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Sunday 31 May 2015

Mail Anne Diamond Smear Explained

An inexplicable and ultimately disturbing article has fetched up in today’s Mail On Sunday, but which can easily be explained as yet another clumsy attack on those campaigning for properly independent press self-regulation. “I've been an old fool, says Anne Diamond's ex. 12 weeks of marriage cost me my home, £100k... and my Jack Russell” reads the headline, above an article which does not concern … well, Anne Diamond, actually.
Determined campaigner ... Anne Diamond

There’s more: “A savage divorce settlement has left Mike Hollingsworth, 53, homeless … He met 20-year-old student Kimberley in a production of Dr Faustus … They married after Mike had a brain haemorrhage and prostate cancer … He wanted to make sure someone would look after his children … But just 12 weeks into the marriage Kimberley demanded a divorce … Mike and TV presenter Anne Diamond divorced in 1999”.

Following the sub-headings, there are ten photos, eight of which feature Anne Diamond. But she is still not the subject of the article: that honour belongs to Kimberley Stewart-Mole, who inflicted the divorce settlement on Hollingsworth that the MoS deems to have been “savage”. And even the detail of his relationship with Ms Stewart-Mole has been selectively twisted to fit the storyline.

Hollingsworth is not 53, but 69. The MoS concedes that “To be fair, the unlikely couple were actually together for some ten years”, and those readers who manage to stick with the story find out that “She started out asking for half of everything I owned, but that got reduced” and “he admits that deputy district judge Sarah Gibbons was ‘absolutely fair’ in his case”. But the placement of the photos gives the game away.

Above the “five year legal battle” is one of Anne Diamond. Similarly with the story of Hollingsworth having to sell his London flat. And again with the story of the 33-year age gap between him and Ms Stewart-Mole. And again when discussing the law on divorce. And again with the details of how he is having to get a mortgage in his late 60s. The casual reader might think that she was the subject of the article.

And, in a way, she is: what the MoS is not telling its readers, although it is telling Anne Diamond, is that the article has been put together ostensibly as an account of Hollingsworth’s divorce, but in reality has been used as a vehicle to kick someone who has incurred the displeasure of those who rule over the cheaper end of the Fourth Estate. Because Anne Diamond has passed adverse comment upon the behaviour of the press.

Moreover, she has been a persistent and vocal critic of their methods. She testified before the Leveson Inquiry (it was the Murdoch press, in the shape of the Sun, that intruded on her child’s funeral). She is a signatory of the Hacked Off “Leveson Declaration”. And so it is that Anne Diamond has had her name ritually trashed once more in the MoS today, just to show that there’s nothing like putting the boot in pour encourager les autres.

Nothing encapsulates the vindictive boot-boy mentality of the tabloids to better effect.

Burnham On Welfare - Or Maybe Not

The Tory-supporting press clearly believes that the Labour leadership race will end up with Andy Burnham victorious, and nowhere can this be more easily seen than at the cheap and nasty Sun Nation site, where readers have been regaled with6 REASONS THE TORIES WOULD LOVE ANDY BURNHAM AS LABOUR LEADER”. The mind games from Rupe’s downmarket troops are as lame as ever.
Did he say that? He surely didn't

But a more subtle undermining of Burnham is being undertaken across the Fourth Estate, as hacks and pundits exhibit a creative reinterpretation of what he has actually said, to make it appear he is tacking to the right. This is, in part, deliberate: it’s a favourite tactic of the right - to wind up the left into believing that the politician in question is agin them. The ground on which much of this deception is taking place is over welfare.

Or rather, it is what the press, and all too many commentators, are calling welfare. Last Friday’s speech by Burnham is a textbook example: “Andy Burnham performed another political U-turn yesterday when he launched an extraordinary attack on welfare culture … Other candidates scrambled to back him on welfare reform” told the Mail. This is followed by a whole paragraph on what Burnham is going to do about, er, welfare.

Even the Guardian used the W-word: “Labour's Andy Burnham suggests he might back further welfare cuts”. He had been asked “after the speech about his views on welfare”, and “He said Labour was right to challenge indiscriminate welfare cuts”. Furthermore, “Burnham said he backed the shadow cabinet position on welfare revealed by the acting Labour leader, Harriet Harman”. That’s a lot of talk about welfare.

And how about another W-word - workshy? Here, City AM was quite sure of its ground: “Andy Burnham will today admit that Labour got it wrong on business and the economy, and that the party cannot win the next election if voters believe it gives the workshy an ‘easy ride’”. So one might form the belief that Burnham has been talking about welfare, and the workshy. And that would be totally wrong.

You can see what Burnham actually said in his Friday speech HERE. Despite all the press talk of Burnham trashing Mil The Younger’s leadership, he actually said of the party’s election campaign “we managed to put up a fight.We developed a powerful critique about how globalisation and the casualisation of work had changed lives and left people feeling insecure. We had good individual policies”.

