The People's Poet!

The People's Poet!
Right on, kids!

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

A Flood of Reassurance

The guys over at Media Lens do a fantastic job of highlighting journalistic complicity with the dogma pursued by centres of power. Their latest offering is, once more, a serious dissection of the UK's Fourth Estate:

A Flood Of Propaganda

The recent media coverage of severe floods in the UK demonstrates this assimilation and herd mentality of corporate media professionals about as well as any other topic today. No matter how extreme the weather, and how awful the hardships endured by ordinary people in the floods, the culpability of corporate-driven industrial 'civilisation', its inherent ecological unsustainability, and the urgent need for radical changes, must not be addressed in any meaningful way
A careful analysis by Carbon Brief of 3,064 flood-related newspapers stories, published between the start of December and 10 February, makes this clear. Their stark conclusion is that over 93 per cent of press stories did not mention climate change (never mind the role of humans in disturbing the delicate balance of climate).
Flood stories pie chart
Media Lens does not have the resources to monitor BBC News in its entirety across television, radio and the internet and come up with similarly precise statistics. In fact, perhaps only the BBC has the resources to monitor itself in this way, a form of self-regulation that has patently failed. But in our experience, BBC News coverage has been similarly woeful.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Banned From Kiwiblog

UPDATE: I just recieved a message from David Farrar. I haven't been banned from Kiwiblog, one of my comments went straight into an automated spam filter and later attempts to comment followed the first comment into the spam bin. I am a little embarrassed, but I am also relieved I can return to commenting in the threads on Kiwiblog.

Ignore the following:

( I appear to have been blocked from commenting on Kiwiblog. It seems odd as my last comments were quite banal in a meandering thread about Australian supermarkets banning New Zealand goods - The flip side of protectionism. David Farrar, the National party apparatchik behind Kiwiblog, likes to describe himself as a classical liberal. In his own words, someone who likes to be seen as having:
"... a belief in individual rights, limited government, private property, free markets, tolerance, and reason."
 There is, however, no point in saying you believe in individual rights, tolerance and reason if you ban someone from commenting in a forum with a political bent. Silencing those who disagree with your personal political philosophy is an act of cowardice and a tactic more readily adopted by a petty tyrant incapable of tolerating vigorous dissent.

 I am still reading Kiwiblog to see who else has been recently gagged. I haven't seen anything of late from Tom Jackson or Ross69, but this could be just them not commenting over the last couple of days. My pet theory is David Farrar is slowly snuffing out dissenting elements on his blog as this is an election year, an election year where the result could go either way.)

Bombing Cambodia

 The Khmer Rouge is celebrated in the West, the antics of Pol Pot and his mates are held up as shining examples of the only alternative to the unfolding disaster that is the Western social democratic experiment. The trouble with most Western narratives about Cambodia is they begin with the Khmer Rouge coming to power and they completely omit or gloss over the conditions which led to the ascent of Pol Pot and his cohorts.

 In an article for Yale's Walrus magazine, Bombs Over Cambodia, Taylor Owen and Ben Kiernan discuss the massive US bombing campaign which led directly to the rise of the Khmer Rouge and ultimately the Killing Fields.

