The idiot’s idea of a clever man

Stephen Fry has called for Facebook and other “aggregating news agencies” to be reclassified as publishers in order to stop fake news and online abuse spreading by making social media subject to the same legal responsibilities as traditional news websites.

Outlining his “reformation” for the internet, as part of the Hay literary festival’s programme to mark the quincentenary of Martin Luther’s Ninety-five Theses in 1517, Fry accused social media platforms of refusing to “take responsibility for those dangerous, defamatory, inflammatory and fake items whose effects will have legal consequences for traditional printed or broadcast media, but which they can escape”.

“One thesis I could immediately nail up to the tent flag is to call for aggregating news agencies like Facebook to be immediately classified as publishers. At the moment, they are evading responsibility for their content as they can claim to be platforms, rather than publishers. Given that they are now a major source of news for 80% of the population, that is clearly an absurd anomaly,” he said.

“If they, and Twitter and like platforms recognised their responsibilities as publishers, it would certainly help them better police their content for unacceptable libels, defamations, threats and other horrors, that a free belief in the value of the press would, as a matter of course, be expected to control.”

If they do that this means that they have to edit what is said.

And all that will happen is that people who want to say things which are edited out will move to another platform.

It’ll just be an endless game of whack a mole.

Hate crimes in Manchester rise to fewer than toll of dead and injured

This evening it emerged that hate crime in Manchester has doubled since the terror attack which killed 22 people on Monday.
Greater Manchester Police bosses said the number of reports had risen from 28 to 56 since Salman Abedi set off a nail bomb at Manchester Arena.
Chief Inspector Ian Hopkins called for the city to stand up against hate and ensure any incidents are quickly reported to the police.
He said: ‘Manchester has come together this week but it is important we continue to stand together here in Greater Manchester against the hate-filled views we have seen from small minorities of the community.
‘We had 28 reports of hate crime on Monday, which is the average, but it rose to 56 reports on Wednesday, although we cannot directly link that to the attack.

22 dead, plus one suicided bomber, and 120 injured.


5,000 troops on the streets?

All a bit security theatre isn’t it?

When do we get the TSA prodding our bollocks as we enter a concert hall?

As I’ve noted before I’m not all that worried about terrorist nutters killing some few of us. Yes, easy to say as it’s not me howling at the skies in rage at the theft of my children.

But what do we want, 65 million subject to pass laws and id cards and communications interception and the state, that Courageous State, still failing to protect us or the sacrifice of handfuls of us over time on that altar of secular freedom?

I’ve always worried much more about what government might do to us to stop the bearded nutters than I have about the nutters themselves.

Not being a brave man I’ll not try asking those whose faces are still shining from the tracks of their tears. But I will ask you.

The Czechs have this free speech thing right

This is the moment a brave 16-year-old Girl Scout stood up against a Neo-Nazi demonstrator at a rally in the Czech Republic.
Lucie Myslíková, from the city of Brno, attended a march in the city on May Day along with eight of her fellow Girl Scouts with the aim of walking alongside far-right demonstrators to try and drown out their message.
At one point she was approached by a shaved-headed man before getting into what she called a ‘sharp talk’ about national identity, immigration and refugees.

This is normal on May Day. In Usti nad Labem they always get the remnants of the Sudeten Deutchland Party (or whatever they call themselves) coming down from Dresden. All 15 of them.

The teen and her friends joined several hundred protesters during the counter-demonstration, with local reports suggesting they vastly outnumbered the right-wing marchers.
Activists were told not to block the marches, but to walk alongside them singing, dancing and playing instruments in order to drown them out.

Yep, no one even dreams of trying to stop them marching. Ach, Jo, it’s free speech innit? You have an absolute right to march. As do we and those massive numbers of police over there are to make sure that everyone does get to march.

At which point they’ve got it absolutely right and correct. They don’t have to agree with the speech of others, don’t have to approve of it but they’ve most certainly got to tolerate it. Which they do.


