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Why we need to see the images of dying Syrians

Horrifying photographs and videos emerged yesterday from what appears to have been a chemical attack on thousands of civilians in Syria. It is still unclear who committed the atrocity, with both Syrian…

If the war in Syria is to end, it is the media’s duty to broadcast graphic, uncensored images and the public’s duty to look. EPA/Local Committee of Arbeen

Horrifying photographs and videos emerged yesterday from what appears to have been a chemical attack on thousands of civilians in Syria. It is still unclear who committed the atrocity, with both Syrian rebels and the Assad regime making the other side responsible.

What is not in dispute, however, is that at least hundreds, perhaps more than 1300 people have died, many of them children.

Some of the imagery coming out of Syria yesterday was quite harrowing.

The News Corp website news.com.au decided to run the story very prominently with numerous graphic images, as did other media outlets later in the day, including the ABC.

News.com.au editor Luke McIlveen wrote that he did not take the decision to publish the images lightly.

“But as the editor, I don’t resile from it either,” he wrote. “The more such images are censored, the less reason there is for the world to sit up and pay attention to the horror show which is playing out in Syria daily.” McIlveen also gave readers a choice:

If you feel you don’t need to look at the pictures, please don’t click on the gallery marked with a warning.

We don’t know how many readers ended up looking at the photographs, but journalists often worry about upsetting their audiences, who, it is largely assumed, do not want to be exposed to graphic images.

Traditionally, newspaper editors have called this the “breakfast test”: the idea being that readers do not want to be confronted with graphic images while enjoying their porridge. Similarly, on television, there is the so-called dinner test.

In an age of online media, however, there is increasing choice for audiences, as demonstrated by McIlveen’s decision to allow readers to decide for themselves.

However, we are still too removed from the suffering of others because of our news media’s general tendency to censor graphic images. And rather than allowing audiences to make the decision for themselves, they should be made to see the atrocity that has occurred in Syria.

Despite regular claims that our news media are becoming ever more sensationalist and intrusive in their coverage of human suffering, graphic vision of death and dying is actually still extremely rare.

A number of studies have consistently shown that only a minute percentage of news images actually show any dead bodies. And when they do, most of the images only show covered bodies, exposing us to a heavily censored version of wars. Apart from matters of taste, there is a fear of compassion fatigue, described by British sociologist Keith Tester as a process of:

…becoming so used to the spectacle of dreadful events, misery or suffering that we stop noticing them.

Some have come to see a “surfeit” of photography in modern news media, arguing that images of death are omnipresent – a claim which the vast majority of empirical studies disproves.

Another academic, David Campbell, has pointed out that while the generic quality of some photographs of suffering does have the potential to diminish the horror of an event, it is still important to see more images to prevent us from being blind to such atrocities.

Even the famous American academic Susan Sontag, who in the 1970s had lamented what she saw as a glut of graphic imagery that led to compassion fatigue, later changed her mind. In her 2003 book, Regarding the Pain of Others, she said that images of suffering were still important to display in the media, as only through them could wars become real for audiences.

Photos of the dead in Syria may not be what we want to see, but it is what we must see. It is a rare glimpse into the generally heavily censored imagery of war. Without being exposed to images of such unimaginable atrocity, regardless of who committed it in the end, we will deny the realities of the civil war that is tearing apart the people in that country.

It is only through being exposed to such images that there is at least a chance that we can actually show compassion, and display enough public outrage that can put pressure on our governments to act to help end this war.

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86 Comments sorted by

  1. Grant Mahy

    Unemployed

    God forbid that people may be offended by images of dead children while sipping their Café au lait and reading their news in the morning.

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    1. Stefan Treyvaud

      Marcomms Specialist

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      As inane as your comment is, you may as well get your facts right -Try latte or cappuccino - I doubt you will find anyone in Australia who orders a cafe au lait.

