Most Intriguing News About BBC And WWII

This is simply fascinating.

A new archive has revealed the BBC’s role in secret activities during World War Two, including sending coded messages to European resistance groups.

Documents and interviews, released by BBC History, include plans to replace Big Ben’s chimes with a recorded version in the event of an air attack.

This would ensure the Germans did not know their planes were over Westminster.

BBC programmers would also play music to contact Polish freedom fighters.

Using the codename “Peter Peterkin”, a government representative would provide staff with a particular piece that would be broadcast following the Polish news service.

Historian David Hendy said: “The bulletins broadcast to Poland would be deliberately short by a minute or so and then a secret messenger from the exiled Polish government would deliver a record to be played.

“The choice of music would send the message to fighters.”

Alec Sutherland, the man who oversaw the use of music at the end of news bulletins, said it was his job to make sure producers played the right record, even if it was scratched.

“They would see one which they thought would make a better broadcast and the wrong bridge would get blown up in Poland.”

First Post-Mugabe Election in Zimbabwe NEVER Mentioned On NBC, CBS Evening News

I am always desiring to have a citizenry informed about the news and events of not only our country, but also the world.

One of the truly important, and also inspiring stories, took place Monday in Zimbabwe as millions of people voted peacefully in the first election since the long-overdue ouster of Robert Mugabe.  The election was no small thing.  The outcome will go a long way in determining the former British colony’s future for decades.

I went to bed last night listening to BBC radio for updates, and spent the day with either newspaper accounts or media updates via the computer.

But when turning to the evening newscasts on major networks in the United States I found what can only be described as a severe lack of sound editorial direction.   Neither CBS or NBC had a single mention of the story--with CBS not even having a mention of ANY international news.   NBC decided to carry a closing story about a basketball player.

Many minutes were spent on the large and raging wildfires in California.  Yes, they are news and impact many lives.  But from a news editor perspective the stories and images of the fires have been on the nightly broadcasts for a week, and nothing appreciably different occurred Monday.

Meanwhile a very significant vote was underway in a major African nation, where for the first time since Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980 after a brutal guerrilla war against a white supremacist regime, Mugabe was not on the ballot.

And it deserved coverage!

Thankfully each evening in our home we record on the DVR the BBC World News.  The BBC continuously provides full coverage and insight about the world.  It is due to the shortcomings of programs, such as the network newscasts this evening, which help create a citizenry that is under-educated about international events.

BBC Program Uses Wisconsin Republicans To Show Math Abuse

Last evening while listening to the BBC I was not prepared for the opening to the Forum program where sixty seconds is allocated to someone to present an idea that can change the world.

Professor Ian Stewart, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at Warwick University, wants to stamp out math abuse, and used Wisconsin Republicans as an example of what he was talking about.

“In 2011 the Republican Party of Wisconsin stated that over half of U.S. job growth came from their state in June.  9,500 jobs out of 18,000.”

I found it incredibly funny the hijinks that Wisconsin Republicans would play with statistics would make it all the way across the drink and wind up on a BBC radio program.

As Stewart notes there are two main kinds of math abuse.  The first using bad mathematics to mislead or confuse, and the second to airbrushing math out of history when it plays a vital role but doesn’t get mentioned.

I will leave it to my readers to ponder which kind of math abuse Wisconsin Republicans most often engage in under Walker and Company.



Why Is Europe So Cold, North America Warmer This Winter?

Last night the BCC aired one explanation about the reason North America is experiencing a very mild winter, and Europe a harsh one.  Many have asked how Madison can have mild temperatures in the upper 40’s, and even low 50’s at times, with very little snow.  Others want to know why Europe is in the deep-freeze, and many have died as a result.

The answer lies in part with a high pressure system over Russia.  (Is this where the James Bond music starts……?)

Currently there is an intense area of high pressure over much of Europe, extending from Siberia in the east to the UK in the west.

This high pressure means clear, cloud-free days and, crucially, cloud-free nights. In the summer this same set up brought a heatwave to much of eastern Europe. But when it happens at this time of year, a heatwave could not be further from the truth.

For Europe that means in the northern hemisphere, air flows clockwise around a high-pressure system.

The current set-up, with high pressure over Russia, means that our air is coming from the east, bringing low temperatures with it.

The path that this air takes is crucial to whether it is warmed up or cooled down on its journey.

If the air passes over cold land, it may see little change of temperature. A path over warmer land may result in gentle warming. The biggest change of all comes when the air travels over a large area of (comparatively) warm sea.

So this is why different parts of Europe are seeing such a wide spread of temperatures, from lows of -11C (12F) in the UK to -29C (-20F) in Poland – it is all to do with the journey.

When this happens in Europe it often means the flip side (North America) will feel the opposite effects.

Lake Vostok Drilling A Success, Contamination A Concern

Last night on BBC Radio a new story was aired that I find quite interesting, given the many years that the project to drill into Lake Vostok has been on the books.  As noted in the report, and debated for years, is the potential for contamination of a body of water that might have been in one place for  for thousands if not millions of years.

Russian scientists are reporting success in their quest to drill into Lake Vostok, a huge body of liquid water buried under the Antarctic ice.

It is the first time such a breakthrough has been made into one of the more than 300 sub-glacial lakes known to exist on the White Continent.

Researchers believe Vostok can give them some fresh insights into the frozen history of Antarctica.

They also hope to find microbial lifeforms that are new to science.

“This fills my soul with joy,” said Valery Lukin, from Russia’s Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI) in St Petersburg, which has been overseeing the project,

“This will give us the possibility to biologically evaluate the evolution of living organisms… because those organisms spent a long time without contact with the atmosphere, without sunlight,” he was quoted as saying in a translation of national media reports by BBC Monitoring.

More than 300 such bodies of water have now been identified across Antarctica. They are kept liquid by geothermal heat and pressure, and are part of a vast and dynamic hydrological network at play under the ice sheet.

Some of the lakes are connected, and will exchange water. But some may be completely cut off, in which case their water may have been resident in one place for thousands if not millions of years. Russian researchers will try to establish just how isolated Lake Vostok has been. If it has been sealed then micro-organisms new to science are very likely to have evolved in the lake.

Nonetheless, there will be concerns about introducing contamination, and there have been criticisms of the methods used by the Vostok drilling team.

The Life Of Muammar Gaddafi In Pictures From BBC

I always thought Muammar Gaddafi, when viewing photos from his young days, had the look that Hollywood could have used.  His dramatic clothes and dash of color made him stand apart from the crowd of leaders on the world stage.   Sadly all the flash and spark was wrapped around a tyrant which made everything seem so incongruent. In the last decade or so the spectacle was more comical than serious.  Had it not been for the crimes he committed against his people it would have been a pure joke.

Campaign Underway To Arrest Pope Benedict XVI

Hat tip To Rolf

Before I go further let me make one thing perfectly clear.  I do not make up the news stories! 

Last night as we walked with a neighbor from down the street we were commenting on the last 20 years worth of news stories no one could have conceived possible just 40 years before.  The impeachment proceedings against a president for prurient reasons, the Supreme Court deciding a presidential election, 9/11, and the undermining of credibility over The Tonight Show.  So when I opened my email to find our good friend Rolf sent me something that resembled ‘news’ coming from the Onion, in spite of being reported by the BBC, I needed to look twice.

OK, three times, and  I have concluded that King Henry VIII would be smirking over this nugget of news.

Leading atheist Richard Dawkins has backed a campaign to have the Pope arrested for “crimes against humanity” when he visits the UK later this year.

Professor Dawkins said he “whole-heartedly” backed the initiative led by atheist Christopher Hitchens.

UK human rights lawyers are preparing a case to charge Pope Benedict XVI over his alleged cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic church.

Dr William Oddie, former editor of The Catholic Herald, labelled it “lunatic”.

Campaigners hope to cast a shadow over the Pope’s planned visit to the UK in September – the first visit by a Pope since 1982.

Prof Dawkins wrote on his blog: “I am optimistic that we shall raise public consciousness to the point where the British government will find it very awkward indeed to go ahead with the Pope’s visit.”

And writing in the Guardian on Tuesday, columnist George Monbiot wrote: “Picture the pope awaiting trial in British prison, and you begin to grasp the implications of the radical idea that has never been applied: equality before the law.”

The BBC’s religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott said the anti-Pope campaign could be seen as a mischievous attempt to create an “air of criminality” around the Pope.

“The controversy over alleged Papal involvement in the cover-up of child sex abuse is providing atheists with a stick with which to beat religion,” he said.

The Pope’s visit was announced shortly before allegations surfaced that he had signed a letter which delayed the punishment of a paedophile priest in the US.

Legal state?

This followed a series of child abuse scandals involving the Catholic church in the US, the Irish Republic, Germany and Norway.

The Vatican has defended the Pope, saying the Pope is willing to meet more victims of clerical abuse, while the Church has published an internet guide as to how bishops deal with accusations of sexual abuse.

Pope Benedict XVI
The Vatican said the Pope would not resign over the scandal

Barrister Geoffrey Robertson and solicitor Mark Stephens are considering whether they could either ask the Crown Prosecution Service to initiate criminal proceedings against the Pope; launch their own civil action or refer his case to the International Criminal Court.

Author Christopher Hitchens said he does not believe the Vatican to be a legal state which raises questions as to whether the Pope, as head of state, could claim diplomatic immunity.

He said: “The UN at its inception refused membership to the Vatican but has allowed it a unique “observer status”, permitting it to become signatory to treaties such as the Law of the Sea and (ironically) the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and to speak and vote at UN conferences where it promotes its controversial dogmas on abortion, contraception and homosexuality.”

The group have cited as precedent the recent case of Israel’s former foreign minister Tzipi Livni, who cancelled a visit to London after a British judge issued an arrest warrant over her alleged involvement with the conflict in Gaza.

But Dr Oddie, former editor of The Catholic Herald, said the campaign demonstrated how “wonderfully lunatic” both Christopher Hitchens and Professor Dawkins were.

“What’s lawful is what is lawfully agreed by lawful authorities, in this case Italian law – the government of Italy – and secondly, international law, determined by the United Nations. Both legal authorities accept the Vatican is a legal state.

“Christopher Hitchens is entitled to say it shouldn’t be one, but he can’t say it isn’t one – it’s like people in a lunatic society saying they are Napoleon,” he said.

The Vatican has ruled out any possibility of a papal resignation over the scandal.

Watch Animated Journey Through Earth’s Climate History

Science is a hard thing to disprove.