29 July 2006

Where is British media coverage of the Lebanese oil spill?

Why is there no coverage in any British media of the environmental disaster in Lebanon?

According to Reuters' Lin Noueihed:

"BEIRUT, July 27 (Reuters) - Along Lebanon's sandy beaches and rocky headlands runs a belt of black sludge, 10,000 to 30,000 tonnes of oil that spilled into the Mediterranean Sea after Israel bombed a power plant.

Lebanon's Environment Ministry says the oil flooded into the sea when Israeli jets hit storage tanks at the Jiyyeh plant south of Beirut on July 13 and 15, creating an ecological crisis that Lebanon's government has neither the money nor the expertise to deal with.

"We have never seen a spill like this in the history of Lebanon. It is a major catastrophe," Environment Minister Yacoub al-Sarraf told Reuters.."

The Australian press, it appears, are not so backward in coming forward with this news. The Daily Telegraph printed the story, but in the UK? Nothing. Yet more blatant censorship of 'uncomfortable' news.

Reuters have left out some very relevant information (thanks to bloggingbeirut.com):

1. The storage tanks were civilian not military.
2. The massive oil spill has spread to over 40% of the Lebanese coast, south of Beirut (Damour, Jiyyeh, Rmeileh, Saida, Sour).
3. No ships have been sunk on or around the lebanese coast.- this was not an accident or the result of an exchange of fire in hostile territory.- this was a deliberate and precise targeting of the oil tanks and powerplants along the lebanese coast by Israeli warplanes.

See the video here. More photos at Beirut Update blog here.

Considering this disaster may impact all the Eastern Mediterranean basin, including Turkey, Syria, Cyprus, Greece, and others including Israel itself, its a little strange there is no mention in the MSM.

This is the e-mail I sent the BBC:

Sent: viernes, 28 de julio de 2006 14:06
To: Helen Boaden BBC
Cc: Media Lens; Paul Reynolds; Jim Muir
Subject: Israel hits more Lebanon targets
Importance: High


I have read the BBC online report and I have 2 questions:

1. With its box: "LEBANON TWO WEEKS ON" where we are given a (very) brief summary of damage done:
Three airports bombed
62 bridges destroyed
Three dams and ports hit
5,000 homes damaged

There is also a link to anther online page "Lebanon damage report" with just a little more information. However, nowhere can I see anything about the environmental disaster caused by the Israeli bombardment of a power plant which has released, according to Reuters, an estimated 10,000-30,000 tons of oil into the Mediterranean:
"A man pours sludge skimmed from the sea into a plastic container in Beirut July 27, 2006. Along Lebanon's sandy beaches and rocky headlands runs a belt of black sludge, 10,000 to 30,000 tonnes of oil that spilled into the Mediterranean after Israel bombed a power plant"
Why is that?

2. As for the paragraph "At talks in Rome on Wednesday, the US, UK and regional powers called for a ceasefire with "utmost urgency", but stopped short of calling for an immediate truce.",

This is a classic case of BBC bias and is not a true reflection of what happened in Rome. In fact, other reports tell us that all the parties, except the US and the UK demanded an immediate ceasefire. This was rejected by the US/UK axis, which insisted on a watered-down version to give time to the Israeli Occupation Forces to continue their mass slaughter.

We only have to leave the BBC website to find the truth:

"Limited cast list spells doom for peace process" Ewen MacAskill, diplomatic editor Wednesday July 26, 2006 Guardian Unlimited

"The international conference in Rome to draw up a Lebanon peace package ended, as expected, in failure. The US succeeded in blocking calls from almost all the other participants, apart from Britain, for an immediate ceasefire. Incredibly, with warring raging for two weeks, the US has again managed to gain yet more time for Israel by delaying the diplomatic process. The conference decided that discussions should now shift to the UN security council, but that could take days or even until next week. The longer the diplomatic process is stalled, the longer Israel has to keep up its military offensive. The conference lasted four hours, an hour-and-a-half longer than expected. Those 90 minutes were taken up with a slanging match, with Condi Rice, the US secretary of state, in one corner with Margaret Beckett and everyone else in the other, over the issue of an immediate ceasefire."

