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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.

 

Noam Chomsky And The BBC: A Brief Comparison

Media Lens - Þri, 10/10/2017 - 10:21

A recent interview with 88-year-old Noam Chomsky once again demonstrates just how insightful he is in providing rational analysis of Western power and the suffering it generates. By contrast, anyone relying on BBC News receives a power-friendly view of the world, systematically distorted in a way that allows the state and private interests to pursue business as usual.

In what follows, we present examples of Chomsky's clarity on several important topics and contrast them with the distortions and silences from BBC News. These examples are not intended to be fully comprehensive, with lots of detailed background. But they are highly illustrative of the propaganda nature of what the BBC broadcasts every day.

First, consider North Korea which has carried out missile tests that have 'demonstrated its growing power and expertise, stoking tensions with the US', as the BBC puts it. A helpful graphic shows much of the northern hemisphere within range of these missiles. In particular, the west coast of the United States is portrayed as under real threat from the 'hermit' state's nuclear missiles: a scaremongering scenario that BBC News has promoted in line with the propaganda requirements of the White House, the Pentagon and the arms industry. Video clips on the BBC News website have titles such as 'N Korea announces nuclear test', 'S Korea drill response to N Korea missile', 'We're used to hearing about being bombed' and 'I don't know when I might be killed'.

In a forthcoming book of interviews with journalist David Barsamian, 'Global Discontents: Conversations on the Rising Threats to Democracy', Chomsky acknowledges that North Korea has a 'growing arsenal of nuclear weapons and missiles' which does indeed 'pose a threat to the region and, in the longer term, to countries beyond.' But then he provides vital context for this arsenal of weapons:

'its function is to be a deterrent, one that the North Korean regime is unlikely to abandon as long as it remains under threat of destruction.'

Yes, threat of destruction; something that is very real in the historical memory of the people:

'North Koreans remember well that their country was literally flattened by U.S. bombing, and many may recall how U.S. forces bombed major dams when there were no other targets left. There were gleeful reports in American military publications about the exciting spectacle of a huge flood of water wiping out the rice crops on which "the Asian" depends for survival.'

Today, as Chomsky notes, we are instructed that 'the great challenge faced by the world' is how to compel North Korea to freeze its nuclear and missile programmes. 'Perhaps we should resort to more sanctions, cyberwar, intimidation [...] perhaps even to direct attack on North Korea'.

He then continues:

'But there is another option, one that seems to be ignored: we could simply accept North Korea's offer to do what we are demanding. China and North Korea have already proposed that North Korea freeze its nuclear and missile programs. The proposal, though, was rejected at once by Washington, just as it had been two years earlier, because it includes a quid pro quo: it calls on the United States to halt its threatening military exercises on North Korea's borders, including simulated nuclear-bombing attacks by B-52s.'

Wait. What was that? There is another option? An article in The Diplomat, which describes itself as 'the premier international current-affairs magazine for the Asia-Pacific region', outlines the proposal; namely that:

'Pyongyang declare a moratorium on both nuclear and missile tests, in exchange for the United States and South Korea halting their large-scale joint military exercises.'

China has given this proposal the succinct name of 'dual suspensions'.

Chomsky explains further:

'The offer to freeze North Korea's nuclear and missile programs in return for an end to highly provocative actions on North Korea's border could be the basis for more far-reaching negotiations, which could radically reduce the nuclear threat and perhaps even bring the North Korea crisis to an end. Contrary to much inflamed commentary, there are good reasons to think such negotiations might succeed.'

He continues:

'Yet even though the North Korean programs are constantly described as perhaps the greatest threat we face, the Chinese-North Korean proposal is unacceptable to Washington, and is rejected by U.S. commentators with impressive unanimity. This is another entry in the shameful and depressing record of near-reflexive preference for force when peaceful options may well be available.'

So, there is a reasonable proposal from China and North Korea that could form the basis for negotiations leading to a peaceful resolution of the crisis – but it has been dismissed by Washington and US commentators. To what extent has it been covered by BBC News? Consider a report by Seoul-based BBC correspondent Stephen Evans when US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson threatened North Korea with military action. Like Obama, Trump has ruled out negotiation with North Korea. The 'situation remains the same', said Evans in the section of the BBC News report grandly titled 'Analysis':

'North Korea shows no hint of being willing to renounce nuclear weapons, whatever economic blows it receives and whatever China might think.'

If a BBC News reporter presents an 'analysis' that does not mention an important proposal that could bring about peace, and which the US has outright dismissed, what does that say about BBC bias?

This is not a one-off. Washington-based BBC correspondent Barbara Plett-Usher noted dutifully that Tillerson had urged an 'international response' to North Korea's nuclear and missile tests, without once mentioning the China-North Korea proposal.

Last month, BBC's China editor Carrie Gracie also offered her 'Analysis':

'China has insisted time and again that it will never accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons state, and it can't avoid the obvious and urgent question: how does China intend to stop it?'

There was nothing about the proposal that China has made, with North Korea, to address the stalemate. Likewise, earlier in the year, Gracie had said in another BBC News report:

'So in Beijing today, Mr Tillerson kept it diplomatic. There was no public repetition of President Trump's complaint that China is not doing enough to prevent North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes.'

The BBC News reporter was thus uncritically presenting Washington's 'complaint' about China without pointing out that its rational proposal had been summarily dismissed by the US. This is not journalism; it is power-friendly propaganda.

Noam Chomsky And The BBC: A Brief Comparison

Media Lens - Þri, 10/10/2017 - 10:21

A recent interview with 88-year-old Noam Chomsky once again demonstrates just how insightful he is in providing rational analysis of Western power and the suffering it generates. By contrast, anyone relying on BBC News receives a power-friendly view of the world, systematically distorted in a way that allows the state and private interests to pursue business as usual.

In what follows, we present examples of Chomsky's clarity on several important topics and contrast them with the distortions and silences from BBC News. These examples are not intended to be fully comprehensive, with lots of detailed background. But they are highly illustrative of the propaganda nature of what the BBC broadcasts every day.

First, consider North Korea which has carried out missile tests that have 'demonstrated its growing power and expertise, stoking tensions with the US', as the BBC puts it. A helpful graphic shows much of the northern hemisphere within range of these missiles. In particular, the west coast of the United States is portrayed as under real threat from the 'hermit' state's nuclear missiles: a scaremongering scenario that BBC News has promoted in line with the propaganda requirements of the White House, the Pentagon and the arms industry. Video clips on the BBC News website have titles such as 'N Korea announces nuclear test', 'S Korea drill response to N Korea missile', 'We're used to hearing about being bombed' and 'I don't know when I might be killed'.

