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Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Brillo Out Of His German Depth

Our free and fearless press has once again decided to exaggerate events in another country as a means of diverting attention from the shambles that is Theresa May’s motley crew and the Brexit negotiations, the opportunity being gifted to them by the collapse of coalition talks in Germany. Recent elections meant outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party had to talk to two others in order to stitch together a majority coalition.
A little more to chew on for The Great Man

This was not helped by the centre-left SPD deciding to pass on another “grand coalition”, and so Merkel’s CDU/CSU had been negotiating with the Greens and the Free Democrats. The latter has walked out of talks, thus meaning either more talks, or more elections. It also means pundits in the UK telling everyone who will listen that they know all about German politics, even if, in many cases, they don’t know as much as they claim.
All of which brings us to Andrew Neil, now a BBC host and pundit, and who has decided that he knows everything there is to know about Germany. In this he may have been emboldened by the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph’s claim “Merkel faces battle for survival”, and the Murdoch Times telling readers “May told to exploit Merkel crisis to reduce Brexit bill”. If only he had checked out the Guardian.
Merkel hints at fresh polls after talks collapse” was their more sober assessment. Germany does things in a more measured and thought-through manner. Talks may resume; they may not. But it is as nothing when put alongside the Brexit brouhaha. That did not deter Neil, who declared “Germany tonight in its biggest political crisis since late 1940s. Bigger even than UK’s current ongoing political crisis”.
Jon Worth, a Brit in Berlin, poured cold water on the idea. “You have not got a clue. One of four parties walked out of coalition talks. It might take a while to find a solution. Big. F**king. Deal”. The Great Man set himself to pour disdain upon this upstart: “Guess you’re not reading/watching German media”. Instead, he was about to get his comeuppance.
I LIVE in Germany. I am a member of a German political party and am a delegate to its party congress. I follow German politics for my job. And, just maybe, I might know a thing or two about it?” countered Worth, clearly with some exasperation that a supposedly authoritative pundit had not taken the time to figure out who was on the other end of the conversation - or perhaps he didn’t consider such things necessary.
Nor was Neil the only one from the Beeb to be called out by Worth: after political editor Laura Kuenssberg ventured “Merkel mess about as helpful to govt as Chancellor saying ‘there is no unemployment’ at the start of Budget week”, he clearly felt the need to administer a little further education. “Misses the point. No way there was going to be a govt in Germany before December summit anyway. And there was no disagreement in coalition talks about #Brexit. UK *still* needs to get its own act together before seeing problems elsewhere”. No disagreement in coalition talks about Brexit - UK pundits take note.

There is always someone in the world better informed than you. Most of us have long ago figured that out. Sadly, this realisation is yet to reach Andrew Neil.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Sun Editor Backs Death Threats

Those who look in regularly on Zelo Street will need no introduction to the Brexit attitude of the Murdoch goons at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun: the inmates of the Baby Shard bunker are renowned for their hectoring and even abusive attitude to all those who so much as doubt the wisdom of carrying out an act of national economic self-harm merely for the delectation of the likes of Creepy Uncle Rupe.
Tony Gallagher - far less pleasant than he looks

The howling denunciation of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar for the heinous crime of both sticking up for his country, and outlining a policy towards the Irish border conundrum which is what our own Government has said in the past that it wants as part of the Brexit deal, is typical of the genre. So when the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph indulged in an act of aggressive bullying towards 12 Tory MPs last week, the Sun’s editor concurred.

After the Tel ran its “The Brexit mutineers” splash, showing photos of all 12, including six women - Heidi Allen, Nicky Morgan, Sarah Woolaston, Vicky West, Antoinette Sandbach and Anna Soubry - there was considerable pushback, including from many in the Leave camp. The front page “naming and shaming” was regarded by them as counter-productive. But the deeply unpleasant Tony Gallagher was not among them.

In an exhibition not only of an uncaring nature, but also of the kind of Tweets that do not age at all well, Tone shrugged “I can’t see what’s wrong with p1 of the Telegraph today. It’s called journalism. Absurd over-reaction”. But then, he doesn’t mix with the lower orders, and rarely dines anywhere that charges less than £100 a head for nosh’n’drinks. And the worst opposition he’s likely to meet on the streets is someone from Channel 4.
The situation for those Tory MPs, and especially the women among them, is rather less pleasant: as I pointed out yesterday, an organisation called Voter Consultancy Ltd has been buying Facebook advertising space in order to run personal attacks on the latter. Thus far Sarah Woolaston, Vicky Ford and Nicky Morgan have been targeted. But there is no evidence that any of the men have. And it gets worse - a lot worse.

