Welcome To Zelo Street!

This is a blog of liberal stance and independent mind

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Farage DOES Have Bloodied Hands

The protestations of former UKIP Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage, that the rotten BBC had caused great upset to Himself Personally Now by broadcasting a vox pop where a member of the public had expressed the view that he “had blood on his hands”, was clearly a case of brazen hypocrisy, as I showed at the time. Farage is all too ready to level the same accusation at others for no credible reason.
Squeaky keep it quiet finger up the bum time

But the former head Kipper’s appalling double standards do not end there: it is also arguable that he does have blood on his hands, and as a result of a far more clear-cut, and much nastier, series of deliberate actions. For this, we must go back to the 2010 General Election, when Farage chose to challenge Commons speaker John Bercow for the Buckingham constituency - yet another Parliamentary campaign he lost.

Nige got in into his head that he would like to charter an aircraft to tow a suitably worded banner around the area, thus hopefully raising his publicity profile. To this end, one of his fellow Kippers recommended a pilot called Justin Adams. At first, Adams was not keen about his plane towing a banner, as it was not suited to the task. But he was somehow persuaded to take the job. He soon came to regret doing so.

The banner became entangled in the aircraft, causing it to adopt a nose down attitude: it subsequently crash landed, injuring both Adams and Farage. Adams was later convicted of issuing threats against Mr Thirsty, but as the Skwawkbox has told, he did not at first make any threats, doing no more in the first instance than calling Farage and asking him to make a call to the Civil Aviation Authority concerning the crash.

It is alleged that instead of calling the CAA, Farage called the Police and claimed he was being threatened. There were, it seems, two witnesses to this series of events. Later, Adams did indeed make threats, but by that time, partly because Farage had dragged his feet for so long, his income had dried up. He lost his pilot’s licence, his business, and ultimately his family. Adams subsequently took his own life.

On hearing the news of the pilot’s death, Farage suddenly came over all contrite: “This is a horribly tragic end and I'm desperately sorry for what happened”. Not sorry enough, it seems, to ‘fess up and tell the CAA that he was, at least in part, responsible for the crash landing for coercing Adams to tow a banner behind his aircraft so that UKIP could score a bit of less expensive publicity - when the plane was not suitable to do it.

Strangely, our free and fearless press has not seen fit to pursue this story, and has been absent elsewhere when Farage baselessly accused the EU of “having blood on its hands” over Ukraine, then whining like a spoilt brat when he thought the BBC had made the same accusation against him, which they had not.

It takes some brass neck to be suspiciously close to being part of what drove a desperate man to take his own life, and than get all righteous that someone said something rotten about him. Nigel Farage gives every impression of being that man. I doubt that anyone in the aviation industry will be taking on a job for him any time soon.

Florence - The Brexit Delusion

Most of the EU’s leaders took little notice of it; none thought it warranted their turning up to listen. Theresa May’s trip to Florence, to give a speech to a room filled with her own party colleagues and with British journalists making up the numbers, might as well have been given in Westminster. The delusion continued. And out free and fearless press approved.
So this morning, the campaign of misinformation has continued unabated. That Ms May said nothing of any consequence - why break the habit of a lifetime? - was not allowed to enter when the likes of the Mail’s odious Quentin Letts (let’s not) filed their copy. Sneering “Outside, a tiny group of Chiantishire expat Brits warbled Remainerishly. They were led by a former Labour MP, Roger Casale, and they were moaning that Brexit was going to ruin their sun-kissed rights”, Quent told readers we were being nice to the nasty foreigners.

It is hard to see how, short of giving Jean-Claude Juncker a life peerage, Mrs May could have been more placatory to the EU” he sniffed, ignoring the inconvenient fact that she had said precisely nothing. And the delusion continued with the Mail claiming “EU chief negotiator Barnier praises the 'constructive spirit' in May's Florence speech as he says the landmark address is a 'step forward’”. What he actually said was rather different.

His response includedPrime Minister May's statements are a step forward but they must now be translated into a precise negotiating position of the UK government … Today's speech does not clarify how the UK intends to honour its special responsibility for the consequences of its withdrawal for Ireland”. And there was more.
As Jason Farrell of Sky News has pointed out, M Barnier has already said “‘not possible’ for UK ‘to have the same benefits as the Norwegian model but the limited obligations of the Canadian model’”. That rather limits our options, not that you would guess from the alternate reality inhabited by today’s editorial in the Murdoch Sun.

