Next month, Donald J. Trump, with hand on Bible, will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. Or will he? The recent talk about recounting votes and ‘faithless electors’ suggests this highly contentious power struggle is far from over.
In fact, it may be just beginning.
Anybody who believes Hillary Rodham Clinton has been sent to the political graveyard by a Manhattan real estate developer has forgotten the cruel surprises of recent history (Remember the Greek referendum? Brexit anyone?). Democratic due process has devolved into something like ‘The Hunger Games’ for the rich – a sensational televised spectacle to entertain the elite every four years, while keeping the people believing they can effect real change.
Although it may seem implausible to some, Donald J. Trump may be denied the presidency due to a democratic system that has been corrupted to the bone by excessive wealth, power and collusion at the highest levels.
Countdown to disaster?
As the world media continues to eulogize Cuban leader Fidel Castro, the neocon-liberal establishment is quietly positioning their chess pieces for a power grab of epic proportions. As far as I can tell, there are three stages of this silent coup presently being carried out on behalf of Hillary Clinton.
The first step in the process was to perpetuate the news that although Donald Trump won the Electoral College (306-232), he failed to win the popular vote – reportedly by 2.5 million votes, at last count.
Clinton’s alleged victory in the popular vote count, which continued for three weeks after Nov.9 (keep in mind that most of the vote monitors had already went home as these votes were being quietly tallied), could present serious complications for Trump and his chances of entering the White House, as will become clear a bit later.
Meanwhile, the blatantly anti-Trump media is conducting “thought experiments” to show how Clinton would have, could have, should have won the Electoral College if only the Electoral map had been spliced and diced here and there across the nation. The implicit media message behind all of this tomfoolery, of course, is that Wall Street-approved Clinton deserves her coronation, because, well, that is what the elite want, democratic procedure be damned.
This ongoing campaign on behalf of Clinton is much more than just sour grapes; in fact, it is a war of attrition designed to exert undue pressure on the Electoral College, the rickety institution that got Trump elected in the first place. And although it has never robbed an election from a candidate who has gained the majority of Electoral College votes, there is a possibility – and a very high one in this particular battle – of so-called “faithless electors” tipping this contest in Clinton’s favor.
This represents the second stage of Clinton’s attempt at reversing the results of the presidential election in her favor.
Will the Electoral College go rogue?
The Electoral College is scheduled to meet on December 19 to perform what, under normal circumstances, would be a mere formality of voting for either Clinton or Trump, according to the will of their constituents.
Needless to say, we are not dealing with “normal circumstances.”
The 2016 presidential campaign represents an epic power struggle that will determine the trajectory of US domestic and foreign policy like no other contest in recent history. No surprise, then, that neo-liberal lobbying groups have been exerting immense pressure on these electors to ignore the will of the people and “vote their conscience.”
You’d be very wrong to think this couldn’t work. If 37 Republican electors vote against Trump, it will block him from winning the presidency. The Democrat’s team of lawyers and political consultants are now working around the clock to make this happen.
Micheal Baca, a Denver Democrat and a member of the state’s Electoral College delegation, is one of the individuals working to persuade Republican electors to discard the will of the people and vote for anybody but Trump.
Baca makes no secret about his intentions to override the Constitution and go rogue.
“This is not about Hillary,” he said. “This is about trying to stop Donald Trump.”
Let’s take a moment and perform our own “thought experiment” and consider the repercussions if Hillary Clinton is inaugurated as President instead of Trump. If the country is not completely overwhelmed by coast-to-coast riots and protests, and there is somehow a peaceful transition of power, then Clinton can expect to face four years of the most hostile, uncooperative (Republican) Congress in American history (although given the number of neocons who openly support Clinton and her hawkish tendencies, there could be points of agreement).
In a best-case scenario, it would be a four-year-long government shutdown, aside from performing the necessary task of maintaining ‘law and order’ at home while continuing on a war footing abroad. America would get its first real taste of what martial law feels like.
The American Conservative painted the following picture as to what would happen if Trump’s Electoral College victory were rescinded: “Constitutional government would have broken down, and we would be facing something like a Latin American presidential dictatorship. For several years, Washington’s political debate would be reduced to something like a Hobbesian war of all against all.”
Is that something we really need? Apparently it is for some folks, and not least of all Green Party presidential candidate, Jill Stein.
And this brings us to the final stage of a possible Clinton coup.
Civil War, anyone?
It is generally assumed that it was Jill Stein, the Green Party presidential candidate who masterminded the call for a recount of votes in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. That’s not quite right.
New York magazine reported that on November 17 Hillary Clinton was “urged by a group of prominent computer scientists and election lawyers to call for a recount in three swing states won by Donald Trump… The group is so far not speaking on the record about their findings and is focused on lobbying the Clinton team in private.”
Just one day after the above article appeared (Nov. 22), Jill Stein, who came in dead last with about 3 million votes less than Gary ‘What is Aleppo?’ Johnson, announced she would be collecting money to recount votes in the swing states. By the way, one of the odd things about Stein’s choice of swing states is that these are the same places where Trump emerged victorious. Coincidence or conspiracy theory, that alone should have set off some alarms.
In any case, the reason Stein and not Clinton is calling for the recount is evident: Throughout the campaign, the media hounded Trump with a single annoying question never asked of the future loser: Would he accept the results of the election in the event he lost? When Trump said he would take a “wait and see” approach, Clinton assumed a holier than thou position.
“Now make no mistake,” Clinton solemnly told supporters, “by doing that, he is threatening our democracy. The peaceful transition of power is one of the things that sets us apart. It’s how we hold our country together no matter who’s in charge.”
So now that the tables are turned, Stein is in the kitchen doing the dirty work. And the media suddenly can’t get enough of this woman who haunted the 2016 election like a phantom sighting.
Here’s how News Busters tallied her sudden stardom: “When Jill Stein was the Green Party’s candidate for US president, the networks only gave her 36 seconds of coverage. However, as soon as she launched a campaign to contest the presidential election and demand a recount of ballots in several key states, the evening news shows on ABC, CBS and NBC managed to find 7 minutes and 26 seconds of coverage for her in just four days. That’s more than 12 times as much coverage as in the entire campaign.”
But it gets better. Stein has managed to accumulate a massive war chest to carry out the recount – $7 million at last count (or about seven times what she received during her entire presidential campaign). At one point, her recount drive was pulling in almost $5,000 every minute. Somehow that doesn’t sound like the average Joe Voter digging deep in his Levi’s. Even more mysteriously, when Stein first started passing the hat around, she said $2.5 million would be plenty, thank you very much. Yet every time she hit the target, a higher threshold was introduced. Just can’t keep up with inflation these days!
Is Stein’s campaign simply about collecting some easy money while giving the Green Party some much-needed attention? Or is Stein just trying to shed some much-needed light on the dry rot that is gnawing away at the foundation of US democracy? All that, however necessary, seems very unlikely. After all, the recount plan was initially floated to Hillary Clinton, not Jill Stein. Thus, we must assume this is all part of a major power push for Hillary Clinton to grab the White House from Donald Trump.
