Media Lies

Friday, September 04, 2009

Some People Can Derail A Bandwagon Just By Jumping Onto It

The remnants of the Glorious Successor's cabinet, the Cuddly Club of twits, flits and shits which is Daveybloke's front bench, and the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick "Who?" Clegg, have all pledged to cut their personal greenhouse emissions by ten per cent in 2010. Tessa Jowell, the Minister for Bleached Quadrennial Pachyderms, has confessed to a sudden urge to replace her light bulbs at home, and says she will be "thinking very hard before booking more than one private international flight a year". Since Jowell is a New New Labour minister and sometime associate of David Mills, it would be rather surprising if she booked any private flights at all, as opposed to the kind for which expenses can be claimed; but her aspirations towards occasional cerebral activity are certainly to be welcomed. Meanwhile, the gorgeous Randy Burnham, perhaps as a result of a late-night, hand-wringing, heart-melting phone call to Tessa Jowell, enthused that "everyone who signs up can be part of a big national effort – all of us pulling together to prevent global warming", though not all of us have sufficient pull to get new runways built at airports or get a few thousand people killed for oil. Various celebrities and organisations have also signed up, including "major multinationals with many thousands of people", who will doubtless also be thinking very hard about light bulbs as they sit alone in their four-seater automobiles and wait out the traffic jam while their latest meal of processed plastic leaps playfully up to tickle their ulcerated duodena.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

That's the stuff to give the troops

I have received an email from something identifying itself as "John O'Farrell, Author and Broadcaster". Possibly this is the same John O'Farrell who, in his first email to eager Labour activists up and down the country, concluded his opening paragraph with a plug for his book. This is the third or fourth email I have received from a John O'Farrell during this dismal campaign. I was unable to write anything about the last couple. I am not lacking in uncharitableness, but I am old-fashioned enough to consider it unsporting to go after dairy cattle with a bazooka. Well, I used to be.

The author and broadcaster, John O'Farrell, has entitled his latest missive "Vote Labour or the hamster gets it", and commences it thus:

At this stage in the campaign I think it is very important that we avoid sinking to personal insults and name calling of the sort that we've been getting from those unprincipled scumbags in the Tory Party.

This is certainly amusing. It transpires that one of the biggest issues for John O'Farrell, author and broadcaster, is that "we can't have Michael Howard as Prime Minister." The author and broadcaster, John O'Farrell, then warns me that if anyone thinks it's "safe to abstain or vote against Labour", Michael Howard as Prime Minister is exactly what we shall get. The disadvantages of a Conservative government, according to author and broadcaster John O'Farrell, would be as follows:

1. Today's blame culture is all their fault.
2. When they abolish the Winter Fuel Allowance and free TV licences, pensioners will be expected to burn their tellies to keep warm.
3. Crime went up under the Tories (not surprising when you look at all the senior Tories like Archer and Aitken who ended up in prison).
4. When Michael Howard last faced a leadership election he came fifth. There were five candidates.


Points one and two are certainly amusing. Point three may well be true, but under the present circumstances a rather dangerous one to make. At least Archer and Aitken did end up in prison; and despite the former's substantial offences against literature, neither of them was guilty of war crimes or international aggression resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of harmless civilians. Point four is certainly amusing.

"If it hadn't been for people who cared taking the trouble to vote," continues John O'Farrell, author and broadcaster, "we would never have had the minimum wage, would never have had the NHS and John McCririck  might have won Celebrity Big Brother." This is certainly amusing, and certainly speaks volumes about the Labour party's estimate of its activists' intelligence. Messages like those of author and broadcaster John O'Farrell must certainly be useful to activists facing awkward questions from the ignorant and backsliding:

1. Why did Tony Blair follow George Bush into Iraq?
2. Why is the Labour party dismantling civil liberties?
3. Why is the Labour party giving the country away to private corporations?
4. Why should anyone in or out of the Labour party believe a word Tony Blair says?

Having received "Vote Labour or the hamster gets it", party activists up and down the country must be rubbing their hands with glee at the thought of facing those questions so that, utilising the sophisticated technique of intellectual and moral persuasion recommended by author and broadcaster John O'Farrell ("Pick one person you know and work on them non-stop from now until 5 May"), they may steer the erring voter gently back into Blair's benevolent fold.

The email includes a picture of a red pullover, neatly arranged below a weak chin and a wrinkly forehead. A hand is holding up a hamster. The caption is "Tories would bring back hamster hunting with dogs". This is certainly amusing. Presumably the contents of the red pullover are John O'Farrell, author and broadcaster. The photograph is well lit and composed, and it has nice sharp corners, but it shows too little of the pullover.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

What have I done to deserve this?

I am in receipt of an email from John O'Farrell, the rigorous avoidance of whose rigorously would-be-humorous Guardian articles constitutes one of the few effective methods for keeping cheerful while reading a newspaper. In his email, John O'Farrell states that he is emailing me as "a fellow supporter" of the Labour party; but he attempts to soften the blow by telling me I don't have to buy a copy of his book.

Where John O'Farrell, or anyone else, might have got the idea that I am a Labour supporter is a mystery to me. I have, it is true, contacted both my present Labour MP and my previous one (the previous one a Blairite zombie, the present one not); but I do not recall that any of those communications conveyed, or even implied, the message "I'll support you evermore". Mostly, I expressed disapproval of the war on Iraq and of the British government's (viz. the Labour party's) policy of amassing nuclear weapons to a degree never even attempted by that new friend and playmate so recently re-clasped unto Blair's holy bosom, the errant but now cleansed lamb, Colonel Gadafi.

Clearly, I need to be more careful about where I send my emails. You never know who might be watching, or what they might do with their ill-gotten information. If I hadn't gone and stuck my stupid nose into politics then, I might not now be getting spam from John O'Farrell.

"Everyone agrees the election, whenever that may come, is going to be the closest since 1992 and it is perfectly possible that the Tories could defy the polls to win power as they did in 1970," John O'Farrell informs me. I am a little young to remember 1970, but I have the distinct impression that Edward Heath's Conservatives could have managed a pissup in a brewery without drowning one another in the vats - something that can hardly be said of Michael Howard's fag-end rabble.

Be that as it may, John O'Farrell continues: "A major factor between now and polling day is how many Labour supporters we can mobilise." I think I can follow the logic here, but John O'Farrell brings out a very special guest to enlighten me with a pithy Enlightenment epigram: "As Voltaire said; 'All that is necessary for the Tories to triumph is that Labour Party supporters do nothing.'" John O'Farrell continues, parenthetically: "(Okay, it's a very loose translation.)" It must be ever so nice to be a real writer.

John O'Farrell admits that, like him, I may not agree with everything that has happened since 1997, but nevertheless: "we cannot risk throwing away all the fantastic achievements of the past eight years. If we sit back and do nothing now, we'll be turning our backs on all the millions who've had their lives radically improved by the minimum wage or Working Families Tax Credit not to mention the millions of people in the third world who've benefited from the massive increase in overseas aid."

I wish there were some prospect of throwing away some of the achievements of the last eight years: the widening prosperity gap, the dismal Private Finance Initiative and the hundred thousand corpses littering the Middle East, to name but three. As to those millions in the third world who've benefited by having their water privatised for the profit of British companies, or who've undergone the benefit of bombing and strafing from British-made jets and helicopters - perhaps I am being unduly self-centred, but I doubt that my lack of enthusiasm for these philanthropies will harm such people overmuch.

John O'Farrell then quotes, in bold type, the title of his email: "This isn't emotional blackmail." Then, in bold type, he contradicts it: "Oh all right, it is emotional blackmail, but what the hell?" This is certainly amusing. Then John O'Farrell says how vital it is that "we" (viz. the Labour party, with myself as its faithful supporter) get our leaflets through millions of letter boxes over the next few weeks. John O'Farrell concludes with a parable. He mentions rabid Dobermans on the other side of the doors. If I think those Dobermans are scary, says John O'Farrell, I should think of Michael Howard on the other side of that front door in Downing Street. It is always reassuring to have one's intelligence respected.

"Go on, click on the link now..." John O'Farrell cajoles. He provides a different link for my friends and family to click on, should I succeed in persuading them to join me in my leafleting.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Is Condoleezza Rice a liar?

Condoleezza Rice said:

"No al-Qaeda threat was turned over to the new administration."
Washington Post, 22 March 2004.

However:

"Eight months before the September 11 attacks the White House's then counterterrorism adviser urged then national security adviser Condoleezza Rice to hold a high-level meeting on the al-Qaeda network, according to a memo made public today."
The Herald Sun, 11 February 2005

This is the memorandum. She ignored it.

Eight months later the planes struck the towers.

She either has a defective memory, poor administrative skills, or is lying.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Happy New Year From Ann Clwyd

In keeping with the syncopated rhythm of our previous correspondence, the saintly Ms. Clwyd has finally got around to replying to my last email but one, in which I asked her when she'd be getting on her hind legs to protest about war crimes, which I detailed for her so she could ignore them while converting arms cashes (sic) into reconstruction budgets:

From: CLWYDA@parliament.uk
Subject: RE: your email
Date: January 12, 2005 14:53:13 GMT

Dear [Raoul],

Thank you for your email of 25 November 2004. I apologise for the delay in replying. I am, of course, concerned about the humanitarian situation in Fallujah and have repeatedly raised the issue with the appropriate authorities in the UK as well as with organisations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, the World Health Organisation and the UN.

Nevertheless, the recent military action in Fallujah took place at the request of the Interim Iraqi Government (IIG) with the aim of restoring stability and security to the country before the national elections. I returned from my seventh visit to Iraq since the fall of the regime in December. I was told by many Iraqis that the terrorists and insurgents in Fallujah were using the population of that city as a 'human shield'.

When Barham Salih, the Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq visited the House of Commons in November, he told MPs that all political avenues had been tried before the decision was taken by the IIG to send in Iraqi troops, supported by Multi National Forces, to clear the city of the insurgents. Fallujah had become a command and control centre for the insurgents - as of the end of November, 203 arms cashes had been found and only 59 per cent of houses yet searched. Before the assault on Fallujah, there were around 80 insurgent attacks a day across Iraq and that had fallen to about 60 attacks. Sunni leaders in the city had come to the IIG to ask them to rid Fallujah of the foreign fighters and Saddamists.

It was the priority of the Iraqi Government, and that of the military forces supporting them, to keep the humanitarian impact of military action to an absolute minimum.

Essential services were disrupted during the course of military action. However, Iraqi and multi-national forces supplied Fallujah's civilian population with water supplies as they moved into the city. The Iraqi Government and the Multi-National Force had also stockpiled essential supplies in the city before operations began to provide for the immediate needs of Fallujah's civilians.

The IIG has established a cross-ministry Fallujah Core Coordination Group to plan and deliver its assistance to Fallujah's civilians. This assistance includes supplying food, water and medical supplies, restoring essential services, and refurbishing medical facilities.

Extensive medium and long-term reconstruction work is also planned for Fallujah. The Interim Iraqi Government (IIG) has set aside significant funds from the Iraqi government budget for reconstruction work. The IIG is being supported by the Multi-National Force-Iraq, which also has considerable resources for immediate post-conflict reconstruction work in Fallujah, including clearing rubble and the restoration of water, sewerage and electricity services. United States agencies have planned around 100 reconstruction projects in the Fallujah area totalling $84.1m, due to begin soon.

I hope this is helpful.

Yours sincerely,
Ann


Members of the reality-based community have questioned which planet she inhabits, noting a slight divergence between the account above and the situation on the ground:

"Fallujah, like your worst date, has been fucked and forgotten. There is no need to be comprehensive in our review of the facts, and there is certainly no sensible dispute about them."

Quoth Lenin.

"Well, they're dead, the city's destroyed, but at least we brought them water..."

Since we are all "human shields" in a way, it may come as a shock to learn that this status strips us of our human rights, as abrogated under the selective interpretation thereof by war Tone and his special envoy on nastiness in Mesopotamia.

Perhaps you'd care to bother her yourselves on the above address; I'm tied up for now, garrotting myself. It seems less painful that way.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Bhopal twenty years on

Just after midnight on December 3, 1984, forty tons of methyl isocyanate leaked from the Union Carbide pesticide plant at Bhopal, in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

The disaster killed between 7,000 and 10,000 people in three days. 15,000 have died since. 100,000 have been or are suffering chronic diseases. A generation suffers infertility and birth defects.

Although Union Carbide paid the Indian government $470 million to settle all claims related to Bhopal, that figure was based on the now discredited estimate of 3,000 deaths due to the disaster. Much have the money has not yet reached the victims. No one has faced charges in court for the disaster. Instead those responsible abscond from the law.

In September 2004, three years after 9/11, the US State Dept refused, without explanation, an extradition request from India.

This was for top Union Carbide officials, including Warren Anderson, the chief executive at the time of the disaster.

The Bhopal disaster is several times the maginitude of 9/11, in terms of suffering and death.

Bhopal was not deliberate. But unlike September 11th, those responsible are fully identified and within the grasp of the authorities. However, the US govt refuses to co-operate with the Indian authorities to get justice for the victims.

Mark Hertsgaard says:

"There are many shades of gray in life, but sometimes the truth is black and white: it is shameful for Dow/Union Carbide to keep ducking its obligations in Bhopal and shameful for the U.S. State Department to help it do so."

The International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal

Read about Yes Men and their original treatment of this issue, and wrong doers and media duplicity in general here.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

And clueless as ever...

It's that time of year again. Yes, the calendar points towards the advent of yet more hype to shift shoddy produce and in the political echo chamber this of course means a starring role for the angel of death; yes folks, it's she of the shredders: the Right Dishonourable Ann Clwyd, that familiar fixture on these pages who means ever so well, we're sure, although she never quite gets it together unless kicked up the arse.

So here she was on her hind legs a couple of weeks back, serving up a sitter for the Vicar to smash, straight outta Hansard:

Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley) (Lab):
"May I ask my right hon. Friend to look urgently at reports that some civilians caught up in the fighting in Falluja are not able to access urgent medical treatment? May I ask him again to say that surely the main objective now must be to ensure that as much of Iraq as possible is made safe so that free and fair elections can take place next year and the people of Iraq can choose their own elected representatives?"

So whaddya make of that Mr. Smart Arse? It's the lady with the lamp in dark places and the sainted Annie Nightingale ain't afraid to scratch from the wrong hymn sheet, although she's turned her back on all that heavy metal of course. One has to fit in after all, isn't that right Mr. Principles? We don't take no shit from that Dorothy Perkins, now does we Schquealer McBliar? I simply say to you. Etcetera, etcetera...

The Prime Minister:
"The points that my hon. Friend makes are absolutely right. We are doing our best to get supplies, especially medical supplies, through to people in Falluja, but the current problem is that some of the terrorists and insurgents are trying to kill those who are bringing the supplies through. As Prime Minister Allawi made it clear, the Iraqi Government are going to redouble their efforts to achieve that. My hon. Friend's point is absolutely correct, because if the terrorism stopped, many things could happen in Iraq. The reconstruction could proceed more easily and investment in Iraq could be there. The elections - locally and nationally - could take place properly. That is why it is important that whatever the difficulties and people's views on the conflict in Iraq, we stand firm and see this through, because that is in the interests not only of the Iraqi people, but of the wider world."

Hmm. Now this isn't the sort of thing I care to heed normally, much as it irks me to have to watch The Other Side instead. But Ms. Clwyd did me the honour of replying to one of my letters this afternoon, albeit the best part of a month late. Here, in all its glory, is her devotion to the cause:

Dear [Raoul]

Thank you for your email of 30 October, which is receiving attention.

Yours sincerely,

Ann Clwyd MP


Cor blimey! An' I only asked 'er this:

Subject: The Lancet and the liberal conscience
Date: October 30, 2004 19:29:04 BST
To: clwyda@parliament.uk

Dear Ms. Clwyd,

Please read [this] and let me know how many Iraqis will have to die before you demand a withdrawal of British troops.

I find it increasingly difficult to comprehend the meaning of your job title; what is a special envoy on human rights in Iraq supposed to do if not uphold the right of Iraqi civilians not to be slaughtered?

Yours sincerely,

[Raoul]


Now, I ummed and I ahhed. The poor dear must have felt obliged or something and it was clearly going to be of marginal benefit to force her to admit what this meant, so I seized the opportunity, jawohl:

Dear Ann,

Thank you for your reply. Does this mean I can look forward to your public call for the investigation of war crimes committed by the Coalition of the Illegal in Falluja? You have thusfar been conspicuous in your silence regarding the

- deliberate severance of water and electricity supplies
- bombing and occupation of hospitals
- denial of access to aid workers
- use of force to prevent civilians from fleeing combat zones

although you asked Tony Blair on 10 November "to look urgently at reports that some civilians caught up in the fighting in Falluja are not able to access urgent medical treatment".

Perhaps you could point me to the Prime Minister's commitment to do something about it; his Parliamentary answer to your request blamed it all on "the terrorists", rather than the U.S. forces which killed at least 800 civilians, according to the Red Cross.

How many more cities will be destroyed to save Iraq for Western interests?

Yours sincerely,

[Raoul]


Now by my reckoning, it's only a month of shopping Sundays until we meet again. I'll be wearing a seasonal stocking mask: Merry Sisyphus, you spineless wretches.