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Book Review: The Anthropocene in Global Media: Neutralizing the Risk by Leslie Sklair

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 31/07/2021 - 7:00pm in

In The Anthropocene in Global Media: Neutralizing the Risk, editor Leslie Sklair brings together contributors to explore how the Anthropocene is reported in mass media globally. Full of rich empirical details and insightful discussions, this enlightening book deserves the attention of anyone interested in evolving public discourses of the Anthropocene, recommends Sibo Chen.  This review originally appeared on LSE Review … Continued

Hasta La Vista Guardianista!

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 30/07/2021 - 3:02pm in

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Capitalism, Media

Ross Ashcroft met up with senior lecturer at the Department of Film Media and Cultural Studies at Birkbeck University, Justin Schlosberg, and head of media, communications and cultural studies at Goldsmiths University, Professor Des Freedman, to help unpick the enigma that is the Guardian.

The post Hasta La Vista Guardianista! appeared first on Renegade Inc.

Hasta La Vista Guardianista!

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 30/07/2021 - 3:02pm in

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Capitalism, Media

Ross Ashcroft met up with senior lecturer at the Department of Film Media and Cultural Studies at Birkbeck University, Justin Schlosberg, and head of media, communications and cultural studies at Goldsmiths University, Professor Des Freedman, to help unpick the enigma that is the Guardian.

The post Hasta La Vista Guardianista! appeared first on Renegade Inc.

How Reagan and US agencies made Murdoch a king.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 30/07/2021 - 4:57am in

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Media

Rupert Murdoch’s role in a secret project jointly financed by the US government and wealthy backers in the private sector to influence public opinion demands the attention of Australian lawmakers. 

Rupert Murdoch’s rise to become the most powerful media proprietor in history was not by chance, according to documents released during the 1987 Iran-Contra hearings in Washington. 

His media assets were critical to the Reagan administration’s ‘public perception’ program aimed at winning support for an aggressive policy of ‘regime change’ in Central America.

This operation was led by the CIA, with a senior operative running the campaign alongside the National Security Council’s (NSC) Lt-Col Oliver North from a building not far from the White House.

North hit the headlines after it was revealed he had been involved in the illegal sale of weapons to Iran and that  some of the profits were channeled to support guerilla fighters (the Contras) acting as US proxies to remove the socialist regime in Nicaragua. 

Journalist Robert Parry and Peter Kornbluh, an information analyst with the National Security Archive, were among the first to reveal how Reagan created what amounted to America’s first peacetime propaganda ministry.

“The president and his men realised from the start that to oust the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, they would need to neutralise the public opposition to US intervention in the Third World,” they reported in 1988.

“To win this war at home the White House created a sophisticated apparatus that mixed propaganda with intimidation, consciously misleading the American people and at times trampling on the right to dissent.”

Murdoch’s role was confirmed in subsequent reports by Parry whose investigative website Consortiumnews published details of meetings between Murdoch and Reagan in the White House. 

The first, on 18 February 1983, was arranged by Murdoch’s lawyer Roy Cohn who counted Donald Trump among his clients. Also in attendance was America’s propaganda tsar Charles Wick, director of the US Information Agency (USIA), who was keen for the administration to invest in satellite technology to counter Soviet propaganda.

It was later revealed that Murdoch played a critical role in familiarising Wick with the possibilities of emerging satellite technology and that a collaborative agreement was reached for the introduction of America’s first live global satellite television network. The result was WorldNet, a $15 million-a-year satellite-aided TV network that revolutionised America’s ability to promote its views to the world. 

At the time of the 1987 global financial meltdown cash-strapped news agencies across Europe took advantage of the opportunity to cut costs, by accepting ‘clips’ from WorldNet at little or no charge. 

It set the trap for the manipulation of the free world’s media. 

With the backing of the US State Department, Murdoch gained access to the latest technology that allowed him to expand his growing News Corp empire 

Until recently secrecy provisions surrounding the USIA prevented the release of information about the ‘public diplomacy’ program that implicates Murdoch. It helps explain why Wick was invited to join the Board of News Corp as special assistant to Murdoch after leaving government service following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Documents suggest Murdoch was singled out by Republican party stalwarts as a compliant publisher willing to advance the objectives of a first-term president well before he left Australia. As a result, with or without the knowledge of shareholders, News Corp became the vehicle for the spread of global propaganda. 

Not a word about Murdoch’s role in the secretive project has appeared in the Australian media, despite Parry publishing a report on 31 December 2014 under the headline ‘Murdoch, Scaife and CIA Propaganda’.

The article explained  how the Reagan administration “pulled right-wing media executives Rupert Murdoch and Richard Mellon Scaife into a CIA-organized “perception management” operation which aimed Cold War-style propaganda at the American people. 

President Reagan meets with publisher Rupert Murdoch, U.S. Information Agency Director Charles Wick, lawyer Roy Cohn and his law partner Thomas Bolan in the Oval Office on Jan. 18, 1983. (Photo credit: Reagan presidential library)

 

“Although some records relating to Murdoch remain classified, several documents that have been released indicate that he and billionaire Scaife were considered sources of financial and other support for President Ronald Reagan’s hard-line Central American policies, including the CIA’s covert war in Nicaragua,” Parry reported.

“According to the documents Murdoch was brought into the operation in 1983 when he was still an Australian citizen and his media empire was much smaller than it is today.”

Parry said News Corp consistently failed to respond to requests for comment about the Reagan-era documents. 

Five days before the first White House meeting with Murdoch, Reagan’s NSC advisor William Clark explained the need to raise money from the private sector to advance the secret project. 

“Our intention is to supplement our commitment of public funds with private funds. Some of the public funds would be allocated to private US organisations, which could conduct certain programs overseas more easily than the USG (Government),” Clark’s memo said.

“We will develop a scenario for obtaining private funding. Charlie Wick has offered to take the lead. We may have to call on you to meet with a group of potential donors.”

The wording suggests Murdoch was viewed as a source for additional funding even then – and that News Corp was among the ‘private US organisations’ in line for government money. 

To improve the project’s chances of success the CIA’s Walter Raymond wrote in another memo: “We recommended funding via Freedom House or some other structure that has credibility in the political centre. Wick, via Murdock (sic), may be able to draw down added funds for this effort.”

On 5 October 2015 Consortiumnews published a Special Report headlined ‘Rupert Murdoch: Propaganda Recruit’ that said in part: “Journalistic objectivity was never high on Rupert Murdoch’s ethics list, but ‘secret’ records from the 1980s show how far the media magnate went to ingratiate himself with President Reagan by collaborating with US propaganda operations.