As Paul Joseph Watson elegantly put it: “Her entire campaign was backed by an establishment that wouldn’t hesitate to exploit a recount to carry out the vote fraud they thought they didn’t need on Election Day.”
And here is where we can fit the last piece into the puzzle to understand what is really going on here. If the recount effort alone won’t make much of a difference to either Clinton or Stein’s chances of overturning the massive edge that Trump now enjoys, then why are they bothering themselves? Hold onto your seats, folks, this gets interesting.
The answer boils down to simple arithmetic, as well as some monkey play in the system.
Presently, Michigan has already agreed to a recount, which will be carried out this weekend and require hand-counting of ballots in the regions. This process will take many days. Federal law requires the recount to be finished by Dec. 13 – just six days before the Electoral College is expected to cast its votes.
Wisconsin has already agreed to a recount, while Pennsylvania is dragging its feet. In other words, this process will probably take us right up to Dec. 19 – the date the Electoral College is supposed to cast their votes (Why the Electoral College vote isn’t valid without these voters, who could go rogue, is a question for another day).
Keep in mind that the total number of Electoral College Votes in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania equals 46. Now take Trump’s 306 Electoral votes and subtract that amount. This leaves you with 260, which is below the 270 required for a candidate to be automatically considered the winner of a presidential election. Do you see where this is going?
Now if this recount should start to point toward a Clinton victory in these three swing states, this will present Trump with a very serious quandary. Should he kick up a fuss and protest the recount on the grounds that he won the Electoral College, this could provoke some sort of “constitutional crisis” that prevents the recount from being completed by the Dec. 13 deadline.
Now, if the matter remains unsettled by Dec. 19 this could – technically speaking – give the Electoral College’s “faithless electors” yet more reason for not aligning themselves with their constituents. Or, on the other hand, the Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania votes could be considered forfeited because they failed to resolve the issue by the Dec. 19 deadline.
So if it did come down to this, who do you think will be selected – possibly by the very Supreme Court that Trump hopes to disband once in office – to be the 45th president of the United States?
Yes, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the candidate we have been told got 2.5 million more popular votes than Donald Trump (I would suggest Trump start a serious process to challenge those votes right now).
For those who still doubt this possibility, please consider the two latest failed grassroots movements of our times – Brexit and the Greek referendum – two examples of ‘democracy in action’ that the political elite has de facto canceled or put on hold indefinitely.
Such dramatic setbacks, which are becoming the rule rather than the exception, lend credence to Mark Twain’s famous observation that “If voting made any difference they wouldn’t let us do it.”
In other words, the elite will always get what they want, regardless how the votes goes.
Clinton seizing the White House through the backdoor would not be the strangest thing to happen in old Washington. Just ask George W. Bush how he got elected president in 2000 by the Supreme Court, not We the People.
Robert Bridge is an American writer and journalist based in Moscow, Russia. His articles have been featured in many publications, including Russia in Global Affairs, The Moscow Times, Lew Rockwell and Global Research. Bridge is the author of the book on corporate power, “Midnight in the American Empire”, which was released in 2013. email: firstname.lastname@example.org
A few weeks prior to the November 8 Presidential vote, I began the draft of an essay expecting a future attack by the government on the First Amendment citing President Obama’s most recent mellifluous verbal assault on free speech as HRC’s campaign speeches indicated that protecting a diversity of opinion would not be a top priority in her Administration.
Now in retrospect, it appears that Obama and HRC were both, most likely in the loop and knew what was coming as they prepared the way with subtle (and not so subtle) references to taming that messy, wild, wild west otherwise known as the world wide web.
As a reminder, during the 2008 Presidential campaign, Barack Obama was touted as a Constitutional scholar explaining that “I taught the Constitution for ten years. I believe in the Constitution and I will obey the Constitution of the United States.” During that campaign, he pledged to end warrantless surveillance (Fourth Amendment), detention without habeas corpus or trial (Fifth Amendment), torture (Eighth Amendment), and excessive executive branch secrecy and not engage in an offensive war without Congressional approval (both Article 1, Section 8).
That the President failed in those pledges is not surprising just as he promised the most open and transparent Administration ever in American history luring the Dem-Libs into eight years of somnolent rapture. Instead, the President used the Espionage Act for his Administration’s aggressive prosecution of more whistleblowers than all other Presidents combined and its pursuit of longer jail sentences than any other President. There is also the President’s disregard for the Rule of Law with his publicly declared, predetermined guilt of Chelsea Manning in 2011.
During a visit to the White House Frontiers Conference in Pittsburgh on October 13th, the President, known for his smooth, glib reassurances so successful at placating the public, suggested that “we are going to have to rebuild within this wild-wild-west-of-information flow some sort of curating function that people agree to” and that “democracy requires citizens to be able to sift through lies and distortions” and further that “those that we have to discard, because they just don’t have any basis in anything that’s actually happening in the world.” The President continued that “there has to be some sort of way in which we can sort through information that passes some basic truthiness tests.”
The President’s statement does not adequately capture what democracy requires of its citizens and reads more like what George Orwell epitomized as ‘political speech’ deliberately meant to confuse and demean citizen awareness. What Obama failed to acknowledge is that every American has a right, an obligation as an engaged citizen to determine for themselves what is a lie, distortion or truth; that ‘fake news’ is in the eye of the beholder and what a citizen believes and what they do not believe is their business and requires no justification to the government or anyone else. Most importantly, it was the President’s obligation to say that with a tremendous divergence of opinion on the www, some of it wacky, some of it conspiratorial, some of it incredibly incisive and intelligent and important – all of it is protected by the First Amendment.
To briefly parse the President’s words, most of which are painfully obvious, suggestions of a “curating function” as in some official government entity assigned for the purpose of “protecting” (“ added) the public interest and “some sort of way… sort through information that passes some truthiness test” are presented in the President’s usual folksy, innocuous dialectic used to serve the public pablum while a further shredding of their Constitutional rights slips by under their nose.
Fast forward to Thanksgiving Day, when most Americans were still slicing the turkey, the Washington Post found it the right time to publish a partisan-related article entitled “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say” written by Craig Timberg.
What is especially curious about the timing is that Timberg’s article and the Propornot report were released within weeks of the imminent inauguration of a new President and that new President-elect’s name is included as one of the ‘bad guys’ according to Propornot’s YYYcampaignYYY. (see below)
One of the many problems with this article, besides the problematic First Amendment issues and journalistic standards of objectivity that Timberg’s reportage entails, is the weirdly anonymous nature of unnamed, non partisan ‘independent researchers’ (aka ‘concerned American citizens”). Timberg cited two tiers of ‘researchers’ who claimed that a “sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign” disseminating ‘fake news’ had found solace within the ranks of two hundred on line websites including “botnets” and “paid trolls” are “undermining faith in US democracy” and “embarrassed” Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton (HRC).
