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Thursday, 26 April 2018

Windrush Fiasco Snares RAF Family

The Tories’ ill-advised tightening of the immigration laws in 2014 has highlighted the crass insensitivity of Theresa May and Amber Rudd, as well as giving Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters another opportunity to tell the world that their man warned what would happen well before the stuff hit the fan. But what is not well-known is that this mess does not just mean problems for those born in the West Indies before 1972.
That would affect those aged over 45. But John Ingram is just 39. And he can’t get a passport because the Home Office will not accept his birth certificate as proof of identity. So he can’t prove, to their satisfaction, who he is. He has not yet been threatened with deportation, but give them time, and all that. In any case, where would he go?

Ingram “was born in Germany while his parents were serving in the RAF”, but “his birth certificate was rejected when he tried to get a passport for a trip to Spain … he was born in a British military hospital in 1979 where his parents were serving and only spent two months in Germany. He has lived in the UK ever since and has never held a passport”.

Why is there a problem? “The Home Office rejected his birth certificate as proof of identity as it was issued by the British Consulate … the Home Office had wanted a German birth certificate as proof of his identity. But as he was born in a British military hospital he said ‘it doesn't exist, because I am not German … They keep moving the goal posts, they keep saying whatever I give them is not good enough’”.

Sound familiar? While the BBC has reported that “Mr Ingram said he had contacted his MP and had complained to the Home Office about the way his case was being treated, which has since been escalated”, their report also notes “His story comes amid the Windrush scandal, where some immigrants who came to the UK from the Commonwealth decades ago have been threatened with deportation or refused jobs or healthcare”.
John Ingram - can't prove he's British. Yet

There must be scores more service families whose children have been born while they were serving in Germany - or, indeed, elsewhere. Likewise consular staff and their families. But our immigration laws are clearly so screwed that being born in a British military hospital that happens to be in Germany renders someone liable to be refused a passport because their papers don’t enable them to clear the Home Office’s high bar.

In the meantime, the clock is ticking down for John Ingram: “with the holiday approaching in June he says he is running out of time to get the situation resolved. ‘It cost us a lot of money and she [his partner] doesn't want to go unless we can all go together, but how do you prove you are British?,’ he said”. Meanwhile, Amber Rudd is still clinging on.

That’s what happens when you make policy at the behest of the Daily Mail. I’ll just leave that one there.

Telegraph Anti-Semitism Hypocrisy

The increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph has used its front page today to claim that the Labour Party is deep in anti-Semitism, homing in on Union boss Len McCluskey and his clear disdain for the deliberate attempts by a handful of MPs to undermine the party leadership. But while the Tel is pretending that it’s all Labour’s fault, what they are not telling is that they have been dabbling in anti-Semitism themselves.
Splashed across the page we see “They will be held to account … As the Labour anti-Semitism row deepens [!], union baron [!] threatens five MPs who challenged Corbyn on the issue”. McCluskey is quoted as saying “I look with disgust at the behaviour of the Corbyn-hater MPs”. Sadly, though, the impact of this attack has already been dulled.

We know this because the Tel has been indulging in anti-Semitic dog whistling so bad that even sham press non-regulator IPSO has declined to wipe its arse. After the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism (itself no stranger to the endorsement of bigotry) complained about an online article titled “What’s missing? The countries with no airports, railways, trees and World Heritage Sites”, IPSO had no option but to find against the Tel.

Why should this be? This is what the press regulation people found: “The article was published in the publication’s travel section. It contained a number of lists of countries apparently lacking a certain characteristic. For example, it contained a list of 5 countries without airports, 15 countries with no mountains, and 9 countries without rivers. Under the subheading ‘no banks’, the article stated: ‘Only three countries on the planet don’t have a central bank owned or controlled by the Rothschild family’, and listed: Cuba, North Korea, and Iran.” Rothschild, like Soros or Globalist, is code for Jews or Jewish.
So it was no surprise that “The complainant said that the claim that these three countries are the only countries which do not have a central bank controlled by the Rothschild family, was inaccurate, and a modern version of the antisemitic myth that this particular Jewish family are behind the word’s ills, and part of a global Jewish conspiracy”.

The Telegraph was caught bang to rights peddling anti-Semitic tropes. Its excuse was utterly lame: “a regrettable error, arising from momentary carelessness”. Not momentary interest, then? And it’s not the Tel’s first foray into using anti-Semitic tropes to flog a few more papers: in February they brought us the infamous blaming of the non-existant “plot to thwart Brexit” on George Soros - another anti-Semitic dog-whistle.

Then, the paper summoned hacks for an all hands meeting at which senior staff told that the splash was not anti-Semitic, honestly. Nick Timothy, the man who lost Theresa May her majority, dismissed claims of dog-whistling, demanding withdrawals and apologies. Timothy has, after he was caught lying in his attempts to defend Theresa May over the Windrush débâcle, seen his reputation go down the pan.

The Telegraph is making a habit of peddling anti-Semitic material. And trying to tell readers to “look over there at Labour” is not going to help its cause. What a bunch of bigots.

Toby Young’s Ego Destroyed Our Schools

The Mirror has brought its readers another tale of woe from the much-vaunted Free School sector, telling readersA brand new £4.2 million ‘free school’ set up to train the sports stars of tomorrow is to close after being branded inadequate by Ofsted, just 16 months after its grand opening. Tory School Standards Minister Nick Gibb toured Plymouth Studio School and cut the ribbon on the taxpayer-funded, state-of-the-art facility in December 2016. But today the Department for Education today agreed ‘in principle’ to shut the school down, at the request of the trust that runs it”. There was more.
Parents had already raised serious concerns about the school before Mr Gibb visited … The school will be the 19th of its type to fold since they were introduced in 2010 … The Ofsted report … is understood to grade the school as inadequate, and identifies a string of teaching and safeguarding concerns … had three headteachers since it first launched”.

None of this will surprise Zelo Street regulars. There was the scandal of IES Breckland, a shambolic mess promoted enthusiastically by the loathsome Toby Young and his pal Fraser Nelson. And the Perry Beeches scandal in Birmingham - schools that had been endorsed by Young Dave and Michael “Oiky” Gove. Discovery New School near Crawley had set the ball rolling by shutting its doors in 2014. All wasted taxpayers’ money.

And it was the advocacy of Tobes that had driven the propaganda - telling anyone and everyone how wonderful Free Schools were. Except the budget for such schools had quickly spiralled out of control, going well over £1 billion over target by the end of 2013. By last year, the situation was so bad that then Education Secretary Justine Greening was having to raid other budgets to keep local authority schools going.

The waste was mounting up: the Independent told last May “Tens of millions wasted on free schools that closed or never opened amid 'unprecedented' funding crisis … At least £138.5 million spent on opening 62 free schools, university technical colleges (UTC) and studio schools that have either closed, partially closed, or failed to open at all”.

It got worse: the Guardian revealed that most of Ms Greening’s new cash for mainstream schools would “come from an unidentified £600m of new cuts to the central Department for Education budget”. And then came the giveaway: “A further £200m will come from the free schools budget by building 30 out of a planned 140 as local authority schools instead”.

In other words, building new local authority schools is better value for money than new Free Schools. More than £6.5 million per school better. You were told that Free Schools were better value for money than local authority ones? You were told a whopper.

And who has led the propaganda push for Free Schools? Step forward Toby Young, who has effectively admitted that a significant part of his motivation to set one up was because he couldn’t afford school fees for his four children but wanted them to go private.

What the Mirror has just reported is only the latest example of the waste that the Free Schools programme has produced. So while local authority schools have to beg money for essentials from parents, just remember whose vanity caused this mess.

The involvement of Toby Young in education policy has been a disaster. That is all.

