British Politics

Stop The War: Parroting The Arguments Of A Thuggish Putin

The premier antiwar movement in Britain, the Stop the War Coalition, are in a bit of a bind.

They owe their existence to campaigning against the invasion of Iraq. They actively campaign on the Middle East and Afghanistan.

Yet for years they were silent on Assad’s slaughter of Syrian civilians. For the first years of the Assad dictatorship campaign of mass murder not a word of criticism was heard from Britain’s Stop the War Coalition.

They were always very quick to criticise British and US governments, but could barely mumble a single scornful word against Assad.

putin2a

Nevertheless, this time around they have learnt their lesson.

So instead of shuffling their feet and talking about anything else they have issued a statement on the crisis in Ukraine and Russia’s military involvement in the Crimea.

It is a pitiful piece, that could have been written by one of Putin’s trusted advisers. It is basically soft propaganda for the Russian regime, full of disjointed arguments and non sequiturs

The Economist has thankfully fisked it:

8) The historical divisions within Ukraine are complex and difficult to overcome. But it is clear that many Russian speakers, there and in the Crimea, do not oppose Russia. These countries have the right to independence, but the nature of that independence is clearly highly contested. There is also the reality of potential civil war between east and west Ukraine. The very deep divisions will only be exacerbated by war.

This comment is perhaps the easiest to rebut: Ms German is mistaking the Ukrainian protest movement for the aggressors in the current crisis. The new government in no way threatens Russian-speakers in the Crimea. Moscow, not Kiev, is the preeminent belligerent thus far.

9) Those who demand anti-war activity here in Britain against Russia are ignoring the history and the present reality in Ukraine and Crimea. The B52 liberals only oppose wars when their own rulers do so, and support the ones carried out by our governments. The job of any anti-war movement is to oppose its own government’s role in these wars, and to explain what that government and its allies are up to.

Ms German does not enlighten us on how, precisely, the British government is guilty of “war” against Ukraine or Russia. She also fails to explain why the “job” of an “anti-war” movement is to attack its own passive government while parroting the arguments of a thuggish, illiberal power threatening its neighbour with invasion.

10) The crisis in Ukraine has much to do with the situation in Syria, where major powers are intervening in the civil war. The defeat for intervention last year has infuriated the neocons. They are determined to start new wars. After the US failures in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, the neocons are looking for a defeat of Russia over Ukraine, and by extension, China too. The situation is developing into a new cold war. The rivalry between the west and Russia threatens to explode into a much larger war than has been seen for many years.

Again, Ms German conveniently ignores interventions in Syria by those “major powers” that she finds more palatable than the US or Britain—Iran and Russia. That, and her comment about China, suggests a preference for illiberal non-Western powers over liberal Western ones. It is an oddly one-sided comparison: she delights in listing Western flaws (real and imagined) while unquestioningly accepting anti-Western dogma. For one who leads an organisation committed to “stopping the war”, it is a fatal error.”

Update 1:I have commented on Russia’s role in Syria before.

Refugees From Assad’s Campaign of Murder

The level of ambivalence found in the West towards the mass death of Syrian civilians is truly grotesque.

In March 2014 it will be the three year anniversary of the conflict, which started with peaceful protests and continues with the Syrian government dropping barrel bombs.

Nearly three whole years of slaughter. A point to ponder.

This map shows only one aspect of the conflict, mass refugees.

HIU_syria1

We need to be under no illusion that the cause of suffering in Syria is placed squarely at the feet of the Assad government and their allies, Russia, China and Iran. The latter countries have fuelled the conflict from the outset and propped up Syria’s murderous dictatorship.

What I find most galling in the West is the denial of basic facts about the Assad regime. Westerners seem to have an infinite amount of concern about the Middle East until it affects real people.

Hussein Ibish, one of the most intelligent Middle East commentators, re-enforces that point by asking “Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk are being starved to death by the Syrian regime. Does anyone care?”

Please do read it:

“There isn’t much the Palestinian people haven’t suffered. But the use of enforced starvation against them by the Syrian dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad at the Yarmouk refugee camp breaks new ground in cruelty. Hundreds are said to be facing imminent death by starvation, lack of water and medical care, and the loss, for almost a year now, of all heat and electricity.

The crucial thing is not simply that Assad and his allies – Iran, Hezbollah, and Russia – must be held fully and completely responsible for this outrage. It must also be noted that the international community and the Arab world are not doing enough to respond to it, practically or politically. They have done virtually nothing as Yarmouk’s pre-war population of 250,000 has shrunk in the past three years to 18,000 famished, cowering, and shivering souls.

Those who still worship at the altar of the false idol of “resistance” and see Assad, Iran, Hezbollah, and their allies as the embodiment of the Arab cause are not simply disingenuous or delusional propagandists. Their thinking – not even, but especially, if it is sincere – is profoundly sick.”

I have covered Syria elsewhere.

On Syria

Syria and the West are intimate friends. For years Western leaders courted Bashar Assad, arguing he was a moderate and a vehicle of change. Vogue even produced a propaganda edition on the Assad family. Elsewhere, Russia and China continued to support and supplied buckets of armaments to the Syrian dictatorship or shuffle their feet at the UN.

queenAssad1a With a few notable exceptions, many Western activists simply coughed and looked the other way when the various Assads committed atrocities, as Galloway argued in June 2011:

“The BBC, Galloway complained, is denouncing Syria for using Apache helicopters to attack its own people. “I’ve never understood,” said Galloway, “why it is worse to kill your own people than other people’s people.” The BBC had cheered a week or 10 days earlier for Apache helicopters used by Britain to kill Libyans. The problem with Syria, Galloway said, is not that it’s run by the latest Adolf Hitler of the month, but that it harbors Palestinian leadership, supports Lebanese national resistance, and refused to participate in the attack on Iraq.” [My emphasis.]

That was good enough for them, deliberately forgetting Assad’s unsavoury allies.

Yet there is a foul stench that pervades any discussion on Syria, the inability to stop a dictator from openly murdering civilians for 2½ years. The West in terms of political leaders and supposed “activists” have given this smiling dictator an easy time. Complacency has rules from March 2011 onwards, with Westerners largely hoping that the slaughter in Syria would go away, all by itself.  MIDAEST SYRIA UK

Syria is not far from Europe. A mere 300 miles from Cyprus. A relatively quick trip from Italy, under three hours in a plane. Just over 4½ hours from London but it could as well be a world away, whilst the Assad regime carried on torture and murder, under Russia and China’s protection and it slipped down the media priorities.

Leaving aside the question of intervention for the moment, the inability of Westerners to inform themselves on the nature of the Assad dictatorship is exceedingly troubling. From 1963 coup d’etat to the later one in 1970 when Hafez Assad took power, civil rights were never on the agenda. However, Western Human Rights organisations have covered abuses over the years and those with access to the Internet have no excuse.

