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The Death Of Free Speech: Zuckerberg Asks Governments For Instructions On “What Discourse Should Be Allowed”

By Jonathon Turley | February 17, 2020

I have written for years on the effort of European countries to expand their crackdown on free speech globally through restrictions on social media and Internet speech. It appears that Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has relented in what may prove the death knell for free speech in the West. Zuckerberg seems to relent in asking governments for regulations stipulating what speech will be permitted on Facebook and other platforms. It is the ultimate victory of France, Germany, and England in their continuing attack on free expression though hate speech laws and speech regulation.

Zuckerberg told an assembly of Western leaders Saturday at the Munich Security Conference that “There should be more guidance and regulation from the states on basically — take political advertising as an example — what discourse should be allowed?” He did add: “Or, on the balance of free expression and some things that people call harmful expression, where do you draw the line?” The problem is that his comments were received as accepting that government will now dictate the range of free speech. What is missing is the bright line rule long maintained by the free speech community.

As tragically demonstrated in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, speech regulations inevitably expand with time. The desire to silence one’s critics becomes insatiable for both governments and individuals.

Zuckerberg is facing great pressure, including from Democratic leaders in the United States, to regulate political speech and he seems to be moving away from the bright-line position against such regulation as a principle. Instead, he is accepting the fluid concept of “balanced” regulations that has always preceded expanding speech codes and criminalization:

“There are a lot of decisions in these areas that are really just balances between different social values. It’s about coming up with an answer that society feels is legitimate and that they can get behind and understand that you drew the line here on the balance of free expression and safety. It’s not just that there’s one right answer. People need to feel like, ‘OK, enough people weighed in, and that’s why the answer should be this, and we can get behind that.’”

 

February 17, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Repeat of Iowa caucus looms in Nevada as problems are illuminated (& ignored)

By Helen Buyniski | RT | February 17, 2020

The same issues that led to the Democratic debacle in Iowa earlier this month are poised to make next week’s vote in Nevada equally hellish – yet party leaders seem unwilling to connect the dots or recognize the problem.

Early voters in Nevada have already faced long lines, technical difficulties, and monumental uncertainty about the voting process with voting underway since Saturday due to close Tuesday before the general caucus this coming Saturday.

We’ve seen this movie before

The slow-motion car-crash caucus volunteers have sketched out in their heads bears a strong resemblance to the events of Iowa. They’re willing to discuss it in interviews with the media, but always anonymously, for fear of angering what is apparently a vengeful party. But the Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez and his state-level minions insist all is well.

The off-the-shelf Google forms that were quickly substituted for the buggy app that killed the Iowa caucus have already malfunctioned at some early voting sites, leaving some Nevadans waiting for three or four hours trying to vote. Meanwhile, no one seems to be on the same page regarding how the results from 80 early voting sites will be distributed among the 2,000 precincts where caucuses are to be held. Local politician Dan Rolle discovered the paper ballots used for early voting lacked precinct numbers, seemingly guaranteeing the party would be unable to count those votes and distribute them to the proper precinct by Saturday.

Some volunteers have reportedly received no training in using their DNC-purchased iPads, which they are supposed to use to scan the paper ballots marked up by early voters. A web-based Google app that has been dubbed the “Caucus Calculator” is supposed to divvy these up and send them around to the precincts for caucus day – wrinkles pointed out by Rolle notwithstanding. Caucus site leader Seth Morrison warned that volunteers were using an “untested software tool,” advising CNN viewers in Nevada to vote early because the volunteers had “never seen or handled” the tool being prepared for Saturday’s caucus. Perez seemed more concerned that a CNN reporter had called the “online tool” an “app” than he was to learn that volunteers didn’t know how to use it. At the same time, Rolle observed that the tool wasn’t being used at all.

One presidential aide suggested to the Washington Post that Nevada Democrats were “making it up as they go along” in their belated rush to conjure up a technological solution to replace the Shadow app. As an added wrinkle, Nevada was supposed to use two versions of the app, which was notoriously built by former Hillary Clinton staffers with money from the Pete Buttigieg campaign – one to tabulate the early votes, and another for the caucus.

Keeping everyone in the loop regarding replacement processes has proved difficult, with multiple campaigns’ aides complaining that notice of a critical conference call nearly passed them by. One aide was unable to join in at all because he was in the middle of a training session. Another update on process reportedly made it to journalists before the party distributed it to all the campaigns.

‘Trust us, we’re experts’

The party has reportedly brought in “security experts” to troubleshoot early voting issues, though this is hardly encouraging given the prevalence of DNC insiders among these so-called experts. The replacement process for the Shadow app was reportedly designed with input from the Department of Homeland Security, the DNC, and Google, and Nevada Democratic Party executive director Alana Mounce insisted the party was “confident in our backup plans and redundancies” in a memo to the campaigns on Thursday.

Nevada Democrats have done their best to squelch rumors that the contest is rigged, explaining that former Buttigieg staffer Emily Goldman, hired earlier this month as “voter protection director” for the party, will not have the ability to affect the caucus outcome. And the progressive watchdogs have moved on to Utah, where the state party chair has a history of virulently attacking Vermont senator Bernie Sanders.

Sanders leads the pack of Democratic contenders in Nevada, according to RealClearPolitics, with former vice president Joe Biden trailing by three points. Buttigieg, the beneficiary of the Iowa mess, lags behind even billionaire Tom Steyer. Sanders emerged the victor from the New Hampshire primary, though media coverage mystifyingly focused on the second-place finish of Buttigieg and Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar – even talking up New York plutocrat Michael Bloomberg, who wasn’t on the ballot in that state, rather than discuss the democratic socialist’s triumph.

February 17, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , | Leave a comment

Erdogan Escalates Threats, Syria Ignores Him, Scores Massive Gains

Aleppo celebrates, but Erdogan has 7000 troops in Idlib, unquestioned US support, and a penchant for occupying pieces of Syria

By Marko Marjanović | Anti-Empire | February 17, 2020

Erdogan has escalated threats, saying he will not wait until end of February to push the Syrian army back to its starting lines if it does not start withdrawing:

“The solution in Idlib is the regime withdrawing to the borders in the agreements. Otherwise, we will handle this before the end of February,” Erdoğan said.

Until we clear Syria of terrorist organizations and the cruelty of the regime, we will not rest easy,” he said.

The Trump administration’s unqualified (if wholly rhetorical) support for whatever Erdogan may wish to do there, as long as it goes against the Russians may have had something to do with that:

In a statement released by the White House on Sunday, Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere said Trump – in a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – “conveyed the United States’s desire to see an end to Russia’s support for the Assad government’s atrocities and for a political resolution to the Syrian conflict”.

“Trump expressed concern [yesterday] over the violence in Idlib, Syria and thanked Erdogan for Turkey’s efforts to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe,” Deere said.

Either way, the Syrian army has been completely ignoring Erdogan’s demands, ultimatums and threats and it has paid off handsomely for Damascus. It has continued to make gains daily, and scored a gigantic success yesterday as rebel defenses in western Aleppo suburbs crumbled after they were outflanked from the south.

Inside a day the Syrian army gained the majority of the urbanized territory that represented the most valuable real-estate still in rebel hands. The rest of the salient will follow today or tomorrow at the latest.

This marks the definite end of the 8-year Battle of Aleppo as rebels which two days ago still held some suburbs technically inside the city limits have now been pushed far to the west. Aleppo citizens, completely besieged by Islamists in 2013, for one celebrated:

In fact, the rebel’s number one sympathizer on Twitter, Julian Ropcke, aka Jihadi Julian, has done invaluable work in counting that since Erdogan first vowed to stop the Syrian army the latter has retaken 96 settlements from the rebels:

Nonetheless, Erdogan has by now poured 7,000 Turkish soldiers with 2,000 vehicles into rebel-held Idlib. That is a very considerable force. What he will do with that is anyone’s guess.

The danger is not so much that he’ll counter-attack the Syrian army trying to throw it back, as that would risk Russian wrath, but that he’ll try to occupy a part of the rebel enclave for Turkey as he has done in northern Syria.

Situation at February 14 day-end, just before Erdogan made his latest round of threats the next day

Situation halfway through today, February 17

Erdogan and Turkey are now the biggest obstacles standing before the Syrian state and army as rebels appear to be completely broken with low morale and quick to retreat.

February 17, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , | 2 Comments

US Successfully Tests Trident II Ballistic Missile Capable of Carrying Nuclear Warhead

Sputnik – February 17, 2020

The United States on Sunday successfully tested an unarmed life-extended Trident II (D5LE) ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, the US Navy said.

According to the statement, the missile was launched from the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Maine (SSBN-741) off the coast of San Diego, California.

“Today’s scheduled test validated performance expectations of the life-extended Trident II (D5LE) Strategic Weapon System (SWS) and gathered additional data on the SWS’ reliability, accuracy, and performance factors. This launch marks 178 successful missile launches of the Trident II (D5 &D5LE) strategic weapon system”, the statement said.

The Trident II strategic weapon system, originally designed with a life span to 2024, recently underwent a life extension that will keep it operational through the late 2040s, according to the US Navy.

