19/07/2024

Liz Truss Still Doesn’t Get It [Reality]

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Sometimes I feel bad about picking on Liz Truss. Hasn’t she been through enough? But then I realise she was lucky enough to get to be Prime Minister for a while and will get £155k a year allowance, which more than covers the hassle of ignore the things I have to say about her.

She has reached new levels of denial that would take most of us years of practice, like a Tibetan monk, to attain.

The UK recently had its King’s Speech. I saw it on TV. I preferred the film version, etc, etc.

The King doesn’t write it himself. If you have writers it shouldn’t end up that boring. Call me. I do scriptwriting work. I could have zinged that up a bit. I have a joke about it being like the film The King’s Speech I could offer.

There were 40 proposed bills, and with Labour’s majority there’s no reason they won’t all turn into laws. The House of Lords could slow the bills down, and one proposed bill is about abolishing hereditary peers in the House of Lords, so that one might get some pushback.

My favourite one is The Budget responsibility bill. People are calling it the “Liz Truss bill” and not in a good way. It gives powers to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) to make judgements on any major taxation or spending announcements. It basically has been put in place to stop anyone from being able to “do a Liz Truss” again. That’s some legacy, where your name becomes a reference for mucking up the UK economy.

It’s like saying, “My parking was so bad I did a Brian Harvey back there.”

As soon as the King had read out his script Liz Truss tweeted (Xed) her reply saying, “The bad policies include; giving more powers to the failed OBR.”

Failed? That’s rich. The OBR lasted more than 49 days. Did you?

Liz had also complained about the way it was described in the briefing notes for the speech. It had described Liz Truss's mini-budget as "disastrous" but she said that showed political bias.

Which political side thinks what happened wasn’t a disaster? Which party is in favour of making mortgage rates shoot up? I bet some of the mortgage providers didn’t mind.

You can argue about whose fault it was but the outcome was a disaster so it earns the adjective.

Here’s what I don’t get. Liz was aiming for growth. Great. We all love growth, in a non-medical setting. That wasn’t just Liz who wanted growth, that’s a pretty standard wish.

She doesn’t like the idea of the OBR, so she didn’t run her mini-budget by it. She feared that the OBR would tell her not to do it.

So, she did it and it caused a problem with the LDIs, the liability driven investments. After the fact Liz has admitted that she “didn’t know the existence” of LDIs and if she did she may have scaled back the mini-budget.

Maybe that’s why you should have run the budget by some sort of office that had responsibility for budgetary things.

And yet we know that if she had involved the OBR, and the OBR had said, “Hang on, this might be a problem for the LDIs,” Liz would have been the first crying about how the deep state was stopping her implementing her growth plans.

“I didn’t know of the existence of…” isn’t evidence that your plan was right all along. At best your plan was ill-informed. If you didn’t know what you were doing you should have asked someone who did but anyone who knew about these matters was already written off as part of the problem.

So, to sum up, it’s unfair to call her mini-budget that was a disaster “disastrous” and her lack of information on the results of her plans somehow makes it not her fault.

If I had that level of denial about reality I’d spend ten minutes every night brushing my hair.

» Read the source story


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12/07/2024

Would You Want To Meet The Rees-Moggs?

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After the General Election and the reporting of so many Portillo moments Michael himself must have felt like he was in Being John Malkovich, one question was being asked a lot, “What will all those Tory MPs do now?”

It looks like most won’t be involved in politics. But the same is true for the Tories that did keep their seats.

One shocking outcome is that Jacob Rees-Mogg is to become a reality TV star. It’s not I’m A Celeb, which is for the best. That show is about making famous people squirm as they eat kangaroo’s knobs, but posh people probably have that as a terrine, so there’s no fun there.

The show will follow former Tory MP, his six children and family’s nanny in run-up to and aftermath of election. It’s a documentary on Discovery+, Meet the Rees-Moggs. It’s kind of like the one with the Osbournes but also totally the opposite of the one with the Osbournes.

It’s going to be posh watching and we Brits love a bit of that. We watch posh people being posh and we say, “Oh, look at them. Aren’t they odd?”

But in the back of our minds we think, “But they are our betters and should probably be in charge.”

We have such a strange relationship with old money types. We regard them as an oddity and yet willingly hand the keys to the country to them. “His vowels are tortured. We’d better make him a Prime Minister.”

The show will feature his six children. I’m hoping at least one of them is the rebel who is a mockney who wants to make a living as a live streamer, but I have a feeling I’ll be disappointed.

The documentary will be released this year and promises to “lift the lid on the man behind the public image” over the course of five hour-long episodes.

The show will look at the run up to the election and the result. Rees-Mogg has said: “Animals, children, an election and a film crew. What could possibly go wrong?”

I can answer that. From your point of view, a Labour landslide.

» Read the source story


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09/07/2024

A Quiet Place?

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Wellness is to health care as a nutritionist is to a dietician, in that it sounds like it's related but it's totally unregulated and mainly nonsense. Yet I love reading about all of the new wellness trends.

It wasn't that long ago that grown adults were filling in colouring books to achieve mindfulness and no one thought it was a con.

Since then I have had children and find myself finishing pages of their colouring books when the kids lose interest but my obsessive compulsions can't leave anything unfinished. So much for making my mental health better.