As the BBC has reported, “Ex-Tory minister Anna Soubry says her office has received 13 death threats since a newspaper front page named her as one of 15 ‘Brexit mutineers … The pro-EU Remain supporter said the police took the threats seriously and had passed two cases to prosecutors” [my emphasis]. The Tel’s excuse? “The paper's editor defended what he called ‘the legitimate actions and language of a free press’”.

The report continued “The threats had included ‘references to what happens to mutineers’, [Ms Soubry] told the BBC, adding: ‘A number of tweets have said we should be hung.’ … She added: ‘If the Telegraph had not printed that headline those death threats would not have come through - that is a fact’”. And as for hiding behind the “freedom of the press” - there is no licence to effectively shout “fire” in a crowded theatre.

That Telegraph front page story was cheap, shoddy and downright nasty journalism. Now it has resulted in death threats. The Sun’s editor thinks that is just fine. Don’t buy the Sun.

Football Lads Alliance In Trouble

Those sensitive souls at the Football Lads Alliance, which is merely opposed to all kinds of terrorism and not at all racist, honestly, are looking to take their recent success in getting thousands of supporters to come to their London rally north of the border to Edinburgh. But many in the city are not at all keen to see their brand of enthusiasm rock up next weekend, and with good reason. So what has the FLA been up to since last month?
They have been complaining bitterly about the recent TV exposé of the far right, and in doing so have committed a rather basic gaffe. The good news for the FLA was that they were not highlighted as part of the far right, which one might have thought they would have taken as a positive. But for a publicity hungry group like that, not getting a mention set the person in charge of their Twitter feed off on a rant.
CRAP TV TONIGHT … CUT ... LONG LIVE THE FLA … GOODNIGHT” it told. What was the problem? They didn’t get tarred with the same brush as the Islamophobes. But then came the spotlight shining on their proposed march in Scotland and things got a lot worse. “@AmySouthall … When are you free to discuss. You guys keep writing articles about @lads_alliance without any foundation” complained the Twitter feed.

And thus the sly threat: “Please feel free to drop Amy a polite note about her article … Firstly it's the vet's next weekend, and secondly it's in Edingburgh not Glasgow … Nothing factual about this article”. Yeah, it’s OK for thousands of blokes to pile in on a young journalist. And when Hope Not Hate Tweeted “The National Front will march to the cenotaph today, followed by the Football Lads Alliance” they went ballistic.

These people are the real fascists … The FLA was made up of men, women and children yesterday and they fail to see how damaging they are … The FLA wants a safer place for future generations. Stop trying to pigeon hole us with a load of crap”. What was “crap” about HnH's statement? It was purely factual. And there are significant concerns about their march in Edinburgh which the group is so far failing to address.
As has been told, “FEARS have been raised that a Scottish protest inspired by a convicted hooligan who staged “the biggest far-right rally since World War II” in London is set to clash with anti-fascist St Andrew’s Day marches … A coalition of anti-racist campaigners, including the Scottish Trades Union Congress, MPs and MSPs, have raised concerns about the threat of a far-right linked group on the streets of Edinburgh this month”.

There was more in the Herald Scotland report: “Campaigners including Ian Murray, Edinburgh South Labour MP, and Tommy Sheppard, Edinburgh East SNP MP, joined a collective call warning of the Football Lads Alliance (FLA) group’s decision to rally in the Scottish capital on the day of a series of anti-racist St Andrew’s Day events”. Why is the FLA planning to march when there is an anti-racist march on the same day?

If the FLA wants to claim it isn’t racist, then marching in the same city and on the same day as an anti-racism event is not the way to do it. Just a thought.

Farage Health Tourist Hypocrisy

Still inexplicably given a regular slot by broadcaster LBC to spout his inimitable combination of hatred, dishonesty and other sundry bigotry, former UKIP Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage has once again been putting the boot into all those ghastly foreigners, whipping up prejudice on the flimsiest of pretexts. Last night’s offering in this genre was a claim about NHS “health tourism”.
Squeaky freeloading finger up the bum time

He's said it once and he'll say it again, Nigel Farage says the NHS can be helped by cracking down on health tourism” tells the blurb, before quoting The Great Man asserting “We touched earlier on foreign nationals being treated in the NHS. It's an issue that I've raised in the past and been screamed at for daring to talk about it … But £2 billion a year is the cost of health tourism in this country … You may say that's a small part of the overall health budget, but hey, it's still £2 billion”. The inference is clear.

