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Bronze lives matter

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On 7 June 2020, the statue of slave trader and religious bigot Edward Colston, which had blighted the centre of Bristol for well over a century, was assisted off its plinth and taken for a walk for a bath in the city docks near Pero’s Bridge (a bridge named after a former slave. Ed.).

Yesterday in Bristol Crown Court a jury of their peers found the defendants Rhian Graham, Milo Ponsford, Sage Willoughby, and Jake Skuse – the so-called Colston 4 – not guilty of criminal damage as a result of Eddie the Slaver ending up in the drink that afternoon a year and half ago, as The Bristol Cable reports.

The verdict has not gone down well with some right-leaning culture warriors and those whose view of history is coloured more by the propaganda extolling the virtues of the British Empire instead of the brutality of its crimes against humanity, theft, violence and exploitation. This tweet from the Save Our Statues account is a typical example.

Tweet reads: A disgraceful verdict that gives the green light to political vandalism and sets a precedent for anyone to be able to destroy whatever they disagree with. This is not justice.

The sense of outrage is not confined to social media. In the vanguard was the outrage of the Daily Express (which some still call the Express. Ed.) with the headline below today’s front page.

Headline reads: statue 'vandals' cleared... but where will it all end?

Just above the headline a small matter of media hypocrisy comes into view. Note the promotional flash for the glorious National Trust 2022 calendar. Not so very long ago the Express was one of those right-wing newspapers that were condemning the National Trust and accusing it of being woke (whatever that’s supposed to mean. Ed.) for the organisation’s efforts to learn more about the history of its properties, resulting in the Trust publishing a report last year that found 93 of its properties had connections with colonialism and slavery.

Furthermore, it was just right-leaning social media accounts and media that were outraged. Members of Parliament also joined in the outrage.

Step forward Robert ‘Honest Bob‘ Jenrick, MP for Newark and formerly Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government. Jenrick took to Twitter yesterday to pontificate as follows:

We undermine the rule of law, which underpins our democracy, if we accept vandalism and criminal damage are acceptable forms of political protest.
They aren’t. Regardless of the intentions.

Tweet reads: We undermine the rule of law, which underpins our democracy, if we accept vandalism and criminal damage are acceptable forms of political protest. They aren't. Regardless of the intentions.

It is encouraging to see such strong support for the rule of law from Honest Bob, a man who when occupying his lofty Whitehall perch was found by the High Court to have acted unlawfully in approving a £1bn east London development by former publisher and Tory Party donor Richard Desmond.

The Colston 4 verdict and the verdict of unlawful action Jenrick’s planning decision clearly do not sit well with the likes of Honest Bob.

However, he and others need to remember that justice – especially as perceived by juries in their verdicts – does not always match everyone’s expectations, especially where concepts of lawful and/or reasonable excuse are involved.

Justice is not like Woolworth’s Pick’n’Mix sweet counter and the likes of Honest Bob are in no position to lecture the masses about the sanctity of the rule of law.

In conclusion, here’s a wee photo for Bob, the right-wing press and social media accounts to think about. 😀

Photo reads: If pulling down a statue of a slave traders 'ruins your way of life' you are either... a) racist b) a pigeon

Ambiguity back in the headlines

Another day, another example of unwitting ambiguity from a representative of the fourth estate.

Step forward and take a bow, Glasgow Times.

Headline reads Glasgow thug threw bottle of alcohol containing accelerant at cars causing fire on road

Your ‘umble scribe has already asked the publication via social media why cars were setting fire to the road, but is not hopeful of receiving a cogent reply; or any reply at all for that matter.

By-election special

Owen PatersonFollowing the resignation as a backbench MP of the disgraced former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Owen Paterson, a by-election has been called for the North Shropshire constituency (where your ‘umble scribe was born and raised. Ed.), the Tory virtual one party state which has returned a Tory member in every poll bar one* since implementation of the so-called Great” Reform Act of 1832.

Paterson decided to resign and leave what he called the “cruel world of politics” (if you want to see how cruel the world of politics is, Paterson’s voting record is online. Ed.) after public outcry following a botched attempt by part-time alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson to save his pal from 30 days’ suspension from the Commons for what the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards termed an “egregious case of paid advocacy“.

The full list of fourteen candidates for the by-election has now been released, including for the Tories one Neil Shastri-Hurst, a barrister parachuted in from Birmingham into what should for them be a safe seat.

Given its history, the contest should be a shoe-in for the Blue Team, given that the disgraced former member had a majority just short of 23,000 and that the large number of candidates standing will inevitably split the anti-Conservative vote.

Campaigning has already begun, with prominent and less prominent occupiers of those green leather benches in Westminster turning out to support their chosen candidate, in this case that Brummie barrister.

At which point step forward the honourable Mr Edmund Frances Hughes, who owes his position to the gullibility of voters in the constituency of Walsall North.

Except for the fact that Eddie did not so much step forward as trip over his own two feet and end up flat on his face on social media with one tweet.

Yesterday afternoon in a tweet featuring not only the Brummie barrister, but also Oliver Dowden MP, the former Secretary of State for Culture Wars, Eddie wrote:

Very positive day campaigning in Wem for the North Staffs. by-election.
Dr. Neil Shastri-Hurst would be an excellent MP, and already has a proven track record of public service.

Yes, you did read that tweet correctly. Eddie has moved Wem from the rural acres of north Shropshire to somewhere in the vicinity of the Potteries conurbation, which might have some effect on voters as regards the competence of the Blue Team.

However, it is not just the Conservatives’ drafted-in support that seems to be having problems knowing exactly where above the centre it is. That affliction also extended to their candidate himself, Mr Neil Shastri-Hurst, if a tweet by Harry Taylor is to be believed. Harry writes:

Just read that a voter in Wem was shocked that the Tory candidate thought he was actually in Oswestry (20 miles away!). This coming after Eddie Hughes MP thought he was in North Staffs – a constituency abolished in 1885 – is sending quite a message to voters.

High Street of the ‘North Staffordshire’ town of Wem. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

After all, if members of the governing party don’t even know what county or town they are in, how can they possibly be expected to cope with far more difficult stuff, like the complicated legal text of draft legislation?

*=In the first election held in the new constituency in 1832, North Shropshire was a two-member seat, returning one Tory and one Whig MP. After becoming a single member seat, the only time a non-Tory was elected was in 1904, when it was a Liberal Party seat for a mere two years.

Not the BBC News

A comment from my Twitter feed on the current state of politics in the English (which some still call the United Kingdom. Ed.).

No further observations are required from your ‘umble scribe.

Fake BBC news item with headline UK facing national piss shortage due to government taking it all

More comprehensive, transcendental abuse?

New logo as Facebook morphs into MetaIn the small hours of Friday morning, news came in that Facebook Inc. is to change its name to Meta, allegedly better to “encompass” what it does as it expands from social media to other sectors such as virtual reality.

Meta, from the Greek μετα-, meta-, meaning “after” or “beyond“, is a prefix meaning more comprehensive or transcending.

Whether the rebrand will involve the more dubious of Facebook’s more comprehensive or transcending business practices being extended to those new sectors remains to be seen.

Facebook was founded in February 2004 by Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg. Not long afterwards, the controversies and abuse of users started. As The Register recalled in 2010, the then 19 year-old Zuckerberg called his first few thousand users “dumb f*cks” in a private conversation with a friend.

However, even that early sign of contempt did not prevent Zuckerberg’s social media infant growing into an obese behemoth of the social media sector, with a current user (i.e. product. Ed.) base of 2.85 billion people.

Perhaps Zuckerberg is secretly delighted there are so many dumb people in the world. They’ve been paying his bills for more than one and a half decades, after all.

After those early days, Facebook’s user base grew, as did the propensity for abuse, culminating in the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. Cambridge Analytica was established in 2013 as a subsidiary of the private intelligence company and self-described “global election management agency” SCL Group by 3 long-serving SCL executives. The company offices in London, New York City and Washington, DC. Cambridge Analytica was implicated in affecting the results of the 2016 US presidential campaign, where data it hoovered up from Facebook users was used to build psychographic profiles, determining users’ personality traits based on their Facebook activity. These profiles were then used for micro-targeting voters displaying customised advertisements on various online platforms. The key point of this activity was to identify those who might be enticed to vote for Trump or be discouraged to vote for their opponent. In addition, Cambridge Analytica was allegedly hired as a consultant company for Leave.EU and the UK Independence Party during 2016 as an effort to convince people to vote in favour of the UK leaving the European Union in David Cameron’s amateurish EU membership referendum. However, the UK Information Commissioner’s official investigation found that Cambridge Analytica was not involved “beyond some initial enquiries” and the regulator did not identify any “significant breaches” of data protection legislation or privacy or marketing regulations “which met the threshold for formal regulatory action“. Cambridge Analytica cased operations in 2018 following the revelations of its privacy-busting operations, although firms related to both Cambridge Analytica and its parent firm SCL still exist.

Zuckerberg subsequently apologised for Facebook’s involvement with Cambridge Analytica, calling it an “issue“, a “mistake” and a “breach of trust“, as well as pledging not to let such abuse occur again.

Nevertheless, the abuse of users didn’t stop and have continued right up to the present.

The latest revelations come ex-employee Frances Haugen, who was employed by Facebook as a data scientist, leaked documents revealing that the company placed “profits over safety“. Since her revelations, Ms. Haugen has given evidence to a US Senate sub-committee and testified in person to a UK parliamentary committee scrutinising the online safety bill.

Reporting on the name change, The Register noted beneath its headline that Zuckerberg’s social network has “Meta-stasized“. Leaving aside El Reg’s overt reference to the former secret police of the so-called German Democratic Republic, metastasis is defined as a change of position, state, or form. The primary use of metastasis today is in medicine where it defines the development of secondary malignant growths at a distance from a primary site of cancer.

Finally, as a further dampener on the rebrand’s distraction value, a report in today’s Guardian reveals that Meta translates as dead in Hebrew.

Have fun in Zuck’s metaverse, y’all! 😀

Anonymity and hypocrisy

Priti Patel, inexplicably promoted beyond her competence (i.e. unfit to clean a public office, let alone fill one. Ed.) by part-time alleged prime minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson to Home Secretary, announced her latest authoritarian measure last Sunday; this time mis-targeted at reducing online harassment and abuse on social media.

Reporting on her appearance on Sky’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday, The Independent writes:

Ms Patel indicated she is considering going a step further by requiring sites such as Facebook or Twitter to retain details of the identities of people posting material which could be handed over to police investigating crimes.

Needless to say Patel’s announcement of the proposed slap of firm government has gone down well with the more right-leaning members of the British establishment, one of whom took to the very same social media to become a cheerleader for repression.

Tweet from Lance Forman stating Excellent. Anonymity should be removed from social media

Lance who?

At this point someone steps forward with no style at all and inserts his foot firmly between his teeth, namely Mr Lance Philip Forman, educated at Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School and Trinity College, Cambridge. However, this scion of the British establish is better known as a former Brexit Party MEP, as well as the owner of London-based salmon smokers H. Forman and Son.

Forman is not backwards in coming forward to support Priti Patel’s proposal to ban social media anonymity, tweeting:

Excellent. Anonymity should be removed from social media.
However,and it’s a substantial however too, Mr Forman’s support for the alleged home secretary’s anonymity proposal comes with a large helping, not of smoked salmon but cordon bleu grade hypocrisy.

Use quick internet search on Mr Forman quickly turns up his Wikipedia page, which just happens to mention the following information which does not lend support to his stance:

Lance Philip Anisfeld (born 13 October 1962), known professionally as Lance Philip Forman, is a British politician and businessman,…

Known professionally as… Isn’t that the same as concealing one’s true identity which is not too far removed from hiding behind anonymity? 😉

Meet Tokyo’s litter samurai

In Tokyo there’s a special team of you men and women who help keep the streets clean with some elegant and graceful moves they perform whilst dressed in traditional Japanese robes and Western trilby hats.

Known as Gomihiroi Samurai (“litter-picking Samurai”), these environmentally conscious individuals have a unique approach to clean streets, as can be seen below.