Fawkes Antisemitism - We Have To Talk

The perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog have recently been pushing the idea that the Labour Party is some kind of hotbed of anti-Semitism. This is despite the grim Fawkes record on the subject, as Zelo Street has pointed out - mere hypocrisy doesn’t put The Great Guido off his stride.
So Fawkes readers have been regaled withProducer Of Labour’s Race Row Election Video Tweeted About ‘Jewish Kapos’”, a Labour candidate who allegedly talked aboutJewish Money”, a full transcript of the JLC and Board of Deputies’ response to a meeting with Jeremy Corbyn, and a characteristically spurious claim that Len McCluskey had threatened Labour MPs who spoke out about anti-Semitism.
But the reality is that when it comes to racism is general, and anti-Semitism in particular, the Fawkes blog has no room to get righteous with anyone else. The comments, which are supposed to be moderated, have been a sewer of hate for years now, showing that, when it comes to getting clicks, The Great Guido is not too fussy about where they come from.
We know this as an enterprising Twitter account called Guido Fawkes Hate Exposed has just been set up, showing the crude anti-Semitism which the Fawkes rabble allows through the comment moderation process, such as “‘Is is good for J3ws’ That is the only question that matters so far as J3ws are concerned … They never really integrated did they … Diaspora J3ws are all anti-nationalist multi-culturals until it comes to Israel”.
There was more: “just why do the Jews believe they have a right to pull the strings [!] of the main political leaders of this country? Is it just because they are ‘God’s chosen people’ or to put it another way, the ‘Master Race’? … You are not a separate race, dump your primitive religion and become human!” All passed moderation.
This torrent of bigotry has not merely restricted itself to anti-Semitism: homophobia is another subject with which the Fawkes moderation régime is more than comfortable, with one prize example asserting “I don’t want to stick my willy up a man’s bottom and I don’t want a man to stick his willy up mine … As much as they find it their right to express their love of buggery and sodomy - I have just as much right to condemn it”.
Such pleasant people. And don’t get them started on the Windrush scandal. That precipitated characterisations of black Britons which talked of “stabbings, blowing up their own apartments … unlimited handouts on housing” and “So the Windrush came over and the passengers bred like rabbits … and most of south London became a third world slum”.
Only after Guido Fawkes Hate Exposed began to call out Staines and his pals for effectively inciting hatred was the moderation tightened up, with commenters protesting “Looks like my post has been flagged because I mentioned a certain religion” … “Forget the books, Guido has gone ‘comment burning’” … “So much for free speech Guido” … “To be honest Guido you might as well just get rid of the comments section altogether”.

The Fawkes rabble give every indication that they were using racism to drive traffic - and that, as can be seen, included anti-Semitism. No-one with brain engaged should be taking lessons from this shower on that subject. Full stop, end of story.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Amber Rudd is Now Finished

Home secretary Amber Rudd has this afternoon appeared before the Home Affairs Select Committee. It was not an edifying sight: she appeared not to know she was not at Home Office Questions in the Commons, her answers exasperated committee members, some of what she said appeared to contradict what had already been provided to those present, and her language was, at times, singularly unfortunate.
As a result, we now have a Dead Minister Walking. While some politics observers are still picking away at the Labour Party over alleged anti-Semitism, we have in plain sight the prospect that Theresa May’s successor, and her human shield, will have to go, and soon. That raises the prospect of Ms May being left alone to carry the can for Windrush.
How bad was it? Natalie Bloomer gave a taster: “Listening to Amber Rudd's evidence to the home affairs committee you'd think she just rocked up at the Home Office last week. She either hasn't got a clue what's happening in her own department or she's very keen not to admit what she does know”. That bad.
Laura Kuenssberg also brought bad news for The Blue Team: “Home Office and Number 10 WERE warned about Windrush problems back in May 2016 after Commonwealth countries raised concerns with Foreign Office, I've been told - Rudd has just said she doesn't have information on that - no official response yet”. And she had more.
V testy exchanges btw Rudd and [Yvette] Cooper - Rudd says she doesn't know about Home Office targets for removals, Cooper dumbfounded having just taken evidence that says the opposite”. Yes, it really was that bad.
Paul Johnson of the Guardian might not have been able to believe what he was hearing, but Tweeted it out anyway. “Q Yvette Cooper: Do you have 4 different pieces of proof for where you were living in 1989? A Amber Rudd: this is the core of the problem”. Well, yes, and what about the Windrush Generation getting threatened with deportation?
Meanwhile, Paul Waugh of the HuffPost had a minor but worrying aside: “Tiny procedural point. Amber Rudd thinks she's in Home Office Questions not before a select cttee, keeps talking about 'the Rt Hon Lady' in 3rd person and not 'you, chair' etc”.
Waugh also broke the news of a proper gaffe from the Home Secretary: “Oops Rudd just talked about 'the whole Windrush saga... ' then realised that wasn't quite the right phrase”.
Faisal Islam of Sky News also got that one, as well as the sense of occasion: “Home Secretary under real pressure here - are there deportation targets? asks Cooper - not clear. Is the net migration target to blame? No. Are you protecting the PM? No. -- briefly refers to crisis as ‘Windrush Saga’”. It was bad alright.
It was left to the Independent’s sketch writer Tom Peck to put the lid on proceedings: “Amber Rudd appears unclear if the Home Office ever had ‘net removal targets.’ ‘You mean a number?’ ‘Well,’ she is told by Stephen Doughty. ‘I assume a net removal target means a number.’ I am inclined to think it literally means removal with a net”.

