Inflated Expectations

A week or two before Donald Trump visited the UK, some people decided to make a balloon caricaturing him as a baby which they promised would soar over London:

Looks impressive, eh? And it should be given it cost just shy of £18,000. It was actually pretty well designed:

Regardless of what you think of Trump or the protest, it is quite a good caricature and I found it funny. However, having been promised this:

We got this:

As one American put it:

Somewhere in Britain there’s a balloon manufacturer who’s just fleeced a load of dumb lefties out of eighteen grand. A lot of people also recalled this part of the story:

The “Trump baby” balloon is due to fly on the Friday morning, after campaigners raised £16,000 to pay for it and the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, gave permission for it to fly. “The mayor supports the right to peaceful protest and understands that this can take many different forms,” a spokesman for Khan said.

One can understand permission might be required from a city mayor to fly something the size of a WWII barrage balloon at a thousand feet. But a balloon the size of a transit van at twenty feet? A free people, indeed.

For a protest, it seems to have been lame even by lefty standards. Here’s what the organiser had to say:

Leo Murray, an environmental campaigner behind the balloon stunt, said the protest was intended to play on Trump’s psychology. “He’s a deeply insecure man, and that is the only leverage we have over him. If we want his attention, we have to do something that humiliates him.”

The idea that a billionaire who cut his teeth in New York real estate, lives in a skyscraper with his name on, and has married two supermodels is insecure is rather fanciful. They’re so used to craven, grovelling politicians they’ve mistaken Trump’s ability to answer back and stand up for himself as insecurity. I doubt Trump paid much attention to the balloon, and if he did react it would come in the form of trolling which would have the likes of Leo Murray foaming at the mouth. After all, would anyone sane take this seriously?

Somehow, the people behind this stunt believe it humiliates Trump.

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And now it’s murder

Oh:

Police have launched a murder inquiry after a woman exposed to nerve agent Novichok in Wiltshire died.

Dawn Sturgess, 44, died in hospital on Sunday evening after falling ill on 30 June.

Charlie Rowley, 45, who was also exposed to the nerve agent in Amesbury, remains critically ill in hospital.

Theresa May said she was “appalled and shocked” by the death, which comes after the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury.

Which comes four months after the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter. So, what are the likely scenarios here:

1. Putin ordered the Skripals murdered by Novichok, and four months later put the hit on a couple of nobodies in the same area. If someone – anyone – wants to come up with a plausible theory as to why he’d do this, I’m all ears.

2. Putin ordered the Skripals murdered by  Novichok, and somehow two nobodies ran into the same stuff by accident four months later. As Jason Lynch (who, incidentally, should be leading the investigation) points out in the comments, this is not implausible and consistent with a nerve agent being trampled around the place. However, unless a clear link between the two cases can be established, e.g. a common location between each victim, it’s going to be hard to convince people – especially Russians – that this is the same case. So far, it’s not looking good:

In a statement, the Met Police said the possibility the poisoning of the Skripals and Ms Sturgess and Mr Rowley are linked is a “clear line of inquiry”.

A spokesman said the investigators are “not in a position to say whether the nerve agent was from the same batch that the Skirpals were exposed to”.

He also said: “There is no evidence that (Ms Sturgess and Mr Rowley) visited any of the sites that were decontaminated following the attempted murders of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in March.”

3. The two cases are separate attacks, and nothing to do with Putin.

Combined with my skepticism over the initial attack, I’m going with No. 3. I don’t know what the actual cause is – someone gone rogue at Porton Down? – but hopefully now a murder enquiry has been launched, we’ll find out:

Mr Basu said the death “has only served to strengthen our resolve to identify and bring to justice the person or persons responsible for what I can only describe as an outrageous, reckless and barbaric act”.

He said: “Detectives will continue with their painstaking and meticulous work to gather all the available evidence so that we can understand how two citizens came to be exposed with such a deadly substance that tragically cost Dawn her life.”

Now I hope this is true. But I don’t have much confidence that, should the evidence start pointing in a direction which might cause Theresa May and her government considerable embarrassment, it won’t be buried without trace. I suspect the outcome of the investigation will be an inconclusive fudge with just enough wriggle-room to keep blaming Russia.

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Starichok

Well this is interesting:

A man and woman found unconscious in Wiltshire were exposed to Novichok – the same nerve agent that poisoned ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal, police say.

The couple, believed to be Charlie Rowley, 45, and Dawn Sturgess, 44, fell ill at a house in Amesbury on Saturday and remain in a critical condition.

[T]here is no evidence to suggest either visited the sites that were decontaminated following the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in March.

Now the British government, and many on this blog, declared that the use of Novichok in the Skripal case indisputably meant the substance came from Russia and therefore Putin’s government was behind the attack. Indeed, this is the precise accusation Theresa May levelled at Putin, who laughed it off. As readers may recall, I believe May’s actions were hasty and the Russians’ flippant response was possibly an indication it was nothing to do with them. This was poo-pooed on the grounds that only Putin could order a Novichok hit and had every reason to want Sergei Skripal dead.

So in light of these recent developments, I hope someone has a plausible reason as to why Putin – for it must surely be he – now wants two more people in Wiltshire killed with Novichok. It’s going to be somewhat embarrassing if we discover there are people other than Putin playing with Soviet-era nerve agents in the UK, isn’t it?

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Yes, railway tracks are incredibly dangerous places

From the BBC, a couple of weeks ago:

Three men have died after being struck by a train near a south London station.

It is understood that spray cans were found near the bodies of the men, who are believed to be in their 20s.

Police were called to Loughborough Junction station, near Brixton, at about 07:30 BST and the three were pronounced dead at the scene.

The deaths are being treated as “unexplained” and police are investigating how the men came to be on the tracks.

Unexplained? Well, they were struck by a train which is normally fatal and as a minimum rather detrimental to ones health. As to why they were on the tracks? Well, it’s a real mystery, isn’t it? Perhaps these three men had spotted some rust on a piece of vital equipment and, good Samaritans that they were, had headed out in the dead of night with some Hammerite. Or – and I’m just throwing this out there – they were adding to the graffiti which adorns every flat vertical surface within ten metres of a railway line seemingly everywhere in the world save Singapore. At which point my sympathy disappear in a puff of smoke, along with that of most Twitter users who remarked on the story. However, as reader Rob Harries points out, there’s always a lefty journalist who can’t help but wring their hands in a public display of virtue signalling:

Predictably, when someone tries to explain that the driver might not have been aware he’d hit anyone:

I’ve recently been accused of being an old fashioned type and maybe this is an example of it, but I think prominent women would be taken more seriously on the internet if they didn’t say things like this in the middle of an adult conversation.

Anyway, back to the BBC article:

It is believed the victims could have been struck overnight, when freight trains use the rail network more frequently as the passenger pathways are clear.

Speaking about the spot where the bodies were found, Supt Allingham said there “isn’t a sort of safe refuge up there, so if somebody was on those tracks there wouldn’t be anywhere for them to go to avoid the train”.

“If they’ve been caught in that section of track when a train came through then they really wouldn’t have had much options,” he added.

The deceased men might have been smart enough to check the passenger train timetables before wandering around on the track, but that wouldn’t save them from freight or unscheduled trains. The bottom line is railway tracks are horrendously dangerous places to be standing about in, and this is easily realised by standing on the platform of a small station through which intercity trains pass without stopping. It’s not just the speed as it rushes past; when watching it approach, try to work out which line it’s going to take through the station. Often you can’t tell until it’s flying past you, seemingly choosing its track at the last second. If you’re wandering around on a set of tracks and you see a high-speed train approaching, how do you know which line to stand in safely? You don’t, of course.

The incident reminded me of a tragic accident which occurred back in 2002 (emphasis mine):

A railway worker from south Wales was knocked down and killed by a 90mph train after accidentally stepping into the wrong line.

Colleagues of the 22-year-old man – who was from the Rhondda valley – watched in horror as the high-speed Silverlink train mowed down the 27-year-old man, killing him instantly.

The shocked driver of the Euston to Birmingham train has told investigators that the Balfour Beatty sub-contractor stepped onto the track as he approached the team of engineers – and he was powerless to avoid him.

Two other tracks which the sub-contractors were working on when the tragedy happened, had been closed to all trains.

However, the slow tracks alongside the closed lines were still open to all trains and it is believed the contractor strayed off his track into the path of the train.

Railways workers need to be very sure which tracks are “open” and which are closed, and this wasn’t the only incident of its kind around that time. Two years earlier some poor student was sent onto the tracks without proper training or supervision (again on behalf of Balfour Beatty), with tragic results:

A student who died after being hit by a train while working part-time for a railway maintenance sub-contractor was “unlawfully killed”, an inquest jury has decided.

Michael Mungovan, 21, was working without qualified supervision near Vauxhall station in south London on 9 October, 2000, Southwark Coroner’s Court was told.

His family blamed a lack of training for his death and police have confirmed they will reopen the criminal investigation.

Mr Mungovan began the job three days earlier, a post he was given by employment agency McGinley Recruitment Services.

Mr Mungovan was part of a two-man team securing a section of track for maintenance on one of the busiest lines in the country.

As he walked between two live rails, he was hit from behind by a train travelling at 50mph while walking up the wrong line, and died instantly.

Going onto the tracks is dangerous enough for railway workers, so for members of the public to do so is insane. Regardless of whether the men in the first story were up to no good, they were in grave danger the moment they decided to go onto the railway tracks. At their age, and with the number of warning signs, they only have themselves to blame. Stay off the tracks, people.

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

The media on both sides of the Atlantic is getting all giddy over a young Latina who will be the Democrat candidate for a New York congress seat. As the BBC reports:

A millennial candidate has shaken up the US Democratic Party by defeating the incumbent congressman for his seat.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 28, defeated political veteran Joe Crowley, 56, on Tuesday night in their party’s congressional primary in New York City.

She led a progressive campaign, supporting universal healthcare, tuition-free college and criminal justice reform.

Following Ms Ocasio-Cortez’s win, Merriam-Webster tweeted that socialism emerged as their top search item.

This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, and I think we’re going to see more of this. As the ZMan pointed out, if you import a lot of people from Latin American cultures pretty soon you’re going to get outbreaks of Latin American politics. Ms Ocasio-Cortez sounds in many ways like Hugo Chavez, promising lots of free stuff while making a big deal about her humble origins:

One of the many new female faces joining US politics this year, Ms Ocasio-Cortez is a Bronx-born Latina, a community organiser and educator from a working-class background.

A community organiser, eh? Where have I heard that before?

Now Ms Ocasio-Cortez’s socialist politics might be daft, but Americans are going to have to take her seriously anyway. A lesson the British political classes ought to have learned from Jeremy Corbyn’s unexpectedly good showing in the last general election is that waving your hand dismissively and saying “Ha, socialism doesn’t work!” doesn’t work any more. People think by pointing to the failures of the Soviet Union they can undermine a candidate’s socialist policies, but you might as well point to the Ming Dynasty for all the relevance that has to a Millenial. To counter someone like Ms Ocasio-Cortez, Americans are going to have to be smarter than Theresa May was when she ran against Corbyn. That means acknowledging that, while her solutions might be insane, she is probably highlighting genuine concerns among her supporters. One of  the few things Corbyn’s detractors are willing to admit is his fans do have genuine grievances, not least a housing market which has been utterly rigged to benefit those older than them.

Republicans and sane Democrats (if there are any left) are going to have to come up with policies to address certain problems ordinary people have, especially feelings of alienation and isolation from an elite ruling class. This stuff is the bread-and-butter of populists and basing a campaign around it is a good way to get elected. In this regard, Ms Ocasio-Cortez is not too different from Trump who tapped into such resentment and suddenly found himself in the White House. The worst thing Republicans can do is ignore where her supporters are coming from and scoff airily about socialism as a concept. Given most American politicians are multi-millionaires and Washington D.C. functions like an imperial capital, hoovering up every loose dollar, redistributing billions along political lines, and enriching the ruling classes in the process, many young Americans might be forgiven for thinking socialism is what they have already so a little more can’t hurt. They’re wrong of course, but a proper case needs to be made as to why. Unfortunately, the American right are as firmly entrenched in the status quo as the left, and presenting alternatives, e.g. a smaller federal government and increased localism, would require a level of introspection and reform they’ve been unwilling to undergo in generations. This is a major reason why the likes of Ms Ocasio-Cortez can find a willing audience.

However, there’s another side to Ms Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign:

She says she decided it was time her New York City district was represented by a young progressive woman of colour after watching the election of Donald Trump as president.

She described her congressional district in an interview with US news outlet Mic during her campaign. “Our median income is around $47,000 a year, we’re about 70% people of colour,” she said. “We’ve had the same representation for a generation.”

Embracing identity politics seems to be the direction in which the left is heading in the US: if you’re black, you vote for a black person. If you’re Latin American, you vote for a Latin American. This is actually how it works in most of the world, i.e. you vote for the person with whom you share an ethnicity. Europe and the US are notable exceptions, but that is rapidly changing. If Ms Ocasio-Cortez believes Latin Americans in the Bronx should vote for her because she’s Latina and this view becomes widespread, eventually white people are going to vote for white candidates. In a generation, a candidate being an old white man might be his greatest asset rather than the liability it is now.

Ms Ocasio-Cortez has burst onto the political scene waving the dual flags of socialism and identity politics. I suspect it will be a matter of time before the Democrats are completely consumed by both, and the America right had better be ready to deal with it.

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A Sign of the Times

Writer Helen Dale makes an interesting observation on Twitter:

This struck me as an interesting juxtaposition of ultra-permissiveness and authoritarian nannying and control. There is something very confused about a city authority that encourages people to let it all hang out while monitoring the same people for transgressions.

Since New Labour, successive governments have sought to run the country with an increasingly long, confusing, and ever-changing checklist of what people ought to do and what they musn’t. None of this is based in any logic, principle, or coherent ideology; these people have no idea who they are trying to be or what they want to achieve. Rainbow coloured signs warning people they’re being monitored is one of many indicators of a fearful establishment ruling with increasing desperation over a population they no longer understand.

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Upskirting

This story and accompanying video crossed my Facebook page late last week:

Gina Martin was at a festival when a man took a photograph up her skirt and shared it with his friends. When the police told her they could not do anything because upskirting was not a crime, she started a campaign. This is how a 26-year-old woman with no legal or political experience is trying to change the law.

The first thing that crossed my mind was that these festivals probably attract weirdos and sex pests who mark down lefty women with facial piercings, tattoos, or funny-coloured hair for special attention. Trying to change national law based on what went down at a festival is a bit like campaigning for restrictions on alcohol after a bad experience on a stag do in Prague. Now upskirting – the practice of taking a photo up a woman’s skirt without her permission – is an unpleasant thing to happen and I can see why women want it stopped, but there are a few points I’d like to make before we rush headlong into creating yet more laws.

Firstly, let’s not pretend this is something so traumatic it needs to be dealt with as matter of priority by the national government. I haven’t seen any upskirting pictures but I can’t imagine they show very much other than some blurry skin and what might be knickers. As the police mentioned in the video said, they’d show more than you’d them to show, but they’re hardly pornographic and you couldn’t identify anyone from them. When the woman in the video says “I had no rights over my own body at that point” she is engaging in laughable hyperbole which is all too common when talking about women’s rights in the modern era.

Indeed, this looks to me like a campaign by middle class British feminists to further their credentials as perpetual victims; there are fewer more middle class pursuits than attending festivals and complaining about the behaviour of the people they encounter. Another sign this is more about advancing the political aims of feminists than women’s rights is the immediate demand the national government makes new laws criminalising men. Never mind how they are to be enforced: how is upskirting to be defined exactly, and what is deemed admissible evidence? The woman in the video snatched the offender’s phone and ran off with it, which is usually described as theft. Existing laws cover the creation and distribution of pornographic content especially where minors are concerned, and there are already laws regarding voyeurism. But the people pushing this don’t care, they just want more laws with which to threaten men who might be behaving in ways they disapprove of. How long before some poor sap is arrested for taking a picture on the tube while sat opposite a radical feminist in a short skirt, or for taking an innocent photo beneath an escalator?

The other issue is that feminists are in many ways responsible for what’s going on here. In order to fend off Cathy Newman, I am not saying women deserve upskirting for wearing revealing clothing. Instead, I’m saying their relentless campaign to emasculate ordinary, decent men and insist traditional gender roles are obsolete relics of a bygone era has left them vulnerable to the inevitable weirdos that prowl any society. I’ve written about that recently:

From what I can tell the main beneficiaries of feminists’ efforts to remove traditional male roles from society, and the collapse of common-sense policing, are sex-pests who are free to operate without fear of either.

There was a time when peeping Toms and upskirters would have been swiftly dealt with by those in the immediate vicinity of the offence; basically, a couple of blokes would have given him a good kicking and sent him on his way, and if he persisted or targeted children he’d have got a lot worse. Indeed, this is pretty much how it works in places where men are generally still expected to behave as men. But modern women decided they were strong and independent and didn’t need a chaperone. Only actually they do, just nowadays the chaperone is the government. Notice the first thing the woman in the video did is run to a policeman: having decided men no longer have a role to play in society as protectors of women’s decency, modern women rush to find a policeman as soon as they’re subject to what they believe is an indecent act. How this is supposed to demonstrate progress is beyond me.

It’s also revealing when she says “the authorities that were meant to be there to support me, now weren’t”. Well, yeah – imagine how the girls in Rotherham felt. One would have thought British feminists concerned with women’s rights had learned a harsh lesson in not relying on the police and other authorities to protect them, but it appears they haven’t. Instead, having seen the authorities utterly abandon working class girls to be raped by gangs of men from an alien culture, they think things will be different for them, presumably because they’re nice upstanding middle class girls with Instagram accounts and home counties accents.

Despite the defeat of the upskirting bill thanks to a Tory MP who thought the opposition shouldn’t be making laws, this will likely be railroaded through the legislature by Theresa May; this sort of thing is right up her street. We’ll see much celebration from wealthy, middle class feminists which will drown out the ongoing and actual sexual abuse of women up and down the country, followed by some token prosecutions of hapless men who took a photo at the wrong time in the presence of some deranged harpy. Otherwise, things will carry on much as before and soon we’ll be hearing how the childlike faith women put in government was misplaced, decent men have largely abandoned them, and we need yet more laws.

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An Illustration of a Changed Society

This thread was worth a read but it’s now protected, perhaps because of the reactions the author was getting to it. Basically, the lady in question was on the train in the UK and some creepy older guy sat down right beside two girls in their late teens and started harassing them. The lady intervened and the man spent the next few minutes yelling at her and became very aggressive, but ultimately left them alone. The girls thanked the lady, who lamented that nobody else in the carriage intervened. Now good on her for stepping in and rescuing the girls from this sex-pest, but there are good reasons why nobody helped her.

British feminists – of which the author is one, according to her Twitter bio – have spent decades eradicating traditional gender roles, and have been so successful that the role men now play in society is a mere shadow of what it once was. Indeed, many aspects of what was normal male behaviour is now illegal thanks to feminist lobbying. Now this may be a good thing for women in some ways but, like everything involving societal trade-offs, it came at a price. Men, having been told women don’t need their protection, having been accused of being rapists and sex-pests simply for being male, and having been told endlessly their natural behaviour is “problematic” to the extent young boys are given powerful drugs to control it, are now behaving very differently to how they used to. They are no longer chivalrous, they are no longer willing to assist strange women in distress, and are extremely risk averse. Feminists have worked extremely hard to emasculate men, and now they’re paying the price of living in a society where their efforts have been successful. Unbelievably, many seem to think their work is only just beginning and men are still a problem, but here we are.

In addition, men are now well aware that common-sense policing has long since disappeared and any interaction with Plod could well leave them in a world of trouble. If a man had intervened and a fight ensued, he would probably have been arrested. If he has a wife, a family, a job, or a mortgage the process in front of him might be very costly indeed. Why risk it? And how does he know what the circumstances are? For all he knows this might be a domestic dispute, and any intervention involving kids might see the idiotic police and feminist-driven CPS conspiring to put him on a sex-offenders register. Wasn’t there a story some years ago about a man being charged as a sex-offender after grabbing the arm of a young girl who was about to run into a busy road? Again, why risk it?

A few generations ago plenty of men would have done something in the situation described by the tweet’s author but society has changed, and this didn’t happen at the behest of the sort of men who would have come to the girls’ aid. Rather, the shift in societal behaviour was demanded by those who now lament the current state of affairs.  From what I can tell the main beneficiaries of feminists’ efforts to remove traditional male roles from society, and the collapse of common-sense policing, are sex-pests who are free to operate without fear of either. Well done, folks. Well done indeed.

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Modern Britain

There’s a lot going on in this story:

A community iftar meal traditionally held during Ramadan has this year been opened to members of the public.

Usually the only non-Muslims who flock to these events are politicians looking for a photo op. I’m curious as to who will show up to this one.

The free event has been organised by Qamar Abbas, president of UK Islamic Mission Solihull, and his team. He will also speak at the event, along with Idrees Sharif, vice president of UK Islamic Mission Midlands.

Taste Ramadan is an invitation to “share food and share friendship” and will take place at St Edburgha’s Church Hall in Church Road, Yardley, on Saturday, June 2.

Heh. This is either some serious high-level trolling, or Britain is being subject to a shit-test it’s failing miserably.

Confirmed attendees are councillors Babar Baz and Neil Eustace, West Midlands Police and representatives of several local churches including Stechford Baptist Church, All Saints Stechford and Corpus Christi RC Church.

I suppose this makes sense. Church attendances in Britain have been collapsing as proper Christians die off and the population switches to other forms of worship. Those running the Church of England and now even the Catholics seem little interested in taking religion seriously, so why not hand over the infrastructure to people who do? And how comforting to see Plod involved; we wouldn’t want them to miss out on free iftar food and not be on hand should anyone tweet something Islamophobic.

Mohammed Yasin, chairman of Stechford Mosque, some of whose congregation helped put together the event, said: “We have people from all religions and communities coming together to share an iftar meal and more.

“This is the first community iftar we have held in a church rather than a mosque and the first one we have opened up to the public. We hope to see people there from all walks of life.”

This all sounds rather positive. What’s not to like? Oh, wait:

He added: “This is a male-only event and the church has a capacity of 100 people.”

Over to you, feminists!

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Is this jury nullification?

Via JuliaM, this is an interesting story:

A father and son duo who opened fire on an police van have walked free from court after being cleared of attempted murder.

Richard Baldwin, an expert clay pigeon shooter, shot at an unmarked white van three times using his double-barrelled shotgun after thinking he was scaring off burglars from his property.

However the businessman was actually opened fire on a van which had two plainclothed police officers inside.

Maybe the prosecution aimed too high, and they’d have been more likely to secure a conviction on a lesser charge? I’ve been told that when Plod is on the receiving end of something he doesn’t like the charges are inflated, sometimes comically so. The downside to this is sometimes the charges don’t stick. But:

Both Mr Baldwin and his son were also cleared of an alternative charge of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent, possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, and carrying a loaded shotgun in a public place.

Hmmm. Perhaps there is something else going on?

Mr Baldwin, who was cleared of attempted murder along with his son, told The Daily Telegraph that he was ‘harassed’ by Irish travellers for more than a year before he opened fire on the police van.

Ah.

Luton Crown Court heard Mr Baldwin had become increasingly angry after police took 25 minutes to respond to his pleas for help.

Mr Baldwin took his legally-owned weapon and take matters into their own hand to track the suspected burglars.

Mr Baldwin made a number of calls to police regarding harassment of his family from the travelling community, but he claims they were ignored. An officer also told him not to use racially offensive terms when referring to travellers.

He claims that tyres and tools were stolen from Mr Baldwin’s garage and that he had never had problems with the travelling community until this group of people began to abuse him and his family.

Could it be the jury decided to signal its displeasure at useless Plod refusing to do their jobs, yet finding time to lecture the victims of crime on racism? I hope so. I’ve been saying for a while the British public ought to begin withdrawing their support from the police; jury nullification in cases where the defendant should never have been in that position were it not for useless Plod is one way to go about it.

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