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Wednesday 31 July 2019

Wiggy And Banksy Sweating On New Info

More documents have been released by the Commons DCMS Committee, courtesy of whistleblower Brittany Keiser, who was formerly director of business development for now-defunct Cambridge Analytica. These are all about Leave EU and those who assisted it - like Arron Banks’ oily sidekick Andy Wigmore, pollster Gerry Gunster, lawyer Matthew Richardson, Alexander Nix of CA, and others in their orbit.
That orbit also includes people like Simon “Enoch was right” Heffer, and the Barclay Brothers, who own the Telegraph titles and Spectator magazine, plus one Matthew Goodwin. The release of information by Damian Collins and his pals has been eagerly read and inwardly digested by the Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr.
She picks apart some of the detail. “There is a lot in here. This for eg is very interesting. It's a discussion of legality of what they're planning to do with data with Matthew Richardson. He's a key player who connects Nigel Farage to the US far right. Ex-general secretary of UKIP & close to Robert Mercer”. Also connected to the now defunct YBF.
Also “Arron Banks & Alexander Nix both told parliament that Cambridge Analytica did no work for LeaveEU. But this confirms [Observer] story from last year. We revealed CA invoiced UKIP £41,500 for work. & Arron Banks paid UKIP. UKIP just never handed £ over … Here's Kaiser's statement to the committee. ‘Chargeable work was completed for UKIP & LeaveEU & I have strong reasons to believe that those datasets & analysed data processed by Cambridge Analytica … were later used by the LeaveEU campaign.’
Well, well. Do go on. “[Matthew Goodwin] has always been VERY cross about everything to do with the whole Cambridge Analytica/Facebook story. No idea why”. Some people are not at all happy at the information release. Like Banksy and Wiggy.
Banksy targeted Collins. “You mean the professional whistleblower who’s making a career of making stuff up with a book deal and failed Netflix film! The witch-hunt so last season!!” We won’t be seeing another legal threat, though, will we? And how about Wiggy?
He was going off on one at Labour MP Ian Lucas. “Of course the corrupt [Electoral Commission should re-open the case Lol … the [Information Commissioner’s Office have already investigated this [Ian Lucas] with all this information already - do keep up.  Old Codswallop and Kaiser making you and [Damian Collins] look more stupid than you are already”. But he wasn’t making any more sense than usual.
He did, though, make one baseless accusation. “Desperate stuff [Damian Collins] know one [sic] cares - oh and are those emails obtained illegally - computer misuse act - tut tut stolen data, oh the irony”. The emails were volunteered to Collins and his committee by Ms Keiser. But then, Wiggy never did have the best grasp of facts. Oh the irony, indeed.
And Peter Jukes has added this comment: “More evidence that [Cambridge Analytica] DID work for Farage’s Leave EU Campaign, despite all the later denials. The payment went to [Boris] Johnson adviser Steve Bannon. So, apart from Russia, Brexit was illicitly bought by foreign interference”. Something neither Banksy or Wiggy are yet denying.

Or, indeed, that most of the press, and broadcasters, are covering. That’s the scary part.
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Mr Gove The Butcher Wastes Half A Billion

On his visit to Wales yesterday, alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson was tight-lipped, although not yet ashen-faced, on the subject of farming. As the Guardian has reported, “Boris Johnson has declined to give specific details about how his government would help agriculture in the event of a no-deal Brexit, after farming groups said it would be catastrophic for the sheep and lamb industry”. There was more.
What do you think of it so far?

During his farm visit, he declined twice to provide details on what sort of help farmers would get, beyond saying they had the support they needed and that the government would help them to find new markets if other ones became trickier to do business with. ‘We have interventions that are aimed to support them and their incomes,’ he added”.

Exactly what those interventions were, he wasn’t going to tell anyone until he had left Wales and was on his way to the next location where he would be roundly booed on arrival. But the numbers were no laughing matter: “Before the trip, Johnson was warned that 40% tariffs on meat exported to the EU could lead to the mass slaughter of sheep”.

It was bad: “Minette Batters, the president of the National Farmers Union, said there would be no market for 40% of the UK’s lamb meat in the event of a no-deal Brexit … ‘You would be in oversupply because you wouldn’t be able to get over the barrier of a tariff to Europe,’ she said … She said … the government would need to look at forcing hospitals, schools and other public bodies to buy lamb meat”. And they have now looked.
So it was that Michael Hebditch of the Murdoch Times told “The Times understands that under plans being finalised by Michael Gove … the government will buy any lamb and beef at the point of slaughter at a predetermined price. The commitment, costing half a billion pounds a year, will also cover some crops”. And what crops might those be?

Is “Oiky” Gove thinking of also buying up all that sugar beet which will be undercut by cheap imports in the event of No Deal and a removal of tariff barriers? Because otherwise, that will be more farmers going out of business. And what about the dairy farmers who have diversified into specialist cheese making? They won’t be able to export to the EU. So presumably Mr Gove The Butcher will stock their produce as well.

Or will there also be Mr Gove The Ironmonger? As Daniel Knowles of The Economist has noted, “It is wild how much more coverage the Brexit threat to sheep exports (£300m a year) is getting than car exports (£34 *billion* a year)”. Maybe there won’t be any buying up, and the manufacturers - those still left - will just be bunged a subsidy equivalent to the EU tariff, with a little added on for increased supply chain costs?
Half a billion here, a few more billion there, soon it starts to add up - soon it will overhaul the UK’s current annual contribution to the EU budget. And, as the Guardian has pointed out, decisions need to be reached very soon: “Investment in Britain’s car industry has effectively stopped amid fears over Brexit, with a ‘pitiful’ £90m pledged for new developments in the first six months of this year … Before Brexit … the automotive industry was investing between £2.5bn and £2.7bn a year in research and development”.

There is no better deal than the one we have with the EU. The proposed antics of Mr Gove The Butcher underscore this. So when are the grownups going to stop this idiocy?
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BBC Promotes White Supremacist AGAIN

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon could not have put it more directly when she told last October “I believe passionately in free speech but … I will not be part of any process that risks legitimising or normalising far right, racist views. I regret that the BBC has put me and others in this position … The email the BBC sent to my office justifying [Steve] Bannon’s inclusion described him as a ‘powerful and influential figure … promoting an anti-elite movement.’ This kind of language to describe views that many would describe as fascist does seem to me to run the risk of normalisation”. As well as appalling dishonesty.
Steve Bannon is not “anti-elite”. He is part of the elite. This is the same excuse advanced to justify the continued accommodation by the Corporation of Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and his pals. The BBC including Bannon on a panel was endorsement of his exhortation to racists to wear that label “like a badge of honour”. And worse.

It was acceptance of someone who described serial criminal Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, as “the back-bone of Britain”. That was bad, but now the Beeb is at it again, giving Steve Bannon not just a seat on a panel discussion, but an extended interview, broadcast this morning on the Radio 4 Today programme.

And what Bannon had to say should make voters shudder. Sterling is in freefall, our alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson clearly has no idea how to extricate himself from the corner he has boxed himself into, once again the conceit that the EU will cave in and give us the deal we want turns out to be fantasy - and there is Bannon, happily telling us that it’s going to get a lot worse. He clearly likes the idea.

The British people have not seen, I don’t think, even the beginning of the turmoil … The beginning of the turmoil is about to start”. What does he mean? Job losses? Civil unrest? Open racism? Rocketing food prices? Rising transport costs? An even more organised run on Sterling? Banking collapse? Military conflict, perchance?

What was clear was that Bannon was effectively telling us what he thinks we should be doing. “You’re still not out [of the EU] and now you have a hard deadline on October 31st. You’re burning daylight. That 31st and the EU is dug in now, in Brussels. They’re not going to back off. They’re not going to give you an inch … I have said from the beginning, a No Deal hard out is the way to go”. Then comes the big lie.

Everybody in the United Kingdom, all the voters, even people that are Remain people, are saying that October 31st is a hard date”. They aren’t. They really aren’t. But one thing he has got right: “I’ve got to tell you, if you’re not out, I think it fundamentally changes British politics”. Dead right it does. It would show his interference is not working.

And it would show the BBC has once again got it wrong: instead of probing his role in setting up Cambridge Analytica, and the murky world of voter manipulation that stemmed from weaponising data, the Corporation instead chooses to amiably chat with Bannon, letting him normalise his interference, and the abuse of Democrat Congresswomen.

The Brexiteer right is welcomed by the BBC. Those exposing election interference are not. This interview is more evidence of the pattern to this behaviour. That’s not good enough.
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Tuesday 30 July 2019

Boris Irish Call - More Fawkes Fake News

Sometimes the opposition runs to your rescue. Today the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog have come galloping, in the wake of yesterday’s demonstration that NewsGuard has sprayed its credibility up the wall in awarding the site a slate of green ticks. Any thought that the Zelo Street analysis was amiss has been dispelled after yet another Fawkes Fake News post, this time on Ireland and Brexit.
Feared. But only by rickety furniture

Our alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson has had a phone conversation with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. BBC Economics Editor Faisal Islam has reported “Sounds like a rather interesting call between PM Johnson and the Taoiseach ... the latter ‘emphasised’ backstop ‘necessary as a consequence of decisions taken in the UK and by the UK government’, [according] to Irish readout”. There was more.
Fawkes Hugh on the EU ... hasn't got a Scooby Doo

And said Varadkar 'restated the need for both governments to be fully committed to the Good Friday Agreement, the protection of the Peace Process and restoration of institutions’ and ‘recalled the Agreement requires [sovereign] Govt to exercise power with rigorous impartiality’ … Varadkar invited Johnson to Dublin ‘to share further their respective analyses’”. The official Irish version added some detail to that.
On the backstop, it told “Alternative arrangements could replace the backstop in the future, as envisaged in the Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration on the future relationship, but thus far satisfactory options have yet to be identified and demonstrated”. That communiqué also pointed out Varadkar “Noting that the Brexit negotiations take place between the UK and the EU”. So no chance of picking off member states one by one.
Faisal Islam and the official Irish Government version mostly agree on the substance and detail of the phone call. Now let’s see what The Great Guido made of it.
Authored by Hugh Bennett, the patently untrue headline proclaimsBoris Lays Down Backstop Law To Varadkar”. with the citation-free text telling “Boris has finally had his much-anticipated first phone call with Leo Varadkar, it wasn’t just for a catch-up about the cricket. Boris repeated his core position that the UK will be leaving on October 31 ‘no matter what’, and the UK will be quite happy to negotiate a deal with the EU but the backstop must be abolished. Boris also reiterated that the UK will never put physical checks or infrastructure on the border”. That’s 100% pure invention.
The Fawkes goons also fail EU Negotiation 101 as they proffer “Irish public opinion is already beginning to turn against Varadkar’s aggressive approach”, citing, er, themselves as a source. It’s not about “Varadkar’s approach”. The EU is doing the negotiating.
NewsGuard having second thoughts yet?

So the payoff line “Varadkar increasingly needs a way down off the ledge constructed by Robbins, Barnier and Coveney” is spurious. Also, it manages to miss the fundamental weakness of their hero’s position - the Withdrawal Agreement was signed by Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May. Our Government agreed to it. It’s not for the EU to junk something our side signed off on. The Fawkes rabble haven’t got a Scooby Doo.
Last week, one of Bennett’s efforts was quietly pulled after he failed to get his facts right before sounding off. That lack of knowledge hasn’t changed any. This is yet another slice of Fawkes Fake News. Another fine mess, once again.
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Dominic Raab - No Deal Pants On Fire

Our wonderful new Government has clearly decided on a propaganda initiative to make the electorate a little less hostile to the idea of a No Deal Brexit - the kind which would see manufacturing industry decimated, farmers bankrupted, and the odd couple of hundred thousand workers thrown on the scrapheap, just for starters. Their problem is that much of the propaganda involves stretching facts beyond the limit of their elasticity.
Caught fibbing again, eh Dom?

Another problem is that those pushing the propaganda include Dominic Raab, for some inexplicable reason promoted to Foreign Secretary by Bozo The Clown. Raab has decided that the so-called “Irish Backstop” is now “Undemocratic”. His problem there is that the backstop was devised by his own Government. So he’s calling his own side “Undemocratic”. And that’s before we get to the No Deal Whopper.
Raab’s position is that the public voted for No Deal, and that he talked about it regularly when interviewed before the 2016 referendum. However, Channel 4 Fact Check is not convinced. “Dominic Raab insists he warned voters about the risks of a no-deal Brexit while fighting the EU referendum campaign. But [Fact Check] can't find any evidence of an interview where he talks about the dangers of no deal”. And there was more.
In fact, Mr Raab said it would be ‘suicidal’ for Europe to raise tariffs and fears of trade barriers were ‘not remotely credible’ … If his advisers, or anyone else, find evidence that backs Mr Raab's account, please send it our way”. The Guardian has accepted that challenge - and has also found no evidence to support Raab’s claim.
Their article tells readers “Two months before the June 2016 referendum vote, Raab told Andrew Neil on BBC Sunday Politics: ‘We’re very well placed, and mutual self-interest suggests we’d cut a very good deal and it’s certainly not in the European’s interests to erect trade barriers’”. No mention of No Deal there.

Also, “During an appearance on the BBC’s Daily Politics in April 2016, Raab added: ‘The idea that Britain would be apocalyptically off the cliff edge if we left the EU is silly.’ However, post-referendum, Raab appeared to have changed his tune”. Does he now.
Hence the comment “When repeatedly challenged on Monday about the claim and asked to provide proof, he added: ‘I was questioned on it by the BBC almost every time I appeared and so was Michael Gove.’ … Raab’s comments provoked the People’s Vote campaign to accuse him of trying to rewrite history”. No surprise there.
Nor was it any surprise to see Ian Dunt observe “And shortly after insisting this, he suggested the BBC had some kind of institutional bias against him/Brexit and that's why the interviewer couldn't remember”. Worse, our alleged Prime Minister is on record saying there was no consideration being given to No Deal, as it wouldn’t happen.
As one observer noted, “Boris Johnson, then foreign secretary, told the House of Commons in July 2017: ‘There is no plan for no deal because we are going to get a great deal.’” And that’s after the referendum. There was no talk of it, and no warning.

Perhaps Raab would like to show where he did mention No Deal. We’re waiting.
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Meghan - Dan Wootton’s Racist Revenge

Obscenely overrated Sun hack Dan Wootton, an appallingly immodest creep with much to be modest about, has today thrown his rattle out of the pram in no style at all at the news that the Duchess of Sussex has guest edited an issue of British Vogue magazine. His mardy strop throwing is for two reasons: one, straightforward racist bigotry, and two, that Wootton has just been shown up for making yet another wrong Royal call.
Bizarre how they still employ the SOB

In other words, his article in today’s Sun - “Meghan is desperate to be treated like a royal while acting like an entitled celeb - she can’t have it both ways”, following on from his outburst on yesterday’s edition of Lorraine - is in part not really about Meghan. It’s about the Sun’sExecutive Editor” pretending to be relevant, when the Royals show he isn’t.
The Duchess of Sussex ...

He devalues his attack at the start: “VOGUE magazine epitomises the rich and elite in this country … With ridiculously expensive clothes, unrealistically skinny models and painfully self-obsessed A-listers saying nothing very interesting, it’s about as inaccessible to hard- working Brits as you can possibly get”. So why devote so many column inches to it?
... and THAT Vogue cover

But do go on. “So how ironic that this bible of privilege is where Meghan has decided to launch her woke manifesto that might, if certain members of the Royal Family are to be believed, one day form the basis of a platform for a future political career”. Now he’s making it up. Certain members of the Royal family don’t talk to Wootton.
Don't they, Dan?

And as for that cover, “Her choice of 15 ‘change makers’ does not include one who might be considered even mildly right-wing … That might please the blithering idiots on Twitter but it undermines the idea that our royals should keep their political opinions private”. Wootton gets a hard time on Twitter. So he doesn’t like Twitter, either.
Looks like they do ...

There is more in the same vein, just as there is more from the Daily Mail’s appallingly overrated Sarah Vine (aka Mrs Michael “Oiky” Gove), who sneers at the woman she patronisingly insists on calling “Meghan Markle”, as if to say she’s not really Royal. Ms Vine skates all around the direct racism, but readers will get the hint.
... yep, they certainly do ...

But what sparked the Wootton outburst - which has been the driver for Ms Vine’s nasty snark as well - is that just three weeks ago he told Sun readers “THE Duchess of Sussex will not become a magazine columnist, sources close to her insist … she turned down the opportunity, despite offers from both the US and UK version of [Vogue]”.
So what's Dan's problem, apart from racism?

There was more. “A royal insider said: ‘Meghan is a huge fan of Vogue and a big supporter, but writing a column in her position just wouldn’t work … She is aware of her responsibilities as a member of the royal family’”. Wrong call or what?
It's because he got caught out lying. Again

Dan Wootton got caught making up a story, and not for the first time. Except this time it wasn’t just about A N Other Sleb, but the Duchess of Sussex. So he looked even more of a fool when the Vogue guest editorship was revealed. But that could never be his fault - he had to blame someone else. So he blamed the Duchess.

Meghan is oh-so-desperate to be treated like a royal” he sneers. She IS a Royal. But then, that’s not what you meant, eh Dan? Nothing like a little racist revenge.
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Monday 29 July 2019

NewsGuard Credibility IS BUST

It was not the most auspicious of starts, when Press Gazette told readers “US news website rating tool Newsguard has changed its verdict on Mail Online after originally declaring the UK’s most-read news website failed to uphold ‘basic standards of accuracy or accountability’ … The start-up said the changes had been made following ‘discussions’ with an unnamed Daily Mail executive”. And now has come worse news.
Or maybe not

Tom Harwood, replacement teaboy to the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog, today boasted that NewsGuard had given a 100% clear rating to his new home, telling anyone making enquiries that “This website adheres to all nine of NewsGuard’s standards of credibility and transparency”. Yeah, right.

Let’s have a quick look at those nine categories, shall we? How about the first, “Does not repeatedly publish false content”? January this year - claimed that the Queen could refuse assent for “Brexit Wreckers’ bills”. NOT TRUE. Today - claimed about Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson “After a barrage of leftist abuse, The Rock deleted his tweet and replaced it with this”. No citation, no example. Just invention. Repeatedly publishing false content.

How about the next category? “Gathers and presents information responsibly”. So responsibly that The Great Guido was caught out trying to surreptitiously delete a post last week after they fouled up. Because their “information” was not gathered responsibly.

Next comes “regularly corrects or clarifies errors”. No it doesn’t. The “Nutrition Label” for the Fawkes site justifies the green tick because of “Updates” below the original story. AN UPDATE IS NOT THE SAME AS A CORRECTION OR CLARIFICATION. Another fail.

Fourth category is “Handles the difference between news and opinion responsibly”. But the Fawkes blog does not even make such an attempt. NewsGuard actually admits this - that it “does not purport to be a straight news site”. So why the green tick? Next!

Oh look - “Avoids deceptive headlines”. Ri-i-i-ight. From today: “CBI Dancing To Boris’s No Deal Tune …  Boris Calls CBI Tune”. Compare and contrast with the equivalent BBC headline on the same news: “Business lobby group CBI says UK not ready for no-deal Brexit”. Not so much avoiding deceptive headlines, as blatantly indulging in them.
File under fiction

And so we get to “Website discloses ownership and financing”. Not really: although Global and General Nominees is identified, no other detail is given, and certainly none on The Great Guido’s backers. The NewsGuard “Nutrition Label” justifies the green tick by having found out through some of this information through web searches.

How about “Clearly labels advertising”? Er, no it doesn’t, although it is easy to pick out the adverts, and “Sponsors” are identified. The link to the Murdoch press, though, is not.

Another green tick not deserved is for “Reveals who’s in charge, including any possible conflicts of interest”. The Fawkes site does not. The “Nutrition Label” correctly identifies Staines as head man, but there is nothing on any conflict of interest.

All of which brings us to the last undeserved green tick, “The site provides names of content creators, along with either contact or biographical information”. No it doesn’t.

It is possible to see who authored each post - usually - if you view the Fawkes blog though (for instance) Feedly. But the website does not show that information. No biographical information is provided. The “Nutrition Label” justifies this by telling “Stories are not by-lined, as the entire site is written in the character of ‘Guido Fawkes’ by several people”.

That’s the justification for giving this borderline Fake News site a full board of green ticks. How Fake is Fawkes? You can see false content, irresponsible news gathering, deceptive headlines and failure to correct errors in the storyAnti Private School Labour MP Founded Private School Tutoring Company” from July 12. Or the inept attempts to back out smears exposed when amending a New Year 2019 smear of Seumas Milne.

Were there fewer demands on my time, it would be possible to dig out countless examples of Fawkes Fake flannel. NewsGuard green ticks that site, it loses all credibility.

Still, what’s a chocolate fireguard between friends, eh? Another fine mess.
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Tories Channel Churchill - BADLY

The propensity of our alleged Prime Minister Alexander Biros de Pfeffel Johnson and his fellow stooges in the cabinet to keep on citing wartime metaphors in order to rouse the electorate to new heights of boredom knows no bounds. To illustrate this, someone has clearly dug out Winshton’s World War 2 highlights and handed them to Michael “Oiky” Gove with orders to deliver a similar oratorical flourish.
Back in the darkest days of that war, Churchill memorably told “We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender”. Nevah! That was the stuff of legend. So what’s “Oiky’s” version like?
Planning for no deal is now this government’s No 1 priority - and that is why we have, since Wednesday, been accelerating preparations”. Do go on. “All the necessary funding is now being put in place … the government machine is being retooled for the task … he cabinet secretary has created a new, unified, Whitehall structure to co-ordinate action across departments and accelerate decision-making”. There is more.

Maybe too much more: “we will shortly launch one of the biggest peacetime public information campaigns this country has seen, so that citizens, communities and businesses can prepare for what will happen if there is no deal”. And then Gove rather lets himself go, as he builds to his not really memorable peroration.
The entire machinery of government will work to help ensure our businesses will be ready, our factories will be ready, our hospitals will be ready - and the British people will be ready. We will be ready because we are not approaching this task with an attitude of business as usual. We are taking tough decisions and challenging conventional wisdom, so that we can deliver on the will of the British people”. Churchill it is not.
It’s more “We do not choose to do these things because they are easy”, which is JFK. And “Conventional wisdom” is J K Galbraith, which suggests someone ideologically suspect has wormed their way into the Cabinet Office. Gove’s attempt to do a Winshton is a damp squib. But he does want us all to know “Above all, we have the courage of our convictions and are determined to deliver for our country. Because that is what this new prime minister and new government are all about”. Talking about delivering. Yeah, right.

Talking about delivering has also spread to the Treasury, from where Sajid Javid has reported “In 95 days we’ll be out of the EU. If we can’t leave with a good deal, we’ll have to leave without one. That’s why I have tasked [H M Treasury] to immediately step up no deal preparations”. Lots of announcements. So it looks like something is being done.
And talk of a “war cabinet”. Because we’re at war, dontcha know? To which David Allen Green has concluded “The current cabinet is far more an Evelyn Waugh cabinet than ever a 'war cabinet’”. They’re talking a lot. Because they haven’t got a Scooby Doo.

But it sounds convincing. And that’s what our free and fearless press wants to hear.
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