Tag: news

Jeremy Corbyn’s Speech

By Daniel Margrain

I, like many other Labour supporters, spent yesterday afternoon glued to the telly in eager anticipation of the speech that was to come. I thought Corbyn looked, understandably, somewhat nervous and at times his frequent glances at the auto cue reflected a measure of uncertainty. He’s not the greatest of orator’s in say, the Galloway mold, but paradoxically, therein lies his strength. It’s the man’s humility that is arguably his strongest quality. It’s a quality that cannot be measured in the objective sense but you know it and feel it when you see it. And make no mistake, hundreds of thousands of us do see it.

But alongside that humility comes a level of integrity and steely resoluteness to get stuff done. One senses that here is a man who doesn’t suffer fools, and the media spin machine that plays to their tune, lightly. Underpinning this resolve, which is borne out of decades of principled and committed campaigning on issues that the establishment would rather whitewash away, is a man who is an idealist as much as he is a realist.

The image the media portray of him as a man out of time and place – a kind of naive and reluctant hero for the masses in the style of the Peter Sellers character in the film Being There – cannot be sustained for much longer. Indeed, I suspect that it’s a cliche that’s already run its course. Ultimately it’s his raw humanism and plain speaking that people seem to warm to the most.

I’m convinced that what people want more than ever are these kinds of politician’s. Somebody like George Galloway also has these qualities in abundance but with Corbyn you don’t get the self-centred inflated ego that comes with it. As you’ve by now realized, I’m a huge fan of the bloke and his policies as well as the new direction he intends to take the Party.

As for the speech itself, I thought it was refreshing and inspiring. I thought Corbyn was at his strongest during the middle section when he attacked the Tory government for the scaremongering tactics used against him when he was accused of threatening the economic interests of the public and the security of the country. The following extract from his speech was Corbyn at his most powerful:

The Tories talk about economic and family security being at risk from us the Labour party, or perhaps even more particularly, from me. I say this to them. How dare these people talk about security for families and people in Britain.

Where’s the security for families shuttled around the private rented sector on six month tenancies – with children endlessly having to change schools?  

Where’s the security for those tenants afraid to ask a landlord to fix a dangerous structure in their own homes because they might be evicted because they’ve gone to the local authority to seek the justice they’re entitled to?

Where’s the security for the carers struggling to support older family members as Tory local government cuts destroy social care and take away the help they need?  

Where’s the security for young people starting out on careers knowing they are locked out of any prospect of ever buying their own home by soaring house prices?

Where’s the security for families driven away from their children’s schools, their community and family ties by these welfare cuts?  

Where’s the security for the hundreds of thousands taking on self-employment with uncertain income, no sick pay, no Maternity Pay, no paid leave, no pension now facing the loss of the tax credits that keep them and their families afloat?  

And there’s no security for the 2.8 million households in Britain forced into debt by stagnating wages and the Tory record of the longest fall in living standards since records began.

And that’s the nub of it. Tory economic failure. An economy that works for the few, not for the many….

…It didn’t help our national security that, at the same time I was protesting outside the Iraqi Embassy about Saddam Hussein’s brutality, Tory ministers were secretly conniving with illegal arms sales to his regime.

It didn’t help our national security when we went to war with Iraq in defiance of the United Nations and on a false prospectus.

It didn’t help our national security to endure the loss of hundreds of brave British soldiers in that war while making no proper preparation for what to do after the fall of the regime.

Nor does it help our national security to give such fawning and uncritical support to regimes like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain – who abuse their own citizens and repress democratic rights.

This is the spin Ian Dunt of politics.co.uk put on the speech:

Of all the speeches Jeremy Corbyn could have made, this was the most predictable and the most useless. There was no thematic content, no idea unifying what he was saying, no quality in delivery, no attempt to speak to the public outside the hall, no plan for the future and no sign he is prepared to work with the media to communicate his appeal more widely. It was the speech of someone who either doesn’t care or isn’t capable of speaking to anyone outside of his immediate supporters.

This was the common refrain of many within the wider media establishment spectrum. Clearly Dunt and me both witnessed two completely different speeches.

The vile Laura Kuenssberg from the BBC claimed, without evidence, that Corbyn will have difficulty getting the middle ground voter on-side, implying that his politics are somehow Marxist as opposed to essentially humanist. Kuenssberg’s assertion went unchallenged. So much for the BBCs alleged impartiality. Her tone in all her commentaries on Corbyn thus far have been condescending at best and outright dishonest at worse. But she is far from being alone on that front.

The mainstream media and the establishment elite cannot handle the idea that Corbyn can be both a campaigner and a leader, or that decision making can be a democratic process emanating from the bottom up. They just can’t seem to get to grips with the rapidly changing nature of British politics in 2015. In that regard, the people of Britain are a country mile ahead of a media that is frankly out of touch and becoming increasingly irrelevant as each day passes.

This also explains why people are turning to alternative and social media sources for their information. I think it was a positive move that Corbyn made when he tasked Watson to work on the social media aspect of his campaign which is, of course, important. But equally, we ought not forget that the majority of people in this country still consume their news through traditional methods.

