Sunday 31 July 2016

The Silly Season

It’s the silly season. There’s no Marr, no Neil and only an extremely silly version of Sunday Morning Live. 
I don’t usually warm to Naga Munchetti, but she and Jane Hill are more sympathetic hosts than Sian Williams; however, as far as jarring S.M.L. anchorpersons go Anita Anand takes the biscuit.

This morning’s edition looked like a hastily cobbled together cover version of standard issue. Anita Anand was understudying Naga Munchetti and the panel were subs.

It’s the silly season though. As everyone else in the country is stuck in a stationary queue just outside Dover, it didn’t matter who they dragged in to discuss how faith leaders in the UK should respond to the killing of elderly Father Jacques Hamel on his church altar.” 

Tommy Sandhu has an unusual head; his features occupy the whole face, leaving little space for forehead or chin. I’m not sure what he is on the programme for, but one of his jobs is to go ‘on the road’ to capture suitable vox pops. This time he went to the Living Islam Festival in Lincoln to accost young Muslims and film them commenting on why Islam is so peaceful, and opining upon what’s wrong with the ‘Prevent’ strategy.

His other job is to read out messages from a giant screen in the studio. But the thing is, having begged the public to join in, the messages, identified in true Jeremy Corbyn fashion by first names or Twitter handles, are so inane that they’re ignored like an embarrassing smell. Also, as they are displayed in such a large format, viewers can easily read them for themselves, so they don’t need to be read out loud. Especially by someone who doesn’t necessarily do so accurately.

Anita Anand had plenty to say. Then, all of a sudden, a near earth-shattering incident shook the studio.
A panellist, The Most Rev Kevin McDonald, made an extraordinary remark, which sounded both controversial and disarmingly honest. Nodding towards Tommy’s Islam-festival vox-pops, the Most Rev said:
”Most of those young people would not call ISIS extreme”. 

The panel staggered back in horror! Anita Anand did a double-take! The clock struck thirteen.

Disappointingly, there was a qualification. Panic over. The Most Rev Kevin McDonald patiently explained why he thought most of those young people would not call ISIS extreme - not because they’d come to terms with the fact that the ideology of ISIS wasn’t a million miles away from the ideology of mainstream Islam. No. The opposite. They wouldn’t call ISIS extreme simply because they wouldn’t even call ISIS  anything at all to do with Islam, let alone an extreme version of it”

Anita heaved a sigh of relief.

The final segment was about internet trolls. The young lady who had lost a leg in that horrible Alton Towers accident has been trolled by people who accused her of exploiting her accident, which is a bit rich, since nearly  everyone on TV is exploiting some accident or other, be it an accident of birth, like talent, good looks or plain luck, good or bad. She looks defiantly glamorous; good luck to her and long may she exploit her situation and .......Get off Twitter. 

Why am I here?

The funny thing is, she looked completely surprised to find herself sitting there between, let’s face it, some decidedly unglamorous wimmin who had either been trolled  or had opinions about being trolled. She must have been wondering  what on earth she was doing there. Some of us were wondering what any of them were doing there.

"Trolls do not watch S.M.L"

P.S. You know how people with an agenda will seize upon dissenting voices to discredit their target, e.g., when the BBC cites snippets from Haaretz to back up their own creepy anti-Israel campaign?

We all understand that natives who criticize their own country -  or for that matter family members who criticize other family members  - usually have their country’s or their family’s best interests at heart and will ultimately close ranks if challenged from outside.  Freedom of speech is paramount, but at the same time it’s probably foolhardy to cavalierly hand ammunition to one’s enemies.

If anyone thinks our criticism of the BBC is aimed at its destruction, they’re mistaken. We do not have such a charter. Our criticisms are supposed to be constructive, even if they don’t always look that way. I duly acknowledge the negativity in the above post about S.M.L. 

Wednesday 27 July 2016

Radicalised Muslim psychopaths and other madmen

Every day seems to bring news of another murderous attack by crazed psychopathic madmen. Not all madmen are Muslims, but it could be argued that all Muslims are mad. The inner Dawkins in me might go even further and posit the theory that extreme religiosity is a form of insanity. 
Anyway, one theory doing the rounds is that the Jihadis who slit the throat of an elderly Catholic priest were psychopathic madmen. Muslims, yes, but above all, they were to be seen as psychopathic madmen, as if the two conditions were mutually exclusive, when of course the radicalised Muslim psychopath is both.

Radicalisation was a theme running through the Today Programme. Just before 7am we heard Sanchia Berg investigating the case of a girl who had gotten herself so radicalised that she tried to board a plane bound for Syria. 

After that Chris Phillips, former Head of the National Counter Terrorism Security Office, discussed the UK’s security measures with Justin Webb. A little later  in the programme the former editor of the Tablet, Austen Ivereigh and Father Christopher Jamison, director of the Roman catholic National Office for Vocation chatted to John Humphrys.