Farage is suggesting - probably wrongly, but let’s stick with him here - that the £2 billion is an amount that can be saved and spent elsewhere, either in the NHS or by some other public service. That’s very noble of him. So I’m sure that Mr Thirsty would be equally hot on a group of just 24 people spraying public money up the wall.

Who might I have in mind? Simples. Nigel Farage is an MEP. His constructive contribution to the European Parliament is not unadjacent to zero. Yet he draws a salary, and expenses, and, whisper it quietly, so do all the other UKIP MEPs - and those who may no longer be UKIP MEPs, but were elected under that party’s banner. All of these less than totally august beings also draw attendance allowances.

An MEP’s annual salary translates at present into a Sterling amount of around £85,000. Added to this is a flat-rate monthly allowance of €4,299 for office costs. On top of that is the daily subsistence allowance of €304. MEPs can also claim up to 24 return trips a year from their home countries. And then there is the reimbursement of travel costs for official duties in Brussels and Strasbourg. Plus a €4,243 official travel allowance for official trips to other destinations. Those allowances easily double the MEP’s base salary cost.

So we can safely assume that each UKIP MEP costs us - yes, we the taxpayers stump up for Mr Thirsty to go to Brussels and do Sweet Jack - at least £170,000 a year. And there are 24 Kippers (or former Kippers) in the European Parliament. Do the math, as they say: the cost of UKIP Financial Health Tourism exceeds £4 million a year.

Much of what is claimed to be “health tourism” is the unavoidable cost of people from outside the UK - and, indeed, outside the EU - falling ill while here. On the other hand, absolutely none of what We The People have to pay to keep Nigel Farage and his unproductive pals in the style to which they have become accustomed is unavoidable - his is a deliberate and sustained act of wilful and gratuitous freeloading.

Nigel Farage wants to crack down on public sector waste? Good. He and his fellow UKIP MEPs can make a real contribution to the cause by not sponging off the taxpayer.

After all, I’m sure the NHS could use another £4 million a year. Cheers Nige!

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Mail Benedict Allen War Boils Over

It’s been a fact of life for the inmates of the Northcliffe House bunker ever since Geordie Greig was appointed editor of the Mail on Sunday that, on several well-publicised occasions, that title and the Daily Mail offer opposing takes on the same story. Sometimes the daily title puts out a spoiler to trip up the Sunday, but today it has been the other way around, as the MoS has left its daily stablemate covered in rather more than confusion.
Who f***ing says I'm losing my grip, c***?!?

At the heart of today’s clear attempt to raise the anger and blood pressure levels of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre is the story of “explorer” Benedict Allen’s recent visit to Papua New Guinea. As the BBC has reported, “A search was mounted for the 57-year-old after his family said he had not taken planned flights home … Mr Allen was travelling on his own to try to find the reclusive Yaifo tribe, whom he first met 30 years ago”.

Sounds dramatic. And the Daily Mail certainly thought so. Soon, the Beeb was telling readers that Allen’s agent claimed “‘Benedict looks forward to being reunited with his family and friends but will need some time to get back to full health,’ the statement added. ‘He would like to send thanks for all the kind messages he has received’ … Mr Allen's wife, Lenka, told the Daily Mail: ‘It is such a relief. I'm so happy, it's amazing’”.

The Dacre doggies wanted the world to know that Allen was a modern-day hero: “he has eaten his dog to avoid starving in the Amazon, been shipwrecked canoeing to Australia, been shot at by drugs hitmen, sewn up a chest wound in Sumatra with a boot-mending kit, trekked more than 600 miles in the far east of Russia during the worst winter in living memory, and even more impressively still, survived sharing the bed of Jerry Hall”.
Geordie Greig, Mail on Sunday editor

They also wanted the world to know that It Was The Mail Wot Rescued Him. “Explorer Benedict Allen begged his wife’s forgiveness as the Mail rescued him from the jungle yesterday … Weak from malaria, the veteran adventurer had become trapped between warring tribes in one of the most remote spots on Earth … After the Mail found the father of three yesterday and handed him a satellite phone to call his wife Lenka, he told her: ‘I’m so sorry I’ve put you through this, Linky’”. And then came the MoS spoiler.