“Murdoch … had already established close political ties with British Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and was developing them with President Ronald Reagan, partly through one of Murdoch’s lawyers Roy Cohn…”

By rights it ought to have had Australia’s Ambassador to Washington in a state of apoplexy and Canberra examining its conscience. It appeared to have done neither.

Six months after that first White House meeting Murdoch introduced the president to Charles Douglas-Home, editor of his London flagship The Times, at a second meeting in the Oval Office. 

It provided Reagan with a pathway into the heart of the British establishment.

The catalyst for Murdoch’s move to America came after Reagan confided the intention to repeal the Fairness Doctrine, that since the 1940s required radio and television licensees to respect the need for balanced reporting. Reagan regarded it as an anachronism. 

By 1987 when the doctrine was repealed Murdoch was already living in the US, having forfeited his Australian citizenship in 1985 to meet a new regulatory requirement that owners of TV stations had to be American citizens. 

As author David Brock explained in his 2004 book The Republican Noise Machine: Right-wing Media and how it Corrupts Democracy: “The end of the Fairness Doctrine meant stations could reflect the political perspectives of their owners. Alongside efforts to eliminate the fairness requirements, the Republicans were working to make it easier for a handful of corporate owners to dictate content.”  

It positioned Murdoch to become kingmaker. 

In 1986 he launched Fox News and brought in Roger Ailes to run it. In 2011 Rolling Stone magazine published an article titled ‘How Roger Ailes Built the Fox News Fear Factory’. 

“An examination of his career reveals Ailes has used Fox News to pioneer a new form of political campaign – one that enables the GOP (Grand Old Party) to bypass sceptical reporters and wage an around-the-clock, partisan assault on public opinion,” the magazine said.

“The network, at its core, is a giant soundstage created to mimic the look and feel of a news operation, cleverly camouflaging political propaganda as independent journalism. The result is one of the most powerful political machines in American history … to advance the agenda of the far right.”

Today Fox News is the most watched cable news service in the US. In 2016 Ailes was forced to resign over allegations of sexual harassment. He died the following year.

In the mid-2000s the UK telephone hacking scandal exposed Murdoch’s close relationship with the British establishment, including prime ministers Tony Blair and David Cameron.

A select parliamentary committee found reporters employed at Murdoch’s News of the World tabloid had illegally tapped the phones of hundreds of unsuspecting victims, including a Royal and dozens of celebrities. 

At a televised hearing in 2012, the committee found Murdoch “exhibited willful blindness to what was going on in his companies and publications”. UK lawmakers also ruled that he was “not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company”.

The News Corp chair made a groveling apology, but apart from the closure of London’s oldest newspaper, the sacking of staff and the payment of millions in compensation, he accepted no personal accountability.

Back in America it led Parry to suspect Murdoch’s ties to the Republican Party might warrant further investigation. As we have seen, what he found was not only bad for journalism it was disastrous for democracy.

Murdoch’s co-operative approach to CIA propaganda methodology makes a mockery of the Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) bestowed on him in 1984 “for services to the media, particularly the newspaper publishing industry” which News Corp continues to dominate today.

It lends weight to the assertions of former PMs Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull that the Murdoch media is a danger to democracy.

Most of those involved in the CIA’s deception program, including Casey, Raymond, Wick, Ailes and lawyer Cohn are now dead. So, too, is Bob Parry who died in 2018 after suffering a stroke at the age of 69.

Parry’s reporting is required reading for those who still believe in good governance, the rule of law and the role of the media in a working democracy. A key link can be found at: http://consortiumnews.com/2013/03/14/iran-contras-lost-chapter

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The ABC continues to deny right-wing bias by The Drum.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 29/07/2021 - 4:58am in

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Media, Politics

It is was with some sadness that I penned an article indicating what I saw as a right-winged bias by The Drum in its selection of some panellists. Since that article, I have continued to exchange correspondence with the ABC and I believe that the thread of responses mirrors the same tactics the Government uses to conceal obvious bias on their part. The ABC’s tactics has been at first ignore, then deny and if that fails spin the story.

A hallmark of the Morrison Government has been its continuous use of marketing and spin to conceal its dedication to rewarding the ‘haves’ at the expense of the rest of us.  Their continued effort to conceal the truth about the sports rorts, parking stations, etc. has damaged any level of trust held for them.  The spin defines them, and over recent days the press, particularly the ABC have been applying pressure to our political leaders, especially the PM to take responsibility for their inaction and failure to adequately vaccinate us from the COVID outbreak.  There has been a continued implication that Morrison uses his marketing skills to avoid personal responsibility however, journalists have taken pride in holding him to account and at least a partial apology.

A healthy democracy relies on a free and impartial press to keep us informed about important issues that affect us and in Australia we rely heavily on our ABC to do just that.  The ABC should be free from intimidation by those wealthy companies who control the advertising revenue so vital for their existence.

It is was with some sadness that on the 16 July I penned an article indicating, in John Menadue’s Public Policy Journal, Pearls and Irritations about what I saw as a right-winged bias by The Drum in its selection of some panellists.  I did this after I had made a formal complaint to the ABC and had not received any meaningful response.

Since that article I have continued to exchange correspondence with the ABC regarding my criticism and I believe that the thread of responses mirrors the same tactics the Government uses to conceal obvious bias on their part.  The ABC’s tactics has been at first ignore, then deny and if that fails spin the story.

My first complaint went through to Denise Musto, Investigations Manager, Audience and Consumer Affairs.  In her response she denied any bias, she pointed out they followed Section 4 of their Code of Conduct and that if I considered ‘a particular program was not in keeping with ABC editorial standards’ I needed to highlight where they had transgressed and with direct reference to the content.  Further, she would need more specific details other than a list of panellists to get a substantive response.

I was puzzled as my compliant was regarding the proportion of panellists with affiliation to the Liberal National parties compared to Labor and the Greens.  I had supplied very specific details but, as a courtesy by return email I asked what type of additional information they would require especially considering my only complaint was the proportional distribution of panellists with political affiliations.  I received no further information regarding this matter.

The ABC News Team also responded thanking me for my interest and declared The Drum selects guests from a huge and diverse range of backgrounds and political affiliation is only one consideration.  I was confused as the political affiliation was the source of my complaint and the astonishing bias I asserted was ignored.

I replied on the 17 July stating ‘I find this reply confusing.  In essence, my complaint was that I believed that there was an obvious bias in the selection of panellist from political backgrounds.  As a consequence, I was again asked to provide evidence of my claim please note that we require specific examples to support your concerns – including the date of broadcast’.  

