Robert Stuart vs the BBC: One Man’s Quest to Expose a Fake BBC Video about Syria

By Rick Sterling
Source

Robert Stuart BBC eb2f5

It’s a David vs Goliath story. A former local newspaper reporter, Robert Stuart, is taking on the British Broadcasting Corporation. Stuart believes that a sensational video story about an alleged atrocity in Syria “was largely, if not entirely, staged.”  The BBC would like it all to just go away. But like David, Stuart will not back down or let it go.  It has been proposed that the BBC could settle the issue by releasing the raw footage from the event, but they refuse to do this. Why?

The Controversial Video

The video report in controversy is ‘Saving Syria’s Children‘. Scenes from it were first broadcast as a BBC news report on August 29, 2013 and again as a BBC Panorama special in September. ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ was produced by BBC reporter Ian Pannell with Darren Conway as camera operator and director.

The news report footage was taken in a town north of Aleppo city in a region controlled by the armed opposition. It purports to show the aftermath of a Syrian aerial attack using incendiary weapons, perhaps napalm, killing and burning dozens of youth.  The video shows the youth arriving and being treated at a nearby hospital where the BBC film team was coincidentally filming two British medical volunteers from a British medical relief organization.

The video had a strong impact. The incident was on August 26. The video was shown on the BBCthree days later as the British Parliament was debating whether to support military action by the US against Syria.  As it turned out, British parliament voted against supporting military action. But the video was effective in demonizing the Syrian government. After all, what kind of government attacks school children with napalm-like bombs?

The Context

‘Saving Syria’s Children’ was produced at a critical moment in the Syrian conflict. Just days before, on August 21,  there had been an alleged sarin gas attack against an opposition held area on the outskirts of Damascus. Western media was inundated with videos showing dead Syrian children amidst accusations the Syrian government had attacked civilians, killing up to 1400.  The Syrian government was assumed to be responsible and the attack said to be a clear violation of President Obama’s “red line” against chemical weapons.

This incident had the effect of increasing pressure for Western states or NATO to attack Syria. It would be for humanitarian reasons, rationalized by the “responsibility to protect”.

The assumption that ‘the regime’ did it has been challenged. Highly regarded American journalists including the late Robert Parry and Seymour Hersh investigated and contradicted the mainstream media. They pointed to the crimes being committed by the armed opposition for political goals.  A report by two experts including a UN weapons inspector and Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity also came to the conclusion that the Syrian government was not responsible and the attack was actually by an armed opposition group with the goal of forcing NATO intervention.

Why the Controversial Video is Suspicious

After seeing skeptical comments about ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ on an online discussion board, Robert Stuart looked at the video for himself. Like others, he thought the hospital sequences looked artificial, almost like scenes from a badly acted horror movie.

But unlike others, he decided to find out. Thus began his quest to ascertain the truth. Was the video real or was it staged?  Was it authentic or contrived propaganda?

Over almost six years his research has revealed many curious elements about the video including:

* Youth in the hospital video appear to act on cue.

* There is a six hour discrepancy in reports about when the incident occurred.

* One of the supposed victims, shown writhing in pain on a stretcher, is seen earlier walking unaided into the ambulance.

* The incident happened in an area controlled by a terror group associated with ISIS.

* One of the British medics is a former UK soldier involved in simulated injury training.

* The other British medic is daughter of a prominent figure in the Syrian opposition.

* In 2016 a local rebel commander testified that the alleged attack never happened.

Support for Robert Stuart

Robert Stuart’s formal complaints to the BBC have been rebuffed. His challenges to those involved in the production have been ignored or stifled.  Yet his quest has won support from some major journalistic and political figures.

Former Guardian columnist Jonathan Cook has written several articles on the story. He says,  “Stuart’s sustained research and questioning of the BBC, and the state broadcaster’s increasing evasions, have given rise to ever greater concerns about the footage. It looks suspiciously like one scene in particular, of people with horrific burns, was staged.”

Former UK Ambassador Craig Murray has compared scenes in ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ with his own harrowing experience with burn victims. He says, “The alleged footage of burn victims in hospital following a napalm attack bears no resemblance whatsoever to how victims, doctors and relatives actually behave in these circumstances.”

Film-maker Victor Lewis-Smith has done numerous projects for the BBC. When learning about Stuart’s research he asked for some explanations and suggested they could resolve the issue by releasing the raw video footage of the events. When they refused to do this, he publicly tore up his BBC contract.

Why it Matters

The BBC has a reputation for objectivity. If BBC management was deceived by the video, along with the public, they should have a strong interest in uncovering and correcting this.  If there was an error, they should want to clarify, correct and ensure it is not repeated.

The BBC could go a long way toward resolving this issue by releasing raw footage of the scenes in ‘Saving Syria’s Children’.  Why have they refused to do this? In addition, they have actively removed youtube copies of ‘Saving Syria’s Children’. If they are proud of that production, why are they removing public copies of it?

Has the BBC produced and broadcast contrived or fake video reports in support of British government foreign policy of aggression against Syria? It is important that this question be answered to either restore public trust (if the videos are authentic) or to expose and correct misdeeds (if the videos are largely or entirely staged).

The issue at stake is not only the BBC; it is the manipulation of media to deceive the public into supporting elite-driven foreign policy. ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ is an important case study.

The Future

Robert Stuart is not quitting.  He hopes the next step will be a documentary film dramatically showing what he has discovered and further investigating important yet unexplored angles.

The highly experienced film producer Victor Lewis-Smith, who tore up his BBC contract, has stepped forward to help make this happen.

But to produce a high quality documentary including some travel takes funding. After devoting almost six years to this effort, Robert Stuart’s resources are exhausted. The project needs support from concerned members of the public.

If you support Robert Stuart’s efforts, go to this crowdfunding website.  There you can learn more and contribute to this important effort to reveal whether the BBC video ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ showed true or staged events. Was the alleged “napalm” attack real or was it staged propaganda?  The project needs a large number of small donors and a few substantial ones to meet the June 7 deadline.

As actor and producer Keith Allen says,” Please help us to reach the target so that we can discover the facts, examine the evidence, and present the truth about ‘Saving Syria’s Children’. I think it’s really important.”

Advertisements

A Robust Message from Palestine’s Foreign Minister and an Attempt at Israeli Propaganda from BBC Israeli Hasbara Asset Raffi Berg

By Stuart Littlewood
Source

“Freedom not conditional liberty. Sovereignty not limited autonomy. Peace not subjugation:” Riad Malki sends plain message to Trump and Kushner in run-up to their “Deal of the century”

Riad Maliki talking in Catham House c89c2

Chatham House, the international affairs think-tank in London, recently invited Dr Riad Malki, Palestine’s minister of foreign affairs, to talk about the future of Palestine ahead of the “Deal of the century” dreamed up by the Trump administration. Malki is involved in shaping the Palestinian response to that initiative when it is finally revealed.

During questions Raffi Berg (pictured below), editor of the BBC News website’s Middle East section, said that while the official Palestine Liberation Organisation’s (PLO) position is for two states as the solution to the conflict, he mischievously suggested that the recent Israel election results showed that Israelis consider the Palestinians’ position to be “insincere”. He asked: “Can you make clear whether you fully accept the presence of Israel as a country in the Middle East within/outside [indistinct] the 1967 ceasefire line?”

Raffi Berg BBC hasbara agent 7e7df

This sounded a little off-key from the BBC, which is supposed to maintain an air of utter impartiality. However, Malki dealt with the unfriendly prod quite firmly:

We have made it very clear that we are going to accept, and we have taken the decision to accept, the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, to accept the historic compromise that the state of Palestine will be established on the 22 per cent of historic Palestine. It is not only the Palestinian position, it is the position of almost every country around the world.

He reminded the audience that there is international consensus about the two-state solution and that the Palestinian state should be established on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem the capital of Palestine and of Israel. He continued:

We have also agreed in principle that we are ready during negotiations to talk about territorial exchange but always to keep the 1967 border as the border of the state of Palestine. So, we are not going to accept anything less than that.

If anyone talks about the State of Palestine on less than the 1967 border, or the State of Israel beyond that line, this is not acceptable because it defies not only the negotiating position but international law and the international consensus.

I recently wrote about Hanan Ashrawi, a long-time member of the PLO executive and an all-round formidable lady, saying we should see and hear more of her in a front line spokes role. The same goes for Raid Malki who is well informed and articulate and came across well at Chatham House. That they remain invisible to the Western world is the fault of the PLO and Palestinian Authority who are simply not media savvy and stubbornly intend to remain that way. Their embassies (or missions) around the globe are the same.

Malki was a one-time leading member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and has a PhD in civil engineering from the American University. His impressive CV includes Head of the Civil Engineering Department at Birzeit University, the European Peace Prize in 2000 in Copenhagen and the Italian Peace Prize (Lombardi) in 2005. He is a visiting professor at several European universities.

In his Chatham House speech Malki pulls no punches: “I know that some may be uncomfortable to hear the words ‘colonialism’ and ‘apartheid’ associated with Israel. But they are what we experience on a daily basis and what is visible to the naked eye.”

As for America, “the US administration has shown nothing but disregard for Palestinian rights and Palestinian lives, for international law and the internationally recognised terms of reference, and for common sense and decency”.

