The Daily Mail reports:
April Fools is no laughing matter, China’s official news service intoned Friday, saying the Western tradition of opening spring with a gag is un-Chinese. The official news agency Xinhua’s stiffly worded post on micro-blog Weibo declared: “Today is the West’s so-called ‘April Fools'”. The occasion “does not conform with our nation’s cultural traditions, nor does it conform with the core values of socialism“, it added.
“Don’t believe rumours, don’t create rumours and don’t spread rumours,” it said, capping off the note with a smiley emoticon. A cartoon accompanying the post showed two phones “spreading rumours.” A finger pointing at them is accompanied by a word bubble that says “breaking the law”. Spreading rumours online can be a violation of Chinese law.
But the country’s Internet users met the reminder with a collective guffaw, suggesting that in China, every day is April Fools. “You speak lies every day, use government policy, data, to trick the people in every way. What’s up, what’s down? What’s wrong? What’s right? We’re on to you,” one Weibo commenter said. Other users likened the post to the satirical American newspaper The Onion. “The most amusing ‘April Fools’ news is that Xinhua is seriously saying ‘don’t believe rumours’,” said one.
One has to admire Xinhua’s deadpan delivery, but didn’t including the smiley rather give the game away?
The World no.1 mens tennis player, that well-known Scots-Irishman Jock O’Vitch, has caused some ripples in the usual areas with his remarks over the ATP (Mens) tennis tour being the bigger draw than the WTA Tour in terms of ratings and therefore being deserving of more prize money.
Of course, in a free world, it doesn’t quite work like that, as it depends on the contract that you have, and the comments of the CEO of the Indian Wells tournament, a Mr Moore, appears to have led to the usual media ‘storm’ and to his resignation in a bout of pseudo-Maoist self-criticism.
Moore said female players “should get down on their knees” in thanks to male counterparts such as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. The South African – a former player – later apologised for his “erroneous” remarks.
In this Holy Week, should we not remember the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, the only bit of the Bible that resonated with me at school (apart from Balaam’s Donkey, for other reasons), as being an obvious statement of what is right and wrong.
12 Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.
13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?
14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.
15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?
16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.
17 And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them,
18 Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death,
19 And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.
20 Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him.
We shall know that there is progress in the cause of liberty when those who protest against the perfectly reasonable comments of the World No. 1 are laughed at and ridiculed, and those who speak as they see things shall not cower before those who scorn reason and liberty.
And where are the complaints from the same horde that sponsorship deals for some women tennis players far outstrip the earnings of male tennis players?
Tyrannical EU threatens our liberal laws
“If Britain is at little risk of such tragic convulsions, it’s exposed to the EU’s progressive authoritarianism in more surreptitious ways. The jurist Sir William Blackstone articulated the presumption of innocence, a cornerstone of British justice: “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.” The Napoleonic code that influenced much of continental Europe, and the EU, lacks that respect for individual liberty.
Take the European arrest warrant (EAW). Innocent British citizens have been subjected to Kafkaesque justice systems by a fast-track process that sidesteps basic safeguards. In 2014, Keith Hainsworth, an Ancient Greek tutor sightseeing in Greece, was wrongly accused of setting a forest ablaze. Arrested without a shred of evidence, a five-week nightmare saw him holed up in a notorious Athens jail. A Greek judge eventually released him, admitting a simple error that could have been cleared up with one phone call. The Hainsworths were left with legal bills approaching £40,000.”
– From a piece by Dominic Raab in the Sunday Times.
Update: There is an oddity in this morning’s edition of the Times. Under the heading “Understanding European Capital Markets”, which seems to be a series title, there is a little article that starts as follows,
What is the European Commission doing to improve the access to financing for start-ups and SMEs?
David Muxworthy is adamant that without the EU’s financial assistance, he would have been forced to give up more of the equity in his company to private investors. He is the chief financial officer of MyPinPad, a state-of-the-art technology company that specialises in authentication solutions for devices like mobiles and tablets.
According to this year’s European Parliament annual report, there are around 22 million SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) like Muxworthy’s operating in the EU, providing two thirds of private sector employment – around 75 million jobs. The International Monetary Fund describes these sorts of businesses – agile, innovative, entrepreneurial, job-creating and growing – as the “backbone” of the European economy. The EU is well aware of SMEs’ importance and has set up a series of financial organisations to help them fulfil their potential. Localisation is a key consideration, and focus is often given to geographical economic “clusters”.
Something in the tone struck me as a little off. The typeface was just very slightly different, too. Then I saw the discreetly placed logo at the top right corner. “In association with Goldman Sachs.” Ah.
Another story from Der Spiegel International caught my eye: Lying Press? Germans Lose Faith in the Fourth Estate. It says it is by “Spiegel staff”. Someone would rather not put their name to this.
This comment from a reader calling themselves “wildberry” summed it up well:
“How can a woman who has been reading SPIEGEL, Süddeutsche Zeitung and Badische Neueste Nachrichten for years hit upon the idea that the journalists writing for these publications are trying to manipulate her, their reader?” This sentence encapsulates the problem. This air of injured innocence betrays the utter refusal of the journalists and their employers to understand why they are mistrusted and seen no longer as telling the truth to the world and holding the establishment to account. Instead they are more and more regarded as no more trustworthy than this same establishment. In fact, as with the latest example of (at best) partial and belated attempts to confront reality, they are seen as culpable, partial, and biased. That they cannot understand their own shortcomings and their own unconscious bias is at the root of the problem. When the press is seen, not as having a slight political preference – that has ever been the case and is widely accepted and understood, but as being complicit in the deliberate twisting of news-facts, one has to recognise that newspapers have dug their own graves and cannot complain when no-one believes them any more.
Another one, this time from “Pryor Oak”:
I am amazed that Der Spiegel is suddenly allowing readers to post comments. That is a step in the correct direction to earn trust in the media. Regarding the events in Cologne on New Years Eve, the Chief of Police issued a press release on January 1, 2016, stating that it was a “peaceful New Year’s Eve”. Only after Germans posted eyewitness accounts on Twitter, Facebook and international media that people learned the truth. This event created a distrust of the German media, police and government because it appeared that these institutions wanted to create a wall of silence regarding crimes committed by migrants against German citizens.
Here are two posts from the Samizdata back catalogue with a similar theme: If you do not want to see the BNP vindicated, try not proving them right and Politically correct evasiveness fails on its own terms. And just to show that this isn’t me jumping on the latest bandwagon, here’s a depressingly similar Biased BBC post from ten years ago: Two Beaches.
In the latter Samizdata post I asked (without, it must be said, any serious doubts as to the answer) the British press how it thought the strategy of silence and euphemism about the Muslim identity of the perpetrators of the crimes for which Rotherham is now world famous was succeeding. The same strategy was tried again in Germany with the same result. If the press of either country actually cares about diminishing the hostility between Muslims and non-Muslims it needs to try a new strategy. Try not lying.
Today, we have heard the toll of the bell for the print edition of the Independent, a new-ish British newspaper founded in 1986 to fill the perceived gap between the sanctimonious Left-wing priggishness of the Guardian and the then-brash Times with, well, what appeared to be more sanctimonious Left-wing priggishness. Although it was mindful of the need to remain in profit to be independent, that rigour has meant that it has now decided to go online only from 26th March 2016, having been as Independent as any newspaper owned by a charitable former KGB officer. Its mini-Me version, the i newspaper, a thinned-down version, is being sold off, stc.
What use is a Lefty rag if you can’t even wipe anything with it*? A sigh of relief at competitors, or an unwelcome reminder that the end of the tunnel is the mountain (of debt)?
*Newspaper is great for making car windows really clear after a wash.
Having here, as we do, lots of American commenters who are knowledgeable about the details of American politics means that it makes little sense for us Samizdatan Brits to be telling Americans about American politics. But it makes perfect sense for the likes of me to ask questions about American politics. And my question to all American readers who choose to care about it is: Is this true?
