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News | Anorak - Part 56

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Sanchez kisses the badge and stays at Arsenal

Alexis Sanchez has been training hard at Arsenal. And today he did the unthinkable: he kissed the badge.

 

 

Might it be that Sanchez wants to remain at Arsenal, the club offering him £280,000 to extend his current contract? The Mirror says Sanchez” will tell Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger this week that he wants to join Manchester City.” But he hasn’t told him yet. And even if he does, Wenger’s non-plussed. “He is focused. My decision is clear, he will stay. He will accept that,” says Wenger. He adds: “The frame of mind of a footballer is quite easy – once you go out into the game, you focus on that.”

 

Posted: 3rd, August 2017 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment


New Yorkers have stopped vaccinating pets over autism fears

The Brooklyn Paper reports that local New Yorkers are refusing to vaccinate their pets over autism fears. Holistic hipsters are buying into the anti-vaxx movement and “applying it to their pets”.

“I really don’t know what the reasoning is,” says Dr. Amy Ford of Veterinarian Wellness Center of Boerum Hill. “They just feel that injecting chemicals into their pet is going to cause problems. I had a client concerned about an autistic child who didn’t want to vaccinate the dog for the same reason,” adds Dr. Stephanie Liff of Clinton Hill’s Pure Paws Veterinary Care. “Most trends in veterinary medicine are extensions of human medicine, so I think the anti-vaccination movement extending into veterinary medicine is natural.”

Dog and cat owners are legally obliged to inject their pets with anti-rabies serum. How many of these pets have autism is hard to tell. But we should be able to count the number of human being being treated for rabies after a hipster’s dog bit them. As ever, the lawyers are ready…

 

 

Posted: 3rd, August 2017 | In: News | Comment


Jade Goody returns for one more Big Brother

jade goody derek acorah

 

Good news for TV types looking to create telly on a low-budget: when you hire to-deadline psychic Derek Acorah, you also get Jade Goody and David Gest. It’s a three-for-one deal. Sure, two of the trio are dead, but if it’s good enough for God, it’s more than works for Celebrity Big Brother.

In the Daily Star, we read: “Derek claims to be in touch with dead housemates Jade Goody and David Gest.” The rest of us can catch them on Big Brother highlights reels, which haven’t needed to be updated for years.

Now, who fancies a Popadom?

 

Posted: 3rd, August 2017 | In: Celebrities, News, TV & Radio | Comment


In Germany you can drink at the UnBrexit pub

In Ahaus, Germany, you can drink at the UnBrexit pub. spotted the place which opened in July this year:

 

UnBrexit pub germany

UnBrexit pub germany

 

British pubs are closing – patrons driven away by the smoking ban and a lack of cash; pulled home by discount supermarket fizz, central heating, your own toilet, fridges, smart phones and take-away delivery drivers schlepping round anything your heart desires to shove in your pie-hole. The pub, once the hub of British social life has been killed off by wealth.

The UnBrexit is more Harvester than hipster. No stripped brick walls, rickety, eclectic furniture and too-cool-for-school staff who do tattoos with irony and holes with narcissism. This one’s got those vomit-friendly carpets, high seating and a gastropub menu.

 

Unbrexit Unbrexit Unbrexit

 

The theme pub is on a mission:

The die is cast: Britain will leave the European Union. But only one year after the British have voted to quit the EU, The Unbrexit is our answer to this unexpected referendum: 400 sq m of British ground in the center of Europe. The Unbrexit will be the last British place remaining part of the EU in the near future.

Order your lasagna and chips at the bar.

Posted: 3rd, August 2017 | In: News, The Consumer | Comment


Norwegian news site blocks readers who don’t understand the story before commenting

NRK comments vetting

 

Anyone visiting the website of Norway’s NRK website is asked to take a quiz if they want to comment on a story. The idea is to ensure that everyone about to comment understands the story, which is, of course, factually accurate and not in the least bit biased.

Readers are faced with three questions. Get them all right and you can post a comment. Get just one wrong, and you are banned.

“We thought we should do our part to try and make sure that people are on the same page before they comment,” journalist Ståle Grut tells Nieman Lab. “If everyone can agree that this is what the article says, then they have a much better basis for commenting on it.”

“If you spend 15 seconds on it, those are maybe 15 seconds that take the edge off the rant mode when people are commenting,” said Marius Arnesen, editor of NKRbeta.

While many outlets have gotten rid of comments and outsourced reader conversations to platforms such as Facebook, others like NRKbeta are working to improve on-site conversations.

Last week, Google parent company Alphabet announced that it was working with The New York Times, The Economist, The Guardian, and Wikipedia to test a new tool called Perspective that uses machine learning to identify “toxic” comments, which it defines as “rude, disrespectful, or unreasonable comment that is likely to make you leave a discussion.”

Machine learning v human speech and interaction. Only one winner there. Can we agree to just let the bots and SEO wonks take over the Internet and the rest of us go down the pub?

 

Posted: 2nd, August 2017 | In: News, Technology | Comment


Alexis Sanchez was in Paris to get his UK work permit

alexis sanchez agents Paris

 

You read the news that Arsenal striker Alexis Sanchez has “agreed“a  four-year contract with Paris Saint Germain? You read that the Arsenal player had been in Paris to meet with PSG reps? And like me you thought it odd that no-one had a photo of Sanchez in Paris. Now Sanchez is in London, training with – yep – Arsenal. But the Daily Mail has news: “Judgment Day: Wantaway Sanchez flies back to London ahead of return to Arsenal… but what was he doing with his lawyer in Paris?”