And he did not, repeat did not, repeat DID NOT mention “welfare” even once. Nor did he use the term “workshy”. Why should this matter? Ah well. Those are the terms that suggest Burnham, or any of the other leadership hopefuls, are fighting their campaign on ground approved by the right-wing press and commentariat. Their use is meant to wind up the left and precipitate the kinds of splits that are meat and drink to the media.

That is why it is important for the Burnham campaign to push back against that agenda.

Dan, Dan The EU Own Goal Man

Those who look in regularly on Zelo Street will be familiar with the routine and serial dishonesty of nominally Tory MEP Dan, Dan The Oratory Man. What they may not appreciate is that his propensity for blazing trousers is now causing significant embarrassment to those campaigning for the UK to leave the EU following the upcoming referendum on membership. This, though, does not come as a surprise.
Sidelined in the run-up to the referendum?

The problem with Hannan’s dishonesty is that it has always been blatant, but is now becoming easier to pick apart. And in a long referendum campaign, every time he pulls a whopper, the opposition is going to be waiting for him: rebuttal, along with ritual humiliation, will be swift. He will end up as a figure of ridicule - that is, an even greater figure of ridicule than he is right now.

How blatant is Hannan’s dishonesty? Take his appearance back in 2009 before professional loudmouth Sean Hannity on Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse), when he claimed that the Obama reforms were “this massive state takeover of health care” (untrue), that the UK was “maybe a couple of years behind Zimbabwe” (ditto), and that the NHS, a “relic”, exercising “the power of life and death in a state bureaucracy" (ditto).

It got worse: he then claimed that the NHS was “not going to provide life saving medication to women with advanced breast cancer”, which was a “death sentence”. Those purchasing their own treatment outside the NHS, Hannan claimed, would be “cut off” from any treatment they were receiving. The NHS was compared to North Korea. The combination of eloquence and lies has also been on view more recently.

Dan declared via Conservative Home that Young Dave should introduce a Sovereignty Act, which would show to all the world that Parliament was indeed, er, sovereign. However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, Parliament would have to be sovereign in the first place in order to enact the legislation. Mark Elliott of Public Law For Everyone has set out this, and other, reasons why Hannan’s proposal makes no sense.

Yes, dismantling Dan’s whoppers is that straightforward. That may be why Autonomous Mind declared yesterdayEU Referendum: Daniel Hannan’s idiocy is damaging to the No side”. Particular exception was taken to an article Hannan had written for the Mail, where he asked “Will the United Kingdom be an independent nation, trading with its friends on the Continent while living under its own laws? Or will it be part of a country called Europe?

The post observes that the Mailgive column space of just under 2000 words to a well known person with a bit of prestige who is actually clueless about the EU and single market. They then sit back and let their guest contributor make factually incorrect claims that literally 10-15 seconds of checking expose as utter nonsense”. If that level of frustration is apparent now, it can only get worse if Hannan continues to sound off.

Problem is, how to persuade Dan to shut it. Over to you folks at the No campaign.

Top Six - May 31

So what’s hot, and what’s not, in the past week’s blogging? Here are the six most popular posts on Zelo Street for the past seven days, counting down in reverse order, because, well, I have domestic stuff to do later. So there.
6 Simon Danczuk Damns Liz Kendall Rochdale’s self-promoting and nominally Labour MP backed Ms Kendall for the Labour leadership. Thus the kiss of death.
5 Simon Danczuk Expenses Hypocrisy The MP representing part of the Metropolitan Borough of Rochdale, who engages in much London-centric activity, joined in the Sun’s attack on Andy Burnham’s expense claims. Except that Danczuk, surprisingly for a back-bencher, claims rather more.
4 Sun Human Rights Confusion The Super Soaraway Currant Bun wanted rid of the Human Rights Act. Except that they also wanted it to be there, when they needed to use it in court to defend themselves.
3 Sun’s IPSO Transgender Shame Even IPSO declined to wipe the Sun’s corporate backside over Rod Liddle’s nasty attack on blind and transgendered prospective Parliamentary candidate Emily Brothers. And the paper’s bullying and intimidation tactics didn’t work, either.
2 Littlejohn BBC Weather Lies Busted To no surprise at all, the Corporation was not advertising for a weather presenter, and not requiring them to have any qualifications other than a disability. It was just an advert for a training course.
1 Daily Mail Kos Shame The Mail’s scaremongering over refugees fetching up on the Greek island of Kos was real barrel scraping stuff. As usual.
And that’s the end of another blogtastic week, blog pickers. Not ‘arf!

