Aug 112021

If Trump said that, it must be wrong, right? Wrong. (Alas, when will we learn that even our enemies may occasionally have a point?)

Even the New York Times, even the Washington Post and even the Guardian and Le Monde need sponsors, sponsors with large purses, very large purses, people like Jeff Bezos. I bet Jeff Bezos is a Washington Post sponsor…

Hold on! The Washington Post is actually OWNED by Jeff Bezos, you know the guy behind Amazon (a company where employees are afraid they’ll get sacked if they have to go to the loo). Put it this way: Jeff Bezos would not be someone I would like to work for. I would not vote for him in any political context. I would not want my children to have anything to do with him or his offspring or his companies. You see, my theory is: Tell me what company you own and/or run, and I will tell you who you are.

So do I trust the Washington Post?

Jeff Bezos took a little ride into space the other day. Good for him. It must have been fun. I don’t like the way he makes his money (by treating employees like machines), but I don’t care how he spends his leisure time. What I do resent, however, is that according to Aljazeera’s Listening Post, the CBS Morning News Show devoted no less than 212 minutes to Jeff Bezos after his space jaunt, “almost as much” as the show had devoted to climate change over the entire past year. (So I certainly don’t trust CBS.)

Now, do I trust Aljazeera? Of course not. Aljazeera, too, is owned by somebody, the King of Qatar, I gather. Working conditions are no better in Qatar than at Amazon (possibly no worse either). My point being: Aljazeera and the Washington Post are both news outlets that pride themselves on delivering top-of-the-shelf, intrepid journalism. They are very important sources.

Sources of their calibre hate peddling outright falsehoods. Deceit, however, takes many forms, as we know, one of them being silence. What is not said is as rhetorically forceful as what is said. In my previous post I wrote of the Israeli Pegasus spy-ware. The Listening Post on Aljazeera, a program I warmly recommend because, as they say, “we don’t cover the news, we cover how the news is covered”, said not a word about how the spy-ware is used in so-called Democratic countries. Not a word.

But they did discuss the role played by the German Springer tabloid “Bild” in German politics. Very interesting, that. Very reminiscent, indeed, of the role played by the Washington Post and Fox News in US politics.

Meanwhile, I find myself wondering whether Jeff Bezos intends to try to run for president. (As you see, my distrust of the man is visceral.) There is something vaguely megalomaniacal about the man’s “visions” for us earthlings in space. Maybe I am reading the wrong text? Maybe the man is merely grieving, as I grieve, about the fate of humans all over the globe, about animals, and plants – species, no less, many of which have been eradicated in the course of just a decade. Is he mad enough to imagine that he will save humanity? Or is he merely planning his own and his friends and family’s escape to another planet?

Let’s forget about whatchamacallit Bezos! We are, after all, marching now, inexorably, towards something that hardly bears thinking about. Let us NOT forget, though, that beauty still exists and will always exist in one form or another no matter what happens to our planet and the species that inhabit it. Listen to Ravel’s Bolero, for instance, to the music’s sore-footed, determined march towards a somewhere “over the rainbow”, which inevitably, again and again, turns out to be way past the horizon for the refugees, say, or the elephants and zebras and squirrels – just a trickle of them at first , then more and more, and more…

Poor consolation, perhaps, but: There will always be music, always be glorious sunsets, always be stories told at dusk. And there will always be acts of generosity and solidarity and simple kindnesses that warm a frightened heart.

For years, even the most excellent sources of top-notch journalism have been evasive about climate change. When will they do their job? Or to put it differently: When will their sponsors allow them to do their job? Will they ever? Or will theys just rely on Jeff Bezos getting them away from a ruined planet to continue their business of getting rich on Mars?

What the rest of us need to know is how to respond to climate change. We don’t just need warnings. We need – let’s face it – a revolution, an inter-disciplinary, knowledged-based revolution.

I envisage the empowering of marine biologists, meteorologists, entomologists, agronomists, epidemiologists, anthropologists and of social scientists of every order, economists, psychologists, etc., etc. in every country in the world and from every economic echelon. Not just them, their students too. At the local level I envisage citizens being invited to discuss, in every municipality: HOW DO WE DEAL WITH THIS?

This would all of course entail a certain amount of chaos, so some rules of engagement would have to be established, and I certainly don’t know what rules, but I want to be asked. I want all of us to be asked! These are times of urgency and urgent measure are needed.

I leave you here. For now. THINK. THINK HARD.

Jun 282017

You may have heard – and then again, you may not have – that Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt have issued an ultimatum against Qatar, the 13 so-called “demands” the country must meet within ten days, “or else”.

If Qatar meets the demands, it will have ceased to be a state: It will merely be a vassal of Saudi Arabia, since what is demanded is in reality that the country surrenders its sovereignty.

It all started with an economic and diplomatic blockade launched in the wake of the US emperor’s visit to Saudi Arabia, and since the Saudis evidently feel confident about US support, goodness knows where it will end. For that very same reason – i.e. US support – nobody even mentions this issue around here. In Europe you don’t talk back to the US! Not in this country, not in any European country, least of all in the UK.

Now I was brought up with the BBC. I feel warmth and gratitude to the BBC. I know the names of many of their foreign correspondents. I download BBC podcasts and listen to them. But let us not delude ourselves: BBC is a British broadcasting company, and Britain is very cosy with the USA. As for the USA, well, need I remind you …? No, I won’t remind you, because that would require not a website but many tomes of modern history. However, take a look at Reporters without borders. If you click the map you will see that the USA ranks no higher than 43 out of 180 states as far as freedom of the press is concerned.

My country is also uncomfortably cosy with the USA, if not quite as cosy as the UK, but certainly cosy enough for its national broadcasting company to refrain from ever quoting Al Jazeera. Yet, I suspect that all good foreign correspondents – be they from my country or from the BBC – consult Al Jazeera more than almost any other outlet, at least about Middle East issues. Why? Because Al Jazeera is good, very good! And they are not bound by the US Patriot Act.

One of the 13 “demands” is that Qatar close down Al Jazeera. Now I don’t know whether you watch Al Jazeera, but what I do know is that whether you do or don’t, the news outlet will have considerable impact on what is revealed to you about world affairs. If it were not for Al Jazeera, the US and the UK could tell their side of the story, and nobody would know the difference.

I wish to quote another Guardian article of today (also quoted, by the way, by Al Jazeera):  Asked whether the closure of al-Jazeera was a reasonable demand, the UAE envoy said:

We do not claim to have press freedom. We do not promote the idea of press freedom. What we talk about is responsibility in speech.

I ask you, could any quote be clearer?