April Fool: A man in Jalawla walked into a bar…

Medialens spotted that the BBC attributed a bomb attack on Monday in Iraq to “al-Qaeda”, with apparently little evidence.  They wrote to the BBC’s “man in Baghdad”, Hugh Sykes, and asked him “what is the evidence that al-Qaeda, rather than some other insurgent group, were behind the attacks”?.

Hugh’s answer genuinely made me think this was an early April Fool’s joke. In fact I’m still not sure Medialens aren’t making me look like an idiot:

No proof, but circumstantial evidence and reasonable presumption of AQI [al-Qaeda in Iraq] involvement – very much their modus operandum. Suicide attacks are their signature method, and this was a dramatic detonation suggesting a lot of explosive – again, very AQI.

And…who else would do this?

So, process of elimination, history of AQI attacks in Diyala etc.

And the logic of it Sunni Arab vs Iraqi Kurds. As a man in Jalawla told Reuters:

“Al-Qaida is targeting the Kurds because it believes that
we are involved in the political process and collaborating
with the Americans.”

This blows my mind. “very AQI” and “a man in Jalawla told Reuters”. “Who else would do this?”

As Medialens point out, the BBC claim they are “committed to evidence-based journalism”. Except they pick and choose when their committment applies, such as when they refused to report the use of banned weapons by US forces in their November 2004 assault on Falljuah.

James Reynolds of the BBC comes clean

Admitting it for all to see on his BBC blog. Very brave of him:

Past horrors and mistakes do not seem to have weakened a servile belief in the ultimate benevolence of the state and a willingness to grant it unlimited powers.

In this country, if you start to blame the system itself – and the men right at the top – you tend to get into all kinds of trouble.

Unsurprisingly though, he’s talking about China and not the USA or the United Kingdom.

BBC Racism

The public can see for themselves the ‘neutral’ media language used to describe Israeli actions: ‘incursion’, ‘retaliation’, ‘military operations’. By contrast, Israel endures ‘terrorist attacks’, ‘slaughter’, ‘a bloodbath’. Careful analysis by Greg Philo and Mike Berry, of the Glasgow University Media Group, found a persistent, ugly pattern:

“In our samples of news content, words such as ‘mass murder’, ‘savage cold-blooded killing’ and ‘lynching’ were used by journalists to describe Israeli deaths but not those of Palestinians/Arabs. The word ‘terrorist’ was used to describe Palestinians, but when an Israeli group was reported as trying to bomb a Palestinian school, they were referred to as ‘extremists’ or ‘vigilantes’.” (Philo and Berry, ‘Bad News From Israel’, Pluto Press, London, 2004, p. 259)


Air passengers ‘could be tagged’

BBC News is running this press release from the University College London: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/6044310.stm

“Electronically tagging passengers at airports could help the fight against terrorism, scientists have said.”

But the only explanation of how this will actually help the “fight against terrorism” is

“the tags could aid security by allowing airports to track the movement patterns of passengers deemed to be suspicious and prevent them from entering restricted areas.”

Which seems to roughly translate to

Step 1: Tag passengers electronically so you can track their movements

Step 2: ???

Step 3: Security!!

Oh, I missed step 0

Step 0: Get big fat grant from the government and impress your fellow professors

The BBC obviously don’t ask any pertinent questions.

News Sniffer: Revisionista

The latest News Sniffer project went live today: Revisionista. It tracks changes in corporate news articles and marks the differences. So you can choose a BBC news article and see how it’s changed since it was first created. Most changes are on breaking new articles which get updated as more information becomes available, but some changes are rather telling of policy.

Currently only the BBC is monitored, but it’s pretty easy for me to add support for any site with an RSS feed.

Some examples:
Continue reading News Sniffer: Revisionista

Self-defence. Israelly?

“Israel has been pursuing a campaign in Gaza for almost three weeks, since Cpl Gilad Shalit was captured by militants on 25 June.”

BBC News

“Gaza, itself, the latest phase, began on June 24. It was when Israel abducted two Gaza civilians, a doctor and his brother. We don’t know their names. You don’t know the names of victims.”

