The inventor of RSA's famous SecurID dongle has sued (PDF) Apple and Visa, alleging that both Apple Pay and Visa infringe four patents he owns.
Kenneth Weiss was the founder and CEO of Security Dynamics, the company that created the SecurID token used around the world to access secure computer networks. That company ultimately acquired RSA Security and took its name, then was bought by EMC.
Weiss left the company in 1996. By 2011, he had founded a new company, Universal Secure Registry, where he was working on mobile phone security.
Early in March, President Donald Trump surrendered his personal Android phone—the phone from which scores of controversial Twitter posts had been launched. Based on Twitter metadata, Trump retired the Android device after expressing outrage over the DNC's failure to let the FBI search its servers and taunting Arnold Schwarzenegger on March 5. The next day, he replaced it with an iPhone.
According to a report from Axios' Mike Allen, Twitter is the only application running on Trump's new iPhone. And on his current overseas trip, staff have tried to limit his screen time in order to reduce the volume of his 140-character missives, Allen wrote:
"I think it's time," said the Brigadier. "She seems ready."
"I agree," said the Group Captain, "she should be pliable enough, now. Let's bring her in tomorrow."
MI5, Fleet House, London.
Two surprisingly fit but otherwise almost aggressively ordinary-looking people escorted Lena Oxton towards an almost aggressively ordinary-looking private office with venetian-blinded glass walls in a room surrounded on three sides by other surprisingly fit but otherwise aggressively ordinary-looking people at aggressively ordinary-looking desks.
If Pure Gym had a security division, she thought, as she was not quite shoved, but quite briskly moved through the short glass hallway to her destination, this would be it. Crikey, those are thick walls - I'm in real trouble now.
"I'm a British subject, you can't do this. I've got rights." she said to the man at the desk, after the agents dropped her into a chair and exited the room. The man actuated a control, and the blinds closed, leaving them alone. He tapped at the nameplate on his desk - Group Captain Aubrey Henderson - and said, "Salute your superior, flying officer, or I'll have you for insubordination."
Flying Officer Oxton's heart leapt and she snapped to attention and saluted. "Sir! My apologies, sir."
"Much better," said the G/C. "At ease."
"Thank you, sir!" She burst out, too rapidly, "I've been trying to get someone to listen to me for weeks, and I've had a lot of nothing back for it. You're the first person who's even acknowledged who I am! I, I, I, didn't realise I'd been reactivated!" She beamed. At last, she thought, I've got through! "Sir!" She almost saluted again.
The older man glared, and she toned it down immediately. "I know," he grumbled. "We've been following you since you contacted the consulate in Pretoria. Sit." He motioned Oxton back to her seat, and sat down behind his desk. "Quite frankly, some of us have been hoping you'd just give up and go away, back to... wherever you came from."
"...sir?" said the Flying Officer, uncertainty replacing happiness on her face, as Imogen's words spooled through her memory. "I've been missing for..."
"I know the story," he interrupted. "You've told it about half a dozen times at this point, in full, I think?"
"...yes, sir. Before people stopped letting me in. Sir."
"It hasn't improved."
Not knowing what to say, Lena said nothing.
"Look at it from our standpoint," said the Omnic War veteran. "You die in a fighter test flight, killed over Greece. We retire you, with honours. We investigate, we find out your whole organisation was a horror, ridded with... funds abuse, embezzlement, questionable human experimentation, out-and-out war crimes, and even worse. And so, we put it away." He tapped the top of his cold, metal desk. "I put it away."
Oh no, thought Tracer. "Yes, sir."
"And now, two years after we finally had it all sorted, and the press have moved on and the public have started to forget and forgive, one of the few people not implicated shows back up, out of nowhere, outside our consulate building in South Africa, with a story not even a schoolboy would believe - the prodigal daughter returns, and starts poking her nose where it isn't wanted and no longer belongs."
"What do you expect us to think? What do you expect us to do with you?"
"Sorry, sir," she said, with just a hint too much insubordination, "I thought the military might want to know one of their missing officers was alive."
Cute, he thought. "It was that ape, wasn't it. Somehow, he brought you back. From the moon." He shook his head - it still sounded foolish aloud. "I can't blame him for that - you were friends. But I can blame him for whatever he's built into you."
Lena froze. I haven't been near a military examination room, how did they know? What else do they know? She swallowed. "...sir?"
"You're a not a terrible liar, pilot, but you're not a good one either. Bioluminescent tattoos isn't the worst line..."
"Regulation-compliant within Overwatch, sir, nothing visible in uniform," she interjected, before he sternly continued "...but it's still a line. You're six kinds of wired up, and we know it."
Shite, she thought, scrambling for some way to salvage the story, "Sir, Winston had nothing to do..." That's not better, think before you talk, Oxton!
"I'll pretend you didn't say that," he said, "because the alternatives are far worse. For you."
"...sir." she said, outright afraid now. He's called me F/O, I must have some standing, I can use that, I have rights. "Has my commission been reopened, sir?"
"Not formally," the G/C replied, "which is why you're not in the brig for desertion, first, and more severe charges, later." He sighed, and leaned back off the top of his desk. "I don't think you're a villain, flight officer. The problem is - none of us really know what you are. I've brought you in to offer you a way out. I'm offering you a deal - and I promise you, it was the very best one I could make."
"A deal, sir?" she said, quietly, stalling for time and thinking quickly, I can live without the service, she thought. I can live with that. I can still do good work. There are plenty of other opportunities for a good pilot. Médecins Sans Frontières, maybe, they can always use...
He picked a padd off his desk, and tossed it towards her to catch. "Approve this. We reopen your commission and close it, this time as a medical discharge. We give you five years' back salary - more than enough to get you on your feet. You go away, again, get a job, and and live a quiet life somewhere. You don't talk to the press; you don't write a book; you don't do video; you're Lena Oxton, ex-RAF, not Lena "Tracer" Oxton of Overwatch." He gestured towards the PADD. "Section IV invokes the Official Secrets Act - whether you agree or not."
Tracer shuddered at that, and it took a forceful act of will not to teleport out of the building. "You're one-thirty-fouring my life, sir?"
"No, not your life. Just Overwatch, and Tracer."
"Sir!" the pilot spat out, "This is unfair. This is wrong. You can't do this. Sir."
"Move out of London - preferably, somewhere unimportant - within a week. After that, never get within five kilometres of a military or intelligence base, unless specifically recalled, ever again."
That's a big no-fly zone, she thought. "That'll limit my opportunities as a working pilot, sir."
"Your license terminated with your death, Flying Officer, and you're not getting it back. You've been on every no-fly list in the world since you landed at Heathrow; you are grounded. Most likely, for good."
Horror flashed across Lena Oxton's face, and she bolted up from the chair. "Sir! No, sir! You can't do that to me, sir!"
