[The wording in these summaries is Media
For dates, see source info posted in each story]
BBC broadcasts "fake" news reports
The BBC has broadcast pre-packaged Ministry of Defence
propaganda as genuine news. Journalists working for the Services
Sound and Vision Corporation (SSVC) have been commissioned
to provide segments which the BBC has presented as objective
reports. The SSVC is entirely funded by the Ministry of Defence
as a propaganda operation. (SpinWatch, 15/3/05) http://tinyurl.com/6zdxm
Police unhappy with politics of fear
UK police have criticised politicians for exaggerating crime
risks. One Chief Constable said, of an election campaign ad,
"This misleading advert quite improperly seeks to
stir up fear of rising crime when it is a well established
that crime has been falling for years".
("Rising" violent crime figures are technically
correct, but misleading. In 1999 an attack on 3 people would
have been recorded as one crime. But under a new victim-focused
system, it's recorded as 3 crimes.)
Graffiti artist infiltrates top NYC galleries
Banksy, a British graffiti artist, has infiltrated
his own artworks into four of New York's top galleries. These
include a picture of a Tesco value-range tomato soup
can, an oil painting of a colonial-era admiral holding a paint
spray-can (with a background of anti-war graffiti), and a
glass-encased beetle with fighter-jet wings and missiles attached
to its body.
Tax avoidance by the rich a "growing problem"
$11.5 trillion of "tax avoidance" money has been
placed by rich individuals in offshore havens (that's 10 times
Britain's GDP). This figure doesn't include the vast amounts
stashed in tax havens by multinational corporations. "This
is one of the defining crises of our times," says
John Christensen, coordinator of the Tax Justice Network.
(Note: prior to the 1997 UK election, the Labour party ran
party-political TV broadcasts promising to tackle corporate
tax avoidance. Another forgotten promise. UK corporate tax
avoidance now costs Britain £85 billion a year, according
to estimates in the Guardian (12/4/02) enough
to cure "funding problems" in welfare, public transport,
healthcare and education).
"Terrorists might try to target the UK in the run-up
to the election", London's most senior police officer
has said. But, he also says, "it would be 'unwise'
to speculate about whether there was specific information
about risks of a pre-election attack". http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4295489.stm
In other words: "We'll scare the public shitless with
warnings, but we won't provide enough information to let them
decide if those warnings are realistic or spurious or made-up
UK Government lies about Iraq legal advice
The Guardian claims official legal advice given to
the UK government on the legality of attacking Iraq was written
by... the government.
Media scaremongers on burglary
The UK government has issued a leaflet telling people how
much force they can use against burglars. The Daily Mail
and Daily Express both had the headline: "You
CAN Kill a Burglar!" The media continues to fill
peoples' heads with graphic depictions of confrontations with
burglars. Meanwhile, domestic burglaries continue to decrease
in the UK, with the average household being burgled only once
every 50 years (confrontations are even less likely). http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=4091306
Media scaremongers on "Yob Crimewave"
According to a government survey reported by the Sun
and Daily Mirror, one in four boys aged 14 to 17 could
be classified as a "prolific or serious offender".
Sounds bad, doesn't it? What the tabloids fail to mention
is the misleading nature of bracketing together the categories
"prolific" and "serious".
"Prolific offenders" actually includes teenage boys
who occasionally don't pay their bus fare, or steal sweets
from the local shop.
Government shreds documents prior to Freedom of Information
Act coming into force
UK Government departments shredded thousands of documents
prior to the Freedom of Information act coming into effect
on 1st January. Lord Falconer (the government's chief legal
officer) explained that it was good document management to
destroy files that people wouldn't want to see. (BBC Radio
4 'Today', 1/1/05)
Work is no cure for poverty
Last month, the UK government announced: "More people
in work than ever before". Meanwhile, a new study
shows 47% of UK employees have wages that, on their own, are
insufficient to avoid poverty. Currently, 22% of people live
in poverty, compared to 13% in 1979.
New job-creation scheme:
security guards for school toilets
The unemployed in Germany are to be given jobs as school
toilet attendants (to guard toilets against graffiti). For
this they will be paid an extra euro (about 70p) an hour on
top of their regular benefits. Politician Antje Bothe, from
the Christian Democratic Union, said the scheme "would
help the unemployed feel like they were working again".
Credit card "fees" scam
Officialdom has woken up to the "late-payment fee"
scam run by credit card companies (a scam worth billions,
according to the Consumers' Association). The
Office of Fair Trading thinks the practice might be
illegal. It works as follows: you automatically get charged
around £20 if you send your monthly credit card payment
a few days late (or if it gets delayed in the post, etc).
The big banks have been accused of using "bogus accounting
practices to cheat millions of credit card customers with
late payment and other penalty charges." (The Times,
BBC deal to "not criticise" UK government
Former BBC Chairman, Gavyn Davies, described a "deal"
he made with Tony Blair (after the Hutton inquiry): "we,
the BBC, would not criticise the government... and [Blair]
wouldn't call for resignations at the BBC".
Davies seemed to think this was OK. He rationalised: "I
was happy with that ... I didn't think we were a political
party that should criticise the government". As if
not being a political party means you shouldn't broadcast
critical analysis. As if media organisations without direct
political affiliations are automatically "neutral"
and thus "uncritical". As if the public consists
entirely of morons who will swallow such horseshit.
(Source: Channel 4, 'Betrayed
by New Labour', 19/9/04)
US Terror alert bogus
The US administration admits that recent warnings of terrorist
attacks were based on old intelligence (from 2000/2001). There
was no real basis on which to raise the terror alert. The
over-hyped scare of the last few days was well-timed for Bush,
coming just after the Democratic National Convention. http://tinyurl.com/5jegq
(Yahoo news story)
Terrorism at 35-year low
The US State Department has updated figures which show terrorism
at a 35-year low. The number of terrorist attacks worldwide
has dropped to its lowest level since 1969, according to their
latest report. Their graphs are a good antidote to the media
hysteria surrounding terrorism: http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/pgtrpt/2003/31751.htm
ICM accuses Conservatives of inserting
"leading questions" in poll
One of the big polling companies, ICM, claimed that the UK
Conservative Party wanted them to ask "leading questions"
in commissioned polls, with the effect of showing Conservative
policies in a favourable light. (BBC2 Newsnight, 27/4/04)
Blix: Iraq worse off now than under Saddam
Hans Blix has said that Iraq is worse off now than with Saddam.
He told a Danish newspaper: "What's positive is that
Saddam and his bloody regime is gone, but when figuring out
the score, the negatives weigh more". (Associated
Press, 6/4/04) http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0406-01.htm
Government blunder on "Fat Welfare"
The UK government complained that 900,000 people receive
incapacity benefit for obesity, costing millions of pounds
per week. But this was a "blunder" only 900
obese people receive the benefit (costing a thousand times
less than claimed). The government apologised and abandoned
its plans to introduce a tax on junk food. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3506507.stm
Brazil introduces Basic income
Brazil has become the first national government to introduce
a Basic Income guarantee. On January 8th, 2004, President
Lula signed a law decreeing the gradual introduction of a
universal Basic Income for all Brazilian residents. The phase-in
will begin in 2005, starting with those most in need by consolidating
existing federal income support programs. Philippe Van Parijs,
the Belgian activist and Basic Income campaigner, attended
the signing and said it was a "day of glory" for
Welfare for the very rich
The Duke of Westminster, Britain's richest man, receives
a daily handout of GBP 1,000 from the taxpayer. Other
big landowners get similar amounts of welfare (in farm subsidies).
The Duke's PR head said the subsidy "protects" the
jobs of 100 employees. (Guardian, 22/1/04)
Bush demanded excuse to invade Iraq in January 2001, says
The Bush administration started making detailed plans for
the invasion of Iraq within days of coming to office, with
the President himself anxious to find a pretext to overthrow
Saddam Hussein, according to former treasury secretary Paul
O'Neill (The Independent, 12/1/04)
Pentagon Cooks the Books
The Pentagon's auditors spent 1,139 hours doctoring their
own files in order to pass an internal review, say investigators.
This fabrication "certainly violates the spirit and intent"
of government auditing standards and rules on ethical conduct,
said the inspector general's report. (The Independent,
See also: our report on how the Pentagon admitted
to "misplacing" $2.3 trillion: http://www.anxietyculture.com/cbs.htm
Average UK household debt reaches £6,800
Average debt per UK household is £6,800 (excluding
home mortgages). One in 5 people are using credit to pay their
household bills. The number of households experiencing "financial
difficulties" (ie unable to service their debts) will
shortly rise to 1 in 3, according to BBC1 Panorama, 30/11/03.
(Source for average debt figure: BBC Radio 4 'Today', 19/11/03)
People choose free time in preference to money
A recent study shows that more than 1 in 4 British adults
(aged 30-59) choose lower paid jobs, or "downshifting",
in order to have more free time. (University of Cambridge,
Iraq war killed 55,000, claims report
Up to 55,000 people died as a direct result of the Iraq war,
according to a report from Medact (an organisation
of health professionals). Their figure is based on several
sources, including the civilian death figure from IraqBodyCount.org
and press reports of Iraqi armed forces deaths.
They also mention the psychological aftermath of war creating
"enormous anxiety" and leading to increases in mental
disorders, suicide, drug/alcohol abuse and social/domestic
violence. (Associated Press, 12/11/03)
More police = raised fear of crime,
More police doesn't mean less crime, according to the results
of an experiment to increase police presence on the streets
of a Yorkshire village. Contrary to expectations, crime and
fear of crime increased. Professor Adam Crawford, co-author
of the experiment's report, said that "trying to tackle
local order problems through policing and security alone can
have the opposite effect."
Despite historically low levels of crime, the government
recently employed 4,000 new officers. The Conservative Party
pledges to put an extra 40,000 police on the streets.
Public anxiety increases
Research has found that nearly 4 million Britons suffer from
anxiety, depression or bad nerves - a rise of 60% from 2.4
million a decade ago. The authors of a new book, Complicated
Lives, say many anxieties are based on myths because people
worry about things such as crime getting worse when in fact
they are improving. "People have absorbed a host of depressing
falsehoods" said William Nelson, the book's co-author.
1000 Iraqi civilians dying each week
According to Robert Fisk, Middle East correspondent for the
Independent newspaper, 1000 Iraqi civilians are dying
each week, either at the hands of the occupation forces or
as a result of the general social disintegration caused by
New confirmation of dire poverty in UK
One in five UK households cannot pay their water bills, according
to the National Consumer Council (NCC). Millions of
households can't afford basic services (electricity, gas,
water, phone) and are in debt to utility companies. Deirdre
Hutton, NCC chairman, said: "The current system fails
the poorest because of inappropriate regulation of the privatised
utility companies [...] and an income support system that
is out of step with reality."
US Government "misplaces" $3.3 trillion
Beyond Enron and WorldCom lies a much bigger
scandal: the "misplacement" of over $3 trillion
of taxpayers' money by the US government. This story hasnt
gone completely unreported. For example, CBS News quoted
Donald Rumsfeld as saying, "according to some estimates
we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions."
According to Catherine Austin Fitts, former Assistant Secretary
of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), "total undocumented
accounting adjustments [...] for the Department of Defense
[and HUD for fiscal 1998-2000] amount to a whopping $3.3 trillion,
or $11,700 for every American." More
Blair faces lawsuit for war crimes
Legal action against Tony Blair and the UK government, for
"crimes against humanity in Iraq", was taken (on
28/7/03) at the International Criminal Court in Hague, by
the Athens Bar Association (ABA). This concerns 22 war crimes,
breaching the UN charter and the Geneva Conventions, including
the killing of civilians and human rights violations. The
ABA believes it has strong evidence and is seeking the indictment
of Mr Blair, but there are several hurdles to clear (including,
presumably, political ones) before the case proceeds.
George Bush claims to hear God
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz quotes Bush's exact
words (from his recent summit in the Middle East): "God
told me to strike at al-Qaida and I struck them, and then
He instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did".
So, the man with his finger on the nuclear button hears voices
in his head. (Moscow Times, June 27, 2003)
UK forces illegally used cluster bombs on civilians
Adam Ingram, the UK Armed Forces government minister, admitted
in a BBC interview that UK forces dropped cluster bombs in
civilian areas. Richard Lloyd, director of the charity Landmine
Action, said the admission proved the UK government knowingly
breached Geneva Conventions. (Independent, 30/5/03)
Adbusting in The Washington Post!
A full-page ad containing very strong dissent was placed
in The Washington Post on May 16th. It was funded (over
$20,000) by a retired business executive after he saw an "alternative"
video about 9-11. Full story plus downloads of the ad at:
Pope thinks Bush is the Anti-Christ
The political magazine, Counterpunch, reports that
people close to the Pope say the Pontiff "wishes he was
younger and in better health to confront the possibility that
Bush may represent the person prophesized in Revelations".
And, according to journalists close to the Vatican, the Pope
is also concerned that the 9-11 attacks were known in advance
by senior Bush administration officials. There is a perception
within the Roman Catholic hierarchy that a coup d'état
was implemented, giving Bush near-dictatorial powers. http://www.counterpunch.org/madsen04222003.html
BBC Bias over Iraq Confirmed
The BBC's claims of impartiality over Iraq look dubious according
to David Miller of the Stirling Media Research Institute.
He quotes a study of media coverage of anti-war dissent in
five countries showing the BBC featuring the lowest level
of dissent of all. Its 2% total was even lower than the 7%
found on the US channel ABC. The empirical evidence "suggests
a pro-war orientation" in the BBC, he says.
Miller mentions coverage of the coalition victory as an example:
"As Baghdad fell on April 9, BBC reporters
could hardly contain themselves in their haste to endorse
the victors. This was a "vindication" of the strategy
and it showed Blair had been "right" and his critics
"wrong". Here the BBC enunciated a version of events
very similar to that of the government. According to the BBC,
"dozens" witnessed the statue pulled down by US
marines in Baghdad on April 9, while "thousands"
demonstrated against "foreign hegemony" in the same
city on the 18th. Yet the footage of the former was described
as "extraordinary", "momentous" and "historic",
while the larger demonstration was greeted with scepticism.
Are they "confined to a small vocal minority", the
newscaster asked." (Guardian, 22/4/03)