Tag Archives: effect

Journalist smuggled into Gaza witnesses horror. This is why they keep the press out

Apocalypse now: Gaza under attack. Western journalists are smuggling themselves into this hell, to see what the Israeli military is trying to hide from them.

Yashar Ali’s full ‘X’ post is as follows:

CNN’s @clarissaward is the first Western journalist to enter Gaza since October 7.

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She did not enter Gaza with the IDF.

Like most militaries, the IDF requires journalists’ footage to be vetted by them before airing.

Clarissa entered Gaza with an Emirati medical team.

There was an Israeli military strike near the field hospital minutes after Clarissa entered.

Clarissa described what she witnessed as “harrowing,” “chilling,” and “sobering.”

“You get an absolute sense of the horrors that have been taking place in Gaza. This hospital was filled with the youngest victims of this war. Children who have been disfigured, who are in full body casts, and who are covered in burns.”

The strike that occurred after she entered resulted in an older man and a 13-year-old boy coming into the field hospital. The boy had half his leg missing, and the older man’s foot was hanging off.

Ms Ward appears to have been the first of several journalists who have managed to smuggle themselves into Gaza.

This Site will try to publish as many of their accounts as possible – separately, because I think that will be more effective than de-sensitising you with one account after another in the same article.


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In the final days before the local elections, remember what the Tories have done to you

The ballot box: people across England and Northern Ireland will be voting in local government elections on Thursday (May 4). If you’re among them, have you taken time to think about the havoc Tories in Westminster have caused to your council and its services?

If you’re an ordinary member of the public who is not a Tory donor or friend, or a big businessperson, then you have absolutely no reason to vote ‘Conservative’ in the local elections in England and Northern Ireland on Thursday.

Big businesses have made a fortune from Conservative government…

… and so have company bosses. But you are losing more cash with every day of Tory rule that passes:

Bear in mind that top chief executive officers already received huge payments for what they did, so a four per cent rise is equal to a lot of money.

Meanwhile, your 2.5 per cent cut is based on an average income of £28,000, meaning a loss of £700. Could you do with £700 right now?

(I could.)

Of course, Tory plans mean you will lose more money in the near future. Do you have any idea how much they’re dragging out of us all in tax?

So in the couple of days that are left, how about spending a moment thinking about what Tory policies have given to you – and how much they have taken away.

#Carriegate: Downing Street admits demanding that The Times drop Carrie Johnson story

Why is Boris Johnson’s government so determined to be dishonest all the time?

Yesterday (June 20), Downing Street was adamantly refusing to comment on whether the government had intervened to force The Times to drop its damning story about Boris Johnson wanting to hire then-Carrie Symonds into the Foreign Office for £100,000.

Now the prime minister’s office has given up its pretence and

confirmed it contacted the newspaper on Friday night and asked it to retract the story.

But:

Contrary to online speculation, there is no superinjunction or specific legal issue preventing reporting of the story.

Handy, that – it means those of us who have been repeating the story left, right and centre won’t face reprisals for doing so.

But that leaves us asking: what was the point?

This Site and others have already mentioned the so-called “Streisand Effect”, whereby efforts to remove a story from the Internet only increase public interest in it.

Has this been an enormous “dead cat” story?

Source: No 10 confirms it asked the Times to drop Carrie Johnson story

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Carriegate: the new scandal Boris Johnson is trying to silence?

Streisand Effect: Carrie Johnson.

The claim is that Boris Johnson tried to hire his current wife as his chief of staff – with a £100,000-a-year salary – while he was foreign secretary and married to somebody else.

It said the idea had fallen apart when his closest advisers learned of it.

It was published as a news story in The Times, early on Saturday – but was suddenly withdrawn amid rumours of a high-level government intervention.

MailOnline rewrite has also been removed without explanation, and news aggregation sites have deleted their copies of this article.

But if Boris Johnson – or any of his aides – had hoped to suppress the story, they may now be reeling from the discovery that their heavy-handedness has had the opposite effect.

It is apparently known as The Streisand Effect: efforts to delete a story from the internet make the public much more interested in it.

So while

a No 10 source also said the story was untrue – and suggested it was sexist.

“This is a grubby, discredited story turned down by most reputable media outlets because it isn’t true. The facts speak for themselves.”

and the report’s original author, Simon Walters

told the Guardian: “I stand by the story. I went to all the relevant people over two days. Nobody offered me an on-the-record denial and Downing St didn’t deny it off the record either,”

the public are having a barrel of fun at the expense of the prime minister – and his wife:

Just look up #Carriegate on Twitter and you’ll see a lot of people having a lot of fun.

