German viewers criticise warmongering TV coverage on Ukraine


This video says about itself:

Ukrainians are burning their military draft cards [English subtitles]

27 July 2014

Ukrainians are burning their military writs, refusing to leave their sons to the Ministry of Defense.

By Sybille Fuchs in Germany:

German committee criticises television news coverage of Ukraine

26 September 2014

The supervisory committee of Germany’s ARD public television station has criticised the station’s coverage of developments in Ukraine. The station’s coverage had “given the impression of bias” and appeared to be directed against “Russia and Russian standpoints”, the committee declares in the minutes of its meeting of June 24, which has been published in the online magazine Telepolis.

The purpose of the nine-member committee is to represent the interests of viewers, and it has an advisory function. It is elected by the broadcasting councils of German states and consists of representatives from various associations, political parties, churches and other groups. Its current chairman is the lawyer and banker Dr. Paul Siebertz from Bavarian Radio. Also on the committee are the Catholic priest and journalist Stefan Wahl, a teacher, a natural health practitioner, a pastoral consultant and a representative of the federation of public officials.

Prior to meeting, the committee had analyzed several ARD reports on the crisis in Ukraine—a step that is regarded as unusual. The measure was taken following complaints from viewers about biased reporting. The members of the panel unanimously agreed that such criticisms were entirely justified.

The Advisory Council lists 10 points in which the reporting of the ARD was inadequate.

It criticises the absence of any fundamental analysis of the negotiations between the European Union (EU) and Ukraine on the Association Agreement. It criticises the fact that “NATO’s political and strategic intentions” with regard to its policy of eastern enlargement were not raised. Nor was any critical analysis made of the legitimacy of the “so-called Maidan council”. The same applies to the “role of the radical nationalist forces, particularly Svoboda” and their activities during the failure “of the agreement to resolve the crisis in Ukraine of 21 February”.

The “constitutional and democratic issues” involved in the removal of President Yanukovych and the role of right-wing forces in his overthrow were also not adequately investigated by the ARD. In addition, there was no critical analysis of the role of politicians such as Julia Tymoshenko and Vitali Klitschko.

The council also challenged the station’s coverage of the secession of Crimea from Ukraine. There was no proper investigation made of the procedure and legality of the Crimean referendum, its international legal status, the significance of popular participation in the vote, and the role of historical issues and the ethnic groups in Crimea in the secession process.

The criticisms raised by the committee are devastating, and confirm the assessment of the World Socialist Web Site, which wrote that news reportage on German public television had “degenerated into nightly propaganda spots”. Rather than informing the public, the reports promoted the policy of the government, which has played a leading role in the conflict in Ukraine.

Whatever does not fit into the framework of official propaganda is eliminated: the content of the Association Agreement; the subordination of Ukraine to the dictates of the EU and the International Monetary Fund; the role of fascists in the Maidan protests; the toppling of Yanukovych in a right-wing coup; and the massive rejection of the new rulers in Kiev by the Russian-speaking population in the east of the country.

The council cautiously refers to a “more or less subliminal transfer of opinion by moderators and reporters” and the selective choice of reports, “which even in the synopsis of all ten Ukraine hotspots fail to give a fairly comprehensive picture of the crisis itself.” In plain English, this means manipulation and censorship.

Television director Tom Buhrow is reported to have reacted in an “extremely agitated and in part irreverent” manner to the criticism raised by the Advisory Board. From ARD sources Telepolis learned that both Buhrow and television director Jörg Schönborn aggressively insisted on an editorial line to “defend Western standpoints”. In other words, the one-sided reporting was ordered from the highest levels. From 2002 to 2006, Buhrow was head of the ARD studios in Washington.

Nothing is likely to change after the report. The station’s deputy programme director, Thomas Baumann, vigourously rejected the council’s charge of biased reporting and praised the work of the station’s “local correspondents”.