The latest trend is silent retreats. These are places where you can go and you're not allowed to talk. If I wanted to be told to shut up I could stay at home.

For around £800-a-week you too could attend a silent retreat. Activities include yoga, which might make it the first time someone has started yoga and not gone on about it for weeks on end.

You have to turn your phone off and you're not allowed to read. Even knitting is discouraged. I know there are many habits people need to crack that use needles but I don't think knitting is one of them.

When you go for a walk you are given a badge to wear that explains that you're on a silent retreat and cannot speak. I think I'd simply risk being seen as rude rather than seen as the kind of odd-bod who'd spend money on this.

Former Tory MP Rory Stewart goes on such retreats for up to 11 days a year. He said, well, not much hopefully.

It's clearly the kind of self-obsessed and performative nonsense that bored middle-class people get up to but there might be something in it. Like London Fashion Week with people on the catwalk looking a right mess but some core themes make it to the High Street. There are some key points we could all learn from.

We don't have to spend good money to go to a place to sit in silence. There are coffee shops, libraries and some marriages where that happens for free.

We don't have to plunge ourselves into days of zero decibel existence but we could learn to shut up a bit. If you don't have anything to say you could stay silent. Trim out the small-talk.

If you are telling a story about something that happened at work, maybe get right into the detail instead of five minutes of biographical details that your partner doesn't care about.

Talking less might not directly improve your wellness, but it could help the wellness of the people around you.

» Read the source story


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03/07/2024

Starmer Clocking Off Early?

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We have seen much made of the news that Sir Keir Starmer said he wouldn’t work past 6pm on Fridays.

What he actually said an interview on Virgin radio was that he tries to keep that part of the week as family time. You know, family time, a traditional Conservative value. He also said he realised he'd have to work after 6, but (as ever) why let the details get in the way of a partisan rant?

It's clearly a nothing-burger. If he gets the top job he'll be kept busy, but the funny thing is what the Tories have said. They posted on social media: “You deserve better than a part-time prime minister. The only way to prevent this is to vote Conservative on Thursday.”

Yeah. That'll work. You were heading to the worst defeat your party has ever suffered but that tweet will really swing things around.

Why do they think we fear a part-time PM? Rishi said he never clocks off before 6pm, and look what a pig's teat he's made of things. Looking back, if someone could have talked Liz Truss into clocking off early some of our mortgages would be less painful.

People on social media were posting things like, “Oh great. So let’s hope Russia don’t start a nuclear war after hours on a Friday then!” I replied to some saying they shouldn't worry because Russia is on a different time-zone.

They post that as if there wouldn’t even be a phone call put in to Keir. Someone in the MoD would say, “I know the missile is on its way but we can’t call the PM. He’s put his out of office on!”

Don’t be so daft. It’s an empty way to try to score points. And the problem is it doesn't score points, it highlights weakness. If this is your attack it shows you're out of good attacks.

I thought the era of boasting that you do ridiculous hours had passed. Some people in business used to show how dedicated they were by pointing out that they don’t have anything else going on in their life. It's like the post-Yuppie version of Monty Python's Four Yorkshiremen sketch.

The same people will say, “less is more,” in a meeting to try to sound clever.

It’s a trope in politics too. Thatcher boasted that she only slept 3 hours a night. Yeah, and she got dementia. The take-home message should be, "You might wanna take a nap."

Sir Keir might not work past 6pm on Friday. A lot of Tory MPs won’t work after Thursday, and that’s a day earlier.

» Read the source story


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23/06/2024

Boris To The Rescue?

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Boris Johnson is being pulled into the Tory campaign with personalised letters to voters, but don’t worry, he may still be scoring a point against Rishi Sunak, because, yeah, in-fighting will help.

This is funny. It’s like Harold Bishop going back into Neighbours. You’re know you’re in trouble when they have to get a cameo from three series ago.

It was suggested that Boris had written ‘supportive’ letters, but this is Boris Johnson we’re talking about. He will have written one letter that’s supportive and one that’s not, and he’ll pick which he feels like, because he’s a man of principles.

And if it’s anything like his Daily Mail column it might be about cheese and cost them half a million to get him to write it. Or the latest sunglasses.

Newspapers have been saying he’s “being parachuted into the disastrous Conservative election campaign” but he is not actually being parachuted because he’s on holiday till the day before the election. He also won’t remember his ID when he goes to the polling station so he’s probably not even voting in this one, let alone fighting it.

But a spokesman for Mr Johnson would not be drawn on whether the letters would mention Mr Sunak. Would it help Rishi to have the letter that will be a reminder of how he drove the knife into the back of the PM that people voted for? The kind of people who could be swayed by a letter from Boris Johnson are probably Boris Johnson fans, which means they won’t like what Rishi did.

Either way, if this doesn’t work they probably have AI Thatcher ready to go.

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13/06/2024

Oh No! A Super-Majority!

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There’s a new line we’ll hear in the election. The threat of the super-majority.

The front pages have raised the spectre of a Labour ‘super-majority’ and how that could be dangerous. It was mentioned by the Defence Secretary Grant Shapps in an interview. It’s quite a defensive position but that is his job.

It comes across like he’s given up. He changed the messaging from “vote for a Tory win” to “Oh, please don’t let us lose too badly. Come on, guys. This is going to be embarrassing. We’ve all had our fun but please make us come second.”

