The glaring omission in the BBC’s portrayal of Gaza truce negotiations

BBC Watch

On August 15th a report headlined “Israel reopens Gaza cargo crossing after calm” appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page.

“Israel has fully reopened its cargo crossing with Gaza, saying it is in response to a period of relative calm.

Lorries carrying fuel and commercial goods passed through Kerem Shalom on Wednesday after weeks of restrictions.

The fishing zone off Gaza’s coast was also restored to 17km (nine nautical miles), having been reduced to 6km.

Kerem Shalom was closed for all but humanitarian deliveries in retaliation for cross-border incendiary kite and balloon attacks by Palestinians.”

After that reasonable account of events, the report continued with promotion of an anonymous allegation:

“Human rights groups said the move amounted to illegal collective punishment.”

Those who read previous BBC reports concerning the Kerem Shalom crossing may recall that the same allegation has been promoted twice by the BBC…

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To the Press Council on Inequality Tower 2018 @toby_etc @XTOTL @MaxRashbrooke @TheSpinoffTV

Two words. Two words would have changed the Inequality Tower from deeply misleading to accurate. Those two words also would have greatly undermined the political narrative in the cartoon of the political powerlessness of ordinary people over housing affordability.

The response of The Spinoff to my complaint was on one aspect and ignored all the others.

The editor ran the line that capital gains taxes is the same as saying comprehensive capital gains tax. You might have been able to run that line a few years ago but not now after the capital gains tax bright line test of 2 years and now 5 years. A five-year bright line is enough to deal with speculation and changes the debate from the lack of a capital gains tax at all to a capital gains tax on the family home or farm after the death of parents and other deeply unpopular political ramifications.

The other missing word was might. It was simply wrong to claim that people will not pay taxes on the sale of their home. They might under current law.

Ironically, editor’s reply was on the day the ban on foreign sales was passed into law showing once again responsiveness of parliament to popular concerns about housing affordability. The same responsiveness to the angst of ordinary voters led to the bright line test of 2 years and now 5 years.

At bottom, if you ask a careful and scrupulous scholar such as Max Rashbrooke to sign onto your comic cartoon, you raise the bar for yourself in terms of factual accuracy in an opinion piece. If he had not co-signed the cartoon, I most likely would never have read it.

This rejoinder is in addition to my attached original complaint to The Spinoff which I also submit to the Press Council.

Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (1) by James M. McPherson (1987)

Books & Boots

‘Our political conflicts must be in future between slavery and freedom.’ Whig Congressman Joshua Giddings at the Free Soil convention in 1848 (quoted page 61)

This massive volume (900 pages) is just part of the Penguin History of America.

The civil war is far the most written-about event in American history, not least because more Americans died in it than in all other wars America has fought put together.

The civil war tore the young Republic apart, and the schism between north and southern states is in some ways still evident to this day. Certainly the bitterly divisive issue of race in America shows no signs of going away, ever.

Social background

McPherson gives a good run-up to the war with a fascinating profile of economic and social progress in America in the half century from 1800.

I was particularly struck by his interpretation of the movement of women from…

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Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (2) by James M. McPherson (1987)

Books & Boots

In mid-19th century America there was a caste of people who were professional slave hunters. Hold that thought… People whose job it was to reclaim the lost ‘property’ of a southern slave owner.

1854 advert for a runaway slave 1854 advert for a runaway slave

In 1850 the US Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act as part of the Compromise of 1850 between Southern slave-holding interests and Northern Free-Soilers (a short-lived political party which took part in the 1848 and 1852 presidential races with the sole aim of preventing slavery being expanded into the new western states).

The law required that all escaped slaves, upon capture, be returned to their masters and that officials and citizens of free states had to cooperate. Many northern states opposed the law and passed personal liberty laws which, in different ways, tried to block the act – by insisting that captured suspects get a fair trial, or by forbidding state authorities…

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#OTD 20 years ago, 2 years after the arrival of combination therapy that effectively treated #HIV. 1st edition not to report an AIDS death in almost 15 years.