The reporting of the country’s second main public station, the ZDF, is no better than that of the ARD. Web sites have compiled the numerous complaints from viewers detailing inaccurate and false reporting, including deliberate omissions of important information, selective cuts to interviews and conflicting standpoints in the same programme. Viewers have also criticised the lack of any comment on pictures of pro-Ukrainian forces sporting Nazi symbols such as swastikas, as well as and the trivialisation of the fascist Azov battalion, which is fighting on behalf of the Kiev government.

These reports make clear Germany’s public broadcasters are being deliberately used to bombard the population with misinformation and deception about a war it overwhelmingly rejects.

Following the withdrawal of the Ukrainian army from areas of eastern Ukraine, there have been a number of reports of mass graves in which right-wing Ukrainian militias buried the bodies of their opponents: here.

British peace movement against Iraq war re-start


This video from Britain says about itself:

Media ‘doing best to agitate the public’ – Sami Ramadani on UK war prospects against Islamic State

6 September 2014

Sami Ramadani, senior lecturer in Sociology at London Metropolitan University, talks to Going Underground host Afshin Rattansi about the West dealing with the Islamic State. He says that the rise of the Islamic State has given carte blanche to NATO to intervene again in Iraq and Syria. The British media are using the beheadings to agitate the British public in an attempt to stir up support for war. He feels the UK is drifting back to the US line after diverting from it with the vote against war with Syria last year, with the establishment worrying that it could affect British power and prestige on the world stage. And the West may have helped create IS – he says that in 2006 they turned a blind eye to the growth of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the precursor to IS, deeming them less of a threat than other groups.

By Paddy McGuffin in Britain:

CAMERON BANGS A FAMILIAR WAR DRUM

Friday 26th September 2014

Anti-war MPs and activists mobilise ahead of rushed Commons vote on Isis

BRITISH involvement in the bombing of Islamic State (Isis) militants in Iraq would be “dangerous and counter-productive,” Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn warned yesterday ahead of a crucial Commons vote.

Prime Minister David Cameron has recalled Parliament for today’s crunch decision over whether to commit British forces to the conflict — with warplanes reportedly already poised to launch airstrikes.

He told the United Nations this week that Britain was ready to play its part in confronting “an evil against which the whole world must unite.”

Mr Cameron claimed that Britain must not be so “frozen with fear” of repeating the mistakes of the disastrous 2003-9 Iraq war.

Mr Corbyn however rejected the PM’s aggressive stance. He said: “I think we should think this through very carefully.

“If we start dropping bombs and it doesn’t work, what then? If the Iraqi army can’t stop Isis, what then?

“Where does it end?”

He pointed out that previous interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya had not been successful in the long term and had “created an atmosphere where an awful lot of young people feel that the West is totally against them and they are prepared to take up arms against the West.”

“I suspect this intervention won’t make that a lesser proposition, it will make it a stronger proposition.”

Mr Corbyn’s caution was echoed by hundreds of anti-war campaigners who gathered outside Westminster last night in protest at the planned intervention.

In a statement presented to Downing Street, they said: “While we all reject the politics and methods of Isis, we have to recognise that it is in part a product of the last disastrous intervention, which helped foster sectarianism and regional division.

“It has also been funded and aided by some of the West’s allies, especially Saudi Arabia.”

Mr Cameron said he was “confident” of avoiding an embarrassing repeat of last year’s historic defeat over plans to bomb Syria.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Labour leader Ed Miliband have both confirmed that they would be backing the PM’s call for military action.

CND general secretary Kate Hudson told the Star: “Once again we’re hearing the deafening drumbeats of war.

“Once again there is no legal basis for UK bombing in the Middle East. Once again the government is making it up as it goes along.”

She pointed out that, while the UN has adopted a binding resolution compelling states to prevent their nationals joining jihadists in Iraq and Syria, it has not authorised military attacks.

“The grim atrocities carried out by Islamic State have rightly shocked and repulsed the world. But heaping further atrocities onto Iraq through the murder of civilians, which will inevitably occur through airstrikes, cannot be our answer,” Ms Hudson said.

“What is needed now is urgent humanitarian assistance, political pressure and working with allies in the region to halt the spread of this murderous group: not an illegal bombing campaign which will kill civilians and inflame the situation.”

