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Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Toronto Attack Rebounds On Alt-Right

A hired van has mounted a pavement at speed and mown down several pedestrians in the Canadian city of Toronto. Ten people have been killed; several others have been injured. As the BBC has reported, “Police said the suspect in the van mounted the kerb on Yonge Street between Finch Avenue and Sheppard Avenue at about 13:30 local time (17:30 GMT) on Monday and drove into pedestrians along a 1km (0.6-mile) stretch”.
There was more. “One witness told City News that the driver was ‘hitting anything that comes in the way … People, fire hydrants, there's mail boxes being run over,’ said the unnamed man, who said he was driving behind the van during the incident. As the van continued, the man said he sounded his horn to try to warn pedestrians. ‘I witnessed at least six, seven people being hit and flying in the air, like killed, on the street,’ he said".
It did not take long for the wrong assumptions to be made. Natasha Fatah, who lists areas such as “War. Terror. Islamism” on her Twitter bio, was on the case: “#BREAKING Witness to truck ramming into pedestrians tells local Toronto TV station that the driver looked wide-eyed, angry and Middle Eastern”. Middle Eastern? Ezra Levant of The Rebel was up for an RT of that. And then the real wackos got stuck in.
Battersea bedroom dweller Paul Watson, who has previously warned his fellow fringe idiots not to jump to conclusions, took one look at the unfolding drama, and decided … to jump to conclusions. “9 dead in Toronto, authorities confirm it was a terrorist attack. Terrorist described as ‘Middle Eastern’. ‘Motive unknown.’” Nudge nudge, eh?
And when the Mayor of Toronto failed to agree with him, Watson went further. “A jihadist has just killed 9 people and the Mayor is already out virtue signalling”. Would anyone else out there on the alt-right care to back up that evidence-free conclusion?
You bet they would. After Canadian PM Justin Trudeau said his thoughts were with all those affected, Katie Hopkins snorted “Ten dead Trudeau. Ten. No one needs your thoughts. Do not say you carry on as normal. That you ‘stand united’. Those dead men, women and children do not. Their families do not. You brought this. You are complicit in it. Politicians like you are terrorist shills. #TorontoAttack”.
Yeah, it was terrorism, right? And in case you didn’t hear it first time, Hatey Katie was there to ram it home: “PR comms plan 1) Build vigil plus tea candles for press pack 2) Turn off Eiffel Tower 3) Public ceremony with pro-diversity globalist - (ensure diverse front row) 4) Talkers: We Stand United. We carry on as normal. 5) Stand & repeat with Muslim leaders #torontovanattack”. What’s the Eiffel Tower got to do with it? Whatever.
Then came the news that the driver of the hire van was called Alek Minassian. There was brief excitement among the alt-right as it was realised that the surname was Armenian, and some Armenians live in Scary Muslim Countries like Iran. But Minassian was not a Muslim. He was, in fact, radicalised by the same alt-right who were now trying to pin the attack on Islam. He was an angry young man who couldn’t get laid.

So just like so many more in the alt-right, then. What you will not read in the papers.

MyTaxi - A Potentially Unsafe App

Imagine an app that allows you to book a cab in over 50 cities across Europe. An app that brings the driver to you and gives you the option to pay with your pennies or take an entirely cashless journey, with receipts sent straight to your inbox. An app that will keep you out of the cold and rain and into safe, reliable black cabs in London”. So goes the blurb for MyTaxi, an app widely available, and widely used, across the capital.
The problem for the app formerly known as Hailo is that the claim of “safe, reliable” isn’t necessarily true. And the reason it isn’t true is the same reason why driver and rider matching service Uber has been found to have so many less than totally reputable drivers in its ranks - the vetting of those drivers is, at best, haphazard.

Moreover, MyTaxi might look as if it is there to help the cab trade, but they are on record claiming “Our competition is the street hail”. That’s a challenging proposition for the average cabbie: join MyTaxi and find yourself working for the unofficial opposition. Worse, as TfL have pointed out, it “does not licence MyTaxi or any other company offering similar taxi services via an app or radio circuit”. Obviously, private Hire is different.
So who is responsible? “Ultimately, taxi drivers are responsible for ensuring that any journey they carry out is in accordance with the regulations that are in place and that they are subject to”. The problem for the punter is that using an app like MyTaxi may lull them into a false sense of security - because its drivers are not being properly vetted.

