Latest bulletins >

[The wording in these summaries is Media Hell's.
For dates, see source info posted in each story]

BBC broadcasts "fake" news reports

The BBC has broadcast pre-packaged Ministry of Defence propaganda as genuine news. Journalists working for the Services Sound and Vision Corporation (SSVC) have been commissioned to provide segments which the BBC has presented as objective reports. The SSVC is entirely funded by the Ministry of Defence as a propaganda operation. (SpinWatch, 15/3/05) >

Police unhappy with politics of fear

UK police have criticised politicians for exaggerating crime risks. One Chief Constable said, of an election campaign ad, "This misleading advert quite improperly seeks to stir up fear of rising crime when it is a well established that crime has been falling for years".,,2-1550326,00.html >,15803,1450028,00.html >

("Rising" violent crime figures are technically correct, but misleading. In 1999 an attack on 3 people would have been recorded as one crime. But under a new victim-focused system, it's recorded as 3 crimes.)

Graffiti artist infiltrates top NYC galleries

Banksy, a British graffiti artist, has infiltrated his own artworks into four of New York's top galleries. These include a picture of a Tesco value-range tomato soup can, an oil painting of a colonial-era admiral holding a paint spray-can (with a background of anti-war graffiti), and a glass-encased beetle with fighter-jet wings and missiles attached to its body. > >

Tax avoidance by the rich a "growing problem"

$11.5 trillion of "tax avoidance" money has been placed by rich individuals in offshore havens (that's 10 times Britain's GDP). This figure doesn't include the vast amounts stashed in tax havens by multinational corporations. "This is one of the defining crises of our times," says John Christensen, coordinator of the Tax Justice Network. (Observer, 27/3/05),11268,1446127,00.html >

(Note: prior to the 1997 UK election, the Labour party ran party-political TV broadcasts promising to tackle corporate tax avoidance. Another forgotten promise. UK corporate tax avoidance now costs Britain £85 billion a year, according to estimates in the Guardian (12/4/02) – enough to cure "funding problems" in welfare, public transport, healthcare and education).

Scaremongering latest

"Terrorists might try to target the UK in the run-up to the election", London's most senior police officer has said. But, he also says, "it would be 'unwise' to speculate about whether there was specific information about risks of a pre-election attack".

In other words: "We'll scare the public shitless with warnings, but we won't provide enough information to let them decide if those warnings are realistic or spurious or made-up fictions".

UK Government lies about Iraq legal advice

The Guardian claims official legal advice given to the UK government on the legality of attacking Iraq was written by... the government.,12956,1424130,00.html,3604,1429006,00.html

Media scaremongers on burglary

The UK government has issued a leaflet telling people how much force they can use against burglars. The Daily Mail and Daily Express both had the headline: "You CAN Kill a Burglar!" The media continues to fill peoples' heads with graphic depictions of confrontations with burglars. Meanwhile, domestic burglaries continue to decrease in the UK, with the average household being burgled only once every 50 years (confrontations are even less likely).

Media scaremongers on "Yob Crimewave"

According to a government survey reported by the Sun and Daily Mirror, one in four boys aged 14 to 17 could be classified as a "prolific or serious offender". Sounds bad, doesn't it? What the tabloids fail to mention is the misleading nature of bracketing together the categories "prolific" and "serious". "Prolific offenders" actually includes teenage boys who occasionally don't pay their bus fare, or steal sweets from the local shop.,,1403212,00.html

Government shreds documents prior to Freedom of Information Act coming into force

UK Government departments shredded thousands of documents prior to the Freedom of Information act coming into effect on 1st January. Lord Falconer (the government's chief legal officer) explained that it was good document management to destroy files that people wouldn't want to see. (BBC Radio 4 'Today', 1/1/05)

Work is no cure for poverty

Last month, the UK government announced: "More people in work than ever before". Meanwhile, a new study shows 47% of UK employees have wages that, on their own, are insufficient to avoid poverty. Currently, 22% of people live in poverty, compared to 13% in 1979. > > >

New job-creation scheme:
security guards for school toilets

The unemployed in Germany are to be given jobs as school toilet attendants (to guard toilets against graffiti). For this they will be paid an extra euro (about 70p) an hour on top of their regular benefits. Politician Antje Bothe, from the Christian Democratic Union, said the scheme "would help the unemployed feel like they were working again". (Ananova, 9/11/04)

Credit card "fees" scam

Officialdom has woken up to the "late-payment fee" scam run by credit card companies (a scam worth billions, according to the Consumers' Association). The Office of Fair Trading thinks the practice might be illegal. It works as follows: you automatically get charged around £20 if you send your monthly credit card payment a few days late (or if it gets delayed in the post, etc).

The big banks have been accused of using "bogus accounting practices to cheat millions of credit card customers with late payment and other penalty charges." (The Times, 27/10/04),,2-1330524,00.html >

BBC deal to "not criticise" UK government

Former BBC Chairman, Gavyn Davies, described a "deal" he made with Tony Blair (after the Hutton inquiry): "we, the BBC, would not criticise the government... and [Blair] wouldn't call for resignations at the BBC".

Davies seemed to think this was OK. He rationalised: "I was happy with that ... I didn't think we were a political party that should criticise the government". As if not being a political party means you shouldn't broadcast critical analysis. As if media organisations without direct political affiliations are automatically "neutral" and thus "uncritical". As if the public consists entirely of morons who will swallow such horseshit. (Source: Channel 4, 'Betrayed by New Labour', 19/9/04)

US Terror alert bogus

The US administration admits that recent warnings of terrorist attacks were based on old intelligence (from 2000/2001). There was no real basis on which to raise the terror alert. The over-hyped scare of the last few days was well-timed for Bush, coming just after the Democratic National Convention. (Yahoo news story)

Terrorism at 35-year low

The US State Department has updated figures which show terrorism at a 35-year low. The number of terrorist attacks worldwide has dropped to its lowest level since 1969, according to their latest report. Their graphs are a good antidote to the media hysteria surrounding terrorism:

ICM accuses Conservatives of inserting
"leading questions" in poll

One of the big polling companies, ICM, claimed that the UK Conservative Party wanted them to ask "leading questions" in commissioned polls, with the effect of showing Conservative policies in a favourable light. (BBC2 Newsnight, 27/4/04)

Blix: Iraq worse off now than under Saddam

Hans Blix has said that Iraq is worse off now than with Saddam. He told a Danish newspaper: "What's positive is that Saddam and his bloody regime is gone, but when figuring out the score, the negatives weigh more". (Associated Press, 6/4/04)

Government blunder on "Fat Welfare"

The UK government complained that 900,000 people receive incapacity benefit for obesity, costing millions of pounds per week. But this was a "blunder" – only 900 obese people receive the benefit (costing a thousand times less than claimed). The government apologised and abandoned its plans to introduce a tax on junk food.

Brazil introduces Basic income

Brazil has become the first national government to introduce a Basic Income guarantee. On January 8th, 2004, President Lula signed a law decreeing the gradual introduction of a universal Basic Income for all Brazilian residents. The phase-in will begin in 2005, starting with those most in need by consolidating existing federal income support programs. Philippe Van Parijs, the Belgian activist and Basic Income campaigner, attended the signing and said it was a "day of glory" for Basic Income.

Welfare for the very rich

The Duke of Westminster, Britain's richest man, receives a daily handout of GBP 1,000 from the taxpayer. Other big landowners get similar amounts of welfare (in farm subsidies). The Duke's PR head said the subsidy "protects" the jobs of 100 employees. (Guardian, 22/1/04)

Bush demanded excuse to invade Iraq in January 2001, says ex-treasury secretary

The Bush administration started making detailed plans for the invasion of Iraq within days of coming to office, with the President himself anxious to find a pretext to overthrow Saddam Hussein, according to former treasury secretary Paul O'Neill (The Independent, 12/1/04)

Pentagon Cooks the Books

The Pentagon's auditors spent 1,139 hours doctoring their own files in order to pass an internal review, say investigators. This fabrication "certainly violates the spirit and intent" of government auditing standards and rules on ethical conduct, said the inspector general's report. (The Independent, 12/1/04)

See also: our report on how the Pentagon admitted to "misplacing" $2.3 trillion:

Average UK household debt reaches £6,800

Average debt per UK household is £6,800 (excluding home mortgages). One in 5 people are using credit to pay their household bills. The number of households experiencing "financial difficulties" (ie unable to service their debts) will shortly rise to 1 in 3, according to BBC1 Panorama, 30/11/03. (Source for average debt figure: BBC Radio 4 'Today', 19/11/03)

People choose free time in preference to money

A recent study shows that more than 1 in 4 British adults (aged 30-59) choose lower paid jobs, or "downshifting", in order to have more free time. (University of Cambridge, 1/12/03)

Iraq war killed 55,000, claims report

Up to 55,000 people died as a direct result of the Iraq war, according to a report from Medact (an organisation of health professionals). Their figure is based on several sources, including the civilian death figure from and press reports of Iraqi armed forces deaths.

They also mention the psychological aftermath of war creating "enormous anxiety" and leading to increases in mental disorders, suicide, drug/alcohol abuse and social/domestic violence. (Associated Press, 12/11/03)

More police = raised fear of crime,
study shows

More police doesn't mean less crime, according to the results of an experiment to increase police presence on the streets of a Yorkshire village. Contrary to expectations, crime and fear of crime increased. Professor Adam Crawford, co-author of the experiment's report, said that "trying to tackle local order problems through policing and security alone can have the opposite effect."

Despite historically low levels of crime, the government recently employed 4,000 new officers. The Conservative Party pledges to put an extra 40,000 police on the streets.,3604,1059121,00.html

Public anxiety increases

Research has found that nearly 4 million Britons suffer from anxiety, depression or bad nerves - a rise of 60% from 2.4 million a decade ago. The authors of a new book, Complicated Lives, say many anxieties are based on myths because people worry about things such as crime getting worse when in fact they are improving. "People have absorbed a host of depressing falsehoods" said William Nelson, the book's co-author.,,30100-12849909,00.html

1000 Iraqi civilians dying each week

According to Robert Fisk, Middle East correspondent for the Independent newspaper, 1000 Iraqi civilians are dying each week, either at the hands of the occupation forces or as a result of the general social disintegration caused by the war.

New confirmation of dire poverty in UK

One in five UK households cannot pay their water bills, according to the National Consumer Council (NCC). Millions of households can't afford basic services (electricity, gas, water, phone) and are in debt to utility companies. Deirdre Hutton, NCC chairman, said: "The current system fails the poorest because of inappropriate regulation of the privatised utility companies [...] and an income support system that is out of step with reality.",3604,1041998,00.html

US Government "misplaces" $3.3 trillion

Beyond Enron and WorldCom lies a much bigger scandal: the "misplacement" of over $3 trillion of taxpayers' money by the US government. This story hasn’t gone completely unreported. For example, CBS News quoted Donald Rumsfeld as saying, "according to some estimates we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions."

According to Catherine Austin Fitts, former Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), "total undocumented accounting adjustments [...] for the Department of Defense [and HUD for fiscal 1998-2000] amount to a whopping $3.3 trillion, or $11,700 for every American." More >

Blair faces lawsuit for war crimes

Legal action against Tony Blair and the UK government, for "crimes against humanity in Iraq", was taken (on 28/7/03) at the International Criminal Court in Hague, by the Athens Bar Association (ABA). This concerns 22 war crimes, breaching the UN charter and the Geneva Conventions, including the killing of civilians and human rights violations. The ABA believes it has strong evidence and is seeking the indictment of Mr Blair, but there are several hurdles to clear (including, presumably, political ones) before the case proceeds.

George Bush claims to hear God

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz quotes Bush's exact words (from his recent summit in the Middle East): "God told me to strike at al-Qaida and I struck them, and then He instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did".

So, the man with his finger on the nuclear button hears voices in his head. (Moscow Times, June 27, 2003)

UK forces illegally used cluster bombs on civilians

Adam Ingram, the UK Armed Forces government minister, admitted in a BBC interview that UK forces dropped cluster bombs in civilian areas. Richard Lloyd, director of the charity Landmine Action, said the admission proved the UK government knowingly breached Geneva Conventions. (Independent, 30/5/03)

Adbusting in The Washington Post!

A full-page ad containing very strong dissent was placed in The Washington Post on May 16th. It was funded (over $20,000) by a retired business executive after he saw an "alternative" video about 9-11. Full story plus downloads of the ad at:

Pope thinks Bush is the Anti-Christ

The political magazine, Counterpunch, reports that people close to the Pope say the Pontiff "wishes he was younger and in better health to confront the possibility that Bush may represent the person prophesized in Revelations".

And, according to journalists close to the Vatican, the Pope is also concerned that the 9-11 attacks were known in advance by senior Bush administration officials. There is a perception within the Roman Catholic hierarchy that a coup d'état was implemented, giving Bush near-dictatorial powers.

BBC Bias over Iraq Confirmed

The BBC's claims of impartiality over Iraq look dubious according to David Miller of the Stirling Media Research Institute. He quotes a study of media coverage of anti-war dissent in five countries showing the BBC featuring the lowest level of dissent of all. Its 2% total was even lower than the 7% found on the US channel ABC. The empirical evidence "suggests a pro-war orientation" in the BBC, he says.

Miller mentions coverage of the coalition victory as an example:

"As Baghdad fell on April 9, BBC reporters could hardly contain themselves in their haste to endorse the victors. This was a "vindication" of the strategy and it showed Blair had been "right" and his critics "wrong". Here the BBC enunciated a version of events very similar to that of the government. According to the BBC, "dozens" witnessed the statue pulled down by US marines in Baghdad on April 9, while "thousands" demonstrated against "foreign hegemony" in the same city on the 18th. Yet the footage of the former was described as "extraordinary", "momentous" and "historic", while the larger demonstration was greeted with scepticism. Are they "confined to a small vocal minority", the newscaster asked." (Guardian, 22/4/03)