The Nether-World

March 11, 2007

Light Posting

Filed under: Bliar, Democracy, Media, Terrorism, Torture, UK Politics, US Politics — netherworld @ 11:33 am

Apologies for the scarcity of posts here of late. I’ve been a little busy with a few things, but hopefully ‘normal’ service will be resumed sometime soon. In the meantime, here are a couple of things I’ve been writing over at Blairwatch to keep you occupied.

Firstly, it seems that Tony Blair’s statement about him knowing nothing about Extraordinary Rendition and CIA black sites is a load of bollocks (yes, I thought that would surprise you). What seems to be emerging is that he is not only complicit in this programme but actively participating in it. We now learn that that America and Britain asked Poland to host a secret CIA gulag and Blair requested that the Polish Prime Minister to keep this secret from his government. Nice eh?

Secondly, tonight (March 11) the first part of Adam Curtis’ new three-part documentary, “The Trap – What Happened To Our Dream Of Freedom?” is being shown on BBC 2 at 21:00. This will be well worth watching. It is about freedom and how the concept of freedom seems to have changed since the Cold War and how that change came about. As Britain and America go around the world ‘liberating’ oppressed people, and as they try to ‘liberate’ us from the old bureaucracies of the past, they replace what was there before with a strange kind of freedom which bears little resemblance to the freedom we knew before. This series examines how this came to happen and looks at the mechanisms behind this paradox which is, in effect, the losing of our freedom in the name of freedom, replacing it with a new form of social control which entraps us all.

Adam Curtis has generously agreed to do an interview with Blairwatch next week and in order to prepare for it, I managed to get the first two installments of this three part series and I was blown away by what I saw. So I posted a synopsis of the first episode here for those who will be unable to catch the program. I’ll post a synopsis of the second episode once the first has been screened.

Lenin’s Tomb and Ten Percent have also posted stuff about it and from those sites I’ve found reviews of the documentary in The Guardian and Socialist Worker.

Back soon hopefully.

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February 8, 2007

Melanie Phillips And Her Vitriol Against Independent Jewish Voices

Filed under: Iran, israel, Lebanon, Media, Palestine — netherworld @ 5:23 pm

When I heard the news that a group of Jews had got together to speak out against Israeli aggression and to disassociate themselves from the right-wing Zionists claiming to speak for them, I breathed a sigh of relief at this very positive development. Finally some prominent Jewish voices are speaking out loudly enough to be heard above the surrounding din of extremism. I read the articles about Independent Jewish Voices and watched the recent Newsnight programme which featured rabbi David Goldberg and the poisonous Melanie Phillips.

It wasn’t much of a debate I’m afraid. Rabbi Goldberg is far too cultured and genteel to deal with a foaming-at-the-mouth wingnut like Melanie Phillips. Too long a pause in his considered replies would be exploited by the rabid bitch. Even so Melanie was fairly restrained on TV. I don’t know what possessed me to look, but I stumbled upon her webpage and found everything she meant to say… and it really is sickening. It just had to be fisked. So at risk of bringing on another attack by GIYUS, Israel’s little army of cyber soldiers who I’ve seen off before, here goes:

*Deep Breath*

February 8, 2007

Jews for genocide

On Monday night, I debated on BBC TV’s Newsnight with Rabbi David Goldberg, one of the signatories of a group styling itself ‘Independent Jewish Voices’, an unlovely collection of congenital Israel-bashers, many of whom are unfortunately prominent in British public life and are lionised by the rest of the intelligentsia who share the same venomous prejudice.

What does it tell you Melanie, that a number of prominent Jews are prepared to finally speak out against Israeli injustices after remaining silent for so long? They were lionised by the population long before they broke their silence and their prominence in public life is due to their talents in their different professions. When it comes to “venomous prejudice”, do you ever read any of the garbage you write? This latest offering of yours for example has more “venomous prejudice” than I’ve seen in an article for a long time.

Their main beef is that the Board of Deputies of British Jews dares to defend Israel in the name of the Jewish community. It has no right to do so, it seems, because it does not speak for them. Hello? The Board of Deputies?? Are they kidding? The Board is almost entirely silent on the subject.

No Melanie, their main beef seems to be (as Tom from Blairwatch says) that Jewish opinion in the UK and US is being efficiently corralled by PR into narrow support for the Israeli extreme right and their neo-con buddies in the UK and US. They want to speak for themselves, get it?

And since when were many of these signatories part of the British Jewish community anyway? Although some do identify themselves with it, many of them maintain either the most tangential or even no connection with the community or with Judaism whatever. It embarrasses them. The only time they ever identify themselves as Jews is in order to vilify the Jewish nation state, when — grotesquely — they use their ethnic Jewish identity to armour-plate themselves against the charge of Jew-hatred by wrapping themselves in the mantle of Jewish victimisation.

