How the news is weaponised by its corrupting influences

A fundamental element of a functioning democracy is a free press. However, due to the increasingly intimate relationship of the mainstream media with financial markets, banks, and politicians, the free-press is not so much the guardian of democracy, but rather the guardian of wealth and the establishment. The insidious betrayal of our free press is then compounded by the monopolistic ownership of our national broadcasters and the conflicts of interest that arise from various shareholders influencing coverage of certain topics to line their own pockets (i.e ITV and Sky). Moreover, to make things even more biased, the BBC, which is supposed to circumvent these shady influences, is habitually omitting news that would reflect poorly on the Conservative government (e.g. BMJ linking 120,000 deaths to austerity), and has a nasty habit of framing news, events, and people in ways that do not adhere to their mission of informing the public in an unbiased way. For these reasons, it is essential that Labour voters are aware of these vested interests and how the powerful manipulate the public by manufacturing outrage, setting the boundaries of debate, and sowing discord in the left leaning electorate.

Before outlining a propaganda model, it is necessary to evidence the claims made in my opening paragraph. The accusation that these broadcasters operate at the behest of the establishment interests is common and widely understood to be generally true. But, this assertion takes on a more concrete platform when addressing the major shareholders of each broadcaster. Below I will list each of the networks largest shareholders and then correlate the share price of a couple shareholders with political events to illustrate the impact of political decision making and why they care who gets elected.

I will begin with ITV;

ITV PLC Large Shareholders Nature of business Total number of shares or interests in shares
The Goldman Sachs Group Investment bank 843,943,939
Liberty Group Incorporated Limited Telecommunications 398,515,510
BlackRock Inc. Investment management 306,303,502
Amerprise Financial, Inc and its group Financial services 206,179,898
The Capital Group Companies Inc. Financial services 404,675,342

Obtained from ITV PLC accounts

The Goldman Sachs Group is the largest individual shareholder for ITV. Since the UK election and the US elections have resulted in Conservative victories (i.e. Republicans and Tories), the share price has steadily been climbing because they anticipate deregulation and corporate friendly policies which are the norm for conservative governments. However, Trump did something the financial sector was not anticipating on March 12th; he issued an executive order blocking the Goldman Sachs led takeover of Qualcomm by its Singapore-based rival Broadcom. As a result of this action, Goldman Sachs share price appears to have dropped 88.21% from 266.70 to 19.47. The reason for this momentary depreciation is not known, but it seems unlikely not to have been in some way linked to the executive order (Since publication the previously hyperlinked site has altered the graph and no longer shows the depreciation highlighted. However, here is a link to a tweet of the original data).

Additionally, The Capital Group Companies Inc. having a significant number of shares in one of our national broadcasters is problematic for a couple reasons. The first is because Theresa May’s husband works for the group as a ‘relationship manager’ and is at the very least disconcerting. The second, and perhaps most alarming, is that Capital Group Companies is the second largest shareholder in BEA Systems and Lockheed Martin. Both of which are weapons manufacturers that saw their share prices rally as UK-US-France attacked the alleged chemical weapons site in Syria.

And now Sky;

SKY PLC Large Shareholders Nature of business Total number of shares or interests in shares
Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc.* Media 672,783,139
UBS AG Investment management 118,214,436
The Baupost Group LLC Hedge fund 81,650,880
Société Générale Gestion SA Fund management 54,090,720
HSBC Global Asset Management (UK) Ltd. Asset management 51,398,615
BNP Paribas Asset Management France SAS Asset management 49,850,900
BlackRock Investment Management (UK) Ltd. Asset management 41,335,605
The Vanguard Group, Inc. Investment management 32,682,094
Legal & General Investment Management Ltd. Investment management 25,011,357
Norges Bank Investment Management Investment management 23,411,457

Obtained from Market screener

BlackRock is not the largest shareholder of Sky PLC, but due to its UK base, it is most relevant to this article. As well as being a significant shareholder in Sky, they are also one of the largest shareholders in BEA Systems (3rd to Capital Group Companies).

Therefore, as significant shareholders in our only main national broadcasters and shareholders in our weapons manufacturers, both Capital Group Companies and BlackRock can influence coverage of the recent Syrian airstrikes and drum up public support for them, while also profiting from their significant shares in BEA Systems after eight ‘Storm-Shadow’ missiles hit an alleged chemical weapons facility, each of which costing the tax payer £790,000 – totalling £6.32 million.

The appearance of a conflict of interest is enough to warrant serious suspicion regarding the motives of these investment companies, but this suspicion of influencing coverage for war profiteering is not without correlational evidence. Two instances immediately spring to mind. First, for example, when Sky News cut short Major-General Jonathan Shaw, formerly a senior officer of the British Army, in mid-sentence while he was casting doubt on the government’s narrative on the alleged Syrian government gas attack in Douma.

For context, the news reporter asked if the Russian denials about the government’s responsibility for the alleged Novichok poisoning would warrant parliamentary approval for UK intervention in Syria. This is setting the boundaries for acceptable discussion (i.e. ‘yes’ or ‘no’), but the former officer defies the attempt and instead responds by saying ‘Quite apart from all that, the debate that seems to be missing from this is… What possible motive could have triggered Syria to launch this chemical attack at this time in this place?’ He goes on to state that even Joseph Votel, Commander of United States Central Command, conceded that Bashar Assad ‘has won the war’, and that Trump had recently announced the US’ intentions to pull its troops out of the conflict. He was then cut off by the presenter saying ‘I am very sorry, you have been very patient for us, but we do need to leave it there,’ before going to adverts.

The second example concerns Kay Burley’s interaction with Craig Murray, Britain’s ex-ambassador to Uzbekistan. In an interview for Sky News, Burley was extremely combative and needlessly impolite to Murray while he was voicing reasonable concerns regarding the Skripals. Moreover, Murray pointed out that the video aired on Sky News was heavily edited and they intentionally cut it down because the effort to discredit him was not going well. Craig Murray posted the original video on his blog.

All this correlational evidence suggests that there could be some sort of higher up influences pulling the strings, but it also highlights the possibility that the same influences could influence coverage of Corbyn. A Labour government under Corbyn will govern in the interests of those who voted for Labour and regulate these companies that have and continue to profiteer from manipulating the public into endless taxpayer funded wars. Additionally, it is worth contemplating how when we attack other countries, no one ever asks where the money comes from. This question appears to be reserved for spending that benefits ordinary citizens, not millionaries.

Unlike privately owned companies like ITV and SKY,the BBC is publicly owned but the accusation of being an establishment propagandist can be maintained. However, unlike the overt hyperbolic propaganda in the establishment press, the BBC is a more nuanced and subtle proponent of establishment interests and operates on two levels.