I responded including the statistic that ‘the distribution based on their Party affiliation shows that 79% are Liberals, 20% Nationals and 1% Labor and the Greens never had a voice’.  As a counter claim I pointed out that ‘you (The Drum) have provided no such quantitative evidence to support your counter claims.  This imbalance is a direct infringement of the ABC’s Code of Conduct which requires even-handedness’.  The Code states that you havea statutory duty to ensure that the gathering and presentation of news and information is impartial according to the recognised standards of objective journalism’.

In my response I also addressed their counter claim that when I contend that The Drum had a bias I was informed that it ‘selects guests from a huge and diverse range of backgrounds, and political affiliation is only one consideration’. I had made no complaint about any other criteria than political affiliation.  However, by mentioning political affiliations they concede that this is a consideration so by any rational conclusion that despite the parameters of their Code of Conduct, they deliberately chose panellist with a political affiliation predominantly from Liberals; what other conclusion could I reach?

I completed that correspondence with the statement ‘from the evidence and your response I can only conclude one or all of the following:

  • You are incapable of understanding the content and importance of my complaint
  • You deliberately defy your Code of Conduct
  • You really believe what you say which indicates a very poor comprehension of effective journalism
  • You really know what you are doing and this action reflects your intellectual and moral integrity.’

Perhaps I should have included that I could be wrong, however I believe in evidence and could see nothing to suggest an error on my part.

I also passed on this correspondence to Media Watch and, apart from an acknowledgement of receipt I have heard nothing.

Yesterday I received what I suspect is a final reply regarding my complaint from Annie White, Editor, ABC News, Analysis & Investigations who opened with the statement that she ‘was advised by Denise Musto, that (she) need not reply to your (my) email of 9 July.

Ms White then continued, I believe in good faith to do her best to ‘explain better’ the guiding values of the program.  These values are to ‘try to represent a balanced set of views on the issues of the day’ and ‘part of that balance is political perspective and that the Drum never features elected politicians’.  Further, the program ‘seeks to spotlight diverse communities and neglected voices, to better represent modern Australia, as well as those who may have a political background but also now are not bound by the party line.’

She goes on ‘in terms of the Editorial Policies there is no requirement for a head count from any organisation or other body. What is required is a balanced presentation, over time, of views, so whether they are former sitting politicians, or conservatives in the business community, or reside in a mining community, or from a religious body – the editorial priority is there being a reasonable representation of that perspective.’

I would think that it would be prudent to keep a tally of the panellists.  I investigated 34 shows before I made my complaint.  However, from my university studies of statistical analyses a sample of 36 makes the findings of proportional comparisons more significant.  So, if I include the next two episodes in my sample, Ewen Jones a former Liberal/National Party representative from Queensland was a panellist and there were no representatives from any other party.  This strengthens my findings it increases the evidence of political bias.  From this sample you could conclude with some degree of confidence that there is a strong bias of Liberal representation distribution of the panellist on the show.

Ms White assured me that ‘their previous roles as Liberal MPs is disclosed because that is required according to the editorial guidelines, but is not the reason for their inclusion.’  Later she asserts that ‘our panels are published, and panellists’ backgrounds fully disclosed in the interests of transparency. This information can be found on The Drum’s website’.   I went to the website and the example of this ‘full disclosure’ is shown below!

I have not been able to find any other source that would rectify this – it is hardly a full disclosure!

Ms White went on to claim that they ‘absolutely do have former ALP and Green representatives, although prompted by your email I can agree not in the months you describe – this is absolutely not a strategy or a directive or any such conspiracy simply a reflection of the guests who have appeared instead.’  She goes on to explain the ‘complexity each panellist brings and that some panellists have run for ALP selection’.  The availability of this rationalisation of the selection criteria would be useful but I cannot see how the audience would be aware of any such selection criteria from the ‘disclosures’ provided.

In any case, if they are to criticise my data it would be appropriate to provide the evidence that allows them to make such claims.  Their criticism that my ‘chart attempts to break down this complexity’ is a nonsense statement, I would contend that the data I presented reflects the real situation and is a direct contrast to the complete lack of information that would support the ABC’s claims!

I appreciate the ABC maintains that it ‘remains loyal to its charter and up-holds your (their) Code of Conduct’ however, in recent times I cannot find any way the Drum has achieved this in regards to my complaint.  I contend that their selection of panellists with a political affiliation has blatantly breached the principles they seek to defend.

I find this whole process disappointing.  I pointed out an undeniable bias in the selection of panellists with political affiliations.  An acceptance of the evidence or a data driven rejection of my claim, an apology and an undertaking to address that imbalance in future would have seen this dispute finished in two lots of correspondence.  However, the initial dismissing of my complaint and the subsequent inaccurate defence of their decisions has all the hallmarks of, dare I say ‘marketing the message’ instead of truth telling. I expect more from my ABC!

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Corporate Media Joins the Anti-Vaxxers When It Comes to Chinese- and Russian-Made Vaccines

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 27/07/2021 - 10:44pm in

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China, Media, Russia

WASHINGTON — “Hundreds of Thai medical workers infected despite Sinovac vaccinations,” ran Reuters’ bombshell headline earlier this month. The report detailed how 618 Thai medical workers inoculated with the Chinese COVID vaccine have become infected anyway, leading to one death. As is common with such an influential newswire, Reuters’ story was picked up across the world by hundreds of publications, including The Washington Post, Yahoo! News and The New York Post.

Yet the article also notes that over 677,000 Thai medical workers have received the dose, meaning that more than 99.9% of those vaccinated have not developed COVID-19 — a fact that flies in the face of the headline’s implications. A large majority of news consumers do not read past the title, meaning that they were given the false impression that Sinovac is ineffective.

Being fully vaccinated does not offer complete protection from COVID-19. In late June, CNBC noted that well over 4,000 vaccinated Americans had been hospitalized with the virus, including 750 who died. Yet Reuters spun the news into an opportunity to spread distrust of Sinovac in Thailand, which is currently living through a rapid and unprecedented spike in coronavirus cases.

The article also took the opportunity to present the U.S. government and American company Pfizer as saviors, noting that “Thailand is expecting a donation of 1.5 million Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines from the United States later this month.” Yet in a country of 70 million people this contribution is far from a solution. Reuters’ close links to both the U.S. government and to Pfizer make this framing seem particularly questionable. Jim Smith, chairman of the Thomson Reuters Foundation and former president and CEO of Thomson Reuters, is also on Pfizer’s board. Meanwhile, Reuters’ former global business director, Dawn Scalici, spent 33 years in the CIA, working her way up to senior director, overseeing the agency’s operations in Iraq. She left her job as National Intelligence Manager for the Western Hemisphere for the Director of National Intelligence to, in her own words, “advance Thomson Reuters’ ability to meet the disparate needs of the U.S. government.”

