Admin notes.

I’m afraid I might not have time to post for the rest of the week. So any emails you send me pointing out examples of BBC bias might be even slower than usual to appear.

I have a bleg. I would like to be able to do screenshots on this blog. I know how to do a screenshot on Windows XP: press CTRL + PRT SCR or ALT + PRT SCR, then save the thing to a document. I also know how to make a picture called whatever.gif appear on the blog: you go <IMG ALIGN=”LEFT” then a space then SRC=”whatever.gif”> …

What I don’t understand is

1) How you make your screenshot into a gif, or even if it matters.

2) How do you find out what the “full path name” of the source file is.

3) How do you just save the window you are on rather than the whole screen.

I would be grateful if readers could either direct me to a good explanation online or just tell me, if it’s quick.

UPDATE: Thank you one and all. Please don’t send any more advice for now as I am going off to experiment with what you have said. This, for me, is sometimes a slow process. To avoid mixing up how-to computer comments with BBC-related comments I have fiddled with the timestamp of this post to make it no longer the topmost one.

The EU Serf writes:

The EU Serf writes:

An important way to understand what someone thinks is the way in which they use certain words. The BBC’s insistence on words like Militant is the best known example.

Yesterday evening on the BBC World News bulletin at 18:00 GMT I came across another misuse of phrase which surprised me even for the BBC.

Yesterday Bulgaria and Romania signed EU accession treaties. The story was about the difficulties faced by both countries in meeting EU requirements and was shot in Bucharest the Romanian capital.

Corruption is the biggest issue and they had a discussion with school teachers who were trying to teach their pupils about the EU and anti corruption issues. But I quote:

“It is ironic that teachers, who are themselves accused of corruption, should be at the front line of the anti corruption drive.”

What could this corruption be? Allowing cheating on exams? Taking money to allow pupils to jump queues for popular schools?

Apparently what the BBC means nowadays by corruption is, get this:

Teachers giving private lessons in their spare time.

That may be illegal in Romania, I have no idea and they are probably working cash in hand, which is tax evasion, but neither of these could ever be called corruption.

Has the BBC re designated the word corruption to mean breaking the law? Not paying tax? The despots of the world would love such a definition. Or was it just bad journalism?

Private lessons in exchange for a guaranteed exam pass would be corruption. Working part time after hours is just coping with socialism. Given the fact that such moonlighting was common among BBC journalists until recently you would think they would be a little more understanding.

Ghana is growing.

Alex Singleton sent me this link from his Globalisation Institute Blog. In this BBC article by Peter Day, Day says that the Ghanaian economy has shrunk for much of the last twenty years. No it hasn’t. This case study on Ghana by Andrew McKay and Ernest Aryeetey takes a long time to load but has a great deal of info. What I noticed most about the graph Alex cited, the greeny-yellow one on page 11, is how much steadier Ghana’s economy has been in the last twenty years.

That said Peter Day’s article is informative and, rightly, upbeat. It is positive about the good that businesses, both locally owned and foreign, can do in Africa – and that is something we haven’t always seen. This was pure BBC-think though:

You might also say, if you pushed it, that mobile phone access is fast becoming a basic human right, like clean water and access to affordable healthcare, two other things which many Ghanaians do not yet have.

Africa has had a great deal of things being defined as basic human rights, the provision of which was too important to be left to the profit motive. It has not worked well. Since it did not pay people to produce them, those very things have been in the shortest supply.

Selling your birthright for a mess of pottage.

This is about Dr Who. Be warned: spoilers coming up.

Reader Mark comments:

Surprised the biased BBC blog hasn`t made a post about the two part Doctor who programme, the second part of which was shown last night.

Basically the story turned out that a family of aliens (high up and powerful in government) wanted to start a war for profit despite not having a UN resolution, one of their motives was oil. There was a bogus threat of 45 seconds. Yet to whip the people up in a frenzy the alien family were behind the crashing of a spaceship into big ben in order to give them a reason to start a war.

Worked it out yet?

I`m against the iraq war but for the bbc to put out a programme which basically suggested that Bush (i`m not a fan)was behind 9/11 in order to start a war on iraq was grotesque. I expect to see that kind of extremism on anarchist/islamic and white supremacist websites, not on the BBC.
I phoned up and complained. Gave them an earful.

It’s all a bit of a shame. Last week we had me and a whole bunch of hardened BBC-bashers falling over themselves to praise Dr Who. There was a great deal to praise in the latest episode, yet I suspect that the part that will be remembered and discussed will be one speech delivered for, oh, 45 seconds or so. (Delivered very well, I must say. Good acting portraying good acting. You saw for a moment how this bumbling substitute could hack it as a politician.)

