Musicians Union backlash over Owen Smith endorsement

The Executive Committee of the Musicians Union is facing a backlash over its decision to support Owen Smith to be leader of the Labour Party without consulting members.

A letter of petition organised by musician, Dr Dave Camlin of Workington in Cumbria, has the support of 22 members. The proposed motion reads:

We, the undersigned members of the MU, move that the decision by the Musicians’ Union Executive Committee on 5th August 2016 to endorse Owen Smith MP in the contest for leader of the Labour Party is not necessarily representative of the views of MU members. Owing to the strength of feeling among the membership on this issue, we therefore propose that support for Owen Smith be withdrawn immediately, and the decision on who to support in the contest for leader of the Labour Party be suspended until such time as a ballot of all MU members’ views on the subject can be undertaken.

Musicians Union members organise an emergency motion to reverse the decision of its Executive Committee to support Owen Smith.
MC HAMMERED: Musicians Union members organise an emergency motion to reverse the decision of its Executive Committee to support Owen Smith. Courtesy: Obtained from

Dr Camlin explained his reasons for organising the emergency motion. “Many MU members were disappointed by the MU Executive Committee’s decision to endorse Owen Smith in the Labour leadership contest, as they didn’t feel they had been consulted on the matter, and many support Jeremy Corbyn,” he said. “The strength of feeling was evident by the huge number of critical posts on the MU Facebook page. However, because the MU is also a democratic institution, a number of members united to propose a motion to the EC to reverse the decision.
Hopefully this is a case of democracy in action – we hope that the EC will recognise the controversial and unrepresentative nature of their decision, and will want to withdraw support for Owen Smith immediately until they’ve had a chance to properly consult their members on the matter.
The ball is in their court, and we hope they do the right thing.

Prominent Musicians Union Member, Pontypridd Assembly Member Mick Antoniw, who shares the same constituency boundary as Owen Smith, has refused to confirm who he is backing in the race, but is known to have supported Jeremy Corbyn previously.

Campaign against ‘biased’ BBC reporter “sexist”

Laura Kuenssberg has been accused of bias and overdramatising political news at the BBC.
BIASED OR DRAMATICAL? Laura Kuenssberg has been accused of bias and overdramatising political news at the BBC. Courtesy: Policy Exchange

A campaign calling for the sacking of BBC political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, for her “biased” reporting of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party has been called “sexist.

Jane Merrick is a former Independent on Sunday political editor said those campaigning against Laura Kuenssberg are sexist. “She has been called a whore and a bitch on Twitter,” she said about Laura Kuenssberg. “Nick Robinson used to be accused of Tory bias but he never experienced this level of nastiness.

Such allegations of sexism have been denied by the person who started the campaign. “I have been accused of sexist trolling on Twitter,” he said. “I would like to reassure everyone that I am a passionate advocate for equality in all areas, not just gender equality.
This petition has precisely zero to do with Kuenssberg’s gender.
“Regardless of the gender you identify with, there is no excuse for biased reporting and misrepresentation of facts when you represent an organisation that has been famed for its impartiality and balanced approach.

Councillor Jonathan Bishop is a member of the National Union of Journalists and the Chartered Institute of Journalists. “It would appear that Laura Kuenssberg is biased against Labour, but with her reporting of the Conservative divisions on the same day as the Queen Speech shows it goes deeper than that,” he said. “Laura Kuenssberg has a record going back to 2009 of trying to create drama out of politics when in reality it is boring stuff that does not interest most people.
If Laura Kuenssberg wants to dramatise politics then she should not be working for an organisation like the BBC which is meant to be objective and impartial, but should instead work for the tabloids where her style of reporting is the accepted norm.”

Filippo Salustri under investigation

TROLL: Filippo Salustri has spread malicious information about an academic conference that competes with ones that he promoted.
TROLL: Filippo Salustri has spread malicious information about an academic conference that competes with ones that he promoted. Courtesy: Ryerson University.

Giselle Basanta, the Legal Counsel for Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada, has confirmed that Filippo Salustri is under investigation for misuse of a public communications network.

Filippo Salustri has been accused of spreading misinformation about an academic conference that competes with ones that he promotes. Filippo Salustri’s behaviour on the academic mailing list, PHD-Design, has also been questioned.

Discovering he was being investigated, Fil Salustri blasted Giselle Basanta. “This isn’t going to work on all kinds of levels,” he said about the investigation. “You’d’ve all known this if you’d’ve bothered to talk to me about this matter,” Filippo Salustri concluded.

UNDER INVESTIGATION: Fil Salustri is under investigation by Ryston University.
UNDER INVESTIGATION: Fil Salustri is under investigation by Ryerson University. Courtesy: Ryerson University.

Fil Salustri is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Ryerson University. He has been teaching, researching, and practising design engineering since 1989. Filippo Salustri is a founding member of the Canadian Engineering Education Association.

Filippo Salustri describes himself as a “secular humanist,” “meritocrat,” and “long-winded.”

