Monday, August 27, 2012

So much for Najib's Lying Machine international recognition

The new media along with a half-dozen independent fact-checking organizations and sites have called Najib on  on these whoppers these, but to no avail. He keeps making these assertions.
The fragmented polity with powerful UMNO players likely to change
Every campaign is guilty of exaggerations, embellishments, distortions, and half-truths. But this is another thing altogether. I've been directly involved in  campaigns, and I don't recall a  Prime Minister  candidate lying with such audacity, over and over again. Why does he do it, and how can he get away with it?
The obvious answer is such lies are effective. Polls show voters are starting to believe them, especially in swing states where they're being repeated constantly in media spots financed by NAJIB

This Wikileaks footage shows Reuters journalist Namir Noor-Elden and her driver Saeed Chmagh being shot at by the Apache. The attack occurred in a public square in Baghdad and they were assumed to be militants. After the initial shooting, a minivan full of adults and children drove into the square and were fired upon as well. The US military listed the adults as militants and claimed they did not know how the deaths occurred.
For just one man, Julian Assange has certainly managed to discombobulate and disrupt a large swathe of the geopolitical system. Not only is Sweden gunning for Assange, but there is little doubt that Britain and the U.S. will now stop at nothing to get their hands on the controversial founder of whistle-blowing outfit WikiLeaks. Having apparently concluded that he could no longer count on the support of his native Australia, which is beholden to Washington, Assange has now thrown in his lot with the tiny South American nation of Ecuador. Could this John Le Carré story of diplomatic intrigue get any stranger?t now seems fair to say that the high-stakes drama unfolding in London and the Ecuadoran Embassy has taken on wider political implications. Indeed, the Julian Assange imbroglio highlights the escalating tug of war which has been playing out between the United States and South America for some time. Rafael Correa, Ecuador’s combative leftist/populist president, has felt encircled and pressured by Washington and may have felt that he had nothing to lose by offering diplomatic asylum to Assange.related articleIt’s important to know that Britain’s Foreign Office recently threatened Ecuador in a letter — claiming a legal basis to go ahead and arrest Assange from the embassy after revoking the building’s diplomatic status. On Thursday, a prominent Conservative member of Parliament tweeted that Britain should break off diplomatic relations with Ecuador and then invade the “former embassy” to seize the WikiLeaks founder.
A U.S. group I co-founded,, is circulating a short online petition thanking Ecuador and protesting Britain’s threats against the embassy and refusal to uphold the right of asylum.
As the father of two daughters (who are with me in London), I take sexual assault allegations seriously (Assange has never been charged). But standing outside this embassy surrounded by British police, it looked to me like a classic case of powerful Western states uniting to intimidate a less powerful country on behalf of their prerogatives toward domination and war. It had nothing to do with “the rule of law.” And it had nothing to do with women’s rights.
Jeff Cohen
Author and media critic

 Trevino also reportedly called the flotilla a “Nazi convoy.” 
Putrajaya last year ended its RM94 million contract with FBC, which started in 2007, after it was revealed Malaysian government leaders regularly appeared in paid-for-TV programmes.
 British newspaper The Guardian has terminated the services of conservative American columnist Joshua Trevino as its United States correspondent over his alleged relationship with a company implicated in a news-fixing campaign financed by the Malaysian government and for running a website that attacked Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and other opposition interests here.
In a short statement issued over the weekend, the newspaper said it had recent learned that Trevino “was a consultant for an agency that had Malaysian business interests and that he ran a website called Malaysia Matters. In keeping with the Guardian’s editorial code this should have been disclosed.”
Trevino reportedly called a Gaza flotilla a ‘Nazi convoy’. — Picture courtesy of
Trevino had recently been hired by The Guardian to be its conservative columnist in the United States. His appointment drew a firestorm of protests from liberal activists after it emerged he had urged Israel to shoot at the humanitarian flotilla in 2011 that was seeking to break its naval blockade of Gaza.
When boats carrying unarmed civilian activists attempted in June 2011 to break the blockade of Gaza, Treviño tweeted out a message to the Israeli army: “Dear IDF: If you end up shooting any Americans on the new Gaza flotilla — well, most Americans are cool with that. Including me.”

