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SouthFront is Censored under Cover of Pandemic

By Rick Sterling | Dissident Voice | June 8, 2020

Censorship of alternative media is becoming more widespread in the COVID19 era. This article documents the case of SouthFront.

Introducing SouthFront

Where do you find daily news, videos, analysis and maps about the conflict in Syria? Detailed reports about the conflicts in Libya, Yemen and Venezuela? News about the rise of ISIS in Mozambique? Original analysis of events in the US and Russia? SouthFront is the place.

SouthFront is unique and influential, reaching a global audience of hundreds of thousands. They have  opinion articles but their reports and videos are informational and factual. Their website says,

SouthFront focuses on issues of international relations, armed conflicts and crises…. We try to dig out the truth on issues which are barely covered by the states concerned and the mainstream media.

Censorship by Facebook and YouTube

A major disinformation and censorship drive against SouthFront was recently launched. On April 30 the SouthFront Facebook account with about 100,000 subscribers was deleted without warning or notice.

On May 1, SouthFront’s main YouTube account with over 150 thousand subscribers was terminated. The English language channel had 1,900 uploaded videos with 60 million views over the past 5 years.

While the SouthFront website continues as before, the above actions remove important distribution channels which SouthFront has painstakingly built up.

The censorship has been accompanied by a parallel disinformation campaign promoted by corporate, governmental and establishment “think tank” organizations. This is in the context where the US State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC) has a direct liaison with Silicon Valley companies and teams focused on “countering the propaganda” from Russia, China and Iran with a current budget of $60 million per year.

In a March 2020 hearing, Senator Chris Murphy (D – Conn) lobbied for increased funding and more censorship. He said, “It’s hard to chase one lie after another. You have to actually go after the source and expose the source as illegitimate or untrustworthy, is that right?” Lea Gabrielle, head of GEC, responded “That’s correct.”

When the Senator says “it’s hard to chase one lie after another,“ he is acknowledging that it’s often hard to show that it’s a lie. Even more so when it is not a lie. It is much easier for the authorities to simply say the source is untrustworthy- or better yet to eliminate them — as they have tried to do with SouthFront.

False Accusations by Facebook

The elimination of SouthFront’s Facebook account was based on a Facebook sponsored investigation titled “April 2020 Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior Report.” The 28 page report says:

We’re constantly working to find and stop coordinated campaigns that seek to manipulate public debate across our platforms…. We view influence operations as coordinated efforts to manipulate public debate for a strategic goal where fake accounts are central to the operation…. This month we removed eight networks of accounts, Pages and Groups….. Our investigation linked this activity to … two media organizations in Crimea – News Front and SouthFront. We found this network as part of our internal investigation into suspected coordinated inauthentic behavior.

First, SouthFront is not trying to “manipulate public debate”; they are providing news and information which is difficult, if not impossible, to find elsewhere. It seems to be the censors who are trying to manipulate debate by shutting out some voices.

Second, SouthFront does not have “fake accounts”; they have a public website plus standard social media outlets like Facebook and YouTube (until cancelled). Third, SouthFront has no connection to NewsFront nor operations in Crimea.

NewsFront and SouthFront are completely different organizations. They share the name “Front” but that is irrelevant. Does Facebook confuse the New York Times with Moscow Times? After all, they both have “Times” in their title.

Facebook has shut down SouthFront on the basis of misinformation and smears.

False Accusations by DFRLab

The  Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) was created by the Atlantic Council, a “non partisan organization that galvanizes US global leadership.” It is another organization which is quick to label alternative foreign policy voices as “Russian propaganda.” DFRLab claims to have “operationalized the study of disinformation by exposing falsehoods and fake news”. They reported the censorship of SouthFront with a report titled “Facebook removes Russian propaganda outlet in Ukraine” with subtitle “The social network took down assets connected to NewsFront and SouthFront, propaganda websites supportive of Russian security services.”  They reported that the two “demonstrated a close relationship by liking each other’s pages.” As anyone who uses Facebook is aware, it is common to “like” a wide variety of articles and publications. The suggestion that “liking” an article proves a close relationship is silly.

The DFRLab  report says NewsFront and SouthFront “disseminated pro-Kremlin propaganda in an array of languages, indicating they were attempting to reach a diverse, international audience beyond Russia.”

First, NewsFront and SouthFront are completely distinct and separate organizations. Second, is there anything unusual about a website trying to expand and reach different audiences? Don’t all publications or outlets do that? This is a tactic of the new censors: to portray normal behavior as sinister.

Another censorship tactic is to assert that it is impermissible to question the veracity of certain findings. Thus DFRLab report says NewsFront posted “outright disinformation” when it published a story that “denied the culpability of Russian-backed separatists’ involvement in the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines MH-17”. They suggest this proves it is Russian propaganda and false. However, the facts about the downing of MH-17 are widely disputed. For example. one of the foremost American investigative journalists, the late Robert Parry, came to the same conclusion that the MH-17 investigation was manipulated and the shoot-down was probably NOT as portrayed. Parry did many articles on this important event, confirming that it is not “Russian propaganda”.

The Atlantic Council is one of the most influential US “think tanks”. It appears they have created the DFRLab as a propaganda tool to disparage and silence the sources of alternative information and analysis.

Disinformation by European Council “Task Force”   

The goals and priorities of the European Union are set by the European Council. They are also increasingly active in suppressing alternative information and viewpoints.

In 2015 the European Council created an East StratCom Task Force to “address Russia’s ongoing disinformation campaigns”. Their major project is called EUvsDISINFO. They say, “Using data analysis and media monitoring services in 15 languages, EUvsDISINFO identifies, compiles, and exposes disinformation cases originating in pro-Kremlin media.”

