Posts tagged politics

Sprinter helped by Google Translate

Krystsina_TsimanouskayaOne of the biggest dramas of the current Tokyo Olympics has taken place away from the competitive arena – the defiance of Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya against the repressive actions of the authoritarian Belarus state.

On 30 July 2021, Tsimanouskaya recorded video criticising officials from the Belarus Olympic Committee (headed by Viktor Lukashenko, son of Belarus’ authoritarian president, who was re-elected last year in an election widely regarded as fraudulent. Ed.), saying that they had forced her to run in the 4 × 400 m relay race, a distance at which she had never competed, without her consent, after other athletes missed anti-doping tests and were not allowed to compete due to a lack of tests, a factor which she also blamed on the Belarus Olympic Committee.

The following day Belarusian media reported the attempt to forcibly return Tsimanouskaya to Belarus, removing her from the Olympic village to Tokyo’s Narita airport. Tsimanouskaya’s grandmother warned her not to return while she was being transported to the airport in the company of Belarus Olympic officials. She said afterwards her family feared that she might be taken to a psychiatric facility if she returned to Belarus.

She then decided not to return to her homeland; and took action to prevent it happening.

In a video posted on Twitter by Bloomberg Quicktake, Tsimanouskaya drew the attention of police officers at the airport terminal with the aid of Google Translate stating:

“When I arrived at the airport, I used the Google translator to translate in Japanese that I need help. I came to police and showed the translation.”

The police then took her into protective custody at an airport hotel overnight.

On 4th August, Tsimanouskaya flew to Vienna’s international airport from Narita International Airport from where she took a connecting flight to Poland.

Since Tsimanouskaya’s flight from Tokyo, several other Belarusian athletes have spoken in support of her, whilst Amnesty International has reported that athletes are more likely to be targets of the Lukashenko government due to his the alleged president’s interest in sport.

In further repercussions, the International Olympic Committee has expelled 2 Belarusian coaches (shouldn’t that be minders? Ed.) after stripping them of their accreditation.

Free online waste & recycling webinars

Bristol Waste is organising a series of monthly webinars dealing with all you wanted to know about waste, reuse and recycling in Bristol but were afraid to ask!

Visiting Bristol Waste

Image courtesy of Bristol Waste

People can sign up to learn from experts about what happens to their waste and recycling once it is put out for collection.

Since lockdown Bristol Waste has been running these very popular online sessions so as to give residents the chance to ask questions, dispel any myths and find out how to be recycling and waste superstars!

Every other month, there’s a general Q&A session, where people can ask about anything waste related, alternating with a specially themed webinar concentrating on a specific topic.

There is a special recycling event planned for Recycle Week and people can also sign up for a ‘festive special’ to learn how to be more sustainable over the holiday season.

Follow this link to find out more.

The next Q&A session takes place on Wednesday, 18th August between 6.30 and 7.30 pm. Sign up via Eventbrite.

The Farage effect

One of the earliest social impacts exerted by the internet is the so-called Streisand effect, which Wikipedia succinctly defines as: “a social phenomenon that occurs when an attempt to hide, remove, or censor information has the unintended consequence of further publicizing that information, often via the Internet. It is named after American entertainer Barbra Streisand, whose attempt to suppress the California Coastal Records Project’s photograph of her residence in Malibu, California, taken to document California coastal erosion, inadvertently drew further attention to it in 2003.“.

After this week’s developments in British media life, your ‘umble scribe is wondering whether the Streisand effect is about to be joined by a new phenomenon which should be called the Farage effect.

Here’s the background.

Right-wing gobshite at the podiumOn Tuesday Nigel Farage, a former MEP who denies he’s a professional politician and perennial right-wing rabble-rouser, used his newly-minted show on right-leaning GB News (aka GBeebies. Ed.) to attack the RNLI for rescuing refugees attempting to reach British shores in flimsy and unsafe vessels who are in distress.

In particular, Farage stated that the charity, whose lifeboats are crewed by volunteers and which is funded by donations from the public, should case to provide a “taxi service for illegal trafficking gangs“.

 

Needless to say, Farage’s intemperate words and the awful bigotry behind them were intended to produce a reaction; and so they have, but it is one that the far-right rabble-rouser will not necessarily. appreciate.

As the Independent reports, normal weekday donations to the charity rocketed by over 2,000 per cent compared any other Wednesday in the year in an outpouring of public support. This comes after the charity revealed how its volunteers were receiving abuse s a result of the bile spewed by the likes of Farage and published harrowing footage of Channel rescues.

A grateful RNLI has since expressed its thanks to a generous public via a tweet earlier today.

We’ve seen a surge in donations over the past 24 hours – both in terms of one-off gifts and hundreds of you who’ve set up a monthly donation. We’re overwhelmed by and incredibly grateful for your kindness.

