Archive for January, 2011



Peter Sissons on the BBC’s climate change propaganda

The serialisation of Peter Sissons’ new book continues in the Daily Mail today, and the former newscaster turns his attention to the BBC’s editorial approach and coverage of climate change.

Perhaps it is a credit to the bloggers who have highlighted issues with the BBC’s coverage over the years that hardly anything Sissons says is new.  However what prove useful are the elements of Sissons’ professional assessment and inside observation of the BBC bias and propaganda, as demonstrated in the sections below:

There is one brief account of the ­proceedings, written by a conservative commentator who was there. He wrote subsequently that he was far from impressed with the 30 key BBC staff who attended. None of them, he said, showed ‘even a modicum of professional journalistic ­curiosity on the subject’. None appeared to read anything on the subject other than the Guardian.

This attitude was underlined a year later in another statement: ‘BBC News currently takes the view that their reporting needs to be calibrated to take into account the scientific consensus that global warming is man-made.’ Those scientists outside the ‘consensus’ waited in vain for the phone to ring.

It’s the lack of simple curiosity about one of the great issues of our time that I find so puzzling about the BBC. When the topic first came to ­prominence, the first thing I did was trawl the internet to find out as much as possible about it.

Anyone who does this with a mind not closed by religious fervour will find a mass of material by respectable scientists who question the orthodoxy. Admittedly, they are in the minority, but scepticism should be the natural instinct of scientists — and the default setting of journalists.

Yet the cream of the BBC’s inquisitors during my time there never laid a glove on those who repeated the ­mantra that ‘the science is settled’. On one occasion, an MP used BBC airtime to link climate change ­doubters with perverts and holocaust deniers, and his famous interviewer didn’t bat an eyelid.

Then there is the BBC’s cult worship of celebrity and love of being courted expensively, as demonstrated by their fawning over Al Gore:

Meanwhile, Al Gore, the former U.S. Vice-President and climate change campaigner, entertained the BBC’s editorial elite in his suite at the Dorchester and was given a free run to make his case to an admiring internal audience at Television Centre.

His views were never subjected to journalistic scrutiny, even when a British High Court judge ruled that his film, An Inconvenient Truth, ­contained at least nine scientific errors, and that ministers must send new guidance to teachers before it was screened in schools. From the BBC’s standpoint, the judgment was the real inconvenience, and its ­environment correspondents downplayed its significance.

And Sissons provides us with confirmation of the BBC’s determination to present only one side of the story, in wilful breach of journalistic ethics and flying in the face of the corporation’s own claims of impartiality and balance:

At the end of November 2007 I was on duty on News 24 when the UN panel on climate change produced a report which later turned out to contain ­significant inaccuracies, many stemming from its reliance on non-peer reviewed sources and best-guesses by environmental activists.

But the way the BBC’s reporter treated the story was as if it was beyond a vestige of doubt, the last word on the catastrophe awaiting mankind. The most challenging questions addressed to a succession of UN employees and climate ­activists were ‘How urgent is it?’ and ‘How much danger are we in?’

Back in the studio I suggested that we line up one or two sceptics to react to the report, but received a totally negative response, as if I was some kind of lunatic. I went home and wrote a note to myself: ‘What happened to the journalism? The BBC has ­completely lost it.’

Indeed.

5 Star Blogging

A (usually) daily selection of five blog posts recommended to you for being thought provoking, insightful, covering interesting subjects or comprising quality writing…

1. Bishop Hill on Greens Want Your Pension

2. Longrider On The NHS

3. Subrosa on Fuel Increases Are Only The Beginning

4. Delphius’ Debate on ‘Project Merlin’ Not So Magic After All

5. Robin Shepherd on British Foreign Office, BBC, European Liberal-Left Devastated By Leaked Revelations On Israeli Settlements, Guardian Furious At “Weak” And “Craven” Palestinian Leadership

The demonisation of people for what they think

We are on a very slippery slope.  Today was the day the media reached a sickening new lows in its unjust and disproportionate treatment of people it makes the objects of supposed news stories.  The media has appointed itself the judge, jury and assassin of the characters of people for daring to say what they think.

Story One
Listeners to BBC Radio Five Live have endured near saturation coverage of what is probably being called ‘SkySportsGate’ behind the scenes.  At the time of writing the story of Sky Sports presenter Richard Keys and pundit Andy Gray engaging in some misogynistic conversation about Premier League linesman assistant referee Sian Massey and West Ham vice chairman Karren Brady remains the number two news item on the BBC News website.