He was, er, agreeing to play for PSG?

The Mail doesn’t answer. It just notes that “his brief stop-off in France has led to some fans questioning whether PSG is his next destination, while Man City supporters are still hopeful he will arrive at the Etihad.”

Hie next destination turned out to be Arsenal. Which leaves us to wonder what Sanchez was doing in Paris, if it wasn’t to sign a contract with PSG? The Daily Telegraph explains:

Ruben Inostroza Povea, who is Sanchez’s lawyer, uploaded a picture of the pair preparing to leave Santiago airport, Chile, on Sunday evening.

Odd. The paper said he was already in Paris. But at least his time there was a photo to prove that he wasn’t. But why was Sanchez heading to the French capital?

According to Povea’s Instagram picture, the trip included a stopover in Paris, where the forward is thought to have renewed his British work permit.

Just like he did in 2014, when he first joined Arsenal.

Such are the facts.

 

Posted: 1st, August 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Key Posts, Manchester City, News, Sports | Comment


Snowglobes top list of confiscated airport items

MArmite London airport

 

In a move that should have marketing types swooning, London City airport has issued a Marmite amnesty. Passengers passing through the airport found in possession of the processed spread will not have it seized at customs so long as the jar is the new 70g miniature. Passengers will be offered the chance to exchange any larger jars in their luggage for the smaller pots for free

It’s a move that should prove popular because Marmite was found to be the most common branded food item confiscated from passengers’ hand luggage.

“With 4.5 million passengers travelling through our doors each year, we see all kinds of weird and wonderful restricted items, including Marmite,” says Melanie Burnley, director of customer experience at London City airport. “The Marmite swap is a temporary but popular addition which means that whether you love it or hate it, you’ll still be able to get your Marmite fix when travelling from this airport.”

The airport has listed the 10 most commonly confiscated items:

Snow globes
Jams and spreads
Toiletries
Jars of chutney and pickles
Olive oil
Wine
Spirits
Marmite
Nutella chocolate spread
Furry handcuffs

No sign of knives, bombs, poison and all the other stuff the officials are actually looking for.

Posted: 1st, August 2017 | In: News, The Consumer | Comment


Did the Kosher Conspiracy do for Kevin Myers – sacked for using anti-Semitic tropes in the Sunday Times?

The Sunday Times has sacked Kevin Myers for his appalling article on the BBC gender pay gap. In it, Myers looked own the list of BBC earners and picked out Vanessa Feltz and Claudia Winkleman. The two Jews, he suggested, earned more because of their Jewishness.

The story is no longer on the paper’s website but you can see part of it below:

 

Sunday Times Kevin Myers Jews

 

Myers wrote:

I note that two of the best-paid women presenters in the BBC – Claudia Winkleman and Vanessa Feltz, with whose, no doubt, sterling work I am tragically unacquainted – are Jewish. Good for them. Jews are not generally noted for their insistence on selling their talent for the lowest possible price, which is the most useful measure there is of inveterate, lost-with-all-hands stupidity. I wonder, who are their agents?”

Myers has gone. The paper has apologised. But how did the nastiness ever make it into print in the first place? Frank Fitzgibbon, editor of the Sunday Times Ireland, tells everyone: “As the editor of the Ireland edition, I take full responsibility for this error of judgement.”

Judgement? He means the story was looked at and approved? And what of Myers, who in 2009, wrote for the Irish Independent:

“There was no holocaust (or Holocaust, as my computer software insists) and six million Jews were not murdered by the Third Reich. These two statements of mine are irrefutable truths.”

That article remained online until yesterday. Didn’t the Sunday Times know what it was getting with Myers on the payroll? Didn’t it just get what it paid for?

 

 

Irish Indy Kein Myers holocaust

 

 

The New Statesman’s ‘Media Mole’ says Myers has been sacked for using an “antisemitic trope”. It goes on:

The Irish edition of the Sunday Times operates separately from the UK versions of the Times and Sunday Times. However, the column’s appearance on the TheTimes.co.uk is likely to reflect on the brand as a whole.

Rival organs like to stick the boot in, using the others’ pain to bolster their own sound morals. But readers might recall the New Statesman’s vile cover which employed another anti-Semitic trope, that of Jews being only out for themselves:

 

anti-Semitic new statesman kosher conspiracy

 

Its editor followed up:

“The cover was not intended to be anti-Semitic, the New Statesman is vigorously opposed to racism in all its forms. But it used images and words in such a way as to create unwittingly the impression that the New Statesman was following an anti-Semitic tradition that sees the Jews as a conspiracy piercing the heart of the nation.

“I doubt very much that one single person was provoked into hatred of Jews by our cover. But I accept that a few anti-Semites (as some comments on our website, quickly removed, suggested) took aid and comfort when it appeared that their prejudices were shared by a magazine of authority and standing.”

It’s funny how so many intelligent, sensitive and compassionate people keep getting it wrong and coming across as anti-Semitic bastards. But – hey-ho – you can’t legislate for your readers’ misunderstanding.

