Tag: channel 4 news

“Liberation” & the false flag thesis: The west’s collusion with Islamist terrorism

Killing them softly

By Daniel Margrain

The 30 minute documentary film Killing Us Softly (1979) based on a lecture by Jean Kilbourne focuses on the effects of advertising on women’s self-image and the objectification of women’s bodies. Kilbourne argues that the superficial, objectifying and unreal portrayal of women in advertising lowers women’s self-esteem and that sexualized images of women are being used to sell virtually all kinds of goods.

Kilbourne then goes on to posit that these images degrade women, encourage abuse, and reinforce a patriarchal and sexist society. She also makes the connection between advertising and pornography, stating that “the advertisers are America’s real pornographers”.

Below is a video of Jean Kilbourne almost four decades later discussing her ideas as part of a campaign to bring her film to a new audience of young people. Significantly, she says since her film’s initial release in 1979 things have got worse, not better.

Thirty-six years after the release of Killing Us Softly, Channel 4 News reported on the inquest of 21 year old bulimia sufferer Eloise Perry who on the April 12 last year died at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital one week after having swallowed eight unlicensed fat-burning pills that she purchased from the internet.

The pills, which the Food Standards Agency describe as being illegal to sell for human consumption, contained DNP which is an industrial chemical historically used in the manufacture of explosives and fungicides. Website companies who sell this chemical depict DNP as a fat burning product and some even use the tag line “getting leaner through chemistry” as a marketing tool.

No sooner had the UK authorities made attempts to close down these sites, they reappeared under different names and hence it’s clearly a battle that they are losing. The fact that informed young people like Ms Parry who are aware of the risks, are so desperate to lose weight that they are prepared to go to such extreme lengths raises wider questions about the nature of the kind of society we live in.

The social pressures for young women (and increasingly young men) to conform to certain expectations placed upon them by the media are immense. The upshot is that they are involved in a constant psychological battle between myth and reality. In Britain, for example, the average size of a woman is now 16 but the ‘aspirational’ size is zero – an unobtainable goal.

The contradiction between reality and aspiration is undermining many of the gains that women made in the feminist debates of the 1960s and 1970s. What Ariel Levi terms “raunch culture” is another symptom of the undermining of the gains made.

A tour by High Street Honey’s that involves women employed by lads mags touring the various university campuses throughout the country dressed as porn stars, is yet another social layer as part of the pressure for young women to conform to certain body-image stereotypes placed upon them.

The notion that pole dancing which is sold as exercise classes at some universities and widely regarded as being empowering for women in terms of getting them in touch with their inner sexuality, is in reality, setting back women’s rights decades. Activities like this inhibit the way women (and increasingly men) feel about their bodies and therefore they cannot be disentangled from the tragic case of Ms Parry.

The normalization of sexist imagery in pop videos and television commercials and the sexualization of young girls clothes is another illustration of raunch culture outlined by Levi in which fantasies, desires and ambitions are transformed into commodities to make money.

The growth in cosmetic surgery is another factor that increases expectations on women’s appearances. Ninety-one per cent of cosmetic surgery is undertaken on women of which the most popular is breast enhancement. I was astounded to learn that in the U.S it’s widely considered normal practice for girls to be given a breast enlargement as a graduation present.

It’s a fact that a growing number of girls who suffer low self-esteem perpetuated by a media system that constantly portrays an ‘ideal’ body shape is a tendency that’s less common in the developing world.

This would seem to suggest that mental illness, of which eating disorders are a reflection, is to a large extent symptomatic of the growth of the consumerist capitalist society in which human relations are objectified. In Marxist terms, objectification is the process by which human capacities are transferred to an object and embodied in it.

Young females who read fashion magazines tend to have more bulimic symptoms than those females who do not – further demonstrating the impact the media has on the likelihood of developing the disorder. As J. Kevin Thompson and Eric Stice have shown, individuals first accept and ‘buy into’ the ideals set by fashion magazines, and then attempt to transform themselves in order to reflect the societal ideals of attractiveness.

