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Facebook to give French courts data on hate speech suspects, says minister

RT | June 25, 2019

Facebook has agreed to give French courts the identification data of users suspected of spreading hate speech on the platform, according to a French minister, in what is being described as a world first.

France’s minister for digital affairs and former top advisor to President Emmanuel Macron, Cedric O, confirmed the agreement on Tuesday, but suggested the courtesy would not be extended to other nations.

“This is huge news, it means that the judicial process will be able to run normally,” O told Reuters. “It’s really very important, they’re only doing it for France.”

The deal between the world’s largest social media network and France came after a series of meetings between Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Macron.

The social network had already been giving French authorities IP addresses and identifying data of suspected terrorists after judges demanded their cooperation, but this is the first time the agreement has extended to hate speech.

Macron has made no secret of his interest in regulating online hate speech and fake news. Recently, parliament has been considering implementing a fine of 4 percent of a tech company’s global revenue if they are found to not have done enough to remove certain content from their network.

June 25, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment

Only 19% of Americans want military strike on Iran

RT | June 25, 2019

Less than one quarter of Americans want the US to take military action against Iran, a new poll has found, amid rising tensions between Tehran and Washington.

The Hill-HarrisX survey revealed that 19 percent of voters want the US to launch a “limited military strike” on Iran — an action which the Trump administration said it considered but ultimately backed away from last week.

A more hawkish five percent of voters said they wanted the US to outright declare war on Iran, while another 19 percent of voters said they were unsure about what the US should do next.

The majority of respondents (58 percent), however, said they would prefer a non-military response to Iran’s shooting down of an American drone last week, which Tehran said had entered its airspace.

Forty-nine percent said they would like the US to “seek a negotiated solution” to the recent hostilities, while nine percent were less enthusiastic about engagement and feel the US should “do nothing.”

Broken down by party, only 16 percent of Democrats favored a military response, with 67 percent saying they wanted peaceful negotiations.

Republicans were more hawkish in their views, but only marginally. Thirty-one percent of GOP voters said they would like to see a limited military strike or declaration of war. Fifty percent said they would prefer a peaceful resolution.

Voters over the age of 65 were most reluctant to see the US go to war, with 60 percent against it. Some age groups were more open to a military response, but a majority in all age groups wanted to avoid conflict.

The poll results strengthen arguments made by some Trump supporters and sympathizers that launching military action against Iran would be unpopular with his base and could cost him during the 2020 election.

Trump campaigned heavily on the promise that he would end US regime change wars and conduct US foreign policy on an “America first” basis — a promise which many would view as broken if he entangled the US in a new military conflict in the Middle East.

Some of Trump’s top advisers, including National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have long-advocated for military engagement against Iran.

Trump has so far opted for non-military response to Iran, hitting Tehran with cyber attacks, fresh sanctions and employing a policy of “maximum pressure” designed to force Iran to submit to US demands.

June 25, 2019 Posted by | Militarism, Wars for Israel | , | 3 Comments

Decolonise Palestine to achieve liberation

MEMO | June 25, 2019

Palestinians have rejected the Manama summit taking place today for several legitimate reasons – all pointing to how the US prelude to the so-called “deal of the century” normalises Israel at an unprecedented level. This normalisation will drastically reduce Palestinian prospects for liberation, which are already precariously low, given the focus on diplomacy which marginalised the role that Palestinian resistance movements could have played in the process.

For its own reasons, notably the issue of prolonging its survival, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has also denounced the summit. Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, has taken issue with the PA stance, penning an op-ed in the New York Times in which he discusses the purported benefits of political surrender.

Danon asks: “What’s wrong with Palestinian surrender?”

Palestinian surrender is non-existent, as it should be. Typical of sweeping statements in which Israeli officials eliminate the distinction between the Palestinian leadership and the Palestinian people, Danon deems the conflation necessary in order to support his preposterous argument that “a national suicide of the Palestinians’ current political and cultural ethos is precisely what is needed for peace.”

Pointing fingers at the PA and Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Secretary General Saeb Erekat to make his argument, Danon seeks to pressure the PA into accepting the new framework, detrimental to Palestinians as it is, in order to validate his hypothesis that surrender equals liberation of the Palestinian people. Yet the very mention of liberation by an Israeli official makes clear the existence of a colonial project that has incarcerated Palestinians since before the Nakba of 1948.

Currently the PA has no other option but to speak out against US President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century” and related initiatives. Its authority is eroding, mirroring the divide between the PA hierarchy and the people. The current decision to align itself with the Palestinian people’s demands is a step taken out of necessity – there are no principles involved on behalf of the PA and Danon knows this all too well.

