Aletho News


Guardian Watch – Freedland Remembers Yemen is a Thing

By Kit Knightly | OffGuardian | October 20, 2018

Jonathan Freedland has weighed in on the Khashoggi case. He’s outraged, of course. Because they all are. Every single voice in the mainstream world has suddenly realised just how appalled they are that Saudi Arabia does bad things.

They weren’t appalled a few weeks ago, when the Saudis blew up a bus full of school children.

But they are appalled now, because Mike Pompeo was told by the Turkish government, who were told by the Turkish secret service, that a reporter who may or may not be dead, might have been killed by a super-secret Saudi Arabian hit squad (who then died in a car accident). There are video and audio recordings to prove all of this but we’re not allowed to see them yet.

Freedland recounts these alleged gory details with po-faced prurience. Apparently, they might have used a chainsaw. But that’s not really what his article is about – his article is about attempting to claw back some credibility in the face of (perfectly justified) accusations of massive hypocrisy, and deeper questions about the motivations of the media and the agenda of the Deep State.

You see, Yemen is a thing.

It’s the poorest country in the Middle-East and it’s being systematically destroyed by its vastly richer neighbours, with the full backing and cooperation of NATO. In fact, we’re making a fortune out of it. Bombs are expensive, the Saudis need a lot of them, and you can only use them once. Ker-ching.

Domestically, Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy with a laughable track-record when it comes to human rights. This has been known for decades, it is talked about a lot. Barely a week goes by without some author, somewhere in the alternate media, writing up a story about the crimes of the House of Saud – either international or domestic. So why are we just now hearing about them in the mainstream?

When he was selling wars in Libya and Syria, did Freedland ever once suggest the “humanitarian bombing” of Riyadh?

Did he object to his paper selling ad space to promote the Muhammed bin Salman, “the great reformer”?

Did he boycott events or protest arms deals or in any way speak out?

Did he devote even a single one his columns to the war in Yemen?

People all over the world are asking: “Why are the Saudis suddenly the bad guys? Why can’t Jamal Khashoggi be brushed under the carpet as if he’s nothing but a burning bus full of children or a napalm-strewn wedding reception?”

It’s a question no one in the media has an answer for. They are aware of the contradiction though, and they are busily trying to get around it.

This is Freedland’s attempt:

I can understand the frustration of campaigners for Yemen that the death of one man has captured a global attention that has so rarely focused on the tens of thousands killed…But sometimes it takes the story of a single individual to break through. So it has proved with Khashoggi.

That’s it. A simple brush-off.

That’s the new narrative – nobody really realised just how bad the Saudis were until now. This is the big reveal. The “oh shit” moment. None of them had been on twitter, or read the alternate news or even looked at the comments BTL on their own articles. Yes, Yemen was there in the background but – through forces beyond everyone’s control – it just never broke through to the public consciousness. Oops.

He’s trying to imply that the news just sort of happens, like it’s an organic process beyond the control of the mere mortals writing the stories or filming the segments or thinking up the headlines.

That is patently absurd. We know how the media works, and it’s not some Jungian expression of the collective will. To suggest as much is insulting and ridiculous.

The news is a system by which a handful of mega-corporations distribute propaganda and manipulate public opinion. It is rigidly controlled. They push some issues to the front page and shovel others down the memory hole. When they need to, they make stuff up. Every headline is picked for a purpose, every omission deliberately made. Cogs turn and push the constantly-evolving agenda forward. There are no accidents, and the process is anything but organic.

It’s mechanical. And like all machines, it lacks a soul. There has been no grand awakening of the media conscience. There is no such thing.

There was a reason Yemen was banished to the far reaches of the press for four years. There was a reason the mainstream media were happy to white-wash the Saudi Arabians as they pummelled school buses and weddings with bombs British and American arms companies probably over-charged them for.

There’s a reason every big newspaper on both sides of the Atlantic was happy to serve as Muhammad bin Salman’s PR agency…. and there’s a reason they stopped. A real reason, that has nothing to do with Jamal Khashoggi.

We just don’t know what it is yet.

Kit Knightly is co-editor of OffGuardian. The Guardian banned him from commenting. Twice. He used to write for fun, but now he’s forced to out of a near-permanent sense of outrage.

October 19, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite | , , | Leave a comment

Israel’s Defiance of History, Morality and Law

By Jeremy Salt | Palestine Chronicle | October 19, 2018

No state established on land seized by force from the people living on that land can claim moral legitimacy and a ‘right’ to exist.

A purported ‘right’ to exist is not central to the existence of states anyway, let alone colonial settler states established amidst the wreckage of the genuine rights of another people.

States exist because they have strong armies because their enemies are too weak to destroy them, because they have good relations with near and far neighbors whose respect they have earned and because they have the consent of the people they govern.

They do not exist because of an imagined ‘right’ to exist. Were that to be the case, no state would ever have risen and then fallen in history. They would all still be here.

Israel understands this as well as anyone. It makes a lot of noise about its right to exist and its legitimacy but this is bluster. It knows why it exists and why it believes it will continue to exist. It has a strong military. It has nuclear weapons. It can destroy anyone who threatens to destroy it. These are the constituent elements of its existence, not morality and the ‘rights’ of which it endlessly talks.