Trolling expert speaks at student engagement conference

An Internet trolling expert has told a conference in Cardiff how the university it was held at could be an example of how to use existing policies to solve problems such as cyber-bullying through effective e-moderation.

Jonathan Bishop, who edited the book, Examining the Concepts, Issues and Implications of Internet Trolling, says that Cardiff Metropolitan University’s policies can be effectively implemented to prevent problems in online learning environments. “UWIC’s harassment and bullying policy seeks to resolve problems through informal processes and mediation prior to involving the police,” he said. “If this policy was followed in online learning environments then it would prevent the build up of problems that would result from going at a problem like a bull at a gate.”

Jonathan Bishop also explored other Cardiff Metropolitan University policies, such as those relating to IT and communications, student disciplinary procedures, student fitness to practice policies, among others. His overall message was that existing polices should be enough for challenges brought about by online environments. “Problems that occur offline are often the same ones that occur online, ” he said. “It is not necessary to have specific online policies as all that should be needed is for it to be made clear existing policies apply as much online as offline.”

Jonathan Bishop was speaking at the enhancing student engagement conference at Cardiff Metropolitan University on 20 April 2015.

Advice from the Attorney General not to identify victims in sexual offence cases

The Crown Prosecution Service has been asked to consider whether any criminal offences have been committed in regards to identifying the victim in the case pertaining to Ched Evans.

The Attorney General, Jeremy Wright QC MP, would like to remind editors, publishers and social media users that identifying a victim in a sexual offences case is a criminal offence and could be subject to prosecution. “Victims in sexual offence cases are entitled to lifelong anonymity and should not be named or identified publicly,” he said. “Anyone who is involved in the identification of a victim risks being prosecuted.
All complaints made to my office where a victim’s identity is supposedly revealed – whether it’s on social media, on websites or in newspapers will be investigated.

Section 1 of the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992 provides that complainants in sexual offence cases are entitled to lifelong anonymity in the media and should not be identified in a written publication available to the public or a relevant programme for reception in England and Wales. Section 5 makes it an offence to breach these provisions. A prosecution may be brought only by, or with the consent of, the Attorney General.

‘Send trolls to jail and give them turkey’ – Steve Rotheram

VOTING FOR TURKEYS? Steve Rotheram, pictured here with Ed Miliband, wants to send more trolls to jail and ensure they have Christmas lunch at the same time. Courtesy: Obtained from Steve Rotheram's website.
VOTING FOR TURKEYS? Steve Rotheram, pictured here with Ed Miliband, wants to send more trolls to jail and ensure they have Christmas lunch at the same time. Courtesy: Obtained from Steve Rotheram’s website.

Steve Rotheram, the UK Member of Parliament for Liverpool Walton, has been criticized by a prospective opponent ahead of the 2015 General Election.

Steve Rotheram recently confirmed that he felt it appropriate that prisoners at HMP Liverpool should be entitled to a Christmas lunch. “The fact that there are so many people in Liverpool having to access food banks because they can’t afford to put something on the table is an indictment of the government, and is no fault of prisoners,” he said. “Those who are incarcerated in prison need to be treated with dignity at Christmas as well.

But Internet campaigner Dzon, who is a prospective parliamentary candidate for Liverpool’s People’s Party, says Steve Rotheram’s views are inconsistent. “Steve Rotheram wants the introduction of tougher jail terms for Internet trolls,” he said. “Many of people convicted of trolling are young men in their 20s, often from impoverished backgrounds.
Would it not be better to allow these 20-year-olds to go to food-banks rather than waste taxpayers money incarcerating them for what in most cases could be seen as free speech?

Dzon has done research under his professional name of Jonathan Bishop, which has found that those who are actually likely to be doing trolling are people from wealthy areas who are bored, as the figures show that areas with the highest number of young people not in education, employment or training actually have the lowest levels of trolling. Dzon’s research is published in volume 5, issue 3 of the International Journal of E-Politics.

Facebook real names policy ‘misguided’ says expert

RESEARCHER: Jonathan Bishop has been researching misandry and misogyny on Twitter and finds feminists are trolled because of their misandry. Courtesy: Steve Powderhill Photography.
ON THE CARDS: Internet trolling expert Jonathan Bishop thinks social media website should verify user’s real identity while allowing them to use nicknames. Courtesy: Steve Powderhill Photography.

Internet trolling expert, Jonathan Bishop, has said the real names policy adopted by Facebook is misguided and won’t properly balance the freedoms of ordinary members of the public in the face of anonymous trolls.

Jonathan Bishop has long called for identity checks to be made on users of social media, but says that in the wake of the Defamation Act 2013 people should also be allowed to use nicknames. “Facebook’s policy that people should have to use the name on their credit cards will not solve the problem of Anonymous trolling,” he said. “They would actually have to require users to register their cards and that would allow them to have a person’s house number and post code to pass on under section 5 of the Defamation Act 2013 to anyone they spread defamatory remarks about.”

