Category Archives: Media

Why did Green leader Natalie Bennett choose a newspaper apology for a broadcast disaster?

It is both admirable and sadly telling that Natalie Bennett took to the pages of the Guardian today to apologise for her ‘car-crash interview’ on LBC radio yesterday.

It is admirable in the sense that it stands in stark contrast to the political culture of today where the public pushes an unrealistic expectation of perfection that is perpetuated by a media and political arrogance.

Natalie’s apology reads as a genuine breath of fresh air. We all fuck up. She’s embarrassed and sorry that she did on this occasion – an occasion that should have been about her party.

Fine – let’s move on.

That said, it is also worryingly telling that she choose (or her PR team choose) to take to the pages of the Guardian to make this well-crafted apology.

When the going gets tough, this particular political leader resorts to that comfy home-ground for her; the liberal-left leaning print media (and her former employer).

If she wanted to offer both a heart-felt apology and a sign to show that she has the statesmanship to someday rule this country (surely the ultimate aim of any party) then would not a heartfelt TV interview have been better placed?

Her apology is welcome but it does still leave many wondering – can Natalie Bennett do Green Party policies justice when put on the big stage alongside skilled (and highly trained) orators such as Cameron, Clegg and (to a lesser extent) Miliband?

I’m still not sure.

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Listen to the Green leader’s car crash of an interview

It – was – really – painful.

There is no other way to describe it. Throw away comments like ‘a car-crash of an interview’ suddenly seem suitably apt. Natalie Bennett’s interview on LBC this morning was one of the worst I have heard from a party leader – ever!

If you haven’t already and have the stomach for it, then have a listen:

For a long time I have argued that Natalie Bennett has revolutionised the Green’s media presence. Whether this was utilising her experience in the industry – she used to work as the editor of the Guardian Weekly – or whether she has just rode the wave of the ‘Green surge’ is unclear. But the results are clear. There has been much more and better coverage of Green politics in the UK’s print media.

But, that said, there has been a continuous disparity between the consistent, and quite impressive, coverage Natalie has secured in the print media with the consistently below par appearances on broadcast media. This car-crash didn’t come out of the blue – there have been a series of skids, near misses and dented body work that should have warned of the forth coming three lane pile up of a car crash.

Remember this?

With this in my mind, one wonders whether the Green’s hard thought victory of being included in the Leader’s TV debates will be as much a blessing as they might have hoped. How will she hold up to the oratory skills of Cameron, Clegg or, to a lesser extent, Miliband?

Only time will tell.

Finally though it is worth highlighting, just like Guido Fawkes has, that it is refreshing that Natalie at least had the moral and political courage to then apologise to her party for the poor showing – how many other party leaders would have done that?

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What is a ‘major political party’? Greens to overtake UKIP in membership size

leaders
It is expected that in the coming weeks the Green Party will become the fifth largest political party in the UK by overtaking UKIP in terms of membership.

According to new figures collected by Adam Ramsay at Open Democracy, the Green Party are now just a few hundred members short of UKIP and a few thousand short of the Liberal Democrats.

Labour  190,000
Tory  149,800
SNP 92,000
Lib Dems 44,576
UKIP 41,514
Greens 40,879
Plaid  8000
BNP  500

This latest twist in membership size will only add weight to those who are calling for the Green Party to be included in the TV leaders debates. What would constitute a ‘major party’ (what Ofcom deems them not to be) if it is not more members than UKIP, beating Lib Dems in some polls and getting more votes and MEPs than the Lib Dems in May’s European Elections?

Of course, the political elephant in this very Westminster room is the SNP that currently have roughly double the membership of the Lib Dems and are being tipped by some to wipe out Labour in Scotland.

Are the SNP not a ‘major party’ in UK politics?

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Anti-tobacco campaign publishes anti-Semitic cartoon

For most the depiction of large nosed Jews oozing wealth and disproportionate business influence is one that we solemnly associate with an evil that existed in the previous century. These offensive caricatures are something associated with the horrors of the anti-Semitism that swept across Europe and which played an intricate role in the death of over 6 million Jews in the holocaust.

For the first time in my life I today saw such an image, not in a museum or a historic article, but on a live contemporary campaigning facebook page.

The ‘Tobaccokills UG’ facebook page aims to ‘Support the Tobacco Control Bill and help to reduce the negative effects of tobacco-use in Uganda’. It has over 41,000 ‘likes’.

Yesterday it published this overtly anti-Semitic cartoon:

A screenshot taken from the 'tobaccoKills' Facebook page

A screenshot taken from the ‘tobaccoKills’ Facebook page

At the time of publishing the cartoon had already been shared a dozen time.

The cartoon takes little analysis to draw out the obvious anti-Semitic undertones. The projection of the ‘greedy’ and ‘powerful’ business man with physical characteristics such as his large nose all point to offensive Jewish caricatures.

