Animals

Bloggerheads – “Answer my questions, or the puppy gets it.”: I’m as appalled as Justin is… but not quite as shocked. The death of an innocent puppy doesn’t involve any tricky politics, so it’s an easy win.

Short version

Number of MPs who stood up for the notion that “the bearskin hats worn by the five guards regiments have no military significance and involve unnecessary cruelty”: 207

Number of MPs who stood up for the notion that “the Prime Minister [should] meet the UK’s moral obligations by offering resettlement to all Iraqis who are threatened with death for the “crime” of helping British troops and diplomats”: 79

Long version

Iain Dale:

Iain has gone in to bat for his old chum Ann Widdecombe and plugged her campaign “to persuade the MoD to stop buying black bearskins from Canada.”

You may recall that this is the same Iain Dale who, rather than join the campaign to protect/rescue Iraqi employees, instead decided to deliver this patronising lecture (as part of his ongoing mission to rewrite blogging history with himself at the forefront).

[Psst! The issue here for the government appears to be the lack of viable alternatives to bearskin. Perhaps Iain will be bold enough to suggest the use of fox skins instead. I’m sure they’d stitch together real nice, and the red will go well with the uniforms.]

Ann Widdecombe:

Ann is leading the charge on saving big cuddly bears, but has somehow failed to find the time to say or do anything about the human beings we have chewed up, spat out, and left to the mercy of roaming death squads in Iraq.

(Yes, I’m sure it’s terrible to be shot and then skinned while your corpse is subjected to “crude sexist comments”… but it’s equally unpleasant to be tortured with a power drill or simply gunned down in the street when the death squads are too short on time for such pleasantries.)

And while this campaign of Ann’s makes much of the “more than 200 MPs [who] signed a recent Early Day Motion calling on the government to switch to a modern and humane synthetic fabric,” here, she describes EDMs as a huge waste of time;

“I shall not miss the late nights and above all I shall not miss the EDMs. For the uninitiated that stands for early day motions which number thousands in the course of a parliament and have no more impact than a feather landing on a mattress, but which constituents take seriously and wish me to sign. Most of them call for open-ended funding for everything from varicose veins to hedgehog refuges.” – Ann Widdecombe

What a grizzled and bitter old hypocrite she is; no wonder she and Dale get on like a house on fire.

[Psst! That said, Iain Dale might want to consider Ann’s voting record on equal rights for homosexuals before committing to a post-opportunity friendship with ‘Widdy’.]

Anne Milton:

Milton signed the EDM to do away with bearskin hats. In fact, her Wikipedia entry once bragged that she was the first Conservative MP to sign this motion.

But Milton stalled on signing an earlier EDM in support of Iraqi employees until it was too late to sign (she actually had the cheek to claim the expiry of that EDM as her reason for not signing it) and – despite many reassuring noises – *still* hasn’t found the time to sign the latest EDM in support of Iraqi employees.

Again, I’m not shocked… just appalled.

UPDATE – Justin informs us that we can add Celia Barlow to the list, and offers this insight into Ann Widdecombe’s pick ‘n’ mix approach to humanity…

Chicken Yoghurt – Number crunching: And if you’re an ickle baby foetus, Ann’s got your back. If you’re an ickle baby foetus who grows up to be drilled to death by an Iraqi death squad or executed for being an Iranian homosexual, well, sorry but Ann’s got bears to worry about.








Posted in Anne Milton, Humanity, It's War! It's Legal! It's Lovely!, The Political Weblog Movement | Comments Off

Answers from Tom (plus a few extras)

You may recall that last week Paul Staines lifted this item from the Sunday Mercury without crediting that local newspaper as the source (presumably because it simply wouldn’t do to undermine his reputation as the King of Mole Hill).

Point of Hypocrisy #1 – Paul Staines is forever harping on about how MSM ‘steals’ his material without credit, when more often than not it’s simply a case of a number of people getting on to the same story at the same time when Staines has the advantage of instant publication without such mundane concerns as verification, production, litigation, etc.

The Daily Express also lifted the Sunday Mercury item without credit, even using many of the quotes (i.e. as if they had sourced them themselves)… but the Daily Express also made a subtle reference to Derek Conway in their article, when there was no indication of any impropriety regarding any of the employees/income involved.

Later that Monday, the Sunday Mercury article was still in place, but the Daily Express article had been removed. The most likely reason why should have been obvious to anyone who has the slightest clue about libel; after all, the two items were identical in nature right up until the point where the Conway reference was made.

But the reason for this removal appears to be a mystery to Staines and his readers. There are even some comments (anonymous, natch) suggesting that it was removed because of the vast (and quite possibly Stalinist) MSM conspiracy to keep the public in the dark… oh, and did I mention that the Sunday Mercury article was still in place?

Points of Hypocrisy #2, #3 and #4 – Amusing behaviour on the blog of a man who (a) dismisses or deletes anonymous comments when contributors aren’t singing from his song sheet (b) labels those who mention this and other forms of selective moderation as ‘conspiracy theorists’, and (c) is quite fond of ‘disappearing’ information himself.

While all of this was going on, Paul Staines was outdoing the Daily Express by an extraordinary degree, by making an overt comparison to Derek Conway. This is what I blogged at the time:

Bloggerheads – Let’s probe some padded expenses!: The comparison to Derek Conway is totally out of order unless one *only* addresses the money Tom Watson paid to his wife Siobhan and *if* there appears to be some irregularity and/or difficulty proving that she has done this work. (Lister in the Express also works Conway into his article, but is far more careful about it.) The crux of the Conway matter was that Derek Conway had paid his son Freddie Conway £40,000 (over a three year period) and no record was found of any work done by this ‘researcher’. If a fair comparison were to be made, it would involve an estimated £60,000 paid to Siobhan Watson (i.e. over the same period) and there would have to be some indication that she didn’t actually do any work during this period. But instead, Staines (followed by Lister) has grouped the money paid by Tom Watson to his wife with Tom’s own pay and expenses, *and* tacked on money paid to members of his extended family by people and organisations that have *SFA* to do with that MP.

The Conway comparison was totally unfounded and totally uncalled for – and it should be clear why.

But not to Staines.

In a follow-up post, he plays to the conspiracy theorists, delivers a playground-level taunt, fails to link to the challenger(s) he claims to have bested, congratulates himself for being “ahead of the dead-tree-press” (over an item that he lifted from the dead-tree press) and hits us with his usual straw-man bullshit:

Paul Staines (aka ‘Guido Fawkes) – Pigs to Westminster, Home of the Pork: The unpopular parts of the blogosphere are complaining about Guido’s comparison of the monies received by Tom Watson’s family and the amount received by Derek Conway’s family. None of them dispute that the Watsons suck on the teat of the taxpayer to a far greater extent than the Conways ever did.

Derek Conway is notorious not for his overall level of expenditure, but for his failure to properly account for work done that would justify part of that expenditure.

Paul Staines lifted the guts of an article involving overall expenditure figures – and expenditure that has nothing to do with Tom Watson’s office – and then described the resulting sum as; “far more than the disgraced Derek Conway fiddled…”

Here I remind you that the Daily Express article was largely identical to the Sunday Mercury article, with the primary difference being a very subtle reference to Conway (it was presented as ‘background’). Oh, and that the Daily Express article was withdrawn.

But Staines made a direct comparison to Conway, and also implied that some or all of the expenditure involved was fiddled.

But I wouldn’t look forward to Staines’ article being removed anytime soon, as this ‘libertarian’ has taken a number of measures to ensure that he is (or at least appears to be) immune to litigation.

Point of Hypocrisy #5 – And yet if Paul Staines regards himself to be unfairly treated/represented, he will threaten to sue.

Meanwhile, Paul ‘Guido Fawkes’ Staines continues to play the bold, straight-talking warrior for personal freedom… but you should never forget that it’s those lying, two-faced MPs that we have to watch out for.

(ahem)

My MP (Anne Milton, Con) *is* a lying two-faced so-and-so, and recently it emerged that her husband was paid a few grand here and thereonce during a year when he was supposed to be working full-time as an executive for the NHS.

Paul Staines didn’t think this was worth chasing. At all.

Paul Staines also didn’t think it was a good idea to pursue the single portion of Watson-related expenditure that might allow him to make a justified comparison to Conway. So I’ve done the bulk of the work for him… but have left a bonus treat for Paul and his fellow right-wing propagandists and conspiracy theorists. I hope they enjoy it…

Below are the questions I put to Tom Watson, and two answers. Feel free to compare these to the single answer response from Anne Milton.

Q1. Where did Siobhan Watson carry out this work you describe? In your parliamentary office, your constituency office, from home…?

Tom’s Answer: She works in my constituency office, though often comes to sort out stuff in London.

Having visited Tom’s office once or twice when stuff was being sorted out, I can verify the latter.

Q2. What evidence can you show your constituents of the work you claim was done by Siobhan Watson?

Tom’s Answer: Most lobby journalists know her as the person who turns down lunch invitations. The rest of the world know her as my long suffering PA.

Heh. I like this answer; it has witnesses. I do look forward to Paul’s assertion/suggestion that all lobby journalists are involved in a vast cover-up.

Q5. Have any other members of your family been employed in this or any other way by your office?

Tom’s Answer: [see below]

Tom has reminded me that I already know the answer to this question. And do you know what? I’m going to drop it. If anyone has an issue with that, you know the address.

As Gary pointed out recently, there are no grounds for comparing any of the reported income with the Conway matter and – in my view – no grounds for further investigation.

There may, however, be grounds* for investigating the income of one Paul De L’Aire Staines…

[*Not intended or presented as a reference to Derek Conway. So there.]








Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | 2 Comments

Tom’s busy

That’s the short version… and I’m happy to cut him a little slack because, unlike some people, he doesn’t have a track record of dicking me around.

I’m a tad busy myself, but I did have time to knock this out for B3ta’s ‘Make Newspaper Comics Funny’ image challenge.

See you soon. Try not to harm any puppies or human beings while I’m away.








Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | 1 Comment

The Obi One may have trouble laughing this one off…

LayScience – Dr. Joseph Obi vs. LayScience.net: Today I have “most ethically” triggered a chain of events that may be of great interest to the Royal College of Alternative Medicine. Nothing beats good evidence, and I’ve just posted a load of it to the Irish Government’s Office of the Director Of Corporate Enforcement…








Posted in UK Libel Law | 5 Comments

Stormfront in hotlinking whoopsie

Media Watch Watch is a blog with a free-speech focus that rose like a mighty phoenix from the ashes of the JS:TO firestorm and, blessings upon the cotton socks The Monitor, is still keeping tabs on Stephen Green.

Recently, The Monitor noticed that the good people at the white supremacist forum Stormfront were hotlinking a contentious cartoon hosted for discussion in this article.

As I’ve mentioned before; there are many reasons not to hotlink, but one of them is that you have no control over the image, which might very well be changed by the person hosting it… often with the specific intention of making the hotlinker look like a bit of a dick.

And yes, The Monitor has changed that image, and replaced it with an altered version of yet another controversial image hosted and discussed on the Media Watch Watch website.

To see the result, click here.

(And, if the mighty whities eventually catch up with the rest of us and edit the entry, I’ve saved a screen capture for the ages here.)








Posted in Teh Interwebs | 2 Comments

“Answer my questions, or the puppy gets it.”

While we’re waiting for Tom… here’s a US marine throwing a puppy off a cliff (maybe):

News.com.au – Military investigates puppy-throwing video: The US military is investigating a YouTube video that apparently shows a Marine throwing a puppy off a cliff. Major Chris Perrine from the Marine Corps Base Hawaii said the man appears to be based with a unit in the islands. The video has caused an internet backlash after footage of the incident was uploaded onto YouTube – even though it could be fake.

It looks fake to me. Judge for yourself.

Typically, the Sun is outraged (Rebekah Wade has a thing for puppies… and horses).

UPDATE (9pm) – The Times – Puppy-toss video makes Marine figure of hate: A US Marine has become the target of a massive internet hate campaign after a mobile phone video appearing to show him throwing a puppy off a cliff in Iraq became a viral hit… A number of US websites named the perpetrator as David Motari, a 22-year-old from Washington state who has recently returned from Iraq and is based in Hawaii. Mr Motari’s profile on the social networking site Bebo was closed down yesterday. Some sites posted his personal details, phone numbers and even a picture of his car, while other bloggers called for him to be ostracised.

Valleywag expands on the theme.

Meanwhile…
Meanwhile…
Meanwhile…

I’m as appalled as Justin is… but not quite as shocked. The death of an innocent* puppy doesn’t involve any tricky politics, so it’s an easy win.

[*”Tonight on FOX News: the truth about puppies and why they hate America!”]

UPDATE (11:30pm) – I couldn’t sleep, so I made you a picture. Inspired by Justin and posted to B3ta. Enjoy:

Abu

UPDATE (11:45pm) – For me the audio is the most suspicious element, and there’s a lot of speculation about the dead/alive status of the dog before it was thrown; that reminds me of this.

And on that note, I retire to bed. Pleasant dreams.

UPDATE (05 Mar): Doggy go ‘boom’ | Doggies go ‘boom’ | Kitty go ‘boom’… just while you’re in the mood. Oh, and for the sake of balance, here is a report of Al-Qaeda killing doggies and here is a report of an abused Iraqi doggy saved by a U.S. Marine.

Also, the comments under the Sun article are worth a browse, not least because of the many, many anti-American sentiments expressed over this.

Tch. Looks like playing to xenophobia wins over pro-Bush/anti-peacenik propaganda every time… at least when puppies are involved. Other highlights include:

“perhaps, just perhaps, that the dog would of died anyway? In the heat, no food, no water, and the marines are not there to puppysit!” – CactusJoe

This just in: the RSPCA is opening a new rescue centre at Beachy Head.

“You know what – What goes around, comes around. They will get their day, and I hope someone posts it on youtube for us all to see!” – xKellyx

Hmmm. Live mob justice on YouTube. An intriguing idea. All we’ll need then is free bread via Teh Interwebs and we’ll be set.

“Did that poor puppy live? If so that marine should pay the vet bill’s and go and throw himself of a cliff before some one else does!” – sweetkaz

Yeah! Right on! *And* he should pay the doctor’s bills if he survives the fall. That’ll learn him.

“Sick!! It would’ve been OK if it was a Iraqi terrorist they were throwing about, but a poor puppy! Sick!” – UltraNationalist

Hm. There’s all sorts of things wrong with that, but – just for starters – the majority of terrorists in Iraq are not from Iraq. JHL has more on the terrorist/puppy angle here.

“Just remember what DOG spells backwards you stupid American Idiots. You will be thrown over the edge in to hell for that.” – flynn04

(speechless)

OK, so some of these may be trolls… but it’s very hard to tell in some neighbourhoods.

UPDATE – OK, so now can we get on with the impeaching? (Image posted to B3ta):

U.S. Marines watching George W. Bush throwing a puppy in Iraq - THIS REALLY HAPPENED, PEOPLE!








Posted in It's War! It's Legal! It's Lovely!, Teh Interwebs, Video | 11 Comments

Meanwhile…

Sorry to interrupt the eerie silence, but Iain’s latest CiF article comparing David Cameron to Barack Obama prompted this comment from me and I wanted to share.

[Yes, I’m aware of the multiple absurdities of Iain’s article, but I’m trying to stay focused.]

UPDATE – Heh. I fear I might have strayed into a Brit-centric neighbourhood recently. This post is my first mention of Barack Obama on this weblog since September 2004, when I blogged this item.

UPDATE (04 Mar) – Ahahahahahahaha! Iain responds to criticism of his article by claiming that he sold the Guardian a surplus article with the specific intention of winding up their readers. I suppose they’ll be wanting their fee back, then. I also enjoyed Iain predicting a “torrent of abuse” in the same comment where he describes CiF contributors as having “even fewer braincells than the LibDem front bench”.

UPDATE (05 Mar) Two bits of related bloggage for you:

mask of anarchy – Iain Dale: The Blogging Equivalent of The Emperor’s New Clothes


Septicisle – Pranked over Cameron’s likeness to Obama, while Cameron himself sings from the same old hymn sheet








Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | 3 Comments

Who’s got Phorm?

The Register – How Phorm plans to tap your internet connection: Internal BT documents obtained by The Register for the first time provide solid technical information on how data from millions of BT, Virgin Media and Carphone Warehouse customers will be pumped into a new advertising system.

El Reg promises more on this story; in the meantime, Political Penguin digs in here and here.

See also:
Guardian – You might call it “resistance”: 95% say they’ll opt out of ISP’s data-sharing deal
BadPhorm – When good ISPs go bad!








Posted in Consume! | 1 Comment

‘Joey’ Obi: Creepshow II

Another video starring Grand Master Joseph Chikelue Obi… and this time he’s naked!

That this clown and his pseudo-lawyer managed to bully an ISP into submission continues to amaze me.








Posted in Teh Interwebs | 6 Comments

Let’s probe some padded expenses!

Paul Staines (aka ‘Guido Fawkes) – Sunday Sleaze Special : Tom Watson: Last year Watson pocketed his £60,000 salary and his parliamentary expenses amounted to £150,000-plus – bringing his total package to £211,000 – making him the 73rd highest claiming MP out of 646 MPs. Quite an achievement for an MP not claiming for travel to and from Scotland. He of course employs his wife Siobhan at the public’s expense, his brother, Dan, is constituency director to Euro MP Michael Cashman, Dan Watson’s wife, Joanna, has no fewer than three jobs. Like her husband, she also works for Mr Cashman and for Wolverhampton Labour MP Pat McFadden, yet still finds time to be a Labour councillor in Sandwell. Amy Watson, cousin of Tom and Dan, works for Birmingham Northfield Labour MP Richard Burden. The West Midlands constituency Labour Party offices are packed with Watsons… The total annual cost to the taxpayer of the Watson family’s five not-so-little piggies is in excess of £300,000. Far more than the disgraced Derek Conway fiddled…

1. The way Paul Staines carries on about British taxpayers’ money, you would think it was *his* money being spent. But if Staines pays any tax, surely it’s in Ireland.

2. That story appeared on Staines’ pseudo-blog just before 10:30pm last night. The only link to any source was to this irrelevant article in the Sunday Times. Just after midnight, this very similar article by Mark Lister appeared on the Daily Express website. So did Lister lift from Staines? Or did Lister or someone else leak to Staines? Or is there a mystery article that we’re unaware of that Staines is using as his (uncredited) source?

3. So much for bread and sources… here’s the meat;

The comparison to Derek Conway is totally out of order unless one *only* addresses the money Tom Watson paid to his wife Siobhan and *if* there appears to be some irregularity and/or difficulty proving that she has done this work. (Lister in the Express also works Conway into his article, but is far more careful about it.)

The crux of the Conway matter was that Derek Conway had paid his son Freddie Conway £40,000 (over a three year period) and no record was found of any work done by this ‘researcher’.

If a fair comparison were to be made, it would involve an estimated £60,000 paid to Siobhan Watson (i.e. over the same period) and there would have to be some indication that she didn’t actually do any work during this period.

But instead, Staines (followed by Lister) has grouped the money paid by Tom Watson to his wife with Tom’s own pay and expenses, *and* tacked on money paid to members of his extended family by people and organisations that have *SFA* to do with that MP.

[All of the other members of Tom Watson’s family work for other people and Tom’s responsibilities to the taxpayer start and finish at his offices. There might be cause for investigation or comparison if, for example, Tom was funnelling his own money through family members for some reason (*cough*)… but he isn’t.]

So when Staines describes that figure of £300,000 as “Far more than the disgraced Derek Conway fiddled…” he is implying:

a) That Siobhan Watson did no work for her salary.

b) That Tom Watson did no work for his salary – and that none of his expenses can be properly accounted for.

c) That Tom Watson is directly responsible for the employment of these other members of his extended family.

It’s almost as if Paul Staines is baiting Tom Watson and waiting for a letter from Tom’s lawyer so he make yet another comparison of chalk to cheese in order to overcome or overshadow his recent PR difficulties.

No doubt there will also be accusations of personal/political favouritism if certain blogs don’t repeat this non-story, when Staines himself is guilty of ignoring many genuine Tory stories (including this item about Anne Milton).

But, even though Tom is not my MP, I recognise that there are political realities to deal with here (mostly involving a gang of right wing bloggers who delight in misrepresenting my position and even falsely suggesting that *I’m* employed by Tom Watson) so I’m going to ask Tom 3 of the 5 questions put to Anne Milton (i.e. the 3 questions that are relevant to this situation):

Q1. Where did Siobhan Watson carry out this work you describe? In your parliamentary office, your constituency office, from home…?

Q2. What evidence can you show your constituents of the work you claim was done by Siobhan Watson?

Q5. Have any other members of your family been employed in this or any other way by your office?

[Please note that Tom Watson does not have advance notice of these questions and that they’ve been presented to him in exactly the same manner as they were presented to Milton; bloggage first, followed by an immediate heads-up via email. To better Milton’s response time, Tom only has to come up with a single and totally unsatisfactory answer within two weeks… but I’m willing to bet that he can do a little bit better than that.]

UPDATE (1:10pm) – The article on the Daily Express website appears to have been removed.

UPDATE (2:10pm) – This appears to be the original article (Sunday Mercury – March 2, 2008), and the source for both Staines and Lister. It’s a curious item full of friendly smiles and wild stabs, but – crucially – it makes no mention of Derek Conway.

UPDATE (5:20pm) – Garry Smith expands on the maths.








Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | 7 Comments