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Brazil’s toxic pesticides ‘affecting people all over the world’ through agricultural exports

RT | July 30, 2019

“EU-banned pesticide[s are] being manufactured in the EU, and then coming back to citizens in the EU, in the food we eat,” environmental journalist and founding member of the Green Economic Institute think tank Oliver Tickell told RT, explaining that as one of the largest soy exporters in the world, Brazil supplies a significant quantity of the feed that cattle and other livestock worldwide consume. European consumers tucking into a juicy steak have no idea that the creature they’re eating might have been nourished on soy sprayed with highly toxic pesticides.

“This is not just a problem for Brazil and Brazilian people and people exposed in the countryside to these pesticides and consumers and farmers,” Tickell warned. “It is actually affecting people all over the world through Brazil’s agricultural exports.”

ANVISA, the Brazilian public health regulatory agency, relaxed pesticide regulations last week so that only those chemicals with lethal potential can be classified as “extremely toxic,” triggering a massive backlash from environmental groups, human rights organizations, and food safety advocates. The fervently pro-business government of President Jair Bolsonaro has already approved 262 pesticides this year, 82 of which are classed as “extremely toxic,” as he follows through on campaign promises to demolish environmental regulations and open up protected rainforest lands to mining and agriculture.

Dozens of pesticides banned or strictly regulated in the EU, including paraquat and chlorpyrifos, were already permitted for use in Brazil before Bolsonaro took power, and the country uses approximately 400,000 tons of pesticides per year, according to Human Rights Watch. While Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina has flatly denied Brazil uses any more pesticides than any other country, attributing such allegations to “data manipulation” and accusing critics of “terrorism,” EcoWatch claims the country consumes more pesticides per capita than any other nation.

July 30, 2019 Posted by | Environmentalism | , , | 2 Comments

Dismissed! Judge throws out Democrat lawsuit against Trump campaign, Russia & WikiLeaks

RT | July 30, 2019

Arguments by the Democratic National Committee in a lawsuit against Russia, WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign over the 2016 election were “entirely divorced” from facts, a federal judge in New York said as he threw out the case.

The DNC sued in April 2018, claiming that the Trump campaign welcomed “help” from Russia and WikiLeaks, who stole and published the party’s emails in an effort to sway the US electorate during the 2016 presidential election, in which Donald Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton. On Tuesday, US District Judge John Koeltl disagreed.

The DNC “raises a number of connections and communications between the defendants and with people loosely connected to the Russian Federation, but at no point does the DNC allege any facts … to show that any of the defendants – other than the Russian Federation – participated in the theft of the DNC’s information,” Koeltl wrote in the 81-page opinion dismissing the lawsuit with prejudice.

There can be no liability for publishing materials of public interest under the First Amendment to the US Constitution, so long as those disseminating it “did not participate in any wrongdoing in obtaining the materials in the first place,” Koeltl wrote, explaining that the DNC offered no proof that either Trump campaign staff or WikiLeaks did so.

“The Witch Hunt Ends!” Trump tweeted celebrating the ruling, noting that Koeltl was “a highly respected judge who was appointed by President [Bill] Clinton.”

The judge did take for granted that Russia was responsible for hacking the DNC servers and obtaining the emails, though this has never actually been proven and remains an assertion based on the claims of DNC contractor CrowdStrike. However, he told the DNC that it could not sue the Russian government in US courts, due to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act

Moscow has repeatedly rejected allegations that it had somehow interfered in the 2016 or any other US election, saying that such charges were “absurd” and made up to explain Clinton’s loss to Trump.

The DNC lawsuit’s dismissal is the latest victory for Trump in the fast-unraveling ‘Russiagate’ narrative. A two-year investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller concluded in March, failing to find any evidence of Trump’s “collusion” with Russia during the 2016 campaign and trying instead to paint Trump as “obstructing” the probe without actually saying so or leveling charges against the president.

Mueller’s indictment of a dozen Russian nationals he accused of an “active measures” campaign on social media was seriously undermined by another federal judge in May. In court filings unsealed earlier this month, District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich pointed out that Mueller’s report treated as established fact that the group was affiliated with the Russian government, without the indictment actually proving that in any way.

When Mueller testified before two House committees last week, it quickly became obvious that he had very little to do with writing the final report that bore his name, was unfamiliar with its basic premises and conclusions, and had not looked into the probe’s dubious origins with DNC-funded opposition research because it was “not in his purview.”

July 30, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Facebook Continues Censorship Crackdown by Purging Police Accountability Pages

Sputnik – July 30, 2019

In October 2018, Facebook conducted a mass purge of pages connected to alternative and independent news platforms and journalists without warning or explanation, some of which had hundreds of thousands if not millions of followers.

Among those affected were a host of pages promoting police accountability and documenting brutality, criminality and corruption on the part of law enforcement officials, such as Cop Block, Filming Cops and Police the Police, the latter boasting over five million followers. The individuals running these pages were undeterred, and quickly established ‘2.0’ successors, which gradually began regaining the footprint their fallen forebears boasted.

However, Facebook has now struck anew, deleting the replacements on the basis “it looks” like the pages’ activities don’t follow the social media giant’s internal policies.

“The implications of such a move to censor those who expose the police state are horrifying. Before it was deleted last year, Police the Police was the largest police accountability group on the internet and now, despite making back a lot of that ground, it is no longer. For years, we have exposed criminal cops and shined light into the darkness where other media outlets were scared to go. Police the Police and these other pages taught people how to flex their rights, film the police, and to not be afraid to stand up to the police state,” Free Thought Project, the online news outlet behind ‘Police the Police’, said in a statement.

The publication suggests the latest censorship blitz is related to the institution of ‘Blue Lives Matter Laws’ in US states, which elevate former and serving police officers to a protected status under ‘hate crime’ legislation, meaning authorities are now lumped in with “historically persecuted categories” like race, gender, creed, religion, and sexual orientation have been. As a result, criticism of police, even if constructive, could potentially be considered a hate crime, with significant penalties for offenders.

