Top chefs quizzed over Eta ‘tax’

is an interesting article on BBC News Online about the extortion of ‘protection’ money by Basque terrorists in Spain. In typical BBC style the article finishes off with some relevant background details:

The raids on 3 October which resulted in key arrests, including suspected Eta leader Mikel Albizu, have also led to the capture of a large quantity of weapons.

On Sunday, two arms caches containing mortars, dynamite, anti-tank rocket launchers, guns, ammunition and assault weapons, detonators and documents were discovered in southwestern France.

Eta has been fighting for more than 30 years for an independent Basque state.

Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to have been space available (or perhaps it’s a lack of knowledge or effort on the part of the ‘journalist’) to add the small detail that the 30 year fight to which he or she refers has involved the murder, sorry Beeboids, ‘killing’, of more than 800 people.

Those mean Republicans

are doing it again in Texas and the Democrats are not amused. (Gerrymandering, that is.) One could be forgiven for thinking the gerrymander is owned by the Republican Party. The careful reader will discover that there is usually a “payback” on the part of Republicans for Democrat-favored gerrymandering or vice versa. If the Beeb really wants to do justice to this topic, let them look at how the GOP and Dems have collaborated in California, where it’s all quite predictable. Or, just have Michael Barone explain it.

I’m about to spoil a joke.

Rob Hinkley is just going to have to forgive me. Over at the Sporadic Chronicle he writes ‘Probe urged into baffling “supply and demand” phenomenon’ and links to a BBC news story. Without further comment he leaves the reader to follow the link and chuckle at just how baffling, how arcane, how incomprehensible to normal minds is the phenomenon the BBC describes. I am going to be rather more heavy handed because I want to bring out what it all reveals about how baffling, arcane and incomprehensible to normal minds the BBC can be, particularly when it is channelling Liberal Democrat press releases.

The story concerned is Probe urged into ‘turnstile con.’

The Office of Fair Trading is being urged to investigate claims that football fans are being ripped off at the turnstiles.

“Ripped off.” Auntie does try so very hard to talk as the people do.

The Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF) is concerned about clubs varying ticket prices according to the popularity of the opposition.

Italics mine. Screams of horror at such wickedness mine.

It says this unfairly penalises fans of big clubs, who are charged more.

One is charged more to see Manchester United than the Cligglesthorpe Lions, yes.

And it says Premiership clubs charge far more for tickets than their rivals in other European countries.

A study conducted by the Liberal Democrats at the start of the football season found supporters of Premiership sides paid as much as seven times more for a season ticket than fans elsewhere in Europe.

I am sure that the Portuguese and German clubs mentioned are much beloved by their fans. So I won’t ask if they actually play football as well as Messrs Rooney and Beckham do.

The increasing trend for clubs to categorise ticket prices according to which team they are playing can mean wide variations between match prices.

For example, fans travelling to Birmingham City to watch the team’s clash with Manchester United on 16 October will be charged £45 a ticket.

But two weeks later, when the club plays host to Crystal Palace, they will pay just £28.

The FSF says this means fans of popular clubs who travel to away matches will be charged more throughout the season.

A Birmingham City spokesman explained the difference by saying that “some games are more popular than others.”

Then he said, “Popular means lots of people like going to see the football game. Do you like football games? My puppet friend Binky does!”

It wanted to have its 30,000 ground at full capacity and that Manchester United was more popular than Crystal Palace, he added.

Poor Crystal Palace. Binky was very sad too.

The spokesman had no comment to make on the differences between UK and European club prices, saying only: “We keep our prices in line with British clubs.”

Then Binky whispered something in his ear. “Yes, Binky?” he asked. “You thought that was a comment? Me, too. What’s that you said, Binky? Oh, you naughty puppet – but since you’re offering, mine’s a whisky. Too right, Binks, old mate. We aren’t paid nearly enough for this.”

