Showing posts with label propaganda. Show all posts
Showing posts with label propaganda. Show all posts

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Is Sky News Autralia fast becoming national propaganda central for extreme world views?


This is an excerpt from the book Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (1988) by  Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky.


That these observations have a basis in fact can sadly be borne out by mainstream and social media in 2018.

Take this most recent example....



The United Patriots Front (UPF) is a far-right Australian white supremacists group.

In September 2017 admirer of Adolf Hitler, UPF founder & sometime leader Blair Cottrell and two supporters were each convicted under Victoria’s Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 and fined $2,000 plus $79.50 in statutory costs for religious vilification/inciting serious contempt.

This is not the first time Cottrell has been before the courts. In 2013 he was gaoled for a string of offences including stalking, arson, burglary and damaging property.

Despite this dubious history Sky News decided to invite him on as a guest of former Northern Territory Chief Minister & former Country Liberal Party Leader Adam Giles for a one-on-one studio interview on The Adam Giles Show on 5 August 2017.






To describe Cottrell as "an activist" is deliberately misleading as his history is well-known, as are some of his more extreme pronouncements such as this:


The reaction to Sky News was swift and this is just four examples:


Sky News issued an apology:



Then announced a ban on Blair Cottrell and a suspension of the Adam Giles Show, along with an internal  management shakeup, as the general public pushed to the limits continued to fight back against the 'normalising' of violence and racism.

However, as Sky News often employs markedly right-wing personalities and regularly hosts guests with extreme, intolerant and sometimes racist world views, it is not always easy to accept assertions that extremist views are not the news channel's own views. Or at the very least, that these divisive opinions are seen by Sky News management as driving an agenda desired by News Corp and powerful right-wing groups.

In fact Sky News appears to be fast developing into a version of that US right-wing propaganda vehicle, Fox News, in that it seeks to legitimise and monetise for its own corporate profit the most dangerous elements on the far-right political and social spectrum.1


Notes


1. Sky News' liking for yellow press journalism hasn't past unnoticed. 
Junkee, 6 August 2018: Sky News…. was deeply sorry for slut-shaming a (female) federal senator a few weeks ago. In the past, Sky News has been deeply sorry for linking a (female) former state Premier to corruption, deeply sorry for poking fun at a (female) journalist’s disability, and deeply sorry for suggesting a school boy was gay because he’d appeared in a video about feminism.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Bligh Turnbull supports an attempt by former prime ministers Howard and Abbott to impose an elitist world view


Here is public comment on and by the main characters in what looks remarkably like an ill-considered and rather crude attempt at a beer hall putsch against academic freedom.

With one of the eight Ramsey Centre directors, Tony Abbott, giving the game away when he revealed that half of the proposed four-person Partnership Management Committee had an expectation that this committee would directly set the Bachelor of Western Civilsation curriculum and hire academic staff.

An expectation which appears confirmed by a statemet attributed to the Ramsey Centre CEO that; “If we feel like it’s not going to go to appreciation of Western Civilization, then we can withdraw the funding.”  

Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation vision statement:

Paul Ramsay was a leading Australian businessman who was passionate about education and wished to educate future generations in the traditions and practices of western civilisation: its history, philosophy, literature, science, theology, music, art and architecture.

He also wanted to create over time a cadre of leaders – Australians whose awareness and appreciation of their country’s Western heritage and values, of the challenges that have confronted leaders and people, with that broad heritage in the past, would help guide their decision making in the future.

The Ramsay Centre Scholarships will provide students from across Australia the opportunity to study western civilisation in this spirit at one of our partner universities. Places will also be available within the BA degrees to non-scholarship holders. [my yellow highlighting]

The ANU Observer, 8 March 2018:

ANU announced plans for a $25,000 a year scholarship associated with a proposed Bachelor of Western Civilization on Tuesday, subject to student consultation. The announcement occurred at a forum for staff and student feedback, where more details of the proposed program were given, though some students voiced concerns.

