Archive for Mainstream Media

Alcohol Pricing

The alcohol pricing issue is but another stake in the heart of the poorest sections of Society and bears no relation to reality.

Krug

Krug

The price ranges between £50 and £ 1 000′ish a bottle. I drink at least a case a week in addition to Red Wine. My closest friends, well they knock back the alcohol too. How many people do I know who drink alcohol below the ‘minimum pricing level’? Absolutely none. Yes I did know one person once on the Wirral, a really nice guy, who got it wrong and he is dead, that is the only ‘minimum pricing’ casualty I know. Now lets get an extra set of digits for the number of expensive alcohol drinkers who have died through alcohol poisoning, that I personally know. Would minimum pricing levels have made a jot of difference? You know the answer.

Have you ever been in to a City Wine Bar? Have you ever been in to the subsidised Politicians drinking den?

This war on alcohol pricing is absolute nonsense and is merely another swipe against the poorest in Society for the sake of it.

One day the Daily Mail will stop jumping with glee at every abuse of the most vulnerable (that is if any of them ever sober up) as every-time one of their number appears on Question Time they appear to be out of their head on drink.

Let’s stop harassing the poor and start looking at real issues.

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They’re taking over the country

The debate over immigration in the UK is led on the one hand by the rabid Right Wing shoot them and then ask questions and on the other by, well no-one really.

So I thought it may be interesting to look at the Asylum Seekers, not total immigration, but those seeking asylum for whatever reason that may be.

With the rabid right, it would be easy to assume that there are hundreds of thousands of applications, driven by ‘illegal’ immigrants trying to con the great British Public all so they can have a council house, but figures released this week by the Home Office for those seeking asylum since 2009 up to October 2011 paints a rather different story.

asylum applications in the UK

asylum applications in the UK

Hardly a den of iniquity I think and maybe it would be more helpful if the media attempted to portray just the slightest element of truth.

 

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Major Terrorist Group working in London

A new terrorist splinter-cell, based in Central London has been uncovered with some key stated objectives, which are aimed at destroying the cohesion of the UK.

Their targets are wide-spread and comprehensive, indicating this to be a terrorist group, which are likely to lead to widespread destruction of Military and Civilian infrastructure. Their motivation would appear to be the wholesale destruction of the UK, leading to its re-emergence as a satellite of a far more powerful  terrorist group based in Washington.

They are planning a series of attacks across the UK, which are aimed at destroying much of the infrastructure, which will lead to chaos in delivering public services, military defence, wide-scale deaths and significant unemployment. They have announced plans to target the civilian population, with plans which are likely to cause widespread devastation of housing resulting in refugees fleeing inner cities. Selective targeting of members of society indicates this terrorist group has an abject hatred of poor people, the elderly and those with disability.

It appears that they have already succeeded in taking over much of the mainstream Media in the UK, creating effective smoke-screens and social division. The power of their media manipulation has already resulted in the civilian population turning against themselves. By using the in-built greed and selfish nature of the British population, which was bolstered by an associated cells, earlier forays, over the past 13 years, this new group have been able to convince large swathes of the population that helping others is not a good idea rather, a pointless exercise, with the most effective solution being their dispersal. Despite the fact that many of those targeted are in-fact  people submissively targeting themselves.

Their lightning raids on Military installations has already led to the weakening of the Royal Navy. They have successfully laid plans to disrupt Air-force capability over the medium term and have been able to divert the Army to a futile war aimed at supporting their parent group in the USA.

Some anticipated figures have been unearthed of the scale of the destruction in civilian infrastructure have been released by the group. They aim to destroy half a million jobs, with expected collateral damage to result in a further half a million people becoming unemployed. Their follow-up plans on housing are anticipated to lead to at least a million people to become refugees, with their two pronged attack on employment infrastructure this is likely to be far higher.

