Updated 5 May 2015

Cartoon attack

REUTERS ARE saying that

“Federal agents for years monitored one of the two gunmen who were shot dead after opening fire with assault rifles at a heavily guarded Texas exhibit of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad.

Two government sources who asked not to be named said the gunmen were roommates Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, of Phoenix. Court documents show Simpson had been under surveillance since 2006 and was convicted in 2011 of lying to FBI agents over his desire to join violent jihad in Somalia.

FBI agents and police searched the two men’s home at the Autumn Ridge Apartments in north-central Phoenix on Monday, cordoning off the complex and evacuating residents for several hours.”

My … my former colleagues get around. If only they had attended the workshop on objectivity

Greece

MANY EURO ZONE governments are having difficulties getting their tiny ideological, austerity driven, heads around the concept that Greece’s Syriza government is not too keen on being bound by the promises of the country’s former conservative-led administration. 

Reuters have reported that Syriza prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, has gone so far as to reaffirm his commitment to remaining within his government’s ‘anti-austerity’ mandate. ‘Like it or lump it’ you could say. There have, however, been assiduous moves to sideline Syriza finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, who we are constantly reminded is a Marxist academic. Shocking!

 Syriza are walking a tactical tightrope (don’t you just love that unorthodox alliteration). Storyboard4 are supporting them. We may not always agree with every tactical nuance they employ. When was the last time you agreed with a comrade 100%?

Coyote

THE WEIRD and wonderful to start the week. Reuters have reported that a wild female Coyote was restrained and tranquillised (“contained, darted and secured”) outside a bijou Manhattan café. They will be “released into an appropriate wilderness area somewhere in New York City”. That shouldn’t be too difficult. Earlier this month a Coyote was discovered in the Chelsea neighbourhood although whether they were looking for the infamous Chelsea Hotel no-one is quite sure.

DWP stops answering questions

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has carried out its threat to stop answering any questions from the country’s only disability news agency.
The DWP’s chief press officer (disability) had previously warned that he and his staff would stop dealing with Disability News Service (DNS) if it refused to change its procedures.
DWP has repeatedly missed deadlines, but has begun insisting that if and when it finally produces a late comment – even if produced hours after stories have been sent out to subscribers and have been published – DNS should update its website to show the government’s response.
John Pring, the disabled editor of DNS, has pointed out that if he was to do so, he would also have to alert every one of the agency’s subscribers with updates every time a comment arrived after deadline, as well as offering the service demanded by DWP to every other organisation and individual that had been asked to comment on a story that week.
Pring has also told DWP that its habit of frequently missing deadlines and leaving it until the last possible moment to provide a comment has already had a negative impact on his mental health.
The DWPs chief press officer (disability) has said: “Thanks for the opportunity to comment on your forthcoming peer review story but, as discussed previously, we won’t be offering any responses to DNS articles until we can agree on working practices.
“That basic principle is that, if we are to have a working relationship, it should be one which is fair; in which standard conventions are observed; and in which the time and effort that you put into writing your stories and the time and effort that my staff put into answering your questions are given equal respect.”
He added: “I don’t find it particularly surprising that a self-selecting group of your Twitter followers, close contacts and subscribers who have chosen to comment would take your side over ours in this, or indeed any, disagreement.


Abridged from an article by John Pring, 17 April on the DNS site

Bizarre story to end of month

NO, WE’RE not talking about the British general election. Reuters have reported that a four-year old girl, in Pennsylvania (USA), got on a bus at 3am in the morning in search of a “slushy”. What the f**k is a “slushy”? Apparently, the bus driver was alarmed and contacted his office, who contacted the police and the girl was reunited with her parents. Is there something in these “slushys” that makes four-year olds creep out the back door in the middle of the night? A “slushy” is, apparently, very sugary. There’s a lesson for all off us in there.

Greece and the BBC

FAR LEFT? Radical left? Leftist? And … for the first time this evening (Sunday 25 January) “hard left”. Take your pick. BBC correspondents certainly do. We’re talking about SYRIZA (United Social Front or “Coalition of the Radical Left” [according to the BBC’s UK website]) in Greece in case you were wondering. SYRIZA were two seats short of an overall majority and have gone into a coalition with one of the smaller election lists (Independent Greeks, centre-right nationalists, apparently also anti-austerity but not too keen on immigrants). Sounds ‘dodgy’ or tactical? SYRIZA are also in discussions with the ‘centrist’ To Potami and even the ultra-sectarian Stalinist KKE (communist party). No-one should be surprised about the BBC’s coverage unless, of course, you’re a Tory party (UK) backbench MP who believes that, whatever the evidence, the BBC is run — from top-to-bottom — by a tightly knit cell of Trotskyists. Bullshit; and we have made this point on Storyboard4 before. Furthermore, LANGUAGE! BBC correspondents/reporters are generally a conservative, often with an uppercase ‘C’, bunch. They simply don’t know how to describe a ‘new’ broad left party such as SYRIZA, in its self a coalition (or Podemos in Spain) because they are stuck in an editorial rut. By Monday morning (26 January) they may find that they have to get used to the idea that left-wing parties can win elections.

Bizarre (?)

JAMES NAUGHTIE, a longstanding presenter of BBC Radio 4’s ‘breakfast’ programme, Today, described this story as bizarre. Transsexuals, transgender … gamblers (a difficult philosophical leap that one) are to be banned from driving in Russia. What do Russian authorities think is going to happen if a transsexual gambler is driving a car? Take a wrong turn? Bizarre? Must be the understatement of the year so far …

Egypt: imprisoned journalists

PLEASE KEEP an eye on the case of three journalists, working for al Jazeera (English language), Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed, have been imprisoned since 2013. The Egyptian military government’s allegation was that they were disseminating false news and belong[ed] to a “terrorist organization”. THERE WILL BE A RE-TRIAL; according to sources from Reuters and the BBC World Service. This may involve “deportation”; a difficult concept to explain to non-journalist/media workers. They had interviewed members/leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB). English language journalists used to get a f**k of a lot trouble about interviewing members/leaders of Sinn Féin (SF) in Ireland. We don’t suggest there is necessarily any genuine political comparison to be made between MB and SF. What is at stake is the freedom and ability for journalists to do their job. See Reporters Without Borders for updates.

Occupy

OCCUPY WALL STREET have been busy over the last few days. Over the weekend 29-30 November they implored sympathisers to stop shopping. It was not a call to fast but a strike against commercialism and the destructive belief that ‘growth … growth …’ will solve everything. It is a theme that Storyboard4 has already taken up.



On 1 December OWS highlighted their ‘Activist Bail Fund’ following the protests in Ferguson, Missouri.

Russia ‘clamps-down’ on media ownership

Russia’s parliament (State Duma) has given preliminary approval to a bill limiting foreign ownership in Russian media to 20 percent. Ironic, I suppose, given the amount that Russian ‘oligarchs’ own of European media outlets. The proposal was passed by 434-1; to one. Piss-poor by North Korean standards but perhaps Putin wanted to show that he is a democrat after all. Earlier this year several websites/blogs, critical of Putin’s government were banned. ONE VOTE AGAINST! How magnanimous.

In a further bizarre move Reuters are reporting that Russians are handing in ‘Western-branded’ T-shirts in favour of pro-Kremlin wear. Politics and fashion? Who would have ‘thunk’ it.

Sri Lankan revolutionary dies

BALA TAMPOE, a revolutionary socialist Sri Lankan militant/trade union leader, has died. He may well have made ‘mistakes’; and who is going to hold up their hands and claim that they’ve never made a ‘political mistake’? Storyboard4 is certainly not; read this (although why it’s still called Ceylon Times we’re not sure).

Ukraine

REUTERS ARE reporting a build-up of up to 20,000 Russian troops on Ukraine’s eastern border. The pretext for an invasion, according to NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu, could be a so-called “humanitarian or peace-keeping mission”. Current reports are that Ukrainian government troops have pushed pro-Russian rebels back to the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk and Reuters reporters confirmed Ukrainian warplanes had carried out strikes.

Putin would appear to be attempting to work out ‘retaliatory sanctions’ which may include bans on Polish and Greek fruit!

Iraq

Do ‘Islamic State’ (formerly ISIS) even hate themselves? You could be forgiven for thinking that they may well do. Following the capture of further northern Iraq cities they boasted that they had ‘conquered’ “more important areas which were controlled by the pesh merga and the secular militias.” (NYT World, 3 August 2014) Do these people ever share a joke or is that forbidden?

There can be little doubt that the ‘West’, principally the US and UK, bear an enormous responsibility for the mess that on other occasions is known as Iraq. Yet it is also difficult to ignore the fact ISIS represent a religious current that is not only uncomfortable with the 21st century but quite possibly uncomfortable with the 13th century — far too progressive. All those bloody European peasants milling around and demanding various rights. Is it any little wonder that they get a kick out of chopping people’s heads off.

Sexual harassment in Egypt

This is very, VERY interactive and you may have to ‘refresh’ your browser (no innuendo intended) or click on ‘start over’. Click here to ‘start‘.

Thailand

REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS’ Lucie Morillon has written about how the Thai army cannot be allowed to “continue to trample freedom of information underfoot”. Two journalists, Thanapol Eawsakul and Pravit Rojanaphruk were detained on 23 and 24 May. They are still being held. Rojanaphruk, a journalist with the daily The Nation is well-known for his critical views on Thailand’s ‘lèse majesté’ law which forbids criticism of the country’s royalty.

Eawsakul, editor of political news magazine Fah Diew Gan, was arrested for taking part in a peaceful demonstration against the military coup. A number of television and community radio stations have not been allowed back on air since the coup unless they undertake not to disturb the “peace and public order” and must apply for new authorisation before being allowed to resume.

East Ukraine

INTERESTING REPORT from Feargal Keene on a recent Saturday edition of From our own correspondent (BBC Radio 4, 10 May, should be still on iPlayer Radio) about being stopped at a ‘pro-Russian militia’ checkpoint in east Ukraine. They were apparently flying the flag of the former USSR alongside pictures of the last imperial Russian Tsar, Nicholas Romanov. Keene noted that this seemed just a little contradictory.