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Sunday 30 September 2018

Frances Barber Legal Threat ISN’T

Reality continues to pose difficulties for those who claim to be left of centre but who blanch at the prospect of seeing Jeremy Corbyn in power. And one of those having her own little local difficulty right now is actor Frances Barber, who has made a number of highly creative statements about today’s Labour Party, but then has become most indignant when called out for her own shortcomings by a Corbyn supporter.
Frances Barber - brain possibly not in gear. Again

Ms Barber, who has significant previous when it comes to losing it on Twitter, decided to pass severely adverse comment on the Labour conference, perhaps because the sight of so many people acting in concert was too much for her. “The Holocaust didn’t happen overnight. It was a drip drip effect of nasty non personing of Jews. Smears, unjust accusations, fringe groups, graffiti , equivalent of blogs. It’s happening now in front of our faces. The @UKLabour conference was like a mini Nuremberg”. Yeah, right.
But she wasn’t finished. “In turbulent times, certainly the most in my lifetime, I want to say to my family, I stood up to & against Fascism. I mean @UKLabour”. All very Nineteen Eighty Four - “increasing democracy equals fascism”. There was more. “It’s very important not to vote for @UKLabour. They are virtually BNP. But there are great MP’s on the back benches. I’m not going to vote @UKLabour for the first time in 40 years. Sad & angry”.
This attracted the attention of Jo Phillips, who shot back “To be fair Frances, given you got terribly upset when you thought Brighton Pavilion was a Mosque, I reckon Britain First or UKIP might be more your Party now anyway?” Ms Barber had not made such an assertion. But she had Retweeted someone who had. Twice.
Ms Barber was not impressed. So out came the threats. “A total lie. I’m contacting legal”. She has her own legal department? “You will be receiving a legal letter”. How terribly old fashioned of her. Ms Phillips then reminded her of those two RTs.
Ms Barber was not done, though. “Is she just pissed? Well I’m very pissed off. How dare she suggest such a thing. You think you can fling these wild lies around with no come back? Think again. TBC”. Yes folks, that’s Frances Barber, who admitted during a past Twitter row that she was, er, pissed. That was on the subject of another of her particularly nasty Islamophobic rants (it included accusations of beheading, rape and paedophilia).
She has also, in the past, used the Nice lorry attack as an excuse to smear the current Labour leadership, and on another occasion was accused of borderline racism when she described shadow home secretary Diane Abbott as a “hapless creature”.
All of which suggests that Frances Barber might have less chance of a successful legal action against Jo Phillips, and rather more chance of being referred to the precedent legal case of Arkell versus Pressdram 1971. That does lead to one inescapable conclusion.

She should stick to acting. Rather than acting the fool on Twitter.
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More Tommy Robinson Vigilantism

Perhaps emboldened by his triumphant appearance at the Old Bailey last week, Stephen Yaxlay Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, has once more indulged in a little justice of his own. This time, it’s vigilantism, and not for the first time. Perhaps he envisages another of those “polite conversations” when his all too easily impressed followers locate the individuals whose behaviour has incurred his displeasure.
Can anyone please help me identify these men. They were outside Luton football stadium yesterday handing out leaflets with total lies about me. Please direct message with information on who they are” told Lennon’s Facebook page. So what were the men up to?

They were, in fact, from Football Lads And Lasses Against Fascism, or FLAF for short. They are not Lennon’s greatest admirers. It seems they were handing out leaflets containing information which does not reflect well on Lennon’s character.

The part which has caused The Great Man severe discomfort is titled “Who is Tommy Robinson?” and tells “His real name is Stephen Christoper Yaxley Lennon. He is a convicted fraudster and former member of the BNP. People can change but not Yaxley Lennon. He’s a racist. One of his Tweets reads ‘What do you call a Pakistani that don’t smell? #asif”. Or perhaps that should be “One of his Tweets read”.
Because Lennon has since been banned from the platform. But there is more. “He formed the English Defence League, a virulently Islamophobic organisation led by racists and fascists. He led racist EDL marches and brawls across the country”.

It is not hard to see why Lennon is taking grave exception to the FLAF leaflet - he hates being characterised as a racist. What he also finds difficult, as Zelo Street pointed out recently, is to understand that others are entitled to their opinion, even if that opinion concludes that he is a racist. Instead of accepting that others enjoy the same freedom to think and speak as he does, he accuses them of lying.
Hence the Facebook call to incitement: Lennon is effectively calling on his followers to go after the FLAF. Moreover, what will happen as a consequence is unlikely to involve any of those “polite conversations”. Someone will get badly hurt, or worse, as a result.

You think I jest? The willingness of Lennon’s followers to accept his word as fact, to the exclusion of all else, is summed up by this comment left on that Facebook post: “The Establishment are so worried they have to resort to infiltrating (as they think) his supporters.. They really are so arrogant to believe that we are so gullible, to fall for this.. This highlights how little the Establishment considers the importance of our concerns and our intelligence to discern that they are withholding our Freedom of Speech”.
Establishment. Infiltrating. Withholding our Freedom of Speech. And, indeed, the inability to see that the truly gullible ones are those lapping up Lennon’s every word, believing his claim that only he and those of whom he approves speak “THE TRUTH”, that all others are therefore liars. And what about FLAF’s freedom of speech?

Ah, but that’s one of those questions that Lennon and his entourage don’t like to answer. This call to vigilantism and incitement is being notified to the Police.
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Tory Technology Tosspots TOASTED

In yet another case that you really couldn’t make up, the Tories, on the eve of their party conference in Birmingham, have shown the world how utterly inept they are when it comes to understanding the modern world. While today’s Observer tells “Tories demand urgent action to curb children’s social media use”, the Telegraph, to its credit, shows why The Blue Team is in no position to call out anyone on their use of technology.
Tory fury as party faces huge fine for ‘disgraceful’ data breach” howls the headline, echoing the anger in party ranks after their conference app was shown to be leakier than a worn-out colander. Guardian journalist Dawn Foster had discovered that it was possible to log in as anyone in the party with no more than an email address - no password required. The app was supposed to be the centrepiece of renewed Tory confidence on technology.
Now, party chairman Brandon “barrow boy” Lewis will not be quite so full of himself when he tells the faithful how great they are at tech. Not when Michael “Oiky” Gove’s photo on that app got replaced by one of Rupert Murdoch, and that of London’s formerly very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson by, er, well, let’s not go there.
We've now mastered this technology business. Or maybe not

But all of that is a mere hors d’oeuvres for the more substantial entrĂ©e that only begins with the potential of a whopping fine faced by the Tories for putting this horrendously insecure app out there. Because behind all of this is a king-sized can of worms for which some in and around the party have a lot of explaining to do.
What has already been unearthed suggests not merely ineptitude, but mendaciousness and the kind of unprincipled behaviour shocking even for the Tories. Peter Jukes of Byline Media kicked off this journey of discovery by telling “The uCampaign App, developed by a Ukrainian military veteran, funded by US billionaire close to #CambridgeAnalytica, specifically named in @DamianCollins DCMS with 'major privacy concerns'. And yet the Tory Party still used it”. Ey up, it’s Cambridge Analytica again. And there is more.
Thanks to @brexit_sham for podcast from the uCampaign app developer, Thomas Peters, we have DIRECT EVIDENCE #CambridgeAnalytica data was 1) Used by Vote Leave 2) Used by Trump and 3) Now deployed by the Conservative Party”. And then comes a connection that will raise more than a few eyebrows.
More on the uCampaign App: it's only a YEAR old. And was recommended by the editor of @ConHome”. The editor of Conservative Home. Mark Wallace. Who is an alumnus of the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance. A group led at the time by … Matthew Elliott, now mired in the illegal behaviour of Vote Leave. Connected to Cambridge Analytica.
Jukes had one more snippet of information to impart: “This app, with all its security flaws and lack of GDPR compliance was recommended to Conservative Activists. There was an incentive”. Points. And what do points make, viewers?
No prizes for guessing that the Tories would be in deep enough shit with just that, but what Privacy Matters has now unearthed makes matters potentially much worse. “The app … Embedded in the Conservative Campaigner ’the the official mobile app for supporters of The Conservative Party’ are four trackers”. What are their significance?
The trackers include Facebook Analytics, Facebook Login, Facebook Share, and Google Firebase Analytics - an issue right there”. Oooh, Facebook Login. Some serious potential for data harvesting there. And where is that data heading?
No mention of the app or any app in the privacy policy. No mention of Campaign - and WHAT data is uCampaign receiving as a result of the use of this app developed by them? NO Mention of tracking in the privacy policy - either with reference to the site or embedded in app”. Just exactly where your data is going, they’re not going to tell you.
What conclusion can be reached? “So what data exactly is being processed by the embedded trackers and for what purposes? What is the legal basis under the GDPR? Does the uCampaign as the developer of the app have access to that data or otherwise harvest it? Is the data held on uCampaign servers in the US?
Well, well ... look who's here

Some potentially seriously bad behaviour has been going on. Moreover, we can be reasonably certain that those indulging in that potential behaviour are not going to pony up an explanation voluntarily. The most unsettling aspect of this fiasco is not Bozza becoming, shall we say, an even more upstanding member. Nor is it the prospect of a £2 million fine.
It is the industrial scale data harvesting from, ultimately, millions more individuals without their explicit permission, and without their knowledge. Worse, some of those who may be involved have already been found to have participated in illegal enterprises.

