Iran

Judge Jeanine(‘s sanity)

Regular readers or listeners to the podcasts will know that I am by no means a fan of the political output of the BBC.

At least they haven’t gone this far yet though.

However, stay with the Union and BBC or not,  you’ll probably be forced to go along with the decisions that people like this put on the table in American politics, and the BBC will find a more cerebral, but equally wrong, justification for the madness.

But if you haven’t seen this yet, on a more simple note, wow, just wow…

 

 

 

 

BBC SHOWS OVERWHELMING SYMPATHY

So imagine, a bomb has gone off in a UK army base. 18 people were killed. The Ministry of Defence says that it was an accidental explosion in a munitions store. Would the BBC produce the following report…?

LATEST: Eighteen members of the UK’s elite forces die in an ‘accidental’ blast at an army base

An explosion at a base belonging to elite UK forces has killed 18 people and injured 14.

Reports are emerging of the blast at an ammunitions store on Tuesday at the —————– base.

The injured were taken to ——————–, 300 miles (500 km) southwest of of the base.

An elite military force, the XXXXX XXXXXX legion was set up in the 18th century and has since been used to defend and enforce the UK’s military empire and capitalist system.

It has also since become a major military, political and economic force in the UK.

Call me an old skeptic but I think in tone and content if this happened in the UK the story would be very different, even though it happened not long ago and the details were sketchy. The above would be considered heartless and extremely controversial.

Instead, we would hear about the tragedy, about the families being contacted, about the brave soldiers and so on. This would be interspersed with coverage about the things that servicemen do daily to protect our freedoms etc.

So why did I write the above alternative report then?

Well, the truth is that I didn’t write it. I just changed a few words from a story on the BBC about something that happened in Iran yesterday. I am only illustrating the difference in coverage from state heroes to state enemies. The same tragedy would be represented as a tragedy in one case with a full 21 gun salute and on the other side it is a straight bit of reportage with anything that would make the dead seem human not included.

The original BBC report is below. The first headline with the inverted commas comes from the little LATEST line that goes across the top of the page…

LATEST:Eighteen members of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard die in an ‘accidental’ blast at an army base

Blast at Iran Revolutionary Guards base kills 18

An explosion at a base belonging to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards has killed 18 people and injured 14.

Reports are emerging of the blast at an ammunitions store on Tuesday in north-western Lorestan province.

The injured were taken to Khoramabad, 300 miles (500 km) southwest of Tehran.

An elite military force, the Revolutionary Guard was set up shortly after the 1979 Iranian revolution to defend the country’s Islamic system.

It has since become a major military, political and economic force in Iran.

PODCAST TWO

In this one I speak with Professor David Miller of the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland.

David Miller is the author/co-author/editor of several books including “A Century of Spin: How Public Relations Became the cutting Edge of Corporate Power” and “TELL ME LIES. Propaganda and Media Distortion in the Attack on Iraq.” He is also the co-founder of http://www.spinwatch.org and http://www.spinprofiles.org. He occasionally appears on the BBC too,  including this rather amusing one from Newsnight.

In fact, in this podcast we discuss the BBC, it’s history and origins, how it has been controlled and manipulated by governments and how all this fits into the wider media context.

I hope the production is a little better on this one than the last.

If you go to THIS LINK HERE then you can listen to it online or download it as an mp3. You want the VBR MP3 link where it says ‘Audio Files’.

You can also LISTEN ONLINE HERE

Hope you like it and thank to ourmedia.org for making a great little service.

HOW TO DEAL WITH AHMADINEJAD

Looking at the world news over the last few days I have noticed two major problems.

1. America wants to bomb Iran but can’t seem to convince as many people as they want that it is a good idea.

2. Ahmadinejad says there are no gays in Iran.

Then I noticed that the IgNobel awards were given out this week and that the solution was right there.

You see, since the Iranian president said what he said I am convinced there have been lots of reporters ferreting (careful!) around in Iran looking for a gay scene to disprove his comments.

Well why go to all that trouble when you can just hit them with a ‘Gay Bomb’.

The device (not yet perfected) was the winner of the IgNobel peace prize. Apparently when deployed it will be able to make enemy soldiers irresistibly attracted to one another and therefore unable to fight.  

This could give the desired effect of proving Ahmadinejad to be a liar and allow the US to carry out the raids it so desperately wants to.

From the BBC…

‘Gay bomb’ scoops Ig Nobel award

Pioneering research into a “gay bomb” that makes enemy troops “sexually irresistible” to each other has scooped one of this year’s Ig Nobel Prizes.

