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A. Loewenstein Online Newsletter

  • Australia inspired by the best…Guantanamo Bay


    Posted: 13 Mar 2012


    Having spent extensive time in Australian detention centres across the country, this news, via the Sydney Morning Herald, is sadly predictable but shows the utter contempt by authorities towards a free press.

    Following America’s lead in Gitmo for media? What cretins. And what role, if any, has British multinational Serco played in these restrictions?

    The Immigration Department developed its new, highly restrictive policy on media visits to detention centres with reference to US military arrangements governing media access to the Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention centre.

    Documents released under freedom of information show the ”deed of agreement” that Immigration insists journalists and media organisations visiting detention centres must sign was ”informed by … the current US Department of Defence media access policy for its detention facility at Guantanamo Bay”.

    The department also justified extremely tight media control and censorship to the Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, as ”the right balance” in circumstances that included ”the current climate associated with media ethics, media ‘phone hacking’ [in Britain]”.

    In an email to a reporter who was consulted on the policy, Immigration’s national communications manager, Sandi Logan, said, ”I reckon while the phone hacking scandal is all the rage, what else would the media expect of us? Trust you say? Gimme a break, sorry!”

    The Greens’ immigration spokeswoman, Sarah Hanson-Young, said yesterday ”the idea that [media access] guidelines have, even in part, been inspired by Guantanamo Bay is absolutely appalling – it really shows the attitude of Immigration and [the] government – they have forgotten that they are dealing with asylum seekers, not criminals or terrorists.”

    The policy requires that journalists visiting detention centres must be escorted at all times by Immigration officers. There is a bar on any ”substantive communication” with detainees, a right for officials to censor recordings, and the right for Immigration to immediately end any visit.

    The chief executives of the largest media organisations, including Fairfax Media’s Greg Hywood, News Ltd’s Kim Williams and the heads of all TV broadcast networks last month condemned the agreement as ”unacceptable censorship”.

    Documents released to the Herald under FOI show the agreement was drafted with reference to past departmental policy and present practice at NSW, Victorian and Queensland prisons.


    In his submission, Mr Logan justified tight restrictions on media access to safeguard the privacy of detainees, prevent publicity that could affect refugee claims and to manage ”risks that during any media visits detainee clients would use the media’s presence as an opportunity to protest their continuing detention”.

    Mr Logan privately consulted 12 journalists. More responses were negative than positive, with the proposed arrangements being described as ”incredibly restrictive”, ”draconian and heavy-handed”, ”a shocker” and ”a lawyer’s picnic.” However Immigration made no further submission to Mr Bowen who endorsed new arrangements without amendment on October 6.

    Since October, the ABC, SBS, Channels Seven, Nine and Ten, The Australian and The Daily Telegraph have signed the deed of agreement for visits variously to detention facilities at Villawood, Maribyrnong, Inverbrackie and Wickham Point.

    In their letter to Mr Bowen last month, media CEOs argued the fact media organisations have signed the deed ”should not be taken as agreement to its terms”.

    Corporate media admit; we’re far too close to power


    Posted: 13 Mar 2012


    This speaks for itself (via the Guardian):

    Politicians and journalists have had an unhealthily close relationship to one another, according to Chris Blackhurst, editor of The Independent

    He told a Bath literature festival audience that MPs and reporters formed “a giant club” at Westminster.

    Successive governments had courted newspaper proprietors, said Blackhurst, and told of his time at the Daily Express where he was deputy editor to Rosie Boycott.

    They were appointed by Lord Hollick, a Labour peer, and the paper was moved away from its traditional Conservative support.

    Blackhurst said: “We were trying to turn the paper into a more liberal and upmarket paper but management lost its nerve. They sold the paper toRichard Desmond

    “Within a fortnight, the heavy bulk of the Labour cabinet was fawning over Desmond. We were really shocked by it.”

    Two other panellists, Labour MP Tristram Hunt and Lib-Dem MP Don Foster, also referred to the political-media nexus.

    Hunt said a “symbiotic relationship between the press and politics” had always existed.

    But Foster said the relationship between Westminster and the media should be regulated. “Politicians are trying to manipulate the media and the media is trying to sell papers… It’s got to change.”

    A fourth panelist, the former Guardian staffer Malcolm Dean, pointed out that those “newspapers with the lowest level of trust have the highest circulation and papers with the highest level of trust have the lowest circulation”.

