Weekly News Review August 30th – Sept 5th

5th September 2020 / United Kingdom
Weekly News Review August 30th - Sept 5th

Editors Weekly Poke

Last week, an article in the Tory backing Telegraph newspaper investigated different ways of calculating how well Britain has done so far in combatting the Covid crisis (source). It looked at the different ways across the world of calculating mortality rates of the pandemic. They interrogated case mortality rates, then excess deaths, reported deaths, observed deaths, comparable deaths, deaths per 100,000 and overall reported deaths. What they found was that no matter how you cut this – Britain was in the top three worst-performing countries in the world for the most C19 deaths. Then it investigated how the economy faired against the rest of the world and it found pretty much the same. What this proves is that Britain has the worst possible government at a moment of crisis. Its headline somehow didn’t seem strong enough – but for the Telegraph it must have been painful to declare – “How, on every measure, Britain’s response to the Covid pandemic has been woeful.” And when Covid V2 comes to revisit, which by all expert accounts it will, it will do so as the country faces up to the reality of Brexit, now just 18 weeks away. One thing you can count on with this government, just as the homeless, disabled, ill and unemployed found out over the last decade during its failed austerity project – don’t expect protecting human life to replace an incessant desire to strengthen its grip on power above all else.

Rishi Sunak has been testing the political waters with deliberate leaks here and there at raising capital gains tax and corporation tax for the next Budget in November – which was initially cancelled anyway but now apparently back on. The right-wing press, funded mainly by offshore billionaires has provided an expected hostile response – just as they did in demonising Labour’s plan to do exactly the same. Back in December just before the election, Labour’s tax plan was described as too ‘radical’ and for going on an “an eye-watering spending spree” (source). Their plans targeted raising corporation tax and capital gains tax and tackling tax evasion – pretty much what Sunak is thinking of (source). Interestingly, Labour’s tax plan fits in exactly what Tory voters think. In a March poll (source), 74 per cent, including 64 per cent of Tory voters want to see the wealthy paying more tax – including paying capital gains tax at the same rate as income tax and increasing corporation tax. Both parties now agree, leading economists now agree, the public now agrees this has to happen – but the people pulling the strings don’t. Two questions – Are the Tories now too afraid of the billionaire donors who put them in power in the first place to act in the public interest? And, will another U-Turn occur and the Furlough scheme be extended? The answer to both those is probably – yes.

The power grab by this government continues.  It was only two weeks ago that Johnson’s most senior advisors were moved into the cabinet office in a move to strengthen No 10’s grip on the civil service which is responsible for implementing the prime minister’s policy agenda throughout Whitehall. However, when it announced, to the dismay of many civil rights organisations (July 31st) that an independent review of administrative law (the Judiciary) was to take place, you just knew something much more pernicious was happening. Very sneakily and very much under cover of a pandemic and unfolding economic crisis, it took them only until Tuesday 1st Sept to quietly put on the Parliament.uk website what it really meant. It included the scope and who will decide to act on its recommendations. In layman’s terms, the judicial review seeks to take power from the courts and hand more executive powers to No 10 Downing Street without legal challenge. Clause two is explicit in its meaning – “executive powers should be non-justiciable.” If ever you want to quote something from an authoritarian regime – those are the words Johnson and his cronies want to codify. It really means they will be able to make certain rules and laws and you, the citizen will have no right to challenge them (source) in a court of law. You can read the written statement by the Ministry of Justice posted Sept 1st HERE. And speaking of power grabs, the government is now silencing the electoral watchdog because it knows too much about what actually happened in the EU referendum and installed another crony – this time the new boss of the BBC (more below).

At TruePublica we have been warning since 2015 that this government would end up being as authoritarian as it could get away with and here is just one more sign of the type of creeping control it intends. This week, it was announced that No 10 plans to create online “ID cards” for British citizens. The government is proposing that each person will be assigned a unique digital identity so you can use the services of a GP, take a book from a library and access all manner of basic public services. It is understood that legislation will be forthcoming quite soon. Make no mistake that the lawless Dominic Cummings use of data across government will include vaccination records now called ‘disease status’ alongside much more highly sensitive information including biometrics. Needless to say that the Minister for digital infrastructure Matt Warman told the Times he was excited to ‘work with partners in the private sector’ (source). Now it becomes clearer why American firm Palantir – deeply embedded in the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook/SCL Brexit scandal wanted full access to the entire NHS database (source) that was forced open by MI5 (which you can read about in ‘recommended reading’ below). The Daily Mail put on a nice tone to promote the initiative and even heavily quoted former Labour PM Tony Blair, who approves, to help with the propaganda campaign to force it through. Instead of warning about the abuse of sensitive data by private firms, especially American ones involved in the project and the problems that it will inevitably bring – The Daily Mail and The Times went on to herald that you could use it for proof of age in a pub! This is a project that will, over time, morph into something more sinister – like a social credit system being developed and described HERE.

 

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Inside Downing Street

Watchdog Silenced: The ICO’s investigation into Cambridge Analytica and its referendum swinging effect on Brexit was genuinely ground-breaking.  The article ‘Data crimes are real crimes’ explains it all (source). Two years later the final report has been stopped from being published. The Met Police have stopped investigating and the Information Commissioners Office has gone silent. It turns out Michael Gove (allied with Dominic Cummings) is the boss of the Information Commissioner. Given the seismic nature of Brexit, the lies it took to achieve and the economic damage it has done and will do, you would have thought a full investigation would have been published – but the authorities with the power have now been silenced by Downing Street (source). The Tories are blaming the electoral Commission of incompetance – another way of saying – it’s about to be abolished because of what it knows on record (READ MORE).

Playing politics with Covid: Matt Hancock has been urged to publish the scientific advice behind his decision to lift coronavirus restrictions in some areas after critics accused him of “playing politics” with public health. In brief, Hancock is really accused of favouring Tory areas. Labour MPs and council leaders, were furious and accused the government of overruling local public health decisions in order to appease Conservative MPs. The announcement meant that people living in some Tory-voting constituencies would no longer be subject to restrictions, while those in neighbouring Labour seats with similar or lower infection rates will not (source).

Donate against Dom: Martin Redston is an individual bringing judicial review proceedings against the Director of Public Prosecutions for his failure to properly consider the actions of Dominic Cummings, the chief advisor to Boris Johnson, in relation to a potential breach of Regulation 6 of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020/350. You can read about that HERE – but on the same page you can also donate a few pounds for the crowdfunding of said prosecution – and I can’t think of a better way of donating the equivalent of an environment trashing plastic cup of tax-dodging coffee c/o Starbucks.

Briefings: Downing Street’s proposed daily briefings will be only televised ‘on merit’ warns the BBC and Sky News in what appears to be a snub to Boris Johnson. Neither broadcaster will air government briefings if they are little more than press releases by a government who clearly does want to do them live – as the questions from journalists tend to be a bit hard (believe it or not). In the meantime, the government has not found its publicity presenter even though a salary of £100,000 in on the table (source).

Cummings Failure: ‘Dom’ has been pulling the strings of those at the top for a few years. Read this article (HERE) to see what awful things this man believes in – including rantings about genetics outweighing teaching at schools, eugenic theory and all manner of conspiratorial nonsense. For balance, let’s not forget that Gove, assisted by Cummings made a total hash of education in the four years Gove was education minister. So bad, in fact, that the mass rollout of acadamies has been described as ‘a total failure’ (source), a disaster (source), was driving the programme for the purposes of ‘corporate greed (source) and an educational disaster (source). The one success they have both had – was conning the general public that it would work – oh and doing the same with leaving the EU (source).

Russia Report – The petition to have the Russia Report published reached well over the 100,000 signature threshold to be debated and although redacted, parts of the report were published, the petitions committee has refused to debate it further using Covid and social distancing as cover. However, the government has refused to act on any of its recommendations and therefore another petition has kicked off in response. “Order an official probe into potential Russian interference in the EU referendum” which if you happen to be interested is here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/332293

 



 

Inside Brexit

Propaganda: Speaking to the Financial Times, Julian Jessop – fellow at the think-tank the Institute of Economic Affairs that so heavily pushed for a hard Brexit (that also got caught flogging access for US lobbyists to Brexit negotiating MP’s)  – said: “Any costs from a change in our relationship with the EU are likely to be trivial compared to the swings in GDP due to coronavirus, as well as potentially being smaller during the crisis than they would have been otherwise” (source). You’ll be hearing a lot of this in the coming months – that the C19 crisis will be massively more expensive to the economy than Brexit. It will in the short run but not in the long run, as Brexit has already been calculated by the government itself to cost significantly more over 15 years. What the IEA is pushing is yet more propaganda to save the ideology of Brexit.

Leaked: Border trade plans for 1 January are ‘unmanageable’, a leaked government document admits. A memo warns of ‘critical gaps’ in new IT systems – with just four months to go to the end of the transition (source). In addition, the government has just changed the law to grant emergency planning permission for it to build “temporary” [for up to 5 years] no trade deal Brexit lorry parks in no less 29 council areas. It cites no space for infrastructure and is urgently needed by year-end. If you think that the pandemic was badly managed – Brexit and all of its complexities will be a real problem (source)

What Brexit?: The Institute for Government made this statement two weeks ago – “The government will not be able to conclude a large number of trade agreements at speed and maintain its much-prized regulatory autonomy after Brexit.” The report says prospective trading partners are likely to tell the UK to change its standards (downwards) if it wants a trade deal. “The importance of trade deals as a ‘prize of Brexit’ makes the UK particularly vulnerable to such pressure. But even though it is now negotiating four new trade agreements and 18 ‘rollovers’ of existing EU deals (not to mention a comprehensive agreement with the EU itself), the government still lacks a firmly agreed position on many of the issues it will face.” In other words – the Brexiteers still don’t know what Brexit is with 17 weeks to go – tick, tock… (READ MORE).

Standing alone: It is a matter of fact that Britain could soon end up with a no-deal Brexit on January 1st. If that happens, the UK will stand alone as the only country in the world that has no trade deal with its nearest neighbours, excepting the odd failed state here and there of course (source). The UK is unable to make a trade deal with the three biggest trading economies in the world namely the EU, China and USA because they have different trading standards. So, you have to pick one if you want to trade. The EU is by far the easiest, its the biggest and we’re already in it. When the difficulties of a no-deal Brexit become apparent (source), the rejoin movement will have all the evidence they need to crush the Brexit movement – but the EU will not consider re-entry for decades. Where does that leave Britain – except more divided and isolated.

Doomed: If a “typical” free trade agreement is struck with Brussels, the Office for Budget Responsibility predicted a 5.2 per cent loss of potential GDP over the next 15 years after Brexit. This is in addition to the already lost 2 per cent of output since the 2016 referendum. The OBR added that higher trade barriers would mean imports and exports will be roughly 15 per cent lower after ten years, while overall productivity – already a problem in the UK – would also be lower. A study by the United Nations earlier this year predicted that, without a trade deal, the UK’s post-Brexit exports could decline by an eye-watering 14 per cent (source). All that – without Covid-19 factored in.

Hypocrite: Billionaire Brexiteer Jim Ratcliffe – the boss of Ineos Automotive – is now considering scrapping plans to build a car plant in Wales, and is reportedly looking to buy a factory in France instead. Ratcliffe, who moved to Monaco last year, presumably to escape Brexit Britain, said: “we have an obligation to do what is right for the business.” Wait, what – I hear you say. Carwyn Jones, the former Welsh first minister who represents Bridgend, rightly suggested that “Brexit-backing businesses held extra responsibility to invest in the UK” and not dash off to better and bigger markets across the channel (source).

 



 

Inside the Economy

Bank of England: Earlier this month the Bank of England, notorious for getting economic predictions wrong, predicted a quick recovery from the Covid crisis which would see the economy recover its 2019 size by the end of next year in a ‘V’ shaped rebound. Its new boss, Andy Haldane is obviously still living in a completely alternative world on this one. HSBC is one of a string of big players in the world of money who say that the recovery will take at least two years – and they are being optimistic. Even the OBR predicts a recovery to 2019 levels at the end of 2022 at the earliest and the EY Club predicts it will take until 2024. None of their reports includes the word ‘Brexit’ and the additional toll it is expected to take on the economy. Perhaps putting people in charge of the BoE who are not snorting the white stuff and parroting nonsense from No10 comms dept of propaganda would be more helpful in a time of crisis (READ MORE).

BINGO! England was one of the first countries to nationalize and regulate the gambling industry, which has been in rude health since way back in the 15th century. The UK’s gross gambling yield – the amount of money operators keep after paying out winnings – was about £14.4 billion in 2018 (source). Compared to other types of gambling in the UK, bingo is the fourth most profitable. As for the UK economy, Bingo generated about £1 billion in revenue for the treasury in 2018-2019. This can certainly be classified as a significant contribution, larger than Spotify and Netflix combined (source).

Home Working: The UK economy could lose almost half a trillion pounds of output if workers fail to return to their offices, a study estimates. Douglas McWilliams, a former chief economic adviser to the Confederation of British Industry, has warned the economy will not return to its pre-pandemic size until 2025 if home working continues in its current form, which would add up to at least £480bn in lost activity (source). Now add that to the expected recession (the worst on record) that doesn’t include these numbers – and Brexit (at least 5.6 per cent of GDP). Now breeeeeeath. A very, very deep recession is going to hit quite soon.

Trend Tracking: Tracking the latest trends via mobile data gives some really interesting insights into how we perceived the world before and after the pandemic. Online banking and financial technology (FinTech) has rocketed. So has online dating, education, health and fitness and online pharmacy. MoEngage has produced an interesting report on global mobile consumer trends. Scroll down to see the latest trends in different regions across the world, including Europe (READ MORE).

Banking: Several of the UK’s biggest banks are converting underused parts of their high street branches into office space as an alternative to bringing staff back to larger buildings and high-rise headquarters. Virgin Money and Metro Bank have already drawn up plans to add new facilities for flexible working in branches. Lloyds Banking Group, which has the UK’s largest branch network, will start testing a similar policy from October. The moves are part of efforts by banks to adapt to the long-term impact of Covid-19, as it becomes clear that large central offices are unlikely to be able to accommodate the same numbers as they did pre-pandemic for some time. Although most expect a permanent increase in homeworking, executives are also concerned about providing facilities for staff who struggle to work from home, and for internal and external meetings (source).

 



 

Inside the Media

Cronies: More Boris Johnson cronies are being appointed into key roles that sees the power grab continue. This authoritarian programme is designed to undermine the institutions that support civil society and swing the narrative in their favour. For instance, the BBC’s new director-general Tim Davie is hardly impartial having been a former Conservative candidate and deputy chairman of the Hammersmith and Fulham Conservative party (source). On his first week in the job, he announces that he will ‘tackle left-wing comedy bias’.

Order-Order: The online scandal and slander sheet Guido Fawkes, ranked as verging on ‘extreme’ right-wing bias is pushing for Extinction Rebellion to be classed as a terrorist group presumably so its organisers can be arrested and thrown into Belmarsh for life. One of its latest tirades spews out that ER – “has repeatedly ripped up, defaced, and smashed private property, famously blocked access routes to hospitals, and are now suspected of attempting cyber attacks. These illegal actions and threats of actions are made with the express purpose of influencing the government and advancing a political and ideological cause. If that doesn’t fit the Government’s definition of terrorism, Gaia doesn’t know what would.” (source) Guido & Co should perhaps not forget that the man they so revere and named themselves after, was himself executed by the state for terrorism – and that the Guido website has no other purpose than to influence the government and advancing its political and ideological cause. It does this by using inflammatory language described by some as a ‘propaganda machine’ (source). The website owner Paul Staines is a rampant climate science denier, which would explain his call for XR to be proscribed (source).  Staines is also on record as having said – “I’m not that keen on democracy” – that the Labour party is “a creed of evil” and that all politicians are “fxcking thieving cxnts”  (source) – whilst being a staunch supporter of none other than … Boris Johnson.

Tribal: It was tribal behaviour on social media that widened the gulf between Remain and Leave voters in the United Kingdom’s debate whether to leave the European Union, which re-aligned the UK’s political landscape and made people increasingly susceptible to disinformation campaigns, new research from the University of Bath shows (READ MORE).

Busted: The UK’s fourth-biggest local newspaper publisher Archant has been bought out by a private equity firm in a deal which leaves shareholders wiped-out. Archant is putting forward proposals for a Company Voluntary Arrangement which will see the company’s creditors – including HMRC and its bank – receive only a portion of what they are owed. The company’s pension scheme, which is believed to have a deficit of around £50m, will be taken over by the government’s Pension Protection Fund (source).

Parody Headline Generator: The publisher of The Guardian has taken legal action to shut down a parody headline generator which it claims has infringed its copyright by using photographs of its journalists and contributors. Imitation headlines parodying the Guardian’s online op-eds with real author byline pictures were shared on social media in December alongside the hashtag #trollingtheguardian, which trended on Twitter. Guardian News and Media has now issued a takedown notice through solicitors Bristows LLP to the web hosting provider for the guardianmeme.com website, which produced the headlines (source).

Facebook – is a major threat to public health. This is the conclusion to a wide-ranging investigation that uncovers health misinformation spreading networks with an estimated 3.8 billion views in the last year. The report also found some interesting statistics like – “Content from the top 10 websites spreading health misinformation had almost four times as many estimated views on Facebook as equivalent content from the websites of 10 leading health institutions” (READ MORE).

 



 

Covid-19

Inflating the numbers: Australian and UK-based accounts on Facebook and Twitter have been sharing posts inflating the size of last weekend’s anti-lockdown protests in Berlin and London. Anti-vaccine and leading fringe groups shared old images depicting police, crowds and a parade dating back to 2018, 2016 and 1997. Sometimes these examples were accompanied by false claims about the number of attendees, estimated by news reports to be 38,000, with one Australian anti-lockdown organizer suggesting that 5 million attended the Berlin protest (source). In a similar vein, images of Liverpool’s 2005 Champions League win were being circulated on social media (source) accompanied by the false claim that they depicted a protest in London’s Trafalgar Square on Saturday, with one post attracting nearly 2,000 interactions before Twitter suspended the account, These tactics have been consistently employed by accounts and groups opposed to lockdown measures and other responses to the pandemic in a bid to portray widespread support for their cause or claims.

US children: Read this with caution as any data coming out of the US relating to Covid could be politically driven. However, in a report published by the American Academy of Paediatrics at the beginning of this week, the US has disclosed a huge rise in coronavirus cases among children. And if the numbers are true, even more worryingly, the number of hospitalisations and deaths among children has risen far faster than among the general population. Hopefully, this is not replicated anywhere else in the world as children head back to the classrooms (READ MORE).

Infodemic: This article applies to the UK given that the current government is changing the face of its communications with the public and taking liberties with the media. The misinformation and disinformation during the coronavirus pandemic has provided an excuse for governments around the world to increase censorship and surveillance, writes Justin Sherman for WIRED. As the so-called “infodemic” raged across the globe, both autocracies and democracies used it to “suppress the spread of coronavirus information within their borders.” This all comes as freedom of the media was already under threat globally, making what was a desperate outlook for free speech globally even bleaker (READ MORE).

Watch France: The number of people catching Covid-19 is about to rise rapidly, and many will be hospitalised – according to Dr Hilary Jones. He was speaking on Good Morning Britain as he gave a warning about what to expect from coronavirus in the UK in the next few days. Dr Jones says the UK has followed the pattern of the outbreak in France since the start of the pandemic – generally being two weeks behind what is happening across the Channel. France has seen a rapid rise in the number of people contracting Covid-19, and the number of people getting so seriously ill they were taken to hospital (source).

 



 

Could It Get Any Worse …

Accused Rape MP: The new Speaker of the House of Commons has instructed Members of Parliament NOT to use their Parliamentary Privilege to mention the name of the MP arrested for serious sexual offences on 1st August and is on police bail. There is a problem here. ‘Released under investigation’ can and regularly does take years for prosecutions to take place (source). The Police and Crime Act 2017 was passed and brought with it a package of reforms to the treatment of suspects released pre-charge. In principle this would protect their civil liberties while removing some operational pressure from the police. The reality is – it could take years for a prosecution to become public knowledge (READ MORE).

Now Bow Down: You won’t read this in the British mainstream media, so here it is from Fox News – Prince Andrew is expected to still receive the honour of having his birthday commemorated with the ringing of the bells at Westminster Abbey despite his scandal with late convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein. The church has recently released its official bell-ringing schedule, which showed that the Duke of York’s birthday on Feb. 19, 2021, will be honoured. One wonders why the Church would sympathise with someone accused of sex with a minor! (READ MORE).

Extrajudicial killings: Extrajudicial state-sponsored killings are against every international law known to mankind with the exception of failed states. However, Britain’s MI6 plays a key role in identifying suspects for a ‘kill or capture’ list. Covert Kenyan paramilitary teams are armed and trained by the US and supported by UK intelligence that is behind a programme of rendition and controversial killings of terror suspects in night-time raids. Kenya is a fully signed up member of the United Nations (READ MORE).

The Proms false flag: The Proms fiasco had nothing to do with Black Lives Matter or ‘wokeism’, it was a story entirely engineered by the right-wing media – and just about everyone fell for it. James O’Brien flagged the early warning signs on Sunday morning – just four hours after the Sunday Times had shared its ‘Black Lives Matter Proms’ expose on social media. Here is the timeline of what happened (READ MORE).

 



 

Fact File

  • Self-employed people are among the most likely to be in the 20% of Brits who are financially struggling as a result of the lockdown. Four in five recruitment firms are forecasting an income drop of 15-30% over the year (source).
  • The UK’s largest auction house network says its had its busiest month in 52 years selling goods from UK businesses that have gone bankrupt during the Covid-19 lockdown (source)
  • The Great Reset: How New Ways of Living and Working Drive Post-Crash Prosperity is a book published in April 2010 by Richard Florida, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. You’ll be hearing a lot more about this in the near future, that has now been adopted by the IMF and World Economic Forum and just about all the big power players in the Western world. The first version is HERE. The latest version by the WEF is HERE.
  • House prices continued their post-lockdown recovery in August, notching up their highest monthly rise in more than 16 years, says the Nationwide Building Society (source).
  • Share prices in the UK’s FTSE100 are collectively the same today as they were on February 3rd 2016
  • Thieves are making a fortune from stealing used cardboard that’s been left out to be recycled and selling it on. This means that legitimate recycling firms, and the city and other local authorities who take a cut from their sales, are missing out on tens of millions (source).
  • Gatwick airport says passenger numbers fell by 14.7 million, or two-thirds, in the first half of the year as air travel collapsed amid the pandemic.
  • Several of the UK’s biggest banks are converting underused parts of their high street branches into office space as an alternative to bringing staff back to larger buildings and high-rise headquarters during the pandemic (source).

 

Tech File

  • Japan’s SkyDrive Inc., among the myriads of “flying car” projects around the world, has carried out a successful though modest test flight with one person aboard – and it’s the coolest thing ever (READ MORE)
  • CEO Elon Musk solved a mystery involving a 27-year-old Russian, an insider at an unnamed corporation and an alleged million-dollar payment offered to help trigger a ransomware extortion attack on his company Tesla (READ MORE).
  • Read about new technologies including a cellphone power source that lasts nine years, an auto-battery pack that lasts nearly a century and a pacemaker that is powered to last 28,000 years (READ MORE).
  • Can’t be away from your phone? Study finds the link to higher levels of obsession-compulsion. Feelings of panic when a person is away from their smartphone could be connected to general feelings of inadequacy and inferiority, a new study of young people in Portugal suggests (READ MORE).
  • The Brussels’ government has in past years blocked a large-scale rollout of 5G networks, citing health concerns among its citizens and maintains it must have a wider debate with its citizens first (READ MORE).
  • In a landmark study, scientists using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have mapped the immense envelope of gas, called a halo, surrounding the Andromeda galaxy, our nearest large galactic neighbor. Scientists were surprised to find that this tenuous, nearly invisible halo of diffuse plasma extends 1.3 million light-years from the galaxy—about halfway to our Milky Way—and as far as 2 million light-years in some directions. This means that Andromeda’s halo is already bumping into the halo of our own galaxy (READ MORE).

 



 

Quotes of the Week

  • “Mark Zuckerberg has raked in $40,800,000,000 since the pandemic began. That’s 136 times the $300 million donation he hopes will distract us from all the ways he’s allowed fascism and misinformation to erode our democracy. Billionaire philanthropy won’t save us. Tax the rich” (source). Former US Sec of Labour and Berkeley Professor Robert Reich.
  • “Today in 1666 the Lord Mayor of London was alerted about the spread of a terrible fire. He returned to bed, apparently dismissing it as so small that ‘a woman might piss it out.'” (source) Dan Snow making a reference to Boris Johnson’s initial actions of the Covid-19 crisis.
  • Comedy is the powerless mocking the powerful. Comics punch up, never down. Punching down is bullying. That’s why comedy is, almost exclusively, opposed to the values of the right: dominance, control, the interests of the wealthy. A policy can’t change that. Mad to even try.” (source). British political commentator criticising the BBC’s new boss who intends to curb left-wing political bias in comedy.

 



 

Recommended Reading

Making Labour Winnable: An interesting piece by Charlie Cooper about how Keir Starmer plans to make Labour great again. And with huge gains made in voter polls, the strategy is working. Interestingly, the article also shows that this strategy has to take on some really big challenges such as conflict with Corbyn supporters on the left and Brexit where many Labour supporters sided with Boris Johson in the so-called ‘red-wall (READ MORE).

Why an ID? This is related to the editors’ ‘poke’ this week. Palantir is a special ops company. It is considered at best as a controversial and highly opaque company that has long sought to sell governments an unmatched power to sift and exploit information of any kind for any purpose. Its billionaire owner Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal, through Palantir has worked for years to boost the global dragnet of the NSA and its international partners such as MI5 and was in fact co-created with American spies. This company now has total access to all NHS health records – why? (READ MORE).

Facebook Again and Again: Far from being ‘social’ media – Facebook has been caught colluding with governments. One assumes it is more profitable to do so, especially given that a hostile government could ban, tax or restrict its services. Facebook was deeply involved in the illegal selling of private data that ended up being involved in the Brexit scandal. Here, Facebook is accused of putting its relationship with another government ahead of its stated mission of removing hate speech from its platform—especially when ruling-party politicians are involved. One report states that in India, Modi won the election because of the way he leveraged Facebook in his campaign. This is an interesting read by TIME when you reflect on the power that the social media giant has now amassed around the world (READ MORE)

The Gods of America: American constitutional attorney John W Whitehead, the man who sued President Clinton over the Paula Jones sexual harassment case, sends out an election warning notice. “And so it begins again, the never-ending, semi-delusional, train-wreck of an election cycle in which the American people allow themselves to get worked up into a frenzy over the misguided belief that the future of this nation—nay, our very lives—depends on who we elect as president.” Whitehead says the system is rigged and that the people have got to stop treating the president like a god and start making both the office of the president and the occupant play by the rules of the Constitution (READ MORE).

 



 

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