This organization is part of the disinformation campaign against SouthFront. In April 2019 they published an analysis “SouthFront – Russia Hiding Being Russian.” The story falsely claims that SouthFront “attempts to hide the fact it is registered and managed in Russia.” The SouthFront team is international and includes Russians along with numerous other nationalities. Key spokespersons are the Bulgarian, Viktor Stoilov, and an American, Brian Kalman. They do not hide the fact that the website is registered in Russia or that PayPal donations go to an account in Russia. The website is hosted by a service in Holland. It is genuinely international.

EUvsDISINFO demonstrates the disinformation tactic of falsely claiming to have “exposed” something that is “hidden” when it is public information. There is nothing sinister about collaboration between different nationalities including Russia. EUvsDISINFO suggests there are sinister “pro-Kremlin networks.” In reality, SouthFront is a website run by a dedicated and underpaid staff and lots of volunteers. While the European Council gives millions of dollars to EUvsDISINFO, SouthFront operates on a tiny budget without government support from Russia or anywhere else.

False accusations by US Department of Defense

On April 9, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Laura Cooper, spoke at a press briefing. She identifies SouthFront by name and accuses them of “reporting that there actually was no pandemic and that some deaths in Italy might in fact have been from the common flu.”

The first accusation is because of the SouthFront article “Pandemic of Fear.” In contrast with the accusation, the article says, “The COVID-19 outbreak is an apparent threat which cannot be ignored.” The article also discusses the much less reported but widespread pandemic of fear.

The second false accusation is regarding the high death toll in Italy. SouthFront reported the findings of a report from the Italian Ministry of Health which suggested the previous mild winter and flu season had “led to an increase in the pool of those most vulnerable (the elderly and those with chronic illnesses) that can increase the impact of the epidemic COVID-19 on mortality and explain, at least in part, the increased lethality observed in our country.” This is very different than saying the deaths were caused by the common flu. In any case, the findings came directly from Italian health authorities not SouthFront.

In the same press conference, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense says she wishes to “reign in malign actors that are spreading misleading disruptive information”. The censors claim the higher ground but engage in misinformation and falsehoods as they seek to silence discussion and debate.


There is a coordinated effort to manipulate and restrict what the public sees and hears in both North America and Europe. Under the guise of “fact checking” and stopping “Russian propaganda,” the establishment has created private and government sponsored censors to distort and diminish questioning media. They label alternative media “Russian” or “pro Kremlin” even though many of the researchers and writers are from the West and have no connection or dependency on the Russian government.

SouthFront is an example of a media site doing important and original reporting and analysis. It is truly international with offices in several countries. The staff and volunteers include people from four continents. The censorship and vilification they are facing seems to be because they are providing information and analysis which contradicts the western mainstream narrative.

In recent developments, SouthFront is posting videos to a secondary YouTube channel called SouthFront TV. When that was also taken down on May 16, they challenged the ruling and won. The channel was restored with the acknowledgment “We have confirmed that your YouTube account is not in violation of our Terms of Service.”

SouthFront is still trying to have their main channel with 152K subscribers restored. Their Facebook account is still shut down and attempts to disparage their journalism continues. The censorship has escalated during the Covid-19 crisis.

Rick Sterling is an investigative journalist who has visited Syria several times since 2014. He lives in the SF Bay Area and can be reached at

June 8, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , , | Leave a comment

Big Tech Pandemic

By Leo Goldstein | Watts Up Wth That? | June 8, 2020

Patients in Wuhan, China, are being saved with high-dose vitamin C. In the U.S., you can get your Twitter or Facebook account deleted or your video scrubbed for even talking about it. – American Association of Physicians and Surgeons

The Statistics

Strikingly, the 10 countries with the highest COVID-19 mortality rates are large Western countries, including the US, UK, France, Spain, and Italy. The non-Western country with the highest mortality rate is Ecuador, ranked at #13. Ecuador only has 195 deaths/million, however, compared with the median of around 450 deaths/million in the “top 10”. No Asian countries make the top-20 list despite being close to the epicenter of the epidemic and having high population densities. No African country makes the list despite many having much traffic from China.

Table 1. The 20 countries with the highest COVID-19 mortalities (2020-06-03)

Country Cases/M Deaths/M Population
1 Belgium 5,065 822 11,585,802
2 Spain 6,139 580 46,753,443
3 UK 4,097 580 67,858,826
4 Italy 3,862 555 60,468,295
5 Sweden 4,042 450 10,094,432
6 France 2,319 443 65,262,729
7 Netherlands 2,728 349 17,132,042
8 Ireland 5,081 336 4,933,409
9 USA 5,693 327 330,854,064
10 Channel Islands 3,223 265 173,737
11 Switzerland 3,572 222 8,649,729
12 Canada 2,450 196 37,716,316
13 Ecuador 2,293 195 17,621,217
14 Luxembourg 6,431 176 625,142
15 Brazil 2,628 147 212,442,762
16 Peru 5,310 145 32,934,728
17 Portugal 3,261 142 10,198,850
18 Germany 2,198 104 83,763,806
19 Denmark 2,033 100 5,790,665
20 Iran 1,915 95 83,906,701

Worldometers, 06/03/2020, 9:30 am CT

*Eliminated from the comparison are countries with less than 100k population (San Marino, Sint Maarten, Montserrat, Monaco, Bermuda, Isle of Man, and Andorra).

Possible Explanations

The popular hypotheses, such as the use of anti-malarial drugs in some countries and anti-tuberculosis vaccination of children in others, do not explain these differences.

