Talking points 31 July

Good morning, good evening and good night,

Thank you Will for moderating overnight. Who wants to do it tonight? Let us know.

A couple of stories struck me this morning as I decided what to wear…

The outgoing head of UN peacekeeping has said that the UN has “reached the outer limits of its ability to police world trouble spots”

They say they’ll never be able to put together a force for Somalia and the one for Darfur is struggling. There have been plenty of scandals involving UN forces recently, and a fair few nasty conflicts where peacekeepers weren’t exactly useful…
This article defends the job that the blue helmets do…

Resolutions condemning this that or the other are made but often ignored, that is if you can even get one passed…

So what is the point of the UN? Is it time we stopped expecting the UN to make a difference?
Should we expect nothing from the UN?


You’ve been talking about it overnight, the BBC was fined for faking call-in programmes, they weren’t the only British broadcaster to do so either. Everyone was at it.

Nelson wanted to ask: Is the BBC impartial?

Well Nelson, the BBC charter says we have to be… But Mark the Editor raised an interesting point this morning: he has been accused in the past of being anti-semitic, anti American, a Zionist… and so on. So which is he? It depends on who is accusing him I suppose.

So is the BBC impartial? Is Fox news or Sky news impartial? In fact, are any of the newspapers you read impartial?

Yesterday I was reading the Times, which increasingly wears its politics on it’s sleeve… most papers here do. So how can I believe anything I read? The same story can be positive or negative depending on how you look at it.

So are journalists ever impartial? Would you prefer to know what journalists views are?

Is it time for the BBC to drop the impartiality?


On average, it can take up to 24 hours for sites like YouTube to take down child abuse images of its site, according to a government report in the UK.

Is this good enough? Is it time for the web to be policed more ‘proactively’, or is this censorship?

Does YouTube have a dark side?


Last night I had a chat with Lydia, who is keen to talk about the way women give birth… in many countries, there isn’t much choice, home births without medical help are the norm, or if hospitals are involved they lack basic resources, be it Bosnia or the UK. In the US, doctors want all births to be in hospital, while the World Health Orgnaisation is concerned at how clinical the procedure is becoming.

Is the birth of a child not being given the care and attention it deserves? And who knows better, medical professionals or mothers?

91 Responses to “Talking points 31 July”

  1. 1 Dennis
    July 30, 2008 at 19:43

    Hi Will…

    What happend, another night editor job…

    i hope we can find some stories for the


  2. 2 Dennis
    July 30, 2008 at 19:45

    i have a story for everyone, karazdic has arrived in the hague…i thought he was going to fight his extradition to the hague in the netherlands…


  3. 3 nelsoni
    July 30, 2008 at 19:48

    Hi Every One,

    Hello Will, Welcome to the Night Editor’s desk.

    When is it time to quit?

    Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced todayhe will be leaving office in two months time with a cloud of corruption allegations hanging over him.

    Why did he have to wait until now to do the honorable thing? This Mirrors the attitude of may leaders cutting across various spheres of life.

    Another story of Interest

    How is it possible to hide illiteracy in the corporate world? The business woman with a 40-year old secret finally learns to read and write. Are there others?

  4. 4 Katharina in Ghent
    July 30, 2008 at 19:52

    Hi everyone,

    We haven’t talked about Zimbabwe in at least 2 days, this latest bit of news is just to show how grim the situation there is:


    The Zimbabwean government is going to issue a new “currency” by deleting 10 zeros from its bills. Be sure to watch the footage, it really gives you a sense of the desperation there.

    It’s really sad, the Zimbabweans were this close to rid of Mugabe peacefully and within the constitution.

  5. 5 Dennis
    July 30, 2008 at 19:55

    I saw the lady in the United Kingdom, who was until not able to read or write…

    She is an inspiring woman [and for men who are unable to read]…i was one of them to a point in my early life.


  6. 6 steve
    July 30, 2008 at 19:58


    Bill proposed to end criminal penalties for marijuane use/possession of less than 100g.

    No chance in hell of being passed, but interesting that it was suggested

  7. 7 Mohammed Ali
    July 30, 2008 at 19:58

    Hi Will, thanks for the teaching. @nelsoni, at least the Israeli Prime Minister has thought about resignation because of this corruption allegation. That shows some degree of accountability and responsibility to the people. I wonder how many African leaders will ever think about resignation when they are accused of corruption or other acts incompartible with the position they hold? Maybe not more than two, if any.

  8. 8 Dennis
    July 30, 2008 at 20:03

    How many ZEROS [0] will it take before the people in Zimbabwe, will raise against the Regime of Robert Mugabe, and have him removed from office…

    About the story about marijuana, the chance of it happening is about ZERO chance…

    Ehud Olmert, will be resigning–that is nice..in 2 months time-why the big time difference..