If I’m right about one thing then my take on this will less harsh than Mark’s. In that case I will say that the 45-seconds stuff was a weak and ill-judged joke that, for a few minutes, quite threw out my willing suspension of disbelief. I spent time thinking about Bush, Blair, the Hutton report etc. and as a result missed what the alien plot actually was. (Never did quite work it out. What was stopping the aliens from just slagging the earth? It seemed to rely on their being some aliens up there who weren’t in on the conspiracy but no one ever mentioned them. But as I said, I wasn’t paying attention.) Assuming I am right, I will say that artistically that is a horrible crime. “Let that be a warning to scriptwriters,” I will say, “not to let the temptation to make a passing political point mar otherwise fine pieces of work. Don’t sell your birthright for a mess of pottage.”

More in sorrow than in anger: that will describe my reaction if I am right on this one aspect. It is tacky to make partisan political points in what is ostensibly a children’s programme. It may even be against the rules to do so during an election campaign. It will date quickly. It is yet more evidence that the BBC is biased: you could live for nine hundred years before you saw a corresponding pro-Iraq-war pointette being slipped into a children’s drama.

OK, what is this one thing that I think should decide my, and by implication your, attitude towards all this? It is this. At the time it didn’t even occur to me that the spaceship hitting Big Ben was part of the political point the scriptwriter was trying to make. It did not occur to me that it was meant to be a parallel to the airliners hitting the twin towers of the WTC. I assumed, and still do incline to believe, that the only political jab was against Mr Blair and his “45 minutes.” Why do I think this? Because, in the story, no one was mentioned as being killed as the ship hit Big Ben, and the whole thing was meant to look like an accident anyway, whereas the important fact about the planes hitting the Twin Towers was that a great many people were murdered in a manner that flaunted its own deliberateness. True the Dr Who episode did depict a vessel crashing into a famous tall building, but if I did not spontaneously see a parallel despite having spent a great deal of the last three and a half years obsessing about the consequences of September 11 2001 then it seems reasonable to assume that the writer didn’t intend one.

If, however, there was an intentional suggestion that the airliners crashing into the Twin Towers were fake, then it would be different. One, it would be a pretty sick joke. Two, we’ve had enough of the BBC giving credence to conspiracy theories to an adult audience, let alone children.

But like I said, even on the more generous interpretation, it’s a shame. A serious drama should be like a swimmer diving into a pool and swimming to the other side in one smooth, perfect trajectory. When he finally emerges, gasping, he breathes the ordinary air with gratitude because he has lived, for a while, in another element. A light, self-referential drama such as Dr Who is like the same swimmer coming up for air several times during his crossing of the pool. Each time your head breaks the surface, each little joke, each little hommage to the programme’s past such as the corridor-chasing back and forth across various Downing Street conference rooms, does diminish your belief a little – but it also makes your passage a more relaxed and enjoyable experience. But hearing those words “45 seconds” was like being yanked out the water, left to hang around in the cold while you think, “what the hell was that about?”, and then feeling obliged to jump in again to the no-longer so inviting water.

[This post slightly edited for clarity on Monday evening.]

War crimes.

Reg Jones wrote to the BBC regarding this link: “War crimes – have we learned anything?” and copied us in. He wrote:

Classic BBC worldview regarding war crimes:

“… Buchenwald last week, Belsen this, and Hiroshima and Nagasaki still to come in August.”

Why didn’t Mr. Simpson have the courage to follow up and explain just how the men responsible for dropping the A-bomb ie Truman, Stimson, and Oppenheimer escaped war crimes trials at the end of World War II. Was it victor’s justice Mr. Simpson or was there a slight distinction to be made between Buchenwald and Hiroshima?

If you’re going to raise Hirsohima in the context of war crimes at least have the courage to follow through. Since no distinction was made we are left with the BBC’s World Affiars editor’s cheap insinuation that there is no real moral/criminal distinction to be made between a Hiroshima –which arguably saved both American and Japanese lives– and Buchenwald.

How nice.

But let us not stop there:

“Haven’t we learned anything? Are we no further forward than we were 60 years ago?…But we haven’t yet managed to persuade those who think they can slaughter people as a matter of policy that they will inevitably pay a price for doing so. True, there is justice sometimes…”

Speaking of “justice sometimes”… did anyone notice Mr. Simpson omission. I know it was a very obscure news story. There was recently a war. The country had a bit of a genocide problem in the past. The leader of the country was not such a nice man. He is in jail now. He and his henchmen will be facing justice.

This country now has the chance to say “Never Again!” and mean it.

Strange that the BBC World Affairs Editor doesn’t mention this. No, on second thought it’s not so strange.

In his email to me he also asks whether Mr. Simpson was a supporter of “enthusiastic action” with regard to Iraq?

I can’t immediately answer that question when it comes to Mr Simpson as an individual. He seems to me typical of the old BBC in both its faults and virtues. Let’s put it this way, we might not care for his views, but he is by no means a favourite of the anti-war left either. I do remember him being joyfully enthusiastic about the liberation of Kabul and they hated him for that. Continuing my partial defence (note to our esteemed commentariat: partial defences where appropriate are necessary if one is to gain assent when attack is appropriate) of Mr Simpson, the headline referring to war crimes was almost certainly written by a sub-editor, not him. His actual words refer only to “past horrors” and “killing on an industrial scale,” and that first paragraph could be read as general introductory hand-wringing over the horrors of war.

OK, end of partial defence. The very significant ommission of recent events in Iraq in a discussion about making dictators and war criminals “pay a price” was unimpressive to the point of black comedy.

I’ve been busy

and am late in posting some interesting emails. Jeremy Sharon writes:

the BBC reported the IDF’s killing of a ticking bomb terrorist in Nablus on Thursday, April 14 here ,but have thus far failed to report the shooting of a soldier and civilian in Gaza by a sniper of the Popular Resistance Committees today (Monday, April 18) reported here at the Jerusalem Post. The incident last Thursday seems to have been reported pretty promptly but obviously things seem to be taking a little longer today at the Beeb’s internet department because I still can’t find any mention at all of today’s shooting incident on their website. I guess it’ll turn up tomorrow…or Wednesday…end of the week at the outside.

It is Wednesday and I didn’t see any reference to them. (Let me know in comments if I’m wrong.) I would partially defend the BBC in that the shootings of the Israelis were non-fatal, hence less newsworthy. Yet the BBC’s under-reporting about the stream of attacks on Israelis makes deaths like those of the man in Nablus look as if they are aggression out of the blue. It has now been admitted by the Palestinian Authority that the three Palestinians killed on April 9 were smuggling weapons, not playing football as claimed. Why don’t you learn that on the BBC report? All it says is

Last week Israeli troops killed three Palestinian youths near the border between Gaza and Egypt, sparking a barrage of mortar fire aimed at Jewish settlements.

Letter from a shameless non-payer of the TV licence.

As many of you know, it is the policy of this blog, when publishing letters, to give whatever name (if any) is stated in the text of the email. The writer of the letter below has chosen to give his name. That being so, it is not our place to shield him from the full rigour of the law.

My wife and I recently bought a mail-order VCR off Amazon. When it arrived we rigged it up – TV cable into the back of VCR, bien sûr, and it looks just dandy underneath the TV and DVD player. Hush, hush, whisper who dares, my wife and I do not have a TV licence. We haven’t had a TV licence for getting on four years. The TV licence authorities wrote to us at the address Amazon had kindly given them (we’re assuming there was something in the small-print which indicated our implicit consent in them doing so) stating that there was no record of our having a TV licence at that address, asking us at which address we were using the TV receiving equipment recently purchased, and reminding us to get a TV licence. They also asked for our correct address, so that they could come and visit. We wrote back and gave them our correct address, and inviting them to drop by whenever was convenient.

My wife and I live in Bombay. We await the detector van with baited breath. I’m still not 100% convinced that I haven’t broken the law, though.


Alton Benes

Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive / But to be young was very heaven

A Happening for Voice and Internet in one Act.

With commentary from the CHORUS, sung by the CHILDREN’S BBC WEBSITE.

STORYTELLER: Gather round, children. With the help of our friends the BBC, I am going to tell you a story, nay an epic; an epic of hope long frustrated, of struggle, of eventual victory! It all started in 2001.

Those on the “Rights Now!” march, organised by youth groups, want children’s rights to be taught at school.

It also celebrates the 10th anniversary of the UK’s agreement on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which applies to under 18s.

They feel not enough’s being done to stop bullying, poverty, and racism which affect young people.

And they hope the march to Downing Street, where they’ll present Tony Blair with a birthday cake, will put pressure on the government to create a Children’s Rights Commissioner for England to give young people a voice.

Andy, 14, explains: “There isn’t anyone in the country who is just there for us. We need someone who can stand up for children and young people when the government is making laws and important decisions that affect us.”

TROUBLEMAKER: He’s talking about this story, “Children march for their rights.”Rather begging the question, that headline, isn’t it? I don’t suppose it occurred to anyone to have the headline “Some kids march for rights they think they should have.” Still less “Some kids march for so-called rights their youth groups and trendy teachers have told them to think they should have.”

STORYTELLER: Ahem. All through 2001 the great movement gathered steam. Politically aware kids, angry at how they were not being taken seriously, demanded Ant and Dec as their representatives. Then during 2002 came the first breakthrough: “Kids make history in Parliament”:

One of the six children, 16-year-old James Sweeney, said it was good to be able to talk to the MPs, and might help get a Children’s Rights Commissioner for England appointed.

“I think it will give young people a chance to say what they want to say for once,” said James.