“Simply reporting on police crimes has apparently become a violation in the eyes of Facebook. Unless we fight back in the form of sharing information deemed ‘wrong think’ by the censors, this problem will only continue to get worse. We must continue to alert our fellow humans to this censorship before it becomes the norm. We must use this recent purge as our Streisand moment and turn this massive and blatant act of censorship around as a tool to expose the tyrants behind it,” Free Thought Project concluded.

Atlantic Censors

An alternative explanation for Facebook’s resistance to establishment-critical content could be the organisation’s intimate ties with ‘think tank’ Atlantic Council, an offshoot of NATO with a board of directors that’s a veritable ‘who’s who’ of contentious political figures old and new, including Henry Kissinger, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Robert Gates, Michael Hayden and David Petraeus, among others, funded by a number of Western governments and Ukrainian oligarchs such as Victor Pinchuk.

The pair launched an initiative to combat ‘fake news’ on Facebook in May 2018, although critics have suggested far from battling false information and propaganda, the alliance in fact simply blocks dissenting views from the social network. It has also seen a number of real people – including popular anti-interventionist Maram Susli (‘SyrianGirl’), Ukrainian concert pianist Valentina Lisitsa, and British pensioner Ian Shilling – labelled bots and banned from the platform, albeit temporarily.

The leak in December 2018 of a 1,400-page rulebook outlining Facebook’s internal censorship policies amply validates the view the social media monopoly isn’t concerned with battling ‘disinformation’, and cares far more about silencing views elite individuals and organisations simply don’t like. One section of the file outlines every group and individual the company has deemed a “hate figure” – algorithms and paid human moderators are required to remove any post praising, supporting or representing any of the entities listed.

July 30, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | 3 Comments

Poisoning that shaped 15 years of Ukraine politics never happened – prosecutor on Yushchenko case

RT | July 30, 2019

Former president of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko was not poisoned during the 2004 campaign, Ukraine’s chief military prosecutor said in an interview, casting fresh doubts on the narrative shaping Kiev politics for the past 15 years.

At the time, Yushchenko led a Western-backed coalition against the incumbent Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, whom they accused of being “pro-Russian.” His disfigurement from what he called dioxin poisoning led to an outpouring of popular support and street protests, later dubbed the ‘Orange Revolution.’ Under that pressure, the Ukrainian supreme court annulled the run-off election Yanukovich had won, delivering Yushchenko the presidency after a revote.

This week, however, the deputy Prosecutor-General and chief military prosecutor of Ukraine since 2014, Anatoly Matios, revealed in an interview that his investigators found no evidence of a poisoning.

Speaking to the Politeka online host Andrey Palchevsky, Matios said that he had asked Colonel Igor Nikolaevich Kozlov, who had investigated the case, about what he found.

Tell me, was there poisoning or not? He said “No, there was no poisoning.”

This contradicts the statement made in January by Matios’s boss, Prosecutor-General Yuriy Lutsenko, who maintained that Yushchenko had been poisoned, but “it was still unclear by whom.”

According to the official story, Yushchenko had attended a dinner with several leaders of Ukraine’s security service SBU in Kiev on September 5, 2004. He fell ill soon afterwards and was hospitalized in Austria on September 10. Blood tests showed a significant concentration of TCDD, a dioxin poison found in Agent Orange.

Various Ukrainian officials have cast doubts on the story ever since, pointing out that Yushchenko never allowed a second blood test that would confirm the results, and speculating that the original test was tampered with. Yushchenko has since made a near-complete recovery.

His government was not so fortunate. Its policies proved unable to deliver on the promises of economic prosperity, made the endemic corruption worse and fueled nationalism and intolerance between Ukraine’s diverse communities. Eventually, Yushchenko fell out with his coalition partner Yulia Tymoshenko, who went on to lose the 2010 election to Yanukovych. The former president went from widespread popularity to obscurity, with his party getting less than 2 percent of the parliamentary votes in 2012.

Using the same methods as the original Orange Revolution, another coalition of opposition politicians was assembled in 2013 to pressure Yanukovych into abandoning a free trade pact with Russia for a restrictive trade deal with the EU. The protests, backed by the US and several EU powers, escalated into street violence and culminated in a violent coup in February 2014.

The coup government then tried to crush dissent with military force, leading to the separation of Crimea and the ongoing civil war between Kiev and the two eastern provinces, Donetsk and Lugansk.

July 30, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment

Is India Preparing To Unleash “Weapons Of Mass Migration” In Kashmir?

By Andrew Korybko | Eurasia Future | 2019-07-30

A Military Deployment For Political Ends

The indigenous population of Indian-occupied Kashmir is becoming seriously concerned that New Delhi is preparing to rescind Article 35A ahead of the country’s upcoming independence day celebrations next month following the planned deployment of 20,000 more paramilitary forces to the region. The aforementioned provision bars non-residents from purchasing property there, which was thought at the time to be a clever tactic for quelling pro-independence unrest following India’s occupation of the formerly independent country. Popular international political commentator and former Indian diplomat Melkulangara Bhadrakumar, however, revealed in a recent op-ed curiously published just a few days before the phased deployment began that “the Modi government plans to integrate J&K by divesting or eroding some of its so-called ‘special status’”, hinting that there might be some credence to the locals’ concerns given that such a well-connected individual as Mr. Bhadrakumar himself thought it fitting to publicly make his “reasonable guess” at such a coincidental time.

No Comparison To China

Should this scenario come to pass, then it could dangerously lead to the disruptive large-scale influx of foreigners along the lines of Ivy League scholar Kelly M. Greenhill’s “Weapons of Mass Migration” model whereby demographic changes in a targeted area are triggered and/or manipulated by certain actors for strategic ends. The Indian government no doubt considers occupied Kashmir to be what it terms as an “integral part of the country” despite its internationally disputed status and previous UNSC Resolutions being passed in the past demanding that the locals be allowed to hold a plebiscite on their political status, which is why it would frame events as a “purely internal matter” and might even provocatively attempt to draw comparisons to the situations in China’s Tibet and Xinjiang Autonomous Regions in order to deflect criticism (though doing so might also counterproductively provoke its own separate criticism from other quarters). Such a comparison would be very deceptive, however, since both Chinese regions are universally recognized components of the People’s Republic whereas Kashmir isn’t regarded the same way vis-a-vis India.