    Syracuse, New York
    United States of America

  9. 9 nelsoni
    July 30, 2008 at 20:07

    @ Katharina in Ghent
    July 30, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    Hello Katharina, The International News media has ended it’s infatuation with Zimbabwe and has moved on so it’s not headline News any more. Let see how the quiet diplomacy plays out. And so for the currency change it is like trying to quench an inferno with a toy water gun.

  10. 10 Mohammed Ali
    July 30, 2008 at 20:15

    @katharina in Ghent, Mugabe has made every Zimbabwean a billionaire who can before to eat. Probably Zimbabwe has more billionaires than the rest of the world put together. Maybe in fact the majority are trillionaires. That’s the trait of an African leader, ‘let the majority suffer while the few boot kickers enjoy’.

  11. 11 Will Rhodes
    July 30, 2008 at 20:16

    Hello, good evening and welcome!

    Sorry I am a bit late but something came up as it always does in the real world.

    Something caught my eye today which I find very relevant to both the rich and the poor countries.

    British Gas (natural not petrol) raised its prices by 35%:

    British Gas owner Centrica says it is raising gas prices by a record 35% and electricity prices by 9%.

    The UK’s biggest domestic energy supplier said that the price hikes would take place with immediate effect.

    It blamed “soaring wholesale energy prices”, but added that standard tariff prices would not rise again in 2008.

    Is there any real justification for price rises such as this and how will it effect the poor? This doesn’t have to be a discussion just about the British price rise – how is prices rises effecting you and your country’s economy and people?

  12. July 30, 2008 at 20:18

    About the marijuana proposal… it does seem very confusing that there are millions of people using marijuana in the U.S., and yet BILLIONS of dollars are spent yearly policing and punishing suppliers and users.

    Marijuana is ubiqitous in the States for fifty years. I don’t understand what the point of this war against what the people want has done for us as a country of free men and women.

  13. 14 Anthony
    July 30, 2008 at 20:36

    Are there any good reasons besides “it’s a gateway drug”, to keep Marijuana illegal???

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  14. 15 Nick in USA
    July 30, 2008 at 20:37

    @ Steve

    Well, it probably has no chance of passing, but it’s interesting that someone brought it to the forefront. I had a lot of potsmoking buddies in highschool and they would always talk about how marijuana was about to be legalized. Here we are 10 years later. I think of the marijuana laws as a tax. It’s like revenue for the government. Pull someone over, fine them, send them on their way. Why would the government ever give that up?

    On the other hand, if alcohol is legal, then marijuana should also be legal. The effects of alcohol on the body are far worse than the effects of marijuana. Marijuana could also be a really profitable industry for the states if it were to become legal. We would be able to make countless hemp products. I would rather not have to deal with stoned hippies everywhere I go though.

  15. 16 Jens
    July 30, 2008 at 20:41


    now that is something worthwhile discussing.

    i just do not get the boobmania.

  16. 17 Mohammed Ali
    July 30, 2008 at 20:42

    @gas price, this is nothing but a ploy to further exploit the poor and make the rich riches.

  17. 18 Jens
    July 30, 2008 at 20:44


    i like how oil and gas are always lumped into the same category. there is no reason for natural gas prices to go up, because oil does. these are two different commodeties. saying that wood prices have gone crazy because oil has, and the suppliers know they can screw us for it…..

  18. 19 Nick in USA
    July 30, 2008 at 20:59

    @ Jens

    I agree. Keira Knightley is super hot. Fake boobies would just make her gross. I can’t see how someone would want to risk their life for something so superficial.

  19. 20 nelsoni
    July 30, 2008 at 21:02

    @ Jens
    July 30, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    At least it’s far cheaper doing it from the photo than in real life

  20. 21 Will Rhodes
    July 30, 2008 at 21:04

    Jens –

    I completely agree with you.

    What irks me with this is that the government allow it. The British poor are no where near as poor as some around the world this is a fact. But as is always the case it will be the poor who pay the real cost.

  21. 22 Venessa
    July 30, 2008 at 21:07

    Jens ~

    I agree with you too. Thank goodness my husband & I will be off oil heat before winter this year! We’re finally moving to an alternative energy.

  22. 23 Mohammed Ali
    July 30, 2008 at 21:10

    @Jens, that will cause the less in production than having all of those artificial make ups.

  23. 24 Jens
    July 30, 2008 at 21:26

    Well, my point is why should one be forced to conform to the hollywood boob standart (HBS). hell she is really good looking the way she is and i think she would actually lose some of her looks with silicone. plus i am sure people will go and see the movie because of her and not the size of her cleavage. but then maybe i am bias becaus i am not obsessed with cup size.


    what are you opting for? we fire almost exclusivly with wood, although we use propane for our back-up and water heat. depending on how long we stay here i am going to convert the water to solar and the heat to electric, since we are getting 90% of our electric from wind power.

