Benn accuses BBC over Gaza appeal

By Laura May, Press Association

Veteran politician Tony Ben accused the BBC today of a “betrayal” of its public service obligations following its decision not to broadcast a public appeal for funds for Gaza.

Having spoken on the Today programme, he will address a pro-Palestine rally called by the Stop the War coalition outside Broadcasting House in central London.

The former Labour MP and Stop the War president will say: “The decision of the BBC to refuse to broadcast a national humanitarian appeal for Gaza, which has left aid agencies with a potential shortfall of millions of pounds in donations, is a betrayal of the obligation which it owes as a public service.

“The destruction in Gaza, and the loss of the lives of over a thousand civilians and children, has shocked the world as Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki Moon, made clear, when he saw the devastation for himself.

“The human suffering that the people of Gaza have experienced over the last few weeks has appalled people who have seen it for themselves on their television screens.

“To deny the help that the aid agencies and the UN need at this moment in time is incomprehensible and it follows the bias in BBC reporting of this crisis, which has been widely criticised.

“I appeal to the chairman of the BBC Trust to intervene to reverse this decision to save the lives of those who are now in acute danger of dying through a lack of food, fuel, water and medical supplies.” Continue reading

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Venezuela Prioritises Cultural Revolution

A queue of children wait to exchange their toy guns for non-weapon-like toys as part of a government project to reduce violence in the area, in the Petare district of Caracas, Venezuela, August 20, 2008.

Caracas, Aug 21 (Prensa Latina) Aware of the transforming role of culture in society, the Venezuelan government is carrying out a revolution in that sphere in all states of the country. Continue reading

Every Child In School Numbered For Life

All 14-year-old children and future generations in England will have their personal details and exam results placed on a compulsory electronic database for life under a plan announced in February by government officials.

Colleges and prospective employers will be able to access students’ records online to check on their qualifications. Under the terms of the scheme all children will keep their individual number throughout their adult lives. The database will include details of exclusions and expulsions.

Officials claim that the introduction of the unique learner number (ULN) is not a step towards a national identity card. But it will be seen as the latest step in the Government’s broader efforts to computerise personal records.

Teachers’ leaders, parents’ organisations, opposition MPs and human rights campaigners have questioned whether this Big Brother approach is necessary and have said that it could compromise the personal security of millions of teenagers.

The new database — which will store a “tamper-proof CV” — will be known as MIAP (managing Information Across Partners). To be registered on the new database every 14-year-old will be issued with a unique learner number. Unlike the current unique pupil number now given to children in school but destroyed when they leave, the ULN will be used by government agencies to track individuals until they retire. Ultimately, it will create a numbered database for every citizen aged 14-plus in the UK. Continue reading

Free Instruments For Poor Children

Children living on England’s poorest estates will be provided with musical instruments and taught for free how to perform works by composers such as Bach and Beethoven.

They will then be encouraged to join full-scale orchestras as part of a government scheme, spearheaded by internationally renowned cellist Julian Lloyd Webber, that aims to tackle disaffection and boost aspiration. Continue reading

“The Future of Classical Music lies in Venezuela”

Excerpt from documentary ‘Mata Tigre” 2006

Placido Domingo cried when he saw the Venezuelan Youth Orchestra perform. The world-renowned opera singer confessed that the concert evoked the strongest emotions he had ever felt.

Sir Simon Rattle, director of the Berlin Philharmonic, swore that the country’s youth orchestras were doing the most important work in classical music anywhere in the world.

And former Berlin Philharmonic director Claudio Abbado only needed to see one performance by the orchestra to invite the Venezuelans to play in Germany. Continue reading