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Saturday, 25 March 2017

Sun Google Hypocrisy

Following yesterday’s assault on Google by the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre at the Daily Mail, and not merely by coincidence, the Murdoch goons at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun have also decided to lay into the tech giant, but only because of their public spirited desire to combat terrorism, and not because Google is nicking all the advertising revenue they think should be theirs, oh no.
So it was that today’s Sun Says rantedBy putting profits first, Google is complicit in creating recruiting platforms for jihadis … It's bad enough that it is structured with one purpose — to pay a pittance in taxes — but Google’s refusal to stop helping the terrorists is simply an outrage”, which is as close to the Mail’sGOOGLE, THE TERRORIST’S FRIEND” as makes no difference. And there was more.

THE chairman of Parliament’s intelligence committee  put it perfectly: The security services have performed a miracle in protecting us from terror plots since the last attack in 2005 … Dominic Grieve knows just how many maniacs are out there trying to kill us  and how impossible it is to monitor every one of them … On any given day there are thought to be around 70 live plots. That means the security services have no choice but to prioritise who they monitor”. OK, so they missed Khalid Masood. Do go on.

MI5 need to look at how they might have spotted the threat from him and what lessons they can learn … But instead of blaming them for that mistake we should thank them for their record of success and do what we can to help them be even better … That means everyone. Including digi giants  such as Google, whose only contribution so far has been to make things much, much worse”. And how have they done that?

Not satisfied with leeching content and profits from the work of traditional media firms, they refuse to take down things that directly aid terrorists”. Whining about advertising revenue again. “Google put their own  profits above the fight against terror. They are complicit in creating  recruiting platforms for murderous jihadis”.

So allowing video and text content that might help wannabe jihadists is Streng Verboten, then. Perhaps the Sun hacks would tell that to the paper that saidISIS has developed a form of ‘remote control’ to direct and encourage so-called lone wolf attacks on the West, it is claimed … Their instruction is carried almost entirely via encrypted social media … Reports suggest much of the jihadis’ communication is done via the Telegram app”.

That paper did another treacherous article that toldMasood only managed to get on to the estate because the gates were open for a ministerial vote … Commons security experts were aware it was a security weak spot … The entrance is often left open during votes so ministers can drive in and out quickly”. Who would give so many clues to apprentice terrorists? Where was this treasonous copy published?

Er, it was IN THE SUN - the SAME PAPER that has been dumping on Google for allowing the posting of terrorist related content. Except the Murdoch goons aren’t just allowing the content, they’re researching and writing it too. Hypocrisy, much?

Don’t help the jihadis, says the Sun - that’s their job. Once again - Don’t Buy The Sun.

Carswell Jumps Before Being Pushed

With the Kippers falling apart, former backer Arron Banks hitting them with a £200,000 bill while he looks to form his own rival party, former leader Nigel “Thirsty” Farage swanning off to use his LBC show and appearances on Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse) to score More And Bigger Paycheques For Himself Personally Now, and the EU’s fraud squad on their case, the last thing they needed was more unrest.
So today they got it: UKIP’s one MP, Douglas “Kamikaze” Carswell, lived up to his nickname and left the party. His statement makes particularly lamentable reading; this is, as with so much in politics nowadays, self-serving and excuse-making rolled into one.

Here’s what he had to say: “Like many of you, I switched to UKIP because I desperately wanted us to leave the EU. Now we can be certain that that is going to happen, I have decided that I will be leaving UKIP … I will not be switching parties, nor crossing the floor to the Conservatives, so do not need to call a by-election, as I did when switching from the Conservatives to UKIP. I will simply be the member of parliament for Clacton, sitting as an Independent”. Carswell is to become The Member For Himself.

While this news will cheer Farage and Banks - plus their followers - it removes UKIP’s credibility of having at least one MP. Farage may spend plenty of time slagging off Parliament, but if it’s such a bad place, why has he made seven attempts to get in there (failing every time)? Why has his successor, comedy Scouser Paul Nuttall, the “bad Bootle Meff”, had five goes at getting in (and he’s failed every time, too)?

There will be no chance of “Short money” trickling down to the wider UKIP organisation, nobody there to lobby for the party’s interests, and with Britain set to leave the EU, after 2019 there will be no MEPs either. Mr Thirsty and those on his wing of UKIP might be cheering at the sight of Carswell walking out, but his departure tears away their fig-leaf of credibility - and their ability to turn other MPs to follow their cause.

So why did Carswell throw in the purple towel? Ah well. Consider Nuttall’s recent appearance before the inquisition of the host on The Andy Marr Show (tm), when the question of whether Carswell lobbied with sufficient enthusiasm for Farage to get a gong of some sort was discussed. Nuttall’s response shows why Carswell left.