He barked the words, every syllable a body blow, staccato against her frame, "I can and I have, and if you have any sense at all, your next action will be to sit back down, and your next words will be 'Yes sir, I accept, sir.'"
Lena stopped herself - barely - from screaming at the Group Captain, composed herself as best she could, sat, and managed, shakily, "...but flying... being a pilot... it's all I ever wanted. Sir."
Group Captain Henderson let his expression, and his voice, soften a bit. He remembered that feeling - love of the air, the altitude, the endless sky, the pure speed. "I know."
Flying Officer Oxton straightened a bit, and stood her ground. "I've done nothing wrong. Sir. Except die in an experimental vehicle that exploded around me. It wasn't my fault, I'm pretty sure the record shows that, and I don't see why I should lose my license over it. Sir."
"Your record does show that," he agreed, almost kindly, "and, if you agree, it will continue to do so." Then, with a harder edge, "But if you didn't think we'd find out about that device you have embedded inside you, you underestimated us badly."
Keep it together, Tracer, keep that trim tight, she thought. "I, I..." The jig's up now, but... "I need it. It keeps me from sliding back out of time. Sir."
Thank god, thought the Group Captain, exhaling slowly, she said it. "Good. You admit you know. I'd hoped you finally would." It means if you behave, we might actually honour this agreement,, he did not add aloud. "But we don't know what else it does, and the only way to know, for sure, would be to take you apart, all the way down, and study what was left. The only reason we haven't done that already is that you tried so very hard to get our attention."
"Sir." This can't be happening, she thought.
"Would you rather we changed our minds about that, Ms. Oxton?"
"...no," she said, bitterly, "Sir."
The Group Captain nodded. "Then accept the agreement, and you walk out of here a civilian, and intact. We'll be keeping an eye on you, of course, but stay quiet, let people continue to forget all of this, don't do anything stupid, and we'll leave you alone." The older man - older than Ana, probably older even than Reinhardt - leaned forward, with as much compassion as he could push into his blunt, once-chiseled face, and said, "Just walk away, Oxton. This really was the best I could get you. Walk away, and go live your life."
Lena Oxton sat in the chair, suddenly feeling strangely calm, separate, isolated. This is the second time since the explosion I haven't really had a choice, she thought, as she reached out her hand and pressed her thumb against the acceptance screen. I like it this time much less.
Former Flying Officer Lena "[Redacted]" Oxton left the MI5 building for the first and last time. Money instantly appeared in a bank account, a fair and reasonable sum. Ms. Oxton checked that account, took a little bit out in cash at an access point, and treated herself to a lavish dinner, which tasted like nothing, then box seats at a show at the Palace Theatre, which left her utterly unmoved.
Then she walked, and walked, and walked, and walked, around Old London, past Piccadilly and past St. James and past Westminster and along the Thames and across and past the Tate and past the ruins of the London Bridge and back across the river and past St. Paul's and then she didn't even notice anymore, until hours later, at 3am, when she found herself in the middle of a deserted Trafalgar Square, carrying a worn satchel popular in South Africa some ten years before, with the remnants of her flight suit, her burnt Overwatch identity card, a fake of her old passport, and a change of clothes, old, but serviceable, from a Lutzberg charity shop.
There, standing between the fountains, from a small, round, metal box, she extracted a smaller, round device. Clicking its power cell into place, she held the beacon tightly against her chest, depressed the second button, the one on the top, until it beeped, twice...
Former Welsh Lib Dem Leader Kirsty Williams has spoken out about the unpleasant divisiveness of our political atmosphere after one of her team was racially abused and she had the unsettling experience of a man making a shooting gesture and telling her Liberals should be shot.
From Wales Online:
Describing the change she has seen since the EU referendum, she said: “I think ever since the Brexit vote I think politics has become very divisive in a way I haven’t witnessed in all these years and I think in some ways that has unleashed something where the country is very, very, very divided and that’s to be regretted and unfortunately I don’t see how that divide is going to be healed.”
Acknowledging the responsibility of politicians to take care in the language they use, she said: “I think all politicians at all times need to be mindful about how they express their arguments.
“There are legitimate arguments to be expressed but words are powerful and the influence politicians have is powerful and therefore there is a responsibility on all of us to be very mindful about how we conduct ourselves and the language we use.
She described what had happened to her volunteer and the effect that has on people:
“Unfortunately it just seems that this kind of discourse is becoming the norm. We’ve had a volunteer racially abused this week.
“She feels that she can’t go and deliver any leaflets because she was racially abused while just out delivering leaflets.”
The volunteer was someone who wanted to “do her bit in support of the values she believed in and unfortunately feels she won’t be able to do that again”.
The AM fears such experiences will stop people from getting involved in politics.
“That’s the issue, isn’t it,” she said. “Why would people want to put themselves and potentially their families through this?
Read on to find out how she reacted to a Conservative sign being planted in her hedge.
I do agree with Kirsty that politics can be pretty vicious at the moment. I am not sure it’s any worse than when I started out back in the 80s, though. It did calm down for a while in the late 90s. It used to be Labour who were the worst. Power came too easy to them and they responded with an aggressive arrogance to anyone who tried to take it from them.
It’s a bit like that with the SNP at the moment. They are in real trouble in a fair few seats across Scotland. We are pushing them hard in Edinburgh West, East Dunbartonshire, North East Fife, Argyll and the Highlands. They are responding with vicious leaflets and the other night two of us were yelled at by SNP supporters while out leafletting in different parts of Edinburgh West. They used an almost identical script.
Standing up for what you believe in is really important – and when our core liberal values are under threat as they have never before been in my lifetime, we really have no choice. That’s going to mean you take abuse from time to time, but there is also a great sense of solidarity even across party politics at times. We can’t allow the actions of a few idiots to silence us.
* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings
Sarah Olney has written an article for the Times Educational Supplement talking about the difficulties facing universities as a result of Theresa May’s push for a hard brexit.
Citing Cambridge University’s assertion that Brexit poses a significant risk to our Higher Eduction sector, Sarah outlines this in detail:
Unfortunately, the Conservative government doesn’t seem to be listening. Theresa May has chosen to pursue the hardest and most destructive version of Brexit possible: taking us out of the single market and the customs union, and even threatening to do so without a new trade agreement with the EU. The government is also refusing to guarantee the rights of EU nationals living and working in the UK to remain after Brexit.
The government’s hard Brexit policies and rhetoric risk driving away international students and academics. The number of EU nationals applying to British universities has already fallen by 7 per cent compared with last year, despite the government’s assurance that those starting this year won’t face higher fees after Brexit. Some 53 per cent of foreign academics are now actively looking to leave the UK, and 88 per cent say that Brexit has made them more likely to do so in future.
And what about the EU’s Erasmus programme? It gives 16,000 British students the chance to study abroad every year but the government has made no commitment to maintaining or replacing it after Brexit. Last year, the Liberal Democrats delivered a petition to No 10 and the European Parliament, calling on them to save Erasmus. This petition was signed by more than 10,000 people.