Saturday 30 May 2015

Sun Pundit Countryside Fail

After getting so much else totally wrong recently, but with lots of time on her hands, a big mouth to shoot off, and access to social media, there are never too many opportunities for (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch to make a fool of herself. So after the alleged “British Bill Of Rights” failed to materialise, off she went on one over the possible repeal of the ban on hunting foxes with packs of dogs.
(c) Doc Hackenbush 2014

Now, here on Zelo Street there is no particular strong opinion on this one: I’ve heard both sides of the argument many times, but what is all too obvious is that Young Dave and his jolly good chaps have better things to do than waste Parliamentary time with the issue. The electorate might also take a dim view, given around 80% of them would like to see the ban remain. But in has waded Ms Mensch, to prove how much she doesn’t really know.
The Hunting Ban is the worst kind of vicious hypocrisy. Attack conditions in abattoirs not the natural deaths of hunting. Or cosmetic tests”. No thanks, I don’t want to look over there. Try again. “And by the way I can't ride a horse and I have never been on a hunt in my life. I just hate both double standards and anthropomorphism”. Whatever.
Here is what happened with the Hunting Act: Tony Blair wanted war in Iraq. He didn't have the votes. He traded the HA for those votes”. Bullshit. “That is an historical fact and it shows you how the left are motivated not by principle, but by sheer hatred of people not like them”. It’s only “an historical fact” in Mensch land. “The Hunting Act is not about animals it is about fifth-raters prioritizing an attack on country people”.
She’d know all about “fifth-raters”, of course. What about foxes, anyway? “Chickens run terrified. Foxes kill them for fun. They don't eat them. Just kill them … more than half the time there is no kill. I despair at the low to zero level of knowledge on hunting by townies”. But there are other ways of disposing of foxes, aren’t there? Er, she’s thought of that one: “Also, the hunt ban morons seem to think that farmers won't control the vermin that are foxes. They will. With deadly gas”. Eh? Sure about that?
A gassed fox can take days to tie”. Might even take days to die, too. Or perhaps they don’t use gas: “the entertainment derives from the chase not the kill. Otherwise we'd just watch poisoned foxes”. So they poison them? I’ve heard enough: time to put Ms Mensch straight. And as my witness, I call not some namby-pamby liberal townie, but an ardent Thatcherite well versed in all things Countryside, who also knows how to ride a horse.

Step forward Melissa Kite, who is also a Proper Journalist (tm). Ms Kite wrote a Comment Is Free piece for the Guardian back in July 2013, titledA short guide to the country for townies – as requested by David Gower”. Here, she describes (I thought it was hilarious, but if you’re squeamish, well, you’ve been warned) how her local gamekeeper had been called out to deal with a fox. He shot it. No gas, no poison. Bang. No hunt required. Dead.

Louise Mensch not only talks twaddle about how the Hunting Act came into being, she has bugger all knowledge of the countryside. Townies? That is exactly what she is. End of.

Daily Mail - More Kos Shame

After the mockery and claims of bigotry that followed its first refugee bashing story about those fleeing conflict across the Middle East fetching up on the Greek island of Kos, the Daily Mail has decided to show the world that there really is a problem with these foreign people, honestly. To this end, they have dispatched Sue Reid to craft a suitably loaded missive from the island. Ms Reid has, shall we say, form for this kind of thing.
Happy soul, isn't she? Mail hack Sue Reid

But first the article, “Bikinis, sun loungers... and a tide of despair: This week 1,200 migrants washed up on a Greek island beloved by British tourists. SUE REID went to investigate - and was shocked by what she found”. Of course she was - otherwise there would have been sod all point in her jetting off there at the Mail’s expense. That the body of the article does not live up to the headline billing should surprise nobody.

The holiday-makers feel uncomfortable as they peer at Ali Yagdoobi”. Ask any of them? No, thought not. But do go on. “So many migrants have slipped into the small Greek island that its 30,000 population is struggling to cope” [no citation]. Readers are told in hushed tones that the new arrivals “walk up and down the tourist beaches”! They “congregate on pavements”!! They “hang their washing to dry”!!!

Then we get the lies and smears: “Kos is renowned as a peaceful island … the Police force is tiny” [that means the refugees are potential criminals]. Many refugees “walk out of camps, refuse to be fingerprinted (citing their human rights) and vanish to a wealthier EU country”. Yeah, right. But this is just what the Mail ordered: Human Rights are A Very Bad Thing and they are only given to undeserving foreigners.

And, as the man said, there’s more: “From Athens, the migrants will slip out of Greece through the porous borders and make their way to Britain, Germany or Austria”. Really? Given that Greece has a land border with only one other EU member state, that may be a challenging proposition. But, guess what? “According to European intelligence agencies, IS is plotting — or may even have started — a ‘psychological attack’ on Europe by deliberately flooding the continent with half a million migrants”. Yeah, terrorists!

This is indeed a finely crafted article. But it’s finely crafted bullshit. Moreover, Sue Reid’s previous form in producing loaded copy to order includes the Mail’s most recent MMR scare. After that was published, a request by one of her correspondents to publish their email exchange brought, in reply, the threat of a libel action.

Nice person, Ms Reid. On top of that is her form for kicking migrants, as Five Chinese Crackers pointed out back in 2009 - from the scaremongeringMapping out the strain on your NHS: How one London hospital ward treated babies from 72 different nations around the world” to paying Polish people to break the law in their Polish registered cars, Sue Reid is very much the go-to migrant smear merchant of Northcliffe House.