The PA has traded Palestine for symbolic concessions and contributed to making Israel stronger by compromising on the Palestinians’ right to land and return. Unless the current stance is backed up by a radical change within the PA, it will bolster Danon’s surrender requirements at a diplomatic level.

Far from leading to “peace”, which has also been bludgeoned in line with Israeli demands, Palestinian surrender will eliminate both the struggle and the people. Liberation is not tied to economic prosperity – it is a requirement that comes with the decolonisation of historic Palestine. Unless that demand is heeded, all suggestions and plans for negotiations should be rejected. That includes an outright rejection of the two-state compromise, which has proved to be a dangerous scheme and very much in line with what the US hopes to accelerate through its plan.

Is Danon predicting an eventual PA surrender? That hypothesis is much more likely than a Palestinian surrender of their rights to their land. As a coloniser, Danon has no right to dictate what trajectory Palestinians decide upon, much less insist upon a “national suicide” to conceal the fact that Israel – the colonial enterprise he forms part of – perpetuated the ongoing massacre against the Palestinian people.

June 25, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 3 Comments

British Society for Middle Eastern Studies endorses boycott of Israeli universities

MEMO | June 25, 2019

The British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES) has endorsed the Palestinian call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions, in a vote taken at its AGM in Leeds on Monday.

According to reports on social media, the resolution supporting the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign was easily passed, with almost 80 percent support (final numbers to be confirmed).

The resolution highlights Israel’s obstruction of “Palestinians’ right to education by destroying Palestinian universities and schools, arresting students, raiding and forcing Palestinian universities to close, and restricting Palestinians’ movement”.

The text goes on to describe the “key role” played by Israeli universities “in planning, implementing and justifying Israel’s illegal military occupation”, and claims such institutions “are maintaining a close and supportive relationship with the Israeli military”.

Examples of this relationship include “involvement in developing weapons systems, providing justification for military actions and extra-judicial killings, rewarding students serving in the occupation forces, designing and delivering special programmes for soldiers and officers, building on occupied land, and systematically discriminating against non-Jewish students”.

Proposed by Professor John Chalcraft (LSE) and seconded by Dr Rafeef Ziadah (SOAS), the resolution commits BRISMES to “endorsing the call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions until these institutions publicly end their support and complicity in violating Palestinian rights as stipulated in international law”.

After the resolution passed, Dr Ziadah tweeted: “members of #BRISMES2019 passed a #BDS resolution @ annual general meeting earlier today. This was a real grassroots campaign, long time in the making. Congratulations to every single person who worked tirelessly to make this happen!”

Palestinian boycott campaigners welcomed the move, and urged other international academic societies to take “similar measures against racism and oppression”.

BRISMES was established in 1973 “to encourage and promote the study of the Middle East in the United Kingdom”, and brings together “teachers, researchers, students, diplomats, journalists and others who deal professionally with the Middle East”.

 

June 25, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Egypt’s NileSat halts broadcast of Press TV, other Iranian channels: Saudi media

Press TV – June 25, 2019

Saudi media say Egyptian-owned satellite firm NileSat has halted the broadcast of three Iranian TV channels, including English-language Press TV news network, in yet another attack on media freedom.

The Arabic-language Saudi daily newspaper Okaz, citing an informed source, said Sunday that the regional satellite provider halted the broadcast of Press TV as well as entertainment and movie channels of iFilm in English and Arabic languages.

Earlier, some informed sources had reported that Arab satellite companies had agreed to cancel their contracts with Iranian media outlets in the region.

The move by the Arab alliance was claimed to be a response to the networks’ “spread of rumors and creation of division.”

It is not the first time that Iranian television channels come under attacks by Arab and European satellite firms.

Egypt — a close Saudi ally — is party to a Riyadh-led coalition waging a bloody military campaign against Yemen. The Saudi regime and its allies are especially outraged by Iranian media’s wide coverage of the crimes being committed against Yemeni people, among other issues.

Since its launch in 2007, Press TV has been using a wide range of platforms, from TV broadcast and website to social media, to offer its audience a fresh view of world news, with a focus on developments in the Middle East’s conflict zones.

In April, Press TV’s verified YouTube account — along with the page of Iran’s Spanish-language Hispan TV — was blocked with no prior notice by tech giant Google.

The move came as the US stepped up its pressure campaign against Iran with the backing of Saudi Arabia and other repressive Persian Gulf Arab regimes. Washington is the main sponsor of the Saudi-led war on Yemen.

