Friday, March 31, 2006

BBC News omits Arla Foods apology in lifting of boycott

In Cartoon row author rewrites Koran, one can read the following:
These developments come as a cartoon-related boycott of Danish-Swedish dairy giant Arla in the Middle East appears to be drawing to an end.

The company hopes to win back half of its market share by the end of the year, after religious leaders called for the boycott to be lifted.
Religious leaders only called for the boycott to be lifted after Arla Foods made their opposition to publication of the Muhammad cartoons clear!

Monday, March 27, 2006

BBC accused of medical quackery

The BBC has been accused of medical quackery by scientists for series focusing on alternative medicine, The Sunday Times reports in Science accuses BBC of medical quackery, from which the following excerpts are taken:
SOME of Britain’s leading scientists have accused the BBC of “quackery” by misleading viewers in an attempt to exaggerate the power of alternative medicine.

The most serious accusation concerns the BBC’s presentation of the anaesthetic powers of acupuncture. A heart patient underwent surgery in a Chinese hospital with a number of acupuncture needles stuck into her body.

Critics say that the needles could be credited with little real effect because the patient was also receiving three powerful conventional sedatives — midazolam, droperidol and fentanyl — along with large volumes of local anaesthetic injected into her chest.

The series was viewed by 3.8m people and presented by Kathy Sykes, professor of public understanding of science at Bristol University. During the acupuncture episode, Sykes said: “We’ve got to be scientific and rigorous and plan it really carefully,” adding later: “The bit of the brain that helps us decide whether something is painful, we think perhaps is being affected by acupuncture.”

Lewith, an expert on the effects of acupuncture, said in an interview yesterday: “The experiment was not groundbreaking; its results were sensationalised. It was oversold and over-interpreted. Proper scientific qualifications that might suggest alternative interpretations of the data appear to have been edited out of the programme.”

He said he felt “abused” by the programme makers: “It was as if they had instructions from higher up that this had to be a happy story about complementary medicine without any complexity, and they used me to give a veneer of respectability.”

Ernst also said: “The BBC decided to do disturbingly simple story lines with disturbingly happy endings.”

Two other programmes in the series — discussing faith healing and herbalism — were also criticised.

“It was the programme on herbal medicines which really got me going most,” said Colquhoun. “It is as if evidence-based medicine and reason started to go out of fashion in the 1970s and 1980s and mysticism came in. We have to bring reason back.”“It was the programme on herbal medicines which really got me going most,” said Colquhoun. “It is as if evidence-based medicine and reason started to go out of fashion in the 1970s and 1980s and mysticism came in. We have to bring reason back.”

Despite the criticisms, the BBC is understood to be in the process of commissioning a further series.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

BBC News editorial guideline change in references to Muhammad?

In Free speech protest to be staged, one can read the following:
The protest has been organised in response to the uproar over cartoons of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, which appeared in some European newspapers.
The Islamic prophet Muhammad is referred to as just that, “the Islamic prophet Muhammad” — a welcome change from “the Prophet Muhammad” or “the Prophet”, the first letter of the term invariably capitalised.

Could it be that the BBC News editors have modified the guideline, having understood that a little more than 97% of the United Kingdom’s population’s prophet isn’t Muhammad? Or is it simply a case of an article mentioning Muhammad written by a non-Muslim? I hope it is the former.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

BBC News considers al-Qaeda a ‘militant network’

In Palestinians 'in al-Qaeda plot', one can read the following:
It is the first time Israel has formally charged Palestinians with membership of the militant network.
The substitution of “terrorist group” for “militant network” is bad enough, but not referring to the group as an Islamist one is worse still (for al-Qaeda’s ultimate goal is to re-establish the Caliphate across the Islamic world, by overthrowing secular or Western-supported regimes).

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

BBC News omits religion of Muslim terror suspects (updated)

In Seven 'planned terror campaign', one can read the following:
Seven British citizens had acquired "most of the necessary components" to launch a bombing campaign in the UK, the Old Bailey has heard.

The bomb, or bombs, would have been used "at the very least to destroy strategic plant within the United Kingdom, or more realistically to kill and injure citizens of the UK," he claimed.

Omar Khyam, 24, and his brother Shujah Mahmood, 19 - both from Crawley in West Sussex - each deny possessing aluminium powder.

Mr Khyam, Anthony Garcia (also known as Rahman Adam), 23, of Ilford, east London, and Nabeel Hussain, 20, of Horley, Surrey, each deny possession of the ammonium nitrate fertiliser.

