Comment roundup 3

“John”notes It’s My Story, 9 minutes in*:

“It’s My Story : The Vietnamese Buddha

Documentary about a Buddhist master returning to Vietnam for the first time since the war. Discussing the Buddhist monks who immolated themselves in protest at the Vietnam war the presenter drops in this staggering bit of amoral relativism:

‘I kind of think about what happened at 9/11 and I suppose I’m trying to figure out how that’s kind of different’

What kind of question is that to ask for anyone with any moral sense whatsoever?

Though I suppose both the Buddhist monks and the 9/11 hijackers committed suicide protesting the Imperialism of the evil Americans so it IS a tricky conundrum in the mind of a presenter impregnated with the BBC/Guardian/Independent worldview to say who’s better or worse.”

I suppose we should be thankful the presenter is at least aware that there may actually be a difference…

*Not double-checked by B-BBC

“disillusioned_german” complains to the BBC about The Christmas Resistance. Yesterday, this was hyperlinked from the news front page with the heading “Bah humbug!” (from memory – gone now).

Although every news organisation peddles these sorts of Christmas stories every year (in the US under the “War on Christmas” palaver, whereas in the UK and Australia it is more normally with an amused “human interest”/eccentricity angle), I think the broader point might be fair. Eid and Diwali etc etc never get subjected to this sort of questioning. When the BBC starts giving equal time to people like the brilliant Irshad Manji (BBC treatment here), who represents an important reforming strain in Islam (like The Times does with Salman Rushdie, for example), then pieces like this and the Whine about Christmas would be OK.*

*This is hardly some world service issue irrelevant to BBC UK programming – although Muslims only make up 3.1% of the E&W population, the issue is well covered by White City. (Then again, UK government institutions have always had a thing for romantic Arabism, and pro-Islam-ism may seep out from there).

I think the deeper issue is not that there is some lapidary, monolithic “Let’s attack whitey” stance in the BBC, but more that the “institutionalised multi-culturalism” is so pervasive that the “oh so clever” 20 year-old baby Beeboid just out of university who is assigned to write this Christmas dross lives in a world that can’t possibly contemplate that some might wonder why his cynicism over a Christian religious festival shouldn’t equally be applied to a festival celebrated by a religion whose adherents have more melanin in their skin than Pat Robertson.

On the issue of Islam, “the_camp_commandant” notes the confusion when two PC shibboleths collide. Same sex domestic partnerships in the UK are truly newsworthy. In coverage of the Belfast ceremonies, the BBC had quotations from Christians protesting about hellfire etc etc, and a Catholic cardinal about the Catholic view of the issue. I have never seen a quotation from an imam on Islam’s view. I wonder why?

USS Neverdock on more BB Blankety Blanks.

“Ritter” notes Christians accused of homophobia which seems to be a local news beat-up about police harrassment of two old people for breaching groupthink rules (this is becoming a pattern), while a perfunctory search about those executions of young gay men in Islamic Iran was pretty uninformative.

“Ritter” links to Ray Snoddy on the changing media landscape.

“Rob White” and “Lizzie” think Christmas after Katrina: Part One and Christmas after Katrina: Part two are worse respectively.

“Steve” notes 262 BBC Execs earn over £100,000.

“Rob White” looks forward to 2006:

“Starting on 4 January, 2006, Matt Frei will be writing a fortnightly diary from Washington for the BBC News website.”

“Roy” notes:

“Seems that Frei is joined by BBC’s Daniela Relph in Washington who provided this article on the renewal of the Patriot Act.

The American Expatriate explains that the BBC are calling the result after 90 minutes, when the match is going into extra time, with more support for Bush’s position than the BBC will credit.”

The Expat discussses BBC reporting on ID. To be fair, the US is an exremely complex country, where you can find whatever you are looking for (the cleverest people, the dumbest people, the fattest/most health-freaky people, the most Christian/most depraved people etc). However, a basic knowledge of the US system ought to cover things like federal/state/county/parish devolution of power and the consitutional structure. Why is it OK for the BBC and other PC lefties to generalise about the US, but not, for example, about Muslims or black people? Like Jews, the US and Americans are fast becoming the blank slate upon which the rest of the world unfairly, illogically and irrationally projects its own prejudices and nightmares.

