Thursday, January 31, 2008

Reply from the BBC

I will post my response to this reply in due course:

Dear Kebz,

Thank you for your comments regarding our coverage of the recent events in Gaza.

Jonathan Marcus' report was intended to outline the Israeli position on Gaza at a time when events and reporting were completely dominated by the opening of the border, the Egyptian reaction and response, and statements from Hamas. We feel it was an important contribution as part of the wider coverage which concentrated on the Palestinian perspective on the situation. These are just a few examples of features and reports of this kind:

A diary by a correspondent in Gaza:

Correspondents from either side of the border:

A correspondent looking at the issue from the Egyptian point of view

A dairy, in four parts, from a Palestinian aid worker in Gaza:

An analysis arguing that Hamas has put itself centre stage again:

There were a whole range of picture galleries:

Just before the opening of the border we had a correspondent in Gaza for the website. These are two of his reports:

We do not have a permanent English language correspondent in Gaza. You may remember the BBC correspondent there was kidnapped. We do have a Palestinian reporter, producers and researchers, and the BBC regularly deploys in Gaza. We also have a permanent correspondent in Ramallah. The main bureau is in Jerusalem.

We have raised the issue of collective punishment many times. You can find mentions by putting it in the search engine alongside the word "Gaza".

We report all deaths in the Israeli Palestinian conflict - civilian, militant and military. We do not publish ad running toll. We do report annual figures when they are made available by researchers:

We do our very best to treat this and all other news stories with scrupulous fairness and accuracy. We do not accept your criticism that we are somehow one-sided or reprinting Israeli propaganda.

Best regards,

Tarik Kafala
Middle East editor
BBC News website

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

For the BBC murder and seige is a middle way

Official complaint to the BBC about their general coverage and this one particular online article:

I would like to make a serious complaint about BBC coverage of the situation in Gaza and particularly this article by one of its correspondents in Jerusalem;

Why has the BBC become a tool of the Zionist propaganda machine? As licence payers we are entitled to a fair and accurate description of events in the middle-east, not as dictated by Tel Aviv. I have watched in dismay as time and time again the BBC portrays the situation in Gaza as one of Hamas terrorism involving rockets on Sderot and portrays the Israelis as ‘responding’ or trying to stamp out the rocket threats. That is a completely dishonest portrayal.

Is it not true that most of your correspondents are based in Jerusalem? It is a coincidence then that the BBC line always favours the Palestinian aggression/Israeli retaliation angle?

The BBC has done little to portray the true face of the occupation. The closure of Gaza is not recent and goes back to the withdrawal of settlements from Gaza. Since that day and before it, Israel has had de facto control of the borders and airspace, controlling food, medicines, human passage, fuel, water and electricity. Why is it that the BBC never portrays Palestinian rockets as retaliation for the daily assassination of Palestinian politicians, the wanton destruction of Palestinian property by missiles, shells and bombs and the killing of innocent bystanders?

Why does not the BBC supply the true death count on both sides in the recent conflict? Is it because it would show that Palestinians have rather one-sidedly been the victims of overwhelming violence carried out by the IOF and settlers? Perhaps if your news didn’t depend on the ‘access’ to official statements of Israeli spokesmen, we might have a tiny chance of a fairer approach to reporting the crimes against Gaza.

Take this article for example entitled, Propaganda battle over Gaza Plight. It is an ironic title, given the way Jonathan Marcus regurgitates Israeli propaganda and dresses it up in respectable BBC clothes.

As the rocket fire from Gaza has increased in intensity over the past 10 days so the fuel restrictions have begun to bite. Already difficult living conditions in Gaza are being made worse.”

This implies that all the difficulties of Gaza are simply due to increasing rocket fire. That simply is not the case. Hamas had maintained a one-sided ceasefire for over a year, and the only rockets were from other factions in retaliation for assassination and bombings carried out by Israel.

"Israel argues that if restrictions are to be lifted then there is a simple answer; the rocket fire should be halted. But the Israelis also seem surprised at the scale of the power shortages in Gaza."

Israel argues and argues again. The BBC continues to regurgitate those arguments:

"They argue that about three-quarters of the electricity used there comes from either the Israeli or Egyptian power grids and this electricity is still flowing."

Again a blatant lie because the UN has verified that electricity is not flowing. Are the UN engaged in pro-Palestinian propaganda? The BBC continually reports Israeli official statements without equivalent statements from the Palestinian side.

"The Israelis seem to be suggesting that it is Hamas which is manipulating the power supply to increase the suffering to win propaganda points."

More propaganda regurgitated by the BBC.

"Israel considers itself to be at war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Rocket fire into southern Israel has continued ever since Israel's withdrawal from the territory."

Again an untruth served up ungarnished: rocket fire is not the only thing that has continued. It has context. Why is this not explained? Why not explain Israeli bombings, shellings and shootings over this period? Why is this conspicuous by its absence? Why not report the death toll on both sides? Why is Israel at war with Hamas when Hamas maintained a ceasefire for over one year?