Tory ministers are nowadays loath to resign, however bad their performance. Perhaps.

Comcast Ends Murdoch Sky Dream

As if the problems facing the bid by the Murdoch mafiosi to gain control of the 61% of Sky that they do not yet own were not significant enough, they have now been well and truly trumped by one of the real big boys in the global media firmament. And what has been reported today not only puts Rupert Murdoch’s dreams to bed for good, it casts doubt on the future of his UK print media operations as well.
The BBC has reported thatUS cable TV giant Comcast has made a formal £22bn bid for Sky, which values the broadcaster at £12.50 a share …  The move threatens Rupert Murdoch's attempts to take full control of the pay-TV group … His 21st Century Fox had already agreed to buy the 61% of Sky it does not already own, an offer worth about £19bn”. Rupe’s dream of a cut-price post-referendum bid is over.

Worse, as Sky News has noted, “Sky responded by saying it was withdrawing its recommendation of the Fox deal - paving the way for bids to be raised”. Moreover, “Comcast said its bid came with a series of legally binding commitments on Sky ownership and UK investment … It included a 10-year commitment to Sky News - its future proving one of the sticking points of the Fox bid which is still being considered by regulators over concerns it would hand the Murdoch Family Trust too much influence over UK media”.
And there is a further problem, as the Guardian has observed: “Murdoch agreed a $66bn (£47bn) sale to rival Disney which is being scrutinised by US regulators”. Disney, “which has called Sky a ‘crown jewel’, is keen on the broadcaster’s streaming and on-demand service, Sky Now, as it seeks to compete with Netflix”.

What will Disney do now? One analyst has concluded “In reality, this is likely to be about what Disney is willing to pay for Sky as Disney will be the buyer of the Fox assets … We think that Fox/Disney will counter-bid … it would give Disney the number one pay-TV operator in the UK, Germany and Italy”. But the Guardian has added that “analysts believe Murdoch is essentially out of the picture”. It is no longer his call.
Plus the feeling among business watchers is that bids are going to have to go a lot higher before there is a winner: Comcast has valued Sky at £22 billion, but that mark may rise to, or even above, £27 billion. The whole business will stick in Murdoch’s craw: Comcast is the ultimate owner of US Cable News outfit MSNBC, which is getting very close to matching Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse) in ratings of late.

Just think, the owner of the Rotten Leftie (tm) competition in the USA has just killed the takeover dreams of Creepy Uncle Rupe stone dead. All those years he had to spend building up Sky, all the risks he had to take, how close he came to the whole shebang bankrupting him. And now the same free market that Rupert Murdoch has so steadfastly championed for so long is coming back to bite him and snatch away his prize.
Even if Disney approves a counter-bid, he will know he is not a big enough media player to sit at the table with the big boys. He has to take instructions from someone else in order to stay in the game. Yes, there goes Rupert Murdoch, on his way … out.