Screenshot on RNLI tweet

On the other side, there has been a minor backlash with some existing supporters of the charity withdrawing their financial and voluntary support, presumably fully paid-up members of the Farage Cult.

Will there soon be a Farage effect Wikipedia page stating it is a social phenomenon that occurs when an attempt is made to denigrate the actions of a volunteer-run humanitarian organisation backfires spectacularly?

Please feel free to discuss in the comments below.

Update, Thursday 30 July: Today The Guardian’s website is reporting that donations to the RNLI actually increased by 3,000% stating:

The RNLI, which runs the UK’s network of volunteer lifeboats, said it received £200,000 in charitable donations on Wednesday – around 30 times its normal average of £6,000–£7,000 per day. During the same period, there was a 270% increase in people viewing volunteering opportunities on its website.

Faced with all the criticism from decent folk, Farage has since tried to downplay his racism and bigotry by claiming he has been proud to raise money for the RNLI. This is the equivalent of an arsonist in court telling the judge from the dock that he had deliberately started fires to keep the fire brigade in work.

Press gets it wrong – again

If there’s one characteristic of the English Empire’s free and fearless press and the news media in general that’s immediately apparent to anyone with more than one brain cell, it’s their usually remote relationship with the truth.

In the last week or so a new word has emerged – pingdemic – in relation to the coronavirus pandemic to describe the large volume of self-isolation warnings issued by the Covid track and trace app (aka pings (pl.), as derived from the computer networking utility of the same name. Ed.).

Thus the terms ping and pingdemic have become part of normal newspaper and news media vocabulary, as shown in this typical example from yesterday’s London Evening Standard.

Headline reads Ping threat to our food, tube and bins

Whoever wrote the headline Ping threat to our food, tube and bins has clearly not thought the matter through.

It’s not the pings that are the threat but the viral plague which is giving rise to rocketing Covid, aided and abetted by an apology for a government that has removed restrictions far too soon and relinquished – in exemplary Pontius Pilate mode – all responsibility for safeguarding people’s health in the rush to let all their rich mates resume making Loadsamoney again.

All news is to a certain extent manipulated, but if those that right it cannot even get the basic details correct in a headline, is it any wonder that there is deep mistrust in the media?

Still, never mind with all this gloom and doom. Immediately adjacent is a prime example of look over there in the form of the current 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo.

The staff of the Standard clearly seem to have adopted the comment by Juvenal, the 2nd century Roman poet famous that the common people are only interested in bread and circuses (Latin: panem et circensis. Ed.) as editorial policy

Basic Welsh to be required for Welsh government jobs

Welsh government logoIn July last year, the devolved Welsh government published Cymraeg. It belongs to us all, its strategy on the internal use of the Welsh language, one of whose aims is to have one million Welsh speakers in the country by 2050.

As part of the strategy to achieve that goal, 2 announcements have been made in recent days.

In the first instance, the Daily Post has reported that a basic command of Welsh – a so-called courtesy level – will be required for all Welsh government jobs.

In future employees Workers will have to demonstrate language skills that include the ability to:

    • pronounce Welsh language words, names, place names and terms;
    • answer the telephone bilingually, greet people or make introductions bilingually;
    • understand and use everyday expressions and simple key words related to the workplace;
    • read and understand short texts providing basic information, e.g. in correspondence, or to interpret the content using available technology; and
    • demonstrate language awareness, including an appreciation of the importance of the language in society and an awareness of what is required to provide bilingual customer [sic] service.

Needless to say, there has been criticism, with Tory AS/MS Tom Giffard leading the charge (no doubt with the encouragement of his controllers at CCHQ in London SW1. Ed.) and claiming: “The Welsh Government is becoming a closed shop”.

In the second instance, the Daily Post further reports that 30% of children in Year 1 are be in Welsh-medium education by 2031, compared with 23% last year.

This will entail the opening of a minimum of 60 extra Welsh-medium nursery groups by 2026, in addition to the 40 opened over the past 4 years.

Sunlit uplands – latest

How are matters progressing five years on from that referendum and over 6 months since the end of the Brexit transition period?

In simple terms, what was dismissed as Project Fear has very much become Project Reality.

Crops are rotting in the fields due to a lack of seasonal workers to pick them, whilst a shortage of lorry drivers means that any fresh produce that does get picked might not be delivered to shops and supermarkets.

Photo of empty supermarket fruit and vegetable section over shelving headed Pick of the Crop and Best of British

Floreat Brexitannia!

Whitehall BS5 sends a message to Whitehall SW1

This blog has written before about the changing messages that appear on a garage wall at the apex of the junction of Russelltown Avenue, Cannon Street and Whitehall Road (posts passim).

The message has now changed again and reads as per the photo below.

Text in photograph reads Boris is a big bumbahole

According to Urban Dictionary, bumbahole is a synonym of arsehole in British English and asshole in American English.

