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Paranoia over China, government, media, AFP collusion

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 16/04/2021 - 4:57am in

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The High Court’s current deliberations about the legality of warrants issued last year to the AFP to search the home of John Zhang, part-time assistant to NSW Labor MP Shaoquett Moselmane, are the tip of a massive iceberg of government abuses of power.    

John Zhang is a Chinese Australian. Mr Moselmane has Chinese Australian constituents, had been to China to deliver wheelchairs to a Shanghai orphanage and had complimented the Chinese government on its reaction to the Covid outbreak in Wuhan, activities which in police eyes made Shaoquett a person of interest.

Media influence and collusion 

In early 2020, branches of the media labelled Shaoquett Moselmane a Chinese sympathizer. Between March 31 and April 10, 2020, there were 32 articles and broadcasts attacking Shaoquett, 12 from the Daily Telegraph, 10 from the Sydney Morning Herald, 7 from Sky News and Sydney Radio 2GB, 2 from Jewish News/J Wire and 1 from the Daily Mail. 

On April 2, in a Peta Credlin interview on Sky News, NSW One Nation MP Mark Latham referred to Moselmane’s “disgusting praise” of China’s coronavirus response. On the same day, Peter Dutton told 2GB’s Ray Hadley, “You can’t have an allegiance to another country and pretend to have an allegiance to this country at the same time.”

On April 3, in response to a Ray Hadley interview about her MP colleague, the ALP State leader Jodi McKay reassured the shock jock, “Ray his actions have been appalling.”

On April 6, Nick McKenzie from the Sydney Morning Herald joined the media derision of the Labor MP. Moselmane had written “The old white Australia fear of the yellow peril is resurfacing.” In a Mckenzie SMH headline, Moselmane’s words became “Obsolete scum of white Australia behind anti-Chinese sentiment says NSW Labor MP.”

Anti-Chinese sentiment by these media operatives appears to have fostered government paranoia over Chinese influence and influenced a need to show that foreign interference legislation would be taken seriously.

Overkill to humiliate and create fear became the name of the game. Raids on Moselmane’s home followed.

On June 26, 2020, forty police arrived at the MP’s home, stayed from 6:30 am until 1:30 am the next morning. They informed Shaoquett he was not suspected of any wrongdoing yet brought sniffer dogs, took hair and dust samples from his car, searched the car engine and door rubbers, had a helicopter hovering and raided his parliamentary office.

The officer in charge of the raid told the MP that he was not suspected of anything, but at a Senate Estimates meeting in early April 2021, Senator Kim Carr asked the AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw if Mr Moselmane was the focus of their inquiry. The Commissioner replied, “It’s not right for me to comment. I’ll take that question on notice.”

Asked if the AFP were involved in freezing the Moselmane family bank accounts, the Commissioner used the same ‘take on notice’ response, a technique for postponing answers in the hope that questioners will forget, and potential controversy be avoided.

Who tipped off the media? 

Government, police, ASIO, plus the sympathetic media formed an alliance to showcase the government’s claims to keep Australians safe by raising suspicions about anything Chinese. The deceit required to implement foreign interference laws shows a refusal to admit who tipped off the media to witness the June 26 raid.

A magistrate signed a warrant at 10 pm on Thursday, June 25. Eight hours later, ready for the carefully staged police arrival, members of the media, some of whom had travelled from Melbourne, assembled outside the MP’s Sydney home.

In response to Senator Carr, the Police Commissioner said he did not know who informed the media, but their presence was ‘very disappointing to say the least.’ An AFP internal investigation found that the police were ‘not professionally compromised’, code for saying it must have been someone else. Who?

The AFP admits that they briefed Minister Dutton about the raids and ASIO briefed Jodi McKay the leader of the NSW Labor opposition.

The AFP’s inquiry to determine if they had responsibility for informing the media did not include an investigation of Minister Dutton’s Department. Senator Carr asked, “Is it not appropriate that the Minister’s office be part of the investigation?” Kershaw replied, “We would not normally have jurisdiction over the Minister’s office.” Raids on an innocent man’s home are ok but police questions to a Minister are out of bounds?

Freedom of Information documents show that on June 19, an AFP media unit warned government agencies and police colleagues of an impending raid; and Dutton appears to have been briefed. In answer to the question, “Was that when (June 19) the Minister knew of the raid?” Senator Carr was told, “I’ll have to take that question on notice.”

A policy to address alleged foreign interference by abusing civil liberties may not be explained even if Senator Carr’s questions ‘taken on notice’ are ever answered.

A Serious Conclusion 

Men and a few women in high places have behaved as though they can do what they like and never be held accountable. In alliance with police, secret service and branches of the media, government by secrecy erodes any notion of a transparent, trustworthy democracy.

