Of Badgers & Men (& Censorship)

The reason for my blog being censored by WordPress was because of a post about ‘Sir’ Howard Newby, I have not been told this in an email or any such civilised notification but I found the post had been altered by WP admin and was the source of me being barred from my own blog. If you want some background on ‘Sir’ Howard check out Derek Wall, Ecologics & Bristle’s Blog from the BunKRS. It appears he is very sensitive about his time as vice-chancellor of the University of the West of England and the firm Carter & Carter of which he was a non-executive director, all of which is in the public sphere in various publications, for example this is from the Guardian

The use of management consultancy firms linked to both Sir Howard and his wife, assistant vice-chancellor Lady Sheila Newby, also caused concern.

“They were private companies with no idea about university or academe telling us how to do things and what to do. People got upset because he was running the university life a little fiefdom and giving very big contracts to his mates,” said one academic, who preferred not to be named.

Such big publications with deep pockets were apparently not troubled but he had the University of Liverpool’s (where he is now Vice-Chancellor) legal department in the guise of one Mr. Kevan Ryan, Director of Legal Services go after the low lying blog fruit, which also caught the attention of Index on Censorship. This pushed my anti-censorship button and I made a humorous post that largely concerned itself with how trustworthy ‘Sir’ Howard was in regards to his moral conduct with badgers. But apparently WordPress err on the side of extreme caution when a lawyer and the UK’s libel laws hove into view (or maybe it was something to do with badgers, you never can tell). Consequently I realised I had to find other hosting arrangements for my blog if I am to be independent of people that do not value free speech or my own brand of what we shall loosely call ‘wit’. This has taken some time which is all down to my own procrastination but as we speak, thanks to the generous help of a friend of the blog, a new site is being prepared that is hosted in a far off land, details to come soon. If this post causes another act of censorship please refer to my Twitter feed for updates.

Sir Howard Newby Does Not Have Carnal Relations With Badgers

Just to make it abundantly clear to legal action averse WordPress.com and ‘Sir’ Howard I wish to state categorically that he does not in any way have carnal relations with badgers. And nor does his fragrant wife Lady Sheila Newby. If, for example, one were to leave him (or her) alone with several nubile young badgers, a tube of KY, a bottle of wine and a DVD of ‘Badger Watch’ no untoward activity would take place. Badgers, not to put too fine a point on it, are entirely safe from moral danger and lasciviousness while in the company of the Newbys. Running universities and personal ethics however are another matter.

Is The Obama Administration Victimising A Nobel Peace Prize Winner?

Via FreeGaza

After Downing Street, by Ann Wright former US diplomat:- Less than a month ago, in late July, 2009, Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire (http://www.peacepeople.com/) was travelling from Dublin, Ireland to Albuquerque, New Mexico to meet Peace Laureate Jody Williams to participate in peace events there. As she arrived at Dulles airport near Washington, DC, from Ireland on July 30, 2009, she passed through the regular immigration line, but then was detained in a special processing area over two hours causing her to miss her connecting flight to Albuquerque.

This is the second time Maguire has been detained by US Immigration in the past three months. On May 14, 2009, she was detained at the Houston, Texas, International Airport as she was returning from a 3 day conference in Guatemala, hosted by four of Nobel Peace Women Laureates. During the detention in Houston, Immigration officers questioned her about her visit in April, 2007, to the Palestinian village of Bil’in where she was injured by a rubber-coated bullet shot by Israeli military forces during a protest at the fence built by the Israelis in the village.

In Houston, Maguire asked the Immigration officials what she could do to prevent future detention and was told to get a 10 year visa to the United States.

She immediately applied and obtained a 10 year visa in early July from US Consul in Belfast, Ireland. She presented that visa to the Dulles Airport Immigration official. Maguire had had an indefinite visa to the U.S. in a previous passport and had never had any problems travelling to or through the United States.

