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Tuesday 30 April 2019

Rachel Riley Man United Claim BUSTED

[Update at end of post]

The mystery of Stop Funding Fake News - like, who is behind it and where it is based - deepens with the news that the most recent claims made for the campaign by Countdown numbers person Rachel Riley appear not to be true. As Zelo Street regulars will recall, SFFN lists its alleged successes under the heading “The following brands have said they will exclude The Canary, Evolve Politics, Politalite, Westmonster and Rebel Media from their advertising”. A whole load of well-known names are then listed.
Questions for whoever is behind this campaign ...

One of those is Manchester United Football Club, and it was from their Old Trafford stadium that Ms Riley told “I am at Old Trafford, and I just want to say a huge Thank You to Manchester United ahead of the derby. They’ve agreed to stop funding Fake News. They are total legends. I love you … my club. Thank you Man United”.
... and questions for her ...

There was one problem, though: no confirmation had been issued by the club that they had done what Ms Riley had claimed. So Simon Maginn Tweeted “Hi @ManUtd. Can you confirm or deny you've withdrawn advertising from certain websites as @SFFakeNews and @RachelRileyRR have reported? Thanks” to the club feed.
... over the claim made in this video

He then followed this up with an email, to which the club has now responded. And that response is very bad news indeed for Ms Riley. “Miss Riley is not an official ambassador or representative of Manchester United and we therefore cannot comment on her personal opinions.  Her comments and actions in no way reflect that of the club, however your comments have been noted and passed on to the relevant department”.
That, in not so many words, is MUFC dissociating itself from Rachel Riley. So it has to be concluded that the statement she made, to camera, outside Old Trafford is at best unproven, and at worst totally untrue. Or, as SFFN likes to call it, Fake News. That puts both of them in what Spike Milligan might have called A Very Difficult Position.
Simon Maginn was not impressed, and has Tweeted to Krishnan Guru-Murthy of Channel 4 News “Hi @krishgm … Thought this might interest you … You gave a long and respectful interview with @RachelRileyRR in January. It turns out she's lied outright. Her 'stop funding fake news' campaign turns out to be - well, fake news … Do you have any regrets about giving her a platform?” The response will make for interesting reading.
Meanwhile, Stop Funding Fake News has one rather obvious course of action it has to take if it wants to retain any last shred of credibility. For every one of those names it cites as having pulled advertising from the five sites listed, it must provide some form of citation as proof. An email or Twitter confirmation of the action will be sufficient.
Should SFFN be unable to provide that evidence, then the names concerned must be removed from its list of successes - accompanied by a suitably worded apology for having used them in the first place. Failing that, it could only be concluded that SFFN is not a credible campaign, and does not warrant taking seriously.

Where that leaves Rachel Riley’s credibility, and her standing with Channel 4, is for them to figure out. This campaign has developed not necessarily to her advantage.
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https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/zelostreet3

[UPDATE 1755 hours: Rachel Riley has now told "There’s some fake news circulating re so here’s a touch of truth and a whole lot of goodness to counter more lies. Love my reds! ". She has referred to a Tweet from the Stop Funding Fake News feed.
This reads "Once again, we're so grateful to for standing up to the lies & bigotry of fake news websites by blacklisting them from the club's advertising ... This email is going straight up on our wall!" Attached is a redacted email from a Manchester United address.
So let me put Ms Riley and SFFN straight.

1 Calling "Fake News" and "Lies" does not make the target Fake or untrue, unless there are facts to back up the claim. This applies equally to her claim of "Truth".

2 If she is referring to this blog, she should say so.

3 The redacted email, as can be seen, refers to websites being blacklisted. However, it does not say which websites these are. It does not show what evidence was offered up to the club, or even whether the blacklisting is club policy. It does not tell us who is being addressed in the email.