The group have gained popularity on social media site TikTok, where they have gained over 300,000 followers, as well as on InstagramFacebook and YouTube.

They’re all street performers and one of them, Naka Keisuke, told France 24 that the group thought they’d like to welcome visitors from around the world to a clean city when it was announced that Tokyo had been chosen for the last Olympic Games.

Given Bristol’s love for street performers, they’d go down a storm in the litter capital of the West Country… if they weren’t worn out by the sheer amount of filth.

A brief reminder

From my Twitter feed, a not so subtle hint as to why the use of contraception is not only important for controlling population and family size, but also to reduce the world’s quota of idiots, pathological liars, charlatans, egotists, philanderers,…

Poster featuring Boris Johnson worded Durex could have prevented this

As this post is being written, news has arrived that the lazy so-and-so is on holiday.

Again!

Reasons to be fearful

As your ‘umble scribe writes this post, part-time alleged prime minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is now on day two of an extensive reshuffle of government ministers.

His first cabinet was chosen more for loyalty to Brexit than for talent and included some who had done a complete 180-degree turn on their pre-referendum stance in order to climb the greasy pole of political ambition.

The latter include the singularly untalented Liz Truss (whose biggest achievement as Trade Secretary was copying and pasting new copies of pre-existing EU trade agreements with third countries so they could continue in effect in a post-Brexit context. Ed.), who can now carry on filling in the ministerial My First Foreign Secretary’s Colouring Atlas where Dominic Raab left off, following the latter’s demotion to Justice Secretary.

The singularly unattractive Priti Patel remains as Home Secretary. The less said about that the better.

However, given the shallowness of the Tory talent pool, the most surprising appointment of the first day of Johnson’s rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic was his appointment of Nadine Dorries as Secretary of State for Digital, Cultural, Media and Sport. Nadine was put on Earth to demonstrate that potatoes are more intelligent beings than the Rt. Hon. Member for Mid Bedfordshire.

Part of the fragrant Nadine’s brief includes all things digital, including the minor matter of IT security. To gain an insight into the new Secretary of State’s attitude to this subject, I refer readers to 2 Dorries tweets from 2017.

Tweets read 1. My staff log onto my computer on my desk with my login everyday. Including interns on exchange programmes. For the officer on @BBCNews just now to claim that the computer on Greens [sic] desk was accessed and therefore it was Green is utterly preposterous  You need a pass to get that and 2 Everyone who has my login has a security pass

Cavalier doesn’t quite describe such an attitude to basic security and privacy.

Then there’s the whole question of gravitas – a necessary pre-requisite for public office, not that you’d know it with Bozo the Clown’s appointments.

A quick glance across the English Channel and North Sea to 2 European counterparts reveals some startling contrasts. Besides being French Culture Minister, present incumbent Roselyne Bachelot is an opera fan who has written a well-regarded work on Verdi. Monika Grütters, Germany’s Culture Minister was a university lecturer before entering politics and is still an honorary professor at Berlin’s Free University. On the other hand, Dorries’ biggest claim to fame (after her fiddling expenses) is eating ostrich anus on a so-called reality television show.

Murdoch rag makes up language

The Murdoch Sun has long had a reputation for making up stories, such as the infamous The Truth front page which accused Liverpool fans of misbehaviour and criminality at Hillsborough in 1989 when 97 Liverpool football fans lost their lives in an incident which a later inquest ruled to have involved unlawful killing.

The infamous The Truth Sun front page

That front page untruth resulted in a boycott of Rupert’s rag by the city of Liverpool that continues to this day.

However, not content with upsetting a city for over 3 decades with a made-up story, Murdoch’s apology for a newspaper has now started on a more ambitious project – making up a new language akin to English, starting with changing the past tense of the verb to fly from a strong verb conjugation to a weak verb one. Headline reads Mum flied home from honeymoon along as hubby denied boarding

The headline has since been corrected following mockery on social media to the effect that it’s now written by 10 year-olds.

Is there no start to the talent of those members of its staff that the title insists it employs as journalists?

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