Thursday, May 26, 2011
Biased BBC accused of ageism after 'snubbing pensioners from Question Time panel because the studios are too hot'
The BBC was last night accused of ageism by a national pensioners’ group. Question Time bosses are said to have told the National Pensioners Convention that its representatives could not appear on the show’s panel because they ‘wouldn’t be able to cope with the lights and the stress of a live broadcast’.
The convention, which has 1.5 million members, claims the remarks were made in a meeting with Question Time bosses. The organisation is planning to protest outside the venue of tonight’s show in Exeter as part of a campaign to get an invitation.
It accuses the programme of ignoring campaigners for the elderly on its panels and said the broadcaster did not want to ‘acknowledge our existence’ or ‘our right to a voice in society’.
But show insiders last night hit back, pointing out that Dame Joan Bakewell, vocal campaigner for the elderly, was on the show in October 2009. In recent times Question Time, which is presented by 72-year-old David Dimbleby, has included Dr David Starkey, 66, Sir Max Hastings, 65, Max Mosley, 71, Lord Ashdown, 70 and Vince Cable, 68. Last night the BBC said: ‘We have found no evidence to support these comments having been made.’
Convention general secretary Dot Gibson, 76, said: ‘The first time we applied in 2008 we were told we weren’t well known enough as an organisation. Then we were told our representatives wouldn’t be able to cope with the lights and the stress of a live broadcast. 'It’s ridiculous and condescending and smacks of ageism. We have accused the BBC of ageism in the past as it seems they don’t want to acknowledge our existence or our right to a voice in society.’
'They have never had a representative for people of pensionable age on before I think it is absolutely ludicrous when there are 11 million people of that age in our society.'
Ms Gibson added: 'They have representatives from student groups, fascists, political parties, trade unions and even comedians. 'There's simply a refusal to accept that there is a pensioner movement in this country and that we are officially represented.
'Obviously last year the government were introducing cuts which would have affected people of pensionable age.
'We would have been happy to be invited on at this time, but they didn't get in contact. 'The most recent correspondence we have had they said we can go on this month but only in the audience.' It is claimed that the remarks about coping with the ‘lights’ and ‘stress’ were made at a meeting with show bosses in November 2008.
Members of the pensioners group say inclusion on the programme would offer a valid perspective on the nature of public sector and pension cuts on the elderly.
A BBC spokesman said: ‘Question Time prides itself on representing all sections of society. ‘Both the Question Time panel and audience are chosen to reflect a wide range of demographics which includes pensioners.’ He added: ‘Many of our panellists are over or close to the age of retirement, including 20 in the current series, as are members of the invited audience.’
A spokesman also denied shunning the National Pensioners Convention and said they had a guest who represented the elderly during a show in October 2009.
Anti-abortionists on British sex education panel... to fury of the left
An anti-abortion charity has been given a key role advising the Government on sexual health. Life – a group which believes teenagers should be encouraged to be abstinent – has been appointed to join a committee which will help draw up policy on sex education.
But there are concerns the pro-life charity is so opposed to contraception and abortion it may hinder practical discussions on the panel. The country’s largest abortion provider, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, which played a major role advising the previous government, has been snubbed from the committee.
Ministers set up the Sexual Health Forum in February to replace Labour’s Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health and HIV. It is made up of 11 organisations including Marie Stopes International – another major abortion provider – the Family Planning Association and teenage sexual advisory service Brook.
It will meet regularly to discuss issues such as sex education, tackling teenage pregnancy and HIV.
Former Liberal Democrat MP Evan Harris warned the inclusion of Life could ‘prevent the panel having frank and open discussions because you have a group there committed to opposing current policy’. He said: ‘When you have an organisation campaigning against the law and against current policy, which is pro-contraception and about ensuring that abortion is a choice, the risk is that you prevent the panel being given access to confidential information.’
Government officials insist it would be impractical to include both BPAS and Marie Stopes on the panel as their views would be too similar.
But Ann Furedi, chief executive of BPAS, said: ‘We are disappointed and troubled to learn that having initially been invited to the Sexual Health Forum we have been uninvited, particularly now we understand that Life have been offered a seat at the table. ‘We find it puzzling the Department of Health would want a group that is opposed to abortion and provides no sexual health services on its Sexual Health Forum.’
Life has already been given a key role advising the Government on sexual health education policy. Last week the charity was appointed as the founding member of the Sex and Relationships Education council, an umbrella body launched in Parliament with the backing of Education Secretary Michael Gove.
Stuart Cowie, Life’s head of education, said it would seek to build ‘common ground’ with other members of the panel. He said: ‘We are delighted to be invited into the group, representing views that have not always been around on similar tables in the past. ‘If we can be involved in reducing the number of abortions, that fits with our charitable objectives and I don’t think is unpalatable to anyone else, regardless of their position on when life begins.’
The Department of Health said: ‘To provide balance, it is important that a wide range of interests and views are represented on the Sexual Health Forum. Marie Stopes International and the BPAS have similar interests. We offered them shared membership but they declined.’
French Prez. says internet freedom will lead to anarchy
Nicolas Sarkozy has claimed the lack of regulation online risks plunging the world into anarchy. In an extraordinary attack on internet freedoms, the French president said that governments must be included in regulating the virtual world. He claimed that excluding officials took 'the risk of democratic chaos and hence anarchy.'
'Now that the internet is an integral part of most people's lives, it would be contradictory to exclude governments from this huge forum,' he said.
'Nobody could nor should forget that these governments are the only legitimate representatives of the will of the people in our democracies. 'To forget this is to take the risk of democratic chaos and hence anarchy.'
Mr Sarkozy''s comments were addressed to an audience of leading multimedia executives who had gathered in Paris for a conference ahead of the G8 summit.
Plans by Mr Sarkozy for global co-operation in regulating the internet will be opposed by David Cameron, it was reported today. A Downing Street official said: 'We will not be regulating the internet any time soon.'
The announcement came as debates raged over the legality of breaking injunctions such as the one taken out by Ryan Giggs via internet-based media such as Twitter.
Mr Sarkozy's comments angered Google Inc's Eric Schmidt, who said no one would win if ‘some stupid rule,’ stunted the growth of the web.
Mr Sarkozy is notorious among techies for creating a law that calls for copyright pirates to be cut off from the internet.
He caused further animosity when he lauded the gathering of tough tech titans executives, that included Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, for helping fuel the Arab spring and spurring economic growth.
At the summit held in Paris, the French politician softened his usually tough stance on internet regulation but stark divisions remained on everything from privacy to copyright.
As speakers paraded on a stage built in the Tuileries Gardens of central Paris, deep rifts between policymakers and internet executives became apparent, with few signs of how they would be resolved in the two-day forum.
A draft communique, which is being finalised for release at the conclusion of the forum, suggests that the gathering will paper over the deepest divisions and shy away from making concrete policy proposals.
The draft will urge G8 leaders to adopt an international approach to protecting users' personal data but will sidestep the fraught issue of intellectual property by leaving it largely under the purview of national governments.
Revenge of the "Ruling Class"
On May 10, 2011 a Wyoming grassroots organization created a political firestorm within the state’s Republican Party by sending an e-mail to its office holders that asked two highly inflammatory questions, along with a declaration of its intentions to publicize any responses to those questions. Furthermore, having dealt for years with the standard liberal tactic of officials who dodged queries of this type by simply ignoring them, the organization also advised recipients that non-responses would be regarded as negatives.
The reactions from within the party were immediate and furious. Some accused the organization of engaging in “bullying and intimidation,” while others threatened legal action against it. Still others, straining the boundaries of credibility and severing any tenuous ties with reality, asserted that the organization was engaged in some manner of moneymaking scheme and that the letter was an integral part of it.
So just what was the nature and motivation of this insidious organization? And what were the provocative and malicious questions that caused all of the uproar? “WyWatch,” the group that undertook this evaluation of the condition of the Wyoming GOP, is a totally volunteer organization of citizens who have become concerned with the degradation of their society, and the seeming inability of their state’s ostensibly “conservative” government to forestall or reverse this ongoing decay.
As to the questions, in their entirety they were “Do you agree that the [Wyoming Republican] Party platform establishes terms under which elected and appointed officials exercise their power?” and “Do you agree with the principles enumerated in the Party Platform?” Furthermore, it is noteworthy that the correspondence contained a space in which respondents could elaborate on their sentiments, whether in support or opposition to the questions.
While some who received the e-mail did indeed merely answer the questions in the affirmative or state their contentions with certain concepts suggested therein, others clearly construed a mere request for information regarding their personal stances as an affront and an outrage, whereupon they caterwauled their opposition to it.
Though seemingly an isolated event in a single low population state, it would be wise for the conservative grassroots across America to take note of this occurrence and recognize its ramifications for the rest of the nation. As the nation undergoes the current political upheaval, similar incidents are unfolding in a thousand different settings from one coast to the other, all bearing witness to the same set of conflicting attitudes among aspiring power brokers pitted against those who are ultimately forced to live under the laws and regulations imposed on them.
Once one wades past all of the hysteria, it becomes apparent that the single element of the WyWatch inquiry which generated so much resentment was its demand for accountability. For years, public officials in the Cowboy State have remained relatively unaccountable to the citizenry, with the sole exception being a necessity to steer clear of any frontal attacks on the Second Amendment. But apart from that, a wholly self-serving and autocratic Republican Party has coalesced over the years, and has been relatively free to drift inexorably left, delving ever deeper into bureaucratic bloat and governing excess, all under the rubric of Wyoming being America’s “most Republican” (and presumably most “conservative”) state.
As a result freedoms are regularly being encroached upon, and cultural norms are disappearing while the legislature and state government fritter and chatter. Wyoming is now one of only two states west of New York that has no defense of marriage statute on the books. And state government spending per capita is among the highest in the nation, with no consideration of any serious effort to reverse the trend. Over the years, the state legislature has instead seen fit to studiously protect the public from the horrendous and burgeoning menace posed by whole milk taken from privately owned cows.
No doubt, those at the “inner circles” of power in Wyoming had expected their unchecked revelry to continue indefinitely. Private citizens are expected to put out the yard signs when instructed to do so, and on the appointed days go blindly into the voting booths and pull the lever with the “R” next to it, no questions asked. But with the advent of such organizations as WyWatch, the prospects of a future so devoid of accountability is definitely in jeopardy.
Back in Washington, the same mindset can be observed among the Republican “establishment,” albeit on a much grander scale. Last fall, in one of the biggest electoral upheavals in U.S. history, Congress was returned to Republican hands as a direct result of Tea Party fervency and devotion to the cause of rescuing America.. But now its time for the peasantry to sit back and leave those newly empowered professionals in the House to carry on their business as usual, continuing the funding of Obamacare, accepting the Democrats’ new baseline of trillion dollar budget deficits and, in a sad likelihood, raising the nation’s debt ceiling to whatever point Obama and his minions find comfortable.
For some, the elections of 2011 were the opening shots in a battle for the future of America. To others however, they merely represented a high water mark in the political ebb and flow that occasionally favors one side and then, often capriciously, shifts to the other.
This time, far too much is at stake to accept such a cavalier assessment of the nation’s precarious condition. Definitively constitutional questions are being juggled by courts with outcomes entirely determined by the political leanings of judges and the ideologies of the particular presidents who appointed them. Boundaries on political activity are no longer constrained by the quaint precepts of the “rule of law,” but are instead imposed or ignored as a direct result of their benefit or liability to the current administration and its lackeys at the Department of “Justice.”
Accountability for all political office holders, from the national down to the local level in the smallest townships, is key to any restoration of the greatness of America. And those who strive against it, regardless of the party affiliation they find most convenient, must be relegated to the ranks of “unfit” to hold office, whether they be wolves in sheep’s clothing, or are merely naive and sufficiently unprincipled to sacrifice their core values for a proverbial “place at the table.”
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.