LOSING CONTROL – ABOUT 50% OF CITIZENS IN THE WEST DON’T BELIEVE MEDIA CLAIMS ABOUT RUSSIA

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LOSING CONTROL – ABOUT 50% OF CITIZENS IN THE WEST DON’T BELIEVE MEDIA CLAIMS ABOUT RUSSIA

 

Lately, Russia has been countless times the news focus in the western media. We must recall the so-called Skripal affair when Moscow was blamed for poisoning the former Russian spy and his daughter, Russia’s alleged involvement in chemical attacks in Syria, and interference in the American presidential election.

However, as research shows, the population of Western countries tends not to believe everything the media tells them.

Almost half of respondents in France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States do not believe in their media coverage of Russia.

Thus, 53% of the French who participated in the survey responded that they do not believe what the media writes about Russia. They are followed by Germany, where the percentage corresponded to 50%. The same opinion is shared by 47% of respondents in the UK. In the USA, this number corresponds to 43%.

The number of respondents – from the countries cited above – who rely on their media reports on Russia is considerably smaller: only a quarter of the French and a third of Britons. In Germany and the USA the percentage is slightly higher – 39%.

It is noteworthy that in France and Germany it is young people (less than 35 years old) who believe least in fair coverage. While in the US and UK the situation is the opposite: Respondents over the age of 35 tend to have less confidence in the news about Russia offered by the local media.

The survey was conducted by France’s oldest public opinion firm, IFop, between August 9 and 20, 2018. A total of 4,033 respondents over 18 years of age from France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States participated in the poll. The sample is representative of the population by sex, age and geographical location. The margin of error of the sample is approximately 3.1%, with a confidence level of 95%, making this a highly regarded poll.

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Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with Euronews

Via The Saker

October 18, 2018

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with Euronews

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with Euronews, Moscow, October 16, 2018

Question: The issue of Russia’s financial contribution to the Council of Europe has long been on the agenda after Russia’s voting right was suspended. How important is the Council of Europe to Russia? What, in your view, is the likely solution to this impasse?

Sergey Lavrov: The Council of Europe is going through a serious crisis and not because Russia suspended its contribution more than a year ago but due to the reasons you mentioned: because Russia was denied the right to vote. This happened in 2014 as punishment for the free expression of will by Crimea residents, who voted in favour of reintegration with Russia at a referendum. This punishment was imposed on the members of parliament that were elected by the population of Russia and sent as a delegation to the Council of Europe.

The sanctions imposed in 2014 became tougher in 2015. As a result, the Russian members of parliament were stripped of all rights whatsoever and were only allowed to be present at the meetings of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and listen to anti-Russia statements without having an opportunity to answer, which is, strictly speaking, regular practice in any normal parliament where, even if tensions are running high, it is always possible to answer and compare different positions. Our members of parliament were denied this right for three years even though from 2014 until 2017 we made the required contributions. In so doing, we warned that this could not go on forever because without due representation at the assembly and without the opportunity to state its position it would be unwise for Russia to pay for Russophobic activities; the same goes for any other country that might end up in a similar situation for that matter. So we warned everyone that we would be forced to suspend our contributions at some point. We did this in the summer of 2017, making it clear that as soon as the rights of our members of parliament at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe were unconditionally and fully reinstated, we would immediately pay our debts.

I want to stress that our decision on this point has worked. Many sensible MPs and functionaries in the Council of Europe have become aware of the seriousness of the situation. Michele Nicoletti, the then President of the Parliamentary Assembly, and Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland were struggling to find a way out of this absolutely abnormal situation.

As a result of that work, the attention of all members of the Parliamentary Assembly was drawn to the fact that there is a basic document that all bodies of the Council of Europe, including the Parliamentary Assembly, must be guided by in their work. This is the Statute of the Council of Europe – a fundamental document, an imperative, so to say. It says that all Council of Europe member states enjoy equal rights in any Council of Europe format, whether the Parliamentary Assembly, or the Committee of Ministers, or any other organ.

We pointed this out and asked our colleagues in the Parliamentary Assembly to comply with the document they signed when they endorsed the decision to establish the Council of Europe and to honour the terms on which Russia joined the organisation. Once again, I will point out that the term written in the Statute is the complete equality of the delegations of all Council of Europe member states, including in the Parliamentary Assembly.

Instead, a small, but very loud and aggressive group of delegations from countries that are well known to everyone (I won’t bother mentioning the names; they have been pushing an anti-Russia stance in the European Union, as well as NATO, the United Nations and the OSCE) set forth the premise that besides the Statute of the Council of Europe there are also the Rules of Procedure for the Parliamentary Assembly. These Rules of Procedure stipulate that decisions be adopted through a vote and by a very narrow majority. The most they were willing to do was to consider whether these rules should be changed to make it harder to restrict the rights of one delegation or another.

Our response was simple and tough. No regulations, rules or procedures can compare in significance with the fundamental document – the Statute of the Council of Europe, which, let me point out once again, proclaims the mandatory equality of all delegations in all structures of the Council of Europe.

Therefore, we will propose that the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe pass a resolution confirming the indisputability of this statutory provision – this is its function. If that decision is blocked, it will be a deliberate step by those, who, in their anti-Russia fervour, simply want to “bury” Europe.

Please note that since our MPs were stripped of the right to vote, the Parliamentary Assembly has already elected, if I am not mistaken, 24 judges to the European Court of Human Rights. And the total number is 47. So, the majority of judges in the European Court are judges elected in the absence of the Russian votes.

Similarly, a new High Commissioner for Human Rights was elected without the Russian MPs. Next June, a new secretary general of the Council of Europe will be elected. So, due to the suspension of our right, which is granted to us by the Statute of the Council of Europe, to participate in these votes, the above functionaries of the Council of Europe (the judges, the commissioner for human rights and soon, if this issue persists, the secretary general) will, in fact, not be legitimate for us. Therefore, I do hope that all our partners, including and in the first place those who made this mess, who decided to punish the deputies chosen freely by the will of the people who are residents of Crimea – that they have become aware of the seriousness of the situation and the responsibility that they are taking upon themselves.

Question: Thorbjorn Jagland said they would make the budget without Russia’s funds. Our Russian MPs say that one of the options is leaving the Council of Europe. Is Russia considering this possibility?

Sergey Lavrov: Thorbjorn Jagland has no other option than to create the budget using the current funding under circumstances where we are not paying our share. We, again, recently stated that as soon as our rights are restored we will pay our dues to the Council of Europe in full. The European Court of Human Rights has been largely formed without our participation, so its legitimacy for Russia is rather dubious, just like the legitimacy of the Commissioner for Human Rights. I have heard the Russian parliamentarians’ statements to the effect that if this outrage continues, the Council of Europe will be signing its own death warrant. I do not think that Russia’s participation in Council of Europe is more important for Russia than for the European countries. This is my firm conviction. We joined the Council of Europe on the principle that it provides for a pan-European, universal legal and humanitarian space. I am sure that those who have dealt a blow to this space through illegitimate actions that violate the Statute and seek to deprive the Russian delegation of their equal rights, they know what they are signing up for. If they want to push Russia out of the Council of Europe, we won’t give them the pleasure; we will leave the organisation ourselves. Let those in the majority, who are aware of the provocative nature of this plan initiated by a small but loud group of countries, work within this group. It is unacceptable to ruin a pan-European organisation to satisfy the ambitions of certain politicians in some European capitals. Everyone is aware of this. I hope that most sensible people will be brave enough to prevent this from happening.

Question: Is Russia doing anything to prove to the West that we are reliable and can be trusted after what has happened to the Skripals and all those hacking attack charges?

Sergey Lavrov: Our Western colleagues are priding themselves on having built a rule-of-law state in their countries; rule of law and the rules-based order are allegedly what the historical West has created as well as what all others should accept and reproduce, including the judicial system. There is English law and there is Roman law, but in both cases for someone to start proving his innocence he should hear the concrete charges. We have not been presented with such charges. We are baselessly being convinced that we have “highly likely” done something unlawful in Salisbury, then in Amesbury, and later we did something unlawful in Catalonia. Allegedly, we have meddled in all these matters. They are also accusing us of having played our sad role in Brexit and of many other sins. But not one single concrete charge has been presented.

Unlike our partners, we did build a rule-of-law state, because we hold sacred our international legal commitments and hope that all others will do the same. We have advised the British Government dozens of times, in keeping with conventions existing in our bilateral relations (the Council of Europe conventions, incidentally), of the need to utilise the mechanism for mutual assistance in criminal cases. After numerous reminders on our part, they replied officially that the British Government could not do that out of national security considerations. As is clear to everyone, this reply lacks substance and is disrespectful of the British legal system, among others. Therefore, as soon as we are presented with concrete facts, we will be ready to sit down and talk. The same goes for allegations that we have meddled in the US elections. Moreover, in both cases, we have long been suggesting – even before Donald Trump was elected president and before the Salisbury incident – that we should start concrete work on cybersecurity, where professionals, first of all, will exchange their concerns and respond to these mutual concerns, and, secondly, devise certain universal rules that will make it possible to rule out or dramatically reduce the abuse of cyberspace, which is used by terrorists, criminals, drug addicts, pedophiles, and many other people, who must be restrained in every possible way. In response, we hear only that Russia should mend its ways, if it wants to be talked to. This is neither serious nor the way adults behave.

Unlike our accusers, we ask some very concrete questions: there is a convention on legal assistance, let us use it; there is the Chemical Weapons Convention, which says that if a state party has questions to ask another state party, the country that has conceived a question must put this question directly in a bilateral format to the country, to which this question is addressed. Nothing of the kind has been done.

Yet another utterly concrete question, which we have been asking for too long now and which is shameful to ignore for much longer, is: where are Yulia and Sergey Skripal? If the evidence we have been presented with includes just the corpses of a cat, a hamster, and a poor, unstably housed woman, as well as a scent-bottle, it all looks grotesque. I don’t want to belittle the seriousness of cases involving the use of chemical substances, but if someone wants to gamble on this and put up a show to amuse the public and rally the European community against the Russian Federation, then this is shameful. If someone is seriously concerned about these problems, there is no need to tell the untruth. You should prove your accusations with facts, including by presenting to the public Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia. While Sergey has British nationality apart from Russian citizenship, Yulia is just a citizen of Russia. She appeared on television just once, uttered a clearly filmed monologue, and added that she wanted to return back to Russia. No one has seen her since then. Her relative, Viktoria, has failed to obtain a visa. She was harassed at the British Embassy in Moscow, where they repeatedly urged her to change the documents, rewrite the questionnaires or bring new photographs. In the end she was left without a visa. There are many other factors preventing relatives of these people from contacting them. So, we are in favour of legal solutions to any problems. The rabid accusation in the spirit of “highly likely” or “we don’t see any other plausible explanation” are just not serious.

Question: What about Bellingcat? All these investigations…

Sergey Lavrov: That’s part of the same story, really. White Helmets, or Bellingcat – it’s all the same. It’s not a secret for anyone, and Western journalists openly write about this, that Bellingcat is closely connected with the special services that use it to channel information intended to influence public opinion. No matter how many times we were told that the White Helmets are truth lovers, human rights champions and humanitarian workers who save people in the most difficult situations. More and more facts are popping up confirming their close connection with ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra. This is more like they are not at all benefactors working “answering the call of the heart,” but rather for getting payment. As for the staged videos, the locals are not allowed to leave the site until these people arrive with their cameras. There are a lot of facts like this that have become public.

Moreover, quite recently, three months ago maybe, our Western colleagues decided, as they said, to “save” the units of the White Helmets in southern Syria after non-Syrian forces left the de-escalation zones established there by Russia, the United States and Jordan. Their positions were taken over by the Syrian army, which has now restored the order on the Golan Heights established by the UN Security Council resolution of 1974, which Israel also supported. Representatives of the White Helmets, 400 people with their families, urged to take them to Jordan for a period of three or four weeks, and then, as was announced, Britain, Canada, Germany and Holland would take them. Three months have passed. They are still there. According to our data, Western countries, which promised Jordan to take these people and move them to Europe and Canada, have browsed through some of their dossiers and became horrified. Their past suggests that European countries would be scared of accepting such people with prominent criminal tendencies.

Question: Do you believe that diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom and Western countries can improve?

Sergey Lavrov: All relations do not boil down to just diplomatic relations. There are other relations, including cultural relations that have not disappeared anywhere and which continue to evoke tremendous interest among Russian, British and American citizens and those of the EU countries. There are also economic relations that, incidentally, concern Russian citizens and the relevant business circles to a considerable extent, and these relations are the subject matter of ongoing contacts.

Diplomatic relations depend on the extent to which various partners are ready to respect diplomatic proprieties. Our British colleagues who, to be honest, started wrecking our relations, are not seriously committed to diplomatic proprieties today. I have already said that we have failed to receive any reply after sending dozens of diplomatic notes. Many requests to the Foreign Office also went unanswered. One gets a strong feeling that the United Kingdom’s current authorities have decided to vent their domestic frustrations, including Brexit, on Russia and to explain their domestic problems by Russian scheming. It appears that the Democratic Party of the United States has set this example by justifying its election campaign defeat by the fact that Donald Trump waged an unfair struggle, with Russia allegedly assisting him during this process. It is sad when domestic political squabbles start affecting relations between leading states. They continue to face a problem linked with Brexit. A struggle is now underway for the post of the leader of the Conservative Party, for holding new elections and so on.

For some reason, the “Russian card” has become quite popular among politicians. Possibly, they don’t have enough creativity for doing something else. They simply blame Russia for everything, without trying to take into consideration their  electorate and believing that their voters will accept any concoction.

It is amusing to see British representatives rushing all over Europe after the Salisbury incident and demanding that the EU countries take part in sanctions. They have persuaded many countries, but not all of them, to expel Russian diplomats after the Salisbury incident. Today, they are also inventing some new systematic sanctions that the whole of the EU would have to impose on any violators of the chemical weapons ban and lots more. It appears that a country, now leaving the EU, is frantically trying to influence the EU’s Russian policies. I believe that the UK wants to rein in the EU with regard to Russia and other matters concerning international affairs. It is not up to me to decide to what extent this meets the EU’s interests as well as their dignity.

Question: Is Russia worried about the political and even economic fallout in connection with the Jamal Khashoggi case.

Sergey Lavrov: You are so metaphorical! I support the current calls for a speedy investigation as soon as possible. We praise the agreements between Turkey and Saudi Arabia on the various steps being taken to make it possible to conduct this investigation. I do hope that the international community will get to know the results.

Question: The media has reported today that President of Syria Bashar al-Assad is set to visit Crimea. Does Russia plan to involve Syria in Crimean matters? There are plans for economic activities there.

Sergey Lavrov: President of Syria Bashar al-Assad is our partner. We regularly exchange visits with our Syrian colleagues at the level of presidents, ministers of foreign affairs, trade and economic development. Our military personnel and secret services also maintain contacts. This is very important for combating terrorism. The Russian regions are interested in various opportunities being provided by Syria for expanding economic, cultural, humanitarian and educational ties. Quite recently, Head of the Republic of Crimea Sergey Aksyonov visited Damascus at the invitation of President of Syria Bashar al-Assad. As is customary in normal diplomatic practices, he handed over an invitation from Russian leaders for Bashar al-Assad to visit the Russian Federation, including Crimea. Well, that’s about it.

Please come to Crimea. They are telling us that human rights are being violated in Crimea. But all those who are concerned with this matter have repeatedly been able to see what life is really like there. Those trying to make a politically motivated story out of this insist that they will only go to Crimea via Ukrainian territory. This is out of the question because Crimea is part of the Russian Federation under the results of the March 2014 referendum that involved the people of Crimea. But for some reason, not all Western journalists want to go there and see everything with their very own eyes. They have every opportunity to see how the people of Crimea live. If they are interested in a political game, they strike an attitude and say that they will only visit Crimea via Ukrainian territory. This is unprofessional.

Speaking of professionalism, I would like to mention another aspect, namely, Donbass. In effect, Ukraine is divided by the frontline. Provocations continue despite the Minsk Agreements and all attempts by members of the Normandy format and the Contact Group to fulfil all the agreements. Thank God, there are no large-scale hostilities like back in 2014 and early 2015, but regular firefights occur, despite regular “school,” “harvest” and “Christmas” ceasefire agreements. We have been asking officials from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine not to issue sterile reports listing attacks on communities, the number of killed and wounded civilians. Instead, we are expecting them to provide specific updates on the developments in various sections of the demarcation line and to focus on attacks against civilian facilities and casualties and fatalities among the civilians. In September 2017, the OSCE issued the first such report listing the location of attacks and the damage incurred. This was a difficult job because the Ukrainian authorities tried hard to forbid the OSCE from publishing this report. According to this report, five times more civilian facilities were damaged in the areas controlled by the self-defence fighters. The responsibility for this rests with the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Civilians living in such places also sustained six-seven times more casualties and fatalities. Any military expert would use this data to note that such a correlation between damage and civilian casualties and fatalities means that, by all appearances, the Armed Forces of Ukraine attack civilian facilities in communities, including kindergartens, hospitals and schools. For their part, self-defence fighters retaliate by hitting positions from which they are being attacked. I have mentioned journalism and professionalism. Representatives of the Russian media work non-stop, seven days a week and 24 hours a day in areas controlled by self-defence fighters. They show the extent of damage and the real results of the operations involving the Armed Forces of Ukraine. If our Western partners are saying that Russia and the separatists are to blame for everything, and that the Minsk Agreements would be immediately fulfilled as soon as Russia wants this to happen, and that Ukraine has allegedly fulfilled them almost completely (this is what some of our European colleagues and US Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker are saying), then it would probably be no problem to send BBC, CNN and Euronews correspondents to areas controlled by the Armed Forces of Ukraine and to show everyone how people live there and  the extent of damaged civilian facilities, if any. I have repeatedly spoken with journalists I know about this but failed to get any reply. They are simply looking at me, nodding but doing nothing. If Donetsk and Lugansk are accused of everything, including aggressive behaviour, then it would be appropriate to send journalists there, so that they would work honestly in areas allegedly severely attacked by self-defence fighters. Over all these years, BBC and someone else sent their groups there only once or twice, and that was all about it.

Question: Speaking of President of Syria Bashar al-Assad once again, does Syria plan to conduct economic operations in Crimea or not?

Sergey Lavrov: This depends on the extent to which this region and a certain region in Syria, be it Damascus, Latakia or any other, are interested in specific projects. This was the first meeting between the Head of Crimea and representatives of the Syrian leadership. Quite possibly, they will be able to discuss mutually beneficial projects after assessing the local situation.

West is Losing and so It’s Bashing China and Russia ‘Left and Right’ Literally

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By Andre Vitchek
Source

The insanity and vileness of Western anti-Chinese propaganda used to make some of my Chinese friends cry late at night. But things are changing. The lunacy of what is said and written about China (and Russia, of course), in the US and Europe, is now clearly reflecting frustration and the bad manners of sore losers. One could almost be inclined to pity the Western empire, if only it wasn’t so violently murderous.

The Empire’s propagandists are pitying nobody – they are now shooting like maniacs, but without any coherent plan.

Various Western ‘experts’ and journalists cannot really agree on the basics: ‘what is really wrong with China’. But they are paid extremely well to find new and newer skeletons in the huge Chinese closets, and so they are constantly competing with each other, looking for the juiciest and the most scandalous stories. Often it appears that it pays to assume that absolutely everything is flawed with the most populous, and on top of it, Communist (with the ‘Chinese characteristics, of course) country on earth!

China will end extreme poverty by 2020, but do not look for cheers and applause from Berlin, Paris, London and Washington. China is far ahead of all the large countries on earth in building a so-called ‘ecological civilization’, but who is willing to notice? China is constructing public parks, boardwalks and playgrounds, the biggest on earth, but who cares? The Chinese government is introducing sweeping educational reforms, while flooding the entire nation with concert halls, museums and theatres. But that’s not worth mentioning, obviously!

Western propaganda tries to discredit China literally from both ‘left and right’, sometimes accusing it for being too Communist, but when it is suitable, even for ‘not being Communist enough’.

The New York Times ran a cover-page story on October 5, 2018, “Unlikely foe for China’s leaders: Marxists”. For this highly sarcastic piece, a reporter visited the Chinese city of Huizhou, from where he wrote about a group of over-zealous young Marxists who are demanding things to be as they were in Mao’s days:

“But the Huizhou activists represent a threat the authorities did not expect.”

Seriously? A threat? China is moving towards Communism, again, under the current leadership. We are talking about democratic, socially-oriented Communism. But let us not argue with the official U.S. newspaper. It is definitely not a pro-Communist publication, but they had to show some sympathy (by running a cover story!) to a small bunch of over-zealous ‘opposition’ Marxists, just to spread doubts among the readers, suggesting that the Chinese government is not that Red, anymore.

The next day (Saturday-Sunday edition, October 6-7, 2018), the same New York Times published two cover stories on China. One was along its usual anti- Chinese and anti-Russian conspiracy lines “Will China hack U.S. mid-terms?”, but the other basically contradicted the story from the previous day, accusing Beijing this time of cutting the wings of private companies: “Beijing is pushing back into business”, with a sub-title:

“Government flexes muscle as private companies that built economy lose ground.”

‘Wherever it can hurt China, just write it’, could be the credo of thousands of European and North American journos: ‘as long as the news about or from China is bad, really dark and negative, anything goes!’

Too much Communism, or too little… As far as the West is concerned – China can never get it right! Because… simply because it is China, because it is Asia, and because it waves the red flags.

And so, The New York Times ran two totally contradictory stories. An editorial blunder, or a pre-meditated attempt to inflict maximum damage, by kicking ‘left and right’?

It is, of course, fun, to follow this propaganda trend, ‘from a safe distance’ (meaning: ‘not believing a word of what it says’). But what is happening is not a joke; what is being done can actually be deadly. It can trigger, unexpectedly, a chain of events that could truly hurt China.

‘An explosion’ could originate in Taiwan, in Southeast Asia, or from the PRC territory itself.

Look at Brazil, look at Venezuela! Look at all those Color Revolutions, Umbrella Revolutions, ‘Springs’ from Europe to Arab countries. And look at China itself: who triggered; who sponsored the so-called Tiananmen Square events? There is clearly enough evidence, by now, that it was not some spontaneous student rebellion.

The West has convinced several countries such as the Philippines, that they should confront China, through various territorial claims in which, honestly, almost no serious Filipino historian or political scientist is ready to believe (unless he or she paid royally from abroad). I talked directly to several top historians and political scientists in Manila, and I got a clear picture of whom and what is behind those territorial claims. I wrote about it in the past, and soon will again.

China is too big to tolerate dangerous subversions from abroad. Its leadership knows well: when the country is in disarray, hundreds of millions of human beings suffer. To preserve the nation’s territorial integrity is essential.

So, what is China really; in a summary?

It is a Communist (or you may call it a socialist) country with thousands of years of a great and comparatively egalitarian history. It has a mixed economy but with central planning (government tells the companies what to do, not vice-versa). It is clearly the most successful nation on earth when it comes to working on behalf of, and for the benefit of its citizens. It is also the most peaceful large nation on earth. And here are two more essential points: China is at the forefront of saving the world from the looming ecological disaster. And it has no colonies, or ‘neo’-colonies, being essentially an ‘internationalist’ state.

Its political system, economy, culture: all are diametrically different from those in the West.

China has millions of things to say about how this planet should be governed, how it should be marching forward, and what is true democracy (rule of the people).

Now honestly:

does Western mainstream, which manufactures ‘public opinion’ all over the world, allows many Chinese (PRC) patriots, Communists, thinkers, to appear on television screens, or to write op-eds?

We know the answer. Almost exclusively, it is the Westerners who are, (by the Western rulers), entrusted with the tremendous task of ‘defining what China is or isn’t’. And what the entire world is or isn’t.

If China says that it is ‘socialist with Chinese characteristics’, they say ‘No!’ with their perfect Oxford accents. And their arrogance from telling the greatest civilization on earth what it actually is or isn’t, gets accepted because of the fact that most of them are white, and they speak perfect English (paradoxically, still a seal of trustworthiness, at least in certain circles).

The West never hears what the Chinese or Russians think about the world. While the Chinese and Russians are literally bombarded by what the West thinks about them.

Even Chinese people used to listen to such ‘false prophets’ from the ‘civilized West’. Now they know better. Same as the Russians know better. Same as many in Latin America know better.

The spread of Western propaganda and dogmas used to appear as a battle, an ideological combat, for Chinese and Russian brains (if not for hearts). Or at least it appeared as such, to many naïve, trusting people.

Now it is all much simpler and ‘in the open’: the battle continues, but the frontlines and goals have shifted. How?

What is taking place these days, is simply an enormous clash between Western imperialism plus its propaganda, versus the determination of the Chinese and Russian people to live their own lives the way they choose. Or to put it into even simpler terms: the battle is raging between Western imperialism on one side, and democracy with ‘Chinese and Russian characteristics’ on the other.

West is bashing China and Russia ‘left and right’, literally. But it is definitely not winning!

 

 

متى يتحرّر الإعلام العربي؟

أكتوبر 11, 2018

د. وفيق إبراهيم

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اختفاء الإعلامي جمال خاشقجي في قنصلية بلاده السعودية في تركيا، يفتح سؤالاً كبيراً عن الأسباب التي تمنع تطوّر إعلام عربي ينتقل من الاستسلام الكامل للرواية الرسمية الحتمية، إلى مستوى التعبير الصادق وربما النسبي عن التفاعلات السياسية والاجتماعية والاقتصادية.

فالتستر الإعلامي على الاختطاف السعودي للخاشقجي ليس الأول من نوعه ولن يكون الأخير.

إنَّ الميزة الأولى للإعلام العربي أنه خطابي يتصرف بالخبر حاملاً «أبوية السلطة على المجتمع»، ولا يعكس إلا وجهة نظرها متجاهلاًً كلّ ما يسيء اليها ومخترعاً قصصاً جديدة للتفسير، تستند الى مفهوم مصلحة الدولة بتنوّعاتها الملكية والأميركية أو الجمهورية، وفقاً لمفهوم السمع والطاعة وتزوير الحقائق وتجاهل الأحداث، وذلك لعدم وجود منافسات حقيقية على كسب الجمهور المنَوَّم.

في المقابل هناك إعلام غربي، متعدّد ومتصادم يقدم الأحداث وفق الخلفيات السياسية والاقتصادية التي يعمل لها، إنما بمهنية محترفة توحي وكأنه «حُرّ». أيّ أنه يترك مساحة مفتوحة لها وظيفة جذب «الزبون» من القراء والمشاهدين والمستمعين.. وبعد التمكّن منه، بهذه الوسيلة، يكون قد احتواه وأسره ضمن تسعين في المئة من مواده الإعلامية المليئة بالروايات الموالية لأصحاب التمويل السياسي والاقتصادي.

إنّ خصائص الإعلام الغربي التي تجعله ناجحاً تقوم على ثلاثة أسباب، السرعة في نقل الخبر وهذا مردّه إلى شبكات مراسلين ضخمة أو وجود أنظمة تعاون مدفوعة مع شبكات محلية، ضمن «دول الأحداث». أما الثاني فقدرته على تخصيص «مساحة حرية صغيرة» يقدّم فيها الرأي الآخر»، لكنه يتفنّن في عرض آراء مواكبة بوسعها زعزعته.

أما الميزة الثالثة فسببها أنّ الإعلام الغربي ينتمي إلى أنظمة سياسية واحدة، خصوصاً بعد انهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي 1989، تحتوي على أحزاب موالية وأخرى معارضة.. إنما من ضمن النسق السياسي الواحد.

والطرفان يمتلكان أو يهيمنان على وسائل إعلام ضخمة لها القدرة على تمويلها، وتجسِّد وجهتي نظرهما في داخل بلدانها أو إقليمها الغربي ـ الأوروبي ـ الأطلسي، وهناك وسائل متخصّصة للتأثير على الصين وروسيا واليابان والشرق الأوسط بشقيه الإسلامي والعربي.

وهكذا نجد أنواعاً من إعلام كوني غربي يتنافس على كسب أسواق السياسة والاقتصاد ويمثل موالاة أو معارضة، غربية تنتميان إلى الأنظمة السياسية نفسها ولا تخرجان عنها… أين الخلاف إذاً؟؟

يرتكز الخلاف بينهما على صراع مفتوح للسيطرة على أنظمة بلادهما وفقاً لصراعات حزبية داخلية هي مثلاً بين حزبي المحافظين والعمال في بريطانيا والجمهوريين والمحافظين في الولايات المتحدة الأميركية وبين التيارات المتأمركة في فرنسا وبقايا الديغولية وبين أحزاب اليمين والوسط واليسار في المانيا وهكذا دواليك.

هذه الآليات الحزبية تهيمن على إعلام معظمه كوني، يجسَّد وجود موالاة ومعارضة ضمن النسق السياسي الغربي الواحد. هذا إلى جانب وجود إعلام محلي أكثر تخصّصاً بالأوضاع الداخلية لهذه البلدان.

لقد أنتج هذا الوضع المرتكز على أسس محمية بالقوانين الغربية، أنتج مساحتين اثنتين للتعبير بحرية، إنما من ضمن «المصلحة البعيدة للمموِّل».

الأولى هي «المساحة التقنية» التي تستعملها وسائل الإعلام لجذب «الزبون» عبر تقنية الإكثار من «الرأي الآخر».

هناك مساحات حرية أكبر أيضاً، يستمدّها الإعلام من الصراع المفتوح بين الموالاة والمعارضة في أنظمة الغرب، وهي حريات تستند إلى حماية قانونية لا لِبسَ فيها، ما يسمح لهذا الإعلام بعرض قدراته الواسعة على عرض ما يريد، إنما يرتكز دائماً على احترافية عالية في نسف الرأي المضادّ بمهارة ومهنية، يرقى عمرها إلى ثلاثة قرون على الأقلّ.

هذه هي الأسباب التي تجعل «زبون الإعلام» منجذباً إليه في كلّ وقت، يصغي إلى نشرات أخباره وبرامجه باهتمام، وهو لا يعرف أنه تأثر بهذا المضمون من دون أن يدري.. وبما أنّ هذا الجذب الإعلامي متكرّر فإنه يعتمد على الإكثار من التكرار بلغة تسامحية وعقل علمي ضمن ما يشبه أسلوب السرد القصصي الموجز والجاذب.

ماذا عن الإعلام العربي؟ باستثناء لبنان حيث الحريات الإعلامية فيه تتموضع على الصراعات بين مذاهبه وطوائفه لتحسين أدوارها في السلطة وذلك عبر مسألتين: التحشيد الداخلي، وإنتاج رسالة إعلامية موالية للداعم الاقليمي والدولي.

باستثناء لبنان هذا، تسيطر على الإعلام العربي حالة من الهزال والضعف ونقص في الاحتراف على المستوى المهني، أما سياسياً، فنتيجة لعدم وجود معارضة ضمن النظام نفسه أو من خارجه، يعرض هذا الإعلام صورة خطابية نمطية تعيد فبركة الأحداث وبشكل بديهي على أساس مصلحة السلطة الداخلية السياسية، وتحالفاتها الدولية.

وبغياب المنافسة بين قوى سياسية داخلية، لا يعود الإعلام بحاجة إلى محترفين يتقنون فنون الخبر، ولا يهمّهم السرعة في عرضه.. فما هي إلا رسالة إعلامية عارضة لا تترك أثراً في متلقيها ولا يجد صانعها نفسه في وضع المضطر لإحداث معالجات عميقة لها.. وهكذا نجد إعلاماً عربياً منافقاً بعيداً عن مميّزات السرعة في إعلام العصر، وأساليب جذب الزبون، والصناعة الإعلامية البراقة.. هناك آليات بليدة ترسل أخباراً أشبه بخطابات عن أدوار بطولية لملوك وقادة ورؤساء يجري تقديهم على أساس انهم متمسكون بكلّ التفاعلات الداخلية والخارجية والحياة والموت.

إنّ غياب المعارضة حتى تلك المنتمية إلى الأنظمة السياسية نفسها، هي السبب في أزمة الإعلام العربي.. لأنها تلغي مساحات للحرية، فيصبح بموجبها خاشقجي رجلاً «مختلاً» انتحر واختطف نفسه او قتلته جهة معادية لآل سعود، كما تحوَّل حق قيادة المرأة للسيارة في السعودية أهمّ من الثورة الصناعية..

هناك مئات الأمثلة التي تثبت أنّ الإعلام العربي يشبه البلاغات التي كانت تعلقها الممالك القديمة في الساحات العامة.

لكن ما يؤسف له أنّ هذا الغرب الأميركي والأوروبي، يقف بتأييده وراء هذا التخلف الإعلامي العربي بشكل غير مباشر، لأنه يدعم الدكتاتوريات مُسهّلاً لها أمر القضاء على المعارضات. فهل يتطوّر الإعلام العربي؟ هذا الأمر مرتبط بتطوّر الأنظمة الاوتوقراطية ـ الديكتاتورية.

إنَّ مثيلاتها الغربية سقطت بثورات شعبية، فمتى تصل إلينا؟

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Blanket Silence: Corporate Media Ignore New Report Exposing Distorted and Misleading Coverage of Corbyn

Source

By Media Lens,

If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the 17 years since Media Lens began, it’s that media professionals generally hate being challenged, critiqued or criticised. This fierce antipathetical belligerence underlies the corporate media’s total refusal to mention, far less discuss, a recent damning report on how the corporate media have been misreporting Labour and its supposed ‘problem’ with antisemitism.

The report was published last week by the Media Reform Coalition (MRC), set up in 2011 in the wake of the News International phone hacking scandal, to promote debate about the media and democracy. The MRC coordinates effective action by civil society groups, academics and media campaigners, and is currently chaired by Natalie Fenton, Professor of Communication and Media at Goldsmiths, University of London.

The urgent need for such a media initiative is highlighted by the disturbing reality that Britain has one of the most concentrated media environments in the world, with just three companies in control of 71% of national newspaper circulation and five companies running 81% of local newspaper titles.

In the careful MRC study, articles and news segments on Labour and antisemitism from the largest UK news providers, both online and television, were subjected to in-depth analysis. The research was undertaken by Dr Justin Schlosberg, Senior Lecturer in Journalism and Media at Birkbeck, University of London, together with Laura Laker, an experienced freelance journalist.

In their study, Schlosberg and Laker identified:

‘myriad inaccuracies and distortions in online and television news including marked skews in sourcing, omission of essential context or right of reply, misquotation, and false assertions made either by journalists themselves or sources whose contentious claims were neither challenged nor countered. Overall, our findings were consistent with a disinformation paradigm.’

In other words, the corporate media have been pumping out reams of ‘fake news’ promoting a narrative that Corbyn and Labour are mired in an ‘antisemitism crisis’.

Out of over 250 articles and news pieces examined by Schlosberg and Laker, fully 95 examples were found of misleading or inaccurate reporting. In particular, there were (our emphasis):

• 29 examples of false statements or claims, several of them made by news presenters or correspondents themselves, six of them on BBC television news programmes, and eight on the Guardian website.

• A further 66 clear instances of misleading or distorted coverage including misquotations, reliance on single -source accounts, omission of essential facts or right of reply, and repeated value-based assumptions made by broadcasters without evidence or qualification. In total, a quarter of the sample contained at least one documented inaccuracy or distortion.

Overwhelming source imbalance, especially on television news where voices critical of Labour’s code of conduct on antisemitism were regularly given an unchallenged and exclusive platform, outnumbering those defending Labour by nearly 4 to 1. Nearly half of Guardian reports on the controversy surrounding Labour’s code of conduct featured no quoted sources defending the party or leadership.

This is, to say the least, totally unacceptable from any supposedly responsible news outlet. It is even more galling when it comes from the Guardian and BBC News, both with large global audiences, who constantly proclaim their credentials for ‘honest and balanced reporting’.

Much recent corporate media coverage has focused on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of ‘antisemitism’. Corporate media across the spectrum have argued that in refusing to accept the IHRA definition in total, with all of its accompanying examples, Corbyn has promoted antisemitism, alienated Britain’s Jewish community and divided his own party.

Philip Collins wrote in The Times of Corbyn (our emphasis):

‘He has, for some reason he cannot articulate, insisted that the Labour Party should be just about the only institution that does not accept the definition of antisemitism approved by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.’

In July, a Times editorial stated of Labour’s National Executive Committee (our emphasis):

‘Instead of adopting a standard definition of antisemitism formulated by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, and endorsed by governments around the world, the NEC has amended it in unacceptable ways… Let there be no doubt: these are unconscionable and antisemitic accusations.’

In September, another Times leader opined (our emphasis):

‘Labour’s national executive committee will vote today on whether to adopt the internationally recognised definition of antisemitism. It is essential that it does. Governments and organisations worldwide have adopted the carefully worded textdeveloped by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. Jeremy Corbyn’s hamfisted attempt to rewrite it, without consultation and with the apparent aim of protecting certain activists, shames his party.’

The Times added:

‘British Jews are well placed to define what constitutes racism towards them, just as any minority deserves the last word in the debate as it applies to them. Gordon Brown has called for Labour to “unanimously, unequivocally and immediately” adopt all the examples. Anything less would mark a dark day indeed for the party.’

Noting that three leading British Jewish newspapers had declared that a Corbyn-led government would pose ‘an existential threat to Jewish life in this country’, senior Guardian columnist and former comment editor Jonathan Freedland asked:

‘How on earth has it come to this?’

Part, but not all, of the problem, Freedland suggested, was (our emphasis):

‘Labour’s failure to adopt the full text of the near universally accepted International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, including all its illustrative examples’.

He added:

‘When Jews hear that the IHRA is not good enough, they wonder: what exactly is it that Labour wants to say about us?’

And yet, as the MRC report [pdf] makes clear, although the IHRA is an international body with representatives from 31 countries, only six of those countries have, to date, formally adopted the definition themselves. Several high-profile bodies have rejected or distanced themselves from the working definition, including the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency – a successor to the body that drafted the original wording on which the definition is based – and academic institutions including the London School of Economics and School of Oriental and African Studies. Moreover, academic and legal opinion has been overwhelmingly critical of the IHRA definition, including formal opinions produced by four leading UK barristers.

But, note Schlosberg and Laker:

‘Virtually none of this essential context found its way into news reports of the controversy. Instead, the Labour Party was routinely portrayed by both sources and correspondents as beyond the pale of conventional thinking on the IHRA definition.’

Nearly 50% of Guardian reports failed to include any quotes from those critiquing the IHRA definition or defending Labour’s code of conduct on antisemitism. In fact, media reporting (our emphasis):

‘effectively gave those attacking Labour’s revised code and championing the IHRA definition a virtually exclusive and unchallenged platform to air their views. By comparison, their detractors – including a number of Jewish organisations and representatives of other affected minorities – were systematically marginalized from the coverage. Furthermore, Labour MPs adopting even moderate positions defending the code were subjected to far more aggressive questioning from interviewers than those adopting extreme positions attacking it.

In a calm, methodical and rigorous manner, the MRC has exposed to public view the blatant anti-Corbyn bias of even the ‘best’ media outlets: the BBC and the Guardian.

Response To The Media Reform Coalition Report

Our searches using the ProQuest newspaper database reveal that there has not been a single news article or editorial published about the report. This is a remarkable symptom of the glaring tendency of the media to reject, or simply blank, reasoned, well-researched criticism.

When The Canary website published an article about the MRC report, they approached both the Guardian and the BBC for comment. The Guardian‘s response was boilerplate rhetoric – ‘The Guardianhas featured a wide range of voices in this debate’, etc – that failed to acknowledge the paper’s unambiguous distortions and omissions. The BBC did not even provide a comment.

The sole newspaper mention to date is a letter in the Guardian which may only have been published because Noam Chomsky is one of the signatories, along with high-profile figures such as Brian Eno, Yanis Varoufakis, Ken Loach and a number of media academics. They make a crucial point that relates to criticism of the Guardian itself (mentioned earlier):

‘In relation to the IHRA definition of antisemitism that was at the heart of the dispute, the research found evidence of “overwhelming source imbalance” in which critics of Labour’s code of conduct dominated coverage, with nearly 50% of Guardian reports, for example, failing to include any quotes from those defending the code or critiquing the IHRA definition.’

The letter also notes the MRC researchers’ conclusion that media distortions and inaccuracies:

‘were not occasional lapses in judgment but “systematic reporting failures” that served to weaken the Labour leadership and to bolster its opponents within and outside of the party.’

Chomsky and his co-signatories add:

‘In covering the allegations that Labour is now “institutionally antisemitic”, there have been inaccuracies, clear distortions and revealing omissions across our most popular media platforms. We believe that significant parts of the UK media have failed their audiences by producing flawed reports that have contributed to an undeserved witch-hunt against the Labour leader and misdirected public attention away from antisemitism elsewhere, including on the far right, which is ascendant in much of Europe.’

Given the Guardian‘s appalling record of boosting fake news of a Labour ‘antisemitism crisis’, and given its vehement opposition to Corbyn’s brand of moderate socialism, it is no wonder that #DumpTheGuardian and #BoycottTheGuardian were trending in the UK last Friday as part of a dedicated Twitter campaign.

Pro-Corbyn Labour MP Chris Williamson tweeted his support in response to the MRC report:

‘My reference to McCarthyism vindicated by this report. The Guardian newspaper’s deplorable contribution explains why so many people are saying #BoycottTheGuardian’

Last Wednesday, Jeremy Corbyn gave a speech to the Labour Party conference in which he dared to criticise the British corporate media who have been gunning for him ever since he became the party’s leader:

‘It turns out that the billionaires who own the bulk of the British press don’t like us one little bit.

‘Now it could be because we’re going to clamp down on tax dodging. Or it may be because we don’t fawn over them at white tie dinners and cocktail parties.’

He added:

‘We must, and we will, protect the freedom of the press to challenge unaccountable power.

‘Journalists from Turkey to Myanmar and Colombia are being imprisoned, harassed or sometimes killed by authoritarian governments and powerful corporate interests just for doing their job.

‘But here, a free press has far too often meant the freedom to spread lies and half-truths, and to smear the powerless, not take on the powerful.

‘You challenge their propaganda of privilege by using the mass media of the 21st century: social media.’

Pippa Crerar, Guardian deputy political editor, responded with the standard kneejerk conflation of Corbyn’s reasoned comments with the idiotic ‘fake news’ mantra of Trump. She tweeted:

‘Corbyn criticises some parts of British media, claiming they “smear the powerless, not take on the powerful”. As a journalist, makes me very uncomfortable to hear him leading attack on our free press. Dangerous, Trumpian territory.’

We responded:

‘Honest, rational criticism is not an “attack”, and it is not “dangerous”. A corporate press that refuses to listen or respond to this kind of reasonable criticism is itself dangerous. If anyone has a right to criticise media smears, it is @jeremycorbyn.’

The level of popular support for this view is indicated by the fact that our tweet has so far received 518 retweets and 1,222 likes; a massive response by our standards.

To her credit, Crerar did engage with us reasonably, unlike the vast majority of her media colleagues over many years:

‘Totally agree media has to reflect/listen. Not for a minute saying we’re perfect (some elements extremely *imperfect*). But orgs also do invaluable work eg Windrush, grooming scandal, MPs expenses so just not true to say we don’t hold power to account.’

We answered:

‘Thanks for replying, Pippa, very much appreciated. Glad you agree “media has to reflect/listen”. Doesn’t that mean taking Corbyn’s thoughtful, reasoned criticism seriously, rather than lumping it in with Trump’s awful tub-thumping? Corbyn and Milne really aren’t “dangerous”.’

Her follow-up:

‘I’ve sat back today & watched pile-on. I’d always rather engage but not when abusive. Like I said, media far from perfect, but I fear JC’s comments ignored excellent journalism that does exist & undermined journalists who produce it. Of course, nowhere near as extreme as Trump.’

And our reply:

‘Our response generated nearly 800 [now 1,700] likes and retweets – that gives an idea of the strength of feeling. Like other media, the Guardian’s smearing of Corbyn has gone way too far. It’s time to start listening to your readers @KathViner.’

To date, there has been no further exchange; and certainly not a peep out of Guardian editor, Katharine Viner; which is typical for this extraordinarily unresponsive media professional.

Justin Schlosberg, lead author of the MRC report, told The Canary:

‘Neither the Guardian nor the BBC have acknowledged or even directly responded to the myriad reporting failures highlighted in our research. It is completely inadequate to offer blanket dismissals or simply kick into the long grass of their respective complaints procedures.’

Schlosberg pointed out:

‘The failure to answer to these allegations is even more serious than the reporting failures themselves.’

Conclusion

As a further, related example of bias, consider the corporate media’s stunning indifference to the bomb threat that interrupted the screening of a new film, ‘The Political Lynching of Jackie Walker’, in Liverpool on September 25. Walker is a former Momentum Vice-Chair who was suspended from the Labour party as part of a propaganda blitz attempting to silence critics of Israel. The screening was organised by Jewish Voice for Labour which has been supportive of Jeremy Corbyn.

If the corporate media were genuinely motivated by concerns about alleged rising antisemitism, this shocking threat would have generated headline coverage. Instead it was met by a blanket of silence. A brief online Guardian piece was, to say the least, ambiguous in its narrative. Ex-Guardian journalist Jonathan Cook noted:

‘Another “fake news” master-class from the Guardian. A bomb hoax to stop Corbyn-supporting, Jewish Labour members screening a film about how Labour’s “anti-semitism crisis” has been manufactured is framed as *more* evidence of Jew hatred in the party!’

According to our ProQuest database search, the only mentions in the print press have been in the Liverpool Echo and The Times of Israel. Where are all the editorials and major comment pieces in the Guardian, The Times and elsewhere?

As for the Media Reform Coalition report itself, it is no surprise that the BBC, the Guardian and the rest of the corporate media should brush away detailed reasoned criticism of their biased reporting, or pretend such clear evidence does not exist. These media outlets sell themselves as publicly accountable; or, at least, as defenders of the public interest; a valiant fourth estate standing up for the truth and honest, neutral news coverage. And yet, when the alternative media makes a mistake, or says ‘the wrong thing’, there are angry howls and screaming mockery from the corporate commentariat. The hypocrisy is staggering, and, again, entirely predictable.

*

Featured image is from Media Lens.

Supporters of Apartheid Israel Abuse Sydney Anti-War Student

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Media, parliamentary, academic and other supporters of apartheid Israel have abused University of Sydney doctoral student Jay Tharappel for his outspoken support of Yemen, opposition to Israel and his consistent stance against the long wars on Syria and Korea.

Much of the western media falsely pretend that the massively internationalized war on Syria is a “civil war”. Most also refuse to recognize the simple fact that, over the past 65 years, the USA has never agreed to a peace agreement with North Korea.

The personal attacks on Jay reveal a shallow recognition of free speech in Australia. It is extraordinary that so much abuse has been heaped on one dissident voice. Demands for censorship of his political comments have come from various sources, but many of them supporters of the apartheid state of Israel.

First came the bully and smear media, from Murdoch’s Daily Telegraph, and from Channel Seven. The Murdoch tabloid, in a torrent of personal abuse, attacked Jay for rejecting the false chemical weapons claims against Syria, in April 2017. It then falsely claimed that Jay’s criticism of Murdoch journalist Kylar Loussikian was a racist attack.

In August 2018 Channel Seven manufactured another scandal about Jay, falsely claiming that a Yemeni badge he wore in China was ‘anti-semitic’. One part of that badge, seen on Jay’s shirt in one of my social media posts, said ‘death to Israel’.

The photo was simply one of the friends at lunch. Channel Seven, using the false translation “death to Israeli”, claiming it was a racist incitement. I posted in response that the Channel Seven piece ‘promotes ignorance, apartheid, and war’.

In fact ‘death to Israel’ is a political statement by the Yemeni group Ansarallah, which calls for an end to apartheid Israel, the regime that is reported to have killed a Palestinian child every three days for the past 18 years. The Australian government sells arms to the Saudis to bomb Yemen, as they ignore that terrible war and try to suppress any news about Yemen.

Later, the University of Sydney told the Sydney Morning Herald that I was “under investigation” for refusing to take down that photo of Jay and friends at lunch. After a Sydney Morning Herald against me, I made a social media statement explaining my position.

For Channel Seven’s principal sources journalist, Bryan Seymour used (to represent “many in the Jewish and Muslim community”) two people. First was a well-known supporter of Israel, Vic Alhadeff. Vic was previously a chair of the NSW Community Relations Commission but resigned in 2014 after posting in support of Israel’s bloody reign of terror in Gaza.

The other was Jordanian-Australian Jamal Daoud, who claimed to represent a Palestinian group but is best known for his repeated attacks on those who support Syria. He has abused many supporters of Syria as ‘spies’ and ‘prostitutes’. In 2017 he took an Israeli propagandist to Syria, and since then has been wanted for questioning in Syria. Earlier, in 2015, he began an online petition to challenge a security ban on him entering Lebanon.

The corporate media came back to abuse Jay after he wrote a thoughtful piece on his visit to North Korea (DPRK) in the student newspaper Honi Soit. The article defended independent Korea while it described in some detail what he had seen there. On social media pages, many appreciated the unusual article, while others responded with censorial outrage.

The Daily Telegraph added another abusive piece, which copied much of Jay’s article while adding invective. Even the state-owned ABC wrote in support of the demand that the article be taken down, simply because it was seen as too favorable to North Korea.

Why the hysteria over criticism of Israel? Well, both the Murdoch media and Channel Seven have deep business links with Israel’s occupation forces, including those who regularly demolish Palestinian homes in their ethnic cleansing purges.

Pro-Israel figures and some Jewish media in Australia predictably and falsely tried to conflate Jay’s and my opposition to Israel with anti-Jewish racism. I have made my position on Israel and racism very clear on many occasions, most recently in an article called The Future of Palestine.

A selection of pro-Israel types jumped on the bandwagon. They included federal Labor MP Tim Watts, who attacked Jay’s article and Honi Soit, saying ‘everyone associated with this article ought to be ashamed’.

When he was criticized for picking on a student newspaper he said, by way of justification, that he was trying to get at me (‘the professor’).

In fact, Tim Watts is yet another supporter of apartheid Israel. In late 2015 he went on an Israeli-government paid junket to Israel, in a group led by conservative minister Christopher Pyne. The group seemed to toe the Israeli line because Palestinian minister Dr. Sabri Saidam described them as “rude” and “not well educated” on Palestine.

Subsequently, Tim Watts took his Israel connection seriously. He strongly recommended the book ‘My Promised Land’ by Ari Shavit, which explains how Israel created “something unique and quite endearing” in a tough neighborhood.

This “unique and quite endearing” creation was described by an authoritative 2017 report to the United Nations as an ‘apartheid state’ and therefore ‘a crime against humanity’. US academic lawyers Richard Falk and Virginia Tilley wrote that “the situation in Israel-Palestine constitutes an unmet obligation of the organized international community to resolve a conflict, partially generated by its own actions”.

Professor Ariadne Vromen, a professor in Government at the University of Sydney, and opponent of the BDS campaign against Israel, jumped in, inexplicably, attacking the former Syrian Ambassador to Australia Tammam Sulayman. Ambassador Sulayman is now Syria’s envoy to North Korea, and it was he who invited us to visit that country.

Ariadne claimed that Ambassador Tammam had failed her research design course, 15 years ago. “He didn’t pass first year”, she said. After some criticism, she removed her post.

Of course, it is inappropriate for academics to abuse students or former students, or to humiliate them for their grades or results. In this case, Ariadne’s comments were also false. When I enquired, Ambassador Sulayman spelled out to me the reason why he had left Ariadne’s class and his doctoral studies at the University:

“Of course I didn’t complete at that time with Ariadne because [his supervisor, another academic] started the war on me and I complained against her to the university. So I stopped everything … in my [thesis] preface I stated there is no linkage between the secular Baath party and al Qaeda … but she said ‘that does not exclude links between Saddam and al Qaeda’, and I said but we are talking about the Baath party … Then she started returning every paper I sent her … she is a clear Zionist … It is silly for [Ariadne] to say that I didn’t finish even one year without mentioning the reason.”

Professor Vromen’s abuse of a former student and ambassador is strange. Why would an academic jump into abuse a former student, in the context of an abusive media campaign against another student? What is wrong with honest discussion?

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. The University of Sydney is well known for harboring pro-apartheid-Israel academics. It hosts a research project backed by US Government-funded agencies, called ‘The Electoral Integrity Project’. That project rates the electoral democracyof many countries. As it happens, they rate Israel’s ‘democracy’ very highly (17/127), even though the Jewish state is notorious for its institutionalized racism.

In 2007-08 the University of Sydney accepted a large grant from the American Australian Association, to establish a ‘United States Studies Centre’. This was mostly Australian Government money but came at the suggestion of media mogul Rupert Murdoch. The idea of the Centre came from a desire to repair the damage done to the image of the USA in the wake of its 2003 invasion of Iraq. I wrote an article about this scandal, back in 2010.

Washington remains the major funder and arms provider to apartheid Israel, providing the racist state with more than three billion dollars every year, mostly in military subsidies.

By Tim Anderson
Source

JOHN PILGER: “HOLD THE FRONT PAGE: THE REPORTERS ARE MISSING”

So much of mainstream journalism has descended to the level of a cult-like formula of bias, hearsay and omission. Subjectivism is all; slogans and outrage are proof enough. What matters is “perception,” says John Pilger.

By John Pilger
Special to Consortium News

The death of Robert Parry earlier this year felt like a farewell to the age of the reporter. Parry was “a trailblazer for independent journalism”, wrote Seymour Hersh, with whom he shared much in common.

Hersh revealed the My Lai massacre in Vietnam and the secret bombing of Cambodia, Parry exposed Iran-Contra, a drugs and gun-running conspiracy that led to the White House. In 2016, they separately produced compelling evidence that the Assad government in Syria had not used chemical weapons. They were not forgiven.

Driven from the “mainstream”, Hersh must publish his work outside the United States. Parry set up his own independent news website Consortium News, where, in a final piece following a stroke, he referred to journalism’s veneration of “approved opinions” while “unapproved evidence is brushed aside or disparaged regardless of its quality.”

Although journalism was always a loose extension of establishment power, something has changed in recent years. Dissent tolerated when I joined a national newspaper in Britain in the 1960s has regressed to a metaphoric underground as liberal capitalism moves towards a form of corporate dictatorship. This is a seismic shift, with journalists policing the new “group think”, as Parry called it, dispensing its myths and distractions, pursuing its enemies.

Witness the witch-hunts against refugees and immigrants, the willful abandonment by the “Me Too” zealots of our oldest freedom, presumption of innocence, the anti-Russia racism and anti-Brexit hysteria, the growing anti-China campaign and the suppression of a warning of world war.

With many if not most independent journalists barred or ejected from the “mainstream”, a corner of the Internet has become a vital source of disclosure and evidence-based analysis: true journalism sites such as wikileaks.org, consortiumnews.com, wsws.org, truthdig.com, globalresearch.org, counterpunch.org and informationclearinghouse.com are required reading for those trying to make sense of a world in which science and technology advance wondrously while political and economic life in the fearful “democracies” regress behind a media facade of narcissistic spectacle.

Propaganda Blitz

In Britain, just one website offers consistently independent media criticism. This is the remarkable Media Lens — remarkable partly because its founders and editors as well as its only writers, David Edwards and David Cromwell, since 2001 have concentrated their gaze not on the usual suspects, the Tory press, but the paragons of reputable liberal journalism: the BBC, The Guardian, Channel 4 News.

Their method is simple. Meticulous in their research, they are respectful and polite when they ask why a journalist why he or she produced such a one-sided report, or failed to disclose essential facts or promoted discredited myths.

The replies they receive are often defensive, at times abusive; some are hysterical, as if they have pushed back a screen on a protected species.

I would say Media Lens has shattered a silence about corporate journalism. Like Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman in Manufacturing Consent, they represent a Fifth Estate that deconstructs and demystifies the media’s power.

What is especially interesting about them is that neither is a journalist. David Edwards is a former teacher, David Cromwell is an oceanographer. Yet, their understanding of the morality of journalism — a term rarely used; let’s call it true objectivity — is a bracing quality of their online Media Lens dispatches.

I think their work is heroic and I would place a copy of their just published book, Propaganda Blitz, in every journalism school that services the corporate system, as they all do.

Take the chapter, Dismantling the National Health Service, in which Edwards and Cromwell describe the critical part played by journalists in the crisis facing Britain’s pioneering health service.

The NHS crisis is the product of a political and media construct known as “austerity”, with its deceitful, weasel language of “efficiency savings”  (the BBC term for slashing public expenditure) and “hard choices” (the willful destruction of the premises of civilized life in modern Britain).

“Austerity” is an invention. Britain is a rich country with a debt owed by its crooked banks, not its people. The resources that would comfortably fund the National Health Service have been stolen in broad daylight by the few allowed to avoid and evade billions in taxes.

Using a vocabulary of corporate euphemisms, the publicly-funded Health Service is being deliberately run down by free market fanatics, to justify its selling-off. The Labour Party of Jeremy Corbyn may appear to oppose this, but is it? The answer is very likely no. Little of any of this is alluded to in the media, let alone explained.

Edwards and Cromwell have dissected the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, whose innocuous title belies its dire consequences. Unknown to most of the population, the Act ends the legal obligation of British governments to provide universal free health care: the bedrock on which the NHS was set up following the Second World War. Private companies can now insinuate themselves into the NHS, piece by piece.

Where, asks Edwards and Cromwell, was the BBC while this momentous Bill was making its way through Parliament? With a statutory commitment to “providing a breadth of view” and to properly inform the public of “matters of public policy,” the BBC never spelt out the threat posed to one of the nation’s most cherished institutions. A BBC headline said: “Bill which gives power to GPs passes.” This was pure state propaganda.

Media and Iraq Invasion

There is a striking similarity with the BBC’s coverage of Prime Minister Tony Blair’s lawless invasion of Iraq in 2003, which left a million dead and many more dispossessed. A study by the University of Wales, Cardiff, found that the BBC reflected the government line “overwhelmingly” while relegating reports of civilian suffering. A Media Tenor study placed the BBC at the bottom of a league of western broadcasters in the time they gave to opponents of the invasion. The corporation’s much-vaunted “principle” of impartiality was never a consideration.

One of the most telling chapters in Propaganda Blitz describes the smear campaigns mounted by journalists against dissenters, political mavericks and whistleblowers. The Guardian’s campaign against the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is the most disturbing. Assange, whose epic WikiLeaks disclosures brought fame, journalism prizes and largesse to The Guardian, was abandoned when he was no longer useful. He was then subjected to a vituperative – and cowardly — onslaught of a kind I have rarely known.

With not a penny going to WikiLeaks, a hyped Guardian book led to a lucrative Hollywood movie deal. The book’s authors, Luke Harding and David Leigh, gratuitously described Assange as a “damaged personality” and “callous.” They also disclosed the secret password he had given the paper in confidence, which was designed to protect a digital file containing the U.S. embassy cables.

With Assange now trapped in the Ecuadorean embassy, Harding, standing among the police outside, gloated on his blog that “Scotland Yard may get the last laugh.”

The Guardian columnist Suzanne Moore wrote, “I bet Assange is stuffing himself full of flattened guinea pigs. He really is the most massive turd.”

Moore, who describes herself as a feminist, later complained that, after attacking Assange, she had suffered “vile abuse.” Edwards and Cromwell wrote to her: “That’s a real shame, sorry to hear that. But how would you describe calling someone ‘the most massive turd’? Vile abuse?”

Moore replied that no, she would not, adding, “I would advise you to stop being so bloody patronizing.” Her former Guardian colleague James Ball wrote, “It’s difficult to imagine what Ecuador’s London embassy smells like more than five and a half years after Julian Assange moved in.”

Such slow-witted viciousness appeared in a newspaper described by its editor, Katharine Viner, as “thoughtful and progressive.” What is the root of this vindictiveness?  Is it jealousy, a perverse recognition that Assange has achieved more journalistic firsts than his snipers can claim in a lifetime? Is it that he refuses to be “one of us” and shames those who have long sold out the independence of journalism?

Journalism students should study this to understand that the source of “fake news” is not only trollism, or the likes of Fox News, or Donald Trump, but a journalism self-anointed with a false respectability: a liberal journalism that claims to challenge corrupt state power but, in reality, courts and protects it, and colludes with it. The amorality of the years of Tony Blair, whom The Guardian has failed to rehabilitate, is its echo.

“[It is] an age in which people yearn for new ideas and fresh alternatives,” wrote Katharine Viner. Her political writer Jonathan Freedland dismissed the yearning of young people who supported the modest policies of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as “a form of narcissism.”

“How did this man ….,” brayed the Guardian‘s Zoe Williams, “get on the ballot in the first place?”  A choir of the paper’s precocious windbags joined in, thereafter queuing to fall on their blunt swords when Corbyn came close to winning the 2017 general election in spite of the media.

Complex stories are reported to a cult-like formula of bias, hearsay and omission: Brexit, Venezuela, Russia, Syria. On Syria, only the investigations of a group of independent journalists have countered this, revealing the network of Anglo-American backing of jihadists in Syria, including those related to ISIS.

Supported by a “psyops” campaign funded by the British Foreign Office and the U.S. Agency for International Development, the aim is to hoodwink the Western public and speed the overthrow of the government in Damascus, regardless of the medieval alternative and the risk of war with Russia.

The Syria Campaign, set up by a New York PR agency called Purpose, funds a group known as the White Helmets, who claim falsely to be “Syria Civil Defense” and are seen uncritically on TV news and social media, apparently rescuing the victims of bombing, which they film and edit themselves, though viewers are unlikely to be told this. George Clooney is a fan.

The White Helmets are appendages to the jihadists with whom they share addresses. Their media-smart uniforms and equipment are supplied by their Western paymasters. That their exploits are not questioned by major news organizations is an indication of how deep the influence of state-backed PR now runs in the media. As Robert Fisk noted recently, no “mainstream” reporter reports Syria.

In what is known as a hatchet job, a Guardian reporter based in San Francisco, Olivia Solon, who has never visited Syria, was allowed to smear the substantiated investigative work of journalists Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett on the White Helmets as “propagated online by a network of anti-imperialist activists, conspiracy theorists and trolls with the support of the Russian government.”

This abuse was published without permitting a single correction, let alone a right-of-reply. The Guardian Comment page was blocked, as Edwards and Cromwell document.  I saw the list of questions Solon sent to Beeley, which reads like a McCarthyite charge sheet — “Have you ever been invited to North Korea?”

So much of the mainstream has descended to this level. Subjectivism is all; slogans and outrage are proof enough. What matters is the “perception.”

When he was U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus declared what he called “a war of perception… conducted continuously using the news media.” What really mattered was not the facts but the way the story played in the United States. The undeclared enemy was, as always, an informed and critical public at home.

Nothing has changed. In the 1970s, I met Leni Riefenstahl, Hitler’s film-maker, whose propaganda mesmerized the German public.

She told me the “messages” of her films were dependent not on “orders from above”, but on the “submissive void” of an uninformed public.

“Did that include the liberal, educated bourgeoisie?” I asked.

“Everyone,” she said. “Propaganda always wins, if you allow it.”

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