Look at this story. Look at the banner. It is making an intelligent point – that the regime in Saudi Arabia is pretty distasteful by Western standards – they do indeed carry out beheadings and persecute minority groups. They do not respect ‘civil rights’ in a Western sense. The claim that the regime is involved in terrorism may be arguable but there is no doubt at all that the regime ordered the bloody and revolting murder of a critic in their embassy in Istanbul. The statement from the fans is informed and intelligent political comment; they are simply pointing out the double-standards from the Premier League in supporting women’s football and gay rights in the UK while allowing a regime which has built in suppression of women’s rights and which suppresses homosexuals to take a big stake in English football. (PIF – which has taken ownership of Newcastle is the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia). There is nothing racist about the banner. Zero.
Yet – people are apparently being investigated by the police for displaying it.
There is really pretty alarming stuff; the police acting in support of corporate interests controlled by a rather nasty regime (by normal Western standards) to prevent informed public criticism of those interests. The Guardian simply reports the story giving plenty of space to Newcastle’s PR efforts. No comment. All normal for the Guardian.
This one is arguably even worse. No one is having to live in fear of prosecution by the state for commenting that one of the allied regimes of the state has a bad human rights record but in this case academic discussion is being shut down. A youth worker has complained that a history text book for schools about 19th century America asks students the question: “To what extent do you believe the treatment of Native Americans has been exaggerated?”. The youth worker has kicked up a fuss – on Twitter and the publisher has withdrawn the book.
Let’s be clear; this is a valid question. (Even if poorly worded – it should say “bad treatment”). Of course there will be those who might want to exaggerate the bad treatment of Native Americans by the colonisers – and it is the job of historians to see through any such attempts and establish an objective conclusion. The book is training students to think about history. It is asking a question. In academic circles many questions can be posed and entirely without implying that the answer will be Yes. It is perhaps telling that the complainant is described as a youth worker who “offers history mentoring lessons to students”. Does she understand how academia works? Apparently not; but it is a sign of the times that the publisher has bowed down before this ignorance. This is a sign that children are not allowed to think. They are simply to be fed the correct single-truth uncomplicated party line. (The treatment of Native Americans was terrible and we should all feel guilty and ashamed). The tradition of free enquiry and thought is being silenced before our eyes. It really is very worrying. For clarity; of course Native Americans had a terrible time at the hands of the colonisers and were to all intents and purposes wiped out as a civilisation – but asking whether in the present day or since then there might not be those who exaggerate this (just asking) is a very valid training in history studies for students. The complainant cannot even tolerate the exercise of considering alternative points of view.
This post is just a stub. I’ll expand it later.
On 29 August the US murdered 10 people in Kabul. 7 of them were children. The alleged ISIS terrorist turned out to be a worker for a US funded NGO.
This massacre followed an ISIS attack on Kabul airport in which 13 US servicemen died. That that attack happened – at least that it killed US servicemen – is extrordinary. In the preceding days the US stated publically that an attack was imminent. They even knew the exact location to within a matter of meters.
These two events have a common thread. The common thread is that decisions are being made based on thinking about how to manage the media narrative. Incredible though it sounds policy decisions and in fact military operational decisions are being made by the PR team of the current administration based on how the story will play out in the media.
They kept the servicemen (soldiers not high ranking officers obviously) standing around the airport gate even though it was a near certainty they would be killed, because they were, for political reasons, desperate to avoid headlines about abandoning their Afghan allies. The Democrats did this to stop the Republicans gaining an electoral talking point. It seems that the military went along with it. That is the military sacrificed 13 low ranking service men so the Democrats don’t lose power. It is not a question of the Democrats planning a coup. They’ve already staged one.
The reckless attack on a civilian home was designed to make sure that the last attack of the whole debaclé was a US one. That the humiliating exit was not remembered for the ISIS attack. After suspicions arose that it had been a mistake the US military simply tried to lie and brazen it out. All that mattered was that the record showed a successful ‘righteous strike’ against ISIS. It is the narrative they are controlling not the terrorist threat. It was only because of the excellent reporting by the New York Times that they admitted it had been an error. Again – the terrible decision making was precisely because they were so keen to manage the narrative.
Who is the narrative being managed for? To some extent it is about the world image of the US; this is especially the case with the strike on the alleged terrorists. But much of it is about a domestic political audience. The Democrats could not be seen to have abandoned their Afghan allies.
The combination of electoral ‘democracy’ and the mass media transmitting highly curated narratives to the electorate does not, it seems, always lead to good outcomes. Not does this look anything like democracy in the sense of rational adults discussing and deciding the best policies. It is of course all about Manufacturing Consent. It shows an almost unimaginable degree of cynicism on the part of those involved in these decisions.
‘Russia’ is now used by the media as click-bait.
Only in the bizarre and delusional world of UK liberal journalism could a President saying, in response to a journalist’s question, that if someone breaks the law they will be penalized under the law be described as a threat.
This is the Independent saying that Putin was ‘threatening’ a journalist who won the Nobel prize when he said, apparently, that Russia’s law on Foreign Agent designation would apply if the journalist did something which merited in law the application of this law. He was answering a question about this journalist. If you think about it he can’t really have answered otherwise.
To report this as Putin ‘issuing a thinly veiled threat’ is just cheap sensational journalism.
Meanwhile – on the main news story of the day if not the century – did Sars-Cov-2 come from a lab in Wuhan, silence.
The tens of thousands of deaths don’t appear to have encouraged government and NHS leaders to think that now might be the time to be frank with the public about pandemic related failures. No. They are in full cover-up mode.
It turns out that in 2016 a simulation exercise was done which recommended: stocking PPE, being prepared with a test and trace system, and being ready to impose border controls. All factors which would have made a massive contribution to reducing the number of dead grannies and grandpas in the UK.
The government and NHS leaders and DHSC managers did not act on the recommendations of this exercise. No wonder the government tried to block release its report.
The people who saw this report and did not act on it and then tried to hide this earn salaries far far in excess of the national average. (The management committee of Public Health England earned between £100,000.00 and £260,000.00 each in 2018/19).  It does not appear that protecting the public features high on their list of priorities. On the other hand – smooth morality free statements is something they are good at: check the snake-like statement from the spin manager at DHSC at the end of the Guardian article. (In fact Sars-Cov-2 and MERS-CoV are quite similar in many respects. And it is an obvious lie; if the exercise was about MERS-Cov then they still should have implemented its findings; otherwise why did they hold the exercise? Or did they just hold it to pass the time?).
If the argument is – as it appears to be – that they did implement the findings on a small scale because MERS epidemics are likely to be small and contained, that still fails. They had the report and should have been able to activate it, adapt it and apply it in early February 2019 after the WHO warned of a worldwide health emergency related to a coronavirus  – the same kind as MERS.
These people sponge off the public – live lives of incredible luxury – and even then taking some simple decisive actions, making a little effort, (at no personal cost to them) is too much for them.
- https://newobs.files.wordpress.com/2020/08/phe_annual_report_2018_2019_print.pdf page 118
- The warning was given on 30 January 2019.