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The Establishment - Andrew Marr And Owen Jones

Media Lens - Þri, 14/10/2014 - 12:29

Picture the scene: No.10 Downing Street, September 16: 'a gentlemen's-club-style reception room, given factitious poshness by two marble pillars'. The event: a book launch party hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron himself to 'mark the publication' of a political novel, 'Head of State', by the BBC's senior interviewer and former political editor, Andrew Marr.

Reporting for the Independent, eyewitness John Walsh saw the significance:

'To see how the establishment operates, you really needed to be at this week's launch party for Andrew Marr's new book.'

Walsh noted that the room was packed with political and media bigwigs:

'Jeremy Hunt, George Osborne, Yvette Cooper. Journalists talked to each other, eyes busily flickering, desperate not to miss anything. Beside the bar stood Jason Cowley, editor of the New Statesman.'

The BBC's creative director, Alan Yentob, was there. So, too, was Lord Chadlington, or Peter Gummer - brother of John Selwyn Gummer, or Lord Deben, former chairman of the Conservative Party - who 'has long-standing links' to David Cameron, is President of the Prime Minister's Witney Conservative constituency association and 'lives in a manor house that neighbours Mr Cameron's Oxfordshire home'. Chadlington is also chief executive of Huntsworth, a major public relations firm. In 2011, Cameron bought a plot of land from Chadlington for £140,000, the latter having donated £10,000 to Cameron personally to fund his 2005 run for the Conservative leadership.

John Walsh describes Lord Chadlington 'as the link between Marr and David Cameron', adding of Marr's fictional debut:

'It was [Chadlington] who gave Marr the central idea for the plot; his name is on the book's copyright page; there's an introductory note about him by Marr, and another one by himself, delivering his imprimatur.'

If that sounds chummy, so, too, did Cameron, commenting in his speech at the book launch:

'I haven't read Andy's book yet, but I gather it's about political assassination. After the week I've had, that sounds like a very welcome idea...'

One wonders just how favoured Marr must be to receive such gracious treatment from the unlovely Tory grandees he is supposed to be holding to account.

Remarkably, an awkward question managed to breach the bonhomie. Liz Thomson, co-editor of the website 'Book-Brunch', asked Marr if having Cameron host the book launch 'mightn't compromise his position as impartial political interviewer for the BBC'. (Private Eye, Books & Bookmen column, Issue 1376, 19 September - 2 October, 2014)

According to Private Eye magazine, Marr became 'very defensive indeed'. Marr's wife, Jackie Ashley – Guardian columnist and daughter of Lord Ashley of Stoke – buttonholed Thomson, declaring, 'you've ruined my evening'. Ashley subsequently 'resumed the harangue, calling [Thomson] 'despicable' and 'a B-I-T-C-H'.

It says plenty about the state of modern journalism that Ashley was appalled that one of the BBC's most senior political journalists should be asked the one question that cried out to be raised. Or perhaps she would think nothing of her husband having his book launch party hosted by Putin, or Assad, or Maduro. Or, more to the point, of a leading Russian journalist teaming up with Putin in the same way.

Ironically, in his book, 'My Trade', Marr was happy to discuss the issue:

'If you really talk with a politician about their in tray, and the problems of rival departments, or of dodgy past initiatives, it is hard to avoid seeing things their way. The same perspective that gives you insight, also blunts your hostility... then you drift closer to them emotionally and may very well flinch from putting the boot in when they have failed in some way.' (Andrew Marr, 'My Trade - A Short History of British Journalism,' Macmillan, London, 2004, p.184)

Also ironically, the problem was explored in a WikiLeaks cable from the US Embassy in London to Hilary Clinton:

'On the public diplomacy side, I hope you can take some time out to tape an interview with leading British journalist Andrew Marr, to be broadcast on his Sunday morning BBC TV talk show... It would be a powerful way for you to set out our priorities for Afghanistan/Pakistan, and underline our premier partnership with the United Kingdom. Marr is a congenial and knowledgeable interviewer who will offer maximum impact for your investment of time.'

It is not, then, that Marr is biased towards the Conservatives. Indeed, in 2005, the former BBC reporter and producer, Tim Luckhurst, wrote in the Daily Mail:

'Andrew Marr has dismayed licence-payers with apologias for New Labour in general and Tony Blair in particular... Such conscientious rewriting of history deserves a place in George Orwell's 1984, not on a national television station funded by the taxpayer.' (Luckhurst, 'As John Humphrys announces his retirement. The giant the BBC hasn't got the guts to replace,' Daily Mail, May 3, 2005)

A wry comment piece in the Evening Standard was 'amazed' by the launch party: 'we simply had no idea that Marr and Cameron were such close chums'. After all:

'it just doesn't seem that long ago that Marr and his wife... were staunch allies of Cameron's rivals, hosting intimate dinner parties for Labourites Tony Blair, David Miliband and Tessa Jowell. Blair even returned the favour by having the pair over at Chequers, back when he had the keys'.

Historian Walter Karp observed:

'It is a bitter irony of source journalism that the most esteemed journalists are precisely the most servile. For it is by making themselves useful to the powerful that they gain access to the "best" sources.' (Quoted Sharon Beder, Global Spin, Green Books, 1997, p.199)

True. And notice that the BBC is not owned - no gimlet-eyed media mogul is either available, or required, to pressure Marr to obey rules that are perfectly understood for all that they are unwritten.

The Establishment - Andrew Marr And Owen Jones

Media Lens - Þri, 14/10/2014 - 12:29

Picture the scene: No.10 Downing Street, September 16: 'a gentlemen's-club-style reception room, given factitious poshness by two marble pillars'. The event: a book launch party hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron himself to 'mark the publication' of a political novel, 'Head of State', by the BBC's senior interviewer and former political editor, Andrew Marr.

Reporting for the Independent, eyewitness John Walsh saw the significance:

'To see how the establishment operates, you really needed to be at this week's launch party for Andrew Marr's new book.'

Walsh noted that the room was packed with political and media bigwigs:

'Jeremy Hunt, George Osborne, Yvette Cooper. Journalists talked to each other, eyes busily flickering, desperate not to miss anything. Beside the bar stood Jason Cowley, editor of the New Statesman.'

The BBC's creative director, Alan Yentob, was there. So, too, was Lord Chadlington, or Peter Gummer - brother of John Selwyn Gummer, or Lord Deben, former chairman of the Conservative Party - who 'has long-standing links' to David Cameron, is President of the Prime Minister's Witney Conservative constituency association and 'lives in a manor house that neighbours Mr Cameron's Oxfordshire home'. Chadlington is also chief executive of Huntsworth, a major public relations firm. In 2011, Cameron bought a plot of land from Chadlington for £140,000, the latter having donated £10,000 to Cameron personally to fund his 2005 run for the Conservative leadership.

John Walsh describes Lord Chadlington 'as the link between Marr and David Cameron', adding of Marr's fictional debut:

'It was [Chadlington] who gave Marr the central idea for the plot; his name is on the book's copyright page; there's an introductory note about him by Marr, and another one by himself, delivering his imprimatur.'

If that sounds chummy, so, too, did Cameron, commenting in his speech at the book launch:

'I haven't read Andy's book yet, but I gather it's about political assassination. After the week I've had, that sounds like a very welcome idea...'

One wonders just how favoured Marr must be to receive such gracious treatment from the unlovely Tory grandees he is supposed to be holding to account.

Remarkably, an awkward question managed to breach the bonhomie. Liz Thomson, co-editor of the website 'Book-Brunch', asked Marr if having Cameron host the book launch 'mightn't compromise his position as impartial political interviewer for the BBC'. (Private Eye, Books & Bookmen column, Issue 1376, 19 September - 2 October, 2014)

According to Private Eye magazine, Marr became 'very defensive indeed'. Marr's wife, Jackie Ashley – Guardian columnist and daughter of Lord Ashley of Stoke – buttonholed Thomson, declaring, 'you've ruined my evening'. Ashley subsequently 'resumed the harangue, calling [Thomson] 'despicable' and 'a B-I-T-C-H'.

It says plenty about the state of modern journalism that Ashley was appalled that one of the BBC's most senior political journalists should be asked the one question that cried out to be raised. Or perhaps she would think nothing of her husband having his book launch party hosted by Putin, or Assad, or Maduro. Or, more to the point, of a leading Russian journalist teaming up with Putin in the same way.

