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Dmitry Orlov: Ukraine Crisis, Russia and Crimea Update | Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog

Dmitry Orlov: Ukraine Crisis, Russia and Crimea Update | Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog.

By Greg Hunter On March 19, 2014

4Dmitry Orlov:  Ukraine Crisis, Russia and Crimea UpdateBy Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog.com

Dmitry Orlov is a Russian blogger who writes about the parallel between the U.S and the USSR.  Orlov lived through the financial collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990’s, and he thinks the U.S. is on the same trajectory.  Orlov contends, “The trajectory is defined by this sort of incompetent militarism where more and more money results in bigger and bigger military fiascos around the world and less and less of actual foreign policy that can be pursued or articulated.  There are massive levels of corruption.  The amount of money that is being stolen by the U.S. Government and its various appropriations processes is now in the trillions of dollars a year.  Runaway debt, the United States now has a level of debt that is un-repayable.  All we’re waiting for is interest rates to go across the magic threshold of 3% and the entire budget of the country explodes.  There are also all types of other tendencies that point in the direction of collapse and systemic failure at all levels.”

So, how close are we to collapse or system failure?  Orlov contends, “I am pretty sure that anyone who makes a prediction when the collapse will happen is wrong.  Nobody can say when it will happen.  It’s the same as saying a bridge that is structurally deficient; you don’t know when a truck is going to fall through into the river below. . . . You can be chronically sick for a long time, and then one day, you go into a coma or your heart stops.  You cannot predict what day that will happen.  Orlov does say, “The United States right now, from my point of view and the point of view from observers from around the world, is on suicide watch.  It’s a country that is going to self-destruct at some point in the near future.”

On the Ukraine crisis, Orlov thinks, “The Crimea referendum was the first legal way to find out what the people wanted to do.  The turnout was remarkable, and they voted overwhelmingly to rejoin Russia, to become part of Russia once again.  The interesting thing here is it was not just the Russians that voted to join Russia but the Ukrainians in Crimea, which makes a sizable part of the population voted to join Russia. . . Ukraine is composed of sort of a no man’s land in the West and then Russian territories in the East. . . .  If that trend holds, you are basically left with this insolvent nugget of nothingness, and it will be up to the international community to decide what to do with these people.  They are right now marching around Kiev with baseball bats and going into government offices and beating up members of local government and installing their own members.  They are basically running amok.  They don’t even have the support of the Ukrainian military at this point.  So, it will be a mop-up operation against these neo-fascists that are running amok.”  Orlov goes on to say, “In Washington, in the Obama Administration and in the Kerry State Department, we have absolutely breathtaking levels of incompetence.  These people really don’t know what they’re doing and are dangerous at any speed; and everywhere else, we have this follow the incompetent leader thing taking place, and it’s really, really frightening because the incompetents are leading the world to a really dangerous place.”

Orlov goes on to say, “What are these people doing trash talking the Russians?  What would these people do without Russia?  How would they get out of earth’s orbit and visit the international space station?  Who would negotiate international deals with Syria and Iran because all they can do is blunder and lose face.”  Russia doesn’t need the United States for anything.  The United States is the most dispensable country on earth.”

On possible war between Ukraine and Russia, Orlov contends, “They are not going to fight because the Ukraine military is part of the Russian military.  There really isn’t any opposition.  The Ukrainian military will decide what to do in a few days, and then they will inform the Russians, and after that, maybe they will inform their own government.  Maybe they will just go into the government offices and just round them up.  Last I heard, 60% of Ukrainian military accepted Russian passports already.  The remaining parts are being shipped out to the mainland.  That is happening peacefully.  So, there isn’t going to be any fight.  The really important point is the Ukrainian military all over Ukraine does not support the government in Kiev.  They are withholding support, and what they really want is to join the Russian military. . . . The best thing Russia can do is sit back and relax and let this work out.  I don’t think the government in Kiev has any legs.”

Join Greg Hunter as he goes One-on-One with Dmitry Orlov of ClubOrlov.com coming from Central America.

(There is much more in the video interview.)

 


After the Interview:
Dmitry Orlov is currently working on a new book that will be out later this year.  Orlov says, “The new book is about communities and what makes them resistant to adverse events such as financial collapse.”  Orlov adds, “The U.S., as a whole, is not resistant to shocks, but some parts of America are.”  You can find Dmitry Orlov at ClubOrlov.com.  

Dmitry Orlov: Ukraine Crisis, Russia and Crimea Update | Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog

Dmitry Orlov: Ukraine Crisis, Russia and Crimea Update | Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog.

By Greg Hunter On March 19, 2014

4Dmitry Orlov:  Ukraine Crisis, Russia and Crimea UpdateBy Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog.com

Dmitry Orlov is a Russian blogger who writes about the parallel between the U.S and the USSR.  Orlov lived through the financial collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990’s, and he thinks the U.S. is on the same trajectory.  Orlov contends, “The trajectory is defined by this sort of incompetent militarism where more and more money results in bigger and bigger military fiascos around the world and less and less of actual foreign policy that can be pursued or articulated.  There are massive levels of corruption.  The amount of money that is being stolen by the U.S. Government and its various appropriations processes is now in the trillions of dollars a year.  Runaway debt, the United States now has a level of debt that is un-repayable.  All we’re waiting for is interest rates to go across the magic threshold of 3% and the entire budget of the country explodes.  There are also all types of other tendencies that point in the direction of collapse and systemic failure at all levels.”

So, how close are we to collapse or system failure?  Orlov contends, “I am pretty sure that anyone who makes a prediction when the collapse will happen is wrong.  Nobody can say when it will happen.  It’s the same as saying a bridge that is structurally deficient; you don’t know when a truck is going to fall through into the river below. . . . You can be chronically sick for a long time, and then one day, you go into a coma or your heart stops.  You cannot predict what day that will happen.  Orlov does say, “The United States right now, from my point of view and the point of view from observers from around the world, is on suicide watch.  It’s a country that is going to self-destruct at some point in the near future.”

On the Ukraine crisis, Orlov thinks, “The Crimea referendum was the first legal way to find out what the people wanted to do.  The turnout was remarkable, and they voted overwhelmingly to rejoin Russia, to become part of Russia once again.  The interesting thing here is it was not just the Russians that voted to join Russia but the Ukrainians in Crimea, which makes a sizable part of the population voted to join Russia. . . Ukraine is composed of sort of a no man’s land in the West and then Russian territories in the East. . . .  If that trend holds, you are basically left with this insolvent nugget of nothingness, and it will be up to the international community to decide what to do with these people.  They are right now marching around Kiev with baseball bats and going into government offices and beating up members of local government and installing their own members.  They are basically running amok.  They don’t even have the support of the Ukrainian military at this point.  So, it will be a mop-up operation against these neo-fascists that are running amok.”  Orlov goes on to say, “In Washington, in the Obama Administration and in the Kerry State Department, we have absolutely breathtaking levels of incompetence.  These people really don’t know what they’re doing and are dangerous at any speed; and everywhere else, we have this follow the incompetent leader thing taking place, and it’s really, really frightening because the incompetents are leading the world to a really dangerous place.”

Orlov goes on to say, “What are these people doing trash talking the Russians?  What would these people do without Russia?  How would they get out of earth’s orbit and visit the international space station?  Who would negotiate international deals with Syria and Iran because all they can do is blunder and lose face.”  Russia doesn’t need the United States for anything.  The United States is the most dispensable country on earth.”

On possible war between Ukraine and Russia, Orlov contends, “They are not going to fight because the Ukraine military is part of the Russian military.  There really isn’t any opposition.  The Ukrainian military will decide what to do in a few days, and then they will inform the Russians, and after that, maybe they will inform their own government.  Maybe they will just go into the government offices and just round them up.  Last I heard, 60% of Ukrainian military accepted Russian passports already.  The remaining parts are being shipped out to the mainland.  That is happening peacefully.  So, there isn’t going to be any fight.  The really important point is the Ukrainian military all over Ukraine does not support the government in Kiev.  They are withholding support, and what they really want is to join the Russian military. . . . The best thing Russia can do is sit back and relax and let this work out.  I don’t think the government in Kiev has any legs.”