STORYTELLER: (Firmly) By October of 2002 the storm was rising… “English kids want a children’s commissioner.”

Over 90% of kids in England want a children’s commissioner, according to a survey by charity Unicef.

TROUBLEMAKER: As Harry Hutton says, “there is nothing wrong with these children that a prolonged and merciless beating wouldn’t put right.” Wossit say next, then?

Loads of you think not enough is being done for kids and want a special person to fight for your rights.Over 90% of kids in England want a children’s commissioner, according to a survey by charity Unicef.

TROUBLEMAKER: Yeah, sure. Imagine the survey:

Choose ONE of the following:
Option A: a special friend who will listen to your troubles and make life better, OR
Option B: racism and dirty toilets.

Seriously, does anyone really believe that 90% of British youth pined for a commissioner of their very own? Not unless the BBC breeds robot children on a secret farm somewhere specially to take these surveys. True British youth are much too busy playing Super Smash Mario Brothers Crash Team Melee Double Violence Fun on their NintendoBoy DS-es to have ever heard of commissioners or the lack of them.

STORYTELLER: Begone, foul fiend. O children, heed the words of the website:

A commissioner would be a person specially appointed by the government to listen to children, and tell politicians what would make your life better.

It’s hoped that this would help politicians and other adults take the views and rights of children more seriously.

There is already a commissioner in Wales, and others are planned for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

But the government wants to see how well they work before appointing one in England.

Already, though, the Welsh commissioner has complained about problems such as the terrible state of school toilets.

TROUBLEMAKER: How did we live without someone to complain about school toilets?

STORYTELLER: Silence, slave. The United Nations will now speak:

The United Nations has also said it wants someone who will look after kids and said it was ‘deeply concerned’ that no position exists in England.

TROUBLEMAKER: I think someone should mention that Unicef who carried out the survey is part of that same United Nations that is “deeply concerned that no position exists in England.”

STORYTELLER: Meanwhile the child-slaves groaned in their chains. How desperately they yearned for a commissioner! How devotedly did they complete the Children’s commissioner worksheet!

TROUBLEMAKER: Ouch. That’s below the belt. I didn’t expect a worksheet from the BBC…

STORYTELLER: (Diabolical laughter) NOBODY expects the worksheet! How assiduously did the children design their ideal commissioner!

TROUBLEMAKER: Don’t look, don’t look, it’s too horrible!

STORYTELLER: Eat my dust, capitalist lackey! Meanwhile even the evil oppressors of children knew all was not well. “Too many children are ‘at risk.'”

Children are being put at risk because not enough’s being done to protect them, inspectors have warned … But the report, called Safeguarding Children, didn’t recommend creating a special ‘children’s commissioner’ to stand up for young people’s rights in Parliament.

Not all bad

This is despite a survey by children’s charity, Unicef, which said at least 90 per cent of you wanted a children’s commissioner to make sure your views are heard.

But it wasn’t all bad news. The inspectors did find lots of good work going on to protect children, but said things could be improved in many areas.

TROUBLEMAKER: (Somewhat feebly)I say, isn’t that assumption that not recommending a commissioner was “bad news” rather, you know, unimpartia-

STORYTELLER: Nothing could stop the onward march of history. In June 2003 came the joyful news from the brothers and sisters over the water: “Northern Ireland gets kids’ commissioner.”Loud was the cry of England’s children, “How long? How long O Lord?” (In a non-exclusionary and not specifically religious sense, of course.)

And now, even for benighted England, our story draws to its triumphant close. Attended by the dutiful huzzahs from the BBC that it would no longer dream of according to royalty but now more rationally directs towards a newly-appointed official, we at long last read “England kids’ champion appointed.” At last the prophecy of Julian of Norwich that one day a commissioner would come, yea come with his own office and staff and budget, though not with an individual advocacy function, has been fulfilled: All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well. Or, as the BBC put it, “Children in England are finally going to have their voices heard and their rights protected.”

TROUBLEMAKER: (Making a last effort)That um, um assumes that… I can’t remember… I know there was … something about metacontexts … what did all those social workers do before … look, um, what if not all the bullies and dirty toilets and things go away even with a commissioner…

STORYTELLER: Then we’ll appoint a Children’s Czar. Get with the program, scum. You think I haven’t got more where that came from? Wanna vote? (Sotto voce) I just love those survey questions: “Do you agree there should be a children’s champion?” and “Do children need a voice in the Government?” Like the little bleeders are going to say no, hahaha. (Loudly and triumphantly) Wanna hear the loyal cadre acclaim the commissioner?

TROUBLEMAKER: No, no, not that! (A tear slides down his cheek) I – I – I love the children’s commissioner.


But from these bitter truths I must return

To my own History. It hath been told

That I was led to take an eager part

In arguments of civil polity

Abruptly, and indeed before my time