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Monday, 23 November 2020

Daily Mail Promotes Covid Denier Wacko

Far from being “a force for good” - a sick joke if ever there was one - the Daily Mail under the supposedly new broom of editor Geordie Greig is proving no less a purveyor of fake and misleading stories than when it was under the less than benign leadership of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre - and especially on the Coronavirus pandemic.

While our free and fearless press bombards us with good news stories about the arrival of vaccines which will hopefully reduce transmission of Covid-19 to noise floor levels, the reality is that the virus is still present, people are becoming infected in worryingly high numbers, and many are becoming hospitalised. More and more are dying.

That's all the Mail knows about its trusted source

So it is vitally important that the press works to eliminate misinformation. That idea is yet to take hold at the Mail, which was called out by 2017 entrant Tory MP Neil O’Brien today for using a doctored graph in suggesting to readers that deaths right now are barely any higher than before the pandemic (see his thread HERE).

This graph relies on seriously dodgy data

O’Brien is clearly more cautious than many in The Blue Team on Covid-19, and describes the source for the doctored data as “a cranky Covid-denial twitter feed”. That isn’t the half of it: the contents of that feed, calling itself “The Statistics Guy Jon”, should not have been allowed anywhere near a mainstream national newspaper. Even the Daily Mail.

Conspiracy nonsense

Why that should be is not hard to find. Take this sample Tweet. “Please note: this way of looking at the data, adjusted for record weeks and population presents a less scary picture than the government would like you to have. This will mean that this will be a suppressed tweet. Up to and over to you as to whether people get to see it”. There has been no suppression. But he does let you know how he’s fiddling the figures.

Unsourced claim

How about spreading scare stories about Government information? Yes, he’s there too: “Since 1st August the Government have been more likely to over report deaths on their Covid Dashboard than before. Reported Deaths have been accurate just seven (7) times from 138 reports. Accuracy rate 5%”. No citation. And nor will there be.

Paranoid drivel

He Retweets Martin Daubney’s Unlocked UK, which features the likes of Michael Yeadon, who has claimed that the pandemic is over. And he does a good line in rank paranoia: “Wrong Think… A new crime. Disagree with the government’s [sic] and you will lose your [youtube channel] [twitter account] [facebook account] Only officially censored questions allowed now. Different opinions will not be tolerated. You have been warned!

Speculative rubbish

Oh, and “Admissions for covid are estimated to be twice the actual number. Up to 50% are normal hospital admissions who are tested on admission for another condition who also showed no symptoms of covid and are not being treated for Covid”. No citation. Again.

Get the tinfoil hat

One last burst of paranoia? Yeah, why not? “From the moment you are born in the UK you are placed on a register, that register notes where you live, taxes paid NI, jobs you had, where you were eligible to vote, bank accounts etc. This is no dystopian negative future of 1984, this is fact of Britain since 1980s … Your health record everything, this data is accessible to all ministers. How do you feel?” I feel like this idiot is certifiable.

The Daily Mail should not have gone near him. Force for good my arse.

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Murdoch Press Muslim Bashing Resumes

The Murdoch Times has returned to demonising Muslims, this time under the by-line of “investigations editor” Dominic Kennedy, who has told readersThe founder of a hardline Islamic lobbying group that has been accused of sowing division and hate has been invited to address civil servants, an investigation by The Times has discovered”.

Except that there was no investigation: information received on Zelo Street tells that someone tipped off the Times. The rest of the article is smears and exaggeration, which omits facts, and, indeed, one key name. For starters, the claim of “hardline” is subjective. And “Sufyan Ismail, a businessman who has made insensitive remarks about Jews” is backed up with one remark, which was not targeting Jews.

We are told “Sara Khan, the commissioner for countering extremism, led an outcry, accusing Mend of being a divisive organisation, some of whose staff had engaged in hate. She regarded Mr Ismail as an unsuitable guest”. What we are not told is that Ms Khan’s appointment to that role was opposed by many Muslim organisations, including MEND, which Ismail founded, and also by Tory peer Sayeeda Warsi.

There is previous between the two. And there is more. "He has been invited to speak at an online event organised by the Civil Service Muslim Network, an umbrella group for Muslims in Whitehall, on the topics of Islamophobia and racism. An invitation from a government-recognised diversity body will give credibility to Mend, which has come under fire for its dogged opposition to Britain’s approach to fighting extremism and terrorism”.

No. Just no. MEND is opposed to the PREVENT programme, as are other Muslim groups. And as the BBC has admitted, “the scheme has proved controversial, with claims it demonises and spies on Muslim communities. A UN Human Rights Council report in 2016 said Prevent was ‘inherently flawed’”. The Times article also exaggerates. Significantly.

We read “Mend has a reputation for taking a harsh line against those who oppose its approach”. This is backed up merely by Ms Khan, an animus of MEND and Ismail. She also claimed “In 2018 it emerged Ismail has been funding Cage”. He made a donation.

On it goes: “Mend risked stoking tension … In an incendiary riposte … He caused upset”. Then comes a second source. “David Toube, of the think tank Quilliam”. Quilliam. Yeah, right. Let’s get to the conclusion. Then I’ll describe what actually happened.

After being contacted by The Times the government said that the event had been scrapped. It added: ‘This invitation should never have been issued’”. Bullshit. The Times was tipped off. Before MEND had a chance to respond, the Cabinet Office had been informed. My information is that Michael “Oiky” Gove, a notorious Islamophobe, may have become involved. The event was not “scrapped”. It was merely moved outside work hours.

Moreover, Dominic Kennedy has gone after MEND before. It was not a success, a Muslim21C piece observingEvery now and then, a servile Islamophobic journalist whips up a hatchet job so embarrassing that even their newspapers seek to bury it in the middle somewhere or behind a subscription-only paywall”. Which is, more or less, still true.

But despite the lack of success, the Murdoch press persists. I’ll just leave that one there.

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Maajid Nawaz Promotes QAnon Devotee

While LBC host Maajid Nawaz takes great exception to suggestions that he has been pushing conspiracy theories - even though, as I pointed out yesterday, he’s been doing just that - the behaviour of some of those he has been promoting does not do him any favours. Especially when it comes to events unfolding in the USA.

Maajid Nawaz

Those events have featured a number of what have to be seriously wacko claims, many of which have been made by one Sidney Powell. Ms Powell is a lawyer and has represented former General Mike Flynn, who was previously indicted for lying to the FBI. She has, more recently, appeared alongside shirt-tucker supreme Rudy Giuliani as part of the team pretending that Combover Crybaby Donald Trump won the Presidential Election.

Nawaz has been Tweeting about her for a fortnight now, starting with “[Mike Flynn’s] lawyer [Sidney Powell] makes big allegations of voter fraud here. How is it not a conflict, if Senator Feinstein’s husband invests in and [Speaker Pelosi]’s ex chief-of-staff works at the very company responsible for counting these disputed votes?

Late last week, he was back on the case. "Exactly this. If former Federal Prosecutors [Rudy Giuliani] & [Sidney Powell] just lied to us all, it’s such a big lie that it will be they who are guilty of treason. If they told us the truth, the entire DNC is implicated. This is news … What [Rudy Giuliani], [Sidney Powell] & their team are saying here is big *news*. If [Donald Trump]’s legal team is telling the truth, Dems committed treason. If they’re lying, team Trump did. True or False, whichever way you cut it this is *very* serious”.

And at this point, Nawaz began to get a little carried away. “Former Federal Prosecutor [Sidney Powell] is on now making world-impacting allegations about anti-democracy dictators & is alleging very serious (treason-level) US election fraud … This woman is on fire”. He even had time to upbraid Fox News host Tucker Carlson.

‘What (former Federal Prosecutor) [Sidney Powell] was describing would amount to the single biggest crime in American history’ Yes [Tucker Carlson] it would be. This is why it must go to court. Judges receive & assess evidence. Not legally-untrained media”. Said without a shred of self-awareness. Because The Great Man had done his homework.

