Posts Tagged ‘BBC’

As mentioned in recent post, I have a tattoo on my wrist now that reads: Arcum tenderi Vertatum Dicere. It’s there to remind me as I work that writing true is a responsibility whether I’m writing fact or fiction.

Or even news.

There are rules to journalism, but once again a story from the BBC indicates that a rocko-socko headline, no matter how ridiculous, takes precedent.

Puts me in mind of a bit of Evelyn Waugh verse:

You cannot hope
to bribe or twist,
thank God! the
British journalist.

But, seeing what
the man will do
unbribed, there’s
no occasion to.

The headline that has me on this rant this morning?

Large waist size linked to ‘higher risk of death’

I’m not bothering to mention how annoying I find the BBC’s “compulsion” to wrap quotation marks around “random words” in headlines, as if “qualifying” their “shouts” makes them “less accountable” for “poor choices” and “lazy editing”, although I do find it “very annoying”.

What’s bugging me is the “higher risk of death” thing heading the piece and much of the copy that follows:

… very high waist measurements equivalent to UK size 24-26 in women and XXXXL in men appear to double the risk of mortality.

The study featured was conducted over a nine year period, so the research counted how many involved died over those years. Fine. There’s some science in that. So can we not be shouting from the rooftops that some folks have a “higher risk of death” than others?

Okay. I do understand that what they are trying to say is that obesity is known to cause health issues that may end up being the cause of death … perhaps “premature” death, meaning that extremely fat folks might live longer if they dropped tonnage.

BUT … that not what they write. Well … not until you crawl down the page a bit and fill in some of the blanks, and it becomes the reader’s job to figure out what the heck instead of the writer’s responsibility to clearly report what the heck.

Let’s get something straight … everyone dies, and everyone dies once, so there is no possibility of “doubling the risk of mortality”, at least not until someone gets a handle on that immortality thing and is able to put it on the market.

As ‘infotainment” contaminates more corners of journalism and consumers of “news” are dumbed down daily … outFoxed? … those who see the difference between reporting and appealing, enlightening vs entertaining, sense and sensationalism, should bust the chops of anyone paid to post pap and remind them that when they don’t understand what they’re writing about to ask more questions, because not doing so and simply writing what scans results in a “higher risk of disparagement”.

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How 'annoying'

Like millions these days, I go to my computer for news of the world. I have the great good fortune of not having access to Fox News, and although Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation does air five minutes in English every day, I don’t usually bother tuning in.

No longer the news junkie I once was … I made my living off TV news for a number of years and was hooked on the stuff … I’m no longer compelled to spend hours ingesting, then digesting every horror on the planet, but I do like to keep myself somewhat informed on events, trends and whatever rash of silliness breaks out in the mass media.

When Kokonet … my ISP that is actually not two fuzzy nuts connected by a string to a bike Gilligan pedals, but might as well be … allows a reasonably stable Internet connection, I hit news pages and glean.

One site that pops in front of me regularly is the BBC. With less glitz than CNN, and less substance than the newspapers, it offers up the predigested easily and, once one twigs to the inherent bias, the information there can be a good jumping-in point. I lived in the UK long enough to be have some interest in the country’s politics, and the slant on news from the US can convey a broader picture than is possible from the homegrown variety of blather.

I just wish they’d stop with the perpetual equivocation.

So many headlines on the BBC webpage hedge bets by putting some portion in quotes … or inverted commas, as the Brits say.

Lady Gaga ‘collapses’ before gig


Okay … maybe "collapse" is too strong a word for a circumstance the Lady herself describes thusly: "An hour before the show I was feeling dizzy and having trouble breathing … "

So, why doesn't the BBC just use words that would not require the ambiguity of quotes? How about, "Lady Gaga Concert Canceled Due to Ill Health"?

‘Police cancel’ China gay pageant

Did they, or didn’t they? Was it the police, or just some guys that may have been police? If the police DID cancel, what’s wrong with saying that?

And …

‘Three killed’ by Pakistan drone

What the ‘fuck’ are the ‘quotes’ for in this ‘headline’?

Okay. Rant over.

