Click to get your own widget

Friday, March 14, 2008


I got this from Andy:
Are you aware that South Lanarkshire Council are banning access to your blog in computers in their libraries? Banning access to political opinion is highly undemocratic and something should be done about this!

I've been complaining for years in the pages of the Rutherglen Reformer about them banning science on the grounds that it is pornographic but they still do it. Perhaps you can make them pay more attention?

These guys make the Chinese internet censorship look incredibly civilized.
I have previously commented on how my site is inaccessible in China but with the Praesidium of South Lanarkshire Council stepping up to the plate we are clearly in the big leagues now.

PS I will be sending a copy of this to them at & will publish any reply they make (assuming it gets there).

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


I got this letter in the Scotsman today:

Having seen the numerous letters (11 March), all but one from the United States, upbraiding you for not censoring Samantha Power's remarks about Hillary, the "monster" Clinton, I think you were right to publish a remark which clearly was not off the record. Indeed, I would say that ethical journalism would require that you do so.
The results of a compliant press are not pretty. For example, it is now known that during the Rambouillet meeting prior to the Yugoslav bombing, the US secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, held a genuinely off-the-record briefing of most of the western media to tell them that it was not the Yugoslavs who were being intransigent over Kosovo but the US government because they deliberately felt "the Serbs need a little bombing" and "what is the use of having the world's best military when you don't get to use them?"

The western media, with virtual unanimity, decided not merely to accept the off the record nature of her statements, but to lie, as instructed, and blame the Serbs, leading to a war in which 80 per cent of NATO's victims were civilians and which brought about genocide and the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo.

The responsibility of the press not to censor itself is a heavy one and I am glad that in this case The Scotsman showed journalistic integrity.

This letter was unedited.

I had yesterday said that though they published letters critical of their decision to report Ms Power's foolish remark they would not publish one reporting the press reaction to Albright's murderous remarks. I was wrong & have put this apology on their site

"My apologies & thanks to the Scotsman. Yesterday online here I said that the Scotsman would not publish a letter mentioning Ms Albright's disgraceful instructions & the media's even more disgraceful obedience to them.

I am very pleased to acknowledge that the Scotsman have so considerably exceeded my expectation.

Now when the BBC report it ....."

References - the briefing
"if we don't get to use it"

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Fred on the US system but apart from changing a few names applies equally here:

First, we have two identical parties which, when elected, do very much the same things. Thus the election determines not policy but only the division of spoils. Nothing really changes. The Democrats will never seriously reduce military spending, nor the Republicans, entitlements.

Second, the two parties determine on which questions we are allowed to vote. They simply refuse to engage the questions that matter most to many people. If you are against affirmative action, for whom do you vote? If you regard the schools as abominations? If you want to end the president’s hobbyist wars?

Third, there is the effect of large jurisdictions. Suppose that you lived in a very small (and independent) school district and didn’t like the curriculum. You could buttonhole the head of the school board, whom you would probably know, and say, “Look, Jack, I really think….” He would listen.

But suppose that you live in a suburban jurisdiction of 300,000. You as an individual mean nothing. To affect policy, you would have to form an organization, canvass for votes, solicit contributions, and place ads in newspapers. This is a fulltime job, prohibitively burdensome.

The larger the jurisdiction, the harder it is to exert influence. Much policy today is set at the state level. Now you need a statewide campaign to change the curriculum. Practically speaking, it isn’t practical. Perhaps the SNP are on to something, on the other hand they support EU membership

Fourth are impenetrable bureaucracies. A lot of policy is set by making regulations at some department or other, often federal. How do you call the Department of Education to protest a rule which is in fact a policy? The Department has thousands of telephones, few of them listed, all of which will brush you off. There is nothing the public can do to influence these goiterous, armored, unaccountable centers of power.

Yes, you can write your senator, and get a letter written by computer, “I thank you for your valuable insights, and assure you that I am doing all….” been there got the pre-printed postcard

Fifth is the invisible bureaucracy (which is also impenetrable). A few federal departments get at least a bit of attention from the press, chiefly State and Defense (sic). Most of the government gets no attention at all—HUD, for example. Nobody knows who the Secretary of HUD is, or what the department is doing. Similarly, the textbook publishers have some committee whose name I don’t remember (See? It works) that decides what words can be used in texts, how women and Indians must be portrayed, what can be said about them, and so on. Such a group amounts to an unelected ministry of propaganda and, almost certainly, you have never heard of it.