The first, for instance, is that despite having the resources (tax payer funded) to fund independent investigations and not being beholden to advertisers’ or shareholders’ interests, they rely on the profit driven free-press to set the agenda, despite the previously discussed shadowy interests and the well documented corruption and criminality of corporate media (e.g., phone hacking, Iraq, etc.). This is not living up to their mission of being fair and impartial. If they were to truly be impartial, they would cover the very popular left-wing independent news sites such as Skwawkbox, The Canary, Evolve Politics, The People’s News, and The Prole Star. Many will scoff at this suggestion and dismiss these sites as left wing trash, but we in independent media are driven by informing the public and not profit. I, for instance, have written a fair few articles and received about £40 in total, alongside working part-time at a supermarket – perhaps I am more representative of the people’s interests than millionaire investment bankers.

The second level is lying through omission. The example that displays this is the explicit choice not to report on the very popular song ‘Liar Liar’ leading up to the General Election. The song topped Amazon’s listing for songs downloaded in Britain and it reached No.2 in Apple’s iTunes UK chart despite receiving no airplay from radio stations. The BBC said, ‘We do not ban songs or artists, however our editorial guidelines require us to remain impartial and the UK is currently in an election period so we will not play the song.’ The song is an innovative, and factually accurate, expression of journalism that I can only envy and hope one day the written word can carry so much weight – not to mention the fact that all proceeds were donated to food banks and other charities. However, the BBC had no issue plastering the airwaves with Corbyn sat on the floor of a train in the build up to the GE, or the anti-Semitism rhetoric of the right-wing press during the local elections. If they were truly impartial, they would have aired the song and discussed it giving both sides the opportunity to present their case.

Since the snap election, Labour, under Jeremy Corbyn has awoken a wave of youth participation in politics. While Corbyn is not the only progressive socialist within Labour, he certainly is the driving force behind much of Labour’s new found support, which brings us to the propaganda model used by the establishment and why they are determined to discredit and humiliate Corbyn:

Note, this article will focus on anti-Semitism but accusations of Russian or communist leanings are also potent weapons of political destruction, but these can only be exploited if the current news cycle is dominated by Russia coverage (e.g., during the Skripals poisoning).

The propaganda model in 4 steps

1) Manufacture some sort of outrage regarding an otherwise innocuous event in a national paper. Events or topics related to Judaism have proved effective.

This accusation is an excellent political device because it elicits a visceral response by tapping into current or historical events that are forever present in the collective human psyche. In other words, the accusation anchors the debate as far to the right of the political continuum and exploits genuine tragedy for corrupt political intent. The vehicle for such a story is likely going to be in a Murdoch paper such as The Sun, but it can appear in any of the Establishment press. The effectiveness of this is due to the national reach of these papers and the de facto assumption by the Establishment that these profit-driven enterprises deserve national attention.

2) Wait for national broadcasters to address the story so as to reach a larger and more interactive audience.

*Enter the BBC, ITV, and Sky News*

Because of the de facto supposition that the voice of publications like The Sun is credible and worthy of discussion, Sky News, ITV, and the BBC present the story to the nation and discuss the story with one person from Labour and one from Conservative’s to debate the veracity of the story. However, notice the blatant echo chamber that is being created and largely ignored. For instance, Sky News is owned by Murdoch, who also has a significant stake in ITV, and the BBC acts as a subtle propagandist for the establishment – which Murdoch has in his pocket. Therefore, the story that was planted and inflated by the establishment press is being validated by the same corporate interests, but in more formal and respectable institutions.

3) Divide and conquer.

Due to social media, the issue forces those who don’t read the establishment press (i.e., the left) to respond to the initial story. However, because the story is now in the mouth of respectable ‘journalists’, it takes on a more concrete and authoritative tone.
The left is notoriously self-destructive and will likely fall into these traps:

  • Take the bait and devote all political energy towards refuting the accusation (i.e., get distracted from current events)
    ‘look at the shiny object’
  • Admit fault just to avoid any potential ‘flak’
    ‘we are sorry for any harm caused by our actions and while we deny them, we are sorry’
  • Turn on each other
    It’s not anti-Semitic’
    ‘let’s just put it to bed and avoid any bad coverage’
    ‘NO! This will embolden those with false accusations to continue’

4) Keep the chosen topic in the cycle non-stop for at least 2 weeks so as to cognitively link Corbyn to the accusation. Reintroduce the story into the establishment press in run-up to elections and repeat the cycle; also viable when politically toxic legislation or events are getting a lot of coverage.

Due to the nature of the initial ‘scandal’ there is very little to actually report on. Therefore, instead of discussing the actual event at the origin of the story, the news cycle is then dominated by the voices of those professing moral outrage (i.e., Jewish people) and hyperbolic vitriol (e.g., Alan Sugar photo-shopping Corbyn next to Hitler). However, only the voices of certain Jewish people are taken seriously and elevated in the public forum. These are often members of the establishment with a lot of political (e.g., Lord Sacks – see appendix) and financial influence (e.g., Lord Sugar – see appendix). Note, political and financial influence is the criteria set out at the beginning of this analysis to mark those of the establishment, and usually the fact that they are Jewish is not relevant. However, their heritage is made relevant by the press and used to push a narrative of antisemitism and making out like they are spokespeople for the entire Jewish community, despite the large number of credible Jewish people who disagree. This is made evident by the voices of non-political or financially influential Jewish people not being elevated in a similar manner (e.g., Jewdas, Noam Chomsky).

 

The best propaganda is that which, as it were, works invisibly, penetrates the whole of life without the public having any knowledge of the propagandistic initiative – Goebbels.

 

Things could be about to get worse – The Cairncross Review

It is no secret that print media is a declining industry which is accelerated by the rise of digital media. This decline is emblematic of the capitalist mantra that the Conservative’s live and die by. However, rather than leaving this to free-market forces and letting online digital media takeover, the Cairncross Review – commissioned by the government – is thought likely to recommend that the tax payer foot the bill to ensure billionaires such as Rupert Murdoch and Lord Rothermere can keep infecting the country with divisive propaganda. Quite tellingly, mention of the review in the establishment press has been rather moot. To be clear, while the government cuts social spending to the NHS and these papers demonise those seeking benefits, it seems that they are suggesting handing out millions in corporate welfare. Additionally, the brazen hubris of a suggestion of a taxpayer funded bailout to these media barons who largely do not pay any tax is unconscionable.

This is all under the guise of protecting ‘quality journalism’ in the era of fake news. The review did not take into consideration very popular independent media sites previously mentioned, which can only equate to the government, and the reviewer, deeming these sites to be lacking professionalism, quality, and likely to be mediums for the propagation of fake news – and recently referring to such independent platforms as ‘the disrupting influence of online platforms on the press industry’. ‘Disrupting’ in the sense that they offer a counter-narrative to the establishment business elites. However, one would think that if the government was truly concerned about fake news and the societally corrosive impact it had, they would have intervened after the Iraq war which was based on faked ‘evidence’ of WMDs and resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians and thousands of UK and US armed forces (and billions in profits to weapons manufacturers and those investing in these companies). The problem isn’t fake news, but rather that they are losing control of their money-making machine and with it their ability to control the narrative of current events.

