Why I think Mainstream Media is Living in a Past

Over the past few weeks I had an opportunity to visit a number of European countries. I enjoyed the trip, I feel rested and enriched by all the historic sites I’ve visited. I also feel sad.

Sitting in s hotel room in Spain, I turn TV on to news, and I see CNN, MSNBC, BBC, ABC, NBC….

Moving to a hotel in France, I turn TV on to news, and I see CNN, MSNBC, BBC, ABC, NBC….

Next stop, in a hotel in Italy, I turn TV on to news, and I see CNN, MSNBC, BBC, ABC, NBC….

Media integrity

Media integrity

You see the pattern, right? I feel sad because I’ve come to realise that no matter where you are in a world, you are very limited on a number of independent mainstream sources that are available to you when it comes to keeping up with the news and current affairs.
The number of genuine sources can really be counted on fingers of one hand. And most of the other ones are really just a repeat of each other.
It also made me realise that our mainstream media can be to blame for flaming the fire between the old Cold War enemies the West and the Russia.
The problem is that the Western media picked up where they left off some 25 years ago, and keep using the old recipe of blaming the Russia for all the evil in the world. What they fail to understand, is that the world has changed.

Back in a 70’s and 80’s, Western media could dish out as much dirt on Russians as it wanted. 95% of Russian population didn’t have access to this sort of “news”, and therefore didn’t care. Today things are different. Thanks to the advance of internet, every Russian is fully aware of all the filth that they’ve been smeared with, courtesy of CNN and other letters of alphabet claiming to be News providers.

Time for change

Time for change

It is now a good time for the mainstream media to stop and re-evaluate its position and its relevance. It is time to change, time to act. Because if you really think that Russians are so evil and dangerous, why would you poke the bear? You might well end up with a broken back….

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What is the cost of a human life?

What is the cost of a human life?

On a surface, it’s a simple enough question. After all, a human life is all we have, is the only thing we care about. I mean really care about. Human life is priceless, right?

Well, it depends. Depends on whose life it is. Over the past 5 years the world has seen lots and lots of people die. In Syria alone, 250,000 people died. What did the world do about it? Nothing.

Syrian  conflict - 250,000 people dead

Syrian conflict – 250,000 people dead

Sure, we sent some troops in, we dropped few bombs, we ran few news reports, but largely, this remained something that was happening to some random people in a part of the world where someone is always fighting someone else. So we really didn’t give a shit.

Not until terrorists killed 224 people on board of a Russian plane and 130 people in Paris attacks.

Suddenly, the whole world is outraged. Russia, France and the USA talk about tough measures to stop terror. They talk about retaliation. They talk about being at war. Things just got real.

French soldiers patrol near the Eiffel Tower in Paris

French soldiers patrol near the Eiffel Tower in Paris

And so now, we can try to answer our question about the cost of a human life.

One Russian life cost about 1,116 Syrian lives. One French life cost about 1,923 Syrian lives.

The world has to come to realisation that a terrorist act is a terrorist act regardless if it happens in Middle East, Europe, Bali, or anywhere else in a world. The world has to come to realisation that a terrorist act is a terrorist act regardless of a weapon being used. It can be a nervous gas, or a Kalashnikov, or a bomb, or a knife, or a rock. The victims of terrorist acts don’t care how they got killed.

The families of victims don’t care how their loved once got murdered. What they want, what they really care about is for us to get real and to stop the terror.

Russian Empire Strikes Back

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past month or so, you would’ve heard about Russia moving in and “acquiring” a bit of Ukrainian territory- relatively small, but important bit of land called Crimea.

There have been a lot said about the issue, some labeling Russia as an “aggressor”, some applauding Russia for taking back what’s rightfully theirs.

Russian expands its empire

Russia looks at expanding its empire

Both sides use similar arguments to prove they are right….Ukraine was there first, or Russia was there longer. Every time I read it, I quietly giggle to myself and think of another party that might put a claim to Crimea, one with more reasons than Russia or Ukraine, yet virtually never mentioned in mainstream media. This third party is Germany.

Yes, as strange as it might sound, but the longest living people in Crimea were the Goth people, present day Germany. According to some sources, they have been living in Crimea between 850 CE and middle 1800’s. So maybe someone should tell Angela Merkel about the opportunity to expand?

This is of course a joke. I think that things are complicated enough with only Russians and Ukrainians claiming ownership, without Germany throwing their hat into proverbial ring.

What isn’t a joke is the fact that there is currently a petition on the White House’s petitions site, asking US Government to give Alaska back to Russia. When I came across it for the first time, I was amused by it, thinking something along the lines “look – a few hundred idiots playing a prank”.

However when I looked at this site again a couple of weeks later, the number of people who had signed the petition has grown to almost 39,000. Now for anyone unfamiliar with the process, once the petition is lodged, it needs to attract 100,000 signatures in 1 month for it to be looked at by the Government. With 2 weeks to go and 61,000 signatures still needed, I seriously doubt this initiative will ever get the numbers required, but stranger things happen.

Stunning view north of Fairbanks, Alaska

Stunning view north of Fairbanks, Alaska

So all the good people of Alaska can breeze easy and sleep well, knowing that when they wake up in a morning, there would be still a stars-n-stripes waving at them from the mast of the Governor’s Mansion, and the only Russians on the streets of Alaska’s cities would be the 10,000 or so that have been living there for the past few centuries.

 

 

I will finish off with a famous quote: Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

Putin’s nomination for Nobel Peace Prize

OK, I admit it. I am a big fan of a current Tsar of Russia, Vladimir Putin. So it would come as no surprise that when I’ve heard about Putin being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, I just jumped at an opportunity to write about this deserving man receiving equally deserving prize.

