News | Anorak - Part 7

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Aviva treats every customer just like ‘Michael’

Aviva typing pool

Cheap words at insurer Aviva, which undid the pretence that letters are tailored to each individual customer by addressing thousands of missives to just one: ‘Michael’.

The boss doesn’t sit on a big chair dictating a new letter for each customer. Someone in marketing simply cooks one up and a machine guffs them out. Aviva tells us: “We sent out some emails to existing customers, which, as a result of a temporary technical error in our mailing template, mistakenly referred to customers as ‘Michael’.”

We tell them it’s time to bring back the typing pool.

Posted: 28th, January 2020 | In: Money, News, The Consumer | Comment

Black activist cropped from Greta Thunberg Davos photoshoot

Vanessa Nakate,

If Greta Thunberg was black, would the world’s media prick up its ear when she spoke? It’s not what she says, but that the white, blonde from Sweden is saying it. Time to meet Vanessa Nakate, a 23-year-old climate activist from Uganda who like Greta has been at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

On Friday, Vanessa was at the Fridays for Future protest in the rarified Swiss town. Big media covered the event. And when the Associated Press portrait of the young activists hit the newswires, Vanessa was noticeable by her absence. The four white girls stayed in the picture, each looking a bit miserable and concerned. It might be modelling shoot for some mid-market brand. To the side, the smiling black girl, the young woman from lands the West presents as places to nurture, control and save, is gone.

Says Vanessa: “I cried because it was so sad not just that it was racist, I was sad because of the people from Africa. It showed how we are valued. It hurt me a lot. It is the worst thing I have ever seen in my life.”

She’s right, isn’t she. Climate change activism looks a lot like colonialism. We know best. We must save them. Their job is to provide the noble cause. And if they’re really lucky, maybe a TV celebrity will come and adopt them and fly them to a place where the knowing really understand what’s going on …

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

28 animals you can eat at China’s Wuhan Market

These are the 28 animals identified by the South China Morning Post for sale at the Huanan (Wuhan) market in China. Many animals do not feature. And the thinking is why not? If you can eat camel and donkey, why not llama or flamingo? And are Hoxton’s hipsters lagging, sticking to ostrich, emu and crocodile when those food-forward Chinese are dining on Asian badger, otter and scorpion? As the West weeps over footage of the burnt Australian wildlife, are Chinese sympathies fogged by the scent of roast koala?

bat soup
Best served accompanied by a young Robin with a Penguin chaser

Some science suggests the coronavirus spreading in China started in bats served at the aforementioned Wuhan market. Analysis shows the virus’s genetic makeup is 96% identical to that of a coronavirus found in bats. “I would be very surprised if this were a snake virus,” says Timothy Sheahan, a virologist at the University of North Carolina. Bats were also the ultimate source of SARS, scientists believe.

bat soup
Apple News

“evil! Chinese eat bat – movie exposure, ” says a headline to an Apple News story shared by the Daily Mail. The video features a woman eating bat soup. Why eating bat should be evil and, say, eating newborn lamb the stuff of daytime telly cooking shows and Easter treats is moot, moreover eating kangaroo testicles for slots of entertainment dished up between ads for insurance, holidays and mobile phones?

But war with the bats has begun. And you need to pick sides. (I’ll have a side of chicken wings and foie gras.)

Posted: 24th, January 2020 | In: Key Posts, News, The Consumer | Comment

Microblading gives woman felt tip-style eyebrows


To Kalamazoo, Michigan, where Shannon Bozell has paid $350 for an eyebrow ‘improvement’ process called microblading. She alleges Anne Hicks, salon owner and microblading artist, didn’t do such a great job. Hicks says she a professional and offered to do extra work on them.

“I went from having zero eyebrows to having these monster eyebrows, and it’s hard to swallow,” says Bozell. “They’re big caterpillar eyebrows that don’t fit my face.”

Which begs the questions: whose face would they fit? And can they be hired out?