This is far from the first time that Reuters has pushed anti-vax paranoia against Chinese vaccines like Sinovac or Sinopharm. In January, they published an article titled “Peru volunteer in Sinopharm vaccine trial dies of COVID-19 pneumonia, university says.” Yet buried in the article is a statement from the university noting that the participant was in the control group, which received only a placebo, meaning that they had died because they didn’t receive the vaccine, not because they did, which was the clear implication of the headline.

In May, Reuters also printed a piece headlined “WHO experts voice ‘very low confidence’ in some Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine data.” Yet reading the report, the WHO maintained that it had “overall confidence in [the vaccine’s] ability to prevent the disease.” The piece’s only gripe was that the testing phase did not include enough people from certain at-risk groups, such as pregnant women or the elderly, meaning that they had very little confidence that the trialing had categorically demonstrated that the vaccine was indisputably safe for certain people with comorbidities. What, however, would a lay person, unfamiliar with scientific terminology, take from that headline?

Last week, Reuters’ article “Sinovac’s vaccine finds supporters in Singapore despite effectiveness questions elsewhere,” claimed that the reason the island city-state was importing the Chinese vaccine was that “Singapore doesn’t want to upset Beijing,” rather than that it was an effective defense against a deadly virus.

And earlier this week, the influential newswire published an article headlined “Sinopharm’s COVID-19 shot induces weaker antibody responses to Delta — Study,” despite the fact that the university undertaking the experiment declared that, “This vaccine was found very effective for the Delta variant as well.” The doctor overseeing the study concluded that “when it comes to Delta and other variants, the Sinopharm vaccine induces similar levels of antibody responses as people who have naturally been infected, which is very good.” This was reported in Chinese media, but not by Reuters, whose article conveyed exactly the opposite message.

 

All the fake news that’s fit to print

Reuters is far from the only outlet seemingly on a crusade to discredit Sinopharm and Sinovac, however. Last year, The New York Times published an article titled “Brazil resumes Chinese vaccine trial after a brief suspension following the death of a volunteer.” Only in the penultimate paragraph did it inform readers that the person in question committed suicide. Unless the vaccine was supposed to have triggered this (which it did not assert), then the story’s premise is worthless. “Brazilian Man Commits Suicide” does not make the pages of the Times. Yet this incident proved worthy of two separate articles. It is not easy to see a reason beyond either irresponsible clickbait or active malicious intent behind the choice of headline and topic.

A recent Times exposé also heavily relied on innuendo to discredit China, its headline reading “They Relied on Chinese Vaccines. Now They’re Battling Outbreaks.” The article profiled a trio of countries — Bahrain, Mongolia and the Seychelles — that had bought and administered Sinopharm and Sinovac. “All three put their faith, at least in part, in easily accessible Chinese-made vaccines, which would allow them to roll out ambitious inoculation programs when much of the world was going without,” author Sui-Lee Wee wrote, constantly comparing them unfavorably with American-made ones; “But instead of freedom from the coronavirus, all three countries are now battling a surge in infections.”

NYT sinopharm

The NYT featured an expose replete with Sinophobic rhetoric and alarming imagery

But what the Times did not inform readers of was that the vast majority of serious or deadly cases in those countries happened to unvaccinated individuals. The Seychelles Ministry of Health confirmed as much and continues to implore people to take the Chinese vaccine, comfortable in the knowledge it is safe. As the Ministry of Health stated on Thursday, “Misinformation is prolonging the COVID-19 pandemic and can put lives in danger by leading people to make misinformed decisions.”

Enkhsaihan Lkhagvasuren, head of Public Health Policy Implementation for the Mongolian Health Ministry, made a similar statement, noting that 96% of recent COVID-19 deaths in his country occurred in individuals who were not fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, daily cases in Bahrain had already been plummeting for a month before Wee’s piece was published and now the country currently averages fewer than 100 new cases per day.

The New York Times has long cast aspersions about the dangers of the Chinese products, producing stories such as:

  • “In Coronavirus Vaccine Race, China Strays From the Official Paths” (July 16, 2020);
  • “China Gives Unproven Covid-19 Vaccines to Thousands, With Risks Unknown” (September 26);
  • “Vaccine Unproven? No Problem in China, Where People Scramble for Shots” (November 17);
  • “Chinese Covid-19 Vaccine Gets Key Push, but Doubts Swirl” (December 9);
  • “Turkey and Brazil Say Chinese Vaccine Effective, With Sparse Supporting Data” (December 25);
  • “China Has All It Needs to Vaccinate Millions, Except Any Approved Vaccines” (December 29);
  • “Disappointing Chinese Vaccine Results Pose Setback for Developing World” (January 13);
  • “China Wanted to Show Off Its Vaccines. It’s Backfiring” (January 25).

All of these were authored or co-authored by Wee, a journalist with no background in science or medicine, according to her bio on LinkedIn. And all relied on innuendos and conjecture to repeat the same overarching message.

The Washington Post has also denigrated what it sees as “China’s subpar shots,” with columnist Josh Rogin consistently pushing the dubious lab-leak hypothesis, even when other outlets were describing it as a baseless conspiracy theory.

 

Condemning vaccine skepticism at home, promoting it abroad

The New York Times has long condemned vaccine skepticism at home, castigating conservatives for their reluctance to get inoculated. Presenting the far-right as a direct threat to national security, in March the Times warned that “extremist organizations are now bashing the safety and efficacy of coronavirus vaccines in an effort to try to undermine the government.” “Mistrust of a coronavirus vaccine could imperil widespread immunity,” it worried in July 2020, adding that, “[b]illions are being poured into developing a shot, but the rapid timetable and President Trump’s cheerleading are creating a whole new group of vaccine-hesitant patients.”

Reuters, too, has presented itself as a pro-science organization, even running a fact checking department debunking rumors regarding vaccines. Yet an indication of how much care is taken over these can be gleaned from one fact check from June, which starts with the sentence “Refiling to correct typo in paragraph two and headline” — clearly a note from the writer to the editing team. For nearly a month it has stood uncorrected, suggesting that no one at the newswire read it, either before or after publishing.