Join Greg Hunter as he goes One-on-One with Dmitry Orlov of ClubOrlov.com coming from Central America.

(There is much more in the video interview.)

 


After the Interview:
Dmitry Orlov is currently working on a new book that will be out later this year.  Orlov says, “The new book is about communities and what makes them resistant to adverse events such as financial collapse.”  Orlov adds, “The U.S., as a whole, is not resistant to shocks, but some parts of America are.”  You can find Dmitry Orlov at ClubOrlov.com.  

The Creation of Society’s Shared Hallucinations | Humanity’s Test

The Creation of Society’s Shared Hallucinations | Humanity’s Test.

Posted on February 28, 2014 by rboyd

 This is another of my draft chapters from the book, “Schizophrenic Society”, that I am working on. Please feel free to provide editorial feedback.

Since the advent of the printing press and general literacy, media organizations have constructed parallel realities for the general populace. Radio and silent films, followed by “talking pictures” and television went further by creating artificial worlds that can be seen and heard in the same way that the real world is perceived. The human mind  evolved in an environment with no access to such artificial worlds and thus even though a person may know that these worlds are not real their brain will in many ways treat such worlds as if they were. For example, a 1938 radio program in the United States depicting an alien invasion lead many to believe that there really was such an invasion taking place1.

Many psychologists have noticed the similarities between the mental state of dreaming and that of watching television or a movie2. Such a mental state bypasses some of the conscious mechanisms that people utilize to judge between reality and artificial representations, thus making them more susceptible to internalizing media output as if it were real. There have been many documented cases where the media has been shown to affect social reality, from the media emphasis on below-average sized women3 to the extensive usage of violence4 and the objectification of women5. Gerrig6 proposes that there is in fact no clean delineation in a person’s mind between the real and the artificial, with social reality being a combined construct of real world and media experiences.

Thus, media output acts in the same way as the images created by the mind of a hallucinating individual. Not being able to distinguish between the real and the imagined, the individual integrates the two into his conception of reality. The advent of computer games, with the individual transformed into an active participant within the game, only intensifies the challenges to the brain’s ability to assess what is truly real and what is only an artificial illusion. In many cases gamers even prefer their artificial existence to their real one. The same has been noted of participants in the Second Life artificial world.

As societies have grown in size and complexity, and the “local” has become highly integrated with other geographical areas, the individual has become more and more reliant upon the media to provide the information and conceptual structures with which to make sense of the larger world. This reality was captured vividly by Walter Lippman, “Inevitably our opinions cover a bigger space, a longer reach of time, a greater number of things, than we can directly observe. They have, therefore, to be pieced together out of what others have reported and what we can imagine.”7 Thus individuals rely upon the predominant media sources, such as television and film, to both inform them of events and general cultural trends, and help them construct the conceptual frameworks required to understand their meaning and importance. As Lippman noted, “The only feeling that anyone can have about an event he does not experience is the feeling aroused by his mental image of that event”7, and that mental image is heavily dependent upon the medias depiction of it.

With the power to directly affect the social reality through which individuals make sense of the world, and to decide what events and issues individuals should be made aware of, the media is a central force in the creation of the ruling societal discourse. In a fully working democracy one would expect extensive regulations and oversight to make sure that a great diversity of groups have fair access to media outlets and that such outlets represent a diversity of opinions. Unfortunately, this is not the case as the media industry has become dominated by large private corporations funded by advertising revenue, together with government-funded organizations. Thus, unlike an individual’s hallucinations, the media-created hallucinations are consciously produced predominantly for material gain, or under political constraints.

As Herman and Chomsky have pointed out8, with the advertising revenue model media groups become vehicles to sell things to consumers, rather than the independent purveyors of information about the wider world. Anything that gets in the way of ongoing consumption, and thus the success of advertisements focused on increasing that consumption, will reduce the attractiveness of individual media organizations to the corporations paying for the advertisements. The issues of Climate Change, Peak Resources, and Ecological Degradation are certainly not ones that serve to increase an  individual’s consumption habits. In addition, a greater awareness and understanding of such things could lead to political action to force changes directly upon corporations. If media organizations started to focus heavily on such matters they would be “biting the hand that feeds them”, and thus a high degree of self-censorship would be expected. In many cases advertisers are also directly involved in the process of selecting and developing programs (hence the term “soap operas” which were at first funded by soap companies), allowing them to filter out any “problematic” subjects and themes.

Private media organizations may also be constrained by the need to maintain government licenses, and access for their staff to government officials. In addition, such groups may also want to keep good relationships with the government as they work to reduce regulatory restrictions and grow through mergers and acquisitions that require government approval. Government departments may also offer beneficial support through access to knowledgeable staff and expensive resources for media productions that further their aims. For example, the military have given significant support to television program, film, and even computer game productions that show them in a positive light9,10,11. They can also severely constrain what they see as “bad” reporting, as shown by the embedded journalist program during the Iraqi war, which was designed to eradicate the extensive negative journalism (from the U.S. government’s point of view) seen during the Vietnam war.

With the purchase of media organizations by non-media companies, such as General Electric, and Sony, there is also the increasing problem of not wanting to negatively effect other parts of the conglomerate. In the case of G.E., that may include staying away from contentious stories on nuclear power, the efficacy of mammogram machines, military spending, and foreign arms sales. As media organizations have been allowed to consolidate into massive global corporations focused on growing revenue and profits they also become part of the wealthy and powerful elites. Too much focus on the shortcomings of the economic and social system within which they have flourished, and too heavy a positive coverage of alternatives, would be threatening to their own future prospects.

Overall, the media groups that create our shared hallucinations will tend to be very conservative, protecting the economic and social environment within which they have thrived. This will be reinforced by both the corporations who pay for advertising space and governmental organizations. As humanity’s destruction of the environment continues apace, and becomes more and more visible, these media groups could be expected to work harder to protect the status quo and ignore or downplay inconvenient facts and occurrences. In this light, reductions in staffing and coverage of climate change by media organizations, while the impacts and science become more irrefutable, could be seen as quite logical actions.

In 2013 the TV evening news broadcasts of ABC, CBS, and NBC in the United States covered climate change for a joint one hour and forty two minutes, an improvement over 2012 but still below the 2009 level12. Media groups have also tended to report on weather events as stand-alone occurrences without mentioning climate change13,14. A number of media groups have also significantly reduced the number of journalists covering environmental issues in recent years15,16,17. In addition, a false sense of balance has been used to give climate deniers much more airtime than their representation with the scientific community, less than 5%, would warrant18,19,20, and one news agency has even appointed a “climate skeptic” as its managing editor21. Coverage of climate issues has also predominantly relied upon the use of politicians and social scientists, rather than providing an avenue for scientists to communicate their concerns and findings directly to the public.

The fundamental problem with issues such as Climate Change and Ecological Degradation is that they stem from a core problem, the exponential growth of human demands upon the earth, and thus the only solution is an end to that growth. With the industrialized human societies having spent the past two centuries developing a tight fit to the exponential growth facilitated by fossil fuels, an end to that growth will require wrenching changes to how those societies are structured and operate. Such changes, while producing great concern to the general populace, will be extremely threatening to those that have succeeded under the current societal arrangements. These are the rich and powerful that have most control over media organizations, as well as other determinants of social reality such as the school system and the workplace. To help affect the creation of social reality in their favor, they have created many so-called “independent” think-tanks, and hired public relations groups, to help create a perception of uncertainty on subjects such as climate change and to gain more access for skeptics to the media22,23.

Just as it may have made sense for the Mayan elites to call for more sacrifices to forestall their societies downfall, rather than accept the reality in front of them, it may make sense for the current elites to call for the magic of the “invisible hand” of economics and the wonders of human technology, rather than accept the current reality that so threatens their own wealth and privileges. The longer they practice such conscious ignorance, the more they stand to be accused and attacked, the more such ignorance will be seen as beneficial. Once the media spell is broken, and the duplicity of the elites understood, the wrath of the general populace may be truly horrific. The search for others to “pin the blame on”, and ongoing extensions to the means to monitor and control society, are completely rational actions in this context. If even the members of the police and armed forces come to blame the elites for not taking the actions required to stave off calamity though, nothing may save the rich and powerful from a brutal denouement.

