Seventy percent of voters paticipating in a new ICM poll for The Telegraph believe the British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) exclusive right to the television licence fee should be cut or scrapped.
According to the poll, 21 percent of voters believe the BBC must face a cut in the amount it receives or have to share with other broadcasters while about 50 percent said the charge should be scrapped entirely.
Only 10 percent of the voters say they want to see the fee increase in the BBC’s Charter in 2016.
Chairman of the Commons media select committee John Whittingdale said the poll shows “considerable public dissatisfaction” with the current system of funding.
He added that there was a strong case for allowing other broadcasters to compete for licence fee funding to put an end on the BBC’s “monopoly”.
According to earlier reports, British ministers are willing to consider licence fee reforms if the BBC fails to undertake changes in the wake of a series of scandals hitting the corporation.
Earlier last week, the Conservative party chairman Grant Shapps said the corporation needs to tackle a culture of “secrecy” following the Jimmy Savile and Stuart Hall scandals as well as disclosures about pay-offs to senior executives.
The licence fee, which is currently frozen at £145.50 annually, brings the broadcaster some £3.6 billion in revenue.
“The following report contains disturbing images”
This is how the BBC website introduces a report by its BBC Panorama’s Syria correspondents Ian Pannell and Darren Conway on August the 30th, 2013. The story contained a video, ostensibly shot near Aleppo, Northern Syria, by an anonymous school headmaster, and documenting the aftermath of a napalm attack on his school, supposedly perpetrated by the Syrian armed forces on August 26th. According to the story, the “evil” forces of Bashar al-Assad, at a time when they had just about established their strategic advantage over the anti-government rebel forces and the foreign mercenaries they had been fighting for over two years, had found nothing better to do than attack a school, a target which presented no military interest whatsoever, with napalm – no less – just so the international media, and BBC Panorama in particular, could pick the story and broadcast it to Western audiences, in perfect timing to coincide with the British Parliament’s vote on the so-called “humanitarian intervention” in Syria, which was being pushed for by Prime Minister David Cameron, ostensibly to prevent precisely this kind of atrocities.
Were Assad’s forces really that stupid? Of course not.
It did not take long before several international commentators and observers pointed out the many implausibilities in the video and the story in general. Among them, Italian author Francesco Santoianni, showed how incongruent the whole story was, sparking the suspicion that the entire video might have been a fabrication. What follows is his analysis.
First of all, Napalm is a substance which generates temperatures between 800 and 1,200 degrees Celsius: in other words, no one has ever survived direct exposure. These physical characteristics mean that when Napalm was utilised in theatres of war, it was primarily used to defoliate areas covered with thick vegetation, and not urban areas, where white phosphorus is more often used, as the United States Armed Forces did in Falluja in 2005, and the Israeli Defence Forces did in Gaza in 2008. Nevertheless, the BBC expected its viewers to believe that Assad’s forces had employed the obsolete napalm on a school. Of course, a school with no teaching resources in sight, but somehow a swimming pool in the back. Oh, and a swing. Case closed: it MUST be a school. Although, we are told by our sources in Syria that the school year did not start until September 15: so what exactly were all those people doing in a locked-up school?
In the video, we were also shown a pair of winter shoes – not clear how they ended up there: it was after all August – and a woman’s shoe. Was all this footwear worn by the victims? How did it remain intact?
Almost every British newspaper which reported the story informed us that “The attack killed more than ten pupils and left many more seriously injured”: and yet, despite the warning against graphic images, we are not shown the bodies, or the grieving parents.
There is – to be sure – a child, seeing shaking in one scene. His skin is actually intact, and so is his hair: certainly not consistent with napalm, or anything like it. And what is the white stuff on his body? Surely, it cannot be the chemical fired from the fighter jets – that wouldn’t have left his hair intact – therefore we must assume that it’s some kind of first-aid ointment, of sorts? Whoever administered it could not even be bothered to remove the watch from the kid’s wrist. In fact, no one seems to be attending this child: the only person with some kind of interest is the cameraman.
Somewhat less convincing is a couple, seen in the video going through the well-rehearsed motions of cursing in Arabic. There is a problem though: the woman’s face is covered in that same white stuff: and the couple has just arrived to the so-called hospital, so it cannot be “some kind of first-aid ointment”. It must be the “napalm-like chemical”. We are expected to believe that a “napalm-like” chemical, fired from a fighter jet, somehow ended up sprayed on this woman’s face leaving her veil intact?
We also see what is supposed to be a makeshift hospital. On the floor, five adult males are shaking – three of them still have their clothes perfectly intact, of course – although one of them at some point stands up and walks off, having presumably decided that he’s had enough.
By the way, we keep seeing paramedics from the so-called charity Hand in Hand for Syria supposedly handling chemical burns victims without any gloves on – but wearing gas masks, for some reason. And even a dust mask: what’s that? The woman in question is of course Dr. Rola, the star of this video [segment introducing Dr. Rola]
Then, of course, we get the obligatory segment showing a distraught local, venting his powerless rage at the International Community, invariably denounced as inefficient and perennially locked in futile negotiations. The Public Relations rules dictate that such a character must be somehow connected with the tragedy (no details given), and that, when he addresses the camera, he must not speak in the local language – which would only sound like terrorist gibberish to most Western audiences: rather, he has to produce an impromptu speech in an impeccable English, so impeccable to the point of sounding scripted and well-rehearsed, or even read off a prompter. After all, these PR rules did work for Libya.
All these absurdities were exposed almost immediately after the release of the video on the BBC’s channels. So why talk about them again now?
Well, one reason is that the BBC itself, presumably after receiving dozens of complaints from viewers who didn’t appreciate their intelligence being insulted, decided to salvage what little they could from the story, and delete the biggest blooper of all. And this is where it gets creepy. Because what follows leads one to believe that this was not the case of the BBC naively buying into a story packaged and sold to them by the anti-Assad PR machine (it wouldn’t have been the first time), but rather that the BBC itself actively created a product that was intended to steer the public opinion towards a more interventionist position. For such a product, there can only be one definition: propaganda.
What happened was that Human Rights activist Craig Murray, among others, realised that, between the first and the second release of the video, something was different in the lines spoken by Dr. Rola. Listen to the original one, containing references to napalm.
The reference to napalm has disappeared in the redacted version.
Both audio clips have the same identical sound quality: of course, there is very little that cannot be accomplished with the kind of technology that’s available to the British Broadcasting Corporation, thanks in part to the fact that Dr. Rola was wearing her exaggerated dust mask, which conveniently did away with all the challenges involved in dubbing, lip-synch, etc. However, the redacted audio clip must have been added at a much later stage, for reasons we have just explored, which prompts us to ask: how can we even be sure that the original audio clip was not scripted and recorded in a studio? Also, Robert Stuart, writing on the Media Lenses Forum, points out that Dr Saleyha Ahsan, featured in the new version of the video, is a filmmaker with a military background: a former Captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps and a freelance current affairs journalist. Was she involved in packaging this product?
