Saturday, 31 December 2016

The Eve of the Year of Destruction?

Given the incoming US President's reported enthusiasm for using nuclear weapons those readers who like a flutter might be interested to know you can get decent odds with some bookmakers on the likelihood of a nuclear war breaking out in 2017 - be advised however that collecting your winnings might prove problematic.

A Happy Nuclear sorry i mean New Year.

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Another shocking assault on 'British values'

These Muslims coming over here and feeding our homeless!!! Don't they know people being starving and lonely on Christmas day is one of the great British traditions.

A Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to all this blogs readers - or as we say in Wales Nadolig llawen a blwyddyn newydd dda.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Fake news is nothing new

Unless you were on another planet last week then you would have seen reports of US government officials accusing their Russian counterparts of interfering in the US election.With these allegations ranging from Russian hackers sabotaging electronic voting machines in some American states to claims the Russian government flooded US social media with fake stories about Hilary Clinton, indeed some leading democrats have gone a far as accusing the Russians of costing Clinton the presidency

Now i'm not in any position to comment on the veracity of such claims, but i do know enough about how US administrations work to treat some of the claims they make with some caution. Also let's be honest it was the intervention of the Director of the FBI 10 days before polling which probably had the greatest bearing on the outcome of the US election, that and the Democrats selecting a candidate as widely disliked and distrusted as Hilary Clinton was.

But it's important to remember that Fake news is nothing new and that it existed long before the internet and social media were ever even thought of.The mass murdering British Monarch Henry Vlll used his functionaries to spread malicious allegations (fake news) about most of his wives in order to justify annulling his marriages to them and their Beheadings (yes we were beheading people long before ISIS). The British government used fake stories of German soldiers raping Belgian nuns to build popular support for its involvement in the first world war

While states like the US have been practicing the dubious art of spreading fake news for decades.The Gulf of Tonkin incident which the Johnson administration used to gain congress support to increase US involvement in Vietnam - and which would lead directly to the catastrophic Vietnam war - was a lie and what today we would call 'fake news' Similarly in the months prior to the first Gulf War in 1991 readers of newspapers in western countries began to read horror stories of Iraqi soldiers throwing new born babies out of incubators in Kuwait - again these stories were completely baseless.

In 1999 the western media was fed stories by NATO spokespeople of the mass killings of ethnic Albanians by Serb forces in the former Yugoslavia. And these false stories were enough to win public support in Britain and America for NATO to bomb Serbia, and which would infamously see the RAF dropping cluster bombs on Serbia (another war crime Tony Blair appears to have got away with) While probably the most insidious example of 'fake news' in history occurred just a few years ago when Bush and Blair lied about Iraq having 'weapons of mass destruction'. 

And the modus operandi is always the same. So called 'intelligence experts' and government officials accuse the government or enemy it wants to attack/remove of perpetrating or planning to perpetrate some terrible act or other and these claims are dutifully and uncritically reported as facts by various outlets in the print and broadcast media. Indeed it is for this precise reason that both the CIA and MI6 have for many years planted scores of operatives in the the US and British print and broadcast media

In addition to enabling Governments to get away with military actions on seemingly non existent evidence another serious consequence of what is state sponsored 'fake news' has been that it seems to have bred a general sense of cynicism among the public - to the extent where they now end up doubting the truth of any major news story. Thus within hours of the cowardly murder of the Russian Ambassador to Turkey yesterday idiots began popping up on on social media suggesting that either the Ambassador's murder never happened (ie it was staged) or even more bizarrely the Russians had arranged the murder of their own Ambassador themselves.

Indeed this blog witnessed a very depressing example of this type of idiocy when an anonymous poster seriously suggested in the comments section of a blog posting that the Remain campaign planned the murder of Jo Cox We are certainly right to bemoan the baleful and corrosive influence of fake news through social media and it's good to see that companies like facebook are looking at ways of addressing this growing problem But let us also remember that governments and political leaders have been deploying fake news for decades - and getting away with it!  

Monday, 12 December 2016

A very unsocial media

There's no question the internet and social media in particular has transformed how we communicate with each other. Through the wonders of twitter fans of famous people can now communicate - and even argue - directly with celebrities, where previously time consuming letters would need to be written and posted (almost certainly going unread anyway). And via facebook people can accumulate vast numbers of 'friends'. Indeed i know people who can boast of thousands of 'facebook friends' - the fact they have never met 99 percent of these people and might only have half a dozen friends in real life seems not to trouble them. But while there can be no question of the extent to which social media has transformed how we communicate with one another this transformation it must be said also has its grim side.

Following the murder of the MP Jo Cox twenty five thousand people tweeted support for her deranged Nazi murderer Thomas Mair. The Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood was the subject of rape and murder threats earlier this year The prominent Remain supporting MP Anna Soubry was the target of a recent tweet in which someone said she should be 'jo coxed' ie murdered, while Gina Miller and her family have been put under police protection as the result of online death threats from far right opponents of her legal action on whether the UK parliament should be consulted about the brexit agreement.

