University allows master to keep his Bassett on campus as a “very large cat”

The master of a Cambridge University college that banned dogs from accommodation has been allowed to keep his canine companion after persuading officials it was “a very large cat”.

YoYo the bassett hound lives at Selwyn College with Roger Mosey…Mr Mosey said cats were allowed but dogs were “technically” banned.

However, after a past master set a “dog-owning precedent” decades ago, the college “tongue-in-cheek agreed YoYo could stay as a large cat”, he said…

“Many former masters have kept cats but the greatest master, Professor Owen Chadwick, did keep dogs during the 1950s, 60s and 70s,” he said.

Permission was granted by the council, and duly noted in the minutes: “i. College Animal – Noting precedent under the mastership of Professor Chadwick, Council approved the Master’s request to adopt a Very Large Cat in the Master’s Lodge.”

YoYo, a rescue dog, has now featured in publicity material for a veterinary course and other college material…”Students call her ‘the college dog’ and I very much want her to become part of life at Selwyn,” Mr Mosey said.

A particularly collegiate and British solution to a conflict between reality and the rules.

Journalists worldwide send condolences to only BBC staffer in Gaza — his infant son killed in Israel’s brutal attacks

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)’s management council has relayed a message of condolences to its Gaza employee for the death of his infant son in an Israeli airstrike.

The 11-month-old baby son of Jihad Misharawi, who is employed by BBC Arabic service, was killed on last Wednesday, when a missile fired by an Israeli army’s fighter jet hit his house in central Gaza.

Misharawi told a fellow BBC reporter in Gaza that “my son is only ten or 11 months old.”

What did my son do to die like this?” he said.

“What was his mistake? He is ten or eleven months old. What did he do?”, Misharawi added.

The BBC said in a statement: “Our thoughts are with Jihad and the rest of the team in Gaza. This is a particularly difficult moment for the whole bureau in Gaza. We’re fortunate to have such a committed and courageous team there. It’s a sobering reminder of the challenges facing many of our colleagues.”

Usual practice for the BBC – like most Western news-cum-media sources – is to forgive Israel any criminal act, to defend Euro-American arrogance at any cost. Nice to see a touch of humanity slip through for an occasion this painful. Sadly, the event received barely a notice on American TV news sources, little eminence in print.

* I’ve edited this comment – see the discussion below in comments.

Prankster beats security at Blair’s London home

Heydon Prowse was not questioned by armed police guarding the West London house and was allowed into the doorway by a maid, in the stunt filmed for a new BBC programme.

He was wearing a T-shirt bearing the words “Foundation for the Glorification of Tony Blair” and told a policeman that he was in discussions with the Vatican about the ex-Labour leader being canonised.

Mr Prowse was carrying a semi-circular window showing Mr Blair surrounded by doves and Iraqi children, in a further sign that should have raised questions…But he was allowed to measure it for fitting above the doorway after a housekeeper provided him with a ladder to help his unusual task.

Joe Wade, one of the co-creators of the show The Revolution Will Be Televised, which is broadcast on BBC3 on Wednesday, said: “We were very surprised to get into Blair’s home, and past the security without any problems…

Mr Blair’s office did not respond to requests to comment.

What can they say other than to repeat the lies, deceit, rationales and excuses relied upon in the failed quest to justify his lapdog role in Bush’s War in Iraq?

What I appreciate – is attacking an opportunist politician like Blair by poking him with the stick of humor. He deserves little more than that. History will record his role as the sort of window-dressing from an ally whose “special relationship” has generally been unquestioning and obedient.

Recording the sound of some of the planet’s quietest creatures

As the Bang Goes The Theory team investigates some of the noise of modern life, they also find time to measure the sounds of some of the quieter creatures on the planet.

In a sound-proofed room, Jem Stansfield listens in on an experiment to try and catch the sounds of a maggot, snail and the footsteps of a centipede.

Like the sound of one hand clapping – and I won’t even try a political allusion.

Associated Press reporters smacked by the boss for tweeting

Karen Matthews, AP reporter, arrested by NYC coppers
Photo by AP photographer Seth Wenig, also arrested

Associated Press has reprimanded some of its journalists for breaking news on Twitter before posting it on the wires.

The news agency issued the warning after some staff members tweeted that AP journalists had been arrested at the Occupy Wall Street camp in Manhattan. An email from bosses followed reminding staff about AP’s social media policies…

While Twitter is an invaluable tool in newsrooms around the world, it has also forced news organisations, including AP, to draw up strict rules.

“If you have a piece of information, a photo or a video that is compelling, exclusive and/or urgent enough to be considered breaking news, you should file it to the wire, and photo and video points before you consider putting it out on social media,” the AP policy reads.

After the recent incident in New York, AP’s managing editor Lou Ferrara wrote an email to employees explaining that their first duty was to the agency not Twitter.

And executive editor Kathleen Carroll issued a memo saying much of the resulting “chatter” had missed the point.

“When we lose contact with a journalist, our main focus is making sure they are safe, no matter where they are. Sometimes, talking about it while things are still uncertain can endanger them,” she said.

“It’s not outlandish to think that a tweet that’s taken by someone in authority to be opinionated or sarcastic could lead to one of our staffers being held longer than necessary…”

But Anthony de Rosa, social media editor at Reuters, thinks that such policies may need to be overhauled. He tweeted: “News agencies must evolve or face extinction.”

He expanded the point in his official Reuters blog.

The wire is still a huge part of our business and always will be. However, acting in a way that handcuffs us from doing our best work on and on social networks, which help drive traffic and extend our brand, is writing a death sentence for us as a future media company.