The Malaysian Insider has reported of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak contracting a series of public relations strategists, including APCO Worldwide, to polish his personal image and his government’s locally and worldwide.
Late last year the government said image consultants FBC Media helped raise the standing of Malaysia as a tourism and investment destination during the RM94 million three-year deal that began in 2007.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz told Parliament that the London-based media company, which is facing bankruptcy, “supported the efforts of government leaders and ministers” to burnish the country’s image overseas.
The Guardian made no mention of the criticisms, but instead pointed to Trevino’s previous ties with an “agency” it did not name but is alleged to be FBC Media, the now-defunct company at the centre of the Malaysia news-fixing scandal involving broadcasters BBC and CNBC last year.
“Under our guidelines, the relationship between Joshua and the agency should have been disclosed before the piece was published in order to give full clarity to our readers,” said Janine Gibson, editor-in-chief, Guardian US.
In response Trevino said: “I vigorously affirm that nothing unethical was done and I have been open with the Guardian in this matter. Nevertheless, the Guardian’s guidelines are necessarily broad, and I agree that they must be respected as such.”
Trevino is a well-known conservative commentator and a former speechwriter in the President George W. Bush administration.
He has reported extensively in the past few years on Anwar’s Sodomy II trial on his Malaysia Matters website, which is now defunct.
Trevino had also frequently criticised Anwar in his other columns in other publications such as the Huffington Post.
FBC Media, the company alleged to have been referred to by The Guardian, made eight programmes for the BBC about Malaysia while failing to declare it was paid £17 million (RM85 million) by the Malaysian government for “global strategic communications” which included positive coverage of Malaysia’s controversial palm oil industry.
The BBC also used FBC to make a documentary about the spring uprising in Egypt without knowing the firm was paid to do PR work for the regime of former dictator Hosni Mubarak.
The BBC was forced to make a public apology over the matter.
FBC had also been exposed to have doubled up as a publicity firm for the Najib government and was paid millions of pounds to conduct a “Global Strategic Communications Campaign”.
By P.
Continued opposition to this piece of legislation may yet result in it being taken off the statute books.
THE recent amendment to the Evidence Act with the insertion of Section 114(A) basically presumes that a person who is depicted in a publication as owner or administrator is presumed to have published the contents.
This effectively means that those named in publications are presumed guilty of any offending content that may be posted, including those on the Internet where there is no licensing and it is easy to use some other person’s name, photograph and details as the originator.
This presumption of guilt, requiring the accused to prove his innocence, instead of the prosecution having to prove his guilt, is a strange reversal of the rule of law when the entire justice system is based on the assumption of innocence unless guilt is proven.
It is stranger still coming in the wake of moves to liberalise draconian laws such as the Internal Security Act which provided for detention without trial, and the Universities and University Colleges Act which severely curtailed the rights of students to participate in the political process.
When there is such liberalisation taking place, it is strange that the Government should be setting the clock back by introducing legislation that goes clearly against the grain of justice.
Yes, the Internet space is a raucous one and lots of stuff are pasted and posted, and people, including many in the Government, the Cabinet and the Opposition, are regularly blasted for things that they may or may not have done.
But there are laws to deal with them such as the defamation laws. And some of the victims have sought recourse to these with visible success, which includes Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim.
Why, therefore, should a sledgehammer be given to prosecutors to bring a tonne of weight down indiscriminately on people who may not have committed the offence, but may have a tough time proving that they had not and may become involved in tangled knots with the law for a long time?
Conspiracy theorists, of whom a lot exist in this country due to the nature of the way things are, have immediately seen this as a move to limit criticism. That’s hardly a PR effort by the Government.
When the Centre for Independent Journalism organised an Internet blackout on August 14, it met with a tremendous response and many people just did not post anything on the Net during that particular day.
Such support must have had an effect on the decision of the Prime Minister to call upon the Cabinet to review its decision to pass the amendment to the relevant Act.
“Whatever we do we must put the people first,” the Prime Minister had tweeted, and who can disagree with that?
But unfortunately, the Cabinet stuck to its guns and backed its previous decision. Dr Rais said the Cabinet discussed it exhaustively and decided not to make any changes because Parliament was represented by the ruling party and the Opposition and had debated it.
“Once it is officially passed, to do something now is an afterthought,” he said.
Dr Rais added that the Law Minister would explain further. Later, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said the controversial amendment would be explained further by the Attorney-General.
“If explained properly, I believe right-thinking people will know why the amendment was tabled in Parliament and approved. If there still are fears, laws can also be tweaked, amended and abolished, but don’t get emotional about it,” he said.
Those interested will wait for the Government explanation, although Dr Rais had already said that presumption of fact was nothing new in law and there was still room for accused persons to defend themselves.
The converse position is that such a law can be abused.Those who want to “fix” someone on the Net can post comments and claim that it came from that particular person. And that person will be tied up in knots trying to defend himself.
That is the main fear among Internet users and other publishers.Inordinate power is in the hands of prosecutors who now don’t have to prove who the real publishers are.
The question is why grant them these additional powers under the amendment when the entire Internet is subject to the laws of the country? The only difference is that there is no licensing of the Internet compared to conventional media such as print and broadcasting.
Thus, the new laws are seen as a move to bring the Internet under control more quickly than using existing laws, a move which the disinterested would oppose.
Policymakers may actually realise that. As seen by the quote from the Home Minister, if there is continued strong opposition to the amendment, it could be repealed.
Perhaps it may need another tweet from the Prime Minister to make that happen, and this time he will be at that Cabinet meeting. That should make a difference to what the Cabinet may think.