And contrasts the Lib Dem view:
The Liberal Democrats want a brighter future for our young people. We would stay in the single market and guarantee EU nationals’ right to stay. We would protect the Erasmus programme and we would also give the British public the choice on whether the final deal is what they want, with the option to remain in the UK if it is not.
And there’s more for students:
The Liberal Democrats would reinstate maintenance grants for the poorest students, ensuring that living costs are not a barrier to disadvantaged young people studying at university. We would ensure that all universities work to widen participation across the sector, prioritising their work with students in schools and colleges, and require every university to be transparent about selection criteria.
* Newshound: bringing you the best Lib Dem commentary published in print or online.
A groundbreaking new charity album featuring music from LGBTQ artists from some of the world’s most anti-gay countries is set to be released next month.
Rainbow Riots will feature LGBTQ artists from countries including Uganda, Malawi and Jamaica, where homosexuality is punishable by over a decade in prison and violence against the gay community by both the public and authorities is widespread.
As well as helping to shine a light on gay life in some of the world’s most repressive anti-gay countries, money raised through sales of the record will go towards the LGBT+ charity of the same name.
Artists featured on the album include a queer rapper from Malawi, a trans Zulu singer, and a range of artists from Uganda – though others have chosen to remain anonymous owing to the threat danger they face in their home countries.
One Ugandan artist whose work features on the record says: “Our lives are already in danger – it doesn’t help if we keep quiet.”
Rainbow Riots has been composed and produced by Swedish artist and activist Petter Wallenberg, who began the project after being caught up in the middle of a brutal police raid on Ugandan Pride in the summer of 2016.
Wallenberg says of the project: “Imagine that your very existence is a crime and that the police, authorities and lynch mobs chase you simply because you are who you are. This is reality of LGBTQ people in many countries around the world.
“I created Rainbow Riots as a movement to fight for freedom against tyranny.”
The first track to be taken from the album is ‘Equal Rights’. The song has already been picked up as part of the UN ‘Global Goals’ campaign: an initiative to end extreme poverty, inequality and climate change by 2030.
Rainbow Riots is out on June 16.
Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic has had a busy week: He’s celebrated his 30th birthday (see our post celebrating that here) announced a new coaching partnership with tennis legend Andre Agassi, and revealed that he’s teamed up with Lacoste as the brand’s latest style ambassador.
For the next five years (and hopefully more, he told us at the press conference in Monte Carlo last week) the 12-time Grand Slam champion will be sporting the iconic green crocodile both on and off court.
Lacoste are known for their elegant, timeless style, and CEO Thierry Guibert said at the partnership’s launch that they’ll be infusing the brand’s natural flare into Novak’s outfits both on the ATP World Tour and during his downtime.
The former world number one said he believes he shares a lot of values with the classic French brand: fair-play, tenacity and elegance, as well as a similar life trajectory to founder and former tennis star Rene Lacoste, who both started practising at young age, by hitting a ball against a wall.
The campaign to accompany the announcement was unveiled at the Monte Carlo Country club where Novak trains, where kits for this summer’s upcoming Grand Slams the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open were teased.
There was not time to spare, either: Novak has already stepped out in Lacoste as he practices for the French Open, which gets underway in Paris this weekend.
You can see more of the collection and buy at lacoste.com.
In forgetting our fundamental principles of justice, The Trial’s fascinating run fell down at the laFriday, May 26th, 2017 02:46 pm
*SPOILER ALERT: If you have not seen the end of The Trial: A Murder In The Family, don’t read on. Unless you’ve no intention of watching it, in which case do as you please.*
Last night, Channel 4’s The Trial: A Murder In The Family drew to a close. At the end of a five-day run showing edited highlights of the augmented reality trial of Simon Davis for the murder of his estranged wife Carla, the finale dragged us inside the emotional furnace of the jury room as the twelve jurors deliberated with a ferocity belying the academic nature of their task.
Despite the judge giving a majority direction – where instead of a unanimous verdict, a court can accept a verdict agreed by 10 of the 12 jurors – the factfinders remained aggressively deadlocked. Eight were unpersuaded of the prosecution case, influenced by the evidence pointing to the possibility that the culprit was in fact the deceased’s scorned boyfriend, Lewis Skinner, and dutifully voted Not Guilty; four were sufficiently sure to cast a ballot for Guilty. The jury were hung, in the legal lingo, and so were discharged. At some future date in that parallel universe, Mr Davis will be retried at Berkshire Crown Court, but for now he remains a free man.
And a lucky one, we learned. For, in a curious creative decision, the producers decided to “reveal” through dramatisation what had really happened: Just as prosecuting counsel Max Hill Q.C. had told the jury in his opening and closing speeches, the defendant had indeed attended the former matrimonial home and, upon learning of Carla’s decision to end the fledgling rekindling of their relationship and up sticks to Scotland, had strangled her with his bare hands. The big reveal, it was none-too-subtly implied, was that The Jury Got It Wrong. Lest we be in any doubt as to the editorial perspective, the episode closed with close-up shots of the burdened jurors, their individual verdicts stamped across the screen, before the following subtitles rose:
“On average, two women are killed by a partner or ex partner every week in England and Wales.”
“In this case eight jurors voted not guilty, four voted guilty.
All four guilty votes were cast by women.”
“Next year more than half a million of us will be called to decide the fate of a fellow citizen.”
The official Twitter account for the programme has since run polls, including asking viewers:
Would you trust a jury of your peers? #TheTrial
— The Trial (@thetrial) May 25, 2017
I’m still struggling to make sense of this all.
Taking the above together, the only possible interpretation of the editorial line is: “This jury should have convicted. They didn’t, ergo they failed. What does this tell us about juries? (Clue: Maybe it’s sexism.)”
Which would be fine, had that been the premise of the programme. But it wasn’t. At least, not as far as we’d been led to believe. It was billed – accurately – as a groundbreaking docu-drama in which we would be given a unique insight into the way that juries operate. The opacity of the jury room means that, notwithstanding academic studies attempting to recreate the conditions, we know little about how juries approach their task. We have a fervent cultural faith in the inherent supremacy of trial by jury; let’s, Channel 4 suggested, cut open this sacred cow and have a rummage around inside.
The concept as advertised was not to present a jury with an obviously guilty man, and see whether a jury rationally assessed the evidence to come to the “right answer”, or whether they were waylaid by bias. That may well have made a fascinating programme – but it wasn’t the stated purpose of this exercise. Rather, this aimed to present a typically complex and borderline case, and to offer a fly on the wall insight of a jury striving to reach its verdict.
