Blog Archives

Emma: is interrupting parliament really worse than failing to act on climate change?

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In December Extinction Rebellion wrote to BBC Director General Tony Hall detailing an eight-point plan of how it could play a pivotal role in the transformation to face the climate and ecological crisis:

“We issued a plea to BBC bosses to live up to their role as public service broadcasters by fully informing the public of the existential threat faced by the human race unless urgent action is taken to reduce carbon emissions” commented Sophie May from Extinction Rebellion.

On Monday April 1st, XR launched a campaign to discover whether BBC staff feel their organisation is telling the truth about the dangers from accelerating global climate breakdown. An Extinction Rebellion team visited BBC Broadcasting House in London to conduct a BBC Staff Survey – putting a series of searching questions to BBC staff on their lunch and coffee breaks.

In the evening, during the debate on the second stage of the Brexit alternatives, Extinction Rebellion activists stood semi-naked in the House of Commons public gallery to call attention to the ‘elephant in the room’ – climate and ecological crisis.”

In what may be an incomplete recording – though James politely said that he hoped the BBC would report climate changes issues more prominently the BBC Radio 5 Live interviewer, Emma Barnett (right), firmly focussed only on the protestors’ actions and not the crisis which prompted them.

James Dean from Extinction Rebellion explained that a dramatic gesture was needed because the government had ‘stuffed itself up with Brexit’ and was not dealing with more important issues which need emergency action now.

He briefly and calmly outlined ‘the awful and dangerous’ future awaiting us all unless every possible action to avert climate change is taken – referring to the increasing incidence of floods, wildfires and storms,

2018: wildfires in Australia and the United States

Emma was not distracted: she charged the protestors with a huge breach of security and risk to MPs – saying that it would be more difficult for people to visit parliament in future.

James replied that this sort of action was nothing new and cited the suffragettes, who finally achieved their ends and whose drastic actions are now admired.

Emma failed to respond to the references to climate change and once again said their action was a serious breach of security: “How can you defend that when we are being told to be careful, not to go out alone etc”.

James ended by saying that they had used a minimum disruption to make their point :

“We know that what is to come will be far worse than putting off a few hours of politicians’ discussions.”

 

 

 

 

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Media 93: MSM downplays Britain’s role in the latest Yemeni killing & the BBC omits UN experts’ charge

Today, the BBC reports that UN Group of Regional and International Eminent Experts on Yemen will present a report to the UN Human Rights Council next month. It says that the experts believe war crimes may have been committed by all parties to the conflict in Yemen.

Yemeni government forces, the Saudi-led coalition backing them, and the rebel Houthi movement have made little effort to minimise civilian casualties and there have been attacks on residential areas in which thousands have died. The warring parties are also accused of arbitrary detentions, torture, enforced disappearances and recruiting children.

But the BBC failed to mention that the Group of Experts’ report notes that coalition air strikes have caused most direct civilian casualties. The airstrikes have hit residential areas, markets, funerals, weddings, detention facilities, civilian boats and even medical facilities.

Yemenis dig graves for children in the wake of the latest air strike

Lest we forget, the remote-sounding Saudi-led coalition is supported by UK arms sales (including cluster bombs manufactured in the UK) and technical assistance.  British military personnel are complicit – deployed in the command and control centre responsible for Saudi-led air strikes on Yemen, giving access to lists of targets.

The Saudi-led coalition struck last Wednesday and Thursday. Following the attacks on Wednesday, four families in northwestern Yemen, who had decided to leave their homes to avoid such danger, were in a vehicle when airstrikes hit again.

Though Britain’s mainstream media fully reported the killings of 9th August, a search finds no reference to those on the 24th.

CNN did full justice to this atrocity, recalling also that earlier this month, a Saudi-led airstrike hit a school bus carrying scores of boys in Yemen. The attack killed 51 people, including 40 children, according to the Health Ministry. CNN has established that the bomb used in that attack was a 500-pound (227 kilogram) MK 82 bomb made by Lockheed Martin, one of the top US defence contractors.

CNN adds: “There have been growing calls in the US Congress for Saudi Arabia, a key US ally in the Middle East, to do more to prevent civilian deaths in Yemen, where three years of conflict have taken a terrible toll”.