After the Guardian sensed disquiet at Allen’s antics by telling “Benedict Allen allies defend rescued explorer against backlash … Supporters deny disappearance in Papua New Guinea was a PR stunt”, the MoS went for their sister paper’s jugular. “The helicopter pilot who airlifted Benedict Allen from the jungle of Papua New Guinea has played down the explorer's ordeal, saying: 'He didn't really need rescuing’”. Do go on.

Craig Rose, who has flown in the country's mountainous central highlands for 12 years, said the TV adventurer had been well cared for by tribespeople and appeared to be in no danger when he was found … To the surprise of the helicopter crew, Allen filmed himself and the helicopter as it circled a remote mountain airstrip where he was waiting to be picked up on Friday. The crew waited for an hour as the explorer posed for pictures with villagers before his evacuation. 'He was lapping it up,' said Rose”.

Expect Paul Dacre to go on one of his frequent holidays, in order to calm down and avoid the possibility of simultaneously combusting at his own editorial conference, very soon. The Robert Mugabe of Fleet Street should have retired when he turned 65.

Britain First Leader NICKED AGAIN

These are not good times for the far-right in the UK. The travails of Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, are legion, and included his having problems finding a venue for another of his book signing events last night - this one in Grimsby. Lennon was eventually reduced to using a local pub to meet his adoring supporters - and give away copies of his allegedly best selling book. 
No racism here, and don't you forget it

His pals at Britain First have fared even less well, especially the group’s deputy leader Jayda Fransen. She and Paul Golding had spent some time this year touring Europe to very little effect at all, then in September the Guardian reported thatTwo leading members of the far-right group Britain First have been charged with causing religiously aggravated harassment … Paul Golding, 35, and Jayda Fransen, 31, were bailed to appear before Medway magistrates court next month. Golding has been charged with three counts, Fransen with four”. And soon it got worse.

The following month the Mail told readersBritain First's deputy leader has been arrested during a rally for violating terms of her bail, the far-right party says … Jayda Fransen was arrested yesterday at the protest in Sunderland after making a short speech among the crowd”. Why this might have been was also explained.

Both are required to present themselves weekly at a police station as part of their bail arrangements - but they have spent recent weeks touring far-right events throughout Europe … On Friday, Ms Fransen conducted a phone interview with Radio Aryan, whose tagline is 'save the fatherland’”. Radio Aryan. But they’re not racists, honestly.

And now Ms Fransen has been nicked once more, as the BBC has reported: “The deputy leader of the far-right group Britain First has been arrested in London by Police Service of Northern Ireland detectives … Jayda Fransen, 31, is being interviewed in Belfast over a speech she gave in the city during the summer … The speech was made at a ‘Northern Ireland Against Terrorism’ rally at Belfast City Hall on 6 August”.

Paul Golding was in full victimhood mode: “A large group of plain clothes police detectives from Belfast of all places jumped out of nowhere and have arrested Jayda … What have they arrested her for? Both of us addressed, made a speech, at a public demonstration outside Belfast City Hall all the way back in August … The detective I spoke to told me she is being flown to Belfast tonight to be interrogated”. Then he just took the piss.

It's absolutely ridiculous - this is non-stop with me and Jayda, non-bloody stop”. Yeah, right. The rozzers don’t just pick up folks off the street - on several occasions - and go through the process of charging them for what Golding claims is “no bloody reason”. The Police are there to keep order, and if necessary to enforce it. The Britain First leadership wants to stir up trouble, they put themselves in line to be duly nicked as a result.

Perhaps the far-right will start to get the message. But don’t bet on it.

Voter Consultancy Ltd - The Reality

After several Tory MPs signalled their opposition to some of the Government’s Brexit proposals, and the clumsy intervention by the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph naming them all on its front page, we now have a much more sinister targeting of those MPs which verges on harassment. This latest intervention has come from a company called Voter Consultancy Ltd via paid-for Facebook advertising.
The misinformation bus rolls back into town

So who is Voter Consultancy Ltd, which talks about its “grassroots efforts to make sure that we hold our MPs accountable”? There’s a clue in that line: “Grassroots” is a term bandied about by the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance to mask the reality, that it is an Astroturf lobby group with no grassroots. And there is a TPA connection with Voter Consultancy.