The Khalistan Factor

This means that the large-scale movement of Han and other Chinese from elsewhere in the People’s Republic to Tibet and Xinjiang is by legal definition a purely internal matter, whereas the large-scale movement of Indians to Kashmir is a purely international one because of the region’s UN-recognized status as a disputed territory. India’s motivations in curtailing some of Kashmir’s “autonomy” at this specific moment might also stem from the increasingly popular Khalistan movement in neighboring Punjab, which has revived interest in the revolutionary 1973 Anandpur Sahib Resolution‘s decentralization principles and could eventually form the core of an alternative national vision to the ruling Hindutva one. It could partially be because of those fast-moving developments that the Indian government is panicking and wants to gradually remove as much of the occupied Kashmiris’ “autonomy” as possible in order to preempt the scenario of the other minority-majority regions under its control demanding similar rights as well after becoming reacquainted with the aforementioned manifesto and realizing that there’s no reason why they can’t have their own special status too.

A Dangerous Mistake

As the Modi government has been prone to do over the past half-decade, this speculated policy would represent yet another massive mistake if it’s ever implemented. Not only has the planned military deployment already generated intense talk about occupied Kashmir’s “autonomy” — thus negating the possible purpose of keeping such discourse out of the national discussion following the revival of the Khalistan movement — but it could also lead to more forceful resistance from the locals who fear an impending demographic invasion of ‘Weapons of Mass Migration”. Modi clearly wants to deliver on his party’s recent election promise to eliminate Articles 370 and 35A granting “autonomy” to Kashmir and the right to residents to be the sole purchasers of property in the occupied region respectively, but the blind devotion to electioneering rhetoric could prove to be extremely dangerous in this context because of the high likelihood that it’ll backfire by drawing intense international condemnation and possibly even provoking uncontrollable violence.

July 30, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , | 1 Comment

How a Small Group of Pro-Israel Activists Blacklisted MintPress on Wikipedia

By Whitney Webb | MintPress News | July 30, 2019

For over a decade, pro-Israel and ultra-nationalist Israeli settler groups have sought to weaponize the popular online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, through concerted covert editing campaigns, offering Wikipedia editing courses to West Bank settlers and even formal alliances between Israel and Wikipedia to allow Israelis to create and edit content in a variety of languages.

In recent years, this alliance between pro-Israel partisans and Wikipedia has stepped up, largely in response to the growth of the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to pressure Israel to comply with international law with respect to occupied Palestine and the blockaded Gaza Strip. As a consequence, news outlets that consistently report on the success of BDS, such as MintPress News, have been targeted on Wikipedia by such partisans, who recently succeeded in blacklisting MintPress as a “reliable source” on the online encyclopedia.

In early June, a small number of partisan Wikipedia editors privately voted to blacklist MintPress News from use as a source on the online encyclopedia website at the behest of a Wikipedia editor who took issue with MintPress’ coverage of current events in Venezuela and Syria. At no point was MintPress ever asked to comment or allowed to respond to any of the allegations made and MintPress is unable to appeal the decision.

Of the Wikipedia editors who voted to discredit MintPress, several were self-listed as experts in video games, computer science and anime, not geopolitical events, while others had previously gained notoriety for partisan promotion of pro-Israel perspectives and/or the U.S.-funded Venezuelan Popular Will political party, of which the U.S.-backed Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó is a member.

The involvement of pro-Israel partisans in the blacklisting of MintPress on Wikipedia is notable in light of the well-documented and unprecedented efforts of the Israeli government to promote the partisan editing of Wikipedia and to subsequently incorporate the online encyclopedia into its national educational curriculum.

The successful effort to blacklist MintPress News on Wikipedia began on June 1 and was initiated by Wikipedia user “Jamesz42,” a Wikipedia editor from Venezuela who has written several English-language Wikipedia articles on the wives of Popular Will politicians as well as on protest leaders and journalists who are aligned with Popular Will.

MintPress is one of several news organizations that have reported extensively on Popular Will’s U.S. government funding, its lack of popular support in Venezuela, and its history of engaging in violence. Yet MintPress is the only independent outlet that has been blacklisted on Wikipedia for reporting these facts. TeleSur, which is partially funded by the Venezuelan government, was also recently blacklisted by Wikipedia and some of the same users that targeted MintPress, including Jamesz42, were involved.

When his claims against MintPress were challenged by another editor, “R2”, Jamesz42 claimed his reason for starting the query as to MintPress’ credibility was that “MintPress News has been used several times as a source in articles about the Syrian Civil War and the Venezuelan crisis, among other controversial topics, which is the reason why I started this RfC [request for comment].”

However, apparently unable to find a factual inaccuracy in MintPress’ Venezuela or Syria coverage, Jamesz42 cited the accidental incorrect placement of a single hyperlink in a recent MintPress article about Microsoft’s Pentagon-funded election software, ElectionGuard, that was the result of a (now-fixed) copy-and-paste error made by the article’s author.

Jamesz42 stated:

The article accuses Microsoft of “price gouging for its OneCare security software,” and links that text to “Microsoft accused of predatory pricing of security software,” an article from The Guardian (RSP entry) that describes the exact opposite: “Incredibly, Microsoft has priced themselves almost 50% below the market leader.” (See Predatory pricing for a definition of the practice.)

The MintPress News article then uses its own false claim to assert that Microsoft’s ‘offering of ElectionGuard software free of charge is tellingly out of step for the tech giant and suggests an ulterior motive behind Microsoft’s recent philanthropic interest in “defending democracy.”’”

