Friday, November 25, 2005

Black Prodigal: Conrad Wants to Come Home

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - Facing an imminent court date in the United States for multiple counts of fraud, former Canadian media magnate, Conrad Black is now applying to regain the citizenship he so flamboyantly discarded en route to his peerage in the U.K.

Black Prodigal:
Conrad Wants to Come Home
C. L. Cook

PEJ News
November 25, 2005

Karma Balls, Served Fresh

Despite their reputation for compassion and fair play, few if any Canadians are shedding tears of concern for the further embattled Lord Black. The trials of the man who would be, if not King, at least Lord of Blackharbour, who not only forsook his home and native land, but shat upon the weenie-headed peon citizenry of an entire country on his way to the hallowed halls of the British House of Lords, is more an occasion for celebration, a welcome schadenfreude, a cheery interlude to brighten the overlong northern winters all those sucker-Canucks grand Conrad left long behind to endure.

Just a few short years ago, the media baron was flying high and his only remaining hurdle to equalling, in his own mind at least, the accomplishments of a Canadian press legend of another era, Lord Beaverbrook, was a British title. Black's megalithic, Hollinger Inc., one of the planet's biggest circulation media company, pulling in hundreds of millions a year seemed unassailable, his own position at the head of the board irreproachable. So, when Canada's then Prime Minister, no doubt nothing more than a cretin frog to the imperious Conrad, blocked his ambitions of a peerage citing an ancient law forbidding Canadian citizens hold British titles, the Lord to be burned his passport, searing the entire nation for good measure on his departure.

Canada's collective joy at the rumoured fall of the house of Black began modestly, just a flicker of hope, a spark of scandal, too bold yet to hope kindling enough to light a pyre under the peerless Conrad's meteoric career. The bombastic Mr. Black had lorded over Canadians from his media throne for decades, hobnobbing with the princes and potentates of global politically and financial power so Canadians can be forgiven their conservatism if they believed it unlikely the behemoth at the head of Hollinger could be brought low by as blunt a tool as the law of the land. And, had it been a strictly Canadian affair, Black would probably be home-free. But the apparent transgressions leaping from Hollinger's ledgers are a matter of concern to American justice too.

Bringing Down the Moose

Tragedy, in the theatrical sense, requires irony and timing: "If not for the ... all would have been different." And so it is with Conrad, who had the misfortune to have his scene of the crime fall under the purview of the United States Attorney for Northern Illinois, Patrick Fitzgerald. That's the same Patrick "Bulldog" Fitzgerald currently giving the Bush administration a prolonged case of loose-bowel syndrome with his Grand Jury investigation into the disclosure of the secret identity of a deep-cover CIA agent. Fitzgerald is big enough to deal with one Conrad. And, he's got a lot to work with.

Britain's Guardian provides a stunning time-line, listing some of the areas of concern for the court, including the ultra-lavish lifestyle Lord and Lady Black enjoyed, allegedly at the expense of Hollinger International's shareholders. It seems few too cry for Conrad on the other side of the Atlantic.

The Crux of the Matter

Improprieties it seems with the way money was being spread around the publicly-traded Hollinger. Accounting problems were showing up and audits ordered by the company's board of directors. And, as the Romans would say if they were as monumental as the Man Himself, "All roads lead to Conrad." Or so the board surmised before unceremoniously turfing the founding director and filing a massive law suit suing for hundreds of millions they contend pilfered from the company over a period of years by Black and his accomplices.

The wheels came off for Conrad when long-time confidant and business partner F. David Radner, named as a co-conspirator, copped a plea with Fitzgerald's investigation. Radner, facing up to 30 years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines took the expedient root and now, Black is on the hook, looking at real jail time in the States. Thus, cynics aver, his suddenly renewed enamour with Canada and its "liberal" judicial system; a system his papers oft criticized in the past for its bleeding heart.

But, in one of those queer turns of the Fates, Canada's recent efforts to more closely emulate less "wet" neighbour America, new legislation barring the granting citizenship to those convicted in foreign jurisdictions, Black may find himself out of luck should he be convicted.