So because their views don’t coincide with yours, suddenly they are not Jews, is that right? Have you explained that to any of the rabbis who have signed up to Independent Jewish Voices. You didn’t do that on Newsnight when you ‘debated’ with rabbi David Goldberg. I’m sure he would be very surprised to learn that he doesn’t identify himself as a Jew. Are you aware that there is a difference between ‘Jew‘ and ‘Zionist‘? Apparently not.

And here they are again indeed posing as Jewish martyrs. Their complaint is that the Jewish establishment is trying to silence them in their heroic attempt to tell the truth about Israel, in which cause it is they who speak with the authentic voice of Jewish conscience. This is just surreal. These signatories are never out of the media with their revolting rants against Israel. Editors fawn respectfully over their every utterance. They dominate the discussion.

I don’t think ‘martyrs‘ is quite the right word is it? Is that what they call themselves? They speak with their own consciences. The media is not a monolith, some media outlets spout the same garbage you do (although usually with less of the “venomous prejudice” which you use). If their views seem to prevail, it might just possibly mean that they are right and you are wrong. Have you thought of that? No, of course not.

On the contrary, their intention is to silence others. The Board of Deputies — made of representatives who are elected by synagogues and other communal organisations and which therefore speaks for the mainstream British Jewish community — is not even to be allowed by these goons to say anything about Israel because, on the rare occasions when it does so, it dares to defend it. The voice of the Jewish mainstream is to be silenced — because they disagree with it.

You’re putting the cart before the horse again Melanie. It is not them who are trying to silence others. The stifling of debate is done by nasty bullies like GIYUS, the on-line army of cyber soldiers sponsored by the Israeli government to shut down any debate which might expose Israel’s crimes. If you are criticising Independent Jewish Voices for getting together to put forward a counter argument, how come you make no mention at all of GIYUS who behave in a manner far more in keeping with your unsubstantiated racist rants.

The essence of the signatories’ complaint, however, is even more offensive. They object to people saying rude things about them in response to what they say about Israel. They just can’t stand the criticism — and so want to silence their critics. They think freedom of speech means they are free to speak, but others are not free to speak about what they say. They think if the defenders of Israel call them names — ‘antisemites’, ‘betrayers’, ‘self-haters’ — this is stopping them from exercising their freedom of speech; but when they themselves call the defenders of Israel names — ‘the far right’, ‘sanitisers of war crimes’ or just ‘insane’ —they are merely stating demonstrable truths.

Sorry, who is it that can’t stand criticism and tries to silence their critics? Is anyone preventing you from speaking? No, I thought not. Are you denying that critics of Israel are called ‘anti-Semites’ and if they happen to be Jewish are called ‘betrayers’ or ‘self-haters’? You imply as much in your third paragraph. You really don’t read the crap you write do you? Either that or you have the memory of a goldfish. As for the labels used against the rabid rantings from your side of the ‘debate’, ‘the far right’, ‘sanitisers of war crimes’ and ‘insane’, well they seem perfectly apt to me, particularly the latter.

Enough of their ludicrous and self-serving bleating. What they say about Israel is loathsome, and fully deserves the maximum opprobrium. On Newsnight, Goldberg trotted out the usual canard that mainstream Jews object to any criticism of Israel. Not true. What his lot serve up is not criticism. It is instead a monstrous campaign of demonisation and delegitimisation based on systematic lies, libels and distortions which presents Israel, the historic victim of almost sixty years of Arab and Muslim aggression and ethnic cleansing from the Jews’ historic homeland, as the aggressors, regional bullies and oppressors of the innocent. Thus these people not only scapegoat the Israeli victims of aggression, but sanitise their killers and thus encourage them still further in their murderous project.

Can we also have an end to your ‘self-serving bleating’ please? What is loathsome is the attempt to justify mass murder of civilians, ethnic cleansing, starvation, house demolitions, assassinations, annexation of land and theft. I notice in your ravings that you fail to address those issues other than the anodyne lie that it’s all self defence. I can see the pattern now in your diatribe; you accuse your opponents of the very crimes Israel is guilty of. Hence saying that Israel is the “historic victim of almost sixty years of Arab and Muslim aggression and ethnic cleansing from the Jews“. Before 1948 there was no Israel, and the inhabitants of that land (the Palestinians) have been, and are still being driven out by people who are for the most part from eastern Europe. Melanie, it’s you who is spouting the canard, and only the people who regularly consume your drivel would believe it.

The group’s founding declaration is: ‘Those who claim to speak on behalf of Jews in Britain and other countries consistently put support for the policies of an occupying power above the human rights of the occupied people.’ But the rights of the Palestinians are being infringed for one reason only: that they are intent upon destroying Israel and murdering its citizens. Israel’s legitimate self-defence in this war of annihilation being waged against it is thus represented here entirely falsely as aggression. That of course is the trick of Palestinian propaganda, which has appropriated the history of Jewish victimisation and turned it on its head, casting the Palestinians as the new Jews and the Israelis as the Nazis — a vile inversion which has been swallowed in its entirety by the signatories to this declaration and by many others on the left.