  24. 25 Mohammed Ali
    July 30, 2008 at 21:31

    @all WHYSers, is there anything called ‘Honest Error?’ The chairman of the National Investment Commission (NIC) Liberia gave a multi million dollar company, Buchanan Renewable Energy, a 100% tax waiver for 5 years something that is clearly beyond his jurisdiction. The company is investing some US $150 Million over ten years. When called upon by the legislature to reasons for the tax waiver, he (the NIC Chairman) said it was a way of encouraging other investors in the country. When pressed by the legislature, he admitted to making an error but said it was an ‘Honest Error’.

  25. 26 Shirley
    July 30, 2008 at 21:34

    If marijuana were legalised tomorrow, would the makers reduce the concentrations by which they make it? It is so much more concentrated now than it was in the 60’s. Thoughts?

    It’s strange. For all that certain plants have medicinal effects, no pharmeceutical company has any interest in doing studies on them; and the FDA has no interest in regulating them. If we were to learn how to use plants as medicinals, the pharmeceutical companies woudl be reduced to producing medicines that are unavailable in plants, either intriniscally or by way of concentrations. And then, of course, we have the outright banning of that one famous plant that is associated with certain people.

  26. 27 Anthony
    July 30, 2008 at 21:36

    KARL ROVE!!!

    So he has been cited for failing to appear at the ” The Bush administration is evil” hearing. The Republicans are saying that the Dem’s are wasting time on a “witch hunt”. The Dem’s are saying the republicans need to pay for their shady dealings. I agree that some people should get in trouble for their lying and legal theft.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

    p.s. Why does McCain put an “R” in “WaRshington”?

  27. 28 Mohammed Ali
    July 30, 2008 at 21:37

    Liberia needs every single penny for the country’s recovery process from a decade and a half long civil war that caused untold sufferings and destructions on Liberia and its people. So what constitutes an honest error?

  28. 29 Julie P
    July 30, 2008 at 21:38


    That’s a pretty big ‘honest error’. Frankly, I’m too cynical to believe someone could make an ‘honest error’ that size, especially someone of his stature.

  29. 30 Jens
    July 30, 2008 at 21:46


    drugs are also a matter of purity and concentrations and do not forget that the worlds most fameouse drug, aspirin, is a drug discovered in plants and synthesized by bayer…..

    the purity and concentartion will depend on grower and location. some plants grow well at high altitued and high sun, while they will do poorly in rainy parts of the country.

  30. July 30, 2008 at 21:46

    Shirley about marijuana,
    Sure marijuana is stronger now in an overall way. But, what this means to the user is that it smells much better, and you use much less to get the same effect. Pot smokers today aren’t higher now than they were in the 60’s and 70’s.

  31. 32 Nick in USA
    July 30, 2008 at 21:50

    Well, giving a tax break to a renewable energy company probably wasn’t the worst error in history. Bringing renewable energy to a place like liberia could really do wonders for the people.

  32. 33 Anthony
    July 30, 2008 at 21:53

    @ portlandmike

    I don’t know when’s the last time you smoked, but there is better “weed” with different highs. If you smoke some “Shwag” (or low grade stuff, like from the 60’s and 70’s ) people will say its more of a “dirty high”, and not that good, more “stoned”. The “medical” is more of a “clear” high, where you can be more active. If you smoke some “Kush” (really, really good stuff), that will give you a more trippy kinda high. So there is quite a difference over quality and quantity.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  33. 34 Venessa
    July 30, 2008 at 22:06

    Jens ~

    We are going to use solar and a hydronic air handler. Geothermal has been our ultimate goal but has proved to be difficult to find someone to install the ground loops in the city (via drilling down). It’s been 2 years of pulling our hair out to find an alternative that will be cost effective. We haven’t finalized everything yet but my fingers are crossed that we finally have a viable solution.

  34. 35 Mohammed Ali
    July 30, 2008 at 22:08

    @Nick in the USA, it is not the worst error, but a 100% tax waiver in Liberia can be done only with the consent of the legislature. The NIC Chairman doesn’t have that power.

  35. July 30, 2008 at 22:16

    “Dirty high,” “clear high,” “trippy kinda high,” these are purely subjective terms. What Shirley is refering to is the higher THC content of much of todays pot, than the marijuana of the past.

    Users of today aren’t any higher than users of the decades past.

  36. 37 Anthony
    July 30, 2008 at 22:24

    @ Portlandmike & Shirley

    OK, let me re-phrase. The Marijuana of today gives you a MUCH more euphoric experience than the Marijuana of the 60’s and 70’s.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  37. 38 Julie P
    July 30, 2008 at 22:27

    Here’s something that I would like to rant about. I consider myself reasonably wise to the cloning world of credit/debit cards, until today I have been successful at not having any of my cards cloned. While I work today I got a high priority from my bank that there was unusual activity with my checking account, please call them immediately. I called them and checked my account at the same time. Sure enough there was a theft of $300 from checking account. Now, I don’t use ATMs, and I go the same businesses day in and day out because I can see what is going on. I never a saw a cloning device anywhere and my card never left my sight. What are the new cloning techniques?