‘Rise up and kill first” is not just the motto of Mossad but of the state. This is what it has done repeatedly ever since 1948. It has risen up and killed first, but with declining efficiency and herein lies the danger to its existence.

Its enemies are catching up. It has these enemies, not because of opposition to the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine. They certainly did oppose it but had this been followed with admissions of moral responsibility and legal liability, accompanied by material measures to make up for the damage done. Israel might have achieved a measure of consent within the Arab world.

It does have some but in a vacuous form. The treaty with Egypt has prevented war but the people of Egypt are as resolutely opposed to Israel as they were the day it was signed. This is not blind animosity but born of the fact that instead of working for a just peace, Israel has done its best to secure an unjust peace. It wants peace entirely on its own terms, which of course can never be achieved when two parties are in dispute if a serious peace really is the desired objective.

Israel’s bona fides are not genuine and never were. It has deceived not just its enemies but its partners. It has taken them for a ride. The Oslo ‘peace process’ was all process and no peace and was never designed, in the official Israeli mind, to lead to a genuine peace. It was aimed at achieving through an endlessly stretched-out ‘peace process’ what otherwise would have had to be achieved through war and it worked perfectly.

The trade-off for a genuine peace, East Jerusalem and the West Bank, are now densely settled. Facts always matter and nothing has mattered more to the Zionists from the beginning than creating facts on the ground that could not be removed because they were facts, irrespective of what the law said.

About a million settlers now live in East Jerusalem and the West Bank colonies. How can all these facts possibly be reversed, Netanyahu and his cohorts say with the palms of their hands extended helplessly as if they had nothing to do with this process and can’t do anything about it anyway.

Of course, they can be removed, as the French settlers in Algeria were in the 1960s, after 130 years of French occupation. Israel should have been made to remove its West Bank and East Jerusalem settlers long ago, apart from the fact that they never should have been there in the first place.

In any case, this should be regarded as Israel’s problem, instead of various governments accepting Israel’s justification of an illegal presence. One punishes the lawbreaker. One does not allow it to get away with the stolen goods.

The fact of settlement was intended to smother the question of illegality and in some minds, the American in particular, the strategy has succeeded. In the official US view the territories taken in 1967 are no longer occupied but ‘administered’ or ‘contested,’ enabling the next step, the shifting of the embassy to Jerusalem.

If Israel annexes all or most of the remainder of occupied Palestine the US will not oppose it and in time it will accept it, underlining the first point that the achievements of raw power, diplomatic, economic and military, are what is important to the Zionists and not the ephemera of legitimacy and the ‘right to exist.’ These phrases are fictions, distractions, the cover for a deeply immoral and deeply illegal process.

For Palestinians the state is illegitimate. There is absolutely no reason why they should think otherwise. There is no reason why they should have accepted a recommendation of the UN General Assembly in 1947 that was only passed because of threats by the US to vulnerable delegations.

There is no reason why they should accept their expulsion from their homeland, even if they have to deal somehow with the fact of Israel’s existence. No resolution gave Israel the right to take the land and drive out the people and no resolution could have given Israel such a right. Palestinian rights are inalienable.

The Palestinians have both law and morality on their side. Israel has neither. Even while claiming legitimacy and the ‘right to exist,’ it has never abided by the UN resolutions laid down as the conditions for its acceptance as a UN member.

But for the protective arm of the US, it may well have been suspended or expelled from the UN long ago. After all, what club accepts the membership of those who are warned time and again but still refuse to obey its rules?

States often violate international law. Israel is the only state in the world that lives in permanent, continuing violation of international law, not at one but many levels. This is not incidental or accidental but the necessary condition of its existence. To live within the law, to respect the law, would mean that Israel could not be what it wants to be and could not have what it wants to have.

To be what it wants to be, at least what every government has wanted it to be since 1948, Israel must live outside the law. The law is not relevant anyway. Israel sneers at the UN and has no respect for international law when it comes to Palestinian rights. It only respects its own laws, which of their nature are occupier’s laws and thus inconsistent with and indeed in violation of international law.

Israel’s strong right arm is all that really counts. ‘Friendships’ and pseudo-alliances, such as the ‘unbreakable bond’ with the US, are important but only for as long as they serve Israel’s interests. There is no sentiment here. Israel flattered Britain with fine phrases before jumping in the direction of the US when Britain had no more to give. For seven decades the US was the gift that kept giving but now that it is running out of steam as a global power, Israel has to hedge its bets, hence Netanyahu’s currying of favor with Vladimir Putin and the ramping up of its relations with China.

In the end, Israel’s ultimate defense is not questionable ‘friendships’ and ‘mutual interests’ that never last forever in the game of nations but its own strong right arm. So how strong is it?

Well, Israel has nuclear weapons and thus the ‘Samson option,’ the ability to pull down the roof on everyone’s head as well as its own. Whether, in the final resort, it will use these weapons is a question for the future but Israel’s possession of them has not deterred its enemies.

