Gonzalo Lira: Notes On Being Unpersoned

September 19, 2022

ELON MUSK IS NOT A RENEGADE OUTSIDER – HE’S A MASSIVE PENTAGON CONTRACTOR

MAY 31ST, 2022

By Alan Macleod

Source

AUSTIN, TEXAS – Elon Musk’s proposed takeover of Twitter has ruffled many feathers among professional commentators. “Musk is the wrong leader for Twitter’s vital mission,” read one Bloomberg headline. The network also insisted, “Nothing in the Tesla CEO’s track record suggests he will be a careful steward of an important media property.” “Elon Musk is the last person who should take over Twitter,” wrote Max Boot in The Washington Post, explaining that “[h]e seems to believe that on social media anything goes. For democracy to survive, we need more content moderation, not less.” The irony of outlets owned by Michael Bloomberg and Jeff Bezos warning of the dangers of permitting a billionaire oligarch to control our media was barely commented upon.

Added to this, a host of celebrities publicly left the social media platform in protest against the proposed $44 billion purchase. This only seemed to confirm to many free speech-minded individuals that the South African billionaire was a renegade outsider on a mission to save the internet from authoritarian elite control (despite the fact that he is borrowing money from the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia in order to do so).

Musk has deliberately cultivated this image of himself: a real life Tony Stark figure who thinks for himself and is not part of the established order. But behind this carefully constructed façade, Musk is intimately connected to the U.S. national security state, serving as one of its most important business partners. Elon, in short, is no threat to the powerful, entrenched elite: he is one of them.

TO UKRAINE, WITH LOVE

Musk, whose estimated $230 billion fortune is more than twice the gross domestic product of Ukraine, has garnered a great deal of positive publicity for donating thousands of Starlink terminals to the country, helping its people come back online after fighting downed the internet in much of the country. Starlink is an internet service allowing those with terminals to connect to one of over 2,400 small satellites in low Earth orbit. Many of these satellites were launched by Musk’s SpaceX technologies company.

However, it soon transpired that there is far more than meets the eye with Musk’s extraordinary “donation.” In fact, the U.S. government quietly paid SpaceX top dollar to send their inventory to the warzone. USAID – a government anti-insurgency agency that has regularly functioned as a regime-change organization – is known to have put up the cash to purchase and deliver at least 1,330 of the terminals.

Starlink is not a mass-market solution. Each terminal – which is, in effect, a tiny, portable satellite dish – has a markedly limited range, and is useful only in hyper-local situations. Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation, estimated that the 10,000 Starlink terminals were allowing around 150,000 people to stay online.

Such a small number of people using the devices raises eyebrows. Who is important enough to be given such a device? Surely only high-value individuals such as spies or military operatives. That the Starlinks are serving a military purpose is now beyond clear. Indeed, in a matter of weeks, Starlink has become a cornerstone of the Ukrainian military, allowing it to continue to target Russian forces via drones and other high-tech machinery dependent on an internet connection. One official told The Times of London that he “must” use Starlink to target enemy forces via thermal imaging.

“Starlink is what changed the war in Ukraine’s favor. Russia went out of its way to blow up all our comms. Now they can’t. Starlink works under Katyusha fire, under artillery fire. It even works in Mariupol,” one Ukrainian soldier told journalist David Patrikarakos.

The reference to Mariupol alludes to the infamous Nazi group, the Azov Battalion, who have also reportedly been using Musk’s technology. Even in a subterranean cavern beneath Mariupol’s steelworks, Azov fighters were able to access the internet and communicate with the outside world, even doing video interviews from underground. In 2015, Congress attempted to add a provision to U.S. military aid to Ukraine stipulating that no support could go to Azov owing to their political ideology. That amendment was later removed at the behest of the Pentagon.

Dave Tremper, Director of Electronic Warfare at the Pentagon, sang SpaceX’s praises. “How they did that [keeping Ukrainian forces online] was eye-watering to me,” he said, adding that in the future the U.S. military “needs to be able to have that agility.”

ROCKETMAN

Such a statement is bound to get the attention of SpaceX chiefs, who have long profited from their lucrative relationship with the U.S. military. SpaceX relies largely on government contracts, there being almost no civilian demand for many of its products, especially its rocket launches.

Musk’s company has been awarded billions of dollars in contracts to launch spy satellites for espionage, drone warfare and other military uses. For example, in 2018, SpaceX was chosen to blast a $500 million Lockheed Martin GPS system into orbit. While Air Force spokesmen played up the civilian benefits of the launch, such as increased accuracy for GPS devices, it is clear that these devices play a key role in global surveillance and ongoing drone wars. SpaceX has also won contracts with the Air Force to deliver its command satellite into orbit, with the Space Development Agency to send tracking devices into space, and with the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) to launch its spy satellites. These satellites are used by all of the “big five” surveillance agencies, including the CIA and the NSA.

Thus, in today’s world, where so much intelligence gathering and target acquisition is done via satellite technology, SpaceX has become every bit as important to the U.S. war machine as more well-known companies like Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Without Musk’s company, the U.S. would not be able to carry out such an invasive program of spying and drone warfare around the world. Indeed, China is growing increasingly wary of this power, and is being advised to develop anti-satellite technologies to counter SpaceX’s all-seeing eye. Yet Musk himself continues to benefit from a general perception that he is not part of the system.

From its origins in 2002, SpaceX has always been extremely close to the national security state, particularly the CIA. Perhaps the most crucial link is Mike Griffin, who, at the time, was the president and COO of In-Q-Tel, a CIA-funded venture capital firm that seeks to nurture and sponsor new companies that will work with the CIA and other security services, equipping them with cutting edge technology. The “Q” in its name is a reference to “Q” from the James Bond series – a creative inventor who supplies the spy with the latest in futuristic tech.

Michael Griffin, left, meets with Musk, right, in 2005 at NASA Headquarters in DC. Renee Bouchard | NASA

Griffin was with Musk virtually from day one, accompanying him to Russia in February 2002, where they attempted to purchase cut-price intercontinental ballistic missiles to start Musk’s business. Musk felt that he could substantially undercut opponents by using second-hand material and off-the-shelf components for launches. The attempt failed, but the trip cemented a lasting partnership between the pair, with Griffin going to war for Musk, consistently backing him as a potential “Henry Ford” of the rocket industry. Three years later, Griffin would become head of NASA and later would hold a senior post at the Department of Defense.

While at NASA, Griffin brought Musk in for meetings and secured SpaceX’s big break. In 2006, NASA awarded the company a $396 million rocket development contract – a remarkable “gamble” in Griffin’s words, especially as it had never launched a rocket before. As National Geographic put it, SpaceX, “never would have gotten to where it is today without NASA.” And Griffin was essential to this development. Still, by 2008, SpaceX was again in dire straits, with Musk unable to make payroll. The company was saved by an unexpected $1.6 billion NASA contract for commercial cargo services. Thus, from its earliest days, SpaceX was nurtured by government agencies that saw the company as a potentially important source of technology.

NUKING MARS & BACKING COUPS

Like Henry Ford, Musk went into the automobile business, purchasing Tesla Motors in 2004. And also like Henry Ford, he has shared some rather controversial opinions. In 2019, for instance, he suggested that vaporizing Mars’ ice caps via a series of nuclear explosions could warm the planet sufficiently to support human life. If this was done, it would arguably not even be his worst crime against space. During a 2018 publicity stunt, he blasted a Tesla into outer space using a SpaceX rocket. However, he did not sterilize the vehicle before doing so, meaning it was covered in earthly bacteria – microorganisms that will likely be fatal to any alien life they encounter. In essence, the car is a biological weapon that could end life on any planet it encounters.

Musk also attracted attention when he appeared to admit that he worked with the U.S. government to overthrow Bolivian President Evo Morales in 2019. Bolivia is home to the world’s largest easy-to-extract lithium reserves, an element crucial in the production of electric-vehicle batteries. Morales had refused to open the country up to foreign corporations eager to exploit Bolivia for profit. Instead, he proposed developing sovereign technology to keep both the jobs and profits inside the country. He was overthrown by a U.S.-backed far-right coup in November 2019. The new government quickly invited Musk for talks. When asked on Twitter point blank whether he was involved in Morales’ ouster, Musk responded, “We will coup whoever we want! Deal with it.”