This is what he said to Marr: “we’ve had it in writing now from Douglas Carswell that he lobbied for Nigel Farage to get a knighthood and he spoke to the people involved. He’s put it in writing, let’s see what happens. It’ll go to the national executive”. He later added “if it’s proven the Douglas lobbied for Nigel to get a knighthood … then I don’t see a problem”.

Carswell resigning from UKIP tells you that he thought it would not be proven to the satisfaction of the party’s national executive. He was expecting to be pushed, and so jumped first. This, too, may give Farage and his pals a warm feeling, but the fact remains that Carswell has saved himself by abandoning the sinking ship just in time.

Nuttall told Marr “I’ve only been in this role for 13 weeks … Give me time to sort out this mess and I will”. But it’s looking increasingly likely that there will be precious little left for him to sort out, let alone lead. The implosion of UKIP continues. Good thing too.

Daily Mail Turns On Uber

Driver and rider matching service Uber has found recently that doing business in London is becoming more testing: new Mayor Sadiq Khan is proving rather less easy to manipulate than his all too occasional predecessor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, many drivers are becoming unhappy at having rate cuts imposed on them, there is an upcoming court case on payment of VAT to contend with - and now the Mail is on their case.
That today’s Mail hatchet job on Uber is serious can be seen by taking one look at the name on the by-line: Guy Adams is the go-to hack when the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre wants to dole out the paper’s equivalent of a punishment beating, or what The Italian Job’s mastermind Mr Bridger would have called “A good going over”. So why has the Mail suddenly decided that Uber is not their kind of company?

Ah well. The principal villains targeted in Adams’ article tell you why: Dacre never really liked now former PM David Cameron, and when he found that Young Dave had approached Viscount Rothermere - Dacre’s ultimate boss - in an attempt to have him fired, the dislike turned to full-on detestation. Dave’s former next door Downing Street neighbour, the Rt Hon Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the seventeenth Baronet, is also involved - and Dacre does not approve of his money-grubbing exploits.
An absolute Muppet. And Elmo from Sesame Street

Cameron and Osborne were pals with one Rachel Whetstone, wife of Dave’s now former advisor Steve Hilton. Dacre is not impressed with Hilton either. Ms Whetstone had just gone to work for Uber when it is widely believed that Cameron and Osborne - plus, it seems, Sajid Javid, Oliver Letwin and others - leaned on Bozza to lay off Uber.

The suppression of Bozza’s moves to get some proper regulation and control into the private hire sector in London is well known within City Hall and the taxi trade. The belief remains that Cameron and Osborne were acting like Uber’s own lobbyists. The difference today is that everyone else is now becoming aware of this scandal; sometimes the Mail can perform a useful function. If only it happened more often.
What everyone else is also learning is that Black Rock, where Osborne has an advisory role, has a total stake in Uber of around £500 million. But more significantly, Adams makes sure Daily Mail readers know that Uber pays UK tax at a rate of around 1%, with the company structured so that punters’ money is paid over to a company in the Netherlands, all helping to avoid paying that taxman what the little people have to.

And it gets a lot worse: Zelo Street can reveal that the Mail has seen much more damning evidence of Uber misbehaviour that has been revealed in Adams’ article. So if Cameron, Osborne, Bozza, Hilton and Ms Whetstone think that this is just going to be one harrumphing broadside from the Vagina Monologue, from which they can dust themselves down and move on, they have another think coming.

The supremacy of Uber in London was for a time, but not for all time.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Littlejohn - The Terrorist’s Friend

After the London attack has come the array of variously clueless pundits spewing out their drivel for the right-leaning part of the Fourth Estate - drivel that, by the most fortunate of coincidences, matches the agenda of those papers, which holds, more or less, that it’s all the fault of Tony Blair. Yuman Rights, Political Correctness, and not being able to share a joke which calls all brown and black people racist and abusive names.
Multiculturalism, Guv? Iss too long a word, innit?!?

This has, with sad inevitability, brought us to the latest rather less than magnum opus from the Daily Mail’s tedious and unfunny churnalist Richard Littlejohn, who knows all about the state of Britain today, living as he does not in north-east London, which he occasionally pretends to do, but in North Vero Beach, which is in the southern US state of Florida.

Dicky Windbag can find a good word only for one person involved in Wednesday’s attack, the Police officer who was fatally stabbed by the attacker, whom he persistently labels as a “jihadi”, although Khalid Masood was born Adrian Elms just over 52 years ago and was a violent criminal before he converted to Islam. For everyone else involved, Littlejohn has only contempt, and is prepared to lie through his teeth to back it up.

His first big lie is aimed at demonising MPs: “The real heroes were on Westminster Bridge and in New Palace Yard, trying to save lives. They weren’t cowering in the secure confines of the Commons chamber, tweeting … Although this attack has been painted, with justification, as an assault on the Mother of Parliaments, there was never any danger to a single MP inside its walls”. Where does one start?