It is also important to point out that the legacy (read establishment) press are perhaps the last supporters of the establishment classes, and that by subsidising these ‘failing’ industries, they are in effect ensuring a steady stream of free propaganda that they needn’t report as campaign contributions – since they, the Conservatives, have been implicated in election fraud recently. Moreover, a quick look at the composition of the national newspaper alliances and daily circulation illustrates the motives behind why the Conservative government is assessing options on how to save print media.

National paper Publisher Political alliance Daily Circulation (2018)
The Sun News UK Conservative 1,545,594
Metro Daily Mail and General Trust ‘Neutral’ 1,475,372
Daily Mail Daily Mail and General Trust Conservative 1,343,142
London Evening Standard –          Evgeny Lebedev (63%)

–          Daily Mail and General Trust (24.9%)

–          Justin Byam Shaw (7%)

–          Geordie Greig (5%) DMOE

Conservative 888,017
Daily Mirror Reach plc Labour 583,192
The Times News UK Conservative 440,558
Daily Star Northern & Shell Conservative 391,998
The Daily Telegraph Telegraph Media Group Conservative 385,346
Daily Express Reach plc Conservative 364,721
i Johnston Press Centrist 257,223
Financial Times Nikkei Inc. Conservative 189,579
The Guardian Guardian Media Group Labour 137,839
Daily Record Reach plc Labour, unionist 134,087
City A.M. Conservative 90,569
The New European Archant Europeanist 22,731
Labour Conservative
855,118 5,639,524

 

Of the 15 main national newspapers, the bias is starkly in favour of the Conservatives, and even those that are traditionally Labour are still owned and operated by those expressing establishment interests (i.e., Investment and financial services). In other words, likely to oppose Labour under Corbyn. Additionally, considering the bulk of the national press has the interests of the establishment at heart, then our national broadcasters (which, as outlined earlier, are also owned by investment and financial services) are selecting stories that are largely establishment/Conservative talking points and downplay coverage of things like the culpability of the 2008 financial crash (i.e., the same people who are major shareholders in print news and broadcast networks).

Once again, the proverbial ‘money tree’ has escaped its immaterial non-existence just in time to save the skin of the establishment – heaven forbid it to be used to help those suffering from this all out class warfare.

As detailed, the mainstream media operate as a guardian of wealth and this is because they are owned and operated by wealthy interests. They have been gunning for Corbyn ever since he gained the leadership of the party and pushing the anti-Semitism narrative is not so much an example of their morality, but rather the strongest chance they have of subduing our socialist anti-Establishment agenda.

Clarification on the topic of antisemitism

Preferably, I would end this article here. However, because of the topic of anti-Semitism, I would risk being labelled an anti-Semite and it would be foolish of me to not elaborate on the broader context of the accusations and how the media are intentionally ignoring the nuances of the issue.

Difference between newsworthy Jews and non-newsworthy Jews

Often, but not always – their stance on Israel.

A Zionist is a person who adopts a particular political ideology that believes in the development and protection of a Jewish nation state (Israel), whereas being Jewish is a religious affiliation – though non-religious Jews are still classed as Jewish via their heritage.

Due to the idiocy of racists in the far right, however, it is true that they often use Anti-Zionist rhetoric as a cloaked way of being Anti-Semitic. But, it is also true that Israel has been pushing to conflate criticising Israel with anti-Semitism. For example, in 1973, Abba Eban, an Israeli politician, advised the American Jewish community that criticisms of the policy of the state of Israel were Anti-Semitic, Jews who criticise Israel are suffering from a neurotic self-hatred, and non-Jews needed to be condemned for anti-Semitism if they’re critical of the state of Israel.

People do not have the right to hate someone because of their heritage, but they do have the moral obligation to critique policy and actions that violate international law. However, under the new ‘non-legally binding’ working definition of anti-Semitism put forward by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), some criticism of Israel, especially to do with its founding, would fall under the definition of anti-Semitism. In other words, silencing genuine policy concerns by hiding behind the very real evil of anti-Semitism.

This new definition has caused a lot of pseudo-controversy in the media and political spheres and Corbyn’s rejection of the Israel clauses are being portrayed as a rejection of the UN bill of human rights. However, the media has largely ignored the fact that it has been widely criticised by groups such as the ACLU and Jewish Voice for Peace. Moreover, it was also criticised by an all-party Select Committee for the UK Parliament earlier this year. The definition is too vague and allows it to be used to silence those supporting the rights of Palestinians.

 

The history of the Israel-Palestine conflict is long and beyond the scope of this article. However, the current situation we are in is one in which one group of people are oppressing another. The international community is overwhelmingly in agreement that there should be a two-state solution (i.e., a Palestinian state and an Israeli state). However, for geopolitical interests the US refuses to join the world in their condemnation of Israel and subsequently allows the far right government to continue oppressing and murdering occupied Palestinian’s– along with donating around $60,000,000,000 in military aid over 20 years to one of the most developed nations in the world, while ignoring much poorer Muslim nations genuinely in need of life-saving aid. Additionally, the US has pulled funding from the UN for Palestinian aid which further disenfranchises those suffering under Israeli authoritarian rule.

In a recent ray of light, however, a recent UN report concluded that ‘Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole.’ U.N. Under-Secretary General and ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf said the report was the ‘first of its type’ from the U.N. and that it ‘clearly and frankly concludes that Israel is a racist state that has established an apartheid system that persecutes the Palestinian people.’

The report was authored by Richard Falk, a former U.N. human rights investigator for the Palestinian territories. Before leaving his post as U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories in 2014, Falk said Israeli policies were comparable to colonialism, apartheid, and ethnic cleansing.

Rima Khalaf has now resigned after the UN had pressured her to withdraw a report accusing Israel of apartheid over its treatment of Palestinians – further demonstrating the concerted effort to silence criticism of Israel.

As well as the oppression occurring within the state of Israel, Israeli lobbyists have influence in foreign affairs aim to promote views friendly to Israel.

In a stunning documentary, Al Jazeera exposed the activities of Israeli embassy officer Shai Masot, and how he plotted to ‘take down’ democratically elected officials, and worked with pro—Israel lawmakers in the Labour Party who exaggerated and faked anti-Semitism in the party, amid plots and coup attempts against leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The exaggerated and faked anti-Semitism was levelled at Jean Fitzpatrick – a Labour party member – by Joan Ryan who is an MP and Chairperson of the Labour Friends of Israel group. At the Labour party conference, Jean Fitzpatrick approached the Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) stall which was headed by Joan Ryan when the alleged episode occurred. Fitzpatrick was interested to know how the group intended to promote a two state solution when the Israeli government continues to expand the settlements into the occupied territories. Joan Ryan avoided answering the question and instead just parroted meaningless slogans.