The EU can hardly moan about our decision to leave when we've offered so much in the way of concessions particularly when it comes to budget contributions”. They aren’t. They just want us to say what we want. Ms May hasn’t. And the Murdoch goons persist with their idea that we can appeal to other EU leaders over the heads of negotiators.
They will not decide our future partnership with the European Union … It will be Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron and the elected leaders of the 25 other EU countries who make the real decisions” they bluster. But the reality is that, next week, David Davis will have to face Barnier and stop pissing about. And the Sun won’t save him. Or us.

Did this get through to the Sun’s Saturday pundit James Forsyth? You jest. “Theresa May sensibly bought us more time with a transitional period” he gurgles. But she hasn’t. And, for those in the Baby Shard bunker pretending that M Macron will ride to our rescue, he has already given a de Gaulle style “NON” to that idea.
The reality has been left to those able to look at the UK from the same perspective as all those mainland European politicians with whom we must get agreement, typified by the Economist’s Berlin bureau chief Jeremy Cliffe. He has summed up succinctly on Twitter.

The @SZ reports Number 10 invited ‘European politicians of rank’ to May's Florence speech but they all declined”. Nobody who mattered cared about that speech. And while that is sinking in, Cliffe had more hard truths to set out.
@SZ: Florence accreditation granted to journalists who hadn't applied for it - No 10 giving away seats to avoid images of half-empty room … So lack of interest from EU27 invitees explains the odd spectacle of May going to Italy to speak to a room full of British journalists … Symptomatic of broader British delusion: May described Brexit yesterday as a ‘shared challenge’. That's just not how it's seen on continent … It's seen as baffling & rather sad act of self-mutilation (motivated by countless untruths) which it's the unhappy job of UK govt to inflict”. The British Brexit delusion summed up in one.

And on top of that has come the news that, as the BBC has reported, “The UK's credit rating has been cut over concerns about the UK's public finances and fears Brexit could damage the country's economic growth … Moody’s, one of the major ratings agencies, downgraded the UK to an Aa2 rating from Aa1 … It said leaving the European Union was creating economic uncertainty at a time when the UK's debt reduction plans were already off course”. It is our worst-ever credit rating.

Never has the gulf between reality, and the delusional claptrap being fed the British public by an increasingly irresponsible and out of touch press, been greater. We are being misinformed, and worse, on an industrial scale. Why that should be I will leave to others to figure out.

Uber - The Pundits Bleat

After yesterday’s decision by Transport for London not to renew the operator’s licence for driver and rider matching service Uber, the right-wing punditry has offered its entirely predictable response. The clear reasons for TfL refusing licence renewal were all but ignored, the story was framed as the personal intervention of Sadiq Khan, who took no part in the process, and the decision was held to be all about choice.
Thus the ardent free marketeers ignored the inability of Uber in London to abide by the rules, the effective servitude imposed on its drivers by having no job security, no control over rate cuts, and the constant threat of being “deactivated”, should a punter take exception to them. That there are several other transport options available to Londoners, including other app-based services, was not allowed to enter.
Typical of the sour and partisan tone was that struck by Alex Deane, another of those Clever People Who Talk Loudly In Restaurants: “Well done Sadiq. Next up, smash the spinning jenny”. It was nothing to do with Sadiq. But do go on. “A concentrated minority of determined campaigners will often overcome a diffuse majority. Millions will pay higher fares now”. Stuff the sub-minimum wage offer for the driver, eh?
But at least Deane had engaged brain first, which Spectator editor Fraser Nelson had not: “World over, approach to #Uber is a proxy for whether a gvt/city is on the side of the vested interests (the few) or consumers (the many)”. Very good Fraser - Uber IS a vested interest. And a very large one. How about blaming Khan? “Sadiq Khan declared himself anti-Uber while on the mayoral election campaign. He has been consistent”.
Blub! Sniff!! Snot fair!!! Meanwhile, Sohrab Ahmari, ex Murdoch Wall Street Journal, complained “A regular black cab to Heathrow can easily cost as much as your roundtrip flight to many European destinations. Uber was a life-saver”. But he hadn’t heard of all the other app-based offerings or existing minicab firms either. And then came the loathsome Toby Young: “Awful. Monopolists successfully stifle competition”.
Brilliant Tobes - Uber ARE monopolists. Did the Mail on Sunday’s not at all celebrated blues artiste Whinging Dan Hodges have anything useful to say? “Tories struggling for popular distinction between their vision of capitalism and Corbyn's socialism. Uber have handed them one”. Sadly, no he didn’t. How about the serially clueless Tim Montgomerie? “The Uber decision. Appalled at @SadiqKhan's attack on consumers? Sign the Petition. I just have”. Stuff safety standards and rule breaking, just think selfishness.
Isabel Oakeshott fared no better: “Stunned by Uber ban. So anti free market! Don't believe it will actually happen but if it does, suspect @SadiqKhan will come to regret it”. No, it’s Uber that is anti-free market. Was there no sense to be had from those on the right? For once, it was left to the attention seeking Julia Hartley Dooda to think before whining: “I use @Uber all the time & want to continue doing so. But they should vet drivers properly & report criminal allegations to police”. There was more to the decision, but a good start.

