Saturday, September 08, 2007


The BBC has abandoned plans for Planet Relief, a 'telethon' to raise awareness about climate change, which was being touted as a cross between Comic Relief (an annual BBC cringe-fest in which people give money to various good causes because comedians tell them to) and Al Gore's mega-flop Live Earth.

The report says: "The decision comes after executives said it was not the BBC's job to lead opinion on climate change." Which is exactly what they've been doing for the past several years - so what's changed? The report admits that: "...against the backdrop of intense internal debates about impartiality, senior news editors expressed misgivings that Planet Relief was too "campaigning" in nature and would have left the Corporation open to the charge of bias."

There has indeed been intense internal debate, with various senior BBC figures criticising the corporation for 'editorialising' on climate change - and this in the wake of a report by the BBC itself which essentially acknowledged that it was infected with a left-liberal culture. The BBC claims it scrapped Planet Relief because audiences 'prefer factual output on climate change'. This is a non-sequitor of course, because the BBC's factual programmes on climate change are every bit as biased as Planet Relief promised to be.

The real reason for the decision appears to be that the BBC realises the public is becoming sick of hysterical media coverage of the subject, as the failure of Live Earth demonstrated, so the BBC has decided it can have more influence on public opinion by dressing its editorialising up as 'factual' programming. Not surprisingly, environmentalists have slammed the BBC's decision as "cowardice", (damn, foiled by those pesky well-funded deniers again!). The report adds: "A number of right-wing commentators such as the Daily Mail's Keith Waterhouse also criticised the idea." The writer, environment correspondent and global warming doomsayer Richard Black, is clearly allowing his frustration to get to him here.

You'll notice that you'll rarely, if ever, see a commentator referred to as 'left-wing' by the BBC. Interestingly, however, Black adds that 'Many blogs run by climate skeptics groups regularly accuse the BBC of bias', and I think this is the really interesting point in all of this. Bloggers, have, of course been at the forefront of the resistance to claims that the debate is over, and have enabled research by skeptical scientists, which previously would have been confined to science magazines and easily suppressed by a hostile media, to be seen by millions.

Another area where bloggers have led the way is in exposing media bias. A few years ago it was almost impossible for the public to complain about biased reporting by the BBC. You could write to them, or phone them, and your complaint would be duly noted before disappearing into the system. Only a few 'right-wing' journalists and Tory MPs were able to draw attention to dishonest or misleading reports with any effect.

Blogs have changed all that, and brought together thousands of people who have been quietly seething at the BBC for years, but felt they were powerless to do anything about it; complaints about bias now appear daily, both on dedicated 'Beeb-watch' sites and mainstream blogs, and every omission, half-truth and lie is quickly thrown back in the faces of those responsible. There are clearly decent people in the BBC who are truly committed to impartiality, but I think we can chalk this one up to the bloggers.


When healthcare becomes a privilege rather than something that you buy

'NHS should not treat those with unhealthy lifestyles' say Tories

David Cameron is considering NHS Health Miles Cards to reward clean living. Failing to follow a healthy lifestyle could lead to free NHS treatment being denied under the Tory plans. Patients would be handed "NHS Health Miles Cards" allowing them to earn reward points for losing weight, giving up smoking, receiving immunisations or attending regular health screenings. Like a supermarket loyalty card, the points could be redeemed as discounts on gym membership and fresh fruit and vegetables, or even give priority for other public services - such as jumping the queue for council housing.

But heavy smokers, the obese and binge drinkers who were a drain on the NHS could be denied some routine treatments such as hip replacements until they cleaned up their act. Those who abused the system - by calling an ambulance when a trip to the GP would be sufficient, or telephoning out of hours with needless queries - could also be penalised. The report calls for a greater emphasis on the "citizen's responsibility" to be healthy and says no one should expect taxpayers to fund their unhealthy lifestyles.

Yet while the Health Miles Card would award points for giving up smoking and losing weight, it could penalise those who are already fit and well because they would receive no benefits under the scheme. Also, the NHS already demands that obese patients lose weight before receiving hip replacements. And any moves to impose compulsory cards on patients would provoke a backlash from civil liberties groups.

The Dorrell report also calls for a consultation on raising the smoking age to 18 and for shops to be stripped of their licences if they sell tobacco and alcohol to minors. It proposes a fully-trained nurse to be made available to every school to offer advice on sexual health - but Tory officials stressed they would not be offering children contraceptives. Ministers should divert more attention and funding to public health epidemics which are costing the NHS billions a year, the report says.


Antisemitism rampant in Britain: "More worrisome was what we described as anti-Jewish discourse, a mood and tone whenever Jews are discussed, whether in the media, at universities, among the liberal media elite or at dinner parties of modish London. To express any support for Israel or any feeling for the right of a Jewish state to exist produces denunciation, even contempt."

Greenies send bread prices skyrocketing in Britain: "Premier Foods will force shoppers to pay up to 8p more for a loaf of Hovis after raising the price of bread for the second time this year because of an "unprecedented" surge in wheat costs. The company, which makes Hovis, Mothers Pride and Homepride bread, said that it had no choice but to push through an increase given that wheat prices had doubled in the past 12 months after poor harvests around the world and the UK's dismal summer.... ..Mr Schofield warned that other food products were also facing inflationary pressure, in part because of the desire by governments to give over more farmland to biofuel products. He said: "Everyone is focusing on wheat and bread prices at the moment but there is a general inflation that hasn't been with us since the 1990s. "As long as governments are going to grow fuel there will be in effect an environmental tax on food."

British Yachtsman Who Counted On Global Warming to Cross Arctic Now Trapped by Ice: "In one of the most hilarious cases of being tripped up by dubious scientific hype, British yachtsman Adrian Flanagan attempted to be the first to sail across the arctic north of Russia. He based his hope on the fact that he believed in the Global Warming propaganda that the arctic is rapidly losing its ice thus making his trip possible. One little problem. Cold cruel reality has crushed the Global Warming hype and now Flanagan's boat is trapped by ice in the arctic. Besides the arctic ice, Wrong Way Flanagan now appears to have another problem. Remember those polar bears that Global Warming activists were warning us were endangered? Well, it now seems that the tables have been turned and those endangered polar bears are now endangering Flanagan"

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