Today’s hate-generating drivel is no different. This is another disgrace to journalism.

Katie Hopkins Finds A Friend

Things are looking up for pro-am motormouth Katie Hopkins, who has received some good news: “Controversial television personality Katie Hopkins has been cleared by police following a series of tweets that referred to Scots as 'sweaty jocks’ … The Sun columnist made the comments after Pauline Cafferkey, from Cambuslang, in South Lanarkshire, contracted Ebola”. Not sure about the “personality” bit, mind.
Viewers may want to look away now

Yes, Ms Hopkins got away with that one, as she got away - thus far - with her bigoted response to the refugee crises around the Mediterranean, her Holocaust-tinged smear of Mil The Younger’s wife Justine, and calling a nine year old with mild autism a “twat”. So this week it has been full steam ahead for the Hopkins offence machine, telling anyone who she deems overweight that they are going to die.

Proud fatties aren’t beach body ready … they’re body bag ready” sneered the headline in her latest Sun column, as she ranted “Just because they have decided to shove half the fridge in their faces and are proud of their bodies, we are supposed to fall about applauding their bravery”. Er, who? “Even on Britain’s Got Talent most of the acts are morbidly obese”. Dunno, I never watch that crap.
It’s certainly a novel approach: watching shows just so you can rant about how the participants don’t meet your particular expectations. Viewing just for hating. And it isn’t just those who are on the telly: “And quieten down you thudding great journalists (Bryony Gordon) banging on about how proud you are of your gigantean [?] body … Your over-eating is killing you, softly”. Thank goodness there is only one of her.

Well, that’s no longer true, unless you ignore the USA. Because Katie Hopkins’ brand of shameless attention seeking has, it seems, crossed the North Atlantic. Over in New York City, the desperation of one fading right-wing rent-a-rant has led to her becoming a disciple of the Hopkins Fat Hate Club: step forward Ann Coulter, whom Breitbart likes to call a10-time New York Times bestselling author”, but is in reality way past her best.
Ann Coulter ... even more desperate

Annie - who has previously asserted that school shootings would soon be a thing of the past if all the children attending them were armed - has been telling how things would be if she were put in charge of the USA’s immigration system. “When I’m in charge of immigration (after our 10 year moratorium), I will not admit overweight girls” she announced. Yes, she’s even more desperate than Ms Hopkins.

That was on the same show where “Coulter was asked by undocumented Ecuadorian immigrant Gaby Pacheco whether she could give Coulter a hug as ‘as a sign of my humanity and yours’ … Coulter rejected the request, saying she had a cold”. You could easily imagine Katie Hopkins reacting in the same way, given her likening of refugees to “cockroaches” recently. But it must be reassuring to know Katie has at least one friend.

Few in the USA take Ann Coulter seriously, though. The future for Katie Hopkins?

Friday 29 May 2015

Kelvin McFilth Bullies Gazza

The mood of concern at the level of damages awarded to those shown to have been systematically hacked by the Mirror titles has already been seen in comments by Daily Mail pundits. Now, former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie, who knows a thing or two about being up before the courts and being prevailed upon to pay damages, has joined in with a supremely mean-spirited attack on former footballer Paul Gascoigne.
£188,000? Gascoigne the wife-beater not worth £1.88” thunders the headline, as Kel claims erroneously that Gazza has in the past been “a flogger of his stories of woe to the popular press”. And, as Jon Stewart might have said, two things here. One, there is a difference between volunteering your story, and knowing the press would otherwise make it up anyway. And two, it does not justify the hacking. Especially if the Sun did it too.

Kel pauses only to call Mr Justice Mann “certifiably barmy” (mental health smears the usual trusty standby in the absence of facts) before urging readers to “look over there” at statutory awards for injury and then claiming “The Daily Mirror [it wasn’t just the Daily Mirror, Kel] must appeal as they will definitely see substantial reductions - hopefully to nothing in Gascoigne’s case”. Yeah, right. And then it is on to the judge.
MacKenzie is clearly horrified that there is so little public information available on Mr Justice Mann that he cannot dredge up any dirt on him (“Was he a family man? Won’t say. Was he married? Won’t say”). For Kel, it’s all about finding someone to smear, and that means ignoring Gascoigne having been systematically hacked for scores of times - which has contributed to the £188,000 award.

And Kel is the last person to be giving out advice on damages, as anyone who remembers his libelling of Elton John at the Sun (cost in damages: £1 million) will remember: “I think The Sun should have its million quid back. It hasn't damaged him at all, has it? Libel can only have a value if there has been some kind of damage, right? Where is the damage? Where? There's nothing wrong with him. So no, I don't feel bad about him, not at all”.

There’s expertise for you. And, as to the reliability of this attack on Gazza, readers should remember Kel’s other gems, for instance “Give me a Sunday for Monday splash on the Royals. Don't worry if it's not true - so long as there's not too much of a fuss about it afterwards” and justifying printing lies with “When I published those stories, they were not lies. They were great stories that later turned out to be untrue - and that is different. What am I supposed to feel ashamed about?” What indeed.

Kelvin McFilth clearly still has the same tenuous grip on reality that he increasingly exhibited at the Sun, and which ultimately led to his smearing Liverpool fans over the Hillsborough stadium disaster. He is unable to understand that Gazza’s life was turned upside down by the hacking and other intrusion. So he just smears him instead.

The result is cruel, thuggish and bullying. So no change over the years, then.

Flannelled Fool Carswell Fail

There were a number of anti-austerity protests in London on Wednesday. At one point, UKIP MP Douglas “Kamikaze” Carswell found himself the target of one group, who shouted abuse and jostled him. The Metropolitan Police escorted him to one of their vans to ensure his safety. Carswell asserted that the experience had left him somewhat shaken. Then the whole business was suitably amplified by one of his “friends”.
Behold the rictus grin of the buffoon Cole

One uses the quote marks advisedly, as the one doing the amplifying was the odious flannelled fool Henry Cole, tame gofer to the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog, who, rather than merely reporting what happened, decided to turn the incident into a slice of lefty-bashing and righteous moralising, with a post titledCross-Party Support For Carswell”, and highlighting his presence at the scene.

Yes, Master Cole can be seen in the background, pretending to be cool by wearing shades, and ostentatiously brandishing his gold iPhone, in perhaps unconscious tribute to one of Harry Enfield’s least appealing creations. The post ends with the line “Silence from the left, so far”, as if to suggest that there is some kind of presence out there called “the left”, which encompasses all of those rotten lefties he so dislikes.
Spot the poseur (Photo (c) AFP/Getty)

And it was at that point that the bullshit detector began to sound. If Cole thinks that any one part of the political spectrum has a monopoly on aggressive and intimidating behaviour, he is not, as they are wont to say on Merseyside, dealing from a full deck. Where was his condemnation when Jim Murphy got roughed up? How about when Mil The Younger got the same treatment, or when he had missiles thrown at him?

Moreover, Master Cole is no stranger to deploying intimidatory tactics on others, and at this point I would remind him that I still have that threatening email, thanks, together with the records of the shouty phone call that preceded it. And, as Zelo Street readers will know, he has recently, via his lawyers, issued a legal threat against me. The odious Cole has no room to bleat about intimidation from others.

On top of that, he and his pal Staines are no strangers to dishing out the physical rough stuff themselves, as Adam Bienkov discovered - and captured on video - when the pair barged into a Ken Livingstone photocall outside London Bridge station, which led to a camerawoman being knocked to the ground, and Staines engaging in a Derek and Clive tribute act when he got blocked by one of Livingstone’s team.

Zelo Street deplores intimidatory behaviour, whatever form it takes, and whoever engages in it, whatever their status or political stripe. This blog also deplores hypocrisy, pretentiousness, dishonesty, bullying, boorishness, misinformation, and the deliberate spreading of prejudice and ignorance. So it will surprise no-one to see adverse comment being passed on “pretend journalists” like the odious Cole.

He has no room to call thuggishness and intimidation on anyone else. End of story.

Littlejohn BBC Weather Lies Busted

Kicking the BBC is meat and drink to the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre and his obedient hackery at the Daily Mail, and likewise, spinning the results of their handiwork is the stuff of routine for their tedious and unfunny churnalist Richard Littlejohn. So when a job advert apparently seeking a weather forecaster who was disabled came along, they were all over it. Sadly, the dishonesty required to stand up the story was all too obvious.
Meteorology, Guv? Issa bit like weather, innit?!?

Weather presenter wanted, no qualifications necessary, must be disabled: BBC posts advert to find new forecaster and the only requirement is a disabilitywas the headline on Jenny Awford’s awful article. It went on “If you're looking for your first break as a weather presenter on national TV but have no relevant qualifications or experience you may be in luck … The BBC is on the hunt for a new face to present daily weather bulletins - but the only requirement is you must be disabled”.

That went up on Mail Online at 0918 hours yesterday. Eighteen hours later - time enough for a fact check to have been carried out - came Dicky Windbag’s magnificently bigoted headlineDisabled BBC weathermen? Bring back the bouncing dwarf”. Not that he’s prejudiced against those with disabilities, you understand.

Dicky Boy is in his element: “You might have thought that a complete lack of any relevant expertise or qualifications might be a bit of a drawback for anyone planning a career as a weather forecaster. But in the brave new world of the BBC, ability to actually do the job comes a distant second to having the right politics, gender, skin colour, sexuality, religion or disability”. And why does he think that might be?

The Corporation is obsessed with quotas - except at senior management level, which consists almost exclusively of white, predominantly-male, middle-class, Oxbridge-educated Guardianistas … They salve their own consciences and shore up their lavishly-rewarded, privileged positions by imposing strict ‘diversity’ targets on the lower orders, even if that means hammering square pegs into round holes”.