Everyone has the right to defend themselves. If Israelis have the right to defend themselves against resistance, then the Palestinians have the right to resist occupation and indiscriminate slaughter. Both sides of this conflict are guilty of atrocities, Israeli atrocities are on a much vaster scale however. They might not be on the same scale as those of the Nazis but there certainly seems to be a strong whiff of Nazism in Israel’s behaviour. What else would you call it when one of the world’s best equipped and well trained armies uses its might against a people armed with rocks, Kalashnikovs, RPGs and primitive rockets little better than fireworks, and who are so desperate that some of them are willing to blow themselves (and civilians) up. You cannot deny that Israel is the stronger force and uses that force inappropriately contrary to international law.

On Newsnight, Goldberg stunningly dismissed the hundreds of rockets that have been fired from Gaza into Israel since Israel’s disengagement from that territory as being of no consequence. Thus this self-styled champion of human rights simply refuses even to acknowledge Jewish victimisation, while professing concern only for those who are trying to wipe the Jews out. This man is supposed to be a rabbi? This is not morality, but pathology.

Goldberg didn’t dismiss the hundreds of rockets fired fired from Gaza into Israel, he merely pointed out (or tried to) that the rockets fired pale in comparison to the thousands of shells fired into Gaza. The rockets do occasionally kill and maim. Israeli shells and missiles create a much, much higher death toll. I challenge you to deny that. It is you Melanie, who dismisses the obvious imbalance and disproportionality here. By drawing attention to this fact, rabbi Goldberg was fulfilling his duty as a religious leader and human rights activist.

What has been the Palestinian response to Israel’s disengagement from Gaza? An unending barrage of rockets on Israeli towns and the building of tunnels and import of weaponry in order to unleash even greater death and destruction upon Israel. What has been Israel’s response to Palestinian aggression? Israeli hospitals are currently treating more and more Palestinians injured in the clashes between Fatah and Hamas — people who have been trying to kill Israelis and are now being given medical care in Israeli hospitals on equal terms with Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs. Just who is upholding human rights here, and who is trying to extinguish them?

Israel never really left Gaza. Oh, yes the settlers were removed (and some of them relocated to the West Bank thus exacerbating that situation) but the borders were sealed with no easy way for Palestinians to travel, or trade. They have no access to the sea or air. They are in effect, imprisoned in a giant overcrowded concentration camp and subject to regular Israeli bombardment which for the IDF must be like shooting fish in a barrel. If poor defenceless Israel wasn’t maiming Palestinians, they wouldn’t need to be treated in Israeli hospitals. It should go without saying that if Palestinians had their own well equipped and properly staffed hospitals, they wouldn’t need Israeli ones either, but Israel wouldn’t allow that. That would be too much like independence wouldn’t it? No, far better to show how humane and upholding of human rights Israel is by treating the Palestinians that have been blown to pieces by Israel in Israeli hospitals.

The phenomenon of this Jewish fifth column for Arab and Muslim terror is now doing serious damage to the struggle for survival not just by Israel but by the west in general. Two writers have recently produced withering critiques of these people and the harm they are doing: Bruce Bawer, author of While Europe Slept, and Professor Alvin Rosenfeld, whose article has horrified American liberal Jews who refuse to acknowledge their own faces in Caliban’s mirror.

I find it incredible that you would accuse Jews who object to the wanton violence of Israel as a fifth column. Have you looked up the meaning of that term Melanie? Here it is:

A clandestine subversive organization working within a country to further an invading enemy’s military and political aims.

Now, does that term fit for a group of Jews concerned with Israeli atrocities? I would argue not. In fact if you drop the ‘clandestine’ the term would be fit much better to organisations like AIPAC in the USA or Labour Friends of Israel, Conservative Friends of Israel or Lib Dem Friends of Israel. The clue (seeing as you don’t have one) is “invading enemy’s military and political aims“. Who is doing the invading Melanie? And under the pretense of it being self defence… hmmm what does that remind me of?

One of the most painful aspects of all of the Jewish tragedy is that, throughout the unending history of Jewish persecution — from the medieval Christian converts to Marx and beyond —Jews have figured, for a variety of reasons, as prominent accomplices of those who wished to destroy the Jewish people. These signatories are firmly in that lamentable tradition. And since today’s principal battleground is — as the Islamists well understand but we in the west do not — the battleground of ideas, the contribution of these Israel-bashing Jewish intellectuals to the cause of those who hate Jews, the west and human rights is immense.

