What a great complaint here

Car manufacturers are cashing in on a diesel price scare by launching scrappage schemes for drivers of polluting cars who agree to buy brand new “greener” versions.

It comes after the Government threatened to develop a diesel scrappage scheme but failed to follow it through.

Now manufacturers including BMW and Ford are taking matters into their own hands with their own pollution-reducing trade-in schemes.

Both have said they will give drivers of pre-2009 diesel vehicles a £2,000 discount if they trade it in and by a new car.

Last night experts said that although the moves would go some way towards reducing air pollution they were also designed to boost sales of new cars, as discounts are not offered on used models.

Manufacturers are cashing in, eh? Facepalm.

As to the used car thing. Anyone noted that the manufacturers don’t actually own used cars therefore don’t control their price?

Ain’t this great?

A swift social media response to the images out of Charlottesville was #thisisnotus. Oh yes it is. America’s original sin is racism. For black people need look no further than slavery, to Jim Crow laws, to segregation, to today’s not-so-invisible hands guiding housing and education policy, the wage gap, health disparities, how banks give loans. One could also add police brutality, food insecurity and disinvestment in black and brown communities.

When investment does take place it’s called gentrification and that’s also verboten.


What does an angry white boy really want? “A girlfriend,” comes the mocking answer, and there’s probably more to that than mockery. The proprietor of one of the nation’s premier websites for neo-Nazi knuckleheads advised his colleagues in Charlottesville that, after the protest — which included a murder — “random girls will want to have sex with you.” I ran this proposition past a few random girls, and I suspect that the apfelstrudelführers are going to go home disappointed. There are many shades of white, and Mom’s-basement white is the least popular crayon in the box.

Kevin Williamson of course.


We all know that Trump bears his true soul via Twitter. If he wants to convince Americans that he stands against racism and white supremacy, we will need to see prompt and spontaneous tweets against racism and hate crimes in the future, not stage-managed, ghost-written statements days after the fact.

Bares. And if POTUS doesn’t voluntarily tweet the usual SJW line then he’s a Waaaacist!

Cake and eating it

People assumed that was where someone who looked like me belonged. I was at Oxford University, not Oxford Brookes – a distinction that didn’t bother me in the slightest per se. What bothered me was the assumption, and the reason behind it. Oxford Brookes is a former polytechnic, and although it has excellent ratings in some subjects, lacks the prestige of the University of Oxford, where I was studying. It does, however, have both better levels of diversity and less of the stigma of being a place of study reserved for the most privileged and elite.

That’s pretty good. To both complain about privilege and elite and yet also praise prestige.

Isn’t this all a bit anti-semitic?

Will Donald Trump’s belated condemnation of racism be enough to assuage his Jewish backers—at last count, roughly 30 percent of the American Jewish community—even though it took him two days to make it, and even though the Charlottesville march was advertised with violently anti-Semitic rhetoric and imagery?
Of course it will.
No amount of cognitive dissonance is too great for Trump’s Jewish backers, from high-profile ones like embattled lawyer Michael “Says Who?” Cohen to everyday Jews in the pews. Why? It’s not just Israel, although that’s a big part of it. Nor is it just about Jared and Ivanka. Nor is it blindness to the anti-Semitism and racism rampant among Trump’s hard core base.
Quite the contrary. Trump’s Jewish supporters are well aware of the alt-right, and in a perverse way, they thrive on it. The shocking mainstreaming of anti-Semitism reinforces their worldview, their political ideology, and their support of Israel’s hard-right fringe.

Never really thought of the Daily Beast as being quite that type of place.

Ooooh, dear Aditya

Everyone knows history is written by the victors, but this is something else: bullshit recounted by the bullshitters. Even the banks are back to bragging how many billions they generously chip in to Her Majesty’s Exchequer, presumably hoping no one will point out that they took £1.3tn from taxpayers in just a few months in 2008.

The £1.3 trillion was liquidity support, something the central bank is supposed to provide. And it was all paid back, at a profit to the taxpayer, too.

RBS and Lloyds, don’t think they are at a profit. But then they weren’t liquidity support either.

Here’s the stuff of historical bad dreams: at the height of the banking crisis in 2008, every man, woman and child in Britain handed over £19,721 each to bankers.

Err, no, they didn’t. The liquidity support was new money, QE if you like. And much of that sum was guarantees, which were charged or to boot. Guarantees which weren’t called upon and thus the fees were a profit to the taxpayer. Aditya actually points to his source document which doesn’t say anything like he says it does.

Debt racked up through the greed of financiers being dumped on the poor, the young and people with disabilities in what must rank as the biggest bait and switch in postwar Britain. I say that, but we have only had seven years of austerity. If Philip Hammond stays in No 11 and sticks to plan (one must hope he does neither), the cuts will continue until the middle of the next decade. After 2025, who knows what will remain of our councils, our welfare state and our public realm.