4 The only conclusive evidence is to release the whole email thread. All of it. So we can see which sites were referred to, whether they had the club's advertising in the first place, and why any blacklisting should take place. Thus far, SFFN and Ms Riley have done plenty of name-calling, but provided precious little in the way of factual evidence.

As Zelo Street regulars will know, this blog deals in facts first and foremost, whatever abuse may accrue from those made uncomfortable. It would help SFFN and Ms Riley immeasurably if they were to do likewise]

Carl Benjamin In Anti-Semitism Storm

These are difficult times for Carl Benjamin, who styles himself Sargon of Akkad, as he strives to keep his candidacy for the European Parliament elections on the road, while fending off inconvenient questions about his past statements. Moreover, his problems are not restricted to the hit piece the Mail on Sunday executed last weekend, but now include serious and credible accusations of anti-Semitic behaviour.
Benjamin has a habit of dressing up his prejudices as justified because he is only pointing out “institutional privilege”. Hence his claim that it is OK to call Asian people “Chinks” “Because Asians are privileged. In almost every walk of life, Asians make more money [what does that remind you of?], they have better results, and they do better in life than me, just a dumb-ass cracker. So when Asians are filling up all of those top spots in better proportion than white people [?] you have to understand you have institutional privilege”.

That stance is now getting him into a whole lot more trouble, after BuzzFeed News reported that Benjamin had discussed Jewish people during an appearance in New York City last year. After starting off with “Jewish people do very well in our societies. That’s to their credit, they work hard. It’s not that this is illegitimately gained”, it all went wrong.

He just had to be EDGY. “But then I can see why people are resentful that successful, rich, well-off people, who are well connected, who are socially very advanced, are then playing the game of identity politics as well. I can see why it doesn’t seem fair. It seems like an unfair defence, an unfair advantage that they have. If someone were to say, ‘Well that’s anti-semitic thing to say,’ it would sound to me like someone criticising feminism and being called a misogynist. To me it’s just another brand of identity politics”.
Could it get worse? “Jewish people are very smart, they work very hard, of course they’re successful, if we want to even have any idea that we’re living in a meritocracy, if Jews weren’t succeeding in our societies they must be being held back. But they’re not, they’re doing great, because they’re not being held back, because they do work hard, because they are smart. We need Jewish people, unfortunately for them, have got to drop the identity politics. I’m sorry about the Holocaust but I don’t give a shit. I’m sorry”.

The Jewish Chronicle was clearly, and justifiably, unimpressed. “Ukip candidate Carl Benjamin accused Jewish people of 'identity politics' over the Holocaust … Controversial alt-right YouTuber revealed to have said 'I don't give a s***' about the Shoah”. What Benjamin said was not “edgy”. It was blatantly anti-Semitic.

Jewish News was also unimpressed. “UKIP candidate: ‘I’m sorry about the Holocaust but I don’t give a s***’ … Carl Benjamin has employed racial and homophobic slurs in YouTube videos, including antisemitic tropes about Jews”. No doubt Benjamin will be able to justify his comments by claiming that it’s all about FREEZE PEACH and maybe even “Satire”.

Meanwhile, those who can smell racist bigotry at forty paces will already have made their own minds up. To paraphrase Steve Bray, it’s not going very well, Kippers, is it?
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Tommy Robinson Website BREAKS THE LAW

The travails of Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, as he tries to become a real politician and campaign as an Independent candidate for the forthcoming European Parliament elections, continue as he and his team have to apply stickers to all those election leaflets that did not contain the required imprint. But his problems in that area are not over yet: there is also the matter of his election website.
Fortunately for Lennon, the “Vote Tommy” website at least has the required imprint information at the foot of its home page. His problem is that there is something potentially more serious missing, and that is to do with Data Protection law.

Lennon’s election website solicits, and therefore gathers, personal data. There are no fewer than nine opportunities on that home page to “Join the movement” - all of which direct the user to a “Sign Up” page. There, users are asked for their first and last names, email address, mobile phone number, and address. Personal data. Being harvested by Lennon’s campaign. But for what purpose we are not told.