US entry into World War I, exhibition


This video says about itself:

28 January 2014

Helen Kay, a member of the Scottish branch of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom discusses the organisation’s centenary for the January edition of The World Today.

By Fred Mazelis in the USA:

New York Public Library exhibition on US entry into World War I

25 September 2014

While this summer marked the 100th anniversary of the eruption of the First World War, the entry of the United States into the imperialist conflict did not take place until almost three years later, in April 1917.

Perhaps in anticipation of the 2017 date, a small but historically interesting exhibition is on view at the main branch of the New York Public Library in Manhattan.

The title of the show explains its focus: “Over Here: WWI and the Fight for the American Mind.” The emphasis is on the efforts carried out between August 1914 and April 1917 to win political support for United States entry on the side of the Allied forces against Germany, and also the official efforts, once war had been declared, to mobilize public opinion and suppress anti-war opposition.

Using the voluminous collections of the New York Public Library, among the most extensive in the world, the exhibition “explores the manner in which public relations, propaganda and mass media in its many forms were used to shape and control public opinion about the war,” as the show’s brochure explains.

Various publications, books and pamphlets of the period are displayed, along with photos, propaganda posters, short films, lithographs and even recorded songs, to show some of the opposing points of view on the war during the 1914-1918 period and the techniques used, especially by the government, to mold public opinion. As with other commemorative articles and new histories of WWI that have been published, it is clear that these topics are all too appropriate a century later, amidst the threat of global war between nuclear powers and the increasing attempts by Western imperialism to whip up chauvinism and support for war preparations.

While President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed a policy of neutrality in the global slaughter that began in the summer of 1914, sections of the ruling class almost immediately began beating the drums for war. Among the loudest voices for “preparedness” was none other than ex-President Theodore Roosevelt.

This most jingoistic American chief executive had attracted national and international attention with his exploits during the Spanish-American War of 1898. This did not prevent his selection as the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906, in which capacity he was a forerunner to Barack Obama a little more than a century later.

'Give Your Vacation to Your Country,' 1916

Roosevelt had been elected vice-president in 1900 and less than a year after that became president upon the assassination of William McKinley. The exhibit shows a copy of TR’s 1916 book, “Fear God and Take Your Own Part,” which played a significant role in the buildup of war fever.

There are other, even more inflammatory examples of pro-war propaganda displayed, such as a book of “alternate history” that imagined the invasion of the United States and its defeat at the hands of Germany. Another book contained the image of the 47-story Singer Building, the best-known skyscraper of the day, being toppled by enemy attack.

New media, like motion pictures and recordings, were also utilized. The exhibit provides examples, such as a recording of Irving Berlin’s “What Kind of an American Are You?,” a provocative question aimed at millions of immigrants, especially from southern and eastern Europe, who were told they had a special obligation to display their patriotism, much as Muslims are today. This was only one of many such popular songs, by Berlin, George M. Cohan and others.

A short film cartoon deals with the sinking of the British liner Lusitania in 1915, which was used to whip up anti-German sentiment. Another short film, entitled “Colored Man is No Slacker,” was used to build support for war aims among the African-American population denied the most basic rights at home. Another example is “Hate the Hun,” a film by the young director Raoul Walsh. Walsh (High Sierra, They Drive By Night), who lived another six decades and became an important figure in the history of American film, later called this early movie “the rottenest picture ever.”

Propaganda posters were also widely employed. According to the exhibit, there were more than 20 million copies of about 2,500 different poster designs used by the time the war ended in November 1918. A few of the best-known posters are displayed in the show.

'Must children die and mothers plead in vain? Buy more Liberty Bonds,' 1918

Amid this detailed memorabilia, one thing becomes clear almost from the beginning of the exhibition. In its focus on “the fight for the American mind,” it leaves out two crucial issues: first, the causes of the war and of the drive for US entry into the conflict; and second, the nature of mass opposition to the war that found expression in this country both before and after the US joined the fighting in 1917.

