Ron McKay

You think Don­ald Trump is as bad as it gets?

The Herald on Sunday - - THE WEEK -

Up in smoke

BE care­ful what you wish for…The Pais­ley-born film star Ger­ard But­ler is a big cheer­leader for Is­rael. At the be­gin­ning of the month in Los An­ge­les he, and other Hol­ly­wood luvvies, helped raise $60 mil­lion for the Is­raeli army, the IDF. So en­am­oured of the coun­try is But­ler that on a re­cent visit to Is­rael he said: “I al­ways love be­ing here. One day I’ll come here for a va­ca­tion and just stay un­til I’m called else­where. I’ll ask some­one to burn my house down in Los An­ge­les so I won’t have any­where to go back to and I won’t have any choice but to stay in Is­rael.” Last week that wish came true.

‘Doh’ mo­ment

AN­DREW NEIL, also from Pais­ley, was get­ting pel­ters dur­ing the week for tweet­ing dur­ing one late night about jour­nal­ist Ca­role Cad­wal­ladr, a “mad cat woman”, and Pri­mal Scream singer Bobby Gille­spie, a “mis­er­able Jock”, af­ter Boab had re­fused to make a fool of him­self by dad-danc­ing with the aged pre­sen­ter on his show This Week. I have my own story about An­dra’ and a lad­der but, frus­trat­ingly, I can’t get it past the li­bel lawyers. The tweets have raised a pre­dictable stushie about the al­leged rightwing bias of “Brillo” when ap­pear­ing on the BBC.

It’s well known he is a Tory, Thatcherite and a Brex­i­teer but I’ve al­ways found his in­ter­view­ing largely even­handed. It’s just that you can’t en­vis­age a left-wing jour­nal­ist with mir­ror-im­age views get­ting a crack at it. But it goes too far when Neil gives sub­lim­i­nal mes­sages on TV while wear­ing a £25 tie em­bla­zoned with the logo of the Adam Smith In­sti­tute, the cranky right-wing think-tank.

Smith may have been a philoso­pher and a Scot but the in­sti­tute is as Amer­i­can as a mass school shoot­ing, with just a UK arm in West­min­ster. Its fund­ing is opaque but it has taken money from big to­bacco and var­i­ous neo­con and Chris­tian sources. One of those, the John Tem­ple­ton Foun­da­tion, gave $1.2m to fund a film on the Magna Carta, to be dis­trib­uted free to schools and teach­ers. The com­pany that pro­duced it, WAG TV, is owned by Martin Durkin, a for­mer mem­ber of the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Com­mu­nist Party, who has moved as far across the po­lit­i­cal land­scape as it is pos­si­ble to do with­out fall­ing off the edge (or per­haps he has?). WAG has brought us such lu­lus as “Storm in a D-Cup”, about how the med­i­cal dan­gers of sil­i­cone im­plants have been ex­ag­ger­ated, “The Rise and Fall of GM”, in favour of ge­netic mod­i­fi­ca­tion, and the “Great Global Warm­ing Swin­dle”, about, well, you’ve guessed it.

But back to Neil and those 3am tweets, which he has now deleted. A mes­sage. An­drew, as a man who went to fee-pay­ing Pais­ley Gram­mar, where they pride them­selves on their ed­u­ca­tion, it re­ally is in­ex­cus­able to drop an in­cor­rect in­verted comma into a Twit­ter di­a­tribe – it’s Simp­sons, not Simp­son’s! – when slag­ging Karol Kodswal­lop.

Help char­ity cash in

IF you want to spec­u­late a lit­tle and also help those af­fected by home­less­ness then you could buy some Scot­coins and also give to your fam­ily and friends this Christ­mas. The cryp­tocur­rency that is ne­go­ti­at­ing to be­come our na­tional one – and the re­cent Brexit events can’t have harmed that – has teamed up with So­cial Bite, the char­ity that hires home­less peo­ple for its cafes and restau­rant. For ev­ery £20 spent on Scot­coin be­tween now and the end of Jan­uary a fiver goes to the char­ity. Those Scot­coin hold­ers will also get a four-for-one bonus if they hold on to them un­til the cur­rency moves to its own blockchain which, although it sounds like a me­dieval tor­ture reg­i­men, is ap­par­ently the doo­fur that buys and sells and pro­tects it.