That is because the website is missing a Privacy Policy. So we don’t know what Lennon’s campaign is doing with all that personal data. The problem he has is that the law says that users must be given that information, should they request it.

On the basis of the Information Commisioner’s definition of personal data, the Vote Tommy website is classed as a Data Processor. It must tell users how long personal data will be held, and this cannot be an open ended period. It must also tell those users how the data will be stored and where - and what it will be used for.
How do users make a Subject Access Request? How, and to whom, do they complain if they believe their data is being misused? None of this is shown. Because the Privacy Policy, which would contain all this information were it present, is not there.

Then there is the problem with cookies. Does the Vote Tommy site use them? And if it does, where is the cookie acceptance feature? It was almost as if whoever designed the website were unaware of the law on such matters. Visitors to that site must be told if it uses cookies, and given the option to accept cookies. It’s not there.

Whether that is against electoral law is not known, but it is certainly against current law on data protection. So he and his team should have no problem with the Information Commissioner’s Office being made aware of the shortcomings, as well as the Electoral Commission. In the meantime, he needs to address the problem.

That’s if he’s serious about running for office. I’ll just leave that one there.
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Monday 29 April 2019

Brillo Bum Steer - Ofcom Says No

Accompanying the disquiet at the BBC’s bizarre framing of the Spanish election results has been a judgment from Ofcom into complaints made against the Corporation almost exactly two years ago, and involving its best known political interviewer. The upshot is that, once again, viewers’ faith in the Beeb is shaken, and the reputation that interviewer has for having facts at his fingertips begins to look just a little suspect.
As i News has told, “A BBC interview in which Andrew Neil called Scottish primary school children ‘functionally illiterate’ misled viewers and was a serious breach of the broadcasting code, Ofcom has ruled … The watchdog upheld complaints over the Sunday Politics exchange between the BBC presenter and former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond, which took place in the run-up to the May 2017 general election”.

Do go on. “Debating the record of the Scottish administration, Neil asked: ‘If services have been so well protected, why after a decade of SNP rule do one in five Scots pupils leave primary school functionally illiterate?’”. There was only one problem: Brillo was wrong. Worse for the Beeb, “The contention was pressed again during the interview”.
Alex Salmond - presented with misleading question

Then comes the really bad news for the BBC. “However the BBC accepted that the figure was drawn from the 2009 Scottish Survey for Literacy and Numeracy, which was not the most recent research into school attainment, and should not have been quoted in the programme … Furthermore, it ‘should have been made clear that the phrase “functionally illiterate” was not used in that report and that its source was the education spokeswoman of the Scottish Conservatives.’Quoting Tory party propaganda as fact.

The regulator was unimpressed. “Ofcom ruled that Mr Neil ‘misrepresented statistics on literacy among Scottish primary school children in a way that would have had the potential to affect negatively and erroneously viewers’ understanding’ … Ofcom also said it was ‘concerned that the BBC did not act sooner to correct the statement’ during an election period and should take action to improve its response to complaints during elections”.
Brillo, to no surprise, does not accept that he seriously misled anyone. Sadly, it’s Ofcom and not Ipso that he’s arguing against, and so his pleading will get him nowhere. But it’s not just the BBC that gets negative feedback here. So does Ofcom.

As Jim Waterson of the Guardian put it, “Ofcom has published an *18 page* investigation into a disputed Scottish education statistic mentioned by Andrew Neil on the BBC’s Sunday Politics on *30 April 2017*, after a viewer complained. (Ofcom concluded it did mislead viewers. But that’s a long time to rule on one claim.)” Two years, in fact.
Small wonder that Dan Sabbagh responded to Waterson “Good thing they don't regulate politicians”. Well, quite. Even less politics would get done, if such a thing were imaginable in the current climate. But more bad news for the Beeb, and it will come as no surprise to seasoned Zelo Street regulars: Brillo has been here before (see HERE).

