• 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.


    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. 😀

  • Trolled by donkeys

    The Columbine Centre in the Essex coastal town of Walton-on-the-Naze has not been renowned as a venue with a history of political drama.

    Until now.

    Yesterday the good folk from Led By Donkeys – in their own words – “dropped in on Farage’s election rally with a beaming picture of Putin. Nigel was not pleased“.

    Farage is on record as far back as 2014 in expressing his admiration for Vladimir Vladimirovich and his gangster regime in the Kremlin. Moreover, Farage has faced criticism in recent weeks for his outrageous statement that the western democracies are responsible for provoking Russia to invade Ukraine.

    In addition, Farage has also vehemently denied any Russian interference or involvement in the divisive 2016 Brexit referendum, a fact helped by British establishment reluctance to investigate such claims.

  • Medical reasons or patriotism?

    Ever since the organs of the fourth estate starting getting rid of sub-editors to save costs and boost profits, bad journalism seems to be becoming the norm rather than the exception, as anyone who reads the press with a critical eye will quickly discover.

    The European Football Championships currently taking place in Germany are already proving to be a rich source of inaccuracy (posts passim) and flights of hyperbole with no foundation.

    Today’s Guardian provides a fine example today of the latter, as evidenced by the screenshot below.

    Headline - Mbappé to wear mask for France after breaking nose?

    For France, Grauniad; for the glory of the Republic? The prominence of for France suggests to your correspondent that the main reason for Killian having to wear a mask was patriotism, at least in the mind of the headline writer.

    The BBC reports that the French Football Federation said a mask will be made for their captain, and quotes a spokesperson as saying, “He will undergo treatment in the coming days, without undergoing surgery immediately.” So there is no hint that the mask will be worn for reasons of patriotism, but every suggestion that medical and prophylactic motives are involved.

    Update 21/06/2024: Mbappé now has the above-mentioned mask and it’s not only custom-made but a patriotic one too in the colours of the French tricolour.

  • BBC exclusive: police turn axe into firearm

    As any fool knows, there is a world of difference between edged and bladed weapons such as axes and knives which are used at arm’s length and ranged weapons used at a distance and firing projectiles such as arrows, bullets, shells and the like.

    Today’s BBC news site features a world exclusive: the Hamburg police have been able to convert an axe so it fires bullets, thus coming up with a combined edged/bladed and ranged weapon; or if that is not the case, that’s one interpretation that can be placed on the headline in the following screenshot.

    Headline - Hamburg police shoot man with axe ahead of Euros match

    If by some chance the German police have not pulled off this incredible feat, somewhere in the depths of Broadcasting House, there is likely some hapless person who fell asleep in or was absent from school English lessons or media studies lectures when the subject of ambiguity – i.e. the quality of something having more than one possible meaning – was brought up.

    To save the hapless BBC hack any future embarrassment, your ‘umble scribe suggests that she or he visits Al Jazeera’s piece on the incident to learn how to write an unambiguous headline as per the screenshot below. Note the use of the hyphen, BBC person. 😀

    Headline - German police shoot axe-wielding suspect before Euro 2024 match in Hamburg

    One final thing: the item being carried by the person shot by Hamburg police was not actually an axe, but a slate hammer* (Schieferhammer), a tool used by roofers. This was confirmed by finding a German language media report of the incident, where Schieferhammer figures prominently in the headline. The BBC was not the only British media outlet to misreport the item used by the police’s assailant; the Independent had the man attacking police with a pickaxe.

    * = Also known as a slater’s hammer. The photo below illustrates how it could be mistaken for a pickaxe (the hammer in question can just be seen in screenshot of the Al Jazeera report. Ed.). However, how the BBC managed to construe it as an axe is beyond your ‘umble scribe’s ken.

    Slate/slater's hammer

  • Vos passeports, s.v.p. !

    An irony of our times came to light at the 80th anniversary D-Day celebrations as yet another dubious Brexit bonus emerged, further illustrating the Untied Kingdom’s third country EU status, as well as depicting a bureaucratic obstacle not faced by those arriving in Normandy on 6th June 1944.

    The screenshot below of a post on X/Twitter by the Brexitshambles account needs no further comment, apart from to add that the parachutists not only had to show their passports, but get them stamped too, so that officials can check in future whether they’ve overstayed their maximum term of 90 days in a European Union member state. 😀

    Post reads - So you thought we'd reached Peak Brexit? Watch British Paratroopers who after being dropped into Sannerville, France, to commemorate D-Day, had to show their passports to the French Douane... @Nigel Farage must be so proud

    Update: 07/06/2024: Today’s Guardian has reported on the above incident, noting that ‘while immigration checks for British troops on exercise abroad are routine, doing so at a public commemoration is deemed exceptional‘.

  • A bloody portrait

    In today’s attempt to divert attention to the dire political and economic situation of the English Empire/Untied Kingdom, the media are today awash with the story of the unveiling of a portrait of Mr Charles Philip Arthur Georg Mountbatten-Windsor, frequently referred to by the gullible as King Charles.

    Here’s the BBC’s example.

    Here’s what all the fuss is about.

    The new portrait of Charles Philip Arthur Georg Mountbatten-Windsor looking flushed

    The BBC also records varying public reactions to the portrait, as long as they do not stray from the sycophantic.

    Many were initially taken aback by the vivid red colour with some saying it looked like fire. Others described the painting as “unexpected” but “modern”.

    However, not so much sycophancy exists on social media where much more republican sentiment and an alterative reading of history were apparent, as in a post on X/Twitter (or whatever the man-baby called Musk is calling it this week. Ed.) by Sandra Eckersley.

    Post reads - Remarkable painting of King Charles with the unexpected subtext of Colonial British History. Soaked in blood & gore yet with a butterfly on his shoulder. As Bart Simpson once said ‘nobody suspects a butterfly’. Clever piece, beautifully executed. Great Art.

    Your ‘umble scribe believes Ms Eckersley shares his view of colonial English/British history, a series of crimes against humanity lasting several centuries, involving invasion, murder, theft, exploitation, expropriation and slavery to name but a few offences on the charge sheet.

    Needless to say, Mr Mountbatten-Windsor is rather pleased with his new portrait, apparently unworried about being depicted as wallowing in a bloodbath.
  • You couldn’t make it up!

    Opticians chain Specsavers is rightly renowned for its advertising slogan, “Should have gone to Specsavers“, which has been applied to every bad decision ranging from one’s choice of partner to driving ability.

    Talking of the latter, yesterday’s Daily Post carries an article which combines skill behind the wheel with the aforementioned opticians, in which the driver ended before the crown court in Abertawe, which some also call Swansea, for an incident which occurred in Castell Nedd (Neath) in November last year.

    Headline - Driver knocked over elderly couple while on his way to Specsavers

    No further comment is necessary on the headline behind the story. However, your ‘umble scribe is intrigued by the first sentence: “A driver on his way to Specsavers struck two elderly pedestrians with his car while reversing through a pedestrianised shopping area“.

    What was the driver doing in a pedestrianised area – where he should not have been – anyway? Exercising his over-developed sense of entitlement. For his lack of care for other road users, the perpetrator ultimately received a 12-month community order, a two-year driving ban and must pass an extended driving test before he can regain his licence.

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