Hence the desperate need to keep control of the construction of social reality, and have the general population live in a mental world made up more of misleading hallucinations than actual reality. Such a state can be maintained for lengthy periods of time, as has been the case with the North Korean population who have for decades existed in a social reality more made up of fantasy than reality. Many commentators also give significant weighting to the inability of the East German authorities to block the television signals from the much more prosperous West Germany in undermining the basis of the communist state. Those that consider the internet to be a democratizing antidote to media concentration and control both misunderstand the ongoing concentration within media 24,25,26 on the internet, and the ability of authorities to block sources they find threatening. Also, as has been shown by the details provided by such whistle-blowers as Snowdon27, our new connected age may make the tracking of dissident opinion-formers much easier for the authorities.

References

  1. Lovgren, Stefan (2005), War of the Worlds: Behind the 1938 Radio Show Panic.Accessed athttp://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/06/0617_050617_warworlds.html

2.     Rieber, Robert & Kelly, Robert (2014), Film, television and the psychology of thesocial dream, Springer.

3.     Stice, Eric & Shaw, Heather (1994), Adverse Effects of the Media Portrayed ThinIdeal on Women and Linkages to Bulimic Symtomatology, Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology 1994 13.3.288.

4.     Dill, Karen (2009), How Fantasy Becomes Reality: Seeing Through Media Influence,Oxford University Press

5.     Berberick, Stephanie Nicholl (2010), The Objectification of Women in Mass Media:Female Self Image in Misogynyst Society, Volume 5 2010.

6.     Shanahan, James (1999), Television and its Viewers: Cultivation Theory and Research, Cambridge University Press.

7.    Lippman, Walter (2012), Public Opinion, Dover Publications

8.   Herman, Edward & Chomsky, Noam (1988), Manufacturing Consent, Pantheon Books

9.   n/a (2006), U.S. Military Helps Create Hollywood Films On War and Warriors,PBSNewshour. Accessed at http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/entertainment-july-dec06-hollywood_10-06/

10.   Rose, Steve (2009), The US military storm hollywood, The Guardian. Accessed athttp://www.theguardian.com/film/2009/jul/06/us-military-hollywood

11.  Zakarin, Jordan (2012), ‘Act of Valor’ And The Military’s Long Hollywood Mission,Huffington Post. Accessed at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/17/act-of-valor-military-hollywood_n_1284338.html

12.   Santhanam, Laura (2014), STUDY: How Broadcast News Covered Climate ChangeIn The Last Five Years, Media Matters. Accessed athttp://mediamatters.org/research/2014/01/16/study-how-broadcast-news-covered-climate-change/197612

13.  Fitzsimmons, Jill & Theel, Shauna (2013), STUDY: Media Ignore Climate ChangeContext of Midwest Floods, Accessed athttp://mediamatters.org/research/2013/05/07/study-media-ignore-climate-context-of-midwest-f/193936

14.  n/a (2013), TV News and Extreme Weather, Don’t Mention Climate Change, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting. Accessed at http://fair.org/press-release/tv-news-and-extreme-weather-dont-mention-climate-change/

15.  Bagley, Katherine (2013), New York Times Dismantles Its Environment Desk,InsideClimate News. Accessed at http://insideclimatenews.org/news/20130111/new-york-   times-dismantles-environmental-desk-journalism-fracking-climate-change-science-global-warming-economy

16.  Ward, Bill (2013), New York Times Cuts Back Again: Farewell to Green Blog,TheYale Forum on Climate Change and the Media. Accessed athttp://www.yaleclimatemediaforum.org/2013/03/new-york-times-cuts-back-again-farewell-to-green-blog/

17.  Brainard, Curtis (2008), CNN Cuts Entire Science, Tech Team, ColumbiaJournalism Review. Accessed athttp://www.cjr.org/the_observatory/cnn_cuts_entire_science_tech_t.php?page=all

18.  Nucitelli, Dana (2013), Conservative media outlets found guilty of biased globalwarming coverage, The Guardian. Accessed athttp://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2013/oct/11/climate-change-political-media-ipcc-coverage

19.  Valentine, Katie (2013), Britain Cuts Environment Staff As BBC Comes Under FireFor Giving Airtime to Climate Deniers, Climate Progress. Accessed athttp://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/10/28/2847831/britain-environment-staff-bbc/#

20.  Hartman, Thom (2014), The Mainstream Medias Criminal Climate Coverage,TruthOut. Accessed at http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/22123-the-mainstream-medias-criminal-climate-coverage

21.  Robbins, Denise (2014), Report: Reuters Climate Change Coverage Continues ToDecline Under Skeptic Editor, Media Matters for America. Accessed athttp://mediamatters.org/research/2014/02/26/report-reuters-climate-coverage-continues-to-de/198220

22.  Bagley, Katherine (2013), Climate Skeptic Groups Launch Global Anti-ScienceCampaign, Bloomberg. Accessed at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-09-19/climate-skeptic-groups-launch-global-anti-science-campaign.html

23.  Goldenberg, Suzanne (2013), Secret funding helped fund vast network of climatedenial thinktank, The Guardian. Accessed at http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/feb/14/funding-climate-change-denial-thinktanks-network

24.     n/a (2010), Media Concentration Around the World: Empirical Studies, Columbia University. Accessed at http://www8.gsb.columbia.edu/citi/events/mediacon2010

25.     Noam, Eli M. (2013), Who Owns the World Media?, Columbia Business School. Accessed at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2242670

26.  Hindman, Matthew (2008), The Myth of Digital Democracy, Princeton University  Press

27.     n/a (2014), Snowden: Missions already accomplishedAl Jazeera. Accessed at http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/12/24/snowden-mission-salreadyaccomplished.html

The Creation of Society’s Shared Hallucinations | Humanity's Test

The Creation of Society’s Shared Hallucinations | Humanity’s Test.

Posted on February 28, 2014 by rboyd

 This is another of my draft chapters from the book, “Schizophrenic Society”, that I am working on. Please feel free to provide editorial feedback.

Since the advent of the printing press and general literacy, media organizations have constructed parallel realities for the general populace. Radio and silent films, followed by “talking pictures” and television went further by creating artificial worlds that can be seen and heard in the same way that the real world is perceived. The human mind  evolved in an environment with no access to such artificial worlds and thus even though a person may know that these worlds are not real their brain will in many ways treat such worlds as if they were. For example, a 1938 radio program in the United States depicting an alien invasion lead many to believe that there really was such an invasion taking place1.

Many psychologists have noticed the similarities between the mental state of dreaming and that of watching television or a movie2. Such a mental state bypasses some of the conscious mechanisms that people utilize to judge between reality and artificial representations, thus making them more susceptible to internalizing media output as if it were real. There have been many documented cases where the media has been shown to affect social reality, from the media emphasis on below-average sized women3 to the extensive usage of violence4 and the objectification of women5. Gerrig6 proposes that there is in fact no clean delineation in a person’s mind between the real and the artificial, with social reality being a combined construct of real world and media experiences.

Thus, media output acts in the same way as the images created by the mind of a hallucinating individual. Not being able to distinguish between the real and the imagined, the individual integrates the two into his conception of reality. The advent of computer games, with the individual transformed into an active participant within the game, only intensifies the challenges to the brain’s ability to assess what is truly real and what is only an artificial illusion. In many cases gamers even prefer their artificial existence to their real one. The same has been noted of participants in the Second Life artificial world.

As societies have grown in size and complexity, and the “local” has become highly integrated with other geographical areas, the individual has become more and more reliant upon the media to provide the information and conceptual structures with which to make sense of the larger world. This reality was captured vividly by Walter Lippman, “Inevitably our opinions cover a bigger space, a longer reach of time, a greater number of things, than we can directly observe. They have, therefore, to be pieced together out of what others have reported and what we can imagine.”7 Thus individuals rely upon the predominant media sources, such as television and film, to both inform them of events and general cultural trends, and help them construct the conceptual frameworks required to understand their meaning and importance. As Lippman noted, “The only feeling that anyone can have about an event he does not experience is the feeling aroused by his mental image of that event”7, and that mental image is heavily dependent upon the medias depiction of it.