Andrew Norfolk IS FINISHED

Not long ago, Andrew Norfolk of the Murdoch Times was at the top of his game, the toast of his profession. His fellow Times writer David Brown explained “It was journalist (Andrew Norfolk) speaking to victims which uncovered the national scandal of these grooming gangs, not police”. Norfolk had broken the story of  grooming gang in Rotherham. He also called out South Yorkshire Police for effectively conspiring to protect the culprits.
The BBC’s Sangita Myska suggested Norfolk should receive a Pulitzer, although the story not being about anything Stateside might be thought a problem, and the Times’ chief sports writer Matt Dickinson concluded “Thank goodness the world has journalists of the calibre of the Times' Andrew Norfolk”. Even campaigning group Hacked Off praised Norfolk, despite his opposition to Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act.
How Norfolk would love to return to those days right now. Because now his reputation lies in tatters, with not even sham press non-regulator IPSO prepared to give him a free pass over the story that destroyed his reputation, as Zelo Street regulars will recall.
Norfolk was the name on the by-line that gave the stamp of authenticity to the Times’ front page splashChristian child forced into Muslim foster care”. The story, it now transpires, was single-sourced, from the child’s mother. Someone had forgotten what happened to the Telegraph’s Christopher Booker when he did the same thing in late 2013.
Booker was slowly but inexorably busted by a series of revelations that showed his story to be a slanted and dishonest mess, a seriously flawed piece of journalism. So it was with Norfolk. As Zelo Street told soon after the story was broken, an anonymised version of a hearing convened to discuss the case took the points Norfolk had made and effectively dismissed every last one of them. Much of what he had claimed was just not true.
Norfolk did try to brazen it out, but it didn’t work. He did, though, get the customary arse-wiping from IPSO, but that was to reckon without a complaint from Tower Hamlets Council, who had been smeared by not only the Times articles, but a characteristically aggressive follow-up by the Daily Mail. And it is that complaint which has finished Norfolk.
The Guardian has duly reportedComplaint upheld over Times story about girl fostered by Muslims … Council wins ruling from press watchdog over claims in story also picked up by Daily Mail”. Norfolk’s slanted reportage was laid bare.
In August last year, the Times reported that a ‘white Christian child’ had been left distressed after being placed with two Muslim households in Tower Hamlets over a period of six months. However, the initial claims soon proved to be a one-sided account, as further details emerged, including that the girl’s grandmother - with whom she was ultimately to be placed - was a Muslim and did not speak English”.
The Times, and Mail, had pitched the grandparent placement as some kind of victory - after telling readers that the foster carers did not speak English (not true), they talked up the placement with someone who really didn’t speak English. Oh dear!

Today’s news confirms that Andrew Norfolk is another whose reputation has been sacrificed on the altar of Murdoch Islamophobia. Sad, really.

Sun Islamophobia Denial BUSTED

Yesterday, a group of newspaper executives appeared before the inquisition of the Home Affairs Select Committee. Among their number was Paul Clarkson, managing editor of the Murdoch Sun, who was asked about Islamophobia in the press. His response was a brass neck classic: “In the media, in the mainstream media I don’t believe it is an issue”.
Paul Clarkson

One can only imagine the strength of the stuff they sup on the 13th floor of the Baby Shard bunker nowadays, and indeed what planet Clarkson must have been on for the past decade. So let me enlighten him as to his own paper’s ignominious record of smearing and lying about all those Scary Muslims (tm) - starting with one of the biggest whoppers.
That one wasn't true ...

Norway’s 9/11: who can forget the Sun’s coverage following the massacre on the island of Utoya? The paper immediately called it for al-Qaeda, describing “Islamist fanatics” and a “homegrown al-Qaeda convert”. The perpetrator, Anders Behring Breivik, was very white and very Christian. And very far-right. The Sun was therefore very bust.
... and nor was that one ...

‘Muslim Convert’ Beheads Woman In Garden: 82-year-old Palmira Silva died following an attack in the garden of her north London home. The Sun then invented theMuslim Convert” angle, which was not true. Their cretinous PR Dylan Sharpe, he of sending unsolicited topless photos to female journalists and politicians, said it was OK because other papers were running the same story. Another pack of lies busted.
... while that one was merely seriously misleading

1 in 5 Brit Muslims’ sympathy for jihadis: non-bullying political editor Tom Newton Dunn, who appeared before the cameras earlier this week telling a fellow pundit that he and his paper didn’t print anything that wasn’t true, er, splashed something that wasn’t true. The “Exclusive: Shock Poll” was a “Wake-Up Call After Paris Blitz”. Except that the idea that 20% of British Muslims sided with ISIS - the clear suggestion of the story - was another pack of lies. Even IPSO couldn’t wipe Newton Dunn’s arse over that one.
Liar says he is not a liar no shock horror

Croatian Double Lie: “A SUN investigator has managed to smuggle himself 2,000 miles from Turkey to Paris in just six days without showing his passport” told the Murdoch goons. Except that Emil Ghessen had spun yet another pack of lies: his sneaking across the Croatian border by hiding in the toilet was actually showing his British passport like any other tourist. And his train trip from Zagreb to Munich was impossible: there were no longer any direct trains, and the Salzburg passport control would have caught him.

