BBC Breakfast – Wednesday 1 August 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 Wednesday at 5:30am U.S. East Coast time.  Coming up, the distinguished writer and commentator Gore Vidal has died at his home in the United States.  We’ll look back at his career and speak to one of those who knew him well.  And we’ll hear from the man himself on life, politics, and bad reviews:

Vidal: The United States hates its own writers, they really hate us.  Between Mailer and me, we had more bad reviews than Osama bin Laden got.

(Full story at 9:00 mark)

Damon: Plus, criticism of four Olympic badminton teams after they seemed to move Heaven and Earth to lose the game guaranteeing an easier draw for the next round.

Woman: The poor crowd who had to watch, who paid good money, you cannot do this in Olympic games.  This is something that is just not acceptable.

(Full story at 3:00 mark)

Damon: First the news.

Jonathan Izard: BBC news with Jonathan Izard. 

  1. China has launched an investigation into charges that two of its badminton players tried to lose their matches at the Olympics.  The Chinese, along with two pairs from South Korea and one from Indonesia, were loudly booed by the crowd and are facing disciplinary action by the badminton world federation.  Some of the players said they were conserving energy, but reports suggest they wanted to lose in order to gain an easier time in the next round.
  2. The Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, says the fate of Syria depends on the battle currently being fought with rebels.  In a statement addressed to the army, Mr. Assad said the destiny of the Syrian people and the nation past, present and future, rested on the outcome.  An activist group says fighting has now broken out in a Christian neighborhood in Damascus.
  3. Meanwhile, Amnesty International has accused Syria of committing crimes against humanity.  The group says that earlier this year government forces in Aleppo opened fire on peaceful protesters and bystanders, including children. 
  4. An Israeli law which has long exempted Ultra Orthodox Jews from military service has expired.  Tens of thousands of Ultra Orthodox men could now be called up, prompting an angry response. 
  5. An inquiry is underway in India into what caused the massive power failures on two consecutive days which affected more than six hundred million (600,000,000) people.  It took until the early hours of Wednesday to fix the three grids.
  6. A new report by Human Rights Watch says there’s been a campaign of violence by the Burmese authorities against a Muslim minority following sectarian clashes.  Violence spread in June between Rohingya Muslims and Buddhists in western Burma.  The report accuses the security forces of first standing by, and then carrying out killings, rapes and mass arrests that targeted Muslims. 
  7. One of America’s most successful and distinguished writers and commentators, Gore Vidal, has died in Los Angeles.  He was 86.  Gore Vidal wrote such best selling books as “The City and the Pillar”, which was among the first novels to feature openly gay characters. 

BBC World Service News.

Second the Snark

Mostly news this morning, though why they felt the need to dedicate a third of their airtime to a sport as perennially obscure as badminton (1) is a little baffling.  Similarly, Vidal (7) was an interesting guy, but hardly one who needs a lot of remembering on a morning news broadcast. 

Among the living and relevant, Syria continues to battle itself.  The Amnesty International report can simply be added to the list of outside groups, countries and individuals that have credibly accused the Assad government of indiscriminately killing many of its own people.  And the Assad statement is just that, a statement of no real meaning.  It isn’t like he hasn’t already promised to stay and fight to the last.  Meanwhile, as in many wars, both sides are claiming progress and saying the other is full of shit.  One thing is for sure though, the government is not in control of Aleppo. 

The initial blame for the Indian blackout is being fixed on individual states that tried to draw more power than was available.  Once again, the Hindustan Times has a nice article and a few informative graphics about what happened and why.  And, yes, it could happen again if individuals fail to maintain “grid discipline”. 

East of India, The Rohingya live in and around the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar, and are a small minority in both countries.  Al Jazeera has a recap of the mundanely terrible events that led to the Human Rights Watch report:

The riots followed two brutal incidents in Rakhine state: the May 28 rape and murder of a Rakhine woman by three Rohingya males, who were sentenced to death, and the June 3 lynching in response of 10 non-Rohingya Muslims travelling on a bus.

Human Rights Watch said police and troops did not intervene to stop the mobs from beating the Muslims to death. During the riots that followed, it said some Rohingyas who tried to flee or put out fires at their homes were shot at by paramilitaries.

Finally, while it’s now legally possible for Ultra Orthodox men in Israel to be drafted, no one is going to be inducted for at least a month.  The real question is whether or not this will cause Benjamin Netanyahu’s fundamentalist allies to crash his parliamentary majority or not.  Fundamentalists being a naturally ornery constituency, it’s very possible, but it’s also Israeli politics, so who the hell knows?

Posted August 1, 2012 by Charlie Sweatpants in Uncategorized

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