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

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

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

Champions Of Democracy - From Fake News To Imposed Insanity

Fim, 01/02/2018 - 09:14

Open a corporate media website on any given day and you will find someone, somewhere blaming social media for something. No claim is too absurd.

Last week, journalist Sean Williams, who writes for the New Yorker, New Republic and Wired, tweeted us in a state of high anxiety:

'I just want you to know you're ruining the national dialogue and pushing more people towards right wing populism. Really.'

Quite a claim for a project that began in Southampton's Giddy Bridge public house over a pint and a packet of cheese & onion. We replied:

'Two guys with no resources, relying solely on donations, critiquing global, multi-billion-dollar media corporations? That's crazy. All our support is on the left - people like John Pilger, Noam Chomsky and Jonathan Cook, who reject that idea completely.'

Beyond even ruining 'the national dialogue', social media are of course blamed for a tsunami of 'fake news' undermining democracy at every level. The irony of the fake news claim is that the corporate media's refusal to analyse, or even mention, its own record of spreading fake news is a prime example of how it functions as a system, not merely of deception, but of imposed insanity.

Consider the work of Andrew Rawnsley of the Observer, garlanded with British Press Awards Young Journalist of the Year (1987); What The Papers Say Columnist of the Year (2000); Channel 4 Political Awards Book of the Year (2001); Channel 4 Political Awards Journalist of the Year (2003); House Magazine Awards Commentator of the Year (2008); Chair's Choice Award at the Editorial Intelligence Comment Awards (2015).

Lamenting Trump, Rawnsley wrote in the Observer last month:

'The United States has shrunk from its traditional role as exemplar of democracy and global champion of it.'

Rawnsley, of course, has been a high-profile political commentator throughout the period when Iraq, Libya and Syria have been 'championed' by the West. Regime change was ordered in Syria after the 'exemplar of democracy' had brought ungovernable chaos to Libya, which was ordered after regime change had brought ungovernable chaos to Iraq.

The fact that regime change has been attempted again in Syria, even after these twin calamities, says much about the brutality of Western power. Indeed it suggests that social collapse removing organised opposition to US machinations in the region is a deeper aim beyond even regime change.

Rawnsley is notable among political commentators for being laughably wrong when laughing at others for being laughably wrong. He wrote in April 2003:

'The war in Iraq would undo Tony Blair, they cried. It would be his Suez on the Tigris, they said. Wrong. It would be Vietnam crossed with Stalingrad. Wrong. To win the war, the Anglo-American forces could only prevail by inflicting casualties numbered in their hundreds of thousands. The more extravagantly doom-laden predictions had the deaths in millions. Wrong.' (Rawnsley, 'The voices of doom were so wrong,' The Observer, April 13, 2003)

By August 2011, even Rawnsley had to acknowledge the 'searing experiences of Afghanistan and Iraq,' above all the 'horrors of Iraq' with its 'slide into bloody anarchy'. Remarkably, this revised opinion appeared in an article that lauded the 'liberation' of Libya and mocked everyone who had been, once again, wrong:

'We were told that it would be impossible to get a UN resolution – and one was secured. We were told that Arab support would not stay solid – and, by and large, it did. We were told, as recently as 10 days ago, that the campaign was stuck in a stalemate which exposed the folly of David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy in pursuing the enterprise. So much for the wisdom of the conventional.'

This was a 'relief' for all 'who hold that democracies sometimes have both the right and the obligation to take up arms against dictators'. And after all - as in Iraq in 2003, at least in Rawnsley's mind – the price had been impressively low:

'The number of civilian casualties inflicted by the airstrikes seems to have been mercifully light... You might call it intervention-lite.'

And thank god, because 'the ideal of liberal interventionism could probably not have survived another humiliation'.

As the above suggests, one of the more dramatically dissonant cognitive collisions in the 'mainstream' involves the way elite journalists simultaneously affect world-weary, seen-it-all cynicism and post-Pollyanna naivety. Imagine the impact on Rawnsley's romantic worldview, if he read last week's report from Bloomberg business news:

'In another sign the sector is stabilizing, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and BP Plc have agreed to annual deals to buy Libyan crude.'

Newly reopened fields 'will increase the North African country's crude output by 57,000 barrels a day', although production remains well below the mouth-watering level of 1.6 million barrels a day reached before NATO's war to oust Gaddafi in 2011, described in the West as a 'no-fly zone'.

This follows equally heartening news from BP Middle East in Iraq: 'Rumaila oilfield achieves 3 billion barrel production landmark'. Achievements include:

'Production increased by more than 40% since BP joined partnership to redevelop Rumaila oilfield in 2010

'Oil production rate highest in 27 years

'Around $200 billion generated for the Iraqi economy.'

The results are impressive. As Boris Johnson would say, 'all they have to do is clear the dead bodies away'.

In 2015, the press reported that Sir John Sawers had joined BP's company board as a non-executive member. In 2003, Sawers was the British Government's Special Representative in Baghdad assisting the establishment of the Coalition Provisional Authority as the transitional government during the occupation of Iraq. A year earlier, Sawers, then ambassador to Egypt, had sent a memo that urged the government to 'clearly and consistently' state that its goal was regime change in Iraq, and asked 'how would we provide for stability after Saddam and his cronies were killed'. He added: 'All these are much more important questions than legality.'

This 'gaffe' did no harm to Sawers' career. In 2009 he was made head of MI6.

In lamenting Trump, Rawnsley offered a gesture in the direction of truth, noting that 'America' – he meant USAmerica – 'was always extremely imperfect in this role' of championing democracy around the world. The same could be said, with equal merit, of Genghis Khan.

An example of the 'imperfect' record was supplied by Julian Borger of the Guardian. Also lamenting 'the chaos of the Trump White House, Borger wrote of Obama:

'Meanwhile, the administration was criticised by both left and right for keeping US forces out of the Syrian civil war, leaving the field to Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian backers, who flattened entire cities.'

British and US forces also destroyed entire cities in Iraq and Libya without the word 'flattened' being used by Borger. It is true that the corporate 'left' criticised Obama for not launching an all-out attack on Syria – former Guardian columnist Paul Mason deemed the decision a 'Disaster!' - but authentic left voices rejected as nonsense both the criticism and the claim that the US was thereby guilty of 'leaving the field' to Assad and the Russians. The US was always very much involved. In June 2015, the Washington Post reported:

'At $1 billion, Syria-related operations account for about $1 of every $15 in the CIA's overall budget... US officials said the CIA has trained and equipped nearly 10,000 fighters sent into Syria over the past several years — meaning that the agency is spending roughly $100,000 per year for every anti-Assad rebel who has gone through the program.'

There was much more besides, of course. The US supplied 15,000 anti-tank missiles to Saudi Arabia, which the US knew were intended for the Syrian 'rebels'. The Washington Post observed:

'The U.S.-made BGM-71 TOW missiles were delivered under a two-year-old covert program coordinated between the United States and its allies to help vetted Free Syrian Army groups in their fight against President Bashar al-Assad...

'So successful have they been in driving rebel gains in northwestern Syria that rebels call the missile the "Assad Tamer," a play on the word Assad, which means lion.'

In March 2017, it was reported that Raytheon, which makes the TOW missile, had seen its stocks triple since 2012.

Western liberal commentators have ceaselessly raged at claims that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons and indiscriminate 'barrel bombs'. We are unaware of any who have dared imagine how the US government would respond to thousands of foreign troops fighting on the US mainland using 15,000 anti-tank missiles supplied by a foreign superpower to kill thousands of US troops, seriously threatening to overthrow the government. In 1945, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were vaporised without US national survival ever being at stake.

Borger cynically used 'criticism' to suggest that a mere claim was indeed the case: 'Meanwhile, the administration was criticised by both left and right...'

Similarly:

'Obama came under great criticism over Syria; for declaring that the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons would be a "red line" for US military action, and then failing that test by not striking after a mass-casualty chemical attack in August 2013.'

In fact, Obama 'came under great criticism' for imagining that he had the right to declare a 'red line' at all, and then for falsely claiming he had conclusive evidence that Assad had ordered a mass-casualty chemical attack.

Borger's use of 'criticism' gave the impression that he had covered the full range of views, for and against, when in fact he had filtered out the criticism that mattered.

These endless reassurances of benevolent Western intent – 'we' sometimes get it wrong, but 'we' do support freedom where 'we' can, and cannot stand idly by while people suffer – are absurd, embarrassing, but lethally effective.

People like to believe well of their governments and the claims are largely uncontested, repeated all over the media, and thereby seem to be based on some kind of reality. The terrible consequence of this, however, is that it allows politicians and journalists to appear credible when they claim 'humanitarian concern' about events taking place in countries on the West's list of Official Enemies. Anyone challenging this alleged benevolent concern is instantly shouted down as a brutal cynic, as an 'apologist' for the target of Western 'intervention'.

The deeper point here is that the refusal of corporate media to discuss this corporate media contribution to fake news means its discussion is itself fake. And not just fake - to ignore the crucial contribution of corporate fake news to the destruction of whole countries is insane. Blanking obvious, key aspects of reality truly is a form of social insanity.

Rawnsley's amiable face has been smiling out at readers, without challenge, for decades – until now. Thanks to social media, readers are at last able to see some rational dissent – the imperial corporate commentariat is now naked. One of the up-sides to social media that the 'mainstream' cannot even discuss.

Champions Of Democracy - From Fake News To Imposed Insanity

Fim, 01/02/2018 - 09:14

Open a corporate media website on any given day and you will find someone, somewhere blaming social media for something. No claim is too absurd.

Last week, journalist Sean Williams, who writes for the New Yorker, New Republic and Wired, tweeted us in a state of high anxiety:

'I just want you to know you're ruining the national dialogue and pushing more people towards right wing populism. Really.'

Quite a claim for a project that began in Southampton's Giddy Bridge public house over a pint and a packet of cheese & onion. We replied:

'Two guys with no resources, relying solely on donations, critiquing global, multi-billion-dollar media corporations? That's crazy. All our support is on the left - people like John Pilger, Noam Chomsky and Jonathan Cook, who reject that idea completely.'

Beyond even ruining 'the national dialogue', social media are of course blamed for a tsunami of 'fake news' undermining democracy at every level. The irony of the fake news claim is that the corporate media's refusal to analyse, or even mention, its own record of spreading fake news is a prime example of how it functions as a system, not merely of deception, but of imposed insanity.

Consider the work of Andrew Rawnsley of the Observer, garlanded with British Press Awards Young Journalist of the Year (1987); What The Papers Say Columnist of the Year (2000); Channel 4 Political Awards Book of the Year (2001); Channel 4 Political Awards Journalist of the Year (2003); House Magazine Awards Commentator of the Year (2008); Chair's Choice Award at the Editorial Intelligence Comment Awards (2015).

Lamenting Trump, Rawnsley wrote in the Observer last month:

'The United States has shrunk from its traditional role as exemplar of democracy and global champion of it.'

Rawnsley, of course, has been a high-profile political commentator throughout the period when Iraq, Libya and Syria have been 'championed' by the West. Regime change was ordered in Syria after the 'exemplar of democracy' had brought ungovernable chaos to Libya, which was ordered after regime change had brought ungovernable chaos to Iraq.

The fact that regime change has been attempted again in Syria, even after these twin calamities, says much about the brutality of Western power. Indeed it suggests that social collapse removing organised opposition to US machinations in the region is a deeper aim beyond even regime change.

Rawnsley is notable among political commentators for being laughably wrong when laughing at others for being laughably wrong. He wrote in April 2003:

'The war in Iraq would undo Tony Blair, they cried. It would be his Suez on the Tigris, they said. Wrong. It would be Vietnam crossed with Stalingrad. Wrong. To win the war, the Anglo-American forces could only prevail by inflicting casualties numbered in their hundreds of thousands. The more extravagantly doom-laden predictions had the deaths in millions. Wrong.' (Rawnsley, 'The voices of doom were so wrong,' The Observer, April 13, 2003)

By August 2011, even Rawnsley had to acknowledge the 'searing experiences of Afghanistan and Iraq,' above all the 'horrors of Iraq' with its 'slide into bloody anarchy'. Remarkably, this revised opinion appeared in an article that lauded the 'liberation' of Libya and mocked everyone who had been, once again, wrong:

'We were told that it would be impossible to get a UN resolution – and one was secured. We were told that Arab support would not stay solid – and, by and large, it did. We were told, as recently as 10 days ago, that the campaign was stuck in a stalemate which exposed the folly of David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy in pursuing the enterprise. So much for the wisdom of the conventional.'

This was a 'relief' for all 'who hold that democracies sometimes have both the right and the obligation to take up arms against dictators'. And after all - as in Iraq in 2003, at least in Rawnsley's mind – the price had been impressively low:

'The number of civilian casualties inflicted by the airstrikes seems to have been mercifully light... You might call it intervention-lite.'

And thank god, because 'the ideal of liberal interventionism could probably not have survived another humiliation'.

As the above suggests, one of the more dramatically dissonant cognitive collisions in the 'mainstream' involves the way elite journalists simultaneously affect world-weary, seen-it-all cynicism and post-Pollyanna naivety. Imagine the impact on Rawnsley's romantic worldview, if he read last week's report from Bloomberg business news:

'In another sign the sector is stabilizing, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and BP Plc have agreed to annual deals to buy Libyan crude.'

Newly reopened fields 'will increase the North African country's crude output by 57,000 barrels a day', although production remains well below the mouth-watering level of 1.6 million barrels a day reached before NATO's war to oust Gaddafi in 2011, described in the West as a 'no-fly zone'.

This follows equally heartening news from BP Middle East in Iraq: 'Rumaila oilfield achieves 3 billion barrel production landmark'. Achievements include:

'Production increased by more than 40% since BP joined partnership to redevelop Rumaila oilfield in 2010

'Oil production rate highest in 27 years

'Around $200 billion generated for the Iraqi economy.'

The results are impressive. As Boris Johnson would say, 'all they have to do is clear the dead bodies away'.

In 2015, the press reported that Sir John Sawers had joined BP's company board as a non-executive member. In 2003, Sawers was the British Government's Special Representative in Baghdad assisting the establishment of the Coalition Provisional Authority as the transitional government during the occupation of Iraq. A year earlier, Sawers, then ambassador to Egypt, had sent a memo that urged the government to 'clearly and consistently' state that its goal was regime change in Iraq, and asked 'how would we provide for stability after Saddam and his cronies were killed'. He added: 'All these are much more important questions than legality.'

This 'gaffe' did no harm to Sawers' career. In 2009 he was made head of MI6.

In lamenting Trump, Rawnsley offered a gesture in the direction of truth, noting that 'America' – he meant USAmerica – 'was always extremely imperfect in this role' of championing democracy around the world. The same could be said, with equal merit, of Genghis Khan.

An example of the 'imperfect' record was supplied by Julian Borger of the Guardian. Also lamenting 'the chaos of the Trump White House, Borger wrote of Obama:

'Meanwhile, the administration was criticised by both left and right for keeping US forces out of the Syrian civil war, leaving the field to Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian backers, who flattened entire cities.'

British and US forces also destroyed entire cities in Iraq and Libya without the word 'flattened' being used by Borger. It is true that the corporate 'left' criticised Obama for not launching an all-out attack on Syria – former Guardian columnist Paul Mason deemed the decision a 'Disaster!' - but authentic left voices rejected as nonsense both the criticism and the claim that the US was thereby guilty of 'leaving the field' to Assad and the Russians. The US was always very much involved. In June 2015, the Washington Post reported:

'At $1 billion, Syria-related operations account for about $1 of every $15 in the CIA's overall budget... US officials said the CIA has trained and equipped nearly 10,000 fighters sent into Syria over the past several years — meaning that the agency is spending roughly $100,000 per year for every anti-Assad rebel who has gone through the program.'

There was much more besides, of course. The US supplied 15,000 anti-tank missiles to Saudi Arabia, which the US knew were intended for the Syrian 'rebels'. The Washington Post observed:

'The U.S.-made BGM-71 TOW missiles were delivered under a two-year-old covert program coordinated between the United States and its allies to help vetted Free Syrian Army groups in their fight against President Bashar al-Assad...

'So successful have they been in driving rebel gains in northwestern Syria that rebels call the missile the "Assad Tamer," a play on the word Assad, which means lion.'

In March 2017, it was reported that Raytheon, which makes the TOW missile, had seen its stocks triple since 2012.

Western liberal commentators have ceaselessly raged at claims that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons and indiscriminate 'barrel bombs'. We are unaware of any who have dared imagine how the US government would respond to thousands of foreign troops fighting on the US mainland using 15,000 anti-tank missiles supplied by a foreign superpower to kill thousands of US troops, seriously threatening to overthrow the government. In 1945, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were vaporised without US national survival ever being at stake.

Borger cynically used 'criticism' to suggest that a mere claim was indeed the case: 'Meanwhile, the administration was criticised by both left and right...'

Similarly:

'Obama came under great criticism over Syria; for declaring that the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons would be a "red line" for US military action, and then failing that test by not striking after a mass-casualty chemical attack in August 2013.'

In fact, Obama 'came under great criticism' for imagining that he had the right to declare a 'red line' at all, and then for falsely claiming he had conclusive evidence that Assad had ordered a mass-casualty chemical attack.

Borger's use of 'criticism' gave the impression that he had covered the full range of views, for and against, when in fact he had filtered out the criticism that mattered.

These endless reassurances of benevolent Western intent – 'we' sometimes get it wrong, but 'we' do support freedom where 'we' can, and cannot stand idly by while people suffer – are absurd, embarrassing, but lethally effective.

People like to believe well of their governments and the claims are largely uncontested, repeated all over the media, and thereby seem to be based on some kind of reality. The terrible consequence of this, however, is that it allows politicians and journalists to appear credible when they claim 'humanitarian concern' about events taking place in countries on the West's list of Official Enemies. Anyone challenging this alleged benevolent concern is instantly shouted down as a brutal cynic, as an 'apologist' for the target of Western 'intervention'.

The deeper point here is that the refusal of corporate media to discuss this corporate media contribution to fake news means its discussion is itself fake. And not just fake - to ignore the crucial contribution of corporate fake news to the destruction of whole countries is insane. Blanking obvious, key aspects of reality truly is a form of social insanity.

Rawnsley's amiable face has been smiling out at readers, without challenge, for decades – until now. Thanks to social media, readers are at last able to see some rational dissent – the imperial corporate commentariat is now naked. One of the up-sides to social media that the 'mainstream' cannot even discuss.

A Liberal Pillar Of The Establishment – ‘New Look’ Guardian, Old-Style Orthodoxy

Fim, 18/01/2018 - 09:21

As Noam Chomsky has often remarked: 'liberal bias is extremely important in a sophisticated system of propaganda.' One major news outlet that Chomsky had in mind was the New York Times, but the same applies in the UK. As a senior British intelligence official noted of the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan:

'It is always helpful for governments who want to get the Guardian readers of the world on board to have a humanitarian logic.'

This suggests that respected liberal media like the New York Times and Guardian are key battlegrounds in the relentless elite efforts to control public opinion.

On January 15, the Guardian was relaunched as a tabloid with a 'new look'. Katharine Viner, the paper's editor, proclaimed in all seriousness:

'we have a special relationship with our readers. This relationship is not just about the news; it's about a shared sense of purpose and a commitment to understand and illuminate our times. We feel a deep sense of duty and responsibility to our readers to honour the trust you place in us.'

Those words - 'shared sense of purpose and commitment', 'duty', 'responsibility', 'honour', 'trust' - imply an openness to readers' comments, even to criticism; an important point to which we return below.

Viner continued:

'We have grounded our new editions in the qualities readers value most in Guardian journalism: clarity, in a world where facts should be sacred but are too often overlooked; imagination, in an age in which people yearn for new ideas and fresh alternatives to the way things are.'

The grand declaration to honour the yearning of its readers 'for new ideas and fresh alternatives to the way things are' rings hollow. This, after all, is a paper that fought tooth-and-nail against Jeremy Corbyn. As Rob Newton pointed out via Twitter, linking to a lengthy series of screenshots featuring negative Guardian coverage:

'The "left liberal" Guardian's campaign against @JeremyCorbyn was as relentless as the right-wing Daily Mail & The Sun. Here's the proof'

Vacuous phrases continued to pour forth from the editor on the 'new look' paper:

'Guardian journalism itself will remain what it has always been: thoughtful, progressive, fiercely independent and challenging; and also witty, stylish and fun.'

'Fiercely independent and challenging'? When the Guardian Media Group is owned by The Scott Trust Limited, a 'profit-seeking enterprise'? (In other words, it is not a non-profit trust, with many readers still mistakenly holding a romantic vision of benign ownership.) When the paper is thus owned and run by an elite group of individuals with links to banking, insurance, advertising, multinational consumer goods, telecommunications, information technology, venture investment, corporate media, marketing services and other sectors of the establishment? When the paper remains dependent on advertising revenue from corporate interests, despite the boast that 'we now receive more income from our readers than we do from advertisers'. When the paper has actually ditched journalists who have been 'fiercely independent and challenging'?

However, it is certainly true that the Guardian 'will remain what it has always been': a liberal pillar of the establishment; a gatekeeper of 'acceptable' news and comment. 'Thus far, and no further', to use Chomsky's phrase. But, as mentioned, the Guardian will not go even as far in the political spectrum as Corbyn: a traditional left Labour figure, rather than a radical socialist proclaiming 'Revolution!' or an anarchist itching to bring down global capitalism.

Meanwhile, readers can expect the 'new look' Guardian to continue its attacks on Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, such as the recent smear piece by ex-Guardian journalist James Ball that began scurrilously:

'According to Debrett's, the arbiters of etiquette since 1769: "Visitors, like fish, stink in three days." Given this, it's difficult to imagine what Ecuador's London embassy smells like, more than five-and-a-half years after Julian Assange moved himself into the confines of the small flat in Knightsbridge, just across the road from Harrods.'

Ball went on, dripping more poison:

'Today, most of those who still support Assange are hard-right nationalists – with many seeing him as a supporter of the style of politics of both Trump and Vladimir Putin.'

When we challenged Ball via Twitter for evidence of these foolish claims, he was unable to provide any. His facile response was:

'The WikiLeaks twitter feed is a pretty good start tbh [to be honest]'

That Katharine Viner's Guardian would happily publish such crude propaganda in an ostensibly 'serious' column speaks volumes about the paper's tumbling credibility as well as conformity to power.

No doubt, too, this liberal 'newspaper' will continue to boost Tony Blair, the war criminal whose hands are indelibly stained with the blood of over one million people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere. But, for the Guardian, he will forever be a flawed hero, someone they have worked hard to rehabilitate in recent years, constantly seeking out his views and pushing him as a respectable elder statesman whose voice the public still needs to hear.

The essence of the Guardian was summed up by satirical comedian reporter Jonathan Pie on the day of the relaunch:

'New design. Same old virtue signalling, identity politics obsessed, champagne socialism (minus the socialism), barely concealed contempt for the working classes bullshit I presume though.'

A Liberal Pillar Of The Establishment – ‘New Look’ Guardian, Old-Style Orthodoxy

Fim, 18/01/2018 - 09:21

As Noam Chomsky has often remarked: 'liberal bias is extremely important in a sophisticated system of propaganda.' One major news outlet that Chomsky had in mind was the New York Times, but the same applies in the UK. As a senior British intelligence official noted of the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan:

'It is always helpful for governments who want to get the Guardian readers of the world on board to have a humanitarian logic.'

This suggests that respected liberal media like the New York Times and Guardian are key battlegrounds in the relentless elite efforts to control public opinion.

On January 15, the Guardian was relaunched as a tabloid with a 'new look'. Katharine Viner, the paper's editor, proclaimed in all seriousness:

'we have a special relationship with our readers. This relationship is not just about the news; it's about a shared sense of purpose and a commitment to understand and illuminate our times. We feel a deep sense of duty and responsibility to our readers to honour the trust you place in us.'

Those words - 'shared sense of purpose and commitment', 'duty', 'responsibility', 'honour', 'trust' - imply an openness to readers' comments, even to criticism; an important point to which we return below.

Viner continued:

'We have grounded our new editions in the qualities readers value most in Guardian journalism: clarity, in a world where facts should be sacred but are too often overlooked; imagination, in an age in which people yearn for new ideas and fresh alternatives to the way things are.'

The grand declaration to honour the yearning of its readers 'for new ideas and fresh alternatives to the way things are' rings hollow. This, after all, is a paper that fought tooth-and-nail against Jeremy Corbyn. As Rob Newton pointed out via Twitter, linking to a lengthy series of screenshots featuring negative Guardian coverage:

'The "left liberal" Guardian's campaign against @JeremyCorbyn was as relentless as the right-wing Daily Mail & The Sun. Here's the proof'

Vacuous phrases continued to pour forth from the editor on the 'new look' paper:

'Guardian journalism itself will remain what it has always been: thoughtful, progressive, fiercely independent and challenging; and also witty, stylish and fun.'

'Fiercely independent and challenging'? When the Guardian Media Group is owned by The Scott Trust Limited, a 'profit-seeking enterprise'? (In other words, it is not a non-profit trust, with many readers still mistakenly holding a romantic vision of benign ownership.) When the paper is thus owned and run by an elite group of individuals with links to banking, insurance, advertising, multinational consumer goods, telecommunications, information technology, venture investment, corporate media, marketing services and other sectors of the establishment? When the paper remains dependent on advertising revenue from corporate interests, despite the boast that 'we now receive more income from our readers than we do from advertisers'. When the paper has actually ditched journalists who have been 'fiercely independent and challenging'?

However, it is certainly true that the Guardian 'will remain what it has always been': a liberal pillar of the establishment; a gatekeeper of 'acceptable' news and comment. 'Thus far, and no further', to use Chomsky's phrase. But, as mentioned, the Guardian will not go even as far in the political spectrum as Corbyn: a traditional left Labour figure, rather than a radical socialist proclaiming 'Revolution!' or an anarchist itching to bring down global capitalism.

Meanwhile, readers can expect the 'new look' Guardian to continue its attacks on Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, such as the recent smear piece by ex-Guardian journalist James Ball that began scurrilously:

'According to Debrett's, the arbiters of etiquette since 1769: "Visitors, like fish, stink in three days." Given this, it's difficult to imagine what Ecuador's London embassy smells like, more than five-and-a-half years after Julian Assange moved himself into the confines of the small flat in Knightsbridge, just across the road from Harrods.'

Ball went on, dripping more poison:

'Today, most of those who still support Assange are hard-right nationalists – with many seeing him as a supporter of the style of politics of both Trump and Vladimir Putin.'

When we challenged Ball via Twitter for evidence of these foolish claims, he was unable to provide any. His facile response was:

'The WikiLeaks twitter feed is a pretty good start tbh [to be honest]'

That Katharine Viner's Guardian would happily publish such crude propaganda in an ostensibly 'serious' column speaks volumes about the paper's tumbling credibility as well as conformity to power.

No doubt, too, this liberal 'newspaper' will continue to boost Tony Blair, the war criminal whose hands are indelibly stained with the blood of over one million people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere. But, for the Guardian, he will forever be a flawed hero, someone they have worked hard to rehabilitate in recent years, constantly seeking out his views and pushing him as a respectable elder statesman whose voice the public still needs to hear.

The essence of the Guardian was summed up by satirical comedian reporter Jonathan Pie on the day of the relaunch:

'New design. Same old virtue signalling, identity politics obsessed, champagne socialism (minus the socialism), barely concealed contempt for the working classes bullshit I presume though.'

Untouchable - The Uses And Misuses Of ‘Genocide Denial’

Þri, 05/12/2017 - 10:18
  Introduction

One of the wonders of contemporary propaganda is the extent to which corporate commentators are in denial about their use of the term 'genocide denial'. Clearly, they believe they are using a neutral, objective term to describe indisputable facts of genocidal killing and ugly refusals to recognise those facts.

The delusion is quickly exposed when we ask a few simple questions. For example: how often do we see 'mainstream' commentators describing US-UK sanctions on Iraq from 1990-2003 as 'genocidal', as affirmed by senior UN diplomats? How often do journalists describe supporters of the devastating Bush-Blair war on Iraq, the Obama-Cameron war on Libya, or May's war on Yemen as 'genocide deniers'? Can we imagine someone who supported the war on Libya being called an 'Obama apologist'?

Like 'terror' and 'terrorism', 'genocide' and 'genocide denial' are simply not terms that are applied to Western actions.

This really awesome level of bias points to the reality that 'genocide denial' is a propaganda term overwhelmingly used to portray Official Enemies as morally and intellectually despicable, in fact untouchable. As used in the 'mainstream', the term is antirational, an attack on honest debate.

 

'Push Forward On Chomsky'

Relentlessly directed at key voices on the left, like Noam Chomsky, Edward Herman and John Pilger, the real target is the public. 'Genocide denial' has been deployed by Western equivalents of so-called 'Russian bots' to deter people from even considering, much less sharing and supporting, dissident arguments that threaten the goals of established power. Ironically, then, 'genocide denial' is most often used to defend an extremely violent and exploitative status quo.

On the Mondoweiss website, Theodore Sayeed discussed a leaked memo of a meeting of the Henry Jackson Society from November 2005:

'One of the items on the minutes, listed prominently in fourth place, was to discredit Chomsky. Their tack was to allege that he is a "denier" of the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia. In the art of controversy, slapping the label "denier" on someone is meant to evoke the Holocaust. Chomsky, the furtive charge proceeds, is a kind of Nazi.'

Sayeed assessed the credibility of the claim:

'The only conclusion possible after surveying the material is that the evidence for this "denial" has all the merits of the evidence for chastity in a brothel.'

He added:

'The task of getting this slur into circulation was delegated to Marko Attila Hoare and Oliver Kamm. Among the papers chosen to carry the charge were the Guardian, the Times and the Spectator magazine. The individuals to be approached were then Independent columnist Johann Hari, former political editor of the Spectator Bruce Anderson, and the leader of the Muslim Council of Britain at the time, Sir Iqbal Sacranie. The memo, written in shorthand, states:

'Push forward on Chomsky / Srebrenica issue: Approach Guardian, Johann Hari, Bruce Anderson, THES, Spectator. Approach Sacranie and ask what he is to do about it. (Marko: coordinate with Oliver Kamm) Marko Atilla Hoare outlines the Chomsky case in the Guardian. In effect, this newspaper endorses genocide denial. Gideon Mailer mentions Jonathan Steel's piece in the Guardian also. It was agreed that Marko Atilla Hoare would get in touch with Iqbal Sacranie (for example) and ask what can be done about the denial of genocide against Muslims in Europe during the Balkan wars. It was also thought that this should be mentioned to Johann Hari and the THES.'

As Sayeed noted, 'genocide denial' is intended to present the target as 'a kind of Nazi'. The logic is crude but hidden: Holocaust denial is, of course, widely reviled as the product of minds so poisoned by racist hatred that they reject even obvious truth. Use of the word 'denial' is intended to invite the public to take a mental leap from 'genocide denial' to 'Holocaust denial', thereby tarring left dissidents with the same brush, rendering them intellectually illegitimate in the same way.

Sometimes the connection is made explicit. The same Oliver Kamm of The Times who featured in the Henry Jackson Society memo, wrote of us:

'The stuff [by Chomsky and Herman] that they find so impressive is not merely the moral equivalent of Holocaust denial: it is the methodological equivalent too, using literally the same techniques.'

This was 'literally' nonsense. But anyway, Kamm's real purpose was to suggest that we were morally and intellectually 'the same' as, 'equivalent' to, fascist Holocaust deniers. He has also written of us: 'Genocide denial is the organisation's orthodoxy.'

This use of 'genocide denial' is fundamentally antirational because it declares, not just that a particular argument is illegitimate, but that the particular person making the argument is illegitimate and should be shunned. The focus is on the intellectual and moral integrity of the targeted individual.

Thus, despite privately sending us numerous, oddly amiable emails over the years - beginning, for example, 'Hello, gents' (Email, September 16, 2017) - Kamm has repeatedly and publicly refused to debate with us on the grounds that we are 'genocide deniers':

'It's extraordinary that you consider you're entitled to be treated attentively, or conversed with at all, when you [engage in genocide denial]... Not with any reputable person, you're not.' (This comment was originally posted under an interview with us on the New Internationalist website, but is now unavailable)

The Kafkaesque logic was as comical as it was closed: Kamm described us as 'genocide deniers', but would not discuss the arguments for and against so labelling us. Why? Because we were 'genocide deniers'.

We dealt with Kamm's claims against us here. He has directed similar accusations at the journalist Neil Clark by whom he is currently being sued for stalking, harassment and defamation.

Consider, also, the complete redundancy of the term. In 2006, there was a good case for using the second Lancet study, which estimated 655,000 Iraqi civilian and combatant deaths as a result of the 2003 war, to challenge Iraq Body Count's (then) toll of 49,000 violent civilian deaths.

While one could certainly compare and contrast the competing methodologies and findings of IBC and Lancet, as we did, nothing at all would have been added by describing people engaged in the debate as 'genocide deniers'. The term adds nothing to a rational discussion. Quite the reverse, it actually demands that the argument is already settled. Indeed, as we have seen, it smears the 'denier' as morally debased, as beyond the pale, precisely because he or she is willing to debate an issue that is declared beyond doubt by all right-thinking people.

So, again, it is important to emphasise that the term is anti-intellectual and in fact an attack on rational discourse – it is an attempt to shut down debate.

Untouchable - The Uses And Misuses Of ‘Genocide Denial’

Þri, 05/12/2017 - 10:18
  Introduction

One of the wonders of contemporary propaganda is the extent to which corporate commentators are in denial about their use of the term 'genocide denial'. Clearly, they believe they are using a neutral, objective term to describe indisputable facts of genocidal killing and ugly refusals to recognise those facts.

The delusion is quickly exposed when we ask a few simple questions. For example: how often do we see 'mainstream' commentators describing US-UK sanctions on Iraq from 1990-2003 as 'genocidal', as affirmed by senior UN diplomats? How often do journalists describe supporters of the devastating Bush-Blair war on Iraq, the Obama-Cameron war on Libya, or May's war on Yemen as 'genocide deniers'? Can we imagine someone who supported the war on Libya being called an 'Obama apologist'?

Like 'terror' and 'terrorism', 'genocide' and 'genocide denial' are simply not terms that are applied to Western actions.

This really awesome level of bias points to the reality that 'genocide denial' is a propaganda term overwhelmingly used to portray Official Enemies as morally and intellectually despicable, in fact untouchable. As used in the 'mainstream', the term is antirational, an attack on honest debate.

 

'Push Forward On Chomsky'

Relentlessly directed at key voices on the left, like Noam Chomsky, Edward Herman and John Pilger, the real target is the public. 'Genocide denial' has been deployed by Western equivalents of so-called 'Russian bots' to deter people from even considering, much less sharing and supporting, dissident arguments that threaten the goals of established power. Ironically, then, 'genocide denial' is most often used to defend an extremely violent and exploitative status quo.

On the Mondoweiss website, Theodore Sayeed discussed a leaked memo of a meeting of the Henry Jackson Society from November 2005:

'One of the items on the minutes, listed prominently in fourth place, was to discredit Chomsky. Their tack was to allege that he is a "denier" of the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia. In the art of controversy, slapping the label "denier" on someone is meant to evoke the Holocaust. Chomsky, the furtive charge proceeds, is a kind of Nazi.'

Sayeed assessed the credibility of the claim:

'The only conclusion possible after surveying the material is that the evidence for this "denial" has all the merits of the evidence for chastity in a brothel.'

He added:

'The task of getting this slur into circulation was delegated to Marko Attila Hoare and Oliver Kamm. Among the papers chosen to carry the charge were the Guardian, the Times and the Spectator magazine. The individuals to be approached were then Independent columnist Johann Hari, former political editor of the Spectator Bruce Anderson, and the leader of the Muslim Council of Britain at the time, Sir Iqbal Sacranie. The memo, written in shorthand, states:

'Push forward on Chomsky / Srebrenica issue: Approach Guardian, Johann Hari, Bruce Anderson, THES, Spectator. Approach Sacranie and ask what he is to do about it. (Marko: coordinate with Oliver Kamm) Marko Atilla Hoare outlines the Chomsky case in the Guardian. In effect, this newspaper endorses genocide denial. Gideon Mailer mentions Jonathan Steel's piece in the Guardian also. It was agreed that Marko Atilla Hoare would get in touch with Iqbal Sacranie (for example) and ask what can be done about the denial of genocide against Muslims in Europe during the Balkan wars. It was also thought that this should be mentioned to Johann Hari and the THES.'

As Sayeed noted, 'genocide denial' is intended to present the target as 'a kind of Nazi'. The logic is crude but hidden: Holocaust denial is, of course, widely reviled as the product of minds so poisoned by racist hatred that they reject even obvious truth. Use of the word 'denial' is intended to invite the public to take a mental leap from 'genocide denial' to 'Holocaust denial', thereby tarring left dissidents with the same brush, rendering them intellectually illegitimate in the same way.

Sometimes the connection is made explicit. The same Oliver Kamm of The Times who featured in the Henry Jackson Society memo, wrote of us:

'The stuff [by Chomsky and Herman] that they find so impressive is not merely the moral equivalent of Holocaust denial: it is the methodological equivalent too, using literally the same techniques.'

This was 'literally' nonsense. But anyway, Kamm's real purpose was to suggest that we were morally and intellectually 'the same' as, 'equivalent' to, fascist Holocaust deniers. He has also written of us: 'Genocide denial is the organisation's orthodoxy.'

This use of 'genocide denial' is fundamentally antirational because it declares, not just that a particular argument is illegitimate, but that the particular person making the argument is illegitimate and should be shunned. The focus is on the intellectual and moral integrity of the targeted individual.

Thus, despite privately sending us numerous, oddly amiable emails over the years - beginning, for example, 'Hello, gents' (Email, September 16, 2017) - Kamm has repeatedly and publicly refused to debate with us on the grounds that we are 'genocide deniers':

'It's extraordinary that you consider you're entitled to be treated attentively, or conversed with at all, when you [engage in genocide denial]... Not with any reputable person, you're not.' (This comment was originally posted under an interview with us on the New Internationalist website, but is now unavailable)

The Kafkaesque logic was as comical as it was closed: Kamm described us as 'genocide deniers', but would not discuss the arguments for and against so labelling us. Why? Because we were 'genocide deniers'.

We dealt with Kamm's claims against us here. He has directed similar accusations at the journalist Neil Clark by whom he is currently being sued for stalking, harassment and defamation.

Consider, also, the complete redundancy of the term. In 2006, there was a good case for using the second Lancet study, which estimated 655,000 Iraqi civilian and combatant deaths as a result of the 2003 war, to challenge Iraq Body Count's (then) toll of 49,000 violent civilian deaths.

While one could certainly compare and contrast the competing methodologies and findings of IBC and Lancet, as we did, nothing at all would have been added by describing people engaged in the debate as 'genocide deniers'. The term adds nothing to a rational discussion. Quite the reverse, it actually demands that the argument is already settled. Indeed, as we have seen, it smears the 'denier' as morally debased, as beyond the pale, precisely because he or she is willing to debate an issue that is declared beyond doubt by all right-thinking people.

So, again, it is important to emphasise that the term is anti-intellectual and in fact an attack on rational discourse – it is an attempt to shut down debate.

Survival? Symptoms Of Breakdown

Mið, 22/11/2017 - 12:51

If the human species survives long enough, future historians might well marvel at what passed for 'mainstream' media and politics in the early 21st century.

They will see that a UK Defence Secretary had to resign because of serious allegations of sexual misconduct; or, as he put it euphemistically, because he had 'fallen short'. But he did not have to resign because of the immense misery he had helped to inflict upon Yemen. Nor was he made to resign when he told MPs to stop criticising Saudi Arabia because that would be 'unhelpful' while the UK government was trying to sell the human rights-abusing extremist regime in Riyadh more fighter jets and weapons. After all, the amount sold in the first half of 2017 was a mere £1.1 billion. (See our recent media alert for more on this.) Right now, the UK is complicit in a Saudi blockade of Yemen's ports and airspace, preventing the delivery of vital medicine and food aid. 7.3 million Yemenis are already on the brink of famine, and the World Food Programme has warned of the deaths of 150,000 malnourished children in the next few months.

Meanwhile, Robert Peston, ITV political editor, and Laura Kuenssberg, BBC News political editor, have seemingly never questioned the British Prime Minister Theresa May about the UK's shameful role in arming and supporting Yemen's cruel tormentor. Nor have they responded when challenged about their own silence.

Future historians will also note that British newspapers, notably The Times and the 'left-leaning' Guardian, published several sycophantic PR pieces for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 'a risk-taker with a zeal for reform'. 'Is he taking on too much too fast?', asked a swooning Patrick Wintour, the Guardian's diplomatic editor. Martin Chulov, the paper's Middle East correspondent, waxed lyrical about the Crown Prince's 'bold move' in arresting senior royals, a prominent Saudi billionaire and scores of former ministers as part of a 'corruption purge'. The dramatic action was designed to 'consolidate power' while bin Salman 'attempts to reform [the] kingdom's economy and society'. As Adam Johnson noted in a media analysis piece for Fairness in Accuracy And Reporting, the Guardian's coverage was akin to a 'breathless press release.' A follow-up article by Chulov, observed Johnson, 'took flattering coverage to new extremes'. The 'rush to reform' was presented uncritically by the paper, painting the Crown Prince as a kind of populist hero; 'a curious framing that reeks more of PR than journalism.'

Meanwhile, Richard Spencer, Middle East editor of The Times, wrote articles proclaiming, 'Prince's bold vision drives progress in Saudi Arabia' and 'It's wrong to blame all terror on the Saudis', featuring such propaganda bullet points as:

'the Saudis are on our side, arresting militants and giving us vital intelligence'.

In October 2017, The Times even ran a four-part series promoting a Saudi conference to attract investment in the head-chopping kingdom with the lure of 'sweeping social and economic reforms'. As for any awkward questions about the brutality Saudi Arabia was inflicting on Yemen, well, they were swept away.

Historians examining media archives from this time will also observe that Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer in Tony Blair's government, opined that the UK had been 'misled' about Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction:

'Top-secret US intelligence casting serious doubt over [Saddam Hussein's] destructive capabilities was not shared with Britain.'

As a result, claimed Brown, Blair was 'duped' into invading Iraq. And thus 'duped' into shared responsibility for the deaths of around one million Iraqis.

'Mainstream' news journalists blandly reported Brown's miserable excuses without demur. They failed to mention that former UN chief weapons inspector Scott Ritter had comprehensively dismissed the propaganda notion of Saddam as a threat well before the US-led invasion of March 2003. Ritter's team had concluded that Iraq had been 'fundamentally disarmed', with anything that remained being simply 'useless sludge' because of the limited 'shelf-lives' of chemical and biological weapons. This crucial information was already available by October 2002, five months before the invasion, in a handy short book that somehow 'escaped' the attention of the British government, including Brown, and that of a compliant corporate media that broadcast endless Western propaganda.

Nevertheless, millions of people around the world marched against the Iraq war before it began, because they did not swallow the torrent of deceits emanating from Washington and London. Brown, however, had always backed Blair to the hilt, telling the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war in 2010 that Blair took 'the right decision for the right reasons' and insisting that 'everything that Mr Blair did during this period, he did properly'.

Future historians will also study the media hysteria in 2017 over 'Russiagate' that focused obsessively on outraged claims of supposed pivotal Russian interference in Trump's election as US President. But, as US investigative reporter Glenn Greenwald noted:

'Inflammatory claims about Russia get mindlessly hyped by media outlets, almost always based on nothing more than evidence-free claims from government officials, only to collapse under the slightest scrutiny, because they are entirely lacking in evidence.'

Greenwald is not saying that there was definitely no Russian interference. But the 'evidence' for decisive intervention presented thus far is unconvincing, to say the least. The crucial point is that Western corporate media have only ever given minimal coverage to major longstanding US government efforts to intervene in other countries - from propaganda campaigns, meddling in foreign elections, and all the way up to assassinations, coups and full-blown invasions. A Time magazine cover story in 1996 even boasted that US interference helped Boris Yeltsin to be re-elected as president of Russia:

'Exclusive: Yanks to the Rescue. The Secret Story of How American Advisers Helped Yeltsin Win.'

The historical record will also reveal, in apparent blindness and deafness to this extensive record of US criminal behaviour, that BBC News journalists based there frequently end up gushing about the greatness of 'America'. It is a rite of passage that demonstrates their bona fides as servants of power.

It will not surprise future historians that prestigious press and broadcasting awards were given to those who reported within the limits circumscribed by established power. Such rewards were few for those who dared to expose crimes by the West or 'our' allies.

One of these 'allies', arguably the most important in the Middle East, is Israel. Earlier this month, Priti Patel resigned as Britain's minister for international aid after it had been revealed that she had had numerous secret meetings with Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while on a 'family holiday'. She had also visited an Israeli military field hospital that treats Al Qaedi-affiliated fighters. Following her trip, Patel had actually wanted to send UK aid to the powerful Israeli army, even while cutting Palestinian aid to vital projects in Gaza. The episode briefly opened 'a small, opaque window on the UK's powerful Israel lobby', observed Jonathan Cook. But the topic of the Israel lobby is seemingly taboo in polite British society. Laura Kuenssberg quickly deleted a tweet she had sent out quoting an unnamed senior Tory MP complaining about the 'corrupt' relationship that has enabled Israel to 'buy access' in Westminster.

Perhaps, then, it was no surprise that when the UN Special Rapporteur on the Occupied Territories published a strongly-worded report in New York on October 26, 2017, the resulting media silence was deafening. Michael Lynk, a Canadian professor of law and a human rights expert, called on the world to hold Israel accountable for fundamental violations of international law during fifty years of occupation. This was especially timely with the 100-year anniversary of the Balfour Declaration that effectively stole Palestine from the Palestinians who were 'ethnically cleansed' from the land that became the state of Israel.

Lynk encouraged the international community to take 'unified actions on an escalating basis' to declare the occupation illegal and to demand Israel's withdrawal. Gaza, he said, was 'in misery', and Israel's continued illegal occupation of the West Bank and east Jerusalem was a 'darkening stain'. Despite the seriousness of these charges, and their authoritative UN source, we could not find a single mention in the UK press or on the BBC News website. Scholars in the future will marvel at this stunning media obedience to Western power, obtained without visible coercion.

 

'An Existential Threat To Our Civilisation'

Undoubtedly, what will appal future historians most is that the urgent calamitous risks of human-induced climate change were well known, but that nothing was done to stop the looming chaos. Worse than that: powerful private business, financial and economic elites, and the governments they had essentially co-opted, forged ahead with policies that accelerated the climate crisis.

The evidence has already been unequivocal for many years. In November 2017, a comprehensive review of climate science by thirteen US federal agencies concluded in a 477-page report that evidence of global warming was 'stronger than ever'. They said that it was 'extremely likely' – meaning with 95 to 100% certainty – that global warming is human-induced, mostly from carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas.

One climate scientist said:

'A lot of what we've been learning over the last four years suggests the possibility that things may have been more serious than we think.'

The language was couched in typical scientific caution. But the horror at what was unfolding was surely not far from the surface of academics' minds.

And yet, in a further sign of the short-term insanity that drives state and corporate policy, governments continued to channel huge sums of public money into planet-killing industries. European states, including the UK government, gave more than €112bn (£99bn) every year in subsidies to support fossil fuel production and consumption.

In 2016, gas companies spent €104m in intensive lobbying campaigns to try to encourage European policymakers to accept the myth that natural gas is a 'clean fuel' in an attempt to 'lock in' fossil fuels for decades to come. Moreover, fossil fuel companies lobbied hard behind the scenes of the Paris climate talks, as well as follow-up negotiations, to manipulate outcomes in their private favour. After all, cynical corporate madness has no boundaries when profits are the overriding concern. Absurdly, the text of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change did not even include the words 'fossil fuels'. Scientists warned that fossil fuel burning is set to hit a record high in 2017.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that 2017 is set to be one of the top three hottest years on record, according to the World Meteorological Organization. The WMO also noted that atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide have 'surged at unprecedented speed' to the highest level in 800,000 years

The signs of ecological breakdown are all around us. Last month, a new study revealed that the abundance of flying insects has plunged by three-quarters over the past 25 years. The results had 'shocked scientists'. This matters hugely because flying insects are, of course, a vital component of a healthy ecosystem upon which we are crucially dependent for food, water and oxygen. Robert Hunziker observes succinctly that this ecosystem, 'the quintessential essence of life on our planet', is breaking down. Our life support system is being destroyed.

One of the many symptoms of this breakdown that is likely to overwhelm human society is mass migration as a result of climate change. Tens of millions of people will be forced to move because of climate disruption in the next decade alone. This flood of human refugees will make the numbers of those who fled the Syrian conflict into Europe look like a trickle.

Sir David King, the former chief scientific adviser to the UK government, said:

'What we are talking about here is an existential threat to our civilisation in the longer term. In the short term, it carries all sorts of risks as well and it requires a human response on a scale that has never been achieved before.'

However, if governments really were motivated to protect the public, as they always claim when amplifying the threat of terrorism, they would have already announced a halt to fossil fuels and a massive conversion to renewable energy. A landmark study recently showed that global pollution kills nine million people a year and threatens the 'survival of human societies'. If terrorism was killing nine million people every year, and the very survival of human society was threatened, the corporate media and politicians would be reacting very differently. But because it's global pollution, merely an economic 'externality', private power can continue on its quest for dominance and profits.

The situation now is truly desperate. We are literally talking about the survival of the human species. There will be those who declare, either with black humour or a morally-suspect flippancy, that 'the planet would be better off without us'. But we surely cannot so casually dismiss the lives and prospects of literally billions of people alive today and their descendants too.

Government policies are driven primarily by short-term political gain and corporate power, so there needs to be a massive public demand for control of the economy towards sustainability. The alternative is no human future. But just at a time when public resistance and radical action are most needed, social media networks owned and controlled by huge corporations are suppressing dissent. A major part of the struggle for human survival, then, will be to overcome the unaccountable media corporations and tech giants that are attempting to define what is deemed 'acceptable' news and commentary.

DC

Survival? Symptoms Of Breakdown

Mið, 22/11/2017 - 12:51

If the human species survives long enough, future historians might well marvel at what passed for 'mainstream' media and politics in the early 21st century.

They will see that a UK Defence Secretary had to resign because of serious allegations of sexual misconduct; or, as he put it euphemistically, because he had 'fallen short'. But he did not have to resign because of the immense misery he had helped to inflict upon Yemen. Nor was he made to resign when he told MPs to stop criticising Saudi Arabia because that would be 'unhelpful' while the UK government was trying to sell the human rights-abusing extremist regime in Riyadh more fighter jets and weapons. After all, the amount sold in the first half of 2017 was a mere £1.1 billion. (See our recent media alert for more on this.) Right now, the UK is complicit in a Saudi blockade of Yemen's ports and airspace, preventing the delivery of vital medicine and food aid. 7.3 million Yemenis are already on the brink of famine, and the World Food Programme has warned of the deaths of 150,000 malnourished children in the next few months.

Meanwhile, Robert Peston, ITV political editor, and Laura Kuenssberg, BBC News political editor, have seemingly never questioned the British Prime Minister Theresa May about the UK's shameful role in arming and supporting Yemen's cruel tormentor. Nor have they responded when challenged about their own silence.

Future historians will also note that British newspapers, notably The Times and the 'left-leaning' Guardian, published several sycophantic PR pieces for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 'a risk-taker with a zeal for reform'. 'Is he taking on too much too fast?', asked a swooning Patrick Wintour, the Guardian's diplomatic editor. Martin Chulov, the paper's Middle East correspondent, waxed lyrical about the Crown Prince's 'bold move' in arresting senior royals, a prominent Saudi billionaire and scores of former ministers as part of a 'corruption purge'. The dramatic action was designed to 'consolidate power' while bin Salman 'attempts to reform [the] kingdom's economy and society'. As Adam Johnson noted in a media analysis piece for Fairness in Accuracy And Reporting, the Guardian's coverage was akin to a 'breathless press release.' A follow-up article by Chulov, observed Johnson, 'took flattering coverage to new extremes'. The 'rush to reform' was presented uncritically by the paper, painting the Crown Prince as a kind of populist hero; 'a curious framing that reeks more of PR than journalism.'

Meanwhile, Richard Spencer, Middle East editor of The Times, wrote articles proclaiming, 'Prince's bold vision drives progress in Saudi Arabia' and 'It's wrong to blame all terror on the Saudis', featuring such propaganda bullet points as:

'the Saudis are on our side, arresting militants and giving us vital intelligence'.

In October 2017, The Times even ran a four-part series promoting a Saudi conference to attract investment in the head-chopping kingdom with the lure of 'sweeping social and economic reforms'. As for any awkward questions about the brutality Saudi Arabia was inflicting on Yemen, well, they were swept away.

Historians examining media archives from this time will also observe that Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer in Tony Blair's government, opined that the UK had been 'misled' about Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction:

'Top-secret US intelligence casting serious doubt over [Saddam Hussein's] destructive capabilities was not shared with Britain.'

As a result, claimed Brown, Blair was 'duped' into invading Iraq. And thus 'duped' into shared responsibility for the deaths of around one million Iraqis.

'Mainstream' news journalists blandly reported Brown's miserable excuses without demur. They failed to mention that former UN chief weapons inspector Scott Ritter had comprehensively dismissed the propaganda notion of Saddam as a threat well before the US-led invasion of March 2003. Ritter's team had concluded that Iraq had been 'fundamentally disarmed', with anything that remained being simply 'useless sludge' because of the limited 'shelf-lives' of chemical and biological weapons. This crucial information was already available by October 2002, five months before the invasion, in a handy short book that somehow 'escaped' the attention of the British government, including Brown, and that of a compliant corporate media that broadcast endless Western propaganda.

Nevertheless, millions of people around the world marched against the Iraq war before it began, because they did not swallow the torrent of deceits emanating from Washington and London. Brown, however, had always backed Blair to the hilt, telling the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war in 2010 that Blair took 'the right decision for the right reasons' and insisting that 'everything that Mr Blair did during this period, he did properly'.

Future historians will also study the media hysteria in 2017 over 'Russiagate' that focused obsessively on outraged claims of supposed pivotal Russian interference in Trump's election as US President. But, as US investigative reporter Glenn Greenwald noted:

'Inflammatory claims about Russia get mindlessly hyped by media outlets, almost always based on nothing more than evidence-free claims from government officials, only to collapse under the slightest scrutiny, because they are entirely lacking in evidence.'

Greenwald is not saying that there was definitely no Russian interference. But the 'evidence' for decisive intervention presented thus far is unconvincing, to say the least. The crucial point is that Western corporate media have only ever given minimal coverage to major longstanding US government efforts to intervene in other countries - from propaganda campaigns, meddling in foreign elections, and all the way up to assassinations, coups and full-blown invasions. A Time magazine cover story in 1996 even boasted that US interference helped Boris Yeltsin to be re-elected as president of Russia:

'Exclusive: Yanks to the Rescue. The Secret Story of How American Advisers Helped Yeltsin Win.'

The historical record will also reveal, in apparent blindness and deafness to this extensive record of US criminal behaviour, that BBC News journalists based there frequently end up gushing about the greatness of 'America'. It is a rite of passage that demonstrates their bona fides as servants of power.

It will not surprise future historians that prestigious press and broadcasting awards were given to those who reported within the limits circumscribed by established power. Such rewards were few for those who dared to expose crimes by the West or 'our' allies.

One of these 'allies', arguably the most important in the Middle East, is Israel. Earlier this month, Priti Patel resigned as Britain's minister for international aid after it had been revealed that she had had numerous secret meetings with Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while on a 'family holiday'. She had also visited an Israeli military field hospital that treats Al Qaedi-affiliated fighters. Following her trip, Patel had actually wanted to send UK aid to the powerful Israeli army, even while cutting Palestinian aid to vital projects in Gaza. The episode briefly opened 'a small, opaque window on the UK's powerful Israel lobby', observed Jonathan Cook. But the topic of the Israel lobby is seemingly taboo in polite British society. Laura Kuenssberg quickly deleted a tweet she had sent out quoting an unnamed senior Tory MP complaining about the 'corrupt' relationship that has enabled Israel to 'buy access' in Westminster.

Perhaps, then, it was no surprise that when the UN Special Rapporteur on the Occupied Territories published a strongly-worded report in New York on October 26, 2017, the resulting media silence was deafening. Michael Lynk, a Canadian professor of law and a human rights expert, called on the world to hold Israel accountable for fundamental violations of international law during fifty years of occupation. This was especially timely with the 100-year anniversary of the Balfour Declaration that effectively stole Palestine from the Palestinians who were 'ethnically cleansed' from the land that became the state of Israel.

Lynk encouraged the international community to take 'unified actions on an escalating basis' to declare the occupation illegal and to demand Israel's withdrawal. Gaza, he said, was 'in misery', and Israel's continued illegal occupation of the West Bank and east Jerusalem was a 'darkening stain'. Despite the seriousness of these charges, and their authoritative UN source, we could not find a single mention in the UK press or on the BBC News website. Scholars in the future will marvel at this stunning media obedience to Western power, obtained without visible coercion.

 

'An Existential Threat To Our Civilisation'

Undoubtedly, what will appal future historians most is that the urgent calamitous risks of human-induced climate change were well known, but that nothing was done to stop the looming chaos. Worse than that: powerful private business, financial and economic elites, and the governments they had essentially co-opted, forged ahead with policies that accelerated the climate crisis.

The evidence has already been unequivocal for many years. In November 2017, a comprehensive review of climate science by thirteen US federal agencies concluded in a 477-page report that evidence of global warming was 'stronger than ever'. They said that it was 'extremely likely' – meaning with 95 to 100% certainty – that global warming is human-induced, mostly from carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas.

One climate scientist said:

'A lot of what we've been learning over the last four years suggests the possibility that things may have been more serious than we think.'

The language was couched in typical scientific caution. But the horror at what was unfolding was surely not far from the surface of academics' minds.

And yet, in a further sign of the short-term insanity that drives state and corporate policy, governments continued to channel huge sums of public money into planet-killing industries. European states, including the UK government, gave more than €112bn (£99bn) every year in subsidies to support fossil fuel production and consumption.

In 2016, gas companies spent €104m in intensive lobbying campaigns to try to encourage European policymakers to accept the myth that natural gas is a 'clean fuel' in an attempt to 'lock in' fossil fuels for decades to come. Moreover, fossil fuel companies lobbied hard behind the scenes of the Paris climate talks, as well as follow-up negotiations, to manipulate outcomes in their private favour. After all, cynical corporate madness has no boundaries when profits are the overriding concern. Absurdly, the text of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change did not even include the words 'fossil fuels'. Scientists warned that fossil fuel burning is set to hit a record high in 2017.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that 2017 is set to be one of the top three hottest years on record, according to the World Meteorological Organization. The WMO also noted that atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide have 'surged at unprecedented speed' to the highest level in 800,000 years

The signs of ecological breakdown are all around us. Last month, a new study revealed that the abundance of flying insects has plunged by three-quarters over the past 25 years. The results had 'shocked scientists'. This matters hugely because flying insects are, of course, a vital component of a healthy ecosystem upon which we are crucially dependent for food, water and oxygen. Robert Hunziker observes succinctly that this ecosystem, 'the quintessential essence of life on our planet', is breaking down. Our life support system is being destroyed.

One of the many symptoms of this breakdown that is likely to overwhelm human society is mass migration as a result of climate change. Tens of millions of people will be forced to move because of climate disruption in the next decade alone. This flood of human refugees will make the numbers of those who fled the Syrian conflict into Europe look like a trickle.

Sir David King, the former chief scientific adviser to the UK government, said:

'What we are talking about here is an existential threat to our civilisation in the longer term. In the short term, it carries all sorts of risks as well and it requires a human response on a scale that has never been achieved before.'

However, if governments really were motivated to protect the public, as they always claim when amplifying the threat of terrorism, they would have already announced a halt to fossil fuels and a massive conversion to renewable energy. A landmark study recently showed that global pollution kills nine million people a year and threatens the 'survival of human societies'. If terrorism was killing nine million people every year, and the very survival of human society was threatened, the corporate media and politicians would be reacting very differently. But because it's global pollution, merely an economic 'externality', private power can continue on its quest for dominance and profits.

The situation now is truly desperate. We are literally talking about the survival of the human species. There will be those who declare, either with black humour or a morally-suspect flippancy, that 'the planet would be better off without us'. But we surely cannot so casually dismiss the lives and prospects of literally billions of people alive today and their descendants too.

Government policies are driven primarily by short-term political gain and corporate power, so there needs to be a massive public demand for control of the economy towards sustainability. The alternative is no human future. But just at a time when public resistance and radical action are most needed, social media networks owned and controlled by huge corporations are suppressing dissent. A major part of the struggle for human survival, then, will be to overcome the unaccountable media corporations and tech giants that are attempting to define what is deemed 'acceptable' news and commentary.

DC

'Inappropriate Behaviour' – Michael Fallon, Yemen, And The ‘Mainstream’ That Is Anything But

Fös, 10/11/2017 - 09:00

 

The truth of corporate journalism, and the great irony of its obsession with 'fake news', is that it is itself utterly fake. What could be more obviously fake than the idea that Truth can be sold by billionaire-owned media dependent on billionaire-owned advertisers for maximised profit?

The 'mainstream' worldview is anything but – it is extreme, weird, a product of corporate conformity and deference to power. As Norman Mailer observed:

'There is an odour to any Press Headquarters that is unmistakeable... The unavoidable smell of flesh burning quietly and slowly in the service of a machine.' (Mailer, 'The Time Of Our Time', Little Brown, 1998, p.457)

A prime example of 'mainstream' extremism is the way the UK's illegal wars destroying whole countries are not an issue for corporate moralists. Physicians for Global Responsibility estimate that 1.3 million people have been killed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan alone. And yet it is simply understood that UK wars will not be a theme during general elections (See here and here). By contrast, other kinds of 'inappropriate behaviour' are subject to intense scrutiny.

Consider the recent resignation of Defence Secretary Michael Fallon and his replacement by Prime Minister Theresa May's Chief Whip, Gavin Williamson. Fallon resigned after it was revealed that he had 'repeatedly touched the broadcaster Julia Hartley-Brewer's knee at a dinner in 2002'.

Fallon was damaged further by revelations that he had lunged at journalist Jane Merrick:

'This was not a farewell peck on the cheek, but a direct lunge at my lips.'

The Commons leader Andrea Leadsom also disclosed that she had complained about 'lewd remarks' Fallon had made to her.

Sexual harassment is a serious issue, despite the scoffing of some male commentators. In the Mail on Sunday, Peter Hitchens shamefully dismissed women's complaints as mere 'squawking'.

But it is strange indeed that, while harassment is rightly deemed a resigning offence, other 'inappropriate behaviour' leaves 'mainstream' commentators completely unmoved.

Fallon voted for both the 2003 war that destroyed Iraq and the 2011 war that wrecked Libya. He voted for war on Syria. He voted for replacing the Trident nuclear missile system. Earlier this year, he even declared that Britain would be willing to launch a nuclear first strike.

After he was made Secretary of Defence in July 2014, Fallon oversaw the supply of weapons to Saudi Arabia waging war on Yemen. Two years later, Campaign Against Arms Trade reported that UK sales to Saudi Arabia since the start of the war included £2.2 billion of aircraft, helicopters and drones, £1.1 billion of missiles, bombs and grenades, and nearly half a million pounds' worth of tanks and other armoured vehicles. British sales of military equipment to the kingdom topped £1.1bn in the first half of this year alone.

In December 2016, Fallon admitted that internationally banned cluster munitions supplied by the UK had been used in Saudi Arabia's bombing campaign. Six months earlier, Amnesty International had reported that British-made cluster bombs were being used in attacks on civilians that had claimed the lives of children. For none of these horrors did Fallon resign.

So what kind of conflict are these weapons fuelling? The Guardian reports this week:

'Yemen is in the grip of the world's worst cholera outbreak and 7 million people are already on the brink of famine.'

In July, Reliefweb reported:

'The scale of the food crisis in conflict-ridden Yemen is staggering with 17 million people - two thirds of the population - severely food insecure and seven million of these on the verge of famine.'

Director-General of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation, José Graziano da Silva, has described Yemen as the UN's 'largest humanitarian crisis today', noting that conflict and violence have disrupted agriculture, with violence intensifying in areas most short of food. In December 2016, a study by UNICEF, the UN children's agency, found that at least one child was dying in Yemen every 10 minutes. The agency found that, since 2014, there had been a 200 per cent increase in children suffering from severe acute malnutrition, with almost half a million affected. Nearly 2.2 million children were in need of urgent care.

This week, the Saudi-led coalition declared it would close Yemen's borders to prevent an alleged flow of weapons from Iran, after it intercepted a missile attack by Houthi rebels near Riyadh, the Saudi capital. Johan Mooij, Yemen director of Care International, commented:

'For the last two days, nothing has got in or out of the country. Fuel prices have gone up by 50% and there are queues at the gas stations. People fear no more fuel will come into Hodeidah port.'

He added:

'People depend on the humanitarian aid and part of the cholera issue [is] that they do not eat and are not strong enough to deal with unclean water.'

There have been 'daily airstrikes in Sana'a,' Mooij said, adding: 'People fear the situation is escalating.'

On Monday, the UN's World Food Program said that, out of Yemen's entire population of 28 million people, about 20 million, 'do not know where they're going to get their next meal'. These are Fallon's millions, May's millions, the 'mainstream's' millions.

In the Independent, Mary Dejevsky made the only mention of Yemen in an article discussing Fallon's resignation that we have seen in the national corporate press:

'In the Middle East [on Fallon's watch], the UK made great efforts to maintain its alliance with Saudi Arabia – and the arms sales that went with it – playing down the desperate plight of Yemen which was a by-product of this policy.'

Mass death, Iraq and Libya destroyed, millions of lives torn apart, profiteering in the billions from the torture of an impoverished, famine-stricken nation – none of this was deemed worthy even of mention in considering the record of Fallon and his 'inappropriate behaviour'.

As for his replacement, the Guardian's Andrew Sparrow tweeted a link to his blog piece titled: '10 things you might not know about Gavin Williamson'. Vital facts included news that the new Defence Secretary 'kept a pet tarantula called Cronus on his desk', 'likes hedgehogs', 'is only 41', and 'went to a comprehensive school'.

Sparrow was adhering to the journalistic convention that parliamentary politics should be depicted as a light-hearted, Wodehousian farce. It is all a bit of a laugh - everybody means well. Despite Williamson's lethal new role, the word 'war' was not mentioned.

Preoccupied with spiders and hedgehogs, Sparrow found no space to mention that Williamson 'almost always voted for use of UK military forces in combat operations overseas'. He voted for war in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq. He voted against the Yemen motion put before the House of Commons in October 2016 that merely called on the Government to suspend its support for the Saudi Arabia-led coalition forces in Yemen until it had been determined whether they had been responsible for war crimes. The motion was defeated by 283 votes to 193, telling us everything we need to know about the 'mainstream's' much-loved myth that British policy is motivated by a 'responsibility to protect'.

The BBC's political editor Laura Kuenssberg tweeted a link to the BBC's own comedy profile, which also discussed the tarantula and other nonsense, and made no mention of Williamson's record on war. We asked Kuenssberg:

'Will you be asking him if he has any regrets on voting against the Yemen motion to suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia, given the vast civilian crisis?'

We received no reply.

The extreme cognitive dissonance guiding 'mainstream' moral outrage was again highlighted by the Guardian columnist Gaby Hinsliff, who tweeted:

'Can't help thinking that now would be quite a good time for the first ever female defence secretary, really'

We asked:

'What difference would it make to the civilians dying under our bombs in Yemen and Syria? Isn't that the key issue on "defence"?'

Hinsliff did not reply. But the answer, of course, is that it would make no difference at all.

DE

 

 

'Inappropriate Behaviour' – Michael Fallon, Yemen, And The ‘Mainstream’ That Is Anything But

Fös, 10/11/2017 - 09:00

 

The truth of corporate journalism, and the great irony of its obsession with 'fake news', is that it is itself utterly fake. What could be more obviously fake than the idea that Truth can be sold by billionaire-owned media dependent on billionaire-owned advertisers for maximised profit?

The 'mainstream' worldview is anything but – it is extreme, weird, a product of corporate conformity and deference to power. As Norman Mailer observed:

'There is an odour to any Press Headquarters that is unmistakeable... The unavoidable smell of flesh burning quietly and slowly in the service of a machine.' (Mailer, 'The Time Of Our Time', Little Brown, 1998, p.457)

A prime example of 'mainstream' extremism is the way the UK's illegal wars destroying whole countries are not an issue for corporate moralists. Physicians for Global Responsibility estimate that 1.3 million people have been killed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan alone. And yet it is simply understood that UK wars will not be a theme during general elections (See here and here). By contrast, other kinds of 'inappropriate behaviour' are subject to intense scrutiny.

Consider the recent resignation of Defence Secretary Michael Fallon and his replacement by Prime Minister Theresa May's Chief Whip, Gavin Williamson. Fallon resigned after it was revealed that he had 'repeatedly touched the broadcaster Julia Hartley-Brewer's knee at a dinner in 2002'.

Fallon was damaged further by revelations that he had lunged at journalist Jane Merrick:

'This was not a farewell peck on the cheek, but a direct lunge at my lips.'

The Commons leader Andrea Leadsom also disclosed that she had complained about 'lewd remarks' Fallon had made to her.

Sexual harassment is a serious issue, despite the scoffing of some male commentators. In the Mail on Sunday, Peter Hitchens shamefully dismissed women's complaints as mere 'squawking'.

But it is strange indeed that, while harassment is rightly deemed a resigning offence, other 'inappropriate behaviour' leaves 'mainstream' commentators completely unmoved.

Fallon voted for both the 2003 war that destroyed Iraq and the 2011 war that wrecked Libya. He voted for war on Syria. He voted for replacing the Trident nuclear missile system. Earlier this year, he even declared that Britain would be willing to launch a nuclear first strike.

After he was made Secretary of Defence in July 2014, Fallon oversaw the supply of weapons to Saudi Arabia waging war on Yemen. Two years later, Campaign Against Arms Trade reported that UK sales to Saudi Arabia since the start of the war included £2.2 billion of aircraft, helicopters and drones, £1.1 billion of missiles, bombs and grenades, and nearly half a million pounds' worth of tanks and other armoured vehicles. British sales of military equipment to the kingdom topped £1.1bn in the first half of this year alone.

In December 2016, Fallon admitted that internationally banned cluster munitions supplied by the UK had been used in Saudi Arabia's bombing campaign. Six months earlier, Amnesty International had reported that British-made cluster bombs were being used in attacks on civilians that had claimed the lives of children. For none of these horrors did Fallon resign.

So what kind of conflict are these weapons fuelling? The Guardian reports this week:

'Yemen is in the grip of the world's worst cholera outbreak and 7 million people are already on the brink of famine.'

In July, Reliefweb reported:

'The scale of the food crisis in conflict-ridden Yemen is staggering with 17 million people - two thirds of the population - severely food insecure and seven million of these on the verge of famine.'

Director-General of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation, José Graziano da Silva, has described Yemen as the UN's 'largest humanitarian crisis today', noting that conflict and violence have disrupted agriculture, with violence intensifying in areas most short of food. In December 2016, a study by UNICEF, the UN children's agency, found that at least one child was dying in Yemen every 10 minutes. The agency found that, since 2014, there had been a 200 per cent increase in children suffering from severe acute malnutrition, with almost half a million affected. Nearly 2.2 million children were in need of urgent care.

This week, the Saudi-led coalition declared it would close Yemen's borders to prevent an alleged flow of weapons from Iran, after it intercepted a missile attack by Houthi rebels near Riyadh, the Saudi capital. Johan Mooij, Yemen director of Care International, commented:

'For the last two days, nothing has got in or out of the country. Fuel prices have gone up by 50% and there are queues at the gas stations. People fear no more fuel will come into Hodeidah port.'

He added:

'People depend on the humanitarian aid and part of the cholera issue [is] that they do not eat and are not strong enough to deal with unclean water.'

There have been 'daily airstrikes in Sana'a,' Mooij said, adding: 'People fear the situation is escalating.'

On Monday, the UN's World Food Program said that, out of Yemen's entire population of 28 million people, about 20 million, 'do not know where they're going to get their next meal'. These are Fallon's millions, May's millions, the 'mainstream's' millions.

In the Independent, Mary Dejevsky made the only mention of Yemen in an article discussing Fallon's resignation that we have seen in the national corporate press:

'In the Middle East [on Fallon's watch], the UK made great efforts to maintain its alliance with Saudi Arabia – and the arms sales that went with it – playing down the desperate plight of Yemen which was a by-product of this policy.'

Mass death, Iraq and Libya destroyed, millions of lives torn apart, profiteering in the billions from the torture of an impoverished, famine-stricken nation – none of this was deemed worthy even of mention in considering the record of Fallon and his 'inappropriate behaviour'.

As for his replacement, the Guardian's Andrew Sparrow tweeted a link to his blog piece titled: '10 things you might not know about Gavin Williamson'. Vital facts included news that the new Defence Secretary 'kept a pet tarantula called Cronus on his desk', 'likes hedgehogs', 'is only 41', and 'went to a comprehensive school'.

Sparrow was adhering to the journalistic convention that parliamentary politics should be depicted as a light-hearted, Wodehousian farce. It is all a bit of a laugh - everybody means well. Despite Williamson's lethal new role, the word 'war' was not mentioned.

Preoccupied with spiders and hedgehogs, Sparrow found no space to mention that Williamson 'almost always voted for use of UK military forces in combat operations overseas'. He voted for war in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq. He voted against the Yemen motion put before the House of Commons in October 2016 that merely called on the Government to suspend its support for the Saudi Arabia-led coalition forces in Yemen until it had been determined whether they had been responsible for war crimes. The motion was defeated by 283 votes to 193, telling us everything we need to know about the 'mainstream's' much-loved myth that British policy is motivated by a 'responsibility to protect'.

The BBC's political editor Laura Kuenssberg tweeted a link to the BBC's own comedy profile, which also discussed the tarantula and other nonsense, and made no mention of Williamson's record on war. We asked Kuenssberg:

'Will you be asking him if he has any regrets on voting against the Yemen motion to suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia, given the vast civilian crisis?'

We received no reply.

The extreme cognitive dissonance guiding 'mainstream' moral outrage was again highlighted by the Guardian columnist Gaby Hinsliff, who tweeted:

'Can't help thinking that now would be quite a good time for the first ever female defence secretary, really'

We asked:

'What difference would it make to the civilians dying under our bombs in Yemen and Syria? Isn't that the key issue on "defence"?'

Hinsliff did not reply. But the answer, of course, is that it would make no difference at all.

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