Ironically, in his book, 'My Trade', Marr was happy to discuss the issue:

'If you really talk with a politician about their in tray, and the problems of rival departments, or of dodgy past initiatives, it is hard to avoid seeing things their way. The same perspective that gives you insight, also blunts your hostility... then you drift closer to them emotionally and may very well flinch from putting the boot in when they have failed in some way.' (Andrew Marr, 'My Trade - A Short History of British Journalism,' Macmillan, London, 2004, p.184)

Also ironically, the problem was explored in a WikiLeaks cable from the US Embassy in London to Hilary Clinton:

'On the public diplomacy side, I hope you can take some time out to tape an interview with leading British journalist Andrew Marr, to be broadcast on his Sunday morning BBC TV talk show... It would be a powerful way for you to set out our priorities for Afghanistan/Pakistan, and underline our premier partnership with the United Kingdom. Marr is a congenial and knowledgeable interviewer who will offer maximum impact for your investment of time.'

It is not, then, that Marr is biased towards the Conservatives. Indeed, in 2005, the former BBC reporter and producer, Tim Luckhurst, wrote in the Daily Mail:

'Andrew Marr has dismayed licence-payers with apologias for New Labour in general and Tony Blair in particular... Such conscientious rewriting of history deserves a place in George Orwell's 1984, not on a national television station funded by the taxpayer.' (Luckhurst, 'As John Humphrys announces his retirement. The giant the BBC hasn't got the guts to replace,' Daily Mail, May 3, 2005)

A wry comment piece in the Evening Standard was 'amazed' by the launch party: 'we simply had no idea that Marr and Cameron were such close chums'. After all:

'it just doesn't seem that long ago that Marr and his wife... were staunch allies of Cameron's rivals, hosting intimate dinner parties for Labourites Tony Blair, David Miliband and Tessa Jowell. Blair even returned the favour by having the pair over at Chequers, back when he had the keys'.

Historian Walter Karp observed:

'It is a bitter irony of source journalism that the most esteemed journalists are precisely the most servile. For it is by making themselves useful to the powerful that they gain access to the "best" sources.' (Quoted Sharon Beder, Global Spin, Green Books, 1997, p.199)

True. And notice that the BBC is not owned - no gimlet-eyed media mogul is either available, or required, to pressure Marr to obey rules that are perfectly understood for all that they are unwritten.

and we stood at god’s feet, equal, as we are*

Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir bloggar - Mán, 13/10/2014 - 22:35

Félagar; ég hef komist að því að best er að hafa bloggfærslur í númeruðum liðum. Þá getur maður verið bæði latur og heimskur og blandað öllu saman, sagt bara oggulítið um hvert atriði, sloppið auðveldlega eins og einhver djöfuls skattaskjólskapítalisti, eins og aumingi.

- – – – -

Í fyrsta lagi:
Sökum þess að ég er kjélling er ég á túr. Í dag er fyrsti í túr. Helgin fór í það sem stundum er kallað PMS af feðraveldinu en ég vil frekar kalla Via Dolorosa. Á Via Dolorosa gerist margt, eins og forðum daga. Td. er hægt að horfa tvisvar í röð á Jane Eyre, Fassbender útgáfuna. En ekki útaf honum, ekki pláss fyrir neitt svoleiðis á Via Dolorosa, heldur vegna Jane og tilveru hennar, þjáningarinnar, sorgarinnar, einstæðingsskapar hennar. Þjáningin, sjáiði til, hana eigum við konurnar allavega sameiginlega með Jesú. Að vera kona er að þjást; Jesú þjáist að eilífu í mannkynssögunni, píndur og kraminn, með blóð lekandi útúr mörgum götum og líka við, konurnar, píndar og lekandi. Það má nú aldeilis fella nokkur yfir því, ekki satt?

Á Via Dolorosa er líka hægt að liggja uppí rúmi og horfa útum gluggann á bláan himinn og skæla örlítið yfir því að maður sé inni en ætti að vera úti. Ó grimmi blái himinn, afhverju þarftu að vera svona vondur við mig? Það er líka hægt að hugsa um nammi og afhverju maður eigi ekki neitt, að í mesta lagi eigi maður suðusúkkulaði sem dugar ekki til neins á þessari leið. Gerir ekkert nema minna á að hægt væri að baka smákökur ef maður ætti ekki svona bágt. Það hefur verið grátið af minni ástæðum, það er engin skömm að segja frá því.

Svo er hægt að lesa. En Via Dolorosa er engin eyðieyja þar sem hægt er að vera þakklát fyrir að hafa í það minnsta bók með sér í litla bakpokanum svo maður geti látið hugann reika. Í fyrsta lagi er maður ekki með bakpoka með sér, heldur heila bölvun heils helmings mannkyns. Í öðru lagi velur almættið fyrir mann hvað maður á að lesa á Via Dolorosa. Þannig hefur það alltaf verið.

Nú var það engin smáræðis bók, The half has never been told: Slavery and the making of American capitalism. Hún er monumental og það eru engar ýkjur, um þrælahaldið í Bandaríkjunum, um fólkið sem stolið til að vinna og um fólkið sem græddi og græddi, um landið sem græddi og græddi á því að stela fólki, alvöru lifandi fólki til að láta það vinna frá því að það fæddist og þangað til það dó. Þvílíkt og annað eins, skal ég segja ykkur, en ég get varla sagt neitt meira afþví orðin mín festast í hálsinum á mér eða skríða uppí nefið á mér og reyna að potast útum augum á mér, í fljótandi formi, ég verð öll götótt og fer að leka. Og skammast mín fyrir að vera eitthvað að bulla um Via Dolorosa. Og get svo bara blótað, eins og þegar ég fæddi börnin, að fæða er að þjást, að fæðast kona er að þjást, að lesa þessa bók er að þjást, eins og þegar við vorum lítil og sáum í fyrsta skipti myndir úr útrýmingarbúðum, sáum fyrst myndirnar af augunum þeirra, þau störðu á okkur með þessum risastóru augum og við gleymdum að anda, það brotnaði eitthvað inní heilanum á okkur og við gátum ekki hætt að horfa í augun á þeim. Svoleiðis er þessi bók, þú gleymir að anda. Og allt sem þú veist um þrælahald er allt í einu ekki neitt, þú veist ekkert. Þessi bók segir við þig, eins og augun í fólkinu þegar þú varst lítil; haltu áfram, ekki hætta að horfa á okkur, þú veist ekkert, væna mín, ekki neitt, svo endilega farðu að grenja, væluskjóða, en það er kannski rétt að láta þig vita að þú ert ekki að fara að hætta því neitt strax aftur.

Svoleiðis er bókin, hún lætur mann fatta, það er eitt að vita og annað að fatta, eitt að vita af þrælahaldinu og annað að fatta maskínuna, risastóru pyntinga vélina sem gerði hvítt fólk ríkt og kramdi svart fólk. Maður fattar alveg, once and for all, maskínuna, og einhver rödd segir við mann: Mannstu, var ekki öllum kennt að ástæðan fyrir því að Þriðja ríkið var svona -Verra en allt annað- var sú að það var maskína og í því er óhugnaðurinn fólginn? Sjáðu þá þessa maskínu, sérðu hvað hún er stór? Hvað ætlarðu að segja um hana? Það þýðir ekkert að væla bara.

Ef þið viljið fá bókina sendið mér þá tölvupóst.

Hér ljóð eftir Charlotte Delbo, hún var ein af þeim sem störðu á okkur með risastóru augunum þegar við vorum lítil, ég tileinka bókinni ljóðið:

O you who know
did you know that hunger makes the eyes sparkle that thirst dims
them
O you who know
did you know that you can see your mother dead
and not shed a tear
O you who know
did you know that in the morning you wish for death
and in the evening you fear it
O you who know
did you know that a day is longer than a year
a minute longer than a lifetime
O you who know
did you know that legs are more vulnerable than eyes
nerves harder than bones
the heart firmer than steel
Did you know that the stones of the road do not weep
that there is one word only for dread
one for anguish
Did you know that suffering is limitless
that horror cannot be circumscribed
Did you know this
You who know.

Í annan stað:
Þetta las ég líka um helgina:

Hvers vegna gera samfélög mannréttinda og mannúðar loftárásir?

Gunnar Hersveinn rithöfundur ræðir um styrkleika mjúklyndis og veikleika harðlyndis á heimspekikaffi í Gerðubergi miðvikudaginn 15. október og Inga Dóra Pétursdóttir framkvæmdastýra UN Women á Íslandi, talar um birtingarmyndir ófriðar fyrir konur og börn í Afganistan en hún er nýkomin heim eftir hálfs árs vinnu í Afganistan á vegum friðargæslunnar sem kynjasérfræðingur hjá NATO.

Ég veit að ég er alltaf að segja Mind Boggled en Mind Boggled! Inga Dóra sem er framkvæmdarstýra kvennastarfs Sameinuðu þjóðanna á Íslandi vinnur líka fyrir Nató, sem kynjasérfræðingur. Kannski ræður ykkar heili alveg við þetta en minn gerir það alls ekki. Ég ætla ekkert að vera að þreyta ykkur með upptalningum á tölum um konur sem Nató hefur drepið, td. í Afganistan þegar þær hafa verið að þvælast að sækja eldivið, læt duga að segja Slatti, slatti hefur verið drepinn fyrir að vera kellingar sem eru svo vitlausar að vera afganskar kellingar. (Það er kannski dauðasök, enda frámunalega heimskulegt).

Er þetta í lagi? Um helgina þegar ég las þetta í blaðinu varð ég gasalega æst og fannst þetta alls ekki í lagi. En þá var ég við upphaf Via Dolorosa og kannski full agíteruð. Svo skil ég ekki frama og framalíf. Það er eitt af því sem ég skil verst af öllu. En það sem ég skil alveg verst af öllu er þetta: Hvernig er hægt að vera að vinna fyrir samtök sem segjast ma. ætla að -að uppræta ofbeldi gegn konum og stúlkum- og líka fyrir Nató? Má það? Er ekki eitthvað svona -code of honour- sem Sameinuðu þjóðakonu konur þurfa að starfa eftir? Ef ekki, er þá ekki bráðnauðsynlegt að slíku verði komið á? Ég gef Unicef á Íslandi pening í hverjum mánuði, reyndar alveg oggupoggu af því Reykjavíkurborg tímir ekki að borga mér nema minnstu oggupoggu laun í heimi, og mér finnst voðalega óþægilegt að hugsa til þess að einhver yfirmenneskja þar geti farið til að vinna hjá einhverjum glæpasamtökum og komið svo aftur til baka í vinnuna hjá Unicef, við að plana hvernig best er að hjálpa börnum.

Þannig að ég spyr: er -code of honour- fyrir starfsfólk hjá Sameinuðu Þjóðunum á Íslandi, sem bannar að starfsmenn samtakanna vinni einnig fyrir glæpasamtök? Eða er svo mikilvægt að næra svokallaða ævintýragirni starfsfólksins að allt annað lendir í öðru sæti?

Hér er stórgóð grein eftir mannfræðingsprófessorskall í Kanda, í henni spyr hann nokkurra spurninga, sem mér finnst að margir ættu að spyrja sjálfa sig:

The real challenge now is to question our assumptions and envision or acknowledge existing alternatives that further solidarity, collaboration, and reciprocity without the paternalism and Eurocentrism of the “white man’s burden”.

One way to proceed is by questioning why helping others should lead to work abroad. Do you really have any special skills to offer other than the ability to articulate good intentions? Has your assistance been requested by those who would presumably benefit from it? How well do you understand a different society that you can permit yourself to undertake potentially transformative action? What are your motives, and do you think the organization(s) you support, or for which you work, share the same motives? If it is a question of solidarity, is the solidarity spontaneous and one-sided, or the product of actual dialogue and mutual understanding? Why would you not choose to work at home, where presumably you are not a stranger, nor an intruder?

iii:
Félagar, þegar þið eruð spurð hvað ykkur hafi fundist um einhvern leik eða hvort þið eigið ykkur uppáhaldslið er ávallt best að svara með þessu: Hvaða leik? og Nei og ég vona að þau tapi öll.

*-Do you think I am an automaton? — a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup? Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! — I have as much soul as you — and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh: it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God’s feet, equal — as we are!-

Jane Eyre í Jane Eyre eftir Charlotte Brönte.


Læknar í verkfall

Gunnar Skúli bloggar - Mán, 06/10/2014 - 22:03

Læknar ætla í verkfall því þeir vilja meiri laun. Hið opinbera mun sennilega reyna að hækka laun lækna eins lítið og hægt er. Þó þannig að flestir verði nægjanlega ánægðir og segi ekki upp. Þannig er það í kjarabaráttu. Vonandi munu samningar ganga vel fyrir sig með jákvæðri niðurstöðu.
Menn spá langri baráttu hjá læknum. Samninganefndir hins opinbera eru þrautþjálfaðar í því að flækja og þreyta andstæðinginn. Þeir kunna leikinn.
Vonandi verða einhverjir eftir til að skrifa undir kjarasamninginn í fyllingu tímans.
Fjármálaráðherra virðist sjá leikinn en ekki áhættuna.

Why Dilma Rousseff could win Brazil’s presidential election | Mark Weisbrot

Mark Weisbrot - nýjar greinar - Fim, 02/10/2014 - 11:13
The country has widely reported problems, but improvements in income and conditions for many workers mean a lot of Brazilians have done well over the past decade

When challenger Marina Silva pulled ahead of incumbent Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff in the polls a few weeks ago there was a lot of excitement in the US business press, and Brazilian financial markets.

Rousseff’s Workers’ party (PT) has been in power for 12 years, and a lot of rich and powerful people were ready for a change. Fortune seemed to favour them: the Brazilian economy, having slowed considerably over the past few years, officially went into recession this year – something that would spell the end for many incumbent presidents. Before that, there were street protests over the rising cost of public transport and government spending on the World Cup, and the event itself ended in disaster with a humiliating 7-1 defeat for the national team at the hands of Germany.

Continue reading...

The Comic Book Simplicity Of Propaganda

Media Lens - Fim, 02/10/2014 - 04:36

The referendum campaign on Scottish independence heightened many people's awareness of the pro-elite bias of the 'mainstream' news media. The grassroots power of social media in exposing and countering this bias was heartening to see. But the issue of independence for Scotland is just one of many where the traditional media consistently favour establishment power.

The essential feature of corporate media performance is that elite interests are routinely favoured and protected, while serious public dissent is minimised and marginalised. The BBC, the biggest and arguably the most globally respected news organisation, is far from being an exception. Indeed, on any issue that matters, its consistently biased news coverage - propped up, by a horrible irony, with the financial support of the public whose interests it so often crushes - means that BBC News is surely the most insidious propaganda outlet today.

Consider, for example, the way BBC editors and journalists constantly portray Nato as an organisation that maintains peace and security. During the recent Nato summit in Wales, newsreader Sophie Raworth dutifully told viewers of BBC News at Ten:

'Nato leaders will have to try to tackle the growing threat of the Islamist extremists in Iraq and Syria, and decide what steps to take next. (September 4, 2014)

As we have since seen, the 'steps' that were taken 'next' meant a third war waged by the West in Iraq in just 24 years.

The same edition of BBC News at Ten relayed, uncontested, this ideological assertion from Nato Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen:

'Surrounded by an arc of crisis, our alliance, our transatlantic community, represents an island of security, stability and prosperity.'

In fact, the truth is almost precisely the reverse of Rasmussen's assertion. Nato is a source of insecurity, instability, war and violence afflicting much of the world. True to form, BBC News kept well clear of that documented truth. Nor did it even remind its audience of the awkward fact that Rasmussen, when he was Danish prime minister, had once said:

'Iraq has WMDs. It is not something we think, it is something we know.'

That was embarrassing enough. But also off the agenda was any critical awareness that the Nato summit's opening ceremony was replete with military grandeur and pomposity of the sort that would have elicited ridicule from journalists if it had taken place in North Korea, Iran or some other state-designated 'enemy'. Media Lens challenges you to watch this charade without dissolving into laughter or switching it off before reaching the end.

The Comic Book Simplicity Of Propaganda

Media Lens - Fim, 02/10/2014 - 04:36

The referendum campaign on Scottish independence heightened many people's awareness of the pro-elite bias of the 'mainstream' news media. The grassroots power of social media in exposing and countering this bias was heartening to see. But the issue of independence for Scotland is just one of many where the traditional media consistently favour establishment power.

The essential feature of corporate media performance is that elite interests are routinely favoured and protected, while serious public dissent is minimised and marginalised. The BBC, the biggest and arguably the most globally respected news organisation, is far from being an exception. Indeed, on any issue that matters, its consistently biased news coverage - propped up, by a horrible irony, with the financial support of the public whose interests it so often crushes - means that BBC News is surely the most insidious propaganda outlet today.