Submarine-launched ballistic missiles Trident II comprise about 70 percent of the US nuclear deterrent, which also includes the US Air Force’s intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear-capable bombers.

February 17, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , | 1 Comment

Dresden Terror Bombing, Like Hiroshima, a Maniacal Warning to Moscow

By Finian Cunningham | Strategic Culture Foundation | February 17, 2020

This weekend 75 years ago, the German city of Dresden was razed to the ground by British and American aerial bombardment. At least 25,000 mainly civilians were destroyed in raid after raid by over 1,200 heavy bombers, indiscriminately dropping high explosives and incendiaries. It took seven years just to clear the rubble.

The destruction of Dresden, a world-famous cultural center of Baroque majesty, has been long dogged by controversy. Official British and American military accounts claim it was necessary to hasten the collapse of the Third Reich; with a reasoning that resonates with US claims for dropping the atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.

Critics say, however, that the mass bombing of Dresden was immaterial in the effort to defeat Nazi Germany. It was a wanton act of terror – a war crime – carried out by the British and Americans. Critics point out that most of the industrial and military targets on the outskirts of the beautiful city were largely left untouched by the bombing. British wartime leader Winston Churchill is even said to have expressed misgivings about the morality of this and other indiscriminate bombing of German civilian centers.

Ardent advocates of the terror-bombing campaign said it would exhaust German morale. A classic case of ends justifying means, no matter how vile the means.

There were also claims at the time that the damage to Nazi communication and transport lines would aid the advancing Soviet Red Army.

But there is good reason to believe that the rationale for the obliteration of Dresden was for an altogether more sinister reason. It wasn’t so much an act of terror aimed at Nazi Germany, but rather a show of maniacal power to the Soviet Union.

A British Royal Air Force memo on the Dresden operation noted that it would “show the Russians when they arrive what Bomber Command can do.” (See caption 17 in this linked photo essay.)

By mid-February 1945, the front lines of the Western and Eastern allied forces were such that the American and British ground troops had not yet entered Germany territory, while the Soviet Red Army had crossed the Oder River and were a mere 70 kilometers from Berlin, the seat of the Third Reich. Such was the keen advance of the Soviets that the Western allies were concerned that the Red Army might take all of German territory.

Rather than aiding Soviet forces from the mass bombing of Dresden, Leipzig and other cities in the German east, it seems plausible that, as the above British RAF memo indicates, the Western allies were intent on demonstrating a shockingly brutal, raw power to Moscow. Not just military power, but a will power to use any means necessary to defeat enemies.

There is a direct analogy here with the subsequent atomic bombing of Japan. At the Potsdam conference in July 1945 following the defeat of Nazi Germany and the carve-up of Berlin, giving the Western allies shared control of the German capital way beyond their final front lines, the American president Harry Truman relished the ability to drop a sinister hint to Josef Stalin about a newly acquired secret weapon – the A-bomb.

As with the earlier British and American bombing of Dresden and other German cities, there was arguably little military justification for dropping the atomic weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9. Like Dresden, the military significance of those cities was dubious. The death of 200,000 civilians from the atomic inferno was not a military necessity for defeating imperial Japan, as Truman’s top generals MacArthur and Eisenhower were advising him against.

So if the bombing of Hiroshima or Nagasaki was unnecessary from a military point of view to end the Pacific War, why was it done?

As with Dresden, the point was a monstrous display of terror by Western powers to let the Soviet Union know that nothing would be off-limits in the postwar geopolitical stand-off that was anticipated and which became the Cold War.

When the A-bombs were dropped on Japan, Stalin was said to have been frozen by reports of the awesome new destructive power. The Soviet Union was not to develop its A-bomb until 1949.

The terror unleashed at Hiroshima and Nagasaki seems to have had the intended effect of halting Soviet Red Army advances that were being made into the Korean Peninsula and onwards to Japan. The American troop lines were relatively remote by comparison with their Soviet counterparts, yet after the A-bombing the US was catapulted to take over both Asian-Pacific territories in the postwar period. Not unlike the precocious territorial gains that were acquired by the Western allies in defeated Nazi Germany.

Thus the moral controversies about the British and American bombing of German and Japanese cities goes way beyond arguments about the right or wrong of mass murder for the supposed purpose of ending wars. That moral hazard is difficult enough. But even more fiendish is a bigger picture; one in which the cold, calculated use of terror and genocide is not about ending war, but rather to simply exert geopolitical power against a perceived rival in the postwar era. Terror for terror sake, evil for evil sake.

A final note: it has become fashionable to falsify the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany by claiming that the Red Army became an occupying tyranny in eastern Europe after the war’s end. Suffice to say that if the Soviets committed even a fraction of the crimes that were actually carried out by the Americans and British from their aerial bombing of civilians in both Germany and Japan, one would never hear the end of deafening Western condemnations against Moscow to this day, and for decades to come.

February 17, 2020 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | 2 Comments

US openly paves way for INF-banned missiles to be placed in Europe & Asia – Lavrov

RT | February 17, 2020

Just out of a milestone nuclear missile accord, the US is about to deploy short- and intermediate-range missiles in Europe and Asia, prompting Moscow to engage France and other partners to preserve security on the continent.

“In order to agree on specific solutions, we need multilateral talks and multilateral consultations involving, of course, the United States, who destroyed the treaty,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday, referring to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

This pact saw Washington and Moscow eliminate entire classes of ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and missile launchers capable of carrying nukes back in the 1980s.

Now, they are actively creating the prerequisites for the deployment of these previously banned weapons in Europe, and indeed in Asia, they don’t hide it.

Japan, South Korea and some “Pacific islands” are the likeliest locations for these deployments, Lavrov noted.

Meanwhile, the minister, who unexpectedly met with his American counterpart Mike Pompeo at the Munich Security Conference, said he felt “certain shifts” in how the US approaches arms control now.

“We discussed a number of issues relating to the whole range of problems that are on the agenda of our strategic dialogue, including those that are within the competence of the five permanent members [of the UN Security Council], and those relating to arms control issues,” he revealed.

Lavrov and Pompeo have agreed “to continue pointed professional conversation on it.” But until US-Russia relations thaw, Moscow will reach out to other partners in Europe concerned about the fate of the INF.

“Of course, we will talk about this with the French,” the foreign minister added. France seems to be particularly responsive to Russia’s concerns. This month, President Emmanuel Macron insisted the Europeans cannot sit idle as they “could rapidly face a new race for conventional weapons, even nuclear weapons, on their own soil.”

February 17, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Hungarian PM Orban Attacks EU Economic Policies and George Soros

Sputnik – February 17, 2020

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has never been a fan of George Soros, the Hungarian-American billionaire and founder of the Open Society Foundations, often attacking the renowned philanthropist for allegedly meddling in Hungary’s internal affairs, as well as for supporting increased migration to Europe.

Viktor Orban, the Hungarian prime minister, has taken some shots at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Union’s leadership, and against his probably least favourite Hungary-born billionaire George Soros, during his annual state of the nation address.

During the speech, Orban asserted that the past decade has been “the most successful” for Hungary in the last century, but noted that his country was still threatened by so-called “sinister menaces” the European economy was facing. The prime minister thus praised Hungary’s decision to break away from IMF loans and not to succumb to demands for more austerity, which, he alleged, would have made Hungary dependent on Soros.

“If we’d followed their advice, then Hungary now would be lying in a hospital ward with IMF and Brussels debt tubes hanging from its every limb and the faucet of the debt would be in the hands of George Soros”, Orban said on Sunday, as quoted by AP.

The prime minister insisted that a slowdown in the EU’s growth had a strong influence on his country’s economy, as 85% of Hungary’s exports were meant for other countries on the European continent. However, he slammed the idea that Europe should simply be represented by Brussels alone.

“We are Europe and we do not need to meet the expectations of tired and disillusioned elites of Brussels. There were times when we believed that Europe is our future but now we know that we are the future of Europe”, Orban said as translated by Euronews.

Founder of the Open Society Foundations and a proponent of liberal activism and open borders George Soros, has often been criticised by Orban for allegedly interfering in Hungary’s internal politics. The Orban government has been carrying out a crusade against Soros-related organisations in the state since 2017, criticising the billionaire for promoting increased migration to the country and thus threatening Hungary’s security and national identity.

February 17, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , | 1 Comment

Back to Fukushima. Former residents weigh up returning to nuclear ghost town of Okuma

RT Documentary • December 12, 2019

In March 2011, an earthquake hit Japan, setting off a tsunami that caused an accident at the Daiichi nuclear power station in Fukushima prefecture. Radioactive contamination settled on the surrounding area, and the authorities decided to evacuate the population living within a 20km radius around the power station.

Watch full video here: https://rtd.rt.com/023wp

Eight years later, inhabitants of the town closest to the nuclear disaster, Okuma, were allowed to move back to some of its territory. RTD takes a bittersweet tour of the nuclear ghost town with former residents considering whether to return to their hometown, and meets those who have already moved into new homes built in a less-contaminated part of town. Torn between loyalty to their roots and the desire to build a future for themselves, the people of Fukushima now have an agonising choice to make.

February 17, 2020 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power | , | 2 Comments