Jul. 20th, 2011

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Real News Network- Murdoch Shaped British Politic for over 40 years


PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Washington. And in London, Rupert Murdoch is in town trying to stem the tide of the scandal engulfing his empire, at least the publicity tide. But whether the real power of Rupert Murdoch will be touched is another issue altogether. He still owns The Daily Sun. Even if News of the World has been closed down, that was only a Sunday newspaper. And there's already plans in place for a Sun of the Sunday. They're calling it Sun of Sunday versus Sunday Sun, 'cause that name has been taken already. But the real issue here is Rupert Murdoch's both television and newspaper power in shaping the politics of Britain for over 40 years. Now joining us to talk about the history of this is Dr. Leo Panitch. He teaches at York University in Toronto. He's also the author of the book The End of Parliamentary Socialism: From New Left to New Labour. Thanks for joining us, Leo.


JAY: So let's dig into the history of Murdoch and how he helped shape particularly the Labour Party, which people, Americans might be a little surprised at, 'cause he's always here associated with supporting the Republican Party here.

PANITCH: Well, he's a very right-wing character. The fact that he supported the Labour Party doesn't change that one iota. He's known in Britain and in Australia as "the Digger" because of his Australian roots. And he came in in 1969 and bought The Sun, which was pretty much a working-class paper. As Dennis Potter, the great British playwright, television playwright, the guy who wrote The Singing Detective, put it in his last interview, there's no person in Britain more responsible for polluting what was already a very polluted press. So one shouldn't think that this was, you know, something that he did all by himself. But when he picked up The Sun, he took that working-class paper, which had a history going back to the '50s, when it had actually been The Labour Herald before it changed its name and had been trade-union owned and had been a Labour Party paper, essentially, and he immediately turned it into a political rag that attacked the left. You may have heard the term Bennism used as a terrible epithet, the four letter word Benn referring to Tony Benn, who was a cabinet minister in the 1960s and then moved to the left when he realized how little he could do in a British government.
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UN security council to consider climate change peacekeeping

A special meeting of the United Nations security council is due to consider whether to expand its mission to keep the peace in an era of climate change.

Small island states, which could disappear beneath rising seas, are pushing the security council to intervene to combat the threat to their existence.

There has been talk, meanwhile, of a new environmental peacekeeping force – green helmets – which could step into conflicts caused by shrinking resources.

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, is expected to address the meeting on Wednesday.

But Germany, which called the meeting, has warned it is premature to expect the council to take the plunge into green peacemaking or even adopt climate change as one of its key areas of concern.

"It is too early to seriously think about council action on climate change. This is clearly not on the agenda," Germany's ambassador to the UN, Peter Wittig, wrote in the Huffington Post.

"A good first step would be to acknowledge the realities of climate change and its inherent implications to international peace and security," he wrote.

Bringing the security council up to speed on climate change could be a challenge, however.

The Pentagon and other military establishments have long recognised climate change as a "threat multiplier" with the potential to escalate existing conflicts, and create new disputes as food, water, and arable land become increasingly scarce.

Wittig seems to agree, noting that UN peacekeepers have long intervened in areas beyond traditional conflicts.

"Repainting blue helmets into green might be a strong signal - but would dealing with the consequences of climate change - say in precarious regions - be really very different from the tasks the blue helmets already perform today?" he wrote.MORE
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Why the News of the World Scandal is relevant to you no matter where you live

To the general public, all of this might seem very domestically British, very distant and while certainly a political misfortune, a series of events that hold little weight for the rest of us, non British residents. Except that our every day lives, no matter where we are, what our socio economic background is, are shaped by this scandal. Because you see, News Corp is owned by Rupert Murdoch, the man you can hold accountable for not being able to access an abortion provider. The man you can hold accountable for the increase of intolerance and xenophobia sweeping the entirety of the Western World. Rupert Murdoch, the man who gave us Sarah Palin’s political career, Gert Wilders international fame, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the erosion of civil rights presented as a necessity and the demonization of Islam and the Middle East. Rupert Murdoch, the man who owns your mass media.
  • When AskMen.com publishes an article stating that women should be “shamed” into losing weight, thank Rupert Murdoch
  • Anchor babies and the demonization of immigrant women? Thank Rupert Murdoch
  • Act like a lady, think like a man and the pervasive stereotyping of gender and “how women should behave”? Thank Rupert Murdoch
  • The rise of the Tea Party and the mainstream radicalization of the Western world? Thank Rupert Murdoch
  • The constant portrayal of immigrants, asylum seekers, refuges and economic migrants as a threat to Western values? Thank Rupert Murdoch
Because, in case you weren’t aware (and there is a conscious effort to obscure these facts), Rupert Murdoch owns a significant, influencing, far reaching media empire. His outlets include (but are not limited to):
  • Publishing house HarperCollins
  • Film Studio (and subsidiaries) 20th Century Fox
  • Fox News (and all subsidiaries)
  • Cable TV networks Sky Italia and Sky Germany
  • AskMen.com
  • Dow Jones & Company
  • The Wall Street Journal
(I urge you to check the link above to gasp at the extent of News Corp reach and influence).
Now, I am not going to be so naive as to blame the Murdoch media empire for all the ills in the world. But let me clear: it might not be the sole responsible actor in our current sad state of affairs but it has played a very significant, prominent role in it. MORE
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UN Agency: Women Bow Out of Snarled Justice Systems

NEW YORK, (WOMENSENEWS)--This was the week when Casey Anthony was found not guilty of murdering her daughter in the explosive case in Florida and the New York hotel housekeeper struggled to keep alive a case of sexual assault against former IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss Khan. If anyone considers these signs of women finding high-powered access to the legal justice system, UN Women offered a rebuttal this week, finding that women all too often drop charges and bow out of legal recourse efforts.

