Where Does Bad Journalism End And Fake News Begin?

I’m sure we’ve all heard criticism from the US President, and others, of the New York Times, and because of the era we’re in, we dismiss that criticism because of who it’s coming from. Should we? On May 24th the New York Times ran a story, an exclusive, with details about the Manchester bombing. That article can be found here. Found at the Scene in Manchester: Shrapnel, a Backpack and a Battery The Author, C.J. Shivers, is no new-dog-on-the-block. Shivers is a Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist – but wow did he get this one wrong. Now, the title of this blog questions when poor journalism becomes fake news. So, the part in question is towards the end of the New York Times article. Currently it reads as this: It is not clear from the law enforcement images if the object was a simple plunger switch, or included a timer or a receiver that could be operated remotely via radio signal – or some combination, or something else. Such redundancy, if the object was the switch, could give the bomber or a cell more than one option for deploying the device, and suggest that the bomb was not as simple in design as many terrorist devices, which often are crude and prone to failure or haphazard effect. However, this was not the original text as posted. When the New York Times article went live originally, it included the following section: (the differences are in bold) It is not clear from the law enforcement images if the object was a simple plunger switch, or included a timer or a receiver that...

Protected: Are the DUP fascist?

Fascism is somewhat subjective – many definitions to many people. A story has run today in the Belfast Telegraph where an Alliance Councillor has received criticism for drawing a link between the Democratic Unionist Party and fascism. Is it valid? The Councillor, David Armitage, referred to the following list: So, let’s take them one by one. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism Nationalism is, by one definition, the sense and feeling that ones loyalty to the concept and identity of one’s nation is more important than all else. One example of this might be, “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles,” – one example might be the kind of national insularism that fights back against perceived foreign influence (European Union?) or the influx of people who don’t automatically have the same sense of national belonging (refugees and migrants?). Another might be the “NEVER, NEVER, NEVER” response to Ireland’s claim on Northern Ireland. Never? Really, never? What if the UK is actually democratically led by Muslim extremists, reversing Article 50, cutting the Northern Irish block grant to £7.50 per year, and making it illegal for education here. STILL the United Kingdom is the best place for Northern Ireland? That sense of nationalism, of Britain First, is, among the DUP a very powerful and very continuing nationalism. Disdain for Human Rights Have the DUP ever displayed disdain for human rights? The Universal Declaration of Human Rights lists the following articles: The Right to Equality Freedom from Discrimination Right to Equality before the Law Freedom to Arbitrary Arrest and Exile Right to Fair Public Hearing Right to be Considered Innocent until proven Guilty Right to Free Movement In and Out...

Sinn Féin have been barking up this tree before. And caved before too

Many commentators have been quick to make the point that Sinn Féin are hanging their hat (and the future of the devolved Northern Ireland institutions…) on getting agreement to implement an Irish Language Act, but yet no such red line was drawn in previous post-election talks. Not so. This Belfast Telegraph article from the late Liam Clarke highlights what has transpired previously. This was written 2 weeks before the Stormont House Agreement was signed. Sinn Fein has set out a list of demands – ranging from millions of pounds in Stormont funding to an Irish Language Act – it wants to see movement on before signing off on any deal on welfare reform and the budget. Conor Murphy MLA (then an MP), said: It (the government) has failed to implement commitments such as Acht na Gaeilge (an Irish Language Act), the Civic Forum, an all-island Consultative Forum, North South implementation bodies and a Bill of Rights…The British Government has also refused to address its role and responsibilities in dealing with the legacy of the past. One observation I would make here is that in 2014, Conor Murphy seemed to accept, from the above language, that the responsibility for an Irish Language Act lay with Westminster and not at the door of the DUP. Following Sinn Féin laying out their stall in 2014 (as they have once again…), the DUP’s Gregory Campbell MP infamously said that the DUP would treat Sinn Féin’s entire wish list as “no more than toilet paper.” As it transpired, Sinn Féin signed up to the Stormont House Agreement with no guarantee on an Irish Language Act –...

Foster’s giant leap, and the community that accepted it for what it was.

On Thursday, March 23rd, 2017, a little piece of history was made. Not the burial of Martin McGuinness, although that was undoubtedly an historic moment in these isles if not beyond, but in Arlene Foster’s attendance at the funeral of McGuinness. There in the church alongside the assembled mourners, was former US President, Bill Clinton. It’s with that in mind that I’d like you to indulge me whilst I quote President Clinton. We all do better when we work together. Our differences do matter, but our common humanity matters more. – Bill Clinton A simple act, going to the funeral of a co-worker; an act which for most of us might be considered relatively normal. For Arlene Foster however, this was surely not such a simple prospect. There are those who will criticise her from each and every angle of this decision; but in their cynicism, they might be missing the other picture – the big picture of the person.  If I may quote one of Clinton’s predecessors. Never question another man’s motive. His wisdom, yes, but not his motives. – Dwight Eisenhower Was this a former (and possible future) First Minister attending the funeral? Or was it the person? Can it be both? Need it be both? Can’t it just be a daughter, a mother, a sister? I don’t want to go into her thought process too much, we know enough already – arguably too much. We shouldn’t know about the shooting of her father, an attempt to kill him; we shouldn’t know because it shouldn’t have happened. We shouldn’t know about the bomb which exploded on her school bus; we...

The Transfer Oddities of AE17a

I’m always interested in weird things – it’s a bit of an obsession. Ripley’s Believe it or not is kinda my jam. So after Assembly elections… after the counting is done and the candidates are returned (or crying at home), I like to look and see what bizarre things happened. The unlikely… the inexplicable… So, thanks to Bob Harper and Elections NI, I went through the counts, and, where possible (some stages aren’t calculable due to simultaneous events) noted down the kind of transfers that make you scratch your head and say, “seriously?” I considered it myself… In South Belfast, prior to going into the ballot box, my preferred order was: Paula Bradshaw (Alliance) Emmet McDonough-Brown (Alliance) Clare Bailey (Green) But I played with actually going with George Jabbour (NI Conservatives) Lily Kerr (Worker’s Party) John Hiddleston (TUV) Paula Bradshaw Emmet McDonough-Brown Clare Bailey Not because I wanted them to be elected, but because I knew they wouldn’t be… I wanted to give some fun to the counters, I wanted the following conversation to happen: “Who the hell went from the Tories to the Worker’s Party?? Who the HELL went from the Worker’s Party to the TUV?? WHO THE FUCK WENT FROM THE TUV TO ALLIANCE??” In the end though, I bottled it and felt the weight of democracy upon my shoulders, so I went with what was right, for me. Can the same be said for these other transfers from this recent election? North Belfast Julie-Ann Corr-Johnston (Progressive Unionist Party) – 14 transfers went from Corr-Johnston to Sinn Féin. 49 went from J-AC-J to the SDLP. Fiona Ferguson,...