With the power to directly affect the social reality through which individuals make sense of the world, and to decide what events and issues individuals should be made aware of, the media is a central force in the creation of the ruling societal discourse. In a fully working democracy one would expect extensive regulations and oversight to make sure that a great diversity of groups have fair access to media outlets and that such outlets represent a diversity of opinions. Unfortunately, this is not the case as the media industry has become dominated by large private corporations funded by advertising revenue, together with government-funded organizations. Thus, unlike an individual’s hallucinations, the media-created hallucinations are consciously produced predominantly for material gain, or under political constraints.

As Herman and Chomsky have pointed out8, with the advertising revenue model media groups become vehicles to sell things to consumers, rather than the independent purveyors of information about the wider world. Anything that gets in the way of ongoing consumption, and thus the success of advertisements focused on increasing that consumption, will reduce the attractiveness of individual media organizations to the corporations paying for the advertisements. The issues of Climate Change, Peak Resources, and Ecological Degradation are certainly not ones that serve to increase an  individual’s consumption habits. In addition, a greater awareness and understanding of such things could lead to political action to force changes directly upon corporations. If media organizations started to focus heavily on such matters they would be “biting the hand that feeds them”, and thus a high degree of self-censorship would be expected. In many cases advertisers are also directly involved in the process of selecting and developing programs (hence the term “soap operas” which were at first funded by soap companies), allowing them to filter out any “problematic” subjects and themes.

Private media organizations may also be constrained by the need to maintain government licenses, and access for their staff to government officials. In addition, such groups may also want to keep good relationships with the government as they work to reduce regulatory restrictions and grow through mergers and acquisitions that require government approval. Government departments may also offer beneficial support through access to knowledgeable staff and expensive resources for media productions that further their aims. For example, the military have given significant support to television program, film, and even computer game productions that show them in a positive light9,10,11. They can also severely constrain what they see as “bad” reporting, as shown by the embedded journalist program during the Iraqi war, which was designed to eradicate the extensive negative journalism (from the U.S. government’s point of view) seen during the Vietnam war.

With the purchase of media organizations by non-media companies, such as General Electric, and Sony, there is also the increasing problem of not wanting to negatively effect other parts of the conglomerate. In the case of G.E., that may include staying away from contentious stories on nuclear power, the efficacy of mammogram machines, military spending, and foreign arms sales. As media organizations have been allowed to consolidate into massive global corporations focused on growing revenue and profits they also become part of the wealthy and powerful elites. Too much focus on the shortcomings of the economic and social system within which they have flourished, and too heavy a positive coverage of alternatives, would be threatening to their own future prospects.

Overall, the media groups that create our shared hallucinations will tend to be very conservative, protecting the economic and social environment within which they have thrived. This will be reinforced by both the corporations who pay for advertising space and governmental organizations. As humanity’s destruction of the environment continues apace, and becomes more and more visible, these media groups could be expected to work harder to protect the status quo and ignore or downplay inconvenient facts and occurrences. In this light, reductions in staffing and coverage of climate change by media organizations, while the impacts and science become more irrefutable, could be seen as quite logical actions.

In 2013 the TV evening news broadcasts of ABC, CBS, and NBC in the United States covered climate change for a joint one hour and forty two minutes, an improvement over 2012 but still below the 2009 level12. Media groups have also tended to report on weather events as stand-alone occurrences without mentioning climate change13,14. A number of media groups have also significantly reduced the number of journalists covering environmental issues in recent years15,16,17. In addition, a false sense of balance has been used to give climate deniers much more airtime than their representation with the scientific community, less than 5%, would warrant18,19,20, and one news agency has even appointed a “climate skeptic” as its managing editor21. Coverage of climate issues has also predominantly relied upon the use of politicians and social scientists, rather than providing an avenue for scientists to communicate their concerns and findings directly to the public.

The fundamental problem with issues such as Climate Change and Ecological Degradation is that they stem from a core problem, the exponential growth of human demands upon the earth, and thus the only solution is an end to that growth. With the industrialized human societies having spent the past two centuries developing a tight fit to the exponential growth facilitated by fossil fuels, an end to that growth will require wrenching changes to how those societies are structured and operate. Such changes, while producing great concern to the general populace, will be extremely threatening to those that have succeeded under the current societal arrangements. These are the rich and powerful that have most control over media organizations, as well as other determinants of social reality such as the school system and the workplace. To help affect the creation of social reality in their favor, they have created many so-called “independent” think-tanks, and hired public relations groups, to help create a perception of uncertainty on subjects such as climate change and to gain more access for skeptics to the media22,23.

Just as it may have made sense for the Mayan elites to call for more sacrifices to forestall their societies downfall, rather than accept the reality in front of them, it may make sense for the current elites to call for the magic of the “invisible hand” of economics and the wonders of human technology, rather than accept the current reality that so threatens their own wealth and privileges. The longer they practice such conscious ignorance, the more they stand to be accused and attacked, the more such ignorance will be seen as beneficial. Once the media spell is broken, and the duplicity of the elites understood, the wrath of the general populace may be truly horrific. The search for others to “pin the blame on”, and ongoing extensions to the means to monitor and control society, are completely rational actions in this context. If even the members of the police and armed forces come to blame the elites for not taking the actions required to stave off calamity though, nothing may save the rich and powerful from a brutal denouement.

Hence the desperate need to keep control of the construction of social reality, and have the general population live in a mental world made up more of misleading hallucinations than actual reality. Such a state can be maintained for lengthy periods of time, as has been the case with the North Korean population who have for decades existed in a social reality more made up of fantasy than reality. Many commentators also give significant weighting to the inability of the East German authorities to block the television signals from the much more prosperous West Germany in undermining the basis of the communist state. Those that consider the internet to be a democratizing antidote to media concentration and control both misunderstand the ongoing concentration within media 24,25,26 on the internet, and the ability of authorities to block sources they find threatening. Also, as has been shown by the details provided by such whistle-blowers as Snowdon27, our new connected age may make the tracking of dissident opinion-formers much easier for the authorities.

References

  1. Lovgren, Stefan (2005), War of the Worlds: Behind the 1938 Radio Show Panic.Accessed athttp://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/06/0617_050617_warworlds.html

2.     Rieber, Robert & Kelly, Robert (2014), Film, television and the psychology of thesocial dream, Springer.

3.     Stice, Eric & Shaw, Heather (1994), Adverse Effects of the Media Portrayed ThinIdeal on Women and Linkages to Bulimic Symtomatology, Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology 1994 13.3.288.

4.     Dill, Karen (2009), How Fantasy Becomes Reality: Seeing Through Media Influence,Oxford University Press

5.     Berberick, Stephanie Nicholl (2010), The Objectification of Women in Mass Media:Female Self Image in Misogynyst Society, Volume 5 2010.

6.     Shanahan, James (1999), Television and its Viewers: Cultivation Theory and Research, Cambridge University Press.

7.    Lippman, Walter (2012), Public Opinion, Dover Publications

8.   Herman, Edward & Chomsky, Noam (1988), Manufacturing Consent, Pantheon Books

9.   n/a (2006), U.S. Military Helps Create Hollywood Films On War and Warriors,PBSNewshour. Accessed at http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/entertainment-july-dec06-hollywood_10-06/

10.   Rose, Steve (2009), The US military storm hollywood, The Guardian. Accessed athttp://www.theguardian.com/film/2009/jul/06/us-military-hollywood

11.  Zakarin, Jordan (2012), ‘Act of Valor’ And The Military’s Long Hollywood Mission,Huffington Post. Accessed at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/17/act-of-valor-military-hollywood_n_1284338.html

12.   Santhanam, Laura (2014), STUDY: How Broadcast News Covered Climate ChangeIn The Last Five Years, Media Matters. Accessed athttp://mediamatters.org/research/2014/01/16/study-how-broadcast-news-covered-climate-change/197612

13.  Fitzsimmons, Jill & Theel, Shauna (2013), STUDY: Media Ignore Climate ChangeContext of Midwest Floods, Accessed athttp://mediamatters.org/research/2013/05/07/study-media-ignore-climate-context-of-midwest-f/193936