An animated debate is raging around social media. More specifically, around its negative and destructive use in certain contexts, the most recent of which is its schizophrenic role in Assam's ethnic violence. The narrative of the circulation of morphed images and messages of false forebodings resulting in the subsequent government clampdown is by now well known. New media is vibrant, volatile, and some even say, unmanageable. But that's not all that there is to the ongoing debate. The clash of views has placed the very idea of information at the centre of the problem.

The debate has brought up basic questions, uncertainties and dilemmas about how to handle the over-abundance of news, often inseparable from rumours, gossip and misinformation. What's more significant is that the volume of both 'truth' and 'lies' seems poised to grow in future, as social media also proliferates and expands.
Earlier this week for two day's I lived with my rationed quota of 5 sms's a day. The transition was discomforting. From a seamlessly endless communication cauldron to drink from, here I was asked to quench my thirst with five drops. So I spent a zillion zen seconds in that one impulsive moment, the moment where we turn messaging zombies shooting random unnecessary messages less out of necessity, more to keep an odd habit  going. A sample to match my theory- 'hey, whassup?- the reply- 'Same! Whassup with you'? This small trigger could lead to daily parameters being exchanged from the color of the sky to a leaking tap needing repairs.  Sometimes a period of inaction in an impulsive moment is a good thing. I realized towards the end of the day that I still had two sms's left over from my rationed quota. 
I was careful, I was pragmatic and controlled my urge to communicate and discerned the important from the waste. Playing along my twitch I discovered at the end of play that these modern communication tools become a force of habit and park themselves as play things. Modern hands have never been this busy. I've observed wise men and women constantly checking their sleeping cell phones to get status updates, beep's from friends and the Black berry devotees studiously keep track of the red light flashing. Such is the craving for communication that lack of mobile phone activity for a short spell could lead to emotional upheavals and a sense of identity loss.  Psychologists will vouch for these and many syndromes arising out of our present day urge to constantly keep in touch.

For the kindergarten generation present communication gadgets with their sophisticated applications have become virtual playgrounds upon which their senses wander.  I don't intend coming across a cynic and I don't undermine the importance of modern communication tools but the fact remains we are living in wasteful communication times. So much time and energy expended in our desperate urge to reach out. Do we need all this chat and information?  Can't our minds wander aimlessly for a while and our hands bond in relaxed harmony?        
The key to understanding the fluidity of social media lies in understanding the quirky nature of the constant flow of information and its networks. People have always had an organic connection to all kinds of information, from the trivial to the serious. The insatiable human hunger for information existed even before the onset of the technological and cyber revolutions, before newspapers and the radio appeared on the scene. As a Bengali i can think of 'addas' thriving at street corners, bookshops, coffee houses and tea stalls where no topic is tabooed and no censorship is applicable, as a precursor to modern flows of information. From politics to art and theatre, local to national, gossip to serious introspection - 'addas' could well pass off as one of the most effective and diverse information networks.

The free flow of news and gossip is carried from person to person by word of mouth. In innocuous situations that would be a fairly harmless thing, but as historians and anthropologists have shown, unauthorised, mobile information can, through rumour and gossip, lead to violence, riots and death.

Even before the explosion of cyber technology information travelled across boundaries. The difference was that news, back then percolated mostly through the controlled sluice of the mainstream media, and that glimpse of the truth behind everyday affairs of state rarely came to the fore. Once in a while the Bob Woodwards and Carl Bernsteins of media lore would appear on stage with fantastic exposes. For much of the time however decisions, even when conflicted, were handed down, in a sanitised form, without revealing any of the messy back-room transactions that had made them possible.

Media historians have chronicled the history of the irrepressible curiosity among citizens to know and confront the 'unknown', to catch a glimpse of the invisible hand behind major political, economic and military decisions. This is where curiosity, fear and cons-piracy cross paths - when information moves without us knowing who is moving it.
Such curiosity gives birth to conspiracy theories, like those which have recently gained ground, going hand in hand with media proliferation. Consider for example, Julian Assange - the radical purveyor of information. It's perhaps only fitting that the architect of WikiLeaks, Assange is a reader of surreal and subversive authors like Kafka, Koestler and Solzhenitsyn. He revels in his conspiracy theories around states and perhaps owes his present status of an outlaw to the inevitable logic of leveraging a centralised media using a myriad of servers and hundreds of media activists spread across networks.

As information networks have diversified, leaks have also become that much more difficult to stem. Leaks have filled a vacuum not only in terms of the simple volume of information they reveal, but also in the desire of the consumer to know more than the obvious. The more an organisation attempts to guard against leaks, the more severe becomes its internal contradiction between the requirement of sharing information and that of controlling it. Some of these dynamics are on display in the current struggle over the scope of tools like the Right to Information and question over what falls within its purview.

  How then does one dam this information deluge? Against its insurgent character, Noam Chomsky's famous theory of manufacturing consent - arguing that information is routed through a propagandist indoctrination model - seems to collapse. The advance in cyber technology has created, according to Howard Rheingold, a 'virtual community', intransient and perennially on the move. Monopolising information, controlling and vetting it, is trickier than before because of the dispersed nature of sources now actively dealing with the business of disseminating information. As philosopher Jean Baudrillard observed: "You put out an item of information. So long as it has not been denied, it is plausible. And, barring some happy accident, it will never be denied in real time and so will always remain credible. Even if denied, it will no longer ever be absolutely false, since it has once been credible."
Paradoxically, as we witness in recent happenings, the phenomenon of hybrid virtual communities, erasing boundaries between nationalities and cultures, has gone hand in hand with burgeoning ethnic and nationalistic jingoism. This sharp xenophobic language calls for closing borders to immigrants, ensuring that the free mobility of information and capital is not matched by the unfettered circulation of populations. The contradictory pulls and tensions mutating the world of information, and its intimate connection with people's lives have opened up a new discourse about how to regulate the sector.

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