
We called SkyBet and were told that the bet does exist. And because it’s a ‘Special Bet’ or a ‘Request A Bet’ the odds can be triggered by one person requesting odds. Make the request and look back in wonder as your simple question makes it on to the pages of the self-declared”Intelligent Tabloid”.
The full odds are hereunder:
Since the Mirror published its story, the odds have not changed, which implies the market for Mascherano to Liverpool is no larger than a PR’s chequebook?
It looks like being another season of barely held together crisis for Arsenal – just for a change, writes Sunil Singh.
After winning the FA Cup again in May, Wenger should probably have walked away from the job he has held for more than 20 years.
Instead, Wenger signed a two-year contract to extend his stay at the Emirates and Arsenal’s start to the season has been typically predictable.
After a rollicking 4-3 home win against Leicester City got the new Premier League season off to a flyer, Arsenal promptly lost back-to-back away games at Stoke City and Liverpool, the latter a humiliating 4-0 hammering.
A run of four clean sheets in a row in the league, with 10 points taken from those games, suggested Arsenal could have turned a corner. But Arsenal were too Arsenal-y for that.
Leading at Watford last weekend, they collapsed to a 2-1 loss at Vicarage Road and sit sixth in the table as a result – level on points with Burnley, of all teams.
But can we predict Arsenal’s twists and turns via Wenger’s wardrobe? Let’s give it a go!
The coat – an investigation
We have to start with Arsene’s coat, of course. It is arguably the most iconic piece of manager-wear of the Premier League era.
The sight of Wenger, ordinarily a very dapper man – he is French, after all – struggling to do up the zip on his jacket is a familiar one to all football fans. It’s a cliche these days.
Wenger’s coat in the 2014-15 Premier League season was a beauty. So long it would swallow a man of normal height hour, it billowed down below Wenger’s knees.
And he couldn’t do it up. Every game, it seemed, the television cameras would capture him grappling with the zip as his team fell apart in front of him. It was all too easy to draw a parallel.
The coat looked great, but it didn’t really work – or at least Wenger couldn’t get it to work. Just like this team, it was almost perfect. But not quite.
What Wenger’s coat says about him
Manager style is going through a big change in the Premier League right now.
While it used to be Wenger who brought massive innovations to English football – like eating right – now it is a new foreign influence who is educating us all over again.
Pep Guardiola sports trainers on the touchline, often with chinos and a nice v-neck jumper. It’s pure style – just like his Manchester City team.
Another manager has seen his fashion choices pored over in recent weeks – Antonio Conte.
The Italian donned stunning suits for most of last season as Chelsea romped to the Premier League title in his first season at Stamford Bridge.
But Conte appeared on the sideline for the first game of his side’s title defence in a shabby club tracksuit – with his team looking similarly out of sorts.
Burnley turned Chelsea over that day, running out 3-2 winners in a game that saw two of Conte’s players sent off. It is impossible to argue that the defeat was solely down to Conte ditching his suit for trackies, but it might well have been a small factor, at least.
How a manager dresses says a lot about him. To Wenger, his coat is all about function. It looks a bit naff, but it keeps him warm. It does the job just about well enough.
But when it doesn’t do the job – when he fumbles with the zip yet again – it makes you wonder why Wenger does not ditch it and upgrade for a better model. Just like his midfield.
Ryan, the editor of a highly respected online publication had this to say, “Wenger used to be a favourite of ours here at Gamblingkingz, but these days he is a relic that the Premier League could certainly do without. And the bookmakers feel the same way. While Arsenal used to be perennial title contenders under his leadership – with the odds reflecting that – now they are also-rans.”
How the other Premier League managers compare
In hindsight, Frank de Boer was always destined to fail when he was appointed at Crystal Palace as the replacement for Sam Allardyce after his shock departure.
De Boer rocked a blue blazer and cream chinos on the sidelines as he watched his Palace side struggling to get to grips with his Total Football style. It just wasn’t a good fit.
Mauricio Pellegrino also does not look quite right in his ‘athleisure’ gear consisting of a polo top and tracksuit bottoms. The colours of his club-branded gear make him look more like a Sainsbury’s assistant manager than the boss of a Premier League football club.
Some managers can pull off the casual look however, with Tony Pulis certainly among them.
The Welshman’s baseball cap is up there with Wenger’s billowing coat as one of the most iconic clothing items in Premier League history.
Pulis is rarely seen without it, pairing the hat with a tracksuit despite him approaching his 60s.
Another tracksuit boss is Jurgen Klopp. He is always in Liverpool-branded gear, giving the impression he is a manager who likes to get stuck in on the training ground. The defending of his team suggests otherwise, however.
Eddie Howe is a fan of the tracksuit too. The Bournemouth boss is so young – still somehow just 39! – that he probably would look like a child dressing up in his dad’s clothes if he wore a suit.
What about Jose Mourinho? Wenger’s old rival is not afraid to rock a tracksuit but he is usually smart in a suit on the touchline.
Opposition fans used to sing “that coat’s from Matalan” at Mourinho earlier in his career, but there is no doubt the United manager is one of the best dressed coaches in the league now.