“Rob Read” plays BB Blankety Blanks with this article about those postal workers – I wonder why the scare quotes:

‘Up to £5m was pilfered from 1,300 “mainly Jewish” residents in Golders Green, north London, alone.

Because of the large number of victims, both they and police initially feared the community was being “targeted because of religion”, but that concern was “misplaced”.’

The scare quotes are unnecessary and cause the cynical to assume something worse – replace “Jewish” with “black” or “Muslim” (mutatis mutandis).

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Echo chambers

Ho hum, Kofi Annan wins an environmental prize:

‘UN secretary-general Kofi Annan has been given one of the most prestigious environmental awards, the Zayed Prize.

The citation noted his “personal leadership” on sustainable development…

The winners of the prize, which honours former UAE President Sheikh Zayed, share $1m (£564,000); previous awards have gone to Jimmy Carter and the BBC.’

The last paragraph was slightly rodent-fragrant – and the name rang a bell. Is this anything to do with The Zayed Centre for Coordination and Follow-Up? Coincidentally:

“The Centre has also hosted and worked in conjunction with notable personalities such as former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, and French President Jacques Chirac. Its activities have been highly praised by former vice president Al Gore, as well as a wide range of former high-ranking State Department officials. This report reviews the Centre’s activities, lecture series, research, and publications.”

Read more about the Centre here (you knew I was holding something back for dramatic effect, didn’t you?).

In space, no-one can hear you scream. In a princely despotate, no-one can use the prince’s name without government authorisation (intriguing snippet here).

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Saddamitical crimes

Via Bloggers4Labour, more HYS goodness:

“If the court follows international law, then he will have to be returned to power. If it doesn’t follow the law, the UN should refuse to accept the new government. It will be tough on Iraqis, but the principle of non-aggression must be upheld at all costs, and Bush must be humiliated and driven from power.
Colin Danforth, Montreal”

One presumes that this is irony (“It will be tough on Iraqis”), but the phrasing otherwise (“If the court follows international law, then he will have to be returned to power”) would suggest not (and Mr Danforth does live in Quebec – which is Canadian and French!).

“I think the victim has already had enough torture – mental and physical i.e. death of sons, fall from power, focus from the spider hole he was found in …
Misiko Amos, Kampala, Uganda”

If you like, you can look at thousands of Iraqi spider holes (slightly graphic if you don’t like to see skeletons)

On the subject of Saddam’s enormities, note the side bar has a link to Counting the Dead, which appears to be an editorialised re-broadcast of the Iraq Body Count. There is nothing to indicate that the IBC’s figures are disputed or subject to methodological criticism.

In the backgrounding, there is no mention of the crimes with which Saddam is charged. If you go to FoxNews, and look at “Background”, you find transcript of the charges, as well as:

“Background• Fast Facts: Saddam Aides to Be Tried •Fast Facts: Saddam Hussein• Transcript: Saddam’s Arraignment Video•Saddam Defiant in Court Photo Essays• Saddam’s Day in Court• Iraq’s Dirty Dozen• Saddam’s Downfall Stories• July 1, 2004: Defiant Saddam Refuses to Sign Charges• July 1, 2004: Kuwaitis Demand Justice•July 1, 2004: Iraqis Offer Mixed Take on Saddam• July 1, 2004: Plenty of Evidence Against Saddam”

When it comes to Milosevic, you get transcript and Q&As.

Whence the difference? Both ordered or were complicit in the killing of hundreds of thousands of Muslims, but one killer was (sort of) Christian and white. It wouldn’t be because France, Germany and Belgium supported Clinton‘s atack on a “sovereign member state of the UN”, in “flagrant breach” of “international law”, by any chance?

Now who is “fair and balanced”?

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Comments roundup 2

Bloggers4Labour discuss that slave picture.