The firm’s sole director is Thomas Borwick. He was Chief Technical Officer of Vote Leave and before that was involved with … Cambridge Analytica. Borwick was pals with one Andrew Whitehurst: the two were co-directors in two previous companies, as Miles King pointed out. And he was one of the four people who set up WESS in 2013.
Whitehurst was the W in WESS; the others were Matthew Elliott (co-principal of Vote Leave and a founder of the TPA), Jag Singh (co-founder of MessageSpace) and the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines of Guido Fawkes infamy. WESS was purported to have a database called Metis at its disposal. The Spectator magazine told at the time of “The mighty Metis machine that could save Cameron’s bacon in 2015”.
Metis would, we were told, use “Data on the supporters of issues based campaigns”. Also, “Other sources being fed into Metis include aggregated census records, social media profile data and online political advertising response data”. WESS had “the intention to gather ten million peoples’ personal information by the end of next year [2014]”.
The principals of WESS might not have been thinking this through, but many now are doing just that, and coming up with one question: just how legal is all of this hoarding of personal information? And after the 2015 General Election, what happened to all that information? Would Borwick and his pals care to confirm that none of this work has found its way to Cambridge Analytica - and Voter Consultancy Ltd? Thought not.
All those connections stack up: Singh was the one who accompanied Staines’s then gofer Harry Cole to Moscow in late 2011, following which the Fawkes blog ran adverts paid by the Russian Government and mentions of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin’s gangsterist régime in Moscow by The Great Guido dried up completely.
Matthew Elliott was also on the advisory board of the now-moribund Young Britons’ Foundation of Tory bullying infamy. He founded an organisation which never quite managed to answer the simple question - who pays for the TPA? Now, we find ourselves asking who is paying for Voter Consultancy Ltd to indulge in harassing Tory MPs.

So far, Sarah Woolaston and Vicky Ford have been targeted by Borwick’s latest brainchild. Their colleague Anna Soubry has called the targeting “Offensive and untrue” and called those doing it “Brexit bullies”. The Information Commissioner would have good cause to delve into Borwick, Whitehurst and their past alliances. And everyone else would have good cause to ask once again: whose money is driving this latest nasty intrusion?

Top Six - November 19

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 to be out and about later. So there.
6 BBC Promotes Fake News Failure Despite the efforts of the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, the attack on Labour MP Emma Dent Coad had generated precisely zero front page column inches over two days. So why did the BBC’s Daily Politics give the exercise credibility?

5 Tommy Robinson - Get The Nanoviolin Stephen Yaxley Lennon had his Twitter blue tick removed. Cue much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

4 Guido Fawkes Russia Connection The Fawkes massive’s connections to Russia go back a long way - and Paul Staines is on record admitting he took money from the Moscow Government.

3 Tommy Robinson Charity VANISHES Stephen Yaxley Lennon was made a “goodwill ambassador” by a charity that wasn’t really a charity. Then the charity and its figurehead disappeared.

2 Alex Wickham - We Have To Talk The Fawkes blog’s teaboy is not known as “Billy Liar” for nothing. He is a complete and utter shit. So what is our free and fearless press doing giving him and his pals a seat at their table?

1 Farage Takes £100K Libel Hit Former UKIP Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage settled the defamation action brought by Hope Not Hate - and as a result ended up more than £100K out of pocket.

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

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Don’t Menshn Russian Printshops

While those teasing out Russian involvement with the Trump Gang, and influence on groups in and around the UK involved with the campaign to leave the EU, seek to find signs of evidence, some out there in wacko conspiracy land dispense with such niceties. If they can find real people who don’t agree with them, that is quite sufficient to provoke accusations of Kremlin fellow travelling and have GCHQ alerted.
Wibble, wibble, she's a hatstand