Noam Chomsky interviewed on Democracy Now

“Nor have the press suggested that the one-sided nature of the killing in the weeks leading up to the capture of the Israeli soldier might have “sparked” Palestinian actions.

On June 8, the Israeli army assassinated the recently appointed Palestinian head of the security forces of the Interior Ministry, Jamal Abu Samhadana, and three others. On June 9, Israeli shells killed seven members of the same family picnicking on Beit Lahiya beach. Some 32 others were wounded, including 13 children.

On June 13, an Israeli plane fired a missile into a busy Gaza City street, killing 11 people, including two children and two medics. On June 20, the Israeli army killed three Palestinian children and injured 15 others in Gaza with a missile attack. On June 21, the Israelis killed a 35-year old pregnant woman, her brother, and injured 11 others, including 6 children. Then came the Israeli capture of two Palestinians, followed by the Palestinian capture of the Israeli soldier and the killing of the two other soldiers.”

David Edwards in a Medialens alert

Research project of the day: Try and find mention of any of this relevant information in the mainstream media. Unlikely that you will. Try and find mention of it in relation to the current attacks by Israel.

I’ll get us started: BBC news do mention the capture (it’s only kidnapping when official enemies do it) of the two Gaza civilians in this article, which I had to dig around to find. I’ve not seen it mentioned being possibly related to the capture of the Israeli solders the next day.

RAF doctor Iraq court martial

The BBC has done a pitiful job of covering the court martial of RAF doctor Flt Lt Malcolm Kendall-Smith who defied orders to return to Iraq citing the illegality of the war.

The prosecution said “it was not Dr Kendall-Smith’s responsibility to question the legality of orders given to him”.

Well, actually, it is. In fact, by law, not only is he to question the legality, he is to question to morality of orders too. As was established before the Nuremberg trials, a soldier cannot use “just following orders” as a defense against criminal prosecution. The London Nuremberg Charter explicitly stated that. The US Uniform Code of Military Justice was ammended after World War II to reflect it. This was all part of the reformation of International law.

I didn’t happen to notice any of this relevant information in the BBC article. I guess they had diverted journalistic resources to covering the all-important Da Vinci Code trial.

Iran is dangerous nuclear threat

Media Lens Alert: Iran – The media fall into line

The “liberal” “left-wing” media are, once again, falling into line to support another war to enforce the status-quo (along with all the “right-wing” media too, but that’s rather a given). Iran is 10 years away from creating even one nuclear weapon (assuming that’s what it’s trying to do) yet the mainstream media are telling us they are a major threat.

This is how it always works. When the powers that be announce a new threat (Iran) the mainstream media fall over themselves to support it without question.
Continue reading Iran is dangerous nuclear threat

BBC ignored weapons claims

The BBC has been accused of failing to investigate claims that the US used banned weapons in Iraq. Is it ignoring the story or has it done its best to seek out the truth?

Well, they’ve:

  • not mentioned that the US have already admitted to using modified napalm
  • stated (falsely) that Human Rights Watch investigated these claims and found nothing (something HRW deny, as they do not have the freedom to conduct investigations in Fallujah)
  • Ignored multiple media reports (rebroadcast on the BBCs very own worldwide monitoring service) stating that “the occupation forces used poisonous gas”
  • Ignored investigations and reports made by Iraqi medical staff and officials at Iraq’s health ministry
  • Stated, falsely, that their reporters had full access to all military documents and briefings and heard nothing of banned weapons

And it’s clear that they’ve only published this Newswatch article because they’ve been repeatedly pressed by Medialens.

Doctor Who Cares

The first episode of the new series of Doctor Who is quite impressive as is actually really good. I can’t say I was entirely happy with it though. Title sequence is excellent, new title music is spot on and I just love the way that they’ve kept certain classic elements. Christopher Eccleston is a very engaging Doctor and even Billie Piper is not as annoying as I expected her to be. The newly scored main theme is abysmal though. It gets a higher rating from me than it would otherwise mostly because I enjoy modern jive and especially the type of dancing that this episode popularised. It really is a great love story that shows how even though someone dies, love for a person never dies. Emilio Estevez carrys his role off very well as a Jock – it gets a little cringe worthy when he’s high at the end – and rushing around like a loony. But the end with Ally Sheedy certainly makes up for it.