It was the major news item this morning.  Then it became the hastily promoted discussion piece on Nicky Campbell’s phone in.  As the BBC’s editors salivated uncontrollably and developed moist loins at being able to put the boot in to Sky, the story rolled over into Victoria Derbyshire’s show. There the listeners were subjected to an all women prosecution, jury and judgement on the two men as speculation mounted about the appropriate punishment for this ‘offence’.

At this point Karren Brady was rolled out, without any hint of irony, to explain how these sexist comments made her ‘blood boil’ and castigate Keys and Gray for their comments.  This of course is the same Karren Brady who was so opposed to sexism she left her advertising job at LBC radio to work for pornography publishing baron, David Sullivan.  Not that La Derbyshire brought that up – although a number of listeners did via text and email. Being offended by sexism, it seems, is a selective condition in Brady’s case.

To say this is out of all proportion is the understatement of the century.  Were their comments inappropriate?  Were they laced with resentment at the spectacle of a female official?  Were they ungentlemanly or downright rude?  You know what, it doesn’t bloody matter because it was a private conversation between the two men.  They were not comments made for public consumption.  Yet some opportunist toad listening across the ‘talkback’ function before the coverage started made a copy of the comments; and instead of complaining to management, sent it to the press to turn it into a big story.

Nevertheless the BBC has lapped it up.  After all, it’s their big rival Sky, a part Murdoch-owned organisation that achieves commercially what the BBC dare not attempt.  The demonisation is total.  Having been admonished and making an apology, the BBC coverage has pushed Sky into a public relations corner and so Keys and Gray now face disciplinary action.  Not for a failure to do their job well, not for doing anything wrong on air, but for expressing their personal thoughts in a private conversation.  The BBC have gone hunting for scalps and will not be satisfied until Keys and Gray have lost their livelihood.  So now the two men are to be punished for what they think.  It is deeply disturbing.

Update: After another clip of Gray being offensive was released he has been sacked by Sky Sports. It was justified but the manner of this coming to light, via the leaking of a private conversation, remains of great concern.

Story two
Readers of the Belfast Telegraph in recent days will have experienced near saturation coverage of the tragic honeymoon murder of Michaela McAreavey, the daughter of three-time Tyrone All-Ireland winning GAA manager Mickey Harte.

A beautiful, popular and by all accounts talented girl, Michaela was killed by hotel staff when she caught them stealing from her and her husband’s room.  However the Belfast Telegraph’s intimate coverage of the story makes it feel like she has been elevated to the position of Northern Ireland’s Princess Diana.

The killers have been caught and made confessions.  Michaela has been repatriated and buried.  But still the Telegraph’s coverage continues unabated. To date, in the 13 days since the story broke, the Belfast Telegraph has published no less than 60 related articles about the killing, family grief, funeral, family background, calls for an inquiry etc. etc.  Maybe you could expect such a number over a period of time if the case was open and police were still trying to catch the killer.  But this case is all but over.

Not everyone appreciates the excessive coverage.  One such person is a 19 year old girl called Susanne Morrison.  Writing on her Facebook page, this witless kid – a part time photographer for an obscure paper in County Down:

ranted that she was “sick of hearing” about Michaela’s murder because she could not see “what makes her so special”.

Susanne also made other sickening remarks which we are not repeating.

Morrison’s comments are at best inelegant, and if her other remarks (removed from Facebook) are indeed ‘sickening’ then she is clearly unpleasant and inconsiderate as well.  But the reaction of the Belfast Telegraph gives great cause for concern.  Like the BBC in the casestudy above, the Telegraph has a self serving agenda.  It has gone after Morrison in a faintly sinister manner that is deeply disturbing.

Without any good reason, the Belfast Telegraph has told readers where Morrison lives, Rathfriland.  In a society where religious denomination is often denoted by the football team one supports, the BT tells readers that she supports Rangers and Linfield (predominantly protestant supported teams).  To help readers identify Morrison, the Telegraph goes on to name her employer, the Co Down Outlook – while inflaming the matter by pointing out the paper ‘circulates in the area where Michaela’s devastated widower John McAreavey plays football for the Down county side’.

Despite Susanne Morrison’s comments having nothing to do with her part time employment, the Sunday Life (from where the Telegraph picked up this story) contacted the Co Down Outlook’s editor Joanne Ross – who then issued a statement saying that they were horrified by the Facebook comments and the paper was investigating.  This is an example of the media attempting exact retribution by trying to harm someone’s career prospects and livelihood by dragging the employer into the story, where the employer feels compelled to take action for PR purposes. Why also is there any need to tell readers which High School Morrison attended and provide details of her HND qualification in photography?  The Telegraph appears to be making Morrison a target for abuse by going to extraordinary lengths to give as many details of her as possible, while including a large colour photograph into the bargain.