Chloroquine and similar drugs are not widely used for malaria prevention in India and other malaria-affected countries. Travelers do take anti-malarials for prophylaxis, but locals acquire some immunity from exposure to it in childhood. If they do contract malaria, they are treated with chloroquine or artemisinin combo for a few days. India uses less HCQ per million population than the US.

One observational hypothesis posits that full national anti-tuberculosis vaccination (BCG) correlates with lower COVID-19mortality. BCG is typically given to babies at birth, sometimes with boosters in late childhood. This hypothesis suggests that BCG provides some degree of long-term immunity to COVID-19. Even if there is correlation, however, it is not relevant here. The UK had full BCG from 1953–2005. Belgium had it from about 1953–1995 and France from 1950–2007. Ireland started mandatory BCG vaccination in the 1950s and still has it.

Other factors exist. Less developed countries might not detect and report cases and deaths from COVID-19 as completely as more developed countries. They also have lower ratios of older people and have low urbanization.

Amplifying Factors

On the other hand, population density in the cities of non-Western countries is typically higher than in Western ones. Mumbai has 32 thousand persons per km2, while New York City has just 10,000 persons per km2. People in non-Western countries also tend to have less physical distance between them. There are more persons per area at work and home, and multiple generations often live together in the same households. Even in developed Russia and Ukraine, the typical physical distance between persons is about three times less than in the US, which should translate to a much higher transmission speed, and exponentially higher rates of cases and deaths.

Many non-Western countries also have low hygienic standards. Many suffer from bad nutrition, cold weather, lack of UVB sunlight, and other immunity-compromising factors. Less developed countries also have much lower capacities to hospitalize and treat those who are severely ill.

Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

The top dozen Western countries share another distinguishing factor: information flow dominated by Google, Facebook, Twitter, and their accomplices (here, Masters of the Universe or “MOTUs”). The media are downstream of them, depending on information, clicks, and even cash handouts from them. These companies collaborated with the WHO, spread panic (like Google’s SOS Alert), misled government health agencies and the public about coronavirus mortality (e.g., calling COVID-19 a pandemic was wrong). They have been removing helpful medical advice and even opinions simply because they were not endorsed by the WHO or confused government agencies. Notice that this debate ban prevents scientists and clinicians from communicating helpful information to government agencies, and even communicating among themselves. Many governments censor information, such as the Soviet Union. With all the inferiority of such a model, the Soviet government developed and possessed all the anti-epidemic expertise and capacities it wanted. In the US, most expertise and capacity in this and other fields is with its citizens, from whom the government can receive help and advice when needed. Citizens do provide such help and advice, but the MOTU use their physical control of the communications channels to block and remove information helpful to fight the epidemic. For example, Google blocked access to the scientific paper An Effective Treatment for Coronavirus (COVID-19) by James Todaro and Gregory Rigano, which made a case for CQ and HCQ on March 13–15.

Effects of COVID-19 Misinformation in the US

In the US, most COVID-19 deaths happened in the New York cluster. NYC also spread COVID-19 nationally and internationally. These are some main mistakes made by NYC in handling the epidemic:

  • It blocked early HCQ treatment of COVID-19 victims.
  • It failed to recommend and, where relevant, implement nutritional and environmental mitigation measures to slow the epidemic.
  • It allowed COVID-19 patients to mix with other patients and unprotected healthcare personnel in hospitals.
  • It sent young COVID-19 patients to nursing homes.

None of these mistakes was caused by material factors or a lack of knowledge in the public domain. None of these are obvious only in hindsight. All were caused by incorrect assumptions about COVID-19 and/or by panic, both of which were spread by the MOTUs (General incompetence and the politics of NYC have just aggravated these mistakes, I hope).

The resistance to recommending vitamin C, which was caused by misinformation spread by the MOTU directly and through their proxy “fact-checkers,” is an example of how much damage they inflicted.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C has always been recommended as safe and helpful for many health conditions, including the prevention and treatment of respiratory infections. An abundance of evidence and studies supports the use of vitamin C to prevent and alleviate respiratory diseases.

Despite this, in February, the WHO published a Q&A on COVID-19 advising against taking vitamin C, even comparing taking vitamin C to smoking:

“The following measures ARE NOT specifically recommended as 2019-nCoV remedies as they are not effective to protect yourself and can be even harmful:
* Taking vitamin C
* Smoking
* Drinking tradition herbal teas
* Wearing multiple masks to maximize protection
* Taking self-medication such as antibiotics

With all the incompetence and power hunger of the WHO, this is bad copywriting rather than bad judgment. An ordinary person can easily recognize that. However, the MOTU “fact-checkers” interpreted it in the worst conceivable way.

Apparently, it started in the article “These are false cures and fake preventative measures against coronavirus. Help fact-checkers spread the word” (February 13) published by the Poynter Institute (the entity that certifies the fact-checkers used by Google, Facebook, and Microsoft):

Aos Fatos reported that the World Health Organization says on its website that taking vitamin C is not recommended as a way to prevent coronavirus. It is actually dangerous, just like smoking and taking antibiotics without a prescription.

The linked Aos Fatos article did not say that. The Poynter Institute omitted the “not specifically recommended” clause. “Fact-checkers” are in the clickbait business, too. This “advice” went beyond Google and Facebook: the New York Times (NYT) article “Coronavirus Myths” (March 17) said:

You might be tempted to bulk order vitamin C or other supposedly immune-boosting supplements, but their effectiveness is a long-standing fallacy. Even in the cases of colds or flus, vitamin C hasn’t shown a consistent benefit.