And so much was right about The Trial. Authenticity was plainly its guiding principle. We had some of the country’s very best barristers, a retired Crown Court judge, with police and expert witnesses played by real police officers and experts. The case and evidence were expertly crafted and balanced on a knife edge by David Etherington Q.C. and Max Hardy. The 12 jurors came laden with a typical breadth of life experiences, replete with the assumptions, cognitive biases and individual prejudices that afflict us all, and which their fellow jurors were quick to challenge. The conditions enabled what in televisual terms comes pretty close to a scientific experiment.
But the ending took that claim to objective inquiry and violently throttled it. Because in the final episode, we suddenly were not interested in how the jury works, but whether they arrived at the right answer. And by “right answer”, the producers meant “truth”. Thus, not only was the bulk of the final episode frustratingly concentrated away from the jury deliberations and onto the reveal of the WhoDunnit, but it risked leaving the non-lawyer viewer with a wholly distorted view of the function of juries.
Because the dirty little secret that The Trial left out is this: Jury trial is not about finding the truth. It can’t be. The truth, in most cases, is indiscoverable. It does not arrive in the courtroom, packaged with a neatly tied bow, at the end of the case, for jurors to benchmark their performance. Even after a verdict, the legal imprimatur of Guilty or Not Guilty, we are still no closer to knowing whether the verdict is factually “true” than we were when the jury retired to deliberate. While we obviously want legal verdicts to correlate with the truth – the factually guilty always convicted and the factually innocent always acquitted – our system recognises that this is unachievable. There are in most criminal cases, as with most human interactions, simply too many complexities and gaps in knowledge for us to say with certainty whether someone definitely did or definitely did not do what the state alleges they did. If we were to require juries to find the truth of every case, we would inevitably require them to indulge in speculation and guesswork, with the appalling consequence that factually innocent people would be convicted on that basis.
So we don’t ask juries to guess at the truth. Instead, we present them with as much relevant evidence as we can, and ask them one question: Are you sure that this person is guilty? If yes, the state will take coercive action. If the jury is anything less than sure, they must acquit. Not guilty does not mean innocent. It means that the jury cannot be sure to the very high standard required that, on the available evidence, the defendant is guilty. This inevitably means that factually guilty people are acquitted. But it is the sacrifice our system makes to minimise the risk of the greater peril: a factually innocent person being convicted and punished.
This cornerstone of our justice system – the burden and standard of proof – was The Trial’s glaring omission. While the judge’s summing up and legal directions were understandably edited to the bare minimum, holding (even judges would concede) little televisual interest, would it have been too much to leave in a brief few seconds of the judge reminding the jury, and the viewers, of the essential basis of how to approach their task?
In the event, a number of the jurors disregarded the burden of proof, casting themselves as detectives trying to crack the case – trying to prove the culprit was more likely to have been Lewis – rather than confining themselves to the sole question: was the case against Simon Davis proved on the evidence?
The tragedy is that this case was the perfect vehicle for a considered treatment of the burden and standard of proof. Here we had a murder where the offender could only feasibly have been one of two men – Simon Davis or Lewis Skinner – but where the evidence was arguably insufficient to prove the case beyond doubt against either. The producers could have preserved the integrity of the concept by declining to give us the “answer”, instead explaining – perhaps through the to-camera interviews with the barristers and judge – how it is that our system allows a situation in which we know that the offender was one of two violent men but cannot convict either, and how such an outcome is not an indictment of a jury “failing” in its task, but reflective of the correct course where, regrettably, the evidence is simply not enough to safely convict anyone. This is the build of our system, the programme could have said. Here’s why we do it this way, and here’s what the professionals think. What do you think about it?
But that line of contemplation was abandoned, the producers instead deciding to grasp for an unconvincing gotcha moment and invite us to lay blame at the jury’s door. As I’ve said, if the producers were looking all along to make a point about juries failing to convict in the face of overwhelming evidence, they could have done. They could have asked the barristers writing the case to devise a deliberately strong case, littered with tripwires and victim myths designed to test the jury’s integrity. But this factual matrix was intentionally blurry. After the reveal, the prosecutor Max Hill Q.C. tweeted:
So the prosecution case was correct. I do not blame the jury for failing to agree: Mullens evidence was a problem. Thanks for watching. https://t.co/yeMtkS0Htq
— Max Hill (@MaxHillQC) May 25, 2017
For what it’s worth, I agree. The evidence of the witness Mullen who (wrongly, we infer) placed the violent Lewis Skinner near the murder scene gave the jury reasonable cause to doubt the prosecution case. To take a knife-edge case and conclude, from the fact that the jury were on a knife edge, that something is wrong is simply bizarre.
Finally, the decision to highlight the gender of the jurors who voted to convict, without saying more, leaves me very uncomfortable. What was the message? That if you, as a juror, are sitting on a case involving an allegation of domestic violence you should be more inclined to convict? I genuinely have no idea what other interpretation we are supposed to draw. If I were defending a man accused of domestic violence today, I would be very nervous about any of the jurors having seen last night’s finale.
In fact, if it were prejudices that The Trial was hoping to root out, fuller pickings were arguably to be found among those who chose to convict. One speculated over the interpretation of DNA evidence, despite being directed not to do so. The famous Cherry, the self-professed “witch” so proud of her unfailing “gut”, appeared determined to convict from Day 1. And of the four convictors, three had direct or indirect experience of domestic violence, which they were quick to overlay on the evidence of the instant case. The final interviews of these four jurors also left us in doubt as to how sure-footedly they stood by their verdicts. There was a distinct impression that some had deviated from “beyond reasonable doubt” to the civil standard of “probably did it”. In fact, it was those who returned not guilty verdicts, despite thinking that Simon Davis probably killed his wife, who were the ones being true to their oath and to their (fictional) public duty.
This denouement is is a shame because in so many ways this programme has been a revelation in legal programming. Matthew Scott’s review of the first episode stands true – it has been in numerous ways a force for good; a powerful and gripping show educating the public on the workings of a criminal court with far greater accuracy and aplomb than is achieved by most dramas. Those involved should rightly be proud.
But by appearing to abandon its stated premise in the final episode, I feel The Trial missed a glistening opportunity to probe at some of those deeper questions about the way we do justice. Is our faith in juries misconceived? Should we entrust our liberty to the Cherrys of this world? How loyal are juries to their oath to reach verdicts on the evidence? Are they able to faithfully follow the judge’s directions on the law? Do they need greater scrutiny, or even screening? Should we demand that juries supply reasons for their decisions, instead of a binary one or two word verdict? Is our commitment to individual liberty a roadblock to catching the guilty, or an immutable principle of which we ought to be louder and prouder?
While there was enough over the five nights to allow us to entertain such thoughts incidentally, it is a shame that at the last the producers swerved off-road, rather than facing the difficult, perhaps more interesting, questions head-on.
The latest polling has caused a big sell of CON seats on the spread markets. With
Spreadex it is now 373-379 seats. At the weekend the buy level was more than 400.
SportingIndex has it slightly higher at 373-379 which means that my sell bet at 393 placed on Saturday night is now showing a nice profit.