The sentence of the article from which Jamesz42 is quoting began by stating: “Considering that Microsoft has a long history of predatory practices, including price gouging …” The link that was originally attached to the text “price gouging” was the Guardian article referenced by Jamesz42, but was originally meant to link to the text reading “predatory practices.”

As noted, this was a copy-and-paste error on the part of the author and the article intended to link to the term “price gouging” — an article from The Verge titled “Apple, Microsoft, and Adobe attempt to justify ‘price gouging’ to Australian hearing” — was fixed when the error was brought to MintPress’ attention. Such corrections are common practice, undertaken by all reputable news organizations and indicative of high standards of integrity and accountability.

Notably, Jamesz42 claims that Microsoft’s predatory practices that include price gouging were invented by MintPress, even though the original version of the article with the copy-and-paste error based this on the claim that Microsoft was known to engage in predatory practices, with price gouging listed as an example, and citations were provided to back the claim, as even Jamesz42 noted.

This copy-and-paste hyperlink error was the main justification for the blacklisting of MintPress on Wikipedia by Jamesz42, along with the fact that MintPress has previously republished content from the websites ZeroHedge and the Free Thought Project — notably in spite of the fact that all content republished on MintPress contains the following disclaimer:

Stories published in our Daily Digests section are chosen based on the interest of our readers. They are republished from a number of sources, and are not produced by MintPress News. The views expressed in these articles are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.”

Evidence-free name-calling and piling-on

After Jamesz42 made these initial claims, another user, “PaleoNeonate,” said that he confirmed his suspicion that MintPress’ reporting was “strange” with a “pro-Israel source” that referred to MintPress as “fringe.” PaleoNeonate then claimed that MintPress is unreliable for republishing “Russian state media” and reporting on “conspiracy theories” on chemical weapons attacks in the Syrian conflict. MintPress has been accused of promoting “conspiracy theories” about well-known, alleged chemical weapons attacks in Syria on several occasions and MintPress reports on the subject were later corroborated by award-winning journalists like Seymour Hersh and Robert Fisk. Notably, this user, PaleoNeonate, is an expert in computer science, not geopolitics.

These claims were followed by user “Alsee,” who was also involved in the effort to blacklist TeleSur. This user stated: “It’s unclear whether MintPress is part of the Russian fake news engine or merely a bunch of ‘useful idiot’ nutters participating in the same content-sharing web of alternative ‘news’ sites,” and also claimed that MintPress “is widely considered unreliable.” Alsee’s evidence for the latter was that Google and Facebook’s censorship of MintPress was proof that the site is “fake news.” Alsee’s comment was responded to by the anonymous moderator account “Newslinger,” who stated that MintPress “clearly has no ambition to be a reliable source.”

Another user, “TheTimesAreAChanging,” without providing evidence, called MintPress “a cesspool of conspiracy theories and misinformation,” and is notably an editor of Wikipedia articles related to video games. The user “IceWhiz” stated that MintPress should be blacklisted “for propagating non-mainstream viewpoints (which are usually UNDUE),” but also provided no further explanation for this assertion.

An additional user, “Bobfrombrockley,” cited the fact-checking organization Newsguard and its rating of MintPress. That rating came several months after MintPress authored a viral exposè of Newsguard’s connections to neoconservatives and former government officials, including former CIA director Michael Hayden. MintPress later authored an in-depth response showing that Newsguard’s rating of MintPress was clearly biased and possibly influenced by our critical reporting on their operations.

At one point, one user, “R2,” objected to the way the Request for Comment thread on MintPress’ reliability was being handled, which was seconded by the user “Peter Gulutzan.” The user R2 stated:

This RfC violates our verifiability policy. It amounts to little more than a popularity contest and is inconsistent with [Wikipedia’s “context matters” rule]: Each source must be carefully weighed to judge whether it is reliable for the statement being made in the Wikipedia article and is an appropriate source for that content.” (emphasis in original)

This user further stated:

It is inappropriate for us to go through obscure sources that have only been glancingly addressed here and to decide whether they satisfy the reliability bar absolutely or generally.”

The moderator Newslinger responded:

The above evidence is more than enough to establish MintPress News as highly questionable. There is no need to go through additional motions when multiple discussions’ worth of evidence is presented in this RfC.”

Yet, as previously mentioned, the aforementioned discussion of MintPress’ alleged unreliability was only related only to: 1) The since-amended copy-and-paste error in the ElectionGuard story; 2) Allegations about republished, not original content; and 3) Newsguard’s openly dishonest rating of MintPress News.

The thread was then closed by user “SJones23,” who is a self-described expert in Star Wars, video games and the animated television series Dragon Ball Z, and is not a site administrator. This action taken by SJones23 resulted in the blacklisting of MintPress and the site’s listing as a site that “publishes false or fabricated information.”

“Unreliable” blacklisting seems to mean anti-Israel

Several of the Wikipedia users involved in blacklisting MintPress News have gained varying degrees of notoriety for their pro-Israel partisanship on the online encyclopedia. The user Icewhiz, who stated that MintPress should be blacklisted for “propagating non-mainstream viewpoints,” has lobbied to delete the entire Wikipedia article on the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank, which Icewhiz refers to as the “Israeli military administration in the West Bank.” Prior to lobbying for the article’s removal, Icewhiz had edited the article on the military occupation of the West Bank by removing the entire section about settler violence targeting Palestinians and most of the section about how the military occupation affects Palestinian children, among other pertinent information.

In addition to his efforts to remove information from Wikipedia articles that paint Israel’s military occupation of Palestine in a critical light, Icewhiz also attempted to alter the article on Palestinian nurse Razan al-Najjar, who was killed by an Israeli sniper during the Great Return March protests in the Gaza Strip last year, despite clearly wearing a vest marking her as a medic. Icewhiz added a video of al-Najjar that was later found to have been heavily edited and promoted by the Israel Defense Force as a means of justifying her death and subsequently re-edited the article to promote the IDF interpretation of the video after another editor included information critical of the IDF’s use of the doctored video. Icewhiz also edited the article on Razan al-Najjar to claim that she was “allegedly shot” by the IDF, despite the fact that there has been no disputing the IDF’s responsibility for her death, even from Israel’s government.