Rationally, perhaps it should have, but who is being rational here, a government and movements that resist occupation, as is their right in international law, or a government that continues an occupation, in defiance of law, morality and against the possibility of one day being able to call the people whose land it has taken and the states around its non-declared borders genuine ‘neighbors’? Against the possibility, it might be said, of one day really being able to call the Middle East home.

Whether or not the nuclear threat is a bluff, and given the extreme nature of Zionism, it probably is not, the resistance continues. With its nuclear weapons, yes, Israel has the capacity to destroy all life in the Middle East, but short of this, what about its conventional weaponry and military strength? Is this enough to hold its enemies at bay and beat them on every occasion?

The answer has to be probably not. In 1967 Israel caught Egypt and Syria napping. With their air forces destroyed on the ground, they were rendered almost helpless from the first day but it is most unlikely that there will be another 1967.

Since then Israel’s conventional military superiority has been slowly but perceptibly declining. In the size of the territory it has taken and the size of its population it lacks strategic depth. It must fight short wars. Thus, in 2006, after only a month of fighting Hizbullah, a guerrilla organization, not a regular army, it had to withdraw. The longer a war continues the less likely it is that it will be able to win it.

Its ‘victory’ in 1973 came about because Anwar Sadat stopped his army from fighting. In the first week of the war, the Israeli forces on the east bank of the Suez Canal were routed. Sadat never intended to defeat Israel because he knew the US would not allow it, so he declared an ‘operational pause’ after nine or ten days and handed Israel the opportunity to recover and cross the canal to the western side.

With Egypt sidelined militarily because of the 1979 ‘peace treaty’, Israel was free to go on the rampage elsewhere, mainly against Lebanon, a virtually defenseless target against the operations of a large army and air forces.

‘Incursions’ ending in thousands of civilian deaths led up to the invasion of 1982. What were the consequences? For Lebanon and the Palestinians, about 20,000 dead civilians, including the thousands killed in Sabra and Shatila. For Israel, yes, the defeat of the PLO was an achievement, but not much of one compared to the establishment of a far more dangerous enemy, Hizbullah.

By 2000 Hizbullah had driven Israel out of Lebanon and in 2006 it drove it back again. All Israel could do was use its air power to devastate cities, towns, and villages, but on the ground in the south, its highly rated Merkava tanks were destroyed and its troops outfought by Hizbullah’s part-time soldiers. This was a humiliating outcome for an army touted as one of the best in the world. Borrowing from Hizbullah, the Israeli military then increased the intake of ideologically committed recruits into the ranks of its officers, many of them from West Bank settler colonies.

Since then Israel has been itching to have another go at Hizbullah but this time the deterrence factor is working against it. It knows Hizbullah has built up an armory of missiles that can cause devastation across occupied Palestine. It knows its anti-missile defenses will not be able to stop many of them. In the meantime, while weighing up its chances and while preparing the blows that it says will destroy Lebanon as well as Hizbullah, it has a softer target to pick on, Gaza.

There, its onslaughts over the years, vicious in the extreme, brutal and inhumane, have killed many thousands of Palestinians. Hundreds of Palestinians, mostly very young, have been shot dead by snipers along the Gaza fence just in the past few months, without the Palestinian will to resist being destroyed.

The Israelis are now fighting balloons carrying fire into the occupied land, while Palestinians continue to strike at settlers occupying their land on the West Bank, despite the terrible consequences to themselves and their families.

Through all of this, Israel’s actions and reactions are becoming more hysterical, exposing psychological fragility and nervousness within the shell of outward confidence. It cannot shut down Palestinian resistance, its intimidation of Iran and Hizbullah has not worked and in the US there is a growing awareness that Israel is a violent racist state that does not merit by any means the large-scale support the US has always given it.

It is fighting back with all the weapons at its disposal, including hasbara, the attempt to criminalize the BDS movement and attacks on individual academics but the tide is running against it.

States need flexibility but Israel has none. Its power is brittle and like the oak against the willow, when the storm comes it is more likely to fall. After more than seven decades, it has no friends and allies in the Middle East worthy of the name. It uses Arab governments up just as they use it up but the Arab people are just as strongly opposed to this western colonial-settler implant in their midst as they always were. To repeat, this is not because they can’t adjust but because Israel can’t. In terms of being accepted by the Arab masses, it has not moved an inch forward.

History worked once for Israel but it is not working for it now. The wheel is turning against it. All it has on its side is armed might. By no means is this to be underrated but time does not stand still and neither do enemies convinced they have a just cause standing against a state that within itself knows it does not have a just cause.

Israel is always preparing for the next war but against a real enemy, not just defenseless civilians reduced to fighting back with fire balloons, it is going to take casualties unprecedented in its history next time around.

This is the very least that is going to happen, and all because of the determination to create a Jewish state on territory populated by people who are not Jewish. In the arrogant, twisted mindset of Netanyahu, Naftali Bennet, Ayelet Shaked, Avigdor Lieberman and the racist rabbis and settlers urging them on, it is the ideology that matters and not the peace and security of the Jewish people living in Palestine. Legitimacy is not the point. The point of the sword is the point and just as Israel has lived by it, so must it live with the possibility that one day it will die by it.