Before continuing, allow me to explain what a two state solution is advocating for. Supporters of this believe that a peace deal that is based on the 1967 national boundaries is the most viable way to establish peaceful co-existence. However, continued violation of international law by expanding occupation has made an independent Palestinian state virtually impossible to achieve.

After Ryan avoided and ignored the genuine concerns of Jean Fitzpatrick, she chose to abruptly end the conversation and go on to blow her nose and disregard a Party members concerns. After Ryan’s rude and dismissive demeanour, Fitzpatrick went on to say ‘You’ve got a lot of money, you’ve got a lot of prestige in the world’ and that being a member of LFI can open a lot of doors for people and went on to say ‘A friend of mine’s son’s got a really good job at Oxford University on the basis of having worked for Labour Friends of Israel’, to which Ryan shut her down and called it an anti-Semitic trope. After leaving the stall, Ryan reported Fitzpatrick to the Party because of ‘anti-Semitic harassment’ because Fitzpatrick said ‘join you lot and you get into Oxford or you get into working in a bank’ – which is categorically false, but it didn’t stop the press from capitalising on it and reporting it as fact. Moreover, Ryan ‘convinced’ her parliamentary assistant, Alex Richardson, to report the incident. Undercover video recording finds that he didn’t actually think anything anti-Semitic was said, but he said he was ‘sure there were undertones’ of anti-Semitism.

In response to the documentary, Israeli officials accused it of being biased and anti-Semitic. However, Ofcom ruled that the documentary was ‘factually accurate, correctly observed rules on fairness, impartiality and privacy, and was not anti-Semitic. The documentary comes in 4 parts (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4)

So when Corbyn and the left complain about Israel, it is not like we are just fabricating nonsense in some sort of veiled anti-Semitic attack. We have good reason to oppose Israeli policy due to its actions to oppress and kill Palestinians.

Israel has the right to exist. However, the way it is governed needs to change, and the Palestinian people, just as much as their Israeli counterparts, deserve the right to self-determination and Statehood.

‘Never again’

It is understandable that people are vigilant over even the slightest hint of anti-Semitism, but never forgetting is about what can happen when the most vulnerable in society are marginalised based on stereotypes and racism. However, in recent times, Jewish people are no longer vilified in the same way they were throughout pretty much all of documented history – this is not to say that anti-Semitism is extinct or that there aren’t still Jews being persecuted to this very day. But, thankfully, we no longer have the Daily Mail stating things like ‘The way stateless Jews from Germany are pouring in from every port of this country is becoming an outrage.’ It is also worth pointing out that Lord Rothermere was a friend of Mussolini and Hitler, and even went as far to praise the Nazi regime’s accomplishments in an editorial, which was subsequently used as Nazi propaganda. In the editorial, Rothermere predicted that ‘The minor misdeeds of individual Nazis would be submerged by the immense benefits the new regime is already bestowing upon Germany’ minor misdeeds being violence against Jews.

However, as time has progressed, the far right tabloids have focused on a new sect of vulnerable people to vilify – Muslims.

It is an absolute travesty that the Daily Mail and others lionised fascist leaders and vilified the desperate people fleeing Nazi persecution, but it is perhaps even more egregious that we vilify the millions of Muslims fleeing their home countries largely because of illegal Western intervention that has devastated their countries (while lining the pockets of investment banks, weapons manufacturers, and media moguls) and taken upwards of 4 million civilian lives.

Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party are against all forms of racism, especially those of the powerful elite – whether they are Jewish or not.

Although this article may seem to have gone off on a tangent, due to the nature of the topic at hand I felt it was necessary. The goal of this article was to inform Labour voters of the shadowy interests of the mass establishment media that have for too long dictated the lives of normal working-class people, and anti-Semitism is just the latest weapon the Establishment are using because they are terrified of the socialist movement that is taking British politics by storm.

How the rise of Sweden’s Far Right will leave the nation with a troubling dilemma

Sweden is holding its national general election on the 9th of September and with election day fast approaching, millions of Swedes will be considering to vote for the radical right-wing Swedish Democrats.

Political analysts and the media are worried that the Swedish Democrats may grow to become the second-largest party in the Riksdag, Sweden’s Parliament.

Opinion polling for the general election shows that the Social Democrat Party (SAP) are frontrunners. Followed closely by the Swedish Democrats and the conservative Moderate Party (MP).

The rest of the parties that are represented in the Riksdag are polling at 9% and below.
Polls predict the worst parliamentary election for the SAP in their history for over a century, following the trend of social democratic parties across Europe, only Portuguese and British left wing parties have escaped the decline.

The success of the Swedish Democrats will surely be riding on the wave of radical authoritarian, nationalist and anti-immigration politics that has swept throughout Europe. However, the SAP may be powerful enough to keep their influence, even if considerable, outside of government.

This, though, comes at the cost of a strong or united government.

The polls indicate that there are a number of outcomes that are not at all favourable for the political establishment.

For a start, the Swedish Democrats may become a kingmaker for the next government. Most parties have tended to avoid working with the Swedish Democrats, because of their Neo-Nazi roots. Their success in the election may work to soften that antagonism from rival parties.

A consequence of the Swedish Democrat’s stronger power may compel centre-party and right-wing parties, like the MP, to consider forming a government with them. Or it could force the SAP and the MP (the left and right-wing) to unite in a coalition. Simply because they want to keep the Swedish Democrats out of government.

Parties from opposite sides of the political spectrum that unite to form a coalition government often come to weak compromises on key issues. Also, forming a government to keep one particular (major) party out of government sets a weak political mandate and undermines the credibility of the parties in power. However, if necessary, it might be better than giving the Swedish Democrats political legitimacy.

To give Swedish Democrat MP’s top positions in government creates the space for politics to become a little more radical.

And right-wing.

It might seem unfair for Sweden to bear such a burden, but Sweden will have an important role in the next few years, as the circumstances of this election may very well be seen in other countries.
The radical right is only becoming bolder, like a malignant tumour. And we are seeing increasingly that the threat to democracy comes from within European countries.
The way Sweden deals with the Swedish Democrats, France with their National Front and Germany with the AfD, will set precedent for future countries who battle with authoritarian, populist parties driven primarily by fear.

It’s time for the West to put lives of citizens in Yemen above profits back home

The Civil War in Yemen is in its third year and is no closer to coming to an end. According to the UN,  the Saudi led coalition is engaged in active war crimes against Yemeni civilians, from bombing hospitals, markets, funerals, weddings, farms, to even bombing schools. And the worst part is, we’re supporting and arming them.

Theresa May’s government has been quick to condemn alleged wrongdoings by the Syrian government against civilians. She however fails to condemn the Saudi government killing Yemeni civilians. The key difference? She’s complicit in the deaths of those in Yemen.

Five billion pounds worth of British-made missiles and bombs have been sold to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen, and recently 40 children were killed by a Saudi warplane. When confronted with this reality the response from the Prime Minister is “we have a historic and important link with Saudi Arabia” The Foreign Minister? Links with Riyadh help “keep the streets of Britain safe”.

A UN report released on Tuesday catalogues abuses including rape, torture, disappearances and “deprivation of the right to life” during the three-year Yemeni conflict.

In a section of the report, the three experts said the Saudi-led coalition routinely failed to consult its own “no-strike list” of more than 30,000 sites in Yemen, including refugee camps and hospitals. They also said the Saudi air force had failed to cooperate with them about its targeting process.

As a result of the Saudi blockade, aid organizations like Save the Children will be out of food and medicine stocks in the next two to three months. If left untreated some 20 to 30 percent of children with severe acute malnutrition will die every year.

It should be remembered that famines usually don’y kill people because there is no food at all. What usually happens is that the food becomes too expensive for the poor to purchase. This situation now exists in Yemen and obviously the Saudi blockade, by princes who are obviously getting three square meals a day, is driving up the price of food for Yemenis.

They are conducting this war with British, American, and French-made arms. They are conducting it with western military training and advice, including training pilots, overseeing airstrikes, and advising on targets. Twenty-two million Yemenis need aid. Eight million are at risk of starvation. Efforts to curb the humanitarian crisis have been hampered by the Saudi-led coalition’s blockade of ports, which has been partially eased to allow UN aid ships to bring food supplies.

Mark Goldring, Oxfam Chief Executive, said:

“In the midst of the world’s worst cholera epidemic on record and with the country on the brink of the worst famine in recent years, the UK needs to do more than talk tough – it needs to exert real pressure and take action. As the country responsible for drafting UN Security Council resolutions on Yemen, the UK should be ready to step up international pressure on Saudi Arabia to persuade them to lift the blockade and on all sides push for peace. The Government should stop authorizing arms sales which are fuelling the war in Yemen. It is a shameful contradiction that the UK is allowing for profiting out of people’s suffering. If the Prime Minister’s pleas fall on deaf ears, sanctions on the Saudi-led coalition should be introduced to force them to face up to their actions, and to prevent countless more people becoming innocent victims of the conflict, starvation and disease.”

What the British public can do is to write to their local MPs, let them know you do not support this war. And most importantly support a party which opposed to such barbarism, such as Labour. These are vital steps that must be taken by all.

With this Tory government profiting from this disastrous war, it is very unlikely that it will do anything to stop it, so vote in a government that will.

Sterlite Industries: The under reported truth

A copious number of copper smelting plants owned by Vedanta were started in the outskirts of the Thoothukudi district and many other villages. After a decade of increased cancer rates, breathing issues and polluted groundwater the people of Tuticorin have been coming forward to show their frustrations and demand a change.

Western media outlets have failed to report on this recurring issue despite the fact that there is an increased number of deaths and illness’ in the villages of India, thousands of people within the districts of India are being affected by these plants. Many people have failed to understand the intensity of the issue,  it is difficult to know or pinpoint which factory, in particular, has caused this outbreak. There has been no official proof that these cases are due to Sterlite.

According to Senior correspondent journalist Smitha from ‘The Quint’ who I recently interviewed on this issue. She states that “there are several factories and power plants who could also be responsible. But villagers and the people of Tuticorin have been believing that Sterlite is to be blamed, these accusations are based on the visible harmful effects they have seen near the factory. The main contention here is, in spite of so many complaints, why has the state government not taken any initiative to conduct a health survey to find the cause.”

Whilst journalists like Smitha continue searching for the truth and helping those that are affected the government has failed to do even the most basic of surveys to find the cause of this perpetual cycle of death and illness. Even with the continuous protests and marches, there was no immediate action.

The most recent march was on March 24th 2018 where thousands of frantic and angry citizens gathered with their loved ones on the streets of this south Indian coastal town in a bid to close down the Vedanta Sterlite’s copper operations. An article by Nityanand Jayaraman explains the long history of gas leaks, discharging chemicals in water bodies and scrutinises the beginning times of ‘Sterlite’ which was 1992.

Smitha explains the process of change

“So, in January, people went to the district Collector to submit a petition asking for the factory to be shut down. Their petition was accepted but they didn’t get any response. So they decided to protest for 100 days. People of all religions and castes would come together from even the outskirts to voice their dissent. The 100th day was supposed to mark their victory as they marched towards the Collectorate to submit a  petition asking for the factory to be shut down . But all hell broke loose when the police opened fire in order to control the crowd, but that killed over 14 and injuring at least 250. This only angered them more. Their agitation and wails grew louder that the government was forced to order a shutdown of the factory. “ said Smitha

After a frustrating time of protests and demanding, the factory was at last shut down. It was reported by Smitha that The district Collector and Superintendent of Police were transferred and new officers were appointed in their place. Since they have taken an oath, they have cleaned up all water bodies, installed new water pump systems, ensure water lorries sent at regular intervals.

Although, it was a glory to see the factory shut down this now means an increased process of copper and huge losses. Sterlite being one of the largest producers in the country means that everyone that was once depended on them will suffer and possibly lose out on profit due to the increased prices. It has been argued that if the state government been cautious and ensured the factories worked along the norms specified, people wouldn’t be facing this issue.

Smitha says that it “Shows the lethargic attitude and irresponsibility of the government.”

Vedanta’s response to the closure seems to ignore the recent protests and demands of the community, in an interview with BT economy said: “The closure of Sterlite Copper plant is an unfortunate development, especially since we have operated the plant for over 22 years in most transparent and sustainable way, contributing to Tuticorin and the state’s socio-economic development. We will study the order and decide on the future course of action,”

How The Global Media Lost Its Way

Institutions and presses that held power to account have become part of unaccountable power, and now only tough reform can reverse the damage.

Chomsky calls it the age of manufactured consent. Surrounded by propaganda, unable to determine motives behind selective presentation of content on an illusory spectrum of media choice, we yet depend on mainstream news to edify, inform our knowledge and sensibility. That cartel-like centralised media authority over discourse may be criticised by some on the ultra left, but for many it is still worth having, with a totemic and actual role holding the horrors of power to account. And sometimes they do. Op-ed policy? Political discourse? Let the experts handle it.

The result is that the big conglomerates, Newscorp and The Guardian group dominating the fore, increasingly modulate the national psyche and the information, stories and investigations it is privy to; they ostensibly articulate the truth in a deceit ridden politics. But that cliche is precisely that and one that has spawned critical complacency on the part of the public and self-appraisal on the part of the press.

In all truth publishing is as wont to be corrupted by dirty agendas as politics. The indictment was most obvious at the News of the world  following The Guardian’s exposure of systematic interception as a policy which targeted vulnerable adult’s and dead children’s mobile phones. The story of press ethics, however, runs deeper, recreating indictments against adversarial outlets across the opinion spectrum, incriminating the whole industry. Publishers are not interested in public interest value but the vacuous flux of the “newsworthy.” Since income streams from ad revenue dwarves budgets managed publicly it is the vested interests of corporate benefactors that triumphs in the boardrooms, op-eds, opinion, features and news. A disgrace for a fourth estate founded as a check and balance against corruption and no doubt a source of global shame.

The barons of spin are experiencing unprecedented power of persuasion. Internet echo chambers which serve a tension between empowering lively exchange of diverse ideas and reinforcing dogma are serviceable for the self promotion of elite propaganda. For example the liberal Guardian and radical Intercept too frequently abscond from dispassionate appraisals of public interest stories and spoon feed ideological sermons, joining their tabloid adversaries in giving the megaphone to ideology over ideas incorruptible by agendas. The fourth estate idea against institutional corruption caught on in part because it prevented the powerful from abusing the public in impunity which is, now, systemic in the media itself, simultaneously a setter of hidden agendas alloyed to wealthy interests.

This scandal runs deeper. It asks fundamental questions firstly of the purpose of the media as a functionary of free speech and constitutional integrity, but also about the validity of defunct news institutions. Are they hand in hand with power, doing more harm than good? Are they corrupt? Are they hurting a lively exchange of diverse ideas? There are plenty of independent minded commentators like John Pilger who argue that corrupt power and its propaganda is enhanced by large amounts of obscure capital flowing in to authoritarian boardrooms. Concurrently, dependence on corporations for their existence reduces their effectiveness speaking truth to power of a corporate state, in the interests of citizens.

That is precisely what happened after the post-2016 election Russiagate scandal. The rumours flew in and took over the discourse, with vague conspiracies bypassing critique of the real collusion between the CIA and Russian agents, atop the intervention of UK spies in foreign elections. The Russia conspiracy industry created a vacuum that led to a diversion from the truth shadow fronts operate globally and not on simple national polarities, abusing and undermining the public’s intelligence. They were there to save us from Russian malpractice, they told us, while they guilty of gross misspeaking. Mueller’s disclosures have only partly indicted Russia. Thirteen alleged agents are a symptom of Russia’s powerlessness: Western news, its management, its dissemination, its hidden hand, is deliberately, or under duress, inflating the threat of Facebook advertisements published only after the election.

Far away from the op-ed in a radical corner of the Internet is a website marking the spot where a cryptographer and team of researchers communed to found Wikileaks. Their aim was to empower, protect whistleblowers shining a bright light on corruption caused largely by deregulated neoliberal governance exported globally through hyper interventionist military adventurism, the playtime of venture capital. After Iraq, through Libya, Syria, Wikileaks flooded the data commons with robust documentary evidence from the epicenters of global injustice. Along with Snowden, Manning, Ellsberg and a legion of socially conscientious citizens, Wikileaks never doubted that sabotage is solidarity where telling the truth is treason.

Yet along the way from the Glasnost moment when they arrested international attention, attitudes changed. After the chase for Assange was enacted and long after Sweden dropped its charges outlets in both the liberal and radical media had to revise their belief that his organisation could prevent abuse and malpractice in states under the totalitarian spell. The left expanded its personal fallacious attacks more comprehensively than the right; The Guardian content to speculate about personal hygiene. Ironically its pledge “Facts are free/sacred” was bastardised in an endgame to write the obituary the CIA always wanted.

“The (CIA) mission was to destroy the “trust” that was Wikileaks’ “centre of gravity” with threats of “exposure [and] criminal prosecution” says veteran dissident John Pilger, who has served speaking truth to power in dozens of conflict zones. The Iraq War of 2003, waged by US-UK led NATO forces, between them, Sadaam’s Baathist regime, and insurgent separatists triggered bloodshed from a moral abyss. Evidence of US forces opening fire in a premeditated attack on innocent, unarmed, peaceable journalists in a leaked video was a turning point not only for Pilger and Assange but the whole international community. It was televised warfare only unredacted, and seemed to start a new era of dissent: 20 years after the Samizdat press was successful, a new mood for Glasnost from inside the American empire swept across the world.

“Wikileaks has exposed the way America dominates much of human affairs, including its epic crimes” says Pilger. By the time the “wholesale” murder of civilians became public, Assange was a senior threat to the war cartel. Their operations were riskier, no longer securely secret. So they turned their siege on him. Rape, so often a weapon of war, was cynically and reprehensibly weaponised as propaganda. And when the UN motioned his persecution illegal and of high humanitarian concern much of the media joined the UK state in disregarding its expertise, judgement and auditing role, a common trait of states that abuse human rights. His crime was to rehabilitate the media’s role of telling the truth. He uncovered the effacement of democracy and human rights at western hands in cahoots with murderous cartels and guerillas. When he submitted his evidence to the media, he was fired.

Political lying is the world’s worst kept secret. Since Orwell, standards have not improved. The scale of abuse has only worsened. Citizen journalism is present with the overwhelming task of undercutting old privilege network discourses, but with technology in our hands, we can confine them to, back them in to their castles, and release truth from the trebuchet. Where media fails its duty to report responsibly, we must write and research for ourselves.

The Benefits of the Ministry of Defence highlighted in annual report

There is plenty of debate surrounding defence. There are some who want Trident scrapped. Some want its budget to be cut. Those in the ‘defence community’ want a larger budget. I intend to avoid that debate.

But on 20th July, the MoD published their Annual Report and Accounts 2017-18. In it, they highlighted their achievements over the past year, including the staggering deployment of 2,100 personnel to support hurricane relief in the Caribbean. The Report also documented that military aid to civil authorities was provided on over 130 occasions including in response to the chemical attack in Salisbury, and the fires on Saddleworth Moor. In the past year alone, the UK has doubled the number of troops it deploys on UN Peacekeeping Missions. We have also offered 2,240 International Defence Training places to other nations.

Most staggeringly, Daesh has lost more than 98% of territory they controlled in Iraq and Syria in the past 3 years, thanks – in large – to the leadership the UK has shown in the coalition and our training of 72,000 Iraqi Security Forces.

Three Army battalions totalling up to 1,200 soldiers remain on 24-hour standby on an enduring basis and can be called upon by Government Departments, should The Cabinet Office require emergency support (flooding, fires, a public sector strike).

In 2017-18, Explosives Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams responded to 448 Improvised Explosive Device Disposal incidents and 1,882 Conventional Munitions Disposal Incidents, including a high profile incident when a legacy World War II munition was found in the Thames near the City Airport in February 2018. These are incidents too severe to be dealt with by the Police Force.

The UK’s contribution to the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is now at full strength of 380 troops, with engineers in Malakal and Bentiu, and a field hospital in Bentiu. This means that, in the last year, the UK has now more than doubled its commitment to UN peacekeeping with deployments to South Sudan.

After Hurricane Irma, the UK deployed 2,100 military personnel and transported 109 tonnes of aid. The MoD worked alongside other government bodies to ensure the re-electrification of Anguilla within three months of Irma passing in September 2017.

