Monday, May 16, 2016

Eurovision 2016: Russia aren't happy

The victory for Ukraine at Eurovision on Saturday night hasn't gone down well everywhere. And by "everywhere", I mean "at the Kremlin".

Russia really isn't happy:

“This is partly a consequence of the propaganda war of information that is being waged against Russia,” claimed Russian MP Elena Drapeko. “There is a general demonisation of Russia – that we are all evil, that our athletes are doping, that our planes violate airspace.”
Nobody in the west believes that, Elena. Well, not the "evil" bit. Well, not that all Russians are evil.
Konstantin Kosachev, the top foreign policy official of Russia’s upper house of parliament, said the vote had not been about the quality of the performances: “Music lost, because victory clearly did not go to the best song, and the contest lost because political attitudes prevailed over fair competition.”
The trouble with this is that if Ukraine hadn't won, Australia would have won anyway, and Russia would still just have come in second. I think Elena Drapeko might want to add "the west thinks we're really whiny bad losers, too."

Perhaps the loudest independent voice to chime in was Neil Clark, who ventured a scorching attack on Eurovision:
RIP Eurovision, 1956-2016
"Independent" in this sense is "in a piece he wrote for RT, the Putin-sponsored Russian news channel.

You might be wondering who Neil Clark is:
Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger[...] He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia.
Iran's Press TV. Putin's Russia Today. Murdoch's Sky News.

His biography also proudly states:
His award winning blog can be found at
And it certainly can - and let's not suggest there's anything a little desperate about trumpeting "award winning" when that award was the UK category in the 2007 weblog awards. It shows that Neil is not a stranger to the world of public acclamation, thereby making him the perfect expert here.

So, Neil, why is this the end of Eurovision?
Mark the date. Saturday May 14, 2016, the day the music died and a song contest whose well-intentioned original aim of national harmony has become the latest front in the Western elite’s obsessional and relentless new Cold War against Russia.
Letts have confirmed that next year's diaries will include those words printed next to May 14th.
A blatantly political song by Ukraine - which should not have been allowed in the contest in the first place as it clearly broke the European Broadcasting Union’s ‘No Politics’ rules - was declared the ‘winner’ of the Eurovision Song Contest, even though the country which got the most votes from the general public was Russia.
Winner in quotes, there, because it wasn't the real winner simply because the rules stated that the general public and jury votes were equally weighted in deciding the winner.
What helped Ukraine ‘win’ were the ‘national juries’ panels of so-called ‘music industry professionals’ who were given 50 percent of the votes and who only put Russia in joint fifth place, with 81 fewer points than Ukraine.
The juries were made up of such puppets, you'll note, they don't just have to be put into quotes, but also require the stress that these are so-called music industry professionals.

The trouble is, the list of jurors shows that they are actually music industry professionals - in that they have jobs where they make a living connected to the production, promotion or distribution of music. Perhaps Neil meant to deploy his condescension against the idea that the jurors were independent, or successful, or well-known, or respected. Those are matters of debate. That they are music industry professionals, though, is a fact.

Still, Neil doesn't have time for that pesky fact-checking. We're talking about something as serious as a stolen election here:
What we saw last night, as some on Twitter have commented, was a replay of the 2000 US Presidential election between Al Gore and George W. Bush, when Gore got the most votes, but the neocon-backed Bush made it to the White House. The Establishment may give us plebs a say, but it has mechanisms to make sure that it gets the result it most desires.
Neil's whole piece seems to be based on the idea that Eurovision had a desperate desire to haul the show out to Kiev for next year. If the "establishment" had really wanted to rig things, it would have engineered an Australia win which would have allowed the site of next year's contest to be picked to give a less inconvenient and expensive show.
The prospect of a Russian Eurovision win and next year’s contest being held in Moscow certainly seems to have caused great panic in Western Establishment circles.
Sweetie, we've established that David Cameron needs someone to whisper Rita Ora song titles in his ear; the thought that he's sitting in a COBRA meeting panicking about the bookies' favourite for Eurovision is a bit of a stretch.
We’ve already got the next football World Cup scheduled to be held in Russia in 2018- an event which has come under attack from Russophobes who are calling for boycotts or for the tournament to be transferred; having Eurovision in Russia as well would clearly be too much for them.
These angry Russophobes, you'll recall, ensured that Russia didn't get to host the 2009 contest. Except, of course, they didn't, and the official Eurovision write-up of Moscow's last contest is suitably breathless:
They organised one of the biggest contest in the history as for example, a total of 1/3 of the world’s LED screens were at the arena during the event!
For Neil, though, this isn't about Eurovision. It's about Syria. Yes, Syria:
For daring to resist Western regime change plans in Syria and elsewhere, Russia should be sanctioned and isolated and not be hosting international events watched by millions of people around the world!
An unnamed "Eurovision source" told the Daily Mirror that the EBU was worried about a Russia victory, and that's good enough for Neil:
We heard earlier that the European Broadcasting Union was very worried about Russia winning Eurovision 2016 and by jove, they did everything they could to prevent that from happening. It wasn’t just the voting system – with ‘national juries’ used to skew public opinion...
Except the changes to the voting system were announced long before it became clear that Russia had a half-decent entry.