Three months later, when she told the U.S. Immigration Officer at Dulles airport that she was a Nobel Peace Laureate and showed him the documents concerning the Peace Laureate meeting she was attending in New Mexico, the Immigration Officer sarcastically said that detention “is going to happen every time you enter the United States,” and “you should get used to it.”

Maguire has been publicly outspoken and critical about Israeli treatment of Palestinians and has a long history of non-violent acts of civil disobedience against war and against nuclear weapons.

Not only was Maguire hit in 2007 by an Israeli military rubber-coated bullet and tear-gassed while participating in a protest against the construction of the Israeli fence dividing the Palestinian village of Bil’in, on June 30, 2009, the boat that Maguire and nineteen others were on in international waters off Gaza was boarded by Israeli military and all the passengers and crew were put in an Israeli prison for 7 days. Maguire was deported from Israel on July 7, as was fellow passenger, former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney.

Earlier, in 2004, as a part of her work against nuclear weapons, she travelled to Israel to meet Mordechai Vanunu as he left prison at the end of his 18 year sentence imposed for his revealing Israel’s nuclear program.

Because of her detention by U.S. Immigration on July 30, 2009, Maguire had to stay overnight in Washington, DC, at her own expense, as United Airlines said they were not responsible for her missing her flight. The next day, she ended up on a flight to New Mexico with 3 stops before getting to Albuquerque at 4pm, missing all the day’s events.

Maguire said that the harassment by U.S. Immigration began in 2009, after the change in U.S. Presidential administrations.

I wonder if the Secretary of State might wish to have discussions with the Secretary of Director of Immigration and Citizenship about how to treat Nobel Peace Laureates, unless, because of her outspoken criticism of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians, the treatment Maguire got on July 30, 2009 was exactly what the Obama administration wants her to have.

Bad YouTube

First The Huffington Post now Youtube has censored Max Blumenthal’s ‘Feeling the Hate in Jerusalem’-

Youtube has removed my video, “Feeling The Hate In Jerusalem,” on the baseless grounds that it contains “inappropriate content.” They have offered me no further explanation and have stonewalled my inquiries and attempts to rectify the situation. Thus they have censored a video that contains far less inflammatory content than thousands of video they are already hosting. Why? I won’t ascribe motives to Youtube I am unable to confirm, but it is clear there is an active campaign by right-wing Jewish elements to suppress the video by filing a flood of complaints with Youtube. At the same time these elements have attempted to paint me as a self-hating Jew determined to foment anti-Semitism. I answered this last charge to Ha’aretz (read the barely coherent article here) last week: “I have received death threats from people, mainly ones calling me a self-hating Jew. I am self-hating, but my self-hatred has nothing to do with me being Jewish.”

Jewish Voices for Peace (the parent organization of the excellent website Muzzlewatch) is preparing an action for tomorrow to pressure Youtube into restoring the video. They are asking their members to email press@youtube.com to demand an explanation for the censorship. For now, I have reposted the video on Vimeo and urge everyone to distribute it widely.

And worst of all it means I have to go back to my post with the vid and put in a new url for the video! Which is frankly just not on, so please write to press@youtube.com 

Some clue as to what may have helped the Zionist lobby pull off the Youtube censorship is provided by Jews Sans Frontieres YouTube has reached out to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). I don’t know what Huffington Posts’s excuse is and for that matter I don’t think Crooks & Liars posted it (yet happily posted his exposes of conservative & Christianist bigotry, hmm). Meanwhile here it is on another YT account yet to be shut down-

PS. CodePink Rule the Beach!

Google Disappear Norman Finkelstein’s Site

Both Jews san frontieres & Philip Weiss have discovered in the last few days Norman Finkelstein’s site has been disappeared from Google search results, you still get other sites with relevance to him and his work but not his own-

http://www.normanfinkelstein.com/

So what gives? Mistaken blacklisting or deliberate action?

PBS is Sicko

Last year, former Washington Post reporter T.R. Reid made a great documentary for the PBS show Frontline titled Sick Around the World. Reid traveled to five countries that deliver health care for all – UK, Japan, Switzerland, Germany, Taiwan – to learn about how they do it. Reid found that the one thing these five countries had in common – none allowed for-profit health insurance companies to sell basic medical coverage.

Frontline then said to Reid – okay, we want you to go around the United States and make a companion documentary titled Sick Around the America. So, Reid traveled around America, interviewing patients, doctors, and health insurance executives. The documentary that resulted – Sick Around America – aired Monday night on PBS.

But even though Reid did the reporting for the film, he was cut out of the film when it aired this week. And the film didn’t present Reid’s bottom line for health care reform – don’t let health insurance companies profit from selling basic health insurance.

[Read the rest]

…And Then The BBC

So where was I? Oh yeah blogging. Well it seems the banning of the DEC appeal on Gaza was symptomatic of something much more insidious, the BBC now have editorial policy that extends across all aspects of the institution and they are rejecting a play on the same grounds of ‘impartiality’. I sort of understood the DEC thing was angled that if they aired it it would compromise their news operations, which of course was nonsense, but seems they might have been a bit fibby, because now it appears the rapprochement with the Israeli government that began in 2003 is across the entire institution so that creative works will also be censored-

The BBC has declined to broadcast a radio version of Caryl Churchill’s controversial new stage play about Israeli history, claiming it needed to remain impartial ‑ the same reason given for declining to air the Gaza emergency appeal.

In a move likely to resurrect the row over the BBC’s refusal in January to broadcast the appeal to help the people of Gaza, Radio 4 rejected an unsolicited manuscript of the play, Seven Jewish Children, which recently finished a short run at the Royal Court theatre. BBC sources suggest that a significant factor in the decision was awareness of the controversy stirred by Seven Jewish Children during its theatre run and the fact that the BBC has only recently survived the onslaught of criticism for its refusal to broadcast the Gaza appeal. In an email seen by the Guardian, Radio 4’s drama commissioning editor Jeremy Howe said that he and Radio 4 controller Mark Damazer thought Churchill’s play was a “brilliant piece”.

But Howe wrote: “It is a no, I am afraid. Both Mark [Damazer, Radio 4 controller] and I think it is a brilliant piece, but after discussing it with editorial policy we have decided we cannot run with it on the grounds of impartiality – I think it would be nearly impossible to run a drama that counters Caryl Churchill’s view. Having debated long and hard we have decided we can’t do Seven Jewish Children.”

Ironically the author wrote this short letter about the DEC appeal ban-

I couldn’t believe I’d heard right when Channel 4 news said the BBC had refused to broadcast the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal for Gaza. But here it is in the Guardian (BBC refuses airtime to Gaza aid appeal, 23 January). I don’t think the BBC objected to the appeal for Darfur, wondering if they were being unfair to the Janjaweed. Perhaps their problem would be solved if a tiny proportion of the money were spent on the tiny proportion of Israeli wounded. The phone number for complaining to the BBC is 03700 100 222.
Caryl Churchill
London

The play has already been attacked by the usual suspects who try to equate anti-zionism with anti-semitism (even as shock horror! a mainstream US newspaper actually broaches the subject albeit with subsequent regulation ‘balance’ piece) and has drawn intelligent repudiations. The play ‘Seven Jewish Children’ is being performed (only as a reading, it is radioactive much like the play drawn from Corrie’s diaries/emails which was blacklisted out of theatres)  in New York today on the anniversary of Rachel Corrie’s death (and as another US activist Tristan Anderson has been shot by the IDF). The implications of the BBC now extending its weird ‘impartial’ bullshit to all BBC output is utterly wrong and creatives need to stand up to this censorship. But as the Chas Freeman kerfuffle has also demonstrated the crushing of dissent is all the zionist lobby have left, which sort of gives away they know the strength of their arguments are somewhere between weak and complete rubbish.

Update: Pulse post the script of the play and details should non-profit groups wish to perform it.