The British government’s threat to invade the Ecuadorean embassy in London and seize Julian Assange is of historic significance. David Cameron, the former PR man to a television industry huckster and arms salesman to sheikdoms, is well placed to dishonour international conventions that have protected Britons in places of upheaval. Just as Tony Blair’s invasion of Iraq led directly to the acts of terrorismin London on 7 July 2005, so Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague have compromised the safety of British representatives across the world.
Arriving in a village in southern Vietnam, I caught sight of two children who bore witness to the longest war of the 20th century. Their terrible deformities were familiar. All along the Mekong river, where the forests were petrified and silent, small human mutations lived as best they could.
Today, at the Tu Du paediatrics hospital in Saigon, a former operating theatre is known as the “collection room” and, unofficially, as the “room of horrors”. Continue reading
Rupert Murdoch is a bad man. His son James is also bad. Rebekah Brooks is allegedly bad. The News of the World was very bad; it hacked phones and pilloried people. British prime ministers grovelled before this iniquity. David Cameron even sent text messages to Brooks signed “LoL”, and they all had parties in the Cotswolds with Jeremy Clarkson. Nods and winks were duly exchanged on the BSkyB deal.
In the week Barack Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, he ordered bombing attacks on Yemen, killing a reported 63 people, 28 of them children. When Obama recently announced he supported same-sex marriage, American planes had not long blown 14 Afghan civilians to bits. In both cases, the mass murder was barely news. What mattered were the cynical vacuities of a political celebrity, the product of a zeitgeist driven by the forces of consumerism and the media with the aim of diverting the struggle for social and economic justice.
You are all potential terrorists. It matters not that you live in Britain, the United States, Australia or the Middle East. Citizenship is effectively abolished. Turn on your computer and the US Department of Homeland Security’s National Operations Center may monitor whether you are typing not merely “al-Qaeda”, but “exercise”, “drill”, “wave”, “initiative” and “organisation”: all proscribed words. The British government’s announcement that it intends to spy on every email and phone call is old hat. The satellite vacuum cleaner known as Echelon has been doing this for years. What has changed is that a state of permanent war has been launched by the United States and a police state is consuming western democracy.
with John Pilger
Apr 23, 2012 by marxismconference
Marxism 2012: Revolution in the air hosted radical journalist, writer and film-maker John Pilger. Back for his fourth year, Pilger says about the Marxism conference:
“Marxism in Melbourne is now Australia’s premier festival of debate and free speech on issues that are either excluded from or suppressed by the mass media: issues such as the government’s agenda for Indigenous Australians, Palestine and propaganda in its many disguises.”
Milan Kundera’s truism, “the struggle of people against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting”, described East Timor. The day before I set out to film clandestinely there in 1993, I went to Stanfords map shop in London’s Covent Garden. “Timor?” said a hesitant sales assistant. We stood staring at shelves marked South East Asia. “Forgive me, where exactly is it?”
This video may contain images depicting the reality and horror of war/violence and should only be viewed by a mature audience.
with John Pilger
thechangeprofitsee on Feb 26, 2011
An act of genocide on the East-Timorese people carried out by Indeonesian Troops with the backing of Western Nations ie., Australia. East-Timor is a country with substantial resources such as oil, which naturally, sparked controversy on the intentions behind the brutal genocide of its people.
One of my first jobs as a junior reporter was to meet flights bringing famous people to Australia. Growing up in a country far from everywhere (except, as my father would say, “where you come from”), I was led to believe that Australia’s honour was at risk unless a well-known person from Over There said something flattering about us, preferably the moment they arrived at Sydney airport. There was a designated list of attributes they could comment on. These were: the weather, the beaches, the harbour, the harbour bridge, the happy people, the beer. When an exhausted Elizabeth Taylor stepped off her piston-engined flight from California and faced the mandatory barrage of questions, she replied: “Where am I, for Christ’s sake?”
War by media, says current military doctrine, is as important as the battlefield. This is because the real enemy is the public at home, whose manipulation and deception are essential for starting an unpopular colonial war. Like the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, attacks on Iran and Syria require a steady drip-effect on readers’ and viewers’ consciousness. This is the essence of a propaganda that rarely speaks its name.
To the chagrin of many in authority and the media, WikiLeaks has torn down the façade behind which rapacious western power and journalism collude. Continue reading
In 1963, a senior Australian government official, A.R. Taysom, deliberated on the wisdom of deploying women as trade representatives. “Such an appointee would not stay young and attractive forever [because] a spinster lady can, and very often does, turn into something of a battleaxe with the passing years [whereas] a man usually mellows.”
In the kabuki theatre of British parliamentary politics, great crimes do not happen and criminals go free. It is theatre after all; the pirouettes matter, not actions taken at remove in distance and culture from their consequences. It is a secure arrangement guarded by cast and critics alike. The farewell speech of one of the most artful, Tony Blair, had “a sense of moral conviction running through it”, effused the television presenter Jon Snow, as if Blair’s appeal to Kabuki devotees was mystical. That he was a war criminal was irrelevant.
This week’s Supreme Court hearing in the Julian Assange case has profound meaning for the preservation of basic freedoms in western democracies. This is Assange’s final appeal against his extradition to Sweden to face allegations of sexual misconduct that were originally dismissed by the chief prosecutor in Stockholm and constitute no crime in Britain.
When the early morning fog rises and drifting skeins from wood fires carry the sweet smell of India, the joggers arrive in Lodi Gardens. Past the tomb of Mohammed Shah, the 15th century Munghal ruler, across a landscape manicured in the 1930s by Lady Willingdon, wife of the governor-general, recently acquired trainers stride out from ample figures in smart saris and white cotton dhotis. In Delhi, the middle classes do as they do everywhere, though here there is no middle. By mid-morning, children descend like starlings. Continue reading