Following the release of the latest
crime figures, BBC1 Ten O'Clock News (19/7/07)
announced: "Crime is at a historically
low level..." This was a first for
BBC1 news. As we've indicated in detailed
complaints to the BBC, their headline announcements
have, for years, cherry-picked rises in crime.
The headline was followed by an informative
report by Mark Easton which dispelled some myths
about violent crime. He pointed out, for example,
that "half of it [violent crime]
involves no injury, and it includes crimes like
bigamy". He also commented on the example
of a 77 yr-old woman, petrified of crime: "Isabel's
chances of being involved in a violent attack
are extremely remote, but that's not what she
reads in the papers".
For details of our previous complaints on BBC
News, and our past correspondence with Mark
Students force HSBC into rethink
One of the 'big five' banks, HSBC, was "forced
into a dramatic U-turn" after a web-based
protest by students. HSBC had planned to cancel
interest-free accounts for graduates - until
thousands of students signed up to the Stop
the Great HSBC Graduate Rip-Off campaign.
The bank's hasty re-think led to a leading article
in the Independent celebrating "a
victory for people power". (Independent,
Government to use lie detectors on benefits
The UK government is set to make countrywide
use of lie detectors in a "crackdown"
on benefits fraud. The Voice Risk Analysis
(VRA) technology works by measuring fluctuations
in the voice that indicate stress and "an
attempt to deceive". The Observer
newspaper (2/9/07) quotes a government spokesperson:
"Operators trained in intelligent questioning
and behavioural analysis will use the system
to identify suspect cases at the start of the
claim process...". http://society.guardian.co.uk/crimeandpunishment/story/0,,2160874,00.html
Single Working Age Benefit proposed
Income Newsletter has spotted that a
recent Work and Pensions Select Committee report,
'Benefits Simplification' (26/7/07) contains
a detailed proposal for something called a Single
Working Age Benefit (SWAB), which would
replace benefits for both the employed and the
jobless. They argue that a SWAB is "nine
tenths of the way to a Citizen's Income".
Majority of super-rich pay no income tax
HM Revenue figures, recently released under
the Freedom of Information Act, suggest that
only a fraction of those earning £10m
or more in Britain pay income tax. Prior to
the 1997 general election, Gordon Brown promised
to end "the tax abuses which reach to the
heart of our public finances by indulging the
super-rich at the expense of the rest of us".
A decade later, The Independent newspaper
(22/6/07) describes Britain as "a haven
for the super-wealthy". http://money.independent.co.uk/personal_finance/tax/article2692509.ece
One wage not enough to live on
Nearly half of all UK families need two or
more salaries to cover their bills, according
to a recent survey. "Over 11 million UK
households are dependent on more than one salary".
(BBC News Online, 4/5/07) http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6624047.stm
BBC removed details of Director General's
The BBC Director general, Mark Thompson, "was
paid a total of £788,000 in the last financial
year" according to a recent
BBC web page, which, oddly, no longer contains
this information although it was still
appearing in Google search results when we checked:
Fighting fund announced for battling the
Despite two apparent set-backs in which local
courts found in favour of banks, the campaign
against the banks' profiteering from excessive
(and arguably illegal) charges is gaining momentum.
A £100,000 fighting fund has been set
up by consumer groups and private individuals,
to encourage people to launch legal challenges
against the banks. Commenting on the coverage
surrounding the banks' first court victory,
Martin Lewis (who announced the fund), said:
"This case has no bearing in law and
in practice sets no precedent [...] This is
a desperate attempt to scare people away and
it is important that we do not allow their spin
and spiel to put people off". (The
Scotsman, 4/6/07) http://business.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=869502007
The most prominent case is that of barrister
Tom Brennan versus National Westminster Bank.
Brennan has set up a website to provide updates:
Jobless level is treble the official figure
The real level of unemployment in Britain is
almost three times as high as the official figure,
according to a report quoted by the Guardian.
The reason for the discrepancy (between the
900,000 official "claimant count"
and the report's figure of 2.6 million) is that
many jobless people are diverted onto other
benefits or out of the welfare system altogether.
(Guardian, 13/6/07) http://business.guardian.co.uk/story/0,,2101437,00.html
Alternative currency flourishes in New Age
There are about 844,000 "BerkShares"
in circulation in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.
Worth $759,600 at the fixed exchange rate of
1 BerkShare to 90 US cents. In their 10 months
of circulation, they've become a regular feature
of the local economy. (Reuters, 19/6/07)
Gap between rich and poor wider than ever
Inequality in Britain is at levels "not
seen for over 40 years" according to new
research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
The widening gap between rich and poor has meant
that 'average' households (neither poor nor
wealthy) have been decreasing in number. (Joseph
Rowntree Foundation, 17/7/07) http://www.jrf.org.uk/pressroom/releases/170707.asp
Media hysteria over disappearance of child
The Independent newspaper has best
summed up the media coverage of the disappearance
of 4-year-old Madeleine McCann:
"The hysteria created
by the reporting of this and similar cases does
no service to anyone. It will lead only to children
being wrapped in cotton wool and prevented from
developing the social skills and independence
they need to survive. Far from offering a shared
catharsis, all it does is spread the virus of
fear." (Independent, 15/5/07)
Average cost of a house rose £20,000
The cost of an average home (in Britain) rose
by £2,000 in March to reach £206,890.
This figure is £20,000 higher than a year
ago. The average price of a London home has
jumped by £42,000 in a year. (Guardian,
Police report "ludicrous arrests"
The Police Federation claims that "ludicrous
arrests" result from the police trying
to meet government targets. They quote examples
of such arrests:
A man cautioned for being "in possession
of an egg with intent to throw".
A woman arrested on her wedding day for
damage to a car park barrier when her foot slipped
on her accelerator pedal.
A child arrested for throwing cream buns
at a bus.