Consider, for example, the way BBC editors and journalists constantly portray Nato as an organisation that maintains peace and security. During the recent Nato summit in Wales, newsreader Sophie Raworth dutifully told viewers of BBC News at Ten:

'Nato leaders will have to try to tackle the growing threat of the Islamist extremists in Iraq and Syria, and decide what steps to take next. (September 4, 2014)

As we have since seen, the 'steps' that were taken 'next' meant a third war waged by the West in Iraq in just 24 years.

The same edition of BBC News at Ten relayed, uncontested, this ideological assertion from Nato Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen:

'Surrounded by an arc of crisis, our alliance, our transatlantic community, represents an island of security, stability and prosperity.'

In fact, the truth is almost precisely the reverse of Rasmussen's assertion. Nato is a source of insecurity, instability, war and violence afflicting much of the world. True to form, BBC News kept well clear of that documented truth. Nor did it even remind its audience of the awkward fact that Rasmussen, when he was Danish prime minister, had once said:

'Iraq has WMDs. It is not something we think, it is something we know.'

That was embarrassing enough. But also off the agenda was any critical awareness that the Nato summit's opening ceremony was replete with military grandeur and pomposity of the sort that would have elicited ridicule from journalists if it had taken place in North Korea, Iran or some other state-designated 'enemy'. Media Lens challenges you to watch this charade without dissolving into laughter or switching it off before reaching the end.

disney göbbels

Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir bloggar - Fim, 25/09/2014 - 01:16

Hér eru atriði sem veltast um í heilanum á mér sem er frekar leiðinlegur um þessar mundir. Svoleiðis getur gerst.

Nr. 1: Ég sá á internetunum frétt um mann sem lenti í tígrisdýrabúri og var étinn. Ég ákvað að lesa ekki fréttina afþví að mér finnst líklegt að heilinn í mér geti ekki gert neitt af viti með vitneskjuna og fari frekar í ruglið; að sýna mér myndir af atburðinum og láta lýsingar blikka orðrétt inní höfðinu á mér, td. þegar ég er lögst uppí rúm eða í sturtu. Þessvegna tók ég svokallaða upplýsta ákvörðun og leyfði orðunum ekki að komast inní mig.

Nr. 2: Ég sá á internetunum frétt um mann sem lenti í íslenskum löggum. Í þeirri viðureign, ef svo má að orði komast, gerðist ýmislegt; hann var plataður til að koma með á löggustöðina, honum var neitað um að fá að tala við lögfræðing, hann var laminn með kylfu og hann var skorinn í fæturna með hníf. Af löggu/m. Kannski dúkahníf, ég veit það ekki. Það blæddi mjög mikið og hann fór í sjúkrabíl uppá spítala þar sem skurðir voru saumaðir saman. Afþví að hann hafði verið skorinn í fæturna af löggu. Afþví hann hafði verið að týna dósir í bænum um kvöld en löggan átti við hann erindi, þennan svarta dósatýnara, þennan mann fæddan í Afríku, þennan öreiga, þennan útlending, svartan í íslensku haustkvöldi. Íslensk lögga með hníf þurfti að tala við hann, sýna honum bréf um það að hann ætti að fara annað að týna dósir, vera svartur annarsstaðar. Að hann ætti ekki að halda að hér væri annað í boði en annarsstaðar; hér er nákvæmlega allt eins og annarsstaðar, hér eru löggur og stundum með hníf.

Heilinn inní mér kreistist töluvert þegar ég las þetta. Leiðinlegi heilinn varð leiðinlegri. Ég sá þetta fyrir mér; hnífinn, fótinn, manninn, blóðið. Ofbeldi. Dálítið mikið ofbeldi sagði leiðinlegi heilinn og sýndi mér svipmyndir aftur. Þetta hefur ábyggilega verið dúkahnífur sagði heilinn, alveg pottþétt. Já, ætli það ekki.

Undanfarið hef ég oft móðgast á Facebook, þegar fólk hefur verið að deila, ef svo má að orði komast, fréttum, ef svo má að orði komast, um það hvað löggan á Íslandi sé nokkurskonar ekki-lögga. Meira eins og Bastían bæjarfógeti eða Viddi í Toy Story kannski. Á meðan löggur í útlöndum eru uppteknar við að skjóta unglinga td., oft afþví þeir eru svertingjar að þvælast úti í nóttinni, eru löggur hér að leika sér með blöðrur og við ketti. Um hábjartan dag. Samkvæmt hinum svokölluðu fréttum. Já, ég hef móðgast, eða réttara sagt leiðinlegi heilinn, hann hefur fussað og farið að rifja upp ýmis atvik, eins og þegar drukkna konan varð á vegi löggu sem varð svo mikið um fylleríð í sumarnóttinni að hún ærðist og kastaði konunni til og frá og svo uppí löggubílinn. Hafðu þetta, fulla sumarkona, ef ég hryggbrýt þig hættirðu kannski að vilja fara á fyllerí í bænum. Og þegar löggan fann handa mér lögfræðing, góðan strák, alvöru hvítliða, lítinn fasista, til að vera mér innan handar við yfirheyrsluna sem ég var nöppuð í. Og þegar ég sá löggu ganga uppað dreng, varla meira en fimmtán ára gömlum og sprauta piparúða, því sem næst varkárnislega, beint í augun á honum. Og þegar ég sá löggur bilast af bræði afþví að einn kall vildi ekki færa sig úr stað og annar maður fór að hlægja að því, bilast þannig að kallinn sem vildi ekki færa sig og hinn sem hló voru báðir snúnir niður og dregnir burt fyrir glæpina að standa og hlægja.

Æ Leiðinlegi heili, hættu að fussa, hef ég sagt, á meðan heilinn vill setja eitthvað tuð á Facebook, einhverja upphrópanir um íslenskar löggur og það hvernig þær eru svona og hinsegin, æ, til hvers í ósköpunum heili, hverjum er ekki skítsama? Ef þau vilja vera í þessum sleik við lögguna kemur okkur það ekkert við. Anskotans fífl ertu, hefur heilinn þá argað, sérðu ekki að þau eru fórnarlömb í massívu áróðursstríði, ótrúlega einföldu en sjúklega effektívu; á Íslandi búa allir á internetunum, þangað hefur löggan flutt svona part-time, býr þar í fallegu skógarrjóðri með kisum og pónýhestum. Svona eins og Mjallhvít, sem var einmitt leikin af íslenskri konu fyrir hann Walt Disney sem var einmitt fasisti í raunheimum. En þetta er bara plat! Arrg. Á löggan að komast upp með þetta? Eins og einhver Disney Göbbels? Hvað um þau sem hitta hana í raunheimum og eru að glíma við aðra hluti en ketti og blöðrur?

Já, sagði ég, djöfull er mér skítsama. Mér er fokking skítsama. Ef fólkið vill Disney Göbbels þá bara verði þeim að góðu.

En svo sá ég fréttina um Chaplas Menka og hnífalögguna. Og þá er mér ekkert skítsama. Ég byð leiðinlega heilann að fyrirgefa mér, fyrirgefðu að ég var með þöggunartilburði, fyrirgefðu að ég var ræfill og nennti ekki að hlusta, sérstaklega ekki á neitt um Göbbels. Leiðinlegi heili, haltu áfram að tala við mig um nazista, alveg eins mikið og þú vilt, ég lofa að hlusta alltaf.

Mig langar að gera eitthvað, langar td. að krefjast þess að hnífalöggan verði rekin. Já, við Leiðinlegi heilinn krefjumst þess. Og við krefjumst þess að áróðursstríðið verði háð á ný, það gengur auðvitað ekki að löggan geti lýst yfir fullnaðarsigri eins og ekkert sé. Við getum ekki tekið þátt í svona óþolandi rugli. Við ætlum að taka upplýsta ákvörðun, leyfum orðunum og myndunum að fara inní okkur og krefjast þar aðgerða. Við lofum að í þetta sinn munum við tuða og þusa, í það minnsta. Í það minnsta.


The Purpose And The Pretence - Bombing Isis

Media Lens - Mið, 24/09/2014 - 10:59

 

Tom Bradby, ITV News political editor, nutshelled the media zeitgeist in a single tweet:

'I am not at all religious, but I can't help feeling there may be a seventh circle of hell reserved somewhere for Jihadi John [the killer of James Foley, Steven Sotloff and David Haines].'