We all love an under-dog and somehow the party with an 80 seat majority have become that.

Grant said we need a “proper system of accountability... we would argue that you don’t want to have somebody receive a super-majority.”

They didn’t mention that in 2019 when it looked like they were going to do well. There was never a “vote Tory but let’s not get carried away” poster.

Normally you try to sound positive when fighting a general election. Basically asking the electorate to please let you end up in opposition isn’t a good move but to be fair, most moves they have made in this election campaign haven’t helped either.

Mr Shapps also insisted that there was still “everything to fight for” and the “polls have been wrong before”.

But that would not only need Keir Starmer to start gaffing, he’d have to gaff at a faster rate that Rishi is gaffing to catch up and overtake.

So you’re right, still a chance.

» Read the source story


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07/06/2024

Ain’t That A Kick In The Shins

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The man who won the shin kicking world title on his first try is back. It looks stupid as a sport but before we judge we have to admit that no one has ended up in a coma like you get in boxing.

Mike Newby, 34, an account director – and how doesn’t want to kick an account director - who lives in Cheltenham with his girlfriend, Geo Legate (fitting name) competed in the Cotswold Olimpick Games. I don’t know if you’re meant to stress the “limp” part of the name.

It’s a sporting event that celebrates English folk sports and games, such as tug of war, hammer throwing and the main event, shin kicking, being held on May 31 2024.

It’s a shame they don’t include some Dorset Knob Tossing. We are a strange people. If you didn’t know, a knob is a type of biscuit, which makes even less sense. Who throws away a biscuit?

Just a few weeks after winning the 2023 edition of the competition, Mike hit the gym, did cardio, struck his shins with a hammer. Basically he “Miseried” himself?!

Mike said: “I felt a bit like Maximus from Gladiator.” Well, you weren’t. You were more like Colonel Rosa Klebb from From Russia With Love.

» Read the source story


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06/06/2024

Would Starmer Use The NHS?

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Keir Starmer insisted that he would never use private healthcare even if a relative was stuck on waiting list. I totally understand this point of view. I’m the same, Keir, because I don’t like some members of my family either.

It was in the ITV debate, during what seemed like a fingers-on-buzzers speed round. They were both asked if a relative was on a long NHS waiting list would you use private medicine?

The real question should have been if YOU were on a long waiting list…

Sir Keir Starmer leader said the health service 'was in his DNA' and cited his wife Victoria's work in occupational health. And the NHS uses tools, and his dad was a toolmaker, you know. He mentioned that a fair few times. Pointing out that your father made tools is inviting people to call you a tool. You wouldn’t leave an easy heckle hanging like that if you were a stand-up.

It’s a theoretical question, so we can’t prove him wrong. Maybe he truly believes that based on how bad the NHS is now, maybe it would still be true if it got worse.

Maybe it’s just something he’s saying because he wants to be PM, but if he wants to be the PM to save the NHS isn’t hardly a bad lie. What it is, is a pointless question that tells us nothing.

This Daily Mail article brushes over the fact that Rishi Sunak said he would, because of course he would, he’s minted. Could you imaging him asking his billionaire wife, “Could you go on the NHS because there’s an election coming up...”

They also mentioned the part of the debate when Starmer said the waiting list numbers had gone from 7.2million to 7.5million and Rishi said that was coming down. Rishi explained: 'They are coming down from when they were higher.’ And this is the guy who wants everyone to be better at maths.

» Read the source story


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31/05/2024

Trump Guilty – Not The Big Win You Think It Is

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It’s big news, possibly from the littlest story. Certainly from the weakest of the trials against the former president.

News sites have been saying things like, “Donald Trump found guilty in hush money case” and thereby showing part of the problem here. It isn’t a hush money trial. The idea of a court case based on payments to an adult actress is great. It’s the plot of a good episode of a TV drama.

It’s not what we have just had. It’s not illegal in America to pay someone hush money and so it shouldn’t be. Firstly, I have worked with a few Americans and I often wish they were being paid to hush. But you can’t criminalise hush money or you’d be blaming the victim in a blackmail case for paying up.

The case all comes down to how payments were recorded. It’s an accounting thing. And if it is so easy to make the court case look like a misdirection, done by someone who is not a Trump fan, imagine the hay Trump supporters can make with this.

If you swing for the king you’d better not miss, or at least if you find Donald Trump to be a convicted felon, you’d better make sure it’s the case that is impactful and sticks.

The timing is awkward. It’s around six months before he goes head-to-head with Joe Biden. Will this scupper his chances? Of course not. This is a man who famously said he could walk onto Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and get away with it, and accountancy isn’t seen as deadly as shooting someone. Actually, there are parts of America that love their guns more than their accountants, so I’ll take that point back.

While some swaying voters will be put off by the idea of voting for a criminal the core vote, the base as they call it with Trump, are reinforced by news like this. The victim-in-chief loves to make out that everything is unfair towards him. In round one, up against Hillary Clinton, he gave us terms like “fake news” and made the press out to be the bad guys. That was helpful because when the press raise some issue he can they avoiding addressing it by calling the press names. An ad hominem against anyone who is a qualified journalist.

So imagine how this feeds into phase two, that the deep state is going after him. It was a weak sauce case.