An Australian version of McCarthyism – ‘Chinese under the beds’ – had targeted Shaoquett and the anti-China Murdoch tainted media were enthusiastic partners. My efforts to ask the Sydney Morning Herald to publish even a brief appraisal of their role in the persecution of Shaoquett have been ignored, an experience which reminds me of the US investigative reporter Seymour Hersh’s judgement, “The powerful lie constantly about their predations…and the natural instinct of the media is to let the powerful get away with it.”

Soon, the High Court may find for the plaintiff John Zhang, but abuse of his former employer, the principled MP Shaoquett Moselmane, and the traumatization of his family remain a record of completely unjustified persecution. In this shabby exercise, invisible authorities admit nothing, and there’s no sign of any apology from the NSW ALP leader, from the Federal government, the media, or the police.

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War footing groupthink; subsidies and socialism; glasshouses and stones

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 16/04/2021 - 4:34am in

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Upside down, inside out and black is white. Journalists fall over themselves to paint Scott Morrison as a courageous leader, the Financial Review lauds the “very affordable” housing market, in defiance of just about every expert in the country, and Tax Office attacks from an employee of Murdoch’s News Australia, whose approach to tax surely needs little explanation.  

The Australian Financial Review published an Op-ed calling on the government to ditch socialism, embrace the free market and … subsidise gas users?

bury the socialist big stick AFR

subisidise Industrial gas users

Prime Minister a courageous leader?

Australia is returning to a “war footing” appears to be the latest slogan in the vaccine roll-out debacle. “Front of the queue” and “it’s not a race” have been thrown under the proverbial bus, after being been shown to be the farce they always were.

However, despite what appears to be a cohesive and co-ordinated message emanating from all the mainstream media outlets, it remain unclear whether Scott Morrison actually used those words.

Not a single one of the following media outlets could identify which person in government actually attributed to Morrison the words “war footing”.

ABC got the closest, referring to unnamed “senior government sources”. The rest didn’t even try. The Australian Financial Review quoted Morrison as saying the government was on an “operational footing”, but that doesn’t quite convey the same pathos as the valour a leader must show when leading a country to war.

The ABC

National cabinet ABC

News.com.au

National cabinet news.com

Daily Telegraph

National cabinet Daily Telegraph.png

Daily Mail

National cabinet Daily Mail

Courier Mail 

War footing Courier Mail

The Australian 

National cabinet The Australian

The Australian Financial Review

National cabinet Financial Review

Operational footing Scott Morrison

House prices

The Australian Financial Review ran an Op-Ed about why housing is “very affordable”, even as the rest of the media highlighted the prevalence of six-figure deposits being required, houses selling for $100,000 over their reserve, the need for the bank of Mum and Dad to step in as a line of credit, and the fact that this boom doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

Could it be because the author is a fund manager and invests in housing? Hardly circumstances that can be extrapolated to an ordinary member of the public.

AFR Why housing is very affordable

Christopher Joye AFR

The Courier Mail

young brisbane family

$100k above reserve

News.com.au

Aspiring home owners

News.com.au

Parents help home buyer

7News

Average first home deposit

9News

Deposit cracks $100k

The Australian Financial Review

RBA house price model

And as Peter Martin so eloquently explained in The Conversation, house prices have reached stratospheric heights even in the wake of a pandemic because investors are falling over themselves to get in ahead of first home buyers and other investors, ably supported by government policies of negative gearing and a discounted capital gains tax, combined with record low interest rates.

Home prices aren’t soaring because there aren’t enough homes. Rather, “the supply of places to own has not” kept up with demand.

“Twenty years ago only one in 15 of us were landlords. It’s now one in ten – more than two million of us. To get those properties … they’ve had to outbid at auction the people who would have bought the houses to live in.”

But perhaps there’s something in Joye’s argument.

As Matthew Cranston reports, again for The Financial Review, the end of JobKeeper and the resulting financial stress could increase the number of properties for sale, thus having a “significant cooling effect on the hottest market in 32 years”.

How grateful we should be that government policy will force people to sell their properties to be snapped up, potentially by benevolent fund managers.

JobKeeper's demise

In other news

The Australian showed its concern about the Australian Tax Office’s “abuse[s] of power” in collecting “exorbitant fines” and “interest”, with columnists happily oblivous of the irony that their employer, Rupert Murdoch’s News Australia Holding, has paid zero tax on its $16 billion income over the past six years or even any tax on its $246 million declared taxable income. Priceless.

tax office abuses

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Double Down News Video on the Media’s Propagandistic Support for the Gulf War