Bearing in mind what Ewen MacAskill reports, I wonder if the BBC author could comment as to why he worded that sentence so specifically? This appears to be a purposeful attempt to mislead the reader.

Yours Sincerely

Reuters images:

Update 09 August 2006: The BBC eventually had to report on the oil spill and did so:

Last Updated: Monday, 31 July 2006, 22:41 GMT 23:41 UK

Environmental 'crisis' in Lebanon
By Richard Black Environment correspondent, BBC News website

Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 August 2006, 14:07 GMT 15:07 UK

'Damage is done' to Lebanon coast
By Mark Kinver Science and nature reporter, BBC News

26 July 2006

Lebanon has a valid claim to Shaba Farms...

... according to a report by Akiva Eldar, diplomatic affairs analyst, that appeared in Haaretz, some time ago.

In this report entitled "During the French Mandate, Shaba was Lebanese", Akiva Eldar described how an Israeli academic, Dr. Asher Kaufman from the Truman Institute at the Hebrew University went "to the archives and Cartographic Institute in Paris, where he found documents that buttress Lebanon's claims to the land."

In a follow-up piece (the Google cache linked has now disappeared), Akiva Eldar further stated:

"The maps and documents Kaufman found in Paris archives show that French officers in the 1930s realized their maps mistakenly put Shaba on the Syrian side of the border. Administrative documents from the same period show that the farms were listed as being in the Lebanese districts of Hazbayieh or Marjayoun. The French officers proposed correcting the maps that they said were prepared negligently, without surveyors or professional equipment.
But nothing was done to correct the mistake and the error was handed down from generation to generation, government to government."

"It's likely that if the Lebanese or Syrians had reached the archives in Paris in time, and presented the evidence that Kaufman found, the UN's decision on 425 would look very different."

All the UN Resolutions were therefore based on incorrect information and as such should be revisited.

22 July 2006

Newsnight with Daniel Pearl: "We're watching you"

In The BBC's News Editors blog yesterday, Daniel Pearl, deputy editor of Newsnight, tries to convince us that the BBC really does (honestly cross-my-heart-hope-to-die etc.) take notice of what bloggers say, and then goes on to try to explain that the BBC knows what bloggers are talking about anyway thanks to Technorati. He then continues with his sleight-of-hand to claim that "often" bloggers believe they "are involved in a private forum". (How often is "often" Daniel? Twice? Wow, that really is "often"...)

However, the unpalatable truth is that the main stream media , especially the BBC and the Guardian are running scared. They know they have been rumbled. With the inception of blogging, their monopoly on what information the general public is allowed to know has ended. Anyone now with an internet connection can read news reports and analyses from other news agencies and from around the world. There are also several sites that now do an excellent job on analysing MSM output such as Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting in the US, and MediaLens in the UK. Consequently, the BBC and the Guardian, for example, are trying to lead the blogosphere back within the parametres that we have 'escaped' from.

A clear example:

A week ago today, Saturday 15 July 2006, those of the 5 million Catholics in Britain with a connection to the internet could have found out , by visiting the Reuters' website, that the Vatican had condemned Israel for attacks on Lebanon. However, those who get their news from the BBC, whether TV News or current affairs programmes such as Newsnight, or BBC Radio, etc. would never have known. Hence my letter to the BBC which they have not even bothered to acknowledge.

The same happened last year. As reported by the German-American Law Journal on Friday 02 September 2005:
(1) the U.S./U.K. war in Iraq violates international law; and
(2) a German soldier's refusal to follow orders to support that war isproper.

The court explained, among other issues, that a soldier's duty to followorders is not unlimited. The soldier's exercize of conscience deservesrespect by the law, while a law that supports an illegal war does not.The soldier had refused to assist German NATO operations in support of thewar which Germany based on NATO statutes that the court consideredconstitutional.The just published decision clarifies that the soldier's conscience andthe nation's constitution require no balancing because the soldier'sdecision did not affect the nation's ability to pass constitutional laws."

This was hidden from the British public, and in an e-mail exchange with the BBC News at Ten director, he 'explained' that it had happened at the same time as Hurricane Katrina but that he had not come across this news in any case. One wonders what the BBC Germany Bureau(x) do in fact do! I, obviously mistakenly, thought that they monitored German news and publications.