Do most people think he slept with Stormy? God, yes. Probably even the evangelical right. But he got them their abortion rights win, so don’t blame the sinner, right? Well, unless that sinner needs an abortion. Anyway...

Do people think he used money, through his fixer, to try to make the story go away? Yeah, I bet they do. You’d expect it. It’s the polite thing to do.

Do people think that falsifying business records is a serious crime? No, because it’s not. Normally that would be a misdemeanour. You'd be given a fine, probably for less money that you saved cooking the books and that's how justice works.

Only if you line up all of the events, tie it to the outcome of the US election and have a following wind can you make it sound like a felony. It’ll work for the people who already didn’t like Trump and it proves he’s right to claim he’s a victim to those who already think he’s somehow both the messiah AND a very naughty boy.

He was found guilty of all 34 counts he faced. Unanimity was required for any verdict. WHy didn't they just find him guilty of, say 30 of them? It would be harder for the Trump die-hards to make out it was rigged.

Trump faces a maximum sentence of four years in prison, which doesn’t prevent him from running for the presidency and being president while in jail. It could mean he has to pick Red from Shawshank Redemption as his VP.

All we know so far is that this won’t be the end of it. Trump already spoke to the press (the fake news press?) and said that he was "a very innocent man". Now we’re living in a world where there are gradations of innocence.

Let’s hope the circus that follows this case doesn’t ruin things for the subsequent cases, which are more serious that paying money to get a porn star to close her mouth, for once, and the paperwork you have to do following that.

» Read the source story


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29/05/2024

The Pope Says Sorry For Gay Slur

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Here’s something you don’t read everyday: Vatican‭ issues apology over Pope Francis’s ‘homophobic’ slur‬.

It was also thought he referred to trans women as men in dresses, but he was actually talking about his bishops.

The statement says pontiff apologises ‘to those who felt offended by the term‬ ‭reported by others’. It’s a classic non-apology there. I’m sorry for those who felt offended – not sorry for offending, and “the term reported by others” means they’re not admitting his said it.

We’re sorry you felt offended by the thing you think we said.‬

Pope‭ Francis was talking admitting gay men into seminaries. And he may have pronounced it as “semenaries”. But probably not.

He said there was already‭ too much “frociaggine” in some seminaries. In English it means “a ball or roll of seasoned chopped liver, baked or fried.” I may have looked at the wrong definition when Googling that.

Still, it’s rare to get a papal apology, especially when he’s meant to be infallible. I suppose that’s why the apology was so bad, he can’t admit being fallible without having to quit.

‭Soon after becoming pope, he famously said in response to a question about gay‬ ‭priests: ‬”Who am I to judge?” The Pope! And one who knows some slang terms about it.

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28/05/2024

Police Target Neck-Wringing Granny

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We should have seen this coming. If you have watched a superhero film there’s a bit where the police are trying to catch the hero because they think he’s being a vigilante. If you take fighting crime into your own hands the police will see you as a threat.

That’s what happened to a 70-year-old woman recently. Gillian Mears was in the news after some local wrong ‘uns damaged her garden gate. I know, this is hardly the crimes associated with The Riddler or The Joker but she’s not a full Batman herself. She said that if she got her hands on the youths she’s wring their necks and the police came round to tell her off.

It wasn’t the first time the vandals had struck, so Gillian was already annoyed. The time in question her disabled husband went out to stop them but he fell over. As Gillian went out to help him the young ones mocked them, so she was understandably angry. She called the police and mentioned that if she could she’d wring their necks.

Gillian was interviewed about the incident and said, “When they arrived they told me off for making that threat, which was not a threat it was me just venting my anger.”

It can’t be the first time the police have heard that phrase so they must know that it’s hyperbole. It’s like saying an American saying, “Why I oughta,” or comedian Mike Reid saying he’d give someone a dry slap. I don’t think he ever did.

You could also make the argument that if you’re a criminal and a disabled man and 70-year-old granny can successfully wring your neck, you shouldn’t have picked that fight. If your neck is that fragile, keep away from a granny’s gate.

It’s a sad story because it feels like the police are siding with the criminal. I understand that a wrung neck is more serious than a damaged gate, but that was never a likely outcome here.

It’s made worse when we hear all the time that police won’t attend shoplifting call outs if the goods taken aren’t worth more than £200. I know, with the cost of living crisis, three packets of butter and a steak will probably push you over that threshold but it’s not right that real crimes are ignored while things that are obviously not crimes have the police turning up.

It feels like it’s easier to tell off grannies or to caution someone who posts messages on social media. They’re less care than actual criminals.

The yobs had damaged their gate twice. They asked for three other fences to be taken into consideration.

» Read the source story


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27/05/2024

German Uniforms Caused Upset

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You’ve heard of the fashion police, but there is something you can wear that could get you in trouble.

The bosses of a World War Two event have had to defend the re-enactors who dressed as Nazis. Or they dressed as Prince Harry, it’s hard to tell at first glance.

Organisers of the Spirit of Wartime event in Nottinghamshire said the event was designed to let people experience life in military camps of both the Allied and Axis military.

To be fair, you’re re-enacting a war, you kind of need both sides or people won’t understand why it took so many years to win it.