The South African has a long history of trolling and making inflammatory statements, so this “confession” might not be as cast-iron as it seems. Nevertheless, any hope of Musk profiting from Bolivia was shot after Morales’ party returned to power in a resounding victory one year later.

WORLD’S RICHEST MAN, FUNDED BY TAXPAYERS

In addition to the billions in government contracts Musk’s companies have secured, they also have received similar numbers in public subsidies and incentives. Chief among these is Tesla, which benefits greatly from complex international rules around electric vehicle production. In a push to reduce carbon emissions, governments around the world have introduced a system of credits for green vehicles, whereby a certain percentage of each manufacturer’s output must be zero-emission vehicles. Tesla only produces electric cars, so easily meets the mark.

However, the system also allows Tesla to sell their excess credits to manufacturers who cannot meet these quotas. In a competitive market where each manufacturer needs to hit certain targets, these credits are worth their weight in gold, and net Tesla billions in profit every year. For example, between 2019 and 2021 alone, Stellantis, which owns the Chrysler, Fiat, Citroen and Peugeot brands, forked out nearly $2.5 billion to acquire Tesla U.S. and European green credits.

This bizarre and self-defeating system goes some way to explaining why Tesla is worth more by market cap than Toyota, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, GM, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, and Volvo put together, despite not being even a top-15 car manufacturer in terms of units sold.

Musk’s company also received significant government backing in its early stages, receiving a $465 million low-interest loan from the Department of Energy in 2010, at a time when Tesla was on the rocks and its future was in doubt.

Like many giant companies, Tesla is able to play states off against each other, each job-hungry location bidding against the others to give the corporation as much free cash and tax incentives as possible. In 2020, for example, Austin gave Tesla more than $60 million in tax breaks to build a truck plant there.

This, however, was small fry in comparison to some of the deals Musk has signed. The State of New York handed Musk over $750 million, including $350 million in cash, in exchange for building a solar plant outside of Buffalo – a plant that Musk was bound to build somewhere in the United States. Meanwhile, Nevada signed an agreement with Tesla to build its Gigafactory near Reno. The included incentives mean that the car manufacturer could rake in nearly $1.3 billion in tax relief and tax credits. Between 2015 and 2018, Musk himself paid less than $70,000 in federal income taxes.

Therefore, while the 50-year-old businessman presents himself as a maverick science genius – an act that has garnered him legions of fans around the world – a closer inspection of his career shows he earned his fortune in a much more orthodox manner. First by being born rich, then by striking it big as a dot-com billionaire, and finally, like so many others, by feeding from the enormous government trough.

Perhaps more seriously though, SpaceX’s close proximity to both the military and the national security state marks it out as a key cog in the machine of U.S. empire, allowing Washington to spy, bomb or coup whoever it wants.

It is for this reason that so much of the hysteria, both positive and negative, over Musk’s ongoing purchase of Twitter is misplaced. Elon Musk is neither going to save nor destroy Twitter because he is not a crusading rebel challenging the establishment: he is an integral part of it.

CENSORING PALESTINE: SWARMS OF ISRAELI BOTS ARE CRIPPLING PRO-PALESTINIAN TWITTER ACCOUNTS

MAY 17TH, 2022

Source

By Jessica Buxbaum

OCCUPIED EAST JERUSALEM — On April 29, Inès Abdel Razek woke up to 80 new Twitter followers.

“These accounts were following the exact same people that were tweeting about Palestine, but from France or Francophone accounts that work on Palestine,” Razek said of her new followers.

The advocacy director of Rābet, the Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy’s digital platform, became wary of the issue after Abier Khateb, a grants manager at Open Society Foundations, reported mass followings as well.

Razek told MintPress News that she began individually reporting each account as fake but kept her own account open — lest she let the alleged bots win. But after a few days, Razek made her profile private. At the peak of the mass following, Razek had accumulated 400 fake followers.

From the end of April through the first few weeks of May, more than 40 pro-Palestine Twitter accounts reported mass followings. Digital-rights experts say acquiring huge amounts of fake followers triggers Twitter’s algorithm and can lead to the tech giant suspending an account, effectively censoring users by forcing them to make their accounts private.

These accounts included those belonging to human rights and activist organizations Adalah, Combatants for Peace, Breaking the Silence, and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights. They also included news publications and journalists, like The Palestine Chronicle, Ali Abunimah and Hind Al-Eryani; and politicians, such as Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian ambassador to the United Kingdom. Twitter did not respond to MintPress inquiries on the source of the suspicious accounts.

Dr. Marc Owen Jones, an assistant professor at Hamad bin Khalifa University, conducted an analysis that found more than 1,150 fake accounts. Twitter deleted approximately 1,090 of these accounts, according to Jones. His analysis determined that the average account-creation time was one to three per minute, suggesting these accounts were created using an automated process.

The profiles were in various languages, including French, Spanish, English and German, but usually had Arabic bios. They often had strange names — like Noble Betty Thomas — and zero followers.

“They had clearly made-up names,” Sarah Leah Whitson, who also experienced a large influx of new followers, told MintPress. “The vast majority of them had Israeli names and Israeli addresses. Some of them had made-up Arab names, which were mangled. It’s clear that they’re [using] stolen images of people.”

In response to the bulk followings, software developer Daniel Easterman created a free script to automatically report and block hundreds of these bots for users.

Easterman said the spamming problem has a censorship effect by forcing users to make their accounts private. “This means they won’t be able to distribute their messages widely as they would normally,” Easterman told MintPress News.

Another area of particular concern is how a flood of fake followers may cause Twitter to shut down an account. “When you see such a dramatic increase in followers, it’s usually somebody manipulating the system for commercial gain,” Easterman said. “So that could trigger Twitter to automatically flag that as suspicious activity and suspend the activist’s account.”

Using Twitter to target human rights defenders and journalists isn’t unusual. In 2017, journalist Iona Craig and others who report on Yemen were spammed with thousands of fake followers. Many speculated the culprits were state entities belonging to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The reason behind this particular mass following campaign remains unknown. Jones hypothesized it’s acting as a form of social media suppression, writing on Twitter:

Some suggest it’s a means to degrade the algorithmic quality of a Twitter account so that it possibly gets suspended; some suggest it’s others trying to boost popularity of an account. When it’s unsolicited, as in this case, I tend to think it’s more of a targeting operation. I am naturally cynical, but most people who get a sudden influx of fake followers feel unnerved and uncomfortable. If that fact is widely known, it functions as a tool of surveillance and potentially intimidation (e.g., you are being watched). It also makes many people mute their accounts for a bit which has a censorship effect.”

Razek, Whitson, and others told MintPress that the flood of fake followers appears to be diminishing for them. However, a new operation has emerged.

In the past week, Jones found around 2,800 fake accounts following pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist accounts who have recently been tweeting on the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu-Akleh.

“This network is likely the same as the one found at [the] end of April, although now it is active,” Jones wrote on Twitter.

The accounts have between 0 to 20 followers, with the majority of bios written in English and simply stating the account location, which is Israel. Most accounts don’t have a banner picture and the profile pictures have purportedly been swiped from real people.

According to Jones, the accounts have begun liking and retweeting posts, without any real partisan regularity: they like both pro- and anti-Palestinian subject matter and follow both pro-Zionist and pro-Palestinian accounts but appear to target the pro-Palestinian side more. Accounts targeted include The Jerusalem Post; the government of Israel’s official state account; activist organization Jewish Voice for Peace; the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement; Israeli journalist Ilan Pappe; and former Palestinian Liberation Organization executive committee member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi.

Again, the reason for the bulk followers remains unclear. “Those who get followed understandably find it intimidating, as if a form of surveillance or a technique to try and degrade [the] quality of an account with low-quality follows,” Jones wrote on Twitter. “The fact remains, these are clearly fake accounts and ruin the experience of Twitter.”