21 July 2006

Palestinian nation under threat

The following is the letter sent by John Berger, Noam Chomsky, Harold Pinter and José Saramago to the UK's Independent (its not really!) today. I reproduce it in full:

Sir: The latest chapter of the conflict between Israel and Palestine began when Israeli forces abducted two civilians, a doctor and his brother, from Gaza - an incident scarcely reported anywhere, except in the Turkish press. The following day the Palestinians took an Israeli soldier prisoner - and proposed a negotiated exchange against prisoners taken by the Israelis, of which there are approximately 10,000 in Israeli jails.
That this "kidnapping" was considered an outrage, whereas the illegal military occupation of the West Bank and the systematic appropriation of its natural resources, most particularly that of water, by the Israeli defence forces is considered a regrettable but realistic fact of life, is typical of the double standards repeatedly employed by the West in face of what has befallen the Palestinians, on the land alloted to them by international agreements during the last 70 years.
Today outrage follows outrage; makeshift missiles cross sophisticated ones. The latter usually find their target situated where the disinherited and crowded poor live, waiting for what was once called justice. Both categories of missile rip bodies apart horribly - who but field commanders can forget this for a moment?
Each provocation and counter-provocation is contested and preached over. But the subsequent arguments, accusations and vows all serve as a distraction to divert world attention from a long-term military, economic and geographic practice whose political aim is nothing less than the liquidation of the Palestinian nation.
This has to be said loud and clear for the practice, only half declared and often covert, is advancing fast these days, and, in our opinion, it must be unceasingly and eternally recognised for what it is and resisted.

17 July 2006

Letter to the BBC

Sent: sábado, 15 de julio de 2006 13:55
To: Helen Boaden BBC; Steve Herrmann, Editor, BBC News Online
Cc: Paul Reynolds
Subject: Vatican condemns Israel for attacks on Lebanon
Importance: High

Dear Helen Boaden, Steve Hermann and Paul Reynolds
Why can I find no news on the BBC website of the Vatican condemnation of the Israeli attacks on Lebanon? Like all Catholics, I like to be informed as to the Vatican stance on occurrences such as this. Is your Vatican correspondent on holiday?

Vatican condemns Israel for attacks on Lebanon

Yours Sincerely

British Zionist says Israeli lives more valuable than Arab lives

British Zionist columnist Maureen Lipman has stated that Israeli lives are more valuable than Arab lives. Her comments, which were broadcast on BBC television on 13 July 2006, went unchallenged by the programme's presenter, Andrew Neil.

Press release: CAABU condemns Maureen Lipman's comments on the BBC

The director of the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding (CAABU), Chris Doyle, has written to the BBC to condemn the comments on the BBC television programme "This Week" by leading British columnist Maureen Lipman.

Unchallenged by the presenter, Andrew Neil, Lipman commented on the situation in the Middle East and denied that the Israeli actions were disproportionate.

"What's proportion got to do with it. It's not about proportion, is it? Human life is not cheap to the Israelis. And human life on the other side is quite cheap actually because they strap bombs to people and send them to blow themselves up."

The idea that somehow Arabs, whether Palestinians or Lebanese, do not value human life as much as anyone else is disgraceful.

In the letter, Doyle wrote:

"Is it acceptable that what most people would consider a racist comment is merely allowed to pass like this? It is simply outrageous. The comments were made in the context of discussing proportionality; therefore, implicitly she is saying that you could not measure proportion because there was no equivalence between an Israeli and an Arab life. All Arabs, like all other people, value human life.

"I ask, if an Arab had stated on this programme that Jews did not value life as much as Arabs and, therefore, disproportionate killings were acceptable, what would have been the reaction?"
[Redress Information & Analysis editor adds: "Maureen Lipman and Andrew Neil, the presenter of the programme 'This Week', are but two of a species which lies at the very heart of the British establishment, including much of the BBC, an establishment which bears an overwhelming responsibility for the dispossession of the Palestinians but whose bigotry and affection for Zionism also blinds it to the pain and suffering caused by Britain's policies in the Middle East."]