One, there certainly was danger to MPs: had Masood known where to go, he could have found dozens of them in one or other division lobbies, and without being stopped or having to show a pass (this is being reviewed as I type). Two, MPs did not “cower”. They were locked in by the cops. And three, I’m sure Tobias Ellwood, the MP who selflessly tried to save PC Keith Palmer, will appreciate Dicky Boy suggesting he’s a coward.

Still, it was the “political class” at fault: they “have fostered the conditions which allow Islamist fundamentalism to flourish in Britain … They encouraged the pernicious doctrine of ‘multiculturalism’ - which is just a fancy word for apartheid and has created vast, monocultural Muslim ghettoes in our great cities”. Apartheid, is it?

Do we have pass laws? No. How about segregation on public transport? No. Any sport where we segregate by race and/or colour? No. Segregation in education and higher education? No. Segregation in politics? No. Racial discrimination in the workplace? No. Racial discrimination in the Police? No. NHS? No. Fire and rescue? No. So we don’t have Apartheid - except in the disease-ridden bonce of Richard Littlejohn.

The politicians have opened the floodgates to mass immigration without insisting on integration”. What’s “integration”? Not being allowed to follow a chosen religion? Being shamed and bullied by the Daily Mail into behaving as the Vagina Monologue dictates?

But that political class also “permitted foreign hate preachers from cruel theocracies to set up shop here”. Who? Abu Hamza? He was from Egypt (not a theocracy). Abu Qatada? He was born in Bethlehem. You heard of Bethlehem, Dicky boy?

Still, “As a result [of what the political class allegedly did], it is possible to spend your entire life here without ever subscribing to one of our traditional values”. You mean the Scary Muslims (tm) don’t read the Daily Mail? Well, that’s them bang to rights, and no mistake.

And don’t forget, “Over the past couple of decades, politicians have turned Britain into a safe haven for terrorists from all over the world, thanks to Tony Blair’s disastrous yuman rites act, which he once described as his proudest achievement in politics”. Two things here. One, if there are so many terrorists, why does it take so many years for any of them to kill anyone? And Two, that “Yuman Rights Act” is being cited by the paper you write for when it suits it. But do go on.

They lavish welfare benefits on the scum of the earth and refuse to deport them even when they are convicted of serious offences or are quite clearly hell-bent of doing us harm”. One, you’re just lying, and two, we don’t. This dishonesty would get Littlejohn’s arse wiped by IPSO as it’s “only an opinion column”, so don’t bother complaining about it.

Try some humour. “Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of young men and women born and bred in this country have travelled to Syria to join Izal”. Dicky, you’re a twat. It isn’t funny, and in any case, Masood didn’t go to Syria.

Oh, and don’t compare this to Jo Cox’s killing, because that was a specifically targeted attack (he says). That’s why someone else was gravely wounded in it.

The reality of Khalid Masood, né Adrian Elms, is that he was a violent criminal before he became a Muslim. Had he knocked someone over in his car, but not been a follower of the prophet, Littlejohn would have either not batted an eyelid, or excused him as being a “lone wolf”. The Westminster attacker wasn’t part of some international jihadi conspiracy.

Telling his pack of lies, which concludes with another whopper - “In the Nineties, the political class took the view that provided the Islamists didn’t commit any acts of terror on British soil, they were welcome to operate with impunity” - doesn’t excuse this tactic.

Richard Littlejohn is a liar, a bigot, and a prime example of “Power without responsibility”. He has the brass neck to lecture us from the safety of his gated mansion in Florida. The only certainty is that this kind of shit-stirring and rabble-rousing will only inflame tensions and bring closer the moment that someone else does something inadvisable - whatever their race or religion. But then, hatred is what the Mail and its pundits are all about.

In this way, they and the terrorists continue their symbiotic relationship. I give you Richard Littlejohn, the terrorist’s friend.

Arron Banks To Split UKIP

After the London attack two days ago, it might have been thought that the motley convocation of saloon bar propper-uppers at UKIP would be making hay, and more importantly for them, making progress with all those frightened voters they need to keep on side. But their former talisman Nigel “Thirsty” Farage has been ranting to little purpose, despite his LBC show, as his routine dishonesty is called out.
Worse for Mr Thirsty, he now has the problem of an Ofcom investigation into his rabble-rousing claim that the Swedish city of Malmo is “the rape capital of Europe, if not the world”, the most likely explanation for all the complaints being because his claim is a pack of lies. And after his pal and mentor Arron Banks upped the stakes in his pointless war with the Kippers, Farage has another problem - who to support.

Mr Thirsty still describes himself absurdly as a “UKIP MEP”, despite his only visits to Brussels being to ensure he keeps on using his role to generate More And Bigger Paycheques For Himself Personally Now. But Banks has now taken his bat - and his wallet - away from the Kippers and is preparing to set up his own party in competition. Farage, as Harry Callahan once said, has to ask himself one question: does he feel lucky?

