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.

Your right to your life, yes, and then there’s murder

In the latest controversial incident the unnamed woman, who was over 80, reportedly suffered from dementia and had earlier expressed a desire for euthanasia when she deemed that ‘the time was right’.

As her situation deteriorated, it became difficult for her husband to care for her, and she was placed in a nursing home.
Medical paperwork showed that she often exhibited signs of fear and anger, and would wander around the building at nights. The nursing home senior doctor was of the opinion that she was suffering intolerably, but that she was no longer in a position where she could confirm that the time was now right for the euthanasia to go ahead.
However the doctor was of the opinion that the woman’s circumstances made it clear that the time was now right.
The doctor secretly placed a soporific in her coffee to calm her, and then had started to give her a lethal injection.
Yet while injecting the woman she woke up, and fought the doctor. The paperwork showed that the only way the doctor could complete the injection was by getting family members to help restrain her.
It also revealed that the patient said several times ‘I don’t want to die’ in the days before she was put to death, and that the doctor had not spoken to her about what was planned because she did not want to cause unnecessary extra distress. She also did not tell her about what was in her coffee as it was also likely to cause further disruptions to the planned euthanasia process.
The Review Committee concluded that the doctor ‘has crossed the line’ by giving her the first sleeping medicine, and also should have stopped when the woman resisted.
The paperwork and the recommendations of the committee are now being considered by prosecutors and health officials.
Kohnstamm said he was in favour of a trial: ‘Not to punish the doctor, who acted in good faith and did what she had to do, but to get judicial clarity over what powers a doctor has when it comes to the euthanasia of patients suffering from severe dementia.’

Isn’t “Did what she had to do” such a chilling phrase?

As to a trial, yes, and if the charge were murder I would vote to convict. For there is a line here, a slant on that slippery slope, where it does change.

Which is, of course, why I’ve been against stepping off the top of the hill in the first place.

Seriously, the “I want to be able to die when my time is right” has led to an elderly lady being held down so that she can be murdered by a doctor?


Look at these men. Look at them. Gathered around the most powerful man in the world – a man who has openly bragged of sexual assault, who refers to a vulva as a woman’s “wherever” – as he signs away the reproductive rights of women in developing countries. In reimposing the global gag rule, Donald Trump is removing US funding to any overseas organisation that offers abortions, even if the organisation provides those specific services with their own funds. It means that doctors, midwives, nurses and volunteers cannot so much as mention the word “abortion” to their patients and service users without risking the loss of the US funding they receive for services including the supply of contraceptives.

If there is a woman present in this room, as this executive order is being signed along with two others, she is not included in the shot. This photograph is what patriarchy looks like – a system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded. Nothing quite says powerlessness like the removal of your right to bodily autonomy, at the behest of a group of people who will never – can never – know what that feels like.

No one has changed anything at all about womens’ bodily autonomy. The only thing that has changed, and that in a minor manner, is whether the taxpayer gets dinged for you to exercise it or you’ve got to find some other source of funds to do so. Abortion, contraception, D&C, rug munching, bolts and piercings in unlikely (or perhaps today, likely) places and on and on and on are just as legal today as they were yesterday.

And here’s a general point about civil liberties R. Lucy. We are indeed supposed to be free to get on with life as we wish to get on with life. And with that comes the responsibility to both pay for that life ourselves and to take the consequences of how we live. Autonomy does not, whatever you think it does, mean that you’ve the right to what you want and also that someone else pay for it. That’s actually called dependency.

That Nigerian case against Shell

He was represented in court this week by the British firm Leigh Day, which argued that Shell should be liable for failing to protect its pipelines to prevent criminal damage.

As I understand it, peeps breach the pipelines to nick stuff, this causes pollution, that disease, and this is Shell’s fault.

Under English law? Rilly?

“It is a UK registered company and that is why we came to the High Court in London seeking justice….the legal system in Nigeria is highly corrupt and there is no way we could get justice [from a Nigerian court.]

“Even if you tried it could take twenty to thirty years. But we do not have that time as the situation is an emergency.”

Bit colonial, innit?

Presumably I’m the only one whose opinion is “Well dodgy” when I see Leigh Day is involved?

The Czechs do value their free speech

Just as they should of course. Just walking back from getting lunch (Kung Pao since you ask) And there was a demo going on. Perhaps a dozen people chanting something half heartedly in the snow as they walked through the middle of town.

One cop car in front of them, two behind plus a paddy wagon. Plus a couple of armed cops walking in front and behind them. The demonstrators outnumbered the cops, just.

This wasn’t to make sure that they didn’t break off to go beat up the Jews, Germans, Gypsies, Socialists, whoever the hell it was they were complaining about. Rather, the cops were there to ensure they could use their right to peaceful free speech uninterrupted.

I supposed when you were denied free speech for 51 years you become rather interested in making sure that it is a right that an be exercised.

Erm, hello?

Free speech has limits. You aren’t allowed to shout “fire” in a crowded theatre because someone’s probably going to get hurt. Your right to say what you like is trumped by your responsibility to stop me being trampled to death by a stampede of panicked theatre-goers. Death threats; rape threats; bomb threats; online abuse that drives someone to suicide – these are all things that free speech doesn’t cover – and which aren’t appropriate to defend in its name.

Erm, those things are indeed covered by free speech. Or at least should be. They might all be very bad things, they might even fall foul of other laws, but they are indeed things that people should be free to say–even if they then suffer the punishment of those other laws.

Watch for the outrage here

The 69-year-old, who campaigned to become Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner and vowed to support victims of domestic abuse, set out the 11 rules in a document, which was posted online after it was issued to a letting agent.

Single parents, workers on low income or zero hours contracts, families with children, pet owners, smokers and single adults will also not be considered. Only those who are able to afford rent and can provide a rent guarantee are to be accepted for his properties this year.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Mr Wilson, who works alongside his wife Judith, said the criteria, which he reissues every year, was “sensible” and the result of the “financial fine tuning of the business”.

He said he issued it to agents to predominantly ensure he didn’t waste the time or money of those who couldn’t get a rent guarantee for his properties because they did not earn enough.

“It is just economics,” he said. “I live in the big bad world of reality, if I do not let properties and do not get the rent then I do not eat, I starve to death… it is the Government’s job to help poor people.

Man rents his own property to whom he pleases. Complaints in 3…2…1..

Yes, there is a double standard at play here

Take Italy in 1948: as the cold war unfolded, the US feared that a socialist-communist coalition would triumph in Italian elections. It barred Italians who “did not believe in the ideology of the United States” from even entering the country; funded opposing parties via the CIA; orchestrated a massive propaganda campaign, including millions of letters from Americans of Italian origin; and made it quite clear, via the State Department, that there was “no further question of assistance from the United States” if the wrong people won. Its efforts were a success. This was the first of many Italian elections featuring US interference.

Take the CIA’s self-professed involvement in the military coup that overthrew democratically elected secular Iranian president Mohammad Mosaddeq in 1953: it was “carried out under CIA direction as an act of US foreign policy, conceived and approved at the highest levels of government”, as the agency later confessed. The nature of the 1979 Iranian revolution cannot be understood without it. Or what of CIA backing for Augusto Pinochet’s murderous overthrow of Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973?

There are more recent examples too. Take the military overthrow of Honduras’ Manuel Zelaya in 2009. The then secretary of state – a certain Hillary Clinton – refused to describe the toppling of Zelaya as a “military coup”, which would have required the suspension of US aid, including to the armed forces. Rather than call for Zelaya’s reinstatement, Clinton called for new elections. US assistance – including military aid – continued as dissidents were treated brutally; as death squads re-emerged; as violence against LGBT people surged; and as widely boycotted unfair elections took place.

Allegations of Russian interference in the US elections are undoubtedly alarming, but there’s a double standard at play.

We seem to have missed the Soviets sending in the tanks in 1953 in Berlin, in 1956 in Budapest, in 1968 in Czechoslovakia, the pressures in 1981 in Poland….

Owen Jones does seem to be operating to a double standard, doesn’t he?

As well as missing that that Honduran bloke was dumped entirely according to the local constitution on the grounds that he tried to change said constitution so that he could run for another term.