The elderly and disabled are specifically targeted by this group, with a quarter of a million people, including those with dementia, to be left to cope on their own. This carefully targeted population has the additional benefit, for this ruthless terrorist group, of a significant chance of their deaths.

To manage the transition to the destruction of the UK, they are known to kidnap those who oppose their aims and send them to central command in Washington to be tortured. Whilst waiting shipment by the Washington cell, the London based group, use what they like to term ‘Control Orders’ and their widespread use of snatch squads has resulted in the past year on over one hundred thousand people being stopped and questioned. This threat of arrest, control order and torture is managing to dampen open signs of opposition. As required, the snatch squads will perform public executions. These have been witnessed recently in London, during to time when the Major World Economic Powers were in the UK and an individual was selected for public execution and murdered, as a warning against all those who oppose their power.

The latest move in this group has been to successfully divert attention from civil unrest in the UK and ensure the British population focus on issues which are of importance to the Washington Group. This weekend two bombs were found in Northern Ireland, but it would be difficult to find much of the mainstream media reporting this, dealing with the far more important issue of bombs in planes directed towards the USA, rather than bombs in the UK directed at the UK population.

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Tanning beds and skin cancer

A sunbed, with lights off.
Image via Wikipedia

The report released by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, moving UV tanning beds to its highest cancer risk category – ‘carcinogenic to humans.’, is being hyped by mainstream media today as if we were all dropping like flies. The added headline, that the risks are increased by 75% through the use of tanning beds achieving nothing more than a more prominent headline.

Whilst the report is a welcome addition to research in to the effects of tanning beds, it is only by looking behind the headlines, that the ‘risk’ factor can be assessed.

The latest information from Skin cancer – UK shows the incidence of melanoma skin cancer running at 2.6 per 100 000 population, in other words 0.0026% of the population are affected.

To put it in to context with an activity which many of us undertake:
2 042 people died of melanoma skin cancer, 1 500 car drivers and adult passengers die in road crashes.

Number of new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer (UK 2006)
Males Females Persons
44,684 36,998 81,682

Rate per 100,000 population*
121.7 75.5 94.9

Number of deaths from non-melanoma skin cancer (UK 2007)
334 243 577

Rate per 100,000 population*
0.8 0.4 0.6

Number of new cases of malignant melanoma (UK 2006)
4,803 5,607 10,410
Rate per 100,000 population* 14.3 15.4 14.7

Number of deaths from malignant melanoma (UK 2007)
1,104 938 2,042

Rate per 100,000 population*
3.1 2.1 2.6

Five-year survival rate for malignant melanoma (for patients diagnosed 2000-2001**, England & Wales)
78% 91%

*age-standardised to the European population **period estimates

It is the sixth most common form of cancer in women and the eighth most common form of cancer in men.

While the media love to kick up a good storm, to raise their ratings and politicians always love a reason to regulate, let’s have some perspective.

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Murky journalism

Phone hacking

Phone hacking

The fascination many people have with the minutiae of other peoples lives has led some journalists to use a variety of strategies to obtain more and more salacious details.

The story of News of the World journalists hacking into phones is just one of many means used by these people to satisfy the insatiable desire by customers to read about the lives of other people.

It is certainly possible to argue, that the use of illegal and questionable tactics by journalists are unacceptable, but it is equally possible for a portion of the blame to lie squarely on the shoulders of the readership. This is not about absolving journalists from obnoxious tactics, which are a choice made by individual journalists to creep in to the  illegal and questionable. It is however about individuals taking responsibility.

The UK has become riven with an unhealthy desire on the part of many people to obsess over other peoples lives. Magazines exist which offer nothing more than photographs of other peoples weddings, hairstyles, clothes, make-up etc. The television schedules are awash with the generic term ‘reality’ TV. Newspapers are purchased because of some gossip story about someone or other.

The fact is that mainstream media is driven by ratings, which in the case of print media can and do affect pricing as well as advertising rate cards. Broadcast media is driven by ratings which dictate rate card advertising costs. These are businesses which are seeking to make a profit. If people want salacious gossip, which journalists would argue is the case, which is evidenced by sales or viewership, then they will stoop to whatever level they personally feel necessary to meet that demand.

The moment people decide, enough is enough and stop purchasing print media or watching programmes which expose ever more personal and intimate information, will be the moment journalists stop snooping.

Many of those who appear in the press and subsequently moan about the coverage, need to take a look at their own responsibility in the chase for coverage. Courting media attention about personal information when it suits a PR campaign inevitably leads to journalists pursuing that person once they have used the media for their own end. If they don’t wish to be pursued in this way, they shouldn’t seek to manipulate journalists in the first place.

The consumers of this minutiae need to take a look at their own responsibility and recognize it is their choice whether to purchase or watch what is being broadcast and published.

Journalists should recognize that just because something sells, doesn’t mean it should be published, nor should personal moral lines be crossed in the chase for the dollar.

There are times, many times, when the role of a journalist does mean working within the grey area of the law and on occasion crossing in to illegal territory. The breaking of the MPs expenses allowances, the BBC continuing to reports from inside Zimbabwe, being just two recent examples. But hacking phones to obtain information about where someone may or may not be going out to dinner, doesn’t sit on any moral compass I know of.

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Dissolution of Parliament

ballot box

ballot box

The complete contempt with which Politicians treat the general public was clearly demonstrated yesterday in a debate in the House of Commons proposing the dissolution of parliament.

The SNP and Plaid Cymru, used their time to propose that the House be dissolved, forcing a general election. Politicians argue of course, that this was never going to come to fruition as there was no chance of Labour MPs voting for the proposal and with their majority the proposal would be defeated.

It may have escaped these self serving MPs that large sections of the British Public are very keen on a general election being held immediately. This debate would have provided the politicians who oppose the idea of an early General Election with an opportunity to put forward their case, not just to other members of parliament, but to the General Public.

The very fact they missed this simple truism indicates just how ignorant they are of the Public mood and how they treat the House of Commons as their personal fiefdom. The view was taken by politicians that the opposition benches would support the proposal, the Labour MPs would oppose the motion and therefore there was nothing to discuss and sure enough about 30 MPs attended the debate over the period and all the MPs managed to vote, defeating the proposal by 70 odd votes.

In any other walk of life a discussion about the effective dismissal of all staff, would generate some interest, people may just turn up to argue their case, but not politicians. They would of course argue, the maths was done the matter was simple, but as far as the electorate is concerned the maths isn’t the issue, the suitability of MPs to remain in office was the issue.

The debate was about the dissolution of parliament, which was a debate about the MPs themselves, not the more usual motion of a vote of Confidence in the Government. This should not have been a debate about the suitability of Government, but of the MPs themselves, a quite different proposition. For sure, the outcome remains the same, however the fact that so few MPs, particularly those who had been ‘outed’ as expense fixers, didn’t see this as an opportunity to defend their position is inexcusable.

The debate ended up as a party political divide, when it should have been a free vote. I would have liked to have seen my MP defending his position and justifying why he did or didn’t think parliament should be dissolved, instead he didn’t bother to turn up and voted with the party whip.

Politicians have learnt absolutely nothing. They have no interest in politics, just in their career, why do they then express shock when few people vote?

This situation can not be allowed to continue. MPs need to be accountable and when a debate comes up, which is of great public interest, the least they could and should do is turn up for the debate.

They all managed to turn up for PMQs a few hours earlier. Why didn’t they bother to turn up on a debate of real importance, rather than the knock about stuff of PMQs?

Mainstream media turn a blind eye to this contempt, preferring to concentrate on the story of what did or didn’t Andrew Lansley mean and was he stupid being honest. What trite rubbish, we are not in the process of a General Election, we all know services will have to be cut any party who pretend otherwise we know is lying. Once we have a date for a general election, both parties will have to set out their stall.

If the Media and Politicians are intending to hammer each other for pointing out exactly what everyone knows is going to happen, public sector cuts will have to be made; then none of them have learnt a lesson.

We need to know what each party intends to cut and what they intend to save, then we can make a decision on which party meets our own priorities, pretending it isn’t going to happen is the pathetic drivel politicians have been spouting for years and the mainstream media revel over.

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English bigorty

RIPLEY, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 16:  British N...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

British and in particular English bigotry and racism, which is endemic is usually portrayed by the Daily Mail and Express in particular, as perfectly reasonable, is suddenly deemed unacceptable when the natural home of English racists, the BNP, comes home to roost.

Why Brown and the Nationalist Socialist Party, more commonly known as the ‘Labour Party’ are so shocked that the Nazis win votes, when they have a slogan which proclaims ‘British jobs for British workers’, beggars belief.

The Conservative Party who spend their life proclaiming that there are far too many immigrants in this country, suddenly back track and decide that isn’t what they meant at all.

The UK has for many years been an endemically a racist and bigoted country; loud proclamations are made of a multi-cultural society, which in reality it is not.

Having spent most of my life living in London, where although the situation is not ideal, there are many different cultures living together in many Boroughs, I recently moved to East Anglia, where with out a doubt anyone who isn’t obviously White British is treated as an invader. Polish are deemed to be evil illegal immigrants, despite the fact they are from the EU and a non white face is of course up to no good.

I have had far too many arguments in this part of the world with people who genuinely believe that anyone who isn’t white is a scrounger an illegal immigrant and should be kicked out of the country. My only surprise was that the BNP didn’t secure a seat in East Anglia.

My first battle against racism was back in 1977 at the Lewisham march at the age of 13, when for the first time the Police used riot shields, nothing much has changed.

The simple fact is that many English people are racists and of course the BNP achieved European Representation. The Local Council representation was played down, as it didn’t hit the international agenda, but the sight of neo Nazis representing the UK at the European level has suddenly made the media and politicians pretend they actually care about the issue.

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Ban protest in the UK and support mainstream Media

Maximum force

Maximum force

Policing of demonstrations in the UK has once again been called in to question. The Police forces involve approach demonstrations as though every protester is a subversive out to destroy the State and cause the maximum amount of damage.

Some of the mainstream media unfortunately follow this hype, making much of isolated incidents of scuffles to raise the sentiment against protestors.

Within days of the police assault and subsequent death of Ian Tomlinson which is being investigated, both the BBC and the Times once again seek to malign protest.

ASEAN protest 2009 - Photo/Sakchai Lalit

ASEAN protest 2009 - Photo/Sakchai Lalit

In Thailand, at the ASEAN summit, a group of protesters were able to gain access to conference venue, which resulted in its cancellation, with those present being evacuated.

The BBC showed what they like to think was dramatic footage of helicopters evacuating some of the 16 leaders present at the summit, failing to mention that the Malaysian Prime Minister, as an example, left later in the day by car.

The BBC correspondent gleefully declared, that Thailand was ‘…a laughing stock..’ having permitted 200 demonstrators force the closure of the conference and drawing a derisory tone over the colours worn by the various protest groups in Thailand, and scoffing at how the International airport in Thailand had been recently closed due to another protest group.. Asking us to imagine how it would have been had the recent G20 summit been cancelled under similar circumstances and more specifically claiming that the Police in Thailand were weak in not quelling the protest and indicating that the British Policing of the recent G20 in London was far more appropriate.

Ian Tomlinson - REUTERS/Andrew Winning

Ian Tomlinson - REUTERS/Andrew Winning

I guess the rose tinted glasses of BBC reporters are not too much of a surprise, but the crassness of the statement that British Policing, is a standard any country should wish to aspire on the very day a March was held in London in remembrance of Ian Tomlinson’s death, was astounding.

The fact that Thailand is undergoing extreme political upheaval and that over 2 000 protesters were at the conference centre, appears to have flown over the head of this reporter.

Sri Lanka protest London 2009

Sri Lanka protest London 2009

The Sunday Times today have managed to run a story about another demonstration in London in which 100 000 people gathered to protest against the Sri Lankan government failing to declare a ceasefire in their fight against the Tamil Tigers. A very short report, which talked very little about the political or social situation in Sri Lanka, managed to round off the piece with a condemning tone: ‘Police made three arrests’, creating the impression once again that protests only lead to trouble and what the protest is actually about becomes a non-story.

To the mainstream media who are instilling the perception that some have, that protests are nothing more than a gathering of the violent, I would suggest they are falling out of step with public opinion, in the same way that they condemn politicians of being out of tune.

I further ask where would we be as a Society without demonstration?

The Tolpuddle Martyrs of 1834, who were sentenced to seven years in penal colony in Australia. The subsequent protests led to their sentences being repealed and the legacy is modern trades unionism, with the NUJ being one with which these nay sayers may have some knowledge.

History has shown repeatedly Society and protestors resort to greater levels of violence when their voice remains unheard.

The Suffragettes were extremely violent.

Annie Kenney (1879–1953), British suffragette.
Image via Wikipedia

In 1905 Christabel Pankhurst and Annie Kenney interrupted a political meeting in Manchester to ask Winston Churchill and Sir Edward Grey if they believed women should have the right to vote, neither man replied. They got out a banner which had on it “Votes for Women” and shouted at the two politicians to answer their questions. They were arrested for causing an obstruction and a technical assault on a police officer. Both women refused to pay a fine deciding to go to prison to highlight the injustice of the system.

The Suffragettes burned down churches as the Church of England was against what they wanted; they vandalised Oxford Street; they chained themselves to Buckingham Palace as the Royal Family were seen to be against women having the right to vote; they sailed up the Thames and shouted abuse through loud hailers at Parliament as it sat; others refused to pay their tax. Politicians were attacked as they went to work, their homes were fire bombed.

When sent to prison many went on hunger strike. The government was concerned some may die and become martyrs. Prison governors were ordered to force feed Suffragettes but this caused a public outcry.

The response by Asquith was to introduce, in 1913 the Prisoners, Temporary Discharge for Health Act, the ‘Cat and Mouse Act’, similar tactics have continually been employed by subsequent Governments, to quell protest. I am sure these NUJ members will recall the 1980’s legacy particularly of Wapping and the miners strike.

The Suffragette movement supported Britain in the war effort and in 1918; the Representation of the People Act was passed by Parliament.

Brixton Riots

Brixton Riots

The police abuse of the Suss Law in the 1980’s led to the violent protests across the UK and as a result the law was repealed after an investigation into the Brixton Riots. Once again controversial legislation in 2007 is causing unrest, along with the abuse of the Terrorism Act 2000 and potential abuse of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008.

poll tax demonstration

poll tax demonstration

The 70 000 people who attended the Poll Tax demonstration in 1990 successfully forced a change in Government policy.

Since that time, protests have largely been ignored, with the media sitting on the side of the politicians, seeking to portray demonstrators as violent thugs, ignoring the reality of the demonstration.


London Anti-War protest

London Anti-War protest

The anti-war protests ongoing since 2001 have had no effect on British Politicians, while other countries around the world have listened to the people they represent.

British Politicians following the US political lead, not the demands of the British Population.

Perhaps Policing of protesters in Thailand was not good enough for the British Media and they would prefer the UK had an Ian Tomlinson at every demonstration, a Tiananmen Square every time people took to the streets.



To answer the question posed by the BBC reporter, what would Britain have looked like had the protestors at the G20 been policed in a similar manner to the way the Thai police handled the ASEAN protest. The answer is a happier and better place. Not one with a dead body as its legacy.

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