Finally Bernard Henri-Levy, the French philosopher and public intellectual 
“tells John Humphrys that populations under attack from terrorism need to develop a kind of "sixth sense" of danger, accepting that an attack could happen at any time.”
in the words of the BBC preview:
 Terrorists are "psychopaths and fascists" and so-called Islamic State "a monstrous magnet for the worst" says Bernard Henri-Levy.”  
This chimes with my original hypothesis - sort of. The recurring themes here are madness, radicalisation and another one I haven’t yet mentioned.... Palestine. 
The BBC is up for all of these. In fact we’re hearing quite a lot about radicalisation on the BBC recently. 
Radicalize: to cause (someone) to become an advocate of radical political or social reform. 
Social engineering, then, very like the BBC’s relentless  campaign to sanitise and normalise Islam while continually vilifying Israel. Perhaps fearing social disintegration, the BBC sees its role as separating and distancing ‘ordinary Muslims’ from the perverted and twisted version of Islam as practiced by so-called Islamic State.  
If the BBC hadn’t spent much of the last 60 years propagating the Palestinian narrative - a term I’m loath to use, but it serves the purpose here - and demonising Jews and Israel, maybe there would be more shame attached to admitting you’ve succumbed to ‘radicalisation’. As it is, people who admit that they’ve been ‘radicalised’ seem immensely proud to be able to offer ‘Palestine’ as justification for their hatred of the West.
 Their empathy with Palestinians is taken as a virtue, which they are confident will go down well. Which it will; thanks to the BBC, hatred of Israel is understandable, and it’s only a short step to justifying violence by Muslims against Israelis. 

Today Programme. 
The NSPCC has weighed in to the radicalisation problem by setting up a special helpline to advise parents whose children might have become radicalised’. 
Sanchia Berg reports on one very extreme case of a girl who was so radicalsied that she boarded a plane to Syria. Her rare refections give an insight into how this process can work. Brutalised by violent images, drawn into long intense discussion on the internet and twitter, she determined to run away.
“What goes on in a teenager’s mind when they habitually watch extremist videos online?”
The results of the BBC’s own nasty little pocket of radicalisation can be heard here:
“I saw so much violence that it seemed to lose its effect. Everything merged into one. I can’t believe I’m saying that now.” 

“I’ve already stated that my primary reason to go to Syria was to join an Islamic state, albeit sooner than I had imagined. I believed that this was the best way for me to be a good Muslim. I believed that the West was responsible for the suffering of Muslims, particularly in Gaza, where innocent people  - specially children - were being bombed and killed.
The UK was implicated in supplying arms. I felt a traitor living in the West.”

Sanchia Berg explains:
The parents were devout Muslims and had strong views, especially about Palestine. The judge found the father had shared inappropriate images with his children. He found that the parents were naive, not to blame for the radicalisation, they had not restricted their daughter’s access to the internet.

Here is some of the conversation between John Humphrys and Austen Ivereigh, author of The Great Reformer, a biography of Pope Francis, and former editor of The Tablet, and Father Christopher Jamison is director of the Roman Catholic National Office for Vocation.

What can we do? 

CJ: Open doors of Mercy. 
 JH: Doesn’t work with psychopathic murderers, does it?  Austen Ivereigh what do you think? 

AI:The only response that the church can have now is to underline the fact that it remains open. That it’s not going to start adopting armed guards and armed(sic)plate doors because that would undermine the very nature of what the church is and what priesthood is.  
I mean anybody can walk in to attend mass and kill the priest, that’s just a fact, and I think most priests understand that. In Pope Francis’s response and the Bishops of France’s response, they’re actually going the other way, they’re saying this is precisely not the time to start shutting out immigrants, this is not the time to talk about protecting us, defending ourselves. 
 It’s exactly what I.S. wants. Islamic State sees the world  in terms of religions attacking each other, conquering each other. That’s not true religion, that’s false religion and we have to say, and the church leaders are very careful to say that real religion is - well very interesting that Pope Francis described the attack through his spokesman yesterday as an act of absurd violence. There is no legitimation (sic) in other words it’s just like a mad man with a knife who has psychiatric problems knifing a priest on the doorstep, there is very little difference.” 

JH: You do take steps to protect your property, for instance. people can’t just walk in and steal what ever they want..............But there are one or two synagogues, for instance, who take the opposite view, and who have armed, well, soldiers standing outside their premises and standing outside the building. 

AI: I think synagogues are in a very particular position because they’re in the front line in the Middle East, incidentally, so are Catholic churches in Iraq and Syria, 

JH: But in a way everybody’s in the front line.. 

AI: Well exactly and that’s the point. Look, a priest was killed yesterday in an appalling tragedy, which has deeply shocked us all, but 235 people have been killed in ISIS-related attacks in France in the last couple of years. You know, a priest dying is an appalling tragedy because of what he represents and of course because it’s a human life just like all those other human lives, but we have to weep and mourn for all those lives equally.”

There are so many other disparities between the way the BBC treats Israel and the way the BBC treats everywhere else. There is little interest in, let alone outrage at the knifings and car-rammings against civilians if they take place in Israel. Yet Israel’s military response, after months and years of provocation is universally condemned.   
Well, it would be, as the BBC doesn’t report anything - as they say - ‘till Israel strikes back’.