CENSORSHIP OF PALESTINE, AN ONGOING PROBLEM

Palestinian digital-rights experts have long decried the increasing censorship of Palestinian content online. During Israel’s assault on Gaza and the upticks in Israeli attacks at Al-Aqsa Compound and in Sheikh Jarrah in May 2021, Palestinian activists reported social media companies were removing their content on Israeli violence and ethnic cleansing for violating community guidelines.

The social media censorship didn’t stop when tensions died down over the summer, though. Last month, social media users in Jordan said their posts related to Israeli violence at Al-Aqsa were taken down and their accounts blocked. Additionally, accounts belonging to Palestinian news publications covering the violence in occupied East Jerusalem and at Al-Aqsa were deactivated by Facebook.

In their recent monthly report on social media violations, Palestinian NGO Sada Social stated the deletion of Palestinian content “is in line with and in response to Israeli requests to tighten the screws on Palestinians and their media.”

Palestinian-American model Bella Hadid also accused Instagram of shadow-banning (having content viewership limited) her pro-Palestinian content during Ramadan.

Razek suggested the swarm of fake followers on Twitter may be an extension of Instagram’s alleged shadow-banning. “The purpose is to pollute our algorithms and make our accounts less visible. So in the way that Instagram is shadow-banning some content, this could be a way that Twitter shadow-bans our content,” she said.

While the identities behind the fake followers haven’t been revealed, many have pointed to Israel. The Israeli government’s targeting of Palestinian digital content is well-documented. According to 7amleh – The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media, the Israeli Ministry of Justice Cyber Unit sends content-removal requests aimed at Palestinian content to social media companies such as Facebook, Google, and YouTube. The Justice Ministry has boasted these corporations comply with 95% of their requests. And Israeli governmental organizations and NGOs also encourage their citizens to flag Palestinian content for removal.

ATTACKING FREE SPEECH

Tech billionaire Elon Musk’s pending purchase of Twitter came with a promise of securing free speech on the digital platform. “Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” the self-declared free-speech advocate said in a statement about his Twitter deal.

While digital-rights experts like Jones are wary of Musk’s potential Twitter takeover, Whitson, who’s experienced targeted attacks, harassment, and censorship threats for decades for speaking out against Israeli abuses, views the buyout positively.  For the executive director of nonprofit Democracy for the Arab World (DAWN), the risk of corporate censorship is a bigger issue than online hate speech. Whitson said:

I’m hopeful that Elon Musk will be true to his word to protect and promote free speech and to end concerted efforts to target and cancel speech that we don’t like. Seeing how Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have launched systematic efforts to silence pro-Palestine activist voices, I’m very wary of corporate moderators deciding what speech is and isn’t acceptable.”

Whitson doesn’t agree the bots are a form of censorship, but she does see them as an assault on free speech. “It’s a form of targeted harassment and bullying,” she said. “It’s a targeted attack on people who are speaking freely, including journalists and human rights activists.”

Twitter Shouldn’t Tolerate Mainstream Media Journalists Glorifying Terrorism

29 APRIL 2022

Source

By Andrew Korykbo

Siddiqui is a perfect example of what the US-led West truly thinks about terrorists in Pakistan. While their governments sometimes talk tough about them for political reasons, they secretly support their crimes whenever they target Chinese.

Twitter is known for its contentious moderation policies, but perhaps none are more controversial than its tolerance of Mainstream Media (MSM) journalists who glorify terrorism. Taha Siddiqui is one such journalist who just engaged in that shocking act on this platform earlier in the week. He describes himself on his account as a “Pakistani in exile” who’s reported for the New York Times, The Guardian, Al Jazeera, and France 24. Accordingly, Twitter verified his account by giving him a blue check.

What he just did, however, should arguably get his account deactivated. Siddiqui went on a tweetstorm glorifying the suicide bomber who just blew up three Chinese teachers and their Pakistani driver in Karachi. Regardless of one’s position towards those separatists’ political cause, there’s never any justification for killing innocent people nor in blowing oneself up in order to do so. The female killer was a bonafide terrorist whose crime would have been universally condemned had she done it in the West.

Because she only killed Chinese and a Pakistani in Karachi, however, Siddiqui is able to glorify this suicide bomber with impunity. His partnership with the MSM, self-description as a “Pakistani in exile”, and blue check all mean that he’s untouchable by the platform. Siddiqui is a perfect example of what the US-led West truly thinks about terrorists in Pakistan. While their governments sometimes talk tough about them for political reasons, they secretly support their crimes whenever they target Chinese.

The “Balochistan Liberation Army” (BLA) that Siddiqui glorified in his tweetstorm was designated by the US as a terrorist group in 2019. Twitter is based in the US and must therefore comply with American law. It’s therefore of contentious legality for this platform to continue hosting Siddiqui’s tweetstorm. They’re arguably violating their own moderation policies and American law by keeping it up, though it’s unclear whether they’ll ultimately take it down, not to mention whether they’ll deplatform him as punishment.

One can only imagine the reaction if a Russian, Chinese, or Iranian journalist glorified a US-designated terrorist group that just carried out a suicide bombing attack in a Western country’s largest city. Not only would they be promptly deplatformed, but the MSM would turn their tweetstorm into a global scandal. They’d probably also speculate that the journalist in question was reflecting their homeland’s tacit support of whatever terrorist group it might be.

Nobody should expect that to happen with Siddiqui, however, since his tweetstorm reflects the West’s tacit support of the BLA’s anti-Chinese terrorist attacks. Twitter’s punishment of him would be the legally and morally right thing to do but the company remains close to the US’ permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) so it’s unlikely to do so unless activists across the world succeed in turning this into a global scandal.

Absent that scenario, the platform will likely keep Siddiqui’s tweetstorm up since it embodies the West’s undeclared support for the BLA’s Hybrid War on CPEC. Elon Musk, who just purchased Twitter, might even defend his new company’s decision if publicly challenged to do so as evidence of its support for free speech. The reality, however, is that Siddiqui’s tweetstorm is nothing but propaganda in support of a US-designated terrorist organization. It only remains up because of the West’s selective standards.

Pepe Escobar and Danny Haiphong; Russia, China, and the Post-Dollar World

April 28, 2022

Big Tech’s ‘Cancel Culture’ Love Affair

April 21, 2022

Source

Cancel culture is inbuilt in the techno-feudalist project: conform to the hegemonic narrative, or else.  Journalism that does not conform must be taken down.

By Pepe Escobar
Special to Consortium News

This month, several of us – Scott Ritter, myself, ASB Military News, among others – were canceled from Twitter. The – unstated – reason: we were debunking the officially approved narrative of the Russia/NATO/Ukraine war.

As with all things Big Tech, that was predictable. I lasted only seven months on Twitter. And that was long enough. Contacts in California had told me I was on their radar because the account grew too fast, and had enormous reach, especially after the start of Operation Z.

I celebrated the cancelation by experiencing an aesthetic illumination in front of the Aegean Sea, at the home of Herodotus, the Father of History. Additionally, it was heart-warming to be recognized by the great George Galloway in his moving tribute to targets of the new McCarthyism.

In parallel, comic relief of the “Mars Attacks” variety was provided by expectations of free speech on Twitter being saved by the benign intervention of Elon Musk.

Techno-feudalism is one of the overarching themes of my latest book, Raging Twenties – published in early 2021 and reviewed here in a very thoughtful and meticulous manner.

Cancel culture is inbuilt in the techno-feudalist project: conform to the hegemonic narrative, or else. In my own case regarding Twitter and Facebook – two of the guardians of the internet, alongside Google — I knew a day of reckoning was inevitable, because like other countless users I had previously been dispatched to those notorious “jails”.

On one Facebook occasion, I sent a sharp message highlighting that I was a columnist/analyst for an established Hong Kong-based media company. Some human, not an algorithm, must have read it, because the account was restored in less than 24 hours.

But then the account was simply disabled – with no warning. I requested the proverbial “review”. The response was a demand for proof of ID. Less than 24 hours later, came the verdict: “Your account has been disabled” because it had not followed those notoriously hazy “community standards.” The decision was “reviewed” and “it can’t be reversed”.