The other accused are Salahuddin Amin, 31, from Luton, Bedfordshire, and Waheed Mahmood, 34, and Jawad Akbar, 22, both from Crawley.
BBC News is happy to say that the accused are British citizens, but their religion is not touched on, despite it most probably being the incentive for the planification of attacks.


The article has been updated with the following information:
Mr Waters said Mr Khyam's motive was clear: "The UK was unscathed, it needed to be hit because of its support for the US."

The prosecutor said Mr Khyam and co-defendant Salahuddin Amin, 31, from Luton in Bedfordshire, both told Babar they worked for a man named Abdul Hadi who they claimed was "number three in al-Qaeda".
Omar Khyam’s motive was that the UK “needed to be hit because of its support for the US [in the War on Terror, no doubt]” and he said that he worked for a man who he claimed was “number three in al-Qaeda”, and still the BBC does not use the words “Islam” or “Muslim”.

The BBC ‘signed huge agreement with Iran’s mullahs’

Many thanks to the anonymous reader who found the story Iran's mullahs signed a huge agreement with BBC, in which one can read the following:
Iran will soon present its tourist attractions in a publicity campaign to be waged in the international and local television networks, said an official of Iran Cultural Heritage and Tourism Foundation (ICHTF) in Madrid Wednesday.

"The publicity campaign will be in the form of advertisements introducing cultural, historical and development attractions of Iran," said Deputy Head of ICHTF for Cultural and Communication Affairs Alireza Sajjadpour.

Talking to IRNA, he referred to BBC, CNN, Germany's ZDF, al-Jazeera and al-Arabia as the international TV networks selected for introducing the tourist sites.

"We have signed a huge agreement with BBC," he added. He, however, declined to cite the contracts' details.
Iran, we learn, is to present its tourist attractions in a publicity campaign in the form of advertisements, and the BBC is referred to — but the BBC sells no advertising, yet a “huge agreement” with it is cited.

What is the agreement in question? Why were no details given?

Most importantly, does this agreement undermine the BBC’s capacity to produce unbiased news reportage on Iran?

Given that the BBC itself has said nothing about a contract with Iran, one has to be careful in considering statements from the country and its media, statements which are sometimes outright lies.

Monday, March 20, 2006

BBC News’s John Simpson blind to pluses of Iraq invasion

On the BBC News front page, the article Iraq invasion: For better or worse? is linked to with the following short description:
John Simpson on the pluses and minuses of the Iraq invasion
John Simpson reporting on the pluses as well as the minuses of the Iraq invasion? It must be too good to be true! It is.

Let’s see the pluses given by Simpson in the article:
But there's one unquestioned success for the coalition: every available wall has a tattered election poster on it. True, three months after the last election Iraq still has no government, but the old terror of authority has evaporated.

There are dozens of newspapers, plenty of television channels, and hundreds of thousands of satellite dishes: under Saddam Hussein, you could be jailed for having one.

Few Iraqis will even think about the anniversary of the invasion. Many are still glad that Saddam Hussein was taken off their backs.
Now let’s see the minuses touched on by Simpson:
The first thing that struck me about Baghdad when I saw it in April 2003, a few days after the fall of Saddam Hussein, was how poor it had become. I hadn't been allowed back there since 1991, after the first Gulf War.

The second thing I noticed was a real sense of foreboding, even among the people who greeted me effusively because they thought I was an American.

The streets of Baghdad were edgy and frightening, and they stank of sewage and uncollected rubbish.

I went to one of my favourite haunts, the ancient Mustansiriyah University beside the Tigris. There was a sudden outbreak of shooting across the river.

"Just people frightening off the looters," said my Iraqi producer. "But this is just the beginning of the trouble. You'll see."

Comforting thought

We stopped off at a shop I used to visit 12 years earlier. The owner was a clever, wary man from the Kurdish north who had never dared to criticise Saddam Hussein even when we had been alone.

"Thanks to God he is gone," said the shopkeeper now. "But you cannot expect to get rid of Saddam and find that everything is suddenly good. His mark will always be on this country."

Still, people did expect that things would slowly get better.

"At least," said a man I had known in the past, and who offered me a cup of sharp-tasting citrus tea, "the Americans will put us on our feet again".

It was a comforting thought. Things had been bad in Iraq throughout the period of UN sanctions: water shortages, power-cuts, inadequate hospitals, a collapsing transport system.

But it hasn't happened like that. The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), which ran the country under Paul Bremer, was almost ludicrously incompetent, wasting or misusing tens of millions of dollars.