Tak­ing the Mickey

IT’S 90 years to­day since Mickey Mouse made his first ap­pear­ance in a car­toon called Steam­boat Wil­lie, which had noth­ing to do with the so­bri­ety, or oth­er­wise, of Bill, but the ad­ven­tures of a ro­dent with a crackly falsetto voice – although

that voice wasn’t heard, from the pipes of Walt Dis­ney, un­til a year later in the Kar­ni­val King. Cu­ri­ously, I have known sev­eral Mick­eys in my work­ing life. It was the moniker of choice of print work ca­su­als who signed in for their pay us­ing it. Us hacks just forged re­ceipts for ex­penses. Those days have gone of course, to­gether with Lino­types, Un­der­wood stand-up type­writ­ers and three blacks (car­bons). Re­grets…?

Trump Mk II?

YOU think Trump is as bad as it gets? An­other cracker is about to en­ter the race for the top job in the United States, apart from Hil­lary Clin­ton that is. John McAfee claims he will run in 2020, although he holds out lit­tle prospect of win­ning (but prob­a­bly The Don­ald was say­ing that too, early on). McAfee is the man who formed the com­pany that pro­duced the epony­mous and uni­ver­sally-used anti-virus soft­ware. He’s 73, ages with Trump, and was born in the For­est of Dean in Glouces­ter­shire. In 1996 McAfee sold out, with a re­ported for­tune of $100m, and moved to Belize, where he started a com­pany to make nat­u­ral an­tibi­otics.

It was in Belize it started to go wrong for him. In 2012 a US ci­ti­zen called Gre­gory Viant Faull, who was McAfee’s neigh­bour, was mur­dered. His neigh­bour then be­came a “per­son of in­ter­est” to the po­lice in­ves­ti­gat­ing the killing. McAfee fled to Gu­atemala and was later ar­rested for en­ter­ing the coun­try il­le­gally and even­tu­ally de­ported to the US.

McAfee is an apos­tle for cryp­tocur­ren­cies. In 2016 he be­came chair­man and CEO of MGT Cap­i­tal In­vest­ments, a tech­nol­ogy hold­ing com­pany, which he moved into the min­ing of bit­coins. In Septem­ber this year the Se­cu­ri­ties and Ex­change Com­mis­sion, one of Amer­ica’s main fi­nan­cial reg­u­la­tors, launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the com­pany. McAfee and MGT are also be­ing sued by in­vestors who claim a group of MGT in­sid­ers made $27m by sell­ing stock at ar­ti­fi­cially high prices, prices that were partly gen­er­ated by the an­nounce­ment of an il­lu­sory deal with a “cy­ber­se­cu­rity in­no­va­tor who had cre­ated a pop­u­lar an­tivirus soft­ware bear­ing his name” (guess who?).

If all of this isn’t just a bit Trumpian then there’s McAfee’s views on women. “I don’t trust a woman who doesn’t charge money for sex,” he tweeted last week. This af­ter he claimed a wait­ress handed him a note say­ing she wanted to bed him, in rather more crude and colour­ful terms. He fol­lowed this by, “Folks from my prior tweet don’t be­lieve a beau­ti­ful woman would throw them­self [sic] at a 73 year old man who looks like a shriv­eled tes­ti­cle….It hap­pens con­stantly – at con­fer­ences, many times a day. Ev­ery wealthy man – the same.”

He may have a real chance in 2020.

Art of the deal

DO you know what Kleck­sog­ra­phy art is? Nei­ther did I un­til last week. It’s a fancy name for an ink blot. Think Rorschach Test with­out hav­ing to think about it. Think what a two-year-old does with a paint brush and there you have it. Johnny Depp has done one. He’s a big art col­lec­tor, at least he was un­til the break-up of his mar­riage to Am­ber Heard.

And his blot, folded over and smoothed out, has led to 100 lim­ited edi­tion prints of it. It’s said to look like a pi­rate’s skull, or surely two?

And, to­gether with a Depp pho­to­graph of him hold­ing it and his sig­na­ture on a cer­tifi­cate tes­ti­fy­ing to its Depp­ness, one can be yours for £300. Fifty pounds of each sale will go to the UK char­ity Re­think Men­tal.

Next year the orig­i­nal, to­gether with oth­ers from celebs Or­lando Bloom, Dua Lipa and Ed Sheeran, will be sold off to ben­e­fit the char­ity. If asked, my ink well is primed.

Ger­ard But­ler’s home was among those hit by the lat­est fire in Cal­i­for­nia, above, while Mickey Mouse, op­po­site page, and Johnny Depp, top, are other Hol­ly­wood fig­ures in the spot­light this week for dif­fer­ent rea­sons.

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