A 70-year-old arrested for criminal damage
after cutting back a neighbour's conifers too
Two children who were arrested under
firearms laws for being in possession of a plastic
(Press Association, via Independent, 15/5/07)
Soaring antidepressant prescriptions
The number of prescriptions for antidepressants
in England has hit a record high. More than
31 million prescriptions for drugs such as Prozac
were issued in 2006 a 6% rise on the
year before. (BBC News Online, 24/5/07) http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6653013.stm
Road crashes the leading cause of death
Road crashes are the leading cause of death
among young people, according to the World
Health Organization (WHO). Nearly 400,000
people under the age of 25 are killed in road
traffic crashes every year. Millions more are
injured or disabled. (WHO, 19/4/07) http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2007/pr17/en/index.html
Dramatic change in working habits needed
A Guardian news story titled 'Work
at home, drivers told' mentions a report
by the RAC which claims that: "Only a dramatic
change in working habits would prevent implementation
of pay-as-you-drive schemes". (Guardian,
Setback for anti-bank-fees campaigners
Lloyds bank has won a "landmark victory"
against a customer who was claiming a refund
of "penalty" charges. This is a setback
for the campaign against such charges. However,
Martin Hickman, of the Independent says that
the ruling "does not mean that if you
are claiming back your bank charges, you should
abandon your case [...] All the campaigners
say that you should continue and that you still
have a very high chance of winning".
A test case involving a barrister, Tom Brennan,
should shed further light on cases later this
year. (Independent, 16/5/07)
Benefit claimants to face lie detector tests
Benefit claimants will face lie detector tests,
in a "crackdown on fraud", the government
says. (Such fraud is currently worth £0.7
billion per year, compared to £14 billion
in business fraud and £85 billion in corporate
tax avoidance). Voice Risk Analysis technology
picks up signs of stress when telling lies.
These are measured against the "normal"
voice, "ensuring that nervousness or shyness
is not a trigger". (Guardian, 5/4/07)
Talking CCTV to apologise
The UK's "Talking CCTV" scheme got
off to a bad start, when a camera's loudspeaker
wrongly accused someone of littering outside
a McDonalds. (Guardian 12/4/07) http://society.guardian.co.uk/crimeandpunishment/story/0,,2055057,00.html
One man's fight for justice over bank fees
Britain's banks will finally have the legality
of their excessive "penalty fees"
challenged in court later this month (30 April).
Barrister Tom Brennan is reportedly risking
his professional career to prove the banks are
acting illegally (and since they currently make
an estimated £4.7 billion per year from
the charges, this almost sounds like John Grisham
territory). (Independent, 14/4/07) http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/legal/article2447665.ece
Bank interest charges "cannot be trusted"
Banks and credit card companies have been issued
a "super complaint" over interest
charges and face an inquiry from the Office
of Fair Trading. A consumer watchdog (Which?)
has warned that interest charges "cannot
be trusted". (Independent, 1/4/07)
Office jobs are big polluters
An article in the Independent points out the
environmental cost of working in offices. A
typical office building is cited as using (per
employee) three times the amount of electricity
as the typical person consumes at home. Another
good reason to work from home. (Independent,
Average house price eight times average wage
The average price of a house in Britain is
£192,200 - over eight times the average
wage (less than £24,000). In the 1930s
the average house price was around £600
- three times the average wage (around £200).
In other words, the average earner would have
to earn £64,000 a year to match the house-purchasing
power of someone with a similar job in 1930
(not taking into account other expenses such
as food, consumer goods, etc, whose prices have
fallen in real terms since 1930). (Guardian,
18/12/1999; Telegraph, 10/3/2007)
Alcohol worse than ecstasy on new drug list
Scientists (including members of the government's
top advisory committee on drug classification)
have produced an assessment of the harm caused
by 20 substances, and have rated alcohol and
tobacco as more dangerous than cannabis, LSD
and ecstasy. The rankings take into account
the stronger cultivated "skunk" cannabis
(which has been the subject of recent media
The researchers say the existing drug classification
should be scrapped and replaced with one based
on evidence. Ecstasy is shown to be one of the
least harmful substances, causing fewer than
10 deaths a year. One person a day is killed
by acute alcohol poisoning and thousands more
from chronic use. (Guardian, 23/3/07)
Rise in UK child poverty
The number of children living in relative poverty
rose from 3.6 million to 3.8 million last year.
(BBC News Online, 27/3/07) http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6497981.stm
UK's child mortality rate is linked to inequality
Britain has the second highest child death
rate among the 24 richest countries in the world.
A new study claims this is linked to the gap
between the "haves" and the "have-nots"
which is the third biggest among the 24 countries.
(Independent, 1/4/07) http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/health_medical/article2411397.ece
The Times (4/3/07) reports a case of
two teenage girls happily ripping up a magazine
and littering the area with it, when a voice
from a nearby loudspeaker announces: "You
two girls have been witnessed on CCTV camera
dropping litter. Pick it up and put it in the
bin provided". Later this month the
Home Office is expected to announce a nationwide
scheme to introduce talking CCTV.
MI5 trains supermarket staff
The security services are advising food retailers
on how to identify "extremist shoppers".
Supermarkets are apparently an attractive target
for terrorists but the only example provided
in this news story is of three Palestinian-Americans
arrested in Texas "after staff spotted
them bulk-buying mobile phones". (Independent,
Government uses terror plot for political
The police have accused the UK government of
using a recent "terror plot" to divert
press attention from the "cash for honours"
scandal. (New Criminologist, 4/2/07)
DPP: "There is no war on terror"
The Director of Public Prosecutions has warned
that a "fear-driven and inappropriate"
response to the terrorist threat could lead
Britain to abandon fair trials. He was also
reported as denying that there is a "war
on terror". (Guardian, 24/1/07) http://www.guardian.co.uk/terrorism/story/0,,1997246,00.html
Drug laws driven by "moral panic"
A report from the RSA commission on illegal
drugs says current drug law has been "driven
by moral panic", and that the evidence
"suggests that a majority of people who
use drugs are able to use them without harming
themselves or others". (BBC, Guardian,
American estimates of Iraqi deaths
According to a recent AP/Ipsos poll of 1,002
American adults, the median estimate of Iraqi
civilian deaths since the March 2003 invasion
was 9,890. The responses were as follows:
1,000 or less: 8%
1,001 to 5,000: 24%
5,001 to 10,000: 20%
10,001 to 50,000: 21%
50,001 to 100,000: 11%
100,001 to 250,000: 6%
More than 250,000: 5%
AP report: http://tinyurl.com/2nbyul
Police hysteria over terror threat
Police Commissioner Ian Blair claims the UK
is facing an "unparalleled and growing
threat of a terrorist attack". However,
he said there was "no specific intelligence"
about an imminent attack. He also asserted (without
any supporting evidence) that the threat of
terrorism was "far graver" than those
faced during World War II or the Cold War. (BBC
MI5's terror alert email service
Not feeling anxious enough? Now you can receive
email terror alerts from MI5, notifying you
of changes to the terror threat level. Just
the thing to liven up your day, whether you're
travelling to work on a crowded train or doing
the shopping. A spokesman for the Home Office
denied that the automatic alerts would cause
unnecessary panic among those receiving them.
