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‘Skirmishes’ – Israel’s Syria Blitz

Media Lens - Mið, 23/05/2018 - 11:57

A key 'mainstream' media theme in covering the Israeli army's repeated massacres of unarmed, non-violent Palestinian civilians protesting Israel's military occupation in Gaza – killing journalists, a paramedic, the elderly and children – has been the description of these crimes as 'clashes'.

This has been a clear attempt to obfuscate the fact that while two groups of people are involved, only one group is being killed and wounded.

To the casual reader – and many readers do not venture beyond the headlines – a 'clash' suggests that both sides are armed, with both suffering casualties. One would not, for example, describe a firing squad as a 'clash'. There was no 'clash' in New York on September 11, 2001, and so on.

Following Israel's massive blitz on more than 100 targets in Syria on May 10, 'mainstream' coverage offered similarly questionable frameworks of understanding. A Guardian headline read:

'Israel retaliates after Iran "fires 20 rockets" at army in occupied Golan Heights' (Our emphasis)

For moral, legal and public relations reasons, the issue of which side started a conflict is obviously crucial. If the public recognises that the case for war is unjustified, immoral or illegal – that a country has chosen to launch a war of aggression - they will likely oppose it, sometimes in the millions, as happened in 2002 and 2003 in relation to the Iraq war. It is thus highly significant that the Guardian described Israel as retaliating.

The BBC reported of Israel's attacks:

'They came after 20 rockets were fired at Israeli military positions in the occupied Golan Heights.' (Our emphasis)

Reuters took the same line as the Guardian and BBC:

'Iran targets Israeli bases across Syrian frontier, Israel pounds Syria

'Iranian forces in Syria launched a rocket attack on Israeli forces in the Golan Heights early on Thursday, Israel said, prompting one of the heaviest Israeli barrages in Syria since the conflict there began in 2011.' (Our emphasis)

The New York Times also reported:

'It was a furious response to what Israel called an Iranian rocket attack launched from Syrian territory just hours earlier.' (Our emphasis)

And yet, the report buried a challenge to its own claim that Israel had retaliated in the second half of the piece:

'Iran's rocket attack against Israel came after what appeared to have been an Israeli missile strike against a village in the Syrian Golan Heights late on Wednesday.' (Our emphasis)

According to the BBC (see below), the Israeli missile strike had targeted an Iranian drone facility killing several Iranians.

So, actually, it might be said that Iran was retaliating to Israeli attacks – a more reasonable interpretation, given recent history also described by the New York Times:

'Israel has conducted scores of strikes on Iran and its allies inside Syria, rarely acknowledging them publicly.'

Nevertheless, the corporate media theme has been that Israel retaliated, part of a long-term trend in media coverage. In a 2002 report, Bad News From Israel, The Glasgow University Media Group commented:

'On the news, Israeli actions tended to be explained and contextualised - they were often shown as merely "responding" to what had been done to them by Palestinians (in the 2001 samples they were six times as likely to be presented as "retaliating" or in some way responding than were the Palestinians).'

 

‘A Suffocating Groupthink’: Sampling The Corporate Media On Israel, Iran, Syria And Russia

Media Lens - Mið, 16/05/2018 - 08:54

The gaping chasm between reality and unreality is exemplified by recent contrasting statements about journalism from two veteran reporters. On the one side we have Jeremy Bowen, the BBC's Middle East editor, who enjoys a public image of principled honesty and a supposedly fierce commitment to news balance and impartiality. But, when he was challenged recently on Twitter about the blatant bias in BBC News reporting, he responded just as one would expect of a well-rewarded, high-profile employee of the national broadcaster:

'We are the best source of decent, impartial reportage anywhere in the world.'

As Noam Chomsky has observed of elite power and allied corporate journalists:

'Heaven must be full to overflowing, if the masters of self-adulation are to be taken at their word.' (Chomsky, 'Year 501', Verso, 1993, p.20)

In reality, as hundreds of media alerts, and several of our books attest, and also the work of many others, Bowen's assertion could not be further from the truth.

By contrast, consider a recent interview with renowned journalist and documentary filmmaker John Pilger on 'mainstream' media coverage of Syria, Salisbury, Yemen and Korea. He said:

'I've never known journalism to be so distorted in order to serve this propaganda [...] What we're seeing is the most intense campaign of propaganda at least since the build-up to the Iraq war in 2003.'

Pilger often makes a specific point of including BBC News in his scathing criticism:

'Why has so much journalism succumbed to propaganda? Why are censorship and distortion standard practice? Why is the BBC so often a mouthpiece of rapacious power?'

In what follows, we itemise a range of important issues where current 'mainstream' reporting is not simply poor or weak; but systematically skewed in the interests of Western state-corporate power.

It is important to grasp that this is not about the so-called 'failure' of corporate journalism. Rather, this is a reminder that corporate journalism is performing exactly as it should. As Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky noted when introducing their propaganda model of the media in 'Manufacturing Consent', published thirty years ago:

'The mass media serve as a system for communicating messages and symbols to the general populace. It is their function to amuse, entertain, and inform, and to inculcate individuals with the values, beliefs, and codes of behavior that will integrate them into the institutional structures of the larger society. In a world of concentrated wealth and major conflicts of class interest, to fulfill this role requires systematic propaganda.' (Herman and Chomsky, 'Manufacturing Consent', Vintage, 1988/1994, p. 1; our emphasis)

Douma: Part 2 - 'It Just Doesn't Ring True'

Media Lens - Fim, 26/04/2018 - 08:00

Jonathan Freedland's 'committed denialists and conspiracists', and Paul Mason's victims of Putin's 'global strategy' clutching at 'false flag theories', presumably include Lord West, former First Sea Lord and Chief of Defence Intelligence. In an interview with the BBC, West commented:

'President Assad is in the process of winning this civil war. And he was about to take over and occupy Douma, all that area. He'd had a long, long, hard slog, slowly capturing that whole area of the city. And then, just before he goes in and takes it all over, apparently he decides to have a chemical attack. It just doesn't ring true.

'It seems extraordinary, because clearly he would know that there's likely to be a response from the allies – what benefit is there for his military? Most of the rebel fighters, this disparate group of Islamists, had withdrawn; there were a few women and children left around. What benefit was there militarily in doing what he did? I find that extraordinary. Whereas we know that, in the past, some of the Islamic groups have used chemicals [see here], and of course there would be huge benefit in them labelling an attack as coming from Assad, because they would guess, quite rightly, that there'd be a response from the US, as there was last time, and possibly from the UK and France...

'We do know that the reports that came from there were from the White Helmets - who, let's face it, are not neutrals [see here]; you know, they're very much on the side of the disparate groups who are fighting Assad – and also the World Health Organisation doctors who are there. And again, those doctors are embedded in amongst the groups – doing fantastic work, I know – but they're not neutral. And I am just a little bit concerned, because as we now move to the next phase of this war, if I were advising some of the Islamist groups – many of whom are worse than Daish - I would say: "Look, we've got to wait until there's another attack by Assad's forces – particularly if they have a helicopter overhead, or something like that, and they're dropping barrel bombs – and we must set off some chlorine because we'll get the next attack from the allies...." And it is the only way they've got, actually, of stopping the inevitable victory of Assad.'

Another senior military figure, Major General Jonathan Shaw, former commander of British forces in Iraq (his responsibilities have included chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear policy), was shut down by a Sky News journalist 30 seconds after he started saying the wrong thing:

'The debate that seems to be missing from this... was what possible motive might have triggered Syria to launch a chemical attack at this time in this place? You know, the Syrians are winning... Don't take my word for it. Take the American military's word. General Vergel [sic – Votel], the head of Centcom - he said to Congress the other day, "Assad has won this war, and we need to face that".

'Then you've got last week the statement by Trump - or tweet by Trump - that America has finished with ISIL and we were going to pull out soon, very soon.

'And then suddenly you get this...'

At which point Shaw's sound was cut and the interview terminated. Peter Hitchens asked:

'Can anyone tell me what was so urgent on Sky News, which made it necessary to cut this distinguished general off in mid-sentence?'

Sky News gave their version of events here, claiming they had to take an ad break.

Also taking a more cautious view than Tisdall, Freedland, Rawnsley, Lucas, Mendoza, Monbiot, Mason and the Guardian editors (see Part 1), is James 'Mad Dog' Mattis, the US Secretary of Defence, who said:

'I believe there was a chemical attack and we are looking for the actual evidence.'

Only 'looking' for actual evidence?

'As each day goes by — as you know, it is a non-persistent gas — so it becomes more and more difficult to confirm it.'

The evidence clearly, then, had not yet been found and the claims had not yet been confirmed.

Peter Ford, former British ambassador to Syria, voiced scepticism:

'The Americans have failed to produce any evidence beyond what they call newspaper reports and social media, whereas Western journalists who have been in Douma [see below] and produced testimony from witnesses – from medics with names so they can be checked – to the effect that the Syrian version is correct.'

Before Trump's latest attack, Scott Ritter, former chief UN weapons inspector in Iraq, made the point that mattered:

'The bottom line, however, is that the United States is threatening to go to war in Syria over allegations of chemical weapons usage for which no factual evidence has been provided. This act is occurring even as the possibility remains that verifiable forensic investigations would, at a minimum, confirm the presence of chemical weapons...'

Even a BBC journalist managed some short-lived scepticism. Riam Dalati tweeted:

'Sick and tired of activists and rebels using corpses of dead children to stage emotive scenes for Western consumption.

'Then they wonder why some serious journos are questioning part of the narrative.

'#Douma #ChemicalAttack #EasternGhouta'

The tweet was quickly deleted.

Craig Murray wrote:

'For the FCO, I lived and worked in several actual dictatorships. The open bias of their media presenters and the tone of their propaganda operations was - always - less hysterical than the current output of the BBC. The facade is not crumbling, it's tumbling.'

Douma: Part 2 - 'It Just Doesn't Ring True'

Media Lens - Fim, 26/04/2018 - 08:00

Jonathan Freedland's 'committed denialists and conspiracists', and Paul Mason's victims of Putin's 'global strategy' clutching at 'false flag theories', presumably include Lord West, former First Sea Lord and Chief of Defence Intelligence. In an interview with the BBC, West commented:

'President Assad is in the process of winning this civil war. And he was about to take over and occupy Douma, all that area. He'd had a long, long, hard slog, slowly capturing that whole area of the city. And then, just before he goes in and takes it all over, apparently he decides to have a chemical attack. It just doesn't ring true.

'It seems extraordinary, because clearly he would know that there's likely to be a response from the allies – what benefit is there for his military? Most of the rebel fighters, this disparate group of Islamists, had withdrawn; there were a few women and children left around. What benefit was there militarily in doing what he did? I find that extraordinary. Whereas we know that, in the past, some of the Islamic groups have used chemicals [see here], and of course there would be huge benefit in them labelling an attack as coming from Assad, because they would guess, quite rightly, that there'd be a response from the US, as there was last time, and possibly from the UK and France...