Uber is an aggressive corporate looking to drive its competition out of business and impose its own monopoly. Ultimately, it does not give a rat’s arse about consumers. Yet all these ostensibly sensible pundits fall for it every time. I’ll just leave that one there.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Guido Fawked - Sadiq Uber Smears BUSTED

After the news broke that Transport for London had taken the decision not to renew Uber’s London operating licence, the right-leaning part of the Pundit Establishment was bereft. They had assiduously promoted the driver and rider matching service for years, turning a blind eye to all the bad behaviour and that aggressive corporate culture, instead telling anyone who would listen that it was all about technology and choice.
Behold the arbiter of morals and high principles

In this regard, no-one was more enthusiastic for Uber than the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, who were more than happy to cheer for Uber at the expense, especially, of London’s black cab trade, because that meant people who were members of trades unions, which meant they were Very Bad Indeed.

So when the news broke, The Great Guido was ready with his king size onion: “Extraordinary decision. 3.5 million Londoners and 40,000 drivers use Uber, Sadiq is now going to have to explain to them why they are out of a job and out of pocket. Khan pays back the taxi unions who put him in City Hall” was the predictable outburst.
Sadiq Khan - not involved

There was more. Under the headlineKhan Chooses Union Backers Over 3.5 Million Londoners”, the Fawkes massive asserts “Faced with the choice between 3.5 million Londoners and his taxi union backers, Sadiq chose the unions. Khan promised he would not be a mayor for vested interests, well he has just hit Londoners in the pocket to please his GMB union backers who have been running the campaign against Uber”.
This is followed by including a photo of the Mayor and LTDA man Steve McNamara to suggest some kind of congratulation is being depicted - but sadly this is the usual Fawkes fraud, the photo being some months old. Still, the Fawkes rabble want readers to know “Londoners seeing first hand what a Labour mayor in hoc to the unions does for them”.
But, as Captain Blackadder might have observed, there was only one thing wrong with this idea - it was bollocks. Uber had its licence renewal declined for clearly explained reasons, none of which had anything to do with Sadiq Khan, Steve McNamara, the black cab trade in general, or any trades union. The licence refusal was down to Uber not behaving as the law, and regulations, require, as Jon Elledge has pointed out at City Metric.
TfL is supposed to ensure the safety of taxi passengers: Uber wasn’t cooperating, so no more Uber. TfL is quite literally doing its job”. It’s not about “tech” or “choice” - TfL has a duty to its customers, in other words, to all users of public transportation systems in and around London. And it gets worse for The Great Guido.
The idea that Sadiq Khan was even tangentially involved is bunk. As Adam Bienkov of Business Insider points out, “This wasn't Sadiq's decision. Entirely a decision by TfL regulators. Mayor was not legally allowed to take part”. The Fawkes rabble has been telling its adoring readers a pack of lies. And not for the first time.

Once again, the Fawkes folks get it totally wrong. Another fine mess.