But what other sly tricks did the EBU have to hand?
it was also the running order, in which Jamala, the Ukrainian contestant, was given a prime Number 21 slot to sing ‘1944’.

In modern Eurovision contests, in which there are so many countries taking part, singing towards the end of the show is usually a major advantage.

Would Jamala have done as well if she’d been asked to go on fifth? I very much doubt it.
Russia, then, had their chances ruined by performing at 18th, finishing a full seven minutes before Ukraine began.

It's worth noting that if going on later meant a massive advantage, the UK - who played last-but-one - should have done better than trotting in at 24th.
In the end, the EBU got the result they wanted. But in doing so they have destroyed the contest. Eurovision has for long been plagued by bloc voting - in which countries vote for their neighbours - but what we saw last night was something different altogether. The contest has never been so blatantly political and the agenda so obvious.
So, Neil appears to be relatively sanguine about the idea that countries may vote strongly for their friends next door, but outraged if there's a friendly leg-up given to a country with which no borders are shared.
Genuine Eurovision fans, who believe the contest should simply be about voting for the best song regardless of what one thinks of that country politically, are appalled at what happened.
Are they, though, Neil? Are they? Genuine Eurovision fans spend the contest comparing contestants to morphed members of the XX. When Russia were doing their thing, our Eurovision party was too busy giggling that he appeared to be singing while pooping in a giant ice toilet to have been assembling a critique of Russian policy on EU expansion.
Take the voting of the UK ‘national jury’. Britain’s ‘music industry professionals’ gave 10 points to Ukraine, but none to a Russian song which the general public liked best. Bias? Perish the thought, old chap ! I’m sure Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond heartily approved of the panel’s conclusions.
If the UK was really trying to rig things, why would they have given their 12 to, erm, Georgia?

The idea of Philip Hammond sitting up late on Saturday, waiting for a call from Sean McGee to confirm that the judges had done their bit for The Queen; replacing a telephone receiver with a satisfied smile is delicious, isn't it?
As I’ve noted on OpEdge before, the British public doesn’t share the elite’s anti-Russian prejudices and this was reflected in the results of the public vote - in which Russia came fourth - ahead of Ukraine.
Yes. There's no reason why a popular vote would reflect that of an expert panel. That's why they use a mixture of the two, Neil.
The disconnect between national juries and the general public was seen in many other countries too.
Yes. That's not unusual, Neil. Have you ever watched... well, have you ever watched television? Have you ever, for example, seen the way the judges on Strictly award sets of results that aren't matched by the results of the telephone voting? It's not because Len is part of a massive conspiracy against minor EastEnders cast members; it's because professional judges are watching out for different things compared with people on the sofa.

Hang on, Neil's gone over to the chalkboard. He's writing numbers up:
The Serbian national jury gave 12 points to Ukraine, but the Serbian people voted for Russia. Israel’s national jury gave no points to Russia but 12 to Ukraine, the Israeli public by contrast put Russia second. It’s also worth pointing out that Ukraine public also put Russia first- showing that anti-Russian hostility is in the country is very much elite-driven.
But, hey, you don't have to take his word for it. He's got an independent witness:
Those who thought Eurovision was about voting for the best song were left scratching their heads after last night’s conclusion.

Paddy Power – who in common with other bookmakers had Russia as the red-hot favorite, spoke for millions when he tweeted

How did this song win? Rubbish
Sweetly, Neil appears to not only believe that there's a person called Paddy Power, but that Paddy Power himself sits composing tweets deep into the night.
The answer to Paddy’s question was provided succinctly by Dan Eccles ‘Politics init’.

While Russians will understandably feel cheated – in one way what happened last night was good as it shows to everyone the limits of democracy in the West.
Yeah, up until that point everyone thought democracy was perfect, but then suddenly they went "hey, if a hybrid system of a jury panel and a popular phone vote where anyone can dial in as many votes for as many participants as they please, how can we still have faith in our Parish Council elections?" and went out to smash up the graves of all the Chartists.
People have to be seen to be given a voice – but to make sure the result is not one that elites don’t like ‘blocks’ have to be put in place.
Oddly, Neil doesn't seem to be that bothered that for the vast bulk of Eurovision history, the people had no voice at all and it was all decided in smokey back rooms.