The impression of criminality is inescapable. The Tories must not be let off this hook.
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Top Six - September 30

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 Tory MP Fruit Tariff Lies BUSTED Daniel Kawczynski made yet another totally untrue claim about EU tariffs, or in the case of most fruit and veg imported into the UK, lack of tariffs. The scale of Leave supporter ignorance is worrying.

5 Julia Hartley Dooda Mental Health Smear The self-promotion specialist got herself into yet more trouble with her cynical dismissal of a Labour Conference “Safe Space”.

4 Tommy Robinson Libel Claim ISN’T Stephen Yaxley Lennon was given a platform to air his views by Sky News. Now he claims he was stitched up and he’s going to sue them for libel. Except he isn’t.

3 Tommy Robinson Trial Approaches As his date at the Old Bailey drew nearer, Stephen Yaxley Lennon became clearly apprehensive, to the point of getting jumpy.

2 Tommy Robinson Publisher ARRESTED The man who runs a Muslim-bashing local paper covering the former constituency of murdered Labour MP Jo Cox, and who published Stephen Yaxley Lennon’s Enemy of the State, was hauled over by armed Police. Armed cops don’t turn out for routine traffic stops. Curiouser and curiouser.

1 Luciana Berger And Police Protection Whatever the threats to the Liverpool Wavertree MP, they did not come from delegates to the Labour Conference.

And that’s the end of another blogtastic week, blog pickers. Not ‘arf!

Saturday 29 September 2018

Tommy Robinson Libel Claim ISN’T

When Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, rocked up on my doorstep in the dead of night last year, he claimed it was because I had “written lies” about him. He objected to being called a racist. The problem for Lennon with this allegation was twofold: one, that I could very easily back up my assertion, and two, that this was in any case my opinion, to which I was entitled. He confused opinion with fact.
His opinion is that he is not a racist, and that is fair enough, but it still does not make his claim a fact. Lennon’s difficulty telling opinion from facts was therefore well established before he made the rash decision to take legal action against Sky News for the heinous crime of giving him a platform for his views. And no, I am not making this up.

Lennon was interviewed at some length by Jason Farrell. Sky News broadcast an edited version of the interview; the channel also made the unedited version available to Lennon. His team also videoed the interview process. This allowed him, after the edited interview was broadcast, to claim that Sky had stitched him up, that he was once more the victim of “Fake News”. This duly fired up his followers. But he was not content with that.

After appearing to shrug off inconvenient opposing thought yesterday, telling his followersI learned a long time ago to not worry about what people call you and instead just say what needs to be said”, the mood changed and he decided he would sue.
I will be taking Sky News and @JasonFarrellSky to court for Libel. They have spread false headlines across the world. Changing the words, I said in the interview to give a different context and even taking an answer I gave to a completely different question and editing it directly after a voice over where they portray to the viewers they had asked me a completely different question!” And there was more.

Even if you do not support me, you need to watch this video to see how the media manipulate you! This is a disgrace and you MUST SHARE #Fakenews #Propaganda #EnemyOfThePeople”. Ri-i-i-i-ight. Let’s take this one nice and slowly.

One, Lennon would have to show that what Sky News published was factually wrong - not just wrong in his opinion. A court of law is most unlikely to hear him calling “liar” on Sky News and nod in agreement. He would have to demonstrate, conclusively, that what they did was wrong, and that there was intent to defame.
Two, a significant part of this concerns Lennon’s reputation. The problem here is that, with a string of convictions and a well-documented history of violent thuggery, it is likely that any court would conclude that he does not have a reputation worth damaging.

Three, he may encounter some difficulty in getting a lawyer willing to take his case - not without him, or someone on his behalf, ponying up a substantial sum of money first.

And Four, as Sky News would no doubt also claim a fair comment defence, as well as pointing out that Lennon’s opinion does not equal fact, there would be only one outcome.

And that would see Stephen Lennon and his lawyers referred to the precedent legal case of Arkell versus Pressdram 1971. I’ll just leave that one there.
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Gisela Stuart Sinecure SLAMMED

After last year’s General Election, when she stepped down as an MP and her supposedly marginal seat suddenly became safe Labour territory, Gisela Stuart, one of very few Leave backers in the Parliamentary Labour Party, joined the closed world of the Pundit Establishment, appearing on TV to give viewers the benefit of her views. She was taken on trust, despite the increasing amount of evidence showing her team cheated.
No comment