(Press Association, 9/1/07)
[A problem with MI5's email
service was quickly identified. Activists at
revealed lack of protection of subscribers'
personal details, claiming MI5 sent them unencrypted
to commercial third-party email marketing/tracking
companies based in America (leaving them open
to snooping by, for example, US law enforcement
MI5: "No imminent terrorist threat"
Prior to the 7/7 (2005) London bombings, The
director-general of MI5 told ministers there
was "no imminent terrorist threat"
to the country. Media response has been: "How
could they fail to predict those attacks".
Perhaps a better question is: "Why has
the assessment of risk changed so much since
then?" (Guardian 9/1/07) http://www.guardian.co.uk/frontpage/story/0,,1985970,00.html
[See also our piece on the Misleading
Vividness fallacy, which examines the tendency
of politicians and media to assume increasing
risk whenever a tragedy occurs].
Corporate welfare update
Barclays, Britain's third biggest bank (with
annual profits of around £7 billion),
has received a £4.2 million hand-out courtesy
of the taxpayer (in the innocuous-sounding form
of a Regional Selective Assistance grant,
to help them "create jobs"). http://tinyurl.com/y9bsjg
£2.3 billion MoD headquarters refurbishment
The cost of refurbishing the Ministry of Defence
HQ has been estimated at £2.3 billion.
News of this cost came as senior army officers
criticised the "cramped and decaying"
living quarters of many in the armed forces.
(BBC Online, 8/1/07) http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6240635.stm
Politicians "exploit" terror fears
Politicians are "exploiting" the
fear of terrorism for political gain, according
to a report by the Joseph Rowntree Trust.
The report's authors urge the government to
abandon talk of a "war on terror".
Meanwhile, an article in the Guardian
claims the threat of terrorism has been "wildly
exaggerated": "While terrorism
can take on different guises, it is not new
and is not a threat to human society to rank
with a world war or a nuclear holocaust".
An earlier Sunday Times piece (by the same
author, Simon Jenkins) criticised "politicians
who hold weekly press conferences on 'international
threat levels' [...] they seem comfortable only
with a perpetual state of emergency."
(Sunday Times, 20/8/06) http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,23110-2314418,00.html
According to the MIPT terrorism knowledge
base, the total number of US and UK (including
Northern Ireland) fatalities caused by terrorism
in the five years after 9/11 was 74, compared
to 68 in the five years before. The corresponding
totals for Iraq are 15,763 and 12, respectively.
Following Microsoft's 1990s strapline, "Where
do you want to go today?", there were
a series of unoriginal variations by (obviously
overpaid) advertisers. A recent example was
Capital One's "What's in your wallet?"
Another is "How Do You Eat Yours?"
for Cadbury's Creme eggs. Waterstones, the bookseller
chain, has spent a lot of money coming up with
the new slogan: "What's Your Story?"
But as Private Eye magazine (24/11/06)
points out, it's already used by Aldo Shoes.
Corporate welfare latest
A Michigan-based glass manufacturer, Guardian
Industries, was persuaded to set up in Yorkshire
with a £7.6 million sweetener. The justification
was the jobs brought to the area. But the company
only has 153 workers in the UK taxpayers
have effectively paid £50,000 for each
job. (Private Eye, 24/11/06)
Lancet study (on Iraqi deaths) bias?
The research behind a criticism of the Lancet
study on Iraqi mortality (which estimated over
600,000 excess deaths since 2003) has now been
published. "Main street bias" refers
to bias in surveys which sample close to main
streets (ie not covering quieter streets with
less bombings/shootings). The Lancet study's
authors have countered by saying they included
"all" streets in their sampling
but this would mean they used a methodology
fundamentally different from the account they
published (and, to date, they haven't explained
how they included all streets).
"Main street bias" research:
BBC cherry-picks crime increases
The latest official UK crime figures show total
crime to have fallen 2%, no change to violent
crime or burglary, a 6% fall in vehicle theft,
an 8% fall in firearm offences and no change
in "anti-social behaviour" levels.
But BBC Online's headline reads: "Robbery
continues on upward trend". The 5%
increase in robbery (mainly teenagers stealing
mobiles and MP3 players from each other) is
buried away on page four of the official crime
report the above falls are mentioned
on the front page.
Secret Service grills 14 yr-old girl
US Secret Service agents interrogate 14 yr-old
girl about her anti-Bush drawing. Julia Wilson
had posted a cartoon-like drawing (which said
"Kill Bush") on her MySpace page.
The agents called at her home, then visited
her school, where she was removed from class
and grilled. (Counterpunch 17/10/06)
("Kill Bush" Drawing)
Economist pictured on new £20 banknotes
New £20 banknotes will carry a portrait
of Adam Smith, the "Godfather of free-market
economics", together with an engraving
illustrating Smith's notion of "the division
of labour", and the words: "and
the great increase in the quantity of work that
results". (Times, 30/10/06)
(Image of banknote)
It's a pity they don't use a different Adam
Smith quote. For example: "All for ourselves,
and nothing for other people, seems, in every
age of the world, to have been the vile maxim
of the masters of mankind." (Wealth
of Nations, Book 3, Chapter 4)
Virgin's viral marketing backfires
A viral marketing campaign by Virgin
backfired after subscribers to the comedy site,
b3ta.com, (who were challenged by Virgin
to come up with ad ideas for the Virgin Money
brand) created images that weren't appreciated
by Virgin (and in some cases were illegal).
The company has removed all traces of the competition,
and requested its deletion from the b3ta.com
site. (Inquirer, 26/10/06)
Nuclear test boosts condom sales
Stores across South Korea reported dramatic
jumps in condom sales following the recent nuclear
test by North Korea. Experts say that the figures
cannot be definitively tied to the test but
a similar phenomena, dubbed "terror sex",
was observed in New York after September 11.
