Thursday, May 31, 2007

ITN is going to great lengths to rubbish the Luguvoi version of events leading up to the death of Litvinenko. Their reporter was almost sneering as he gave his account of the Luguvoi press conference, making it clear that, in his opinion, Luguvoi had no credibility. In fact the Luguvoi version is as credible as any other.
Question - has Berezovsky the "dissident" (ITN) got friends on the staff at ITN? Big Boris's "friends" can make a lot of money, but they sometimes die in mysterious circumstances. Another explanation might be that MI6 has "assets" at ITN, reporters who are given juicy stories to run with. We know that the all BBC news staff once had to be vetted by the security services. Has that practice stopped? It's hard to tell. But if MI6 controlled BBC news output they would surely want to do the same with ITN by one means or another.
ITN still refer to Luguvoi as an ex-KGB agent, while describing the other ex-KGB agent, Litvinenko, as "Russian exile".

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Reports on the Lebanese army's attack on a Palestinian refugee camp refer to the Islamic militia, Fatah-al-Islam, as Syrian-backed. In fact this group is financed by the Saudis and, according to some, is made up entirely of Saudi nationals, not Palestinians. So why are the British press and TV news linking the group to Syria? Let's think now ... Bush and Co. are gunning for Syria; Bush and family are business associates of the Sa'ud family, and the Bin Ladin family; Saudi Arabia has a lot of oil and Syria has none. All together now - SYRIAN-BACKED FATAH-AL-ISLAM.

From yesterday's ITN news - "former KGB operative Andrei Luguvoi", "Russian exile Alexander Litvinenko". They could just as easily have said "former KGB operative Litvinenko", but that would be sort of neutral and disinterested, like news and unlike propaganda. They could have said "former Berezovsky associate and professional assassin, Litvinenko", but that's not the way the story's being skewed.
The previous day ITN had referred to Berezovsky as a "Russian Dissident". You know, a bit like Tolstoy, Solzhenitsyn, Joseph Brodsky or Alexander Ginsburg.
And Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Two quotes from yesterday's Guardian -

'The capitalist/socialist debate has in general ceased to dominate modern politics. From Beijing to Brussels, the free market has won the battle of economic ideas.' Oliver Letwin, Conservative Party spokesman on big ideas(?).

'A new book, Second Chance by Zbigniew Brzezinski, the cold war hawk who served as national security adviser to Jimmy Carter, includes a startling phrase. No leftist, Brzezinski detects what he calls a "global political awakening", a stirring across much of the developing world, among those who are "conscious of social injustice to an unprecedented degree and resentful of its deprivations and lack of personal dignity". Thanks to television and the internet, the global have-nots can now see all that the haves are enjoying at their expense. The hard-headed Brzezinski sniffs revolution in the air.' Jonathan Freedland

Letwin talks of a battle won, Brzezinski writes of a war to come. Letwin views the transformation from state capitalism to liberal capitalism as a defeat for socialism. He doesn't quite proclaim that the class war is over.
The "end of history" soundbite has been laid to rest alongside the "no such thing as society" madness. Greed may still be good for the City thimbleriggers but they don't shout it from the rooftops anymore. The Conrad Black trial in the US has revealed that not even among a population bombarded day and night with capitalist propaganda is it possible to find twelve people who accept that the rich have a God-given right to take, and take, and take.
Are the American dreamers rousing from their slumber?

In the same edition is a right of reply piece by one Michael Carter, World Bank country director for Russia, 1997-2001. He objects to Naomi Klein's article on the World Bank. On Russia he writes, "With hindsight there was much the bank could have done better in the extraordinarily complex challenge it faced in Russia...". With foresight too. Carter was lucky to be appointed to the Russian job as a rise in oil prices kick-started an upturn in the Russian economy. Previously the World bank had been overseeing the impoverishment and immiseration of large sections of the population.

"Russia's economy sank into deep depression by the mid-1990s, was hit further by the financial crash of 1998, and then began to recover in 1999–2000. Russia's economic decline was far more severe than the Great Depression, which nearly paralyzed world capitalism following 1929. It is about half as severe as the catastrophic drop borne out of the consequence of the First World War, the fall of Tsarism, and the Russian Civil War.
"Following the economic reforms of the early 1990s, Russia suffered from a sharp increase in the rates of poverty and inequality.[7] Estimates by the World Bank based on both macroeconomic data and surveys of household incomes and expenditures indicate that whereas 1.5% of the population was living in poverty (defined as income below the equivalent of $25 per month) in the late Soviet era, by mid-1993 between 39% and 49% of the population was living in poverty. Per capita incomes fell by another 15% by 1998, according to government figures.
Public health indicators show a dramatic corresponding decline. In 1999, total population fell by about three-quarters of a million people. Meanwhile life expectancy dropped for men from sixty-four years in 1990 to fifty-seven years by 1994, while women's dropped from seventy-four to about seventy-one. Both health factors and sharp increase in deaths of mostly young people from unnatural causes (such as murders, suicides and accidents caused by increased disregard for safety) have significantly contributed to this trend. As of 2004, life expectancy is higher than at the nadir of the crisis in 1994, yet it still remains below the 1990 level.
Alcohol-related deaths skyrocketed 60% in the 1990s. Deaths from infectious and parasitic diseases shot up 100%, mainly because medicines were no longer affordable to the poor. There are now roughly one and half times as many deaths as births per year in Russia.
"While the supply shortages of consumer goods characteristic of the 1980s went away (see Consumer goods in the Soviet Union), this was not only related to the opening of Russia's market to imports in the early 1990s but also to the impoverishment of the Russian people in the 1990s. Russians on fixed incomes (the vast majority of the workforce) saw their purchasing power drastically reduced, so while the stores might have been well stocked in the Yeltsin era, workers could now afford to buy little, if anything.
"By 2004 the average income has risen to more than $100 per month, emblematic of the mild recovery in recent years thanks to a large extent to high oil prices. But the growing income is not being evenly distributed. The social inequality has risen sharply during the 1990s with the Gini coefficient, for example, reaching 40%. Russia's income disparities are now nearly as large as in Argentina and Brazil, which have long been among the world leaders in inequality, and the regional disparities in the level of poverty are still growing sharper." (Wikipedia, "History of Post-Soviet Russia")

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Sarkozy: "La France sera du côté de tous les opprimés"

Friday, May 04, 2007

New Labour apparatchiki, Mandelson and others, are helping Sarkozy's campaign in the French presidential election. Honour among thieves takes precedence over solidarity among social democrats. And poor Ségolène has tried so hard to demonstrate her liberal-capitalist credentials. Not good enough for the Blairites doing the Bushwhackers' dirty work in Europe. They prefer the real thing, a dyed-in-the-wool bastard.
Time to play the race card, Madame R., everyone else has. Le Petit Nicolas, c'est le Petit Le Pen.

On the midday news on Channel 4 on Wednesday one Barry Stickings of BASF was telling us all how safe his GM potato is, safe enough to plant in the open fields of East Yorkshire. Preceding him was a scientist from ACRE who said the potato had been tested by ACRE and found to be safe. Unfortunately the interviewer neglected to ask him who funded the research, so I'm trying to fill that gap in my knowledge.
It would appear that not everyone is as confident as Mr. Stickings and his friends in ACRE; certainly not the Dutch government.

"Last Wednesday, March 7th, The Council of State in The Netherlands judged in a appeal by Greenpeace that the field trials of BASF had been illegally permitted by the Ministry of Housing, Spacial Planning, andEnvironment (VROM) and destroyed the permits immediately. The court decision was based on the grounds that1) these potatoes had been insufficiently tested in a controlled environment (like a greenhouse or laboratory) to be release in the open, and 2) the Ministry had not been able to do a proper environmental effect assessment (as required) since BASF had failed to provide information specific enough for this purpose on the location of the trial sites. It concerns three BASF GM potato varieties, two with changed starch content similar to the Amflora-potato and one with hightened late blight resistence. All three are also herbicide-resistent."

What a difference a couple of months make, especially in the Britain of GM- embracing Blair.