All too often, the phrase "corporate free press" is something of an oxymoron. Whether to maximise sales, to attract advertisers, or simply to promote the interests of their wealthy owners, the mass media open strange, self-serving and grossly distorted windows onto the world.
This website is another window. Here you'll find documentaries, lectures and interviews following a different editorial line.
Taxi to the Dark Side is an excellent documentary charting the recent history of the US Governments use of torture. I hadn’t realised that a high level legal adviser to the President, John Yoo, went as far as publicly arguing that “there is no law that could prevent the President from ordering the torture of a child of a suspect in custody – including by crushing that child’s testicles.” Rationality gone mad – his name has gone on my list of people whose testicles do need crushing.
As a side note, I enjoyed Stephen Kings recent comments on the debate as to whether waterboarding is torture or not “if the Bush administration didn’t think it was torture, they ought to do some personal investigation. Someone in the Bush family should actually be waterboarded so they could report on it to George. I said, I didn’t think he would do it, but I suggested Jenna be waterboarded and then she could talk about whether or not she thought it was torture.”
“This is dedicated to two people who are no longer with us, Dilawar, the young Afghan taxi driver, and my father, a navy interrogator who urged me to make this film because of his fury about what was being done to the rule of law. Let’s hope we can turn this country around, move away from the dark side and back to the light.” Alex Gibney, Director, Academy Award acceptance speech.
A meticulous and moving reconstruction of an incident in late 2004, in which US marines are accused of slaughtering several Iraqi families in revenge for an IED attack on their convoy. Directed by Nick Broomfield (Ghosts), with performances from real Iraqi refugees and real ex-marines. See my review.
In 2003 Robert Newman toured his one-man political/musical comedy show From Caliban To The Taliban – 500 Years Of Humanitarian Intervention, the precursor to his acclaimed A History of Oil which was filmed for More4, and his BBC TV series The History of the World Backwards.
In a breathtaking ninety minute performance filmed in front of a live audience at the Brighton Corn Exchange Theatre during the 2003 Paramount Comedy Festival, From Caliban To The Taliban details an unlikely but true history of modern imperialism, from the Virginia Company to the occupation of Iraq, and demonstrates the towering intelligence and sparkling wit of comedy superstar and former teen heart-throb, Robert Newman.
People say that there are two issues in this year’s elections: the war and the economy. But in many ways, that’s just one issue – Joseph Stiglitz talking at the London School of Economics last month(paraphrased from memory).
Wars are always expensive affairs, but the occupation of Iraq has taken that to new levels. Private armies of “civilian contractors” and cost-plus “reconstruction firms” have notoriously pushed up the price, but caring for wounded veterans also takes its toll on the economy, as does the increase in the price of oil.
However, few of these costs made themselves felt in the first four and a half years of war. The Federal Reserve has created a bubble of debt, allowing half a trillion to be spent on the military (never mind all the hidden costs) without any associated tax increase. That bubble is now bursting – or so argues the Nobel Prize-winning economist and notorious World Bank whistleblower Joseph Stiglitz in this address to Colombia University.
It’s not fascism, so ignore the hysterical Hitler references. However, this short film (14 mins), compiled from the police’s own footage, is definitely one to watch.
Anyone who’s been on a demo in the last few years will have clocked the police intelligence teams, snapping up faces with their oversized cameras. This footage shows how the operate – and reveals the lengths to which the police will go to enforce their authoritah.
Filmed in the 1990s, this series takes journalist Robert Fisk through Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt and Bosnia. He warns that the crimes of the West and Israel are breeding a culture of resistance, resentment and religious radicalism in the Middle East – a warning that the last decade has surely vindicated.
An important short documentary (24 mins), made shortly before the emergency, on the disappearances in Pakistan. Pakistan, like most military dictatorships, has a pretty terrible human rights record, but the state kidnappings of The War Against Terror are a disturbing new development.
Released just as Tony Blair was leaving office, this film documents his ten-year war against civil liberties, begun as a way of protecting businesses from ‘harrassment’ but dramatically escalated as part of The War Against Terror.
I had a few things lined up to go with this film, but decided they detracted from the seriousness of the issue. However, the soundtrack is ace, and that last song deserves reposting in its entirety without being talked over. So here, for your listening pleasure, is Jarvis with Running The World.
Today, Congressman and Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich is attempting to kick off impeachment proceedings against Vice President Dick “DarthVader” Cheney, through the use of what’s called a priveleged resolution. The charges one could bring against Cheney are legion, and polls show that 54% of Americans want to see him impeached (the idea of impeaching President Bush, is slightly less popular, at 45%, but that’s still more than ever wanted to impeach Nixon).
This PBS documentary (56 mins) charts some of Cheney’s struggles for greater power, pitting the White House against Congress and the Department of Justice in particular.
This special report (52 mins) from 2004 sees John Pilger explode the War On Terror myth with revealing interviews and shocking coverage of warzones. The segments on Afghanistan are particularly illuminating – especially if we bear in mind that, eclipsed by the disaster that is Iraq, the violence has only been escalated there since this film was made – and it’s also the source for that “pre-fascist” quote.