HRW Criticizes Facebook Censorship of Palestinians, Demands Investigation

October 8, 2021

By Palestine Chronicle Staff

Facebook has “wrongfully removed” content by Palestinians and pro-Palestine activists, Human Rights Watch said in a report released on Friday.

According to the New York-based international NGO, Facebook unfairly removed posts describing human rights abuses carried out during the May 2021 Israeli aggression.

“Facebook has suppressed content posted by Palestinians and their supporters speaking out about human rights issues in Israel and Palestine,” said Deborah Brown, senior digital rights researcher and advocate at HRW. “With the space for such advocacy under threat in many parts of the world, Facebook censorship threatens to restrict a critical platform for learning and engaging on these issues.”

According to the HRW report, several posts were also removed by Instagram, the American photo and video sharing social networking service that was recently acquired by Facebook.  

“In one instance, Instagram removed a screenshot of headlines and photos from three New York Times opinion articles for which the Instagram user added commentary that urged Palestinians to ‘never concede’ their rights,” the report reads.

HRW also condemned Facebook policy to designate certain organizations as ‘dangerous’, thus limiting the freedom of expression.

“Facebook relies on the list of organizations that the US has designated as a ‘foreign terrorist organization,’ among other lists,” HRW report said. “That list includes political movements that also have armed wings, such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Hamas.” 

“By deferring to the broad and sweeping US designations, Facebook prohibits leaders, founders, or prominent members of major Palestinian political movements from using its platform. It does this even though, as far as is publicly known, US law does not prohibit groups on the list from using free and freely available platforms like Facebook.”

In its report, HRW called for an “independent audit .. (to) evaluate Facebook’s relationship with the Israeli government’s Cyber Unit, which creates a parallel enforcement system for the government to seek to censor content without official legal orders.”

The California-based social media giant did not provide exhaustive explanations to justify its behavior, according to HRW. 

“Facebook has acknowledged several issues affecting Palestinians and their content, some of which it attributed to ‘technical glitches’and human error. However, these explanations do not explain the range of restrictions and suppression of content observed.”

The NGO ultimately asked for an independent investigation and urged Facebook to ensure “that investigators closely consult with civil society at the outset of the investigation, so that (it) reflects the most pressing human rights concerns from those affected by its policies.”

Last April, HRW issued a report, titled ‘A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution’, concluding that Israel is committing the crime of “apartheid” by seeking to maintain Jewish “domination” over Palestinians and its own Arab population.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

كورونا وفايسبوك: أزمات النمو أم الأفول؟

أكتوبر/ 5 تشرين الأول 2021

 ناصر قنديل

منذ سقوط جدار برلين وتقدم أميركا كصاحب نموذج للعالم تحت عنوان العولمة المستنسخة وفقاً لنظرية نهاية التاريخ، أي اعتبار النموذج الليبرالي الجديد آخر نتاج التقدم الإنساني اقتصاديا وسياسياً وثقافياً واجتماعياً، كانت الحملات العسكرية الأميركية الجزء الأقل أهمية من المشروع الأميركي العالمي، على رغم كونها أخطر وجوه المشروع وأكثرها ظهوراً وحضوراً، ولكن وقفت خلف هذه الحملات العسكرية الأميركية سواء في حرب يوغوسلافيا او أفغانستان أو العراق، مشهدية فلسفية وثقافية وتسويقية تقوم على نهاية عهد الدولة الوطنية، والمقصود نهاية عهد الدولة لحساب الشركة أولاً، ونهاية عهد الوطنية، أي الحفاظ على الخصوصيات الثقافية والسياسية للكيان الوطنية للدول لصالح نموذج عالمي، لا مكان فيه للهويات والخصوصيات، التي ترتبط عموماً بفكرة الدولة، وسيتكفل حلول الشركة مكان الدولة بالتمهيد لتكون الشركة عالمية، وتزامن استعراض التفوق العسكري الأميركي مع استعراض نماذج التفوق التكنولوجي، ومن خلالهما نموذج الشركة، ففي الحرب لم تعد الجيوش قوة وطنية تحمل مشروع بلادها، بل صارت الحرب عملاً مأجوراً تعاقدياً تنفذه الشركات، تواكبه شركات أخرى في تكنولوجيا الإعلام والاتصال، ومثلها الثورات لم يعد قائماً على فعل تاريخي معبر عن إرادة نخب تقود شعوبها نحو مشروع حالم، بل صارت الثورات مقاولة تلتزمها شركات تسمى جمعيات مجتمع مدني، وتواكبها موازنات تنفقها الشركات على وسائل التواصل والأقنية التلفزيونية، وشعارات صنعتها شركات الدعاية المتخصصة، كعملية تجارية صرفة اعتمدت فيها قواعد توصيف المنتج ودراسات الجدوى وتحديد الكلفة والأرباح المتوقعة.

جاء الاعتراف الأميركي بالفشل العسكري بنظر البعض منفصلاً عن فشل المشروع الذي جسدته أميركاً الجديدة، أي نموذج الشركة العالمية، ولذلك يذهب هذا البعض إلى الدعوة للتمهل في الحديث عن فشل المشروع أو دخوله مأزقاً بنيوياً ويتخيلون فرصة لتعديل في وجهته يتراجع خلالها العسكري لصالح الاقتصادي، الذي لا يزال الأميركي فيه أولاً إن لم يكن حاكماً، وهم بالتالي يقرأون الأزمة التي يمر بها المشروع الأميركي بصفتها واحدة من أزمات النمو لمشروع في طور الصعود على رغم الإخفاقات، ولذلك تجب معاينة المأزق العسكري للحملات الأميركية، بعدما صار الاعتراف الأميركي بالفشل علنياً ورسمياً، وصولاً للقول بسقوط إمكانية صناعة السياسة باللجوء للقوة العسكرية، كما وصف الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن الإطار السياسي لقرار الانسحاب من أفغانستان، من دون أن ينسى أن المعيار هو سقوط الجدوى الاقتصادية لاستثمار ثلاثمئة مليون دولار يومياً، وما يزيد على تريليون دولار خلال عشرين عاماً، كتفسير للفشل، فهل كانت الحال مختلفة في مسيرة الانتقال من الدولة إلى الشركة؟

الخلاصة الأولى التي كتبتها سنوات الحروب هي تثبيت الخصوصيات والهويات على حساب نظرية الهوية العالمية القائمة على الربحية وحدها، وفق معادلة اقتلاع شجرات الزيتون لصالح التنافس على سيارة اللكزس، فنهضت أشجار الزيتون، بما ترمز إليه من هويات خصوصية، وهذا ما قاله النهوض الروسي والصعود الصيني والصمود الإيراني، ووقفت أميركا بعظمتها ضعيفة أمام شجرة زيتون الهوية الصهيونية، مؤكدة سقوط نظرية سقوط الهويات، وتراجع مشروع الشركة عن عالميته، لصالح الاكتفاء بكونه أميركياً، وصار الحديث عن الدولة العظيمة لا الدولة العظمى، وعن استعادة أميركا النموذج والمثال، ولكن الاختبارات القاسية لم تترك المجال لنظرية الشركة أن تبقى بعيداً عن تحديات إثبات أهليتها، وكانت جائحة كورونا أصعب الاختبارات الإنسانية، بينما كانت أزمة شركات تكنولوجيا المعلومات والاتصالات الفقاعة الأبرز التي وضعت الأزمة على الطاولة.

خلال جائحة كورونا ظهرت الفوضى وانكشف ضعف النظام الصحي، وانكشفت خطورة الاعتماد على منهج الربحية في عمل الشركات للإجابة على تحديات العناية بصحة البشرية ومواكبة أخطار الأوبئة، فبقيت أميركا الأولى الأشد تأثراً بالجائحة وعجزاً عن السيطرة عليها على رغم أنها الدولة الأغنى والدولة الأقوى تقيناً، والأكثر امتلاكاً لأدوات المواجهة والوقاية، وعلى رغم دخول الجائحة عامها الثالث لا تزال الإصابات والوفيات تسجل أعلى الأرقام في أميركا، على رغم أنها بقياس عدد السكان تشكل 20 في المئة من عدد سكان الصين التي نجحت بالسيطرة على الجائحة وخرجت عملياً من تداعياتها، في مواجهة عملية لنموذجي الدولة والشركة، وقبل أن تحط كورونا رحالها، انفجرت أزمة شركات الاتصالات العملاقة وتحولت إلى قضية عالمية مع الأزمة التي حلت بالشركة الأعظم التي تتحكم بيوميات نصف سكان العالم، فالأزمة التي تفجرت حول شركة فايسبوك ليست مجرد عطل تقني، ولا مجرد نقاش حول الضوابط التي يجب أن تحكم حال شركات التواصل، بل هي تعبير عن الأسئلة الكبرى التي يطرحها نموذج الشركة بدلاً من الدولة، حيث الربح هو الموجه الأول، على حساب ضمانات سلامة التشغيل وأمان المواد المتداولة وأخلاقيات استخدامها، حيث ما نشهده ليس إلا أول النقاش، كما حدث يوم الأزمة التي تفجرت عام 2008 من بوابة الرهونات العقارية، وانهيار النظام المصرفي ومن خلفه البورصة، واضطرار الدولة إلى اللجوء لتأميم بعض المصارف ووضع اليد عليها، وتقييد الباقي منها.

ليس ما تشهده أميركا مجرد أزمة، بل انفجار لنموذج، وتعبير عن أفول مشروع إمبراطوري، وهذا لا يعني أن أميركا ستزول عن الخريطة، أو أنها ستكف عن التصرف كدولة قوية ومقتدرة، أو أنها لن تحاول ترميم نموذجها ومحاولة إصلاحه، لكن كل ذلك سيجري تحت عنوان عريض هو أن الشركة العالمية فشلت كبديل للدولة الوطنية، وأن ما يجري نقاشه الآن في واشنطن هو كيفية العودة لمفهوم الدولة الوطنية القوية، بعد فشل الشركة العالمية الحاكمة.

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Israeli Aggressions Against Iraq: From Subversions to Normalization Attempts

September 30, 2021

Source: Al Mayadeen

By Ali Jezzini

The Israeli occupation has attempted to destabilize Iraq since the sixties. How is the Israeli Occupation trying to infiltrate Iraqi society?

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Iraqi Society has been a target for pro-normalization Propaganda in Past years

On the 24th of the current month, a conference was held in Erbil, the capital city of the Iraqi Kurdistan region. The conference of “Peace and Reclamation,” called for the normalization of relations with the Israeli occupation under the shady slogans of peace and establishing civil society organizations.  

The conference, organized by the New York-based Center for Peace Communications (CPC), was called “an illegal gathering” by the Iraqi government. The CPC is an organization that openly calls for the normalization of relations between the Arab states and “Israel”.

For a foreign observer, the story might look like it started here, and one might think, isolating the Iraqis from their national and cultural context, that this reaction is just a mere prejudice from the Iraqis in the face of something they ignore or never have experienced. But is it the case? 

A History of Sabotage 

Despite Iraq not sharing a direct border with Occupied Palestine, the country was a target for countless Israeli aggressions during the last century. Even before the foundation of the Israeli entity in 1948, contact has been made as early as the thirties through the Jewish agency with some Kurdish groups in northern Iraq. In the forties and fifties, simple contact was transformed into real military espionage committed by Kumran Ali Bedir-Khan a Kurdish leader with close ties to “Israel”.

These espionage attempts continued throughout the sixties as well until the rebellion started in autumn 1961 in northern Iraqi regions. Eventually, a larger scale training and supply operation to the insurgents in the north was launched following Kurdish leaders from the Kurdish democratic party (KDP) meeting with Israeli officials during that year. 

Israeli attempts to destabilize the country go back to at least the sixties when the Israelis intervened with the help of the SAVAK, the former Shah of Iran intelligence Agency, to assist the militants of the KDP led by Moustafa Barazani. The insurgents agreed on this supply training Israeli operation in 1963 following their initial hesitation. There were reports about unidentified arms cache in the region, and  Mossad agents never found any difficulty accessing the northern zones in Iraq to fuel the insurgency.

In August 1965, the Israelis provided a training course code-named Marvad (carpet) for Peshmerga (the military force of Barazani at that time). Israeli-backed militias not only destabilized the region and attacked Iraqi military personnel and installations, but also civilian infrastructures. Attacking the Kirkuk oil field which produced a large portion of Iraq’s Oil at that time was one of these attacks.

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  • Mustafa Barzani accompanied by Israeli Occupation President Zalman Shazar in the Occupied Lands,1968
  • Following the Shah of Iran signing the 1975 Algier agreement with Iraq, Israelis objected to the Shah and called it a “betrayal to the Kurds.” This abandonment led to the KDP’s demise and a subsequent de-escalation of the violence in the north, although contacts with “Israel” were maintained afterward.  

    The first official acknowledgment of the Israeli occupation’s aid to the insurgency dates to September 29 1980 when Prime Minister Menachem Begin disclosed that “Israel” had supported the Kurds (KDP) “during their uprising against the Iraqis in 1965–1975.” Begin added that “Israel” had sent instructors and arms but not military units.

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    Israeli Field Hospital Helping the insurgency in Northern Iraq between 1963-1973

    In 2004, the Israeli media reported on meetings between Masud Barzani (who would become president of the KRG in 2005 ), Jalal Talabani (who would become president of Iraq in 2005 and serve in that office until 2014), and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Relations continued to flourish as the PUK became entangled with this illegal normalization according to Iraqi Legal code 111 of 1969 in its 201st article.

    Such actions reached their peak after the Iraqi president and head of the PUK Jalal Talabani, shook hands with Ehud Barak, the Israeli Defence Minister, in 2008. In 2015, “Israel” reportedly imported as much as three-quarters of its oil from the Kurdistan region in Iraq, providing a vital source of funds as Kurdish Peshmerga to finance its militia.

    Normalization as a division method

    As a part of its “Peripherical alliance” strategy, the Israeli occupation tried to sow division in the societies surrounding it. It tried to ally itself with every ethnic or religious minority in the Arab world as well as surrounding states like Turkey or the Shah’s Persia. The objective of this article is not to bash Kurds as ethnicity in any way. For instance, many Kurdish factions resisted colonialism and Zionism such as the PKK who fought the Israeli occupation in 1982. Kurdish factions in general, have been a target of Israeli subversive actions, due to the complexity of the Kurdish national cause that the Israelis tried to exploit.

    For the first time, this time publically at least, the normalization efforts have been extended to wider sectors of the Iraqi society outside of the “Periphery doctrine.” These efforts have intensified with the recent normalization wave that included UAE, Bahrain, and other countries like Morocco. New faces have appeared on the scene in parallel with such normalization such as Wisam al-Hardan’s The head of the Awakening Groups and Sahar al-Tai, among having called to normalize with “Isreal” following the previously mentioned states’ model. “The UAE and Saudi Arabia are backing these efforts” according to Iraqi Popular Mobilisation forces

    Haaretz Israeli newspaper mentioned another level of normalization that is happening mainly on social media. Besides the older Facebook and Twitter page “Israel in Arabic” that was launched in 2011, another Facebook page was created in 2018 called “Isreal Speaks in Iraqi (dialect)” to target Iraqi society specifically. The article says that many operate under the cover of linking Iraqi jews to their heritage and introducing “Israel” to the Iraqis.

    The article mentions the page admin stating that the 2003 war opened up new channels of communication with Iraqis, this communication has been made easier with the signing of the normalization deals with UAE and other countries. Iraqis with second passports are being brought to Israel with the pretext of “tourism” since 2018, which the organizer claims to be independently done from her work for the occupation government as an administrator of the page. The page publically calls for normalization and launches polls to investigate the views of the general audience.

    The stumbling project

    The Iraqi government and various political parties expressed their firm rejection of the “illegal” meetings that were held by some tribal figures in the city of Erbil in the Kurdistan Region, which called for the normalization with “Israel.” Arrest warrants have been issued against the participants of the “Peace and Reclamation” conference in Erbil. One of the main speakers of the conference Wissam al-Hardan has been suspended from his post as the head of the “awakening movement”.

    In the light of these reactions, a general popular rage is engulfing Iraqi Streets while activists on social media called for all participants to be held accountable for the crimes committed according to Iraqi law. Iraqis haven’t forgotten not only the injustice of the Israeli occupation against their Palestinian and Arab brethren but the role Israelis played in insinuating and calling for both major wars launched by the US against their country in 2003. A war whose devastating effects are still evident today.

    Today’s Cardboard Cutout Corporate Heroes – Virgin Births All

    Today’s Cardboard Cutout  Corporate Heroes – Virgin Births All

    August 21, 2021

    By Larry Romanoff for The Saker Blog

    https://hazlitt.net/sites/default/files/styles/article-header-image/public/field/image/tumblr_ml3utknBNF1qhqq6lo1_1280.jpg?itok=GmItCwaZ

    What do the following people have in common? George Soros, Elon Musk, Jeffery Epstein, Larry Page, Sergei Brin, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Sanger, Jimmy Wales.

    Two things. One, they are Jewish. Two, they condensed from a spiritual mist to almost suddenly become household names, men of immense wealth whose companies exert huge influence on Western society – but men who apparently achieved these enviable heights without the usual necessities of intelligence, education, experience or native talent or, for the most part, good judgment. Have you ever wondered how these men quietly rose to such eminence in spite of their lack of credentials? Let’s see what we know to be true.

    Jeffrey Epstein

    http://www.bluemoonofshanghai.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/GettyImages-587969572_770x433_acf_cropped-300x169.jpg

    Let’s begin with Jeffrey Epstein, who is perhaps more representative of this group than you might imagine. Epstein’s credentials consist of his being a psychopath, sociopath, and oversexed pedophile with a bit of charm. Little else. By all accounts, Epstein had never held a real job because he was unqualified for any. He did at one point hold a teaching position – for which he possessed no qualifications whatever, but that seems to be the list. Yet he progressed from that to being a quasi-billionaire director of one of the greatest sexual-entrapment schemes in the history of the world, replete with private aircraft, very expensive mansions, a private “pedophile island” in the Caribbean and much more. A man who kept company with the world’s rich and famous (and especially British royalty), to whom he treated with his underage treasures.

    How did such a thing happen? Epstein promulgated a myth that he was an investment manager, accepting clients with available cash of a minimum of one billion dollars. It was a good story, but there is no evidence – no evidence – that Epstein ever made a stock trade. As one market expert said with perfect understatement, “It’s unusual for an animal that big to not leave footprints in the snow”. And Epstein left no footprints. In fact, there was no plausible source of his apparent wealth, no source of income to support his “Lolita Express” flying underage girls all over the world to entrap politicians and royalty from most Western nations, nor to support the immense expense of his mansions and the construction of his pedophile island in the Caribbean.

    The public naturally became curious about Epstein’s funding sources and, right on cue, the NYT and WSJ informed us that Les Wexner (also Jewish), the principal of Victoria’s Secret, had been defrauded by Epstein to the extent of $400 or $500 million dollars. So now we know the source of his money. Jeffrey was not only a pedophile running a massive sexual entrapment enterprise, but was also a con-man and thief. Interestingly, Victoria’s Secret seems to not have been harmed financially by this massive loss, its revenues and profits continuing happily. And how did Wexner deal with this enormous fraud? Apparently by simply ignoring it. Many people have filed lawsuits against Epstein’s estate to obtain compensation for damages, but Wexner doesn’t appear to be one of them. We can legitimately wonder why not.

    How to explain all of this? As in all the examples we will study, easier than you might imagine. Jeffrey Epstein did indeed have a job, that of creating and managing the most far-reaching sexual entrapment scheme in history. He was recruited for that job because he possessed all the natural qualifications as listed above. The persons who recruited him were the same group of Jewish European bankers and industrialists – our International Cabal of Gangsters (ICG), and they financed him to the tune of at least several hundred millions of dollars, a pittance when compared to the rewards to be vacuumed from captive politicians.

    Epstein was simply a ‘front man’ doing the bidding of his masters who, as always, hide in the shadows and cannot easily be connected to the execution of their plans. The job paid well. Epstein enjoyed the life of a billionaire and all its trappings, enormous perquisites for performing a service of almost infinite value to his masters.

    Larry Page and Sergei Brin (Google)

    http://www.bluemoonofshanghai.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/larry-page-dan-sergey-brin-2-300x204.jpg

    This one reads like a fairy tale: two young Jewish kids, raised in Russia, polluted with Communism and a corrupted form of democracy, unthinking robots of a dictatorial state, emigrated to the US and, in only six weeks more or less, created a behemoth corporation with a market value of nearly $2 trillion and with a search engine that provides 80% of all internet searches worldwide. Either the Jews really are God’s Chosen People, or there is something very wrong with this story.

    In fact, Page and Brin were ‘front men’ in a way similar to Jeffrey Epstein, but with far less influence on execution. All you need to do is think. Before the appearance of Google, we had multiple search engines each with its own algorithms and all useful. But a search engine contains enormous potential for the control of information. By amending the algorithm, I can decide which items or articles appear on a search and which are consigned to the dustbin. I can literally control the information you see, and I can ensure there is much that you will never see. I can make all the negative articles about China or Russia appear in the first page of a search, and I can ensure you will never see information about the Jewish atrocities in Palestine. My search engine has the power to almost single-handedly control the available information for the great majority of populations. And thus the attraction.

    But in fact, Google was a child of the CIA, funded, planned and financed initially through In-Q-tel, a brainchild of our European Jewish ICG always searching for more and total information control. Eric Schmidt was mostly in charge from the outset; our two students being irrelevant. Again, all we need to do is think. How could two young kids create a search engine – entirely on their own – that would be so perfect, so efficient, as to virtually exterminate all competition in a short time while milking billions from advertisers.

    Like Jeffrey Epstein, Larry Page and Sergei Brin were hired for a job, in this case to serve as the front men for a massive (and so far very successful) effort at total information control. They are held up publicly as the stars, are gratuitously made very wealthy, all as part of the plan to disguise the purpose and intent.

    Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook)

    http://www.bluemoonofshanghai.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/mark_zuckerberg-300x199.jpg

    Once again, how does a young Jewish kid steal a group networking idea from his friends and, again within six weeks more or less, create a world-leading communication platform? The power behind Facebook that propelled it to its present position, did not come from him. As with Google, Twitter, and other such platforms, an enormous amount of knowledge, influence and financing are necessary for such a result, far beyond the capacity of any one person.

    As with the others, Zuckerberg is merely a figurehead, a ‘front man’, deflecting attention from the originators of the project. He was offered a job with excellent pay, the opportunity to appear very wealthy, to further the impression of Jews being geniuses, but has done nothing of import or consequence. All this was financed and stage-managed behind the scenes by his masters, Zuckerberg merely along for the ride. But it works; this little shit is so heavily promoted that he rated a personal audience with Xi Jinping. Confucius must be screaming in his grave.

    Elon Musk

    http://www.bluemoonofshanghai.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/ELON-MUSK-300x300.jpg

    If Google was a fairy tale, Tesla motors is a Cinderella delusion. Looking through the man’s record – and blowing away all the smoke – Musk went from sleeping in his car and eating leaves from trees to (again within six weeks more or less) being the CEO of “the world’s most valuable car company” and sending spacecraft to the moon. How do you suppose that happened?

    Almost everyone in the last century attempting to design and market a new brand of automobile has failed miserably. Except for China and Russia, everyone – most especially including the USA and NASA – has failed in space missions or haven’t the money to do it. But along comes Elon Musk who can do all of these and more. Tesla’s aim is to sell more electric cars than all other manufacturers combined, and to become America’s default space agency.

    There is no evidence that Musk has any executive or management abilities of consequence; his staff hate him, his Board of Directors despises him, the SEC believe he is a menace, and shareholders panic at his presence. The available information states freely that Musk plays no active part in the management of Tesla, nor in anything to do with outer space. I do not deny that the man may have some abilities; I claim only that they are not yet evident. Why is he there, with his apparent $200 billion bank account? As with all the others, Elon Musk is a figurehead, a ‘front’, someone hired for a job with great pay, much publicity, and perfect obedience.

    George Soros

    http://www.bluemoonofshanghai.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/george-soros-234x300.jpg

    By one measure, Soros is unique among the subjects of this essay since there exists a huge international movement to have him burned at the stake as a witch. Other than this, nothing separates him from the other members of this clan. One need speak to Soros for only a few minutes to realise he hasn’t the knowledge to “bankrupt the Bank of England” or perform the other financial crimes attributed to him. Once again, Soros was hired for a job with good pay, lots of publicity, and a totally undeserved reputation for ability. Once again, a front man, given an opportunity to accumulate wealth which is then used to further the agenda of the ICG, primarily by funding seditious organisations all around the world, helping to destroy nations and economies according to the current agenda.

    I do not know the selection process for people such as these. Perhaps they simply come to the attention of the right persons at the right time. Perhaps their mothers are mistresses of various members of the ICG and can give their offspring an unfair advantage. I see no pattern in the selection, which means the process is ad hoc and perhaps capricious, but it exists nonetheless. There is no other explanation, because these current heroes are typically mediocre at best, none exhibiting management ability beyond that of a 7-11, and none being exceptional in any identifiable way. Yet they appear from nowhere and are instantly propelled to galactic stardom, and that occurs only when a very wealthy and experienced puppet-master is pulling the strings.

    *

    Mr. Romanoff’s writing has been translated into 32 languages and his articles posted on more than 150 foreign-language news and politics websites in more than 30 countries, as well as more than 100 English language platforms. Larry Romanoff is a retired management consultant and businessman. He has held senior executive positions in international consulting firms, and owned an international import-export business. He has been a visiting professor at Shanghai’s Fudan University, presenting case studies in international affairs to senior EMBA classes. Mr. Romanoff lives in Shanghai and is currently writing a series of ten books generally related to China and the West. He is one of the contributing authors to Cynthia McKinney’s new anthology ‘When China Sneezes’. (Chapt. 2 — Dealing with Demons). His full archive can be seen at https://www.moonofshanghai.com/ and http://www.bluemoonofshanghai.com/

    He can be contacted at: 2186604556@qq.com

    *

    Facebook, Social Media Giants Admit to Silencing Palestinian Voices Online

    May 14th, 2021

    By Jessical Buxbaum

    Source

    Social media companies including Facebook have admitted to MintPress that pro-Palestinian posts were removed, blaming “technical bugs” and “spam filters.”

    OCCUPIED EAST JERUSALEM — In a video posted on activist organization Jewish Voice for Peace’s Twitter account, Muna El-Kurd explained why social media is so vital for the Palestinian cause.

    “We rely on the honorable people standing in solidarity with us, people who tweet #SaveSheikhJarrah everyday,” Muna El-Kurd said. “Even a short tweet or post is a treasure.”

    El-Kurd and her family are under threat of forcible displacement by Israel settlers and Israeli government forces from their home in Sheikh Jarrah, a neighborhood in Occupied East Jerusalem. Over the past week, Palestinians on the ground have documented both Israeli police brutality and settler violence.

    In response, the world rallied behind Palestinian home defenders online by sharing information related to Sheikh Jarrah, al-Aqsa Mosque, and Israel’s ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestine. However, activists claim their content was met with censorship from the very platforms with which they’re engaging.

    Instagram disabled Muna El-Kurd’s account last week and her brother, Mohammed El-Kurd, had several of his Instagram stories removed and was threatened with account deletion.

    A flurry of content removal and banning

    Activists reported that social media companies have been removing their content, stating it violated community guidelines or deeming it “hate speech.” Reports also included suspended and deactivated accounts and text-only content labeled “sensitive,” a designation usually reserved for photos and videos containing violence, gore or derogatory images. The “Save Sheikh Jarrah” Facebook group was also deactivated, according to Mohammed El-Kurd.

    Reports were largely centered on Instagram and Twitter, with some restrictive behaviors conducted by Facebook and even TikTok.

    Over the weekend, hashtags related to al-Aqsa Mosque, Sheikh Jarrah and Jerusalem could not be found on Instagram.

    According to internal employee communications provided to Buzzfeed, al-Aqsa — the third holiest site in Islam — was flagged by Instagram as associated with “violence or dangerous organizations.” The label is typically reserved for terrorist groups.

    During the last days of Ramadan, worshippers at al-Aqsa were attacked with stun grenades and rubber bullets by Israeli police in riot gear. More than 170 Palestinians were injured. Social media users hoping to publicize the state violence instead found their content removed from search results.

    Twenty-four rights organizations signed a statement demanding that Facebook and Twitter reinstate affected accounts and explain their actions:

    The removed content and suspended accounts on both Instagram and Twitter are involved in documenting and reporting what is happening in Sheikh Jarrah, as well as denouncing Israel’s policies of ethnic cleansing, apartheid and persecution. These violations are not limited to Palestinian users, but also affect activists around the world who are using social media to raise awareness about the grave situation in Sheikh Jarrah.

    Nadim Nashif, founder and CEO of 7amleh, one of the letter’s signatories, said the digital rights organization had received approximately 200 cases of social media censorship related to the recent events in Palestine. However, he believes the actual number could be well into the thousands, as many users experiencing censorship may not report it.

    “Actually, 99 percent of our [content removal] appeals to social media companies were put back, with no questions asked. And this is clearly because these posts did not really violate their community standards,” Nashif told MintPress News. “What’s basically happening is the Israeli Cyber Unit is abusing the system of so-called voluntary takedown.”

    When reached for comment, a Twitter spokesperson said “Our automated systems took enforcement action on a small number of accounts in error by an automated spam filter.”

    “We are expeditiously reversing this action to reinstate access to the affected accounts, some of which have already been reinstated,” Twitter said.

    Facebook, which owns Instagram, responded to requests for comment from MintPress by issuing a statement that reads in part:

    We know there have been several issues that have impacted people’s ability to share on our apps, including a technical bug that affected Stories around the world, and an error which temporarily restricted content from being viewed on the Al Aqsa mosque hashtag page. While both issues have been fixed, they never should have happened in the first place. We’re so sorry to everyone who felt they couldn’t bring attention to important events, or who felt this was a deliberate suppression of their voice. This was never our intention.

    Corporate and government collaborative censorship

    As previously reported by MintPress, social media suppression of Palestinian media is not a new phenomenon. 7amleh’s research unveiled significant cooperation between social media behemoths and Israel in targeting Palestinian content: According to a 2020 7amleh report on the systematic erasure of Palestinian content, the Israeli Ministry of Justice’s Cyber Unit is responsible for submitting removal requests to tech companies based on purported violations of domestic law and the companies’ community guidelines.

    7amleh wrote in their report:

    The Israeli Minister of Justice, Ayelet Shaked, stated that ‘Facebook, Google, and YouTube are complying with up to 95% of Israel’s requests to delete content that the Israeli government says incites Palestinian violence.’ This shows a significant focus on Palestinian content and efforts to label Palestinian political speech as incitement to violence.

    The Israeli government and non-governmental organizations also encourage citizens to participate in these censorship efforts by making their own content removal requests with regard to Palestinian information.

    “The big issue of the voluntary takedowns is that there aren’t any legal or bureaucratic procedures to clarify them,” Nashif said.

    In 2019, Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) filed a joint petition to Israel’s High Court of Justice against the Cyber Unit on the grounds its mechanisms violate the constitutional rights of freedom of expression and due process. Last month, Israel’s Supreme Court rejected that petition.

    “As usual, the Supreme Court supported and validated the actions of the Cyber Unit,” Nashif said. “And now they’re trying to suppress the Palestinian voice by intensifying these requests for takedowns.”

    Nashif could not confirm that Israel’s Cyber Unit is behind the latest alleged censorship. But through Adalah and ACRI’s use of the Freedom of Information Law, 7amleh knows the government entity made more than 15,000 requests last year to social media platforms. Nashif explained:

    We don’t have evidence about what’s happened in the last week because neither the Cyber Unit nor Facebook is transparent about the takedowns. But it’s clear from following them, researching their policies, speaking with people working in Facebook and from the different appeals in the court against the Cyber Unit, we know that this is obviously happening.”

    Escalating violence, growing grassroots action

    Tensions in Jerusalem and throughout Palestine have intensified in recent days. At the time of writing, Israeli airstrikes have killed 87 Gazan Palestinians, including 18 children, and rocket fire from Hamas, the resistance movement governing Gaza, has killed six Israelis and one Indian national. More than 530 Palestinians have been injured and 28 Israelis wounded.

    Israeli forces have fired skunk water and stun grenades at crowds demonstrating against the expulsions of Sheikh Jarrah residents. Armed groups of Israelis are currently storming Palestine’s streets—chanting “Death to Arabs,” destroying Palestinian properties, and attacking Palestinians.

    Palestinians Gaza
    Palestinians carry the body of a child found in the rubble home destroyed by a precision Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, May 13, 2021. Abdel Kareem Hana | AP

    Palestinians Gaza
    A relative mourns over the bodies of four young brothers from the Tanani family killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza, May 14, 2021. Khalil Hamra | AP

    Palestinians Gaza
    A wounded boy lies on a stretcher following an Israeli attack in Beit Lahiya, Gaza, May 10, 2021. Mohammed Ali | AP

    The Israeli Supreme Court postponed a court hearing on the possible dispossession facing Sheikh Jarrah families, including the El-Kurds. The court is expected to set a new date in 30 days.

    While the Israeli authorities continue crushing Palestinian dissent on the ground, Nashif said Palestinian voices remain silenced online as well.

    “Our feeling is that it’s less now because we are getting fewer requests to appeal. But it is still happening,” Nashif said, referring to how the Israeli Cyber Unit, artificial intelligence, and pro-Israel internet communities like Act.IL are all part of the campaign to diminish the Palestinian perspective on social media.

    “You have to understand that this is a fight on narrative,” Nashif said. “There is a strong attempt to suppress the Palestinian narrative.”

    Facebook bans Iran’s Press TV page

    Facebook Hires NATO Press Officer Ben Nimmo as Intelligence Chief

    By Alan Macleod

    Source

    Ben Nimmo

    Ben Nimmo, a former NATO press officer and current senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, has announced Facebook has hired him to “lead global threat intelligence strategy against influence operations” and “emerging threats.” Nimmo specifically named Russia, Iran and China as potential dangers to the platform.

    His announcement was greeted with joy by several NATO officials but was not met with such enthusiasm by others. “More censorship on the way as the former NATO press officer turned Pentagon-funded ‘researcher’ who labeled real people as Russian bots and peddled disinformation to link Jeremy Corbyn to Russian active measures moves to big tech,” responded investigative journalist Max Blumenthal.

    Nimmo’s questionable past certainly raises questions over whether such an official having a substantial say in what 2.8 billion Facebook users worldwide see in their feeds is such a positive step for the free and open exchange of information.

    “Disinformation agents”

    For example, in 2019, U.K. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn revealed secret Conservative Party documents showing negotiations the Tory government had with the U.S. over the privatization of the National Health Service (NHS). With just days to go before the U.K. general election, the scandal could have toppled the government and brought into power the most radical antiwar, anti-establishment government in the country’s history. Corporate media went into overdrive to spin the news, and Nimmo was a key part of this, immediately announcing, without evidence, that the documents “closely resemble…a known Russian operation.” His supposedly expert conjecture allowed the story to become “Corbyn’s links to Russia” rather than “Tories privatizing the NHS in secret.” Nimmo’s work helped the Conservatives to an election victory and consigned Corbyn to the scrapheap.

    This was much to the relief of Nimmo’s Atlantic Council, who had branded Corbyn the “Kremlin’s Trojan Horse” — someone pushing Moscow’s agenda abroad. A British Army general was of a similar opinion, claiming that if Corbyn were to win the election, the military would respond. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also said that the U.S. government was “doing its best” to prevent a radical leftist from winning power in the U.K.

    Nimmo has been extremely liberal with whom he labels Russian disinformation agents. In 2018, his research identified one Twitter user, @Ian56789, as a “Kremlin troll.” In reality, the user, Ian Shilling, was a British pensioner, as Sky News was easily able to confirm, interviewing him on air and asking him the patently absurd question if he was actually a Russian bot or not. Despite clearly being a flesh and blood human, Shilling’s account was later deleted anyway.

    In the past, Nimmo has also insisted that Ruslana Boshirova was an influential Russian bot. In reality, she is an internationally known concert pianist, as one Google search would have shown. This sort of behavior does not augur well for those critical of Western foreign policy, who have faced constant harassment, suspension, or outright bans from social media.

    Pro-war putsch

    The Atlantic Council began as an offshoot of NATO itself and maintains extremely close connections to the military alliance. It continues to receive major funding from Western governments and weapons contractors, and its board of directors is filled to the brim with senior American statespersons, such as Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and Henry Kissinger. Also appearing on the board are no fewer than seven former CIA directors and a number of top military generals, such as Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis, Wesley Clark, and David Petraeus.

    In recent years, the council’s employees have penetrated deep into big tech and social media organizations. In 2018, it announced it had partnered with Facebook to aid in the curation of Facebook news feeds of users worldwide, giving it considerable power over what sort of views to highlight and which to demote. One year previously, Jessica Ashooh left the position of the council’s Deputy Director of Middle Eastern Strategy to take the position of Director of Policy at Reddit, the eighth-most visited website in the United States. However, as with many intelligence agencies, it is unclear whether one truly “leaves” the Atlantic Council.

    It is not just Russia that is in NATO’s crosshairs. Last week, the Atlantic Council published an anonymous, 26,000-word report stating that their goal for China was regime change and advising President Biden to draw a number of “red lines” around it, beyond which the U.S. would respond militarily. Meanwhile, the head of STRATCOM, Admiral Charles A. Richard, wrote that the U.S. must prepare for a potential nuclear war with Beijing.

    Greater control

    The military escalation has been mirrored by an intensifying online propaganda war, where the U.S. has attempted to isolate China economically and stop advancing Chinese technologies such as Huawei’s 5G network, mobile phone, and semiconductor manufacturer Xiaomi, and video sharing app TikTok. Nimmo has played his part in ramping up suspicions of nefarious Chinese activity online, claiming the existence of a wide-ranging pro-Beijing bot network encouraging Americans to believe that China has handled the COVID-19 pandemic far better than the United States. That Americans might have come to that conclusion on their own appears not to have been considered.

    There is an enormous government effort to convince its population of the existence of (foreign) government efforts to manipulate their opinions online. In a massive case of projection, Western governmental organizations point the finger at their enemies, all the while securing greater access and control over the means of communication themselves, to the point where it is now difficult to distinguish where the deep state ends and the fourth estate begins. Nimmo’s move from NATO to NATO-aligned think tank to Facebook is just another example of this phenomenon. Perhaps the reason Nimmo is not looking for any Western influence operations online is that he is part of one.

    WhatsApp Delays Controversial Data Changes amid Public Outcry

    WhatsApp Delays Controversial Data Changes amid Public Outcry

    By Staff, Agencies 

    WhatsApp announced on Friday that it would postpone changes to its terms of service for at least three months amid an outcry the mobile messaging service would share confidential data with its parent company, Facebook.

    We are now delaying the date by which users will be required to review and agree to the terms,” the company said in a blog post. 

    The changes, which were supposed to come into effect on February 8, will now be pushed back to May 15.

    WhatsApp said the update would not “strengthen our ability to share data with Facebook”, but was primarily intended to help businesses communicate better with their customers through the platform. 

    “We know there has been confusion and misinformation about this update, and we want to help everyone understand our principles and the facts,” the company said.

    WhatsApp conversations will continue to be end-to-end encrypted and neither Facebook nor WhatsApp will be able to see these private messages, the company says.

    The announcement of the update last week caused panic and anger among many of its users, who claimed the messaging service was abandoning its core founding values regarding privacy rights. 

    The application has built its reputation in particular on data protection.

    Disbelief in human rationality; The Trump Factor

    November 08, 2020

    Disbelief in human rationality; The Trump Factor

    by Ghassan Kadi for the Saker Blog

    Disbelief is probably the best word to describe today’s world. Disbelief that in the short span of my own lifetime thus far, I have lived to witness black whitewashed to become white, and when it doesn’t turn white, brains are brainwashed to see it white.

    In am in disbelief that the political Left that I have grown to choose to either like or dislike is now owned and controlled by Western billionaires and oligarchs who have turned developing countries into slave labour camps.

    I am in disbelief that the former promise of liberalism has been turned by the new-Left to become a mass movement that is devoid of free-thinking, one that literally coerces one to unconditionally accept it and follow its agenda without any questions or else face persecution, humiliation and slander.

    Love or hate Castro and Guevara, I am in total disbelief that their political heirs, as it were, are Greta Thunberg, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, the main benefactor of whom is George Soros; just to name a few.

    I am in disbelief that decent people have condoned violent protests and looting and considered them as rightful civil rights activities.

    I am in total disbelief that rudeness, thought-policing, political correctness, hypocrisy and double standards have become the new norms.

    And now that Biden has illegally declared himself a winner, I am in disbelief that many of his supporters do not seem to care as to whether or not he has indeed committed electoral fraud or not despite allegations that indicate that ballots might have been fiddled with and which at least warrants an investigation. They seem happy to get rid of Trump even if this meant that fraud was actually committed.

    I am in disbelief that world leaders are breaking the standards of political protocol and congratulating Biden before he is formally declared a winner.

    I am in disbelief that social media giants like Facebook and Twitter are allowed to censor personal opinion and make their own rules on what constitutes freedom of expression and what doesn’t. Even more, I am in disbelief that those giants are free to decide to ban publishing reports about allegations of corruption in the Biden family camp because they have not been legally and formally substantiated, but at the same time promote and publish unsubstantiated accusations about Trump and his supporters.

    I am in disbelief that it became illegal to prescribe and sell hydroxychloroquine even though there are indications that it can treat COVID-19.

    I am in disbelief that intelligent, well-meaning people, including many personal friends have believed the myriad of unsubstantiated stories that have been fabricated about Trump ever since he was elected. I am in disbelief that they believed in the Russiagate fiasco and that upon reflection did not feel any remorse when they were proved to be a lie. I am in disbelief that those who fabricated the story were not prosecuted.

    I am in disbelief that the BLM movement appears to blame Trump for centuries of racial injustice in America. I am in disbelief that those same people do not look at Obama’s track record on race issues.

    I am in disbelief that many mature and intelligent men and women believe that Greta is an expert on climate all the while ignoring what many eminent scientists are saying to the contrary. I am in disbelief that Trump is blamed for that so-called ‘Climate Change’ and that Biden truly believes that he is able to reach zero CO2 emission.

    When I was growing up, reform and justice meant iconic issues such as freedom of worship, free speech, free education and medication. I am in disbelief to see that the new definition has morphed into the ‘rights’ of late term abortion and school children having gender change surgeries.

    I am in disbelief that the same West that once mocked the use of the term ‘democratic’ in the rhetoric of the USSR and the names of entities like the German Democratic Republic finds itself at ease kicking democracy in the guts and have the so-called American Democratic Party ruled by a new ‘species’ of dictators and thugs.

    I am in disbelief that the new definition of being progressive does not include decency and respect and that parents no longer teach their children simple rules like giving up their bus seats to the elderly.

    I am in disbelief that the impact of COVID-19 and ‘alleged’ loss of life was blamed on Trump. I say ‘alleged’ loss of life not because I believe that the virus does not exist; it does, but because I have seen enough evidence to substantiate that the figures we have been presented with were highly exaggerated and that many people died of causes other than COVD-19 but were counted as COVID-19 victims; just to make Trump look bad. To this effect, if Trump does initiate a court challenge to the election results and loses, then all that Biden has to do is to start publishing the real figures of deaths caused by COVID-19, and that alone will make him look like a hero who managed to turn around the figures.

    I must say that as a Syrian-Lebanese, Trump has been horrible for Syria. He did not manage to contain Erdogan. He sanctioned the theft of Syrian oil. He allowed for Syrian crops to be burnt. He intensified sanctions against Syria with his Caesar Act. For the above and other reasons, Syrians should be rejoicing to see him leave even though Biden and his team of Democrats have been beating the drums of war, but if they draw first blood, it will be a war they cannot win. In more ways than one, a military escalation in Syria now, one that does not expand to become an all-out war between America and Russia, may break the stalemate and create the foreground for moving forward in a new direction. In other words, as far as Syria is concerned, Biden can inadvertently be a better president than Trump. Time will tell.

    I therefore have real, concrete and thought-out reasons to dislike Trump and even loath him. But I find myself in total disbelief when I ask many people the reason, the real reason, for which they hate Trump; they are unable to provide a single one. Some revert to his looks and/or his vocabulary, but come on, is this enough for them to hate him with the passion they do? I am in disbelief that they echo like parrots the words of the media, knowing from previous experiences that the only thing that the media is good at is lying. I am in disbelief that seemingly rational people are increasingly finding it easy and plausible for them to adopt very strong views, make loud and uncouth comments, without taking the effort of fact-finding.

    I am in disbelief that the moment one speaks of fact-finding-based rationality, he/she is either ‘accused’ of being a Trumpie or a denialist. You are either 100% with them or against them. I am in disbelief that they do not see the grey lines in any given argument.

    The perception of Trump by the world reminds me of that of President Assad in the Arab World a bit; not that a real comparison can be drawn between the two men. Many Arabs who hate Assad cannot provide one single legitimate reason for hating him, but when squeezed in a corner, they admit that they dislike him because he is an Alawite.

    The planners of the anti-Trump campaign have worked very hard in order to demonize him and create a multi-faceted global anti-Trump hysteria. They planned to put together a coalition of haters of different persuasions united only by their hatred to Trump; again in a manner akin to how the ‘War on Syria’ started.

    The public both within America and abroad has been bombarded with stories about Trump, portraying him as the public enemy number one at different levels and on many issues.

    The Chinese have a great interest to see Trump go because Trump is a tough trade deal negotiator.

    The EU nations, and NATO members to be specific, also have a great interest to see Trump go because he forced them to make larger contributions to the NATO budget.

    And even though Trump canceled the Iran nuclear deal, endorsed Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and facilitated peace settlements with three Arab states, the Israelis have no qualms about seeing Trump go because they know for a fact that Biden will not waver in his support to Israel. To Israel and the Israel lobby, the identity of the resident of the White House is totally immaterial.

    Erdogan will be happy to see Trump go because he knows that Biden will be a much softer putty to mould. Biden is more than likely to give him a free hand dealing with the Kurds than Trump ever did.

    The huge American industrialists and globalists will be happy to see Trump go because they do not wish to repatriate their factories and create American jobs. They do not want to pay higher salaries and higher taxes. They are totally indifferent as to how far and wide the rust belt expands; for as long as their companies are making profit having factories overseas.

    Big Pharma is keen to see Trump go because it is tipped to make hundreds of billions of dollars selling vaccines.

    Last but not least, the Deep State wishes for Trump to go. No former American President has ever dared to even mention the term ‘Deep State’ let alone take charge against it. I find myself in a state of disbelief because the alleged foot soldiers who are meant to stand up against the ‘Deep State’, ie the Left, are the ones taking charge against Trump. Work this one out.

    Even the old guards at the GOP, the Republican Party are against Trump; because they are part-and-parcel of the Deep State, they have their fingers in the pie, and Trump does not represent them. In reality, in both of his election and re-election bids, Trump ran more like an independent than a GOP candidate. History will possibly mark him as the American President who was closest to being an independent candidate.

    With all of the above said, I can fully understand why some have good reasons to dislike Trump and even hate him, and as mentioned above, I can have my own reasons. I can equally understand why some can be shortsighted enough to wish to see him go without giving much thought to who is to replace him. But for anyone to believe that Joe Biden is the man to restore America’s position in the world and make the world a better place, than unsubstantiated wishful thinking is the most polite manner to describe such aspirations.

    Notwithstanding all of the above, the world is undergoing an inevitable polar shift and this is now unstoppable. The West is losing its technical edge and financial prowess as both are moving east. And even if Trump wins his touted court battle and is declared a winner, changes the constitution and gets re-elected for ten more terms, he will not be able to reverse this torrent even if the Democrats worked wholeheartedly with him.

    If Biden ends up in the White House, he may and probably will attempt to gain initial support by publishing real COVID-19 death related figures as mentioned above. But what will he be able to conjure up in order to be able to save face when it comes to public debt, unemployment and other huge problems that America and the rest of the world face?

    The cracks within America are sadly widening and the underlying foundations are crumbling, and if Biden is foolish enough to take the war gamble as a way out of the financial dilemma that he will have to deal with if he becomes president and squanders a few more trillion on a new war somewhere in the world, he will hasten the financial collapse. If he warms up to China and escalates his anti-Russian rhetoric to the extent of creating war with Russia, then God help us all. I suppose Greta and her minions will blame Russia for the nuclear fallout, provided that any of them and us will still be around to talk about it.

    Whether Trump stays or goes, he has definitely and inadvertently accelerated the events in the age of disbelief. The word disbelief was once associated with heresy, but now, at least in my dictionary, it refers to the disbelief in the current state of human rationality.

    I can go on and on but enough is said. With all the above reasons to have disbelief, I wonder if there is still any benefit in writing articles like this one and trying to talk people into having some common sense.

    The world is quickly and steadfastly approaching a rather frightening stage of mass hysteria of Biblical proportions. Rational people now feel that they are surrounded by lunatics, and yet some say we ‘ain’t seen nothing yet’.

    May God have mercy on humanity, because humanity did not have mercy on itself.

    4 years of anti-Trumpism shaping MSM vote coverage, but expect long fight

    Source

    Saturday, 07 November 2020 9:22 PM  [ Last Update: Saturday, 07 November 2020 9:22 PM ]

    US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
    “Trumpism”, a cartoon by The Economist

    By Ramin Mazaheri and crossposted with PressTV

    4 years of anti-Trumpism shaping MSM vote coverage, but expect long fight
    * Ramin Mazaheri is currently covering the US elections. He is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

    With Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 US presidential votes, you will probably not hear pro-Trump views in the mainstream media for four years, but 70 million Trump votes show they do exist.

    Last night I dreamt that I asked Trump what it was like to be the world’s most insulted man over the last four years?

    This piqued his interest and he granted me a walk-and-talk interview. While I waited for him to be free I ate pizza – the food of variety and routine entertainment. When he became available we walked to a car, marveling that the secret service was going to let us travel without them. Trump would drive, which in dream logic means I think he is in charge.

    I had more good journalistic questions for Trump, but I couldn’t remember any others when I woke up.

    If the United States corporate media could insult Trump for four years then we should assume there is the same bias and animosity in their coverage of the current election crisis.

    As a journalist I must account for this and realize they routinely give only one side of the story. In short: it’s clear they still want Trump out by any means necessary, which is why their mainstream journalists have done all they could to give the impression that it’s all over but the counting.

    It’s not.

    Trump’s demeanor in my dream was one of annoyance changing into focused determination – one cannot permanently put down someone with an ego as massive as Trump’s. Similarly, you cannot insult Trumpers because they truly believe their Americanness makes them totally impermeable to serious denigration. This arrogance is the psychological foundation of imperialism – that Western culture can never embarrass itself enough to jeopardize the idea of their natural superiority over others. Anti-Trumpers have this arrogance in the same magnitude, but express it slightly differently.

    One cannot understand American political culture if one does not at least occasionally tune into right-wing AM talk radio. This is the only place to find the Christian conservatives who compose one-third of the country (polls show 50% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents call themselves “moderately” or “highly religious”). Due to fanatical Western secularism these people are essentially shut out of mainstream political discourse, but their massive numbers have allowed them to carve out this niche on an antiquated medium.

    Every decent journalist should already know this. The US has very few of those (whereas the Iranian press is vibrant and demanding).

    This explains why we hear so much talk in the American press about the pernicious influence of “online disinformation” such as the highly-publicized “Stop the Steal” page on Facebook. The out-of-touch US journalist class is totally tech-focused and thus mistakenly believes the primary threat to their narrative dominance is online.

    If they would simply turn on the good old radio it would be shocking clear: “Stop the Steal” is the tip of the iceberg and not the work of Iranian or Russian trolls: there is a huge sector of US society which does not believe this election is fair and transparent enough, and they are focused, politically-involved and have the same analytical skills God gave all humans.

    You can take down Facebook pages, but the massive audience which right-wing AM radio has enjoyed for decades will still be there. The US MSM has always ignored this medium, mistakenly hoping it would just go away, and thus Iranian and Russian trolls are the culprit.

    You couldn’t hear pro-Trump views in the MSM for four years, but 70 million Trump votes shows they actually do exist.

    This massive audience is incredibly upset, and on November 4, 2020 they became self-assured that they are not an historical anomaly. Trumpers are currently more emboldened and politically justified than ever and… you expect them to take a knee on their undoubtedly unusual presidential vote? Because the mainstream media says so?

    The victory of the “Trumpian Republican” over a media-overhyped “Blue Wave” is totally confirmed, though their figurehead may not survive. That makes them skeptical and upset in massive numbers, but this voice is blocked. This is why if you only tune into mainstream media everything is exactly as it has been for four years: Trump must leave office, and they marshal a ton of experts who prove it.

    But turn to the one media source where Trumpers actually feel comfortable talking with other Trumpers and you will find they are also marshalling a ton of experts who are howling with indignation not at the mistreatment of their figurehead but at the way mail-in ballots and questionable 2020 political decisions have called the integrity of US vote structures into question.

    Trump is a figurehead, but the elections verify that Trumpism is a real movement. It is based on the idea that America is not the world’s greatest country but the greatest country in the history of mankind. However, the Washington Swamp has corrupted it. Their essential stance is that the November 3rd vote is fine – it’s the people who ran that vote who cannot be trusted and whose work must now be verified.

    Trumpers do not want major structural changes – Democrats are more inclined to installing semi-progressive changes – they want different people in office, and (like every other country) people who are more openly reflective of their worldview. Corruption is the primary wellspring of Trumpism, not White supremacism.

    Trump gained with every ethnic cohort and gender except White males, after all. Any journalist who keeps talking about White supremacism – as the primary ethos of Trumpism, not as a longstanding and genuine structural problem which includes Democrats as well – is totally wasting your time. Incredibly, there are many of these, and they are the best-paid ones.

    Here’s the problem: unless the vote is not just totally counted but also calmly litigated and vetted – precisely because there has been a drastic changing to the 2020 vote forced by the pandemic, the executive orders of state governors and overreaching local officials – half the voting population is going to have major resentment and continued grounds for belief in the corruption of American officials (again, because they believe the structures sent by the archangels Jefferson, Washington and (ugh) Hamilton cannot possibly be at fault).

    So Trump and Trumpers – who were not even browbeaten by four years of anti-Trump bias – will not be browbeaten into calling off the vote clarification efforts.

    This notion is being trumpeted all over their media, but you have to know where to find them in a very stratified and biased US media. As a journalist I must objectively report (disclaimer: I did not support either candidate) that they sound serious as hell.

    Not serious as hell as in right-wing militias shooting up Main Street – that was an absurd distraction with the backing of zero historical precedent – but serious in that they can marshal their own lawyers, analysts, professors, local officials, state officials, poll watchers and regular Joes who all can intellectually defend the idea that they are not going to accept the presidential vote without assurances that it was totally fair. In my journalistic view: they meet the American standard of “reasonable doubt” to merit judicial checking.

    And what’s wrong with that? What’s Christian Conservative about demanding modern vote justice via checks and balances? What’s wrong is that it threatens the 1%’s desires.

    Remember 2000? Jay Leno’s nightly mocking and the quick trashing of lower class votes?

    In 2000 the mood in America was one of total impatience – this is because the imperialist US abhors a vacuum. Somebody must be in charge, if only so they know whom to slavishly follow.

    By mid-December Al Gore foolishly quit – denying modern political justice to thousands of Black Floridians –  for what he thought was the good of the nation; to end the perceived nightmare of a very short-term power vacuum. That’s not going to happen this time around.

    The US mainstream media is doing all they can to make it happen, but Trumpers have their own media which is mainstream enough to them, and they sure don’t sound like this will be over soon. At least – not to this journalist. Expect the impatience to kick in soon, which is hysterical (the word of 2020), because the inauguration isn’t until late January.

    Trump cares mainly about himself, not the nation, which is another reason it’s different this time around.

    The 2000 election had two key effects: alienating many Americans from politics while highly polarizing the ones who remained involved. Yet another reason it’s different this time around – less patriotism and more zero-sum game polarization.

    In my dream Trump was driving because he truly is in charge – it’s widely acknowledged here that the Trump family will hold the most sway in the Republican Party win or lose. Donald Trump Jr. looks like the heir apparent: he definitely has the media savvy, is all over Fox News (which I assume few “objective” US journalists ever tune into either) and, crucially, his father’s combativeness towards the US establishment. Trumpian Republicans are a force to be reckoned with and will change the country’s politics – however, I contended here that the duopoly’s quicksand will swallow them up and dilute them.

    For Iran there is no need to overreact – America has been anti-Iranian Revolution since forever. Trumpians are not original in their pro-Zionism. Who knows what Trumpism will really morph into – maybe their reluctance towards more endless wars will enlighten US foreign policy?

    The Donald is still in the driver’s seat, but in my dream it’s notable that we didn’t drive anywhere. Bad omen for him from this news gypsy.


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    Social media’s erasure of Palestinians is a grim warning for our future

    Jonathan Cook

    26 October 2020 12:39 UTC 

    Facebook, Google and Twitter are not neutral platforms. They control the digital public square to aid the powerful – and can cancel any of us overnight

    Palestinian critics say Facebook has become ‘another face of occupation’ (AFP/File photo)

    There is a growing unease that the decisions taken by social media corporations can have a harmful impact on our lives. These platforms, despite enjoying an effective monopoly over the virtual public square, have long avoided serious scrutiny or accountability. 

    In a new Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma, former Silicon Valley executives warn of a dystopian future. Google, Facebook and Twitter have gathered vast quantities of data on us to better predict and manipulate our desires. Their products are gradually rewiring our brains to addict us to our screens and make us more pliable to advertisers. The result, as we are consigned to discrete ideological echo chambers, is ever greater social and political polarisation and turmoil.

    Western publics are waking up very belatedly to the undemocratic power social media wields over them

    As if to underline the ever-tightening grip these tech corporations exert on our lives, Facebook and Twitter decided this month to openly interfere in the most contentious US presidential election in living memory. They censored a story that could harm the electoral prospects of Joe Biden, the Democratic challenger to incumbent President Donald Trump. 

    Given that nearly half of Americans receive their news chiefly via Facebook, the ramifications of such a decision on our political life were not hard to interpret. In excising any debate about purported corruption and influence-peddling by Biden’s son, Hunter, carried out in his father’s name, these social media platforms stepped firmly into the role of authoritarian arbiter of what we are allowed to say and know. 

    ‘Monopoly gatekeeper’

    Western publics are waking up very belatedly to the undemocratic power social media wields over them. But if we wish to understand where this ultimately leads, there is no better case study than the very different ways Israelis and Palestinians have been treated by the tech giants. 

    The treatment of Palestinians online serves as a warning that it would be foolish indeed to regard these globe-spanning corporations as politically neutral platforms, and their decisions as straightforwardly commercial. This is to doubly misunderstand their role.How Facebook threatens vulnerable Muslim communities Read More »

    Social media firms are now effectively monopolistic communication grids – similar to the electricity and water grids, or the phone network of a quarter of a century ago. Their decisions are therefore no longer private matters, but instead have huge social, economic and political consequences. That is part of the reason why the US justice department launched a lawsuit last week against Google for acting as a “monopoly gatekeeper for the internet”. 

    Google, Facebook and Twitter have no more a right to arbitrarily decide who and what they host on their sites than telecoms companies once had a right to decide whether a customer should be allowed a phone line. But unlike the phone company, social media corporations control not just the means of communication, but the content too. They can decide, as the Hunter Biden story shows, whether their customers get to participate in vital public debates about who leads them.

    The Hunter Biden decision is as if the phone company of old not only listened in to conversations, but was able to cut the line if it did not like the politics of any particular customer. 

    In fact, it is even worse than that. Social media now deliver the news to large sections of the population. Their censoring of a story is more akin to the electricity company turning off the power to everyone’s homes for the duration of a TV broadcast to ensure no one can see it.

    Censorship by stealth

    The tech giants are the wealthiest, most powerful corporations in human history, their riches measured in hundreds of billions, and now trillions, of dollars. But the argument that they are apolitical – aiming simply to maximise profits – was never true. 

    They have every reason to promote politicians who side with them by committing not to break up their monopolies or regulate their activities, or, better still, by promising to weaken controls that might prevent them from growing even more fabulously rich and powerful. 

    Social media algorithms help drive decisions on content removal (AFP/File photo)
    Social media algorithms help drive decisions on content removal (AFP/File photo)

    Conversely, the tech giants also have every incentive to use the digital space to penalise and marginalise political activists who urge greater regulation either of their activities, or of the marketplace more generally. 

    Unlike their explicit deletion of the Hunter Biden story, which incensed the Trump administration, social media corporations more usually censor by stealth. That power is wielded through algorithms, the secret codes that decide whether something or someone appears in a search result or on a social media feed. If they desire, these tech titans can cancel any one of us overnight. 

    This is not just political paranoia. The disproportionate impact of algorithm changes on “left-leaning” websites – those most critical of the neoliberal system that has enriched social media corporations – was highlighted this month by the Wall Street Journal. 

    Wrong kinds of speech

    Politicians increasingly understand the power of social media, which is why they want to harness it as best they can for their own ends. Since the shock of Trump’s election victory in late 2016, Facebook, Google and Twitter executives have regularly found themselves dragged before legislative oversight committees in the US and UK.

    There, they are ritually rebuked by politicians for creating a crisis of “fake news” – a crisis that, in fact, long predated social media, as the deceptions of US and UK officials in linking Saddam Hussein to 9/11 and claiming that Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction” testify to only too clearly. 

    The online fate of Palestinians points to a future in which the already-powerful will gain ever greater control over what we know and what we are allowed to think

    Politicians have also begun holding internet corporations responsible for “foreign interference” in western elections – typically blamed on Russia – despite a dearth of serious evidence for most of their allegations

    Political pressure is being exerted not to make the corporations more transparent and accountable, but to steer them towards enforcing even more assiduously restrictions on the wrong kinds of speech – whether it be violent racists on the right or critics of capitalism and western government policy on the left.

    For that reason, social media’s original image as a neutral arena of information sharing, or as a tool for widening public debate and increasing civic engagement, or as a discourse leveller between the rich and powerful and weak and marginalised, grows ever more hollow.

    Separate digital rights

    Nowhere are ties between tech and state officials more evident than in their dealings with Israel. This has led to starkly different treatment of digital rights for Israelis and Palestinians. The online fate of Palestinians points to a future in which the already-powerful will gain ever greater control over what we know and what we are allowed to think, and over who is visible and who is erased from public life.

    Israel was well-positioned to exploit social media before most other states had recognised its importance in manipulating popular attitudes and perceptions. For decades, Israel had, in part, outsourced an official programme of hasbara – or state propaganda – to its own citizens and supporters abroad. As new digital platforms emerged, these partisans were only too willing to expand their role.Facebook accused of censoring Palestinians under pretext of fighting hate speech Read More »

    Israel had another advantage. After the 1967 occupation of the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza, Israel began crafting a narrative of state victimhood by redefining antisemitism to suggest it was now a particular affliction of the left, not the right. So-called “new antisemitism” did not target Jews, but related instead to criticism of Israel and support for Palestinian rights. 

    This highly dubious narrative proved easy to condense into social media-friendly soundbites. 

    Israel still routinely describes any Palestinian resistance to its belligerent occupation or its illegal settlements as “terrorism”, and any support from other Palestinians as “incitement”. International solidarity with Palestinians is characterised as “delegitimisation” and equated with antisemitism. 

    ‘Flood the internet’

    As far back as 2008, it emerged that a pro-Israel media lobby group, Camera, had been orchestrating covert efforts by Israel loyalists to infiltrate the online encyclopedia Wikipedia to edit entries and “rewrite history” in ways favourable to Israel. Soon afterwards, politician Naftali Bennett helped organise courses teaching “Zionist editing” of Wikipedia. 

    In 2011, the Israeli army declared social media a new “battleground” and assigned “cyber warriors” to wage combat online. In 2015, Israel’s foreign ministry set up an additional command centre to recruit young, tech-savvy former soldiers from 8200, the army’s cyber intelligence unit, to lead the battle online. Many have gone on to establish hi-tech firms whose spying software became integral to the functioning of social media.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a 2019 cyber industry conference in Tel Aviv (AFP)
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a 2019 cyber industry conference in Tel Aviv (AFP)

    An app launched in 2017, Act.IL, mobilised Israel partisans to “swarm” sites hosting either criticism of Israel or support for Palestinians. The initiative, supported by Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, was headed by veterans of Israeli intelligence services. 

    According to the Forward, a US Jewish weekly, Israel’s intelligence services liaise closely with Act.IL and request help in getting content, including videos, removed by social media platforms. The Forward observed shortly after the app was rolled out: “Its work so far offers a startling glimpse of how it could shape the online conversations about Israel without ever showing its hand.”

    Sima Vaknin-Gil, a former Israeli military censor who was then assigned to Israel’s strategic affairs ministry, said the goal was to “create a community of fighters” whose job was to “flood the internet” with Israeli propaganda

    Willing allies

    With advantages measured in personnel numbers and ideological zeal, in tech and propaganda experience, and in high-level influence in Washington and Silicon Valley, Israel was soon able to turn social media platforms into willing allies in its struggle to marginalise Palestinians online.  

    In 2016, Israel’s justice ministry was boasting that Facebook, Google and YouTube were “complying with up to 95 percent of Israeli requests to delete content”, almost all of it Palestinian. The social media companies did not confirm this figure.

    The Anti-Defamation League, a pro-Israel lobby group with a history of smearing Palestinian organisations and Jewish groups critical of Israel, established a “command centre” in Silicon Valley in 2017 to monitor what it termed “online hate speech”. That same year, it was appointed a “trusted flagger” organisation for YouTube, meaning its reporting of content for removal was prioritised. 

    Tech corporations are now the undeclared, profit-driven arbiters of our speech rights. But their commitment is not to open and vigorous public debate

    At a 2018 conference in Ramallah hosted by 7amleh, a Palestinian online advocacy group, local Google and Facebook representatives barely hid their priorities. It was important to their bottom line to avoid upsetting governments with the power to constrain their commercial activities – even if those governments were systematically violating international law and human rights. In this battle, the Palestinian Authority carries no weight at all. Israel presides over Palestinians’ communications and internet infrastructure. It controls the Palestinian economy and its key resources.

    Since 2016, Israel’s justice ministry has reportedly suppressed tens of thousands of Palestinian posts. In a completely opaque process, Israel’s own algorithms detect content it deems “extremist” and then requests its removal. Hundreds of Palestinians have been arrested by Israel over social media posts, chilling online activity. 

    Human Rights Watch warned late last year that Israel and Facebook were often blurring the distinction between legitimate criticism of Israel and incitement. Conversely, as Israel has shifted ever further rightwards, the Netanyahu government and social media platforms have not stemmed a surge of posts in Hebrew promoting anti-Palestinian incitement and calling for violence. 7amleh has noted that Israelis post racist or inciteful material against Palestinians roughly every minute. 

    News agencies shut down

    As well as excising tens of thousands of Palestinian posts, Israel has persuaded Facebook to take down the accounts of major Palestinian news agencies and leading journalists. 

    By 2018, the Palestinian public had grown so incensed that a campaign of online protests and calls to boycott Facebook were led under the hashtag “FBcensorsPalestine”. In Gaza, demonstrators accused the company of being “another face of occupation”. Leila Khaled shutdown shows how corporate tech is enemy of free speechRead More »

    Activism in solidarity with Palestinians in the US and Europe has been similarly targeted. Ads for films, as well as the films themselves, have been taken down and websites removed. 

    Last month, Zoom, a video conferencing site that has boomed during the Covid-19 pandemic, joined YouTube and Facebook in censoring a webinar organised by San Francisco State University because it included Leila Khaled, an icon of the Palestinian resistance movement now in her seventies.

    On Friday, Zoom blocked a second scheduled appearance by Khaled – this time in a University of Hawaii webinar on censorship – as well as a spate of other events across the US to protest against her cancellation by the site. A statement concerning the day of action said campuses were “joining in the campaign to resist corporate and university silencing of Palestinian narratives and Palestinian voices”.

    The decision, a flagrant attack on academic freedom, was reportedly taken after the social media groups were heavily pressured by the Israeli government and anti-Palestinian lobby groups, which labelled the webinar “antisemitic”.

    Wiped off the map

    The degree to which the tech giants’ discrimination against Palestinians is structural and entrenched has been underscored by the years-long struggle of activists both to include Palestinian villages on online maps and GPS services, and to name the Palestinian territories as “Palestine”, in accordance with Palestine’s recognition by the United Nations. 

    That campaign has largely floundered, even though more than a million people have signed a petition in protest. Both Google and Apple have proved highly resistant to these appeals; hundreds of Palestinian villages are missing from their maps of the occupied West Bank, while Israel’s illegal settlements are identified in detail, accorded the same status as the Palestinian communities that are shown. 

    New houses are built in the Nokdim settlement in the occupied West Bank on 13 October (AFP)
    New houses being built in the Nokdim settlement in the occupied West Bank on 13 October (AFP)

    The occupied Palestinian territories are subordinated under the name “Israel”, while Jerusalem is presented as Israel’s unified and undisputed capital, just as Israel claims – making the occupation of the Palestinian section of the city invisible. 

    These are far from politically neutral decisions. Israeli governments have long pursued a Greater Israel ideology that requires driving Palestinians off their lands. This year, that dispossession programme was formalised with plans, backed by the Trump administration, to annex swathes of the West Bank. 

    Google and Apple are effectively colluding in this policy by helping to erase Palestinians’ visible presence in their homeland. As two Palestinian scholars, George Zeidan and Haya Haddad, recently noted: “When Google and Apple erase Palestinian villages from their navigation, but proudly mark settlements, the effect is complicity in the Israeli nationalist narrative.” 

    Out of the shadows

    Israel’s ever-tightening relationship with social media corporations has played out largely behind the scenes. But these ties moved decisively out of the shadows in May, when Facebook announced that its new oversight board would include Emi Palmor, one of the architects of Israel’s online repression policy towards Palestinians. 

    Palestinians know only too well how easy it is for technology to diminish and disappear the voices of the weak and oppressed, and to amplify the voices of the powerful

    The board will issue precedent-setting rulings to help shape Facebook’s and Instagram’s censorship and free speech policies. But as the former director-general of the justice ministry, Palmor has shown no commitment to online free speech. Quite the reverse: she worked hand-in-hand with the tech giants to censor Palestinian posts and shut down Palestinian news websites. She oversaw the transformation of her department into what the human rights organisation Adalah has called the Orwellian “Ministry of Truth”. 

    Tech corporations are now the undeclared, profit-driven arbiters of our speech rights. But their commitment is not to open and vigorous public debate, online transparency or greater civic engagement. Their only commitment is to the maintenance of a business environment in which they avoid any regulation by major governments infringing on their right to make money.

    The appointment of Palmor perfectly illustrates the corrupting relationship between government and social media. Palestinians know only too well how easy it is for technology to diminish and disappear the voices of the weak and oppressed, and to amplify the voices of the powerful. 

    Many more of us could soon find ourselves sharing the online fate of Palestinians.

    The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.Jonathan CookJonathan Cook, a British journalist based in Nazareth since 2001, is the the author of three books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is a past winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His website and blog can be found at: http://www.jonathan-cook.net

    From a Wealthy Socialite to an Israeli Govt Censor, Facebook’s New “Free Speech Court” Is Anything but Independent

    By Raul Diego

    Source

    Freedom of speech on the Internet is all but extinct, and on the eve of the 2020 US elections, a de facto “free speech court” is going to make sure it never comes back. On Facebook at least.

    Days away from the most polarized electoral contest in American history, social media companies like Facebook have vowed to censor any voices which they and their partners in the federal government consider inconvenient. According to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook is ready to implement election information strategies that have been in the works for years.

    Company spokesman Andy Stone told the WSJ that the social media giant will be applying the “lessons” learned from previous elections in accordance with the designs of “hired experts” and vague references to “new teams,” who are leveraging their “experience across different areas to prepare for various scenarios.”

    Mark Zuckerberg’s de facto monopoly over online peer-to-peer communication tools has given Facebook an inordinate amount of influence over the political narratives at both national and regional levels, which it has shown a willingness exercise with topics like the Philippines and Palestine.

    Last week, the company took a major step in solidifying its grip over the content purveyed on its platform with the official launch of the Facebook Oversight board. A body that is to function like a ‘Supreme Court’ for chat rooms, if you will, with the power to review any decisions regarding post removals or deplatforming and to make policy recommendations. Members have been drawn from “law experts… rights advocates” and journalists from around the world. The oversight board currently boasts 20 members.

    Four members – two of which have extensive experience in the U.S. judicial system – serve as the board’s co-chairs and were handpicked by Facebook, according to The Guardian. Other board members include former Danish prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who is also a co-chair and is perhaps only remembered outside of Denmark for her selfie faux pas at Mandela’s funeral in 2013 when she was photographed taking a group photo with Barack Obama and David Cameron during the commemoration.

    Judges of little character

    Thorning-Schmidt’s insensitive moment at the laying-in-state of one of the most significant figures of the 20th century may be less damning to her presence on a social media oversight board than the tax-evasion scandal involving her husband – a British MP –, which ended up costing her re-election. When confronted over the accusations, she retorted that if her intention had really been to evade taxes, she would have done so “much more elegantly.” Despite these questionable instances and her reputation as an “extravagant” woman with expensive tastes, Thorning-Schmidt remains among the least objectionable figures on the oversight board.

    Emi Palmor, for example, presents a much more alarming profile. One of 16 non-chair members of the board, Palmor is a former General Director of the Israeli Ministry of Justice, she was directly responsible for the removal of tens of thousands of Palestinian posts from Facebook. Before being fired from that job, Palmor had created the so-called “Internet Referral Unit” at the ministry; a cybersecurity team that deliberately targeted and took down the aforementioned content, and whose nomination to the Facebook oversight board was loudly protested by pro-Palestinian advocacy groups back in May.

    Palmor posing with Israeli Prime Ministers Benjamin Netanyahu in 2016. Photo | Israeli Government Press Office

    Inviting a literal state censor from a country with such an atrocious record of oppression and overt ethnic cleansing policies to serve in a supervisory role at one of the largest content networks in the world, should be reason enough for concern. Perhaps, even reason enough to call for the board’s dissolution given that such an egregious choice of personnel reveals an unacceptable political bias in an ostensibly impartial quasi-judicial body.

    A clear agenda

    A look at the other co-chairs on the oversight board leaves no doubt as to which interests Facebook intends to further through its sham social media traffic court. It might not be a surprise to learn that an American company would tap American legal minds to form part of a dispute resolution body, as Jamal Greene, an oversight board co-chair, describes it.

    Greene is a Dwight Professor of Law Columbia Law School who served as an aide to Sen. Kamala Harris during the highly-controversial Senate confirmation hearings of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Prior to this, he was a law clerk for late Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who wrote the 1997 Internet decency controls decision that shot down legislation that sought to regulate online speech. An auspicious sign, perhaps, but tempered by Steven’s own pragmatist views on free speech, leaving the door open to context when protecting the “public interest” surrounding the first amendment.

    Sitting alongside Greene and Helle Thorning-Schmidt on the oversight board’s co-chairmanship is Michael McConnell; a constitutional law scholar who served seven years as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit court. McConnell wrote the dissenting opinion in the seminal “Ten Commandments” case, which centered around the government’s authority to decide which monuments can be erected in a public park.

    Judge McConnell, who has been floated as a potential Supreme Court nominee more than once and is “highly regarded for his writing on church-state law,” argued in favor of the government’s discretionary powers, claiming that private donations to public facilities – like the ten commandments monument in a public park in Utah, that spurred the case – became “government speech” and, therefore within the purview of governmental authority.

    Rounding out the co-chair suite is Catalina Botero Marino, a Colombian attorney and former special rapporteur for freedom of expression at the Organization of American States (OAS); an organization well-known for being Washington’s mouthpiece for D.C.-aligned policy in Latin America.

    Botero expressed her position on the very topic she will be dealing with first-hand in her new position as co-chair of the Facebook oversight board in a 2019 paper titled “Towards an Internet Free of Censorship: standards, contexts, and lessons from the Inter-American Human Rights System.” In it, Botero reveals why she was tapped to join the make-shift panel of social media judges when she defines freedom of expression as “individual and collective self-government” and highlights her “utmost concern” over the “deliberately false circulation of information, created and put into circulation with the purpose of deceiving the public” in electoral processes.

    Has the US been chastised into reform, or is 4 more years of Trump needed?

    Monday, 26 October 2020 9:25 AM  [ Last Update: Tuesday, 27 October 2020 5:30 AM ]

    US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
    US President Donald Trump leaves the polling station after casting his ballot at the Palm Beach County Public Library, during early voting for the November 3 election, in West Palm Beach, Florida, on October 24, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

    Has the US been chastised into reform, or is 4 more years of Trump needed?

    By Ramin Mazaheri

    Ramin Mazaheri is currently covering the US elections. He is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

    There is a world of difference between “make it stop” and “make it change”, no?

    In 2016 we all knew that a Trump victory would undoubtedly be terrible for Iran, Cuba and Palestine – that has been proven true.

    However, being a “one-issue voter” is never advisable, but especially for those voting in the country which has more global influence than any other.

    The question for those in those three countries is this: why would a victory by Joe Biden herald a major change in US policy – not merely a change from post-2016 policy, but from the United States’ policy since 1979, 1959 or 1948?

    Trump-era sanctions are illegal, inhumane and war, indeed, but it would be overreaction to say they were something altogether new. Washington’s policy towards all three of these nations – undoubtedly the martyrs of the international community – has been the unbroken same for many decades: destruction of the patriotic leadership elements in those countries. (However, Palestinians can accurately add that supporting total genocide against all Palestinians is also an undeniably clear policy of Washington.)

    Why would Biden reverse these policies? A temporary relenting is not a reversal.

    Is not reversal the goal, or is merely “less worse” the democratic majority desire in these three nations as regards their foreign policy with America?

    Worryingly, it should be assumed that Biden would certainly be more successful in galvanising Western support for “new” Iranian sections than Trump, who alienated America’s allies, if Biden chose to do so. What if these sanctions are thus even more comprehensive than the Trump era’s “US alone” sanctions?

    When it comes to these three anti-imperialism-championing, leftist-inspired nations we must consider the “hope” aspect – Barack Obama won on this idea precisely because it is so critical to consider: is it possible that a Trump finally freed of election concerns could perhaps do what he was elected to do in 2016 – break with the Washington “Swamp” and all of its horrors and murders?

    The world notes that Trump is – without question – the least belligerent elected president in the modern era (Gerald Ford was not elected). Considering that prior to WWII the US was still engaged in wars of imperialism in North America and beyond, and also that prior to the Civil War the US was engaged in slavery, it is not an exaggeration to say that Trump has been one of America’s least foreign-warmongering presidents. This sounds preposterous, but American history is an unbroken line of preposterous, imperialist brutality – denying that is inaccurate.

    Therefore, it’s reasonable to consider that a Trump freed of election concerns, and also of trying to win over the Washington establishment, could allow his anti-belligerent tendencies to take over. Trump is not a military man, but a business man. The idea that Biden could possibly have a “Nixon moment” with Iran is absolutely out of the question – he is completely an establishment man. Indeed, this reality is the foundation of his presidential campaign – a return to “normalcy”.

    But the US establishment is totally anti-Iranian Islamic Revolution, anti-Islamic conceptions of capitalism, and anti-Iranian resistance to Western invasion and imperialism. In a system dominated by lobby interests, there is absolutely no “pro-Iran” lobby and to think there is would be to misunderstand America.

    The concern is that those outside of and unfamiliar with America do not understand these realities; that there are still those who think Obama was truly worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize; that think Democrats are lenient towards to the world even though they spearheaded the destruction of Yugoslavia, Libya, Honduras, Haiti, Ukraine etc. and etc. It is like a a household with two very unpleasant daughters: the family always says, “That one is the easy-going one”, when in reality she is still very unpleasant when compared with normal standards of comportment.

    There is absolutely no way Biden would engineer a “Nixon moment” of (not rapprochement but) detente with Iran. Therefore, the question to ask is: are the 2016-era sanctions so bad that Iran has to throw in the towel, and not take a chance on the most successful anti-establishment candidate in the US since Andrew Jackson?

    Part 2: Why would anyone, anywhere wish for the very unpleasant Washington establishment to remain in complete control?

    We have established that Biden may only slightly lessen, but never end, the four decades of sanctions on Iran. About Trump – we simply cannot be so sure.

    Trump, thus, is the “hope” candidate. Trump doesn’t have a real ideology, we have learned since 2016 – he’s not a real Zionist, any more than he’s a real Christian, any more than he’s a real Republican – he is a selfish business man, and that is it. These people ruin the world, but can also build great things. 

    That’s the same question Americans considering voting for Trump are asking: are things so bad that the only way to advance is via retreat – i.e. four more years of the astoundingly upsetting (the French “bouleversement” is so much more accurate) Trump presidency?

    Turning to America’s domestic situation: they are in a catastrophe on top of a catastrophe, i.e. the 2020 coronavirus recession is being added to the 2008 Great Recession.

    The election media circus does not focus on this – they instead create nonsense like Iranians posing as “Proud Boys” and mail-in ballot hysteria – but if you are in the US and talking to people you only hear from Americans about how truly bad things are in ways totally unrelated to the election.

    Visitors from Iran cannot believe their eyes when they see the US – this country is in disrepair, is technologically behind in many ways, and is in jaw-droppingly bad physical and social health (putting aside more subjective questions of moral and mental health).

    How on earth can we explain the 2020 continued success and resonance of Trump, who in the 2nd debate kept reminding voters of why he won in 2016: the staggering corruption of the US political establishment, of which he is not completely a part of?

    He knows that the US public has as many reasons to subvert the US political establishment as the Iranian public has: the most basic, and necessary, examination of the situation via this lens of class tells us that – of course – both publics greatly suffer under the brutality of the unwanted capitalism-imperialism foisted by the 1%.

    Furthermore, we should expect that the factions thwarted in 2016 would impose even further safeguards to their power to make sure another Trump cannot happen again.

    Trump has pushed things to the right, indeed, but nobody more so than the US establishment and 1%: this couldn’t be more in evidence thanks to how even the Democrats have embraced the CIA & FBI, Twitter/Facebook censorship, QE policies which keep their rich donor classes happy, and how this class demands Trump be even more warlike and employ even more policies which many used to only associate with American conservatives. The American Democrat is no leftist.

    But the delusion is believing that far-right policies – both at home and abroad regarding places like Iran – started with Trump. American Democrats may believe that nonsense, but it’s vital that the world has a memory which stretches back just a mere five years. A Biden victory would immediately allow the US to sweep under the rug and to scapegoat the nation’s pre-2016 problems on Trump – many American voters will not tolerate that, as they want immediate changes to the long-running status quo.

    Who knows what a second Trump presidency would do? This is both hope and risk. And as Biden said in the second election: “You know who I am” – indeed. 

    What the world and the US public wants is obvious: mutually-beneficial cooperation, which is not necessarily excluded in capitalism, but it is excluded in “capitalism with Western characteristics”. “Trump term 1” was against free-trade, neoliberal capitalism-imperialism: would “Trump term 2” push aside the New York City financial elite and insist on concluding mutually-beneficial business deals which don’t have to be signed at the barrel-end of a US gun?

    It’s so very, very hard to believe, but US Congresspeople spend 70% of their work day fundraising. What a terrible system, no? This explains how Americans get such poor governance – they are not occupied with the business of public service.

    I think it’s fair to point out that Trump has done the same since 2016 in order to win re-election: he has spent 70% of his time complying with and being bogged down by establishment nonsense – Russophobia, a useless impeachment drive, a hostile media, etc. What would he do if he was freed from this, and given free rein to use the executive branch powers for actual policy which bypassed the Swamp? We don’t know, because we have never seen such a US president.

    The question is this: does a Trump freed from re-election concerns, and confident of his mandate, still continue to turn his back on the patriotic populism which his voters expected, or do we see something even more spectacularly upsetting to the US establishment than what we have seen the past four years?

    We do know Biden will re-chart the American course for Obama’s “pivot to Asia” and all the other usual capitalist-imperialist belligerence. Regarding the influence of Bernie Sanders and the fake-leftistm America has recently mustered: please don’t make me laugh at the idea that in 2021 they will be handed top cabinet posts and actual influence.

    But a vote for Biden implicitly implies that the US has learned much since 2016 and will reform and correct themselves; that Biden is not an establishment man, as I asserted, but something new. To put it in Trumpian campaign terms: Biden the public servant in year 48 will be different than Biden the public servant years 1-47. Conversion, rebirth, epiphany – these are all real things, certainly, and nowhere more so perhaps than in evangelical Christian-dominated America.

    But we must also remember that, as the European Union proves, Western “neo-imperialism” includes the colonisation of the Western public by an unpatriotic, international 1%. Biden is undoubtedly neoliberal and neo-imperial – Trump is… something else, no? (One cannot be anti-free trade and still neoliberal, after all.)

    Thus the “hope” choice in this election is not “for” Trump – it is “anti”-US establishment, and that goes for those abroad as well as domestically.

    This article does not promote Trump but merely seeks to explain his popularity, as the Western mainstream media cannot do anything but support their establishment, of course. Biden voters are “holding their nose” and voting for a candidate they don’t like – one is wrong to assume that Trump supporters aren’t doing the exact same.


    Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

    www.presstv.ir

    www.presstv.co.uk

    www.presstv.tv

    October 26, 2020

    Tiktok – How Trump Failed America

    Tiktok – How Trump Failed America

    October 18, 2020

    By Allen Yu for the Saker Blog

    Donald Trump was elected with a mandate to make deals and “drain the swamp.” I had my doubts he could make a difference in the geopolitical realm. But even on economic matters, he has not had a lot of success. His Tiktok saga reveals just how far he has left people down.

    Trump’s demand for a fire sale of Tiktok hit a legal wall two weekends ago when a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction. Judge Carl Nichols, a Trump appointee, questioned whether a President had the legal authority to so broadly ban and restrict a “personal communication” and “informational” service such as Tiktok on “national security” grounds.

    But even without the injunction, Trump’s vaunted deal-making skills were fast morphing into a freak show. From the beginning, Trump made unsubstantiated accusation that Tiktok was being used as a platform for Chinese espionage even when the CIA found no evidence of Chinese espionage. The EFF – which traditionally has been critical of China’s Internet companies – has also concluded that there is no evidence that TikTok is less secure than other social media apps.

    Side note – Lesson #1: if you want to negotiate from a position of strength, you should not start out with a preposterous position, as you will soon lose the trust and belief of the other side. A negotiation is the art of find a deal that both sides walk away happy. If you just want to pummel the other to submission, any “gains” you get will not last.

    In late September, after months of negotiations, a surprise deal was announced between Byte Dance and Oracle whereby Byte Dance’s operations outside China would be transformed into a new global company headquartered in Texas. Under the deal initially announced by Oracle late last September, Tiktok would be transformed into a new company headquartered in Texas. Oracle and partner Walmart would co-own 20% of the new company. Oracle would be designated a “trusted technology provider” to manage and store all of Tiktok’s user data.  It would have the authority to audit source codes of Tiktok and parent company Byte Dance.

    In addition, four of the five board members of the new Tiktok would be Americans, with one being a data security expert appointee approved by the U.S. government and holding a top-secret U.S. security clearance.  A security committee whose members would be US citizens approved by the US government would be formed and chaired by the appointee.

    Based on Chinese social media responses, this state affair was a big loss of not only face but business interests for China. Yet, from the jaws of defeat, Byte Dance was complimented for salvaging something out of nothing.

    After initially giving his “blessings” to the deal, Trump backtracked just days later to demand that the core algorithms and AI behind Tiktok – designed, owned and controlled by Byte Dance – must be sold and handed over, too.

    The fact that Tiktok is getting all this attention over data security is quite puzzling. Tiktok is a video sharing service for short, hip, fun videos popular among teens, hardly a target for international spying. An email, chatting, or cloud storage service would have represented far juicier targets for Chinese agents!

    Furthermore, the U.S. currently does not have any federal-level data privacy law, let alone data security law. Authorities generally leave it to the “market place” and “competition” to keep companies in check. If the U.S. government is truly worried about the data security of American citizens, it should have gone after Facebook, Twitter, and Google and forced a change of ownership some time ago!

    Some observers have suggested that the real reason for Trump’s attack on Tiktok is personal vengeance after K-pop fans on Tiktok allegedly sabotaged his first “post-Coronavirus” rally in Tulsa back in June. If so, this would be a major strategic blunder.

    While the world’s Internet is currently dominated by American companies, strong political backlash against U.S. based Internet companies are already brewing across the globe, from Europe to India. If Trump manages to whip up nationalistic fervors around the world to carve up Internet companies on trumped-up “national security” charges, it will be mostly American companies that will be on the chopping blocks.

    Side note – Lesson #2: you should negotiate with a solid understanding of the end goals – with good strategies. Merely appearing good “reality TV” fashion for political gain will net you little in the end. One can argue, the U.S. “wars on terror” and fights for “democracy” are such. They will hurt many … but they will not gain the U.S. much. Same here in the economic realm … as here with Tiktok.

    Many Americans have falsely taken comfort in the thought that Trump’s actions constituted long overdue payback against Chinese government’s banning of U.S. Internet companies. In actuality, Trump’s actions are much more destructive than any policy enacted by the Chinese government.

    Contrary to popular beliefs, China has always welcomed U.S. Internet companies to operate in China, provided they follow Chinese laws and respect government’s concerns over information that incite, misinform, defame, or that otherwise endanger national security. While some companies – such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter – have avoided China with much fanfare over “censorship” concerns, others – such as Microsoft and Apple – have done quite well after setting up Internet operations within China.

    America has often made China into the world’s bogeyman over censorship. But China or not, there is no such thing as “freedom of speech.” Today American companies, including Google, censor on behalf of governments the world over on diverse issues such as privacy, blasphemy, defamation and hate speech to disinformation, copyright and national security. Just look to Twitter, Facebook, and Google’s “transparency report” for some shocking statistics.

    Today, the Trump Administration is trying to make another bogeyman out of China over “data security.” But of course, the real question is whether the U.S. – and the world – can accept a second generation of globally spanning Internet companies that are not necessarily American.

    Should only companies from certain nations be trusted?  Is corporate governance sufficient to regulate globally spanning multinational companies?  Or must we rely on some sort of forced nationalization?

    Side note – if there is ever one topic I fundamentally and deeply disagree with the Saker about, it is on the notions of “freedom of speech.” For me, there is no such thing as “freedom of speech.” There are always limits and contingencies to speech, limits that depend on a society and its history, whether it be blasphemy, defamation, misinformation, disinformation, a violation of privacy or of copyright, hate speech, speech that incite, speech that spur violence, speech that undermines national security, and so on.

    I find it fascinating that so many “liberal” free speech zealots have no qualms about the government making rules to ensure food and drug labeling are accurate yet … at least until very recently … these same folks are ok with disinformation and misinformation in the political arena.

    In China, disinformation and misinformation has been recognized as a problem since the earliest days of the Internet. This is why China built its GFW. Let me give you an example.

    Just earlier this week, there was an interesting story about Facebook and Twitter restricting the spread of a controversial New York Post article critical of Joe Biden and his son’s relationship to a Ukrainian company. Facebook restricted links to the article on grounds it couldn’t independently verify the story. Twitter restricted on the ground that they don’t publish “private” information or “hacked” information.

    Would they be so gracious about restricting things when it comes to China?

    I say, to the extent the West seems “freer” in the past, it’s only because of two things. One, in recent history, the West had been so much stronger than others. It was under so much less threat than others. There was just always so much less that constituted a threat to its social and national security. But this might be changing. Two, at least in modern history, the West has always monopolized the narrative regarding the social and political issues of our days. What is “censorship” by others is always anything but censorship when done in the West. There are always some righteous and obviously legitimate reasons to limit speech – whether it be defamation, privacy, hate speech, violence, blasphemy, national security, whatever. The issue of “freedom of speech” never even enter the analysis.

    Here are a few recent examples.

    Just two years ago, Zuckerberg cited Holocaust denial as an example of permissible free speech. However, just this past week, Mark Zuckerberg is saying that Facebook would ban content that “denies or distorts the Holocaust.”

    Also consider this thing about Russia meddling in America. In the last few years, national security concerns have loomed large as many Americans became paranoid about Russia’s spending of a mere $100K could sway the 2016 elections. Social media companies are urged to do all sorts of things to limit “foreign influence.” Left undiscussed is what about the “foreign influence” this country perpetrates in other countries? Let’s not even go into the armed or political support – what of the voice of America, the national endowment for democracy – institutions that spew “foreign paid” misinformation and disinformation around the world?

    Some Americans may reply: what of “foreign influence” if it helps to dig up the truth? Well, if that’s so, why do America care so much about “foreign influence” then? Also, why is there such focus on “foreign” interest but almost nothing on “domestic” special interests? To the extent some powers are “distorting” the “free marketplace of ideas,” aren’t “domestic” special interest just as dangerous to democracy as “foreign” interests?

    In an explosive report by the Wall Street Journal, we have learned that it was Mark Zuckerberg who had been instilling in Washington “national security” concerns over Tiktok. Zuckerberg had privately lobbied Trump to do something about Tiktok. Coincidentally, Zuckerberg’s company Facebook owns a service called Reels that had thus far competed unsuccessfully with Tiktok and that would have the most to gain from continued uncertainties at Tiktok.

    The specter of Larry Ellison – a personal friend and ardent supporter of President Trump – has also raised eyebrows. While Microsoft was the clear front runner to purchase Tiktok in early August, it was Oracle that ended up as the “surprise” victor in late September. According to a report by the Washington Post, Microsoft’s deal would have given the U.S. even more control over Tiktok’s data and in that sense addressed Trump’s concerns about “national security” even better.

    Mixing private and public interests has always been an unfortunate hallmark of the U.S. government.

    In targeting Tiktok, Trump has boasted that he expected political and financial paybacks for his attacks. On several occasions, Trump publicly demanded that whoever buys Tiktok pay a “finder’s fee” to the U.S. Treasury. After the Oracle deal was announced, Trump bragged that Tiktok had agreed to pay $5 billion to the Treasury and a special education fund to teach American children “the real history of our country.”

    In an age when Americans have been on openly edge over foreign governments’ spending money on social media to influence elections, what should Americans think about their President soliciting billions from a “foreign adversary” to support his “pet barrel” projects?

    It is really too bad that Trump’s rally cry of “America First” has turned into an ideology based on xenophobia. When Trump became president, I was fascinated by his tentative outreach to Russia and China … and his criticism of NATO and other aspects of the American “empire.” However, after four years, he has shown he is incapable of changing the course of this aspect of American history.

    If the West wants to decouple with China, so be it. If the West wants to give up the Chinese market, so be it. In Trump’s view, the West had helped to “built up” China. In my view, to the extent the West “built up” China, China also “built up” much of today’s West.

    America and Europe were in despair with high inflation, unemployment, and low productivity growth at the end of the 1970’s. China’s entrance into the global trade system ushered in a new period of continued prosperity in the West. China not only provided the West with steady and reliable supply of basic goods and services, it also built up a new prosperous middle class and opened up its huge market to the world. U.S. corporations reaped disproportionately huge profits – profits that are used to fund the R&D needed for further advances in chips, Internet, among others.

    Whether Tiktok or Huawei survives the Trump Administration, the Chinese are no longer willing to indefinitely subsidize American R&D going forward. Efforts are afoot for Chinese companies to remove their dependence on critical American technologies – from electronic parts to chips to software to machinery – throughout their supply chain. They will demand this of themselves and of their partners in Europe and Japan and S. Korea and everyone around the world. A new ecosystem will soon arise that is intentionally stripped of critical “American” components and technology to better serve the Chinese market. This will be the lasting influence of Trump. China has no choice. China may suffer in the short term, but China is determined to win in the long term.


    [note: a short, much abridged version of this article was initially published as a “commentary” on the South China Morning Post]

    Allen Yu is an IP attorney in Silicon Valley, a founding blogger at blog.hiddenharmonies.org, as well as an adjunct fellow at the Chunqiu Institute for Development and Strategic Studies. He holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School and a D. Engr., M.S., and B.S. from UCLA Samueli School of Engineering.

    Jews Frustrated They Can’t Silence Their Critics The Way They Used To When They Monopolized All Media

    Source

    OCTOBER 16, 2020

    The Jewish News Syndicate has published another essay demonstrating the incorrigible Jewish hypocrisy and narcissism over free speech — they applaud the recent Facebook censorship of “Holocaust deniers” based solely on the spurious presumption that anyone who wants to know the full truth about what did and did not happen in World War II must necessarily be motivated solely by an irrational, blind hatred of Jews:

    …The Internet is the best thing that ever happened to extremists. Prior to its development, denizens of the fever swamps of the far-right and the far-left were limited in their ability to communicate with each other or to publicize their beliefs.

    Marginal groups were effectively silenced in an era when print, radio and television outlets were closed to them because major publishing entities acted as gatekeepers that effectively shut them out of the public square. While the Internet opened up new opportunities for communication for every conceivable niche and interest group, and thereby democratized publishing, it also provided a way for hate groups to connect and gave them a megaphone with which to make their toxic messages better known.

    That was enabled because Facebook and Twitter were allowed by an obscure legal provision to avoid accountability for what they allowed to be published on their sites. Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act allowed an “interactive computer service” to be exempt from the normal perils of publishing—i.e., being held accountable for what was put on their sites. This both protected free speech on the Internet and allowed those responsible for what were thought of as bulletin boards for users, rather than publishing outlets to function without tackling the impossible task of monitoring what their customers were doing. Although the development of social media was far in the future at that point, Section 230 was the law that enabled Facebook and Twitter to eventually dominate modern communications.

    In the view of those who are concerned about the spread of hate, that was all well and good when it was just a matter of providing billions of people the ability to post pictures and updates about their lives. Eventually, however, the notion of Zuckerberg, whose current wealth is estimated at $111 billion, enriching himself by enabling Holocaust deniers was seen as intolerable. They felt the same way about Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, who is only worth a piddling $4.9 billion…

    Of course the original 1996 Communications Decency Act had less to do with “freedom of speech” on the internet per se — it was about protecting children from all the freely available Jewish-produced pornography that was beginning flood into every home in America.

    But let’s not forget that it was Jews who have always defended the proliferation of pornography as a form of “free speech” — a complete twisting of the intent of the First Amendment.

    And the Section 230 clause that was added to the CDA was a common sense law that made ISPs legally immune for what user’s posted on their websites — without that indemnity, the internet would collapse.

    But Section 230 took away the Jews’ go-to tool to silence voices they didn’t like — sue the publisher — make the publication of certain opinions a prohibitive economic liability — the terrible power of the Jewish purse.

    Jews view opinions they don’t like in the same way that Christians view pornography — radically different worldviews.

    They are demanding their “right” to censor content that offends them –and pedophilia doesn’t offend them but your opinion probably does.

    Oh, they are all for “freedom of speech” and “democracy” as long as they own all the publishing houses and television stations — and “count all the votes.”

    To do that end, they need to effectively de-claw Section 230 — and by doing so, they can regain their pre-internet monopoly as the sole “gatekeepers” of all opinions and information– and they are doing just that.

    NEW STEP IN GOOGLE’S FIERCE CAMPAIGN TO DESTROY SOUTHFRONT

    21.08.2020 

    South Front

    The Euro-Atlantic establishment and global corporations seem to be so terrified by SouthFront: Analysis & Intelligence that they stop at nothing to suppress SouthFront’s voice and damage our work.

    On August 21, Google unilaterally disabled SouthFront’s official Google AdSense account claiming that it “was found to be non-compliant with the AdSense program policies”. Just like in the case of censorship of SouthFront on YouTube and Facebook, this decision was made without any advance warning or real explanation. (The long story of SouthFront censorship on YouTube and Facebook can be found here: 1 – Facebook2 – YouTube)

    Funds collected on the account for the last 1.5 months were in fact stolen.

    New Step In Google’s Fierce Campaign To Destroy SouthFront

    In previous month, SouthFront was able to use the revenue from GoogleAds banners on southfront.org to fill gaps in our monthly donation budget created by the increasing censorship and pressure campaign aimed at our endeavor. The goal of this campaign is to limit SouthFront’s audience reach by banning on the most popular public platforms, limit the donation flow to SouthFront and discredit our team as a whole. Not backed by corporations or governments, SouthFront operates thanks to the audience’s donations.

    Despite this unprecedented pressure campaign, which was publicly assisted by the US State Department, and thanks to your support, SouthFront was able to survive in the recent month. However, the August 21 situation demonstrates that Euro-Atlantic structures and global corporations are determined to employ any, even illegal steps, to destroy SouthFront.  In own turn, SouthFront Team officially declares that we will not surrender and fight against the mainstream censorship and propaganda until our last breath.

    Chaotic and illegal attempts of our ill-wishers to damage SouthFront work only confirm that we are on the right track. Dear friends, together, we will be able to overcome any challenges and difficulties and fight back against the mainstream censorship and propaganda.

    SUPPORT THE RESISTANCE

    Gilad Atzmon on Adam Green’s Know More News

     BY GILAD ATZMON

    Adam Green and myself discuss questions to do with the current authoritarian shift and the centrality of Jewish sensitivities in this transition.

    Help SouthFront To Fight Back US State Department & Co

    Help SouthFront To Fight Back US State Department & Co

     14.08.2020 

    DEAR FRIENDS,

    SouthFront is facing an increasing agressive censorship and pressure campaign from Euro-Atlantic structures and global corporations.

    Over the past months, YouTube and Facebook have contributed extensive efforts to suppress SouthFront work on these platforms. (LINKLINK) Just recently, the US Department of State released an official report calling SouthFront a “pillar” of “Russia’s disinformation and propaganda” simultaneously asking millions of dollars to fight SouthFront. The requested FY 2021 budget of the US Department of Satate’s Global Engagement Center, tasked with preparing fairy tales and justifying the censorship of SouthFront, is $138 million. This is $11,500,000 per month. At the same time, SouthFront’s monthly donation duget needed to continue our work is merely $5,000.

    While Euro-Atlantic structures remain scared by mighty SouthFront, our team continues its struggle to keep SouthFront alive and continue its work and further.

    Since August 1, we’ve collected $1,162. This is about 23% of the needed monthly budget. If SouthFront is not able to collect the needed amount, our work next month will be in a grave danger. We urgently need your help.

    Help SouthFront To Fight Back US State Department & Co

    SUPPORT THE RESISTANCE:

    Three Dead in India’s Bengaluru over “Derogatory” FB Post on Prophet Mohammad

    Three Dead in India’s Bengaluru over “Derogatory” FB Post on Prophet Mohammad

    By Staff, Agencies 

    Angry crowds went on a rampage in the Kaval Byrasandra area of Bengaluru over a Facebook post, shared by P. Naveen, nephew of Akhanda Srinivasa Murthy, a Congress legislator from the Pulakeshinagar area. Violence engulfed parts of India’s “Silicon Valley” last night as protesters and police locked horns.

    At least three people died and dozens of people were left injured in the Indian city of Bengaluru on Tuesday night after police opened fire at a mob protesting a “derogatory post” that insulted the Prophet Mohammad [PBUH].

    The post is said to have been shared on social media by P. Naveen, nephew of Karnataka Congress state legislator Akhanda Srinivasa Murthy from Pulakeshinagar.

    A total of 110 people have been arrested in connection with the violence. The wounded also included 60 policemen, local media reported.

    According to media reports, protesters reached police stations to file their complaints against the now-deleted Facebook post.

    Naveen claimed that his Facebook account had been hacked and he had no idea about the post that was causing the upheaval.

    Demonstrators later gathered in front of the house of Naveen’s uncle and state legislator Akhanda Srinivasa Murthy, located in the city’s Kaval Byrsandra area, and began hurling stones.

    Hundreds of cars parked outside were also set on fire, police said.

    Photos and videos of the violence have gone viral on social media. Senior Karnataka Congress leader Dinesh Gundu Rao also tweeted about the “horrible situation” last night.

    In the midst of the violence, a group of Muslim protesters formed a human chain to protect any attack on Hindu temples in the area in a bid to prevent a further deterioration of the situation.

    Sandeep Patil, the Joint Commissioner of Police [Crime], Bengaluru, has revealed to the media that P. Naveen, the nephew of the Congress legislator, has also been arrested.

    Karnataka state chief B.S Yediyurappa said strict action would be taken against the guilty people who caused the attacks.

    He wrote on Twitter: “The attack on journalists, the police, and the public in the riot last night is unpredictable. The government will not tolerate such provocations and rumors. Strict action against perpetrators is certain”.

    Facebook Threatens to Censor IMEMC

    August 11, 2020 4:13 AM

    IMEMC

    Dear IMEMC readers: The IMEMC has recently received messages from Facebook telling us our page is “at risk of being restricted or unpublished”.

    There is no way to appeal this threat, or counter the false claim that our page and website are “low quality”. We have tried many ways to reach Facebook, but have come across an impenetrable Wall in which there is no customer service line, no email contact, no appeals process – in short, no way to reach any humans at Facebook to challenge their claims.

    So we would like to publicly present this question to Facebook (and readers, if you have some special knowledge or way to reach Facebook, please pass this along):

    • What exactly about our original, on-the-ground reporting about Israel-Palestine has ‘inauthentic content’ and is ‘low quality’? Please provide specific examples.
    • What have we reported on our page that is false? Our reports come from on-the-ground witnesses and reporters.
    • The definition provided of ‘inauthentic behavior’ and ‘low-quality content’ — that it is full of ads or spam — is clearly not the case, as we have no ads on our website.

    Please, dear readers, support the IMEMC anyway you can, and ensure that freedom of speech, freedom of the press, are inalienable rights that should not be suppressed.

    We at the IMEMC reject all forms of injustice, all forms of racism, sexism, discrimination, and strongly believe all people are born equal.

    We also believe in the peoples’ right to struggle for liberation and independence, and that nobody is better than anybody else because of their gender, race, religion, or anything else.

    Please help us continue our work, and support the IMEMC with a financial contribution so we can fight back against this blatant attempt to suppress free speech and independent journalism! We remain the only Palestinian-led news organization that is entirely supported by reader donations, with no foundations, corporate grants or political party funding that would diminish our independence.

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