The BBC obviously detests Israel. They condemn Israel for protecting its civilians, they overlook the psychopathic behaviour of Hamas and the pathological dishonesty of Mahmoud Abbas, and then, while manipulating public opinion and deliberately whipping up indignation on behalf of the Palestinians, (which amounts to a form of radicalisation) they claim they ‘don’t understand’ how people are radicalised.

These are the words of Matti Friedman from 2014. (H/T UK Media Watch)

The lasting importance of this summer’s war, I believe, doesn’t lie in the war itself. It lies instead in the way the war has been described and responded to abroad, and the way this has laid bare the resurgence of an old, twisted pattern of thought and its migration from the margins to the mainstream of Western discourse—namely, a hostile obsession with Jews.  
The key to understanding this resurgence is not to be found among jihadi webmasters, basement conspiracy theorists, or radical activists. It is instead to be found first among the educated and respectable people who populate the international news industry; decent people, many of them, and some of them my former colleagues. 

While global mania about Israeli actions has come to be taken for granted, it is actually the result of decisions made by individual human beings in positions of responsibility—in this case, journalists and editors. The world is not responding to events in this country, but rather to the description of these events by news organizations. The key to understanding the strange nature of the response is thus to be found in the practice of journalism, and specifically in a severe malfunction that is occurring in that profession—my profession—here in Israel.
A reporter working in the international press corps here understands quickly that what is important in the Israel-Palestinian story is Israel. If you follow mainstream coverage, you will find nearly no real analysis of Palestinian society or ideologies, profiles of armed Palestinian groups, or investigation of Palestinian government. Palestinians are not taken seriously as agents of their own fate. The West has decided that Palestinians should want a state alongside Israel, so that opinion is attributed to them as fact, though anyone who has spent time with actual Palestinians understands that things are (understandably, in my opinion) more complicated. Who they are and what they want is not important: The story mandates that they exist as passive victims of the party that matters.
The Hamas charter, for example, calls not just for Israel’s destruction but for the murder of Jews and blames Jews for engineering the French and Russian revolutions and both world wars; the charter was never mentioned in print when I was at the AP, though Hamas won a Palestinian national election and had become one of the region’s most important players.

A knowledgeable observer of the Middle East cannot avoid the impression that the region is a volcano and that the lava is radical Islam, an ideology whose various incarnations are now shaping this part of the world. Israel is a tiny village on the slopes of the volcano. Hamas is the local representative of radical Islam and is openly dedicated to the eradication of the Jewish minority enclave in Israel, just as Hezbollah is the dominant representative of radical Islam in Lebanon, the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and so forth. 

Hamas is not, as it freely admits, party to the effort to create a Palestinian state alongside Israel. It has different goals about which it is quite open and that are similar to those of the groups listed above. Since the mid 1990s, more than any other player, Hamas has destroyed the Israeli left, swayed moderate Israelis against territorial withdrawals, and buried the chances of a two-state compromise. That’s one accurate way to frame the story.

I apologise for stealing such a large chunk of Matti Friedman’s prose, but I think it helps me make my point.

The Today Programme turned to the French philosopher and public intellectual Bernard Henri-Levy who told John Humphrys that populations under attack from terrorism need to develop a kind of "sixth sense" of danger, accepting that an attack could happen at any time. 
Henry-Levy says that terrorists are "psychopaths and fascists" and so-called Islamic State "a monstrous magnet for the worst" He said the west should consider taking the precautions that Israel takes, as Israel deals with this kind of thing all the time. 

I could tell, with my ‘sixth sense’ that listeners would be thinking:  “But Israel deserves terrorism - why if we’d been subjected to an illegal occupation, illegal settlements, oppression and colonisation of “our  land’ by Jews, why we, too might believe we had no option but to don suicide vests.” 
Cherie Blair said something of the sort once. 

French politicians have been criticised for saying that “we” must get used to terrorism. It’s now a fact of life, but we mustn’t alter our behaviour or change our way of life. That’s what the terrorists want”
How do they know that’s what the terrorists want? I would think the exact opposite is the case. The Islamists are quite clear. They want Islam, exclusively, world-wide, which they will achieve all the more swiftly if we stubbornly insist on the freedom to remain sitting ducks. 

Yes, they might want us to be afraid, and it might irritate them if we pretend we’re not, but changing our way of life is what they absolutely do not want. They certainly wouldn’t want us to emulate the Israelis, protecting our citizens, as Israel has been forced to do, by taking the kind of  precautions that impinge upon the freedoms we used to enjoy. Surveillance, monitoring, profiling, checkpoints, searches, all the things that thwart psychopaths and mad murderous Muslims. 

No-one, most of all the Israelis really want (or wanted) to have to go down that road, but they had to and so might we.

Monday 25 July 2016

Why only the Palestinians?

I wrote about  this the other day, but it was buried deep within a post and maybe you missed it, so I’m mentioning it again because it still bothers me.

I’m referring to the debate in the HoL that took place on 21st July. The topic was one our politicians return to again and again. “Palestine: Children”  

This obsession with “Palestine” and Gaza must come from somewhere.  What’s it all about? Why? Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world? Of all the children whose lives have been blighted by war, famine, religious fanaticism, parental cruelty and neglect, why especially the Palestinians?

Maybe one shouldn’t take it seriously. After all, many of the speakers seemed confused. One could forgive the geriatric ones for that faltering delivery, that mispronunciations and the dubious statistics. One might dismiss it all as the witterings of the aged and infirm. The poor dears. 

Let’s take Lord Warner, who moved this motion. 
“That this House takes note of the conditions in which Palestinian children are living and the impact on their health and wellbeing.”
I’m not totally au fait with HoL tradition, so there may be a point to this debate, but it eludes me. What’s it for? A group virtue-signal? 

Lord Warner introduced the motion:
“My Lords, I am pleased to have this opportunity to put on the parliamentary record the appalling conditions under which Palestine’s children are living in both the blockaded collective prison of Gaza and the 50-year military occupation in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.”

Okay, he wants to put something on record. Does he think that Palestine is now a State?  Many of these old duffers have been enticed by Caabu. Invited to tour the region, where they’re given the full works. They come back full of indignation, ready, willing and able to spread the word. “I’ve just come back from ‘Palestine’ and I’ve seen it for myself” they announce.
So it’s not very surprising that they regurgitate streams of undiluted Palestinian propaganda. What is surprising is that they are willing to do so without realising that there is another side of the story, or even considering that there could be one. 

They’ve got it into their heads that Israel is populated by bloodthirsty fanatics that thrive on torturing innocent Palestinian children. They must already be receptive to that, otherwise they’d surely question some of it. Wouldn't they?

Lord Warner’s lengthy opening statement was nothing more than a monotonous list of dubious, out of context cherry-picked statistics taken straight from Israel-bashing organisations like UNWRA and other pro-Palestinian groups.
He wound up his speech with this:
“The Minister may also wish to clarify at some stage why the House of Lords Library briefing for this debate was withdrawn after being put up on its website for about 24 hours. I beg to move.”

He’s not the only one who’s puzzled by the mysterious disappearance from the library of this briefing. Who dunnit? Mrs White, with the dagger?

NGO Monitor is puzzled too. They say it’s available on unofficial websites, but I wasn’t able to find it.
 I don’t know who the authors are, but NGO Monitor says:
“The authors present a narrative of Palestinian suffering as a result of Israeli security policies, without examining the means available to protect Israeli civilians from Gaza-launched rocket barrages and terrorist attacks. In addition, the role that Palestinian violence, corruption, and mismanagement contribute to the wellbeing of Palestinian children is ignored, as is the widespread exploitation of children (child soldiers) for attacks against Israelis. 
This narrative reflects an ongoing, multiyear political campaign in which political advocacy NGOs (non-governmental organizations) are central participants. The objective is to demonize Israel by alleging abuse of Palestinian children.”
On that particular day the Israel-bashing speaker with the most notorious history of anti-Israel activism was Baroness Tonge. Her speech was singled out by the Jewish press because of her outrageous allegation that Israel was a major cause of Islamic extremism and Daesh. 

However, it was a typical Tonge rant, and, almost mild in comparison to some of the antisemitic themes doing the rounds in academia

In fact her rant wasn’t much more pernicious than the rants of some of the others and at least the four speakers I highlighted in my previous post spoke in Israel’s defence, which  is not always the case in these Israel-bashing debates. 

The trouble is, these debates are not interactive or reactive. They’re just a series of statements read out, one after the other. Responses are not required, concessions are not expected. Lord Polak could just as well have been talking to himself. Everyone just carries on as before, happy that they’ve done their bit and can retire, knowing that their virtue has been well and truly signalled.

Out of the shadows

Norman Smith got very excited today. He couldn’t fathom why Sarah Champion MP (Lab) has written to Jeremy Corbyn to unresign and Jeremy Corbyn has accepted her unresignation. She’s to get her old job back on the front benches. What was her role again? The MP for Rotherham was shadow home office minister for preventing abuse and domestic violence.” 

That appearance on the Victoria Derbyshire show must have whetted her appetite for more of the adulation to which she has become accustomed. 

Norman Smith thought her mysterious capitulation would herald an avalanche of returning MPs, as in the domino effect. Someone had compared the Labour Party’s resignees to the striking miners. Norman Smith thought the miners’ strike had lasted about a year, whereas Ms Champion’s spell in the sidelines has only lasted for about two weeks. 

Wot no Flying pickets? Now that Corbyn looks set to stay indefinitely, deciding to ‘blackleg’  looks like a good career move. Get in quick so no-one else can nick your seat.. 
Sarah Champion is campaigning about raising awareness of bullying and online abuse, which is all very well. But it’s a bit like protecting synagogues rather than addressing antisemitism. Shouldn’t Ms. Champion prioritise raising her male constituents’ awareness of the modern, British, enlightened attitude to girls and women?

Talking of child sexual abuse, the BBC is to dramatise the Rochdale abuse scandal.

Filming begins this week on Three Girls, a new three-part BBC One drama based on the true stories of victims of grooming and sexual abuse in Rochdale.The drama will look at the way in which these girls were groomed, how they were ignored by the authorities directly responsible for protecting them, and how they eventually made themselves heard. A BBC Studios production in association with Studio Lambert, Three Girls is made by the team behind the multi-award winning BBC drama Five Daughters. 
Maxine Peake (Silk, A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and Lesley Sharp (Scott And Bailey, Capital) will play two women who were instrumental in getting the girls’ voices heard.Other cast includes Paul Kaye, Lisa Riley and Jill Halfpenny as parents of the girls, alongside Ace Bhatti as Nazir Afzal, former Chief Crown Prosecutor for the North West. They will be joined by Olivia Hill, Ria Zmitrowicz, Molly Windsor, Simon Nagra, Qas Hamid and Wasim Zakir. 
Written by Nicole Taylor (The C Word), Three Girls is produced by the same team as the acclaimed and award-winning BBC Drama, Five Daughters including director Philippa Lowthorpe (Call The Midwife, Jamaica Inn), producer Simon Lewis and Executive Producer Susan Hogg.

I can’t imagine hard leftie, pro-Palestinian Maxine playing anything other than a passionate Social Justice Warrior. It will probably be all about the struggle against those heartless authorities who wouldn’t listen. Not about the grooming gangs with a warped attitude to females.

Sunday 24 July 2016

Breaking news

Another day, another horror. Sky and ITV (among others) have been reporting a machete attack in Reutlingen, Germany for the past half hour or so. (There's nothing on the BBC website yet). 

It appears that a woman has been killed and two injured. A suspect has been arrested:

Sky is reporting that the attacker is a Syrian refugee:

Saturday 23 July 2016

Complaining to the BBC can work (given persistance and a blue moon)

JO'B goes a-Trumping

On another subject...

Left-wing 'shock jock' James O'Brien, in his hip Newsnight suit and tie, nonchalantly went out of his way last night to humiliate his "Trump-ette" guest by flinging racist ex-KKK screamer David Duke's 'kind words' for The Donald's policy platform in her face, again and again and again and again. 

Nothing she said about how irrelevant that kind of question was stopped him. He just kept at it, and (down the line from the States) she couldn't quite cope with it. 

He then moved back to his other (anti-Trump) guest (who he behaved respectfully towards throughout), before saying that he could guess what the "Trump-ette" would say next and then stopping the interview there before letting her back in - the camera focusing on her as he did so. 

Of course it was very rude and, obviously, meant to be. This was Newsnight and JO'B signalling their collective virtue. 

'Impartial' it certainly wasn't, but, inevitably, JO'B's many, many (left-wing) admirers on Twitter went into absolute ecstasy about how great their man is, and how he should be on Newsnight much more often, and how he gave that "Trump-ette" what was coming to her. It was like one huge (left-wing) orgasm. 

Non-fans of James (like me and Sue) are, therefore, going to remain disappointed. We're not going to see the back of JO'B on Newsnight any time soon. He's becoming a fixture. We're stuck with him. 

Can you tell me how to get/How to get to Brexit Street?

Talking of Brexit...

There was another Brexit Street report from Emma Jane Kirby on last night's PM.

Put briefly (for those who haven't heard any of it yet), Brexit Street is a new, long-term Radio 4 feature intended to monitor - over weeks and months (and possibly years) - the effects of the Brexit vote on a single street in a town near Middlesbrough...

...a town the programme explicitly intends us to see as representative, even though 75-80% of every one of the streets residents featured so far on PM isn't in paid employment (and, thus, are far from representative of either this particular town, or any UK town, or Leave voters as a whole).

Emma Jane's first two reports crescendoed towards talk of (and complaints about) racism in the wake of the Leave vote, and last night's (third) report focused on the targets of some of that racism (including racist attacks apparently coming from the white residents of Brexit Street)

We heard from the many asylum seekers grouped (often in large numbers) in at least three houses on Brexit Street. 

(Again the question arises: How representative a street is this?)  

Some were very hard to listen to (being upsetting).

We also heard of the "complete culture shock" suffered by some of them, 

Iranian asylum seeker, carpenter 'Jabad', "with a bewildered glance at his friend Mustapha",  told Emma Jane: "Everywhere you go in this place you can smell dope...In the afternoon everyone seems to have a bottle with them. Whether it's wine or beer everyone's always got something to make them high". 

Jalad also complained that few on the street work and that they exploit benefits - something listeners to the previous Brexit Street reports (on mainly Leave voters) might suspect is true. 

Unlike people like him, who are "looking to the future," the 'natives' are "living for today", said 'Jabad'.

Mustapha is unhappy at not having his wife and children.


However well-meaning her reports, Emma Jane Kirby's Brexit Street series is (so far) turning out to be a complete travesty of 'BBC impartiality'. 

In no way is this street representative of the Leave-voting parts of the UK. It's an extreme example (in more ways than one).

And it's implying that some Leave voters on the street are attacking distressed asylum seekers living next door to them. 

And it's also pushing the 'the EU has poured funds into this region, don't you realise that?' meme too (for good measure).

And it's allowing 'Newsnight audience types' to feel good about themselves and sneer at low IQ Leave-voting racists (on Twitter).

I don't doubt (as it's a balmy Saturday evening and I'm "high" on wine [sorry 'Jabad'] and probably feeling overly charitable) that Emma Jane believes that she's reporting back from a representative Leave-voting street...

...which, alas, only goes to show how madly, wildly, out-of-touch and BBC-minded she is.

'Brexit Britain: One Month In'

Tonight's Newsnight Special - Brexit Britain: One Month In came after a day-long Newsnight event. 

We got an initial glimpse of that debate courtesy of a brief introductory selection of views from the famous, semi-famous and the I-don't-know-if-they-are-famous-or-nots, beginning with Owen Jones and Billy Bragg.

It had a bit of a pro-Remain bias in that two were pro-Leave (including Suzanne Evans), four pro-Remain and one was hard to judge (though I suspect from what she said pro-Remain). 

Then, however, came a well-balanced and interesting report on the Leave and Remain campaigns from Nick Watt. I've no complaints about that. 

The serious bias kicked in, however, with the frankly bizarre decision to have the first main discussion between two Remainers (Nick Clegg and Stella Creasy) and just one Brexiter (Kwasi Kwarteng). 

What on earth possessed Newsnight to imbalance it like that? 

Though not quite as bad as I expected, Evan did give Kwasi Kwarteng a harder time than either Nick Clegg and Stella Creasey (despite them being in the majority)...

...and he also did that thing (to Kwasi) which, alas, he often does these days [see 24:30] of restating a talking point in contradiction to his guest and then moving straight on without giving that guest a chance to reply.

And then came the audience! I'll let Evan spell that issue out in his own words:
I do just want to go to the audience here. We've got a lovely audience in the room. They've been at events through the day. Now I have to tell you, it was a first-some-first-served buy-a-ticket event so this is not like your usual BBC audience which was been constructed to be in some way balanced - and it is, we know from the rest of the day, overwhelmingly Remain. This is a West London venue. So it's a Remain...[laughter]"
Well, fancy that! A heavily pro-Remain audience for this day-long Newsnight event. Who'd have thought it? (sarcasm alert!). 

Evan went on to say that the audience had been displaying a lot of "Remainer grief" throughout the day and when he asked them if they wanted a second referendum about 40% of them (by his estimation) said 'Yes'. 

Couldn't Newsnight have staged its 'big Brexit event' somewhere more representative? (I'd have recommended Morecambe, which followed the actual result of the referendum very closely).

Oddly, two audience members were chosen to speak and one was pro-Remain (and had signed that dodgy '4 million' petition demanding another refendum) while the other was pro-Leave.

That's good, but (and here's the odd bit) the pro-Leave guy was, as Evan admitted, "slightly untypical" in being (a) open to a second referendum and (b) positively in favour of another referendum to endorse whatever Brexit deal is sorted out. 

Katie Razzall's "divided nation" report at least got us away from the views of West London. She was up my way (though she didn't drop by to see me). 

Her piece was fairly balanced in terms of featuring Leave and Remain voters across a swathe of the North West from Manchester to Blackpool (via the gorgeous Ribble Valley and lovely Lytham St Annes. 

It was curious though how often the Leave supporters were cast as being and asked about being "embarrassed" about how they'd voted.

And it was even more curious how favourably Theresa May was viewed, even among the Leave voters (including the chap in the soup kitchen in Blackpool).  

The second main discussion was hosted by Kirsty Wark.

Unlike the first discussion, it was balanced, guest-wise, between a Leave supporter (Dan Hannan) and a Remain supporter (Kirsty's former Newsnight colleague Paul Mason). 

Kirsty, however, can't be said to have been unbiased. She was even worse than Evan in 'taking the fight' mainly to the Leave supporter - i.e. Dan Hannan. 

That wasn't quite 'fair', especially as the audience was on Paul Mason's side. (The biggest clap of all came when Paul condemned "racist populism" after mentioning UKIP). 

And Kirsty did that thing she does and asked Paul Mason a helpful question of the kind she didn't put to Dan Hannan [see at 45:36]:
But Paul, when I talked about 'nature abhors a vacuum', you know, our revised growth figures - for this year 1.7, for next year 1.3 - you know, there may be an economic downturn which actually harms the very people who voted to leave.
She also asked about a second referendum.

With Evan promising to keep on scrutinising Brexit issue and a montage of clips of careers ended by the vote, that was that.

Conclusion? It could have been worse, but it was still strongly Remain-biased.

Update: I see that Dan Hannan didn't find his encounter with that Newsnight audience very fruitful:

'PM' on Munich

Here's a set of short transcriptions showing how tonight's PM framed the latest on the Munich massacre for BBC Radio 4 listeners. 

The headline was:
The man who killed 10 people at a shopping centre in Munich was German-born with no apparent link to terrorism. Most of his victims were foreign-born teenagers.
The newsreader said:
Police in Munich say the teenage gunman who shot dead 9 people last night had researched previous mass killings. The attacker, named by local media as David Ali Sonboly, had no links to Islamist extremism. 27 people were injured when he began shooting in and around a shopping centre. 10 are in critical condition. Investigators are checking whether he hacked a Facebook page to lure his victims to McDonald's with the promise of a free meal. Bethany Bell sent this report from Munich.
Bethany Bell's report said:
The 18 year old student appears to have been obsessed with mass shootings. German police say they found no links to international terrorism but when they searched his flat they found books and papers about mass killings. They are investigating parallels with the far-right Norwegian killer Anders Breivik. The gunman had a Glock pistol and was carrying more than 300 bullets. Several of those he killed were teenagers. A 13 year old boy is in a critical condition. Relatives and friends have been visiting the site in bitter distress. 

What's in a name?

24 mins ago, BBC Breaking News (sic) finally broke the news of the name of the suspect in the Munich killings, several hours after most other UK media outlets. 

The (dead) suspect is apparently called "David Sonboly". 

Everyone else has been reporting his name as "Ali David Sonboly".

So why has the BBC missed out the Muslim-sounding part of his name here? 


There could, of course, be a good reason for them doing so: 

Maybe everyone else has been misreporting his name and he isn't called "Ali". 

Maybe he was always known to his friends and family as "David Sonboly" rather than "Ali Sonboly", 

Or maybe the BBC is simply censoring the Muslim-sounding part of his name.

It's getting ever more confusing.

But it's a fact nonetheless that I've not seen any other major (or minor) media outlet other than the BBC just call him "David" so far. And that calls for an explanation.

And if they are doing it as an act of deliberate censorship then action needs taking again them.


Sky News - one of the few major UK media outlets, alongside the BBC, that hadn't reported the name earlier, did eventually report it - and did so an-hour-and-a-half before the BBC:

They gave the gunman's first names in a different order (though still including "Ali"). The plot thickens.


The BBC's main article, incidentally. has now been updated and it too calls the killer "David Sonboly".

Its unique primary focus on the Breivik angle also continues.

UPDATEHmm. I see Raheem Kassam at Breitbart London is now making the same point

The BBC has unilaterally chosen not to report the Munich attacker’s full name, in what appears to be an attempt to scrub any Muslim or Islamic heritage link to its coverage of the incident.
The Breitbart headline overstates things somewhat. Raheem himself notes that some BBC correspondents are calling the killer "David Ali Sonboly" (he heard it on the News Channel at 6:32pm, and I heard it on PM on Radio 4 tonight), so it's not being universally applied. But, that said, he was described simply as "David Sonboly" on BBC One's main evening news bulletin (though later described by Gavin Hewitt as "David Ali Sonboly") and the BBC website is still being inflexible on the matter, so some official 'guidance' from senior BBC managers must have gone out.

FURTHER UPDATE: News Sniffer shows that 4 hours after reporting the name as "David Sonboly" the BBC amended its website report: What had previously read,
His name has not been officially released but he is being named locally as David Sonboly. 
was changed to:
His name has not been officially released but he is being named locally as David Ali Sonboly.
He has also been referred to as Ali David Sonboly, or David S.

A confusing picture

The main headline on the BBC News website at the moment is: 

The BBC is quoting a comment from the German police there. 

The article continues:

We read in the 7th paragraph that:

..and in the 16th paragraph that:

(We don't, however, read that he apparently shouted that at people calling him a "****ing Turk" and a "****ing foreigner").

In the next paragraph we read a witness claim that:

Readers who haven't been following the news might well have been assuming by this stage that the killer was another Breivik.

In the 20th paragraph, however, we learn something that suggests he might not be a far-right German white supremacist after all: 

...and most other news sites have been reporting for some time now that the gunman's name is Ali David Sonboly.

The motives of the German police for making the Breivik connection here will doubtless come under close scrutiny at time passes. The motives of the BBC for seizing on such a comment and making it their main online headline are also open to question, especially as the connection appears to be tenuous (the date? the apparent interest in guns?).

Friday 22 July 2016

Raising awareness

When the BBC doesn’t report a story that other news outlets do, it forces ‘bias bloggers’ into negative territory. Why are you commenting on non-BBC stuff which is none of your business? people might ask. "It’s technically called ‘bias  by omission’ "  one might reply.

I don’t think the BBC reported anything about the latest insult that the controversial NUS president Malia Bouattia handed out to Jewish students the other day. She had the casting vote on whether Jewish Students should be allowed to select their own rep. on a racism committee. 

Needless to say she voted no.

"Chilling environment"

I don’t think it would interest the BBC that Michael Gove made an oblique reference to this from the back benches, so I haven’t bothered to tackle the BBC’s unresponsive search engine to find out.  
“Speaking at the second reading of the Higher Education and Research bill in parliament, the former education secretary said “at the moment there are voices and individuals within the NUS who have not upheld the best traditions of academic freedom and who have created in some respects a chilling environment and a cold home for students, particularly those who are Jewish.”

