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Youtube Censors Truth on Bucha

April 5, 2022

By  VT Editors

https://www.bitchute.com/embed/Mn4ht0GfZe3f/

and the censored version from youtube..

VT Editors

VT Editors is a General Posting account managed by Jim W. Dean and Gordon Duff. All content herein is owned and copyrighted by Jim W. Dean and Gordon Duff

ASPI – The Gov’t-Funded Conspiracist Think Tank Now Controlling Your Social Media Feed

January 20th, 2022

By Alan Macleod

Source

That ASPI is now partially in charge of Twitter’s moderation, influencing what hundreds of millions of people see daily, is a grave threat to the free flow of information, as well as to the chances for a peaceful 21st century. 

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA – Social media giant Twitter raised many eyebrows recently when it announced that it had partnered with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) in its fight against disinformation and fake news. ASPI, Twitter revealed in a blog post, had helped identify thousands of accounts that “amplified Chinese Communist Party narratives” around China’s treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang. These accounts have now been permanently deleted.

This is of concern because the ultra-hawkish Australian think tank is actually the source for many of the most incendiary claims about China and its foreign policy, and, as Australian journalist and filmmaker John Pilger told MintPress, has been a driving force in the ramping up of tensions between China and the West, something he explored in his 2016 documentary, “The Coming War on China.” Pilger stated that,

ASPI has played a leading role – some would say, the leading role – in driving Australia’s mendacious and self-destructive and often absurd China-bashing campaign. The current Coalition government, perhaps the most right-wing and incompetent in Australia’s recent history, has relied upon the ASPI to disseminate Washington’s desperate strategic policies, into which much of the Australian political class, along with its intelligence and military structures, has been integrated.”

Importantly, neither ASPI nor Twitter claimed that the deleted accounts were fake or operated by the Chinese state, strongly implying that merely agreeing with Beijing or questioning bellicose Western narratives was reason enough to be banned.

This is not the first time that Twitter has joined forces with ASPI. In 2020, it announced that, on the think tank’s recommendations, it had shut down more than 170,000 accounts that praised China’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, generally “antagoniz[ed]” the U.S., or amplified “deceptive narratives” about the Hong Kong protests (i.e., ones that did not agree with the State Department or the 44% of Hong Kongers who supported the movement). In the same cull, Twitter also deleted thousands of Russian and Turkish accounts.

That a global social media platform is now in open partnership with ASPI should trouble anyone who is concerned with free speech or peace, as the think tank is funded by the U.S. government and the world’s largest weapons manufacturers, and has consistently agitated for global conflict.

Faux independence

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute describes itself as an “independent, non-partisan think tank” whose mission is to “nourish public debate and understanding” and “better inform” the public, as well as to “produce expert and timely advice for Australian and global leaders.” It insists that it is not identified with any particular ideology and that it is committed to “publishing a range of views on contentious topics.”

Despite claiming to be independent, it also notes that it was established in 2001 by the Australian government, the sole owner of the organization. This represents a PR problem for the think tank, which warns that “the perception as well as the reality of that independence…need to be carefully maintained.” Its annual financial reports reveal that most of its funding comes straight from Canberra, although it also receives hefty donations from other governments including the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan and the Netherlands.

While the lion’s share of its funding comes from various sources within the Australian government, the vast majority of its overseas funding comes from Washington and, more specifically, the Department of Defense (over $700,000 in fiscal year 2020-21) and the State Department (around $430,000 over the same period). In addition, ASPI takes money from American tech giants such as Google, Microsoft, Oracle and Facebook.

For many, including veteran Australian diplomat Bruce Haigh, this foreign cash has fundamentally sullied the organization. Haigh told MintPress:

ASPI is the propaganda arm of the CIA and the U.S. government. It is a mouthpiece for the Americans. It is funded by the American government and American arms manufacturers. Why it is allowed to sit at the center of the Australian government when it has so much foreign funding, I don’t know. If it were funded by anybody else, it would not be where it is at.”

As Haigh noted, ASPI is also funded by a cavalcade of the world’s largest weapons companies, including Boeing, Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, QinetiQ and Thales. Perhaps even more worryingly, many of ASPI’s key personnel moonlight as defense contractor executives. Indeed, almost half of its senior council are on the boards of weapons or cybersecurity firms.

Robert Hill is a case in point. As Minister of Defense between 2001 and 2006, he was one of the key figures driving Australia towards war in Iraq. Hill consistently lied to the public, claiming that it was “not in dispute” that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and that the occupation, in fact, saved many Iraqi lives. One former senior defense advisor, Jane Errey, claims she was even forced out of her job after she refused to lie to the media on Hill’s behalf about Iraqi WMDs. Today, he is on the board of Rheinmetall Defense Australia, a company that supplies fighting vehicles and ammunition to the Australian military.

Hill’s successor as defense minister, Brendan Nelson, is also on ASPI’s senior council. Nelson continued Australia’s collaboration in the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, although his loose tongue got him in trouble in 2007, when he casually stated that the reason Australia was in Iraq was not WMDs, as Hill had insisted, but in order to secure a slice of the country’s oil reserves for itself. “Energy security is extremely important to all nations throughout the world and, of course, in protecting and securing Australia’s interests,” he said, in response to a direct question about whether this was a war for oil.

While director of the Australian War Memorial – a monument to those who died in Australia’s wars, Nelson controversially allowed weapons companies Boeing, Thales, Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems to sponsor the institution, a decision critics allege turned it from a sober memorial into a glorification of war. Just weeks after stepping down from that position, he accepted a job as president of Boeing Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific, a title he still holds.

Michelle Fahy, an investigative journalist specializing in the Australian arms industry, was particularly concerned by Nelson’s position at ASPI, telling MintPress:

Along with the funding, it is hard to see how this board appointment fits with a claim to being an ‘independent’ organization when Boeing is a multi-billion-dollar, top-five contractor to the Australian Defense Department, the third largest arms manufacturer in the world, and Nelson was formerly Defense Minister in an earlier government of the same political party now in power.”

Thus, a group headed by the individuals who championed the biggest political deception of the 21st century – one that led to the deaths of 2.4 million people – is now in charge of deciding what is real and what is fake news online for the entire planet. This raises a question: if ASPI had similar control over the means of communication in the early 2000s, would voices questioning the legitimacy of the Iraq invasion have been silenced for promoting false narratives?