He never did make the grade at the Beeb, did he? But enough of this Gobshite-masquerading-as-man-of-the-people horseshit, it’s time to apply that fact check that always seems to elude Littlejohn. We can do this as the job advert that precipitated Dick’s latest pack of lies is available online (see HERE). “The BBC Academy is running a free training opportunity to provide an introduction to the world of weather presenting to help men and women with a disability feel comfortable appearing on television” it tells.

What about getting to present the weather forecast? Well, er, it’s not quite that simple: “You will be eligible to apply for future vacancies in the team”. Ah. After all, the heading on the advert - “BBC Weather Presenting Training” - does tend to give the game away. This is not about giving an unqualified person entry into a job just because of their disability.

It’s only a pity that Littlejohn never had the training course. The one on fact checking.

Thursday 28 May 2015

Daily Mail Kos Shame

I may not have been to the island since 2007, but yes, I have visited Kos, one of the Dodecanese islands most popular with British tourists. You can fly direct from most UK airports served by charter carriers, and the low costs serve it too. And I’ve travelled around most of the island. So one thing I do know is that the part of the Kos Town harbour front where the Police HQ is situated cannot be called a resort area.
Kos Town

That has not deterred the Daily Mail from taking advantage of the arrival of refugees on the island and trying to frighten the population. The headline is all too predictable: “How many more can Kos take? Holidaymaker misery as thousands of boat people from Syria and Afghanistan set up migrant camp to turn popular Greek island into 'disgusting' hellhole”. It’s a blatant misrepresentation of what is happening.

The Mail is not deterred by such thoughts: “Migrants are descending on the Greek holiday island of Kos. Some 1,200 refugees have arrived in the last few days … Penniless refugees have set up camp, sleeping on rubbish-strewn cardboard boxes the harbour side … They’ve taken over a derelict hotel with makeshift beds, no running water and are washing with a hose on the street … Summer break a 'nightmare' for British holidaymakers, who 'won’t be coming back if it's a refugee camp next year’”.

All of which tells you that there are still plenty of people willing to believe what the Mail serves up to them. The part of Kos Town where the refugees congregate - before moving on, which they do within a few days - is not, as the Mail suggests, a tourist beach. Those are situated to the north of the harbour, and the south-east. Moreover, most of the town’s bars and restaurants are well away from that area - not that the Mail is telling you.

No, what the Mail wants is for readers to take notice of the few “disgusteds” they have persuaded to give the paper quotes, such as one who told “I’m not going to sit in a restaurant with people watching you”. THERE ARE DOZENS OF RESTAURANTS IN KOS TOWN. TRY ANOTHER ONE. Any more comments? “We have never been before but we don’t like it … We won’t be coming back if it’s like a refugee camp again next year”.

Refugee camp”? Like Gaza? Or parts of Syria where the population is under bombardment and being starved? Not really, then. But the Mail is nothing if not determined: the article then shows a photo of the resort of Kardamena. The suggestion is that the refugees are here too. Bullshit. Kardamena is a long drive or bus ride from Kos Town. So is Kefalos. And Antimachia. And Marmari. And Mastichari, Pili and Tingaki.

And the airport is also well away from Kos Town. So the vast majority of UK holidaymakers will not know that there are refugees arriving and transiting there. But those who read the Daily Mail will know that their chosen paper is taking a mean-spirited view of those whose situation is so desperate that they are prepared to trust their lives to people smugglers and flimsy inflatable boats in order to flee conflict and reach somewhere more peaceful.

Shame on you, Mail hacks. And shame on those lazy and prejudiced enough to believe them.

Sepp Blatter - Dead Man Walking

[Update at end of post]

After the FIFA scandal broke earlier this week, and the coordinated action of law enforcement agencies in the USA and Switzerland came clear in a series of arrests and extradition requests, the focus has been on one man, Sepp Blatter. He is the head man at FIFA. Yet he appears to be trying to carry on as before, even going ahead with what he no doubt hopes will be his re-election tomorrow. And it’s a pointless charade.
(c) Steve Bell 2015

While the Guardian has noted thatNine senior officials at the organisation, as well as five sports media and promotions executives, were charged by US prosecutors on Wednesday over bribes totalling more than $150m (£100m) over 24 years. It followed the arrest of senior officials at a Zurich hotel and the announcement of a separate Swiss investigation into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups”, Blatter remains in place.
Perhaps he expects the wider world to believe that the organisation he leads can have indulged inrampant, systemic and deep-rooted” corruption, yet somehow he is not part of it. The Swiss authorities could summon him to help them with their enquiries as soon as next week. He must be away with the fairies if he thinks that he’s going to get away with this one. In any case, the decision may be made for him.
How so? “Fifa sponsors, including Adidas, Visa and Coca-Cola, are calling for the body to reform its practices. Visa issued a statement on Wednesday expressing its ‘disappointment and concern with Fifa’. It said that unless football’s world governing body rebuilds a corporate culture with ‘strong ethical practices’ at its heart, ‘we have informed them that we will reassess our sponsorship’”. That’s a threat to cut the money off.
If major sponsors ditch FIFA, and other footballing organisations like UEFA decide to shun it, there is very little point in it continuing its existence. And there is only one way in which it can signal to the outside world that it is going to rebuild that corporate culture with “strong ethical practices” at its heart - Blatter has to go. He appears to be getting the hint: this morning, he “dodged an appearance at a Fifa medical conference in Zürich”.
Typical of those representing national footballing organisations was Greg Dyke of the FA: “Blatter has put out a statement saying now is the time to start rebuilding the trust in FIFA. There is no way of rebuilding trust in FIFA while Sepp Blatter is still there. Sepp Blatter has to go. He either has to go through a resignation, or he has to be outvoted or we have to find a third way”. That means he has to quit today.