Spotter: CBS Austin

Posted: 22nd, January 2020 | In: News, Strange But True, The Consumer | Comment

Brenda from Waddington solves global warming

Brenda from Waddington solves global warming

Brenda from Waddington, Lincolnshire is 89. She knows what caused global warming: space travel.

Spotter: @angrypiln

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

Marcus Wareing ‘loses’ £2m in home heist

How to serve up news that TV chef Marcus Wareing’s home was burgled? The Mail makes it about foreigners. “Gem raiders fly in from Chile to ransack TV chef’s £7m homes,” thunders the headline across pages 4 and 5. We see the “cruel burglary tourists who bring misery to British victims”. The Mail says men traveling from Chile to the UK to commit crime has “shown no let up”. No figures are given as to how many people this involves. But the Mail cites two cases. Might it be that Chilean gangs we read of are getting away with it – or not all the active?

As the chart above show, Chile isn’t in the top 10 of countries supplying felons to UK prisons. Albania is top. It has a population of under 3m. Chile’s population is around 18m.

As for other facts, well over in the Star, Wareing was robbed of goods to the value of £33,000 from his “£5m” home. Yeah – the home has gone down in value by a whopping £2m.

As for the capture, the Met reports:

On Tuesday, 15 October, officers from Surrey police on patrol in Linkfield Lane, Redhill discovered the vehicle and stopped it.

The occupants – Carvajal-Donaire, Portilla-Astorga, Donoso and Rojas – were all arrested on suspicion of burglary and going equipped to steal after officers found gloves, torches, a screwdriver and a glass-breaker.

All four were taken into custody and officers from the South West Command Unit informed.

As officers investigated, they discovered a number of photographs advertising jewellery for sale – these included items stolen during the burglary on 11 October.

A photograph of Carvajal-Donaire and Portilla-Astorga was located which showed them wearing stolen items, while officers would also discover that Rojas was wearing a distinctive necklace, stolen during the same burglary, at the time of his arrest.

All four will be deported once their sentence has been served.

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

Wolverhampton measuring stick challenges global warming stats

climate change wolverhampton

The UK Met Office says that 2019 was the second warmest in a record dating back to 1850. The Met says 2020 will be warmer still. The news came via a press release. NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) got their figures from scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.

You can read more about the data and how it was interpreted at the link above. As the Express and Star reports, one reader in Wolverhampton want to see the measuring sticks,

Spotter: APILN

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

Sex toy mishap at Bongo’s Bingo rips out woman’s eyelashes

eyelashes sex toy

Eyes down for news from Newcastle. The headline in the local Chronicle: “Woman’s eyelashes ripped out after sex toy hits her at Bongo’s Bingo in Newcastle.” Says Tegan Denham on twitter:

“You actually couldn’t write my life, tonight I went to Bongo’s Bingo and got hit in the face with a double ended dildo and it took a full lashes work of extensions off. What. The. Heck.”

One for the family album. Wye-eye!

Posted: 15th, January 2020 | In: News, Strange But True | Comment

Sheffield University hires students to work as thought police

“Getting a job whilst at University is a great way to gain work experience and develop your employability skills,” says the University of Sheffield. So hands up which 20 students want to earn £9.34 per hour policing your peers?

The University of Sheffield will pay students to face down “microaggressions”. Come again? Tsk! Ignorance is no excuse. The university tells us they are “subtle but offensive comments”.

To help you understand better how you unwittingly caused offence and are at heart a racist, the job description features these examples of phrases that mark you out as bad:

“Stop making everything a race issue”
“Why are you searching for things to be offended about?”
“Where are you really from?”
“I don’t want to hear about your holiday to South Africa. It’s nowhere near where I’m from”
“Being compared to black celebrities that I look nothing like”

Telling on or correcting people who use such phrase will be “opening up a conversation”. Presumably, the 20 race champions will have to eavesdrop on chatter, have remarkably good hearing and be blessed with the right kind of thoughts.

It’s pretty easy to see what could go wrong. A misheard word, the nark’s own prejudices, or a comment taken out of context could create problems. Better no-one speaks. And if you could all curtail your sex lives to watching porn alone, so much the better. Here’s to a brighter tomorrow!