The latest news: yesterday, Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon Correspondent, reports that the Pentagon has issued a warning to Saudi Arabia that it is prepared to reduce military and intelligence support for its campaign against rebels in neighbouring Yemen if the Saudis don’t demonstrate they are attempting to limit civilian deaths in airstrikes – adding “It is not clear if President Donald Trump, who views the Saudis as an essential ally, would agree to a reduction of support”.

 

But, like the proverbial three monkeys, the failing British government hears, sees and speaks no evil.

 

 

 

 

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Iran: Western media misreporting the demos fomented by ‘soft power’

The BBC World Service radio this morning, Radio 4’s Broadcasting House – and other mainstream media – offered distorted reporting:

  • first headlining the “iron fist” threat and repeating this several times, before acknowledging its conditionality ‘if political unrest continues’
  • and failing to focus on the far larger rallies supporting the Iranian government

They stressed that the demonstrations erupted over falling living standards, but Iranian interior minister Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazli said that those people in the larger demos realised this was due to imposed sanctions – but the BBC website chose only to report his words about the consequences of damage to public property, disrupting order and breaking the law.

The USA’s use of soft power to foment unrest has been effective with many worldwide

The use of soft power was touched on in a linked site in 2015. We quote: “Hard power is exerted by financial inducements, invasion and remote killing by drone aircraft. Soft power sounds quite benign, but as Joseph Nye points out in The Future of Power (2011, left), it can be wielded for good or ill: Hitler, Stalin, and Mao all possessed a great deal of soft power. He adds: “It is not necessarily better to twist minds than to twist arms”.

An illusion of a free society (‘liberating minds’) is presented and a consumerist culture cultivated. One actor in this drive is the Human Rights Foundation, whose approving Wikipedia entry emphasises its insistence on ‘economic freedom’. In Central and South America and the Middle East it has paved the way for the overthrow of regimes which would not co-operate.

Has it escalated in Iran after its threat to further ‘eliminate’ use of the dollar?

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said to Putin in November: “we can nullify US sanctions, using methods such as eliminating the dollar and replacing it with national currencies”. Forbes earlier reported that this policy would be implemented. Several countries have not fared well after ‘ditching the dollar’:

  • In 2002 North Korea’s state-run Korean Trade Bank announced a ban on the use of US dollars in daily payment and settlement for its citizens and foreigners.
  • In 2003 Coilin Nunan wondered: “Could one reason for the US wish for ‘regime change’ in Iraq and unprecedented European opposition to such a project be Iraq’s decision two years earlier to accept euros only as payment for its oil, instead of the customary dollars? Could America’s current focus on Iran be similarly explained?”
  • In 2004 Fidel Castro decreed that the dollar would no longer be legal for commercial transactions.

It should be stressed that the soft power illusions of total normality, freedom and prosperity are a confidence trick. The unmentioned features of the USA, a country which young Iranians and others have been led by soft power to admire as ‘an ideal state of freedom’, include pollution, child abuse, violent pornography, inequality of opportunity, youth unemployment, high cost housing and military aggression.

 

 

 

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Media 73: “Why has the BBC focussed on past tensions and scandals in NI election coverage?”

Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers Association and Farmers For Action ask why the BBC ignores constructive legislation proposals – is their sole aim to gain ratings?

They point out that the BBC should be playing its part in informing its viewers and listeners and questioning the politicians ahead of the election on what could be the biggest ever turnaround in prosperity for Northern Ireland.

One such proposal for Stormont on farm gate prices for staples would return to Northern Ireland farmers a minimum of the cost of production inflation-linked plus a margin which would lead to an estimated 20,000 jobs+ across Northern Ireland and an annual welfare saving of £280million+, much needed by the NHS, but to no avail so far.

wt4A copy of the leaflets being handed out may be seen here or by scrolling down

In the run to last year’s election and again this year NI farm groups tried to get the BBC to report the proposal with no success.

As a result the committees of both NIAPA and FFA have concluded that whilst the vast majority of political parties and independents are very supportive of this idea, rather than play their part in trying to build a prosperous future for all in Northern Ireland the BBC would rather ignore the fact that the foundations of its largest industry are crumbling and just hype up NI tensions of the past and exaggerate scandals to gain ratings.

The food supply across the world versus an increasing population is dwindling, yet NI is well placed to have a buoyant food industry. However that position is fading along with the 4-7 jobs down the line that every person working on a farm creates.  In fact, the situation is so serious that 25% of farming families are living below the poverty line and can ill afford the license fee due to the majority receiving little over half the cost of production for their produce.

The BBC is a cost to everyone in NI and has a duty to report the news good and bad: what it does not have is a licence to manipulate the news at election time to suit the ratings.

Rural poverty is on the increase and seriously impacting virtually the whole of Northern Ireland according to the recent Rural Support Report and The Gosling Report. Both reports tell how bad the situation is but go on to explain how good it could be if Stormont would implement legislation on farm gate prices.

Have the BBC lost touch of what really matters?

 

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 For more information, contact William Taylor, NI Farm Groups

56 Cashel Road, Macosquin, Coleraine, BT51 4NU

Tel. 028 703 43419 / 07909744624  Email taylor.w@btconnect.com

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Media 60: the BBC, aka the ministry for disinformation, attacks an ‘alliance of leftists and libertarians’

Analysis’ latest programme indicates that the political establishment is seriously worried about the pro-poor, anti austerity economic programme of the new Labour administration with its talented line-up of advisers which includes David Blanchflower, Thomas Piketty, Richard Murphy, Joseph Stiglitz, Ann Pettifor and Simon Wren-Lewis.

Universal Basic Income was a vehicle selected to downgrade ‘the left’ – or the Corbyn threat to vested interests.

Briefly it asserts that UBI:

  • gives the right to be idle/lazy.
  • is a bizarre idea, a Utopian daydream,
  • is gaining serious traction on the left and
  • is just the ‘flavour month for policy wonks’.

On the programme she called UBI “an idea winning support from an unlikely alliance of leftists and libertarians” and on Twitter:Universal basic income: salvation for the left or the seeds of its destruction?” Search engines find Is the left’s big new idea a ‘right to be lazy’? – BBC News.

Sonia made serious omissions – due to ignorance or strategy? Though carefully lacing the programme with references to robots, she interviewed no acknowledged experts on the subject of UBI and never referred to the widespread interest and pilot projects by governments and universities in other countries.

So who is Sonia? The invaluable Public Affairs News enlightens us

Sonia Sodha, appeared on the programme merely as the chief leader writer for the Observer. She did not tell listeners that she is employed by the establishment’s PR supremo.

As several times stated on the programme she was a policy adviser to Ed Miliband but an online search reveals that she has now joined the Westminster Policy Institute, headed by Sean Worth, a special adviser to David Cameron in Downing Street. WPI describes itself as an experienced and highly-networked team of consultants drawn from backgrounds in Downing Street, the Treasury and senior policy and media roles, providing strategic advice and hands-on support.

To compensate for the programme’s deficiencies, here is a helpful thumbnail UBI sketch on Money Week, no hotbed of the ‘loony left’, but a widely read financial magazine:

(UBI) makes all work pay by abolishing the classic trap of all means-tested benefits.

Under a universal income, there are no perverse disincentives that give people an excuse to stay at home in the face of an effective marginal tax rate of 80%.

Given that one of the main challenges of the age appears to be in-work poverty, rather than mass unemployment, a basic income system could play a significant role – especially in an age of disruptive technologies that make working lives less and less secure.

Nor is there any disincentive to prudent long-term saving – no one has their benefits stopped for having too much in the bank.

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See more about the theory of UBI here and pilot projects in the Netherlands, Canada and Finland here.

 

 

 

Secret State 15: Why did BBC helicopter footage of flooding fail to show the threatened Cumbrian nuclear installations?

Secret State 1 drew attention to a 2011 report in the Guardian showing how the business and energy departments worked closely behind the scenes with multinationals EDF Energy, Areva and Westinghouse, to try to ensure that the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident did not derail their plans for a new generation of nuclear stations in the UK.

Three years ago DEFRA reported on the nuclear sites which are at risk of flooding and coastal erosion – see Rob Edwards in the Guardian – but politicians are not facing the risks. Today’s Drigg flood alert:

env header nuclear 3 drigg flood notice

Last year, the Guardian reported that in internal Environment Agency document, suggests that it was a mistake to position the Drigg radioactive waste site close to the Cumbrian coast because of the risk of flooding. In 2013 Drigg Railway station was closed due to the flooding and the area was also affected in 2014.

Ian Parker, the Environment Agency’s group manager in Cumbria said, after detailed technical examinations: ‘It’s highly probable the coast will erode and the waste (at Drigg) will be disrupted.’

nuclear marianne kirkbyMarianne Birkby who lives in the area, has been questioning the Environment Agency and the Department of Energy and Climate Change via the Freedom of Information facility about the condition of nuclear installations in Cumbria and Lancashire.

Earlier this month, she reports that the BBC helicopter relaying images of the devastation avoided showing areas in which nuclear installations are located: Sellafield, Drigg, Lillyhall and the proposed new nuclear plant on the river Ehen floodplain, Moorside.

In her blog she asks:” Why the journalistic omission?  Why are there no questions being asked about the breaching of Cumbria’s growing number of uncontainable nuclear installations which already leach “a controlled release of radioactivity” into groundwaters, marine holding tanks and such like?”

Answer: most mainstream media, including the BBC, depend on corporate or political favour for survival and become, to varying degrees, servants of the state.

nuclear Drigg beach main

Drigg Coast (above) is a special marine protected area of conservation – ideal for housing radioactive waste?

Government websites record that it has extensive sand dunes, saltmarsh, intertidal mudflats and sandflats and estuaries. The dune wetlands support other SSSI notified features including an amphibian assemblage with great crested newt, natterjack toad and dragonfly assemblage. They also provide an important environment for reptiles, breeding birds and invertebrates. Its politically-backed corporate neighbour – Drigg radioactive waste disposal site – may be seen below:

nuclear 2 drigg repository

Successive governments have also promoted risky and polluting nuclear and waste disposal industries, encouraging mass medication of the water supply. The current administration has permitted the latest abuse, fracking, and looks on supportively as the corporate drive to use the green belt for unnecessary ‘aspirational’ housing is underway. Approval for GM crops, though constrained by EU legislation, is another item on their agenda.

In 2016, will the public continue to tolerate politically backed corporate pollution – a threat to human and environmental health?

Media 49: first borough council by-election Corbyn-era success, mainstream press balked

Not before the children

David Carr: If Labour had lost this would have been all over the news!

chorley 1 resulthttp://forums.digitalspy.co.uk/showthread.php?p=80178693

Comment on that site:

Nice job from the unelectable”

Euxton North (Chorley) is a key marginal between Labour and the Conservatives, has been one of the more reliable bellwether seats in the country, having been won by the party that went on to form the government in every election since 1964.

The three candidates hoping to win the seat on Chorley Council were Tommy Gray (Labour), Alan Platt (Conservative) and Christopher Suart (UK Independence Party).

Comments on https://twitter.com/JeremyCorbyn4PM

Dr Alan Maddison ‏@alanmaddison20  19h19 hours ago

@MoAkram8 @JeremyCorbyn4PM This is really encouraging.

Mo Akram ‏@MoAkram8  19h19 hours ago

@alanmaddison20 @JeremyCorbyn4PM It is a GREAT result considering the biased anti Corbyn onslaught by the mainstream media!

David Carr @BeGoodBeBrave  13h13 hours ago

@john1genius @MoAkram8 @JeremyCorbyn4PM If Labour had lost this would have been all over the news!

David Carr ‏@BeGoodBeBrave  13h13 hours ago

@john1genius @MoAkram8 @JeremyCorbyn4PM BBC becoming crude propaganda arm of the Tory Government. Imagine if Labour had lost this election.

And off subject but so neat: JeremyCorbyn4PM Retweeted: BBC Question Time ‏@bbcquestiontime  Oct 29

.@billybragg It shouldn’t be socialism for the bankers and capitalism for the steel workers. #bbcqt

Last word from UK Polling Report site:

chorley comment

State radio highlights Corbyn’s handshakes and meetings, but not recent British governments’ collusion in repressive activities

Steve Beauchampé: “A peacenik may lay down with some unsavoury characters. Better that than selling them weapons”.

The BBC, whose coverage of the Labour Party leadership race has often felt unbalanced, spent time this week highlighting the fact that in 2009 frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn shared a platform at a meeting organised by the Stop The War Coalition with Lebanese political activist Dyab Abou Jahjah, who holds some very questionable views on the holocaust.

Also raised, initially in a public ‘phone in on the World at One (Radio 4) and in many of the corporations’ subsequent news and current affairs programmes, was Corbyn’s use of the word ‘friends’ to describe the militant Hamas and Hezbollah organisations, both of which have engaged in some evil activities in connection with their support of the Palestinian cause.

Legitimate questions, although selected by the BBC from a large number of callers who, one imagines, wished to raise a wide variety of subjects with the potential Labour leader.

But whilst it is unreasonable to expect Corbyn to control whom he appears alongside at a public meeting, that he did not organise and which was after all about a very worthy cause (enhancing the Middle East peace process), one for which he has sincere and long-held views, Corbyn’s description of Hamas and Hezbollah does seem rather unfortunate. But we all make misjudgements and frankly, I’m considerably more concerned as to whether Jeremy Corbyn (and ultimately those who might seek to govern with him) has plausible ideas to tackle the myriad of contemporary problems that confront Britain and the wider world, including that of the Palestinians.

This is not the first occasion on which the BBC has questioned Jeremy Corbyn about his relationship with both pro-Palestinian militant organisations and the IRA (whom he spoke with nearly a decade before the British government admitted to doing the same). Indeed, during the current Labour leadership campaign several of the Corporation’s senior political presenters and reporters have highlighted such issues.

Yet the BBC shows no such doggedness in holding to account some members of the current and previous government about their track record, not merely of giving verbal support, but also practical assistance, to several of the world’s most dubious regimes.

Because Britain arms, trains or sells equipment to overseas governments that subsequently attack, torture or otherwise repress their political opponents. Hideous regimes such as those in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Israel and Egypt – a military dictatorship in all but name – are legitimised by our government’s willingness to collude in their repressive activities, sometimes for strategic geo-political reasons, sometimes for the purpose of trade.

Amongst Britain’s ‘friends’ are Turkey and Qatar (both accused of tacitly backing Islamic State) and China (where does one even begin!). Until recently these friends also included Syria (approached by the UK and USA in 2010 about forming a possible military alliance against Iran as a means of thwarting its nuclear ambitions) and individuals such as Vladimir Putin (whom Cameron once declared was a man that Britain could do business with).

There’s plenty more, as a quick perusal of the Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch websites will attest, whilst our country’s own involvement in extraordinary rendition and the abuses and illegality conducted at Guantanamo Bay is equally inexcusable.

Pragmatism in a complex and changeable political landscape, or turning a blind eye to try and gain an international or trading advantage? Either way, such activities often result in real actions with real consequences for real people. Incalculably worse in their impact than any handshakes, debate or badly chosen words that Jeremy Corbyn may have in his debit column.      

Steve Beauchampé: August 21st 2015. First published in The BirminghamPress.com http://thebirminghampress.com/2015/08/give-peace-a-chance/

See also John Wight:

It is not Jeremy Corbyn who has questions to answer, it is those who supported the war in Iraq, the bombing of Libya, who provide unquestioning support to Israel, and had little or nothing to say over Britain’s shameful relationship with Saudi Arabia – it those people who have questions to answer, with some undoubtedly justified in being expected to answer them from the dock at the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/john-wight/accusations-of-corbyns-links-hypocrisy_b_8020196.html

BBC rough handing fails to disturb Scotland’s first minister

Arm of government – yet again?

The SNP Westminster Parliamentary Party met on Monday night, to discuss proposals to ‘water down’ the ban on fox-hunting in England and Wales. The 56 MPs decided to oppose these, following a host of letters from English correspondents asking the SNP – as a real ideological opposition – to intervene.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, was interviewed by a Today presenter, possibly Justin Webb

Nicola SturgeonIn a vain attempt to confound Ms Sturgeon, she was interrupted and ‘talked over’ in a very clumsy bid to portray her as – at best – inconsistent.

An hour later the BBC website underpinned this view, also – but more politely and by implication.

‘A’ for persistence: BBC later makes this subject the 8am news headline

In a thinly veiled attempt to rally public opinion against the SNP at Westminster, it is implied that the SNP is taking this stance due to pique at the proposal for Scottish MPs to be barred from voting on measures which will have financial implications for their country.

This strong, intelligent and public spirited leader will need all her strengths to counter political attempts to undermine her – and she has support all over Britain.

At last, the BBC website covers news about Gaza in full

Read and watch a video here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-28715052