Posts Tagged ‘social justice’

We Are Without Excuse.

Ghosts Of The Future | A film (by my comrade) Kelvin Mason.

“The United States is the most successfully repressed country in the world ” – Stokely Carmichael, Black power activist.

“Repression is when you can get 90% of the students in the U.S to name you all the Three Stooges but can’t tell you what the WTO is.” – Michael Parenti

“The People are the very substance of Power. We have to organise.” – Michael Parenti

A classic talk from 1999 by political scientist Michael Parenti.
It’s just as illuminating today as it was then–and often funny, too.

Parenti shows how the Western colonial powers un-developed the “Third-World”–increasing poverty there in order to enrich private corporations at home.
Indeed (Parenti argues), almost all U.S. foreign policy seems aimed at increasing the profits of the Fortune 500.

This is the real purpose of the hundreds of U.S. military interventions abroad–many of which overthrew democratically elected governments, replacing them with dictatorships friendly to U.S. corporate interests. Boosting corporate profits likewise is the reason behind “humanitarian” military interventions.

Parenti shows that imperialism’s current form is “multilateral free-trade agreements” such as NAFTA and GATT.
These draconian, anti-democratic treaties give corporations the power to veto any national laws that might interfere with their profits.

Parenti’s brilliant, passionate, and funny talk is as relevant today as it was in 1999.


Globalization And Democracy: 

Some Basics

By Michael Parenti

26 May, 2007
Michaelparenti.org


The goal of the transnational corporation is to become truly transnational, poised above the sovereign power of any particu­lar nation, while being served by the sovereign powers of all nations.

Cyril Siewert, chief financial officer of Colgate Palmol­ive Company, could have been speaking for all transnationals when he remarked, “The United States doesn’t have an automatic call on our [corporation’s] resources. There is no mindset that puts this country first.”[i]

With international “free trade” agreements such as NAFTA, GATT, and FTAA, the giant transnationals have been elevated above the sovereign powers of nation states. These agreements endow anonymous international trade committees with the authority to prevent, over-­rule, or dilute any laws of any nation deemed to burden the investment and market prerogatives of transnational corporations. These trade committees–of which the World Trade Organization (WTO) is a prime example—set up panels composed of “trade special­ists” who act as judges over economic issues, placing themselves above the rule and popular control of any nation, thereby insuring the supremacy of international finance capital. This process, called globalization, is treated as an inevitable natural “growth” development beneficial to all. It is in fact a global coup d’état by the giant business interests of the world.

Elected by no one and drawn from the corporate world, these panelists meet in secret and often have investment stakes in the very issues they adjudicate, being bound by no con­flict-of-interest provisions. Not one of GATT’s five hundred pages of rules and restrictions are directed against private corporations; all are against govern­ments.
Signatory governments must lower tariffs, end farm subsidi­es, treat foreign companies the same as domestic ones, honour all corporate patent claims, and obey the rulings of a permanent elite bureaucracy, the WTO. Should a country refuse to change its laws when a WTO panel so dictates, the WTO can impose fines or international trade sanctions, depriving the resistant country of needed markets and materials.[ii]

Acting as the supreme global adjudicator, the WTO has ruled against laws deemed “barriers to free trade.” It has forced Japan to accept greater pesticide residues in imported food. It has kept Guatemala from outlawing deceptive advertising of baby food. It has eliminated the ban in various countries on asbestos, and on fuel-economy and emission stan­dards for motor vehicles. And it has ruled against marine-life protection laws and the ban on endangered-species products. The European Union’s prohibition on the importation of hormone-ridden U.S. beef had overwhelming popular support throughout Europe, but a three-member WTO panel decided the ban was an illegal restraint on trade. The decision on beef put in jeopardy a host of other food import regulations based on health concerns. The WTO overturned a portion of the U.S. Clean Air Act banning certain additives in gasoline because it interfered with imports from foreign refineries. And the WTO overturned that portion of the U.S. Endangered Species Act forbidding the import of shrimp caught with nets that failed to protect sea turtles.[iii]

Free trade is not fair trade; it benefits strong nations at the expense of weaker ones, and rich interests at the expense of the rest of us. Globalization means turning the clock back on many twentieth-century reforms: no freedom to boycott products, no prohibitions against child labor, no guaranteed living wage or benefits, no public services that might conceivably compete with private services, no health and safety protections that might cut into corporate profits.[iv]

GATT and subsequent free trade agreements allow multinationals to impose monopoly property rights on indigenous and communal agriculture.
In this way agribusiness can better penetrate locally self-sufficient communities and monopolize their resources.
Ralph Nader gives the example of the neem tree, whose extracts contain natural pesti­cidal and medicinal proper­ties.
Cultivat­ed for centuries in India, the tree attracted the attention of vari­ous pharmaceutical companies, who filed monopoly patents, causing mass protests by Indian farmers. As dictated by the WTO, the pharmaceuticals now have exclusive control over the marketing of neem tree products, a ruling that is being reluctantly enforced in India.
Tens of thousands of erstwhile independent farmers must now work for the powerful pharmaceuticals on profit-gorging terms set by the companies.

A trade agreement between India and the United States, the Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture (KIA), backed by Monsanto and other transnational corporate giants, allows for the grab of India’s seed sector by Monsanto, its trade sector by Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill, and its retail sector by Wal-Mart. (Wal-Mart announced plans to open 500 stores in India, starting in August 2007.)
This amounts to a war against India’s independent farmers and small businesses, and a threat to India’s food security.
Farmers are organizing to protect themselves against this economic invasion by maintaining traditional seed-banks and setting up systems of communal agrarian support.
One farmer says, “We do not buy seeds from the market because we suspect they may be contaminated with genetically engineered or terminator seeds.”[v]

In a similar vein, the WTO ruled that the U.S. corporation RiceTec has the patent rights to all the many varieties of basmati rice, grown for centuries by India’s farmers.
It also ruled that a Japanese corporation had exclusive rights in the world to grow and produce curry powder. As these instances demonstrate, what is called “free trade” amounts to international corporate monopoly control.
Such developments caused Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad to observe:

We now have a situation where theft of genetic resources by western biotech TNCs [transnational corporations] enables them to make huge profits by producing patented genetic mutations of these same materials. What depths have we sunk to in the global marketplace when nature’s gifts to the poor may not be protected but their modifications by the rich become exclusive property?

If the current behaviour of the rich countries is anything to go by, globalization simply means the breaking down of the borders of countries so that those with the capital and the goods will be free to dominate the markets.[vi]

Under free-trade agreements like General Agreements on Trade and Services (GATS) and Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), all public services are put at risk. A public service can be charged with causing “lost market opportunities” for business, or creating an unfair subsidy.

To offer one in­stance: the single-payer automobile insurance program proposed by the province of Ontario, Canada, was declared “unfair competi­tion.” Ontario could have its public auto insurance only if it paid U.S. insurance companies what they estimated would be their present and future losses in Ontario auto insurance sales, a prohibitive cost for the province.
Thus the citizens of Ontario were not allowed to exercise their democratic sovereign right to institute an alterna­tive not-for-profit auto insurance system. In another case, United Postal Service charged the Canadian Post Office for “lost market opportunities,” which means that under free trade accords, the Canadian Post Office would have to compensate UPS for all the business that UPS thinks it would have had if there were no public postal service. The Canadian postal workers union has challenged the case in court, arguing that the agreement violates the Canadian Constitution.

Under NAFTA, the U.S.-based Ethyl Corporation sued the Canadian government for $250 million in “lost business opportunities” and “interference with trade” because Canada banned MMT, an Ethyl-produced gasoline additive considered carcinogenic by Canadian officials. Fearing they would lose the case, Canadian officials caved in, agreeing to lift the ban on MMT, pay Ethyl $10 million compensation, and issue a public statement calling MMT “safe,” even though they had scientific findings showing otherwise. California also banned the unhealthy additive; this time a Canadian based Ethyl company sued California under NAFTA for placing an unfair burden on free trade.[vii]

International free trade agreements like GATT and NAFTA have hastened the corporate acquisition of local markets, squeezing out smaller businesses and worker collectives. Under NAFTA better-paying U.S. jobs were lost as firms closed shop and contracted out to the cheaper Mexican labor market. At the same time thousands of Mexican small companies were forced out of business. Mexico was flooded with cheap, high-tech, mass produced corn and dairy products from giant U.S. agribusiness firms (themselves heavily subsidized by the U.S. government), driving small Mexican farmers and distributors into bankruptcy, displacing large numbers of poor peasants. The lately arrived U.S. companies in Mexico have offered extremely low-paying jobs, and unsafe work conditions. Generally free trade has brought a dramatic increase in poverty south of the border.[viii]

We North Americans are told that to remain competitive in the new era of globalization, we will have to increase our output while reducing our labor and production costs, in other words, work harder for less. This in fact is happening as the work-week has lengthened by as much as twenty percent (from forty hours to forty-six and even forty-eight hours) and real wages have flattened or declined during the reign of George W. Bush. Less is being spent on social services, and we are enduring more wage conces­sions, more restructuring, deregula­tion, and privat­ization. Only with such “adjustments,” one hears, can we hope to cope with the impersonal forces of globalization that are sweeping us along.

In fact, there is nothing impersonal about these forces. Free trade agreements, including new ones that have not yet been submitted to the U.S. Congress have been consciously planned by big business and its government minions over a period of years in pursuit of a deregulated world economy that undermines all democratic checks upon business practices. The people of any one province, state, or nation are now finding it increasingly difficult to get their govern­ments to impose protective regulations or develop new forms of public sector production out of fear of being overruled by some self-appointed international free-trade panel.[ix]

Usually it is large nations demanding that poorer smaller ones relinquish the protections and subsidies they provide for their local producers. But occasionally things may take a different turn. Thus in late 2006 Canada launched a dispute at the World Trade Organization over the use of “trade-distorting” agricultural subsidies by the United States, specifically the enormous sums dished out by the federal government to U.S. agribusiness corn farmers. The case also challenged the entire multibillion-dollar structure of U.S. agricultural subsidies. It followed the landmark WTO ruling of 2005 which condemned “trade-distorting” aid to U.S. cotton farmers. A report by Oxfam International revealed that at least thirty-eight developing countries were suffering severely as a result of trade distorting subsidies by both the United States and the European Union. Meanwhile, the U.S. government was manoeuvring to insert a special clause into trade negotiations that would place its illegal use of farm subsidies above challenge by WTO member countries and make the subsidies immune from adjudication through the WTO dispute settlement process.[x]

What is seldom remarked upon is that NAFTA and GATT are in violation of the U.S. Constitution, the preamble of which makes clear that sovereign power rests with the people: “We the People of the United States . . . do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution reads; “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States.” Article I, Section 7 gives the president (not some trade council) the power to veto a law, subject to being overridden by a two-thirds vote in Congress. And Article III gives adjudication and review powers to a Supreme Court and other federal courts as ordained by Congress.

The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution states:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

There is nothing in the entire Constitution that allows an international trade panel to preside as final arbiter exercising supreme review powers undermining the constitutionally mandated decisions of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches.

True, Article VII says that the Constitution, federal laws, and treaties “shall be the supreme Law of the land,” but certainly this was not intended to include treaties that overrode the laws themselves and the sovereign democratic power of the people and their representatives.

To exclude the Senate from deliberations, NAFTA and GATT were called “agreements” instead of treaties, a semantic ploy that enabled President Clinton to bypass the two-third treaty ratification vote in the Senate and avoid any treaty amendment process. The World Trade Organization was approved by a lame-duck session of Congress held after the 1994 elections. No one running in that election uttered a word to voters about putting the U.S. government under a perpetual obligation to insure that national laws do not conflict with international free trade rulings.

What is being undermined is not only a lot of good laws dealing with environment, public services, labor standards, and consumer protection, but also the very right to legislate such laws. Our democratic sovereignty itself is being surrendered to a secretive plutocratic trade organization that presumes to exercise a power greater than that of the people and their courts and legislatures. What we have is an international coup d’état by big capital over the nations of the world.

Globalization is a logical extension of imperialism, a victory of empire over republic, international finance capital over local productivity and nation-state democracy (such as it is). In recent times however, given popular protests, several multilateral trade agreements have been stalled or voted down. In 1999, militant protests against free trade took place in forty-one nations from Britain and France to Thailand and India.[xi] In 2000-01, there were demonstrations in Seattle, Washington, Sydney, Prague, Genoa, and various other locales. In 2003-04 we saw the poorer nations catching wise to the free trade scams and refusing to sign away what shreds of sovereignty they still had. Along with the popular resistance, more national leaders are thinking twice before signing on to new trade agreements.