"in recent weeks the barrages have increased in intensity; physical casualties have been few, but the psychological pressure of living under the daily threat of attack has made ordinary life in the south very difficult. In turn this has brought huge pressure on the Olmert government to act."

Yet more crude propaganda, this time directly from BBC editorial staff, aimed at getting sympathy for Sderot residents whilst ignored the plight of 1.5 million Arabs being deliberately starved and suffocated by Israeli occupation. Where is your proof that rockets have been the cause of this escalation? How can you take Israeli words at face value and ignore Palestinian statements? Are you simply racist or just biased?

Why is the psychological pressure of occupation and continual attack on Gaza not explained as a reason for pressure on Palestinians groups to retaliate with rocket attacks?

"Israeli military commanders fear that this could lead to considerable Israeli casualties quite apart from a bloody death toll among Palestinian civilians if troops were forced to assault densely-populated urban areas."

Don’t you mean Israeli ‘troop’ casualties and why do you say if troops were ‘forced to assault’. Nobody is forcing them to barricade Gaza, nor to shell it, nor to starve it of food, fuel and medicines. They are doing it of their own volition because of their insane hatred of Arabs. The BBC continues to portray Israel as reluctant and retaliatory due to aggression against it. Why do you persist in peddling these lies, using my licence money?

"Mr Olmert has chosen a middle way; tightening economic restrictions, increasing the intensity of Israeli military operations inside the Gaza Strip, and stepping up the targeted killings of Palestinian militant leaders."

So now murder is the middle way is it? Starving 1.5 million people and imposing a siege on them is COLLECTIVE PUNISHMENT. Why is the BBC reluctant to acknowledge it as such? Targeted killings are not new; they did not stop in the West Bank from where no rockets have been fired. Why is this anomaly not explained?

"Israel clearly hopes that the suffering in Gaza will lead to pressure on Hamas to stop the rocket attacks"

That is always what they say. How do you know what it 'clearly' hopes? Are you psychic? Or is it because you always believe what they tell you? Or is it because you deliberately don’t want to acknowledge that your hosts in Jerusalem, who give you access to the official propaganda, are liars? The BBC is a willing mouthpiece for a nasty racist regime in Tel Aviv. I demand that you start reporting the reality on the ground, instead of the disgraceful one-sided fiction handed to you on a plate by the Zionist propaganda machine.

I request a full answer to each of the questions I have posed here and not the standard BBC brushoff.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Damned lies or nonkosher?

Interesting article I found on Medscape:

Statistics Is Unscientific! (Well, as Clinicians See it, Anyway)

Andrew J. Vickers, PhD

I once read a letter to the editor in which the correspondent, a clinician, described a paper's statistical analysis as "not strictly kosher." This might well be true, on the grounds that the statistician involved had probably not been certified by the appropriate rabbinic authorities. Leaving aside the issue of whether the Mann-Whitney test counts as milk or meat, the idea of "kosher statistics" does give a wonderful insight in to how many clinicians view statistics. Statistics is often seen as a set of laws, handed down from above, violation of which constitutes a transgression. As a statistician, I am repeatedly asked whether a particular statistical analysis is "allowed" or whether it would be "against the rules"; as a statistics teacher, my students' questions often concern "right and wrong."

It is hard to think of any other area of science that is characterized by so many religious and legalistic metaphors. We don't wonder whether, say, use of frozen and rethawed serum for a biomarker analysis would break any laws, or whether errors in flow cytometry technique constitute an eternal or just a venial sin. Hence my view that statistics, as clinicians see it, is unscientific.

One of science's defining characteristics is that new ideas are developed, and that both new and old ideas are tested empirically. This is as true for statistics as for any other science. Many of the techniques I use in my day-to-day work -- Cox regression, bootstrapping, k-fold cross validation, general estimating equations -- were invented relatively recently. I myself have developed a new statistical technique, decision curve analysis (which I'd be happy to explain to any reader experiencing insomnia). Moreover, statisticians test statistical methods experimentally: we have computers simulate data sets, then apply different statistical methods and see which come up with the right answers. If I recall correctly, the clinician who liked his statistics kosher was concerned about the use of a t-test on skewed data. Statisticians have tried applying the t-test to data simulated with skew and have found out that, although it sometimes fails to detect a true difference between groups, the t-test works just fine in terms of not telling you that there is a difference when there isn't. The trial that this clinician criticized reported that the drug worked; the use of the t-test was therefore not a problem.

So, no, the t-test was not inscribed on the stone tablets Moses brought down from Mount Sinai along with the commandment "Thou shalt not use with skewed data." The t-test was invented by a statistician (a guy who worked in a beer company) and has been subsequently been tested by other statisticians (including me) to find out if it is any good (it turns out it isn't ideal for the applications I need, and I rarely use it at all). Just like any other science, what you want to know about any statistical technique is the degree to which it might give you a wrong answer, and whether there other methods around that give you a better chance of getting things right. There aren't rules, laws, and commandments about this; you just have to know the latest research data.