It is both cynical and vicious, but it is also personal.  For at the heart of the Telegraph’s determination to nail Morrison to the wall is her criticism of the Telegraph’s over the top and disproportionate coverage of the story.  It says that Morrison had already widely circulated her comments on the Internet. But there is no evidence this idiotic and mouthy youngster did anything other than make comments on her Facebook page to her 600 or so ‘friends’ – a very different circulation to the tens of thousands of people who read the Telegraph.

This is another example of the media trying to silence people through direct bullying and the threat of intimidation and the potential loss of employment.  It is an effort to dissuade people from expressing their thoughts and views, whether they are considered or obnoxious. It is by extension a form of censorship and attempt to stifle any opinion but that of the media outlet indulging its editorial whims.  It is unacceptable, but it underlines the loss of freedom of expression and the growing intolerance in our society.  It shows we are on a very slippery and disturbing slope.

Update: Following the Belfast Telegraph’s successful witch hunt, Susanne Morrison has lost her job.  Her comments on Facebook were unpleasant but the Telegraph has twisted the story, claiming Morrison was criticising ‘the outpouring of grief’.  She was not, she was criticising the completely disproportinate and self serving saturation coverage in the media, particularly in the Belfast Telegraph which is now up to 62 articles covering every conceivable angle of the story and family’s private aftermath. After what are alleged to be spiteful comments by Morrison the Telegraph sunk to her level and was equally spiteful because she had pointed out the overblown coverage.

What have we allowed this world to turn into?  What have we allowed the self appointed elite to get away with?  Is there any way to redress the balance?

Use Climate Week to challenge the man-made global warming consensus

(Re-post from November 2010)

Oh Joy. From the pages of Environmental Data Interactive we learn that the Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change, Greg Barker, will be giving a keynote address today to mark the build up to the UK’s first Climate Week (21st-27th March 2011). Apparently Climate Week aims to enhance society’s approach to combating climate change:

‘It hopes to do this by creating an unprecedented opportunity for individuals and organisations from all parts of society, to share ideas, forge new collaborations, motivate their peers and inspire others to act.’

In other words people are going to be hectored with ever more shrill taxpayer funded propaganda about the crumbling anthropogenic global warming (AGW) orthodoxy. The true believers will continue their attempts to indoctrinate others while ignoring the many claims that have been debunked. As part of their effort some star names of the climate change movement are being rolled out… such as Al Gore.

It seems one of the worst ever Secretary Generals of the UN, Kofi Annan, is on board but now needs to be described by the organisers as a ‘Nobel Peace Prize laureate’ to boost his credibility. Also getting the red carpet treatment is Lord Nicholas Stern, whose error-littered report has been comprehensively eviscerated. In addition we are being treated to A-list celebrities backing the campaign such as Sir Paul McCartney, Michael Palin, Mark Ronson, Lily Cole and Sienna Miller. With so many scientific heavyweights on board, how could anyone fail to be persuaded by their claims?

The best response to this campaign would be for all those who question the climate change consensus to spend Climate Week pointing out the facts about climate change, to debunk the myths and ensure people are aware there is a compelling counter argument. To make sure it is an Honest Climate Week.  Just for starters here are some of the things that could be done:

  • On every blog, message board, newspaper comment thread and radio phone in, ensure people understand AGW is a theory not a scientific fact.
  • Highlight the media bias and ask why scientists who question the climate change orthodoxy are deliberately excluded by the media from discussions on the subject.
  • Demonstrate that the science is far from settled and the debate is nowhere near over by correcting false and mistaken assertions about things such as… rising temperatures, Arctic sea ice melt, the infamous Hockey Stick, the extent of Antarctic sea ice, dramatically inaccurate weather forecasting, missing and non existant data sets.

There is plenty of material out there that challenges the consensus. We should use it to educate those who have only heard one side of the story or do not have the time or inclination to explore the subject and identify for themselves those things that don’t add up.

Spread the word. Let’s ensure there is a real debate during Climate Week and that the myths and distortions are challenged.

5 Star Blogging

A (usually) daily selection of five blog posts recommended to you for being thought provoking, insightful, covering interesting subjects or comprising quality writing…

1. No Frakking Consensus on Perceptions Of Pachauri

2. EU Referendum on Avoiding The Debate

3. Watts Up With That? on Will Global Warming Survive A Strong La Nina?

4. American Thinker on The Mercury Threat – Again

5. Biased BBC on Mission Impossible

NationalGrid – Not one of Met Office’s ‘intelligent’ customers?

