Grauniad hangwringing

Subtitle: Rupert Neate is a tosser, since I don’t seem to have done one of my “is a tosser” series recently.

Having assailed the nutters yesterday, I feel inclined to have a go at the handwringing going on at the Grauniad; I really do despair sometimes. As Timmy puts it “Fund to buy grain buys grain from grain wholesaler” (and lest you think I’m being to nice to Timmy, it looks like he stuffed up over the Greek debt).

There are any number of things wrong with that piece, but the headline “How £50m in UN food aid for starving went to buy wheat from Glencore” pretty well sums it up. Its a lie, of course: what actually happened was that the UN spent £50m buying grain; only a small fraction of that is profit. And why did the UN gratuitously spend this money? Because they were the cheapest supplier, of course.

But the whole tone of the piece is drivel. Take Glencore International, which buys up supplies from farmers and sells them on at a profit. What is this supposed to mean? Are we to take it that buying and selling grain is evil; Is it surprising? The statement is just a matter of the bleedin’ obvious, but is presented as yet another item in the charge sheet against Glencore.

The UN seem to have somewhat left themselves open to this Guardianista nonsense, by having said “Our new motto is to help people feed themselves,” Josette Sheeran, the executive director of the WFP, told China’s state news agency. “When we can, we purchase our food from the very poor farmers who suffer because they are not connected to local markets.” But you can see the problem, of course. Setting up an organisation capable of finding farmers so poor they don’t even have access to local markets, and redistributing that grain, would be a huge task. And one that I’d rather entrust to someone like Glencore than the UN, ter be ‘onest wiv yer guv.

Oh dear

There is a Wikileaks fiasco going about. Der Spiegel has what looks like a plausible story. If you read the Wikileaks version after that, the latter looks rather incomplete and self-serving. The Grauniad also says “not us guv” which isn’t quite true: if they hadn’t been dumb enough to publish the password, all would have been well. But assuming DS has this right, fundamentally this is a Wikileaks foul up.

h/t Bruce (not Steve) Schneier.

[Update: no-one has dented the DS story as far as I can see. So I think that, as told, this remains fundamentally a WL foul up. However (whilst I think the Grauniad were correct to believe that the password they’d got was now irrelevant) they (a) should not have published it, just on general sanity grounds (b) they should not have published it because they could not be confident that they hadn’t ended up with a backup of the file themselves, somewhere]

Misleading tripe from the Grauniad

How about this for misleading tripe from the Grauniad:


Yup, according to them the reactor has killed 4277 people. Or at least, that is what it looks like. Of course, you could also argue that they are trying to claim that the reactors have made the Nikkei go up 5.68%, but no-one would believe that.

Incidentally, the NYT has some good disaster porn.

[Updates: for a non-panic-stricken view of Tokyo, JEB is worth reading. For some quiet discussion of nuclear power, Brian has the good taste to ref me, and to remind us of some discussions from 2005. Meanwhile, the Japanese appear to be reduced to doing apparently random things and the Germans are busy proving that they can be prone to panic too (though now I look closer at that story I see it suffers from the usual problem of lying-by-tense in the headline: the headline says “has” shut down, the text says “will be” -W]

Latif / Keenlyside / Cooling, revisited

The malign Nature effect, again refers.

In the hotly contested competition to see who are the biggest tossers in the british newspaper industry there has been an early entry this year by the Daily Mail: The mini ice age starts here based mainly on the fact that, oh, it has snowed a bit. And not helped by the UKMO pratting around with seasonal forecasts they know full well are worthless to the general public. Whether or not this makes the Mail more stupid that the Torygraph I leave for you to judge (incidentally, for you Johnny Foreigners lucky enough not to know what the Mail is, its a tabloid rag somewhat above the Sun but well below the Broadsheets, but with pretensions to respectability).

But what makes this little episode especially amusing is that the Grauniad (unlike the Mail) actually bothered to talk to Latif and he pretty well told them the Mail were a bunch of wazzocks. After that, he said something quite thoughtful which is nice: “There are numerous newspapers, radio stations and television channels all trying to get our attention. Some overstate and some want to downplay the problem as a way to get that attention,” he said. “We are trying to discuss in the media a highly complex issue. Nobody would discuss the problem of [Einstein’s theory of] relativity in the media. But because we all experience the weather, we all believe that we can assess the global warming problem”. Ah yes.