No one is denying that Jews have suffered terribly in the past because of European barbarism throughout the ages. It’s a series of shameful episodes in our History. But speaking of History, look at how well Jews and the Muslims you so obviously hate got on in the past. Why should Muslims have to pay for European crimes. If you need a direction to point that huge chip on your shoulder, European Christians would be a more logical target. The current problems between Jews and Muslims in the Middle East stem largely from the theft of Muslim land, aided and abetted once again by European colonial powers. The suffering of Jews in the past does not give some of them the right to commit similar crimes now.

When Daniel Pipes was recently drowned out by Islamists at the University of California-Irvine, this (via LGF) was what they were saying:

They have no future. And it’s just a matter of time before the state of Israel will be wiped off the face of the earth.[Crowd: Takbir! Allahu akbar!] Justice will be restored then. Those people who are there legitimately … the people there will, will rule. There will be no injustice any more there. So just keep on doing what we’re doing. Our weapon, our jihad, our way of struggling in this country is with our tongues. We speak out, and we deflate their morale, and this is the best we can do right now….[Crowd: Takbir! Allahu akbar!]

Fine, go ahead and quote some angry nutcases in a crowd and try to imply that this is the view of all Muslims if you must. As I said earlier, the only people you’ll convince are the idiots who devour your trashy vitriol with such gusto. Even in the passage you quote are words which defeat your ‘argument’. “Our weapon, our jihad, our way of struggling in this country is with our tongues. We speak out…” Wow, Melanie, who’s afraid of free speech now?

At a time when Iran is threatening to nuke Israel into kingdom come, the words of the prophet come to mind: your destroyers are among you.

So Iran is threatening to nuke Israel is it? Are you sure? Would you be so kind as to find me the relevant quote which shows that intention? It wouldn’t be this would it? Oh you really are gullible aren’t you Melanie? Whilst on the subject of nuking people, perhaps you would like to explain this:

A recent strike by nuclear-armed Israeli Air Force fighter-bombers bound for targets in Iran was turned back after being intercepted by U.S. fighters over Iraq, this reporter has learned.

Two sources have independently confirmed the encounter, which took place on January 7, 2007. Though the first informant offered few details beyond an initial tip, a second source long-known by this reporter to have well-placed U.S. and “non-U.S.” military and government contacts provided specific information regarding the raid, which was aimed at the radical religious ayatollahs holding ultimate power in Iran.

What’s it to be Melanie, blanket denial or a claim of “self defence”? We’ve heard plenty of Israeli denials before, followed by admissions of “mistakes”.

Having struggled though all that appalling crap I now need to lie down in a darkened room for a while.

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January 28, 2007

A Quick Question

Filed under: Iraq, Media, Protest — netherworld @ 6:05 am

Has anyone else wondered why the BBC would spend so much time covering the anti-Iraq war protests in Washington when they give minimal coverage to anti-war protests here in the UK? I only ask because I’ve been watching their coverage and it seems much better than what they report of UK protests. They made it the first piece on their News 24 hourly bulletin with a clips of Jane Fonda and a member of Congress speaking. I don’t recall the BBC giving such attention to the numerous similar anti-war protests held in Britain since 2003 when over a million people marched. Is it because it is deemed unusual for Americans to protest against the war (it isn’t incidentally) or is the BBC prevented from adequately covering UK protests but free to report what happens in the USA? I genuinely don’t know the answer.

Last week the Iraq war was debated in Parliament for the first time since 2003 (Tony Blair didn’t seem to have the courage to attend despite his stated eagerness to debate these issues). Outside Parliament was a small group of protesters. No coverage was given to this. But for those brave enough to attempt to use the frankly awful search function on the BBC News website, you can find news of peers protesting outside Parliament about, erm… the right to protest outside Parliament (I don’t remember that being broadcast), something a bunch of us have been doing for some time.

Hopefully this new-found eagerness to report on anti-war protests will mean some of these coming events will get some coverage but somehow I doubt it.

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January 21, 2007

Computer Virus Warning – Attention Bloggers

Filed under: Blogging, Media, Not Politics — netherworld @ 12:38 am

I don’t usually post about anything about computer viruses and worms, but this should be of interest to anyone who receives news alerts via e-mail. Many bloggers are likely to be affected by this malware. There is a nasty virus going about which comes in e-mails with fake news headlines in the subject line.

Storm chaos prompts virus surge

E-mails claiming to contain details of the storms that battered Europe contain a malicious virus, security firms warn.

The e-mails with the subject line “230 dead as storm batters Europe”, can leave computers vulnerable to attack.

The messages were first detected as the storms, which have killed at least 28 people, continued to rage.

Fortunately for me I don’t often blog about the weather and I use a product called Mailwasher Pro to check my e-mails before I download them. However, no system is completely foolproof. I receive a lot of news articles via email and it would be easy to accidentally download a virus or worm if the subject line was different. Today I deleted an e-mail from an unknown source entitled “Russian missile shot down USA aircraft”. That is the sort of thing I’m likely to download and it was only the sender’s e-mail address that made me suspicious. A quick look at the source code confirmed my suspicions, it contained an attachment called Full News.exe.