According to a piece by the BBC’s Martin Rosenbaum in December last year, the UK Met Office puts probabilistic seasonal data on the scientific pages of its website where, in the words of a Met Office board paper, such figures can be ‘more targeted towards users who appreciate their value and limitations’, (i.e. not members of the public).

Rosenbaum goes on to add that:

As another document put it, ‘Intelligent’ customers (such as the Cabinet Office) find probabilistic forecasts helpful in planning their resource deployment.

Based on this and the information published in a document on NationalGrid’s website – as shared by Joe Public guest posting on Subrosa – we can only conclude that the NationalGrid is not one of the Met Office’s so called ‘intelligent’ customers…

It seems NationalGrid find probabilistic forecasts helpful in planning their supply of gas to the nation.  So it seems more than curious that the operator of this country’s gas network was not let in on the secret forecast that was withheld from the public.  Again it is pertinent to ask just why the Met Office issues these forecasts (that they claim are not actually forecasts) at all.

If NationalGrid – with its national strategic interest in seasonal forecasts – is not one, just who are these ‘users who appreciate their value and limitations’?  Perhaps that is yet another question the Met Office can answer.  In the meantime we await their formal response to the FOI we have submitted to them and the Cabinet Office.

5 Star Blogging

A (usually) daily selection of five blog posts recommended to you for being thought provoking, insightful, covering interesting subjects or comprising quality writing…

1. Longrider on CiF And Logical Fallacy

2. Real Science on Record Ice Sheet Melt in 2010 – Sea Level Drops 20mm

3. Subrosa on The Police’s Little Helpers

4. UKK41 on This Country’s Lost It

5. Roger Pielke Jr on FT Column On Disasters And Climate Change

No one saw this one coming, did they?

Talks between Iran and six world powers in Istanbul have ended in failure after Iran refused to discuss its nuclear programme, according to European Voice.  Imagine my shock.  The piece goes on to explain that:

Diplomats suspect that Iran is primarily interested in the talks as a way of gaining time for its nuclear programme, which most governments believe serves military purposes.

They know it. We know it. The Iranians know we all know it. Yet still the charade continues with no effective consequence.  The region risks becoming increasingly destabilised as Iran’s theocrats press ahead with their lust to acquire the bomb.  The threat to Israel grows, Iran’s neighbours becoming more nervous and those powers with the capability of putting an end to Iran’s ambitions trapse back and forth between ‘talks’ as Tehran run rings around them.

In years to come it is a fair bet people will be examining the whys and wherefores of a major conflict in the Middle East and asking why the powers that could have dealt with things back in 2010 or earlier failed to act and allowed things to develop into something far more destructive than it would have been.

BBC: The broadcast arm of The Guardian

It isn’t like we didn’t know this already, but confirmation from someone who has experienced it at first hand, time and again, is always worth a great deal more than outside observation.

In the later stages of my career, I lost count of the number of times I asked a producer for a brief on a story, only to be handed a copy of The Guardian and told ‘it’s all in there’.

Peter Sissons

It is worth restating that with The Guardian’s well known and self professed liberal left bias, the BBC cannot possibly be considered in any way impartial because it relies so heavily on that paper to inform its chosen editoral narrative.

That is why we constantly see Guardian journalists on BBC programmes providing biased analysis and see the two organs collaborating closely to achieve a particular outcomes, the most recent example of which was the witch hunt resulting in the bringing down of Andy Coulson. There have been other instances in the not too distant past of BBC and Guardian collusion to bring someone down in order to further a political agenda.  Something else Sissons says is worth repeating:

What the BBC wants you, the public, to believe is that it has ‘independence’ woven into its fabric, running through its veins and concreted into its foundations.

The reality, I discovered, was that for the BBC, independence is not a banner it carries ­principally on behalf of the listener or viewer.

Rather, it is the name it gives to its ability to act at all times in its own best interests.

The BBC’s ability to position itself, to decide for itself on which side its bread is buttered, is what it calls its independence. It’s flexible, and acutely sensitive to which way the wind is blowing politically.

Complaints from viewers may invariably be met with the BBC’s stock response, ‘We don’t accept that, so get lost’. But complaints from ministers, though they may be rejected publicly, usually cause consternation — particularly if there is a licence fee settlement in the offing. And not just ministers, if a change of Government is thought likely.

Just watch that last sentence come true as the coalition comes under pressure and an election draws near.  This is what informs BBC editorial lines on politics, climate change, the economy, industrial unrest, foreign affairs and international institutions such as the EU and the UN.  All of which helps to put this post into its proper context – with the words ‘independent’ or ‘independence’ used no less than seven times in the BBC’s response.