Uber Licence NOT Renewed

When it comes to major shifts in public transport thinking, the rest of the UK invariably follows London’s lead. Thus it was that cities around the UK abandoned their tram networks after they saw London going that way (the capital would have abandoned its trams a lot earlier than 1952, had the war not intervened). The same happened in the wake of London abandoning the trolleybus in 1962.
These precedents will already be known by those in charge at the London end of driver and rider matching service Uber, whose licence was not renewed, so much as rolled on, earlier this year, with the decision kicked down the road for a few more months while someone stepped up to the plate and took the hard decision.

And that decision, announced at 1100 hours today, was that Uber London Ltd would not be getting its licence renewed when it expires on the 30th of September.

Transport for London has spelt out the grounds for its decision. “TfL’s regulation of London’s taxi and private hire trades is designed to ensure passenger safety. Private hire operators must meet rigorous regulations, and demonstrate to TfL that they do so, in order to operate. TfL must also be satisfied that an operator is fit and proper to hold a licence … TfL has concluded that Uber London Limited is not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator licence”.
Why so? “TfL considers that Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications”. These are also spelt out.

Its approach to reporting serious criminal offences … its approach to how medical certificates are obtained … its approach to how Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Services (DBS) checks are obtained … its approach to explaining the use of Greyball in London, software that could be used to block regulatory bodies from gaining full access to the app”.

The decision also explains that Uber London Ltd can appeal the decision, and their licence will remain in place pending the exhaustion of that process. As a result, the lawyers are about to get even more heavily involved than they have been previously.
TfL’s decision has not come as a surprise here on Zelo Street, and nor will it to anyone else who has been watching recent goings-on. The welter of unfavourable publicity regarding inappropriate behaviour by drivers, the concerns of the Metropolitan Police, and the way in which Uber has been obtaining licences in London only to have many of those licensed working in other areas, all have counted against them.

The aggressive behaviour of management - Travis Kalanick left it too late to go - along with apparent disregard for the niceties of regulation, and the accident rate for its “partners”, will also count against them. London’s taxi and private hire trades are regulated not merely for fun, but with good reason: punters need to know they are safe.

For Uber in London, as Winshton might have said, this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

Brexit - May’s Florence Folly

Rarely has a speech been more heavily trailed than that which Theresa May will give today at the Church of Santa Maria Novella in the Italian city of Florence (it’s in the middle of town just across from the station). And rarely has our free and fearless press hyped a speech more heavily, and, it has to said, with no rational expectation of success. And so few people who really matter will be there to hear it.
The headlines demonstrate the delusion of those who scrabble around the dunghill that is Grubstreet, with the Express in the vanguard, telling readers of “MAY’S VISION FOR BREXIT VICTORY … Britain’s future is bright, says Prime Minister”. Those engaging brain first, like the i with a matter-of-fact “May offers €20 billion divorce deal to Europe”, and the FT - also trying to remain factual and grounded - with “May offers to shore up EU citizen rights in bid to break stalemate”, are being drowned out by the lack of realism.
Because shouting rather louder are the likes of the Telegraph, sniffily lecturing those ghastly foreigners with “May: It is EU’s duty to agree a Brexit deal”, and especially the Mail, which thunders “PM’S BOLD BID TO END BREXIT DEADLOCK … Upbeat May sets out her plan for cash deal to secure two-year EU goodbye”.
Once again, the Vision and Boundless Hope and Optimism is wonderful to behold. But it bears little relation to the reality of the situation. Yes, the optimism chimes with the idea - peddled incessantly by the Murdoch press - that the brave and bold Empress Theresa will appeal to the leaders of EU member states over the heads of Jean-Claude Juncker and Michel Barnier. But I have to tell those doing the peddling that it isn’t going to happen.
The BBC, which has seen the same pre-released excerpts from the PM’s speech, noted that shewill propose a two-year transitional deal, after March 2019, ahead of a permanent trade deal … It could include payments worth 20bn euros (£18bn) over the two years”. Note use of “could”. Ms May is not, apparently, going to make any firm offer.
Once again, the right-leaning part of the Fourth Estate invests Theresa May with abilities she does not possess. Moreover, there will be no appealing over the heads of the negotiators in Brussels: whatever she proposes will be forwarded to M Barnier for him and his team to consider. They will be waiting for the UK delegation to arrive for another round of talks next week, and will still be wanting us to say what we want.
There will be nothing gained from patronising EU negotiators and heads of state with talk of how it is “their duty” to agree a deal. Optimism will not address the outstanding issues which have yet to be addressed - EU citizens’ rights, the totality of the “divorce bill”, the status of Northern Ireland, for instance - and without which, there can be no move to talking about trade agreements, or indeed agreeing a transitional deal.

