Anorak

News | Anorak - Part 7

News Category

Reading attack: Khairi Saadallah charged with murder

Khairi Saadallah has been charged with the murders of James Furlong, 36, David Wails, 49, and Joe Ritchie-Bennett, 39, on 20 June. It’s alleged that Mr Saadallah stabbed the three men to death in Forbury Gardens, Reading. Police have called the attack a terrorist incident. The Crown Prosecution Service says: “The Crown Prosecution Service has today authorised Counter Terrorism Policing South East to charge Khairi Saadallah, 25, with three counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder.” So how is it being reported? A man has been charged so reporting guidelines are firm. The CPS adds:

“Criminal proceedings against Mr Saadallah are now active and he has a right to a fair trial. It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.”

The BBC says the attack has been linked to terrorism but fails to mention to which ideology the alleged terrorist might adhere. We know that Saadallah arrived in the UK from Libya in 2012 and was granted asylum in 2018. We also know MI5 suspected he could be thinking of travelling overseas to commit acts of terrorism. The attack was declared as a terrorism incident by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, senior national co-ordinator for Counter Terrorism Policing. But we are not told why he did so.

The BBC tells of a candlelit vigil to the killed. It quotes the Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire, James Puxley. “Who knows what they would have achieved in life had they lived to an old age,” he says. “Doubtless they would have achieved many good things that the community is now deprived of benefiting from.” We also hear from Martin Cooper, chief executive of Reading Pride, a local councillor and the family of one of the victims (all three victims were gay). Not one voice expresses any sense of anger to what the Sun’s headline calls a “bloodbath”.

The Guardian calls it a “knife attack”, which it was, of course. There is no mention of terror in its report. We do hear that two MPs lit candles. And Thames Valley police chief constable John Campbell said the victims were “cared for and comforted by my officers and others who came to help them in in their final moments”. He says Reading should take “pride” in how it had responded. It was a “coming together of a diverse community, joined by the bond of humanity and a shared sense of injustice”. To say nothing of terrorism. Which the report does not. Like the victims, Saadallah also lived in Reading.

As we continue to search for motive, or even speculation as to why he might have done it, the Times tell readers that Saadallah volunteered at a church before “converting” to Christianity. We’re told: “His sister said he was motivated by a wish to ‘marry a British girl’.” We are not told what religion or belief he converted from.

Mr Saadallah, who was referred to the government’s Prevent counter-extremism programme, is understood to have suffered from mental health problems. However, Stewart Johnston, operations manager for the church, said he had not picked up any indications of this.

Mr Saadallah volunteered from June to September 2018 while living in a hostel. “It was unclear that he had any sort of faith,” Mr Johnston said. “He would be stacking chairs, putting chairs out, helping in the kitchen, that sort of thing.”

And:

Friends have said that he drank and smoked cannabis, and showed no Islamist leanings. One said she did not believe he had chosen Christianity for a woman. “I never heard that,” she said. “He converted because he wanted to change his life and get away from the life he was forced to live in his home country.”

Islamism? Is that why the police have linked the alleged murders to terrorism? Why does the Times mention Islamism in its report if the police and CPS have not?

The Mail leads its coverage by telling readers: “Police investigating Reading terror attack charge Libyan refugee, 25, with three counts of murder and three of attempted murder.”

Saadallah

Is the suspect’s refugee status relevant? The Mail presents it as key part of the story. There it is in the headline. The paper mentions that the suspect is a refugee one more time in the story. Is that fair? Is it inviting its readers to guess and form an assumption?

Posted: 28th, June 2020 | In: News | Comment


Madeleine McCann: Christian Bruckner will never be ‘free’, Wolters is missing evidence and Maddie link to Rochdale pub

Madeleine McCann: an at-a-glance look at news of the missing child.

Christian Brueckner could be out of prison next week, says the NY Post. The convicted peadophile and rapist suspected to murdering the missing child has applied for parole having served two-thirds of a sentence for drugs.

In the Sun we hear from an unnamed source “close to the German investigation”. “If the superior court decides to free him then it will severely impact the case,” says someone. “He could vanish and then we will not be able to put him on trial. We are fighting for him to be kept in court.”

How likely is it that if he is released from prison the man suspected of killing the child who has obsessed media for over a decade will vanish and not be closely watched by a million reporters, police, members of the public and bounty hunters keen to get their hands on the scoop and the reward money? And there’s the matter of his conviction for rape.

Christian Brueckner was pinched in 2018 on a warrant issued for a drugs offence in 2011.

But he was subsequently put on trial and convicted of raping a 72-year-old American woman at her villa in Praia da Luz in 2005. He was sentenced to seven years in December. But because he is appealing against the rape conviction, under German law the sentence is yet to be imposed.

So he will walk “free”? No. He won’t.

Maddie McCann

The Mirror looks at the child’s parents, as ever it has done. “Madeleine McCann parents face more pain as police say suspect could escape justice.” This headline pivots on your concept of justice. The teaser nails its:

“German authorities are convinced paedophile Christian Brueckner killer Maddie but prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters sais the investigation ‘could be stopped if we fail to find the missing evidence'”

In the dash to scream “no news” first, the Mirror makes two typos in one line. But worse than that is the interpretation of what justice is and if you can achieve it without evidence. German prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters tells German newspaper Braunschweig Zeitung: “You have to be realistic that the investigation may not lead to a charge for the murder of Madeleine. It could be stopped if we fail to find the missing evidence. But we are still convinced of the guilt of the accused and hope for further promising investigative approaches.”

May. Could. If. Missing evidence. The German prosecutors case looks watertight, in the same way a sieve makes a good lifeboat.

The Metro chips in with: “Madeleine McCann suspect might not be charged despite ‘concrete evidence’ of murder.” When “concrete evidence” is couched in inverted commas it’s not all that concrete. Says Wolters: “I am currently unable to predict the outcome of our investigation but we are still convinced of the guilt of the accused and hope for further promising investigative approaches.” But is there to convince a judge and jury?

Is the suspect about to walk free, then? Wolters explains: “Of course, it is always good to know where a suspect is to be able to access them if necessary. And, of course, detention always offers a certain guarantee that the detainee will not commit any further crimes.”

And on it goes. But wait. The Manchester Evening News has news!

Maddie McCann parents

“Lawyer who represented Madeleine McCann parents wants to turn village pub into nursery.” In Rochdale.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 27th, June 2020 | In: Key Posts, Madeleine McCann, News, Tabloids | Comment


Bournemouth invaded: 500,000 litterbugs trash Covid 19 risks; disabled people forced into roads; police ignore pavement parking

To Bournemouth, Dorset. There was “Chaos on the beaches” says the i. A major incident was declared at Bournemouth beach due to overcrowding and gridlocked roads. It was very busy. Mobbed.

The Mirror and Express lead with Bournemouth beach. Their sister title, the Star, looks at the rubbish and blames “drunken louts” for the dirt and mess left on the sand. But that’s not right. There were plenty of empty beer cans and wine bottles left on the sand, and lots of broken glass on the promenade. There were turds in burger boxes and plastic buckets. There were syringes in the park above Westcliff. There were nappies left in hedges, bags full of rubbish dumped by the kerb, disposable barbecues – with wire trays – all over the shop, broken chair and inflatables left on the beach, and thousands of empty plastic bottles for water and non-alcoholic juices pretty much everywhere. Most people did aim at the bins. But they are full. And what cannot fit inside them is left by it.

The mess was not fuelled by alcohol alone. Seagulls play their part. A lack of facilities, too. You go to the beach but no cafes are open. Toilets are few and far between. Hotels and guest houses are shut.

And the police? Well, one police car drove past scores of vehicles parked on the pavement and drove away. Police did not get out their car. People in wheelchairs and pushing prams were forced to walk in the roads. The police were notable by the ineffectiveness and absence. Some drivers did get parking fines pinned to their car windscreens. As one told me: “It’s only £30-odd quid between four of us.”

