The pseudo-left in British politics likes to bang on about “austerity”. “Tory austerity”. Is it true? Is there such a thing as “Tory austerity”?
This is one of these dreamy, naive to the point of absurdity, articles we come across so often in the Western press these days. Of course, like your bank’s “errors” always seem to be in their favour so the naivety always seems to coincide with the interests of the imperialists. Still, in many cases, it probably is simply extreme naivety. These children who went to school, enjoyed their “circle time” (a programming system used in schools to infantilize and control young students by getting them to “share their feelings”), believed every last word the teachers said and then went on to “Uni” (probably on their horsey) where their parents accompanied them to the interview and their lecturers were careful to avoid “trigger words” in lectures. Maybe they go on to take a Masters in “War Studies” at King’s College, London. Then they came out and got a job as a “journalist” writing down every word that the US State Department and MI6 tells them to.
Christmas and the propaganda never stops.
I very rarely watch the BBC news. (Only if I am staying with someone who does watch it).
Last night’s 24 hours bulletin was the usual fare of shoddy reporting and propaganda for political class  ideologies. As usual (at least when I watch it) the majority of the presenters are women and/or black and/or obviously gay. Last night out of several presenters/reporters only one was not a black woman. The token man was not an attractive specimen – huge and overweight with a bland sagging face. I couldn’t help wondering if he hadn’t been chosen deliberately – to mock the genre. He certainly didn’t know how to report, referring to the 20 ‘other charges’ against actor Kevin Spacey for historical sexual assault. In fact he meant allegations. There is only one charge. The media often take advantage of someone under pressure on sex abuse/assault charges and drop the normal standards by which allegations should be reported as allegations and charges as charges. (Presumably the media has a good sense of when someone is under too much pressure to be able to respond to each and every piece of false reporting). The ‘reporter’ was introduced by a third-rate presenter who in effect giggled as she read the piece – as if to say out loud “hysterically funny but he denies these charges which we all know are true”. And, of course, they are “true” – given that, these days, sexual assault verdicts are reached against (almost entirely white men) in public media trials, not by the courts and the doctrine that “allegations must be believed” means in fact that all allegations are treated as true anyway. News reporting in the Western media is no longer anything to do with facts – it is all about creating media narratives. In this case one in which white men are always the villain.
Meanwhile over in today’s Guardian there is a report on the case of the two Americans who have been arrested in China. This is widely seen as retaliation for the arrest of a Chinese businesswoman in Canada following a request for extradition by the US. The US wants to try Meng Wanzhou for breaking US sanctions on companies doing business with Iran.  Wanzhou was snatched as she was transferring through Vancouver. The attempt to extend US law all over the world is rightly described by Sergey Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister, as “revolting”. The Guardian ends its report with “She [Wanzhou] is living under electronic surveillance in a luxury home in Vancouver, welcoming visitors daily and updating her social media page. Kovrig and Spavor [the 2 US Citizens held in China] have been held under more difficult conditions and denied access to lawyers.”. This is interesting because it mixes up political and legal matters. Wanzhou has been released under a large bond and under stringent bail conditions by a court following Canadian law and a court hearing. Kovrig and Spavor are also being treated in accordance with the law – Chinese law.  This comment invalidates China’s right to have a different legal system to that of the US and indeed shows a failure to even understand that there is such a thing as a legal process. This report is credited to AFP – a media organisation owned by the French state. Such blatant imperialism is precisely the mindset of the new media class in the West.
A campaign at home to undermine all the former bastions of authority – the law, white men, the family (all this presented as the height of progressive thinking) – and a crude and retrograde colonialism abroad. Such is the ideology of the new media and political classes in the West.
1. The Triumph of the Political Class. Peter Oborne. Simon & Schuster 2007
This is an article by one of the people who work for the Guardian newspaper posing as journalists but who are in fact propagandists. These people have essentially the same attitude to the press as people who produce copy for the State Department funded propaganda channel Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty. The press exists in order to wage war by other means. After all propaganda is cheap. If you have to tell a trough of lies to undermine your “enemy” then that is better than losing lives on the battlefield. And if it helps the American Empire expand then it must be good. After all “freedom” is an absolute good…. This is Shaun Walker:
Remarkable work by The Insider, a Russian news outlet, and the online sleuths of Bellingcat has pulled back the veil of secrecy from a number of GRU operations, which have included a failed coup attempt in Montenegro, involvement in the shooting down of a Malaysian Airlines jet over eastern Ukraine in 2014, and the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury earlier this year.
“online sleuths” – is a euphemism for describing the activities of an online blogger notorious for peddling low-grade stories which are lapped up by the Western press solely because they always find the right culprit. The absolute ignorance about basic forensic standards which characterised “Bellingcat’s” fake news story about MH17 (see here) – doesn’t bother these people in the slightest. They either don’t understand basic science themselves or just know that 90% of people just read the news headlines – or both. “Pulling back the veil of secrecy” is one way of describing fifth-rate fake forensics but it ain’t journalism – Shaun Walker should be writing for Radio Free Europe. Needless to say the “failed coup attempt in Montenegro” is contested. But all this is how this propaganda proceeds. If you repeat your claims as truth often enough eventually you end up believing them to be part of the fabric of reality yourself.
Quite possibly a Russian intelligence agency was behind the alleged attempted poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter. If this was the case then maybe the Kremlin knew about it in advance; or maybe they didn’t. There is quite a lot of material in the public domain which makes the former quite a strong possibility.
All this makes it all the more surprising that the Guardian incessantly lies when they write about Russia. If they want to criticise Russia there is surely plenty to write about without lying?
These are the lies in Mr Roth’s piece:
i. The piece is headlined “Vladimir Putin calls Sergei Skripal a scumbag and a traitor”. However; in his actual remarks Putin called Skripal a traitor and then went on to say that surely seeing a traitor as a ‘scumbag’ is the natural reaction. (The Russian word he used is подонок for which Wiktionary offers the following translations “rogue, bastard, rat, scum, scoundrel”). That is – for Putin Skripal is a traitor and it follows from this that he is a rogue/rat/scum/scoundrel. To report this as “scumbag and traitor” i.e. to change the word order obfuscates Putin’s principled position – he doesn’t like traitors, and for Putin it follows from this that Skripal is a подонок. Furthermore; the word “scumbag” appears to be the worst possible translation of the Russian word Putin used. These errors are likely not unintentional. Mr Roth wants to tell a story about how terrible Putin is and he will distort the facts to prop up his story.
ii. “The novichok used was one of a number of nerve agents developed in the Soviet Union”. This is tendentious. Indeed this lie has already been called out. The substance allegedly used has been identified as being of a type which was developed by the Soviet Union. However, the specific material that was used in Salisbury could have come from a wide number of countries (including Britain) with the knowledge and capacity to produce this kind of agent.
iii. “Investigative journalists claim they have identified one of the two men as Col Anatoliy Chepiga, a military intelligence officer who strongly resembles one of the two suspects.” This refers to claims by a blogger called “Bellingcat”. Bellingcat specialises in scouring social media to find material to bolster NATO narratives on various matters. His analytical abilities do not reach the standard required of an investigative journalist – as this website has shown. Citing the weak ‘analyses’ by this propagandist as the work of an “investigative journalist” is one way that Western propagandists/journalists produce their narratives.
iv. “The Kremlin has said it will not help secure an interview with the suspects or discuss speculation as to their identities, despite the fact that Putin had originally called on them to come forward and protest their innocence on television”
v. “Russian television presented the two suspects, naming them as Boshirov and Petrov, as tourists who travelled twice to Salisbury because they were determined to see the city’s cathedral”
If Mr Roth is referring to the RT interview this is incorrect. RT simply interviewed the two men. It didn’t “present” them as anything. The interviewer (the editor of the channel) declined to state her personal opinion as to whether the men were telling the truth or not.
Embellishing a story or outright lying – a matter of semantics perhaps. But in either case – not journalism.
It really is incessant. Here is today’s article which links Skripal and alleged Russian cyberattacks. It is by ‘Diplomatic Editor’ Patrick Wintour. He writes:
Official Russian explanations for the two men’s visit to Salisbury have been widely ridiculed, prompting tensions inside the Russian government over the inept handling of the episode.
However; there haven’t been any official explanations. See point iv. above: “The Kremlin has said it will not help secure an interview with the suspects or discuss speculation as to their identities”. You can check they are lying because they can’t even get their story straight.
Then we have:
The cyber-attack on the DNC headquarters, critical to the outcome of the 2016 elections, has often been attributed to the Russians, but it is the first time the UK intelligence services have made the claim.
Maybe ‘critical’. But that is a judgement not an objective fact as Mr Wintour presents here. (And a simplistic hack as this was reported to be is not a ‘cyber-attack’. A cyber-attack is when you set out to actively damage or cripple infrastructure – such as the US/Israel cyber-attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. In this case it was a hack to obtain data. Calling this event a cyberattack is just another lie).
Actually this story about alleged Russian hacking (perhaps provided to the Guardian by the Security Services?) should be understood completely in the context a) of Britain having recently set up its own dedicated cyber warfare unit and b) Britain trying to create a post-Brexit security role for itself in Europe.
You have to do a double-take to check that the author of this Guardian article on the recent referendum in Macedonia is not having a laugh. But no – this is how they think. The referendum asked people if they wanted to change the name of the country so as to be able to resolve a dispute with Greece and move towards EU and NATO membership. The vote was high – about 90% in favour – but the low turnout (36%) meant that the result was not binding.
There are the usual unsubstantiated claims about “Russian meddling”. There is the usual reliance on claims by US officials. As usual “allegations” are treated as facts. And a smattering of Facebook posts (which could, as far as the article evidences, be by anyone at all) are cited as evidence of Russian interference.
But what is really surprising is how they manage to keep a straight face when after all these (vague and unsubstantiated claims) of Russian “interference” they calmly discuss how the US spent USD 8 million trying to “bolster” the yes vote.
The vote – to move towards NATO and EU membership – was not binding on the government because the turnout was only 36%. But in a nice show of Western progressives true attitude towards democracy – they report that “The paradox is that, whatever their country is called, a large majority of Macedonians support EU and Nato membership, according to a recent survey”. The source of the survey is not mentioned. So; the referendum abjectly failed to achieve the desired result despite a massive US/EU attempt to “bolster” the result . This was blamed on Russia – simply based on a series of allegations and claims by Western officials. But – not to worry – a survey said that Macedonians want NATO and EU membership so, hey ho, lets press on anyway.
Russian meddling does seem to have a purpose. The story (true or not – in this world of media narratives it makes no difference) of Russian meddling allows progressives to blame Russia for any failure of their “democratic” political projects – it isn’t that some of their domestic audiences are beginning to tire of the Western political project.
‘Bellingcat’ is a web site which publishes ‘investigations’ based on ‘social media research’ which usually find Russia guilty of something.
This website realised that ‘Bellingcat’ was a fraud after reviewing their report into the downing of the MH17 flight over Ukraine. In this report ‘Bellingcat’ shows a total lack of understanding of forensic science – for example making inferences based on different colours in the ground – when the images being compared come from two different cameras. The word ‘calibration’ appears to be unknown to ‘Bellingcat’. In the same report they demonstrate a critical failure to understand how the software they are using to analyse apparent changes in jpeg files actually works.
It is a sign therefore not only of the frantic desire to accept anything which says Russia is bad but also of the very poor state of intellectual honesty and ability amongst those who pass for journalists in Britain today that the press has largely lapped it all up without noticing the glaring deficiencies.
This is in today’s Guardian report on the latest ‘Bellingcat’ ‘investigation’:
Bellingcat has frequently sparred with Russian military and diplomatic officials, who have claimed without evidence that Bellingcat fabricates evidence and is a front for foreign intelligence services.
However – the evidence that (at least in some cases) ‘fabricate’ is exactly what ‘Bellingcat’ does is there for all to see.
(We can add that this claim appears in an article in which Bellingcat is reported as declining to reveal the sources which provided them with a secret database of Russian passports…. Not MI6 by any chance???)
Craig Murray occasionally makes mistakes – but this looks like quite a strong post on the ‘Bellingcat’ ‘evidence’. Note, especially, the BBC report on the matter only using the two photos which are agreed to be Boshirov.