The Palestinian people, he insists, “want freedom not conditional liberty. They want sovereignty and not limited autonomy. They want peace and coexistence not domination and subjugation. He continued:

There are two ways to end the conflict: a peace accord or capitulation, meaning a surrender act. We continue to stand ready to negotiate the peace accords based on the internationally recognised terms of reference and the pre-1967 borders, under international monitoring holding accountable the parties and within a determined and binding timeframe. We will never be ready to sign a surrender act.

It is worth watching the video. Sparks are set to fly when Trump and Kushner eventually unveil their big deal.

I’m not a reader of the BBC News website. Long ago I came to distrust the BBC’s reporting of Middle East affairs, so I tend to ignore it. Berg’s line of questioning prompted me to look deeper and I found this piece from 2013 by Amena Saleem in Electronic Intifada titled “BBC editor urged colleagues to downplay Israel’s siege of Gaza”, in which she reports that Berg, during Israel’s eight-day assault on Gaza in November 2012 which killed nearly 200 Palestinians, emailed BBC staff to write more favourably about Israel. He urged them, allegedly, not to blame Israel for the prolonged onslaught but to promote the Israeli government line that the “offensive” was “aimed at ending rocket fire from Gaza”, despite the fact that it was Israel which broke the ceasefire.

In another email, he told them: “Please remember, Israel doesn’t maintain a blockade around Gaza. Egypt controls the southern border.” However, the United Nations regards Israel as the occupying power in Gaza and had called on Israel to end its siege, which is a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1860.

It is interesting to read that Berg’s boss until last year was James Harding, an ex-Murdoch editor and self-proclaimed Israel supporter – a strange choice for a supposedly non-partisan head of BBC News. Almost as strange as the appointment around the same time of ex-Labour minister and former Chairman of Labour Friends of Israel James Purnell as director of strategy at this beacon of impartiality. Purnell is still there.

US Imperialism in Syria: Daesh, ‘SDF,’ White Phosphorus, Hostages

Source

Syria

The one and only flag of the Syrian Arab Republic

US and allies have been busy accelerating their war crimes against Syria over the last two days. White phosphorus and “regular” bombings, ambushes and beheading, Syrian IDPs held hostage are not considered newsworthy by NATO media. More shameless, though, are ‘independent’ media increasingly normalizing geopolitical Newspeak.

On 2 March, the US – led fascist coalition, created by Obama and continued by Trump, again bombed al Baghouz — this time a farming village — in Deir Ezzor, with white phosphorus. Un-shockingly, AFP was (safely) on hand to take photos, while omitting the phosphorus bombs, and waxing poetic on the devastation.

Despite ”sanctions”-related telecommunications problems in Syria, AFP reporter claimed that family members in France had spoken with their French terrorist relatives in al Baghouz.
US Coalition doubles down on war crimes, again bombing al Baghouz with white phosphorus. Photo courtesy SANA.

On 3 March, US’s multi-billion dollar subsidized ally, Israel, bombed Quneitra, Syria.

Israeli media are under the fist of IDF censors, who prefer to first report on their military war crimes via reporting on reports of others.

Also on 3 March, rabid Erdogan continued to show his commitment to the [unilateral] ‘Idlib de-escalation zone’ agreement when his sponsored takfiri attacked Syrian Arab Army outposts.

Massive funeral services were held today, 4 March, for the martyred SAA soldiers slaughtered while defending their country from US-backed terrorists.

Syria
The martyrs helped to repel al Qaeda killers from planned attacks against civilians in Hama and Lattakia.

The swine in the UN somehow are oblivious to the worth of Erdogan’s guarantees for the “Idlib de-escalation zone.”

Syria
‘Erdoğan thinks he’s a Muslim Caliph’ President Assad

On 30 January, US acting ambassador to the UN, Jonathan Cook, threatened Syria that the US was ready to hold Syrian IDPs hostage, in Rukban camp, near al Tanf. This imperialist threat has been activated: Though Syria has opened two humanitarian corridors — Jalib and Jabal al Ghurab — illicit American troops refuse to allow convoys to transport out of the open-air jail. There are approximately 40,000 Syrian hostages in this camp.

Syria
Photo & caption 13 January 2019. “EPA” is a photo agency founded by AFP and 6 other European news agencies.

Such heinous crimes against humanity against Syria, and there is no MSM reporting on any of them. Instead, a Google search has three smarmy propaganda pieces:

Syria
Filthy anti-Syria propaganda offered by sewage media.

The ever-feculent BBC writes of British and Dutch human garbage in Syria as though reporting on a romantic honeymoon. Dutch takfiri Yago Riedijik is interviewed showing excellent telecommunications, despite US economic terrorism and US sponsored terrorists blowing up power plants, both of which make electricity and internet sporadic and undependable for ‘ordinary’ Syrians.

Dutch terrorist Yago Riedijik interviewed by rancid BBC, without a hiccough. This rabid dog is a captive in an American jail…in Syria.

Al Jazeera – owned by the Gulfie gas station toilet, Qatar, which has spent billions toward the final solution against Syria — spent most of its report pretending that the “SDF” is not a US-created international wetworkers militia, and normalizing an American colonel in Syria.

Syria
al Khanzeera quoted American illegal/ military terrorist in Syria

ABC News won the Scum Award, for its description of foreign human garbage Mark Taylor, as “serving with the Islamic State group,” as though he were volunteering as diaper-changer for seniors in nursing homes. Every faction of al Qaeda in Syria — FSA, Nusra, ISIS — has been whitewashed by warmongering media whose countries have armed these savages.

New Zealand human garbage whined to ABC that he was “only” a guard for ISIS. Poor baby..

There is no such thing as a “Kurdish jail” in Syria. There are Syrian jails, or there are makeshift jails created by illegal American troops in Syria. This rabid New Zealander dog was freely interviewed in Qamishli, where, on 8 September 2018, “the traitorous and treacherous faction of Kurds” owned by the US, ambushed and slaughtered 13 members of the SAA military security.

syria
Imagine American soldiers slaughtered in the US, their bodies dumped & the world writing about “moderate American opposition.”
syria
Liters of blood of the Syrian martyrs….

Most appalling of vicious, separatist propaganda came from the too many ‘independent’ news sites that have been consistently pro-Syria, and consistently anti-NATO “regime change” obliteration. It is inexcusable for any of them to ever cite “SOHR” as credible. “SOHR” is one man, Abdul Rahman, funded by British intelligence.

While he freely admits he has not been in Syria since 2000, he leaves out the part about “fleeing” another trial involving fraud. Syria, after all, remains that paradoxical Utopia in which there is no crime, yet the jails runneth over.

Syria

Worse, still, is the legitimization of the faux “Syrian Defense Forces.” This geopolitical scam was created under the Obama regime, which had planned to turn Syria into Libya, Part II, after FSA terroristsaccidentally bombed themselves with chemical weapons, in Ghouta, 2013, because

They didn’t tell us what these arms were or how to use them.  When Saud Prince Bandar gives such weapons to people he must give them to those who know how to use them.”

The Syrian Arab Republic immediately joined the OPCW, forcing the US to switch gears: Several wetworkers — American, British, Japanese — masquerading as “humanitarians” and/or “journalists” were killed off by other foreign wetworkers as cover for the United States to launch a coalition of war criminals to bomb Syria, as the US never keeps its bargains (see “Cue the Illegal Orangettes,” here).

Syria
President Obama, 10 September 2014, addressed the world, live, to announce the creation of international war criminals. Trump has continued the Nobel Laureate’s work.

The US created al Qaeda. The US created ISIS.

syria

US created “ISIS

The US created the “SDF,” because wetworkers cannot be killed as photo ops, indefinitely, lest the pool dry up. The above hyperlinked report includes multiple pictures of “SDF” members: Swedes, Brits, Irish, American (included in Americans was a former juvenile delinquent, alcoholic, druggie who bragged that he had “literally done nothing” “but jack off” before joining the US-SDF).

Consider that NATO forces have occupied Syria’s al Tabqa Dam, since February 2013. First it was occupied by NATO created and armed “FSA,” then came the utterly absurd story that US-ISIS chieftains had sought ‘sanctuary’ there, magically wresting control from FSA. In March 2017 came the psyop that the US-SDF had taken control from the US-ISIS which had taken control from the US-FSA.

syria
al Tabqa Dam.

That Syria has invited the world to take back its particles of human garbage dumped there, does not change the fact that only Syria has the legal authority to arrest criminals in its country. When the “SDF” announces that it has released 283 ISIS prisoners — because ‘they had no blood on their hands’ — this is actually the US admitting it abducts people in Syria, and that it still runs ISIS terrorists against the SAR.

It is an extension of its ongoing imperialist aggression in the Republic, no different than in 2017, when the US signed an agreement with the US for US troops in Syria.

Lest these facts intrude upon the impolite self-soothing of western serfs whose superiority complexes have them always supporting balkanization — under cover of ”rights” of various ethnic groups in othercountries — we chastise their silence when Sheikh al Bouti, of Kurdish origins, was martyred by US sponsored terrorists.

Syria
Sheikh Muhammed Saeed Ramadan al Bouti.
Syria
Sheikh al Bouti with President al Assad and Syria’s Grand Mufti.