Dyke also pointed to the possibility that sponsors may walk away: “It will be interesting to see how many other sponsors come out and say things like this now”. Car manufacturer Hyundai is also, as they say, considering its position. There is an alternative to waiting on Blatter to go, of course - leave FIFA to implode of its own shame and start afresh. Either way, Sepp Blatter is a dead man walking.

His departure is the only way that FIFA can survive. He should be gone by later today.

[UPDATE 2 June 1800 hours: Blatter brazened it out, submitted himself for re-election, was re-elected, and began to carry on as if nothing had happened. But then something did happen.

What did I tell you? This afternoon, at a hastily arranged FIFA press conference in Zürich, Blatter appeared before the representatives of the world's press - and yes, he resigned.

As Zelo Street told last week, Sepp Blatter was a Dead Man Walking. Now he is gone. Is there more to come on FIFA? You bet there is]

Sun’s IPSO Transgender Shame

[Update at end of post]

Regular Zelo Street readers may remember the appalling slur doled out by the Sun’s grouchy contrarian pundit Rod Liddle to Labour’s then prospective Parliamentary candidate Emily Brothers, who is blind and transgendered, last December. Liddle, whose departure from the editor’s chair at the BBC Radio 4 Today programme came as a great relief to all those who wished it had happened earlier, was trying to be funny. And failing.
His exhibition of bigotry was as brief as it was straightforward: “Emily Brothers is hoping to become Labour’s first blind, transgendered MP. She’ll be standing at the next election in the constituency of Sutton and Cheam … Thing is though ... being blind, how did she know she was the wrong sex?” Laugh? I thought I’d never start. On Emily’s behalf, Trans Media Watch (TMW) complained about Liddle’s column.

And this is where the sheer arrogance of the press comes through: although the Sun allowed Emily Brothers a column in which to reply, and issued an apology from Liddle, “The newspaper accepted that the comment was tasteless, but denied that it was prejudicial or pejorative. It did not accept that the columnist had criticised Ms Brothers … rather, it had been a clumsy attempt to seek humour”.

What the Sun also declined to accept was that they had blatantly breached Clause 12 (Discrimination) of the Editor’s Code of Practice, which states “The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual’s race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability”. So what happened next?

TMW Chair Jenny Kermode: “IPSO required us to negotiate with The Sun for a minimum of 28 days first, but it soon became obvious that The Sun saw no reason to negotiate, initially claiming that the code it signed up to should not cover its columnists. We were also concerned by The Sun attempting to introduce third parties into the process, and then criticise us to those third parties. Talking about a complainant in this way is a clear attempt to intimidate them”.

Helen Belcher of TMW added: “About half of The Sun’s initial response to IPSO was attacking us and alleging ulterior motives. IPSO should be concerned that newspapers are attempting to intimidate complainants, especially when they insist on an initial 28 day mediation period. It is disappointing that IPSO has failed to address this important aspect despite us both mentioning it in the complaint and asking for the lack of comment in the ruling to be reviewed”.

And the IPSO verdict? “Regardless of the columnist’s intentions, this was not a matter of taste; it was discriminatory and therefore unacceptable under the terms of the Code … The complaint was upheld”. Yes folks, not even IPSO was prepared to wipe the Sun’s backside over such a blatant code breach. But the paper’s behaviour is worrying.

Intimidation of complainants is out of order. Claiming their pundits are somehow exempt from the Editor’s Code is equally so. And trying to wriggle out of saying sorry just makes it worse. I look forward to seeing the explanation put forward by managing editor Stig Abell and PR Dylan Sharpe - If there is one.

[UPDATE 1330 hours: the press' handling of Trans issues does not seem to be improving over time. At the suggestion of a regular reader, Zelo Street readers are reminded of the role of the Daily Mail's tedious and unfunny churnalist Richard Littlejohn in the sad saga of trans schoolteacher Lucy Meadows, who ultimately took her own life.