'We do know that the reports that came from there were from the White Helmets - who, let's face it, are not neutrals [see here]; you know, they're very much on the side of the disparate groups who are fighting Assad – and also the World Health Organisation doctors who are there. And again, those doctors are embedded in amongst the groups – doing fantastic work, I know – but they're not neutral. And I am just a little bit concerned, because as we now move to the next phase of this war, if I were advising some of the Islamist groups – many of whom are worse than Daish - I would say: "Look, we've got to wait until there's another attack by Assad's forces – particularly if they have a helicopter overhead, or something like that, and they're dropping barrel bombs – and we must set off some chlorine because we'll get the next attack from the allies...." And it is the only way they've got, actually, of stopping the inevitable victory of Assad.'

Another senior military figure, Major General Jonathan Shaw, former commander of British forces in Iraq (his responsibilities have included chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear policy), was shut down by a Sky News journalist 30 seconds after he started saying the wrong thing:

'The debate that seems to be missing from this... was what possible motive might have triggered Syria to launch a chemical attack at this time in this place? You know, the Syrians are winning... Don't take my word for it. Take the American military's word. General Vergel [sic – Votel], the head of Centcom - he said to Congress the other day, "Assad has won this war, and we need to face that".

'Then you've got last week the statement by Trump - or tweet by Trump - that America has finished with ISIL and we were going to pull out soon, very soon.

'And then suddenly you get this...'

At which point Shaw's sound was cut and the interview terminated. Peter Hitchens asked:

'Can anyone tell me what was so urgent on Sky News, which made it necessary to cut this distinguished general off in mid-sentence?'

Sky News gave their version of events here, claiming they had to take an ad break.

Also taking a more cautious view than Tisdall, Freedland, Rawnsley, Lucas, Mendoza, Monbiot, Mason and the Guardian editors (see Part 1), is James 'Mad Dog' Mattis, the US Secretary of Defence, who said:

'I believe there was a chemical attack and we are looking for the actual evidence.'

Only 'looking' for actual evidence?

'As each day goes by — as you know, it is a non-persistent gas — so it becomes more and more difficult to confirm it.'

The evidence clearly, then, had not yet been found and the claims had not yet been confirmed.

Peter Ford, former British ambassador to Syria, voiced scepticism:

'The Americans have failed to produce any evidence beyond what they call newspaper reports and social media, whereas Western journalists who have been in Douma [see below] and produced testimony from witnesses – from medics with names so they can be checked – to the effect that the Syrian version is correct.'

Before Trump's latest attack, Scott Ritter, former chief UN weapons inspector in Iraq, made the point that mattered:

'The bottom line, however, is that the United States is threatening to go to war in Syria over allegations of chemical weapons usage for which no factual evidence has been provided. This act is occurring even as the possibility remains that verifiable forensic investigations would, at a minimum, confirm the presence of chemical weapons...'

Even a BBC journalist managed some short-lived scepticism. Riam Dalati tweeted:

'Sick and tired of activists and rebels using corpses of dead children to stage emotive scenes for Western consumption.

'Then they wonder why some serious journos are questioning part of the narrative.

'#Douma #ChemicalAttack #EasternGhouta'

The tweet was quickly deleted.

Craig Murray wrote:

'For the FCO, I lived and worked in several actual dictatorships. The open bias of their media presenters and the tone of their propaganda operations was - always - less hysterical than the current output of the BBC. The facade is not crumbling, it's tumbling.'

Douma: Part 1 - Deception In Plain Sight

Media Lens - Mið, 25/04/2018 - 06:48

UK corporate media are under a curious kind of military occupation. Almost all print and broadcast media now employ a number of reporters and commentators who are relentless and determined warmongers. Despite the long, unarguable history of US-UK lying on war, and the catastrophic results, these journalists instantly confirm the veracity of atrocity claims made against Official Enemies, while having little or nothing to say about the proven crimes of the US, UK, Israel and their allies. They shriek with a level of moral outrage from which their own government is forever spared. They laud even the most obviously biased, tinpot sources blaming the 'Enemy', while dismissing out of hand the best scientific researchers, investigative journalists and academic sceptics who disagree.

Anyone who challenges this strange bias is branded a 'denier', 'pro-Saddam', 'pro-Gaddafi, 'pro-Assad'. Above all, one robotically repeated word is generated again and again: 'Apologist... Apologist... Apologist'.

Claims of a chemical weapons attack on Douma, Syria on April 7, offered yet another textbook example of this reflexive warmongering. Remarkably, the alleged attack came just days after US president Donald Trump had declared of Syria:

'I want to get out. I want to bring our troops back home. I want to start rebuilding our nation.'

The 'mainstream' responded as one, with instant certainty, exactly as they had in response to atrocity and other casus belli claims in Houla, Ghouta, Khan Sheikhoun and many other cases in Iraq (1990), Iraq (1998), Iraq (2002-2003), Libya and Kosovo.

Once again, the Guardian editors were sure: there was no question of a repetition of the fake justifications for war to secure non-existent Iraqi WMDs, or to prevent a fictional Libyan massacre in Benghazi. Instead, this was 'a chemical gas attack, orchestrated by Bashar al-Assad, that left dead children foaming at the mouth'.

Simon Tisdall, the Guardian's assistant editor, had clearly decided that enough was enough:

'It's time for Britain and its allies to take concerted, sustained military action to curb Bashar al-Assad's ability to murder Syria's citizens at will.'

This sounded like more than another cruise missile strike. But presumably Tisdall meant something cautious and restrained to avoid the terrifying risk of nuclear confrontation with Russia:

'It means destroying Assad's combat planes, bombers, helicopters and ground facilities from the air. It means challenging Assad's and Russia's control of Syrian airspace. It means taking out Iranian military bases and batteries in Syria if they are used to prosecute the war.'

But surely after Iraq - when UN weapons inspectors under Hans Blix were prevented from completing the work that would have shown that Saddam Hussein possessed no WMD – 'we' should wait for the intergovernmental Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons inspectors to investigate. After all, as journalist Peter Oborne noted of Trump's air raids:

'When the bombing started the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was actually in Damascus and preparing to travel to the area where the alleged chemical attacks took place.'

Oborne added:

'Had we wanted independent verification on this occasion in Syria surely we ourselves would have demanded the OPCW send a mission to Douma. Yet we conspicuously omitted to ask for it.'

Tisdall was having none of it:

'Calls to wait for yet another UN investigation amount to irresponsible obfuscation. Only the Syrian regime and its Russian backers have the assets and the motivation to launch such merciless attacks on civilian targets. Or did all those writhing children imagine the gas?'

The idea that only Assad and the Russians had 'the motivation' to launch a gas attack simply defied all common sense. And, as we will see, it was not certain that children had been filmed 'writhing' under gas attack. Tisdall's pro-war position was supported by just 22% of British people.

Equally gung-ho, the oligarch-owned Evening Standard, edited by veteran newspaperman and politically impartial former Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, headlined this plea on the front page:

'HIT SYRIA WITHOUT A VOTE, MAY URGED'

Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland, formerly the paper's comment editor, also poured scorn on the need for further evidence:

'Besides, how much evidence do we need?... To all but the most committed denialists and conspiracists, Assad's guilt is clear.'

Freedland could argue that the case for blaming Assad was clear, if he liked, but he absolutely could not argue that disagreeing was a sign of denialist delusion.

Time and again, we encounter these jaw-dropping efforts to browbeat the reader with fake certainty and selective moral outrage. In his piece, Freedland linked to the widely broadcast social media video footage from a hospital in Douma, which showed that Assad was guilty of 'inflicting a death so painful the footage is unbearable to watch'. But when we actually click Freedland's link and watch the video, we do not see anyone dying, let alone in agony, and the video is not in fact unbearable to watch. Like Tisdall's claim on motivation, Freedland was simply declaring that black is white.

But many people are so intimidated by this cocktail of certainty and indignation – by the fear that they will be shamed as 'denialists' and 'apologists' – that they doubt the evidence of their own eyes. In 'mainstream' journalism, expressions of moral outrage are offered as evidence of a fiery conviction burning within. In reality, the shrieks are mostly hot air.

In the Observer, Andrew Rawnsley also deceived in plain sight by blaming the Syrian catastrophe on Western inaction:

'Syria has paid a terrible price for the west's disastrous policy of doing nothing'.

However terrible media reporting on the 2003 Iraq war, commentators did at least recognise that the US and Britain were involved. We wrote to Rawnsley, asking how he could possibly not know about the CIA's billion dollar per annum campaign to train and arm fighters, or about the 15,000 high-tech, US anti-tank missiles sent to Syrian 'rebels' via Saudi Arabia.

Rawnsley ignored us, as ever.

Just three days after the alleged attack, the Guardian's George Monbiot was asked about Douma:

'Don't you smell a set up here though? Craig Murray doesn't think Assad did it.'

Monbiot replied:

'Then he's a fool.'

Craig Murray responded rather more graciously:

'I continue to attract attacks from the "respectable" corporate and state media. I shared a platform with Monbiot once, and liked him. They plainly find the spirit of intellectual inquiry to be a personal affront.'

Monbiot tweeted back:

'I'm sorry Craig but, while you have done excellent work on some issues, your efforts to exonerate Russia and Syria of a long list of crimes, despite the weight of evidence, are foolish in the extreme.'

The idea that Murray's effort has been 'to exonerate Russia and Syria of a long list of crimes' is again so completely false, so obviously not what Murray has been doing. But it fits perfectly with the corporate media theme of Cold War-style browbeating: anyone challenging the case for US-UK policy on Syria is an 'apologist' for 'the enemy'.

If Britain was facing imminent invasion across the channel from some malignant superpower, or was on the brink of nuclear annihilation, the term 'apologist' might have some merit as an emotive term attacking free speech – understandable in the circumstances. But Syria is not at war with Britain; it offers no threat whatsoever. If challenging evidence of Assad's responsibility is 'apologism', then why can we not describe people accepting that evidence as 'Trump apologists', or 'May apologists', or 'Jaysh al-Islam apologists'? The term really means little more than, 'I disagree with you' – a much more reasonable formulation.

As Jonathan Cook has previously commented:

'Monbiot has repeatedly denied that he wants a military attack on Syria. But if he then weakly accepts whatever narratives are crafted by those who do – and refuses to subject them to any meaningful scrutiny – he is decisively helping to promote such an attack.'

Douma: Part 1 - Deception In Plain Sight

Media Lens - Mið, 25/04/2018 - 06:48

UK corporate media are under a curious kind of military occupation. Almost all print and broadcast media now employ a number of reporters and commentators who are relentless and determined warmongers. Despite the long, unarguable history of US-UK lying on war, and the catastrophic results, these journalists instantly confirm the veracity of atrocity claims made against Official Enemies, while having little or nothing to say about the proven crimes of the US, UK, Israel and their allies. They shriek with a level of moral outrage from which their own government is forever spared. They laud even the most obviously biased, tinpot sources blaming the 'Enemy', while dismissing out of hand the best scientific researchers, investigative journalists and academic sceptics who disagree.