Putin nominated for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize

Russian Tzar is nominated for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize

Everyone knows about The Nobel Prize. But what is the criteria to get nominated for such a prestigious award? Here is what it says: The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses”.

It makes sense then, that the latest nominee is the Russia’s darling, Vladimir Putin. After all, supplying weapons to regimes known for their genocidal tendencies is totally in line with “reduction of standing armies” – with enough weapons you can reduce any opposing army, right? It is during Putin’s administration that Syrian rebels received supplies of high-grade weapons. It is also during his administration that the conflict between Russia and Chechnya escalated to its highest form.

So why did he get nominated? Did someone make a mistake? A once-off lapse of judgement? Hardly. Unfortunately, The Nobel Prize became too much of a political tool and not enough of an instrument by which true peace achievements can be recognised.

Lets have a look at a few other Laureates, whose achievements are controversial to say the least…

2009 – Barak Obama. Yes, he is a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. Deserving choice, some might say. It would be, if it wasn’t for the fact that he got nominated only 12 days after taking office. I wonder what outstanding things he’s done in these first 12 days?

2004 – Wangari Maathai. Wangari is Kenyan environmental and political activist. Controversy? She has been accused of claiming HIV/Aids was spread deliberately in Africa by Western scientists.

Anwar Sadat - Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

Anwar Sadat – Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

1978 – Anwar Sadat. The President of Egypt received this honour for his part in negotiating the peace agreement with Israel, known as Camp David Agreement. What’s interesting is the reason he got involved in the talks in a first place….Egypt attacked Israel, got their ass kicked by Israelis and had no choice but sit at the table and negotiate.

1973 – Henry Kissinger. Reason? His role in Paris Peace Accords.  What wasn’t mentioned during the nomination is that Kissinger instituted the secret 1969–1975 campaign of bombing against infiltrating NVA in Cambodia.

Putin’s nomination gives him an honor of joining other nominees: Tzar Nicholai II, Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler. It also proves once again that anyone can be nominated. The Nobel Prize has become nothing more than a popularity award. It makes me think that Nobel Prize these days is just like the Logie Awards… makes the winners feel all warm and fuzzy, but doesn’t really mean anything to anyone else.

Logies Award or Nobel Prize?

Logies Award or Nobel Prize?

 

Scum Villages of Amsterdam, or Gulags of Russia?

There is this post doing the rounds on Facebook at the moment, and everyone seems to be so happy about it, hitting “Like” and “Share” and showing their support…. It’s the one about City of Amsterdam hanging out gay pride flags on all council owned buildings and offices. All this just in time for Putin’s visit to Amsterdam. They do it in protest to Russia’s new anti-gay law.

Facebook post displaying gay pride flags in Amsterdam

Facebook post displaying gay pride flags in Amsterdam

Well, I have a problem with it.

First off, let me make it clear that I don’t support Russia’s anti-gay laws.

What I do have a problem with is some lousy local city council trying to tell sovereign foreign country how to run their internal policies. it’s a bit like a Shih Tzu trying to pick a fight with the Moscow Watchdog.

I probably wouldn’t have reacted this way, if it wasn’t for the fact that Amsterdam is currently looking into creating a “scum village”. A modern day version of a lepers colony. The idea behind it is that the council is to create separate camps where people who are making a nuisance of themselves, or are behaving in ways deemed ‘anti-social’ can be sent away.

I assume that the Amsterdam council wants to clean up their municipality and dispose of all the “trash” in one sweep. Which would be great, if it didn’t smell so much of Russian’s infamous gulag system. This is exactly what Stalin was doing – sending people who were deemed ‘anti-social’ to Siberian camps.

So, here it goes: I am not a whinger, but… if you want to teach someone how to fix stuff in their backyard, how about you make sure first that Your backyard is clean?

Who will watch the watchmen?

I couldn’t help but think about this phrase as I was reading news about deteriorating relationships between USA and Russia. The two superpowers (or at least that’s what they like to think of themselves) hit yet another low point in their relationships after Moscow’s decision to grant asylum to the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Obama even had a hissy fit and cancelled his meeting with Putin. Reminded me about observing kids in kindergarten – “I’m not gonna be friends with Johnny no more, he’s playing with my toy, and he doesn’t even want to share!”

Obama and Putin fighting over Snowden

Obama and Putin fighting over Snowden

I understand why the US government is upset and screams “traitor” – I would be upset too, if I were caught red-handed stealing from my friends. One can argue, that giving out state secrets is in fact a treason, and should be punished as such. But at the same time, a government – any government should be accountable for its actions and for the actions of its branches and institutions.

Whenever a government installs more CCTV cameras, or attempts to introduce a National Identity Card, or introduces laws that allow Police to listen in on people’s communications without a warrant, all these attempts are met with an outcry of civil libertarians.

Who is watching you?

Who will watch the watchmen?

The government’s standard response? If you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide.  Makes perfect sense, right? Right, but only if the government is prepared to live and be governed by the same rules.

Another important aspect here is the freedom of information. We are lucky enough to live in a democratic society, and whether we are talking about Australia or America, the basic principles are the same. One of those principles is that public officials are subject to greater scrutiny by society.

These days even the Chinese government has a Regulation on Open Government Information, so unless we want one day to find ourselves being dragged across the coals by Chinese, we better stop pretending that we are a democracy and start acting like one.

Now, I am not a whinger, but…. the question remains – who will watch the watchmen?