– Jeremy Salt taught at the University of Melbourne, at Bosporus University in Istanbul and Bilkent University in Ankara for many years, specializing in the modern history of the Middle East. Among his recent publications is his 2008 book, The Unmaking of the Middle East. A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands (University of California Press).

October 19, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 3 Comments

Christopher Bollyn: Tricked Into War

Ed Mays October 11, 2018

Investigative journalist and best selling author Chris Bollyn makes the case for why he believes the Israeli Zionist government was behind the 9/11 attack in order to trick the US into carrying out it’s agenda in the Middle East.

Recorded 9/22/18 Pirate TV is a 58 minute weekly TV show that provides the book talk and lecture content for Free Speech TV.

Pirate TV challenges the Media Blockade, bringing you independent voices, information and programming unavailable on the Corporate Sponsor-Ship. These posts are for YouTube and are usually longer than the broadcast versions.

You will notice that I don’t monetize my videos. I’m irritated by constant interruptions as I’m sure are you. If you would like to pitch in to support this work, consider a donation:…

October 19, 2018 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular, Video, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 5 Comments

Amid Mainstream Hysteria, Twitter Troll Trove Shows Little Evidence of Meddling

By Kit Klarenberg | Sputnik | October 19, 2018

On October 17, Twitter released an archive of over ten million tweets posted by 3,841 accounts affiliated with the Internet Research Agency, the Russian ‘troll farm’ that has been relentlessly accused by Western journalists and politicians of waging an ‘influence campaign’ during the 2016 US Presidential election in support of Donald Trump.

In an official statement accompanying the data dump, the social media giant said it was disclosing the “full, comprehensive archive” of tweets and media “connected with previously disclosed, potentially state-backed operations” on its platform.

Prior releases provoked much comment and analysis, but also controversy — several accounts widely described as ‘bots’ turned out to be real people, their baffled and scandalized owners taking to the airwaves to make their authenticity, and the authenticity of their opinions, clear. This time, Twitter has “high confidence” the named accounts are bots or ‘trolls’ — fake personas concocted and managed by real people.

An example of some of the media shared by an alleged Russian troll account

Whether Twitter’s certainty is apt this time round remains yet unclear, given several accounts provided published little in the way of political content, instead favoring comedic memes, tweets about preparing for a night out on the town, or screenshots of their favorite US sitcoms, such as Friends. Quite what impact such activities could’ve had — or could’ve been intended to have — on the US political process is unclear, but perhaps further analysis will unfurl a hidden agenda.

Who’s Influencing Who?

Moreover, if the accounts were involved in an attempt to influence US politics, their tweets are somewhat baffling — the vast bulk posted by the offending accounts were in Russian, and as less than a million US citizens speak the language, it’s fair to say no Americans were influenced by these activities, and indeed that wasn’t the intention of the tweeters in question.

This leaves open the question of what the posters were trying to achieve — although on the basis of the tweets Sputnik has seen so far, it may well have simply been a cynical attempt to drive traffic to certain websites, in order to reap advertising revenue.

The Atlantic Council’s Analysis of Troll Tweet Language © Atlantic Council 2018

There is much elsewhere to support the notion these accounts’ activities amounted to opportunistic ‘clickbait’ efforts — their tweeting seemingly spiked during and after major events, with trending hashtags bookending often unrelated posts, or politically charged messages accompanied by a shortened link to a third-party website. By piggybacking off anti-Islam or Euroskeptic hashtags, account owners presumably sought to drive traffic elsewhere.

An example of some of the media shared by an alleged Russian troll account

Irreducible Complacency

This lack of apparent overriding objective is palpably divorced from initial claims of a concerted effort to achieve specific results — such as the election of Donald Trump — but the mainstream media seemingly remains undeterred, as the flurry of alarmist articles that have circulated in the wake of the data dump surely attests. Look past the headlines, however, and accompanying articles are scant on information and discussion, leaving readers in search of said proof wanting. For this glaring deficit, major news outlets can perhaps be forgiven — the data amounts to several hundred gigabytes, and it will surely take a vast army of journalists considerable time to wade through and analyze the full cache.

Nonetheless, the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Lab was given a headstart, with Twitter providing the organization’s data scientists an advance look at the trove “in an effort to promote shared understanding of the vulnerabilities exploited by various types on online influence operations, as well as social media’s role in democracy”.

Many articles cite the Council’s analysis, authored by Ben Nimmo, in justification of their paranoid headlines — but while the Lab’s superficial updated conclusion is that troll accounts were intended to divide online communities and exploit polarization and division in society proper, a review of the organization’s detective work suggests journalists haven’t taken the time to actually read that article either. After all, the piece concludes the “troll operations do not appear to have had significant influence on public debate”, “there is no evidence to suggest they triggered large-scale changes in political behavior”, and the accounts’ activities “had little to no discernible impact on the target populations’ political behavior”.

Nimmo concludes the article by despairing of the difficulty of identifying future foreign influence operations, given trolls “use exactly the techniques which drive genuine online activism and engagement”, making it “much harder to separate them out from genuine users”. Nonetheless, Twitter avowedly remains committed to “proactively combat[ing] nefarious attempts to undermine” its integrity, and neutralizing such efforts as “quickly and robustly as technically possible”.

Given Nimmo himself concedes the activities of alleged troll accounts had “little or no impact” whatsoever, with their ‘operations’ “washed away in the firehose of Twitter”, it’s highly questionable if it’s worth undertaking any effort at all.

Despite the paltry yield of information so far, Sputnik journalists will continue analyzing the released data, and report in weeks to come on their findings — if indeed findings are actually forthcoming.

October 19, 2018 Posted by | Russophobia | , , | 3 Comments

Twitter Data Release Aimed to Discredit Trump Ahead of Midterms – Commentator

Sputnik – October 19, 2018

Twitter has shared an archive of material that could be linked to alleged information campaigns by Russia and Iran. This comes after Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testified before Congress about foreign interference in US elections. Sputnik has discussed the issue with UK-based political commentator and activist Alan Bailey.

Sputnik: What’s your take on the timing of Twitter’s release of data dating back years? Why now?

Alan Bailey: This is all related to the upcoming US mid-term elections, and further back to the campaign to discredit current US President Trump. There has been a long-running process of undermining Trump’s validity by blaming his victory on external actors. Mainly Russia. According to the US authorities, social media was the main weapon of choice in swinging the public opinion towards Trump and we are now seeing a process of neutering social media so that any dissenting voices outside the mainstream will struggle to be heard.

In its blog post Twitter mentioned some 3,800 accounts it says were affiliated with Russia and some 770 accounts associated with Iran, so over 4,500 accounts overall. How big of a role could these 4,500 accounts have played in the so-called disinformation campaign?

The thing to remember about Twitter is that the vast majority of people only see posts from members they subscribe to. In other words, anyone reading these posts has subscribed to these members’ posts or to someone re-tweeting the posts. It’s not TV. You don’t sit there and watch anything Twitter broadcasts. If the tweets from these members had any effect, then it was because those reading them had sympathy with the content of the tweets anyway.Sputnik: The company also revealed that these accounts have sent over 10 million tweets over the years. Meanwhile, according to Google, some 500 million tweets are sent on Twitter every day. Again, how big of a role could this have played in shaping public opinion?

Alan Bailey:  Same as above really. If people were influenced by these tweets, then it is because the mainstream media is not supplying the quality of info they require and this is being fulfilled by the “Russian tweets.” What on earth is wrong with reading a Russian point of view on social media? Nothing. It’s up to the Mainstream to disprove the content and at this, they fail regularly.

Sputnik: In your view, how much of a role do Twitter’s and Facebook’s identification policies play when it comes to setting up new accounts with these networks?

Alan Bailey:  Twitter made it official policy that impersonation of another person is a violation of their terms of use and can delete an account upon finding out that this has occurred. Yet many parody accounts exist, mocking celebrities and the like. So this policy, in particular, has been leveraged as a means of deleting accounts producing content that is not in line with US policy and/or representing movements seen in a bad light by the US authorities.

Sputnik: What measures should Twitter take to improve its performance as a safe and unbiased platform, in your opinion?

Alan Bailey:  Twitter needs to resist outside pressure to censor its content. Beyond ensuring that only people of a certain age are allowed to sign up for the network, it’s my view that everything else should be open and uncensored. It’s very easy to block or mute a user who is annoying to a user.

October 19, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , | 2 Comments

CNN: “Twitter has suspended accounts” that “appear” to smear Khashoggi

By Catte | OffGuardian | October 19, 2018

Further indication of the alleged murder of Khashoggi being a narrative issued from high levels in the power structure is rolling out all the time. But this is a significant little pointer:

The Khashoggi murder narrative, true or false, is being protected and promoted aggressively by the mainstream media. I don’t think this is simply because the press are mad about the attack on “one of their own” or because the scandal is just too big to ignore. In fact I think these frequently-repeated claims are based on a fundamental and dangerous misapprehension about the relationship between the media and its masters and how narratives are currently produced.

Whatever happens with the Khashoggi story we need to keep talking about these misapprehensions because they fatally undermine people’s ability to grasp the reality of our current situation. I guess I’ll be returning to it in the future.

In the meantime, I note several articles in alt media outlets that ought to know better – all discussing what the murder of Khashoggi might mean for this or that foreign policy question, or this or that aspect of the western narrative. None, or shamefully few of them, pointing out that we have as yet seen no evidence the murder has actually happened.

This erosion of our requirement for verification is appalling. I don’t care what beneficial long term interests may be served by climbing on this bandwagon and screaming for vengeance on the Saudis, if we agree to live in a world where allegation becomes evidence simply by repetition, we are allowing the propagandists an easy victory.

Catte Co-founding editor at OffGuardian. Writer. Occasional polemicist. Lives in UK. Email at

October 19, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

Leaked Google Secret Memo Admits Abandonment of Free Speech for ‘Safety And Civility’

Russia Insider | October 18, 2018

Despite leaked video footage showing top executives declaring their intention to ensure that the rise of Trump and the populist movement is just a “blip” in history, Google has repeatedly denied that the political bias of its employees filter into its products.