Take the ease with which Delroy Grant became registered with MyTaxi. This is the name of a minicab driver - or perhaps that should be former minicab driver. The twist is that Grant was convicted ofthree rapes, one attempted rape, seven indecent assaults, 16 burglaries and two attempted burglaries, involving a total of 18 victims … The … offences took place in Warlingham, Shirley, Beckenham, Bromley, Addiscombe, Orpington and West Dulwich between October 1992 and May [2009]”. He is now serving a life sentence.
So how did Delroy Grant get registered with MyTaxi? Simples. There’s his TfL licence, except … it isn’t. The date of birth, license number, start date, end date and current status are all made up. And the address - 21 Du Cane Road - is Wormwood Scrubs, as in the chokey. But all that got past MyTaxi. The vehicle was a TfL licensed Private Hire Vehicle.

And Zelo Street regulars will know all about the misuse of TfL licensed PHVs, which featured in last August’s exposé on the Metropolitan Police’s concerns over Uber.

Could it get worse? It certainly could: the fictional Delroy Grant has now, according to MyTaxi, done some work through the app - enough for him to be presented with a statement of earnings. Who knew that operating a rogue taxi business staffed by lifers down the Scrubs could be such an easy thing to set up?
That, of course, is the problem. All that is needed is for a properly dodgy character to rock up, con their way past MyTaxi, and for a punter not to notice it isn’t a real black cab with a real cabbie who turns up - and someone could be in real danger.

A journey in a real London black cab is safe. A MyTaxi journey … I wouldn’t be so sure.

Dan, Dan The Swiss Border Man

The Customs Union issue is slowly but inexorably making its way up the Brexit agenda, to the clear horror of the Tory right and their allies in the press. MPs are being urged, cajoled, and yes, bullied, into opposing the idea that Britain might not leave the Customs Union. It would mean leaving the EU was even more pointless than in the first place.
But here there was a problem: the arguments for remaining in the Customs Union, including sorting the looming problem of the Irish border, needed to be countered. And so it came to pass that someone had to make a suitably futile gesture, to put themselves forward to talk well, but lie badly. As so often in the past, this meant another tour of the media outlets by Dan, Dan The Oratory Man.
Hannan appeared on BBC Newsnight last night and managed to get his routinely dishonest propaganda past Evan Davis, but by this morning the game was up, as his claims, now codified in a column for the Murdoch Sun, were dismantled to a chorus of ridicule. “Swiss border shows free movement works perfectly well without customs union” told the inmates of the Baby Shard bunker. Then come the whoppers.
I CROSS the EU’s border with Switzerland every month. Not that I’d notice if I didn’t know it was there … Most of the crossings between the EU and its neighbour are unmanned. Some are invisible … It is true there are booths in places, but these are mainly concerned with ensuring foreign vehicles have purchased Swiss road discs. The customs posts date from a time when exporters couldn’t file their declarations online” tells Hannan.
This is followed by highly selective quoting of someone from the BBC (an organisation generally hated, but useful when trying to stand up a pack of lies) and the warning “Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is reported to have said privately that unless we leave the customs union and recover our right to make independent trade deals, Brexit isn’t worth doing”. As if anyone gives a crap what Bozza thinks.
But after Hannan claimed “Turkey is in the customs union, yet it has heavily policed borders with the EU. Norway and Switzerland are not, and have free-movement deals with their neighbours like that between Ireland and the U.K. Their borders are largely unmanned and invisible”, the pushback began in earnest.
Denis MacShane responded “Sorry but @DanielJHannan not telling truth on @newsnight The Swiss-French border at all main crossings is staffed 7/24. It is illegal to take 1kg of meat into Switzerland from France”. Adam Payne showed his frustration at the dishonesty: “Hannan repeating this Swiss border bollocks on Newsnight right now. He’s either totally uninformed - which would be staggering given how obsessed with Brexit he is - or is deliberately misleading millions of people. Appalling either way”.
And one Tweeter showed us what that “largely unmanned and invisible” border looked like. It looked like a very hard border indeed. “If you close your eyes, the France-Switzerland border is sort of invisible” he observed. Hannan had been caught lying once again.

The media know Hannan is a congenital liar. So why do they keep asking him to pontificate, to write columns? The Murdoch press has its reasons. The BBC does not.