You think I jest? This has become a regular occurrence in the parallel universe inhabited by (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch, whose appetite for getting a little too excited and going running to the security agencies is at least providing them with one more name for their Twitter block lists. Ms Mensch has gone from merely unhinged to totally and absolutely gaga in her efforts to smear anyone of differing view.
This was shown to good effect earlier this week after Andrew Hickey told “All the people replying to that saying @MikeH_PR is a Russian disinformation agent... it's just absurd”. Ms Mensch immediately jumped in to the conversation, uninvited. “Why? Is he paid by Russia? Are you, Mike? ‘Russia’ to mean Russian interests directly or indirectly”. Hinde simply took the piss out of her: “FFS don't tell George Soros”.
Then, without any prompting, she lost it completely: “Making a note of Russia’s asset Party in the EU cc @gchq”. Mike Hinde was “Russia’s asset”? On the basis of what? And look - the upmarket Manhattan Walter Mitty even copied GCHQ in on the exchange. So that’s more spam they’ll have to filter out. It soon got worse - a lot worse.
By last night, the accusations were reaching paranoid proportions, and not for the first time. “Some unkind souls might note the public reporting in the UK today that @hugorifkind father Malcolm Rifkind is a member of Conservative Friends of Russia” she began, with a very smal amount of evidence indeed - evidence only by association, and even that needing a king size logic leap to stand it up.
Still, with a little straightforward lying, and another nod to GCHQ, this particular turd could be buffed up a little: “And if they were really graceless, cc @GCHQ, those same uncouth #OSINT watchers might remember Conservative Friends of Russia’s Malcolm Rifkind outing sensitive and current TS/SCI US military cyber capability on the floor of the House”. Malcolm Rifkind did WHAT? We might have noticed at the time if he had. But he hadn’t.
And then came the moment of not only venturing past Barking, but overrunning the buffer stops at Upminster. “I tend to hold grudges. You can all ask Sir Tim Hunt’s accusers about that. I haven’t forgotten Portland Media’s involvement in both Hunt and Trump Russia” declared Ms Mensch. Portland Media? Er, hello? Portland Media is a design and print business based in Clerkenwell. It offers “Cutting edge design at affordable prices”.

The company’s Twitter account has not said anything this year. The possibility of it being involved in any form of espionage is not unadjacent to zero. This is just plain ridiculous.

Louise Mensch is beyond paranoid. She needs to seek help - and do so very soon.

Tommy Robinson Charity VANISHES

It was one of the stranger media announcements of the year: Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, was announced as a “Goodwill Ambasador” for the MMBF Trust. This organisation, as Hope Not Hate pointed out, gives the impression of being a charity, and has been promoted as such. It “also trades as the Matthew Martino Benevolent Fund”. There was to be an MMBF Tommy Robinson award.
Stephen Yaxley Lennon aka Tommy Robinson

Whether this was for losing a young solicitors’ employee his job, repeatedly violating the privacy of a blogger for expressing his opinion, committing acts of contempt of court, illegally identifying a Border Force official, pushing misleading figures for book sales, throwing a mardy strop at Twitter for enforcing its terms and conditions, or any other of Lennon’s highly creative enterprises, is not yet known.

But what is known is that Matthew Martino is another who, like Lennon, likes to use a false name as a means of self-identification, if not self-promotion: he is in reality Mathetes Chihwai, a 25-year-old Zimbabwean who claims to be an entrepreneur. The problem with his so-called charity is that not only is there no record of it with the Charities Commission, its alleged £100,000 “arts fund” is matched by last filed net assets of just £16,443.

So far, so unusual, but what has happened since the announcement of Lennon’s appointment as a “Goodwill Ambassador” and HnH’s investigation has been positively bizarre. The Short Film Festival dumped MMBF as a result of Lennon’s appointment. The UnDependence Film Festival followed suit. The Mail Online report of Lennon’s appointment noted that the Charity Commission had said “The Commission has contacted the organisation [MMBF Trust] to establish on what grounds it describes itself as a charity, and why it has not submitted an application to register”.
Mathetes Chihwai aka Matthew Martino

It got worse: the involvement of Martino (or Chihwai if you prefer) with Essex TV, of which he had been a director, was terminated abruptly. CEO Tim Tiernan told “The EssexTV and EssexMagazine board has terminated Matthew Martino (Mathetes Chihwai’s) directorship of both companies and he yesterday agreed a severance deal and sold all his shareholding back to myself and Mr Alin Stacescu (our Creative Director) … We are absolutely horrified and shocked beyond belief by the decision by Mr Martino’s trust to have any degree of association with Tommy Robinson. We are now conducting an internal review into how much ‘in kind’ favours Mr Martino offered to Mr Robinson and if any of our staff were involved”. Could it get more bizarre? It certainly could.

Tiernan’s Twitter feed was taken private soon afterwards. That of Martino/Chihwai fared worse: it’s been deleted. The great entrepreneur and philanthropist has gone to ground. The web page at Essex TV for the “Matthew Martino Innovators’ Fund” has vanished. The MMBF website has been put behind a login barrier.