(Associated Press, 26/10/06)
Britain a risk-averse nation
A new report claims "Britain has become
a risk-averse nation that over-protects, over-regulates".
(It's not from the usual right-leaning advocates
of "deregulation"). Professor George
Gaskell, a risk expert from the London School
of Economics, says: "The mass media could
be largely to blame. Virtually everything we
eat, for example, has at some point been associated
[in the media] with carcinogens. But people
seem to want to read about new dangers. Maybe
we just have a collective interest in finding
things to be anxious about." (Guardian,
"Government scam" to profit from
The Department for Work and Pensions has made
£268,000 profit from a helpline giving
benefits advice to the poor and unemployed.
The practice was exposed by the Derbyshire Unemployed
Workers Association, using the Freedom of Information
Act to establish the department's income from
the lines. The government has now promised to
switch to a free service. (Guardian, 30/10/06)
Art attack on celebrities
The "guerrilla artist", Banksy, replaced
hundreds of Paris Hilton CDs in various stores
with his own tampered version which has song
titles: "Why am I Famous?", "What
Have I Done?" and "What Am I For?"
He also changed the artwork one picture
showing the US socialite with a dog's head.
(BBC Online, 3/9/06) http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/5310416.stm
"Welfare cheats" latest
Fewer than 1 in 300 "tip-off" calls
to the Benefit Fraud Hotline result in
a conviction. The hotline is part of the government's
multi-million-pound drive to convince newspaper
editors that it's tough on spongers. (The
Scotsman, 31/8/06) http://news.scotsman.com/uk.cfm?id=1284472006
Bank "late payment fees" unlawful
Several banks have reduced their "late
payment fees" on credit cards following
an investigation by the Office of Fair Trading
(OFT), which found charges over £12
to be excessive. To quote the OFT press release:
"Credit card default charges have generally
been set at a significantly higher level than
is legally fair [...] this has led to unlawful
penalty charges currently in excess of £300
million a year." http://www.oft.gov.uk/News/Press+releases/2006/68-06.htm
also, our page on demanding refunds from banks
False dichotomies in polls
According to Allister Heath (in the Spectator
magazine), "Almost three quarters of
the British public are now convinced that we
are fighting a new world war against extremist
Islamic terrorists". This was based
on a survey which forced participants to choose
between two statements:
A column in the next issue of the Spectator
pointed out the distorting effect of having
no third option between "global war"
and "no real threat". (The Spectator,
People worried about "lack of respect"
A BBC report (on an ICM poll) claims that Britain
is "worse than 20 years ago".
Participants in the poll apparently felt the
biggest problems facing the country are: "lack
of respect", crime and terrorism. (BBC
Online, 4/9/06) http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/5310016.stm
For a historical perspective on "lack
of respect", see our article, 8,000
years of antisocial behaviour >
3,200 government PR employees funded by taxpayers
Recently published figures show that Whitehall
employs 1,815 press officers and public relations
staff, with a further 1,444 employed by quangos
and other taxpayer-funded agencies. (Guardian,
Independent, 31/8/06) http://politics.guardian.co.uk/media/story/0,,1861596,00.html
Survey links ill health with work
A survey of 2,233 men found the following:
"35% suffered from sleeping difficulties
that they linked to pressures of work";
"22% said they suffered from depression
because of job-related stress"; "17%
have visited a doctor to discuss their exhaustion";
"more than one in three relies on alcohol
to switch off from job stress". (Guardian,
UK media attacks ID cards
The UK "liberal" press has published
a series of articles criticising the ID card
and other "security" proposals. Some
have even pointed out how the government falsely
lumps together terrorism, crime, "antisocial
behaviour", benefits fraud and immigration
as if they're all part of one big RISING
SINISTER THREAT. For example:
"Like crime, benefit
fraud has decreased. But you hear little of
this from No 10 or the rightwing tabloid press,
because it suits them to keep us in a state
of near frenzy about both." (Guardian,
Government plans to sell your personal
details to private companies
The astronomical cost of ID cards (£19bn
according to one optimistic study) embarrasses
the government. Gordon Brown (UK Chancellor)
plans to make them cheaper by allowing private
companies to buy access to the ID database (containing
biometric information on the population, etc).
Leaked emails reveal ID farce
Officials in charge of introducing ID cards
reveal the "progress" made. The Sunday
Times printed leaked emails between the
ID card project director and a director at the
Identity and Passport Service (IPS -
the agency set up to implement ID cards). From
one of the emails:
"I do not have a
problem with ministers wanting a face saving
solution, but we need to be clear [...] a botched
introduction of a descoped early variant ID
Card [...] could put back the introduction of
ID Cards for a generation and won't do much
for IPS credibility nor for the Govt's election
chances either." (Email,
David Foord to Peter Smith, Sunday Times,
UK terror threat level officially "SEVERE"
The official terrorist threat level has now
been made public for the first time (by the
UK intelligence agencies). It's "SEVERE"
(Cue rising organ music). How do they
decide the level? They explain:
"It is rare that
specific threat information is available and
can be relied upon. More often, judgements about
the threat will be based on a wide range of
information, which is often fragmentary..."
Knife crime hysteria
Despite recent media hysteria over the "wave"
of knife crimes in the UK, murder by stabbing
has not risen. In 1995 there were 243 murders
with sharp instruments; last year there were
236. Not even the weekly average of knife killings
(four and a half) rose during this latest so-called
crime "epidemic". (Guardian, 9/6/06)
See also: Diary of Distractions
MI5 secretly vets thousands of BBC employees
In 1983, for example, 5,728 BBC jobs were subjected
to "counter-subversion vetting" by
MI5. Senior BBC figures "covered up"
the link with the intelligence agency
leaked documents refer to a strategy of "categorical
denial". (Daily Telegraph, 2/7/06)
ID cards latest
"The government is battling to ensure
that estimates of the benefits and risks of
identity cards remain secret" (BBC online,
5/7/06). The freedom of information watchdog
ordered the UK government to publish the estimates,
but the government has decided to appeal against
this ruling. Why should the public know the
benefits/risks of spending GBP 19 billion of
taxpayers' money on ID cards? http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/5150584.stm
Product placement in blogs
Bloggers are are getting paid by big business
to push products. Disclosure is optional. "It's
better for a brand to get into a blog than to
surround it as a banner or text ad". (Business
The Daily Mail, Britain's "best-loved
newspaper" (it claims) had a front-page
headline of: 'BEYOND SATIRE'
on 26/5/06. It wasn't describing its own contents,
but some report of "burglars and robbers
being taught costume making instead of going
The Daily Mail wasn't, however, listed
as one of the legal highs now available in this
country (by the Independent, 30/5/06).
Instead, listed were 'Funk pills' (an ecstasy
substitute), kratom leaf and salvia divinorum.
BBC1 news ran a scare story about these on the
same day. http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/this_britain/article621825.ece
Pop singer invited to join UFO cult
UK pop singer Robbie Williams Invited To Join
UFO Cult. The Church of the SubGenius
has invited singer Robbie Williams to join its
ranks. In May of 1996, Williams announced his
intention to start his own mystical religion
dedicated to extraterrestrials. In response
to this statement, the SubGenius Foundation
has made an offer: "If Mr. Williams
wants to join a UFO cult, then have we got one
for him!" (ClickPress, 17/5/06)
TV newsrooms use corporate PR as news
The Center for Media and Democracy
(USA) found that 77 television stations "actively
disguised" sponsored content (PR for General
Motors, Intel, Pfizer, Capital One, etc)
to make it appear to be their own news reports.
(PR Watch, 6/4/06) http://www.prwatch.org/fakenews/execsummary
Fake friendliness at work can make you ill
In a large study (involving 4,000 people)
by psychologists at Frankfurt University, students
were tested in a simulated call centre environment,
where they were subjected to abuse from customers.
Some of the students were allowed to answer
back, while others had to be polite/friendly.
The latter suffered more from stress.
The researchers concluded that flight attendants,
sales personnel, call centre operators, waiters,
etc, who are expected to be friendly all the
time, are at risk of harming their health -
and need their own space away from customers
(ie more time off). (Sydney Morning Herald,
Police warn boys over lamp post
A 12 yr-old boy was stopped by police for photographing
graffiti on a lamp post. He was given paperwork
reading: "Was seen taking photos of
lamp post ... advice given". Two other
boys, both 13, were also given an official note
by the police: "Hanging around lamp
post - spoken to". (The Sun, 23/3/06)
"Strong" economy generates more
Low rates of unemployment are bad for health
according to a recent US study. The researchers
explain: "When the economy heats up,
people often end up working more overtime"
(whilst neglecting health). (Reuters, 6/4/06)
al-Qaeda not linked to 7/7 London bombings
The Observer newspaper (9/4/06) reports
that an official inquiry into the 7/7/05 London
bombings will say that there was no link with
al-Qaeda (despite the claims of Tony Blair immediately
after the attack). http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,1750139,00.html
BBC upholds our complaint
We'd complained about a scaremongering BBC1
report which incorrectly said violent crime
had "significantly risen". As a result,
the BBC's Editorial Complaints Unit (ECU)
has found that BBC1 news breached editorial
standards on "truth and accuracy",
and that there was "no basis" for
claiming a significant rise in violent crime.
The Head of ECU said our complaint "gave
rise to a good deal of discussion within the
BBC" and that it "has made
a difference". (More details to follow
when the ECU publishes the findings of its investigation).
Our original complaint
Last month, the supermarket chain, Asda,
launched an "economy" Valentine card
costing just 8 pence. Their rationale for this
was that 30% of people find Valentine's day
"too commercial" (according to a survey).
There's a marketing "logic" here which
is way beyond anything we can grasp. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/4706320.stm
Sonic Teenager Deterrent
A new gadget repels teenagers by emitting a
high-pitched noise that can be heard only by
under-20s. Police are endorsing the device,
according to the Daily
Telegraph (16/2/06). It annoys teenagers
"intensely" "they have
to disperse and loiter somewhere else".
Adults are immune as the "body's ability
to detect some frequencies diminishes almost
entirely after 20".
Tony Blair's grandmother a "graffiti
Tony Blair's PR crusade against antisocial
youth backfired recently. During a photo-op,
he hosed down graffiti and commented that older
generations of his family would have abhorred
such behaviour. The Daily Mirror (16/1/06)
then revealed that Blair's grandmother was a
"commie" graffiti vandal.
Blair also talked of a Golden Age when "people
behaved more respectfully to one another",
but a friend of his late grandmother, Alex Morrison,
86, said: "he is speaking absolute rubbish.
Poverty and misery were widespread and it was
a violent place as well."
Daily Mirror story: http://tinyurl.com/bjtfy
UK's richest firm gets £1.2bn in corporate
A provision exists in the UK for writing off
tax bills where "strict application
of the law would be oppressive and unfair".
It's rarely used, but the government
very charitably used it to write off
£1.2 billion (approx US$ 2 billion) from
the tax bill of BP (British Petroleum), Britain's
richest company. (Daily Telegraph, 11/1/06)
Daily Telegraph story: http://tinyurl.com/anq2a
on corporate welfare >
[According to the Guardian (22/1/04),
the Duke of Westminster, Britain's richest man,
receives a daily handout of £1,000
from the taxpayer. Other big landowners get
similar amounts of welfare (in farm subsidies).]
George Galloway & Cary Grant
UK anti-war politician, George Galloway, is
now appearing in a popular "reality TV"
show. Gone are the days, it seems, when celebrities
shunned publicity. Cary Grant always refused
to attend the Academy Awards he'd stay
home, take LSD, then watch it on TV while bouncing
on the bed for hours, laughing his head off
(according to testimony from his third divorce
trial). You just don't get that kind of perspective
Vampire runs for Office
A "self-proclaimed vampire" is apparently
running for political office in the US.
'Number of the Beast' marriages.
Register offices in Holland have been flooded
with requests for couples who want to get married
on the 6/6/06.
Blair's unnatural Hard Work fetish
In his New Year message, Tony Blair said: "We
live in a beautiful, prosperous country where
most of us work hard". Nobody in the
media (to my knowledge) pointed out that it
might be preferable to live in "a beautiful,
prosperous country where most of us enjoy lots
BBC misreports latest UK crime figures
Fiona Bruce announced on BBC1 news (10.00pm,
20/10/05) that violent crime had "significantly
increased". But both the police and the
British Crime Survey (BCS) say the "increase"
is largely due to the continuing effect of changes
in crime recording methods - ie not "significant".
(The BCS says violence fell by 7% in real terms
over the quarterly period reported).
The BBC's misleading announcement was followed
by a report (from BBC journalist Mark Easton)
containing no statistics or clarifications,
but which did show realistically bloody simulations
of violence (apparently from a well-meaning
I emailed Mark Easton about it (see Diary
of Distractions for the email text).
For more on the latest crime figures: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs05/hosb1805.pdf
BBC's most important news story
As Orson Welles pointed out in Citizen Kane,
the importance of a news story is measured by
the size of the headlines. It's also measured
by the amount of coverage (eg repetition).
So, the most important news recently (judging
from BBC coverage) has been the UK Conservative
Party's leadership contest. No other story in
recent decades has come close in importance.
Last week, Newsnight (BBC's flagship
"news" show) had a "headline"
story lasting 20 minutes about
Conservative leadership contender David Davis.
It contained no news. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4314130.stm
Anarchist TV ads watched by a million Germans
In Germany all political parties are given
prime-time television slots for their campaign
ads. An estimated million viewers watched an
ad from the Anarchist Pogo Party (APPD)
on public television. Many people were reportedly
outraged by the "video montage of drug/booze-induced
chaos involving semi-naked revellers".
The Hamburg-based APPD is an officially registered
political party. Among its stated goals is "humankind's
complete and ultimate return to stupidity."
It sells t-shirts that read: "Arbeit
ist Scheisse" ("work is shit").
Improve efficiency: work slowly
A British company (a factory based in Oldham)
has saved £1 million by getting staff
to work slowly. "After just two
weeks at the factory, the consultants came to
the conclusion that efficiency would improve
if staff worked more slowly". http://tinyurl.com/7tzqq
Support for ID cards plummets
The UK government has been claiming "overwhelming
public support" for ID cards based on a
poll from a few years ago. The Daily Telegraph
(4/7/05), however, reports a new YouGov
poll showing public support for ID cards has
plummeted to 45% (from 78% in the previous poll,
cited by the government). We expected this news
story to be given headline coverage in the mainstream
media, but it was barely mentioned (BBC1 evening
news didn't mention it at all).
Majority of UK workers dislike their jobs
More than half (53%) of UK workers are unhappy
with their jobs according to a poll of 14,000
people by employment group Kelly Services.
Electronic tags turn workplaces into "battery
Thousands of UK workers are being electronically
tagged with devices which can monitor breaks
and trips to the toilet, according to the trade
union GMB. The technology has been imported
from the US, and the concept is similar to prison
surveillance, says the union. The tags have
been used with around 10,000 supermarket and
warehouse workers. http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,1500838,00.html
New report slays myths on "flexible"
The TUC has published a report called Slaying
the Myths, which "demolishes the myths
that are being peddled" about the need
for "flexibility" to work long hours:
See also, on this subject, our latest Rant
Job satisfaction drops sharply
"On every indicator of job satisfaction
in the British workforce, ratings have dropped
sharply since 1990: hours, pensions, pace of
job and workloads are the obvious ones; but
interestingly, for a society that prides itself
on being highly individualistic, there has been
a marked decline in control over our work."
Leaked memo: "Case for military action
In a high-level leaked memo published by the
Sunday Times, the Foreign Secretary (Jack Straw)
is quoted as saying: "But the case [for
military action] was thin. Saddam was not threatening
his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less
than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran."
This is contrary to Straw's public statements.
Blair's shifting stance on "regime change"
Tony Blair has become increasingly strident
in arguing that it was "necessary"
to "remove" Saddam Hussein, even though
there was no WMD threat ("I decided we
had to remove him" Blair on Election
2005, ITV, 2/5/05). Prior to the war (25/2/03),
Blair said he was happy for Saddam to remain
in power if Iraq complied with UN resolutions.
Blair's stance seems illegal for more
on this, see our Diary of
BBC broadcasts "fake" news reports
The BBC has broadcast pre-packaged Ministry
of Defence propaganda as genuine news. Journalists
working for the Services Sound and Vision Corporation
(SSVC) have been commissioned to provide segments
which the BBC has presented as objective reports.
The SSVC is entirely funded by the Ministry
of Defence as a propaganda operation. (SpinWatch,
Police unhappy with politics of fear
UK police have criticised politicians for exaggerating
crime risks. One Chief Constable said, of an
election campaign ad, "This misleading
advert quite improperly seeks to stir up fear
of rising crime when it is a well established
that crime has been falling for years".
("Rising" violent crime figures are
technically correct, but misleading. In 1999
an attack on 3 people would have been recorded
as one crime. But under a new victim-focused
system, it's recorded as 3 crimes.)
Graffiti artist infiltrates top NYC galleries
Banksy, a British graffiti artist, has
infiltrated his own artworks into four of New
York's top galleries. These include a picture
of a Tesco value-range tomato soup can,
an oil painting of a colonial-era admiral holding
a paint spray-can (with a background of anti-war
graffiti), and a glass-encased beetle with fighter-jet
wings and missiles attached to its body.
Tax avoidance by the rich a "growing
$11.5 trillion of "tax avoidance"
money has been placed by rich individuals in
offshore havens (that's 10 times Britain's GDP).
This figure doesn't include the vast amounts
stashed in tax havens by multinational corporations.
"This is one of the defining crises
of our times," says John Christensen,
coordinator of the Tax Justice Network. (Observer,
(Note: prior to the 1997 UK election, the Labour
party ran party-political TV broadcasts promising
to tackle corporate tax avoidance. Another forgotten
promise. UK corporate tax avoidance now costs
Britain £85 billion a year, according
to estimates in the Guardian (12/4/02)
enough to cure "funding problems"
in welfare, public transport, healthcare and
"Terrorists might try to target the
UK in the run-up to the election", London's
most senior police officer has said. But, he
also says, "it would be 'unwise' to
speculate about whether there was specific information
about risks of a pre-election attack".
In other words: "We'll scare the public
shitless with warnings, but we won't provide
enough information to let them decide if those
warnings are realistic or spurious or made-up
UK Government lies about Iraq legal advice
The Guardian claims official legal advice
given to the UK government on the legality of
attacking Iraq was written by... the government.
Media scaremongers on burglary latest
The UK government has issued a leaflet telling
people how much force they can use against burglars.