The discussion of globalization by some Marxists (but not all) has focused on the question of whether the new “internationalization” of capital will undermine national sovereignty and the nation state. They dwell on this question while leaving unmentioned such things as free trade agreements and the WTO. Invariably these observers (for instance Ellen Wood and William Taab in Monthly Review, Ian Jasper in Nature, Society and Thought, Erwin Marquit in Political Affairs) conclude that the nation state still plays a key role in capitalist imperialism, that capital-while global in its scope–is not international but bound to particular nations, and that globalization is little more than another name for overseas monopoly capital investment.

They repeatedly remind us that Marx had described globalization, this process of international financial expansion, as early as 1848, when he and Engels in the Communist Manifesto wrote about how capitalism moves into all corners of the world, reshaping all things into its own image. Therefore, there is no cause for the present uproar. Globalization, these writers conclude, is not a new development but a longstanding one that Marxist theory uncovered long ago.

The problem with this position is that it misses the whole central point of the current struggle. It is not only national sovereignty that is at stake, it is democratic sovereignty. Millions, of people all over the world have taken to the streets to protest free trade agreements. Among them are farmers, workers, students and intellectuals (including many Marxists who see things more clearly than the aforementioned ones), all of whom are keenly aware that something new is afoot and they want no part of it. As used today, the term globalization refers to a new stage of international expropriation, designed not to put an end to the nation-state but to undermine whatever democratic right exists to protect the social wage and restrain the power of transnational corporations.

The free trade agreements, in effect, make unlawful all statutes and regulations that restrict private capital in any way. Carried to full realization, this means the end of whatever imperfect democratic protections the populace has been able to muster after generations of struggle in the realm of public policy. Under the free trade agreements any and all public services can be ruled out of existence because they cause “lost market opportunities” for private capital. So too public hospitals can be charged with taking away markets from private hospitals; and public water supply systems, public schools, public libraries, public housing and public transportation are guilty of depriving their private counterparts of market opportunities, likewise public health insurance, public mail delivery, and public auto insurance systems.

Laws that try to protect the environment or labor standards or consumer health already have been overthrown for “creating barriers” to free trade.

What also is overthrown is the right to have such laws. This is the most important point of all and the one most frequently overlooked by persons from across the political spectrum. Under the free trade accords, property rights have been elevated to international supremacy, able to take precedent over all other rights, including the right to a clean livable environment, the right to affordable public services, and the right to any morsel of economic democracy. Instead a new right has been accorded absolutist status, the right to corporate private profit. It has been used to stifle the voice of working people and their ability to develop a public sector that serves their interests.

Free speech itself is undermined as when “product disparagement” is treated as an interference with free trade. And nature itself is being monopolized and privatized by transnational corporations.

So the fight against free trade is a fight for the right to politico-economic democracy, public services, and a social wage, the right not to be completely at the mercy of big capital. It is a new and drastic phase of the class struggle that some Marxists–so immersed in classical theory and so ill-informed about present-day public policy–seem to have missed. As embodied in the free trade accords, globalization has little to do with trade and is anything but free. It benefits the rich nations over poor ones, and the rich classes within all nations at the expense of ordinary citizens. It is the new specter that haunts the same old world.

Michael Parenti’s recent books include The Assassination of Julius Caesar (New Press), Superpatriotism (City Lights), and The Culture Struggle (Seven Stories Press). For more information visit: www.michaelparenti.org.


© 2007 Michael Parenti

[i] Quoted in New York Times, May 21, 1989.[ii] See Lori Wallach and Michelle Sforza, The WTO (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2000); and John R. MacArthur, The Selling of Free Trade: Nafta, Washington, and the Subversion of American Democracy (New York: Hill and Wang, 2000).

[iii] New York Times, April 30, 1996 and May 9, 1997;Washington Post, October 13, 1998.

[iv] See the report by the United Nations Development Program referenced in New York Times, July 13, 1999.

[v] Project Censored, “Real News,” April 2007; also Arun Shrivastava, “Genetically Modified Seeds: Women in India take on Monsanto,” Global Research, October 9, 2006.

[vi] Quoted in People’s Weekly World, December 7, 1996.

[vii] John R. MacArthur, The Selling of “Free Trade”: NAFTA, Washington, and the Subversion of American Democracy (New York: Hill & Wang, 2000; and Sarah Anderson and John Cavanagh, “Nafta’s Unhappy Anniversary,” New York Times, February 7, 1995.

[viii] John Ross, “Tortilla Wars,” Progressive, June 1999

[ix] For a concise but thorough treatment, see Steven Shrybman, A Citizen’s Guide

to the World Trade Organization (Ottawa/Toronto: Canadian Center for Policy

Alternatives and James Lorimer & Co., 1999).

[x] “US seeks “get-out clause” for illegal farm payments” Oxfam, June 29, 2006,

http://www.oxfam.org/en/news/
pressreleases2006/pr060629_wto_geneva

[xi] San Francisco Chronicle, June 19, 1999.

 

 

Agnotology is the study of wilful acts to spread confusion and deceit, usually to sell a product or win favour.

Robert Proctor, a science historian from Stanford University, says.

“Ignorance is not just the not-yet-known, it’s also a political ploy, a deliberate creation by powerful agents who want you ‘not to know’.”

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20160105-the-man-who-studies-the-spread-of-ignorance

How do people or companies with vested interests spread ignorance and obfuscate knowledge? Georgina Kenyon finds there is a term which defines this phenomenon. Agnotology.

In 1979, a secret memo from the tobacco industry was revealed to the public.
Called the Smoking and Health Proposal, and written a decade earlier by the Brown & Williamson tobacco company, it revealed many of the tactics employed by big tobacco to counter “anti-cigarette forces”.

In one of the paper’s most revealing sections, it looks at how to market cigarettes to the mass public: “Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy.”

This revelation piqued the interest of Robert Proctor, a science historian from Stanford University, who started delving into the practices of tobacco firms and how they had spread confusion about whether smoking caused cancer.

Proctor had found that the cigarette industry did not want consumers to know the harms of its product, and it spent billions obscuring the facts of the health effects of smoking. This search led him to create a word for the study of deliberate propagation of ignorance: agnotology.

It comes from agnosis, the neoclassical Greek word for ignorance or ‘not knowing’, and ontology, the branch of metaphysics which deals with the nature of being.

Agnotology is the study of wilful acts to spread confusion and deceit, usually to sell a product or win favour.

“I was exploring how powerful industries could promote ignorance to sell their wares. Ignorance is power… and agnotology is about the deliberate creation of ignorance.

“In looking into agnotology, I discovered the secret world of classified science, and thought historians should be giving this more attention.”

The 1969 memo and the tactics used by the tobacco industry became the perfect example of agnotology, Proctor says.

“Ignorance is not just the not-yet-known, it’s also a political ploy, a deliberate creation by powerful agents who want you ‘not to know’.”

To help him in his search, Proctor enlisted the help of UC Berkeley linguist Iain Boal, and together they came up with the term – the neologism was coined in 1995, although much of Proctor’s analysis of the phenomenon had occurred in the previous decades.

Balancing act

Agnotology is as important today as it was back when Proctor studied the tobacco industry’s obfuscation of facts about cancer and smoking. For example, politically motivated doubt was sown over US President Barack Obama’s nationality for many months by opponents until he revealed his birth certificate in 2011. In another case, some political commentators in Australia attempted to stoke panic by likening the country’s credit rating to that of Greece, despite readily available public information from ratings agencies showing the two economies are very different.

(Credit: Thinkstock)

The spread of ignorance is as relevant today as it was when Proctor coined his term (Credit: Thinkstock)

Proctor explains that ignorance can often be propagated under the guise of balanced debate. For example, the common idea that there will always be two opposing views does not always result in a rational conclusion. This was behind how tobacco firms used science to make their products look harmless, and is used today by climate change deniers to argue against the scientific evidence.

“This ‘balance routine’ has allowed the cigarette men, or climate deniers today, to claim that there are two sides to every story, that ‘experts disagree’ – creating a false picture of the truth, hence ignorance.”

For example, says Proctor, many of the studies linking carcinogens in tobacco were conducted in mice initially, and the tobacco industry responded by saying that studies into mice did not mean that people were at risk, despite adverse health outcomes in many smokers.

A new era of ignorance

“We live in a world of radical ignorance, and the marvel is that any kind of truth cuts through the noise,” says Proctor. Even though knowledge is ‘accessible’, it does not mean it is accessed, he warns.

“Although for most things this is trivial – like, for example, the boiling point of mercury – but for bigger questions of political and philosophical import, the knowledge people have often comes from faith or tradition, or propaganda, more than anywhere else.”

(Credit: Thinkstock)

When people do not understand a concept or fact, they are prey for special interest groups who work hard to create confusion (Credit: Thinkstock)

Proctor found that ignorance spreads when firstly, many people do not understand a concept or fact and secondly, when special interest groups – like a commercial firm or a political group – then work hard to create confusion about an issue. In the case of ignorance about tobacco and climate change, a scientifically illiterate society will probably be more susceptible to the tactics used by those wishing to confuse and cloud the truth.

Consider climate change as an example. “The fight is not just over the existence of climate change, it’s over whether God has created the Earth for us to exploit, whether government has the right to regulate industry, whether environmentalists should be empowered, and so on. It’s not just about the facts, it’s about what is imagined to flow from and into such facts,” says Proctor.

Making up our own minds

Another academic studying ignorance is David Dunning, from Cornell University. Dunning warns that the internet is helping propagate ignorance – it is a place where everyone has a chance to be their own expert, he says, which makes them prey for powerful interests wishing to deliberately spread ignorance.

“While some smart people will profit from all the information now just a click away, many will be misled into a false sense of expertise. My worry is not that we are losing the ability to make up our own minds, but that it’s becoming too easy to do so. We should consult with others much more than we imagine. Other people may be imperfect as well, but often their opinions go a long way toward correcting our own imperfections, as our own imperfect expertise helps to correct their errors,” warns Dunning.

Dunning and Proctor also warn that the wilful spread of ignorance is rampant throughout the US presidential primaries on both sides of the political spectrum.

“Donald Trump is the obvious current example in the US, suggesting easy solutions to followers that are either unworkable or unconstitutional,” says Dunning.

So while agnotology may have had its origins in the heyday of the tobacco industry, today the need for both a word and the study of human ignorance is as strong as ever.

Wilful acts to spread a narrative and obliterate competing interpretations – something that the social media echo chambers do, too. (But not even then very successfully).

There’s an idea – here demonstrated in a lecture by Adam Curtis – that brainwashing is not really achievable. https://vimeo.com/61089268

I don’t think Agnotology is quite the same as ‘brainwashing’. It’s more the creation of a ‘post-truth’ society, or “hyper-normalisation” as Curtis has titled his newest film.

Welcome to the post-truth world. You know it’s not real, but you accept it as normal.


Defeat device software

https://youtu.be/hOTKIZgppbs – Dan Carder, West Virginia University’s director of the Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions, and Bloomberg Intelligence’s Kevin Tynan discuss the exposure of the Volkswagen vehicle-emission cheating scandal with Bloomberg’s Matt Miller and Mark Crumpton on “Bloomberg Markets.”


And yet TODAY – 24th October – there’s this…
Industry Lobbyists have won yet again.

“Petrol cars allowed to exceed pollution limits by 50% under draft EU laws”

https://gu.com/p/58fb4/stw  -Monday 24 October 2016

New European cars with petrol engines will be allowed to overshoot a limit on toxic particulates emissions by 50% under a draft EU regulation backed by the UK and most other EU states.

Campaigners say that a simple €25 (£22) filter could drastically cut the pollution, but the Guardian has learned that car-makers have instead mounted a successful push for loopholes and legislative delay.

Bas Eickhout, a Green MEP on the European parliament’s environment committee and dieselgate inquiry panel, promised action to ensure that the lessons of the VW scandal were learned.

“With this ridiculous proposal, the EU’s member states are again trying to dilute EU laws at a terrible cost to human health. We will call on the European commission to come to the European parliament and explain themselves on this issue,” he said.

Particulate matter (PM) is the largest single contributor to the estimated 600,000 premature deaths across Europe from pollution-related heart and lung diseases each year.

Children and the elderly are worst affected, and the associated health costs could be as high as €1.6 Trillion a year in Europe, according to the World Health Organisation.

Although exhaust fumes from diesel and petrol engines are one of the largest sources of particulates emissions, most EU member states support raising the EU’s pollution standard 50% above the legal limit set down in the Euro 6 regulation.

Behind the scenes, vehicle makers have pushed strongly for a staggering 300% over, according to material seen by the Guardian.

The draft regulation is still being discussed by EU member states and the auto industry has not given up hopes of wrenching further concessions on particulate emissions ahead of a final decision on 7 December.

One Powerpoint slide shown to EU expert groups by the European automobile manufacturers association (Acea) says that a 300% latitude in meeting the letter of the law would be “realistic” because of “measurement uncertainty” in emissions tests.