But there has been not a peep from Lennon about these developments. He gives the impression of having taken the free publicity and run. Not, of course, that anyone should conclude that this is a mere PR stunt with no real end product. Perish the thought!

Sun Taoiseach Smear BUSTED

The routine abuse meted out by the Murdoch goons at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun to anyone incurring their displeasure on the subject of Britain and the EU is legion: smears of Jean-Claude Juncker, Guy Verhofstadt and more recently Michel Barnier are as frequent as they are hectoring, sustained, and just plain nasly. But now the inmates of the Baby Shard bunker have found a new bogeyman to put the boot in on.
Leo Varadkar

As the Guardian has reported, “Ireland has issued a stark warning that it will block progress of the Brexit negotiations in December unless the UK gives a formal written guarantee that there will be no hard border with Northern Ireland … In sharp remarks before a breakfast meeting with Theresa May, the Irish prime minister, Leo Varadkar, said Brexit-backing politicians had not ‘thought all this through’ in the years they had been pushing for the UK to leave the EU”. A statement of the bleeding obvious.

Lewis Goodall of Sky News also notedThe Irish government has made it clear that no Brexit outcome which in any way introduces any element of a hard border on the island of Ireland is acceptable to them”, and concluded “Theresa May must feel she's playing Brexit whack a mole. Every time she beats one problem, a few more appear”.

The Taoiseach was making it clear that any kind of “hard border” between the Republic and Northern Ireland was not acceptable to the Dublin Government. It would be instantly harmful to trade, and seriously disruptive to the everyday lives of hundreds of thousands in both parts of Ireland. That, though, cut no ice with the Sun, which went in with both feet.

Ireland’s naive young prime minister should shut his gob on Brexit and grow up … He is too busy disrespecting 17.4million voters of a country whose billions stopped Ireland going bust as recently as 2010 … Varadkar’s rookie diplomacy, puerile insults and threats to veto trade negotiations … the showboating obstinacy of Ireland’s Varadkar, a man increasingly out of his depth” rants today’s editorial, which also includes this seriously misleading claim: “We are Ireland’s biggest trading partner”. That’s not quite true, is it?
As Trading Economics has noted, for Ireland “The European Union accounts for 60 percent of total exports. Main export partners are: United States (23 percent), United Kingdom (16 percent)”. That means not only that the rest of the EU accounts for 44% of Irish exports, but that the USA accounts for more than the UK. So the Murdoch goons are not merely being needlessly abusive, they’re lying through their teeth (again).

The situation is different for imports, where the UK accounts for 34% of the total, as opposed to 26% for the rest of the EU, but it should be remembered that Ireland is running a trade surplus at present. And as it is the UK doing the most exporting of the two, it would be the UK that would suffer most in the event of a “no deal” Brexit being concluded.

Once again, the Murdoch press takes the legitimate concerns of other EU leaders, and turns them into a game of playground abuse. The Taoiseach is merely voicing concerns for the effect of the Brexit mayhem on his country’s economy, and therefore its people (contrast the Sun’s name-calling with the Irish Times coverage - HERE and HERE).

Anyone would think that the Murdochs don’t really care about who suffers over Brexit, so long as they get to lord it over everyone else, while not getting blamed for the mess.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Murdoch Digital Hypocrisy

On many observers’ radar yesterday was the confession by Rupert Murdoch that his print titles are having a hard time in today’s New Media age. As the Guardian reported, Murdoch “says News Corp is not looking to expand its newspaper empire, conceding digital advertising ‘has been tremendously damaging to print’ and some of his papers were struggling”. The Great Man was clearly not happy.
He told investors at News Corp’s AGM in Los Angeles “So far I think we have done pretty well in replacing lost advertising revenue in the major papers, but it continues to be a big problem … I think the big three successes we have are the three big national papers: the Wall Street Journal, the Times in London and the Australian … The other papers, a lot of them are still very viable, but they are struggling”.

So what are the Murdoch mafiosi going to do in order to turn the situation around? Will they be looking to improve their print offer? Might they look to reverse the appallingly low trust ratings that papers like the Sun now suffer in the UK - the title is less trusted than Twitter and Facebook? Will there be moves to reverse all those years of declining circulation, a push to show that print is still a force to be reckoned with?