At $25,000, the scholarship is the largest ever offered at ANU. It will be larger by just above 15% than the Tuckwell Scholarship, which is set at $21,700 for 2018.....

In a question at the forum, one attendee quoted the CEO of the Ramsay Centre, Simon Haines, as saying, “If we feel like it’s not going to go to appreciation of Western Civilization, then we can withdraw the funding.”  [my yellow highlighting]


*The proposed program comprises 16 core courses, typically taken over three years, with an additional Honours year sequence open to outstanding students. Students may replace up to 4 of the 16 BWC courses with 4 courses of classical or modern European language study. Students will be able to take the program alongside other disciplines offered by the University and (in the case of double-degree students) other degrees.

*The different courses within the program consider books from a variety of genres or disciplines (predominately works of literature, history, philosophy, religion, politics) but also including architecture, art and music, 

*The program will be capped at 60 students consisting of up to 30 scholarship recipients in the first year and up to 30 non-scholarship recipients. Up to 10 further scholarships will be made available to students in the second year of the degree.

*A distinct aspect of the proposed program is the use of the ‘Socratic’ approach. The program aims to create active learners engaged with primary texts in classes of no more than six to eight students. These small-group discussions will be supplemented by a series of panel-style discussions where academics from different perspectives engage in discussion with each other and with students.

*Curriculum recommendations will be made by the Partnership Management Committee (consisting of two academic staff from the Ramsay Centre and two academics from the ANU, one of whom is the Dean of CASS) and considered through the normal ANU academic processes[my yellow highlighting]

Liberal MP for Warringah Tony Abbott in Quadrant Online, 24 May 2018:

“The key to understanding the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation is that it’s not merely about Western civilisation but in favour of it. The fact that it is “for” the cultural inheritance of countries such as ours, rather than just interested in it, makes it distinctive. The fact that respect for our heritage has largely been absent for at least a generation in our premier teaching and academic institutions makes the Ramsay Centre not just timely but necessary. This is an important national project. It’s not every day, after all, that such a big endowment is dedicated in perpetuity to raising the tone of our civic conversation…..

A management committee including the Ramsay CEO and also its academic director will make staffing and curriculum decisions.” [my yellow highlighting]

Brisbane Times, 7 June 2015:

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will personally intervene in the ANU's decision to pull out of a controversial new degree in Western Civilisation, saying he wants to talk to the university's vice-chancellor about it directly.

On Thursday, Mr Turnbull became the latest Liberal politician to wade into the furore over the course, which was to be funded by the John Howard-headed Ramsay Centre.
The Prime Minister said he was "very surprised" by the ANU's decision last week to end six months of negotiation with the centre and would be speaking to vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt personally "to get his account of it".

"I find it very hard to understand why that proposal from the Ramsay Foundation would not have been accepted with enthusiasm," Mr Turnbull said….
[my yellow highlighting]

Professor Brian Schmidt AC, Vice-Chancellor and President, Australian National University, writing in The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 June 2018:

The news came yesterday that Australian National University remains ranked by QS as number one in Australia and in the top 25 universities in the world. It is a global reputation we take seriously. One that is built on the basis of academic autonomy and free academic inquiry.

ANU has declined donations in the past and will again where we are unable to meet the wishes of the donor within our normal practices. It is right that we explore opportunities openly and in good faith, but it is also right that we let prospective donors know when we cannot provide them with what they want.

Our decision to end negotiations with the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilization has attracted a great deal of interest. In this case, the prospective donor sought a level of influence over our curriculum and staffing that went beyond what any other donor has been granted, and was inconsistent with academic autonomy.

This would set a precedent that would completely undermine the integrity of the University.

While there has been plenty of noise from all ends about the merits of the study of Western civilisation, the decision at our end has nothing to do with the subject matter.

In fact, the reason we entered into discussions and, no doubt, why we were of interest to the donor, is our global reputation for scholarship and teaching across the full breadth of the Western liberal tradition from classics, history and literature to philosophy, art and music. We offer more than 150 courses in western scholarship. It would take 18 years of study to complete all of those courses.

The opportunity to augment our teaching and research in these areas, along with a generous scholarship program for students, was an attractive proposition for ANU and we were grateful to the Ramsay Centre for considering ANU as a partner.

But at the end of the day, the University operates on the same principles with all donors, whatever their area of interest. Whether it is funding to support the study of Persian language or the study of classics, the same principles apply. The University retains full control of all curriculum and staffing decisions. This actually gets to the crux of the issue here for us. In this case, the donor sought a level of influence over our curriculum and staffing that went beyond any existing arrangements we have.
[my yellow highlighting]

UPDATE


On 1 June The Australian National University announced that it was withdrawing from negotiations to create a degree program with the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation. We took our decision for no other reason than the Centre's continued demands for control over the program were inconsistent with the University's academic autonomy.
We anticipated attacks from some for even contemplating introducing the degree, and from others for being anti-Western civilisation. What we had less reason to expect was the protracted media firestorm which has continued daily for nearly a month, in certain sections of the press, with ANU constantly assaulted for capitulating to pressure from those hostile to the Ramsay Centre, but without evidence or new information being offered. Scrutiny from the press is crucial in western democracies in holding public institutions to account - and universities should not escape it. But does stating over and over again a false narrative make it true? 
We have intentionally refrained from going into the details of the University's negotiations with the Ramsay Centre, partly because of our respect for what we had understood to be the confidentiality of those negotiations, partly to allow the Centre clear air to rethink its position after exploring options with other institutions, and partly because of our unwillingness to personalise the arguments in the way that others have been all too ready to do. But it has become obvious that we need now to further explain our decision "in the public square".
If ANU had withdrawn from the program simply because some people within our ranks were uncomfortable, for essentially ideological reasons, with the very idea of it, we would deserve all the criticism hurled at us.  But that was absolutely not the case. There was, and remains, strong support across the University for a major enhancement of our teaching and research capacity in the area of Western civilisation studies. We are attracted by the wide-ranging liberal arts courses taught in some prominent American universities, and remain wholly willing to craft a similar degree course here. Designed to convey understanding and respect for the great Western intellectual and cultural traditions - albeit in our own way:  analytically rigorous, not triumphalist, and open to comparisons being drawn, as appropriate, with other major intellectual and cultural traditions.
ANU has long been ranked number one in Australia in humanities disciplines, and we already teach some 150 undergraduate subjects addressing Western civilisation themes. The attractiveness of having major new resources to advance them, is why an enormous amount of effort has been invested by our staff in developing a very detailed proposal, including a draft syllabus, in support of a Ramsay gift, and why negotiations for common ground continued as long as they did.
So what went wrong? We withdrew from negotiations because there were irreconcilable differences over the governance of the proposed program, not its substance.  We were willing to accept the Ramsay Centre having a voice in curriculum design and staff appointments. But only a voice, not a controlling influence. From the outset, however, the Centre has been locked in to an extraordinarily prescriptive micro-management approach to the proposed program, unprecedented in our experience, embodied in a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) of some 30 pages with another 40 pages of detailed annexures.
It has insisted on a partnership management committee to oversee every aspect of the curriculum and its implementation - with equal numbers from both the Ramsay Centre and ANU, meaning an effective Ramsay veto.
It has been unwilling to accept our own draft curriculum, and has refused to accept our preferred name for the degree ('Western Civilisation Studies')While acknowledging that any curriculum would have to be endorsed by the ANU Academic Board, it has made clear that to be acceptable to the Ramsay Centre it would have to find favour with the joint management committee - with its representatives being able to sit in the classes that we teach and undertake "health checks" on the courses and the teachers.
It became clear that there are fundamental differences in our respective conceptions of the role of a university.  The Centre has gone so far as to insist on the removal of "academic freedom" as a shared objective for the program: this remains in the draft MOU as an ANU objective, not a Ramsay one. For us academic freedom doesn't mean freedom to underperform or to teach without regard to the disciplines or agreed objectives of a particular syllabus. But it does mean appointment or retention of staff on the basis of their demonstrated academic merit, not political or ideological preference.
A continuing concern has been that the proposed Ramsay funding is provided short-term, up for renewal in eight years. A time-limited gift is not in itself problematic, but building a major program involving the hiring of a dozen staff, and then being held hostage to its continuation by a donor whose most senior and influential board members appear to have manifestly different views to ours about university autonomy, is not a happy position for any university to be in.
Ramsay CEO Simon Haines, in an interview in last weekend's Fairfax Press (The Age, 23 June), has now at last engaged in a little circumspect distancing from the Tony Abbott article in Quadrant, which was very explicit about the controls envisaged. But that dissociation has been a long time coming, and it remains to be seen whether there will in fact be a change in the Ramsay board's position.  In successive conversations with the Centre, ANU sought public assurances that Ramsay's position had been misstated, and that the University's autonomy in actually implementing agreed objectives would be fully respected.  But no reply we have received has given us any cause to believe that the MOU, with all its over-reach, would be fundamentally revised.  In the result, it was simply impossible on our side to believe that there was sufficient trust and confidence for the project to proceed.
We withdrew from the negotiations for governance reasons of this kind. Boiled down, the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation simply did not trust the ANU to deliver a program acceptable to it, and consequently asked for controls on the University's delivery of the degree that ANU could not - and should not - agree to.  
ANU, accepts gifts from individuals, foundations, groups, entities, government agencies, and foreign governments. In no cases are these gifts allowed to compromise the University's academic integrity, nor are they allowed to impose on our academic freedom, or autonomy. Regarding historical gifts surrounding our Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies (CAIS), Australia's leading academic capability in its area, let us be clear: if the Ramsay Centre were to take the same approach to a gift to ANU as the donors to CAIS, we could reach an agreement in less than 48 hours.
The University has never accepted gifts with such restrictions as demanded by Ramsay, and under our watch as Chancellor and Vice Chancellor we never will.
Let us offer this frank assessment as things stand at the moment, as the Ramsay Centre seeks other partners: to succeed, either they will have to change its approach and trust its partners to deliver a program in Western Civilisation studies, or be limited to a university willing to make concessions on academic autonomy. If the Ramsay Centre and its board are prepared to understand and respect the autonomy of Australia's national university, our door remains open.
Professor the Hon Gareth Evans AC QC and Professor Brian Schmidt AC are Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor, respectively, of The Australian National University.
 [my yellow highlighting]

Friday, 16 March 2018

With a royal commission having found that all major religions house and protect paedophiles we still find Liberal Party MPs seeking to extend the influence of priests & ministers in the Australian school system in 2018



Dozens of federal Liberal MPs have reportedly signed a petition calling for a 25 per cent funding increase for the controversial National Schools Chaplaincy Program. 

Whether the budget can afford the funding increase or whether the money would be better spent elsewhere are interesting issues. The bigger legal issue is that the way the chaplains program operates is illegal…….

The High Court has struck down the chaplains program as illegal twice already. In 2012, the High Court ruled the program illegal because the federal government was paying for the chaplains program without any legislation authorising the spending. To overcome the High Court decision, federal Parliament quickly passed legislation to authorise the spending.

The chaplains program again was struck down again in 2014. Federal Parliament can only pass legislation dealing with certain subject matters. The High Court ruled that school chaplains do not fall within any of those.

To get around its own lack of power to run the chaplains program, the federal government now grants money to the states for them to run it. Lots of federal government programs operate this way with the states running programs on behalf of the federal government using federal money.

Getting a job as a chaplain requires a person to be recognised as qualified for the role "through formal ordination, commissioning, recognised religious qualifications or endorsement by a recognised or accepted religious institution". In other words, a person has to be religious and endorsed by a religious group in order to get a job as a chaplain. Atheists need not apply.

