from BBC News for Staffordshire
Two brothers who tricked people into posting non-existent items for sale online and collected the profits from dozens of victims have been jailed.Calvin and Jared Ainsworth, 26 and 31, ran the nationwide eBay sales scam, duping at least 115 people.One woman was forced to re-mortgage her home, police said.Calvin Ainsworth was jailed for five years and seven months, while his older brother was sentenced to three years and four months in prison.”Some victims were chased by debt collection agencies and suffered huge amounts of stress… while the Ainsworths spent their criminal cash on luxury holidays,” Det Con Louise Watt, of West Midlands Police, said.She added she believed the 115 victims, from the West Midlands, Blackpool, Manchester and Leeds, were “the tip of the iceberg”.Calvin Ainsworth, of no fixed address, was arrested in Rugeley in 2015 but skipped bail and fled to The Philippines where he was later joined by his brother, the force said.He pretended to run a recruitment agency looking for people to sell phones and tablets on eBay.More than £100,000 was collected from the victims by Jared Ainsworth and his partner Ameena Hussain, who acted as “couriers” for the fake company, police said.Latest news from the West MidlandsCalvin Ainsworth admitted 35 counts of fraud by false representation at Birmingham Crown Court.Jared Ainsworth, of Cavendish Street, Sheffield, admitted possessing criminal property and a Taser, which he was carrying during his arrest at Manchester Airport, as well as making untrue statements to obtain a passport.Hussain, 26, of Hatherley Road, Sheffield, previously admitted possessing criminal property and making untrue statements to obtain a passport. She was jailed for 16 months, suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 150 hours of community work, in March 2018.Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone.
Betway UK ChampionshipVenue: York Barbican Dates: 26 November-8 DecemberCoverage: Watch live across BBC Two, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button, Connected TV, the BBC Sport website and mobile app from 30 NovemberWorld number 11 David Gilbert said he wanted to “smash up his cue” after losing to 118th-ranked James Cahill in the UK Championship first round.Gilbert, 38, trailed his fellow Englishman 2-0 and 4-3 before levelling at 4-4 with his second century.But Cahill, who beat Mark Selby at the York Barbican last year and stunned Ronnie O’Sullivan at the World Championship in May, rallied to win.
“I just love playing against the best players,” said the 23-year-old said.He lost his professional status in 2017 but won back his tour card at the start of the season, following his spectacular win over five-time world champion O’Sullivan at the Crucible. UK Championship schedule & resultsSnooker nicknames: Do you know your Wizards from your Magicians?However, Cahill, from Blackpool, had only won one match this season before his victory over Gilbert, losing to many of the world’s best players, including Judd Trump, Mark Williams and Mark Allen.”I have maybe tried too hard since the Worlds and maybe put too much pressure to get to where I think I should be,” he said. “But I have had quite a lot of tough draws.”I have not had a great season so far but have been playing some good stuff and am glad it showed out there.”When you are not winning a lot it’s harder to get over the line. Winning breeds winning and hopefully I can get back to winning ways.”‘Waiting for Santa to come’
Far from newspaper offices and TV studios, committed volunteer activists have created an alternative Facebook media universe that could play a key role in the election campaign.They have very different views on issues and politicians. They also don’t necessarily have links to the main parties or mainstream campaign groups, and to some degree they all distrust the mainstream media. But working from living rooms and bathtubs up and down the UK, they run Facebook pages that attract millions of likes, comments and shares.BBC Trending has spoken to some of them.The Rural RemainerFrom a hamlet in Herefordshire, Laura Hartman runs a Facebook page called Stop Brexit Ltd. It’s racked up more than half a million likes, comments and shares already this year with a mix of pro-EU memes and links to news articles.”Nobody trusts the mainstream media,” she says – although she does sometimes post links from big news outlets. She says listening to BBC Radio 4 makes her want to throw the radio “out of the window” – she thinks reporting is skewed in favour of Brexit. “Our page is there for people who feel the same way,” she says. Ms Hartman used to live in London but moved to the countryside two years ago. She says online trolls accuse her of being part of the “metropolitan elite”.”Do I sound like the elite? No. I’m living in deepest ‘Leaverville’ now,” she says. “Don’t accuse me of latte-sipping and avocado-eating on the South Bank.”