The collapse of a corruption case

Their confidence was misplaced. In January 2015, Mr Justice Nicholas Blake, sitting in the Old Bailey, rejected the SFO’s argument. “The case remains a matter of conjecture and suspicion,” he wrote in his judgment. To confiscate assets, prosecutors have to prove that the frozen money related to a specific crime and, he ruled, the SFO had totally failed to do so.

Well, yes, that’s sorta the standard thing isn’t it? We’ve not got a crime called “being a bad ‘un” and we should all be most grateful that we don’t.

Erm, Yvette, free speech luv, free speech

MPs condemned Google for not taking down a video by a former Ku Klux Klan leader which accused Jews of masterminding the genocide of white people because it did not breach its guidelines.

He’s a ghastly thug to be sure but that free speech stuff does still apply to him.

And she expressed disbelief when Google’s vice-president said the recording posted by David Duke, a notorious Holocaust denier, did not “breach our guidelines”.

The recording, broadcast on YouTube, accuses “Zionists” of having “ethnically cleansed the Palestinians” and planning to do “the same thing to Europeans and Americans”.

Ms Cooper told Google’s Peter Barron: “You allow David Duke to upload an entire video which is all about malicious and hateful comments about Jewish people. How on earth is that not a breach of your own guidelines? I think most people would be appalled by that video and think it goes against all standards of public decency in this country.”

He’s allowed to breach public decency sweetie. What he’s not allowed to do is break the law.

She said: “We understand the challenges you face … but you all have millions of users in the UK and you make billions of pounds from these users.

“You all have a terrible reputation among users for dealing swiftly with problems in content even against your own community standards.

“Surely when you manage to have such a good reputation with advertisers for targeting content and for doing all kinds of sophisticated things with your platforms, surely you should be able to do a better job in order to be able to keep your users safe online and deal with this kind of hate speech.”

Clearly that sort of hate speech isn’t illegal for no one’s prosecuting Duke, are they?

Twitter suspended three accounts that were highlighted to it by MPs but one, which included a tweet with a hashtag “deport all Muslims”, remained.

Nick Pickles, from the microblogging site, said that while it was “highly offensive” the tweet did not breach its rules around hateful conduct.

Quite so….

Err, yes, and?

WikiLeaks has published thousands of documents claiming to reveal top CIA hacking secrets, including the agency’s ability to infiltrate encrypted apps like Whatsapp, break into smart TVs and phones and program self-driving cars.
WikiLeaks said the files released on Tuesday – mysteriously dubbed ‘ Vault 7’ – are the most comprehensive release of U.S. spying files ever made public.
The leak purportedly includes 8,761 documents and files from an isolated, high-security network situated inside the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virgina.

It details intelligence information on CIA-developed software intended to hack iPhones, Android phones, smart TVs and Microsoft, Mac and Linux operating systems.
WikiLeaks alleges that some of the remote hacking programs can turn these electronic devices into recording and transmitting stations to spy on their targets.
It also claims the CIA can bypass the encryption of Whatsapp, Signal, Telegram, Wiebo, Confide and Cloakman by hacking the smart phones the applications run on.

Who didn’t think they were doing this? And the NSA, the FSB, MI6, GCHQ, whatever the Frog spiers call themselves and so on around the world?

That’s what spies do, spy. That’s actually why we have them. And of course, in order to be able to spy on the bad guys, the reason we pay them in the first place, they need to develop the tools that could be used to spy upon all of us.

Shrug, it has always been possible for a spy agency to devote its utmost resources against any one of us and fit us up whatever the hell it is we do. The electronic world hasn’t changed that in the slightest.

Something of a shitstorm coming

ABritish Islamic State fighter who carried out a suicide bombing in Iraq this week is a former Guantanamo Bay detainee who was paid £1 million compensation by the government.

Jamal al-Harith, a Muslim convert born Ronald Fiddler who detonated a car bomb at an Iraqi army base near Mosul, was released from the US detention camp in 2004 and successfully claimed compensation after saying British agents knew or were complicit in his mistreatment.

He was freed following intense lobbying by Tony Blair’s Labour government.

Still shouldn’t lock people up without convicting them of something…..

Yes, yes it does

Why does the £5 note debate matter? Because it’s state power v minorities
Chas Newkey-Burden
The Bank keeping tallow, or beef fat, in the new fiver sends a message to vegans, as well as Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, that our values don’t matter

It says exactly that, your values do not matter to the rest of us.

Because that’s the way that a liberal polity works. We have to tolerate your nostrums, as you must tolerate ours. But we do not have to respect them, accord with them nor even organise society so as to make it easy for you to keep to them. Sure, on the no skin off my nose principle we’ll not deliberately make it difficult for you to keep to your desires. But equally we’re not going to bend over backwards to accommodate each and every view of the universe.

Tallow is near universally used in plastics. Including those plastic shoes you’re wearing in place of leather ones. Tough titty frankly. You’re right, your values aren’t important enough to us for us to try to find a substitute for half a cow’s worth of tallow in the nation’s banknotes.

Tant pis, eh?

Not quite sure you’ve got this matey

Amazon and Apple are profiting from an anti-vaccination documentary directed by the discredited former doctor Andrew Wakefield.

The film, which backs his fraudulent research linking vaccines with autism, is available for customers to watch for 99p on Amazon Instant Video and £6.99 on Apple’s iTunes. On Vimeo, a popular YouTube-style streaming service, it costs £3.17.

Scientists and autism campaigners urged the web companies to remove the film Vaxxed after The Times discovered that it had been put on sale in Britain this week.

Edzard Ernst, professor emeritus of complementary medicine at Exeter university, said: “Any company or person trying to make money by alarming people and thus endangering public health is not just unethical and immoral but also despicable and irresponsible.

“Wakefield’s data has been shown to be wrong. That he still insists on discouraging people from getting vaccinated is disturbing and a risk to public health. I just hope that the British public recognises a charlatan when they see one.”

Wakefield is indeed wrong, he’s even dangerous. And yet he still enjoys the same free speech rights as the rest of us.

Those rights don’t include forcing someone to sell his film, entirely true, but insisting that they don’t sell his film because you don’t like the content is pretty limiting, isn’t it?

Called free speech honey

Books why deny the Holocaust are available on Amazon:

Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said Amazon’s decision to promote Holocaust deniers on the platform was “shocking and wrong”.

“The Holocaust was one of the most well documented and researched periods in history, yet even in 2017, over 70 years later, there are still those who deliberately deny, denigrate and belittle the memory of the Holocaust,” she said.

“Holocaust denial is highly offensive and the intent is anti-semitism, pure and simple. To have this offensive material widely accessible via any retailer is shocking and wrong.”

See headline.

This goes from reasonable to absurd

In its annual audit of the far right, Hope not Hate, the UK’s largest anti-racism and anti-extremism movement, said that although conventional far right groups such as the English Defence League continue to fracture, new forces have surfaced that can reach a vast international audience and bolster support for the “alt-right”, which is defined as the far right with a fringe “white nationalist element” that opposes multiculturalism and defends “western values”.

There’s something of a difference between calling for Jews to be reintroduced to gas ovens and wondering whether the vibrancy offered in Rotherham to the young girls in council care is a good idea.

But apparently all are the same now.

An example of these activities is provided by London-based Paul Watson, described as “editor, staff writer” for the conspiracy website InfoWars – whose most popular article on Friday morning was headlined: “Trump destroys leftist judges.” Watson, who has 483,000 Twitter followers and 764,872 subscribers on YouTube, is named as a central disseminator of the conspiracy theory concerning Hillary Clinton having debilitating health issues in the runup to the US election, including the “Is Hillary Dying?” hoax.

I’ve no idea about this bloke and maybe he is one to stoke up the ovens. But given that Hillary did in fact publicly collapse from “pneumonia” it’s hardly either Alt Right or Ctrl Left to question her physical fitness now, is it?