Sunday Times cartoon shows bloodstained Netanyahu burying Obama in his wall of death

Posted: 31st, July 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Key Posts, News | Comment


Angelia Jolie’s celebrity colonialism comes a cropper

Angelina Jolie has been casting for her film set in Cambodia. The film, First They Killed My Father, features children living under Pol Pot’s murderous regime. According to Evgenia Peretz writing for Vanity Fair, the auditions involved a novel form of mental torture and exploitation. Jolie, a woman with the purchasing power to pluck orphans from slums, slap an ‘X’ on the names and transport them to an American mansion to appreciate the kind of lifestyle a Russian oligarch might find gauche, was looking for the right kind of desperate child:

To cast the children in the film, Jolie looked at orphanages, circuses, and slum schools, specifically seeking children who had experienced hardship. In order to find their lead, to play young Loung Ung, the casting directors set up a game, rather disturbing in its realism: they put money on the table and asked the child to think of something she needed the money for, and then to snatch it away. The director would pretend to catch the child, and the child would have to come up with a lie. “Srey Moch [the girl ultimately chosen for the part] was the only child that stared at the money for a very, very long time,” Jolie says. “When she was forced to give it back, she became overwhelmed with emotion. All these different things came flooding back.” Jolie then tears up. “When she was asked later what the money was for, she said her grandfather had died, and they didn’t have enough money for a nice funeral.”

Presumably all the losers in this ugly contest got an all-expenses paid trip back to the slums from whence they’d came. And what of the local stage school kids who’ve trained to act – because it’s all about pretending, right? Would Jolie pull a similar stunt in the US? Would poor children in Jolie’s native LA be used to make the stinking rich, self-aggrandising narrator’s moralising resonate with purpose and meaning?

Angelina Jolie says she’s been misrepresented. She responds:

Every measure was taken to ensure the safety, comfort and well-being of the children on the film starting from the auditions through production to the present. Parents, guardians, partner NGOs whose job it is to care for children, and medical doctors were always on hand everyday, to ensure everyone had all they needed. And above all to make sure that no one was in any way hurt by participating in the recreation of such a painful part of their country’s history.

I am upset that a pretend exercise in an improvisation, from an actual scene in the film, has been written about as if it was a real scenario. The suggestion that real money was taken from a child during an audition is false and upsetting. I would be outraged myself if this had happened.

The point of this film is to bring attention to the horrors children face in war, and to help fight to protect them.

Is grandstanding and ‘raising awareness’ better than coming up with solutions and handing over cash? Jolie’s work is a movie, something she hopes people in her homeland will spend their leisure time and money watching. Celebrity colonialism might well make viewers and fans in rich countries take notice of stuff in poorer places but is there a shred of evidence it changes lives other than those lucky enough to make it on the plane to the land of make believe?

Posted: 30th, July 2017 | In: Celebrities, Film, Key Posts, News | Comment


Reporting is sketchy in the Witton Station rape case

What facts we have are simply those reported over the newswires. A girl aged either 15 (BBC, Daily Telegraph) or 14 (Birmingham  Mail, Express) was allegedly raped twice at Witton railway station in two separate attacks.

The Times opts to age the alleged victim at 14 and 15:

 

witton rape crime

 

The story goes that the girl was with a friend at Witton station not far from Aston Villa football ground. The BBC says she was “approached by a man who led her to a secluded part of the station and raped her.” It was around 8pm. Reeling from her ordeal, the girl “flagged down a passing car and was assaulted again” at around 2am. There is no word on what happened to her friend.

The Times reports:

She had walked to the station with a friend but was led away by a man who approached her. Shortly after that attack, the girl walked out of the station and flagged down a passing vehicle to ask for help.

After getting into the car, she was then raped by the second man. Detectives from British Transport Police and West Midlands police are looking at CCTV and appealing for witnesses.

British Transport Police and West Midlands Police are treating it as two separate reports of rape.

The BBC describes the suspects:

The first attacker is described by police as an Asian man in his early 20s with light skin, brown eyes, skinny build and about 6ft tall.

Police said the second man was also Asian and in his early 20s and about 5ft 6in to 5ft 7in tall. He was of a large build, with a beard and wore a blue jumper and black jeans.

Police released CCTV images to the public. The Express follows up:

Khurram Rahi, 27, of Rosefield Road, Smethwick was arrested yesterday, July 29, morning in connection to an incident at Witton station on Tuesday 25 July.

He will appear at Birmingham Magistrates’ court on Monday morning.

A 34-year-old man from the Birmingham area who was also arrested on suspicion of rape,has been released under police investigation whilst enquiries continue.

Innocence must be presumed. So no speculation, please. But what of the second man police are seeking. In the Guardian he is described thus:

The man suspected of carrying out the second rape is described as thick set, about 5ft 6in, with large biceps.

The “Asian” part is now omitted.

Det Ch Insp Tony Fitzpatrick, from British Transport Police, tells media:

“This case has gained national interest and I am pleased we are now in a position to charge a man. However, we still have a suspect outstanding for the offence in the vehicle. I would urge anyone who may have any information regarding this attack to get in touch as soon as possible.”

Surely he means the ‘alleged offence in the vehicle’?

 

Posted: 30th, July 2017 | In: News | Comment


Casual anti-Semitism creeps into a Times story on BBC pay: Claudia Winkleman and Vanessa Feltz are Jews

Kevin Myers writes in the Sunday Times:

I note that two of the best-paid women presenters in the BBC — Claudia Winkleman and Vanessa Feltz, with whose, no doubt, sterling work I am tragically unacquainted — are Jewish.

Good for them. Jews are not generally noted for their insistence on selling their talent for the lowest possible price, which is the most useful measure there is of inveterate, lost-with-all-hands stupidity.

I wonder, who are their agents? If they’re the same ones that negotiated the pay for the women on the lower scales, then maybe the latter have found their true value in the marketplace.

 

bbc jews

 

Ouch. How did that one slip past the editors?

sunday times jews bbc

 

Update: The Times online has removed the article.

PS: the Jewish Chronicle notes:

When the BBC reported on its list of highest-paid broadcasters on its News at Ten last night, it said there was no one from an ethnic background in the top 20.

Which was wrong (well, wrong depending on your definition of ethnic minority). For the top 20 included two Jewish women – Claudia Winkleman and Vanessa Feltz.

Spotter: Mat Morrison

 

Posted: 30th, July 2017 | In: Broadsheets, News | Comment


Transfer balls: Arsenal offer Alexis Sanchez £300,000 a week one year deal and other tall stories

What news of Alexis Sanchez, the Chilean footballer last seen cradling the dog that most likely ate his homework when the Arsenal player was a lad? Is the Chilean as ill as she claims to be? That question to Arsenal manger, Arsene Wenger, who replies:

“Your job is to be suspicious. Your job is built on mistrust and my job is built on trust. That’s why I prefer my side… I had him [Sanchez] on text yesterday, he will come back as soon as possible. We were in touch with him and his doctor. There is no basic problem.

“He comes back on Tuesday. I cannot reveal what he says to me. I cannot reveal a secret conversation. He is flying back as soon as he is in position to fly back. He has flu, that is normally four to five days.”

The Sun gives its readers the side eye:

the sun alexis sanchez ill

 

but the facts are the facts. Sanchez is returning to Arsenal and will not be old, something Wenger has stated previously. To date the frenzied press have spotted Sanchez in Paris, where he was meeting with PSG reps in Paris before agreeing a four-year contract, talking in code, met with Manchester City’s reps in London, was on his way to Chelsea, is definitely staying at Arsenal – who will sell him for £80m – and was on his way to live his “dream” and play for Bayern Munich.

Today the Mirror publish more total balls. The paper brings news of a “new twist in the Alexis Sanchez saga”.

 

daily mirror balls alexis sanchez

 

The twist is:

Alexis Sanchez will tell Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger this week that he wants to join Manchester City.

How do we know this? We’re not told.

 

And, as exclusively revealed by Sunday Mirror Sport, he has priced himself out of moves to Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain by demanding £400,000 a week.

This would be the same Mirror newspaper that has told its readers:

Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez finalises deal to join Manchester City in blockbuster summer transfer signing – June 10, 2017

Bayern Munich prepared to make Alexis Sanchez their highest paid-player with £350,000-a-week offer – June 8, 2017

Arsenal superstar Alexis Sanchez targeted by super rich Inter Milan as “poster boy” of new era at San Siro – July 10, 2017

Arsenal transfer news and rumours: Paris Saint-Germain preparing £35million Alexis Sanchez bid? – July 30, 2017

So much for the Mirror’s scoops. And let’s not forget their news that Wenger has quite the club:

 

daily mirror wenger quits sack resigns arsenal

 

The paper adds today:

Wenger insists his star striker will not be sold – even for £50m, with less than 12 months left on his contract. Arsenal are preparing a compromise deal, with the offer of a one-year contract at £300,000 a week and a promise to review the situation next summer.

Such are the facts.

 

Posted: 30th, July 2017 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comments (3)


Charlie Gard has died and journalists are ‘digging for dirt’

Charlie Gard, the 11-month-old boy whose life pitted reason against emotion, has died. Charlie’s mother, Connie Yates, tells the Mail, which seem to have bought the parents’ story from Alison Smith-Squire’s Featureworld: “Our beautiful little boy has gone, we are so proud of you Charlie.”

 

daily mail charlie gard covers

 

Over at Featureworld, another story is brewing. Smith-Squire writes an “open letter”:

While myself and the Charlie Gard family contemplate the death of a little boy, Alexi Mostrous ‘Investigations Editor’ at the Sunday Times is ringing me to dig up dirt on all of us for a nasty little story …

Smith-Squire addresses Mostrous:

Dear Alexi Mostrous

Do you have children? Are you a father? If you do you then you should be ashamed. Because in my opinion if you have any heart whatsoever you, Alexi Mostrous, never would never have rung me as you did today as Charlie is about to die and asked me how much money are myself and the Charlie Gard family making out of their story.

Many parents have been and are nasty sods. To be a breeder doesn’t make you any more or less compassionate than a man who has not fathered children. Are we impressed by people who have had children? Mostrous has merely asked a question. The top of the Featureworld site does include a section “HOW MUCH MONEY”.

 

 

The Mail framed Charlie Gard’s story as a “fight” not only for the child’s life but against medical advice and the ethics that underpins it. Surely a story can be told more than one way”? Isn’t Mostrous trying to do just that? As the late AA Gill noted, “Journalism isn’t an individual sport like books and plays; it’s a team effort. The power of the press is cumulative. It has a conscious human momentum. You can – and probably do – pick up bits of it and sneer or sigh or fling them with great force at the dog. But together they make up the most precious thing we own.”

You can read Smith-Squire’s letter in full here. In it she writes:

Let me tell you how it is. Let me show you, Alexi Mostrous, how compassion for interviewees and a desire to help them rather than ‘getting the story and making money’ is what my sort of journalism is about.

Let me guide you away from the nasty little world in my view you clearly exist in – where everyone is in it for money and you, a salaried staffer at the Oh so squeaky clean Sunday Times and The Times are apparently not…

Without someone like me ensuring vulnerable members of the public are guided through the media hell, some media individuals circle like vultures to take, take, take.

I am a mother myself of three children. So I can glimpse at the hell that Connie Yates and Chris Gard have gone through and the dark days to come.

Yes I am also a journalist . Of course I have to make a living. Like you, Alexi Mostrous I write stories for a living, I report on stories for a living, I supply photos to the media for a living.

This is why interviewees never pay me a penny. It is why I can represent them for free and indeed in some cases also broker deals so that newspapers and magazines are paying them.

The story of Charlie Gard’s plight captured hearts and minds. But ultimately it had something to do with money – if the child’s parents had more of it they could have funded treatment privately.

Posted: 28th, July 2017 | In: News, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer balls: Bale joins Manchester United is a recurring fantasy

Transfer balls: questioned by Real Madrid’s official website, the club’s manager Zinedine Zidane was asked if Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo (the so-called ‘BBC’) were likely to remain.

“I hope the BBC stay for this season,” he replied. “I hope everyone remains. I want everyone who is here now to stay…but anything can happen right up until August 31.”

On the chance of Kylian Mbappe joining Real, Zidane added: “I’m the coach here and you’d have to ask someone else about that. We’re working on things and we’ll see what happens. We’ve got the players who are here now and we’ll just have to see what happens.”

All coy stuff, then. But stick it through the tabloid mincer and you get:

 

bale manchester united bale manchester united bale manchester united

 

That follows the Daily Express’s news of July 19 2017:

Real Madrid star Gareth Bale has secret agreement to join Man Utd next summer

 

And there was the Manchester Evening News story of May 8 2017:

Gareth Bale has agreed to join Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford next season, should the club be able to guarantee involvement in next season’s elite European competition by winning the Europa League .

The story of Bale to United is a familiar one. In November 2015, the Sun said Bale was heading to Old Trafford and Real were in “crisis”. Bale never came. Real went on to win the Champions League.

 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 28th, July 2017 | In: Back pages, manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


Charlie Gard: an emotive trial by media

charlie gard

 

Charlie Gard’s face is splashed across the Daily Mail’s front page. His face hovers above the word “MANSLAUGHTER”. The accusation is not levelled at those who have ruled that the child should die but given some of the reaction to his story it might as well be.

A judge, a rank the Mail not long ago labelled “enemies of the people”, has “ruled” that Charlie Gard cannot die at home. His parents’ words – “We’ve been denied out final wish” – complete the picture. This is another chapter of the story of parents v State – and once gain the State is winning.

Charlie Gard has featured on the Mail’s front page many times. His loving parents sold their story and we got to know about the chronically ill baby boy and his parents’ fight to defy the experts and allow him to leave hospital and undergo experimental treatment.

 

daily mail charlie gard covers

charlie gard newspapers

 

The court case is now over. Charlie Gard will not be subjected to any further treatment. His parents conceded defeat in their legal battle. He is being allowed to die. Reason has triumphed over hope. One US website told is readers that Charlie Gard is the baby the “British courts sentenced to death”. But the ruling was never that callous. Nothing close to it. The therapy on offer was no cure. The High Court judge heard from eight doctors and two nurses. He told the court: “The entire highly experienced UK team, all those who provided second opinions and the consultant instructed by the parents in these proceedings share a common view that further treatment would be futile.”‘ Charlie Gard is living what might be termed a faux life, kept going by machinery but not living autonomously. Medical opinion is in total agreement: he will never get better.

The judge added: “If Charlie’s damaged brain function cannot be improved, as all seem to agree, then how can he be any better off than he is now, which is in a condition that his parents believe should not be sustained?… with complete conviction… that it is in Charlie’s best interests that I accede to these applications and rule that Great Ormond Street Hospital (SOSH) may lawfully withdraw all treatment, save for palliative care, to permit Charlie to die with dignity.”

But emotions run high. Reason fails to inspire. The Star notes how “some on social media channels for campaign group ‘Charlie’s Army’ believe the tot will breathe on his own.” Would you take belief over medial knowledge?

So now news that Charlie’s parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, have been denied time with their child.  They wanted to spend “a week or so” in a hospice with their son before the machines keeping him alive were switched off. But GOSH says that would require a round-the-clock intensive care team. And with none forthcoming by the courts’ deadline, a GOSH spokesman tells media: “Sadly, as the judge has now ruled, there is simply no way that Charlie, a patient with such severe and complex needs, can spend any significant time outside of an intensive care environment safely. The risk of an unplanned and chaotic end to Charlie’s life is an unthinkable outcome for all concerned and would rob his parents of precious last moments with him. As the judge has now ruled, we will arrange for Charlie to be transferred to a specialist children’s hospice, whose remarkable and compassionate staff will support his family at this impossible time.”

Intensive life support cannot be supplied away from a hospital intensive care unit. So Charlie Gard cannot die at home.

This, says the Mail, is “heart-wrenching”. Charlie’s mother tells the paper amid photos of a family picnic  by GOSH: “We just want some peace with our son, no hospital, no lawyers, no courts, no media just quality time with Charlie away from everything to say goodbye to him in the most loving way. Most people won’t ever have to go through what we have been through, we’ve had no control over our son’s life and no control over our son’s death.”

The parents now agree with his son’s doctors that he should die in a hospice. They want him to be kept alive for up to a week but medics say he should “slip away” within a few hours of arriving.

And so a baby kept alive for five months will be allowed to die. The medics who looked after Charlie Gard are not uncaring pen-pushers. GOSH and the courts are not places where children are sentenced to death and human life is cheap. Ethics matter.

But something nags. Was it all about money? And if it was – and money must always be a factor when resources are not infinite – why can’t a rich country provide for its own?

This struggle was for Charlie Gard and the future for us all. It was for those not yet born. It was for love, reason and force of argument. Through that we hope to get to the truth.

Posted: 28th, July 2017 | In: News, Tabloids | Comment


Reject new trolling laws: free speech means being free to lampoon and abuse MPs

British politicians have been subjected to a wave “of racism, sexism and homophobia” on social media, spiking during the General Election. Not all of it is satirical lampooning of our elected and unelected representatives. A fair amount of it is cruel and vindictive. But – yep, there’s the ‘but’ – so what? If you trammel what can and cannot be said to an MP, you have lost an essential part of democracy.

Tory MP Simon Hart said things have taken a turn for the worse. The “robust banter followed by a shake of the hand and a pint in the pub” of past campaigns has mutated into ‘”death threats, criminal damage, sexism, racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism and general thuggishness”. Was none of that there before? And can the downturn in pubic discourse be linked to the death of pubs, hastened by the smoking ban and tax on booze? The problem is not one of less pubs, of course, but more internet, which has given voice not only to the oppressed and isolated but also to the bigots, prudes, nutters, mentally negligible and mouth breathers.

So Theresa May PM has ordered the Committee on Standards in Public Life to investigate whether existing laws governing threats against MPs are enough. The mood is that new laws are required to keep MPs protected and the less attractive elements of the demos at bay. The Independent says the MPs are looking at “online trolling laws”.

Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, had a word on her own experiences. “We are talking about mindless abuse and in my case the mindless abuse has been characteristically racist and sexist,” she said. “And just to outline I’ve had death threats, I’ve had people tweeting that I should be hung if ‘they could find a tree big enough to take the fat bitch’s weight’. There was an EDL-affiliated Twitter account BurnDianeAbbott, I’ve had rape threats, described as a pathetic, useless, fat, black, piece of shit, ugly, fat, black bitch.”

Nasty. But is being “pathetic” the same as being threatened with rape? Can mindlessness be banned? What about the figures?

Research undertaken by Buzzfeed News and the University of Sheffield looked at 840,000 tweets sent during the month before June 8.

It found that male Conservative MP candidates received the highest percentage of abuse on Twitter while male Ukip candidates were second with just over four per cent of their mentions deemed to be abusive.

Male Labour candidates were next with just under four per cent while female Conservative candidates were also on about four per cent.

Meanwhile, just over two per cent of female Labour candidate mentions were abusive.

What’s considered abusive?

 

Moron. Twat. Coward. Should such words be banned? Of course not. A new law that protects politicians from being hailed by such words – a law that criminalises us from using them when addressing one of our elected reps – is abhorrent.

In 1964, the US Supreme Court ruled that “debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.”

Well said.

Freedom of speech is, as AA Gill noted, “what all other human rights and freedoms balance on.” Don’t let them or anyone own it.

 

Posted: 27th, July 2017 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment


Man knifes mind-controlling pig before hiding at bottom of swimming pool

pig killer

 

Bobby Andreas Heck, 41, is charged with assault with a deadly weapon, resisting arrest and animal cruelty. Before his arrest, Heck was standing in his family’s home, accusing Mr. Oinkers, a pet pig, of “trying to control his mind”, it being known well that “all pigs are brainworkers”.

Heck claimed the pig was trying to force him to kill other pigs.

He then stabbed the pig.

Heck’s father grabbed Heck. Heck turned the knife on his father, knifing him in buttocks. Police were called. Heck fled. The cops found Heck holding his breath at the bottom of a neighbor’s swimming pool.

“It must be some kind of record for how long he held his breath underwater,” says an arresting officer. “I don’t think it was as long as ten minutes, but, heck, it had to have been at least six minutes, maybe seven. We were all amazed.”

Heck was pulled from the pool and roasted with a stun gun. His hairline (see above) remained undisturbed throughout.

The mind-controlling pig is recovering well and moving into the hairdressing business. Be afraid.

Posted: 27th, July 2017 | In: News, Strange But True | Comment


Police find 30 eyeballs in man’s anus

anal eyeballs

 

Having stopped a car being driven by Roy Tilbott, 51, Wyoming police spotted a few eyeballs on the road close to where the suspect was standing. They seemed to have have slid down from somewhere inside Tilbott’s shorts.

When challenged at gunpoint, Tilbott told police the eyeballs were not human, rather cow eyeballs he’d stolen from Johnson Meats (a slaughterhouse) where he worked as a butcher.

“Company won’t let us take animal scraps home and instead toss them in the landfill,” said Tilbott according to the police report. “They’re a very wasteful company. We should be allowed to take scrap meat and other parts home. The company should start a green initiative. They don’t even have recycling at the plant. I enjoy eating bovine eyeballs and smuggling them out in my colon was the only way I knew how to get them out without potentially getting caught and fired. I put them in soups. They’re beneficial for erectile dysfunction, which I currently battle, but I also just like the texture and taste.”

Tilbott was breathalyzed and arrested for driving under the influence. He was also in possession of a number of large carving knives. Police don’t know what else to charge Tilbott with because no theft has been reported.

File under: no kebabs in Wyoming?

Posted: 27th, July 2017 | In: Key Posts, News, Strange But True | Comment


Arsenal clickbait balls: Wenger gone and Ozil is buried in the Gunners’ (wooden) box

In recent days the Sun’s Neil Ashton has told Arsenal fans that Mesut Ozil is staying at the club (proof: the German Ashton said wasn’t worth “two bob” has renewed his box at the Emirates), Chelsea have been “beaten” Arsenal to £50m Virgil Van Van Dijk (proof: none) and Hector Bellerin will remain at Arsenal (proof: nothing to say that he won’t).

The question is: do these players all know Arsenal are dead? It’s not Arsenal fans burying the club – a group Ashton says “are only ever one defeat away from another meltdown” – it’s Ashton, who opined;

‘ARSENAL Football Club, Rest In Peace. This institution, one of the most famous clubs in the world, is dead and buried. Here at the Emirates, the heart finally stopped beating.’

“So it’s goodnight Arsenal. Goodbye Arsene,” said Ashton after Arsenal were thrashed by Bayern Munich.

Proof to the contrary: Arsenal live on. Arsene Wenger is manager.

It”s almost as if football writers just churn stuff out to fill a space.

Posted: 27th, July 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports | Comments (2)


When a child goes missing in Carrara global media rings the bell

Carrara missing child

 

Tales of missing children are as rare as they are are indelible. So when a child went missing in Australia, the media was on the case. ‘Every parent’s worst nightmare’ is an emotive story that travels.

To the Carrara childcare centre on Birmingham Road, Australia, then, where a child is leaving the premises at around 3.50pm local time. But who is she with?

The Sun broadcast “chilling CCTV” images of the “missing Queensland girl, 5, dressed in man’s coat as she is led away after being snatched from her childcare centre”.

The child “may be at ‘significant risk'”.

Just in case anyone in Basildon can help, the Sun tells its readers, “They were travelling in a creme-coloured Citroen hatchback with license plate 633XFU”. In the Daily Mail, the “desperate” search is looking for a “brown” car.

Australia’s 7 News wanted its viewers also to look for the child. This posse might have had even less to go on than Sun and Mail readers. The channel saw fit to smudge the missing child’s features. Have you seen her?

 

Carrara

 

Sky News then adds with a dash of menace: “A man was seen taking the girl.”

One day on and the story is that the child went off with her father. Both have been found safe and well.

A cynic might suppose that not everyone in media-land is delighted with the swift and happy outcome.

Posted: 25th, July 2017 | In: News | Comment


Charlie Gard is allowed to die

The legal fight for Charlie Gard’s future is over. The desperately ill child’s parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, have ended their five-month court battle for their son to be released from care at Great Ormond Street Hospital and undergo experimental treatment in the USA. They accept that the damage to their 11-month-old’s muscle and tissue is “irreversible”.

It was ever the expert opinion heard at the High Court, the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court, the European Court of Human Rights and the Vatican that Charlie Gard should be allowed to die. His parents and thousands of others, many of whom donated to a fund to send Charlie to the US, disagreed. On twitter they pleaded #dontkillcharlie and became part of #charliesarmy.

Big media fanned the story. In the Daily Mail, we read Connie’ words: “When I think about willingly turning off Charlie’s life support, with him dying in our arms, I cry uncontrollably… He has chubby, squeezable little legs, his hair needs to be combed more.”

Emotion or ethics? Hope or reason? Parental love or the pragmatic State? Pick you side.

Today Connie Yates told the the judge: “We have always believed that Charlie deserved a chance at life.” He said time had been “wasted” on legalities. “Had Charlie been given the treatment sooner he would have had the potential to be a normal, healthy little boy,” she continued. “He may well have had some disabilities later on in life but his quality of life could have been improved greatly… Now we will never know what would have happened if he got treatment but it’s not about us. It’s never been about us. It’s about what’s best for Charlie now. At the point in time when it has become too late for Charlie we have made the agonising decision to let him go.”

Mr Justice Francis was at pains to remind everyone that in “this country children have rights independent of their parents”. He added: “The world of social media doubtless has very many benefits but one of its pitfalls, I suggest, is that when cases such as this go viral, the watching world feels entitled to express opinions, whether or not they are evidence-based.”

The watching word expressing opinion is never a pitfall. It’s glorious. But ultimately, it was futile.

Posted: 24th, July 2017 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Americans are banned from visiting North Korea

Best hurry up with that romantic break to North Korea. Donald Trump has alerted American tourists to the risk of “long-term detention” in Mr Kim’s dystopia. You might argue that being locked up in North Korea is akin to getting the full experience, a chance to be total immersed in the place. Like making a Buckingham Palace guard laugh or setting fire to a car in Paris, a diet of tree bark and curfew is to live like a North Korean.

But US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has signed a “Geographical Travel Restriction” . It makes it vorboten for Americans to enter North Korea. Tillerson’s spokeswoman Heather Nauert tells media:

“Once in effect, U.S. passports will be invalid for travel to, through and in North Korea, and individuals will be required to obtain a passport with a special validation in order to travel to or within North Korea.”

This harks back to the fate of Otto Warmbier, the 22-year-old American who having been sentenced to 15 years hard labor in North Korea last year for trying to steal a propaganda sign while on a tourist visit, returned to the USA in a coma. He died soon after.

North Korea called Warmbier’s death “a mystery”. Other mysteries thought to be befuddling the North Koreans are: why Katie Price sleeps on her back? How come Mr Kim is so fat when his fellow North Koreans are so very thin? And what do materialistic men see in Bernie Ecclestone’s daughters.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports: “North Korea is currently holding two Korean-American academics and a missionary, a Canadian pastor and three South Korean nationals who were doing missionary work. Japan says North Korea has also detained at least several dozen of its nationals.”

Posted: 24th, July 2017 | In: News, Politicians | Comment


Arsenal Transfer Balls: Alexis Sanchez goes missing in Paris

Transfer Balls: How much money is Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez’s worth? Much guff has been written about the Chilean player whose Arsenal contract expires in a year’s time. The pick of the stories is the one that placed Sanchez in a Paris hotel room in readiness for his move to the city’s PSG. He’d been “spotted” in Paris by a raft of top media titles – but no-one of them had had the presence of mind to take a photo of the player. Moreover, not a single passer-by, hotel worker or fan has produced a photo of Sanchez in Paris.

With not a muon of evidence of Sanchez ever having been in Paris last week, the Metro nonetheless managed to connive the headline:

Alexis Sanchez agrees four-year contract with Paris Saint-Germain

 

lexis Sanchez agrees four-year contract with Paris Saint-Germain Read more: http://metro.co.uk/2017/07/23/alexis-sanchez-agrees-four-year-contract-with-paris-saint-germain-6799303/#ixzz4njEVVmXV

Alexis Sanchez agrees four-year contract with Paris Saint-Germain

 

The Metro adds that PSG will secure Sanchez on a £36m transfer and pay him £275,000 a week – £5,000-a-week less than Arsenal have offered. Really? No. It’s total balls.

The Telegraph counters:

Wenger’s conviction that Sanchez will stay has been strengthened by influential French daily newspaper L’Equipe reporting that PSG have now switched their attention to Barcelona’s Neymar.

Plus Arsenal have already stated their resolve to keep Sanchez.

“My mind has been made up for a while now. I think I’ve made it clear a few times that this is my stance [he will stay at Arsenal],” said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger yesterday. “Sanchez has got one year to go on his contract and we have no need to make money. He will be part of the team next year and after that I can understand it. We are in a strong financial situation so we want to keep our best players. Has he asked to leave? No.”

So much for the facts. What about the fee?

£90mDaily Star, July 11

£80m Daily Express, July 9

£70mLondon Evening Standard, July 23

£50mDaily Mirror, april 17

£45m The Metro, July 22

£40mDaily Express, June 8

More fake news every day in the trusty mainstream media.

Posted: 24th, July 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports | Comment


Brexit supporting Daily Mail plans to stay in the EU by relocating to Ireland

The Daily Mail’s owners are considering relocating from Kensington, London, to Ireland (EU). The Times reports:

 

daily mail brexit

 

July 1, 2017:

Spencer-Churchill also let slip that the Daily Mail’s publishers are considering upping sticks after the Brexit vote. “I was talking to my friend Viscount Rothermere yesterday,” he said. “He’s thinking about moving his whole operation of Associated Newspapers [now DMG Media] to Ireland.” So much for crushing the saboteurs.

Previously in the Mail:

daily mail brexit

 

Take a bow (out), Daily Mail!

Spotter: @bellamackie

Posted: 23rd, July 2017 | In: Broadsheets, News, Tabloids | Comment


Donald Trump pretends he can’t speak Japanese as Akie Abe forgets her English

 

You know how it is: you’re sat next to some awful bore at a dinner party. Donald Trump feels your pain. The New York Times spots him sat alongside the interminably dull Akie Abe, wife of Japan Prime Minister Abe, at the G20 bun fight. They didn’t talk – which is wise because once Akie gets started on depictions of women on Manga comics, drip-dry toilets, why Japan hasn’t apologised for its treatment of prisoners in World War 2, the absence of a memorial to the thousands of Korean slaves killed at Hiroshima and the subjugation of females in her contry you’ll need a wall to stop her. Japanese women, eh, they’re such rule breakers.

So, I was seated next to the wife of Prime Minister Abe [Shinzo Abe of Japan], who I think is a terrific guy, and she’s a terrific woman, but doesn’t speak English.

HABERMAN: Like, nothing, right? Like zero?

TRUMP: Like, not “hello.”

HABERMAN: That must make for an awkward seating.

TRUMP: Well, it’s hard, because you know, you’re sitting there for——

HABERMAN: Hours.

TRUMP: So the dinner was probably an hour and 45 minutes.

But she does – or at least she can read English.

And did Trump forget his fluent Japanese?

 

Posted: 21st, July 2017 | In: News, Politicians | Comment