Florent Grelier, a clean vehicles engineer at the Transport and Environment (T&E) campaign group, told the Guardian he feared that EU attempts to improve air quality were being “bent to the will of the automotive industry”.

“This is a petrolgate scandal in the making,” he said.

“Unless the European commission and governments establish strict test procedures to protect the industry from its own short-sightedness, within a few years we will see continuing high levels of particles killing hundreds of thousands of citizens prematurely.”

Under EU law, car-manufacturers are already obliged to use filters for diesel engines, but not for the rapidly-growing 40% of the petrol engine market which is made up by uncontrolled gasoline direct injection engines.
These release more particulate matter than modern diesel cars.

Gasoline particulate filters could reduce these emissions by a factor of around 100, and would cost manufacturers just €25 per car, according to research by T&E.
But car manufacturers have argued this would violate the principle of technology neutrality.

A spokesman for Acea declined to comment on the issue.

Calls by the auto industry for a delay in implementing the new regulation have been well received by several car-producing EU countries.
Spain and Sweden argued for a one-year legislative delay that would push its introduction back to 2019, in minutes of a technical committee meeting earlier this month seen by the Guardian.

The UK took no formal position on when the new regulation should enter into force but warned of “unintended adverse effects” if pm limits were given a separate starting date to standards for another pollutant, nitrogen oxide (NOx) , which will now begin in 2019.

An EU group of national experts – the technical committee on motor vehicles – is now expected to sign off on the final proposal to amend the Euro 6 regulation for real world driving emissions, in December.

The issue of “conformity factors” – or compensating for uncertainties in emissions tests – last year led the committee to impose a NOx limit 110% higher than the one written into the Euro 6 regulations last year.


http://cumminseuro6.com/what-is-euro-6

Euro 6 is the latest diesel engine emission legislations being driven by the European Commission.

Since 1993, when the very first ‘Euro 1’ legislation was introduced for trucks and buses, the European Commission has regulated the amount of pollutants coming out of the tail-pipe of a diesel engine. In particular, the Commission identified two key constituents within the exhaust stream – Oxides of Nitrogen or ‘NOx’, and ‘Particulate Matter‘ (basically soot particles) – as being harmful, and which needed to be controlled and reduced… etc (see http://cumminseuro6.com/customise/upload/files/20_a.pdf )


Euro 6 regulations in detail

The Euro 6 European exhaust emission regulations have been implemented in two stages. The first, which applied to all ‘new type approval’ vehicles, came into force on 1 January 2013. As at 1 January 2014 all new trucks and buses registered from 1 January 2014 will be equipped with a Euro 6 certified engine.

The Euro 6 regulations see significant reductions in permitted tail-pipe emissions as well as other operational changes including:

  • All NOx emissions reduced to 0.46 grams-perkilowatt-hour (g/KWh)—that’s down by 75% compared to current Euro 5 limits Particulate Matter (PM) reduced to 0.01 gm/kWh – or a further 66% drop compared to Euro 5.
  • However, with the further introduction of a new ‘particle number limit’ as part of the legislation, the actual overall reduction in the permissible levels of PM will be closer to 95%.
  • The introduction of a lower ammonia emission limit – ammonia being a byproduct of the selective catalytic reduction (SCR) exhaust after-treatment process.
  • The inclusion of a crank-case emission limit if a closed system is not used. An enhanced emissions durability requirement for all Euro 6 engines of up to 700,000 km or seven years for the largest vehicles.
  • Further improvements to the engine’s On-Board-Diagnostic (OBD) system performance.
  • The adoption of new, world-wide ‘transient’ and ‘steady-state’ test cycles including cold-start and normal-running temperature components which are designed to more closely reflect what a vehicle does in real-life.

With the introduction of the Euro 6 regulation this is the first time a ‘World Harmonised Test Cycle’ has been used for engine certification.


Volkswagen’s Code of Conduct

highlights the Company’s responsibility for;

“continuous improvement of the environmental tolerability of our products” and for “making ecologically efficient technologies available throughout the world.”23

It is a Group-wide guideline that outlines the strategy for corporate global and local responsibility and for which each individual is equally responsible for compliance.

The Code of Conduct states that to achieve the goal of being number one among the world’s automobile manufacturers, they must:

  • Act responsibly, for the benefit of our customers, shareholders, and employees,
  • Consider compliance with international conventions, laws, and internal rules to be the basis for sustainable and successful economic activities,
  • Act in accordance with our declarations; and
  • Accept responsibility for our actions.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR VOLKSWAGEN?

(The Volkswagen Scandal  – Written by Britt Blackwelder, Katherine Coleman, Sara Colunga-Santoyo, Jeffrey S. Harrison and Danielle Wozniak at the Robins School of Business, University of Richmond. http://scholarship.richmond.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1016&context=robins-case-network)

The “Dieselgate” scandal exposed unethical and deceptive practices at Volkswagen, and hurt its brand image around the world.

New CEO Matthias Muller stated that his “most urgent task is to win back trust for the Volkswagen Group – by leaving no stone unturned and with maximum transparency.” 62

Among efforts to repair relationships with the key stakeholders affected by the scandal, the company has withdrawn its diesel cars from the market and is working through plans for recalling the affected vehicles that are already on the road.

The company has also undertaken a number of initiatives to repair important relationships with customers and dealers.

These attempts include reimbursement to dealers for holding inventory and new dealership incentives connected to sales of gasoline­ powered cars.v”

For customers affected by the scandal, Volkswagen has issued a “Goodwill Package” including gift cards, credits for services or products, and a three-year extension of roadside assistance. Perhaps this is enough.

Volkswagen’s major competitors have also been caught doing socially irresponsible or even reprehensible things in the past, and seem to have weathered their storms fairly well.

  • Should this current crisis, although unfortunate, be allowed to distract the company from other critical issues, such as rapidly advancing technologies?
  • What is the bigger picture with regard to the future of Volkswagen?
  • What should its strategic emphasis be moving forward?
  • And should the company completely abandon diesel technology?
  • In short, how can this highly successful company get back on the path towards becoming the best auto manufacturer in the world?

DEFEAT DEVICE SOFTWARE

Dan Carder, West Virginia University’s director of the Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions said his lab first discovered anomalies in test correlations in early spring of 2013.

https://youtu.be/hOTKIZgppbs 

AUDI/VW PR advertising slogan was “Truth in Engineering”

Industry experts said the car industry faced a crisis similar to recent banking scandals.

Professor of Industry at Aston University, David Bailey, said;

“the government, manufacturers and regulators needed to act on the results of the study“.
“I liken this to the Libor crisis in banking. There is a fundamental question of confidence in the industry,” Bailey said.
“Clearly the testing regime needs to more accurately reflect the real world.
That is not happening at the moment, not just in terms of nitrogen oxide but fuel efficiency. There is also an issue of accountability and openness for manufacturers in terms of what they put into public domain.”


My conclusion

Of course emission standards should be as low as possible but they should also reflect economic and technical realities.
Under present standards car manufacturers have been able to exploit glaring loop holes in regulations, no doubt the extremely powerful Automotive lobby is active in ensuring the loop holes exist?
It’s clear that the VW tricks represent only the tip of the ice berg.
Other manufacturers have also exploited the same loop holes, BUT, for some reason they have not been punished by the media and authorities.
For example; the real emissions of many Ford, GM, Land rover, Volvo, Fiat and Renault cars are many times the permitted levels.

The first task therefore HAS to be European Court action and legislation to close all existing loop holes!
The result would be substantial reduction in emissions.

Lowering the emission limits will obviously also help but closing the loop holes will have a bigger impact.

Many (but not all) of the latest Euro 6 specification diesel engines will already meet the proposed emission standards.

The technology is already there but if, by exploiting loop holes, manufacturers can save a few hundred £ or € hand improve market share and a competitive edge – They will DEFINITELY do it. Especially in the EU as they won’t receive US level fines if their caught!

Theresa May wants the UK to quit the European Convention on Human Rights.

Any questions?


UK security agencies unlawfully collected data for 17 years, court rules Investigatory powers tribunal says secret collection of citizens’ personal data breached human rights law

The judges said both the collection and holding of personal data breached people’s right to privacy. The judges said both the collection and holding of personal data breached people’s right to privacy.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/17/uk-security-agencies-unlawfully-collected-data-for-decade

British security agencies have secretly and unlawfully collected massive volumes of confidential personal data, including financial information, on citizens for more than a decade, top judges have ruled. The investigatory powers tribunal, which is the only court that hears complaints against MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, said the security services operated secret regimes to collect vast amounts of personal communications data, tracking individual phone and web use and large datasets of confidential personal information, without adequate safeguards or supervision for more than 10 years. The ruling said the regime governing the collection of bulk communications data (BCD) – the who, where, when and what of personal phone and web communications – failed to comply with article 8 protecting the right to privacy of the European convention of human rights (ECHR) between 1998, when it started, and 4 November 2015, when it was made public. It said the holding of bulk personal datasets (BPD) – which might include medical and tax records, individual biographical details, commercial and financial activities, communications and travel data – also failed to comply with article 8 for the decade it was in operation until its public avowal in March 2015.

“The BPD regime failed to comply with the ECHR principles which we have above set out throughout the period prior to its avowal in March 2015. The BCD regime failed to comply with such principles in the period prior to its avowal in November 2015, and the institution of a more adequate system of supervision as at the same date,”

the ruling concluded. The House of Lords is debating the final stages of the investigatory powers bill – the snooper’s charter – which will put mass digital surveillance activities on a clear legal footing for the first time since the disclosure by Edward Snowden of the extent of state surveillance in 2013. Chaired by Mr Justice Burton, the IPT ruling revealed that security agency staff had been sent internal warnings not to use the databases containing the vast collections of information to search for or access details “about other members of staff, neighbours, friends, acquaintances, family members and public figures”. It also revealed concerns within the security agencies about the secretive nature of their bulk data collection activities.

In February 2010, a Mr Hannigan, then of the Cabinet Office, wrote:

“It is difficult to assess the extent to which the public is aware of agencies’ holding and exploiting in-house personal bulk datasets, including data on individuals of no intelligence interest … Although existing legislation allows companies and UK government departments to share personal data with the agencies if necessary in the interests of national security, the extent to which this sharing takes place may not be evident to the public.”

The campaign group Privacy International said the ruling showed that despite this warning internal oversight failed to prevent the highly sensitive databases being treated like Facebook to check on birthdays, and “very worryingly” on family members for “personal reasons”.

The IPT ruling included the disclosure from an unpublished 2010 MI5 policy statement that the BPDs included material on the nation’s personal financial activities. “The fact that the service holds bulk financial, albeit anonymised, data is assessed to be a high corporate risk, since there is no public expectation that the service will hold or have access to this data in bulk. Were it to become widely known that the service held this data, the media response would most likely be unfavourable and probably inaccurate,” it said.

The legal challenge centred on the acquisition, use, retention and disclosure by the security services of BCD under section 94 of the Telecommunications Act 1984 and the use of BPDs under a variety of legal powers. The tribunal noted the highly secretive nature of the communications data regime, saying “it seems difficult to conclude that the use of BCD was foreseeable by the public when it was not explained to parliament”.

Mark Scott, of Bhatt Murphy Solicitors, who was instructed by Privacy International in the legal challenge, said: “This judgment confirms that for over a decade UK security services unlawfully concealed both the extent of their surveillance capabilities and that innocent people across the country have been spied upon.”

Millie Graham Wood, legal officer at Privacy International, said:

“[The ruling is] a long overdue indictment of UK surveillance agencies riding roughshod over our democracy and secretly spying on a massive scale.”

She said the use of BCD carried huge risks. “It facilitates the almost instantaneous cataloguing of entire populations’ personal data. It is unacceptable that it is only through litigation by a charity that we have learnt the extent of these powers and how they are used.

“The public and parliament deserve an explanation as to why everyone’s data was collected for over a decade without oversight in place and confirmation that unlawfully obtained personal data will be destroyed.”

Privacy International said the judgment did not specify whether the unlawfully obtained, sensitive personal data would be deleted.

A government spokesperson said the ruling showed that the regimes used to hold and collect data since March and November 2015 respectively were legal.

“The powers available to the security and intelligence agencies play a vital role in protecting the UK and its citizens. We are therefore pleased the tribunal has confirmed the current lawfulness of the existing bulk communications data and bulk personal dataset regimes.

“Through the investigatory powers bill, the government is committed to providing greater transparency and stronger safeguards for all of the bulk powers available to the agencies.”

A further hearing of the case is scheduled for December to consider a number of outstanding issues.

Alistair Carmichael, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said the ruling showed “mass spying on the British people should be replaced with targeted surveillance of specific individuals suspected of wrongdoing”.