And of course the story raises questions that deserve answers.

If Johnson really did try to install the woman who was his then-lover into a high-paying job at his government department (which seems a common practice, looking at someone whose name sounds like Hat Mancock) while he was married to someone else, what does that say about his morals?

That’s why This Writer likes the tweet that suggests Johnson should just go the whole hog and appoint her as his new ethics advisor.

Source: Carrie Johnson and the curious case of the vanishing Times story | Carrie Johnson | The Guardian

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Can Parliament’s bars let us know how many post-10pm drinkers catch Covid-19, please?

NOTE: Shortly after I published this story, Parliament’s bars announced that they will stop selling alcohol after 10pm. The reason?

MPs said the rules risked making Parliament look “ridiculous” to the public.

That was very much my intention when I wrote the following:

I think it’s great that Parliament has put up its own bars as testing-grounds for the effectiveness of the 10pm pub drinking curfew.

It seems the bars on the Parliamentary estate – the Members’ Dining Room, Adjournment, Smoking Room, Terrace Pavilion, Pugin Room and Members’ Tea Room are exempt as they provide a food and bar service:

A spokesperson for the House of Commons confirmed that the new restrictions on hospitality do not apply to the venues on the parliamentary estate, saying: “As catering outlets providing a workplace service for over 3,100 people working on the Estate, the current regulations on hospitality venues do not apply to Commons facilities.”

Some have said this is another example of Boris Johnson’s cronies setting one law for us and then breaking it themselves. Many of them made reference to Orwell’s Animal Farm (which may soon be banned under Gavin Williamson’s new education rules):

Others disagree with the Animal Farm reference. I haven’t read it so I’m not in a position to comment.

But I do hope that the authorities at the Parliamentary bars keep us appraised of how their brave effort to keep our democracy in alcohol goes.

They will of course be keeping details of everybody who enters, in case Covid-19 breaks out in one, several, or all of these bars.

I expect regular updates. If they show no infections, we’ll know that it is safe to open all the rest of the UK’s pubs for normal hours again. Won’t we?

Source: Parliament bars exempt from 10pm curfew | The Independent

Review of harmful impact of Covid-19 crisis on BAME people delayed twice – because it shows RACISM?

Racism is hard-wired into Conservatives. This poster was from 1964 and attitudes haven’t changed since then.

When the Tories delay a review of the impact of Covid-19 on black and minority ethnic communities because of “worries” around “current global events”, you know the result can’t be good.

Considering “current global events” include escalating riots in the United States over the way the authorities treat black people, you can expect it to be scandalous.

Demonstrations against the attitudes that caused George Floyd’s death have taken place in the UK and it seems logical that the Tory government – already well-known for its racist policies and racist prime minister – would not want to enflame feelings to boiling-point.

But it makes perfect sense for the review to show that BAME people have been disproportionately harmed by Covid-19 – because the Conservative government has prioritised help away from them.

We already know that Tory Covid-19 policies have been disablist and ageist – look at the massacre in our care homes. Harm to BAME people completes their hat-trick.

Look at the language in the Sky News report:

They now say it has been delayed further because it is in “close proximity to the current situation in America” and it would be a “bad combination” if it was released amid global outrage over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

One Whitehall source told Sky News: “The government won’t be able to put this out without concrete and solid next steps.”

To make matters worse, the Department of Health has tried to deny that the killing of George Floyd had anything to do with the delay.

This comes from the organisation that claimed the UK had enough personal protective equipment and ventilators for everyone, and that 100,000 tests were carried out on a day when only 70,000 took place.

We’re left with the obvious question:

Is it better to withhold the review and let us all think government policy has been racist – or to release it and have our suspicions confirmed?

Source: Coronavirus: Review into impact of COVID-19 on BAME community delayed again | UK News | Sky News

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Is Netflix really killing the TV licence? Or is it naff BBC editorial policy?

According to the Mail, the “Netflix effect” is killing the TV licence, with 860,000 licences cancelled in 2017-18, an increase on the 798,000 cancelled the previous year.

The report states: “It is now believed that the ‘Netflix effect’ is leading viewers to abandon their BBC TV licences entirely.

“Streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Now TV do not require any license.

“A basic Netflix subscription costs £5.99 a month (about £72 a year).”

