Friday, October 24, 2008

BBC lack of balance on the issue of Palestine/Israel

Compare the following two BBC stories found on BBC Online today:

Article 1, Title:Israeli dies in settlement attack

Article 2, Title:Israelis kill Palestinian youth

There appears to be a superficial balance but take a look at the facts...


- both stories have been in the middle east news section today, but the former has had a consistently higher profile and was a featured story on the middle east front page this morning, when the latter was just a link article. Since then both have been demoted but the former retains a higher profile.

- both stories quote Israeli witnesses or Israeli authorities

- both portray Palestinians as the source of the violence even though the latter purports to describe the killing of a Palestinian teenager

"A Palestinian man has stabbed and killed an elderly Israeli civilian in a Jewish settlement"

"Gilo is on land in the West Bank captured by Israel in 1967, and has been a target for attacks by Palestinian militants in the past."

"A number of attacks have been carried out in Jerusalem since July by Palestinians who live on the west, or Israeli-controlled, side of the extensive barrier system Israel has built around autonomous Palestinian areas."

"The military says the youth had been preparing to throw petrol bombs at the cars of Jewish settlers."

- The second article also has a gross distortion:

"Tension is rising across the West Bank with each side, Israeli settlers and Palestinians, complaining of violent attacks by the other."

In fact the vast majority of attacks are committed by settlers against Palestinians rather than the number of attacks being equivalent.

- Yet again Israel is given an automatic right of reply in the article 2:

"Settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this."

They wouldn't ever say that robbing banks is considered a crime, but the bank robbers dispute this.

In fact, on balance from the two articles, the only thing that Israel appears to be charged with is the rather bland crime of 'building settlements' that are 'disputed'. This bland facade of a term, ignores the land seizures, house demolitions, evictions, arbitrary detentions, assaults, torture, shootings, stoning, destruction of crops, diversion of water, and a multitude of other crimes that take place before the 'settlement building' can take place.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Post office RIP: insane treachery and murder by New Labour

Already stabbed in the back numerous times by the government, the owners of thousands of post offices are now facing wipeout as one of the main services they provide is set to be ripped out of their hands and gifted to the private sector. One of my friends has what one would consider an extremely busy high street branch; of the type that few would foresee closing. However, this one move to remove the post office card account and hand it over to PayPoint will lead to the loss of a dozen jobs and bring the business to its knees and probably lead to closure within months. There is no doubt in my mind that this move will wipe out most of the existing branches as they find themselves unable to pay the rent or staff wages. In July this year, the government had already removed the ability of post offices to accept payment of the water bill and handed it over to Payzone. Slowly but repeatedly the government has knifed local community post offices in the back with a poisoned dagger by removing their services. Then it has the cheek to say that they are not making a profit!

Personally, I have severe doubts about the ability of newsagents with a paypoint or payzone facility to cope with the thousands of people and vast amount of money that post offices deal with. Who will provide security for the huge amounts of cash required? On a typical Monday a post office hands out tens of thousands of pounds of money and also has the facilities to look after the cash securely. They have knowledgeable staff trained to look after elderly and disadvantage people in the community. This is not just about removing a vital financial service but an important social one as well.

This latest piece of insane, ill-thought out treachery is set to be delayed until after the Glenrothes by-election in which New Labour will be annihilated anyway. Read part of the story in this article in todays Observer.