He added:

“Allowing the state to collect endless amounts of personal data is not just a gross invasion of privacy, it is a waste of precious resources. Every pound the government spends monitoring people’s emails, text messages and calls is a pound taken away from community policing.”

 

 

War by media and the triumph of propaganda

Why has so much journalism succumbed to propaganda?

Why are censorship and distortion standard practice?

Why is the BBC so often a mouthpiece of rapacious power?

 

full transcript: http://johnpilger.com/articles/war-by-media-and-the-triumph-of-propaganda

 

Why has so much journalism succumbed to propaganda? Why are censorship and distortion standard practice? Why is the BBC so often a mouthpiece of rapacious power? Why do the New York Times and the Washington Post deceive their readers?

 

Why are young journalists not taught to understand media agendas and to challenge the high claims and low purpose of fake objectivity? And why are they not taught that the essence of so much of what’s called the mainstream media is not information, but power?

 

These are urgent questions. The world is facing the prospect of major war, perhaps nuclear war – with the United States clearly determined to isolate and provoke Russia and eventually China. This truth is being turned upside down and inside out by journalists, including those who promoted the lies that led to the bloodbath in Iraq in 2003.

 

The times we live in are so dangerous and so distorted in public perception that propaganda is no longer, as Edward Bernays called it, an “invisible government”. It is the government. It rules directly without fear of contradiction and its principal aim is the conquest of us: our sense of the world, our ability to separate truth from lies.

 

The information age is actually a media age. We have war by media; censorship by media; demonology by media; retribution by media; diversion by media – a surreal assembly line of obedient clichés and false assumptions.

 

This power to create a new “reality” has building for a long time. Forty-five years ago, a book entitled The Greening of America caused a sensation. On the cover were these words: “There is a revolution coming. It will not be like revolutions of the past. It will originate with the individual.”

 

I was a correspondent in the United States at the time and recall the overnight elevation to guru status of the author, a young Yale academic, Charles Reich. His message was that truth-telling and political action had failed and only “culture” and introspection could change the world.

 

Within a few years, driven by the forces of profit, the cult of “me-ism” had all but overwhelmed our sense of acting together, our sense of social justice and internationalism. Class, gender and race were separated. The personal was the political, and the media was the message.

 

In the wake of the cold war, the fabrication of new “threats” completed the political disorientation of those who, 20 years earlier, would have formed a vehement opposition.

 

In 2003, I filmed an interview in Washington with Charles Lewis, the distinguished American investigative journalist. We discussed the invasion of Iraq a few months earlier. I asked him, “What if the freest media in the world had seriously challenged George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld and investigated their claims, instead of channeling what turned out to be crude propaganda?”

 

He replied that if we journalists had done our job “there is a very, very good chance we would have not gone to war in Iraq.”

 

That’s a shocking statement, and one supported by other famous journalists to whom I put the same question. Dan Rather, formerly of CBS, gave me the same answer.  David Rose of the Observer and senior journalists and producers in the BBC, who wished to remain anonymous, gave me the same answer.

 

In other words, had journalists done their job, had they questioned and investigated the propaganda instead of amplifying it, hundreds of thousands of men, women and children might be alive today; and millions might not have fled their homes; the sectarian war between Sunni and Shia might not have ignited, and the infamous Islamic State might not now exist.

 

Even now, despite the millions who took to the streets in protest, most of the public in western countries have little idea of the sheer scale of the crime committed by our governments in Iraq. Even fewer are aware that, in the 12 years before the invasion, the US and British governments set in motion a holocaust by denying the civilian population of Iraq a means to live.

Those are the words of the senior British official responsible for sanctions on Iraq in the 1990s – a medieval siege that caused the deaths of half a million children under the age of five, reported Unicef.

The official’s name is Carne Ross. In the Foreign Office in London, he was known as “Mr. Iraq”. Today, he is a truth-teller of how governments deceive and how journalists willingly spread the deception.

“We would feed journalists factoids of sanitised intelligence,” he told me, “or we’d freeze them out.”

The main whistleblower during this terrible, silent period was Denis Halliday. Then Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations and the senior UN official in Iraq, Halliday resigned rather than implement policies he described as genocidal.  He estimates that sanctions killed more than a million Iraqis.

What then happened to Halliday was instructive. He was airbrushed. Or he was vilified. On the BBC’s Newsnight programme, the presenter Jeremy Paxman shouted at him: “Aren’t you just an apologist for Saddam Hussein?”

The Guardian recently described this as one of Paxman’s “memorable moments”. Last week, Paxman signed a £1 million book deal.

The handmaidens of suppression have done their job well. Consider the effects. In 2013, a ComRes poll found that a majority of the British public believed the casualty toll in Iraq was less than 10,000 – a tiny fraction of the truth. A trail of blood that goes from Iraq to London has been scrubbed almost clean.

Rupert Murdoch is said to be the godfather of the media mob, and no one should doubt the augmented power of his newspapers – all 127 of them, with a combined circulation of 40 million, and his Fox network. But the influence of Murdoch’s empire is no greater than its reflection of the wider media.

The most effective propaganda is found not in the Sun or on Fox News – but beneath a liberal halo. When the New York Times published claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, its fake evidence was believed, because it wasn’t Fox News; it was the New York Times.

The same is true of the Washington Post and the Guardian, both of which have played a critical role in conditioning their readers to accept a new and dangerous cold war. All three liberal newspapers have misrepresented events in Ukraine as a malign act by Russia – when, in fact, the fascist led coup in Ukraine was the work of the United States, aided by Germany and Nato.

This inversion of reality is so pervasive that Washington’s military encirclement and intimidation of Russia is not contentious. It’s not even news, but suppressed behind a smear and scare campaign of the kind I grew up with during the first cold war.

Once again, the evil empire is coming to get us, led by another Stalin or, perversely, a new Hitler. Name your demon and let rip.

The suppression of the truth about Ukraine is one of the most complete news blackouts I can remember. The biggest Western military build-up in the Caucasus and eastern Europe since world war two is blacked out. Washington’s secret aid to Kiev and its neo-Nazi brigades responsible for war crimes against the population of eastern Ukraine is blacked out. Evidence that contradicts propaganda that Russia was responsible for the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner is blacked out.

And again, supposedly liberal media are the censors. Citing no facts, no evidence, one journalist identified a pro-Russian leader in Ukraine as the man who shot down the airliner. This man, he wrote, was known as The Demon. He was a scary man who frightened the journalist. That was the evidence.