Unlike Google, the NYT is supposed to have human editors. Where were they? Its other article with the strange title “Supplements for Coronavirus Probably Won’t Help, and May Harm” (March 23) called vitamin C “a purported immune booster.”USA Today was even worse: “We rate the claim that vitamin C can help cure or prevent the novel coronavirus FALSE because it is not supported by our research”—as if it conducted research.

It seems that Google and Facebook forgot that these fact-checkers were intended as proxies to justify their politically motivated editorializing by pretending it was third-party information. They started using them as authoritative sources. By May 20, it was easier to find “stabilized oxygen” than vitamin C in Google searches including the word COVID-19.

The MOTU financially benefited from their misdeeds. More people were forced to use Facebook, Twitter, Google Docs, YouTube, and Microsoft Skype instead of meeting face-to-face.

Facebook and Twitter Examples

The MOTU have been collaborating and colluding with the WHO to misinform the public and government in the US and other countries since early February. The NYT article “W.H.O. Fights a Pandemic Besides Coronavirus: an ‘Infodemic’” (Feb 6) wrote

Google launched what it calls an “SOS Alert,” which directs people who search for “coronavirus” to news and other information from the W.H.O., including to the organization’s Twitter account . . .

The health agency has worked especially closely with Facebook. The company has used human fact-checkers to flag misinformation, which can come to their attention through computer programs that identify suspicious keywords and trends. Such posts can then be moved down in news feeds, or, in rare cases, removed altogether.

These are some results of this close work. “Coronavirus: World leaders’ posts deleted over fake news” (BBC, 2020-03-31),

Facebook and Twitter have deleted posts from world leaders for spreading misinformation about the coronavirus. Facebook deleted a video from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro that claimed hydroxychloroquine was totally effective in treating the virus.

Brazil is the sixth-largest country of the world by population. By that time, the use of CQ or HCQ for COVID-19 had been endorsed to some degree by the governments of China, India, and the US. Did Facebook and Twitter executives think they knew better?

Facebook: Combatting COVID-19 Misinformation

We regularly update the claims that we remove based on guidance from the WHO and other health authorities.

Once a post is rated false by a fact-checker, we reduce its distribution so fewer people see it, and we show strong warning labels and notifications to people who still come across it, try to share it or already have.

Facebook: An Update on Our Work

Informing People Who Interacted With Harmful COVID-19 Claims

We’re going to start showing messages in News Feed to people who have liked, reacted or commented on harmful misinformation about COVID-19 that we have since removed. These messages will connect people to COVID-19 myths debunked by the WHO …

Twitter: An update on our continuity strategy during COVID-19

Broadening our definition of harm to address content that goes directly against guidance from authoritative sources of global and local public health information. . . . [W]e will require people to remove tweets that include:

* Denial of global or local health authority recommendations to decrease someone’s likelihood of exposure to COVID-19 . . .

* Description of alleged cures for COVID-19, which are not immediately harmful but are known to be ineffective . . .

* Denial of established scientific facts . . .

* [The list is going on and on]

It is incredible: denial of recommendations … global health authority … alleged cures … denial of established scientific facts. “Require people to remove tweets” means temporary disabling their accounts until they remove the tweets that Twitter dislikes.

The global conversation about COVID-19 and ongoing product improvements are driving up total monetizable DAU (mDAU), with quarter-to-date average total mDAU reaching approximately 164 million, up 23% from 134 million in Q1 2019 . . .

… manufacturing delays in China have compromised the supply chain, resulting in delays in deliveries to our data centers.

Have they de-platformed critics of the Chinese government to avoid “manufacturing delays” or something else?

Most people would think that if Google, Facebook, or Twitter deleted information related to treatment or prevention of the pandemic, they were 100% sure it was false and harmful. Few would believe that they did that on a whim or based on the opinion of entities like Snopes. And they would be branded “conspiracy theorists.”


Other Possible Factors

Anti-tuberculosis vaccines and their administration schedules vary by country, and some countries might have COVID-19 protective effects from them.

Another hypothesis is put forward in the following papers:

“Have the malaria eradication measures been behind the COVID-19 pandemic?” Elnady Hassan M., Sohag Medical Journal, opinion article

“Parasites and their protection against COVID-19—Ecology or Immunology?” Ssebambulidde et al., preprint:

One plausible hypothesis for the comparatively low COVID-19 cases/deaths in parasite-endemic areas is immunomodulation induced by parasites.

I consider these hypotheses too exotic to discuss here and just mention them. Many confounding factors remain when comparison among countries is done.


  • Another commonality among the highest-mortality countries is climate alarmism taking over the scientific community.
  • The “fact-checkers” seem to be the original sources of some of the worst hoaxes on the Internet.
  • Yes, the MOTUs used artificial intelligence to misinform the public and governments about COVID-19.
  • Besides the direct effects of bans, removals, and the deplatforming of information and speakers who knew more about COVID-19 than the WHO, these actions had chilling effects on discussions related to COVID-19.
  • Coughing into one’s elbow is outright harmful advice because it makes the sleeve a virus-spreader.

June 8, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Full Spectrum Dominance, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , , | 1 Comment

Limit Police Power to Targeting Real Criminals

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | June 8, 2020

Given the history of brutality by the Minneapolis police department, especially against blacks, with the killing of George Floyd being the most recent example, the Minneapolis city council has signaled its intent to abolish its police department. The mayor of the city, Jacob Frey, opposes the idea, instead favoring police “reform,” an idea that has been tried repeatedly in the past, with dismal results.

So, which is better — abolish or reform?

Actually, there is a third alternative, one that focuses on a critically important question: What is the role of government in a free society?