Also of interest is the fact that the Charity Hand in Hand for Syria, where Dr. Rola supposedly works as a volunteer medic, happens to sport a flag of the French colonial era on its logo – a flag now adopted by the Anti-Assad Coalition. This is an affiliation which the BBC did not see fit to disclose to its viewers.
For those who still believe in whatever is left of the BBC’s reputation for upholding the mediatic standards of fair and balanced reporting, here is some useful information about another so-called “charity”. The BBC Media Action (formerly the BBC World Service Trust), with its catchy slogan: “Transforming Lives through Media around the World”.
In an interesting report available on its website, BBC Media Action explains: “In 2008, BBC Media Action launched its three-year project ‘Socially Responsible Media Platforms in the Arab World’ with funding from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Syria News was the official Syrian partner, endorsed by the Ministry of Information on behalf of the BBC. The project aimed to set up an interactive online training platform, the Ara2 [opinions] Academy, for Syria’s journalistic and blogging communities, creating networks between the two. This reflected the changing status of bloggers in the regional media and responded to their aspiration to be seen as credible social commentators. The project also supported Syria News as an example of a sustainable independent media organisation, with managerial staff taking part in study tours in London and in business development training. BBC Media Action did not work with a local partner on blogger training, as this could have alienated and excluded parts of the blogging community. Instead, the BBC collaborated with an informal network of bloggers from across the country and recruited mentors for the distance learning system (the Ara2 Academy) who were trained at workshops in London and Damascus”.
One could not have wished for a clearer description of a Trojan horse, funded by one government in order to destabilize another. Just to go over the timeline again: the three-year BBC Action Syria Project started in 2008. The “Syrian uprising” began in February 2011.
… Mr Humphrys told listeners that “there will be high-level meetings to find ways of Iran giving up its nuclear weapons programme in exchange for sanctions being dropped”. Unfortunately for Humphrys, Iran does not have a nuclear weapons programme… Read full article
In BBC Today’s programme today John Humphreys referred to Iran’s “nuclear weapons programme”, something that BBC does now and again.
Interviewing the Israeli government’s spokesman, Mark Gregory, he did not challenge him on his numerous lies and accusations, including describing Iran’s programme as “an aggressive nuclear weapons programme”, a phrase that Humphrey repeated! Neither did he challenge Gregory on the lie that the current Iranian government has threatened Israel with “obliteration” in the past couple of weeks.
It is crucial that people individually write to the BBC and John Humphreys and not allow such venomous propaganda to go unchallenged.
You can listen to the interview here. It starts at around 1.33.49
The issue of Syria has demonstrated the massive gap that has opened up between the elite and ordinary people in both the US and Britain.
Poll after poll after poll shows very large majorities against strikes on Syria. People are war-weary, and the last thing they want is for their countries to become embroiled in another Middle-East war.
One Congressman in the US tweeted earlier this week that he had asked 200 people if they supported strikes on Syria and only four said ‘Yes’- that’s just 2 percent. Another said that 99 percent of calls to his office were against military action.
Let’s get one thing straight: the only people who are keen on war with Syria in the US and UK are the elites. Ordinary people on both sides of the Atlantic want absolutely nothing to do with it.
In Britain, the overwhelming majority of people were delighted that our parliament voted against war last week and that enough of our legislators finally listened to the people to defeat the serial warmongers.
A BBC poll showed that 71 percent of people thought parliament had made the right decision. Yet our neocon/’liberal interventionist’ elite is furious that legislators listened to the views of ordinary members of the public and not them. “You’re a disgrace,” screeched neocon Minister Michael Gove at MPs who voted against the government. Behaving like spoilt brats having a temper tantrum because they were not allowed to get their own way, the Permanent War brigade have been calling for a “second vote” in parliament, showing arrogant contempt for the views of the majority of ordinary people who don’t want war with Syria.
Neocon historian Andrew Roberts threw a hissy fit in a newspaper column last Sunday, attacking the “hideously amoral selfishness” of “new Britain” for not supporting war with Syria. Serial warmonger and drama queen Lord Paddy Ashdown declared “In 50 years trying to serve my country I have never felt so depressed/ashamed” – after parliament finally listened to public opinion and not to warmongers like Ashdown.
Nick Cohen, poster boy for Britain’s pro-war faux-left tweeted “Can’t help thinking that the British parliament’s vote will be remembered as a low and mean point in our history.” Have you got that? Parliament listening to ordinary members of the public is a “low and mean point.” Such is the fundamentally undemocratic neocon/liberal interventionist mindset, which says that no point of view on foreign policy counts except their own and that of their neocon pals.
Since last week’s parliamentary vote, UK establishment figures have been lining up to give Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, a jolly good thrashing for daring to defy the War Party’s line on Syria. Writing in The Times, aptly described as ‘The Warmongers Gazette’ by anti-war conservative writer Peter Hitchens, David Aaronovitch called Miliband a ‘political vulture’. Aaronovitch’s attack on Miliband was hailed as ‘devastating’ by Ian Katz, the editor of Newsnight, the BBC’s flagship Current Affairs program, which wheeled out a ‘Dr. Rola’ from ‘Hand in Hand For Syria’ to criticize Miliband’s failure to back the government.
Since the vote Newsnight has promoted a series of pro-intervention figures, seemingly desperate to try and get us plebs to change our minds. What part of ‘WE DON’T WANT WAR WITH SYRIA’ do our elite not understand? Now the high priest of ‘Liberal Interventionism’, the multi-millionaire war criminal Tony Blair, has joined the ‘Get Miliband’ lynch mob, saying that he was “disappointed” that parliament hadn’t supported the government, adding, “This is something where I just have to disagree with the leadership of the [Labour] party.”
For our neocon/liberal interventionist elite, Miliband is a shocker, a bounder, a rotter, and a ‘political vulture’. But most ordinary people in Britain are very pleased that he and his party listened to the public and opposed the government on Syria. You’d never have known it from listening to neocon newspaper columns, but after last week’s vote, bookmakers shortened the odds of Labour winning the next election to 8-13.
If Miliband and his party had voted the way the neocons wanted, then it’s highly likely that earlier this week US and British forces would have launched their attack on Syria. Which is why of course the Permanent War gang are so angry with him.
The pro-war lobby may be numerically tiny, but in both the US and UK it is massively overrepresented in the mainstream media. Despite the Iraq debacle, the same columnists who urged on that particular catastrophe, are still in front of their keyboards, propagandizing for yet another Middle East ‘intervention’, and are still treated with enormous deference whenever they appear on the likes of CNN or the BBC. Which is very, very often.
“Did you know there are people who supported the Iraq War getting invited on news programs to talk about Syria?” tweets comedy writer Graham Linehan. S’TRUE!!!