Hear Maureen Lipman's racist comments

To hear Maureen Lipman's racist comments, click here and choose the 13 July 2006 programme from the drop-down menu. Her comments come 30 minutes into the programme.

My official complaint to the BBC:

"I watched the show This Week with Andrew Neil and was shocked by the racist comments made by Maureen Lipman.

She stated verbatim: "What`s proportion got to do with it Diane? It`s not about proportion is it? Human life is not cheap to the Israelis, human life on the other side is quite cheap because they strap bombs to people and send them to blow themselves up..."

This has got to be one of the most disgusting racist comments I have ever heard: that Israeli lives are worth more than the Palestinian ones - both morally and legally unnacceptable. I noticed that Andrew Neil immediately ended the Middle East discussion at that point, but again with no countering comment. Why? Does he agree with Lipman?

I demand an unreserved apology from both the BBC and Maureen Lipman for her overtly racist statement. "

I urge everyone to do the same. Its about time these racists - Zionists - and their apartheid policies were condemmed to the same fate as the South African apartheid regime.

Update 25 September 2006:

Maureen Lipman is a disgusting, dangerous racist and Zionist propagandist. This has been proved by her comments in the past including on BBC TV's This Week with Andrew Neil. She defends an apartheid state that has been committing war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity since 1948 with impunity and she defends the immoral and racist viewpoint that Israeli lives are worth more than the Palestinian ones - in this she is not alone.

The fact that such an extremist is given so much time to spout her racist propaganda in the British media is proof enough of the campaign outlined by Jonathan Cook in his article: "The 'New Anti-Semitism' and Nuclear War"
and outlined by John Mearsheimer (Wendell Harrison Professor of Political Science at Chicago) and Stephen Walt (Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard) in their paper on the "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy", which although dealing specifically with the US, shows us the similarity in techniques used in Britain (just replace 'US' with 'UK' and 'American' with 'British' to get the picture).

As Mearsheimer and Walt state:

"What Is The Lobby?
We use "the Lobby" as a convenient short-hand term for the loose coalition of individuals and organizations who actively work to shape U.S. foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction. Our use of this term is not meant to suggest that "the Lobby" is a unified movement with a central leadership, or that individuals within it do not disagree on certain issues.
The core of the Lobby is comprised of American Jews who make a significant effort in their daily lives to bend U.S. foreign policy so that it advances Israel’s interests."

How do they do this? According to M & W their strategy for success includes ensuring:

"that public discourse about Israel portrays it in a positive light, by repeating myths about Israel and its founding and by publicizing Israel’s side in the policy debates of the day. The goal is to prevent critical commentary about Israel from getting a fair hearing in the political arena. Controlling the debate is essential to guaranteeing U.S. support, because a candid discussion of U.S-Israeli relations might lead Americans to favor a
different policy."


"Manipulating the Media
In addition to influencing government policy directly, the Lobby strives to shape public perceptions about Israel and the Middle East. It does not want an open debate on issues involving Israel, because an open debate might cause Americans to question the level of support that they currently provide. Accordingly, pro-Israel organizations work hard to influence the media, think tanks, and academia, because these institutions are critical in shaping popular opinion."

"The Great Silencer
No discussion of how the Lobby operates would be complete without examining one of its most powerful weapons: the charge of anti-Semitism...pro-Israel forces, when pressed to go beyond assertion, claim that there is a ‘new anti-Semitism’, which they equate with criticism of Israel. In other words criticize Israeli policy and you are by definition an anti-Semite."

Jonathan Cook then takes it from there:

"It is now clear that Israel and its loyalists had three main goals in mind as they began their campaign. Two were familiar motives from previous attempts at highlighting a "new anti-Semitism." The third was new.
The first aim, and possibly the best understood, was to stifle all criticism of Israel, particularly in the U.S.
A second, less noticed, goal was an urgent desire to prevent any slippage in the numbers of Jews inside Israel that might benefit the Palestinians as the two ethnic groups approached demographic parity in the area know to Israelis as Greater Israel and to Palestinians as historic Palestine.
The third goal, however, had not seen before. It tied the rise of a new anti-Semitism to the increase of Islamic fundamentalism in the West, implying that Muslim extremists were asserting an ideological control over Western thinking. It chimed well with the post 9/11 atmosphere.
This final goal of the proponents of "the new anti-Semitism" was so successful because it could be easily conflated with other ideas associated with America's War on Terror, such as the clash of civilizations.
Faced with the evil designs of the "Islamic fascists," such as those in Iran, Israel's nuclear arsenal – and the nuclear holocaust Israel can and appears prepared to unleash – may be presented as the civilized world's salvation."