What’s nice about this form of betting is that you can take and pocket your profits well before the election has taken place.
The risk at the moment is that other pollsters might show a larger CON lead which could cause the price to move up.
Friday is still a little jet-lagged…
- Rescue cat sleeps every night tucked into her tiny bed.
- Humorous social media posts from Australia’s New South Wales police force.
- Corgi mixed-breeds have achieved all the cuteness.
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
A small but hugely symbolic moment took place in Brussels this week as the husband of the world’s only openly gay leader stood shoulder to shoulder with other spouses during a high-powered NATO conference.
Gauthier Destenay, the husband of Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, posed alongside the wives of world leaders for an historic picture at Royal Castle of Laeken on Thursday night (May 25).
He joined First Ladies and partners including Brigitte Macron (France), Melania Trump (USA) Emine Gulbaran Erdogan (Turkey), Queen Mathilde of Belgium, Ingrid Schulerud (Norway), Desislava Radeva (Bulgaria), Amelie Derbaudrenghien (wife of Belgium’s Prime Minister) Mojca Stropnik (Slovenia) and Thora Margret Baldvinsdottir (Iceland).
Destenay, a Belgian architect, married Bettel in May 2015, just months after same-sex marriage was legalised in Luxembourg.
Bettel became Luxembourg’s first openly gay Prime Minister when he assumed office in 2013, and is currently the world’s only openly gay leader.
He is just the world’s third openly gay head of government in history, following Iceland’s former Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir and Belgium’s former Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo.
Luxembourg is also the only country in the world to have both a gay Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Etienne Schneider.
Any Bell opens up in the latest Attitude Heroes podcast about growing up as a gay man.
The Erasure legend talks to Attitude’s Editor in Chief Matt Cain about growing up as an effeminate boy on a council estate in Peterborough, and how frustrated he felt keeping his sexual desires to himself.
It all become too much for Andy at one point, and he reveals that he even attempted to release some of his built up sexual tension by giving cottaging a try.
“In Peterborough I just felt so frustrated. I ended up making little drawings in my exercise books of flick porn, you know, doing the actual drawings of someone cumming and just making it like a little flick book because you couldn’t get anything.
“You only had the Freeman’s catalogue… I used to try and go cottaging in Peterborough but it was so small you couldn’t really… I was really, really frustrated to the point of when you’re boiling and explode over,” he adds.
Elsewhere in the Attitude Heroes podcast, Andy opens up about the effect his 1998 HIV diagnosis had on both him and his late partner Paul, who had also been living with the virus prior to his death in 2012.
The former chart-topper admits: “We just went through this very bleak, black period both of us, I think probably for about 10 years, where we were just oblivious, taking drugs, not even leaving the house, and my body was breaking down and I was kind of like in denial about it.”
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Attitude Heroes is produced by Wisebuddah and sponsored by the GREAT Britain campaign, which welcomes the world to visit, do business, invest and study in the UK, and also Jaguar. For more product information please visit jaguar.co.uk.
In the first few hours of a hospital stay, the microbes living on the walls and other surfaces of the hospital try to overthrow your skin microbiome. Then all hell breaks loose. Within 24 hours—and possibly as little as seven—your microbes rise up to beat back the invaders. Before the germ clouds settle, your microbiome has invaded the room.
At least, that seems to be the standard way of things, according to a new study in Science Translational Medicine. For the study, researchers at the University of Chicago, led by microbiologist Jack Gilbert, meticulously tracked the microbial comings and goings of a new hospital over the course of a year. They started from before the hospital opened and kept researching past when it was full of patients. The researchers set out to understand microbial dynamics so they can one day tweak them. Gilbert envisions future probiotics—not pills or lotions, but surface sprays and wall treatments—that can bulk up beneficial bacteria capable of ejecting deadly pathogens and even prime helpful immune defenses in patients.
The University of Chicago Medicine
LOS ANGELES—The 13-year-old Far Cry gaming series returns in February 2018, and, conceptually at least, this might be the most intense one yet. While Far Cry games traditionally drop players into exotic, international locales with only a gun and a prayer, this year's entry, Far Cry 5, lands in the U-S-of-A. Or, more specifically, the open, rural wilds of Montana. Your mission: invade a militarised cult's massive compound and take down its gun-toting, Jesus-invoking leader.
In another time and place, I might have looked at this pitch and thought about the bygone '90s era of David Koresh and Ted Kaczynski, two terrifying dark spots on US history that some may argue are finally ripe for video game virtualisation. But Ubisoft has picked a heated time to double down on something we rarely see in the gaming world: Americans fighting Americans over the concept of what "America" is.
Subprime conditions for a cult
Meeting with creative director Dan Hay, I learned how the Cold War loomed over his childhood in the 1980s. He described a cultural zeitgeist captured by films like The Day After and War Games, in which Soviet "titans up above" inspired his feeling that "everything was not okay and I had no power." The fall of the Berlin Wall changed that for him: "Whew. Fuck. It's OK. We're safe."
So if I missed anything important, I'm sorry xx
The UK election has thrown up an intriguing idea. In a modern twist on the old offer of bread and circuses, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party has proposed four new public holidays — nearly a full working week’s worth. Since England and Wales currently have only eight such holidays, it would be a dramatic expansion in mandatory fun.
I like a holiday as much as the person in the next deckchair, but such days off are not costless. As any freelancer can attest, if you work less you earn less. Having a steady job with a monthly salary will hide that cost, but it’s going to pop up somewhere. Perhaps workers will receive lower pay rises. Or perhaps jobs will be lost. (Robots demand no holidays.)
But maybe these holidays would pay for themselves. A popular conceit is that many of us work inefficiently long hours, and that more vacations or shorter shifts would actually raise productivity. We can call this the “work smarter, not harder” theory of labour.
Exhibit A: The French. We British scoff at the French work ethic of four-day weekends and four-hour lunches, but the joke is on us, since the French get more done in less time. Nor are the French unique in this respect. Broadly speaking, countries with a culture of long hours are also countries with a record of low productivity per hour. According to the OECD, the Paris-based club of mostly rich nations, the longest hours in Europe are worked in Greece, closely followed by Poland, Latvia and Portugal. At the other end of the spectrum are the Danes, Dutch, Norwegians and French. Laziest of all? The Germans.
The most likely explanation for this pattern is that people in richer nations can afford the luxury of working fewer hours per year. But it’s tempting to speculate that causation runs the other way, and that short shifts and long breaks are a route to high productivity. No wonder that from time to time some think-tank or pundit proposes a six-hour working day — or a pilot scheme goes well and gets some buzz. On the face of it, it is not absurd to suggest that the British could enhance their lacklustre productivity by taking a few extra days off.
But there is an obvious objection to the idea. If a four-day week is just as productive as a five-day week, or a six-hour day beats an eight-hour day, then why don’t more employers embrace shorter hours? If it was such a good idea there would be no need for the government to impose it on anyone. It’s not impossible that the Labour party knows more than British managers about how best to run British businesses, but nor is it likely.