In a forthcoming book of interviews with journalist David Barsamian, 'Global Discontents: Conversations on the Rising Threats to Democracy', Chomsky acknowledges that North Korea has a 'growing arsenal of nuclear weapons and missiles' which does indeed 'pose a threat to the region and, in the longer term, to countries beyond.' But then he provides vital context for this arsenal of weapons:

'its function is to be a deterrent, one that the North Korean regime is unlikely to abandon as long as it remains under threat of destruction.'

Yes, threat of destruction; something that is very real in the historical memory of the people:

'North Koreans remember well that their country was literally flattened by U.S. bombing, and many may recall how U.S. forces bombed major dams when there were no other targets left. There were gleeful reports in American military publications about the exciting spectacle of a huge flood of water wiping out the rice crops on which "the Asian" depends for survival.'

Today, as Chomsky notes, we are instructed that 'the great challenge faced by the world' is how to compel North Korea to freeze its nuclear and missile programmes. 'Perhaps we should resort to more sanctions, cyberwar, intimidation [...] perhaps even to direct attack on North Korea'.

He then continues:

'But there is another option, one that seems to be ignored: we could simply accept North Korea's offer to do what we are demanding. China and North Korea have already proposed that North Korea freeze its nuclear and missile programs. The proposal, though, was rejected at once by Washington, just as it had been two years earlier, because it includes a quid pro quo: it calls on the United States to halt its threatening military exercises on North Korea's borders, including simulated nuclear-bombing attacks by B-52s.'

Wait. What was that? There is another option? An article in The Diplomat, which describes itself as 'the premier international current-affairs magazine for the Asia-Pacific region', outlines the proposal; namely that:

'Pyongyang declare a moratorium on both nuclear and missile tests, in exchange for the United States and South Korea halting their large-scale joint military exercises.'

China has given this proposal the succinct name of 'dual suspensions'.

Chomsky explains further:

'The offer to freeze North Korea's nuclear and missile programs in return for an end to highly provocative actions on North Korea's border could be the basis for more far-reaching negotiations, which could radically reduce the nuclear threat and perhaps even bring the North Korea crisis to an end. Contrary to much inflamed commentary, there are good reasons to think such negotiations might succeed.'

He continues:

'Yet even though the North Korean programs are constantly described as perhaps the greatest threat we face, the Chinese-North Korean proposal is unacceptable to Washington, and is rejected by U.S. commentators with impressive unanimity. This is another entry in the shameful and depressing record of near-reflexive preference for force when peaceful options may well be available.'

So, there is a reasonable proposal from China and North Korea that could form the basis for negotiations leading to a peaceful resolution of the crisis – but it has been dismissed by Washington and US commentators. To what extent has it been covered by BBC News? Consider a report by Seoul-based BBC correspondent Stephen Evans when US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson threatened North Korea with military action. Like Obama, Trump has ruled out negotiation with North Korea. The 'situation remains the same', said Evans in the section of the BBC News report grandly titled 'Analysis':

'North Korea shows no hint of being willing to renounce nuclear weapons, whatever economic blows it receives and whatever China might think.'

If a BBC News reporter presents an 'analysis' that does not mention an important proposal that could bring about peace, and which the US has outright dismissed, what does that say about BBC bias?

This is not a one-off. Washington-based BBC correspondent Barbara Plett-Usher noted dutifully that Tillerson had urged an 'international response' to North Korea's nuclear and missile tests, without once mentioning the China-North Korea proposal.

Last month, BBC's China editor Carrie Gracie also offered her 'Analysis':

'China has insisted time and again that it will never accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons state, and it can't avoid the obvious and urgent question: how does China intend to stop it?'

There was nothing about the proposal that China has made, with North Korea, to address the stalemate. Likewise, earlier in the year, Gracie had said in another BBC News report:

'So in Beijing today, Mr Tillerson kept it diplomatic. There was no public repetition of President Trump's complaint that China is not doing enough to prevent North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes.'

The BBC News reporter was thus uncritically presenting Washington's 'complaint' about China without pointing out that its rational proposal had been summarily dismissed by the US. This is not journalism; it is power-friendly propaganda.

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?

 

Bowing Down Before The BBC: Polly Toynbee and The Role Of A Liberal Propagandist

Media Lens - Mið, 20/09/2017 - 06:30

A standard technique deployed by corporate journalists to fend off challenges from the public is to point to selected examples of 'abuse' and then tar all reasoned criticism with the same mucky brush. Or, if that doesn't work, to sneer at claims of 'conspiracy' or 'plots', thus permitting instant dismissal of the arguments made. Polly Toynbee managed to combine the two techniques in a recent Guardian column. It is a near-masterclass in liberal propaganda.

Toynbee began her article by claiming that the BBC, described in hagiographic terms as 'the nation's crucible', is 'often bad at defending itself'. With BBC journalism supposedly 'under ferocious and unjustified attack', in particular from both 'pro- and anti-Brexiteers', she was pleased to hear BBC chairman David Clementi 'standing up for its journalists' in his speech at the Royal Television Society convention in Cambridge last week.

Clementi said it was unacceptable for politicians, whom he did not name, to 'stand by and watch' heckling at press conferences. He added:

'I have become increasingly aware of the abuse that some of them – particularly female journalists – are subject to on an almost daily basis.'

He continued:

'These days, there is much more abuse. It is increasingly explicit and aggressive. And much of it occurs online.

'I welcome the work the Government is doing to tackle this, and I'm following closely the efforts of Twitter and Facebook, amongst others, to clamp down on the perpetrators. I hope the social media platforms do even more.'

It is obviously true that sexist and misogynist abuse exists on social media and that threats against women should be taken seriously. But as website Skwawkbox rightly pointed out, the speech by Clementi, a former deputy governor of the Bank of England, was actually 'a barely-veiled attack on new media'. He:

'ignore[d] the fact that anger toward journalists is, overwhelmingly, precisely because they do not "do their job" and ask the awkward, unwelcome question – and most of the rest of the time, it's because they ask ridiculous questions.'

Skwawkbox added:

'The BBC angers the aware amongst its viewers and readers precisely by failing to question government policy, instead giving government ministers and spokespeople not just a "free ride" but an untrammelled opportunity to propagandise unchallenged.'

This is not territory that Toynbee wished to explore.

Next, she referred to the reported claim that Laura Kuenssberg, the BBC's political editor, has been appointed a bodyguard. In the following sentence, Toynbee then mentioned Jo Cox, the Labour MP who was murdered in June 2016. This was an insidious link to make, implying that criticism of Kuenssberg's journalism would increase the risk of any death threats against her. Toynbee made no reference to a petition by website 38 Degrees being taken down last year after claims of 'sexist abuse' against Kuenssberg. The petition, signed by 35,000 people, had protested her blatantly biased anti-Jeremy Corbyn reporting.

The former UK ambassador Craig Murray said that he had read through every single one of the comments on the 38 Degrees website when around 26,000 people had signed the petition. He noted:

'Of the many scores, possibly hundreds (there is no counter) of comments I read through, only one was sexist. That one was very unpleasant, but totally unrepresentative. I can see no reason why they could not just delete any such stupid comments. Everywhere on the internet gets them, including this blog.'