The new virus, called Small.DAM, was spread through emails with a variety of subject lines purporting to be news. Other variants included “British Muslims Genocide” and “U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza…”

The virus is a trojan – a program or message that look benign but contains malicious code – that is installed when a user opens the e-mail and clicks on an attachment. The attachment could be called Video.exe, Read More.exe, Full Clip.exe or Full Story.exe.

So this is just a word of caution to bloggers and other news junkies. Be careful what e-mails you download and keep your anti-virus software up-to-date (I’m sure most of you do).

*UPDATE*

The Register has more.

 

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January 18, 2007

More On The “Wiped Off The Map” Garbage

Filed under: Iran, Media — netherworld @ 5:50 pm

Earlier this month I wrote about Israel’s threat to attack Iran with nuclear weapons. In the preamble on that post I mentioned how Western politicians and the media have been using an alleged statement from President Ahmadinejad in which he supposedly said that “Israel must be wiped off the map”. I pointed out that this was an inaccurate translation of what he actually said which was more like:

The Imam said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time

I also lamented the fact that that this mistranslation has been used as a pretext to apply heavy military and diplomatic pressure on Iran and that no media outlet (to my knowledge) has attempted to correct this error. As I said in my original post, it was an extraordinarily effective piece of propaganda.

Up until now the only reporting I have seen on this error has been in blogs. However, I have now seen a news source deal with this issue. Not a major news source unfortunately, but what appears to be a news source nonetheless, and it tackles the subject in some detail.

Here are some extracts from the article:

Across the world, a dangerous rumor has spread that could have catastrophic implications. According to legend, Iran’s President has threatened to destroy Israel, or, to quote the misquote, “Israel must be wiped off the map”. Contrary to popular belief, this statement was never made, as this article will prove.

[…]

So what did Ahmadinejad actually say? To quote his exact words in farsi:

“Imam ghoft een rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods bayad az safheh-ye ruzgar mahv shavad.”

That passage will mean nothing to most people, but one word might ring a bell: rezhim-e. It is the word “Regime”, pronounced just like the English word with an extra “eh” sound at the end. Ahmadinejad did not refer to Israel the country or Israel the land mass, but the Israeli regime. This is a vastly significant distinction, as one cannot wipe a regime off the map. Ahmadinejad does not even refer to Israel by name, he instead uses the specific phrase “rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods” (regime occupying Jerusalem).

So this raises the question.. what exactly did he want “wiped from the map”? The answer is: nothing. That’s because the word “map” was never used. The Persian word for map, “nagsheh”, is not contained anywhere in his original farsi quote, or, for that matter, anywhere in his entire speech. Nor was the western phrase “wipe out” ever said. Yet we are led to believe that Iran’s President threatened to “wipe Israel off the map”, despite never having uttered the words “map”, “wipe out” or even “Israel”.

I’m sure anyone who follows current events could not have failed to notice top politicians and reputable news sources like the BBC quote this misquote and see the current danger there is of a conflict with Iran. This does not mean that President Ahmadinejad is not anti-Semitic and hostile towards Israel, or that his regime is a bastion of democratic liberty. Despite Iran still having the largest Jewish community in the Middle East outside of Israel, the Jewish population has dwindled from about 80,000 before the 1979 revolution to about 30,000 today. While there isn’t much overt persecution of Jews, they do seem to be second class citizens in their own country and the remaining Jews seem to live in fear. However, to say that Ahmadinejad wanted Israel ‘wiped off the map’ is a lie and the mainstream media has a duty to correct it.

*UPDATE*

It turns out that someone in the mainstream media has written about this mistranslation. Jonathan Steele in the Guardian wrote a comment piece about it which I obviously missed. Many thanks to Septicisle. from Obsolete for pointing that out to me (I wonder how many others I missed). It’s a pity the article hasn’t made news outlets and politicians more cautious about using the quote.

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November 19, 2006

Git of the Week #1 (of an occasional series)

Filed under: Bliar, Blogging, Civil Liberties, Media, Nu Labour — netherworld @ 10:23 pm

I meant to comment on this earlier so by now it’s already all over the blogosphere, but this story does need to be recorded here too. Actually “git” is probably too polite a word to describe Matthew Taylor, Tony Blair’s outgoing chief strategy adviser who has decided that the reason people are turned off by politics is not the lies and corruption of the politicians but the people who have the audacity to comment on them, particularly bloggers. Talk about shooting the messenger. Anyway, judging by the reaction from the blogs I’ve read so far there is a rare (but unsurprising in this case) show of unanimity, with everyone having pretty much the same message for this patronising idiot. Let’s have a closer look at the comments he made at an e-democracy conference in central London.