There is an alternative argument for the government to introduce more holidays: the hockey helmet problem. Nobel laureate economist Thomas Schelling pointed out in his 1978 book Micromotives and Macrobehavior (US) (UK) that ice hockey pros wouldn’t voluntarily wear helmets, despite the risk of horrendous injuries, because the helmets reduced visibility and put them at a disadvantage. Yet many were happy when the helmets became compulsory, offering safety without a loss of competitive edge.
Perhaps public holidays are like hockey helmets — we could usefully take time off but dare not, for fear of losing ground on our rivals. In 1998, economists Sara Solnick and David Hemenway surveyed Harvard students and found they would rather have $50,000 in a society where others were poorer than $100,000 in a society where others were richer. Students felt that money was a positional good, where what mattered was not how rich you were, but whether you were richer than others.
The Solnick/Hemenway study reached different conclusions about vacation time. The positional view — that what really matters is not how long your holiday is, but that your holiday is longer than other people’s — seems absurd. But if we’re competitive about money but not competitive about holidays, no wonder we work hard. A mandatory holiday gives every rat in the rat race a chance to catch its breath.
Even if you believe this argument for obligatory holidays — I am not sure I do myself — a final question awaits any government bold enough to introduce them. Why name a particular date? Holidays are easier and cheaper to take if other people are still working. But the Labour proposal actively emphasises national unity: we’re all to take the day off at the same time. The Scots will holiday alongside the English on St George’s day while the English return the compliment with a holiday on St Andrew’s day. Well, it might work.
But perhaps we should use holidays not to unite us, but to keep us at a safe distance from each other. We could introduce a patchwork of new holidays. Remainers could go on mini-breaks to Paris every June 22, while the Brexiters would gather on the white cliffs of Dover with warm bitter and ploughman’s lunches each June 24. A similar system in the US would spare liberals and conservatives from having to talk to each other. It seems to be the way we’re all heading, anyway — and it would be much easier to get some space on the beach.
Written for and first published in the Financial Times on 28 April 2017.
My new book is “Fifty Things That Made The Modern Economy” – coming soon! If you want to get ahead of the curve you can pre-order in the US (slightly different title) or in the UK or through your local bookshop.
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Editor's Note: I had a horrific migraine yesterday, so you're getting a bumper edition today.
- Discussion, Reactions, Reviews and News -
- The big news: this week's episode has had a small cut made to it due to events in Manchester (apparently it's just one line of dialogue, so not like the couple of minutes that was trimmed from Robot of Sherwood). This is covered in The Radio Times, The Gallifrey Times, and The Indy, among other places.
- Lots of sites are also covering the Titan Summer Comic Event "The Lost Dimension": Doctor Who News, The Gallifreyan Gazette, Blogtor Who, and The Gallifrey Times.
- The Gallifrey Times has a photo gallery from The Pyramid at the End of the World (also in The Gallifreyan Gazette), a whole team review of Extremis, and news of an agreement to expand Doctor Who into China up to series 15 (which means they are planning up to series 15! Yay! This is also in Doctor Who News, CultBox, and Den of Geek by the by.).
- glory_jean has a recap of what they thought of the season so far.
- beccaelizabeth has been listening to Big Finish: Torchwood: Outbreak. Here are her thoughts on disc one and a longer review of the story overall.
- nostalgia starts a discussion of the Doctor's treatment of Missy in doctor_and_master.
- purplecat rewatches and reviews The Daleks (1963).
- Den of Geek has a "spoiler free" review of The Pyramid at the End of the World.
- Blogtor Who has a VERY favourable review of Big Finish's UNIT Assembled, a "spoiler-free" review of The Pyramid at the End of the World, news of Billie Piper and Pearl Mackie attending a convention next weekend in Philadelphia, and the air date and synopsis for Empress of Mars (also in The Gallifrey Times).
- The Gallifreyan Gazette has a reminder of the synopsis for The Lie of the Land.
- Pop Culturalist has a long review of Wholanta, with some awesome cosplay photos. (recced by acciochocolate in doctorwho)
- CultBox has 10 spoiler-free ‘Doctor Who’ hints for Season 10 Episode 7: ‘The Pyramid at the End of the World’.
- Podcasts and Audiovisual Discussion -
- The Official BBC Doctor Who YouTube channel has Steven Moffat and Peter and Pearl introducing The Pyramid at the End of the World, and also a clip therefrom.
- Verity (audio podcast) Episode 138 discusses Extremis.
- Tin Dog Podcast (audio podcast) Episode 675 discusses Extremis too.
- Travelling the Vortex (audio podcast) Episode 331 also discusses Extremis.
- The Watchathon of Rassilon (audio podcast) discusses Wholanta and Daleks Invasion Earth 2150AD.
- Outpost Skaro (audio podcast) Episode 121 discusses Knock Knock.
- Who's He? (audio podcast) Episode 270 discusses Extremis.
- Who's Doing What Now? (audio podcast) Episode 54 discusses The Unicorn and the Wasp.
- The Doctor Who Show's A-Z of Doctor Who strand has reached (audio podcast) Episode 13: M.
- The Coal Hill AV Club (autoplaying audio podcast) Episode 70 covers Extremis.
- Gallifrey Stands (audio podcast) Episode 163 is a discussion of all 6 episodes of series 10 so far.
- Who's On Target (audio podcast) Episode 49 discusses Extremis.
- Mutter's Spiral (audio podcast) Episode 130 also discusses Extremis.
- Doctor Who: The Sonic Toolbox (audio podcast) discusses Extremis too.
- Mark Who 42 (audio podcast) Episode 183 discusses Oxygen and Extremis.
- Discussing Who (audio podcast) Episode 48 covers Southern Geek Fest.
- New Who Podcast (autoplaying audio podcast) discusses Oxygen and Extremis.
- Doctor Whooch (audio podcast) Episode 114 was unimpressed with Extremis and has swearing even in the title.
- The Impossible Girls (audio podcast) Episode 63 discusses Extremis.
- Reality Bomb (audio podcast) Episode 46 talks about comics, the awesomeness of Bill, Extremis, and The Ultimate Foe, among other things.
- Wanderers in the Fourth Dimension (audio podcast) Episode 270 discusses Extremis.
- The Cultdom Collective (autoplaying audio podcast) have a commentary track for Extremis.
- Gallifrey's Most Wanted (audio podcast) Episode 9 discusses Rose.
- The Pharos Project (audio podcast) Episode 215 discusses Extremis.
- Big Blue Box Podcast (audio podcast) Episode 143 covers various bits of Merch, and Extremis.
- The Ood Cast (audio podcast) discusses Extremis.
- (audio podcast) Episode .
- The Who Addicts (YouTube channel) has a preview of The Pyramid at the End of the World.