The Daily Mail and Daily Express
both had the headline: "You CAN Kill
a Burglar!" The media continues to
fill peoples' heads with graphic depictions
of confrontations with burglars. Meanwhile,
domestic burglaries continue to decrease in
the UK, with the average household being burgled
only once every 50 years (confrontations are
even less likely). http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=4091306
Media scaremongers on "Yob Crimewave"
According to a government survey reported
by the Sun and Daily Mirror, one
in four boys aged 14 to 17 could be classified
as a "prolific or serious offender".
Sounds bad, doesn't it? What the tabloids fail
to mention is the misleading nature of bracketing
together the categories "prolific"
and "serious". "Prolific
offenders" actually includes teenage boys
who occasionally don't pay their bus fare, or
steal sweets from the local shop.
Government shreds documents prior to Freedom
of Information Act coming into force
UK Government departments shredded thousands
of documents prior to the Freedom of Information
act coming into effect on 1st January. Lord
Falconer (the government's chief legal officer)
explained that it was good document management
to destroy files that people wouldn't want to
see. (BBC Radio 4 'Today', 1/1/05)
Work is no cure for poverty
Last month, the UK government announced: "More
people in work than ever before". Meanwhile,
a new study shows 47% of UK employees have wages
that, on their own, are insufficient to avoid
poverty. Currently, 22% of people live in poverty,
compared to 13% in 1979.
For more figures on work/poverty see our Subversive
Stats page >
New job-creation scheme:
security guards for school toilets
The unemployed in Germany are to be given jobs
as school toilet attendants (to guard toilets
against graffiti). For this they will be paid
an extra euro (about 70p) an hour on top of
their regular benefits. Politician Antje Bothe,
from the Christian Democratic Union, said the
scheme "would help the unemployed feel
like they were working again". (Ananova,
Official: Iraq war killed 100,000 civilians
Around 100,000 Iraqis - half of them women
and children - are estimated to have died due
to the Iraq invasion, mostly as a result of
airstrikes by coalition forces, according to
a study published in the Lancet. The
risk of death from violence for civilians in
Iraq is now 58 times higher than before the
war, the study claims. http://image.thelancet.com/extras/04art10342web.pdf
Because of the respected, mainstream nature
of the Lancet journal, this story has
been widely reported:
> (Reuters article)
Credit card "fees" scam
Officialdom has woken up to the "late-payment
fee" scam run by credit card companies
(a scam worth billions, according to the Consumers'
Association). The Office of Fair
Trading thinks the practice might be illegal.
It works as follows: you automatically get charged
around £20 if you send your monthly credit
card payment a few days late (or if it gets
delayed in the post, etc).
The big banks have been accused of using "bogus
accounting practices to cheat millions of credit
card customers with late payment and other penalty
charges." (The Times, 27/10/04)
BBC deal to "not criticise" UK government
Former BBC Chairman, Gavyn Davies, described
a "deal" he made with Tony Blair (after
the Hutton inquiry): "we, the BBC, would
not criticise the government... and [Blair]
wouldn't call for resignations at the BBC".
Davies seemed to think this was OK. He rationalised:
"I was happy with that ... I didn't
think we were a political party that should
criticise the government". As if not
being a political party means you shouldn't
broadcast critical analysis. As if media organisations
without direct political affiliations are automatically
"neutral" and thus "uncritical".
As if the public consists entirely of morons
who will swallow such horseshit. (Source:
Channel 4, 'Betrayed by New Labour', 19/9/04)
US Terror alert bogus
The US administration admits that recent warnings
of terrorist attacks were based on old intelligence
(from 2000/2001). There was no real basis on
which to raise the terror alert. The over-hyped
scare of the last few days was well-timed for
Bush, coming just after the Democratic National
(Yahoo news story)
Terrorism at 35-year low
The US State Department has updated figures
which show terrorism at a 35-year low. The number
of terrorist attacks worldwide has dropped to
its lowest level since 1969, according to their
latest report. Their graphs are a good antidote
to the media hysteria surrounding terrorism:
ICM accuses Conservatives of inserting
"leading questions" in poll
One of the big polling companies, ICM, claimed
that the UK Conservative Party wanted them to
ask "leading questions" in commissioned
polls, with the effect of showing Conservative
policies in a favourable light. (BBC2 Newsnight,
Blix: Iraq worse off now than under Saddam
Hans Blix has said that Iraq is worse off now
than with Saddam. He told a Danish newspaper:
"What's positive is that Saddam and his
bloody regime is gone, but when figuring out
the score, the negatives weigh more". (Associated
Press, 6/4/04) http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0406-01.htm
Aero Shit Bars
Thousands of Nestle's Aero chocolate
bars were found to have a "rude message"
printed on their wrappers. The message was quoted
as: "S**t bar" [not our censorship,
a direct quote]. (Ananova, 31/3/04)
Government blunder on "Fat Welfare"
The UK government complained that 900,000 people
receive incapacity benefit for obesity, costing
millions of pounds per week. But this was a
"blunder" only 900 obese people
receive the benefit (costing a thousand times
less than claimed). The government apologised
and abandoned its plans to introduce a tax on
junk food. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3506507.stm
Brazil introduces Basic income
Brazil has become the first national government
to introduce a Basic Income guarantee. On January
8th, 2004, President Lula signed a law decreeing
the gradual introduction of a universal Basic
Income for all Brazilian residents. The phase-in
will begin in 2005, starting with those most
in need by consolidating existing federal income
support programs. Philippe Van Parijs, the Belgian
activist and Basic Income campaigner, attended
the signing and said it was a "day of glory"
for Basic Income.
Welfare for the very rich
The Duke of Westminster, Britain's richest
man, receives a daily handout of GBP
1,000 from the taxpayer. Other big landowners
get similar amounts of welfare (in farm subsidies).
The Duke's PR head said the subsidy "protects"
the jobs of 100 employees. (Guardian, 22/1/04)
Bush demanded excuse to invade Iraq in January
2001, says ex-treasury secretary
The Bush administration started making detailed
plans for the invasion of Iraq within days of
coming to office, with the President himself
anxious to find a pretext to overthrow Saddam
Hussein, according to former treasury secretary
Paul O'Neill (The Independent, 12/1/04)
Pentagon Cooks the Books Big Time
The Pentagon's auditors spent 1,139 hours doctoring
their own files in order to pass an internal
review, say investigators. This fabrication
"certainly violates the spirit and intent"
of government auditing standards and rules on
ethical conduct, said the inspector general's
report. (The Independent, 12/1/04)
See also: our report on how the
Pentagon admitted to "misplacing"
$2.3 trillion: http://www.anxietyculture.com/cbs.htm
Average UK household debt reaches £6,800
Average debt per UK household is £6,800
(excluding home mortgages). One in 5 people
are using credit to pay their household bills.