Unless Theresa May has a very large rabbit in that hat, her trip to Florence, and the speech she gives there, will be yet another pointless act. The only way the deadlock will be broken is by negotiation, and that means fewer showpiece events for domestic consumption, and rather more effort applied by the team in Brussels.

Stop flannelling and get to the specifics. Or don’t bother turning up next week.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Press Gazette Protests Too Much

The shameless hypocrisy of the press establishment and its hangers-on knows no bounds:  whatever the press does, no matter how vicious, how venal, how dishonest, how spiteful, and how damaging, this is beyond reproach. It is, we are endlessly reminded, the exercise of free speech, to which we are all entitled. When those outside that establishment bubble exercise the same right, however, all is, in an instant, changed.
Fighting to be an establishment poodle, more like

Our free and fearless press is, like Caesar’s wife, beyond reproach. We should not so much as say boo to revelations of hacking, blagging, burglary, harassment and even the use of the platform given by that same press for some to run campaigns of vilification against those of dissenting view. The asymmetrical mindset of the press establishment is by now well-known. They are more of life’s perpetual victims.

So it should have been no surprise to see Press Gazette editor Dominic Ponsford go off the end of the pier in no style at all at the news that Evans Cycles have decided - of their own volition - to cease advertising in the Mail and Express titles, as well as the Murdoch Sun. Freedom of expression has suddenly become a challenging proposition for him.

Under the shrieking headlineWhy UK's 70,000-plus journalists should boycott Evans Cycles”, Ponsford tells anyone who will listen “Today I urge [all cyclists] in the news media to boycott the UK’s leading bicycle retailer Evans Cycles”. Why so? “The reason why is that Evans has cast itself as an enemy of free speech by placing the Mail and Express titles and The Sun on a blacklist of advertisers who it will no longer spend money with”.

Think that’s “with whom it will no longer spend money”, Dom, but do go on. “Let’s set aside the fact that a couple of thousand journalists rely on work from these news organisations to pay their rent or mortgages … When advertisers start boycotting newspapers because they don’t agree with what they are saying it takes to a pretty dark place”. Really?

Why? “It is the same place we went to when HSBC notoriously, and apparently successfully, sought to influence Telegraph editorial coverage by withholding advertising”. No it isn’t: Evans Cycles is not seeking any influence. It has merely made a business decision. So when Ponsford bleats “I would rather have a partisan and imperfect press than one which is muzzled by advertisers wielding commercial pressure to influence editorial content”, he is just getting hyperbolic. No-one is trying to muzzle anyone.

And he does his cause no favours by headlining the piece with a photo of Channel 4 News main man Jon Snow - just because he is a cyclist. Nor is the cause of the press served by complaining about groups like Stop Funding Hate, who are also free to express their views. The group does not attempt to browbeat or bully others into making advertising decisions - it is merely a campaign of persuasion.

The reality of the situation is that the press is, indeed, free to publish what it wants, when and where: the Duke of Wellington’s dictum should endure. Also, potential advertisers are free to advertise when and where they want, subject to current codes and regulations. Evans cycles have done so. Ponsford is overreacting, and then some.

But good to see the press establishment sense of entitlement on view for all to see. Free speech, for them, is, as usual, the freedom to please themselves, and others to lump it.