‘It’s relentless’When Ms Hartman tells us how the pro-EU Facebook ecosystem works, it sounds as if she could be talking about a military command structure.She’s part of a local Facebook group called Herefordshire for EU, which interacts with a larger group called West Midlands 4 Europe, and smaller local groups like Ledbury for Europe (Ledbury is a small Herefordshire town). All the groups post and repost memes and links throughout the day. Their Facebook groups are all discussion areas where anyone can create posts. By contrast, posts on pages like Stop Brexit Ltd can only be created by administrators, although users can still comment on them.Ms Hartman says she uses apps like Slack and Telegram to speak to other activists. “It’s absolutely relentless,” she says.The pro-EU Facebook world includes several bigger anti-Brexit pages – some of which have big budgets and highly-trained staff.Getty ImagesTop pro-Remain Facebook pages (total likes, shares and comments)Sources: BBC Monitoring, CrowdTangle. Total interactions from 1 Jan – 25 Nov 2019But there’s still room for pages run from bathtubs – or from shopping centres in Leeds. Independent of Ms Hartman’s network, 61-year-old retired teacher Brendan McGrath set up a Facebook page called Brexit Crap.He often updates it while out buying clothes with his teenage daughter. It has collected almost 250,000 likes, shares and comments this year.He says he runs the page to “redress the balance” of newspapers he views as “heavily biased” in favour of Brexit. ‘I hate Facebook’In the Remainer network, the themes are always the same: Brexit negotiations are going badly, Boris Johnson is untrustworthy, and foreign interference in elections is not getting the coverage it deserves.Recent research by media regulator Ofcom says smartphones encourage “passive news consumption” with people prioritising “quantity over depth in their news intake”. Ms Hartman’s page thrives off this trend, but at the same time, she thinks it’s bad for society. “I’ll leave Facebook when we stop Brexit,” she says. “I absolutely hate it.”The Yorkshire Brexiteer Ann is a big supporter of Brexit. She runs a page called We’re More Than a Star on Someone Else’s Flag, which she regularly updates while watching TV at home, in North Yorkshire.A pinned post on the page urges readers to “vote and work for Conservative Candidates” because Mr Johnson “offers a pathway to a clean Brexit”.Ann – she won’t tell us her surname – says the mainstream press fails to represent her and millions of Leave voters who live outside big city media bubbles. She cites a recent national newspaper article about a town she knows well. “They were writing about the people of Darlington like they were an obscure tribe,” she says.She’s been an active Twitter user for seven years but turned her attention to Facebook following the 2016 referendum. “I was looking to reach ordinary patriotic working class voters so I targeted ads at football clubs and rugby league clubs,” she says. Nowadays she relies on “organic sharing” – encouraging users to share her posts with their own networks – rather than paid ads. The number of likes on the page isn’t huge – just over 10,000 – but this does not tell the full story of its influence.”Often [other pages] will copy and paste the memes and share them to other groups,” she notes. It’s a pattern repeated across social media – copying and pasting means the total number of shares and likes are only one part of the viral story.Facebook is often criticised for its role in spreading misinformation and offensive content. Ann says she deletes racist or defamatory comments on her page but it’s “a lot to get through”.She admits she was once caught out by fake news. Last year, a story went viral claiming Cambridge University students had “banned” Remembrance Day poppies. It wasn’t true. Ann deleted her post about the story when it was pointed out to her as a fake.Despite much of the negative recent press surrounding Facebook, Ann is still a fan of the site. She thinks it enables people to express themselves in a way that wasn’t possible a few years ago. “It’s giving the voiceless a voice,” she says. “It’s a very democratic tool.”There is a huge appetite for pro-Brexit content on Facebook – as the biggest pages indicate. Many rack up millions of reactions. The largest, run by campaign group Leave.EU, has attracted more than 24 million likes, shares and comments so far this year.But much of the energy has come from grassroots activists like Ann, or Mark Childs, who works as the managing director of a building company.Mr Childs set up his pro-Brexit page, Brexit Peaceful but Loud and Proud, shortly after the 2016 referendum. “I think people prefer my page to the mainstream media because it has a more personal tone,” he says. “People want honesty.” While Remainers say the BBC is unfairly biased against them, Mr Childs says the opposite. “BBC is completely biased to support the left and will always support the EU,” he contends.The JokerIt’s not just fiery partisans who get traffic from posting about politics. Some people start doing it as a joke. A page called Gobby Geezer is