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Thursday, 28 April 2016

Sun Hacking Claims Are Go

The defence of the Murdoch empire against claims that phone hacking might not have been confined solely to the late and not at all lamented Screws. The Super Soaraway Currant Bun had no part in the bad behaviour. So one title was closed down, the other survived, and by the most fortunate coincidence became a seven day operation, thus compensating perfectly for the lost coverage.
Sadly, though, there has been no happy ending, as evidence has emerged that It Was The Sun Wot Also Did It. Back in January, Zelo Street observed that claims had been made that the Sun was involved in hacking phones. There were “five new defence witnesses … a number of these were former NGN journalists”. Former Murdoch journalists prepared to blow the whistle on their then employer. So who was targeted?

the 16 claimants … include former EastEnders and Coronation Street actors … Simon Clegg, the former chief executive of the British Olympic Association … says around half of the articles he alleges were obtained through phone hacking were published in the Sun … Other celebrities … include the former FamilyFortunes presenter Les Dennis, Hear’Say singer and Coronation Street actor Kym Marsh and Doctors actor Sarah Manners”.

Earlier this month, we discovered who was blowing the whistle: information in support of the claims “has been provided by the convicted phone hacker and former News of the World news editor Greg Miskiw in support of an application to include the Sun in a tranche of phone-hacking claims against News Group Newspapers, the owner of the Sun and the now-defunct News of the World”. And today the case returned to court.

There, as Nick Mutch at Byline Media has told, the presence of Paul “Privacy is for paedos” McMullan “stated Brooks set a ‘tone of criminality’ and that ‘the only way… to keep our jobs was to go along with it’ … He claimed it was standard practice at The Sun for journalists to be tasked finding a legitimate way to stand up a story based on information gathered by phone hacking or surveillance”.

Coming in the same week as the verdicts on the 96 Liverpool fans who lost their lives in the Hillsborough disaster, and the widespread revulsion at Police corruption, together with appallingly inaccurate reporting, the public mood is moving very firmly behind the resumption of the Leveson Inquiry into its second phase, considering the relationship between Police and the press. The new hacking case underscores this.

Victims of press intrusion want to see Leveson 2. The Hillsborough families want to see Leveson 2. And an increasing number of politicians across the political spectrum want to see Leveson 2. The press establishment is implacably opposed to the move, but then the question has to be asked: in whose name are we governed, that of the people, or the few very rich and very powerful offshore interests who run much of the press?

The Sun had a bad day on Tuesday. Today may have been the beginning of the end.

Guido Fawked - Anti-Semitism Hypocrisy

Once again, the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog are playing the “anti-Semitism” card against the Labour Party, and especially Bradford West MP Naz Shah, who has now been suspended from the party after it was discovered that she had made highly questionable comments on social media before becoming an MP. She has apologised, but now the Fawkes mob is in full cry.
The Fawkes rabble, at their 2014 pre-Christmas lunch, embrace Simon Carr (in jacket and tie). Staines and Master Cole later decamped to the IoD, from where they were ejected for drunkenness.

And I have to tell The Great Guido that he is the last one to get all righteous about anti-Semitism, or the suggestion that anyone caught indulging in anti_semitic rhetoric should be immediately sacked. This is because the Fawkes blog has seen its fair share of anti-Semitic tropes recently. While we’re at it, the Fawkes rabble should also desist from talking about Nazi sympathisers, because their boss … er, we’ll get to that one later.
The Fawkes team took on a sketch writer not so long ago, the first appointee being former Independent pundit Simon Carr. Carr had already distinguished himself by referring to Ed Miliband as “swarthy”, so Staines and his pals had no excuse for what followed. In July 2014 - the post is still live at the Fawkes blog - in a post titledThe Best Reshuffle In Modern Times” (so good that Cameron had demoted Michael “Oiky” Gove, to the horror of the Tory right) came an episode that could have come from Der Stürmer.
Every week Cameron looks easier, calmer, more in control of his party, his policy and his election plan – and every week his opponent dances at the despatch box like a spastic marionette … Ed kept asking, his convulsive string master taking another swig of the meths”. Marionette. Puppet master. Deliberate use of anti-Semitic tropes.
So did Carr get the sack for that one? You jest. He was still in post the following January, when over the smear line he went once more. In a post imaginatively calledAnother Strategic Failure For The Brainiac Leading Labour”, readers were told “Miliband is no Messiah. Pious, yes. Other-worldly, yes. Crucifixion-material, yes”. Talk of a “Messiah”. Someone who is “Other worldly”, who is “Crucifixion material”. More blatant use of anti-Semitic tropes. This item, too, is still live. So was Carr sacked for a second offence?