Mauricio Pellegrino switches between the suit and the tracksuit as well – and he is one of the few Premier League managers who both looks comfortable in either outfit and pulls it off.
Some managers don’t quite suit the style of their team – Burnley’s Sean Dyche, for example. While he is never seen out of a dark suit, his team is much more rough round the edges.
Dyche’s smart style, of course, continues to make him look even more like a nightclub bouncer than his scary face and voice suggest.
So what can Wenger learn from his peers? Ultimately it doesn’t matter. Wenger has shown time and time again he has no interest in learning from anyone else. It’s his way or nothing.
Even if Wenger’s way is a ludicrously long coat that he can’t do up.
Paramedics do a testing job in trying circumstances for not all that much cash. But not everyone appreciates their efforts. While they treated a dying man in Small Heath, Birmingham, Hassan Shabbir Ali, 27, placed a note on the windscreen of their ambulance. It read: “You may be saving lives but don’t park your van in a stupid place and block my drive.”
Life goes on. The dead make room for the living; but paramedics make way for no-one.
Mr Ali has apologised for his crass note, which he wrote after being blocked for 20 minutes. Fair enough. But West Midlands Ambulance Service’s John Hagans says the note made the man’s family feel “50 times worse” over his death. Really?
The ambulance service has released the note and a video of Colin Anderson, 50, telling a paramedic treating a patient in Runcorn, Cheshire, to “do you fucking job properly” and labelled her a “fucking idiot” for blocking his work van. Anderson has also apologised, saying he has the “utmost respect” for paramedics.
GMB union officer Paul Turner, 35, says of that incident, filmed by a local man: “This is just one incident that’s been videoed, and that’s probably happening a dozen times a day.”
PS: Beneath the video on YouTube,one bleeding heart opines:
CH1LDOFTHEMOON: “You just got to hope that that guy has a car accident and need`s an ambulance and someone like him will give the ambulance crew a hard time, and the guy suffer`s for it!”
Because if there’ one thing we love more than ambulance staff, it’s wishing harm on other people.
In 1986, Prince Charles penned a letter to his pal Laurens van der Post. In it he bemoaned the “Jewish lobby” and the state of the State of Israel. None of what you are about to read suggests Charles is, like some of his fellow toffs in harbouring an intense dislike of Jews. Indeed, the Mail, which publishes the story of Charles’ letter, tells readers: “He has many prominent Jewish friends and in 2013 became the first Royal to attend a chief rabbi’s inauguration ceremony. In a speech that year, he expressed concern at the apparent rise of anti-Semitism in Britain.”
Off hand, I couldn’t name any of Charles’ Jewish pals, and scouring pictures of the perpetual heir to the throne’s skiing hols and shooting jaunts, I’m unable pick out any Jews in the happy throng. Although rumours abound that he did one fancy Barbara Streisand.
The paper also notes, “Charles has always enjoyed a close and supportive relationship with the Jewish community in Britain”. What the Jewish community is can be hard to define, but most often in community matters, it amounts to a few well-appointed, pushy knobs and knobesses serving to represent anyone and everyone who shares their faith, religion or skin tones. It’s a handy shortcut that saves on gentile shoe leather and hand sanitisers.
And so it is that Charles – not a Jew hater – writes:
‘Tried to read bit of Koran on way out and it gave me some insight into way they [Arabs] think and operate. Don’t think they could understand us through reading Bible though!”
Well, so long as you read one of the good bits, understanding an ancient religion need cost you no more than a copy of York Notes. Charles looks up from the text that consumed minutes of his busy day and continues:
“I now appreciate that Arabs and Jews were all a Semitic people originally and it is the influx of foreign, European Jews (especially from Poland, they say) which has helped to cause great problems. I know there are so many complex issues, but how can there ever be an end to terrorism unless the causes are eliminated? Surely some U.S. president has to have the courage to stand up and take on the Jewish lobby in U.S.? I must be naive, I suppose!”
“Incendiary,” says the Mail. And it is odd. Was it not the Jews returning to their God-given homeland after being forced to ‘wander’ for eons, taking in lands such as Poland where they were punished for BWJ (breathing while Jewish) with State-sanctioned murder? Was Israel not their birthright, taken from them by enemies that caused them to suffer? Can we include some of Charles’ ancestors in the list of Crusading angels who caused Jews to wander into Nazi death camps in German-occupied Poland?
As for the Jewish lobby, what is that? It’s an old anti-semitic trope of a Jewish cabal running the world for their own advantage. You can be black, white, male, female, transgender, disabled, a peacenik, a veteran or whatever, but if you are a Jew, then in the eyes of Charles your campaign is driven by Jewish self-interest. It’s echoed throughout society, alluded to by the likes of Richard Ingram, who wrote in the Guardian: “I have developed a habit when confronted by letters to the editor in support of the Israeli government to look at the signature to see if the writer has a Jewish name. If so, I tend not to read it.”
So much for the deserving Jews, one big shadowy mass of group-think. But what of the royals, specifically the blood and oil-socked kings who rule with an iron fist over many Arabs? Well, Charles rather likes them.