“Roy” links to criticism in The Guardian – is this a Menshevik vs Bolshevik spat or does The Guardian realise that it is in fact a free market operator harmed by the Beeb’s gross taxpayer subsidisation?

“Try almost anything innovative, indeed – and Auntie, lifting her skirts, is off and running in a flash.”

On the subject of editorialising agency copy, “Roy” asks us to compare and contrast CNN and BBC Online on Ethiopia vs Eritrea:

‘CNN credit the following stories to Reuters. The BBC give no such credit.

“An international commission has ruled that Eritrea violated international law with an attack on Ethiopia in 1998 that triggered a border war.

But the peace process has stalled since Ethiopia rejected a decision in 2003 to award the flashpoint border town of Badme to Eritrea.” (CNN)

“Eritrea triggered the border war with Ethiopia when it attacked its neighbour in May 1998, an international commission in the Hague has ruled.

The war was ostensibly fought over the dusty town of Badme, which was awarded to Eritrea by another commission set up as part of the peace agreement.” (BBC)

So the BBC adds some local colour with “dusty”. Almost makes you think the BBC hack is there, wrapped in ethnic dress against the dust & heat.’

Well, that £2.8 billion has to be spent on something, doesn’t it?

“Rob Read” links to Matt Frei’s US That was the year that was – you’d never guess that most of the oppressed people in the world want to live there, would you?

If readers find any BBC Online articles snidely commenting on an ayatollah for wrapping his head – “mediaeval-style”- in cotton, please let us know.

Are national flags “really that meaningful“? (probably not in Islington)

Wait for this to be amended:

“Police said they suspected animal rights extremists broke down the fence enclosing the boar at the farm at West Anstey in north Devon.” (emphasis added)

Not even a scare quote – aren’t they “activists”? I note that the metadata (?) for the same article has “activists“:

“Up to 100 wild boar are released from a farm in north Devon by suspected animal rights activists.”

In BBCLand, Palestinian Christians are victims of Israel’s “curfews, closures and the newly-built West Bank barrier” – no mention of persecution of Christians in Palestine by other (pdf) sorts of people (pdf), except for these two throwaway lines:

“A few Christians speak privately of harassment, Muslims seizing Christian land and the fear of speaking out against radical groups.

But many others say they live like brothers with their Muslim neighbours, sharing the struggle against Israeli occupation…

The episode was reportedly a dispute over unpaid salaries within Mahmoud Abbas’ ruling Fatah party.

But a few Christian onlookers were quick to interpret it as a Muslim-driven plan to sabotage Christmas in Bethlehem.”

It couldn’t be persecution that is driving Christian exile – in a shameful echo of anti-Semitism, they are leaving because they are selfish:

“Although the dire economic situation has affected Christians and Muslims alike, emigration from Bethlehem is higher among Christians, who are helped by higher levels of education and better contacts in Western countries.”

To be fair, I wouldn’t want to be a female reporter of the state propaganda organ of a white-imperialist-infidel-atheist-Zionist-crusading-power in Palestine (hey, I wouldn’t want to be the gay guy that I am there either, regardless of skin colour, religion or employer), and at best Ms Sharp’s news contacts would dry up if she started reporting evenhandedly, and at worst, she would probably be kidnapped and murdered. Stockholm Syndrome/capture theory in tyrannies is nothing new, and it is a wider problem that needs to be addressed in consuming any media output.

“Eamonn” notes in The Independent (15 December 2005):

“Sir: Greg Dyke’s article (Media, 12 December) does not reflect the Chief Rabbi’s views on the BBC’s coverage of the Middle East.

At the meeting with a BBC management group to which Mr Dyke refers, the Chief Rabbi argued that there was in his view a failure to provide viewers with an Israeli perspective on events in the Middle East. He urged the Director General to commission a documentary that would do this by contextualising these events. He followed up this request by letter. He repeated his concerns when he addressed a subsequent gathering of BBC producers, at their request, several months later.

The Chief Rabbi shares the concerns held by the Jewish community about the BBC’s Middle East coverage, and is constantly reminded of these on his frequent visits to communities both in the UK and abroad.

ZAKI COOPER
HEAD OF EXTERNAL RELATIONS OFFICE OF THE CHIEF RABBI LONDON N12″

“Ritter” notes Suicide bomber play to tour:

“The play also explores the true definition of the son’s name, Jihad – often interpreted as meaning Holy War, but actually denoting the battle to overcome internal conflict.”

This is not attributed to anyone so we are entitled to take it as the BBC editorial line. Jihad has a range of meanings, one of which certainly isholy war“* so the words “often interpreted as meaning …, but actually denoting” are fraudulently misleading.

*Not just wikipedia – see here and here.

USS Neverdock on Simpson’s sleight of hand.

“Rob” plays BB Blankety-Blanks – can you guess the missing words? He spies a word beginning with “M” (or “I”?).

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Syndication

Via “Roy”, The Times on old media and the internet:

“This is not just a problem for weblogs. The internet is teeming with “news”. Visitors to the BBC website, for instance, can read stories about New York, Indonesia and Shropshire. One could be forgiven for believing that it was dispatched by BBC correspondents on the streets of Manhattan, Jakarta and Shrewsbury. It appears under Auntie’s banner, after all. But this is rarely the case. The stories are often unamended agency copy* without any attribution given to Reuters, Agence France-Presse or the Associated Press. Such a muddled and muddied provenance merely encourages cynicism about large news organisations.”

“Muddled” is right. Many decades ago, in a world of telegrams, overseas travel for government and film stars only, and Communist tyranny, the BBC provided a sterling news service (with its own correspondents) and high-culture broadcasting throughout the world. It was part of England’s mission civilisatrice. As with all state institutions, lack of accountability gave rise to a holier-than-thou mandarinate, and when the cloth-caps were content to be cowed by this, all was well. Thatcher came along and really questioned the old CP Snow world, and at the same time, as Reagan challenged communism, the BBC was overrun by a new mandarinate (see here for the uncanny Australian parallel), recruited at universities from student leftists who read the job advertisements in the Guardian.

As the left was rolled back in the real world, in the BBC and academia it grew stronger, as leftists, like insects scrambling for cover when you lift a rock, scurried to the one last bastion of tenured privilege where their soi-disant “progressive” worldview was accepted. Add the PC worldview to the old carapace of the holier-than-thou institutional mandarinate and you get today’s bastard child that is the BBC, which combines soft-left “progressive” Islington smugness with a very new-fashioned view of the media, influenced greatly by Blair and New Labour’s ideology-free micro-managerialism. The BBC puts News Corp to shame with its excessive use of agency copy, its shameless promotion of low and gangsta culture and its subsidised competition with private shareholders who have to put their own money up to provide for-profit TV stations and other media. Yet, nobody is forced to give money to News Corp.

The BBC’s lack of accountability as a state institution means that nobody can ever really stop it from peddling Chomskyite propaganda (however many enquiries Blair announces). At the same time, it always has its hand out to the taxpayer, asking for ever more money to do the sort of things that any local community can do with a website now (eg BBC Leicester), and to compete with News Corp by recycling AP and Reuters feed, filtered through a sneering, petulant post-communist leftist world view – a worldview that cannot countenance, apart from attributing it to the only manifestation of evil it allows to exist, the fact that there is a respectable intellectual case for free conscience (including religion), free markets, judging on the content of character rather than the colour of skin, property rights, a limit to the power of the state, free will and individual responsibility.

Is there in fact a case for the BBC at all? Is there anything it does that the private sector is not doing already and better? Would anything be missed if it were abolished tomorrow?

We’re all grown up now, and it’s time for Aunty to leave the house.

* Update “Steve”, who says he works at the BBC (and impliedly represents that he is sufficiently senior to credibly say this), says that “Nothing you see on the BBC News website is ‘unamended agency copy’, all the stories are compiled from a mixture of agency reports and stringers/correspondents on the ground.” Do we really need the BBC to editorialise/amend agency copy when it would be much cheaper to consume commercial TV/media to see that copy ourselves?