Per other threads of Wikipedia, two other users who voted to blacklist MintPress — users “Shrike” and “Stefka Bulgaria” — collaborate or have collaborated with Icewhiz and have defended Icewhiz from accusations of editing with an extreme pro-Israel bias. The user Shrike, who called MintPress “clearly unreliable,” has co-authored articles on historical leaders of the Zionist movement with Icewhiz and currently lives in Israel.

Notably, Shrike was involved in allowing the neoconservative pro-Israel think tank, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), to edit Wikipedia articles with “protected status,” according to information posted by another user on his profile page. The current president of JCPA is Dore Gold, a former advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations during Netanyahu’s first term as prime minister, and the Center receives large amounts of funding from casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a major supporter of Netanyahu and a top donor of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Shrike was awarded for his role getting protected status for a neoconservative pro-Israel think tank

Another user who voted to blacklist MintPress was Bobfrombrockley, who is a supporter of the Syrian opposition in the Syrian conflict and refers to militant groups in the Idlib province, all of which are now affiliated with the terror group al-Nusra Front (now Hayat Tahrir al-Sham), as “moderate Islamist” groups. As was previously mentioned, one of the reasons that MintPress was flagged for blacklisting on Wikipedia was related to our Syrian coverage.

Despite his support of “moderate Islamist” groups, this user responded to the question “What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat?” by saying “the literal truth of the Koran.” On his personal webpage, he also describes himself as “a reluctant Zionist, a critical Zionist, some days a borderline anti-Zionist, but a Zionist nonetheless.”

A screenshot from Bobfrombrockley’s personal blog

Weaponizing Wiki

For over ten years, Wikipedia has been a key focus of right-leaning, pro-Israel groups that have effectively weaponized the online encyclopedia as a means of controlling the narrative when it comes to the state of Israel’s more than 50-year-long military occupation of Palestine.

For example, the Electronic Intifada reported in 2008 on how the group CAMERA, a pro-Israel media-monitoring organization, taught pro-Israel activists how to circumvent Wikipedia’s editing rules to include certain talking points that would normally be flagged as state propaganda, and discussed the need to build an “army” on Wikipedia to ensure the dominance of their point of view. The story was subsequently picked up by other outlets and Wikipedia later banned some of the editors whose names appeared in the CAMERA emails.

Unsurprisingly, the Electronic Intifada was targeted late last year by several of the same users who targeted MintPress, including Icewhiz and Shrike, who described the site as “partisan” and “propaganda,” respectively. As a result of Electronic Intifada having been flagged repeatedly by users like Icewhiz, Wikipedia now lists the site as “generally unreliable with respect to its reputation for accuracy, fact-checking, and error-correction.” However, it has yet to be blacklisted.

Two years after Electronic Intifada’s report, Haaretz revealed that the Yesha Council of settlements (i.e., illegal settlements in Palestine’s West Bank) and the right-wing group Israel Sheli were giving courses “designed to teach how to register for, contribute to and edit for Wikipedia” in order to “affect Israeli public opinion by having people who share their [the right-wing groups’] ideological viewpoint take part in writing and editing for the Hebrew version, and to write in English so Israel’s image can be bolstered abroad.” The course, which was co-organized by Naftali Bennett, who later became Israel’s education minister, included an award for “Best Zionist Editor,” which would go to the person who made the most “Zionist” changes to Wikipedia.

Then, in 2013, Haaretz reported that yet another pro-Israel organization, NGO Monitor, was making biased, negative edits to the entries of groups that it regularly targeted, specifically the Israeli human-rights organization B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch, while making biased, positive edits to NGO Monitor’s entry page as well as the page of the organization’s president, Gerald Steinberg.

Since then, the focus of pro-Israel groups has continued unabated and has now come to officially include support from Israel’s government. This formal Israel-Wikipedia alliance began in 2014 as “a collaborative program to train history, geography and science teachers to guide their students in editing and adding to Wikipedia articles,” which was forged between Jan-Bart de Vreede, then-chairman of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees, and Shai Piron, who was then Israel’s education minister.

Netanyahu meets Wikimedia Foundation executive director Lila Tretikov in 2015. Photo | Israel GPO

Piron told the Jerusalem Post of the project:

It is important for us that the education system in Israel will lead the innovation and collaboration with Wikipedia and provide a wonderful opportunity to think outside the box and allow students in Israel to do things which will also influence others.”

A year after the initiative began, Israel began receiving its first tools to make editing Wikipedia easier, tools that were not available to other countries. One of these tools made available first to Israelis was described by the Jerusalem Post as “a special translation tool to help recreate Wikipedia content in different languages.” As a consequence, the report noted, “the tool will help editors translate Wikipedia pages between Hebrew and Arabic, which could mean the Arab world will soon be reading Wikipedia articles made in Israel.”

The provision of these tools to Israel first was part of an initiative by the then-executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, Lila Tretikov. Those Israel-exclusive initiatives were announced less than two weeks after Wikipedia’s founder, Jimmy Wales, received a $1 million prize from Tel Aviv University for what the prize committee claimed was Wales’ efforts in leading the “information revolution.”

Wales has long made it no secret that he is pro-Israel, having visited the country more than ten times per his own count, leading The Times of Israel to note in 2015 that “While Wikipedia strives for objectivity on Israel, Wales is unabashedly pro.” Years prior, in 2011, when Wales attended the Israeli Presidential Conference, he told Israeli media that “I’m a strong supporter of Israel, so I don’t listen to those critics.”

A glaring double standard

The successful blacklisting of MintPress News on Wikipedia comes at a time when Israel’s government and pro-Israel organizations are investing more time and money than ever before into the virtual realm in an effort to control the narrative, an effort that has grown in scope in response to the success of the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and increased international awareness about the Israeli occupation and human rights abuses targeting Palestinians.