You can read the transcript of the whole speech here.

I caught a glimpse of Sarah Champion speaking on the Victoria Derbyshire show yesterday  about online bullying and sexual grooming. She has set up a campaign especially to “raise awareness” of it. 
I have no first-hand knowledge of the actions Sarah Champion MP actually took when she discovered that sexual exploitation had been going on under her nose - not online, but in real, non virtual life. So if I assume she’s ‘deflecting’ by initiating these other campaigns I might be all wrong, and I’d be quite pleased to be, but it seems odd that under the circumstances, when she is not obsessing about Palestinians, she is warning children about online sexual grooming. 

We’ve blogged about this before, but here she is in July 2014 sitting at a table amongst a committee of male Muslim councillors, obsessing about Israel. (The YouTube version has attracted a number of strongly-worded comments) 

A month later this excoriating report came out.  
Although the article says the council commissioned the report on Rotherham’s grooming gangs, it also says:
“It lays out how Rotherham Council and the police knew about the level of child sexual exploitation in the town, but didn't do anything about it.
They either didn't believe what they were being told, played it down, or were too nervous to act. The failures, the report says, are blatant.
The report estimates 1,400 children were sexually exploited over 16 years, with one young person telling the report's author that gang rape was a usual part of growing up in Rotherham.”

So I don’t know whether I am being harsh in criticising Ms Champion, or for criticising the BBC for letting her publicise her campaign on TV. I just thought it was worth raising awareness of it

Sarah Champion had quite a lot to say about child cruelty when she was shadow minister (Home Office) The children in question weren’t Rotherhamians, but Palestinians. 
She brought this debate to Westminster Hall in Jan 2016. It was about child prisoners in the occupied Palestinian territories. The usual Palestinian obsessed MPs were there including the late Jo Cox.

Also present, and with plenty to say, was one Nassm (Naz) Shah, the young lady who didn’t know that antisemitism was racism. However, she did seem to know quite a bit about Mahmoud Abbas, for example that he was promoting peace and not encouraging terror. She said Palestinian children were being blindfolded and tortured - and that Israel hasn’t provided any evidence of a stone throwing incident causing death. Perhaps she expected Israel to prove it to her, personally, before believing it?

Palestine: Children

This topic is extremely popular with British MPs. Another debate on the subject took place the other day, in the Lords this time. (Yesterday to be precise) They really love this topic. “Palestine: Children.”

The usual Palestine obsessed Lords were there, including Baroness Tonge. One noble Lord after another produced context-free anecdotes of suffering and depravation in the occupied territories, having been entertained by CAABU in the customary manner, until all of a sudden no less than four, yes four, noble Lords spoke up for Israel.

If that’s the kind of thing that interests you, do click and have a read. 

Interestingly, several of the speakers spoke admiringly of the Palestine Youth Orchestra, which is presently touring the UK.
I don’t suppose there will be any mobs out on the streets outside their concert venues with leaflets or inside with banners and loud-hailers disrupting their concerts. 

Apologies and Reinstatements

I suspect the Chakrabarti inquiry satisfied the Labour Party that the allegations about antisemitism had been dealt with. They’re reinstating their discredited  councillors and MPs as fast as they can. Gerry Downing, Naz Shah, Jackie Walker, Terry Kelly - forgive me if I have left anyone out.
One Labour member, however, the leader of Brent Council, has offended his co-religionists by apologising to the Jewish community. 
Of course, there are Jewish residents amongst his constituency, so there’s an element of expediency in his apology, but it looks pretty fulsome as apologies go, (as did Naz Shah’s)

Muhammed Butt

What is Zionism? 

I wouldn’t normally link to this website, but the bitesize definition of ‘Zionism’ at the foot of this article is almost amusing in the child-like imbecility of its one-sided, counter-factual explanation.
Israel was created in 1948 after Zionist settlers colonized Palestinian land and expelled around 750,000 people though a campaign of ethnic cleansing. 
In 1967 Israel occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip during the 6-day war with Egypt, bringing all of historical Palestine under its rule. 
Israel has launched brutal wars on Lebanon twice – in 1982 and 2006; it continues to occupy the West Bank and Jerusalem, implementing harsh security measures against its Palestinian residents; it keeps Gaza under military and economic siege; and within Israel itself, Palestinians live as second-class citizens.
 I wonder if the BBC has taken that into consideration, because their mini definitions aren't much more informative, (or impartial) than the 5Pillarz version.  
After the Holocaust, Jewish people were allocated land to settle on. 
They considered the region of Israel their homeland. However, many of the Arab people who were already living in Palestine and the surrounding areas found it unfair. 
Typically those who identify as part of the Zionist movement believe in the protection and development of Israel as the Jewish nation. 
Not all Jewish people agree with Zionism.
 Not all non-Jewish people agree with Zionism, either. Malia Bouattia and assorted Corbynistas use "Zio" as a term of abuse.