Tag Archives: censorship

Shut down, but not out: How can Russia Today triumph over NatWest?

“There is an imperialism that deserves all [honour] and respect — an imperialism of service in the discharge of great duties. But with too many it is the sense of domination and aggrandisement, the glorification of power. The price of peace is eternal vigilance”.

— Leonard H. Courtney, President of the British Statistical Society

The ongoing bickering between Russia’s RT news channel and Royal Bank of Scotland subsidy NatWest has polarised into polemics over freedom of speech on one end, and baseless drivel on the other.

Without explaining itself for weeks, then finally citing ’poor ratings’, NatWest officially severed ties with RT, leaving the channel’s employees and supporters reeling in confusion and anger.

“We only wish the UK government and its crony bank would grow a pair, and just admit that they are trying to shut down RT’s operations in the UK because the United States and VP Joe Biden gave then the order to do so,” The Duran’s Alex Christoforou exclaimed.

The Russian Foreign Ministry also expressed condemnation:

“Actions of this sort […] by the UK media regulator, OFCOM, are part of attempts to oust from the British media space an internationally popular broadcaster that offers an alternative point of view on global affairs”.

RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan

It is certainly questionable that 4 billion viewers—over 65 times the UK population before triggering Article 50—qualifies as ‘poor ratings’ by OFCOM standards. Notwithstanding concerns of a post-Brexit economy, NatWest chose falling on its sword over keeping the British economy afloat.

This was evidenced by a wave of solidarity voiced by British citizens, businessmen, trade unions and fans of RT, prompting ridicule and even threats to close NatWest accounts.

“Dear #NatWest you should stick 2 #banking & not try 2dictate our politics. I’ve just closed my account in view of you blocking,” one commentator tweeted.

The Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB-ML) even initiated protests in front of NatWest and RBS branches across Birmingham and London, and released a full statement in response.

“The BBC and the corporate media are constantly attempting to prepare British people for a military confrontation with Russia, which would be catastrophic for British workers,” the organisation mentioned.

“We must not allow such blatant bias and propaganda to go unchallenged, [and] fight the interference of NatWest in the affairs of Russia Today which operates legally and fairly in Britain.”

Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB-ML) cadres protest in front of a Birmingham NatWest Branch [Photo: CPGB-ML]

A London CPGB-ML cadre highlighted during a RUPTLY interview:

“RT is a fantastic source of news that gives a different side of the story from most other media outlets. If you say that you have freedom of speech, democracy, and freedom of the press, it’s important to have a variety of sources […] We saw the same thing happen last year when we saw the Cooperative bank shut down the Palestine Solidarity Campaign accounts.”

Continue reading Shut down, but not out: How can Russia Today triumph over NatWest?


Letter to TimeWarner Cable: Bring Back Russia Today!


Dear TLD readers,

Please feel free to join my cause, you can email Time Warner here.

-Mike B


Dear Whom It May Concern,

I came home for the holidays and was looking forward to watching some Russia Today news at my parents’ and was disappointed (but not surprised) to find it’s no longer on TV.

This is not just a normal channel request. I work in the news industry full time. I’ve worked at NBC Studios in NY, I’ve worked for smaller independent newspapers and we (a co-editor and I) have our own website now. Having worked across the spectrum of mainstream and alternative media, I understand full-well there is often a great void, filled with special interests and money, between reality and the headlines for most big corporate news.

You don’t have to be a media insider to figure out that most media is relatively conglomerated these days, not just with other media but other industries altogether. For example NBC is owned by General Electric (maker of military hardware and a Wall Street hedge fund), and the rest of the big media are owned by News Corp or Viacom or something of that sort. Even most small local papers fall into the web.

I have found Russia Today to be largely an exception to the rule. Yes I am well aware RT is a Russian station, state funded even (so is US media via bailout money in 2008 for example). For some odd reason, they seem to relatively on par with American alternative media, the kind that’s less tied down by special interests and money.

Especially in light of today’s recent events (Ukraine violence, low oil prices and more), isn’t it more important than ever to get both sides of the great divide that separates US and Russian policy?

To say politics had nothing to do with the dropping of this channel would be terribly naive, no one who pays attention believes that. Again I know this isn’t your typical request for another channel, this is not about entertainment this is about having an informed public, and you reading this email are a gatekeeper. Please just try to bring it back, make some calls, pass this email to your superiors. And of course, hank you for your time,


Michael Bielawski

PS: Here is a link to some more background info here.

FAA Bans All Non-Emergency Aircraft Over Ferguson


Police lock down a neighborhood, refusing to let people leave on August 11, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. [IMAGE: SCOTT OLSON/GETTY IMAGES]


The FAA on Tuesday imposed a temporary flight restriction over Ferguson, Missouri, where clashes between law enforcement and residents have been going on for days after a police officer shot and killed an unarmed teenager over the weekend.

FAA Ferguson Ban

A map released by the FAA shows the area affected by a recent NOTAM banning low-flying aircraft over Ferguson, Missouri (the red circle). [IMAGE: FAA]

St. Louis County Police spokesperson Brian Shellman told Mashable the department’s commanders requested the ban “for safety” after their police helicopter “came under fire on Monday night.”

However journalists covering the shooting of teen Michael Brown were quick to criticize the ban. Some saw it as an attempted media blackout, meant to prevent news helicopters from filming over Ferguson.

FAA says flight restriction over Ferguson which hinder news coverage is “TO PROVIDE A SAFE ENVIRONMENT FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITIES.”

— Tom Winter (@Tom_Winter) August 12, 2014

So reporters can’t walk behind police riot lines or photograph them from above, either?https://t.co/OduLXFYH53

— Matt Pearce (@mattdpearce) August 12, 2014

“We know that perception is going to be out there (shutting out the media),” Shellman toldArs Technica’s Cyrus Farivar. “But it’s really for the safety of pilots.”

Reporters in Ferguson have faced increasing difficulties covering the unrest there. Police have told journalists to leave the area, and some have reported police refusing their entry entirely.

A line of police cars with high beams on greets anyone trying to enter #Ferguson. It’s shut down. No media allowed. pic.twitter.com/pPE2m4G0UQ

— Antonio French (@AntonioFrench) August 12, 2014

Antonio French, an alderman of the 21st Ward in St. Louis and a prominent live-tweeter of the Ferguson protests, tweeted, “A line of police cars with high beams on greets anyone trying to enter Ferguson. It’s shut down. No media allowed.”

And on Monday, some journalists who entered the fray were met with tear gas and rubber bullets.

Police shooting rubber bullets at crowd, including reporters and photographers.#Ferguson

— Julie Bosman (@juliebosman) August 12, 2014

Police reportedly told Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowrey to move out of the way. “Your last warning,” they said. “You’re putting lives at risk.”

Eventually officers charged again. Handful reporters/photogs threatened if we didn’t move.

“Your last warning, you’re putting lives at risk”

— Wesley Lowery (@WesleyLowery) August 12, 2014

The temporary flight restriction (TFR) bans all aircraft (aside from first responders) at a height up to 3,000 feet and a radius of 3 nautical miles around the city. It will remain in place through 8 p.m. UTC on Aug. 18, the FAA said.

Shellman confirmed that the FAA’s restriction does include media helicopters. He also saidthe police could “request an early termination” should the situation on the ground allow it.

However, bans like these aren’t uncommon during times of disaster or unrest. The FAA enacted a similar ban over the site of the explosions towards the end of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013.