The thin fashion model ideal is then reinforced by the wider media reflecting unrealistic female body shapes leading to high levels of discomfort among large swaths of the female population and the drive towards thinness that this implies.

Consequently, body dissatisfaction coupled with a drive for thinness is thought to promote dieting and its negative affects, which could eventually lead to bulimic symptoms such as purging or binging. Binges lead to self-disgust which causes purging to prevent weight gain.

Thompson’s and Stice’s research  highlights the extent to which the media affect what they term the “thin ideal internalization”. The researchers used randomized experiments (more specifically programmes) dedicated to teaching young women how to be more critical when it comes to media, in order to reduce thin ideal internalization. The results showed that by creating more awareness of the media’s control of the societal ideal of attractiveness, the thin ideal internalization significantly dropped.

In other words, less thin ideal images portrayed by the media resulted in less thin ideal internalization. Therefore, Thompson and Stice concluded that there is a direct correlation between the media portrayal of women and how they feel about themselves.

Social media also plays a part in how young people feel about themselves. A recent two part study [1] looking at social media sites, such as Facebook, researched influence and risk for eating disorders. In the first part of the study, 960 women completed self-report surveys regarding Facebook use and disordered eating. In the second part of the study, 84 women were randomly assigned to use Facebook or to use an alternate internet site for 20 minutes.

What this cross-sectional survey illustrates is that more frequent Facebook use is associated with greater disordered eating. The survey indicates a close correlation between Facebook use and the maintenance of weight/shape concerns and state anxiety compared to an alternate internet activity [1]. Other research suggests an etiological link between eating disorders and the tendency towards self-harming [now referred to as Non Suicidal Self Injury (NSSI)] [2].

In terms of prevalence, over 1.6 million people in the UK are estimated to be directly affected by eating disorders. However, the Department of Health estimate that the figure is more likely to be 4 million due to the huge level of unmet need in the community [3].

Recent studies suggest that as many as 8 per cent of women have bulimia at some stage in their life. The condition can occur at any age, but mainly affects women aged between 16 and 40 (on average, it starts around the age of 18 or 19). Reports estimate that up to a quarter of Britons struggling with eating disorders may be male [4].

 

References

1.Mabe AG, Forney KJ, Keel PK. Int J Eat Disord. 2014 Jul;47(5):516-23 Do you “like” my photo?  

2.Colleen M. Jacobson and Cynthia C. Luik, Epidemiology and Sociocultural Aspects of Non-suicidal Self-Injury and Eating Disorders 2014

3. Joint Commissioning Panel For Mental Health (www.jcpmh.info/wp-content/uploads/10keymsgs-eatingdisorders.pdf)

4. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Bulimia/Pages/Introduction.aspx

Putin calls Obama’s bluff

By Daniel Margrain

On the October 7 edition of Channel 4 News, anchor Jon Snow said of Russia’s firing of 26 cruise missiles on eleven targets in Syria from ships in the Caspian sea, as “a significant escalation in the Syrian crisis”. The reporter Jonathan Rugman belittled Putin’s attempt at cooperating with the American’s despite the fact that it was president Obama who denied the former the coordinates with which to target ISIS. Instead, Russia has reportedly attacked CIA backed rebels with the apparent aim of scuppering their hopes of toppling the Assad regime.

The context in which Russia has entered the conflict comes on the back of 3,731 coalition air strikes on Syria since August 2014, the deaths of an estimated 200,000 people in the four and a half years of the “civil war” and, as the Washington Post quoting US officials reported in June, the CIA have trained and equipped nearly 10,000 “rebel” terrorist fighters. According to Patrick Cockburn, half of the 22 million Syrians have been either displaced inside the country or are external refugees. Syria represents one of the last bastions of resistance to US power and its gateway to Iran.

The illegal US-led invasion and overthrow of the Saddam regime was the catalyst for the current wave of chaos from which Al-Qaeda and then ISIS emerged which, according to a recently declassified US intelligence report, written in August 2012, was a development the United States government welcomed.

The report also indicates that the US effectively welcomed the prospect of a “Salafist principality” in eastern Syria and an Al-Qaida-controlled Islamic state in Syria and Iraq. In stark contrast to western claims at the time, the Defense Intelligence Agency document identifies Al-Qaida in Iraq and fellow Salafists as the “major forces driving the insurgency in Syria” – and states that “western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey” were supporting the opposition’s efforts to take control of eastern Syria. Raising the “possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality”,

The Pentagon report continues, “this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran)”. This is consistent with the charge that the initial violence in March 2011 (on the back of the Arab Spring) in the border city of Dara’a involved covert support to Islamic terrorists by Mossad and/or Western intelligence in which radical Salafist groups (supported by Israel) played a part. Other reports have pointed to the role of Saudi Arabia in financing the protest movement. Jeremy Salt, associate professor in Middle Eastern History and Politics at Bilkent University, Ankara,wrote:

“The armed groups are well armed and well organised. Large shipments of weapons have been smuggled into Syria from Lebanon and Turkey. They include pump action shotguns, machine guns, Kalashnikovs, RPG launchers, Israeli-made hand grenades and numerous other explosives. It is not clear who is providing these weapons but someone is, and someone is paying for them.”

This is not to say the US created Al-Qaeda- ISIS, but it has certainly exploited its existence against other forces in the region as part of a wider drive to maintain western hegemony. Moreover, the Gulf states are backing other groups in the Syrian war, such as the Nusra Front. These are the groups Russia is reportedly requesting coordinates for, but which the US is refusing. The US also supports Saudi Arabia’s military campaign against Iranian-backed Houthi forces in Yemen which over the last few days have killed hundreds of civilians.

Obama’s policy is as weak and muddled as Putin’s is strong and clear. Syrian’s understand that ISIS and it’s affiliates won’t be defeated by the same powers that brought them to Iraq which is why they want Russia to intervene to help regain some kind of control over a situation that long ago spun out of control. They understand that prior to Iraq there was relative stability in the region and therefore prefer Assad remaining in power than the chaos the west has brought.

Peace cannot return to Syria and Iraq until ISIS is defeated which, for it’s own narrow geopolitical and strategic interests, America has no intention of letting happen. Regardless, Putin seems intent on forcing the hand of his imperialist adversary.

At his news conference on Friday, Obama said, “in my discussions with President Putin, I was very clear that the only way to solve the problem in Syria is to have a political transition that is inclusive — that keeps the state intact, that keeps the military intact, that maintains cohesion, but that is inclusive — and the only way to accomplish that is for Mr. Assad to transition [out], because you cannot rehabilitate him in the eyes of Syrians. This is not a judgment I’m making; it is a judgment that the overwhelming majority of Syrians make.”

But Obama did not explain how he knew what “the overwhelming majority of Syrians” want. Many Syrians – especially the Christians, Alawites, Shiites and secular Sunnis – appear to see Assad and his military as their protectors, the last bulwark against the horror of a victory by the Islamic State or Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front, which is a major player in the so-called “Army of Conquest,” as both groups make major gains across Syria.

Obama’s inaction against the terrorists he effectively supports as part of what is now widely accepted as a policy of regime change in Syria, has been exposed by Putin for what it is. Obama adopted a similar approach toward Libya which is now a failed state. Putin’s decisive intervention in Syria is the third time he has wrong-footed Obama – the first when he called him out over the veto with regards to UN resolution 1973 in relation to Libya, and the second was his overstepping of Obama’s ‘red line’ in respect to the unproven Assad-chemical weapons allegations.

Katrina, Ethnic Cleansing And The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism

Katrina, the costliest natural disaster in American history, hit the Gulf Coast just as America prepared to mark the fourth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. This is deeply symbolic since what the aftermath of the disaster highlighted was the extent to which the one dovetailed neatly into the other. The American government’s quest to bring American-style freedom and democracy to other nations exposed their inadequacy in resolving fundamental domestic disparities and inequities closer to home.

Katrina did not create these disparities and inequities, it simply added an important reminder that they are deeply embedded and constitutive of American political, economic, and social life. One of the major legacies of Katrina is that the disaster laid bare the inequalities, not just within New Orleans, but America itself.

It is perhaps naive to think that the catastrophe will provide a longer-term wake-up call to the political establishment in America to set about actively building a more fair and meaningful democracy in the country. Subsequent inaction would indeed appear to indicate that there is some justification for this naivety.

There is little indication a decade down the line that any attention has been paid to the role of American political institutions in addressing contemporary racial, economic, regional, and gendered inequities.The tenth anniversary visit of George Bush to New Orleans recently was emblematic of his administration’s incompetence rather than any cause for gratitude from the people affected by the tragedy.

The visit of Obama was no less irrelevant. In emphasising his apparent commitment to the recovery process, the president said“Part of our goal has always been to make sure not just that we recovered from the storm but also to make sure we dealt with some of the structural inequities that existed long before the storm happened.

It’s strange then that when Harry Shearer took out a full page ad in the local newspaper suggesting that Obama as the commander and chief of the US Army Corp of Engineers acknowledge this agencies’ responsibility for the deaths of 1,800 people, he was met with silence from the president. As usual, Obama offered nothing other than empty rhetorical platitudes as a substitute for tackling real problems.

Shearer, who made a documentary film about Katrina that focused on why the disaster happened, argued on Channel 4 News that Katrina was a man made catastrophe. Quoting one of the co-authors of a Berkeley report, he said that this was the greatest man made engineering catastrophe since Chernobyl.

Are these failed systems still in place a decade later? And if so, what is to prevent a similar catastrophe happening again?

Shearer says that the new improved system that cost the US taxpayer £14 billion has been built to a substantially lower standard than the system that failed. Last week, one of the members of the Levee Authority told Shearer that his advice to the citizens of New Orleans regarding whether they should feel more safe or not, was to maintain a constant skepticism.

None of this would be a surprise to author and activist Naomi Klein who, in her book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, views the social breakdown of societies and communities as being a feature of neoliberal economic policies of governments’. This breakdown is not the result of incompetence or mismanagement, therefore, but is integral to the free-market project, which can only advance against a background of disasters.

Disaster is part of the normal functioning of the type of capitalism we have today: “An economic system that requires constant growth, while bucking almost all serious attempts at environmental regulation, generates a steady stream of disasters all on its own, whether military, ecological or financial.”

Media reports in the immediate aftermath of Katrina – for example, hereherehereherehere and here – would tend to support Klein’s thesis. Unnatural disasters such as wars as well as natural ones like tsunamis and Hurricanes, allow governments and multinationals to take advantage of citizen shock and swiftly impose corporate-friendly policies.The result: a wealthier elite and more-beleaguered middle and lower classes. Sri Lankan fishing villages become luxury resorts and public schools along the Gulf Coast become corporate-run “charter” schools.

Three weeks after Katrina, the state sacked all the unionized teachers, disbanded the school board and turned the schools over to a state receiver in Baton Rouge resulting in the loss of community accountability. Margaret Spelling, the secretary of education, dumped $24 million into New Orleans, but it wasn’t allowed to go into public schools. It went to the charter schools thereby resulting in the shifting of power away from people towards the creation of a three-tier privatized system.

The destruction of New Orleans resulting from Katrina, also paves the way for its potential gentrification and social and ethnic cleansing where the city’s working class Black population – the people who are the very soul of the city, and who created its culture and made it famous – are seen as the major obstacle to the city’s economic recovery. A minority of them are necessary to be service workers in casinos and hotels. But the bigger idea has been to shrink the Black population and push the poor out of the city.

This kind of ruthless attitude toward the poor is symptomatic of the statement made by Republican congressman Richard Baker when he was overheard telling lobbyists “We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn’t do it, but God did.” It’s difficult to believe that the comment could be construed as anything other than informing some of the planning for a disaster in New Orleans. Flood becomes part of an ethnic cleansing process. City politics has been aiming at that for the last 20 or 25 years.

Cathy Newman’s Hatchet Job

An indication of how desperate the mainstream media have become over Jeremy Corbyn’s runaway lead in the opinion polls was no better illustrated by Cathy Newman, the Channel 4 journalist who went into a panic on social media for implying in February that the mosque she visited displayed (falsely) a culture of intolerance and sexism [1]. Newman has been criticised on Twitter by attempted to dig up dirt in her smearing of Corbyn in relation to reports he had links with Holocaust deniers and people with anti-Semitic views.  The Independent reported that:

“The Channel 4 journalist interviewed the Labour leadership hopeful in an alleyway about his connections with Deir Yassin Remembered, a group founded by self-declared Holocaust denier Paul Eisen, and the cleric Raed Salah, who was convicted for inciting violence and racism after accusing Jews of using children’s blood to bake bread.

Corbyn denied her repeated suggestion that he had made “misjudgements” by attending events by Deir Yassin Remembered and describing Salah as an “honoured citizen” some years ago, accusing Newman of putting words in his mouth.

He insisted that Eisen was not a Holocaust denier when he met him 15 years ago, telling Newman: “Had he been a Holocaust denier, I would have had absolutely nothing to do with him. I was moved by the plight of people who had lost their village in Deir Yassin.

Corbyn said he was unaware Salah had been convicted of racial incitement when he met him. The interview, which was broadcast on Monday evening, quickly sparked a backlash against Newman, with many accusing her of trying to smear him.” [2].

TrutherTom in the Independent comments section commented:

“Now Jeremy Corbyn has dozens of Jewish academics writing a open letter to the Jerusalem Chronicle stating that he is not anti-semitic and so another expose backfires against anti Corbyn media. I did not see him getting angry but I was certainly feeling it myself as she kept repeating “Was it a misjudgement Mr Corbyn” ad nauseum.

Totally pathetic attempt to try and stitch him up while hoping to make a name for herself but all she has done is make herself look foolish and unprincipled and extremely arrogant. Full marks to Jeremy Corbyn for keeping his cool when others may have reacted hastily but his constant denial and refusal to be baited, made her look very superficial and rather stupid.”

Tough Tories

Mr Amin hatched a scheme to persuade the English Defence League (pictured) to announce an inflammatory march against a new £18million ‘mega-mosque’

Employers who take on illegal immigrants will apparently face new sanctions under the law. Immigration Minister, James Brokenshire said companies “will be hit from all angles” (1) with raids and checks concentrating on building sites, cleaning firms and care homes.

Apparently, the government intends to use a multi-pronged attack using HMRC, the tax office, the health and safety executive and the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (the body that issues licenses to employment agencies and gangmasters within the agricultural industries) in an attempt to tackle employers who break the law in this way.

But is this merely another illustration of government grandstanding and the use of soundbites in exchange for any serious commitment to tackling the issue? A Freedom of Information request found the Home Office had issued almost £80m in fines but collected just £25m. The figures show that more than 8,500 penalties totalling £79,300,000 were issued between 2008/09 and 2012/13, but two-thirds of that total remains uncollected (2).

In 2009/10 the number of employers fined for using illegal immigrants stood at 2,254. By 2013/14 (the latest available figures) the number had been reduced to 2,090 (3). The government would claim that this is a success. But Labour and the unions say that this merely shows that the problem is going undetected because a lack of resources because of cuts, hence the need for the crackdown.

Unite, the country’s largest union, argue that the scope and powers of The Gangmasters Licensing Authority need to be expanded to prevent abuses that amount to modern day slavery (4).

They said that if the government was really serious about this crackdown it would expand the remit of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority to include more sectors other than just agriculture. And they would give it more money. In fact, it’s funding was frozen in 2010 (5).

The gangmasters when contacted by Channel 4 News about the supposed government crackdown didn’t know anything about it (6). A poll of Border Force employees revealed 98% ­questioned thought staff shortages were stopping them making all the checks they should (7).

Meanwhile, on the back of Cameron’s description of migrants as a ‘swarm’ (8), Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond defended his use of the term ‘marauding’ when describing the immigrants at Calais who are trying to access the tunnel their (9).

This narrative fits in with the government’s perceived crackdown on rogue employers who take on illegal workers. In reality, the appearance of toughness has more to do with appeasing their right-wing constituency in an attempt to win back former Tory voters who deserted the party for UKIP prior to the last election.

People Socially Cleansed As ‘Dirty Money’ Floods Into London

“There is no place for dirty money in Britain”, so says UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, who has promised to crack down on dodgy offshore companies that buy up luxury properties in the UK. Cameron says he will introduce a public land registry of properties owned by foreign investors. Channel 4 News has access to the data which highlights the problem is particularly acute in London.

“London must not become a safe have for corrupt money from around the world”, says Cameron. “We need to stop corrupt officials or organized criminals using anonymous shadow companies to invest their ill-gotten gains in London property without being tracked down.”

The figures are staggering. Some £122 billion worth of property in England and Wales is owned by foreign companies. Around 100,000 UK property titles are registered to them. Most are in Greater London where almost 43,000 properties are owned by overseas firms. “There is no place for dirty money in Britain. Indeed, there should be no place for dirty money anywhere. That is my message to foreign forces. London is not a place to stash your dodgy cash”, he said.

Undercover reporters’ working as part of the Dispatches documentary, From Russia With Cash, discovered just how easy it is to buy property in London with no questions asked. Chido Dunn from Global Witness says that “the presence of corrupt money in the London property market props up corrupt regimes overseas and means that a lot of people are stuck in poverty and violence and don’t have access to education.

So concretely, how is Cameron proposing to deal with the problem?

In the Autumn, data will be released that will highlight which foreign companies are buying up property in England and Wales. Although the data already exists within the public domain, Downing Street says it will now be more easily available.

In Westminster, where one in ten homes are owned by foreign investors, Channel 4 asked  Transparency International about the changes that are being consulted on.  A TI spokesman said that if enacted, the proposals would require foreign owners to declare their interests at the same standard as UK companies. The unanswered question is why the discrepancy in the first place?

That aside, over last 10 years a suspected £180 million of laundered money has been investigated by the authorities. However, according to Global Witness, that’s merely the tip of a very large ice berg. What these new measures will do if enacted will be to identify where the corrupt money is and prevent it from coming in to the country in the future. Currently the government is able to identify who owns a property on an individual and company basis but crucially not who the real people are who hide behind these companies.

People can still use offshore companies to structure their investments in order to benefit from things like inheritance tax and capital gains tax. But, if the consultation process succeeds, people hiding money for a criminal reason will no longer be able to hide it in property.

This appears on the surface to be an important first step. The question is, should the proposals go through, will law enforcement be empowered to properly investigate the practice of money laundering in the UK?

In a speech to Muslims in Birmingham on July 20, Cameron said “that people can grow up and go to school and hardly ever come into meaningful contact with people from other backgrounds and faiths”.

But money laundering is a major contributory factor (as is the failure to tax property effectively) in house price rises which in turn results in the kind of social cleansing I discussed here. Any failure by Cameron to get to grips with the problem will increase the problem of social exclusion he claims he wants to redress.

As with much else in the area of social and economic policy, the UK government appear to be tugging at the coat tails of the United States. What applies across the Atlantic is of as much relevance in New York as it is London. But at least in the former, rent controls to some degree ameliorate the problem. That said, UK government policy is geared towards increasing the disconnect between the rich and poor in much the same way the United States is.

As George Monbiot astutely puts it:

“The rich disconnect themselves from the civic life of the nation and from any concern about its well being except as a place to extract loot. Our plutocracy now lives like the British in colonial India: in the place and ruling it, but not of it.” We suffer the same curse: a ruling class whose wealth lies offshore, and which identifies more readily with a transnational elite than with the other people of this nation. On behalf of this elite, the government now gives away £93bn a year in corporate welfare: a sum bigger than the deficit. It champions the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership; a graver threat to the interests of this nation than Islamic extremism presents.”

The failure to tax property effectively has fuelled a rise in house prices so severe that entire English regions are becoming almost uninhabitable to the poor. The situation is made all the worse by the announcement from the head of the National Crime Agency who said there is a direct link between money laundering in property and the massive rise in London house prices.