Lt. Gen. Ken Gillespie was Vice Chief of the Defense Force from 2005-2008 and then Chief of the Army – the highest military position in Australia – between 2008 and 2011. As such, Gillespie was central to Australia’s efforts in both Afghanistan and Iraq. As his own LinkedIn biography boasts, “I led the initial Australian Defense Force contribution into the Middle-East and Afghanistan in the aftermath of the September 11 strikes on the U.S.A. I was a key planner for Australia’s contribution to the Iraq war, and I commanded all Australian Defense Force operations for a lengthy period.” Both Gillespie and fellow ASPI council member Jane Halton are on the board of Naval Group Australia, producer of warships and other combat systems. They both also work for cybersecurity companies; Gillespie is director of the Senetas Corporation, a cybersecurity firm that regularly partners with weapons manufacturers, such as Thales, that have heartily endorsed Senetas’ work. Meanwhile, Halton is chair of the board of directors at Vault Cloud, a defense-minded cybersecurity firm.

Another ASPI council member is former politician Gai Brodtmann. Brodtmann serves on the advisory board of cybersecurity firm Sapien Cyber, a firm that has secured a number of large military contracts and is chaired by former Minister of Defense Stephen Smith. In addition to this, she holds a senior position at Defense Housing Australia, a company that provides a range of services aimed at military personnel.

One of the newest members of ASPI’s council is James Brown, an ex-army officer and son-in-law of former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Brown is chief executive officer of the Space Industry Association of Australia (SIAA), an organization that represents the interests of a number of prominent weapons corporations, including Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman Australia and Saab Australia.

As Fahy noted in an article in Declassified Australia, many former ASPI council members had similarly questionable connections to the arms industry. Jim McDowell was chief executive of BAE Systems Australia. Fellow politicians Stephen Loosley and Allan Hawke were on the boards of Thales Australia and Lockheed Martin Australia respectively, at the same time as serving on ASPI’s council. Meanwhile, retired Vice-Marshal Margaret Staib was on British aerospace giant QinetiQ’s board.

ASPI’s pro-war teenage growth spurt

ASPI began life 20 years ago as a relatively small think tank with a mandate to produce timely and independent research. However, in recent years, the organization has ballooned in size and now employs dozens of full-time staffers (contrary to its original vision). Its aggressive targeting of funding from a wide range of sources has undermined its credibility in Fahy’s eyes. As she told MintPress:

ASPI’s charter requires it to work to maintain the perception as well as the actuality of its independence. Given the widespread criticism directed at ASPI in recent years due to the perceived excessive influence of the U.S. government and U.S. arms and cybersecurity multinationals on its output, there is little doubt that the perception of its independence has been lost.”

Nevertheless, its ascendancy has led to it carrying inordinate influence within Australian politics and beyond, the organization’s reports being frequently cited in major outlets like The New York TimesThe Washington Post and Fox News. Diplomat Haigh said:

ASPI has supplanted the Department of Foreign Affairs in advice to the government. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, [Marise] Payne, is really very weak, and has been bypassed. So ASPI is feeding straight into the prime minister’s office on matters of foreign policy, particularly as it relates to China…This is part of the militarization of Australia and the Australian public service.”

Unsurprisingly for an organization taking money from weapons contractors, ASPI publishes some of the most crude and relentlessly pro-war propaganda anywhere, and has been a leader in the rush to declare a new Cold War on China and Russia.

This militaristic attitude is exemplified by ASPI’s executive director, Peter Jennings. Last year, Jennings bitterly denounced President Joe Biden and his decision to pull out of Afghanistan, describing it as his “first big blunder” in office. Jennings confidently predicted that Biden’s assessment that the U.S. “could not create or sustain a durable Afghan government” would be proven wrong. “In fact, that is precisely what American, Australian and other forces delivered to Afghanistan: a flawed but functioning democracy, keeping the Taliban at bay and preventing groups such as al-Qaeda from using Afghanistan as a training base from which to attack the West,” he wrote. Later that year, the Afghan government would fall to the Taliban, only days after American troops finally withdrew.

In the same article, Jennings went on to state that Biden’s decision was “an abandonment as complete as the U.S. failure to back South Vietnam…in the face of North Vietnam’s advancing conventional forces in 1974 and 1975,” thereby signaling that he supported the Vietnam conflict as well.

Indeed, it is hard to find a war Jennings has not advocated for. He vociferously backed the Iraq War, even demanding in 2015 that Australia increase its troop numbers. A committed cold-warrior who has argued that “the West is setting the bar for military response too high” and that the world must stop the “Leninist autocracies” of ​​Russia, Iran and Syria, last week he came close to calling for war against nuclear-armed Russia. “America’s credibility is on the line” in Ukraine, he thundered, demanding that Biden back up his talk with “believable military options.”

An arms producers’ Yellow Pages

For a think tank that was supposed to produce nonpartisan, expert advice, it is remarkable how far ASPI strays from this goal, going so far as to run advertisements for weapons manufacturers masquerading as serious analysis. One example of this is a 2020 study, titled “Australia needs to ensure it has the advanced missiles it needs.” Comparing death machines to crucial lifesaving equipment, it states:

Missiles are like a combination of a medical ventilator and the masks health workers need during a pandemic…You need many thousands of them and they can’t be reused. Ordering or holding a few hundred just doesn’t cut any mustard outside peacetime training routines. So, production is key.

“Without such weapons,” the author continues, “Islamic State might still control major chunks of territory in Iraq and Syria.” This claim, of course, ignores the fact that it was largely Iranian forces under Qassem Soleimani that were responsible for destroying ISIS, and that the United States assassinated him in 2020. ASPI chief Peter Jennings appeared to support Trump’s decision, writing that “it’s surely a positive that, after Soleimani’s death, bad actors in the region might pause to wonder if a Hellfire missile on a circling drone has their name and address programmed in.”

Hammering the point home, ASPI claims that “Australia is fortunate in having close relationships with…companies like Raytheon, Rafael, Lockheed Martin and Kongsberg” that can close the country’s supposed “missile supply gap.” “Getting agreement to and support for high-end U.S. missiles, like the long-range anti-ship missile made by Lockheed Martin, to be manufactured in Australia as well as the continental U.S. through co-production, will only happen if the senior leadership of our nations drive it,” it concludes.

If it were not clear that this was a “buy more missiles, says group funded by missile manufacturers” advertisement, ASPI included both Thales’ and Lockheed Martin’s logos on the page. Indeed, every page on ASPI’s website includes a sidebar advertisement for those two companies, complete with links to their websites.

These sorts of practices would be problematic enough if ASPI were a think tank trying to promote orange juice drinking in Australia while being filled with executives from Tropicana and Minute Maid. But it is not fruit ASPI is selling: it is war. It is literally a life-and-death affair.