Covid misinformation

A man receives one of 700,000 Sinopharm vaccines donated by China in Kabul, Afghanistan, June 16, 2021. Rahmat Gul | AP

“It’s striking how similar the techniques [are] that Fox News uses to frighten people about the U.S. vaccination campaign and those that The New York Times, Reuters and others use to scare people about Chinese vaccines,” Jim Naureckas, editor of media watchdog organization Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, told MintPress. “It’s not hard to take advantage of laypeople’s unfamiliarity with probability to make little dangers seem big. In both cases, though, media outlets are putting people’s lives at risk for a political purpose — in effect conducting germ warfare through psychological warfare,” he added.

There is no need for such mistrust. Both Sinopharm and Sinovac are inactivated virus vaccines which use inactivated or killed viral particles that cannot replicate. This method is one of the oldest and most established techniques, used by Jonas Salk to create his famous polio vaccine. The method is still used to make modern Hepatitis A and flu shots. Sinopharm and Sinovac contain proteins that the body’s immune system responds to, stimulating the production of anti-COVID antibodies, preparing it to fight off any real infection later. The vaccines were designed to be more effective against more severe cases of COVID-19, with studies showing both inventions to be sufficiently capable of preventing symptomatic infection and particularly useful in preventing hospitalizations.

 

A familiar foe

China is not the only foreign source of vaccines towards which Western corporate media have displayed profound hostility; the Russian Sputnik V vaccine has also drawn considerable skepticism. Reuters has published a slew of articles highlighting the supposed shortcomings of Sputnik, including a news brief noting that Brazil had rejected the vaccine. Yet this was published over a month after a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report boasted that among its best achievements of 2020 was combatting the “malign influence” of Russia in the Western hemisphere by pressuring the Brazilian government to shun Sputnik. When this was picked up by Brasil Wire and other local media, it caused a national scandal.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which owns the rights to Sputnik, described Reuters as carrying out a disinformation campaign through “false and inaccurate” reporting that is full of anonymous sources from the Western pharmaceutical lobby groups. Worthy of note here is that Reuters was secretly funded by the British government during the Cold War to run anti-Soviet propaganda and that leaked documents show that this close relationship continues to the present day. The U.K.’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office is working with the company on operations designed to “weaken Russia,” in their own words. That a similar deal regarding China could be in place is not out of the question.

The Washington Post has also displayed similar skepticism about vaccines coming from enemy countries. In an article entitled “The Russians and the Chinese are touting their vaccines. Should we trust them?” the newspaper allowed a scientist from rival vaccine maker Moderna to claim that we should take Russian and Chinese results “with two grains of salt,” seemingly confirming the RDIF’s accusations. The same Moderna source claimed that Russia would never allow its vaccine to be subject to an approval process by E.U. regulators, an assertion that was almost immediately disproven.

Like the Chinese vaccines, Sputnik’s effectiveness has been confirmed, with studies showing that it can boast a 92% efficiency rating.

Sputnik V: EU Sacrifices Its Citizens by the Thousands on the Altar of Anti-Russia Point-Scoring

 

Manufacturing a new enemy

The wave of skepticism over (foreign) vaccines is based not on science but rather on geopolitical considerations. In the last decade, China — and, to a lesser extent, Russia — have become the United States’ top international rivals. In 2011, the Obama administration began what it called the U.S.’ “pivot to Asia” — an attempt to encircle Beijing with military bases. Today, there are more than 400 ringing the People’s Republic.

The 2021 Pentagon budget makes clear that there will be a significant move away from the Middle East and a redeployment of resources to East Asia, which will become America’s “priority theater” in years to come. Another region of conflict will be the Arctic, where warming temperatures will open up valuable sea lanes for exploitation. Already, many in Washington are advocating for the occupation of Norway as a measure to counter a supposed Russian threat.

The constant fear-mongering in the press has had a significant effect: a recent poll found that American public opinion towards China and Russia has collapsed to below Cold War levels, with only 20% and 22% of the U.S. holding positive opinions about those countries, respectively.

This is a far cry from nine years ago, when the same polls showed that public opinion towards China was decidedly positive. And when Mitt Romney attempted to cast Russia as the United States’ number one geopolitical foe during the 2012 presidential debates, his Democratic opponents mocked him relentlessly. “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back…the Cold War’s been over for 20 years,” Barack Obama quipped.

Today, there is little disagreement between the two parties as to who the United States’ two primary enemies are, and the rhetoric and sabre rattling continues to escalate. In February, the Atlantic Council — the semi-official think tank of NATO, staffed by senior military figures from NATO member states — published a 26,000-word report describing China as “the single most important challenge facing the United States” today. The report advised the U.S. to use the power of its military to draw a number of “red lines” around China, beyond which the U.S. would respond. This included essentially any Chinese or North Korean military action in the Asia-Pacific region, or any Chinese cyber attacks on the U.S. or its allies. Failure to do so, they advised President Biden, would result in “national humiliation.”

The report also laid out what a successful China policy would look like by 2050: “[T]he United States and its major allies continue to dominate the regional and global balance of power across all the major indices of power” and head of state Xi Jinping “has been replaced by a more moderate party leadership; and … the Chinese people themselves have come to question and challenge the Communist Party’s century-long proposition that China’s ancient civilization is forever destined to an authoritarian future.” In other words, that U.S. pressure had resulted in regime change in Beijing.

In May, political and military leaders from Western nations met at the Alliance of Democracies Summit, where one of the big talking points was establishing an “Asian NATO” to push back at what they saw as intolerable Chinese aggression in the region. Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster endorsed the plan, describing the Chinese Communist Party as without a doubt the number one threat to democracy in the world.

But while China is not sailing its warships to the coasts of California or Maine, the opposite is happening on the other side of the globe. Throughout 2020 and 2021, the U.S. undertook a series of provocative military actions, surveying Chinese coastal defenses from the sea and the air. In July of last year, the U.S.S. Peralta came within 41 nautical miles from China’s maritime boundary. Meanwhile, American nuclear bombers have flown over Chinese ships near Hainan island.

US Military Planners Advise Expanded Online Psychological Warfare against China

 

Economic war

Alongside the military build up, the U.S. is also carrying out an economic war with its foes, attempting to curtail China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a huge economic development plan for Asia, Europe, Africa and Australasia. With a similar lack of success, the U.S. attempted to cajole Germany into abandoning the Nord Stream 2 Pipeline, which will allow up to 110 billion m3 of Russian gas to be pumped into Germany (and much of Europe), forging a deeper economic codependence between the two countries. Both China and Russia are also under a considerable U.S. sanctions regime.