The blow out in public debt wasn’t spent on the bankers. And the plan is at least that the “austerity” will take public spending back to about the percentage of GDP that it was when G. Brown was still in power. After that significant rise as a result of the recession.

Just what is Chakrabortty blathering about?

Superb snowflake logic

It’s a dark moment for America — and our president personally made this possible
Donald Trump hasn’t just tolerated this upsurge of fascist violence — he enabled and encouraged it. Now he must go

Racist nutter kills anti-racism protester.

The President must resign.


Yep, they want to control you all right

My feeling is that if we care about social mobility, then we should care about reducing assortative mating.

Because social mobility is such an important value we should therefore control who people marry.

Hmm, yes.

This is not a good combination either, for here comes the idiot stupidity:

The obvious way to do this would be to reduce social segregation in our education system. Even if we don’t meet our life partner at school or university, we might meet them later on through the lifelong friendships we form there.

What’s driving the rise in assortative mating is that people pair of later, doing so with people they meet though work. Which, in itself, is going to involve a certain stratification, innit?

We shouldn’t stop at schools. I’ve often struggled to explain why academic selection at 18 is OK when – off the back of the evidence – I could never support it at 11 or 14. Maybe because it’s not. In one of the most thought-provoking papers I’ve read recently, Tim Blackman, the vice chancellor of Middlesex University, argues a comprehensive university system in which more young people of mixed abilities go to their local university could bring similar academic benefits to comprehensive schooling.


Is she really this stupid?

I am currently preoccupied by Mondelēz and the news that the ethical brand from its stable, Green & Blacks is – for the first time ever – launching a chocolate bar that is neither Fairtrade nor organic.

Green & Black’s, the independent brand that was bought by Cadbury in 2005, was founded by two pioneers of ethical consumerism, and awarded the Fairtrade mark in 1994. So this news has rattled ethical shopping baskets the length and breadth of the country.

The official word from Green & Black’s is that there weren’t enough cocoa beans produced to Fairtrade and organic standard to enable it to produce its new Velvet Edition bar. This necessitated other beans procured to the standards of Mondelēz’s own sustainable programme, Cocoa Life. The driving need for this new bar is apparently that some consumers find the flavour of dark chocolate too rich, and must be provided with an alternative immediately. This raises my first question: must the consumer always have a product to satiate every possible desire?

Yes you idiot dingbat, that’s the fucking point. That’s the purpose of the economy, to produce what satiates consumer desire.

Which is why we’ve got Fairtrade, organic, so that those who prefer Fairtrade, and or organic, can satiate their desire.

The things people will complain about

“Facebook is not introducing people to open internet where you can learn, create and build things,” said Ellery Biddle, advocacy director of Global Voices. “It’s building this little web that turns the user into a mostly passive consumer of mostly western corporate content. That’s digital colonialism.”

Very limited and free internet access is digital colonialism.

Where’s that sodding gallows when you need it?

There’s a serious problem with describing this as racist

They will also struggle with the idea that, generally speaking, this problem only goes one way. A black person deciding not to date a white person in the UK is far less common. According to the survey, 35% of white people said they would never date a black person, whereas 10% of black people wouldn’t date a white person. Racism is based on power structures, and this is really looking at white privilege when it comes to dating: there’s not space for a lot else once it’s established how much more desirable white people are viewed in UK society. Being the standard of beauty to the degree where you have a worldwide skin lightening industry that accounts for billions of pounds should not be discounted.

Is it discriminating on the basis of race? Yep, sure is. Is it racist? At which point we’ve something of a problem. For if we’re to go around denouncing normal human behaviour as racism then we’re not talking about power structures or anything of the kind. We’re now talking about normal human behaviour.

And the things is that humans do, just normally, find that people genetically close to them but not too close are attractive. Indeed, we’ve got a mechanism which makes us find those too, too, close to us not attractive in a sexual manner. Children raised together from an early age, in the manner of siblings, tend strongly not to date each other when older.

No, not for any “reason” other than that we’re descended from people who tended not to shag siblings as that’s a strategy that fails after a few generations.

People tend to find people roughly like themselves attractive. With that little tactic to make sure of the roughly, not the near exactly.

OK, when we spread this out to a vibrant society we can, if we wish, describe this as racism. But when we do so we come up against that New Soviet Man problem. Getting rid of it would be insisting that humans must change their ways to fit our desired societal structure, rather than our societal structure reflecting how humans are human.

