Archive for December, 2013|Monthly archive page

The world in 2014

In Satire on December 29, 2013 at 12:36 PM

I gazed into my crystal ball to see what news 2014 will throw up…

‘High-Ella’ goes back to school

Oven fresh from her court case revealing she, previously thought of as a ‘perfect housewife’, had taken Breaking Bad-size quantities of drugs, Nigella Lawson will go back to school to teach kids her own unique brand of home economics. Children will be taught the dangers of drugs, but teachers unions and Daily Mail readers alike will express worries that pupils will fail to heed the advice and come out of her lectures on ‘coke cakes’ with the wrong impression. Or just stare at her tits and not take any of it in at all.

Builders on Page 3

The Sun newspaper will give into pressure from feminist campaigners and stop showing women on page 3. However, Rupert Murdoch, ever the savvy operator, knowing his audience and stoking up controversy for sales, will decide to feature each day a different burly male builder looking sultry on the page, naked except for a hard hat covering his modesty and accompanied by a text box of said builder’s faux-highfalutin opinion on the latest news story. For example: “Dave is really concerned about the possibility of a football match between England and Afghanistan to mark the end of British military involvement in the region. He said: The UK’s military involvement in Afghanistan, morally dubious in the first place, has been marred by corruption and very questionable human rights practices. As such, using the noble pursuit of football as a….well, political football to advance this government’s jingoistic and doctrinaire militarism is morally abhorrent. That said, if the game is played, C’Mon ENGLAND!”

Google does your job

Following its acquisition of Boston Dynamics – makers of slightly sinister walking and talking animal robots, including Big Dog, which the US’ Department of Defense uses – Google will announce a robot capable of replacing you at your job. The robot will be life-size, able to be dressed in a person’s clothes and come fitted with voice-recognition software which will learn the owner’s voice. Advanced models will come with three different settings to accurately mimic different workers’ personas at work – ‘productive’, ‘appear productive’ and ‘hungover’. ‘Productive’ will send emails, work on spreadsheets, make phone calls and such like. ‘Appear productive’ will appear to do the same, but, so as not to arouse suspicion with unusually high productivity figures, will actually browse Facebook and look at funny animal videos for most of the day. While in ‘hungover’ mode, intended for use the morning after big office dos, the robot will not even make any pretense towards productivity, and instead regularly hold its head while occasionally uttering generic comments of regret on the previous night’s antics, such as “Oh god…why did I have those three sambuca bombs last night?!” The internet giant will also start work on a facility that will enable the robot to chat up Rebecca from accounts.

Miley Cyrus converts to feminism

Miley Cyrus – arch provocateur or just latest on the factory line of messed celebrities – will deliver a lecture at Yale, discussing her antics such as twerking and mock-pleasuring herself with a giant foam hand in terms of the emancipation of women, and tracing a line back to feminist thinkers such as Emmeline Pankhurst and Germaine Greer. She will assert that performing fellatio on a hammer is a clear representation of women’s hard-fought sexual autonomy and their eschewal of the patriarchy. She will then film a video for a song called Haterz Be Bitchin’, in which she portrays herself as a 21st-century Vitruvian woman – lying back naked and being spun round on circular contraption in a nightclub, while erotically glorying in all the drinks, some of a pale white hue, being thrown over her face. “It is incredibly empowering,” she will say.

UKIP are not for this world…literally

Mocked by people of all political bents – apart Daily Mail and Express – for wanting to ‘stop the world and get off’, UKIP will actually do just that (kind of), by taking off in a space shuttle to the moon. 50 of their top honchos (ie ‘nut cases’) will depart for our celestial neighbour in order to set up a new civilisation, free from political correctness, gay people, taxes, immigrants (ironically), the BBC, global warming, and, last but certainly not least, the EU. But the bureaucrats in Brussels will still trouble Farage and co. right up to take off. As Farage will, despite its relatively limited aerospace capability, insist on launching from the UK – but be hampered by “red tape” from the EU, insisting on such obtrusive things as decent pilot training and rocket safety. Farage will say: “Why all this useless Brussels red tape?! Once again, Brussels fatcats are just trying to stop enterprising (geddit?) Britons going about their business. They are a huge reason we are leaving, but they are trying to make us stay!” And, on what the moon holds for his brigade of space pioneers, he will say: “I have it on bloody good authority – a bloke called Wallace and his pooch – that there is some rather fine cheese on the moon. Better than all that French rubbish anyway”

Russell Brand tries a rebrand

After a staunch attack on free market capitalism, Russell Brand will decide to get “inside the belly of the beast” to better understand it, by becoming a regional manager of a HSBC branch. He will say: “I wanted to brrrrrrroooaaden my horrrrriiiizzons. I’ve been saying capitalism is shit and all that, but then I thought don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it. And I can’t really say I have, what with being too fucked on drugs for about a decade after being of working age, then doing this ‘making people laugh’ lark, which does make some moooooooolah, as they say, but isn’t really the syyyysssstttttemmmm.” Brand will go on to get dismissed for ‘improper conduct’, including joining up points on a sales figures Powerpoint to make out the outline of a masturbating monk.

“Basketball diplomacy”

Dennis Rodman will, sponsored by betting company Paddy Power, travel to North Korea to train citizens for an exhibition basketball game against what is believed to be a roster of former NBA stars. The match will mark the birthday of North Korean “supreme leader” Kim Jong Un on January 8, with whom the wildchild of 90s NBA basketball is “friends for life”. The trip will come amid escalating tension in the country, linked to the recent execution of Kim Jong Un’s uncle, a successful nuclear launch and long-standing controversy over the repressive country’s widespread poverty and human rights abuses.“I mean, whatever his uncle has done, and whoever’s done anything in North Korea, I have no control over that,” Rodman will tell Reuters, without apparent irony given the huge propaganda tool the basketball game will be. “I mean, these things have been going on for years and years.” Again, said with no apparent irony.

This event, though, is ACTUALLY BEING PLANNED, and Rodman has actually said those things (and more lunacy). Dear reader, I shit you not.

Campaigners protest over “gender apartheid”

In reportage on December 12, 2013 at 9:16 PM

Britain was yesterday mourning the death of Nelson Mandela at his memorial in Soweto, praising him for bringing the world out of the dark times of apartheid into a more enlightened, progressive world.

Or maybe not, at least according to a group of 100+ protesters outside the Euston offices of Universities UK, who believe the higher education representative body’s new guidance facilitates “gender apartheid”, and that its chief executive Nicola Dandridge is therefore not fit for public office.

The official document (pdf, p27), intended as “guidance” for “autonomous” institutions, presents a hypothetical situation of a widely advertised speech involving a “representative of an ultra-orthodox religious group who has been invited to speak at an event to discuss faith in the modern world”, and who “wishes for the event to be segregated according to gender”.

It goes on to list the various complex considerations, such as equality law, freedom of expression considerations, the audience space being safe for women and ensuring that the segregation is side-by-side rather than back-to-front and that “both women and men are being treated equally, as they are both being segregated in the same way.”

Universities UK concludes no explicit guidance should be issued against gender segregation and that “it should therefore be borne in mind […] that in these circumstances, concerns to accommodate the wishes or beliefs of those opposed to segregation should not result in a religious group being prevented from having a debate in accordance with its belief system.”

They add: “[if] imposing an unsegregated seating area in addition to the segregated areas contravenes the genuinely-held religious beliefs of the group hosting the event, or those of the speaker, the institution should be mindful to ensure that the freedom of speech of the religious group or speaker is not curtailed unlawfully.”

The guidance has also been endorsed by the National Union of Student (NUS).

As reported in The Independent, vice-president Colum McGuire said: “We fully support UUK guidance and worked with them to advise on best practice in these matters.

“We encourage our members to follow this to assess the risk of all speakers to determine the action they should take to protect students and keep them safe.”

While not as violent, policed or as substantial as the infamous Millbank student protests, university privatisation protests at the Univesity of Sussex in March or other recent protests, the sentiment among the 100 gathered in north London, on the UN’s Human Rights Day, was just as impassioned – ending with several chants such as “our tradition, struggle not submission” and “fear is your weapon, courage is ours”

The list of twelve speakers included The Independent’s Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, comedian Kate Smurthwaite and joint-organiser and activist Maryam Namazie, who fled to Britain in 1980 after the suppression of the Iranian Revolution and now leads the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain.

Referring to University UK’s claim that side-by-side segregation can be separate but “equal”, Ms Namazie said: “Isn’t that what the racist apartheid regime of South Africa said when it was criticised?

“We knew then, as we know now, that separate is never equal. Segregation is never applied to those who are considered equal. In this case, superior men versus inferior women.

“Universities UK say there is too much fuss over a hypothetical case study. This is far from hypothetical; we have at least 20 universities across Britain that have already allowed segregated meetings. For shame!

“University College of London, Leicester University, Northampton University…

“What Universities UK is doing is institutionalising this gender apartheid.”

She went on to decry how rights language was being used to “endorse misogyny and inequality”, question if a BNP member requesting racial segregation would be accommodated, and ask, if segregation was so central to Muslims’ belief, why they don’t segregate on public transport, the high street and in the rest of academia.

The Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA) is one group to have supported the new guidance.

They organised a gender-segregated speech, Islam vs Atheism, at UCL on 9 March, which scientist and atheist activist Lawrence Krauss walked out of due to gender-segregation of the crowd – returning only after the organisers had allowed people to sit where they want.

UCL then barred the iERA from conducting speeches at the university in future, despite the group’s claims that they did not enforce the segregation, merely “facilitated” it, and a mixed area was offered.

The stance on the matter within Islam is far from uniform, however.

Journalist Ms Alibhai-Brown, a strong campaigner for multiculturalism and moderate Islam, said: “This square should be full of parents, students, student unions, feminists and Muslims. Where are they? Where are they?!

“If they don’t come out, we’re losing this battle because of absolute cowardice on the part of people who should care much more than they do. I am so disappointed – I wanted more [people].

“This is why this building [University UK’s] thinks we are nothing; thinks this protest is nothing. We’ve got to move and not let this catch on.”

And, in a very forthright written statement, Imam Dr. Taj Hargey from the Muslim Educational Centre in Oxford, said: “This trendy gender apartheid in the UK is advanced by mindless militants who are financed by malignant petrodollars to recreate a mythical 7th-century dispensation that is structured around the false notion of rigid public demarcation between men and women.”

There were some comic moments in the speeches, however, such as when Helen Palmer, of the Central London Humanist Group, said Universities UK’s guidance seemed a “comedy ruse” to promote Monty Python’s reunion.

“Women queuing at the front of a lecture theatre wearing false beards, saying [mock manly voice] I’m a man and so is my friend Daisy…uh, I mean Dave. Dave is definitely a man, so we can sit here can’t we? Definitely.”

“But this isn’t satire – this is Britain in 2013. This is 100 years since the Suffragetes went to die for women’s rights in the UK.

“This is the memorial of the day when the amazing Nelson Mandela has passed away. Have we not learnt anything from history and the sacrifices and struggles of these incredibly brave people, fighting against all forms of segregation for equality?

“I cannot think of a single case of segregation on religious grounds that has had a positive outcome.”

And Kate Smurthwaite talked about a Twitter argument she had with someone who called her a “white supremacist” and was angry that she would “dare, in his words, to speak for Muslim women”.

She said: “He has already spotted the irony in what he was saying, in arguing about which one of us is better qualified to speak on behalf of Muslim women, which for the record I’m really not trying to do.”

“But if I have to, I’m pretty sure his imaginary friend is outranked by my vagina.”

Universities UK said their guidance is merely hypothetical, not prescriptive, and allows institutions to reject segregation for reasons other than free speech.

Inside the mad world of Leo McKinstry

In Opinion on December 12, 2013 at 7:20 PM

I always think the Daily Express gets an easy ride, given the common contempt for the The Daily Mail, or the “Hate Mail”, “Daily Fail” or, my favourite, “Daily Wail”. For the Daily Express is, believe it or not, a lot more crazy than the Mail. I know this because my job is basically researching from the papers. I’d know it just from the headlines and pictures, but I do read it occasionally and must admit I get some sort of perverse enjoyment out of it. Reading the opinion pages is often akin to voyeuristically looking into the mind of a madman (it is nearly always a man writing on the ‘hard stuff’ like immigration, crime, and immigration).

I think it mostly escapes the opprobrium that meets the Mail because it’s just such a risible newspaper – or ‘newspaper’. Maybe their front page involves jumped-up cures to every ailment under the sun and supposedly catastrophic weather so often that people just think it’s just harmless guff for old farts. (The day after Mandela died, and George Osborne announced his Autumn statement, they still led on the weather).

And in a sense it is harmless. I very much doubt any Daily Express reader has any real power in the world – corporate or political – almost by definition (ie to have such a standing you would almost certainly need to at least have a modicum of intelligence, which one would hope one would use to not buy the Daily Express). But on the other hand, the paper sells nearly as many copies as The Guardian, The Independent and i combined (although these tend to appeal to younger people who will read them more online, and can do so for free). If it was just some grizzled hacks ranting into the wind, that would be fine. But the number of such readers, and the stubbornness of their views, is arguably causing focus group-loving politicians to tack to the Right, in a manner many consider dangerous (myself partly). A recent poll shows that Britons think recent immigrants make up some 31% of the population. They actually make up 13% (around 15% accounting for illegal immigrants). And around 87% of people are white. One way or another this is seriously going to affect race relations and policy, and I don’t think it’s too much of a jump to suggest the Daily Express and its ilk are largely responsible.

It’s like the school bully’s side kick, chipping in with a snidey but unthreatening, unfunny remark after the bully has done his bullying. (I think it’s actually testament to the success and influence of the Mail that the Left feels such a huge need to attack it. The Leni Riefenstahl films of journalism you could say – evil, but effective.) You can see the Express’ insecurity in the way it proudly emblazons, in a big red circle in its top corner, ’10p’, and then ‘cheaper than the Daily Mail’ in small print.

I read one particularly odious piece of bile in this Monday’s paper, from regular columnist Leo McKinstry, a bloated old bag of bigotry and self-righteousness, who makes Richard Littlejohn look positively urbane and who insists he isn’t racist despite basically every week writing an opinion piece painting immigrants as tax-dodging scroungers, killers (wannabe or actual) or both and more.

I completely accept that immigration – in terms of the policy set by the state at least – is an issue, and it’s one I’ve got mixed opinions on. I have little more respect for,on the other side of the spectrum, the insufferable, leftier-than-thou Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. But at least her hugely pro-immigration stance, if naive, derives from a sense of basic decency. (And I respect The Independent in general and think most of its readers are balanced, sane individuals.) But this piece, like McKinstry’s usual, was just such fucking detritus that I felt the need to point out it’s pure unreason. I’m sure, as you’ve made the good choice to read Planet Ivy, I’m preaching to the choir, of people not madly and pathologically opposed to immigration. But, guessing you’re not regular Express readers, hopefully the following will be an entertaining or enlightening insight into the workings of a madman….

One thing you can give him – he doesn’t beat around the bush. Heading the piece “We can’t trust our politicians to act over immigration”, he starts:

“Across the land there is rightly a profound sense of injustice at how we have to support a growing army of foreigners who have never contributed a penny to our country.”

The idea of hardening views on immigration is true, somewhat at least. UKIP has gained much more support in recent years and two of their core (only?) messages are much less immigration and EU exit. (Funny how Leo is much more supportive of immigrants, though, when they are good at running and throwing stuff and winning us gold medals). Ed Miliband would not for nothing have issued a mea culpa on Labour’s previous liberal attitude on immigration. And this shift in opinion may be because it is believed immigrants “have never contributed a penny to our country”, given the one-sided scaremongering the Express et al trade in. But it is not because there is much truth to the statement. Most studies find immigrants’ net fiscal contribution to the UK in the positive. Which makes sense really; if one takes up residence in another country it suggests they are healthy, mobile and ambitious – all desirable qualities in the job market.

Leo then says politicians are engaging in tough rhetoric on immigration, but “no genuine action”. What about toughening up the student visa system and even closing some higher education institutions in the belief they were bogus? What about the ‘go home or face arrest’ vans? The planned crackdown on ‘health tourism’? All of which have been largely condemned. And while it is true net migration is significant and up recently, immigration into the UK has fallen dramatically under the Coalition.

It gets worse:

“Brimming with self righteous vanity about their supposed tolerance they have turned our country into a soft touch, where free loading, even criminal foreigners are treated by the state with far more respect than decent, hard working Britons. Thanks to ruinous policies our justice system is now used as a battering ram against our civilisation, while our benefits system is a magnet for alien parasites and fraudsters.”

Firstly, ‘alien parasites and fraudsters’ – wow. That’s a lot of hate. At least I suppose you can’t technically be deemed ‘racist’ if you believe those your invective is aimed at are, in fact, a different species. Actually, according to 2012 figures, around 17% of UK nationals claim benefits compared to 7% of immigrants. But hey, let’s not let that get in the way of a good rant. One of the few times he admits (a few) immigrants do jobs, he damns them for that too, presenting a rather tricky catch-22.

He then details the case of “Somalian rapist” Mustafa Abdullahi, sentenced to ten years for a sex attack, who served half that term. There was, almost inevitably, an “only” inserted in there, but it may well have been legally appropriate. He “could not be deported” due to fears for his safety in Somalia (it’s not exactly rainbows and cuddles there, I gather) and his human right to a family life – his mother living in the UK. And he notes a similar case when a woman who committed benefit and identity fraud was not deported due to her four kids.

But then McKinstry pulls out his trump card – the old, blind and (inevitably) devout Christian lady. Jane Phillips was robbed of £50 when giving a quid to a Romanian Big Issue vendor, who admittedly does sound like a nasty piece of work. (And indeed looks it – a mugshot is included online. Then again, does anyone look good in a mugshot?). He has, apparently, a conviction for mobile phone theft and has been barred from several shops for antisocial conduct, and should not be allowed to sell the magazine as he “lives in a £250,000 house with his family”.

So, we learn from this article, a grand total of three UK immigrants have committed crimes (out of a total of around 8.3 million). GET RID OF THEM ALL!!!