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If you were in charge, what would you do if you came across a dude who is known to have run camps that kidnapped kids, then trained them to be soldiers? Not just one camp, but seven of them. Keep in mind that this would be in Africa, the guy’s nickname is “the Terminator”, and he is on the UN war crimes list as a wanted man.

According to the BBC, what the UN has done is given him a job.

An indicted war criminal is playing a leading role in the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to documents seen by the BBC.

A Congolese army paper suggests ex-rebel leader Gen Bosco Ntaganda has a major part in the command chain, says a BBC correspondent in the country.

The UN-Congolese force is fighting Hutu rebels in the eastern DR Congo.

Well, that’ll teach him.

On the off chance that you’re not familiar with the plight of children taken for soldiering in the DRC, this report from Amnesty International gives a taste. Here’s just a tiny bit of the intro:

Seven years of almost continuous war in the Democratic Republic of Congo ( DRC) have led to the death of over three million people since 1998 alone, most of them civilian men, women and children. Tens of thousands of women have been raped. Countless acts of torture have been reported. Fleeing the conflict, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been driven from their home into neighbouring countries or other parts of the DRC. Many have died from malnutrition and lack of access to humanitarian assistance. Up to two million people have been internally displaced, including 400,000 children displaced from their homes. This is not a war in which civilians have been the unfortunate victims of ‘collateral damage’, but one in which they have been unremittingly and remorselessly targeted. Death and intense suffering have become the daily fabric of Congolese lives. The conflict has also been marked by the widespread use of children as combatants by all parties. The DRC is currently one of the countries of the world with the largest number of child soldiers.

Read the full report if you have the heart.

The UN is denying that the Terminator is on the payroll … they would, wouldn’t they? … but apparently Human Rights Watch isn’t buying it

“We are very worried by this information and it seems to us that the United Nations is acting like an ostrich with its head in the sand,” Anneke Van Woudenberg, the group’s senior researcher on DR Congo, told the BBC.

“It’s time now this is addressed head on. Rather than denying or ignoring the role being played by Bosco Ntaganda, the UN should be actively seeking his arrest and transferring him to The Hague.”

Well, yeah, although ostrich is not what comes to my mind. I doubt very much that this is a case of not knowing, or even of pretending not to know, but rather out-and-out lying when facts are brought from the gloom of shady dealing into the bright light of a world paying attention.

Where the PR machine spins this one is anybody’s guess, but I am hoping the story doesn’t die on the BBC vine, especially when the UN’s public defense so far comes down to a UN spokesman’s sorry comeback:

“Bosco Ntaganda’s name does not appear on that document, so we have from our Congolese counterparts an assurance that he is not part of the command.”

Well, then … job over, hey, Buddy?

If the United Nations designed dildos, they would all be one inch long, as thick as a toothpick, made from Silly Putty and would just lay there, but they would be a pretty baby blue … and would cost $1 million each.

And, yeah, that’s a statement on expensive impotence.

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When it comes to news sources, I use many. From the Huffington Post (a fabulous online publication with the good sense to employ my brilliant niece), to the Adoption Institute, from the the BBC to CNN and back again, there’s a world of info at our fingertips, and anything that must be known can … with a good salt shaker in hand, some common sense and a willingness to learn and listen carefully.

That said, I must admit that one of my daily “must reads” has little to do with learning, but everything to do with a shaker full and common sense.

Yes, that would be The Onion … the premier site for satire dressed in news clothing, and every bit as biting as such an animal should be.

Take, for example, this article, titled: Study: 38 Percent Of People Not Actually Entitled To Their Opinion.

Now if it’s not a sticky bit from my own brain extrapolated out into three paragraphs of undiluted poetic slap-upside-the-head-with-a-sackfull-of-nickels!

In a surprising refutation of the conventional wisdom on opinion entitlement, a study conducted by the University of Chicago’s School for Behavioral Science concluded that more than one-third of the U.S. population is neither entitled nor qualified to have opinions.

Well … yeah …

Living internationally, as I do, I personally wouldn’t limit the “study results” to Americans, but since The Onion is US based, I’ll leave them to it.

Read it and weep … and laugh … and question just about everything about the world making any sense at all.

And … when you’re done … eat a piece of my history with this vid of the Byrds, recalled with fondness — the moment I saw it can be placed in context — doing a TV version of bible verses with “Turn Turn Turn”.

Enjoy …

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"Democratic" Republic of Congo © BBCGetting back into writing on issues of the world’s children, I’m struck this morning by a story the BBC is running today on the present state of affairs in the euphemistically named Democratic Republic of Congo.

Anyone who has been paying any attention at all is aware that, like the ongoing situation in Sudan, the DRC is a mess in large areas of the country and has been for years.

Of course, the children get the short end of the stick … or the sharp end, as is very often the case … and if you can stomach it, you can watch a vid on the page that illustrates the point.

This is NOT news … well, not to me. But it does seem to come as a surprise … surprise, surprise … to the UN.

Good old Ban Ki-moon is doing the usual Sec. Gen. tap dance thing of announcing a report … 28 pages of a report … that expresses concern.

Big whip! And SO too little and too late.

In his 28-page report for the UN Security Council, Mr Ban says the human rights situation in DR Congo is a “cause for grave concern”.

He states that elements of the Congolese army and national police “were responsible for a large number of serious human rights violations during the reporting period, namely arbitrary executions, rape, torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”.

Rebels, including Gen Nkunda’s Tutsi CNDP and the Rwandan Hutu FDLR militia – some of whose fighters are believed to have taken part in the 1994 Rwandan genocide – are meanwhile accused of perpetrating “serious human rights abuses with impunity”.

These include “mass killings, torture, abductions, forced recruitment of children, forced displacement and destruction of [refugee] camps, force labour, sexual violence”, the report adds.

The Congolese national civilian and military intelligence services are also accused of making arbitrary arrests, followed by “torture and extortion”.

Do I hear a “duh” resounding?

The Security Council did just approve sending another 3,000 “peacekeepers” to an area that has seen somewhere around a quarter of a million people displaced … no one knows how many are dead, so don’t need to bother with becoming refugees … so, gee, that should make a big diff. Or not.

Once again, I’m forced to harp on the useless of the UN and wonder how many children who have been orphaned, tortured, raped, pressed into soldiering, prostitution, starvation or other horrors most would rather not think about.

I’ll also drop in a bit about the impossibility of offering any of these children a family while I again wonder about the segment of the world that considers international adoption a bad thing … cultural genocide that robs a child of their birthright to die in the country that bred them.

Gee. Why is this a one-note song?

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Warping children for war

A couple of items in the news recently have me lingering on the edge of despair, wondering if there is any hope at all for a world fit to live in.

First was a report I caught the end of on the BBC about how children in Gaza were handing out sweets in celebration of the suicide bombings in Israel that managed to blow some people to bits.

Then, this morning a brought this, complete with video, from an Al-Qaeda training school that teaches little boys how to be terrorists.

Also in the news, a Khmer Rouge leader asking to be released on bailBrother Number Two, nonetheless.

All three of these are stories of child abuse, yet none are thought to be so in the minds of many.

Although Nuon Chea was a grown man at the time he participated in masterminding the murders of almost two million Cambodians, it was children in the country he turned to for the hands-on, get-their-backs-into-it killing, and the success of getting the kids involved hasn’t been forgotten.

“Lord of the Flies” is terrifying enough as a novel, but when the same inclinations that can take a group of boys from manners to mayhem completely on their own are guided with intent, and armed to the teeth, sinister and sordid no longer fit as descriptive terms, and cultural boundaries should not be allowed to come between kids and their right to be protected from the sort of horrors they are being inducted into.

There is nothing natural about a child feeling joy over death and destruction as a matter of choice, and a process that teaches this reaction to pain and suffering is wrong … just plain wrong. Getting them to cause the pain and suffering is not only wrong, but criminally so, and anyone perpetuating a system of hand-me-down terrorism should be subject to punishment.

Anyone inclined to agree with children being intentionally involved in the horrors grownups create has been warped beyond redemption, and unfortunately, this may also be so for the children at their mercy.

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