Do you ever get that gut feeling that something is going wrong? You don’t know what it is, but something’s telling you that, if you don’t act now, you’re going to regret it? That’s not your intuition talking: that’s your gut literally communicating to you that something’s not right, and our guess is it has something to do with what you ate. Who knew a staple diet of rice, wheat, cereals, soy, corn, and sugar would mess with you like that? Probably lots of people, but that hasn’t stopped #BigAgriculture from growing these crops more and more over the past decades, and finding new and exciting ways to make us think they’re good for us. Join Chell in his #CIA (Current Issue Analysis) on “The Ideology of Agribusiness” But first, check out our #GPS (Global Political Situation) on “Our One-Dimensional Media” in which we talk about #Mosul, #Aleppo, #Ceta, and the #BlackPantherParty.
//Part 1 audio (download):
Correction to the podcast: The original name of the Black Panther Party was the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense; the part about “African American revolutionary party” was a mix-up in the (poorly written) notes. The Encyclopedia Britannica described the Black Panther Party as an “African American revolutionary party”, but we would point out that the term “African American” was not widely used until after 1969, and really not until the late 1980s, and it his highly doubtful that the Black Panthers, who advocated black power, would have included the term in their name anyway.
Global Political Situation (GPS)
Analysis: “Our One-Dimensional Media”
In our Global Political Situation we have only discussed two topics, and yet they demonstrate very well a problem I would like to talk about. That problem is how one-dimensionally that news is presented to us. With our CETA example, we see how CETA as well as T-TIP and the Trans-Pacific Partnerschip TPP are described in the media as if they are a given. The default position is that these trade deals — forget what they say — are going to be ratified one way or another, and it’s more or less a question of when, not if. In the media, when there are criticisms or objections to the deals, they are glossed over as if these are simply the uninformed opinions of a radical minority. Of course the opposite is true. Across the map opposition to these deals is much larger than those who support them, and opponents to the deals bring in many different factors from workers’ and community rights to environmental and ethical concerns. All the mainstream media reported, however, was that he French-Speaking regional leaders in Belgium were worried about Canadian sausage and beef.
On the other side we see the news about warzones such as in Iraq and Syria — or, lest we forget, the war in Afghanistan that has been continuing since 2001. Of course there is massive opposition all over the world to these wars, but they are often dressed in terms that make them seem inevitable. If we look back just a few years ago, the mainstream media continually reported on the horrors of the Islamic State, Daesh. These horrors drowned out any opposition to the, what seemed at the time, inevitable conflicts. But this inevitability is just what was presented to us. It’s the inevitable result of these issues being presented to us one-dimensionally, without debate. According to Noam Chomsky, the is all part and parcel to the political game. He says, “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum….” But before we groan under the strain of another Noam Chomsky quotation, maybe we should think about how limiting debate has brought us into horrible wars, made us sign trade deals that hurt everyone but the rich, and, bringing this closer to home for people in the United States, land innocent people in jail for the colour of their skin.
This year is the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party. The Black Panther Party was founded in 1966 in Oakland, California, by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, and its original name was in fact Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. However long, this name was really fitting. Thee founders of the party realized that black people are under threat in the United States, and the best thing they can do is protect themselves from the racists that harassed and killed them every day: the police. But since its founding the mainstream media has painted the Black Panthers as a vicious, violent hate group, so that they are more or less seen in the minds of many Americans as the Black version of the KKK. And yet nothing could be further from the truth. The Black Panthers organized food drives to feed hungry children and homeless. The Black Panthers made issues of the black community known to other the rest of the United States. And most importantly, the Black Panthers gave hope to many people in the United States who had none. If we look at the year, 1966, this was the tail end of the Civil Rights movement — but the fact that we say that the movement ended when there were still so many problems in the racist system and society of the United States shows that those problems never ended. But that’s what the media presented to us, and our image of the Civil Rights movements nowadays is one of non-violent protests, of Dr. Martin Luther King. But ours is a system and society that imprisons black people and other people of colour for mere, petty possession of marijuana. When they protest then the media paints them as “thugs” rioting, and are told to be more like King. That’s why the Black Panthers formed, to escape the one-dimensionality of this system and the media.
#CETA #Brussels #Wallonia
Financial Times Headline: “Belgian regional leaders reach agreement to support Ceta trade pact”.
- CETA, which, stands for Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, “is a proposed free-trade agreement between Canada and the European Union” that if enacted “would eliminate 98% of the tariffs between Canada and the EU” (Wiki). In this way it is very similar to the Transantlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or T-TIP being pushed by the United States and European governments and their non-governmental capitalist allies.
- The mainstream media takes pains to stress that it was particularly the French-Speaking part of Beligium called Wallonia that blocked the deal, though the French and Dutch Brussels region as well as the German-speaking region both rejected the deal as well. CETA must be ratified unanimously by all 28 European Member states in order for it to pass. For that it must pass in Belgium, and for that in Wallonia. According to The Guardian Wallonia “raised concerns over surging pork and beef imports from Canada and an independent court system to settle disputes between states and foreign investors, which critics say may be used by multinationals to dictate public policy.” (Guardian)
- According to official propaganda by the European Commission, reminiscent of language by the current Rebublican Party Presidential Candidate, CETA will “receive the best treatment that Canada has ever offered to any trading partner, thus levelling the playing field on the Canadian market for EU companies.” (EC)
- Critics to CETA oppose the treaty on the grounds that it will be a boon only to businesses and multinational corporations at the expense of consumer rights.
