All posts tagged: Philip Roddis

In his own words: Assange’s statement

Philip Roddis Do you know the Swedish Chief Prosecutor initially handling the allegations of rape against Julian Assange found no case to answer? Are you aware she was succeeded by Marianne Ny, who has pursued a legally dubious course? Have you read Assange’s detailed statement? Yesterday’s Guardian ran with Failure to extradite Assange to Sweden would endorse ‘rape culture’, say women’s groups. Four paragraphs in, it says: Sarah Green, co-director of End Violence Against Women, an alliance of more than 80 organisations, said Assange’s portrayal as a victim was an affront to rape survivors. “He’s always benefited from his cult hero status, painting himself as a victim and being very righteous. Yet this is about rape, it’s what he is accused of. It’s extremely serious.” This is about rape? Really? Here’s me thinking the pretext for his arrest a technicality on bail, with the unsealed extradition request from Virginia speaking of conspiring to crack a password; end of. Should Assange be extradited there’s no knowing, of course, what other charges may be added, including capital …

Owen Smith and his fantasy league EU

Philip Roddis Remember this man? It’s close to three years ago he split the delightfully small Anyone-But-Corbyn vote when Angela Eagle, too lacking in self awareness to see she was just a stalking horse, made her ridiculous bid for Labour leadership in July 2016. I say ‘ridiculous’ advisedly, given her parliamentary history and embarrassing lack of bona fides. But it’s Owen not Angela I have in mind here. Yesterday the Guardian ran his piece, Face the facts … Lexit is dead. Now I have a drop or two of sympathy with that sentiment, though for reasons far removed from his. I’ll get to those in a moment. First a reminder not to take the specifics of any attack on Jeremy Corbyn – with this piece an unusually sugar coated example – at face value. As with war on Syria, shooting terrorists for Laura, IRA funeralgate, Hamasgate, VirginTraingate, CrapDressergate and the antisemite slurs, Smith’s piece folds specific charges – by rightwing Labour members who may or may not believe them true but operate on a Needs …

On Chelsea Manning (and B. F. Skinner)

Philip Roddis Do I say hero or heroine? Pass. I’ve a head full of thoughts on that subject but it’s not where I want to go here. Chelsea Manning is back behind bars. Not as punishment but as coercion. A grand jury held in secrecy wants him/her to testify against Julian Assange and s/he won’t.[1] A judge has held Chelsea Manning in contempt and she is being detained after refusing to testify about her disclosure of military and diplomatic secrets to WikiLeaks in 2010 … The former Army intelligence analyst, who served about seven years in prison for the massive leak, objected to the questioning in a grand jury appearance … [in] a continued effort by federal prosecutors investigating the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange. CNN today In solidarity with many activists facing the odds, I will stand by my principles. I will exhaust every legal remedy available,” [Manning] said. “My legal team continues to challenge the secrecy of these proceedings, and I am prepared to face the consequences of my refusal.”…Prosecutor Tracy McCormick said …

WATCH: Robert Newman’s History of Oil

Philip Roddis The best comedians are the cleverest people on the planet. I’m grateful to a BTL comment on OffGuardian, below a piece of mine on Venezuela, for linking to this forty-five minute video. It has Robert Newman saying exactly what I try to say, but with vastly greater wit and panache, on the history of oil and, more generally, a materialist perspective on history. Performed in 2006, it could have been yesterday given the clueless way we insist on viewing each “pro-democracy” intervention – Iraq, Libya, Syria and now Venezuela – on a case by case basis. Given too the criminal way ‘our’ media ignore the material drivers of war. In both my two posts this week on Venezuela, I described corporate media as having “abdicated a core duty in their refusal to explore motives that cast a very different light on Western interventions sold to us as humanitarian”. Newman treads the same ground but here too – damn the man – he does it better.

Venezuela: a study in opinion manufacture

Today’s Observer runs an editorial on Why Venezuela needs consensus, not conflict. It opens with the image shown above, of an anti Maduro rally (or to be pedantically accurate, one in support of a Juan Guaidó “recognised” by the USA – dutifully followed by that long list of leaders beholden to Washington and Wall St. – as president). Note the absence of faces.

Venezuela? The bad guys are on Wall St.

Philip Roddis With Washington talking up a military coup (Democrats for once in no hurry to berate Trump on the issue) and Russia a sufficiently interested party to have flown nuclear capable bombers into Caracas last month, it behoves us all to get up to speed on Venezuela. It should go without saying we can’t trust a word corporate media say but, case it doesn’t, here’s why. First, corporate media are not independent but reliant on market forces. This applies not just to the billionaire media but, for reasons given elsewhere, to Guardian and BBC too. Second, media both sides of the Atlantic have a long record of backing US predation on the global south. Never have they deviated from this – take the Guardian’s cheerleading on Iraq. Worse, they’ve abdicated a core duty in their refusal to explore motives that cast a very different light on Western interventions sold to us as humanitarian. Third, sanctions have sown economic havoc in Venezuela. They’re spoken of in such calm tones that an already innocuous word loses …

Breast cancer, feminism & Israeli warplanes

Philip Roddis I’m critical of identity politics both in its passive form, as theory-lite substitute for class analyses of oppression and exploitation, and in its more active manifestations. Such as when, in 2016, millions of progressives bought the idea of HRC as the self evidently superior White House contender. This despite a role in Libya that should have seen her in the dock at the Hague, and a commitment to ‘no fly zones’ in Syria that would, in the view of America’s highest-ranking military officer (indeed, of any rational observer) have brought the world closer to WW3. Such as when liberal media drip feed, into their hawkish charge sheets against Russia, Putin’s alleged homophobia.[1] Or when self styled liberals vie in Guardian features to pour ordure of the vilest kind on Julian Assange, a man true progressives – God knows there’s enough of the easy kind to go round – owe a profound debt of gratitude. Then there’s Israel, regarded by many of us as an apartheid state and by some of us as regional …

Land of the free

Philip Roddis The map below shows the spread across the USA of laws against support for the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) Movement. It was compiled by Palestine Legal, an organisation dedicated to protecting the civil rights of Americans who speak out for Palestinian freedom. One state with anti BDS legislation on its books is Texas. Says The Intercept: The bill’s language is so sweeping that some victims of Hurricane Harvey, which devastated Southwest Texas in late 2017, were told they could only receive state disaster relief if they first signed a pledge never to boycott Israel. That demand was deeply confusing to those hurricane victims in desperate need of help but who could not understand what their views of Israel and Palestine had to do with their ability to receive assistance from their state government. The evangelical author of the Israel bill, Republican Texas state Rep. Phil King, said at the time that its application to hurricane relief was a “misunderstanding,” but nonetheless emphasized that the bill’s purpose was indeed to ensure that no …

First they came for the socialists…

Philip Roddis It’s ten to one you read in my title the opener to a much cited quote about Nazi Germany. And two to one that even if you couldn’t identify the author, Pastor Martin Niemöller, you could give an approximation of how the rest of it goes: I did not speak out because I was not a socialist…a trade unionist…a Jew… Though anchored in time and place, in history at its darkest, the pastor’s remorse – he was not speaking rhetorically but in penitence – points to a truth neither finite nor spatially bound but universal: what goes around comes around. To look the other way as others are cruelly treated is not only cowardly and immoral. It is dangerously myopic. No man, opined one of England’s finest poets, is an island. Ask not for whom the bell tolls. Then they came for the intellectuals… Mao targeted these. So, in more distilled and chilling form, did Pol Pot. And long before Hitler’s doctors injected the disabled – life unworthy of the name – with …

Peterloo and the Realist tradition

Philip Roddis Worthy, sumptuously shot, convincingly acted and not without moments of insight – but a tad leaden. That’s my take on Mike Leigh’s new film, released November 2. I’ll give a more nuanced view in a moment but first a timeline, reverse chronology, in which Peterloo – the event, not the movie – can be framed: Orgreave 1984…Bloody Sunday 1972…Amritsar 1919…Peterloo 1819. It’s hardly a competition but the toll of fifteen sliced to death by mounted and sabre flailing yeomanry, many of them drunk, charging into the crowds at St Peter’s Field in Manchester on August 16, 1819, is dwarfed by that of 379 mown down at Amritsar’s Jallianwala Bagh, April 13, 1919. As are the fourteen shot dead by the Parachute Regiment in Derry’s Bogside on January 30, 1972 – while at Orgreave in June 1984, police in riot gear and supported by dogs killed no one at all when they attacked[1] striking miners, their livelihoods on the line. So why lump together events separated not only by centuries and continents, but by …

Your debt and mine to Julian Assange

Philip Roddis In a recent post I referred to the vile treatment of a man who brought us irrefutible evidence, and in screeds, that the widely cherished notion of the West being democratic is a fat lie. True, some of us knew this already, but Wikileaks shocked even the most hardened critics of liberal democracy by the extent and unprecedentedly fine granularity of that evidence. In view of its shabby betrayal of Julian Assange – and the fact its readership demography maps closely onto that of my own site – I, pace Media Lens, singled out the Guardian for particularly scathing treatment. Two examples were columnists Deborah Orr and Suzanne Moore. It should surprise no one that both are women. Though Assange’s character assassination has involved many a male journalist – not least Russia Cold Warrior Luke Harding, whose uniquely personal betrayal of trust marked an all time journalistic low [1] – shills and hacks who also happened to be female had a spearhead role to play, given the precise form the assassination assumed. Here’s what computer …

Book Review: Propaganda Blitz – How Corporate Media Distort Reality

We’ve heard a good deal of late about Western democracy, and I for one don’t knock it. I think it an excellent idea, but wouldn’t it require an informed electorate? And wouldn’t that require a media untainted by power and unfettered by any ties other than to truth? Truth in the sense of accuracy and immunity from entrenched interest; truth in the sense of facts and interpretations offered with neither fear nor favour on matters vital to the common good – like climate change, waging war, and levels of inequality both morally indefensible and socially dysfunctional?

Updated: A compilation of OffGuardian’s 17th anniversary 911 articles

Every year on OffG we use the month of September as a reminder of the events of 9/11 2001, and the still unanswered questions pertaining. We tend to be attacked for this from some quarters, and we understand many other alt news sites prefer to remain silent on tis controversy. The subject has been so successfully propagandised in the mainstream that anyone raising even the most rational and well-supported doubts about the official theory of what happened that day call too easily be dismissed as a lunatic. But we made an editorial decision two years ago not to let that deter us. After all, if we’re here to challenge prevailing narratives, how can we ignore one of the most impactful prevailing, and poorly substantiated, narratives of the 21st century? This year we published a number of general overviews, including retired professor Graeme MacQueen’s quick and cogent summary of why what happened that day continues to be a crucial issue for The 9/11 anniversary: Conspiracy theory or critical thinking? Journalist and academic Alison Broinowski recalled Trump’s …

9/11 Unmasked: A Remarkable Review

David Ray Griffin The book 9/11 Unmasked, which I wrote together with Elizabeth Woodworth, has received several excellent reviews. But the most remarkable of these was written by Philip Roddis, who in 2016 had written with vitriol (his term) about the idea that 9/11 was an “inside job.” He wrote: “9/11 Truthism is not only seriously crackers but reactionary too.” What is remarkable about Roddis’ 2018 review is the extent to which he reversed his previous position. Introduction Roddis’ reversal began after seeing responses to his 2016 piece. Most of the responses simply confirmed Roddis’ long-held “contempt” for 9/11 truthers. He had felt this contempt – he recently realized – because he had been “exposed only to lazy, simplistic and epistemologically naive truthers.” Put otherwise, Roddis admitted that his “exposure to truthism had come from armchair conspiracists too idle or brain fogged to put together a decent argument.” Given his long-held certainty that the truthers could not be taken seriously, he had felt no need to “engage with evidential flaws in the official account.” So …

Book Reviews: 9/11 Unmasked

Every year, at about this time, OffGuardian likes to cover the anniversary of 9/11, the most important “catalysing event” in modern history. And this year is no different. As part of this coverage, and in recognition of our willingness to discuss this often-controversial topic, we were invited to review 9/11 Unmasked, a new book from David Ray Griffin and Elizabeth Woodworth, focusing on the discrepancies in the official account of that fateful day 17 years ago. We reached out to trusted regular contributors and friends of the site based on their honesty, integrity and potentially contrasting points of view. The results are three different reviews, illustrating an interesting cross-section of opinions and experiences. Philip Roddis Two years ago, on the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11, OffGuardian ran my review of Dylan Avery’s Loose Change. Except it wasn’t a review but a pouring of vitriol on the film’s central assertion that the events of September 11, 2001 were an inside job. Reception below the line was hostile. But among the cat-calls were voices I could not ignore: …

Seventeen Years on: what really happened on 9/11?

Philip Roddis Introduction On Friday, August 31, I had an email from OffGuardian editor Catte: How do you feel about reviewing a new 9/11 book for the anniversary? I know you’re a sceptic but that is why I’d value your input … Two years ago, on the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11, OffGuardian ran my review of Dylan Avery’s Loose Change. Except it wasn’t a review but a pouring of vitriol on the film’s central assertion that the events of September 11, 2001 were an inside job. Reception below the line was hostile. But among the cat-calls were voices I could not ignore: voices of reason from dudes who’d done their homework and whose tones were sober; friendly even. I promised to re-assess the truther case and return either to concede and apologise or reaffirm my views with better arguments. I gave no date but strongly and at the time sincerely implied it would be a few months tops. Not two years. Why the delay? I’m not afraid of saying, I was wrong. I’ve had practise …

Livingstone on antisemitism

Philip Roddis Back in April 2016, at the time of the suspension from the British Labour Party of Naz Shah and Ken Livingstone, I wrote: Thinking people can go into a tailspin of despair when confronted with the stark truth they’ve overestimated the power of reason. Yesterday self righteousness, pack instinct, unthinking emotionalism, malice and rank opportunism swept reason aside in the Labour Party. I took the matter seriously, but not seriously enough. At the time the brouhaha seemed just one more attack – of a piece with those on bombing Syria, shooting terrorists for Laura, losing Scotland for Labour, Virgin Traingate (did you spot the anachronism there?) and lamentable dress sense – on what Jonathan Cook recently and with characteristic cogencycalled “an old school socialist Labour Leader, whose programme threatens to loosen the 40-year stranglehold of neoliberalism on British society”. In short I was complacent. I failed to foresee that the antics of John Mann – who under Labour rules should have had the whip withdrawn, while finding himself on the losing end of a slander writ – would prove an opening shot …

So DID the Guardian back war on Iraq?

Philip Roddis If I and a hundred likeminded others devoted ourselves 24/7 to rebutting the drivel above and below the line in the Guardian, we couldn’t make a dent. It would be like despatching midges, in August on a Highland bog, by crushing them one by one between thumb and forefinger. So I seldom bother. But a few instances this year have seen me obliged to make some sort of response to twaddle too egregious to let pass. One was Matthew d’Ancona’s smug desire to see market forces rein in the purveyors of ‘fake news’ via the kitemarking of such online crusaders for truth as Full Fact, led by tory party donor Michael Samuels. The other two were below the line. In an exchange with one btl commentator, back in April and over – what else? – Syria, I was told the idea of oil being a factor in the invasion of Iraq had been ‘thoroughly debunked’. I felt it incumbent, though it’s generally easier on such matters to spout nonsense than refute it, to put him straight on this …

Matthew d’Ancona and his fake news

Philip Roddis from Steel City Scribblings Matthew d’Ancona, in yesterday’s Guardian, is concerned about the threat to democracy from fake news. He wants to see ‘social media giants’ … …legally redefined in a new, third category that radically enhances their accountability for the content they host, without imperilling free political discourse. Striking the right balance in this jurisprudential task will not be easy. But who expected it to be? He also wants… …a new system of “credible annotation of standards, so that people can see, at a glance, the level of verification of a site” – essentially, kitemarking of the sort that is standard in almost every other sector of consumption. I am less sure that the government should “initiate a working group of experts” to oversee this process. If there is one thing worse than what the committee describes as the “wild west” of today’s digital prairies, it is anything that even resembles a Ministry of Truth, or an Oftruth regulator. Better that independent charitable bodies perform this grading task – gaining the public’s …

Barcelona, Roger Waters, White Helmets

by Phillip Roddis A Pink Floyd fan for half a century, and neutral on the band’s acrimonious eighties divorce, I was thrilled by Roger Waters’ denunciation – an unequivocal exception to the rule that celebs are intimidated by the Western world’s most powerful lobby – of an Israel I recently described as: [the] world’s premier ethnographic crime scene and, alongside the USA, its most serial breacher of international law. Also – a fact insufficiently appreciated by a pro-Palestinian lobby understandably focused on immediate injustices – up there with Saudi Arabia as regional enforcer, covert and overt, for the West. Alas, many who support the Palestinian cause nevertheless buy the mainstream line on Syria. A vitriolic example is given by this comment from the pro-Palestinian Israeli – yes, there are more of them than Labour Friends of Israel would have us think – Dimi Reider, who took to FB to say: If you think Assad is somehow an anti-imperialist actor, or if your basic assumption is that he COULDN’T POSSIBLY gas his own people and it …