Was he heck. Moreover, given that the items are still there unamended, it has to be concluded that the Fawkes rabble are happy about their content. And it gets worse: after former Tory MP Aidan Burley decided not to contest his Cannock Chase constituency at the 2015 General Election, Staines went for a consolation drink with him.
Burley’s fall from grace was prompted by his willing appearance at a Nazi-themed stag party in the French ski resort of Val Thorens. The Fawkes rabble had no apparent problem with that, not that there was one rule for their pals and another for Labour supporters, you understand. But it does show the depth of hypocrisy among The Great Guido and his pals.

So anti-Semitism is bad when the Fawkes folks say so, but OK when it’s them. Likewise the odd bit of Nazi sympathy. What a shower. Another fine mess, once again.

Danczuk - Another IPSA Telling Off

While Rochdale’s nominally Labour MP Simon Danczuk faces an anxious wait for the investigation into his conduct to reach its conclusion - the verdict is expected imminently - news has arrived on Zelo Street that he has fallen foul of Parliamentary watchdog IPSA once more. This time, it is not about his expenses, although a vehicle for generating More And Bigger Paycheques For Himself Personally Now is involved.
Danczuk is a director, and sole shareholder, of Danczuk Media Limited, which exists mainly to facilitate payments for all those newspaper articles which bear his name (even though many of them have been written by his sidekick Matt Baker), along with the appearances he is paid for, and the cut from all those exclusive photos, such as the ones taken outside Rossendale Police station recently.

What Danczuk Media Limited is not is anything to do with his constituency business. However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, the address for service of documents for this company was changed last November to 26 St Mary’s Gate in Rochdale. This address can be revealed because it is that of his constituency office. This news was not universally popular with all those long suffering voters.
So it was no surprise that one of them decided to make their displeasure clear to IPSA’s compliance officer. The correspondence has been seen here on Zelo Street and it can be revealed that the initial complaint was made no more than a fortnight ago. It might have been thought that the wheels would still be grinding slowly right now, but that thought would have been misplaced: action was swift and decisive.

This time, the Companies House form CH01 - Change of Particulars for Director - went through swiftly enough to have been dated only last Monday. IPSA, I am told, was assured that the constituency office was only being used as the address for service of documents, and not the registered address. But the compliance officer was still not happy and the MP was directed to have it changed forthwith.
So it came to pass that Danczuk Media Limited had its address for service of documents changed to one which has had to be redacted. Whether the Labour Party nationally has been made aware of this episode is not known. And the awful coincidences just keep stacking up for Simon Danczuk, as yesterday’s Rochdale Observer front page shows.
There he is, facing an inquiry by his own party that was triggered by his “sexting” of a 17 year old girl, and the paper’s lead story was “School puts parents on ‘Sext’ alert”. Yes, a secondary school in Danczuk’s constituency has been warning about its pupils getting involved in “sexting” incidents. It was just a coincidence, but when he’s in his current mess, it was the last thing that Rochdale’s MP needed.

And on top of that, Labour’s canvassers are finding their MP’s name coming up on the doorstep rather a lot, and always in a negative way. Not a good look.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Heat Street Comment Cowardice

[Update at end of post]

Supposedly “libertarian” and certainly right-wing, Murdoch-backed site Heat Street, fronted by (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch, promised much before its launch. Comment here, Ms Mensch told her Twitter followers, would be truly free, not like the kind favoured by those rotten lefties at the Guardian. There would be No Safe Spaces. There would, moreover, be No Holds Barred. If only that were the reality.
(c) Doc Hackenbush 2014

Let’s look first at the PR spin and Ms Mensch’s own promise. Appearing on Fox Business Network with Trish Regan, she dutifully toldYou can’t beat Fox News” before using her updated faux-Stateside accent to describe all those subject areas that would be covered. Political correctness would be challenged. The Huffington Post was decried as “very Left-wing”. Heat Street would be “neither right nor left”, and a little libertarian.
On the Republican nomination, she announced “nobody’s going to get to 1237”, which might need a little adjustment after yesterday’s primaries. And her claims for Heat Street might need similar adjustment. These include “Online abuse: how women are fighting back @Guardian ... by founding websites where comment is free and SJWs can't censor”. "SJW" is a right-wing abuse term, meaning “Social Justice Warrior”.
You see a lot about SJWs on Heat Street. These are The Enemy Of All Good Freedom Loving People (allegedly). But the meaning is clear - you’ll be free to comment. And there will be nowhere to hide, as witness “We say 'No Safe Spaces' - we mean it. Exclusive i/v with @Nero :Milo Yiannopoulos Hits College Campuses”. Yiannopoulos is, in reality, a failed businessman and amateur human being, but interested in self-promotion.
And in case you missed that one, there’s “Proving @HeatStreet has NO safe spaces - Politics lead: @VoxDay on his support for @realDonaldTrump #TrumpTrain”. No safe spaces, right? And no censorship, either: “Feel free. No Safe Spaces. I wouldn't censor you like @Guardian Comment is Flee”. Yes, there are even jokes! It was a joke, wasn’t it? But feedback would be welcomed. Moreover, it would be encouraged.
Hence Ms Mensch Tweeting “Do you think Obama is Anti-British? Yes. What do you think? http://heatst.com/politics/8-ways-obama-damaged-the-us-uk-special-relationship/ … via @heatstreet”. What do I think? OK, I’m up for a little feedback. Let’s have a look at that article, a routine slice of right-wing carping at Barack Obama. There’s a poll. That’s a good start. But how do I submit a comment? Er, that’s not possible.
What, no comments allowed? On a “libertarianwebsite? What happened to “websites where comment is free and SJWs can’t censor"? And “I wouldn’t censor you like [the] Guardian”? Why ask “what do you think” when you clearly don’t care enough to provide for that feedback? This is the height of shameless hypocrisy - a bastion of free speech that does not allow, er, free speech. Heat Street, as Margaret Thatcher once said, is frit.