In case there was any doubt the cartoonist then includes a speech bubble that states ‘Sorry but your health maybe hazardous to our profits’.

The subtext is clear: ‘Jews care more about money than they do people’.

To the adminstrators of the Facebook page I repeat the comment that I left when I first saw the cartoon and have so far not received a response for….please remove the picture and apologize for publishing it.

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Does drinking urine cure joint pains?

Hynd’s Blog reported before on how Uganda’s New Vision asked the question – ‘Is Panadol made from dead people’s brains‘.

Not to be outdone the Daily Monitor – the main rival paper to the New Vision – today asked – ‘Does drinking urine cure joint pains?’

Monitor
After offering a slightly cyptic answer which included the phrase,  “People have eaten cattle hooves for backache” the article does finish with the relieving (geddit) suggestion:

“Please seek medical treatment for your knees instead of contemplating drinking a waste”

Once again, a hat tip for some wonderfully obscure journalism.

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On international media representation of Uganda

The international media today picked up comments from Uganda’s President, Yoweri Museveni, saying that Uganda’s tourism industry should rival that of Spain’s.

His comments, made in Uganda’s ‘New Vision’ newspaper were then picked up by Agence France-Presse (AFP) and published in global news platforms such as The Guardian.

After reading The Guardian article I did something I very rarely do – I read the comments section.

The first comment came from one Herman Lategan and said:

Grd 6

Other early commenters followed a similar theme in their comments:

Grd 1

Grd 2

Grd 3

Whilst I find the hateful and widely misinterpreted rhetoric of anti-homosexuality in Uganda deeply worrying I equally find it sad to see a country lumped with such a characteristic as its one defining feature.

Equally, I am not convinced that by choosing to not visit Uganda (let alone leaving comments under Guardian articles) you are doing anything to help alter this hateful and misunderstood rhetoric that is a much larger than just Uganda.

What I do know though is that Uganda faces a huge image problem in ‘the west’ and these comments, at least in part, are a symptom of this.

This image problem is one exasperated by painfully fictitious portrayals in the media such as the one in Series 2 of the Newsroom that I have just finished watching (other than the lyrics of Band Aid 30 I struggle to think of anything recent that is so crass).

Or, closer to home, try searching Uganda on the Guardian’s home page. All you will find are articles about the anti-homosexuality bill, the hunt for war-lord Josef Kony or bizarre novelty pieces quoting some supposedly hilarious thing an official once said.

Whilst all legitimate issues to cover they are, by themselves, playing into a mainly false perception of what Uganda is like.

In short, it’s crass, it’s unhelpful and it represents a form of low level journalism that I dislike. And importantly it’s all people in the UK (my home country, the place I love most), hears about Uganda (my home, the place that is pushing for that top spot in my heart).  

I find that really fucking sad.

I was about to write something along those lines in the comments section when this well-intentioned comment, one which many in Uganda would see as a balanced response but many in the UK will read like trolling, popped up.

Grd 5

I wasn’t sure I had the stomach to ever enter into the comments section of The Guardian let alone on a subject like this and so I headed back here to the safe shores of Hynd’s Blog.

Sane and respectful comments welcomed!

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Stroud News and Journal: ‘Couple to embark on gruelling charity run’

This is from last week’s Stroud News and Journal about my up-coming charity run aiming to raise money and awareness of the African Palliative Care Association.

It is not too late to sponsor us – just click here

Click on the article to enlarge:

Image (142)
Thanks to the SNJ for their support!

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When The Daily Mail asks to use a photograph you’ve taken this is how you respond

Very proud of my good friend and occasional Hynd’s Blog contributor, Mike Assenti, for this wonderful response to the Daily Mail when the paper approached him asking to use one of his photographs.

Mike

Follow Mike on twitter @ClipOnMike.

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The Sun’s barefaced hypocrisy on baring boobs

The sun

Today, The Sun published the ‘shaming’ story, ‘New sex game shame for topless Brit birthday girl in Magaluf’.

Putting aside whether or not it is in any of anyone’s business what a girl does on her 18th birthday it is worth just taking a moment to highlight the paper’s barefaced moral hypocrisy when it comes to baring breasts.

The Sun goes to great length ‘to celebrate’ the ‘bare-breasted beauties’ (see this 40th anniversary ‘celebration’) that they have daily on their page 3, but don’t seem to hesitate to talk of the shame that this girl is supposed to have felt for choosing to get her boobs out for a drinking game.

So which one is it – is The Sun celebrating natural beauty, in which case I personally look forward to the page 2 cock close-up juxtaposed next to the boobs, or, are we shaming people for getting their naughty bits out?