run by Mike Haliday, 60, a former practical joker from Staffordshire. He mostly posts funny and nostalgic memes which have more than 100,000 combined likes, comments and shares since the start of 2019.But as we get closer to polling day, more and more election-related posts lurk among the apolitical banter. “I put stuff on there about Corbyn and [Shadow Home Secretary Diane] Abbott, as it does well,” Mr Haliday says. He says his page has “no agenda” other than posting things, which his followers will find funny. But his sense of humour clearly appeals to people more inclined to be pro-Brexit and against the Labour Party.So anti-Labour memes go down well, especially when there’s an attempt at humour.Mr Haliday says he sometimes bans “idiots” from his page but generally lets the arguments run.”I find it quite funny how angry people get,” he says. “I grab my bowl of popcorn and watch the comments. They get really wrapped up in it.”The CorbynistasA number of left-wing, pro-Jeremy Corbyn pages have attracted huge levels of engagement, including the Daily Politik, which has around 120,000 likes.The administrators of the page tell the BBC they’re based in Yorkshire and London and are providing a “counter-narrative” to the “imbalance” of the press.One of the big online stories during the 2017 general election was the influence of a host of similar pro-Corbyn pages. But last year Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced a major change to the site: prioritising posts from friends and family over ones from businesses, brands and media. This changed the landscape overnight, with many pages struggling to retain traffic. The admin of a smaller left-wing Facebook page, The Ragged Trousered Philanderer, says that the change had a big impact.”Facebook is not as effective any more but it’s still the best method of reaching people,” says the man, who asked to be identified as JJ. You won’t find political balance or carefully reasoned argument designed to persuade on any of these outlets. They’re not trying to change people’s minds, but rather to rally the troops, spread lines of attack and get people to pitch in – online, or maybe even offline.Social media has empowered people – from Herefordshire hamlets to Yorkshire living rooms – to set up their own political news outlets. Many people feel these pages represent them more than a newsroom in a city miles away.But on social media there is also a higher chance of misinformation or misleading stories spreading quickly.And Facebook pages, it has been suggested, can create “filter bubbles” – places that conform to one particular worldview.The rise of this alternative media universe can make it harder to understand the other side of the argument – or remember that it exists at all.Illustrations by Emma RussellHave you spotted something interesting on social media? Is there something we should be investigating? Email usFollow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending, and find us on Facebook. All our stories are at bbc.com/trending.
“To this new manufacture, the Queen was pleased to give her name and patronage, commanding it to be called ‘Queen’s Ware’ and honouring the inventor by appointing him her majesty’s potter.”At least, that was Josiah Wedgwood’s story. His biographer, Brian Dolan, reckons it’s more likely Queen Charlotte’s “command” was in fact Wedgwood’s suggestion, because the potter and businessman was a shrewd individual. He was perhaps the world’s first management accountant. He was a pioneering early chemist, endlessly experimenting with new ways to treat and fire clay – and noting his results in a secret code lest a rival steal his notebook.His first big breakthrough was the new kind of cream-coloured pottery – “cream-ware”- from which he had fashioned the tea service that so impressed the Queen. It was “quite new in its appearance”, he noted modestly and “covered with a rich and brilliant glaze”. It quickly became known as “Queen’s Ware”. Wedgwood was also a successful lobbyist.In the 1760s, North Staffordshire potters had to despatch their fragile wares over miles of bone-shaking, pot-breaking roads to reach major cities. Wedgwood roused investors and persuaded Parliament to approve a canal connecting the Trent and the Mersey. His fellow potters were delighted, until they realised Wedgwood had cannily snapped up some prime adjacent land and built his enormous new factory right on the banks of where the canal would pass. But perhaps his most impressive achievement was solving a problem in monopoly theory 200 years before it was even articulated.50 Things That Made the Modern Economy highlights the inventions, ideas and innovations that helped create the economic world.It is broadcast on the BBC World Service. You can find more information about the programme’s sources and listen to all the episodes online or subscribe to the programme podcast.The man who put the problem into words was a Nobel-Prize-winning economist called Ronald Coase. Imagine, said Coase, you were a monopolist, you alone produced