Individual schools pick which religion they want their chaplain to be a member of and then recruit a person from that religion for the job.

But it makes no practical sense to require a chaplain to have a particular religion. Chaplains are strictly prohibited from religious proselytising, although there are sometimes reports of chaplains breaking the rules. The High Court even commented that despite the religious sounding job title, the actual work chaplains do has nothing much to do with religion. Justice Dyson Heydon wrote that the work of chaplains "could have been done by persons who met a religious test. It could equally have been done by persons who did not".

In other words, there is no genuine occupational requirement for a chaplain to be a member of any particular religion or to be religious at all. The federal government has simply decided that it wants all chaplains to be religious.

Requiring a chaplain to be a member of a particular religion is inconsistent with the nature of public schools……

Requiring a chaplain to be a member of a particular religion is also illegal. Each state has anti-discrimination or equal opportunity legislation making it illegal to discriminate against a person on the ground of religion in employment decisions. These anti-discrimination rules apply to public schools and their hiring decisions.

Public schools cannot advertise a teacher’s job and require that only Hindus are eligible to apply. Public schools cannot advertise a cleaner’s job and require that only Baptists are eligible to apply. The reason is because that would be discrimination on the ground of religion in employment.

It’s exactly the same with chaplains. Requiring a chaplain to be a member of a particular religion is religious discrimination and completely illegal for public schools…..

The state anti-discrimination commissions should do something about public schools breaching religious discrimination laws. If they don’t, someone will eventually go to court and the school chaplains program will probably be ruled illegal for the third, and hopefully final, time.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Having failed to walk the walk Nationals MP & Australian Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources is belatedly trying to talk the talk


Well the Nationals are out there trying to ‘spin’ their party as reasonable and balanced in the hope of repairing political damage caused by the recent Ministerial Code of Conduct-Use of Parliamentary Entitlements scandal.

This was former National Australia Bank rural financial adviser, Nationals MP for Maranoa since July 2016 & Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources since December 2017, David Kelly Littleproud.


The heir to Barnaby Joyce's portfolio has declared he has nothing against renewables, believes climate change is fundamentally reshaping agriculture, and called on city dwellers to wake up to the economic heavy lifting being done by Australia's farmers.

David Littleproud, the banker who came within a couple of votes of snatching the Nationals leadership last week, has no intention of emulating the former deputy prime minister.

"I am in favour of renewables, make no mistake," he said. "It will mean we will have cleaner air to breathe, there is nothing to fear in that."

The Agriculture Minister, who party leaders hope will appeal to a new generation of voters, said renewables needed to be brought in a way that "doesn't impact someone being able to put a light on or a farmer being able to put a pump on".

"The stark reality," he said, is farmers had been trying to deal with the effects of climate change since they were "putting till in the ground".

The 41-year-old rejected calls from environmentalists for an agricultural climate change adaptation plan, but says that's only because farmers will need to do it themselves or risk losing their crop.

His comments mark a relatively climate-friendly shift from Mr Joyce, who promoted Mr Littleproud into cabinet before Christmas....

What David Littleproud does not say is that he has never voted against the Liberal-Nationals party line in the House of Representatives to date.

Which means he is on record as voting against:


And voting for:


Somehow I don’t see Littleproud making much headway with what he calls “a new generation of voters”.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Facebook Inc remains part of the problem


Tin-eared social media giant Facebook Inc demonstrates once again that it is part of the problem and not part of the solution, as it promotes toxic gun culture at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference and fails to come to grips with its part in spreading conspiracy theories and "fake news".

Gizmondo, 25 February 2018:

Facebook has pulled a demo of Oculus Rift's VR shooter Bullet Train from the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland amid concerns over gun violence, Variety reported earlier.

