BBC Breakfast – Tuesday 31 July 2012   Leave a comment

[At around 7am every morning, the BBC World Service publishes its Daily Commute podcast.  It’s a fantastic source of news, albeit one with a lot of flaws.  This post is a transcript and critique of the first three minutes.  You can listen to the entire thirty minute program on-line or download the mp3 at their website.]

First the News:

Female Announcer: This is a download from the BBC.  To find out more and our terms of use, go to

Dan Damon: This is Dan Damon with your World Update Daily Commute recorded on Tuesday at 5:30am U.S. East Coast time.  Coming up, sixteen-year-old Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen rejects suggestions she took performance enhancing drugs to achieve her stunning gold medal victory at the London Olympics.  One U.S. coach labeled her swim impossible, but is it?

Australian Professor: It is difficult to know, and I guess that’s why the speculation is out there.  And we don’t know too much about her history before this particular point.

(Full story at 3:00 mark)

Damon: Another huge power failure in India, this time half of the population is affected.  How al-Qaeda’s building it’s strength in Syria extending its anti-Shia ideology from Iraq.  But will Syrian Sunnis reject the Islamists? 

Guardian Reporter: Sunni Islam in Syria is not the same Sunni Islam in Iraq.  The Syrians are more pragmatic, they’re not as bloody and mad as the Iraqis, I can say that.

(Full story at 13:00 mark)

Damon: First the news.

Neil Nunes: BBC news with Neil Nunes. 

  1. A massive power cut has hit India for the second day in a row, leaving about six hundred million (600,000,000) people without electricity.  The grid failed again in the north and has now also collapsed in the east.  In Delhi, the metro system has ground to a halt, long distance trains have also been hit, while hospitals and other essential services are running on backup generators.
  2. China’s sixteen-year-old swimmer Ye Shiwen has strongly denied that she took performance enhancing drugs to achieve her stunning gold medal victory at the London Olympics on Saturday.  She smashed the world record in the 400 meter medley, swimming the final lap faster than the men’s champion in the same event.  Ye Shiwen has not failed a drugs test.
  3. The Syrian army has continued to battle rebels in Aleppo, with reports of more clashes and helicopter gunship attacks.  Activists say more than twenty-five people died there on Monday, while refugees continue to stream out of the city. 
  4. A UN assessment team is visiting flood damaged parts of North Korea following heavy rains that’s reported to have left some ninety (90) people dead.  Photographs in the state media showed buildings and trees submerged in muddy water, and rivers running through streets.
  5. Scientists in the United States have identified a new strain of flu which they say could pose a threat to human health.  H3N8 has been associated with the deaths of seals in New England.  The scientists say the mutation means H3N8 also has the ability to target the human respiratory tract. 
  6. The Red Cross in Kenya says more than thirty-thousand (30,000) Ethiopian refugees have arrived in the north of the country after clashes last week between rival ethnic groups.  Food and water are scarce. 
  7. Australian police have seized what they say is one of the largest ever hauls of illegal drugs.  Crystal methamphetamine and heroin, worth more than half-a-billion ($500,000,000) dollars, were hidden in imported terra cotta pots. 

Second the Snark:

Only two of the headlines today aren’t news, but since there’s only seven of them, the non-news still comes close to a third of the total.  The Chinese swimmer’s record breaking speed (2) isn’t of any real concern to anyone outside of competitive swimming.  In general, performance enhancing drugs accusations, tests, and denials are always a waste of time.  The tests suck, real cheaters will always have an advantage, everyone has a reason to lie, and the moral panic involved is useless and dumb. 

Speaking of moral panic, the morning’s other non-news story is the chemical seizure in Australia (7).  Dope on the table is the least interesting drug story there is.  The value the cops assign is always inflated, and no one, not even the narcs themselves, really thinks these kinds of seizures do anything to reduce illegal drug use. 

In real news, The Hindustan Times has full coverage of the Indian blackout, including explanations of how the grid failed in the first place.  Temperatures in India are set to remain in the 90s through the rest of the week, so this may go on for some time. 

In Syria, fighting inside Aleppo continues, but Al Jazeera has video of the rebels taking a captured government tank on a victory lap after they drove the Syrian army from the town of al-Bab near Aleppo.  The report has amazing combat footage and interviews with Syrian soldiers who deserted after the food ran out. 

There isn’t much further information on the North Korean flooding, though BBC does have an AFP picture of submerged buildings.  Ditto the seal flu in the US.  BBC’s story on that is so isolated that the automatic “related reading” feature is stories from three and four years ago. 

There also isn’t much else on the Ethiopian refugees headed into Kenya, though between Somalia and Ethiopia, northern Kenya already has a massive, semi-permanent refugee population on its hands.  Another 30,000 people isn’t going to cause the rest of the world to start giving a shit.

Posted July 31, 2012 by Charlie Sweatpants in Uncategorized

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