Unknown amounts were stolen. In 2004 the CPA could not account for $9bn in Iraqi oil revenue.

Many Iraqis have been killed for failing to understand warnings

Despite the investment that has undoubtedly taken place, virtually all basic services are in a worse state now than they were before the invasion.

There is less clean water, less sewage control, less gas, less petrol, less power. Baghdad now has an average of only 5.8 hours of electricity a day. At present Iraq is producing 1.8 million barrels of oil a day; just before the invasion the figure was 2.5 million barrels a day.

Much of this isn't the fault of the coalition: power, water and oil are particular targets for the insurgents. But the failure of the coalition to protect these supplies makes people angry.

Whenever I drive through the streets of Baghdad now I am struck by the lack of building work.

Let me take you on a drive through the Baghdad streets. The first thing you'll notice is the traffic: one of the coalition's successes is the extent of car ownership, even if the shortage of fuel means there are queues half a mile long outside many petrol stations.

The second is the shops. They're full of goods nowadays, and plenty of people brave the possibility of car bombs to throng them.

Things are expensive and inflation is high. So is unemployment: perhaps above 50%. There is malnutrition, and the level of infant mortality is still disturbingly high. But in the cities, at any rate, most people seem to get by.

Abiding anger

What you don't see is building work. You would expect the capital city of a country which is undergoing a programme of major reconstruction to be full of cranes. It simply isn't happening. Baghdad is not being transformed; it's scarcely changed from the time of the first Gulf War, except for the buildings which the coalition bombed.

Building work is scarce: Baghdad is not being transformed

If you see a US patrol, you should brake sharply and keep away from it. The gunners on the vehicles kill people every day for getting too close to them. Every Iraqi has a horror story about a friend or relative who misunderstood an instruction, often in English, and was shot at.

Nowadays, though, people are terrified of crime. There have been more than 10,000 kidnappings, of which at least 1,000 ended in murder.

Having a good job is particularly dangerous. Kidnappers have attacked 76 schools, killing more than 300 schoolteachers in the process.

About 200 university lecturers have been murdered since the invasion. After the murder of a television boss a week ago, the journalists' union formally asked the government to allow journalists to carry weapons.

But there is a real, abiding anger that the richest nation on Earth should have taken over their country and made them even worse off in so many ways than they were before.
It isn’t quite balanced, but nothing else is to be expected of Simpleson (the one who referred to the London bombers as “misguided criminals”).

Sunday, March 19, 2006

BBC News spreads falsehood on French riot-causing contract

In Riots erupt after French protests, one can read the following.
Protesters are bitterly opposed to the new law, which allows employers to end job contracts for under-26s at any time during a two-year trial period without having to offer an explanation or give prior warning.
In the case of the contract ending during the first month, there is no prior warning; after the first month but before the sixth, there are two weeks’ warning; after the sixth month but before the end of the two years’ trial period, there is a month’s notice.

The French are already terribly disinformed about the contract and the BBC should avoid spreading falsehood on it, probably in order to justify the students’ irrational and unacceptable behaviour.

Monday, March 13, 2006

BBC News bias towards pro-abortion campaigners

In Abortion battle lines drawn in Mississippi, BBC News captions a photograph of anti-abortion protests as follows.
Pro-choice and anti-abortion campaigners at a demonstration in South Dakota where most abortions have been banned
The BBC refers to pro-abortion activists as they refer to themselves, that is, “pro-choice”, a loaded term implying the negative opposite “anti-choice” — sounds repressive, doesn’t it? If it refers to pro-abortion campaigners as “pro-choice”, why does it not refer to anti-abortion activists as “pro-life”, as they call themselves?

BBC News quotes Iran press omitting state control

BBC News features an aggregation of the Iranian press’s reaction to the IAEA decision to reports concerns about Iran to the UN Security Council. Among the newspapers quoted are Jomhuri-ye-Eslami, considered a mouthpiece of the fundamentalist Islamic Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, al-Vefagh, produced by the official news agency of Iran, the Islamic Republic News Agency, Kayhan, published under the supervision of the Office of the Supreme Leader, Tehran Times, which has a record of publishing anti-Semitic articles[1] and Resalat, considered a hardline newspaper. Additionally, all media in Iran must be approved by the Ministry of Islamic Guidance. Could the BBC not at least point this out?

1. See articles at ADL website, Jihad Watch and Nikoed Nederland.

BBC News doesn’t report French left-wing students’ violence

In Labour law to stay, says Villepin, one can read the following.
The unrest reached a climax when riot police used force to evacuate students from Sorbonne university on Saturday.