Update II “Frank Frink” writes: “I for one have worked as a news journalist for BBC (world and n24) and now work for the agencies. I know for a fact many agency stories are given a cursory subbing (seldom as much as a rewrite) and then get packed out as BBC gospel. Correspondents or stringers might be involved in about 1 in 10 of these reports on the rolling news tv and radio channels. The journalists doing the subbing are completely free to amend the copy to suit their own prejudices, which they of course do freely. The BBC Producer guidelines require that a report be sourced to two agencies before it’s used, however this is mainly honoured in the breach. The terrible waste of all this is compounded by the fact it takes about 10 BBC journalists to rewrite the work of about 2 agency journalists of an evening.” (how many unionised workers does it take to change a lightbulb?…)

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Essex

BBC Essex has one story about Christmas on the front pageChristmas without a loved one.

On the faith page, we actually get some stories about Christianity – a story about about a Christmas concert that actually mentions Jesus.

There is Out of the Box – “Promoting and sharing awareness of our culturally enriched community the ‘Out of the Box Festival’ is a month long celebration of Cultural Diversity through Art, Music, Dance and visits to places of Worship.”

Note also Christians helping to stop binge drinking, and a piece on the Salvation Army

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In Leicester, Christmas does not involve faith

The front page of BBC Leicester has two articles on Christmas – Will it snow? (really just a headline for a hyperlink to the weather page) and Leicester’s White Christmas (photos 6 and 7 are about as close to Christianity as you get – cf the Eid photoessay, which features Islam heavily, as well as smiling people and cute kids – at least there are two smiling Christmas people in Leicester, since the rest of the Christmas photo essay would lead you to believe the place is a deserted, if picturesque, snowfield).

Click to the Faith page, and hardly a word on Christmas:

Celebrating Eid

Ghetto Gospel – a plug for a gangsta rapper that mentions “God” but fails to mention Jesus or Christianity

A Divali celebration

A Hindu festival of dance

Dealing with Death (which actually involves a Christian, but one who is coping with something awful of course, rather than “dancing” or “celebrating”, unlike Leicester’s Muslims and Hindus it would seem)

A “multi-faith calendar” – “PLEASE NOTE: The below calendar will be removed at the end of 2005 and replaced early in 2006 with an improved multifaith calendar.”

More pop rubbish – “What have Coldplay, U2, Athlete, Tupac and Good Charlotte got to do with faith? Al Rogers from Loughborough looks at religious messages in pop songs.”

In case you hadn’t read enough from the faith page, there is a whole sub-site on Asian Life, as well.

Now just where did that grinch go?

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Comment roundup

For the archives:

Laban Tall on the vanishing WPC.

“Ritter” on headline fun:

Rapid US economic growth persists

“The Department of Commerce said that gross domestic product (GDP) increased by an annual rate of 4.1% in the three months to the end of September.”

Roy notes – ‘Funny choice of word … “persist”, descriptive of something unpleasant like war or athletes foot? To be obstinately repetitious, insistent, or tenacious.’

Fast US growth outstrips estimate

“US economic growth accelerated to an annual rate of 4.3% in the three months from July to September, according to revised Commerce Department figures.”

Those stoopid Americans! How come they can’t run an economy as bad as us Europeans eh?

From December’s BBC News Online:

French output has surprise tumble

European R&D falls behind rivals

Deficit widens as growth slows

and finally, rejoice at the news that the German economy is ‘to grow quicker':

German economy ‘to grow quicker’

“Growth also is set to improve in 2005, hitting a higher-than-expected 0.9%.”

0.9% !!! That’s how you run an economy!’

“Ritter” also notes a strange sort of pre-placement-publicity masquerading as news.

“Michael Gill” notes that the Times sees fit to identify a criminal as an asylum-seeker, whereas the BBC doesn’t (and that the two mugshots that the piece originally included have been removed).

“Rob White” notes the BBC’s defence of the ridiculous Allies on Trial.

“TomL” helps find repeats of that hardworking slave picture from the BBC image library – here, here, here, here, here, here, and here (I am up to page 11 of 37 but the picture seems to have cropped up in about 2003 or so).