Bournemouth Beach coronavirus

Posted: 26th, June 2020 | In: News | Comment


Sacked Rebecca-Long Bailey – another victim of the Jewish conspiracy to defeat anti-semitism and racism

Rebecca-Long Bailey, the Labour MP who scored Jeremy Corbyn 10/10 for his leadership, has been sacked from the shadow cabinet. And you can thank the Jews for getting shot of her. I can reveal that there really is a Jewish conspiracy. Come closer. The plan is that Jews expose anti-Semites and pray to our brutal God that they get a sound re-education. Keir Starmer’s Labour Party says Long-Bailey gave a big thumbs up to an article that “contained an antisemitic conspiracy theory”. An article, you’d wager, that appeared in some far-Left outlet published on the outer reaches of the web. No. This was a story in the mainstream Independent.

The title of the article is the not pithy: “Maxine Peake: ‘People who couldn’t vote Labour because of Corbyn? They voted Tory as far as I’m concerned’.” After the snootiness, Peake, an actress, looks at the alleged murder of George Floyd at the hands US police. We read:

“Systemic racism is a global issue,” she adds. “The tactics used by the police in America, kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, that was learnt from seminars with Israeli secret services.”

Can it be that Mossad and those pesky Jews killed George Floyd? And why Israel and not another nation to have hosted US cops? Nietzsche told us that anti-Semitism is used by people hoping “someone must be to blame for the fact that I do not feel well”. Jews are “scapegoats for every possible public and private misfortune”. Labour lost. George Floyd was killed. Make the link…

In a correction to its story, the Indy notes: “Our article also implied that this training could have included neck kneeling tactics.” Oh? “There has been no suggestion that this training involved the tactics referred to in the article.” So who suggested it did? The Indy’s correction contains no time stamp so it might look as if it’s no correction at all and might have been there all along. In the Indy’s original version of the article, Peake’s comments included a link to an Amnesty International article that talked about US police departments training in Israel. Peake didn’t put it there. The Indy did. That link was later removed. The revised article fails to mention the presence of any link.

And so to the politician, a leading MP in a party under investigation for institutional anti-Semitism who saw an interview with someone she admires and retweeted it with high praise. “Maxine Peake is an absolute diamond,” said the now former Shadow Education Secretary. The Indy’s nastiness and Peake’s factoid should be more widely read. Peake later said that stuff about secret Jews training US police to kill blacks by kneeling on their necks was “inaccurate” .

Labour MP Stella Creasy tweeted that the interview was “textbook casual antisemitism”, adding that “being antiracist means countering, not indulging, such tropes”.

Should Long-Bailey get another go at education she can help pick which textbooks the youth read. “I think secondary school education should include a module on conspiracy theories,” tweets writer Matthew Sweet. “How to spot them, how to resist the way they seduce with simple explanations for complex phenomena and their appeal to prejudice and confirmation bias.”

Says Long-Bailey:

“I retweeted Maxine Peake’s article because of her significant achievements and because the thrust of her argument is to stay in the Labour Party. It wasn’t intended to be an endorsement of all aspects of the article.”

Jeremy Corbyn likes some bits of an anti-Semitic mural. Long-Bailey likes some bits of apparently anti-Semitic articles. You can read Mein Kampf and admire the writer’s use of grammar.

John McDonnell, who was shadow chancellor under Jeremy Corbyn, was critical of the decision to sack his ally, saying: “Throughout discussion of anti-Semitism it’s always been said criticism of practices of Israeli state is not anti-Semitic. I don’t believe therefore that this article is or Rebecca Long-Bailey should’ve been sacked. I stand in solidarity with her.” What about if the criticism is based on a falsehood? What if linking an alleged racially-driven murder in the US to a training programme run by secret Jews in a foreign land is a bit iffy?

The sane might think it indecent to debate the pros and cons of the Indy giving space to such things, adding police brutality in Minneapolis to the list of evils and ills that Israel is uniquely responsible for. The journalist wrote it. The sub-editors fact-checked it. The editor approved it. They all thought it fine. The Indy published the interviewee’s views uncontested. Labour List, the website funded by Unite the Union and UNISON, wants to see if Peake has a point. Says Labour List:

‘A 2016 Amnesty USA article states that law enforcement officials in Baltimore, Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California, Arizona, Connecticut, New York and other places “have all traveled to Israel for training”.’

So what? So nothing. It just’s there, dangled like low-hanging fruit for readers to lick and sniff, to sense and find meaning in the sickly scent.

But facts, what of them? George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It is not known if Minnesota sent a secret cohort of police to Israel to learn how to murder black men by kneeling on their necks. But until we see evidence to the contrary, we should keep open minds. And if the Indy wants it, I can press f9 on the keyboard and bang out 500 words about how the world’s only Jewish state did it and is behind everything else that spoiled your day.

Posted: 25th, June 2020 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Marx Must Fall! Highgate statue to racist must be torn down

Marx statue vandalised

Statues are coming down across the country. Oriel College, Oxford, is readying to remove a statue to colonialist Cecil Rhodes. In Bristol, a statue to slave trader Edward Colston was rolled into Bristol Harbour. A statue to slaveholder Robert Milligan has been removed from view in London. Statue of racists are coming down all across America. So is it time to get rid of Karl Marx statues, including the huge headstone that sits atop his grave in London’s Highgate cemetery?

In 2019, the words “doctrine of hate” and “architect of genocide” were painted on the Marx Highgate cemetery memorial. One onlooker was quoted in the Guardian: ““I wouldn’t like to say who or why someone did it but it was clearly someone very critical of Marx and that part of history. I am just surprised that somebody in 2019 feels they need to and do something like that.” No contrary view was quoted.

Spoof news website Babylon Bee quips: “Looking to protect their statues and other municipal monuments, cities and towns across the country have begun disguising their statues as Karl Marx. City councils all over are ordering Karl Marx wigs and putting them on Teddy Roosevelt, George Washington, Christopher Columbus, and other statues.”

Marx was a champion of the masses and the oppressed, say some. Other says he was a hardcore anti-semite who called for “the emancipation of mankind from Judaism” and fed the 2,000-year-old prejudice that Jews were all about the money and behind every ill, writing, “Money is the jealous god of Israel.” As Jonathan Freedland notes:

The historical explanation for this enduring linking of Jews and money is that Jews were pushed into financial roles by a church that barred Christians from, say, lending money for interest, and barred Jews from doing much else, such as owning and farming land. As Anthony Julius – whose Trials of the Diaspora is the definitive history of English antisemitism – puts it, in a feudal society in which Jews could be neither peasants nor lords, there was “no other niche” available. But psychological explanations also suggest themselves, starting with the notion that Christian society was able to split off that aspect of itself it regarded as sinful – its pursuit of wealth and profit – and project it instead on to a hated other: the Jew.

Bob Seely adds:

…Karl Marx’s conspiratorial view of the world is at the rotten root of both hard Left and Right. Marx helped provide the intellectual base for both the Holocaust of the Jews…

In his 1843 essay, The Jewish Question, Marx, whose father converted from Judaism to Protestantism, equated emancipation from capitalism and Judaism as being one and the same. “Money is the jealous god of Israel” Marx wrote. “The god of the Jews has become secularised and has become the god of the world.” He jumbled together hostility to private property and capitalism, and his personal hatred of Jews as self-interested, rootless and enablers of secret control, updating miserable medieval tropes for the modern world. Once society succeeded in the preconditions of Capital, “the Jew will have become impossible [Marx’s italics],” perhaps the most profound example of bastardised pseudo-science in modern political history.

Frederick Engels addressed Marx’s racism in a letter date April 19, 1890:

…you might not be doing more harm than good with your anti-Semitism is something I would ask you to consider. For anti-Semitism betokens a retarded culture…

In North America not a single Jew is to be found among the millionaires whose wealth can, in some cases, scarcely be expressed in terms of our paltry marks, gulden or francs and, by comparison with these Americans, the Rothschilds are veritable paupers. And even in England, Rothschild is a man of modest means when set, for example, against the Duke of Westminster. Even in our own Rhineland from which, with the help of the French, we drove the aristocracy 95 years ago and where we have established modern industry, one may look in vain for Jews.

Hence anti-Semitism is merely the reaction of declining medieval social strata against a modern society consisting essentially of capitalists and wage-labourers, so that all it serves are reactionary ends under a purportedly socialist cloak; it is a degenerate form of feudal socialism and we can have nothing to do with that. The very fact of its existence in a region is proof that there is not yet enough capital there. Capital and wage-labour are today indivisible. The stronger capital and hence the wage-earning class becomes, the closer will be the demise of capitalist domination. So what I would wish for us Germans, amongst whom I also count the Viennese, is that the capitalist economy should develop at a truly spanking pace rather than slowly decline into stagnation.

In addition, the anti-Semite presents the facts in an entirely false light. He doesn’t even know the Jews he decries, otherwise he would be aware that, thanks to anti-Semitism in eastern Europe, and to the Spanish Inquisition in Turkey, there are here in England and in America thousands upon thousands of Jewish proletarians; and it is precisely, these Jewish workers who are the worst exploited and the most poverty-stricken. In England during the past twelve months we have had three strikes by Jewish workers. Are we then expected to engage in anti-Semitism in our struggle against capital?

Nietzsche noted that anti-Semitism was used by people hoping “someone must be to blame for the fact that I do not feel well”. Jews were “scapegoats for every possible public and private misfortune”.

Let’s get the racists and chop down statues to them. Marx must fall! Right?

Posted: 25th, June 2020 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Arsenal balls: The Bernd Leno miracle

Remember when Bernd Leno, the Arsenal goalkeeper, suffered a “horror injury (Mail) in a match with Brighton? So horrible was the injury that the Sun told us that BT Sport refused to show it in a replay.

Leno the sun
X-Rated Horror!

As I pointed out, Arsenal fans are made of sterner stuff than those BT softies and could watch the gore fest on their club’s family friendly official website.

Leno injury
Will Leno walk again?!

As the world prayed for Leno, the Sun looked at five goalies Arsenal could sign to cover for Leno should be be out for year with what could be cruciate knee ligament damage.

And then prayers were answered. It turns out that Leno had merely sprained his knee. He will walk again! There will medical journals telling of Leno’s knee. Religionist will will point to Bernd ‘Lazarus’ Leno as evidence of god’s love.

Amen.

Posted: 23rd, June 2020 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment


Posh Nigerian Dillibe Onyeama was too black for Eton College

Nigerian Dillibe Onyeama was the first black person to obtain a school-leaving certificate from EtonCollege, graduating in 1969. He arrived in January 1965, aged 14, his name put on the recruitment list at birth by his father, an eminent Oxford-educated Nigerian judge.

Onyeama became persona non grata to the school for toffs when he wrote a book about the racism he experienced there. The school’s great and good asked him such questions as: “Why are you black?”, “How many maggots are there in your hair?” and “Does your mother wear a bone in her nose?” He writes: ““I swung a powerful right-hander at his chin… He dropped to the floor like an inert sack and lay there crying. The happy faces of his friends distorted with shock, and next they were shouting at me with disapproval.”

As a black person, the for vocal and blinkered members of the jeunesse dorée expected him to be sporty but mentally negligible. He scored 7 O’Levels, was decent at games but never did play rugger for England. He says that “colour prejudice was the most outstanding feature of my experiences.”

How this differed from treatment meted tout to black children at other British schools in the 1960s is moot. It was far from abnormal. But Eton is for the elite, land-owning class. These people set the rules at their private clubs and family dos. To date, 20 British prime ministers have attended the school, as did Princes William and Harry, the latter moving on from his days as recreational Nazi who once referred to a mate as “Paki” to marry mixed-race American Meghan Markle.

The school’s current head, Simon Henderson, has apologised for the sins of the past and says he’d like Mr Onyeama to return “to make it clear that he will always be welcome at Eton. We must all speak out and commit to doing better – permanently – and I am determined that we seize this moment as a catalyst for real and sustained change for the better.” Mr Onyeama says the apology “compels the recognition that prejudice on the grounds of colour or race dehumanises its victims in a way that ordinary forms of prejudice do not”.

Posted: 23rd, June 2020 | In: News | Comment


Mass murder in Reading was driven by Covid-19, cannabis, mental health but not racism, homophobia and Islamism

Khairi Saadallah

How did James Furlong, David Wails and Joe Ritchie-Bennett die? The three men were at a pub in Reading when someone stabbed them to death. Khairi Saadallah, 25, has been arrested on suspicion of murder.

In the BBC’s profile of the suspect we learn that Saadallah was arrested under the Terrorism Act. Can we guess why he might have attacked three white, middle-aged gay men? If we see everything through the prism of gender and race, as those on the far-Left and far-right insist that we should, isn’t the men’s identify relevant? Does the identity of victims and the alleged perpetrator play a role in the way political leaders and media respond to attacks? Let’s see what the BBC says about the heinous crime.

We’re told that Saadallah arrived in the UK from Libya in 2012. The police noticed him. MI5 had him marked as a person who might travel abroad for terrorism purposes.

Why? What is driving such thoughts and suspicions?

The BBC cites someone who knows Saadallah. They say the suspect suffered from “post-traumatic stress from the civil war”. We read that his “long-standing mental health problems had been exacerbated by the coronavirus lockdown.” Last year he threw a TV from his top-floor flat window. He had a “mental health key worker”.

If this is a care in the community or health issue, why has the suspect been arrested as a suspected terrorist? If he is a terrorist, can we guess at his ideology? The BBC notes that police are “keeping an open mind as to the motive for this attack”. Keep an eye out for news that he played video games or watched ‘video nasties’.

The head of counter terrorism policing, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, says the attack was “unrelated to a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest held hours earlier in the park”.

So what is it related to? In the language of identify politics, was it a homophobic attack? Was it a racist attack? Was it a revenge attack?

BBC’s home affairs correspondent Daniel Sandford reports that Saadallah seemed to be a “normal, genuine guy” who smoked cannabis. Did normality or marijuana drive him to it?

In his analysis of the horror the BBC’s home affairs correspondent Dominic Casciani says: “Saturday’s horrifying killings may be another example of what security chiefs call a “lone actor” attack where a single individual turns extremist beliefs into murderous actions.”

What beliefs? Religious beliefs? We’re not told. Why not? The Mail says Saadallah was on the MI5 watch list “because of a tip-off that he wanted to join Islamic State”.

Conservative chairman of the defence select committee Tobias Ellwood stated:

“At the time of the Bali bombing there were 26 proscribed organisations by the Home Office, that number has risen to 86. It isn’t just a problem for the UK, but we need to look wider afield. The reasons why these things are happening is because there are fanatics working in ungoverned spaces, preying on vulnerable individuals, promoting a false interpretation of Islam. We pat ourselves on the back to say we defeated Daesh, but that’s only territorially, that ideology lives on and continues to grow. The threat is there and until we address this wider picture, the threat of terrorism in the UK will continue.”

So, about that cannabis…

Posted: 23rd, June 2020 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Pray for Bernd Leno: watch the ‘horror’ injury before the watershed

Leno injury

Another days and with it another injury to an Arsenal player. This time it’s Bernd Leno, the talented Arsenal goalkeeper who jarred his knee in a match against Brighton. So bad was the “horror injury” that according to the Sun, broadcaster BT Sport “refused” to show it on the telly. Dead bodies, war, famine and George Floyd having his neck sat on by a policeman for nearly nine minutes in America (he was pronounced dead not long after) are all suitable items for tea-time watching. But the German goalie jarring his knee is unacceptable to Arsenal fans who have seen in recent years two players (Euduardo and Ramsay) carried from the pitch with badly broken legs and another (Diaby) badly hurt.

For anyone keen to see the incident help is at hand because you can watch Leno jarring his leg on the official Arsenal website. Elsewhere you can see Leno cussing at the Brighton player who clattered him, contributing to the injury and leaving the ground on crutches. We can assure viewers that Leno will walk again. In other news: 60,000 people are dead from Covid-19. As you were…

Posted: 21st, June 2020 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Children jumping from third floor window onto mattresses at Ashfield Valley estate, Rochdale, 1980s

This incredible photograph shows children jumping onto a pile of mattresses at the Ashfield Valley estate in Rochdale in the 1980s. We don’t know the people in it. We don’t know who took the photo. But we’d like to. Known to residents as ‘The Valley’, the estate was largely demolished in the 1990s, with the remaining buildings renamed Stoneyvale Court.

Spotter: British Culture Archive and FlashbakShop

Posted: 20th, June 2020 | In: News | Comment


Simeon Francis – ‘I Can’t Breathe’: Say the words on camera and media will notice your unexplained death in police custody

Simeon Francis, 35, died in a police cell on 20 May. He’d been arrested in Exeter and for reasons unclear sent to a police station in Torquay, around 20 miles away. A post mortem was unable to settle on a cause of death. Devon and Cornwall Police issued a statement on May 21, 2020. Mr Francis’s death triggered a mandatory investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct. Assistant Chief Constable Jim Colwell stated:

“An independent investigation by the IOPC will always be carried out following a death in police custody. The force made this referral immediately and has co-operated fully with the IOPC ever since, this will continue in the coming weeks and months.

“Our thoughts and condolences remain with the family and friends of Mr Francis and we remain committed to a wholly appropriate, independent and thorough investigation into the events surrounding Mr Francis’ death.

“As this matter remains subject to an IOPC independent investigation it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time, but our communities can be rest assured that Devon & Cornwall Police will always operate with integrity, honesty and transparency.”

So says the police. Regional Director Catrin Evans said:

“Our thoughts are with Mr Francis’ family and friends following his death. We will be keeping his family updated during the course of our independent investigation. Our investigators have begun gathering evidence and statements from officers. We are analysing a considerable amount of CCTV footage from the custody suite. We are looking at the level of care provided during the period of detention, including the frequency and adequacy of checks carried out.”

Mr Francis was a persistent offender. In 2017, a report into his arrest and conviction for car crime noted that it was his 175th offence. A report in 2018 says Mr Francis was addicted to Class A drugs and had threatened prison offices but not physically hurt them. The presiding Judge observed: “If any one of the people sitting here in court had been through that childhood, we would probably be in the same position as he is now.”

The purpose of noting that is to illustrate that Mr Francis was known to the police. So when he was arrested in Exeter in July 2019, police might well have known who he was. Given his lengthy criminal record for theft and drugs, they might also have assumed he’d be non-violent. But someone took a video of that arrest. In it we see three police officers sitting on Mr Francis, who is on the pavement – one by his head, one by his midriff and one on his legs. Two more officers are very close by. In all, ten officers were on the scene. “Do you really need that many officers on him?” says an onlooker. Says Mr Francis: “I can’t breathe.”

And with those three words, the mysterious death of a black man in police custody becomes news. They were the words uttered by George Floyd as he was being murdered by police in the US, as is alleged.

Desmond Jaddoo is Mr Francis’s family spokesman. He says: “I have written to Shaun Sawyer, the chief constable of Devon and Cornwall Police, lodging a formal complaint of racial discrimination, use of excessive force and intimidation. This video raises concerns of the actual treatment of Mr Francis by Devon and Cornwall Police. It has caused his family further and extreme distress during this difficult time.”

So here’s the key question: was Mr Francis’s death preventable? We might also wonder if had a white aristocrat died in a police cell, people would be satisfied when the State says it is unable to say how he died? A family statement notes: “The news of the death of another black man whilst in police custody raises again the concerns regarding the disproportionality of black people dying in custody.” His siblings add: ” No matter Simeon’s past, he was our brother and well loved. We want answers as to why he died in these circumstances. We are devastated at the news of his death and now seek justice for him.”

So there it is. Had it not been for the death of George Floyd, Simeon Francis would be just another statistic. Now he’s news. Good.

Posted: 19th, June 2020 | In: News | Comment


Barcelona opera house reopens to an audience of 2,000 plants

Barcelona opera house reopens to an audience of 2,000 plants

Barcelona’s Liceu opera house reopens on June 22 with a concert for 2,292 plants. Humans will have to tune in on YouTube. Concert for the Biocene will feature Puccini’s “Crisantemi” on strings.

Eugenio Ampudia, the artist behind the concert, explains: “At a time when an important part of humankind has shut itself up in enclosed spaces and been obliged to relinquish movement, nature has crept forward to occupy the spaces we have ceded. And it has done so at its own rhythm, according to its patient biological cycle. Can we broaden our empathy and bring it to bear on other species? Let’s start by using art and music and inviting nature into a great concert hall.”

Not so much invited as carried in and unless they’re triffids, incapable of voting with their feet. But they’re quiet and don’t fidget. So play on…

Posted: 19th, June 2020 | In: News, Strange But True | Comment


Police racism in Britain : the individual saves the institution

The BBC has a story on racism in the British police. I’ve seen police racism myself. The police seems to attract more than its fair share of bigots. Stood at a bus stop in north-west London with friends in the 1980s, police pulled up and decided to question us over nothing. Only one us was black. They hit him. At the football, hundreds of jubilant fans ran onto the pitch after Arsenal had won the title – remember those days? A black teenager next to me was smiling broadly. One copper punched punched him square in the head. Why him?

Things are better than they were. In 1981, Manchester police drove riot vans through Moss Side, banging their armour shouting “Nigger, nigger, nigger, oi, oi, oi’ and chasing the kids all over.”

Lewis* is Asian and currently working as a police officer.

“One of my first experiences was when I overheard a senior ranking white officer tell new recruits that if they see a well-dressed black man – it’s ‘game on’.

Is it as bad now as it was? Has nothing changed? The Macpherson Report into the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence redefined racism as “any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person”. You can be an “unwitting” racist. We were directed to look at the individual rather than the deliberate wielding of power by a racist state apparatus. Is that about to change again? What drives racism? And how do we crush it?

Posted: 18th, June 2020 | In: News | Comment


Madeleine McCann: suspect says he didn’t do it; no evidence to charge him

To coincide with the resumption of the football season, the Mirror leads with a photo of Madeleine McCann in her Everton kit. The news is that convicted rapist and peadophile Christian Brückner / Christian Brueckner says he didn’t dit not kidnap and murder the missing child. Brueckner’s lawyer Friedrich Fulscher says his client “denied any involvement”.

As the suspect denies all and wallows in solitary confinement in a German prison for depraved and violent crimes, the Mail looks at the vehicle he drove back and forth between Germany and Portugal. Says the paper:

It is not clear when Brueckner bought the 30-year-old Tiffin Allegro but he was known to be driving a vehicle matching its description in 2007, when Madeleine, three, vanished.

And..?

People who knew him described a ‘large cream-coloured Winnebago campervan,’ which he allegedly bragged could hide ‘drugs and children’.

Police have located the van on land owned by the suepct. According to Spiegel, police found the van when they investigated the vanishing of five-year-old Inga Gehricke.

Germany’s Spiegel TV reported that during a six-day search of the site detectives found numerous items of children’s clothing, most of them ‘small swimsuits’ in the motorhome. Brueckner does not have any children.

The convicted rapist has no children.

Police also found six memory sticks with more than 8,000 files, mostly containing pictures and videos of child abuse. They were in a bag in a hole in the ground, underneath the body of his dead dog. Brueckner, now 43, was convicted of possessing the child porn but not charged in relation to Inga. He was identified as a suspect in the McCann case in recent weeks and police near Hanover have reopened the file into Inga’s disappearance, looking again at Brueckner.

A bloke called Dieter tells the Mail that he once looked around the van:

“Brueckner told me again, ‘I have 50kg of grass, and I transport it around Europe’. I thought he was joking at the time. He said, ‘In my van, I can take 50kg of grass – nobody can see it … I can transport children, kids, in this space. Drugs and children, you can transport them in this van – it’s a safe space in the van. Nobody can find them. Nobody can catch you’.”

The Sun picks up more of the Spiegel report:

While living in Braunschweig, Christian B ran a kiosk between 2013 and 2015 and he was pictured inside wearing dark sunglasses.

Bjorn told the documentary how Christian B had been contacted in 2013 by police investigating Madeleine’s disappearance.

He said: “One day I came into the kiosk and he was a little bit distraught and said, ‘Hey, look what I’ve got here’ — and he showed me a subpoena for the Madeleine McCann case.

“You could see it churned him up a bit but he wasn’t panicking and he wasn’t saying ‘they are on my heels’.

“I think he said he had been there but that he had nothing to do with it and that was that.”

Such are the facts.

Posted: 17th, June 2020 | In: Madeleine McCann, News | Comment


Madeleine McCann: Wolters might be wrong, the missing letter and wafer-thin concrete

On June 15 the Sun told readers that Madeleine’s McCann’s parents were due to receive a letter from German prosectors. The letter would tell Gerry and Kate McCann how their daughter died, allegedly at the hands of convicted rapist and paedophile Christian Brueckner, currently serving time in a German prison. By way of a clue, the Mail added that police in Portugal were getting ready to search wells around the Algarve resort where the child vanished in 2007.

One day on and with the murder suspect is not talking, the Sun told readers that the McCanns had been sent the “saddest letter”.

MAddie McCann letter

The “concrete evidence” of Madeleine McCann’s death was not revealed in the missive. But the letter had been sent, That much was certain. “Prosecutors in Germany have written to Kate and Gerry McCann to tell them Madeleine is dead,” said the Sun. They have “concrete evidence” suspect Christian B killed her but cannot yet reveal details.”

And then the fact was undone by a “BOMBSHELL”, of which there have been many. This one is that the McCanns have yet to receive the letter.

Wolters letter mccann

Prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters has already proven to be less than certain, having informed us that he assumed Madeleine McCann was dead adding later that she might not be. Maybe the letter was sent to the family’s reps, the police or has been delayed in the post. The McCanns note on their website:

“The widely reported news that we have received a letter from the German authorities that states there is evidence or proof that Madeleine is dead is FALSE. Like many unsubstantiated stories in the media, this has caused unnecessary anxiety to friends and family and once again disrupted our lives.”

Says Wolters, as quoted in the Express:

“We have re-established contact with the McCann family in writing. We, of course, really consider the fact that it is going to be very hard for the family when we tell them that we assume Madeline is dead. But we can’t say why she is dead. It is more important that we are is successful and we are able to get the culprit as opposed to just putting our cards on the table and tell them why we think she might be.”

“Might be.” She might be dead. He might be a murderer. Or to put it another way, she might not be dead. He might not be a murderer.

Wolters is quoted more on the Sun:

“It would be easier for them [the McCanns] if I could tell them what we know but I can’t. All I can say is there is no forensic evidence but there is other evidence which indicates she is dead. I don’t want to go into any details about the letter, when it was written or how it was sent. All I will confirm is that it has been written.”

Such are the facts.

Posted: 16th, June 2020 | In: Madeleine McCann, News, Tabloids | Comment


Oxford University patronises black students with George Floyd therapy

Racism is for fools. Anyone sane should strive for equality. But at Oxford University, fine minds think black students are weak and in need of therapy following the alleged murder of George Floyd by police in the US. The dolts want to mark every black student as a special project:

Oxford university black george floyd

Is this what racism looks like? Yes, says one leading educator:

This is the full open letter to students to Oxford students from the Vice-Chancellor and Heads of House

Many students have written to senior colleagues across the University to express their concerns following the brutal killing of George Floyd.

The response below has been written by the Vice-Chancellor and Heads of Houses of Oxford colleges, outlining the support available to students affected by this issue, as well as a summary of initiatives that are being put in place.

Dear Students

Thank you for your letter expressing your concerns for the welfare of Black students at the University at this time. We are writing to you as a group of individuals who care deeply about our University: we appreciate you writing to us, not least because we share your concerns about the traumatic effect of the brutality which killed George Floyd and which is a manifestation of institutionalised racism. The collective failures to address attitudes and behaviours which amount to discrimination are still prevalent in many institutions, including higher education.

We’re determined to support our Black students in every way we can. You asked in your letter about a number of specific welfare issues, and we will address those first:

Mitigating circumstances

We encourage any students with mitigating circumstances to apply to have those taken into account. Any student taking University assessments who feels their performance has been affected should submit a self-assessment mitigating circumstances form after their final examination or assessment. This is available to all students on the Proctors’ website https://www.proctors.ox.ac.uk/forms. Students are strongly encouraged in advance of submitting their form to contact their college academic office who can provide lots of advice and guidance on completing the form. Undergraduate students might also wish to make contact with their college tutors/senior tutor/welfare staff, and likewise any graduate student to contact their college tutor for graduates/welfare staff. The heads of house signatories of this letter will alert all college academic and welfare staff to the potential need here, and will urge those colleagues to reach out to any students who may be experiencing difficulty at this time.

Black counsellors
The University has committed to continue increasing the diversity of its counselling team by engaging Black counsellors as soon as possible. In the short term it is seeking to extend such provision by facilitating access to a network of Black counsellors outside the University. We would encourage students to make full use of the University Counselling Service, where there is a strong commitment to making Black students welcome and to working with them sensitively and effectively. We hope, too, that Black students will feel able to reach out to their welfare supporters or staff in college. They may wish to get in touch with a network of peer supporters of colour, who can work across colleges. Details are here, and students can email here: peersofcolour@admin.ox.ac.uk

Reduction of workload
The heads of house signatories of this letter will alert college tutors, senior tutors, tutors for graduates and welfare staff to the potential need here, and will urge those colleagues to reach out to any Black students who may be experiencing difficulty at this time.

This is a matter for individual discussions between students and their tutors. We urge any undergraduate who is feeling the strain to contact their tutors/senior tutor/welfare supporter as soon as possible, and likewise any graduate student to contact their supervisor/college tutor for graduates/college welfare team

Urge staff and students to sign petitions
We commend the response of so many Oxford University students and staff, and we note that some helpful advice can be found at the Oxford Student Union resource page here.

In addition, we urge all who protest to know their rights, which they can find here.

Donate to organisations

Because colleges and the University are themselves charities, that makes their giving to other charities complex and often impossible under charity law. However, we completely understand the importance of encouraging and urging staff and students, and anyone connected with Oxford University, past and present, to express their support for any cause they feel will make a difference.
Alongside addressing these specific issues you raised, we remain open to further conversation about what our Black students need at this time. We are aware that it is both easy and problematic to assume that we know what others need without asking them. We would welcome a conversation to discuss what more Oxford University and its colleges can do to support our students, and to this end will continue our dialogue with the Oxford African and Caribbean Society (ACS). We wholly identify with the vision of Black Lives Matter of “imagining and creating a world free of anti-blackness, where every black person has the social, economic and political power to thrive.”

While much is being done by many committed people, we acknowledge that we are rightly reproached for our collective failure to address the issue of systemic racism properly, and that we have work to do. We are planning a number of initiatives, as part of that work, including the following:

A University fundraising initiative for scholarships for Black students
A review of all the Equality and Diversity Unit [EDU] training materials that are used across the University and colleges to ensure they are fit for purpose. We will involve students in the process.
Setting up an access track within UNIQ to meet the specific needs of BAME students wishing to apply to Oxford.
Many different initiatives across individual colleges and departments.
Continuing to work with the pressing diversity challenges in relation to other groups.
The heads of all colleges committed ourselves to doing the work that we know is needed, in a letter to The Guardian, published last week.

We reiterate here what we said in that letter: “We recognise and regret that, for black members of our community, the unfolding crisis together with the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on their communities has caused them particular anxiety, anger and pain. We stand with them during these difficult moments with hope that, through the global mobilisation of many against these injustices, through education, discussion, and peaceful protest, we may work together towards a world free of systemic racism and discrimination.”

We also state that we have zero tolerance for racist comments or behaviours by staff or students of any kind.

Finally, please appreciate that this is not a one-off response. We are aware of other concerns that have been voiced elsewhere and will do our best – given the pressures of final examinations and the Covid-19 emergency – to engage with the issues that have been raised.

We hope that you will join with us in continuing to do the work that is needed to create a genuinely diverse and inclusive community, in which all feel respected and secure.

Yours sincerely,

Louise Richardson, Vice Chancellor

And the Heads of House of the following colleges:

Dame Helen Ghosh, Balliol

Revd Dr David Goodill OP, Blackfriars

John Bowers QC, Brasenose College

The Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy, Christ Church

Professor Ian Watson, Christ Church

Dr Helen Moore, Corpus Christi College

Professor Sir Rick Trainor, Exeter College

Professor Jane Shaw, Harris Manchester College

Will Hutton, Hertford College

Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt, Jesus College

Sir Jonathan Phillips, Keble College

Alan Rusbridger, Lady Margaret Hall

Professor Henry Woudhuysen, Lincoln College

Professor Sir David Clary, Magdalen College

Helen Mansfield, QC, Mansfield College

Professor Irene Tracey, Merton College

Miles Young, New College

Neil Mendoza, Oriel College

Dame Lynne Brindley, Pembroke College

Dr Claire Craig, The Queen’s College

Revd Dr Robert Ellis, Regent’s Park College

Helen King, St Anne’s College

Professor Richard Cooper, St Benet’s Hall

Professor Kersti Borjars, St Catherine’s College

Professor Kathy Willis, St Edmund Hall

Professor Sir Gordon Duff, St Hilda’s College

Dame Elish Angiolini, St Hugh’s College

Professor Maggie Snowling, St John’s College

Professor Judith Buchanan, St Peter’s College

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon, Somerville College

Dame Hilary Boulding, Trinity College

Sir Ivor Crewe, University College

Lord Macdonald of River Glaven, Wadham College

Professor Kate Tunstall, Worcester College

Rev Dr Michael Lloyd, Wycliffe Hall

Posted: 16th, June 2020 | In: News | Comment


Madeleine McCann: German police catch suspected murderer but think victim could be alive

Madeleine MCCann wolters

Christian Brueckner has yet to be arrested or charged with the alleged murder of Madeleine McCann. there is no news. So the media returns to its default poistion: watching the parents. The Sunday Mirror leads with news that Kate and Gerry McCann have called on the German prosecutor who assumes their daughter is dead to provide evidence.

Last week. Hans Christian Wolters, a spokesman for the Braunschweig public prosecutor’s office, told Sky News:

“The hard evidence we don’t have, we don’t have the crucial evidence of Madeleine McCann’s body. We expect that she is dead, but we don’t have enough evidence that we can get a warrant for our suspect in Germany for the murder of Madeleine McCann. At the moment, we also don’t have enough proof for a trial at court, but we have some evidence that the suspect has done the deed. That’s why we need more information from people, especially places he has lived, so we can target these places especially and search there for Madeleine.”

Seems fair to ask him what he’s seen, no, especially if you’re the parents of the missing child and are desperate for news. Surely Wolters is not just speculating, riffing in the public arena in the hope that someone takes the line and points the finger? “German Prosecutors Dash Hopes of Finding Madeleine McCann alive,” says the New York Times. Can we see the evidence, please?

Hold on a mo. Wolters is talking to the Mirror:

“Because there is no forensic evidence there may be a little bit of hope (that she is alive). We don’t want to kill the hope and because there is no forensic evidence it may be theoretically possible. I know it’s important for the British people when I say she is dead, but I did not know it was so important.”

There is no forensic evidence so it’s theoretical she is alive. It’s also theoretical that she is dead. The theories can go on and on infinitum until we see evidence. And at the moment the theory is that convicted paedophile Christian Brueckner murdered the innocent child. And German cops are so certain he did it they’ve not charged him anything in relation to the case. Will they?

Says Wolters:

“I think the Portuguese officials still think that Maddie’s parents are responsible for her disappearance. From our perspective, the suspect is in jail in Germany right now. And this is not the case for Maddie’s parents. We think that the parents don’t have anything to do with it. We are convinced that our 43-year-old suspect is the murderer of Maddie McCann.”

Wolters is convinced the German police have identified the suspected murderer. Although the victim might be alive. Clear?

The Times says the rapist and child abuser is “receiving counselling in prison while he is held in isolation to prevent other inmates attacking him”. If he’s in isolations, how… Never mind. Here comes the depraved criminal’s lawyer, Friedrich Fülscher, to tell RTL TV how his client is coping:

“How should a person who is isolated in a correctional facility and who is accused by half the world’s population of the worst crimes?”

Confessing would be useful. But he’s not done so.

Posted: 14th, June 2020 | In: Madeleine McCann, News, Tabloids | Comment


Essex man arrested for peeing at PC Keith Palmer memorial

PC Keith Palmer urine

The man seen taking a leak at the memorial to PC Keith Palmer has been arrested. The stone pays tribute to the life of Mr Palmer, 48. He was one of five people murdered by Islamist Khalid Masood in an attack on Westminster on 22 March 2017. It’s not know why the man was in Westminster, but there was a far-right protest going on at the time. The protestors aim? To protect memorials and statues to white Britons.

The man who thought it ok to take a leak at the tribute site has been nicked on suspicion on outraging public decency. Not everyone is keen to condemn him:

There are no images of Julia Hartley-Brewer urinating in public.

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


Jane Elliott of Riceville, Iowa: The blue eyes v brown eyes racism experiment

One day after Martin Luther King Junior was murdered, Jane Elliott, a teacher in Riceville, Iowa, wanted to illustrate the perils of prejudice to her class. On April 5, 1968, Jane split here class of third-graders into colour lines. Children were split into two group: the blue-eyed versus the brown-eyed. One day the brown-eyed children got special privileges; the next day it was the turn of the blue-eyed children.

Wind the clock on and Jane Elliott is talking with Jimmy Fallon, the curretn Tonight Show hots. “I didn’t know how this exercise would work,” says Elliott. “If I had known how it would work, I probably wouldn’t have done it. If I had known that, after I did that exercise, I lost all my friends, no teacher would speak to me where they could be seen speaking to me, because it wasn’t good politics to be seen talking to the town’s only ‘N-word lover.'”

You can see the class in the 1970 television documentary The Eye of the Storm:

via Boing Boing

Posted: 12th, June 2020 | In: News, TV & Radio | Comment


Edward Colston the moral saint and father of Bristol: why the statue to a slave trader was built 170 years after his death

1722 portrait by George Vertue, after Jonathan Richardson

For some time campaigners wanted to add a ‘corrective’ plaque on the statue of Edward Colston (2 November 1636 – 11 October 1721). Last week, protestors went further, pulling down the statue to a man who traded in wine, fruit and slaves, and tossing it into Bristol Harbour. Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, said he felt no “sense of loss”, but that the statue made in 1895 would be retrieved and it was “highly likely that the Colston statue will end up in one of our museums.”

Like many, I’m interested in why and how the statue ever came to exist, a totem bearing the legend: “Erected by citizens of Bristol as a memorial of one of the most virtuous and wise sons of their city.” Edward Ball investigates:

Despite the claims on the statue of Edward Colston and local myth, the idea of having a statue of to memorialise the ‘great benefactor’ did not come from popular demands by the “citizens of Bristol”. It was in fact the brainchild of one person, James Arrowsmith, president of the Liberal dominated Anchor Society. Arrowsmith was a wealthy businessman who owned the largest printing and publishing company in the city. In a speech to the Colston Fraternal Society in October 1893 he proposed that a statue should be erected and in March of the following year a fund raising committee was set up by officials of the four Colston commemoration societies, with Arrowsmith as honorary secretary.

The money did not pour in. Even with lots of letters to the local paper, fundraisers and campaigning among the monied classes, the target was only met when an anonymous donor rumoured to be one James Arrowsmith dug deep and deeper to make his dream a reality. And so it was that a few wealthy Victorians with an agenda to create and promote a sense of tradition erected a statue to the “father of the city”, a “merchant prince” and a “moral saint’.

The unveiling was led by the Mayor and Bishop of Bristol, surrounded by the business and political elite of the city. The mayor’s  speech concentrated on Bristol’s maritime history of mercantilism and Colston’s philanthropy. There was, of course, no direct mention of Colston’s leading role in the slave trade through his management positions and investments in the Royal African Company. The same had been true of the whole fund-raising campaign. However, the Mayor made one major indirect reference in his speech in stating that Colston’s “business was mainly with the West Indies”; essentially code for involvement in slavery and the slave trade. It is interesting that in 1895 there was at least some clarity about this aspect, albeit indirect. This should be compared to clumsy attempts by apologists over a century later to ‘airbrush the history’ by portraying Colston as merely an Iberian, Mediterranean or Levant merchant with no direct connections to trans-Atlantic slavery.

The mayor’s right – the thing belongs in a museum with other statues of long dead gods, saints and angels. The accompanying note will explain its history.

Spotter: Bristol Radical History Group

Posted: 9th, June 2020 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


Black Lives Matters if you want to sell newspapers and celebrate the toppling of Edward Colston

Racism george floyd statur bristol

Anti-racism protests triggered by the killing of George Floyd in the US occupy the front pages. The Mirror calls it “The march for change”. Thousands of us took part in anti-racism protests across the UK at the weekend. The paper leads with the picture of a statue of tycoon, patron and slave trader Edward Colston being pulled down and thrown into Bristol harbour. It’s a striking image. And you wonder a few things, including: if history is eradicated from view, does it vanish from our minds? Does celebrating the life of a slave trader encourage or tacitly approve racism? And who chooses which status go where and when?

You might wonder what “change” the Mirror champions, giving that there’s never been a black editor on the Mirror not indeed on any major national newspaper. The board of Reach plc, which owns the Mirror, Express and Star titles, is less racially diverse than the membership at a provincial golf club:

Reach plc board
The board of Reach Plc, owner of the Daily Mirror

The all-white board isn’t proof that Reach doesn’t have a fine equalities policy and impeccable anti-racist credentials. But it does illustrate that when aspirational, intelligent black people look up they often see a bank of successful white faces looking down.

Posted: 8th, June 2020 | In: News, Tabloids | Comment


Madeleine McCann: B is for Brueckner or Brückner and René Hasee is blond and missing

René Hasee

Madeleine McCann returned to the front pages with a new suspect and a flurry of questions, none of which will be answered until we know what happened to her. But guessing is an armchair sport. So a German police worker assumes the missing child is dead. British police think she might not be. The tabloids mangle the most basic facts to fit a narrative. The BBC breaks ranks and renames her ‘Madeline’ over the media’s usual ‘Maddie’, and readers get to know of other missing children who convicted paedophile and rapist Christian Brueckner, aka Christian Brückner and Christin B might or might not have kidnapped and murdered.

On the matter of his name, there is a little confusion. German media only identify him as Christian B. German privacy laws make it illegal to name convicted criminals, let alone suspects. As for his spelling, well, while the tabloids do away with the umlaut (Sun, Mail, Mirror, Star), the broader-sheets (Guardian and Telegraph) use it. The BBC refers to him only as ‘Christian B’, which given that you can find his name all over the web and on the Mail’s hugely popular website, is peculiar. The BBC redacts the suspect’s full name on its website and puts a large black square over photos of his face. The Sun sometimes does and sometimes doesn’t.

Today’s front page news is that police are looking at Christian Brueckner in connection with the vanishing of René Hasee. The German chid went missing from the Algarve in 1996. He was six. Yesterday I mentioned Hasee and that his story was of interest, so too that fact that like Madeleine McCann, he too is blond. The Mail highlighted the importance of being blonde whilst missing in its story, “Two fair-haired little girls who vanished on a family trip… with the same man now under scrutiny.” Aref Ishmaili and other missing darker skinned children do not make the front pages.

So is the depraved criminal a serial child killer? The Guardian says “German prosecutors believe the 43-year-old convicted paedophile may have also been involved in the disappearance of Inga Gehricke”. Believe. May. Any facts? Any..? Yes, you, the Daily Mail:

Madeleine McCann’s suspected murderer Christian Brueckner was a twisted loner who was hated by the other children at school, a former classmate has revealed.

Er..

The former pupil said: ‘I’ve only ever had one fight in my life and that was with Christian Brueckner. He spent a year talking about me behind my back. He would not stop making nasty comments. One day I exploded and told him to go back to the orphanage where he had come from. We all knew he was adopted, so I shouldn’t have said that but I lost my temper with him. He jumped on me and we traded punches until a teacher pulled us apart. Everyone hated him in class and they all kept their distance. But it wasn’t just the children – it was the teachers as well.

Are we trying to build up a sympathetic backstory or nail the swine?

an “alleged breakthrough”

Any more facts? Yes, you, the Mirror. Today the paper calls the naming of suspect Christian Brueckner an “alleged breakthrough” in the Madeleine McCann investigation. That’s a bit of a climbdown because last week he was the “Maddie suspect” and we saw the “Face of Maddie ‘killer suspect'”.

Brace yourselves for more of this sort of thing. Sky says “almost 400 tip-offs about the disappearance of Madeleine McCann have been handed to British police since a new suspect was identified on Wednesday”. Will anything prove to be more than circumstantial? We all hope so. But no body and no evidence are not paths to justice. The only thing we know with absolute certainty is that in May 2007, Madeleine McCann vanished.

Posted: 7th, June 2020 | In: Madeleine McCann, News | Comment


Madeleine McCann: The Sun versus Christian Brueckner and what Tasmin Sillence really saw

maddie mccann suspect witness

The Sun has been talking about depraved criminal Christian Brueckner with a “Key Madeleine McCann witness”. But has the paper been sticking to the facts to get a story? The paper reports:

The woman reported the sighting within hours of three-year-old Madeleine’s disappearance on May 3, 2007, and has always been viewed as a credible witness. Her confirmation came amid claims of glaring blunders by Judicial Police feared to have let the beast cheat justice.

The Sun understands from another British witness that Portuguese detectives circulated a photograph of Christian B years ago but failed to act. The second woman saw the image in 2007, and also confirmed it was a man she had seen behaving bizarrely in the days after Madeleine went missing…

A Sun trawl of witness statements all pointed to a man matching the paedophile’s description.

“Claims.” “Understands.” The hunt for facts continues. Can the Sun cut through the fog and help us form a clearer picture?

The Sun mentions British-born Tasmin Sillence, 12 at the time of Madeleine McCann’s disappearance in 2007 and living in Portugal since she was two months old. Twice she saw the man in the area of the McCanns’ apartment. The Sun says she “told police she saw a white man in dark glasses with his gaze fixed on the complex. Moments later, she looked up and saw a girl around Madeleine’s age on a sun deck in the same block. Tasmin provided police with the photofit picture circulated at the time which bears a striking resemblance to Christian B, 43. It would appear Christian B’s name and background were known to police all along.”

But that’s not exactly what she told police.

christian maddie

The Sun says this is what Tasmin Sillence told police in her statement of 9th of May 2007:

“She saw the man, this time in front of the Ocean Club reception, once more looking at Madeleine’s house.”

And:

She added that his face was pockmarked, he looked “ugly” and was casually dressed and wearing large-framed sunglasses.”

The Sun has got things in a muddle. Facts matter. This is what she told them, her words helping to form the efit image you can see above. (He words have been translated from Portuguese by Google translate):

Concerning the individual, she describes him as being: Caucasian race, light skin, so he wasn’t Portuguese, but could be British, according to her criteria. Approximately 180 cm tall, thin complexion, 30/35 years of age. Short hair, like shaved with 1 cm of length and fair, but she isn’t sure if it was blonde because the sun was reflecting, and made perception more difficult. She didn’t see the eyes because he wore dark glasses of black colour, with a structure of mass, a thick frame. He had a large forehead. Nose of normal size, a bit pointy and sharp. Large ears, close against the head. Mouth with thin lips, she didn’t see his teeth. Chin pointing up, which stood out on a face that she describes as sharp. No beard, no moustache, a clean shave. No other special signs, apart from some small pimples on the face as a result of shaving. He looked ugly, even ‘disgusting’.

Christian Brueckne has pockmarked skin. The witness did not say the man she saw did. He had a bit of pimply shaving rash. And there’s more.

Let’s recall for a second times what the Sun says:

What the Sun says she saw

Tasmin Sillence, 12 at the time, told police she saw a white man in dark glasses with his gaze fixed on the complex. Moments later, she looked up and saw a girl around Madeleine’s age on a sun deck in the same block.

But the police report does not present the same picture. In it we learn:

She also mentions that she lived in the apartment where the missing child was staying, that belonged to her Grandmother, who is already deceased. That she didn’t actually reside there, but spent extensive and repeated periods of time there, with her Grandmother and her Mother. The apartment was bought in 1994 and sold in 2002 and therefore she knows it perfectly, both from the inside and from the outside.

She wishes to clarify. On the 30th of April, Monday, at around 8 a.m. and when she was walking to the bus stop for the school bus that leaves at 8.15, a path that she walks every day when there is school, she noticed the presence of a male individual, at the back of Madeleine’s house, on a little pathway to the apartments that exists there, looking in an ostensive manner at the house’s balcony. This happened when she was walking down the street, on the left side, which was right in front of the balcony, and the distance between them was the width of the road. That when she was walking down she decided to look at the pathway, because as she lived there, she likes to watch the house and the neighbouring garden. She walked with her mother, that she is certain she didn’t see the man, and she was walking two dogs on a leash, which forced them to cross the road, a bit further down. At that moment she saw the man more closely, as they crossed the road, and then lost visual angle when they finished crossing.

Says that the man didn’t see the deponent, because he was staring at the balcony.

She presumes that nobody was on Madeleine’s house’s balcony, but she cannot state it beyond doubt.

On May 2, she saw the same man for the second time. She did not see him again:

She started walking up the street on the left side going up, and saw the man, this time in front of the ‘Ocean Club’s’ reception, once more looking at Madeleine’s house in an ostensive manner, where he stood he could observe, she thinks, the house’s two side windows and part of the balcony. She thinks that he could also be looking at the other residences that are located in the same direction.

And then this:

When asked she says that she saw Madeleine once, on a day that she cannot indicate, on the balcony where the man was staring at, the first time. She even waved at her because it was a small child, in a caring gesture.

She did not see the man stare at the balcony and then “moments later” see Madeleine McCann on the same balcony. She used to look at the McCann’s rented holiday home a lot, as she says. She once lived there. She could recall the two dates and times she saw the man and how she did not see anyone on the balcony on either occasion. She did see once Madeleine McCann on the balcony the man had observed but not when he was there. She did not see him looking at Madeleine McCann.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 6th, June 2020 | In: Key Posts, Madeleine McCann, News | Comment


Madeleine MaCann: Christian Brueckner, blonde Inga Gehricke but not darker Aref Ismaili

Inga Gehricke

After moral panics, conspiracy theories, false accusations, arguidos and hundreds of journalists typing the words “every parent’s worst nightmare”, we are now invited to wonder if Christian Brueckner kidnapped and murdered Madeleine McCann. As pastimes go, debating an innocent child’s fate is one down from dogging. But you can play armchair detective from the comfort of your own home and shape the single-thread story – child vanishes – to fit with your own prejudices.

And so to Christian Brueckner. Did he also kidnap and murder a child in his native Germany, a girl called Inga Gehricke? We don’t know. And innocence, even when the suspect is a convicted paedophile and rapist should be presumed. Evidence and proof are the stuff of justice. But the ‘maybe’ keeps us reading. The tabloids lead with the story of what might or might not have happened.

Inga appeared on these pages in 2015. A child killer named Silvio S had been arrested in connection with her disappearance. But he had nothing to do with Inga’s vanishing from a family trip to the woods in Wilhelmshof. The Sun told readers Inga is known as “The German Madeleine”. As we’ve noted, many countries seem to have a version of the missing child. Madeleine McCann is the media’s benchmark for all the world’s missing children – but only the white ones:

Australia has an Our Maddie – Chloe Campbell Is Australia’s Madeleine McCann

Brazil has an Our Maddie – Madeleine McCann: Isabella Nadoni Is Brazil’s Our Maddie

Israel has an Our Maddie– Madeleine McCann: Israel’s Rose Is The International Our Maddie

France has an Our Maddie –Typhaine Taton Is France’s Madeleine McCann

America has an Our Maddie – America’s Madeleine McCann Turns Up Alive

Spain has an Our Maddie – Madeleine McCann: Mari Luz Cortes, Maddy 2 And Gerry McCann Writes

New Zealand has an Our Maddie – Madeleine McCann: Patronising Aisling Symes

South America has an Our MaddieA Madeleine McCann Found In Panama

Holland has an Our Maddie – Madeleine McCann: Milly Boele Is Holland’s Our Maddie

Australia has an Our Maddie – Kiesha Abrahams Is Australia’s Madeleine McCann

What else Inga Gehricke and Madeleine McCann have in common is made plain in the Daily Mail: they are both blonde:

It was Madeleine McCann’s blondness that helped turn her into the media’s ‘Our Maddie’, Would a black child have been news for 13 years, his or her face on the national newspapers’ front pages and leading the TV news bulletins? No need to answer. The answer is ‘no’. Black lives matter. Blonde lives sell papers.

Aref Ismaili has been missing since April 4, 2016. He had fled from Afghanistan to Germany under adverse circumstances with his parents. Aref Ismaili vanished in the small town of Wanfried in Hesse, Germany. He has dark hair and dark eyes. His face is not familiar to people the world over.

This is news as much as it is entertainment. Take this story also in the Mail: “Luxury villa where new Madeleine McCann suspect Christian Brueckner raped a 72-year-old US tourist is just a ten minute walk from apartment where the toddler vanished 18 months later.” The circumstantial nature of the link is clouded further by pictures of the luxury villa (price on application; there’s a swimming pool). Again the Mail notes Inga’s “blonde hair and blue eyes”.

In 2017, Jens-Uwe Gehricke recalled in German media how he’d seen his daughter Inga shortly before she disappeared on the footpath that leads from his friends’ house to the barbecue area on the edge of the forest. Inga was carrying two large bottles of water. She wanted to help prepare for a barbecue. Shortly afterwards, two other children watched her again as she made her way back home. That was around 6:30 p.m. Nobody knows what happened then. Said Jens-Uwe Gehricke: “It was only 100 meters to the house. But she never got there.” Read that and your skin crawls and your heat breaks.

But if we’re looking for links why not look at the vanishing of six-year-old René Hasee? Eleven year before Madeleine McCann disappeared, the boy from Elsdorf, Germany, was on a summer holiday with his family in Aljezur, not far from Praia da Luz when he disappeared. René Hasee is blond, so we may well hear of him in the British tabloids before any mention of Aref.

Posted: 6th, June 2020 | In: Key Posts, Madeleine McCann, News, Tabloids | Comment


Police looting Nike trainers in Chicago has nothing to do with race or the death of George Floyd

Was the alleged murder of George Floyd not enough to damn the police? Having witnessed the worst of policing, many want more. Take the story “Policeman Caught Looting Nike Shoes Amid Protests”. You’d think that with so many cameras around – CCTV, camera phones, police bodycams – no copper would be dumb enough to steal in broad daylight. But then, of course, we can point to the preventable death of George Floyd as evidence of police ignorance and entitlement. They have been seen behaving more like a gang than a force too often to discount any allegation of wrong doing without some consideration.

But for some the allegation is proof of fact.

looting police nike shoes george floyd

Bad news – or good news if you’ve an agenda to promote and a fixed narrative – travels fast:

looting police george floyd
35,000 shares

The truth? The copper with the Nik trainers is no looter. He was outside a police station in Chicago helping the owner of a burglarised store load recovered items into his car.

We should be watch what we report. But we should be able to say what we like:

Posted: 5th, June 2020 | In: News | Comment