The disproportionate voice that necons and ‘liberal interventionists’ have in the UK and US media makes it appear that their views are more widely held in the public at large than they are. But in fact their extremist pro-war views are very rarely found outside elite, Establishment circles.
The gap between the elites in the US and the UK is now larger than at any time in the last 100 years. If we do go to war with Syria, despite the overwhelming public opposition, then it will show that democracy is well and truly dead in both our countries.
Are we countries where the views of the majority are listened to, or are we countries where a tiny, unrepresentative, pro-war clique always gets their way? We’re about to find out.
On the day we learned that the BBC’s new Middle East editor, Raffi Berg, urged colleagues to downplay Israel’s siege of Gaza, the British broadcaster launched Simon Schama’s The Story of the Jews. I have only watched the 1st episode of this new BBC 2 grandiose series. But I already learned from Schama about Jewish greatness, the formation of his people and the continuum between the ancient Israelites and their contemporary followers: Schama and his local reform Synagogue in North West London. I also learned about Jehovah, the God that was invented by the Jews to choose them over all other people.
But will Schama or the BBC manage to answer the most crucial questions to do with Jewish history and identity? Will he be able to put current Jewish politics into ‘historical’ context? Will he be able to tell us why the Jewish lobby in the USA, Britain and France push relentlessly for global conflicts in general and wars against Iran and Syria in particular? Will Schama manage to enlighten us and suggest why Jews were “Stalin’s willing executioners” as Yuri Slezkin suggests in his invaluable book The Jewish Century? Will the BBC manage to elaborate on Israeli prominent writer Sever Plocker’s confession that “some of greatest murderers of modern times were Jewish”? Will the BBC be able to elucidate the crimes committed by the Jewish State in the name of the Jewish people? Will the BBC manage to delve on Anti-Semitism, It’s History and Causes following the incredible enlightening work of Bernard Lazare or will they fall into the same trap and agree amongst themselves that something is ‘pathologically wrong with the Goyim’?
I don’t hold my breath. Schama is obviously a master of concealment. When he speaks about the ‘godless Jew’ Freud, he presents him as a refugee ‘driven out by the Nazis’ but for some reason he fails to mention Freud’s vile contempt to the Aryans in particular (which predates Nazism and the rise of Hitler) and the Goyim in general.
History becomes a meaningful event when it exchanges with the present and our imaginary future – when the past throws light on the present and the future gazes at its origin with hesitance.
The Jewish past, as we know it, is an endless chain of blood baths and holocausts. Lame Jewish history, that is all too common, is an attempt to conceal this past. Will Schama unveil the concealed? Will he or the BBC manage to reduce all those Shoas and disasters into a historical principle? Did Schama learn the only valuable lesson from his godless Jew Freud and ‘unveil the concealed’, or is he cooking another therapeutic chicken soup?
We will have to wait and see.
Anthony Lawson · August 26, 2013
World-renowned violinist Nigel Kennedy has been attacked by Baroness Deech, of Cumnor, for something that he said at a BBC Proms concert, featuring the Palestinian Strings, a group of talented young musicians aged between twelve and twenty-three.
Nigel Kennedy plays Spring from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons at the 2013 BBC Proms
انظرو كيف تعامل النساء-Women in Palestine
Dispatches: Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby Video – Channel 4 UK – Broadcast November 16, 2009.
Gresham College The Universities: Under Regulation – Baroness Ruth Deech
Published on Apr 24, 2012
Over the past three days, since the story first broke, the BBC’s news Website (I use the word news advisedly) has carried twelve stories on the alleged chemical weapons attack that took place in a suburb of Damascus. Today’s offerings include, Hague believes Assad behind attack (23/8/13), without offering a shred of proof that the Assad government is behind the alleged attack or even that it took place, takes foreign secretary Hague’s ‘belief’ as a given. The lead paragraph tells it all:
UK Foreign Secretary William Hague says he believes President Assad was behind a chemical attack in Syria.
What Hague’s belief is based upon is not revealed, instead we get more of the same:
“I know that some people in the world would like to say that this is some kind of conspiracy brought about by the opposition in Syria,” said Mr Hague.
Now why does Hague feel compelled to bring in the issue of a conspiracy? Perhaps because it is a conspiracy? A conspiracy dreamed up to justify the overthrow of the sovereign government of Syria. Hague then makes the most astonishing statement:
“I think the chances of that are vanishingly small [that it was a conspiracy] and so we do believe that this is a chemical attack by the Assad regime.”
‘So we do believe’ intones Hague but the BBC article offers not a shred of actual proof that one, gas was actually used and two, if gas was used who it was used by?
Now you have to ask why the BBC feels it necessary to propagandise on behalf of the UKUS governments? What’s in it for the BBC? Well if it was an independent organisation, there could be no justification for promoting an allegation as fact even when its main UK advocate, Hague himself, can only offer his “belief”. But given as the BBC is the de facto mouthpiece for the UK state, it clearly has to peddle the ‘party line’. The piece continues:
“Pressing for UN weapons inspectors to be given access to the site, the UK foreign secretary said: “It seems the Assad regime has something to hide.
“Why else have they not allowed the UN team to go there?”
But who says the Syrian government have denied access to Ghouta? Given as firstly, the area in question is under the control of the rebels (isn’t that the reason why all we have to go on are the rebels presentations, which judging by the videos I’ve seen, look suspiciously staged?), at the point of writing, there’s nothing the Syrian government can do about it. Second, just a few miles away there’s the newly arrived UN inspection team, who given the chance, I’m sure will want to check out the situation for themselves. In fact, they have, see here.
Even Barack Obama says “the alleged used of chemical weapons” and doesn’t actually name the Assad government. Once burned, twice shy perhaps, considering that the last alleged Syrian government use of chemical weapons turned out to have been used by the rebels. Do I detect a pattern here?
But by the last section of the article we read:
He [Hague] added: “This is what we are focused on and we are working with countries all over the world to try to bring this about and to try to establish the truth to the satisfaction of the world about what is clearly a terrible atrocity.
Well at least now the man is admitting that he doesn’t actually know what really happened, and it makes a nonsense of the BBC’s title. But just how compelling the propaganda assault has been (it reminds me somewhat of the media’s coverage of the Boston Bombing), is that ‘progressive’ media outlet, Democracy Now! has just published a piece that’s pretty much in step with the BBC’s coverage, though it does at least entertain the idea that if the Syrian government had done it it had shot itself in the foot and opened the door to direct (as opposed to indirect) foreign intervention, which is what Hague is proposing we do. Thus proof is is crucial.
“The only possible explanation of what we have been able to see is that it was a chemical attack and clearly many, many hundreds of people have been killed, some of the estimates are well over 1,000.
