Tuesday, 3 March 2015

The Spy Who Came In from Al-Qaeda

At the risk of giving unwavering types another fit of apoplexy, I very much agree with this comment at Biased BBC:

Some in the BBC are doing the right thing. This interview with a jihadi turned British agent is excellent.
It seems a genuine account. Without any self serving ‘muslims as victim’.
Well done the Beebers behind this. I hope it doesn’t blight their career prospects. And well done the brave spy who followed his conscience.

The Spy Who Came In from Al-Qaeda was superb. The jihadi who came in from the cold was very brave. And the reporter behind it, oddly enough, was former Newsnight reporter Peter Marshall. 

(Peter Marshall's career has already been blighted though. Ian Katz unceremoniously dumped him from Newsnight a year or so ago). 

The BBC, censorship and a pair of 'p' words

The reporter most credited with exposing the street grooming scandal and the complicity of the authorities in covering it up, Andrew Norfolk of the Times, gives a characteristically full account of today's report into the "industrial scale" paedophile abuse going on in Oxford, mainly by 'Asian' (i.e. Pakistani) gangs (though here including North Africans, suggesting that being 'Asian' may not be the real connecting factor between the perps). 

Thanks to his report today I heard something I didn't hear on the BBC News at Six (because it simply wasn't reported) and didn't see in any of the BBC's online reports (because they haven't, as far as I can see, reported it) - namely one of the report's key recommendations:
The report does not suggest that concerns about “racial sensitivities” played any role in agencies’ failure to tackle the abuse, but calls for a national debate about the disproportionate number of men of Pakistani heritage involved in group sex-grooming offences across England.
“As has been found wherever this type of organised group abuse has been uncovered, the perpetrators have been mainly from an Asian heritage, with some from Africa or south-east European countries, and with a mainly Muslim culture.
“The association of group-based child sexual exploitation with mainly Pakistani heritage [men] is undeniable and prevention will need both national understanding. communication and debate, but also work with faith groups at a local level.”
Why didn't the BBC's News at Six mention that call? Reporter Alison Holt merely reported the bit about “racial sensitivities” not playing any role in agencies’ failure to tackle the abuse in Oxford - a telling piece of (self) censorship on her part.

I try to be fair-minded about the BBC but censoring such a key recommendation of this report, doubtless for reasons of 'cultural sensitivity', really is part of the problem. Meaning that the BBC is part of the problem.

P.S. Why is is that the BBC almost invariably avoids the word 'paedophile' in connection with its reporting of such stories when they involve Muslims?

Celebrities, Scots, Europeans, priests, policemen, doctors, etc, can be 'paedophiles', but members of 'Asian' grooming gangs, raping and abusing twelve-year-old girls, almost always (and I've found just one counter-example) turn out to be merely 'members of grooming gangs', never 'paedophiles'.

That's weird, isn't it? 

And if you doubt that then please do a search on the BBC website using the term 'paedophile'. 

Extreme 'cultural sensitivity' seems to be at play again, once more grossly distorting proper reporting by the BBC.

Of Hacking, Hypocrisy and Weasels

The BBC (and the Guardian) pursued the Murdoch empire relentlessly over phone hacking. 

You'll doubtless recall the countless lead stories on the website, the innumerable 'Newsnight' reports, the endless updates on 'PM', all those Robert Peston blogposts, etc, etc, etc. Pretty much every twist and turn in the story received massive attention from the BBC. 

Murdoch's Sky is, of course, the BBC's major rival, so they were never going to be a disinterested party. The outrageous thing was how little effort they made to hide the fact. 

Of course I could be wrong, and if the BBC reports the growing Mirror Group hacking scandal with the same obsessive focus as it reporting the 'News of  the World' scandal then I'll have to eat my words, won't I? The BBC will have proved itself to be disinterested as the Mirror Group isn't a major rival of the BBC in the way that News Corp is. We will have to see.

At the high court today the Mirror Group stands accused of phone hacking "on an industrial scale" - a scale dwarfing that at the Murdoch newspapers. 

According to the FT,
David Sherborne, barrister for the victims, told the High Court that the trial would look at the “size and scale of unlawful activity” at Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), where he claimed phone hacking was carried out by “scores of journalists”.
He told the High Court that the “vast” amount of phone hacking carried out throughout the three national newspapers “makes News of the World look like a cottage industry and a small one at that”.
How is the BBC reporting this astonishing claim? Well, it is reporting it. It's seventh in its running order on the news website. And the BBC News at Six on BBC One reported it as its next-to-last story, 24 minutes in, just before the 'weasel riding on the flying woodpecker' story - and after two 'Jihadi Mohammed' stories, including more propaganda from CAGE. 

Hmm. Yes it's been a day full of of big, harrowing domestic stories - the report into "industrial scale" abuse by grooming gangs in Oxford, the report into the maternity unit scandal at Furness Hospital - but had this been a damaging Murdoch empire story then I suspect it would have featured a good deal more prominently, and not been merely the warm-up-story to the weasel riding on the woodpecker's back. 

Plus, David Sillitoe's report for BBC One didn't even mention David Sherborne's most striking claim: that phone hacking at Mirror Group Newspapers made 'News of the World' "look like a cottage industry and a small one at that". 

The same cannot be said for the Guardian, which makes that very point its main angle and features thestory far more prominently than the BBC. The Mirror Group is much more of a rival for the Guardian than it is for the BBC, of course.

Everyone seems to be behaving according to their own interests here, don't they? 

Incidentally, another of the Guardian and the BBC's go-to-men during the whole course of the 'NOTW' scandal, Labour MP and prolific tweeter Tom Watson, is unusually quiet on Twitter today. He's tweeted nothing about hacking at Mirror Group. [And neither for that matter has Robert Peston]. It's most unlike him not to tweet about hacking. What's gotten into him? Just what is it about the Labour-supporting Mirror Group that isn't exciting his righteous anger as much? 

Is the smell of hypocrisy hanging heavy in the air today?

This is the voice of the Mysterons. We know that you can hear us, Earthmen.

It's hard to escape the feeling that 'the voice of the BBC', veteran BBC reporter Hugh Sykes, is giving voice to the BBC's inner thoughts yet again in re-tweet after re-tweet today:

I think we can tell where Hugh's coming from. (We can always tell where Hugh's coming from).

The Voice of the BBC speaks. Off the record of course, you understand. 


(h/t and h/t)

Monday, 2 March 2015

All You Need is Love

The closing words of tonight's Panorama were "Love at the heart of politics can only make for a better democracy". 

They were spoken, perhaps inevitably, by Fergal Keane.

There was sad music and hopeful music. And love. Lots of love. Plus Fergal cooing over a baby (belonging to a struggling single mum, naturally). And then more love.

The programme was the first episode in a four-part series called 'What Britain wants'. And what Britain wants, it seems, is love - a love that can come from family, from community, from social/political activism, from Islam.

The report came from the east end of London and, inevitably, touched on immigration. Immigration has brought "a real energy" to  the area, Fergal told us. But, sadly, there's always been intolerance. There were the blackshirts in the 1930s, and now there's tension between "Islamist hardliners" and "nationalist far-right groups". 

Looking on the bright side though, there's always political activism. Think of the anti-Iraq War protests, said Fergal. Look at 38 Degrees, putting love at the heart of politics.

And love can effect mainstream politics too, he said:
And there's hardly a more profound example of the power of love in a political campaign than this: a campaign that went to the heart of British ideas about love and family [the campaign for gay marriage]. Pria and Paula got married in Hornchurch, east of London. Until recently they were denied a right taken for granted by the rest of us. 
Then, to the strains of Arvo Part's Spiegel Im Spiegel (music much beloved of BBC documentary makers hoping to tug our hearts), Fergal continued:
In family, community, society, we've seen how love in its different dimensions can be a powerful unifying force. This young woman loves her religion and she loves Britain...
[Can you guess what's coming next?]
But there are some who feel alienated by the way she dresses and make assumptions about what she represents.
Cue Rabia, dressed from head to toe in a niqab, with only her eyes showing:
I'm born here, and I feel that I belong here. There's no reason why I wouldn't. But sometimes I do feel there's intolerance towards me and the way that I dress. It honestly is on face value [sic].
What shows Rabia as being different from certain other Muslim girls from her neck of the woods (the kind who might use their half-term holiday to fly off to help others behead non-Muslims) is that she invited a Holocaust survivor to speak at her local college. You shouldn't judge a book by its cover, Fergal was telling us - especially if that cover is a niqab. 

And Rabia returned later to call for tolerance. And Fergal talked again of the need for love - as potentially-lonely old folk danced and laughed with friends, and hearts were warmed.

Altogether now: Love is in the air. Everywhere I look around. Love is in the air. Every sight and every sound...

Mathematical BBC Presenters in Numbers

After last night's preachy pro-EU mockumentary, BBC Four's main feature tonight attempted to preach a sermon on another of the BBC's main themes.

The programme was called Climate Change in Numbers, and it's been trying very hard to teach all of you naughty, naughty, naughty sceptics that the world really is warming, that there's not actually been a pause, that the 'gaps' in the data aren't important, that humans really are responsible, etc, etc. 

Instead of talking about that sort of thing though, I'd like to shift the discussion onto the kind of subject matter that BBC types usually like hearing about...except when it concerns the BBC.

Three mathematicians presented the programme. Two were older men, the third was a young and attractive woman (with dyed orange hair). 

Now, with all the thousands of older women involved in the global warming project here in the UK you might have thought a women in, say, her fifties could have chosen, but this is the sexist/ageist BBC, so that would be a 'no' then. 

The numbers tell us with more than 97% accuracy, therefore, that the BBC is sexist/ageist. And the numbers never lie.

(Plus - and get the smelling salts out for the BBC's diversity executives - all the presenters were white too. Tut, tut). 

Emwazi day

The whole of BBC News today is about Mohammed Emwazi. Everyone who ever came into contact with him since the day he was born has been interviewed on the television. 

He was quiet and hard-working you know (apart from the occasional paroxism when walking past the house of a Jew.) 

The BBC is mystified. It's trying to get to the bottom of where and how the studious young man was radicalised. 

If anyone hasn’t already realised, this wild goose-chase has been designed to make us think that Emwazi was a patriotic British citizen until the fateful day he bumped into the fairy Jihadi-mother that preys on hitherto moderate Muslims.  With one wave of her magic wand they’re howling at the moon and running off to join the Islamic State Ministry of Beheading where they are free to hack away at the necks of infidels for ever and ever.

Here’s what commenter Lamia had to say about Justin Webb’s ill-researched interview with Gita Sahgal about Amnesty International. An unrepentant Steve Crawshaw, deputy director of Amnesty International follows.

You can hear today's R4 interviews with Gita Saghal and Amnesty UK's Director Steve Crawshaw here:
           http://www.bbc.co.uk/programme...(starts at 01.09.15)
Crawshaw sounds shifty and most of all embarrassed through the phone call. You can actually hear the forced smile on his face. He claims Amnesty were 'shocked and horrified' by what Cage said about Emwazi last week. Why shocked? It's what plenty of people, including Sahgal, have been warning them about for years. The information has been easily available.The presenter did a mediocre job, no better. For instance, he didn't bring up the matter of Amnesty International's head Claudio Cordone endorsing 'defensive jihad' in April 2010 during the Sahgal affair, a phrase uncritically repeated by Amnesty UK at the time. That would have nailed Crawshaw's attempts to pretend that Amnesty has always completely and utterly repudiated violence against civilians.Amnesty's policy shift to support Islamist terrorism - for that is what Cage's 'defensive jihad' is, let us make no bones about it - was actually noted by John Tusa on the BBC website in December 2010 in an article asking whether Amnesty was having a mid-life crisis. Tusa wrote:More problematically, in a letter responding to supporters of Ms Saghal, Amnesty UK used the phrase "defensive jihad" as if the organisation itself condoned any violence that might be committed under its terms. Even supporters of Amnesty think the phrase was incautiously used.Throughout this time, Amnesty UK has played a straight bat, explaining that a full internal inquiry revealed nothing that required significant change in the way it behaved or presented itself.
          Another institution investigating itself and finding it had no case to answer. Fancy that...And so, naturally, to the BBC itself: it has had several days and all weekend to get this important interview properly researched. In fact a decent researcher could do it quite comprehensively from scratch in about 10-20 minutes. Even better would be a researcher who actually has a decent memory and an interest in current affairs. I recalled and found that information in about 15 seconds. The BBC researcher and presenter couldn't even be arsed to search their own website.
Tusa's article was actually a decent one. At least he seemed to know his way around the subject and wasn't scared of asking awkward questions. The R4 presenter wasn't hostile to Sahgal but he seemed genuinely dumbstruck, and trying on air to get his head around what she was saying. He's a presenter on Radio 4 Today; he should have known about this years ago. It's his job.I am disgusted by Cage but then most of us here have been disgusted by Cage for the past decade. I'm not 'shocked' or 'horrified' by what they said about Emwazi, because it's what they were obviously going to say. 'Obviously' to anyone reasonably informed, that is.But I am really 'shocked and horrified' by how many people high up in our institutions are so uninformed and lacking in initiative. And I'm being really quite kind in assuming that that's all they are. As Gita Sahgal says in the interview of Amnesty, and this could be applied to many other organisations and institutions in our country: "I don't think Amnesty were naive. If only they were simply naive."I can only laugh with amazement when Radio 4 is cited as an excellent station. I find it pseudo-intellectual, ill-informed, and not very incisive at all. I could have conducted a more informed and penetrating interview with Steve Crawshaw, from memory, if I had been given about ten second's warning. The presenters on 'middlebrow' 5 Live are hardly amazing but they are far better at smelling bullshit, asking non-pc questions and demonstrating an awareness that most people are not 'BBC people', than the fumbling idiots on R4.

(emphasis mine.)

The 'A' word

It's the same old story...

The Times begins one of its top stories today like this:
Ten men have been charged as part of an investigation into child grooming and sexual exploitation in Rochdale.
The men, nine of whom are Asian, are accused of a series of serious sex offences against seven victims, aged as young as 13 at the time of the alleged offences, between 2005 and 2013.
ITV News begins its account of the same story like this:
Ten men have been charged as part of an ongoing investigation into child sexual exploitation in Rochdale.
The men, nine of whom are Asian, are accused of a catalogue of serious sex offences against seven victims, aged as young as 13 at the time of the alleged offences, between 2005 and 2013. 
Sky News begins its take like this:
Ten suspects - including nine Asian men - are accused of a number of sex exploitation offences between 2005 and 2013
Ten men have been charged as part of an investigation into child sexual exploitation in Rochdale.
The suspects were arrested after police launched an operation in May 2012 targeting older men accused of sexually exploiting teenage girls in the town and other areas of Greater Manchester.
Nine of the men are Asian. They are accused of serious sex offences against seven victims, at least one of whom was 13 at the time of the offences alleged to have taken place between 2005 and 2013. 
 The BBC, in contrast, avoids any mention of race in the main body of its report:
Ten men have been charged by police investigating child sexual exploitation in Rochdale, Greater Manchester.
The men are accused of a catalogue of serious sex offences against seven females aged between 13 and 23 at the time of the alleged abuse, police said.
They were held under Operation Doublet, investigating child sexual exploitation of teen girls by older men in Rochdale.
The offences are alleged to have happened between 2005 and 2013.
They include rape, conspiracy to rape, inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, sexual activity with a child and sexual assault.
'Complex investigation'
A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said the investigation was not connected to an ongoing inquiry into historical abuse at Knowl View School.
Assistant Chief Constable Ian Wiggett said: "This investigation is one of a number of cases which comes under the umbrella of Operation Doublet, which is the continued investigation into child sexual exploitation (CSE) that arose following the 2011 investigation into CSE in Rochdale.
"The operation is an investigation into CSE in Rochdale and across other areas of Greater Manchester.
"So far, 65 people have been arrested as part of Operation Doublet and the investigation continues.
"This is an extremely complex and challenging investigation which started in May 2012. The investigation will continue over the coming months and further arrests are anticipated."
The charges have been welcomed by Rochdale's Labour MP Simon Danczuk, who has called for more action to expose historical sex abuse crimes.
Mr Danczuk said: "There have been some who have urged me not to campaign on grooming, but I believe that this news shows what can be achieved by keeping up pressure and pushing for change."
Only the list of suspects at the bottom of the page gives the game away.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

The Great European Disaster Movie

I can't say I'll be watching it (though others will) but we're only a few minutes away now from the Storyville programme The Great European Disaster Movie on BBC Four. It has been widely trailed, and everyone from Nigel Farage to Dan Hannan has denounced it as a "pro-EU mockumentary". 

It is said to depict a terrible post-EU future with the far-right rampant, ISIS at the gates of Vienna, and Nigel Farage as prime minister of "Great England" busily deporting  immigrants en masse.

The programme has been written by Dateline London regular Annalisa Piras (their "voice of Italy"), whose pro-EU credentials are impeccable, and ex-Economist editor Bill Emmott, who's not as left-wing as Annalisa but just as pro-EU. 

The controversy has deepened because UKIP MP Mark Reckless has said that Bill Emmott told him that the BBC received EU money to finance the film - which, if true, is utterly outrageous. It's something the BBC denies though.

Even the BBC sometimes grasps that it has gone too far. And 11 days ago, it went into a five-star panic over its plan to show a more-or-less crazy pro-EU film tonight.
I assume that, spooked by the derisive reaction to its laughable pro-Labour drama A Casual Vacancy, its chiefs suddenly realised that they had another embarrassment on their hands. The planned transmission was abruptly cut by several minutes, losing a large chunk about the migration wave across the Mediterranean.
And this helped make space for a post-programme discussion, heavily loaded with critics of the European Union, including me, former Chancellor Norman Lamont and Ukip MP Mark Reckless. This is really a figleaf to cover its naked bias, as you will see when you watch it tonight.
I took part because it seemed silly to miss any opportunity to make the case for British independence.
I'm very happy for Bill Emmott to make as many films as he likes for the BBC about the wonders of the EU.
The trouble is, you cannot imagine the Corporation giving anyone the chance to make a film about how miserable it will be if Britain stays in, and how good it will be if we leave.
For this programme is blatant propaganda. And the only cause for joy is that it's not very good propaganda. A doomed plane is zig-zagging across a divided, blacked-out Europe, bearing Angus Deayton and a little girl who has supposedly been deported from a xenophobic, cruel England because her mother isn't paid enough.
This provides the excuse for a patronising series of lecturettes from Mr Deayton.
Everything about it is run through with the stupid, ill-informed prejudices of the BBC. Opponents of the EU are portrayed as 'anti-European' nostalgists and haters of abroad. Opponents of immigration are portrayed as dislikers of immigrants. Things which are the EU's own fault, such as its self-inflicted economic crisis, are not blamed on the EU. Wild fantasies are explored in which a British departure causes everyone else to leave – though why they would, if it is so wonderful, I cannot tell.
Baseless guff, about how the EU has brought peace, is repeated unquestioned. In fact, to the extent that it has had any influence on war and peace, the EU has brought war, most recently thanks to its aggressive push into Ukraine.
Winston Churchill's Zurich speech of 1946, which it partly quotes, is a plea for continental Europe to unite, with Britain, the USA and the USSR acting as outside sponsors. Oh, and the Berlin airport for which the fictitious plane is originally bound closed in 2008, as anyone who knows Europe would be aware.
It was ideologically and intellectually highly loaded. You have a number of prominent journalists, intellectuals… all very explicit and putting the case very clearly. And against that you have a very narrow-minded councillor from Margate who is scared of foreigners.
Annalisa's reply was:
We thought if we went into trying to give both sides of the arguments for all these very complex issues we wouldn’t have survived. We would have died in the process.


Thanks to pressure from Biased BBC's DB and, we might hope, our follow-up post...

Pegida UK-bashing BBC tweeter Hannah Bayman has now 'un-re-tweeted' her biased Yvonne Ridley re-tweet.

She clearly realised that it betrayed her bias too clearly. 

University challenge

Because the SOAS has just voted (73% - 27%) for an academic boycott of Israel I thought I ought to post this video. There but for the grace of God goes every UK campus. 

Je suis Molla

Alan at Biased BBC was struck by a remarkable article on the BBC News website - a piece about an Azerbaijani Charlie Hebdo from a century ago by Konul Khalilova, editor of the BBC Azeri service. 

If you've not read it yet, please do so. 

Given Azerbaijan's peculiar relationship to its Islamic heritage, the BBC can probably get away with publishing such things there but, interestingly, they also chose to share it with their general, worldwide readership. 

Here's a scene that looks oddly familiar:

The Gaza trilogy.

BBC Watch has posted the third in a series of critiques of Lyse Doucet’s reports on her  commemorative visit to Gaza.

This particular episode is the strangest of all, because it’s almost fact-free. You’d think that as the BBC’s Chief International Correspondent she’d have more to offer than a kind of nostalgic misery memoir. Yes, the rubble in Shuja’iya is pretty bloody shameful, (but it’s hardly a patch on the devastation we’ve seen in hundreds of other Middle East cities which haven’t been given the Doucet lamentation treatment)  (Kobane) Will Lyse be visiting soon to see whether it’s all put back together again? 

Not Gaza

Not Gaza

Not Gaza

It’s not just that she doesn’t allude to any aspect of Hamas’s culpability throughout the whole report. Not a whisper or hint that there’s a self-generated self-inflicted element to the situation.  Maybe she’s decided that she doesn’t need to examine any of the political shenanigans that led to all this devastation. After all, she’s reporting ‘what she’s seeing’ just as any disinterested visitor would do. 
But hang on. Isn’t she the BBC’s Chief International thingamajig? 

As Hadar says, the entire report is conjecture and emotion with a bit of ‘Israel says’ thrown in for good measure. 

We are quite accustomed to the BBC’s mawkish obsession with this subject and they won’t look at anything else that is going on. It's left to BBC Watch to remind us that:
“In January 2015 alone, 15,205 tons of construction materials were imported into the Gaza Strip. Since the end of the conflict, 50,000 tons of building materials have entered the Strip and more than 42,000 residents have purchased them.”

I understand that there’s an obesity epidemic there. Why doesn’t Lyse investigate that? 
The results showed that obesity and being overweight are highly prevalent among women in the Gaza Strip. Independent predictors of obesity in the population studied were increasing age, high income, and housewives. This finding is an important baseline for the monitoring of obesity and overweight cases in the future and highlights the need for community-based programs to combat this problem in Palestine.

Silicon breast implants, botox, tummy tucks, and: 
"In addition, there has been a 300% increase in lip augmentation and beautification.”

I think the BBC’s audience deserves to see the bigger picture, not just snaps from Lyse Doucet’s memory lane disaster tourism.

And a brand new entry at No.24...

Except (possibly) for the young these days, it's certainly true that the BBC has permeated most of our lives to a remarkable degree. 

So much so that I doubt I'm alone in feeling a strange pang of regret that a BBC programme I've not listened to for 25 years is being moved. Yes, Radio One's Sunday chart show is moving to Friday night and, even though it doesn't really matter to me in the slightest, it seems oddly like sacrilege.

In my teens 5 o'clock on Sunday, after Sunday dinner, was the time to get my C60 and C90 cassettes ready to record all the new entries. "Number 36", sang the jingle-singers. 'Click', I went. 

Oh, the thrill of the chase! When would the DJ would start rabbiting over the end of the record? Would it be too soon? Oh the dread of that! 

Tommy Vance wasn't too bad, but Simon 'flipping' Bates? Grrrrr!...Oh how I laughed when he was caught out by Falco's 'Rock Me Amadeus' and all the fading 'euses' at the end faded into complete silence. Result! 

It's funny the things you remember, isn't it?

I remember the pleasure of hearing Tommy Vance elide the ending of Tears for Fears' Mad World into The Stranglers' Golden Brown in the end of year countdown (1982) - a coupling I would re-play on my tape recorder endlessly (or at least until the tape broke, which happened quite often). 

Another very clear memory was hearing Tommy Vance apologise for saying that Annie Lennox had "beautiful eyes". Some listeners had written in describing him as "sexist". So that sort of thing was going on even back then - I'm guessing around 1982-83. 

As David said in the comments the other day, he BBC has a legacy and connection to the public psyche spanning generations. Those hoping to rein in the BBC will have that to contend with for many more years to come.

The burning question (for the BBC)

A common purpose

On the 'Jihadi Mohammed' story...

Both The Andrew Marr Show (guest-hosted by Sophie Raworth) and Radio 4's Broadcasting House shared a particular focus: on the alleged failings of the British security services. 

Sophie Raworth's introduction stated:
Now, with the revelation that the ISIS terrorist Mohammed Emwzai was on a terror watchlist and had links to extremists going back many years, tough questions are being asked of the policy and the security services.
and later interviews pursued this path, with Sophie beginning her interview with Labour's Yvette Cooper with the question: 
In terms of Jihadi John, the terrorism threat, have the security services messed up?
Starting the paper review, Sophie and her BBC colleague Bridget Kendall also pursued this path, beginning with the Observer
Bridget Kendall: It raises so many questions. What do they know?...
Sophie Raworth: How long he was on the radar for.
Bridget Kendall: How long he was on the radar. Why it wasn't possible to do something about that. 
Paddy O'Connell, over on Radio 4, had a critical former MI6 spy and an academic for an entire discussion on the same theme, opening with this question from Paddy:
Harry Ferguson [the spy], did your former colleagues drop the ball? He was known to them for over seven years before he cropped up in his murderous videos.

And of all the possible angles the BBC News website (and the Radio 4 news bulletins) could have led on this morning, they chose to lead on the Mail on Sunday's 'world exclusive' [yep, the hated Hate Mail] - the chain of emails between the MOS's security correspondent and Emwzai. [The difference was that the BBC simply quoted Emwzai's complaints, while the MOS also included the reporter's take on the man - that he had a "persecution complex" and tended towards being "paranoid".]

Sky (initially) went with its investigations into the University of Westminster. And Andrew Gilligan at the Telegraph has dug deep into the extremist CAGE - another piece of fiercely independent investigative journalism from the ex-BBC man that it's most unlikely he'd have been allowed to pursue at the BBC. Both angles the BBC could have also chosen to pursue (along with many others), but chose not to.

And these are only the latest manifestations of the BBC's dogged focus on the alleged failings of the security services.

Obviously, some questioning of the security services is needed, despite all of their excellent work in thwarting attack after attack after attack, but the sheer extent and relentlessness of the BBC's focus - especially when there are so many other angles to this story to cover - suggests a strong determination on the BBC's part to deflect the public's attention in a particular direction.  Don't you think?

Update: Pace my comments in parenthesis earlier about the BBC's reporting of the MoS emails, here's a Biased BBC comment:

BBC News Ticker boldly saying (at the moment)
“Emails claim the IS British militant known as Jihadi John complained of persecution by the security services.”
That’s right no context: nothing about Emwazi’s paranoid mental state. Just a bold allegation presented as fact on the BBC ticker so that thousands of Muslims can read it and build their own fears about the security services.

Fears grow for missing TV presenter

Mysteriously, we were told that Andrew Marr was "away this week" at the start of this morning's Andrew Marr Show

I don't know about you but, given what's been going on recently, I found that highly alarming. Hopefully, he's not gone off to Syria to become a jihadi bride. 

If he has, will it because he's been radicalised by years of working at the BBC, having been exposed to its relentless propaganda? Well, if there's one thing I know from watching the BBC for so long, is that it's all down to British foreign policy and the failings of the British security services, so that's a clear 'no' then.

Viewers of the Andrew Marr Show will have spotted that he occasionally gets approached by senior figures in the security services. They sit themselves down opposite him and lead him to think that he's interviewing them whereas, in fact, they are actually interviewing him

Have they then tried to 'turn him' after the cameras stop rolling? Did that hurt his feelings and make him want to chop heads off (as you do)?

I hope and pray that Andy Marr is safe, and that he's not going to end up in Caliph Bagdaddy's harem.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Odious Press conference

In an ideal world bloggers and Journalists would aim for clarity, brevity and accuracy. 
Anyone who deftly manages to include context or give adequate, succinct background to a complex topic in a bite-size blog post, whilst neither treating the reader as an ignoramus nor expecting too much of them deserves admiration. 

I wanted to write about ‘That-News-Conference’, but there was so much background, (Caged prisoners, Amnesty International, Moazzam Begg, Gita Sahgal etc etc.) that I couldn’t decide whether to assume the reader was familiar with it, or to start at the beginning of a tedious resume of everything I’d read, from 2010 to the present day. 

As luck would have it I saw this piece in the Daily Mail, so I don’t need to worry now.
Nauseating! An odious press conference, apologists for terror and the do-gooders who fund them
You get a good bit of history as well as the writer’s incredulous reaction to the ‘odious press conference’ that was Broadcast live for 52 minutes on the BBC and 58 on Sky News” 

I still want to add that I’m sure the BBC is growing more and more out of touch with normal people. Who at the BBC thought it was a good decision to give an unprecedented, undiluted, wall to wall chunk of exposure to those ludicrous clowns blaming our security forces for making the poor little ‘beautiful guy’ hack people’s heads off?

Apart from the BBC no-one thought it was a good move. it. Not the public. In fact several actual BBC people questioned it.  Nobody - even those in the media, apart from whoever orchestrated the coverage seemed to think it was the right thing to do.

The atmosphere in Britain is quite strange these days. Menacing in many ways. The state broadcaster constantly pumps out stultifying political correctness and pro-Islam propaganda that is so seriously at odds with the mood of the public that all sorts of people are beginning to notice it.   Not just people like me I must point out.

There was a Five Live phone-in thing. I’ve never listened to Five Live before; it was a first (and last) for me, however someone linked to it, saying that Nicky Campbell had been chatting with a professor who ‘got it right’, more or less. It turned out to be Anthony Glees.
He said that Mohammed Emwazi was radicalised before MI5 got their hands on him, not because of it, and the mysterious “radicalisation” was something to do with Westminster University, whose Islamic society hosts extremist preachers and Imams such as Haitham Haddad. 

However, as soon as these facts had been established, and Nicky appeared satisfied that they had been, people began saying that beheading and suchlike is ‘nothing to do with (the real) Islam, it’s simple criminality, and moderate Muslims mustn’t be tarred with the same brush.

Cynicism and caution makes it hard to accept that Maajid Nawaz is 100% on my wave length. I mean he’s still a practicing Muslim, and I can’t be sure if he secretly harbours his coreligionists’ inherent antipathy to the Jew. That aside, his interview with Andrew Neil was quite convincing. 
(Am I inherently anti-Islam, is he inherently anti-Jew, or both? Never mind for now.) 

The BBC is busily indoctrinating us with an extreme version of political correctness, and in its own subversive way, radicalising the passive viewer. You mustn’t say this, you must think that, you must tolerate the intolerant; your prejudices and antisemitic tendencies must be disguised as something else. These days you mustn’t reveal your ‘bigotry’ by criticising Islam. I don’t think they can report you to the police or put you on a Bigotry control order (BPIM) but they can sure give you some pretty poisonous looks. 

Even taking into account the BBC’s radical pro-Muslim position,  Asim Qureshi and Cerie Bullivant were still hard to take seriously. How could anyone fall for that bullshit? 

Their far-fetched allegations were infantile, irrelevant and plainly ludicrous. Qureshi’s saccharine plea that Emwazi was ‘beautiful’ and ‘softly spoken’ and the accusation that MI5 ‘harassed’  the poor chap into a beheading spree were as illogical as they were stark raving ridiculous. 

Their entire, simpering clownish performance was unworthy of the reverential questioning that came from the floor, and if any self-flagellating liberals were dumb enough to believe Emwaz’s knife-skills are somehow our fault, and if the implausible answers they heard weren’t enough to arouse serious misgivings about their own gullibility that would be obvious to anyone sane, surely the twosome’s appearance alone should have been enough to crack a smile in the innermost subconscious of the most ernest of a BBC /PC worshipper.

Qureshi with his materialistic, western, capitalist’s trendy suit and specs, the upside-down effect of hirsute chin and shiny bald head, the unsightly prayer-bruise, (probably a badge of honour) and his wall-eyed, buck-toothed sidekick Bullivant with the pubic-hair fuzz on his chin and the dark shirt, allegedly worn at all times to camouflage the sparseness of the beard. 
I’m waiting to hear it was all a stunt by some clever impressionists.You don’t get clever impressionists these days though, do you?

Why give these  parodies of nobodies any air time? If their ludicrousness isn’t enough to make them a laughing stock, there’s You Tube. Qureshi preaching hatred in 2006. Are the BBC aware of that? If not, they’re the only ones who aint; and if they are, shouldn’t they be putting these fools in context and treating them with the disdain they deserve?

Jihad is just ‘the right to defend oneself against the west’  claims this twit. He’s winging it here, when confronted on CNN. Watch this. He’s beginning to have doubts. He’s not completely sure anyone but the BBC is falling for it. 

The whole escapade was nothing more than a publicity stunt for these clowns. I don’t think publicly identifying “Jihad John’ makes one jot of difference. So what if we know his name  So what if we don’t. We know he’s a Muslim. Duh! 
We know he was exposed to extreme Islamist preachers at one of this country’s many traitorous universities that are rife with antisemitism and hatred of the country that has gifted them the freedom to hate it.   

Bringing back memories

As DB notes at Biased BBC, the BBC's tweeter-in-chief at the Pegida and anti-Pegida rallies has been Hannah Bayman. You can judge the nature of her tweeting today here (complete with re-tweets of Yvonne Ridley).

DB takes us old hands down memory lane to the days of Natalie at Biased BBC, and this post featuring Hannah Bayman, which you might be interested to read in full:

Happy memories for all concerned!


One story prominently featured over the Easter holiday weekend was the leftie march to Aldermaston, including various puff-pieces in advance (i.e. advertising for fellow-travellers).
Monday’s ‘News front page’ featured two links to stories about this relative non-event. The same story is highlighted a day later on the UK news page:
Deep joy indeed. The story, by Hannah Bayman, features interviews with various protestors, Giulia Giglioggi, 11-year old Leela Levitt (from Southampton “pleading with parents Malcolm and Latha”, Daniel Franceschini and Reverend Hazel Barkham.
Knowing the BBC’s rigourous and honest approach, I did a little Googling for these people.
Giulia Giglioggi returns nothing. Google helpfully suggests “Giulia Gigliotti”, from Southampton, who it turns out is a major organiser of such protests (inc. a letter in the Grauniad signed ‘Giulia Gigliotti, Nuclear Information Service’) – all omitted (or simply unseen) by our scrupulous BBC inquisitor. (‘Nuclear Information Service’ turns out to be www.nukeinfo.co.uk – also based in Southampton).
Reverend Hazel Barkham (Google alternative ‘Barking’!) is also, unsurprisingly, a prominent anti-nuclear activist, popping up around the web and around the world.
So, how could our rigourous BBC reporter omit to mention the prominence of these anti-nuclear organisers whilst writing such a happy, nay joyous, report of this traditional outing?
Another spot of Googling, this time for ‘Hannah Bayman’, reveals a number of interesting Hannah Bayman coincidences:
- Revolutionary Communists “Rock around the Blockade at Guantanamo” (in April 2000 no less), inc. Hannah Bayman “I am really interested in the Pioneers and the UJC (Union of Young Communists)” (Link);
- “Operation Desert Rescue – 9.6m children in danger” – list of supporters includes “Hannah Bayman, Southampton, BBC journalist” (Link);
- Socialist Worker 26Apr03 letters page – an angry rant about Iraqi freedom, from Hannah Bayman, Southampton (Link);
- Globalise Resistance “free Nicola and Richard” petition – signed by Hannah Bayman, freelance journalist (Link);
- The Observer 21Jul02 letters page – Hannah Bayman of London N1 writes “People across the world have marched against Israel’s war in Palestine, including 80,000 in London in May, largely ignored by the mainstream British press. In September thousands more are expected to rally in London against the threat of a bloody war in Iraq. In November thousands of activists will converge in Florence for the European Social Forum, a weekend of demonstrations and debate on the future of the anti-capitalist movement.” (Link)
It seems I’m not alone in doubting the objectivity of Ms. Bayman – Robert Hinkley has posted details of his dealings with her here and here. Note also the picture here which is remarkably like the BBC picture here.
For those with long memories, I wonder if the Chris Blake in the first picture is the same as the one interviewed by Hannah for the BBC here. If so, Hannah seems to have a remarkably intimate interviewing technique – too intimate one might think to ensure the impartiality and objectivity that a Beeb-taxpayer might expect from the “World’s premier news broadcaster”, as they term themselves.

Just to be clear, BBC reporters, like everyone else, are entitled to their personal opinions. However, in the interests of transparency, when a reporter interviews a personal acquaintance (in this case Chris Blake, aformer comrade on a political magazine “Resist”), it is, at best, a discourtesy to his or her readers not to mention it.

"The revolution was very good for women"

From this morning's From Our Own Correspondent:
Kate Adie: Has the Ayatollah's revolution in 1979 eventually helped Iranian women rather than hindered them?
The answer from FOOC was 'yes', it has helped them.

Here's how Kate Adie introduced the report:
Now, the West tends to view the Khomenei Revolution in Iran in a negative light. It blames his regime for giving birth to an oppressive and conservative clerical rule which even today tolerates no opposition and not much more in the way of free speech. And yet could it be that history will judge him differently? Quite apart from overthrowing the corrupt and brutal regime of the Shah, the revolution introduced education reforms which have been of particular benefit to women. Amy Guttman's been underground in the Iranian capital to see what can be learned about the lot of women in Iran today.
And here's how the BBC publicised it on Twitter:

Again, the answer from FOOC was 'yes'.

That dress

From the 'and finally' pieces on the main BBC and ITV news bulletins, to Newsnight, the BBC News website and every newspaper in the country, both Friday and Saturday were 'Dress Day'...

Someone brought an image of it into work on Friday. I've never seen my workplace more animated. It went viral. Most people (like me) saw it as clearly white and gold. A few saw it as blue and black (which apparently it really is). People just couldn't believe that other people couldn't see what they were seeing. Some started giving possible scientific explanations. Many Googled. A handful got on with their work. It was a genuine phenomenon. And I was a part of it. 

As they say on Twitter, #realnews.

'Dateline' achieves consensus again

And talking about Dateline London...

The closing discussion was on PM Netanyahu's upcoming speech to the U.S. Congress, at the invitation of Congress. Given the strongly left-liberal composition of the panel, the way the discussion went can probably be predicted.

Roger Cohen (who's sympathetic attitude towards Iran and regular criticisms of the Israeli government perhaps explain the programme's invitation to him to appear) described it as a "deeply divisive" move and "a huge gamble". He also backed President Obama and said that Mr Netanyahu's proposals over Iran would mean (if acted on) that "we're moving down the warpath". 

Maria Margonis criticised the U.S . Republicans and Mr Netanyahu, saying "I  think he was wrong to accept" and that, in contrast, Mr Obama had been "very dignified", "very elegant" about the whole thing.

Ashis Ray said that "there is no better proposal from Mr Netanyahu on the table", that he's only going "to get  the standing ovation", and that a "rapprochement" between the U.S. and Iran would be "good for the world".

Steve Richards agreed, adding that a "rapprochement" between the U.S.and Iran would be "very helpful to Israel as well" in the long run, that "this is a hugely insensitive thing for Congress to do" and that "I don't blame Obama".

You may or may not agree with them, but this is precisely the kind of smoothly-brought-about left-liberal consensus-building that (sometimes) gives Dateline London a bad name (bias-wise). 

Much more attention should have been paid to this week's guest selection, knowing the subject, to ensure the presence of at least one strongly dissenting voice. 

Tory former Thatcher minister Sir Malcolm Rifkind...and "another former foreign secretary"

Taking about Steve Richards and BBC bias (as we were)...

Today's Dateline got off to a weird start. Steve Richards of the Independent was playing his usual "lickspittle of the political establishment" role over MPs' pay and expenses and both Roger Cohen of the New York Times and Maria Margaronis of The Nation then started denouncing undercover journalism. All four guest expressed sympathy for Sir Malcolm Rifkind. 'It's a great shame for him and terrible, dishonest journalism from Channel 4' was the general consensus among the profoundly left-liberal Dateline panel. 

Besides the biased weighting of the panel overall, the very odd thing about the programme's coverage of this story was the lop-sided way it was set up. 

If you've followed the Sir Malcolm Rifkind/Jack Straw story this week, can you see any imbalance in presenter Shaun Ley's way of introducing? (and, if you can't, please hurry along to SpecSavers):
...and a former British foreign secretary caught in a media sting insisting he should be allowed to top his inadequate parliamentary pay.
Let's talk about someone else who's been in the headlines this week: Sir Malcolm Rifkind, who was one of Britain's most prominent Conservative politicians. He was a cabinet minister under Margaret Thatcher, rose to be foreign secretary and until this week he chaired the Intelligence and Security Committee. He and another former foreign secretary were secretly filmed pitching for work with a Chinese company. The company was fake, set up by journalists trying to catch out politicians. Now, it's not illegal in Britain for politicians to earn money outside the day job but Sir Malcolm's defence that "I do want to have the standard of living that my professional background, a lawyer, would normally entitle me to have" went down so badly that Downing Street withdrew its support and he's now quitting as an MP. 
Only one politician named. Only one political party named. Only one former prime minister named.

Only when Maria Margonis, several minutes later, mentioned the name "Jack Straw", did Shaun Ley feel the need to clarify that Mr Straw was the other "former foreign secretary" who'd been stung (without naming his party). 

Yes, Sir Malcolm made the most memorable remarks and held a key select committee job, but Jack Straw was, in many ways, a much bigger - and certainly better-known - political beast. Why choose not to mention him (or his political party) by name at the start?