One can safely assume that the Boris being referenced is none other than the superannuated Billy Bunter-like figure of one certain Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, who has been inexplicably promoted beyond his competence to the office of Prime Minister of the English Empire, a job he fulfils to his own satisfaction on a part time basis.

Among the less favourable characteristics of Bunter’s personality are gluttony, laziness, racism, deceit, sloth, self-importance and conceit, all of which have been extensively documented down the decades by others more eloquent than your ‘umble scribe (e.g. his former employer Max Hastings) as also being present in the part-time alleged prime minister’s character.

Estonia – government software is now public software

Public Money Public Code logoThe Baltic Republic of Estonia has clearly taken note of the Free Software Foundation Europe’s Pubic Money Public Code campaign to have publicly funded software released as free software.

Joinup,the EU’s news site for open source IT developments reports that the Estonian government decided to make all government software publicly available.

The Estonian Parliament, the Riigikogu, approved the necessary changes to the Estonian State Property Act on 12 May 2021 and the the new rules came into effect on 1st June 2021.

All software to which the Estonian state owns the property rights in whole or part shall henceforth ould be made available publicly. If only parts are owned by the state, those parts owned by the state will be made available.

Under the new regulations, the authority in charge of the software shall decide if the software is to be made available and has to provide the following:

  • a description of the public software to be made available for use;
  • the conditions of use of the public software to be made available.

However, there are some restrictions on the release of publicly-funded software to the pubic. For example, if such a release would be detrimental to the state, such as a potential threat to public order and national security or cybersecurity reasons, in which case the authority in question can refuse to make the software publicly available.

With his move, Estonia joins other European countries such as Spain, Italy and France, which already publish most of government-owned software publicly

OpenStreetMap might move to EU member state

OpenStreetMap is a great open source alternative to the commercial data slurping map services provided by technology giants such Microsoft (Bing) and Google.

OpenStreetMap view of part of East Bristol

OpenStreetMap view of part of East Bristol

At this point you might be wondering why your ‘umble scribe chooses to mention Brexit, the English Empire’s most stupid and damaging foreign policy decision since the 1956 Suez Crisis.

Today’s Guardian announces that OpenStreetMap, which has been headquartered in the UK since its inception nearly 20 years ago, might be upping sticks and moving to a European member state very soon due to part-time alleged prime minister Boris Johnson’s pretend government taking back control and once again ostensibly becoming – in its mendacious words – an independent sovereign state. It’s such a pity the Blonde Bumbler’s kakistocracy doesn’t understand and never has understood the concept of pooled sovereignty.

The OpenStreetMap Foundation, which was formally registered in 2006 – 2 years after the project began – is a limited company incorporated under the laws of England and Wales.

Quoting an email from earlier this month, The Guardian quotes Guillaume Rischard, the Foundation’s treasurer, as saying the following

There is not one reason for moving, but a multitude of paper cuts, most of which have been triggered or amplified by Brexit.

One of these <empaper cuts is the failure of the Johnson régime and EU to agree on mutual recognition of database rights. While both have an agreement to recognise copyright protections, maps are data and fall outside the ambit of creative works. Until Brexit mapping were covered by an EU-wide agreement that protected databases, but since Brexit, there is no longer any mutual recognition and/or protection of any database made in the UK or EU on or after 1 January 2021.

The Foundation’s other motives for moving from the UK include banking and payment concerns, plus the increased importance of the EU technology regulation matters.

A statement issued by the Foundation includes the following:

We are actively researching options to protect the OSM community’s interests, and one option under investigation is relocation to an EU member state. We have made no decisions so far.

GBeebies rinsed by Welsh soap

The new right-wing TV channel GB News (affectionately known as GBeebies by some. Ed.) seems to be getting off to an even worse start than had been predicted.

Today Nation Cymru reports that the channel is achieving worse viewing figures than some content on S4C, the Welsh language free-to-air television channel.

The latest figures revealed that a maximum of only 32,000 tuned in on Thursday last week. whilst a mere 31,000 could be bothered to turn in for Chairman Andrew Neil’s own flagship show.

No wonder he announced he was taking a break and flounced off back home to the south of, er, France.

In particular, Nation Cymru notes that GBeebies’ viewing figures were lower than those of S4C shows such as the long-running Welsh language soap opera Pobol y Cwm, which attracts an audience of 44,000 viewers, according to S4C’s latest statistics.

Pobol y cwm logo

Moreover, there are other Welsh language shows produced by S4C that attract even higher figures, such as Patrol Pawennau (the Welsh language version of Paw Patrol. Ed.), which draws audiences of 161,000 people.

With the channel being boycotted by advertisers, the amateurish broadcasting and technical expertise on display and Brillo scarpering back home to Grasse for an indefinite period, one might expect GBeebies’ days as a broadcaster to be numbered.

Lovers of live disaster viewing had better get the popcorn in…

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