Well recovered, Jim Muir! The BBC Middle East correspondent had started to tell listeners to the Today radio programme that the Syrian pound had “lost 100% of its value” when he suddenly realised the impossibility of what he was saying.

Referring to the way in which the Syrian economy had suffered, he pointed out that the Syrian pound was trading at around 100 to the dollar: “… which means it has lost 100% … well, 50% of its value since the thing started.”

To have lost 100% of its value would mean, of course, that the currency was quite literally worthless, since a drop of 100% leaves precisely nothing.

A halving, on the other hand, is a 50% decrease. To his credit, Jim Muir recognised the potential faux pas and corrected himself just in time.

Why is the BBC playing along with the UN’s farcical “countdown” to the birth of the planet’s 7 billionth inhabitant?

OK, so the latest article on the BBC website concedes that no one knows the true size of the global population (“we may have already passed seven billion”), but merrily goes along with the assertion that on October 31, the earth’s population will pass that milestone because “the UN has picked the day as the best estimate”.

It’s just that, as estimates go, it’s pretty ropey. In fact, it could have been passed over a year ago.

The argument in favour of the fantasy date is that it focuses attention on pressing issues such as overcrowding, poverty and the stripping of resource.

All very laudable, of course.

But are we all really so shallow that we need a sprinkle of marketing moondust before we can take these issues seriously?

For the sake of all 7 billion of us, I hope not.

Poor Ed Miliband. Not only does the live TV feed break down just minutes into his speech to the Labour Party conference in Liverpool, but a poll in the Independent reports that “the Tories enjoy a lead for the first time since October last year”.

The Conservatives are on an impressive 37% while Labour languishes behind with a paltry 36%. So that’s that, then!

Except that it isn’t.

Read the rest of this entry »

I’m sure my former colleagues at the Liverpool Echo won’t mind me reproducing this headline from their report of the annual Politicians v Journalists football match on the eve of the party conference – even with 12 players, the politicians failed to get a result!

Labour party conference in Liverpool

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