Posted: 15th, January 2020 | In: News | Comment

God bless Victoria Agoglia : Charlene Downes is still missing

Victoria Agoglia

So now we know. The BBC puts it well: “Social workers investigating child sex exploitation in Manchester knew children were suffering ‘the most profound abuse… but did not protect them’.” Why not? And where is Charlene Downes, the teenager who vanished in Blackpool?

After a child’s death in 2003, police identified at least 97 “predominantly Asian” suspects, but “very few” faced justice, the independent review found. The police operation was “prematurely closed down” after senior officers decided to “remove resources”, it said.

We only know about this because the media got involved. Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham commissioned the report after the BBC broadcast The Betrayed Girls in 2017. The show shone a light on Victoria Agoglia. The teenager was placed in the case of Manchester City Council after her mother died. Victoria died after being injected with heroin by an”older Asian man”. Before she died, over the course of 18 months Victoria told adults in positions of trust that she was being abused, raped and plied with drugs by paedophiles. In 2004, a 50-year-old man was cleared of her manslaughter. He admitted two offences of injecting her with heroin and was jailed.

The Guardian reported on her death:

Manchester city council is investigating how Victoria Agoglia, known to her family and friends as Vicky Byrne, managed to run away from her care home and take the drug. She moved to a house on the outskirts of Rochdale in April with a team of residential care workers who were supervising her 24 hours a day. She absconded in the middle of last week, before she took the drug, and became ill on Saturday morning… Shortly after she was admitted to hospital, a man of 50 and a woman of 29 were arrested. They were released on police bail.

And what did the police do? Well, they looked busy. The GMP launched Operation Augusta. It would tackle “the sexual exploitation throughout a wide area of a significant number of children in the care system by predominantly Asian men”. It spotted at least 57 children “as potential victims” and up to 97 “persons of interest” involved in the crimes against them. They identified eight men who had gone on to commit rapes against children. And then they shut the thing down. The BBC notes, “one suspect vehicle uncovered in the initial investigation was linked to a GMP officer, who was later dismissed from the force.”

And what of the council? The Manchester Evening News wrote in 2007:

Simon Crabtree, representing Manchester City Council, said: “In the context of guidance there was nothing further the local authority could have done to prevent Vicky’s untimely demise … Vicky clearly was a child who by conventional standards behaved in a way in which many children and young people would not behave, and in a way which parents would not, or at least should not approve. However that does not make her an unworthy individual, quite the contrary, she had many redeeming qualities. She was not ‘bad’ but misguided in her youth”


Coroner Simon Nelson, giving a narrative verdict, said: “Vicky was a vulnerable young person who died of opiate intoxication following a lethal ingestion of heroin. The local authority should have properly anticipated Vicky Byrne’s propensity to abscond, abuse drugs and alcohol and mix with inappropriate people. However, no inference can be made that these events were foreseeable. Her death was not the result of a breach of the council’s protective duty.”

Police had received this note written by Victoria and “ignored” by police:

“I am only 13. I got the rest of my life ahead of me. I have slept with people older than me. Half of them I don’t even know there [sic] names.”

And get this from 2013:

Margaret Oliver, a former detective constable, quit the force in disgust over the way three separate inquiries into gangs of men having sex with underage girls were handled. In one instance, an aborted foetus from a 13-year-old abuse victim was kept in an evidence store after officers took it without the mother’s knowledge or consent. Officers established the identity of the father — a married Pakistani taxi driver in his thirties — through DNA evidence in February 2009 but did not charge him for almost two years. Oliver, who has been commended for her work during murder and gang crime inquiries and who worked on sex abuse investigations in 2004 and 2010, later broke the news to the 13-year-old and her mother that the foetus had been retained. She believes that hundreds of cases of alleged abuse were mishandled or ignored by Greater Manchester police (GMP).