Ms Stuart was a principal of Vote Leave, which not only broke the rules, but persistently lied about it. So it might have been thought that she would now keep a low profile, especially as investigations into Vote Leave’s activities are ongoing. But not a bit of it: last week, she was announced as the new chair of Wilton Park, “an executive agency of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office providing a global forum for strategic discussion”.
And while Ms Stuart was quick to tell the world of her new appointment, others were not so enamoured of the news. After her former Vote Leave partner in crime Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson had exclaimed “A wonderful appointment!” came the bad news.
Fionna O’Leary put her concerns directly. “You must be joking. You on the Governance Committee of Vote Leave that have been found guilty of a want of good governance by the EC AND the High Court. Wilton Park that, in Feb 2017 used SCL Elections/CA to present on its Trump psy-ops campaign? Bent as a nine-bob note”. Ouch!
Carole Cadwalladr was equally unimpressed. “Oh right. Here it is. Vote Leave conspired to break the law. @BorisJohnson fronted the campaign. He knew. @GiselaStuart chaired the campaign. She kept her mouth shut. STINKS”. It certainly does.
Meanwhile, Steve Peers had another reason not to endorse Ms Stuart’s appointment: “A terrible decision. Ms Stuart - who was involved with an organisation that broke electoral spending law, and chaired an inquiry into the rights of EU citizens then voted against the results - is wholly unfit for public office”. And it got worse.
Lib Dem MP Tom Brake mused “Strange choice, Gisela Stuart, as Chair of Wilton Park … Wilton Park 'encourages innovation in global thinking’ … Gisela Stuart didn't do much of that during the EU Referendum campaign”. This, sadly, is true.
The Tweeter known as Facts Central also brought up Cambridge Analytica, SCL and AIQ: “Just to make sure I got this right … The same Gisela Stuart who used [the] Canadian office of SCL/CA, aka AIQ at Change Britain, is now the Chair of Wilton Park, FCO training that used SCL Elections/CA?” All rather incestuous, isn’t it?
And Jon Worth, looking on from Berlin, concluded “Wilton Park is the U.K. Government’s location for *thinking* about foreign policy … Thinking is not something one associates with Gisela Stuart … Chair of the corrupt Vote Leave is more what springs to mind … What a sign to the world, eh, Britain?” A terrible advert for Britain.
But it’s clear that Gisela Stuart knows all the best people. Well, the best ones for getting her a job that she does not appear to merit, that is. Welcome to the Corrupterati.
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Facebook Censorship Shame

For Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, life may be excellent, what with all those billions sloshing around, and so many opportunities to indulge in yet another pointless exhibition of conspicuous consumption. But the deficiencies of the product which has generated those ill-gotten gains keep on being exposed. And what is worse, Facebook gives the impression of not wanting the world to know about them.
As the BBC has reported, “Facebook says almost 50 million of its users were left exposed by a security flaw … The company said attackers were able to exploit a vulnerability in a feature known as ‘View As’ to gain control of people's accounts … The breach was discovered on Tuesday, Facebook said, and it has informed police … Users that had potentially been affected were prompted to re-log-in on Friday”.

There had been a massive data breach, affecting 50 million Facebook users. But, although it had been discovered last Tuesday, it was only three days later that those users found out about it. It might have been thought that matters could not get worse for the company - but get worse they did, as accusations of censorship were made.
As TechCrunch has told, “Some users are reporting that they are unable to post today’s big story about a security breach affecting 50 million Facebook users. The issue appears to only affect particular stories from certain outlets, at this time one story from The Guardian and one from the Associated Press, both reputable press outlets”.
There was more. “When going to share the story to their news feed, some users, including members of the staff here at TechCrunch who were able to replicate the bug, were met with the following error message which prevented them from sharing the story … According to the message, Facebook is flagging the stories as spam due to how widely they are being shared or as the message puts it, the system’s observation that ‘a lot of people are posting the same content.’” The problem was later “resolved”.
But, as Jon Stewart might have said, two things here. One, as Paul-Olivier Dehaye has pointed out, “So there the hack has the potential to hit all of those 50M users' friends. Even when estimated conservatively, that must include entire countries, and almost certainly the entire US”. It’s not just about 50 million users, but a lot more. And they sat on it for days.
And two, as the Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr put it after the “accidental” censorship of the Guardian and AP, “Facebook will say ‘this is an AI glitch’. And it probably is. (IS IT?) But just think about future consequences. It doesn't matter if it's Facebook's decision...or Facebook's AI's decision. It's still power. It's still chilling”.
Dead right it is: Facebook has the power to censor news that is inconvenient to Facebook. It has around two billion active accounts. So many in the developed world use it. And when it wants to, it can censor what is supposed to be guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Yet some of our popular press - hello Murdoch mafiosi, I’m looking at you - declined to even mention this on their front pages. And that after all the “press freedom” whining.

Facebook’s power of censorship should worry us all. This is a beast out of control.
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