Note: Andrew Vickers is Jewish, but admits that he has not had his statistical software certified as glatt.

Source link

Friday, January 18, 2008

Israeli terrorists continue their campaign of murder and oppression

The world is silent over the starvation, bombing and siege of 1.5 million people in Gaza. Israel continues its relentless terrorism against a helpless, defenceless population, whilst the western media suck up to the zionist lobby with sympathetic stories about Sderot, which bears the brunt of Palestinian retaliation with puny rockets.

"It's time that Hamas decide to either fight or take care of its population," the Israeli defence ministry spokesman, Shlomo Dror, said.

"It's unacceptable that people in Sderot are living in fear every day and people in the Gaza Strip are living life as usual."

Life in Gaza as usual means being bombed, attacked, starved, your hospitals denied vital medicines and power. It means being unable to come and go from your own territory and having no control over your airspace. It means enemy aircraft can attack with bombs and missiles at will or flyover at supersonic speed yards over ordinary houses. Zionists are sick murdering fuckers and the world's worst hypocrites. Shame on the West for supporting the scum of the earth and helping them to murder Arabs.

Few voices are heard that tell the real story. This is one of them in a letter to the Guardian:

Your story (Israeli troops kill 19 in Gaza Strip incursion, January 16) has inevitably been followed by another Israeli atrocity yesterday, with three Palestinians, including a 14-year old boy, killed by an Israeli air strike on a car in Gaza City. The Israeli military have admitted they were all civilians. How much more killing and collective punishment are we expecting the Palestinians in Gaza to take? Israel is restricting the Gazans' access to food, fuel, electricity and water, ensuring all entry and exit points are closed to them, and forcing Palestinians to watch family and friends dying because the Israeli authorities are preventing them from leaving Gaza to access medical treatment. President Bush's visit has clearly emboldened the Israeli government to escalate its military assault on Gaza. The government must call for the siege to be lifted. A protest against the crime being perpetrated on Palestinians is planned for January 26.
Sarah Colborne
Chair, Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Then there is this from the channel 4 e-bulletin 'Snowmail':

The facts are only just beginning to clarify but there has been an appalling bomb attack in Gaza. Israeli jets targeted what they thought was the interior ministry and destroyed the block.

It was empty but the building next door collapsed, with loss of life, with a number of children killed. There are harrowing pictures but at this stage it is hard to tell whether they intended to do what they did or it was some sort of mistake.

Most media outlets are still reporting the strike as attacking an empty building.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Arab Jabour

Media reports indicate that US warplanes have dropped tonnes of bombs on Arab Jabour, a built up area that was widely parroted by a servile media as an 'Al-Qaeda safe haven'. Baghdad Dweller points out that the same military was earlier claiming that Arab Jabour had been cleared of the alleged Al-Qaeda threat. American Third Infantry Division Captain Joseph Inge is quoted as saying:
We cleared the Area Arab Jabour from Al Qaeda threat, with the help of the citizens [Awakening Council]
Leaving aside from the fact that this was an outrageous act of terrorism on a civilian target containing god knows how many families, it does not even occur to our stupid media to question why the military is contradicting itself and why it is bombing civilian areas. Perhaps as mere Arabs they do not merit the kind of attention focused upon a single missing child who dominates the headlines seemingly every other day. Officially there were no civilian would seem that people had vanished into thin air. The scale of the crime is revealed here:

Despite the massive size of the airstrikes, Donnelly said that to the military's knowledge, no civilians were killed.

Maj. Alayne Conway, a spokeswoman for troops in central Iraq, said the amount of ordnance dropped in 10 minutes nearly exceeded what had been used in that region in any month since last June.

Conway said the air attack "was one of the largest airstrikes since the onset of the war" in March 2003.

An AP reporter in Zambaraniyah observed that the bombing continued until Thursday evening.

Even before Thursday's massive attack, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Mark Solomon told a small group of reporters in Zambaraniyah that residents were returning to their homes and that stores and schools were reopening.

So it appears that they invited the resident to return and then started the massive aerial assault involving 40000 lbs of high explosives. That is what I call a cold blooded massacre of innocents and yet another war crime.

One also wonders how in the rather conspicuous absence of reporting of number of dead and wounded from the area (some of whom were likely to have been completely obliterated), how certain organisations who count Iraqi casualties by counting reported deaths can possibly factor in the resulting inaccuracy in their counts. The media continue to spout military propaganda whilst admitting that there is no independent confirmation of how many civilians were killed. They do however report the number of 'insurgents' killed as quoted by military spokesmen. Is this propaganda taken at face value, if reported independently in at least three media outlets?