BBC Breakfast – Wednesday 8 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:

Neil Nunez: BBC News with Neil Nunez.

  1. Egyptian state television says the security forces have killed as many as twenty (20) Islamist militants and destroyed two armored vehicles in the Sinai Peninsula near the border with Israel.  The security forces used helicopter gunships against the militants near the town of al-Arish hours after militants opened fire on three security checkpoints in the town.
  2. Iran has acknowledged for the first time that the group of forty-eight (48) Iranian hostages being held by rebels in Syria include former members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.  Tehran had previously insisted that the group were all pilgrims visiting sites in Syria.
  3. Meanwhile, both government and rebel forces are reporting more shelling and clashes in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo.  Activists say more than forty (40) people were killed in the city on Tuesday.  The human rights group Amnesty International has said that it is increasingly concerned about the welfare of civilians in Aleppo after satellite images revealed more than six hundred new craters a few kilometers outside the city.
  4. Over sixty percent (60%) of the Philippine capital Manila is underwater after more than a week of heavy rain.  The head of the national disaster agency described the city as a water world with the roads in some areas like rivers.  The floods have killed at least sixteen (16) people.
  5. NATO forces in Afghanistan say three of its members have died in a suicide attack in the east of the country.  Reports said one Afghan also died.  The soldiers were members of a foot patrol in Kunar province and were killed by two bombers.  The Taliban said they carried out the attack.
  6. India will be hoping to improve on its slim medal tally at the London Olympic Games today when one of its biggest sports stars, Mary Kom, fights for a place in the flyweight boxing finals.  The 29-year-old, a five time world champion, is already guaranteed at least a bronze medal.

BBC News.

Second the Snark:

Just six headlines today, but only one about the Olympics, so it’s mostly real news.  On the other hand, simply noting the continued casualties in Afghanistan and Syria isn’t really “new”, plural or otherwise.  The Syrian government appears to be making a big push to regain control of Aleppo, but that’s the same thing they were doing last week.  Similarly, the Taliban claiming credit for blowing up a few NATO soldiers is the same thing they’ve been doing for the last decade.

The Iranian hostage story is a little more complicated, if for no other reason than everything involving Iran and Syria is complicated:

Saeed Jalili, a senior aide to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told Assad that Iran will continue to back the Syrian government.

During talks with Assad, Jalili said that what was happening in Syria was "not an internal issue".

It is "a conflict between the axis of resistance on one hand, and the regional and global enemies of this axis on the other," Jalili said.

On Monday, while on a visit to Beirut, the Lebanese capital, Jalili issued a veiled warning to countries backing the rebels.

"Those who believe that, by developing insecurity in the countries of the region by sending arms and exporting terrorism, they are buying security for themselves are wrong," Iran’s official IRNA news agency quoted him as telling Adnan Mansour, Lebanon’s foreign minister.

That message is probably aimed more at the Saudis than it is at anyone else.  The Kingdom is supposedly at the forefront of arming the Syrian rebels, but it also had to basically give its population a massive bribe last year to forestall a popular uprising. 

In Egypt, the government has had to use helicopters against “militants” in the Sinai for the first time since 1973.  That story is far too fresh and confusing for outsiders to make much of it yet, especially given the unsettled nature of Egyptian politics at the moment. 

BBC has some incredible pictures of the flooding in Manila, including one of people floating past a very prosperous looking “Executive Tower”. 

Posted August 8, 2012 by Charlie Sweatpants in Uncategorized

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