Human Rights Watch reports on Syria: 1997, 2000,2002,2010,2013.

Amnesty International reports on Syria: 1995, 2000, 2007, 2011, 2012.

(more…)

Iain Duncan Smith Caught Lying By The Economist

Politicians do not like being told that they lie.

The English language hides the necessary directness beneath such wording as disingenuous, economical with the truth or actualité. But even the Economist, frequently feriously supportitive of the Tories, has conceded that Iain Duncan Smith is a liar, in a roundabout fashion:

”And this is the only the latest in a series of questionable press releases. Earlier this month, Mr Duncan Smith claimed that the benefits cap had encouraged 8,000 people to get jobs. Yet as Jonathan Portes, the director of the National Institute for Economics and Social Research pointed out, the Department for Work and Pensions has never made an estimate of the behavioural effects of the benefit cap. At best, Mr Duncan Smith’s figures simply showed that 8,000 people who were to be affected had got jobs. Perhaps some did because of the benefits cap—but we have no idea.

Even before that, there was the matter of 878,000 people who apparently dropped their claims for disability benefits when faced with a doctors test over the past four years, as the old Incapacity Benefit system was replaced with the new Employment and Support Allowance. Again, this figure was absurd. It took no account of the churn—the number of people who come off benefits each month anyway. The most glaring error was that the figures completely ignored the fact that a lot of Incapacity Benefit and ESA claims are short-term—and so a lot of claimants simply got better before facing the test.

All of these are technical, even wonkish objections. “Yes, we twisted the statistics a little”, I can hear a hypothetical Conservative MP saying, “but so does Labour, and the fundamental truth is that the benefits system costs too much and is need of reform.”

Well, quite. The welfare system does indeed need reform. But the whole point about government statistics is that they are meant to be at least sort of objective. Ministers can quote the ones which support their case—but they shouldn’t manipulate them and distort them to tell stories that aren’t actually true. There is plenty of evidence to support welfare reform without resorting to such disgraceful abuse of numbers.

But the problem is, they get away with it—they have done for a long time. Even before the election, Chris Grayling, then the shadow home secretary, was alleging that gun crime was soaring, using distorted data to prove his point. In fact, gun crime began its precipitous decline under Labour. Similarly, much of David Cameron’s “Broken Britain” rhetoric ignored—or denied—dramatic and unexpected improvements in social indicators. “[My emphasis.]

The Economist is too polite. I blame lying Tories, myself.

Douglas Murray, The English Defence League And The Jewish Chronicle

That is Douglas Murray umming and ahing when asked about supporting the EDL. His inability to criticise the Far Right thugs in the EDL indicates something deeply troubling about his sentiments.

In that wider context, I was exceedingly disappointed to see this week that the Jewish Chronicle ran an article by this Hard Right commentator. I was even more disturbed to see that they allowed Murray to attack an anti-racist campaign, Tell MAMA. I am at a loss as to understand why such an editorial error took place and why the JC would publish such scurrilous nonsense.

Murray On The English Defence League

I had hoped that, whoever commissioned Murray, would know the questionable nature of his views, particularly concerning the English Defence League. It cannot have been beyond the JC to research Murray’s slippery outlook. In the above video, Murray is all over the place, rather than give a straight answer we hear “just don’t know…it is complex…benefit of the doubt… take enormous care…”. Douglas Murray is unable or unwilling to come out unequivocally against the neofascists in the EDL.

Murray could not answer, in any satisfactory way, the simple question “Should we support the EDL?”

I find that exceedingly troubling, as should anyone opposed to racism and neofascism. More importantly, the JC must answer the question, do they share Murray’s ambiguity towards the EDL? Or was this just an editorial oversight?

But, if the JC’s editorial staff are as ill-informed about the nature of the English Defence League as Murray clearly is, then this video of EDL supporters should help clear up the matter.

We should not forget the violent criminality connected to English Defence League members and supporters. Or their recent threats to Andrew Neil.

The CST and Tell MAMA

This is the Community Security Trust commenting on Tell MAMA‘s first annual report:

“The Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks) group, led by Fiyaz Mughal of Faith Matters, has issued its first annual report on anti-Muslim hate crimes.

Tell MAMA’s findings include the following:

• 632 anti-Muslim hate incidents reported March 2012-March 2013
• Muslim women are the victims in 58% of all incidents
• Victims range from a five-year-old child to an 89-year-old pensioner,
• 74% of incidents take place on-line,
• 6% of incidents involve attacks on mosques/property,
• 5% of victims are white converts to Islam,
• 75% of perpetrators are male,
• Far Right BNP/EDL supporters linked to over half (54%) of all cases,
• 23 arrests, 18 prosecutions (cases pending),
• Trend of rising Islamophobia, recorded by YouGov figures (7 March)

CST is proud to have helped Tell MAMA to establish and professionalise itself. BBC News carries a good summary of the report. This includes CST’s public support:

CST is glad that our work countering anti-Semitism has helped Tell Mama provide the Muslim community with a proper mechanism for reporting and understanding anti-Muslim hate crimes.

It has taken CST nearly 30 years of focus and professionalism to get to where we are today, so what Tell Mama has achieved in just one year is very impressive.

We wish Tell Mama every success for the future; and if our joint co-operation helps break down barriers between British Muslims and Jews, then all the better.”[My emphasis.]

Murray’s Corrosive Views

Marko Attila Hoare provides a fair summary of Murray’s dubious political connections and attitudes. Murray was deemed even too toxic and Right Wing for the Conservative Party, Paul Goodman: Why the Conservative frontbench broke off relations with Douglas Murray – and what happened afterwards.

Lessons Of The Past

I do hope that the JC editorial staff reflect on their mistake of allowing Douglas Murray to soil the Jewish Chronicle and do not repeat this grave error, ever. We should have learnt the lessons of the 1930s. The JC should be promoting antiracist campaigns, not using pundits with an axe to grind to attack them. The JC must understand the dire need of combating racism faced by all ethnic minorities.

Next time, I would hope that the JC would be wise enough to ask the CST about Tell MAMA, and not those on the political fringes of the Hard Right.

PS: I am getting some abusive and aggressive comments from Far Righters in the moderation queue. New readers should make an effort to read, digest and familiarise themselves with the comments policy on this blog.

Update 1: Jessica Elgot reminds us, Women Targeted In Anti-Muslim Attacks, More Than Half By Far Right Groups.

Update 2: Last year Matthew Goodwin pointed out, Far Right Violence: More Needs to be Done.

Update 3: Shiraz Maher puts many fine arguments:

“In recent weeks, a Muslim group called Tell Mama has come in for severe and unfair criticism. Modelled on CST, Tell Mama has been assisted by it in setting up to monitor anti-Muslim sentiment. The group was subjected to a ferocious and unfounded assault by the Sunday Telegraph who accused it of “scaremongering” and artificially inflating the level of hostility directed towards Muslims following Rigby’s murder.

Tell Mama is new and, though gauche in many respects, it is badly needed. It was established by Fiyaz Mughal, who led the “Muslims Against antisemitism” campaign. Unlike most Muslim groups, Tell Mama also records intra-Muslim sectarian attacks. More importantly, it replaces the Muslim Safety Forum, an extremist group dominated by Islamists who support Hamas.

It is undeserving of the insidious claims levelled against it. British Jews already know the outstanding contribution CST makes to their community and will recognise the growing need for Muslims to have a similar organisation. This is why CST has offered Tell Mama extensive support.”

Update 4: In 2009 James Brandon provided background to Murray’s mindset:

“Finally, there is, of course, Douglas Murray, “Britain’s only neoconservative”, who has often failed to distinguish Islam from Islamism. In just one speech, for example, Murray referred to the “violence, intimidation and thuggery of Islam” and “the problem of Islam”. Like Steyn, Murray has also represented Muslims as a collective threat, referring ominously to the “demographic time-bomb which will soon see a number of our largest cities fall to Muslim majorities”. He concluded that “conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board” – a phrase that could easily be interpreted as a call for the collective punishment of Muslims.”

Update 5: Matthew Feldman hit the nail on the head, Centre-right columnists are legitimising the EDL.

Update 6: This is helpful in understanding the data, FAQ’s to the Teesside University Report Launch on TELL MAMA Data.

Update 7: This 1997 PDF summary from the Runnymede Trust is useful, Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All. See the closed and open views of Islam, which is exceedingly relevant in this instance.

Update 8: This scholarly report is a fine antidote to the Hard Right’s dismissal of anti-Muslim racism, Anti-Muslim Hate Crime & the Far Right by Prof. Nigel Copsey, Dr Janet Dack, Mark Littler & Dr Matthew Feldman.

Update 9: A handy Google map detailing recent attacks on mosques.

Update 10: This week, BBC Question Time has chosen Murray as one of their panelists. Expect the usual torrent from him.

Update 11: Rachel Shabi makes many strong arguments:

“t’s a symptom of the febrile atmosphere around Islam, this ridiculous furore over a timeless spiritual occurrence across the Muslim world. But it obviously has a much more serious and troubling context. In late June a home-made bomb was found at a mosque in Walsall, from which 150 people were evacuated. Police are also investigating arson attacks a few weeks earlier on an Islamic centre in north London and a mosque in Grimsby, which was targeted with petrol bombs as worshippers prayed inside. Last Sunday a suspicious package was destroyed at a mosque in Liverpool, and a Muslim cemetery in Newport, south Wales was desecrated with swastikas. And last Wednesday saw the spraying of yet more Nazi symbols on a mosque in Redditch, Worcestershire.

These are just a few of more than a dozen recent racist attacks on mosques. And that’s before we get to the death threats, taunts and spitting; the forced hijab removing; and the depositing of pig heads outside Muslim homes. Such incidents are believed to be widely under-reported – although the monitoring group Tell Mama UK says there were 212 hate incidents in the week following Lee Rigby’s murder in Woolwich

And yet, rather than recognise how alarming and frightening this vicious spike in anti-Muslim attacks truly is, sections of the British media have been engaged in trying to underplay it. When Tell Mama UK reported this rise in attacks after Woolwich, the Telegraph and the Daily Mail both pushed out reports suggesting fakery.”

Update 12: Mehdi Hasan takes on a petty Spectator contributor: Douglas Murray, the EDL, Dodgy Videos and Me.

Update 13: Douglas Murray’s fans extend across the Atlantic, the ill named American Thinker comes to his aid in a rambling piece:

“Like so many other people, I found Mehdi Hasan’s arrogant and smug words repulsive. (Hasan is arrogant and smug most of the time. What do you expect from a public schoolboy?) But they didn’t repulse me half as much as his later claims that all his critics took his words ‘out of context’! Ah! That old Muslim chestnut — out of context. You know, as in all the negative and violent passages in the Koran always being cited ‘out of context’. That’s strange. Have you noticed that the positive Koranic passages (of which there are few) are always quoted in context? To be accurate, Muslims never mention the ‘necessary context’ required for any citation of the positive passages.”

My guess is that American Thinker has some, er, issues with Muslims in general and is probably soft on the EDL.

Update 14: Knock me down with a feather!

Pam Geller writes for the American Thinker and uses it to drum up support for the EDL.

Elsewhere, that dreary rag does a PR exercise for the English Defence League:

“The war for freedom of speech in Australia and the U.K. was discussed by Debbie Robinson, President of Q Society in Australia; Tommy Robinson and Kevin Carroll of the English Defense League (EDL); and George Igler of the Discourse Institute in the U.K. It was astonishing to listen to both Robinson and Carroll share how their small town in England is one of many communities where Muslims have been moving in over the last twenty years; the Muslims have grown so large in numbers and influence that both the police and the Brits are intimidated, and many have left.

They made the argument that Americans should not fall for the idea that this can’t possibly happen in the U.S. with a Constitution that guarantees freedom of speech and religion. This is what the British people also thought, Britain being the home of the Magna Carta. How wrong they were.

Mr. Carroll dramatically held up two British newspapers with headlines that are testimony to the degree of Muslim influence the English are living under today and the loss of their individual freedoms. They read: NO RIGHT TO WEAR A CROSS AT WORK and SPEAK UP FOR CHRISTIANTY PM TELLS ARCHBISHOP, both front-page stories in the U.K.’s Daily Express.

These brave gents refuse to leave their homes in spite of the fact that their country is now in the second stage of Islamic transformation.” [My emphasis.]

But it is hardly surprising that right-wing conservatives are found in the company of neofascists, or that they defend them. The pity is that the American Thinker deliberately omitted the criminal convictions and background of the EDL leaders.

Hope not hate reminds us The BNP past of the EDL leader.

Rod Liddle’s Open Racism At The Spectator

specy1

This post is a public record, because I would expect that Rod Liddle’s open display of racism at the Spectator will soon be removed.

It is utterly senseless and disgusting.

Therefore, it is worthwhile recording Liddle’s racism and its appalling implications:

“I was slightly puzzled by the early media reports of the appalling murder in Woolwich and particularly the wrangling over whether or not this could be called ‘a terrorist attack’. Does it make much difference? Two black savages hacked a man to death while shouting Allahu Akbar; that’s really all you need to know, isn’t it? In a sense calling it an act of terrorism somehow dignifies the barbarism. The media will now go into crowd-control mode and tell us how all Muslims are as shocked by this attack as are the rest of us and how Islam is a peaceable religion. No, it isn’t.

All credit to the woman police officer who shot the scumbags, although I suspect we will soon have an inquest into why it took the ‘boyden’ (that’s ghetto slang for police, apparently, dear readers) took 20 minutes to arrive. “

It is like reading a commentary from a 1970′s National Front member: bigoted, stupid and openly racist.

Update 1:  That page vanished but not before a screenshot was taken:

rliddle1

Update 2: At this time, I can’t see much of the media taking Liddle to task for his racism, but the Huff Post covers it, Rod Liddle’s ‘Two Black Savages’ Spectator Blog Draws Accusations Of Racism.

If any readers find good links on this issue please do leave a comment, I will try and update the post.

Update 3: I had forgotten about Liddle’s previous form in this area. Spectator to pay out £5,625 over Rod Liddle’s Stephen Lawrence article:

“The Spectator has been ordered to pay £5,625 in fines and compensation for breaching reporting restrictions over a Rod Liddle comment piece published during the trial of Stephen Lawrence’s killers.

Judge Howard Riddle ordered the publisher of the Spectator to pay a fine of £3,000, plus £2,000 in compensation for distress to Lawrence’s parents, in a hearing at Westminster magistrates’ court in central London on Thursday morning.

The Spectator pleaded guilty to breaching a court order with the Liddle article, published in November 2011 at a key moment in the trial.”

Update 4: I think Liddle’s comments reflect a wider racism towards Muslims in British society. The antiracist campaign, Tell Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks (MAMA), summarizes part of that racism as:

“•632 anti-Muslim hate incidents reported to ‘MAMA’ since March 2012,
• Muslim women increasingly targeted (58% of all incidents),
• Victims of incidents range from a five-year-old child to an 89-year-old pensioner,
• 2:1 ratio of female victims in Islamic clothing to men in Islamic clothing,
• 74% of incidents take place on-line,
• 6% of incidents involve attacks on mosques/property,
• 5% of victims are white converts to Islam,
• Three-quarters (75%) of perpetrators are male,
• Far Right BNP/EDL supporters linked to over half (54%) of all cases,
• 23 arrests, 18 prosecutions (cases pending),
• MAMA pursuing review of police decision not to charge EDL leader,
• Trend of rising Islamophobia, recorded by YouGov figures (7 March)”

Update 5: Liberal Conspiracy deals with Liddle’s half-hearted semi-apology, Rod Liddle apologises for ‘black savages’.

Update 6: If you have a strong stomach, the comment box on the revised article at the Spectator is overflowing with xenophobia, anti-Muslim racism and the odd bit of antisemitism, dressed up as “anti-Zionism” not pretty:

“allymax bruce jjjj • 4 days ago −
Most you describe is true, BUT, what you fail to realise /question, is that this is being functionsd by the Zionists. I’m not being anti-semetic in saying this; in-deed, closing down intelligent thought & discourse is the result of using that anti-semetic excuse! Moreover, most Jews living in Israel are against the Zionists; are they anti-semetic too? No, ofcourse not. Slurring intelligent thought & discourse as anti-semetic only further disenfranchises us, but more importantly, furthers what you fear is happening to us. If you want to to truly stop the rot by this political Establishment, then you must consider it is a Zionist enforcement.”

Update 7: This is rather good, Rod Liddle and the Economics of the Commentariat:

“While a pretty poisonous clutch of miserablists all told, I wouldn’t consider them racist. Dan and Brendan, definitely not. Mel, well, she has written plenty of things that could certainly be construed that way but as awful as they are, but she just about stays on the right side of the line. But Rodders is a different kettle of fish. There are only so many situations available for former liberals and lefties as they migrate to the lucrative uphills of remunerated bigotry. And though Rod has been on his journey for a while, he’s taken his own sweet time. I blame his penchant for footy forums. But the market for anti-Islam rants is a crowded one, so how to stand out among the swivel-eyed and hard-of-thinking? Well, why not dance pack and forth across the line. And so, of last week’s appalling murder in Woolwich, he writes “two black savages hacked a man to death while shouting Allahu Akbar; that’s really all you need to know, isn’t it?

It’s not so much a problem of Rod’s dinner party racism, but with the whole economy of media commentary.”

Update 8: Talking of racism, another thread at Liberal Conspiracy seems to have succumb to antisemitism, again, Meet Woolwich Truthers who claim attack a “hoax”:

“Once you dig far enough and realise thru the Rothschild/Rockefella Ashkenazi-faux-jews and other pretend ‘Christian’ satanist-elitist families of the “Western World” (demon-strated quite clearly in the bible as “Synagogue of Satan” club ‘members’) that the West is dictatorially dominated by such eg all senior cabinet and top politicians are all so-called ‘Jews’ thoroughly misleading the vast majority (who are totally ignorant of this stitch-up) and making our lives hell.
Go back to Khazar history and you will find the same parasites who are in charge today as bankers and parasitical crony corporation owners stealing direct from the taxpayer and avoiding most or all taxes.”

Update 9: Musa Okwonga makes an excellent point:

“When bile such as “black savages” is sent unchecked into the atmosphere, it poisons the air. In this context, after all, “black savages” suggests that beneath the thin veneer of the apparently civilised Western-born black male lurks an irredeemably violent thug, and that all it takes is the right triggers to unleash him. That is precisely the same thinking upon which imperial attitudes were, and indeed still are, proudly based. “

UKIP, Casual Racism And BBC’s Bias

UKIP Election Poster 2013

If you ever wanted to understand bigotry in Britain then this UKIP poster from South Shields is a fine example.

It sums them up nicely, scaring people and putting out a simple xenophobic message.

Logan Smith wrote an intelligent piece on casual comments and racism.  I think it has a wider application in society and in particular relationship to UKIP:

“It’s that the people I retweet – the vast majority of which appear to be teenagers – genuinely don’t understand whether they’re being racist. It’s a generation that never had to grow up during the times of Jim Crow, civil rights marches or apartheid, and has never been confronted by the institutional racism that older generations saw on a daily basis. As a result, many teens seem to think racism simply means active hatred of another race, and not the apparent prejudices and stereotypes displayed by the people I retweet. “

Speaking of prejudice, the BBC’s has not helped itself over the years, when it comes to the Jewish community, according to a recent poll:

“36% – The proportion of Jews who believe BBC news coverage is “heavily” biased against Israel, according to the report

14% – The number who say that the corporation reporting is “balanced” “

Bowen and Gaddafi
Over the years I have watched Jeremy Bowen display an unsophisticated vista of the Middle East, so I am surprised the 14% figure is that high.

The full report is here, Jews and the News: News consumption habits and opinions of Jews in Britain. Some 79% of those sampled replied they felt the BBC is biased against Israel. That is a lot, for one community to perceive the BBC’s way of reporting the news.

A reminder of where such prejudice leads, murder in Eltham.

Finally, Doreen Lawrence’s words.

Update 1: A reminder of Richard Dawkins’ stupid words from 2007:

“”When you think about how fantastically successful the Jewish lobby has been, though, in fact, they are less numerous, I am told – religious Jews anyway – than atheists and [yet they] more or less monopolise American foreign policy as far as many people can see. So if atheists could achieve a small fraction of that influence, the world would be a better place.”

Such views are common on the Far and Extreme Right. This essay explains the antecedents of such beliefs, What are “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”? I do wish that Professor Dawkins would educate himself on these issues and not assume he knows everything.

Update 2: Any Richard Dawkins’ supporters who can not see the possible racist connotations here should examine the evidence and come to some reasoned conclusion.

Finally, try and work out why neo-Nazis would proffer such views?

Update 3: Apparently, UKIP banned extremists from its ranks, good first start but did not seem to inform its lay officials, Stand for Peace explains:

“Evidence has emerged that a senior UKIP figure, the Chairman of UKIP Hillingdon, Cliff Dixon has links to the English Defence League (EDL), a far-Right group with a long history of attacking Muslims.

Dixon, formerly involved with the English Democrats party, boasted on his blog, in 2011, that he has ”joined my friends from March for England to tag along on the EDL Tower Hamlets demonstration.”

Colin Cortbus, a Stand for Peace fellow, notes: “If Mr Dixon thinks extremists should get off our streets, perhaps he should lead by example.”

Mr Dixon’s blog also records his attendance at a number of nationalist marches, mainly through the relatively small ‘March for England’ group. One event was co-organised by the British Patriots Society, which is described by anti-extremism campaign Hope not Hate as “a tiny splinter of the English Defence League”.

One photo shows Dixon posing with EDL leader Kevin Carol and other EDL and BNP figures.”

Q:Can any of my readers suggest why UKIPers might be found associating with the neofascists in the English Defence League?
(more…)

Railways: A Manifestation Of Thatcherism

During the post-war period the railways were nationalised after years of neglect by private owners, in many ways they were seen as key to building and enhancing Britain’s infrastructure.

Thatcherism changed all of that.

Two of its key aims were to sell off the family silver and enrich its supporters, so it was with Major’s breakup of the railways.

The net result is a poorer, accident prone railway system which rewards management failure and pays individual workers a pittance.

More examples of this Thatherite attitude has been seen recently:

“Network Rail has paid out £630,000 to four of its executive directors as a portion of their long-term incentive plan (L-tip) to reflect the organisation’s performance in the period 2009-12.

However, Network Rail’s remuneration committee decided to reduce the award by 20% to take into account specific safety and train performance issues.

Patrick Butcher, finance director, was awarded £168,000, while Robin Gisby, managing director of network operations and Simon Kirby, managing director of infrastructure projects, were awarded £158,000, and Paul Plummer, group strategy director was awarded £148,000. Chief executive David Higgins did not qualify because he was not with the organisation in 2009.”

In July 2012 even the Torygraph was moved to comment:

“The taxpayer-backed company is once again at the centre of a political row, after it put forward plans to pay five directors an extra £2.6 million under two new schemes.

Under the proposals, three directors at the company will get payments of £300,000 each in 2014 just for turning up to work for the next two years.”

It pointed out the dismal record of Network Rail’s management:

“Two months later, the operator was fined £4 million over the Grayrigg rail disaster that killed one person and seriously injured 28 others.

Within the last two years, Network Rail has also been fined £1 million over the deaths of two school girls at a level crossing in 2005 and £3 million over the Potters Bar crash in 2002 that left seven dead.

The company is also under pressure over its punctuality, leaving it in danger of a £42 million fine. It has a target of running 92 per cent of trains on time – or less than ten minutes late.

At the moment, it is only providing 89.2 per cent of services within these limits, risking a £1.5 million fine for each 0.1 per cent below the target. “

(more…)

IDS: Iain Duncan Smith And His Wikipedia Entry

Whilst having a laugh at Iain Duncan Smith’s wiki entry (notice his profession), please sign the change.org petition to make him live on £53 per week.

Snap 2013-04-01 at 23.21.42

Genteel Racism at Liberal Conspiracy And Cranks Around Up

We tend to think of anti-Jewish sentiment as coming from the Far Right, yet nowadays it is fairly common to find examples of it on liberal or left wing web sites. It is not overt or blunt as found amongst the extreme racists, but there are tell-tale signs: conspiracy theories and strange terminology.

Some posters at Liberal Conspiracy indulge in such activities without a moment’s recrimination or actions from the site’s moderators or post’s author.

I am not surprised that racists mount their pathetic hobbyhorses, rather that the non-racists who read that material at Liberal Conspiracy can’t see a problem or are willing to let it go unchallenged. If I were charitable I might conclude that most at Liberal Conspiracy don’t understand racism, and in particular anti-Jewish racism.

Snap 2013-03-30 at 15.38.33

Shorter version: maligning Israelis and Jews gives the game away. Particularly if there is a pejorative reference to the “Chosen”, or consciously linking to Rense, a site which proffers conspiracy theories, anti-Jewish racism and approvingly advertises David Duke.

This is not an isolated incident at Liberal Conspiracy as I have covered such poor behaviour before.

Even George Orwell spotted this form of usage in the post war period.

In an under reported topic on the British media, Asiya Islam looks at discrimination faced by Muslims, as seen by five women:
(more…)

Orwell, Atos and The Tories

Like many, I have read most of Orwell’s work, discussed and debated what he was trying to get at and even questioned some of his later decisions. Not unsurprisingly there is a lot to get to grips with. He was a multifaceted character living in turbulent times and profoundly affected by it.

David Aaronovitch does an excellent job in presenting the views of various scholars, friends and associates of Orwell. Nicely balanced. Over at the BBC Iplayer, The Road to Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Readers will remember how the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) outsourced to Atos, eligibility assessments of the disabled. Atos, in return, have been roundly criticised for declaring people to be “fit for work” only to have them die a few weeks later. Charities and other organisations connected with disabilities have pointed out the flaws in Atos’s methodology.

But now, in a bizarre twist, Atos are outsourcing many of those assessments to the NHS.

So the Public sector outsources to the private sector, a nasty task, who in turn outsource it back to parts of, the once, Public sector.

Atos is using this to deflect criticism on how many of those declared fit either die or end up destitute, whilst Atos rakes in millions.

From Lebanon, Hezbollah has been attacking Syrians with rockets.

Mapping child poverty, not something the Tories or their LibDem allies will welcome.

In other news, a UN official wonders about food banks in Britain. I am just waiting for some idiot Tory to trumpet them, saying “…at least we are world leaders in food banks!”

The privatisation of education continues a pace as Gove brings in help to sack people.

Polly Toynbee on the bedroom tax and housing.

Not above shelf stacking.

Finally, NHS privatisation: Compilation of financial and vested interests, well worth a read. I can’t even imagine how scathing George Orwell would have been, of a society which attacks the poorest and weakest whilst selling off the family silver, and for once a Tory was right about something.

David Ward MP, David Duke And His Supporters

Power and privilege affect people’s judgements. Proximity to it changes people, clouds their common sense.

Witness the sense of entitlement that Westminster MPs had, they genuinely could not understand the issue of their excessive expenses claims. These MPs lacked any insight into their own conduct and how others saw them.

So it is with David Ward MP.

A few weeks ago, Ward made sweeping generalisations about “the Jews”, compounded offence with an insincere apology and only then begrudgingly when threatened by the LibDem chief whip.

Now Ward continues on his path of dog whistles, paranoia and is devoid of any self examination.

After his crass behaviour, an unapologetic interview at the Guardian was meant to clear the air and help him, but Ward made things worse:

“There is a huge operation out there, a machine almost, which is designed to protect the state of Israel from criticism. And that comes into play very, very quickly and focuses intensely on anyone who’s seen to criticise the state of Israel.”

Later on, Ward had the temerity to email the Jewish News and asked the most facile of questions.

Snap 2013-02-09 at 21.19.06

There are being a number of intelligent responses to David Ward’s idiocy, but I can’t help thinking that nothing will sink in, nevertheless, Rabbi Neil Janes makes the effort:

“Instead of leaping to the conclusion that you are being silenced by a powerful lobby or that you were ‘just’ speaking truth to evil, I advise you to begin to demonstrate your understanding and empathy for all peoples – by the way, it is not just Jews and Palestinians who live in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. If you had done that and then voiced your concerns in a measured way, not on Holocaust Memorial Day, you may have found the reaction would have been different.

(more…)

David Ward MP And Subconscious Themes

Whatever other attributes they might have, we like to think of politicians as having a way with words, a deeper understanding of issues and a certain intellectual subtlety.

That clearly isn’t the case with the LibDem MP, David Ward.

The BBC, rather typically, underplay is the issue:

“”Having visited Auschwitz twice – once with my family and once with local schools – I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.”

According to his Wiki entry, David Ward is highly educated and was an academic.

So it at all the more disappointing that he doesn’t understand the use of words. In particular, how he’s managed to blame the world’s entire Jewish population in one fell swoop. Ward doesn’t, as you will notice, criticise the Israeli government or even Israelis for electing them, but “the Jews”.

Such terminology was prevalent in the latter part of the 19th century. Demagogues and political extremists would stir up racial hatred by blaming a country’s or the world’s ills on “the Jews”.

Subsequently, such usage was considered toxic, a remnant of the Extreme Right, but more recently there has been considerable linguistic slippage, with the return of comparable expressions.

Occasionally, senior LibDem politicians have been found in the company of conspiracy freaks and racists like Ken O’Keefe.

But it’s not all words, in the West there is a subconscious theme which seems to percolate just below the surface, a nasty afterglow from the 20th century, something which many people have not truly divorced themselves from. David Ward’s words and usage make that much clear.

Update 1: The CST examines Holocaust Memorial Day abuse part 3: David Ward MP:

“Mr Ward may know exactly where he stands on antisemitism, the Holocaust and the Israel-Palestine conflict. He may be utterly assured of his spotless morality and faultless compartmentalisation of all three issues. He may well have signed the Book of Commitment in order to encourage “constituents to work together to combat prejudice and racism today”.

Sadly, however, this is not quite how racism works; and neither is it how Jews (nor many others) will react to this latest opportunistic and amoral debasement of Holocaust commemoration.

Update 2: The Daily Mirror picked up the story although don’t add any biting commentary.

Update 3: Paul Evans has written a highly intelligent piece:

“In a stroke such analogies belittle the suffering of the past, obscure our understanding of the present and most dangerously, suggest a kind of retroactive collective responsibility should be carried by Jewish people for their own suffering. “Yes,” they say “Jews suffered…” – you can smell the caveat coming, can’t you? “But look at the suffering they have caused too! Can they really be called victims? Unlike perpetrators of that genocide, Jews haven’t even learnt anything from being murdered in their millions! What is wrong with them?”. David Ward might not have meant all of that, I think he probably just thought he was being clever and decent when his office sent out that press release. But that is the dirty subtext which he bought into – and he should be held accountable for it.

For these reasons, we must be vigilant in calling out and countering such tawdry rhetoric, which helps Palestinians not at all and hurts Jews the world over. It is incumbent upon us to foster an environment in which accuracy and restraint, and not provocation, poison and hyperbole, characterise public discourse on the Holy Land. Most pressingly for this weekend, let’s not allow David Ward MP to distract us from taking time on Sunday, January 27th, to commemorate the people that hatred killed.”

Update 4: Huff Post covers it too, however, the toxic nature of the comments box suggests a wider problem.

Update 5: Sky News reproduces much of the same without a particularly intelligent critique. There is a small video clip of Ward digging a bigger hole doing the rounds. I will post a copy of it when I can find a non-Tory source (yes, I am aware that Guido Fawkes is all over it like a bad rash).

Update 6: Earlier, Ward was on BBC Radio 5 demonstrating an almost complete lack of insight. He plays the martyr and tries to make political capital from it all.

Update 7: Ward has released an updated version of his previous statement, still exceedingly poor.

Update 8: The Guardian’s contribution initially makes Ward out to be the victim, rather than self-absorbed and keen to exploit the HMD 2013 for his own political ends. At the end of the article, however, Ward manages to dig a deeper hole:

“Asked if he accepted that he was accusing Jews, rather than the Israeli state, of inflicting persection on the Palestinians, he replied: “I’m accusing the Jews who did it, so if you’re a Jew and you did not do it I’m not accusing you. I’m saying that those Jews who did that and continue to do it have not learned those lessons. If you are a Jew and you do not do those things and have never done those things then I am of course not criticising you.”

Ward is employing the old “Good Jews, bad Jews” dichotomy, as RationalWiki explains:

Relation to anti-Semitism and Judeophobia

The dichotomy dates back to ancient stereotypes regarding Jews as evil people, particularly those stereotypes spread in Christian-ruled polities. However, due to the focus of the Bible upon ancient Israel/Judah/Judea/Canaan and its inhabitants (and all the purported divine interventions in reality as written in the Bible), it also accords a strong cultural significance (often to the point of obsession) upon anything that has to do with Judaism, Jews or Israel; in other words, in the eyes of those who hold to this fixation, any of the three become dehumanized and turned into tools.

Someone who uses the “good Jew, bad Jew” dichotomy may also be prone to say “b-but some of my best friends are Jewish!”

[My emphasis.]

Update 9: Lib Dem Voice has a thread on it, Has it all gone Jenny Tonge for David Ward? Which is not as bad as it could have been, not brilliant but a few perceptive comments.

Update 10: This guide is for all of those readers who don’t quite understand antisemitism and even those who think they do:

“Don’t use the Holocaust/Nazism/Hitler as a rhetorical prop. The Jews who were murdered didn’t set foot in what was then Palestine, let alone take part in Israeli politics or policies. It is wrong and inappropriate to try to use their deaths to score political points. Genocide, racism, occupation, murder, extermination—go ahead and use those terms, but leave the Holocaust out of it.”

I hope David Ward reads that, stops and thinks for a moment.

Update 11: Jenny Tonge provides David Ward with much needed support:

“Jenny Tonge. 26th Jan ’13 – 7:05am
I do not usually add to the masses of indignation that is published on LibDem Voice, but I must point out that Israel insists that it is the JEWISH State of Israel , which leads to some people assuming that what Israel does is endorsed by all Jews.
Many Jewish people support the Palestinian cause and those of us who try to bring the treatment of the Palestinians by the Israeli government to the attention of the citizens of this country.
We must not be deterred by the sickening and self righteous indignation that comes from the Zionist Lobby.
David is a fine MP and understands the issues, and deserves our support.”

Unfortunately for Tonge and Ward, many commentators (including one at LibDem Voice, David) can see the issues with a degree of sophistication:

“David 26th Jan ’13 – 8:51am
@ Jenny tongue.

If David Ward understands the issue, why did he not just issue a clarification, rather than become defensive and restate his highly offensive position. He has stood by his comment of “The Jews” as a collective.

This is not a Zionist Lobby issue (as convenient as it would be to make them a scapegoat and deflect attention from David Ward MP’s words).

David Ward MP has had countless times to clarify his statement and has not. Presumably, in his eyes, a British Jew, a citizen of this country, who has no vote in Israeli elections, pays no taxes to Israel, who has less influence on Israeli policy than him, an elected politician, is to blame. We should remember that attacks on Jews in this country rise during tensions in the Middle East., so at all times, we should be using correct language to stop a collective ethnic blame.

[My emphasis.]

Update 11: Engage’s contribution makes a subtle point, how many would balk at generalisations aimed at “the Muslims” or other ethnic minorities, but can’t see the problem when that is applied to Jews, all 14+ million.

Read the original, David Ward, Israel, the Holocaust and the Jews – by Sarah AB.

Update 12: Norm is characteristically evenhanded, but has a marvellous observation:

“So if David Ward is innocent, this is innocence in one of two other meanings than the blameless meaning. It is either the innocence of a political fool, someone who should know better and is culpable for not going to the trouble of knowing better; or it is the dishonest innocence of the person who chooses not to understand what the fuss is about.”

Update 13: The LibDem Chief Whip’s letter, which is rather restrained.

Update 14: Matthew Harris gets to the point:

“It stinks, and it would stink just as much if said about Muslims, about British Asians, or about any other minority group. History teaches us at all costs to avoid the politics of “I blame the Jews”. “

(more…)

Chagossians, An innumerate Iain Duncan Smith And More

I had hoped to start 2013 on a better footing, with longer, more thoughtful post but time and life are not so generous. I think the plight of the Chagossians deserves a wider audience:

“For the uninitiated, in the 1960s, the US wanted Diego Garcia (one of the Chagos Islands) as a major air base. It spoke nicely to the UK, its owners, who consequently evicted and banned all the inhabitants from it and the neighbouring islands. The constitutional arrangements were apparently decorous. A new UK colony was established (the British Indian Ocean Territory or BIOT) with a Commissioner to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Territory. “

Iain Duncan Smith is a loathsome politician, but he’s also innumerate as Channel 4′s Factcheck shows:

The claim

“Tax credit payments rose by some 58 per cent ahead of the 2005 general election, and in the two years prior to the 2010 election, spending increased by about 20 per cent.”

The verdict

We asked the Revenue and Customs (HMRC), which administers work and child tax credits, how much has been paid out since the current system started under Labour in 2003 (before that it was the Working Families Tax Credit).

It said that in 2003-04, £16.4bn was paid, and the following year – the one that included the general election to which Mr Duncan Smith refers – £17.7bn.

That’s an increase of 8 per cent, not 58. “

The German army still has a problem with neo-Nazis as Zeit On-line points out, original in German or the Google translation.

In the US, White Supremacists are planning an anti-immigration rally according to the ADL.

The Guardian looks at the companies set to benefit from the privatisation of the NHS.

The Automatic Cat’s commentary is to the point:

“That doesn’t matter, anyway. The purpose of his statement was to demonise a section of the public in order to justify cuts which themselves are aimed at proving to ‘The Markets’ how fiscally astute and fearless we are. ‘The Markets’ being, in large part, the global banking system which brought us to the edge of catastrophe in the first place.

We’ve seen this kind of demonisation before, with the unemployed and the long-term ill. The suggestion that they’re really putting it on somehow, or shirking, or somehow otherwise undeserving of any help at all. It goes hand in hand with the policy that the safety net has made us all soft and needy and that taking it away will get us off our lazy behinds and make us take all those jobs which are out there.

It really won’t do. Personally I’m rather insulted that the government thinks so little of us that it believes we’ll swallow this nonsense. It shows a rather interesting lack of sophistication and, indeed, compassion. A government which believes we can be so easily manipulated is really not a government worth having. “

Reuters reminds us of the ever increasing death toll in Syria: 60,000 at the last estimate.

Will 2013 be better than 2012? Not looking good thus far.

Sexist Of The Year 2012: George Galloway

The End Violence Against Women Coalition poll has finished, there is a winner, George Galloway!

I hope he enjoys his Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, here’s an extract:

” IN the present state of society it appears necessary to go back to first principles in search of the most simple truths, and to dispute with some prevailing prejudice every inch of ground. To clear my way, I must be allowed to ask some plain questions, and the answers will probably appear as unequivocal as the axioms on which reasoning is built; though, when entangled with various motives of action, they are formally contradicted, either by the words or conduct of men.

In what does man’s pre-eminence over the brute creation consist? The answer is as clear as that a half is less than the whole; in Reason.

What acquirement exalts one being above another? Virtue; we spontaneously reply.

For what purpose were the passions implanted? That man by struggling with them might attain a degree of knowledge denied to the brutes; whispers Experience.

Consequently the perfection of our nature and capability of happiness, must be estimated by the degree of reason, virtue, and knowledge, that distinguish the individual, and direct the laws which bind society: and that from the exercise of reason, knowledge and virtue naturally flow, is equally undeniable, if mankind be viewed collectively.

The rights and duties of man thus simplified, it seems almost impertinent to attempt to illustrate truths that appear so incontrovertible; yet such deeply rooted prejudices have clouded reason, and such spurious qualities have assumed the name of virtues, that it is necessary to pursue the course of reason as it has been perplexed and involved in error, by various adventitious circumstances, comparing the simple axiom with casual deviations.

Men, in general, seem to employ their reason to justify prejudices, which they have imbibed, they cannot trace how, rather than to root them out. The mind must be strong that resolutely forms its own principles; for a kind of intellectual cowardice prevails which makes many men shrink from the task, or only do it by halves. Yet the imperfect conclusions thus drawn, are frequently very plausible, because they are built on partial experience, on just, though narrow, views. “

Wollstonecraft is neglected in the media dominated by men. I hope these links will, in part, helped to reverse that trend, her ideas are as relevant today as they were in the 18th century.

Mary Wollstonecraft Legacy.

History Guide on Mary Wollstonecraft.

Mary Wollstonecraft on education.

Mary Wollstonecraft: A ‘Speculative and Dissenting Spirit’

Virginia Tech’s electronic version of A vindication of the rights of woman.

Spartacus on Mary Wollstonecraft.

Some quotes from Mary Wollstonecraft.

In Our Time discusses Mary Wollstonecraft. As an MP3 file.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s entry.

If you know of any other informative links, please leave a comment.

Polly Toynbee vs. Ed Balls

Last week I briefly glimpsed an interview with Ed Balls, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer and major figure in the British Labour Party.

It was a general discussion on the Tories (misnamed) Autumn statement. The interviewer, whose name I forget, tried to pin him down into criticising George Osborne’s measures. However, the ever so cunning Balls was having none of it. He hummed and ahhed, instead of giving pointed answers and making it clear that Labour was stridently oppose the Tory measures, he prevaricated.

And that, for me, is the problem with the Labour leadership, they don’t really know which Tory measures there against, or even if they should oppose them totally, which is bewildering.

But I am not the only one to notice the malaise within the Labour leadership. The hardly radical, Polly Toynbee has some suggestions:

“To turn the public mood, Labour needs to find its voice and tell the stories that counteract Daily Mail scrounger anecdotes. For every cheat claiming disability while running a marathon, there are thousands of tales of the hard-working and the desperate-to-work queuing at food banks. Labour MPs’ surgeries brim with stories that need to be told, of families evicted unable to pay soaring rents, of children trapped in bed-and-breakfast single rooms, of “strivers” sinking through no fault of their own.

Labour needs to say what they see. Forget the polls and the focus groups, let the facts speak for themselves. Ed Miliband’s best instinct is that people are sick of Osborne’s callow politicking. Voters will reward honesty in politicians who speak their minds. If not, why bother at all?

My feeling is, that the useless Balls and Miliband are too wrapped up in the Westminster bubble to take this shrewd advice.

An Occasional Murdoch, NHS and Misogyny Roundup

Rupert Murdoch ate a mountain of humble pie at the Levinson inquiry and looked distinctly uncomfortable with his newfound humility.

That’s a thing of the past. Murdoch reveals his true feelings on Twitter:

“Told UK’s Cameron receiving scumbag celebrities pushing for even more privacy laws. Trust the toffs! Transparency under attack. Bad.”

Charlotte Church was a bit annoyed.

Over at the NHS they are not happy, according to one of its honchos:

“The head of the NHS has laid bare his fears that the government’s controversial reforms of the health service could end in “misery and failure”.

Women in the media, why the disparity?

An ex-Wikileaks supporter explains why:

“For a long time now I was a strong supporter of Julian. I used to donate regularly to him. I defended and supported his actions because I believed in the cause that he was fighting for. Since the days of the original attack I ran the primary South African Wikileaks mirror (www.wikileaks.za.org). Back in those days thousands of us rallied to support Wikileaks when it was under constant DDOS attack.

Now I see the absolute disdain the Assange`s treat this cause with I can no longer put my support behind the idea. To the Assange’s it has become the Assange Road Show. Wikileaks is all about them and their own personal agenda. “

Malatesta covers the activity of the British Far Right with humour, look out for Mike Mosley, yet another neo-Nazi that likes guns.

This is a piece of understated reporting if ever there was one.

French antisemitism comes to the fore on Twitter.

An indicator, if one was needed, of Tory failures, food banks serving more.

In Australia, the definition of misogyny is being updated.

When Universal Credit is introduced in Britain, the disabled will lose out.

Radovan Karadžić’s lying know no bounds.

When you think about buying an iPhone remember that Foxcon are still using youngsters to make their bits.

Worried by Americanisms? Linguistic traffic is not one way, as the Beeb shows.

Good news, neo-Nazi’s plans for social media thwarted by Twitter.

Tens of thousands have disappeared in Syria.

Paramilitary abuse and raped in Colombia, one woman’s tale.

Thanks to the UK Human Rights Blog and Irène Solomon there is an unofficial English translation of the Rachel Corrie judgment.

The Beeb and its mistakes over the Jimmy Savile investigation.

The New Yorker on Romney:

“Romney’s conviction is that the broad swath of citizens who do not pay federal income tax—a category that includes pensioners, soldiers, low-income workers, and those who have lost their jobs—are parasites, too far gone in sloth and dependency to be worth the breath one might spend asking for their votes. His descent to this cynical view—further evidenced by his selection of a running mate, Paul Ryan, who is the epitome of the contemporary radical Republican—has been dishearteningly smooth. He in essence renounced his greatest achievement in public life—the Massachusetts health-care law—because its national manifestation, Obamacare, is anathema to the Tea Party and to the G.O.P. in general. He has tacked to the hard right on abortion, immigration, gun laws, climate change, stem-cell research, gay rights, the Bush tax cuts, and a host of foreign-policy issues. He has signed the Grover Norquist no-tax-hike pledge and endorsed Ryan’s winner-take-all economics. “

Finally, the CST’s Online radicalisation. ‘Lone wolves’ of all stripes.

The BBC And The NHS

I think Martin Shovel doesn’t get the recognition that his wit and drawing skills deserve.

In this case he details with the BBC’s attitude to the NHS:

Those readers unfamiliar with the issues would do well to read Oliver Huitson’s and openDemocracy contribution:

“The BBC’s coverage of the NHS bill represents a profound failure to inform the public on an issue of the utmost importance. To summarise, it appears that:

- the BBC never questioned or explored the lack of democratic mandate for the changes to the NHS

- they consistently presented the bill using the government’s own highly contested description

- expert critics were not given the space and opportunity to highlight the true nature of their objections

- financial links between healthcare firms, the Conservatives and the House of Lords were never reported

- the significant role of the private sector in Lansley’s new health market was never explored

- fears over privatisation were occasionally stated but never explored or explained

- the role of private firms in commissioning care was not properly explained, if at all

- the role of private firms in creating the bill was never examined or reported

- sources with significant links to private healthcare were presented without a disclosure of their interests

- the BBC censored key stories, particularly as the bill reached its final stages. On 19 March 2012 when the bill was finally passed in the Lords, BBC Online published not a single article of news or analysis on the bill. “

(more…)