Hang about, though, he's about to make this about, erm, the US Democratic party:
In the US, the peoples candidate Bernie Sanders is gaining on Hillary Clinton in the race to get the Democratic nomination, but even if he does catch Hillary the Hawk, the candidate of Wall Street and the military/industrial complex, there’s the unelected ‘Super Delegates’ - of whom Clinton is said to have the support of 524, compared to Sanders’ 40.
Yeah - take that, Hillary. Except currently the number of votes cast for Hillary is 12,524,845 and for Bernie is 9,426,517, so she's ahead on the popular vote, too. Maybe the Dems let her go on and do her song second, though, Neil?
Last summer in Britain, the antiwar left-winger Jeremy Corbyn swept to victory in the election to be Labour leader, having been supported in large numbers by the party’s ordinary members and supporters. The party’s Blairite Establishment though were clearly rattled by this outbreak of genuine democracy and plans are afoot to change Labour’s leadership rules to give MPs - who are far to the right of the membership - more say in electing the leader
Yeah, that nasty old Labour elite, who brought in the rules which allowed one member one vote in the first place.
What elites in ‘democratic’ US and Europe are terrified of is people being allowed to decide things without any undemocratic ‘blocks’ being in place.
Neil, sweetie, this is a piece about the Eurovision song contest. The only people who care about who wins the Eurovision Song Contest by the following Monday are compilers of trivia questions, people who book guests for reality shows, and - it turns out - Putin.
If the plebs, after all the brainwashing and pro-Establishment propaganda, do happen to vote the ‘wrong way’ then they’re told they simply have to vote again - as the Irish were told when they refused to support the EU’s Lisbon Treaty in a referendum in 2008. And does anyone seriously doubt that if the British do decide to vote for Brexit on the 23rd, the EU won’t try to get the result reversed?
Even Neil, it seems, has lost interest in the Eurovision by this point, and has instead gone into some sort of Rik From The Young Ones/Nigel Farage mash-up.
Perhaps David Cameron - if he watched Eurovision last night - will actually change the terms of a referendum so that an appointed ‘national jury’ of ‘experts’ will have a 50 percent say in the result.
Ha ha ha. Do you see? WAKE UP SHEEPLE.
If Eurovision had been decided by the popular vote alone then Russia and not Ukraine would have been crowned winner last night. Thank god for the super delegates, oh sorry, ‘music industry professionals’, who made sure that a ‘nightmare’ result for the Russophobic Western establishment was avoided. It may ‘only’ be a song contest but the result was clearly of great importance to some people.
Yes. Had the vote been decided in a way that it never has been during the 60 years of its history, the outcome would have been different. In much the same way that if the 'Premiership' was decided by a public vote instead of 'scores' on the 'pitch', Manchester United would be going to Europe next season.

The real problem with Neil's piece, though, is that the number of points awarded to winner of the popular vote wasn't predetermined. It would have been possible - quite easily - for a large enough vote on the phones to have powered Russia from its position to the top of the poll. (You only have to look at how Poland bounced up the list when the public votes were added in to see how that works.)

Still, someone writing for the Kremlin-funded Russia Today should be taken seriously when they suggest a vote has been rigged. Judging by the Crimea referendum, it's an area the Kremlin knows a thing or two about. And that vote was rather more significant than a pop beauty parade.

Azealia Banks issues half-apology written by her PR team

You'll recall that last time we came across Azealia Banks, the Zac Goldsmith of pop had taken to Twitter to call Zayn Malik a "curry scented bitch".

Well, her PR team have found enough space between updating their LinkedIn profiles to get an apology of sorts out via Instagram.

Instagram might seem an odd choice, but it's one of the few social networks Banks is welcome on at the moment.

How has it taken so long for this apology to appear? It turns out being racist and homophobic is something you have to spend some time thinking about:

Now that the immediacy of the infamous incident has worn off, I've had some time to decompress & take a more rational assessment of things.
You just know you're being set up for a bullshit empty apology-shaped hole when the person won't even mention what they're supposedly sorry for.

But, yeah, you've had the best part of a week to "rationally assess" attacking someone using racist and homophobic language. What did you come up with?
I want to extend my sincerest apologies to the world
Not specifically to Zayn, the man she insulted, you'll note, but - hey - he's part of the world, right?
Employing racial/sexual slurs/stereotypes in attempts to make fun of or degrade another person or group is not fair or fun for anyone
To be honest, Azealia, you did look like you were having a lot of fun doing it while it was happening.
Allowing my anger to get the best of me, I’ve managed to insult millions of people without reason. And for that I give my deepest apologies.
Ah, so it wasn't Azealia's fault, really; it was just that she got angry she turned into a racist homophobic shit. She's kind of a Hulk/Trump hybrid, it turns out.

And the whole "curry-scented" thing? Why, that wasn't meant to be insulting at all. It's just good old fashioned humour:
She said she was repeating a joke from her native New York – where nearly half of cab drivers were born in Bangladesh, India or Pakistan – that taxis smelled like curry.

“I feel compelled to clear the air with curry itself because that’s a bridge I don’t want to burn. I still want to be able to enjoy it freely without guilt or judgment,” she wrote.
So, during this heartfelt apology to the world in general, the only entity which got a direct sorry was a foodstuff. Maybe she meant it was heartburn apology.

Trouble with this is that the "joke" that taxis smell of curry is racist in itself, so you're only saying that you were being derivatively unpleasant rather than creatively unpleasant. And as Zayn isn't actually a taxi, neither the joke nor the explanation makes sense anyway.

Doesn't really work as an apology, does it?

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Eurovision 2016: Tumblr speaks