    By the way, my bank believed and debited my checking account for the amount of money stolen.

  38. 39 Will Rhodes
    July 30, 2008 at 22:31

    Are you sure it was your bank who called you, Julie?


    Vishing is a new scam being operated. So please beware!

  39. 40 Julie P
    July 30, 2008 at 22:38

    Yes, Will, it was my bank. By the time I got to the local branch my card had been closed and they issued me a new one right there on the spot.

  40. 41 Dennis
    July 30, 2008 at 22:43

    Hi Will….
    Re: Julie P

    I hope everything is OK with you regarding your bank problems….

    For Will, From earlier this month, i do have an atm card and
    thanks for warning us….

    Syracuse, New York
    United States of America

  41. 42 Julie P
    July 30, 2008 at 22:53


    Thanks. The bank has a lot of security set up. When you call in there are a myriad of security questions set up. Since I was the one to set the answers, initially I chose answers that only I could answer. Since I have Polish ancestory all of my anwers are in Polish. I had teach the other person on the other end of the line Polish. They also had so much information on my spending habits, including the way I take my coffee, I knew it was them. They had my three previous employers listed and grilled me about them. Hell, I could barely remember one of my former employers.

  42. 43 Shirley
    July 30, 2008 at 23:25

    One of my relatives is descended from English immigrants. Either the fatehr or the grandfather was British. That relative and all of the children share the same pronunciation quirks as John McCain. I hear things like waRsh all of the time.

  43. 44 Bryan
    July 30, 2008 at 23:33

    nelsoni July 30, 2008 at 7:48 pm,

    Mohammed Ali July 30, 2008 at 7:58 pm,

    Agreed. Olmert should have stepped down the moment he was under investigation.
    That would have been the honourable thing to do. Now that he’s tlking about no longer being prime minister at this late stage, it’s a lot less impressive. Well, at least there is a democracy in Israel.

    Might be a good talking point to consider the quality of leaders in today’s world. Are there any true statesmen, people of integrity? I can’t think of any.

  44. 45 Dennis
    July 30, 2008 at 23:42

    @ Julie,

    Not very bright idea, i hope you got a
    easy pass-word for the bank….

    At least your bank, return the money….

    Syracuse, New York
    United States of America

  45. July 30, 2008 at 23:55

    @Bryan, the fact that Olmert has now done what if should have done earlier still shows some respect for the rule of law and the will of the people. It is better late than never. Even that is unimaginable in most african countries.

  46. 47 Julie P
    July 31, 2008 at 00:15


    It’s a great idea. Not everything is in Polish, but a lot of it is. It helps me screen them too. The usual questions are: what is your mother’s maiden name, what city did you have your first job in, what is the name of your first dog, and the like. If there is anyone around you who wants you have, it wouldn’t be anything for them to know this kind of information. There are theives in this world and one of them may be someone you trust. I won’t have security questions like that. Furthermore, when I call my bank, or they call, there is information that only the two of us have. I don’t give out general information answers, that includes my car insurance company. I keep it tough and I keep it tough for a reason. I’ve dealt with security and fraud departments in the past. I want my stuff secure and this is one of doing it. My password for the bank is one that is easy to remember, but the spelling on it is unusual.

  47. 48 Shirley
    July 31, 2008 at 00:35

    But doesn’t the higher concentration make it more dangerous? Or does the danger come form the fact that no-one really knows what the preparer mixed it with?

  48. 50 Julie P
    July 31, 2008 at 00:47


    I can only speak for myself on something like, which is a game of chance that I have never played. I live by the ideal that if you want something, then it is best that you get yourself. Life doesn’t offer free rides or free lunches. I don’t gamble.

  49. 51 nelsoni
    July 31, 2008 at 01:00

    @ Julie P
    July 31, 2008 at 12:47 am

    I totally agree with you but I and no doubt millions of other people will have being very surprised that the BBC of all broadcasters would be involved in a phone in scam just like a few other media outlets in the UK . This is highly embarrassing and the person or persons responsible should do the Honorable thing ..

  50. 52 Will Rhodes
    July 31, 2008 at 01:15


    President Bush has signed off a new law that triples America’s budget for fighting Aids and other diseases in Africa and the Caribbean.

    The new legislation increases US funds to combat Aids, malaria and tuberculosis to $48bn – up from $15bn.

    The new law also drops requirements for one-third of Aids funds to be spent promoting abstinence.

    Right or wrong?

  51. 53 Julie P
    July 31, 2008 at 01:22


    There have been game show scandals in the past. There was one during the 1950’s that was so bad it nearly ended the game show genre all together. The name of the show was “Quiz Show”, but I there were more. If you want to read up on it here is a link to it.


