Monday, June 19, 2006

Is reality malleable?

Here's a rather amusing look at how the same events can be presented in a different light. The BBC News website informs us:
Japan gains key whaling victory

Pro-whaling nations have won their first vote towards the resumption of commercial whaling for 20 years. The meeting of the International Whaling Commission backed the declaration by a majority of just one.
Anti-whaling countries say they will challenge the outcome, which Japan has described as "historic". But pro-whaling nations need support from three-quarters of the commission to overturn the 1986 ban aimed at protecting the endangered species.
The resolution, tabled by St Kitts and Nevis where the meeting is being held, declared: "The moratorium, which was clearly intended as a temporary measure, is no longer necessary."
The (London) Telegraph on the other hand reports:
Anti-whaling nations win 'great victory' against Japan proposals

Japan suffered an unexpected and total defeat when it tried to start attacking a 20-year-old ban on commercial whaling at the International Whaling Commission's meeting in the Caribbean state of St Kitts and Nevis last night.
The member countries of the UN whaling treaty voted down two proposals by Japan - the most significant one for secret ballots so that small Pacific and Caribbean nations that receive Japanese aid could unpick the protection of whales without fear of retribution. The other proposal sought to prevent the commission from discussing the fate of dolphins and porpoises as well as whales.
Meanwhile this seems to be the most factual account:
How the voting went at the IWC meeting

Japan won its first pro-whaling majority in more than two decades today at the International Whaling Commission when the group approved a declaration criticizing a 1986 ban on commercial whaling.
But Japan lost four more substantive votes at the IWC's June 16-20 meeting in St. Kitts and Nevis.
The first vote, proposed by Japan, was to prevent the IWC from discussing the fate of dolphins, porpoises and small whales in addition to great whales. Japan lost 30-32, with one abstention.
The second vote, also proposed by Japan, was to introduce secret balloting. It lost that vote 30-33, with one abstention.
The third vote, which would have allowed Japanese coastal communities to hunt a limited number of whales -- effectively circumventing the moratorium -- was lost by 30 votes to 31, with four abstentions.
Japan lost its fourth vote when it proposed eliminating a Southern Ocean whale sanctuary, for which it needed and did not expect a three-quarters majority. Japan had hoped to at least win a simple majority but lost 28-33, with four abstentions.
The fifth vote on the declaration, which called the moratorium unnecessary and which accused whales of eating "huge quantities of fish," was won by 33 votes to 32, with one abstention. Environmental activists blamed a "yes" vote by Denmark for passage of the statement.
They also have the voting list.
It's funny how even something apparently simple can seem so different depending on which account one reads. No doubt this is even more true of the really important and controversial stuff.

Post Scriptum:
À propos whaling, Daniel Drezner (via Instapundit) explains why the International Whaling Commission is his favourite international body, and notes the Independent's "rather hyperbolic" coverage of the story. No surprises from what has deliciously been called the "Daily Mail for people who recycle."

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