It’s also worth pointing out that even after all of that qualification it’s not in fact all that much of a problem. The intermarriage (perhaps, today, better expressed as something to do with fertility rather than actual marriage) rate in the UK is such that in places which are truly vibrant (when we talk about race that is, enclaves of cultural or religious solidarity are different) what used to be called miscegenation is more the norm than the exception. I wouldn’t sear to this statistic but I dimly recall that the outmarriage rate (or fertility again) among Afro-Caribbeans in London is 35% or something. That’s a “problem” which is being solved the way the English always have solved such problems, by shagging through the generations.

This must actually be so – otherwise, where did all those mixed race people on the dating scene come from?

There’s a lying toad somewhere around here

Ken Loach has been accused of seeing himself as exempt from the cultural boycott of Israel that he promotes, after claims that he allowed his films to be distributed in the country without objection.

Loach has vocally condemned artists who perform in Israel as supporting an “apartheid regime” and his long-standing producer insisted it was down to a “mistake” that the Palme d’Or winning I, Daniel Blake is currently showing in Israeli cinemas.

The contentious issue of Loach’s films being screened in Israel emerged after the director’s searing condemnation of Radiohead’s decision to play a concert in Tel Aviv later this month. Loach accused the band of ignoring Palestinian communities and supporting a system of apartheid by refusing to commit to the cultural boycott of Israel.

Rebecca O’Brien, Loach’s producer, said the distribution company Wild Bunch, had done the deal “accidentally” and without the knowledge of Loach or his production company Sixteen Films.


Claims that the distribution rights for Israel were sold “accidentally” were however dismissed as “absurd” by Loach’s long-term Israeli distributor Guy Shani, the head of Shani Films and also the owner of Israel’s Lev cinema chain.

Shani told the Guardian he had known Loach and his producer for years, paying them money “every year”, and had never heard any objections.

“Since 1993, when we bought Raining Stones, we bought every film apart from two. We never faced any trouble buying and the audience at the Lev cinemas is very open-minded and believes in free speech. So he is he’s punishing the wrong people or trying to.

“I can’t tell you how absurd this is. We’ve been showing his movies for years. I have been paying him money every year. His latest film I, Daniel Blake has been really successful in Israel. So successful that we had some private events with Israeli government institutions where they booked the film to show to employees because of interest in the subject.”

He added: “It is a conundrum that has puzzled me too. It seems that Ken Loach feels himself exempt from the cultural boycott.”

Shani also dismissed the notion that he would distribute a film in Israel over the director and producer’s objections.

“You have to understand how this works in the film business. You don’t sell a film to someone a director doesn’t want a film sold to. It is a serious business. You have a list of regions and they approve country by country and then you need to get approval by producer and director.

I wonder who the lying toad is?

This ISDS stuff in international treaties

You know this fuss about investor state dispute settlement systems? Every lefty shouting that it’s appalling that a company should be able to take a government to a neutral court?

Here’s why they exist:

Acacia has strongly denied the charges, and last week served ‘notices of arbitration’ on two of its three gold mines in the country. These notices mean it can seek intervention at the London Court of International Arbitration if Tanzania tries to rip up its original contracts with the company.

It came after Tanzania’s parliament rubber-stamped three new laws that could allow it to dissolve the underlying contracts held by natural resources producers in the country and block companies from seeking international arbitration.

Now you could say that’s absolutely terrible, why shouldn’t Tanzanian courts hear such issues? Well, because the Tanzanians are talking bollocks on this:

Acacia has been in open dispute with the government of Tanzania since March, when the country banned the export of powdered gold concentrate, which represents about a third of its output.

The government subsequently accused Acacia of under reporting the amount of concentrate it exports by a factor of 10, essentially amounting to a multi-billion dollar fraud dating back years.

Bollocks, entire bollocks, as Maya Forstater points out.

Something I should perhaps point out. CGdev were the people who published Alex Cobham’s (yes, he now of TJN) entirely bollocks report about Zambian copper prices and Glencore. Something uncovered by Maya. They retracted that study when it was pointed out that it was bollocks. And since then have rather made amends by employing Maya to police such bollocksy claims. There was also an encouragement to Cobham to, ahem, move along now. Bollocks not being a useful output of a group that wishes to be taken seriously.

But that is why ISDS exists. Because governments do indeed sometimes prosecute bollocks in their own courts.

I wuz raped, M’Lud

Or at least sexually assaulted:

At first glance, it appears an everyday story of an older man falling for a younger, pretty blonde woman.

The photographic evidence certainly seems to suggest Seumas Milne, the 59-year-old Labour Party spin doctor, enjoying an intimate romantic clinch with a 36-year-old lawyer who is not his wife.

Not so, said friends of Mr Milne. Perhaps somewhat ungallantly, they insisted Mr Milne was “not a willing participant” in the encounter.

Mr Milne, Jeremy Corbyn’s director of communications, had not relished a moment of his embrace with Jennifer Robinson, a human rights lawyer, on the balcony of a hotel in east London.

The point being that, from the imagery at least, that was sexual assault if it was unwilling.

Amanduh might want to rethink this

Donald Trump won the presidency in no small part through his persistent demagoguery about urban violence, which he appears to believe is the result of our first black president refusing to enact “law and order” policies on communities of color. As with most things Trump believes, this is largely nonsense — overall trends show a precipitous drop in crime over the past two decades or more — but of course violent crime in cities hasn’t been eradicated completely. That has allowed Trump to use the specter of violence to push for an expansion of already draconian and sometimes overtly racist criminal justice policies.

But a paper published in the May edition of the journal Social Science & Medicine, titled “The enduring impact of historical and structural racism on urban violence in Philadelphia,” adds an intriguing piece of evidence to a growing body of research that links the history of racial discrimination in cities to current problems with gun violence. This research suggests that fighting systematic racism is a better solution to urban crime than the heavy-handed policing tactics prescribed by Trump and his supporters.

The researchers, who all work with the Penn Injury Science Center at the University of Pennsylvania, took a look at modern maps of gun-violence hotspots in Philadelphia and compared them to an infamous redlining map of the city produced in 1937 by the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation. What they found was that areas of Philadelphia deemed “red zones” 80 years ago strongly correlate to areas that now have a high concentration of gun violence.

Redlining was the denial of certain services etc to certain districts based upon ethnic composition. The effect was to make sure that the ethnic compositions stayed put where they were. If you can’t get a mortgage, build a bit of equity, then move on up out then you can’t move on up and out.


Now Amanduh is celebrating the finding that historically and predominantly black districts have higher gun violence than non-historically and predominantly black population districts.

You know, if I did that I’m sure I would be called a racist.

There’s a simple explanation for this love

“Andromeda, supposedly the most beautiful woman in the world, was however from Nubia and therefore black.” My memory of this “however” in a Greek mythology textbook, it has haunted me – through my adolescence, and long into adulthood – with its assertion, both explicit and implicit, of the contradiction between being black and being beautiful.

This clearly was not simply one author’s prejudice; when I was young it was reflected in the absence of black women in the beauty and fashion industry. Black women, apparently, did not wear make-up, hair spray or perfume. Or worse, the marketers knew we bought their products but were so ashamed of the results they preferred not to advertise to us.

While many in the feminist movement rightly spoke out against the objectification of white women, they largely failed to notice an entirely different exclusion – of black women. There are many valid criticisms of the fashion and beauty industry: the pressure on girls, and increasingly boys, to match unhealthy body images, the airbrushing of reality from the pages of glossy magazines, the impact of packaging on the environment – but it has an important role to play in the normalisation of blackness.

That is why I am hosting tomorrow’s launch of the Black Beauty and Fashion Awards 2017 in parliament. The awards aim to promote equality and celebrate diverse beauty, giving consumers of black beauty products a voice that can be heard clearly.

We have come a long way since I was growing up – there are now supermodels with darker skin tones, and just about every fashion advert has the apparently obligatory Afro. But there is still a long way to go.

The norm remains white, even for me.

Advertising to a society will reflect that society. A society with few black women in it will have few black women in advertisements. The point of such advertising being “Buy this product and this could be you!”

There aren’t that many gingers used in advertising in Nigeria. When the UK had rather fewer with copious melanin there were rather fewer with copious melanin in advertising here.

This is not unusual nor an outrage – it’s normal.

Phew! The unions are on it

As if the scarcity of roles for black actors in Britain wasn’t bad enough, those who are cast in TV productions often find their hair and makeup needs are being ignored or at worst abused.

A new campaign to tackle inequality in behind-the-camera treatment has been launched by Peggy-Ann Fraser, a black actor. She is aiming to expose the mistreatment of black actors, and calling for better hair and makeup training, as well as greater employment for black hair and makeup artists.

Indeed, quite vital, fortunately it’s already being solved:

Fraser, who is on the black-members committee of the broadcasting union Bectu, has also won the backing of Equity, the entertainment-industry union, to examine the issue and decide what action to take. Equalities and diversity organiser Hamida Ali said: “Equity members met with Bectu’s hair-and-makeup branch last October and drew up a plan of action including looking at training and workshops, policy and guidance and the diversity of hair and makeup professionals.”

Equity and Bectu aim to “plug the knowledge gap that exists among industry professionals about black skin and hair”, through a week-long pilot or taster course due to start towards the end of 2017, led by black makeup and hair-care specialists.

So file this under problems diagnosed and solved then, eh? After all, the unions have got this, haven’t they?