Sixth, there is the illusion of journalism. The newspapers and networks encourage us to think of them as a vast web of hard-hitting, no-holds-barred, chips-where-they-may inquisitors of government: You can run, but you can’t hide. In fact federal malefactors don’t have to run or hide. The press isn’t really looking.

Most of press coverage is only apparent. Television isn’t journalism, but a service that translates into video stories found in the Washington Post and New York Times (really). Few newspapers have bureaus in Washington; the rest follow the lead of a small number of major outlets. These don’t really cover things either. On the BBC they translate stories from the Guardian & - well, the Guardian

Sunday, March 09, 2008

HILLARY "She is a monster, too – that is off the record – she is stooping to anything," Ms Power said

"We f***** up in Ohio," she admitted. "In Ohio, they are obsessed and Hillary is going to town on it, because she knows Ohio's the only place they can win.

"She is a monster, too – that is off the record – she is stooping to anything," Ms Power said, hastily trying to withdraw her remark.

Ms Power said of the Clinton campaign: "Here, it looks like desperation. I hope it looks like desperation there, too.

"You just look at her and think, 'Ergh'. But if you are poor and she is telling you some story about how Obama is going to take your job away, maybe it will be more effective. The amount of deceit she has put forward is really unattractive."
This is the Scotsman interview - full article here

The Scotsman have got some stick, mainly from US bloggers, for publishing this when Ms Power said, retroactively, "that's off the record. The Scotsman defended themselves:

Before the interview began in London, Ms Power was asked whether it could be taped. She agreed.

However, she tried to withdraw the comment on Hillary Clinton after she said it, claiming it was "off the record".

Mike Gilson, The Scotsman's editor, said: "We have no opinion on whether Ms Power was right to quit and perhaps politics should be able to retain people with talent who are prepared to learn by their mistakes, but we are certain it was right to publish.

"I do not know of a case when anyone has been able to withdraw on-the-record quotes after they have been made. The interview our political correspondent Gerri Peev conducted with Ms Power was clearly on an on-the-record basis

Seems to me, if this how it happened & if the Scotsman have a tape it seems clear, then the Scotsman are quite right. The nature of contracts is that they are not alterable retroactively at the behest of 1 party. If off the record is always a somewhat dodgy "get out of jail free" card the person using should make sure they have it in advance. They were quite right to publish.

An instance where "off the record" was used pretty successfully & very morally dubiously was when Madeleine Albright, US Secretary of State, in an off the record talk to the western media said that the US official briefings about the Rambouillet talks preceding the Yugoslav war were not being conducted to achieve agreement but to bring about war because "the Serbs need a little bombing"

Now, in the June 14 issue of the Nation, George Kenney, a former State Department Yugoslavia desk officer, reports:

An unimpeachable press source who regularly travels with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told this [writer] that, swearing reporters to deep-background confidentiality at the Rambouillet talks, a senior State Department official had bragged that the United States "deliberately set the bar higher than the Serbs could accept." The Serbs needed, according to the official, a little bombing to see reason.

The only breach came from the unimpeachable source, presumably some journalist in his cups so Mr Kenny, who was not a journalist & had definitely not accepted this off the recordness had not breached the rules.

However there is a much wider question of journalistic ethics. The western media may have felt they couldn't break Albright's confidence but by keeping to her instructions to pretend that the "negotiations" were something more than shadowplay they lied to their readers. If journalistic ethics are supposed to include reporting "all the news thats fit to print" then they had an obligation not to accept Albright's instructions to lie & at the very least, allowed the suggestion that the aggressor was the US & other NATO powers & the Yugoslavs & Milosevic at least more innocent, to be reported.

For example - The headline over a New York Times dispatch from Belgrade on March 24--the first day of the bombing--read "U.S. Negotiators Depart, Frustrated By Milosevic's Hard Line." - the paper certainly knew this was a deliberate lie. The NYT was deliberately lying to their readersto get their readers to support a genocidal war purely because their masters wanted it. If this is journalistic ethics the the term is an oxymoron.

Equally in the present instance, US reporting of a unique instance of a top member of an electoral team calling a candidate a monster has gone very lightly reported.

If it wasn't legitimately off the record then it was on it & there should be no pussyfooting as there clearly has been.. I don't know if this interview was only offered to the Scotsman but since it is not the newspaper of choice for reporting on the US election, not even the newspaper of choice, it seems quite possible that others rejected it. If so they have show the US media to be even more subservient than our own.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

British Blogs.