For those that believe he hopes to garner again his Canadian identity to then serve his sentence in the country where he enjoyed vast political sway, the proposed law would prove a Catch 22 for the Lord of Blackharbour.

Chris Cook
is a contributing editor to PEJ News. He also hosts Gorilla Radio, a weekly pubic affairs program, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. You can check out the GR Blog here.

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Information Revolution: Freeing Subjugated Knowledge

Mainstream journalism is the voice of rampant power

By John Pilger

11/25/05 "
ICH" -- -- The Indian writer Vandana Shiva has called for an "insurrection of subjugated knowledge." The insurrection is well under way. In trying to make sense of a dangerous world, millions of people are turning away from the traditional sources of news and information and to the World Wide Web, convinced that mainstream journalism is the voice of rampant power. The great scandal of Iraq has accelerated this. In the United States, several senior broadcasters have confessed that had they challenged and exposed the lies told about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, instead of amplifying and justifying them, the invasion might not have happened.

Such honesty has yet to cross the Atlantic. Since it was founded in 1922, the BBC has served to protect every British establishment during war and civil unrest. "We" never traduce and never commit great crimes. So the omission of shocking events in Iraq – the destruction of cities, the slaughter of innocent people, and the farce of a puppet government – is routinely applied. A study by the Cardiff School of Journalism found that 90 per cent of the BBC's references to Saddam Hussein's WMD suggested he possessed them and that "spin from the British and U.S. governments was successful in framing the coverage." The same "spin" has ensured, until now, that the use of banned weapons by the Americans and British in Iraq has been suppressed as news.

An admission by the U.S. State Department on Nov. 10 that its forces had used white phosphorus in Fallujah followed "rumors on the Internet," according to the BBC's Newsnight. There were no rumors. There was first-class investigative work that ought to shame well-paid journalists. Mark Kraft of www.Insomnia.LiveJournal.comfound the evidence in the March-April 2005 issue of Field Artillery magazine and other sources. He was supported by the work of filmmaker Gabriele Zamparini, founder of the excellent site

Last May, David Edwards and David Cromwell of posted a revealing correspondence with Helen Boaden, the BBC's director of news. They had asked her why the BBC had remained silent on known atrocities committed by the Americans in Fallujah. She replied, "Our correspondent in Fallujah at the time [of the U.S. attack], Paul Wood, did not report any of these things because he did not see any of these things." It is a statement to savor. Wood was "embedded" with the Americans. He interviewed none of the victims of American atrocities nor unembedded journalists. He not only missed the Americans' use of white phosphorus, which they now admit, he reported nothing of the use of another banned weapon, napalm. Thus, BBC viewers were unaware of the fine words of Col. James Alles, commander of the U.S. Marine Air Group II. "We napalmed both those bridge approaches," he said. "Unfortunately, there were people there … you could see them in the cockpit video. … It's no great way to die. The generals love napalm. It has a big psychological effect."

Once the unacknowledged work of Mark Kraft and Gabriele Zamparini had appeared in the Guardian and Independent and forced the Americans to come clean about white phosphorous, Wood was on Newsnight describing their admission as "a public relations disaster for the U.S." This echoed Menzies Campbell of the Liberal Democrats, perhaps the most quoted politician since Gladstone, who said, "The use of this weapon may technically have been legal, but its effects are such that it will hand a propaganda victory to the insurgency."

The BBC and most of the British political and media establishment invariably cast such a horror as a public relations problem while minimizing the crushing of a city the size of Leeds, the killing and maiming of countless men, women, and children, the expulsion of thousands and the denial of medical supplies, food, and water – a major war crime.

The evidence is voluminous, provided by refugees, doctors, human rights groups, and a few courageous foreigners whose work appears only on the Internet. In April last year, Jo Wilding, a young British law student, filed a series of extraordinary eyewitness reports from inside the city. So fine are they I have included one of her pieces in an anthology of the best investigative journalism. Her film, A Letter to the Prime Minister, made inside Fallujah with Julia Guest, has not been shown on British television. In addition, Dahr Jamail, an independent Lebanese-American journalist who has produced some of the best front-line reporting I have read, described all the "things" the BBC failed to "see." His interviews with doctors, local officials, and families are on the Internet, together with the work of those who have exposed the widespread use of uranium-tipped shells, another banned weapon, and cluster bombs, which Campbell would say are "technically legal." Try these Web sites:,,,,,, There are many more.

"Each word," wrote Jean-Paul Sartre, "has an echo. So does each silence."

"Tell Me No Lies: investigative journalism and its triumphs", edited by John Pilger, is published by Vintage.

This article was first published in the New Statesman -

Copyright John Pilger

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Gorilla Radio for Monday, November 21st, 2005

This week, journalist and author, Lila Rajiva and atrocious conquest.

Jean St. Vil
and Haiti, Canada's first Coup d'Etat

and Janine Bandcroft bringing us up to speed with all the good things to do in and around Victoria this week.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Monday, 5-6pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, 104.3 cable, and on the internet at: He also serves as a contributing editor at the progressive web news site:

You can check out the GR blog at:

Gorilla Radio for Monday,
November 21st, 2005

There can now be left no doubt, America is today history’s grossest defiler of humanity. There need be no more allusions to Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany, as atrocity goes, with the recent admissions of the deployment of White Phosphorous in its attack on the Iraqi city of Fallujah, the Bush administration is breaking new ground and guaranteeing it will survive into the future as a cautionary benchmark against which all other atrociousness will be compared.

And what’s worse, fully half of the Americans polled by the Pew Research Center, say they approve of Mr. Bush’s torture policies against suspected terrorists. This after Abu Ghraib and Bagram, and Guantanamo, and the horrors of Afghanistan.

Lila Rajiva is a Baltimore-based freelance journalist and author of ‘The Language of Empire: Abu Ghraib and the American Media.’ Lila Rajiva and atrocious conquest in the first half.

And; Though hardly in the same league as its southern neighbour, Canada too has imperial ambitions.

In April 2004, the tripartite coalition of Canada, France, and the United States conspired to take Haiti. Haiti’s populist President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide was kidnapped and spirited out of the country, his reformist government annulled. Now, following more than a year and half of near chaos in Haiti, long promised federal elections are due.

Jean St. Vil is a Canadian journalist and founding member of the Canada Haiti Action Network. He’ll be appearing here at UVic later this week for the symposium, ‘Why Haiti? The Ottawa Initiative or Canada’s First Coup d’Etat’ and to present the film ‘Aristide and the Endless Revolution.’ Jean St. Vil and Canada’s imperial ambition in the second half.

And; Janine Bandcroft will be here at the bottom of the hour to bring us up to speed with all that’s good to do in and around Victoria this week. But first, Lila Rajiva and America the Atrocious.

G-Radio is dedicated to social justice, the environment, community, and providing a forum for people and issues not covered in the mainstream media.

Some past guests include: M. Junaid Alam, Joel Bakan, Maude Barlow, David Barsamian, William Blum, Luciana Bohne, Vincent Bugliosi, Helen Caldicott, Noam Chomsky, Michel Chossudovsky, Diane Christian, Juan Cole, David Cromwell, Jon Elmer, Reese Erlich, Anthony Fenton, Jim Fetzer, Laura Flanders, Chris Floyd, Susan George, Stan Goff, Robert Greenwald, Denis Halliday, Chris Hedges, Sander Hicks, Julia Butterfly Hill, Robert Jensen, Dahr Jamail, Diana Johnstone, Kathy Kelly, Naomi Klein, Anthony Lappe, Frances Moore Lappe, Dave Lindorff, Jim Lobe, Jennifer Loewenstein, Wayne Madsen, Stephen Marshall, Linda McQuaig, George Monbiot, Loretta Napoleoni, John Nichols, Kurt Nimmo, Greg Palast, Michael Parenti, William Rivers Pitt, Sheldon Rampton, Paul Craig Roberts, Paul de Rooij, John Ross, Danny Schechter, Vandana Shiva, Norman Solomon, Starhawk, Grant Wakefield, Paul Watson, Bernard Weiner, Mickey Z., Dave Zirin, and many others.

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