They even had a Swastika flag but it’s not been a popular move with everyone. A professor in Holocaust history said the flag seemed 'a bit celebratory'. Really? I’m assuming they didn’t win at the end of the re-enactment.

He also questioned the logic of people who spend money to dress up as Nazis as a hobby.

Against, that’s fair enough. Battle re-enactors are clearly doing it because they can’t stand their own family and want to be out of the house, but that’s true of both sides of the battle.

The thing that’s important is context. If you’re dressing up as a Nazi for work, that’s OK, unless your work is invading Poland. It’s the people with Nazi gear in the bottom draw that they keep secret that we need to watch out for.

There were Nazis in WWII so there’ll be in WWII re-enactments. There are Nazi in the first Captain America film. Should we ban that?

Banning any use of such flags and uniforms won’t stop actual wrong ‘un, it’ll only stop these kind of events, which will improve some people’s weekends but that’s why what we’re going for here.

» Read the source story


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26/05/2024

Starmer The (Scottish) Charmer

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As the General Election cracks on Sir Keir Starmer said that he needs to win in Scotland to become Prime Minister. And then you read the article and you realise he’s not saying he “needs” it but he’s saying he needs it to win Scotland over. Mathematically he can be the Prime Minister without winning Scottish seats, that’s roughly what Boris Johnson did in 2019.

The more seats Labour gets in Scotland the less of a record-breaking swing Labour needs in the rest of the UK, and he could well do that. If Labour does well up there, it’s all thanks to the political abilities of one man, Huamza Yusuf. Keir should send a fruit basket as a thanks.

Labour could do well in Scotland as the SNP implode, like it would do well in England because of the Tories doing themselves in. This is like a fight scene in the 1981 film Condorman.

Sir Keir said he needed to win in Scotland, where Labour only held one seat in the 2019 general election, so that he feels he is ruling all of the UK.

You can see his point. If Scotland votes SNP but the leading party is Conservative they can claim they didn’t vote for the leader they got. But that’s how the system works. There are places in the South West that vote Lib Dem who will always be able to say they didn’t vote for the PM.

Scotland has a great knack of making itself the belle of the ball. And Keir is doing the flattery. He’s telling Scotland he needs them even when he doesn’t. Meanwhile Rishi is off telling miracles that he needs them, and he means it.

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22/05/2024

The BBC Bigs Up The Butcher of Tehran

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The Telegraph told us: “BBC slated for ‘absurd’ obituary of ‘Butcher of Tehran’ Raisi”

First impressions are that it would be a brave and funny business name, “Butcher of Tehran”. A Halal meat shop. But that's not the main point here.

The BBC is facing criticism for saying Ebrahim Raisi, Iran’s hardline president who died in a helicopter crash, had a “mixed legacy”.

Hey, there were good people on both sides, as someone once said. The BBC is all about balance, and you don't want to be too one-sided about a cruel leader.

An obituary published by the broadcaster described the former leader as a figure “loved by hardliners of the Islamic Republic of Iran”. The BBC noted his leadership to ‘reform in processing a backlog of court cases’”.

Since 2021, when Raisi took office, the regime executed 1,844 Iranians, including huge numbers of dissidents and religious minorities, most in sham trials.”

And they are no longer clogging up the courts. Do you know how much quicker a sham trial is compared to a real trial? So, well done BBC for finding a positive spin on this.

Of course, if he was an actual butcher the pressure from the vegan groups would mean the BBC would condemn him in the harshest terms.

» Read the source story


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There's Still Bad Blood: Infected Blood Scandal

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Infected blood victims could get compensation payments of over £2.5m. Yeah, but you know what they can’t get? Rid of the diseases they have, so, y’know, perspective.

This was announced a day after a damning report found the NHS and government culpable for the tragedy.

It’s not just that they were “culpable”. In Monday’s report, it was pointed out that successive governments ignored warnings about the risks of contamination, engaged in a “cover-up” and resisted for decades holding a public inquiry or paying compensation.

They were running out the clock. If you’re guilty of shortening someone’s life and you drag your heels on doing anything about it, you are clearly hoping they’d all die off. That’s the bigger crime.

The impressive thing here is that we finally had a report with ITV1 having to do a drama about it. There’s hope for this nation yet.

Payments of £210,000 would be made to infected people who have already received interim payments of £100,000, within 90 days “so that they can reach those who need it so urgently most”.

There was a story in the paper of a man who was given contaminated blood, he passed HIV to his pregnant with and he, his wife and his daughter were all dead within a few years. So how does £300k look now?

But, I suppose, the flip side is, imagine how gutted you must be if you have Hep C and you caught it the old fashioned way. No money for you.

This will cost the exchequer £10bn. But they could be repaid by chasing erroneous COVID lockdown payments and… no, they’re still not doing that.

» Read the source story


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16/05/2024

Should We Ban Homework?

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If you're a school child and you think you have too much homework print off this post and show it to your parents. A new study has said less homework is good for children as it makes them more active and healthier.

A sedentary lifestyle is bad for you and children spend too long looking at screens, so one way to fix that is to reduce the amount of homework.

To the pupils who are showing this to their parents, you should rip the paper at this point because the research isn't quite as it seems.

Firstly, the study was done in China. It's a nation where they already do way more homework than we do in the UK. We'd have to do more homework to make the level they reduced theirs to.