For 'Jihadi John' and the West's close allies in Saudi Arabia, perhaps, where 'scheduled beheading reflects authorities' callous disregard to human rights', according to Amnesty International.

Bradby's comment indicates just how rapidly Isis has come to represent nothing less than Pure Evil for the state-corporate media. Or as Mehdi Hasan, political director of Huffington Post, commented (without irony):

'Isis, in other words, is evil. Scum. The worst of the worst. Unique, to borrow Obama's phrase, in its brutality.'

Traditionally, claims that an Official Enemy is uniquely Evil rise to a deafening crescendo just prior to an attack on that enemy. In late 2002, a former intelligence officer told John Pilger that the flood of government terror warnings at the time were 'a softening up process' ahead of an attack on Iraq and 'a lying game on a huge scale'. (Pilger, 'Lies, damned lies, and government terror warnings,' Daily Mirror, December 3, 2002)

Sure enough, the US and various unsavoury allies this week began a bombing campaign ostensibly against Isis in Syria. As Jonathan Cook notes, the attack has taken place without a UN Security Council resolution or any serious argument that the US is acting in self-defence:

'That makes it a crime of aggression, defined at Nuremberg as "the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole".'

Compared to Obama - now embarking on his seventh war - George W. Bush appears a paragon of virtue, having at least troubled with UN resolutions. Bush commented in March 2003:

'The world needs [Saddam Hussein] to answer a single question: Has the Iraqi regime fully and unconditionally disarmed as required by Resolution 1441? Or has it not?'

Early reports estimated that eight Syrian civilians had been killed in the latest bombing raids by US militants. The BBC buried a reference to the killings in a ten-word sentence in the middle of a news report:

'Eight civilians, including three children, were reported to have died.'

Bad enough that civilians 'died', but how much worse if they had been killed by Britain's leading ally.

A September 4 search of the Nexis media database for mentions of 'Isis' (Islamic State) and its alternative title, 'Isil', found the following mentions:

January 1 - May 31, 2014, CNN mentioned 'Isis/Isil' 110 times.

June 1 - August 31, 2014, CNN mentioned 'Isis/Isil' 1,465 times.

Between these same dates, the New York Times mentioned 'Isis/Isil' 89 times and 389 times, respectively. (David Peterson, email to Media Lens, September 4, 2014)

Much of this coverage has of course focused on Isis beheadings, massacres and other crimes - self-declared and alleged - in Iraq and Syria.

Absent from most media coverage is the recognition that these conflicts have been characterised by appalling violence on all sides. A curious omission, given that the same media have focused intensively on gruesome atrocities committed, for example, by the pro-Assad 'shabiha' militia in Syria, alleged to have been responsible for the May 2012 Houla massacre.

In the last three years, Lexis media database finds 933 UK national newspaper articles mentioning 'shabiha'. In the last twelve months, there have been just 28 mentions, with 19 this year (Media Lens search, September 15, 2014). Yet another Damascene conversion, it would seem, just as the Western state-corporate media crosshairs moved from Assad to Isis.

Similarly, while it is true that Sunni forces, including Isis, have committed horrific crimes in Iraq, Sunnis have also suffered terribly. A recent New York Times headline made the point: 'Sunnis in Iraq Often See Their Government as the Bigger Threat.' The report explained:

'Iraq's Sunnis vividly recall how militias linked to the governing Shiite parties staged attacks against Sunnis during the worst years of the sectarian conflict last decade, often in cooperation with Iraq's military and police forces, or while wearing their uniforms.

'Mr. Maliki [former Iraqi president] was criticized for his inability or unwillingness to dismantle the groups, hardening Sunni mistrust of the government.'

Investigative journalist Scott Peterson added some background:

'From the indiscriminate bombing of Sunni areas... to large numbers of languishing detainees, many Sunnis say the roots of discontent are obvious, and have resulted in support for groups as radical as IS.'

While the tit-for-tat nature of Sunni-Shia tortures, disappearances and massacres was extensively covered during the US-UK occupation, it is rarely mentioned now in media condemnations of Isis.

In fact, arguing that the West should 'degrade and ultimately destroy' Isis on the basis of its human rights record, without mentioning the context, is like arguing that Britain and America should have been wiped out for their conventional and atomic bombing of cities packed with civilians in the Second World War without mentioning German and Japanese crimes. Indeed, to be consistent, the West should be arguing that much of the Middle East and all members of the 'coalition of the willing' should be degraded and destroyed for committing atrocities.

In reality, of course, the attack on Isis is not about preventing atrocities. As Glenn Greenwald notes, 'the U.S. does not bomb countries for humanitarian objectives. Humanitarianism is the pretense, not the purpose'.

We wonder if state-corporate propagandists are able to reflect on the irony that even before two US journalists were murdered, the US had sent bombers half-way around the world to kill Isis fighters. And yet, over the last three years, the West has tirelessly condemned the actions of the Syrian government in a literal war for survival against Isis and other foreign-backed 'rebel' groups, on Syrian soil – a war that is alleged to have cost 190,000 lives, including 50,000 Syrian government forces. Certainly Assad's troops have committed appalling war crimes. But one can barely imagine the scale of the US reaction if Isis had wreaked even a tiny fraction of this death and destruction on its homeland and forces, much less threatened its very survival.

The Purpose And The Pretence - Bombing Isis

Media Lens - Mið, 24/09/2014 - 10:59

 

Tom Bradby, ITV News political editor, nutshelled the media zeitgeist in a single tweet:

'I am not at all religious, but I can't help feeling there may be a seventh circle of hell reserved somewhere for Jihadi John [the killer of James Foley, Steven Sotloff and David Haines].'

For 'Jihadi John' and the West's close allies in Saudi Arabia, perhaps, where 'scheduled beheading reflects authorities' callous disregard to human rights', according to Amnesty International.

Bradby's comment indicates just how rapidly Isis has come to represent nothing less than Pure Evil for the state-corporate media. Or as Mehdi Hasan, political director of Huffington Post, commented (without irony):

'Isis, in other words, is evil. Scum. The worst of the worst. Unique, to borrow Obama's phrase, in its brutality.'

Traditionally, claims that an Official Enemy is uniquely Evil rise to a deafening crescendo just prior to an attack on that enemy. In late 2002, a former intelligence officer told John Pilger that the flood of government terror warnings at the time were 'a softening up process' ahead of an attack on Iraq and 'a lying game on a huge scale'. (Pilger, 'Lies, damned lies, and government terror warnings,' Daily Mirror, December 3, 2002)

Sure enough, the US and various unsavoury allies this week began a bombing campaign ostensibly against Isis in Syria. As Jonathan Cook notes, the attack has taken place without a UN Security Council resolution or any serious argument that the US is acting in self-defence:

'That makes it a crime of aggression, defined at Nuremberg as "the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole".'

Compared to Obama - now embarking on his seventh war - George W. Bush appears a paragon of virtue, having at least troubled with UN resolutions. Bush commented in March 2003:

'The world needs [Saddam Hussein] to answer a single question: Has the Iraqi regime fully and unconditionally disarmed as required by Resolution 1441? Or has it not?'

Early reports estimated that eight Syrian civilians had been killed in the latest bombing raids by US militants. The BBC buried a reference to the killings in a ten-word sentence in the middle of a news report:

'Eight civilians, including three children, were reported to have died.'

Bad enough that civilians 'died', but how much worse if they had been killed by Britain's leading ally.

A September 4 search of the Nexis media database for mentions of 'Isis' (Islamic State) and its alternative title, 'Isil', found the following mentions:

January 1 - May 31, 2014, CNN mentioned 'Isis/Isil' 110 times.

June 1 - August 31, 2014, CNN mentioned 'Isis/Isil' 1,465 times.

Between these same dates, the New York Times mentioned 'Isis/Isil' 89 times and 389 times, respectively. (David Peterson, email to Media Lens, September 4, 2014)

Much of this coverage has of course focused on Isis beheadings, massacres and other crimes - self-declared and alleged - in Iraq and Syria.

Absent from most media coverage is the recognition that these conflicts have been characterised by appalling violence on all sides. A curious omission, given that the same media have focused intensively on gruesome atrocities committed, for example, by the pro-Assad 'shabiha' militia in Syria, alleged to have been responsible for the May 2012 Houla massacre.