“To bury our head in the sand and act like Twitter (and who knows what else comes into existence next month or five years from now?) isn’t increasingly becoming the source of what informs people in real-time is ridiculous,” he wrote.

RTFA – the discussion moves in a few directions not the least of which is hoax tweets – which are generally reprehensible.

Reporters to start broadcasting live using only iPhone/3G service

You might not even use all the accessories

Within the next month, the BBC is set to roll out an iOS app that will allow field reporters to broadcast live from their iPhone using nothing but the 3G service to carry the data transmission, an article from states.

The app will also allow BBC field reporters to file still photos, video and audio directly into the BBC content management system from any iPhone or iPad.

As points out, the ability to broadcast right from an iPhone would mean that reporters could no longer have to carry cumbersome satellite or codex equipment.

Martin Turner, BBC’s head of operations for newsgathering, told, “Reporters have been using smartphones for a while now, but it was never good quality. You might do it when there was a really important story. Now it is beginning to be a realistic possibility to use iPhones and other devices for live reporting, and in the end, if you’ve got someone on the scene then you want to be able to use them. That capability is a really important one.”

Interesting as all get-out. The choice of device and carrier is up to reporter and IT department preferences. There will be alternative platforms and combinations available soon – if they aren’t already. But, this really fills a long-term demand by field reporters in broadcast journalism. Close to the ultimate in portability.

Yes, it’s pretty funny to have the Beeb quoting an article from another source – about changes at the BBC. 🙂

BBC World Service to get funding from the US state department

The BBC World Service is to receive a “significant” sum of money from the US government to help combat the blocking of TV and internet services in countries including Iran and China.

In what the BBC said is the first deal of its kind, an agreement is expected to be signed later this month that will see US state department money – understood to be a low six-figure sum – given to the World Service to invest in developing anti-jamming technology and software.

The funding is also expected to be used to educate people in countries with state censorship in how to circumnavigate the blocking of internet and TV services…

Fortunately, the U.S. government need not rely on state censorship to prevent access to BBC World Service in the United States. Self-censorship by the major networks, cable and satellite TV distribution systems takes care of that.

The deal, which is expected to be formally announced on International Press Freedom Day, 3 May, follows an increase in incidents of interference with World Service output across the globe, according to its controller of strategy and business, Jim Egan…

Governments who have an interest in denying people information particularly at times of tension and upheaval are keen to do this and it is a particular problem now,” said Egan…

Egan added that the battle against jamming is likely to be an ongoing one because repressive countries are likely to develop methods to counter any anti-censorship technology that is developed.

I was surprised to find the Obama administration doing this. Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats think of the BBC with the same brain cells that quiver in fear at mention of AlJazeera’s English service.

Today’s American conservatives consider facts and reporting facts to be a dangerous leftwing plot. Witness the Republican commitment to crushing National Public Radio and PBS-TV. Perish the thought citizens should have domestic access to anything other than news as entertainment – as defined by corporate media mavens.

My guess is that the grant will come with provisos requiring BBC World Service to barely continue efforts to enter the U.S. online – and forget TV here altogether.

Looting the seas – Bluefin tuna at risk

Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

An international system of tracking tuna – a vital tool in the preservation of stocks – has been found to be full of gaps, reports Steve Bradshaw.

In Japan, diners are being urged to curb their craze for one of their favourite kinds of sushi – unless Mediterranean suppliers can prove it is legally and sustainably caught.

Masanori Miyahara, chief counselor of the Fisheries Agency of Japan, said consumers may have to “just forget about tuna for the time being…”

Spawning stocks of Eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna – the kind caught in the Mediterranean – are widely estimated to be down by around 75% in the last four decades, and some scientists believe they might be on the verge of collapse…

The Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) – which has spent months analysing the trade – calculates that more than one in three bluefins caught in the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean between 1998 and 2007 was fished illegally.

The illegal catches gave rise to an off-the-books trade in bluefin tuna, conservatively valued at $4 billion, according to ICIJ…

In Japan, Mr Miyahara is particularly concerned about the Bluefin Tuna Catch Document (BCD), a paper-based system of tracking tuna introduced in 2008…In theory the BCD also enables ranches and exporting countries to prove their catch is legal – and within the quotas set by ICCAT’s governing commission of tuna-trading member states.

But Mr Miyahara has described some BCD entries as “weird”, and Japan has refused to accept thousands of tonnes of Atlantic bluefin, alleging suppliers cannot demonstrate it is legally caught because the paperwork is not in order…

“You can use this for really good things, but there are so many holes in this data that it’s not much better than a pile of papers,” said the ICIJ’s Kate Willson.

A pile of papers is good enough for most bureaucrats, most of the time. In some countries that’s changing. In others, like the United States, we can look forward to reverses in every aspect of commerce requiring oversight, truth in purpose. The mid-term elections helped that along with voters who presume that changing one group of clowns for another group of crooks somehow improves daily life.


You can read the report [.pdf] over here.

If you claim it, they will come. Man visits Virgin Mary every day!

“Not much. How about you?”

Here’s a guy who has a rolling conversation with the Virgin Mary every day. And– big surprise– he likes to have an audience present.

Judging from his demeanor while he is doing this, it must be pretty exciting. I imagine it goes something like this:

Guy: “How are you doing today?”
VM: “Fine. How about you?”
Guy: “Fine. How’s the Father?”
VM: “He’s fine.”
Guy: “Good. How’s Jesus?”
VM: “Fine.”
Guy: “OK.. well.. good seeing you again.”

You can watch the video here: [The exciting BBC report and video]