Civil Liberty

Erm, why?

The BBC has more than 400 transgender staff, a confidential internal survey has revealed.

The figure represents more than one in 50 of the workforce – about four times higher than the proportion in the population at large.

And it stunned the BBC executive behind the research, who described the total number of trans employees, at 417, as ‘very, very high’.

Tunde Ogungbesan, the BBC’s director of diversity, has now launched a major reform to make the Corporation more ‘trans-friendly’ following the findings.

The facts – OK. But the action, why?

Having a portion of something 4 times that in the general population would seem to indicate already being pretty friendly to that something, no?

Can’t you just smell the subsidy coming here?

The rise of so-called “fake news” means it is “vital” that high-quality journalism is supported, the Culture Secretary has said as he launched the latest stage of an inquiry into press sustainability.

Matt Hancock said a “fearless and independent press” is one of the foundation stones of democracy, but has been undermined by “dramatic technological changes”.

New research shows revenues from circulation and print advertising have fallen from £7 billion to just over £3 billion over the last decade as Facebook, Google and other websites have swallowed up an ever greater share of advertising spend.

At the same time, a Government review has highlighted “the role and impact of digital search engines…

They’re going to try and tax that digital side to support that legacy media. You can just taste the thought, can’t you?

All British media in a BBC style financial straightjacket.

Media plurality my arse.

Normally I’d be against mob rule

But since the Two Minute Hate is aimed at Trumpistas I’m just fine with it. Emmanuel Goldstein would be beyond the pale, but a Press Spokesman?

Donald Trump’s enforcers have lost the right to civil courtesy
Gary Younge

Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ ejection from the Red Hen restaurant might ordinarily be dubious. But these are no ordinary times

Recall, these are the people who insist it should be illegal to stand outside an abortion clinic and ask those entering whether they really, really, want to kill their own child.

One can have any view you like either way but both seem a bit odd.

Isn’t this fun?

Arron Banks, who funded Nigel Farage’s Leave.EU campaign, talked about using private investigators to dig up dirt on journalists looking into his business activities, evidence seen by the Observer suggests.

Last week, the Observer published evidence that suggested Leave.EU co-ordinated its social media messaging with the Kremlin, including re-tweeting attacks against journalists and MPs by the Russian embassy.

But shocking new evidence includes emails from the same period in which Banks and Andy Wigmore, Leave.EU’s press spokesman and Banks’s business partner, appear to discuss hunting for “personal stuff” to use against Ian Katz, who was editor of the BBC’s Newsnight at the time.

Investigative journalist, using stolen emails to write her story, complains that journalists might be investigated.

Geese, meet ganders.

The important thing about Facebook

It doesn’t actually sell data:

“If the goal of Cambridge Analtyica was to show personalized advertisements on Facebook, then what they did was stupid,” Kogan said, arguing that it is much more effective for any advertiser to use Facebook’s own advertising targeting tools.

They allow you to explore data so as to direct advertising programs. Entirely not the same thing at all.

No, really, there’s a difference between “Here’s some data for $” and “Here’s the tools which enable you to target ads, that’ll be $ for the ads please”

So, along with freedom comes calls for censorship

Amazon criticised for selling films promoting conspiracy theories on Prime

OK, Prime video has some nutters on it.

But as concern over online misinformation mounts The Sunday Telegraph can reveal it is also propagating the bizarre fantasies of Alex Jones and David Icke.

Mr Jones is a leading figure in the so-called US alt-right, known for his paranoid anti-government rants online.

OK. And here’s the kicker:

Amazon’s dissemination of conspiracy theories as part of a service challenging traditional television is likely to stoke debate over regulation.

The BBC and Channel 4 are demanding rule to ensure their programmes – which are produced under strict rules of accuracy – are guaranteed prominence as a shift to on-demand viewing via apps instead of channel menus accelerates.

On-demand-only programming is currently subject to much more relaxed regulation, although the Government has signalled a crackdown is in the works. Amazon did not respond to requests for comment.

They do indeed want to censor.

And they can go boil their heads, too.

About Tommy Robinson

From the comments:

Tim–why don’t you put your article about Tommy Robinson up on here?

It is not to your credit that you are with the likes of Seaman Staines, Ole Holebone and others buying the state’s COCrot.

OK, so here’s how I read it right now.

Tommy Robinson has been an idiot and broken a law he had been warned about, indeed convicted of breaching before.

Contempt of court is a serious crime. As it should be. As is potentially prejudicing a trial that’s underway.