Why do we need government in the first place? One reason is to protect us from people who initiate force or fraud against others. In every society, there are going to be murderers, rapists, burglars, robbers, thieves, and others who violate the rights of peaceful people. One purpose of government is to target people who commit such acts and arrest, prosecute, convict, and punish them.

That’s what the police are supposed to do — protect us from the bad guys. If someone has trespassed into your house in the middle of the night, you would like the police to respond within a few minutes after calling 911.

The big problem, however, is that the police have been charged with doing much more than targeting violent people. They have also been charged with targeting non-violent people, which consumes a lot of their time, attention, energy, and resources, which then interferes with their ability to protect us from the violent people.

The drug war is the premier example.

We can concede for argument’s sake that drugs are harmful, destructive, and dangerous. But the fact remains that when people possess, ingest, or distribute drugs, they are not violating anyone else’s rights. Smoking dope, snorting cocaine, drinking liquor, or smoking cigarettes are not the same as murdering, raping, or robbing other people.

One of the big problems with the drug war is that it attracts racial bigots to the DEA and police departments. Why is that? Because this is one area where bigots can legally exercise their bigotry to their heart’s content and even be praised, thanked, and glorified for it.

That’s not to say, of course, that everyone in the DEA and in police departments is racially bigoted. We know that that’s not true. But it is to say that there are some racial bigots in the DEA and in police departments because the drug war gives them the legal latitude to target blacks with harassment, abuse, humiliation, and even frame-ups. Moreover, when the bigoted ones use the drug war to exercise their bigotry, oftentimes the rest of the cops come to their defense out of a warped sense of police loyalty. If drugs were legal, cops would no longer be in the drug-enforcement business, which would mean that the DEA and police departments would no longer serve as magnets for racial bigots.

The fact is that government has no business targeting people who are engaged in purely peaceful (and non-fraudulent) behavior. That includes not just the possession, use, and distribution of drugs. It includes all crimes that are known as “vice,” such as prostitution and gambling.

So, before we abolish the police, which would be a day of celebration for murderers, rapists, burglars, and robbers, let’s instead limit the power of the police to target only people who commit acts of violence against others. Let’s get the police out of the business of drug enforcement and enforcement of other non-violent crimes by legalizing drugs — all of them — along with prostitution, gambling, adultery, coveting, fornication, and other peaceful or consensual acts that some people might condemn on moral or health grounds but which do not involve the initiation of force or fraud against others.

In other words, let’s keep the police but limit their power to do what government is supposed to do: protect us from those who initiate force or fraud against others, so that the rest of us can be free to pursue happiness, each in our own way.

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education.

June 8, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties | | 1 Comment

New Zealand beats coronavirus. Lessons for India [and others]

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | June 8, 2020

It is seventeen long days since a Covid-19 case has been reported in New Zealand. Announcing this in Wellington today, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand has halted the spread of the coronavirus after the last known infected person in the country recovered. New Zealand has no more active Covid-19 cases as of today!

Ardern said that the “elimination is not a point in time, it is a sustained effort.” She has every reason to feel proud of her achievement. But, with characteristic modesty, she also added a caveat: “We almost certainly will see cases here again, and I do want to say again, we will almost certainly see cases here again, and that is not a sign that we have failed, it is a reality of this virus. But if and when that occurs we have to make sure and we are, that we are prepared.”

No doubt, it is a great day for New Zealand. Ardern admitted she had done a “little dance” when she was told there were no more active COVID-19 cases in New Zealand, surprising her two-year-old daughter, Neve. “She was caught a little by surprise and she joined it having absolutely no idea why I was dancing around the lounge,” the prime minister said.

New Zealand with a population of 5 million contained the pandemic to just 1500 cases. Fatalities added up to 22 lives. After two weeks of no new active COVID-19 cases, the country has moved to lift almost all restrictions that were in place as a result of the pandemic. Yesterday, all of New Zealand transitioned to level one, which is the lowest alert on the four-tier system that the government had drawn up.

Under the new rules, borders remain closed but social distancing and public gatherings are unrestricted. How did New Zealand reach this point?

Obviously, the country consists of remote islands and it could close itself off. But that is only a very small part of the story. From what the country’s experts have spoken — especially, Michael Baker, who is part of the advisory team for the government and professor of public health at the University of Otago in Wellington — the lessons that New Zealand learnt could, in fact, have been repeatable for India, and, indeed, have been repeated in some other countries of the world.

It was a little over there months ago that New Zealand got its first Covid-19 case. Fundamentally, New Zealand’s success lies in having assessed the risk of the impending epidemic in a decisive way. New Zealand didn’t treat the pandemic as an influenza but instead treated it like a SAARS epidemic that could be contained and eliminated. Accordingly, all the planning and action has been on that path once it came to that basic conclusion.

Such an assessment also explains the success of many Asian countries. On the contrary, European countries were for understandable reasons complacent. The western attitude can only be described as one of ‘complacent exceptionalism’ — as if the coronavirus would behave differently in the western world, as compared to Asia.

New Zealand, on the other hand, decided to look at the success of the Asian countries in containing Covid-19, especially the whole Chinese approach which focused on acting very swiftly and decisively. In practice, this meant that while the western countries began increasing the controls in direction proportion to the rise of the virus, New Zealand did just the opposite by throwing everything at the pandemic, by going for a very intense lockdown very early on.

As a result, it was becoming clear after about six weeks into the lockdown that the virus was disappearing. Nonetheless, there was no let-up. New Zealand came out of the lockdown very cautiously using modelling and simultaneously strengthening the contact tracing and by doing a huge amount of tracing.