I believe Corbyn can, and will, capture the centre ground because ultimately he is essentially a humanist at heart and humanism is centrist. But you would never believe that after having analysed the media who continue to portray him as “hard left” although that particular epithet is starting to wane. There is currently a campaign doing the rounds that has almost reached the 100,000 signatures required to ensure that, in the name of parity, pressure is put on the BBC to describe Cameron as “hard right.”

If Corbyn does win over the party and eventually get elected as PM, the turn of events will have an uncanny resemblance to the plot line of the brilliant television drama A Very British Coup. Unlike, Being There, such an eventuality would be akin to a situation in which life imitates art. Let ‘Corbynmania’ continue long into the nights and days ahead.

The hawks edge closer to regime change in Syria.

By Daniel Margrain

At 15.42 UK time today in a speech to the U.N General Assembly in New York, President Obama said this:

“[W]e must recognize that there cannot be – after so much bloodshed, so much carnage – a return to the pre-war status quo [in Syria]. Let’s remember how this started. Assad reacted to peaceful protests by escalating repression and killing, and in turn created the environment for the current strife [This is a misrepresentation of the facts]

And so Assad and his allies can’t simply pacify the broad majority of a population who have been brutalized by chemical weapons and indiscriminate bombing [there is no evidence that Assad used chemical weapons, and indiscriminate bombing has been undertaken by all sides including Britain]. Realism… requires a managed transition away from Assad towards a new leader.”

Here Obama alluded to the ‘responsibility to protect’ (R2P) doctrine as the justification for Assad’s overthrow and, in the name of democracy, the bombing of the Syrian people to death. Earlier today at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton, the neocon fanatic, Hilary Benn, was more explicit by actually citing the R2P doctrine by name.

Formulated at the 2005 UN World Summit, the version of R2P currently in vogue and proposed by the [Gareth] Evans Commission, authorises “regional or sub-regional organisations” such as NATO to determine their “area of jurisdiction” and to act in cases where “the Security Council rejects a proposal or fails to deal with it in a reasonable time”.

Often described as an “emerging norm” in international affairs, but in reality has “been considered a norm as far back as we want to go”, R2P has – with the accompaniment of lofty rhetoric about the solemn responsibility to protect suffering populations – been used to illegally overthrow a series of sovereign states, most recently in Libya. On March 18, 2011, the day before NATO launched its assault on that country, Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“On the 23rd February the UN Secretary General cited the reported nature and scale of attacks on civilians as “egregious violations of international and human rights law” and called on the government of Libya to “meet its responsibility to protect its people.”‘

In a Guardian piece, Menzies Campbell, former leader of the Liberal Democrats, and Philippe Sands, professor of law at University College London, commented:

“International law does not require the world to stand by and do nothing as civilians are massacred on the orders of Colonel Gaddafi…”

They added:

“It would be tragic for the Libyan people if the shadow of Iraq were to limit an emerging “responsibility to protect”, the principle that in some circumstances the use of force may be justified to prevent the massive and systematic violation of fundamental human rights.”

The Guardian was not alone in tirelessly promoting R2P as a basis for a Western war in Libya. Also in March 2011, human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson asked in the Independent:

“Will the world stand idly by once Colonel Gaddafi, a man utterly without mercy, starts to deliver on his threat to “fight to the last man and woman” – and, inferentially, to the last child?”

Robertson also discussed the origins and development of R2P, concluding:

“The duty to stop the mass murder of innocents, as best we can, has crystallised to make the use of force by NATO not merely “legitimate” but lawful.”

Why then, were there no calls for the West to intervene in the aftermath of the July 3, 2013 coup in Egypt that overthrew the democratically-elected government predicated on the R2P doctrine? And why hasn’t the doctrine been used to justify intervening in the brutal dictatorial states’ of the Arab Gulf Peninsula? Could it be the case that R2P is merely a euphemism for regime change in countries that are the Wests official enemies?

Craig Murray said as much today on his blog:

“R2P is the Blairite code for supporting United States military and especially bombing missions abroad. The thesis that Western bombing improves and stabilises countries appears tested well beyond destruction, but the neo-cons stick with it because of the corporate interests it does so much to boost.” 

R2P was simply not an issue for the US-UK alliance in Egypt and neither is it an issue for the dictatorships in the Gulf where the said alliance profits from the sale of weapons that are used against protesters who are fighting for the kinds of democracy it claims to be in favour of. Although the majority of leading politicians’ haven’t yet explicitly invoked the R2P rhetoric as a justification to drive the country into another disastrous war in Syria, Prime Minister David Cameron has already gone one step further.

Earlier this month, Cameron cynically exploited the picture of the little drowned boy who fled the city of Kobani which Britain was partly responsible for bombing to pieces. He also responded to the wider humanitarian crisis of mass displacement with a call for a “hard military force” to overthrow Assad and combat ISIS in Syria. The prime minister is working to gain parliamentary support for a potential vote on escalated military action. Earlier today, Cameron argued that there “needs to be a transition from Assad to something else”.

In an open letter released last Saturday actor Mark Rylance, Brian Eno, John Williams, Charlotte Church and other signatories stated:

“Already we have seen the killing of civilians and the exacerbation of a refugee crisis which is largely the product of wars in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan…Cameron is cynically using the refugee crisis to urge more war….He should not be allowed to.” 

Cameron’s propaganda offensives come in the wake of the governments’ failure to get parliamentary approval to launch air strikes against the Assad regime in August 2013 and more recently, the country’s extrajudicial drone assassination of two of its own citizens supposedly in ‘self-defence’, This was despite the fact that Article 51 of the UN charter states that an “armed attack” must take place against a UN member state before any such response.

From the Iraq debacle onward, there has been an attempt by the Western powers to circumvent the consensus view of what constitutes illegality among the world’s leading international lawyers. The individual who has been instrumental in the interpretative reconfiguration of international law for the benefit of Western interests is the international lawyer, Daniel Bethlehem.

Bethlehem had represented Israel before the Mitchell Inquiry into violence against the people of Gaza, arguing that it was all legitimate self-defence. He had also supplied the Government of Israel with a Legal Opinion that the vast Wall they were building in illegally occupied land, surrounding and isolating all the major Palestinian communities and turning them into large prisons, was also legal. Daniel Bethlehem is an extreme Zionist militarist of the most aggressive kind, and close to Mark Regev, Israel’s new Ambassador to the UK.

In contrast to the consensus view of the world’s leading international lawyers, Daniel Bethlehem’s marginal and extremist position is outlined in a memorandum where he ‘develops’ the Caroline Principle. It is this legal conceptual re-evaluation of international law that has come to dominate Western political discourse. A key part of the memorandum states, “It must be right that states are able to act in self-defence in circumstances where there is evidence of further imminent attacks by terrorist groups, even if there is no specific evidence of where such an attack will take place or of the precise nature of the attack.

“It is this minority extremist legal “opinion” that formed the basis for the Iraq invasion. Similarly, it’s almost certainly the case that the same doctrine was used as the justification to murder UK citizens by drone in Syria. The notion that men travelling in a car thousands of miles away were imminently able to wreak havoc in the UK thereby necessitating the need for them to be executed on the spot without trial is obviously ludicrous. Nevertheless, it will almost certainly be Daniel Benjamin, in conjunction with the R2P, that the Western powers will turn to in order to justify the war on the Syrian people.

Fallony

By Daniel Margrain

It’s credit to the Daily Mail for leading with their report about the leaked dossier concerning Alexander Blackman, the Royal Marine serving life for murder. The dossier contains crucial evidence withheld from Alexander Blackman’s court martial into the killing of a mortally wounded Taliban insurgent in Afghanistan.

Military chiefs solely blamed the seargent for the killing. However, the report into the incident says that Blackman’s over-stretched unit was being pushed to be too aggressive, his senior officer was not prepared for the demands of the war zone and that there were signs that Blackman’s unit was cracking up. All these things, the leaked report says, were missed by commander’s.

If not for the investigative work of the Daily Mail who unearthed these details, none of the MOD’s censoring of the admission of command failings in Helmand province would have come to light. What the Mail revealed, in other words, is the fact that the MOD conducted a report into their own actions and put a black line through anything that didn’t make them look good.

It’s report said that the supervision of the commanding officer where Blackman and his men were based was insufficient to identify a number of warning signs that could have indicated that they were showing evidence of moral regression, psychological strain and fatigue. I think you and I would show evidence of moral regression if somebody was shooting at us while we were at work.

The Mail says that this shows that officers were partly responsible for the extreme state that Blackman was in when he pulled the trigger. The report is now going to form a major plank of his battle for justice which was debated in Parliament two days ago. The Mail’s discovery of the full executive summary of the report was followed by minsters’ caving in to demands from Blackman’s lawyers to have confidential access to all its 50 pages. Who is the MOD protecting?

It’s not for the benefit of the country that this report was blacked out. It’s surely for the benefit of pen-pushers in the MOD. “Blackman and his troops were at breaking point”, says the Mail after a “tour from hell in Hellmand province that had seen comrades tortured and killed.” But the Mail investigation discovered that Blackman’s court martial was blocked from hearing the truth about these mitigating circumstances. Had this not been the case, he might of faced a manslaughter charge instead of murder.

The executive summary of the Navy’s report into the shooting that was leaked to the Mail is marked “official-sensitive”. It lays bare how commanders were blind to the psychological strain and fatigue endured by Blackman and his men. The fact that the damning conclusion is blotted out with censors’ black ink illustrates how the UK government refuse to acknowledge that there are any systemic problems within the corridors of power. On the contrary, they have shifted criticism towards how the leak got into the hands of the media in the first place.

Meanwhile, in response to a question from Green Party MP Caroline Lucas about the number of airstrikes undertaken ostensibly against ISIL by the British over the past year. Fallon said the estimated number of ISIL fighters killed as a result of UK strikes from September 2014 to 31 August 2015 is around 330. “This figure is highly approximate, ”he said, not least given the absence of UK ground troops in a position to observe the effects of strike activity.” He added that he believed that no civilians had been injured or killed by such strikes. 

This announcement follows the extrajudicial murder of two British citizens in Syria justified on the highly implausible grounds that the alleged terrorists presented an imminent threat to the population in Britain thousands of miles away. It’s hence an absurdity that the government acted in self-defense. What Fallon’s announcement and the conviction of Blackman for murder highlight is a major contradiction.

Michael Fallon effectively admits that the British government doesn’t have the faintest idea how many people have been killed by British airstrikes in the year up to 31 August 2015. If he doesn’t know how many have been killed, it follows that he doesn’t know who has been killed and in what circumstances. Therefore he is unable to conclude, as he did, that it’s his belief that “no civilians had been injured or killed by such strikes”.

Logically, it’s only possible to claim you are under imminent threat from terrorists if you are able to identify the nature of the said threat and the only way to do that is to be able to identify those who are allegedly threatening you. How then, can the government claim self defense under such vague circumstances? Dropping bombs from a great height in order to supposedly ‘target’ terrorists can never be precise despite the propaganda claims to the contrary. Killing in this way is necessarily indiscriminate.

How can it be justified that officers’ who were partly responsible for the extreme state of mind of one of their underlings and a foreign secretary who oversees them all, get a free pass for murder (in terms of the latter, mass murder), while the guy at the bottom who pulled the trigger as a result of the actions of the said officers that led to his conviction, gets life imprisonment?

It’s reasonable to assume that there are certain circumstances in which somebody on the battlefield who is showing evidence of moral regression, psychological strain and fatigue and whose life would almost always be under imminent threat could be justified in killing an enemy combatant. But it’s impossible to envisage the mitigating circumstances by which it could be justified for others higher up the chain of command who oversee or give orders to somebody else to press a button on a computer screen in order to release bombs from a great height that would, by their very nature, kill large amounts of innocent people indiscriminately within the vicinity of the intended “target”.

Cameron defended the imprisonment of Blackman prior to an intended visit to see the Afghan president, So it would appear that Blackman is the political fall guy in this sorry saga whilst his friend, Fallon, gets off the hook. Blackman was prosecuted so why not Fallon?

Why we’re bombing Iraq and Syria: Obama and Cameron clear up any confusion

You may be confused about why we are bombing Iraq and Syria. So we will make ourselves very clear.

We support the Iraqi government in the fight against ISIS.

We don’t like ISIS, but ISIS has been supported by Saudi Arabia, whom we do like, and Saudi Arabia is now supporting us in bombing ISIS.

We don’t like President Assad in Syria. We support the fight against him, but not ISIS, which is also fighting against him.

We don’t like Iran, but Iran supports the Iraqi government against ISIS.

So some of our friends support our enemies and some of our enemies are our friends, and some of our enemies are fighting against our other enemies whom we want to lose, but we don’t want our enemies who are fighting our enemies to win.

If the people we want to defeat are defeated, they might be replaced by people we like even less.

And all this was started by us invading Iraq to drive out terrorists who weren’t there until we went to drive them out.

We hope you now understand.

Originally posted by Audrey Bailey

 

Will there be a Blairite coup to unseat citizen Corbyn?

By Daniel Margrain

Fantastic result. Now the hard work begins to purge the party hierarchy of the pro-war, pro-big business red Tory Blairites. The opinions of a reinvigorated party membership who propelled Corbyn into the spotlight will be respected so long as Corbyn remains leader. I heard Ken Livingston on LBC say that under Corbyn the party will unify and there will be little signs of any attempts to undermine him.

No sooner had Corbyn’s victory based on clear and unambiguous principles been announced, then a Shadow Frontbencher resigned in protest over those principles. This was shortly followed with threats to resign by other “modernising” Frontbencher’s who vowed to do so on the basis that Corbyn refuses to moderate his “extreme” policies.

Of course, not being a friend of Israel, supporting the nationalisation of the railways and utilities, opposing nuclear weapons and war, opposing the growing wealth gap and supporting the need for a massive affordable house building programme that benefits the mass of the population, are all extreme measures, but bailing out bankers that benefits nobody, is not.

How stupid can Corbyn supporters be?

According to the Daily Mail, among those refusing to serve in his team are current shadow chancellor Chris Leslie, shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt, shadow communities secretary Emma Reynolds and shadow defence secretary Vernon Coaker. Others include shadow transport secretary Michael Dugher, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Shabana Mahmood, shadow international development secretary Mary Creagh and shadow Cabinet Office minister Lucy Powell.

I’m sure the Tories will welcome these unscrupulous careerists with open arms. It will be interesting to see how the triangulated Tory-lite views of the vast majority of designer suited robots in the hall where the result was announced who follow to the letter the scripts of their paymasters and who believe nothing whatsoever in the views espoused by their leader, can be reconciled with Corbyn’s own long-standing principled outlook.

It’s precisely these kinds of principles that has resulted in the regurgitation of the official/media meme which criticises Corbyn for voting against his party 500 times. This is represented as disloyalty. The notion that he might have voted against the Tories, while most of his Blairite colleagues, many of whom are war criminals, voted with them, is quietly forgotten.

Never before have I witnessed such a disconnect between the beliefs of the labour hierarchy on the one hand and those of its leader who carries with him the aspirations and hopes of the people who voted for him on the other. This is not the kind of euphemistic and disingenuous understanding of “aspiration” trotted out by Blairites in which neoliberal economic policy allows the super rich to get even richer, but one in which the basis of policy can give rise to the potential for everybody to get where they want without demonizing those who for whatever reason, don’t.

My fear is that the gap between the ideology represented by the elite within the hierarchy of the party and the multitude of its members is so vast that the void is irreconcilable unless the party is purged of this clique. I suspect that something will have to give as the party moves forward but we will see.

As I type this, Corbyn is protesting on a rally about the terrible treatment of refugees created by Cameron and Blair’s wars. Could, you dear reader, have ever imagined any of his predecessors post-Michael Foot doing that?

The idea that a highly principled leader of a party who espouses peace and reconciliation at every given opportunity, can reconcile two diametrically opposing forces seems to me to be a bridge too far. I hope I’m proven wrong.

Is the BBCs Ian Pannell complicit in crude anti-Syrian propaganda?

By Daniel Margrain

This is Ian Pannell’s latest BBC report on Syrian chemical weapon use (September 10) allegedly by the Syrian government. Apparently this is yet more evidence of chemical attacks.

I want to declare from the outset that I am not a conspiracy theorist. That’s not to say, historically, there have not been genuine conspiracies’ undertaken by the state against adversaries that have served the political agendas of their protagonists.These have come in many guises from false flag attacks such as the Russian apartment bombings in 1999, the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964 and the nurse Nayirah affair in 1990.

After having studied the contents of Robert Stuart’s blog in which he has meticulously and tenaciously examined the September 30, 2013 edition of the BBC Panorama documentary, ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ and other related BBC news reports by presenter Ian Pannell and cameraman Darren Conway, Stuart has attempted, without much success, to negotiate around its Orwellian complaints procedure.

Pannell’s reports’ appeared peak time on BBC TV a few days after the attack in Ghouta and were seemingly intended as a propaganda tool in the prelude to war. After having studied Pannell’s work and Stuart’s detailed analysis, it’s impossible to disagree with journalist Jonathan Cook who said that we, the news consumers, “are being constantly spun by the media machine that’s the modern equivalent of “soma”, the drug in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World that its citizens were fed to keep them docile and happy.” 

What the Panorama documentary and related reports actually illustrate, in line with Chomsky and Herman’s Propaganda Model, is the media’s apparent ability to be able to keep many of us in a state of perpetual hypnosis. Stuart contends that sequences filmed by BBC staff and others at Atareb Hospital, Aleppo on 26 August 2013 purporting to show the aftermath of an incendiary bomb attack on a school in Urm Al-Kubra are largely, if not entirely, staged.

Scenes from the documentary were shown as part of a brief BBC News at Ten broadcast report by Pannell and Conway which contained harrowing scenes of teenage boys and young men, their skin apparently in tatters, racing into what the report describes as “a basic hospital funded by handouts” to be treated for burns. In one particularly disturbing scene a tableau of young men writhe, drool and groan, seemingly in great distress.

My first impression after having seen the film was that it was totally contrived and staffed by actors. What initially led me to this conclusion were the actions of the central figure, Mohammed Asi, who looked directly into the camera for several moments before raising his arm, at which point the group around him instantly became animated before moaning in unison.

Many other anomalies and contradictions too numerous to mention here in detail were evident throughout the Panorama documentary and the related reports’. These included conflicting and contradictory accounts, a “victim” who appeared to be grinning, implausible demeanours’ of alleged victims, questions as to the authenticity of the alleged burns to victims by experienced doctors, apparent choreographed behaviour, unconvincing injuries and testimonies’ that challenge the BBC version of events.

But perhaps the most controversial aspect of all was the participation of Dr. Rola Hallam who appeared anonymously to report on the aftermath of another attack in Syria. Her emotional call for humanitarian intervention in the shape of bombs drew parallels with “Nurse Nayirah“‘s lies to the Congressional Human Rights Caucus in the run up to the US vote on the 1990-91 Gulf War.

But arguably most significantly of all, in a report headlined BBC Crew returns to Aleppo on 30 September 2013, rehashed footage from the original programme was aired again. The BBC explains “In a special edition, Panorama travels with British doctors inside Syria to exclusively reveal the devastating impact of the war on children caught in the conflict”  It is a heart-rending report of the suffering of the Syrian people, made so as to demonise the Syrian government.

Close inspection of the two different versions reveals that there were actually two or more takes of this scene.  The easiest tell is the arm position of the man in the fluorescent jacket next to the doctor.

If Dr Rola was as “overwhelmed” as the video claims, why take time off to do multiple almost identical takes of an interview?

The BBC portrayed this as a live action piece with casualties being rushed in. But clearly this is nonsense given that it must of been rehearsed because several takes were done. Furthermore, nobody else in the courtyard is wearing a face mask. One would have thought that if the doctor had time for various takes she would also have time to take her mask off to talk to camera.

Both Panorama programmes talk of two British female doctors, “volunteers for the Charity Hand-in-Hand-for Syria“, suspected to be Dr Rola Hallam and Dr Saleyha Ahsan. The BBC did not mention the backgrounds of either of the “charitable volunteers”. Dr Rola’s connections to the SNO and FSA and the fact that she was shilling for military action under medical/charitable/ altruistic volunteer credentials, all of which the BBC clearly understood but deliberately witheld from the viewer.

Her father is Dr Mousa al-Kurdi, a senior SNO member – who actually taught Assad at university; the Dep leader of the FSA is Col Malik al-Kurdi. Her on-site colleague is a former Captain in the British Army Medical Corps. There is plenty of other clear corroborating evidence of her support for the rebellion too.

All of it was hidden by the BBC who gave the impression she is just an ordinary doctor with selfless humanitarian concerns and plays to the Western interventionist agenda perfectly.

The BBC has not addressed any of the legitimate issues raised. All of the anomalies and contradictions call into question the authenticity of the entire alleged attack. George Galloway said:

The Bush-Blair Corporation as it became known leading up to the Iraq war has lost almost all journalistic integrity. A full inquiry must be launched into why the BBC used a piece of material that was not just wrong but was falsified…for the purpose of propelling our country into war. That’s not what the British public pays its TV license for so that it can be tricked into a war

It’s my view that it’s probable some kind of chemical attack did indeed take place but in a different location to the one depicted but the BBC embellished, fabricated and falsified the aftermath for propaganda purposes. The claims made throughout were that the Assad regime was responsible for the alleged attack despite the fact that there is no evidence supporting the assertion that he was responsible for the chemical attacks in Ghouta in the suburbs of Damascus on September 16 prior to the BBC documentary.

What both Pannell’s latest BBC report and Jonathan Rugman’s recent piece for Channel 4 News before that highlight, is that once again, the British public is being conditioned for war. Two years ago, when the majority of MPs voted against intervention in Syria, would seem to suggest that MPs were sensitive to the views of a highly sceptical and hostile public. But Cameron’s cynical exploitation of the little boy found washed up dead on a Turkish beach, might change all that.

Daniel Bethlehem, ‘The Propaganda Model’ and drones.

By Daniel Margrain

In their bookManufacturing Consent The Political Economy of the Mass Media’ (Pantheon, 1988), Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky set out their “propaganda model of media control” to examine the structural factors that lead to systematic behaviour and performance patterns within the media that are largely predicated on restricted assumptions and the dependence on an uncritical use of elite information sources helpful to elite interests.

In identifying these “structural factors”, Herman and Chomsky list five news “filters” through which “money and power are able to filter out the news fit to print, marginalize dissent, and allow the government and dominant private interests to get their messages across to the public” (p.2).

Herman says:

“The crucial structural factors derive from the fact that the dominant media are firmly imbedded in the market system. They are profit-seeking businesses, owned by very wealthy people (or other companies); they are funded largely by advertisers who are also profit-seeking entities, and who want their ads to appear in a supportive selling environment. The media are also dependent on government and major business firms as information sources, and both efficiency and political considerations, and frequently overlapping interests, cause a certain degree of solidarity to prevail among the government, major media, and other corporate businesses.

“Government and large non-media business firms are also best positioned (and sufficiently wealthy) to be able to pressure the media with threats of withdrawal of advertising or TV licenses, libel suits, and other direct and indirect modes of attack. The media are also constrained by the dominant ideology, which heavily featured anticommunism before and during the Cold War era, and was mobilized often to prevent the media from criticizing attacks on small states labelled communist. 

“These factors are linked together, reflecting the multi-levelled capability of powerful business and government entities and collectives (e.g., the Business Roundtable; U.S. Chamber of Commerce; industry lobbies and front groups) to exert power over the flow of information.”

Notice that the propaganda model is not a conspiracy theory. Herman and Chomsky write:

“We do not use any kind of ‘conspiracy’ hypothesis to explain mass media performance. Our treatment is much closer to a ‘free market’ analysis, with the results largely an outcome of the workings of market forces.” 

The lack of any meaningful political opposition from a legal standpoint to the killing by the UK government of two British citizens, Reyaad Khan and Ruhul Amin on,August 21 by an unmanned aerial drone in Syria, highlights the relevance of the Chomsky/Herman model in terms of the establishment acceptance of the consensus around the reconfiguration of international law that serves elite interests.

No evidence has been produced that supports the government assertion that these individuals were planning terror attacks in the UK or that they had participated in previous terror attacks. So what is the supposed legal basis for the killings?

Cameron said the UK had taken action in “self-defence”, invoking the right to do so under Article 51 of the UN charter – but Article 51 specifically states that an “armed attack” must take place against a UN member state before any such response. So where did the government base its decision to execute by drone two British men in Syria?

According to former establishment ‘insider’, Craig Murray, the decision was based on “Legal Opinion” from the Attorney-General for England and Wales, Jeremy Wright, a politician, MP and Cabinet Minister. But, as Murray points out, Wright’s legal knowledge comes from an undistinguished first degree from Exeter and a short career as a criminal defence barrister in Birmingham. His knowledge of public international law is virtually nil.

So Jeremy Wright’s role is as a cypher. He performs a charade. Ever since Iraq, whenever the government has needed a legal opinion in order to support a military action it has done so by utilizing the legal opinions of lawyers who are sympathetic to the government position so that the legal case can, if necessary, be adjusted to the policy. When the government don’t get the kind of legal opinion they require in order to justify an action, they ignore it or, as was the case with the Iraq debacle, they dismissed the relevant chief legal adviser which was at that time, Sir Michael Wood for declaring the Iraq war to be illegal.

The consensus from Iraq on has been to appoint legal advisers not from within the Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) but to use public international lawyers from outside in order to save any government of the day that happens to be in power from any potential future embarrassment. Thus, Blair and Straw turned to Benjamin Netanyahu’s favourite ‘safe pair of hands’ lawyer, Daniel Bethlehem.

Murray elucidates further on one of the establishments’ most trusted liars:

Daniel Bethlehem had represented Israel before the Mitchell Inquiry into violence against the people of Gaza, arguing that it was all legitimate self-defence. He had also supplied the Government of Israel with a Legal Opinion that the vast Wall they were building in illegally occupied land, surrounding and isolating all the major Palestinian communities and turning them into large prisons, was also legal. Daniel Bethlehem, who was appointed by Blair as the FCO chief legal adviser, is an extreme Zionist militarist of the most aggressive kind, and close to Mark Regev, Israel’s new Ambassador to the UK.

The consensus view among the world’s leading international lawyers is that the Iraq war was illegal. Daniel Bethlehem’s contrary extremist position as outlined in a memorandum where he ‘develops’ the Caroline Principle, is one in which he posits that States’ have the right to use pre-emptive self-defence, is a minority view – the equivalent of a climate scientist arguing that man made climate change is a fraud.

It’s a minority view that’s nevertheless the consensus position within the UK political establishment. A key part of the memorandum states:

“It must be right that states are able to act in self-defence in circumstances where there is evidence of further imminent attacks by terrorist groups, even if there is no specific evidence of where such an attack will take place or of the precise nature of the attack.”

“It was this minority legal ‘opinion’ that formed the basis for the Iraq invasion. Similarly, it’s almost certainly the case that the same doctrine was used as the justification to murder UK citizens by drone in Syria. The notion that men travelling in a car thousands of miles away were imminently able to wreak havoc in the UK thereby necessitating the need for them to be executed on the spot without trial is obviously ludicrous.

Craig Murray reiterates how Herman and Chomsky’s propaganda model works in practice within the corridors of power:

It was New Labour, the Red Tories, who appointed Daniel Bethlehem, and they appointed him precisely in order to establish this doctrine. It is therefore a stunning illustration of how the system works, that the only response of the official “opposition” to these extrajudicial executions is to demand to see the Legal Opinion, when it comes from the man they themselves appointed. The Red Tories appointed him precisely because they knew what Legal Opinion would be given on this specific subject. They can read it in Hansard.

So it is all a charade.

Jeremy Wright pretends to give a Legal Opinion, actually from FCO legal advisers based on the “Bethlehem Doctrine”. The Labour Party pretends, very unconvincingly, to be an opposition. The Guardian, apparently the leading “opposition” intellectual paper, publishes articles by its staff neo-con propagandists Joshua Rozenberg (married to Melanie Phillips) and Rafael Behr strongly supporting the government’s new powers of extrajudicial execution. In summer 2012 Joshua Rozenberg presented a programme on BBC Radio 4 entitled “Secret courts, drones and international law” which consisted mostly of a fawning interview with … Daniel Bethlehem. The BBC and Sky News give us wall to wall justification of the killings.

So the state, with its neo-con “opposition” and media closely in step with its neo-con government, seamlessly adopts a new power to kill its own subjects based on secret intelligence and secret legal advice, and a very weird definition of “imminent” that even its author admits to be outside current legal understanding.

The Foundations For War In Syria Have Already Been Laid

By Daniel Margrain

In my previous post (September 7), I highlighted how the West, with the support of the mass media, is softening the public up for yet another illegal military intervention in a sovereign state, this time in Syria. The propaganda was ramped up following the recent repugnant Sun front page and middle spread.

Although the war hasn’t official started, the flames that are fanning it certainly have. Professor Michel Chossudovsky has argued that the foundations and pretext for war were laid over four years ago on 17-18 March, 2011 following demonstrations in a small border town of 75,000 inhabitants, on the Syrian Jordanian border called Daraa.  Chossudovsky highlights Israeli and Lebanese news reports that outline the same version of events which is as follows:

Seven police officers and at least four demonstrators in Syria have been killed in continuing violent clashes that erupted in the southern town of Daraa last Thursday.

…. On Friday police opened fire on armed protesters killing four and injuring as many as 100 others. According to one witness, who spoke to the press on condition of anonymity, “They used live ammunition immediately — no tear gas or anything else.”

…. In an uncharacteristic gesture intended to ease tensions the government offered to release the detained students, but seven police officers were killed, and the Baath Party Headquarters and courthouse were torched, in renewed violence on Sunday.(Gavriel Queenann, Syria: Seven Police Killed, Buildings Torched in Protests, Israel National News, Arutz Sheva, March 21, 2011, emphasis added)

The Lebanese news report, quoting various sources, also acknowledges the killings of seven policemen in Daraa: They were killed  “during clashes between the security forces and protesters… They got killed trying to drive away protesters during demonstration in Dara’a” 

The Lebanese Ya Libnan report quoting Al Jazeera also acknowledged that protesters had “burned the headquarters of the Baath Party and the court house in Dara’a”  (emphasis added)

These news reports of the events in Daraa confirm the following:

1. This was not a “peaceful protest” as claimed by the Western media. Several of the “demonstrators” had fire arms and were using them against the police:  “The police opened fire on armed protesters killing four”.

2. From the initial casualty figures (Israel News), there were more policemen than demonstrators who were killed:  7 policemen killed versus 4 demonstrators. This is significant because it suggests that the police force might have been initially outnumbered by a well organized armed gang. According to Syrian media sources, there were also snipers on rooftops which were shooting at both the police and the protesters.

Chossudovsky asserts:

“What is clear from these initial reports is that many of the demonstrators were not demonstrators but terrorists involved in premeditated acts of killing and arson….The Daraa “protest movement” on March 18 had all the appearances of a staged event involving, in all likelihood, covert support to Islamic terrorists by Mossad and/or Western intelligence. Government sources point to the role of radical Salafist groups (supported by Israel).Other reports have pointed to the role of Saudi Arabia in financing the protest movement.

Clearly, the violence was not part of the Arab Spring in Egypt and Tunisia depicted by the media because, unlike those two countries,’ Assad garners considerable popular support among his people illustrated by the large rally in Damascus on March 29, which, according to Reuters, was attended by “tens of thousands of supporters”.Even the The New York Times in June 2011 and USA Today in October 2011 respectively, conceded that Assad commands wide popular support in his country.

But there are other indications that the hawks are pushing for an all out war in Syria..According to a report in the Washington Post, the US has been “intervening” in the Syrian civil war, in measurable and significant ways, since at least 2012—most notably by arming, funding and training anti-Assad forces::

At $1 billion, Syria-related operations account for about $1 of every $15 in the CIA’s overall budget, judging by spending levels revealed in documents obtained from former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

US officials said the CIA has trained and equipped nearly 10,000 fighters sent into Syria over the past several years — meaning that the agency is spending roughly $100,000 per year for every anti-Assad rebel who has gone through the program.

In addition to this, the Obama administration has engaged in crippling sanctions against the Assad government, provided air support for those looking to depose him, incidentally funneled arms to ISIS, and not incidentally aligned the CIA-backed Free Syrian Army with Al Qaeda.

All this must be seen against a backdrop in which Rupert Murdoch is pushing hard for war as former UK Ambassador, Craig Murray’s article, initially outlined in February 2013 and reiterated again yesterday (September 7), makes clear. According to sources Murray has unearthed, “Israel has granted oil exploration rights inside Syria, in the occupied Golan Heights, to Genie Energy. Major shareholders of Genie Energy – which also has interests in shale gas in the United States and shale oil in Israel – include Rupert Murdoch and Lord Jacob Rothschild. This from a 2010 Genie Energy press release:

Claude Pupkin, CEO of Genie Oil and Gas, commented, “Genie’s success will ultimately depend, in part, on access to the expertise of the oil and gas industry and to the financial markets. Jacob Rothschild and Rupert Murdoch are extremely well regarded by and connected to leaders in these sectors. Their guidance and participation will prove invaluable.”

“I am grateful to Howard Jonas and IDT for the opportunity to invest in this important initiative,” Lord Rothschild said. “Rupert Murdoch’s extraordinary achievements speak for themselves and we are very pleased he has agreed to be our partner. Genie Energy is making good technological progress to tap the world’s substantial oil shale deposits which could transform the future prospects of Israel, the Middle East and our allies around the world.”

So it would appear that the real reason why the hawks seem determined to rain bombs down on the Syrian people is because Israel wants (illegally) to seek to exploit mineral reserves in the occupied Golan Heights for which Rothschild and Murdoch have major controlling interests.

Political Commentator and “raving Zionist looney”, Charlie Wolf when asked by the host of a BBC Radio 5 programme how he would solve the refugee crisis, said: “We should get in there now and Bomb them! Kill them all! Kill them all!” At least he’s honest and transparent. The unmanned drone strikes that killed two British citizens, is a portent of what’s to come.

“Compassion” then illegal regime change

By Daniel Margrain
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 In case you thought the political-media response to the little boy on the beach was about compassion…
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Manufacturing Consent, Propaganda And The Climate Denial Beast

 


“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”—Edward Bernays, Propaganda

A seminal and controversial figure in the history of political thought and public relations, Edward Bernays (1891–1995), pioneered the scientific technique of shaping and manipulating public opinion, which he famously dubbed “engineering of consent.”

His 1928 bombshell Propaganda lays out his eerily prescient vision for using propaganda to regiment the collective mind in a variety of areas, including government, politics, art, science and education. To read this book today is to frightfully comprehend what our contemporary institutions of government and business have become in regards to organized manipulation of the masses.