Friday, May 08, 2009

That famous journalistic "fact-checking" that makes newspapers so superior to blogs

AN Irish student's fake quote on the Wikipedia online encyclopedia has been used in newspaper obituaries around the world, the Irish Times reports. The quote was attributed to French composer Maurice Jarre who died in March. Shane Fitzgerald, 22, a final-year student studying sociology and economics at University College Dublin, told the newspaper he placed the quote on the website as an experiment when doing research on globalisation.

He quoted Oscar-winning composer Jarre as saying, "One could say my life itself has been one long soundtrack. Music was my life, music brought me to life, and music is how I will be remembered long after I leave this life. "When I die there will be a final waltz playing in my head, that only I can hear."

The quote was posted on Wikipedia shortly after Jarre's death and later appeared in obituaries in major British, Indian and Australian newspapers.

Mr Fitzgerald told the newspaper he picked Wikipedia because it was something a lot of journalists look at and it can be edited by anyone.

While he was wary about the ethical implications of using someone's death as a social experiment, he had carefully generated the quote so as not to distort or taint Jarre's life, he said.

Mr Fitzgerald said he was shocked by the result of his experiment. "I didn't expect it to go that far. I expected it to be in blogs and sites, but on mainstream quality papers? I was very surprised about," he said. He said the hoax remained undiscovered for weeks until he emailed the newspapers that had been deceived to tell them that they had published an inaccurate quote.

The Irish Times said that despite some newspapers removing the quote from their websites or carrying a correction and the fact that it had been dropped by Wikipedia, it remained intact on dozens of blogs, websites and newspapers.



Israel savages UN report on Gaza attacks

And the UN has gone very wobbly on it

ISRAELI officials lashed out yesterday at a UN report accusing the Jewish state of "negligence or recklessness" in attacks on UN facilities in the Gaza Strip during its war with Hamas in January. "The spirit of the report and its language are tendentious and entirely unbalanced," the Israeli Foreign Ministry said.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who reportedly accused Israel of lying about the damage it caused to UN facilities in the three-week conflict, nevertheless rejected the report's call for a full and impartial investigation into the war. He tempered the report's findings by telling a press conference that Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip "faced and continue to face indiscriminate rocket attacks by Hamas and other militant groups".

The five-man inquiry commission was led by Ian Martin, a Briton who is a former head of Amnesty International. Its brief was to investigate casualties or damage involving UN facilities in Gaza but its conclusions touch on broader humanitarian issues regarding Israel's use of massive firepower in the densely populated strip.

Mr Ban refused to publish the complete 184-page report but released his own summary of it. The report accused Israel of "varying degrees of negligence or recklessness" towards UN facilities in its Gaza operation and said the deaths of civilians should be investigated under international humanitarian law...

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said the report ignored the fact that Hamas and other militants had fired about 4000 rockets and mortar shells at Israel. "After eight years, we said 'enough'. We have the most moral army in the world. Responsibility lies solely with Hamas."

A central issue in the UN inquiry was a much-publicised incident at the Jabaliya refugee camp, where more than 40 civilians were reported killed inside a UN school compound by Israeli mortar fire, according to the Palestinians. UN officials in the area initially lent credence to the report. In response, Israeli officials said the army was responding to Hamas mortar fire from the compound. It eventually emerged that no Hamas fire had come from the compound and that no Israeli shells had hit the compound...

The first of the commission's 11 recommendations was that the UN seek "formal acknowledgment by the Government of Israel that its public statements alleging Palestinians fired" from within the UN school compound "were untrue and regretted". The report, however, apparently made no mention of the initial claims that Israeli shells had hit the school, causing more than 40 civilian casualties - a claim supported at the time by a UN agency - which were also untrue...

"When we saw the summary of the report, we were appalled," said an Israeli official to the news agency YNet. "It was written as if they didn't listen, didn't understand, maybe didn't want to understand."



Nigel Farage, the Leader of the UK Independence Party, gets the European Parliament right

This is one of the best political speeches I have heard for a long time. Do American politicians ever speak so frankly and forcefully? I think the GOP should recruit him, myself. He is referring to the Fascistic decision by the EU parliament to act as if their huge new "constitution" had been approved by the voters when in fact majorities in France, Ireland and Nederland (Holland) have rejected it at the ballot box

He points out that abuse is all they have to offer when he points out the impropriety of their actions. Sound familiar?