As if you need to ask: the Murdoch strategy is, as ever, to resort to the dirtiest tricks available to them and their hangers-on, and to put the boot in on any and every new media player in order to drag them down - rather than improving what News Corp and News UK put out there. So it should have been no surprise to see the Murdoch Sun devoting editorials not to kicking the EU, but laying into the hated Web Giants instead.

More specifically, this week’s Sun target has been Facebook, with screaming headlines likeWeb giants should be fined huge sums for every damaging post they publish … Facebook has technology advanced enough to censor every ­nipple, but apparently not to spot ­political ads bought in roubles”. Er, hello? When did the Sun ever get fined for publishing something damaging? Has Rupe never done business in Russia?
Well, yes he has, hence a recent FBI investigation into those interests and their activities. Still, details, eh? Today the Sun has gone after Facebook yet again, howling “Facebook has lost control if it takes 48 hours to down rape threats and MPs need to regulate the monster the social media giant has become”. Regulation? By MPs? Can anyone remember Leveson? And can they now smell hypocrisy?

The Murdoch goons have even roped in the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog - maybe Rebekah Brooks called them personally with their instructions - to slag off BuzzFeed, whose “long trumpeted IPO looks increasingly unlikely”. The source for the Fawkes massive? You don’t even need to guess - the “news, which emerged overnight” [yeah, right] comes courtesy of the Wall Street Journal.

Still the Murdoch mafiosi fails to get new media. But instead of trying to figure it out, they once again resort to putting the boot in - in the vain hope that they can turn back the digital tide. It would be laughable, were it not so pathetically sad.

Katie Hopkins Sex Hypocrisy

Still promoting the garnering of More And Bigger Paycheques For Herself Personally Now, pro-am motormouth Katie Hopkins has seen an opportunity to get a few more outrage points by shooting off her North and South about underage sex, or, as many people inconveniently call it, illegal sex or even paedophilia. As so often with Hatey Katie, though, the point at which she trips herself up over her own bigotry is never far away.
Viewers may still want to look away now

Ms Hopkins has decided that what Judge Roy Moore did with a 14-year-old girl is no big deal, but only on the basis of her objective judgment you understand, and not because he’s a rabidly right-wing politician who she wants to see elected at any cost. So on seeing Moore’s poll ratings tanking after he was accused of what is a felony offence, she decided to point out how she herself was sexually aware at the age of 14.
After Moore was accused, she wanted everyone to know that 14-year-old girls were somehow “not innocent”, which may provide an interesting talking point at the school gates, provided of course that other parents give her the time of day. “Wake up people. 9th grade = age 14/15. You think 15 is innocent? Go take your heads for a wobble”. What was she trying to say? Did she think Moore would get off a felony rap?
It was looking that way. After seeing that Moore’s attorney was trying to discredit the molestation allegations - that would be as in “serious enough molestation allegations for it to be a straight felony” - she sniped “If you take 40 years to remember how upset you were at 14, you are not a victim. You are a weapon #RoyMoore”. So now the woman who complained of being molested is being attacked. But not Roy Moore, oh no.
And then she did it: Katie Hopkins told the world that 14-year-olds indulging in sexual activity was fine. As the law stands on both sides of the North Atlantic, she was ready to approve criminal behaviour, paedophilia even. Off she went: “Not all girls are innocent at 14. I was pleasuring my boyfriend harder than a Russian gymnast working a pole (Capital P optional) #RoyMoore”. Who would give her media appearances and writing gigs now?
One woman reading this was beyond outrage: “I’m physically sick reading this Tweet. From a woman no less. How can you even condone paedophilia? How the fuck can you justify an adult taking advantage of an adolescent?” Hatey Katie did not trouble herself with reason, but resorted to simply sneering “Tweeting through the vomit. Good skills. One hopes your phone is waterproof darling”. And she had forgotten the hypocrisy bit.
Because last year, she had decided that 14-year-olds being molested was A Very Bad Thing Indeed, Tweeting “More than 20 girls molested by migrants at Swedish festival. Some girls as young as 14. We need Leadsom - get us OUT”. Ah, but the acts of alleged molestation were only bad if the perpetrators were Scary Muslims (tm). For Ray Moore, and other upstanding white Christians, a quick grope was A-OK.

Racist bigotry comes all too easily to Katie Hopkins. As well as the paedophilia approval. Yes, I can just see all those media outlets queuing up for her services. Or maybe not.