BBC’s HARDtalk program interviewed the former president of Georgia and fugitive from Georgian justice, Mikheil Saakashvili, on July 15. Saakashvili was appointed last month to the post of “governor” of the region of Odessa by Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko. While some important questions were asked of him–the criminal charges he faces in Georgia, his appointment as a foreigner to govern one of Ukraine’s most important cities and industrial regions–questions on other subjects were avoided. These included questions about the Odessa Massacre of May 2, 2014, the subsequent failure of authorities to properly investigate, the vigilante justice currently prevailing in the streets of Odessa and the plans of the Kyiv government to privatize the remaining state-owned industries and services of Ukraine, many of which are located in Odessa.
BBC also avoided questioning Saakashvili over his role as then-president of Georgia in provoking a war in South Ossetia in 2008, including his decision to intensely shell the capital city of the territory. (The BBC host voiced the Western interpretation that Saakashvili’s unfortunate adventure in 2008 led to “Russian occupation” of former regions of the country, including South Ossetia and Abkhazia.)
The corporate media in both the UK and US are attempting to portray the Iranian desire to have the arms embargo lifted, as a new and extraneous demand that could torpedo the nuclear deal. This is an entirely false portrayal.
The issue has been included in the talks since, quite literally, the very first Iranian position document. And there is a reason for that. It is absolutely part and parcel of the issue and in no way extraneous to it. If there were any real journalists employed by the corporate media, that is obvious right on the face of UN Security Council Resolution 1747 of 2007 which imposed the arms embargo. The sole and exclusive reason given for the arms embargo is Iran’s nuclear enrichment programme. And it specifically states that, once the nuclear proliferation issue is resolved, the embargo will be lifted.
Paragraph 13 reads:
(b) that it shall terminate the measures specified in paragraphs 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
and 12 of resolution 1737 (2006) as well as in paragraphs 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7 above as
soon as it determines, following receipt of the report referred to in paragraph 12
above, that Iran has fully complied with its obligations under the relevant
resolutions of the Security Council and met the requirements of the IAEA Board of
Governors, as confirmed by the IAEA Board;
It is the United States, not Iran, which is introducing extraneous factors, banging on about Yemen, Iran and Hezbollah, which are nowhere mentioned in the Security Council Resolutions.
The way this is being reported in the media is the exact opposite of the truth. The United States is attempting to welch on a deal which was not only open, but forms the very text of the security council resolution. None of the BBC’s highly paid analysts, reporters, or guest commenters is capable of noting this basic fact.
A truly disgraceful piece of distortion from the BBC’s Lyse Doucet.
The title of this film is a clear hint of the propaganda to come, based, as ever, on the fatuous ‘two sides’ narrative. There was no ‘war’, only another orchestrated massacre, a campaign of civil terror, in order to maintain Israel’s wicked, illegal siege. From the first minute of this shoddy film, one just wants to urge Doucet: tell the truth, give the context!
Yes, children suffer and die, but why is this happening? Why have so many Palestinians been murdered? Why have over 500 children been slaughtered? Why are an entire population, notably the children, so deeply traumatised? Tell the truth, provide the context!
Israel is the aggressor force. Gaza is the key target. It lies in ruins. Yet, this truly despicable film affects to argue that Sderot is part of the same ‘war zone’.
Continual reference is made to Israel targeting populated areas from where, it’s claimed, Hamas were launching rockets, just part of the loaded message that Hamas are largely responsible for the carnage.
A key section of the film is given over to Hamas fighters, youth camp training and wielding weaponry. But there’s not a single frame of an Israeli soldier, or the mass military operation engaged in the attempted annihilation of Gaza’s people. There’s no questioning, either, of how Israel has socialised so much of its youth to hate and fear Palestinians.
Standing at a Hamas training camp, Doucet laments: “For the outside world it’s hard to comprehend why parents would put children in situations like this.” But there’s no exploration of how Israel as a militarist, occupying state has conditioned so much of its own population to join in the historic oppression and mass murder of Palestinians. Indeed, the word ‘occupation’ is never used.
At one point, Doucet sits with the smiling Gazan kids and asks one of them: ‘Why do you want to be a journalist?’ The child replies in lovely innocence: ‘So I can tell people what’s going on in wars like this one’. If only Doucet could aspire to that same basic aim. One might ask Doucet, in turn: Why do you want to be a stenographer rather than a journalist?
We see more pictures of Gaza’s ruins. Doucet says: “The donors promise a lot. But politics on all sides gets in the way.” This is the extent of her ‘explanation’ of the carnage Israel has caused, the devastation it’s unleashed, its refusal to help rebuild.
Doucet’s grating commentary, over inappropriately lilting music, continues, with affected questions on whether the hate and suspicion can ever be overcome.
A scene of more families coming to settle in Israel’s border locale raises not a word of comment on the nature of Israel’s land appropriation, historic displacement of people and enduring occupation. The indoctrination of Israeli children in defending this is never mentioned, nor is the stark privilege of Israeli kids against the appalling conditions and despair of the children in Gaza. Doucet just smiles and says nothing of the staggering disparities.
I hope the families that Doucet interviewed in Gaza get to see how they’ve been used and exploited in this shabby, deceitful film.
An end credit announces that both Israel and Hamas could be indicted for war crimes, and that: ‘In May and June there were more rounds of rockets fired from Gaza and Israeli airstrikes’, the clear inference, as throughout this deeply-loaded film, that Israel is always ‘responding’ to provocative weaponry.
This is one of the worst examples of ‘two sides’ reportage ever shown. Israel couldn’t have hoped for a greater piece of mitigating hasbara. Doucet’s film is one of the most shameful pieces of ‘war journalism’ ever put out by the BBC.
She doesn’t lack human empathy for the suffering Palestinian kids, such as little Syed, still haunted by the murder of his brother and three cousins on Gaza’s beach. What she lacks, much more profoundly, is a sense of compassionate duty to say why these appalling things happened, and are still happening, to name the principal perpetrators, to be a witness for truth and justice.
Doucet’s film is an abuse of journalism, and, in its pretentious evasions, an abuse of Gaza’s suffering children.
There’s a massive spike in cancer cases in Argentina that is strongly associated with glyphosate-based herbicides. These herbicides are a huge earner for agribusiness. But don’t worry, Patrick Moore says you can drink a whole quart and it won’t harm you. Who needs independent testing? He says people regularly try to commit suicide with it but fail. They survived – just. So what’s the problem? Perfectly safe. Patrick Moore says he is ‘not an idiot’. So he must be right. Right?
Anyway, all that scare mongering about GMOs and glyphosate is a conspiracy by a bunch of whinging lavishly funded green-blob types. Former UK environment minister Owen Paterson said as much. He says those self-serving anti-GMO people are damaging the interests of the poor and are profiting handsomely. They are condemning “billions” to lives of poverty.
He voted for the illegal invasion of Iraq, which has led to the death of almost 1.5 million Iraqis. His government has plunged millions into poverty and food insecurity in the UK. He now wants to help the poor by giving them GM courtesy of self-interested, corporations and their lavishly paid executives. What was that about self-serving, lavishly funded groups? As a staunch believer in doublespeak, hypocrisy and baseless claims by self-appointed humanitarians with awful track records, Paterson’s sound-bite smears and speeches are good enough for me.
So with that cleared up, hopefully we can move on.
Then there’s all that ‘anti-capitalist twaddle’ (another pearl of wisdom from Patrick Moore) about smallholders being driven from their lands and into poverty due to a corporate takeover aimed at expanding (GM) chemical-intensive agriculture. I showed Mr Moore a paper by an economics professor who had studied the devastation caused by the above in Ethiopia. That’s where the ‘anti-capitalist twaddle’ retort came in. As I’m also a staunch believer in the power of baseless, ill-informed abuse, I was once again convinced.
What about all that rubbish about GM not having enhanced the world’s ability to feed itself? You know, all that stuff about the way it has been used has merely led to greater food insecurity. Nonsense. I watched a prime-time BBC programme recently. Some scientist in a white coat in a lab said that GM can feed the world. He’d proved it in his lab. In reality (not in a lab), the fact it hasn’t done anything of the sort over the past 20-odd years doesn’t matter. He wore a white coat and held GM patents, so he definitely knows best!
I once read that industrialised agriculture is less productively efficient than smallholder agriculture that feeds most of the world. And then I read that the world can feed itself without GMOs. According to all of this, it is current policies and the global system of food production that militate against achieving global food security.
That’s just a big old load of rubbish put together by a bunch of conspiracy mongers. Who are these people? Food and trade policy analysts, political scientists, economics professors and the like. A bunch of whining anti-capitalist promoters of twaddle. None of them have studied molecular biology so how can they possibly be qualified to talk on this? I’d rather listen to a man in a lab who says GM can feed the world. He’s much more qualified to speak on politics, trade, the environment or anthropology than a bunch of lefties who don’t know one side of a petri dish from the other.
I happen to believe a profitable techno-fix is the way to go. A techno-fix that comes courtesy of the same companies whose global influence and power are helping to destroy indigenous agriculture across the world. But this is for the good of the traditional smallholder because these companies really, really care about the poor. Okay, okay, I know the top execs over at Monsanto are bringing in a massive annual cheque – but $12.4 million per year helps motivate a CEO to get out of bed in the morning and to develop empathy with the poor – unlike that elitist, self-serving green blob lot who rake in big money – according to hero-of-the-poor, the handsomely rewarded millionaire Owen Paterson… err, let’s swiftly move on.
To divert your attention away from all that scare mongering, conspiracy theory twaddle, I want you to concentrate solely on the science of GM and nothing else. But only on the version of ‘science’ as handed down from the great lawgiver in St Louis which creates it in its own image, not least by dodging any problematic questions that may have prevented GM from going on the market in the first place. Some troublemaker recently wrote a book about that, but someone said it wasn’t worth reading – so I didn’t bother (‘Altered Genes, Twisted…’ something or other – the word escapes me; it doesn’t appear in my lexicon).
So how about joining like-minded humanitarians and the handsomely-paid people over at big bioworld? We believe in mouthing platitudes about freedom and choice while serving interests that eradicate both. And let me add that scientists know that anyone who disagrees with them is just plain dim. C S Prakash recently posted a claim that implied such on Twitter. He’s a molecular biologist, so it must be true. Of course, there are scientists who disagree with us but they are quite clearly wrong – wrong methodology, wrong findings, wrong career turn – we’ll make sure of that!
In finishing, let me make the case for GM clear, based on logic and clear-headed rationality. There are those who are just too dim to understand any of the issues to do with GM so they should put up, shut up or go away and read or write about conspiracy theories on their blogs or in their peer-reviewed non-science journals that aren’t worth the paper they are written on given that the ‘peers’ in question are probably also a bunch of left-leaning wing nuts.
By comparison, unlike those self-serving ideologues, we are totally non-political. Okay, we might be firmly supporting a neoliberalism that is dominated by unaccountable big corporations which have captured policy-making space nationally and internationally, but any discussion of that is to be avoided by labelling those who raise such matters as politically motivated. We get you to focus on ‘the science’ – that is ‘our science’ – and nothing else. The fact that some of us tend to label anyone who disagrees with us as anti-science, anti-capitalist, socialists or enemies of the poor (or even ‘murdering bastards‘) says nothing at all about our political agenda.
And the lavish funds and powerful strategic position of big agribusiness means the pro-GMO lobby can smear, exert huge political influence and also restrict choice by preventing the labelling of GM food. You see, too much choice confuses people. We take the public for fools who will swallow anything – hopefully GMOs and our sound-bite deceptions.
So rests the case for GMOs. Eloquently put? I certainly think so. But I would say that, wouldn’t I? I’m paid to.
Colin Todhunter is an extensively published independent writer and former social policy researcher based in the UK and India.
There’s something truly disturbing about the fact that British prime minister David Cameron’s efforts to decide how the media refer to Islamic State are being taken seriously. So seriously, in fact, that 120 MPs have backed the idea that the BBC should not use the name Islamic State and refer to the group by the Arabic acronym “Daesh” instead. Cameron’s argument is that Islamic State is neither Islamic nor a state.
The coverage has implied that the BBC is taking a brave editorial stand and refusing to kowtow to Cameron’s diktat. But there are already signs that the BBC may capitulate. In a statement, the BBC said: “We call the group by the name it uses itself, and regularly review our approach. We also use additional descriptions to help make it clear we are referring to the group as they refer to themselves, such as ‘so-called Islamic State’.”
Let’s put this debate in a little perspective. The Israeli army calls itself the “Israel Defence Forces”, or “IDF” for short. And yet it is not “Israeli” in the sense that it does not respresent all Israelis, especially the fifth of the population who are Palestinian, and it is not a defence force because its primary role is to enforce a belligerent occupation of Palestinians. So according to Cameron’s logic, he and the media should be referring to it as the “Zionist Occupation Forces”. I wonder if he can get 120 MPs to sign up to that idea.
Meanwhile, can we imagine the BBC issuing a statement saying that, though they refer to the Israel Defence Forces by the name they use for themselves, the broadcaster tries when possible to be clearer by using additional descriptions such as “the so-called Israel Defence Forces”?
And while we are on the subject, the world might look a very different place if groups could only call themselves names that reflected their true character. Not least Cameron’s own party would have to abandon its name the “Conservatives”. Since Margaret Thatcher began leading the party in the mid-1970s, there has been nothing “conservative” about the party in the sense that it believes in conserving tradition. At that point it became a party of neoliberal revolution, breaking up British society’s major institutions and implementing changes to allow financial speculators to sell off the family silver.
So let us agree that Cameron can insist on the BBC calling Islamic State “Daesh” when he also insists on the broadcaster referring to the Conservatives as the “Revolutionary Neoliberal Party”.
Muad’Dib’s latest film about the July 7 2005 London bombings.
After being unlawfully jailed for 157 days based on trumped-up charges, and following on from the BBC making a dedicated hit-piece on the original 7/7 Ripple Effect, the film-maker Muad’Dib expands upon the original film and has added over 60 minutes of new material connecting the dots of what most likely really did happen in London on July 7th 2005, when 3 tube-trains and a double-decker bus were exploded.
“It is an example of critical journalism thatdraws wholly on public news sources to formulate a controversial, but plausible, theory. After deploying three different theories of truth to develop insights into new and existing evidence, it is the BBC / Government theory that has a lower level of correspondence with known .facts., is incoherent to the point of being implausible, and is more likely to distort its reports because of institutional controls and political pressures.”
– Rory Ridley-Duff Ph.D., senior lecturer in human resource management
and organisation behaviour, Sheffield Hallam University.
There was nothing surprising about Israel finding itself not culpable for the killing of four boys on a Gaza beach in July last year, as it did in a military judgment released a few days ago. Israel’s investigations into its own crimes aren’t known for delivering guilty verdicts.
What was interesting, however, was the reaction of some mainstream journalists — journalists who felt they had a vested interest in this case because they had witnessed the strikes which killed the four boys from the Baker family as they played football one afternoon during Israel’s 51-day assault on Gaza.
Articles by Peter Beaumont in The Guardian and Robert Tait in The Daily Telegraph give off a sense of disbelief and indignation that the investigation by the Israeli army into the attack cleared all personnel involved and declared the incident “a tragic accident.”
Both these journalists, and Paul Mason in his blog for Channel 4 News, describe how their own observations, both during and after the attack, refute Israel’s allegations that it was targeting Palestinian fighters.
But the sense that there has been a miscarriage of justice by a reputable organization, rather than an outright cover-up by a rogue army, remains.
Struck in error?
This journalistic respect for Israel’s army is highlighted in Tait’s article, as he writes that the slaughter of the boys was “surely an indication that something had gone badly wrong in Israel’s military procedures for such a deadly strike to have been aimed at what were clearly children.”
By which he indicates his belief, shared by many mainstream journalists, that, unlike the killing of the Baker boys, the rest of Israel’s military procedures in Gaza last summer were not acts of indiscriminate slaughter.
Bombardments which leveled homes, mosques and entire neighborhoods, massacring whoever was in the vicinity, babies and children included, weren’t, according to Tait’s reasoning, deliberate acts of terror, but acceptable military activity.
The BBC, true to form, goes one step further in the esteem in which it holds the Israeli army. Its online article into Israel’s findings does nothing but quote chunks from the Israeli army report and is headlined “Gaza beach attack: Israel ‘struck boys in error.’”
There is no attempt to critically analyze the report’s conclusions, as Tait, Beaumont and Mason all did for their respective news organizations, and no Palestinian comment.
Instead, the BBC simply provides a platform for Israel’s self-exonerating report to be aired, free from the inconvenience of journalistic scrutiny.
And it ends, of course, in typical BBC fashion, by giving Israel’s excuse for attacking Gaza last July and August — “to put an end to rocket-fire and remove the threat of attacks by militants tunneling under the border” — with no mention of the Palestinian reality of occupation, siege and resistance.
It is this high regard in which many mainstream journalists hold the Israeli army which explains, perhaps, their shock that its soldiers could deliberately target children and then their disbelief that its commanders could dub that deliberate targeting an accident.
The question then is, why are mainstream journalists so easily taken in by Israeli propaganda, appearing to believe Israel’s refrain that it has “the most moral army in the world?”
The truth they ignore, and consequently fail to convey to their audiences, is that Israel kills Palestinians at will and with impunity.
Its army only announces investigations into a killing or killings on the rare occasion that Western journalists or politicians become agitated about Palestinian life being taken — usually because the killing has been caught on camera and can’t be hidden.
Those same journalists seem unware of the reality that an Israeli announcement of an “independent investigation” is nothing more than a damage limitation exercise, an exercise in “public relations” to quieten the critics, and that the word “independent” is meaningless in these cases.
It is meaningless because the outcome of an Israeli investigation into Israeli crimes will almost exclusively be a finding of Israeli innocence. There is nothing independent about the process, and it shouldn’t be reported as such.
Wake up to reality
The military’s absolution of blame for the slaughter of the Baker boys wasn’t a one-off, as the resultant mainstream reporting seemed to suggest. It was part of a pattern which will be repeated over and over until the occupation ends.
Israel is a colonial power. It will kill whoever it has to (Palestinians, >US activists, British media workers, Turkish humanitarians, UN staff) to make its colonial goals a reality. And it will lie, cover up and propagandize in exactly the same way that all colonial powers did in centuries past to get away with its crimes.
Mainstream media journalists need to wake up to these facts. They need to be sharper, more intelligent and more astute in the way they cover Israel and the occupation. They need to read and understand history, especially European colonial history, and they need to embrace, rather than dismiss, context in their reporting.
Israel didn’t just kill those four young boys last summer. Its warplanes, warships and tanks wiped out 89 entire Palestinian families, wiped out 504 Palestinian children at an average rate of 10 a day, wiped out a total of more than 2,200 Palestinians.
Its politicians and military should be tried for all these crimes. And they should be tried in a properly independent manner — or as independently as the world allows — at the International Criminal Court. This is what the mainstream media should be clamoring for. Not expressing polite surprise that an “independent” Israeli inquiry acquitted Israel of deliberately slaying four little Palestinian boys who dared to play football in Gaza.
The BBC has acknowledged that its presenter Sarah Montague did not adequately challenge controversial comments made by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon about Palestine on the broadcaster’s flagship Radio 4 “Today” program.
Head of Editorial Complaints Fraser Steel wrote to complainants admitting that, while there were some mitigating reasons, the interview with Ya’alon fell below the standards of impartiality required of the BBC.
“Mr Ya’alon was allowed to make several controversial statements on those matters without any meaningful challenge and the program makers have accepted that the interviewer ought to have interrupted him and questioned him on his assertions.”
In a statement, a BBC spokesman said: “The BBC has reached a provisional finding that the complaints should be upheld and will be taking comments from the complainants into account before finalizing the outcome.”
The interview, which took place on March 19, saw the minister make a number of contestable claims which political groups say went unchallenged.
These include Ya’alon’s claim that Palestinians “enjoy already political independence. They have their own political system, government, parliament, municipalities and so forth. And we are happy with it. We don’t want to govern them whatsoever.”
On its website, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) said Montague failed to raise a number of obvious counterpoints, including the point that “Palestinians don’t have political independence. They live under occupation and, in Gaza, under siege.”
The PSC also said: “In the West Bank, Israel arrests and detains Palestinian MPs, often without charge or trial. West Bank Palestinians’ taxes are collected by Israel and then handed to the Palestinian Authority.
“Israel regularly withholds the tax revenue from the PA when it goes against its wishes.”
One of the most prominent complaints came from filmmaker and activist Ken Loach. His letter, sent via the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, read: “You understand, I’m sure, that this interview is a serious breach of the requirement for impartiality. Unlike all other Today interviews, the minister was allowed to speak without challenge. Why?”
“You and your interviewer have seriously betrayed your obligation to report impartially and to challenge assertions that are unsustainable.”
In March, BBC Director-General Lord Hall said reporting on the Israel-Palestine conflict was “tough,” but insisted the corporation aimed to be balanced in its coverage.
Hall added that the broadcaster was committed to its coverage of the Middle East, including Israel and Palestine.
Speaking before a 200-person audience at ORT UK’s business breakfast on Tuesday, the BBC boss said: “It is hard … tough. We do aim to give as impartial coverage as [best] we can across the period.”
“I do not want you to doubt for one second our commitment to the coverage of Israel and Palestine – but also the wider Middle East,” he said.
An independent review of the BBC’s Israel-Palestine coverage published in 2006 found the corporation offered an “incomplete” and “misleading” picture of the conflict.
Chaired by Sir Quentin Thomas, the report said the BBC failed to “convey adequately the disparity in the Israeli and Palestinian experience, reflecting the fact that one side is in control and the other lives under occupation.”
… as America debates the possibility of a full-scale ground invasion of ISIS-controlled territory, it’s important to note that much of the ISIS threat — namely that which targets the West — has been habitually overstated by an uncritical media.
In no particular order, here are the ten most bogus ISIS scare stories over the past year:
1. Female genital mutilation edict – July 2014
Who it fooled: Most major media outlets from Time to Reuters to The Atlantic to the BBC (whose story has since been scrubbed online). Above all, the UN itself.
Why it’s bogus: Actual residents of Mosul and regional experts quickly knew it reeked. The story was subsequently discredited by experts and jouranalists and called a hoax soon after.
2. Church-burning in Mosul – July 2014
Who it fooled: Human Rights Watch, The Atlantic, The Independent, The Times of India
Why it’s bogus: An intrepid archaeologist, Sam Hardy, called BS and thanks to the magic of reverse image Google search and some prodding by yours truly, it was eventually retracted by several outlets and never mentioned again.
3. ISIS in Mexico – October 2014
Who it fooled: Fox News, Judicial Watch, The Inquisitr.
Why it’s bogus: Absurd on its face, the story was quickly and roundly debunked.
4. ISIS recruiting emo British teen – December 2014
Who it fooled: Metro, The Daily Mail, The Telegraph
Why it’s bogus: The person who uploaded the picture admitted on Twitter it was a fake. The media subsequently deemed it a “hoax”.
5. ISIS Caliphate map – July 2014
Who it fooled: ABC News, International Business Times, Breitbart
Why it’s bogus: The original story from ABC News cited a map that had been floating around the Internet for months. To this day, its one and only source is a tweet from a noted white supremacist website Third Position.
io9.com and others eventually deemed it a hoax.
6. ISIS beheads Christian children – Aug 2014
Who it fooled: Originally asserted on CNN by self-proclaimed Iraqi-Christian activist Mark Arabo–a grocery story industry lobbyist whose previous media appearance was on a local San Diego news channel to oppose an increase in minimum wage–this story spread among right-wing and Christian media.
Why it’s bogus: After a fairly thorough inquiry, snopes eventually determined the claim was “inconclusive,” having found no independent evidence it occurred.
7. $425m bank robbery – June 2014
Who it fooled: The Washington Post, International Business Times, Fox News, Mic, Vocativ
Why it’s bogus: The story was based solely on accounts from the former mayor of Mosul and was later found to be uncredible by The Financial Times and, ultimately, US officials themselves.
8. ‘Over 100 Americans have joined ISIS’ – October 2014
Who it fooled: NBC News, Washington Post, Al Jazeera
Why it’s bogus: After the FBI admitted there were only “about a dozen” Americans fighting alongside jihadists in Syria in September 2014, several media outlets continued to report “over 100,” despite the government correcting the record several weeks prior.
Who it fooled: The Daily Mail, McClatchy
Why it’s bogus: Yours truly showed that the “Twitter storm” was simply a reposting of weeks- or months-old tweets by an overzealous ISIS fanboi.
10. ISIS’s ebola terror plot – December 2014
Who it fooled: The Daily Mail, Fox News, Mashable, random right-wing media
Why it’s bogus: “Iraqi media” was the only source for the story, and the Iraqi minister of Health quickly debunked it.
A new website spoofs preposterous claims regarding climate change:
“I’ve started a website with the idea of making it entertaining as well as informative. The website presents global warming predictions that have been made over the past 40 or so years, especially predictions that are either contradictory or alternatively plainly ridiculous and thus amusing.”
Climate change can also affect the Earth’s spin. Previously, Felix Landerer of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. and colleagues showed that global warming would cause Earth’s mass to be redistributed towards higher latitudes. Since that pulls mass closer to the planet’s spin axis, it causes the planet to rotate faster – just as an ice skater spins faster when she pulls her arms towards her body. – New Scientist 20 Aug 2009
Belgian scientists have identified a hitherto unsuspected benefit of global warming – more time for all of us. They say increasing levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere will slow the Earth’s rotation. They used computer models to analyse the effect of adding 1% more CO2 to the atmosphere annually. – BBC News, 12 Feb 2002
On the 21st January the UK’s Channel 4 news had a discussion about the fact that the long-awaited Chilcot Inquiry into Britain’s involvement in the illegal war in Iraq will not be released until after the general election in March. On the 29th of January a sizeable group of demonstrators protested outside the Houses of Parliament against the continuing suppression of the Chilcot Report — now five years late. Whilst this story was covered on Russia Today, not a single mention of it was made on the BBC’s six o’ clock news. None of this is surprising: both Labour and the Tories were complicit in authorising the unlawful adventure in Iraq, therefore neither will want the unhelpful publicity the inquiry might generate.
In the Channel 4 show, John Rentoul was appearing representing Tony Blair’s position. Mr Rentoul is apparently Blair’s biographer. If there’s one book that’s surely not worth the paper it’s written on, that must be it; because Mr Rentoul’s spirited defence of Blair suggested very strongly that impartial record-making is not likely to be much in evidence in his book. For Blair is surely the most evil person that Britain has produced in recent times, and anything that suggests otherwise is being very economical with the truth. The award for most wicked monster in modern times was undoubtedly held by Margaret Thatcher, until Blair came along. Let’s consider some of the more obvious charges against him.
When he was first brought to power in 1997, it was because the country was sick to death of years of Thatcherism (the “austerity” of its day). Margaret Thatcher was primarily responsible for starting the ruination of Britain, as it was she who began the plundering of public assets (selling-off public utilities such as British Rail and British Airways, British Gas and British Telecom), and the killing-off of Britain’s manufacturing base – the main source of the nation’s wealth. Thatcher was unquestionably a monster, but at least she never seriously pretended to be anything else: she was, after all, a Tory. If you vote Tory that’s the sort of thing you should expect to get. Blair, on the other hand, was quite different: he was also a traitor. In 1997 people voted for him in their millions expecting traditional Labour values to scrap the years of painful plundering, and a fresh start to rebuilding the country. What they got was yet more and more painful plundering. So that’s the first major charge against Blair: his utter betrayal of British voters in general, and Labour voters in particular.
Then, of course, came the illegal war in Iraq in 2003. We’ll possibly never know the full truth behind Blair’s involvement in this, but that he was hugely complicit in what was unquestionably a massive war crime is beyond doubt. So that’s the second charge against Blair: he’s a war criminal.
Those two charges are more than enough to ensure the man is forever reviled – on a par even with the worst of the worst Nazi war criminals. The Nazis could at least have pleaded that there was no historical precedent for such a thing as war crime. Nuremberg eliminated that excuse. In other words Blair, who is a trained lawyer, should have known full well he was committing a war crime. He just didn’t care. His hubris is such that he clearly deems himself above the law.
However, there’s something else that must not be forgotten, a charge that is arguably even more serious than the first two. When Blair ordered a country that was mostly opposed to war to subordinate itself to the American war criminal George Bush, he immediately signed the death warrants of 179 British military personnel and, which is even worse, ordered tens of thousands of British military personnel to become war criminals themselves, just like him. Although it’s highly unlikely that any British soldier will ever have to appear in a court of law to face such charges, the fact is that in theory at least they could. In theory, every man and woman who took part in Bush’s illegal war could be charged with committing a war crime; because Nuremberg ensured, rightly, that the plea of “just following orders” is no longer an acceptable excuse for taking part in the greatest abomination that human beings are capable of committing: war.
If there were such a thing as real justice Tony Blair should spend the rest of his days behind bars, and there are plenty of others who should join him.