Grenfell Tower, mobs, and Justice

At least 30 people have died in the Grenfell Tower fire. That is the highest number of deaths in a single incident in the UK since the 7/7 attacks (55), a number it seems likely to surpass over the coming days. That would leave only Hillsborough (96), the Aberfan Disaster (144), and the Lockerbie bombing (270) as higher totals in the last half century.

The Daily Express has asked if EU regulations resulted in the choice of cladding which encouraged the spread of the fire. The answer is no – the cladding is banned in Germany. A little bit of investigation would have told the Express reporters the idea they were suggesting was untrue.
The Daily Mail has printed a story drawing attention to the individual whose fridge apparently started the fire.
The premise of the Daily Mail’s article overlooks the fact that the fire would have remained small in scale had there not been more systemic issues, and risked turning residents’ anger towards an ordinary man who will probably be suffering with extraordinary trauma.The story will have had to pass through a number of editorial and legal staff, there is no way that none of them know how a fusebox works.

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The Despicable DUP

As we write, it seems certain that the Tory Party will enter into some sort of power-sharing deal with the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party, to take them over the 326-MP mark they need to have a Parliamentary majority. Their leader, Arlene Foster, has said that a deal would “cost them a lot”. So who are the DUP?

They opposed the decriminalisation of homosexuality and abortion in Northern Ireland. Jim Wells, until 2015 the Health Minister, has claimed that children raised by gay parents are “far more likely to be abused or neglected”. In November 2015 they vetoed a Northern Ireland Assembly decision to legalise gay marriage. They’ve been involved in corruption scandals around the misuse of subsidies for housing and renewable energy.
According to Roger Stanyard of the British Centre for Science Education “a core of, maybe, around half a dozen very senior politicians within the DUP” have been using their positions to promote Young Earth religious-based pseudoscience. Continue reading “The Despicable DUP”

Corporate Capitalism, Morality and Public Relations

Capitalism is an amoral system. That doesn’t necessarily mean that capitalism is immoral (actively against morality) but morality doesn’t play a significant role in corporate decision-making. What matters within capitalism is whether a product or person is profitable or unprofitable for the larger company. Public relations (the public perception of whether someone is moral or immoral) is important, but morality itself is not.

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The post-truth nature of Arron Banks’ Hillsborough response

A major story in the run-up to the Stoke by-election has been UKIP leader and committed fantasist Paul Nuttall pretending to have lost a friend at the 1989 Hillsborough disaster. Major donor Arron Banks seems to have decided that this hole wasn’t deep enough so dug deeper by attacking victims. He’s argued that the preventable disaster and cover-up of police failures which took 27 years to overturn have been treated as “some sort of cultural happening“.

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Things You Should Realise about Trump #3: Crowd Claims Reveal a Loose Relationship with Reality

Donald Trump has spent a large portion of his first week in office obsessed by the size of his crowd.

250 thousand isn’t anything to be ashamed of – it’s a large number. Given that Trump’s shtick is that he is supposedly one of the few people willing to tackle difficult issues, he’s not going to be as popular as a unity candidate like Obama. Add in that Obama’s 2009 inauguration was on a Monday and Trump’s on a Friday, meaning that supporters could take the time off work more easily, and it’s not hugely embarrassing that Trump failed to hit the historic highs for inauguration attendances.

A wide variety of news sources shared a side-by-side comparison of photos from the 2009 Obama and 2017 Trump inaugurations. This includes those who lean right ideologically – the images are a dramatic way to put the news into context. For Trump opponents like ourselves, it’s a fun way to get at Trump’s thin skin. But it’s actually quite scary how thin his skin is.

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Things You Should Realise About Donald Trump #2: He’s a Political Insider

Of all the ridiculous lies spread during the 2016 presidential campaign, probably the most ridiculous is the idea that Donald Trump is a ‘political outsider’.

In the late 1980s when under investigation, mortgage broker Frank LaMagra claimed that Donald Trump was a participant in mob money laundering and offered to wear a wire to expose him. The federal agent in charge of the case, Tony Lombardi, discussed the case with his boss – Rudy Giulani – before going to talk with Trump, who became the co-chair of Giuliani’s 1989 mayoral fundraiser. LaMagra’s offer was never taken up. In 2009 Donald Trump gave $170,000 to the Republican Governors’ Association; in 2010 Chris Christie agreed to write off a $30 million Trump Casino tax bill for $5 million; in 2011 Trump donated another $450,000 to the group. Trump has repeatedly contributed to groups working for the re-election of attorneys general who were considering investigating his businesses, including Pam Bondi in 2014, and Kamala Harris between 2011 and 2013.

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Things You Should Realise About Donald Trump #1 He’s a Very Unsubtle Thinker

Donald Trump is a man who incites strong, contradictory opinions. One thing we should be able to agree on – he is not subtle.

This is evident in his Twitter feuds. After her measured criticism of him, he announced that Meryl Streep is “one of the most overrated actresses in Hollywood”. Streep is an actress who pretty much everyone seems to rate – Kramer vs Kramer, Sophie’s Choice and so on. Even 2015 Trump admired her, choosing her second after Julia Roberts when asked to name the actresses he admired. The smart line of attack would be to admit she’s a good actress, but undermine her political expertise, maybe paint her as a ‘Hollywood liberal’. This is what pretty much every Trump supporter who we’ve seen react to Streep has done – none of his supporters are as unsubtle as the man himself. In Trump’s mind, it appears, a person being bad means that they are bad at everything.

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