This being a Breitbart piece by John Nolte in which he claims that Donald Trump has, pretty much instantaneously and single-handedly, destroyed Hillary Clinton, by flinging at her the accusation that she is an enabler and political ally of a serial woman-destroyer. This mud has been floating around for decades. Everyone has known it. But thanks to Trump and his mastery of the social media, this mud has now, finally, been made to stick. For a quarter of a century the corrupt American mass media have been protecting the Clintons from all this. Now, that protection has been obliterated, by Donald Trump.
If that’s true, then good – very good – for Donald Trump. I have all the obvious doubts about this bizarre man that others have expressed, here and elsewhere. But, one of the basic rules of civilisation is that the rules made by big people, and indeed the basic rules of behaving decently, should apply to big people as well as to little people. The idea that the king is above the law is the very essence of lawlessness. And in the person of “The Donald”, says Nolte, this idea – that the rules apply to the big person that is Hillary Clinton – has finally being applied to and is having serious consequences for this appalling woman, if not in an actual court of law, then at least in the court of public opinion.
Nolte further argues – his piece is entitled “Bernie Sanders Rising Because Trump Annihilating Hillary Clinton” – that the rise of Bernie Sanders is not really a rise; it is merely the collapse of Sanders’s rival for the Democrat nomination, Hillary Clinton.
But: Is all or any of this true? I really look forward to hearing what our commentariat has to say.
The idea that there is a fixed amount of wealth is a pessimistic fallacy held by cod economists. The idea that there is a fixed amount of stupidity is an optimistic fallacy held by cod psychologists. New forms of stupidity are being generated all the time; and this process is not the least hampered by old forms of stupidity continuing to flourish and even spring up anew in places from which naive observers had thought that particular species of stupidity had been eradicated.
The Guardian newspaper is a sort of Rare Breed Survival Trust for economic and political stupidity. It works to secure the continued existence and viability of endangered falsehoods. Heartwarmingly, its labours often meet with success and stupid ideas once considered moribund can thrive again. Not thrive in terms of achieving anything worthwhile, of course, because the ideas concerned are stupid, but in terms of being loved.
Let’s look at a case study of a fallacy brought back from the brink of extinction to flourish once again in the pages of the Guardian. I refer you to an article by Zoe Williams entitled “Poverty goals? No, it’s extreme wealth we should be targeting”.
Furthermore, as Martin Kirk from the activist network the Rules pointed out, all the language of sustainable goals frames poverty as a disease: eradicable, no match for the ingenuity of mankind, but fundamentally nobody’s fault. It is a landscape where everyone’s a hero and nobody’s a villain; one in which unfair trade agreements, land grabs, structural debt relations, privatisation of publicly owned utilities and tax evasion never happened.
Poverty is not a naturally occurring germ or virus; it is anthropogenically created though wealth extraction. Any goal that fails to recognise this is not only unlikely to succeed, but can only be understood as a deliberate act of diversion, drawing attention away from what might work; in its place, the anodyne, fairytale language of hope, in a post-ideological world where all politicians just want what’s best and a billionaire is just a benefactor you haven’t met yet.
In the green corner, a 3 min 41 sec clip from an LBC radio interview with the Green Party leader Natalie Bennett by Nick Ferrari dated 24 February 2015:
Incredibly awkward interview with Natalie Bennett
(I posted about this interview back when it happened.)
Most cringeworthy moments: her ghastly fake coughs at 2:07, 3:10, and 3:25 whenever Nick Ferrari pressed a point particularly hard. She really did have a cough, but even a real cough sounds wrong when told to perform before it is ready. Ferrari’s expression of sympathy after the 3:25 coughing fit was not meant to deceive her or the audience.
In the red corner, a four minute clip from a BBC Northern Ireland radio interview with Jeremy Corbyn by Stephen Nolan dated 8 August 2015, while Mr Corbyn was the front-runner in his ultimately successful bid to become leader of the Labour Party:
Jeremy Corbyn asked five times to condemn IRA violence
The most cringeworthy section again involves a pretence. Listening from 3 minutes until the end, Mr Corbyn’s initial claim not to have heard was credible; there was interference from another station to contend with. But as the interviewer doggedly repeated the question in an admirably clear voice, my belief in Mr Corbyn’s deafness trickled away.
Jeremy Corbyn: “Can we take the thing forwards rather than backwards?”
Stephen Nolan: “Are you refusing to condemn what the IRA did?”
[Background noise – interference from another station.]
JC: “Sorry, couldn’t hear that.”
SN: “Are you refusing to condemn what the IRA did?”
JC: “Hello? I think we’re going to have to do this later…”
SN: “OK, let me just – let me just ask this last question while it’s quiet there. Are you refusing to condemn what the IRA did?”
[Sound of indrawn breath.]
Who wins this round?
Yeah, funny and all, but it is depressing that so many people find an allegation quoted second hand from a single un-named source to be proof positive so long as the accused is someone they dislike. The claim that there is photographic evidence sets the seal on my disbelief. If this photo exists what is stopping this little piggy going to market? Why didn’t he squeal before now? Is the possessor of this photograph waiting for someone richer than Ashcroft to offer him more money or some time better than today for it to get some media attention?
I haven’t got the photo, alas. What a pig’s ear I made of my opportunities there. Like David Cameron, I managed to trot along to Oxford in the early 80’s and yet knew nothing of the Bullingdon Club, the Piers Gaveston Society or whatever. I first heard of the former when Cameron became prime minister and of the latter yesterday. My friends wore anoraks and were into science fiction. Or even science, the weirdos.
The consequences of politically motivated credulity regarding allegations that look increasingly likely to have been porky-pies are sometimes more serious than a lot of bad puns.
Met overstepped mark in Westminster paedophile ring inquiry, says prosecutor
The most senior prosecutor in England and Wales has added her voice to criticism of the Metropolitan police’s inquiry into claims of a murderous Westminster paedophile ring, saying detectives “overstepped the mark” when they stated that the allegations were true.
Alison Saunders, the director of public prosecutions and head of the Crown Prosecution Service, acknowledged the difficulties of investigating historical allegations but said: “You don’t just take somebody’s word as it is.”
On Monday Scotland Yard acknowledged that a senior detective’s description of an alleged victim’s claims as “credible and true” had “suggested we were pre-empting the outcome of the investigation”.
Pre-empting the verdict of a trial? You don’t say! Why did it take you this long to notice, Ms Saunders?
For those who don’t follow the Dolphin Square soap opera, the claims described by police as “credible and true” came from one source, nicknamed Nick, who claimed that three children were murdered by a VIP sex ring.
Operation Midland has drawn criticism since police forces leapt on unsubstantiated abuse claims against Edward Heath, and the former MP Harvey Proctor condemned as preposterous the allegations of torture and abuse put to him by officers.
Note that Heath was alleged to have been abusing and possibly offing kiddies while a serving prime minister, when his every moment was monitored by bodyguards (most of whom would have been police officers themselves), officials, flunkies and journalists. All in on it, I suppose. I think that Heath was one of the worst PMs we have ever had, but who believes this crap?
The deputy leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, that’s who!
Midland is one of a number of inquiries that began after Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, said in the House of Commons in 2012 that there had been “a powerful paedophile network linked to parliament and No 10”.
The BBC, commendably, has taken to occasionally giving over a spare channel to its election coverage from days gone by, without modern commentary. The programme about the general election of 1955 can be seen here or here.
At 2 hours 25 minutes there is an interview with former Liberal Chief Whip Frank Byers. At 2:29 he says,
I should say that the major issue which has arisen as a result of the election, now that we know it, is the future of the Labour Party. Because quite frankly I think that if that party is gong to remain as the official opposition – and I don’t see it doing so, but if it is – it’s got to do a great deal of fresh thinking. It’s got to have, I think, a policy that does not include all this nationalisation and control, and I think they’ve got to bring a good deal of business experience into their academic economics; and until they do that I don’t see them getting back into power. In fact I hope they don’t, until they’ve got a proper policy. It may well be that this is the beginning of the Liberal Party transplanting the socialist party as the official opposition.
Byers was wrong. Nothing remotely like that came to pass in the years following 1955. But I predict that his prediction might be dusted off and sold as “mint condition vintage” in 2020.
This whole Jeremy Corbyn thing is a cosmic rebuke to the idea that chance plays no role in history. For those who do not follow British politics, what happened is this. The declining Labour party, desperate to attract more recruits, made it easy and cheap to register as a supporter. After Ed Miliband’s resignation at first all the candidates for the next leader were fairly centrist. There was a consensus among Labour MPs that they should take on board what the British electorate had told them in unexpectedly giving the Conservatives a majority in the 2015 election. Then a few MPs decided to give the perennial left wing rebel Jeremy Corbyn a chance to play too, basically out of pity. Thanks to their intervention he reached the threshold number of nominations from MPs needed in order to go on the ballot two minutes before the deadline. Big mistake. First some mischievous Tories decided to register as Labour in order to screw the Labour party around by voting for Corbyn the electoral no-hoper. Then the far-left entryists awoke from their thirty-year slumber and saw that this was a chance for them, too. Social media spread the idea among left wing students and beaten-down old socialists suddenly aflame with new hope. The role of social media, perhaps, could have been predicted – but nobody did predict it. Thousands then hundreds of thousands paid their £3 and registered to vote. It now looks almost certain that Corbachov will be the next Labour leader. Next prime minister, not so likely.
Though now it is established that in the ever-branching tree of alternate worlds we live in a stunted little twig poking out at an odd angle, I dare not predict anything with confidence any more. Johnny English did become head of MI7, after all.
On July 23 virtually every news outlet in the United States ran some version of the following headline: “Turkey Joins the Fight Against ISIL; Opens Air Base to Coalition Forces; Washington and Ankara Agree to Safe Zone in Syria.” The media, being what it is, dubbed Ankara’s decision to order up airstrikes on Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s forces a “game changer”, which is what journalists say when they have nothing else to say, do not understand a situation and are itching to get back to covering Donald Trump.
– Steven Cook
When I was abroad recently, I watched the hotel TV, like you do. The same big story got repeated over and over again, like it does. Do you know what BBC World News thought was the most important story on Earth?
Cecil the lion (peace be upon him). The BBC had a reporter with the crowd outside the house of that American dentist who broke the world’s heart. “Nothing has been seen of Mr Palmer,” smirked the reporter, “which isn’t surprising considering what some people here are saying they are going to do to him.” Then the camera panned to the house for a good long look at it so that anyone else wanting to kill the man would know where to go. I always wondered what it would take for the BBC to see the merits of vigilante justice.
Not to be outdone by the Yanks, now Britain has its own Walter Palmer. Not to be outdone by the Beeb, the Daily Mail is at the head of the mob.
Former GREEN PARTY councillor revealed as a big game hunter who poses for trophy photos with his kills – and defends shooting Cecil the Lion
A former Green Party councillor has defended his hobby – as a big game hunter.
Defiant Ben Wightman, 27, has proudly posted trophy photos of himself next to a series of animals he has shot in South Africa.
The controversial images – on his publicly-open Facebook page – show a grinning Wightman, rifle in hand, crouched beside a host of dead animals, including two antelopes, a bloodied warthog*, an ostrich, buffalo and a zebra.
Wow, a Green Party apex predator. I like it. The Daily Mail commenters don’t. “The comments below have not been moderated”, it says. You can tell. The Mail would not deprive its readers of the manly pleasures of making death threats to people they’d never heard of ten minutes ago. But doesn’t this blockhead know the script? He’s not backing down:
‘I am a firm believer that one of the best ways of management and conservation is with a rifle.
‘We are taking out old, lame or unfit animals that are causing problems for local farmers.’
*Note to the Samizdata elves. A warthog is practically a hippo. I’ve waited years to use this category.