And it’s funded by a billionaire who hates democracy so much that he regularly subverts it. I’ll just leave that one there.

[UPDATE 1800 hours: Louise Mensch has just admitted that Heat Street does not allow comments.
Good of her to admit that the site she fronts, and which she has described as "libertarian", does not allow comments. But it might do so in the future, so that's all right then]

Telegraph’s Junior Doctor Isn’t

After the Telegraph found a junior doctor who was prepared to endorse the new NHS England contract being imposed on his colleagues by Jeremy Hunt (the former Culture Secretary), the established part of the Fourth Estate wasted no time in singing the praises of Adam Dalby. The Sun lifted his article. Dalby even got a mention in the Guardian. But nobody stopped to look at his background first.
What, not even one supportive junior doctor?

What was his specialism? Where might one find him tending to the walking wounded in A&E? Was he a budding consultant or GP? Did he have experience of theatre surgery? One concerned Zelo Street reader drew a blank on all of those questions, and further investigation showed that Adam Dalby’s CV is rather short on the one thing one might expect a junior doctor to have - medical experience.

What is worse is that he isn’t practicing or training right now. You read that right: while the Tel says Dalby is “a junior doctor working in Antrim”, his own blog admits that he is on sick leave (another site claims that he istaking a year out to pursue other interests”. He tells that, apart from politics, “When I return to work I will also blog about my experiences of working within the National Health Service – a great institution in need of great reform”.

That CV talks of his “clinical diagnostic skills and background in leadership excellence “, but close examination reveals that there is no general medical experience. Sure, there are his degrees, experience in social media, working with a veterinary practice, a “leadership forum”, founding a number of other groups, and business consultancy. But there is no record of medical experience. So what kind of junior doctor is he?

His blog, once again, provides an answer: “I’m an FY1 doctor, with a huge interest in politics and healthcare policy”. What is “FY1”? Ah well. “FY” stands for Foundation Year: Adam Dalby is in his first year after graduating, but has not yet acquired sufficient experience to be let loose on his own. He’s the kind of doctor you might find “sitting in” with registrars or consultants when you visit the local hospital’s outpatients’ department.

Worse, he appears not to have set out on that road just yet. The Telegraph and Sun have effectively admitted that when they tell “He is shortly to move to Yorkshire, where he will work under the Government’s new contract”. Will work. But not “does work” or “has worked”. But he is an “associate consultant” to “a boutique consulting firm based in Northern Ireland” specialising in “leadership, personal productivity, team productivity, customer service excellence, communication & engagement”.

Moreover, “Adam was the Lead of the Communications/Think Tank Workstream at the Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management’s (FMLM) Medical Student Group (MSG) and has previously been the Transitional Lead of the Recruitment and Engagement Workstream”. But he appears to have zero experience as an actual junior doctor.

Did the Telegraph not figure this out beforehand? Or were they so eager to find a doctor who supported Hunt, and was prepared to put his name to an article, that they didn’t bother? I’m sure there’s a perfectly good explanation.