Students launched protests in dozens of universities last week, culminating in a three-day sit-in at Paris's Sorbonne.

It ended when police stormed in in the early hours of Saturday morning with batons and tear gas, clearing the main building in less than 10 minutes.
Would it be too much to say that the students vandalised the Sorbonne before the riot police came, breaking windows, deteriorating amphitheatres and classrooms, damaging the furniture, burning books in the library and gratuitously ransacking the academic right-wing union’s office, burning the entirety of the documents there?
The First Employment Contract (CPE) is a two-year contract for under-26-year-olds which employers can break off at any time without explanation.
BBC News could at least add that there are compensation and one month’s notice, two facts that the French Left also prefers to leave out when spreading disinformation campaign against the contract.
Some students accused the police of unnecessary violence, and student union leaders said it could escalate the dispute.

"If the government wants to continue using force... then we are heading towards a serious conflict," said Bruno Julliard, president of students' union UNEF.
Could the BBC not speak of the two students who attempted to enter their university, with one getting beaten up by far left militants, the other ending up in hospital after having her wheelchair pushed by a group of activists?

The BBC considers Mao a ‘hero’

In China mulls Mao banknote change, one can read the following lead paragraph.
China may remove Mao Zedong's image from its mixed range of banknotes to make room for other heroes, according to the state media.
Mao Zedong is to be considered among “heroes”? Is that the same Mao Zedong whose government policy caused the death of several tens of millions of Chinese (from 29 million to around 70 million, claim various sources)?

One could be led to believe that it is the state media which refers to Mao as a hero, but neither Xinhua, the government’s official press agency, nor the People’s Daily, the Communist Party of China’s official newspaper, consider Mao a hero among others.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Iraq not ‘a mess’ because minister says so

BBC News has published the story Minister admits Iraq is 'a mess', of which even the title reeks of bias: the use of the term admits implies that Iraq is “a mess”, that this is fact and not Kim Howells’s opinion. The BBC should have worded the title as has Iraq a mess, says minister Howells. The latter title in no way implies that Iraq is “a mess” and makes it clear that it is minister Howells’s opinion.

Besides, why does BBC News report on the mental scars of war, supposed drift towards civil war and the increase in Iraqi rights abuses, and not on the positive stories such as the fact that it was the Iraqi army that kept peace on the streets?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

BBC quotes PA statistic without attribution

In the BBC News article World Bank aid for Palestinians, one can read the following.
As many as one in four Palestinians depend on wages from the Palestinian Authority.
Where did the BBC obtain that figure? From an employee of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, who depends on wages from the Palestinian Authority; the government itself isn’t the most unbiased source on the issue of aid to Palestinians, is it?

BBC blind to reasons for which Europeans alienate Muslims

BBC News has published an article entitled Europe's angry young Muslims, in which one can read the following.
Europe is home to a new generation of alienated young Muslims whose anger may turn to radicalism, the BBC's Islamic affairs analyst Roger Hardy finds in new three-part series.

Voices of alienation

Is a new angry, alienated generation of European Muslims now being drawn to radicalism?
How typical of the BBC to speak of the “alienation” of European Muslims and to ask the opinion of several young smiling “moderates” (one of them asking: “When was the last time Muslims were shown in a positive light?” How about: “The last time the BBC updated its website”?), turning a blind eye on the reasons for which they are alienated.

In the article, the example of France is given.
In the suburbs on the northern rim of the French capital, I found young Muslims, from Arab and African families, who feel excluded by the French state.

When during the riots President Chirac belatedly intervened, telling the people of the suburbs they were all sons and daughters of the French republic, many of them saw it as a bad joke.

France, unlike Britain, tries to keep religion out of public life. Everyone is supposed to be equal, regardless of cultural background.

Try telling that to Ali, who is 24 and unemployed.

"France has betrayed the young people of the suburbs. When you're called Ali you can't get a job. The French don't accept Islam. Politicians promise us mosques and so on, but at the same time they smear us and call us terrorists."
How about asking some of the French why they are hostile to Muslims? Could it be due to the gang rapes, the vandalism and so on? I heard a French taxi driver on television the other day say that he no longer took Muslims, because he was exasperated that they didn’t pay the fee. As much as the BBC would like it not to be the case, the alienation of European Muslims has been brought upon them because of the behaviour of some of the community’s members, not because Europeans are intrinsically bigoted.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

BBC News stealth-edit

The article Israel 'to make more withdrawals' has been stealth-edited (that is, modified without an updated timestamp).