… 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
2. Church-burning in Mosul – July 2014
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
Why it’s bogus: Absurd on its face, the story was quickly and roundly debunked.
4. ISIS recruiting emo British teen – December 2014
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
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.
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
8. ‘Over 100 Americans have joined ISIS’ – October 2014
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.
9. #AllEyesOnISIS “Twitter storm” – June 2014
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
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.
I wonder how many people have heard of Mohammed Siyam? While the Western media went into overdrive over the tragedy of the synagogue killings in Jerusalem, little Mohammed lay gasping, fighting for his life on an operating table in Turkey.
As two crazed men, armed with knives, unleashed a brutal, indiscriminate attack on the unsuspecting Jewish congregation, the 14-year-old was just one of many Palestinian children who had already had his limbs sheared off in a brutal, indiscriminate attack.
That the 14-year-old had survived this long was a miracle in itself. He lost both of his legs during Israel’s war against the civilians of Gaza in the summer; the Israeli airstrike also blew 12 members of his family to pieces with bombs deliberately designed to kill and maim human beings. The courageous youngster, an innocent child who had already survived three wars in his short life, finally gave up his struggle and was pronounced dead on Tuesday during yet another operation; this one was on his lungs and respiratory tract.
There was no media present at his burial, no headlines as his body was lowered into the grave. In that he was no different to the 570 other Palestinian children from Gaza who were killed by Israel’s summer blitz; his passing went unnoticed.
The Western media, it seems, is not interested when the dead come from the Gaza Strip where 2,140 Palestinians paid the ultimate price this summer alone for having the misfortune to live in the world’s largest open air prison. While death and destruction destroyed the sanctity of one place of worship in Jerusalem there was little outrage vented in the West when even worse rained down in Gaza just months earlier. That the Israeli onslaught destroyed 73 mosques in 51 days, while 205 others were partially destroyed, barely registered in the Western media.
Other statistics brushed aside by the media routinely during Israel’s war included the 11,000 who were injured, many of them women and children. According to the UN, Israel’s bombs destroyed or damaged thousands of civilian buildings, including the only power plant and more than 220 schools, many run by the international body. The much fewer Israeli casualties, almost all of them soldiers, received far more media exposure.
Probably one of the worst offenders of the “Ostrich approach” to Palestinian casualties is the BBC, which has a global reputation for gold standard reporting, except when it comes to the Middle East. BBC News online headlines screamed, “Bloody attack at Jerusalem synagogue” with breaking news being updated in a live blog every few minutes followed by detailed analysis and the ubiquitous Israel spokesmen. Sky News also went into overdrive and before long most TV and online media were relaying images of bloodied prayer shawls and ambulances and the general chaos associated with such an atrocity.
Interviews at the scene followed and blurred video footage taken by a passer-by was also shown. As a journalist with more than 35 years in the business it was, I would say, a job well done. What makes me despair at the standard of journalism, though, is the lack of coverage of similar atrocities carried out by Israelis against Palestinians; they barely make it into the mainstream.
Look at the following observations compiled by the excellent NGO Friends of Al-Aqsa, of which I’m a member:
- Palestinian bus driver Hassan Yousef Al-Ramouni, believed to have been lynched by Israeli settlers, was not mentioned at all by the BBC until the attack on the synagogue, when his death was mentioned only in reference to a Hamas statement about events at the synagogue. AFP and major Israeli outlets reported Hassan’s death.
- On November 11th, the BBC reported the killing of 22-year-old Imad Jawabreh using quotation marks around “shot dead by the Israeli army” as if there was any conflicting report over who had killed the young man. By the fourth paragraph of the BBC report, there was mention of attacks against an Israeli soldier and civilians in an attempt to contextualise the killing. By contrast, the article on the synagogue attack contains no reference to killings of Palestinians by Israelis, which might have added some context to the attack. Unlike the story about the synagogue, there was no live blog and no use of evocative imagery; instead, a generic image of an Israeli jeep was the backdrop.
- The BBC only reported once on the killing of Khayr Al-Din Hamdan, shot dead by Israeli police while his back was turned. The incident was caught on camera, but the BBC has not followed up on this clear example of police brutality against Palestinians.
Long ago as it was, I still recall as a trainee being told that every life is precious and there is no room for discrimination when covering an atrocity. It was drummed into us aspiring young journalists that not only must we be impartial but we must also be fair and just. It appears that those standards are no longer applicable in the BBC when it comes to Palestine.
If you needed proof, tell me in all honesty if you had heard Mohammed Siyam’s name before you read this article; or even that a little Palestinian boy who had lost both his legs and 12 members of his family in the summer war had now lost his life? If you had, it is almost certain that it was no thanks to the BBC and other mainstream media.
Internationally-renowned filmmaker, Ken Loach, has slammed the state-run BBC for its pro-Israel bias in the coverage of the ongoing war on the Gaza Strip.
Loach, who has participated in an ongoing occupation campaign in front of the BBC headquarters in the British southwestern city of Bristol, slammed BBC policies, saying, “We should note that many at the BBC, including senior staff, are embarrassed by the broadcaster’s coverage that has an obvious pro-Israel bias.”
“They don’t put the views of Palestinians to the Israelis during interviews, while the use of language about Gazans is pejorative and the war crimes being committed against them ignored…. They’re not ‘militants’ or ‘terrorists,’ they’re ‘resistance fighters,’” he said, adding, “It’s the BBC, we own it, so it should be answerable.”
Loach noted that BBC editors will have to be accountable over the public protest against the broadcaster’s coverage of the Gaza war, stressing that BBC should undergo “tactical” transformations in its broadcasting policies.
Palestine campaigners have occupied the front lawn of the BBC headquarters in Bristol since last week despite the broadcaster’s threat to get them evicted from the site.
Other high-profile artists and campaigners, including celebrated comedian Mark Thomas, have also voiced support for the occupy campaign.
“The BBC reporting of the Israeli military assault on Gaza has failed time and time again to contextualize the violence, refusing to explain the occupation of Palestine and the siege of Gaza,” Thomas said.
The pro-Palestine campaigners also joined thousands of protesters against “Israeli genocide” on Saturday. The demonstration was the biggest protest in Bristol in a decade.
The campaigners also plan to present a “damning dossier” to BBC Bristol TV editor Neil Bennett next week, which incorporates evidence of the broadcaster’s biased coverage of the Gaza war.
They have also organized public burning of TV licenses and the occupation’s court summons and plan to resist any action aimed at evicting them from the site.
More than 1,822 people, including 400 children, have been killed and over 9,400 injured since July 8, when Israel began its offensive against the Gaza Strip.
While the Israeli military says 64 soldiers have been killed in the conflict, Palestinian resistance movement Hamas puts the fatalities at more than 150.
Newsnight on 30 July 2014 covered the ongoing situation in the Middle East and opened with a short film by BBC journalist Mark Urban which discussed 5 reasons that the “Middle East is in Turmoil” (video and full transcript is below). The discourse is worth noting, particularly as it fails to address entire episodes of contemporary history. The film is made for a British audience yet fails to inform viewers about British Foreign Policy which has undeniably influenced recent developments in the Middle East. References are made to the creating of states in the Middle East by European Colonial powers, however more recent history (including the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, and the bombing of Libya), is all but ignored.
It does not even enter the discussion that UK policy towards Iraq, Libya, Syria and Israel can be partly to blame for today’s violence in those countries. Instead, Urban credits the west with a supposed attempt to bring liberal democracy to the Middle East:
Mark Urban: There is another thing that’s become clear too, that trying to drop another western construct – liberal democracy – into the current cauldron of the Middle East simply isn’t going to work.
The five reasons for the turmoil (the last of which, “Be worried”, is not a reason) given by Urban are:
1. New ideology (the rise of political Islam)
2. Collapse of the Arab Spring (fragmentation of states; violence and turmoil)
3. New borders (ISIS, Syria/Iraq, Libya, Israel)
4. New alliances (Shia alliances and Sunni alliances)
5. Be worried
The final point, “Be worried”, focuses on the threat that Europe and the US might face (Urban: “Should we in the west be worried? Yes and deeply. […] whether or not we want to get involved, we will be affected.”). Noting that parts of the Middle East could become a “home for piracy, extremism and perhaps even the next 9/11″, Urban’s film does not attempt to contextualise any reasons that this may be linked to western foreign policy.
Given that the BBC is tasked with serving the public interest, we might hope that such a film would at the very least incorporate publicly available factual information about the UK’s role in the modern Middle East. Instead, the naïve supposed role of western power – well-meaning but prone to mistakes – is upheld in this Newsnight short film.
Amnesty International recently released a report on “stomach-turning” violence in Eastern Ukraine (“Abduction and Tortures in Eastern Ukraine,” – see for example BBC coverage here). According to the report, the acts of violence are perpetrated chiefly by pro-Russian separatist groups.
The Amnesty International report and its conclusion about rebel responsibility for the majority of violence does’t hold water and has little in common with reality. The violence in Ukraine in general is not properly analyzed, and the report is quite biased. Rather than the rebels, it is the Ukrainian army and the pro-EuroMaidan forces that are responsible for the abductions and abuses.
Firstly, rebels in Eastern Ukraine enjoy almost 100% support of the local population. There is no need for them to commit any kind of violence targeting the locals. The Ukrainian army, on the contrary, is viewed as a cruel enemy and Ukrainian soldiers feel the animosity of the locals. Simple logic would argue that it is the army that has felt the need to repress its local adversaries through violence. Moreover, it suffices to speak with any of the thousands of refugees from Eastern Ukraine and listen to their stories about the barbaric methods used by the army to break the resistance, to be persuaded that the Ukrainian army bears the responsibility for the majority of kidnappings and tortures.
Secondly, it’s well known that EuroMaidan was supported by Ukrainian neo-Nazi organizations. After the success of EuroMaidan its leaders enrolled their neo-Nazi supporters into newly formed police and National Guard battalions (“Azov”, “Donbas” and so on). From time to time foreign media speak of the neo-Nazi background of such Ukrainian military units, but most of the time this fact is hidden. It’s hard to expect any respect for human rights or any other kind of law observance from these soldiers.
The facts show that EuroMaidan authorities started the terror campaign promptly after toppling the former government, that is to say long before the start of the war. The spiral of violence raging now in Eastern Ukraine is the sequel of the geopolitical drama called EuroMaidan.
In addition, to see the whole scale of violence in Ukraine one should gather information about abductions, tortures and other ill-treatment throughout the country and not only in Eastern Ukraine. And the time period should be enlarged: it’s necessary to take into consideration all of the violence perpetrated since the victory of EuroMaidan and not only since the beginning of the hostilities.
When the new post-EuroMaidan government was formed it unleashed unprecedented repressive measures, which became more and more stringent and violent. Policemen and their families were the first targets. They were threatened anonymously, their apartments burnt and some policemen killed.
Not only were policemen tracked down, but any conspicuous person loyal to the previous government. Unacceptable newspapers were forcibly closed, independent journalists arrested. The most radical pro-European movement, “Right Sector,” put forward the idea that “the revolution continues and we will hunt down the enemies of the revolution”. After that civic activists were subjected to brutal attacks and the most active of them were arrested. Now Kiev goes even further. Following the example of the US in Iraq, the Ukrainian authorities are producing playing cards with faces of the rebel commanders as well as faces of “wrong” journalists, for the soldiers in Eastern Ukraine. The army must either arrest or kill them.
After EuroMaidan, Ukraine is a country full of political prisoners. The number of well-known journalists and writers who have had to escape from the country is rather high: Alexander Chalenko, Rostislav Ishchenko, Vladimir Rogov, myself, and many others. Even high-ranking Congressmen of the Ukrainian parliament, such as the anti-EuroMaidan politician Oleg Tsarov, have had to leave Ukraine under the threat of arrest. Before fleeing Tsarov was attacked by a crowd of EuroMaidan activists and savagely beaten. The video of the attack as well as Tsarov with torn clothes and bruises was shown on TV. His house in Dnepropetrovsk was burnt by Molotov cocktails thrown by well-known “unknown” perpetrators.
Now Tsarov gives juridical assistance to police officers and civil activists persecuted by the new authorities. According to Tsarov, many people are being arrested throughout Ukraine and prisons are filled with political prisoners. The latest case has been the arrest of Alexander Samoylov, the vice-rector of International Slavonic University in Charkov. The picture of Samoylov beaten, with black bruises around his eyes, is circulating on the internet.
The violence against ideological rivals has turned into political advertising for the Ukrainian politicians supporting EuroMaidan, aimed toward dissuasion. Congressmen from the well-known xenophobic nationalistic party Svoboda forcibly entered the office of the Ukrainian National TV Channel director, beat him and forced him to resign. They disliked how the TV channel covered the Crimean conflict between Moscow and Kiev.
Notorious congressman and leader of the Radical party Oleg Liashko is famous for his PR actions in the zone of hostilities. He often shows up there accompanied by a large number of bodyguards and demonstrates his attitude towards the population of Eastern Ukraine. There are many videos showing Liashko humiliating his opponents and threatening to kill them — like in this video where Liashko and his bodyguards rudely force a local deputy in Slawiansk to resign and threaten to lynch him in a town square – or threatening to throw them into prison, like in this video where Liashko interrogates a 68-year old man with a sack on his head and threatens to keep him in prison until death.
It’s worth mentioning that in March 2014, a month before the beginning of hostilities between Kiev and the rebel provinces, and when dialogue was still possible, Liashko ordered one of the Eastern Ukrainian leaders, Arsen Klinchaev, to be arrested. This was carried out in a rude and humiliating manner and Liashko himself took part in the action. Klinchaev was arrested in his office and not with arms in hand, but was treated like a dangerous terrorist.
Instead of dialogue, Kiev has chosen violence.
Vladislav Gulevich is a Ukrainian journalist and political analyst who has recently fled to Russia. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Rasmussen Poll: 63% say the debate about global warming is not over, 60% pan BBC’s decision to exclude skeptics
From Rasmussen Reports:
Voters strongly believe the debate about global warming is not over yet and reject the decision by some news organizations to ban comments from those who deny that global warming is a problem.
Only 20% of Likely U.S. Voters believe the scientific debate about global warming is over, according to the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Sixty-three percent (63%) disagree and say the debate about global warming is not over. Seventeen percent (17%) are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
Forty-eight percent (48%) of voters think there is still significant disagreement within the scientific community over global warming, while 35% believe scientists generally agree on the subject.
The BBC has announced a new policy banning comments from those who deny global warming, a policy already practiced by the Los Angeles Times and several other media organizations. But 60% of voters oppose the decision by some news organizations to ban global warming skeptics. Only 19% favor such a ban, while slightly more (21%) are undecided.
But then 42% believe the media already makes global warming appear to be worse than it really is. Twenty percent (20%) say the media makes global warming appear better than it really is, while 22% say they present an accurate picture. Sixteen percent (16%) are not sure.
Still, this is an improvement from February 2009 when 54% thought the media makes global warming appear worse than it is. Unchanged, however, are the 21% who say the media presents an accurate picture.
David Attenborough was my favorite wildlife cinematographer and each year I fed my students numerous clips to make biology and ecology come alive. Researching the plight of the polar bears, I began to worry that “my hero” had decided to use his spectacular wildlife videos to promote catastrophic climate change.
The first example that raised my suspicions was his portrayal of polar bears feeding on walruses, with a narration suggesting it was a new behavior desperately driven by climate change. But for us ecologists who know better: shame on you David Attenborough. He ignored documented wildlife history and cherry-picked a dramatic scene to promote climate fear.
First view this older BBC video pitting polar bears against walrus. Notice how many bears are converging on the walrus herd and that they are coming from the land. Then view Attenborough’s “new and improved video” that puts a very misleading slant on polar bears and walruses.
If you want to read historical facts about walruses and polar bears, I suggest reading Francis H. Fay’s 1982 “Ecology And Biology Of The Pacific Walrus, Odobenus rosmarus, Divergens Illiger.” In the 1950s, Fay was concerned that the walrus was headed for extinction due to over-hunting for ivory and blubber so Fay set out to document everything there was to know about walruses.
In his tome, Fay published early 1900 observations by Russian researchers who admired the polar bears’ varied and clever tactics for hunting walrus.
“The walruses on Peschan Island are frequently bothered by bears, which creep up to them under cover of uneven terrain and of driftwood, of which there usually is an abundance, along the shore. Sometimes the bears dig pits in the sand or make a pile in front of themselves in order to hide from the walruses. We saw a bear in a pit dug in the driftwood within 50 m of the herd, where it watched for a long time. Suddenly, it leaped from its concealment and plunged along the flat terrain toward the walruses. The animals, upon seeing the running bear, rushed into the water, and when the bear reached those on shore, only a few large males remained, and these gradually pivoted into the water, threatening with roars and swinging tusks. The bear in his misfortune was unable to decide whether or not to enter the water and only brandished his paws helplessly and growled in discontent. Not infrequently, in the confusion, the adult walruses crush some young; possibly, at the time of the attack, the bears hope to profit from such accidentally crushed or abandoned young.”
Anyone familiar with the scientific literature knows polar bears have been hunting walruses since recorded history and most certainly before that time. More recently researchers reporting to the Polar Bear Specialist Group meeting speculated that hunting walruses on land was likely to be a behavior that has allowed bears to survive the lack of sea ice that was far more common through out the Holocene Optimum.
For example, Wrangel Island is both home of one of the largest known polar bear denning areas in the Arctic as well as the location of several traditional walrus land haul-outs each summer. Because walruses often get trampled at these haul-outs, bears eagerly supplement their diet by feeding on the trodden carcasses. In addition, polar bears will wait at these haul outs anticipating the summer wave of walrus herds that typically come ashore and then dine on weak or young walruses. Seasoned bears know to avoid a healthy bull.
In 2007 the 2nd greatest decrease in Arctic sea ice was observed in the waters surrounding Wrangel Island. That summer researchers observed the greatest number of polar bears on the island. However, contrary to the less ice-means-starving-bear theory, there were no signs of increased nutritional stress. Quite the opposite.
Anticipating the seasonal haul-out of walruses, the bears concentrated along the beaches where they were easily observed by researchers who determined that less than 5% of the Wrangel Island bears were designated skinny or very skinny. That compared very favorably to the 7 to 15% of skinny bears observed in previous years with heavier ice. Furthermore researcher determined that not only did 29% of all bears look “normal”, the remaining 66% were fat or very fat. Those polar bear experts wrote, “Under certain circumstances, such as were observed on Wrangel Island in 2007, (Ovsyanikov and Menyushina 2008, Ovsyanikov et al., 2008), resources available in coastal ecosystems may be so abundant that polar bears are able to feed on them more successfully than while hunting on the sea ice.”
With that scientific background, view Attenborough’s rendition and ask yourself if he is objectively narrating the video. He ignores the bears and walruses’ natural history to suggest polar bears have only recently attacked walruses out of desperation. Attenborough suggests the lone bear had been desperately swimming for days trying to reach the island. However, without a radio-collar on the bear, one must wonder if Attenborough is using creative license. And why is Attenborough “serendipitously“ set up in this location to film this event??? Is it a traditional walrus hunting spot and not the rare event his video suggests?
Researchers have documented instances of younger bears who have not mastered hunting walrus that resulted in injury, but it is a matter of a younger bears evolving experience. Attenborough marries an uncommon hunting failure to climate change. Playing sad music, he suggests that bears only attack walruses as an unnatural last resort; suggesting that, in essence, it is a climate change driven act that is suicidal and doomed to increase.
To my increasing dismay, my former wildlife hero seems to be plunging more deeply into climate propaganda. Attenborough has a new series on Discovery called Africa but it might as well be called “Let’s Push Climate Fear“.
Take for instance his video segment, shown below, on Green Turtles. He accurately tells us that unlike humans who determine gender via the X and Y chromosomes, Green Turtles (as well as several other reptiles) determine the next generation’s gender based on the temperature of the developing eggs. Researchers realized this when trying to save endangered sea turtles from depredation and dug up their eggs to “safely” incubate them. Fearing that buried eggs at the bottom of the pile had not benefited equally from the sun’s warmth, the eggs were laid out evenly on trays so all could incubate at the same temperature. The result was uni-sex baby turtles.
However, turtles have been around since the dinosaurs and their temperature-gender system has been completely successful throughout monumental periods of climate change, massive extinctions, and epochs with far warmer temperatures than today. Attenborough should tell his audience that micro-climates are far more critical to their success as well as informing the public that temperatures drop off dramatically with depth in the sand. Nonetheless he warns that due to global warming, female turtles will soon have great difficulty finding a male. Shameful propaganda Sir David!
* Author Jim Steele is Director emeritus Sierra Nevada Field Campus, San Francisco State University.
Fay, F. (1982) Ecology and Biology of Odobenus rosmarus the Pacific Walrus, divergens. US. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, North American Fauna, No. 74.
Ovsyanikov N.G., and Menyushina I.E. (2008) Specifics of Polar Bears Surviving an Ice Free Season on Wrangel Island in 2007. Marine Mammals of the Holarctic. Odessa, pp. 407-412.
Segments of this essay are adapted from Jim Steele’s Landscapes & Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism
The message is simple: DON’T EVER VOTE FOR A FRIEND OF ISRAEL.
Please distribute this video as widely as possible. It is one of the few chances that the Un-chosen People have of fighting back.
But be careful who you ask for advice. If I were a Friend of Israel (perish the thought) I would try to infiltrate as many anti-Israel organisations that I could, including websites that purported to be pro-Palestinian.
Remember Mossad’s motto: “By way of Deception, Thou Shalt Do War.”
6-year-old child detained on his way to school – YouTube
Palestinian being Tasered
Nabi Sala Video
انظرو كيف تعامل النساء-Women in Palestine
Gaza in Plain Language — YouTube (Anthony Lawson)
The BBC/Panorama programme Death in the Med. It is best to search the web for a version that can be watched where you are.
BBC Bias: The Gaza Freedom Flotilla (Anthony Lawson)
BBC Trust’s Finding re complaints about Death in the Med
Highlights from the BBC’s flagship news and current affairs programme, Newsnight, broadcast less than 10 hours after the attacks on September 11.
Notable for statements by Richard Perle, who appears keen throughout to imply a connection with Iraq and Iran — thus sticking to the Project for the New American Century script, of which he is co-author.
Bush and top administration officials issued 935 false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks. These statements were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the U.S. to war under decidedly false pretenses.
935 LIES to start bloody and vicious wars to destroy Israel’s enemies. Richard Pearle is an agent of influence for Israel.
The effect of the Parliament’s decision not to attack Syria last year is still reverberating through the Western military establishment.
Let’s not forget that the decision was forced on the political elite. In the days before the vote the BBC was openly speculating that any such decision would re-ignite Iraq war levels of protest. They cited opinion polling going back a decade to show that anti-war opinion had become entrenched in the UK.
Many MPs in the lobbies did not hide the fact that they were embarrassed at the Iraq vote in 2003 and were unwilling to follow the government into another deeply unpopular conflict.
More recently the Guardian has reported that the Ministry of Defence is worried that multi-culturalism in Britain has made the country systematically averse to war: ‘The MoD is still taking stock of the surprise decision of the House of Commons last summer to reject military intervention to punish President Assad of Syria for the use of chemical weapons against rebel forces’.
In fact the situation is so serious that it is impacting on the defence review, ‘A growing reluctance in an increasingly multicultural Britain to see UK troops deployed on the ground in future operations abroad is influencing the next two strategic defence reviews, according to senior figures at the Ministry of Defence’.
In the wake of the Syria vote, Robert Gates, US imperial Grandee and former Defense Secretary and director of the CIA who served under both Bush and Obama, has said the defence spending cuts in the UK mean that the ‘special relationship’ is over and that Britain ‘won’t have full spectrum capabilities and the ability to be a full partner as they have been in the past’.
This combination of a crisis in public support for military adventures and the usual push-back from the military over defence cuts is casting a new light over the debate about the 100 year commemoration of the First World War.
David Cameron has long made it clear that huge set-piece public spectaculars are part of the government’s way of getting through the recession. The Queen’s Jubilee and the Olympics were part of this ‘no bread and circuses’ strategy.
The First World War commemoration was initially thought of mainly in this register, although it was always also going to be about refurbishing the standing of the military as well.
But now, as neo-con Michael Gove’s recent intervention into the debate has made clear, it’s become an ideological offensive bound up with the post-Syria vote crisis of interventionism. Remember Gove was incandescent at the loss of the Syria vote, publically and abusively bawling out Labour MPs in the House of Commons corridors because the vote, he said, had ‘got to him’.
So make no mistake, this will be a full scale British establishment operation.
The Queen will be at a special event at Glasgow Cathedral on 4th August because the city is hosting the Commonwealth Games which end the day before. The plan is that across the country, flags on public buildings will fly at half mast on the anniversary of the outbreak of war. The day will end with a vigil at Westminster Abbey to be ‘attended by scouts, cubs and brownies’ as well as members of the Armed Forces. This will be replicated around Britain in churches, town halls, and other venues.
Ministers hope this will allow people to mark the conflict which ravaged the continent ‘with sorrow and with pride’ and have set aside £10 million just for funding art, drama and music projects linked to the war, from a total government funding for the commemoration of £50 million. According to the Daily Telegraph, a government source said ‘We are keen to ensure that this [will be] a centenary programme that the country can come together on’.
The BBC are planning major, all year coverage. There will be 1,000 books published this year alone on the First World War.
The anti-war movement must meet this ideological operation by the government just as it has met its previous pro-war propaganda efforts. The No Glory campaign, initiated by the Stop the War Coalition, has made a great start. Its initial letter is approaching 15,000 signatures, its website is drawing thousands of visitors every week, the No Glory pamphlet, The Real History of World War One, is a best seller and thousands of pounds were donated in the first few hours of its financial appeal to help fund its events and activities.
But we need to do more. No pro-war article, speech or event should go unchallenged. We need to get into the colleges and schools where these commemorations are being planned. We need to sustain the cultural events that are critical of the war.
The image of the First World War has been established in the popular mind as the most disastrous war ever. The Tories and the establishment hate that fact. And they are out to reverse it.
We cannot let that happen. The more the dead and injured of the First World War are forgotten in a rush of chauvinistic nostalgia, the more likely it is that dead will pile up in future conflicts. This is not just a battle to remember the past correctly. It’s about political priorities in the present. It’s about keeping the peace in the future.