- Challenges, Prompts and Announcements relating to Fanworks -
- trobadora is promoting sign-ups for wintercompanion in who_at_50 (and also in fandom_on_dw).
- zabimitsuki is promoting the fic and art bingo challenge seasonofkink in fandomcalendar (and also in fandom_on_dw).
- prisca has news of the June mini summer bingo challenge for fffc in fandomcalendar.
- Fanworks -
Fic: (rating; characters/pairings)
- nuraicha posts Both Ends of a Candle in dwfiction. (G; Twelve/Missy, Twelve/Simm!Master, Bill Potts.)
- penaltywaltz posts A Well-Timed Rescue in crossovers and in everything_who. (PG; Donna Noble, Harold Saxon & Greg Lestrade)
- penaltywaltz posts Ask and Ye Shall Recieve in everything_who. (PG; Sally Donovan/Molly Hooper, Spock/Nyota Uhura, Sherlock Holmes/Molly Hooper, August Booth/Emma Swan, Mr. Holmes/Mummy Holmes, Danny Pink/Clara Oswald)
GIFsets, Caps, and Photosets:
- 3rddoctor has a series of the Master/Missy asking for help.
Podfic and Fanvids
- Jake Dudman (YouTube channel) has a reworking of the Eleventh Doctor meeting the Curator, featuring Jon Culshaw.
- FiveWhoFans (YouTube channel) has It's Never Omega! - A Zygon Called ISIS and an alternative version of Extremis.
GT aims to cover Doctor Who Universe news and fan activity on Dreamwidth and beyond. If you'd like to be added to our watch list, please leave a comment here. Questions? If you can't find the answer on our profile, you can contact the editors by commenting on any edition of the newsletter.
This is the 9th General Election in which I’ve been politically active. Let’s not think about how old that makes me! You can also add 4 Holyrood elections to that. I missed out on the first one because I was living in England and just about to give birth. That didn’t stop me running a committee room in Chesterfield on polling day, though. Nor did it stop me doing stuff for the Newark by-election that never was.
I’ve just been reflecting on all these campaigns and maybe I should write about each one individually at some point.
In each election, I have made sure that my effort is concentrated on target seats, even if that has meant travelling on a daily basis. The reason for that is that I’ve always been very aware that I know that what matters the day after polling day is the number of bums we have on seats in whatever legislature we’re in. I could not have it on my conscience to lose a key target by a few hundred votes while I’d concentrated on getting single figures in percentage terms in my home seat. Believe me I have seen that happen several times.
Building that momentum throughout the campaign needs extra help. I will be forever grateful to the wonderful people from across the East Midlands region who travelled several times a week to Chesterfield in 1997, or the Lothian people who travelled to help us in Edinburgh South in 2001 and 2005. Martin Garnett, who’s our candidate in Erewash again today, was part of that Chesterfield support team in 1997.
That help from outside ensures that can establish ourselves as the challenger, that we can out-campaign the opposition and put ourselves in a winning position. It means that we can talk to more voters and build that all-important impression of a growing campaign. Every single day of the campaign, extra people are needed to boost local capacity and sow the seeds of victory.
I would go as far as to say that if you are spending the majority of your campaigning time in a seat that is not a target, you are actually doing the party more harm than good.
That may seem harsh, but it is true.
Your presence in a target seat can make a difference. So can your absence.
There are other great reasons to devote your time to targets. The first is the obvious pound of flesh you can extract in peace time. Chesterfield in the 90s was brilliant at paying back the help that had been given to it. They helped at council by-elections all across the region. There was one particularly glorious moment when we beat Labour to win a county council by-election in that Labour heartland of Bolsover in 1994, a campaign masterminded and run by the Chesterfield team. Another campaign I was involved in was the first time I ever used blue letters – in Erewash in 1998. That was in part payback for the fact that Ted Gay, the above-mentioned Martin Garnett and the Erewash team coming up once a week to deliver an entire polling district by themselves.
In recent years we may not have been as good as we could have been in doing this, so we need to make sure it’s a key part of the strategy the party will be developing after the election.
There needs to be a very clear understanding that when people travel to help and contribute to our party’s success, that they get support in return.
Had we had 3 years to build up to an election in 2020, I’d have been looking to set up these kinds of arrangements. But we didn’t. We had 7 weeks. In that time, with our bonkers electoral system, we will only be able to win where we are already strong. And that is where you are needed to help.
A target seat campaign at full pelt has to be seen to be believed. It’s great fun and you see things that you might not have seen before that you can adapt for your own area. It’s an excellent training ground for you and your local party.
The final reason is that when the result comes through in your target seat, you know that you have had a stake in that advance. It could not have happened without you. Being part of a winning campaign is one of the best feelings. And if your victory is repeated across the country in other key seats, think how good you will feel.
You don’t physically have to travel to be part of a winning campaign. You can set up a phone bank in someone’s lounge, with a whole load of you phoning for the seat. You can import a whole load of clerical work. I know I go on about this, but I haven’t quite forgiven Paul Holmes for making us stuff envelopes for a Bradford by-election while we were trying to get 1.5 million Euro election addresses sorted in 1994. We survived, though and what doesn’t kill you etc…
I do think that candidates in non-target seats are coming under a huge amount of pressure at the moment. They are having pressure from the central organisation to get people to travel, and their local members are saying “hang on, don’t you care about here?” It’s maybe a bit unfair to say that to people who clearly are committed to their own area but who understand the wider picture. Let’s all come together to find a way through that works.
I’m off now into Edinburgh West to deliver more leaflets. I’m feeling that this campaign is the most important one I’ve ever fought and I’m determined to put everything into making sure we send Christine Jardine to Westminster on June 8th.
If you are one of the many Lib Dems who is travelling regularly to help in a target seat, thank you so much. It does take extra time and effort. You are giving us a chance of some really good news stories on June 9th.
With over 100,000 of us ready to take to the streets, think of the difference we could make in the next two weeks.
* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings
Ashley Parker Angel has become as well known for his scandalous selfies as his singing.
The US star, who used to be part of boy band O-Town, has been up in the gym just working on his fitness (and we’re his witness) over the past few years.
His latest selfies sees the singer stripping down to some, erm, pretty tight underwear that don’t really leave much to the imagination.
Check him out below:
Want a couple more? Why not, we’re just so good to you guys:
The first is
A song you like with a colour in the title, so I went for White winter hymnal by Fleet Foxes. I don't always love the kind of very blurry musical style that Fleet Foxes go for, but I got really fond of this song a few years back and it's one that always raises a smile when it comes on shuffle.
People are generally linking to YouTube, and I'd never actually seen the accompanying video for this one before. It's kind of a cool claymation thing, so I'm glad I searched it up.