We also paraphrase Hillel: That which is military aggression and terrorism in western countries, is also military aggression and terrorism in Syria.

 Miri Wood

NB: It has been noted that a certain social medium’s algorithms take umbrage at headlines with “US” and “ISIS,” censoring such reports and/or suspended accounts that have the temerity to share them.

 

US Fueling Terrorism in China

October 24, 2018 (Tony Cartalucci – NEO) – The West’s human rights racket has once again mobilized – this time supposedly in support of China’s Uyghur minority centered primarily in the nation’s northwestern region of Xinjiang, China.
Headlines and reports have been published claiming that up to a million mostly Uyghurs have been detained in what the West is claiming are “internment camps.” As others have pointed out, it is impossible to independently verify these claims as no evidence is provided and organizations like Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Uyghur-specific organizations like the World Uyghur Congress lack all credibility and have been repeatedly exposed leveraging rights advocacy to advance the agenda of Western special interests.

Articles like the BBC’s, “China Uighurs: One million held in political camps, UN told,” claim (emphasis added):

Human rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have submitted reports to the UN committee documenting claims of mass imprisonment, in camps where inmates are forced to swear loyalty to China’s President Xi Jinping. 

The World Uyghur Congress said in its report that detainees are held indefinitely without charge, and forced to shout Communist Party slogans.

Nowhere in the BBC’s article is evidence presented to verify these claims. The BBC also fails to mention that groups like the World Uyghur Congress are funded by the US State Department via the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and has an office in Washington D.C. The NED is a US front dedicated specifically to political meddling worldwide and has played a role in US-backed regime change everywhere from South America and Eastern Europe to Africa and all across Asia.
What China Admits 

According to the South China Morning Post in an article titled, “China changes law to recognise ‘re-education camps’ in Xinjiang,” China does indeed maintain educational and vocational training centers. The article claims:

China’s far-western Xinjiang region has revised its legislation to allow local governments to “educate and transform” people influenced by extremism at “vocational training centres” – a term used by the government to describe a network of internment facilities known as “re-education camps”.

The article also claims, echoing the BBC and other Western media fronts:

The change to the law, which took effect on Tuesday, comes amid an international outcry about the secretive camps in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

But observers said writing the facilities into law did not address global criticism of China’s systematic detention and enforced political education of up to 1 million ethnic Uygurs and other Muslims in the area.

Again, the “1 million” number is never verified with evidence, nor does the article, or others like it spreading across the Western media address the fact that China’s Uyghur population is a target of foreign efforts to radicalize and recruit militants to fight proxy wars both across the globe, and within China itself.

Also omitted is any mention of systematic terrorism both inside China and abroad carried out by radicalized Uyghur militants. With this information intentionally and repeatedly omitted, Chinese efforts to confront and contain rampant extremism are easily depicted as “repressive.”


Uyghur Terrorism is Real, So Says the Western Media Itself  

Within China, Uyghur militants have carried out serial terrorist attacks. This includes a wave of attacks in 2014 which left nearly 100 dead and hundreds more injured. The Guardian in a 2014 article titled, “Xinjiang attack leaves at least 15 dead,” would admit:

An attack in China’s western region of Xinjiang left 15 people dead and 14 injured. 

The official Xinhua news agency said the attack took place on Friday on a “food street” in Shache county, where state media said a series of attacks in July left 96 people dead, including 59 assailants.

Abroad, Uyghur-linked terrorists are believed to be responsible for the 2015 Bangkok bombing which targeted mainly Chinese tourists and left 20 dead. The bombing followed Bangkok’s decision to send Uyghur terror suspects back to China to face justice – defying US demands that the suspects be allowed to travel onward to Turkey.

In Turkey, they were to cross the border into Syria where they would train, be armed, and join terrorists including Al Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) in the West’s proxy war against Damascus and its allies.

AP in its article, “AP Exclusive: Uighurs fighting in Syria take aim at China,” would admit:

Since 2013, thousands of Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority from western China, have traveled to Syria to train with the Uighur militant group Turkistan Islamic Party and fight alongside al-Qaida, playing key roles in several battles. Syrian President Bashar Assad’s troops are now clashing with Uighur fighters as the six-year conflict nears its endgame. 

But the end of Syria’s war may be the beginning of China’s worst fears.

The article implicates the Turkish government’s involvement in facilitating the movement of Uyghurs through its territory and into Syria. Another AP article claims that up to 5,000 Uyghur terrorists are currently in Syria, mainly in the north near the Turkish border.

The Western media – not Beijing – admits that China’s Xinjiang province has a problem with extremism and terrorism. The Western media – not Beijing – admits that Uyghur militants are being recruited, moved into Syria, funded, and armed to fight the West’s proxy war in Syria. And the Western media – not Beijing – admits that battle-hardened Uyghur terrorists seek to return to China to carry out violence there.

Thus it is clear that Beijing – as a matter of national security – must confront extremism in Xinjiang. It is undeniable that extremism is taking root there, and it is undeniable that China has both the right and a duty to confront, contain, and overcome it. It is also clear that the West and its allies have played a central role in creating Uyghur militancy – and through feigned human rights concerns – is attempting to undermine Beijing’s efforts to confront that militancy.

US Supports Uyghur Separatism, Militancy  

The US National Endowment for Democracy’s own website admits to meddling all across China and does so so extensively that it felt the necessity to break down its targeting of China into several regions including mainlandHong KongTibet, and Xinjiang/East Turkistan.

It is important to understand that “East Turkistan” is what Uyghur militants and separatists refer to Xinjiang as. Beijing does not recognize this name. NED – by recognizing the term “East Turkistan” – is implicitly admitting that it supports separatism in western China, even as the US decries separatists and alleged annexations in places like Donbass, Ukraine and Russian Crimea.

And more than just implicitly admitting so, US NED money is admittedly provided to the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) which exclusively refers to China’s Xinjiang province as “East Turkistan” and refers to China’s administration of Xinjiang as the “Chinese occupation of East Turkistan.” On WUC’s website, articles like, “Op-ed: A Profile of Rebiya Kadeer, Fearless Uyghur Independence Activist,” admits that WUC leader Rebiya Kadeer seeks “Uyghur independence” from China.

It is the WUC and other Washington-based Uyghur fronts who are repeatedly cited by the Western media and faux human rights advocacy groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International regarding allegations of “1 million” Uyghurs being placed into “internment camps,” as illustrated in the above mentioned BBC article.

By omitting the very real terrorist problem facing China in Xinjiang as well as elsewhere around the world where state-sponsored Uyghur terrorists are deployed and fighting, and by depicting China’s campaign to confront extremism as “repression,” the West aims at further inflaming violent conflict in Xinjiang and jeopardizing human life – not protecting it.

Where Uyghur terrorists are being trafficked through on their way to foreign battlefields, Beijing-friendly governments like Bangkok are sending suspects back to face justice in China. In nations like Malaysia where US-backed opposition has recently come to power, Uyghur terror suspects are being allowed to proceed onward to Turkey.

Al Jazeera’s recent article, “Malaysia ignores China’s request; frees 11 ethnic Uighurs,” would report:

Malaysia has freed 11 ethnic Uighurs detained last year after they broke out of prison in Thailand and crossed the border, despite a request from Beijing for the men to be returned to China. 

Prosecutors dropped immigration charges against the group on humanitarian grounds and they flew out of Kuala Lumpur to Turkey on Tuesday, according to their lawyer Fahmi Moin.

Al Jazeera would also make sure to mention:

The decision may further strain ties with China, which has been accused of cracking down on the minority Uighurs in the western region of Xinjiang. Since returning as prime minister following a stunning election victory in May, Mahathir Mohamad has already cancelled projects worth more than US$20bn that had been awarded to Chinese companies.

This point makes it abundantly clear that Uyghur extremism has become a central component in Washington’s struggle with Beijing over influence in Asia and in a much wider sense, globally. Geopolitical expert F. William Engdahl in his recent article, “China’s Uyghur Problem – The Unmentioned Part” concluded that:

The escalating trade war against China, threats of sanctions over allegations of Uyghur detention camps in Xinjiang, threats of sanctions if China buys Russian defense equipment, all is aimed at disruption of the sole emerging threat to a Washington global order, one that is not based on freedom or justice but rather on fear and tyranny. How China’s authorities are trying to deal with this full assault is another issue. The context of events in Xinjiang however needs to be made clear. The West and especially Washington is engaged in full-scale irregular war against the stability of China. 

It is difficult to argue with this conclusion – as the US has already openly wielded terrorism as a geopolitical tool everywhere from Libya where the nation was divided and destroyed by NATO-led military operations in the air and terrorist-led troops on the ground, to Syria where the US is all but openly aiding and abetting Al Qaeda and its affiliates cornered in the northern governorate of Idlib, and even in Yemen where another AP investigation revealed the US and its allies were cutting deals with Al Qaeda militantsto augment Western and Persian Gulf ground-fighting capacity.

It is important to understand the full context of the West’s accusations against China and to note the media and supposed nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) like Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and others involved in propaganda aimed at protecting terrorists and promoting militancy inside of China.

These same media groups and faux-NGOs will turn up elsewhere along not only China’s peripheries across Southeast, South, and Central Asia, but also within and along the borders of nations like Russia and Iran.

Exposing and confronting these appendages of Western geopolitics, and the Western corporate-financier interests themselves directing their collective agenda is key to diminishing the dangerous influence they have and all the violence, conflict, division, and destruction they seek to employ as they have already done in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, and Syria.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazineNew Eastern Outlook”.

 

BBC finds Andrew Marr guilty of Telling the Truth

June 25, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

bbc-fake-news-ultimate.jpg

Reported by Gilad Atzmon

 Fake news is so deeply entrenched in the British media that telling the truth can get you into real trouble.  The Daily Mail reported yesterday that Andrew Marr was found “guilty of a breach of rules over a ‘misleading’ claim that Israel killed ‘lots of Palestinian kids’”

During the 8 April Sunday news programme, Marr concluded a discussion of the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons attack on civilians by saying: “And the Middle East is aflame again. ‘I mean there’s lots of Palestinian kids being killed further south as well by Israeli forces.”

Antisemitism campaigner Jonathan Sacerdoti lodged a complaint, saying that: “when talking about a story on the use of chemical weapons in Syria, Andrew Marr for some reason decided to talk about Israel (which was unrelated anyway). He stated ‘there’s a lot of Palestinian kids being killed further south by Israeli forces’.”

It seems that Andrew Marr had failed to grasp that Britain is no longer a free space. Thoughts, ideas, associations and the like cannot be shared or explored in the open unless approved by one specific foreign lobby.

Sacerdoti  wrote to the BBC that the reference to Gaza is “completely incorrect and is made up. This was irrelevant to the conversation on Syria… and also actually completely false.”

In a free world, journalists, especially leading national broadcaster presenters, are encouraged to make relevant associations, use metaphorical language and re-define the boundaries of the discussion. But 2018 Britain has drifted away from the free world. It has managed to fulfil Orwell’s prophecy. Within the context of the emerging conflict at Gaza’s border, Marr’s comment wasn’t just accurate, it was prescient, capturing the essence of  the evolving massacre and the scale of violence to come. Marr could see that Israel deploying hundreds of snipers against unarmed protestors is a slaughter in the making. Marr grasped the meaning of the event before it made it into the ‘news.’

Last Saturday the Health Ministry in Gaza unveiled detailed official statistics on Palestinians killed and wounded by Israeli soldiers’ gunfire since the start of rallies and protests in the Gaza Strip on March 30. According to the report, 131 Palestinians were killed, 14,811 were wounded, including 7,975 treated in hospitals. 54 had to have either their upper or lower limbs amputated. By 8 April, Marr, like many other journalists and commentators, saw it coming: “the Middle East is aflame again-lots of Palestinian kids being killed’ was an insightful warning.

One would expect the BBC to be sophisticated enough to point out that in hindsight, Marr was proved both astute and correct. The events Marr observed did result in disastrous bloodshed.

BBC producers initially tried to defend Marr’s comments by pointing out that five ‘younger people’ had been killed between the beginning of the year and the date of the programme. They also said several Palestinian children and younger people were killed in the week following the broadcast, but Mr Sacerdoti, didn’t give up on his complaint, arguing that later events could not be used to justify Mr Marr’s comments.

Fraser Steel, head of executive complaints at the BBC, wrote to Mr Sacerdoti saying: ‘The BBC’s guidelines require that output is “well sourced” and “based on sound evidence… In the absence of any evidence to support the reference to “lots” of children being killed at the time of transmission, it seems to us to have risked misleading audiences on a material point. ‘We therefore propose to uphold this part of your complaint.”

The Parallel Universe of BBC Panorama @BBCPanorama

The Parallel Universe of BBC Panorama

By Kit | OffGuardian | June 21, 2018

The BBC flag-ship documentary series “Panorama” has long been a stalwart of state-funded television propaganda. They can always be relied upon to tell us what we’re supposed to think. In 2013, just days before the Commons vote on military intervention in Syria, BBC aired “Panorama: Saving Syria’s Children”, a shambolic piece of fiction designed to outrage the public into war.

Robert Stuart has done truly exceptional work in deconstructing the fakery and propaganda on which the BBC sees fit to spend taxpayer’s money.

In just the last year they’ve had two documentaries about North Korea being evil (“North Korea’s Secret Slave Camps” and “North Korea’s Nuclear Trump Card”).

And it’s not just foreign “enemies” that end up in Panorama’s crosshairs either – it’s also domestic ones.

In 2015, just a few days before Jeremy Corbyn’s first Labour leadership victory, the BBC aired “Panorama: Jeremy Corbyn – Labour’s Earthquake”, a documentary which prompted Corbyn’s team to file an official complaint, labelling it a “hatchet job”.

Then in 2016, on the eve of Corbyns second (larger) Labour leadership victory, the BBC aired “Panorama: Labour – Is the Party over?”, a documentary full of doom and gloom, featuring anecdotes about abuse, and various (predictable) Blairite MPs bemoaning the “unelectability” of their leader.

In the 2017 General Election, Jeremy Corbyn’s resurgent Labour defied the polls, the pundits and the BBC to knock-off the Tory majority and come within 2% of winning. Could the BBC’s, and Panorama’s, relentlessly negative slanted coverage be responsible for keeping Corbyn out of No.10? It would be foolish to deny the possibility.

And there, neatly demonstrated in those three paragraphs, you see the value and purpose of state-sponsored propaganda. Panorama is the spirit of the BBC, a pretense of faux objectivity, shrouded in cuddly familiarity, employed exclusively and decisively against anything the establishment sees as a threat.

*

Enter Vladimir Putin

The folks at Panorama LOVE Putin, or at least love to hate him. In the last two years there have been no less than five (five!) episodes devoted to the man, and indeed the myth.

January 2016 brought us “Putin’s Secret Riches”, January 2017 “Trump: The Kremlin Candidate”, March of this year brought us two inside a week, “Putin: The New Tsar” and “Taking On Putin!”. As the titles suggest, none of them were especially objective or open-minded. That’s not in the BBC’s remit.

The most recent Putin-hit piece aired just last week – in the run up to the World Cup – its rather more mundane title simply: “Putin’s Russia with David Dimbleby”. The documentary, for want of a better word, opens on David Dimbleby wandering through a Moscow market looking at sigh Russian nesting dolls, and it doesn’t get less predictable from there on in.

A long time ago, I was taught you construct an argument in three steps – “Statement, Evidence, Conclusion”. Instead Panorama opted to go for the unorthodox “Conclusion, Anecdote, Stock Footage of Nesting Dolls” approach.

The first problem, and perhaps the biggest, is David’s hat… but it never really goes up-hill from there.

The second problem, is the smugness. Forget the factual inaccuracies re: the Russian economy, forget the totally evidence-free assertions, and just focus on the smugness.

The smugness of an English man who went to Charterhouse School, and then on to Oxford, is possibly one of the most toxic things in the world. So much evil has been done by men who are taught their own effortless superiority. Blood has been spilled by such men, oceans of it, evils done beyond imagining, all with a soft chuckle and clear conscience, because they come from a system that tells them their very existence MAKES them RIGHT. They do the “right thing” as a matter of course because of who they are and what they think. They are right, and the vast swamps of Other are wrong, and that’s just the way it is.

These are the people who spread the British Empire over a quarter of the globe, all the time telling themselves that they were doing the savages a favour by giving them civilisation. The same men, the same minds, in suits that change with time and with methods that shift with the ages, have run the country for centuries… and run the BBC since its inception. Men who believe morality is a function of their very existence. A path that rises up to meet their feet.

This is the British version of what the Americans call “exceptionalism”. It’s less brash, and less obvious, but no less poisonous for that.

The worst actions of mankind flow from minds who never question their own moral position, and this documentary can be counted as small, septic, addition to that list.

And so we begin…

I’ve come to see how Putin has managed to hold on to power for so long, and what the Russians see in the Putin that We, in the West, don’t.

Dimbleby’s introduction is immediately partisan and dishonest – referring to “we” in the West as if there is a consensus, when clearly that is not the case, is a variation on the argumentum ad populum, the argument to common knowledge. “Everybody knows that”, or “We all agree on this”. It is deceptive language, being used to paint a false picture.

Likewise, saying Putin “held on” to power for so long, makes it seem like his Presidency was an act of force, when all the evidence is to the contrary. Dimbleby says so himself just a few minutes later.

(SIDEBAR: When Dimbleby says “so long”, he means 18 years. The classic mainstream media trick of ignoring Medvedev’s term as president is employed here. As is every other, long discredited, anti-Putin rhetorical device.)

In a democracy if you failed to deliver on your economic promises, if you surrounded yourself with cronies, and if you used the law to oppress opposition, well you’d be thrown out on your ear… but this is Russia, and they do things differently here.

Dimbleby lays out, in one broad stroke, that Russia is backwards, and silly, and he’s going to come along and point out to us sensible Westerners just how they went wrong.

Leaving aside the hypocrisy (this is, let’s be honest, a pretty accurate summary of what every single British government has done since Margaret Thatcher), it’s also simply insulting. I find it insulting, and I’m British. If I was Russian and heard that? I would vomit blood.

It’s sickening… and we’re only 2 minutes in.

*

David on… the Russian Birthrate

Our first port of call on David’s whistle-stop tour of everything that’s shit about Russia is the birth rate. He tells us that it fell sharply in the years following the collapse of the USSR, and this is true, he doesn’t say WHY this happened. As a matter of policy this programme avoids, at all costs, mentioning what Russia was like in the 1990s.

Anyway, when Putin came to power the birth rate was declining, and what did he do about this? Well, in a masterstroke, decided to encourage people to have babies.

Mrs Cherenkova’s medals

How? Well by increasing state benefits to mothers with more than 2 children, and further increasing them for families with more than 3 children. Families with multiple children are also entitled to free school meals, tax breaks and get discounts on family holidays. Medvedev also introduced a medal in 2008 – “The Order of Glorious Motherhood” – for mothers with 7 or more children, based on the “Mother Heroine” medal from World War 2.

(SIDEBAR: It’s worth noting here that we, in lovely hugs-and-flowers Britain with our nice fluffy democracy, DON’T have free school meals… for anyone. At all. Ever. The government that proposed this bill was not “thrown out on their ear”, but DID have to spend £1.4 BILLION pounds bribing a minority party to vote it through.)

The measures worked, and under Putin/Medvedev the birthrate has increased almost every year since 2000. In 2011 the birthrate moved ahead of the death rate for the first time since 1992, and Russia’s population started growing.

Now, if this is all sounding very sensible and not at all bad to you, then well done for paying attention.

It’s here the film reaches its first hurdle… and goes into it face first. Russia is supposed to be backwards and Putin is supposed to be a brutal corrupt dictator with no concern for the country he runs… but the facts on the ground don’t jive with this at all, at least in the birthrate example. Not only did he try to improve his country, but he did via perfectly reasonable methods, and they worked.

The film makers decide to simply leave an ellipsis on this one, just a long pause that’s obviously designed to make us ruminate on how bad Russia is, but it doesn’t really work. Partly because it doesn’t make any sense, but mostly because – for some reason – David thinks the best way to hammer this point home is show us the Cherenkovas. A very happy family with lots of healthy children. He refers to them as “Putin’s ideal family”, as if the term itself is insulting.

Mrs Cherenkova proudly displays her medals for motherhood in a leather case, explaining she wears them on public holidays. The family sing as they sit down for dinner, talk about the Church and how life has improved under Putin compared to the 1990s. (David, staying true to his brief, doesn’t ask how bad things were in the 1990s. In 58 minutes it’s not mentioned once.)

*

David on… the Russian Orthodox Church

The Cherenkovas praying as they sit down to dinner provides a neat segue for David to discuss something really terrible – the growing influence of the Russian Orthodox Church.

You see, the ROC was suppressed under Communism, which was bad, and now it’s not… which is apparently, also bad. I don’t fully understand the point David is trying to make, but that’s OK since I’m pretty sure he doesn’t either.

We are presented with a Bishop, who tells us that it’s now easier for the Church to interface with the state than it was during the 1990s. We don’t know what he means by that, because he’s cut off and David never asks.

The implication, backed by stock footage of Putin lighting candles in a church and David’s narration about “conservative values”, is that Russia is becoming a kind of quasi-theocracy. It’s never stated out-loud, because the position is so ridiculous as to be indefensible, but it is quite clearly the implication.

*

David on… Russian Opinion Polls

Curious to see “how widely [the Cherenkovas’] views are shared”, David goes in search of a broad opinion, but meets an apparent problem:

It’s all very well to say “I’ve come to Russia to find out what the Russians really think”, but it’s not actually that easy in a country where the press, radio and television are all strictly controlled by an authoritarian government.

1) He hasn’t gone there to find out what Russians think. He knows what Russians “really think”. He’s there to tell US why THEY are wrong. He’s there, at our expense, to make sure we hate who we’re told to hate.

2) The press, radio and television are not all “strictly controlled”, that’s a lie, and he knows it’s a lie because he proves it himself less than 10 minutes later.

But that’s beside the point. How does David get around the problem of finding out what Russian’s “really think” under such an authoritarian regime? Well, he goes to the one of the biggest public opinion polling companies in Russia, the Levada Centre.

The irony of rambling on about Russia’s repressive controlling government as you take a gentle stroll down to the partly-American funded NGO, just minutes from Red Square, is apparently lost on David.

Imagine, if you can, a Russian-funded “polling centre” operating within walking distance of Westminster or Pennsylvania Avenue. That not only calls the government-run polls inaccurate, but claims that the CIA forces people to vote and that the President is corrupt.

It would never be allowed to happen, but in “authoritarian” Russia, with its “strictly controlled” media, this is the current reality.

In the Levada Centre (Russia’s only “independent” polling centre), David finds out that around 80% of Russian’s support Putin as President. Which everyone in the world already knew.

The fact the “independent” Levada’s centre polls almost perfectly align with the apparently unreliable government polls doesn’t cause anyone to question their assertions about corruption or dishonesty. It’s one of the many inconvenient truths the Panorama team feel the need to brush over as quickly as possible.

When the head of the Levada Centre claims a President with an 80% approval rating had to “force” people to vote, David doesn’t ask why, or state that it doesn’t make any sense. No, he just makes concerned faces at the camera.

They discuss the “annexation” of Crimea as Russia “taking back” what is theirs, with no reference to the polls that show huge Crimean support for the move, going all the way back to 1992, including those done by both the American and German governments.

*

David on… Propaganda

From Crimea it’s a steady flow to “propaganda” – theirs, not ours – Dimbleby narrates in solemn tones:

For most Russians, state-run television remains the main source of television news.”

… blithely passing over that this statement is being made on a state-run television station, that is the main source of television news for most people in Britain.

He goes from Russian domestic television to RT, saying they are “accused of spreading conspiracy theories”, he doesn’t say who accuses them, or ask his audience to consider the possible reason behind such accusations. He doesn’t even throw the weight of conviction behind it enough to make a declarative statement. No, just sends out the little accusation, evidence free and with no reply or counter, and hopes the implication does its job.

He interviews a British anchor for RT, who says that they aren’t told what to say, and he’s “answerable to no one but his own conscience”. To which David replies, “And that’s clear is it?” The anchor explains the structure of RT, but David isn’t listening. He’s too busy making a documentary demonising a designated “enemy” for a state-funded broadcaster.

He doesn’t pose the same questions about his own conscience.

It’s always worth remembering that the BBC, formerly the British Broadcasting Corporation, is not “independent”, even though they’ve spent decades pretending otherwise. We’re encouraged to think of the BBC as a friendly presence, our shared “Auntie Beeb”, cosy and reassuring and honest. It’s none of those things, it’s a state backed broadcaster with a history of launching pro-government, pro-war propaganda, for which it never faces censure or punishment. It’s a much a less “friendly auntie”, more a threatening “big brother”.

With truly Orwellian posters intimidating us into paying for it.

Imagine this poster was in cyrillic and about RT.

That Dimbleby can stand under the banner of one of the biggest state-funded media organizations in the world, and pontificate about “media control” from an “authoritarian government” demands levels of cognitive dissonance few would think possible. It’s marvelously without irony.

*

Next David seeks out a human rights lawyer to discuss Russia’s legal system. David tells us that Russian judges convict in 99% of cases. This is apparently shockingly high. It does sound high, but deliberately left without context to make it seem worse than it is.

Firstly, the 99% refers only to Judge cases. Jury trials are relatively new to Russian law – in fact Putin, in one of his desperate power grabs, introduced them nationwide in 2003 – and they have a conviction rate of roughly 80%, right in line with the UK’s own courts.

A high conviction rate is not unheard of, especially in systems that run “special procedure court hearings”, a slightly complex system of what amounts to plea bargaining.

Japan runs a similar system and has a conviction rate of nearly 100%, as does Israel. The US federal courts had a conviction rate of 93% in 2012. Will we be seeing documentaries about that? No.

I’m not a lawyer, I’m in no position to launch a full defense of the Russian legal system – for all I know it is corrupt and/or unfair. But there’s no evidence in this film that shows it to be the case, outside of some anecdotal evidence from one lawyer.

Then they move on to Putin’s “online crackdown”.

Apparently Russia is starting to try to censor the internet. How? We don’t know, they don’t tell us. They cite no laws and name no Acts. It is just anecdote after anecdote. There’s no body to any part of it. We’re told Putin wants more control of the internet, as if this is shockingly tyrannical and when Dimbleby says there is…

… a crackdown on what the security services call “online extremism”.

He thinks his scare quotes show some desperately dystopian alternative universe, but doesn’t seem to know, or at least acknowledge, that WE call it that too, or that our very own dear Theresa May called for a “crackdown in online extremism” in a speech just last year.

Or that she put having an entirely government controlled internet in her manifesto last year.

Or that she passed an act in 2016 which Edward Snowden described as:

The most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy.

Is Panorama asking questions about that? Of course not.

Does the BBC call our government authoritarian? Not once.

Instead they offer just a talking-head, making a scary statement that “thousands” of innocent Russians could be in prison, with again no evidence to back it up at all.

When you actually dig into the numbers they tell a completely different story.

The New York Post, not known for its pro-Russia bias, reported that 233 Russians were convicted of “hate speech” in 2015, “most of them for online activity.”

Meanwhile, in happy bunny funland Britain, 2015 saw 857 people arrested for “offensive” tweets or Facebook posts… in London alone.

It sounds like we’re more “authoritarian” than the Russians on the internet front at least. A fact which takes maybe 30 seconds of research to find.

*

David on… Russia’s Controlled Media

Next David goes to Echo of Moscow Radio to talk to one of the completely non-existent members of the independent media in Russia. She claims that the entire country is actually run by the KGB. As per usual, she produces no evidence for this statement, she just says it. But that’s good enough for David who asks her to “explain how the KGB dominates society”, underlining that the KGB and MI6 are not at all similar:

Explain to our UK viewers, who might think of the KGB as just like our MI5 or MI6… how the KGB dominates society?”

Got that everyone? There’s their spies, and our spies, and they are completely different. This attitude was ridiculous enough to be used as satire in Blackadder, but now is being seriously repeated by one the BBC’s most respected personalities.

Her “explanation” involves simply repeating the same sentiment she already expressed, only in slightly different words, and David is too polite to press for more, or too lazy to be bothered, or too smug to notice. It’s really getting hard to say at this point.

(SIDEBAR: Of course one of the most prominent ways that MI6 and the KGB differ is that the KGB doesn’t exist anymore, whereas MI6 are very much still going.)

It’s at this point the documentary seems to realise the rather confusing contradiction of its own existence. They are there to talk about how autocratic and terrible Russia is, and yet they seem to talk to human rights lawyers, anti-government television hosts and the head of anti-Putin radio stations. If Putin has all dissidents and protestors locked up and/or murdered… how do these people exist?

They get around this in one, short sentence:

By allowing a few independent outlets, a few dissident voices, Putin can claim freedom of expression.

Brilliant logic. Unfailing reason. Yes there’s SOME freedom of speech, but only so Putin can say there’s freedom of speech, it’s not REAL freedom of expression.

It just looks like it.

Much like that old expression:

“If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it’s not really a duck because Putin doesn’t allow ducks. He’s just letting that duck exist so he can pretend he’s got a duck.”

*

The Russian Orthodox Church seems to be a real bugbear of David’s, because fresh from announcing that “there IS free-speech in Russia, it just doesn’t count”, David goes back to talk to a member of the Church… and asks him if he approves of the lack of free speech in Russia. David narrates:

When it comes to political repression, the one place not to look for support is the Orthodox Church.”

This sentence implies we’re about to hear a Church spokesman defending political repression… which is not the case. Instead we see the same bemused Bishop as before, being asked:

You know there’s a lot of criticism of Putin’s encroachment on human rights: People in prison for speaking out against the state, internet communications closed down, the state spying on people’s communications, do you approve of all that?”

Note he’s asking “do you approve of…”, not “is this the case…”. Leading questions predicated upon unproven assumptions have no place in honest discourse… but if you took them out the documentary there would only be 3 or 4 minutes of stock footage of nesting dolls and onion domes.

The bishop, who seems slightly perturbed by the rudeness of the question, evidently wasn’t provided with a script because he doesn’t launch into a fascistic diatribe about values, or verbal attacks on traitors and dissidents… he simply says:

This is your point of view, and we do not always agree. With all due respect.

You can see his Russian politeness straining, but not breaking. And that’s it.

So much for Russia the conservative theocracy.

*

David on… Russians’ Right to Protest

The documentary just gets less coherent and more confusing from here on in. The facts they present never align with the spin they try to put on them. They point out eminently reasonable realities of Russian life, with a weight of sinister implication that defies all reason. (In the trade, we refer to this maneuver as “The Harding”).

The perfect example is the story of a women’s rights campaigner Alena Popova, protesting about the allegations of sexual harassment made against the Russian MP Leonid Slutsky.

We see her standing outside the State Duma with cardboard cut-out of Slutsky. I don’t read Russian, but I can’t imagine the slogans on the cut-out are especially complimentary. She is briefly detained by the police who ask her who she is and what she’s doing… she explains and is released. Then she returns to the Duma, and does her protest unmolested.

All this seems perfectly fine, despite David’s chuntering narration.

This is just one example of brutal oppression of dissent, ever present in Putin’s Russia.

Alena is standing literally right outside the door of the parliament building, with a cut-out of Slutsky covered in protest slogans. She requires no permit to do this under Russian law, which states that solo protests are allowed anywhere at any time without a permit. You do need permission to hold group protests.

By way of comparison, let’s imagine Alena were British, not Russian: If she attempted the same exact protest in the UK… she would not be allowed to. At all. Ever.

Firstly, you would never get to stand within inches of the doors of Parliament without getting halted by armed police. Secondly, you’re not allowed to protest in Parliament Square – even alone – without getting prior permission. This law was passed by Blair’s government in 2006, in order to shift anti-war protester Brian Haw.

At one point a young man approaches David and Alena and asks what’s going on, David’s voice-over claims the young man works for state security, and intones the words with foreboding. We have no way of knowing if this is true, if it even matters. I’m fairly sure a Russian camera crew standing outside the Houses of Parliament would attract the attention of special branch. He asks them two questions and then leaves.

Later, there’s a counter-protest. Four people appear with signs in support of Slutsky. David claims they’re there to cause trouble for Alena, and even implies they are working for the state. A claim which is rather shot-down when the counter-protest group – who support the government – are escorted away by the police because they don’t have permission for their group protest.

The pro-government protesters are gone, the anti-government protester remains. David doesn’t see this as, in any way, challenging his position on government oppression of dissent. He asks Alena:

If they control protest, if they’re against protest, why do they let it happen at all?”

A fantastic question, the only really cogent thing he’s said for the last half an hour. She replies:

Because we have a constitution.”

(SIDEBAR: Britain, of course, has no written constitution at all.)

*

David on… Russian Paranoia

The next episode in this bizarre saga opens with the director of the Levada Centre claiming the Kremlin is “paranoid” about a revolution, referencing the 2012 protests (the aborted “Snow Revolution”). To which David adds some rather incongruous narration:

Putin prepares to go to almost any lengths to prevent a popular uprising against him.”

He never says what these “lengths” are. In fact, we have no idea what the Russian government has done to prevent a Revolution. If anything. But breaking away from the specific facts, which the documentary forces us to do, maybe we should ask a simple question.

Why would the Russian government be paranoid about revolution?

Maybe we should look at other countries that have had “revolutions” recently for an answer to this question.

Ukraine is a disaster. Libya is possibly the only country in the world worse off than Ukraine and the only reason Syria isn’t just as bad those two is that Russia stepped in to help. David talks about revolutions as if they are organic, almost accidental, occurrences. But we all know that’s not true, we’ve all seen “Colour Revolutions” be fomented by the Western powers to overthrow governments that the USA has deemed to not have “American interests” at heart.

“Revolutions”, in recent years, are Imperial acts of aggression carried out by proxy armies with the aim of removing an “enemy” of the West. And they have left nothing in their wake but blood and destruction. The Kremlin has every right to be concerned about possible Western attempts at a coup against their government. Such a move could destroy everything they have built.

Do you think a Western-backed coup government will keep up free school meals and medals for motherhood? Do they have a constitutional right to protest in Libya right now? How about the birthrate vs death rate in Syria, is that going up?

Shouldn’t all governments fear revolution and hope for stability?

How would David feel about a revolution in Britain? Would it be welcomed? Would Theresa May like seeing violent unrest in the streets of London? Or being replaced by a Russian-backed, unelected leader?

Despite the chaos that has been left in the wake of “revolutions” the world over in recent years, the documentary gives no credence to Russian fears. Russia is never “afraid”, and always “paranoid”.

David talks to an Sergei Markov, a “political consultant who has worked with Putin”. We have no way of knowing if this is true, and this being Panorama taking it in faith is an unearned act of trust, but let’s assume that they’re telling the truth.

Markov highlights that Russia has good reason to fear Western aggression. Pointing out, reasonably enough, that no Russian soldier has ever set foot on British soil in the name of conquest, whereas Britain has invaded Russia every several times since the 19th Century:

Now, you are preparing to invade Russian territory again, to establish your control of Russian political, social and economic constitution, for us it is absolutely clear.”

We are encouraged to see Markov as a crazy-eyed lunatic, and David’s response is to laugh in his face:

You don’t seriously think an invasion of Russia is planned by the West? I mean, you’ll have me laughing in a moment.”

A rather patronising rebuttal, that would hold more water if Russia weren’t practically encircled by NATO airbases. Or if the US hadn’t unilaterally withdrawn from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002. Or if they hadn’t positioned their missile defense shield in Eastern Europe under clearly false pretences, granting them theoretical first-strike capability.

David doesn’t mention these facts.

Just as he doesn’t go into any recent history of Western military interventions. How America has, in the last 20 years alone, carried out coups in Venezuela, Ukraine and Honduras. Or how, when covert means did not work, they simply declared all out war in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.

Any impartial viewing of world history – especially recent history – would explain every country in the world having a fear of falling into NATO’s crosshairs.

Rather than acknowledging this, the documentary remains resolutely in its own little world. Insisting, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, that Russia has nothing to fear from the West.

*

David on… Russia’s “Orchestrated” Democracy

Fresh from telling us that Putin’s Russia is a “paranoid place”, where the leader with 80% approval is constantly worried about revolution and is prepared to go any lengths to stop it – even so far as having laws regulating protests that are almost identical to our own – David goes to talk to all the young people about their views on Putin.

They all like him, apparently:

One of the most fascinating aspects of today’s Russia, is that the under 25s, who might be expected to rebel, are Putin’s strongest supporters.

He’s talking to a group called Set (Russian for Network), a collection of “young artists, writers and designers” who consider Putin a role-model. David asks them a series of questions.

What do you like about Putin?

One of the young men says that before Putin it was “uncomfortable”, even “shameful”, to be associated with Russia. David doesn’t ask a follow-up question, putting paid to his earlier claims about wanting to know what Russians “really think” and staying true to the programme’s aim of never, ever mentioning the 1990s. Instead he skips back to leading questions based on false assumptions:

You feel happy with one person controlling the whole country?

We don’t know what they say to that, because it cuts off before anyone answers.

Do you agree that he’s quite ruthless when it comes to opposition?

They say they don’t agree. In fact they say quite the opposite. Which cues in a snide narration:

This generation of Russians are internet savvy, globally connected, but they prefer Putin’s authoritarian rule to democracy.

None of the people on camera ever express this opinion. Which makes this one of the most egregious lies in the whole 58 minutes. To appreciate what a statement that is, you really need to watch the film.

None of these young people “prefer authoritarianism to democracy”, they make it quite clear – in their opinion, they live in a democracy. Is there an effort to understand their position? None whatsoever. Instead we get treated to the head of the Levada Centre (again), this time dismissing all the young people who like Putin as being either stupid or brainwashed:

They are very different to Western youth, their minds were formed at the same time Putin’s regime was established, and for them the rhetoric of a great power is a very important part of their collective identity.

This is, as far as we know, another unsupported statement. Not one of the half-dozen young people David talked to said anything about Russia being a great power. Not one thing. They talked about Putin personally being relatable and they talked about improving conditions from the Yeltsin era.

When confronted with Dimbleby asking yet another offensively phrased question…

People in Britain look at Russia and say “this is a powerful autocrat who stops opposition, prevents anyone, if necessary puts them in jail to stop them opposing him” is that not how you see it?

… one young man, far from claiming to “prefer authoritarian rule” or praising the “rhetoric of a great power”, launches into a defense of Russian democracy. Pointing out the sheer number of different political parties (48), and that they had 8 different Presidential candidates running against Putin.

David isn’t listening. He’s nailed his colours to the mast on this one, Russia isn’t a democracy. It doesn’t matter how popular the leader is. It doesn’t matter how many elections they have, how many candidates are on the ballots, or how much public support they have. Russia is NOT a democracy, because David says so.

The film even references Navalny as “Putin’s biggest political opponent”, without mentioning that his party has ZERO seats in the Duma, and that he polls at less than 2% public support. Dimbleby doesn’t know these numbers, because his “researchers” either didn’t look them up, or pretended not to know them. Instead David solemnly declares:

Putin had him convicted of fraud.

Not “he was found guilty”, no, “Putin HAD him convicted”. Is there evidence produced that shows Navalny was framed? Nope. Is there evidence produced that shows any corruption on behalf of the judiciary? None. Is there any mention of Navalny being a right-wing ultra-nationalist who referred to Caucasians as “cockroaches”? Not even a little.

“Russia isn’t a democracy”, and “Putin’s main political opponent” is an unpopular convicted criminal with a history of racism, who was forbidden by the constitution from running in a Presidential election in which he would have come ninth.

Cut to:- Skyline of Moscow. Night. Synthy music plays, and the David lets fly with this beauty:

As many autocrats have shown, just holding an election doesn’t make a democracy.”

Boom. Just as a free press doesn’t mean Russia has freedom of expression, elections don’t mean they are a democracy. The documentary is slowly becoming less an attack on Putin and Russia, than an attack on the English language, and indeed logic itself.

David doesn’t tell us what DOES make a democracy, but it certainly isn’t elections. Following this logic, of course, you could have a democracy without elections. And if that sounds absurd, then remember that Margaret Thatcher praised Pinochet for bringing “democratic order” to Chile.

Elections that return the “wrong” result? They aren’t democratic. Rounding up dissidents in soccer stadiums and gunning them down? That is democratic.

“Democracy” means whatever the establishment wants it to mean.

Putin uses carefully orchestrated elections to legitimise his rule.”

Who “orchestrates” the elections? How do they do it? How does David know this? We’re not told. We’re now 40 minutes in, and we’ve yet to have any single accusation or anecdote backed up with anything even approaching evidence. We’re not even provided basic logical reason.

Perhaps more pressing is: Why would a President with 80% popularity NEED to “orchestrate” elections?

They never explain.

*

David on… Russia’s “small” economy

David’s next port-of-call on his tour of Bizzarro World is the Russian economy. Having been told that the Russian economy is “struggling” we get some more stock footage – this time of factories and oil wells – with David narrating:

Russia is one of the largest countries on Earth, with a population of 144 million, but its economy is much smaller – not even two-thirds the size of Britain, and even smaller than Italy.”

There’s a lot to unpack here.

First, it’s absolutely hilarious that dear little David can’t even bring himself to acknowledge the simple fact that Russia is not “one of the largest countries on Earth”, it is the largest. It’s nearly double the size of China. It’s European portion is the largest country in Europe, its Asian portion is the largest country in Asia and if you cut it evenly in half the two new countries would still be 4th and 5th largest countries in the world.

Russia is very big.

Nobody would ever dispute that, so why not just say it? It goes to show the pettiness of the mindset behind this programme. They simply cannot give Russia any credit, even so far as acknowledging its size.

Second, the language is again very deceptive. When he says “much smaller than Britain” and “EVEN smaller than Italy”, he’s painting a picture of small economy. He doesn’t mention that the UK has the 4th largest economy in the world, and Italy the 7th. Russia is 10th, just behind Canada. He also doesn’t mention that those figures don’t include the economy of Crimea, which the World Bank refuses to count as Russian.

Nobody would seriously claim that the 10th biggest economy in the world is “small”.

David sits down with Russia’s former deputy-Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich who says, when asked about the size of Russia’s economy:

If you look at other European economies, they have a long tradition of private entrepreneurship, we started this tradition only in the 1990s and need to accumulate experience.”

It’s a fair point, considering they’ve only been capitalist for 28 years or so, the 10th biggest economy in the world isn’t bad at all. David is unmoved. We don’t see his answer to that point, I would suggest because he couldn’t make one.

Instead he changes the subject, in voice-over, to corruption. Calling it a “tradition” in Russia.

He talks to Vladimir Pozner, a member of the allegedly “strictly controlled” Russian media, who apparently feels free to say corruption is endemic, giving yet more anecdotal evidence. This time about entirely hypothetical traffic policeman being bribed. A (strictly controlled?) anti-corruption campaigner points at a flat and says a politician lives there and shouldn’t be able to afford it. And David mentions an (unnamed) survey which ranks Russia 135th in the world in terms of corruption.

Thus is it established that Russia has a terrible corruption problem.

At this point the documentary devolves into a series of complete lies. Not mistakes, not exaggerations, lies. Lies so simple and so easy to refute with only a few google searches, that we’ll just go ahead and work through them one at a time:

Corruption is widespread, according to one survey it’s one of the worst countries in the world – it ranks 135 out of 180.”

He’s almost certainly referring to the famous “corruption perception index”, which is NOT a measure of corruption, but a measure of how corrupt some (unnamed) people THINK something MIGHT BE. It is a nonsense stat, discussed in more detail here.

“Russia has one of the most unequal economies in the world…. 20 million people live in poverty.”

This is technically true, there are 20 million people living under the poverty line in Russia, or 13.8% of the population. Before the sanctions it was less than 12%.

In the US, there are 45 million people living under the poverty line, or 13.8% of the population.

In the UK, there are 14 million people living under the poverty line, or 20.6% of the population.

Of course, where these numbers differ is that Russia’s number is coming down from 35%, and ours is going up. The makers of this programme know this, because the numbers were published on the BBC’s own website.

Putin’s failure to diversify the economy means that half the Russian budget comes from oil and gas, so when the price of oil fell after the annexation of Crimea, Russia was plunged into crisis.”

The price of oil did not “fall”, it was deliberately sabotaged by the gulf monarchies flooding the market. This was done to try to hurt the Russian economy, we can tell David knows this because he references the “annexation of Crimea” as the cause, he just doesn’t explain the details.

Putin’s aggressive foreign policy, along with the West’s sanctions, made the situation worse.”

Putin’s foreign policy – “aggressive” or otherwise – has no bearing on the Russian economy. This is all about the sanctions. Sanctions imposed by the West are not any reflection on the economic competence of the Russian government, especially when they are put in place over entirely false accusations, such as the Skripal poisoning or “hacking” the US Presidential election.

It is one of the oldest tricks in the US Imperial playbook, create a pretext for action against a country which they see as an “enemy”. Use this pretext to sanction a country with the aim of crippling their economy, and then use the fact the economy is struggling to criticise the government of the target country. The US has been doing it to Cuba and North Korea for decades, to Venezuela for years and Russia since 2014.

The deliberate destruction of their economy by powers beyond their control has no bearing on the competence or corruption of the Russian government.

In fact, by any standards, the Russian government under both Putin and Medvedev has been exceptionally competent.

… this list could go on and on.

Russian GDP under Yeltsin, Putin and Medvedev

Russia’s economy – under both Putin and Medvedev – has gone largely in the right direction.Of course, part of that is that there was only one direction to go.

All of this comes back to the 1990s. When Russia, as a country, was possibly within only months of ceasing to exist, collapsing into Balkanisation and chaos.

Average salary in Russia since 1998

Putin’s government prevented that, and turned things around for ordinary Russians in a quasi-miraculous fashion. That is why 80% of Russians support the man.

It’s the most basic rule of governance, but its one we in the West are encouraged to ignore – the first priority of government is to make the country better. Do that, and the people will support you.

To discuss the Russian economy, or the living standards of Russian people, or popularity of Putin, without acknowledging these facts, is just incredibly dishonest. Sickeningly so.

*

Conclusion

This is a bad documentary. It’s not simply ethically bankrupt, it’s also badly made. It’s badly paced, badly edited and incoherent. It’s so dedicated to its agenda that it sacrifices all else.

There is a relentless war being waged here, not just at the BBC and not just against Russia, but throughout the Western world… and against reality itself.

Consider the implications of this situation: One of the largest media organizations in the world spent license fee-payers money to send a man half-way around the globe, to convince their captive audience of tax-payers that elections don’t equal democracy, that independent media doesn’t equal free speech and that a $15bn trade surplus means your economy is struggling.

It recycles lies that have become terribly dull to refute, so must be simply exhausting to repeat. It routinely accidentally steps on its own argument, realises it has done so, and then performs logical gymnastics to try to prove it knows what it’s talking about. It makes no sense, and you can tell that they know it.

The list of contradictions and unanswered questions goes on and on, creating a world that cannot exist under the laws of reason. We’re told that Putin is popular, but that people are forced to vote for him. We’re told by Russian independent media organizations, critical of the government, that Russia has no independent media organizations critical of the government, and we’re told by a protester standing right outside the Russian parliament, that protests are practically illegal.

All of this irrationality combines to put together a patchwork-Picasso portrait of “Vladimir Putin”, the corrupt communist idealist, KGB hardliner and devout christian ideologue, who forces all the devoted members of his cult of personality to vote for him in elections he rigs anyway. A man who stole all the money he also spent on rebuilding Russia’s military, schools and hospitals, is best-buddies with all the oligarchs he sent to jail for tax evasion, and who – despite the size of the country – has “only” got the 10th biggest economy in the world.

It’s a documentary made by people at war with themselves, unable to understand that their delusions are absurd and incomprehensible to those of us struggling to live a reality-based life.

There’s desperation in this film, a hysterical repetition of proven lies and shrill fake news, screamed out by people who feel they’re losing control of the narrative.

They don’t know what they think except that Russia is bad and Putin is worse, they don’t know why they think it except that they’ve got to because they were told to, and they’re aghast. Unable to understand why no one’s listening when they’re making so much sense!

This documentary, like so much of the MSM’s recent output, is a wail of outrage at a world that refuses to listen to their nonsense. As well-reasoned as a toddler’s tantrum, as well sourced as “Trevor from the pub” and as well researched as toilet stall graffiti. A limping, heaving, slime-ridden pile of self-defeating, self-contradictory garbage that has no place in people’s hearts, minds or homes.

And I watched it five times to write this.

I need a shower.

Western Media Frames and Filters: The Worthy and the Unworthy Victims

Nour Rida 

30-04-2018 | 07:50

Killing huge numbers of innocent civilians is called “mass murder”, but only when mainstream media chose to call it so. Four years of war in Yemen show no sign of yielding – especially as Saudi-led coalition air attacks continue on a daily basis. In the past week, these attacks have killed at least 45 people including wedding party guests, women and children.
 
Yemen

The war in Yemen has created devastation unseen before in the country’s long history of turmoil. Thousands have been killed and millions displaced, starved, and disappeared in what the UN has described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis since World War II. It’s not just bombs, bullets and arms that threaten Yemen’s children, women and men. The Saudi-led war also kills by stealth and as the West’s mainstream media turns a blind eye to the facts, or plays a “make them look impartial” game through displaying a certain discourse. Economic strangulation is being used by the Saudi-led coalition as a weapon of war, targeting jobs, infrastructure, food markets and the provision of basic services. Almost two-thirds of the population needs emergency support. The food system is collapsing, pushing the country to the brink of famine. Over 400,000 children are at imminent risk of starvation. This is one scenario that is worth a lot of attention on the international arena but is kept away from the limelight. 

Another deadly scenario takes place also in West Asia, or the so-called Middle East; that is the war on Syria. The same game of creating a “chosen narrative” or “setting a blind eye” is played by Western politicians and the media machine alike. 

On 7 April 2018, reports emerged from the opposition-held city of Douma east of the Syrian capital Damascus that scores of civilians had been killed and hundreds injured in a chemical attack. Soon Trump accused the Assad government of carrying out the attack, and threatening that soon, or maybe not so soon he will teach the “monster” a lesson. 

Since the first time the West accused the Syrian government of conducting a chemical attack in 2013, several reports have been issued by American historian and investigative journalist Gareth Porter, United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq Scott Ritter, Veteran prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, American investigative journalist and political writer Seymour Hersh, and MIT’s Theodore Postol based upon field research and providing facts that prove it could not have been the Syrian government behind the attack. However, these reports were not among the “chosen” information that is circulated across western media outlets. 

On April 7, the US, France and the UK were quick to respond to the alleged attack and as former Middle East correspondent for ABC News Charles Glass described it, “it was a case of execution before trial”.

Glass said there has been great inconsistency in Western policies on Syria, pointing out that the US favored the use of chemical weapons by Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war, causing the deaths of thousands of Iranian soldiers. 

“The British, the French and the Americans have all been involved by pro
xy; they’ve all been involved in supplying weapons to the opposition groups in Syria. They’ve been involved in training them in southeast Turkey and Jordan and in facilitating their passage in and out of Syria. This is indisputable.” He noted.
In 2016, Saudi Arabia admitted that it used UK-manufactured cluster bombs in its war on Yemen. Prior to the revelation, Britain denied their cluster munitions were being used by the Saudi-led coalition.

In this context, Professor of American Studies at Tehran University, Dr. Zeinab Qassemi Tari told al-Ahed news that the matter reminds her of Hermana and Chomsky’s notion of worthy and unworthy victims:
“the media frames and filters one victim as worthy and the other as unworthy and this becomes the basis of sustained propaganda campaigns.” 

To overtly explain the notion a bit more; Worthy victims are the ones who merit lavish attention and concern, are those whose fate can be attributed to someone else, preferably an official enemy. Unworthy victims, whose fate is ignored or denied, are those for whose suffering or slaughter we are responsible. The criterion holds remarkably closely, past and present.

Dr. Qassemi Tari pointed out that “the atrocity committed against the Yemeni civilian population on a large scale which has created a catastrophic situation does not get a comparable attention to that of Syria.” 

“To give but one example, based on a UNICEF report every 10 minutes at least one child out of five dies out of deprivation and nearly half of all children are chronically malnourished. Not to mention the siege and the mass starvation of the majority of the Yemeni population.”

She notes that when the war in Yemen is covered, the media blames the Houthis (often unjustly referred to as Shia Iran proxy); because such a narrative reduces the complex political situation in Yemen, which began with the reinstating of Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi to an alleged Shia/Sunni strife. 

According to the university professor and political analyst, “the media overlooks the other side of the story which is the Saudi’s closure of land, air and sea to cut desperately needed food, and medicine and the backing of the United States and its Arab dictatorships.” 

She underscores that interestingly, the power of the “western media” (often associated with “objectivity”) as opposed to state-run media of the so-called “third world countries” is so strong that, Noam Chomsky, also calls for a US military Intervention in Syria.

There is just a series of double standards in the Western media in particular over Yemen and Syria during our time. The Syria attack reveals the hypocrisy of the West. This West relies on unverified claims to punish Syria while it fuels the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen despite documented abuses. 

Several activists and journalists among which is Neil Clark state that Western media refuses to reflect the real situation in the war-stricken country. Yemen is not being mentioned by Sky News or BBC very much and there is a terrible lack of objectivity in reporting by BBC and Sky News, when it comes to the Saudi crimes against the Yemeni people. 

Theresa May and Donald Trump are supporters of Saudi Arabia, assisting its genocide of the people of Yemen. The US and Britain equip the Saudis with arms to continue its war against Yemen, and fund and arm terrorist Wahhabi groups in Syria to continue their violence across the country. However, they remain silent on the Israeli daily perpetrations in Occupied Palestine, its siege on the Gaza Strip, the killing of children and women almost on daily basis. They remained silent while Israel launched its war against Lebanon in 2006 when it haphazardly bombed civilians and deployed cluster bombs and white phosphorus. Today also, it is not surprising to see that these Western governments along with mainstream media remain silent over the tragedy in Yemen and Syria, and bring their own version to the spotlight. 

Western intervention in the region has only served in destabilizing it, just like Western media has created a mainstream narrative that “victimizes” some and “evilizes” others by selection. 
Source: Al-Ahed 

%d bloggers like this: