The Hamster locked in a BBC broom cupboard

This fortnight’s Private Eye has some very funny bits in it. In Media News, the Eye reports that the BBC is cutting back to meet a £140m licence fee shortfall “with taxi bills slashed, hacks sacked, champagne banned (?!) and repeats repeated across all channels”.

Now the Beeb have found another way to save money. BBC 1’s “Total Wipeout” is “presented by Richard Hammond and Amanda Byram” insists the Radio Times. But while Byram swans off to Buenos Aires for the programme, Hammond sits alone in a broom cupboard in White City verbalising his input.

Private Eye continues:

“The whole point of this is that I’m very much watching this with the audience at home,” a bashful Hammond told website “TV Scoop”. “I’ve just never been given the call to [go to Argentina]. I just have to literally present it to a viewer and say: “Have a look at this, it’s hilarious'”.

Should the economic downturn continue, expect one of the highlights of the BBC’s 2010 winter season to consist of Hammond sitting in a darkened studio watching ITV1 and turning to the camera while pointing and laughing.

Well, it tickled me.

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Democrat filibuster-proof 60 Senate seats slips in and then out of reach…perhaps

The prospect of a golden filibuster-proof 60 seat dominance in the US Senate is, after all, possibly within the grasp of the Democrats….but, then again, possibly not.

If Al Franken survives a court challenge in Minnesota, the Democratic Senate caucus, including two independents, will have 59 seats.

However, there is a little twist.

Following Bill Richardson standing down from his nomination as Commerce Secretary, it seems highly possible that Republican Senator Judd Gregg will be chosen for that role. This would mean him standing down from the Senate and his replacement being chosen by the New Hampshire governor.

The New Hampshire governor, John Lynch, is a Democrat.

Now, it is often the norm that a Governor appoints someone from their own party.

So if Lynch chooses a Democrat for the Senate role, then the Democrats are at 60, if Franken prevails.

There is a twist to the twist, however.

Governor John Lynch is one of the most bipartisan Governors in the US, so it seems likely that he will appoint a Republican to replace a Republican.

So the filibuster-proof majority slips tantalising out of reach again, perhaps. But then again, that is probably best for American democracy.

There is, however (wait for it) a twist to the twist to the twist. Any Republican chosen by Lynch could well be very well disposed to voting fairly often with the Democrats anyway – that’s New Hampshire politicians for you.

PROOF: Gordon Brown is a boring technophobe

There are not many people who have not bothered to change their mobile’s ring tone from the horrible bog standard “Nokia Tune” to something more personal.

Judging from this video of his mobile interrupting his press statement at Davros Davos, Gordon Brown is one of the few.

I was hoping his ring tone would be a little more interesting. Perhaps “Bonnie bonnie banks o’ Lomond” or something like the Foo Fighters’ “Long road to ruin” would have been nice.

Those generous Icelanders help our pensioners

On the face of it, this is a bizarre story. Icelanders have responded to a radio appeal and sent a 20 foot container full of nice Icelandic woolly jumpers to be distributed to pensioners in Hull. This is Iceland, which is bankrupt and which has much lower temperatures than us.

The BBC Breakfast team accordingly got out their best “chinky chonky” music to accompany the report of this – a bit like a sort of Eurotrash report.

But behind the bizarreness, there lie a few of serious points.

First, the kindness of the Icelanders who clubbed together to donate loads of jumpers in a few days is genuinely touching. One nine year old girl gathered 37 jumpers and brought them to the radio station for the Hull pernsioners. Thank you Icelanders! We love you!

Secondly, their jumpers really are proper thick woolly jumpers. Perhaps we need reminding what a real jumper is in these days of central heating.

Thirdly, how come Iceland can have a much lower rate of death of the elderly from cold than us? Katharine Whitehorn, on BBC Breakfast, reckons it is because their homes are much better insulated and have big stoves for burning wood. The cost of fuel relative to the pension in the UK, has to be the crux of the matter, though.

Ooooh! That power is so sexy isn’t ?

The new President Bartlet’s Obama’s daily habits are outlined by the New York Times:

The capital flew into a bit of a tizzy when, on his first full day in the White House, President Obama was photographed in the Oval Office without his suit jacket. There was, however, a logical explanation: Mr. Obama, who hates the cold, had cranked up the thermostat.
“He’s from Hawaii, O.K.?” said Mr. Obama’s senior adviser,
David Axelrod, who occupies the small but strategically located office next door to his boss. “He likes it warm. You could grow orchids in there.”
Thus did an ironclad rule of the
George W. Bush administration — coat and tie in the Oval Office at all times — fall by the wayside, only the first of many signs that a more informal culture is growing up in the White House under new management. Mr. Obama promised to bring change to Washington and he has — not just in substance, but in presidential style.
Although his presidency is barely a week old, some of Mr. Obama’s work habits are already becoming clear. He shows up at the Oval Office shortly before 9 in the morning, roughly two hours later than his early-to-bed, early-to-rise predecessor. Mr. Obama likes to have his workout — weights and cardio — first thing in the morning, at 6:45. (Mr. Bush slipped away to exercise midday.)
He reads several papers, eats breakfast with his family and helps pack his daughters,
Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, off to school before making the 30-second commute downstairs — a definite perk for a man trying to balance work and family life. He eats dinner with his family, then often returns to work; aides have seen him in the Oval Office as late as 10 p.m., reading briefing papers for the next day.
“Even as he is sober about these challenges, I have never seen him happier,” Mr. Axelrod said. “The chance to be under the same roof with his kids, essentially to live over the store, to be able to see them whenever he wants, to wake up with them, have breakfast and dinner with them — that has made him a very happy man.”
In the West Wing, Mr. Obama is a bit of a wanderer. When Mr. Bush wanted to see a member of his staff, the aide was summoned to the Oval Office. But Mr. Obama tends to roam the halls; one day last week, he turned up in the office of his press secretary,
Robert Gibbs, who was in the unfortunate position of having his feet up on the desk when the boss walked in.