This new report notes:

 “(Victoria’s) exposure to sexual exploitation by adult males was known to police and social services and, despite the risk of significant harm caused by the men who were sexually exploiting her, statutory child protection procedures, which should have been deployed to protect her, were not utilised and the strategies put in place to protect Victoria were wholly inadequate.”

Children are ignored. Poor children are seen as fair game and damned. We know some of what happened then. What’s happening now?

Posted: 14th, January 2020 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment

Paris Museums pushes 100,000 gorgeous images into the public domain

Paris Museums pushes 100,000 gorgeous images into the public domain

Paris Musées has made available 100,000 works of art. You an see them on their website. Fill your boots on the usual suspects – Rembrandt, Monet, Picasso, Cézanne – and thousands of lesser known artists.


Paris Musées is a public entity that oversees the 14 municipal museums of Paris, including the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Petit Palais, and the Catacombs.Users can download a file that contains a high definition (300 DPI) image, a document with details about the selected work, and a guide of best practices for using and citing the sources of the image.

“Making this data available guarantees that our digital files can be freely accessed and reused by anyone or everyone, without any technical, legal or financial restraints, whether for commercial use or not,” reads a press release shared by Paris Musées.

Spotter: Flashbak

Posted: 14th, January 2020 | In: News, The Consumer | Comment

US newspaper mistakes Iraq for Iran

herald-times iraq

The Herald-Times in Bloomington, Indiana, reported that Iraq had attacked US soldiers in the country. The apology was almost as swift as the attacks: “To our loyal and treasured print subscribers: We owe you this letter, and our deepest apologies for the error. A single character can make a huge difference.”

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

Naff Orf: papers react to Meghan and Harry meeting The Queen

The papers all lead with Harry and Meghan’s meeting with his grandma, the Queen. But what kind of picture will sum up the news that she says they can settle in Canada?

The Metro and Telegraph lead with an image of familial love. Although with Her Majesty’s “reluctance” to agree to the Sussex’s resignation to the fore, the Telegraph’s kiss has a Mafia feel.

harry meghan front -pages
harry meghan front -pages

The Sun shows a beaming Harry and Meghan waving us a cheerio – she turning her back on being an also-ran in the Princess Anne brood mare stakes; he eschewing the chance to be the next Prince Eddie or Andy. The Queen is stoic.

harry meghan front -pages

There are three people in this relationship – and only one of them is happy on the Express’s cover. Harry has the mien of a London estate agent wondering about his bonus; the Queen looks fierce; Meghan is chuffed to bits. The Guardian also shows only one of them smiling – Meghan.

The Mail can’t bare to look at the couple’s faces as they upset the matriarch. They can go. They are no longer relevant. And you can read about their irrelevancy over eight pages.

The Times opts for an image of Prince William’s chin and mouth. He is tight-lipped. “Defender,” says the legend on his car. Wills is the big winner here. Harry and Meghan can flog perfumes and a range of Canadian products: weed, syrup and wood. But it will be Wills who gets to see his head on coins and stamps in the coming years. He gets the real money.

harry meghan front -pages f

And the Star? It goes for three puns.

harry meghan front -pages f

Next up: will Meghan play herself in The Crown? And can a chocolate teapot ever really replace Harry?

Posted: 14th, January 2020 | In: Broadsheets, News, Royal Family, Tabloids | Comment

BBC shortchange women : Samira Ahmed wins £700,000 backpay

Hold your ire about what the Royals cost, and know that the BBC have been forced by law to hand one its presenters, Samira Ahmed, £700,000 in backpay in a discrimination equal pay case.

Ahmed (female; £440 per episode) claimed she was underpaid for hosting audience write-in show Newswatch when compared with Jeremy Vine (male; £3,000 per episode)) who earned shedloads more for hosting audience write-in show Points of View. The Beeb said he gets more because he’s more widely known and so gets picked to present a more widely-watched show.

The judgment ruled: “Her work on Newswatch was like Jeremy Vine’s work on Points of View under section 65(1) of the Equality Act 2010… [the BBC] has not shown that the difference in pay was because of a material factor which did not involve subjecting the claimant [Ahmed] to sex discrimination”.

The BBC goes on the record: “We’ll need to consider this judgment carefully. We know tribunals are never a pleasant experience for anyone involved. We want to work together with Samira to move on in a positive way.”

Or to put it another way: the BBC made her sweat, spunked a load of cash on lawyers and then lost. And you, the licence-fee payer, funded it. Now wait for Samira’s predecessor, a man, to ask for his backpay. And the rest of us can wonder why Vine was paid so much.

Posted: 10th, January 2020 | In: Money, News, TV & Radio | Comment

Prince Charles ‘incandescent with rag’ [sic] says Daily Mail as Harry and Meghan go full celebrity

By now you’ll be wondering what Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have been up to. Well, after a six-week holiday (Canada) and resignation from the Family to become full-time celebrities, they’ve been upsetting Prince Charles and Prince William. The Mail reports that both are “incandescent with rag”. Which rag is not said. But let’s hope it’s not that one!

prince harry meghan markel  daily mail

Kate Middleton is 38.

Posted: 9th, January 2020 | In: News, Royal Family, Tabloids | Comment

So Long Meghan and Prince Harry – can you take Andrew and the Yorkies with you?

beatrice eugenie

Royals are lining up to replace The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who have announced they will step back as “senior” royals and work to become financially independent. It’s the moment the Yorks have been waiting for, surely.

Princess Eugenie cost us a few million in security when she married last year in a televised event. But Eugenie never gelled with the public. Prince Andrew honourably tried to promote his girls and keep the York torch burning by appearing on the BBC in a one-on-one interview. It had worked for Diana when she sat down to chat with Martin Bashir. But whereas Diana came across as likeable, abused and isolated, he came across as an entailed prig who’d been mates with a prolific paedophile.

Diana perished in a car crash. Andrew created a car crash of his own and tried to creep away unscathed.

Maybe Meghan Markle’s abdication from guest editing Vogue as a Royal to guest editing Vogue as a celebrity, becoming the kind of Hollywood star Liz Hurley pretends to be as Harry demures and self-deprecates at her side, can provide the distraction Andrew needs to get away and push his kids and brand to the fore?

The Mail has 17 pages on Harry and Meghan’s decision to do what those in the know call “not the done thing”. People who know what done things are include: anyone who says “gels”; anyone who can recognise a horse from a pony; anyone who knows which spoon is proper to scoop out a serving wench’s foetus. The rest of us wonder why any one of these minted toffs are on the public payroll and if the Sussex’s pile we paid a couple of million quid to do up will now provide shelter for the homeless?

Meanwhile, what of Princess Beatrice, the other Yorkie, notable until now for having once worn a hat modelled on a vampire quid’s entrails, eating a pizza and, well, anyone got anything else? But worry not because Beatrice’s story is to swell. She is to marry a property developer. Neither the BBC nor ITV plan to broadcast the wedding live. But in this busy media landscape they’re not all, and any one of Netflix, Amazon or Dave could step in and fill the void between reruns of Cash in the Attic.

Farewell, then, Meghan and Harry. Your leaving is a new beginning for the Royal Family. And if you can take the rest of the hanger-ones and freeloaders with you, perhaps as part of a US trade deal with the post-Brexit UK, we’ll consider the chlorinated chicken a fair exchange for Princess Michael of Kent.

Posted: 9th, January 2020 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, News, Royal Family | Comment

Government wants to stop FA selling rights to betting companies

The Government is worried that people who look to the Football Association for moral direction are being let down by the organisation’s decision to sell FA Cup broadcast rights via a third party to Bet365. Nicky Morgan, for one was aghast. The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport tweeted: “I hope they will reconsider.”

You can watch lots of dogs and horses racing along tracks in the bookies, as well as darts, tennis and squash. But something about football always upsets the righteous.