Why is it a serious crime? Because everyone does deserve a fair trail. And the worse the crime, the more the possible criminal is someone we don’t, or might not, like then the more essential is the fairness of that trial.

Tommy’s in jail because he was being an idiot tosspot. Nowt else.

Well, yes, sorta, maybe

The “right to keep and bear arms” was included as the second amendment to the US constitution in 1791 (Report, 17 February). Surely it would be logical to restrict that right to the types of guns available at the time: muskets and flintlock pistols? Semi-automatic guns have no place in private hands.
Elaine Yeo
Enfield, Middlesex

The logical restriction would be to what you can make at home. On the very simple grounds that you’ll never really be able to regulate that anyway.

It’s amazing what you can make with a hobby CNC machine these days. There’s even that high school student who made a nuclear bomb (sans payload, to be sure).

There’s sharing information and then there’s sharing information

Ken Livingstone, John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn were part of a group of at least 15 senior Labour figures who shared information with Eastern bloc agents, it is claimed.

Jan Sarkocy, a former Czechoslovak spy, described the MPs as “great sources” to himself or his colleagues in the KGB.

The new claims come after he said on Friday that the Labour leader had shared information with the Communist Czechoslovak regime.

My own opinion – based upon no evidence other than just this is what I think they would have done – is that they were over the line. That line between “Here’s a newspaper article” and into “I desire that the system be smashed, here’s some good info.”

But it does depend upon where you draw the line. A generous drawing of it, a too generous one, would have me myself as an agent of the Americans, Brits, Russians and N Koreans all at the same time. That there were some really taking Moscow Gold is known fact. That all were not so. Most I would think would fall under the Tony Benn exception. Regarded by the Soviets as too dippy to be reliable.

Lie detectors don’t work

Lie detectors have been used to send 160 sex offenders back to prison, Ministry of Justice figures have revealed.

Probation officers have sent paedophiles and convicted sex offenders back behind bars after flagging up concerns about their behaviour or the answers they gave to the polygraph tests.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) started using lie detectors on convicted sex offenders in August 2014 and around 50 people are tested on the machines every month.

Officials have the power to send sex offenders back to prison if the results of the cross examination on the lie detectors trigger concerns for public safety.

Bit of a problem that, isn’t it?

Psychologically they can:

“The machine says you’re lying”

“Yes, sob, sob”

But other than that they don’t. Not the basis upon which we should be jugging people.

Seems entirely reasonable

Almost two thirds of Muslim women who marry in the UK are not legally wed because their Sharia ceremonies are not registered in law. The percentage is rising, with estimates suggesting there are as many as 100,000 people in unregistered marriages among the 2.7 million Muslims in the UK.

Civil registration — as with all other marriages in Britain — would provide couples, particularly women, with the protections and rights of family laws, ensuring that they face fewer “discriminatory practices,” a recent report commissioned by the government has concluded.

All marriages in England (at least) which are legal marriages are civil registered. Sure, often enough it’s the priest, vicar or rabbi doing the paperwork but that’s what is happening.

So, why not?

Note that this isn’t to try and have special rules for Muslims. This is to afford them the same rules as everyone else.

About that modern slavery

Nearly 200 migrant workers who were ‘rescued’ by anti-slavery police yesterday were back at work on the farm today.

It comes after at least 100 of the workers descended on Camborne Police Station, Cornwall, last night to protest their boss’ arrest at RH Scrimshaw and Sons at Bosahan Farm.

The huge crowd of workers gathered in anger stating they were not victims of slavery and worked in good conditions — and could earn up to £250 a day.

They were part of a group of around 200 people found when police swooped on the site yesterday morning.


Devon and Cornwall Police confirmed that the three arrested men were aged 68, 49 and 41 – and one was not 61 as earlier released.

Now, about those 100,000 Vietnamese tarts in the nail bars…..

Does he keep the anonymity if found guilty?

The alleged fantasist who sparked the Westminster paedophile investigation has been charged with child sex offences.

The man, who can only be identified as Nick, was arrested last year and has already appeared in court, charged with multiple offences relating to allegations of making and possessing hundreds of indecent images of children. He has also been charged with voyeurism.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges, which allegedly took place between 2015 and 2016, and is expected to stand trial later this year.

Isn’t it something of a breach of civil liberty for someone anonymous to be convicted? You know, justice must be seen to be done? One of the points being that no one can just get railroaded, we’ve got to know who is being punished for what?

But this isn’t the way we do it

John Worboys will be asked if he objects to wearing an electronic tag when he is eventually released from prison.

