Posted by: quiscus | April 10, 2011

April 10, 2010

1.  “Thursday, 8 February 2007

Bird Flu in the UK: Another Government Inside Job?

On January 30 this year, turkeys started dying at a farm in Suffolk, England. Two days later, another 860 birds died there. The state veterinary service was contacted, and on February 3 it was confirmed to be an outbreak of the most dangerous form of bird flu, the H5N1 strain. The farm’s entire flock of 159,000 turkeys was culled. More than 320 farm workers had to take the antiviral drug Tamiflu, though so far none appear to have become infected with the disease. According to The Guardian, this is “the first H5N1 outbreak in British poultry since an infection of 8,000 turkeys in Norfolk in December 1991.”

What is suspicious about this whole affair is that on January 30, the day when the first chicks died at the farm, the British government and numerous agencies were holding the first phase of a massive training exercise to test their responses to an outbreak of bird flu. A Department of Health spokesperson said, “It was pure fortuitous timing on our behalf.” The exercise, called Winter Willow, is described as “a UK wide pandemic influenza exercise sponsored by the Cabinet Office and the Department of Health in London, and organised by the Health Protection Agency.” Its aim was “to enhance the UK’s ability to manage the effects of an influenza pandemic by practising and validating response policies and the decision-making process at National, Regional and Local levels.” The Sunday Mirror reported that, in order “to prepare Britain for a lethal bird flu outbreak,” Winter Willow would involve “all the emergency services, town hall officials and government ministers including Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt and Environment Secretary David Miliband.” While the exercise’s first stage was on January 30, a second stage is planned for February 19-20. Patricia Hewitt told ITV 1’s The Sunday Edition, “[W]e’ve still got more weeks to go of that exercise so that we learn the lessons of this.”

Hewitt called Winter Willow, “the biggest planning exercise there’s ever been on pandemic flu.” The Sunday Times called it “the largest emergency exercise since the cold war.” It added, “Police will stop people entering exclusion zones and emergency centres will be set up to make the exercise as real as possible. Ministers will take part in mock media conferences in what is being described as ‘one of the largest and most ambitious’ projects of its kind ever conducted. The exercise will also involve international agencies and bodies, including the World Health Organisation and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.”

We could perhaps dismiss the concurrence of the Winter Willow exercise with the actual outbreak of bird flu in Suffolk as just an extraordinary coincidence. However, this seems increasingly unlikely if we look back to the previous incident of H5N1 bird flu in the UK, which occurred in early April 2006. On that occasion, a dead swan found in a harbor in Fife, Scotland was discovered to have the strain. And at the very same time, the British government was holding its first full bird flu exercise — “Exercise Hawthorn.” The BBC described Exercise Hawthorn as “an office-based initiative set three days into a hypothetical outbreak of avian influenza in poultry.” Run by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), it was based on a “scenario in which bird flu was found on a free-range poultry farm in Norfolk, with suspected cases at a turkey farm in the north of England and at an egg production unit in south Wales.” Also participating were Downing Street, the Environment Agency, the Ministry of Defence, and other government departments. The exercise was canceled in response to the actual case of bird flu. The UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer Debby Reynolds said, “I brought to an end the national avian influenza exercise to ensure that we can bring all our resources to bear on this situation.”

The fact that both of the most recent incidents of H5N1 bird flu in Britain have coincided with major training exercises is evidence that the bird flu has been no accident, but instead due to deliberate acts by a rogue group [FMB – rogue group my ass] working within the government. The purpose is to frighten the British public.

Internet investigative reporter Paul Joseph Watson explains how training exercises can help such a rogue group to perform its treasonous acts: “Staged-managed manufactured crises are always paralleled by drills of the same nature. This provides culpable deniability if any government agency is caught with their hands in the cookie jar. They can say it was just part of the drill.” … nment.html

2.  Libya: Media Propaganda and “Humanitarian Imperialism”

In an article entitled “The Rules of War Propaganda” [], Michel Collon details the Western media’s war coverage and the “inevitable rules of ‘war propaganda’”: demonize the enemy, leave out the geographical and historical context, hide the real interest, and avoid recalling past media manipulation.

3.  “The Washington Post’s dependence on the government it covers

The Washington Post this morning published a lengthy article detailing the fortune — and now the trouble — generated for its parent company, The Washington Post Co., as a result of its acquisition of Kaplan Higher Ed. While The Post continues to lose money, Kaplan — particularly its sprawling network of for-profit “universities” which the company began building in 2000 — generates huge profits for the company, profits on which the Post Co. depends almost completely for its sustainability.

Indeed, the newspaper has become little more than a side vanity project for the Post Co. and the Graham family which continues to dominate it; it is now, at its core, in the business of profiting off of lower-income students who pay for diplomas, often obtained via online classes. “The fate of The Post Co. has become inextricably linked with that of Kaplan, where revenue climbed to $2.9 billion in 2010, 61 percent of The Post Co.’s total,” the article detailed; “the company is more dependent than ever on a single business,’ [CEO Donald] Graham wrote in last year’s annual report, adding that the newspaper had never accounted for as large a share of overall company revenue as Kaplan does today.”

The article is largely devoted to recounting the corruption and abuses which pervade the for-profit education industry in general and Kaplan in particular (saddling poor people with debt in exchange for nothing of real value). But what I found most notable is how dependent is this industry — including The Washington Post Co. — on staying in the good graces of the Federal Government. Because these schools target low-income students, the vast majority of their income is derived from federal loans. Because there have been so many deceptive practices and defaults, the Federal Government has become much more aggressive about regulating these schools and now play a vital role in determining which ones can thrive and which ones fail.

Put another way, the company that owns The Washington Post is almost entirely at the mercy of the Federal Government and the Obama administration — the entities which its newspaper ostensibly checks and holds accountable. “By the end of 2010, more than 90 percent of revenue at Kaplan’s biggest division and nearly a third of The Post Co.’s revenue overall came from the U.S. government.” The Post Co.’s reliance on the Federal Government extends beyond the source of its revenue; because the industry is so heavily regulated, any animosity from the Government could single-handedly doom the Post Co.’s business — a reality of which they are well aware

For each of these large corporations, alienating federal government officials is about the worst possible move it could make — something of which all of its employees, including its media division employees, are well aware. But the Post Co.’s dependence is even more overwhelming than most.

How can a company which is almost wholly dependent upon staying in the good graces of the U.S. Government possibly be expected to serve as a journalistic “watchdog” over that same Government? The very idea is absurd. The whole point of the First Amendment’s free press guarantee is that adversarial journalism is possible only if journalists are independent of political power. Yet the U.S. now has exactly the opposite dynamic: most major media outlets are owned by corporations that are anything but independent of government: they are quite dependent upon political officials for their profit in countless ways. We have anything but an independent press, which is another way of saying we have anything but a free press.

If you tell journalists that they are restrained in adversarial reporting by such motivations, they will vehemently deny it and perhaps even believe their denials. Media self-censorship is rarely overt; these journalists thus do not typically receive memos instructing them to lavish political officials with favorable treatment and avoid alienating them (though sometimes that’s exactly how they receive those dictates). But that’s because such instructions are unnecessary. Any employees who thrive in large corporations do so by learning what’s in their employer’s interests and acting dutifully to promote those interests. No corporate employee can remain for long if their actions subvert their employer’s core interests.”


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