As Steve Bray might have put it, it’s not going very well, is it? Must try harder, BBC.
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BBC Far-Right Promotion PANNED

Voters in Spain went to cast their votes yesterday for the third time in four years, as the centre-left PSOE sought to gain sufficient seats to allow them to govern more effectively. Other factors were thought to be the vulnerability of the centre-right People’s Party, and the possibility of far-right Vox winning seats in the national Parliament for the first time.
Plaza de Cibeles, Madrid
Arc de Triomf, Barcelona

Later, the Guardian declaredSocialist PSOE wins general election. With more than 99% of votes counted, the socialist party, PSOE, has won Spain’s 2019 general election and looks set to enter negotiations with Podemos to form a leftwing coalition government with prime minister Pedro Sánchez as leader. PSOE won 123 of the 350 seats in parliament”.
But over at the BBC, the framing of the result on last night’s main news bulletin dismayed many. Amy, who lives in Barcelona, was not happy: “BBC news coverage of the Spanish election: 5 mins gleefully talking about Vox and the rise of the far right, interview with Vox. No mention of the massive gains by the left, no interviews with anyone from the four parties who won far more seats”. Nor was Hispanophile Paul Bower: “To listen to the BBC you would think Vox won the Spanish elections. They got 10%. The centre left PSOE got 29% snd the radical left Podemos got 14%”. They were not alone.
After last night's BBC News bulletin I had to check the result of the Spanish general election, as the emphasis was on how well the fascists had done. The far right Vox party came 5th out of 5, winning half the number of seats they were expected to win” … “@BBCNews Spanish elections … ’Socialists failed' says the BBC … Then a long piece on VOX 'success' quoting its leaders fascist rhetoric” were typical.
Some added a British parallel: “Why is BBC NEWS so keen to distort the truth about the Spanish election in which social democracy was shown to be alive and thriving? Why is BBC infatuated with hard right extremists  such as Vox and the Brexit party?” Radio 4 did it too: “Radio 4, they were arguing with an expert on Spanish politics who said that Vox were just disaffected conservatives and hadn’t made much of a difference. ‘But it is different, because they are doing all this stuff...’ would be a good summary of BBC response”.
This lack of enthusiasm at the line taken continued: “I appreciate Vox is the biggest gainer in the Spanish elections, but given they still came 5th I'm not convinced it was appropriate for the BBC to mention almost nothing else during the lengthy segment on the News at 10 covering the election” … “BBC news on #Spain last night, concerned that  Vox voters won't get what they voted for. How dreadful! No mention that Socialists came out on top. Who is running the #BBC these days?” Perhaps that should be “Who sets the Line To Take?
Kevin Dunn noticed that. “Note the language on #BBCNews about the #Spain election: a far-right ‘breakthrough’, ‘surge’, ‘resurgence’. But #Vox actually got less share of the vote than UKIP did in the 2015 UK general election. Who is constructing the #BBC's narrative?” And Sunder Katwala summed it up: “BBC main TV news - opens on Vox winning seats - then correspondent says we can't say far right is the story, as they came 5th - then a report mainly about Vox, Franco & bull-fighting - brief passing mention of the result being left winning ‘leaving many alienated & resentful’”. Oh dear, BBC!

Perhaps we should brace ourselves for the alternative version when Portugal - another potential centre-left gain - goes to the polls later this year. This is not good enough.
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Tommy Robinson Breaks Electoral Law AGAIN

Since he decided to run for election to the European Parliament as an Independent candidate for the North West region, the campaign of Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, has developed not necessarily to his advantage. Quite apart from his no-show for an appearance at Salford Quays yesterday amid rumours that he was not taking the whole thing seriously enough, there is the problem of electoral law.
Lennon is infamous for not playing by the rules; his defiance of the landowner’s refusal to grant permission for his launch event in Wythenshawe to use the area it eventually did use is typical. But in election campaigns, not playing by the rules can end up with candidates being fined, disqualified or even jailed. So he’s having to adapt.