Worboys, 60, dubbed the ‘black cab rapist’, was due to be freed at the end of last month after being granted parole.

The Telegraph has learnt that the original conditions for Worboys’ release allowed him to live in London and without an electronic tag.

A Parole Board judged him no longer a risk to the public at a hearing in December despite complaints that he drugged and sexually assaulted more than 100 women while working as a London taxi driver.

Victims have now protested to the Parole Board about the terms of his release. They are demanding he is tagged and is banned from London where most of his victims live.

It’s the Queen’s justice, not mob justice, or good reason.

Given the democracy bit it’s absolutely fine to shout about how the law should be changed. But not to insist that a specific individual be subject to punishment not sentenced to by a court, nor that a specific individual must be punished without the law.

What a lovely anti-corruption drive this is

Several high-profile politicians who were close to Grace Mugabe, the former first lady, and opponents of Emmerson Mnangagwa, the new president, have already been detained, prompting concerns that graft investigations might be used as a political tool.

“The big worry is that there is really no comprehensive anti-corruption drive but rather … some kind of witch-hunt by a victorious faction within the Zanu-PF … This is nothing to do with ending corruption, but a lot to do with vengeance,” said Dewa Mavhinga, Human Rights Watch’s southern Africa director.

And vengeance against those who have plundered a country is bad because?

Why only current rape cases?

All current rape and serious sexual assault cases in England and Wales are to be reviewed “as a matter of urgency” to ensure evidence has been disclosed.

Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders warned the review could see “a number of cases” dropped.

It comes after the collapse of several rape trials because evidence had not been shared with defence lawyers.

BBC legal correspondent Clive Coleman said there had been a failure to share digital evidence in each of the cases.

On that basic principle of 10 guilty go free rather than one innocent get jugged, shouldn’t we be devoting some resources to those serving sentences?

Rather missing the point about the idea of civil society itself

These bastions of masculine entertainment can pose a danger to open democracy. It is the gentlemen’s clubs of London where politicians, bankers and hedge-fund managers meet to do deals and form secret alliances. Because membership lists are not disclosed to the public it is impossible to tell when a minister proposes a policy that favours the interests of members of his club. Neither is the public privy to the terms of the sacred oaths they may have sworn. And in a court of law shouldn’t the ordinary litigant know whether a judge is a member of the same club as the opposing party? There are a myriad of potential conflicts of interest rooted in the secret membership of gentlemen’s clubs.

In the City and among our professions, where senior offices are dominated by privately educated bankers, hedge fund managers, lawyers and accountants, such clandestine meetings and associations create perceptions of injustice.

So what can be done? In Britain it is legal to form a private members’ club whose membership is based on restrictive characteristics. There are women-only and ethnic-minority clubs which do not admit men or those of a different ethnicity. The government’s own guidance on the Equality Act says that while it is unlawful for a private club to discriminate against, harass or victimise an existing or potential member it is lawful to restrict membership to people who share a particular characteristic. This is not true for political parties, which cannot block membership on the basis of race or sex.

What is required is the compulsory publication of a register of members so that the public can be confident that the business of government and justice is not being done in the secret smoke-filled dining rooms of gentlemen’s clubs. A more transparent approach might also open up some of these gentlemen’s clubs to more adult attitudes towards women.


Which club blackballed Robert Verkaik then?

Let us assume that everything he says is correct, entirely right. Now let us go on to think a little more. One of the great distinctions of English (a little more English than British, but only just perhaps) was that anyone could set up a club to do anything they liked without having to ask anyone. We recall the exceptions to this (Tolpuddle Martyrs perhaps, I think that was something to do with secret oaths in law?) and all too rarely remember the joys of it. The Friendly Societies, Boy Scouts, brass bands, Morris dancers, layaway plans for the bus and beer trip to the seaside and so on. All those things which do actually make up civil society. This is not company law where privileges extend to hte form of organisation, this is just the existence of an organisation itself. The English/British attitude was one of benign neglect over who may do what.

In contrast to, say, France, where I believe it is true that no Frenchman could set up a club or organisation of more than 25 members without permission from Paris – a rule which stuck until well into the 1950s. Not sure whether the details there are apocryphal but the basic point is true.

Or, as we might put it in the vernacular. Fuck off matey. For we’re English and therefore free, one of the defining points of which is that we consenting adults get to do what we want to do, with who we want to do it and when, without asking permission from some knobhead like you. Nor even informing you – it’s our life, not yours to manage for us, geddit?