“There is no other plausible explanation for casualties so intense in such a small area on this scale.” – Hague
There is nothing clear about anything at this point in time, not even that chemical weapons were actually used. We have only the conveniently supplied rebel footage, which when viewed objectively, tells us nothing much at all, except that some appeared to be dead but not how they died and in some of the footage it’s not even clear the people are actually dead. Another part of Democracy Now!’s footage shows people, young an old, walking around rather aimlessly and clearly very aware of the camera’s presence, too aware I think.
The entire event registers as false, as contrived and just too damn convenient and to have happened on the same day as the UN inspection team arrived? That’s a coincidence? At the end of the day, it’s the latest and the most elaborate provocation staged to try and justify direct, foreign intervention by the Imperialist powers, given that the ‘rebels’ appear to be on the run.
Yesterday, the 22nd of August, the BBC put out another propaganda piece titled, Obama’s thick red line on Syria by the BBC’s North American Editor, Mark Mardell. The title tells it all doesn’t it? Obama is indecisive, unsure of what to do (the issue of the chemical weapons is not even mentioned directly, it’s just assumed that it was the Assad government that used them):
President Obama clearly has a problem, and will be accused of inaction and dithering.
Mardell gives the game away when he writes:
The president’s main military adviser has cancelled a planned news conference. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey was due to answer questions at the foreign press centre.
Perhaps he’s had to call it off because he is busy planning what happens next in Syria. [my emph.]
‘Busy planning what happens next in Syria’ says it all really. Syria is just another place to blow up and decide if it has a future. The BBC speaks with an Imperialist tongue, that’s why the BBC is so gung ho about invading Syria to the point that it’s entire coverage of the events in Ghouta are based on nothing more than supposition and allegation? This outrageous piece of out and out warmongering ends thus:
In either case, Mr Obama is likely to insist on going the full UN route to gather the maximum possible support for any action – and that means waiting for the inspector’s report on earlier incidents at the very least.
I could be very wrong. The bombers could be in the air by this afternoon.
But at the moment all Mr Obama plans for today is a talk about the cost of college education and “a better deal for the middle classes”.
I suspect his red line is very thick indeed.
Obviously too thick for the BBC aka the state.
[Obama] calls the attack “troublesome” and says it touches on core national interests of the US, but quickly adds: “Sometimes what we’ve seen is that folks will call for immediate action, jumping into stuff, that does not turn out well, gets us mired in very difficult situations, can result in us being drawn into very expensive, difficult, costly interventions that actually breed more resentment in the region.”
Damn these dithering imperialists, Mardell seems to be telling us! Get on with it and bomb the crap out of Assad! Mardell continues:
You might think a private punishment is not much of a deterrent and anything that happens now will have to be a lot more public.
It does not sound like a man gung ho for military action. It sounds like the pleading of man being dragged, pushed and pulled by allies and world opinion to do something but who wants to be certain it doesn’t end up in a new war.
Mardell is pissed off because Obama doesn’t want to start bombing another country (yet)! What is going on here when a journalist, paid for out of the public purse and purportedly working for a media outfit that is bound by law to be objective and impartial, can act as point man for the Empire and its fucking wars?!
There has been an ongoing information war being fought for hearts and minds inside and outside of the Middle East. The war has mostly been tied to Syria. As the US and its allies begin to focus their attention on Hezbollah in Lebanon, the media war now includes the events in Lebanon. This, however, has not stopped the media attempts to depict the fighting in Syria in sectarian terms as a regional war between Shias and Sunnis or to demonize Syria’s allies…
In regards to Syria, the Israeli media, the Saudi media, and Lebanon’s Hariri-owned media — which belongs to Hezbollah’s US/Saudi-supported rivals — have all carried the same August 2013 AFP story or some derivative of it that deceitfully reports that Iran and Hezbollah are now running Syria. The Jerusalem Post, Arutz Sheva, the Daily Star, Ya Libnan, Al-Arabiya, the Saudi Gazette, Hürriyet, Naharnet, France 24, Fox News, and the Dubai-based Gulf News are examples of the type of media that carried this so-called news. Here is an extract of the text which sums up the entire image that the article is trying to engrain into the minds of its readers: “Assad ‘no longer runs Syria. The real rulers of Syria are the Iranian (elite) Revolutionary Guard… with the participation of Hezbollah fighters,’ Jarba said.” The entire report is built around a quote by Ahmad Al-Jarba, the leader of the foreign-controlled and funded Syrian National Coalition.
How the Mainstream Media Legitimizes Terrorism Against Lebanese Civilians
Next the same media outlets finessed the news about the terrorist bombs planted in Beirut’s southern suburb of Dahiyeh. The August 15, 2013 terrorist bombings in the neighbourhood of Al-Rouweiss (Al-Rweiss) were downplayed and, in a manner of speaking, legitimized by the media through their selective use of language. The attack on Al-Rouweiss come about a month after the July 9, 2013 terrorist attack on the neighbourhood of Bir Al-Abed. Both are densely populated neighbourhoods in Dahiyeh. The Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA) in the United States took quick notice of the biased media framing. IPA asked the following, on August 16, 2013, through the title of report: “Why Isn’t Beirut Bombing Called ‘Terrorist’? What’s Behind It?”
The Lebanese newspaper Al-Akbar is worth looking at to get a grasp of the biased media reporting that has been used to reframe the events as legitimate. It commented thus on August 17, 2013: “The Western media have double standards when it comes to ‘terrorism.’ Within hours after two bombs were detonated at the Boston Marathon last April, many in the media had christened it a ‘terrorist attack.’ Meanwhile, the August 15 bombing in Rouweiss that killed at least two dozen is a ‘blast’ that occurred in a ‘Hezbollah stronghold.’” As Al-Akhbar observes, the phrase “Hezbollah stronghold” plays a prominent role in giving the impression that the civilian neighbourhoods bombed in Beirut were armed barracks. Al-Akhbar even nicely sums up some of the biased titles used to describe the terrorist attacks:
Wall Street Journal: «Car Bomb Blasts Hezbollah Stronghold in Lebanon»
BBC: «Deadly Lebanon Blast in Beirut Stronghold of Hezbollah»
LA Times: «Massive Explosion in Beirut Rocks Hezbollah Stronghold»
Washington Post: «Bomb Explodes in Hezbollah Stronghold in Beirut, Injuring Dozens»
Reuters: «Over 50 Hurt as Car Bomb Hits Hezbollah Beirut Stronghold»
Associated Press: «Car Bomb Rocks Hezbollah Stronghold in Lebanon»
France24: «Car Bomb Rocks Hezbollah Stronghold in Beirut»
Mixed with the other narratives that the same media outlets are painting, the terrorist attacks are being tacitly portrayed as some type of legitimate retaliation. Readers are basically led to think that that the terrorist attacks in Dahiyeh were a military act against some type of Hezbollah base.