The UK currently has 85 Defence Attachés deployed around the world, supporting fragile governments and agencies with advice and decades of experience.

Bilateral relationships with Germany and France have undoubtedly been strengthened, with several high profile personnel exchanges and exercises. Most recently, the UK has supported the UN and France in Mali by deploying 3 Chinook helicopters to support the counter terrorism operation there. Similarly, in Columbia, the UK supported the UN Mission monitoring the implementation of the FARC peace process.

Whatever one may think of defence in the UK, it is difficult to avoid the overwhelming contributions it has made not just domestically, but to other countries too. Sure, we followed the US into the Iraq War. Sure, some people think politicians lie about defence. But the vast majority of the stigmas people have against it originate from poor political decisions. Indeed, we cannot forget that the personnel employed by the defence sector are outstanding, courageous and a constant symbol of the indomitable British spirit. It is for this reason, then, that they must continue to be appreciated for their invaluable service.

 

 

Why protectionism must not overwhelm Brexit

The free trade, globalised world order since the end of the second world war has always had the United States at its epicentre. Yet this world order is under attack; consumed by Trumpist protectionism, support for international trade is a bright spark amidst the darkness.

Such brightness was provided this week, as the largest bilateral trade deal in history created a glimmer of hope for global interconnectedness. The parties in question were the EU and Japan; eliminating tariffs on almost all goods traded between the two, it covers almost a third of global GDP and 600 million people. European exports to the Land of the Rising Sun are worth £75bn annually, with tariff removal further expanding the market. European cheese, wine and handbags, traditionally subject to large tariffs at Japanese borders, are predicted to see large sales increases as Japanese consumerism extends to the European mainland.

This deal is symbolic. As the US heightens its trade wars with China and the EU, it has withdrawn its role as torchbearer of the globalised world for the past 70 years. America’s retreat into its shell, promoting its economic interests by removing itself from the world stage, has enabled other powers to emerge as the bastions of free trade. As Europe and Japan rise to the forefront, the US is an anomaly amongst the West – in its reluctance to sustain the world order that it itself created.

America has long been an avid supported of an open world. The free market, laissez-faire economy created by the Founding Fathers in 1783 had free trade at its forefront – albeit superseded by protectionism in the 19th century. The post war multinational organisations – IMF, World Bank and WTO – all had the United States at their epicentre. The Bretton Woods system, creating a fixed exchange rate where all currencies were priced in relation to the dollar, inextricably tied America to international trade. Trump is a stark detachment from American history.

Dire consequences are to follow, for both American consumers and for businesses; as Jean-Claude Juncker remarked at the unveiling of the bilateral trade pact, “there is no protection in protectionism, and no unity in unilateralism”. Globalisation is not a cure for all ails – Trump is the voice of the dissatisfied swathe of unemployed Rust Belt industrialists who have seen the multinationals and emerging markets soar ahead, stripping them of prosperity. Yet trade wars with China and the EU – the two largest trading bodies in the world after the US – will only prove damaging to these workers through increased prices for basic goods, and a reduced disposable income.

However, Trump’s unilateral action is not only indicative of a protectionist world order, but also a shifting pattern in international relations. The Cold War era was defined by the US, armed with its free trade Western allies in Europe, against the Soviet bloc. Such had been maintained under the Obama era, yet the words of the President at the Helsinki summit with Vladimir Putin indicate a shift towards Trump’s own ideals. His refusal to attack Russia for its 2016 electoral interference, together with his relaxed stance on North Korea – declaring that there is “no rush” for denuclearisation – suggest a relaxation towards the dictators. Siding with Russia on its illegal electoral meddling that potentially changed the course of American history lies in sharp contrast to his attempt to shake the fragile British government, heralding Boris Johnson’s potential as a “good Prime Minister” as Mrs May struggles to unite a fractious Conservative Party. Mr Trump is definitely not an avid supporter of these nations, as his previous comments towards the North Korean dictator have proven. Yet the world has shifted from capitalism against communism to open against closed. By addressing concerns with traditional enemies at the expense of shunning his democratic allies, Trump’s construction of a new era of international relations is none that the liberal Founding Fathers would have envisaged.

The global powers have divided into two camps; the champions of free trade and liberal democracy, emblazoned on the politics of Japan and the EU, against the protectionist nationalism of America – with China inching towards the former economically.

Yet severed from the unwavering globalised will of Europe, this is a world in which post-Brexit Britain must establish its place. The anti-immigration rhetoric of the Hard Brexiteers stands in contrast to their desire for global trade deals free from Brussels’ regulatory hurdles – whilst they wish for goods to be freely exchanged around the world, labour must remain chained to where it is born. The Chequers deal for a Brexit appears in turmoil as Conservative splits force May into a harder hand in the negotiations, yet it seems likely that Britain will emerge from the Brexit process more distant from European trade and more hostile to immigration. The Liberal thinkers who reshaped policy on the British Isles during the Industrial Revolution – with Adam Smith, David Hume and David Ricardo all advancing the government’s commitment to a free trade doctrine – would be horrified at the reversal from this ideal that Brexit symbolises.

As the international debate on globalisation heightens, Britain now has the opportunity to determine where it stands in the new world order. Whilst the Little Englanders attempt to close off our borders, the globalist forces in the government must reign supreme. Toshimitsu Motegi, Japan’s Minister for Economic Revitalisation, stated that “At a time when protectionist measures are gaining steam globally, the signing of the Japan-EU deal today will show the world once again our unwavering political will to promote free trade”. Britain need not overburden itself with the special relationship, and must instead forge ties along the globalist line that British politicians endorse. Whilst only a minor international trade player in a vast global arena, Britain’s admission to the closed world would further enhance the nationalist cause. The EU and Japan have proven that the globalised world remains alive; Britain must join and strengthen it, or risk fading into obscurity.

 

Trump’s Visit: A Strain on the Special Relationship

As Air Force One glided over the Atlantic, a grandiose reception was being prepared. Touching down on British land on 12th July, London’s streets had begun to brim with dissent.

The stone fort of Windsor Castle was not enough to protect the President from the wave of protests that unfolded, with the inflatable Trump dominating both Parliament Square and global news headlines. Thousands lined the streets of London, demonstrating against bigotry, racism and economic nationalism. In January 2018, YouGov found that only 11% of Brits believed that he had been a good President. Yet whilst public outrage at the President’s politics has strained the ‘special relationship’, the biggest test of all comes from The Donald himself.

The President, visiting British shores to strengthen the ‘special relationship’, seems only to have further undermined it. Mrs May’s claims of an “open Britain” hang by a thread following the President’s comment that she has “killed” all chance of a US free trade deal. A pillar has thus fallen from the government’s Brexit White Paper; America would be unwilling to enhance its trade network whilst Britain remains inextricably tied to Europe, though Trump did flip flop later on this issue.

