Friday, July 27, 2012

Let Us Carry On With That Fantasy

We start today with a piece of proper good news for a change. The man who was - disgracefully - found guilty of sending an allegedly 'menacing' tweet has, rightly, won a challenge against his crass and stupid conviction for such nonsense. Paul Chambers, twenty seven, originally from Doncaster but who now lives in Northern Ireland, was - ludicrously - found guilty in May 2010 of sending a 'menacing electronic communication' in one of the most singularly shameful moments in British legal history. As if the criminal justice system doesn't have more important things that it should be dealing with - or, more often not dealing with - like the scumbags who rob people's homes and the muggers who terrorise the weak or those who have simply committed the crime of having more money than them, than to waste time - and, not inconsiderable amounts of taxpayer's money - on politically motivated shite like this. In May 2010, Chambers was convicted by the district judge, one Jonathan Bennett - who would appear to be a Grade A idiot of quite obscene proportions - sitting at Doncaster magistrates court and fined a grand including costs. In November 2010, the crown court judge Jacqueline Davies - Grade A idiot number two, it would seem - sitting with two magistrates, dismissed his appeal, saying that the electronic communication was 'clearly menacing' - which it wasn't, or anything even remotely like it, Jacqueline, m'dear - and that airport staff were 'sufficiently concerned to report it.' And the really worrying thing is, as far as this blogger is aware, both Bennett and Davies are still employed as judges. Now, that's something parliament should be debating. as we speak After a hearing at the High Court in London Chambers conviction was quashed. Chambers said that he had sent the tweet to his six hundred followers 'in a moment of frustration' after Robin Hood Airport, near Doncaster, was closed by snow in January 2010. He said that he had never thought anyone would take his 'silly joke' seriously. Sadly, he didn't foresee the utter rank numskull heed-the-ball stupidity of various police officers, the CPS and two judges who, frankly, all ought to be charged with a walking about during the hours of daylight with a singular lack of a sense of humour. The message Chambers tweeted stated: 'Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your shit together, otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!' Even if one accepts this - clearly - ironic statement at face value, as 'threats' go, it's about as threatening as Danny La Rue offering to take on the England rugby pack. In their judgement, the Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge, Mr Justice Owen and Mr Justice Griffith Williams, said: 'If the person or persons who receive or read it, [the message] or may reasonably be expected to receive, or read it, would brush it aside as a silly joke, or a joke in bad taste, or empty bombastic or ridiculous banter, then it would be a contradiction in terms to describe it as a message of a menacing character.' Last month, John Cooper QC told the appeal judges that it was 'obvious' to even the most humourless of glakes that the tweet was intended as 'a joke' and it was sent by someone who did not seek to hide his identity. It was certainly not sent in the context of terrorism and it was wrong for the crown court to make such an association, he said. Comedians Stephen Fry and Al Murray were among the high-profile supporters of Chambers' case. Fry later tweeted that the ruling was a 'complete vindication and victory' for Chambers. Yer actual Louise Bagashite Mensch, who is Chambers's constituency MP, was in court to hear him cleared. 'The Crown Prosecution Service owe the whole country an enormous apology,' she said, 'for having wasted public money and put him through two and a half years of serious stress for what was a joke.' Christ, it comes to a pretty sorry shite state of affairs when this blogger actually agrees with something Louise has had to say for herself. I hope you're thoroughly satisfied, CPS. 'When parliament returns we will be asking searching questions about why freedom of speech was trashed,' she continued. 'There was nothing menacing about this message. It was completely obvious.' Cooper said: 'It's an important decision for social networks. It means that in future not only does a message have to be of a truly menacing character but the person who sends it has to intend it to be menacing. Now people can have a joke even if it's a bad joke. This case should never have been prosecuted and it may be that the CPS will have questions to answer about this.' David Allen Green, Chambers's solicitor, said: 'This shameful prosecution should never have been brought. There are very serious questions for the director of public prosecutions to answer.' Some weasel of a CPS spokesman flannelled: 'It was important that the high court deliver a judgment on this matter so that both the public and those working in the criminal justice system could be certain of the law regarding the sending of menacing messages. We respect the court's decision and will not be appealing.' Yeah, whatever. So there you go, dear blog reader, it is now The Law that you can crack a - not particularly good, it must be said - joke using over-the-top rhetoric for the purposes of merriment and japery. Just four hundred years after Shakespeare wrote 'let us kill all the lawyers.' Whether the CPS will now seek a judicial ruling on Old William's right to say that and whether some skull-cracker of a judge out to make a name for themselves will say that he doesn't, we'll have to wait and see. Although, I think they might find the statue of limitations has run out on that one.