"A complete shower" is British slang meaning a group of completely incompetent and useless failures. It originated in the British armed forces where its unabbreviated version was "A complete shower of sh*t". I wonder how the EU translators translated it? It probably stumped them. All of the Anglospheric countries have rich slang vocabularies that are not usually in the dictionaries and which are not fully understood even in other Anglospheric countries. If I had been giving the speech above, I might well have called the EU parliament "a mob of drongoes", which is a rough translation into Australian English of Farage's remark.

Farage's UKIP is a minor British conservative party because the mainstream Tories include a substantial number of Europe-lovers. UKIP wants Britain out of the EU. I personally think that membership of NAFTA would suit Britain better than membership of the EU.



Klaus vetoes Czech approval of Lisbon Treaty: “The Czech President Vaclav Klaus said he would not ratify the Lisbon Treaty after it was approved by the senate yesterday, raising a new obstacle to plans to reform the EU. Mr Klaus explained that he would not sign the treaty because of its rejection by Irish voters last year and an expected court challenge in the Czech Republic.”

Pentagon to add 20,000 more bureaucrats: “Under pressure to overhaul its troubled weapons-buying process, the U.S. Defense Department is planning to add 20,000 new federal jobs over five years to reinforce its ability to handle contracts, cost estimates and oversight, the deputy defense secretary said Wednesday. William Lynn told the Senate Armed Services Committee that as the department increases personnel, it also will move toward more fixed-price contracts, scrutinize programs more closely and link incentive payments to contractors’ performance.”

Report: FBI slow to update terror watchlist: "The FBI has been slow to update the national terror suspect watchlist — and the lapses pose real risks to U.S. security, a Justice Department audit has found. A report by the Justice Department’s Inspector General, Glenn Fine, found that 12 terror suspects who were either not watchlisted or were slow to be added to the list may have traveled into or out of the United States during the period when they were not placed on the list.”

Trickle-down corruption: “The White House, as a matter of policy, is rewriting legal contracts, picking winners (mostly labor unions and mortgage defaulters) and singling out losers (evil ’speculators’), while much of the media continue to ponder whether Obama is already a greater president than FDR. If a Republican administration, staffed with cronies from Goldman Sachs and Citibank, were cutting special deals for its political allies, I suspect we’d be hearing fewer FDR analogies and more nouns ending with the suffix ‘gate.’”

Britain got there first: "General Motors is now co-owned by the American taxpayer and labor unions. As a Briton, I find this development astonishing. It repeats the mistakes of the 1970s Labor government, which essentially killed off the British auto industry. America should avoid the same mistake. By the late 1960s, most of Britain’s famous motor industry names—including Rover, Austin, Morris, Triumph and Jaguar—had consolidated into a “Big Two”: British Motor Holdings (BMH) and Leyland Motor Corporation (LMC). LMC was profitable; BMH was not. BMH was trying to sell cars that reflected the tastes of a bygone era—its Morris Minor, for example, had been designed in 1948. Foreign-owned companies were making cars in the UK that were more to the buying public’s taste, like the famous Ford Cortina, which gave much better performance and fuel economy. Sound familiar? In 1968, the Labor government encouraged the merger of BMH and LMC into British Leyland Motor Company (BL). This company maintained production of a variety of brands that competed against each other, and engaged in a research and development crash program to develop new cars that people would actually want to buy. The results were the Morris Marina, a car that my family happily bought and even more happily discarded, and the Austin Allegro. Both models sold strongly, on the basis that they were British (huzzah!), but in the end their shoddy design destroyed the reputation of British automaking.... All these struggles bought was time. The company was simply not viable. Ironically, today the most productive car plant in Europe is in my home town of Sunderland, where 5,000 workers build 330,000 Nissan cars a year. There are still around 250,000 people employed in the design and manufacture of vehicles in the UK, more than BL employed in Mrs. Thatcher’s time.

Increase trade with Korea, check China: “The People’s Republic of China is ever more confident, challenging U.S. naval ships in the South China Sea and the U.S. dollar in international forums. China has displaced America as the No. 1 trading partner with leading East Asian states. How do the Obama administration and Democratic Congress respond? By retreating economically from the region. Barack Obama called the U.S.-South Korean free trade agreement ‘badly flawed’ and urged the Bush administration not to even submit it for ratification. U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk calls the agreement ‘unacceptable.’ Although increased trade with South Korea is ‘one of the biggest opportunities we have,’ he affirms that the administration ‘will step away from that if we don’t get it right.’ This policy represents economic and geostrategic folly. Washington should be expanding American investment and trade opportunities in East Asia. The starting point should be to ratify the South Korean trade agreement.”


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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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