In its July 6 report, "Progress of the World's Women in Pursuit of Justice," the new super women's agency at the United Nations--which consolidated existing agencies and launched in February under former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet--probes the limits of local, national and international law in serving women and offers 10 recommendations.

One area of concentration is the problem of long "legal chains" or cases that involve numerous steps, delays and mounting costs that lead women to drop such efforts as enforcing property rights or protecting themselves from domestic violence.

Authors found that women in developed and developing countries alike face this hurdle.
In Gauteng Province in South Africa, for instance, a lengthy, expensive legal process coincides with an extremely low conviction rate--4 percent--for reported rapes. That echoes a 2009 survey of four European countries, where conviction rates fall as low as 5 percent.

Another example came from this week's news run when the Associated Press reported July 7 that hundreds of Ugandan women protested the second postponement of two lawsuits brought by families of women who died giving birth, reflecting the judicial system's inability to intercede on behalf of maternal health.

To expedite women's law suits, UN Women's authors recommend "one stop shops" currently found in South Africa--known as Thuthuzela Care Centers--that have reduced trial completion time to seven months from a national average of two years and are being replicated in countries such as Chile and Ethiopia.MORE
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MALAWI Women Get Dirty to Stop Water Scarcity

MACHINGA DISTRICT, Malawi, Jul 19, 2011 (IPS) - Ethel James cannot wait for the gravity-fed water scheme in her area to be fixed so that she and the other women in her village will no longer have to wake up before dawn everyday to queue for water.

She is part of the team of local villagers repairing the existing water system, which consists of a pipeline connected to a reservoir. At various points in the village are taps connected to the pipeline, but there is no running water just yet.

The water supply system fell to disrepair in the mid-1990s after government could no longer maintain it.

With the assistance of Water Aid Malawi, an international charity that assists people in accessing safe drinking water and sanitation, the community has taken over ownership of the scheme that covers Kwilasha village in Machinga District, southern Malawi and 13 surrounding villages.

People have been organised into clubs, with women assuming leading roles. Women are also involved in the laying of pipes and the digging of trenches. Community members are replacing old pipes with new and larger ones and expanding the network to reach more people.MORE
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UN Women releases first report: Progress of the World’s Women

The newly created organization within the UN, UN Women, led by former president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, (Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director) dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women which was established to accelerate progress on meeting the rights of girls and women worldwide, has released their first report yesterday, Progress of the World’s Women.
The report can be downloaded here (link goes to PDF file) and the facts sheets (also in PDF format) are available here.
In the interest of brevity for this post (and you will notice that brevity has not been achieved given the amount of data I went through), I have specifically gone through the fact sheets and not focused on the overall report. I might collate the data in the report itself (which deals with specific cases and studies in each region) for a future post.

Read more... )
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Why Disability Tropes Matter: Supercrips and Accommodations

Last year at FWD/Forward, I wrote about the role that the good cripple archetype has in accessibility and accommodations denials. The idea that people with disabilities should be meek and quiet and grateful for what they have plays directly into why it can be so difficult to get accommodations. Either you must be a good cripple and not ask for them, because it would be a bother, and you’d hate to do that. Or you ask for them and they are denied because you are not being nice and nonthreatening:
The bad cripples raise the stink. The bad cripples are the ones who point out accessibility issues, who call ahead before going places to see if they are accessible, who write angry letters, who force businesses to comply with at least the bare minimum of the law. The bad cripples kick up a fuss, a nuisance, make a mess. I wouldn’t want to be like one of them, attracting all that attention.
There’s another disability archetype that plays an important role in discussions about accommodations, and that is our old friend the supercrip, covered excellently by Annaham at Bitch Magazine:MORE
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THAILAND Disabling Disability :Exhibition highlights technology to aid people with impaired hearing and eyesight

Technology has come to the aid of people with disabilities, thanks to the ingenuity of university students whose gadgets, soon to go on view at i-CREATe 2011, could help bridge gaps in their communication with other people and enable them to do their daily chores on their own.
i-CREATe stands for International Convention for Rehabilitation Engineering & Assistive Technology, and it is being organised by the National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre (Nectec) with cooperation from the Singapore-based Therapeutic, Assistive & Rehabilitative Technology Centre.

The exhibition will feature cutting-edge technology and innovations that are the result of research projects focussing on people with disabilities, such as impaired hearing and eyesight, undertaken by students in Thailand and overseas. There will also be workshops and seminars.

One highlight is the Student Design Challenge forum that will showcase, among others, communication software, a sign-language translator, a brain-controlled wheelchair, and a universal standing wheelchair for children with cerebral palsy.

The communication software is called CPEeK-Up (pronounced "speak up") and was developed by Kasetsart University's Faculty of Engineering. It combines automatic speech synthesis, Bluetooth technology and self-designed hardware to simulate communication assistance that serves as an intermediary between interlocutors. This software connects to a phone via Bluetooth and the designed hardware, and conveys speech signals to a PC. Handicapped people can engage in conversation using then text-based interface. The system then synthesises speech and sends it to the person the user is conversing with.MORE


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