a certain thing. Many people wanted to buy it – some would pay a lot, others much less although still enough for you to turn a profit. Ideally, you would like to charge a high price to the first group, a low price to the second. But how could you get away with that? One possible answer is to launch at a high price, then lower it to widen your market. That’s what Steve Jobs tried with the first iPhone, which cost $600 (£468). After two months, he cut the price to $400 (£312). Predictably – although it apparently surprised Steve Jobs – the people who had rushed to pay $600 were less than impressed. That’s why Coase argued this strategy could not work. The first set of buyers would see through the trick and realise if they only waited, they could buy the thing more cheaply. This idea is called the “Coase conjecture”, as explained in a paper published in 1972. More things that made the modern economy:Back in 1772, Wedgwood was putting into words the business model that had taken shape in his mind since his meeting with the Queen and his first dabbles in management accounting. He had grasped the difference between what economists now call fixed costs, such as research and development, and variable costs, such as labour and raw materials. It initially incurred a “great price”, he mused to his business partner, to “make the vases esteemed ornaments for palaces”. But once he had perfected the process and trained his workers, he could churn out copies cheaply. And by this time, he mused, “the great people have had their vases in their palaces long enough for them to be seen and admired by the middling class of people”. You can almost hear the cash registers pinging as Wedgwood writes on: “The middling people would probably buy quantities of them at a reduced price.” He had anticipated what would later become known as the “trickle-down” theory of fashion: people tend to emulate those they consider above them on the social scale. Why else, for example, would the jeweller Anna Hu reportedly pay the actress Gwyneth Paltrow $1m (£820,000) to wear her diamond bracelet to the Oscars? She must have hoped to recoup the cost by inspiring purchases from the “middling people”.Before we had Hollywood royalty there was only, well, royal royalty. In the 1760s you couldn’t get much higher on the social scale than Britain’s Queen – and Wedgwood’s Queen’s Ware gambit worked spectacularly. Sales were “really amazing”, he wrote. The range sold at twice the price of rivals’ comparable goods. And Wedgwood asked himself the key question: “How much of this general use and estimation is owing to the mode of its introduction and how much to its real utility and beauty?” From now on, he concluded, he should bestow “as much pains and expense” on gaining “royal or noble” approval for his products as on the products themselves. But what should Josiah make next? He courted the “virtuosi” – wealthy art collectors who brought back pieces from their Grand Tours in Europe. And the hottest new thing, he discovered, was the Etruscan pottery being excavated in Italy. Could Wedgwood make something similar? He got to work in his laboratory with bronze powder, vitriol of iron and crude antimony, and concocted a pigment that let him imitate the Etruscan style to perfection. Aristocratic clients lapped it up: you shall “exceed the ancients”, gushed one elderly lord, ordering three vases. And Wedgwood kept experimenting. Traditionally, clay was fired and then painted or enamelled. But Wedgwood worked out how to dye the clay with metal oxides before firing it, producing an oddly translucent effect. “Jasperware” came in a distinctive light blue, with white decorations in relief that are still associated with the Wedgwood brand. It was another huge success. But why did Wedgwood not fall foul of the Coase conjecture? After a while, his aristocratic clients must surely have worked out that whenever Wedgwood launched something they had never seen before, they could simply wait to pick it up more cheaply.But the trickle-down theory works both ways. If people are trying to emulate their social superiors, what do you do if you’re already at the top of the scale? You try, of course, to look different to the people below you. Some economists now discuss fashion as an exception to the Coase conjecture. Even if you know you’ll get something cheaper if you wait a while, sometimes you still want it right now. A few years after he wowed the Queen, Wedgwood observed Queen’s Ware was “now being rendered vulgar and common everywhere”. If the great people wanted to set themselves apart from the middling people, they would have to show off their wealth and good taste by buying something new. And, happily, Wedgwood always had something new to sell them. The author writes the Financial Times’s Undercover Economist column. 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy is broadcast on the BBC World Service. You can find more information about the programme’s sources and listen to all the episodes online or subscribe to the programme podcast.