Yet Mr Trump went one further; not only undermining Brexit, but the pillars of the government itself. The hard Brexiteers are fleeing the Cabinet to form a revolutionary attack on Mrs May, spearheaded by Boris Johnson. Trump has endorsed such fragility in the government sphere, supporting the Little Englanders in their quest to bring down the government. In his interview with The Sun, he seemed to deride May’s premiership by heralding Boris Johnson’s potential to make a “great Prime Minister”.

The President’s antagonism towards European bureaucracy is not a new phenomenon. It is difficult to reconcile his ‘America First’ rhetoric with the European Union; nationalism is superseded by integration. Hostility is largely centred around the EU’s superpower, Germany. Trump labelled them “currency manipulators” for using a cheap euro to boost German automobile exports to the US, following up on his mercantilist ideology with a proposition to drop the 25% tariff exemption on EU steel.

Europe is a project that Trump hopes will crumble. In a stark contrast to Obama’s exclamation that the EU is “one of the great political and economic achievements of human history”, integrating a war-torn continent into a united system for stability and prosperity, Trump’s first ever meeting with a foreign politician was with the face of Brexit himself: Farage. Describing the EU as “a vehicle for Germany”, Trump’s reasoning for Brexit becomes ever more clear: a country leaving the shackles of foreign bureaucracy to create its own path in the world, evident is his animosity towards the post-war global institutions that the US itself is a part of – NATO, WTO and the UN. Multinational organisations reduce national autonomy, and thus ideology – more so than a dislike of the Germans – is the cause of his intent for a hard Brexit.

Trump is a friend of Brexit. Yet he must also be a friend of British political stability. The incongruence of the two means he must choose whether to prioritise the stability of a key strategic ally, or the fervent nationalism that runs through his veins. Strains on the special relationship have been a common theme since WW2; Wilson refused Lyndon B. Johnson’s request for British troops in Vietnam, and even Thatcher criticised her political companion Reagan following his invasion of Grenada. The UK-US alliance is here to stay – yet if Trump continues to value his ideology above British stability, further tensions are likely to follow.

UK survives NATO Summit despite Tump’s threats

The 2018 NATO Summit was without a doubt the most hotly anticipated summit in recent years. Donald Trump’s Twitter antics had sparked fear among NATO supporters that Trump might abandon it altogether.

However, with the UK’s defence spending currently at 2.10%, Trump appeared content with the UK. It should be noted that when publishing defence spending as a % of GDP, the MoD rather unusually include their pensions payouts, in an attempt to inflate the figure. Nonetheless, when NATO do their own independent audit, the UK remains compliant with the 2% baseline.

Notably, the UK is the only country other than the US that also spends 20% of it’s budget on equipment, the NATO requirement.  When portrayed graphically, the result is stark.

Germany came off worst from the summit, with Trump complaining of Germany’s natural gas reliance on Russia, asking ‘What good is NATO if Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars for gas and energy’. 35% of Germany’s natural gas is imported from Russia, with Trump evidently worried about the leverage that affords Russia over Germany.

Indeed, Trump reportedly threatened countries (with the UK excluded from this threat) that if they didn’t pay 2% by January 2019, “we are going to do our own thing”. He reportedly singled out the UK as a country to follow.

Trump did make some rather unusual claims however, notably “Prior to last year where I attended my first meeting, it was going down, the amount of money being spent by countries was going down and down very substantially, and now it’s going up very substantially.”

However, In real dollars, European spending rose from about $254 billion in 2014 to $275 billion in 2017. That’s over an 8 percent rise in three years.

He also, rather typically, contracdicted himself on a number of occaisons. He stated at a conference on Day 1 “I was not in favor of that [Iraq] war. I was very much against that war”. But, when asked if he supported the looming invasion during a 2002 interview with Howard Stern, Trump said “Yeah, I guess so.”

Apart from Trump’s threat, it was a surprisingly uneventful summit. The UK however did not publish their Modernising Defence Programme (MDP), despite Mark Sedwill saying it would last month. The official line was the report was delayed. However, I’ve been told Downing Street never wanted to publish, instead preferring to wait until the Autumn spending review.

The report would have outlined the UK’s plans on how defence should evolve, and is expected to outline our strategy for cyber and EMW (Electro Magnetic Warfare) security.

The Head of the EPA’s Crimes against the Environment

Scott Pruitt’s tenure as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been mired in controversy since the start, beginning with his nomination by President Trump. Several environment groups and unions protested the appointment, as did former EPA workers in a letter penned to Senators. Other Republicans privately expressed reservations against Pruitt for his disdain of federal regulations, which stem from his strong belief in state rights.

Since Scott Pruitt took office he has attracted controversy when he doubted the credibility of climate change, arguing there is “tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact” of human activity on the Earth’s atmosphere.

This is in contradiction to the established scientific consensus on climate change and the purpose of the EPA’s regulations and laws, causing some anxiety among environmentalists.

Pruitt also began the process of rubbing out the previous administration’s regulations, beginning with breaking away Obama-era environmental regulations on car and truck emissions.
The rollbacks have received pleasant reactions from automobile manufacturers, including support from the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, but environmental activists warn of the safety and environmental consequences of cutting back these regulations.

Gina McCarthy, former Administrator of the EPA under President Barrack Obama, says Pruitt’s proposals do not have any “factual basis”.

The EPA found in 2016 that chlorpyrifos, a pesticide used to kill bugs, to be unsafe at all levels and very harmful to children. The EPA discovered that the probable consequences of chlorpyrifos included “potential for neurodevelopmental outcomes”.

Pruitt refused to ban chlorpyrifos, despite insistence and petitions from the Natural Resources Defense Council and Pesticide Action Network North America. Earthjustice have sued the EPA on April 5th, 2017 due to its inaction over chlorpyrifos.

Earlier this year, the EPA curbed regulations on clean water. Pruitt claimed his aim was to take “significant action to return power to the states and provide regulatory certainty to our nation’s farmers and businesses”.

The protections granted to clean water is essential to 117 million Americans who rely on it for drinking and the wildlife living in wetland areas.

The Clean Water Act, the act that Pruitt seeks to revoke, is even considered to be incomplete by some environmentalists, far from needing to be replaced, others argue it needs to be expanded.

Peter Gleick, a member of the US National Academy of Science and the president-emeritus of Pacific Institute, speaking in the Guardian, says federal regulations relating to water pollution are “increasingly outdated in the face of new threats from unregulated contaminants, worsening climatic changes, failing water infrastructure and direct political assault”.

Among the first things the EPA did when Pruitt was announced administrator was to cut newly-introduced regulation removing mercury from urban wastewater, however, a lawsuit led by the Natural Resources Defense Council caused the EPA to walk back on it proposed cuts.

The EPA has been forced by courts to reimpose regulations regarding methane gas flares and toxic wastes from power plants when it had attempted to repeal regulation in those areas.