Greg Dyke was too busy being popular to mind the store

. Eric the Unread links to a rather delightful spot of Greg Dyke bashing by way of a review of Dyke’s new book by Charles Moore in The Telegraph*. Here are a few snippets for your edification – the first four are hilarious, the last one something that we at BBBC can attest to:

When he arrived at the BBC, Greg wanted to change the culture. He learnt how to do this when he ran LWT from 1990. There, his first act was to “put up an enormous picture of me in reception at our building on the South Bank”: he wanted to be “accessible, open, and friendly”.

When he lost control of LWT, he became very rich through the sale of his shares: “It was a truly miserable time… I also learnt to live with suddenly being rich.” Things got worse at the BBC. He had to sell lots of shares and to scrape by on less than £500,000 a year. Luckily, though, thousands of staff came to love him.

“Three weeks to the day” after Greg had been pushed out, he visited Robben Island, the place in South Africa where Nelson Mandela had been imprisoned, and found it “an incredibly emotional experience”. As he went round, “…my tears flowed quietly, tears for what had happened on this horrible island, but also tears for what had happened to me in those three days in January”. Luckily, he says, he eventually achieved some perspective, and realised that what had happened to him was “insignificant in comparison”.

According to Greg Dyke, his book has “three themes: broadcasting, politics and me”. The reader, however, may find the first two topics rather thinly covered. Greg is enormously excited by the story of himself.

During, before and after the Iraq war, the BBC maintained neither impartiality nor accuracy. The assumption behind almost all its coverage was that the war was wrong. It therefore felt that it did not need to check the details of stories whose heart, as it saw it, was in the right place.

A classic goring! Do read the whole review if you have time.

* registration sometimes required – see if need be.

All the news that’s fit to print?

As pointed out by BBBC reader Michael Gill in a comment, a silly conspiracy theory (of apparently dubious origin) doing the rounds of lefty blog sites about a bulge (i.e. a wrinkle) in President Bush’s jacket during the first presidential debate during the week before last have made it straight onto BBC News Online – Bush’s bulge stirs media rumours.

Moreover, just to make sure this dubious rumour is given maximum exposure, it is currently on the front page of News Online, with a headline reading ‘President Bush’s mystery bulge stirs rumours he was wired’, for those who skim the headlines rather than read the full story.

There was a similar conspiracy theory about Kerry pulling out and unfolding a ‘cheat sheet’ at the same debate (which turned out to be unfounded – Kerry actually pulled out a pen – in contravention of the debate rules nonetheless). Yet not a whisper of this has been mentioned on News Online, not even as relevant background information to accompany the wishy-washy Bush’s bulge rumour story that they’re currently peddling. Why the disparity in coverage? I guess it depends on what line the ever impartial BBC are pushing.

And had it been otherwise … ?

As soon as the result of the Australian election was announced, the BBC assured us that the campaign and its outcome had been driven solely by domestic concerns.

“People abroad thought Iraq might be an issue, but Australians wanted to talk about domestic issues; that’s what the election was about.” (BBC News analyst, 9th October 2004, quoted from memory)

Remarks to the same effect appeared on Ceefax and elsewhere.

Doubtless local issues were important. Unless John Howard’s acceptance speech was unrepresentative, he did not avoid international issues. I’ll let people nearer Australia than the far side of the world say whether Iraq was as irrelevant to the result as the BBC is telling me. My interest is slightly different.

If the election had gone the other way, would we be hearing so much about the outcome being driven by domestic concerns and having no Iraq-war dimension?

Would pigs be flying?

How BBC reporting looks from Iraq–a development agency director speaks

. I met Rick Leatherwood last week. He is the real deal. Here’s his take on what passes for reporting in Iraq.

Iraq: The Media is Misleading the World

By Rick Leatherwood

As the director of a development agency rebuilding schools in Iraq for the last year, I have found the situation there both intriguing and revealing. During this time, my wife and I have often visited with Iraqi friends, who have told us the hooded terrorists that CNN, the BBC, and Al Jazeera were interviewing and passing off to the world as representing the sentiments of the Iraqi people, were not from Iraq at all, but from Yemen, Egypt, Saudi, or somewhere else outside the country, but were definitely not from Iraq. How do they know? They know the same way we know if someone is from Boston or Texas. Accents: Yet CNN and the BBC make these international terrorists appear to represent the will of the Iraqi people. Nothing could be further from the truth. As we saw it from having lived in Iraq for over a year, the truth is the overwhelming majority of Iraqis are very grateful to the United States for liberating them.