    It’s too bad what happened with the BBC. I believe someone needs to go to prison for that.

  52. 54 nelsoni
    July 31, 2008 at 01:33

    @ Julie P. Thanks for the link. It’s the same old scam with new tricks this time around. The BBC is a well funded organization and Ofcom has said neither the BBC nor its staff made any money from the scam. So who did? I agree with you. Some one has to take serious responsibility for this.

  53. 55 Julie P
    July 31, 2008 at 01:39


    I have no idea why people do some of the self destructive things they, but they do. One of my opinions is that it is selfishness, but in some cases I also think it is just the thrill of doing it and seeing if they can get away with it.

  54. 56 Jack Hughes
    July 31, 2008 at 01:47

    The dodgy phone-ins are the tip of the iceberg.

    Staff are now being trained in “honesty and integrity” as though these were brand-new concepts like a new type of microphone.

    Read more:


    “There is a tendency to ‘group think’ with too many staff inhabiting a shared space and comfort zone,” says the [impartiality] report.

    It goes on to highlight a “Roneo mentality” where staff ape each other’s common liberal values.

  55. 57 Tino
    July 31, 2008 at 01:54

    “But doesn’t the higher concentration make it more dangerous? Or does the danger come form the fact that no-one really knows what the preparer mixed it with?”

    I think this is an argument FOR legalization. Legal marijuana would need to have THC content reported, as nicotine is in cigs. It would have to be pure and such as well. Legalization would make a company or person selling it responsible for the content – which is obviously not the case right now.

    In addition, and I wasn’t alive back then so I do not know for sure, I doubt it it really much stronger. I also doubt, even if it is, that it makes much of a difference (agree with portlandmike here). Someone is going to smoke to a certain point regardless of strength, similar to drinking. 12 beers or 12 shots is equally potent in the end….

  56. 58 nelsoni
    July 31, 2008 at 02:09

    @ Jack Hughes. Many thanks for that link. That would make one of the most exciting topics ever on WHYS: is the BBC really impartial? You know what amazes me the BBC commissioned the report and accepted the findings. Is n’t that wonderful? I am very sure that link has provided ammunition for BBC bias campaigners on this blog. This is what we call freedom of the press. Do something wrong and hit your self hard on the head for it. Although Millions of people around the world still regard the BBC as a credible source of impartial information and that is not about to change any time soon.

  57. 59 Venessa
    July 31, 2008 at 02:16

    “The new law also drops requirements for one-third of Aids funds to be spent promoting abstinence. ”

    @ Will

    I have no problem with this and think it should be dropped. Funds are better spent on education and safety measures. Those safety measures taught would include abstinence and not from some moral, religious perspective but simply as another way to protect yourself. Right or wrong sex is sex and people will continue having it regardless of someone else’s desire to be the moral police.

  58. 60 Bob in Queensland
    July 31, 2008 at 03:20

    Good Morning All!

    Still reading through the overnight stuff and I have a few comments. However, one thing of possible interest has just come up.

    Anybody else heard of a new search engine called “Cuil” (pronounced cool). It’s been started by some ex Google employees and claims to have a bigger data base. More controversially, instead of just text results, they try to have a “richer search experience” by providing a picture or graphic for each site to help you decide which link to hit.

    I first experienced this when doing a search for a technician’s web site I visit (and moderate) called “The Blue Room”. Happily, a search for that shows our site as the top pick. Less happily, our picture is of a bedroom!

    However we do better than some. Doing some digging, I found an unfortunate US scientist whose web site is illustrated by a rather nasty example of explicit gay porn. (Don’t worry..I won’t link it!) Cuil have used the rather lame (and unlikely) excuse of server overload. I feel some lawsuits coming on!

  59. 61 Will Rhodes
    July 31, 2008 at 03:22

    Bob –

    I have used it a few times, and I must say it is in need of some work.

  60. 62 Shirley
    July 31, 2008 at 03:37

    AIDS Funding
    Will: The new law also drops requirements for one-third of Aids funds to be spent promoting abstinence.


  61. 63 Bob in Queensland
    July 31, 2008 at 03:38

    Re: Marijuana

    We’ve discussed this before but just to recap, my view is that it should be legalised. As others have said, worldwide billions are spent trying to fight its use and still millions of people vote with their wallets (and risk a criminal record) to keep buying it.

    Somebody asked if there are any reasons other than the “gateway drug” argument for it to be banned. For the sake of honesty, I know of two. In a very small number of people it can bring on psychotic episodes (though only in people predisposed anyway) and, like tobacco, the act of taking smoke into your lungs can’t be healthy. Some argue that it’s worse than tobacco because users try to hold the smoke in their lungs but, on the other hand, I doubt there would be many 60 a day marijuana smokers.

    As for the “gateway drug” argument, I believe that marijuana in itself is no more a gateway drug than beer. However, the current legal structure forces otherwise law abiding people into a shady world of criminal dealers. I’d wager that if you could buy marijuana at your liquor store the gateway argument would disappear instantly.

  62. 64 Dennis
    July 31, 2008 at 03:38

    @ Julie P:

    I also have the same problems, regarding my banking….
    Since being in Community College right now, i have just started
    this month….using an ATM card….it is very hard..

    Syracuse, New York

  63. 65 Dennis
    July 31, 2008 at 03:42

    Good Night, i have class in the morning….

    Syracuse, New York

  64. 66 Julie P
    July 31, 2008 at 03:48


    Hang in there; college is as much about perseverance as it is education. It took me seven years to get my bachelor degree. Sometimes it’s just one class at a time, or however many you can handle. The best thing to do while you are there is to stick with the winners.

    As for using ATM cards, I hope you have a good bank. I’ve been with mine for 22 years and I haven’t any problems with them. When there are problems they get taken care of quickly. We know each other pretty well. I’m even going to go out on a limb and say they know me better than my parents do!

  65. 68 Bob in Queensland
    July 31, 2008 at 05:47

    @ Jack Hughes and Nelsoni

    A couple of points about that BBC report.

    First, the link Jack provides is to a newspaper owned by the same company (read the same man: Rupert Murdoch) who owns both the Fox Network and the Sky satellite system in the UK. He has a vested interest in discrediting the BBC and has, for many years, been lobbying against it because his broadcast interests would stand to gain financially if they lost the BBC as competition. All of his British papers “BBC bash” frequently–and cross-promote his Sky channels equally frequently. All this happens without acknowledging any conflict of interest.

    Second, a different spin doctor could probably headline the same report as “BBC takes steps to ensure its impartiality” or some such other tosh. Personally, I think a lot of it is just PC rubbish, but the reality is, the mere fact that the BBC is commissioning research into its output shows they DO try be impartial even if they sometimes fail. This is more than any of Murdoch’s outlets do.

    Finally, the phone fine: this was endemic in all UK broadcasting. At least in the BBC’s case it was a mix of bad judgement and farming out their phone system to a third party supplier. The other networks were fined for out and out greed and fraud.

  66. 69 Bob in Queensland
    July 31, 2008 at 05:51

    @ Will Rhodes

    Thank goodness they’ve dropped the “abstinence” thing from AIDS funding. If ever there were a case of religious interference in a medical/political issue, this was it.

    The American government is lucky they don’t have the Turkish supreme court looking over their shoulders!

  67. 70 nelsoni
    July 31, 2008 at 07:28

    @ Bob in Queensland. Thats why I said the BBC still remains a credible and impartial source of news for millions world wide. I was watching Sky news yesterday. One of the presenters interviewed a Labor MP, from the way she interviewed him, it was very hard for me to tell if she was a journalist or an opposition member. So I’d agree with you.

  68. 71 Will Rhodes
    July 31, 2008 at 07:38

    I am away to bed – good discussion as always!


  69. 72 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 31, 2008 at 08:18

    Hi Bob, Wow, a discussion of the BBC stands unanswered by the customary gust of blather about how Fox really is better! Refreshing to see a flag waved without arousing the usual bull.

  70. 73 Bob in Queensland
    July 31, 2008 at 08:30

    Time zones, Jonathan. Time zones. Give it time!

  71. 74 Bob in Queensland
    July 31, 2008 at 11:04

    Regarding your new question on Youtube, I very much believe there is a dark side.

    A few years back when we had a teenage daughter in High School in the UK she was beaten up by bullies on the way home one evening. At least one person in the crowd watching (and that, in itself, is another topic) videoed the event and by that evening it was displayed on Youtube.

    The beating was bad enough that she had a couple of fractured ribs and we involved the police. However, despite that it took us a number of emails to Youtube and at least 48 hours to get them to pull it down. All this time it was there to remind our daughter of the pain–and to add to her embarrassment when she went back to school.

    During our searches for this particular video, we found at least 5 other instances of beatings at our daughter’s school alone. Lest you think this was some inner city sink-hole school, in fact it was one that consistently gets ranked in the UK’s top 100 state schools.

    So, yeah, Youtube has a dark side that actively encourages bullying and beatings.

  72. 75 Jack Hughes
    July 31, 2008 at 11:10


    It must be “Godwin’s Second Law” – in any discussion about broadcasting someone will eventually mention Fox News.

    It was, err, Bob who mentioned Fox first.

    It’s a bit disingenuous to try and smear the message with the “Murdoch” messenger bit – the quoted words are from the BBC’s report itself – try reading it. It mentions “roneo mentality” and “group-think”.

    One of the key points following on from the phone scams is that some 19,000 BBC employees needed “retraining in Trust”.

  73. 76 Bryan
    July 31, 2008 at 12:08

    Mohammed Ali July 30, 2008 at 11:55 pm,

    I agree with you. I should have expressed myself better in the last comment. it is almost unheard of for one of Africa’s strong men to step aside voluntarily. Mandela was an exception.

  74. 77 Bryan
    July 31, 2008 at 12:14

    Ain’t gonna make much progress promoting abstinence in Africa. It shouldn’t be A major focus of an AIDS programme. Also, rape is endemic in Africa, especially South Africa, to its great shame. The statistics are staggering.

  75. 78 Bryan
    July 31, 2008 at 12:15

    Meant to indicate that that last comment was in response to Will Rhodes July 31, 2008 at 1:15 am

  76. 79 Angela in Washington D.C.
    July 31, 2008 at 12:16

    I am not a huge fan of Fox News. However, I like to hear the more conservative views of Fox News and the more liberal views of CNN. Since I like to have a “fair and balanced” view.

  77. 80 Bob in Queensland
    July 31, 2008 at 12:22

    @ Jack Hughes

    Yup, I mentioned Murdoch first but I think it’s important to judge that report you posted with regard to the source. Rupert Murdoch has been openly lobbying for the end of public funding for the BBC for many years and he wastes no opportunity for the print media he owns to smear the BBC at every turn. His motives are not altruistic. He stands to earn a lot of money if the BBC is disbanded.

    My point about the Times story you posted (which incidentally is a year old) is that it’s important to note that the BBC themselves commissioned the report and, once in hand, acted upon it. That is not the action of an organisation that supports any institutionalised bias; rather it’s the action of a corporation that is concerned to check its performance and correct areas where there are mistakes. Any news story can be spun to reflect a particular editorial view…and this one was heavily spun to support Murdoch. I’d be very interested to read the ENTIRE report, not just the quotes in the Times, but so far I’ve not found it by Googling.

    As for the phone issue, I repeat what I said earlier. The OFCOM investigation came after several commercial channels were caught abusing phone ins FOR PROFIT. Problems were also found with the BBC but in their case there was no profit for the BBC. The phone issues there were down to poor judgement during live programmes plus some additional issues caused by subcontracting the operation of the phone in system to an outside company.

  78. 81 Shirley
    July 31, 2008 at 12:33

    Dwight, are you sure that they did not lose it because they used it as a pawn in a bad financial decision? Aren’t Extreme Makeover houses normally paid for in full or given away for free?

    The article that you linked to, by the way, writes more like an editorial than an informative news piece. I found an AP piece here: http://sg.news.yahoo.com/ap/20080729/ten-tv-extreme-makeover-foreclosure-5e343d7.html

  79. 82 Shirley
    July 31, 2008 at 12:37

    Media & Bias
    Angela, have you heard the WPFW radio station? I don’t know how well they have incorporated news programming into their schedule since changes in Pacifica programming a couple of years ago, but I would count it as liberal. CNN feels much more centrist than liberal to me.

  80. 83 Angela in Washington D.C.
    July 31, 2008 at 12:51


    I was comparing CNN to Fox News. I perfer to watch CNN but I usually get hooked to Fox. I think it is interesting to watch people who have completely different views. Similar to listening to Rush Limbaugh.

  81. 84 Andrew
    July 31, 2008 at 13:01

    We seem to have forgotten that the mass displays of communist triumph are so often ridiculed. North Korean excesses are an example, or the 1980 Moscow games. Though I bet the world will have warm fuzzy feelings about the Beijing games. Yet it can hardly be any less inspiring than were the examples I mentioned.

    The only difference is that this time it is about money. The Soviets or Koreans do not invest in the west nor did/do they supply cheap labor to make immense profits for western companies, the only reason we seem to support China.

    Maybe I am just too cynical for my own good, but once the games are over and the threat to the regime from new ideas and outside influences has ended, things will get back to how they always were. Communist rule but with a Gucci bag and shopping malls.

  82. 85 Dennis
    July 31, 2008 at 13:59

    About news and bias! I prefer to watch the European Broadcasters, such as Deutsche-Welle and or BBC….CNN in the United States

    Syracuse, NY

  83. 86 Shaun in Halifax
    July 31, 2008 at 14:29

    Hi everybody, and happy Wednesday to you. Apologies in advance for the length, but I love to make with the yak-yak

    There’s a billboard posted outside my office. It is a quote set down by a legendary newsman (in Canada at any rate) called Joseph Howe. It reads “When I sit down in solitude to the labours of my profession, the only questions I ask myself are, What is right? Waht is just? What is for the public good?”

    Back in my undergraduate degree, I minored in journalism (I found out I like writing, but not interviewing). On the very first day, they read us the above quote and told us the First Commandment of the media: To report The News, in a fair, unbiased and impartial manner.

