Archive for July, 2011


The interpretOr recently saw large advertisements in local ‘community’ newspapers for private asylum centre management provider, ‘Serco’. The copy describes this organisation as ‘Living, thinking, acting locally’…and the creative is a photo of a smiling, twinkling Serco employee with a caption that describes his passion for weekend hockey and an invitation to find out more about what a sweet guy ‘Graham’ is by going to http://www.youtube.com/sercoaustralia

How cuddly.

Examination of Serco’s 2010 financial results in their own annual report as follows:

Serco Group plc – 2010 Results 12 months to 31 December – profit before tax – £213.9 Million

% change YOY: 20.8%

The perspective of the interpretOr is that our community should also be presented with objective information about Serco, rather than the fiction of soft advertising that is attempting to humanise institutionalised misery for money.

HSU & inpublichands.com.au June emailer gives the Serco strap line/brand proposition “Bringing service to life” a whole new meaning…

“And a month ago we announced the discovery of a report by an independent UK inspectorate into a hospital in Scotland run by Serco. During  that inspection 6 of the 8 wards failed basic hygiene standards.

(More perspectives at  www.inpublichands.com.au)

Meanwhile, on a Boketese beach sits Ronald Dumsfeld. Fresh from the disgrace of dismissal, he is ‘regrouping’, Long Island Iced Tea in hand, chain-smoking Winston reds and barking into his satellite phone, like the mad dog that he truly is. Almost biting the pool waiter with his rage over a disappointing Hawaiian burger, he snarls… “Extra cheese, god damn you, and make it snappy…Harridan! what’s with those god damn socks of yours!?”

It was alleged that Dummy, in addition to his recent transgressions, is a good friend of the island’s autocratic, military dictator, Madeh Kikimongulat. Wondering at the moment if there’s anything in that? Funnily enough, it’s “election time” here soon too. Could Dumsfeld be taking more than just a stopover en route to Oz, and if so, just what is he up to?

When Dumsfeld was an assistant secretary at the State Department, back in ‘showbiz Ron’s’ eighties reign, incubating the present batch of rabid neo-cons, his domain included Boket and other areas within South East Asia. He certainly notched up the airmiles in his role as regional chief of police/arms sales and oil and gas procurement in his famed flared safari suit and stupendously gruff demeanour. In fact, ‘demeaning’ was and is mad dog Dumsfeld’s signature.

Although he avoided the slings and arrows, carpet bombing and general ugliness of the Vietnam campaign, Dumsfeld had never missed the opportunity to rally the troops. At that time, Kikimongulat occupied a similar, though more domestically focused, role as Minister of the Interior. ‘Brutish, narcissist’ was how many remembered him. Master of Bugger All speak with the General Electric Corp bigwigs, followed by a wind down harassing “unruly workers” in the country’s sweatshops. If island hopping, he’d bring a few along and toss them out of his aircraft. The smaller the island, the bigger the challenge for the oafish tyrant, but a direct hit on a rocky peninsula was often occasion for another Veuve and recording-studio sized line. Never sure whether the GE execs ever accompanied him on these sorties, but rumour has it that Dumsfeld was rather taken with the ‘archipelago’ game too, but demanded Wild Turkey as his accompaniment.

Hope the resort gets the next Hawaiian burger right, mused Ben Harridan. “Hey, I’m on assignment…err, Ron…and in the tropics – open toed sandals are actually much, much more functional with the accompaniment of socks. Even John and Janette agreed when we were on their final CHOGM. Heck, if I’m relaxed about ’em, then surely…”

Keith finished his snippet on the iPhone vs Gadaffi.

He then read this very irritating article in the right-wing national newspaper, The Caucasian, about Ronald Dumsfeld’s forthcoming visit to Melbourne, written by the bearded foreign editor, Ben Harridan. “Bloody Bush apologist, neo con…’mates’ with Bliar and mouthpiece to Toad of Toad Hall himself, that shell-suited walking flag with the glasses.”

Dumsfeld too still disturbed the hell out of Keith. Down with the flu a few months back, he’d re-watched House of Bush for the umpteenth time, but had pressed black+white on the remote when Dumsfeld was featured. He had then imagined that Dummy was speaking in German. One long segment on Guantanamo had cage shots interspersed with his demented justifications – snarling, arrogant, sociopathic, rimless spectacles….sweaty eyelids like fried bacon rinds.

Errr, it’s 2011 and Eichmann is alive and well and living in DC. Banality of Evil – again. Nothing banal about its’ consequences right now. Ask the orange cage men of Cuba.  Ohh, but you can’t…and neither can I.

“Now that brutish, neoCON bastard certainly deserves a good caking” muttered Keith as he suddenly realised that the solution to several of life’s particularly niggling problems lay in his fridge and flour tin…“I bake therefore I am”

Below Harridan’s swooning Dummy piece…a creepy looking, famous actor is trying to sell newspaper readers expensive watches, on the basis that he has this extraordinary hidden talent…the watch on his wrist, with its dials and buttons, is the signifier of this talent. Keith was thinking, “could it be timed Meccano construction …? Flying model airpl…

In following the debate, sorry make that the farce, surrounding the passing of the US budget I have gone to the Tea Party Policy paper, also known as “Alice in Wonderland”, for advice.