Other economic strong-arming has included the Trump administration attempting to force Chinese-owned social media company TikTok to sell itself to an American rival, trying to block the rollout of global 5G technology under Chinese company Huawei, and leaning on social media platforms to silence Chinese voices. Last year, a U.S.-government-funded think tank convinced Twitter to delete over 170,000 accounts sympathetic to the Chinese government on one day alone.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a convenient tool in ramping up anti-China sentiment among the American public, with both Trump and Biden using the virus’s apparent Chinese origins for political capital. Trump himself consistently referred to it as the “China virus” and, even more derisively, as the “Kung Flu.” Going further, Florida Senator Rick Scott claimed that every Chinese citizen is a Communist spy and should be treated as such. In such a climate, racist attacks on Asian-Americans have soared.

Russia has also been the target of a similar infowar, with Russian public broadcaster RT taken off the air in some U.S. markets, its staff forced to register as foreign agents under a 1938 law passed to counter Nazi propaganda. Both countries have also been accused of using heretofore unknown microwave weapons against American secret agents and diplomats.

“Unchallenged Orientalism”: Why Liberals Suddenly Love the Lab Leak Theory

 

Upside-down world

A number of articles in corporate media suggest that what they fear about the Chinese and Russian vaccines is not that they are ineffective, but that they are indeed effective, and will allow those countries to score diplomatic wins. “China and Russia are using coronavirus vaccines to expand their influence. The U.S. is on the sidelines,” ran one Washington Post headline. The New York Times seemed to agree: “Brazil Needs Vaccines. China Is Benefiting,” it wrote, worrying that Sinopharm and Sinovac are giving China “enormous leverage in pandemic-ravaged nations,” noting that Brazil has recently softened its hardline stance against Huawei’s 5G network, supposedly in response to help from China. The idea that the U.S. could counter this by using its enormous political and diplomatic power to waive intellectual property rights to vaccine production — meaning that it could be made freely all around the world — was not considered.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the deep inequalities around the globe. In the United States and other rich nations that hoarded them, vaccines are plentiful and freely available to all. But they have been met with enormous skepticism from the public. A Morning Consult poll found that 30% of Americans are still skeptical of them or categorically refuse to be immunized. In what has become a partisan culture war, more than 97% of Americans recently hospitalized and 99.5% of those dying of COVID-19 are unvaccinated, according to the CDC and the Surgeon General.

Meanwhile, in the Global South, there is a huge desire to be vaccinated, but this is being blocked by U.S. actions. Western nations, who possess far more vaccines than they could ever use themselves, are refusing to waive intellectual property rights, preventing worldwide production. U.S. sanctions, too, are stopping Cuba from importing the raw material it needs to ramp up production of its domestically-produced COVID vaccines. The island also has a shortage of syringes, thanks to the U.S. blockade, meaning it cannot even fully vaccinate its own citizens.

While many Americans see the coronavirus as in the rear-view mirror, across the globe it is still raging, with more than 8,000 people dying daily and more than half a million testing positive, as the world enters a third wave of infections. Many countries have barely started vaccinating their populations, and reports suggest the world’s poor will have to wait until 2024 or longer to receive a shot. For instance, the Democratic Republic of the Congo — Africa’s third largest and second most populous country — has vaccinated only 0.09% of its citizens (fewer than 1 in 1,000).

Vaccines from other countries could help this acute shortage. Yet it is clear that many in Washington do not want this to happen. Corporate media have spent the last 18 months insisting that we “trust science” and condemning domestic conspiracy theories about the trustworthiness of vaccines. Yet when it comes to foreign vaccines, that belief in the scientific method is sacrificed on the altar of politics, putting people’s lives at risk to help advance America’s geopolitical goals.

The consistent message to the world in U.S. media has been “The Chinese (and Russian) vaccines are ineffective or dangerous. Do not take them.” Apart from being factually incorrect, for many in the Global South, Sinovac, Sinopharm or Sputnik are their only choice, meaning this message is endangering millions of people. Others have no access to vaccines whatsoever.

Likewise, domestic vaccine skepticism has been strongly condemned, with individuals and organizations removed from social media and even prevented from using platforms such as Patreon to support their work. But international vaccine skepticism is not only not censored, it is actively encouraged and boosted by many of our largest and most trusted news sources, who, in a feat of extraordinary irresponsibility, are actively putting people’s lives at risk to score political points.

Feature photo | A nursing student administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination center at UNLV, in Las Vegas. John Locher | AP

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 Corporate Media Joins the Anti-Vaxxers When It Comes to Chinese- and Russian-Made Vaccines appeared first on MintPress News.

Censorship Is Now so Broadly Defined as to Mean Anyone Disagreeing with Me Is Censoring Me

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 26/07/2021 - 10:30pm in

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Politics, Media

Photo credit: Lightspring / Shutterstock.com _____ Newspapers and magazines and any kind of media in printed form have always, and...

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Blinken’s vow to support ‘independent journalists’ does not apply to Julian Assange

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 26/07/2021 - 3:49am in

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Media

Secretary of State Antony Blinken vowed last Monday that the United States “will always support the indispensable work of independent journalists around the world” – a commitment that the Biden administration has refused to apply to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, whom the US government is attempting to prosecute for releasing classified information that exposed war crimes in Iraq and elsewhere.

“We won’t tolerate efforts to intimidate them or silence their voices,” Blinken tweeted, referring specifically to Masih Alinejad, an Iranian-American journalist and critic of Iran’s government. Alinejad, who currently works as a television host for the Voice of America Persian News Network – a US government-funded outlet – says Iranian intelligence agents recently attempted to kidnap her from her home in New York City.

Critics were quick to note that Blinken’s expression of support for Alinejad and “independent journalists around the world” has not yet been extended to Assange, given that the Biden administration has continued its predecessor’s attempt to extradite the publisher from the United Kingdom, where he has spent more than two years in a maximum-security jail.

“Every US media outlet should lambast this comment and reference Assange, but they won’t, because they suck,” political commentator Kyle Kulinski tweeted in response to Blinken’s remark.

Clare Daly, a socialist member of the European Parliament, noted that “the upshot of the ongoing Trump/Biden prosecution of Julian Assange is the United States believes all journalists, whatever their nationality, wherever they are, have a legal duty to keep the US government’s dirty secrets.”

“Now I’m sorry, but that’s not ‘supporting’ journalists,” Daly added.

In January, a British judge rejected the Trump administration’s request to extradite Assange on the grounds that the brutal American prison system posed a threat to the publisher’s life. Despite pressure from press freedom groups to drop the charges, the Biden administration appealed the judge’s ruling in February and has since promised to let Assange serve out his potential 175-year prison sentence in his home country of Australia.

International advocacy organizations have consistently argued that prosecuting Assange for publishing classified information – something journalists do frequently – would pose a grave threat to press freedoms around the world.