Of course The Sun is not the only paper to sink into a moral hypocrisy as they try to appeal to both middle-England’s sense of perpetual outrage and to the dispiriting fact that half naked pictures sell papers.

The other example that springs to mind is The Daily Mail’s obsession with fighting the ‘sexualisation of childhood’ whilst at the same time running pictures of 14-year-old Kylie Jenner in a “tiny wetsuit” and “skimpy bikinis”.

For what it is worth I personally feel a lot of sympathy with the ‘celebrating natural beauty’ argument but just feel that is not, and indeed, cannot, be properly ‘celebrated’ in a society and newspaper industry that is so depressingly dripping in overt sexism.

Perhaps even more importantly though, I just feel that this sort of barefaced hypocrisy deserves to be highlighted.

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Ice Bucket Challenge: Pour a bucket of water over my head? Not in Uganda I won’t

This is an article that I wrote for The Daily Telegraph about why I didn’t complete my ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ but did make a donation to Water Aid. 

telegraph 2

You can read the whole article in The Daily Telegraph by clicking here

You can watch the video below

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2014 Banff Mountain Film Festival comes to Kampala

The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour is being held in Kampala Uganda at the National Theater on the evenings of the 2nd and 9th September 2014. The tour consists of an incredible collection of short adventure films from across the world.

You can buy your tickets from the theater box office.

Not convinced yet?

Check out this preview:

See you there!

BANFF

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Only the USA voted against launching UN investigation into alleged war crimes in Gaza

US No vote

Only the United States of America voted against launching an investigation into alleged war crimes in Gaza at the United Nations Human Rights Council yesterday. 

Twenty-nine of the council’s 47 members voted for a resolution calling for the creation of a commission of inquiry to look at “all violations” of international law.

17 members, including large parts of the EU (including the UK) abstained on the motion. 

Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights had commented that, “there seems to be a strong possibility that international law has been violated, in a manner that could amount to war crimes,”

Read more in the New York TimesGuardian, and Haaretz

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“Rihanna illuminati princess pushing satanic agenda”

After I posted a photo yesterday of the wonderfully obscure ‘Is Panadol made from dead people’s brains?‘ story from Uganda’s New Vision, a few people sent me through bizarre headlines they had seen from around the world.

I thought I would share my favourite of these stories.

This is the impressively odd headline that was tweeted from @TomSavoury from his time in Tanzania:

If anyone can find the text to this article please do contact me, I would love to read it.

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Is Panadol made from dead people’s brains?

The answer is of course, no. Panadol is not made from dead people’s brains.

In case there was any doubt though the New Vision, Uganda’s largest national newspaper, helped clear this up for us today. This is from page 24:

panadol
Wonderfully obscure!

A hat tip to my friend Malcolm who spotted this. 

 

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Was the highlander’s contribution to BBC’s Question Time a ‘Better Together’ plant?

You might disagree with the sentiment of this man’s contribution to last night’s ‘Question Time’ but you have to appreciate the passion…

There is debate though about whether or not he was ‘Better Together‘ plant in the audience. Personally, I think there is about as much chance of that as this chap being a ‘Yes Scotland‘ campaign plant.

 

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Hynd’s Blog in top 100 political blogs in the UK

ebuzzing 2
Hynd’s Blog has this month been catapulted to the dizzying height of the ’91st most influential political blog in the UK’ according to the online analysis site ‘e-Buzzing‘.

Hynd’s Blog is still not quite matching the pace set by Labour List, Guido Fawkes or Left Foot Forward who top the list but still…it is nice to know someone somewhere is reading my ramblings. And to whoever you are – thank you! You, the readers, are the difference between this online blogging hobby being something worthwhile or just another blogger exuding the signs of virtual insanity by talking to oneself.

So thank you, it is really appreciated that you take the time to visit Hynd’s Blog.

Well, enough of this sentimental mush….onwards and upwards.

More information:

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Journalism is not a crime #FreeAJStaff

NYT FreeAJ

This protest from the New York Times was a powerful reminder of the importance of press freedoms and the potential impact that the trial of the Al Jazeera journalists in Egypt could have.

NGOs and governments alike have spent the last 24 horus urging the Egyptian government to free the Al Jazeera staff who have been on trial for charges including belonging to and aiding a terrorist organisation, the Muslim Brotherhood, and of “manipulating” images to suggest “there is a civil war that threatens to bring down the [Egyptian] state”.

The charges have long been rejected by Al Jazeera and have been condemned as a clamp down on free press by human rights groups.

It is with great sadness then that I read that the journalists have been jailed for 7-10 years.

Responding to the news, Amnesty International described the verdict as “an absolute affront to justice“.  The Guardian quickly published an article that condemned the verdict as:

a shocking blow to the principle of free speech

Perhaps the strongest condemnation was reserved for Al Jazeera English’s managing director Al Anstey who said the verdicts defied “logic, sense, and any semblance of justice”.

As a passionate defender of freedom of speech, Hynd’s Blog stands in solidarity with all those calling for the release of the Al Jazeera staff. This verdict is not just an affront on these journalists but to the principle of good journalism and freedom of speech. It is a tacit acknowledgement that anyone could be arrested for simply doing their job and reporting the news!

More information: 

hashtag_freeajstaff_451608304

 

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Palestinian human rights activist on BBC’s ‘Desert Island Discs’

Raja
Raja Shehadeh, the human rights lawyer and writer who founded the human rights organization Al-Haq, yesterday appeared on BBC radio 4’s ‘Desert Island Discs’.

Just before he tells Kirsty Young his final choice of disc (about 38 minutes in) he makes an important point about the importance of humanizing the conflict and generating empathy between different people. A point that should be axiomatic but is so often ignored and/or forgotten.

As with all things Israel/Palestine related I need to cover myself and say that I don’t know enough about Raja to make any sweeping generalizations about him. On the occasions though that I have read his work or heard him speak he has always come across as passionate, articulate and most importantly willing to build rather than burn bridges.

This for me as a human rights activist is incredibly important. As an aspiring writer though I have also been taken aback by the beauty in which he forms his words.

A friend sent me this quote from his book ‘Palestinian Walks: Notes on a vanishing landscape‘:

To my left at the perfectly still waters of the [Dead] Sea, transformed by the sun into a luminous platinum sheet, and to my right at the formidable wall of incandescent rock along which we were travelling, towering steeply, challengingly, seemingly an impenetrable line of defence, a mighty gateway into another world. 

This imagery resonates powerfully with my own memories of walking in the West Bank.

This book, Palestinian Walks, is itself a combination of his human rights activism and his commitment to personalize the conflict that is intertwined in some truly beautiful adjectives.  It is a deeply personal reflection of walking, or not being able to walk, in the West Bank.

I think this is why I was drawn to the Desert Island Discs programme, because it is once again a deeply personal reflection on the conflict and the human rights abuses that occur there.

 

 

 

 

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How and why to return today’s free copy of The Sun newspaper

justice
When you get your free copy of The Sun in the post today, you can return it to FREEPOST, The Sun, London E98 1AX.

My suggestion is to write “Justice for the 96” or “You dropped page 3 once, why not forever?” on the front. But I trust Hynd’s Blog readers to think of their own creative slogans as well (suggestions in the comments box below please!).

Let’s get creative and tell The Sun that we don’t want their divisive, misogynistic, lying newspaper in our front rooms.

UPDATE:

Love this from my friend Ellie:

Sun

Wow, the Labour Party has just been entered into the ‘what single tweet has made you most angry/disgusted/disappointed’ competition:

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Channel 4 looks at Africa’s scandalous shortage of pain medications

“without the political will to change, vulnerable people remain deprived of humane treatment and an end to life free of pain.” 

This is the conclusion of the Channel 4 documentary, ‘Africa’s Drug Scandal’ that I helped to coordinate through my work – the African Palliative Care Association. The documentary is due to be broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK at 7:35pm on Friday 30th May 2014.

I am posting about it here because it strikes me as a rare opportunity to get a large number of people thinking about an issue that is incredibly important to me.

The documentary focuses in on the issue of access to pain medications – predominantly oral morphine. Having access to such medication is something that most people in the UK take for granted. If you were diagnosed with a life-threatening illness tomorrow you would assume that you would be given the appropriate pain control that would firstly enable you to live your life to the full but secondly, would enable you to die a peaceful death.

For the majority of people in the world this is simply not the case. Indeed, as ehospice reported last November, due to a lack of access to inexpensive and effective essential opioids more than 4 billion people, over half the world population, live in countries where regulatory barriers leave cancer patients suffering excruciating pain.

In countries like Senegal where the documentary is set the situation is dire. Last October Human Rights Watch found that the government only imports about one kilogram of morphine each year – enough to treat about 200 cancer patients when there is an estimated need in the tens of thousands of patients!

And so, this is one of the corner stones of my organisations work – to lobby, offer training, educate and empower people to ensure that everyone has access to the pain medications they need.

unreported world

It might seem like an abstract issue, but as Krishnan Guru-Murthy, the renowned Channel 4 reporter finds out, once you see a patient suffering in unbearable but perfectly treatable pain you instantly understand the importance of the issue.

Guru-Murthy concludes the situation amounts to “needless cruelty”.

I find it impossible to see how anyone, when faced with this reality could conclude anything different.

The programme can be watched live online here, on 4OD for 30 days after broadcast here, and you can read a preview in the Radio Times here.

Let me know what you think of it in the comments below.

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