“Much admire some aspects of Islam,” says Charles to his Afrikaans friend. “Especially accent on hospitality and accessibility of rulers.” When they’re not booting out Jews, those Arab toffs are tops. Julie Raven nails him:
He likes Islam because monarchs aren’t answerable for the vilely hypocritical lives they lead (the drinking and whoring of Muslim monarchs compared to the treatment meted out to their subjects who indulge) and because they can divorce at their whim with no comeback. The very worst and weakest Western men are attracted by Islam – he’s no exception.
This is Charles who on Mar. 21, 2006weighed in on the Muhammad cartoon controversy, telling an audience of more than 800 Islamic scholars at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University: “The recent ghastly strife and anger over the Danish cartoons shows the danger that comes of our failure to listen and to respect what is precious and sacred to others.” No, not freedom of expression, a cornerstone of our democratic right. He didn’t mean that. Charles is all for the sanctity of theocratic Islam, which abhors our hard-won freedoms, stymies womanhood and raises monarchs to the pantheon of living gods. That’s what righteous Charles wants defending: the powerful.
Charles is a weak and feckless sort, a man searching for a legacy but failing to find a purpose. He’s exactly the type of right-on plodder who eventually reasons that the main cause of trouble are Jews. To wit it’s worth reminding him that his son and heir is married to Kate, of whom Iran’s Mehr News Agency warns:
“This lady’s family roots show that she is considered a Sephardic Jew from her mother’s side. Moreover the timing of the wedding and the way it was held which was based on Jewish culture verify the evidences. William’s marriage as the inheritor of the crown to a Jewish girl will leave the future of Britain to the hands of the couple’s Jewish children.” *
More fine anti-Brexit work in the The Guardian, where news is that people who eat non-organic butter and hum-drum Irish cheddar are going to be worst off once the country quits the EU:
Leaving the customs union in a hard Brexit scenario could lead to the price of meat doubling and the price of dairy, half of which is imported, rising by up to 50%.
A block of cheddar imported from Ireland that costs £1 now will cost £1.41 under World Trade Organisation rules, with Ireland being a major producer of cheddar. This would prompt a vicious economical cycle and a period of “runaway” food price hikes, he warned.
The quoted “he” is Gabriel D’Arcy, chief executive of dairy producers LacPatrick in Strabane in Northern Ireland. In May Mr D’Arcy said LacPatrick “had seen a 25pc surge in its sales into the British market in the wake of Brexit, due to its presence in Northern Ireland”. Not all doom and gloom, then.
And as for the Guardian’s words on WTO, well, the quoted price hike represents the maximum import tariffs, so-called ‘ceiling rates’ on ‘bound rates’ . You can charge less through ‘applied rates’. The Government could go further and charge no tariffs (aka tax), and make the populace’ richer’ by allowing them to keep more cash in their pockets by way of cheaper cheese.
No need to panic, then, and dash out to buy lots of Irish cheese. Guardian readers, of course, can stick with their runny brie.
Big news from Alabama, where the Republican Party is embroiled in a “sex clams” scandal involving local politician and judge Roy Moore. Moore’s campaign for the US Sensate is infected by allegations that he molested 14-year-old Leigh Corfman (now 53) and three other teens when he was in his thirties.
“This is one of those excruciating decision moments for evangelicals,” Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. “These allegations, if true, are devastating. If true, this is a very big deal.”
If true. Moore denies any wrongdoing. Corfman stands by her story. The clams are not talking.
Priti Patel (Tory MP, Brexiteer and International Development Secretary) is mired. And some people are pleased.
George Osborne (former Tory MP and arch-Remianer) uses his editorship on the London Evening Standard to report that thousands of people logged on to a website to track Patel’s flying back from Uganda. “Priti Patel’s ‘flight back to London’ tracked by tens of thousands of people as she faces Cabinet axe,” trumpets the paper. BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg says Patel’s sacking seemed “almost inevitable now”. Adding: “If May doesn’t sack her now it’s an ongoing sore that smacks of weakness.”
The furore is over Patel’s meetings with Israeli officials in August. Patel attended 12 meetings in 12 days, including one with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Under the terms of protocol, she was supposed to tell the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The meetings were organised by Conservative Friends of Israel honorary president Lord Polak, who accompanied her to all but one of them.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz says that while on her hols Patel visited an Israeli military field hospital in the Golan Heights – the land seized from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War. The idea was for Israeli medics to treat Syrian refugees. “Officials,” says the BBC, rejected her idea as “inappropriate”. (The views of the wounded and bereft who risked life and limb to flee the barbarity of ISIS and Assad are unknown.)
Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman tells us: “The Secretary of State did discuss potential ways to provide medical support for Syrian refugees who are wounded and who cross into the Golan for aid. The Israeli army runs field hospitals there to care for Syrians wounded in the civil war. But there is no change in policy in the area. The UK does not provide any financial support to the Israeli army.”
“This summer I travelled to Israel, on a family holiday paid for myself. While away I had the opportunity to meet a number of people and organisations. I am publishing a list of who I met. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office was aware of my visit while it was underway.
“In hindsight, I can see how my enthusiasm to engage in this way could be mis-read, and how meetings were set up and reported in a way which did not accord with the usual procedures. I am sorry for this and I apologise for it.
The Jewish Chronicle has more. It says: “Number 10 instructed… Patel not to include her meeting with the Israel foreign ministry official Yuval Rotem in New York on 18 September in her list of undisclosed meetings with Israelis… [A meeting Rotem broadcasts on social media]. But the JC understands, from two different sources, that Ms Patel did disclose the meeting with Mr Rotem but was told by Number 10 not to include it as it would embarrass the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In addition, the JC can reveal that although Ms Patel’s meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was not authorised in advance, the British government was made aware of it within hours.”
Today Number Ten confirmed that it had only found out this morning about her plan to hand some British aid money over to the Israelis to use as part of their (legendarily good) aid missions.
It had no idea. And then you get to wonder what part Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, plays in all this:
But this puzzles me. Well before last week’s James Landale scoop about Ms Patel’s meetings with Israeli politicians, I was told very matter of factly that there would soon be an announcement of cooperation between the UK and Israel over aid in Africa – that we would divert some of our aid money to the Israelis to fund some of their aid work there.
I was told that it had been signed off between DfID and Number Ten, but that the FCO had kicked off because it felt its toes were being trodden on.
In which case, it’s not Patel who should go; it’s May.
In today’s episode of ‘Hey dude, where’s my flying car?’ Uber is promoting its flying taxis. The Evening Standard says Uber has “revealed” it’s plans for flying cabs, in much the same way, I suppose, Facebook boss Mark Zuckenberg revealed his plans to end all disease, an entrepreneur revealed his intention of using lightning to power the planet and a second grader revealed their plans for sweets that are good for you.
The minicab firm released new video footage on Wednesday as it announced it would be bringing testing of the airborne cars to Los Angeles by 2020.
And just as soon as the flying cars have been made, we’ll all be riding in one. But they’re not really cars. They’re aircraft. Uber’s head of product Jeff Holden says the company has signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA to create a brand-new air traffic control system to manage these low-flying, possibly autonomous aircraft.
Cynics might say that having stuffed up on the ground – most notably in London where Uber was deemed “not fit and proper” to hold a private hire licence – Uber is off into the firmament where no-one can hear their passengers scream. And But it is a nice idea. And just as soon as Uber drivers have retrained as pilot, paying for the course from their own pockets, natch., it’ll be up and running.
How bad is sports writing? Like everyone else who cares – and many more who do not – we too saw the Arsenal squad wearing their Christmas jumpers to highlight the work of Save the Children. Since 2011, the club has raised over £2million for the charity.
But to the Daily Mirror, this is a reason to produce “7 things we spotted from Arsenal’s charity Christmas jumper team photo”.
The Mirror provides no link to the charity nor does it mention Christmas Jumper Day (December 15), which is why the Arsenal were wearing seasonal sweaters.
Theo “Woolcott”, “Sweater” Cech, “Gra-Knit” Xhaka and the rest of the Arsenal squad have donned festive jumpers for a special squad picture with mascot Gunnersaurus.
To help raise funds for our global charity partner Save the Children, we have created a range of exclusive Christmas Arsenal knits, which each carry a 20 per cent donation of the RRP to Save the Children.
Weak of the Mirror not to link their dire article to the charity. But they do notice that team manager Arsene Wenger is in the photo (Spot 4 on the paper’s list). That’s the same Wenger who, according to the Mirror, left the club on June 30.
Eight people died and 11 injured in the worst terror attack on New York since September 11, 2001 as a lone wolf extremist screaming “Allahu Akbar” used a pick-up truck to mow down cyclists along a bike path on Halloween.
He did this alone? Sayfullo Saipov has no connection with any organised group, says the paper. He’s got the jihadi slogans, jihadi mode of attack and the jihadi beard, a panoply of symbols beneath which his violent urges achieve a narrative.
His is the face of a leaderless rejection of Western society, a fearful, murderous malcontent. Can we find some comfort in international terrorism manifest in an ordinary, unexceptional man with a limited access to weapons, albeit one who is capable of committing a brutal act of mass murder?
If we call the suspect a “lone wolf”, don’t we ignore the causes that led to him wilfully killing people, negating debate and investigation by adapting the crime to fit out own prejudices and anxieties?
The terrorists can’t dictate our reaction to their actions. The attack on innocent people going about their day under a clear New York sky can be meaningless, signifying something much less than a looming war.
Remember Alex Wubbels. the nurse roughed up by police for doing her job? Well, she’s been awarded $500,000 for her ordeal. When she rightly refused police demands to take blood from an unconscious man, the police cuffed, her and dragged her outside. Gratifyingly, the police thuggery was recored on a bodycam.
The money will be paid by Salt Lake City and the University of Utah. Detective Jeff Payne was sacked from his job with Salt Lake City police. No other police were busted – chiefly Payne’s colleague who stood by and watched it happen. Payne is taking his dismissal to appeal.
“We all deserve to know the truth, and the truth comes when you see the actual raw footage, and that’s what happened in my case,” says Wubbels. “No matter how truthful I was in telling my story, it was nothing compared to what people saw and the visceral reaction people experienced when watching the footage of the experience I went through.” Media matters.
Ms Wubbels has donated some of her compensation to a nursing union and plans to use the money to help other abused by police who can’t respect the law.
The Daily Mail has a story about on-the-clock sex and immigrants. The news comes via a BBC Three documentary on life in Liverpool:
Sex workers in a major British city are said to be selling their bodies for as little as £4 – with prostitutes blaming an influx of Eastern European competitors for pushing down prices.
That this is bad is pointed to by the Mail’s images of prostitutes and pimps lurking in the shadows looking miserable. Have you ever seen a newspaper story on prostitution featuring a woman running through bluebells? That the women are in need of rescue is a given.
Punters want cheap sex. There’s the obvious economic argument to defer from the headline: increased supply and a steady demand leads to lower prices. But the market for flesh is geared towards risk: it’s legal to sell your body in private but selling it in a public space, kerb-crawling, running a brothel and pimping are illegal. In an unregulated environment buying sex is a crime. Prostitution is a dangerous business. How can a woman complain of abuse and criminality, access safe lodgings and medical support without getting into trouble and running pellmell into judgement?
“The worst thing about prostitution is the lack of respect and opprobrium, and the pity and the assumptions that are piled onto prostitutes,” says AA Gill. “The root cause of all the dangers and misery of prostitution is because society despises prostitutes and the men who use them. So I wouldn’t make any of it illegal but what I would do is insist that anyone who used a prostitute had to work as a prostitute once a year, just to see what it was like.” Good idea.
The documentary tells the story of crack addict Natalie, who works on the streets to fund her habit.
Selling sex is a reality. A woman’s autonomous choice to sell her body is often fed by a consuming need. “They sell sex to pay for their habits,” says Michaela Edwards of the charity Streetwise. “Some do it to pay for Christmas presents for the kids. Some to pay the rent after getting their benefits cut.”
It’s about the money, right? “I’ve had to give a blow job out for a tenner because I’d been rattling for the heroin. Some days it’s even hard to make 60 quid,” says Hayley on the show. “Obviously the men are coming asking for cheaper money and we’re saying ‘no’. Then other girls are going and doing it,” says Hayley. “Some girl’s done it for £8, for anal and everything.”
And of the £4 rate, she adds: “Sex, here – some of the girls give it away for four quid. Because they’re battling for business, because they’re desperate to get crack.”
And having introduced the show’s plot, the Mail than adds:
A man named Jack, who lives with Natalie, blames Eastern European sex workers for flooding the market and slashing prices. He claims women come from as far as Serbia and Croatia and sell sex for rock bottom prices.
He said: ‘They’re absolute stunners. But the local girls… Sometimes I have to lend them my teeth.’
In time for Halloween, a witch hunt. Allegations unspecified are front page news. No need for reason and objective judgement because the story of MPs allegedly sexually harassing “furious female researchers, secretaries and aides working across Whitehall and the Houses of Parliament” (Sun) has a life of its own.
Women have “shared horror stories and warned of sleazy male politicians”. And they’ve chosen to do so on WattsApp. The Sun has a list of accusations, which include “groping”, “leering”, “pursuing” and having sex with staff in Parliamentary offices. The paper tells of anticipated resignations. Because an allegation is enough to end a career. It’s not justice we grave; it’s guilt.
Readers are told that these “revelations”, or what would be better termed ‘accusations’, “follow Hollywood’s Harvey Weinstein sex scandal, in which the movie mogul was accused by multiple women”. Weinstein has been accused of the heinous crime of rape, which he denies. And his innocence must be presumed. We can agree on that, right? Arrests, charges and trials are staging posts to truth. Allegations mean just that. Nothing tested in court and made to hurdle barriers to justice serves no purpose in a society founded on reason. If Weinstein did it – and, boy, are there a lot of claims made against him – put him through the system.
No MP has been named in the Sun’s expose. And none has been accused of the heinous crime of rape. But in our hot and heavy sexually-charged world, an unwelcome advance, a lewd comment or a misjudged flirtation is on a par with violent physical assault. How does that help victims of brutal, life-changing crimes?
Reading the Press is to realise that Westminster is embroiled in a sexual-harassment crisis. Is it?
Stymied from reporting on consensual sex between cheating showbiz stars, ministers, footballers and even snooker players in raucous and saucy kiss ‘n’ tells by the Leveson Inquiry, papers turned to the less potentially libellous news that dead men had been embroiled in a murderous VIP paedophile ring. The new focus is on another group in urgent need of protecting: adult women cowed into silence by a predatory patriarchy operating out of Westminster. (Anyone else miss the News of The World?)
Jimmy Savile is away
The story has reached the top. Theresa May’s spokeswoman tells media:
“Any allegations from anyone would be taken very seriously. We would encourage anyone who has a serious allegation to report it to the police, no matter who it is or where it is.
“My understanding is it would be House authorities [they would report to]. But obviously if they are working for an MP or party they can approach the party. If it’s a serious allegation they can go to the police.
“All parties, all employers in any walk of life including politics must take this seriously. No industry or area is immune to that, including politics.”
You Will Be Believed
Will the police be any more or less objective than May?
In 2016, Nottinghamshire Police said sexual harassment was a hate crime. “What women face, often on a daily basis, is absolutely unacceptable and can be extremely distressing,” stated chief constable Sue Fish. A spokesperson for End Violence Against Women added: “What we are talking about is not trivial behaviour – some harassment that women and girls receive in public is upsetting and should have the attention of the authorities.”
Delicate, chaste woman shown sex toy! Ann Summers shocked
So much for equality. Women are vulnerable and in need of State protection from men, who are all sex criminals-in-waiting. For those of you unable to hire your own police guard, the message is don’t drive or cycle. If you must leave the house, travel in women-only train carriages, or wait until a trusted male relative is free to accompany you to the market. And wear a crinoline burka. The police can’t be everywhere, but you can take precautions.
In the meantime, it’d be sage for every MP, politico, sitting Lord and civil servant to publicly praise any woman saying #MeToo (what police might term “credible and true“) on an encrypted messaging App as ‘brave’. Failure will do this will place any man in the role of enabler and suspect.
Sharks get a tough run with humanity, whether it being fins made into soup, teeth worn as necklaces or the cultural approbation / plasticface that saw the biggest shark role in Hollywood history played by a machine. At the International Spy Museum in Washington D.C., visitors are advised against tapping on the glass. This is, of course, an invitation to tap on the glass, which one shark feast-sized human did:
The display is part of a museum exhibit called “Earth Redesigned.” The show includes the vision of fictional character Karl Stromberg of the James Bond book and film “The Spy Who Loved Me,” and his ideas about a post-apocalyptic war world beneath the sea.
“What would Stromberg’s world be like?” the museum asks on the display’s webpage. “Find out as you experience the residents in our virtual shark tank … but be careful — you never know when one might attack!”
Juice Media makes “Honest Government Adverts” that lampoon Australian politicians and policies. It’s all a little dystopian – there are videos on dying koalas; mass pollution killing whales; corporate greed; torture – often following adverts for very expensive watches and consumer goods, like Capri Sun, the sugary drink served in a non-recyclable polyester, aluminium and polyethylene carton.
So much for the satire:
And despite being a lot better mannered than most Australian politicos, the actual Australian government wants to quieten Juice Media’s voice on pain of law. It’s only satire if the Government says it is.
Juice Media tweets:
The Dept of the Prime Minister has received complaints from members of the public raising concerns that the content on this website may be “mistaken for Australian Government material … It would be appreciated if you would ensure that The Juice Media productions do not use the Australian Government logo to avoid The Juice Media productions being mistaken for Australian Government material”.
Here’s the email. (It came with the standard confidentiality note but I’ve learned the Govt isn’t a fan of privacy anyway, so meh) pic.twitter.com/Fq7Fs5ng02
The proposed legislation does include an exemption for “conduct engaged in solely for genuine satirical, academic or artistic purposes.” But, as critics have noted, this gives the government leeway to attack satire that it does not consider “genuine.” Similarly, the limitation that conduct be “solely” for the purpose of satire could chill speech. Is a video produced for satirical purposes unprotected because it was also created for the purpose of supporting advertising revenue?
Government lawyers failing to understand satire is hardly unique to Australia. In 2005, a lawyer representing President Bush wrote to The Onion claiming that the satirical site was violating the law with its use of the presidential seal. The Onion responded that it was “inconceivable” that anyone would understand its use of the seal to be anything but parody. The White House wisely elected not to pursue the matter further. If it had, it likely would have lost on First Amendment grounds. Australia, however, does not have a First Amendment (or even a written bill of rights) so civil libertarians there are rightly concerned that the proposed law against impersonation could be used to attack political commentary. We hope the Australian government either kills the bill or amends the law to include both a requirement of intent to deceive and a more robust exemption for satire.
For a mere 91 hours Dustin Lance, 32, held an erection. The prolonged boner – the effects of a pill seconded from a fellow lag – caused Lance, in his words, “unbearable pain”. His bellend will never be the same again.
And his feelings are hurt, too. Lance says prison guards “repeatedly mocked him while denying him medical treatment”. What with this being America, he’s called in the country’s first emergency service: the lawyers, and is suing Pittsburg County jail in McAlester, Oklahoma.
Lance, who was serving time for burglary and possession of a controlled dangerous substance, says after being admitted to hospital, doctors “told defendants the plaintiff needed to be seen by a urologist specialist” immediately. But Lance says instead of rushing him to specialist care, deputies took him back to jail to organise a recognisance bond and”further delayed the treatment”.
Lance is seeking the entirely reasonable sum of $5 million damages. He really is going to stick it to The Man, and keep on sticking it until the sun goes down, comes up, goes down…
You can make a story out of anything. Take the Sun’s news that “Arsenal and Manchester City face disqualification from [the] Carabao Cup”.Why? Well, the Sun says they stand accused of “making too many substitutions in extra-time”. It’s the ‘CARABAO KO”.
Readers are told:”Arsenal needed extra-time to beat Norwich 2-1 and City saw off Wolves in a penalty shootout but both are waiting to discover if they broke rules over subs.”
The rules are, according to the Sun:
‘The Premier League giants made four changes — two in extra-time — and the Canaries will demand clarification from the Football League. Four subs are a novelty for cup ties this season but the rules imply only one can be used after 90 minutes.’
Arsenal and City have ready-made defences should the matter reach the legal stage. Bristol Rovers, Bournemouth, Brighton Burnley, Brentford, Portsmouth and Cardiff City all made two changes in extra-time in the Cup’s earlier rounds.
A quick look at the rules tell us that Arsenal and Manchester City did nothing wrong:
10.1 Subject to Rule 10.2, in all matches, each team is permitted up to seven substitutes of whom not more than three may take part in the match.
10.2 Where any match goes to extra time (in accordance with the provisions of Rules 14.4, 14.5 and/or 14.6), then subject to the League having obtained the prior approval of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) to the application of this Rule, each Club participating in that match will be permitted to use an additional substitute (in extra time only).
And having suggested that Arsenal and Manchester City could be booted from the competition because it failed to understand the rules, the Sun then notes:
‘The Gunners made a total of four subs, making use of the rule that you can use one added change when a tie heads to extra-time. Arsenal made TWO in extra-time, causing some debate among Twitter users to suggest that Arsene Wenger had broken the rule.”
Isn’t new media crap and full of fake news, eh. It’s nothing like the trusty, subjective and truthful old media, is it? (Yes, it is, ed).
In November 1922, Noble-Prize winner Albert Einstein (March 14, 1879–April 18, 1955) was in Japan to deliver a series of lectures. At Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel, Einstein was greeted by a bellboy delivering a message. With no cash to hand, Einstein wrote a note on a sheet of hotel stationery and handed it to the man. “Stilles bescheidenes Leben gibt mehr Glueck als erfolgreiches Streben, verbunden mit bestaendiger Unruhe,” he wrote. (Translation: A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness).
He told the messenger that if he was lucky, the notes would become valuable. On October 24, the courier ‘s nephew sold the letters at auction for $1.56m.
I’m relieved Labour MP Jared O’Mara has been exposed. To think that young Bear Payne will one day read the crude remarks made by this man about his dearly loved mum, Cheryl Cole – a national treasure – is appalling. O’Mara, MP for Sheffield Hallam, told an internet bulletin board as recently as 2004 that he fancied an orgy with Chery’s old group Girls Aloud, said Michelle McManus won Pop Idol “because she was fat” and imagined jazz star Jamie Cullum being “sodomised with his own piano”.
Rightly Labour is looking into O’Mara’s words. “The party is investigating Jared O’Mara MP in relation to comments and behaviour which have been reported from earlier this year,”says Labour.
“If only he’d just slagged off Jews and denied the Holocaust, this would have been a storm in a tea-cup and easily ignored,” says on insider. “But he spoke about Cheryl and Sarah and the ginger one whose name escapes me, and there can be no excuses when it comes to commenting on Great British celebrities.”
And that’s not all. A woman called Sophie Evans bravely told the BBC’s Daily Politics she had met Mr O’Mara on a dating app and there had been “no hard feelings” when things didn’t work out between them. The BBC adds:
Mr O’Mara, who was DJing in a nightclub, made comments to her that “aren’t broadcastable” and called her an “ugly bitch”, she said.
Blimey. That’s from the broadcaster that shows us Mrs Brown’s Boys and EastEnders. It really must have been terrible – beyond god-awful. On yer knees, bitch O’Mara. Repent.
Mr O’Mara says it is “categorically untrue”.
But we’ve heard enough, No smoke without a pre-vape shafting, as they say. And in an open letter to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Justine Greening, the Education Secretary and Equalities Minister, thunders: “Violent, sexist and homophobic language must have no place in our society, and parliamentarians of all parties have a duty to stamp out this sort of behaviour wherever we encounter it, and condemn it in the strongest possible terms. It is time you step forward, as leader of the Labour Party, and send a message that this sort of behaviour will not be tolerated.”
Perish the thought Girls Aloud and a row between a man and his ex can be used for political gain. Indeed, Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable says it’s only right Mr O’Mara has the whip removed. And who more reasoned and sober than he?
Says O’Mara: “I’ve stood down from the Women and Equalities select committee… I think it’s the right thing to do. I don’t think I can continue on that committee when I feel so deeply ashamed of the man I was 15 years ago.”
Oh, don’t beat yourself up, mate. Girls aloud were pretty shaggable back then.
No sooner is the secret out that a powerful Hollywood producer has been using his position to force himself on starlets than we read of Max Stafford-Clark, currently 76 years young and no longer with the Out of Joint theatre company following a complaint of sexual harassment.
Out of Joint staffer Gina Abolins tells the Guardian that Stafford-Clark told her: “Back in the day, I’d have been up you like a rat up a drainpipe but now I’m a reformed character. My disability means I’m practically a virgin again.”Between 2006 and 2007, Stafford-Clark suffered three strokes that left him disabled and partially blind.
“I felt really victimised actually,” adds Abolins. “That was him exerting his power over me in a crude manner. I felt really bullied and objectified.”
Good that this old man who suffers from brain damage following a stroke has been shunted out. Stafford-Clark can take his stick, his wheelchair, his regret and his pseudobulbar palsy and get thee hence.
A quick glance at Wikipedia tells us of his condition:
Pseudobulbar palsy is a medical condition characterized by the inability to control facial movements (such as chewing and speaking) and caused by a variety of neurological disorders. Patients experience difficulty chewing and swallowing, have increased reflexes and spasticity in tongue and the bulbar region, and demonstrate slurred speech (which is often the initial presentation of the disorder), sometimes also demonstrating uncontrolled emotional outbursts.
Pseudobulbar palsy results from disease of the corticobulbar tracts. Bilateral tract damage must occur for clinically evident disease as the muscles are bilaterally innervated.
Tongue – paralysed; no wasting initially and no fasciculations; ‘Donald Duck’ speech; unable to protrude.
Palatal movements absent.
Facial muscles – may also be paralysed.
Reflexes – exaggerated (eg, jaw jerk).
Nasal regurgitation may be present.
Emotional lability may also be present.
A spokesperson for Stafford-Clark offers:
“Occasional loss of the ability to inhibit urges results in him displaying disinhibited and compulsive behaviour and his usual (at times provocative) behaviour being magnified, often causing inappropriate social behaviour.”
Abolins adds: “What I’ve learned from this experience is that appearances can be deceiving and you don’t have to be a fighting fit person to make someone feel bullied.”
Creepy comments from the theatre great, for sure. And there was more:
Other women who have worked with Stafford-Clark said he also made lewd comments to them. Three women, including Abolins, told the Guardian that Stafford-Clark asked them about losing their virginity.
Abolins said the director asked her and another woman the question during auditions for Rita, Sue and Bob Too, in which two 15-year-old girls have a sexual affair with a married man.
The playwright Rachel De-Lahay said she was asked this question in reference to the play on a separate occasion and had “found herself over-talking and rambling through this story”. Later she said she was angry “not because he asked me but because I had answered”.
A woman who worked for Stafford-Clark as a personal assistant in 2016 said the director asked her about losing her virginity several times. Steffi Holtz, 25, told the Guardian the director had a reputation for always being “outrageous”, which allowed him to get away with making inappropriate comments.
Holtz said: “The worst thing he said, I was sat at his desk and he said, ‘If you were sat on the desk there in front of me I would eat you out.’ Coming from a 75-year-old man, I was in absolute shock. You feel so uncomfortable … It makes me feel so uncomfortable to even say that.”
Holtz did not make a complaint and left the role after about 18 months. “I didn’t feel brave or confident enough at that time of my life to challenge that authority.”
Lest you think an old man making crude, objectifying comments in an industry where looks matter greatly no great surprise, Abolins adds: “We are at an important time, where people are standing up and telling their stories. If more people can find the strength to speak out, hopefully we can make a real difference.”
We don’t know whether these allegations are true – and we don’t know if it was Stafford-Clark speaking or his brain tumour. But what we do know is that this sexual-harassment panic has gone too far. Are we going to start firing people with Tourette’s syndrome? Will we start locking up dementia patients, autistic individuals or those who can’t manage to adhere to socially acceptable behaviour? In their search for sexual predators, feminists seem to be willing to throw anyone under the bus – including themselves. In championing the idea that women are too weak to stand up to lewd comments from incapacitated individuals, the only thing that Abolins, De-Lahay and Holtz have done is denigrate the idea that women are just as strong and capable as men. That’s not brave at all.
Max Stafford-Clark’s wife has issued an apology yesterday on behalf of her husband:
Stella Feehily said he was not well enough to respond personally and issued a statement about his medical condition, which means that he has “occasional disinhibition… While this is an explanation, it is not an attempt to dismiss his behaviour. He apologises for any offence caused.”
Our elected reps have decided to investigate pop-up brothels. Given the furore over men abusing rank for sex with young women, MPs paying for sex looks like a step in the right direction.
A pop-up brothel is, of course, nothing of the sort. It’s just that prostitutes are looking for new premises, and that means hiring a place through short-term holiday letting places, like Airbnb. We’re not yet at the stage where sex is sold on ‘artisan’ stalls.
The Guardian says, rather specifically, such lets include “holiday resorts and the Lake District”. Well, you can stare at knobbly knees and wander lonely as a cloud for only so long.
It’s not illegal to sell your body for sex in England and Wales. But running a brothel is a crime. Hence: you rent out places in desirable locations and operate on the QT. It’s nothing new. The West End of London is full of “models” in flats they don’t own. It would take a real enthusiast to sell their body for sex when they own a central London flat off Baker Street (current market rate: £1million plus).
The thinking is that the “internet has changed the shape of the off-street sex trade, allowing customers to contact hundreds of workers more easily”. Supply and demand, right?
Labour MP Gavin Shuker, who is chairing the inquiry, tells media: “A lack of enforcement action and a lack of interest from politicians means we normally only see the tip of the iceberg. What we’re hoping to do is flush out the true scale of what brothel-keeping looks like.”
Laura Watson from the English Collective of Prostitutes, takes a different tone: “Closure orders are being widely used and every closure makes it harder for sex workers to insist on decent working conditions. Some have been forced to move multiple times in a few months. They can’t invest in security measures like CCTV, or employ anyone to help keep them safe, and they have less chance to refuse clients – a key marker of exploitation.”