And this is how our money is used.  Now Peter Sissons has followed Robin Aitken in confirming the true nature of the BBC, the question is not ‘will the BBC now change?’ but ‘who will be next?’.

BBC won’t reveal what we say to it

Following on from this post about a complaint of BBC bias and lack of journalistic rigour in coverage of matters concerning climate change…

Our anonymous contributor went on to submit an interesting Freedom of Information request to the BBC asking for details of:

  • how many complaints/ accusations of bias the BBC received from the public about the BBC’s coverage of climate change
  • how many of the complaints received about climate change were upheld by the BBC, i.e. were accepted
  • brief details / a list of all the complaints upheld, i.e. the details of the upheld complaint and the BBC’s response (excluding details of the person complaining)

The BBC has replied thus (you may want to get a coffee in for this long winded way of saying ‘piss off’):

——————————

The information you have requested is excluded from the Act because it is held for the purposes of ‘journalism, art or literature.’ The BBC is therefore not obliged to provide this information toyou and will not be doing so on this occasion. Part VI of Schedule 1 to FOIA provides that information held by the BBC and the other public service broadcasters is only covered by the Act if it is held for ‘purposes other than those of journalism, art or literature”. The BBC is not required to supply information held for the purposes of creating the BBC’s output or information that supports and is closely associated with these creative activities1, including information relating to the subject of editorial complaints. The BBC’s independence and impartiality would be at risk through disclosure of information on editorial complaints, which is discussed in detail below.

1 For more information about how the Act applies to the BBC please see the enclosure which follows this letter. Please note that this guidance is not intended to be a comprehensive legal interpretation of how the Act applies to the BBC.

The BBC has chosen not to volunteer information relating to the subject of editorial complaints for several very good reasons, chief amongst them being a desire to maintain our independence and impartiality.

You may not be aware that one of the main policy drivers behind the limited application of the Act to public service broadcasters was to protect freedom of expression and the rights of the media under Article 10 European Convention on Human Rights (“ECHR”). The BBC, as a media organisation, is under a duty to impart information and ideas on all matters of public interest and the importance of this function has been recognised by the European Court of Human Rights.Maintaining our editorial independence is a crucial factor in enabling the media to fulfil this function.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has recognised the importance of Schedule 1 of the Act in protecting the independence of the media, stating that:

“It is the Commissioner’s view that the ultimate purpose of the derogation (Schedule 1) is to  protect journalistic, artistic and literary integrity by carving out a creative and journalistic space for programme makers to produce programmes free from the interference and scrutiny of the public.”

The BBC agrees that we have the right to protect our journalistic and editorial independence by maintaining just such a private space in which to produce our content. This extends to the sifting and review of praise and criticism from audiences, as well as the seeking of an independent view of criticism in order to undertake this review process. This is an important part of the BBC’s process of creating and improving programmes. Despite the BBC’s obligation to be independent and impartial, many bodies, groups and individuals attempt to influence our output. This pressure takes many forms and has to be resisted by programme makers across the BBC. If the content of individual criticisms were available for public scrutiny on a regular basis then programme makers would be under even greater pressure to respond to lobbies or vocal individuals than they are already. They might be reluctant to make changes that reflect the views in the complaints in that they could be accused of “caving in to pressure” and other viewers would make judgements about the apparent impartiality of the programme. Conversely, if their judgement was to ignore the complaints, as they believed them to be invalid or outweighed by other factors, they will be accused of ignoring public opinion, without the opportunity to explain the reasons for their editorial judgement. The BBC also believes that publication could lead to a tit-for-tat escalation of complaints, particularly from lobbying groups or political parties, as opponents competed with each other in terms of volume and strength of a complaint to the BBC.

I hope that this provides you with some understanding of why this is an important concern for the BBC. In addition, I can advise, outside the scope of the Act that the BBC proactively publishes public responses to recent issues of audience concern which have caused a significant number of  complaints, or to any significant issue raised by complaints received. The BBC also publishes quarterly archived reports covering the main themes in all complaints received. In addition,information about second-stage complaints, i.e. those considered by the Editorial Complaints Unit, is published at the following site: http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/reports.shtml. Information about the third stage of the complaints process, i.e. those considered by the ESC, is published at the following site: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/appeals/editorial_appeal_findings.html

Finally, the BBC makes a huge range of information available about our programmes and content on bbc.co.uk. We also proactively publish information covered by the Act on our publication scheme.

Appeal Rights

The BBC does not offer an internal review when the information requested is not covered by the Act. If you disagree with our decision you can appeal to the Information Commissioner. Contact details are: Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF telephone 01625 545 700. http://www.ico.gov.uk Please note that should the Information Commissioner’s Office decide that the Act does cover this information, exemptions under the Act might then apply.