I would like your opinion on which quote best describes the situation?

1.

“Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said. ‘One can’t believe impossible things.’

I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. There goes the shawl again!”
— Lewis Carroll

2.

“No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time.”
— Lewis Carroll (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass)

3.

“Take care of the sounds and the sense will take care of itself.”
— Lewis Carroll (The Annotated Alice: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through The Looking Glass)

4.

“Yes, that’s it! Said the Hatter with a sigh, it’s always tea time.”
— Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland)

“How puzzling all these changes are! I’m never sure what I’m going to be, from one minute to another.”
— Lewis Carroll (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
5.
“When I used to read fairy-tales, I fancied that kind of thing never happened, and now here I am in the middle of one!”
— Lewis Carroll
6.
“Alice came to a fork in the road. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked.
‘Where do you want to go?’ responded the Cheshire Cat.
‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered.
‘Then,’ said the Cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.”
— Lewis Carroll
7.
“It would be so nice if something made sense for a change.”
— Lewis Carroll
8.

“In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.”
— Lewis Carroll (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)

9.

“Reeling and Writhing of course, to begin with,’ the Mock Turtle replied, ‘and the different branches of arithmetic-ambition, distraction, uglification, and derision.”
— Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland: Including Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass)

10.

“There is a place, like no place on earth. A land full of wonder, mystery, and danger. Some say, to survive it, you need to be as mad as a hatter. Which, luckily, I am.”
— Lewis Carroll

11.

“Well that was the silliest tea party I ever went to! I am never going back there again!”
— Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland)

Misinformation is the enemy of our society. Phone tapping and computer hacking is not the main problem with Australian media. The lack of objectivity, fairness and depth is.  In a recent trip to Indonesia, one of the most surprising and outstanding cultural differences I found was in the honesty of their major newspapers. My poor knowledge of Indonesian culture and media had been informed by news stories in our own press. I had expected a tame media cowed by the military and government. However the opposite was true as the newspapers vigorously pursued corrupt and incompetent members of parliament and had no fear of analysing the weakness of the President. All this was done without alarmist rhetoric or a partisan start-point.

Even more impressive is the way important issues are presented for discussion and the depth of information being provided to readers. Reading the Jakarta Post and the inserted China Daily has been a fascinating educational experience. A good example is a recent article by Economics Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz on the structural weakness imposed on the US budget by policies of the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party, and how the adoption of similar policies is exacerbating the economic chaos of struggling members of the European Community. The article cuts through the neo- conservative mumbo jumbo economics that is holding back progress here and abroad. The China Daily contained a comprehensive, highly informative, interesting and well researched feature on the economic impact of ageing on the countries of the region.

In stark contrast, there is shallowness and partisan viewpoint in Australian news-media that is both disappointing and alarming. Most time and space is given to trivia while important issues are rarely discussed in-depth by try-hard media figures for whom celebrity is more important than substance. Even the Australian Broadcasting Commission is moving down this path.

Rather than increasing understanding and adding meaning to our lives, our media sets out to distort the truth. Instead of analysis and reasoning we are given marketing propaganda backed up by shallow opinions. Invariably these opinions are laced with derisive and inaccurate school bully clichés like “Carbon Cate” to attack and label those who dare to express an alternative view. These clichés are chanted across publications and the broadcast networks like a deafening morning chorus of moronic cicadas, shocked that sun is coming up but having no understanding why it is once again appearing on the horizon.

The revered elder statesmen and women of the press paddle safely in the shallows of mediocrity. They appear on our weekend newspapers and television screens pontificating on issues after being spoon fed their lines by political spin doctors with whom they are far too close for our comfort. To further indoctrinate readers and viewers, we are harangued by sainted business leaders winging against some perceived threat to his short-term wealth. Any new ideas or concepts that challenge the current orthodoxy are treated with suspicion and usually ridicule. Criticism of these new concepts does not come from a basis of careful analysis, but instead it arises from ignorance and the fear of being moved out of an intellectual comfort zone.

Serious life threatening issues like climate change are not covered by journalists with some expertise or knowledge in the field, but by business and economics writers and by journalist members of the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), which is actually a lobby group for private industry posing as a scientific think tank.  However when these double agent journalists are confronted by an indestructible wall of scientific evidence there is a denial of the mainstream scientific view and a parade of views from cash for comment shock jocks, crackpot “experts” and bleating billionaires protecting their money piles and their right to pollute. While these same people laud Australian sporting heroes for being ahead of the pack, when it comes to business and the environment, being in front of the world is a sacrilege

It is clear that the intent of most publications and broadcasts is primarily to promote consumerism, push business interests, and to campaign against anything that threatens either of these. Any long-term sustainable proposal is put in the too hard basket by an industry lacking in principles and that has forgotten its true purpose.

Hacking is not damaging Australia; partisan, mean-spirited inane spin that is pumped out as information is.

John Whittingdale, the Conservative chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport select committee of the House of Commons (UK) is facebook friends with Elisabeth Murdoch, reveals The Independent. He’s also been a close pal of good ol’ Les Hinton, Murdoch’s right hand man of 40 years. Will they still be on first name terms tomorrow?

