Monthly Archives: July 2024

  • Auntie prefers football to politics

    Yesterday’s The Jouker column in The National highlights a prime example of a colonial attitude in the media of the Untied Kingdom.

    There were two two significant resignations on Tuesday, but as The Jouker points out, football – and English football at that – was prioritised on the BBC News website ahead of a major political development in Caerdydd, capital of England’s oldest colony.

    Vaughan Gething, disgraced former firsts minister of CymruThat resignation was of the disgraced First Minister of Cymru, Vaughan Gething, who amongst other things, had refused to step down after, inter alia, losing a vote of confidence and accepting a £200,000 “donation” from a “businessman” convicted of environmental crimes. Gething’s hand was forced by a mass outbreak of ministerial resignations similar to that which ended the premiership of disgraced former alleged party-time prime minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.

    Although he’d only been First Minister since March, when the BBC did finally send its political editor down the M4/Great Western railway line to Caerdydd, Chris Mason did helpfully point pout that Gething’s term of office was 2.4 times longer than that of another British premier, one Mary Elizabeth Truss, the ultimate free marketeer whose polices were roundly rejected by the, er, market.

    Former England football manager Gareth SouthgateThe resignation story which took precedence yesterday was that of England football manager Gareth Southgate who managed to get his team to two consecutive European Football Championship finals, yet still disappointed the jingoistic English media by failing (yet again) to win a chunk of international silverware like his predecessor in 1966, Alf Ramsey.

    Why should football take priority over politics? Critics on social media were not slow to notice the choice of priorities made in London, i.e. that only England matters and Wales is a lesser concern, as has been the case ever since Henry VIII’s 16th century Acts of Union.

    There is however precedence for this attitude and it comes from another footballer; and one that is one of Scotland’s greatest football exports, Bill Shankly, who was manager of Liverpool FC from 1959 to 1974, a length of tenure of office which modern football managers can only dream of.

    Shankly is famously on record as rating the importance of football as follows:

    Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.

    The above quote from Shankly can be found here with plenty of others from the sage of Anfield.

  • Commission sends preliminary findings to X for DSA breach

    X logoToday the EU Commission has informed X – the declining social media platform formerly known as Twitter – of its preliminary view that the company is in breach of the Digital Services Act (DSA) in areas linked to dark patterns, advertising transparency and data access for researchers.

    Based on an in-depth investigation that included, inter alia, the analysis of internal company documents, interviews with experts, as well as cooperation with national Digital Services Coordinators, the Commission has issued preliminary findings of non-compliance with the DSA on three grievances:

    • First, X designs and operates its interface for the “verified accounts” with the “Blue checkmark” in a way that does not correspond to industry practice and deceives users. Since anyone can subscribe to obtain such a “verified” status, it negatively affects users’ ability to make free and informed decisions about the authenticity of the accounts and the content they interact with. There is evidence of motivated malicious actors abusing the “verified account” to deceive users.

    • Second, X does not comply with the required transparency on advertising, as it does not provide a searchable and reliable advertisement repository, but instead put in place design features and access barriers that make the repository unfit for its transparency purpose towards users. In particular, the design does not allow for the required supervision and research into emerging risks brought about by the distribution of advertising online.

    • Third, X fails to provide access to its public data to researchers in line with the conditions set out in the DSA. In particular, X prohibits eligible researchers from independently accessing its public data, such as by scraping, as stated in its terms of service. In addition, X’s process to grant eligible researchers access to its application programming interface (API) appears to dissuade researchers from carrying out their research projects or leave them with no other choice than to pay disproportionally high fees.

    If the Commission’s preliminary views were to be confirmed, the Commission would adopt a non-compliance decision finding that X is in breach of Articles 25, 39 and 40(12) of the DS, which could entail fines of up to 6% of X’s total worldwide annual turnover and order the provider to take measures to address the breach. A non-compliance decision may also trigger an enhanced supervision period to ensure compliance with the measures the provider intends to take to remedy the breach. The Commission can also impose periodic penalty payments to compel a platform to comply.

    Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market said:

    Back in the day, BlueChecks used to mean trustworthy sources of information. Now with X, our preliminary view is that they deceive users and infringe the DSA. We also consider that X’s ads repository and conditions for data access by researchers are not in line with the DSA transparency requirements. X has now the right of defence — but if our view is confirmed we will impose fines and require significant changes.
  • Scamming the scammer

    Behind its paywall, the Daily Telegraph carries a story about a scam to con the already gullible, Reform UK Party Ltd ‘members’. A non-paywalled version of the article can be read here.

    Headline Reform UK warns members over Nigel Farage online scam

    The pretend political party (it’s actually a limited company in which dodgy former MEP Nigel Farage is the majority shareholder. Ed.) issued an emergency email on Thursday evening after a fraudulent Telegram account bearing Mr Farage’s name told members to donate £200 to it to become a “VIP member” of the party.

    A spokesperson for the party company has said the following:
    At present we are only aware that this scammer is working on Telegram, however we are acutely aware that they could be operating on various other social media and messaging platforms.

    And.

    This is a criminal fraudulent endeavour and we are getting in touch with Telegram and the police to have it shut down.

    Your ‘umble scribe would add that anyone foolish enough to have handed money to a charlatan like Farage has already been scammed.

  • Bristol Live exclusive: man given dog’s face

    Cross-species organ transplants – a technique also known as xenotransplantation – are becoming more common in modern medicine.

    Such transplants usually involve pig or cow organs, but a new species has now entered the list of donor transplant species, according to today’s Bristol Live/(Evening) Post.

    Headline reads Man has face rebuilt by surgeons after it was ripped off his dog.

    However, judging from the headline the means by which the victim’s rebuilt face was provided sounds brutal, almost as if it was performed with malicious intent and without the use of anaesthetics, unless of course the author didn’t proof-read his piece adequately and failed to notice the absence of a simple two-letter preposition. 😀

  • The new enemy within

    Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher infamously branded the leaders of the 1984–85 miners’ strikethe enemy within”.

    In the wake of last weeks’ general election, there is a new enemy within; and one far more dangerous to the country than Arthur Scargill and his NUM colleagues.

    There’s now an enemy within the walls of the House of Commons.

    Step forward Nigel Farage and his four fellow MPs elected for pretend political party Reform UK, which is actually constituted as a limited liability company with Farage as the person with significant control and financed by perma-tanned “businessman” Richard Tice.

    Disgraced former MEP Farage, who once famously had his MEP’s salary docked for misuse of EU funds, has finally become a member of the Westminster parliament at the eighth attempt. Your ‘umble scribe hopes that parliamentary watchdog IPSA keeps a beady eye on the new dishonourable member for Clacton given his past behaviour in Strasbourg and Brussels.

    As is usual, social media has been awash the reactions to the general election result, including the following exchange.

    Original tweet - name the boy band. Answer - a Flock of Sieg Heils

    No more needs to be said. Farage has been known to harbour extreme right wind views for decades, dating back to his schooldays at reassuringly expensive Dulwich College.