And anyone who didn’t even watch the [Rudy Giuliani] & [Sidney Powell] press conference should just stop talking. Do you burn books before reading them? I watched the entire thing twice & plan to watch it a 3rd time, because I do my job (starts 39 mins in)”. Had he done his job, he would have steered well clear of anything Sidney Powell said.

Indeed, the Trump Gang has now steered well clear of Ms Powell. As Josh Jordan has observed, “8 days ago Trump said Sidney Powell was on the team, 3 days ago the official GOP account elevated her conspiracy theories, and today they disavow Powell altogether”. Ben Collins of NBC News had worse news for Nawaz.

Sidney Powell was probably the most powerful person to have ever believed in deep, mystic, devout QAnonism. Her Twitter profile picture is a reference to The Storm, which is the roundup and execution of Democrats in the Q world”. And Nawaz promoted her.

Someone just vanished down the rabbit hole. And it looks like it was Maajid Nawaz.

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Sunday, 22 November 2020

No Holding Back - The Podcast

Previously featured on Zelo Street, No Holding Back seeks to reconnect with those working class communities where many voters placed their cross in The Blue Team’s box last December. The result was that many constituencies which had previously been solidly Labour were lost, with others seeing drastically reduced majorities.

As NHB has reminded us, the decline in Labour’s fortunes in many working class areas has not suddenly happened: the party’s vote there has been steadily eroding since the high water mark of the Blair years. The idea, infamously pitched by Peter Mandelson, that the working class had “nowhere else to go”, was blown apart last year.

It is not for anyone inside or outside Labour to second guess those electorates, to tell them that they were wrong in electing a Tory MP, and it will not do merely to tell them “We told you so” when the promises of “Levelling up” turn out to be so much more Tory spin. Labour needs to reconnect with those communities positively and constructively.

Ian Lavery MP

One problem that MPs like Jon Trickett have identified is the lack of Parliamentary candidates from those working class communities. This has left the door open for the Tories to pitch populist right-wingers as being more in touch with those communities. There has been too much parachuting in of outsiders over the years.

Yes, Labour has always had middle class MPs, but alongside Attlee there were Aneurin Bevan and Ernie Bevan. Harold Wilson wanted to get Frank Cousins into Parliament, and was briefly successful in doing so. Tony Benn formed a close relationship with Dennis Skinner. Tony Blair kept John Prescott as his deputy.

Cllr Laura Smith

And although Keir Starmer has Angela Rayner as his deputy and party chair, the party has struggled, whoever has been leader, in those areas Labour has to win back to stand any chance of forming the next Government. Also, the message is not getting out there to combat media characterisation of Labour as being metropolitan and elitist.

How can Labour square this particular circle? That is what No Holding Back will address in a series of ten podcasts, starting this evening at 1900 hours. As with the launch presentation, Jon Trickett, who represents Hemsworth, will be joined by Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery and Councillor Laura Smith, formerly MP for Crewe and Nantwich and who now represents Crewe South ward on Cheshire East Council.

Jon Trickett MP

You will be able to listen to the podcast HERE. The No Holding Back Facebook page can be found HERE. They’re on Twitter at @NBack20. And you can get their report, No Holding back - The Challenge For Labour, HERE.

[This is not sponsored content. It’s being promoted here because it’s a useful and much needed initiative]

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Priti Patel - Out In The New Year

Yet another hack from the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph on paper review duty on The Andy Marr Show™ this morning: Madeleine Grant was in the slot all too often occupied by over-promoted propagandist Camilla Tominey. But she did impart one nugget of useful information, and that was to float the idea, which had been pushed today by the Murdoch Sunday Times, that Priti Patel may not be in post for long.

Inexplicably elevated to Home Secretary, Ms Patel has been found to have routinely shouted and sworn at her civil servants, in acts of what, it has been concluded, amount to workplace bullying. This was in clear breach of the ministerial code, signed off by alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. Yet Bozo has circled the wagons around her, and instead, it is the civil servant who concluded she was bullying who went.

Thus the impression continues to be given that, in Tory la-la-land, no-one resigns. A succession of the party’s MPs has appeared on more than one broadcast media outlet telling how the Home Office is a high pressure environment, that it’s not fit for purpose, and that, effectively, a bit of workplace bullying from time to time is understandable.

But Ms Grant was quite happy to echo the ST’s claim that Ms Patel is in line for another job come the New Year, and a job that would be a serious demotion from the HO. And now that Bozo has disposed of former chief Downing Street polecat Dominic Cummings, what he says when the reshuffle comes will go. Especially if Carrie says so too.

So when Tory Chairman Amanda Milling obediently tells “The [Priti Patel] I know is one that’s effective, hard working and totally focused on making our country better and keeping people safe. She’s an excellent Home Sec who has been leading the way in delivering on our promises to the British people”, she knows her position is, er, under consideration.

As the ST put it, “Boris Johnson is set to axe Priti Patel as home secretary in his next reshuffle amid questions in Downing Street over her ‘competence’ - as it emerged that a report into her conduct found that she told civil servants they were ‘f***ing useless’. The prime minister circled the wagons to protect Patel last week, rejecting an official finding that she had bullied officials and broken the ministerial code of conduct”.

So where is she likely to end up? Not, it seems, at another of the great offices of state. “But multiple sources say he has had conversations about replacing her as home secretary when he recasts his cabinet in the New Year. Kit Malthouse, the policing minister who was Johnson’s deputy mayor for policing in London and is a confidant of the PM, is favourite to take over the job”. Ms Patel would be made Tory Chairman.

Kit Malthouse

Leaving aside that Malthouse would, potentially, be an even bigger disaster than Ms Patel as Home Secretary, a move from the HO to Chairman is a significant demotion. But the role involves the Tory grassroots, and as Ms Grant pointed out on the Marr Show, she is popular with the grassroots. Unless and until she shouts and swears at them.

Should that move happen, the “Priti for PM” bandwagon will have its tyres severely deflated. But at least Ms Patel would be out of the way when Philip Rutnam’s tribunal claim comes to the boil. There’s always an inevitable logic behind moves like this one.

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Maajid Nawaz And A Rabbit Hole

Self-promoting LBC host Maajid Nawaz appears to have taken on board some distinctly fringe claims in the wake of the US Presidential Election, as I noted recently. While the outcome of the contest had been called by the overwhelming majority of media outlets for Democrat challenger Joe Biden - and that number includes Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse) - Nawaz wants us all to know that it isn’t over yet.

Maajid Nawaz

Thus he appeared to be siding with Combover Crybaby Donald Trump, as well as getting rather too close to a range of conspiracy theories. This has given the impression that he’s off down the rabbit hole, and that has worried some observers.

Sunder Katwala was one of them. “I think Maajid has really gone down the rabbit hole in being gullible about spin, misinformation & conspiracy since the count. Yes, let all the legal processes play out. Recount etc. Chances of a decisive change really are nil … His 'just asking for discussion' defence of this is weak & ridiculous”.

Mohammed Amin returned to the subject yesterday. “I have always been a great fan of [Maajid Nawaz] and am dismayed that he seems to have absorbed these conspiracy theories about the US election. I am also baffled as I cannot understand what has motivated him to go down this route”. What say The Great Man to that?

Strawman. A very big one. A libellous one actually. Though that’s ok. One wonders why you succumbed to it. Maybe ponder it. All I’m asking is that people allow the law do its job. Patience please, my friend”. But Katwala, for one, was not convinced.

It is in no way libellous for people to say they are 'dismayed' that you have 'absorbed conspiracy theories' about the election. It is fair comment. You have absorbed conspiracy theories - your comments on Dominion, Sidney Powell. Admirers of yours are among those dismayed by it”. So how has Nawaz shown he isn’t pushing conspiracy theories?

Simples. He pushes another one. I kid you not. “SCOTUS acts on the US election: ‘It is ordered that the following allotment be made of The Chief Justice and the Associate Justices of this Court among the circuits, pursuant to Title 28, United States Code, Section 42’ Source: Supreme Court”. And there was more.

Why [?] does this mean? The circuits SCOTUS has oversight over determine which Supreme Court justice is responsible for, and takes the lead, in cases brought before them. The swing states go to: MI - Brett M. Kavanaugh … WI - Amy Coney Barrett … PA - Samuel A. Alito … GA - Clarence Thomas”. Yeah, and NV and AZ are covered by Elena Kagan, who was nominated by Barack Obama. This is yet another conspiracy theory.

The court circuit allotment is always changed when the composition of the Supreme Court changes, which it just did. The custom is for Justices to cover circuits where they had previously been circuit judges. Justice Barrett gets her home turf. No shock horror.

Maajid Nawaz proves that he’s not down the rabbit hole. By being down the rabbit hole.

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Top Six - November 22

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’ve now given up trying to find any more domestic stuff to do later. So there.

6 Met Commissioner Won’t Back Priti Patel Bozo gives her his backing - but top cop won’t.

5 Gemma Bolton - Where’s The Anti-Semitism? Labour NEC member smeared - for having opinions.

4 Tommy Robinson’s Court Setback His belief and the truth may be different - what a surprise.

3 Lee Harpin’s Trope Search Failure Tries to smear a Labour MP as anti-Semitic - and fails completely.

2 Laurence Fox Told To Pogue Off Tries to score points kicking the Beeb - but gets handed his arse.

1 Rachel Riley - Pants On Fire Claims Corbyn honoured terrorists who murdered Jews - er, wrong.

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

Saturday, 21 November 2020

Covid Free Speech NOT Under Attack

Professor Carl Heneghan is incandescent. He has been called out by mere fact checkers. He has been censored, well, actually, he hasn’t, but in his eyes, and those of the FREEZE PEACH and KBF brigades, he has really. Prof H has been judged in the Facebook fact check balance and found wanting. So what was his sin?

Carl Heneghan. What a happy soul

Well, Heneghan, despite his grand title of “Professor of evidence based medicine at the University of Oxford”, has been a trenchant critic of lockdowns, circuit breakers, the statistics, the science, and just about everything else that is in the scientific mainstream regarding the Coronavirus pandemic. So he’s featured in the Spectator magazine.

That’s because the increasingly alt-right publication and its routinely dishonest editor Fraser Nelson have been in the vanguard of what they like to call “lockdown scepticism”, but others call out as plain vanilla denialism. Heneghan’s article was titled “Landmark Danish study shows face masks have no significant effect”. Right up the Speccy’s street.

It was then labelled “False information” by Facebook’s fact checkers. Heneghan protested “Here's what happened when I posted our latest [Spectator] article to Facebook - I'm aware this is happening to others - what has happened to academic freedom and freedom of speech? There is nothing in this article that is ‘false’”.

Maajid Nawaz saw the bandwagon and leapt out in front of it. “‘Professor Carl James Heneghan (1968) is a British general practitioner physician, director of the University of Oxford's Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, and a Fellow of Kellogg College. He is also Editor-in-Chief of BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine’. The Facebook said no”.

James Bloodworth explained what was happening: “Because his article misrepresents the finding of the study it’s purportedly about”. Study: “The findings should not be used to conclude that a recommendation for everyone to wear masks in a community would not be effective in reducing SARS-CoV-2 infections, because the trial did not test the role of masks in source control of SARS-CoV-2 infection”. Heneghan: “As a result, it seems that any effect masks have on preventing the spread of the disease in the community is small”.

So that should have been that. But it was not. Not for the increasingly wayward Allison Pearson of the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph. “So the Professor of EVIDENCE BASED medicine at Oxford is censored by Facebook. For sharing EVIDENCE. Heads must roll”. Dan, Dan The Oratory Man responded simply “Bloody hell”.

And the loathsome Toby Young whined plaintively “This is what happens when Her Majesty’s Opposition apply pressure to social media companies to censor dissent from public health orthodoxy. Happy now, [Jon Ashworth]?” Perhaps the Free Speech Union will take up the case on Heneghan’s behalf. Or not, as it’s Facebook.

The only surprise is that Spiked, so called because it should have been long ago, has not yet weighed in on Heneghan’s behalf. The Prof got a little too enthusiastic and misrepresented the study’s findings. Facebook saw him coming. That is all.

Fortunately, there were “only” 341 Covid-19 deaths reported today. Stay safe, everyone.

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