Because Banks’ actions can have only one consequence: the split of UKIP. His new party, which has the modest title of The Patriotic Movement - surely the first and only time anyone will give allegiance to a red, white and blue turd - is looking to field 100 candidates at the next General Election. He claims this will be in seats where the MP backed Remain but the constituency voted Leave, but the only loser will be UKIP.
Might as well pull the f***in' trigger, then

At the same time, Banks has continued his mardy strop against the Kippers by announcing that he is to take action to recoverthe thick end of £200,000” from them, “for office services he provided, including the use of call centres”. UKIP responded that “Since Arron Banks first became involved with Ukip, before the last General Election, he has been a generous donor … All the support he has given Ukip has been on that basis and not on a supplier/client one”, which means it will probably end up in court.

Meanwhile, that Banks is serious is underscored by his claim to have hired Young Dave’s former adviser Steve Hilton, to get his new party clued up on “how you fund local candidates, how you put them forward, how you do things”. Hilton is so committed to UK politics, he now lives in the USA. All of which leaves Farage having to choose.

A contested action for that £200,000 will weaken UKIP badly. UKIP’s poll ratings have plummeted recently. And - whisper it quietly - Zelo Street hears that Banks may well have a sitting MP lined up for The Patriotic Movement. So what is Farage going to do? He gets paid by the EP up to 2019 anyway, then if we leave the EU it makes no odds to him if he jumps ship to help his pal Banks - and score a bit of cash on the side.

With a clown like Paul Nuttall at the helm, UKIP will be helplessly split, and what is worse for them, nobody will give a flying foxtrot about it. Welcome back Peoples’ Front of Judea.

Mail’s Sick Google Smear BUSTED

While the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre and his obedient hackery at the Daily Mail will defend their front page splash today by claiming - erroneously and dishonestly - that they are merely acting to curb the availability of terrorist information, others will see their move for what it is: a deliberate and cynical attempt to hobble a competitor. As so often with the Dacre doggies, this is all about financial self-interest.
Why the f*** can't I manipulate a terror attack to kick the competition, c***?!? Er, with the greatest of respect, Mr Jay

Beneath the headline “Yesterday it took the Mail two minutes on [the] web to find a terror manual on how to use a car for mass murder … GOOGLE, THE TERRORIST’S FRIEND” is a desperate smear of someone who is doing rather better with the advertisers - and proving far more popular than the Mail. And, as a perusal of the supporting article shows, the Mail is also targeting Twitter. So why dump on these players?

Simples. Let’s first consider the claim that it’s only about Google. It isn’t: there are several search engines out there; it’s just that Google is the most successful. Were Google to disappear, another search engine would quickly assume prominence, be made the default for searches, and would continue to rake in all that advertising revenue.

Did I say advertising revenue? Here we get to the really sore point for the Mail: as the chart shows, Google’s income from advertising has grown from $0.07 billion in 2001 to a whopping $79.38 billion last year. But while Google continued to grow its advertising revenue last year, the Mail’s parent company experienced an 11% fall in its numbers.
Twitter, in the meantime, made $641 million from advertising in the last quarter of 2015, so it’s safe to say that its revenue is well over $2 billion a year. And unlike the Mail - but like Google - that revenue was growing, at around 48% year-on-year.

What does that mean? Well, coupled with the culture of fear and paranoia in the Northcliffe House bunker, and the effect of feeding readers scare stories telling them to be frightened of “the other”, that means the Dacre doggies see Google making more money, compare it to their own piss-poor performance, and conclude that Google is nicking their trade.

Moreover, the Mail does not do itself any favours by reproducing the cover of what it claims is a “vile manual” which is one of several “Guides to mounting a car terror attack” (the guide the Mail depicts actually shows trucks, not cars, but hey ho). But in a typically thundering Daily Mail Comment, the paper is unequivocal on the action required.
The real reason for Dacre's rage: Google ad revenue

The inescapable conclusion is that these multi-billion dollar web behemoths, which have algorithms that can do virtually anything [!], don’t care that they have become recruiting platforms for terrorists … They do nothing despite repeated pleas from politicians … this situation cannot be allowed to continue. The web giants must either clean up their acts or be made to do so by law and regulation”. How convenient for the Mail.

Government must keep well clear of our free and fearless press, but the sickos at the Mail are OK to use Wednesday’s attack in London to demand that they step in and hobble the press’ competition. Meanwhile, Dacre also diverts attention away from the blagging scandal his lawyers are trying so hard to stop being made public. Hypocrisy, much?

