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...

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 –...

Nationalism, Unionism, and a lack of Pragmatism

I would consider myself a unionist, if other unionists didn’t make it so fucking hard. Mike Nesbitt said, somewhat bravely, that he would be transferring to the SDLP, his fellow opposition party, in the 2017(a) Assembly Election. Thus bucking the typical, ‘transfer to other unionist’ instruction that has become an ever-present feature of tribal election literature. (And of course, on the nationalist side) Bravo Mike, bravo. This is the first act I’ve seen from Northern Irish political-unionist leader that has ever made me stop and think, “maybe… just maybe, there’s hope for them…” Of course, it’s full of nuance – in Nesbitt’s voting constituency, East Belfast, Andy Allen (UUP) isn’t exactly odds on to be re-elected, and even if he is, by the time he gets passed, the SDLP’s Séamas de Faoite will have been eliminated hours earlier, it’s an irrelevancy. But it’s the symbolism. The UUP voters that do listen to Mike or think like he does, will likely than transfer back inside the unionist club. (Although again, it’s not unlikely that Andy Allen won’t get re-elected, and if he does it will almost certainly be as the last candidate over the line.) The Northern Ireland Executive will be headed by a unionist party, and a nationalist party. Mike has made the pragmatic decision that he would rather that the nationalist party was the SDLP – and why the hell not. I have no doubt that the DUP would much rather that the largest nationalist party was the SDLP as well. Pragmatism: the quality of dealing with a problem in a sensible way that suits the conditions that really...
NI Waiting Lists are costing me my vision

NI Waiting Lists are costing me my vision

On the 5th of April 2016 I had eye surgery. Quite a horrible procedure actually, for an eye disorder called Keratoconus. The plan pre-surgery was for me to have an operation on one eye, and then approximately six weeks later, to have the operation on the other. It’s now the 10th of February 2017, and when I called the Royal Victoria Hospital today, I was told “there’s no date for you yet, but I’ll email again and ask if there’s a rough estimate for you.” I’m not filled with confidence. A little background: Keratoconus is a degenerative disorder of the eye, where the cornea warps into a cone shape, rather than the perfect curve which most people have. The lower eyeball in the graphic above shows what happens when light hits my eyes. Instead of it being focussed on my optical nerve, it bounces around, causing some problems. I get photophobic very easily. I wear sunglasses a lot, even indoors, and often at twilight when driving, because lights from cars just play havoc with my vision. I get headaches because of light sensitivity and in general my vision is getting bad. Five years ago, my vision was perfect… I mean like Legolas in Lord of the Rings perfect. Then i noticed my left eye was rapidly becoming harder to see clearly with, so i went along to an opticians who said it looked like I had Keratoconus (KC) and I should seek a referral to an Opthalmologist. Which I did and it was confirmed. In my left eye, it had progressed quite a lot, in my right eye though it...
DUP, RHI, Twitter Suspension, Censorship, and Optics

DUP, RHI, Twitter Suspension, Censorship, and Optics

Update: 31/1/17: my account has been suspended again. For the same reason and for the same tweet. Appeal 1 was rejected. So far. Update: 30/1/17: following 7 appeals through twitter support, all rejected; I contacted a number of senior Twitter figures. One of them responded and engaged, they took the time to listen and to actually care. Thanks to them, they saw that the complaint against me had absolutely no basis in fact and was against no rule. As such; I was immediately reinstated and the contested tweet remains. Victory. However, it shouldn’t be THAT hard to get a fair hearing. I am currently suspended from twitter. My account, www.twitter.com/belfastbarman, is visible to people, however I am unable to access it. On Friday 27th at around 10am, I was using the Twitter app on my iPhone, when it suddenly switched to the following displayed message. Not understanding what had happened, at all – and I truly mean, at all. I clicked, ‘Start.’ Which presented me with the following message. At this point, I believed I knew what the issue was. So let me explain. The DUP, Northern Ireland’s largest political party, far-right conservatives, staunchly Christian-fundamentalist, and currently embroiled in the, ‘Cash for Ash,’ scandal, also known as RHI. The DUP announced a candidate for the East Antrim constituency who runs a company called, ‘Stephen Ross Boiler Services & Repairs. Stephen Ross is also currently an elected Councillor in Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough Council… in light of the, ‘Cash for Ash,’ scandal, I believed that announcing Cllr Ross as a candidate was deeply ironic and had terrible, (pardon the political term…)...
Donald Trump Appears To Be So Desperate For Cash That He Is Breaking The Law

Donald Trump Appears To Be So Desperate For Cash That He Is Breaking The Law

As someone who was born in the UK and lived almost exclusively here since birth, with a brief period in Canada, I was quite surprised that Donald Trump was asking for my help in his campaign to become president. What could I do that the hundreds of millions who actually are American could not? As someone who makes a big deal out of being rich, why does he need $35 from me? And is that even legal? No. I’ve never registered support for any American presidential candidate. There are two plausible options as to how I got this email. Trump or one of his team randomly entered my email address into their database. Trump or one of his team has bought mailing lists in bulk from some marketing company, now he is sending mailshots to people who have no involvement whatsoever in Trump’s campaign, the Presidential campaign in general or even have nothing to do with America and AREN’T AMERICAN. But I definitely did not ‘opt-in’. I mean, I’ve not registered support for either candidate… of course I think that Trump is an evil runt of a man who might in fact be being controlled in a Lord Voldemort/Professor Quirrel-esque way by Dougal from The Magic Roundabout who has become symbiotically entwined with Trump’s brain… But ultimately, until the Dougal theory is proven, Trump is potentially in breach of Federal Election Commission legislation governing who can and can’t donate to an American Presidential campaign. He is DEFINITELY trying to persuade ME to act in breach of the FEC legislation.. Can non-US citizens contribute? Foreign nationals are prohibited from making...