Only last week a British neo fascist received a two year jail sentence for an online campaign of racial harassment targeted at the Jewish MP Luciana Berger And in the last couple of days the growing and extremely disturbing trend by which people with extreme right wing views use social media to target those they disagree was made even more real for me when a good friend of mine - Martyn Shrewsbury - was the subject of online threats from another apparent graduate of the far right's school for keyboard warriors

There's certainly something about social media which brings out the worst in some people and there can be no doubt that it has emboldened the far right in Britain and further afield in recent times. Witness the statistics released by google this week showing one of the search engines most used online searches is by people querying if the holocaust took place?

While 'fake news' spread via social media has been credited with the Leave Europe campaign winning the EU referendum and the unexpected triumph of Donald Trump in the United States Indeed thanks to the disinformation and fake news being disseminated by far right groups on social media it's now being seriously speculated that we might not any longer recognise fascism if we saw it.
And if all of this wasn't alarming enough then there's the increase in the incidences of people broadcasting their own death via social media. In the latest sickening example Yahoo news last week carried a horrific report of a fatal car crash involving two American teenagers that went out live on facebook.

How long before we start seeing state executions in China or the United States broadcast live via facebook or gang rapes by drugs cartels going out on Skype? And if you think there wouldn't be an audience out there for such repulsive things you'd be mistaken - the profitable worldwide trade in images of bestiality, rape and child porn ought to tell you that. Maybe the sickening beheading videos carried out by the medieval homicides of daesh - and still freely available to view online - have just been softening us all up for live twitter feeds of lethal injections from the Huntsville Penitentiary in Texas? (The new tenant arriving in the White House would likely be an avid viewer).

Clearly you don't have to be Sigmund Freud to see that for all its popularity the internet and social media is changing people - and almost certainly not for the better. So much so that 'anti social' media would perhaps be a more fitting epithet. Indeed if i was seriously inclined to believe in such things i might begin to wonder if social media was the work of the devil?

Friday, 2 December 2016

Deafening silence on Rohingya

Being the recipient of the Nobel peace prize doesn't automatically confer great humanitarian status on an individual - after all a certain Henry Kissinger received the award shortly after overseeing the carpet bombing of Cambodia and Laos over Christmas 1972. But bizarre aberrations like Kissinger aside recent winners of this prestigious award make a pretty impressive roll call. In the last quarter of a century winners have included the teenager Malala Yousafzi, the East Timorese independence campaigner Jose Manuel Horta, Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama.

Another winner in that time was the Burmese democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi. Subject to house arrest by the Myanmar (Burma) authorities for 15 years Suu Kyi became an international symbol for non violent struggle against a dictatorial regime. And in recent years the democracy movement she led has swept to power with Suu Kyi herself elected to the countries parliament, and she is now the countries de facto prime minister.

As well as the emergence of Suu Kyi Myanmar has also been in the news in recent years for less positive reasons however - namely frequent murderous attacks on Myanmar's Muslim population by the Myanmar police, army and Buddhist gangs.There are around one million Rohingya in Myanmar and they have lived there for generations. However Myanmar's largely buddhist population still views the Rohingyas as 'foreigners' from Bangladesh - but Bangladesh doesnt recognise the Rohingya as its people either! And alas their terrible plight has generally goes unnoticed by the world at large.

It means that - like the Kurds, the Tamils and until recently the Palestinians - the Rohingya have fallen into that grim category known as 'stateless people'. People who's identity isn't recognised where they live and who arent recognised internationally either and for whom violent persecution is the norm.

In recent years Buddhist attacks on Rohingya villages have become frequent. Tens of thousands of have been murdered, raped and driven from their homes prompting a UN representative to accuse the Myanmar authorities of ethnic cleansing. Thousands of Rohngya have drowned in capsized makeshift boats desperately trying to flee these attacks.Indeed so dire has life in Myanmar become for the Rohingya that some have accused its government of perpetrating genocide.

You would have thought then that a prominent human rights campaigner like Suu Kyi would have been quick to call a halt to the atrocities taking place in her country and condemned those carrying them out? Not a bit of it! Aside from a vague statement calling for 'dialogue on all sides' she has remained silent on the issue and repeatedly refused to condemn the attacks - even ignoring a plea from the Dalai Lama to do so. She even appeared to give encouragement to anti rohingya feeling by questioning whether they are Burmese at all.

Suu Kyi's supporters have tried to justify her refusal to condemn the persecution of the Rohingya on the grounds that she fears reprisals from Myanmar's military if she does so. But is that explanation credible? This is someone who after all openly defied the countries dictators for years no doubt putting her life in danger in the process. So it simply doesnt wash that she is now afraid to speak out on human rights abuses in her country.That wise old adage about some heroes having 'feet of clay' seems very apposite in Suu Kyi's case

I'd urge everyone reading this to raise the matter of the Rohingya's persecution with Myanmar's UK Ambassador

This website shows other ways we can help the Rohingya