Yours sincerely,

Colin Sellers

Head of Operations, BBC Communications, Marketing & Audiences
——————————
The long and short of this response from the BBC is that it has chosen to interpret the Act in a very loose way by extending it ‘to the sifting and review of praise and criticism from audiences, as well as the seeking of an independent view of criticism in order to undertake this review process.‘  One rule for the BBC and another for everyone else.
It would seem obvious that complaints rejected by the BBC are not used to inform the creation or improvement of programmes because they are arguing the complaints are baseless.  So, the only possible reason for withholding details of rejected complaints is to hide the extent of viewer and listener dissatisfaction with an editorial line the BBC is determined to pursue.
The BBC.  It’s what they do.  With your money.

That Met Office cold winter forecast revealed

With compliments to Bishop Hill.  While many of us await a reply to FOI requests sent to the Cabinet Office and the Met Office, Bishop Hill wrote to the Quarmby audit team to see if they had actually received a copy of the Met Office’s cold-winter forecast.

The Quarmby team have responded to Bishop Hill and have helpfully provided a copy of the forecast, reproduced below.  Fill your boots playing with the statistics…

Met Office Initial Assessment of Risk for Winter 2010/11

This covers the months of November, December and January 2010/11, this will be updated monthly through the winter and so probabilities will change.

Temperature

3 in 10 chance of a mild start

3 in 10 chance of an average start

4 in 10 chance of a cold start

Precipitation

3 in 10 chance of a wet start

3 in 10 chance of an average start

4 in 10 chance of a dry start

Summary: There is an increased risk for a cold and wintry start to the winter season.

Looking further ahead beyond this assessment there are some indications of an increased risk of a mild end to the winter season.

What stands out from this forecast is that nowhere does the Met Office say we were ‘likely to face an extremely cold winter‘, which is the line that was spun by the BBC’s Roger Harrabin on behalf of the Met Office.  The forecast above is a classic ‘hedge your bets’ effort that tallies with this Government answer to a parliamentary question about the forecast:

Francis Maude: The Met Office provide the Government with regular updates throughout the year to inform short, medium and longer term planning. In late October, the Met Office advised that temperatures during November and December were likely to be average or colder. This information was shared with Departments as part of a wider review of winter preparedness.

(My emphasis in the quote above).  The Met Office is not coming out of this at all well and their attempts at spin are backfiring badly.  I will likely return to this later tonight.

Update: 315 miles of driving later my preference is to sleep rather than blog.  But before renewing acquaintances with my duvet and commencing the nightly routine of evicting Mrs Mind from my pillow, it will be interesting to see what the FOI requests turn up.  Will we see the same information that was released by Quarmby, or will there by something else in there?  And what of Roger Harrabin?  As things stand he doesn’t look likely to come out of this one well. Fingers burned and all that?  We’ll see.

Greenpeace founder questions man made global warming

Appearing on Fox Business Network on Thursday, Patrick Moore, the co-founder of Greenpeace, said global warming is a ‘natural phenomenon,’ that there’s no proof of man-made global warming, and he suggested that ‘alarmism’ is driving politicians to create bad environmental policies.

In his interview, Moore also explains why he left Greenpeace, saying that his departure was in part due to the group’s ‘extremist positions‘ and it is being hijacked by political and social causes as well as the left.

When a parent abandons their child and decries they behaviour you can be fairly sure something is wrong with that child.  Moore’s comments seem to confirm what many people have said about the environmental lobby for some time.

You can’t fault their honesty…

But you can fault everything else!  When it comes to stupidity it seems the good folk at Northern Ireland Water are in a league of their own.  From hiring a Chief Executive with a criminal record for theft to paying him nearly £100,000 when he decided to resign, it seems NI Water’s incompetence is constantly plumbing new depths.

As water regulators scrutinise the publicly run utility following its operational implosion as tens of thousands of water pipes burst during the December freeze, a Northern Irish politician has submitted a reasonable question in a Freedom of Information request.

Jim Allister of Traditional Unionist Voice asked how long NI Water’s Dublin-based chairman, Padraic White, spends at work.  The response of this public – and therefore supposedly accountable organisation – was anything but reasonable.  As Allister explains:

“I am astounded by their refusal to answer and the utterly fatuous excuse concocted to try and keep this pertinent information from the public.

“In the most contrived and indefensible response to a FOI request that I have ever seen, NIW says releasing such information ‘could potentially prejudice the progress and outcome of the Utility Regulator’s ongoing investigation’.

“In an unbelievable fantasy trip they go on to proclaim, ‘any significant media comment and speculation generated from such disclosure could impact on NI Water having to divert resources towards management of such matters.’

“It gets better, because then they say, ‘Premature disclosure of information pertaining to the investigation, whilst the investigation is ongoing, could potentially result in closing off options through adverse public reaction’.

“And, in a telling finale they say, ‘NI Water is minded of the fact that the sensitivity of the information requested may decrease over time and that this information may be suitably released in the future.’

“I’m only asking how often Mr White turned up to work!”

It’s yet another example of how today’s public servants tend their master.  Things are run for their convenience and benefit, not those who pay their wages and suffer from substandard performance.

Allister suspects, as many others do, that White is another one of those networking Chairmen who get paid a handsome sum for a few hours work a week for no discernable benefit to the organisation – and that NI Water fears a backlash for paying out big money to a man whose Board failed to ensure the utility was fit for purpose.

5 Star Blogging

A daily selection of five blog posts recommended to you for being thought provoking, insightful, covering interesting subjects or comprising quality writing…

1. Old Holborn on Neighbourhood Watch

2. Bishop Hill on Drivel Ahoy

3. the Air Vent on What Evidence for ‘Unprecedented Warming’?

4. Toque on Britishness Is The Closest Thing The BBC Has To A Religion

5. Captain Ranty on Dail Eireann Disintegrates…

And a must read post about fraud closing the European carbon market…

6. EU Referendum on Wholesale Plunder

FairFuel UK

Fuel prices are rocketing. Road haulage companies, general businesses and private motorists are hurting. The whole economy is suffering. Fuel prices are the talk of the nation and the Prime Minister and his senior colleagues are being pressed from all angles on this issue. We believe that there is a window of opportunity to persuade the Government to tackle rising fuel prices. We have joined with the FTA to support http://www.fairfueluk.com/, which seeks to represent all road users, and is an addition to existing, intensive lobbying activity from the RHA.

We can make a difference but need your help and the help of everyone in and close to your organisation! The campaign aims are to see the next fuel duty hike planned for April which would add another 3.5 pence per litre scrapped AND to get the Government to bring in a fuel price stabiliser.

This campaign does not support blockades or any disruptive action. It does believe that MASSIVE lobbying of the politicians can and does work. It is being organised on our behalf by Peter Carroll. Peter has wide experience in the road haulage industry and founded and ran the Gurkha Campaign that won the right to live in Britain for brave Gurkha soldiers. Peter and his team at Why Not Campaign Limited are now fighting for a fair deal on fuel.

We need you to sign up at http://www.fairfueluk.com/and getting all your friends and contacts to do the same. The more that sign up – the greater the chance of success. We request that you forward this email to all your contacts and ask them, in turn, to forward it to all of theirs. Please try and get drivers, managers, admin staff, suppliers, customers, friends and family to sign. By this means, we will reach the tens of thousands of people that we need to be behind us.

Geoff Dunning
Chief Executive

It’s not just the BBC

Another national broadcaster also willfully ignores the evidence, as we learn from Jennifer Marohasy.  This time it is ABC in Australia which is exhibiting unadulterated bias to further an agenda in its reporting on the devastating floods in Queensland.

But let’s remind ourselves anyway of the information and viewpoints about climate change the BBC refuses to give air time to…

It seems wherever you go in this world the mainstream media is determined to set aside impartial reporting of the facts and promotion of debate between two opposing views, and instead they appoint themselves judges of the truth and decide what we, the public, should be allowed to see and hear.

This state of affairs increases the value and importance of blogs in the developing information war.  Without dedicated bloggers around the world providing counter arguments with the oxygen of awareness; and revealing the vested interests of those whose opinions are broadcast and published as fact by a supportive media machine, how else will the public have any idea of the other side of any story?

Warsi opens prejudice can of worms

This morning I started shaping my response to that antithesis of meritocracy, Baroness Warsi, who is now directing her hectoring tones to the issue of ‘Islamophobia’ and what she describes as prejudice against Muslims.

The focus of my post was on the definition of the words prejudice and phobia and how these two words are now routinely abused by those who seek to unjustly demonise people for what they think. But I have just seen that Longrider has already said it all with great clarity, and therefore I warmly commend his fine post to you.

There are people who are ignorant and hostile to a group of people purely because of their identity or race.  That stereotyping makes them bigots.  But for many people their dislike of certain individuals has been formed through experience and knowledge gained through interaction and close observation.  There is a big difference.

When such discerning people are criticised for possessing the informed viewpoint they do – which is what Warsi risks doing – that makes the critics the bigoted ones.  It is something Baroness Warsi would be well advised to be mindful of, before her comments form the central plank of a new attack on freedom of thought.