With a faux solemnity of protecting the nation at a time of great peril, the Post article assumes the validity of the ‘flood of fake news this election season’ as a given, with no critical analysis identifying what flood of fake news? How did that tsunami of ‘fake news’ get by me? Immediately, Mr. Timberg embraced the ‘fake news’ concept with no question as to its ‘truthiness” and accepted the fallacious notion that the Russians were required to provide necessary background information with which to create ‘fake news.’ Apparently the Post, Timberg and his secret grifters believe that none of the contributing writers of those two hundred websites, labeled by Timberg as “routine peddlers of Russian propaganda,” have the brains or initiative to create and research their own commentaries without being directed by some surreptitious foreign power.
Obviously, the issue is that any online article that dares question Obama or HRC’s proclivity for disastrous foreign policy entanglements or any disagreement with the established order’s agenda has been designated as a purveyor of ‘fake news’ generated by Russia.
The ‘researchers,’ according to Timberg, claimed to use “internet analytics tools to trace the origins of particular tweets and mapped the connections among social media accounts that consistently delivered synchronized messages” and that “exact phrases or sentences were echoed by sites and social-media accounts in rapid succession, signaling membership in connected networks controlled by a single entity.”
Citing RT News and Sputnik as sources, what Timberg is suggesting is that a US online website specifically used verbatim language from RT or Sputnik in the text of an article – yet no examples, not one illustration of such journalistic defilement was provided.
Timberg and the Post had a journalistic duty to specifically identify the “origin of particular tweets” and follow that tweet to show exactly how that tweet ‘consistently delivered synchronized messages.” Further, the Post had an obligation to specifically demonstrate how ‘exact phrases or sentences were echoed .. in rapid succession” and ended up “signaling members in connected networks controlled by a single entity.”
Instead Timberg failed to conduct his own examination of what the “researchers” had claimed and did exactly what he was claiming the websites did which was to mindlessly publish someone else’s allegations without verification.
The fact that Timberg recited what he was told by the ‘researchers’ indicates he is willing to accept ‘fake news’ without checking his informant’s information – which proves the point that ‘fake news’ begins with those pointing the finger at others.
A closer reading of Timberg’s article however informs that, according to unnamed ‘researchers’, RT, Sputnik and other Russian sites used social media to ‘amplify’ stories already circulating on line and were able to identify ‘trending’ topics that “sometimes prompted coverage from mainstream American news organizations.” Sounds like the Russian media committed the grievous error of getting the jump on the asleep-at-the-wheel MSM.
Also the ‘researchers’ complained that “The speed and coordination of these efforts allowed Russian-backed phony news to outcompete traditional news organizations for audience.” Got that? “Outcompete traditional news organizations”. Again, MSM with egg on their face.
Of special interest was Timberg’s mention of “Propornot,” a group which, according to the Post, is a ‘nonpartisan collection of researchers with foreign policy, military and technology backgrounds” whose report would show the ‘startling reach and effectiveness of Russian propaganda campaigns.”
So while Propornot website has a list of two hundred websites and a list of nineteen chosen for special attention, no identifying evidence or proof is presented other than wild accusations and unsubstantiated fact-free assertions that any of these websites are ‘peddlers’ for Russian propaganda.
All this agitation might stir some real concern and downright intimidation if it were anything but sheer hogwash. None of Timberg’s assertions pan out as the nineteen websites selected by Propornot were not vetted as described above in this essay; that is connecting website text with text submitted by Russian spooks.
Upon visiting the Propornot website, the public is greeted with an eerily sparse home page reminiscent of something from post-WWII Russian KGB and a very bizarre introduction to “Your Friendly Neighborhood Propaganda Identification Service, Since 2016!” and no identified participants except comedian and satirist Samantha Bee, hostess for TBS’s late night news comedy program Full Front. Bee, who apparently agreed to be the face of Propornot is accompanied by two fully masked men who claim to be Russian hackers. Now right away, Bee’s presence confirms this is all a spoof, Timberg was tricked and this is all a Samantha Bee publicity stunt.
Except it is not. The Propornot Team calls on a disreputable Congress and a lame duck Obama Administration to investigate Russian manipulation of the US political process and whether the American public was deprived of information to vote in an ‘informed manner’. In other words, another attempt to scapegoat HRC’s rejection at the polls.
Perhaps the most malevolent element of Propornot is the YYYcampaignYYY where the general public is encouraged to cross the Rubicon to a fully totalitarian state by not only identifying Russian propaganda outlets but also those known ‘sympathizers.’
In addition, YYYcampaignYYY makes the point that no matter whether a citizen is knowingly directed or not but continues to ‘echo Russian propaganda,” their “willingness to uncritically echo Russian propaganda makes them a tool of the Russian state.” The threat here is that with Russia declared an ‘enemy” of the US, a citizen may be committing treason.
If there is any doubt whether the Timberg article and Propornot itself is a partisan effort, the YYY implication is that anyone “echoing a Russian propaganda line” such as those who speak “how wonderful, powerful, innocent and righteous Russia and Russia’s friends are: Putin, Donald Trump, al-Bashar Assad, Syria, Iran, China, radical political parties” will be considered tools of Russia as compared with those who speak “how terrible, weak, aggressive, and corrupt the opponents of Russia are: the US, Obama, HRC, the EU, Angela Merkel, NATO, Ukraine, Jewish people, US allies, MSM and Democrats” will be considered enemies of the State. Anyone with such information is encouraged to ‘come tell us at Propornot about it.’
Consider that Propornot’s YYYcampaignYYY identified President Elect Trump as one of the ‘bad guys’ who is, in certain circles, considered to be entirely too amenable to Putin while HRC and the Democrats who created the unprovoked attacks on Putin are the “good guys.’
Exactly what is the Deep State telling us?
Renee Parsons has been a member of the ACLU’s Florida State Board of Directors and president of the ACLU Treasure Coast Chapter. She has been an elected public official in Colorado, an environmental lobbyist and staff member of the US House of Representatives in Washington DC. She can be found on Twitter @reneedove31
Donald Trump has set off a new controversy with a signature early morning tweet. Trump lashed out at those who burn American flags and said that they should be punished for their actions. The problem is that this question was already answered by the Supreme Court, which found that such acts (while despicable) are constitutionally protected under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Early this morning, Trump went on Twitter to say: “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!”
I have long been critical of those who burn our flag, which I view as a symbol of our constitutional freedoms and the sacrifice of generations to preserve this Republic. However, there are many things that people say or do that I find disturbing or insulting. That does not alter the fact that they are protected expressions of free speech.
President-Elect Trump does not appear to see it that way. Yet, both the Constitution and the Supreme Court stand in the way of punitive measures for flag burners. Having said that, Trump’s view has been shared by various justices in history including such liberal icons as Chief Justice Earl Warren in his dissenting opinion in Street v. New York, 394 U.S. 576 (1969). Likewise, Hillary Clinton supported such a law in 2005.