Royal Baby Benefits Tories

Our free and fearless press was steadily running out of inconsequential copy to slap on the front pages. The Windrush Generation scandal was generating yet more revelations about the sheer ineptitude and callousness of The Nasty Party. Syria, the NHS, deprivation, poverty, tax evasion, money laundering, all vied with the Home Office’s nastiness for headlines. And then came the ideal excuse to ignore it all.
So today, not even Theresa May getting a pointed reminder on the Government’s culpability in the Windrush mess from Lenny Henry at the Stephen Lawrence memorial service gets a mention. Because the answer to Tory prayers from up and down the land has come to pass: there is a Royal Baby to celebrate. William and Kate - Gawd Bless ‘Em! A new prince is come among us! Praise be to the Lord!
While MPs battle to get their constituents released from detention centres, secure them compensation for being declared illegal, lobby for them to regain lost jobs, and get them their homes back, the right-leaning press has a heaven-sent opportunity to summon up the voice of Bob Danvers-Walker (in black and white) and the spirit of Chicken Paté News to tell the nation of the wonders of the new Royal arrival.
The increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph gives over its entire front page to a photo of the Duchess of Cambridge leaving the (private and reassuringly expensive) hospital with the new Prince. There is, of course, a supplement, because more cheap copy, and it keeps those ghastly poor people out of readers’ minds.
Free sheet Metro has declared “THREE CHEERS” as it inflicts Royal Baby Overkill on tens of thousands of commuters this morning. The Express, no longer the domain of Richard “Dirty” Desmond, but no less cheap and nasty, tells readers “Prince William perfectly captures the life-long reality of parenthood”. That’ll pay for the shopping today, then.
The Murdoch Sun reminds readers that the new arrival was born on St George’s Day, when we celebrate someone from the Middle East who never visited Britain. “8lb 7oz Prince Is Born On Patron Saint’s Day And Bard’s Birthday … Cry for Mummy, England & St George” it declares. Hardly Larry Olivier, though, is it?
Still, at least there is a little more invention there than at the Daily Mail, where the Dacre doggies have adopted a puke-making servility. “LITTLE PRINCE PERFECT … His first royal wave!” Along with a 16-page souvenir pull-out and 18 pages of the main paper dedicated to the event, which is more than they used to demonise Jeremy Corbyn in the run-up to last year’s General Election, little good that it did them.
No room for you chaps on the front page today

Nothing on Labour’s housing policy announcements. Nothing on Windrush. Nothing on another Brexit Lords defeat for the Tories. Nothing on the reality of life for tens of millions who don’t benefit from £80,000-plus-a-year pay deals (hello press people). Nothing on increasing crime. Nothing on increasing homelessness. Nothing on reality.

The nation wishes the new Prince well. And God help the rest of us.

Monday, 23 April 2018

The Hounding Of Jo Phillips

The Press and Pundit Establishment loves to tell the world how terrible social media can be, and especially Twitter, which they all use, while denouncing the platform as some kind of dystopian sewer of unpleasantness. And what they all hate is being made the subject of a pile-on from all those ghastly people out there, especially the Rotten Lefties (tm).
It's That Bird Again

Those within the media class who decide to leave Twitter are routinely described as having been “hounded out”, as in the case of former Downing Street spinner Nick Timothy, even though he wasn’t. But we never, but never, find out about a pile-on working the other way.
All of which brings us to Jo Phillips, who is a Labour Party member and a keen writer and Tweeter. She openly admits to having clinical depression and anxiety disorder, has to get by for the present on ESA, and yesterday responded to a Tweet by Spectator associate editor Isabel Hardman, following which all hell broke loose.
Ms Hardman told “Starting today, I’m doing a mini series on @BBCRadio4’s Broadcasting House on the great outdoors and mental health. This week’s item is on how horses have helped me with my own illness”. To this, Ms Phillips replied “Glad horses help you Isabel. Might be good too to look at what people on benefits can do to access the outdoors in a consistently engaging way?” No, I still can’t see the problem in that reply.
But it upset Ms Hardman: “That’s what I’m doing. I’m literally writing 90,000 words on this yet you home in on one bit of my own story. I also paid for my own therapy as I could afford it. I suppose that further delegitimises me from speaking out. Better if I just shut up?
We all get caught at a bad moment. The problem now was that Ms Phillips was cast as the villain, and attacked as a “Vociferous cockwomble”, a “Troll”, “Dross”, a “Bigot”, and more.
Then came John Woodcock, the semi-detached Labour MP who is Ms Hardman’s partner, who could have calmed the situation. Instead, he went in with both feet - and the smearing iron. “Isabel has the courage to talk publicly about what helped her when she felt suicidal and you pop up to tell her she is ‘winding people up’ and make her feel terrible for the rest of the day. I just don’t know why people are so casually cruel in this way”.
Ms Phillips did not say Ms Hardman was “winding people up”. She did not even suggest such a thing. But she did find herself on the end of one of those pile-ons that are only supposed to affect the media class. All that happened is that two people had one of those regrettable misunderstandings. But Ms Phillips is the one who has had to apologise. And she is the one left alone to sort things out after the media class has moved right along.
As she later said, “Take my advice. Never, never, ever try to discuss an article that somebody writes about their experience of mental health to draw wider conclusions on provision and poverty. Especially if you live alone and have no famous and powerful pals … Yesterday gave me a really interesting insight into a few things. How little genuinely some people understand the interconnections between illness, recovery and poverty. How furiously powerful voices guard their platforms. How excluded some voices are”.