Update: Gawain also offers a valuable contribution to the debate.  Lord Tebbit explains why Warsi should not have plunged into this argument.  His Grace also turns his formidable intellect to the discussion. Dick Puddlecote says Warsi should not be surprised at concern about Muslims after the hysterical security measures against Islamist terror attacks.

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Spin, distortion and Edinburgh by electric car

A great story from Lewis Page in The Register.  You may be familiar with the recent test drive of an electric car from London to Edinburgh carried out by Brian Milligan of the BBC, which took four days and where only public charging points were permitted to be used.

Coverage such as this in EU Referendum, which put the journey into context, led to an outpouring of anger from those who have a vested interest in the market for electric vehicles, and those eco warriors who are determined to see an end to the petroleum powered internal combustion engine.  The industry talking heads immediately criticised the BBC for the choice of car, a converted Mini E which had been created for the purpose of testing and for trials, even though Milligan’s said the car is a mass produced electric vehicle (EV).

To prove that an electric car could perform much better than Milligan’s test suggested, electric car company Tesla found a way to demonstrate that the bad press wasn’t accurate for all electric vehicles. That day, David Peilow, described as an electric-vehicle advocate, picked up a Tesla Roadster at the Tesla store in London and drove it to Edinburgh in a single day.

Peilow took a route up the M6 which was shorter, at just a little over 400 miles. Tesla says he charged up at 240-volt outlets along the way, as needed. The only charge stop described in any detail was during dinner at a Motorway service area in Tebay, about 270 miles north of London. With the Roadster’s seat heaters, Peilow did not suffer from the cold.

Impressive?  Hmmm.

It should be impressive for as Lewis Page points out in The Register, the car used by Tesla for their rebuttal stunt certainly was.  Whereas Milligan had used what will likely turn out to be a mass produced car, Tesla’s Roadster was the ‘Sport’ version – at £88,000 a pop it is a somewhat different animal to the Mini.

Context is everything.  If this was an aviation challenge, it would be like pitting a Cessna 172 against a Learjet and saying the Learjet’s performance was evidence that Cessnas are great medium range cruising aircraft.

Update: In addition to the comments, I reproduce a polite email from one gentleman who read this piece and adds to the debate:

Hi,

Just read your article.

It was actually a non-sport version he drove but that doesn’t make any difference on the range. Read the first post here

http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/showthread.php/4914-BBC-FUD-Fest-Mini-E-London-to-Edinburgh/page10

I don’t think it was a stunt by Tesla.  He actually drove a production car (not a prototype that will never be produced) and did it without doing anything unusual to get there.

Thanks,

David

The point I am making is Tesla’s choice of ‘production’ car.  Surely something akin to the non-production Mini E that was used would have been a genuine comparison.  That is why I consider this to have been a stunt conceived at high speed (excuse the irony) by Tesla’s marketing team who were no doubt worried about the impact on future sales as a result of Milligan’s observations.

Government not taking immigration seriously

One of my pet loathings of parliamentarians is the techniques some of them use to avoid answering a question that could cause them embarrassment and stir anger among voters.

The latest example of this can be seen in a written answer to a question asked about the use of the European Convention on Human Rights to avoid legal removal from the UK.

Mr Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many deportations from the UK did not proceed as a consequence of the application of the provisions of (a) Article 3 and (b) Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights in each year since 2005; and if she will make a statement.

Damian Green: In responding to this question, we have assumed ‘deportations’ to mean ‘removals’.

The UK Border Agency does not record this information centrally. Providing a breakdown of specific reasons for removals not to be pursued, either at initial decision stage or following a successful appeal, can only be determined by investigating individual case files which would incur a disproportionate cost.

If this country takes immigration matters seriously then this is exactly the kind of information the Home Office Department should be recording centrally. Perhaps there was a conscious decision made not to record this information centrally because it would highlight the systemic failures within the Home Department and the reveal the true extent of ECHR interference in Britain’s ability to determine who may reside here.

What is also interesting is the call for a statement has been completely ignored. Despite immigration being one of the top three issues for voters at the last election, the government has no interest in upholding our laws, dealing with offenders correctly or being held to account on the subject.

The Labour opposition do not care about this issue. After all, it was they who deliberately opened up this country’s borders in the first place to make the UK more multicultural and diverse.  The Lib Dems want a world without borders run by the UN so they don’t care.  So that leaves the mainstream media, who are now permanently asleep at the wheel and would not look at this issue unless it landed on their desk in the form of a press release; and bloggers increasingly embarrass the media by uncovering such an issue and probing at it until someone prominent adopts it as a problem in need of remedy – at which point the media arrives to present the story as their own exclusive.


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