Rob wonders whether this is lifted from a Motorola press release (perhaps readers could help search?) – it certainly seems to be a plug for the phone anyway – or is it just very clever product placement by Motorola?

“Michael Gill” notes that “a man is shot dead” by UK police, and I note by the Israelis too, but a man is only “apparently” shot dead by Islamist terrorists.

“Richy” links to Nick Cohen on Today – “A sub-Michael Moore clown was doing a turn the gist of which was that George W. Bush was the stooge of the Haliburton Corporation.”

“Ritter” notes editorial assistance provided to the struggling BBC (£2.8 billion according to the sidebar) – “Thanks to the Centre for European Reform, the Institute of Directors, Oxfam, Unicef and WWF for sharing their views.” (I dare say any sense from the IOD was outweighed by the other “progressive” groups).

Via “Rob Read”, I am in two minds about this article.

It is no doubt true that more pollution is produced by unregulated Chinese factories than highly regulated US ones, and that therefore, in a strict sine qua non causation sense, US importing of Chinese consumer goods increases pollution. However, the same applies to any developed nation, including the EU [member states - didn't intend to imply the EU is a nation - ed]. On that basis (ie selective reporting/finding an expert to agree with your predetermined position) this is biased. Note the scare quotes about the US saving carbon emissions, and Dr Shui does not seem to like carbon trading.

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The Protocols of Washington

Even when Americans engage in humanitarian aid, they are bad:

“The BBC’s Zaffar Abbas in Islamabad says Mr Rumsfeld’s visit is aimed at ensuring continued US support in the relief and rehabilitation work in areas devastated by the recent earthquake.

Mr Rumsfeld said the US was pleased to be working side-by-side with President Musharraf and the Pakistani military to do whatever could be done to reduce the suffering of many Pakistanis.

Our correspondent says the US financial support and material support for the relief work has been one of the largest by any Western state.

Many believe that Washington has used the exercise to win support in an area where anti-American feelings run high.” (emphasis added)

Perhaps it is just me, but imagine if when the BBC reported on recovery from the WTC attack, the last paragraphs read:

‘Israel is a major ally of the US and has provided assistance to rescue crews in the form of rescue dogs and trauma medical teams.

Many believe that Mossad was involved in the attack [or should that be "militant protest"?] and that Jewish workers were warned to stay away the day before.’ or

‘Many believe that Israel has used the exercise to persuade the US to veto a proposed Security Council resolution condemning its practice of assassinating militant leaders in Gaza and the West Bank.”

Granted there may be a difference in degree (although not in character), can Americans ever do anything that is simply good for the world? Does this sort of tripe really belong in what is supposed to be the UK’s broadcaster of record?

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Plain speaking

Here we go again on “militants” – this time in Afghanistan:

‘A high-ranking Afghan government official, who did not want to be named, told the BBC that any reduction in the number of US troops would affect morale in the country.

“This will help the Taleban and will have a negative impact on security,” the official said.’

Notwithstanding the official’s description, the BBC staff writer (who wrote this, presumably after speaking to “the BBC’s Andrew North in Kabul”) insists on calling them “militants”. An impartial broadcaster would call them “Taliban and al-qaeda fighters/militants” (which would be accurate), but we all know where that would lead the reader, given their pretty poor “branding” in the west (although it would appear “al-qaeda” can sometimes be used – I would like to see the style guide on this however)…

Update Why couldn’t this headline be “Hamas leader shot dead“? “Militant” is so clumsy.

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Nuremberg

Reader Tom has a look at the coverage of Saddam’s “Poor me!” outburst.*

*From comments, but posted in the interest of archiving (well, at least as long as google is happy to host all of this stuff) as haloscan deletes comments after a while.

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A not too serious post

The old Dr Who:

“Colin Baker’s Doctor is a vain and self-absorbed bully, although he does manage to wrest some charm from the character. His assistant Peri is written as a squawking American, forced by an apparently xenophobic wardrobe department into a range of candy-coloured, cleavage-enhancing T-shirts, vast bermuda shorts and high heels, but she too grows on you.”

The new Dr Who discussed here.

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