Uber Tried To Mess With FoI

As the clock ticks down towards the decision by Transport for London as to whether they will renew the operating license for driver and rider matching service Uber - and, if so, for how long - another unfortunate episode has come to light following a Freedom of Information Act request made to TfL recently. This shows that Uber has tried to engage TfL in keeping something quiet - or, as some might say, covering it up.
The correspondence revealed by the FoI request includes an exchange of emails on Wednesday 13th January last year, initiated by Helen Chapman at TfL, and sent to Jo Bertram and Tom Elvidge of Uber. Her concern was that Uber was about to start a new service without telling the regulator - which has happened in the past.
It has come to our attention that Uber is planning to start offering a food delivery service in London from 15 January 2016 … Can you please confirm whether you intend to operate this service, and if so, please provide TfL with details of how this service will operate in relation to licensed private hire vehicles or drivers before it is launched”. She also cautioned that such a service might not gain Congestion Charge Zone exemption.
Elvidge replied within quarter of an hour. “We have no current plans for such a service. We would very much like to know where this information has come from. Could you please let us know how you ascertained this?” TfL should reveal their sources to Uber? Hmmm.
Ms Chapman was not inclined to tell Uber: “I believe we have received several enquiries about this from individuals but I am not sure where it originally came from … We thought it best to check with you in the first instance so we could ascertain whether there was anything we needed to be aware of. I am pleased you have clarified your position”.
And there, one might have thought, the correspondence would have ended. Except that it did not, and Elvidge’s next email should have set alarm bells ringing.
It is very interesting that there have been enquiries about something that is untrue - and mentioning such a specific date. I am actually quite concerned that there are multiple requests for information around [a] business model we have no plans to launch. I would really appreciate your support in understanding where this has come from please. Could you forward the emails or share the origins of this?” And there was more.

May I also ask that you do not share this information with parties externally please? As you can well imagine competitors of ours may be seeking to learn this information, and we would of course prefer that such questions remain unanswered!

I’ll bet he would. And two things here. One, if Uber want disclosure of correspondence, they can put in an FoI request just like everyone else has to - TfL is not there to show favour to one or other private hire operator. And two, the suggestion that TfL should not respond to legitimate questions is totally out of order.

It gets worse: Uber launched UberEATS in June last year, boasting at the launch that “thousands” of couriers had already signed up. The idea that they knew nothing about that launch in January beggars belief. So that’s brazen deceit to add to the attempt to mess about with Freedom of Information laws. And they want their licence renewing.

Tommy Robinson’s Pals CHARGED

Another day, another laughable example of the far right playing the victim, as the fallout from a court case where four men were tried and convicted of raping a 16-year-old girl in a room above a Ramsgate takeaway continues. Zelo Street regulars will be familiar with the attempted intervention in proceedings by Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, which landed him with a suspended prison sentence.
All pals together

Lennon and his then sidekick Caolan Robertson had fetched up at Canterbury Crown Court with the intention of having one of those “polite conversations” with the accused men, only to fall foul of contempt laws by filming in and around the court building, which is expressly forbidden - as in, spelt out on signs displayed prominently. This earned Lennon a dawn raid at his home, and once again, yes, he was the victim.

But that was not all: the court case had also attracted the attention of Lennon’s new pals Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen of Britain First, the organisation which had the most unfortunate distinction of getting itself linked to the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox last year. The pair were nicked in the Tonbridge area on suspicion of inciting religious hatred, and Golding was later detained by the Police. He, too, was a victim.
Now, both these less than totally august individuals have been charged with religiously aggravated harassment. As Sky News has reported, “Kent Police said their investigation into the pair was related to leaflets distributed in Thanet and Canterbury, and videos posted during a trial at Canterbury Crown court … Golding was charged with three count of harassment while Fransen was charged with four … Both have been bailed to appear before Medway magistrates on 17 October 2017”.

One wonders if their pal Tommy, Stephen, or whatever other alias he chooses, will be there to offer support. What is not in dispute is that Lennon (aka Robinson) knows the Britain First pair have been charged - he has already disputed the matter, and more than likely before he bothers himself to find out what for.
After Tweeting a photo of the lucky couple with the straightforward caption “Britain First leader Paul Golding charged with harassment”, Lennon launched into a tirade against, well, anyone not backing the judgment of Himself Personally Now: “This is bollox. The men were on bail for raping an English child [and] were still running the same chicken shop they did it in. Now all convicted”. Which means what, exactly?

Does “English child” (the girl was 16) confer special status in law? Why should the fact that the men got guilty (three of them were given 14 year sentences) make what Golding and Ms Fransen did somehow OK? Has he read up on the law, and been in touch with anyone involved in the case (apart from those charged)? That’ll be more of those Questions To Which The Answer Is No, then.