14.  n/a (2013), TV News and Extreme Weather, Don’t Mention Climate Change, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting. Accessed at http://fair.org/press-release/tv-news-and-extreme-weather-dont-mention-climate-change/

15.  Bagley, Katherine (2013), New York Times Dismantles Its Environment Desk,InsideClimate News. Accessed at http://insideclimatenews.org/news/20130111/new-york-   times-dismantles-environmental-desk-journalism-fracking-climate-change-science-global-warming-economy

16.  Ward, Bill (2013), New York Times Cuts Back Again: Farewell to Green Blog,TheYale Forum on Climate Change and the Media. Accessed athttp://www.yaleclimatemediaforum.org/2013/03/new-york-times-cuts-back-again-farewell-to-green-blog/

17.  Brainard, Curtis (2008), CNN Cuts Entire Science, Tech Team, ColumbiaJournalism Review. Accessed athttp://www.cjr.org/the_observatory/cnn_cuts_entire_science_tech_t.php?page=all

18.  Nucitelli, Dana (2013), Conservative media outlets found guilty of biased globalwarming coverage, The Guardian. Accessed athttp://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2013/oct/11/climate-change-political-media-ipcc-coverage

19.  Valentine, Katie (2013), Britain Cuts Environment Staff As BBC Comes Under FireFor Giving Airtime to Climate Deniers, Climate Progress. Accessed athttp://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/10/28/2847831/britain-environment-staff-bbc/#

20.  Hartman, Thom (2014), The Mainstream Medias Criminal Climate Coverage,TruthOut. Accessed at http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/22123-the-mainstream-medias-criminal-climate-coverage

21.  Robbins, Denise (2014), Report: Reuters Climate Change Coverage Continues ToDecline Under Skeptic Editor, Media Matters for America. Accessed athttp://mediamatters.org/research/2014/02/26/report-reuters-climate-coverage-continues-to-de/198220

22.  Bagley, Katherine (2013), Climate Skeptic Groups Launch Global Anti-ScienceCampaign, Bloomberg. Accessed at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-09-19/climate-skeptic-groups-launch-global-anti-science-campaign.html

23.  Goldenberg, Suzanne (2013), Secret funding helped fund vast network of climatedenial thinktank, The Guardian. Accessed at http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/feb/14/funding-climate-change-denial-thinktanks-network

24.     n/a (2010), Media Concentration Around the World: Empirical Studies, Columbia University. Accessed at http://www8.gsb.columbia.edu/citi/events/mediacon2010

25.     Noam, Eli M. (2013), Who Owns the World Media?, Columbia Business School. Accessed at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2242670

26.  Hindman, Matthew (2008), The Myth of Digital Democracy, Princeton University  Press

27.     n/a (2014), Snowden: Missions already accomplishedAl Jazeera. Accessed at http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/12/24/snowden-mission-salreadyaccomplished.html

2014 Worldwide Wave of Action: Activist advises what YOU should do (3 of ?) Washington’s Blog

2014 Worldwide Wave of Action: Activist advises what YOU should do (3 of ?) Washington’s Blog.

As a political activist since 1977 (details here), here’s my “Top 3 list” of advice for what YOU should do during the 2014 Worldwide Wave of Action that begins ~April 4 on the anniversary of Martin King’s assassination by the US government (civil court trial verdict), and completing ~July 4.

1. Know your purpose has 95%+ agreement when people have the facts: There’s abundant power when you recognize people want what you know, whether they recognize it or not in a current state of relative ignorance. That is, if free choice were available under full knowledge, 95%+ of humanity would choose to have the purposes of the 2014 Worldwide Wave accomplished:

I mean, the alternative is the ongoing conditions we have that even most of our oligarchs wouldn’t choose to continue, if they had full freedom of choice!

2. Do what is natural and virtuous for your self-expression: Given a position of power that you have an outcome people really want, AND given a condition that people may not recognize easily the attractiveness of what we offer, experiment with your most virtuous self-expression to play this game.Your unique, powerful, and beautiful sense of virtue is attractive when expressed, and the best you have to offer. Connected with my next point, my own sense of virtue is to be of simple service and fun with others. I only offer information when a genuine opening occurs consistent with someone’s expressed interests. My friend, Bucky Fuller, called this particular indirect outcome precession (andhere), similar to the contribution honey bees make with pollination as a side-product of their interest in honey. The outcome is ever-increasing experience and expression of virtue.

3. Relax and have fun ‘cuz we’re guests on Earth, not management: For the first part of my activist career, I operated to save human lives from poverty as quickly as possible. The hard truth is that I am insufficiently powerful to produce that outcome on my own; I am only able to offer this outcome (or any other) in networks for various groups’ consideration. Given my gradual acceptance of an apparent status as a human guest on Earth outside of direct managerial decisions, I’ve looked at different perspectives to be effective and enjoy this experience. From having “played” as hard and fast as I could for years, I’ve surrendered to Bucky’s conclusion/observation of precession.

So what does this mean for YOU and possible actions for the 2014 Worldwide Wave of Action?

If a pathway hasn’t opened to your interests so far, and you’re interested, look from the power of purpose, what’s natural to your sense of virtue, and what seems fun. Having a chat with like-minded friends should also open valuable ideas :)

Will Future Food Shortage, Swine Flu Pandemic Or War Stem World Population Growth? « Swine Flu

Will Future Food Shortage, Swine Flu Pandemic Or War Stem World Population Growth? « Swine Flu.

Will Future Food Shortage, Swine Flu Pandemic Or War Stem World Population Growth?

This is a particularly unpleasant subject to write about and I thought long and hard before deciding to write about my findings in the hope it will prompt others to take note and raise the issues within their families, communities and with those whom you have elected to power, so we can do something constructive about it before it is too late.

By way of coincidence the Government has just announced its response to findings that as a nation we ‘must quickly’ find ways of growing more of our own food and to waste much less as the world’s population grows and acknowledging we will not be able to rely upon imported food to meet our needs.

Yet it concerns me deeply when, in the face of overwhelming evidence, the world’s Governments, Major Charities, Health Organizations and News Media all appear to be silent or very timid in dealing with the impending worldwide catastrophe that will almost certainly occur within the next two generations, unless bold and difficult decisions are made and adhered to.

Upon examining objectively the wealth of evidence, (summarized below), I believe it is reasonable to assume, without such intervention, only a natural disaster such as the global spread of a virus, like a more aggressive mutated strain of Swine Flu to deplete the world population by at least 1 Billion people if we are to avoid otherwise inevitable global wars. (Please bear in mind in 1919 the Spanish Flu was conservatively estimated to have killed somewhere between 20 to 50 Million people at a time when the world population was just 2 Billion and far less mobile).

This is a chilling and rather unpleasant prediction, which you may feel to be far fetched but it is a rational one, made after careful study of the available evidence.

Whilst I am unable to provide the evidential links within this article,

Here are a few basic statistics from respected sources:

1. The World population is set to grow from circa 6 Billion to 10 billion by 2050.

2. Almost all of that growth is expected in the developing nations.

3. In the UK the ‘natural’ population is growing by circa 187,000 per year,  largely due to an ageing population, (that is population growth excluding immigration)

4. To put that into perspective the population of Milton Keynes is circa 185,000. Thus our natural population growth in the UK is a town the size of Milton Keynes every year.

5. By 2050 the UK is expected to have a population increase of 17,000,000, (it is already have one of the most densely populated countries in the world).

6. In the developed world we are experiencing a rapidly aging population. In the US the average age is expected to increase from 34 to 43 by 2025.

7. In 2008, those over age 65 numbered 506,Million. By 2040 that is forecast to increase to 1.3 Billion. Going from 7% to 14% of the world’s population. Most of that growth will be in the developing world.

8. New entrants into the labour force in the developed world are set to fall by circa 33% by 2025.

9. It has been predicted that by 2030, we will need ‘two earths’ to live on and provide the necessary food to feed the expected population

10. 1 in 5 of the world’s population has no access to fresh water.

11. The UN expects the major conflicts in Africa over the next generation will be over water supplies.

12. The growing population will place an ever increasing demand upon the available water supplies, expected to be a 40% increase in demand over the next 20 years

13. Only 2.5% of the world’s water is not salty.Of that 70% is frozen, leaving only 1% of the world’s water as accessible for consumption

14. By 2020 the world’s fresh water supplies are only expected to meet 17% of the demand for consumption, industry and farming.

15. In China the ground water table is shrinking by 1.5 Metres per year.

16. Changing weather patterns are resulting in dry regions becoming arid, forcing migration of the population.

17. Over consumption of the ground water supplies in many countries is causing salinization of the ground as  salt water pushes in to take over the space, leaving it no longer able to support the growing of traditional crops, live stock and wildlife.

18. With current technology, we have circa 50 years worth of economically accessible fossil fuels.

We see on a daily basis the desperate attempts by those eager to come to Britain and other developed countries, as their lives in their home countries becomes ever more hopeless.Based on the evidence I have seen, this is set to increase on an exponential scale and it is this I believe will lead to major conflict.

I do not purport to have all of the right answers but I do know we are going to have to take decisions that, as caring and compassionate people do not sit well with our consciences.  As developed nations we will also have ever increasing pressure on our financial resources to provide improved medical and social care. This is already barely sustainable and in the near future, as the balance shifts between those younger people in employment paying most of the taxes and those in retirement using most of the social care budget, it will simply not be sustainable.

I suspect we will have to say no to medical help that extends the life of the elderly still further. As we will have to limit other life saving medical help to others who need it. I have no doubt this is not acceptable to most of us who are seeing a loved one suffer. We are also likely to have to reduce aide to developing countries, yet we will be reliant upon immigrants to staff many of our service sector posts, including the care sector, if we are to have enough staff to look after our ageing population. This will place even more strain upon farming land, housing supply, water supplies, transport infrastructure, etc.

If not carefully addressed, it may to lead to age related prejudices and conflicts as the young come to begrudge being excessively taxed to provide for those who want to live longer and be provided for at the expense of the working tax payer.

Green, fruitful countries with good harvests, good water supplies and a benign climate, may well may become the focus of aggression to secure the new world wealth, ‘Fresh Water and Food’.

In short, I believe we are left with three unpalatable options:

1. Make the tough decisions, which I doubt we will do, as it is too upsetting and there will be a lack of political and social will. In short, the population of the developed world will continue to bury their heads and hope the problem will go away.

2. We can hope for nature to step in with one or two enormous natural disasters, such as viral pandemics. Very tragic for so many of us who will lose loved ones but at least we did not have to make the uncomfortable decisions.

3. We can wait for various nations to start attacking those countries on their borders and further afield to secure their food and water supplies, for these will be the new oil. Then we will have the ultimate catastrophe!

I would like to think I am wrong in what I have stated and would dearly like someone to prove me wrong but following extensive research, all of the information I have gathered has simply compounded my initial concerns.

Validation of all of the above statements, can be found on my website, where the article is reproduced with all of the links to the background research.

Find More Swine Flu Articles

Hong Kong Media Becomes Propaganda Battlefield for Beijing » The Epoch Times

Hong Kong Media Becomes Propaganda Battlefield for Beijing » The Epoch Times.

HONG KONG—Those in Hong Kong who favor increasing democracy are worried that the city’s freedom of the press is in jeopardy, as a faction in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has increasingly been using Hong Kong’s media outlets to spread propaganda.

Pan-democrats—the legislators of different parties united in their goal of bringing democracy to Hong Kong—raised a motion in the Legislative Council on Jan. 22 to defend the freedom of the press in Hong Kong, and it passed by 35 votes.

Civic Party head Alan Leung, who initiated the motion, said that a recent spate of events in Hong Kong show that the freedom of the press is threatened.

Leung said that it started with Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post, which began supporting the CCP when Wang Xiangwei from the China Daily paper was appointed first as the Post’s deputy editor, and then as its editor-in-chief.

This was followed in September 2011 by the unusual assignment of Hong Kong Administrative Officer Roy Tang Yun-kwong, who had no previous experience in broadcasting, to oversee the operation of Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK).

After that, in May 2012 Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying sent a legal letter threatening the Hong Kong Economic Journal. In November 2013 Commercial Radio Hong Kong’s outspoken host Lee Wai-ling was forcefully transferred, and then this January Ming Pao’s chief editor was replaced with a known CCP supporter.

Neo Democrats Party member Gary Fan said that Hong Kong media have mostly turned “red.” For example, ATV World, Sing Pao, South China Morning Post, and Sing Tao have been enlisted to support the CCP through commercial or political interests, Fan said.

Some semi-official mainland Chinese television channels such as Phoenix Television and One TV have set up branches in Hong Kong, Fan added. Local media have been depleted, and the days of Hong Kong’s freedom of the press are numbered, he said.

Civic Party and Legislative Council member Kwok Ka-ki described the situation as someone behind the scenes “buying up the Hong Kong media one by one, then burning them out one by one.”

China specialist Chen Zhong pointed out that when the CCP used advertising to exert pressure on am730 and Apple Daily, this showed that it is very difficult nowadays for conventional Hong Kong media to survive without funds from the CCP.

These Hong Kong media must follow the directives of the CCP on critical issues and impose self-censorship in reportage, and the terms they use are increasingly in line with the CCP’s official media, Chen said.

Factional Struggle

Chen Zhong told the Epoch Times that currently the Jiang Zemin-Bo Xilai faction of the CCP is heavily involved in running Hong Kong’s media. Jiang Zemin is a former head of the CCP and had intended for Bo Xilai to assure his faction’s continued predominance in the Party, until CCP head Hu Jintao managed to take down Bo.

The Jiang faction has lost its high-profile media platform in mainland China, where the only mouthpiece remaining to them is the Global Times. Therefore they use the Hong Kong media they bought earlier to discharge propaganda and create confusion.

For instance, he said, many Hong Kong media reported on the recent New York press conference held by Chen Guangbiao, a Chinese billionaire supported by the Jiang faction. In the conference, Chen Guangbiao attempted to reignite the Tiananmen “self-immolation” hoax created by the Jiang faction in 2001 to justify its persecute of practitioners of the spiritual discipline Falun Gong.

Chen Zhong said that the truth about this hoax has become common knowledge in China, and mainland Chinese media chose not to report on the press conference. However, one-sided coverage of the event was reported in the Jiang faction’s favor by several Hong Kong media, including Sing Tao, The Standard, Ming Pao, Oriental Daily, Sing Pao, Apple Daily, and RTHK. Chen Zhong said this reporting showed the media had lost their conscience.

Jimmy Lai, the boss of Apple Daily, told RTHK that Ming Pao’s former chief editor, Kevin Lau Chun-to, was already very “cooperative” with the CCP. However, Lau was still removed, which Jimmy Lai found puzzling.

According to Chen Zhong’s analysis, Lau was a victim of the duel between factions. Chen said that Lau is a Hong Kong local who does not understand the complexity of the CCP’s politics and the frictions between different factions. This caused him to shift grounds recently in Ming Pao’s reporting, which led to the Jiang faction being dissatisfied.

Under Kevin Lau, Ming Pao supported the Leung government of Hong Kong, legislator Raymond Wong Yuk-man said in the Legislative Council on Jan. 22. Those who do not comply with the requirements of the CCP cannot survive the purge, even if they help with minor criticisms, Wong said.

The media at Hong Kong, Wong added, has become the propaganda department of Beijing.

International media such as the Washington Times have reported on the relationship between Ming Pao owner Tiong Hiew King and the CCP. When Bo Xilai was in power, the city of Chongqing pumped an annual investment of tens of millions into a newspaper under Tiong’s control, the Singapore-based, Chinese-language United Morning Paper.

United Morning Paper runs a special column dedicated to drumming up support for Bo. Asia Weekly, another media outlet controlled by Tiong, was the first to propose the Bo Xilai-supported “Chongqing model,” criticized Bo’s rival Wang Yang, ridiculed former CCP head Hu Jintao, and opposed current CCP head Xi Jinping, who heads the faction that opposes Jiang and Bo.

The liaison between Bo Xilai and the United Morning Paper was reportedly facilitated by Chong Tien-siong, who is now the new editor candidate of Ming Pao.

Translated by Y.K. Lu. Written in English by Sally Appert.

Media Spin Machine in High Gear: Top Three Media Lies About the Syrian Peace Talks | Global Research

Media Spin Machine in High Gear: Top Three Media Lies About the Syrian Peace Talks | Global Research.

The media spin machine is again kicking into high gear, perfectly timed to accompany the “Geneva II” Syria peace talks. The lies are necessary to give the Obama administration an upper hand in the peace negotiations, which are not being used to pursue peace, but instead, to accomplish the Obama administration’s longstanding goal of Syrian regime change. Here are the top three Western media lies about the Syrian peace talks. 

 1) The removal of Syrian Bashar al-Assad was an agreed upon “precondition” for the Geneva II peace talks. 

This lie has been repeated over and over by government and media alike. It has zero basis. The Obama administration claims that this precondition was expressed in the “Geneva communiqué,” which was a road map agreement meant to guide the Geneva II peace talks, agreed upon by some of the major parties of the negotiations, including Russia.

The communiqué does indeed call for a negotiated political transition, but nowhere does it state that such a transition cannot include President Assad. Such a condition would have been outright rejected by Russia.

In fact, the Geneva communiqué includes this crucial statement:

“[a transition government] could include members of the present [Syrian] government and the opposition and other groups and shall be formed on the basis of mutual consent.” Nowhere does it specifically mention or imply President Assad.

The Los Angeles Times recently stepped out of line and exposed this lie:

“[John] Kerry regularly cites the “Geneva communiqué,” a kind of peace road map hammered out in June 2012 during a United Nations-organized summit. But the document does not explicitly call for Assad’s ouster.”

The Obama administration’s constant repeating of this lie only causes divisions in the peace process, undermining the chances that the peace process will succeed.

The Obama administration is especially adamant about this “Assad must go” pre-condition because it knows that, if free and fair elections were held tomorrow in Syria — as part of a UN-backed “transitional process”— President Assad would likely win. This is the result of the ethnic and religious minorities in Syria that have rallied behind President Assad, since they’ve witnessed the consistent religious sectarian atrocities committed by the U.S.-backed rebels (which the U.S. media loves to ignore or minimize).

Assad would probably win an election since there is also simply no one else on the government side or the opposition side with his name recognition or popularity. The U.S.-backed rebel war in Syria has vastly strengthened Assad’s political hand, but you wouldn’t know it from the Western, anti-Syrian media.

Demanding Assad’s ouster also does not reflect the situation on the ground.  The U.S.-backed rebels have never controlled more than one Syrian city, namely Raqaa, which is dominated by al-Qaeda and is governed under a Taliban-style interpretation of Islamic law, which includes a strict ban on music. Thus, the rebels don’t have the ground power that would even enable them to make the demand that “Assad must go”.

2) The U.S.-backed rebel militias are “moderate” Islamic groups.

The fact that this lie can even be uttered publicly without encountering ridicule is a major success of Western media propaganda. The media narrative paints the U.S.-backed “good” rebels fighting both the Syrian government and the “bad” al-Qaeda linked rebels.

But the “good” rebels in the U.S.-backed Islamic Front share the same vision for Syria’s future as the al-Qaeda rebels: a fundamentalist version of Sharia law, where women live in virtual house arrest and where religious minorities are second class citizens (non-Sunni Muslims would simply be butchered, as they are on a regular basis in Syria, which is again minimized or ignored in the Western media.)

The “moderate rebel” lie was further exposed recently when a top leader in the most powerful militia, Ahrar al Sham, within the Islamic Front declared Ahrar al Sham to be the “real” representative of al-Qaeda in Syria, as opposed to the rival al-Qaeda faction that the Islamic Front had recently begun fighting.

Ahrar al Sham has long been known to be an al-Qaeda type Islamist extremist group; the Western media simply chose to ignore it. But when it was recently made official, the U.S. media chose to continue its ignoring stance, since actually reporting on it would destroy their “moderate rebel” lie. The Western media also continues to ignore the fact that the “moderate” U.S.-backed Islamic Front issued a joint statement that aligned itself to the extremist views of Ahrar al Sham, the “real” al-Qaeda.

3) New Evidence of Syrian government “industrial scale” torture.   

The Western media recently blasted the “breaking news” of brand new evidence showing massive “NAZI-like” torture and murder by the Syrian government, released at the beginning of the Syrian peace talks. This may or may not be true, but the lie here is that the Western media promoted the “evidence” as being unquestionably true, when the story doesn’t reach first base when it comes to evidence-based journalism.

All we really know is that there are hundreds of pictures of dead people that a “trusted source” says were killed by the Syrian government. The trusted source was designated as such by pro-Western intellectuals, who have earned professional “credibility” by helping convict war criminals in the International Criminal Court [ICC]. But as author Diane Johnstone pointed out in her excellent book “Fools Crusade,” about the war against Yugoslavia — as well as in other articles — the ICC has long been used by western powers as a tool to create a pretext for war, or a tool to justify a war after the fact.

The evidence of the “NAZI-like” atrocities was written in a study paid for by the government of Qatar, which has long funneled cash, guns, and Jihadis to Syria in aid of the anti-government rebels.

Again, we don’t know if the story is true or not. But such an important investigation should be conducted by the UN or another more objective institution. The same biased dynamic occurred in relation to the infamous chemical weapons attack, where no real evidence was provided, though an unending string of “experts” were quoted in the Western media, testifying to the guilt of the Syrian Government. But when Pulitzer prizewinning journalist Seymour Hersh reported that the Obama administration lied about the rebels not having the capacity to perform such an attack, the Western media simply ignored the legend of journalism. The wrench in the propaganda machine was simply dislodged.

How do these lies become such permanent fixtures in the Western media? An excellent article in the Guardian newspaper recently discussed in depth the principal sources the Western media has used to understand the Syrian conflict.

The article exposed the incredible bias of some of the most important Western media sources on Syria, which is why they were handpicked in the first place to be “expert” sources: they had political agendas that were aligned with the U.S. government’s foreign policy decisions. The other side of the conflict was completely ignored, except when it was targeted for ridicule. Thus, Americans and Europeans have a completely one-sided, if not fantasy-based perspective of what is happening in Syria. This has been systematic since the beginning of the conflict, as happened with the Yugoslav, Afghan, Iraq, and Libya wars.

The result of this media-led ignorance could result in yet more unnecessary deaths in a country that now has millions of refugees and over a 100,000 dead. Obama seems like he intends to exploit these peace talks with the intention of blaming the Syrian government for their failure. Having failed to defeat Assad on the battlefield in a proxy war, the Obama administration is trying to win the propaganda war. And once peace talks have failed, talk of war will resume, since “all other options have failed.”

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org). He can be reached at shamuscooke@gmail.com

Notes

http://www.un.org/News/dh/infocus/Syria/FinalCommuniqueActionGroupforSyria.pdf

http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-syria-talks-20140123,0,992030.story

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/security/2014/01/isis-raqq-ban-music-smoking-impose-veil.html

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/01/17/4620554/key-anti-assad-rebel-leader-acknowledges.html#.Uts02BAo7RY

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0ByBt2sGl4U4hU2lrZGFoeUtkV1k/edit

http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/20/world/syria-torture-photos-amanpour/

http://www.amazon.com/Fools-Crusade-Yugoslavia-Western-Delusions/dp/158367084X

http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/05/06/do-we-really-need-an-international-criminal-court-2/

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v35/n24/seymour-m-hersh/whose-sarin

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/jul/12/syrian-opposition-doing-the-talking

The 4 Big Dangers of Fracking

The 4 Big Dangers of Fracking.

By now you’ve likely heard that the U.S. is expected to overtake Russia this year as the world’s biggest producer of oil and gas. The surge in production comes from a drilling boom enabled by using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, along with, in many places, horizontal drilling. These technologies have made previously inaccessible pockets of oil and gas in shale formations profitable.

But at what cost? Accidents, fatalities and health concerns are mounting. Here’s a look at what we’ve learned about the dangers of fracking in the last few weeks.

1. Exploding Trains

Another day, another oil train accident, it seems. On the night of January 7, a traincarrying crude oil and propane derailed near Plaster Rock in New Brunswick, Canada. A day later the fire continued as locals evacuated, unsure if they were being exposed to toxic fumes.

It’s a familiar story. 2013 went out with a bang in North Dakota when a train carrying crude oil from the Bakken shale derailed and exploded on Dec 30. The ensuing fireballs and toxic smoke caused the evacuation many of Casselton’s 2,300 residents.

Fracking has unleashed a firestorm of drilling in the Bakken (a rock formation under parts of North Dakota, Montana and Saskatchewan). The Casselton accident was the third rail accident in six months in North America involving oil trains from the Bakken (it’s unclear if the Plaster Rock train was carrying Bakken oil). The most horrific was the July derailment and explosion of a train that killed 47 people in the small town of Lac-Megantic in Quebec. The second occurred in Alabama in November.

All of this has grabbed the attention of the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. “Crude oil produced in North America’s booming Bakken region may be more flammable and therefore more dangerous to ship by rail than crude from other areas, a U.S. regulator said after studying the question for four months,” wrote Angela Greiling Keane and Mark Drajem for Bloomberg.

That doesn’t mean shipments will stop, only that trains may be relabeled to say they are carrying a more hazardous cargo.

As Gordon Hoekstra wrote for the Vancouver Sun:

The significant increase in the transport of oil by rail, and the growing evidence that Bakken shale oil is proving itself to be a very explosive commodity, shows that regulations on both sides of the border are not adequate, said Mark Winfield, an associate professor at York University who researches public safety regulation.

Even Robert Harms, who heads North Dakota’s Republican party and consults with the industry, has called for a slowdown, according to Reuters.

2. Workers at Risk

Those who live along train routes aren’t the only ones facing safety risks from the oil and gas industry. NPR reports that accidents among workers in the industry are on the rise—bigtime. From 2009 to 2012 the industry added 23 percent more workers but “the hiring spree has come with a terrible price: Last year, 138 workers were killed on the job — an increase of more than 100 percent since 2009,” wrote Andrew Schneider and Marilyn Geewax for NPR . “In fact, the fatality rate among oil and gas workers is now nearly eight times higher than the all-industry rate of 3.2 deaths for every 100,000 workers.”

Last July, I visited a well pad in New Milton, West Virginia. The following day there was an explosion at the site injuring several workers, two of whom died from their injuries. In my time in West Virginia I met several workers on other sites who were bleary-eyed from long hours on the job.

Sure, jobs are good, but safe jobs should be a priority. Accidents happen in a dangerous industry, but they also increase when workers are kept on the job for too many hours or lack proper training or industry doesn’t follow safe practices.

3. The Accidents You Don’t Hear About

Trains bursting into flames usually (and rightfully) makes the national headlines—especially when fatalities occur. But smaller accidents happen daily that often fail to make it beyond local reporting, if that. Those who live in communities adjacent to the oilfields and gaslands keep their own tallies.

In Tyler County, West Virginia on January 2 an incident occurred on the Lisby natural gas well pad. The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection press release said, “A tank ruptured and leaked fluids to surrounding grounds on the well site.”

“Ruptured and leaked” may be accurate, but more than an understatement. A tank filled with fracking fluid (although the WVDEP hasn’t been able to say for sure what exactly was in it) ignited and ended up across the well pad. “What we’ve been able to determine is that a tank ruptured during the flushing of frac lines,” said Thomas Aluise, spokesperson for the WVDEP. “Vapors formed from the fluids inside the tank and were somehow ignited, possibly by static electricity, but that has not been confirmed. As a result of the ignition and subsequent rupture, the tank was dislodged from its foundation.”

Does this photo look like the tank simply “dislodged?”

 

The tank held 50 barrels of fluid, some of which has leaked into soil, a neighboring property, and potentially into a nearby stream. The explosion happened 625 feet from the nearest house and one person at the site, a contractor who broke his ankle, was injured in the incident. The company, Jay-Bee Oil & Gas, is required to submit plans for soil and water sampling by January 14, which seems like quite a while to wait to take samples if chemicals are leaking into the ground or water sources.

Jay-Bee does not have a glowing corporate record. “The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has cited the company for 21 environmental violations since 2010, and the federal Occupation Safety and Health Administration has cited the company for 38 worker safety violations, “ wrote Gayathri Vaidyanathan for E&E. “The incident suggests that environmental and worker safety violations often go hand in hand.”

How many environmental and safety violations does it take before a company is shut down?

Accidents like this are common across oil and gas country. So are compressor station fires in PennsylvaniaNew YorkNew JerseyWyoming. Or truck accidents, as Food and Water Watch reports: “Heavy-truck crashes rose 7.2 percent in heavily fracked rural Pennsylvania counties (with at least one well for every 15 square miles) but fell 12.4 in unfracked rural counties after fracking began in 2005.”

The Centers for Disease Control reported that the top cause of fatalities in the oil and gas industry are motor vehicle accidents. “[W]orkers drive long distances on rural highways to travel to well sites. Often these roads lack firm shoulders and other safety features,” the agency reports. This puts not just workers at risk, but everyone on the road.

All these incidences won’t make national news, but collectively they add up for the residents who live nearby who may fear for their safety while on the roads or in their own homes.

4. Not So Good for Your Health

Findings presented at a recent meeting of the American Economic Association by researchers from Princeton University, Columbia University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have made headlines. The researchers “looked at Pennsylvania birth records from 2004 to 2011 to assess the health of infants born within a 2.5-kilometer radius of natural-gas fracking sites,” reports Mark Whitehouse for Bloomberg.

“They found that proximity to fracking increased the likelihood of low birth weight by more than half, from about 5.6 percent to more than 9 percent,” writesWhitehouse. “The chances of a low Apgar score, a summary measure of the health of newborn children, roughly doubled, to more than 5 percent.”

The study has yet to be peer-reviewed, so let’s see how it fares. It does not implicate drinking water, however. The most likely culprit is air pollution. Oil and gas operations have been found to release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides, which contribute to ground-level ozone.

So far no communities where fracking is occurring have done a comprehensive health assessment to see how residents may be at risk from activities related to increased oil and gas drilling. Is it time yet?

Putin closes down Russia’s state news agency – Europe – Al Jazeera English

Putin closes down Russia’s state news agency – Europe – Al Jazeera English.

Putin named a controversial figure as the head of Russia Today news agency [Reuters]
Russia’s president has abolished the country’s state-owned Ria Novosti news agency with no explanation issued to its staff.

Vladimir Putin announced the surprise move on Monday through a decree published on his website, saying the organisation would be replaced by a news agency called “Rossiya Segodnya” (Russia Today).

The new company will focus on “coverage abroad of Russian state policy and public life” with multilingual services as a way of “raising efficiency of state media resources,” the document published on the Kremlin website said.

Putin named Dmitry Kiselyov, a controversial figure often accused of being a propaganda mouthpiece and known for openly anti-gay, anti-American, and anti-opposition views, as the head of Russia Today.

“Restoring a fair attitude towards Russia as an important country in the world and one with good intentions – that is the mission of the new structure that I will head,” Kiselyov told the state TV broadcaster Rossiya 24.

“When this news first appeared, everyone thought it was a joke,” Russian protest leader and widely-followed blogger Alexei Navalny wrote on his Live Journal page. “But no.”

The dissolved agency

The news reportedly came as a shock to the staff of RIA Novosti with one employee, who asked not to be named, saying they found out from the Kremlin’s website.

No explanation was given, with an internal email merely warning that a “liquidation committee” would be formed and asked that everyone remained calm.

“The move is the latest in a series of shifts in Russia’s news landscape which appear to point towards a tightening of state control in the already heavily-regulated media sector,” RIA said in an English-language article about Putin’s step.

The agency was one of the biggest in the world and was also an official sponsor of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi next February.

It also recently became known for its detailed live reporting from Russia’s most high-profile trials.

RIA Novosti traced its roots to 1941 when the Soviet Information Bureau was established by communist rulers.

 

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