“Journalists at major news publications regularly speak with sources, ask for clarification or more documentation, and receive and publish documents the government considers secret. In our view, such a precedent, in this case, could effectively criminalize these common journalistic practices,” a coalition of press freedom groups wrote in a letter to the Biden Justice Department earlier this year.

Since the Biden administration’s appeal of the UK judge’s extradition ruling, new revelations about the US government’s case against Assange have sparked growing calls for an end to the prosecution effort and his immediate release from jail.

In an interview with the Icelandic newspaper Stundin last month, a key witness against Assange admitted to fabricating accusations that the US government used in its indictment (pdf) of the WikiLeaks founder. Common Dreams reported the news of Sigurdur Thordarson’s admission earlier this month, but the corporate media in the US has largely ignored the walk-back.

As Jacobin‘s Branko Marcetic summarized:

“The [US government’s] indictment charges, among other things, that Assange instructed Thordarson ‘to commit computer intrusions’ and secretly record high-ranking Icelandic officials, including members of parliament; that they tried to decrypt a ‘stolen’ file from an Icelandic bank; that Assange tried to use ‘the unauthorized access given to him by a ‘source’ to make use of a government website that tracked police vehicles; and that he had ordered and encouraged Thordarson to set up a relationship with a hacking group, who would hack and illegally obtain documents to pass on to WikiLeaks. All of these claims, Thordarson has now admitted to Stundin, are either highly misleading or outright false, the paper reports.”

“No one should be under any illusion that Blinken or Joe Biden is actually concerned about press freedoms, of course, as the administration’s actions in the first six months in office plainly show – just with assuring liberal voters this presidency is different from Trump’s,” Marcetic continued. “But that’s a lot harder to do when a key part of the case that Assange wasn’t merely a publisher of official secrets, but a criminal directing global hacking operations, turns out to have been fabricated.”

This article written by Jake Johnson was republished from Common Dreams 20 July 2021 under the Creative Commons License. Click here to read the original article.

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When a picture paints a thousand words that reveal the truth- Minamata.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 25/07/2021 - 3:57am in

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Media

In the quest for truth and justice, the media holds up a mirror that reveals what is hidden from our eyes but is often done in our name.

Minamata? I’d never heard of it, and then twice within 24 hours. A Good Samaritan Sister in Japan emailed me saying that she was hoping to visit the “Minamata exposure”.  The next day I read a review of a film called MinamataThe serendipity (often the modus operandi of the Holy Spirit!) of email and review moved me to go and see the film starring Johnny Depp.

This is no Pirates of the Caribbean role. Depp plays the part of the famous American World War II photojournalist, W Eugene (Gene) Smith, renowned for introducing the photographic essay in Life magazine after the war.

In 1971, Japanese American translator, Aileen Mioko, had invited Gene Smith to visit Minamata, a fishing village on the island of Kyushu in southern Japan. Aileen, who eventually became Smith’s wife, wanted to recruit him for the campaign for justice for families devastated by Minamata disease, a neurological illness caused by extreme mercury poisoning.

For several decades, a chemical factory owned by Chisso Corporation had been discharging heavy metals into local waterways around Minamata, poisoning seafood, the staple diet of the villagers. Babies and young children were most severely impacted by crippling deformities of face, hands and feet, wasted muscles, and impaired vision, hearing and speech.

Chisso had denied all responsibility and insisted that there was no connection between the disease and the company’s mercury waste.

Despite local activists producing damning evidence to the contrary, the company refused to pay financial compensation. The film claims Chisso’s sole concern was profit and a fat return to shareholders. Dollars trumped compassion and justice.

Gene and Aileen lived in Minamata for two years, winning the trust of the villagers who eventually allowed them to photograph the gnarled bodies of their loved ones.

Armed only with his Minolta camera, Gene took on the corporate behemoth. He and Aileen produced a photo essay for Life and co-authored a subsequent book.

The image that most affected the world was Tomako Uemura in Her Bath, an image that is at once heart-breaking and shocking, while being suffused with tenderness and love. It is the Pietà of the 20th Century.

Whereas protest and advocacy couldn’t budge Chisso, the film portrays how this photograph did. International public opinion eventually forced the company to compensate victims and their families.

Tomako Uemura in Her Bath helped raise global awareness of industrial pollution of marine habitats elsewhere. “Photography is a small voice, at best,” Smith famously said, “but sometimes – just sometimes – one photograph, or a group of them, can lure our senses into awareness …”

Minamata is hardly an isolated case, the end credits of the movie list other global chemical catastrophes, including Chernobyl, Bhopal, and the Exon Valdez oil spill. What these environmental and human tragedies have in common is how corporate power endeavours to cover up and avoid all responsibility.

It occurs to me how photojournalism can “out” the deniers and the shirkers of responsibility, in the service of justice.

There are many examples. Think of the iconic image of Phan Thị Kim Phúc, “the Napalm Girl”, which laid bare the barbarity of the Vietnam War – the barbarity of any war.

More recently, we are grateful to Darnella Frazier, the young woman who filmed the murder of George Floyd on her phone. Frazier received a Pulitzer Prize special citation “for courageously recording the murder of George Floyd, a video that spurred protests against police brutality, around the world, highlighting the crucial role of citizens in journalists’ quest for truth and justice.”

Film makers can do the same. Two fine films based on true events come to mind: Erin Brockovich about an environmental activist’s lawsuit against a company responsible for contaminating drinking water, and The Insider in which Russell Crowe plays the role of a whistleblower in the tobacco industry.

Such films and images hold a mirror up to our society to reveal what is hidden from our eyes, but so often done in our name.

Who can forget the image of the two “Biloela sisters”, a sick and distressed, Tharnicaa Murugappan (then aged three) being comforted by her sister, Kopica? Tharnicaa was subsequently diagnosed with pneumonia and sepsis and flown to a Perth hospital for treatment. Another photo taken two years earlier showed Tharnicaa’s rotten teeth, presumably caused by vitamin deficiency in detention.The photo of the two sisters did “lure our senses into awareness”. It stirred a modicum of begrudging compassion in the hearts of politicians who allowed the Murugappan family to be reunited in Perth and issued with a three-month bridging visa. It also tugged on the heart strings of many of us and stirred our conscience, forcing us to consider if the end of border security could ever justify the means of cruelty to children.Much of Australia’s asylum policy is brutal and inhumane and we voting citizens collude with the government that enforces it. At a time when the plight of the most needy in our society is deliberately hidden from view to avoid public scrutiny, where punitive anti-whistleblowing laws have been introduced, when press freedom is vulnerable (witness the police raids on media organisations), more than ever we need our own “Minamata exposure”. Let us salute our investigative journalists, photojournalists and film-makers while claiming our own crucial role, “as citizens in journalists’ quest for truth and justice.”