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  2. Fred Pribac

    logged in via email @internode.on.net

    This article is well stated. Without the images the reporting of the crimes would remain largely impersonal for many. The images communicate the gravity by showing how absolutely wrenching and inhumane the crime. The images are impossibly sad and distressing.

    I'd like some balanced advice on how to take best effective action to help the survivors.

    What measures do we have to put an end to these sorts of descents from civilization?

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    1. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Fred Pribac

      The options aren't too good Fred. What we're really talking about is the UN Security Council voting in favour of intervention and good luck to that. Besides the UN being a toothless tiger the Security Councils 5 permanent members are China, Russia, France, the UK, and the US. All have the power of veto so if one country vetoes no intervention can go ahead with the UNs sanction. Given Russia particularly is against intervention there will likely be a veto on any moves to intervene. The next move and…

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    2. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      "What measures do we have to put an end to these sorts of descents from civilization?"
      The Islamic civil war has still got decades to go yet, I'm afraid. The European Reformation was a very long, nasty, and extremely deadly affair.

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    3. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      "End poverty! Feed the planet!"
      The greatest lifting of humanity out of poverty in the whole of human history has taken place between 1970 and 2013.

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    4. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      "Stop monsters like the US from destabilizing the Middle East!"
      Syria has been a Soviet/Russian satellite/client since 1956.

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    5. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to David Thompson

      Nope David, actually things got far far worse for the worlds poor in those years. This is the lie Western interests like to spin under the auspices of globalisation rhetoric. Run off an check the stats and get back to me.

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    6. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to David Thompson

      David Russia did not destablilse the Middle East by taking democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan. Where Russia is guilty is through the occupation of Afghanistan. This said it was the Americans who armed and trained the Taliban and are on record with turning a blind eye to the tonnes of heroin being sent to the US (that killed many US citizens) because their cold war took precedent over their drug war. Further Russia did not give Palestine to the Jews after WW2. That was Britain and the US. Funny really - they deleted a post where I mentioned the Jews. Sorry guys but this is a fact and it has nothing to do with antisemitism. I'm even married to a Jew (is that antisemitism? to mention you're married to a Jew?) So let's call them Israelis - either way Israel is the most preeminent threat to peace in the region and is largely to do with the cluster we are seeing now. Point being is Russia is not destabilising the region - the US and its allies (e.g. Australia, Britain) are.

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    7. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      "Nope David, actually things got far far worse for the worlds poor in those years. This is the lie Western interests like to spin under the auspices of globalisation rhetoric. Run off an check the stats and get back to me."
      Two words Grant: Norman Borlaug
      I hope this helps.

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    8. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Leigh Burrell

      Leigh your powers of deduction are simply stunning. Have you ever thought about becoming an investigative journalist for the BBC?

      "How does your sympathy for Muslims go down with her?" My sympathy is for people Leigh. I actually feel very sorry for the Israeli's also because they are caught in between a rock and a hard place to be because of an imbecilic idea that resulted in stolen land being given to the Jews to form a State called Israel. What we are now seeing arguably is the prelude to the…

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    9. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      Grant, er, nobody GAVE the Jews anything. They built and defended Israel themselves!

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  3. David Thompson

    Marketing Research

    "Photos of the dead in Syria may not be what we want to see, but it is what we must see."
    This is not a decision for academics, who do not have any authority or expertise on what "we" must or must not see. Media outlets answer to their audience. If their audience does not watch TV or read newspapers to constantly see dead bodies, any media outlet that goes beyond its audience's preferences will quickly lose that audience.

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    1. Scott Dunsdon

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Thompson

      Your response highlights the continuing need for non-commercial, independent media who can still publish what may well be in the public interest (but not necessarily the interest of the public) without fear of commerical failure.

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    2. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Scott Dunsdon

      Actually Scott, my response doesn't distinguish between commercial, non-commercial, independent, because the same dynamic applies irrespective of ownership.

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    3. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to David Thompson

      Anyone who supports the top down brain washing of the mainstream media (newspaper and television) David is probably to stupid to worry:-) The good news is that the "old" media as we know it is dead. Long live the bottom up internet.

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    1. Venise Alstergren
      Venise Alstergren is a Friend of The Conversation.

      photographer, blogger.

      In reply to Tom Rayner

      The best place for news is now Al Jazeera, especially for news on the Middle East and North Africa. I just wish they would come here and take on the Murdocracy.

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    2. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Venise Alstergren

      Good god Venise, I actually agree with you. Except, I like to supplement my Al Jazeera with PBS' The News Hour. I have not received my news from an Australian accent for quite some time.

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  4. Arthur White

    logged in via email @curtin.edu.au

    These kinds of images being broadcast have been constant since the first "televised" war in Vietnam.
    It goes to show that perhaps we have become desensitised to the horrors of war, famine, genocide.
    Good comment Grant Mahy on the "toothless tiger"
    The winners are and always will be the arms dealers.

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  5. Stefan Treyvaud

    Marcomms Specialist

    Who is it that has the right to tell me what I 'should be made to see'?
    I can abhor the violence without seeing images of dead children.
    I can also, for what its worth, express outrage.
    I would suggest that the argument of desensitisation is flawed if we consider the myriad other sources of graphic violence available to us - either on the internet, in 'entertainment' or in gaming.
    Seriously, have you seem Game of Thrones?

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    1. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Stefan Treyvaud

      "Who is it that has the right to tell me what I 'should be made to see'?"

      I mean the answer to this is very simple. The mass media tells you what to read and see every day. Through this they also tell you what to think. Just look at Murdoch's "go hard" on Labour's position. The media is propaganda - that simple really. You've answered this for yourself. Personally I find it offensive when I watch the West Australian news and zero time is given to world affairs while topping tonites story Mrs Bloody Smith's cat has gone missing.

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    2. Stefan Treyvaud

      Marcomms Specialist

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      And yet you watch it.
      And wrongfully assume that I consume either Murdoch or mass media every day.

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    3. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Stefan Treyvaud

      Actually Stefan you seem a bit of a megalomaniac. I really couldn't give a damn what you do and pssst I don't watch mainstream television (actually I typically pirate stuff:-) or read what can only be deemed as the unnecessary genocide of perfectly good trees.

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    4. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      Grant, you don't present yourself as the most critical consumer of media.

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    5. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      Oh Grant, if you only knew what your tread mill of plagiarized/copy and pasted tidbits from neomarxist academics, without a hint of evaluative ability in your reading, looks like. They say there's one born every minute. ;)

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    6. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to David Thompson

      That would be "plagiarised" David. Stop using the spell check. You're an Englishman mate - spell with your Queens English:-) That is, the past participle, past tense of plagiarize is plagiarised. Actually David, Marxism isn't my thing at all. Postmodernism and Poststructuralism perhaps - certainly not Marxism.

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    7. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      Grant, I said you get your material from neomarxist academics, not that you were one yourself. Even though most of your posts on politics are common garden variety neomarxist paranoia about the media and superstructure duping the proles, you do not have the historical knowledge or necessary political sophistication to be described as a Marxist of any sort.
      And you a postructuralist!? You can barely structure a paragraph of your own writing, let alone deconstruct the academic secondary and tertiary literature of your uni studies. An you'd have no chance with the primary sources themselves. Your self-assessment as a 'postmodernist' is probably accurate. That means your idea of political activity is typing on the Internet.

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    8. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to David Thompson

      Of course this coming from a man who considers himself intellectually superior to Foucault one can only laugh.

      "That means your idea of political activity is typing on the Internet."
      http://www.cycle-helmets.com/helmet_laws.html

      Haha yeah - put up or shut up I say pal. Just came home from a protest (FREE THE REFUGEES) to read your inane dribble which as always is wrong on so many levels:-)

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    9. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      PS kind of scary isn't it David that a bunch of intellectually challenged degenerate post structuralist Marxists are winning. FREE THE REFUGEES!!!! Haha Classic. Oh and David spare us any more law lectures ta. Safe to say you have a hell of a lot to learn about International law but stay tuned because us BA "luvvies" will demonstrate:-)

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    10. Marco Negrino

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Thompson

      David Thompson. You are lost. Very lost. You have lost. There are no simple answers, and that's why I wouldn't set a rule against name calling, nor about generalisations, nor a whole list of things that hypocritical, non/pseudo/anti-intellectuals have decided, (but only on the basis of hearing it from someone else). However, if you are going to name call, and make a whole host of assumptions, we can maybe give you a point if you are correct even just once. But, you, have, failed.
      Please count how…

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  6. Venise Alstergren
    Venise Alstergren is a Friend of The Conversation.

    photographer, blogger.

    The very fact that LUKE McLLVEEN (sic) is a News Corp editor makes me wonder if the story is true. None of the other Rupert Murdoch hirelings have a problem with lies; why should this editor be any different?

    Rupert Murdoch can't have it both ways. He is known for his willingness to encourage his staff to lie. And for his love of political manipulation of all his media outlets. And, all of a sudden, we are asked to believe that one of media outlets is telling the truth. Have you ever heard of the Boy who Cried Wolf, Mr Murdoch?

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  7. Tim Benham

    Student of Statistics

    > What is not in dispute, however, is that at least hundreds, perhaps more than 1300 people have died, many of them children.

    Actually many billions have died. How many died in Ghouta on August 21 and under what circumstances is contested. Have the rebel claims been independently verified? Wikipedia is currently saying "no".

    What is the problem with using "chemical weapons" against civilians anyway? it is routine practice for Western states to use irritating, incapacitating and painful chemical weapons against civilians who defy their power. What is the applicable international treaty?

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    1. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Tim Benham

      "What is the problem with using "chemical weapons" against civilians anyway?"

      Ummm let's see... But before we do is that a trick question or are you simply a monster?

      "What is the applicable international treaty?" See the Geneva Convention/Geneva Protocol.

      "it is routine practice for Western states to use irritating, incapacitating and painful chemical weapons against civilians who defy their power."

      You'd mean Mace then would you? This statement is ludicrous.

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    2. Tim Benham

      Student of Statistics

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      > Geneva Convention/Geneva Protocol.

      You'll have to do better than that. There are dozens of conventions signed in Geneva. I don't know of one that forbids the use of "chemicals" in civil disturbances.

      > You'd mean Mace then would you? This statement is ludicrous.

      Indeed, some of what you wrote is ludicrous but mostly it is just ignorant.

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    3. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      Grant, are you aware that most people on TC have several university degrees, with a large proportion of full-time academics? I really hope you didn't know that. Because, if you did know, and nevertheless finished 50% of your posts with a Wikipedia link, that would be very,VERY sad. It would show you were completely uneducated (NTTAWWT). Coz, academics tells their students every day from enrolment to graduation, that Wikipedia is not an authoritative source.
      But what's even worse with you is you don't cite Wikipedia as your source, for example, a celebrity's birthday, the date a great war broke out, or who was the Member for Griffith way back whenever. No, you dump the link thinking that is your whole argument, your whole 3,000 word essay. Just so cringe-inducing.

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    4. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to David Thompson

      Too true David but let's face it Wikipedia info is still a hell of a lot more reliable than listening to you.

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    5. Tim Benham

      Student of Statistics

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      > simply a monster... Tim grow up... look like an utter moron.

      Oooh, you're a clever one. Did the teach you to argue like that at unemployment school?

      But not clever enough to read the links you post.

      > Geneva Protocol dumbed down http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geneva_Protocol

      "Specifically it did not prohibit... use within a state’s own borders in a civil conflict"

      Who looks like a moron again?

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    6. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Tim Benham

      Tim pssst I'm studying an MA in Human Rights FT right now. I like to say I'm unemployed so people like yourself have something to desperately use against me:-) Tim it isn't up for me to give you an education. Were you not also referred to "C also Biological Weapons Convention and Chemical Weapons Convention". Now be a good lad and run off and read these Conventions and get back to me would you.

      "Who looks like a moron again?" Ummm that would be you no doubt. So far you've asked two incredibly…

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    7. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      Oh and Tim just to show you how moronic the BBC actually are - they clearly do not understand that in a Muslim culture the women's faces would be covered in death (particularly while on public display). Go figure!!

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    8. Marco Negrino

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      Grant, I just defended you against DT! And now you make me a little foolish, because now it seems YOU, instead of him, are being the inexhaustible devil's advocate.
      Not for DT, nor for you, will I study which Western powers have or haven't used masses of chemical weapons. But the USA uses them. I don't need any sources to state the obvious - the copious amounts dropped on Vietnam, Cambodia... Laos... Is the argument that it's more excusable that they (maybe) don't use them domestically - is it…

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  8. Sean Lamb

    Science Denier

    "What is not in dispute, however, is that at least hundreds, perhaps more than 1300 people have died, many of them children."

    Actually you have a dispute right there.
    News Ltd, politicians and associated interests are only excited about this because they are confident it - whatever it is - won't be able to be pinned on the insurgents.
    Should by some miracle the true culprits and you will suddenly find their wails that "something must be done" will evaporate like dew in the morning.
    It is utterly inconceivable that the Syrian government would burn their great power sponsors in such a way and they were gaining battlefield success in the area.
    Like the massacre at Houla we have got so much in bed with the Islamists we even turn a blind eye when they butcher children with knives - so I am sure we won't move a muscle now that it appears the Islamists are butchering children with gas. All we care about is can we achieve our foreign policy objectives.

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    1. Marco Negrino

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      Exactly Sean. A shame that this most relevant, smarter comment, wasn't higher.

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  9. R. Ambrose Raven

    none

    We weren't shown the dead of the Imperial conquest of Iraq, precisely because it might have turned people against that war.

    Something like a hundred thousand people having died without any particular interest, it has now become desirable to show all. Perhaps there is some novelty value if they look different to those shot, stabbed, run over by tanks, or blown apart by drones.

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    1. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to R. Ambrose Raven

      Hmmm...my memory is a bit different. For about two years the most debated journalistic source was the series of articles in The Lancet.

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  10. Sean Lamb

    Science Denier

    If the BBC is right, it appears to be a magical chemical agent that only kills adult males and small children.

    Anyone know a chemical agent with that kind of demographic selectivity?

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    1. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      If the BBC had it right that would probably be the first time. The confirmed dead include many women and children and men.

      A nurse at Douma Emergency Collection facility, Bayan Baker, said the death toll, as collated from medical centres in the suburbs east of Damascus, was 213.

      'Many of the casualties are women and children. They arrived with their pupil dilated, cold limbs and foam in their mouths. The doctors say these are typical symptoms of nerve gas victims,' the nurse said.
      Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2398691/Syrias-darkest-hour-Hundreds-childrens-bodies-piled-high-nerve-gas-attack-near-Damascus-leaves-1-300-dead.html#ixzz2cqCGnjWR

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    2. Sean Lamb

      Science Denier

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      Grant Mahy - while the BBC may have its faults, anyone who ranks the Daily Mail as equivalent or even higher is a clueless moron.

      "Symptoms
      And from the overwhelming and distressing litany of footage of victims an overview of the symptoms can be gleaned. Most of those being treated are men of all ages and very small children."
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-23806491

      The BBC analyzed the actual footage that is available, the Daily Mail just prints whatever M16 asks them to.

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    3. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      Sean ever lived in England? To the English the BBC means bumbling broadcasting catastrophe you "clueless moron". Fortunately for them there's clowns like you who read their garbage and then post stupid questions such as anyone know anything about a "magical chemical agent that only kills adult males and small children."????(?) Answer = no because the gas killed men, women and children.

      Hilarious really that the cretins at the BBC actually thought looking at photos would give them the wow edge…

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    4. Sean Lamb

      Science Denier

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      " So that quote I posted came directly from AP and Reuters - the people that are on the ground in war zones (often freelancers who live local and are attached) "
      I think you meant to say "embedded"?

      Do they offer MA in Human Rights? What are the main subjects
      Not verifying sources 101
      Lying for the US Government (MA in Human Rights: HRW stream) 201
      Lying for the British Government 202 (MA in Human Rights: AI stream)
      Emoting in public 203
      Scientific Ignorance 204
      Using any old testimony 302
      Advanced Emoting in public 303
      Advanced Scientific Ignorance 304
      Landing a cushy UN job 305

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    5. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      No Sean I meant to say "attached". Embedded is when you are embedded with military as a journalist. Media 101:-) Have you checked Al Jazeera mate - they tend to be pretty good but psst whatever you do don't go with the BBC. So to answer your question why - who cares! Your question is stupid and inspired by typically worse than average BBC hypothesis.

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    6. Sean Lamb

      Science Denier

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      Anyone who thinks Al Jazeera is "pretty good" has straight away disqualified themselves from any intelligent discussion on the Middle East - unless you are a fan of burqas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
      http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/07/11/al_jazeera_egypt_qatar_muslim_brotherhood

      "Many of the editors and anchors in Al Jazeera Arabic are de facto Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers," said Fadi Salem, a Dubai-based researcher specializing in Arab media. "This has been reflected in the channel's pro-Islamist coverage over the past two years, relying heavily on a combination of incitement, bloody scenes, and Islamic preachers and media commentators."

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    7. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      Sean at risk of engaging in another pointless debate with a media plebiscite who quotes BBC as gospel you will find that I have already mentioned Al Jazeera engages in another form of bias when responding to a post Venise made. This said - read between the lines my man and 1) you will find the CIA is heavily involved in the Syrian situation http://web.archive.org/web/20130129213824/http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2270219/U-S-planned-launch-chemical-weapon-attack-Syria-blame-Assad.html and…

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    8. Sean Lamb

      Science Denier

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      Grant - at least you confirm my very low opinion of the Human Rights industry.
      I view them as a sort of ideological SS, generating hate propaganda to lay the groundwork for the military arm.

      I am well aware of that deleted article. Although Britam Defence has denied the authenticity of the email and the Daily Mail apologised and retracted the article, I expect it is probably genuine. However there is no indication that Britam ever acted on or intended to act on the nutcase Qatari suggestion…

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    9. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      "Grant - at least you confirm my very low opinion of the Human Rights industry.
      I view them as a sort of ideological SS, generating hate propaganda to lay the groundwork for the military arm."

      Yes Sean you are absolutely right. Human rights is about promoting war:-) "ideological SS". Actually safe to say what the human rights network is about is promoting human rights and exposing human rights violations. Some people scream foul when human rights people hold states to account for violations but…

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    1. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Peter Dawson

      I guess Peter the truth is often in the pictures hence the saying "a picture speaks a thousand words." And definitely - Australian news from the big few is propaganda but then if we all stopped supporting our brainwashing by turning off our televisions and not buying newspapers they'd go bankrupt quickly enough. Fortunately the Net is undermining their power to corrupt the masses and I suspect in the next 50 years or so we will see the end of the "old" media. Myself I never turn on the TV (actually since digital I don't even have an aerial) and never buy newspapers. Easy enough to google world news and take it from there. Then go to various websites and find out the different perspectives and read what the people on the ground are saying for accurate info.

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    2. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      BTW an interesting read on how the US backed the gas attacks to strengthen their position against the Assad regime.... Sort of does stink of more CIA garbage and American imperialism in the region. The article link is to a daily mail piece which disappeared but is still online in the cache... http://web.archive.org/web/20130129213824/http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2270219/U-S-planned-launch-chemical-weapon-attack-Syria-blame-Assad.html

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    3. Venise Alstergren
      Venise Alstergren is a Friend of The Conversation.

      photographer, blogger.

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      Alternatively you could read Al Jazeera (English) readily available on-line. They have the best journos in the world, and they aren't afraid to access other News sources to back up their reportage. Al Jazeera is what a news publication should be about. It is not the mindless crap churned out by Rupert Murdoch, The Melbourne Age and Fairfax. And, of course the Melbourne Hun aka Sun Herald is another one of Rupert Murdoch's toys.

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    4. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Venise Alstergren

      Venise Al Jazeera is one of the few decent news outlets around the globe. It was blocked in North America for some time (surprise! surprise!). Funny really because a lot of ex BBC people work for Al Jazeera and this said it too leans towards a certain bias. That's why the net is better because you can filter the info from different stories. If you think Australian news is bad you should perhaps have a look at British tabloids and US rubbish. I don't mind Le Monde and an few other European newspapers also. Actually the Bangkok Post isn't bad too.

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    5. Sean Lamb

      Science Denier

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      Al Jazeera is the propaganda arm of the Qatar royal family - and it shows. The Daily Mail is the propaganda arm of the British military establishment for ignorant chavs.
      The London Telegraph which is the propaganda arm of the British military establishment for the educated classes first led off with a strange piece saying that if it was an attack the pictures were taken some time ago - demonstrably untrue - and then has been rather reticent on it ever since. I don't suppose they believe it, but won't say anything if it achieves the desired foreign policy outcome.

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    6. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      Grant, you clearly do not watch Al-Jazeera, as you would not have time. Given how much time you spend on TC bitching and moaning about News Corp, Murdoch, The Australian, "mainstream media", commercial networks, and so on, PLUS all the time you spend backing up your posts with links to the DAILY MAIL (I mean, talk about ROFL irony!), you could not possibly watch Al-Jazeera.

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    7. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      "I guess Peter the truth is often in the pictures hence the saying "a picture speaks a thousand words."
      OMG, your critical reasoning skills are already too underdeveloped for you to be trusted with verbal rhetoric, let alone visual rhetoric.

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  11. Peter Dawson

    Gap Decade

    Russia Today provides a bit of balance as far as news sources go: http://rt.com/news/ As does Press TV: http://www.presstv.com/ Sometimes the other guy's propaganda organ speaks more truth than your own.

    "In Al-Zoubi’s opinion, the goal of Wednesday’s “collateral” reports about the alleged chemical attack by government forces was to undermine the work of UN investigators who arrived in Syria after receiving a request from Damascus.

    "If the UN commission successfully completes its work, investigators will discover that chemical weapons were used in Khan al-Assal and that the Syrian army did not use such arms, the minister stated."

    http://rt.com/news/russia-syria-chemical-attack-801/

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  12. Ayman S

    Artz

    The symptoms of the civilians appear to be possible from organophosphate fertiliser mass spraying with a cropduster?

    Until it is actually proven to be the work of the regime, it would be folly to jump to any conclusions. Organophosphates are commonplace. The army was already winning and clearly outguns the rebels. There was no really good reason for the army to use something so common that even rebels could obtain easily, and spread, over conventional weapons and risk the ire of the USA.

    Has anyone forgotten Iraq part 2?

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  13. Sean Lamb

    Science Denier

    It is a very mysterious gas indeed since France, US and UK seemed united that after only 5 days it will be very difficult to find any evidence of it. Apparently sarin spontaneously combusts - even in fatal victims - after a couple of days if it is used by the government.

    Perhaps they should out-source the investigations to the Russians - who had no difficulty detecting sarin in Khan al-Assal several months later.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/10/world/middleeast/russia-says-study-suggests-syria-rebels-used-sarin.html?_r=0

    The UN inspectors were in Syria to confirm these Russians findings when the rebels launched their massive distraction.

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    1. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      Sean stunning analysis. You really ought to be working for the BBC. One problem though. The rebels are backed by the Americans while Russia is an ally to Syria (i.e. they support the government and not the the anarchy the US is trying to create). So based on your hypothesis it was the government who released Russian gas. Or was it the rebels who released US gas?

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    2. Sean Lamb

      Science Denier

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      Grant, your incoherent gibbering is over my head.

      I am just pointing out that French, British and US sudden equivocations that 5 days is too long to find evidence of CW traces with modern mass spectrometry equipment is just plainly wrong and suggests bad faith on their part. The only confirmed case of sarin use was on a government held village and the UN inspectors seemed confident enough they would still be able to detect traces 5 months after event. The very reason the UN inspectors were in Damascus at the precise time of this alleged attack was to inspect that site.

      They could take biological samples of one of those 300 or is it 1300 dead victims - provided the UN inspectors maintain complete chain of custody from collection to testing.
      Even a dead pigeon would do
      http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/International/2013/Aug-25/228554-us-britain-say-increasing-signs-syria-behind-attack.ashx#axzz2cyF5WXjF

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    3. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      PS and if you can't work it out why are the Americans so keen to bomb the hell out of the government? Well that one is rather easy. That was their intent the whole time. So the rebels win and if based on your hypothesis the rebels released the gas then who supplied your mystery gas?

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    4. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      "I am just pointing out that French, British and US sudden equivocations that 5 days is too long to find evidence of CW traces with modern mass spectrometry equipment is just plainly wrong and suggests bad faith on their part." Go figure!!

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    5. Sean Lamb

      Science Denier

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      If a chemical agent was used, modern techniques and proper chain of custody protocols will be able to detect it.

      I should just point out I have never for a minute doubted the Western powers in conjunction with the Human Rights Industry were hoping to bring about intervention in Syria
      I would invite you to read my excellent and prescient comments on this in March 2012
      https://theconversation.com/syrians-ask-why-not-give-democracy-a-chance-5776
      "In remains only to be seen how this game will be played out, over how long and what the eventual death toll and destruction will be."

      I have to say I would like to congratulate both the intelligence agencies and the human right community - they managed to make this game more horrible, more utterly vicious and more painful then I even imagined possible.

      Well played, gentlemen, well played.

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    6. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      Yet another stunning analysis Sean. You in the same breath link military to human rights. Mate as a tip you need to turn off the TV. You seem to be looking for some form of truth without realising you are living in Plato's cave.

      "In remains only to be seen how this game will be played out, over how long and what the eventual death toll and destruction will be."

      Absolutely but I think you are thinking far too narrow. The death toll from what? Syria or the next world war which I expect will kick off in under a decade?

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  14. Peter Dawson

    Gap Decade

    Just saw General Wesley Clark for 5 seconds on Lateline, advising on how a military intervention in Syria could/should be carried out. It's hard to interpret Americans sometimes - he was obviously more or less bragging about the American plan to invade 7 countries in 5 years. Another way of projecting American power.

    France is doing the front-running on beating the war drums, again, I notice.

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    1. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Peter Dawson

      "France is doing the front-running on beating the war drums, again, I notice."

      That one does interest me somewhat but then the French do tend to take a position and stick to it. Tough talk from a country that invented the word surrender.

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  15. Peter Dawson

    Gap Decade

    Maybe if more people saw the images of horrifyingly deformed Iraqi babies - deformed due to the depleted uranium bombs the United States military used on the Iraqi people - there'd be a chance of us stopping America from moving on to its next victim.

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