Incredibly, we find very few people here in the U.S. who have heard about the various kinds of town hall meetings and village meetings that have taken place across Iraq preparing the Iraqi people to take over their own country. These meetings have been carried out by the U.S. military and civilians of the CPA, the Coalition Provisional Authority, under Paul Bremer. I have watched these dedicated Americans from the Military and State Department work tirelessly teaching the Iraqis about democracy, how to select a candidate, what to look for in a candidate, how to have an election, etc. As a result elections are about to take place in Iraq! Why has this work gone un-reported.

This war in Iraq might have been over 10 months ago if those trying to bring freedom to Iraq had not had to overcome the efforts of the media as well as the terrorists. As it is, the media has encouraged the insurgents and has undermined the Coalition at every turn. You may recall how quickly the media called the Coalition forces “occupiers” instead of “liberators” which could only embolden the terrorists. And you may remember when President Bush went to Iraq last Thanksgiving. Everyone in Iraq was excited. Did the media share this excitement? Hardly. They derided the President as “grandstanding.” Why didn’t they tell the truth? As one who was there I can tell you, not only was the U.S. Military encouraged, but also the Iraqi people were thrilled that President Bush had come to their country. And yet the media mocked.

How about the capture of Saddam Hussein? Did the media rejoice? Just the opposite. They were completely frustrated. This did not fit into their plans of prolonging the war. Nor did eliminating Saddam’s two sons whom everyone we have met in Iraq hated. The media has done nothing to encourage the Iraqi people. Nothing to try to help them to take ownership and responsibility for their country, but have done everything they could to extend the war. As a result thousands of Iraqi and American troops and civilians have died who did not have to die. Obviously the United States has been doing everything it could to bring the violence in Iraq to an end, but sadly the media it seems has done everything it could to keep it going. Here lies a tragedy of which the world should know.

A year ago a British scientist who was at the center of the controversy about Iraq being able to deliver WMD in 45 minutes committed suicide, causing a huge investigation into his death known as the Lord Hutton Inquiry. For the three weeks leading up to the verdict, CNN and the BBC built the story up on air and on their websites that this would be the most difficult week in the life of Tony Blair. But when Lord Hutton and his committee gave their report, their findings were just the opposite of what the media was expecting as the committee totally exonerated the British government of any wrong doing and found the BBC guilty of having misled the nation. Two hours later, with no explanation given, the story was not on BBC’s or CNN’s web-sites. It was no longer news.

Recently I met with a reporter at Applebee’s restaurant. As we started the interview I decided that rather than tell her what I was doing, I would just show her, so I stood up as I had done many other times in the last month and asked for the diner’s attention. When the people heard that I had been in Iraq the restaurant grew quiet, but a minute later broke into applause at the truth about Iraq I had brought them. As you can imagine the ensuing interview was quite animated and for the next hour diners dropped by with words of appreciation for what I had said.

In the course of our conversation something happened that should give us all hope, and a little more insight into what is the truth about the situation in Iraq. I told the reporter, “The most interesting thing that I have found is that everywhere I go and speak, people come up and say their cousin in Iraq (or whoever they might know in Iraq) is telling them the same thing that I am telling them.” Two minutes later a woman came over to our table and said, “You know my cousin in Iraq . . .” The interview appeared on the front page of the paper the next day. Take heart. The truth will set you free.

Rick Leatherwood is the director of Kairos Relief and Development Inc. He can be contacted at Leatherwood AT pmbx DOT net

The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?

BBC One’s news broadcasts on Monday (1pm, 6pm and 10pm, 04OCT04) featured reports from Margaret Gilmour, their Home Affairs Correspondent, on the detention without trial in the UK of foreign terrorist suspects who cannot be deported for legal reasons. The report on the 10 O’Clock news ran for a lengthy ~2m 43s, opened by Huw Edwards with:

The highly controversial powers to detain foreign terrorist suspects without charge

or trial have been challenged in the highest court in the land, the House of Lords. The case focuses on nine men who have been held for up to three years. Lawyers for the men say the powers are fundamentally inconsistent with core values of liberty and equality.