Tony Blair’s outgoing chief strategy adviser fears the internet could be fuelling a “crisis” in the relationship between politicians and voters.

If by “crisis” you mean that more people are able to scrutinse and debate Government policy Matthew, that’s not a crisis but a very positive development, one you should be encouraging rather than criticising.

Matthew Taylor – who stressed he was speaking as a “citizen” not a government spokesman – said the web could be “fantastic” for democracy.

But it was too often used to encourage the “shrill discourse of demands” that dominated modern politics.

He was speaking on the day Mr Blair carried out an online interview.

I thought we were all citizens in a democracy, whether we are a part of the Government or not. Are you suggesting that if you were speaking in your capacity of a government spokesman you would have a different set of views? Yes, the web could be “fantastic” for democracy if only you lot would stop meddling with it and trying to impose unnecessary restrictions on it.

Mr Taylor said Mr Blair’s online grilling from voters – and other initiatives such as environment secretary David Miliband’s blog and Downing Street’s new online petition service – showed the government was making good progress in using the internet to become more open and accountable.

But he said more needed to be done by the web community in general to encourage people to use the internet to “solve problems” rather than simply abuse politicians or make “incommensurate” demands on them.

The Government is slowly waking up to the power of the internet and I applaud some of those initiatives, but I hardly think it’s making the Government more accountable. Mr Blair answered only a small handful of questions selected by the journalists conducting the interview. It wasn’t exactly a “grilling” was it? David Miliband’s blog is the laughing stock of the blogosphere. Has it ever veered off message? As for the petition service on the Downing Street website, well the jury is still out. We don’t know if the Government will take any more notice of the petitions than it does of the votes at the Labour Party Conference.

One of the problems the web community is trying to solve is the undemocratic, mendacious and illiberal actions of this government, I’m afraid that requires a little criticism… deal with it! Politicians are servants of the people, so the people are quite right to make demands on them. If Politicians don’t like that then they should be in another line of work.

Speaking at an e-democracy conference in central London, he said modern politics was all about “quality of life” and that voters had a “very complex set of needs”.

The end of deference, the rapid pace of social change and growing diversity were all good things, he argued, but they also meant governments found it increasingly difficult to govern.

Voters do have a “very complex set of needs” and it is the job of the politicians to try and address those needs. Many of those needs are being expressed on the internet. Because there are so many people on-line, there are obviously going to be a lot of differing opinions. Rather than complain about it, look at what people are saying. The end of deference is a good thing, as you say Matthew, but you don’t really mean that do you, otherwise you wouldn’t be saying this:

“We have a citizenry which can be caricatured as being increasingly unwilling to be governed but not yet capable of self-government,” Mr Taylor told the audience.

Like “teenagers”, people were demanding, but “conflicted” about what they actually wanted, he argued.

They wanted “sustainability”, for example, but not higher fuel prices, affordable homes for their children but not new housing developments in their town or village.

I’ve been trying to avoid expletives up until now but … Fuck right off you arrogant, patronising, condescending twat. Yes, we are increasingly unwilling to be governed by a bunch of lying, corrupt, greedy hypocrites like yourself and the rest of the NuLabour junta who are not held to account for their actions. Democracy is supposed to be self-government you idiot. Look it up in a dictionary. Of course people are demanding, and they have different views. Your generalisations of the “conflicted” people are offensive in the extreme which is exactly why you should expect some reciprocation. The examples you give show nothing new. It’s up to governments to balance those conflicts as best they can. If you can’t do that or complain about having to do it then piss off and we’ll find people who can.

But rather than work out these dilemmas in partnership with their elected leaders, they were encouraged to regard all politicians as corrupt or “mendacious” by the media, which he described as “a conspiracy to maintain the population in a perpetual state of self-righteous rage”.

Whether media was left wing or right wing, the message was always that “leaders are out there to shaft you”.

Now where would we get the insane idea that our leaders are corrupt, mendacious and out there to shaft us? The media reporting on the cash for honours investigation, the lies we were told in the run up to the war with Iraq…? Calling the media “a conspiracy to maintain the population in a perpetual state of self-righteous rage” is a little disingenuous when what it does is report on your actions, and anyway, what about NuLaour’s conspiracy to maintain the population in a perpetual state of fear?

He went on: “At a time at which we need a richer relationship between politicians and citizens than we have ever had, to confront the shared challenges we face, arguably we have a more impoverished relationship between politicians and citizens than we have ever had.

“It seems to me this is something which is worth calling a crisis.”

Yes Matthew it is a crisis, one entirely of the Government’s making. The impoverished relationship between politicians and citizens you lament is because of the dishonesty and lack of accountability. The richer relationship you want is partly possible because of a vibrant media and on-line community.

The internet, he told the conference, was part of that “crisis”.

“The internet has immense potential but we face a real problem if the main way in which that potential expresses itself is through allowing citizens to participate in a shrill discourse of demands.

“If you look at the way in which citizens are using technology and the way that is growing up, there are worrying signs that that is the case.

No, the internet is part of the solution. What you call a “shrill discourse of demands” is in fact citizens discussing, debating, arguing and informing. What is wrong with that, and why shouldn’t they use technology to do those things more effectively?

“What is the big breakthrough, in terms of politics, on the web in the last few years? It’s basically blogs which are, generally speaking, hostile and, generally speaking, basically see their job as every day exposing how venal, stupid, mendacious politicians are.

“The internet is being used as a tool of mobilisation, which is fantastic, but it only adds to the growing, incommensurate nature of the demands being made on government.”

Yes, blogs like the mainstream media, can be hostile and if they expose how venal, stupid, mendacious politicians are then they are doing a valuable service. If you don’t like it, why not try being less venal, stupid and mendacious? Anyway not all blogs provide this service, you’ve already mentioned David Miliband’s blog, and there are other blogs which will happily praise your illiberal policies, gloss over your dishonesty and be the deferential compliant citizens you obviously want. I seem to remember you wanting an official blogger for the recent Labour Party Conference. And what about Hazel Blears’ blog? You seem to complain about blogs when they dare to disagree with you, but are quite happy to use them to spread your message.

He challenged the online community to provide more opportunities for “people to try to understand the real trade-offs that politicians face and the real dilemmas that citizens face”.

In other words to shut up and get with the programme… No chance, if it’s all the same to you we’ll just carry on exposing how venal, stupid, mendacious you are. It’s more fun anyway.

“I want people to have more power, but I want them to have more power in the context of a more mature discourse about the responsibilities of government and the responsibilities of citizens,” Mr Taylor told delegates.

The last thing you want is for us to have more power which is why your government has put so much effort into removing as many of our liberties as possible. If you want responsible citizens then lead by example and empower people.

Part of the problem, he added, was the “net-head” culture itself, which was rooted in libertarianism and “anti-establishment” attitudes.

Oh dear! What on earth, may I ask, is wrong with libertarianism? Are you saying that you are opposed to liberty and free will? Judging by NuLabour policies, I suppose the answer is “yes” but that isn’t specified in the rhetoric is it? As for “anti-establishment” attitudes, well Britain has a rich tradition in “anti-establishment” attitudes. It is not a new phenomenon that grew out of the internet, rather a continuation of an old tradition using the internet.

He told delegates: “You have to be part of changing that culture. It’s important for people who understand technology, to move from that frame of mind, which is about attacking the establishment into one which is about problem-solving and social enterprise.”

Technology should be used to encourage elected representatives to communicate better with voters, he told delegates.

Why exactly should users of technology not challenge their leaders and ask pertinent questions?

Government also needed to “develop new forms of consultation and engagement that are deliberative in their form and trust citizens to get to the heart of the difficult trade-offs involved.”

And there should be more effort to make communities “work together to solve problems,” said Mr Taylor.

This government has shown no trust in its citizens and should therefore expect no trust from its citizens. “Work together to solve problems,” is a NuLabour euphemism for “keep quiet and do as your told”. After ten years in power that has become fairly apparent to many people.

Mr Taylor is Tony Blair’s chief adviser on political strategy and the former head of the centre left think tank the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR).

He is leaving Downing Street next week, after three years, to become the chief executive of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts (RSA).

I’m glad you’re leaving Downing Street Mr Taylor. Hopefully you’ll do less harm working in the RSA, but be warned, artists can be notoriously anti-establishment. I doubt they will be any more deferential and compliant than the numerous bloggers who have such a low opinion of you.

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English al Jazeera gets off to a flying start

Filed under: Bliar, Iraq, Media — netherworld @ 6:38 pm

The new English language al Jazeera channel which was launched last week has gotten off to a very good start. In an interview with Tony Blair, Sir David Frost managed to tease out what has been interpreted by much of the media as an admission that the invasion and occupation of Iraq has been pretty much of a disaster.

When Frost said the situation in Iraq had “so far been pretty much of a disaster”, Mr Blair replied “it has”, before adding quickly: “But you see what I say to people is why is it difficult in Iraq?

“It’s not difficult because of some accident in planning.

“It’s difficult because there’s a deliberate strategy – al-Qaeda with Sunni insurgents on one hand, Iranian-backed elements with Shia militias on the other – to create a situation in which the will of the majority for peace is displaced by the will of the minority for war.”
Source

Well who would have suspected that Sir David Frost could have prompted such a controversial remark? What I find astonishing is that Blair, rather than accept any responsibility for the “disaster” in Iraq, is blaming the victims of his invasion for, erm… fighting back. Apparantly this possibility wasn’t considered in the original war plans. Amusingly, Downing Street is spinning like mad to distance itslf from Blair’s “ straightforward slip of the tongue“.

But Downing Street insisted his views had been misrepresented and that he had not made “some kind of admission”.

[…]

A spokesman said the prime minister often agreed with interviewers when he responded to their questions.

[…]

Downing Street insisted it was not Mr Blair’s view that the violence in Iraq had been a disaster.

A spokeswoman said: “He was simply acknowledging the question in a polite way before going on to explain his view.

“To portray it as some kind of admission is completely disingenuous.”
Source

I’ll leave it to readers to decide just how much of a slip of the tongue it was.

For some more in-depth analysis check out A Big Stick and a Small Carrot and Obsolete.

Earlier, a former al Jazeera producer, Afshin Rattansi was interviewed by Martha MacCallum on Fox News’ “Live Desk” show. It seems that Martha’s unfounded statements that Al Jazeera broadcast video of terrorists beheading people backfired on her.

Interviewing someone who actually knows something about Al Jazeera was MacCallum’s first mistake. She should stick to interviewing people from the Christian Broadcasting Network, who have no facts at their disposal, only opinions that are the same as hers.

The first thing Rattansi did was point out that the English language Al Jazeera is being distributed in the United Kingdom by Fox News’ parent company. Probably not the way the boss’s memo said the interview should start.
Source

And Fox calls al Jazeera a propaganda channel.

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September 14, 2006

Me talking about Gordon Brown on American radio

Filed under: Bliar, Blogging, Gordon Brown, Media, UK Politics — netherworld @ 1:29 pm

Well that was an interesting experience! Yesterday I was invited to record my thoughts on Gordon Brown for a discussion about the rise and fall of Tony Blair on an American radio show. The hour-long conversation I had was edited down to about a minute for the broadcast so many of the points I made were lost unfortunately. However it was a very interesting show which featured Rachel from North London, Iain Dale and Robert Guest, Washington Editor of The Economist.

Open Source Radio is unlike anything I’ve come across before; part radio show and part blog. It gave plenty of time to really explore a topic. As Iain points out on his blog:

I can’t imagine the BBC devoting an hour’s radio time to this or any other subject. After all, they think we can’t concentrate for more than four minutes at a time. Think how often you hear a BBC interviewer say the words ‘that’s all we’ve got time for’.

Rachel and Iain came across very well, both of them managing to describe the political climate in Britain at the moment in different ways.

You can listen to the show here.

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September 13, 2006

Reply from the BBC

Filed under: Lebanon, Media, Protest — netherworld @ 11:42 am

Last month I complained to the BBC about its awful coverage of the huge demonstration in London in which about 100,000 people protested against the war in Lebanon and Tony Blair’s refusal to call for an immediate ceasefire. You can read the letter I wrote here. I promised that I would publish any response they gave.

Today I have finally received a reply from the BBC and, as promised, here it is.

Dear Mr Simonetti

Thank you for your e-mail regarding the 5 August edition of the BBC ‘Ten O’clock News’.

Please accept our apologies for the delay in replying. We know our correspondents appreciate a quick response and we are sorry you have had to wait on this occasion.

I appreciate your concerns that there was insufficient coverage of the Stop The War Coalition peace demonstration in London.

The choice of which news stories to report in our programmes is often very difficult. Editorial staff always have more news reports than can be fitted into the time available. Their choice has to be selective and no matter how carefully such decisions are made, they are always aware that some people may disagree with them. Unlike newspapers, news programmes do not have the luxury of the inside pages or specialist sections that enable newspapers to carry a wide range of reports.

I can assure you that the story was not ignored and was reported in various BBC News reports. One of these reports is still available to view at the following website:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/5246790.stm

Additionally, we are very grateful for your feedback in this matter. Please be assured that I have registered your complaint and concerns on the daily log, this is an internal document which will be made available to the ‘Ten O’Clock News’ production team as well as the senior management of the BBC.

May I take this opportunity to thank you again for taking time to contact the BBC.

Regards Jonathan Dunlop BBC Information __________________________________________________ http://www.bbc.co.uk/ – World Wide Wonderland

I am grateful that the BBC took the time to reply to my letter, however, I don’t feel that the points I raised have been addressed. I wasn’t specifically criticising the BBC’s ‘Ten O’clock News’, but also news 24, which has more time explore an issue, and the other news bulletins that the BBC broadcasts (there certainly seemed to be plenty of time to cover the day’s sporting events). I was aware of the coverage on the BBC website as I mentioned in my letter and I found that also lacking in detail and analysis. My point about not showing clips of any the speeches was not addressed either, nor was the important issue of the number of people attending and the lack of aerial shots.

I shall be replying to Jonathan Dunlop shortly and I will mention these points. If anyone thinks that there are other points regarding the BBC coverage of the August 5th protest that should be raised, please get in touch via the comments.

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