    The sorry state of Israeli propaganda


    Posted: 13 Mar 2012


    Here’s some free advice to the Zionist state; placing Shimon Peres, the father of the colonies and defender of anti-democratic moves inside Israel, in a woeful video talking about “peace” will be about as effective as Assad in Syria riffing about non-violent resistance:


    Memo to media; US massacre in Afghanistan is about Afghans not US military


    Posted: 12 Mar 2012


    Another tragedy in Afghanistan. And what do most of the corporate media focus on? How will this affect NATO strategy? What will US troops do? Will Obama’s supposed counter-insurgency tactics be derailed?

    What about wondering about the Afghans themselves?

    Here’s FAIR:

    The news that a U.S. Army sergeant killed 16 civilians, most of them children, in southern Afghanistan early Sunday morning was treated by many media outlets primarily as a PR challenge for continued war and occupation of that country.

    “Afghanistan, once the must-fight war for America, is becoming a public relations headache for the nation’s leaders, especially for President Barack Obama,” explained an Associated Press analysis piece (3/12/12). Reuters(3/12/12) called it “the latest American public relations disaster in Afghanistan.”

    On the NBC Today show (3/11/12) the question was posed this way: “Could this reignite a new anti-American backlash in the unstable region?” The answer: “This is not going to bode well for the U.S. and NATO here in Afghanistan,” explained reporter Atia Abawi. “Obviously people here very fearful as to what’s going to happen next, what protests will come about throughout different parts of Afghanistan, and how the Taliban are going to use this to their advantage.” “People,” as used here, would not seem to include Afghans, who are presumably less frightened by protests against a massacre of children than they are by the massacre itself.

    The front-page headline at USA Today (3/12/12) read, “Killings Threaten Afghan Mission.” The story warned that the allegations “threaten to test U.S. strategy to end the conflict.” In the New York Times (3/12/12), the massacre was seen as “igniting fears of a new wave of anti-American hostility.” The paper went on to portray occupation forces as victims:

    “The possibility of a violent reaction to the killings added to a feeling of siege here among Western personnel. Officials described growing concern over a cascade of missteps and offenses that has cast doubt on the ability of NATO personnel to carry out their mission and has left troops and trainers increasingly vulnerable to violence by Afghans seeking revenge.”

    The fact that the massacres occurred two days after a NATO helicopter strike killed four civilians was “adding to the sense of concern.”

    This morning’s ABC Radio AM fit perfectly into the mould, playing quotes from Western leaders and White House flaks:

    TONY EASTLEY: There are fears that the shooting rampage by a lone US soldier may derail the Afghan peace process and undo months if not years of work.

    The Afghan army is on a higher alert after the American soldier killed 16 Afghan civilians and burnt their bodies. Nine of the dead were children.

    The Afghan parliament has passed a resolution demanding the soldier face a public trial in Afghanistan, and already talks on a new strategic partnership between Kabul and Washington look like being put on ice.

    Emily Bourke reports.

    EMILY BOURKE: The deaths of 16 Afghan civilians at the hands of a rogue US soldier continues to outrage and worry world leaders, especially as the Taliban is now promising to strike back. 

    The British prime minister David Cameron. 

    DAVID CAMERON: Really is an absolutely appalling thing that has taken place and of course it will have its impact, but we must do everything we can to make sure that it doesn’t in any way derail the very good work that American and British and other ISAF forces are doing in Afghanistan. 

    And it is worth remembering why we’re in Afghanistan – we’re there to train up the Afghan army and the police so that that country is able to look after its own security 

    EMILY BOURKE: The Taliban has described the Americans as terrorists and barbarians, but White House spokesman Jay Carney says the US led mission will continue. 

    JAY CARNEY: I’m sure there will be discussions ongoing between US military leaders as well as civilian leaders in Afghanistan and the Afghan government in the wake of this incident, but our strategic objectives have not changed and they will not change. 

    Yes, we Kony?


    Posted: 12 Mar 2012

    Australia inspired by the best…Guantanamo Bay

  • Corporate media admit; we’re far too close to power
  • The sorry state of Israeli propaganda
  • Memo to media; US massacre in Afghanistan is about Afghans not US military
  • Yes, we Kony?

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