Other winners included work on treating hamster jetlag with impotency drugs, extracting vanilla from cow dung, and the side-effects of sword swallowing.

The awards, founded in 1991, mark achievements that “first make people laugh, and then make them think”.

The prize ceremony took place at Harvard University, US.

Genuine Nobel Laureates handed out the much-coveted awards to the winners, who took away no cash, but instead received a hand-made prize, a certificate, and, of course, the glory of such an illustrious win.

Sword effects

Dan Meyer, executive director of Sword Swallowing Association International and an author of the British Medical Journal paper Sword Swallowing and its Side-Effects, said: “I was surprised and extremely honoured when I found out I was not only nominated for an Ig Nobel prize but that I had won it. I couldn’t believe it.”

He told the BBC News website that the study revealed that when professional sword swallowers ingested a single sword very carefully, it did not do much harm, but swallowing many swords, strangely shaped blades, or being distracted when swallowing, could cause injury.

The findings also suggested that sword swallowers should not swallow swords if they already had a sore throat, he said.

Unfortunately, said the organisers, nobody from the US military who carried out the research on chemicals that could prompt homosexual dalliances amongst rival troops (a research project called Harassing, Annoying and “Bad Guy” Identifying Chemicals) attended the ceremony because the study’s authors could not be tracked down.

Real research

The Ig Nobel Prizes were created by the Annals of Improbable Research (AIR), a science magazine.

The awards, now in their 17th year, are intended to “celebrate the unusual, honour the imaginative – and spur people’s interest in science, medicine and technology”.

Marc Abrahams, the editor of AIR, told the BBC News website: “When I became the editor of a science magazine, suddenly I was meeting all kinds of people who had done things that were hard to describe, and for the most part, nobody had ever heard of.

“For some of them, it seemed a great shame that nobody would give them any kind of recognition, and that was what really led to the birth of the Ig Nobels.”

Like their more sober counterpart, the Nobel Prizes, the Ig Nobels are split into several categories and all research is real and published.

2007 Ig Nobel Winners

Medicine – Brain Witcombe, of Gloucestershire Royal NHS Foundation Trust, UK, and Dan Meyer for their probing work on the health consequences of swallowing a sword.

Physics – A US-Chile team who ironed out the problem of how sheets become wrinkled.

Biology – Dr Johanna van Bronswijk of the Netherlands for carrying out a creepy crawly census of all of the mites, insects, spiders, ferns and fungi that share our beds.

Chemistry – Mayu Yamamoto, from Japan, for developing a method to extract vanilla fragrance and flavouring from cow dung.

Linguistics – A University of Barcelona team for showing that rats are unable to tell the difference between a person speaking Japanese backwards and somebody speaking Dutch backwards.

Literature – Glenda Browne of Blue Mountains, Australia, for her study of the word “the”, and how it can flummox those trying to put things into alphabetical order.

Peace – The US Air Force Wright Laboratory for instigating research and development on a chemical weapon that would provoke widespread homosexual behaviour among enemy troops.

Nutrition – Brian Wansink of Cornell University for investigating the limits of human appetite by feeding volunteers a self-refilling, “bottomless” bowl of soup.

Economics – Kuo Cheng Hsieh of Taiwan for patenting a device that can catch bank robbers by dropping a net over them.

Aviation – A National University of Quilmes, Argentina, team for discovering that impotency drugs can help hamsters to recover from jet lag.

NEW BIN LADEN VIDEO

Haven’t seen it, not particularly interested or frightened.

However this old video about tracking down Bin Laden is hilarious.

Here is my review of it which was published over at spinwatch and the video is below.

OSAMA AND US – Jamie Campbell and Joel Wilson

If you know your Shakespeare well you are doing better than I am. If you know it a bit you will know enough to know that the jesters are very often the cleverest people in the play.

This film is another example of this.

At first glance Hans Blix, Ari Fleischer, Noam Chomsky don’t have that much in common. Even at second glance they don’t, apart from having silly names. What they do have in common is that they were duped by a sacked daytime TV producer (Joel Wilson) and an unsuccessful writer (Jamie Campbell) into appearing in one of the funniest things I have ever seen.

If you add Abu Hamza, Giovanni Di Stefano, Abdel Bari Atwan, the preacher from Dubya’s local Baptist church and plenty others into the mix you end up with something very amusing and insightful.

It was made in 2003, before the war started. The premise is that said writer and sacked TV producer need money so decide to go and find Osama Bin Laden in order to claim the 25 million dollar reward. Figuring that most conventional intelligence tactics are already being used, they determine to think outside the box and find him by unconventional means. In this cause they decide to “get behind the beard of the man and find out what really makes him tick”.

This was after their initial idea of phoning directory inquiries and asking for the “axis of evil” did not bring results. Unsuccessful yet unperturbed they carry on and begin to speak to a familiar group of people, many of whom have met bin Laden.

Rather than looking in the Tora Bora they begin in London. They first call on Abdel Bari Atwan (the editor of the UK’s largest Muslim Newspaper) with whom they discuss Bin Laden’s speciality dish of skimmed processed cheese “from basic milk…I was appalled” says Bari Atwan. He also believes bin Laden to be a master of disguise and said he would not be surprised if Bin Laden is in America wearing an Armani suit.

They move on Tavistock in Devon where they speak to his former schoolteacher Brian Fyfield-Shayler, who says he feels protective of all his students and on hearing Bin Laden was first in trouble thought “you silly sod”. He believes that “we in the West should be looking at what can turn and ordinary…a fairly ordinary… pleasant young man with perhaps a few little quirks into such a person”

Armed with their possible American link (from Bari Atwan) they head to Portland, where Mohammed Atta spent the evening. They spend the evening setting traps with processed cheese to see if this entices Bin Laden out of hiding – in doing this they are actually assisted by the hotel staff.

The bizarre questions and metaphors they come up with during their interviews are consistently funny and although some of their guests are suspicious of what it is all about none of them really catch on. It was broadcast on Channel 4, which might explain the access they manage to get. They are in the Whitehouse press conference, the United Nations (where they doorstep Hans Blix) and they get into trouble very near Bush’s ranch, long before Cindy Sheehan did the same thing.

Neocon author (and member of the American Enterprise Institute) Michael Ladine is next and he thinks (or says that he thinks) Bin Laden is in Iran. He says it is a mistake to call it war and it should rather be called ‘Democratic Revolution’. He is further convinced that what is going on is…

“like the movie ‘the Godfather’. Under normal circumstances mafia families fight with each other – even kill one another over turf and territory and honour and all kinds of things. When the government comes after them the heads of the five families sit down around the table and they make a war plan.”

From this point it has all become too clear to the investigators “Osama, Saddam, Kim Jong-Il, somewhere they were all sitting together, eating spaghetti and mumbling incoherently.”

Although they are being funny with everyone they interview some people do say some rather striking things. Robert Baer, the resigned CIA operative said that he could find Bin Laden within in a month but that it would need the cooperation of the Middle-Eastern governments and that is unlikely to be arriving any time soon. He is not however convinced that catching bin Laden would make any difference.

There are also a couple of voxpops where they have used photoshop to remove Bin Laden’s beard and ask the public if they recognise who it is. One person only wanted to say “I’m not snitching”.

They go to a church where Bush apparently worships. The preacher is making a tirade against homosexuality (apparently gay people are “senseless, faithless, heartless and ruthless”). Also, apparently we all either love god, or we hate god. You are with us or you are against… come on, you know this tune!

It really is a fantastic piece and covers other topics like the relationship of the Bush’s and the Bin Laden’s, the Carlyle group and more. I don’t want to spoil all the jokes and I have only mentioned a few here.

I also don’t want to spoil where there investigations take them and the grand finale.

Watch this, it is hilarious.

THE SEVEN DEADLY SPINS

What with the propaganda building up for an attack on Iran I thought it was timely to post a review of a book I did a while ago.

I think the main theories of the book would hold good for what is going on this time as well…

The Seven Deadly Spins – by Mickey Z

“Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit atrocities”  – Voltaire

There have been quite a few pseudo-social science books out lately – effectively polemics with footnotes. A book like this, where the material has to be written in such a way as to fit the title, can’t lay claim to the sort of analysis that you (might) find in a social science textbook – despite the extensive referencing. Then again, why should it? The majority of people do not read textbooks.  It’s a book and the only qualification should be if it’s a good book and it makes a point or not. This is a good book.

 

It’s written chronologically but does not begin with a particular date or war and then carry on to the next conflict. The first deadly spin is what we would expect to find official sources saying before or at the beginning of hostilities and the last deadly spin is what happens after the battle – it doesn’t really matter which conflict it is. The main thrust of the book is to illustrate that the same swindles, misrepresentations and downright lies have been used for hundreds of years. The episodic style of news reporting means that dissenting voices can also fall into this trap and would do well to try and avoid it. Napoleon said that it is not necessary to falsify the news, merely to delay to bad news until it no longer matters. If those who object to certain actions or reports are forced into a cycle of action and reaction then the bigger picture gets lost.

 

Too often wars, events or spins are reported as single issues. What Mickey Z is saying (correctly) is that the same spins are consistently used but given an update or changed to suit wherever the fighting is taking place. He has written this book to illustrate that governments have been crying wolf for years and yet most of us still fall for it.

 

If events are put in a clearer historical context issues could be better illuminated. As David Barsamian says “What the media do nationally is to create an amnesiac-like feeling – there’s no context for actions, there’s no background; there’s no history. Things just happen”.

 

Of all the criticisms of the mainstream media’s reporting of Iraq one of the most consistent complaints was the lack of background and context in the reports (e.g. who put Saddam in power, gave him weapons etc etc). The resources of the major media allow them to put forth viewpoints pervasively and persuasively. Objectors are then forced into reaction on minor issues. There is not always time to put things into a larger context. If the dissenters win on a particular issue then the next spin is always prepared and ready to go. First it was WMD’s and that was exposed so then it moved to WMD programmes, that didn’t work so then it was to remove Saddam and so on.

 

Mickey Z has put context and background into the spin surrounding these wars. In Iraq ‘Bad intelligence’ is the excuse after the fact. Compare this to the ‘bomber gap’ under Eisenhower – subsequently it was discovered that the gap was heavily in favour of the US. The excuse given a few years later was bad intelligence. A few years on and it was the missile gap under Kennedy. Roughly the same ‘problem’, exactly the same excuse. The Gulf of Tonkin incident was subsequently revealed to have rested on ‘bad intelligence’. If we analyse a single piece of spin, counter-spin or commentary about Iraq or any other war we only see one lie or misrepresentation and then the reaction to it (if we are looking).

 

 

Here are four lines from various journalists and officials that are quoted in the book. I have removed names, dates and places and it becomes almost impossible to tell which war is being discussed.

 

  1. The story of the crucial role of US and European business in saving and establishing the ——- dictatorship in ——- has remained relatively unknown to the general public in spite of the voluminous documentation.

 

  1. Behind the marines came legions of US businesses, ready not only to sell their goods but also [..]drill oil wells, and stake out mining claims.

 

 

  1. Our soldiers here and there resort to terrible measures with the natives. Captains and lieutenants are sometimes judges, sheriffs and executioners. ‘I don’t want any more prisoners sent into ——–’ was the verbal order [..] three months ago. It is now the custom to avenge the death of an American soldier by burning to the ground all the houses, and killing right and left the natives who are only suspects.

 

  1. The United States wished things to turn out as they did, and I worked to bring this about. The Department of State desired that the United Nations prove utterly ineffective in whatever measures it undertook. This task was given to me, and I carried it forward with no inconsiderable success.

 

Although I have picked some of these so as to be deliberately misleading it may come as a surprise that number one is referring to “establishing the Leninist dictatorship in Russia”. Two is referring to a range of conflicts in Latin America, three is about the Philippines (Manila is the missing word) and four, although it could be a look into the future when/if John Bolton gets the UN job, is referring to the massacres in East Timor.

 

For someone who has studied the propaganda system this book will not provide many massive new insights but it will provide some interesting examples, after all, there are so many around that one cannot possibly know them all. One such is the attempt to discredit Indonesian President Sukarno (not to be confused with General Suharto) by making a realistic mask with his features and hiring a porn actor to play him fooling around with a supposed Soviet mistress. Although this never got past the planning stage it is illustrative of the sort of full on media assault that tends to run concurrently with military and/or covert operations: there would be no point in making such a film if you didn’t already know you had a compliant media ready to publicise the propaganda and take your side.

 

 

It’s a good introduction for people who do not know too much about these issues and it’s a good refresher course with some funny bits for those who think they do. I like the idea of arguing back not on the supposed morality or otherwise of any given operation but by simply saying “they have said this before and this is what really happened”. This may be worth bearing in mind if Scott Ritter’s assertions that something is going to happen in Iran soon are correct. This is Mickey Z’s fifth book and I am going to have a look at the others.

 

http://www.mickeyz.net/

OUCH

I just got out of hospital and am typing one-handed. I may or may not have an interesting story to tell you about it tomorrow depending how I am getting on with it.

No partying for me this weekend.. *sigh*

Anyway, in the meantime, I have previously mentioned that I write and do some work for www.spinwatch.org . Here is one of my fellow spinwatchers on the BBC.