In the last three years, Lexis media database finds 933 UK national newspaper articles mentioning 'shabiha'. In the last twelve months, there have been just 28 mentions, with 19 this year (Media Lens search, September 15, 2014). Yet another Damascene conversion, it would seem, just as the Western state-corporate media crosshairs moved from Assad to Isis.

Similarly, while it is true that Sunni forces, including Isis, have committed horrific crimes in Iraq, Sunnis have also suffered terribly. A recent New York Times headline made the point: 'Sunnis in Iraq Often See Their Government as the Bigger Threat.' The report explained:

'Iraq's Sunnis vividly recall how militias linked to the governing Shiite parties staged attacks against Sunnis during the worst years of the sectarian conflict last decade, often in cooperation with Iraq's military and police forces, or while wearing their uniforms.

'Mr. Maliki [former Iraqi president] was criticized for his inability or unwillingness to dismantle the groups, hardening Sunni mistrust of the government.'

Investigative journalist Scott Peterson added some background:

'From the indiscriminate bombing of Sunni areas... to large numbers of languishing detainees, many Sunnis say the roots of discontent are obvious, and have resulted in support for groups as radical as IS.'

While the tit-for-tat nature of Sunni-Shia tortures, disappearances and massacres was extensively covered during the US-UK occupation, it is rarely mentioned now in media condemnations of Isis.

In fact, arguing that the West should 'degrade and ultimately destroy' Isis on the basis of its human rights record, without mentioning the context, is like arguing that Britain and America should have been wiped out for their conventional and atomic bombing of cities packed with civilians in the Second World War without mentioning German and Japanese crimes. Indeed, to be consistent, the West should be arguing that much of the Middle East and all members of the 'coalition of the willing' should be degraded and destroyed for committing atrocities.

In reality, of course, the attack on Isis is not about preventing atrocities. As Glenn Greenwald notes, 'the U.S. does not bomb countries for humanitarian objectives. Humanitarianism is the pretense, not the purpose'.

We wonder if state-corporate propagandists are able to reflect on the irony that even before two US journalists were murdered, the US had sent bombers half-way around the world to kill Isis fighters. And yet, over the last three years, the West has tirelessly condemned the actions of the Syrian government in a literal war for survival against Isis and other foreign-backed 'rebel' groups, on Syrian soil – a war that is alleged to have cost 190,000 lives, including 50,000 Syrian government forces. Certainly Assad's troops have committed appalling war crimes. But one can barely imagine the scale of the US reaction if Isis had wreaked even a tiny fraction of this death and destruction on its homeland and forces, much less threatened its very survival.

‘Dark Omens’ And ‘Horror Shows’: Scottish Independence, Power And Propaganda

Media Lens - Mán, 15/09/2014 - 00:06

Established power hates uncertainty, especially any threat to its grip on the political, economic and financial levers that control society. And so it is with elite fears that the United Kingdom, formed by the 1707 Acts of Union, could be on the verge of unravelling.

No informed commentator doubts that elite interests will do all they can to maintain hegemony in an independent Scotland, should that historic shift occur following the referendum of September 18. But if it does happen, there will likely be significant consequences for the Trident nuclear missile system, the future of the NHS and the welfare state, education, climate policy, energy generation and other industry sectors, the media and many additional issues; not just in Scotland, but beyond, including Nato and the European Union. There is clearly a lot at stake and established power is concerned.

Just over a week ago, to the consternation of Westminster elites and their cheerleaders in media circles, a YouGov opinion poll showed that the 'Yes' vote (51%) had edged ahead of 'No' (49%) for the first time in the campaign, having at one point trailed by 22%. The Observer noted 'signs of panic and recrimination among unionist ranks', adding that 'the no campaign is desperately searching for ways to seize back the initiative'. The panic was marked by 'intensive cross-party talks' and underpinned George Osborne's announcement on the BBC Andrew Marr show on September 7 that 'a plan of action to give more powers to Scotland' in the event of a No vote would be detailed in the coming days.

Confusion reigned in the Unionist camp, and in media reporting of their befuddlement. According to the rules governing the referendum, the UK and Scottish governments are forbidden from publishing anything which might affect the outcome during the so-called 'purdah period' of 28 days leading up to September 18. So, how to reconcile the opportunistic 'promise' during purdah to grant Scotland new powers following a 'No' vote? BBC News dutifully reported the government sleight-of-hand that:

'the offer would come from the pro-Union parties, not the government itself.'

Voters, then, were supposed to swallow the fiction that the announcement came, not from the UK government represented by Chancellor George Osborne, but from the pro-Union parties represented by senior Tory minister George Osborne!

However, Alastair Darling, leader of the pro-Union 'Better Together' campaign, told Sky News that all new powers for Scotland had already been placed on the table before the purdah period. What had been announced was 'merely... a timetable for when the Scottish Parliament could expect to be given the limited powers already forthcoming.'

Thus, an announcement setting out a timetable for enhanced powers was completely above board and not at all designed to influence the very close vote on independence. This was establishment sophistry and a deeply cynical manipulation of the voters.

Media manipulation was exposed in stark form when Nick Robinson, the BBC's political editor, was rumbled by viewers able to compare his highly selective editing of an Alex Salmond press conference last Thursday with what had actually transpired. Robinson had asked Salmond a two-part question about supposedly solid claims made by company bosses and bankers -  'men who are responsible for billions of pounds of profits' - that independence would damage the Scottish economy. Not only did the full version of the encounter demonstrate that Salmond responded comprehensively, but he turned the tables on Robinson by calling into question the BBC's role as an 'impartial' public broadcaster. The self-serving report that was broadcast that night by Robinson on BBC News at Ten did not reflect the encounter which the political editor summed up misleadingly as:

'He didn't answer, but he did attack the reporting.' 

The distorted BBC News reporting was picked up on social media and no doubt encapsulated what many viewers and listeners, particularly in Scotland, have been observing for months, if not years. One reader wrote an excellent email to us in which he said:

'Honestly, this is just ONE example of pathetic bias which more and more Scots are seeing through. I've long been a follower of your site, and I make a point of reading each and every alert. This is the first time I've taken to contacting you, and as I said, I imagine lots of others will be doing just that on the same subject.

'I've seen so much media bias with BBC Scotland since the turn of the year, but it's now getting to laughable proportions. And now that we have the entire London press-mafia crawling all over it too, it's daily headline news - all doom and gloom about how Scotland will fail, Scotland will be bankrupt, there's no more oil left, jobs will go, etc etc. It's been diabolical.'

The BBC's dismissive response to the public complaints about Robinson's skewed report concluded with the usual worn-out boilerplate text:

'the overall report [was] balanced and impartial, in line with our editorial guidelines.'

It is not only the bias in BBC News reporting that has alienated so many people, but the way the public broadcaster fails to adequately address public complaints - on any number of issues.

‘Dark Omens’ And ‘Horror Shows’: Scottish Independence, Power And Propaganda

Media Lens - Mán, 15/09/2014 - 00:06

Established power hates uncertainty, especially any threat to its grip on the political, economic and financial levers that control society. And so it is with elite fears that the United Kingdom, formed by the 1707 Acts of Union, could be on the verge of unravelling.

No informed commentator doubts that elite interests will do all they can to maintain hegemony in an independent Scotland, should that historic shift occur following the referendum of September 18. But if it does happen, there will likely be significant consequences for the Trident nuclear missile system, the future of the NHS and the welfare state, education, climate policy, energy generation and other industry sectors, the media and many additional issues; not just in Scotland, but beyond, including Nato and the European Union. There is clearly a lot at stake and established power is concerned.

Just over a week ago, to the consternation of Westminster elites and their cheerleaders in media circles, a YouGov opinion poll showed that the 'Yes' vote (51%) had edged ahead of 'No' (49%) for the first time in the campaign, having at one point trailed by 22%. The Observer noted 'signs of panic and recrimination among unionist ranks', adding that 'the no campaign is desperately searching for ways to seize back the initiative'. The panic was marked by 'intensive cross-party talks' and underpinned George Osborne's announcement on the BBC Andrew Marr show on September 7 that 'a plan of action to give more powers to Scotland' in the event of a No vote would be detailed in the coming days.