Many in the western media haves worked hard to present the ethnic Russian population of Ukraine as outsiders in their own country, almost never as Ukrainians seeking a federation within Ukraine and as Ukrainian citizens resisting a foreign-orchestrated coup against their elected government.

What the Russian president has to say is of no consequence; he is a pantomime villain who can be abused with impunity. An American general who heads Nato and is straight out of Dr. Strangelove – one General Breedlove – routinely claims Russian invasions without a shred of visual evidence. His impersonation of Stanley Kubrick’s General Jack D. Ripper is pitch perfect.

Forty thousand Ruskies were massing on the border, according to Breedlove. That was good enough for the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Observer – the latter having previously distinguished itself with lies and fabrications that backed Blair’s invasion of Iraq, as its former reporter, David Rose, revealed.

There is almost the joi d’esprit of a class reunion. The drum-beaters of the Washington Post are the very same editorial writers who declared the existence of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction to be “hard facts”.

“If you wonder,” wrote Robert Parry, “how the world could stumble into world war three – much as it did into world war one a century ago – all you need to do is look at the madness that has enveloped virtually the entire US political/media structure over Ukraine where a false narrative of white hats versus black hats took hold early and has proved impervious to facts or reason.”

Parry, the journalist who revealed Iran-Contra, is one of the few who investigate the central role of the media in this “game of chicken”, as the Russian foreign minister called it. But is it a game? As I write this, the US Congress votes on Resolution 758 which, in a nutshell, says: “Let’s get ready for war with Russia.”

In the 19th century, the writer Alexander Herzen described secular liberalism as “the final religion, though its church is not of the other world but of this”. Today, this divine right is far more violent and dangerous than anything the Muslim world throws up, though perhaps its greatest triumph is the illusion of free and open information.

 

In the news, whole countries are made to disappear. Saudi Arabia, the source of extremism  and western-backed terror, is not a story, except when it drives down the price of oil. Yemen has endured twelve years of American drone attacks. Who knows? Who cares?

In 2009, the University of the West of England published the results of a ten-year study of the BBC’s coverage of Venezuela. Of 304 broadcast reports, only three mentioned any of the positive policies introduced by the government of Hugo Chavez. The greatest literacy programme in human history received barely a passing reference.

In Europe and the United States, millions of readers and viewers know next to nothing about the remarkable, life-giving changes implemented in Latin America, many of them inspired by Chavez.

Like the BBC, the reports of the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Guardian and the rest of the respectable western media were notoriously in bad faith.

Chavez was mocked even on his deathbed. How is this explained, I wonder, in schools of journalism?

Why are millions of people in Britain are persuaded that a collective punishment called “austerity” is necessary?

Following the economic crash in 2008, a rotten system was exposed. For a split second the banks were lined up as crooks with obligations to the public they had betrayed.

But within a few months – apart from a few stones lobbed over excessive corporate “bonuses” – the message changed.

The mugshots of guilty bankers vanished from the tabloids and something called “austerity” became the burden of millions of ordinary people.

Was there ever a sleight of hand as brazen?

Today, many of the premises of civilised life in Britain are being dismantled in order to pay back a fraudulent debt – the debt of crooks.

The “austerity” cuts are said to be £83 billion.

That’s almost exactly the amount of tax avoided by the same banks and by corporations like Amazon and Murdoch’s News UK.

Moreover, the crooked banks are given an annual subsidy of £100bn in free insurance and guarantees – a figure that would fund the entire National Health Service.

The economic crisis is pure propaganda. Extreme policies now rule Britain, the United States, much of Europe, Canada and Australia.

Who is standing up for the majority?

Who is telling their story?

Who’s keeping record straight?

Isn’t that what journalists are meant to do?

In 1977, Carl Bernstein, of Watergate fame, revealed that more than 400 journalists and news executives worked for the CIA.

They included journalists from the New York Times, Time and the TV networks.

In 1991, Richard Norton Taylor of the Guardian revealed something similar in this country.

 

None of this is necessary today. I doubt that anyone paid the Washington Post and many other media outlets to accuse Edward Snowden of aiding terrorism. I doubt that anyone pays those who  routinely smear Julian Assange – though other rewards can be plentiful.

 

It’s clear to me that the main reason Assange has attracted such venom, spite and jealously is that WikiLeaks tore down the facade of a corrupt political elite held aloft by journalists. In heralding an extraordinary era of disclosure, Assange made enemies by illuminating and shaming the media’s gatekeepers, not least on the newspaper that published and appropriated his great scoop. He became not only a target, but a golden goose.

 

Lucrative book and Hollywood movie deals were struck and media careers launched or kick-started on the back of WikiLeaks and its founder. People have made big money, while WikiLeaks has struggled to survive.

 

None of this was mentioned in Stockholm on 1 December when the editor of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, shared with Edward Snowden the Right Livelihood Award, known as the alternative Nobel Peace Prize. What was shocking about this event was that Assange and WikiLeaks were airbrushed. They didn’t exist. They were unpeople. No one spoke up for the man who pioneered digital whistleblowing and handed the Guardian one of the greatest scoops in history. Moreover, it was Assange and his WikiLeaks team who effectively – and brilliantly – rescued Edward Snowden in Hong Kong and sped him to safety. Not a word.

 

What made this censorship by omission so ironic and poignant and disgraceful was that the ceremony was held in the Swedish parliament – whose craven silence on the Assange case has colluded with a grotesque miscarriage of justice in Stockholm.

“When the truth is replaced by silence,” said the Soviet dissident Yevtushenko, “the silence is a lie.”

It’s this kind of silence we journalists need to break.

We need to look in the mirror.

We need to call to account an unaccountable media that services power and a psychosis that threatens world war.

 

In the 18th century, Edmund Burke described the role of the press as a Fourth Estate checking the powerful. Was that ever true? It certainly doesn’t wash any more. What we need is a Fifth Estate: a journalism that monitors, deconstructs and counters propaganda and teaches the young to be agents of people, not power. We need what the Russians called perestroika – an insurrection of subjugated knowledge. I would call it real journalism.

 

It’s 100 years since the First World War. Reporters then were rewarded and knighted for their silence and collusion. At the height of the slaughter, British prime minister David Lloyd George confided in C.P. Scott, editor of the Manchester Guardian:

“If people really knew [the truth] the war would be stopped tomorrow, but of course they don’t know and can’t know.”

 

It’s time they knew.

 

Follow John Pilger on twitter @johnpilger