Initially, Zealand was very constrained; it had very little testing capacity. One of the reasons why New Zealand kept the lockdown going was because it needed the time to build up the testing capacity and contact tracing capacity.

Of course, from early on, New Zealand began managing its borders very intensely. But then, it must be qualified that the borders were never really fully closed either, but there were very few people coming across the border anyway as they knew they all had to mandatorily go through a 14-day quarantine.

New Zealand is entering a new world now — the ‘post-elimination world’. There are a growing number of countries already now in this elimination stage, which shut the borders early and no longer have any cases. Unfortunately, India is not one of them. New Zealand plans to gradually open up to the rest of the world.

Quite obviously, India seriously erred on many counts. First and foremost, the lockdown should have been announced much earlier even as the first Covid-19 case appeared. Instead, we announced the lockdown only after President Trump began comprehending that Covid-19 was much more than a common flu.

Again, Kerala’s success story bears out that the lessons learnt at the time of the SARS epidemic are quite relevant. But, unfortunately, the rest of India and the central government were not convinced of it.

As India comes out of the lockdown, it emerges that there have been no tangible gains. The curve was not only not flattened but was rising still and once the restrictions were eased, the spike began accelerating. Arguably, the lockdown was eased when the curve was distinctly rising. It made no sense.

Clearly, the healthcare system is already overburdened and patients are being turned away from hospitals — and private hospitals have become blood suckers fleecing hapless patients, while the government stands by mutely watching. Meanwhile, we are still weeks away from the epidemic’s high noon. In retrospect, what purpose the lockdown served remains a riddle, wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.

Again, we followed Trump’s footfalls in deciding to ease our way out of the lockdown. Trump hasn’t said so, but he seems to believe in ‘herd immunity’. In America, this may be alright but in Indian conditions, this means that hundreds of millions of people must first contract Covid-19 before the virus begins its retreat.

We could instead have chosen the path adopted by other Asian countries such as New Zealand and Vietnam, which put primacy on saving human lives, instead of blindly aping the West and its ‘complacent exceptionalism’. The real tragedy is that we had a wealth of experience in dealing with the SARS virus but we failed to take advantage of it.

By the way, despite such brilliant success, Ardern told reporters that “our borders remain our first line of defence as we aim not to import the virus.” She said frankly she has no timeframe for when she might lift those international travel restrictions. This is while India is raring to resume international flights even before the pandemic has peaked. What is the method in this madness, no one knows.

June 8, 2020 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

The Victims of MH17 Deserve More than the Shoddy Lies Perpetrated by Politicians and Media

By James O’Neill | Dissident Voice | June 7, 2020

The ABCs Insider program broadcast each Sunday morning is one of the ABCs most watched and most important programs. The three guests are drawn from the country’s mainstream media outlets. This is perhaps itself a limitation considering the broad range and frequently high standards of much political analysis in the country are non-mainstream outlets. The invited person subjected to questioning by the show’s host is almost invariably a politician drawn from either the Liberal or Labor parties.

One would be unwise to expect much more than a partisan view from the weekly political guest. It is, however, not unreasonable to think that the members of the panel might be expected to offer a factual analysis, albeit tempered by the political stance of their employee newspapers.

On the program broadcast on 7 June 2020 both the political guest, Labor deputy leader Richard Miles, and one of the panelists, the Sydney Morning Herald’s David Crowe offered an opinion that was stunning in its disregard for the body of information that is now available on the topic of the comment.

That topic was the shooting down of Malaysian airlines MH17 in July 2015 with the loss of life of 298 passengers and crew. The Dutch lost the largest proportion of the passengers, followed by Australia with 38 citizens and residents, then Malaysia and a smattering of citizens from a number of other countries.

An inquiry team was immediately established led by the Dutch, with other representatives coming from Australia, Belgium and Ukraine. There were three surprises in this contingent. The Dutch and Australians were not unexpected as having lost a significant number of their citizens. The inclusion of Belgium was puzzling and perhaps, in the light of subsequent events, only explicable in their role as the host of the NATO military alliance.

The second surprise was the inclusion of Ukraine. Although the tragedy occurred over Ukrainian territory it was clearly not an accident but the result of unfriendly criminal activity by a party or parties then unknown. Ukraine was at the very least a possible culprit.

The third surprise was the exclusion of Malaysia which as the owner and operator of the flight would normally be an automatic inclusion in any inquiry. Their exclusion was unexplained at the time. It was only later that it emerged that the four investigating countries had reached an agreement between themselves, the details of which have never been fully disclosed.

What is known however, is that part of the agreement provided that no statement on the investigation would be released without the unanimous agreement of all four members. To describe this as astonishing would be an understatement. It was one of the early clues that the investigation would not be an impartial investigation, but would in effect follow a political agenda. This has indeed proven to be the case.

What was also unknown at the time, but revealed relatively recently by the Malaysians, was that they had sent a team to the Ukraine immediately. Thanks to the assistance of Ukrainian rebels then (and now) engaged in a bitter war with the Kiev government, the plane’s black boxes had been retrieved. The rebels handed those over to the Malaysians who returned to Malaysia where they were examined before being in turn given to the British for further analysis.

It was with this information that the Malaysians then negotiated their entry into the inquiry team in late 2015. It was one of the features of this case that the Malaysian viewpoint has been almost entirely absent from the Dutch and Australian reporting of the case.

It did not take long for the Dutch, Australians and Ukrainians to blame Russia for the tragedy despite the fact, then and now, of anyone being able to offer even a remotely plausible reason for Russia to have shot down the civilian airliner of a friendly country. The improbability was compounded by the fact that the tragedy occurred over Ukrainian territory.