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 14/04/2021 - 10:49pm in

I found this video from the left-wing news service Double Down News on YouTube. It’s a short video of just under three minutes, whose title says it all: 18 yrs ago today the Iraq War began. Never Forget how the Media Sold, Enabled & Whitewashed the War. It’s basically an appeal by DDN for more support as the alternative to the lamestream broadcasters. Left-wing Greek politico Yanis Yaroufakis turns up at the end to urge people to support it on Patreon. But it does an excellent job of reminding us how the British media backed the War in Iraq. The video begins with clips of Andrew Marr raving about Tony Blair and his decision to go to war, defying the wishes of the British public. This is cut with shots of Bush and Blair entering a plane together, Blair taking a photo on his phone of explosion, and brutalised prisoners with bags over the heads being led away by American/ British troopers. It ends with Marr interviewing the awesome Noam Chomsky, in which Chomsky seeks to disabuse Marr of the notion that journalism is a crusading profession. Chomsky tells Marr he knows many highly respected journalists, who have a very different, very cynical view of it, who talk about playing it like a violin. Marr objects to Chomsky’s statement that journalists self-censor, saying that he doesn’t. Chomsky calmly replies: ‘No, I’m sure you believe every word. But if you had a different view, you wouldn’t be where you’re sitting’.

I leave it up to you whether you want to support DDN or not. I think news services like them – The Canary, The Skwawkbox, and Novara Media over here and their equivalents, like the Jimmy Dore Show in America, will become even more important as the media becomes increasingly propagandistic and uniformly right-wing.

And it seems that the Neocons responsible for the death and chaos of Iraq and Libya are coming back. This was the warning made by the Labour left when they presented an event on Zoom on why socialists should be anti-war, which included a talk by the head of the Stop the War Coalition. We need to remember: Blair lied, people died.

And the wretched, propagandistic British media praised this unindicted war criminal to the heights!

Hitler’s Propagandakompanien and the Media Support for the Iraq War

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 14/04/2021 - 9:44pm in

Postscript are a mail order company specialising in books. Leafing through their catalogue for December 2020, I found one on the propagandakompanien, the Nazi reporters, photojournalists and film crew, who were placed in the German armed forces to provide positive coverage of the War. The book’s entitled The Propagandakompanien: Preparation, Development, Training and the Beginning of the Conflict, by Nicholas Ferard, published by Histoire & Collections. The entry for it in the catalogue reads

Formed in 1938, the ‘Propagandakompanien’ (Pk) comprised motorized units of reporters, film cameramen and photographers, all with military training and attached to Wehrmacht, Waffen SS or Luftwaffe forces. Reproducing many of the unit’s wartime photographs, this volume gives a full account of the organisation of the Pk and describes their work in print, film and radio during campaigns in Poland, France and the Eastern Front.

This is chillingly relevant to contemporary media manipulation and particularly the methods used by the American military-industrial complex to ensure media support for the Iraq invasion. Because they’re almost exactly the same. In their book End Times – The Death of the Fourth Estate, Alexander Cochburn and Jeffrey St. Clair of the radical American magazine Counterpunch collect a series of articles describing the way the American media censored itself and produced biased, propagandistic reporting in order to whip up public support for the Iraq invasion and George Dubya’s wretched ‘War on Terror’. And this included embedding journos in military units so that they would develop a positive sense of fellowship with them and so produce favourable reports.

One of the documentaries about the Nazis shown on the History Channel years ago had the simple title The Nazis – A Warning from History. It’s a good title, and far more relevant than I think the series’ producers realised. Because more and more aspects of the Nazi and Fascists regimes are being adopted by the current right-wing and ‘centrist’ administrations in America and Britain. A few days ago Mike on his blog listed the number of features of Fascism that were in Johnson’s Conservative party. It was a long list, and showed very convincingly that Johnson and the Tories are definitely Fascistic, although obviously they’re not quite appearing in uniform and holding torchlight rallies. Well, not just yet. One of the left-wing, anti-racist YouTubers said in an interview that he noticed several years ago that the Tories were adopting policies previously advanced by the BNP as British politics moved rightward. This is true. We are heading towards a Fascist dictatorship, especially with the Tories’ wretched Crime and Policing Bill which seeks to ban any kind of public demonstration if someone thinks its a nuisance or offensive.

And they’re using the same techniques the Nazis’ used to manipulate the media. Except that in Tory Britain, the media is a willing partner.

The tech giants’ diet is bad for everyone’s health | David Mitchell

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 11/04/2021 - 7:00pm in

Allowing the likes of Google and Facebook to reap the rewards of junk food ads leaves a sour taste in the mouth

Sometimes, in my most misanthropic moods, I’m seduced by a libertarian approach to advertising rules. You know, just let it all out there. Let them go for it. Maybe you still try to prevent outright lies, but actually maybe you don’t even bother with that. Let them tell us that a McFlurry, say, brings eternal life and see whether doing so would really elevate sales even over the medium term – when the bloated corpses of the McFlurry gorgers begin to stack up.

And we’d be done with expressions such as “increases by up to” and “helps prevent” by which products’ efficacy can be almost infinitely exaggerated without a direct lie having been told. I think that might be refreshing, unless phrases by which false concepts are conveyed through an intricate lattice of literal truths turn out to be our current civilisation’s only lasting art form, with “not even a black hole can eat three Shredded Wheat” as the central masterpiece, brilliant because it is a lie made permissible only by the fact that no one is supposed to believe it.

Commercial broadcasters provide a cultural trade-off for problems adverts might cause, in a way the tech giants do not

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Rise of independent media

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 11/04/2021 - 3:28am in

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‘Rise of independent media’ is a panel discussion between investigative journalist Michael West, Crikey editor-in-chief Peter Fray and author and media analyst Margaret Simons and is chaired by the editor for InDaily David Washington. The panel took place at the Adelaide Writer’s Week festival on 2 March 2021.

z

 

This video has been republished from The West Report YouTube channel on 6 April 2021.

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How Bellingcat Launders National Security State Talking Points into the Press

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 10/04/2021 - 5:23am in

AMSTERDAM — Investigative site Bellingcat is the toast of the popular press. In the past month alone, it has been described as “an intelligence agency for the people” (ABC Australia), a “transparent” and “innovative” (New Yorker) “independent news collective,” “transforming investigative journalism” (Big Think), and an unequivocal “force for good” (South China Morning Post). Indeed, outside of a few alternative news sites, it is very hard to hear a negative word against Bellingcat, such is the gushing praise for the outlet founded in 2014.

This is troubling, because the evidence compiled in this investigation suggests Bellingcat is far from independent and neutral, as it is funded by Western governments, staffed with former military and state intelligence officers, repeats official narratives against enemy states, and serves as a key part in what could be called a “spook to Bellingcat to corporate media propaganda pipeline,” presenting Western government narratives as independent research.

 

Citizen journalism staffed with spies and soldiers

An alarming number of Bellingcat’s staff and contributors come from highly suspect backgrounds. Senior Investigator Nick Waters, for example, spent three years as an officer in the British Army, including a tour in Afghanistan, where he furthered the British state’s objectives in the region. Shortly after leaving the service, he was hired by Bellingcat to provide supposedly bias-free investigations into the Middle East.

Former contributor Cameron Colquhoun’s past is even more suspect. Colquhoun spent a decade in a senior position in GCHQ (Britain’s version of the NSA), where he ran cyber and Middle Eastern terror operations. The Scot specializes in Middle Eastern security and also holds a qualification from the U.S. State Department. None of this, however, is disclosed by Bellingcat, which merely describes him as the managing director of a private intelligence company that “conduct[s] ethical investigations” for clients around the world — thus depriving readers of key information they need to make informed judgments on what they are reading.

Bellingcat spooks

Bellingcat fails to inform its readers of even the most glaring conflicts of interest

There are plenty of former American spooks on Bellingcat’s roster as well. Former contributor Chris Biggers, who penned more than 60 articles for the site between 2014 and 2017, previously worked for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency — a combat support unit that works under the Department of Defense and the broader Intelligence Community. Biggers is now the director of an intelligence company headquartered in Virginia, on the outskirts of Washington (close to other semi-private contractor groups like Booz Allen Hamilton), that boasts of having retired Army and Air Force generals on its board. Again, none of this is disclosed by Bellingcat, where Biggers’s bio states only that he is a “public and private sector consultant based in Washington, D.C.”

For six years, Dan Kaszeta was a U.S. Secret Service agent specializing in chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, and for six more he worked as program manager for the White House Military Office. At Bellingcat, he would provide some of the intellectual ammunition for Western accusations about chemical weapons use in Syria and Russia’s alleged poisoning of Sergei Skripal.

Kaszeta is also a fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, a think tank funded by a host of Western governments as well as weapons contractors such as Airbus, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. Its president is a British field marshal (the highest attainable military rank) and its senior vice president is retired American General David Petraeus. Its chairman is Lord Hague, the U.K.’s secretary of state between 2010 and 2015.

Bellingcat Sergei Skripal

A Bellingcat article covering the alleged poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a story covered heavily by the organization. Alexander Zemlianichenko | AP

All of this matters if a group is presenting itself as independent when, in reality, their views align almost perfectly with the governments funding them. But yet again, Bellingcat fails to follow basic journalism ethics and inform readers of these glaring conflict of interests, describing Kaszeta as merely the managing director of a security company and someone with 27 years of experience in security and antiterrorism. This means that unless readers are willing to do a research project they will be none the wiser.

Other Bellingcat contributors have similar pasts. Nour Bakr previously worked for the British government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office while Karl Morand proudly served two separate tours in Iraq with the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division.

Government and intelligence officials are the opposite of journalists. The former exist to promote the interests of power (often against those of the public) while the latter are supposed to hold the powerful to account on behalf of the people. That is why it is so inappropriate that Bellingcat has had so many former spooks on their books. It could be said that ex-officials who have renounced their past or blown the whistle, such as Daniel Ellsberg or John Kiriakou, have utility as journalists. But those who have simply made the transition into media without any change in positions usually serve only the powerful.

 

Who pays the piper?