I celebrated with a Buddhist mini-requiem on Instagram.

My hit-by-a-Hellfire missile Facebook page clearly identified for the general public who I was, at the time: “Geopolitical analyst at Asia Times”. The fact of the matter is Facebook algorithms canceled a top columnist from Asia Times – with a proven record and a global profile. The algos would never have had the – digital – guts to do the same with a top columnist from The New York Times or the Financial Times.

Asia Times lawyers in Hong Kong sent a letter to Facebook management. Predictably, there was no response.

Of course becoming a target of cancel culture – twice – does not even remotely compare to the fate of Julian Assange, imprisoned for over three years in Belmarsh under the most appalling circumstances, and about to be dispatched for “judgment” in the American gulag for the crime of committing journalism. Yet the same “logic” applies: journalism that does not conform to the hegemonic narrative must be taken down.

Conform, or Else

At the time, I discussed the matter with several Western analysts. As one of them succinctly put it, “You were ridiculing the U.S. president while pointing out the positives of Russia, China and Iran. That’s a deadly combination”.

Others were simply stunned: “I wonder why you were restricted as you work for a reputable publication.” Or made the obvious connections: “Facebook is a censorship machine. I did not know that they do not give reasons for what they do but then they are part of the Deep State.”

A banking source that usually places my columns on the desks of selected Masters of the Universe put it New York-style: “You severely p****d the Atlantic Council”. No question: the specimen who oversaw the canceling of my account was a former Atlantic Council hack.

Ron Unz in California had the account of his extremely popular website Unz Review purged by Facebook on April 2020. Subsequently, readers who tried to post their articles met with an “error” message describing the content as “abusive”.

When Unz mentioned my case to renowned economist James Galbraith, “he really was quite shocked, and thought it might signal a very negative censorship trend on the Internet.”

The “censorship trend” is a fact – for quite a while now. Take this U.S. State Department 2020 report identifying “pillars of Russia’s disinformation and propaganda ecosystem.”

State Dept. Directive

The late Pompeo-era report demonizes “fringe or conspiracy-minded” websites who happen to be extremely critical of U.S. foreign policy. They include Moscow-based Strategic Culture Foundation – where I’m a columnist – and Canada-based Global Research, which republishes most of my columns (but so does Consortium NewsZeroHedge and many other U.S. websites). I’m cited in the report by name, along with quite a few top columnists.

The report’s “research” states that Strategic Culture – which is blocked by Facebook and Twitter – is directed by the SVR, Russian foreign intel. This is ridiculous. I met the previous editors in Moscow – young, energetic, with enquiring minds. They had to quit their jobs because after the report they started to be severely threatened online.

So the directive comes straight from the State Department – and that has not changed under Biden-Harris: any analysis of U.S. foreign policy that deviates from the norm is a “conspiracy theory” – a terminology that was invented and perfected by the C.I.A.

Couple it with the partnership between Facebook and the Atlantic Council – which is a de facto NATO think tank – and now we have a real powerful ecosystem.

It’s a Wonderful Life

Every silicon fragment in the valley connects Facebook as a direct extension of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)’s LifeLog project, a Pentagon attempt to “build a database tracking a person’s entire existence.” Facebook launched its website exactly on the same day – Feb. 4, 2004 – that DARLA and the Pentagon shuttered LifeLog.

No explanation by DARPA was ever provided. The MIT’s David Karger, at the time, remarked, “I am sure that such research will continue to be funded under some other title. I can’t imagine DARPA ‘dropping out’ of such a key research area.”

Of course a smokin’ gun directly connecting Facebook to DARPA will never be allowed to surface. But occasionally some key players speak out, such as Douglas Gage, none other than LifeLog’s conceptualizer: “Facebook is the real face of pseudo-LifeLog at this point (…) We have ended up providing the same kind of detailed personal information to advertisers and data brokers and without arousing the kind of opposition that LifeLog provoked.”

So Facebook has absolutely nothing to do with journalism. Not to mention pontificating over a journalist’s work, or assuming it’s entitled to cancel him or her. Facebook is an “ecosystem” built to sell private data at a huge profit, offering a public service as a private enterprise, but most of all sharing the accumulated data of its billions of users with the U.S. national security state.

The resulting algorithmic stupidity, also shared by Twitter – incapable of recognizing nuance, metaphor, irony, critical thinking – is perfectly integrated into what former C.I.A. analyst Ray McGovern brilliantly coined as the MICIMATT (military-industrial-congressional-intelligence-media-academia-think tank complex).

In the U.S., at least the odd expert on monopoly power identified this neo-Orwellian push as accelerating “the collapse of journalism and democracy.”

Facebook “fact-checking professional journalists” does not even qualify as pathetic. Otherwise Facebook – and not analysts like McGovern – would have debunked Russiagate. It would not routinely cancel Palestinian journalists and analysts. It would not disable the account of University of Tehran professor Mohammad Marandi – who was actually born in the U.S.

I received quite a few messages stating that being canceled by Facebook – and now by Twitter – is a badge of honor. Well, everything is impermanent (Buddhism) and everything flows (Daoism). So being deleted – twice – by an algorithm qualifies at best as a cosmic joke.

Pepe Escobar’s latest book is Raging Twenties. He remains un-cancelled on VKTelegram and Instagram.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

Gonzalo Lira: “YouTube bans any open discussion about the Bucha false flag”

April 05, 2022

Allies of the Devil: Twitter Suspends Al-Ahed News Account for Covering Palestinian Op against ‘Israeli’ Occupiers

Dec 10, 2021

By Al-Ahed News

It was just one day after the heroic operation carried out by a Palestinian teen against an ‘Israeli’ occupier of the land of her ancestors, that Twitter, pushed by the Zionist Mossad, took an unjust measure against one of the resistance media platforms.

In a shameful alliance with the devil, the social media giant is attempting to silence the voices of righteousness that are simply working to cover the truth as it is.

On Wednesday, December 8, 2021, a 15-year old Palestinian girl had the courage to frighten one member of the occupying community whose leaders have been killing her peers ever since they occupied the land of Palestine.

Allies of the Devil: Twitter Suspends Al-Ahed News Account for Covering Palestinian Op against ‘Israeli’ Occupiers

And as far as the freedom of expression is a fundamental human right as stated in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, then:

“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.”

However, Twitter chose to side by the criminal and to turn a blind eye at its murders, while labelling those taking the act of resistance to restore their land, safety, and normal life as the faulty ones.

Al-Ahed News website promises its audience and all truth-seekers that it will continue its mission of being the voice of the voiceless, namely the oppressed ones in Palestine, Yemen, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and every spot of the world where injustice is practiced.

Kindly follow our new Twitter account: @ahdonaeng

Twitter Suspended My Account to Appease the Zionist Lobby; Help Me Get It Back!

Source: Al Mayadeen

Laith Marouf

Twitter supports the rights of Zionists to harass Palestinians on its platform and threaten their livelihood and their income.

Twitter Suspended My Account to Appease the Zionist Lobby; Help Me Get It Back!

My 11-year-old Twitter account has been permanently banned by the USA-based social media platform. In its email to me announcing the decision, Twitter quotes 4 of my tweets as evidence of the accusations that I am in violation of their rules against “hateful conduct”, and that I “promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease.” Twitter further states: “Additionally, if we determine that the primary purpose of an account is to incite harm towards others on the basis of these categories, that account may be suspended without prior warning.”

There are many things that could be said about the legality of Twitter granting itself the power to judge speech or to levy accusations of crimes actionable under the Criminal Code of Canada and Title 18 of the US Code of Laws. By appointing itself judge, jury and executioner, and claiming the power to permanently sully the reputation of individuals, it usurps their rights under the basics of Natural Justice and Common Law, denying their right to the presumption of innocence, to knowing their accuser and the accusations against them, to cross-examine their accusers and present a defense, and finally to be judged by their peers.    

But in my opinion, the most flagrant violation of rights in the decision to ban me lies in equating the political ideology of Zionism with a race, ethnicity, or a national origin; and, more importantly, to imply that opposing the Settler Colonial ideology of Zionism, and the violence, genocide, and infanticide that are results of its quest to create an exclusively “Jewish” State; is in itself an act that “promotes violence against” or “directly attack or threaten” other people. 

Zionism: a political ideology, not a race, ethnicity, national origin or religion 

Let us unpack this for a minute. Zionism is a political ideology, like Capitalism or Communism, etc. Those who adhere to Zionism come from all walks of life. Therefore, criticizing Zionism is not targeting anyone based on their “Race”, as there is no such thing as a Zionist race; all kinds of abhorrable people pronounce that they are Zionist, from Irish-American President Biden to Brazilian President Bolsanario. Criticizing Zionism is not targeting anyone based on their “ethnicity”; there are Zionist Germans, Zionist Anglos, Zionist French, etc. Criticizing Zionism is not a hateful conduct based on someone’s national origin, as there are many “Israeli” Palestinian citizens and a plurality of other Israelis who are not Zionist. And finally, criticizing Zionism is not targeting anyone based on its religious affiliation, for the largest numbers of those who call themselves Zionists are Christian North Americans and Europeans, and there are many followers of the Jewish faith that reject Zionism.

So, if there is no “other” as defined by Twitter, how can its accusations of “hateful conduct” that “promote[s] violence” or “direct attacks” or “threaten” be accepted? Although there are no valid “victims” in the accusations by Twitter, let us nevertheless take a look at the language it finds threatening and hateful. 

Twitter objects to my use of the following terms: 

– Zionism is Jewish White Supremacy, Genocide and Infanticide. 

– Apartheid Canada and Apartheid “Israel”.

Zionism is a Settler project to Colonize Palestine with European citizens some of which professed Judaism and to create an Imperialist beachhead colony that perpetually causes war in Western Asia and North Africa, and physically fractures the geographic continuity of the Arab world. To create and maintain the Colony, Zionism and its followers committed and continue to perpetrate Genocide against the Indigenous population of Palestine and  Infanticide against the Palestinian children. Zionism works to maintain the White Supremacist Imperialist structures that oppress the Arabic-speaking people; i.e. Zionism is Jewish White Supremacy. Since the Balfour Declaration by the British Empire, and the official launching of the Zionist Colony, more than a million Palestinians were murdered, and since only the beginning of 2021, Apartheid Israel killed at least 200 Palestinian children.

As for Apartheid “Israel” and Apartheid Canada, not much needs to be said when every major human rights organization on the planet – and in historic Palestine – have labeled the Colony as Apartheid, and when thousands of Indigenous children are being excavated from mass graves in Apartheid Canada, and the whole world knows about the Infanticide Camps nefariously named Residential Schools.

In any case, whether you agree with my opinion or not, they all fall under fair and free speech and do not target, harass or advocate violence against a group of people based on their religion, ethnicity or national origin. Looking at the tweets in question, it is clear the complaint against me came from a man named Mark Goldberg. I’ll explain a few things below.

Media Law and Policy, from CRTC to Twitter

I work as a Consultant for Broadcasting Law and Policy, specifically the rights of Indigenous Nations, Racialized communities and/or those who are living with disabilities; communities granted Protections with laws and policies, i.e. Protected Groups. My work can be viewed here.

Part of my work is testifying at the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission in Canada on files like the license renewal of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, CBC, and its compliance with its license conditions and Broadcasting Act provisions, in regards to the rights of Protected Groups to Access, Reflection and Employment at the network.

My work naturally attracts the attention of individuals who support the Zionist ideology. To them, it is very angering to see a Palestinian citizen of Apartheid Canada appearing at the Commission speaking about these important issues.

In that light, Mr. @Marc_Goldberg, who himself is very involved in the Broadcasting sector and hosts an annual conference for the industry, began harassing me online; first in a general manner, and then specifically in regards to my comments at the CRTC during the CBC hearing. 

On the 22nd of January, 2021, Goldberg tweeted attacking CMAC’s presentation at the hearing, targeting our suggestion that CBC reporters have a duty to point out when the Canadian state violates its treaty obligations with Indigenous Nations. 

Later in the day, Goldberg tweeted a second attack on CMAC, in regards to the CBC administration banning the use of the word ‘Palestine’ on its platforms, and attached a link stating “Palestine doesn’t exist”. 

Because we are both involved in Journalism and Media Production and Policy, and are Public persons and have no private life as such, I did not make a Twitter complaint against him. 

Unfortunately, my policy of respecting his right to free speech led Goldberg to increase his harassment. As the most recent war in Palestine raged two months ago, Goldberg posted a link to a funding grant I received from the CRTC. The file was related to a CRTC call for comments on how the Commission can deliver on its duties as laid out in the Accessible Canada Act (ACA). CMAC, where I work as a Senior Policy Consultant, helped Indigenous and Racialized Communities living with disabilities to participate and produce interventions on the record that would address their rights as prescribed by the ACA. 

Mr. Goldberg was asking how someone like me (a Palestinian) would get funding for this work at the CRTC. He was putting my livelihood and income at risk, and, therefore, bullying me in my workspace that he is also present in. Hence, he was crossing the threshold between Verbal Harassment to Physical Harassment that causes financial harm. Even then, I believed that I could just respond through the exercise of free speech, pointing out how his opinions, which I disagree with and find racist, don’t seem to be stopping the CRTC from participating in his annual industry conference. 

Mr. Goldberg harassed me for months publicly on Twitter, on Hearings I participated in at the CRTC, all relating to the rights of Indigenous and Racialized peoples and/or living with disabilities. Mr. Goldberg attempted to harm my livelihood because he disagreed with my opinions that are protected under the law at the Commission; a Tribunal with powers superseding a Federal Superior Court, where I am held legally responsible under the law for what I say. Because Mr. Goldberg knew he could not challenge my work at the CRTC because it was legally sound, he chose to harass me on Twitter. And when he lost the public debate online after I engaged him, he had the audacity to complain to Twitter about my replies to his harassing posts regarding my work and income.

I hope this lays out the Legal Obligations of Twitter in regards to these specific tweets. The posts Mr. Goldberg complained about, are related to work and speech I presented at a Tribunal of the Canadian Government, where I was/am legally liable for my work. My interventions were accepted on the record of the CRTC. Therefore, in deeming my tweets violent and discriminatory, Twitter is assuming powers by superseding those of the CRTC and usurping the legitimate appeal process that requires complaints to be presented to a Federal Court of Appeal in Canada or to the Governor in Council (the Cabinet of Ministers). (You can watch/listen to CMAC’s oral presentation at the hearing, where we open with “Apartheid Canada” and speak of Palestine, at this link

My assessment of why Mr. Goldberg targeted my account is confirmed by his latest tweet on the subject, where he gloats about having my account suspended and seems to suggest he is also targeting Carleton University professor, Dwayne Winseck. 

Finally, Twitter quotes a fourth tweet I made in its email, outlining its decision to suspend my account. In that tweet, I stated: “if you come to my home and try to steal it or harm my children, it will lead to a bullet in your head.” 

Obviously, there is no promotion of violence against any “Protected Groups” in this statement, except if you consider House Thieves or Children Killers are protected groups. What is ironic about this tweet is the fact that I wrote it, while visiting my wife’s family in Louisiana, a “Stand your grounds” state, where by law a person has the right to shoot and kill anyone who invades their home and harms their children. Of course, we know that “Stand your grounds” doesn’t apply to Black/Brown/Arab peoples, and is a privilege reserved for White Colonists in the USA or Apartheid “Israel”. By dictating that my post was promoting violence, Twitter is asserting that  Colonists have the full right of looting, pillaging and murdering children; considering that the settler’s behavior supersedes the rights of the Colonized populations to defend themselves. 

Twitter usurped the powers of Courts and accused innocents of legally actionable crimes under the criminal laws of Canada and the USA. It denies the basic rights guaranteed under Natural and Common Law, including the presumption of innocence, the right to cross-examines the accuser, and the right to be judged by equal peers. It appoints itself as judge, jury and executioner; and shields Supremacy, Genocide, Infanticide and Apartheid from criticism. It supports the rights of Zionists to harass Palestinians on its platform and threaten their livelihood and their income. Furthermore, it asserts that any fight back against this behavior is threatening, violent and itself a form of harassment.

Private Corporations and the rights to free speech

In my 20 years of activism for the liberation of Palestine, I have faced many injustices similar to this Twitter Ban, and almost all stem from the same speech. In 2001, I was the first Arab candidate to be elected to a student union executive in Canada; at Concordia University in Montreal. Within months I was expelled summarily through a Dictate from the President of the University for writing that “Zionism is Jewish Supremacy”. During our 6-month court battle, Concordia argued that it is not a public institution but, rather, a private corporation that can refuse service to any “customer” (not student?!?). This is the same argument that Twitter makes. Although the judge erroneously agreed that Concordia is a private corporation, he nevertheless ruled that it cannot expel a customer without affording them the basics of Natural Justice and Common Law when it accuses them of crimes prescribed in the Criminal Code and that if it did not do so, it then would be violating the Canadian Charter of Right and Freedoms (Constitution). Concordia had no choice but to reinstate me as a student and then afford me an internal hearing that abides by the minimums of Common Law. Naturally, I won in the tribunal under these conditions. 

A year later, the Chair of the Department of History at Concordia, who was also the Chair of the Zionist lobby group, the Human Rights League of B’nai B’rith, decided to accuse me of promoting hate because I said Zionism is Jewish Supremacy and that “Israel” is an Apartheid state. The internal Concordia tribunal that was convened to rule over these accusations, after months of deliberations, also found that my statements are covered under fair speech and cannot be considered hate speech no matter how appalled and angered my critics were. 

Given that none of the Tweets quoted in the decision to suspend my account can be construed as promoting hate or violence against a Protected Group; given that it is clear my accuser is actually harassing me online; given that the grave accusations leveled against me are actual crimes in the Criminal Code of Canada; given that my basic rights under Natural Justice and Common Law dictate that I must have a fair trial before being found guilty of such crimes; the only legal and ethical thing Twitter can do is to remove the suspension on my account and restore my tweets.

I urge all readers to tweet this article at @Twitter @TwitterSuppport and @Jack and ask for my account to be reinstated. 

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

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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

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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

*

Twitter isn’t censoring accounts to keep users ‘safe’, it is using its power to spoon-feed the world establishment narratives

 

Eva Bartlett

April 30, 2021, RT.com

-by Eva K Bartlett

It’s one thing to have policies against violence, abuse, and harassment. But in “protecting” users, Twitter is hell-bent on censoring voices that rock the boat, even when all they have tweeted is a peer-reviewed scientific paper.

Twitter censorship victim #?…@goddeketal cites a scientific paper on masks, get put in Twitter slammer.

😵
🤦

In his Telegram group, he wrote:

“I was put into Twitter jail for citing a peer-reviewed scientific paper. Cancel science is real. 

“What’s especially concerning is that I didn’t make any personal comment on the paper’s content. I only said that regarding that paper, masks CAN lead to massive health damages. It’s the conclusion of a scientific piece of work that has been peer-reviewed by at least 2 experts in the field.” 

According to Twitter, Goddek violated their policy on, “spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to Covid-19.”

The article in question wasn’t even as risqué as others and merely addressed undesirable side effects of mask wearing. How is that “misinformation”

I spoke with Goddek to learn more about what happened. Turns out, it’s not the first time. 

“The first time I got censored because I cited a scientific, peer-reviewed paper on masks. I was just citing their work, and I got put into Twitter jail. In that tweet, I was saying, ‘Look, it seems masks don’t work.’  So, I also said my opinion. 

“This time, I found another study on masks, which says there are adverse effects if you wear masks. So, I was citing the paper without putting my own opinion, and they censored me again, made me delete it and put me into Twitter jail again.” 

On April 17, Naomi Wolf tweeted she had been locked out of Twitter for the fourth time for sharing a Stanford study, “proving the lack of efficacy of masks.” That study was also peer-reviewed.

This isn’t merely a case of Twitter deciding that Goddek and Wolf were not in the position to be discussing the efficacy or dangers of masks. Twitter is censoring pretty much anything about Covid that doesn’t match the narrative promoted by the WHO, CDC, and other such bodies.

Even a well-known epidemiologist has faced Twitter’s wrath. An article in the American Institute for Economic Research noted:

“Harvard Professor Martin Kulldorff and co-creator of the Great Barrington Declaration, one of the most cited epidemiologists and infectious -disease experts in the world has been censored by Twitter. His tweet on how not everyone needs a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 was not taken down. He had a warning slapped on it and users have been prevented from liking or retweeting the post.”

That article also emphasized: “Dr. Kulldorff serves on the Covid-19 vaccine safety subgroup that the CDC, NIH, and FDA rely upon for technical expertise on this very subject.” 

On April 10, a group called Drs4CovidEthics tweeted

“Not a month on Twitter & we were locked out of our account, forced to delete our pinned tweet. We must self-censor or be banned says Twitter (paraphrasing) We mustn’t contradict official sources. But our letters contradict official sources. With good reason. Which we can’t tweet.”

What do they know better than Twitter censors? They’re merely “doctors & scientists from 25+ countries, including heads of ICU, world leading immunologists, experts in public health, drug safety, respiratory illness, GPs, researchers in vaccines, pharmacology, virology, biochemistry…”

I searched for more examples of extreme Twitter censorship and found further censorship of vaccine related information, and one person’s hypothesis on why vaccine talk is so particularly taboo: “$157 billion buys a lot of Facebook and Twitter bans.” 

The popular independent website Off Guardian recently was locked out of Twitter for sharing one of its own articles on Covid vaccines, they told me. 

In fact, Twitter has been censoring Off Guardian for at least a year. When users try to open a tweet to an Off Guardian article, they are met with a warning that the link could be potentially spammy or unsafe.

The warning continues with a large blue button advising to return to the previous page, and a teeny tiny “continue” on to the article option. Same thing for the independent Canadian website Global Research.

Last year, I tried to tweet an article written by respected journalist F. William Engdahl for New Eastern Outlook (NEO). Twitter wouldn’t allow me to even tweet it, instead giving me an error message about the link being “potentially harmful.” 

And it’s not only matters of Covid. Just now, I tried to tweet another NEO article, not related to Covid, and was again met with the same message. 

A Twitter account focusing on the propaganda around Xinjiang had his account suspended.

And when the New York Post wrote exposés about Hunter Biden’s emails, Twitter locked the Post’s account.

Which makes it all the more clear this isn’t about “facts” or “safety” but blatant censorship. 

Whether or not you agree with a point or comment being made by one of the people censored by Twitter, we should be allowed to access their perspective, research for ourselves and come to our own conclusions. We don’t need Twitter to hold our hands and spoon-feed us establishment narratives. 

Twitter’s “rules” page reads:

“Twitter’s purpose is to serve the public conversation. Our rules are to ensure all people can participate in the public conversation freely and safely.” 

If you believe that, as the saying goes, I have a bridge to sell you.

Birth of the Digital Oligarchy: The Trump Ban and the Social Media Ruse

Birth of the Digital Oligarchy: The Trump Ban and the Social Media Ruse

By Raul Diego

Source

The events at Capitol Hill provided the perfect excuse for Twitter and other social media companies to advance the agenda of their benefactors in the permanent government of the United States

On January 6, as the events unfolding at the U.S. Capitol were discussed on Twitter, the barrage of opinions predictably accumulated on one side of the political spectrum. Outrage over what mainstream pundits characterized as the desecration of the symbols of democracy and similar bleeding heart liberal rhetoric was far more prevalent than the opposing camp’s tendency to side with the so-called “insurrectionists” or tweets in support of the made-for-social media putsch.

Evidence of straight forward collusion between elements of law enforcement and the Trump loyalists who stormed the Congressional building began to emerge throughout the evening, giving a measure of credence to the emerging narrative of a purported “coup” attempt by the sitting president. Simultaneously, members of Congress with large followings started calling for impeachment and other retaliatory measures against fellow members of Congress, who seemed to be implicated in the tawdry affair.

On January 6, as the events unfolding at the U.S. Capitol were discussed on Twitter, the barrage of opinions predictably accumulated on one side of the political spectrum. Outrage over what mainstream pundits characterized as the desecration of the symbols of democracy and similar bleeding heart liberal rhetoric was far more prevalent than the opposing camp’s tendency to side with the so-called “insurrectionists” or tweets in support of the made-for-social media putsch.

Evidence of straight forward collusion between elements of law enforcement and the Trump loyalists who stormed the Congressional building began to emerge throughout the evening, giving a measure of credence to the emerging narrative of a purported “coup” attempt by the sitting president. Simultaneously, members of Congress with large followings started calling for impeachment and other retaliatory measures against fellow members of Congress, who seemed to be implicated in the tawdry affair.

Predictably, conservative publications like Fox News decried the measures as a power grab by Big Tech and protestations came as far away from Europe, where German Chancellor, Angela Merkel – whose disdain for Donald Trump has never been a secret – called the decision to deplatform a head of state “problematic,” an opinion shared by France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Marie, who warned of a “digital oligarchy” usurping the powers of the state.

Missing in the salacious back-and-forth conversation between ideological factions and absent from the argument that they are private corporations, which have the legal authority to ban or deplatform anybody they wish, is the fact that Twitter, Facebook, and all the other major social media platforms are organs of the state to begin with, and that nothing they do falls outside of the ultimate designs of the powers they serve. 

Examples abound of how these platforms regularly engage in cyber reconnaissance missions for American and Atlanticist interests in violation of their own terms of service, such as when NATO commanders made use of coordinates provided by Twitter users in order to select missile strike targets in their war against Libya in 2011. 

Facebook’s recently created oversight board includes Emi Palmor, who was directly responsible for the removal of thousands of Palestinian posts from the social media giant during her tenure as Director of Israel’s Ministry of Justice. She, along with other individuals with clear sympathies to American interests, now sit on an official body tasked with emitting the last word on any disputes regarding issues of deplatforming on the global social network. 

Following you since 1972

In Yasha Levine’s seminal work, “Surveillance Valley,” the military origins of the Internet and the close relationship of social media companies to federal and local law enforcement are made patently clear. Since their creation, Twitter, Facebook, and other Silicon Valley behemoths have worked hand in hand with law enforcement agencies to augment their capacity for mass tracking and surveillance.

From facial recognition technologies to aggregated user post history, these platforms have been a crucial component in the development of the pervasive surveillance state we now live in. In the book’s prologue, Levine details the attempted creation of a citywide police surveillance hub in Oakland, California called the “Domain Awareness Center” (DAC), which drew intense opposition from the local citizenry and privacy advocates who were quick to undress city officials who were trying to hide the proposed center’s insidious links to the NSA, CIA and military contractors.

Among other capabilities, the control hub would be able to “plug in” social media feeds to track individuals or groups that posed any kind of threat to the establishment. While the DAC project was successfully defeated by an engaged public, similar initiatives were quickly implemented throughout law enforcement agencies across the country and continue to be perfected in order to not only track, but infiltrate political groups deemed problematic. 

From the early 1970s, when the Internet’s precursor ARPANET was used to spy on anti-war protestors, the vast machinery that constitutes our present-day technological ecosystem has not deviated from the original intentions of its creators and has reached a level of sophistication most of us can barely comprehend.

The seemingly innocuous ad-targeting algorithms that generate bespoke advertisements based on our surveilled lives via social media conceals a far more sinister architecture of control, which includes direct influence over people’s political opinions through micro-targeted messaging and even more insidious methods that are powerful enough to influence people’s actual behavior.

Amateur honeypots and the victory of the surveillance state 

One of the biggest misconceptions we have about social media is that platforms like Twitter and Facebook represent the voice of the people and that they are the new “public square” where anybody can get on and voice their opinion. While this perception holds some water on the surface, a closer examination reveals that – on the contrary – these platforms are simply propaganda tools brilliantly disguised as vox populi.

According to a Pew Research study from 2019, 80% of all tweets are created by just 10% of Twitter users. Most people who have an account on the ostensibly left-leaning social media platform rarely tweet at all. In addition, a majority of the content is created by accounts with very large followings and, in most cases, verified accounts that mainly represent established mainstream media personalities. 

Given that the politics espoused by this minuscule portion of the social network’s user base are amplified by the platform’s own algorithms, which have been shown to contain biases as all algorithms do, the perception that these platforms represent some kind of public opinion is revealed to be a very dangerous assumption.

A case in point is disturbingly reflected in a meme that ostensibly developed in yet another social media platform and rapidly spread on Twitter as a result of the incident on Capitol Hill. A tweet posted the day after on January 7 claimed that a woman in Washington D.C. was changing her profile preference on the Bumble dating app to “conservative” in order to entrap “insurrectionists” looking to hook up while visiting the nation’s capital by forwarding their photos to the FBI.

The tweet received hundreds of thousands of ‘likes’ and was retweeted thousands of times. The comments expressed overwhelming support for what amounts to an ostensibly spontaneous snitching operation by regular American citizens against other American citizens. In such a case, whether the meme itself is true has no bearing on the fact that Twitter, Facebook and any other platform where it was disseminated has the ultimate effect of normalizing and generating consent for the idea of self-monitoring and bringing the designs of the surveillance state full circle.

Twitter wipes Trump’s latest message

January 06, 2021

The Saker

Found this on RT: https://www.rt.com/usa/511748-trump-peace-capitol-censored/

This is the tweet Twitter removed:

Actually, Twitter admits to removing TWO tweets:

Does anybody happen to know what the other one was?

Related

The Fascist neo-left and the Trump Factor

Source

The Fascist neo-left and the Trump Factor

November 21, 2020

by Ghassan Kadi for the Saker Blog

Nearly three weeks after the American elections, Americans and the world in general, are still none-the-wiser; not knowing who really won and if the votes have all been legitimate or otherwise.

And the man who is supposedly trying to make America respectable again, yes, Joe Biden, started his ‘tenure’ ironically by presenting his own disrespect by breaking the law and declaring himself as ‘president elect’ and establishing an illegal entity in the name of the ‘Office of President-Elect’.

There are serious accusations that allege that dead people have voted, that boxes of late illegal ballots (all voting for Biden) suddenly appeared from no-where, that the Dominion machines have been deliberately rigged in a manner that favoured Biden, that ballot observers from the Trump camp were not allowed to scrutineer, and much more.

Whilst all of the above points are considered allegations from the legal point of view, the Democrat camp should not be concerned at all if it has nothing to hide. If anything, if it is serious about restoring America’s respect in the eyes of the world, it should encourage transparency and investigations that prove without a single speck of doubt that they are all false. But that same camp that refused the legitimate results of a Trump win four years ago and then fabricated stories like Russiagate and others, is now urging the whole world to believe that the alleged Biden win is legitimate and that there was no interference.

Apart from allegations, what each of us knows for fact is that the media, especially social media, especially Facebook and Twitter have been instrumental in restricting and censoring posts and comments that favour Trump. At the same time, they implemented a blackout relating to the serious allegations of corruption about Biden and his family. If this is not interference in the election results, then what is?

Given the reach and power of social media, and given that most people are not interested in fact-finding, Facebook and Twitter have been engaged in a deliberate campaign of choosing what they allowed to be published and preventing others based only and only on their political views vis-à-vis the American elections.

Once the dust settles one way or the other, if there is any justice left in this world, social media personnel who have forged and implemented those policies must face trial.

What is most ironic about this whole new world that is everything but brave, is that the filthy rich and corrupt are cloaking themselves with the attire of the Left. There is really nothing left of the original Left in today’s Left.

Many, if not most of today’s ”Lefties” are inclined towards the current version of the political Left without really discerning that much has changed since the days of Castro and Guevara.

Today’s Left does not represent the working class.

Today’s Left is not concerned with achieving social justice.

Today’s Left is not concerned with ending capitalism and feudalism.

Today’s Neo-Left, is the consortium of globalists who own sweat shops in developing countries. They are the war-mongers, the arms dealers, the foot soldiers of thought police and they insist that your six-year-old children and grandchildren must learn about subjects like gender fluidity instead of learning history.

The devolution of the former political Left has been taking place for at least three decades, since the collapse of the USSR perhaps and the emergence of the so-called ‘New World Order’. But the 2016 Trump election has fast-tracked the process. George Soros who has an axe to grind with Communism became overnight the principle benefactor of most post-USSR Left movements. For better or for worse, it was as if he wanted to make sure that he contained the Left in a manner that deviates it from its original ideology. But he is not alone, and he is probably not doing this only and only because of political conviction. His ‘bigger’ partners, whether he is aware of their presence or not, have got a much bigger fish to fry; the fish of global control.

But is globalism what it appears to mean or is it a new form of hegemony? Let us not get into this herein. This will be the subject of the next article. Enough to say that what seems to surface from the actions and agendas of globalists is that they are adamant about destroying Western values; including democracy.

When my wife and I were in Russia on the 70th Anniversary of Victory over Nazi Germany, we were in total awe watching the Eternal Regiment on Nevski Prospect in St. Petersburg. Men and women proudly, silently and dignifiedly marching carrying photos of family members who perished fighting the Nazi malice. What was most amazing was seeing young boys and girls giving flowers to the elderly as a mark of respect. This is because students in Russia study history. The young generations must never take for granted the privileges they have. If they do not understand and respect the sacrifices of their forebears, they will never be able to realize what their own obligations are for today and the future. Many Americans do not know what the 4th of July stands for any more than they know how many States there are in the Union. Children growing up in the West have no idea, no idea at all, how and why they live in affluent countries with public services and government-financed welfare.

And when the million man/woman march was over many hours after it started, we could not see a single empty drink can dumped on the street, not even cigarette butts. And then we remembered that a few days earlier when we were in Moscow admiring among other things, the subway/metro stations, we did not witness any evidence of vandalism or graffiti either on the carriages or in the stations.

A far cry from what we see in the West, because to be proud of who one is has become taboo in the West; courtesy the neo-Left and their henchmen.

Personally, I used to feel concerned of what the armed Right-wing Evangelicals might do if they have it their way. But despite their heavy public display of weapons, I didn’t see any evidence to show that they have taken to the streets for the purpose destroying shops and looting. In saying this, and I am not saying that the pro-Trump militias are incapable of perpetrating organized violence, but recently thus far they haven’t. If anything, with all the BLM-associated violence and the attacks Trump supporters have recently faced, the armed conservatives have thus far displayed a huge degree of self-control and abidance by the rules of the law. They argue that their presence is to protect private and public property, and evidence seems to stack up in their favour.

On the other hand, and despite the bias of mainstream media, videos have emerged showing BLM supporters not only looting, but also terrorizing those who disagree with them and refuse to put their fist up in show of support.

Today’s Neo-Left activists are the ones using Nazi tactics; not the other way around. They are the controlled opposition and the foot soldiers of the thought-police; and these are undeniable facts. If anything, the Trump factor has enhanced their exposure.

And if you resurrect Guevara and catapult him into today’s political world without giving him a crash refresher course, he would not know which side of the political divide is which. If anything, he may think that it is the other way around.

In the event of a Biden win that Trump’s supporters may see as unfair, they may be driven to become violent, I don’t know. What I do know is that I have seen serious and concerning rowdy violent behaviour from the Left that makes me now feel that I am more fearful of organizations such as Extinction Rebellion than I am from the armed Evangelicals.

When the late and great Martin Luther King Jr. made his historic ‘I have a dream’ speech, he did not dream of a day when angry mobs would use the excuse of human rights in order to loot and pillage, gang attack supporters of their political opponents, and break the law and Constitution.

And when John Lennon sang ‘Give Peace a Chance’ and ‘Imagine’, he was hoping that one day political leaders would take heed and start putting their hearts before what they can achieve militarily.

Among other things, the thing with Trump is that he is/was not a politician. What drove him from being a profiteering tycoon to a man who wants to end American wars in the world is not something I can explain or understand. Clearly though, even if he is merely running America as a corporation, he must realize that it is not in America’s interests to be constantly engaged in expensive wars that do not have any benefit for America itself. If this is pragmatism from a profit-and-loss business perspective, then I don’t have any problems with this. I want to see American troops pulling out of conflict regions in the world. They have no business in Japan, South Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq and my beloved Syria to name a few places.

The thing about Trump is that he is not even a typical die-hard Republican. The archetypal Republicans are not a bunch of ‘nice guys’ either. How can anyone forget the legacy of the GOP? How can we forget George W Bush’s war on Iraq and his lies about the alleged Iraqi WMD’s? And what about his gang of infamous neo-cons; Perle, and Wolfowitz; not to forget Cheney, McCain, and many more from the gung-ho Republican Right that invaded both Afghanistan and Iraq, killed at least a million civilians and only ended up creating more problems than the ones they claimed they needed to resolve?

Whether Trump wins or loses the legal battle against what looks like a huge body of evidence of electoral fraud at different levels, between now and January the 20th 2021, unlike what the social media brainwashers want people to think and believe, he is not a ‘presidential candidate’, he remains to be the President of the United States of America and he remains to be the Commander in Chief.

To this effect, in as much as the POTUS is domestically building up a huge legal case against the alleged win of Biden, he equally seems to be preparing for the worst-case scenario on international matters. He is working on the contingencies of losing by seemingly making serious efforts into ending wars and the presence of American troops overseas. May he be successful doing this if he is true to his word.

But Mr. President, if you really want to clean up the slate as much as possible in case you lose the legal battle against the corrupt who serve the Deep State, you must then remember that partial withdrawals do not end wars. A drawdown is not a withdrawal. Stand by your promise and let history festoon you as the man who ended all of America’s wars overseas. For even if you leave one soldier, yes Mr. President, one single American soldier on the soil of Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, or any other place on earth where his presence is not legitimately requested by the people of that land, then you will be remembered in history as the man who faked withdrawals of American troops; and you despise fake actions Mr. President, don’t you?

Last but not least Mr. President, you must at least stop the oil theft from Syria, repeal the Caesar Act, and pardon Assange.

Assange Mr. President is the victim of your enemies. His ‘crime’ was to expose the dirty works of Hillary. How can you not drop all charges against him?

And Mr. President, should you win the legal battle and prove that your opponents have cheated the public, you MUST then clean up the swamp with an iron fist and a high pressure hose. Zuckerberg, the Clintons, the Bidens, CNN, as well as officials that helped fabricate stories about you. The whole gamut of filthy lying manipulators must face justice and the next four years will be a case of now or never.

The electoral issues are something for the American legal system to decide; provided that the system continues to have the power to reach a decision that is lawful and not dictated by the party machine of the Democrats, their cohorts and henchmen with Facebook, Twitter and Google being on the top of the list.

Martin Luther King Jr. would now be saying I’m having a nightmare, I am having a nightmare because in the name of social justice, in my name, protestors are attacked, shops are looted and elections are getting rigged.

The failings of the Neo-Left do not mean that the neo-Right, Trumpism, is always or even necessarily sometimes right by default. What is pertinent is that the choice between the former and traditional Right and Left has now morphed into a choice of discerning right from wrong, and it is the Neo-Left activists who are behaving like Fascists, courtesy the Trump factor.

And now, a message from our friends of the American Jewish Congress about free speech

Source

November 18, 2020

Got that in my inbox today.  And when they say “enough is enough”, they mean it.  The hate free speech and the First Amendment which protects it.


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

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.

Twitter Suspends Al-Ahed News English Account For No Clear Reason!

Twitter Suspends Al-Ahed News English Account For No Clear Reason!

By Staff

Beirut – Twitter has once again suspended al-Ahed News English account as part of its got-used-to crackdown on the freedom of speech.

Al-Ahed News will keep its job covering news and humanitarian issues and being the voice of the oppressed and the vulnerable, despite all attempts to silence them.

Ahed News English: https://twitter.com/ala_alahed

Kindly follow and help us spread the news!

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