The implausibility of this version of events was enhanced when a British organisation known as Bellingcat published what they claimed to be pictures of a Russian missile firing weapon system returning to Russia from the area where the alleged missile had been fired from.

It is one of the telling features of this case that later evidence was disclosed, but not reported in the Australian media, that there were no Russian weapons capable of firing a BUK missile (the alleged weapon used) in the vicinity of the area it would have to be in to have fired the allegedly fatal missile. Neither for that matter was there any Ukrainian BUK missile facility within range, although the Ukrainians certainly possessed such missiles, a left over from the days when it was a part of the old Soviet Union and used Russian supplied weapons.

The other relevant point about the shoot down was the claim by then United States secretary of state John Kerry that United States satellites overhead at the time (observing what was a war zone) had seen exactly what had happened. There is no reason to doubt Mr Kerry’s claim. It is also likely that the Russians had overhead satellites, for exactly the same reason.

The important point, however, is that the United States has never produced that evidence to the Dutch led inquiry or anybody else. Given that such photos would in all probability be conclusive of the argument, their nonproduction leads to an irresistible inference. They do not support the Dutch-Ukrainian version. It is a safe assumption that if they did, we would have been inundated with those pictures, ad nauseam, ever since.

What the Russians and the Ukrainian rebels have said all along was that the plane was brought down by the actions of two Ukrainian jet fighters observed by independent eye witnesses at the time. The presence of multiple bullet holes in the plane’s recovered fuselage further confirms this interpretation of how MH17 came to its tragic end.

There is no obvious reason as to why the Ukrainians would shoot down a civilian airliner. The first of the three most likely possibilities are that it was a genuine accident, but if that was the case why not admit it, plead accident and pay appropriate compensation.

The second possibility is that it was a case of mistaken identity. It is known that a plane carrying Russia’s President Putin was in the general vicinity at that time, returning from an official trip to South America. Putin’s official plane carries very similar markings to Malaysian airlines.

The third possibility, which frankly is rather horrible to contemplate, is that it was a deliberate attempt to frame Russia, the major supporter of the Ukrainian rebel groups (overwhelmingly Russian speaking). It should not be forgotten also that the former Russian territory of Crimea (gifted to Ukraine by Khrushchev in Soviet days) had voted overwhelmingly to return to Russia.  This had outraged the Ukrainian government who had vowed to retake Crimea by force. The United States also had plans to take over the Russian naval base on Crimea, thereby depriving Russia of a vital warm water port.

All of these facts make the rather ludicrous threat by then Australian prime minister Abbott of military action in support of Ukraine’s attempt to force Crimea back within its fold all the more ridiculous. More importantly, it makes the allegations of Messrs Marles and Crowe completely unsupportable. Australian government policy towards Ukraine, then as now, completely ignores the fact that it is a neo-fascist regime that came to power by violently overthrowing the legitimate Ukrainian government.

Both men ought to have known better. Indeed, it is probable both do know better but because Australia is a loyal supporter of the West’s official anti-Russian line, have gone along with helping perpetrate a manifest fiction, unsupported by the five years of evidence that have been accumulated in the interim. The Moscow based Australian journalist John Helmer is one of the very few to have consistently followed this Dutch led travesty and disclosed the evidence as it has emerged.

That the Australian mainstream media have chosen to ignore that evidence, to actively conceal the investigative role played by Australian forces in the early stages, and to perpetuate a gross falsehood does neither Mr Marles nor Mr Crowe or any organisation they represent any credit at all.

The families of the victims of this tragedy do not need the perpetuation of shoddy lies for geopolitical purposes. Messrs Marles and Crowe do neither themselves, their country, nor the organisations they represent any credit by helping to perpetuate a shameful lie.

James O’Neill is a Barrister at Law and geopolitical analyst. He can be contacted at

June 8, 2020 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism | , , | 2 Comments

AfD Lawmaker: Anti-Nord Stream 2 Sanctions Are Form of Economic Imperialism by US Fracking Industry

Sputnik – 08.06.2020

Washington’s desire to levy further sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline constitutes a form of economic imperialism designed to support the US fracking industry, Heiko Hessenkemper, a member of the Bundestag Committee on Economic Affairs and Energy from the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, said.

“So the political pressure is understandable, because America, the American economy, and the American financial industry, are up to their necks in the fracking industry … They use illegal transnational sanctions to protect their interests. In summary, this is nothing more than economic imperialism,” Hessenkemper stated.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline will be vital to ensure Europe’s energy security, the lawmaker said, citing the Dutch government’s decision to wind down the country’s production of natural gas and Germany’s plans to close down many coal and nuclear power plants.

Consequently, Washington’s decision to levy sanctions on the pipeline is both illegal and threatens the energy security of the entire European continent, Hessenkemper added.

“The American argument that Europe is too dependent on Russia and is open to blackmail is, of course, nonsensical because there are enough liquefied gas terminals in Europe that could be refilled from global sources in the event of a supply shortfall. From all these points of view, America’s sanctions are not only illegal, but they are also not in Europe’s interest,” the lawmaker stated.

According to Hessenkemper, the US fracking industry, which is capital-intensive and has high production costs, has been severely impacted by the global fall in oil and gas demand during the ongoing coronavirus disease outbreak. These factors have forced Washington to look abroad and impose sanctions on the fracking industry’s competitors, the lawmaker stated.

US senators on Thursday introduced a bill that would extend the scope of sanctions levied against Nord Stream 2 to include all companies that provide certification, insurance, and port facilities for pipe-laying vessels that are working on the project.

Swiss pipelaying firm Allseas quit the project in December as a result of US sanctions.

The German government has opposed all extraterritorial sanctions imposed by Washington on the pipeline.

See also:

Berlin May Retaliate to Sanctions Against Nord Stream 2 With Duties on US Gas, Senior Lawmaker Warns

June 8, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , | Leave a comment

‘Go on, don’t be shy, show us!’: Beijing taunts US senator who has ‘proof’ that China’s sabotaging Covid-19 vaccine effort

RT | June 8, 2020

A Florida Senator spectacularly claimed he’s got intelligence proving China is obstructing the West’s search for a Covid-19 cure – He shouldn’t be shy to let the world see the “evidence,” Beijing’s diplomats swiftly quipped.

Rick Scott, who sits on the Senate’s Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees, pulled no punches when talking China on the BBC on Sunday. Apart from being hostile to the US and democracy, Beijing communists are hindering the development of a coronavirus vaccine, and are trying “to sabotage us or slow it down,” Scott alleged.

He said there’s “evidence” substantiating the bombshell claim but repeatedly refused to disclose it, citing vague considerations regarding secrecy – much to the disappointment of anchor Andrew Marr.

The Senator’s media blitz predictably caught Beijing’s eye the following day. Since the BBC host failed to extract the proof, Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the Chinese foreign ministry, challenged Scott into lifting the shroud of mystery.

“Since this lawmaker said he has evidence that China is trying to sabotage Western countries in their vaccine development, then please let him present the evidence. There’s no need to be shy.”

In response to Scott’s assertion that Beijing doesn’t want the West to develop the vaccine first, Hua stated during a regular press briefing that the search for a Covid cure isn’t a competition at all.

Previously, China’s Science and Technology Minister Wang Zhigang gave reassurances that his country would make such a vaccine a “global public good” when it finally arrives.

The claim that China is hindering the anti-Covid research effort may well be riding a wave of another theory, one that alleges that coronavirus is man-made and was released from a virology lab in Wuhan, the Chinese city that was the epicenter of the epidemic.

Aggressively pushed by top US officials, the theory was consistently denounced by Beijing which called it an attempt to switch attention from Washington’s handling of its epidemic at home. Certain American allies also doubted the Covid-19 was a human creation, although some pundits suggested a ‘leak’ from the lab could have been accidental.

June 8, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 2 Comments

US Unable to Provide Extra Information on Missile Fired at Boeing MH17, Dutch Judge Says

Sputnik – 08.06.2020

US authorities have informed the Netherlands of being unable to provide additional information about a missile fired at the Malaysian Airlines Boeing, МН17, apart from a document sent in 2014, presiding judge Hendrik Steenhuis has stated at the resumed hearings in the MH17 case.

“The court asked whether classified satellite images of the missile launch, presented to Dutch special services, could be attached to the case … The prosecution said that the request had been sent to the US back in 2014, and in response a memorandum was sent. The Dutch prosecutor in charge of the fight against terrorism was able to check the accuracy of the memorandum … The prosecutor came to the conclusion that the memorandum was supported by other sources he had consultations with. He requested the conclusions be attached to the case. The US authorities said they could not provide any additional information regarding the missile launch in addition to the memorandum”, Steenhuis said.

Hearings in the 2014 MH17 crash case resumed on 8 June at the Schiphol Judicial Complex not far from Amsterdam. Earlier matters in the case of the MH17 crash in eastern Ukraine were heard in hearings on 9-10 March.

Russian nationals Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinsky, and Oleg Pulatov, as well as Ukrainian national Leonid Kharchenko, are defendants in the case.

Russia has repeatedly demanded to provide data from Ukrainian radars and US satellites as part of an investigation into the MH17 crash.

MH17 Crash Case Details

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 crashed on 17 July 2014, in eastern Ukraine while en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, killing all 298 people aboard. Most of the deceased were Dutch citizens. Kiev and the self-proclaimed republics in Ukraine’s east have exchanged blame for the downing of the plane.

The accident is being investigated by Dutch prosecutors and the JIT, which claim that the plane was hit by a Buk missile that belonged to the Russian armed forces. Moscow has repeatedly denied involvement in the incident and has called the JIT investigation biased, as Russia’s evidence showing that the plane had been shot down by a Ukrainian Buk missile has been ignored by investigators.

Russian President Vladimir Putin noted that the country has not been allowed to investigate the crash of the plane in eastern Ukraine, and Moscow can only accept the results of the investigation if it can fully participate in the probe. All missiles and the engine that were showed by the Dutch Commission for the investigation into the crash of the MH17, were disposed of after 2011, according to the Russian Defence Ministry.

June 8, 2020 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism | , | 1 Comment

Iranian scientist jailed in US returns home

By Ghanbar Naderi – Press TV – June 8, 2020

Iranian scientist Majid Taheri, who was imprisoned in the US for more than 16 months, finally returned home on Monday. Upon arrival, Taheri was received by his family as well as high-ranking Iranian officials at the Imam Khomeini International Airport.

The Iranian national who was a longtime resident of the US state of Florida, spent 16 months in prison for allegedly violating US sanctions on Iran. Speaking to Press TV, he denied all allegations.

The development came days after another Iranian scientist Sirous Asgari, a professor of material sciences at Sharif University of Technology, also returned home.

He spent about three years in US detention on trumped-up charges of fraud and theft of information relating to his work with a university in Ohio. The case however, was dismissed by a US district judge and he managed to return to his country.

Iran has called on Washington to release all other Iranian citizens taken hostage. The country says the US must make up for the damages caused by detaining Iranian scientists.

June 8, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 2 Comments