June 25, 2019 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Economic Entrails at the Heart of the ‘Deal of the Century’

By Alastair Crooke | Strategic Culture Foundation | June 25, 2019

It is nothing new to say that the ‘Deal of the Century’ is – and always was – in essence an economic project. Indeed, it seems that its political ramifications are viewed by the White House as little more than the ineluctable consequences to an a priori economic architecture, already in the process of being unfolded.

In other words, it is the economic facts on the ground that are intended shape the political outcome — an attenuated political landscape that anyway has been minimised by Trump’s pre-emptive removal of key pieces of any Palestinian negotiating leverage.

The financial squeeze on the Palestinians is well attested. On the one hand, the Palestinian Authority (historically dependent on Saudi subvention) is gently slipping into bankruptcy; whilst Gaza is held in virtual abject dependency through the drip-feed of subventions channelled into Gaza by Qatar, with Israeli permission — the size of this latter monthly ‘lifeline’ subvention being carefully adjusted by Israel according to what it judges to be the norms of (generally Hamas) ‘good conduct’.

So, on the one hand there is the financial siege that is intended to make the Palestinians pliant to the ‘quality of life package’ which the ‘deal’ is supposed to bring — the Bahrain summit later this month being its shopfront. But there is another less well recognised side to the Deal which is summarised in the title to a McClatchy article entitled, White House sees Egyptian energy forum as a ‘roadmap to Middle East peace’.

In a later piece, McClatchy publishes the newly declassified map of the US East Mediterranean energy ‘roadmap’. And here the fuller picture becomes clear: the US sponsored ‘gas forum’, “according to three senior administration officials, that map [the] declassified one, obtained by McClatchy – has motivated members of the [US] National Security Council to prioritize the formation of a gas forum in the Eastern Mediterranean that would simultaneously boost and entangle the economies of several countries that have been at odds for decades”.

Well, let’s translate that little euphemism: ‘boost and entangle’. What that formula translates into is — the means to integrate Israel into the economic regional sphere is firstly, through energy. Yet, it is not intended to integrate Israel alone into this Egyptian economic sphere, but also to make Jordan, the PA (and maybe even Lebanon), too, partially dependent on Israeli energy – alongside putative partners, Italy, Greece, and (the Greek-linked part) of Cyprus — with the US offering to help flesh out the structure of the ‘gas forum’ with U.S. expertise.

This is the heart of ‘the deal’. Not just political normalisation for Israel into the region, but the making of economic dependency of the Egyptians, Palestinians, Jordanians (and possibly – but not so likely – Lebanon) on the US East-Med gas ‘hub’.

Source: McClatchy

And, inevitably there is a sub-plot to all this, (as McClatchy notes):

“On this front, the administration enjoys support from unlikely allies. Eliot Engel, the Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee … said the Mediterranean gas forum project was a strategic opportunity for the U.S. to stymie Russian influence efforts over local energy resources. “I think that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and Russia can’t and should not be able to control the situation,” Engel stated”.

So, the US Administration is pursuing two bipartisan congressional efforts to ‘stymie’ Russia in the region: One is a bill promoting energy partnerships in the Eastern Mediterranean; and a parallel bill which threatens to sanction European firms supporting the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline taking Russian gas into Germany.

There are however, two obvious big ‘catches’ to this notion of both ‘stymying’ Russia, whilst simultaneously normalising Israel economically into the region. The first, as Simon Henderson of the Washington Institute notes, [is the notion that] the area’s underlying geology could help Europe offset, or even replace, its dependence on Russian gas “seems farfetched at the present level of discoveries. Several more giant fields like Leviathan or Egypt’s Zohr would have to be found before this reality changes”:

“The idea that East Mediterranean energy could impact on the European energy balance in such a way as to dent Russian market share is a fantasy – Europe’s thirst for gas is so huge, and Russia’s ability to provide that gas is so great, that it’s a wild dream to even hope we can achieve it given the limited reserves discovered thus far,” Henderson said. “Hoping you can find gas is not the same as finding gas”.

In short, an Egyptian ‘hub’ serving exports, might only ‘work’, as matters stand, through patching some of the smaller East-Med discoveries – together with a large Israeli contribution – through pipelines into the two Egyptian gas liquefying plants near Port Said and Alexandria. But LNG availability globally is high, prices are hugely competitive, and it is by no means certain that ‘the hub’ can be commercially viable.

