MEDIA LENS: Correcting for the distorted vision of the corporate media

February 5, 2008

Watching the corporate media report the ‘financial crisis’ is instructive. From the perspective of power, it is important that a steadying hand is applied to the tiller of news and commentary on the crisis, and the global economy itself.

And so columnist Martin Wolf took a ‘measured’ view in the Financial Times. There have been 100 “significant” banking crises in the past thirty years, he noted, making them almost routine. Authorities have had to intervene to “rescue” the US financial system from four crises over that period: the developing country debt and also the “savings and loan” crises of the 1980s; the commercial property crisis of the early 1990s; and now the subprime and credit crisis of 2007-08. As Wolf observed correctly of the banking sector: “No industry has a comparable talent for privatising gains and socialising losses.”

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MEDIA LENS: Correcting for the distorted vision of the corporate media

February 12, 2008

The death of the former Indonesian dictator, Suharto, on January 27 could have unleashed a flood of revelations detailing British and American support for one of the 20th century’s worst mass murderers. Instead, the media continued the cover up that has so far lasted more than forty years.

The 1965-6 massacres that accompanied Suharto’s rise to power claimed the lives of between 500,000 and 1 million people, mostly landless peasants. A 1977 Amnesty International report cited a tally of “many more than one million” deaths. ( In the words of a leaked CIA report at the time, the massacre was “one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century”. (Declassified US CIA Directorate of Intelligence research study, ‘Indonesia – 1965: The Coup That Backfired,’ 1968;

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Are we there yet Pa? By Joe Bageant

John Raymond Castillo, age 81. Sunrise, January 14, 1917. Sunset, February 11, 2008. He leaves 21 children, 140 grandchildren and 302 great-grandchildren… — Obituary announcement on Belize’s LOVE Radio station

”The population of Belize? Officially it’s about 300,000. But if you include all the kids, it’s probably three million.” — Greg, longtime expatriate American in Belize

HOPKINS VILLAGE, BELIZE: The din of squealing, laughing children is the background white noise of the Third World. In Belize, as in most of the Third World, 45% of all people are under the age of 16. About a dozen of that 45% swarm around me as I cut my toenails under the mango tree. A few are picking on the mangy, quarreling dogs but the majority are drawn in close, giving advise about how to cut gnarly, old man type toenails: “Saw dem off wid a file” seems to be the consensus.

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Can the Clintons Clinch it? Who cares By William Bowles

18 February, 2008

Observations from the Frontline

“I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country … corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.” — U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 21, 1864 (letter to Col. William F. Elkins) Ref: The Lincoln Encyclopedia, Archer H. Shaw (Macmillan, 1950, NY)

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There’s a kind of madness in the air By William Bowles

16 February, 2008

Note: sorry about the story being out of sequence but all attempts at posting it failed. Had to wait until my return.

February 2, 2008 — For the first time in a long time I’m taking a trip to NYC, my old ‘home town’. The airport (I use this term advisedly) I’m leaving from, Gatwick, just outside London, has been tranformed into one, gigantic shopping mall (with runways attached as an afterthought).

The security ‘check-in’ is OTT, now you even have to take your shoes off (shades of the ‘shoe bomber’). How long before we get stripped searched and every orifice in our battered bodies probed, I wonder? If it gets to that point, you’ll never see me in an airport ever again.

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Observations from the Front Line: The US State of Denial By William Bowles

16 February, 2008

Observations from the Front Line

Manhattan, 13 February, 2008 — For the first time, almost exactly thirty years ago, I sat where I’m sitting now, writing this, in the Broome Street Bar, corner of Broome and West Broadway. I was building the Cayman Gallery a couple of hundred yards away further up West Broadway for my good friend Jack Agueros, who later was to hire me as the designer/constructor of El Museo del Barrio in East Harlem.

In those days, SOHO (South of Houston Street) was full of empty sweat shops and industrial buildings that the owners were only too happy to rent out for whatever they could get. A couple of thousand square feet could be had for as little as $800 a month and on a ten-year lease.

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The Alien Amongst Us By William Bowles

8 February 2005

As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding; like the Roman, I seem to see “the River Tiber foaming with much blood.”
Enoch Powell, Wolverhampton, 20 April, 1968

‘The Sikh communities’ campaign to maintain customs inappropriate in Britain is much to be regretted. Working in Britain, particularly in the public services, they should be prepared to accept the terms and conditions of their employment. To claim special communal rights (or should one say rites?) leads to a dangerous fragmentation within society. This communalism is a canker; whether practised by one colour or another it is to be strongly condemned.’

David Blunkett? No, this was John Stonehouse, Labour member of parliament on 17 February of the same year as Powell’s infamous ‘rivers of blood’ speech and quoted by Powell in his own speech.

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