These online “battles” are openly described as part of a “war” by Israeli government officials, particularly top-ranking officials in Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs. For example, Brigadier-General Sima Vaknin-Gil, director-general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, has described the battle against BDS as war and has argued that BDS and its supporters “can be curbed and contained through public diplomacy and soft tools.”

“In order to win, however, we must use tricks and craftiness. The bottom line is the rival has moved from its comfort zone into our comfort zone. Today the rival is on the defense and we are on the offensive,” Vaknin-Gil stated in 2017.

As this article has shown, MintPress was recently targeted by “tricks and craftiness” on Wikipedia, which used a minor copy-and-paste hyperlink placement error that was corrected after publication to justify blacklisting the entire website and smearing our content as “unreliable.” Yet, while MintPress has been targeted for minor, corrected errors, Wikipedia editors have had no complaints about damaging “fake news” from news outlets like the Wall Street Journal.

The Journal recently published an article titled “While Trump and Kim Talk, North Korea Appears to Expand Its Nuclear Arsenal,” which was based on the fabricated claim that analysts at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) stated that North Korea could have produced as many as 12 nuclear weapons since U.S. and North Korean leadership met last June in Singapore. While the premise of the article was false and this was later noted in a correction, the article has stayed online and continues to be used to argue against a diplomatic resolution and in favor of a military resolution to North Korea’s nuclear program.

Despite this recent, damaging example of “fake news,” the Wall Street Journal remains a reliable source on Wikipedia, as do other outlets like Buzzfeed News and the Washington Post that have also published fabricated claims in the past. It appears clear that the standards for “fake news” with some partisan Wikipedia editors appear to shift when an outlet reports critically on Israeli government policy.

Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.

July 30, 2019 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 3 Comments

West’s Relations with the White Helmets have gone Stale

By Jean Perier – New Eastern Outlook – 30.07.2019

At long last, Western sponsors of the so-called “humanitarian group” White Helmets have woken up to the fact that their love affair with those pseudo-humanitarianists is more damaging that beneficial, which in turn invoked a number of problems.

The White Helmets which have been exposed as a propaganda operation launched by Washington and London to feed the international community with fake videos depicting false-flag chemicals attack in Eastern Ghouta started experiencing its first difficulties last year when the White House decided to stop sponsoring them. For sure, their activities have been pretty beneficial for the US as it provided Washington with a pretext to attack Syria, but then Washington has never had much concern over the well-being of its minions once they are no longer useful.

Even though Donald Trump would have a change of heart in mid-summer 2018, ordering the US State Department and US Agency for International Development to allocate another 6.6 million dollars to sponsor the activities of this organization, at this point nobody had any doubts about the provocative and untruthful nature of the reports that would be released by the White Helmets.

A well-known British journalist, Vanessa Beeley has already exposed the ties between the British intelligence agencies and the White Helmets and through them to the Jabhat Al-Nusra terrorist group. According to her revelations, the White Helmets branch in Eastern Aleppo was once established by Abdulaziz Maghribi, who previously headed a local Al-Nusra-affiliated militant group. Further still, this individual had also been an armed member of the Turkish-backed Al Tawhid brigade which invaded East Aleppo in 2012

The ever growing awareness of the Western public about the deceptive nature of the White Helmets and their activities has rendered them useless in any future anti-Russian or anti-Syrian provocations. Therefore, Washington had to take some sort of decision about their future, musing over the possibility of turning them into a purely British local propaganda vehicle, as the group was created back in 2013 by a retired British servicemen, the head of the Mayday Rescue Foundation NGO – James Le Mesure, or scrap this project altogether. Under these circumstances it became clear even for Washington that it had to find much more credible partners on the ground to carry on advancing its agenda.

As the number of Syrian towns under control of pro-Western jihadi fighters has been dwindling steadily, Jordan’s intelligence agencies in cooperation with the Mossad launched a withdrawal operation, transporting a total of 98 White Helmets activists together with their family members to Jordan from south-western Syria, on July 22, 2018. Some publications claim that they’ve evacuated 422 people, while others state that there was over 800 people transported in total. Initially, it was planned that those so-called activists would dwell for some time at the Muwaffaq Salti Air Base before heading to a number of western countries.

Initially, it was announced that the resettlement of the White Helmets wouldn’t take more than three-four weeks, with the UK, France, Canada, and Germany claiming that they would be delighted to become a new home for those “brave souls”, but it’s been over a year now. No more than three hundred out of the initial 800 have found their new homes, as reported by Reuters, but now the process of resettlement has come to a screeching halt.

In particular, as it’s been reported by Canadian media sources, there’s still White Helmets members dwelling with their family members in Jordan’s Azraq refugee camp, including those that were supposed to be moved to Canada. In total, there’s over 42 people that have been waiting for resettlement to Canada for almost a year now. However, after the initial security check, including an “interview” conducted in the camp, Ottawa realized that it had no intention of providing asylum to the much-touted “human rights champions,” seeking a pretext to send them some place else instead. The situation is getting even more peculiar due to the fact that Amman gave permission of transit to those individuals, but didn’t say a word about their right for permanent residence. Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau hopes that the Nazi-ridden Ukraine would develop a taste for hosting pro-Western “human rights activists,” after all the newly elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to pay his dues after the warm welcome he received in Ottawa and Canada making a promise to deliver its old armored vehicles to Ukraine.

As for Canada itself, in spite of its relatively relaxed migration legislation, it’s in no hurry to grant refuge to those representatives of the White Helmets that are stuck in Jordan. It is equally reluctant to grant entry permission to those Canadians who were fighting against the legitimate Syrian government in the ranks of ISIS militants together with their family members. In total, the latter group consists of 32 individuals (6 men, 9 women and 17 children). According to the information leaked to the media, Canadian intelligence agencies are currently collecting evidence to identify the role they might have played in committing various war crimes.

In general, as Canadian observers note, the flow of Syrian refugees to Canada has been put on halt once Ottawa faced a number of difficulties with their integration into the local society. After all, Justin Trudeau couldn’t care less about Syrian refugees, since they were only beneficial to him during the initial years of his stay in power, when he could score a number of political points talking about them. It is obvious that Western governments have no stomach for hosting those individuals they were praising as heroes, since such a move could result in a spike of xenophobic moods and a wide-spread panic over the possibility of terrorist attacks. And besides, the White Helmets have already played their propaganda role, so they are no longer needed.

July 30, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

FCO Fails to Condemn Bahrain Embassy Incident

Press TV – July 30, 2019

Four days after Bahraini embassy staff in London allegedly tried to throw a protester off the embassy roof, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has yet to comment on the incident.

There were angry protests outside the Bahraini embassy in London on July 26, prompted by the imminent execution of two activists.

The event climaxed after a protester, one Moosa Abd-Ali, climbed onto the roof of the embassy and was intercepted there by embassy staff who allegedly tried to throw him off the roof.

The event was live streamed and prominently tweeted by British-Iranian journalist, Nargess Moballeghi.

Wider media coverage, notably by the online Independent, identified the protester as “Moosa Mohamed”, and reported that he had unfurled a banner reading: “I am risking my life to save two men about to be executed in the next few hours. Boris Johnson act now!”

Whilst the police eventually stormed the building to save Abd-Ali’s life, however instead of taking action against embassy staff they ended up arresting Abd-Ali for alleged trespass.

Abd-Ali’s dramatic protest proved fruitless as the two activists, Ali al-Arab and Ahmed al-Malali, were executed by the Bahraini authorities the following morning.

Hitherto, the dramatic events at the Bahraini embassy and the alleged attempted murder by embassy staff, has not elicited any reaction from the British government, let alone a condemnation.

This is not the first time that Bahraini embassy staff in London have tried to harm protesters and got away with it. In 2017, Bahraini embassy employees were accused of throwing hot water on demonstrators from a balcony.

The FCO’s failure to admonish Bahrain for this potentially criminal behavior on British soil is entirely in keeping with the British government’s policy of supporting the ruling Al-Khalifa dynasty.

The British government admits to training Bahraini security forces on “command and control” techniques designed to suppress demonstrations.

A 2017 report by the human rights organization “Reprieve” revealed that the FCO had paid for six Bahraini police officers to visit Belfast in August 2015 for “public order” training.

The Guardian reported in August 2016 that the UK’s College of Policing had a contract with Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior to train Bahrain’s police forces.

July 30, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , | Leave a comment

As US Beefs Up Military Presence in the Gulf, Yemen’s Houthis Turn to Russia for Support

Houthi attempts to engage the UN to broker a peaceful solution to the war on Yemen have stalled. Now, out of options, the movement may have found a willing partner in Moscow.

By Ahmed Abdulkareem | Mint Press News | July 26, 2019

MOSCOW — Yemen’s Houthi movement has reacted with concern to an announcement by Washington that the U.S. is pursuing an increased military presence in the Persian Gulf. U.S. Central Command announced Operation Sentinel on July 19, claiming that a multinational maritime effort is needed to promote “maritime stability, ensure safe passage, and de-escalate tensions in international waters throughout the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, the Arabian [Persian] Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, and the Gulf of Oman.”

The Houthis’ Supreme Political Council, the highest political authority in Sana`a, held an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss the developments. After the meeting Houthi officials released a statement denouncing Operation Sentinel, saying that Yemen is keen on the security of the Red Sea and that any escalation by Coalition countries, including the United States, would be met with a response. The statement went on to say:

What makes waterways safe is an end to the war on Yemen, a lifting of the siege on the country and the end to [the Saudi-led Coalition] restricting access to food and commercial vessels in Yemeni ports, especially the port of Hodeida, not the presence of multinational forces there.”

Houthi officials also weighed in on the arrival of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia as a part of a broader tranche of forces sent to the Gulf region over the past two months following increased tensions between Washington and Tehran. Mohammed Abdulsalam, the spokesman of Houthis and one of the most important decision-makers within the movement, told al-Mayadeen TV that the arrival of 500 U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia is “not welcome in the region.” 

On Monday, Abdulsalam ridiculed Saudi Arabia’s celebration of the arrival of the U.S. troops, pointing to the Kingdom’s relying on U.S. and British protection while at the same time not knowing how to extricate itself from Yemen. “On one side, there are the Saudis seeking protection from others and on the other side, we have Yemen facing those superpowers with strength, rigidity and wisdom,” Abudlsalam said in a Facebook post. Abdulsalam also said that the deployment of U.S. troops to the Kingdom was aimed at boosting the morale of Saudi Arabia in the face of Yemen’s ballistic missile and drone attacks.

Abudlsalam’s comments were made during an official visit to Moscow, where a Houthi delegation was visiting at the invitation of the Russian government. The July 24 meeting with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister to the Middle East and North Africa Mikhail Bogdanov was held to discuss, among other things, U.S. military presence in the Gulf. Abdulsalam claimed during the meeting that U.S. and Western visions for a solution to the conflict in Yemen would be unsuccessful, telling his Russian counterpart that there won’t be security and safety in the region without an end to the aggression against Yemen. He went on to say that, “we [Houthis] have common interests with the Russians regarding peace in the region.”

Both Bogdanov and Abdulsalam expressed commitment to abiding by the UN-brokered Stockholm Agreement, which calls for a ceasefire in the Hodeida port in western Yemen. The Houthis also expressed support for Russia’s policy vision for security in the Gulf, which was presented by Bogdanov on Tuesday.

While Russian efforts may not necessarily produce peace in Yemen, they may give the Saudi-led Coalition a chance to see that all options for diplomacy have been fully explored. They will also provide the United Arab Emirates (UAE) — which recently pulled out a significant portion of their military forces from Yemen, amidst fears of Houthi retaliatory attacks on Dubai — a chance to jump on the Russian bandwagon. Saudi Arabia, which has made little progress in its more than four-year-long adventure in Yemen, could also use Russian efforts as a face-saving opportunity, according to Yemeni diplomats who spoke to MintPress.