The number of households experiencing "financial
difficulties" (ie unable to service their
debts) will shortly rise to 1 in 3, according
to BBC1 Panorama, 30/11/03. (Source
for average debt figure: BBC Radio 4 'Today',
People choose free time in preference to money
A recent study shows that more than 1 in 4
British adults (aged 30-59) choose lower paid
jobs, or "downshifting", in order
to have more free time. (University of Cambridge,
Iraq war killed 55,000, claims report
Up to 55,000 people died as a direct result
of the Iraq war, according to a report from
Medact (an organisation of health professionals).
Their figure is based on several sources, including
the civilian death figure from IraqBodyCount.org
and press reports of Iraqi armed forces deaths.
They also mention the psychological aftermath
of war creating "enormous anxiety"
and leading to increases in mental disorders,
suicide, drug/alcohol abuse and social/domestic
violence. (Associated Press, 12/11/03)
More police = raised fear of crime,
More police doesn't mean less crime, according
to the results of an experiment to increase
police presence on the streets of a Yorkshire
village. Contrary to expectations, crime and
fear of crime increased. Professor Adam
Crawford, co-author of the experiment's report,
said that "trying to tackle local order
problems through policing and security alone
can have the opposite effect."
Despite historically low levels of crime, the
government recently employed 4,000 new officers.
The Conservative Party pledges to put an extra
40,000 police on the streets.
Public anxiety increases
Research has found that nearly 4 million Britons
suffer from anxiety, depression or bad nerves
- a rise of 60% from 2.4 million a decade ago.
The authors of a new book, Complicated Lives,
say many anxieties are based on myths because
people worry about things such as crime getting
worse when in fact they are improving. "People
have absorbed a host of depressing falsehoods"
said William Nelson, the book's co-author.
1000 Iraqi civilians dying each week
According to Robert Fisk, Middle East correspondent
for the Independent newspaper, 1000 Iraqi
civilians are dying each week, either at the
hands of the occupation forces or as a result
of the general social disintegration caused
by the war.
New confirmation of dire poverty in UK
One in five UK households cannot pay their
water bills, according to the National Consumer
Council (NCC). Millions of households can't
afford basic services (electricity, gas, water,
phone) and are in debt to utility companies.
Deirdre Hutton, NCC chairman, said: "The
current system fails the poorest because of
inappropriate regulation of the privatised utility
companies [...] and an income support system
that is out of step with reality."
US Government "misplaces" $3.3 trillion
Beyond Enron and WorldCom lies
a much bigger scandal: the "misplacement"
of over $3 trillion of taxpayers' money by the
US government. This story hasnt gone completely
unreported. For example, CBS News quoted Donald
Rumsfeld as saying, "according to some
estimates we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions."
According to Catherine Austin Fitts, former
Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
(HUD), "total undocumented accounting
adjustments [...] for the Department of Defense
[and HUD for fiscal 1998-2000] amount to a whopping
$3.3 trillion, or $11,700 for every American."
Blair faces lawsuit for war crimes
Legal action against Tony Blair and the UK
government, for "crimes against humanity
in Iraq", was taken (on 28/7/03) at the
International Criminal Court in Hague, by the
Athens Bar Association (ABA). This concerns
22 war crimes, breaching the UN charter and
the Geneva Conventions, including the killing
of civilians and human rights violations. The
ABA believes it has strong evidence and is seeking
the indictment of Mr Blair, but there are several
hurdles to clear (including, presumably, political
ones) before the case proceeds.
George Bush claims to hear God
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz quotes
Bush's exact words (from his recent summit in
the Middle East): "God told me to strike
at al-Qaida and I struck them, and then He instructed
me to strike at Saddam, which I did".
So, the man with his finger on the nuclear
button hears voices in his head. (Moscow
Times, June 27, 2003)
UK forces illegally used cluster bombs on
Adam Ingram, the UK Armed Forces government
minister, admitted in a BBC interview that UK
forces dropped cluster bombs in civilian areas.
Richard Lloyd, director of the charity Landmine
Action, said the admission proved the UK
government knowingly breached Geneva Conventions.
Adbusting in The Washington Post!
A full-page ad containing very strong dissent
was placed in The Washington Post on
May 16th. It was funded (over $20,000) by a
retired business executive after he saw an "alternative"
video about 9-11. Full story plus downloads
of the ad at:
Pope thinks Bush is the Anti-Christ
The political magazine, Counterpunch,
reports that people close to the Pope say the
Pontiff "wishes he was younger and in better
health to confront the possibility that Bush
may represent the person prophesized in Revelations".
And, according to journalists close to the
Vatican, the Pope is also concerned that the
9-11 attacks were known in advance by senior
Bush administration officials. There is a perception
within the Roman Catholic hierarchy that a coup
d'état was implemented, giving Bush near-dictatorial
BBC Bias over Iraq Confirmed
The BBC's claims of impartiality over Iraq
look dubious according to David Miller of the
Stirling Media Research Institute. He
quotes a study of media coverage of anti-war
dissent in five countries showing the BBC featuring
the lowest level of dissent of all. Its 2% total
was even lower than the 7% found on the US channel
ABC. The empirical evidence "suggests a
pro-war orientation" in the BBC, he says.
Miller mentions coverage of the coalition victory
as an example:
"As Baghdad fell on April
9, BBC reporters could hardly contain themselves
in their haste to endorse the victors. This
was a "vindication" of the strategy
and it showed Blair had been "right"
and his critics "wrong". Here the
BBC enunciated a version of events very similar
to that of the government. According to the
BBC, "dozens" witnessed the statue
pulled down by US marines in Baghdad on April
9, while "thousands" demonstrated
against "foreign hegemony" in the
same city on the 18th. Yet the footage of the
former was described as "extraordinary",
"momentous" and "historic",
while the larger demonstration was greeted with
scepticism. Are they "confined to a small
vocal minority", the newscaster asked."