In July, Google dropped its real name policy, citing the fact that nicknames are commonly used. A spokesperson said they had intended to “create a community made up of real people,” but that the decision “also excluded a number of people who wanted to be part of it without using their real names.”

But Bishop said a balance can be struck by using behind the scenes identity checking. “Providing identity checks are done, such as by using credit cards, or indeed passport checks as used by Amazon, then users can be accountable,” he said. “People should still be allowed to use nicknames after their real identity is confirmed, but I also think pseudonyms that are intended to hide a users’s identity should be replaced with the choice to name oneself ‘Anonymous’ as that is the accepted shared name for those wishing to keep anonymity.
“The fact is that the Internet affords little right to anonymity to whistle-blowers in repressive countries as the governments can still read their emails and track their IP addresses.”

Many behind Foley video and email

A multimedia forensics expert has said that the video and email produced in relation to the apparent killing of James Foley were likely to be heavily edited and have had the involvement of more than one person in the audio, video and text used.

Jonathan Bishop, who edited the book, ‘Transforming Politics and Policy in the Digital Age’ says that regardless of whether James Foley was actually killed, it is unlikely it was done as presented in the videos and emails, which were optimised for their impact via social and mass media.

Bishop has a degree in multimedia studies and has published widely on computing and multimedia forensics. He believes that the video and email produced are doctored. “I think it is very likely that the Ji’hadic terrorist that could be heard in the video was an audio dubbing,” he said. “Anyone who has played Barbarian through to Mortal Kombat knows that when someone is beheaded there is blood, which was not seen pouring in the video.
Equally, in the case of the email there were rants and very few emphases, yet the voice in the video is very eloquent, with specific emphasis given to words and gestures, making the two completely different.
It is thus likely different people have been involved in the development of this propaganda and those who claim to have beheaded James Foley will not have been the Englishman as is thought, whose voice was used in order to create shock in the Western societies.”

Experts debate origins of ‘English Ji’hadist’

Experts are debating the origin and impact of the believed to be English Ji’hadist, called ‘John,’ who allegedly beheaded journalist James Foley.

Prof Paul Kerswill is a linguistics expert at the University of York. “He probably has a foreign language background but it sounds like multicultural London English, which is people from all kinds of backgrounds who mix in the East End, a new kind of cockney,” he said.

Dr Claire Hardaker is a linguistics experts at Lancaster University. “We’re definitely looking at a British accent, from the south, and probably from London, Kent or Essex,” she said.

Prof Peter Neumann is director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, at King’s College London, was concerned about the Ji’hadist’s links with Britain. “This is significant because it signifies a turn towards threatening the west,” he said. “They are saying we’re going to come after you if you bomb us.

Jonathan Bishop is an Internet trolling expert at the Centre for Research into Online Communities and E-Learning Systems in Swansea, who edited the book, Transforming Politics and Policy in the Digital Age. “It is clear that the Ji’hadists are looking to maximize their use of social media to assert their dominance over the West,” he said. “It is their intention to force Islam on countries that do not want it, in the same way the Zionists are trying to force a Jewish state on the Arabs in Palestine.
Until Ji’hads and Zionists alike accept that democracy is the only way for their views to be legitimately supported through a public vote, then their positions seem almost irreconcilable.

Cliff questions police motives

South Yorkshire Police, who covered up facts relating to the Hillsborough disaster, have been found to have informed the media of their search of the apartment of singer Cliff Richard, before they informed the star himself.

The disgraced police force fell short of the recommendations in the Leveson Inquiry in 2012, which recommended the role of the media in police inquiries should be “controlled more tightly” and should avoid the “perception of favouritism” and the “risk of violating the private rights of individuals.”

Following the raid of his private home, Cliff Richard released a statement. “For many months I have been aware of allegations against me of historic impropriety which have been circulating online. The allegations are completely false,” he said. “Up until now I have chosen not to dignify the false allegations with a response, as it would just give them more oxygen.
However, the police attended my apartment in Berkshire today without notice, except it would appear to the press.
I am not presently in the UK but it goes without saying that I will cooperate fully should the police wish to speak to me. Beyond stating that today’s allegation is completely false it would not be appropriate to say anything further until the police investigation has concluded.

Comparisons have been made with the allegations made by police officers against Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell, who resigned when headline-seeking police made false allegations about him.

The police system in the UK has already been under scrutiny. Earlier this year Home Secretary Theresa May withdrew government funding for the Police Federation. Others have called for police powers to be distributed among various agencies to avoid police corruption.

Police support from the media is not as forthcoming as it has been in the case of Cliff Richard. In July 2014 a South Wales Police investigation cleared PC Tim Davies of allegations he treated a journalist with disfavor when investigating allegations into news articles they wrote about a politician, which the journalist was later acquitted of. In April 2014 the Metropolitan Police issued another journalist with a harassment notice when he tried to investigate a convicted fraudster.

The police’s response to Cliff Richard is unlikely to be the last time the police mishandle the way the media are involved in their investigations.