Gilmour commences her piece with:

This is the dilemma for the law lords: Does the post September 11th terror threat justify declaring a public emergency in the UK, because that’s what the government has done in order to suspend certain human rights laws so they can hold foreign terror suspects without trial. Are they legally allowed to do this? Well that’s what this case is all about.

We then run through a bit about the hearing room, a painting in the room (Moses and the ten commandments), the nine law lords judging this case, the opt-out of Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights, “11 foreign terror suspects are being held without trial under the act”, David Cairns MP (Lab) – supporting the Home Secretary, most held in the high security Belmarsh Prison in east London, a former prisoner who “met them in jail” (he isn’t identified and his reason for being in jail isn’t mentioned) who claims the detainees have “lost all hope in the British legal system”, then a clip of Conor Gearty of the Centre for Human Rights Law at the LSE (to the effect that ‘the case is about trade-offs between liberty and security’, oh really?), and then back to Gilmour, who sums up with:

This is about the balance between the war on terror and human rights. Whatever the law lords decide will set a new benchmark establishing how far civil rights issues in future should be taken into account by government and the courts.

All the while with both Edwards and Gilmour omitting the crucial seven words that hit upon the essential truth of the story – specifically that the case is about foreign nationals, terror suspects, ‘who cannot be deported for legal reasons’ – for that is the nub of the story – foreign nationals whose behaviour has made them unwelcome here (which we, as a nation, are perfectly entitled to determine), but who cannot be deported (under our law, mind, in case their home countries abuse them) and who won’t leave of their own accord.

In other words, they are locked up and looked after at our expense to protect us from them and them from their own governments, until circumstances change or they go home or find somewhere else willing to take them – which, to me, whilst far from ideal, seems the best compromise under all the circumstances.

But without those seven words (at the very least), which take all of three seconds to say (not much to squeeze into a 163 second segment!), Gilmour’s reports are quite misleading, particularly as we had various repeated reports over the weekend of a small protest outside Belmarsh (all the usual suspects, SWP, Respect, Liberty, Loopy Lawyers 4 Freeing Terrorists etc.) promulgating the usual leftie lies that Belmarsh is Britain’s Guantanamo Bay and so on, when it patently isn’t – these foreign nationals are free to leave at any time, so long as they’re leaving Britain.

Furthermore, Gilmour (and some other reports) also omit the significant details that there were originally seventeen people detained under this legislation (bottom of report) – two of whom have left the UK voluntarily, one who has been released under ‘house arrest’, one now detained under other legislation and one who has been released following the consideration of new evidence.

Given the complexity and the emotiveness of this issue, why didn’t Edwards or Gilmour manage to spend three seconds addressing such a crucial point about exactly why these people are being held in the way that they are?

If you have the time and the bandwidth you can, for now at least, see the report for yourself here (224Kbps, Windows Media format) – it starts about 8m 53s into the programme and ends around 11m 36s.

Chummy with Rummy.

B-BBC commenter, Susan, notices the friendly demeanor of our Beeb toward Mr Rumsfeld now that he seems to have strayed from the fold of Bush and Co. Unfortunately, Don has issued a clarification to what appears to have been a very mistaken inference. For a while there, he was singing their tune, and the BBC was feelin’ groovy. I hope this doesn’t ruin the day for Jonathan Marcus now that his theorizing is in vain. Paul Reynold’s ‘analysis‘ will need to be re-written (or deleted) if not stealth-edited.

(Hat tip: The Corner)

One more paving on the road of good intentions

Melanie Phillips reports the BBC’s latest contribution to misunderstanding the Israeli-Palestinian situation. When the BBC fail to report the reality of the dangers faced by Israel and instead turns attention to the ‘feelings’ of the Palestinian people, you know you are getting the official BBC Mid-East interpretation. Truth is left by the wayside.