According to well-informed sources in the Houthi movement, Russia is pushing hard to play a role in bringing an end to the war on Yemen, and Russian and Houthi interests are becoming more aligned, including opposition to an increased U.S. military presence in the region. Houthi officials are also hoping that Russia will use its position in the UN Security Council to veto resolutions adversely affecting the interests of Yemen. One Houthi official, who asked to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the issue, even told MintPress that Russia played a role in the recent withdrawal of the UAE forces from Yemen.

“No subordination to Iran”

Mehdi Al-Mashat, the Head of the Houthi Supreme Political Council, told delegates from the International Crisis Group on Wednesday that the Houthis are ready to stop drones and ballistic attacks on Saudi Arabia if the Kingdom stops its attacks on Yemen. He also expressed readiness to engage in dialogue with Saudi officials to “achieve a just peace for all,” but warned that the “U.S. must know Yemen is a country which has sovereignty and is not subject to anyone.”

Regarding Iran, Al-Mashat told members of the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based NGO that works to resolve violent conflicts around the world, “with regard to the false claims that we are followers of Iran, which the Coalition countries know to be false, we confirm that there is no subordination to Iran.” Tehran’s support for the Houthis is limited to political, diplomatic and media support and the country’s influence in Yemen is marginal at best.

For its part, the United Nations says the years-long war in Yemen can be stopped and is eminently resolvable if the warring sides commit to the UN-brokered Stockholm peace agreement reached in Sweden late last year. Under the agreement, both the Houthis and Coalition forces agreed to withdraw their troops from the Yemeni ports of Hodeida, Salif, and Ras Issa, and to allow the deployment of UN monitors.

The UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths said on Tuesday, “I believe that this war in Yemen is eminently resolvable, both parties continue to insist that they want a political solution and the military solution is not available, they remain committed to the Stockholm agreement in all its different aspects.”

UAE “not leaving Yemen”

While the Houthis have had some success in forcing a dialogue with Coalition leaders through the United Nations, Russia, and various NGOs, it appears that their celebration over the recent announcement that the UAE is withdrawing its troops from Yemen may have been premature. In the Houthis’ first official statement since the UAE announced it was withdrawing its troops from Yemen, Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam said on Wednesday that “the UAE has not withdrawn any its soldiers from Yemen, and instead has redeployed its forces from a number of areas in Yemen, including battlefields in Hodeida and Marib province in eastern Yemen.” Abdulsalam went on to encourage UAE leaders to pull out of Yemen, saying “the UAE getting out of Yemen is positive and natural and we encourage its leaders to do so.”

The UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Mohammed Gargash, in an opinion piece published in The Washington Post on Monday, confirmed the UAE was not leaving Yemen, saying: “Just to be clear, the UAE and the rest of the Coalition are not leaving Yemen.”

He added, “While we will operate differently, our military presence will remain. In accordance with international law, we will continue to advise and assist local Yemen forces — referring to the myriad UAE-funded Yemeni rebel groups including the Shaban elite forces, the Mahri elite forces, and the Security Belt.

According to Mohammed Abdulsalam, the seemingly contradictory statement coming from the UAE may be a result of Saudi pressure.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s state news agency Anadolu, citing a spokesman for the UAE allies, reported on Wednesday that the Sudanese armed forces had partially withdrawn from parts of Yemen following the withdrawal of UAE troops from the same areas. Yemeni armed forces will replace the Sudanese troops around Hodeida, a Yemeni source told Anadolu.

The UAE and Sudan, parts of a Saudi-led military coalition, have been active members in the brutal Saudi-led Coalition’s war on Yemen since it began in 2015, which the United Nations says has produced the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with millions on the brink of starvation

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media

July 30, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

Russia presents UN with Persian Gulf collective security plan amid tensions

Press TV – July 30, 2019

Russia has submitted to the United Nations a proposal that calls for collective security in the Persian Gulf at a time of rising tensions in the strategic region.

In two identical letters addressed to the UN Security Council and the General Assembly and obtained by Russia’s TASS news agency on Tuesday, Moscow underlined the need for an “effective” measure to boost stability in the Persian Gulf.

“In the current conditions, energetic and effective action is needed at international and regional levels in the interests of improving and further stabilizing the situation in the Persian Gulf, overcoming the prolonged crisis stage and turning this sub-region to peace, good neighborly relations and sustainable development,” the letters read.

They also called on regional and extra-regional countries to engage in bilateral and multilateral talks aimed at forming a security system in the Persian Gulf.

“Practical work on launching the process of creating a security system in the Persian Gulf may be started by holding bilateral and multilateral consultations between interested parties, including countries both within the region and outside of it, UN Security Council, LAS (League of Arab States), OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation), GCC (Persian Gulf Cooperation Council),” they added.

Moscow further expressed its readiness to cooperate with “all interested parties to implement this and other constructive proposals.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry unveiled last week its plan for collective security in the Persian Gulf, which envisages holding an international conference as well as establishing an organization on regional security and cooperation.

Recently, the US has taken a quasi-warlike posture against Iran and stepped up its provocative military moves in the Middle East, among them the June 20 incursion of an American spy drone into the Iranian borders.

The UK has also joined the US in fueling tensions with Iran by seizing an Iranian-owned supertanker in the Strait of Gibraltar on July 4 in an apparent act of “maritime piracy.”

Two weeks later, a British-flagged tanker failed to stop after hitting an Iranian fishing boat — as is required by international law — in the Strait of Hormuz. Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) impounded the ship after its unsafe maneuver.

Earlier this month, Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the US was working to form a military coalition to protect commercial shipping off the coast of Iran and Yemen.

Former British foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt also unveiled plans for a European-led naval mission, which he said would be aimed at ensuring safe shipping through the Strait of Hormuz.

July 30, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment