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The Age of No Privacy: The Surveillance State Shifts Into High Gear

By John W. Whitehead | The Rutherford Institute | June 26, 2017

“We are rapidly entering the age of no privacy, where everyone is open to surveillance at all times; where there are no secrets from government.” ― William O. Douglas, Supreme Court Justice, dissenting in Osborn v. United States, 385 U.S. 341 (1966)

The government has become an expert in finding ways to sidestep what it considers “inconvenient laws” aimed at ensuring accountability and thereby bringing about government transparency and protecting citizen privacy.

Indeed, it has mastered the art of stealth maneuvers and end-runs around the Constitution.

It knows all too well how to hide its nefarious, covert, clandestine activities behind the classified language of national security and terrorism. And when that doesn’t suffice, it obfuscates, complicates, stymies or just plain bamboozles the public into remaining in the dark.

Case in point: the National Security Agency (NSA) has been diverting “internet traffic, normally safeguarded by constitutional protections, overseas in order to conduct unrestrained data collection on Americans.”

It’s extraordinary rendition all over again, only this time it’s surveillance instead of torture being outsourced.

In much the same way that the government moved its torture programs overseas in order to bypass legal prohibitions against doing so on American soil, it is doing the same thing for its surveillance programs.

By shifting its data storage, collection and surveillance activities outside of the country—a tactic referred to as “traffic shaping” —the government is able to bypass constitutional protections against unwarranted searches of Americans’ emails, documents, social networking data, and other cloud-stored data.

The government, however, doesn’t even need to move its programs overseas. It just has to push the data over the border in order to “[circumvent] constitutional and statutory safeguards seeking to protect the privacy of Americans.”

Credit for this particular brainchild goes to the Obama administration, which issued Executive Order 12333 authorizing the collection of Americans’ data from surveillance conducted on foreign soil.

Using this rationale, the government has justified hacking into and collecting an estimated 180 million user records from Google and Yahoo data centers every month because the data travels over international fiber-optic cables. The NSA program, dubbed MUSCULAR, is carried out in concert with British intelligence.

No wonder the NSA appeared so unfazed about the USA Freedom Act, which was supposed to put an end to the NSA’s controversial collection of metadata from Americans’ phone calls.

The NSA had already figured out a way to accomplish the same results (illegally spying on Americans’ communications) without being shackled by the legislative or judicial branches of the government.

The USA Freedom Act was just a placebo pill intended to make the citizenry feel better and let the politicians take credit for reforming mass surveillance. In other words, it was a sham, a sleight-of-hand political gag pulled on a gullible public desperate to believe that we still live in a constitutional republic rather than a down-and-out, out-of-control, corporate-controlled, economically impoverished, corrupt, warring, militarized banana republic.

In fact, more than a year before politicians attempted to patch up our mortally wounded privacy rights with the legislative band-aid fix that is the USA Freedom Act, researchers at Harvard and Boston University documented secret loopholes that allow government agents to bypass Fourth Amendment protections to conduct massive domestic surveillance on U.S. citizens.

Mind you, this metadata collection now being carried out overseas is just a small piece of the surveillance pie.

The government and its corporate partners have a veritable arsenal of surveillance programs that will continue to operate largely in secret, carrying out warrantless mass surveillance on hundreds of millions of Americans’ phone calls, emails, text messages and the like, beyond the scrutiny of most of Congress and the taxpayers who are forced to fund its multi-billion dollar secret black ops budget.

In other words, the surveillance state is alive and well and kicking privacy to shreds in America.

On any given day, the average American going about his daily business is monitored, surveilled, spied on and tracked in more than 20 different ways by both government and corporate eyes and ears.

Whether you’re walking through a store, driving your car, checking email, or talking to friends and family on the phone, you can be sure that some government agency, whether the NSA or some other entity, is listening in and tracking your behavior. This doesn’t even begin to touch on the corporate trackers that monitor your purchases, web browsing, Facebook posts and other activities taking place in the cyber sphere.

We have now moved into a full-blown police state that is rapidly shifting into high-gear under the auspices of the surveillance state.

Not content to merely transform local police into extensions of the military, the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department and the FBI are working to turn the nation’s police officers into techno-warriors, complete with iris scanners, body scanners, thermal imaging Doppler radar devices, facial recognition programs, license plate readers, cell phone Stingray devices and so much more.

Add in the fusion centers, city-wide surveillance networks, data clouds conveniently hosted overseas by Amazon and Microsoft, drones equipped with thermal imaging cameras, and biometric databases, and you’ve got the makings of a world in which “privacy” is reserved exclusively for government agencies.

Thus, the NSA’s “technotyranny”  is the least of our worries.

A government that lies, cheats, steals, sidesteps the law, and then absolves itself of wrongdoing cannot be reformed from the inside out.

Presidents, politicians, and court rulings have come and gone over the course of the NSA’s 60-year history, but none of them have managed to shut down the government’s secret surveillance of Americans’ phone calls, emails, text messages, transactions, communications and activities.

Even with restrictions on its ability to collect mass quantities of telephone metadata, the government and its various spy agencies, from the NSA to the FBI, can still employ an endless number of methods for carrying out warrantless surveillance on Americans, all of which are far more invasive than the bulk collection program.

Just about every branch of the government—from the Postal Service to the Treasury Department and every agency in between—now has its own surveillance sector, authorized to spy on the American people.

And of course that doesn’t even begin to touch on the complicity of the corporate sector, which buys and sells us from cradle to grave, until we have no more data left to mine. Indeed, Facebook, Amazon and Google are among the government’s closest competitors when it comes to carrying out surveillance on Americans, monitoring the content of your emails, tracking your purchases, exploiting your social media posts and turning that information over to the government.

“Few consumers understand what data are being shared, with whom, or how the information is being used,” reports the Los Angeles Times. “Most Americans emit a stream of personal digital exhaust — what they search for, what they buy, who they communicate with, where they are — that is captured and exploited in a largely unregulated fashion.”

It’s not just what we say, where we go and what we buy that is being tracked.

We’re being surveilled right down to our genes, thanks to a potent combination of hardware, software and data collection that scans our biometrics—our faces, irises, voices, genetics, even our gait—runs them through computer programs that can break the data down into unique “identifiers,” and then offers them up to the government and its corporate allies for their respective uses.

All of those internet-connected gadgets we just have to have (Forbes refers to them as “(data) pipelines to our intimate bodily processes”)—the smart watches that can monitor our blood pressure and the smart phones that let us pay for purchases with our fingerprints and iris scans—are setting us up for a brave new world where there is nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.

For instance, imagine what the NSA could do (and is likely already doing) with voiceprint technology, which has been likened to a fingerprint. Described as “the next frontline in the battle against overweening public surveillance,” the collection of voiceprints is a booming industry for governments and businesses alike.

As The Guardian reports, “voice biometrics could be used to pinpoint the location of individuals. There is already discussion about placing voice sensors in public spaces… multiple sensors could be triangulated to identify individuals and specify their location within very small areas.”

Suddenly the NSA’s telephone metadata program seems like child’s play compared to what’s coming down the pike.

That, of course, is the point.

The NSA is merely one small part of the shadowy Deep State comprised of unelected bureaucrats who march in lockstep with profit-driven corporations that actually runs Washington, DC, and works to keep us under surveillance and, thus, under control.

For example, Google openly works with the NSA, Amazon has built a massive $600 million intelligence database for CIA, and the telecommunications industry is making a fat profit by spying on us for the government.

In other words, Corporate America is making a hefty profit by aiding and abetting the government in its domestic surveillance efforts.

At every turn, we have been handicapped in our quest for transparency, accountability and a representative government by an establishment culture of secrecy: secret agencies, secret experiments, secret military bases, secret surveillance, secret budgets, and secret court rulings, all of which exist beyond our reach, operate outside our knowledge, and do not answer to “we the people.”

Incredibly, there are still individuals who insist that they have nothing to fear from the police state and nothing to hide from the surveillance state, because they have done nothing wrong.

To those sanctimonious few, secure in their delusions, let this be a warning.

There is no safe place and no watertight alibi.

The danger posed by the American police/surveillance state applies equally to all of us: lawbreaker and law-abider alike, black and white, rich and poor, liberal and conservative, blue collar and white collar, and any other distinction you’d care to trot out.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, in an age of too many laws, too many prisons, too many government spies, and too many corporations eager to make a fast buck at the expense of the American taxpayer, we are all guilty of some transgression or other.

Eventually, we will all be made to suffer the same consequences in the electronic concentration camp that surrounds us.

June 26, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ukrainian regime arrests owner of Russian language news outlet

By Adam Garrie | The Duran | June 23, 2017

The Ukrainian regimes notorious Secret Service, the SBU has arrested the owner of a Russian language news outlet Strana.ua.

Igor Guzhva was arrested while his offices were raided. Authorities loyal to the Poroshenko regime have stated that the charges related to allegations of blackmail, although many see this is yet another attempt to forcibly shut-down domestically owned Russian language news media after a law was passed banning Russian owned media in the country.

The regime authorities are also cracking down on the large domestically owned and produced Russian language media and entertainment sectors.

Strana.ua was harassed by the SBU throughout 2014 and 2015.

This looks increasingly like another politically motivated arrest by a regime engaged in crimes against humanity in Donbass.

June 23, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Deception | , | Leave a comment

What Phillip Williamson Forgot To Tell You

By Paul Homewood | Not A Lot Of People Know That | June 17, 2017

The Spectator has published an article by Dr Phillip Williamson, who works at the University of East Anglia as a science coordinator for the Natural Environment Research Council.

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Readers of The Spectator will be familiar with the argument that climate change, like Britpop, ended in 1998. Raised on a diet of Matt Ridley and James Delingpole, you may have convinced yourself that climate scientists, for their own selfish reasons, continue to peddle a theory that is unsupported by real-world evidence.

You may also have picked up the idea that the ‘green blob’, as it has been called in these pages, is somehow suppressing the news that global warming is a dead parrot. That was the case made by Dr David Whitehouse, science editor of Lord Lawson’s Global Warming Policy Forum in a Spectator blog in February last year. He accused the world’s media of ignoring a paper in Nature Climate Change which concluded that the rise in global surface temperature had stalled, contrary to the narrative of man-made climate change. In contrast, an earlier paper by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Science magazine, which questioned the existence of that hiatus, had been given huge coverage.

Those of us who work in climate research do not, of course, ignore evidence. A study published in Nature Climate Change does not go unnoticed. But the particular paper to which Whitehouse referred does not counter the reality of man-made change. By the time he wrote his piece, the hiatus in global air temperatures had already come to a blistering halt. The years 2014, 2015 and 2016 were the three hottest years on record — an unprecedented run.

But this is only part of the story. Anyone who considers climate change to be all about air temperatures at the Earth’s land surface misses something rather important. The evidence is not just blowing in the wind; it is 500 fathoms deep.

As a land species, it’s hardly surprising that we’re more concerned about what’s going on in the atmosphere than with conditions under the sea — but in the context of global warming that’s a big mistake. Around 93 per cent of the extra heat gained by the Earth over the past 50 years has sunk into the ocean, while 3 per cent has made ice melt, and 3 per cent has warmed the land. Only around 1 per cent has stayed in the atmosphere. So if we just measure air temperatures, we’re looking in the wrong place for climate change. Recent analyses by the World Meteorological Organisation and independent researchers have looked at deep-ocean as well as sea-surface temperatures, and both groups found that significant increases in total ocean heat content began around 1980, continuing more rapidly after 1998.

Not all the heat which is absorbed by the ocean stays there. Changes in circulation in the Pacific involve warm water shifting towards South America, raising air temperatures as it does so. Such El Niño events have contributed to the sharp rise in global air temperatures over the past three years.

The apparent slowdown in global temperature rise in the early years of this century was nothing more than the Earth’s climate system expressing its natural variability. Like the weather in London, the Earth’s climate is fickle: what we see in the climate from year to year is much like what we see in the weather from day to day, or week to week. The years between 1998 and 2013 were the equivalent of a spell of cool weather following a heatwave. Yet all the while, taking air and ocean heat content combined, the Earth was warming. Now that the most recent El Niño event has ended, global air temperatures ought to be falling, but they aren’t. The world saw its third hottest January ever, followed by the second hottest February, March and April. The atmosphere and the ocean are warming in tandem, as predicted by climate models.

It is not easy to measure how much extra heat has entered the ocean as a result of human influences on the climate. Given that seawater is around 1,000 times as dense as air, small increases in water temperature represent a huge amount of heat being absorbed. It’s tough to demonstrate a whole-ocean average temperature increase of less than 0.1°C in about 1.4 billion cubic km of seawater. Tough, but not impossible — steadily, scientists have managed to complete the picture. Four years ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that such ocean warming was ‘virtually certain’. Following new findings of recent weeks and months, the qualifier ‘virtually’ is now unnecessary, putting to bed any contention that global warming ended in 1998 — it is just that for a while the main effect was on water, not air, temperatures.

What happens in the ocean matters, because rising sea temperatures reinforce climate change in several ways. Warmer sea water can release methane trapped on the sea floor. Some of it finds its way to the surface and into the atmosphere, where it acts as a greenhouse gas, trapping heat — at least 30 times more effectively than carbon dioxide. Warmer water also means less sea ice. That matters, because ice reflects the sun’s rays. With less sea ice, the ocean will absorb even more heat. As the ocean warms, it expands, lifting coastal ice-shelves and making it easier for glaciers to slip into the sea. New analyses now suggest that sea levels could rise by up to a metre, and maybe more, in our children’s lifetimes.

Genuine scepticism can be constructive, since science responds to challenges by obtaining new evidence to test ideas. But those who summarily dismiss evidence when it has become overwhelming no longer deserve the name sceptics — it’s then out-and-out denial. There is no hoax; scientists like me gain nothing from exaggeration.

Yet the worst-case scenarios are not inevitable. They can be averted by action to reduce, and eventually end, greenhouse gas emissions. While Donald Trump and others might dismiss inconvenient truths, science is now in no doubt that the planet is warming, and that there is a need to take action on a worldwide basis. The Paris agreement will be the future, whereas the so-called global-warming hiatus is already history.

https://www.spectator.co.uk/2017/06/the-great-myth-of-the-global-warming-pause/

What could have been a constructive essay has depressingly ended up as a cheap propaganda piece.

He grossly misrepresents the position of David Whitehouse and Matt Ridley, to all intents dismissing them as “deniers”. Neither denies the greenhouse effect, but they believe there is a proper debate to be had about climate sensitivity and effects.

But to Williamson, there is only one gospel, and others shall not be heard.

He claims, by the time he [Whitehouse] wrote his piece, the hiatus in global air temperatures had already come to a blistering halt. The years 2014, 2015 and 2016 were the three hottest years on record — an unprecedented run.

This may be true for the widely discredited surface temperature record, but not according to satellite data for the atmosphere, which shows last year as only in a statistical tie with 1998.

It is, of course, Williamson’s prerogative to refer to surface data, but he needs to explain why he chooses to ignore the satellite data. To make no reference at all to data, which would undermine his argument, is not the behaviour one associates with a proper scientist.

He goes on to say, now that the most recent El Niño event has ended, global air temperatures ought to be falling, but they aren’t.

This is totally untrue, global temperatures have fallen back by half a degree and more since the El Nino peaked last year, and are back to levels seen in the years after 2001.

[Click on here for clearer image]

The heart of the Williamson article however concerns oceans and how they are somehow hiding the missing heat.

However, things are not quite as black and white as he makes out.

We only have ARGO data since 2004, which is far too short a period to be drawing conclusions from. Prior to that, we had very little idea what was happening to ocean heat content.

It is certainly debatable just how much we know now.

He states, it’s tough to demonstrate a whole-ocean average temperature increase of less than 0.1°C in about 1.4 billion cubic km of seawater. Tough, but not impossible — steadily, scientists have managed to complete the picture.

In fact, the temperature increase detected is much less than 0.1C, approximately 0.02C since 2004.

It is certainly questionable whether any statistical significance can be attached to such a small amount at all, or whether such a figure is genuinely detectable.

http://climate4you.com/

Then there is the question of just what is causing this increase in ocean temperatures, if it really exists.

He claims that around 93 per cent of the extra heat gained by the Earth over the past 50 years has sunk into the ocean. Unfortunately this is just mumbo jumbo. It is a physical fact that long wave radiation can only penetrate the top few millimeters of the ocean, where any warming would quickly lead to evaporation.

Even if there was a way for this extra heat to be mixed up with the deep ocean, the difference would be too small to detect.

This raises the question of whether other factors are at play in raising ocean temperatures, with the obvious one being the sun. After all, climate scientists have long known that ocean cycles can have major effects on the climate. Not only are they very powerful, but also very long lasting. The idea that man has caused sudden changes in the deep ocean is frankly scientific gibberish.

Williamson’s logic is that the pause in air temperatures, which he seems to accept existed until the 2015/16 El Nino, was because the world’s climate was going through a period of natural cooling, with the oceans holding back the heat (think La Nina).

But this ignores the AMO, which has been running through the warm phase since the mid 1990s. As even NOAA accept, when this happens, global air temperatures rise.

Meanwhile, the PDO has not really got into negative phase yet, partly because of the recent record El Nino.

Neither of these facts are consistent with his argument. Air temperatures have in fact plateaued despite the AMO and PDO.

But perhaps most importantly of all is the longer term trend. Williamson gives us a clue, when he says, “as the ocean warms, it expands”. In other words, sea levels rise.

But we know from tidal gauges all around the world that sea levels have been rising since the late 19thC, and for most of that time at a similar rate as now, and long before man made CO2 had any significant influence.

There is therefore no evidence that what we are seeing now is not just a continuation of that natural trend.

We in fact know very little about these ocean processes, and it is certainly a subject which deserves much greater attention.

Now that would be a good topic for the Spectator, but don’t expect Mr Williamson to be writing it!

FOOTNOTE

It was Phillip Williamson in his role as science coordinator (whatever that means!) who made a formal complaint about one of James Delingpole’s articles about ocean acidification to the UK press regulatory body IPSO last year.

Dellers has his usual forthright account of how IPSO threw out the complaint!

Sounds as if one of Williamson’s jobs is to shut down free speech.

June 19, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | | 2 Comments

Theresa May’s war on the internet

By Dan Glazebrook | RT | June 17, 2017

Last night, Theresa May was in France for a joint press conference with new French President Emmanuel Macron. As far as I could tell, it was only Al Jazeera that broadcast it live in Britain.

The only time it was mentioned during BBC radio 4’s flagship news show, the Today program, was during the five-minute religious slot Thought for the Day. It was not covered in the news section at all.

But this should be major, major news. This was Theresa May’s first policy announcement since last week’s election. And it wasn’t on Brexit, the reason she supposedly called the election. It wasn’t on austerity, which she apparently told her own MPs was over in a private session two days ago. No, her first major public policy announcement was – the end of internet freedom.

Specifically, what was announced was that both countries would be introducing heavy fines for internet companies that failed to remove what they, very loosely, defined as “extremist content.”

Now, taken at face value, this might seem to be referring to ISIS [Islamic State, formerly ISIL] recruitment videos or online suicide bombing training videos, or whatever. But the direct encouragement of violence is already illegal. So, what exactly is being proposed? Who exactly will be targeted?

It was former PM David Cameron who originally came up with the idea that “nonviolent extremism” should be criminalized alongside violent extremism. Intriguingly, as an example of what he meant, he included the idea that the “West is bad,” as well as elsewhere arguing that the promotion of “wild conspiracy theories” would also qualify.

Well, the collusion between, for example, British intelligence and Al-Qaeda might sound like a wild conspiracy theory. But, in the context of Britain and Al-Qaeda’s shared enemies in the form of Gaddafi and Assad, this collusion actually did take place. MI5 was facilitating the passage of fighters between Britain, Syria, and Libya, the SAS were training them, and MI6 was equipping them. Indeed, this collusion is not even secret: as late as 2016 the British government openly pledged to send more British troops to Syria to train rebel groups that even the BBC admitted were likely to be allied with Al-Qaeda.

So, is the publication of this information going to be barred now as extremist? Will YouTube and Facebook and Google and Twitter pull these revelations in fear of getting fined for promoting the “wild conspiracy theories” that, according to Cameron, qualify as extremism?

It is clear why the British state is so keen to clampdown on the internet once this kind of information starts going viral. But the election just gone has raised the stakes even further, demonstrating that, if the government does not reassert its authority over the internet, it may well have lost control of the political narrative for good. Let’s review what’s just happened:

A month ago, almost everybody was predicting a wipeout for the Labour party, a repeat of the disastrous 1983 election in which Margaret Thatcher really did win the landslide Theresa May had been predicting. Oh, how times have changed.

Back in 1983, pretty much everyone got their political information from either the newspapers or the BBC. In other words, between them, the big press barons – about 4 or 5 of them – and the British state had total monopoly control of political information.

This meant that when they portrayed Labour leader Michael Foot as a bumbling Oaf, that became the abiding image of him. A tiny handful of millionaire Tories effectively had total control over the public image of every politician in the land.

This time around, it’s a different story. The newspapers and the TV threw everything they could at Corbyn – ‘he’s a terror-supporting, magic money tree-mongering, Brexit-frustrating Remainiac’ – but people weren’t buying. And why weren’t they buying? Because they’re not reading the newspapers, and they’re not watching terrestrial TV. This time around, people, young people in particular, were increasingly getting their political information from social media – and on social media, the conservatives did not control the narrative.

For example, an RT interview I did about British collusion with terrorism shortly before the election got over one and half million views on Facebook – higher than the daily readership of the Daily Mail. Jonathan Pie’s fantastic piece tearing apart the Tory’s ‘strong and stable’ nonsense, got 11 million views. That is two and half million more than the combined circulation of the Daily Mail, Daily Express, Guardian, Sun, Daily Star, Times, Telegraph, Evening Standard, and the Mirror and Metro – the country’s ten leading newspapers.  And hilariously, when I had just watched one of Theresa May’s speeches on YouTube during the campaign, immediately afterwards, YouTube automatically played Liar Liar, the anti-May anthem that reached number four in the UK pop charts last week. And I suspect YouTube auto played that video after anyone watched anything about Theresa May due to the algorithms that they employ.

So, you can see why the Tories are furious about the internet. They, and the British state more generally, have totally lost control of the narrative. And that’s what cost them this election.

So that’s what this new crackdown on the internet is really about; it’s about regaining control of that narrative. It’s about turning the CEOs of YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Google into the Rupert Murdochs of the 21st century – the political allies and mouthpieces of the British state and the capitalist class, and doing this by forging a new relationship that explicitly punishes them if they refuse to play ball.

Even the government’s own ‘reviewer of terrorism laws’, Max Hill, has come out against the move, explaining that “my view is that… we do have the appropriate laws in place, and that essentially the police and security services, and those whose job it is to keep us safe, do have the powers at their disposal.”

He noted that, in his experience, the police unit responsible for identifying online extremist material receive full co-operation from the tech companies already.

Similarly, The Open Rights Group has warned that “to push on with these extreme proposals for internet clampdowns would appear to be a distraction from the current political situation and from effective measures against terror.”

“The government already has extensive surveillance powers. Conservative proposals for automated censorship of the internet would see decisions about what British citizens can see online being placed in the hands of computer algorithms, with judgments ultimately made by private companies rather than courts. Home Office plans to force companies to weaken the security of their communications products could put all of us at a greater risk of crime.”

Those who are worried about extremism should be calling for an end to the British intelligence services’ collaboration and facilitation of terrorism and the extradition of those who have carried out or facilitated attacks abroad, as well as an international investigation and prosecutions of all those involved.

Theresa May’s new proposals do nothing to end the impunity of her own government in the grooming and facilitation of terrorism. Rather, they serve to extend this impunity. They must be resisted.


Dan Glazebrook is a freelance political writer who has written for RT, Counterpunch, Z magazine, the Morning Star, the Guardian, the New Statesman, the Independent and Middle East Eye, amongst others. His first book “Divide and Ruin: The West’s Imperial Strategy in an Age of Crisis” was published by Liberation Media in October 2013. It featured a collection of articles written from 2009 onwards examining the links between economic collapse, the rise of the BRICS, war on Libya and Syria and ‘austerity’. He is currently researching a book on US-British use of sectarian death squads against independent states and movements from Northern Ireland and Central America in the 1970s and 80s to the Middle East and Africa today.

June 17, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

Lynching Free Speech: The Intolerant State of America

By John W. Whitehead | Rutherford Institute | June 13, 2017

“What are the defenders of free speech to do? The sad fact is that this fundamental freedom is on its heels across America. Politicians of both parties want to use the power of government to silence their foes. Some in the university community seek to drive it from their campuses. And an entire generation of Americans is being taught that free speech should be curtailed as soon as it makes someone else feel uncomfortable. On the current trajectory, our nation’s dynamic marketplace of ideas will soon be replaced by either disengaged intellectual silos or even a stagnant ideological conformity. Few things would be so disastrous for our nation and the well-being of our citizenry.”—William Ruger, “Free Speech Is Central to Our Dignity as Humans

My hometown of Charlottesville, Va., has become the latest poster child in a heated war of words—and actions—over racism, “sanitizing history,” extremism (both right and left), political correctness, hate speech, partisan politics, and a growing fear that violent words will end in violent actions.

In Charlottesville, as in so many parts of the country right now, the conflict is over how to reconcile the nation’s checkered past, particularly as it relates to slavery, with the present need to sanitize the environment of anything—words and images—that might cause offense, especially if it’s a Confederate flag or monument.

In Charlottesville, that fear of offense prompted the City Council to get rid of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee that has graced one of its public parks for 82 years. In doing so, they have attracted the unwanted attention of the Ku Klux Klan.

Yale University actually went so far as to change the name of one of its residential colleges, which was named after John C. Calhoun, the nation’s seventh vice president, a secretary of state, secretary of war, senator and Yale alum who supported slavery.

New Orleans ran up a $2 million tab in its efforts to remove its four Confederate monuments, with the majority of the funds being used for security to police the ensuing protests and demonstrations.

With more than 1,000 Confederate monuments in 31 states (in public parks, courthouse squares and state capitols), not to mention Confederate battle flags on display in military cemeteries, and countless more buildings and parks named after historic figures who were slaveholders, this isn’t an issue that is going away anytime soon, no matter how much we ignore it, shout over it, criminalize it, legislate it, adjudicate or police it.

The temperature is rising all across the nation, and not just over this Confederate issue.

The “winter of our discontent” has given way to an overheated, sweltering summer in which shouting matches are skating dangerously close to becoming physical altercations.

As journalist Dahlia Lithwick writes for Slate, “These days, people who used to feel free to shout and threaten are emboldened to punch, body-slam, and stab. It is a short hop, we are learning, from ‘words can never hurt us’ to actual sticks and stones and the attendant breaking of bones. That is what has become of free speech in this country.”

Here’s the thing: if Americans don’t learn how to get along—at the very least, agreeing to disagree and respecting each other’s right to subscribe to beliefs and opinions that may be offensive, hateful, intolerant or merely different—then we’re going to soon find that we have no rights whatsoever (to speak, assemble, agree, disagree, protest, opt in, opt out, or forge our own paths as individuals).

The government will lock down the nation at the slightest provocation.

It is ready, willing and able to impose martial law within 24 hours.

Indeed, the government has been anticipating and preparing for civil unrest for years now, as evidenced by the build-up of guns and tanks and militarized police and military training drills and threat assessments and extremism reports and surveillance systems and private prisons.

Connect the dots, people.

The government doesn’t care about who you voted for in the presidential election or whether you think the Civil War was fought over states’ rights versus slavery. It doesn’t care about your race or gender or religion or sexual orientation.

When the police state cracks down, it will not discriminate.

We’ll all be muzzled together.

We’ll all be jailed together.

We’ll all be viewed as a collective enemy to be catalogued, conquered and caged.

Thus, the last thing we need to do is play into the government’s hands by turning on one another, turning in one another, and giving the government’s standing army an excuse to take over.

The police state could not ask for a better citizenry than one that carries out its own censorship, spying and policing.

This is how you turn a nation of free people into extensions of the omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent police state, and in the process turn a citizenry against each other. It’s a brilliant ploy, with the added bonus that while the citizenry remains focused on and distrustful of each other, they’re incapable of presenting a united front against the threats posed by the government and its cabal of Constitution-destroying agencies and corporate partners.

Unfortunately, we have already become a nation of snowflakes, snitches and book burners: a legalistic, intolerant, elitist, squealing bystander nation eager to report fellow citizens to the police for the slightest offense.

Mind you, once the police are called in, with their ramped-up protocols, battlefield mindset, militarized weapons, uniforms and equipment, and war zone tactics, it’s a process that is near impossible to turn back and one that too often ends in tragedy for all those involved.

So how do we stop this train from barreling down the tracks past the police state and straight into martial law?

Let’s start with a little more patience, a lot more tolerance and a civics lesson on the First Amendment.

As my good friend Nat Hentoff, that inveterate champion of the First Amendment, once observed, “The quintessential difference between a free nation, as we profess to be, and a totalitarian state, is that here everyone, including a foe of democracy, has the right to speak his mind.”

What this means is opening the door to more speech not less, even if that speech is offensive to some.

Understanding that freedom for those in the unpopular minority constitutes the ultimate tolerance in a free society, James Madison, the author of the Bill of Rights, fought for a First Amendment that protected the “minority” against the majority, ensuring that even in the face of overwhelming pressure, a minority of one—even one who espouses distasteful viewpoints—would still have the right to speak freely, pray freely, assemble freely, challenge the government freely, and broadcast his views in the press freely.

We haven’t done ourselves—or the nation—any favors by becoming so fearfully polite, careful to avoid offense, and largely unwilling to be labeled intolerant, hateful or closed-minded that we’ve eliminated words, phrases and symbols from public discourse.

The result is a nation where no one really says what they really think anymore, at least if it runs counter to the prevailing views. Intolerance is the new scarlet letter of our day, a badge to be worn in shame and humiliation, deserving of society’s fear, loathing and utter banishment from society.

For those who dare to voice an opinion that runs counter to the accepted norms, retribution is swift: they are shamed, shouted down, silenced, censored, fired, cast out and generally relegated to the dust heap of ignorant, mean-spirited bullies who are guilty of various “word crimes.”

We have entered a new age where, as commentator Mark Steyn notes, “we have to tiptoe around on ever thinner eggshells” and “the forces of ‘tolerance’ are intolerant of anything less than full-blown celebratory approval.”

In such a climate of intolerance, there can be no freedom speech, expression or thought.

We have become a nation of snowflakes.

We have allowed our fears—fear for our safety, fear of each other, fear of being labeled racist or hateful or prejudiced, etc.—to trump our freedom of speech and muzzle us far more effectively than any government edict could. Ultimately the war on free speech—and that’s exactly what it is: a war being waged by Americans against other Americans—is a war that is driven by fear.

By bottling up dissent, we have created a pressure cooker of stifled misery and discontent that is now bubbling over and fomenting even more hate, distrust and paranoia among portions of the populace.

The First Amendment is a steam valve. It allows people to speak their minds, air their grievances and contribute to a larger dialogue that hopefully results in a more just world.

When there is no steam valve to release the pressure, frustration builds, anger grows and people become more volatile and desperate to force a conversation.

The problem as I see it is that we’ve allowed ourselves to be persuaded that we need someone else to think and speak for us. The result is a society in which we’ve stopped debating among ourselves, stopped thinking for ourselves, and stopped believing that we can fix our own problems and resolve our own differences.

Not only has free speech become a “politically incorrect” four-letter word—profane, obscene, uncouth, not to be uttered in so-called public places—but in more and more cases, the government deems free speech to be downright dangerous and in some instances illegal.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the U.S. government has become particularly intolerant of speech that challenges the government’s power, reveals the government’s corruption, exposes the government’s lies, and encourages the citizenry to push back against the government’s many injustices. Indeed, there is a long and growing list of the kinds of speech that the government considers dangerous enough to red flag and subject to censorship, surveillance, investigation and prosecution: hate speech, bullying speech, intolerant speech, conspiratorial speech, treasonous speech, threatening speech, incendiary speech, inflammatory speech, radical speech, anti-government speech, right-wing speech, extremist speech, etc.

The powers-that-be understand that if the government can control speech, it controls thought and, in turn, it can control the minds of the citizenry. In fact, some of this past century’s greatest dystopian authors warned of this very danger.

In Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, reading is banned and books are burned in order to suppress dissenting ideas, while televised entertainment is used to anesthetize the populace and render them easily pacified, distracted and controlled.

In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, serious literature, scientific thinking and experimentation are banned as subversive, while critical thinking is discouraged through the use of conditioning, social taboos and inferior education. Likewise, expressions of individuality, independence and morality are viewed as vulgar and abnormal.

In George Orwell’s 1984, Big Brother does away with all undesirable and unnecessary words and meanings, even going so far as to routinely rewrite history and punish “thoughtcrimes.”

And in almost every episode of Twilight Zone, Rod Serling urged viewers to unlock their minds and free themselves of prejudice, hate, violence and fear. “We’re developing a new citizenry,” Serling declared. “One that will be very selective about cereals and automobiles, but won’t be able to think.”

It’s time to start thinking for ourselves again.

It’s time to start talking to each other. It’s time to start listening more and shouting less.

Most of all, it’s time to start acting like people who will choose dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.

As Dahlia Lithwick concluded for Slate:

To guarantee an escape from conflict, from violence, requires censorship. To have free speech in this moment, when the stakes are so high, is to live with fear. This is not an easy thing to confront—or to accept… Conversation might still be our best chance of getting out of this mess. Free speech is just free speech. It takes actual humans making the effort to talk to each other to transform speech into something more vital and more valuable. Conversations don’t always work. They may sometimes go wrong—horribly, terribly wrong… The First Amendment will never be able to protect us from horrible words and horrific acts. It does guarantee that we’ll keep talking.

June 13, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Israel mulls closing Al Jazeera bureau in Jerusalem al-Quds: Report

Press TV – June 13, 2017

A report says Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering shutting down the Jerusalem al-Quds bureau of the Qatar-based Al Jazeera broadcaster, as a diplomatic rift escalates between a Saudi-led bloc of countries with Qatar.

Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Tuesday that Netanyahu had met with members of the foreign ministry, ministry of military affairs, and other institutions on Monday and discussed preliminary steps for closing the Al Jazeera office in Jerusalem al-Quds.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt have already blocked several Qatari media outlets, including Al Jazeera. The four countries cut their diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing Doha of destabilizing the region with its support for terrorism, an accusation rejected by the Qatari government.

In a relevant development on Monday, Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s minister for military affairs, compared Al Jazeera to the Nazi- and Soviet-era propaganda apparatuses.

“Some [Arab countries’] interests overlap with Israeli interests, including the issue with Al Jazeera,” Liberman said. “Al-Jazeera is not media… It’s an incitement machine. It is pure propaganda, of the worst variety, in the style of Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia.”

Lieberman also accused Al Jazeera of supporting Iran, saying, “I’ve been tracking Al Jazeera for many years. You’ll never see a single article against Iran.”

The potential move to close the Al Jazeera office in Jerusalem al-Quds and the unprecedented remarks by Lieberman are indicative of how the Israeli and Saudi regimes may be increasingly tilting toward one another. There have already been signs that the ties between Israel and certain Arab regimes — traditionally putative adversaries — have been covertly expanding in recent years.

Netanyahu has on several occasions talked of the development of ties between Israel and certain Arab countries. So have other Israeli officials. Moshe Ya’alon, Israel’s former minister of military affairs, in February 2016 pointed to open channels between the regime and some Arab states.

Back in January 2016, Netanyahu said during an interview with CNN that Saudi Arabia now saw Tel Aviv “as an ally rather as an enemy.”

June 13, 2017 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 1 Comment

How the Establishment Imposes ‘Truth’

By Gilbert Doctorow | Consortium News | June 12, 2107

For the last quarter century or more, Western foreign policy has claimed to be guided by promotion of “democratic values,” among which none shines brighter than freedom of speech and the related freedom of the press. European Union institutions have repeatedly been quick to denounce authoritarian regimes in the greater European area for arrests or murders of journalists and for the shutting down of media outlets that crossed some government red line.

In the past year, Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey may have headed the list in Brussels for such offenses, especially since the crackdown that followed an attempted coup last summer. The E.U.’s supposed guardians of the free press also put Vladimir Putin’s Russia on the short list of countries where journalism is said to be severely constrained.

However, against this backdrop of European moral posturing, there are troubling examples of how the E.U. itself deals with journalists who challenge the dominant groupthinks. The E.U. finds its own excuses to stifle dissent albeit through bloodless bureaucratic maneuvering.

For instance, in April 2016, I wrote about how a documentary challenging the Western narrative of the circumstances surrounding the death of Kremlin critic Sergei Magnitsky in 2009 was blocked from being shown at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium.

The last-minute shutting down of the documentary, “The Magnitsky Act: Behind the Scenes,” was engineered by lawyers for William Browder, the influential chairman of the investment fund Hermitage Capital and an associate of Magnitsky.

Based in London, Browder has been an unrelenting crusader for imposing sanctions on Russian officials allegedly connected to Magnitsky’s death in prison. Browder successfully pushed for the U.S. Congress to approve the 2012 Magnitsky Act and has lobbied the European Parliament to pass a similarly punitive measure.

Then, in April 2016, Browder pulled off a stunning show of force by arranging the cancellation of “The Magnitsky Act” documentary just minutes before invitees entered the auditorium at the European Parliament building for the showing.

Browder blocked the documentary, directed by Andrei Nekrasov, because it carefully examined the facts of the case and raised doubts about Browder’s narrative that Magnitsky was an innocent victim of Russian repression. The E.U.’s powers-that-be, who had fully bought into Browder’s Magnitsky storyline, did nothing to resist Browder’s stifling of a dissenting view.

Which appears to be part of the West’s new approach toward information, that only establishment-approved narratives can be presented to the public; that contrarian analyses that try to tell the other side of a story are dismissed as “fake news” that should rightly be suppressed. (When the Magnitsky documentary got a single showing at the Newseum in Washington, a Washington Post editorial misrepresented its contents and dismissed it as “Russian agitprop,” which was easy to do because almost no one got to see what it said.)

Bureaucratic Runaround

I got my own taste of the E.U.’s bureaucratic resistance to dissent when I applied to the Media Accreditation Committee of the European Commission on March 2 seeking a press pass to act as the Brussels reporter of Consortiumnews.com.

This Committee issues accreditation for all the European Institutions, including the only one of interest to me, the European Parliament. The Committee is a law unto itself, a faceless bureaucratic entity that deals with applicants only via online applications and sends you back anonymous emails. The application process includes several steps that already raise red flags about the Commission’s understanding of what it means to be from the “press” or a “journalist” deserving accreditation in the Twenty-first Century.

First, under the Committee’s rules, a journalist must be a paid employee of the given media outlet. This condition generally cannot be satisfied by “stringers” or “freelancers,” who are paid for each assignment or an individual story, a payment arrangement that has existed throughout the history of journalism but has become more common today, used by mainstream media outlets as well as alternative media, which generally pay little or nothing. I satisfied that requirement with a Paypal credit note from Consortiumnews.

The Commission also must have the media outlet on its approved list. Regarding Consortiumnews, an Internet-based investigative news magazine dating back to 1995 and operating in the Washington D.C. area, the Commission apparently wasn’t sure what to do.

So, like bureaucratic institutions everywhere, the Committee played for time. It was only on June 6 that I received the review of my application. The finding was that 1) I needed to present more proof that my employer is paying me regularly, not just once, and 2) I needed to supply further articles showing that I am not merely published regularly, as was clear from my uploaded articles with the initial application, but that I am published precisely on the subject of activities at the European institutions.

I was assured that pending delivery of these proofs and completion of my request, I could ask for ad hoc accreditation “to the individual institutions for specific press events you would need to cover.”

In fact, I had withheld from my application my most recent published essay on a panel discussion in the E.U. Parliament devoted to censuring Russia’s alleged dissemination of “fake news.” That discussion was run by a Polish MEP and former Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs from the determinedly anti-Russian party of the Kaczynskis. The title of my essay was “Europe is brain dead and on the drip.” I had felt that this particular piece would not further the cause of my press pass.

Still, the insincerity of the E.U. press accreditation committee’s response to my application is perfectly obvious. A journalist can write articles about the European Institutions when he or she has free run of the house via a press pass and can ascertain what is going on of interest. Without a press pass, you do not know what or whom is worth covering.

And in this connection, “specific press events” are among the least desirable things going on at the E.U. for purposes of a genuine practicing journalist. They are useful only for lazy journalists who will send along to their editor the press release and a few canned quotes obtained by showing up at a press briefing in time for the coffee and sandwiches.

In short, I will not be issued a press pass and the Committee will not bother to address the real reason for refusal: that Consortiumnews is not on the Committee’s short list of acceptable media. Not to mince words, this is how the E.U. bureaucracy manages skeptical media and stifles dissenting voices.

NBC’s New Star v. Putin

Meanwhile, the mainstream Western media continues to hammer home its propaganda narratives, especially regarding Russia. Another case study unfolded over the past week with NBC’s new star reporter Megyn Kelly interviewing Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 2 on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

This latest NBC crime against professional journalism becomes apparent when you compare the full version of the interview as it was broadcast on Russia’s RT network and the edited version that NBC aired for its American audience. The most shocking discrepancy involved a segment in which Kelly aggressively questioned Putin about what she said was Americans’ understanding of his government, namely one that murders journalists, suppresses political opposition, is rife with corruption, etc.

In the NBC version, Putin’s answer has been cut to one empty introductory statement that “Russia is on its way to becoming a democracy” bracketed by an equally empty closing sentence. In the full, uncut version, Putin responds to Kelly’s allegations point by point and then turns the question around, asking what right the U.S. and the West have to question Russia’s record when they have been actively doing much worse than what Kelly charged. He asked where is Occupy Wall Street today, why U.S. and European police use billy clubs and tear gas to break up demonstrations, when Russian police do nothing of the sort, and so on.

Simply put, NBC intentionally made Putin sound like an empty authoritarian, when he is in fact a very sophisticated debater, which he demonstrated earlier in the day at an open panel discussion involving Kelly who became the event’s laughingstock. Regarding the bowdlerized interview, NBC management bears the prime responsibility for distorting the material and misleading its viewers.

Interviews by serious news organizations can be “hard talk,” as the BBC program of the same name does weekly. The journalist in charge can directly and baldly challenge a political leader or other public personality and can dwell on an issue to arrive at exhaustive responses that then allow viewers to reach their own conclusions.

However, in the interview at hand and in the earlier panel discussion, Kelly repeated the same question about alleged Russian meddling in the U.S. election even after she had received an exhaustive answer from Putin several times. Clearly she was reading from a script given to her by management and was not permitted to react to what took place in the interview exchange.

Given that Putin’s answers then were shredded in the NBC cutting room, we may explain the objectives of NBC’s executives as follows: to present themselves and their featured journalist to the American audience as being so respected by the Kremlin that the Russian president accorded an exclusive interview. Second, to show the American audience that they used the opportunity not to allow the Russian President to pitch his views to the U.S. home audience but instead to hit him with all the charges of wrongdoing that have been accumulating in the American political arena.

In other words, NBC got to show off Kelly’s supposed boldness and the network’s faux patriotism while sparing the American people from hearing Putin’s full answers.

A Harvard Dissent

Although this emerging paradigm of righteously suppressing challenges to mainstream narratives appears to be the wave of the future – with the modern censorship possibly enforced via Internet algorithms – some voices are protesting this assault on the Enlightenment’s trust in human reason to sort out false claims and advance factual truth.

At the May 25 commencement at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard President Drew Faust delivered an impassioned defense of free speech. She spoke about the institution and its obligations as generator and protector of “truth” and knowledge arrived at by free debate and challenge of ideas.

This is not to say that there was perfect clarity in her message. She left me and other attendees somewhat uncertain as to whose rights of free speech she was defending and against what sort of challenge. Given the political persuasion of students and faculty, namely the middle-of-the-road to progressive wings of the Democratic Party, one might think she had in mind such causes célèbres as the ongoing verbal attacks against Linda Sarsour, a Muslim (Palestinian) graduation speaker at CUNY.

Indeed, in her speech, Drew Faust pointed to the more vulnerable members of the student body, those from minorities, those from among first generation college students who might be intimidated by hurtful speech directed against them. But it is more likely that she drew up her speech having in mind the controversy on campus this spring over the rights of speakers disseminating hated ideas to appear on campus. That issue has come up repeatedly in the student newspaper The Crimson, and it may be said to date from the scandal at UC Berkeley over the cancellation of controversial far-right speaker Milo Yiannopoulos.

However, I believe the main weight of her argument was directed elsewhere. Primarily, to the processes by which truth is determined. She was defending the appropriateness of sharp debate and airing of views that one may dislike intensely on campus:

“Universities must model a commitment to the notion that truth cannot simply be claimed, but must be established – established through reasoned argument, assessment, and even sometimes uncomfortable challenges that provide the foundation for truth.”

Though this idea rests at the heart of the Enlightenment, it has faded in recent years as various political and media forces prefer to simply dismiss contrary evidence and analysis by stigmatizing the messengers and – whenever possible – silencing the message. This approach is now common inside the major media which lumps together cases of fact-free conspiracy theories and consciously “fake news” with well-researched information and serious analyses that clash with conventional wisdom.

No Sharp Edges

From my experience as an organizer of public events over the past five years, I learned that the very word “debate” finds few defenders these days. Debate suggests conflict rather than consensus. The politically correct term for public discussions of even hot issues is “round tables.” No sharp corners allowed.

But Faust said: “Ensuring freedom of speech is not just about allowing speech. It is about actively creating a community where everyone can contribute and flourish, a community where argument is relisted, not feared. Freedom of speech is not just freedom from censorship; it is freedom to actively join the debate as a full participant. It is about creating a context in which genuine debate can happen.”

Besides the value of honest debate as a method for ascertaining truth, Faust also noted that suppression of diverse opinions can blind those doing the suppression to growing unrest among the broader public, an apparent reference to the surprising election of Donald Trump.

Faust continued: “Silencing ideas or basking in intellectual orthodoxy independent of facts and evidence impedes our access to new and better ideas, and it inhibits a full and considered rejection of bad ones. From at least the time of Galileo, we can see how repressing seemingly heretical ideas has blinded societies and nations to the enhanced knowledge and understanding on which progress depend.

“Far more recently, we can see here at Harvard how our inattentiveness to the power and appeal of conservative voices left much of our community astonished – blindsided by the outcome of last fall’s election. We must work to ensure that universities do not become bubbles isolated from the concerns and discourse of the society that surrounds them.”

Of course, the inconvenient truth is that Harvard University has long been a “bubble,” especially in the area of policy research that most interests me and may be vital in avoiding a nuclear catastrophe: Russian studies.

Over the past few years of growing confrontation between the U.S. and Russia, amid vilification of the Russian President and the Russian people and now encompassing the hysteria over “Russia-gate,” colleagues with long-standing and widely acknowledged expertise in Russian affairs including Ambassador Jack Matlock and Professor Stephen Cohen have been repeatedly denied any possibility of participating in “round tables” dedicated to relations with Russia that might be organized at Harvard’s Kennedy Center or the Davis Center.

These policy centers have become pulpits to stridently expound orthodoxy per the Washington consensus. Thus, the flaccid argumentation and complacency of U.S. foreign policy are aided and abetted by this premier university, which, along with Columbia, created the very discipline of Russian studies in 1949. So, by wallowing in this consensus-driven groupthink, Harvard contributes to dangerously biased policies that could lead to World War III. In that case, truth – or as Harvard might say, Veritas – would not be the only casualty.

No doubt there are other faculties at Harvard which also are desperately in need of renewal following President Drew Faust’s call for debate and free speech. Nonetheless, Dr. Faust’s celebration of open debate and free speech represented a welcome tonic to the close-mindedness of today’s Russia-bashing.

Her speech is all the more noteworthy as it marks one of the first steps by liberals and Democratic Party stalwarts to acknowledge that those whom Hillary Clinton condemned as “deplorables” must be heard and reasoned with if U.S. democracy is to become great again.


Gilbert Doctorow is an independent political analyst based in Brussels.  His last book, Does Russia Have a Future? was published in August 2015.  His forthcoming book, Does the United States Have a Future?

June 13, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

The Weaponization of Information in the War of Terror

corbettreport | June 11, 2017

If terrorist incidents are always tied back to shadowy groups linked to Al Qaeda or ISIS, an online, independent media might connect those dots to show how Al Qaeda and ISIS were literally created, fostered, funded, trained and equipped by the UK government, the US government and their allies across the world as a tool in their quest of dominance of the Middle East and control of their domestic population. But such a story can only be told on a free and open internet, where independent voices continue to reach the masses and inform them of the truth about these terror groups.

TRANSCRIPT AND SOURCES: https://www.corbettreport.com/?p=22963

June 11, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , | 1 Comment

Russian Senator Vows Response Over Potential US’ Restrictions on Russian Media

Sputnik – 09.06.2017

MOSCOW – Russia’s Federation Council may suggest reciprocal measures for the US press in Russia, if Russian media in the United States face any limitations, the first deputy chairman of the Russian parliament’s upper house International Affairs Committee told Sputnik on Friday.

On June 7, US Congressmen David Cicilline and Matthew Gaetz introduced legislation, called The Foreign Agents Registration Modernization and Enforcement Act, which would provide the US Department of Justice with “the increased investigative authority to identify and prosecute entities that seek to unlawfully influence the political process.” The legislation is specifically targeting such media outlets, as RT broadcaster, obliging them to register as foreign agents and report their activity to the Department of Justice.

Cecilline called the RT broadcaster the Kremlin’s “propaganda” arm “dressed up as a legitimate news outlet,” and said that the new bill will help to prevent “spread of fake news” among the US nationals.

“There are attempts to prevent the Russian media in the United States from delivering objective information, different from the made-to-order [information] which they spread themselves. At the same time, Voice of America [broadcaster] and other organizations, unfriendly to us, have been spreading anti-Russian propaganda for decades and they continue to work, with no worries. The commission of the Federation Council [on countering foreign interference in Russian internal affairs], which will be established on June 14 will look into issues like this one. Possibly, we will begin working on reciprocal measures to respond to such actions,” Vladimir Dzhabarov said.

In accordance with the new legislation, the US Justice Department will be able to compel the production of documents from any person or entity while investigating any case, which is within the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) compliance. As of now, the authority to compel the production of such documents appears only after initiation of civil or criminal proceeding.

Russian media outlets broadcasting in Europe and the United States have been facing a barrage of accusations by Western officials about allegedly spreading fake news and attempting to influence public life. In the United States, the intelligence community has claimed Russia used its media outlets to swing the outcome of the US presidential election in favor of Donald Trump, but have not provided any evidence to back their claims.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other senior officials have repeatedly stated that Moscow refrains from meddling in internal affairs of foreign countries.

June 9, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | | 1 Comment

Israel issued 50,000 administrative detention orders since 1967

MEMO | June 9, 2017

Israeli occupation forces have issued 50,000 administrative detention orders against Palestinians since the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967, the Commission for Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs revealed on Wednesday.

Head of the research and documentation department in the researcher in the Commission for Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs, Abdel Nasser Farawneh, said that the administrative detention orders have increased since the outbreak of the Second Intifada, as the occupation authorities issued nearly 27,000 orders since September 2000.

He noted that of the total number of orders, nearly 1,704 were issued in 2016, a 50 per cent increase compared to 2015. While, since the beginning of 2017, over 4,000 orders were issued, including new orders and extensions.

Farawneh added that the increased number of detention orders and the increase in administrative orders issued against the Palestinians has led to a noticeable rise in the total number of administrative prisoners. As of today, nearly 5,000 administrative prisoners are held in Israeli prisons and detention centres without any charges against them or trials.

June 9, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Bahrain to jail Qatar sympathisers

Middle East Online | June 8, 2017

MANAMA – Bahrain Thursday followed the United Arab Emirates in announcing that expressing sympathy for Qatar over sanctions imposed by its Gulf neighbours was an offence punishable by a lengthy jail term.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt on Monday cut diplomatic ties with Qatar over accusations that the emirate is a champion of extremist groups in the region.

Qatar firmly denies the allegations.

“Any expression of sympathy with the government of Qatar or opposition to the measures taken by the government of Bahrain, whether through social media, Twitter or any other form of communication, is a criminal offence punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine,” a Bahraini interior ministry statement said.

The UAE on Wednesday announced a similar decision, warning that offenders could face between three and 15 years in prison and a fine of 500,000 dirhams ($136,125, 120,715 euros) should they criticise the decision to boycott Qatar.

Bahrain, home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, has been rocked by unrest since security forces crushed Shiite-led protests in 2011 demanding a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister.

The authorities accuse Iran of backing the protesters and aiming to incite unrest in Shiite-majority Bahrain, a charge Tehran denies.

Sunni-ruled Bahrain’s strict cyber crime law prohibits the expression of dissent online, including via social media.

Nabeel Rajab, one of the country’s most high-profile activists, is currently on trial for a series of tweets criticising a Saudi-led Arab military campaign in Yemen.

June 8, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Leave a comment

The West’s War on Free Speech

By Tony Cartalucci – New Eastern Outlook – 05.06.2017

With a name like the “National Democratic Institute” (NDI) one might expect the US State Department-funded, corporate-financier chaired front to be the premier proponent of freedom and democracy worldwide. And although it poses as such, it does precisely the opposite. It uses principles like free speech, democracy, press freedom, and human rights as a facade behind which it carries out a politically motivated agenda on behalf of the special interests that fund and direct its activities.

In a recent Tweet, NDI linked to a New York Times article titled, “In Europe’s Election Season, Tech Vies to Fight Fake News.” It claimed in the Tweet that the article featured:

A look at some of the projects aiming to use automated algorithms to identify and combat fake news.

The article itself though, reveals nothing short of a global effort by US tech-giants Google and Facebook, in collaboration with the Western media, to censor any and all media that fails to align with Western-dominated narratives.

The article itself claims:

The French electorate heads to the polls in the second round of presidential elections on May 7, followed by votes in Britain and Germany in the coming months. Computer scientists, tech giants and start-ups are using sophisticated algorithms and reams of online data to quickly — and automatically — spot fake news faster than traditional fact-checking groups can.

The goal, experts say, is to expand these digital tools across Europe, so the region can counter the fake news that caused so much confusion and anger during the United States presidential election in November, when outright false reports routinely spread like wildfire on Facebook and Twitter.

The article then explains that once “fake news” is spotted, it is expunged from the Internet. It reports that:

After criticism of its role in spreading false reports during the United States elections, Facebook introduced a fact-checking tool ahead of the Dutch elections in March and the first round of the French presidential election on April 23. It also removed 30,000 accounts in France that had shared fake news, a small fraction of the approximately 33 million Facebook users in the country.

Were foreign government-linked tech companies purging tens of thousands of accounts ahead of elections in say, Thailand or Russia, it is very likely organizations like NDI and media platforms like the New York Times would cry foul, depicting it as censorship.

In determining what is and isn’t “fake news,” the New York Times offers some clues (emphasis added):

Using a database of verified articles and their artificial intelligence expertise, rival groups — a combination of college teams, independent programmers and groups from existing tech companies — already have been able to accurately predict the veracity of certain claims almost 90 percent of the time, Mr. Pomerleau said. He hopes that figure will rise to the mid-90s before his challenge ends in June.

In other words, “fake news” is determined by comparing it directly to narratives presented by establishment media platforms like the New York Times, the BBC, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and others who have notorious track records of serial deception, false reporting, and even war propagandizing.

Nowhere does the New York Times explain how these “verified articles” have been determined to be factually accurate, and instead, it appears that all these algorithms are doing is ensuring all media falls in line with Western narratives.

If media in question coincides with Western-dominated media platforms, it is given a pass – if not, it is slated for expunging as described elsewhere in the New York Times’ piece.

Thus, the National Democratic Institute, who claims on its website to “support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government,” finds itself promoting what is essentially a worldwide agenda of malicious censorship, manipulating the perception of the globe’s citizenry, not supporting or strengthening it’s participation in any sort of honest political process.

To answer the question as to what the NDI is referring to when it claims other nations are “censoring” free speech and press freedoms, it involves defending local fronts funded by the NDI and its parent organization, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) who merely repeat Western propaganda in local languages and with local spins. When foreign nations attempt to deal with these instances of “fake news,” US fronts like NDI and NED depict it as censorship.

While the West poses as the premier champion of free speech, citizen participation, openness, and accountability, the New York Times article reveals an unfolding plan to utterly crush any narrative that deviates from Western media talking points, thus controlling citizen perception, not encouraging “participation,” and ensuring that the West alone determines what is “opened” and held “accountable.”

No worse scenario can be referenced in human history or even among human fiction than plans to determine for the world through automatic algorithms and artificial intelligence almost in real time what is heard and read and what isn’t. It is even beyond the scope and scale of George Orwell’s cautionary dystopian “1984” novel.

In a truly free society, an educated citizenry is capable of deciding for itself what is “fake news” and what isn’t. Because of the rise of alternatives to the West’s monopoly over global information, many people are doing just that – determining that Western narratives are in fact deceptions. At no other point in modern history has the Western media faced as many alternatives, and as much skepticism on this scale, as well as an ebbing of trust domestically and abroad. It is no surprise then, to find the West resorting to outright censorship, even if it cushions mention of it with terms like “fake news.”

June 5, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment