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News | Anorak - Part 6

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Tabloids pit Prince Harry against Elton John

This pesky tabloids have upset Prince Harry. Not settling with suing the Mail on Sunday over its reports on his wife and her family, the Mirror and Sun. Gossip sells papers. But it seems that only the right sort of gossip pleases Harry, what he calls “responsible” gossip.

Elton on Diana to flog books: all well and good; tabloids on Royals to flog papers: bad

Harry v the tabloids. The tab love a fight. Does Harry?

“For years and years the royals have been a free shot for the press,” says the founder of Hacked Off, a campaign group which represents phone-hacking victims. “This man has suffered very badly because of that – we know what happened to his mother. I think we’ve moved on from the idea that celebrities are not entitled to privacy. The duke and duchess need to draw a line, they’ve had years of abuse.”

Byline says Harry’s latest claim to do with the papers allegedly hacking his phone.

Should the claim against the Sun and Mirror reach court we can expect to see editors and Harry in the dock. Indeed. Time to get courtroom doings live on the telly. A nation will be gripped.

Posted: 5th, October 2019 | In: Celebrities, News, Tabloids | Comment


Third Person Watch: John Craven’s Newsround

John Craven's Newsround
John Craven of John Craven’s Newsround – putting him first for news, literally

It wasn’t called Newsround when John Craven first presented the BBC teatime news show for children in the pre-Internet age. It was called John Craven’s Newsround. Vanity shakes its pompadour once more as John Craven tells us that telly was much better than John Craven was presenting John Craven’ Newsround on one of the UK’s three TV channels. Ok, you get the idea.

Grumbling about how children’s TV has become “youth-orientated” – more summer camp than extracurricular – he opined: “Unfortunately, we don’t have the Tony Hart figures, the Johnny Morris figures, the John Craven figures on children’s television. They are all much younger.”

John Craven is 79.

Posted: 4th, October 2019 | In: Celebrities, News | Comment


Jacob Rees-Mogg finds his Man Friday in the Times

The King of Brobdingnag and Gulliver by James Gillray (1803), (satirising Napoleon Bonaparte and George III). Metropolitan Museum of Art

To the Tory conference in the company of Times sketch writer Quentin Letts. He’s a-billin’ and a-cooin’ over Walter Softy-styled MP Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Jacob Rees-Mogg is catholic in his quotations. His speech on day one of this conference embraced Dryden, Disraeli, Daniel Defoe and Georgie Porgie.

One’s a rhyme about a feckless toff, the others are in turns: a poet, a politician and a writer. Daniel Defoe (writer) gave us Robinson Crusoe. But according to Letts, who given his adoration of Rees-Mogg could be cast as the MP’s Man Friday, he also wrote Gulliver’s Travels, or Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World. In Four Parts by Lemuel Gulliver.

Mr Rees-Mogg used Dryden to reflect on this violent rage among the left. “In friendship false, implacable in hate, resolved to ruin or to rule the state,” he said. Moving to Defoe, Britain was like Gulliver “tied down at Lilliput by a ragtag, motley collection of feeble, fickle, footling politicians, desperate to cancel the largest single democratic mandate in our history”.

Gulliver was written not by Defoe, but by Irish writer and clergyman Jonathan Swift. As Swift put it: “Proper words in proper places make the true definition of style.”

Image: The King of Brobdingnag and Gulliver by James Gillray (1803), (satirising Napoleon Bonaparte and George III). Metropolitan Museum of Art

Posted: 2nd, October 2019 | In: News, Politicians | Comment


Tough Life: Harry and Meghan pick a fight with the tabloids they can only lose

prince harry meghan
Harry and Meghan : live cam – exclusive to all media

Is Prince Harry a celebrity, an activist or a royal? Right now he’s a litigant, suing the Mail on Sunday for allegedly “bullying” his wife, Meghan.

Harry and his acolytes often portray the Sussexes as victims. “Imagine being attacked for everything you do, when all you’re trying to do is make the world better,” opined US TV host Ellen DeGeneres. “The way people treat her [Meghan] is the most public form of bullying I have seen in a while,” echoed the pop star Pink.

Harry, and presumably Meghan, are upset by the paper’s decision to publish a handwritten letter from Meghan to her father, Thomas Markle, sent shortly after she and Prince Harry got married in 2018. Did you read it? Was it interesting? Good gossip? How did the Mail on Sunday come by it?

Harry’s eye-wateringly expensive lawyers claim the paper and its parent company misused private information, infringed copyright and breached the Data Protection Act 2018. The Mail on Sunday’s report, they allege, was a crime. Ah, so now you want to read it. Nothing sells like contraband and scandal. (The paper denies any wrongdoing.)

Says Harry in a long statement:

As a couple, we believe in media freedom and objective, truthful reporting. We regard it as a cornerstone of democracy and in the current state of the world – on every level – we have never needed responsible media more.

Harry, a democrat in a crown, wants the media to be responsible? What does that mean? Shouldn’t the media be daring, proactive and print what the rich and powerful don’t want you to know? Isn’t the rest just PR?

This is Harry who takes private jets to reach the pulpit from where he preaches about the need to conserve the planet’s resources. “Harry said that he often woke up and felt overwhelmed by too many problems in the world and that sometimes it’s hard to get out of bed in the mornings because of all the issues, but he wanted to use their platform to enable grass-roots change and to try and create a better society,” South African student Peter Oki, 18, told a Daily Telegraph reporter.

Harry is a man besieged. You could place a small pea under Harry’s mattress and he’d not get a wink of sleep.

“Every choice, every footprint, every action makes a difference,” Harry and Meghan guffed on Instagram. They could have added ‘yours’ not ‘ours’. It’s not easy being green when you’re dipped in gold.

Under the headline “Tough Life“, one publication looked at Harry’s campaign for eco-tourism – which given his jet-set lifestyle and palacial homes – the taxpayer generously paid £2.4m to do up their ‘official’ residence – sounded a bit too much telling the oiks to know our place:

His comments followed a summer of controversy after it emerged that he and Meghan had taken four private jets in the space of 11 days to cruise between London, a super-premium villa in Ibiza, and Elton John’s fabulous home in the south of France.

Days before news of the private flights leaked out, Harry, in the course of a lengthy interview with Vogue, had fretted about global warming and pledged to only have two children for environmental reasons.

Harry and Meghan’s high-carbon habits were in stark contrast to William and Kate, who took their family to Scotland on a budget airline.

And now he’s suing the press. He’s upset that the same people he wants to reduce their carbon footprints – replace sun-kissed package trips to the Spanish costas with a drab weekend on a British camp site – get their news in the tabloids. Harry, an ambulatory laser light, wants the tabloids be be “responsible”. He wants readers to only see “responsible” things.

The tabloids love a fight. And many readers love the tabloids. Harry may well have picked the wrong battle. He adds – and look out for his desire to rescue us, the slack-jawed dolts, from the written word sent downmarket:

I have been a silent witness to her private suffering for too long. To stand back and do nothing would be contrary to everything we believe in.
This particular legal action hinges on one incident in a long and disturbing pattern of behaviour by British tabloid media. The contents of a private letter were published unlawfully in an intentionally destructive manner to manipulate you, the reader, and further the divisive agenda of the media group in question. In addition to their unlawful publication of this private document, they purposely misled you by strategically omitting select paragraphs, specific sentences, and even singular words to mask the lies they had perpetuated for over a year.

The Mail on Sunday spokesperson tells everyone: “We categorically deny that the duchess’s letter was edited in any way that changed its meaning.”

The rest of us might wonder if the purpose of the monarchy is to bind the nation, entertain us or protect the plebs from knowing too much. And we would if we were not too busy working…

Posted: 2nd, October 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Royal Family, Tabloids | Comment


Jews missing from union’s tribute to Holocaust Memorial Day

People walk through the concrete steles of the the Holocaust memorial in Berlin, Germany, Monday, Aug. 13, 2012. The memorial to the 6 million Jews killed in Europe under the Nazis was created by U.S. architect Peter Eisenman and consists of an undulating field of 2,711 steles through which visitors can wander. (AP Photo/Gero Breloer)

You can remembers the Holocaust at the University and College Union. They are? “The University and College Union (UCU) represents over 120,000 academics, lecturers, trainers, instructors, researchers, managers, administrators, computer staff, librarians and postgraduates in universities, colleges, prisons, adult education and training organisations across the UK.”

It’s “theme” for Holocaust Memorial Day 2020 is ‘Stand Together’. you might suppose the Holocaust didn’t need any theming. It’s about mass murder. But the UCU was to explore “how genocidal regimes throughout history have deliberately fractured societies by marginalising certain groups, and how these tactics can be challenged by individuals standing together with their neighbours, and speaking out against oppression.” It is a “vision”.

But the vision is a little monocular. See if you can spot which people are notable by their absence from an email sent by the union:

Transscipt:

The theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2020 is ‘Stand Together’. It explores how genocidal regimes throughout history have deliberately fractured societies by marginalising certain groups, and how these tactics can be challenged by individuals standing together with their neighbours, and speaking out against oppression.

On Holocaust Memorial Day 2020, will mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation by the Red Army of Auschwitz-Birkenau [sic], the largest Nazi concentration and death camp. 2020 also marks 25th anniversary of the Bosnian genocide (1998-1995).

Trade unions, including social democrats and communists, were amongst many groups who were persecuted by the Nazi following Hitler’s rise to power in 1933. Other groups persecuted included:

Europe’s Roma and Sinti people
‘asocials’ which included beggars, alcoholics, drug addicts, prostitutes and pacifists
black people
disabled people – those with physical as well as mental illness
freemasons
gay and lesbian people
Jehovah’s Witnesses
non-Jewish Poles and Slavic POWs.

‘Non-Jewish people’ – and not to mention’ Jewish’ people. The union website site does mention that 6 million Jews were murdered. But its very odd – more than a little remiss – to fail to mention them in the list of victims, which appears on the website thus:

Never forget. Please try not to.

Image: People walk through the concrete steles of the the Holocaust memorial in Berlin, Germany, Monday, Aug. 13, 2012. The memorial to the 6 million Jews killed in Europe under the Nazis was created by U.S. architect Peter Eisenman and consists of an undulating field of 2,711 steles through which visitors can wander. (AP Photo/Gero Breloer)

Posted: 1st, October 2019 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Set the language police on our MPs

boris johnson

Have you called the language police on Boris Johnson? You might need to wait a while because a few others could be getting the knock first. Johnson has been upbraided for saying the best way to honour Jo Cox, the MP murdered by a man who yelled “Britain first” as he killed her with a gun and a knife, is “to get Brexit done“. He will not stop using the words “surrender bill” to explain the act MPs pushed through to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

Labour MP Paula Sheriff demanded Johnson “moderate” his language and stop using the words “Surrender Act”. Referring to Jo Cox, she said: “Many of us in this place are subject to death threats and abuse every single day. Let me tell the prime minister that they often quote his words – surrender act, betrayal, traitor – and I, for one, am sick of it.” Johnson replied: “Mr Speaker, I have never heard such humbug in all my life.”

He’s pressing buttons. And many opponents are answering the call.

“The prime minister’s language and demeanour yesterday was nothing short of disgraceful,” opined Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. “Three years ago our colleague Jo Cox was murdered by a far-right activist shouting: ‘Britain First. This is for Britain. The language that politicians use matters – it has real consequences. To dismiss concerns from honourable members about the death threats they receive, and to dismiss concerns that the language used by the prime minister is being repeated in those death threats, is reprehensible.”

You readers may recall Corbyn using language to case British Jews as something foreign and lacking in British decency, and calling a group who want all Jews dead his “friends“.

Corbyn’s fellow Labour MPs are also hot on language. “The use of language yesterday and over the past few weeks, such as the surrender bill,” says Jess Philips, “such as invoking the war, such as betrayal and treachery, it has clearly been tested, and workshopped and worked up and entirely designed to inflame hatred and division. I get it, it works, it is working. It is not sincere, it is totally planned, it is completely and utterly a strategy designed by somebody to harm and cause hatred in our country.”

Previously:

And here’s the Shadow Chancellor:

And another of Corbyn’s colleagues:

And to ensure all things are even, here’s Ed Davey, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats:

Can we agree that at least some of the outrage at Johnson’s language is based on political expediency.

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


Portland hails the end of the urinal

Portland urinals

Good news for men who like to sit down to take a wazz. The City of Portland has done away with urinals at its Portland Building. “The City of Portland banned urinals in the remodeled Portland Building,” says local station KGW. In an email to employees last February, Portland Chief Administrative Officer Tom Rinehart wrote about the gender-neutral bathrooms:

“We will continue to have gender-specific (male and female) multi-stall restrooms that are readily available to any employee that prefers to use one. But, there will be no urinals in any restroom in the building. This will give us the flexibility we need for any future changes in signage. I am convinced that this is the right way to ensure success as your employer, remove arbitrary barriers in our community, and provide leadership that is reflective of our shared values.”

Will the men up their toilet game – flush the chain; you only need a book if you run out of toilet paper; no aiming at the wall and floor- or will women be reduced – not bothering to flush and wash their hands in case whatshisface wants to chat at the sink?

Posted: 30th, September 2019 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Captain Morgan bars Muslims from its US website?

Captain Morgan Muslim

Sorry, Muslims, no rum, sodomy and the lash for you. At least that’s the way it appeared. Last week Captain Morgan rum ran a verification check on its US website. It asked customers to tick the box to declare: “Yes, I am a non-Muslim and aged 21 years and above.”

Sir Henry Morgan (1635 – 25 August 1688), after whom the sickly sweet booze is named, was a Welsh-born privateer who encapsulated the raw energy of the birth of Jamaica. On his first official trip to the Caribbean island, he shipped with “hectors and knights of the plague, lewd person and thieves”. It’s not known if any of the lads were Muslim. But Morgan was just twenty on that trip to storm the Spanish in Jamaica – so no rum for him.

Alerted to the oddity, a spokesperson for Captain Morgan went on the record: “Over the weekend, a misconfiguration on our age-gating files for our US Captain Morgan website meant that people were shown our United Arab Emirates age gate window in error. In the United Arab Emirates it is commonplace for alcohol brands to request verification of this kind, in addition to age-gating, in line with UAE alcohol licensing requirements. We corrected this as quickly as possible.”

Captain Morgan and his shipmates would have lasted two minutes in such a dry state. But the UAE is not alone in censoring its booze. Visitors to the UK site are met with an age verification form:

“Live like a Captain,” says Captain Morgan tagline. “Unleash your inner captain.” But do so responsibly. It’s what genteel Morgan and his band of marauding cut-throats would have wanted.

Posted: 29th, September 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, The Consumer | Comment


Vaping marijuana – don’t panic

vaping

A conspiracy can start any number of ways. But let’s consider the Daily Mail’s news on vapes and cannabis and death. The headline is a burp of worry words: “Black market cannabis vapes are found to contain hydrogen CYANIDE amid health panic after 13 die from mysterious illness linked to e-cigs.” This one nearly has the lot: drugs, crime, a health panic and mystery. But what are the facts?

The story is based on a report by America’s NBC. Researchers bought 18 vaping cartridges containing THC, the main psychoactive compound found in marijuana. The three purchased at legal dispensaries were fine. But 13 of 15 bought from unlicensed dealers contained Vitamin E, which causes lung damage when inhaled and myclobutanil, “a pesticide that, when burned, can turn into hydrogen cyanide, a chemical that causes oxygen levels to fall and leads to death within minutes.”

The Mail links that shocker – criminals cheat! – with news that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recorded the deaths of 13 Americans with “vaping-related illnesses”.

“You certainly don’t want to be smoking cyanide,” says Antonio Frazier, the vice president of operations at CannaSafe, the company that tested the products. I don’t think anyone would buy a cart that was labeled hydrogen cyanide on it.”

Don’t be so presumptuous. People will buy anything it it’ll give them a buzz. But before we go, what is Cannasafe? “CannaSafe Analytics is committed to defining consumer safety and quality assurance standards for the cannabis industry.” It’s private concern that will test what’s in weed products – looking for such things as: excreta, hairs, aflatoxinB2, lead, pesticides and bacteria. It will also test how potent your harvest is. There is no kite mark for cannabis, but there could be. So here’s news that the people from the Cannasafe lab found that uncertified products might be harmful.

What might be causing vapers to die is unclear. Patterns are emerging – the same brands of black-market THC cropping up in reports. The black-market THC cartridges could be to blame. Which makes this story not one about am ambitious company or the perils of vaping but the sad state of the war on drugs. But instead of a debate on that debacle, we’re getting more not fewer bans. President Trump announced a Food and Drug Administration ban on flavoured e-cigarettes. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has banned the sale of vaping products at retail outlets. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo imposed a ban on flavoured e-cigarettes on an “emergency” basis. “Vaping is dangerous, period,” he guffed.

Well, of course it is. But it’s still less dangers than smoking cigarettes. And as for people smoking illegal, unchecked, imported Chinese cartridges of THC to get stoned – well if marijuana was legal nationwide, would that still be a sensible consumer choice?

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


The best print shop on the web

George Mayerle's Eye Test charts

Delighted to say that Flashbak has new print store. It promises to the be the best print shop on the web. The print shop is edited by me, Rob Baker and Stephen Ellcock.

We’re going to be adding lots more images to it in the coming week – including great prints, calendars and cards.

Shipping worldwide from the fine art printers in London carries no extra fee – so whether you’re in New York, Nairobi or Newcastle, postage is the same price.

Image: George Mayerle’s Eye Test charts. Buy it here.

Flashbakshop.com – The best print shop on the web

Posted: 25th, September 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, The Consumer | Comment


Class War Death Race: Labour summon Grim Reaper for Corbyn and the Queen

Queen Donald Trump: The Don becomes Her Majesty and Vice Versa in these unsettling pictures

The Sunday Times leads with news that Jeremy Corbyn’s senior aide Andrew Fisher has resigned. Who? Fisher, we learn, was head of policy and author of the party’s last election manifesto. He’s now reportedly of the mind that Labour “will not win” a general election.

A memo apparently has him telling colleagues: “I no longer have faith we will succeed.” He says Corbyn’s team is compsite blend of a “lack of professionalism, competence and human decency”. He can no longer stomach their “blizzard of lies and excuses”. The paper also notes:

He also claimed “class war” has gripped the upper echelons of the party — a dig at Seumas Milne, Corbyn’s senior aide, who was educated at Winchester and Oxford.

The Guardianon the other hand, looks over Fisher’s CV, writing:

The 40-year-old has been a controversial figure within the Labour movement. He was suspended from Labour in 2015 for apparently supporting a Class War candidate against Emily Benn, Tony Benn’s granddaughter, in the general election, and Benn called for him to be expelled. He also appeared in a video saying he had “very violent, bloody nightmares” about hitting former Labour cabinet minister James Purnell.

Confused?

The Mirror is taking names?

Sources say only seven people had obtained the bombshell memo before it was leaked to the Sunday Times.

And spinning:

Multiple Labour sources confirmed Mr Fisher’s resignation, saying he still remained loyal to Mr Corbyn personally.

Nothing screams loyalty more than a resignation. But he did it to be loyal – honest:

A more anodyne statement was later circulated in Mr Fisher’s name saying he would resign by the end of the year to spend more time with his young family.

The Sun tells its readers:

“It comes amid rumours that the Labour boss himself, who is now 70, could quit because he’s under “incredible pressure”.

And the Times notes:

Sources say Milne and Karie Murphy, Corbyn’s gatekeeper, are also concerned Corbyn might be forced to stand down after the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) investigation into whether Labour is institutionally anti-semitic.

The EHRC has emails that, it is claimed, will cause resignations among Corbyn’s closest aides.

“You’d be rationally frightened of a 70-year-old man dropping down dead,” said an ally. “But the more rational fear is that only those people know what the EHRC has. When that report comes out they are all finished. It’s about planning for what happens if they get decapitated.”

Blame the Jews, then. And ditch Queen, say Labour members in YouGov poll

Form an orderly queue at the guillotines – the Sunday Times also reports: “Ditch Queen, say Labour members in YouGov poll.”

Posted: 22nd, September 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians, Royal Family | Comment


‘My sex with Prince Andrew’: Virginia Giuffre says Epstein trafficked her to the Duke

Virginia Giuffre

The story of Jeffrey Epstein’s relationship with Prince Andrew did not die when the convicted paedophile took his own life. The Sun and Mirror lead with the words of Virginia Giuffre (formerly Victoria Roberts) and her claims of sex with the Duke of York when she was 17 years old. She’s gone on the record with NBC News. She claims Epstein “trafficked” her to the duke. Prince Andrew denies “any form of sexual contact or relationship” with Ms Giuffre.

Why Epstein would have done such a thing is left limply hanging like a tired Prince Albert. Did Epstein like to rub away his minted mates’ money, titles and gongs to see the flawed, bestial human beneath – to prove in some way that they were just like him and that he belonged in their company?

Virginia Giuffre

Giuffre claims Ghislaine Maxwell, a friend of Epstein, told her: “I want you to do for him what you do for Epstein.” Ms Maxwell has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. Guiffre alleges that following the directive she had sex with Andrew in the toilet at Epstein’s pad and then in the bedroom. Afterwards she says he straightened his top hat and tails and said ‘thank you’.

Giuffre says she claims she could not believe a royal could behave in such a manner. Does she expect flowers, too, from men of hereditary distinction? Cue eye rolling…

Meanwhile:

 Woman Accuses Epstein of Repeated Rapes and Assaults in New Lawsuit. “A woman at the center of sex-trafficking charges against Jeffrey Epstein filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the former financier’s estate, describing in graphic detail for the first time her alleged recruitment at age 14 to perform sex acts for him. Since Mr. Epstein’s suicide in August, at least six women have filed lawsuits seeking compensation for what they allege are damages sustained from years of sexual abuse. The suit filed in federal court in Manhattan by “Jane Doe” appears to be the first brought by one of the three unidentified minor victims featured in the criminal indictment charging Mr. Epstein in July.”

Such are the facts…

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


Ben Stokes : the tabloids, murder and the right to be forgotten

the sun ben stokes

Fallout from the Sun’s story on Ben Stokes “secret family tragedy” was loud and vociferous. The cricketer and a personal hero of mine, was the subject of a story about a horrific crime that cost the lives of two of his close relatives three years before his birth.

One Twitter #DontBuyTheSun was trending. Twitter was on the side of Stokes, who used the platform to issue a reaction:

Hacked Off – “Campaigning for a free and accountable press which works for all of us” – wanted a slice of the action:

Clearly, the story was not to everyone’s taste. But to argue the story of a brutal crime is not of interest to the public is bunkum. We don’t need a gatekeeper to tell us what we are fit to know.

The Mirror and the Daily Star, both owned by Reach, picked up on the Sun’s old news. But following the blowback they deleted their online stories. The Mirror then published a story on Stokes’ “furious” comments about the Sun.

The Sun didn’t lie. It reported facts. It chose a moment when Stokes was newsworthy and a household name to publish a story 3 years told. Scoop? Not a bit of it. Sensation? Lots.

What of the Right To Forget, which ‘enables claimants to request the removal of links to irrelevant or outdated online information about them’? Was the crime so old it need not be repeated? I once received one from a convicted paedophile who wanted their name expunged from website I was editing. The argument was that they’d served their time and their name being on the web was causing them great upset. Another time, a victim of a crime asked for their name to be ‘forgotten’. Which name, if either, would you have edited from existence?

Google says:

When you make your request, we will balance the privacy rights of the individual concerned with the interest of the general public in having access to the information, as well as the right of others to distribute the information. For example, we may decline to remove certain information about financial scams, professional malpractice, criminal convictions, or public conduct of government officials.

Does the crime leading to the Ben Stokes story deserve to be forgotten? Is it unethical to repeat the case? The Sun argues:

“The Sun has the utmost sympathy for Ben Stokes and his mother but it is only right to point out the story was told with the co-operation of a family member who supplied details, provided photographs and posed for pictures. The tragedy is also a matter of public record and was the subject of extensive front page publicity in New Zealand at the time. The Sun has huge admiration for Ben Stokes and we were delighted to celebrate his sporting heroics this summer. He was contacted prior to publication and at no stage did he or his representatives ask us not to publish the story.”

Such are the facts…

Posted: 20th, September 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Tabloids | Comment


Surely only cheats pay for plagiarism detection tools

Do you like to cheat? Students are paying essay writers to write their essays – or just rehash an old one. But how do institutions know the essay is not a rip-off?

Essay-writing firms claim that they use a service offered by Turnitin, a plagiarism detection tool used by universities, to provide their customers with reassurance that the work they purchase will not be flagged as suspicious.

Turnitin bills itself as a way to safeguard academic brands:

Identify unoriginal content with the world’s most effective plagiarism detection solution. Manage potential academic misconduct by highlighting similarities to the world’s largest collection of internet, academic, and student paper content…

Data driven insights help determine whether students are doing their own work, enabling you to uphold your institution’s commitment to educational excellence.

Sign up to the anti-plagiarism tool to see if your plagiarised essay – or the one you’ve sold or about to sell – has been detected.

The research adds:

When a student or staff member at a subscribing institution runs a Turnitin check using that institution’s subscription, the article that they are assessing is often added to the Turnitin “student database” so that future submissions can be checked for plagiarism against its content. However, when an individual uses the WriteCheck service, essays are not added to the main database.

WriteCheck is “Plagiarism checker software by Turnitin to check for plagiarism and grammar mistakes”.

Access to the WriteCheck service costs $7.95 (£6.40) for one paper, $19.95 for three papers or $29.95 for five papers. HE registered with the service and had one article checked. At no point in the process were we required to verify our identity or say why we were using the service.

So who is paying to have their work checked – institutions, the essay-writing companies or a student at an institution whose making a few quid from banging out essays?

.

Posted: 19th, September 2019 | In: News | Comment


Someone is leaving cannabis biscuits and cakes in England’s parks

marijuana art swing park

Who is baking hash cakes and dropping them on the grass? Sarah Kenny says she was walking her Jack Russell cross Max in St Helens, Merseyside, when he scampered into a bush. Later back at home he fell ill. Sarah says she smelt his vomit. “I could tell that it was chocolate which immediately raised alarm but then I smelt this really distinctive smell and I knew it was cannabis. I hadn’t seen what he’d eaten in the bush before but when he was sick we knew straight away it must have been a lot of cake.”

Meanwhile, over in Leyland, Lancashire, Sarah Eccles is taking Billy, a cavachon (King Charles cavalier and bichon frise cross) round the park. The Metro says Billy “stumbled upon a pile of discarded cookies”. The Indy says the “pile” was “two chocolate cookies lying in the grass at her local park”. Both sources see Billy on a video posted on Facebook looking very unwell. Oddly, the Daily Record delivers its story under the headline: “Mum reveals shock video of ‘stoned’ dog who almost died after eating cannabis cookie.” Not the dog’s mum, obviously, which makes her billing irrelevant. Or are mums more worried about cannabis in the bushes than other women?

The good news is Billy is ok. The bigger news is that the Indy reports “there was no indication it [the cookie] had been tested to confirm its ingredients”. But Sarah says she knew it was cannabis by the smell and “picked up one en route to the vets and returned later that night to dispose of the other”.

The identity of felons dropping space cakes in parks around the north-west of England has yet to be established.

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


Global Climate Strike – digital goes dark

global Cimate strike

This week it’s the Global Climate Strike. The non-action action occurs this Friday, September 20. Greta Thunberg and disciples (too strong?) want us to stop ding anything else other than demand big business and government act to cut pollution.

Once again our voices are being heard on the streets, but it is not just up to us.

We feel a lot of adults haven’t quite understood that we young people won’t hold off the climate crisis ourselves. Sorry, if this is inconvenient for you. But this is not a single-generation job. It’s humanity’s job. We young people can contribute to a larger fight and that can make a huge difference.

So this is our invitation to you. Starting on Friday 20 September we will kick start a week of climate action with worldwide strikes for the climate. We’re asking you to step up alongside us. There are many different plans underway in different parts of the world for adults to join together and step up and out of your comfort zone for our climate. Let’s all join together; with our neighbours, co-workers, friends, family and go out on to the streets to make our voices heard and make this a turning point in our history.

More here. Less everywhere else…

Meanwhile: two earlier school strikes were a lot of fun:

Great Photos of the Liverpool School Strike of 1985

Pictures of London’s School Strike of 1972

Posted: 17th, September 2019 | In: News | Comment


Punching low down : The Guardian attacks David Cameron over the loss of his child

politicians with man bun putin obama bush cameron

The Guardian’s view on David Cameron’s memoirs was widely read for all the wrong reasons. For those of you who missed the toxicity, this is the cut that spread like a virus over the web. The background to the editorial sniping at Cameron’s “privileged pain” is that the former Prime Minister’s son, Ivan, died in 2009 at the age of six.

David Cameron privileged pain Guardian

Revolting stuff.

Anoosh Chakelian assesses the nastiness for the New Statesman, the Left wing political magazine that once gave full throat to “a Kosher Conspiracy” and then like many Labour Party supporters wonders how anti-Semitism went mainstream. The NS apologised for that bigotry. And the Guardian has apologised for its:

“The original version of an editorial posted online yesterday fell far short of our standards,” a spokesperson for the paper has commented. “It was changed significantly within two hours, and we apologise completely.”

Says Chakelian:

Punching up has turned into punching anyone you disagree with, and it’s everywhere – normalising online poison that is bound to spill over into mainstream formats like the Guardian’s editorial pages.

In an extract of his memoirs published in the Sunday Times, Cameron notes: “Nothing, absolutely nothing, can prepare you for the reality of losing your darling boy in this way. It was as if the world stopped turning.”

His wife Samantha told the Times in 2017 her son’s death “overshadowed everything” and rendered the outside world “meaningless”. “Like anyone else in my situation, I just kept going. You have to deal with it, because you have no choice.”


Posted: 17th, September 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment


Donald Trump turns Congress blue giving three f***s at City Airport

Donal tRump buttplug

Members of US Congress used swear words such as “asshole” , “fuck”, “shit” and “bitch” 1,900 times on Twitter in 2019. That’s a tenfold rise on 2016 – before Trump’s election, the number was 193.

Can we blame Donald “grab ’em by the pussy” Trump for the coarsening of debate? What about airport bookshops?

Nick Gibb, the schools minister, is upset that “three of the top 10 ‘Airport Exclusive’ books at London City WH Smith have ‘fuck’ in the title.”

Lamentable stuff – today’s politicians are just so unimaginative:

Posted: 13th, September 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment


A doctor writes on the joy of treating the old

Dr Sayed A Tabatabai tweets as @TheRealDoctorT. At work as a nephrologist in San Antonio, Texas, a student asked him: “Don’t you wanna see young patients? Isn’t it rough seeing old people, on so many meds with so many medical problems, all the time?” His reply is worth repeating:

“For old people,” wrote Ursula K. Le Guin, “beauty doesn’t come free with the hormones, the way it does for the young… It has to do with who the person is.”

Image: Barbara Hepworth’s Hospital Drawings (1947 – 1949)

Posted: 12th, September 2019 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


From Leicester to Galashiels and North Pickenham, cannabis is the drug of choice

cannabis oil

Would you hide a 1kg brick of cannabis in a place where it could go up in smoke in one huge hit? Two people in Leicester have bene arrested for allegedly hiding the stash in a barbecue.

In Scotland, a man has been found living with 700 cannabis plants in a former bookmakers in Galashiels town centre. He too has been arrested.

In North Pickenham, Norfolk, police arrested a man who claims the 693 cannabis plants growing in his garden shed were to ease his chronic pain.

In Sixmilecross, Northern Ireland, police found a “cannabis factory”. A local policeman tells media: “We will continue to do everything possible to prevent the supply of drugs and identify those involved while at the same time, make people aware of the real danger posed to their health and their lives by illegal drugs.”

But not all cannabis is illegal. It’s only illegal if the State doesn’t agree that you should have it. Patients can be prescribed medicinal cannabis by specialist doctors.

With moves to legalise the drug afoot across the UK, how long before police stop arresting people for growing the drug and there’s an amnesty for anyone who has been?

Posted: 12th, September 2019 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Public Library receipt shows how much cheaper it is to borrow than buy books

Public Library receipt shows  how much cheaper it is to  borrow than buy books

Save the libraries. They’re one of the few place you can go and sit without needing to buying anything. And you can read the books, too. But not everyone appreciates the library until the burghers say it no longer pays and it’s gone. Staff at the Wichita Public Library understand. They’ve come up with a great way to out a price on library services and show us their monetary value.

They write:


“Every time materials are borrowed from the Wichita Public Library (WPL) customers receive a receipt showing how much they have saved in that visit, the year to date, and their lifetime savings. The information is displayed on the receipt similar to the ways that retail stores show savings to club members or coupon users…


“So far this year, the highest dollar amount saved by a customer’s account is $64,734.12. And the highest dollar amount saved by a customer’s account since this feature was implemented is $196,076.21.”

Keep your local library up by using it.

Spotter: Flashbak, Open Culture 

Posted: 11th, September 2019 | In: Key Posts, Money, News | Comment


Nine things American women were banned from doing in 1971

feminism

We’ve come a long way, baby. On Twitter @WPCelebratio compiled a list of nine everyday things American women were banned from doing in 1971 (via):

  • A woman couldn’t get a credit card in her own name. They often needed a man to co-sign for a card. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act put a stop to this discrimination in 1974.
  • Until the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, women could be fired for getting pregnant (or not hired if they were pregnant). Despite the act, pregnancy discrimination continues today.
  • Fight on the front lines – admitted into military academies in 1976, it wasn’t until 2013 that the military ban on women in combat was lifted.
  • Women couldn’t attend certain Ivy League schools. Harvard did not fully admit women into its undergraduate program until 1977, Dartmouth took until 1972, and Columbia waited until 1983.
  • In some states, women couldn’t say “no” to sex with their husbands. In 1993, the last two states (Oklahoma and North Carolina) withdrew their marital rape exemptions. But even today, several states treat marital rape as a lesser offense with smaller penalties compared to non-marital rape.
  • Until a 1972 Supreme Court case, unmarried women in some states were prohibited from purchasing birth control pills.

Readers’ responses are illuminating:

The Telegraph looked at what women in the UK could not do in 1918:

Applying for a credit card or loan in their own name

Working in the legal profession and civil service

Inheriting and bequeathing property on the same terms as men

Claiming equal pay for doing the same work as men

Prosecuting a spouse for rape

no images were found

Posted: 11th, September 2019 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Exhibiting nature: artist plants 300 trees on a football pitch

For Forest — The Unending Attraction of Nature

Klauss Littman planted 300 trees on the pitch at Klagenfurt, Austria as part of his For Forest — The Unending Attraction of Nature.

Using 300 trees, some of which weigh up to six tonnes, landscape architect Enzo Enea will cover the entire playing field with a mixed forest characteristic of Central Europe.

From the grandstands, visitors can admire the spectacle of the trees day and night (from 10am until 10pm). Admission is free. A sight that is as unfamiliar as it is fascinating and bound to stir up a range of emotions and reactions! Depending on the time of day (or night), the trees will constitute a constantly changing landscape that is shaped by the weather as well as the autumnal turning of the leaves. The installation is a clever play on our emotions when faced with what should be a familiar sight, placed in an entirely different context. With this monumental work of art, Littmann challenges our perception of nature and sharpens our awareness of the future relation between nature and humankind.

The project also sees itself as a warning: One day, we might have to admire the remnants of nature in specially assigned spaces, as is already the case with zoo animals.

Looks out for Wolves.

Littmann shaped his project on a 1970 drawing by Austrian architect and painter Max Peintner:

For Forest 02

What if nature becomes an exhibit?

Spotter: Flashbak, Kottke

Posted: 11th, September 2019 | In: News, The Consumer | Comment


Islington bans sale of fur – Hackney furriers rejoice

Islington fur advert

Islington Council has banned the sale of fur products – jackets, coats, merkins. Leather remains on sale – as do animals as food. The council says the fur industry is “cruel and awful”. Hard to argue with that.

Councillor Asima Shaikh tells us: “We also understand that it can be hard for consumers to be sure about the origins and production methods used in clothes and goods containing real fur.”

Can you have ethical real fur?

When Wearing Fur Was De Rigueur in London (1900 – 1950)

Posted: 10th, September 2019 | In: News, The Consumer | Comment


Dentist promises sedation – GPs doll out uppers

Dentist promises sedation

Where America leads, the UK follows. Look out, then,. for a dentist advertising sedation. Rob Beschizza saw a sign of the times:

Driving near Pittsburgh, PA, my wife Heather noticed this excellent billboard featuring a woman saying “Scared of the dentist? No, I called and got SEDATED!”.

The chemical cosh is wielded with abandon. A Public Health England review at the end of March 2018 found that half of people prescribed strong painkillers, antidepressants and sleeping tablets had been on them for at least 12 months.

Drugs UK

The numbers of people being fed these drugs are huge:

Nearly 12 million people took drugs such as antidepressants, sleeping pills and painkillers between 2017 and last year,

Worrying stuff.

Posted: 10th, September 2019 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment