Monday, November 10, 2008

A BBC eminence with no sense of humor

The Queen Mother was undoubtedly the most popular person in Britain for most of her life and now some nasty Leftist has tried to make himself look holier than holy by sliming her:
"Edward Stourton, the urbane presenter of the BBC's flagship radio programme Today, has admitted thinking that the late Queen Mother was "a ghastly old bigot". In a book on political correctness, he reveals the content of a private conversation with her in the early 1990s. After he told her he was back from a European summit, she said: "It will never work, you know . . . It will never work with all those Huns, wops and dagos."

Stourton writes: "The words were delivered with the eyes on maximum tiara-strength twinkle, but I am afraid I froze. The Nation's Favourite Grandmother was, I thought, in fact a ghastly old bigot, a prey to precisely the kind of prejudice which had driven the conflicts the European project had been designed to prevent . . . I thought that what she had said was nasty and ugly."


His comment about the "twinkle" shows that he knew she was joking but it was still too much for his refined sensibilities. I can believe that she did say it. She grew up into a more robust world than we have today and was as such more likely to find slang terms amusing rather than offensive.

In case British slang is not understood by some readers, by "Huns, wops and dagos" she probably meant Germans, Italians and Spaniards.

Stourton has subsequently backed down somewhat from his comments above.

Astrophysicist Dr. Soon smacks down UK Guardian for shoddy Polar Bear reporting

Your article (October 1) inaccurately implies that I wrote a paper demonstrating that none of the published studies on the imagined threat to polar bears from imagined "global warming" had followed the established scientific norms for population forecasting because I had received a grant from ExxonMobil.

Not so. The rules of the leading journals in which my research is published are clear: the sources of funding must be openly declared in the paper, so peer reviewers can take them into account when deciding whether the scientific analysis has sufficient merit to justify publication.

Since 2002 ExxonMobil has also supported 22 other studies on Arctic wildlife and ecosystems. Main authors of these papers included researchers who proposed the (pointless) listing of polar bears under the US Endangered Species Act. There is, therefore, no more basis for your implication that my results were tainted by ExxonMobil's funding than that other similarly funded results that better suited your editorial prejudice in favour of the alarmist "consensus" were tainted.

I do not write papers because ExxonMobil or Greenpeace pays me to, but because my academic researches demonstrate that the sun, not carbon dioxide, is the chief driver of Arctic temperatures, and that much of the "evidence" for the bears' imminent demise is speculative. Indeed the population has increased fivefold since the 1950s, mainly because of restricted hunting. Where the Arctic has cooled, bears dwindle: where it has warmed, they increase.

Polar bears evolved from brown bears 200,000 years ago and therefore must have survived the last interglacial period, when global temperatures were many degrees warmer than the present. More perspective and less prejudice, please.


Science or Science Fiction? The Biotech Files

Remember when Prince Charles went loco a few months back and told the London Telegraph that genetically modified (GM) foods would bring about "the absolute destruction of everything"? The end of our global food supply. The biggest environmental disaster ever. An overall "unmentionable awfulness." (His awkward words, not ours.) Well, we knew Prince Charles was laying it on pretty thick. But we had no idea just how thick.

There's little doubt in our minds that the Telegraph interview was one of the Prince of Wales' finest exercises in anti-biotech scaremongering. But to support his mad ranting about food security and "gigantic corporations," Prince Charles did offer some empirical evidence to back up his story -- sort of. The Telegraph reported:

The Prince of Wales cited the widespread environmental damage in India caused by the rush to mass produce GM food. "Look at India's Green Revolution. It worked for a short time but now the price is being paid." India has become the linchpin of Prince Charles' argument against biotechnology research. Last month, he gave a speech on the subject in India, which has been characterized as "his fiercest attack yet":

Prince Charles expressed no doubts in his lecture, delivered at the invitation of Dr. Vandana Shiva, the founder of Navdanya, and one of the leading proponents of the technology's role in the deaths. He spoke of "the truly appalling and tragic rate of small farmer suicides in India, stemming in part from the failure of many GM crop varieties."

But is there anything to back up this India suicide story outside of Prince Charles' unusually paranoid mind? Nothing at all, according to a new International Food Policy Research Institute study:

[I]t is not only inaccurate but simply wrong to blame the use of [GM] Bt cotton as the primary cause of farmer suicides in India. In fact, our overview of the evidence suggests that Bt cotton has been quite successful in most states and years in India, contributing to an impressive leap in average cotton yields, as well as a decrease in pesticide use and an increase in farmer revenues.

Prince Charles' theory, it turns out, could hardly have been wilder. Not only did biotech cotton not cause farmer suicides, it actually led to massive increases in crop yields. We would expect this kind of apocalyptic anti-capitalist conspiracy theory from Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth, but not from a presumed future head of state.


Fagin's army of Romanian children earns gang millions in UK

A "Fagin's army" of 200 gypsy children from Romania has been smuggled into Britain and could be earning more than œ19m a year from street crime and fraud, the European Union's head of police has disclosed. The children, who have an average age of eight, have been trafficked into the UK with the consent of their parents in return for a "hiring" fee from gangsters.

The activities of the gang, which Romanian police believe has smuggled 1,107 children into EU states, have been disclosed to MPs by Max-Peter Ratzel, the director of Europol. "All of these children were trafficked into the UK for the specific purpose of being exploited through the commission of street crimes and with the ancillary purpose of defrauding the UK social security system," he wrote in a letter to the House of Commons home affairs committee last month. "Many of their parents were complicit in their trafficking as they expect a return on the profits made, with the trafficking group involved expecting to earn up to $38m per year from these 200 children. It is suspected that most, if not all of this money is sent back to Romania."

James Clappison, a Tory MP on the committee, said the evidence highlighted the gravity of the threat posed by eastern European gangs. "The trafficking of these children is very worrying, both from the viewpoint of their own welfare and the consequences of their presence in the UK," he said.

Last January, in a related inquiry, police raided 17 homes in Slough, Berkshire. They arrested 25 people and removed 10 children, many of whom were under the age of 10. They were handed over to social services.


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