Red flags, Yellow Peril

Saber-rattling at Russia or running unofficial advertorials for weapons companies are sidelines to ASPI’s main business of hyping up the threat that China poses to Australia and the world. Earlier this month, Jennings took to the pages of The Australian to demand a more formal military alliance with Japan in order to take China head-on. The Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper failed to disclose the fact that Jennings’ organization – and therefore his hefty salary (around $332,000 last year) – is being directly paid in part by the Japanese government. He has also recently called for a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics.

ASPI was the source behind the infamous 2019 documentary “Red Flags,” which aired on state broadcaster ABC. In McCarthyist fashion, “Red Flags” claimed that Australian universities were “infiltrated” with thousands of agents of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), learning Australian secrets and bringing them back to their homeland. ASPI’s report, “Picking Flowers, Making Honey,” insisted that universities were in active “collaboration” with the CCP.

The Canberra-based think tank was also behind the scaremongering that led to the Australian government canceling Huawei’s contract to upgrade the country’s notoriously poor telecommunications infrastructure. Adding to the hype, one ASPI employee even took to the pages of a national newspaper to claim that if the small city of Bendigo went forward with its plans to attach Huawei sensors to their garbage trucks, it would constitute a national security threat.

Jennings hailed the government’s subsequent decision to cancel the nation’s 5G plans as “absolutely the right call,” categorizing those opposing it as simply “the inevitable whining from China’s red brigade of useful idiots.” At no point did he acknowledge that telecom giants who fund ASPI, and on whose boards many of its key members sit, would likely benefit from the decision.

Last summer, ASPI also published a report with the title “China threatens Australia with missile attack.” The basis of the “threat,” was not China, however, but a two-paragraph statement from Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of a Chinese newspaper, The Global Times. Hu wrote that if Australia declared war on China, sent troops to Taiwan, and started killing Chinese soldiers, then China should have the capability to fire back on Australia. The author of the piece, Paul Dibb, the former head of Australia’s equivalent of the Defense Intelligence Agency, surely knew the difference but did not let that get in the way of a good story.

Dibb himself has openly ramped up tensions between the two nations. In 2020, he wrote an article for ASPI entitled “How Australia can deter China.” The article was illustrated simply with a picture of a Lockheed Martin missile. Pilger told MintPress:

ASPI is one of the world’s most blatant propaganda ciphers. If we were back in the old Cold War, it would be the equivalent of Pravda – though my memory of Pravda is that it was honest in its role as a voice of the state whereas ASPI pretends to be independent.”

For a think tank that claims to be a guardian against fake news and disinformation online, ASPI has been at the forefront of mainstreaming conspiracy theories about COVID-19 and China, particularly that of the Wuhan lab leak. In a report called “The Great Covid Cover-up,” ASPI insisted that there has been massive, worldwide collusion on the part of the scientific, academic and medical communities, and even from parts of the U.S. government, all to hide Covid’s true origins and to run interference for China.

Perhaps most importantly, however, ASPI is a worldwide driving force behind bringing the treatment of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang to global attention. Their many reports, particularly the ongoing Xinjiang Data Project, have been the basis of hundreds of articles and news segments across the planet. Unfortunately, much of their research is as sloppy as it has been with other projects. As soon as it released an interactive map of the locations of what it claimed were hundreds of Uyghur detention centers, local Chinese people and even just individuals using tools like Google were able to show conclusively that many of these “prisons” were actually schools, government offices, or other more mundane edifices.

Of course, this is not to say that no detention facilities exist, or that a great number of Uyghurs have not been oppressed or imprisoned. Even the Chinese government accepts that it has put large numbers of people through what it describes as deradicalization programs. What it does highlight, though, is the sloppy nature of the scholarship that is being used to justify a worldwide boycott of Xinjiang-linked companies on the grounds of forced labor, something ASPI has helped lead. Thus, ASPI is far from a neutral arbiter in Twitter’s decision to close thousands of accounts on the grounds of stopping misinformation about Xinjiang spreading; in fact, it is serving as the prosecutor, the judge and the executioner all at once.

Ironically, at least 11 of the think tank’s largest financial backers are themselves heavily implicated in using forced labor to produce their weapons, or in human trafficking. Boeing, Raytheon, BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin all make use of forced American prison labor to make their products, while certain national sponsors, including the United States and the UAE, engage in forced labor.

The organization that constantly attacks China was also among the driving forces behind the yearslong RussiaGate conspiracy in the United States. ASPI agents were flown across the world to provide supposedly expert testimony to the U.S. Senate hearings about alleged Russian interference online and in the 2016 election. Remarkably, ASPI’s report, “Hacking Democracies,” claims that only Russia and China interfere in other nations’ elections, blithely ignoring the long history of the American government doing just that.

Facing mounting criticism at home, ASPI has inexpertly attempted to launder its own image online. The organization was caught scrubbing negative information off its Wikipedia page while using an ASPI-registered I.P. address. A number of users editing the page to add positive content and remove negative information were identified as sock puppets (fake accounts controlled by another user to give the impression of a group consensus) and banned by Wikipedia. Journalist Marcus Reubenstein also discovered that another pro-ASPI Wikipedia editor named “Wyvern2604” was originally called “ASPI ORG” before changing their name. This sort of crude online propaganda is exactly what ASPI accuses its enemies of engaging in. Yet, far from being discredited and having its accounts removed, ASPI is now a leader, supposedly, in the fight against disinformation – whether the public likes it or not.

Signing on to Bellum Americanum

Australia’s stance on China has taken a dramatic turn in recent years. Once, it had enjoyed a cordial relationship with Beijing and developed deep economic ties to it. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, in and out of office between 2007 and 2013, even impressed his Chinese counterparts with his fluent Mandarin.

Yet as the United States has turned its eye upon Beijing, Australia has followed suit, joining the U.S.-dominated military organizations like The Quad (U.S., Australia, Japan, India) and AUKUS (Australia, U.K., U.S.), both of which are squarely aimed at preventing China’s further economic rise. To that end, there is a concerted U.S. effort to develop what senior generals have called an “Asian NATO,” sooner rather than later.

Media have worked with ASPI to hype the China threat, while politicians not going along with this dangerous jingoism are labeled “panda huggers.” To that extent, it has had a profound impact on public opinion. As recently as 2018, 82% of Australians saw China as an “economic partner” rather than a “security threat” (12%). However, by 2021, those numbers had radically shifted; 63% considering China a threat, and only 34% describing it as an economic partner. Even Rudd himself has become something of a China hawk, describing the country as “a 1,000-pound gorilla in the front living room.”