Murdoch’s Hillsborough Shame

After the verdicts were given in the new inquests into the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans in a crowd crush at Hillsborough stadium 27 years ago, every daily newspaper had more than enough time - the news came before noon yesterday - to read, digest and present the story in their first editions. Most of the nationals did just that. There has been some sincere and well-crafted journalism - with one glaring exception.
Pride of place had to go to the Liverpool Echo, the one paper that believed in the innocence of the 96 from the very beginning. The headline, with the backdrop of St George’s Hall in central Liverpool, told “Heroes fought for justice, and at last a city is vindicated. Now, the pressure mounts on the cowards and the liars … ANGELS & DEMONS”. The Echo’s front page from April 19, 1989 is also included, to show its prescience. Its message would remain unheeded for many years.
We challenge the London papers and Sheffield Police … PRODUCE YOUR EVIDENCE” read the headline, going on to tell prophetically “A POISONOUS smokescreen is being put up around the Hillsborough disaster”. Today, most of those “London papers” came clean, and prominently, on their front pages. But not all of them.
The Guardian told simply “After 27 years, justice”, with David Conn’s excellent analysis adding “As years of Police lies and blame unravelled, it was the honesty and humanity of the families that shone through”. The Mirror went with “FINALLY … JUSTICE FOR THE 96 … Families of Hillsborough’s victims have had 27 years of sleepless nights. Now it’s time for those guilty of criminal negligence and a cover-up to have theirs”.
Below the Mirror headline is the chilling sight of the Leppings Lane stand tunnel entrance, which led to the central pens in which the fatal crush happened. Titles including the i, New Day, Daily Star and Metro gave their front pages over to the news. The Telegraph put it on the front page. The Express and Mail gave prominent front-page signposting to articles on inside pages. Even the FT had a front page item on the verdicts.
But for the newspaper group whose best-selling title willingly became part of the smear and cover-up for so many years, there was not even a mention on its front pages. The Murdoch Times - although a small item at the top of the page appeared in its second edition - decided that handbags, the weather, and Philip Green’s knighthood were more important. And the Sun - well, the Sun went even lower.
Their most important story, another invention from the paper’s alleged “Westminster Correspondent” Master Harry Cole, was that the Prime Minister and some others have been using WhatsApp. The Murdoch shilling takers’ craven cowardice was not a coincidence. Faced with the choice of showing dignity in coming clean, or chickening out, they chose to run off, so no-one could see the yellow streaks on their backs.

Damn you Rupert Murdoch. Damn you, and damn all the creeping vermin who sail with you. The families of the 96 can stand tall, while you can only crawl.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Taxi For Kelvin MacKenzie

The verdicts from the new inquests into the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans as a result of a crush at Hillsborough stadium in April 1989 have dominated the headlines from the moment the verdict that all 96 were unlawfully killed was read out in court. Broadcasters and newspaper websites are leading on the news. Even the Murdoch Sun covered it.
The verdicts were reported; those who had been at the conclusion of the inquests were quoted. The article carried many photos from today, and the day of the disaster. But absent from the coverage was the role of the Sun itself, and especially the driving force behind that behaviour, its editor at the time Kelvin MacKenzie. It was he, and he alone, who took the fateful decisions which pinned the blame on Liverpool FC’s travelling support.

As I posted last year, the Sun had already disrespected the dead fans at the start of the week following the disaster, showing some of those crushed against the fence at the front of the central Leppings Lane end pen. Other papers decided the photographs were too graphic and refused to run them. Not Kel. His motivation was to sell more copies and stuff the niceties. Then came the planted smear story.

South Yorkshire Police, with the assistance of local Tory MP Irvine Patnick, had concocted a narrative which blamed the Liverpool fans, in the process attributing actions to them which, if true, would repulse all those upstanding and decent readers who were still prepared to trust what the Murdoch press printed. Everyone in the Sun newsroom apart from MacKenzie knew the story was a deliberate smear. But nobody would stand up to him, such was his bullying and authoritarian manner.

The revulsion across Merseyside was immediate, and sales of the Sun there have not recovered to this day. They are unlikely to ever recover. Other papers which had used the smear story realised their mistake, withdrew the claims, and apologised. The Sun had that chance. It declined and doubled down. It took twenty-three years for the apology to come. Even then MacKenzie claimed he was right, or that it was someone else’s fault.

In any case, the lack of sincerity in that apology was demonstrated when MacKenzie was gifted a twice-weekly column back at the Sun, a berth he still occupies. Now that today’s verdict of Unlawful Killing has been given, it is time for the Sun to show that it really is sorry about its actions in the week after the Hillsborough disaster, and all the years the paper spent ignoring their mistake, it must show Kelvin McFilth the door.

He has shown no contrition whatever since his return to the Murdoch fold. Indeed, hardly a column passes without sneering, demeaning and degrading references to Liverpool and those who hail from the city. After all, the Sun’s former stablemate, the late and not at all lamented Screws, was closed for less. The time has come for Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks to not just say sorry, but show they mean it.

News UK must sack Kelvin MacKenzie. You can help by signing the petition HERE.

Justice For The 96 - AT LAST

Question Six. After so much time, so many setbacks, so many false starts, and so much dogged determination on the part of the families, their friends and neighbours, and the wider Merseyside community, it came down to the answer to one question, one answer that brought the decades-long campaign for justice to its conclusion.
Hillsborough memorial at Anfield

So often, it is not just the tragedy, the loss, the shock, the unimaginable grief that is the worst part, but the deflection, the dishonesty, the closing of ranks that hurts the most. What happened 27 years ago at the Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield was terrible enough: worse was to come with the cover-up that followed. 27 long years have passed as the families of the 96 victims of that fatal crush have sought justice.

