Bread and circuses.
The concept has been around as long as human hierarchy (a bloody long time), but was used two millennia ago by Roman commentator Juvenal to explain how it takes nothing more than a satiated appetite (bread) and extreme entertainment (circuses) to distract the masses from their political responsibility and the actions of government.
In Juvenal’s time, circuses related to entertainment through gladiators and violence.
The modern-day circus has replaced gladiators with Justin Biebers, Usain Bolts, and Kim Kardashians.
Mainstream media (yep that’s us) is now the Colosseum that stages the lives, loves and losses of celebrities, while ignoring the consequential news that is actually affecting the public’s lives.
The most recent celebrity that we have traded, like a commodity in exchange for our attention, is Kim Kardashian.
Of course what happened to the selfie queen was terrible and we are glad to hear she is okay. But meanwhile, huge relevant things were going on around us, and we chose to turn our eyes to the mountains of conspiracies surrounding her robbery.
Here are three huge stories that most of us were distracted from during the ‘Kardashtrophe’.
Colombia rejects peace treaty that could have ended 52 year armed conflict
A landmark referendum took place in Colombia on Monday with 50.2 per cent voting to reject a peace deal with Farc rebels.
An estimated 260,000 people have died in the conflict between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) and the government.
The deal was signed by President Juan Manuel Santos and Farc leader Timoleon Jimenez after nearly four years of negotiations, the BBC reports.
The deal had to be ratified by the Colombian public in order to come into force, and just over half of them rejected it because they felt it was too forgiving of the horrific actions Farc has taken over 52 years of armed conflict.
Polls conducted ahead of Sunday’s vote suggested a comfortable win for the ‘yes’ campaign, so the result was a surprise for many.
The turnout was low with less than 38 per cent of people voting.
The bilateral ceasefire between government forces and the Farc will remain in place and President Santos has promised to ‘continue the search for peace until the last moment of my mandate because that’s the way to leave a better country to our children’.
The Pentagon have paid a British PR firm $540m to create fake terrorist videos for propaganda
A London-based PR firm was paid $540 million by the United States Department of Defense to create covert ‘propaganda’ in Iraq.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism revealed that Bell Pottinger, a marketing company started by Margaret Thatcher’s spin-doctor Lord Bell in 1989, set up a base in Camp Victory in Baghdad, in what is believed to be one of the most expensive PR contracts in history.
Nearly 300 staff members reportedly operated a top-secret ‘Psychological operations’ task force where they wrote fake al-Qaeda videos and Arabic soap operas which were used to track the people viewing them online.
Lord Bell, who resigned as chairman of the firm this year, told The Sunday Times:
It was a covert military operation.
It was covered by various secrecy documents. We were very proud of it.
The propaganda was used to track potential terrorists, but then the programme, funded by the Pentagon, became engaged in a wider propaganda effort to promote the U.S. agenda across the media.
The planet is at its hottest for 115,000 years
The global temperature has increased to a level not seen for 115,000 years, a daunting increase that will hugely impact on coming generations.
A new paper submitted by James Hansen, a former senior NASA climate scientist, explains that the 2016 temperature is likely to be 1.25C above pre-industrial times.
The planet has been warming at a rate of 0.18C per decade over the past 45 years, bringing us back to a temperature last seen in the Eemian period when the sea level was six to nine meters higher than today.
Yesterday European Parliament President Martin Schulz signed the agreement to limit global warming.
There’s a misconception that we’ve begun to address the climate problem.
Even with optimistic assumptions (future emissions reduction) will cost hundreds of trillions of dollars. It’s potentially putting young people in charge of a situation that is beyond their control. It’s not clear they will be able to take such actions.
So there you have it, bread and circuses meant most of us missed all this.