Thursday, 23 March 2017

London Attack - InfoWars Moron Speaks

While the real news media was trying to make sense of events as they unfolded yesterday, while finding the time to also report them, the bottom feeders of the conspiracy theory right wing were busily trying to shape what news they could lay their hands on into the desired form, which was, as so often, one where the Scary Muslims (tm) could be dumped on.
Paul Watson - fantasy versus reality

Nowhere was this more apparent than in the little world of Walter Mitty act-alike Paul Watson, who now calls himself an “editor at large” for Alex Jones’ crackpot rant site otherwise known as InfoWars. These less than august beings occupy that space way out on the right also inhabited by the convocation of the irredeemably batshit that is Breitbart.
And despite his grand title, Watson is not a proper journalist, and therefore cannot claim any press credentials. So although he is walking distance from the incident - in Battersea - he is, it seems, confined to his bunker and only able to declare “Terror attack in London” because he saw something on Mail Online. But he could also tell “This was the series of events” because he had seen a map somewhere on social media.
In any case, he was soon into his racist and conspiracy wacko stride, with “Terrorist described as ‘Asian’. In the UK, Asian is the politically correct way of saying Muslim or Middle Eastern” and then “BBC & Sky News noticeably not reporting eyewitness descriptions of terrorist that are being reported elsewhere”. SCARY CONSPIRACY!
There just HAD to be one of those Muslims at fault. Of course - blame Sadiq Khan! So there was Watson, knowingly Tweeting “I’ll just leave this here” and including a report that suggested Khan said terror attacks were “part and parcel” of living in a major city. But Khan actually said “THE THREAT of terror attacks”. Watson can’t even lie convincingly.
Then it was back to pretending he knew what he was talking about: “I saw high police activity near Albert Bridge 3 miles away from scene of London attack before it happened. Maybe were aware of a threat”. Looked out of the window while washing his fingers and saw a couple of cop cars and a meat van. Have another go.
Notably, terror attack happened on the day when the attacker would have known Prime Minister Theresa May was inside Parliament”. Yeah, right. That’s just speculation - Theresa May was actually in Parliament when the attack happened, but at 1440 hours, more than two hours after PMQs concludes, the attacker cannot have KNOWN.
Still, there were always rotten lefties to goad, eh? “So now it's time for leftists to express their concern about people being mean to Muslims even as victims are still dying in hospital”. Nobody was talking about Muslims except you and your pals. Try again. “Left's response to the terror attack is to get angry at Tommy Robinson, the guy who repeatedly warned about the very terrorist responsible”. No he didn’t, he got the wrong man.

Paul Watson gets traction for his puerile bigotry from the kinds of people who credit InfoWars with credibility. Otherwise he’d be better employed keeping himself occupied with a few dirty books and a hanky. And leaving this kind of thing to the grownups.

London Attack - Fox News OTT

One interesting sideshow - when the dust has settled from attacks such as the one that left four dead in central London yesterday - is the reaction of the media outside the UK, which brings us to the shameful behaviour of those in and around Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse) who have decided to go completely gaga and suggest that London is experiencing something not unadjacent to the End Times.
One look at the outpourings from Fox hosts, pundits and guests tells you all you need to know about what might happen were Creepy Uncle Rupe to get his mitts on the 61% of Sky that he does not yet own and turn Sky News into something like a Fox clone. Every attention-seeker, mouth artist and far-right shill has been piling in.
Kicking things off on the Fox fright-fest was professional gobshite Sean Hannity, telling viewers loudly and boorishly “Sadly, today’s attack in #London is all too familiar for the people of Europe”. Yeah, right. That’s why I didn’t see it in Amsterdam, Berlin, Munich, Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Naples, Rome, Milan, Paris, Barcelona, Madrid, Lisbon or any of the other cities I’ve visited recently. BULLSHIT.
Meanwhile, Seb Gorka, whose links to a European Nazi group have recently been revealed, “called the London attack ‘just one more tragic piece of evidence of how very real the threat is to America and to her allies’”. What threat to America? But do go on.
Did they have any idea who the perpetrator was? What the heck, get Nigel “Thirsty” Farage on and make an assumption: “Anti-Travel Ban Protesters Need to Reflect on London Terror Attack” said The Great Man, going on to pontificate that “it should highlight the importance of properly vetting immigrants and refugees”. More bullshit.
Could they go even lower than Mr Thirsty? Oh yes they could. Tucker Carlson - well regarded by Piers Morgan, which reflects not at all well on the GMB co-host - consulted the oracle that is pro-am motormouth Katie Hopkins. “.@KTHopkins on UK terror: "People are cowed. People are afraid. And people are not united”. And thrice I call bullshit.
They weren’t through yet: this morning, Carlson will have as one of his guests Walid Phares, who calls himself a “National Security & Foreign Policy Expert”. He advises a Congressional group. And he probably ranks as high as any in Rome. His Twitter trailer for his appearance simply tells “Will be on Tucker on Fox News at 9 AM EST to discuss the terror act in London. ‘One man can shut down a city’”. That’s a straight f*** right off.
Fortunately, Fox News Channel is also able to - albeit inadvertently - put the London attack in some sort of perspective, as it has also reported “BREAKING: Officer, 3 others killed in Wisconsin shootings; suspect in custody, officials say”. The same number of deaths as in London, the same number of Police officers involved. Except there will be no gobbing off from Hannity or Carlson, no punditry from Farage, Hopkins and the rest.