Anyone who challenges this strange bias is branded a 'denier', 'pro-Saddam', 'pro-Gaddafi, 'pro-Assad'. Above all, one robotically repeated word is generated again and again: 'Apologist... Apologist... Apologist'.

Claims of a chemical weapons attack on Douma, Syria on April 7, offered yet another textbook example of this reflexive warmongering. Remarkably, the alleged attack came just days after US president Donald Trump had declared of Syria:

'I want to get out. I want to bring our troops back home. I want to start rebuilding our nation.'

The 'mainstream' responded as one, with instant certainty, exactly as they had in response to atrocity and other casus belli claims in Houla, Ghouta, Khan Sheikhoun and many other cases in Iraq (1990), Iraq (1998), Iraq (2002-2003), Libya and Kosovo.

Once again, the Guardian editors were sure: there was no question of a repetition of the fake justifications for war to secure non-existent Iraqi WMDs, or to prevent a fictional Libyan massacre in Benghazi. Instead, this was 'a chemical gas attack, orchestrated by Bashar al-Assad, that left dead children foaming at the mouth'.

Simon Tisdall, the Guardian's assistant editor, had clearly decided that enough was enough:

'It's time for Britain and its allies to take concerted, sustained military action to curb Bashar al-Assad's ability to murder Syria's citizens at will.'

This sounded like more than another cruise missile strike. But presumably Tisdall meant something cautious and restrained to avoid the terrifying risk of nuclear confrontation with Russia:

'It means destroying Assad's combat planes, bombers, helicopters and ground facilities from the air. It means challenging Assad's and Russia's control of Syrian airspace. It means taking out Iranian military bases and batteries in Syria if they are used to prosecute the war.'

But surely after Iraq - when UN weapons inspectors under Hans Blix were prevented from completing the work that would have shown that Saddam Hussein possessed no WMD – 'we' should wait for the intergovernmental Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons inspectors to investigate. After all, as journalist Peter Oborne noted of Trump's air raids:

'When the bombing started the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was actually in Damascus and preparing to travel to the area where the alleged chemical attacks took place.'

Oborne added:

'Had we wanted independent verification on this occasion in Syria surely we ourselves would have demanded the OPCW send a mission to Douma. Yet we conspicuously omitted to ask for it.'

Tisdall was having none of it:

'Calls to wait for yet another UN investigation amount to irresponsible obfuscation. Only the Syrian regime and its Russian backers have the assets and the motivation to launch such merciless attacks on civilian targets. Or did all those writhing children imagine the gas?'

The idea that only Assad and the Russians had 'the motivation' to launch a gas attack simply defied all common sense. And, as we will see, it was not certain that children had been filmed 'writhing' under gas attack. Tisdall's pro-war position was supported by just 22% of British people.

Equally gung-ho, the oligarch-owned Evening Standard, edited by veteran newspaperman and politically impartial former Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, headlined this plea on the front page:

'HIT SYRIA WITHOUT A VOTE, MAY URGED'

Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland, formerly the paper's comment editor, also poured scorn on the need for further evidence:

'Besides, how much evidence do we need?... To all but the most committed denialists and conspiracists, Assad's guilt is clear.'

Freedland could argue that the case for blaming Assad was clear, if he liked, but he absolutely could not argue that disagreeing was a sign of denialist delusion.

Time and again, we encounter these jaw-dropping efforts to browbeat the reader with fake certainty and selective moral outrage. In his piece, Freedland linked to the widely broadcast social media video footage from a hospital in Douma, which showed that Assad was guilty of 'inflicting a death so painful the footage is unbearable to watch'. But when we actually click Freedland's link and watch the video, we do not see anyone dying, let alone in agony, and the video is not in fact unbearable to watch. Like Tisdall's claim on motivation, Freedland was simply declaring that black is white.

But many people are so intimidated by this cocktail of certainty and indignation – by the fear that they will be shamed as 'denialists' and 'apologists' – that they doubt the evidence of their own eyes. In 'mainstream' journalism, expressions of moral outrage are offered as evidence of a fiery conviction burning within. In reality, the shrieks are mostly hot air.

In the Observer, Andrew Rawnsley also deceived in plain sight by blaming the Syrian catastrophe on Western inaction:

'Syria has paid a terrible price for the west's disastrous policy of doing nothing'.

However terrible media reporting on the 2003 Iraq war, commentators did at least recognise that the US and Britain were involved. We wrote to Rawnsley, asking how he could possibly not know about the CIA's billion dollar per annum campaign to train and arm fighters, or about the 15,000 high-tech, US anti-tank missiles sent to Syrian 'rebels' via Saudi Arabia.

Rawnsley ignored us, as ever.

Just three days after the alleged attack, the Guardian's George Monbiot was asked about Douma:

'Don't you smell a set up here though? Craig Murray doesn't think Assad did it.'

Monbiot replied:

'Then he's a fool.'

Craig Murray responded rather more graciously:

'I continue to attract attacks from the "respectable" corporate and state media. I shared a platform with Monbiot once, and liked him. They plainly find the spirit of intellectual inquiry to be a personal affront.'

Monbiot tweeted back:

'I'm sorry Craig but, while you have done excellent work on some issues, your efforts to exonerate Russia and Syria of a long list of crimes, despite the weight of evidence, are foolish in the extreme.'

The idea that Murray's effort has been 'to exonerate Russia and Syria of a long list of crimes' is again so completely false, so obviously not what Murray has been doing. But it fits perfectly with the corporate media theme of Cold War-style browbeating: anyone challenging the case for US-UK policy on Syria is an 'apologist' for 'the enemy'.

If Britain was facing imminent invasion across the channel from some malignant superpower, or was on the brink of nuclear annihilation, the term 'apologist' might have some merit as an emotive term attacking free speech – understandable in the circumstances. But Syria is not at war with Britain; it offers no threat whatsoever. If challenging evidence of Assad's responsibility is 'apologism', then why can we not describe people accepting that evidence as 'Trump apologists', or 'May apologists', or 'Jaysh al-Islam apologists'? The term really means little more than, 'I disagree with you' – a much more reasonable formulation.

As Jonathan Cook has previously commented:

'Monbiot has repeatedly denied that he wants a military attack on Syria. But if he then weakly accepts whatever narratives are crafted by those who do – and refuses to subject them to any meaningful scrutiny – he is decisively helping to promote such an attack.'

Killing Mosquitoes: The Latest Gaza Massacres, Pro-Israel Media Bias And The Weapon Of ‘Antisemitism’

Media Lens - Mán, 09/04/2018 - 23:31

The Palestinians have long been seen as an obstacle by Israel's leaders; an irritant to be subjugated. Noam Chomsky commented:

'Traditionally over the years, Israel has sought to crush any resistance to its programs of takeover of the parts of Palestine it regards as valuable, while eliminating any hope for the indigenous population to have a decent existence enjoying national rights.'

He also noted:

'The key feature of the occupation has always been humiliation: they [the Palestinians] must not be allowed to raise their heads. The basic principle, often openly expressed, is that the "Araboushim" - a term that belongs with "nigger" or "kike" - must understand who rules this land and who walks in it with head lowered and eyes averted.' (Noam Chomsky, 'Fateful Triangle,' Pluto Press, updated edition, 1999, p.489)

Recent events encapsulate this all too well. On Friday, March 30, Israeli soldiers shot dead 14 Palestinians and wounded 1400, including 800 hit by live ammunition. By April 5, the death toll had risen to 21. During a second protest, one week later on Friday, April 7, the Israelis shot dead a further 10 Palestinians, including a 16-year-old boy, and more than 1300 were injured. Among those killed was Yasser Murtaja, a journalist who had been filming the protest. He had been wearing a distinctive blue protective vest marked 'PRESS' in large capital letters. The brutality, and utter brazenness with which the killings were carried out, is yet another demonstration of the apartheid state's contempt for the people it tried to ethnically cleanse in 1948, the year of Israel's founding.

On the first day of the protest, on March 30, many Palestinians had gathered in Gaza, close to the border with Israel, as part of a peaceful 'Great March of Return' protest demanding the right to reclaim ancestral homes in Israel. 100 Israeli snipers lay in wait, shooting at protesters, including an 18-year-old shot in the back while running away from the border. The Israel army boasted in a quickly-deleted tweet that the massacre had been planned, deliberate and premeditated:

'Nothing was carried out uncontrolled; everything was accurate and measured, and we know where every bullet landed'

BBC News and other 'mainstream' news outlets, including the Guardian, carried headlines about 'clashes' at the Gaza-Israel border 'leaving' Palestinians dead and injured. As we noted via Twitter, an honest headline would have read:

'Israeli troops kill 16 Palestinians and injure hundreds'

When the Israelis shot dead yet more Palestinians on the second Friday of protests, the BBC reported, 'Deadly unrest on Gaza-Israel border as Palestinians resume protest'. BBC 'impartiality' meant not headlining Israeli troops as the agency responsible for the 'deadly unrest'.

Adam Johnson, writing for Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting, observed of news reports carrying inappropriate headlines about 'clashes':

'We do not have one party's snipers opening fire on another, unarmed party; we have "violent clashes"—a term, as FAIR has noted before, that implies symmetry of forces and is often used to launder responsibility.'

Later, the Guardian quietly removed the word 'clashes' from its headlines, while adding Israeli military spin: that the protest was a Hamas ploy to 'carry out terror attacks'; compare this early version with a later version.

On the first Friday of mass killing, we noted that the Israeli newspaper Haaretz had reported the presence of Israeli snipers. We asked the public to look for any mention of this on BBC News. Around the time we made the request, the Newssniffer website picked up the first reference to 'snipers' on the BBC News website (albeit buried in a tiny mention at the bottom of a news article). Coincidence? Or were BBC editors aware that their output was under public scrutiny?

Within just one day, the BBC had relegated the news of the mass shootings in Gaza to a minor slot on its website. It considered 'news' about television personality Dec presenting Saturday Night Takeaway without Ant, and royal couple Harry and Meghan choosing wedding flowers, more important than Israel killing and wounding many hundreds of Palestinians.

When BBC News finally turned to Gaza, with a piece buried at the bottom of its World news page, it was from Israel's perspective:

'Israel warns it could strike inside Gaza'

and:

'Palestinian groups using protests as a cover to launch attacks on Israel'

This disgraceful coverage strongly suggested that Israel was the victim. As political analyst Charles Shoebridge observed:

'Editors especially at the BBC aren't stupid, they know exactly what they're doing, and the use of very many devices such as this isn't somehow repeatedly accidental. Indeed, it's a good example of how the BBC is perhaps history's most sophisticated and successful propaganda tool.'

By contrast, a powerful article in Haaretz from veteran Israeli journalist Gideon Levy pointed to the reality that the mass shooting by Israeli 'Defence' Forces:

'shows once again that the killing of Palestinians is accepted in Israel more lightly than the killing of mosquitoes.'