Historically, Australia has consistently followed the United States into whatever military endeavor it begins. There were nearly 8,000 Australian soldiers in Vietnam at the war’s peak, the country suffering some 3,500 casualties. It also accompanied the U.S. during the First Gulf War and the two largest post-9/11 campaigns.

This continues to the present day. Late last year, Australia committed to purchasing eight enormous nuclear submarines at a cost of around $64 billion. The announcement was understood on all sides to be a gesture to Washington, showing that Australia will stand by it, come what may. Yet as China is by far and away Australia’s largest economic partner (almost one-third of all Australian exports go to the P.R.C.), any conflict would be devastating. Thus, the enthusiasm with which the government in Canberra has chosen the U.S. over China speaks wonders about what it sees its true role as being. As Pilger put it:

In the words of a senior CIA officer once based in Australia, Australian prime ministers are ‘forever obsequious to us.’ Up until 2015, the relationship with China was pragmatic and businesslike. China is Australia’s biggest, most important trader. The relationship is now a spectacle akin to aiming a pistol at one’s own feet.”

“Australia now has become very much a part of the American confrontation with China,” Haigh said. “The Americans are dead set keen to take on China. It is not a matter of ‘if,’ it is a matter of ‘when,’ because that is what they want to do. They have made their minds up… It’s gunboat diplomacy with aircraft carriers,” he added.

The think tank-social media axis

Twitter’s collaboration with ASPI is part of a growing trend for the biggest social media platforms partnering with hawkish, state-sponsored think tanks. In 2018, Facebook announced it was collaborating with NATO think tank the Atlantic Council, whereby it gave an undisclosed amount of control over users’ news feeds to the group, allowing it to help Facebook decide what posts users saw and which ones were suppressed.

If anything, the Atlantic Council’s connections to state power are even deeper than ASPI’s. The council’s board of directors is a who’s who of powerful state figures – including senior statespersons like Condoleezza Rice and Henry Kissinger; a host of top U.S. generals, including Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis, Wesley Clark, and David Petraeus; as well as no fewer than seven former directors or acting directors of the CIA. Like ASPI, the Atlantic Council receives its funding from Western governments, weapons manufacturers, and big tech companies. As such, it represents the collective consciousness of the American state.

The Atlantic Council, like ASPI, has also been central to the rush towards potential war with Russia or China, the organization constantly putting out highly questionable reports of Russian or Chinese interference in domestic politics. Last February, the Atlantic Council published an anonymous, 26,000-word report outlining its vision for a future China. “The United States and its major allies continue to dominate the regional and global balance of power across all the major indices of power;” it wrote, hoping as well that head of state Xi Jinping will be “replaced by a more moderate party leadership; and that the Chinese people themselves have come to question and challenge the Communist Party’s century-long proposition that China’s ancient civilization is forever destined to an authoritarian future.” In other words, that China has been broken and that some sort of regime change has occurred.

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

Another former Atlantic Council hawk turned social media boss is Reddit’s Jessica Ashooh. Ashooh left her job as deputy director of the Atlantic Council’s Middle East Strategy Force to become Reddit’s director of policy – a position for which she was completely unqualified on paper.

A second, highly significant example of Twitter collaboration with state intelligence is the case of Gordon MacMillan. MacMillan is an active-duty officer in the British Army’s 77th Brigade, a unit dedicated to online operations and psychological warfare, yet was somehow appointed to become Twitter’s Head of Editorial. Despite his outing being covered extensively in alternative media (including in MintPress News), only one mainstream U.S. publication – Newsweek – even mentioned the revelations at all. The Newsweek journalist who wrote the story was forced out of the industry only a few weeks later. Yet to this day, MacMillan remains in his important post at Twitter, strongly suggesting the social media company knew of his role before he was hired.

Ultimately, what these incidents hint at is a fusion between social media and the national security state, something that the Twitter/ASPI union underlines. This has long been foreseen, even championed by both entities. At NATO’s 70th anniversary gala in 2019, Admiral James Stavridis, former NATO supreme commander for Europe, declared that his organization would very soon be “far more engaged” with tech and cybersecurity issues. But long before then, executives at Google were pitching their company as a new weapon for the U.S. empire. “What Lockheed Martin was to the twentieth century, technology and cyber-security companies [like Google] will be to the twenty-first,” wrote Eric Schmidt and Larry Cohen in their book, The New Digital Age, a book that came replete with a ringing endorsement from Henry Kissinger on the back cover.

Platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are far more widely used and influential than any newspaper or TV network. Whoever controls their algorithms and has the power to promote or delete accounts at will has significant influence over global public opinion; hence the desire to control them. When an organization like ASPI or the Atlantic Council has even some amount of editorial control over social media, that is tantamount to state censorship, but on a worldwide scale.

This power is already being used in a flagrantly anti-democratic manner. Just days before the Nicaraguan presidential election in November, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram worked, seemingly in unison, to essentially wipe the left-wing FSLN Party (a longtime bête noire of the U.S.) from the internet, purging thousands of accounts, channels and pages at the most politically sensitive time. Activists who had been suspended by Facebook for “inauthentic behavior” (i.e., being bots) poured on to Twitter, recording messages stating they were real people who supported President Daniel Ortega. Incredibly, Twitter took the decision to delete virtually all these accounts, too.

That Twitter intends more of these types of operations in the future is made clear by the fact that they announced partnerships with two other organizations at the same time as with ASPI. One is Venezuelan outlet, Cazadores de Fake News, a group that presents itself as a fact-checking organization but appears to be inordinately dedicated to attacking the left-wing government of Nicolas Maduro (another American target). Cazadores de Fake News tacitly endorsed the self-declared president, Juan Guaidó, a favorite of Washington. It was also supportive of the U.S.-backed military coup that briefly brought Bolivia’s Jeanine Añez to power in 2019. The other organization partnering with Twitter is the Stanford Internet Observatory, a group that boasts about training a new generation of (anti-Russian) leaders in Ukraine and whose director, Alex Stamos, is also on the advisory board of NATO’s Collective Cybersecurity Center of Excellence.

While the Australian Strategic Policy Institute might have started out and even operated for years with the best of intentions, it is increasingly clear that its primary role is to create crises – fake or otherwise – to serve their backers’ agendas. Once weapons were manufactured to fight wars; today, wars are often manufactured to sell weapons.

The interests of the U.S. government and of arms companies are not those of either the Australian public or of social media users. Where once the online space was a place where critical information could circulate freely, we increasingly live in an upside down world where a giant government influence operation is being carried out under the guise of protecting us from a similarly large (foreign) government operation.

ASPI has become not only a prime vehicle driving the West to war, but it now also holds considerable power to suppress dissenting opinions, meaning it can simply invent reality. That this organization is now partially in charge of Twitter’s moderation, influencing what hundreds of millions of people see daily, is a grave threat to the free flow of information, as well as to the chances for a peaceful 21st century.

Learning from Your Enemy: Methodological Failures in Western War Analysis

October 12, 2021

Source: Al Mayadeen

Failing to read and understand one’s enemy is dangerous, as Lao Tzu said many centuries ago, creating an ignorant ‘yes man’ culture of self-deception.

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“There is no greater danger than underestimating your opponent” – Lao Tzu

Washington’s role in at least eight Middle East wars of the 21st century (against the peoples of Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, Iran, and Yemen) has been hotly debated between two broad camps: those (including this writer) who regard them all as illegal wars of aggression; and those who either imagine they are not connected or defend them as the necessary policing measures of a global hegemon.

However this debate is plagued by poor method, and in particular by a strategic bias that adopts obligatory ‘loyalty’ elements and fails to study what are seen as enemy perspectives. That cripples even the most articulate and apparently critical discussions.

Yet failing to read and understand one’s enemy is dangerous, as Lao Tzu said many centuries ago, creating an ignorant ‘yes man’ culture of self-deception. The refusal to read and learn from a substantial enemy is simply childish or ignorant cynicism.

Let me illustrate this problem with a few articles from the ‘New Middle East’ wars, a piece on Yemen by Bruce Riedel (Brookings, 2017), an article on Iran by Hassan Hassan (Politico, 2020), and a discussion on terrorism by Paul Pillar (Responsible Statecraft, 2021). These are far from the worst of western war analysis, but all share similar methodological problems.

1. The obligatory but misleading element: strategic loyalty

Many years into these various wars, to ‘qualify’ as published war discussion western journals carry a strong expectation of some initial expression of loyalty to the overall project, if not to all the tactics. In the most obvious version of this, the analyst directly identifies with a state party at war, speaking in the first person plural (“we”).

So Riedel speaks of “our de facto enemies”, asking “why are we at war” with “the Houthis” (i.e. the Ansarallah-led Yemeni government), while Pillar refers to “our allies” and Hassan to “our adversaries”. This is an immediate sign of biased orientation, but also of a desire to please and so qualify with likely patrons.

Loyalty is also expressed by an early denunciation of the enemy. Most of the permissible western media criticisms of “Israel”, for example, begin with a denunciation of the Palestinian resistance, or of Iranian support for the resistance. At the least loyalty to the big power must be demonstrated by suggesting some kind of moral equivalence. 

The targets of terrorism should also be relatively privileged groups. In the case of Pillar’s criticism of Israeli terrorism, itself a departure from the normal western defense of the Zionist entity, he chooses the earlier British victims of Israeli terrorism – rather than the many thousands of contemporary Palestinian victims – and makes a moral equivalence with Palestinian resistance. The latter is typically reduced to “Hamas” and their alleged “poorly guided rockets”.  All this is to qualify the discussion for western publication and consumption.

Terminology also plays an important part in demonstrating loyalty, with the enemy described as a “regime” (implicitly illegitimate) and the intervening western power cloaked in an assumed stabilizing or conflict resolution role. 

With this in mind, Hassan speaks of Iranian influence as “a problem for the United States”, the Syrian government as a “regime”. Middle Eastern nations are said to be riven by sectarian conflicts (e.g. Sunni v. Shi’ite) and other “complexities”. On the other hand, Washington faces problems as a “stabilizing ally”. Pillar speaks of the Saudi-backed idea for repartition (and weakening) of Yemen as a “federal solution”.

2. Allowable criticism, within permissible space

Taking the problem-solving and stabilizing role of Washington as a given, criticism is allowed mainly as regards tactics. Accepting the benevolence of hegemonic prerogatives is a general principle of qualification. It is unimportant that this has little to do with post-colonial international law.

So Riedel writes of the US supposedly looking for a “political solution” in Yemen, while Hassan speaks of the US seeking to “stabilize” the region in face of the allegedly opportunistic agendas of Iran and the Saudis. 

Riedel also spoke of Yemen as a “complex problem” for US President Obama, while Pillar comfortingly agreed that it is necessary for Washington to “conduct business” with both “Israel” and Saudi Arabia, despite their terrorism. No real question is raised about what business the USA has initiating war after war in the Middle East region.

Indeed any serious questioning of the overall aims or strategy of western interventions would most likely invalidate or disqualify the article. It would not be published. Yet criticism of the tactical (and chronic) failure of interventionist wars to achieve their goals is allowed.

3. What can be learned from the enemy?

State integrated media (which includes most corporate media, as they are typically key associates of western states) typically steers mass audiences away from enemy media at times of war. Many analysts also either accommodate or fall prey to that prohibition. 

In recent decades we have seen many exhortations to stay away from the ‘regime media’ of China, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Syria, and so on. Enemy ‘regime’ media is often labeled as such in western social media. Not so the BBCVoice of America etc. In fact the US government has been busy taking down dozens of Iranian websites and banning or blocking Russian, Venezuelan, Chinese, Cuban, and other social media accounts linked to these various ‘enemy’ nations.

The problem for western war analysts in adopting this dictate is that important lessons are missed. In general, it is wrong to ignore ‘enemy’ sources because they might be seen as “biased” or “unreliable”. Any source with detailed information (as opposed to just spin and slogans) can be informative, properly read, in at least the following ways. 

A. Concessions and admissions: biased or enemy sources, when they contain detailed information, can make concessions on particular matters. This can help avoid pointless and endless debates. For example, senior US officials admitted in 2014 that US allies were funding and arming virtually all the Middle Eastern terrorist groups including ISIS, in support of US efforts to remove the Syrian Government. Syrian and Iranian sources had said this for some years, but the US admissions helped expose the charade.

B. Alerts to information and argument: hostile or ‘unreliable’ sources may alert us to particular information or argument, including independent factual information as well as vulnerabilities in enemy arguments. Any serious researcher or observer must remain open to the possibility that hostile sources might be correct, at least on some particular matters. The Israeli media, for example, understands this well. It has made the statements of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah virtually mandatory reading, while the man is effectively banned in much other western media, including social media.

The lesson, therefore, should be how to intelligently read enemy sources, rather than avoid them. This must be done according to principle, that is, with regard to general principle and using traditional forensic tools while recognizing self-interest. This requires developing an ability to distinguish between self-serving statements and admissions against interest, a common distinction in law.

Learning in this regard has more to do with observing the detail of argument and particular evidence, and less about the adoption and recitation of conclusions.

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

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)

ORWELLIAN: YouTube censors all videos from an academic conference on the dangers of censorship

By PatriotRising -February 18, 2021

censored

An academic conference on media censorship and the dangers of free speech infringements online has, ironically, been censored by YouTube.

The Google-owned video platform decided to pull all videos from the Critical Media Literacy Conference of the Americas 2020 for violating its “community standards,” which include never saying anything bad about censorship.

“At first I thought it was a joke,” said Mickey Huff of Diablo Valley College in California, as quoted by MintPress.

“My initial reaction was ‘that’s absurd;’ there must have been a mistake or an accident or it must have gotten swept under somehow. There is no violation, there was no reasoning, there was no warning, there was not an explanation, there was no nothing. The entire channel was just gone.”

The two-day event featured a number of esteemed speakers and panel discussions about Big Tech censorship and online violations of the First Amendment. So naturally it had to be pulled in its entirety in order to keep We the People from hearing the truth.

“Each video was a different panel and every panel had different people from the other ones, so it is not like there was one theme or person or copyrighted content in all of our videos,” added Nolan Higdon of California State University, East Bay, who was one of the event’s organizers.

“This seems to be an attack on the conference, not on a singular video.”

Big Tech needs to be broken up and publicly run so everyone has a voice

Higdon and his colleagues actually went out of their way to ensure that there was no copyright infringement in any of the talks or panels. Many of them were conducted in lecture format similar to a Zoom call, and included some of the best-known names in media studies.

“This wasn’t a keg party with Parler users: It was an academic conference,” Huff explained, noting that the event was sponsored by reputable schools like Stanford University and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

“These are pioneering figures in critical media literacy scholarship. It’s mind-numbing that all of this was just disappeared from YouTube. The irony is writ large … This is part of a potentially algorithmic way of getting rid of more radical positions that criticize establishment media systems, including journalism.”

Google reportedly told MintPress that it has no idea where the missing videos went, and claims they were never even uploaded to YouTube. The company found only one video in its archives and reinstated it.

This explanation does not cut it for Huff or Higdon, though, as the two seem to recognize that corporations like Google and YouTube have become digital tyrants that forcibly control the free-flow of information online to the degree that free speech no longer even exists.

“I don’t think they should have achieved this kind of power over our communication systems in the first place, and these should be publicly run platforms regulated the same way our government regulates and enforces the First Amendment,” Huff commented.

Higdon had much the same to say about the situation, warning that the tech giants have amassed so much power that they are now blatantly trampling the constitutional rights of millions of Americans without consequence.

“By empowering these tech companies to decide what is and is not appropriate, they are going to look out for their vested interests, and people who are critical of their business model and practices are going to be targets,” Higdon says.

“These lefties right now who are advocating for censorship … the outcome of this is going to be on them.”

More related news about Big Tech censorship can be found at Censorship.news.

Sources for this article include:

TheFreeThoughtProject.com

NaturalNews.com

Censorship’s Ugly Face in the US

Image result for Stephen Lendman

by Stephen Lendman

Source

State-sponsored/Big Media supported war on truth-telling threatens fundamental First Amendment rights — without which all others may be lost.

Increasing totalitarian rule in the US is all about eliminating a free and open society — police state enforced tyranny replacing it.

The constitutional right to express views freely — no matter how unacceptable to others — is on the chopping block for elimination.

The official, state-approved, falsified narrative, alone is considered acceptable in public discourse.

For exercising her First Amendment rights, undemocratic Dems and 11 complicit GOP House members stripped Rep. Marjorie Greene of her committee posts — a shameful breach of her constitutional rights.

She and all others in the US are constitutionally permitted to express views freely on all issues unobstructed. 

House Dems and complicit Republicans are guilty of a major constitutional breach that at minimum demands censure.

Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn what Greene said earlier.

Even if I profoundly disagree with her, I wholeheartedly support her right to publicly express views on any topics — on the House floor, on television when interviewed, on rooftops shouting them if she wishes.

She walked back from earlier comments, saying they reflect her past, not current values.

It was an inappropriate remark. The views of most people evolve over time.

My own changed a number of times through the years based on new or updated information.

In the US, diverging from the official narrative increasingly is at risk of being labeled domestic terrorism.

Greene reportedly tweeted: “Republican voters support (Trump) still. The party is his. It doesn’t belong to anybody else.”

She made other public remarks that diverged from the official narrative.

Action against her by Pelosi-led undemocratic Dems threatens the right of everyone to say anything they wish on all issues.

That fundamental right is fast eroding en route to disappearing altogether.

Fox News cancelled Lou Dobbs Tonight for the same reason Greene was targeted — for freely expressing his views that dissented from the official narrative.

According to the WSJ, he was taken off air following a “defamation lawsuit…by voting-machine company Smartmatic USA” that named him, two other Fox anchors and the network, the Journal adding:

His program was “one of the consistently highest-rated shows” — now replaced by Fox Business Tonight.

A staunch Trump supporter, Dobbs backed his claim of brazen Election 2020 fraud.

So do I!

In support of Dobbs, Trump noted his “large and loyal following that will be watching closely for his next move, and that following includes me.” 

A dubious Fox News statement said it “regularly considers programming changes, and plans have been in place to launch new formats as appropriate post-election, including on Fox Business.”

Networks don’t replace their top-rated shows with new ones.

Dobbs was taken off air for his views.

I know little about Greene, was never a Dobbs supporter, nor have ever watched his program.

Yet I condemn actions against them in flagrant breach of their constitutional rights to say whatever they wish about anything.

I’m no Trump supporter. I’ve been one of his sharpest critics throughout his time in office.

I strongly disagree with most of his views and actions.

On the topic of election-rigging for Biden, installing him in office by brazen fraud, I wholeheartedly share Trump’s view because he’s right.

He was reelected for a second term, getting more votes than any other presidential candidate in US history.

Biden lost. There’s no ambiguity about it. Indisputable evidence proved it.

Yet selected, unelected Biden is in the White House — publicly represented by a double for being too cognitively impaired to fulfill the duties of any office.

Trump returned to private life. Winning wasn’t enough for another term.

Election 2020 fraud was one of many examples of US fantasy democracy.

The real thing was banned from inception.

Totalitarian rule replaced it.

Today it’s on a fast track toward full-blown tyranny — wrapped in the American flag, part of ongoing mass deception about a nation unsafe and unfit to live in.

Years earlier, Political Science Professor Bertram Gross called governance in the US friendly fascism in his book using this title.

