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Author: Ali

Today in “Headlines we don’t need to edit”

Posted in Headlines

Sky Original drama Chernobyl is based on a terrifying true story – here’s what really happened

History. A subject The Sun thinks we are unfamiliar with, and what this headline will surely go down in.

Harry and Meghan pay tribute to Diana asnd her work with Aids sufferers as they declare ‘love is love’ and use their Instagram account to ‘shine a light’ on LGBTQ+ community with series of photos  

C’mon, Daily Mail. American spelling is one thing, but…

How to wash your hands properly

Thank Goodness for The Guardian. If it hadn’t been for this article, I would still have been cleaning my hands with elephant dung. Turns out soap and water is the way to go.

FPR Comment: Our stance on Climate Change v The Sun

Posted in FPR Comment

Here at FrontPageRage, we prefer not to take sides, politically speaking. It doesn’t matter whether a paper is Lefty, Righty, Wrongy, Wonky – we praise the good, and call out the bad. That means we can’t take sides on things like Brexit, which party should be in power, Scottish Independence, or whether it should be acceptable to put pineapple on pizza. To paraphrase Groundskeeper Willie: we hesitate to lend our support to either side; be it the right one, or the obviously wrong one. This being said, some issues are so important that remaining on the fence would be akin to permanently impaling ourselves on it, and Climate Change is one of those issues. The planet is suffering irreparable damage, and if we do not act swiftly and decisively, there will be a climatic shift of irreversible catastrophic proportions. That’s just a fact. The “debate” is over. And if you are one of those people who doesn’t know why that statement in bold above is true: You’re not being shut down; you are still allowed to ask questions – just get someone who DOES know the answers to your questions to explain it to you. Don’t bring your questions to the political stage like they’re equally valid.

This is why we take issue with the terrible coverage regarding Climate Change in The Sun. Let’s start with their most recent “gotcha” headline; Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury: Exhibit A:

NOT SO GREEN 

Eco campaigner Sadiq Khan branded hypocrite after racking up enough air miles to reach the MOON

There are several ways that this headline can be improved. (A couple of suggestions were from Grammarly, not from me). First of all, can The Sun please inform us which Airline Company is offering flights to the Moon? ‘Cause I’m researching the heck outta that. As long as the Return Flight doesn’t leave without me, and I’m not left stranded in the Van Allen belt expected to go the rest of the way via replacement space bus, I shall put in a note of interest. Judging by how far you have to fly just to get air miles, the sky should be black with smoke by now. Hey, don’t look at me like that. I’m not the one that wrote a headline that could easily be interpreted that way. Alas no; what they actually mean is that in total, Sadiq Khan PLUS staff have travelled a number of miles by air that comes to a figure higher than the distance in miles to the Moon. Sadiq Khan personally has only done almost 32000 of those miles. So again, the headline is misleading. That’s just for starters.

The Sun helpfully provides a map of where the Mayor of London (or maybe just his aides, who are being counted for some reason) has flown to – just in case their readers don’t know where Montreal, New York, Austin, Berlin, Davos and Mumbai are. Which brings me to the main question I wish to ask The Sun about this: How would they like him to travel to those places? According to my right-hand lady, who is an expert on almost all things travel, it IS possible to sail from London to Montreal, but it would cost about 3 times as much and would take TWO WEEKS. I have a hunch that the good people of London would prefer that he take the option that involves spending less of their money, and less time out of his office. After all, it is acknowledged later in the article that he was on official business. The right wing loves to use the non-sequitur that if you care about the environment and the climate crisis, you are not allowed to use aeroplanes. According to The Sun, Sadiq Khan is a hypocrite. Let’s not beat about the bush with “critics say”. THEY say. A Tory that we’ve never heard of has said that the Mayor is “open to the charge of” hypocrisy.

A discussion about whether or not the Mayor of London should be visiting these places in the first place is possibly one worth having. But that’s not the angle that The Sun is taking. They want to brand him a hypocrite for the sheer fact he was on a plane. No matter what your view on Climate Change, it is a simple fact that the planet is sufficiently large that air travel is the only practical means of getting between certain places. It is possible to simultaneously accept and resent this fact. I don’t think Rangers should be playing in the SPFL, but I still make money betting on them to win. Am I a hypocrite, or am I just playing the cards I have been dealt? Sadiq Khan did not commission the flights. They were commercial flights that would still have taken off and landed whether he got on them or not. He was not personally contributing to the problem. The Sun throws statistics around like there’s no tomorrow; quoting how long it would take a forest to offset the carbon dioxide caused by that much plane travel, and the fact the travel is 30 times’ that of the average Brit. But Sadiq Khan is not the average Brit – he’s the fricking Mayor of London. I’m not surprised that he takes more air flights than me for the same reason I’m not surprised that a taxi driver spends more time in petrol stations than I do.

But hey-ho; The Sun wants to talk about hypocrisy, so let’s talk about hypocrisy, shall we? Is it not hypocritical to dismiss the case being put forward by Extinction Rebellion, while lauding the very record temperatures that are a by-product of what Extinction Rebellion are warning us about? This, we reported a couple of weeks ago. Furthermore, I think it is hypocritical to accuse the Green Party of ignoring science on fracking while ignoring science on Climate Change. We have 12 years left to save the planet. Say what you like about Extinction Rebellion, but at least they are taking that seriously. To say that you can’t take them seriously because they are writing from prison, or dismiss their demands as ridiculous, is to NOT take the science seriously. There’s no middle ground here. As a National Newspaper, if you believed that report, you would be backing Extinction Rebellion to the hilt and you’d be putting it on the front page on a daily basis. But The Sun’s lead article today, if memory serves, was what a bunch of celebrities were wearing at the Met Gala. Maybe I’m the odd one out here, but I am more interested in leaving the planet in a habitable state for generations to come than what is being worn over a pair of breasts that will take 450 years to biodegrade.

Our position on Climate Change is this: Climate Change is real, and while we believe it is human-made, the more pertinent question is whether it can be human-unmade. We believe (or we hope) that something can be done about it, but it does require decisive action and that action may be an inconvenience to us. As for The Sun, they may have accepted the writing on the wall when it comes to Climate Change, but their stance seems to be that the world is only worth saving if it can be done quietly, and without bothering anyone. If we want to have a decent quality of life 20 years from now, we’ve got to be prepared to make more effort and spend more time doing it than it takes to file our rubbish in the correct bin.

Article Breakdown: The Times v The SNP

Posted in Article Breakdown

The Times:

Firearms statistics mask rise in serious gun crime

TIMES FAILS TO MASK ANTI-SNP AGENDA

Politicians spin a story the way they think favours them. Papers do the same. Here is a classic case of both in action. In a new segment, Article Breakdown, we take you through the entire article, adding our own comments.

Serious gun crime in Scotland is on the rise with a marked increase in attempted murder, armed robbery and possession with intent to kill.

Humza Yousaf, the justice secretary, lauded new figures showing that firearms offences were at their lowest level since 1980 but the statistics masked an increase in the most serious crimes.

When I read this, my first thought was: “Isn’t ALL gun crime serious?” Apparently not. I couldn’t find a standardised definition of what is and is not serious, however. So one assumes that this is The Times’ own criterion. As for Humza Yousaf – I would dismiss this as a case of “politician is selective in use of facts” but a look at the actual numbers shows that The Times is far more guilty of this.

There were two gun related homicides in 2017-18 compared with just one in either of the previous two years.

Really?!?! TWO? Why don’t you just go for mass hysteria and say they’ve doubled?!

Attempted murders more than doubled from four to ten in the three-year period, and there were nearly twice as many incidents of possession with intent to endanger life, commit crime and cause fear of violence, up from 35 to 64.

Sorry I suggested it. This is the problem you have when gun crime is so low in the first place. Not much has to change for there to be an “increase”. Literally, one more murder than the previous period was all that was required to double the first statistic. In other words, the most serious crime of the lot has risen by one.

The figures were released days after the former boxer Bradley Welsh, 48, who had a cameo appearance in Trainspotting 2, was shot dead outside his Edinburgh home in Chester Street. A man arrested in connection with the shooting has been released pending further inquiries.

And do you think it would have been more responsible for the Justice Secretary to say: “Everyone, take cover! Gun crime is out of control!”? Whether you agree with his choice of statistic or not, it is his job to tell the public they have no reason to be alarmed after an incident like this, and pointing out that gun crime was at its lowest level since 1980 was a good way to do it. Two things I would add. First, overall crime being the lowest in 39 years is a far better indicator than one year to the next, unless there is a significant change, which there wasn’t. Secondly, I am grateful I live in a country where gun violence is so rare that any incident is headline news. Since Bradley Welsh was murdered, there have been five mass shootings in America – that’s not counting any incidents where less than 3 people got shot.

Armed robbery rose from 26 to 34 incidents in 2017-18, and serious assault with a firearm rose from five to eight.

The record low number of overall incidents is due to a decrease in less serious gun crimes, including steep falls in gun-related vandalism, from 45 incidents to 14, and reckless conduct from 74 to 37. Mr Yousaf said: “These figures show we are continuing to make progress in tackling firearms misuse with offences now at their lowest level for any single year since 1980.

Both those figures are significant drops, especially when compared to the earlier statistics. 14 is less than a third of 45, and both those figures are many times higher than TWO. So Humza Yousaf probably felt justified in reaching that conclusion. If you really want to get into the party politics of it all, couldn’t the SNP claim that the numbers had been falling, but has risen since they lost their majority in Holyrood?

“While firearms offences are rare, we know that just one such incident can have a devastating impact on victims and the wider community, so we are determined to continue working with our partners to reduce these numbers.

Does anyone have a problem with this bit? This is pretty much exactly what you would expect a serving Justice Secretary to say. Next!

“We are the only part of Great Britain to license air weapons. Since our licensing legislation was passed in 2015-16 offences involving an air weapon have fallen by a third.”

Which is really interesting. I note The Times has no comment to add to any of this. The data for Scotland is also significantly lower than any other country in the UK (even when adjusting for population size).

Assistant Chief Constable Steve Johnson, Police Scotland lead for specialist crime and intelligence, said: “We welcome the fact that firearms offences are at a historic low. Our officers work tirelessly to reduce the number of firearms on our streets.”

Well, there you have it. If he thought the comparatively slight rise in violent crime constituted reason for more concern, he would say so.

In a two-week firearms surrender campaign in June last year 474 firearms, 690 air weapons and 337 lots of ammunition were handed in to police.

No further comment, letting the statistic speak for itself. See, you can do it.

The Daily Mail has been a gold mine today

Posted in Headlines

Revealed: Woman who broke wrist in a Prince Philip car crash then slammed decision not to prosecute him is herself facing motoring charges for ‘speeding then failing to name driver’

Isn’t it an outrage that someone facing justice for breaking the law demands that the same applies to other law breakers?

‘Just get out there and jail the lot of them’: Fury of commuters and businesses’ as eco-warriors cause a third day of chaos in protests that have cost London £12million (and there’s STILL a pink boat in the middle of Oxford Circus)

Businesses have spent BILLIONS trying to hide the truth about Climate Change; but now they’re annoyed that people trying to save the planet are costing them money

Half an hour from COLLAPSE: Firefighters saved Notre Dame with moments to spare reveals minister – but blaze still took its toll on priceless artifacts after crews failed to find the fire for 23 minutes after first smoke alarm sounded

Confusion as Daily Mail seriously underestimates the size of Notre Dame – 23 minutes is pretty damn quick

Is Meghan writing Charles’ letters too? Royal watchers say American spellings in Prince’s letter to President Macron after the Notre Dame fire are not ‘appropriate for future British King’

Daily Mail: Let’s moan about the use of “American spelling” even though WE used the American spelling of the word “artefacts” in another headline on the same day!

Meghan ‘wants an American nanny to take care of Baby Sussex – and may even hire a MALE one ‘

SARAH VINE: Oh baby, Meghan’s got a lot to learn when it comes to the unexpected complications childbirth can bring

Could YOU be the Queen’s new gardener? Royal family is seeking a green-fingered staff member for £69-a-day – but the successful applicant gets to LIVE at Buckingham Palace

No, we’re totally not obsessed with the Royal family! Also, being a nanny is a woman’s work.

Today in “Headlines we don’t need to edit”

Posted in Headlines

Anger as sex toys sold next to kids’ shampoo in Dundee Poundland

Above: This article in the Dundee Evening Telegraph is Head and Shoulders above anything else we can find.

US fire chief explains why Notre Dame blaze could not be controlled any quicker – as French firefighters reveal Trump’s plan to dump water from the air would have DESTROYED the building

Above: Daily Mail reports that Donald Trump displays his usual level of compassionate understanding.

Dad sparks backlash after moaning about not getting enough attention from hospital staff as wife gave birth

Above: I literally need to do nothing with this Daily Record article. Read it.

FPR Comment: Comedy and Twitter

Posted in FPR Comment

Twitter’s ‘PC brigade’ aren’t killing comedy – they’re shining a light on bigotry

GUARDIAN: LET’S MAKE A DEFINITIVE STATEMENT ABOUT A NUANCED SUBJECT

Dogs aren’t defecating on the ground; they’re fertilising the grass. Theresa May is not an incompetent leader; she’s inherited a terrible mess. Jokes are not funny; they make a point about the way the world is. Do you see what these three statements have in common? They are all false dichotomies. Newspapers are quite good at these and today’s guilty party du jour is the Guardian.

The quoted headline is a very much off-the-fence piece about Twitter’s role in regulating and distributing comedy. I just knew before I clicked on it that I was going to have some kind of issue with it, but I couldn’t immediately put my finger on what it was. It’s not like Jack Bernhardt is particularly wrong in the points he makes. He just misses the point – there is no fence. The three statements, at least the way they are written, assume that one clause or the other is true, when in fact it is entirely possible that both are.  And so it is with Bernhardt’s headline. Twitter is not either “killing comedy” or shining a light on bigotry – it is doing both.

The article comes on the back of Shane Allen’s comments that the Twitter PC brigade was imposing a “Victorian moral code” on comedians, damaging comedy’s ability to “test boundaries and challenge orthodoxies”. I think Bernhardt took this too much at face value, citing Fleabag and Derry Girls as examples of shows that don’t have a Victorian moral code and do push boundaries. Just because there are examples of somewhat edgy shows that have been supported and not destroyed by Twitter, it doesn’t necessarily follow that the so-called PC brigade will celebrate all good shows. There are examples of snowballs every year, but that does not mean the planet isn’t getting hotter. It is entirely conceivable that Derry Girls could continue to be as good as it has always been, yet make one joke that apparently pushes the boundary too far and all of a sudden Twitter has turned. What Shane Allen was voicing was a legitimate concern. Yes, it is apparently possible for comedy to challenge us without it offending anyone that matters. But there is no guarantee you will get away with it and so there is plenty of incentive to keep it clean. Bernhardt brings up that cartoon in the Mash Report. It was generally well received online – but does anyone else think the fact that it was making fun of two very un-PC people might have had a hand in that? And let’s not forget that Piers Morgan tried to use social media to take down the Mash Report, but it turned into a popularity contest and that didn’t work out too well for him. It’s also worth remembering that “Victorian moral code” is, in this case, a generic term to denote regress; otherwise jokes about 6-year-olds dying during a factory shift would be perfectly acceptable. I’m not saying they wouldn’t be anyway, but how many of us are experts on what does and does not amuse Victorians?

I’m not sure what the fact that Allen has been at the helm of BBC comedy while 1970’s shows have been rebooted has got to do with the price of tea. Perhaps Bernhardt felt that pointing this out equated to a “zinger”. From a comedic standpoint maybe it does; he’s the expert. From an argumentative one, no. Complaining about other people regressing humour toward an older standard whilst also trying to revive classic shows doth not a hypocrite make. Indeed trying to suggest it does is, in my humble opinion, lazy journalism. After all, could Allen not claim that trying to recapture the glory of those classic comedies was a result of this regress he is wary of? In a world where someone in his job will be increasingly paranoid about commissioning something “offensive”, surely rehashing a sacred institution is a safe bet? At least, it would be in terms of offence – whether it is funny or not is another matter.

To say that the PC brigade “does not kill comedy” is incredibly optimistic. Unless you want to go down the route of “it must be true because comedians still exist”, then the argument is clearly false. Comedians have been fired for jokes; that’s just a fact. Ask Gilbert Godfried or Catherine Deveney. And again, even if you think those sackings were justified, you’re missing the point. Such is the power of Twitter. James Gunn was fired for an old joke, Stephen Colbert was almost cancelled for a joke taken out of context (see later), and Joss Whedon (not specific to comedy but an excellent example) was bullied off of Twitter by a mob of people claiming to be feminists who didn’t like a storyline in Avengers: Age of Ultron – these people somehow having missed the memo that Whedon was the genius behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer, not just a great feminist show but one of the greatest TV shows of all time. Also, it doesn’t have to be comedians. It can be a couple of friends sharing a joke between themselves that someone with a stick up their rear end happens to overhear. It’s not hard to find a well-known comedian talking about the worry they have about being held to too high a standard or having already told the joke that will get them fired (for example Jack Whitehall). So the premise that mass groups on Twitter do not constitute a threat to freedom of comedic expression is not one I buy.

Bernhardt then defends against an attack nobody was mounting. “It might seem unfair to take Allen to task… but his comments have weight”, he writes. In other words, he’s writing not because of the context in which the comments were made, but who was making them. No. You’re absolutely allowed to have an opinion on Allen’s comments; just like I’m allowed to have an opinion on yours. It might be different if these were comments made in private that somehow became public, but Allen knew what he was saying. Presumably, he stands by those comments. Allen is fair game. So is Bernhardt.

Which brings us to a central point of Bernhardt’s article: that comments like these make it easy for the right wing to caricature social media as censors of comedy. But do you know what makes it even easier? Yes; social media censoring comedy. Allen’s comments in isolation mean nothing; if they didn’t correspond with reality, there wouldn’t be a story. It’s easy for the right wing to say that there is a PC brigade on Twitter because – well, there is. There are plenty of examples (see above). Plenty of examples are plenty too many; one example of the “PC brigade” going after an innocent target is proof enough. If you want to shine a light on bigotry go ahead – but don’t be wrong. That is a big ask; folks on Twitter are not renowned for due diligence. As for phrases such as “check your privilege” and “identity politics” – is Bernhardt seriously trying to claim that this doesn’t happen? “Check your privilege” is as common in online debates as a Dalek in Doctor Who – not there all the time, but does appear more often than it should.

All right then, let’s talk about context. According to Bernhardt, “taken out of context” is a go-to response for comedians that have been caught out and the defence often does not stand up to scrutiny. He cites two examples where – according to him – context doesn’t improve the situation. The first is Louis CK’s joke about the Parkland survivors and I agree – that was neither funny nor appropriate. That is, however, just my opinion. He goes on to say: “Did we really miss a wider comedic point buried in Mark Meechan’s antisemitic videos that context could have provided? No.” Here, I wholeheartedly disagree. Markus Meechan’s video – there was one video; so the plural form should not have been used in any case – was NOT antisemitic. Unless saying that Nazis were “the least cute thing I can think of” is antisemitic now; I must have missed that meeting. It wasn’t buried in the video at all; it was quite plain to see for those who have watched it (which most people who say it is antisemitic have not actually done). Thus, just going by the two examples Bernhardt gave, I would have to conclude that the “out of context” defence is valid more often than he thinks it is. Since we’re mainly talking about Twitter here, let’s talk about #cancelcolbert shall we? An excellent example of attempted firing by someone that didn’t get the joke. In fairness to her, there’s no particular reason she should have understood the context at first, but I think it is also fair to ask that if you’re going to call for someone to be fired, you better make sure you fully understand the context first. Otherwise, you get Clarksongate. Sorry, Mr. Bernhardt, I don’t think it was Shane Allen that was missing the point.

Of course, none of this means that Twitter cannot be used for the forces of goodness. It is a fast and effective means of sharing information. But a racist joke that doesn’t get shared on Twitter is still a racist joke. Of course, in some circumstances, it is good to share so that someone is exposed for who they really are. The flip side of that particular coin is someone’s distasteful views might get more publicity than it is entitled to get. The information sharing, I can generally get behind. But that is hardly ever what Twitter is these days. The bottom line is that Twitter is just a tool. Like all tools, it can be used for both good and evil purposes. It’s on the internet; that’s really the first clue. To say that it is only used for one is, if nothing else, rather naive.

Posted in Spoof

GUARDIAN: Democrats set new deadline for release of Trump tax returns

MAYOR OF DRUMNADROCHIT SETS NEW DEADLINE FOR UNVEILING OF NESSIE

The Mayor of Drumnadrochit caused confusion at Holyrood yesterday when she sent a request to the LNMO (Loch Ness Monster’s Office) demanding that Nessie reveal herself to the general public on, or before, Tuesday 23rd April. Some have said the alarm felt by some MSPs is an “over-reaction” – but to be fair, the primary method for contacting the LMNO is of course a written letter stuffed into a corked, glass bottle and thrown as far as possible into Loch Ness – so it was always going to make waves.

The notoriously camera-shy Loch Ness Monster, affectionately known as Nessie, has always shunned ANY public appearance whatsoever, citing some lame excuse about contractual obligations to the BBC to stay out of sight to avoid contradicting the once-popular children’s TV show, Family Ness. When asked if Nessie could be released from said contract, a spokesperson for the BBC, Boris Johnson, claimed: “I haven’t the foggiest idea what you’re talking about”. Many take this as confirmation that the BBC does not intend to pursue legal action if Nessie were to make a public appearance, roughly some 35 years after the show was axed. Thus Nessie is free to appear if she so chooses, but still declines to do so.

This is the first major action for the Mayor of Drumnadrochit since she defected from the USA last month. Stateside, she had been heavily involved with trying to force President Trump to release his tax returns, but she moved to Scotland to “pursue more realistic goals”. Nessie’s lack of appearance is a political hot potato, as locals see her as a boost to tourism, but consecutive no-shows have given rise to the movement calling themselves “Concern Unto Nessie Truth”, which advocates that the whole thing is a myth. When the Mayor’s office was asked to respond to claims she didn’t exist, they brusquely replied “Of course the Mayor of Drumnadrochit exists”. This confused statement may have been responding to claims that an internet website made up the role of Mayor of Drumnadrochit for the benefit of any readers outside of Scotland, as they probably wouldn’t know what a Lord Provost was. When asked what other goals she had that she felt were more realistic than Trump releasing his tax returns, the Mayor cited many ambitions, including Scotland winning the World Cup, and making a success of Brexit.

The main complaint from the Mayor’s detractors is the futility in making a demand for something that will obviously never happen. “This demand is a horrendous waste of taxpayer’s money” complained Chris Grayling. Others have piled on the criticism. One Detective Inspector Crabbe called it “pie in the sky”, while a well-known children’s entertainer, whose name we can only give as Peppa, said the Mayor was “making a pig’s ear out of the whole thing”. Scottish commentators have also leapt to Nessie’s defence, with Oor Wullie calling it a “bucket of nonsense” and Alex Salmond labelling it “harassment”. (We’ve got loads of these). “I’m not sure why this is news.” admitted one editor. “What is the point in demanding something you know you are not going to get?”

Posted in Article

Watford v Wolves: What a comeback!

Tara Moore: Hold my beer

So, you may have heard about a certain football cup Semi Final that was keenly contested, resulting in Watford coming from two goals down to book a place in one of the most prestigious sporting competitions in the world. But if it is comebacks you are looking for, then you’ll do no better than at a small-ish tennis tournament two days later, as reported in the Guardian.

Here at FPR, we can be cynical at times. Maybe we’re going soft in our old age (of literally four days old) but we thought this story needed to be shared. Saving a Match Point to avoid a 6-0, 6-0 defeat and then going on to WIN the match is a triumph of epic – some might say fairy tale – proportions. Huge well-deserved congratulations to Tara Moore; hopefully this is the start of something big. We look forward to British media over-hyping your chances thus causing you to collapse under the pressure time and time again. Ah, there’s the cynicism.

Also, well done Watford. Please, PLEASE beat City in the final.

(Photo credit: Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Action Images via Reuters)

Today in “Headlines we don’t need to edit”

Posted in Headlines

Speaker John Bercow explains the key difference between bellowing ‘Ordah!’ and ‘ORRDEEEHHHGH!’ when demanding constraint from MPs in the Commons 

We would like to note: The Daily Mail filed the above under “Brexit Crisis”

Democracy is overrated – let the Queen sort out Brexit

Above: The Guardian invites a guest correspondent from Germany.

Rhino poacher killed by elephant and devoured by lions on wildlife reserve

Above: Daily Record reports on criminal getting their just deserts.