We’ll take no lessons on domestic terrorism from the American right and their favoured media mouthpiece, thanks very much. No wonder they call it Faux News.

We Are Not Afraid

Those who look in regularly on Zelo Street may have expected some comment on the deadly incident in London yesterday afternoon: if so, my apologies, but there are times when it is best to sit back and observe, take in the enormity of the crime, reflect on what has happened, and above all make sure that the facts are to hand. There was also the realisation that I could have been very adjacent to all of that.
Only the previous week, on the same day of the week, I had joined other campaigners for a lobby event in Parliament, then, later in the afternoon, attended a briefing round at the House of Lords committee rooms. After that, it was to join a group walking across Westminster to an evening reception. All of the scenes you saw in the news bulletins were part of that day, a routine that is as familiar to me as it is to many others.

What is also familiar is the interaction with all those officers of the Metropolitan Police who work tirelessly to keep the Palace of Westminster secure. On that previous Wednesday, they ushered visitors to the Commons through the security point, made sure we all had our badges telling “Visitor Has Been Scanned”. A helpful officer patrolling the lobby checked that I knew my way to the Committee Room corridor.

Back outside Parliament, another helpful officer - this one armed with a prominently held automatic weapon - took time out to describe how to locate Black Rod’s Garden Entrance. Later in the afternoon, one of his colleagues on duty at that entrance checked my name against his admission list, before allowing me through to another encounter with the scanner and a walk across the courtyard to the Lords’ committee rooms.

All of those Police officers stuck to their task with diligence and good humour, while keeping in mind the need to keep safe both those who work in and around Parliament, and those who - as is their historic right - visit to lobby their MPs, attend events, or just come for the guided tour. Those officers are part of the team that lets We The People interact personally with our representatives, get up close to the heart of our democracy.

And any one of those officers I encountered could have been Keith Palmer. Doing his job, doing his best to keep everyone reassured and happy while keeping them safe. Trying all the time to balance security and liberty. Except one of those officers did not complete their shift yesterday, and the security services now have another threat to understand, figure out, and learn how to deal with. It will not be easy; it never is.

Parliament will be open today; the business of democracy not only continuing, but seen to be doing so. An act of terrorism, whoever or whatever has inspired it, has left the perpetrator, two innocent bystanders, and that Police officer dead. The clock cannot be turned back. But the real motive of such attacks - to frighten us all to the point of curtailing our movements - has failed. And it will continue to fail.

To those who would disrupt our lives, there is one simple message: we are not afraid

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Mail Judge Witch Hunt Condemned

After the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre and two of his executive colleagues decided to push the panic button and use legal threats to silence Byline Media’s exposé of their using illegally gathered information, we have seen just how much the Mail titles really care about those who literally sit in judgment. The Dacre doggies want the judiciary to be there to help them, but woe betide them if they displease the Vagina Monologue.
Why can't I f***ing denounce judges, c***? Er, with the greatest of respect, Mr Jay

The Byline threat was not an isolated incident: as Private Eye magazine tells in its latest edition (1440, Page 6, and you’ll have to buy a copy), the Mail’s head of legal services Liz Hartley, who is named in the Byline threat, has also been issuing threats to Atlantic Books, who are publishing an “unauthorised” history of the paper. Those threats included destruction of the book, removal of serialisation, demands for apologies, and damages.

Adrian Addison’s book Mail Men was, in the event, not significantly controversial, but the threat only underscores the hypocrisy of the Dacre doggies: reach for the law as a hair trigger response, while using the same law to shoo away anyone who has the temerity to demand the Mail not smear or otherwise defame others. But it was the revelations in the Law Gazette that show the effect of the Mail’s behaviour at its worst.
After reporting that “The lord chief justice has accused lord chancellor Liz Truss of failing to understand her constitutional role in the aftermath of the article 50 judgment”, the article goes on “Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, one of the three judges labelled ‘enemies of the people’ by the Daily Mail after the ruling in November, made an excoriating attack today on Truss’s response”. Ms Truss kept far too schtum for far too long.

Lord Thomas went on to say “I don’t think it is understood how essential it is we are protected. It is clear after the article 50 judgment the claimant had been subject to quite a considerable number of threats and it is the only time in the whole of my judicial career I have had to ask the police for advice and protection”. Moreover, he added that “he did not feel he was being controversial, especially after hearing circuit judges report to being called ‘enemies of the people’ by litigants in person”.
Think about that. The Lord Chief Justice has had to deal with the whole range of criminal cases, including violent robbery, beatings, murder and terrorism. Yet it is only when the press, with the Mail in the vanguard, issues its Stalinist denunciation and labels them “Enemies of the people” that they require Police advice and protection.