Nevertheless, in the United States, the destruction of the flag is a protected form of free speech. In Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989), the Supreme Court voted 5-4 that flag burning was protected speech under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. It is considered one of the core cases defining free speech in the United States. Brennan was joined by Marshall, Blackmun, Scalia, and Kennedy (Kennedy wrote a concurrence). I agree with the decision as did conservatives like Scalia, who Trump has expressed great admiration for. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote a powerful concurrence where he famously stated:
Justice Kennedy wrote a concurrence with Brennan’s opinion. Kennedy wrote:For we are presented with a clear and simple statute to be judged against a pure command of the Constitution. The outcome can be laid at no door but ours. The hard fact is that sometimes we must make decisions we do not like. We make them because they are right, right in the sense that the law and the Constitution, as we see them, compel the result. And so great is our commitment to the process that, except in the rare case, we do not pause to express distaste for the result, perhaps for fear of undermining a valued principle that dictates the decision. This is one of those rare cases.
Though symbols often are what we ourselves make of them, the flag is constant in expressing beliefs Americans share, beliefs in law and peace and that freedom which sustains the human spirit. The case here today forces recognition of the costs to which those beliefs commit us. It is poignant but fundamental that the flag protects those who hold it in contempt.
Congress has shown the same opposition to the decision as Trump. It passed the 1989 Flag Protection Act to make it a federal crime to desecrate the flag. That law was struck down in United States v. Eichman, 496 U.S. 310 (1990). The Court ruled that “the Government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.”
Various congressional members have also sought to pass a constitutional amendment on flag desecration but the proposed amendment has failed in the Senate. It has been ten years since the last serious effort has been made for an amendment on the issue. Trump aides might argue that he was not questioning the legitimacy of the decision but supporting a constitutional amendment.
I understand Trump’s anger and I indeed share it when I see the flag burned. However, you do not protect the flag by diminishing the very thing is represented: our constitutional freedoms.
Of course, while Trump cannot change the meaning of the Constitution, he can change the make up of the Court (or support a Flag-Desecration Amendment). Ironically, by replacing Scalia with someone who does not hold as strong a belief in First Amendment rights, he could shift the vote toward a reversal of the 1989 precedent. I hope that that is not the case. It could place this country on a slippery slope of criminalized speech. I prefer to live in a country where tweets and protests are both given ample protection.
Your crime, as it were, need not be substantiated with evidence; the mere fact you publicly revealed your anti-Establishment thought convicted you.
One of the most remarkable ironies of The Washington Post’s recent evidence-free fabrication of purported “Russian propaganda” websites (including this site) is how closely it mimics the worst excesses of the USSR’s Stalinist era.
One episode is especially relevant to the totalitarian tactics of The Washington Post’s evidence-free accusation. Solzhenitsyn tells the story of one poor fellow who made the mistake of recounting a dream he’d had the previous night to his co-workers.
In his dream, Stalin had come to some harm. In Solzhenitsyn’s account, the fellow was remorseful about the dream.
Alas, mere remorse couldn’t possibly save him. He was promptly arrested for “anti-Soviet thoughts” and given a tenner in the Gulag–a tenner being a ten-year sentence in a Siberian labor camp.
The Washington Post’s accusation is based on a “behavioral analysis”–in other words, publicly sharing “anti-Soviet thoughts”–in our era, the equivalent is sharing anti-Establishment thoughts.
Your crime, as it were, need not be substantiated with evidence; the mere fact you publicly revealed your anti-Establishment thought convicted you.
This is the Corporate Media’s Gulag of the Mind. We’ll tell you what’s “true” and what is correct to think and believe. Any deviation from the party line is a threat and must be discredited, marginalized or suppressed.
Where is the Post’s hard evidence of Russian ties or Russian influence? There isn’t any–but like Stalin’s henchmen, the Post has no need for evidence: merely going public with an anti-Establishment thought “proves” one’s guilt in the kangaroo court of America’s corporate media (a.k.a. mainstream media or MSM).
While The Washington Post is owned by billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the vast majority of what we read, watch and hear is controlled by a handful of corporations loaded with cash and connections to the ruling elite.
This concentration of media control creates the illusion of choice— the same elite-propaganda spin is everywhere you look; our “choice” of “approved” (i.e. corporate) media is roughly the same as that offered the Soviet citizenry in the old USSR.
This is why the billionaire/corporate media is so desperate to discredit the non-corporate media: if an alternative to the corporate media’s elite-propaganda catches on, the corporate media will lose its audience, its advert revenues and a substantial measure of its influence.
The cornered elite-propaganda beast is lashing out, undermining its waning credibility with every attack on an independent free press. As I noted in a recent conversation with Max Keiser, democracy requires the citizenry to sort out who benefits from whatever narrative is being pushed.
That’s what terrifies the elite-propaganda mainstream media: the status quo narrative they’ve spewed for years doesn’t benefit the bottom 95% — rather, it actively impoverishes and disempowers the bottom 95%–and the citizenry is slowly awakening to this reality.
So for goodness sakes, if you have an anti-elitist dream, keep it to yourself or you’ll end up on the ruling elite’s “enemies list.”
The final irony in all this: the real enemy of democracy and freedom of the press is The Washington Post and the rest of the billionaire/corporate media. The only way to escape the Corporate Media’s Gulag of the Mind is to stop watching their TV channels, turn off their radio stations and stop reading their print/digital propaganda–except of course if you have a taste for dark humor.
Check out both of my new books, Inequality and the Collapse of Privilege ($3.95 Kindle, $8.95 print) and Why Our Status Quo Failed and Is Beyond Reform ($3.95 Kindle, $8.95 print). For more, please visit the OTM essentials website.
Britain’s intelligence services have officially been given the most wide-ranging and privacy-invading mass surveillance powers in the world, according to critics, after the Investigatory Powers Act became law on Tuesday.
The legislation, dubbed the ‘snooper’s charter,’ authorizes the government to hack into devices, networks and services in bulk, and allows for large databases of personal information on UK citizens to be maintained.
It requires internet, phone and communication app companies to store customers’ records for 12 months and allow authorities to access them on demand.
That data could be anything from internet search history, calls made or messages sent, and will be available to a wide range of agencies, including the Department for Work and Pensions as well as the Food Standards Agency.
Security agencies will also be able to force companies to decrypt data, effectively placing limits on the use of end-to-end encryption.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd has hailed the legislation as “world-leading,” saying it provides “unprecedented transparency and substantial privacy protection.”
The Home Office says the “landmark” law “sets out and governs the powers available to the police, security and intelligence agencies to gather and access electronic communications.”
In a statement, the department said the law “brings together and updates existing powers while radically overhauling how they are authorized and overseen.”
Not all the powers available in the act will be rolled out immediately. Some require testing so will not be ready for some time, the Home Office says.
The legislation has been divisive since it was first published, and was opposed by tens of thousands of people in a recent petition.
Civil liberties group Liberty told the Independent the law served as a “beacon for despots everywhere.”
“It’s a sad day for our democracy as this bill, with its eye-wateringly intrusive powers and flimsy safeguards, becomes law,” said Bella Sankey, the group’s policy director.