Just as startling as its spooky staff is Bellingcat’s source of funding. In 2016 its founder, Eliot Higgins, dismissed the idea that his organization got money from the U.S. government’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED) as a ludicrous conspiracy theory. Yet, by the next year, he openly admitted the thing he had laughed off for so long was, in fact, true (Bellingcat’s latest available financial report confirms that they continue to receive financial assistance from the NED). As many MintPress readers will know, the NED was explicitly set up by the Reagan administration as a front for the CIA’s regime-change operations. “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA,” said the organization’s co-founder Allen Weinstein, proudly.

Higgins himself was a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, NATO’s quasi-official think tank, from 2016 to 2019. The Atlantic Council’s board of directors is a who’s who of state power, from war planners like Henry Kissinger, Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell to retired generals such as James “Mad Dog” Mattis and H.R. McMaster. It also features no fewer than seven former CIA directors. How Higgins could possibly see taking a paid position at an organization like this while he was still the face of a supposedly open and independent intelligence collective as being at all consistent is unclear.

Bellingcat Atlantic Council Bana Alabed

Bana Alabed, an outsoken anti-Assad child activist, promotes Bellingcat at an Atlantic Council event. Photo | Twitter

Other questionable sources of income include the Human Rights Foundation, an international organization set up by Venezuelan activist Thor Halvorssen Mendoza. Halvorssen is the son of a former government official accused of being a CIA informant and a gunrunner for the agency’s dirty wars in Central America in the 1980s and the cousin of convicted terrorist Leopoldo Lopez. Lopez in turn was a leader in a U.S.-backed coup in 2002 and a wave of political terror in 2014 that killed at least 43 people and caused an estimated $15 billion worth of property damage. A major figure on the right-wing of Venezuelan politics, Lopez told journalists that he wants the United States to formally rule the country once President Nicolas Maduro is overthrown. With the help of the Spanish government, Lopez escaped from jail and fled to Spain last year.

Imagine, for one second, the opposite scenario: an “independent” Russian investigative website staffed partially with ex-KGB officials, funded by the Kremlin, with most of their research focused on the nefarious deeds of the U.S., U.K. and NATO. Would anyone take it seriously? And yet Bellingcat is consistently presented in corporate media as a liberatory organization; the Information Age’s gift to the people.

 

The Bellingcat to journalism pipeline

The corporate press itself already has a disturbingly close relationship with the national security state, as does social media. In 2019, a senior Twitter executive was unmasked as an active duty officer in the British Army’s online psychological operations unit. Coming at a time when foreign interference in politics and society was the primary issue in U.S. politics, the story was, astoundingly, almost completely ignored in the mainstream press. Only one U.S. outlet of any note picked it up, and that journalist was forced out of the profession weeks later.

Increasingly, it seems, Bellingcat is serving as a training ground for those looking for a job in the West’s most prestigious media outlets. For instance, former Bellingcat contributor Brenna Smith — who was recently the subject of a media storm after she successfully pressured a number of online payment companies to stop allowing the crowdfunding of the Capitol Building insurrectionists — announced last month she would be leaving USA Today and joining The New York Times. There she will meet up with former Bellingcat senior investigator Christiaan Triebert, who joined the Times’ visual investigations team in 2019.

The Times, commonly thought of as the United States’ most influential media outlet, has also collaborated with Bellingcat writers for individual pieces before. In 2018, it commissioned Giancarlo Fiorella and Aliaume Leroy to publish an op-ed strongly insinuating that the Venezuelan state murdered Oscar Perez. After he stole a military helicopter and used it to bomb government buildings in downtown Caracas while trying to ignite a civil war, Perez became the darling of the Western press, being described as a “patriot” (The Guardian), a “rebel” (Miami Herald), an “action hero” (The Times of London), and a “liberator” (Task and Purpose).

Until 2020, Fiorella ran an opposition blog called “In Venezuela” despite living in Canada. Leroy is now a full-time producer and investigator for the U.K.-government network, the BBC.

 

Bad news from Bellingcat

What we are uncovering here is a network of military, state, think-tank and media units all working together, of which Bellingcat is a central fixture. This would be bad enough, but much of its own research is extremely poor. It strongly pushed the now increasingly discredited idea of a chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria, attacking the members of the OPCW who came forward to expose the coverup and making some bizarre claims along the way. For years, Higgins and other members of the Bellingcat team also signal-boosted a Twitter account purporting to be an ISIS official, only for an investigation to expose the account as belonging to a young Indian troll in Bangalore. A leaked U.K. Foreign Office document lamented that “Bellingcat was somewhat discredited, both by spreading disinformation itself, and by being willing to produce reports for anyone willing to pay.”

Ultimately, however, the organization still provides utility as an attack dog for the West, publishing research that the media can cite, supposedly as “independent,” rather than rely directly on intelligence officials, whose credibility with the public is automatically far lower.

Oliver Boyd-Barrett, professor emeritus at Bowling Green State University and an expert in the connections between the deep state and the fourth estate, told MintPress that “the role of Bellingcat is to provide spurious legitimacy to U.S./NATO pretexts for war and conflict.” In far more positive words, the CIA actually appears to agree with him.

“I don’t want to be too dramatic, but we love [Bellingcat],” said Marc Polymeropoulos, the agency’s former deputy chief of operations for Europe and Eurasia. “Whenever we had to talk to our liaison partners about it, instead of trying to have things cleared or worry about classification issues, you could just reference [Bellingcat’s] work.” Polymeropoulos recently attempted to blame his headache problems on a heretofore unknown Russian microwave weapon, a claim that remarkably became an international scandal. “The greatest value of Bellingcat is that we can then go to the Russians and say ‘there you go’ [when they ask for evidence],” added former CIA Chief of Station Daniel Hoffman.

Bellingcat certainly seems to pay particular attention to the crimes of official enemies. As investigative journalist Matt Kennard noted, it has only published five stories on the United Kingdom, 17 on Saudi Arabia, 19 on the U.S. (most of which are about foreign interference in American society or far-right/QAnon cults). Yet it has 144 on Russia and 244 under its Syria tag.

In his new book “We Are Bellingcat: An Intelligence Agency for the People,” the outlet’s boss Higgins writes: “We have no agenda but we do have a credo: evidence exists and falsehoods exist, and people still care about the difference.” Yet exploring the backgrounds of its journalists and its sources of funding quickly reveals this to be a badly spun piece of PR.

Bellingcat looks far more like a bunch of spooks masquerading as citizen journalists than a people-centered organization taking on power and lies wherever it sees them. Unfortunately, with many of its proteges travelling through the pipeline into influential media outlets, it seems that there might be quite a few masquerading as reporters as well.

Feature photo | Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins talks to the press at College Green in London, October 9, 2018. David Mirzoeff | PA Wire | Alamy

Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.orgThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.

The post How Bellingcat Launders National Security State Talking Points into the Press appeared first on MintPress News.

Thorstein Veblen on Business Interests in Education and Media

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 09/04/2021 - 9:08am in

Thorstein Veblen’s The Theory of Business Enterprise (1904) is a superb political economy book in which this original economist, talented sociologist and influential intellectual analyzed the growing corporate domination of culture, society and the economy in the US at the dawn … Continue reading →

Media in the Asian Century.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 09/04/2021 - 4:46am in

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Media

If Defence is going to be Peter Dutton’s springboard to greater power, he has a like mind in the United States in Mike Pompeo who is hoping to rally the defeated Republicans towards victory in 2024.

Stopping the boats II

There’s been surprisingly little media analysis of what Peter Dutton’s shift from Home Affairs to Defence Minister in Scott Morrison’s latest cabinet reshuffle will mean for foreign policy. His new portfolio is externally oriented, when it’s not about creating defence industry jobs in Australia or helping with floods and fires, and it gives Dutton a slot in Two-plus-Two meetings of defence and foreign ministers and other strategic gatherings.

Perhaps it won’t make much difference. The Department of Home Affairs constructed by him and its secretary Mike Pezzullo became a third theatre of foreign relations thanks to the issues of foreign interference, cyber hacking, and intellectual property control. Dutton moved into Five Eyes consultations, previously a Defence domain.

His domestic role didn’t always restrain him from wading into foreign relationships. Take his blast in October 2019 that Australia needed a “frank conversation” over China’s global influence, its infrastructure Belt and Road Initiative, expansionism in the South China Sea and growing military and aid presence in the Indo-Pacific. “Our issue, as I’ve said before, is not with the Chinese people, not with the amazing Chinese diaspora community that we have here in Australia,” he said, “My issue is with the Communist Party of China and their policies to the extent that they’re inconsistent with our own values.” And this was all before Covid.

Still, it will be interesting to see if Dutton tries to expand the Defence role, and whether he brings Pezzullo over to the departmental secretary role he once craved (While in Defence, Pezzullo authored the 2009 Defence White Paper that first urged doubling the submarine fleet).

Salvatore Babones, the University of Sydney academic and writer of hawkish op-eds, is one who thinks Dutton will stick it to China, and that this former Queensland police constable will naturally play the “bad cop” in the China relationship. “His move to the defence ministry is perhaps a signal that the Australian government intends to start pushing back harder against China—not just at home but overseas as well,” Babones wrote in Foreign Policy.

“Australia’s real threat from China is more likely to come in the form of a maritime militia disguised as fishing boats than an invasion strike force targeting Darwin, Australia, with advanced weaponry,” Babones concluded. “Given his experience ‘stopping the boats’ of people smugglers (to use the government’s preferred rhetoric for immigration enforcement), Dutton has the right background for figuring out how to thwart China’s irregular gray zone tactics for expanding its hold over the region’s seas.

“As China’s illegal fishing fleets creep closer to Australia’s home waters, Australia should be prepared to tackle China’s “short-of-war” methods with a proportionate response of its own. Australia’s Darwin-based patrol boat squadron is likely to play a bigger role here than hypersonic missiles or stealth fighters.”

Beijing’s Global Times didn’t wait to find out, declaring Dutton was a “hawkish” warmonger who would “stir up” and “further meddle” in tensions over the South China Sea.

Perhaps disappointingly for both, Dutton’s first remarks were quite mild. He said Australia wanted to work “collaboratively” with China to ensure peace in the Indo-Pacific.

Like Minds

If Defence is going to be Dutton’s springboard to greater power, he has a like mind in the United States hoping to rally the defeated Republicans towards victory in 2024.

Mike Pompeo was Donald Trump’s secretary of state, the one who Australian foreign minister Maryse Payne stiffly and publicly refused to join in a campaign to rid China of the CCP at last year’s Two-plus-Two. He’s not yesterday’s man to The Australian’s Greg Sheridan, who gained a Zoom interview with Pompeo for last Saturday’s paper.

“Now he looks to be running, if as yet unofficially, for president in 2024,” Sheridan wrote. “Although an ebullient and engaging personality, he sees a pretty dark world with one enormous problem at the centre of everything — the Communist Party of China.”

The CCP was out to undermine democracy everywhere, and brooked no criticism of anything it did internally or in claimed territory like Taiwan, Pompeo said.  The “weight of evidence” was that Covid-19 came from biological weapons work in the Wuhan laboratory.

All this got a ringing endorsement in a long editorial in Monday’s Australian, linking it to Dutton’s appointment. “Mr Dutton should bring strength and gravitas to the portfolio at a crucial time,” the newspaper pronounced, adding: “After a long trail of unimpressive defence ministers, Mr Dutton has a vital opportunity to make his mark.”

Vax race

Rather than swarms of Chinese fishing boats, the same newspaper’s Ben Packham was raising alarm about Chinese vials. “Australia is in a race against time to secure millions of COVID jabs for the Pacific in the next four weeks or risk a Chinese vaccine diplomacy victory that would push regional partners closer to Beijing,” he reported on Monday.

“Papua New Guinea has accepted 200,000 Chinese Sinopharm jabs in recent days, and Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare says Chinese vaccines are the next step in his country’s COVID response. Fiji says it will also accept Chinese jabs when they are approved by the World Health Organisation, which is expected to occur by the end of the month. Australia has donated 8500 AstraZeneca jabs to PNG to vaccinate frontline health workers amid a worsening COVID crisis, but has been unable to secure a promised one million shots for the country from Europe.”

But if there’s a race on, Canberra is still in the changing shed. Packham quoted the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade: “We are working with PNG, the WHO and ­UNICEF to help prepare for the fast and safe large-scale rollout of vaccines. This includes working on supporting planning, logistics, training and public information.”

Working on supporting? Packham was letting Canberra off lightly. By now, surely, there should be a detailed assignment of aircraft, ships, portable generators and refrigerators, and personnel to work with PNG counterparts in getting vaccines out to highland, coastal and island communities.

Then there’s the question of getting vaccines to the populations of the smaller Pacific island nations that have largely avoided Covid-19, at the cost of economic damage from lost tourism: Solomon Islands (670,000), Vanuatu (300,000), Fiji (900,000), Tonga (105,000). Surely this is within our capabilities, and could be done in tandem with our domestic roll-out, once Australia’s vaccine production at CSL hits its target, as we are promised it will shortly?

Surely a test for Morrison to show the Pacific vuvale (family) he proclaimed in October 2019 a bit more urgency? And to set aside rivalry with China as well. As Packham quoted the Burnet Institute’s Brendan Crabb, PNG probably had more than a million Covid cases already and needed to source vaccines wherever it could.

Once the Chinese vaccines received WHO approval, “I see no reason why they shouldn’t be used in PNG as well,” Crabb said. “It’s an ‘all hands on deck’ situation.” Supplying the shots was only half the battle”, he said. Transporting them across the country and “getting them into people’s arms” was the other half.

Honi Soit (qui mal y pense)

With obscenity and subversion laws greatly relaxed in recent decades, it’s been rare for student newspapers like Honi Soit (Sydney) or Tharunka (UNSW) to outrage the middle classes and provoke tabloid outrage as they used to do in the 1960s.

But Honi Soit had a go anyway on 31 March with a report that two professors in the engineering faculty were “associated with controversial Chinese government recruitment schemes and have collaborated with sanctioned Chinese universities on research with potential military end-use applications.”

Within hours of publication, editors took down the online version and posted an apology on the paper’s Facebook page:

“We unreservedly apologise to the academics mentioned in the article and for the harm caused to them, the Chinese community, and to our readers. Honi acknowledges that directly naming those academics was negligent, particularly in the face of escalating Sinophobia and racism at the University of Sydney and in wider society. Moving forward, we will ensure that we are always critical of the sources on which we rely, and we recognise our duty as student journalists to actively combat Western imperialist and xenophobic biases presented in mainstream media.”

That was waving a red flag, and The Sydney Morning Herald went to some of the usual suspects for predictable reaction.

Liberal senator James Paterson, chair of federal parliament’s intelligence and security committee: The editors were giving into the CCP’s favoured tactic of “weaponising claims of racism to shut down legitimate scrutiny”.

Labor senator Kimberley Kitching, chair of the Senate Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade References Committee: “Talent recruitment plans have been uncovered at most of our top educational institutions. In order to combat this effectively, we need to shine a light on this issue, not cover it up.”

Liberal MP Dave Sharma: “Such self-censorship from a student publication, and one with a reputation for free-thinking and straight-talking, is deeply concerning. I don’t wish to see irresponsible fear-mongering or a new McCarthyism on our campuses, but Honi’s reporting on this issue appears balanced and objective and well-sourced.”

Liberal MP Tim Wilson: “The progressive left would rather side with authoritarians by pandering to the CCP’s line than stand up for free discussion”.

Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge: “Left activists have forgotten what freedom of speech means in an era of woke culture. Certainly, any claims that it was taken down to appease the Chinese Communist Party are deeply concerning.”

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Hit jobs from the inside and News Corp attacks free speech of citizens

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 09/04/2021 - 4:22am in

Tags 

Media

Coordinated attacks on the Reserve Bank, free speech for the Courier Mail … but not for citizens, and digging up dirt on Josh Bornstein. 

Hit job on female journalists

In our absence last week, we missed the latest edition of “obfuscate the story” with regards to gender-based violence.

Aaron Patrick, of The Australian Financial Review, sought to portray the woman-led coverage of as “unapologetic activism”, implying that much of what was published were “opinions” instead of facts. It amounted to a hit-job on news.com.au’s political editor Samantha Maiden. First editions of the article included details of a death in the family.

PM caught in crusade

Angry coverage

Despite excoriating responses from much of the rest of the mainstream media, the AFR doubled down, with editor-in-chief Michael Stuchbury defending the article as “reasonable”, and repeating the “angry woman” line, which was sure to lower blood pressures and soothe frustrations across the nation.

AFR responds

really angry women line

Even more unhelpful was The Australian‘s Henry Ergas, who dismissed the events that have sparked outrage as “tantrums”.

Henry Ergas tantrums

But luckily the rest of the media had the solution: more Christianity.

Despite our most religious government in living memory having the worst track record of treatment of women in living memory, what we need is apparently more religion.

The Australian was particularly forceful, but even The Sydney Morning Herald’s Chris Uhlmann seemed to forget that Australia is a secular, not Christian, society.

The Australian

confected justice brigade

during this debacle

….

Christian commentators

The Australian‘s foreign editor

Christian ideals

The Sydney Morning Herald

Australia at war

As we approach Easter

The Herald Sun

Andrew Bolt

stopped going to church

Attack on the Reserve Bank

Meanwhile, a co-ordinated attack on the Reserve Bank of Australia began. Philip Lowe, RBA Governor, has said that interest rates won’t rise until unemployment is sufficiently low and wage growth sufficiently high, which might not be until 2024.

The government doesn’t seem to want to wait until then for wages to grow. But in a show of breathtaking hypocrisy, it is arguing against wage rises. How can the economy be strong, justifying the cessation of JobKeeper, yet be too weak for any wage growth?

And in yet another “I don’t hold a hose” moment, the government seems to be relying on the RBA to control house prices, despite that not being a mandate of the central bank. Low interest rates have uncovered the flaws in Coalition housing policy – such as negative gearing, renovation grants and home buying grants – which are seeing house prices skyrocket.

The Australian:

Ewin Hannan

The Sydney Morning Herald

Nick Bonyhady

and

Central bank under fire

The Australian Financial Review

john kehoe

RBA's tone

Jennifer Hewett

And another thing…

Who needs free speech when you have tabloids? The Courier Mail – the same paper that put Annastacia Palaszczuk in a cross-hair, and described two teenagers as “enemies of the nation” – decided that Australian of the Year Grace Tame shouldn’t be allowed to criticise the Prime Minister. Isn’t that what people are free to do in a democracy?

petty snipe

Following news that high-profile Industrial Relations lawyer Josh Bornstein was tilting for a run in the Senate, The Australian wasted no time in digging up a tweet calling then Labor deputy leader Chris Bowen a “muppet” to grab a news headline.

It took eight whole paragraphs to get to the fact that the tweet was from eight years ago.

Chris Bowen a muppet

And The Daily Telegraph was hitting the topics of public interest as always: Scott Morrison’s dog.

Morrison's vocal pooch

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