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Pentagon searching for ‘vetted Official Twitter Partner’ to help it influence platform’s users

RT | December 11, 2020

The US Defense Department is looking to ramp up its real-time surveillance of social media and specifically seeking a contractor already trusted by Twitter to model and influence shifting public sentiment in real time.

The Pentagon is seeking a “small business” software developer that not only enjoys privileged status as a “vetted Official Twitter Partner” but is also capable of picking through the “entire Twitter historical archive for analysis” and monitoring conversations in more than 150 languages, according to a Thursday posting by the department’s Washington Headquarters Services.

The ideal Pentagon partner will be able to “ingest near-real-time social media feeds from Twitter and other platforms” while searching the data ‘firehose’ for multipart search terms, ideally in “most major languages” simultaneously. The program would have to be able to present the results of its real-time analysis “graphically in various formats,” including on “geospatial maps and over time horizons.”

From there, the Pentagon’s corporate colleague would be able to “compute and highlight trend analysis” as well as “sentiment analysis … based on shifting online attitudes.” Essentially, the Defense Department wants a computer program that can accurately ascertain the thoughts and emotions of the social media hive-mind – including tracking “public reactions and significant events as they spike” on any given platform – and alter them if the need arises.

The candidate would also have to be able to “distinguish between real authors and online bots which may be pushing disinformation” – though it’s not clear if the company has to be able to tell the Pentagon’s own bot army apart from garden-variety AI-powered accounts.

All of this information would be packaged into Excel spreadsheets and prioritized for government agencies in terms of what warrants “immediate attention” and what simply forms part of the background of current events.

The Pentagon already deploys multiple sophisticated tools to monitor and influence Twitter and other social media platforms. It was one of the earliest adopters of “sock puppet” software allowing a single individual to control numerous fake social media accounts, and has been working with software companies to measure and analyze “group dynamics” – supposedly to predict “cyber terrorism events” – on social platforms since at least 2012.

In August, the Pentagon inked a $12.2 million contract with Dataminr to perform services similar to those listed in Thursday’s posting. The collaboration was expected to last only three months, however, and was supposed to conclude by mid-November.

While the US military has tracked and infiltrated dissident groups for decades in ‘real life,’ its capabilities in both impersonating and monitoring human conversation online have exploded over the past decade as more of what is considered ‘war’ takes place in the minds of targeted populations. Using private contractors allows the government – technically bound by the First and Fourth Amendments forbidding it from impinging on Americans’ free speech or right of protection from unreasonable search and seizure – to ignore constitutional concerns, as it’s technically an independent corporation violating targets’ rights.

December 11, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment

Politicians Criticize China’s Role in Hong Kong while Ignoring Canada’s Role in Haiti

By Yves Engler | Dissident Voice | December 11, 2020

For those who support a truly just foreign policy comparing Canadian politicians’ reactions to protests in Hong Kong and the slightly more populous Haiti is instructive. It reveals the extent to which this country’s politicians are forced to align with the US Empire.

Despite hundreds of thousands of Canadians having close ties with both Haiti and Hong Kong, only protests in the latter seem to be of concern to politicians.

Recently NDP MP Niki Ashton and Green MP Paul Manly were attacked ferociously in Parliament and the dominant media for participating in a webinar titled “Free Meng Wanzhou”. During the hullabaloo about an event focused on Canada’s arrest of the Huawei CFO, Manly — who courageously participated in the webinar, even if his framing of the issue left much to be desired — and Ashton — who sent a statement to be read at the event but responded strongly to the backlash in an interview with the Winnipeg Free Press — felt the need to mention Hong Kong. Both the NDP (“Canada must do more to help the people of Hong Kong”) and Greens (“Echoes of Tiananmen Square: Greens condemn China’s latest assault on democracy in Hong Kong”) have released multiple statements critical of Beijing’s policy in Hong Kong since protests erupted there nearly two years ago. So have the Liberals, Bloc Québecois and Conservatives.

In March 2019 protests began against an extradition accord between Hong Kong and mainland China. Hong Kongers largely opposed the legislation, which was eventually withdrawn. Many remain hostile to Beijing, which later introduced an anti-sedition law to staunch dissent. Some protests turned violent. One bystander was killed by protesters. A journalist lost an eye after being shot by the police. Hundreds more were hurt and thousands arrested.

During more or less the same period Haiti was the site of far more intense protests and state repression. In July 2018 an uprising began against a reduction in subsidies for fuel (mostly for cooking), which morphed into a broad call for a corrupt and illegitimate president Jovenel Moïse to go. The uprising included a half dozen general strikes, including one that shuttered Port-au-Prince for a month. An October 2019 poll found that 81% of Haitians wanted the Canadian-backed president to leave.

Dozens, probably over 100, were killed by police and government agents. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other western establishment human rights organizations have all documented dozens of police killings in Haiti. More recently, Moïse has ruled by decree, sought to extend his term and to rewrite the constitution. Yet, I couldn’t find a single statement by the NDP or Greens, let alone the Liberals or Conservatives, expressing support for the pro-democracy movement in Haiti.

Even an equal number of statements from a Canadian political party would be less than adequate. Not only were the protests and repression far more significant in Haiti, the impact of a Canadian politician’s intervention is far more meaningful. Unlike in Hong Kong, the police responsible for the repression in Haiti were trained, financed and backed by Canada. The Trudeau government even gave $12.5 million to the Haitian police under its Feminist International Assistance Policy! More broadly, the unpopular president received decisive diplomatic and financial support from Ottawa and Washington. In fact, a shift in Canada/US policy towards Moïse would have led to his ouster. On the other hand, a harder Canada/US policy towards Hong Kong would have led to well … not much.

The imperial and class dynamics of Haiti are fairly straightforward. For a century Washington has consistently subjugated the country in which a small number of, largely light-skinned, families dominate economic affairs. During the past 20 years Canada has staunchly supported US efforts to undermine Haitian democracy and sovereignty.

Hong Kong’s politics are substantially more complicated. Even if one believes that most in Hong Kong are leery of Beijing’s growing influence — as I do — the end of British rule and reintegration of Hong Kong into China represents a break from a regrettable colonial legacy. Even if you take an entirely unfavorable view towards Beijing’s role there, progressive Canadians shouldn’t focus more on criticizing Chinese policy in Hong Kong than Canadian policy in Haiti.

Echoing an open letter signed by David Suzuki, Roger Waters, Linda McQuaig and 150 others and the demands of those who occupied Justin Trudeau’s office last year, the national president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, Chris Aylward, recently sent a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau critical of Canadian support for Moïse. It notes, “Canada must reassess its financial and political support to the Jovenel Moïse government, including police training, until independent investigations are conducted into government corruption in the Petrocaribe scandal and ongoing state collusion with criminal gangs.” The NDP, Greens and others should echo the call.

To prove they are more concerned with genuinely promoting human rights – rather than aligning with the rulers of ‘our’ empire – I humbly suggest that progressive Canadians hold off on criticizing Beijing’s policy towards Hong Kong until they have produced an equal number of statements critical of Canada’s role in Haiti.

To learn more about Canada’s role in Haiti tune into this webinar Sunday on “Imperialist attacks on Haiti and Haitian resistance: Canada’s Imperialist Adventures in Haiti.”

Yves Engler is the author of 10 books, including A Propaganda System: How Canada’s Government, Corporations, Media and Academia Sell War and Exploitation.

December 11, 2020 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | Leave a comment

New Documentary Sheds Light On Israel’s Strict Prohibitions On Interracial Marriage

By Eric Striker – National Justice – December 9, 2020

In 1967 Jewish activists sued to overturn bans on interracial marriage in America, yet in 2020, the Jewish state retains the strictest miscegenation laws in the world.

This is the subject of a new Press TV documentary on Israelis who are not allowed to marry by the country’s Rabbinate. Some couples use a loophole that allows them to marry abroad, but with COVID travel restrictions this has become impossible.

The Zionist state does not allow its citizens to obtain a civil marriage. Jewish apologists will often assert that Israel’s marriage laws are primarily motivated by the population’s concern with religious tradition, but a Gallup survey has found that Israel is one of the least religious countries in the world.

Under the rules set by the Rabbinate, a Jew who seeks to marry an individual who might be racially impure under Halakhic law must subject their spouse to DNA tests in order to prove their “genetic Jewishness.” Converts to Judaism and communities such as Ethiopian Jews are also largely banned from wedding.

Though Israel’s population is 75% Jewish and the country is highly secular, 98% of Jews say their friends are mostly or only Jewish. 89% of Jews also say they would not accept their child marrying a Gentile, going as high as 97% were the theoretical partner a Muslim.

While mixing in general is rare, the Israeli state funds initiatives every year intended to discourage Jews from dating outside their race. A street organization composed of Jewish men called Lehava patrol more cosmopolitan neighborhoods in Jerusalem and beat up interracial couples.

Jews in the United States are also known as the people who pioneered gay marriage, but in Israel same-sex marriage is prohibited.

In Israel marriage is a respected institution that enjoys fierce government protection. 50% of Jews marry by the age of 25, while in America only 29% of people between the ages of 18 to 34 are married.

With 95% of American Jews affirming support for the state of Israel, the sincerity of our country’s vanguard of “tolerance,” cosmopolitanism and social liberalism ought to be brought into question.

December 11, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Film Review, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

IAEA only authorized to monitor, verify Iran’s nuclear work under JCPOA: Envoy

Press TV – December 11, 2020

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is authorized to only monitor and verify Iran’s voluntary measures in accordance with the 2015 nuclear agreement, says the Iranian permanent representative to Vienna-based international organizations, stressing that the agency has no right to assess the Iranian nuclear work.

“@iaeaorg sole role is to monitor and verify the voluntary nuclear-related measures as detailed in the JCPOA and to provide regular updates in this regard,” Kazem Gharibabadi said in a post on his Twitter account on Friday, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Any assessment or analysis is out of the IAEA’s mandate, he said.

The Iranian diplomat’s tweet came in response to remarks made by the IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi, who told Sky News that Iran should not follow through on threats to increase uranium enrichment and throw out inspectors.

In the wake of the assassination of top Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in late November, the UN nuclear agency chief warned against any further escalation after lawmakers at Iran’s Parliament overwhelmingly endorsed the outlines of a strategic action plan which aims to counteract sanctions imposed on the Iranian nation and safeguard its interests.

“If implemented,” Grossi told Sky News, “these measures would be an even further deviation from the commitments that Iran entered into when it joined the agreement.

On December 1, 251 out of 260 Iranian lawmakers present at the Parliament voted ‘yes’ to the outlines of the draft bill, which will require the Iranian administration to suspend more commitments under the JCPOA.

The plan, among other things, requires the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) to produce at least 120 kg of 20-percent enriched uranium annually and store it inside the country within two months after the adoption of the law.

It also urges the AEOI to start the installation, gas injection, enrichment and storage of nuclear materials up to an appropriate enrichment degree within a period of three months using at least 1,000 IR-2m centrifuges.

France, Germany and Britain, the three European signatories to the JCPOA, said on December 7 that they are worried by the Iranian plan to install additional, advanced uranium-enriching centrifuges at Natanz nuclear facility.

“Iran’s recent announcement to the IAEA that it intends to install an additional three cascades of advanced centrifuges at the Fuel Enrichment Plant in Natanz is contrary to the JCPOA and deeply worrying,” the three governments, dubbed the E3, claimed.

US President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled Washington out of the JCPOA in May 2018, and unleashed the “toughest ever” sanctions against the Islamic Republic in defiance of global criticism.

Since the much-criticized exit, Washington has been attempting to prevent the remaining signatories – Britain, France, China and Russia plus Germany – from abiding by their commitments and thus kill the historic agreement, which is widely viewed as a fruit of international diplomacy.

Iran remained fully compliant with the JCPOA for an entire year, waiting for the co-signatories to fulfill their end of the bargain by offsetting the impacts of American bans on the Iranian economy.

But as the European parties failed to do so, the Islamic Republic moved in May 2019 to suspend its JCPOA commitments under Articles 26 and 36 of the deal that cover Tehran’s legal rights.

December 11, 2020 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

Iraq is Forcing the US to Leave

By Vladimir Platov – New Eastern Outlook – 11.12.2020

The situation in Iraq, torn apart by US armed aggression, continues to deteriorate in recent months, confirming the complete fiasco of US policy in the country.

For years Iraqis have been clamoring for reform in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, namely ending corruption, improving services and expanding job opportunities, as well as a slew of increasingly anti-American slogans. Although the authorities have taken some measures to ensure the rights of protesters, including compensation for victims of violence against protesters since October 2019, protests continue in some provinces, and their protesters remain arrested and disappear without a trace. At least 157 people were killed and 5,494 injured in the unrest, according to a report released October 20 by the Human Rights Office of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).

Another wave of protests resumed on October 1 and spread throughout the Shiite south. At least five people died from gunshot wounds, and about 60 were injured in clashes on 28 November in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah. On December 3, further protests began against the regional government of Kurdistan over non-payment of salaries to civil servants. To disperse the anti-government march, Iraqi security forces fired tear gas and opened fire, and several protesters, including the organizers, most of whom are teachers, were detained.

As Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, the head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, told the UN Security Council members at the end of November, the Iraqi authorities have to act in the epicenter of several crises at once, in politics, in security, economy and finance, to solve social issues and, of course, sanitation problems. The continuing practice of people disappearing and being abducted without a trace in Iraq and the existence of a network of secret prisons is very important for the settlement of the situation in Iraq. As the experts of the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances, which published its findings on the situation in Iraq on December 2, stated, they received reports that there are 420 secret prisons and pre-trial detention centers in this Arab country. They are also alarmed by the many mass graves in the country and the large number of unidentified bodies of the victims. Committee members called on the authorities to include punishment for crimes of kidnapping in the criminal code, and strongly recommended that such institutions be closed or converted into regular registered and controlled centers.

In addition, numerous observers note the continuing sharp conflict between government forces and DAESH cell militants in the central part of Iraq. In the Tarmia region of north Baghdad, a convoy of government forces was ambushed by terrorists, gunmen wounded three of them with sniper fire, one died from their wounds, and two more are in serious condition. In Salah ad-Din province, a truck was blown up by an explosive device left by militants. The DAESH terrorist group claimed responsibility for the November 29 rocket attack on one of the largest Iraqi oil refineries located in the city of Beiji, Salah ad Din Governorate.

Kamal Al-Hasnawi, one of the high-ranking leaders of the Al-Hashd al-Shaabi militia in Iraq, Kamal Al-Hasnawi, told the London newspaper Al-Araby Al-Jadid that one of the reasons for the periodic activity of DAESH fighters in Iraq, especially in the Iraqi Jordan -the Syrian border triangle, is their support from the United States. According to him, supporting documents are in the hands of Al-Hashd al-Shaabi, indicating that the Americans are doing this to claim that the security situation has deteriorated since the end of coalition interactions with the Iraqi government. According to the Iraqi commander, the US coalition itself trained, equipped and deployed DAESH terrorists in various cities in Iraq, especially on the Iraqi-Syrian border. At the same time, Kamal Al-Hasnawi emphasized that the Iraqi Air Force itself has enough strength and capabilities to fill the vacuum of coalition forces, just as Al-Hashd al-Shaabi itself survived heavy battles with DAESH without air support from the coalition, and in these battles he achieved victories.

At the same time, a conflict between the Peshmerga, the self-defense forces of the Kurdish Autonomous Region, and the PKK militants is growing in northern Iraq, which, according to many observers, could lead to a full-scale civil war. The impetus for this aggravation was the murder of Gazi Salih on October 8, an employee of the Sazrer border crossing, for which the local authorities blamed the PKK, although the group claimed no involvement, nevertheless claiming responsibility for the October 27 sabotage on the oil pipeline. to which oil from Iraqi Kurdistan was supplied to Turkey. It’s worth noting that the PKK, recognized as a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, is waging an armed struggle for the secession of the Kurdish regions of Turkey. Its main bases are in hard-to-reach areas in northwestern Iraq and it is estimated that it has about 5,000 fighters in Iraqi Kurdistan.

According to media reports, on December 3, the Iraqi capital was subjected to another rocket attack, explosions were heard in the “green zone” in the center of the Iraqi capital, where foreign and government facilities are located, as well as in the area of the International Airport in Baghdad.

In connection with the aggravation of relations between the United States and Iran, according to Politico, the United States is withdrawing half of its diplomats from Iraq. CNN News, citing reliable sources, reported that this decision was made at a meeting of the Committee for the Coordination of US National Policy and is due to “minimizing the risk” to the life of the US Embassy in Iraq, as the anniversary of the assassination of Iranian General Qasim Soleimani on January 3, 2020 is approaching as a result of a US airstrike at Baghdad airport. The sharp increase in tensions between Iran and the United States is due, among other things, to the recent death of Iranian nuclear physicist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, which, according to Tehran, was caused not only by Israel, but also by the United States.

In August, Donald Trump wrote on Twitter about the planned reduction of the US military presence in Iraq from the current 5,200 to 3,500 people, and on August 20, at a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in the White House, this issue was additionally discussed. However, the complete failure of the US strategy in this Arab country forces Washington, because of the opposition of the local population, not only to think about the safety of its military, but also the employees of the American diplomatic mission, whom the population of Iraq is openly kicking off of their land. Today it is already clear to everyone that US policy in Iraq, as well as in Afghanistan, has manifested itself as the epic failure it is, and the shamed US withdrawal from both of these countries is inevitable.

December 11, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Texas Launches SCOTUS Bid to Save Trump, and Maybe Even the Republic

By Robert Bridge | Strategic Culture Foundation | December 11, 2020

In a dramatic and unprecedented turn of events amid the 2020 presidential election fiasco, the Lone Star State is leading the charge to overturn results in four swing states where multiple irregularities were alleged to have occurred in delivering the presidency to the Democrat Joe Biden. Nothing less than the survival of the Republic as we know it hangs in the balance.

President Donald Trump and 17 Republican-ruled states filed motions this week in support of the Texas’ ‘Hail Mary’ effort to get the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn results in four major swing states – Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – where alleged fraud and irregularities catapulted Biden into the White House. The legal challenge comes just days before the Electoral College is scheduled to formally pronounce on the outcome.

Trump’s legal team has experienced multiple setbacks in its efforts to present its case at the state level. Those failures were not wholly unexpected considering that three of the states being sued are Democrat-run; not exactly places where the scales of justice would tip in Trump’s favor. As for Georgia, Republican Governor Brian Kemp, proving his credentials in the RINO club (‘Republican In Name Only’) has impeded efforts for a recount every step of the way.

The charges being leveled against the states by Rudy Giuliani, the head of Trump’s legal team, are serious despite being almost totally ignored by the mainstream media. The suit accuses both local voting officials as well as Dominion Voting Systems of potential fraud and “severe irregularities.” Several IT experts testified that the voting systems were not only hooked up to the internet, but the votes were tallied at overseas points.

Giuliani outlined the grievances in Atlanta, Georgia, where an alleged water-pipe break, later determined to be a hoax, halted vote counting at a time when Trump’s lead over Biden was looking insurmountable.

“In the city of Atlanta, Republicans were not allowed to watch the absentee mail-in ballot process. Inspections completely cast aside. We have numerous double voters. We have numerous out-of-state voters. And we have specific evidence of intimidation and changes of votes.”

The lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton this week presents a compelling argument, yet has attracted mockery and disdain from some legal experts who argue that no state has the right to interfere in the affairs i.e. conducting elections of another state. The Texas-led lawsuit, however, makes the fascinating counter-argument that those four states where fraud is alleged to have happened “threaten the liberty, not just of their own citizens, but of every citizen of the United States who casts a lawful ballot in that election.” In other words, by not holding fair and transparent elections, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have infringed upon the rights of the citizens of other states.

“States have a strong interest in ensuring that the votes of their own citizens are not diluted by the unconstitutional administration of elections in other States,” the amicus brief reads. “When non-legislative actors in other States encroach on the authority of the “Legislature thereof” in that State to administer a Presidential election, they threaten the liberty, not just of their own citizens, but of every citizen of the United States who casts a lawful ballot in that election—including the citizens of amici States.”

The legal motion went on to mention the unconstitutionality of the Supreme Courts in each state overriding the legislative branch by codifying mail-in ballots that were not properly managed. To support its claim it cited Anderson v. United States (1974), which ruled that every voter in a federal election “has a right under the Constitution to have his vote fairly counted, without its being distorted by fraudulently cast votes.”

Whether or not the filing on behalf of 17 states, as well as U.S. President Donald Trump ultimately succeeds or fails to be heard by the Supreme Court is not really the main point. What is significant is not only have so many Republican states joined together in defense of the populist leader, something that many people did not believe would happen, but it underscores the level of anger and frustration so many Americans are feeling over the outcome to this election of extreme consequence. Indeed, many believe the outcome of this presidential contest, given the strange winds now blowing through Capitol Hill, may actually mean the difference between the United States becoming more of a socialist country than a capitalist one.

With so much riding on the line, conservative Trump supporters are growing desperate, not only with the implications of a Biden-Harris presidency, but by the absolute lack of media coverage throughout the saga. And when there is media attention devoted to the legal challenges, it is an arrogant and condescending tone, as if fraud and corruption has suddenly become a new thing.

This is where not the media and the Big Tech social media platforms are playing with real fire. If enough Republican voters come around to the conclusion that Trump was not only cheated out of another term in office, but was never given a fair hearing to forward those grievances, then we may be heading for some very rough times in the land of the free. To lose in an election is one thing, but to lose under highly dubious terms while lacking both the legal and media methods of voicing those concerns, is a recipe for disaster.

By Wednesday, the general attorneys from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia have filed motions with the Supreme Court. Should the highest court in the land agree to hear the case, Texas senator Ted Cruz has agreed to argue on Trump’s behalf.

Not only would such a court case make for some epic television, it may very well save the Republic from another civil war.

December 11, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | Leave a comment

Patriot Act Used By The FBI To Collect Internet Browsing Data, Contradicting Claims Made To Oversight

By Tim Cushing | TechDirt | December 8, 2020

The NSA shut down its bulk phone records collection — authorized under Section 215 — after it became apparent it wasn’t worth the effort. Reforms put in place by the USA Freedom Act prevented the agency from collecting it all and sorting it out later. Instead, it had to approach telcos with actual targeted requests and only haul away responsive records. The NSA somehow still managed to overcollect records, putting it in violation of the law. The NSA hinted the program had outlived its usefulness anyway, suggesting it had far better collections available under other authorities that it would rather not subject to greater scrutiny.

But this didn’t end the government’s bulk records collections. It just ended the phone metadata program. The NSA still collects other records in bulk, including banking records and, oddly, books checked out by library patrons. The broad authority of Section 215 could be read to allow the government collect other records, like email metadata and internet activity. Reasoning that people voluntarily create records of their internet use by using third-party services to surf the web, the government hinted it could sweep these up just as easily as it had swept up call records.

The government’s attempt to collect internet history under this authority ran into some friction earlier this year when the Senate voted to block this collection. Senator Ron Wyden directly asked the director of national intelligence (DNI) to inform the Senate whether or not agencies under its purview had gathered internet use records under this authority. He received this answer.

In a Nov. 6 letter to Mr. Wyden, John Ratcliffe, the intelligence director, wrote that Section 215 was not used to gather internet search terms, and that none of the 61 orders issued last year under that law by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court involved collection of “web browsing” records.

Wyden took this response to mean that implementing a ban on collection of internet history records could be put into place without negatively affecting any intelligence gathering activities. But when the New York Times pressed DNI John Ratcliffe on specifics, a new party inserted itself into the conversation: the DOJ. According to its response, the FBI had already done the thing the DNI had just told Sen. Wyden it hadn’t.

In fact, “one of those 61 orders resulted in the production of information that could be characterized as information regarding browsing,” Mr. Ratcliffe wrote in the second letter. Specifically, one order had approved collection of logs revealing which computers “in a specified foreign country” had visited “a single, identified U.S. web page.”

So, the FBI was collecting internet browsing records, albeit with an order that only targeted foreign users visiting one US web page. Still, this wasn’t what the DNI originally said to Sen. Wyden. This set Wyden off. Again. The supposedly honest answer he received in response to his questions wasn’t actually all that honest. As he pointed out in his statement, the belated admission raised questions about domestic surveillance and potential abuse of Section 215 authority to collect something the DNI said no one was collecting. And, if nothing changed, there was no guarantee the Intelligence Community wouldn’t talk itself into believing a collection of internet browsing data would be cool and legal.

“More generally,” Mr. Wyden continued, “the D.N.I. has provided no guarantee that the government wouldn’t use the Patriot Act to intentionally collect Americans’ web browsing information in the future, which is why Congress must pass the warrant requirement that has already received support from a bipartisan majority in the Senate.”

Previous attempts to erect a warrant requirement for the collection of internet data or search histories have failed to reach the president’s desk. This latest admission has refueled the fire to protect Americans (or visitors to American websites) from government overreach. Even if such a collection targets only foreign internet users, there’s no guarantee it won’t sweep up US citizens — like pretty much every other bulk collection has.

At this point, everything is up in the air. There’s a new president headed into office who might be more receptive to reform efforts, but he’s also the man who served the Obama Administration — one that wasn’t all that concerned about domestic surveillance until it became impossible to ignore the documents leaked by Ed Snowden. Even then, its response was tepid at best and it still allowed IC surveillance business to continue pretty much uninterrupted — something it used to justify extrajudicial killings based on little more than metadata. This needs to be fixed, but surveillance reform advocates still lack majority support. And the guy [potentially] headed to the White House has never seemed all that concerned about surveillance abuses.

December 11, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

“Free Speech Is Being Weaponized”: Columbia Dean and New Yorker Writer Calls For More Censorship

By Jonathan Turley | December 11, 2020

We have been discussing how reporters, editors, commentators, and academics have embraced rising calls for censorship and speech controls, including President-elect Joe Biden and key advisers. This includes academics rejecting the very concept of objectivity in journalism in favor of open advocacy. Now, Columbia Journalism Dean and New Yorker writer Steve Coll has denounced how the First Amendment right to freedom of speech was being “weaponized” to protect disinformation. That’s right. A journalism dean and writer declaring that the problem is that free speech itself is allowing too much freedom on the Internet and other forums.

Coll’s comments came in a discussion on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” when he was asked by Kasie Hunt about the need for Big Tech to censor speech. Rather than defend the right of people to express themselves freely, Coll lashed out at companies like Facebook as “motivated, as all companies are, to make money” though at the same time is “acting like a public square.” He decried the failure to have more expansive regulation of free speech and showed little concern or merit for arguments from free speech advocates. Like Harvard academics who recently declared “China was right” about censorship, Coll just assumed that it was self-evident that too much free speech is a bad thing and that these companies need to protect people from harmful or false ideas.

“And yes, Facebook has moved somewhat. They’ve had a better election in 2020 than they did in 2016. They’ve learned to put some brakes on, you know, here and there, but you can’t get away from the fact that their mission is to connect everybody in the world. That’s what motivates Mark Zuckerberg and it’s his passion and he profoundly believes in free speech.”

What is most maddening is that Coll spoke on behalf of journalists in calling for less freedom:

“Those of us in journalism have to come to terms with the fact that free speech, a principle that we hold sacred, is being weaponized against the principle of journalism and what do we do about that,. As reporters, we kind of march into this war with our facts nobly shouldered as if they were going to win the day and what we’re seeing that is because of the scale of this alternative reality that you’ve been talking about, our facts, our principles, our scientific method–it isn’t enough. So what do we do?”

That used to be an easy question. What you do is allow free speech to combat bad speech. What you do is support the right of citizens and journalists to publish without censorship. What you do is to embrace the freedom of expression while reinforcing the need to use that freedom to counter disinformation. Instead, Coll is joining the forces seeking to silence or curtail the speech of others. You do not support free speech by calling for its curtailment. For free speech advocates, it is as compelling as saying that we needed to “save” villages by destroying them in Vietnam. Worse yet, he is doing it in the names of “good journalism.”

December 11, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 1 Comment

Austrian lawmaker tests cola for Covid and claims POSITIVE result returned shows testing is ‘worthless’

RT | December 11, 2020

An Austrian lawmaker tested a glass of cola for coronavirus during a fiery speech accusing the government of medical tyranny and denouncing government health ‘dictatorship’ – and the soda turned out to be Covid-positive.

Michael Schnedlitz, a member of Austria’s National Council and the general secretary of the right-wing Freedom Party, railed against the government’s screening program and other coronavirus measures while addressing his colleagues in parliament on Thursday. During his speech, Schnedlitz administered a rapid Covid-19 test on a glass of cola, showing his colleagues after a few minutes that the sugary carbonated beverage had tested positive for the virus.

He described the tests as “worthless” and said publicly funded Covid-19 testing was a “massive redistribution of tax money in the direction of the pharmaceutical industry.” He went on to accuse the government of “dictatorship light,” claiming “Austrians have been deprived of their basic rights, such as their civil liberties and the right to freedom of expression,” during the health crisis. The lawmaker said Covid-19 restrictions have led to bankruptcies, mass unemployment, and social and economic crises, and have “robbed” children of their education.

Schnedlitz’s comments received widespread praise on social media, but some took issue with his testing technique. According to Germany’s Die Welt newspaper, the Austrian lawmaker administered the test incorrectly, skipping an important step before checking the sample for the virus.

December 11, 2020 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

The National Security Establishment Is In Charge

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | December 11, 2020

In the debate over whether a recently retired military man, Gen. Lloyd Austin, should be secretary of defense, the New York Times published an editorial yesterday emphasizing the importance of “civilian control” over the military.

How quaint! Never mind that Times, by its own admission, endorsed President Trump’s nominee for secretary of defense, Gen. James Mattis. The Times now says that two times in a row would be too much because civilian control of the military is so vitally important in America.

What nonsense. The fact is that the national-security establishment, which consists of the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA, has long been in charge of the levers of power within the federal government. Anybody who becomes secretary of defense, military or civilian, is going to be taking orders, not giving them.

But we have to cling to our myths and lies — you know, like the one that holds that American servicemen died in America’s many foreign wars to protect our “freedom.” As long as we cling to such falsehoods, myths, and unrealities, everything will be fine, or so the argument goes.

But everything isn’t fine. Just look around. Look at the ever-increasing numbers of young people committing suicide. Is that normal? That’s the surest sign yet of what clinging to lies and myths and selling them as reality can do to a nation. Add to those suicides the suicides of veterans and the massive drug addition, alcoholism, and other self-destructive behavior and all the irrational killings and other acts of violence that pervade American society.

Yep, just look around. It’s not hard to see that America is a very unhealthy society.

There is one book that captures perfectly what has happened to the United States: National Security and Double Government by Michael J. Glennon. Glennon’s thesis is a simple one: It is the national-security establishment that is in charge of the federal government.

Oh, yes, I know, everyone thinks that the other parts of the federal government — the president, the Congress, and the Supreme Court are in charge. That’s because they are inculcated with that notion in their public school civics classes or at the state-supported colleges they attended. As Glennon points out, that notion is false. The real power and control lies with the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA. They permit the other parts of the federal government to maintain the veneer of power. That doesn’t matter to them. What matters is that they are in charge and that the other three branches defer to them on critical matters, such as who is going to be secretary of defense,

And just in case you’re wondering, Glennon is not some sort of crackpot author, which makes his book so dangerous to the national-security establishment. Since 2002, he has been a professor of law at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He also served three years as counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He also was a professor of law at the University of California and a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International School for Scholars. Glennon is an author to be reckoned with.

Recall that when Trump was running for president, he was making bold statements against the deep state and its “forever wars.” This was one of the big reasons so many people voted for him. Not since Dwight Eisenhower and John Kennedy had a president stood up to the “military industrial complex.”

And then look at what happened, almost immediately. Look at what the national-security establishment did to Donald Trump. At the very start of his administration, they defanged him and rendered him impotent. Trump surrounded himself with generals. He even appointed one to be his secretary of defense. Now nearing the the end of his four year term, he failed to end his “forever wars,” as he promised to do. Just as bad, he tried his best to start new ones, like in Iran, Yemen, Syria, and Somalia.

One of the biggest signs that Trump caved was with respect to the long-secret JFK records of the national-security establishment. Just think — almost 60 years of secrecy based on the ridiculous notion of “national security.” Early on, Trump declared openly that he was gong to release the records, as mandated by Congress 25 years before in the JFK Records Act. And then at the last minute, Trump surrendered to the will of the CIA, agreeing to its demands for more years of secrecy.

Moreover, at the risk of belaboring the obvious, the mainstream press didn’t issue a peep of protest over the continue secrecy of the records. Continued secrecy of decades-old records relating to the supposed lone-nut assassination of a president is treated as something completely normal. It’s just one more example of the weird dysfunction that pervades American life, not to mention the control that the national-security establishment wields over the mainstream press, especially when it comes to the Kennedy assassination.

Why did Donald Trump cave on the JFK records, the forever wars, and the deep state, knowing that he was inevitably going to disappoint his millions of supporters? I don’t think we can eliminate the possibility that Trump got “Hooverized” — that is, that the national-security establishment may have employed the same tactic mastered by former FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover — use secrets of a person’s personal life to acquire mastery of his public life.

With Joe Biden, they don’t need to do that. Given Biden’s lifetime of public subservience to the Washington, D.C. establishment, he’s going to bow to whatever the national-security establishment wants. In fact, I don’t think we can eliminate the idea that the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA rejected Biden’s choice for secretary of defense, another deep state lackey named Michèle Flournoy, and chose Gen. Austin instead. But hey, at least Austin’s appointment would reflect the reality of who’s in charge of the federal government.

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.

December 11, 2020 Posted by | Book Review, Civil Liberties, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Time magazine celebrates medical authoritarianism, naming Fauci ‘guardian of the year’

By Helen Buyniski | RT | December 11, 2020

Time magazine has designated US coronavirus czar Anthony Fauci as a ‘guardian of the year,’ a new category that emphasizes his dystopian doomsday pronouncements. The message? Sit down, muzzle up, and fear what you’re told to fear.

Since the first reports of the novel coronavirus on American shores, Fauci has been front and center, scaring the life out of Americans with apocalyptic predictions of millions of deaths that – while they haven’t come to pass – have triggered devastating economic shutdowns. A recent survey found nearly two out of five US families planned to spend the next year in “survival mode,” having no choice but to put aside long-term goals in order to do whatever they can to make ends meet as the economy circles the drain.

It’s no coincidence that Fauci’s directives to “hunker down” for the much-hyped “dark winter” came ahead of the Christmas shopping season, when most retail businesses earn their way back into the black in order to make it through the following year. Fauci and his colleagues in the US health bureaucracy are facilitating the asset-stripping of America, whether or not they’re aware of it.

The Covid-19 czar’s opposition to the cheap, off-patent malaria drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) has cost hundreds of thousands of lives, according to some expert estimates. While the World Health Organization (WHO) terminated its trial of HCQ stating it showed no improvement over standard treatments, there is evidence of success from countries that used the drug to treat early symptoms of Covid-19 – and the US, where the drug was demonized and politicized, is among the top ten in terms of coronavirus-related deaths per capita. Fauci has pooh-poohed the cheap drug in favor of Remdesivir, itself a failed (but fantastically expensive) ebola drug – which the WHO has likewise admitted has little therapeutic potential against the coronavirus.

Indeed, Fauci has gotten every single “epidemic” in his 50-year tenure wrong. From suppressing drugs that were effective in treating AIDS-related pneumonia, resulting in some 17,000 deaths, to shilling for the swine flu vaccine that spawned a narcolepsy epidemic among vaccinated children in 2009, he has been persistently on the wrong side of history. He has lied under oath regarding documented side effects of the measles vaccine and foisted highly toxic AIDS drugs on healthy people under the guise of “pre-exposure prophylaxis” (PrEP). The career medical official has gallons of American blood on his hands.

Ironically, these characteristics would make him ideally suited to Time’s ‘person of the year’ designation – which has been awarded to the likes of Adolf Hitler, Henry Kissinger, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The man has always put profits before people, a characteristic which should preclude holding public office but which is praised in the sociopathic ruling class circles that anoint America’s ‘leaders.’

Many dystopian works of literature and film use the term “guardian” to denote secret police, and the term fits Fauci perfectly. The immunologist even undermined his own fearmongering when he all but admitted the “gold standard” PCR test used to diagnose Covid-19 is essentially useless – yet gleefully uses these bogus test results to terrorize the American population.

Time is far from alone in lionizing Fauci – indeed, the entire media establishment hangs on his every word. The editor of Yale University’s book of notable quotes declared Fauci’s “wear a mask” to be quote of the year – even though the official had, just a few months before imploring Americans to mask up, declared such a precaution unnecessary, and even detrimental.

Given the utter disaster 2020 has been for the US and many other countries, perhaps it’s fitting that Fauci should be selected to epitomize it. But with the rollout of barely-tested vaccines looming in the future, and the possibility that a “don’t call it a mandate” vaccination certificate will be a requirement to participate in what passes for normal life post-Covid-19, Americans should seriously reconsider placing their trust in this avatar of medical totalitarianism.

Helen Buyniski is an American journalist and political commentator at RT. Follow her on Twitter @velocirapture23

December 11, 2020 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

NJ Lawmaker Wants MANDATORY Corona Shot For All Kids WITH NO EXEMPTIONS

By Steve Watson | Summit News | December 11, 2020

A State Senator in New Jersey wants the coronavirus vaccine made mandatory for all school age children, despite them being the least at risk group.

Middlesex Democrat Senator Joseph Vitale also wants to eliminate exemptions that have been used in the past to prevent their children from receiving shots.

“When it is that a vaccine is appropriate for children, I believe it ought to be included in that list of vaccines that are required for children,” Vitale told reporters.

“I’d like to incorporate it into the other vaccination bill that would require children to get vaccinated as a condition to entering school,” he added.

Vitale also says there is a separate effort underway to make the vaccine mandatory for University students in the state.

“It’s not complicated to decide whether or not to include a COVID vaccine as a condition of school,” he said, adding “The decision is going to be whether or not the vaccine is available, and if the science supports its efficacy.”

New Jersey currently mandates that children must have several vaccines in order to attend school, including MMR, polio, and chickenpox. However, thousands of children have been exempted from the shots, with parents citing religious beliefs.

There was an attempt last year by lawmakers to eliminate such exemptions and mandate the vaccinations across the board, but it failed when angry parents stormed the statehouse:

While New Jersey officials have stopped short of saying they will force everyone to get the vaccine, Governor Phil Murphy has signed an executive order that will see everyone who does get it automatically enrolled into a ‘New Jersey Immunization Information System’, a move that some have seen as a way of coercing people to take the shot.

Speaking to reporters, Sue Collins, co-founder of the New Jersey Coalition for Vaccine Choice said “Putting the cart before the horse and saying when it’s available everyone has to get it does not build trust.”

“No medical procedure should ever be mandated for anyone — especially something so new, with so many unknowns and no long-term knowledge at all,” Collins added.

Pushing back against the creep toward mandating the vaccine in the state, Republican Assemblyman Gerry Scharfenberger, has sponsored a bill to prevent it from becoming compulsory.

While he says he is not anti-vaccine, Scharfenberger says he cannot support mandating medication, and is responding to the concerns of constituents.

The developments in New Jersey come after a State Assemblymember in New York introduced legislation that would make it compulsory for residents to get vaccinated against coronavirus.

Democrat Linda Rosenthal said she introduced the bill because “there has been a “concerning uptick in dangerous anti-science, anti-vax rhetoric.”

As soon as the FDA approves the vaccine for children, there will likely be a torrent of states moving to add it to the compulsory vaccination list for school kids. Reports have suggested that Pfizer has begun conducting some tests of its vaccine on children, with Moderna also scheduling trials for tests on kids.

Currently, California, Mississippi and West Virginia are the only states that allow medical exemptions to vaccinations, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

A further 30 states, including New Jersey, currently allow religious exemptions, with 17 more states still allowing exemptions for religious and personal or philosophical beliefs.

December 11, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , | 1 Comment