He described a slow, powerful “drift toward greater concentration of wealth and power in a repressive Big Business-Big Government,” Big Brother alliance, adding: 

What going on leads “toward a new and subtly manipulative form of corporatist serfdom.” 

Its friendly face turns dark as hardline policies emerge.

Gross passed away pre-9/11 in 1997. If alive today, he’d likely say I warned you about what’s coming. 

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

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:

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.

SYSTEMATIC CENSORSHIP: GOOGLE BANS TSARGRADTV’S YT CHANNEL AND ENTIRE ACCOUNT

South Front

In the very early hours of July 28th, the YouTube channel of TsargradTV was entirely banned, without an explanation.

“Now, until the situation is fully cleared up, instead of an official channel with high-quality video content, YouTube shows our viewers a black plug. The million-strong audience of Tsargrad, in fact, was cut off from the truth, which we were not afraid to speak directly on the air.”

TsargradTV is suing YouTube over its channel being closed.

“We have not received any alerts, notifications or strikes from YouTube. Moreover, the administration of the service still does not explain the reasons for the blocking. They simply refuse to get in touch with us, so we plan to resolve the conflict in court,” said the editor of the TV channel Daria Tokareva.

In addition, Tsargrad is preparing an official appeal to the YouTube administration demanding the restoration of the channel.

The largest media outlets wrote about the blocking of the Tsargrad TV channel on YouTube. Comments on the decision of the administration of the service appeared in a number of telegram channels, dozens of accounts on social networks.

Google, however, has chosen not to enter in any sort of discussion with TsargradTV.

Only in an interview with the Moscow city news agency did the press service of Google say the following:

“Google complies with all applicable sanctions and trade compliance laws. If we find that an account is in violation of these laws, we will take appropriate action.”

As such, Google simply said that it adheres to US sanctions on the territory of Russia.

As such, Tsargrad’s entire Google account was also blocked.

Systematic Censorship: Google Bans TsargradTV's YT Channel and Entire Account

“Your Google account has been locked and cannot be restored, due to a violation of export laws. If you’ve any queries, refer to a lawyer.”

The reason for blocking of the accounts allegedly was “violation of export laws.”

According to SocialBlade, the channel had 1.06 million subscribers the day before the block.

At the same time, the YouTube channel of the Two-Headed Eagle Society, headed by Konstantin Malofeev, the founder of Tsargrad, was also blocked.

YouTube’s notice reads: “Blocked for violating community guidelines.”

The Tsargrad channel, which appeared in 2015, positions itself as “the first Russian conservative information and analytical TV channel,” since the end of 2017 they stopped broadcasting and completely switched to online.

At the same time, in the fall of 2017, Malofeev created the “Two-Headed Eagle”, which he defined as “a society for the development of Russian historical enlightenment”; its goal is to promote monarchism and the history of pre-revolutionary Russia.

Malofeev himself has been under the sanctions of the European Union, the United States and Canada since 2014 due to accusations of financing the military conflict in eastern Ukraine.

SouthFront itself was recently banned on YouTube without a due explanation, and the support team continues the struggle against censorship.

MORE ON THE TOPIC:

Google blocks access to YouTube accounts of Iran’s Press TV, Hispan TV

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)

Google renews attacks on accounts of Iranian media outlets. (Illustrative image)

Tuesday, 10 December 2019 3:03 PM

Google has targeted Iranian broadcasters Press TV and Hispan TV once again, blocking access to their official YouTube accounts without any prior notice.

Over the past years, the US tech giant has recurrently been opting for such measures against Iranian media outlets. It has taken on Press TV more than any other Iranian outlet given the expanse of its viewership and readership.

The most recent move came on Tuesday. Users shortly flooded both the networks with messages asking why the international networks’ YouTube channels had been put out of service.

The two networks were last targeted in April, when Google similarly shut their YouTube and Gmail accounts.

The previous attack also denied the networks any advance notification, sufficing to cite a nebulous “violation of policies.”

Previously, Press TV’s YouTube channel was closed in September and November 2013 and April 2014.

The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting — which runs Press TV and Hispan TV as part of its World Service — has called such attacks clear examples of censorship.

‘Paying price for giving voice to the voiceless’

Reacting to Tuesday’s move, Press TV’s Website and Social Media Director Habib Abdolhossein said, “We have been adhering to Google policies, including those concerning user content and conduct policy. Even if we had violated any rules, they could have let us know.”

“Social media outlets were supposed to be a platform for the alternative views, but unfortunately they are rather politicized than socialized!” he said. “I think we are paying the price for being the voice of the voiceless.”

Following Donald Trump’s inauguration as US president in 2016, Washington ramped up its efforts to target the Islamic Republic.

The campaign even assumed the self-styled title of “maximum pressure” under the current US president. The drive has seen the US leaving a multi-party nuclear agreement with Iran last year, and returning the nuclear-related sanctions that the deal had lifted.

As part of the campaign, the US State Department has called on social media companies Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to block the accounts of Iranian government leaders, and iOS — a mobile operating system created by US company Apple Inc. — disabling Iranian applications.

Social Media Censorship Reaches New Heights as Twitter Permanently Bans Dissent

Mnar Muhawesh speaks with journalist Daniel McAdams about being permanently banned from Twitter, social media censorship and more.

Most recently, it was revealed that Twitter’s senior editorial executive for Europe, the Middle East and Africa is an active officer in the British Army’s 77th Brigade, a unit dedicated to online warfare and psychological operations.

In other words: he specializes in disseminating propaganda.

The news left many wondering how a member of the British Armed Forces secured such an influential job in the media.

The bombshell that one of the world’s most influential social networks is controlled in part by an active psychological warfare officer was not covered at all in the New York TimesCNNCNBCMSNBC or Fox News, who appear to have found the news unremarkable.

But for those paying attention and for those who have been following ’MintPress News’ extensive coverage of social media censorship, this revelation was merely another example of the increasing closeness between the deep state and the fourth estate.

Amazon owner, and world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos was paid $600 million by the CIA to develop software and media for the agency, that’s more than twice as much as Bezos bought the Washington Post for, and a move media critics warn spells the end of journalistic independence for the Post.

Meanwhile, Google has a very close relationship with the State Department, its former CEO Eric Schmidt’s book on technological imperialism was heartily endorsed by deep state warmongers like Henry Kissinger, Hillary Clinton and Tony Blair.

In their book titled, The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business, Eric Schmidt and fellow Google executive Jared Cohen wrote:

What Lockheed Martin was to the twentieth century…technology and cyber-security companies [like Google] will be to the twenty-first.”

Another social media giant partnering with the military-industrial complex is Facebook. The California-based company announced last year it was working closely with the neoconservative think tank, The Atlantic Council, which is largely funded by Saudi Arabia, Israel and weapons manufacturers to supposedly fight foreign “fake news.”

The Atlantic Council is a NATO offshoot and its board of directors reads like a rogue’s gallery of warmongers, including the notorious Henry Kissinger, Bush-era hawks like Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, James Baker, the former head of the Department of Homeland Security and author of the PATRIOT Act, Michael Chertoff, a number of former Army Generals including David Petraeus and Wesley Clark and former heads of the CIA Michael Hayden, Leon Panetta and Michael Morell.

39 percent of Americans, and similar numbers of people in other countries, get their news from Facebook, so when an organization like the Atlantic Council is controlling what the world sees in their Facebook news feeds, it can only be described as state censorship on a global level.

After working with the council, Facebook immediately began banning and removing accounts linked to media in official enemy states like Iran, Russia and Venezuela, ensuring the world would not be exposed to competing ideas and purging dissident voices under the guise of fighting “fake news” and “Russian bots.”

Meanwhile, the social media platform has been partnering with the U.S. and Israeli governments to silence Palestinian voices that show the reality of life under Israeli apartheid and occupation. The Israeli Justice Minister proudly revealed that Facebook complied with 95 percent of Israeli government requests to delete Palestinian pages. At the same time, Google deleted dozens of YouTube and blog accounts supposedly connected to the government of Iran.

In the last week alone, Twitter has purged several Palestinian news pages, including Quds News Network — without warning or explanation.

Electronic Intifada co-founder Ali Abunimah wrote, 

This alarming act of censorship is another indication of the complicity of major social media firms in Israel’s efforts to suppress news and information about its abuses of Palestinian rights.”

 

Alternative voices not welcome

The vast online purge of alternative voices has also been directed at internal “enemies.”

Publishers like Julian Assange and whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning are still being held in solitary confinement in conditions that international bodies and human rights groups call torture, for their crime of revealing the extent of the global surveillance network and the control over the media that Western governments have built.

As attempts to re-tighten the state and corporate grip over our means of communication increases, high-quality alternative media are being hit the hardest, as algorithm changes from the media monoliths have deranked, demoted, deleted and disincentivized outlets that question official narratives, leading to huge falls in traffic and revenue.

The message from social media giants is clear: independent and alternative voices are not welcome.

One causality in this propaganda war is Daniel McAdams, Executive Director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, a public advocacy group that argues that a non-interventionist foreign policy is crucial to securing a prosperous society at home. McAdams served as Senator Paul’s foreign affairs advisor between 2001 and 2012. Before that, he was a journalist and editor for the Budapest Sun and a human rights monitor across Eastern Europe.

McAdams, who spent much of his time on Twitter calling out the war machine supported by both parties, was recently permanently banned from the platform for so-called “hateful conduct.” His crime? Challenging Fox News anchor Sean Hannity over his hour-long segment claiming to be against the “deep state,” while simultaneously wearing a CIA lapel pin. In the exchange, McAdams called Hannity “retarded,” claiming he was becoming stupider every time he watched him.

Yes, despite that word and its derivatives having been used on Twitter over ten times in the previous minute, and often much more aggressively than McAdams used it – only McAdams fell victim to Twitter’s ban hammer. Something didn’t make sense about this ban. One only needs to read the replies under any of President Trump’s tweets to see far more hateful speech than what McAdams displayed to suspect foul play.

I spoke with McAdams about the ban and began by asking him if he accepts the premise of the ban, or if he believes something else was afoot.

Feature photo | Spirit Boom Cat | Shutterstock

Mnar Muhawesh is founder, CEO and editor in chief of MintPress News, and is also a regular speaker on responsible journalism, sexism, neoconservativism within the media and journalism start-ups.

Republish our stories! MintPress News is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.

Escalating Online Censorship

By Stephen Lendman
Source

In cahoots with dark US forces, anti-social media escalated their war on alternative views – ones conflicting with the official narrative by pulling down hundreds of pages.

The worst is likely yet to come. Censorship in America is the new normal – speech, media and academic freedoms threatened.

Facebook, Twitter, Google, and other tech giants are allied with Washington against digital democracy, the last frontier of media freedom.

Major print and electronic media operate as press agents for wealth, power, and privilege, suppressing what’s vital to know on issues mattering most.

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is increasingly ignored in America and Europe, stating:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

These fundamental rights and values are increasingly eroding. When they’re compromised, so are all others – free societies replaced by totalitarian rule, increasingly where US-led Western societies are heading.

In August, Facebook purged over 650 pages originating in Russia and Iran, falsely calling them malicious accounts engaged in disinformation.

Twitter suspended nearly 300 accounts at the same time, falsely accusing them of involvement in “coordinated manipulation.”

Ahead of November midterm elections, Facebook purged over 800 legitimate pages, including some with millions of followers.

Reliable indymedia sites and others were shut down for “inauthentic behavior” – code language for diverging from the official narrative, truth-telling exposing state-sponsored disinformation and Big Lies.

Facebook, Twitter, Google, and other tech giants are coordinating censorship tactics to suppress important alternative views on major issues.

They’re using censorship algorithms to greatly diminish traffic on targeted sites. Their so-called war on disinformation, fake news, hate speech, inappropriate language, spamming, and inauthentic behavior is all about blatant censorship, the hallmark of totalitarian rule.

Online censorship so far may be prelude for much worse to come. Maybe all content dark forces in Washington want suppressed will be eliminated – including truth-telling web sites.

America and other Western societies are on a slippery slope toward full-blown tyranny.

A month-ago article discussed the Trump regime’s plan to charge fees for groups wanting to demonstrate on the National Mall, a flagrant First Amendment violation if imposed.

Restricting public demonstrations on sidewalks in front of the White House and at other city locations, including Trump’s Washington hotel, was proposed – another affront to constitutionally protected speech and public assembly.

According to Partnership for Civil Justice Fund executive director Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, other US administrations tried curbing Washington protests.

Trump regime hardliners intend “the most bold and consequential overhaul” of First Amendment rights – way beyond where their predecessors dared go with enormous potential consequences.

“There’s never been such a large effort at rewriting these regulations. I don’t think there can be any question that these revisions will have the intent and certainly the effect of stifling the ability of the public to protest.”

Perhaps it’s coming everywhere after enforcing it in the nation’s capital.

Speech, media, academic, and assembly freedoms are threatened in America and other Western societies. 

Greatly curbing or prohibiting them is what tyranny is all about.

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