And here is the main catch: Geo-politics. Anything aimed at integrating Israel into the region is bound to be sensitive. So, whilst US officials are optimistic about Egypt’s leadership of their ‘gas forum’ in the wake of President Sisi’s April meeting with Trump – Egypt – a mainstay to the separate US Iran confrontation plan – shortly afterward the visit, rather notably withdrew from the strategic military alliance the Trump administration was trying to build to confront Iran: The Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), to the consternation of US officials.

When it comes to energy deals, however, even having a treaty with Israel does not put an end to public sensitivities about rapprochement with Israel, Henderson notes. Notwithstanding any ‘peace treaty’, many Jordanians still oppose the prospect of using (Israeli) Leviathan gas to provide for large-scale electricity generation, beginning early next year. Amman has tried to deflect such anger by calling the supplies “northern gas” or “American gas”, emphasizing Noble’s role in producing it.

But here is the other side to the issue: Clearly, Egypt does not want to be a part of any anti-Iranian US-led alliance (MESA). But equally, why should Egypt – or Jordan, or for that matter, or any other member of the ‘gas forum’ – wish to be tightly aligned with an US anti-Russian strategy for the region? Egypt may have signed up to the US ‘gas hub’ project. But at the very same time, Egypt also was signing a $2 billion contract to buy more than twenty Russian Sukhoi SU-35 fighter aircraft. Do ‘hub’ members really judge an Egyptian ‘hub’ to be a rival to Russian gas in Europe?

Probably not: For ultimately, the idea that a putative energy hub can ‘stymie Russia’ indeed is fantasy. The EU shows, for example, no particular interest in the US supported $7 billion mooted pipeline linking the eastern Mediterranean through Cyprus, to Greece. The undersea terrain is too problematic, and the cost too high.

Israel too, hopes to find more gas (of course). But the deadline for bids on nineteen of its offshore blocks has been pushed back to mid-August – seemingly reflecting a lack of investor interest. For now, the oil majors seem more tempted by the Cypriot blocks – up for bid.

But politics again: being a part of America’s ‘gas forum’ in which the Nicosia (i.e. the Greek-linked) government is a key member, explicitly places the forum and its members on a potential collision course with Turkey, who will not readily yield on its ambitious claims on the East Med basin (it has just announced that it will establish naval and air bases in Northern Cyprus). Nor will Lebanon, either. Sisi and Erdogan share a mutual, personal dislike, but will the others wish to be drawn into that quarrel?

Russia anyway, seems not greatly interested in the production possibilities of the Mediterranean Middle East. Rather it is focused on a pipeline corridor stretching from Iran and Iraq to Europe via Turkey or (eventually) Syria.

In sum then, the Kushner – Trump ‘Deal’, in respect to the integration of Israel into the regional energy economy seems destined to draw the same skepticism and distrust, as does the ‘Deal’s’ other parts.

June 25, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Russophobia | , , , , | 2 Comments

‘Dialogue at gunpoint’: Bolton says Iran’s ‘silence’ is DEAFENING while it’s actually pretty vocal

RT | June 25, 2019

US National Security Advisor John Bolton has said that defiant Iran stays silent over meaningful talks with Washington, when, in fact, Tehran repeatedly argued that a barrage of threats and sanctions has made talks impossible.

Bolton blamed Iran for avoiding dialogue with the US during his visit to Jerusalem on Tuesday.

“As we speak, American diplomatic representatives are surging across the Middle East, seeking a path to peace. In response, Iran’s silence has been deafening.”

The official insisted that Washington “has held the door open for real negotiations,” and all Iran needs to do is to “walk through that open door.” Bolton explained that by doing so Iran must fulfill a laundry list of demands put forward by the US, including the one to “completely and verifiably” eliminate its “nuclear weapons program” and end “malignant behavior worldwide.”

Iran, meanwhile, has been anything but silent about the prospect of negotiating with the US. The country had consistently maintained that it is ready to talk if Washington refrains from issuing threats and slapping new sanctions on Tehran.

Iran stands ready for dialogue, given that it goes on “equal footing and mutual respect,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in January. The minister often blamed Bolton and other foreign policy hardliners at the White House for pushing President Donald Trump from peaceful solutions towards a more bellicose stance.

The Islamic Republic also made it clear that meaningful talks cannot go in hand with the Trump administration’s strategy of applying “maximum pressure” on Iran. On Monday, the US announced plans to blacklist Zarif along with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in retaliation to Iran downing a US drone it claims violated its airspace last week. Tehran responded by saying that sanctions against the nation’s top leadership effectively close “the path of diplomacy” and do not create the right atmosphere for talks.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani put it more bluntly, saying that the new sanctions are a sign of Washington’s “desperation” and “the White House actions show it is mentally retarded.”

“You [the Americans] call for negotiations. If you are telling the truth, why are you simultaneously seeking to sanction our foreign minister, too?”

The promise to enact new sanctions shows that the US is “lying” in the offer of talks with Tehran, Rouhani stressed.

Moscow, whose senior security official Nikolai Patrushev met with Bolton on Tuesday, had also blasted the new round of US sanctions on Iran. The restrictions “negate all of the repeatedly-sent signals that Washington is open and ready to engage in dialogue,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said.

“You can’t have dialogue at gunpoint, literally and figuratively speaking.”

All the recent diplomatic maneuvers by the US have been “aimed at mobilizing an anti-Iranian front,” Ryabkov stated.

The decades-long row between Tehran and Washington escalated dramatically last year when the US unilaterally abandoned the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, while accusing Iran of secretly violating the agreement. Iran denied this, and the nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in its latest reports had confirmed that the nation was following the deal.

June 25, 2019 Posted by | Deception | , | 2 Comments

Google Executive Allegedly Says Only Big Tech Can Prevent 2020 ‘Trump Situation’

Sputnik – June 25, 2019

While Big Tech has consistently brushed off accusations of discrimination and political bias, a new investigative report by Project Veritas provides new insight into Google’s alleged internal practices.

Project Veritas has published a new report on Google along with an undercover video of the company’s head of Responsible Innovation, Jen Gennai, and leaked docs by an alleged insider that purportedly expose the tech giant’s plans to influence the outcome of the 2020 presidential elections in the United States and “prevent the next Trump situation”.

“Elizabeth Warren is saying we should break up Google. And like, I love her but she’s very misguided, like that will not make it better it will make it worse, because all these smaller companies who don’t have the same resources that we do will be charged with preventing the next Trump situation, it’s like a small company cannot do that”, she appears to be saying in the footage, which was filmed at a restaurant on a hidden camera.

Gennai was referring to a statement by Massachusetts Senator Warren to break up tech giants like Amazon, Google, and Facebook as the companies face mounting backlash ahead of the 2020 vote.

The executive, whose “Responsible Innovation” sector monitors and evaluates the implementation of AI technologies, said in the video that Google has been working to reprogramme its systems and algorithms.

“We all got screwed over in 2016, again it wasn’t just us, it was, the people got screwed over, the news media got screwed over, like, everybody got screwed over so we’re rapidly been like, what happened there and how do we prevent it from happening again. We’re also training our algorithms, if 2016 happened again, would we have, would the outcome be different?”

According to Project Veritas, Gennai as well addressed the anti-conservative bias accusations the company has recently faced and explained that “conservative sources” and “credible sources” didn’t always overlap in line with Google’s editorial practices.

“We have gotten accusations of around fairness is that we’re unfair to conservatives because we’re choosing what we find as credible news sources and those sources don’t necessarily overlap with conservative sources…”

As part of the report, the video also contains snippets of an interview with an alleged Google whistleblower, who provided information on the alleged “algorithmic unfairness” and Machine Learning Fairness, which he claimed was “one of the many tools the company uses to advance a political agenda”.

“They are going to redefine a reality based on what they think is fair and based upon what they want, and what and is part of their agenda”.

Gennai has already read the Project Veritas report and penned a Medium post to explain what happened, claiming that the outlet had edited the video “to make it seem that I am a powerful executive who was confirming that Google is working to alter the 2020 election”.

She dismissed the report as an “unadulterated nonsense” and reiterated that the company “works to be a trustworthy source of information, without regard to political viewpoint”.

“In a casual restaurant setting, I was explaining how Google’s Trust and Safety team (a team I used to work on) is working to help prevent the types of online foreign interference that happened in 2016. I was having a casual chat with someone at a restaurant and used some imprecise language. Project Veritas got me. Well done”, she wrote.

YouTube has already removed the video of the interview with Gennai from the platform, while Reddit has suspended Project Veritas’ account following the release of the report.

This isn’t the first time Project Veritas has had its accounts or content removed after publishing an investigative report which exposes the internal practices of big tech firms. One of its reports, which shed light on Pinterest’s internal blacklists, was censored heavily as a result of questionable privacy complaints.

Aside from being taken down from YouTube, Project Veritas was also suspended on Twitter and other journalists who talked about the report in their videos had them removed.

In the past few weeks, Google and its video-sharing platform YouTube have faced multiple accusations of political bias against conservative views and independent media sites, as well as suppression of free speech.

The tech giants have, however, always denied the allegations.

June 25, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | 1 Comment