To watch the game on Bet365’s app or website, fans must first place a bet or deposit money into an account. In short, you pay. But unlike watching football, say, on the BBC, you pay and have a chance to win your money back or turn a profit. If that sounds a bit like an advert for gambling, it isn’t meant to be. And it’s way too subtle. Gambling adverts are loud. They challenge men to measure their worth by circling the plughole in a pissing contest with Ray Winstone, women to have ‘a bit of fun’ with a furry, and children tuning in to pre-watershed telly to know that betting is normal and synonymous with “good causes”.

Sports minister Nigel Adams tells us: “The gambling landscape has changed since this deal was signed in early 2017. All sports bodies need to be mindful of the impact that problem gambling can have on the most vulnerable.”

Does he mean that the “most vulnerable” who won’t watch the footy on the BBC – having paid a license fee on pain of law – but on the web? This is hard cheese on rough sleepers, the homeless and anyone in locked inside secure mental healthy facilities miles from home. The Government is not worried about those kind of vulnerables. It is worried about, well, who? And how serious is the Government about curtailing gambling?

According to one auditor, the UK betting industry is worth £6bn a year and employs 100,000 people. “The figures, equivalent to 0.5% of UK gross domestic product (GDP) and 0.3% of total UK employment respectively, are published in a study entitled The Full Picture commissioned by Ladbrokes to illustrate the industry’s value to the UK economy.”

A sizeable chunk of the cash goes to Bet365 founder Denise Coates, who paid herself £323m last year. All taxed. All honest. All above board. Which is more than you can say for a Government, which does business with all manner of interesting companies and unenlightened regimes but demands football and footballers teach the vulnerable the right path.

It’s almost as if they want us to talk about the easy stuff and avoid the bigger questions which should demand more attention.

Posted: 8th, January 2020 | In: News | Comment

Meet Bowie the Cat

Bowie the cat was rescued in Spain. Bowie now lives with Maria Lloret in Alicante. You can follow his life on Instagram.

Bowie cat

Spotter: Healthy Food House

Posted: 8th, January 2020 | In: News | Comment

Reporters on pilgrimage to meet Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg

Pilgrims to the Greek Cycladic island of Tinos in the Aegean Sea venerate the Virgin Mary’s ascent to heaven at the Feast of the Assumption, by crawling on hands and knees to an icon of the Virgin stood in a church atop a hill. “Some slither the half-mile on their bellies, poling themselves forward with their elbows in the manner of besieged soldiers creeping through underbrush, ” writes Rosemary Mahoney. “Some lie across the street and, like horizontal dervishes, roll themselves slowly up the gradual incline across stones baked torrid by the August sun. As they proceed they pray for miracles and for mercy… Once before the icon they prostrate themselves in a rapture of spiritual desire.”

Back in the UK, the Guardian tells its readers: “BBC put presenter on a plane to interview Greta Thunberg – Sarah Sands, editor of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, admits it ‘felt awkward’.” So how should you journey to meet the globe-totting teenage climate evangelist who avoids even the occasional use of aviation fuel?

Thunberg was a guest editor on the Radio 4’s Today programme. The BBC dispatched presenter Mishal Husain on a return flight to Sweden to interview her. Programme editor Sarah Sands tells the Sunday Times: “We did discuss that among ourselves. It felt awkward but we did not have the time for trains or boats.”

Sands then delivers the kind of line the Pope would consider a bit pious: “Greta is not actually judgmental towards individuals, accepting that other people will not all conform to her high standards and asking only for people to do what they can.”

We don’t know if Thunberg or her people enquired how the BBC would be getting from the UK to Sweden, and if the mode of transport met with their approval. And we also don’t know if BBC reporters will be required to adopt the tastes, beliefs and prejudices of their subjects or explain further in the press if they were not met – but maybe in the purist of truth and objectivity, they should.

Posted: 29th, December 2019 | In: News | Comment

All Good Things : buy Stephen Ellcock prints

Stephen Ellcock prints All Good Things Flashbak

The new shop at Flashbak features prints curated by Stephen Ellcock. Curated is an overused word – up there on the list of hackneyed tosh with ‘holistic’, a word used to describe anything from a therapy suite’s range of revolving-door services to finger painting at primary school, and ‘edited’, which is a bit like curated but can be used to describe the starters in restaurant menus. But curating is what Stephen does. His new book, All Good Things, is a delight. And many of the prints in that lovely bestseller are available to buy in the Flashbak Shop.

The prints are on gorgeous, archival paper. And worldwide shipping is free. Buy your gorgeous prints here.

Posted: 23rd, December 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, The Consumer | Comment

White academic says ‘geek’ should be a hate crime on par with racism

When you hear that an academic has said calling someone a “brainbox” or “geek” should be classed as a hate crime, do you think they’re anything but white? Dr Sonja Falck, of the University of East London, says: “Insulting slurs about age, disability, religion and gender identity remained in widespread use until relatively recently. Society at the time turned a blind eye to their impact by passing them off as harmless banter. It is only with the benefit of hindsight that we realise how wrong we were. The same can be said about anti-IQ words like nerd, brainbox, geek, egg-head, smart-arse and dweeb.”

Got that? Anti-semitic slurs – race hatred against the Jews; a grim story backed by hundreds of years of persecution (the Inquisition; pogroms; the Holocaust) – were “until recently” “harmless banter” on a par with calling someone “brainy”. Calling a black woman a n***** – a word constructed on enduring racist policies that sought to cast blacks as sub-humans, offering a State-endorsed acceptable excuse when they were raped, tortured and murdered by their colonisers and owners; the systematic horror of slavery that lasted for centuries; institutional racism in the police force – is on a par with calling the bloke who did well at maths a “geek”. Verbally abusing a disabled person – the ugly, murderous mistreatment of the disabled is a scar on humanity – is no worse than calling you a “dweeb”, or the “D-word”, as we should call it.

Dr Falck is billed as a “Harley Street psychotherapist”. Her new book is called Extreme Intelligence. It is “a study of discrimination against those with very high IQs”.

Do we now talk about what IQ tests are, if they’re worth a dime and how they impact on thoughts around eugenics and race?

The only way a comment on intelligence can ever be prejudicial is when people look at the demise of Jeremy Corbyn’s racist Labour Party and tell you those “clever Jews” were behind it. Anything else is idiotic.

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

Nativity play angel gives everyone the finger for 20 minutes

“It was so funny because she didn’t realise what she was doing,” says the mother of the nativity play angel who for 20 minutes gave the crowd of parents, guardians , teachers and classmates the finger. Carla adds that Ella was trying to show mum her hangnail.

“It was pretty much for the majority of it she was there with her middle finger up,” says Carla. “Because I didn’t run over there she kept holding it up as if she was saying, ‘mum, look!’.

Mum did not respond to Ella’s finger by raising her own, either in solidarity or response. She did take a few photos. It being what Jesus would have wanted…

Posted: 18th, December 2019 | In: News, Strange But True | Comment

Arsenal smack down Ozil on China; Kroenke holidays in Rwanda

Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil says China’s treatment of Uighur Muslims is abhorrent. It is. He says the Uighurs are “warriors who resist persecution”. He then added on the Chinese microblog Weibo, where he has over 4m followers: “[In China] Qurans are burned, mosques were closed down, Islamic theological schools, madrasas were banned, religious scholars were killed one by one. Despite all this, Muslims stay quiet.”

So upset was China that the state broadcaster CCTV banned the broadcast of Arsenal’s Premier League game against Manchester City. (To anyone watching in China, Arsenal won 4-1 and were magnificent.)

“China’s Communist Party propaganda outlets can censor Mesut Özil and Arsenal’s game all season long, but the truth will prevail,” says US secretary of state Mike Pompeo. “The CCP can’t hide its gross human rights violations perpetrated against Uighurs and other religious faiths from the world.”

The United Nations says as many as 2m Uighur Muslims have been locked up in Xinjiang. Beijing calls it an antiterrorism campaign. Detaining that many people sounds like something far more sinister.

China’s Foreign Ministry says Özil “had been completely deceived by fake news and false statements”. Fans in China have been burning Arsenal shirts.

Arsenal backed their man to the hilt. Er, no. They caved, commenting on Chinese social media: “The content he expressed is entirely Özil’s personal opinion.” The club that’s now the London office of Kroenke inc, then guffed: “Arsenal has always adhered to the principle of not involving itself in politics.” Good-oh. Josh Kroenke can read up on how to look the other way when he’s taking his holidays in Rwanda.

Here’s what Human Rights Watch has to say about the country Arsenal advertise on their shirts:

Tight restrictions on freedom of speech and political space remain in place, contrasting with solid results on economic development. Amendments to the constitution allowing President Paul Kagame to stand for a third term were approved in a referendum in December 2015. Kagame announced he would run for a third term. The government continues to limit the ability of opposition parties and civil society groups to function freely and independently in advance of the August 2017 presidential elections. Pro-government views dominate domestic media. Journalists who dare to question the official narrative are harassed or arrested. The authorities detained people unlawfully in unofficial detention centers; some were held incommunicado and tortured.

If you’re not going to back Ozil and say that importing British football means importing British values, then best to say nothing. Arsenal stuffed up – again.

Posted: 17th, December 2019 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment

Labour is dead: the horror of anti-racists backing Corbyn and throwing Jews under the bus

Corbyn anti-semitism

Did you turn the other cheek to racism and vote for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party? Or did you look at the party’s abhorrent treatment of Jews and rather than self-declare yourself an enemy of racism with a hashtag, T-shirt or ermine gown decide to act and not vote for a party being investigated for institutional racism? In living memory of the Holocaust, did you turn your back on British Jews when they needed you? Or did you spend years telling others to vote Labour? Are you an avowed anti-racist who voted Labour?

This isn’t to say everyone who voted for Corbyn’s Labour is an anti-semite. Millions of voters considered other things to be more important. Others could see no evidence of anti-Jewish racism at all. But what about people who are woke into racism, who call it out when they see it but backed Labour?

Corbyn had his fans:

The Guardian backed Corbyn and Labour. But now they want to explain:

Guardian labour corbyn
The Guardian says vote Labour
Guardian labour corbyn
The Guardian says Labour is crap

On December 10th, the Guardian told us to vote for Corbyn in a lengthy editorial. The paper had this to say about Labour and British Jews. Look out for the bit about having zero tolerance on racism and that ‘but…’

Mr Corbyn’s own unpopularity could also scupper Labour in this election. His obdurate handling of the antisemitism crisis has disrupted the message of hope. Anything less than zero tolerance against racism tarnishes Labour’s credentials as an anti-racist organisation. The pain and hurt within the Jewish community, and the damage to Labour, are undeniable and shaming. Yet Labour remains indispensable to progressive politics.

Maybe racism can be used to stop Brexit and the Tories?

After an incident at the Manchester Derby, TV pundit Gary Neveille opined:

“You are watching the prime minister’s debate where he is talking about migration to this country and people having to have certain levels. It fuels it all the time. It has got worse over the last few years in this country and not just in football… [A fan] thinks he can come to a game and racially abuse someone playing football. It is disgusting. It is terrible and something has to be done. It is not just about banning him from football. Everyone has a responsibility… We always judge other countries on how they deal with racism but we are poor with dealing with it ourselves.”

Gary Neville is no friend to bigots. Good. He made his point. He’s certainly not an anti-semite. So why this, then?

A vote for Labour gave succour to anti-semites. Had Corbyn won, people now saying he was a horror show would have cheered. And Jews would have felt even more isolated and fearful. But no matter about them, right, so long as the trains run on time, who cares..?

Posted: 15th, December 2019 | In: News | Comment

Voltaire’s Mirror: Ruth Smeeth slaughters Jeremy Corbyn


“The mirror is a worthless invention. The only way to truly see yourself is in the reflection of someone else’s eyes” – Voltaire.

Image: The Arrival of the Jarrow Marchers in London, Viewed from an Interior – Thomas Cantrell Dugdale, 1936

Posted: 14th, December 2019 | In: News, Politicians | Comment