Meanwhile, this is funny for all sorts of reasons - not least, the heading that its under on YouTube

Undercover filming of PR executives discussing work for the Uzbekistan government for an Independent exposé was justified 'in the public interest,' the Press Complaints Commission has ruled. No, I thought the PCC had been thrown into the gutter along with all the other turds as well but, seemingly, they're clinging on to the final days of their tiny fiefdom by the tips of their fingers. The PCC threw out a complaint by the London PR firm Bell Pottinger over articles published in the Independent. Bell Pottinger executives were secretly recorded by journalists from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, who posed as clients on behalf of the Uzbekistan government. The Independent then published a string of articles exposing the executives various doings between 6 and 9 December last year, including a front page story headlined Caught on camera: top lobbyists boasting how they influence the PM. On Thursday the PCC rejected Bell Pottinger's complaint that the undercover recording breached the code's guidelines on the use of subterfuge. The commission found that the journalists behind the subterfuge were investigating specific allegations about Bell Pottinger raised by confidential sources 'rather than as a means of confirming a specific hypothesis.' Charlotte Dewar, the PCC's head of complaints and pre-publication services, said: 'This was a complex case which demonstrates the Commission's expectations that publications should be able to "demonstrate fully that they reasonably believed that publication, or journalistic activity undertaken with a view to publication, would be in the public interest and how, and with whom, that was established at the time."' She said the question will always be asked of any undercover investigation whether or not it was a 'fishing expedition.' Dewar added: 'This was a fine judgment but the commission was ultimately persuaded that the arguments put forward by the newspaper about the public interest justified the intrusion on this occasion.'

Dawn French is, reportedly, wanted by ITV bosses for future programmes. There's just no accounting for a lack of taste, is there dear blog reader? The Vicar of Dibley star - last funny in around 1984 - is said to have 'impressed' during her stint as a judge on the notorious ITV flop talent show Superstar, reports the Sun. So, this is almost certainly a load of lies in that case. 'Dawn played a very important part in the show,' an alleged ITV 'source' allegedly said. 'Her wit and warmth were very much valued.' I'm not sure, exactly, by whom since the show was an absolute ratings disaster only topping three million viewers on overnights on two occasions during its twelve episodes (the opening show, and the last).

Channel Four is to broadcast a live, advert-free, six-hour house party to celebrate 'clubbing and rave culture.' Sorted. The show will feature six hour-long sets from DJs including hip-hop pioneer Grandmaster Flash and Radio 1's Annie Mac. Channel Four said that the event would turn the TV 'into the ultimate DJ booth' with viewers able to request songs via social media sites. Or, you know, you could just go to a club and do that anyway. I'm just pointing out the obvious, here. House Party will be broadcast from midnight to six, man on Friday 24 August. As part of the London 2012 Festival, the show will also feature 'visual sets' from computer animators and graphic artists who will provide continuous video and graphics. Channel Four said that the event would be a 'genuine one-off' and would not be repeated or available on its on demand services. 'Like all the best club nights and parties if you want to be there you do have to actually turn up,' Channel Four's arts commissioner Tabitha Jackson said. Or, you could record it on video, or DVD, or one of those TiVio things yer actual Keith telly Topping doesn't know how to operate. That way, you can watch it, and still get a decent night's kip in yer pit. Double bonus. 'If we can pull it off, we will have created a pretty unique experience. Great DJing is about much more than just hitting play and standing there with your hands in the air. We are about to get up-close and personal with some of the world best exponents of the real art of turntablism.' I'm not, actually, sure that 'turntablism' is a proper word, mind, but, hey, they're trying we'll give them that. Before the live show, Idris Elba will also front How Clubbing Changed the World - a two-hour programme exploring how clubbing went from an underground movement to a multi-billion pound business. It coincides with the twentieth anniversary of the free rave at Castlemorton near Malvern in Worcestershire, which was attended by forty thousand revellers and lasted a week.

The BBC has lost exclusive radio rights to the FA Cup. It will now share the world's oldest domestic football competition for the first time with a commercial rival, TalkSport. It will be the first time that TalkSport has broadcast the FA Cup, in a new six-year deal which also includes England friendly internationals. UTV Media-owned TalkSport has also bagged the rights to broadcast FA Cup games around the world as part of its new global broadcast operation due to launch at the beginning of next season. The BBC has traditionally had exclusive radio rights to the FA Cup, to the consternation of TalkSport and prompting criticism from the BBC Trust three years ago, which said it was 'not value for money.' Thursday's announcement of the rights-sharing deal with TalkSport comes after the BBC, in the midst of a cost-cutting process aimed at saving seven hundred million smackers, said it will have to be ruthless over which sports rights it bids for in the future, and saved millions of pounds by sharing its Formula 1 TV rights with BSkyB. TalkSport programme director Moz Dee said: 'It's great for us because it opens up a whole new market for commercial radio and opportunity for sponsors and advertisers who want to be involved. It's interesting because is this the start of things to come, where the BBC having exclusive rights to this sort of thing is becoming a little bit more difficult for them, politically but also fiscally. The BBC has done a fantastic job with the FA Cup and I am sure they will continue to do so.' The deal also marks the first time TalkSport will broadcast England games outside of the World Cup and European Championships. The BBC retains the rights to all England qualifying matches for the big tournaments. Unlike the sharing of television football rights, where games are divided up between broadcasters, both BBC Radio 5Live and TalkSport are free to broadcast whichever games they choose, raising the prospect of going head-to-head. TalkSport International will launch in August, having already bought the global rights outside of Europe to all three hundred and eighty Premier League games, broadcasting them in English, Spanish and Mandarin. The commercial broadcaster's FA Cup deal is for UK and global rights, including Europe. It also includes the Community Shield and selected England games. TalkSport chief executive Scott Taunton said: 'The opportunity to broadcast FA Cup games internationally has been a key part of our global plans for TalkSport Live and today's rights announcement opens up the European market to us. We are in the process of creating a network of global radio and distribution partners for TalkSport Live.' BBC Radio 5Live controller Adrian Van Klaveren added: 'The agreement means we can continue to offer 5Live listeners the best coverage of matches and tournaments which they really care about. We're delighted that we will continue to capture all the action and drama over the next six seasons.'

The Greek athlete Voula Papachristou has been thoroughly expelled from the Greek Olympic team over a racist tweet and apparent support of a radical right-wing political party. The tweet, originally written in Greek, references the appearance of Nile virus-carrying mosquitoes in Athens: 'With so many Africans in Greece, at least the West Nile mosquitoes will eat home made food!' The triple-jumper previously caused controversy by re-tweeting a comment criticising immigration from Ilias Kasidiaris, a politician part of the far-right Golden Dawn party, famous for slapping a female politician live on television. The Greek Olympic Committee released a statement on Wednesday confirming Papachristou's expulsion from the team. Papachristou also made a statement on Twitter yesterday, apologising for the racist tweet: 'I am very sorry and ashamed for the negative responses I triggered, since I never wanted to offend anyone, or to encroach human rights. I would like to apologise to all my friends and fellow athletes, who I may have insulted or shamed, the National Team, as well as the people and companies who support my athletic career. Finally, I would like to apologise to my coach and my family.' Note, she didn't apologise to the mosquitoes, however. Scum.

Olympic officials in London were to blame for the infamous flag row which jeopardised a women's football game at Hampden Stadium in Glasgow, it has emerged. The North Korean women's team walked off after a video introducing their players showed the South Korean flag on Wednesday evening. They later returned to play the match. And won. BBC Scotland says that it understands the video package was 'sent from London' and Hampden organisers had no input into it. Prime Minister David Cameron, dragged unwillingly into the row, said it was 'an honest mistake.' As opposed to, what, a dishonest mistake? Jesus, this man is running your country, dear blog reader. It's a wonder we haven't capsized into the sea, yet. In a news conference on the eve of the opening ceremony of the games, he told assembled journalists: 'This was an honest mistake, honestly made. An apology has been made and I'm sure every step has been taken to ensure these things don't happen again. We shouldn't over-inflate this episode - it was unfortunate, it shouldn't have happened and I think we can leave it at that.' You can absolutely bet that the North Koreans won't be leaving it at that, Dave. BBC Scotland's Olympics correspondent Kheredine Idessane said: 'These video packages are sent centrally from London, out to the other venues, so, this isn't a Glasgow problem. There were the correct North Korean flags flying in the top tier of the stadium where they have all the flags displayed from countries who are competing in the tournament.' The North Korean team could only be persuaded to return for their match against Colombia after the error was corrected. As yet the London games organisers have been unable - or, more likely, unwilling - to clarify exactly who actually made the video. And how much they got paid for doing so. The blunder had the impact it did because of the situation which exists between both Koreas. Both countries are still technically at war after the 1950-53 conflict ended in an armistice. It's only about a million landmines in a strip of land a couple of miles wide that's keeping the tow of them from tearing each other apart on a weekly basis. You know, a bit like Leeds on a Friday night. Speaking after the match, North Korea's coach Sin Ui Gun said: 'Our team was not going to participate unless the problem was solved properly.' A statement released by London 2012 organisers said: 'Ahead of the women's football match at Hampden Park, the Republic of Korea flag was shown on a big screen video package instead of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea flag. Clearly that is a mistake, we will apologise to the team and the National Olympic Committee and steps will be taken to ensure this does not happen again.' The incident made headlines around the world - except in Communist-controlled North Korea where, ironically, it didn't. State news agency KCNA reported the women's Olympic football team beating Colombia 2-0 but made no mention of the flag row. Although even they though that was a foul on Craig Bellamy and reckoned the referee and his assistant bottled it.

London 2012 has seen its first world records broken as the South Korean archery team set two landmarks at Lord's. Im Dong-hyun, who is legally blind in one eye, set an individual record in Friday's ranking round. In the team event, Dong-hyun, Kim Bubmin and Oh Jin-hyek set a new landmark. South Korea's archery team is regarded as the best in the world and has won fifteen gold medals since 1984. Something which North Korea should probably bear in mind if they're planning on any tactical nuclear strikes over the flag incident. Things fly in both directions. And arrows can really hurt. Just ask the French about 1415 and they still wince. Dong-hyun, who won team golds at the past two Games, broke his own seventy two-arrow mark of six hundred and ninety six by three points. Then, alongside Kim Bubmin and Oh Jin-hyek, he helped score a two hundred and sixteen-arrow total of two thousand and eighty seven, passing the world record by eighteen points. Lord's, the home of cricket, played host to the men's individual ranking round on Friday morning and will hold the men's team gold medal match on Saturday. South Korea's men are reigning world champions and have taken four of the six Olympic titles since the sport was added to the Games in 1988. Dozens of spectators were denied entry to the event, the first London-based action of the Olympics, as it was held behind closed doors. Lord's venue manager Vanessa Bellamy said: 'This has always been a non-ticketed event but it seems some people believed they could come down on the day.'

The International Olympic Committee is being blamed for preventing Radio 4 and Radio 5Live fans on holiday abroad from listening online to BBC shows, including Today and PM, for the duration of the London 2012 Games. None of Radio 4's news programmes will be available to listen to internationally, apart from some non-games related elements of Today, because the corporation's media rights agreement with the IOC bars it from broadcasting anything online outside the UK from the Olympic Park or other Olympic venues. The IOC ban will also hit Radio 5Live news shows being broadcast live from London 2012 venues, including Live Olympic Breakfast, for the duration of the games. It is too complicated – and expensive – for the programmes to be re-edited for the international audience because of the amount of Olympics content involved, so the programmes affected have been taken offline permanently for the duration of the games, according to a BBC spokesman, with the exception of Today. As a result, holidaying Radio 4 listeners will have to go without many of the station's regular news programmes for the duration of the London Games, which officially starts on Friday evening and runs until Sunday 12 August. Which the Gruniad Morning Star seems to think its readers should all be up in arms about. Nobody else seems particularly bothered. The exception is Today, with the BBC planning to edit out Olympic elements and put the rest of each edition of the show online. However, on days when the show has a lot of Olympic coverage – such as Thursday and Friday this week – Today will also be blocked for overseas listeners. When listeners tried to access the audio for Today from abroad on Friday, they received the following message: 'The BBC's agreement with the International Olympic Committee means we are not allowed to broadcast anything online outside the UK from the Olympic Park or Olympic venues. As a result, this programme may need to be blanked for International listeners due to rights issues surrounding Olympic content in programmes.' The BBC's agreement with the IOC also prevents it from broadcasting any Olympics archive material online outside of the UK. 'We love all our listeners, but the Olympics makes up a large proportion of our news programmes at the moment and we simply don't have the staff to edit the programmes and put them up online,' said one alleged BBC 'insider', allegedly. 'We don't have the rights to broadcast anything from within the Olympic Park or the archive. On the one hand, it is a great shame. On the other, people listening from abroad don't pay the licence fee.' A BBC spokesman said: 'The BBC is not host broadcaster for the London 2012 Olympic Games. The host broadcaster is OBS, who have been appointed by LOCOG and the IOC. OBS provide a feed for all rights-holding broadcasters across the globe, including the BBC. The BBC holds broadcast rights for the UK only and cannot therefore provide international streams of programmes containing output from Olympic venues.'

Thousands of protesters have blockaded the studios of Televisa, Mexico's most popular TV network, accusing it of biased coverage of the 1 July presidential election. Shouting 'Tell the truth,' the demonstrators, including students and union workers, stopped employees entering the offices of the Televisa studios in Mexico City although they allowed others to leave. The protesters allege that Televisa supported Enrique Peña Nieto, who won the election by almost seven percentage points over leftist Andrés Manuel López Obrador. The protesters promised to continue the blockade for twenty four hours. Then, presumably, go home and watch the highlights. On Televisa. Televisa, which carried on broadcasting as normal, argued that it covered the election fairly and gave time to all candidates on primetime news shows. A bit like FOX News. Televisa is the world's most popular Spanish language network and sells its soap operas around the globe. López Obrador has claimed that Peña Nieto paid Televisa for favourable coverage and bought votes. He has filed a legal challenge to the vote with an electoral tribunal, asking it to annul the ballot. The tribunal has until September to rule on the accusations and officially declare Peña Nieto as president. It is widely expected to uphold the vote.

And so, dear blog reader, to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. This would appear to rather appropriate. Happy opening ceremony.