Category Archives: MSM

Fake environmental protection, continued

Environmental problems is an important field for fake news, as noted in my previous post. For journalists and reporters in most media, environment is on top of the agenda, for good and for bad, as it turns out. The subject as such has the advantage of being a benevolent cause, at the same time a legitimate means to aggravate the audience, something media actors seem to value highly.

And many times media is on the right track, to their credit. The climate hazard is something they mostly get right, for instance. Now and then they also target air pollution around the world, a disaster that claims millions of premature deaths. But all too many times media take mythical, populist and science denying positions. And it’s striking how unidirectional mainstream media around the world are on these issues. A serious problem is that dissident media usually are even more on the mystical path regarding the environment.

If one asks a Swede what he or she does to protect the environment, the first thing a large majority will mention is “sopsortering”, which is to sort different fractions of domestic waste into separate trash cans and deliver to a special container park (which in rural districts may be located quite remote). Those fractions can be newspapers, other kinds of paper, plastic, metal cans, colored glass and colorless glass. (More special waste, like paint, solvents, electronic waste etcetera, must even in large cities be delivered by car to a central waste facility, which in those cases is motivated.)

The ideological superstition behind this giant quasi operation is that recirculation must result in new material of the same kind. Dirty and mixed plastic waste must thus be recycled into smelly, bad quality plastic bags, while premium petroleum very well may be burned in ovens, vehicles or anywhere. Same with short and worn cellulose fibers in recycled paper that must be used for production of very low grade paper, while premium, virginal fibers very well may be burned in stoves and even in large power stations.

Real experts on waste deem this recirculation as having no value for environmental protection whatsoever. Still it is considered by the population as their main effort to save the environment. It’s heartbreaking, and media is playing along, naturally, making no effort to enlighten people. Experts mention as a small example that it is twice as costly to make glass from recycled material than from virginal raw material (not including the considerable costs in time and transportation for recycling, that is paid by citizens). These costs can be directly translated into damage to the environment.

The most environmental-friendly way to handle waste consisting of paper, plastic, wood and other combustible materials is to burn it in a specially designed incineration plants with premium flue gas cleaning. Then the waste can be transformed to useful electricity and heat. (Glass is by the way perfect to improve slag formation during incineration.)

When passing a border between two municipalities in Sweden one usually reads a sign saying “Engine idling max. 2 min.”. It’s a local prescription, and there are 290 municipalities in the country, all of them obviously having decided the same thing. Of all possible prescriptions to put on thousands of signs one can think of innumerable ones significantly more relevant for environmental protection (“Driving max. 20 min.” would have been one.) But this is the kind of sham operations so common when it comes to environment. And no one reacts, least of all media.

Air quality in cities has become a main issue lately. When media reports on that here, car traffic is always mentioned as a main cause. It’s more seldom revealed that small scale wood burning (in our cozy stoves) often is equally guilty of this problem. But that kind of burning has by the ignorant been designated as environmentally friendly and is gently saved from exposure. This is the way media works with its ideologically motivated deception.

The real large scale deception by media is of course on political issues, on which western corporate media mostly is patronizing, self-sufficient and bullying, and yet unable to understand why people have less and less trust in them. To undress media is an educational process that has gained momentum, and which will be an important part of a progressive enlightenment.

Media has created their own favorite enemy – Trump

It’s almost entertaining to experience the western media frenzy about the lies and deceptions by their main enemy Donald Trump. The man has the guts to stand up against Media! That’s not just a breach of etiquette but a challenge against a power that is not used to being challenged. At least not by politicians.

Corporate media is (or perhaps used to be) the conductor for the charades called US presidential elections, in which two candidates who mainly agrees on all important issues, differing only on superficialities, perform a media show devoid of substance. It is thus a matter of life and death for election campaigns to be on good terms with media, not least in order to stay clear of public scandals, something that’s usually crucial for the outcome.

This betrayal of real democracy by media is not limited to elections, and certainly not to the United States. Corporate media is constantly making politics a shallow spectacle in which the most important issues are put aside, paving the way for empty rhetoric, personal image and style, thus defining the boundaries for what’s fit for politicians to say. This is spiced with brainless propaganda to defame the official enemy states and their leadership. By this the hacks have been elevated to power, in a way (or in their own eyes) above politicians.

It goes without saying that search for truth is not a media hallmark, as is not high ethical standards overall. In the ambition to gain deniability media mostly avoid outright lies. But more efficient than straight lies are insinuations, spreading of rumors and, above all, suppressing and censoring important facts that are detrimental for the prescribed ideology.

Up comes then this self-sufficient man who breaks all rules and challenges the media right on. Journalists and reporters don’t see that he just holds up a distorting mirror in which they may look at themselves (and laugh in despair). After betraying the ordinary US citizens for decades by withholding the truth about a system that consequently has worked to deteriorate living conditions for the majority, with the goal of funneling obscene wealth to a tiny minority, the media and the entire establishment has lost every shred of credibility.

