Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The "charities" are guilty, not the BBC (for a change)

The Corporation is right not to run the Gaza appeal. Oxfam and others are clearly anti-Israel

Mark Thompson, the Director-General of the BBC, is quite right to refuse to broadcast the appeal of the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC) for humanitarian relief for Gaza, but not for the reason he thinks. He is under the impression that it will damage the BBC's reputation for impartiality in reporting the Israel-Palestine question, but the fact is that the BBC does not have any such reputation, having for years been institutionally pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli. The reason that his decision is brave and right, however, is that many of the 13 charities that make up the DEC are even more mired in anti-Israeli assumptions than the BBC itself.

Mr Thompson rightly appreciates that the issue of humanitarian relief in this conflict is quite unlike humanitarian relief for victims of a tsunami or a famine.

Who adjudicates on which victims to support via such charitable aid - and according to whose political morality? Why did the BBC not launch an appeal for the victims of collateral damage during Nato's bombing of Serbia in 1999 during the Kosovo campaign? And had it done so, would it have given money to ethnic Serbs as well as to Kosovars and Bosnian Muslims, all of whom were "cleansed" during the Balkan wars of that decade? What about the victims of insurgencies and counter- insurgencies in Sri Lanka, Kashmir, Chechnya or Georgia? Or Israeli victims of the next Hamas suicide attack? Indeed, what about the Palestinian victims of Hamas's hideous human rights abuses, still so shamefully under-reported by the British media as a whole?

And who are these supposedly impartial charities who are attacking Mr Thompson's (albeit belated) attempt to uphold the Corporation's traditional standards? While groups such as the British Red Cross and Christian Aid are generally impartial in other areas of the world, that cannot be said to apply to their role in the Israeli-Palestinian struggle, where they regularly view the conflict through a deeply partisan lens.

In the months prior to the decision by Hamas to end the six-month ceasefire and resume rocket attacks, these charities issued a flood of one- sided denunciations aimed at Israel. Their campaign repeated tendentious and often highly inaccurate terms such as "collective punishment" and "violation of international law". On March 6, 2008, CARE International, Cafod, Christian Aid and Oxfam (among others) published a widely quoted report under the headline "The Gaza Strip: A Humanitarian Implosion". The authors did not bother to hide their political bias against Israel, repeating standard Palestinian political rhetoric and including claims that Israeli policy "constitutes a collective punishment against ordinary men, women and children" and is "illegal under international humanitarian law".

The report was wrong on many counts, including allegations over the availability of food and basic necessities, which were later contradicted by both the World Bank and World Health Organisation, neither of which are exactly Israeli stooges. The fact that Hamas chose to pursue war with Israel rather than the welfare of its people, was not covered in these reports. There was no sense that any of these claims might be disputed by the other side or by genuinely neutral observers.

During the three-week war, Oxfam and other charities were extremely active in the ideological campaign that highlighted Palestinians as the sole victims and Israelis as the sole aggressors. Numerous Oxfam press statements included language such as: "The international community must not stand aside and allow Israeli leaders to commit massive and disproportionate violence against Gazan civilians in violation of international law."

Violence against Israelis, including deaths, are virtually ignored by Oxfam officials, who have referred to "collective punishment illegal under international humanitarian law yet tolerated by the international community". For those of us who reject such gross ideological bias, which absolves the Hamas leadership for a confrontation which they openly sought, such statements by charities are unacceptable and should not be rewarded by the BBC.

The final issue is the fraught one of the practicability of actually distributing the aid on the ground. After Hamas seized total control of Gaza in June 2007 there have been many well-documented reports of Hamas officials diverting assistance for themselves. On February 7 last year, for example, the Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported that "at least ten trucks with humanitarian aid sent to the Gaza Strip by the Jordanian Red Crescent Society were confiscated by Hamas police shortly after the lorries entered the territory". Journalists also reported that the aid was "unloaded in Hamas ministry warehouses" and that a similar seizure took place in January 2008.

Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the founder of Hamas, used to say that Hamas was like a bird that needed two wings to fly - the armed branch, but also the charitable-welfare side of the organisation. Do the 13 charities and their political allies that are so vocally attacking the "cowardly" BBC really have the guts and wherewithal to do a proper audit on how those monies might be spent in today's Gaza Strip? I, for one, do not believe it.


The BBC does it again

Note that this was not broadcast live. It was a version pre-approved by the BBC. But of course "There's no such thing as right and wrong" to Leftists

The foul mouth of shamed Jonathan Ross put his BBC career on a new knife-edge yesterday-just minutes after he returned to Radio 2 from his three-month suspension. The mega-bucks star's crude joke about sex with an 86-year-old woman infuriated listeners. And last night as it emerged that the woman is a REAL PERSON with ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE there were mounting calls for Ross to be SACKED from his 6 million pounds-a-year job.