What you will not hear from our media class. I’ll just leave that one there.

Julia Hartley Dooda - Not So Clever

Forcing her way back on to the fringes of relevance yesterday came the all too familiar figure of self-promotion specialist Julia Hartley Brewer, as ever keener than everyone else put together to promote Herself Personally Now. Sadly, the subject on which she decided to pontificate was education, an area on which she talks ad infinitum, and indeed ad nauseam, but where in reality she knows very little.
We know who you are, thanks

Ms Hartley Dooda had, like so many of the Press and Pundit Establishment, taken grave exception to the provocation by Owen Jones which suggested of the media class that “much of it is a cult. Afflicted by a suffocating groupthink, intolerant of critics, hounds internal dissenters, full of people who made it because of connections and/or personal background rather than merit”. She wasn’t having any of that, thank you.
So she announced to anyone not yet asleep that “I didn’t go to Oxford because I was privileged. I went to Oxford because I was clever”. Well, yes, past tense and all that. What happened in the interim can only be guessed. But there was more.
A lot of lefty Labour types seem very upset about this tweet. If I didn’t get into a top uni because I was privileged or privately educated then what other explanation would they think *was* acceptable? Did I get in by accident?” Ooh, don’t tempt me [thinks] Toby Young, Louise Mensch, London’s formerly very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, accident, well, best keep schtum about that one.
Still, let’s not be too cynical - yet - about Ms Hartley Dooda’s exposition of alleged knowledge. Let her dig herself in a little deeper. “If you’re *genuinely* angry about how few working class kids get into top universities & top professions, as I am, then you should support the expansion of grammar schools so poorer kids can get the high quality academic education they need to get into those institutions”.
Grammar Schools, eh? And why should anyone advocate for more grammar schools? As if you need to guess. “Otherwise, you’re just a class warfare bullsh*tter who doesn’t really want to do anything to help those kids. You’d rather keep them ‘in their place’ so you can keep complaining about The System. Why not change that system instead?
And with that, she continued the superior tone as she signed off “It’s way past my bedtime. Night night all. Please join me for my no nonsense @talkradio breakfast show from 6.30am to 10am tomorrow when, frankly, we’ll be talking a lot more sense than most of the people on here”. So let’s see how much sense she was talking on Grammar Schools.
Kent still has grammar schools. So BBC Newsnight’s Chris Cook compared the county’s GCSE successes with the national average, to give us an idea of what we might expect. And in Kent, pupils from the most well-off families get GCSE grades better than the national average. But for the poorest, they do worse. In fact, around half the population in Kent does worse than the national average.

Yes, Julia Hartley Dooda was talking out of the back of her neck once more. Perhaps, whisper it quietly, she isn’t as clever as she thinks she is. No surprise there, then.

Nazis Fail To Stop Migration

Seemingly undaunted at their failure to interfere with operations to rescue refugees from drowning in the Mediterranean Sea, and having their pals deported from the UK, the activists of Generation Identity, for which read slickly presented Nazis, have regrouped and embarked on their latest mission: to blow someone else’s money pretending to “secure” the border between France and Italy and keep out … more of those refugees.
Martin Sellner, following in the footsteps of ...

The cast has been very much as before: Martin Sellner, who tried to get into the UK twice and has now been excluded permanently, his partner Brittany Pettibone, and others like Lauren Southern, who has also been deported from the UK. They claim that their mission is to “Defend Europe”, but as Italy is in Europe, this is clearly a sham.
... you know who

Still, there was Ms Pettibone telling her adoring followers “Defend Europe ‘Mission Alps’ has officially begun with approximately 100 Generation Identity activists from all across Europe shutting down illegal immigration at the French/Italian Border”. A bunch of Nazis have decided on a paramilitary exercise to subvert the rule of law. Along with telling those pesky migrants to shove off somewhere else.
And although she isn’t a Nazi, honest, Front National leader Marine le Pen has been happy to play along with this charade, telling “L’opération de Génération Identitaire a une conséquence cocasse: toute la gauche s’est plainte en hémicycle que ce ne soient pas les forces de l’ordre qui aillent protéger les frontières”. Yeah, a bunch of Nazis is really making the left look dead comical! Or something like that.
The official line is that this creepy publicity stunt is a real military-style operation: “During the first part of our mission, not a single illegal migrant has entered France: this is a victory! We have shown that if there is the will, border control is possible”. Tomorrow truly belongs to them. Then came their supporters - and a little reality.
Caolan Robertson, formerly side-kick to Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, proclaimed “RIGHT NOW: Hundreds of migrants are crossing the French Alpes led by far left militants. They will soon reach the #DefendEurope blockade. More to follow”. Yeah, it was, like, really dramatic.
There was even a real blockade - well, sort of. Although Robertson said “Here’s the blockade”, all his photo showed was a couple of dozen activists standing around with a flimsy plastic fence. Anyone so minded could have cut their way through it easily - or just walked around the clearly visible end. And so it came to pass.
Although the Nazi high command had proclaimed victory, Robertson admitted “Final update: Migrants took a different route and forced their way into France through the makeshift police border nearby”. So the sham publicity stunt had failed completely.
Still, it keeps the otherwise unemployable of the far-right occupied for a while. The problem will come when they try to be real law enforcers and someone gets hurt.

Then they will be able to stop sponging off their backers, and sponge off whichever state dumps them in the nearest slammer for a while.

Theresa May Racism Shame

The right-leaning part of our free and fearless press is looking anywhere but at the continuing scandal of the Windrush Generation today. Even Theresa May’s mooted U-Turn on remaining in the EU Customs Union gets an airing, although papers like the Mail have dredged up other stuff to keep even that away from the sensitivities of their readers. Because the whiff of institutionalised racism now hangs over the affair.
And that is a difficult subject for the Fourth Estate, especially after they have expended so much effort telling everyone that anti-Semitism is evil and must be stamped out. How do they then shoo away other kinds of racism? How do they ignore the likes of Sayeeda Warsi, who has once again reminded the media class that Islamophobia is being given a free pass? How do they excuse kicking people like Diane Abbott for the hell of it?

The Guardian has continued to lift the lid on this worm can, now tellingA letter from a Home Office minister dated May 2016 and obtained by the Guardian shows that the government has known for years about the impact of its ‘hostile environment’ policy on the Windrush generation.” There is more.
As the government struggles to contain mounting pressure on both Theresa May and the home secretary, Amber Rudd, Home Office sources indicate that legislation could be rushed through parliament to give citizenship to those affected”. But the Windrush Generation were already citizens, so this is an effective admission that some of their number were stripped of their British citizenship. Hello Theresa May.

Theresa May “had also been asking ministers from other departments to insert the phrase ‘hostile environment’ into speeches and documents”. That negates last week’s attempt to dump the whole exercise on to the previous Labour Government. And the 2014 legislation “required people to produce documents that the Home Office itself knew no longer existed, or which it was highly unlikely that anyone, whether living here illegally or legally, would have kept for several decades”. Deliberate targeting. Not a good look.
So when Dawn Butler appeared on Niall Paterson’s Sky News show yesterday it should have surprised no-one that the resultant report toldA senior Labour frontbencher has personally accused Theresa May of racism and leading an ‘institutionally racist’ government … Asked on Sky's Sunday with Niall Paterson whether Mrs May could personally be accused of racism, Ms Butler said: ‘Yes’”.

Ms Butler did not hold back. “She is the leader that's presiding over legislation that's discriminating against a whole group of people who came from the Commonwealth, who suffered racism when they came over, the 'no blacks, no Irish, no dogs’ … And now they're having to relive that trauma all over again because of Theresa May … She's not going to get let off the hook on this. And this has to be redressed as quickly as possible … Just saying stuff isn't good enough. I need to see action and I need to see action quickly”.
Dawn Butler ... a brave call, and the right one

The wriggle room for the right-wing press to indulge in a little nudge-nudge racism of their own has been shut down. As a result, their preferred choice as Prime Minister has no choice but to actually address the issue, and do so swiftly and effectively.

If that means ministers, including Theresa May, have to resign, so be it. It’s her fault.