Hundreds of kilometres south of Sydney, on the remote Far South Coast of New South Wales, the fire season should just be getting started. But instead it’s been raging all through winter, with over 80 homes destroyed, according to officials I spoke to in the field. One fire, propelled by high winds, has been burning for over a month, near Bemboka, a small town surrounded by dairy farms, on the highway between the coast and the Australian snowfields. I drove out to have a look first hand, seeing extensive damage and ongoing efforts by firefighters including helicopters acting as waterbombers.
“Scientists will tell you it’s climate change” said the employee of the fire department I spoke to in the field. Sure enough a quick online search produces an array of experts proclaiming their alarm at the unseasonsal fires. With much of the state in drought conditions and a hot dry summer predicted for the region, no respite is in sight in the near future.
Leader of the UK Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn has laid out an ambitious vision for media reform including charging a “windfall tax” on “digital monopolies” to fund public interest journalism, a “decentralised” BBC controlled by staff and license-fee payers, charitable status for certain outlets, and an end to ministerial vetoes of freedom of information act requests.
Speaking at the Alternative MacTaggart Lecture, Corbyn balanced praise for the vital role of a free press, and the value of “hard working journalists” with criticism of “owners and editors” who have ” dragged down standards”. He lamented “how close so much of the media is to the rich and powerful”, and suggested other outlets could follow the Guardian’s example and have journalists elect their editors.
Corbyn said however, that none of these proposals were yet Labour Party policy, and that he hoped his speech prompted further “research and discussion”.
I’ve basically stopped writing journalism for the time being. My last piece was an impassioned cry for progressives not to assume a Clinton victory, and to therefore hold their noses and vote for the lesser evil. We were in a situation where the parties are no longer converging on a neoliberal consensus but polarising faster than ever, especially in the right, which is in serious danger of being taken over by its most hateful and dangerous impulses.
By now there’s no joy left in telling people I told them so on this point. Just as there isn’t in regards to Egypt, or Libya. I even deleted my twitter account. I long ago decided I wanted to more than simply spew article after article into the internet’s gaping maw, with little or no reaction coming back.
So I’ve been involved over the years in attempts to upgrade journalism standards and methodology. The latest incarnation of this effort is called Stone and it is the worlds first research transparency system. Further explanations and early use cases will soon be added to our website.
You can also follow our progress on Twitter and Facebook.
Some of you may have noticed that this blog has been very quiet recently.
If you actually pay that much attention to my work, you may also have noticed I’ve been busy, along with a bunch of others, founding ImportantCool.com – a transparent worker owned news outlet that will, inevitably, take over the Internets.
Today IC is featuring my piece marking the fourth anniversary of the 25 January 2011, entitled What Went Wrong With Egypt’s Revolution.
Here’s a sample:
Despite the best efforts of the Western-facing Egyptian intelligentsia – alongside the Anglophone commentators with whom they overlap and intermingle incestuously – to obfuscate what happened and blame Egypt’s first elected government for its own demise, there is very little ambiguity as to what went wrong.
Inexplicably bewildered by predictable Islamist success at the ballot box, secularists rushed back into the waiting arms of the security state. They sought and found authoritarian protection from the electoral success of the Islamists, whose conservative populism successfully mustered feelings of national and religious pride behind a project of economic and socially centrist nation-building.
Secularists held mass protests demanding the removal of President Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate who won the first democratic presidential election in Egypt’s history. In doing so they greatly aided the efforts of the deep state to create a sense of crisis that allowed the armed forces to step in, arrest Morsi and his government, murder their supporters en masse in the streets, shut down all sympathetic media and generally re-assert near-totalitarian control; public, religious and civic institutions were transformed into eviscerated mouthpieces for a mafia-style military government lead by a sociopathic man-child.
Please check out the rest, follow ImportantCool on Twitter and Facebook, and become a patron, which will give you a say in how this new media outlet evolves. There really is a great community forming around this project. Come and see.
Will be making a more long term decision about what to do with this blog later.