“The government has a duty to protect us, but these measures won’t do the job. Instead they open every detail of every citizen’s online life up to state eyes, drowning the authorities in data and putting innocent people’s personal information at massive risk.
“This new law is world-leading – but only as a beacon for despots everywhere. The campaign for a surveillance law fit for the digital age continues, and must now move to the courts.”
Privacy campaigners say the law will provide an international standard to authoritarian regimes around the world to justify their own intrusive surveillance powers, and could be a breach of human rights.
The world, through the ballot box, is speaking out. From the British «Yes» vote on BREXIT – the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union – to the election of the anti-globalization Donald Trump as president of the United States, the world is speaking out against the homogenization of the world into a super-state of blurred and overlapping governments, cultural identities, religions, and politics. The U.S. presidential election was not so much an election as it was a referendum on globalization in all of its malignant manifestations: free trade, open borders, and subjugation of national sovereignty to amorphous international organizations.
From every continent, there is growing popular support for «exiting» international contrivances, from the European Union and International Criminal Court to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and even the United Nations.
In August of this year, President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines threatened to pull his country out of the UN in what was the first such threat by a UN member-state since Indonesian President Sukarno successfully withdrew his nation from the UN in 1965.
Proponents of economic and political globalization have not only been dealt heavy blows in the election of Trump in the United States and the success of the BREXIT vote in the United Kingdom, but also in the decision by South Africa and other African nations to withdraw from the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The international tribunal heavily-influenced by global hedge fund viper George Soros that is increasingly seen by Africa as the «International Caucasian Court» primarily targeting African leaders for war crimes prosecutions. In October of this year, South Africa joined Burundi and Gambia in announcing that it would leave the ICC. Ironically and embarrassingly, the ICC’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, is from Gambia.
In 2015, South Africa was condemned by the usual collection of Soros-financed NGOs, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, for not arresting President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan, previously indicted by the ICC, while he was on an official visit to South Africa. South Africa rejected the ICC’s interference in its internal affairs and this disgust for the court culminated in the recent decision to depart from the court.
A month later, Russia announced that it was withdrawing as a signatory to the 2000 Rome Treaty that established the ICC. After the November Asia-Pacific economic summit in Lima, Peru, Philippines President Duterte also announced his country would join Russia, South Africa, and others in leaving the ICC. Duterte said, «They are useless — those in the International Criminal [Court]. [Russia] withdrew. I might follow. Why? Only the small ones like us are battered». Other African nations are considering scrapping the ICC. They include Uganda, Kenya, and Namibia. In 2015, Namibian President Hage Geingob visited former Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete to urge him to follow Namibia’s lead and exit from the ICC. At a summit of the African Union in South Africa, Geingob said, «Some people are saying we are the ones who created the ICC. However, when one creates something to be an asset but later on it becomes an abomination, you have the right to quit it since it has ceased serving its intended purpose».
The BREXIT and Trump victories have emboldened electorates in many other nations to reject contrivances that stymie national sovereign rights. December 4, 2016 represents a watershed date to reject globalist agendas. It is the date of the re-run of the Austrian presidential election of April 24, 2016, one in which the anti-EU candidate of the Austrian Freedom Party, Norbert Hofer, was narrowly defeated by pro-EU Alexander van der Bellen of the Green Party. It turned out that 77,900 absentee ballots were miscounted in what represented a typical Soros-manipulated election. The Constitutional Court of Austria ordered a new election. The outcome of the December 4 election is believed by pollsters to heavily favor Hofer, as Austria has been caught up in the anti-EU groundswell rippling through Europe. December 4 is also the date of the Italian constitutional change referendum.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has staked his political future on the referendum, which if passed, will reduce the power of the Italian upper house of parliament, the Senate, and drastically cut back the powers of the Italian regions. Renzi has tapped support for his referendum from the usual collection of those who do not represent the common people – members of the glitterati of the elite, such as actors, singers, celebrity chefs, professional athletes, film directors, and other diversionary leeches on society. The campaign for Montenegro to join NATO, backed by Soros- and CIA-funded propagandists, saw Montenegrin actors, journalists, and professional athletes appearing on television commercials urging NATO membership for the country even as many polls showed majority opposition to joining the military alliance.
Renzi, a supporter of the EU and global integration, said he will resign if his referendum fails. And fail it is expected to do as «No» voters are far ahead in opinion polls. December 4 may very well go down in history along with June 24, 2016 and November 8, 2016 – the respective dates of BREXIT and trump’s election – as a red-letter day when voters rejected globalization. Renzi will soon join other discredited globalists, including former British Prime Ministers Tony Blair and David Cameron, former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, French President Francois Hollande, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel as footnotes in a failed history of international integration.
Another important date for GLEXIT was November 13. With the globalists’ world still shaken from the election of Trump on November 8 came word that the pro-Russian former MiG pilot Rumen Radev, a political novice, won the Bulgarian presidential election. The election resulted in the resignation of Bulgaria’s pro-EU government. The same day, voters in Moldova elected Igor Dodon, who rejected a Moldova-EU trade agreement and favored joining the Eurasian Economic Union championed by Russia. The two elections in countries where Soros has infiltrated so much of the media and political infrastructures with pro-EU and pro-NATO acolytes were historic and another indication that the world was rejecting globalization.
In addition to the EU, NATO, and the ICC, other regional globalist-oriented organizations are also teetering on permanent disruption. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has split along pro-Indian and pro-Pakistani lines. A recent SAARC summit in Pakistan was canceled after India refused to attend. India was soon joined by its allies, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Afghanistan. The organization appears to be permanently split, with the other SAARC members of Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Nepal opposing India and generally aligning with Pakistan. Another failed international organization, the Arab League, is a vassal of Saudi and Gulf money and showed its worthlessness in 2011 when it suspended Syria and Libya as members after they were faced with NATO-backed jihadist revolutions. The League also grants membership to the Saudi puppet government of Yemen.
Mirroring the withdrawal of African states from the ICC, Venezuela in 2013 announced its withdrawal from the heavily U.S.-influenced Inter-American Convention on Human Rights (IACHR), a contrivance of the Organization of American States based in Washington, DC next to the White House. Venezuela’s withdrawal also rejected the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (CorteIDH) based in Costa Rica. The Dominican Republic withdrew from the court in 2014. Trinidad and Tobago admirably led the way in rejecting the so-called «Inter-American System», that is, American hegemony over the Western Hemisphere, when it withdrew from the IACHR in 1998. Criticism of the IACHR has come from Ecuador, Nicaragua, Colombia, and Peru.
The Commonwealth of Nations, an anachronistic leftover from the British Empire that cobbles together former British colonies into a group of British royal family sycophant nations, has seen Gambia, Maldives, and Zimbabwe leave the tacitly-worthless international organization.
Trump’s announcement that the U.S. would withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) also dealt a body blow to the globalization cause. TPP is dead with U.S. withdrawal. American rejection of TPP left other TPP signatories, such as New Zealand and South Korea, looking to expand trade agreements with China in a display of renewed preference for bilateralism over multilateralism. There is a «New World Order», but not one envisaged by the globalists. This New World Order is one of renewed national sovereignty, cultural and religious identity, and rejection of dictates from unelected international bureaucrats.
There’s news. There’s fake news. And then there’s “pseudo” news, which according to the European Parliament, encompasses any Russian media which doesn’t adhere to a Western narrative and neglects to present an entirely pro-EU perspective on world events.
In a completely bonkers move this week, the EU Parliament approved a resolution to counter “Russian propaganda” and the “intrusion of Russian media” into the EU. The resolution was adopted with 304 MEPs voting in favor, 179 MEPs voting against it and 208 abstaining. The most bizarre part, however, is that the resolution lumped Russian media in with Islamist propaganda of the kind spread by terror groups like the so-called Islamic State. Thus Russian media is put on the same level with videos of ISIS beheadings and incitements to mass murder.
According to the resolution, Russian media exists to “undermine the very notion of objective information or ethical journalism,” and one of its methods is to cast all other information “as biased or as an instrument of political power.”
The real hypocrisy here is that this last part almost exactly describes how Brussels regards any media critical of its own actions. The resolution criticizes channels like RT for casting other news sources as biased or as instruments of political power while smearing anyone who associates with the Russian media as Kremlin puppets, bought and paid for by Vladimir Putin — and yet the irony appears completely lost on them.
Act as I say, not as I do
The totally barmy resolution also “notes with regret” that Moscow uses meetings with EU counterparts only for propaganda purposes, rather than for establishing a “real dialog” with Brussels. Another statement ripe with irony, given Brussels just a couple of weeks ago hosted an EU-Russia summit, the aim of which was to foster “mutual understanding” between Russia and the EU — without inviting any representatives of the Russian government. Instead, they asked obscure and practically unknown opposition figures with zero power or influence inside Russia. As noted by RT columnist Bryan MacDonald, this would be like Brussels hosting a summit to discuss the future of the United States and inviting the Green Party’s Jill Stein while ignoring the two parties that actually hold power. Under Brussels’ own definition, one could easily argue that the EU is trying to “undermine political cohesion” in Russia just as it accuses Moscow of doing in Europe.
Unfortunately, this ludicrous report is not a one-off. It appears to be part of an all-out attack on the Russian media coming from every angle. One of the most surprising developments comes from the organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF), which apparently prides itself on protecting journalists and press freedom worldwide. RSF has declared that it will no longer give interviews to any reporters from the Rossiya Segodnya group, which includes RT and the Sputnik news agency.
Similarly, a couple of weeks ago US State Department spokesman John Kirby refused to acknowledge an RT reporter as being on an equal footing with other journalists in the briefing room. Kirby point blank refused to treat Gayane Chichakyan as being “on the same level” because she represented a “state-owned” outlet — despite AP reporter Matt Lee stepping in to defend her.
Now, while RT may be state-funded, one very much doubts that Kirby would chastise a reporter from, say, the virulently anti-Russia BBC, whose Trust members are all appointed by the Queen on the advice of UK government ministers. He probably also doesn’t worry too much about US government-funded media like the CIA-founded RFE/RL, which operates for the exclusive purpose of undermining the Russian government and spreading pro-US information. Around the same time as Kirby’s comment, RT’s video agency Ruptly was banned from attending a Pentagon media event because the agency is a “Russian propaganda platform.”
Now, if RT was spreading false information, all these concerned think tankers, government agencies, and politicians might have a point. But you would be hard-pressed to turn on RT any day of the week and hear one of its anchors spreading blatant lies. You might hear a different editorial slant than you would on CNN, but in a world dominated by Western corporate media, alternative viewpoints are necessary and refreshing.
McCarthyism goes global
Meanwhile, the British Parliament is set to hear another report denouncing public figures for their alleged links to Russia and the Russian media. Neo-McCarthyism has indeed gone global. The British report, cautiously and tastefully named ‘Putin’s Useful Idiots’ was written by Andrew Foxhall of the notorious neocon think tank the Henry Jackson Society. The report challenges the credibility of politicians or public figures who appear sympathetic to Russia and proposes a crackdown on such individuals.
The British report even suggests news laws which could force politicians to declare all of their media appearances, presumably so those who appear on the likes of RT can be smeared as Kremlin agents and Putin’s puppets.
This is incredible and truly worrying. What is going on here should not be confused with anything to do with protecting democracy and the credibility of journalism. In fact, what the EU is doing is engaging in an all-out attack on journalism, much the same way they would accuse unfriendly governments of cracking down on the spread of information that did not suit the prevailing narrative. But dangerously, they are doing it under the guise of concern for democratic principles and values.
These people are suggesting it is nothing short of treasonous to hold an opinion that goes against the acceptable government-sanctioned consensus. In any other part of the world, this is the kind of mentality and action that Brussels and London criticize as a severe violation of media freedom and nothing short of state repression.
If the European project is solid as a rock, surely Brussels has nothing to worry about. But if a couple of Russian media outlets present such a grave threat to its existence, there must be some serious cracks in the foundations. Ultimately, it speaks to the fragility of the union that the EU so quickly throws its “values” out the window when the going gets tough.
Danielle Ryan is an Irish freelance writer, journalist and media analyst. She has lived and traveled extensively in the US, Germany, Russia and Hungary. Her byline has appeared at RT, The Nation, Rethinking Russia, The BRICS Post, New Eastern Outlook, Global Independent Analytics and many others. She also works on copywriting and editing projects. Follow her on Twitter or Facebook or at her website http://www.danielleryan.net.
A PIC news correspondent said the IOF rolled into the An-Najah Campus dormitory in al-Maajin neighborhood, in western Nablus, and wreaked havoc on the apartment of lecturer Issam Rashed al-Ashqar, 57, before they kidnapped him and seized his car.
Al-Ashqar, an ex-prisoner, is a lecturer at the Physics Department at An-Najah University. He had previously been sentenced to several prison-terms, mostly in administrative detention, without charge or trial. He has also been diagnosed with health disorders.
The Israeli occupation army further kidnapped the two Palestinian citizens Amjad Abu Sbeih and Yazen al-Basiti from their own family homes in Jerusalem’s Old City.
The IOF stormed Jenin’s western towns of Anin and Zabouba and cracked down on Palestinian drivers in the eastern outskirts of the city.
A PIC reporter quoted eyewitnesses as stating that the IOF kidnapped the citizen Abdul Nasser Mohamed Yassin, 42, from Anin village after they ravaged his home and subjected the family to intensive questioning.
A military checkpoint was pitched by the IOF near the main entrance to Zabouba town.
The campaign culminated in the abduction of other Palestinians from Nablus, al-Khalil, and Bethlehem’s town of Beit Fajjar.
By Jon Rappoport | Activist Post | November 20, 2016
They kept telling the American people Hillary Clinton was going to win the election; and in every way they could think of, they told the American people this was a good idea.
The results came in.
The media went into deep shock.
As protests and riots then spread across America, the media neglected to mention a) they’d been bashing Trump because he said he might not accept the outcome of the vote, and b) here were large numbers of people on the Democrat side who weren’t accepting the outcome of the vote.
A new campaign had to be launched.
Suddenly, on cue, it was: Hillary Clinton lost because “fake news” about her had been spread around during the campaign.
Fake news sites. That was the reason.
These “fake sites” had to be punished. Somehow. They had to be defamed. Blocked. Censored.
Here is an excerpt from a list of “fake news” sites suggested by one professor. The list is circulating widely on the Web: Project Veritas; Infowars; Breitbart; Coast To Coast AM; Natural News; Zero Hedge; The Daily Sheeple; Activist Post; 21st Century Wire.
Free speech? Bill of Rights? Never heard of it.
Obama put in his two cents: “Because in an age where there’s so much active misinformation and it’s packaged very well and it looks the same when you see it on a Facebook page or you turn on your television… If everything seems to be the same and no distinctions are made, then we won’t know what to protect.”
Excuse me. “We won’t know what to protect?” Meaning what to favor, what to promote, what to lie about? Meaning only some speech is free?
Obama is way, way behind the curve. Thousands of websites and blogs have been exposing major media as fake for years. I started nomorefakenews.com in 2001.
If Google, Facebook, and Twitter keep expanding their censorship of “disfavored messages,” they’re going to pay a price. More and more users will go elsewhere.
The facade of the major media is getting thinner. You can see a glow of rage and resentment behind it. They’re desperately looking for revenge on the millions and millions of people who are deserting them and laughing at them.
They presumed too much. They presumed they had us in the palm of their hand. We were their property. We were transfixed by their authority.
All that is going away. Bye, bye.
The big shift is accelerating. Independent media are in the ascendance. Understand that. Recognize it.
The impossible is happening.
Fake news sites? Please. The major media are the biggest fakes the world has ever seen. Their anchors and star reporters are bloviating cranks. They’re dinner-theater actors.
Over the years, I’ve talked to some of them. I’ve warned them of their coming troubles. They were miles away from believing me. Now, they’re starting to sweat blood.
Major media news for America is still basically manufactured in New York and Washington—plus occasional outbursts from Hollywood creatures who bemoan the decline of inclusive liberalism, as they expand their gun-toting security staffs and dig deeper bunkers. The New York-Washington axis exists in a self-serving bubble, which has now taken serious punctures. The delusional attacks against “fake sites” underlines how out of touch these elites are with the rest of the country.
Independent media outlets are winning. They won’t be stopped.
When the people who now head the tech giants were growing up, they were heralding the Internet as a new era of free information-exchange. But now that they find themselves working with the government in the Surveillance State, they’re fronting for censorship. In fact, they’re showing they were never for freedom. That was a pose all along. They were, from the beginning, agents of repression. They can try to stop independent media now, but they will fail.
Fake web sites? What about fake companies? What about Google, Facebook, Twitter? Behind their happy-happy messages, they were built to propagandize, profile, and control.
Understand this: major media have a rock-bottom article of faith. It is: “We own the news.”
They can’t give it up. They’ll never give it up. It fuels everything they do. It’s the substance and core of their attitude.
As their ship goes down below the waves, they’ll be chanting it. “We own the news.”
But they don’t. In truth, they never did. For a time, they managed to sell that delusion to the people.
That time is drawing to a close.
The elite political class and their media minions fear more than independent news countering their own news. For obvious reasons, every civilization down through history has had its own monopolistic media, its central “broadcasting system.” Its controlled outlet. But now, The One has become Many.
That is the threat.
The rapid proliferation of The Many is an unpredictable X-factor.
The population is waking up to decentralized media. Instead of the hypnotic attachment to one basic information source — the habit of a lifetime — the public is learning to handle multiple sources. Therefore, the hypnotic spell is being broken and dissolved.
This is the basic problem for the elites.
How can they reinstate the trance?
By trying to censor the Internet? By creating a sudden war or other disaster, briefly “unifying” the country? These are not permanent solutions, particularly since more and more people understand such maneuvers and their true aims.
Awake is awake. Putting the genie back in the bottle—particularly when major media denizens aren’t very bright, as evidenced by their latest “fake news” scam—is on the order of trying to perform a piece of stage magic after the audience has already learned how it’s done.
Of course, the media clowns will try. And in the process, they’ll further expose themselves and actually assist in the awakening.
Image Credit: TruthandArtTV
A controversial Israeli bill to silence the Muslim call to prayer is to go forward after it was amended so as not to affect the Jewish Shabbat siren, the speaker’s office said Wednesday.
Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, an ultra-Orthodox Jew, had blocked the draft law in its original form for fear it would also force the toning down of the sirens that announce the start of the Jewish day of rest at sundown each Friday.
But he lifted his objections after it was amended to apply only between 11 pm and 7 am.
The bill will “probably” now be put to a preliminary vote in parliament “next week,” a spokesman for speaker Yuli Edelstein told AFP.
It will then require three further parliamentary votes before it becomes law but it has already sparked outrage around the Arab and wider Muslim world.
Even Israeli government watchdogs have slammed the proposed legislation, describing it as a threat to religious freedom and an unnecessary provocation.
Arab Israeli lawmaker Ahmed Tibi has vowed to appeal to the High Court of Justice if the Shabbat siren is excluded from the scope of the bill on the grounds that it discriminates between Jews and Muslims.
The law would apply to mosques in annexed Arab east al-Quds (Jerusalem) as well as the occupied territories. But supersensitive Al-Aqsa mosque compound — Islam’s third holiest site — will be exempted.
“No changes will be made on” al-Aqsa Mosque an Israeli official told AFP.
An influential right-wing think-tank has proposed a radical clampdown on politicians and other prominent figures sympathetic to Russia by “challenging their credibility,” revealing their “insidious means of funding,” and forcing them to reveal if they receive money for appearing on RT.
The new report, published by the Henry Jackson Society comes as the EU parliament prepares to debate how to resist “disinformation and propaganda” from Russia on Tuesday.
Called ‘Putin’s Useful Idiots,’ the 17-page document was written by Andrew Foxall, the Director of the Russia Studies Centre at the conservative think tank. Foxall said that “Putin makes for a deceptive and dangerous friend” for “those on the left who can be relied upon to stand up for the West’s enemies whoever and wherever they may be, and those on the right who see Moscow as a defender of conservative values.”
Among the examples on the right, are UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who has regularly appeared on RT for a decade, and Nick Griffin, the former BNP leader, who reportedly travels to Russia regularly to participate in nationalist conferences, and has said that he is open to funding from Russia for his anti-NATO activist group.
On the left, the report mentions the Stop the War coalition, which was once chaired by current Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, and the Scottish independence movement.
Foxall, a former Oxford University lecturer, called Russia’s supporters “tools in [the Kremlin’s] programme of active measures”. The report also takes aim at RT, Sputnik and other foreign-language Russian media, branding them the result of “heavy investment” from the Kremlin, aimed at “influencing European public opinion and improving its international image,” and even working as a means of funding Kremlin sympathizers.