Unlike Lennon (aka Robinson), Zelo Street understands the contempt laws and will therefore be making no further comment before the court case next month. One of these days, he will form a similar understanding. But, sadly, probably not just yet.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Nigel Farage - Blood On WHOSE Hands?

From the customarily bullish manner, anyone observing the bluster of former UKIP Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage might think that all was well in the former head Kipper’s world. But despite today’s BBC-bashing braggadocio, nothing could be further from the truth. Nige may be OK providing he stays put in the UK, but across the North Atlantic, the news is bad, and getting a lot worse.
Squeaky impending extradition finger up the bum time

So keeping up the appearance of normality is paramount, and to this end Mr Thirsty has been to New Broadcasting House ostensibly to register a complaint, but in reality to maintain the media profile of Himself Personally Now. As he’s not been invited on The Andy Marr Show (tm), Daily Politics, Newsnight or especially Question Time recently, he’s been forced to invent a supposed slight by the Beeb.

His hand-delivered letter to Director-General Lord Hall-Hall contained the ultimate pointless ultimatum: “If the BBC do not apologise for saying I have blood on my hands, I will stop paying the licence fee”. Sadly for Nige, the BBC has not made this claim, and so cannot apologise for it. Even the Murdoch Sun makes clear that a member of the public made the claim to reporter John Sweeney, who stressed that Farage denied it.

This did not stop Mr Thirsty taking out a king-sized onion and blubbering “Sweeney did make it clear that I denied this allegation, but the damage was done and this hugely irresponsible piece of journalism was aired, presumably after a BBC lawyer had seen it … Could there be any better example of BBC bias when it comes to Britain's democratically determined withdrawal from the EU?” The EU Done It. What a dickhead.
And what neither Farage, nor LBC, and nor the Sun are telling anyone is that this is a mere diversionary tactic: the real problem for Mr Thirsty is that events in the USA have been revealed to have taken a turn for the worse - well, for him, anyway. Nige’s connection to Russia-friendly folks in the USA is well known, particularly Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.

Now, CNN has revealed thatUS investigators wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort under secret court orders before and after the election … The government snooping continued into early this year, including a period when Manafort was known to talk to President Donald Trump”. He talked to Farage, too. But do go on.

The warrant under which this snooping was permitted “was part of the FBI's efforts to investigate ties between Trump campaign associates and suspected Russian operatives”. And get this: “The FBI interest in Manafort dates back at least to 2014, partly as an outgrowth of a US investigation of Viktor Yanukovych, the former Ukrainian president whose pro-Russian regime was ousted amid street protests”.

That’s doubly embarrassing for Farage: in March 2014, after the Ukranian uprising, he asserted that his pal Yanukovych was “a legitimate president”, and after peddling the theory that the EU was behind the protests, guess what he told anyone who would listen?

That’s right: “I repeat the charge: the EU has blood on its hands”. Could there be a better example of paranoia when it comes to Europhobes? It won’t wash, Nige - you’re in deep shit with the FBI and there’s no vacancy at the Ecuadorian embassy.

Delingpole Climate Lies EXPOSED

While global temperatures continue inexorably upwards, there are still a few pockets of climate change denialism keeping faith with the idea that it isn’t really happening, and everything will be fine if we just abandon renewable energy and indulge in Polar oil exploration, along with lots of fracking somewhere up north away from where all the obscenely overpaid hacks and pundits happen to live.
"Gay marriage" ... "Global warming" ... "Bird-slicing, bat-chomping eco crucifixes" ... "Red meat Conservatism" ... "Dishonest selective quotation" ... "Easily provable dishonesty" ... "Credibility oblivion"

And the Murdoch Sun is still willing to indulge these dinosaurs, notably James “Saviour of Western Civilisation” Delingpole, who has been given a platform today to tell readers “How scientists got their global warming sums wrong - and created a £1TRILLION-a-year green industry that bullied experts who dared to question the figures”.

Poor Del Boy has been bullied? He claims so: “whenever we spoke out, the response was the same - we were bullied, vilified, derided and dismissed as scientifically illiterate loons by a powerful climate alarmist establishment which brooked no dissent”. Two things here. One, as Paul Nurse demonstrated, Delingpole IS a “scientifically illiterate loon”. And two, if he’s been “derided and dismissed”, what’s he doing in today’s Sun?

Anyhow - what’s the story? Well, as is usual, Del Boy takes a while to get to the point, but by the ninth paragraph of his rant he deigns to tell us: “In a new paper in the prestigious journal Nature Geoscience, the scientists who produce those doomsday reports for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have finally come clean”.

And how do they “come clean”? “The computer models they’ve been using to predict runaway global warming are wrong … The report’s authors say it is now much more likely that the world will meet its CO2 reduction targets agreed at the UN’s Paris summit in 2015 … it is now clear the impact of CO2 has been overstated”. Has it now?
There is only one problem with Del Boy’s screed - we can check the paper he quotes. And its conclusions are by no means as cut and dried as suggested. “it could be easier than previously thought to limit global warming to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels”, we are told - note “could” - before the warning “But even if the team is right - and some researchers are already questioning the conclusions - heroic efforts to curb greenhouse-gas emissions will still be necessary to limit warming”. So Del Boy is over-inflating his soufflé here.

And he isn’t telling his readers about this observation: “Humanity is poised to blow through the IPCC’s carbon budget for a 1.5 °C rise within a few years, leading many scientists to declare the goal impossible. But the new analysis suggests that it could be met with a modest strengthening of the current Paris pledges up to 2030, followed by sharp cuts in carbon emissions thereafter”. Strengthening of pledges. Sharp emissions cuts.

Also, note that “The work is receiving mixed reviews. Some argue that the analysis is fundamentally flawed, because it centres on a period of slower warming that began around the turn of the millennium. This period, often referred to as the climate hiatus, continued until 2014. Scientists think that natural variability in the climate system temporarily suppressed temperatures during this period”. Del Boy didn’t mention that, either.

So Delingpole trousered another fat paycheque - for at best being creative, and at worst peddling another pack of lies. So no change there, then.

May’s Web Ban Bravado BUSTED

Understanding the Web is one of those areas where there are plenty of people trying to educate those who scrabble around the dunghill that is Grubstreet, but precious few ready to listen to them. Those unable or unwilling to listen, sadly, include many in Government, and hence today’s screaming headline from the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre - a technophobe without compare - at the Daily Mail.
After Mail campaign, May’s ultimatum to Web giants … TAKE DOWN HATE VIDEOS IN TWO HOURS … OR ELSE” thunders the self-congratulatory declaration (the story, such as it is, has also been briefed to the Murdoch Sun, whose interpretation is “2 HRS TO GET I. S. OFF WEB”). So what is in store? “Google and Facebook face punishing fines unless they remove terrorist propaganda within a two-hour limit”.

And there is, sadly for the inmates of the Northcliffe House bunker, more: “Theresa May will use a summit in New York tonight to warn the technology giants and their rivals that her patience is running out over their failure to clamp down on jihadi groups … She will say they have only a month to make progress. If they don’t, the Government will legislate to make them liable for extremist content on their sites”.
Very good. So let’s take this nice and slowly, for those in the Fourth Estate who still can’t get their heads round the technology involved. Facebook, yes, can remove content, if that content has been posted there. Facebook can also remove links to content elsewhere, but as the content concerned is not posted there, it can’t remove it. Facebook can, of course, flag the content to those hosting it, but has no sanction on them.

Then we get to Google. Yes, there are ways that Google can remove content, such as anything posted using Google Blogger. That is the straightforward part. But for most content accessed via Google search, it is not Google’s content: all the company does is use its search engine to offer users a series of links. Google can remove links. But, once more, it cannot then go and remove the offending content.
There is more that the press briefing does not answer: being able to levy fines in the UK, France and Italy is all very well, but if the content is hosted outside those countries, and companies like Google and Facebook have removed links to it, the Government has little else it can do. Is the Mail suggesting that Britain indulge in the kind of web-blocking practised by countries like China? You know … censorship?

The problem the Mail has is not just its technophobia, but that it has built up companies such as Google in such a way to suggest that they ARE the Web, that they alone can switch off all that Bad Content. Explaining what is, and more importantly, is NOT possible might make the paper’s readers better informed, but would also underscore that Alastair Campbell was right all those years ago to call the MailThe Dacre Lie Machine”.

Sometimes you need more experts. And fewer media establishment loudmouths.