The shocking blunder came while ad-libbing on air with producer Andy Davies about an elderly woman neighbour then urging him to "give her one last night". They were a mere eight minutes and 35 seconds into yesterday's big comeback show following Ross's Beeb ban over the Sachsgate scandal, when he and comedian Russell Brand left filthy phone messages for 78-year-old actor Andrew Sachs. It came just after 10 o'clock in the morning when families and children were listening.

Ross, 48, and freelance 43-year-old Davies had been discussing how they spent their time during the suspension. Davies said he did some bricklaying in the garden of his villa in Spain but kept getting grabbed by a frisky 80-year-old woman. Ross finished up by declaring: "Eighty, oh God! I think you should, just for charity. "Give her one last night, will you? One last night before the grave. Would it kill you?"

The banter ended abruptly there without any explanation. The Ting Tings' record That's Not My Name was played and the pair did not return to the story afterwards. It's not known if Ross was ordered to stop the sequence. But reaction was swift. Tory MP David Davies was listening to the show with his young children and demanded the BBC immediately sack Ross. He raged: "On Radio 2 you don't expected X-rated references to sex, and especially sex with an 80-year-old, during the day. "I was listening with my kids to this. There's a place for humour but it has to be appropriate to the time of the day. And that clearly wasn't. "He should have gone ages ago. There's no way this man should be on the air. He needs to be replaced now! "It's obscene, especially given the amount of money Ross is being paid. It could also be highly offensive to this woman if she's a real person."

Last night at producer Davies's home near Granada in Southern Spain his wife Abigail-who listened to the broadcast there-confirmed that the pensioner DOES exist. She said: "It's very sad because she has Alzheimer's Disease. She takes a fancy to any man in the street and tries to kiss them." Giggling, she added: "I shouldn't be laughing because, as I say, it's very sad, and she doesn't really realise what she's doing. "I sometimes walk her home because she gets confused about where she is."

Meanwhile former Home Secretary David Blunkett called for Ross's pay to be docked as a result of this latest incident. He said: "It's time for Ross to donate some of his salary to charity."

Regular Radio 2 listener Nigel Langstone, 43, from Leamington, Warwickshire, was furious over Ross's comments and said: "I couldn't believe what I was hearing. "He gets kicked off air for three months for hounding an old man with disgusting comments about his grand-daughter. "Then virtually the first thing he does after getting back is start telling a gag about sex with an 80-year-old woman. How insensitive can you be? "It just shows he's learned absolutely nothing and is a loose cannon who can't be controlled. "What's worse is that the exchange happened with his own producer-the man who's supposed to control him. "The BBC is totally OUT of control. They've no idea how much offence they're causing. "Ross should be taken off air immediately. He's a timebomb waiting to go off."

Ross's latest gaffe came a day after BBC bosses heavily censored his comeback TV show, Friday Night with Jonathan Ross.

Mediawatch, which campaigns for "socially responsible broadcasting", last night joined the call for the star to go. Director John Beyer said: "Making jokes like this is not acceptable. He should have gone three months ago and I haven't changed my view."

But Sir Michael Lyons, chairman of the BBC Trust, refused to condemn Ross. He even declined to listen to a transcript of the crass comments and said: "You're not going to expect me to make any comment on this, are you?" BBC Director-General Mark Thompson - on 816,000 a year of licence-payers money - REFUSED to discuss the incident and hung up on us. Later the corporation defended Ross in a statement which said: "Regular listeners will be familiar with Jonathan's irreverence and innuendo. "This light-hearted exchange contained no offensive language, named no individuals and there was clearly no intention to offend anyone."

But Ross himself was clearly embarrassed as he tried to wriggle out of his latest gaffe when he was confronted by the News of the World at his 3 million home in Hampstead, North London, last night. At first his wife Jane answered the door and insisted he had done nothing wrong. But when we asked if Ross was hiding behind his wife he came to the door and said: "I hope no one has been upset by the show. "It was a kind of light-hearted remark about giving her a cuddle. "It wasn't `give her one'-I meant, `Give her one last cuddle.' You know there was no malice intended. There was no harm intended, OK?"

That was at 5.30pm. But two hours later he issued a statement through his public relations expert attempting to wriggle yet further and shift the blame. His second version of what happened said: "It was a spontaneous, light-hearted remark made in response to an anecdote set in Spain, where no one was named or ever likely to hear the broadcast. "As far as I was concerned, the story may even have been apocryphal or exaggerated for comedic purposes, as is common practice on radio and comedy shows across the country. "Absolutely no offence to any individual was intended and, if the media wasn't hell bent on stirring up controversy, I'm sure none would be taken."

In fact, the story was completely ACCURATE, as confirmed by Andy Davies's wife. She also contradicted Ross by pointing out that she-like thousands of other ex-pats who listen in on the internet-heard the whole show perfectly clearly at her Spanish home. Strangely her husband, who commutes from Spain to London, last night claimed in a statement issued through Radio 2 and approved by senior BBC bosses: "It is completely untrue to suggest that I was referring to a real individual on the programme, nor would I have told such a story about anyone suffering from dementia. "The story was poetic licence based on the warm and affectionate behaviour experienced in Spanish village life. I did not identify an individual because there isn't one."

Yet three hours earlier, in a phone interview with the News of the World, his wife Abigail had confirmed she actually KNOWS the woman, she DOES have Alzheimer's and even gave us the pensioner's name. She is well-known to locals but we are keeping her identity secret to protect her privacy.


British schoolgirls banned from lessons by headmaster for being 'too blonde'

What smallmindedness!

A headteacher has come under fire from parents and pupils after banning two 16-year-olds from school for being 'too blonde'. Raegan Booth, 16, and Aby Western, 15, say they were threatened with expulsion by David Alexander unless they dyed their hair brown. The girls claim they are being forced to adhere to the strict dress code of Rednock School in Dursley, Gloucestershire, in order to sit GCSE exams. But Raegan remains adamant that her hair is a natural shade of blonde. She said:'The school rules clearly state that there are to be no "unnatural" hair colours on students. 'Unnatural hair colours are blue, purple, green and bright red. Blonde is considered a natural hair colour and there are many different shades.

'The head claims that he must follow the rules. To me this suggests that certain students are being made to look a way which is against their will. 'I believe this is wrong and no amount of hair dye affects a person's ability in school.' The teenager, who is refusing to dye her hair a darker shade, added: 'As we are in the middle of our GCSE year, we should not be excluded over something so petty. 'This is a crucial time for us and we should be focusing solely on our grades as opposed to our level of appearance.'

Martin Booth, Raegan's father said: 'Raegan is a model pupil and is working very hard towards her exams. 'She is always well turned out, her hair looks a very natural blonde. 'This is their final year, they are under enough pressure with GCSEs, they do not need to be worrying about their hair.'

Mr Alexander, who is due to meet with Raegan, denies the claims. He said that the girls were sent home only to dye their hair, and that they would still have been allowed to sit their GCSE exams. He said: 'We would not stop any student from sitting their GCSEs, it is in our interests that every student sits their GCSEs at the school. 'We are just trying to be consistent and apply the rules across the board. This code of conduct has been in place for a long time. 'However I am going to be meeting with parents to talk about looking again at the code and making it more clear. 'I think the problem is how you interpret the rules and we need to make it clearer for the students and parents. 'I accept this is a stressful time for the GCSE students, but we have to be consistent with our rules and must apply it to all year groups, otherwise it would be unfair.'


Medically-caused illness cured by a dedicated British mother

There is no doubt that antibiotics are overused. Sensitivity to them is supposed to be routinely monitored -- but this is the NHS, of course

A baby with a mysterious condition which causes his stomach to swell has been cured by a probiotic drink, his mother says. Riley Anderson, who is 11 months, has struggled with the bloating syndrome since birth. Doctors first noticed the problem when he was just 12 hours old and Riley was taken to a special baby unit. He was fed by a tube and later transferred to a specialist children's hospital, but no one could work out what was wrong with him.

His mother, Anna Anderson, 35, said: 'They didn't know what it was and sent us home. 'They still don't know what it is. He was bloated and his stomach was nearly as big as his body, it was like a balloon.' The problem continued for months. Miss Anderson, who has three other children, added: 'He was bloating up and being sick and if he did need to go to the toilet he was constantly screaming. 'I changed his milk to see if that would help, but it didn't, he was still bloated.'

As doctors could not help her, Miss Anderson decided to do some research herself. When she explored the antibiotics that Riley had been given by doctors, she discovered that one of them kills natural bacteria in the body. As a last resort, she decided to try and reintroduce this bacteria to her son by feeding him bottles of probiotics. 'I gave him Yakult and he was fine within the first couple of days of him having it,' she said. 'He was ten months old, and at his happiest he had been. There was no bloating.'

A few weeks later, Riley had problems with his ears, and was taken to hospital, where he was given more antibiotics. But after just two doses, his stomach began to swell again. Once he was home, his mother, from Aby, Lincolnshire, began to dose him with Yakult and he returned to normal. 'I think there is a bacterial imbalance in his stomach which means he can't digest food, and the Yakult helps get that back,' she said. 'When I give him Yakult, it settles his stomach and he is fine.'

Dr Henry Mulenga, a member of the Royal College of Paediatricians, with a special interest in gastroenterology, said: 'We are beginning to hear more and more of these type of stories. In my view it is very possible. 'There is no doubt that some conditions can be improved by introducing healthy bacteria. 'Many parents may feel that is the case. The difficulty we have with very small babies is whether it is entirely safe to do so.'

A spokesman for Yakult said: 'We are delighted that our product has helped in this circumstance.'


There are pictures at the link above but I found them too distressing to reproduce

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