And they created Donald Trump (just as mini-Trumps have multiplied in most of Europe and elsewhere.) By downgrading truth, reason and rationality in treating politics, media has opened a highway for the absurd parts of the Trump ideology. Citizens are lured to promote a semi-fascist to power, a man who will start by depriving millions of his voters of their health insurance (and give that money to the rich) and presumably go on in the same direction.

We have seen it all before, and that one ended in a global war with 50 million people killed. When will they ever learn…

There is a threat to western media, a well deserved one

The infamous list of 200 treacherous websites has reignited the “information war” narrative (the list is by some suspected to originate from immature Ukrainian hackers). But that war is in reality not about Russia, it’s about us. It’s about our insidious propaganda served with arrogance as if it were truisms. It’s our self-righteous presumption that “the others” are biased, but we (by mere definition) are not, since we always represent the objective reality. And it’s this loathsome conceit propagated in mainstream media all over the western world, almost verbatim identical everywhere.

To be fair, there are honest and skillful journalists and reporters, and there are independent media outlets. But for the core of mainstream media the judgement above is quite valid uniformly. And that observation is certainly no innovation; Herman & Chomsky wrote the standard work on the topic some 20 years ago.

But why take the side of Russia? I don’t think I’m alone in opposing the western narrative without having any specific affiliation with Russia. It’s undoubtedly an interesting and multifaceted country which we know much too little about. But there are traits in the Russian ethos, such as a kind of roughness and emotionality, in which I wouldn’t fit in very well.

The reason to fiercely oppose the western anti-Russian propaganda is not just that it’s unfair, ignorant and often plain stupid, but above all that it threatens to create a development that ultimately may lead to the obliteration of humanity. The very thought that the distorted narrative poured over us by our media with such irresponsible nonchalance might bring us ever closer to the final nuclear shoot-out is just unbearable.

During the first Cold War there was no interest in finding out the Russian points of view at all. Had there been any interest, there was no Internet to do it with anyway. The only picture we had was formed by the unanimous Anti-Communist canon, not subject to objections. Today the scenario is totally different.

Editorial writers in our petrified MSM are themselves evidences to this by getting tantrums about “Putin’s information war”, conducted through media outlets like RT and others. With this our MSM probably reach just the most ignorant or apologetic among their audiences, but they completely miss the informed and conscious ones. And that’s a serious neglect since RT’s posts on Youtube have been visited more than 3 billion times, far more than any other TV-broadcasting news outlet has achieved.

So, they are shooting their own feet point blank. They provide RT and its colleagues with the most effective marketing efforts – for free. People have computers and it takes a few seconds to get to RT.com. And there, probably to their surprise, they will find that “Putin’s information army” is a Foreign Legion, manned mostly by an enlightened crew of US and western European citizens. They’ll have to look hard to find a single Russian reporter.

But, alas, we have the talk show host Sophie Shevardnadze, granddaughter of a former Soviet Foreign Minister. Sounds Russian enough. Well, she’s of Georgian descent (a country nowadays induced by the West to become an enemy to Russia), moved to Paris at age 10, then on to USA where she studied at both Boston and New York University, speaks idiomatic American English. So much for Russia there.

What people curious of RT certainly find are some well substantiated news that never appear in their domestic media (of course there is also a small share of “local” Russian material, easy to skip for anyone who wishes). And they can listen to numerous western scholars, pundits, journalists and other experts talking about issues and taking standpoints ignored or suppressed at home. That’s the basis for RT’s success and for the new “Red Scare” in our domains. It’s in a way a popular revolution against western corporate media which for at least a century have been using their dominance to manufacture consent in a way that serves economic power, the only indisputable power in our societies.

Humanitarian aid not fit to mention

“Russia’s Emergencies Ministry has dispatched the 52nd truck convoy with humanitarian aid to Donbass” reports RT.com. “Since August 2014, Russia has sent 51 convoys with 61,000 tons of humanitarian aid to Donbass.” According to the ministry’s press service the 52nd delivery consist largely of “foodstuffs, daily essentials, medicines, firefighting equipment, and art and educational books”.

These kinds of news will never appear in Swedish media, of course. (I suppose our MSM would rather describe them as examples of the Russian “information war” which perpetually obsess them). The only convoy of interest was the first one, as we remember. It was made an object of suspicion: “Russian tricks to smuggle weapons and contraband”, or ridicule: “some of the trucks are empty”.