Murray added:

'It seems to me astonishing that a tiny and unrepresentative number of people can get a petition scrapped which had been signed by many thousands of genuine people.'

He was later told by 38 Degrees that the alleged abuse was not on the petition website itself; it 'was on connected social media'. But when Murray asked them for the evidence of abuse, 'they absolutely refuse[d] to show it.'

Murray continued:

'We have had five people searching all day. So far we have one single tweet, which was nasty – it called Laura K by a expletive reserved for women. And it did refer to the petition. But it was sent by a young man, 90% of whose comments referred to football and 100% of whose tweets used similar expletives. [...] But even if there are more nasty examples of abuse, that is not the fault of the 35,000 good people who signed the petition. [...] I utterly condemn any such abuse, but it does not negate the genuine concerns of the petitioners. Regular readers know I myself receive constant abuse, sometimes death threats.'

As for the BBC's political editor, Murray described her as:

'the most openly biased journalist I have ever seen on the BBC, particularly in her very obvious vindictive hatred of Jeremy Corbyn and of Scottish Independence.'

Inevitably, the corporate media's focus on a tiny number of abusive comments helped to block any discussion about deep-rooted BBC bias.

Bowing Down Before The BBC: Polly Toynbee and The Role Of A Liberal Propagandist

Media Lens - Mið, 20/09/2017 - 06:30

A standard technique deployed by corporate journalists to fend off challenges from the public is to point to selected examples of 'abuse' and then tar all reasoned criticism with the same mucky brush. Or, if that doesn't work, to sneer at claims of 'conspiracy' or 'plots', thus permitting instant dismissal of the arguments made. Polly Toynbee managed to combine the two techniques in a recent Guardian column. It is a near-masterclass in liberal propaganda.

Toynbee began her article by claiming that the BBC, described in hagiographic terms as 'the nation's crucible', is 'often bad at defending itself'. With BBC journalism supposedly 'under ferocious and unjustified attack', in particular from both 'pro- and anti-Brexiteers', she was pleased to hear BBC chairman David Clementi 'standing up for its journalists' in his speech at the Royal Television Society convention in Cambridge last week.

Clementi said it was unacceptable for politicians, whom he did not name, to 'stand by and watch' heckling at press conferences. He added:

'I have become increasingly aware of the abuse that some of them – particularly female journalists – are subject to on an almost daily basis.'

He continued:

'These days, there is much more abuse. It is increasingly explicit and aggressive. And much of it occurs online.

'I welcome the work the Government is doing to tackle this, and I'm following closely the efforts of Twitter and Facebook, amongst others, to clamp down on the perpetrators. I hope the social media platforms do even more.'

It is obviously true that sexist and misogynist abuse exists on social media and that threats against women should be taken seriously. But as website Skwawkbox rightly pointed out, the speech by Clementi, a former deputy governor of the Bank of England, was actually 'a barely-veiled attack on new media'. He:

'ignore[d] the fact that anger toward journalists is, overwhelmingly, precisely because they do not "do their job" and ask the awkward, unwelcome question – and most of the rest of the time, it's because they ask ridiculous questions.'

Skwawkbox added:

'The BBC angers the aware amongst its viewers and readers precisely by failing to question government policy, instead giving government ministers and spokespeople not just a "free ride" but an untrammelled opportunity to propagandise unchallenged.'

This is not territory that Toynbee wished to explore.

Next, she referred to the reported claim that Laura Kuenssberg, the BBC's political editor, has been appointed a bodyguard. In the following sentence, Toynbee then mentioned Jo Cox, the Labour MP who was murdered in June 2016. This was an insidious link to make, implying that criticism of Kuenssberg's journalism would increase the risk of any death threats against her. Toynbee made no reference to a petition by website 38 Degrees being taken down last year after claims of 'sexist abuse' against Kuenssberg. The petition, signed by 35,000 people, had protested her blatantly biased anti-Jeremy Corbyn reporting.

The former UK ambassador Craig Murray said that he had read through every single one of the comments on the 38 Degrees website when around 26,000 people had signed the petition. He noted:

'Of the many scores, possibly hundreds (there is no counter) of comments I read through, only one was sexist. That one was very unpleasant, but totally unrepresentative. I can see no reason why they could not just delete any such stupid comments. Everywhere on the internet gets them, including this blog.'

Murray added:

'It seems to me astonishing that a tiny and unrepresentative number of people can get a petition scrapped which had been signed by many thousands of genuine people.'

He was later told by 38 Degrees that the alleged abuse was not on the petition website itself; it 'was on connected social media'. But when Murray asked them for the evidence of abuse, 'they absolutely refuse[d] to show it.'

Murray continued:

'We have had five people searching all day. So far we have one single tweet, which was nasty – it called Laura K by a expletive reserved for women. And it did refer to the petition. But it was sent by a young man, 90% of whose comments referred to football and 100% of whose tweets used similar expletives. [...] But even if there are more nasty examples of abuse, that is not the fault of the 35,000 good people who signed the petition. [...] I utterly condemn any such abuse, but it does not negate the genuine concerns of the petitioners. Regular readers know I myself receive constant abuse, sometimes death threats.'

As for the BBC's political editor, Murray described her as:

'the most openly biased journalist I have ever seen on the BBC, particularly in her very obvious vindictive hatred of Jeremy Corbyn and of Scottish Independence.'

Inevitably, the corporate media's focus on a tiny number of abusive comments helped to block any discussion about deep-rooted BBC bias.

Preferred Conclusions – The BBC, Syria And Venezuela

Media Lens - Mið, 13/09/2017 - 07:47

 

As the late media activist Danny Schechter wrote, when it comes to the corporate broadcast media: 'The more you watch, the less you know.'

Schechter's observation only fails in one key respect: 'mainstream' output does tell us a lot about which foreign governments are being lined up for regime change.

In 2013, it was remarkable to see the BBC reporting claims from Syria on a daily basis in a way that almost always blamed the Syrian government, and President Assad personally, for horrendous war crimes. But as the New York Times reported last month, the picture was rather less black and white. The US was embroiled in a dirty war that was 'one of the costliest covert action programs in the history of the C.I.A', running to 'more than $1 billion over the life of the program'. Its aim was to support a vast 'rebel' army created and armed by the US, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey to overthrow the Syrian government.

The BBC's relentless headline stories were mostly supplied by 'activists' and 'rebels' who, in fact, were militants attempting to overthrow Assad, and whose claims could not be verified. Veteran Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn described the problem afflicting virtually all 'mainstream' reporting on Syria:

'All wars always produce phony atrocity stories – along with real atrocities. But in the Syrian case fabricated news and one-sided reporting have taken over the news agenda to a degree probably not seen since the First World War... The real reason that reporting of the Syrian conflict has been so inadequate is that Western news organisations have almost entirely outsourced their coverage to the rebel side.'

There was a simple reason why 'rebel' claims were uncontested: they originated from 'areas controlled by people so dangerous no foreign journalist dare set foot among them'. The additional point being that 'it has never been plausible that unaffiliated local citizens would be allowed to report freely'.

This was obvious to everyone, doubtless including the BBC, which nevertheless produced a tsunami of 'rebel'-sourced propaganda. Crucially, these stories were not balanced attempts to explore the various claims; they sought to establish a version of events justifying regime change: 'rebels' and 'activists' were 'good', Assad was 'bad' and had to go. Journalist Robert Parry explains:

'The job of the media is not to provide as much meaningful information as possible to the people so they can exercise their free judgment; it is to package certain information in a way to guide the people to a preferred conclusion.'

The BBC campaign was clearly inspired – whether consciously or otherwise - by a high-level decision to engineer regime change in Syria.

The key moment arrived in August 2013 when the US came very close to launching a major attack against Syrian government forces, supposedly in response to Assad's alleged use of chemical weapons in Ghouta, Damascus. Only the UK parliament's rejection of the case for war and warnings from US generals on doubts about the claims, and likely fallout from regime change, prevented Obama from attacking.

Particularly disturbing was the fact that, as the possibility of a direct US regime change effort faded, so too did the steady flow of BBC atrocity claims. It was as if, with the goal temporarily unattainable, the propaganda tap was simply closed. It was later re-opened ahead of an anticipated, pro-war Clinton presidency, and then as part of an attempt to push president-elect Trump to intensify the Syrian war.

Preferred Conclusions – The BBC, Syria And Venezuela

Media Lens - Mið, 13/09/2017 - 07:47

 

As the late media activist Danny Schechter wrote, when it comes to the corporate broadcast media: 'The more you watch, the less you know.'

Schechter's observation only fails in one key respect: 'mainstream' output does tell us a lot about which foreign governments are being lined up for regime change.

In 2013, it was remarkable to see the BBC reporting claims from Syria on a daily basis in a way that almost always blamed the Syrian government, and President Assad personally, for horrendous war crimes. But as the New York Times reported last month, the picture was rather less black and white. The US was embroiled in a dirty war that was 'one of the costliest covert action programs in the history of the C.I.A', running to 'more than $1 billion over the life of the program'. Its aim was to support a vast 'rebel' army created and armed by the US, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey to overthrow the Syrian government.

The BBC's relentless headline stories were mostly supplied by 'activists' and 'rebels' who, in fact, were militants attempting to overthrow Assad, and whose claims could not be verified. Veteran Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn described the problem afflicting virtually all 'mainstream' reporting on Syria:

'All wars always produce phony atrocity stories – along with real atrocities. But in the Syrian case fabricated news and one-sided reporting have taken over the news agenda to a degree probably not seen since the First World War... The real reason that reporting of the Syrian conflict has been so inadequate is that Western news organisations have almost entirely outsourced their coverage to the rebel side.'

There was a simple reason why 'rebel' claims were uncontested: they originated from 'areas controlled by people so dangerous no foreign journalist dare set foot among them'. The additional point being that 'it has never been plausible that unaffiliated local citizens would be allowed to report freely'.

This was obvious to everyone, doubtless including the BBC, which nevertheless produced a tsunami of 'rebel'-sourced propaganda. Crucially, these stories were not balanced attempts to explore the various claims; they sought to establish a version of events justifying regime change: 'rebels' and 'activists' were 'good', Assad was 'bad' and had to go. Journalist Robert Parry explains:

'The job of the media is not to provide as much meaningful information as possible to the people so they can exercise their free judgment; it is to package certain information in a way to guide the people to a preferred conclusion.'

The BBC campaign was clearly inspired – whether consciously or otherwise - by a high-level decision to engineer regime change in Syria.

The key moment arrived in August 2013 when the US came very close to launching a major attack against Syrian government forces, supposedly in response to Assad's alleged use of chemical weapons in Ghouta, Damascus. Only the UK parliament's rejection of the case for war and warnings from US generals on doubts about the claims, and likely fallout from regime change, prevented Obama from attacking.

Particularly disturbing was the fact that, as the possibility of a direct US regime change effort faded, so too did the steady flow of BBC atrocity claims. It was as if, with the goal temporarily unattainable, the propaganda tap was simply closed. It was later re-opened ahead of an anticipated, pro-war Clinton presidency, and then as part of an attempt to push president-elect Trump to intensify the Syrian war.

The BBC’s Climate Denialism: Coverage Of Hurricane Harvey And The South Asian Floods

Media Lens - Þri, 05/09/2017 - 07:07

In J.G. Ballard's classic novel, The Drowned World, people are struggling for survival on a post-apocalyptic, overheating planet. A 'sudden instability in the Sun' has unleashed increased solar radiation, melting the polar ice caps and causing global temperatures to rise by a few degrees each year. Once-temperate areas, such as Europe and North America, have become flooded tropical lands, 'sweltering under continuous heat waves'. Life has become tolerable only within the former Arctic and Antarctic Circles.

The frailty of 'civilisation' and the attempts to cope with psychological changes in the human condition as a result of the catastrophe are laid bare. It is a frightening surreal vision of the human predicament by a master novelist. At one point, one of the characters is asked about his life before the apocalypse. He answers, 'I'm afraid I remember nothing. The immediate past is of no interest to me.'

Hurricane Harvey has provided a genuinely terrifying glimpse of a global Ballardian dystopia that may actually be humanity's fate. And yet, even now, corporate media are suppressing the truth.

On August 25, the category 4 Hurricane Harvey, with 130 mph winds, made landfall near Corpus Christi on the southern coast of Texas. Harvey's progress then stalled over Houston, the fourth largest city in the United States, dumping enormous 'unprecedented' quantities of water, creating 'a 1-in-1,000-year flood event'. To date, 50 people have been killed, around one million residents have been displaced and 200,000 homes have been damaged in a 'path of destruction' stretching for over 300 miles. The Washington Post reported that:

'the intensity and scope of the disaster were so enormous that weather forecasters, first responders, the victims, everyone really, couldn't believe their eyes.'

The total financial cost of Harvey is yet to be determined. But, according to the governor of Texas, damages will likely be in the range of $150 billion to $180 billion, exceeding the $118 billion cost of Hurricane Katrina that devastated New Orleans in 2005. Around 80 per cent of Hurricane Harvey victims do not even have flood insurance; many had skipped buying insurance believing it to have been a 'low-risk gamble'.

Meteorologist Eric Holthaus surveyed the deaths and devastation caused by Harvey and said bluntly: 'this is what climate change looks like'. He added:

'The symbolism of the worst flooding disaster in U.S. history hitting the sprawled-out capital city of America's oil industry is likely not lost on many. Institutionalized climate denial in our political system and climate denial by inaction by the rest of us have real consequences. They look like Houston.'

BBC News reported that Harvey had actually shut down almost a quarter of the US capacity for oil refining.

Other societal factors have played their part in worsening the crisis. Dr Andrew King, a climate extremes research fellow at the University of Melbourne, observes that Houston is the second-fastest growing city in the US, adding:

'As the region's population grows, more and more of southern Texas is being paved with impermeable surfaces. This means that when there is extreme rainfall the water takes longer to drain away, prolonging and intensifying the floods.'

As Robert McSweeney and Simon Evans note in a piece for Carbon Brief:

'The rising population also changes flood risk in some unexpected ways. Parts of Houston are subsiding rapidly as a result of people extracting too much groundwater'.

Moreover:

'the US government was warned 20 years ago, in a National Wildlife Federation report, that its flood insurance programme was encouraging homes to be built, and rebuilt, in flood-prone areas of the country. [...] Two decades on, the author of the report says a flood event like Hurricane Harvey "was inevitable".'

Meanwhile, halfway around the planet in South Asia, an even greater climate-related catastrophe was taking place. Reuters observed that 'the worst monsoon floods in a decade' have killed over 1,400 people across India, Nepal and Bangladesh. Around 41 million people have been displaced. That number is simply staggering. And in areas with little infrastructure and financial resources, the consequences are almost unthinkable. The Times of India reported that rains had brought Mumbai, a city of 18 million people, 'to its knees'.

E.A. Crunden wrote in a piece for ThinkProgress that the crisis:

'is alarming aid officials, who say the issue is spiraling into an unprecedented disaster.'

Francis Markus, a spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, told the New York Times of his concern that the disaster in South Asia might not get the attention it needs:

'We hope people won't overlook the desperate needs of the people here because of the disasters closer [to] home.'

Although coverage of the monsoon flooding in South Asia was not entirely absent in British media by any means, it was swamped by the coverage devoted to Harvey in Texas and Louisiana. We conducted a ProQuest newspaper database search on September 4 for the period since August 25 (the day Hurricane Harvey hit Texas). Our search yielded just 26 stories in the UK national press on the South Asian flooding, while there were 695 articles on Harvey. Thus, coverage from the US dominated South Asia by a factor of almost 30 to 1, even though the scale of deaths and flooding was far greater in the latter. There was some good coverage of both, notably in the Guardian. But the general trend was glaring. Somehow, people in South Asia just don't matter as much as Americans; or Westerners in general.

Similarly, Ben Parker, a senior editor at IRIN, a non-profit group specialising in humanitarian news, consulted databases of online news stories and noted that 'US media last week [Aug 24-31] mentioned Hurricane Harvey at least 100 times more than India'. As for the rest of the world, the gap was smaller: non-US media gave 3-4 times as much attention to Harvey as to the monsoons.

The BBC’s Climate Denialism: Coverage Of Hurricane Harvey And The South Asian Floods

Media Lens - Þri, 05/09/2017 - 07:07

In J.G. Ballard's classic novel, The Drowned World, people are struggling for survival on a post-apocalyptic, overheating planet. A 'sudden instability in the Sun' has unleashed increased solar radiation, melting the polar ice caps and causing global temperatures to rise by a few degrees each year. Once-temperate areas, such as Europe and North America, have become flooded tropical lands, 'sweltering under continuous heat waves'. Life has become tolerable only within the former Arctic and Antarctic Circles.

The frailty of 'civilisation' and the attempts to cope with psychological changes in the human condition as a result of the catastrophe are laid bare. It is a frightening surreal vision of the human predicament by a master novelist. At one point, one of the characters is asked about his life before the apocalypse. He answers, 'I'm afraid I remember nothing. The immediate past is of no interest to me.'

Hurricane Harvey has provided a genuinely terrifying glimpse of a global Ballardian dystopia that may actually be humanity's fate. And yet, even now, corporate media are suppressing the truth.

On August 25, the category 4 Hurricane Harvey, with 130 mph winds, made landfall near Corpus Christi on the southern coast of Texas. Harvey's progress then stalled over Houston, the fourth largest city in the United States, dumping enormous 'unprecedented' quantities of water, creating 'a 1-in-1,000-year flood event'. To date, 50 people have been killed, around one million residents have been displaced and 200,000 homes have been damaged in a 'path of destruction' stretching for over 300 miles. The Washington Post reported that:

'the intensity and scope of the disaster were so enormous that weather forecasters, first responders, the victims, everyone really, couldn't believe their eyes.'

The total financial cost of Harvey is yet to be determined. But, according to the governor of Texas, damages will likely be in the range of $150 billion to $180 billion, exceeding the $118 billion cost of Hurricane Katrina that devastated New Orleans in 2005. Around 80 per cent of Hurricane Harvey victims do not even have flood insurance; many had skipped buying insurance believing it to have been a 'low-risk gamble'.

Meteorologist Eric Holthaus surveyed the deaths and devastation caused by Harvey and said bluntly: 'this is what climate change looks like'. He added:

'The symbolism of the worst flooding disaster in U.S. history hitting the sprawled-out capital city of America's oil industry is likely not lost on many. Institutionalized climate denial in our political system and climate denial by inaction by the rest of us have real consequences. They look like Houston.'

BBC News reported that Harvey had actually shut down almost a quarter of the US capacity for oil refining.

Other societal factors have played their part in worsening the crisis. Dr Andrew King, a climate extremes research fellow at the University of Melbourne, observes that Houston is the second-fastest growing city in the US, adding:

'As the region's population grows, more and more of southern Texas is being paved with impermeable surfaces. This means that when there is extreme rainfall the water takes longer to drain away, prolonging and intensifying the floods.'

As Robert McSweeney and Simon Evans note in a piece for Carbon Brief:

'The rising population also changes flood risk in some unexpected ways. Parts of Houston are subsiding rapidly as a result of people extracting too much groundwater'.

Moreover:

'the US government was warned 20 years ago, in a National Wildlife Federation report, that its flood insurance programme was encouraging homes to be built, and rebuilt, in flood-prone areas of the country. [...] Two decades on, the author of the report says a flood event like Hurricane Harvey "was inevitable".'

Meanwhile, halfway around the planet in South Asia, an even greater climate-related catastrophe was taking place. Reuters observed that 'the worst monsoon floods in a decade' have killed over 1,400 people across India, Nepal and Bangladesh. Around 41 million people have been displaced. That number is simply staggering. And in areas with little infrastructure and financial resources, the consequences are almost unthinkable. The Times of India reported that rains had brought Mumbai, a city of 18 million people, 'to its knees'.

E.A. Crunden wrote in a piece for ThinkProgress that the crisis:

'is alarming aid officials, who say the issue is spiraling into an unprecedented disaster.'

Francis Markus, a spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, told the New York Times of his concern that the disaster in South Asia might not get the attention it needs:

'We hope people won't overlook the desperate needs of the people here because of the disasters closer [to] home.'

Although coverage of the monsoon flooding in South Asia was not entirely absent in British media by any means, it was swamped by the coverage devoted to Harvey in Texas and Louisiana. We conducted a ProQuest newspaper database search on September 4 for the period since August 25 (the day Hurricane Harvey hit Texas). Our search yielded just 26 stories in the UK national press on the South Asian flooding, while there were 695 articles on Harvey. Thus, coverage from the US dominated South Asia by a factor of almost 30 to 1, even though the scale of deaths and flooding was far greater in the latter. There was some good coverage of both, notably in the Guardian. But the general trend was glaring. Somehow, people in South Asia just don't matter as much as Americans; or Westerners in general.

Similarly, Ben Parker, a senior editor at IRIN, a non-profit group specialising in humanitarian news, consulted databases of online news stories and noted that 'US media last week [Aug 24-31] mentioned Hurricane Harvey at least 100 times more than India'. As for the rest of the world, the gap was smaller: non-US media gave 3-4 times as much attention to Harvey as to the monsoons.

Mass Media Siege: Comparing Coverage Of Mosul and Aleppo

Media Lens - Mán, 17/07/2017 - 07:36

When Russian and Syrian forces were bombarding 'rebel'-held East Aleppo last year, newspapers and television screens were full of anguished reporting about the plight of civilians killed, injured, trapped, traumatised or desperately fleeing. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Russian leader Vladimir Putin, both Official Enemies, were denounced and demonised, in accordance with the usual propaganda script. One piece in the Evening Standard described Assad as a 'monster' and a Boris Johnson column in the Telegraph referred to both Putin and Assad as 'the Devil'.

As the respected veteran reporter Patrick Cockburn put it:

'The partisan reporting of the siege of East Aleppo presented it as a battle between good and evil: The Lord of the Rings, with Assad and Putin as Saruman and Sauron.'

This, he said, was 'the nadir of Western media coverage of the wars in Iraq and Syria.' Media reporting focused laser-like on 'Last calls (or messages or tweets) from Aleppo'. There were heart-breaking accounts of families, children, elderly people, all caught up in dreadful conditions that could be pinned on the 'brutal' Assad and his 'regime'; endless photographs depicting grief and suffering that tore at one's psyche.

By contrast, there was little of this evident in media coverage as the Iraqi city of Mosul, with a population of around one million, was being pulverised by the US-led 'coalition' from 2015; particularly since the massive assault launched last October to 'liberate' the city from ISIS, with 'victory' declared a few days ago. Most pointedly, western media coverage has not, of course, demonised the US for inflicting mass death and suffering.

As Cockburn pointed out, there were 'many similarities between the sieges of Mosul and East Aleppo, but they were reported very differently'.

He explained:

'When civilians are killed or their houses destroyed during the US-led bombardment of Mosul, it is Islamic State that is said to be responsible for their deaths: they were being deployed as human shields. When Russia or Syria targets buildings in East Aleppo, Russia or Syria is blamed: the rebels have nothing to do with it.'

For example:

'Heartrending images from East Aleppo showing dead, wounded and shellshocked children were broadcast around the world. But when, on 12 January, a video was posted online showing people searching for bodies in the ruins of a building in Mosul that appeared to have been destroyed by a US-led coalition airstrike, no Western television station carried the pictures.'

Cockburn summarised:

'In Mosul, civilian loss of life is blamed on Isis, with its indiscriminate use of mortars and suicide bombers, while the Iraqi army and their air support are largely given a free pass. [...] Contrast this with Western media descriptions of the inhuman savagery of President Assad's forces indiscriminately slaughtering civilians regardless of whether they stay or try to flee.'

Mass Media Siege: Comparing Coverage Of Mosul and Aleppo

Media Lens - Mán, 17/07/2017 - 07:36

When Russian and Syrian forces were bombarding 'rebel'-held East Aleppo last year, newspapers and television screens were full of anguished reporting about the plight of civilians killed, injured, trapped, traumatised or desperately fleeing. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Russian leader Vladimir Putin, both Official Enemies, were denounced and demonised, in accordance with the usual propaganda script. One piece in the Evening Standard described Assad as a 'monster' and a Boris Johnson column in the Telegraph referred to both Putin and Assad as 'the Devil'.

As the respected veteran reporter Patrick Cockburn put it:

'The partisan reporting of the siege of East Aleppo presented it as a battle between good and evil: The Lord of the Rings, with Assad and Putin as Saruman and Sauron.'

This, he said, was 'the nadir of Western media coverage of the wars in Iraq and Syria.' Media reporting focused laser-like on 'Last calls (or messages or tweets) from Aleppo'. There were heart-breaking accounts of families, children, elderly people, all caught up in dreadful conditions that could be pinned on the 'brutal' Assad and his 'regime'; endless photographs depicting grief and suffering that tore at one's psyche.

By contrast, there was little of this evident in media coverage as the Iraqi city of Mosul, with a population of around one million, was being pulverised by the US-led 'coalition' from 2015; particularly since the massive assault launched last October to 'liberate' the city from ISIS, with 'victory' declared a few days ago. Most pointedly, western media coverage has not, of course, demonised the US for inflicting mass death and suffering.

As Cockburn pointed out, there were 'many similarities between the sieges of Mosul and East Aleppo, but they were reported very differently'.

He explained:

'When civilians are killed or their houses destroyed during the US-led bombardment of Mosul, it is Islamic State that is said to be responsible for their deaths: they were being deployed as human shields. When Russia or Syria targets buildings in East Aleppo, Russia or Syria is blamed: the rebels have nothing to do with it.'

For example:

'Heartrending images from East Aleppo showing dead, wounded and shellshocked children were broadcast around the world. But when, on 12 January, a video was posted online showing people searching for bodies in the ruins of a building in Mosul that appeared to have been destroyed by a US-led coalition airstrike, no Western television station carried the pictures.'

Cockburn summarised:

'In Mosul, civilian loss of life is blamed on Isis, with its indiscriminate use of mortars and suicide bombers, while the Iraqi army and their air support are largely given a free pass. [...] Contrast this with Western media descriptions of the inhuman savagery of President Assad's forces indiscriminately slaughtering civilians regardless of whether they stay or try to flee.'

Holding Up A Mirror - An Appeal For Support

Media Lens - Þri, 11/07/2017 - 11:33

 

For as long as we can remember, 'pragmatists' have insisted:

'You have to play the media game. You have to work with the corporate press and broadcasters to achieve mass outreach, and hope that you can steer them in a more positive direction.'

The idea is that some arguments and policies just go 'too far', guaranteeing 'mainstream' rejection and attack, which results in fewer progressive voices being heard, benefiting precisely no-one. Bottom line: 'You have to play the game.'

An alternative approach argues that analysis rooted in compassion that refuses to compromise in exposing the cruelty of state-corporate power can smoke out the corporate media. Alarmed by what they perceive as a class enemy, as a threatening sign that democratic forces might escape the carefully filtered tweedledum-tweedledee choices, elite media will indeed attack. But in the process of attacking, these media are forced to drop the pretence that they are independent and impartial, or even well-intentioned.

This is crucial because it is the illusion that 'mainstream' media are basically fair and benevolent that allows them to sell a fake version of democracy as the real thing. Uncompromised analysis does come at a cost, but it holds up a mirror to the corporate media system in a way that erodes its power to deceive. This is a very different game, one that is very much worth the candle. In fact, we believe it has the power to challenge state-corporate power's system of 'managed democracy' favouring elite interests.

This is exactly what we have witnessed in the last two years with Jeremy Corbyn's rise to power within the Labour Party. For two years, Corbyn's compassionate, people-centred policies were dismissed as a 'loony left' joke, a relic of the past. Corbyn would never be able to persuade the public, not least because his views would never be given a fair hearing by a press that would subject him to relentless attack. He didn't stand a chance. At time of writing, Corbyn holds an eight-point lead over the Conservatives.

'Mainstream' pundits reckoned without the rise of social media.

 

Simple Advice For A Student Of Broadcast Journalism

A week before the election, a student of journalism tweeted a question to the excellent former BBC journalist and interviewer Afshin Rattansi, now host of RT's Going Underground:

'Hey Afshin, love Going Underground on RT, any advice for a broadcast Journalism major? Thanks so much!'

Rattansi replied linking to the 1992 documentary, 'Manufacturing Consent – Noam Chomsky and the Media', adding:

'Simple: Just watch ['Manufacturing Consent']... and follow @medialens :)'

As the election loomed, we started receiving many supportive messages of this kind. After we mentioned in a tweet that we had now been tilting at 'mainstream' media windmills for 16 years, one corporate journalist wrote to us privately:

'Can't believe its 16 years. Makes me feel very old. Time rushes past etc. But all the more credit to you guys for sticking at it.'

Another leading journalist wrote in:

'I really value being kept honest by you guys.'

Also to our surprise, as the basic shape of the election result became clear on June 9, we began receiving numerous comments from readers on Twitter congratulating, not just Corbyn, but us on our work, as if we had been vindicated by his success. After so many years when we have been smeared as 'apologising for' this tyrant and 'denying' that mass murder, it felt like our Twitter timeline was positively smiling at us.

The reason is that people of course realised that social media – of which we are only one, minuscule part – had achieved an awesome result. Thousands of us had helped Corbyn hold up the mirror in which the public – huge numbers of them – were able to see the dishonesty, viciousness and blatant bias of a corporate media system that was supposed to hold the ring in a fair democratic contest.

The corporate media system – notably the BBC – is now subject to a level of public scepticism and challenge that we never thought possible when we started Media Lens in 2001. Many people, especially the young, are rejecting news and commentary peddled by a profit-oriented, billionaire-owned, advertiser-dependent, government-interest media system that is very far from 'mainstream'.

It's fair to say that something truly extraordinary happened in June: after years of Blairite cynicism, compassion once again attained 'mainstream' respectability – Corbyn's views could no longer be dismissed as the ravings of an idiotic chancer who got lucky but who, of course, lacked a genuine democratic mandate.

Mark 'Artist Taxi Driver' McGowan senses that the country has woken up:

'This General Election has changed the course of history. What this country wants is a fair wage, not poverty wages for working all week. This country wants housing [and] opportunity for all its children. [...] This country wants change.'

He continues:

'What this country wants is to live in a world of peace, not war. What this country wants is equality. This country wants love and compassion. This country wants a chance. This country believes and trusts in people. Not the media. Not the corporations.'

All along, the salaried 'pragmatists' made famous by the corporate media – the Owen Joneses, the George Monbiots and Paul Masons - who naturally urge 'tactical' compromise, 'strategic' self-censorship and 'caution' – turned out to be key opponents of the only strategy able to undermine the corporate media monopoly: stubbornly uncompromising, completely non-violent dissent rooted in compassion for injustice, inequality and suffering that targets even the best corporate media.

 

The No-Model Business Model

Professionally-minded media activists often worry about 'funding models' for media activism. Here, also, 'pragmatism' tends to rear its ugly head: How to escape the advertiser-dependent 'business model' and yet generate revenue? How to emulate best-practice corporate website design and marketing to achieve a comparable mass audience without comparable funding? How to publish dissent that is effective in challenging, without overly alienating, the 'mainstream' in order to retain 'respectability' as part of the 'national conversation'?

Our idea for funding draws inspiration from the way the public spontaneously rallied around Bernie Sanders in the US and Jeremy Corbyn in Britain. Heaven knows, it was not slick marketing that persuaded people to give of their time, energy and money to them. The public was drawn to support a couple of people who were obviously sincere about offering a more compassionate politics.

Likewise, the public has immense power to divert resources from corporate media to non-corporate media challenging them. This challenge is no longer a pipe dream; it is very real and already making a big difference. There is no longer any need to pay or otherwise support media corporations selling corporate-owned politics, Perpetual War, unsustainable materialism and climate disaster. All we need to do is support honest, non-corporate media countering this horrifically irresponsible and violent system of disinformation - the public will do the rest.

With our media alerts and social media output on Twitter and Facebook (and, to a lesser extent, YouTube), Media Lens will continue to do what we can in the months and years ahead. But we need your support to do so. We are 100% reliant on crowdfunding from individuals; we have no other source of income and no wealthy funders making large donations. We are, of course, very grateful to all who donate, enabling both of us to work full-time on Media Lens. However, our funds are at their lowest ebb since the early years of our project and we are now appealing for your support.

If you do not already do so, please consider supporting us, ideally by sending regular monthly donations. Options for donating to Media Lens can be found on this page. Please donate only if it is financially comfortable for you to do so – if it is at all difficult, please support us in other ways (by emailing us useful information, challenging journalists, supporting us on Facebook, Twitter, and so on).

If you don't support us and we eventually run out of funds, we will continue to do what we can in our spare time – there is no question of us stopping for lack of funds. We might stop for other reasons, but as long as we continue to enjoy what we're doing as much as we do, we will continue doing the best we can.

We do this for the same reason people made Bernie dolls and shared Corbyn's messages on Facebook – it is a sheer delight to support kindness and sanity against cruelty and greed.

Thank you for all your support.

DE and DC

Holding Up A Mirror - An Appeal For Support

Media Lens - Þri, 11/07/2017 - 11:33

 

For as long as we can remember, 'pragmatists' have insisted:

'You have to play the media game. You have to work with the corporate press and broadcasters to achieve mass outreach, and hope that you can steer them in a more positive direction.'

The idea is that some arguments and policies just go 'too far', guaranteeing 'mainstream' rejection and attack, which results in fewer progressive voices being heard, benefiting precisely no-one. Bottom line: 'You have to play the game.'

An alternative approach argues that analysis rooted in compassion that refuses to compromise in exposing the cruelty of state-corporate power can smoke out the corporate media. Alarmed by what they perceive as a class enemy, as a threatening sign that democratic forces might escape the carefully filtered tweedledum-tweedledee choices, elite media will indeed attack. But in the process of attacking, these media are forced to drop the pretence that they are independent and impartial, or even well-intentioned.

This is crucial because it is the illusion that 'mainstream' media are basically fair and benevolent that allows them to sell a fake version of democracy as the real thing. Uncompromised analysis does come at a cost, but it holds up a mirror to the corporate media system in a way that erodes its power to deceive. This is a very different game, one that is very much worth the candle. In fact, we believe it has the power to challenge state-corporate power's system of 'managed democracy' favouring elite interests.

This is exactly what we have witnessed in the last two years with Jeremy Corbyn's rise to power within the Labour Party. For two years, Corbyn's compassionate, people-centred policies were dismissed as a 'loony left' joke, a relic of the past. Corbyn would never be able to persuade the public, not least because his views would never be given a fair hearing by a press that would subject him to relentless attack. He didn't stand a chance. At time of writing, Corbyn holds an eight-point lead over the Conservatives.

'Mainstream' pundits reckoned without the rise of social media.

 

Simple Advice For A Student Of Broadcast Journalism

A week before the election, a student of journalism tweeted a question to the excellent former BBC journalist and interviewer Afshin Rattansi, now host of RT's Going Underground:

'Hey Afshin, love Going Underground on RT, any advice for a broadcast Journalism major? Thanks so much!'

Rattansi replied linking to the 1992 documentary, 'Manufacturing Consent – Noam Chomsky and the Media', adding:

'Simple: Just watch ['Manufacturing Consent']... and follow @medialens :)'

As the election loomed, we started receiving many supportive messages of this kind. After we mentioned in a tweet that we had now been tilting at 'mainstream' media windmills for 16 years, one corporate journalist wrote to us privately:

'Can't believe its 16 years. Makes me feel very old. Time rushes past etc. But all the more credit to you guys for sticking at it.'

Another leading journalist wrote in:

'I really value being kept honest by you guys.'

Also to our surprise, as the basic shape of the election result became clear on June 9, we began receiving numerous comments from readers on Twitter congratulating, not just Corbyn, but us on our work, as if we had been vindicated by his success. After so many years when we have been smeared as 'apologising for' this tyrant and 'denying' that mass murder, it felt like our Twitter timeline was positively smiling at us.

The reason is that people of course realised that social media – of which we are only one, minuscule part – had achieved an awesome result. Thousands of us had helped Corbyn hold up the mirror in which the public – huge numbers of them – were able to see the dishonesty, viciousness and blatant bias of a corporate media system that was supposed to hold the ring in a fair democratic contest.

The corporate media system – notably the BBC – is now subject to a level of public scepticism and challenge that we never thought possible when we started Media Lens in 2001. Many people, especially the young, are rejecting news and commentary peddled by a profit-oriented, billionaire-owned, advertiser-dependent, government-interest media system that is very far from 'mainstream'.

It's fair to say that something truly extraordinary happened in June: after years of Blairite cynicism, compassion once again attained 'mainstream' respectability – Corbyn's views could no longer be dismissed as the ravings of an idiotic chancer who got lucky but who, of course, lacked a genuine democratic mandate.

Mark 'Artist Taxi Driver' McGowan senses that the country has woken up:

'This General Election has changed the course of history. What this country wants is a fair wage, not poverty wages for working all week. This country wants housing [and] opportunity for all its children. [...] This country wants change.'

He continues:

'What this country wants is to live in a world of peace, not war. What this country wants is equality. This country wants love and compassion. This country wants a chance. This country believes and trusts in people. Not the media. Not the corporations.'

All along, the salaried 'pragmatists' made famous by the corporate media – the Owen Joneses, the George Monbiots and Paul Masons - who naturally urge 'tactical' compromise, 'strategic' self-censorship and 'caution' – turned out to be key opponents of the only strategy able to undermine the corporate media monopoly: stubbornly uncompromising, completely non-violent dissent rooted in compassion for injustice, inequality and suffering that targets even the best corporate media.

 

The No-Model Business Model

Professionally-minded media activists often worry about 'funding models' for media activism. Here, also, 'pragmatism' tends to rear its ugly head: How to escape the advertiser-dependent 'business model' and yet generate revenue? How to emulate best-practice corporate website design and marketing to achieve a comparable mass audience without comparable funding? How to publish dissent that is effective in challenging, without overly alienating, the 'mainstream' in order to retain 'respectability' as part of the 'national conversation'?

Our idea for funding draws inspiration from the way the public spontaneously rallied around Bernie Sanders in the US and Jeremy Corbyn in Britain. Heaven knows, it was not slick marketing that persuaded people to give of their time, energy and money to them. The public was drawn to support a couple of people who were obviously sincere about offering a more compassionate politics.

Likewise, the public has immense power to divert resources from corporate media to non-corporate media challenging them. This challenge is no longer a pipe dream; it is very real and already making a big difference. There is no longer any need to pay or otherwise support media corporations selling corporate-owned politics, Perpetual War, unsustainable materialism and climate disaster. All we need to do is support honest, non-corporate media countering this horrifically irresponsible and violent system of disinformation - the public will do the rest.

With our media alerts and social media output on Twitter and Facebook (and, to a lesser extent, YouTube), Media Lens will continue to do what we can in the months and years ahead. But we need your support to do so. We are 100% reliant on crowdfunding from individuals; we have no other source of income and no wealthy funders making large donations. We are, of course, very grateful to all who donate, enabling both of us to work full-time on Media Lens. However, our funds are at their lowest ebb since the early years of our project and we are now appealing for your support.

If you do not already do so, please consider supporting us, ideally by sending regular monthly donations. Options for donating to Media Lens can be found on this page. Please donate only if it is financially comfortable for you to do so – if it is at all difficult, please support us in other ways (by emailing us useful information, challenging journalists, supporting us on Facebook, Twitter, and so on).

If you don't support us and we eventually run out of funds, we will continue to do what we can in our spare time – there is no question of us stopping for lack of funds. We might stop for other reasons, but as long as we continue to enjoy what we're doing as much as we do, we will continue doing the best we can.

We do this for the same reason people made Bernie dolls and shared Corbyn's messages on Facebook – it is a sheer delight to support kindness and sanity against cruelty and greed.

Thank you for all your support.

DE and DC

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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