That's exactly the kind of detail your parents would focus on but the general point still remains. Doing homework these days requires being on a computer screen of some sort and screentime isn't good for you.

The study found that less screentime resulted in children spending 45 minutes less a day sitting down and they also had earlier bedtimes. Once again, I hope you trimmed this off before showing it to your parents.

When you dig into the details, like only someone who did a lot of homework at school can do, you notice that the study looked at reducing time playing online games and homework. Yet the headlines tell us to reduce homework. How about we reduce the online gaming first? It's like saying being a big building is bad for teenagers, so should we reduce time spent in school or in the local Wetherspoons?

The study suggested changing the laws to prevent online gaming providers letting children play on week nights and stopping schools handing out too much homework.

One of the researchers said: “We know that leaving it to parents doesn’t work. It is much easier for parents when they can tell their children that any more screen time would be against the law.”

Say that anyway. Your children don't know what the law is. They'll believe you if you say something is illegal. My son thinks it's against the law to buy ice cream on a day with a Y in it.

If they want to know the actual law they'll have to do their homework.

» Read the source story


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15/05/2024

Trump Update: Whether he’s Comin’ or Cohen

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Donald Trump warned 'a lot of women' would come forward during 2016 presidential run.

Show off.

In the Stormy Daniels case, Michael Cohen, Trump's former right-hand man, is giving evidence. Given the details we had from Stormy, “right-hand man” has already sent my mind off in the wrong direction.

Here’s a recap. Stormy slept with Trump just after his wife had given birth to their child, so it’s not like the wife would have had the energy to spank him with a magazine with his own face on it. A magazine with your face on it, or as Boris Johnson calls that, voter ID.

Trump got her to sign a NDA and paid her hush money. All perfectly legal in America. Have you met many Americans? They could all do with a lot more hush money.

Cohen made the payment, Trump paid him back but may have listed that money as an election payment. And that might be the crime.

It’s so upsetting that the actual crime isn’t a sexy scandal. It’s accountancy.

As Cohen described working for Trump on his 2016 presidential campaign, Cohen testified in court that the ex-president warned him his run for presidency would lead to negative stories surfacing. “You know that when this comes out … just be prepared. There’s going to be a lot of women coming forward”, Cohen claimed Trump told him.

The candidate for the evangelical Christian America there.

The one thing I don’t understand about this situation is why they tried to cover it up. When Trump gets sued or fined his base love him even more. A scandal where he slept with an adult actress seems like the kind of thing he’s pay $130,000 for now.

» Read the source story


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14/05/2024

Is There Common Sense In A Minister for Common Sense?

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You may have enjoyed the aurora borealis recently but if you like colourful things you won't want to look at Civil Servants soon. The UK's ‘Common Sense’ minister has banned rainbow lanyards in the civil service.

If you were making a list of the policies that lack common sense you may have started with the Rwanda plan, but they have decided to start with lanyards.

This is Esther McVey, the minister for common sense, which isn’t a job, so she’s actually a minister without portfolio, but they call her the Minister for Common Sense. It's a title on a par with that of Boob Inspector you'd get on those hats at the seaside.

This feels like the kind of thing you just want to mock. Minister for Common Sense, as if you can own such a thing. You want to know what most people think? They’ll tell you in a General Election.

So I thought I'd look at some of the changes she plans on bringing in, ready to mock them all

She wants the rainbow lanyards gone. If you work in the civil service you’re meant to be a-political, so to make sure no politics sneaks in, ban ALL lanyards that aren’t the standard issue. OK, so it's not only the rainbow ones, it's saying all lanyards should be standard. That's actually kind of fair. You want the Civil Servants to be kind of grey and boring so stick to that palette in the standard lanyard scheme.

She says universities must prioritise domestic students. Well, if you have to prioritise any, I suppose every nation should prioritise its own.

She plans to crack down on staff networks for minority groups. Ha, what crackpot scheme is this to look more racist? What have staff networks ever done that’s a problem?

Ah, the Civil Service Muslim Network was suspended after officials discussed how to change government policy on Gaza during its meetings. Damn it!

She said consultancy contracts for equality, diversity and inclusion services will be banned. Well, who’s going to be looking out for diversity? Oh, the ministers will do it, to save money.

Many of the ideas brought up seem like good ideas. Look, no one is going to change the world with a lanyard but the principle behind the plan is OK.

If they didn’t sell this as some anti-woke, culture war crusade, you’d realise some of this is common sense. Oooh, that’s a good title.

» Read the source story


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08/05/2024

The “China” Hack

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It looks like there was a three-week hacking operation ‘by China’, which exposed the details of 270,000 armed forces personnel. Oops.

Apparently it’s unclear whether Intelligence Corps members among those whose details have been taken in massive hacking operation. Let’s hope they’re not because that’s embarrassing. People working in intelligence should be more uncrackable. Let’s hope it’s not a case of passwords being set to “password”. They’re in intelligence. Surely they can manage “Password1!”.

I suppose there’s one saving grace, we were hacked by a country that looks like it’s good at IT. They make most of the kit we have. I have a Huawei rooter at home, so there’s a non-zero chance the hack started from my house.

One thing we know is that the Special Forces have not been caught up in the breach, as they use a different, more secure system. Quick question. Why don’t we use that one for everyone? I suppose it wouldn’t make those forces feel special and that’s a bit part of their deal.

The missing information includes identities and bank details and in a few thousand cases, addresses and national insurance numbers. Experts think they’d use this to find people who’d be willing to do their bidding for money. You don’t need to find the poor ones. Just find the ones who drive. With the cost of petrol, I’d turn mole to cover my fuel bills.

Meanwhile, the defence secretary, Grant Shapps, briefed the Commons but he didn’t blame the Chinese state as being culpable. That makes sense. If every there was an MP who China had some compromising online info about, it’s Grant Chapps. Even we know that he’s used several online fake names to set up schemes and we’re on his side.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said, “I do want to reassure people that the Ministry of Defence has already taken the action of removing the network offline and making sure that people affected are supported in the right way.”

So, we’ve turned off the router? That’s our high-tech solution to being hacked? We pulled the cable out the back and hoped it would go away. That’s one above turning it off and on again.

Feel safe now?

» Read the source story


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07/05/2024

[PODCAST] Is Will Farrell A Wrong 'Un?

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Here is your little remainder that (almost) every weekday we have a podcast that covers the news, free and around ten minutes long, to easily fit into your busy day of listening to podcasts while you pretend to be working.

In this episode we're covering the big news...

Worrying Will Ferrell news (is it proof that he's a wrong 'un?)
Long bread in France. Bigger than a baguette. So, a bag?
A common cause of bum ache that involves your mouth.
And a swift look at the frontpages.

Go on, treat yourself to a subscribe.





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03/05/2024

Civil Servants v Rwanda Plan: Why You Got It All Wrong

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A few days since the Rwanda bill was passed and the Government’s scheme got the go-ahead, people have been upset to see headlines claiming:

“Civil service union tries to BLOCK Rwanda crackdown” – Daily Mail
“Civil Service union tries to stop Rwanda flights with judicial review” – The Telegraph

Uh! Typical. Flippin’ civil servants. Uncivil servants more like. The Blob. *angry sounds off*

If you feel upset at this, I understand. But there’s one thing that should cheer you up. That’s not what’s happening.

The headlines tell you the story that civil servants are doing this to thwart (you only really get that word in these kind of stories or superhero films) the will of the elected members of our parliament.

The civil servants haven’t teamed up to sue the Government. The First Division Association (FDA), which is a union that represents senior civil servants in the UK, has initiated a judicial review. Their worry is that, under the current situation, civil servants could be forced to break the law or the Civil Service Code in carrying out the actions the politicians are requesting.

The UK government introduced the “Safety of Rwanda” legislation, which overrides a Supreme Court decision from last November. The court had ruled that Rwanda was not a safe place to send genuine refugees because they could face torture and abuse upon return to their home countries.

I suppose they were saying Rwanda isn’t a safe place to deport to because the home countries of the refugees aren’t safe, which is probably a reason a genuine refugee left there in there first place. It wasn’t saying Rwanda wasn’t safe in and of itself, but that’s a tangent for a different post.

The Government’s bill fixed this problem. They passed a bill which allows ministers to ignore the European Court of Human Rights and directly instruct officials to organize flights to Rwanda. Sorted.

Meanwhile, if you’re a civil servant you signed up to the Civil Service Code. The first rule of the Civil Service Code is, “You do not talk about the Civil Service Code!” The same goes for the second, but further down the document is where it gets good.

The Civil Service Code says that you cannot break international law. So, the Safety of Rwanda Bill declares Rwanda safe but the international law still remains. The Government can legally ignore our Supreme Court but the civil servants are left is a tricky situation.

They have to do what the ministers tell them to AND they have to stay within international law. If they are told to put on a flight to Rwanda you’ve just created a paradox. This is like going back in time to kill your own grandfather. An action I hope is also frowned upon in the Civil Service Code.

The union wants the High Court to rule on whether this aspect of the legislation would put civil servants in conflict with their legal obligations or not.

If the union is successful it could likely see the Government ordered to remove the conflict by holding another parliamentary vote to either specify in law that the UK will ignore the injunctions or to amend the Civil Service Code.

It’s important to note that those outcomes won’t stop the Rwanda plan, they’ll simply stop civil servants having to pick which sackable offence to commit; breaking their own code or not performing their job.

That explains headlines like this:

“Sunak ‘confident’ civil service will enact Rwanda bill despite legal concerns” – The Guardian

Of course he’s confident. He knows this case won’t stop it.

The kind of people who are filling X with comments like, “Typical Civil Servant activists. Oh, they’ll come into the office to thwart some will of the people, won’t they?” are the people who would love one of the outcomes of this case. The UK could be legally ignoring the ECHR. They’d love a bit of that.

Look, I understand that the actual details of the legal action being brought in no way disproves the claims that the Civil Service has been captured by lefty activists, but this story isn’t proof that it has.

You may think the union's claim is a sly way to scupper the flights. Then say that. Knowing the real story doesn't mean you have to start loving the Civil Service. With this story we have a choice. We can understand the details of the real story or we can stay angry at the false one and we can see which option a lot of the newspapers think you prefer.

» Read the source story


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01/05/2024

Fritzl's Release?

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The daily Mail has been trying to worry us again. It had the headline:

Incest monster Josef Fritzl's lawyer insists her client 'is going to be released' from high security prison after 'repeatedly showing remorse' for his crimes as court considers moving him to normal jail

It’s worth noting that “normal jail” part because that’s not the same as saying he’s being released but it still leaves many questions. Is prison even a punishment for someone who liked being a bunker so much?

The Regional Court of Krems met to decide whether a recent court ruling trying to block his bid for freedom should be reversed. What do you have to do to be actually locked up for life?

His lawyer said: 'My client has co-operated with the experts, submitted himself to countless medical assessments, including brain scans, undergone therapy and experts have already long concluded he no longer poses a threat to society.'

I mean, I suppose he isn’t going to do it again at 89. He’d struggle on the stairs.

It’s not about the threat we fear. He isn’t likely to come for us now. At his age you could probably outrun him. But he was never going to come for us anyway. He was a criminal who focused on his own family.

The issue is about the message a prison terms sends telling people not to do something for fear of how strict the punishment would be.

This is a thing where the criminal system should be used to put people off. It’s not like some activities where harsh punishments will just make it go underground. That’s already the problem here.

» Read the source story


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25/04/2024

Auto-Brewery Syndrome

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If you want a good excuse the next time you're pulled over by the police for drink-driving, a man in Belgium has the answer.

This 40-year-old has drink-drive charge thrown out after it emerged he suffers with ‘auto-brewery syndrome’. Well, they say “suffers” but I bet he has a great night in.

This condition is where the body brews alcohol within it. Some call it auto-brewery syndrome. Some call it the next step in human evolution. They may be the ones who survive the cost of living crisis now that a pint has hit £7.

Here’s the worrying bit… the man in question works in a brewery. Talk about taking your work home with you.

He makes alcohol for a living and in his body, so if the factory has a problem would he wee in bottles? And now I will never drink anything from Belgium again.

Currently, only around 20 people globally have been officially diagnosed with the condition but it could be more common and some people are just low-level piss-heads and we don't notice. Scientists are not sure what causes it, but believe it is linked to specific strains of bacteria and yeast found in the gut.

What has he been doing at work that he has brewing yeast up his bum?

In case you are worried about ABS here are some of the official symptoms:

Vomiting
Belching
Dizziness
Loss of coordination
Telling friends you love them
Sleeping with a solid 4


» Read the source story


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Back In Your Day Now Offensive

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Using the phrase 'back in your day' to an older work colleague could count as age harassment, according to an employment judge.

Oh no, don’t do this. Some groups get offended by anything and instead of judging that, every other groups tries to copy. It’s a race to the most offended.

Now it’s old people pretending that saying they’re old is like dropping an age-related N-word. (Which would would be “codger”. But with an A.)

Nursing assistant Margaret Couperthwaite - who is in her 60s - sued for age harassment, alleging a younger colleague suggested an operation had been free on the NHS 'back in your day'.

Firstly, I bet that op was free back then. The NHS was great.

Secondly, it’s worth considering that Margaret was actually given a warning for taking 4 days off with a cut finger (understandable if it’s the finger you use to turn the front door key – how was she supposed to get to work?). She was later late go from her role but only after being fired did she complain about this ageism attack.

And she forget when someone said it to her. I know the memory goes with age but that doesn’t help your case.

So, she lost the tribunal, but in a “let’s have a look what you could’ve won” moment the tribunal said, “If that phrase had been used it would have been 'unwanted conduct'.”

Don’t do this. If you can’t say “back in your day” we won’t be able to say, “Kids these days…” and that’s half the conversations old people have.

» Read the source story


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23/04/2024

How To Keep Kids Away From Mobile Phones

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In “kids these days” news: A headteacher of a school in west London has announced plans to introduce a 12-hour school day. Seeing as normally any conversation about education incudes those who work in it saying they work too many hours, this is quite surprising.

The reason behind the longer hours isn’t anything to do with childcare for tired parents, but that’s why I’m not complaining about it. It’s a bid to tackle pupils’ addiction to smartphones.

The idea is that while the children are in school they can’t be on their phones so to keep them off their phones for longer they will simply stop the children going home. This is like 1% putting them in care.

Pupils at All Saints Catholic College in Notting Hill will be expected to arrive at 7am and stay until 7pm. That’s longer than an average workday. I know that school is suppose to prepare you for the world of employment but you don’t need to be ready to pull 12-hour shifts. Let’s be honest, with AI, you don’t need to be ready for a 2-hour work week.

The school plans for the children to do dodgeball, basketball, art and drama. So don’t worry, these extra hours in school won’t lead to anyone getting cleverer.

I didn’t know a school could just keep you kids if they chose to. There will be some children who don’t even have a phone and they’re being kept away from their family because a headteacher has decided.

Is it the job of a school to teach children to get of their phones? The people loving this are the same people who lose their minds about the nanny state when we see plans for schools to teach children how to brush their teeth.

“It should be the parents doing that,” they will say. “It’s not that expensive to buy a toothbrush and get to work. Tut.”

Well, how about this? “It should be the parents to teach their kids to use their phones a proper amount.” “It’s not that expensive to not buy a phone.”

Or just go in to the school physics lab and get them to build you a massive Faraday cage to go around the school. Problem solved.

» Read the source story


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