There is some mention of anti-war opinion, but it is brief and vague. “As anti-German sentiment within the United States grew,” the exhibit explains, “… hawkish, often nationalistic voices were, in turn, answered by those belonging to a diverse group of individuals, among them pacifists, suffragists, socialists, anarchists, religious figures, and German sympathizers, who believed that it was in America’s best interest to stay out of the war.”

The example chosen to illustrate the supposed anti-war coalition is a book by Jane Addams, the famed social worker, sociologist and pacifist. Addams’s Patriotism and Pacifism During War Time is displayed alongside the abovementioned clarion call to war by Roosevelt.

There is not a single mention of Eugene Debs, either in this section or elsewhere in the exhibition. Debs was the Socialist Party (SP) candidate for US President in both 1912 and 1920, and in the latter instance, Debs ran while in federal prison for opposing the war. Each time he won close to 1 million votes, which represented 6 percent of the total in 1912.

Of course, Debs did not begin from the standpoint of “America’s best interest,” but rather from the interests of the working class all over the world. He made this eloquently clear in his trial on sedition charges in 1918, as we shall see.

'Joan of Arc Saved France,' 1918

But the library exhibition does not refer to the working class or the class struggle. The omission includes the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), the revolutionary syndicalist organization founded in 1905 that played such an important role in labor battles in the decade leading up the war, especially in the West, but also in such struggles as the Lawrence textile strike of 1912.

Exhibition curator Michael Inman and his team may well have thought their focus on war propaganda would suffice to indicate a critical attitude. They refer, for example, to xenophobia. There is a brief mention of Emma Goldman, and a section of the exhibit discusses the attack on The Masses, the socialist monthly led by Max Eastman and John Reed. The magazine ceased publication in November 1917, several months after the US postmaster general, using the allegation that the publication was obstructing the draft, rescinded its mailing privileges.

The general impression from all of this, however, is that opposition to the war was confined to the fringes of society, and perhaps to sections of the intelligentsia. The important issues of civil liberties are mentioned, but the class issues underlying the repression of 1917-1918 are ignored.

In the 1914-1917 period, as throughout the past century, the drive toward militarism and war was bound up with both the global interests of American capitalism and the class struggle at home. A discussion of US entry onto the world stage as an imperialist power that does not discuss the class struggle, and specifically the role of the IWW and the SP, is deeply flawed, to put it mildly.

In fact, the war remained unpopular among broad layers of the population, and not just those with pro-German sympathies. The lack of enthusiasm was demonstrated in the total of only 73,000 volunteers in the first six weeks after the declaration of war in April 1917, leading to the imposition of conscription. Both the IWW and the Socialist Party opposed the war, with the SP in emergency convention calling it “a crime against the people of the United States.”

The IWW, despite its own limitations and its numerous reverses in the period after the Lawrence strike of 1912, saw a significant revival in 1917, in the months before and after the US declaration of war. It participated actively in the struggle of the Arizona copper miners earlier in the year and led the lumber workers’ strike in the Pacific Northwest.

These struggles were viciously attacked, with the federal army used as strikebreakers against the lumber workers. This was followed, in September of that year, by simultaneous raids on IWW offices. Some 165 IWW leaders were arrested, 101 eventually facing trial and conviction for violating the just-enacted Espionage Act (the same legislation under which Bradley Manning was convicted and under which Edward Snowden has been charged), with its prohibitions against “disloyalty” and “insubordination.” IWW leader Big Bill Haywood was sentenced to a 20-year jail term, later jumping bail and seeking refuge in the Soviet Union.

Many of the Socialist Party leaders, along with figures like Jack London and Clarence Darrow, supported the war, but thousands of SP members, including large numbers of immigrant workers, remained opposed. Support for SP candidates grew rapidly in the period between 1915 and 1917, with Morris Hillquit winning 22 percent of the vote for mayor of New York, the socialist vote increasing from 3.6 to 34.7 percent in Chicago, and 10 socialist candidates elected to the New York State legislature.

After the Russian Revolution in November 1917, ruling class fears increased further. The Espionage Act was used to arrest and convict hundreds of opponents of the war, most famously Debs himself.

The Socialist leader was arrested in June 1918 after he visited three Socialists in prison for opposing the draft and addressed a crowd outside. “Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder…. And that is war in a nutshell,” he told the crowd. “The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles.”

Addressing the court after being found guilty, Debs famously declared, “Your honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, while there is a criminal element, I am of it, while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”

Debs was sentenced to a 10-year term and served about 32 months before being released by President Warren Harding in 1921.

To sum up, “Over Here,” despite containing much useful and interesting material, leaves the visitor with the false impression that the drive toward war is virtually unstoppable. Official propaganda and official repression is depicted, while the scale of popular opposition is minimized and the voices of those who opposed the war on the basis of socialist internationalism are virtually ignored. This is a serious weakness indeed.

Ferguson, Missouri police crackdown again


This video from the USA is called Ferguson Missouri Police Shooting Witnesses: Michael Brown‘s hands were up.

By Eric London in the USA:

Police crack down on renewed protests in Ferguson, Missouri

25 September 2014

Dozens of police officers from multiple departments across Missouri descended on the city of Ferguson last night in a coordinated attack on demonstrators. Video of the crackdown shows police dragging demonstrators on the asphalt to jail-bound police vehicles. At least five arrests were made in the most recent police attack in the beleaguered suburb.

The renewal of protests was literally caused by a spark, laying bare the fragile state of social relations in the United States. A street memorial for Michael Brown—the victim of last month’s police murder—caught fire Tuesday morning, prompting widespread outrage. Residents said that the police delayed a firefighter team from responding so that the neighborhood could watch the memorial burn.

Police claim the evening crackdown that injured several protesters was justified by allegations that a handful of people broke into a nearby beauty store as the demonstrations were taking place.

Speaking at a Wednesday morning press conference, Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson said “there were several individuals who attempted to take the cash register” from the building.

Johnson said he gave the green light for the assault not because the police were under attack, but because demonstrators were making threatening remarks toward officers and were invading officers’ “personal space.”

“As an African American man who has been stopped and searched by police in situations where such actions are not warranted,” [Attorney General Eric] Holder said, “I also carry with me an understanding of the mistrust that some citizens harbor toward police.”

The nation’s head prosecutor delivered these remarks the day after the Department of Justice announced that the media would be banned from attending town hall meetings in Ferguson.

Justice Department spokeswoman Dena Iverson said that the decision was justified by a statutory mandate issued under Title X of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Section 2000g of Title X established a “Community Relations Service” (CRS) under the Department of Justice, the express purpose of which is to “provide conciliation assistance” during periods of social strife.

According to the statute, “[t]he Service may offer its services in cases of such disputes, disagreements, or difficulties whenever, in its judgment, peaceful relations among the citizens of the community involved are threatened thereby” and in order to prevent events “which affect or may affect interstate commerce.”

The activities of this “service” take place in total secrecy. The statute reads: “The activities of all officers and employees of the Service in providing conciliation assistance shall be conducted in confidence and without publicity,” and “[a]ny officer or other employee of the Service, who shall make public in any manner whatever any information in violation of this subsection, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and liable for up to a year’s imprisonment.”

By placing town hall meetings under the auspices of the Community Relations Service, the Obama administration is carrying out a violation of the First Amendment to the US Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

The decision to ban the press from meetings was made less than two weeks after the last public city council meeting erupted in chaos as residents voiced their opposition to the police and local government, shouting “What about Michael Brown?” and “Shut it down!”

The move is further proof that the ruling class is afraid that anger over the shooting of Michael Brown might develop into a broader opposition to the militarization of American society on a national scale. The government cannot afford to have the images of angry residents at town hall meetings shown on national television.

It should be noted that the same administration that is carrying out an attack on democratic rights in Ferguson is waging permanent war abroad.

Police banned from wearing bracelets supporting cop who shot unarmed black teen Michael Brown: here.