After a long time waiting for permits from Kiev to cross the border – permits that never came – the first convoy just took off to its destinations and unloaded. That was the last we heard from these humanitarian expeditions in our media. The New York Times though – a few convoys later – had an informative article about the living conditions in eastern Donbass in which the reporter interviewed a restaurant owner who testified that these deliveries of basic means of existence were essential for life in the haunted region.

There is no need to regard the Russian government as more altruistic then other governments to be able to explain these relief operations. They simply help people of Russian heritage or affinity in need. The urge to help may (or may not) be enhanced by the Kremlin refusal to fulfill the deepest wishes of these people, namely to join their spiritual motherland. In fact, Russia helps citizens in a foreign country, moreover a country before whom Russia (even in a resolution to the United Nations Security Council) has pledged to respect and protect its independence and sovereignty (with Crimea as an exclusive exception).

The despicable Putin is determined that people in all of Donbass shall stay Ukrainian citizens forever. What Kremlin supports is simply that some degree of self-determination be granted people there. Kiev on the other hand obviously sees the inhabitants in rebel held parts of Ukraine as enemies suitable to kill with artillery shells. Consequently, those Ukrainians don’t qualify for humanitarian aid from Kiev, instead they suffer elimination of their economic rights, such as pensions and other allowances.

This doesn’t fit well with western propaganda. Russia is presumed to occupy eastern Donbass and wage a war against Ukraine, supposedly with the intention to conquer the entire country. That’s anyway what the leaders in Kiev repeatedly have claimed, supported by western media. In order to uphold that distorted view it is necessary to disregard and keep behind a smokescreen everything substantial of what Moscow says and does.

It’s self-evident that states and governments are no moral agents; they can say and do whatever they have the power to do and say. The Russian government is no exception. But government’s statements and actions can and should be constantly scrutinized by their citizens, and their possible lies and wrong-doings revealed.

As mere citizens we should also comply with the principle of moral universalism, which states that we must follow the same standards as we apply to others. We should hence as Swedes meticulously dissect our own propaganda before we accuse others of the same misconduct. This principle is violated to a level of absurdity by media in my country; themselves distorting facts and serving half-lies and pure lies without discrimination, aggressively accuse Russia of waging an “information war”.

One of the “state controlled” outlets for this Russian propaganda is said to be RT, the most visited TV news channel on YouTube. Vilifying RT may sooner or later prove to be an own goal as more and more people take part of the media market unconstrained by our usual, self-censored media. If anything, the accusations may lure people to watch the defamed “propaganda channels” themselves, if not for other reason than pure curiosity.

Those who look up RT.com to check for the propaganda will find a bunch of citizens from western countries – US, Britain, Irland etcetera – presenting news and writing editorials in impeccable English. One needs to look hard to find any genuine Russians. The selection of news is naturally focused on Russia, but RT also digs up other events that we seldom hear anything of. Thus we can in RT read about inconvenient demonstrations and embarrassing statements (like for instance this one: “WWII happened because Russia attacked Germany, and that must be prevented from happening again” /paraphrase/, uttered by Yatsenyuk during his visit to Merkel) which are more or less suppressed by western media.

We are back to one of the simplest truisms among definitions: “Propaganda is the other guy’s lies, not mine”.

 

 

Sweden to join NATO? Time going backwards?

I served for a few years in the Swedish military as a reserve officer during the darkest period of the first Cold War. In those days the Soviet Union was regarded as absolute evil and a threat to everything human and benign on earth. The Swedish defense was focused entirely on a WWII-style Soviet invasion, albeit under a thin veil of neutrality. I learned then that a few odd and intelligent professional officers were skeptical towards the whole scenario, believing that the Soviets had neither the interest nor the capability of invading our country.

The Soviet threat was used by western powers as a political means to push through excessive military spending and to create NATO as a “protection”. Being the leading western force the United States waged numerous illegal and immoral wars with the Soviet threat as a pretext. Then the Wall fell, the Evil Empire collapsed – and the scam was disclosed. NATO was not to be dismantled; it expanded, meaning that Soviet communism had not been the menace. New fanciful pretexts for keeping NATO alive had to be concocted (such as protection against “the technological sophistication of third world countries”).

For ten years during the 1990s, Russia was demolished while NATO crept ever closer to its borders. With a toothless Russian bear it became increasingly difficult to market the need for NATO and to motivate extravagant military budgets in many countries. Then, as a gift from heaven, came Vladimir Putin who threw a spanner into the works of robber capitalism in Russia. There was a man to target! He made the government reclaim some of the country’s riches that unscrupulous oligarchs had stolen (how dared he!). Eventually Russia reacted forcefully to a western induced (and long prepared) coup d’état in Kiev and the Cold War II was a fact, by good luck for lovers of western militancy.

It has now come to a point where right-wing pundits here advocate for Sweden to join NATO. An editorial in our foremost MSM – Dagens Nyheter – the other day is archetypal for the arguments. It’s first of all held as self-evident that Russia is the only power we have to defend ourselves against, despite historical experiences that point in other directions. The most serious diplomatic conflict Sweden has had with any of the great powers had to do with our government’s strong opposition to the Vietnam War, culminating in the US government recalling its Ambassador to Sweden. Our disputes with Russia have been more numerous, but have not reached that high level.

DN describes NATO as “the only organization that exists for firm protection of democracy and freedom”, which is true – with our definitions. “Democratic” in the western sense is an attribute attached to regimes we approve of. Russia is thus not a democracy, regardless of how well monitored their elections are. But since NATO through the years has been characterized by its “firm protection” of a large number of murderous and dictatorial monsters, there is not much real substance in DN’s apology at all.

“Freedom” as we see it does apparently not include freedom for peaceful civilians from being murdered by bombs and grenades. NATO countries (in different clusters) have been waging almost continuous wars of aggression since the organization was established. Their latest achievements have set the entire Middle East on fire, with consequences that really poses severe danger to our countries. NATO, with its expansionism and its members’ military aggression, is far from a defense alliance. It’s an offensive organization that poses an imminent threat, not just to its own members but to world peace.

Alternatives for Sweden? Well, why not seek a non-violent partnership with China, who is demonstrating to the world that peaceful cooperation is the road to prosperity, and that war is counterproductive in all its aspects.

Russia wants united Ukraine – the West doesn’t care?

Russia created a problem for western biased Kremlinologists by submitting a resolution to the UN Security Council calling for the Council to reaffirm “its full respect for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine”, unanimously adopted on 17 February this year. This initiative contradicts the very basis for mainstream western propaganda, which requires Russian intentions to subdue Ukraine through a war of aggression, even aiming at territorial gains.

During the former cold war every benign signal from the Russians were easily interpreted as a form of insidious and diabolic tactic with hidden, evil intentions. This western habit of reversing messages is no longer feasible to the same extent. There are too many complementary sources of information and debate today, first of all on the ever growing Internet, but also in the mainstream.

It’s interesting in this context to follow the very mainstream New York Times, whose reporting and commentary on the whole is tilted towards anti-Russian views. Still NYT has some objective news reporting never seen in Swedish media, for instance from areas in Ukraine suffering from the shelling by Kiev forces. The tidy Readers Commentaries are often appealing on articles about the Ukraine conflict. In mostly very articulate posts people in general have a much broader and more enlightened view on the subject than the article itself reflects, often with appreciation for the Russian point of view.

What I can find in the NYT online archive, the Security Council resolution was reported only as a ten-line Reuter’s note. Its Swedish analogue, Dagens Nyheter, had a one-line misrepresentation of the resolution in an editorial otherwise venomously despising Russia. It seems that silencing is the only tactic left when the old cold war technique of turning benign into malignant no longer holds. But silencing won’t work either in this new, multifaceted media world.

What basis has western propaganda media had for their view of an aggressive Russia wanting war to subdue Ukraine? It seems that they have tried to conjure up a picture of the old communist wickedness under which to hide and repress everything important that Russia signals. For an un-blinded eye Russia didn’t look extremely pleased with the armed uprising in Donbas. Putin made remarks about Ukrainian unity early on, disavowing the not very happy rebel leaders. As events evolved Russia naturally couldn’t remain idle as Kiev let Nazi voluntaries loose in killing Russian speaking people, and was forced to engage in support of the separatists.

Throughout the whole process Putin and Lavrov has repeatedly demanded negotiations to solve the crisis, something never highlighted in western media. The core interest here has been to speculate (in the old Kremlinologist spirit) about what Putin “really” has in mind, as opposed to what he says. This is an occupation that must have taken scholars, politicians and other pundits man-years of fruitless work.

A criminal investigation starts by looking for a motive. Has Russia anything to gain from a war of aggression towards a neighboring country? As we have seen: then have everything to lose! So why did the war start? The basic analysis is made by Professor John Mearsheimer in Foreign Affairs, who demonstrates unequivocally that the West created the prerequisites through 25 years of systematic provocations against Russia (spending 5 bn dollars, according to Mrs. Nuland).

The problem with Crimea, a natural part of Russia with mostly Russian inhabitants and a large Russian military base, should have been solved 25 years ago by a proactive West. But that was not even considered since the single goal was to cripple the former Russian dominion as much as at all possible. The purpose has obviously been, not to solve any of Russia’s problems, but to create as many as time and money allowed.

It’s a hope for the future and for peace that so many people see through the western propaganda machinery. And it’s inspiring to read the commentary sections in all sorts of papers. What people write there is not picked up from mainstream media; it requires critical thinking of one’s own, a gratifying phenomenon that seems to be spreading. That’s why Kerry and others are talking about “information war”, and that war will in the long run be won by reason, insight and compassion.

Swedish “Pravda” avoiding important truths

The Swedish media flagship Dagens Nyheter gives us daily illustrations of some of the main thesis in Herman & Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent. DN’s selection of news to publish is thoroughly conscious and consistently carried through. The purpose is apparently to keep people focused on the “right” issues (in both senses).

A demonstration against the government by a few hundred people in Moscow makes a front page headline, as does riots in eastern China and other popular manifestations directed at the correct targets. For nearly two months now DN has almost daily covered the demonstrations for democracy in Hong Kong (quite well motivated in my opinion), but during that time “forgotten” about most other instances of unrest not fitting the proper political agenda.

It could be a hazardous tactic to consciously conceal important events in that manner. Today we have access to media of all kinds on the Internet, and it may be apparent for a growing number of people that our “free media” is just as biased as state monopoly media in a non-democratic country might be.

Some recent riots haven’t appeared at all on DN’s web edition as far as I have observed (some may have been awarded half a dozen lines in the paper edition, I don’t know). US readers may think that no newspaper can be more mainstream than New York Times, but that paper is an enlightened wonder compared to DN. So instead of paying a fortune to get a provincial and biased paper in the mailbox each morning, one has access to international papers on the Internet free or almost free.

Here are some important protests and manifestations that I had to go to rt.com to read about:

Kiev October 14
A mass nationalist protest near the Ukrainian parliament in Kiev has turned violent, with 15 policemen wounded and at least 50 rioters arrested. Radicals are demanding “war veteran” status for armed nationalist rebels who fought for the Nazis in WWII.

On Tuesday afternoon, an estimated 8,000 far-right activists gathered at the Ukrainian Parliament (Verkhovna Rada) as MPs considered a bill that would recognize members of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) as war veterans. Frustrated by parliament’s decision, protesters then attacked police with rocks, firecrackers, and chains.

Violent clashes outside parliament forced Speaker Aleksandr Turchinov to cancel the Rada session halfway through. Because of the “provocative actions by young people,” parliamentarians failed to consider a number of bills.

Recognition of the UPA – which has been accused of war crimes including the killings of Jews and Poles in Ukraine – and its leaders, Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevich, remains a controversial issue in modern Ukraine. The country is divided between those who consider them national heroes and others who strongly oppose their cause – including WWII veterans. Tuesday marked the anniversary of the UPA, which also triggered rallies in several of Ukraine’s major cities – including Lvov, Kharkov, and Odessa.

France November 1
Riot police clashed with protesters rallying against police brutality in several French cities after the death of an ecology activist, apparently caused by a police stun grenade. At least 100 protesters were arrested and 9 people injured over the weekend.

Following the death of 21-year-old ecology protester Rémi Fraisse, rallies took place in Nantes, Toulouse, Lille, Bordeaux and Avignon on Saturday, as well as in Paris on Sunday.

In eastern Paris, 66 protesters were arrested as local media reported attacks on police and possession of unauthorized weapons. A crowd of protesters also staged a peaceful sit-in front of the Eiffel Tower.

The Nantes and Toulouse demos turned particularly violent, with masked and hooded protesters throwing projectiles and tearing down street signs. Security forces retaliated by firing tear gas and rubber bullets at the crowds.

At least nine people – including four police officers – were injured in the confrontations, and 34 arrested, according to the interior ministry. Demonstrators hurled acid-filled bottles and stones at security forces, wounding an officer, Henri-Michel Comet, the regional governor, told Reuters.

Brussels November 6
Violent clashes broke out in Belgium as more than 100,000 protesters marched in Brussels against the government’s austerity measures. Police deployed water cannon as dockworkers, metalworkers and students took to the streets.

The violence flared up at the end of an otherwise peaceful protest, with tear gas deployed as some radical demonstrators hurled objects at riot police and launched attacks with the barriers against the officials. Some set off colored smoke flares. At least 14 people were taken to hospital following the violence, according to national daily HLN.be.

The Belgian government which assumed power just a month ago has caused unrest with promises to raise the retirement age, cancel a wage rise in line with inflation and cut health and social security benefits – moves that undermine the country’s welfare state.

“The signal is clear. People are angry, livid. This government’s policies are totally unbalanced,” ACV union chief Marc Leemans told Reuters.

More protests are planned, including weekly regional strikes from November 24 and a national strike for December 15. The mass-action is also seeing a work slowdown which is having a detrimental effect on public institutions such as schools and post offices, as well as the ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge.

Berlin November 9
Clashes and arrests marred the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, as several hundred left-wing activists met far-rights in the city center. The latter were rallying in commemoration of the 1938 Kristallnacht Nazi attacks against Jews.

On Sunday, left-wing activists held a non-sanctioned demonstration near the capital’s Alexanderplatz train station against the fall of the Berlin Wall, while most Berliners were commemorating the 25th anniversary of the event.

Meanwhile, nationalist activists gathered for a demonstration to commemorate the attacks of the Kristallnacht – or the “Night of Broken Glass” – when in 1938 the Nazi authorities launched a series of coordinated attacks against Jews throughout Nazi Germany and Austria. Police made several arrests in attempts to disperse the crowd. Following the clashes police switched to riot gear.

Mexico November 10
Protesters in the Mexican state of Guerrero have torched the ruling party’s regional headquarters as part of their demonstrations to achieve justice for the 43 missing students who disappeared in September.

The attack on the regional headquarters of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) building in Chilpancingo is the latest violent protest to explode in Mexico over the incident. In a separate incident, protesters also blocked the airport in the city of Acapulco. The protests at the airport began on Monday with thousands of demonstrators blocking its entrance for three hours.

Tuesday’s protests come just three days after demonstrators attempted to storm the National Palace in Mexico City, setting the doors on fire after failing to get inside. They were eventually driven away by police, though there were a number of arrests and injuries.

Warsaw November 11
At least 276 people were arrested and just under 50 injured after clashes broke out in Warsaw. Polish nationalists took to the streets to mark the nation’s National Independence Day, throwing flares and stones at officers, who responded with water cannon.

Tens of thousands marched through the Polish capital Tuesday with many carrying the national flag, while flares and firecrackers were also let off. The march was attended by extremist nationalist groups, such as the Radical Camp and the All-Polish Youth.

For the fourth consecutive year the procession turned violent, with a group breaking away as they crossed a bridge over the Vistula river and reached the eastern bank, near the Polish national football stadium. According to Reuters, they tore up paving slabs and benches from a nearby bus station and started to throw them at police, who were dressed in riot gear.

Law enforcement officers responded by approaching the rioters and using a water cannon truck to push the marches back onto the bridge in the direction they had come. Some outlets report rubber bullets and tear gas was deployed. Up to 23 police officers and 24 protesters were wounded in the clashes, while at least 276 people were detained, according to TASS.

Italy November 14
Egg-throwing, red paint and police batons marked a fresh heating-up of countrywide protests over impending social reforms in Italy, as the striking political left was joined by other members of society in major cities.

Transportation chaos and injuries occurred in some of the country’s major commercial and cultural hubs – from Rome and Milan, through to Naples, Padua, Turin, Bergamo, Genoa, Pisa and Palermo.

The rallies are the latest in a series of protests over Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s reforms – most notably the Jobs Act, which gives employers much more freedom to hire and fire employees. They are infuriating an increasingly large number of people amid an atmosphere of joblessness. There is also spillover into other complaints, including those directed at immigrants.

The largest gatherings took place in Milan, where riot police were attacked with flares, before charging the crowds with batons.

The proposed government reforms have been drawing hundreds of thousands of Italians onto the streets since October. They are taking place amid a decline in large industrial firms and dwindling public services. The reforms are expected to pass parliament by the end of the year.

Athens November 17
About a dozen people have reportedly been injured in clashes with riot police outside the US embassy in Athens following mass protests marking the 1973 revolt against the US-backed military junta, in which 40,000 people took part.

Over 70 arrests from various parts of Athens were made after clashes broke out following the mass march, according to social media sources. Police fired tear gas at groups of youths who hurled stones and plastic bottles while burning US and EU flags.

The clashes came just after 40,000 students, workers, and pensioners marched from parliament to the US embassy. The protesters – who accuse the US of backing the 1967-74 military dictatorship – shouted “EU, IMF out!” while marching. The demonstration takes place every year, with activists marching to denounce the alleged role that US intelligence agents played in the military dictatorship’s rise to power.

London November 19
Thousands of students are marching on the UK parliament on Wednesday in the biggest student action in four years. The protest, called by the National Campaign Against Fees & Cuts, is demanding an end to budget cuts and to restore free education.

Contingents of students have arrived in the capital from at least 40 UK towns and cities. Further nationwide days of action have been announced throughout December

MSM: Sweden vs. USA, plus Krugman on inequality

An anecdote has it that Noam Chomsky grinds his teeth when he reads the New York Times. But he also recognizes that there is some serious and professional reporting alongside the skillful but goofy propaganda stream. One can say the same about the Swedish Dagens Nyheter, save the level of professionalism. Thus I subscribe to the NYT web edition to get a broader outlook, apart from it being somewhat less pathetically “mainstreamed” than DN.

When it comes to the selection and presentation of the kind of world news that has to be aligned in accordance with the propaganda model, the similarities between DN and NYT are striking. The material is probably molded already in news agencies, and then DN seems to snitch from NYT and others. Often the wording is identical, and certainly the bias. But there are some differences. Especially interesting is what kind of “big news” in USA that becomes “no news” in Swedish media.

To name one example: Citizens United, a central concept in US debate which is carefully kept out of media in Sweden for reasons one can only speculate on. Is it the fact that the Supreme Court’s decision is incomprehensible for most people here, who probably would compare it with codifying unlimited corruption?

Another more random example is the Cliven Bundy case, which has passed almost unnoticed here. It’s not that violence or crimes as such are censored, on the contrary. Events like school shootings and other mass murders in the US are covered intensely by media, so the difference opens the field for speculations again. Is it that crimes committed by individuals have limited implications for the society, whilst the Bundy insubordination revealed a weak public authority that opened for mafia-like actions challenging law and order (thus degrading USA)? It’s anyone’s guess.

On the Ukraine issue Swedish MSM has a completely one-eyed view applied to both commentary and news reporting alike, a view postulating that Vladimir Putin is the master villain responsible for everything horrible that happens. Thus we are not shared any inclusive reports on for instance the shelling of innocent civilians or the hardship people in Luhansk suffers, or anything else outrageous that the Ukrainian government is responsible for. In this case NYT has a more professional attitude and once in a while sends a reporter to give readers a more complete picture. (I’ve mentioned earlier one reason for this difference, namely that Russophobia, through some kind of epigenetic mechanism, seem to have become inherent in Swedish genes.)

With the morning coffee I consequently browse quickly through the DN site, continue with NYT to stop for some reading and then spend more time with The Nation and other informative links. In my opinion the prime voice of reason in NYT is Paul Krugman, an economist differing from many of his colleagues by using his brain instead of reflexively rely on dogmas from a depleted science. His progressive views are so rare in NYT that he appears to be a kind of liberal alibi for the prestigious paper.

(A cute parenthesis: for subscribers NYT has a top-10-list labeled “Recommended for you”. In analogue cases most sites has a simple plug-in that keeps track on visitor’s preferences, so that recommendations really reflect the reader’s interests. Not so the NYT; here “recommended” obviously means what the editor think I should read; hence links on that list very rarely fit my liking. But to find a link to Paul Krugman I just have to click on “Most read” or “Most emailed” instead, where Krugman’s columns regularly appear among the top hits.)

In his column today (ranked No 1 in “Most emailed”) Krugman has some really intelligent and informative commentaries on “Our Invisible Rich”. Developments have gone to such an extreme the last decades that people just can’t grasp how grotesque the inequality has become. In a recent survey people in various countries were asked how much they thought top executives of major companies make relative to unskilled workers. In the United States the median respondent believed that chief executives make about 30 times as much as their employees (which was roughly true in the 1960s) compared to the real figure which is something like 300 times more, not to mention the really lucky, like the top hedge fund managers, who pick up some 10 000 times more than an ordinary employee.

To this one may remark that neither Aristotle nor James Madison thought that such an unbelievable development would ever be possible. Both took for granted that a majority in a democracy would vote to expel inequalities of that kind, but they chose different solutions to the problem. Aristotle concluded that society had to accept equality as a basic principle, while Madison preferred democracy to be limited. One way for Madison to achieve this was to establish a senate not elected directly by voters. It turned out that Madison was too cautious; he had no clue as to what modern propaganda would be capable of in the coming centuries. Today the super rich are safer than ever from any democratic threats, though the senate nowadays is appointed directly by voters.

It’s not that people’s preferences are unknown. If they estimate the high boss’s salaries to be 30 times higher, they would prefer the difference to be considerably less. The tool to achieve that is called democratic struggle, and that is something bound to come – trough collective action.

A third Russian aid convoy to suffering Ukrainians. Time for the West to join in?

I read today about a third Russian aid shipment to Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, wondering when the second one took place, since that one obviously escaped media in Sweden. It’s comforting anyway that our propaganda has become more civilized over time.

We remember the outrage caused by the first aid convoy. It was a Trojan horse; the Russians just intended to deliver arms under Red Cross cover. Or it was a propaganda stunt by Putin, pretending to be some kind of saint. And, anyway, many of the trucks were empty, etc. The convoy was denied entrance to Ukraine, a permit the Russians politely awaited while the Ukrainian leaders tried to make the most of the media frenzy. When the convoy finally just entered and delivered their goods in Luhansk it was described as an unlawful intrusion by a hostile power. And so on.

The dire situation in Luhansk, where electricity and water had been cut off due to artillery and rocket fire supposedly from the Ukrainian military, appeared to be of no concern to the Ukrainian leaders. The fate of their suffering countrymen seemed much less interesting than the propagandistic charades played out to the world’s media. I think it’s proper to say in hindsight that the Ukrainian tactics in this case was a fiasco and that western media’s complicity will be filed in the archive for disgraceful memories.

A New York Times reporter – Carlotta Gall – issued yesterday an informative report from the hard-hit city of Luhansk. She interviewed a hotel manager, Nikolai Pesotskii, and wrote:

“The first sign of help, he said, came from a Russian convoy of aid, which entered Luhansk against the wishes of the Ukrainian government. ‘Without that, there would have been hunger,’ Mr. Pesotskii said. A wealthy businessman, even he made use of a Russian food parcel, distributed from the local school, that contained canned meat, sugar and rice – enough for one person for 10 days, he said.”

Where are the superior humanitarian values of the democratic world, which constitute the core of our self adulation? How come we always prefer to bomb suffering people with grenades instead of aid, and even demonize those who do the opposite?

 

How to create a State Truth

Developments in Ukraine have driven media and majority opinion in Sweden quite nuts. Not even the traces of reason sometimes visible in New York Times can be detected here (except for dissident media outlets that no one has heard of). The Editor in Chief of our most important paper Dagens Nyheter – Peter Wolodarski – has turned into a paranoid buffoon conducting a limitless and hateful campaign against Russia and Putin.

Wolodarski and his colleagues in thought are acting as if their intention is to fire up conflicts and enhance the risk of a global war. Their simple truth is that Putin is an imperialist dictator; nothing that puts perspective on the whole Ukrainian problem is allowed to appear in print. That is: one of DN’s columnists, Johan Croneman, had the guts to curse in the church the other day, namely about the shoot-down of MH17.

Croneman had studied some of the works by Robert Parry and the Malaysian paper New Straits Times. Parry is a prize-winning reporter known for his role in revealing the Iran-Contra affair, and his webpage contains interesting information. There he describes a number of convincing indications that the shoot-down of the airliner couldn’t have been performed by the pro-Russian rebels. Foremost of those is the lack of pictures or other evidence for Russian Buk missiles transported into and out of Ukraine.

The Buk missiles are 5.5 meters long and the launch vehicles are more than double that length. Parts of the radar equipment are some 20 meters high. The whole battery demand support facilities carried by a number of large vehicles. Thus the units are easily detectable by US surveillance techniques. For the Buk system to be operative in the shoot-down it had to be transported quite some distance from Russia into Ukraine territory. And more than that: after the shoot-down, when the advanced US supervision machinery must have been intensely focused on the area, this caravan had to drive back to Russia. If US had pictures of this operation, is it conceivable that they had been kept secret to this day, Perry asks.

Other important indications are leaked testimony by independent arms experts, saying that the plane wreckage showed signs of being hit by a missile fired from an aircraft, plus bullet holes indicating machine-gun fire. The black boxes implicate another question. If they had contained evidence for the Ukrainian standpoint, wouldn’t that have been disclosed already? Now the whole question is remarkably muted.

Croneman’s observation and outrage concerns the absolute silence about these matters in Swedish media. I would add that conformity of this kind would hardly be possible even in a dictatorship. But here the political truth, declared by Carl Bildt two hours after the shoot-down, is prescribed as a state fact. Croneman sums this up as “unspeakably sad, and dangerous, and terrible”. (We have of course freedom of expression here, so Croneman isn’t fired, but he’s back writing about his ordinary topics: sports and movies.)

To recommend Wolodarski and all the other Swedes of his faith to read about the Ukraine problem in “one of the most prestigious periodicals of its kind in the world” – Foreign Affairs – would of course be presumptuous. In its Oct/Nov issue that rag publishes a comprehensive and analyzing article by John J. Mearsheimer under the rubric: “Why the Ukrainian Crisis Is the West’s Fault”.

From 1989 and on Russia was considered by the West as a defeated enemy which should accept total submission. The country itself soon became devastated and the population decimated after the capitalist remaking, and not much of a threat to anyone. Still it had to be contained, just as in the old Communist days. In violation of verbal pledges to Gorbachev NATO thus started to expand eastwards, by now having added twelve new states to its ranks. And this giant military machine has only one obvious enemy: Russia.

Mearsheimer reviews this history and its consequences, and concludes that the US and EU have one simple way to avoid every risk of an all-out war: declare (on paper this time) that Ukraine never will be a member of NATO. This trivial and rather natural solution has obviously been proposed also by people like Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, former German Chancellors and others. But this is all too benevolent for Wolodarski et.al. who rather rub Putin’s face even harder into the mud.

And now for the most horrendous phase: Putin has achieved a cease fire which so far seems to work passably. He’s acting to bring some peace to the place – the son-of-a-bitch. He’s giving himself away, that imperialist dictator who’s supposed to restore the Soviet Union by violence. But just relax; Wolodarski will soon explain to us in what way Putin only tries to fool us into dangerous passivity.