A woman whose former partner threatened to jump from a bridge on to her car during a stalking campaign is warning others to be aware of the signs.Emily, from Staffordshire, said she suffered a breakdown after months of persistent contact.The man was ultimately given a restraining order, a 12-month community order and 100 hours unpaid work.She said she hoped speaking out would save others from suffering similar trauma.Emily, who does not want her full name published, said, after splitting with her partner of four years in July 2017, he began to show up at places he knew she would be, and bombarded her with emails, texts and voicemail messages.She said his behaviour began to escalate, and he asked her to return all the gifts he had bought her so he could burn them.”A few weeks later he threatened to jump off a bridge on to my car,” she said.She said his intention was so that it would be as if she had killed him, and he sent her a photo from the bridge to “hammer home that was his intention”.Latest news from the West MidlandsAfter Emily reported his behaviour multiple times, Staffordshire Police arrested her ex-partner, who later pleaded guilty to stalking at North Staffordshire Justice Centre in July 2018.But Emily said his actions led to her becoming isolated and she was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. She spoke out as Staffordshire Police launched an anti-stalking campaign after last year receiving 696 reports, triple the number in 2017. “If people can report early and get convictions early and get restraining orders then hopefully no one needs to be in the position that I was in or even worse,” Emily said.Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone.
Two men have been sentenced for “preying” on a vulnerable disabled woman in her own home.Shaun Brown and Luke Read broke into the house on St Ives Close in Tamworth, Staffordshire, on 29 June, police said.The door was kicked open with such force the woman was pushed backwards in her wheelchair. She also had a fake gun held to her head.The men pleaded guilty to possession of an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear and violence.Brown, 31, of Victory Terrace, Fazeley, held an imitation firearm to the woman’s head while 19-year-old Read, of Caledonian, Tamworth, went into another room and ransacked a bedroom, Staffordshire Police said.Latest news from the West MidlandsNothing was taken during the break-in but a television was damaged, the force added. Brown was jailed for 5 years and 7 months at Staffordshire Crown Court.Read, who also admitted affray and damaging property, was sentenced to 28 months in a young offender institution.Staffordshire Police said the force would continue to target “offenders who believe they can prey on houses”.”Though the vulnerable disabled woman wasn’t hurt, she was left extremely shaken and frightened,” Det Sgt Elise Mason said.Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone.
Scunthorpe United and Port Vale have been charged with “failing to ensure that their players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion” by the Football Association.The Iron’s Matthew Lund and Vale’s David Worrall were both sent off after the final whistle on Saturday after an altercation involving players from both sides.Scunthorpe won the League Two game 2-1.
The clubs have until 18:00 GMT on Friday to respond.
A flu-like illness has been partially blamed for the highest number of people to go to a hospital’s A&E department.Nearly 500 patients went to A&E at Royal Stoke Hospital in 24 hours on Monday, including 155 children.Seventy children would visit A&E on a typical day, so 155 is a significant increase although patient numbers have been rising anyway, a spokesman said.Influenza-like illnesses and respiratory ailments were to blame, the Stoke-on-Trent hospital said.The hospital said while it had seen the highest number of patients ever attend the A&E it had done much to alleviate pressures.
Skip Twitter post by @TracyBullock12
I take my hat 🎩 off to our ED staff for keeping our patients safe under immense pressure – last 24 hours saw record number of attendances (499). Thank you🙏👏👏👏— Tracy Bullock (@TracyBullock12) November 26, 2019
End of Twitter post by @TracyBullock12
A total of 499 patients went to the emergency department on Monday.In comparison, on the third Monday in November 2018, 452 patients went to A&E, 103 of which were children.Medical director John Oxtoby said the hospital was experiencing increased demand “like many hospitals around the country”.”The colder months bring with them more cases of influenza-like illnesses, respiratory ailments, particularly among children and we see more accidents due to adverse weather conditions. “This can lead to a number of challenges, particularly for our emergency department,” he said. “However, we do of course plan for these peaks in demand and while the last 24 hours has seen the highest number of patients ever attend our A&E at Royal Stoke University Hospital, we have done much to alleviate the pressures.”Latest news from the West MidlandsUniversity Hospitals Birmingham said it had also seen “very high demand” at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital A&E overnight, with its children and minor injury departments seeing significant demand.While Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust said throughout the whole of October, it saw 12,399 emergency attendances, 1,135 more than in October 2018.”That rise in emergency demand has continued into November. So far this month, we have already seen over 800 more attendances than the same time last year,” a spokesman said.Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone.
Five boys aged between 14 and 16 are detained after an attempt to steal the man’s car keys.
Live coverage of Tuesday’s League Two game between Forest Green Rovers and Crewe Alexandra.