( Embedded video )
I've been forgetting about it, or I've been at best excited that I have my passports back. I really underestimated how much I would hate being without them (plural because the expired one has my proof of Indefinite Leave to Remain in it, which is my proof I can work here and hopefully what keeps the border guards at Manchester Airport from being completely awful to me whenever I come back, so the expired passport is still an integral part of the deal).
Working on my book (I owe Kickstarter an update too). I am so stressed about it at this point, but Andrew's looking at what I have today and assures me it's not as bad as I feared and it's not as far from being done as I feared either.
And po8crg and haggis are taking me out for dinner tonight to celebrate my UK citizenship, so that should help make it seem a bit more real!
Following on from Theresa May’s promise of a free vote to lift the ban on the cruellest of hunting with hounds, allusions to country sports seems to becoming increasingly apt. On Monday, it was alleged that she had “shot our fox” by changing the Conservative manifesto to include “consultation on an absolute limit on what people need to pay” for their own social care. In fact Theresa May has shot herself in the foot.
If we had deliberately set an ambush for the Conservatives, we couldn’t have done a better job. The Tories had already broken a promise in their 2015 manifesto by not implementing the recommendations of the Dilnot Commission. Instead, what had been agreed across all political parties, to put a limit of £72,000 on what any anyone would have to contribute to their social care was deferred until 2020. Even then, £118,000 of assets would be protected.
Instead, in the 2017 Conservative manifesto, the Tories say they would introduce a “dementia tax”, where all your assets, except the last £100,000, could be taken to fund your social care, including your home. Those lucky enough to be amongst the 1 in 4 who need little or no social care would be able to pass all the benefits of a lifetime of work to their children, while the 1 in 10 whose social care costs exceed £100,000, could be left with little for their loved-ones to inherit. Instead of society sharing the risk, those unlucky enough to get dementia would have to bear the whole cost of their care without limit. In the face of mounting criticism, until yesterday, the Tories were “strong and stable” – when asked specifically whether there would be a cap on individual contributions to social care, the answer was a definite “no”.
Then on Monday Theresa May suddenly announced a u-turn on the cap, getting increasingly rattled under questioning by trying to maintain that nothing had changed. Instead of persisting with an indefensible policy, “strong and stable” became “weak and wobbly”. The Tories having built their whole campaign on how formidable Theresa May would be as a Brexit negotiator, she balked at the first sign of trouble with her flagship policy.
Labour rightly pointed out that the Tories have not said what the absolute limit on what people need to pay for social care would be. But neither have they. Only the Liberal Democrats are committed to implementing the Dilnot recommendations.
So voters now find themselves between the devil and the deep blue sea. A “weak and wobbly” Theresa May, whose pledges do not survive contact with reality, or Jeremy Corbyn in the guise of Father Christmas with gifts for everyone. As everyone knows, if Father Christmas is over-generous, debts pile up. Although not our strongest suit, Labour’s policy on tuition fees, for example, at £9.5bn a year is their biggest ticket item and will benefit high and middle-earning graduates the most.
Instead the Liberal Democrats are focused on protecting the benefits of the most vulnerable in society. In addition, we are pledging to increase funding for the NHS and social care by £6bn a year, to protect spending on education in real terms and increase funding for the police.
Of course, our economy will be stronger if we remain in the European Union – the EU are not going to offer a trade deal to a non-member that is as good or better than what is available to members. A strong economy is necessary in order to raise the taxes we need for public services and the Tories are risking that economy by pursuing a hard Brexit.
But the clear message is this: We are being realistic in what we are offering voters, unlike Jeremy Corbyn. We are protecting older people and the vulnerable with a set of fully costed policies and we are offering a brighter future to our young people, unlike to Tories. There is a real alternative and we need to get that message across to the electorate.
* Brian Paddick Is Liberal Democrat spokesperson on Home Affairs. He was Deputy Assistant Commissioner in London's Metropolitan Police Service until 2007, the Lib Dem candidate for the London mayoral election in 2008 and 2012, and a life peer since 2013.
Jeremy Corbyn seems hellbent on squandering any advantage that he may be gaining in the polls due to Theresa May’s stumbling over the “Dementia Tax.” She really struggled in her Andrew Neil interview on Monday night. She’s laid her weakness bare. Her opponents should be all over that. Instead, Jeremy Corbyn has chosen to make some comments linking terrorism to British foreign policy at a time when people are really hurting after Manchester, which, as well as being insensitive when people are hurting, is also opening the door for all the usual attacks on him. He had the chance to go on the front foot and he fluffed it. It’s hardly the first time. Remember the Article 50 Bill…
Tim Farron has called Corbyn out, accusing him of putting politics before people:
A few days ago, a young man built a bomb, walked into a pop concert and deliberately slaughtered children. Our children. Families are grieving. A community is in shock.
Jeremy Corbyn has chosen to use that grotesque act to make a political point. I don’t agree with what he says, but I disagree even more that now is the time to say it. That’s not leadership, it’s putting politics before people at a time of tragedy.
Earlier Paddy had said that, yes, there is a time to think about what the attack means for the direction of future policy – but not now.
Some political leaders have sought to politicise the events of the week, but now is not the time, and this is not the event, to seek political advantage.
The families of victims in Manchester have a right to expect political parties to respond with restraint and sensitivity to these unpardonable crimes.
There will be a moment when we will want to look at the policy implications of what has happened, but that should not be in the shadow of these terrible events when the nation should stand together.
As anybody who follows Gus Kenworthy’s antics on Instagram will know, the Olympic freeskier ain’t shy when it comes to losing his shirt, but now the out and proud sports star is putting his penchant for a pec picture to good use by stripping off for a new underwear campaign – and helping to raise money for LGBT causes in the process.
The 25-year-old has joined Me Undies new ‘Celebrate Yourself’ campaign, stripping off to sport a special new range of rainbow polka dot underwear to mark Pride month and raise money for the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
The Center, founded in 1969, is the world’s largest provider of LGBT support programs, offering everything from HIV testing and treatment to emergency shelter for homeless youth and hate crime assistance.
Gus shared some behind the scenes pictures from his shoot on social media earlier this week, and it’s safe to say we’re feeling very charitable all of a sudden.
$1 from every pair of the Me Undies ‘Celebrate Yourself’ range will go straight to the LA LGBT Center – so after you’ve relished in the sight of Mr Kenworthy sporting his, you can grab yourself a pair of your own here.
The new series of Ex on the Beach stars soon and we can’t wait.
Turns out neither can reality star Joshua Ritchie, who’s been sharing a bunch of half-naked selfies to pass the time.
He’s never been particularly shy, but recently he shared a video of Snapchat that took his exhibitionism to the next level.
The star stripped off while hanging out with James Hill, and the pair ended up having a wrestle on the floor of his apartment.
Scroll down for the video
And then we can all feel a bit better reading about them :)
* this is British for "a city near me had lots of its children blown up, politics remains screamingly frustrating, and I have had a horrific migraine", if you're wondering.