Lord Thomas was clear that “we [judges] can talk in general terms but we cannot go into areas of controversy”. The judiciary is there to interpret the law; this they did at that time. The person who should have spoken for them was Liz Truss, and she failed to do so. But it is the irresponsible scapegoating and monstering by the press, and especially the Mail, which inflamed matters so severely. Power without responsibility strikes again.

Had that been an extremist group performing the act of denouncement, the Mail would be down on them like a tonne of bricks, denouncing them for inciting a criminal act or even a terrorist one. I’ll just leave that one there.

Nigel Farage - Russia’s Go-Between

When Zelo Street posted on the visit to the Ecuadorian embassy in London’s upmarket Knightsbridge district by Nigel “Thirsty” Farage, who came over all coy about the incident later and even suggested he never discussed where he went or who he saw - like heck - some of those commenting did not believe either that Julian Assange, who is holed up in the building, was a Russian asset, or that Farage may be one too.
Squeaky lack of patriotism finger up the bum time

But recent revelations by those Stateside investigating the connections of the Trump gang and its hangers-on to the gangsterist régime of Vladimir Vladimirovitch Putin suggest that not only is Assange fatally compromised by his relationship with the Russians, but also that Mr Thirsty is in it up to his neck. The thought that this great self-proclaimed patriot may owe allegiance to a country other than the UK will have Kippers spitting feathers.
I’ll go further: when long-serving Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who represents California’s 43rd Congressional District, put together “Trump’s Kremlin Klan”, and included such luminaries as Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, and yes, Assange in their number, one face was missing - Nigel Farage. The evidence is stacking up by the day.

When Politico compiled seven charts laying out the ties between the Combover Crybaby and the Russians, the third of these - “Trump and Putin, via campaign advisors” - shows Roger Stone linked to Assange via someone named only as “Mystery Person”, the man who told Stone that Clinton campaign emails were about to be published by Wikileaks.
The identity of the “Mystery Personhas been all but revealed by Martin Longman in an article for the Washington Monthly. Titled “Did Nigel Farage Serve as Roger Stone’s Intermediary?”, he teases readers with this revealing paragraph.

The reason people are so interested in Roger Stone’s connections to Julian Assange is because he is a longtime close associate of Donald Trump and business partner with his campaign manager Paul Manafort, and he freely admitted on more than one occasion that he had a backchannel to Assange that provided him with advance notice on (at least the general outlines) of what they would be leaking before they actually leaked it”.
And the key date on that front is August 8 last year: “During an August 8 speech, Stone said, ‘I actually have communicated with Assange’ and then referred to a Wikileaks ‘October surprise.’ Stone subsequently stated that while he had never met or spoken to the Wikileaks founder, the men had a ‘mutual friend’ who served as an ‘intermediary’”.

Roger Stone Tweeted that same day that he had had dinner with Nigel Farage.
Longman also muses “WikiLeaks dumped a bunch of CIA files on the internet yesterday, which also makes Farage’s visit today to Assange especially interesting”.

He concludes “Stone has himself admitted getting his inside information from an intermediary with Julian Assange. He has admitted to dining with Nigel Farage in the relevant time period. Nigel Farage just met with Donald and Ivanka Trump and Steve Bannon less than two weeks ago. Nigel Farage just visited the Ecuadorian embassy in London where Assange lives and couldn’t remember why when questioned about it on the sidewalk outside”. And remember that reference to Paul Manafort?
Ah well. The Boston Globe has something to share with its readers about Manafort: “Trump’s former campaign chairman secretly worked for a Russian billionaire to advance Putin's interests”. Not only does it keep coming up Russians for the Trump gang, but it is very much coming up Russians for the former head Kipper.

Op top of that, current UKIP leader Paul Nuttall is another who sings the praises of Putin. And that’s before mentioning names like Arron Banks, and Russia’s largest commercial bank Alfa Bank, which latter may also be under investigation by the FBI.

It’s looking more and more as if that visit to the Ecuadorian embassy by Mr Thirsty was plainly and simply a dead giveaway. And the involvement of someone from broadcaster LBC is looking increasingly like one of those Most Unwise And Inadvisable Moves.

Is Nigel Farage really a patriot? Maybe, but the country name may not be Great Britain.

Sun Martin McGuinness Hypocrisy

Few public figures provoke such diverse reactions to mention of their name as those who have made the journey from violent dissent to embracing the political process, and those who made that journey during what were, in a statement of monumental understatement, called The Troubles in Northern Ireland, are no exception. So when Republican leader Martin McGuinness died yesterday, not everyone mourned his passing.
Martin McGuinness - beyond light and shade

McGuinness had grown up in Derry during a period where the Catholic and Nationalist tradition in Northern Ireland experienced vicious bigotry at the hands of the Protestant and Unionist majority. Catholics were second class citizens, denied basic civil rights, including voting rights. The abusive repression, often exercised through the Police or their hated part-time backup, the “B Specials”, eventually provoked a furious backlash.

