Archive for the ‘UK News’ Category

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strictly ann poster Brexit Party MEP Ann Widdecombe became the focus of a PC lynch mob when she touched on the topic of homosexuality when being interviewed on Sky’s Sophie Ridge on Sunday. She speculated:

I also pointed out that there was a time when we thought it was quite impossible for men to become women and vice versa and the fact that we now think it is quite impossible for people to switch sexuality doesn’t mean that science may not be able to produce an answer at some stage.

This seems to acknowledge the current thinking on the subject and adds a idle speculation about the future. It hardly seems to be anything to get worked up about and much of the ‘outrage’ seems to have been generated by partially reporting the quote as if she was speaking about something more current.

The resulting lynch mob managed to get her touring stage show, Strictly Ann: An Evening with Ann Widdecombe, banned from several venues.

But The Lowther Pavilion in Lythm, Lancashire bravely allowed her show to go on. Tim Lince, chairman of Lowther Theatre’s Trust, said:

I do not feel we should be in the business of censorship. I believe the theatre is open for everybody to speak and that’s a very important thing we should all defend. If there had been an incident where something had been said that had led to police action, the board would have had no place in that. The Lowther would not support anything where there has been police action.

Ihe theatre issued a statement in which it said:

The right of free speech in the theatre was long fought and should be protected so that all opinions can be represented. Lowther Pavilion has always had an inclusive performance and use policy and this has been represented by previous and future presentations booked at the theatre.

About 25 people protested outside the theatre with little effect.

Maybe one day science will be able to cure the easily offended

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russia today international logo Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt declared that the Russian government-owned propaganda channel RT to be a weapon of disinformation in a speech to mark World Press Freedom Day.The UK government is particularly annoyed at the channel for repeatedly deflecting blame from Russia for the poisoning attack in Salisbury.

Hunt noted that the Kremlin came up with over 40 separate narratives to explain that incident which RT broadcast to the world.

The foreign secretary said it remained a matter for Ofcom to independently decide whether the station should be closed down. At the end of last year RT was found guilty of seven breaches of the British broadcasting code in relation to programmes broadcast in the aftermath of the Salisbury novichok poisoning .

TV censor Ofcom has yet to announce sanctions for the breaches of the code.

It seems bizarre that the government should let the TV censor determine sanctions when these could have serious diplomatic consequences. Surely it is the government that should be leading the censorship of interference by a foreign power.

Hunt seems to have been doing a bit of anti-British propaganda himself. In a press release ahead of the speech he seemed to suggest that Britain and the west have fragile democracies. In the news release Hunt states:

Russia in the last decade very disappointingly seemed to have embarked on a foreign policy where their principal aim is to sow confusion and division and destabilise fragile democracies.

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Department for Education logoUniversities minister Sam Gyimah hosts free speech summit and calls on higher education leaders to work together to create new guidance on free speech Free speech on campus should be encouraged and those attempting to shut it down must have nowhere to hide, the Universities Minister will make clear to sector leaders at a free speech summit he is chairing today (Thursday 3 May).

Sam Gyimah will call on higher education organisations to stamp out the ‘institutional hostility’ to unfashionable views that have emerged in some student societies and will urge them to work with the government following recent reports of a rise in so-called ‘safe spaces’ and ‘no-platform’ policies that have appeared on campuses.

He will say that the current landscape is “murky”, with numerous pieces of disjointed sector guidance out there, creating a web of complexity which risks being exploited by those wishing to stifle free speech.

The Universities Minister will demand further action is taken to protect lawful free speech on campus and will offer to work with the sector to create new guidance that will for the first time provide clarity of the rules for both students and universities — making this the first government intervention of its kind since the free speech duty was introduced in 1986.

The guidance signals a new chapter for free speech on campus, ensuring future generations of students get exposure to stimulating debates and the diversity of viewpoints that lie at the very core of the university experience.

Universities Minister Sam Gyimah said:

A society in which people feel they have a legitimate right to stop someone expressing their views on campus simply because they are unfashionable or unpopular is rather chilling.

There is a risk that overzealous interpretation of a dizzying variety of rules is acting as a brake on legal free speech on campus.

That is why I am bringing together leaders from across the higher education sector to clarify the rules and regulations around speakers and events to prevent bureaucrats or wreckers on campus from exploiting gaps for their own ends.

The free speech summit will be hosted in London and brings together a wide range of influential organisations, including those that have existing guidance in this area, such as the Charity Commission, UUK and EHRC.

The Office for Students, which came into force on April 1, will act to protect free speech and can use its powers to name, shame or even fine institutions for not upholding the principle of free speech. Michael Barber, Chair of the Office for Students, said:

Our universities are places where free speech should always be promoted and fostered. That includes the ability for everyone to share views which may be challenging or unpopular, even if that makes some people feel uncomfortable. This is what Timothy Garton-Ash calls ‘robust civility’. The Office for Students will always encourage freedom of speech within the law. We will never intervene to restrict it.

Alistair Jarvis, Universities UK Chief Executive, said:

Universities are committed to promoting and protecting free speech within the law. Tens of thousands of speaking events are put on every year across the country, the majority pass without incident. A small number of flash points do occasionally occur, on contentious or controversial issues, but universities do all they can to protect free speech so events continue.

As the Joint Committee on Human Rights recently found, there is no systematic problem with free speech in universities, but current advice can be strengthened. We welcome discussions with government and the National Union of Students on how this can be done.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights launched an inquiry on freedom of speech on 22nd November and issued its report on 25th March. The roundtable attendee include:

  • Home Office — Matt Collins, Director of Prevent
  • Office for Students (OfS) — Yvonne Hawkins, Directer of Universities and Colleges
  • Charity Commission – Helen Stephenson, Chief Executive
  • NUS – Amatey Doku, Vice President
  • EHRC – Rebecca Thomas, Principal, Programmes
  • Universities UK (UUK) – Chris Hale, Director of Policy
  • iHE – Alex Proudfoot, Chief Executive
  • GuildHE – Alex Bols, Deputy CEO
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kings college london logoHooded thugs have stormed a free speech event King’s College London, throwing smoke bombs and attacking security guards.

Believed to be part of the anti-facist movement, violent protesters forced their way into a lecture hall before setting off smoke bombs and smashing windows. Thugs grabbed the speaker’s microphone, while several security guards were punched during the melee.

A threatening note was also left for the compere.

Ten to 15 people dressed all in black, with black hoods and black face masks, leapt over the barriers and instantly engaged in a fight with two or three security guards, said witness Tristan Teller:

They tried to stop them but they just started punching them in the face. One guard, a grey-haired gentleman who looked to be in around 60, received several punches.

The event, which was organised by KCL Libertarian Society, saw YouTube personality Sargon of Akkad, real name Carl Benjamin, invited to speak alongside Ayn Rand Institute director Dr Yaron Brook.

The group were had dispersed by the time police arrived. There have been no reported injuries. No arrests. Enquiries continue.

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martin kettlelThanks to Alan who ask:

Have you seen article by a twat called Martin Kettle in today’s Grauniad?

What has happened to Britain’s “liberal” newspaper? Kettle is a toxic, know-nothing, sanctimonious authoritarian. I’m no Tory, but comparing him and Damian Green makes me question whether we should use “wanker” as a pejorative. It’s the anti-wankers like Kettle who seem like dickends.

I agree and noted particularly this intolerant nastiness from Kettle’s column:

Green is to some degree a victim of the fact that online pornography is so easily available. People — they are overwhelmingly men — access porn because they can. MPs are not employees, so their offices are not even subject to employer-imposed controls. A digital revolution combined with a free-and-easy approach to online controls meant that porn went from being concealed in brown paper bags on top shelves in seedy shops that charged money for it to being a mass online product costing nothing at all and sent straight into your home, office or phone for anyone to see.Advertisement

The fact that men may like porn is not a justification for this ease of access. Porn demeans women. It is violent. It is socially undesirable. It is very bad for men too. To his credit, David Cameron grasped this. The upshot is the Digital Economy Act 2017, not yet in force but coming into operation in a few months. This requires internet service providers to impose an age verification requirement that will be a deterrent not just to children looking for freely available porn but also to adults such as Green (or someone), who will have to go through a process to gain access.

In time, shame and embarrassment may act as a deterrent not just to telling the truth but to porn itself. Society would be better off with as little access as possible, and ideally with no access at all. Controls matter. They should be stronger.

And I must admit to being somewhat angered by this example of intolerance from the Guardian.

15 years ago I was a keen Guardian reader myself, I found the newspaper to be most in tune with my own beliefs in a liberal and tolerant society, supporting universal equality. At the time the Daily Mail was the villain of the newspapers regularly calling for censorship as sort of panacea for all society’s ills.

Now 15 years on the Guardian has become the voice of authoritarianism, censorship, injustice and selective equality. Whilst the Daily Mail, in a strange kind of way, has become the newspaper that gives a voice to the opinions of significant sections of the people who would be silenced if the Guardian had its way.

The Guardian and its political allies seem to have become the enemies of the very basics of civilised life: free speech, tolerance, equality and justice. Martin Kettle provides a fine example about the disregard for free speech and tolerance. Political correctness seems to have resulted in a system of justice more akin to witchfinding than anything else. The standard PC unit of ‘justice’ is for someone to lose their lifelong career, and it doesn’t matter how trivial or unintentional the PC transgression is. And when a real and serious crime is being investigated, eg rape, the politically correct prove by their actions, that they are totally happy if innocent people are convicted, especially if it contributes to a feeling of wellbeing by those lucky enough to be favoured by the politically correct.

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peta roast dog posterAnimal rights activists PETA wants to gross you out of serving roast turkey for Christmas. Their newest ad was considered so revolting and graphic that it was unsurprisingly banned from being displayed on London Buses.The ad, which features a pet dog’s head being served on an elaborate holiday serving plate with the caption:

If You Wouldn’t Eat Your Dog, Why Eat a Turkey? Start a New Tradition. Go Vegan.

PETA, on the other hand, considers their ad food for thought, according to a recent blog post , and considers the London bus system’s actions a shameful and confusing response. Londoners are bombarded with ads selling turkey corpses, PETA said in a statement to attempt to justify their own shocking photograph.

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putin keenHere’s what worries cybersecurity experts: All age verification options would create a permanent record indicating that a user had visited a porn site. They could possibly even record the porn that the visitor had watched.

Matt Tait, a cybersecurity expert formerly of the GCHQ (the United Kingdom’s equivalent of the National Security Agency) who now teaches at the University of Texas, notes that any registration system could be a monumental national security risk. He adds, It’s beyond insane they’re even considering it.

Tait envisions a time coming soon, when a British government official will have to give the following message to the Prime Minister:

Sorry Prime Minister, Russia now knows what porn every MP, civil servant and clearance holder watches and when, and we don’t know how much of it they’ve given to Wikileaks.

If porn consumers in the United Kingdom are the losers, Tait suggests there is a potential winner: Vladimir Putin.

…Read the full article from motherjones.com