The attitude of Rod Liddle and his paper suggests little has changed in their understanding of Trans issues - or, perhaps, that should be the understanding that is transmitted to readers]

Wednesday 27 May 2015

Guido Fawked - FIFA Labour Smear Busted

In the classic English heist film The Italian Job, criminal mastermind Mr Bridger decides that the gang need the services of a computer expert, Professor Peach. Bridger’s gofer Camp Freddie is not sure the Prof will play: “What if the professor’s not bent?” he asks. Bridger does not miss a beat as he retorts “Camp Freddie, everybody in the world is bent”. Well, everybody in the world of FIFA, it seems.
Fart in lift Inquiry picks up the scent

As the USA applies for the extradition of several FIFA officials detained earlier today outside a five-star hotel in Zürich, the realisation is dawning that all those allegations made against the organisation over the years may have been made with good reason. The whiff of organised corruption had been hanging over it for years, and the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups merely made the smell yet more rank.
Handing the competition to Qatar, which has very little in the way of footballing tradition, and summer temperatures which, shall we say, are not exactly conducive to playing football, just put the lid on it. Gary Lineker, who knows a thing or two about football, was not surprised at today’s news: “There can't be a more corrupt, deplorable organisation on earth than FIFA. The house of cards is falling. Time for change!
And, with the Independent telling FIFA President Sepp Blatter could be up for an interview with the Swiss Police very soon, this is one individual that nobody wants to be seen with right now, especially, as Sporting Intelligence Tweeted earlier, Blatter had been prepared in the past to lavish praise on the likes of Jack Warner, who is one of those wanted by the authorities in the USA. So who had an interesting angle on Blatter?
Step forward the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, to try and smear the Labour Party on the back of the developing FIFA scandal. First up was the inevitable dig at Pa Broon, in a post titledFIFA Was Doomed”. Then came the equally predictable smear of Andy Burnham, in another jolly jape titledWho’s Ya Friend, Andy?” Laugh? I thought I’d never start.
So party leaders and those who might look to succeed them should not have been photographed with Sepp Blatter, right? However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, taking this to its logical conclusion, as Spike Milligan might have said, puts the Fawkes folks in a very difficult position. That would be because Labour is not the only party whose top names have been snapped with the FIFA chief.

For starters, there is Young Dave welcoming Blatter to 10 Downing Street. Jolly good sheow! And, as if that’s not bad enough for the Fawkes rabble, there’s Blatter at City Hall with their pal Bozza! Yikes readers!! Cripes chaps!!! Staines and his gofers are so useless at smearing, they can’t even have a dig at Labour without making themselves look daft. All that rabble working on content and it still won’t fly.

Still, keeps them occupied and out of trouble, I suppose. Another fine mess, once again.

Tory HRA Failure - Gove Dodges Bullet

The Tories won a majority in the General Election earlier this month. That meant they could bring forward a programme of Government free of the restraint imposed by any Coalition partner. So all their manifesto commitments could be enacted, including the repeal of the Human Rights Act (HRA). Young Dave placed this task in the hands of Michael “Oiky” Gove. Legislation was promised within 100 days. What could possibly go wrong?
Good at spinning but otherwise useless

Well, as several legal eagles have pointed out, quite a lot could go wrong. Quite apart from the inconvenient fact that repealing the HRA would not remove the possibility of judgments in the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) going against those made in UK courts, the Act had dependencies - such as the Northern Ireland Assembly, and devolved bodies for Scotland and Wales. And then came the realisation that the Tories had chickened out.
The Murdoch Times clearly had the inside track on what was being spun as a “delay for consultation” - no surprise there, as Gove was on the staff for several years - telling “Cameron blinks first in human rights row”. Note that, somehow, Dave gets the blame, while former Times man Gove gets off Scot Free. And it is Cameron, once again, who cops for the flak being fired off by the Super Soaraway Currant Bun.
European court puts terrorists & murderers first. Why is Cameron dithering over ending this farce” demands the Sun, demonstrating that lawmaking is not half as easy as shouting from the sidelines while lying very badly, before thundering “THEIR RIGHTS … OR YOURS?” which is complete crap, because, as any fule kno, human rights apply to everyone - even those who work at the Sun (see HERE).
Meanwhile, the Mail, not in the loop - one wonders how the relationship between the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre and Sarah Vine, aka Mrs Gove, is faring right now - was blaming any delay in the Tories enacting its preferred legislation on anyone in the acting profession who cared about their fellow human beings. “FOLLY OF HUMAN RIGHTS LUVVIES” roared the headline.
All of which meant that the Dacre doggies didn’t get it either. They, too, were rejoicing last October in what they saw as the imminent scrapping of an Act about which they had been systematically - and dishonestly - frightening their readers for years, before finding they needed it a few days later. And now they blame a few actors, while neglecting to tell their readers that the HRA will not be as easy to repeal as they have been led to believe.

As David Allen Green said two weeks ago: “Prediction: there will be no ‘British’ Bill of Rights to replace Human Rights Act in the Queen's Speech”. He was right: all that was in today’s Queen’s Speech was “My Government will bring forward proposals for a British Bill of Rights”. There will be no more than a “consultation”. The right-wing press will rail at campaigners, lawyers, judges, the ECHR, the EU, and anyone else in the way.

But “Oiky” Gove will continue to be the inept Teflon politician. Nothing will stick to him.