By the way, the answer to the dying question is “Yes.” As with all of us, one day at a time.

During a series of unashamedly conspiratorial videos that were viewed millions of times, Watson, originally from Sheffield, suggested Clinton might have had syphilis, brain damage and Parkinson’s disease as well as alleging she was a drug abuser.

Syphilis, in these days of antibiotics, is most unlikely. But we do in fact know that she has brain damage–that knock on the head did indeed produce a blood blockage. Now you might not want to term that brain damage but it is, in a strict sense, exactly that. And Parkinsons is a possibility although there’s vanishingly little proof.

But the important point here is that sure, there really are vile people out there with some horrible views. Asking whether Hills is ill doesn’t make you one of them nor is it a vile view to hold.

Another Briton said to have had an influential intervention in the US elections is 52-year-old Jim Dowson, a Scottish Calvinist who founded the far right, anti-Muslim party Britain First. Dowson, from a hub in Hungary, set up a network of US-focused websites and Facebook groups with the intention of promoting Trump and denigrating his rival during the US election.

Dowson’s websites include Patriot News Agency – whose postings have been viewed and shared tens of thousands of times in the US – and whose articles on Friday include a critique of a new Netflix series which it accused of stoking anti-white racism. An investigation by the New York Times in December claimed that although a sizeable volume of US election fake news emanated from central and Eastern Europe, Dowson’s operation was the only obviously politically inspired intervention.

Horrors, eh? Free speech rights being exercised by the wrong person.

And then the reveal. Of course, the obvious dividing line between these behaviours has to be blurred so that they can get Milo and Steve Bannon into he evil stoke the ovens grouping.

Sorry to have to tell he Hope not Hate folks this but simply disagreeing with you is not evidence of anything other than simply disagreeing with you on the design of The Good Society. Shouting Heil Trump and listening to David Irving respectfully are good evidence of idiocy if nothing else but really, you’re doing your whole cause a disservice by equating this with sneering at Hills.

Small towns are different

The mayor of a town in a conservative area of Texas has become the first openly transgender official in the state.

Been taking hormones for two years or so, maybe three according to the story.

With a population of 670, New Hope is a small town in Collin County, which is considered one of the most conservative suburban areas in Texas.

And as with small towns everywhere, where everyone does know everyone else, private reactions will range from shrugs to disgust to bewilderment and the public ones centering on “Wayull, that’s just Jess, y’know?”

I find this rather interesting

A transgender woman has been denied direct contact with her five children on the basis they would be shunned by their ultra-Orthodox Jewish community if she were allowed to meet them.

The woman will be allowed only to send letters to her children, after a judge concluded there was a real chance of “the children and their mother being marginalised or excluded by the ultra-Orthodox community” if face-to-face contact were permitted.

Because the more you read about it the more, from the Orthodox side, it seems to be about separation and possible divorce than it is about transgenderism.

So, now we know

A 27-year-old university student has been charged with six counts of first-degree murder over a shooting at a Québec City mosque during evening prayers, in what the Canadian prime minister described as an act of terror.

Alexandre Bissonnette, a student in the social sciences faculty at Laval University, also faces five charges of attempted murder.

Bissonnette did not enter a plea during a brief court appearance late on Monday. Wearing a white prisoner jump suit, his hands and feet shackled, he stared down at the floor and fidgeted, but remained silent.

A local group dedicated to welcoming refugees, Bienvenu aux réfugiés, said Bissonnette’s name was familiar to them, describing him as an online troll who had denigrated refugees and expressed support for Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right Front National.

Or at least now we allegedly know.

Hmm, so who did it?

That Quebec mosque attack. No one really knows who the two under arrest are. Well, obviously they do and the police might well also. There are reports of white extremists, others of Arab or Moroccan backgrounds for at least one of them.

Going to be interesting to find out. And to see who has leapt to which prejudice before knowing, too.