Killing Mosquitoes: The Latest Gaza Massacres, Pro-Israel Media Bias And The Weapon Of ‘Antisemitism’

Media Lens - Mán, 09/04/2018 - 23:31

The Palestinians have long been seen as an obstacle by Israel's leaders; an irritant to be subjugated. Noam Chomsky commented:

'Traditionally over the years, Israel has sought to crush any resistance to its programs of takeover of the parts of Palestine it regards as valuable, while eliminating any hope for the indigenous population to have a decent existence enjoying national rights.'

He also noted:

'The key feature of the occupation has always been humiliation: they [the Palestinians] must not be allowed to raise their heads. The basic principle, often openly expressed, is that the "Araboushim" - a term that belongs with "nigger" or "kike" - must understand who rules this land and who walks in it with head lowered and eyes averted.' (Noam Chomsky, 'Fateful Triangle,' Pluto Press, updated edition, 1999, p.489)

Recent events encapsulate this all too well. On Friday, March 30, Israeli soldiers shot dead 14 Palestinians and wounded 1400, including 800 hit by live ammunition. By April 5, the death toll had risen to 21. During a second protest, one week later on Friday, April 7, the Israelis shot dead a further 10 Palestinians, including a 16-year-old boy, and more than 1300 were injured. Among those killed was Yasser Murtaja, a journalist who had been filming the protest. He had been wearing a distinctive blue protective vest marked 'PRESS' in large capital letters. The brutality, and utter brazenness with which the killings were carried out, is yet another demonstration of the apartheid state's contempt for the people it tried to ethnically cleanse in 1948, the year of Israel's founding.

On the first day of the protest, on March 30, many Palestinians had gathered in Gaza, close to the border with Israel, as part of a peaceful 'Great March of Return' protest demanding the right to reclaim ancestral homes in Israel. 100 Israeli snipers lay in wait, shooting at protesters, including an 18-year-old shot in the back while running away from the border. The Israel army boasted in a quickly-deleted tweet that the massacre had been planned, deliberate and premeditated:

'Nothing was carried out uncontrolled; everything was accurate and measured, and we know where every bullet landed'

BBC News and other 'mainstream' news outlets, including the Guardian, carried headlines about 'clashes' at the Gaza-Israel border 'leaving' Palestinians dead and injured. As we noted via Twitter, an honest headline would have read:

'Israeli troops kill 16 Palestinians and injure hundreds'

When the Israelis shot dead yet more Palestinians on the second Friday of protests, the BBC reported, 'Deadly unrest on Gaza-Israel border as Palestinians resume protest'. BBC 'impartiality' meant not headlining Israeli troops as the agency responsible for the 'deadly unrest'.

Adam Johnson, writing for Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting, observed of news reports carrying inappropriate headlines about 'clashes':

'We do not have one party's snipers opening fire on another, unarmed party; we have "violent clashes"—a term, as FAIR has noted before, that implies symmetry of forces and is often used to launder responsibility.'

Later, the Guardian quietly removed the word 'clashes' from its headlines, while adding Israeli military spin: that the protest was a Hamas ploy to 'carry out terror attacks'; compare this early version with a later version.

On the first Friday of mass killing, we noted that the Israeli newspaper Haaretz had reported the presence of Israeli snipers. We asked the public to look for any mention of this on BBC News. Around the time we made the request, the Newssniffer website picked up the first reference to 'snipers' on the BBC News website (albeit buried in a tiny mention at the bottom of a news article). Coincidence? Or were BBC editors aware that their output was under public scrutiny?

Within just one day, the BBC had relegated the news of the mass shootings in Gaza to a minor slot on its website. It considered 'news' about television personality Dec presenting Saturday Night Takeaway without Ant, and royal couple Harry and Meghan choosing wedding flowers, more important than Israel killing and wounding many hundreds of Palestinians.

When BBC News finally turned to Gaza, with a piece buried at the bottom of its World news page, it was from Israel's perspective:

'Israel warns it could strike inside Gaza'

and:

'Palestinian groups using protests as a cover to launch attacks on Israel'

This disgraceful coverage strongly suggested that Israel was the victim. As political analyst Charles Shoebridge observed:

'Editors especially at the BBC aren't stupid, they know exactly what they're doing, and the use of very many devices such as this isn't somehow repeatedly accidental. Indeed, it's a good example of how the BBC is perhaps history's most sophisticated and successful propaganda tool.'

By contrast, a powerful article in Haaretz from veteran Israeli journalist Gideon Levy pointed to the reality that the mass shooting by Israeli 'Defence' Forces:

'shows once again that the killing of Palestinians is accepted in Israel more lightly than the killing of mosquitoes.'

No Spirit Of Liberty – The Salisbury Case, Corbyn And The Need For Dissent

Media Lens - Mið, 21/03/2018 - 07:58

Fifteen years ago this month, the US-led 'Shock and Awe' offensive began against Iraq, supposedly to disarm the country of its 'weapons of mass destruction'. The illegal invasion and subsequent brutal occupation led to the loss of around one million lives, created millions of refugees, destroyed the infrastructure of a country already ravaged by over a decade of cruel UN sanctions, and contributed significantly to the rise of Islamic State. All of this might never have happened were it not for an intense campaign of propaganda and deception in which the so-called 'mainstream' media, including 'impartial' BBC News, were enthusiastic participants.

In the Guardian, Martin Woollacott had declared of Saddam's supposed 'WMD':

'Among those knowledgeable about Iraq there are few, if any, who believe he is not hiding such weapons. It is a given.'

This conformity throughout the corporate media was remarkable. Ardent armchair war supporter David Aaronovitch, also writing in the Guardian, confidently asserted:

'If nothing is eventually found, I - as a supporter of the war - will never believe another thing that I am told by our government, or that of the US ever again.'

As the Downing Street Memo showed, intelligence and facts were 'fixed around' the pre-existing policy of invasion. The Chilcot Report, finally released in 2016, was damning of the way Tony Blair's government took the UK into war. Analysis of the report published last year by Sheffield University's Piers Robinson, emphasised the fundamental deception at the heart of the 'war on terror':

'9/11 was exploited in order to pursue a regime-change policy against countries unconnected with Al Qaeda and Islamic fundamentalist terrorism.'

Iraq was not a one-off. As we have documented, an onslaught of media propaganda facilitated the 2011 devastation of Libya, the deaths of up to 25,000 Libyans, including the brutal murder of Gaddafi, and a refugee crisis that has seen thousands drown trying to make the perilous sea crossing to Europe. The rationale for 'intervention' was the alleged threat of a massacre by Gaddafi's forces in Benghazi.

The Guardian's Jonathan Freedland had declared:

'If those nations with the power to stop these pre-announced killings had stood aside, they would have been morally culpable. Benghazi was set to become another Srebrenica – and those that did nothing would share the same shame.'

After 'something' had been done, the BBC's Nick Robinson observed that Downing Street:

'will see this, I'm sure, as a triumphant end. 

'Libya was David Cameron's first war. Col. Gaddafi his first foe. Today, his first real taste of military victory.'

(BBC, News at Six, October 20, 2011)

In September 2016, a report into the Libyan war was published by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons. In contrast to the near-total uniformity in media coverage at the time, the parliamentary report concluded that:

'the proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence.'

As with Iraq, virtually an entire country's infrastructure had been destroyed by the West's 'intervention':

'The result was political and economic collapse, inter-militia and inter-tribal warfare, humanitarian and migrant crises, widespread human rights violations, the spread of Gaddafi regime weapons across the region and the growth of ISIL [Islamic State] in North Africa.'

Cynical geopolitics and media disinformation campaigns have also characterised the ongoing war in Syria, with confident and immediate declarations of Assad's alleged use of chemical weapons (for example: see here, here and here). Rational challenges to this establishment consensus, and reasonable questions raised, have elicited howls of outrage from establishment politicians and commentators. Dissent simply will not be tolerated.

The parallels with the confident and immediate declarations of Russian responsibility for the nerve agent Novichok poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury on March 4 are disturbing.

No Spirit Of Liberty – The Salisbury Case, Corbyn And The Need For Dissent

Media Lens - Mið, 21/03/2018 - 07:58

Fifteen years ago this month, the US-led 'Shock and Awe' offensive began against Iraq, supposedly to disarm the country of its 'weapons of mass destruction'. The illegal invasion and subsequent brutal occupation led to the loss of around one million lives, created millions of refugees, destroyed the infrastructure of a country already ravaged by over a decade of cruel UN sanctions, and contributed significantly to the rise of Islamic State. All of this might never have happened were it not for an intense campaign of propaganda and deception in which the so-called 'mainstream' media, including 'impartial' BBC News, were enthusiastic participants.

In the Guardian, Martin Woollacott had declared of Saddam's supposed 'WMD':

'Among those knowledgeable about Iraq there are few, if any, who believe he is not hiding such weapons. It is a given.'

This conformity throughout the corporate media was remarkable. Ardent armchair war supporter David Aaronovitch, also writing in the Guardian, confidently asserted:

'If nothing is eventually found, I - as a supporter of the war - will never believe another thing that I am told by our government, or that of the US ever again.'

As the Downing Street Memo showed, intelligence and facts were 'fixed around' the pre-existing policy of invasion. The Chilcot Report, finally released in 2016, was damning of the way Tony Blair's government took the UK into war. Analysis of the report published last year by Sheffield University's Piers Robinson, emphasised the fundamental deception at the heart of the 'war on terror':

'9/11 was exploited in order to pursue a regime-change policy against countries unconnected with Al Qaeda and Islamic fundamentalist terrorism.'

Iraq was not a one-off. As we have documented, an onslaught of media propaganda facilitated the 2011 devastation of Libya, the deaths of up to 25,000 Libyans, including the brutal murder of Gaddafi, and a refugee crisis that has seen thousands drown trying to make the perilous sea crossing to Europe. The rationale for 'intervention' was the alleged threat of a massacre by Gaddafi's forces in Benghazi.

The Guardian's Jonathan Freedland had declared:

'If those nations with the power to stop these pre-announced killings had stood aside, they would have been morally culpable. Benghazi was set to become another Srebrenica – and those that did nothing would share the same shame.'

After 'something' had been done, the BBC's Nick Robinson observed that Downing Street:

'will see this, I'm sure, as a triumphant end. 

'Libya was David Cameron's first war. Col. Gaddafi his first foe. Today, his first real taste of military victory.'

(BBC, News at Six, October 20, 2011)

In September 2016, a report into the Libyan war was published by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons. In contrast to the near-total uniformity in media coverage at the time, the parliamentary report concluded that:

'the proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence.'

As with Iraq, virtually an entire country's infrastructure had been destroyed by the West's 'intervention':

'The result was political and economic collapse, inter-militia and inter-tribal warfare, humanitarian and migrant crises, widespread human rights violations, the spread of Gaddafi regime weapons across the region and the growth of ISIL [Islamic State] in North Africa.'

Cynical geopolitics and media disinformation campaigns have also characterised the ongoing war in Syria, with confident and immediate declarations of Assad's alleged use of chemical weapons (for example: see here, here and here). Rational challenges to this establishment consensus, and reasonable questions raised, have elicited howls of outrage from establishment politicians and commentators. Dissent simply will not be tolerated.

The parallels with the confident and immediate declarations of Russian responsibility for the nerve agent Novichok poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury on March 4 are disturbing.

'Follow Your Bliss' - The Tweet That Brought Corporate Journalism To The Brink Of A Nervous Breakthrough

Media Lens - Mið, 07/03/2018 - 13:23

 

'I have tried trade, but I found that it would take ten years to get under way in that, and that then I should probably be on my way to the devil.'

(Thoreau, 'Walden')

 

 

Noam Chomsky once emailed us:

'Am really impressed with what you are doing, though it's like trying to move a ten-ton truck with a toothpick. They're not going to allow themselves to be exposed.' (Chomsky, email to Media Lens, September 14, 2005)

These were kind words from Chomsky. But in fact, 'they' - corporate journalists - often do an excellent job of exposing themselves.

Consider that, last week, one of us happened to notice this on Twitter:

'Under 27? Want to spend a year writing about politics for The Observer, @NewStatesman and @thetimes? Anthony Howard Award 2018 is now open: http://anthonyhowardaward.org.uk . It gave @LOS_Fisher @ashcowburn @patrickkmaguire @Dulcie_Lee and me our starts in Westminster. Apply!'

We responded:

'Forget it. Don't write for the "mainstream". Don't write for money. Don't write for prestige. Just "follow your bliss" by writing what you absolutely love to write to inspire and enlighten other people. Write what seems interesting, important and true, and give it away for free.'

The tweet quickly picked up 15 retweets and 40 likes. At first, nobody expressed strong feelings about it. But then, a clutch of corporate journalists and writers decided to scandalise what we had sent, generating a kind of 'mainstream' feeding frenzy. Emma Kennedy, actress, author of ten books, tweeted graciously:

'This is total bollocks. If you want to be a writer know this: you have a value and you ALWAYS deserve to be paid. Go fuck yourself Media Lens.'

Stephen Buranyi, who writes longreads for the Guardian, mimed:

'**does the jackoff motion so hard I glide across the floor like an unbalanced washing machine**'

Patrick Sawer, senior reporter at The Telegraph:

'Tell that to anyone trying to stage a play, paint a canvas, put together a film, get a book published. What arrant nonsense to pretend, for the sake of "purity" that the market economy doesn't exist.'

Kate Hind, Mail on Sunday Showbiz Editor, chipped in:

'I think this lot are in on the wind up'

Pressgirl wrote:

'I've worked as a journo for more than 30 years and only those with wealthy partners can afford to potter about doing what they fancy. Most have to do the grunt work of covering courts, sports, disasters and getting their hands dirty.'

Everyone seemed to find their own meaning, and outrage, in the tweet. Editor Wendy Rosenfield:

'This is literally the worst advice for writers. Write for yourself, on your own blog, or to promote your own work for free. Charge everyone else. It's work. It has value and deserves compensation.'

Ian Craig, a politics reporter:

'Abhorrent. I hope you apologise for this.'

Helen Black, a novelist, foresaw dark consequences:

'Have you got any idea how unattainable a career in the media/arts feels to millions of working class people? A tweet like this only serves to feed class division.'

Before long, the outrage went global. From New York:

'This is awful advice. Truly, truly awful.'

From Spain:

'Snobismo moralista de pacotilla...'

We got the gist from the first two words.

Even Owen Jones of the Guardian, normally a stickler for ignoring us, replied:

'The corporate media needs to be relentlessly critiqued. And that includes its dependence on unpaid/underpaid labour which is a) exploitative and b) turns journalism into a closed shop for the privileged. Which you helped justify.'

He added:

'And yes, sure, there'll be those using your stupid statement opportunistically because you more generally critique corporate media practices. That doesn't mean you're vindicated in giving pseudo radical cover to unpaid media labour.'

We replied:

'It's not possible for us to have "helped justify" corporate media exploitation and privilege when the first line of our tweet read: "Forget it. Don't write for the "mainstream".'

Jones has previously revealed that he is 'barred' from criticising his colleagues. With this in mind, we added:

'There's also a problem with corporate media requiring that young journalists refrain from criticising their colleagues, their company, their advertisers, their owners, "the industry". But that's not something you're willing or able to talk about, is it?'

Jones resumed his policy of ignoring us.

The New Statesman published an entire article on our tweet, titled:

'Telling journalists to "follow your bliss" by writing for free is as anti-socialist as you can get'

Abuse poured in liberally:

'You sound like a privileged twat here. Just saying.'

'Fucking new age wanky twaddle. Fuck off'

'Go stuff your bliss up your arse'

'Fuck you. Pay people.'

'You sound retarded.'

And so on, with the above representing only a small sample...

'Follow Your Bliss' - The Tweet That Brought Corporate Journalism To The Brink Of A Nervous Breakthrough

Media Lens - Mið, 07/03/2018 - 13:23

 

'I have tried trade, but I found that it would take ten years to get under way in that, and that then I should probably be on my way to the devil.'

(Thoreau, 'Walden')

 

 

Noam Chomsky once emailed us:

'Am really impressed with what you are doing, though it's like trying to move a ten-ton truck with a toothpick. They're not going to allow themselves to be exposed.' (Chomsky, email to Media Lens, September 14, 2005)

These were kind words from Chomsky. But in fact, 'they' - corporate journalists - often do an excellent job of exposing themselves.

Consider that, last week, one of us happened to notice this on Twitter:

'Under 27? Want to spend a year writing about politics for The Observer, @NewStatesman and @thetimes? Anthony Howard Award 2018 is now open: http://anthonyhowardaward.org.uk . It gave @LOS_Fisher @ashcowburn @patrickkmaguire @Dulcie_Lee and me our starts in Westminster. Apply!'

We responded:

'Forget it. Don't write for the "mainstream". Don't write for money. Don't write for prestige. Just "follow your bliss" by writing what you absolutely love to write to inspire and enlighten other people. Write what seems interesting, important and true, and give it away for free.'

The tweet quickly picked up 15 retweets and 40 likes. At first, nobody expressed strong feelings about it. But then, a clutch of corporate journalists and writers decided to scandalise what we had sent, generating a kind of 'mainstream' feeding frenzy. Emma Kennedy, actress, author of ten books, tweeted graciously:

'This is total bollocks. If you want to be a writer know this: you have a value and you ALWAYS deserve to be paid. Go fuck yourself Media Lens.'

Stephen Buranyi, who writes longreads for the Guardian, mimed:

'**does the jackoff motion so hard I glide across the floor like an unbalanced washing machine**'

Patrick Sawer, senior reporter at The Telegraph:

'Tell that to anyone trying to stage a play, paint a canvas, put together a film, get a book published. What arrant nonsense to pretend, for the sake of "purity" that the market economy doesn't exist.'

Kate Hind, Mail on Sunday Showbiz Editor, chipped in:

'I think this lot are in on the wind up'

Pressgirl wrote:

'I've worked as a journo for more than 30 years and only those with wealthy partners can afford to potter about doing what they fancy. Most have to do the grunt work of covering courts, sports, disasters and getting their hands dirty.'

Everyone seemed to find their own meaning, and outrage, in the tweet. Editor Wendy Rosenfield:

'This is literally the worst advice for writers. Write for yourself, on your own blog, or to promote your own work for free. Charge everyone else. It's work. It has value and deserves compensation.'

Ian Craig, a politics reporter:

'Abhorrent. I hope you apologise for this.'

Helen Black, a novelist, foresaw dark consequences:

'Have you got any idea how unattainable a career in the media/arts feels to millions of working class people? A tweet like this only serves to feed class division.'

Before long, the outrage went global. From New York:

'This is awful advice. Truly, truly awful.'

From Spain:

'Snobismo moralista de pacotilla...'

We got the gist from the first two words.

Even Owen Jones of the Guardian, normally a stickler for ignoring us, replied:

'The corporate media needs to be relentlessly critiqued. And that includes its dependence on unpaid/underpaid labour which is a) exploitative and b) turns journalism into a closed shop for the privileged. Which you helped justify.'

He added:

'And yes, sure, there'll be those using your stupid statement opportunistically because you more generally critique corporate media practices. That doesn't mean you're vindicated in giving pseudo radical cover to unpaid media labour.'

We replied:

'It's not possible for us to have "helped justify" corporate media exploitation and privilege when the first line of our tweet read: "Forget it. Don't write for the "mainstream".'

Jones has previously revealed that he is 'barred' from criticising his colleagues. With this in mind, we added:

'There's also a problem with corporate media requiring that young journalists refrain from criticising their colleagues, their company, their advertisers, their owners, "the industry". But that's not something you're willing or able to talk about, is it?'

Jones resumed his policy of ignoring us.

The New Statesman published an entire article on our tweet, titled:

'Telling journalists to "follow your bliss" by writing for free is as anti-socialist as you can get'

Abuse poured in liberally:

'You sound like a privileged twat here. Just saying.'

'Fucking new age wanky twaddle. Fuck off'

'Go stuff your bliss up your arse'

'Fuck you. Pay people.'

'You sound retarded.'

And so on, with the above representing only a small sample...

‘A Load Of Tosh’ – The BBC, ‘Showbiz News’ And State Propaganda

Media Lens - Fim, 08/02/2018 - 07:51

On January 22, BBC News at Ten carried a piece by 'defence' correspondent Jonathan Beale reporting a speech by General Sir Nick Carter, the British Army's Chief of General Staff. Carter gave his speech, pleading for more resources in the face of the Russian 'threat', at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), an establishment thinktank with close links to the military and corporate media.

Beale began his BBC News piece with a prologue of raw propaganda, delivered in an urgent and impassioned tone:

'Russia's building an increasingly modern and aggressive military. Already tested in battle in Syria, using weapons Britain would struggle to match – like long-range missiles. In Ukraine, they've been using unconventional warfare, electronic cyber and misinformation. And they're even on manoeuvres on Europe's doorstep, with large-scale exercises near Nato's borders. Enough to worry the head of the British army who tonight gave this rare public warning.'

The essence of Carter's 'rare public warning' was that:

'Russia was building an increasingly aggressive expeditionary force and the potential military threats to the UK "are now on Europe's doorstep"... the Kremlin already boasted an "eye-watering quantity of capability" - a level the UK would struggle to match... Britain "must take notice of what is going on around us" or... the ability by the UK to take action will be "massively constrained".'

Carter continued:

'Rather like a chronic contagious disease, it will creep up on us, and our ability to act will be markedly constrained - and we'll be the losers of this competition.'

The army chief's warning had been approved by the Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson.

On News at Ten, Beale's reporting of the speech amplified the army chief's message – in other words, the Defence Secretary's stance - by deploying such key phrases as:

'Increasingly aggressive', 'tested in battle', 'Britain would struggle to match', 'manoeuvres on Europe's doorstep', 'near Nato's borders'.

There was, of course, no mention of US/Nato encroachment towards Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union (contravening assurances given to Gorbachev), or the US bases and military exercises close to Russia's borders as well as globally, or the long history of US threats and major crimes around the world. Nor was there any reference to Ukraine which has routinely been reported as an example of Russian 'aggression'. John Pilger observes that the BBC along with others, including CNN, the New York Times and the Guardian:

'played a critical role in conditioning their viewers to accept a new and dangerous cold war.

'All have misrepresented events in Ukraine as a malign act by Russia when, in fact, the coup in Ukraine in 2014 was the work of the United States, aided by Germany and Nato.'

Beale's credulous reporting of the army chief's speech was an exemplar of 'public broadcast' media whipping up fear to promote state interests.

Later, standing outside the Ministry of Defence, Beale said:

'This intervention by the head of the army is as much an appeal for more money for defence as it is a warning about the threat posed by Russia.'

And yet Beale had earlier dramatically highlighted the 'worrying' facts, asserting they were 'enough to worry the head of the British army' - in other words, that the army chief really was worried; not dissembling. Beale's subsequent comment was a token, blink-and-you'll-miss-it acknowledgement of the reality: that Carter's speech was aimed at propping up UK military power.

Note that Beale's 'neutral' reporting was not about an 'alleged threat posed by Russia'; simply the 'threat posed by Russia'. This subtly insidious use of language occurs daily on 'impartial' BBC News.

And, as ever, such a report would be incomplete without an establishment talking head from a 'defence and security' think tank. Professor Michael Clarke, a senior RUSI fellow, was on hand to perform the required role. This was BBC News in standard establishment/state/military/corporate mode.

Beale was duly confronted by several people on Twitter about his promotion of UK state and military propaganda on the Russian 'threat'. One Twitter user put to the BBC journalist:

'The only thing the MSM [mainstream media] is good for is fake news, falsification and manipulation of truth & propaganda. Ask yourself for whose benefit?'

This is a reasonable starting point for a debate about the major news media. Beale did not distinguish himself with the quality of his response:

'What a load of tosh.'

In contrast, Beale's 'opinion-free' response to the army chief's propaganda speech was:

'Coherent, detailed and impressive speech by @ArmyCGS @RUSI_org tonight making the case for investment in #defence. CDS [Chief of Defence Staff] in waiting?'

Imagine if the BBC man's observations had been reversed. It is, of course, completely unthinkable that a BBC reporter would respond to a major military or political speech with:

'What a load of tosh.'

It would be equally unthinkable for a BBC journalist to respond to a speech by, for example, Noam Chomsky with:

'Coherent, detailed and impressive speech tonight exposing Western war propaganda.'

And likewise, a dissident expert would never be invited to respond scornfully, or even sceptically, to a speech by the likes of Sir Nick Carter on the BBC's News At Ten.

Further examples are pumped out daily by this 'globally respected' broadcaster. On January 8, Fiona Bruce introduced an item about Syria on BBC News at Ten with the phrase: 'Syrian government forces, backed by Russia'. Why does BBC News not regularly use the phrase, 'Saudi government forces, backed by the United States and the UK' when reporting on bombs dropped on Yemen? The answer should be obvious.

On January 29, Huw Edwards announced on BBC News at Ten:

'We talk exclusively to the head of the CIA about the threat from Russia.'

Note the duplicitous wording once again. Not 'alleged' threat or 'claimed' threat, far less 'hyped-up' threat. BBC correspondent Gordon Corera's 'interview' of the CIA's Mike Pompeo was a travesty of journalism, with no meaningful challenge or context. That the US is regularly regarded by global public opinion as a major threat around the world was totally off the agenda. You will wait in vain for an exclusive interview on BBC News at Ten with a senior figure about the 'threat from the United States'.

Ironically, just the previous day, Piers Morgan had conducted a sycophantic ITV 'interview' with Donald Trump. The object of the exercise was clearly to garner high viewer ratings, and thus boost advertising revenue; not to challenge the US president in any meaningful way.

Afterwards, the BBC's John Simpson, the epitome of 'serious' BBC News journalism, mocked Morgan:

'The art of the political interview, Piers, is to push your interviewee hard - not let them spout self-evident tosh. That's just showbiz.'

But when it comes to a showbiz-style BBC News interview with the head of the CIA? A convenient silence.

When one of our readers, Steve Ennever, uploaded the BBC's CIA interview to YouTube, complete with Huw Edwards' introduction, it was swiftly removed – within an hour or so - under pretence of a 'copyright claim'. What is the publicly-funded BBC so afraid of? The clip of the interview does appear on the BBC News YouTube channel. But why should they have a monopoly on it? Are they actually fearful of public-interest media activism that focuses on BBC News clips?

It is notable that all the brave BBC News voices go quiet at times like this. As far as we could tell, there was not a single dissenting voice about the BBC 'exclusive' interview plugging CIA propaganda. The conformity is remarkable and yet systemic.

The uncomfortable truth for the BBC is that the gap between showbiz and BBC 'news' is narrow. In fact, there is a significant overlap. Worse than that, BBC News is all too often a conduit for propaganda that promotes wars, corporate interests, 'patriotism', military pageantry, excessive consumerism and calamitous inaction on climate.

As we have previously noted, a persistent feature of BBC News reporting on Yemen, for instance, is that the UK's complicity in Saudi war crimes and Yemen's humanitarian disaster is buried. To take another example, this BBC News headline is permissible:

'Taliban threaten 70% of Afghanistan, BBC finds'

But these are not:

'US threatens 100% of Afghanistan, BBC finds'
'US threatens 100% of Iraq, BBC finds'
'Global opinion regards US a major world threat, BBC finds'

And when the BBC takes a rare look at propaganda, it only does so in order to examine the propaganda of Official Enemies. Thus, BBC News will robustly critique Russian propaganda in a way it never does with the West's.

In summary, it does not take extensive observation to discern the general pattern of BBC News 'journalism' on matters of great significance:

1. Western military or political leader says something.
2. BBC News provides headline coverage.
3. Policy 'expert' from a right-wing or 'centrist' think tank is quoted in support.
4. BBC correspondent provides supportive 'analysis'.
5. Token sceptical voice is briefly quoted.*
6. Extensive follow-up; talking points on BBC programmes such as Newsnight, Daily Politics, etc.

*Optional

When Eleanor Bradford, a former BBC Scotland health correspondent, rightly drew attention to the corporation failing women over the issue of pay equality, British historian Mark Curtis added an important corollary:

'It's true. Why should women be paid less than men for conveying state propaganda under the guise of news? It's only fair they should receive same salaries as all male govt employees.'

Curtis has published several books revealing the UK's real role in world affairs, based on diligent research of previously secret government records. He is currently releasing declassified documents that reveal the reality of post-WW2 British policy towards numerous countries, as opposed to the propaganda version of events that has filled books, newspapers, magazines, television and radio programmes, and even infected academia.

Curtis explains the rationale for his project:

'The British public has little idea what has been done, and is being done, in their names.

'I want everyone to be able to see at least some of the documents that I have seen because they tell a much truer story of this country's real role in the world than they will hear on the BBC or read in The Telegraph.'

Curtis is addressing some of the most 'ignored episodes' in British foreign policy - such as the UK's support for the Idi Amin coup in Uganda in 1971, and for the welcoming of the Pinochet military takeover in Chile, the covert operation to overthrow Sukarno in Indonesia in the late 1950s, and the covert UK war in Yemen in the 1960s.

Curtis notes that now-released internal files reveal that:

'there is no interest in the human rights of the people that live in regions like the Middle East, Africa or Asia - British policy is all about geopolitics, promoting commercial interests and upholding Britain's power status.'

Moreover, the files show that:

'the British public is largely viewed as a threat and they therefore shouldn't be allowed to know what is being done in their names...The danger is that the public might deflect elites from their policy course - this is unacceptable to Whitehall.'

Curtis rightly points to the need to challenge traditional sources of 'news' which keep the public ignorant of crucial facts and context. Non-mainstream sources should be encouraged and supported:

'Social and alternative media is very encouraging - this is where people should be getting more and more of their information, bypassing mainstream sources.'

Ironically, it was a 'renegade producer' from the BBC who encouraged newspaper journalist John Pilger to start making documentaries. Charles Denton taught Pilger that:

'facts and evidence told straight to the camera and to the audience could indeed be subversive.'

Pilger encourages young journalists today to 'make a difference' by breaking the silence surrounding the reality of Western foreign policies. He adds a warning:

'The moment they [young journalists] accept, say, the BBC view of the world, that there are only two sides to an argument, and both those sides are on what we call the establishment side, then it's over.'

DC & DE

‘A Load Of Tosh’ – The BBC, ‘Showbiz News’ And State Propaganda

Media Lens - Fim, 08/02/2018 - 07:51

On January 22, BBC News at Ten carried a piece by 'defence' correspondent Jonathan Beale reporting a speech by General Sir Nick Carter, the British Army's Chief of General Staff. Carter gave his speech, pleading for more resources in the face of the Russian 'threat', at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), an establishment thinktank with close links to the military and corporate media.

Beale began his BBC News piece with a prologue of raw propaganda, delivered in an urgent and impassioned tone:

'Russia's building an increasingly modern and aggressive military. Already tested in battle in Syria, using weapons Britain would struggle to match – like long-range missiles. In Ukraine, they've been using unconventional warfare, electronic cyber and misinformation. And they're even on manoeuvres on Europe's doorstep, with large-scale exercises near Nato's borders. Enough to worry the head of the British army who tonight gave this rare public warning.'

The essence of Carter's 'rare public warning' was that:

'Russia was building an increasingly aggressive expeditionary force and the potential military threats to the UK "are now on Europe's doorstep"... the Kremlin already boasted an "eye-watering quantity of capability" - a level the UK would struggle to match... Britain "must take notice of what is going on around us" or... the ability by the UK to take action will be "massively constrained".'

Carter continued:

'Rather like a chronic contagious disease, it will creep up on us, and our ability to act will be markedly constrained - and we'll be the losers of this competition.'

The army chief's warning had been approved by the Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson.

On News at Ten, Beale's reporting of the speech amplified the army chief's message – in other words, the Defence Secretary's stance - by deploying such key phrases as:

'Increasingly aggressive', 'tested in battle', 'Britain would struggle to match', 'manoeuvres on Europe's doorstep', 'near Nato's borders'.

There was, of course, no mention of US/Nato encroachment towards Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union (contravening assurances given to Gorbachev), or the US bases and military exercises close to Russia's borders as well as globally, or the long history of US threats and major crimes around the world. Nor was there any reference to Ukraine which has routinely been reported as an example of Russian 'aggression'. John Pilger observes that the BBC along with others, including CNN, the New York Times and the Guardian:

'played a critical role in conditioning their viewers to accept a new and dangerous cold war.

'All have misrepresented events in Ukraine as a malign act by Russia when, in fact, the coup in Ukraine in 2014 was the work of the United States, aided by Germany and Nato.'

Beale's credulous reporting of the army chief's speech was an exemplar of 'public broadcast' media whipping up fear to promote state interests.

Later, standing outside the Ministry of Defence, Beale said:

'This intervention by the head of the army is as much an appeal for more money for defence as it is a warning about the threat posed by Russia.'

And yet Beale had earlier dramatically highlighted the 'worrying' facts, asserting they were 'enough to worry the head of the British army' - in other words, that the army chief really was worried; not dissembling. Beale's subsequent comment was a token, blink-and-you'll-miss-it acknowledgement of the reality: that Carter's speech was aimed at propping up UK military power.

Note that Beale's 'neutral' reporting was not about an 'alleged threat posed by Russia'; simply the 'threat posed by Russia'. This subtly insidious use of language occurs daily on 'impartial' BBC News.

And, as ever, such a report would be incomplete without an establishment talking head from a 'defence and security' think tank. Professor Michael Clarke, a senior RUSI fellow, was on hand to perform the required role. This was BBC News in standard establishment/state/military/corporate mode.

Beale was duly confronted by several people on Twitter about his promotion of UK state and military propaganda on the Russian 'threat'. One Twitter user put to the BBC journalist:

'The only thing the MSM [mainstream media] is good for is fake news, falsification and manipulation of truth & propaganda. Ask yourself for whose benefit?'

This is a reasonable starting point for a debate about the major news media. Beale did not distinguish himself with the quality of his response:

'What a load of tosh.'

In contrast, Beale's 'opinion-free' response to the army chief's propaganda speech was:

'Coherent, detailed and impressive speech by @ArmyCGS @RUSI_org tonight making the case for investment in #defence. CDS [Chief of Defence Staff] in waiting?'

Imagine if the BBC man's observations had been reversed. It is, of course, completely unthinkable that a BBC reporter would respond to a major military or political speech with:

'What a load of tosh.'

It would be equally unthinkable for a BBC journalist to respond to a speech by, for example, Noam Chomsky with:

'Coherent, detailed and impressive speech tonight exposing Western war propaganda.'

And likewise, a dissident expert would never be invited to respond scornfully, or even sceptically, to a speech by the likes of Sir Nick Carter on the BBC's News At Ten.

Further examples are pumped out daily by this 'globally respected' broadcaster. On January 8, Fiona Bruce introduced an item about Syria on BBC News at Ten with the phrase: 'Syrian government forces, backed by Russia'. Why does BBC News not regularly use the phrase, 'Saudi government forces, backed by the United States and the UK' when reporting on bombs dropped on Yemen? The answer should be obvious.

On January 29, Huw Edwards announced on BBC News at Ten:

'We talk exclusively to the head of the CIA about the threat from Russia.'

Note the duplicitous wording once again. Not 'alleged' threat or 'claimed' threat, far less 'hyped-up' threat. BBC correspondent Gordon Corera's 'interview' of the CIA's Mike Pompeo was a travesty of journalism, with no meaningful challenge or context. That the US is regularly regarded by global public opinion as a major threat around the world was totally off the agenda. You will wait in vain for an exclusive interview on BBC News at Ten with a senior figure about the 'threat from the United States'.

Ironically, just the previous day, Piers Morgan had conducted a sycophantic ITV 'interview' with Donald Trump. The object of the exercise was clearly to garner high viewer ratings, and thus boost advertising revenue; not to challenge the US president in any meaningful way.

Afterwards, the BBC's John Simpson, the epitome of 'serious' BBC News journalism, mocked Morgan:

'The art of the political interview, Piers, is to push your interviewee hard - not let them spout self-evident tosh. That's just showbiz.'

But when it comes to a showbiz-style BBC News interview with the head of the CIA? A convenient silence.

When one of our readers, Steve Ennever, uploaded the BBC's CIA interview to YouTube, complete with Huw Edwards' introduction, it was swiftly removed – within an hour or so - under pretence of a 'copyright claim'. What is the publicly-funded BBC so afraid of? The clip of the interview does appear on the BBC News YouTube channel. But why should they have a monopoly on it? Are they actually fearful of public-interest media activism that focuses on BBC News clips?

It is notable that all the brave BBC News voices go quiet at times like this. As far as we could tell, there was not a single dissenting voice about the BBC 'exclusive' interview plugging CIA propaganda. The conformity is remarkable and yet systemic.

The uncomfortable truth for the BBC is that the gap between showbiz and BBC 'news' is narrow. In fact, there is a significant overlap. Worse than that, BBC News is all too often a conduit for propaganda that promotes wars, corporate interests, 'patriotism', military pageantry, excessive consumerism and calamitous inaction on climate.

As we have previously noted, a persistent feature of BBC News reporting on Yemen, for instance, is that the UK's complicity in Saudi war crimes and Yemen's humanitarian disaster is buried. To take another example, this BBC News headline is permissible:

'Taliban threaten 70% of Afghanistan, BBC finds'

But these are not:

'US threatens 100% of Afghanistan, BBC finds'
'US threatens 100% of Iraq, BBC finds'
'Global opinion regards US a major world threat, BBC finds'

And when the BBC takes a rare look at propaganda, it only does so in order to examine the propaganda of Official Enemies. Thus, BBC News will robustly critique Russian propaganda in a way it never does with the West's.

In summary, it does not take extensive observation to discern the general pattern of BBC News 'journalism' on matters of great significance:

1. Western military or political leader says something.
2. BBC News provides headline coverage.
3. Policy 'expert' from a right-wing or 'centrist' think tank is quoted in support.
4. BBC correspondent provides supportive 'analysis'.
5. Token sceptical voice is briefly quoted.*
6. Extensive follow-up; talking points on BBC programmes such as Newsnight, Daily Politics, etc.

*Optional

When Eleanor Bradford, a former BBC Scotland health correspondent, rightly drew attention to the corporation failing women over the issue of pay equality, British historian Mark Curtis added an important corollary:

'It's true. Why should women be paid less than men for conveying state propaganda under the guise of news? It's only fair they should receive same salaries as all male govt employees.'

Curtis has published several books revealing the UK's real role in world affairs, based on diligent research of previously secret government records. He is currently releasing declassified documents that reveal the reality of post-WW2 British policy towards numerous countries, as opposed to the propaganda version of events that has filled books, newspapers, magazines, television and radio programmes, and even infected academia.

Curtis explains the rationale for his project:

'The British public has little idea what has been done, and is being done, in their names.

'I want everyone to be able to see at least some of the documents that I have seen because they tell a much truer story of this country's real role in the world than they will hear on the BBC or read in The Telegraph.'

Curtis is addressing some of the most 'ignored episodes' in British foreign policy - such as the UK's support for the Idi Amin coup in Uganda in 1971, and for the welcoming of the Pinochet military takeover in Chile, the covert operation to overthrow Sukarno in Indonesia in the late 1950s, and the covert UK war in Yemen in the 1960s.

Curtis notes that now-released internal files reveal that:

'there is no interest in the human rights of the people that live in regions like the Middle East, Africa or Asia - British policy is all about geopolitics, promoting commercial interests and upholding Britain's power status.'

Moreover, the files show that:

'the British public is largely viewed as a threat and they therefore shouldn't be allowed to know what is being done in their names...The danger is that the public might deflect elites from their policy course - this is unacceptable to Whitehall.'

Curtis rightly points to the need to challenge traditional sources of 'news' which keep the public ignorant of crucial facts and context. Non-mainstream sources should be encouraged and supported:

'Social and alternative media is very encouraging - this is where people should be getting more and more of their information, bypassing mainstream sources.'

Ironically, it was a 'renegade producer' from the BBC who encouraged newspaper journalist John Pilger to start making documentaries. Charles Denton taught Pilger that:

'facts and evidence told straight to the camera and to the audience could indeed be subversive.'

Pilger encourages young journalists today to 'make a difference' by breaking the silence surrounding the reality of Western foreign policies. He adds a warning:

'The moment they [young journalists] accept, say, the BBC view of the world, that there are only two sides to an argument, and both those sides are on what we call the establishment side, then it's over.'

DC & DE

Að skila auðu

Gunnar Skúli bloggar - Lau, 21/10/2017 - 00:00
Almenningur vill vita sem mest. Almenningur vill til dæmis vita allt um fjármál Bjarna Ben eins og Stundin hefur verið að upplýsa okkur um. Þegar yfirstéttin lokar svo á það upplýsingaflæði nennir almenningur ekki að standa upp úr sófanum til að mótmæla og skiptir bara um rás. Nei almenningur hefur alls ekki fundið vitjunartíma sinn enn í pólitísku tilliti. Áratuga áróður um að það sé púkó að mótmæla og krefjast réttar síns hefur haft áhrif. Hugtakið stétt er framandi almenningi í dag. Sennilega gerist lítið í huga almennings þegar talað er um yfirstéttina því almenningur gerir sér ekki fyllilega grein fyrir því að hann er lágstétt. Margir samsama sig með hástéttinni án þess að fatta það að þeim hefur aldrei verið boðið inn í Versalahöll. Enginn núverandi þingflokka hafa gengið erinda lágstéttarinnar af hörku og ósérhlífni. Líkurnar eru litlar að það breytist í bráð. Þeir þingflokkar sem segjast vilja gera það hafa alltaf tekið meira tillit til yfirstéttarinnar, annars væri hlutskipti almennings annað. Ef allir 63 þingmenn á Íslandi gengju erinda almennings þá væri engin fátækt, ekki húsnæðisskortur, enginn skortur í heibrigðiskerfinu, félagskerfinu, skólakerfinu og svo framvegis. Á meðan við sitjum föst í sófanum mun fátækt vera til áfram á Íslandi, einu ríkasta landi veraldar. Komandi kosningar munu bara staðfesta það. Þar með hefur almenningur skilað auðu.

 

Að verða afi

Gunnar Skúli bloggar - Fös, 13/10/2017 - 22:47

Þá er ég orðinn afi. Upplifunin er stórkostleg og hamingjuóskunum rignir yfir mann. Á facebook hverfur allur pólitískur eða annar ágrenningur og allir óska manni til hamingju. Sakleysi nýfædds barns ræður umræðunni. Það vitnar um að við erum öll í raun vinir þegar við speglum okkur í því sakleysi sem hið nýfædda barn býr yfir. Flestir menn eru góðir og vilja bara lifa í sátt við aðra menn.

Að verða afi veldur að sjálfsögðu líka heilbrotum. Hvað hef ég gert til að skapa barnabarninu mínu góða framtíð. Ég er ekki hluti af Engeyjarættinni og hef ekki tök á því að troða gullskeið upp í munninn á barnabarninu mínu. Bóka góða einkaskóla, lóð í Garðabænum og þægilega stöðu innann íslenskrar stjórnsýslu, eftir laganám að sjálfsögðu.

Nei ég er bara venjulegur millistéttagaur og trúi ekki á brauðmolakenninguna, á ættingja sem trúðu henni og kusu alltaf Sjálfstæðisflokkinn og hafa aldrei grætt neitt á því. Nei ég hef viljað fara aðra leið en að selja sálu mína elítu Íslands. Ég vil réttlæti. Að allir fái viðeigandi forgjöf þannig að allir standi jafnfætis á startlínunni.

Ég get ekki sagt að ég hafi haft árangur sem erfiði. Enn er Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn ráðandi í íslenskum stjórnmálum og Vinstri grænir orðinn stærsti flokkurinn sem aldrei hefur sett fótinn í veg fyrir auðvaldið. Þeir stjórnmálaflokkar sem sett sig hafa upp á móti auðvaldinu á Íslandi hafa aldrei náð langt.

Mitt pólitíska brölt hefur ekki skilað nýfæddu barnabarni mínu neinu auknu réttlæti, enn ræður ættarsamfélagið á Íslandi. Hingað til hefur eina lausn þingflokkanna verið að arðræna alþýðinu og koma sínu fólki að eða forða því frá umtali fjölmiðla. Hugtakið réttlæti hefur ekkert vægi í íslenskri pólitík. Það virðist ekki leita á íslenska kjósendur heldur.

Til allra hamingju býr barnabarnið mitt í Svíþjóð. Þar hefur orðið ”rettvisa” mjög mikið vægi, þegar það er sagt þarf ekki að rökstyðja það eða útskýra. Það hefur mikla eigin þyngd í umræðunni. Þar skilur á milli Íslendinga og Svía. Svíar hafa aldrei trúað á brauðmolakenninguna en þeir hafa krafist réttlætis í skjóli hugtaksins ”rettvisa”. Að krefjast ”rettvisa” í Svíþjóð setur jafnvel sænsku auðvaldsættirnar í varnarstöðu.

Ef íslenskir kjósendur gætu bara tengt orðið réttlæti við orðið forgjöf í golfi þá væri mikið unnið.

 

Raddir fólksins

Gunnar Skúli bloggar - Þri, 26/09/2017 - 21:15

Hörður Torfa er kominn af stað aftur og er það vel. Hann hélt fyrsta fundinn núna á laugardaginn á Austurvelli. Hittingurinn var á við besta ættarmót, flestir þekktust frá fyrri tíð. Margir búnir að mæta frá haustdögum 2008 og enn að reyna að koma á réttlæti. Baráttan heldur áfram.

Einn draumur sem fæddist í Búsáhaldarbyltingunni var að stofna þverpólitískan flokk sem færi inná þing og breytti því nauðsynlegasta. Tveir slíkir flokkar hafa verið stofnaðir eftir hrun, Borgarahreyfingin og Dögun. Þrátt fyrir áralanga baráttu endurhljómuðu kröfur Búsáhaldarbyltingarinnar á laugardaginn úr munni Harðar. Það bendir til þess að árangurinn sé ekki mikill. Við í Dögun höfum þó reynt að bera þennann kyndil Búsáhaldabyltingarinnar sem endurspeglast í þeim kröfum sem Hörður taldi upp. Vinstri-græn, Samfó, Sjálfstæðisfl og Framsókn hafa öll stjórnað frá hruni en enn erum við langt frá markmiðunum. Hvað er það sem við viljum? Sjá xdogun.is/kjarnastefna/

Afnema völd bankakerfisins yfir lífi okkar.

Afnema fátækt.

Allir hafi þak yfir höfuðið á sanngjörnu verði.

Nýja Stjórnarskrá.

Þjóðin fái arðinn af auðlindunum sínum.

Stokka upp kvótakerfið.

Afnema spillingu.

Þetta er ekki flókið og sjálfsagt eru flestir Íslendingar sammála þessu en þrátt fyrir það erum við nánast í sömu sporum og þegar Búsáhaldarbyltingin hófst. Það er því augljóst að ”flestir Íslendingar” hafa ekki setið við völdin síðan þá. Þeir sem stjórnað hafa landinu er minnihluti Íslendinga og hafa mikla hagsmuni svo að kröfur Búsáhaldarbyltingarinnar nái ekki fram. Aftur á móti þegar ”flestir Íslendingar” hafa áttað sig á þessu og að þeir hafa verið hlunnfarnir af minnihlutanum þá verður kannski raunveruleg breyting. Góð byrjun væri að hætta að kjósa stjórnmálaflokka þessara ”fáu Íslendinga” sem hafa ráðið hér för í áratugi.

 

Ný Stjórnarskrá eða hvað

Gunnar Skúli bloggar - Fös, 22/09/2017 - 23:06

Bjarni Ben hefur sett stjórnarskrámálið á dagskrá í upphafi kosningabaráttunar. Hann leggur til 12 ára áætlun. Flestir telja að það sé pólitískur leikur. Hann gefur í skyn áhuga á breytingum en ætlar í raun að drepa málið í nefnd eins og hingað til. Helsti drifkraftur hans eru hagsmunir kvótagreifanna sem vilja festa sjávarauðlindina sem sína eign en ekki þjóðarinnar.

Þá gerist það að sumir stjórnarandsöðuflokkarnir taka undir með Bjarna og meðal annars Katrín Jakobsdóttir formaður VG. Þess vegna hefur verið rifjuð upp snautleg framganga þingsins á lokametrum stjórnarskrarinnar 2013. Þá gerðist það sem allir raunsæir einstaklingar höfðu reiknað með. Auðvaldið sagði hingað og ekki lengra og þingið hlýddi. Að þjóðin hefði möguleika á meiri afskiptum var bannað, nógu erfitt var að hafa stjórn á þessum 63 þingmönnum.

Aðalgagnsemi stjórnarsrársmálsins hingað til var að skilja hafrana frá sauðunum.

Síðan keppast talsmenn þeirra flokka sem taka undir tillögu Bjarna að tala niður stjórnarskrárbreytingar. Þeim finnst sennilega að þingræðið sé enn í fullu gildi. Ef þeirra flokkur nær góðri stöðu muni kjör þeirra verst settu batna. Við sem aðhyllumst nýja stjórnarskrá erum þreytt á kosningasvikum en þar er algengasta afsökunin ”samsteypustjórn”. Við teljum að þingræðinu sé lífsnauðsynlegt að fá beint lýðræði annars verða þingkosningar með 12 mánaða millibili.

Við almenningur bjóðumst til að taka af ykkur þingmönnum þennann kross við að innleiða það sem meirihluti þjóðarinnar vill hvort eð er og þið hafið lofað að gera marg oft en svikið jafn oft. Afnema fátækt, afnema verðtryggingu, afnema kvótakerfið, afnema lífeyrissjóðaruglið, afnema ægivald húseigenda/verktaka á leigumarkaðnum, afnema ægivald bankakerfisins á líi fólks og afnema óréttlát kosningalög. Í stuttu máli þá ætlum við að krefjast réttlætis og að auðnum og réttindum verði smurt jafnt yfir kökuna. Það ætlum við að gera með bindandi þjóðaratkvæðagreiðslum. Að kjósa síendurtekið sömu kosningaloforðin sem eru svo svikin segir okkur að sú leið er ófær. Þess vegna er öll töf á stjórnarskrá af hinu illa fyrir hagsmuni hins almenna borgara.

Sérhagsmunaöflin í þjóðfélagi okkar skilja þetta mæta vel og munu koma í veg fyrir nýja stjórnarskrá með öllum ráðum. Þess vegna er það svo mikilvægt að stjórnmálamenn kljúfi sig frá sérhagsmunaöflunum og lýsi því yfir endurtekið að ný stjórnarskrá með auknum völdum almenning sé forgangsmál. Auk þess eiga Alþingismenn að sjá sóma sinn í því að skipta sér sem minnst af nýrri stjórnarskrá nema til þess að stuðla að framgangi málsins. Eiga lyfjaframleiðendur að semja lyfjalög?

 

G20 og Yanis Varoufakis

Gunnar Skúli bloggar - Lau, 08/07/2017 - 22:15
Núna er G20 fundurinn í Hamborg þar sem þjónar fjármálavaldsins koma saman og koma því í verk sem fjármálavaldið vill. Kjörnir þjóðhöfðingjar eru þrælar fjármálavaldsins. Það ætti að vera augljóst öllum að bankakerfið hefur notið sérkjara en allir aðrir hafa þurft að taka á sig miklar skerðingar á lífskjörum í kjölfar bankakreppunnar 2008. Yanis Varoufakis var fjármálaráðherra í Grikklandi 2015 og hefur gefið út endurminningar sínar frá þessum tíma, Adults in the Room: My Battle with Europe’s Deep Establishment. Hann lýsir því mjög vel í þessari bók hversu stjórnmálamenn eru valdalausir. Alþjóðagjaldeyrissjóðurinn og Seðlabanki Evrópu hafa síðasta orðið á fundum fjármálaráðherra Evrópusambandsins. Gríska þjóðin hafnaði skilyrðum fjármálavaldsins í þjóðaratkvæðagreiðslu sem Evrópusambandið fyrir hönd þess var að þvinga upp á grísku þjóðina. Ekki einu sinni þjóðaratkvæðagreiðsla var virt. Seðlabanki Evrópusambandsins kom til skjalanna og hætti að skaffa Grikkjum seðla og mynt sem er þó lagaleg skylda bankans. Án peninga stöðvast samfélagið. Yanis var tilbúinn með nýtt peningakerfi byggt á skattkortum því hann vissi vel að Seðlabanki Evrópsambandsins myndi gera þetta. Lausn Varoufakisar var aldrei notuð vegna þess að vinstri stjórnin sveik Varoufakis og kjósendur sína. Ef kerfi Yanisar hefði farið í gang og virkað þá hefðu vopnin verið slegin úr höndum fjármálavaldsins og Grikkir hefðu getað gefið fjármálavaldinu langt nef. Fjármálavaldið/bankakerfið/seðlabankakerfið framleiðir peningana okkar og stjórnar magni þeirra í umferð. Sá sem gerir það er með valdið. Þess vegna eru stjórnmálamenn og kjörnir þjóðarleiðtogar valdalausir þar sem þeir eltast við að þjóna fjármálakerfinu í stað þess að þjóna fólkinu sem kaus þá. Þegar bankarnir minnka magn peninga verður kreppa. Þegar þeir auka magn þeirra verður bóla og þegar þeir skrúfar fyrir þá eins og í dæmi Grikkja hrynur samfélagið. Pólitíkin í dag hversu falleg sem hún kann að vera getur ekki breytt ákvörðunum fjármálakerfisins. Pólitíkin í dag verður að snúast um að endurheimta valdið yfir framleiðslu peninga til að hún virki fyrir fólkið. Öllu þessu lýsir Yanis mjög vel í bók sinni og óskar eftir því að fullorðið fólk komi inní herbergið, þ.e. að við föttum þetta. Að öðrum kosti verðum við bara áhorfendur þegar allt draslið fer til helvítis eins og hann segir í lok bókar sinnar. Mæli eindregið með bókinni hans Varoufakisar svo menn skilji betur stóru myndina og hvernig fjölmiðlarnir eru misnotaðir.

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