How the Mainstream Media Lies and Deliberately Places the Blame on Sunni Muslims
Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Hezbollah, responded to the terrorist attack on Al-Rouweiss by categorically saying that the attacks were not the work of Sunni Muslims. He gave a speech saying that there were going to be those groups and individuals that would try to blame the terrorist attacks in Beirut on the Sunnis and said that these groups and individuals should be outright dismissed. In fact, he said that anyone that used this divisive logic was an “Israeli” and a partner in the goal of creating massacres. He made it clear that the individuals who planted the bomb did not represent the Sunni Muslims or the Arabs or the Syrians or the Palestinians. In a message to the US and its allies, he also said clearly stated that Hezbollah was aware that the intelligence services of the US and its allies had infiltrated various terrorist groups and manipulate them as tools.
Despite Nasrallah’s clarity, his words were totally changed by the same media outlets that were legitimizing the terrorist attacks in Beirut. The Israeli media, the state-run British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Al Jazeera, and Al Arabiya would blatantly fabricate the news and claim that Nasrallah “blamed the Sunnis” or try to manipulate readers into getting the impression that he did. The New York Times titled an August 16, 2003 article on the terrorist attacks as the following: “Hezbollah Makes Vow to Step Up Sunni Fight”. It never even mentioned that Nasrallah went out of his way to say that the people involved in the terrorist attacks were the tools of the US and Israeli government and not really Sunni Muslims. Instead Ben Hubbard focused on sectarianism in Lebanon and wrote: “In short, Hezbollah has more enemies than it used to have.”
The BBC wrote a similar article on August 16. It also used a grossly misleading title. The title being “Hezbollah blames Sunnis for bomb”. After a large number of people caught it, the BBC changed the title to “Beirut bomb: Hezbollah’s Nasrallah blames Sunni radicals”.
Exposing the Yellow Journalism at Work as a Tool of War
Aside from their direct or indirect links to these media outlets, even the political actors involved show that the way the news is reported is not isolated. Saad Hariri, the leader of the Future Party and a Saudi client, even responded to Hassan Nasrallah’s speech by saying that he had no right to designate what groups are terrorists. Hariri’s overlords in Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, refused to even condemn the terrorist attacks. This again is tied to the attempts to reframe the terrorist attacks in Beirut as a legitimate military act.
This type of yellow journalism that relies on misleading headlines that essentially say everything while the hollow articles carry and have little or no newsworthy material is not politically neutral. It is a weapon of war. All these articles are agitating for bloodletting in the Middle East, specifically between Shias and Sunnis. This type of journalism either directly or indirectly stokes the fires of sectarianism in Lebanon and the Middle East with the intentions of spreading sectarian animosity. This is why it deliberately ignores and refuses to even acknowledge the main points of Nasrallah’s speech that clearly pointed the finger at Israel and the US and said that the terrorist attacks had nothing to do with Sunni Muslims.
Well, my heart fell when I saw the recent BBC article which proudly proclaimed that the people of Kivalina were slated to become “America’s first climate change refugees” …
Figure 1. The Alaskan native village of Kivalina. SOURCE: BBC
My heart fell for three reasons. First, because once again we are being presented with natural, expected changes in a shifting, unstable barrier island that are falsely claimed to be the result of “climate change”. Folks, barrier islands are just a pile of sand, and they erode, change, and alter their shape with every change in the ocean that built them. As the residents of the barrier islands of the US East Coast regularly discover (although apparently to their infinitely renewed shock and never-lessening total surprise and outrage), when a storm wanders through their neighborhood, the ocean is more than happy to totally reshape any barrier island at any time. The ocean thinks nothing of cutting a barrier island in two, it’s an everyday occurrence around the planet. And the ocean particularly messes with a location like Kivalina, which as you can see from the article is right at the main channel … where all of the water goes through with every tide, where runoff from a huge storm has to force its way out to the ocean, and where as a result the erosive forces are both the strongest and the most unpredictable.
Second, I was bummed that they’d built such a joke of a seawall, because as the photo clearly shows and the article mentions, the seawall there is having unexpected effects which are not all beneficial. As is common with such amateur attempts to tame the sea, it’s building up sand at one end and being eaten away and undermined at the other. No surprise there, except that this was the Army Corps of Engineers and it was built in 2008 … as I discuss below, they are way, way behind the times if that’s their idea of how to protect Kivalina.
The third reason I was saddened was that I immediately suspected the fine hand of some melanin-deficient historical BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) official in the original location of the village. The BIA has been the cause of huge grief for just about all of the people under its jurisdiction, so why not Kivalina? Plus, I doubted greatly that any group of nomadic northern hunters would choose to live right there, they’re generally much smarter than that.
When you look at the location of Kivalina on Google Earth, you have to say, what on earth were the BIA thinking? Never mind, they weren’t.
Figure 2. Overview of the entire island on which Kivalina is located, in the winter, with ice on the ocean. Note the sediment being discharged out the channel by Kivalina, and the areas of reduced ice outside both channels through the barrier islands.
In my previous post on this subject, aptly titled the “Sixth First Climate Refugees“, it was pointed out that the Fifth First Climate Refugees in the Alaskan village of Shishmaref was located on a barrier island because they’d been moved to that spot by the US government. Years ago, there was a big push to stop the traditional residents from being nomads. Nomads drive governments nuts, you can’t control them. So the government very foolishly insisted the people settle in a terrible location, the barrier island where the town of Shishmaref is now located. Now, nomadic traditional people are far from stupid. You can assume that they were all too familiar with the fragility and changeability of barrier islands, because they only put temporary hunting camps on such islands, and wisely lived on the mainland behind the protection that such barrier islands until they were forced offshore. And the same forced resettlement was the story for the Sixth First Climate Refugees, those in Newtok, Alaska.
So when I saw the picture above, my first thought was, “BIA strikes again”. And sadly, my guess was right. The NANA, the Alaska Native Corporation of the northern peoples, tells the story of Kivalina on their web site:
For more than 1,500 years, the barrier reef where Kivalina is located has been a stopping-off place for seasonal travelers between the Arctic coastal areas and the Kotzebue Sound region. In 2009 human remains and artifacts were discovered near Kivalina representing the Ipiutak, a non-whaling Eskimo culture that was present in northwestern Alaska from the 2nd to 6th centuries A.D. The Ipiutak people inhabited the coastal region only in the spring and summer months, moving inland for the rest of the year.
According to elder knowledge, the original permanent settlement known as Kivalina was located on the coast of the mainland, a few miles north of Kivalliik Channel. The people of Kivalina, like the Ipiutak before them, utilized the barrier reef only as seasonal hunting grounds, making camp there in warm-weather months.The first recorded history of Kivalina occurred in 1847 when a Russian naval officer mistook a seasonal hunting camp at the north end of Kivalina Lagoon—a few miles from the location of modern-day Kivalina—as a permanent settlement, the name of which he logged as “Kivualinagmut.”
From 1896 to 1902, United States federal programs transported reindeer to the Kivalina area and funded the training of some residents as reindeer herders.
Kivalina was relocated to its current location in 1905 when the Bureau of Indian Affairs repeated the error of the Russian naval officer by mistaking a seasonal camp on the barrier reef for a year-round village. The BIA in short order built a school on the southern tip of the island and declared that any inhabitants of the barrier reef and surrounding region who did not enroll their children would be imprisoned. This order compelled the people of the original Kivalina as well as communities inland and north and south along the coast to migrate to the Kivalina created by the BIA.
Like I figured, the locals were far too smart to build permanent villages on a barrier island. They “utilized the barrier reef only as seasonal hunting grounds“. So the village is in such a dangerous, shifting location because white guys with guns threatened to throw anyone who didn’t move there in jail … charming.
Now, in response to the predictable erosion and change in the barrier island, the inhabitants of Kivalina sued ExxonMobil, claiming that CO2 was the cause of their problems … and wisely the Supreme Court threw it out.
The fact remains, however, that just as with Shishmaref and Newtok, the cause of the problems are human actions, although they have nothing to do with CO2. All three villages are in ridiculously unstable, shifting, dangerous locations for the same reason—they were rounded up by the BIA and forced to settle there.
So if I came from one of those villages, I’d want to bring suit as well … but I’d want to bring suit against the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Of course, I assume that in the usual Catch-22 fashion, you can’t do that, because the Feds are immune to most suits … grrr. I can see why the Kivalina folks are upset. I’m just afraid that they don’t have a lot of choices, and as a result they sued the wrong folks.
There is one possibility, however. Modern coastal engineering has progressed since the “just build a vertical wall” style of attempted protection represented in the picture above. The modern practice is to use cement-filled tubes of geotextile fabric that run perpendicular to the beach along the bottom of the ocean. These don’t attempt to stop the ocean, like the vertical seawall pictured above. Here’s the challenge.
Anyone wanting to change the shape of a barrier island first needs to realize that the lovely sand beach is not a solid object. It is a river of sand. Sand is constantly being picked up and moved by each and every wave, either up or down the beach. Now, if you put in a vertical seawall like the one shown in the picture, when the waves hit the seawall their energy is not dispersed. Instead, the energy is reflected down the beach. You can see the outcome in Figure 1.
First, note that in the more distant section of the island just beyond the far end of the seawall, the beach is much wider than after the start of the seawall. For the reason, look at the direction that the waves are striking. The problem is that instead of the wave energy being absorbed by the beach, it is being reflected to run parallel the seawall as a long-shore current. You can see how over time this long-shore current has scoured away the sand from the far end of the seawall, and it has deposited it at the near end.
And eventually, the seawall will be undercut entirely, because a vertical seawall also directs some of the wave energy straight downwards at the base of the wall. This scours the sand out directly under the seawall itself, and will eventually lead to its destruction and collapse. The people up in Shishmaref the Fourth First Climate Refugees, have exactly the same problem. There, a poorly designed seawall has shifted the wave energy to where it’s now eating away the town itself. Seawalls just move the wave energy parallel to the coast.
With the modern practice, however, no such vertical seawall is built. Here’s a picture of such an installation, just after construction:
Note that instead of going along the shoreline, the concrete-filled tubes go perpendicular to the beach, straight offshore into deeper water. Now, remember that a beach is essentially a river of sand. Here’s the important fact—the amount of sand that can be picked up by the water depends entirely on the speed of the water. Fast-moving water can carry more sand than slow-moving water.
So as a corollary of that, if you can slow down the water that is moving the river of sand along parallel to the shore, it will drop its load of sand, and your beach will fill in and stabilize further out into the ocean. And that’s what the tubes full of concrete do. They don’t try to stop the water. They just slow it down a bit, as though the water stubs its toe whenever it goes over one of these tubes. When it slows, it drops its sand, filling in the area in between parallel tubes. A year or so after the picture above was taken, the concrete-filled tubes you see were totally buried in the sand, and the beach extended out well beyond the point of land. Counter-intuitive in a way, because there’s no seawall parallel to the coast at all … but it works like a champ, because it works with nature, not against it like a vertical seawall tries to do. Here’s a before-and-after picture of a larger project:
Figure 4. The waves were undercutting the bluffs, threatening the highway running along the top of the cliff. The system shown in Figure 3 was used all along the coastline. You can see parts of a couple of the concrete-filled tubes perpendicular to the land near the foot of the bluff at the lower right in the second picture.
So while the existing seawall is failing, that doesn’t mean that the folks in Kivalina are out of options. Here’s the link to a main company doing this type of installation, Holmberg Technologies. The pictures above are from their website. (I have no connection with them.) If I lived in Kivalina, I’d get all my ducks in a row tomorrow, and I’d have Holmberg’s on the phone tomorrow. I’d pitch it as Holmberg’s chance to a) get some great publicity, and b) to help to right a historical wrong. The Native Corporation might even be such that Holmberg could get a tax write-off for any contributions, I’d investigate that first. Then I’d call Holmbergs, and offer that the village would provide all the labor, and pay for the concrete, if Holmberg would do the coastal engineering and provide the special geotextile fabric tubes and oversee the project. I’d offer to put their name up all over the project, and mention them prominently in all of the publicity. Can’t hurt to ask … and if they say yes, then I’d hit up the nearest concrete company to provide the concrete as a donation for the same reason. Hey, why not? Could happen. You often don’t get what you ask for, I know that … but it’s rare to get something you don’t ask for, so it’s sure worth a few phone calls. Even if Holmberg says no, I’d get an estimate from them and a plan, asking them for their best possible rates for the reasons stated above, publicity and righting a wrong. Then I’d go out and raise the money, somewhere, somehow, to hire them to do it. See if Crowley Marine or another tug company might contribute towards barging the materials there. Looking at the beach in Figure 4, you can see that by Holmberg’s standards Kivalina would be a fairly small project … just in the middle of nowhere.
Now, the best option is still for the village to move, because no matter what they do to their island, it’s still just a bog-standard barrier island, which means a shifting pile of sand in an incredibly powerful ocean. There are no guarantees in that situation, even with the best coastal engineering advice on the planet.
For example, note in Figure 2 that at the ends of the island where Kivalina is located, both of the channels are located directly across from the main river outlet on the mainland. This is a common situation with barrier islands. Gaps in the islands across from the main rivers allow flood waters running of the land to go straight out to sea.
Now, look at all of the abandoned channels in the mainland … and consider that in the past those have been the main channel, and could be again. Not “if” but when that happens, it will likely cut through or greatly change Kivalina’s island. So staying is problematic in the long term.
But given the cost of moving the village all at once, If I Ran The Zoo I think what I’d do is first hustle up the donations and the $ to install the new concrete-filled tubes to build up the protective beach on the seaside of Kivalina. That will buy some time. Then I’d pick a good spot for the village on the mainland, maybe even the spot of the ancestral village if that’s a possibility. I’d do all of the necessary local ceremonies to bless the choice, get everyone involved so it’s a true community grassroots decision. I’d divide it up into lots based on what the locals say is fair, plenty of different ways to do that, and offer them to the villagers to move to. There’s got to be better land owned by the tribe or controlled by the BIA somewhere in the area. And that way, over the next decades the population could slowly shift to their new homes, without an immediate costs of millions of dollars.
But all in all, there’s no real good answer. Tragically, it’s more of the usual kind of pain and suffering that trails the actions of the BIA like a bad smell. They have been highly corrupt and totally inefficient since their inception. They’ve screwed their “wards” out of millions and millions of dollars. They’ve taken children from their parents and forced them to stop speaking their native languages. The list of their misdeeds is very long, broken treaties and false promises and government obfuscation and embezzlement at each new page in their sordid history. Every Indian or Eskimo I’ve ever known has said that the Bureau of Indian Affairs is nothing but a nest of crooks and thieves, and in my reading I’ve never found anything to contradict that in the slightest …
Anyhow, that’s the story of the Seventh First Climate Refugees. Turns out that they aren’t climate refugees at all, they are BIA refugees. Just another in a long parade of Alaskan and other tribes who have been shafted by the BIA, forcibly settled in a totally unsuitable location, and as a result left with few good options.
Best regards to all, and as a melanin-deficient person myself, other than my poor ideas about fixing the situation, all I have to offer to the good people of Kivalina are my apologies for the historical actions of people who looked like me, and my sincere wishes for success.
PS—BBC, your climate reporting is pathetic. Doesn’t anyone there think to check up on some dewy-eyed reporter gushing on about the tragic fate of the latest batch of pseudo-refugees? Missing the facts in this story would have been understandable a decade ago, but in 2013, you guys are a running joke. Something on the order of …
How many BBC climate editors does it take to change a light bulb?
No one knows, it appears their lights went out years ago and haven’t been replaced since …
- PHOTOS: The Disappearing Village (huffingtonpost.com)
- The Inhabitants of Kivalina are the First US Climate Change Refugees (strangesounds.org)
- America’s first climate refugees (thedailystar.net)
- Alaskan Village Underwater In a Decade: America’s First Climate Change Refugees (PHOTOS/VIDEO) (hngn.com)
- Kivalina: America’s first climate change refugees: Hundreds forced to flee their Alaskan village before it disappears underwater within a decade (thisismoney.co.uk)
- Kivalina: America’s first climate change refugees: Hundreds forced to flee their Alaskan village before it disappears underwater within a decade (dailymail.co.uk)
- What is Climate Justice? (triplepundit.com)
- This Tiny Alaskan Village Will Be Underwater In Just 10 Years (fastcoexist.com)
The BBC’s insistence on describing Jerusalem as an Israeli city, despite such a status not being recognised under international law, has been condemned by Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC).
In a ruling delivered this week, the BBC Trust appears to have accepted Israel’s facts on the grounds, namely that Jerusalem is a united Israeli city.
Writing to PSC, the Trust quotes the BBC’s Senior Editorial Strategy Advisor, Leanne Buckle, in her assessment of the BBC’s decision to describe Jerusalem as an Israeli city.
The Trust writes: “The advisor [Buckle] acknowledged that Israel’s sovereignty over the whole of Jerusalem was not recognized under international law. However, she considered that Israel had de facto control over the entire city in a political, administrative and military sense. She also noted that Jerusalem was administered as a single entity by the Jerusalem municipal authority which made no distinction between East and West.”
Based on this, the Trust has said it will not consider a complaint by PSC that BBC journalists are breaching the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines on Accuracy when they refer to Jerusalem as an Israeli city.
Under international law, only West Jerusalem is considered to be under Israeli de facto control, not the whole of Jerusalem. East Jerusalem is described by the UN as Occupied Palestinian Territory that has been illegally occupied and annexed by Israel.
In recent months, items on the BBC’s Today and The World Tonight programmes have described the whole of Jerusalem as being an Israeli city. The country profile page for Israel on the BBC website states that Israel’s seat of government is ‘Jerusalem’.
To date, the BBC continues to insist that it will not change this entry to ‘West Jerusalem’.
Sarah Colborne, Director of PSC, said: “The BBC’s refusal to distinguish between East and West Jerusalem flies in the face of international law and international opinion.
“Instead, Leanne Buckle’s comments reveal that Israel’s illegal creation of facts on the ground appear to have been accepted in BBC newsrooms and by BBC senior management. What’s more, the BBC seems willing to elevate this illegality above international law in its reporting. This is extremely disturbing.”
Colborne added: “The status of Jerusalem is a sensitive issue, and all reporting relating to it should be subject to the highest standards of accuracy by responsible news organisations. The BBC appears to have thrown accuracy out of the window, along with international law. Moreover, it seems to have airbrushed Palestinians and East Jerusalem out of the picture.”
“All we’re asking is that the BBC inserts the word ‘West’ before ‘Jerusalem’ when referring to the part of the divided city that is recognised under international law as being under de facto Israeli control. It’s a question of accuracy. Why is the BBC fighting so hard against it?”
- Siam family from Sheikh Jarrah, struggling against eviction order and not giving up (palsolidarity.org)
- New Israeli Ethnic Cleansing Policy in Jerusalem (ramyabdeljabbar.wordpress.com)
News Unspun | May 8, 2013
The Syrian conflict has been accompanied by a distinct media narrative. Within this narrative – which poses a binary division between the forces engaged in the conflict, identifying the players as good (the rebels, who must receive ‘our’ support) and bad (the government) – the role the West must play is that of potential saviour, whose aim is to cautiously observe the conflict so that it may intervene to ‘fix’ the situation, as The Guardian’s Simon Tisdall put it:
So what can Obama do? As Vladimir Putin was expected to make plain to John Kerry in Moscow on Tuesday, he cannot count on Russian (or, therefore, Chinese or UN security council) support to fix Syria.
This sentiment, that the West can put right the Syrian situation, is inherent to most reporting of the conflict. The BBC recently reported that ‘the pressure to act has intensified in recent days after emerging evidence that Syria has used chemical weapons such as the nerve gas sarin’. This statement presents the existence of a ‘pressure to act’ as a given, though the source of such pressure is unidentified. From where is this pressure emerging? As a BBC report points out, public opinion in France, the UK, the US, and Germany is by majority opposed to the possibility of intervention in the conflict through sending arms and military supplies to the Syrian opposition. The BBC is not then speaking on behalf of the public majority. Pressure towards military intervention, to some extent considered a desirable option by the UK government (if it can ‘achieve the result [they] want’, as Cameron put it in an interview with Nick Robinson), is, however, increasingly mounting within the media itself.
Chemical Weapons ‘Evidence’
It is also important to note that the ‘emerging evidence’ referred to above is not conclusive despite the wording of this report. The BBC reported again on Monday 6 May that ‘Western powers have said their own investigations have found evidence that government forces have used chemical weapons’. Again, this is simply not the case. ‘Western powers’, regardless of their true intentions, have in fact been very cautious in public about how precisely they present their claims, underscoring the lack of conclusive evidence they have found and that there exists the possibility that chemical weapons had been used by the Syrian government. This misrepresentation by the BBC emerges in a context in which the use of chemical weapons has been signified by the UK and US as the point at which they may become militarily involved in the Syrian conflict. As such these details, so easily misrepresented by the BBC, are of high consequence.
(There are other examples of BBC reports dangerously getting important facts wrong about such issues: just over a year ago, for example, a BBC news report stated that the ‘International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released a report with new evidence showing Iran was secretly working towards obtaining a nuclear weapon’ – in this case the report said no such thing.)
Journalists Pushing for Intervention
In recent reports, certain BBC journalists have appeared more hawkish than government officials themselves. Take for example a question put to Cameron by the BBC’s Nick Robinson:
Do you ever fear that a terrible thing is happening in our world and that Western leaders cannot or will not act because of a fear of another Iraq?
Cameron responded with ‘I do worry about that’, before clarifying that what he has concluded from the ‘Iraq lesson’ is that the UK should only enter into conflicts it can win, that ‘the ability is there’. This is at a far remove from the implication of Robinson’s question that past ‘mistakes’ might prevent the West from playing a righteous humanitarian role. Yet Robinson’s leading question provides the basis for the seemingly unambiguous headline: ‘Cameron fears Iraq effect holding West back in Syria’.
There is a prevailing trend of journalists taking up the position of presenting the case for military intervention in Syria and proactively pushing government representatives to commit to intentions for military action. On the Andrew Marr show on 5 May Jeremy Vine asked Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond a number of questions which demonstrated this pressure by the media for the UK to become involved in the Syrian conflict. When Hammond appeared cautious regarding the prospect of military intervention, stating that the UK would need to engage in discussion with the UK’s ‘allies and partners’, Vine admonished, ‘you’re talking about having a series of meetings’. Another brief exchange emphasises Vine’s apparent desire to see the UK intervene:
Phillip Hammond: ‘Frankly that [the potential use of chemical weapons] is not what’s delivering the tally of 70,000 that have been killed… the majority of these people have been killed by conventional weapons’.
Jeremy Vine: ‘More reason to do something then…’
These comments reflect the consistency of BBC reporting which seems aimed towards creating a case for war. When Carla Del Ponte, of the UN’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, told reporters that there were ‘strong, concrete suspicions’ that the rebels – perhaps not as virtuous as would be convenient for States considering providing military support – may have used chemical weapons, the tone of BBC reporting did not suggest that the pressure for military action should be alleviated.
Analysis of Attacks on Syria: Real and Imagined
Taking the case a step further, Jonathan Marcus, the BBC’s diplomatic correspondent, discussed the various ways in which the US could attack Syria. His assessment reads more like a military strategy report than an analysis of events for a news provider. Surgical airstrikes, Marcus said, ‘could be carried out by cruise missiles launched from aircraft well outside Syrian airspace or from warships or submarines in the Mediterranean’, while a wider air campaign, ‘might have to be preceded by a significant effort to destroy missiles, associated radars and command systems and might well involve losses’. Why it is in the public interest that such analysis is brought to us by journalists is unclear. Through Marcus’s piece, which is nothing more than speculation of military strategy on an as yet non-existent, illegal military intervention, the idea of an attack on Syria from outside is normalised further.
The reporting on the air strikes that Israel has carried out on Syria also reveals how normalised warfare has become in BBC reporting, with very little discussion of casualties or of the chaos inflicted on the people who were bombed. What was important, in this story, it seems, is that Israel was protecting itself from weapons that were supposedly being transported. This is summed up in the BBC’s Q&A page on the Israeli airstrikes: in answer to the question ‘Why would Israel attack?’ we are told that ‘the statements from unnamed officials suggest Israel’s actions are defensive.’ If the Syrian government had, for example, attacked the Israeli air force within Israel, to prevent airstrikes on its own territory, it is extremely unlikely that this would be overwhelmingly reported as an act of defence. Yet when Israel bombs another country, BBC journalists and editors happily report such actions as ‘defensive’ measures.
Jonathan Marcus writes that Israel’s airstrikes are ‘designed to send a powerful signal’ (the headline: ‘Israeli air strikes: A warning to Syria’s Assad’). It is worth at this point noting that following the last Israel attack on Syria, in early 2013, Marcus also wrote that this was ‘in one sense pre-emptive, but also a warning’. It was also portrayed as a ‘signal’. That such attacks are continuously reported as warnings and signals, as seemingly rational, and therefore it seems permissible, actions, goes further to normalise them. We might wonder how many attacks Israel would have to inflict on another country before Jonathan Marcus stops referring to the attacks as ‘signals’ and ‘warnings’?
In their seeming urgency to present a case for war, BBC reporters have neglected factual accuracy of reported events. Scepticism towards the unsupported claims of Western governments, insistence upon proof, is also lacking. We are presented with a simplified narrative, of ‘good versus evil’, in which the possibility of misconduct on both sides of the conflict is considered improbable. This style of reporting very much takes its lead from the positions of Western governments. Whitehouse spokesman Jay Carney outlined the position of the US: ‘We are highly sceptical of suggestions that the opposition could have or did use chemical weapons. We find it highly likely that any chemical weapon use that has taken place in Syria was done by the Assad regime, and that remains our position’. The supposed instincts of the US or UK government, despite the inconclusive nature of the evidence, as to the righteousness of the Syrian rebels is not proof of the reality and should not be considered by journalists as such.
Former BBC broadcaster Stuart Hall has admitted assaulting 13 girls as young as nine years old between 1967 and 1986.
The former It’s A Knockout presenter was branded as an “opportunistic predator” by prosecutors after admitting he had carried out a series of attacks on girls, from whom the youngest aged just nine.
The 83-year-old, however, had previously denied the allegations against him, saying the charges were “pernicious, callous” and “cruel”.
Hall entered the guilty pleas last month at Preston Crown Court but they can only be revealed now after reporting restrictions were lifted.
Nazir Afzal, the Chief Crown Prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in the North West said no explanations could be offered for Hall’s unlawful behavior.
Hall’s confession was another blow to the British state-run broadcaster BBC, which recently came under pressure over sexual abuse allegations involving former broadcaster Jimmy Savile.
The investigation into Savile scandal has been running since late October. Since that time, Scotland Yard has been contacted by more than 500 alleged victims.