Confusion reigned in the Unionist camp, and in media reporting of their befuddlement. According to the rules governing the referendum, the UK and Scottish governments are forbidden from publishing anything which might affect the outcome during the so-called 'purdah period' of 28 days leading up to September 18. So, how to reconcile the opportunistic 'promise' during purdah to grant Scotland new powers following a 'No' vote? BBC News dutifully reported the government sleight-of-hand that:

'the offer would come from the pro-Union parties, not the government itself.'

Voters, then, were supposed to swallow the fiction that the announcement came, not from the UK government represented by Chancellor George Osborne, but from the pro-Union parties represented by senior Tory minister George Osborne!

However, Alastair Darling, leader of the pro-Union 'Better Together' campaign, told Sky News that all new powers for Scotland had already been placed on the table before the purdah period. What had been announced was 'merely... a timetable for when the Scottish Parliament could expect to be given the limited powers already forthcoming.'

Thus, an announcement setting out a timetable for enhanced powers was completely above board and not at all designed to influence the very close vote on independence. This was establishment sophistry and a deeply cynical manipulation of the voters.

Media manipulation was exposed in stark form when Nick Robinson, the BBC's political editor, was rumbled by viewers able to compare his highly selective editing of an Alex Salmond press conference last Thursday with what had actually transpired. Robinson had asked Salmond a two-part question about supposedly solid claims made by company bosses and bankers -  'men who are responsible for billions of pounds of profits' - that independence would damage the Scottish economy. Not only did the full version of the encounter demonstrate that Salmond responded comprehensively, but he turned the tables on Robinson by calling into question the BBC's role as an 'impartial' public broadcaster. The self-serving report that was broadcast that night by Robinson on BBC News at Ten did not reflect the encounter which the political editor summed up misleadingly as:

'He didn't answer, but he did attack the reporting.' 

The distorted BBC News reporting was picked up on social media and no doubt encapsulated what many viewers and listeners, particularly in Scotland, have been observing for months, if not years. One reader wrote an excellent email to us in which he said:

'Honestly, this is just ONE example of pathetic bias which more and more Scots are seeing through. I've long been a follower of your site, and I make a point of reading each and every alert. This is the first time I've taken to contacting you, and as I said, I imagine lots of others will be doing just that on the same subject.

'I've seen so much media bias with BBC Scotland since the turn of the year, but it's now getting to laughable proportions. And now that we have the entire London press-mafia crawling all over it too, it's daily headline news - all doom and gloom about how Scotland will fail, Scotland will be bankrupt, there's no more oil left, jobs will go, etc etc. It's been diabolical.'

The BBC's dismissive response to the public complaints about Robinson's skewed report concluded with the usual worn-out boilerplate text:

'the overall report [was] balanced and impartial, in line with our editorial guidelines.'

It is not only the bias in BBC News reporting that has alienated so many people, but the way the public broadcaster fails to adequately address public complaints - on any number of issues.

Damascene Conversions - Isis, Assad And The Bombing Of Iraq

Media Lens - Mán, 01/09/2014 - 11:17

This time last year, Western corporate media were focused on a single, grave threat to human life and civilised values. An endless stream of atrocity claims – some real, some fabricated with 'evidence' posted on YouTube - depicted President Assad of Syria as the latest incarnation of Milosevic, Saddam Hussein, bin Laden, Gaddafi: namely, the Official Enemy to be targeted for destruction.

Once again, 'quality' media generated a sense of inevitability – this Enemy was also so monstrous that the US-UK alliance had to 'intervene', to 'act'. It later transpired that the plan was to 'completely eradicate any military capabilities Assad had'.

The massacre claims were part of a rolling propaganda barrage intended to clear a path through public opposition to an attack. It was a close copy of the 1991 Gulf War media campaign described by the late historian Howard Zinn:

'The American population was bombarded the way the Iraqi population was bombarded. It was a war against us, a war of lies and disinformation and omission of history. That kind of war, overwhelming and devastating, waged here in the US while the Gulf War was waged over there.' (Zinn, Power, History and Warfare, Open Magazine Pamphlet Series, No. 8, 1991, p.12)

This summer, the Assad atrocity stories splashed across newspaper front pages and TV broadcasts for so long have mysteriously dried up. If the BBC website looked like this last year, it now looks like this, this and this. The Independent published an article with a title that would have been unthinkable even a few months ago:

'Putin may have been right about Syria all along - Many cautioned against the earlier insistence of the Obama administration that Assad must go'

Has the man universally loathed and reviled by corporate commentators undergone an appropriately Damascene conversion? A more prosaic explanation was supplied by the Financial Times:

'US and allies must join Assad to defeat Isis [Islamic State], warns British MP' (Sam Jones, Financial Times, August 21, 2014)

The MP in question, Sir Malcolm Rifkind - chairman of parliament's intelligence and security committee, and a former foreign secretary - declared:

'"[Isis] need to be eliminated and we should not be squeamish about how we do it... Sometimes you have to develop relationships with people who are extremely nasty in order to get rid of people who are even nastier."'

One year ago, Rifkind called for a 'military strike' on Syria of 'a significant kind':

'If we don't make that effort to punish and deter, then these actions will indeed continue.'

Richard Dannatt, former head of the British army, observed last month:

'The old saying "my enemy's enemy is my friend" has begun to have some resonance with our relationship in Iran and I think it is going to have to have some resonance with our relationship with Assad.'

Again, unthinkable in the recent past, when Media Lens was smeared as 'pro-Assad' for challenging obviously suspect, warmongering claims.

Fighters hailed by the media last year as heroic 'rebels' opposing Assad's army are now decidedly 'jihadists'. In 2012, the New York Times reported:

'Most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists...'.

Assad, it seems, is yesterday's 'bad guy' - Isis is the new 'threat'. On this, almost every media commentator appears to agree. A Guardian leader of August 11, commented:

'President Obama had no real alternative to the air strikes he ordered last week against Islamic State (Isis) forces... Quite apart from the threat to the future of Iraq as a whole, the US and Britain have a humanitarian duty to the endangered minorities, and a debt of honour to the Kurds.'

It is pretty remarkable that journalists are still able to believe (presumably dismissing Gaza as a blip) that US-UK foreign policy is guided by notions of 'duty' and 'honour'. The UK's leading 'liberal-left' newspaper is apparently not appalled by the prospect that the killers of half a million children through sanctions and in excess of one million people as a result of the 2003 invasion are once again affecting to 'help' Iraq. Why, because the editors can perceive 'ignorance and incompetence' in Western actions but not self-interested criminality. Thus, for the Guardian, 'America is right to intervene.'

The editors offered the vaguest of nods in the direction of one of the great bloodbaths of modern times:

'After all that has passed in recent years, hesitation about any kind of intervention in the Middle East is entirely understandable. But the desperate plight of the Iraqi minorities and the potentially very serious threat to the Kurds surely warrants a fundamental reconsideration.'

Alternatively, 'all that has passed in recent years' might provoke 'a fundamental reconsideration' of the idea that the US-UK alliance is guided by concern for the plight of Iraqi minorities.

As Steve Coll wrote in The New Yorker last month:

'ExxonMobil and Chevron are among the many oil and gas firms large and small drilling in Kurdistan under contracts that compensate the companies for their political risk-taking with unusually favorable terms.'

Coll added sardonically:

'It's not about oil. After you've written that on the blackboard five hundred times, watch Rachel Maddow's documentary "Why We Did It" for a highly sophisticated yet pointed journalistic take on how the world oil economy has figured from the start as a silent partner in the Iraq fiasco.'

The conclusion:

'Obama's defense of Erbil is effectively the defense of an undeclared Kurdish oil state whose sources of geopolitical appeal - as a long-term, non-Russian supplier of oil and gas to Europe, for example - are best not spoken of in polite or naïve company...'

Damascene Conversions - Isis, Assad And The Bombing Of Iraq

Media Lens - Mán, 01/09/2014 - 11:17

This time last year, Western corporate media were focused on a single, grave threat to human life and civilised values. An endless stream of atrocity claims – some real, some fabricated with 'evidence' posted on YouTube - depicted President Assad of Syria as the latest incarnation of Milosevic, Saddam Hussein, bin Laden, Gaddafi: namely, the Official Enemy to be targeted for destruction.

Once again, 'quality' media generated a sense of inevitability – this Enemy was also so monstrous that the US-UK alliance had to 'intervene', to 'act'. It later transpired that the plan was to 'completely eradicate any military capabilities Assad had'.

The massacre claims were part of a rolling propaganda barrage intended to clear a path through public opposition to an attack. It was a close copy of the 1991 Gulf War media campaign described by the late historian Howard Zinn:

'The American population was bombarded the way the Iraqi population was bombarded. It was a war against us, a war of lies and disinformation and omission of history. That kind of war, overwhelming and devastating, waged here in the US while the Gulf War was waged over there.' (Zinn, Power, History and Warfare, Open Magazine Pamphlet Series, No. 8, 1991, p.12)

This summer, the Assad atrocity stories splashed across newspaper front pages and TV broadcasts for so long have mysteriously dried up. If the BBC website looked like this last year, it now looks like this, this and this. The Independent published an article with a title that would have been unthinkable even a few months ago:

'Putin may have been right about Syria all along - Many cautioned against the earlier insistence of the Obama administration that Assad must go'

Has the man universally loathed and reviled by corporate commentators undergone an appropriately Damascene conversion? A more prosaic explanation was supplied by the Financial Times:

'US and allies must join Assad to defeat Isis [Islamic State], warns British MP' (Sam Jones, Financial Times, August 21, 2014)

The MP in question, Sir Malcolm Rifkind - chairman of parliament's intelligence and security committee, and a former foreign secretary - declared:

'"[Isis] need to be eliminated and we should not be squeamish about how we do it... Sometimes you have to develop relationships with people who are extremely nasty in order to get rid of people who are even nastier."'

One year ago, Rifkind called for a 'military strike' on Syria of 'a significant kind':

'If we don't make that effort to punish and deter, then these actions will indeed continue.'

Richard Dannatt, former head of the British army, observed last month:

'The old saying "my enemy's enemy is my friend" has begun to have some resonance with our relationship in Iran and I think it is going to have to have some resonance with our relationship with Assad.'

Again, unthinkable in the recent past, when Media Lens was smeared as 'pro-Assad' for challenging obviously suspect, warmongering claims.

Fighters hailed by the media last year as heroic 'rebels' opposing Assad's army are now decidedly 'jihadists'. In 2012, the New York Times reported:

'Most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists...'.

Assad, it seems, is yesterday's 'bad guy' - Isis is the new 'threat'. On this, almost every media commentator appears to agree. A Guardian leader of August 11, commented:

'President Obama had no real alternative to the air strikes he ordered last week against Islamic State (Isis) forces... Quite apart from the threat to the future of Iraq as a whole, the US and Britain have a humanitarian duty to the endangered minorities, and a debt of honour to the Kurds.'

It is pretty remarkable that journalists are still able to believe (presumably dismissing Gaza as a blip) that US-UK foreign policy is guided by notions of 'duty' and 'honour'. The UK's leading 'liberal-left' newspaper is apparently not appalled by the prospect that the killers of half a million children through sanctions and in excess of one million people as a result of the 2003 invasion are once again affecting to 'help' Iraq. Why, because the editors can perceive 'ignorance and incompetence' in Western actions but not self-interested criminality. Thus, for the Guardian, 'America is right to intervene.'

The editors offered the vaguest of nods in the direction of one of the great bloodbaths of modern times:

'After all that has passed in recent years, hesitation about any kind of intervention in the Middle East is entirely understandable. But the desperate plight of the Iraqi minorities and the potentially very serious threat to the Kurds surely warrants a fundamental reconsideration.'

Alternatively, 'all that has passed in recent years' might provoke 'a fundamental reconsideration' of the idea that the US-UK alliance is guided by concern for the plight of Iraqi minorities.

As Steve Coll wrote in The New Yorker last month:

'ExxonMobil and Chevron are among the many oil and gas firms large and small drilling in Kurdistan under contracts that compensate the companies for their political risk-taking with unusually favorable terms.'

Coll added sardonically:

'It's not about oil. After you've written that on the blackboard five hundred times, watch Rachel Maddow's documentary "Why We Did It" for a highly sophisticated yet pointed journalistic take on how the world oil economy has figured from the start as a silent partner in the Iraq fiasco.'

The conclusion:

'Obama's defense of Erbil is effectively the defense of an undeclared Kurdish oil state whose sources of geopolitical appeal - as a long-term, non-Russian supplier of oil and gas to Europe, for example - are best not spoken of in polite or naïve company...'

Plastkort, peningar og lýðræði

Gunnar Skúli bloggar - Þri, 26/08/2014 - 00:13

Stundum er sagt að ”fjármálavaldið” ráði mest öllu í þjóðfélagi okkar og mun meira en Alþingi. Þetta er satt en hvernig fer það að því, í hverju felast völd þess. Kjarninn í fjármálavaldinu eru bankarnir. Þeir búa til peningana. Þeir hafa einkaleyfi á því. Hið opinbera, fyrirtæki og almenningur verður að taka peninga að láni hjá bönkunum til að geta stundað sín viðskipti.
Peningar flytja verðmæti frá einum stað til annars. Svipað og fyrirfram greitt debet kort, þú setur ákveðna upphæð inná kortið þitt og nýtir hana seinna. Þetta plastkort geymir því verðmæti. Plastkortið flytur því verðmæti þín frá einum stað til annars og auk þess getur þú geymt peningana á kortinu að vild. Einnig er hægt að nota kortið til að greiða skatta til hins opinbera og þar með er þetta kort orðið ígildi peninga. Kostnaðurinn við kortið er einhver föst stærð óháð því hversu mikið þú setur inná það. Það sem ég er að reyna að segja er að miðillinn, kortið, er selt á kostnaðarverði.
Peningarnir sem við fáum hjá bönkunum eru eins og plastkortið. Hlutverk kortsins og peninganna er það sama, að flytja verðmæti okkar frá einum stað til annars, frá einum tíma til annars, að geyma verðmæti okkar. Það er þó einn mikilvægur munur því við fáum ekki peningana á kostnaðarverði. Á peningana er stimplaðar ákveðnar upphæðir eins og við þekkjum.
Plastkortið kostar nánast ekkert og peningar ættu ekki að kosta neitt heldur. Vandamálið er að bönkum tókst fyrir 300 árum að fá einkaleyfi á því að framleiða peninga og þar með verðleggja þá. Við fáum ekki peningana á kostnaðarverði hjá bönkunum heldur verðum við að taka þá að láni hjá þeim. Lánsupphæðin ákvarðast af þeirri upphæð sem stimpluð er á peningana. Ef við þurfum 1000 krónur þá þurfum við að fá þá að láni hjá bankanum og þegar við höfum greitt þá skuld höfum við borgað 1000 krónur fyrir 1000 króna seðilinn. Síðan getum við notað hann til að flytja verðmæti vinnu okkar frá einum stað til annars.
Þetta er ein aðferð til að framleiða peninga svo við getum átt í viðskiptum en hefur í för með sér óendalega mikla skuldasöfnun. Í raun skulda allir; einstaklingar, fyrirtæki og hið opinbera bönkunum. Auk þess eru það bankarnir sem ákveða hvað er framkvæmt því þeir skammta lánin til þeirra sem eru þeim þóknanlegir. Ef peningar væru búnir til án skuldsetningar af hinu opinbera þá værum við ekki jafn skuldum vafin og almenningur hefði aðgöngu að ákvörðunum um það hvernig við deilum út peningum.
Forseti í einhverju þriðja heims ríki fær ekki krónu lánaða hjá neinum banka heldur bara hjá Alþjóðagjaldeyrissjóðnum og fylgja þá oft ströng skilyrði með. Skiptir þá ekki máli þó stót hluti þjóðarinnar sé á vergangi vegna uppskerubrests og deyjandi úr hungri og þorsta. Viðkomandi land fær þróunarhjálp frá vesturveldunum sem er þó minni upphæð en landið borgar í afborganir af lánum til vesturveldanna.
Það væri mun gæfulegra ef viðkomandi ríki(og öll önnur) gæti framleitt sína peninga sjálft án milligöngu banka. Það gæti þá strax hafist handa við vatnsveitur og annað sem vinnur bug á hungri og þorsta, nægt er vinnuaflið, og greitt fyrir með peningum búnum til án skuldsetningar af hinu opinbera. Þar með væru peningar aftur komnir á sinn stall við að flytja verðmæti frá einum stað til annars án sérstakrar skuldsetningar. Þar með væru peningar aftur orðnir fjórða valdið í lýðræðisskipulagi okkar undir stjórn almennings en ekki fámennrar elítu einkarekinna banka.
Bankarnir yrðu af ofsagróða en við myndum höndla hið lýðræðislega vald aftur.

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