14 July 2006

E-mail to Israeli Ambassador in Madrid, Spain

Excmo. Sr. D. Víctor Harel,

I will write in English as it is my mother tongue:

I write to express my complete rejection of your nation's criminal and genocidal acts in targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure in Gaza and Lebanon.

But what's new? Your country has continued along exactly the same path since 1948. In fact, Israeli Defence Official Yitzhak Bailey - who was very involved in the Israeli rule of South Lebanon in 1982-1985 - wrote in Haaretz on October 19, 1995: ""Unfortunately, the only way to stop Hizbullah actions against the Israeli forces in south Lebanon is to inflict heavy blows on the passive population...Then Hizbullah would be loathed."

We have seen this exact same tactic in action yet again over the last week or so in both Gaza and Lebanon.

Your countries actions with regard to civilians is disgusting, immoral and criminal. You behave as a terrorist state.

Yours Most Sincerely,

13 July 2006

Official complaint to the BBC - when is a 14-year-old girl a 'woman'?

This morning I sent an official complant to the BBC via their website. I urge others to do the same:

I read the article on the BBC News Online website "US soldiers charged in rape case" .

Firstly, you start the article with this paragraph: "Four US soldiers have been charged with rape and murder over an attack on an Iraqi woman who was killed along with her family last March." and then right at the end of the article you report: "The woman he is alleged to have raped and killed was aged between 14 and 20, the US military says."

This is yet another classic example where the BBC takes as gospel truth whatever the US Army says while ignoring any other conflicting reports, a clear case of bias.

In fact, as you are well aware, Reuters news agency authenticated the victims real age as 14 (not "between 14 and 20"), by examining her birth certificate, identity card and the death certificate: "Abeer Qasim Hamza al-Janabi died of "gunshot wounds in the head, with burns", according to the death certificate. That and her identity card, which relatives showed Reuters, show she was a minor aged 14, and not 20 or 25 as stated in U.S. official documents which say she was raped."

CNN also confirm the birth date: "The mayor of Mahmoudiya confirmed that birth date to CNN."

According to the BBC, when is a 14-year-old child a 'woman'?

Only when a coalition soldier is charged with raping an Iraqi?

Yes is the answer.

It is the only case on the BBC website where a 14 year old girl is referred to as a 'woman'. I have conducted a search of the BBC News website and in all the other cases I can find on the BBC website of a man in the UK being charged with the rape of a 14 or 15 year-old, the person raped was referred to as a 'girl' or at very least 'teenager':

1. Man charged with raping 14-year-old
"A man has been charged with sexual offences following the alleged rape of a 14-year-old girl."

2. Man charged with rape of teenager
"Police investigating a sex attack on a 14-year-old girl in Lancashire have charged a man with rape"

3. Man charged with promenade rape
"A 27-year old man has been charged with the rape of a 15-year old girl."

4. Man, 50, charged with 1989 rape
"A man has been charged with the rape of a 14-year-old girl in South Tyneside 16 years ago."

5. Man charged with rapes
"A man has been charged with raping two teenagers and a woman in Greater Manchester. Tanweer Nazir was charged with the offences after attacks involving two girls, aged 14 and 15 and a 22-year-old woman, in separate incidents."

I could go on, but I am sure you get my point. I would ask you to update the article concerned.

Secondly if we were to get our news solely from the BBC we would be completely in the dark as to the full facts of the case and as to how the US military has consistently shown the child as older than she actually was. Both Reuters and CNN have given much fuller information than the BBC. Why is this?


"There have been conflicting reports about the alleged rape victim's age. Sunday, Reuters news agency released documents indicating that she was 14. Reuters said identification cards and death certificates give the victim's date of birth as August 19, 1991.The mayor of Mahmoudiya confirmed that birth date to CNN. However, a Justice Department affidavit in the case against Green says investigators estimated victim's age at about 25, while the U.S. military said she was 20. The U.S. military statement Sunday made clear that officials are aware of the discrepancies and that her age is an important part of the investigation. "

"A Justice Department affidavit says Green and other soldiers planned to rape a young woman who lived near the checkpoint they manned in Mahmoudiya. The affidavit says three soldiers allegedly accompanied Green into the house, and another soldier was told to monitor the radio while the assault took place. The affidavit says Green shot the woman's relatives, including a girl of about 5; raped the young woman; then fatally shot her. Soldiers are quoted in the affidavit as telling investigators that Green and his companions then set the family's house afire, threw an AK-47 rifle used in the killings into a canal and burned their bloodstained clothing. Green was honorably discharged from the Army before the incident came to light after being diagnosed with an unspecified personality disorder, according to court papers."

Reuters :

"THE VICTIMS -- Abeer Qasim Hamza al-Janabi died of "gunshot wounds in the head, with burns", according to the death certificate. That and her identity card, which relatives showed Reuters, show she was a minor aged 14, and not 20 or 25 as stated in U.S. official documents which say she was raped. -- Her father Qasim Hamza Rasheed al-Janabi, 34, a laborer, his wife Fakhriya Taha Muheisin al-Janabi, 43, and their younger daughter Hadeel Qasim Hamza al-Janabi, 6, also all died from gunshot wounds; two sons, now aged 10 and 13, were absent.
THE PROSECUTION CASE -- Green and three others drank alcohol, in violation of a standing general order in Iraq, as they discussed raping Abeer on March 11. Shortly afterward at least two changed into dark civilian clothes, another violation, and the four went off armed leaving a fifth soldier manning the radio at their checkpoint. -- At the house 200 metres away, Green who had been inside before and wore a T-shirt over his face, went into a room with the parents and child. Another soldier threw Abeer to the floor. -- Green shot the parents and child with the father's AK-47 rifle, then the second soldier and Green raped Abeer on the floor before Green shot her several times. The two other soldiers at the house say they did not take part in these acts."

In view of the fact that it is this specific case which has resulted in the Iraqi PM calling for an end to the immunity (although impunity might be a better word) from Iraqi law for US troops - incidentally information that does not exist on the BBC News Online website - don't you think that the BBC could and should provide more information (and less biased in the US military favour) in this matter?

Iraq to ask UN to end U.S. immunity after rape case Mon Jul 10, 2006 5:27 PM BST By Mariam Karouny BAGHDAD (Reuters)

Why is the BBC not publishing the full facts of the case? I would much appreciate a reply.

Yours Sincerely,

11 July 2006

US Army News Service: Coalition forces keep streets of Iraq safe

The US Army propagandists must be tearing their hair out right now.

In an article on the US Army News Service website dated 09 December 2005 entitled "Coalition forces keep streets of Iraq safe" by Spc. George Welcome, the accompanying photo (above) shows "Pfc. Steven Green, B Co. 1-502" preparing "to blast a lock off the gate of an abandoned home during a search of homes in Mullah Fayed on Dec. 2."

The article goes on to say:

"YUSUFIYAH, Iraq (Army News Service, Dec. 9, 2005) – Soldiers from Task Force Baghdad, alongside Iraqi forces, constantly search the streets and alleyways of Baghdad and surrounding communities for weapons, insurgents and anti-coalition propaganda. The searches are thorough, yet the Soldiers still respect people's rights and property. “I feel that our patrols make a difference,” said Sgt. Kenneth Casica. “I guess the patrols make the insurgents nervous because they know…we'll push them out of this area to make the people feel safe.”"

Little did the US Army propagandists know that 3 months later that the very same Pfc. Steven Green would be charged with the heinous crime of raping and murdering a 14 year old Iraqi girl, murdering her 6 year old sister and parents. That is why presumably the photo has now been withdrawn. Just compare the Google cache of the original article to the current one.

Strangely enough, the BBC decided to use the very same photo in its sparse article on the affair, proving conclusively that their information is no different than that given by the US Army Public Affairs website. Their caption? "Steven Green faces a possible death penalty if convicted"

I have sent a complaint to the BBC regarding their online article which can be read here.