“Many of those on the extremes of the political spectrum, particularly the left, have appeared on RT. If they received appearance fees, then they have also taken money from the Kremlin, thereby establishing financial links between themselves, their organisations and Moscow,” stated Foxall.
While the report said there is no “silver bullet” that could solve the “problem” of pro Russian opinion-makers, it suggested a list of comprehensive measures.
“Activists, journalists and politicians should point out the pro-Russian connections of individuals and parties on the left and right of the political spectrum and challenge the credibility of these entities via political debates,” said the author.
“The personal and organisational connections of left- and right-wing parties and their Russian counterparts should be mapped across Europe,” said Hoxall, claiming that Cold War-era KGB ‘comrade networks’ have either been resurrected or forged anew, to undermine the West.
“As movements on the left and right grow in influence across Europe, the continent must wake up to their insidious means of funding,” continues the report, suggesting that “Parliament should amend current legislation or pass new legislation that forces politicians to declare all media appearances they make, whether they receive money for them or not.”
“I am shocked and appalled by this report – it is both dangerous and inflammatory. It should be condemned by anyone who believes in free speech” Marcus Papadopoulos, the editor of Politics First, a UK analytical magazine, told RT.
“In essence it says that any person who gives an interview to Russian media – including RT – is an ‘idiot’ and a traitor to Britain, and should be publicly named and shamed. It’s a witch hunt, and 21st-century McCarthyism.”
Annie Machon, a former UK intelligence officer, who has become a regular RT contributor, said she has experienced first-hand accusations of being a Kremlin “collaborationist.”
“I appear on all sorts of different channels, including the BBC, which is state-funded. Most countries have their own publicly funded organizations and media, what is the problem?” she told RT from London.
“I think there is also a knee-jerk reaction by a UK and US-funded think tank against the election of Donald Trump. The establishment in both countries is worried that he might forge a more cordial relationship with Russia.”
In its lead editorial on Sunday, The New York Times decried what it deemed “The Digital Virus Called Fake News” and called for Internet censorship to counter this alleged problem, taking particular aim at Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for letting “liars and con artists hijack his platform.”
As this mainstream campaign against “fake news” quickly has gained momentum in the past week, two false items get cited repeatedly, a claim that Pope Francis endorsed Donald Trump and an assertion that Trump was prevailing in the popular vote over Hillary Clinton. I could add another election-related falsehood, a hoax spread by Trump supporters that liberal documentarian Michael Moore was endorsing Trump when he actually was backing Clinton.
But I also know that Clinton supporters were privately pushing some salacious and unsubstantiated charges about Trump’s sex life, and Clinton personally charged that Trump was under the control of Russian President Vladimir Putin although there was no evidence presented to support that McCarthyistic accusation.
The simple reality is that lots of dubious accusations get flung around during the heat of a campaign – nothing new there – and it is always a challenge for professional journalists to swat them down the best we can. What’s different now is that the Times envisions some structure (or algorithm) for eliminating what it calls “fake news.”
But, with a stunning lack of self-awareness, the Times fails to acknowledge the many times that it has published “fake news,” such as reporting in 2002 that Iraq’s purchase of aluminum tubes meant that it was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program; its bogus analysis tracing the firing location of a Syrian sarin-laden rocket in 2013 back to a Syrian military base that turned out to be four times outside the rocket’s range; or its publication of photos supposedly showing Russian soldiers inside Russia and then inside Ukraine in 2014 when it turned out that the “inside-Russia” photo was also taken inside Ukraine, destroying the premise of the story.
These are just three examples among many of the Times publishing “fake news” – and all three appeared on Page One before being grudgingly or partially retracted, usually far inside the newspaper under opaque headlines so most readers wouldn’t notice. Much of the Times’ “fake news” continued to reverberate in support of U.S. government propaganda even after the partial retractions.
Who Is the Judge?
So, should Zuckerberg prevent Facebook users from circulating New York Times stories? Obviously, the Times would not favor that solution to the problem of “fake news.” Instead, the Times expects to be one of the arbiters deciding which Internet outlets get banned and which ones get gold seals of approval.
The Times lead editorial, following a front-page article on the same topic on Friday, leaves little doubt what the newspaper would like to see. It wants major Internet platforms and search engines, such as Facebook and Google, to close off access to sites accused of disseminating “fake news.”
The editorial said, “a big part of the responsibility for this scourge rests with internet companies like Facebook and Google, which have made it possible for fake news to be shared nearly instantly with millions of users and have been slow to block it from their sites. …
“Facebook says it is working on weeding out such fabrications. It said last Monday that it would no longer place Facebook-powered ads on fake news websites, a move that could cost Facebook and those fake news sites a lucrative source of revenue. Earlier on the same day, Google said it would stop letting those sites use its ad placement network. These steps would help, but Facebook, in particular, owes its users, and democracy itself, far more.
“Facebook has demonstrated that it can effectively block content like click-bait articles and spam from its platform by tweaking its algorithms, which determine what links, photos and ads users see in their news feeds. … Facebook managers are constantly changing and refining the algorithms, which means the system is malleable and subject to human judgment.”
The Times editorial continued: “This summer, Facebook decided to show more posts from friends and family members in users’ news feeds and reduce stories from news organizations, because that’s what it said users wanted. If it can do that, surely its programmers can train the software to spot bogus stories and outwit the people producing this garbage. …
“Mr. Zuckerberg himself has spoken at length about how social media can help improve society. … None of that will happen if he continues to let liars and con artists hijack his platform.”
But the problem is that while some falsehoods may be obvious and clear-cut, much information exists in a gray area in which two or more sides may disagree on what the facts are. And the U.S. government doesn’t always tell the truth although you would be hard-pressed to find recent examples of the Times recognizing that reality. Especially over the past several decades, the Times has usually embraced the Official Version of a disputed event and has deemed serious skepticism out of bounds.
That was the way the Times treated denials from the Iraqi government and some outside experts who disputed the “aluminum tube” story in 2002 – and how the Times has brushed off disagreements regarding the U.S. government’s portrayal of events in Syria, Ukraine and Russia. Increasingly, the Times has come across as a propaganda conduit for Official Washington rather than a professional journalistic entity.
But the Times and other mainstream news outlets – along with some favored Internet sites – now sit on a Google-financed entity called the First Draft Coalition, which presents itself as a kind of Ministry of Truth that will decide which stories are true and which are “fake.”
If the Times’ editorial recommendations are followed, the disfavored stories and the sites publishing them would no longer be accessible through popular search engines and platforms, essentially blocking the public’s access to them. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “What to Do About ‘Fake News.’”]
The Times asserts that such censorship would be good for democracy – and it surely is true that hoaxes and baseless conspiracy theories are no help to democracy – but regulation of information in the manner that the Times suggests has more than a whiff of Orwellian totalitarianism to it.
And the proposal is especially troubling coming from the Times, with its checkered recent record of disseminating dangerous disinformation.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.