It doesn't appear to have been Bullet Train's violent content that prompted the withdrawal per se, but rather that CPAC draws lots of gun rights advocates right at the same time those same National Rifle Association types are drawing a massive wave of criticism in the wake of another school massacre in Parkland, Florida this month.

A number of companies have cut ties with the NRA, like software firm Symantec, which decided to pull discounts for the pro-gun group's members this week. A running New York Times tally of others to do so includes banks, airlines, automotive rentals and services, insurance companies, and a home security company.

As the Times noted on Friday, boycott campaigns tend to fade over time but this time the pressure has built quickly, buoyed by a number of Parkland survivors speaking out on social media and leaving some corporations with no middle ground to recede to.
demo clip of Bullet Train hosted on the Oculus Rift website shows that at least one level in the game involves the player fighting through waves of "resistance forces" in a fairly generic rail station setting. It does not appear to be particularly bloody, though video of CPAC attendees using the game's motion-tracking controls in a vague pantomime of actual shooting probably did not help, either.

In a statement to Variety, Facebook virtual reality VP Hugo Barra said:

There is a standard set of experiences included in the Oculus demos we feature at public events. A few of the action games can include violence. In light of the recent events in Florida and out of respect for the victims and their families, we have removed them from this demo. We regret that we failed to do so in the first place.

Yet the optics of the Oculus Rift demo are probably not the most important issue Facebook should be worried about right now.

Facebook itself has also come under fire for the rapid spread of conspiracy theories about the Parkland shooting, which as CNN noted migrate from internet underbellies like 4chan onto mainstream social media sites via "conservative pages, alt-right personalities, nationalist blogs and far-right pundits." Posts on Facebook promoting the idiotic smear that survivors speaking out against guns were "crisis actors," i.e. some hazily defined variety of professional propagandists paid off to promote gun control, went far and wide; the social media giant repeatedly declined to discuss how it was enforcing violations of its community guidelines against offenders when asked by CNN.

Per the New York Times, it is still really, really easy to find hundreds of posts claiming the shooting was part of a "deep state" black flag operation or the like using Facebook's built-in search option, which kind of calls into question the company's sincerity:

On Facebook and Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, searches for the hashtag #crisisactor, which accused the Parkland survivors of being actors, turned up hundreds of posts perpetuating the falsehood (though some also criticised the conspiracy theory). Many of the posts had been tweaked ever so slightly -- for example, videos had been renamed #propaganda rather than #hoax -- to evade automated detection.

The spread of the theories on Facebook has also caused some in the tech media to question whether the long-maligned and ill-defined "trending" metric should be retired. Users who post conspiracy theories often rabidly engage with others promoting similar ideas, which in numerous instances means the posts are promoted right to the top of Facebook and other sites like YouTube.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Surprise, Surprise. Nationals appear to be telling pork pies to voters on the NSW North Coast yet again



Echo NetDaily, 15 Februaty 2018:

An animal activist has accused two National Party MPs of 'misleading the public' over claims the RMS has revegetated more than a hundred hectares of land along the Pacific Highway Ballina upgrade route with tens of thousands of koala feed trees.
In recent weeks both roads minister Melinda Pavey and north coast MLC Ben Franklin have made public statements regarding the re-vegetation of koala habitat at Meerschaum Vale to compensate for the damage caused by the highway upgrade construction.
On February 3, Minister Pavey said in a press release that 'the government had re-vegetated 130 hectares of land with 95,000 koala feed trees.'
Then on February 9, Mr Franklin said that 'about 110 hectares, equating to 80,000 koala food trees had so far been planted and there were plans to plant another 20 hectares as part of the Woolgoolga to Ballina Upgrade.'

Empty paddock

But co-ordinator of Australians For Animals, Sue Arnold, told Echonetdaily she took a field trip to the re-vegetation site earlier this week, which 'revealed an empty paddock with no koala feed trees planted in spite of a sign indicating that the planting was part of a "130 hectares of Koala Food Trees planted".'
Ms Arnold said she was unable to find any other planting sites in the vicinity.