Problem is, he’s not adapting very well: as his launch event, Lennon had to be warned by the Police that handing out free food counted as “Treatingand could be considered an attempt to buy votes. He had to desist. Worse, there were suggestions of foreign sponsorship, which is also illegal, and is still being investigated.
On top of that has come a major howler with his election leaflets, which aren’t. Well, they exist, but do not comply with those pesky rules. Why so? Election leaflets, and indeed any election correspondence, has to contain what is called an Imprint. Here’s what the rules tell candidates about what an Imprint has to say.

It is an offence for a printer or promoter to publish printed election material without an Imprint”. So what’s an Imprint? “An Imprint on candidate campaign material should look like this: ‘Printed by [printer’s name and address] … Promoted by [Agent’s name and address] on behalf of [Candidate’s name and address]’”. All very straightforward.
But Lennon’s leaflets don’t meet those simple criteria. So it was no surprise that Lennon’s leaflet, titled “Vote Tommy … Send Them A Message They’ll Never Forget” provoked Nick Lowles of Hope Not Hate to respond “@gmpolice and @ElectoralCommUK please take action against #TommyRobinson’s illegal leaflet. The imprint does not met the legal requirements”. Lennon’s fans weren’t happy. But Lowles is right.

As the Tweeter known as JayT pointed out to one of them, “Regardless of your feelings about Mr Lowles/HNH - the law is the law. These things are easy to access and are there for all to see - just go to the Electoral Commission website; don't understand why Tommy didn't, unless he thinks he's above the law”. Also, another thought entered.
Lennon has said on more than one occasion that he has never voted in his life. It’s more than likely that he and his team have never been involved in running an election campaign before. Moreover, he appears not to have bothered hiring a professional agent.

All of which has culminated in what is now potentially three breaches of electoral law. He officially declared his candidacy last Thursday, and he’s achieved that in four days flat.

Combine that with not bothering to turn up to his own event yesterday, and you have a campaign going approximately nowhere, and fast. Just rejoice at that news.
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Sunday 28 April 2019

Nick Ferrari’s Best Endeavours AREN’T

Actually, I have been in and around the newspaper business for about 50 years … never has the mainstream media been more important, because while I respect what people like that [gestures at Kerry-Anne Mendoza] are doing … don’t forget that when you go to these sorts of utterings, which many times are like the mad ramblings of the man on the top deck of the bus speaking into his hand, they have no journalistic backup whatsoever”.
So spoke, or perhaps that should be ranted, LBC’s Gammonmeister Nick Ferrari. And he had this to say in defence of that MSM: “That is why we need to keep journalists, like the people who work on this show … who work on my radio show on LBC, because when you hear it from us, it will be true or to the best of our endeavours it will be true”.

Even then, this was a campaign destined to develop not necessarily to his advantage. So it is now, as Ferrari’s latest offering for the joke newspaper otherwise known as the Sunday Express shows. “Last week saw the unedifying spectacle of a gaggle of desperate MPs queuing up to be berated by that Princess of the eco-activists, teenage Swedish climate campaigner Greta Thunberg” he sneered. And there was more.
With such a ‘right on’ following, it was to be expected that our politicians would be prepared to crawl over broken glass to get ‘an audience’ with this modern day Joan of Arc”. As opposed to crawling to Bozza, for instance. But do go on. “Wonder if she'd have been afforded the same salutations had she been a 16-year old Leave campaigner?” She’d have had Peter Hitchens fawning over her in the Mail on Sunday, actually.

Then come the best of his endeavours. “When she did speak she labelled our achievements in cutting carbon emissions ‘beyond absurd’. She dismissed official figures that Britain has cut emissions by 37 per cent in 30 years as ‘very creative carbon accounting’ and blasted us for a ‘mind-blowing historical carbon debt’ … Rather than making the case that, while it could go further, the UK has taken this issue far more seriously than virtually any other nation, our pitiful politicians nodded in submission”.
Rather than bothering to ask what Ms Thunberg meant by “very creative carbon accounting”, he means. Because the UK has indeed been most creative. This from the Guardian, just three days ago: “The UK is breaching the Paris agreement on climate change by excluding international aviation and shipping figures from carbon budgets, according to a leading NGO”. Which means what, exactly?

Andrew Murphy, of the Transport & Environment NGO … said this had to change. ‘Aviation has been kept off the books … We believe the Paris agreement is clear that international aviation and shipping should be included in national climate targets’ … Caroline Lucas, the Green MP, said the problem of aviation emissions was going to get worse in the UK”. That’s why she was applauding Ms Thunberg.
But Nick Ferrari couldn’t be bothered to do five minutes’ Googling before ranting. And he has the brass neck to sneer at The Canary. The best of his endeavours clearly isn’t good enough. Thus another press dinosaur waddles towards its inevitable extinction.
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Anti-Semitism - It’s The Far-Right, Stupid

The refrain from so many in our free and fearless press, supported by some MPs and a scattering of minor Slebs, is that anti-Semitism comes from the left, and especially from the Labour leadership. This attempt to pin hatred on Jeremy Corbyn - a lifelong anti-racist - has to an extent been copied by right-leaning pundits in the USA. All of these people had one problem in common: they were looking the wrong way.
Anti-Semitism in its most common, and indeed deadliest form, comes not from the left, but from the right, and especially the far-right. This was brought home to anyone prepared to listen when Robert Bowers murdered worshippers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA, last October. Those he killed had gathered to mark the Shabbat. Bowers was a far-right activist. And now has come another Synagogue killing.
As the BBC has reported, “A gunman opened fire at a synagogue in California on Saturday, killing one woman and wounding three other people, police said. A 19-year-old man named as John Earnest was arrested after the attack, in Poway, north of the city of San Diego. The synagogue had been hosting a Passover celebration when the gunman burst in, reports said”. Earnest had one other possible attack to his credit.

Guess what that was? “Authorities later said Mr Earnest was under investigation in connection with a fire at a mosque last month”. There, in one line, is why Islamophobia must be taken as seriously as anti-Semitism. Because the far-right is an equal opportunity hate source. And it’s from the far-right that the deadly hatred is coming.
Indeed, “investigators were reviewing the suspect's social media activity and examining a virulently anti-Semitic ‘open letter’ published online … In the letter, which appeared on the online forum 8chan hours before the attack, the author - who identified himself as John Earnest - said he was inspired by the attack on two Christchurch mosques last month, as well as the Pittsburgh shooting”. Islamophobia and anti-Semitism hand in hand.
Small wonder there was an element of “I told you so” from C J Werleman earlier: “Two days ago, I published this piece for @BylineTimes on how right wing extremism is morphing into a violent insurgency. Today's deadly terrorist attack on a synagogue in San Diego is yet another manifestation of this growing threat” (read his article HERE).
And Tom Pride has summed up the problem here in the UK. “As I have reported previously (but ignored by any journalists), our investigation into UK antisemitism revealed threats to Jews in the UK are overwhelmingly from the Right. [ignored] by the press because they do not fit into their false narrative that antisemitism is from the Left. The San Diego suspect who attacked a synagogue also was involved in attacks on Mosques. As I have pointed out again and again - the real, dangerous antisemites hate Muslims too”.
His conclusion? “The consequences of pushing a false narrative about antisemitism coming from the left for petty party political reasons - are that rabid antisemitism AND ISLAMOPHOBIA on the hard-right is flourishing pretty much untackled here in this country”. Read his post from earlier this month on the subject HERE.

How much evidence does our free and fearless press need before it bothers to look the right way? When it’s anti-Semitism, it’s the far-right, stupid.
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