" In the fall of 2000, twenty-five years after the end of the war in Indochina,
Bill Clinton became the first US president since Richard Nixon to visit
Vietnam. While media coverage of the trip was dominated by talk of
some two thousand US soldiers still classified as missing in action, a
small act of great historical importance went almost unnoticed. As a humanitarian
gesture, Clinton released extensive Air Force data on all American
bombings of Indochina between 1964 and 1975. Recorded using a
groundbreaking ibm-designed system, the database provided extensive
information on sorties conducted over Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia."
          The bombing was on an unprecedented scale:
"2,756,941 tons’ worth, dropped in 230,516 sorties on 113,716 sites. 
Just over 10 percent of this bombing was indiscriminate, with 3,580 of the sites listed as having “unknown” targets and another 8,238 sites having no target listed at all. The database also shows that the bombing began four years earlier than is widely believed — not under Nixon, but under Lyndon Johnson."  
To justify the extent of the bombing apologists claim the sparsely populated border between Vietnam and Cambodia was where the bombing was primarily targeted, but the data provided by the US Air Force demonstrates quite clearly the preponderance of bombs were dropped on the densely populated outskirts of Phnom Penh - at its closest point still well over 50 km from the border. The original plan to bomb Cambodia was accepted by the US congress with the assurance that any bombing would take place within 50 km of the Vietnamese border:
After expressing to Kissinger his frustration that the US Air Force was being “unimaginative,” Nixon demanded more bombing, deeper into the country: “They have got to go in there and I mean really go in . . . I want everything that can fly to go in there and crack the hell out of them. There is no limitation on mileage and there is no limitation on budget. Is that clear?” Nixon’s order ignored his administration’s prior assurances to Congress that U.S. planes would remain within 30 miles of the Vietnamese border, and would not bomb within a kilometre of any village, as well as military assessments that the air strikes were like “poking a beehive with a stick.”

In an appalling attempt to minimise the effect the bombing had on the rural the Cambodian population Donald Jameson argues:
"As a Khmer language political officer in the US Embassy in Phnom Penh I also interviewed refugees from areas in Cambodia that had been subjected to US bombing. I heard almost the exact same stories about the earth shaking and explosions lighting up the sky, but with one major difference from what is reported in this article. No one mentioned B-52s, for the simple reason that Cambodian peasants had no knowledge that B-52s even existed. Beyond that they flew too high to be seen from the ground. The refugees I interviewed had no idea what had caused the explosions and trembling of the earth that they experienced. I am afraid that this critical part of the story is a complete fabrication and, as such, it undermined the whole point of the story. Terrible and inexcusable as it was, the bombing had very little effect on the propensity of Cambodian peasants to join the Khmer Rouge insurgents. Anyone who has even a slight knowledge of Cambodian peasants knows that they have virtually no concept of politics and have no awareness of Communism or any other political ideology." 
The sentiment expressed by Jameson was demolished in the article he critiqued:
Years after the war ended, journalist Bruce Palling asked Chhit Do, a former Khmer Rouge officer, if his forces had used the bombing as anti-American propaganda. Chhit replied: "Every time after there had been bombing, they would take the people to see the craters, to see how big and deep the craters were, to see how the earth had been gouged out and scorched.... The ordinary people sometimes literally shit in their pants when the big bombs and shells came. Their minds just froze up and they would wander around mute for three or four days. Terrified and half crazy, the people were ready to believe what they were told. It was because of their dissatisfaction with the bombing that they kept on co-operating with the Khmer Rouge, joining up with the Khmer Rouge, sending their children off to go with them.... Sometimes the bombs fell and hit little children, and their fathers would be all for the Khmer Rouge."
There is no excusing the crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge, but the analysis carried out by Taylor Owen and Ben Kiernan of US Air Force supplied data establishes that without the massive bombing campaign launched against rural Cambodia there would not have been a large scale uprising.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

It's Getting Hot In Here!

 The planet is heating up and the folks over at RealClimate are doing a fantastic job of presenting the science involved in a clear and lucid fashion. There are too many sham sites designed to discredit the overwhelming scientific consensus confirming global warming is a clear and present danger to the survival of the human species. Global temperature 2013 is a excellent antidote to the toxic waste oozing from corporate PR factories.
The latest meme produced by the anti-science brigade states global warming stopped in 1998, they claim in the last 15 years there has been no higher global average temperature than that measured for the year 1998. Using graphs depicting data from the most sophisticated study of global temperatures ever undertaken we can see 1998 was not as hot as it gets, it has been hotter.

1998 was an El Niño year and during El Niño years the temperatures are generally higher than non-El Niño years. 2013 was not an El Niño year, yet during 2013 the average global temperature was higher than the record breaking temperatures recorded during the 1998 El Niño scorcher.