Their journey has led to today’s verdicts in the new inquest into those deaths. For the relatives and friends, there may now be a sense of closure, of justice. But for those who shamefully covered up the terrible reality of what happened on the fateful Saturday afternoon, there will be a combination of fear and apprehension. Police, politicians, and worst of all the press, have been bracing themselves for the inquest’s conclusion.

Ultimately, it was all distilled down into a 14-part questionnaire, on which the inquest jury had reached unanimous agreement - except for one question. That was the question of whether the 96 victims were unlawfully killed. As the BBC has set it out, “To answer yes, jurors must be ‘sure’ that match commander Ch Supt David Duckenfield was ‘responsible for the manslaughter by gross negligence’ of those who were fatally injured”.

Yesterday, the coroner, John Goldring, on hearing that the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict on that last question, told jurors he would accept a majority decision, and was then informed that at least seven of the nine had reached agreement. The verdicts would be delivered today, in order to allow relatives and friends of the victims to travel to Warrington and hear those verdicts in person.

So it was that the answers to that questionnaire were read out to a hushed courtroom. Or rather, it was hushed until the jury forewoman arrived at Question Six. To the question “Are you satisfied, so that you are sure, that those who died in the disaster were unlawfully killed?” the answer came back YES. By a majority verdict. There was spontaneous applause from the gallery. And more was to follow.

Question Seven, “Was there any behaviour on the part of the football supporters which caused or contributed to the dangerous situation at the Leppings Lane turnstiles?” was perhaps the one that the press establishment was dreading. The answer was a unanimous NO. There was more applause from the gallery.

After all fourteen questions had been answered, the jury retired to yet more applause. The waiting was over. It had taken so long that some who had started the journey were not there at the end. But at long last, the stain upon Liverpool Football Club, its supporters, the city and indeed the whole of Merseyside has been cleaned away.

In 1989, we witnessed what was effectively an establishment cover-up of 96 unlawful killings. But slowly, surely, the cover-up was exposed, and today came justice. The end.

Sun Junior Doctors Bigotry Busted

Hospital doctors - many of whom are not junior at all - have become so frustrated with the machinations of Jeremy Hunt (the former Culture Secretary) that an all-out strike has been called over the planned imposition of new contracts. But rather than look at the issues, the obedient Murdoch doggies at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun have seen that the medics are members of a Union, decided that makes them wrong, and gone in with both feet.
The result has been yet another intolerant editorial, suggesting that the professionals to whom we routinely trust our lives are a bit wet behind the ears and are easily led by whatever they read on Twitter (as opposed to Sun readers, who are expected by the Murdoch mafia to be easily led by whatever they read in their piss-poor morning paper).

As so often with the Sun, the coverage of the dispute is selective and slanted. We read of Hunt being allegedly “motivated by a desire to improve healthcare services at weekends”, although there are already healthcare services available at weekends. “In the House of Commons yesterday Jeremy Hunt appealed for junior doctors to not go on strike” tells the article, managing not to mention that Hunt’s Labour shadow Heidi Alexander, in replying to his plea, eviscerated his posturing in short order.
What the Sun says ...

But the Murdoch doggies claim to have found one doctor who backs the new contract. It’s only a pity that there are several thousands who do not. But that thought is not allowed to enter as Sun Says rants “TODAY’S shameful junior doctors’ strike proves that you can be academically bright yet clueless about life … Naive young professionals are being led by the nose by hard-Left union agitators spreading lies on social media”.

What lies are those? Ah, but we don’t get to find out, not when naive Sun readers are being led by the nose by hard-right press agitators spreading lies on social media (and in the papers). It gets worse: the account of that one doctor who has spoken up in favour of Hunt has been lifted from the Telegraph. And even Adam Dalby is not convinced, or convincing, when it comes to the Government’s brave new world.
... and what the BMA says

Here’s one of his observations: “the new contract is not perfect - women who take time out are penalised, as are single parents and those with long-term illnesses. But I firmly believe judicial review will iron out these issues”. So the example being held up by the Telegraph, and now the Sun as well, says Hunt should be taken on trust to get it right.

Given he’s been evasive and slippery at best, that idea will generate little more than hollow laughter among Dr Dalby’s colleagues. That example alone shows why the argument is about rather more than “a smokescreen to obscure a simple demand for yet more cash on Saturdays”, as the Sun editorial puts it. And it shows why the doctors’ industrial action is so well supported, both within their ranks and by the wider public.

I’m sure it’s only a coincidence that well-paid hacks and pundits who go private are always ready to take the same line as equally comfortable politicians. But it does not serve their readers well - other to show that, after they’ve taken their readers’ money, they couldn’t give a flying foxtrot about their wellbeing. No change there, then.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Heat Street Boris Defence Busted

As Zelo Street regulars will know, (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch, when not taking to Twitter in order to smear anyone and everyone who incurs her displeasure, has been working behind the scenes to bring those who can’t get enough right-wing rant-fests a new website called Heat Street (already, depending on your preference, nicknamed Creep Street or Hate Street), backed by Creepy Uncle Rupe himself.
A complete Muppet. And Elmo from Sesame Street

There is a promise of “No Safe spaces”, except of course for the space for Ms Mensch to generate More And Bigger Paycheques For Herself Personally Now (but safely). So what kind of offerings can readers look forward to? We get a topical taster of an answer from Miles Goslett, who has brought forthWhy Boris Johnson is not racist”. Do go on.

Johnson’s wife, the distinguished barrister Marina Wheeler QC, is the daughter of the late British journalist Sir Charles Wheeler and Dip Singh, who married in 1962 … This makes Boris Johnson’s wife, whom he married 1993, part-Indian … Are [John] McDonnell and co seriously suggesting that a white racist man would marry a part-Indian woman?

Yes? Yes yes? Yes yes yes? “Of course not … Because this has nothing to do with race … This is about the European referendum … McDonnell, [Nicholas] Soames and [Caroline] Lucas desperately want Britain to remain in the European Union, unlike Johnson (and his part-Indian wife) who think Britain should quit the EU … Therefore, they have invented a slur and jumped up and down about it to cast Johnson in a bad light”.
And to that I call bullshit. Bozza is perfectly capable of crossing the racism barrier, despite his marriage to the long-suffering Ms Wheeler. Moreover, there are enough examples of that crossing, so how Goslett managed to miss them all is a mystery. So let me enlighten Ms Mensch’s side-kick: Bozza, when editor of the Spectator, was happy not just to employ Taki Theodoracopulos, a notorious anti-Semite, but to pass for publication sentiments such as “Orientals ... have larger brains and higher IQ scores. Blacks are at the other pole”.

Taki also said of black basketball players that they had “arms hanging below their knees and tongues sticking out”. Fine by editor Bozza. It got worse: by his own pen, he had described black children as “piccaninnies”. He’d also talked of African leaders greeting visitors with “watermelon smiles”. And it got worse still.

As the Evening Standard reported at the time, “He told New Nation last week that he had been on holiday when an article in the Spectator claimed that Caribbeans were ‘multiplying like flies’”. Yes, a big boy did it and ran away. Like so much Bozza gets up to, he crosses the line, tries to laugh it off, and is ultimately saved by his pals in the press who are prepared to rustle up a line in convenient excuses to divert attention.

Miles Goslett’s latest variation is to say “look over there at his wife”, as if that excuses the attack on Barack Obama, which has already damaged the Vote Leave campaign and had Bozza disinvited from an upcoming speaking engagement. But good to see that Heat Street will be just as lame as the ranting of its figurehead.

Guido Fawked - Corbyn Inheritance Fail

Spare a thought for the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog. No, seriously: while Zelo Street is able to discuss Culture Secretary John Whittingdale’s dalliances, the Tory Bullying scandal, anything to do with Offshore interests, and the behaviour of leaders like Vladimir Putin, The Great Guido is hopelessly compromised on all four, having sold out, in some cases literally.
You need money when you're perpetually thirsty

So it should surprise no-one to see the piss-poor offerings being served up chez Fawkes right now, especially the constant Labour bashing. Now that such earth-shattering items like Chuka Umunna having more than one wristwatch and Diane Abbott earning money other than from her MP’s salary have been flogged half to death, there is very little left. Which brings us to today’s no shock horror revelations about Jeremy Corbyn.

Claiming an “exclusive” (yeah, right) the Fawkes rabble declare10% of Corbyn’s Inheritance Set Aside For CND”. Do go on. “10% of Jeremy Corbyn’s significant inheritance was set aside for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Guido can reveal”. Ooh, how significant was it? Actually, it wasn’t: “When the Labour leader’s mother passed away in 1989, she left Jezza and his three brothers a hugely valuable estate worth the equivalent of nearly £600,000 in today’s money”.

So it was a fraction of that amount back then - around a quarter of the figure shown. And nothing has been “set aside”: “Mrs Corbyn expressed a ‘hope’ that, after taxes, her sons would give one tenth of their inheritance to organisations including the CND and Greenpeace. So that’s where Jeremy got his strong unilateralist principles from”.

That means the headline cannot be stood up by the rest of the article, or, as they say at IPSO, a “Clause 1: Accuracy” breach. Small wonder the Fawkes mob aren’t keen on the idea of press regulation. And it gets worse. “More awkwardly, did Piers Corbyn, the famous climate change denier, really give thousands to Greenpeace as mum wished?” Why is having his view on climate change incompatible with giving to CND?

And it gets worse still: “So how much did Corbyn inherit? After taxes Jezza received the equivalent of around £100,000 in today’s money”. Or, to put it another way, not enough to buy him a garage in the grottiest part of Greater London. But The Great Guido maintains the conceit to the very end, by which time there can only be one response.

Dave isn’t the only leader who enjoyed the privilege of well-off parents” concludes the post. “Well-off”? Well, “off” is right. As in just f*** right off. That is the lamest hatchet job since the Lame faculty of the University of Lame in Lame City redefined Lame to be even more Lame than usual. Jezza gets a piddling tiny fraction of what Young Dave has been trousering, and will continue to trouser. It’s not even good enough to be a non-story.

Still, the money from the Russians, the Press Establishment, and all those other constraining sources makes it worth it, I suppose. Another fine mess, once again.

Obama Spurs Tinfoil Hatters

After his joint press conference with Young Dave, Barack Obama was treated to a distinctly disrespectful tirade of abuse from those wanting to see Britain leave the European Union, typified by London’s increasingly occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson’s “Part-Kenyan heritage” remark, which was only excused as not being racist by Bozza’s pals in the press. And there was more to come.
The Prez had told that the US’ priority for trade deals would be first and foremost with large blocs like the EU. Britain would, he said, be at the “back of the Queue”. Almost as soon as he had said it, the tinfoil hat brigade sprang into action. Users of Stateside English, they reasoned, did not say “queue”. They said “line”. So Obama could not possibly have written that line himself. Thus was born a particularly weak conspiracy theory.
And it may prove instructive that among the first to don their tinfoil hats were two individuals who love to call “conspiracy theorist” on others. Out of the blocks first was the Sun’s alleged “Westminster Correspondent”, Master Harry Cole, with “First time I've ever heard an American say queue”. Not been listening to Obama much, then.
Waddling in to pick up the baton was Cole’s former boss, the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines, to take the tinfoil hattery to a new level: “Wonder who gave him that ‘back of the queue’ phrase?” Yeah, it’s a conspiracy all right. And there was yet more.
James Kirkup of the Telegraph, demonstrating the title’s fall from its former position as a paper of record, stoked that conspiracy theory a little more with “And proof that this was pre-planned…” There was a plan! The plot thickens!
From there, it was but a short journey to full gaga mode, and willingly making the non-existent connection was Raheem “Call me Ray” Kassam of Breitbart London, an outstanding repository of tinfoil hattery, who declared “Obama threatens to send Britain to ‘back of the queue’. Who in USA says queue? No one. Line drafted by Number 10. Briefing against Britain”. And 10 Downing Street was in on the conspiracy!
It got worse: as Dave and The Prez left, Cameron motioned Obama to take his notes with him. For Kassam, this was the clincher: “This clip shows #Cameron urging #Obama to remove his notes from the podium. Why? Who wrote them? ‘Queue’?” Ray seems to have forgotten the time before last year’s General Election when Mil The Younger left his notes behind and someone from the Sun picked them up. Routine precaution.
After all that silliness, it was left to Erica Wagner to state the obvious: “So @POTUS use of 'queue' means Downing St scripted? Hmm. If I'm smart enough to use 'queue' for 'line' I bet Obama is too”. Got it in one. Obama regularly uses “queue”, as the Washington Post has had to point out. There was no conspiracy.

But good to see the tinfoil hat brigade in full gaga mode. Now everyone can see just how credible they all are. Or maybe not.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Whittingdale - Profumo Parallel Plain

After the Mail On Sunday followed up its revelations about the dalliances of Culture Secretary John Whittingdale, not a great deal had been added to the narrative, although his circle of acquaintances had been shown to include Ukranian Dmitry Firtash, whose presence on US soil would not displease the law enforcement authorities there one bit. As with the breaking of this story, though, it was Byline Media that took it forward.
(c) Steve Bell 2016

As Zelo Street had previously told, when Whittingdale was in a relationship with sex worker Olivia King, she, as Nick Mutch confirmed, was also “in an on and off relationship with Ahmed Djoughdem, a self described gangster who goes by the name 'Gerrard' in underworld circles”. It was Djoughdem who was apprehended by the Metropolitan Police with a machine gun in the back of his car (he was subsequently convicted).

What is worse for those in the larger part of the Fourth Estate - that’s all the papers who spiked the story of Whittingdale’s relationship with Ms King and then claimed there was no public interest in it - is that not only did they know about the relationship, they knew about it through Djoughdem. It was he who touted the information around Fleet Street. It’s entirely possible Whittingdale did not know about Djoughdem. But the press did.

As Mutch says, “Ms. King reguarly informed Mr Djoughdem of their movements, including occasions where she accompanied Whittingdale on his Parliamentary business”, also stating the obvious: “These revelations that information was passing from Whittingdale to criminal sources will also lend extra weight to former porn star Stephanie Hudson’s allegations that Mr Whittingdale has poor judgement with sensitive material”.

It is here that the parallel with John Profumo, who was forced to resign from Harold Macmillan’s Government in 1963, emerges. Profumo was sharing the attentions of Christine Keeler with Yevgeni Ivanov, the senior naval attaché at the Soviet Embassy in London. The potential for sensitive information - Profumo was Secretary of State for War - to be passed into the wrong hands was all too obvious.

The variation with Whittingdale was that he shared Ms King’s attentions with a member of the criminal underworld, and that the MP “was unknowingly passing information about his relationship, parliamentary business meetings and movements to Mr Djoughdem via Ms King, who was attempting to sell this information to tabloid newspapers”. Worse still, “Djoughdem used to run [the] infamous high end nightclub Wall St. which was known for being a centre of cocaine dealing”. So how did Whittingdale get to become a Minister?

Getting access to cabinet level privileges - and the information that goes with them - should require candidates to have undergone what is called Developed Vetting (DV). The scale and depth of enquiries made during this process would have revealed Whittingdale’s relationship, and Ms King’s connection to Djoughdem. One round of questioning among the Government’s press contacts would - or should - have revealed what they knew.

Was the DV process by-passed for some reason? Did the press keep schtum and not tell Downing Street that they had the story, and that they got it from Djoughdem? Every time more is revealed about this affair, we are told that there is nothing to see here, and that we should move right along. And every time the press establishment is plain flat wrong.

Don’t Menshn Eric X Li

Standing alone among the past week’s attacks on Byline Media is the Twitter onslaught from (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch, not because it has landed any blows on the site and its contributors, but because her tendency to inaccuracy has caused her to veer not just close to the defamation line, but straight across it, as she has made claims about Byline backer Eric X Li that are unequivocally libellous.
(c) Doc Hackenbush 2014

Moreover, Mr Li, being worth rather more than Ms Mensch, would be able to secure the services of enough legal muscle to take her to the cleaners in very short order, should he be so minded. So it might be thought that she would stop and think, but that thought would be misplaced: Ms Mensch does not do apologies willingly.
The latest Mensch rant-fest began as nothing more than an ill-informed snipe at Byline, as she wibbled “heat street didn't lie about our funding from rich Russians”. Byline isn’t funded by any Russians, and nobody has lied about its funding, but hey ho. “Byline media presented itself as crowd funded what utter bullshit”. All contributors to Byline Media are crowd funded. Draw your own conclusions. But there was more. Rather a lot more.
When I pretend http://heatst.com/UK is crowd funded, hold me to account”. No thanks, I don’t want to look over there. Try again. “So you admit that [Byline Media] is funded by anti democracy oligarch?she demanded of co-curator Peter Jukes. He didn’t. Because it isn’t.
Could it get yet worse? It certainly could: “Were you personally enriched by this anti democracy oligarch while asking to be crowd funded?” Doesn’t make sense. The Byline model is quite straightforward: the backers pay for the platform, and contributors who publish there are crowdfunded. And there still aren’t any oligarchs involved. Have another go. “Why did you accept funding for byline media from an anti democracy billionaire comment pls”. She appears to mean Eric X Li. But cannot stand her claim up.
‘Dictatorship works better than democracy’. The Chinese billionaire funding @peterjukes” claimed Ms Mensch, but she is taking Andrew Gilligan on trust. What Mr Li actually said can be seen HERE (clue: it’s not quite the same thing). But then she lost all sense of reason and frothed “Hi sure can you explain why you took funding from an anti Semite anti democracy billionaire thanks”. That is directly and unambiguously libellous.
It got worse. After sneering “Hey @peterjukes you've hidden behind a ‘sizeable’ mortgage how ‘sizeable’?” - Jukes is doing no such thing - she doubled down on the libel with “How long after this man was exposed as an anti-semite did byline take funding from him?

Let’s take this nice and slowly, so Ms Mensch has a chance of understanding it. Gilligan claimed that Mr Li had written articles for The 4th Media, a site that also includes all manner of conspiracy theories, including some that are anti-Semitic. But he had not written for that site - The 4th Media is an aggregator that copied and pasted items from other sites. The Telegraph later withdrew that claim, and in any case levelled no claim of anti-Semitism against Mr Li. After all, there is no evidence to support such a claim.

Nor is there any evidence that Li is “anti-democratic”. But there is evidence that Louise Mensch has libelled him, and unless she withdraws quickly, who knows what will follow?