This article is repbulished from Sisters of the Good Samaratin of the order of St Benedict July 2021. Click here to read the original article.

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Poor leadership, irresponsible media and a clever virus

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 21/07/2021 - 4:57am in

Tags 

Health, Media, Politics

Despite this being the most scientific of all ages, capable of producing highly effective vaccines a year after the SARS-COV-2 virus was identified ( Russian scientists actually achieved this in six months), poor leadership, ignorance, stubbornness and irresponsible media, (broadcast and social), are making this pandemic much worse than it needs to be.

The second Annual General Meeting of the International Society for the promotion of Corona Viruses was held last week. I watched the proceedings on V-Tube and I can tell you there was some pretty scary stuff going down. The meeting was held in Florida, a sensible decision since so many members were in that state already. There were millions present, some resting on walls and furniture while large numbers relaxed as they floated effortlessly through the air of the congress auditorium. The mood was clearly celebratory.

Their president, one Sars Delta, congratulated members on the news from the WHO that at this time they had successfully infected more humans than ever before. At the session I watched, ‘Friends of Corona viruses’ awards were announced. The chairman noted that last year it was obvious that Donald Trump deserved the associations highest honour but for 2021 there were many more worthy candidates.

Finally, however, the awards committee had decided that this year Boris Johnson deserved the highest accolade. After all, he was committed to snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. “ With 46% of the population vaccinated and our best efforts only being rewarded with 50,000 new infections a day, Boris came to our rescue and declared that all those restrictions that were hampering our mission were to be removed in the name of “Freedom” noted the chairman. The applause was deafening.

They went on to a group award for US Republican governors and an honourable mention for the President of Brazil. They were seriously considering an award for NSW Premier Gladys Berijiklean when she stumbled and got more serious about a NSW “Lockdown”. Encouraging however was the chaotic failure in Australia for an efficient vaccination program with a number of that country’s leading politicians in line for next years awards.

The most chilling moment of the conference however came with the announcement that so many human infections were occurring and allowing enterprising delta viruses to pursue their commitment to continuous improvement that the arrival of the new more deadly Epsilon variant was imminent.

Enough of the satire.

The truth is that despite this being the most scientific of all ages, capable of producing highly effective vaccines a year after the SARS-COV-2 virus was identified ( Russian scientists actually achieved this in six months), poor leadership, ignorance, stubbornness and irresponsible media, (broadcast and social), are making this pandemic much worse than it needs to be.

Professor Stephen Leeder brought to my attention a distressing account of the generation of a sense of hopelessness among front line health care workers in the UK,  generated by failed public health initiatives with many patients dying from Covid-19 complications convinced that they were right to be afraid of and reject vaccination.

There is no shortage of dangerous behaviour by individuals here that have increased the risk of an explosion of Coronavirus infections in our communities. Two furniture removalists who knew they were infected and infectious disobeyed orders to self-isolate and indeed exposed many to the viruses they had contracted. As our ‘lockdown’ in NSW proceeds, police are charging more than 150 people a day for blatant breaches of the current public health orders and it is surely a fact that many more, not caught, are doing the same thing. There are few situations where the actions of one individual can potentially cause so much damage to many others. This is one of them.

Then there is the literally disgusting behaviour of one UK visitor, Katie Hopkins. She was invited to Australia by Chanel 7 to appear in their ‘Big Brother’ program. In an anything but funny outburst to her Instagram followers, she reported that she was trying to taunt the guards in her quarantine hotel by answering her door naked and without a mask.

“The police officer who checked me in told me when they knock on my door I have to wait 30 seconds ’til I can open the door to collect food” she laughed in an Instagram live video’. “Then I can open the door but only if I wear a face mask.”

What I want is the sergeant in the foyer to come up and tell me off so that I can stand there naked while he tells me off.”

The deserved condemnation followed but many, understandably, asked how this woman and indeed a number of ‘celebrities’ can come here at this time when 30,000 Australians are trapped abroad and desperate to return? These Australians have every right to be angered by the Federal government’s failure to long ago realise that they need an urgent build of  ‘fit-for-purpose’ quarantine facilities to help bring Australians home and prepare for future pandemics.

With the exception of the ABC which I think has done an excellent job of accurately reporting on the range of Covid issues of which the public should be aware, our Broadcast media (TV and Radio) have not been as accurate and constructive in their reporting as we had every right to expect.

SKY News has given much air time to fallacious views without providing expert opinions to counter dangerously inaccurate claims. In general, media reporting on the rare side effects of the AstraZeneca Vaccine have been unduly alarmist and this has no doubt contributed to many rejecting the vaccine even when the risk associated with circulating virus far outweighed any risk from the vaccine.

In the United States, where the vaccination rate has stalled with less than 50% of Americans fully vaccinated, President Biden has vented his frustration with Facebook for allowing a huge amount of dangerous misinformation about the dangers of Covid vaccines to be propagated. A ‘free speech’ debate is raging but as I have reported hereinbefore, social media platforms are making a lot of money by allowing alarmist inaccurate information about the pandemic to raise doubts and fuel conspiracy theories, a very real 21st-century problem.

Here at home, it’s surely reprehensible that the Commonwealth government has paid scant attention to using popular media to educate Australians about the risks and benefits of coronavirus vaccines. A series of short cartoons about public health measures that protect one during this epidemic were childish and ineffective. A scare campaign featuring a woman struggling to breathe but denied a ventilator has been rightly criticised.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is now being made available to everyone. All receiving this vaccine must give informed consent for the jab and that means having a detailed knowledge of the symptoms to look out for in those very rare cases where vaccine-induced clotting might be occurring. Recipients need a plan of action for seeking immediate testing and help for early diagnosis and treatment is the key to avoiding serious consequences.

When receiving the vaccine from a GP  time is made for education before consenting. I worry about a lack of information being provided at mass immunisation clinics and pharmacies. It’s not good enough for the Commonwealth to have dot point information available on a website. Provision of the detailed information required should be imaginatively provided on all popular media by our government.

We have a long way to go before we again live in a Covid safe environment. Mistakes made to date need to be recognised and corrected. Going forward, consistency, transparency and accuracy must be features of information and strategies provided as part of a national plan to control our epidemic. This would feature the agreed national plan being implemented by states to avoid the current situation where different states take a different approach to the challenges we face from a very dangerous virus.

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