What actually happened was that he exited Croatia on a plane, and the record of his showing his passport at Zagreb Airport was produced by the authorities as evidence of the Sun’s shitty “journalism”. Another Muslim scare story that wasn’t true.
Ramadan Train Wreck: Summer 2016 had the Sun salivating over another untrue assertion, as they told “Muslim train driver crashed after going without food or drink for 15 hours during Ramadan … Officials reveal the driver ran through TWO red lights at London's Paddington Station”. One red light - the Sun doesn’t understand railways, and misunderstood the indications given by ground signals - and the RAIB could not determine whether fasting had anything to do with what was just a slow speed derailment.
A lying bigot from days gone by ...

Fatima Manji Attack: the Sun’s disgraced former editor Kelvin McFilth attacked the Channel 4 News host for wearing a headscarf while reading the news, describing Islam as a “clearly violent religion". IPSO wiped the paper’s arse over that one, and just for afters, faithful Murdoch retainer Trevor Kavanagh dispensed a kicking of his own. The latter was probably the last straw for IPSO, who later sacked him.
... and another very much still on the scene

The Muslim Problem: and talking of the deeply unpleasant Kavanagh, there he was last August telling readersOne day soon … we will be back in charge of immigration. What will we do about The Muslim Problem then?” Kav later said it didn’t even cross his mind that he just happened to have used a 1930s Nazi anti-Semitic trope and swapped “Muslim” for “Jewish”. He’s a liar. And the Sun is a deeply Islamophobic newspaper.
Moreover, that short summary of Sun Islamophobia is by no means complete. There are countless other sly attacks on followers of The Prophet, and how the paper’s managing editor managed to miss all of them would be mystifying, if it were not so obvious that Clarkson was, like his colleagues on the paper, lying through his teeth.

One can only hope that the MPs he so flagrantly misled yesterday summon him to explain his economy with the actualité. Or, put it another way, ask him why his pants are on fire.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Toronto Attack Rebounds On Alt-Right

A hired van has mounted a pavement at speed and mown down several pedestrians in the Canadian city of Toronto. Ten people have been killed; several others have been injured. As the BBC has reported, “Police said the suspect in the van mounted the kerb on Yonge Street between Finch Avenue and Sheppard Avenue at about 13:30 local time (17:30 GMT) on Monday and drove into pedestrians along a 1km (0.6-mile) stretch”.
There was more. “One witness told City News that the driver was ‘hitting anything that comes in the way … People, fire hydrants, there's mail boxes being run over,’ said the unnamed man, who said he was driving behind the van during the incident. As the van continued, the man said he sounded his horn to try to warn pedestrians. ‘I witnessed at least six, seven people being hit and flying in the air, like killed, on the street,’ he said".
It did not take long for the wrong assumptions to be made. Natasha Fatah, who lists areas such as “War. Terror. Islamism” on her Twitter bio, was on the case: “#BREAKING Witness to truck ramming into pedestrians tells local Toronto TV station that the driver looked wide-eyed, angry and Middle Eastern”. Middle Eastern? Ezra Levant of The Rebel was up for an RT of that. And then the real wackos got stuck in.
Battersea bedroom dweller Paul Watson, who has previously warned his fellow fringe idiots not to jump to conclusions, took one look at the unfolding drama, and decided … to jump to conclusions. “9 dead in Toronto, authorities confirm it was a terrorist attack. Terrorist described as ‘Middle Eastern’. ‘Motive unknown.’” Nudge nudge, eh?
And when the Mayor of Toronto failed to agree with him, Watson went further. “A jihadist has just killed 9 people and the Mayor is already out virtue signalling”. Would anyone else out there on the alt-right care to back up that evidence-free conclusion?
You bet they would. After Canadian PM Justin Trudeau said his thoughts were with all those affected, Katie Hopkins snorted “Ten dead Trudeau. Ten. No one needs your thoughts. Do not say you carry on as normal. That you ‘stand united’. Those dead men, women and children do not. Their families do not. You brought this. You are complicit in it. Politicians like you are terrorist shills. #TorontoAttack”.
Yeah, it was terrorism, right? And in case you didn’t hear it first time, Hatey Katie was there to ram it home: “PR comms plan 1) Build vigil plus tea candles for press pack 2) Turn off Eiffel Tower 3) Public ceremony with pro-diversity globalist - (ensure diverse front row) 4) Talkers: We Stand United. We carry on as normal. 5) Stand & repeat with Muslim leaders #torontovanattack”. What’s the Eiffel Tower got to do with it? Whatever.
Then came the news that the driver of the hire van was called Alek Minassian. There was brief excitement among the alt-right as it was realised that the surname was Armenian, and some Armenians live in Scary Muslim Countries like Iran. But Minassian was not a Muslim. He was, in fact, radicalised by the same alt-right who were now trying to pin the attack on Islam. He was an angry young man who couldn’t get laid.

So just like so many more in the alt-right, then. What you will not read in the papers.

MyTaxi - A Potentially Unsafe App

Imagine an app that allows you to book a cab in over 50 cities across Europe. An app that brings the driver to you and gives you the option to pay with your pennies or take an entirely cashless journey, with receipts sent straight to your inbox. An app that will keep you out of the cold and rain and into safe, reliable black cabs in London”. So goes the blurb for MyTaxi, an app widely available, and widely used, across the capital.
The problem for the app formerly known as Hailo is that the claim of “safe, reliable” isn’t necessarily true. And the reason it isn’t true is the same reason why driver and rider matching service Uber has been found to have so many less than totally reputable drivers in its ranks - the vetting of those drivers is, at best, haphazard.

Moreover, MyTaxi might look as if it is there to help the cab trade, but they are on record claiming “Our competition is the street hail”. That’s a challenging proposition for the average cabbie: join MyTaxi and find yourself working for the unofficial opposition. Worse, as TfL have pointed out, it “does not licence MyTaxi or any other company offering similar taxi services via an app or radio circuit”. Obviously, private Hire is different.
So who is responsible? “Ultimately, taxi drivers are responsible for ensuring that any journey they carry out is in accordance with the regulations that are in place and that they are subject to”. The problem for the punter is that using an app like MyTaxi may lull them into a false sense of security - because its drivers are not being properly vetted.

Take the ease with which Delroy Grant became registered with MyTaxi. This is the name of a minicab driver - or perhaps that should be former minicab driver. The twist is that Grant was convicted ofthree rapes, one attempted rape, seven indecent assaults, 16 burglaries and two attempted burglaries, involving a total of 18 victims … The … offences took place in Warlingham, Shirley, Beckenham, Bromley, Addiscombe, Orpington and West Dulwich between October 1992 and May [2009]”. He is now serving a life sentence.
So how did Delroy Grant get registered with MyTaxi? Simples. There’s his TfL licence, except … it isn’t. The date of birth, license number, start date, end date and current status are all made up. And the address - 21 Du Cane Road - is Wormwood Scrubs, as in the chokey. But all that got past MyTaxi. The vehicle was a TfL licensed Private Hire Vehicle.

And Zelo Street regulars will know all about the misuse of TfL licensed PHVs, which featured in last August’s exposé on the Metropolitan Police’s concerns over Uber.

Could it get worse? It certainly could: the fictional Delroy Grant has now, according to MyTaxi, done some work through the app - enough for him to be presented with a statement of earnings. Who knew that operating a rogue taxi business staffed by lifers down the Scrubs could be such an easy thing to set up?
That, of course, is the problem. All that is needed is for a properly dodgy character to rock up, con their way past MyTaxi, and for a punter not to notice it isn’t a real black cab with a real cabbie who turns up - and someone could be in real danger.

A journey in a real London black cab is safe. A MyTaxi journey … I wouldn’t be so sure.