The BBC has announced that the cost of the TV licence – needed to watch the Corporation’s shows as broadcast or on iPlayer – is to rise to £154.50, an increase of £4, in April.

But does it deserve that money?

Are people really leaving because of the cost – or are they leaving because of the content?

This Twitter users says Jeremy Corbyn’s plan for a digital licence fee could breathe new life into the BBC, funded by a tax on big businesses and broadband providers:

“The BBC would flourish under Labour.”

But with a news editorial policy that is pro-Conservative, does it deserve to?


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Jeremy Hunt has talked himself into a hole – and is digging for all he’s worth

Here’s what “most doctors” think of Jeremy Hunt, I reckon [Image: Sean Hansford/MEN].

Everybody reading this will be familiar with the expression, “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.” If only Jeremy Hunt would take that advice!

In the latest round of his ongoing dispute with Professor Stephen Hawking, Mr Hunt has tried to defend his claims about NHS spending – and failed.

He has also tried to defend his claims about falling numbers of people taking out private medical insurance – and failed.

Worst of all, he has tried to say he has not cherry-picked evidence in order to make a false claim about weekend deaths – by devising a new definition of cherry-picking.

Take a look at his words, taken from his own latest Guardian article:

He does not deny that it has record funding or record numbers of doctors and nurses, but describes these as a “distraction”. Such figures surely are crucial evidence if he is arguing, as he did last weekend in a speech at the Royal Society of Medicine, that the direction of the NHS is heading towards a US-style insurance system. Such systems – which he seems to now concede are not government policy – rely on individuals, and not the state, paying for their healthcare. If that was the direction of travel, the state would be spending less, not more, on the NHS.

But Professor Hawking has already stated that “record funding is not the same thing as adequate funding”.

We are all aware of Noam Chomsky’s description of the standard technique of privatisation, aren’t we? “Defund” – meaning, fail to provide enough funding – “make sure things don’t work” – and Mr Hunt has admitted he does not “think everything is working well in the NHS” – “people get angry” – like Professor Hawking – “you hand it over to private capital”.

How much of that “record” funding is going towards private companies? Some of that money will be handed out to shareholders as profit, meaning it serves no useful purpose in the provision of care. But it all counts as privatisation of health care.

So: Mr Hunt’s “record” funding isn’t enough, especially as a large proportion of it is funding the profits of private health – and the service is suffering, which means it is well on the way to privatisation according to Mr Chomsky’s pattern.

Likewise, more individuals would be taking out private medical insurance – again, the opposite is the case. Although there was indeed a small rise last year, overall there has been a dramatic drop in private medical insurance since 2009.

If there was a rise in the number of individuals taking out private medical insurance last year, then Professor Hawking is right to say that more individuals are taking out private medical insurance. Anybody can make figures say what they want by choosing an arbitrary starting date. Why not say, “There has been a rise in private health insurance since 2015”?

I do not accept his comments about the misuse of statistics, although inevitably in the heat of an industrial relations dispute there will be many such accusations hurled from both sides. To decide that one piece of research is the most credible is not “cherrypicking”, as Hawking suggested – it is doing what you have to do when researchers disagree.

If researchers disagree, then the evidence is not conclusive and no decision can be made. “To decide that one piece of research is the most credible” is exactly “cherrypicking” – it is citing one study but suppressing others in order to support a political policy, as Professor Hawking stated in his original Guardian article.

Finally, we have this:

But regardless of which research you back, none of us can bury our heads in the sand on the issues surrounding weekend care in hospitals. Most doctors in their hearts would rather a loved one was admitted mid-week than at the weekend.

And who said Jeremy Hunt could speak for “most doctors”?

The last time This Writer checked, “most doctors” had spent most of a year holding industrial action against Mr Hunt because of his attempts to speak for them on the subject of their pay and conditions of work.

And what research has Mr Hunt carried out? Since we’re discussing scientific evidence, with how many doctors did he discuss this matter?

Or, returning to the fact that he has dug himself into a hole, is Mr Hunt pulling his claim from another hole that he happens to have on his person?


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After Hunt attacked over NHS privatisation, we all knew Hawking wouldn’t let it lie

[Image: @Rachael_Swindon on Twitter.]

Picture the scene if you can: Professor Stephen Hawking reading Jeremy Hunt’s smear piece against his concerns about the NHS and then, in calm, voice-synthesized tones, uttering: “So he wants to play hardball, does he? Fine.”

Professor Hawking has written a response in The Guardian, expanding on his original points:

That Mr Hunt misrepresented scientific research in order to claim that poorer hospital care and staffing at weekends cause excess deaths.

That Mr Hunt’s claim of record NHS funding is a distraction as it does not show that funding is adequate.

And that all the evidence shows a move towards a US-style, privatised, health insurance system, whether the minority Conservative government wants it or not.

It seems unlikely that Mr Hunt will back down. It also seems likely that he will face renewed calls to defend his claims, in person, on the floor of the House of Commons.

That will be comedy gold – although, considering the state of disrepair into which he has allowed the NHS to fall, it will be gallows humour.

Hunt doesn’t deny that he dismissed research contradicting his claim of excess deaths due to poorer hospital care and staffing at the weekend. He admits he relied on one paper by Professor Nick Freemantle and colleagues. But even if one accepts its disputed findings, the authors explicitly warn that “to assume these excess deaths are avoidable would be rash and misleading”. The editor-in-chief of the British Medical Journal, Fiona Godlee, wrote to Hunt to reprimand him for publicly misrepresenting the Freemantle et al paper. As a patient who has spent a lot of time in hospital, I would welcome improved services at the weekend. For this, we need a scientific assessment of the benefits of a seven-day service and of the resources required, not misrepresentation of research.

Hunt’s statement that funding and the number of doctors and nurses are at an all-time high is a distraction. Record funding is not the same thing as adequate funding. There is overwhelming evidence that NHS funding and the numbers of doctors and nurses are inadequate, and it is getting worse.

Hunt misquoted me, saying that I claimed the government wants a US-style insurance system. What I said was that the direction is towards a US-style insurance system, run by private companies. The increasing involvement of private health companies in the NHS is evidence for this. Hunt chose to highlight – dare I say, cherry-pick – the fact that private companies’ share of NHS contracts rose 0.1% over the last year. This is an anomaly among the data since 2006. The NHS private providers’ share was 2.8% in 2006-7 and rose steadily to 7.6% in 2015/16. The amount of private health insurance has fallen since 2009 as Hunt said, but that is because of the financial crash. We can conclude nothing about health policy from this and in any case, it is now increasing again. As waiting times increase, private companies report an increase in self-pay where patients pay directly for care such as hip and knee replacements.

Further evidence that the direction is towards a US-style system is that the NHS in England is undergoing a complete reorganisation into 44 regions with the aim of each being run as an “accountable care organisation” (Aco). An Aco is a variant of a type of US system called a health maintenance organisation in which all services are provided in a network of hospitals and clinics all run by the HMO company. It is reasonable to expect the powerful US HMO companies such as Kaiser Permanente and UnitedHealth will be bidding for the huge contracts to run these ACOs when they go out to international tender. Hunt referenced Kaiser Permanente as a model for the future budgetary arrangements in the NHS at the Commons health select committee in May 2016.

Source: Jeremy Hunt can attack me all he wants – but he is wrong to say the NHS is working | Stephen Hawking | Opinion | The Guardian


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Jeremy Hunt challenged to take part in TV debate with Stephen Hawking over the NHS

Will Jeremy Hunt go into hiding to avoid appearing in a TV debate with Professor Hawking – as he once hid behind a tree to avoid being seen going to a meeting with Rupert Murdoch?

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been challenged to appear in a televised debate on NHS statistics and the future of the service.

He would be opposed by Professor Stephen Hawking, whose claims about the Conservative minority government’s plans for the NHS were attacked by Mr Hunt on Twitter over the weekend.

Here’s the challenge:

This Writer is particularly pleased that doctors are taking this step. As I stated in my article on the subject, on Saturday (August 19):

“Let’s see the Health Secretary prove his claims against the kind of forensic examination that the world’s greatest living physicist can provide.

“And let’s have it televised. How about it, BBC?”

Well? How about it, Mr Hunt?

Of course we don’t believe him! Jeremy Hunt is a liar – and a fool, if he thinks anybody else is stupid enough to be persuaded by his lies.

His “weekend effect” argument is particularly weak because – as has already been proved, he really did cherry-pick his evidence, as Stephen Hawking stated in his Guardian article.

Professor Hawking, who has Motor Neurone Disease and has, therefore, enjoyed considerable experience of the NHS since 1962, makes the point that it is unscientific to base an argument for anything on only part of the evidence that is available; science demands a solution that encompasses all the evidence.

Mr Hunt’s response was to make an evidenceless claim about the 2015 Fremantle study.

Source: Hunt v Hawking on the future of the NHS: Who do you believe? | Vox Political


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