- According to a comprehensive 2014 summary of the deal by Pia Eberhardt, Blair Redlin, Cecile Toubeau and in colllaboration with fourteen different policy, trade, technical and labour associations from around Europe and Canada, CETA “includes an investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism,” which “gives foreign corporations the ability to directly sue countries at private international tribunals for compensation over health, environmental, financial and other domestic safeguards that they believe undermine their rights.”
- I will continue the long quotations because it is important.
- “These investor-state lawsuits are decided by private commercial arbitrators who are paid for each case they hear, with a clear tendency to interpret the law in favour of investors. ISDS can prevent governments from acting in the public interest both directly when a corporation sues a state, and indirectly by discouraging legislation for fear of triggering a suit. Globally, investors have challenged laws that protect public health such as anti-smoking laws, bans on toxics and mining, requirements for environmental impact assessments, and regulations relating to hazardous waste, tax measures and fiscal policies.” (tni.org)
- Wednesday night, according to the Financial Times, Canada and Belgium came close to reaching a deal, but talks broke up shortly before midnight. Subsequently an EU-Canada summit, which had been scheduled months in advance, was cancelled, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau abandoned a trip to sign CETA at a ceremony in Brussels.
- According to the Financial Times the “Delay to accord with Canada raised questions about EU’s ability to handle complex deals” that “require the support of all the parliaments in the bloc”. The Financial Times says, futhermore, “There has been deep frustration among Ceta’s supporters at the failure of the Belgian regional leaders to approve a deal the government in Brussels and those of 27 other member states had agreed to sign.” Donald Tusk, president of the European Council has “warned that a collapse of Ceta would have “obvious consequences” (his quotes) for Europe’s global position.”
- In this Financial Times article there is not one mention of the contents of the deal, or the reasons why Belgian regional governments wanted to reject it. Scant coverage of these reasons and the deals content can be found elsewhere in the mainstream media. This is how propaganda machines such as the Financial Times uncritically tote the capitalist line that small pockets of democracy still present in European society today might get in the way of more important things, like profit.
#Mosul #Aleppo #Syria #Iraq
Al Jazeera Headline: “Mosul and Aleppo: A tale of two cities”
- As we discussed last week, and international coalition involving mostly Kurdish/Iraqi Peschmerga, Iraqi military, and other various local Kurdish/Alividin militia forces have joined an operation to take Mosul from Daesh, otherwise known as the Islamic State. Additionally there are more than 100 US military personnel embedded with the local militias. According to the BBC they are “advising commanders and helping direct coalition air strikes. Other US troops are providing fire support from nearby bases.” (BBC) According to Al Jazeera, however, these 100 US military personel are special operations forces operating with Iraqi units, and only a small number of the 4,800 US troops who are supporting the operation. (Al Jazeera)
- Furthermore “between 800 and 900 militants have been killed since the Mosul Offensive began … Up to 5,000 IS fighters were thought to be in Mosul before the assault began.”
- “Some 11,700 residents have fled since the offensive began and, according to the UN’s worst-case scenario, as many as 700,000 others could follow suit … Karl Schembri of the Norwegian Refugee Council … warned that there were currently only spaces in (refugee) camps for 60,000 people. The WHO is working on the assumption that 200,000 of them will require emergency health services, including more than 90,000 children needing vaccinations and 8,000 pregnant women.”
- Meanwhile Russia and the Syrian Regime is being criticized by the United States and Europe for the massive, indiscriminate bombings still killing innocent civilians in Aleppo, Syria. The UN Security Council has taken heat as well for not being able to stop the bombings. Over 275,000 people are trapped in eastern Aleppo and under bombardment by planes from Russia and the Syrian Regime. (Guardian)
- According to the New York Times Russian President Vladimir Putin nonetheless defends Russia’s support for the Syrian army’s siege eastern. In Sochi Putin said Wednesday there is choice between “keeping a terrorist nest there or crushing that nest while minimizing civilian casualties.” According to the Tiems “Moscow has denied striking civilians and has blamed Washington for failing to persuade the U.S.-backed rebels in the city to cut their ties with fighters from al-Qaida’s branch.” (NYTimes)
- According to the Real News Network, “The Obama administration is currently considering a proposal to send more arms to CIA backed anti Assad forces in Syria. According to the Washington Post, Obama has not made a decision yet and could leave it up to whoever wins the election in November. This of course raises questions of what would a President Hillary Clinton or President Donald Trump do in Syria? This has also been the topic at the presidential debates, recently.”
- Both sides are accusing each other of war crimes, and as we have already seen in the debates, Clinton and Trump are using both sides of the conflict in order to inflict political damage on one another.
Al Jazeera www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2016/10/mosul-aleppo-tale-cities-161024133215794.html