Christmas 2010, David Cameron had a festive lunch at the home of Rebekah Brooks,  also in attendance was her  then boss, James Murdoch…oh, and Elisabeth Murdoch and Matthew Freud too. Cosy…(see earlier interpretOr posts mid 2011)

June 2012 and Old Etonian, ex Carlton Communications PR man, David Cameron PM is before the Leveson inquiry.

Just how was that lunch, David Cameron?

In addition to Brooks’s arrest, Guardian and also Sunday Telegraph (London) are reporting that Scotland Yard investigating James Murdoch. UK PM, David Cameron, has had frequent and repeated meetings with them and other senior News figures, including Rupert Murdoch, and Andy Coulson (after the latter’s resignation as Cameron’s Director of Communications – whoopsee). There is also growing evidence cited by Reuters, CNN and other media, that the Chair of Tuesday’s Common’s Select Committee is a pal of Coulson’s…watch this space…

“She (Brooks) was arrested on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications, contrary to Section1(1) Criminal Law Act 1977 and on suspicion of corruption allegations contrary to Section 1 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906.” Metropolitan Police, 17 July 2011

Daily Telegraph (London) is reporting that David Cameron turning back in the air from South Africa to UK – there is growing speculation that he is very, very exposed…

(Oh, and why not Google ‘David Cameron, Matthew Freud and Elisabeth Murdoch’…where were they on Christmas Day 2010?)

Times Up?

“Early in 1982, ten months after he had taken over The Times and The Sunday TimesRupert Murdoch went to see the Prime Minister, Mrs Thatcher. They shared a problem: it was me. I was editor of The Times and Murdoch’s difficulty was how to dispose of me.”

 
  ‘Good Times, Bad Times’, Harold Evans (Weidenfeld & Nicolson Ltd, 1983)
 

Fast forward 30 years…it might be Rupert’s turn.

Harold Evans was a brave and conscientious editor of The Sunday Times when it was a great, compelling and fearless Fleet Street newspaper. Among his achievements are the creation and dynamic development of their investigative team, Insight. Using energy and talent on behalf of children stricken by latent effects of the toxic Thalidomide drug – a sleeping pill that pregnant mothers had used before the children were born, resulting in limbless babies and many hundreds with chronic deformities – the Insight Team exposed and challenged the pitiful compensation that families involved had received. It also sought to inform readers of the objective, evidence based realities of how the pharmaceutical company that manufactured and distributed the Thalidomide drug reacted to the terrible and delayed reaction of their monstrous and widely used pill. Within the scope of their investigation was intense examination and analysis of the legal machinations on this intergenerational disaster – the position of the Courts and the paucity of the advocacy on behalf of the prescribed poison’s victims. Evans and his staff were driven by the magnitude of their sense of professionalism and responsibility to society. They were acting solely in the public good and in the unadulterated pursuit of justice and recompense for suffering children and parents.

Fast forward 30 years and we’re at another turning point. The demise of The News of The World and the circumstances of its destruction are a continuation of the process that Murdoch set in motion back in ’82 with his acquisition of the Times broadsheets and subsequent dismissal of Harold Evans. That such towering newspapers succumbed to substantially diminished credibility, authenticity and authority was an incremental, and at times subtle, process. Murdoch had an agenda of intense engagement and promotion of both Thatcher in the UK and ‘showbiz Ron’ in the US, and Evans did not fit this mould, this new realpolitik. Would Evans have allowed the Insight Team to become cheerleaders for Milton Friedman and run away, unchecked corporate power? I think not.

Would Harold Evans have allowed The Sunday Times to obfuscate and mislead over Iran Contra and ignore the systematic destruction of the Roosevelt and Beveridge initiated social reforms in public health and education – defining elements of the social contract of the post WW2 era? Well, ask the victims of Thalidomide.

At one end of the chronology is analysis, context and enquiry; at the other…propaganda, churnalism and the stench of sleaze. Hope versus fear. We deserve the former.

“the revolution will not be televised” sung the late, great Gil Scott-Heron.

It will be on your iPhone, though.

© jfreos 

Gaddafi just doesn’t get it. Disconnected literally and metaphorically. The paucity of his awareness of this momentous shift in communications will be his undoing. His reasoning is “they’re all crazy”. But where are your clothes, emperor? All too recently rehabilitated and propped up again by the bastardly B’s – Bliar and Berlusconi, with their spooky and suspect Libyan shenanigans. Carnage in the present moment, meted out by Gaddafi’s interior troops and mercenaries; victims of Lockerbie lurking in the shadows of our consciousness.

The blindspot for Gaddafi today – the rapidly diminishing effectiveness of dictatorial social power dynamics in the face of increasingly ubiquitous digital media. Just before Christmas, a BBC correspondent reported from a busy Kabul street , describing the smart phone as “The Swiss Army Knife of the 21st C”. Only months later, change sweeping North Africa and the Middle East makes this pocket knife seem more like a sophisticated, nuanced battering ram – an animate object.

An antidote to tyranny.

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