But the 85-page briefing, titled “The Good Censor,” admits that Google and other tech platforms now “control the majority of online conversations” and have undertaken a “shift towards censorship” in response to unwelcome political events around the world.

<figcaption>Talk about Russian, er, Jewish, meddling in our 'democracy' ... Sergey Brin, Billionaire founder of Google</figcaption>

Talk about Russian, er, Jewish, meddling in our ‘democracy’ … Sergey Brin, Billionaire founder of Google

Examples cited in the document include the 2016 election and the rise of Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) in Germany.

Responding to the leak, an official Google source said the document should be considered internal research, and not an official company position.

The briefing labels the ideal of unfettered free speech on the internet a “utopian narrative” that has been “undermined” by recent global events as well as “bad behavior” on the part of users. It can be read in full below.

It acknowledges that major tech platforms, including Google, Facebook and Twitter initially promised free speech to consumers. “This free speech ideal was instilled in the DNA of the Silicon Valley startups that now control the majority of our online conversations,” says the document.

The briefing argues that Google, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are caught between two incompatible positions, the “unmediated marketplace of ideas” vs. “well-ordered spaces for safety and civility.”

The first approach is described as a product of the “American tradition” which “prioritizes free speech for democracy, not civility.” The second is described as a product of the “European tradition,” which “favors dignity over liberty and civility over freedom.” The briefing claims that all tech platforms are now moving toward the European tradition.

The briefing associates Google’s new role as the guarantor of “civility” with the categories of “editor” and “publisher.” This is significant, given that Google, YouTube, and other tech giants publicly claim they are not publishers but rather neutral platforms — a categorization that grants them special legal immunities under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Elsewhere in the document, Google admits that Section 230 was designed to ensure they can remain neutral platforms for free expression.

Trump, Conspiracy Theorist

One of the reasons Google identifies for allegedly widespread public disillusionment with internet free speech is that it “breeds conspiracy theories.” The example Google uses? A 2016 tweet from then-candidate Donald Trump, alleging that Google search suppressed negative results about Hillary Clinton.

At the time, Google said that it suppressed negative autocomplete suggestions about everybody, not just Clinton. But it was comparatively easy to find such autocomplete results when searching for Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump. Independent research from psychologist Dr. Robert Epstein also shows that Google search results (if not autocomplete results) did indeed favor Clinton in 2016.

Twice in the document, Google juxtaposes a factoid about “Russian interference” in American elections with pictures of Donald Trump. At one point, the document admits that tech platforms are changing their policies to pre-empt congressional action on foreign interference.

The document did not address the fact that, according to leading psychologists, the impact of foreign “bots” and propaganda on social media has a negligible impact on voters.

From Suggestions to Company Policy

It is unclear for whom the “Good Censor” was intended. What is clear, however, is that Google spent (or paid someone to spend) significant time and effort to produce it.

According to the briefing itself, it was the product of an extensive process involving “several layers of research,” including expert interviews with MIT Tech Review editor-in-chief Jason Pontin, Atlantic staff writer Franklin Foer, and academic Kalev Leetaru. 35 cultural observers and 7 cultural leaders from seven countries on five continents were also consulted to produce it.

What is also clear is that many of the briefing’s recommendations are now reflected in the policy of Google and its sibling companies.

For example, the briefing argues that tech companies will have to censor their platforms if they want to “expand globally.” Google is now constructing a censored search engine to gain access to the Chinese market.

The document also bemoans that the internet allows “have a go commenters” (in other words, ordinary people) to compete on a level playing field with “authoritative sources” like the New York Times. Google-owned YouTube now promotes so-called “authoritative sources” in its algorithm. The company did not specifically name which sources it would promote.

Key points in the briefing can be found at the following page numbers:

  • P2 – The briefing states that “users are asking if the openness of the internet should be celebrated after all” and that “free speech has become a social, economic, and political weapon.”
  • P11 – The briefing identifies Breitbart News as the media publication most interested in the topic of free speech.
  • P12 – The briefing says the early free-speech ideals of the internet were “utopian.”
  • P14 – The briefing admits that Google, along with Twitter and Facebook, now “control the majority of online conversations.”
  • P15 – Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is linked to Google’s position as a platform for free expression. Elsewhere in the document (p68), Google and other platforms’ move towards moderation and censorship is associated with the role of “publisher” – which would not be subject to Section 230’s legal protections.
  • PP19-21 – The briefing identifies several factors that allegedly eroded faith in free speech. The election of Donald Trump and alleged Russian involvement is identified as one such factor. The rise of the populist Alternative fur Deutschland (Alternative for Germany) party in Germany – which the briefing falsely smears as “alt-right” – is another.
  • PP26-34 – The briefing explains how “users behaving badly” undermines free speech on the internet and allows “crummy politicians to expand their influence.” The briefing bemoans that “racists, misogynists, and oppressors” are allowed a voice alongside “revolutionaries, whistleblowers, and campaigners.” It warns that users are “keener to transgress moral norms” behind the protection of anonymity.
  • P37 – The briefing acknowledges that China – for which Google has developed a censored search engine – has the worst track record on internet freedom.
  • P45 – After warning about the rise of online hate speech, the briefing approvingly cites Sarah Jeong, infamous for her hate speech against white males (Google is currently facing a lawsuit alleging it discriminates against white males, among other categories).
  • P45 – The briefing bemoans the fact that the internet has until recently been a level playing field, warning that “rational debate is damaged when authoritative voices and ‘have a go’ commentators receive equal weighting.”
  • P49 – The document accuses President Trump of spreading the “conspiracy theory” that Google autocomplete suggestions unfairly favored Hillary Clinton in 2016. (Trump’s suspicions were actually correct – independent research has shown that Google did favor Clinton in 2016).
  • P53 – Free speech platform Gab is identified as a major destination for users who are dissatisfied with censorship on other platforms.
  • P54 – After warning about “harassment” earlier in the document, the briefing approvingly describes a 27,000-strong left-wing social media campaign as a “digital flash mob” engaged in “friendly counter-commenting.”
  • P57 – The document juxtaposes a factoid about Russian election interference with a picture of Donald Trump.
  • P63 – The briefing admits that when Google, GoDaddy and CloudFlare simultaneously withdrew service from website The Daily Stormer, they were “effectively booting it off the internet,” a point also made by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the FCC in their subsequent warnings about online censorship.
  • P66-68 – The briefing argues that Google, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are caught between two incompatible positions, the “unmediated marketplace of ideas” vs. “well-ordered spaces for safety and civility.” The first is described as a product of the “American tradition” which “prioritizes free speech for democracy, not civility.” The second is described as a product of the “European tradition,” which “favors dignity over liberty and civility over freedom.” The briefing claims that all tech platforms are now moving toward the European tradition.
  • P70 – The briefing sums up the reasons for big tech’s “shift towards censorship,” including the need to respond to regulatory demands and “expand globally,” to “monetize content through its organization,” and to “protect advertisers from controversial content, [and] increase revenues.”
  • P74-76 – The briefing warns that concerns about censorship from major tech platforms have spread beyond the right-wing media into the mainstream.

Read The Good Censor in full below. Alternative download option available here.

The Good Censor – GOOGLE LEAK by on Scribd.

October 19, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Russian S-300s Supplied to Syria Were ‘Modernized’ – Reports

Sputnik – 19.10.2018

Moscow has delivered advanced S-300 air defense missiles to Syria to protect the country’s troops deployed in the war-torn Arab country in the wake of last month’s downing of a Russian reconnaissance plane during an Israeli airstrike in Latakia.

The three battalion sets of S-300PM-2 air defense missile handed over to Syria by Russia are more advanced compared to their conventional counterparts, the newspaper Izvestiya wrote, citing Defense Ministry sources in Moscow.

The S-300PM-2 system is equipped with a more advanced radar station, an improved target illumination and guidance station (firing radar) and a mobile command post.

Launchers have also been upgraded enabling the use of more advanced, powerful and long-range missiles, compared to the “classic” S-300.

Unlike conventional S-300s, the modernized air defense system can fire medium-range tactical ballistic missiles, while retaining its ability to destroy aerial targets up to 250 kilometers (155 miles) away.

The S-300PM-2 also boasts improved anti-jamming capability allowing it to operate in conditions of electronic warfare.

Contrary to media reports, the S-300PM-2 currently deployed in Syria will not be operated by Iranians because the only specialists who can operate this system are in Russia, the source told the newspaper.

Iranians have never operated such systems because the S-300PMU-2 supplied to Iran is an export version with a simplified circuit and control modes compared to the S-300PM-2.

The source noted that the automatic control system on the export PMU-2 version does not allow it to interact with Russian air defense systems that have been transferred to the Syrian armed forces.

Earlier this month, cited US and Israeli intelligence sources as claiming that the S-300PM-2 batteries deployed in Syria would be operated by Iranian teams. They also insisted that Russia had originally planned to entrust the system’s operation to Iranians, that’s why it had allegedly given the Syrians a version of the S-300PMU-2 it had supplied to Iran in 2016.

In early October, Russia donated to Syria three battalion sets of S-300 missile systems of eight launchers each of which had been repaired in Russia where they had been used before being replaced by the more advanced S-400 system.

The Russian Defense Ministry then said that it would take three months to train Syrian specialists to operate the missile system.

Russia announced the supply of S-300 air defense missiles to Syria after a Russian Il-20 reconnaissance plane was mistakenly shot down by Syrian air defenses during an Israeli air raid on September 17.

The S-300PM-2 system entered service with the Russian army in the 2010s.

In December 2015, the first regiment S-300PM-2 took over combat duty to protect the airspace of the country’s central industrial region.

The regiment was later re-equipped with the most modern domestic anti-aircraft system, the S-400 Triumph, and, according to the source, some of the S-300PM-2s were sent to Syria.

October 19, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

Where’s Sergei?

By Rob Slane | The Blog Mire | October 18, 2018

According to an article in The Mail, the mother of Sergei Skripal, Yelena, has not heard from her son since the incident on 4th March, and the last time she heard from her granddaughter, Yulia, was on 24th July:

“Recalling her phone conversation with Yulia, Yelena told the Daily Mirror : ‘The last time I ­actually spoke to Yulia was on the 24th of July on my 90th birthday. She rang – it was unexpected but it was so lovely to hear from her. She called and was actually with Sergei. She told me: “I’m with daddy he is beside me but he can’t speak as he has a pain in his throat”. She said he had been in some pain.’”

This is interesting for a number of reasons.

Firstly, we know that during the conversation on 24th July, according to a number of reports (for example here), Yulia told her grandmother that the reason Sergei was unable to speak was because his voice was still weak due to a tracheostomy:

“Babushka, happy birthday, everything is fine, everything is perfect. I am in London with papa. He can’t speak because he’s got a tracheostomy, that pipe, which will be taken off in three days. Now when he speaks with that pipe, his voice is first of all very weak and secondly, he makes quite a lot of wheeze. So babushka with your poor hearing you would really struggle to understand him. He’ll call after the tracheostomy is off.”

This was almost 3 months ago. So the tracheostomy was preventing Sergei from speaking; but it was coming off in three days; yet nearly 3 months later and still no call from Sergei? Is that not very odd? Indeed, especially given that Yelena states in the interview that she and Sergei used to speak every week.

Secondly, the call on 24th July is itself very odd. Notice that Yulia uses the phrases “everything is fine, everything is perfect.” These are basically the same sorts of phrases that she repeated over and over in her call with her cousin Viktoria on 5th April:

“Everything is ok, everything is fine.”

“Everything is fine, but we’ll see how it goes, we’ll decide later. You know what the situation is here. Everything is fine, everything is solvable, everyone is recovering and is alive.”

“Everything is ok. He is resting now, having a nap. Everyone’s health is fine, there are no irreparable things. I will be discharged soon. Everything is ok.”

She seems very keen – some would say overly keen – to emphasise that everything is fine and okay and perfect etc. To me it sounds unnatural and forced. What do you think?

But more than this, imagine yourself in the same situation. Your father is next to you. He can speak, but not very well, and so can’t communicate through the phone to his mother. What would you do? Well, I know what I would do. I would relay speech from the one to the other. “He says he’s getting better and misses you very much grandma.” “She says she loves you, dad.” Isn’t that what normal people would do in such circumstances?

But instead, Yulia speaks in a way that doesn’t fill me with too much certainty that he was actually in the room with her. It’s all very medical and somewhat officious. And even if his voice was a bit wheezy and hard to understand, his ears were okay, weren’t they? Couldn’t Yulia have held the phone to her dad’s ear so he could hear his mother speak to him? Again, that would be what a normal person would do in such circumstances, wouldn’t it? But of course they don’t do normal in SkripalWorld.

Thirdly, we have to reckon with the fact that since that call, in which Yulia indicated that Sergei would call in as little as three days, there has been no communication at all. Not with grandma. Not with Viktoria. Not with anyone (apparently even Mark Urban got the cold shoulder).

Actually, that’s not quite the case. We don’t really have to reckon with this because the heroic journalism of The Mail gives us the answer. In the same piece that it mentioned a call between Yulia and her grandma, in which Sergei was apparently sat right next to Yulia, we get this:

“Since that solitary phone conversation, she [Yelena] has not heard from her the two targeted relatives as any contact could lead Russian forces to the pair.”

Remarkable, isn’t it? So according to The Mail, the reason that Sergei Skripal cannot call his mother, is because Russian forces might be able to trace his whereabouts and order a hit on him. Another one, apparently. And yet in the very same piece they report on Yulia Skripal calling her grandmother on 24th July, with Sergei Skripal at her side. See? It’s obvious, isn’t it?

Not for the first time in this case, I’m left scratching my head and wondering whether the journalists who write this sort of thing believe their readers to be so dim that they won’t notice statements in the same article that utterly refute one another, or whether the journalists themselves are so witless that they simply don’t realise that they are contradicting themselves in the space of a few sentences. Any thoughts?

The fact is that Yulia has phoned her cousin Viktoria a number of times since the beginning of April, and in most, if not all of those calls, her father was said to be close by. She even did a little film for Reuters in May, with her father apparently in the same compound. Why were these allowed, since according to The Mail, it could have led Russian forces to the pair? Or are we to believe that Russian forces have only just developed the capability to trace phone calls since 24th July? Worse still, have British Security Services forgotten how to prevent phone calls being traced by other intelligence agencies since 24th July, not to mention also losing the ability to stop Russian forces from coming and getting them?

Or is it more likely that The Mail cannot be bothered to ask the obvious questions that stem from their own report. Such as:

1. Why is the apparent victim in this case, Sergei Skripal, who is under the protection of British (and possibly US) intelligence services, unable to phone his mother, whom he used to speak to on a weekly basis?

2. Does this constitute a violation of his human rights?

3. Given that he has had no contact with his mother since 4th March, how can we be sure that he is alive, and if he is, whether he is not being held against his will?

October 19, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | | Leave a comment