    So is the BBC impartial?

    I find that because of the huge and disturbing trend of media centralization I now have to go to several different sources to find different opinions that aren’t blatantly one-sided: WSJ, Economist, BBC, CNN, CBC, Al Jazeera (whenever I feel like a new perspective), MSNBC, and the Globe and Mail to name a few. I believe that doing this makes me a credible individual and broadens my understanding of issues. But to its credit, the BBC does a fairly good job of remaining impartial vis a vis the news. When reporting the news, I find that’s what I get: the facts and reports. You good folks give me, the listener, enough credit to let me form my own opinion.

    However, by and large, The Media (as a monolithic entity) is not impartial. Stories are chosen based on whether or not they will increase ratings, gather interest or push a political agenda. I don’t blame the journalists, and I don’t even blame the editors. Because editors have bosses too.

    The problem, as I see it, is in the way a news program is determined a ‘success’ or ‘failure.’ Ratings. We’ve gone from informatino to Infotainment. Until somebody somewhere invents a different criteria on which to rank news, impartiality will become less and less of a factor. Impartiality doesn’t sell. Bill O’Reilly screaming at his guests, or Ann Coulter showing how dumb she is is more entertaining than real news.

    It is a sad state of affairs when comics like Jon Stewart are more politically and journalistically astute than the ACTUAL journalists.

  84. 87 Andrew
    July 31, 2008 at 14:45

    Just on tonights email from Chloe, I don’t think the UN is impotent, we just have to remember what the UN is. It is the collection of all member states. These states have their biases and as such proceed on that track.

    Perhaps it is more apt to say is the security council impotent. Yes it is. Especially as it is only the exclusive realm of China, Russia, France, UK and US. You could not have a worse situation. With their veto power and such diverse backgrounds would they ever agree on anything?

    The UN is only as good as those who are in it so when people balk at the UN I say wait a moment.. think how it works. It has done a lot in the past 50 years let us not forget that. The problem breaks down not because the UN is some organisation that is self-funding with its own standing army, but financed by the individual states who act out their interests above the greater good. In theory it should work well, but when you put it into practice with people and nation states running its operations… that’s where you come unstuck.

  85. 88 Andrew
    July 31, 2008 at 14:47

    For example, nothing will be done about Darfur as the BBC has shown (surprising not much more was made by the world’s media about it either) China has its finger in that pie with sales to the regime in Sudan and China will not support any peace efforts there on any meaningful level.

  86. 89 kpellyhezekiah
    July 31, 2008 at 15:41

    Since monday and tuesday this week I’ve been trying very hard to draw our attention to something very drastic that I’ve stumbled upon but to no avail. Listening to the news since yesterday I have no alternative than to once more call on you guys all on this site to spare me a moment to begin to roll this very evil and wicked conspiracy against all decent humanity. In the news during the last 24hrs is this seemingly small news that the chinese auhorities(political leadership) has blocked some websites thereby effectively going back on their promise before we handed over to them the right to host the olympics games(a multi-billion dollar enterprise) this year. What did the oic came out to say? “Guys we are sorry but you have to take it like that” Ladies and gentlemen, do you really understand what is going on here? Can u see another classical collaboration between the politicians and the multi-laterals to subvert and circumvert the cause of true democracy in the interest of their pockets? Are we so blind that we cannot see all these trials taking place simultanously all over the world now? Are we saying we are going to surrender democracy through the backdoor to some greedy multi-laterals who have eaten into the moral fibre of politics and for that matter politicians? Are we going to sit down to allow this fraud to be perpertuated on all mankind? Let me say here and now that if we(all true democrats especially journalists don’t use all the powerful tools we have at our disposal like open demonstrations etc to defy this test by these evil gang who are now using the games as a good opportunity to test the effectiveness of their ‘new order’ internationally, then God save democracy. I am not satisfied in the least that the chinese political auhorities have restored some of the sites back as at the time I’m making this submission. In fact nothing less than making them not to block any website which was the original agreement must be adhered to. The ordinary chinese people are looking up to us, the international community of journalists to show them(and not only them but all the oppressed people over the whole world) how we fight intrasigent regimes with peacefull but very powerful tools than guns and make them do the right things for the progress and peace of humanity. I’ll be back with my 2nd submission on this issue. Brothers and sisters we are living in a time of clear and present danger and we must stand up and be counted. Thank you and God bless us all.

  87. 90 Bob in Queensland
    July 31, 2008 at 15:56

    @ kpellyhezekiah

    If it makes you feel any better, the Chinese censorship of the Internet, in violation of its agreement with the IOC, was the lead story on most Australian newscasts last night/today.

  88. 91 Andrew
    July 31, 2008 at 15:58


    Possibly on cos Gosper and Coates managed to get their mugs on camera otherwise Kevin R would have had a fit dare we criticise his Chinese chums.

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