Peaceful protests in support of civil rights were violently curtailed. Successive Westminster Governments took little notice of the problem. By the time they did take notice, the Provisional IRA had become established within the Nationalist community, paramilitary groups were organising on the Unionist side, the army was deployed, and some seriously bad ideas had been tried - like internment - only to make matters worse.
Spot the difference - the English Sun ...

McGuinness was an IRA commander and was undoubtedly responsible for many of what were collectively called atrocities: punishment beatings and murders were all too common. But he was also someone who, at an early stage in The Troubles, the Westminster Government and security forces were talking to. Then came the move by the former IRA men to end the armed struggle and make their cause a solely political one.

What happened during those years in Northern Ireland cannot be blamed on any one group, to one tradition rather than the other. It was too complex a story to simplify, and McGuinness’ journey was typical of that complexity. He took part in some terrible acts, but brought his community to the negotiating table and took on the responsibility, with the Unionist tradition, of governing Northern Ireland for the benefit of all its people.
... and the rather different Irish edition

Acknowledging that journey proved to be beyond some commentators yesterday, and has proved equally difficult for some in the press today. Typical of this difficulty is that shown by the Murdoch Sun, with its front page rant “As McGuinness Dies … Soldier’s Ordeal … UNFORGIVEN … IRA killer can go to hell, say families … Fury as ’74 veteran faces IRA death rap”. What the Murdoch goons have not told their readers is that the man who got killed was an unarmed civilian with learning difficulties.

Still, details, eh? The Sun has to be the soldier’s friend at all times, or rather in England it does. In Ireland, the €1 Irish Sun strikes a very different tone, quoting the widow of Ian Paisley, so long the “Dr No” of the Unionist tradition, simply saying of McGuinness “IT’S NOT HOW YOU BEGIN … IT’S HOW YOU END”. The supporting article begins with a one word description of the former IRA commander: “PEACEMAKER”.

The inability of our free and fearless press to understand that Northern Ireland is a story beyond tabloid simplicity is one thing. The puke-making hypocrisy is of a different order entirely. This lamentably bad journalism serves no-one’s cause. Don’t buy the Sun.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Uber VAT Trick Exposed

The old adage that something that looks too good to be true may appear that way because it is too good to be true might easily be applied to driver and rider matching service Uber, which is now facing an exposure of its dubious business practices rather more damaging than anything that has gone before. That is because what is coming down the track at Travis Kalanick and his merry men is likely to hit them where it really hurts.
And the place where it really hurts is in their collective wallets, on that all-important bottom line. The thing that was always too good to be true was that Uber’s fares so easily undercut both taxi operations - like London’s black cabs - but also established private hire firms. How did they do it? Well, apart from throwing significant amounts of backers’ money at the problem, there was also the question of VAT.

Or, in Uber’s case, the question of No VAT being paid. But how could this be? Transportation services in the UK are subject to VAT at the going rate. Ah well. Uber have - up till now - had a way of dodging that one. As Business Insider has told, “since it claims drivers are all self-employed, it doesn't need to pay costs like national insurance. It also claims it it isn't a transportation service provider, and therefore isn't liable to pay VAT”. But English law, which works on precedent, may be catching up.

Barrister Jolyon Maugham has acted following Uber losing an employment tribunal ruling last year. “The tribunal ruled that Uber's UK workers were entitled to minimum wage, among other benefitsIt also held that Uber was a transportation service, saying: It is unreal to deny Uber is in a business as a supplier of transportation services.’ And if Uber is a transportation service, then it's liable for VAT”. At 16.67%. And it gets worse.
Jolyon Maugham

Maugham has just sent a letter before action to Uber, which is a precursor to formally recovering a debt through legal means … The debt, in this case, is a VAT receipt for one of Maugham's Uber journeys … If Uber is ‘compelled’ to provide a VAT receipt, it is then liable to pay VAT to the UK's tax authority HMRC … Maugham calculated that Uber owes at least £20 million in unpaid tax, and said he'll take Uber to the UK High Court in April”.

But, as I pointed out recently, Uber’s losses accelerated last year: it would be interesting to know how much their finance is costing them, the cost of all those legal actions across the world, and all the PR employed to, shall we say, oil the wheels of media outlets. Uber recently lost its appeal against TfL’s requirement that drivers should possess a reasonable command of English. And previously supportive media players have gone quiet.

Maugham’s action did not make City AM, which has been part of the Uber cheerleader fraternity in the past, and nor did it interest the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog. Nor has it made the increasingly piss-poor Evening Standard. Perhaps they all hope the action will fizzle out and go away.

Because if it succeeds, Uber is in for a Europe-wide caning: VAT will be reclaimed from them across the EU. It was so much easier when transportation robber barons like Cornelius Vanderbilt could buy off lawmakers. Playing by the rules - that can be tricky.

[You can contribute to crowdfunding Jolyon Maugham's action HERE]