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February 20, 2021 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, Video | | 1 Comment

US must choose: new ICBMs & nightmare of nuclear deterrence OR meaningful disarmament through arms control

By Scott Ritter | RT | February 21, 2021

The US wants Russia and China to rein in their respective strategic nuclear arsenals while it modernizes its own nuclear defenses at the same time. When it comes to strategic nukes, the US can’t have its cake and eat it too.

The US Senate recently passed the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), allocating some $1.5 billion for research and development of a new generation of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) known as the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD).

The funding of the GBSD occurred despite pressure to divert some or all of the current allocation to support emergency Covid-19 contingencies. One of the major factors behind the decision was a concerted effort on the part of the US Air Force and the commander of US Strategic Command to convince Congress that a failure to fund the GBSD would be tantamount to unilateral disarmament, given that the current US ICBM force, comprised of Minuteman III missiles, will begin “aging out” as the missiles reach their operational expiration dates.

The proponents of the GBSD, however, have a major policy hurdle before them – namely the desire on the part of President Joe Biden to undertake a review of the current US nuclear posture with the view of breathing new life into strategic arms control negotiations that could potentially reduce the size of the US nuclear arsenal.

Many arms control advocates believe that the logical choice for any significant reduction in the US strategic nuclear arsenal would be to do away with ICBMs altogether, eliminating the need for the GBSD. The supporters of the GBSD believe such a move would put the US in danger by increasing the risk of a nuclear attack by limiting the number of targets any potential nuclear foe would need to strike in an effort to preemptively neutralize the US nuclear deterrent.

There is an urgency in this debate driven by two hard-wired calendar dates. The first is the expiration of the recently extended New START treaty.

While the US and Russia agreed to extend this treaty by five years, the fact is this treaty will expire for good come February 2026, leaving the two nations a scant five years to negotiate a follow-on agreement. The other hard date is in 2030, when the Minuteman III ICBM force will begin aging out.

The current GBSD funding authorization envisions the deployment of a fully operational replacement missile by 2029, but this is contingent upon continued funding at ever-increasing levels in the years to come. If a commitment is made to continue fully funding the GBSD with an eye on operational deployment by 2029, it will handicap US arms control negotiators who will have zero flexibility when it comes to devising a negotiating strategy capable of convincing their Russian, and possibly Chinese, counterparts to agree to meaningful cuts in their respective nuclear arsenals.

ICBMs role as ‘warhead sponge’

Land-based ICBMs have been a critical part of the nuclear Triad that has underpinned the US nuclear deterrence posture since the 1960s (the other two components being manned bombers and submarine-launched ballistic missiles, SLBMs.)

Today the US maintains a force of 450 hardened missile silos containing 400 Minuteman III ICBMs scattered across Montana, North Dakota, Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming. This force has been designed to respond on short notice to any nuclear attack. But its most important characteristic today is its role as a warhead “sponge”. Any potential nuclear-armed foe would need to allocate at least two nuclear warheads to each silo to have any chance of destroying the Minuteman III force. The only nation capable of carrying out such an attack today is Russia, which would have to allocate 900 of its 1,600 deployed warheads to have any chance of taking out the US ICBM leg of the nuclear Triad.

Supporters of the current nuclear Triad contend that without the land-based ICBM “sponge”, any potential foe would only need to focus on attacking five targets in the US—three strategic bomber bases, and two submarine bases. These same experts note that the pressure on the most survivable and lethal component of the Triad – the SLBM – will increase as force restructuring limits the number of submarines that are on patrol at any given time, and as new possible technologies emerge that can detect submarines more easily, increasing the chances that some or all of the deployed SLBM-carrying submarines could be preemptively targeted. Only by retaining the land-based ICBM, these experts argue, can the US guarantee a high degree of certainty that any nuclear attack against the US or its allies would result in a massive retaliation that no aggressor could hope to survive.

The Minuteman III missile has been in service for more than 50 years, despite being designed to last ten. It has achieved this level of longevity through a series of service life extension programs (SLEP) which, in their aggregate, have resulted in a missile very different from the one originally deployed, possessing upgraded booster rockets, new avionics and guidance systems, and more modern nuclear warheads. But the current fleet of Minuteman III ICBMs will begin to expire beginning in 2029, when many of the upgraded rocket boosters expire, followed by the guidance systems, which will begin to expire in 2031. If nothing is done to extend the life of the Minuteman III missiles, the arsenal of operational missiles will be reduced to 350 by 2033, and less than 100 by 2037.

All-or-nothing approach

Proponents of the GBSD argue that the fifty-year lifecycle costs associated with fielding a new ICBM, estimated at $159.2 billion, are actually cheaper than the fifty-year lifecycle cost of a new Minuteman III SLEP, with a baseline cost of $160.3 billion. They also point out that the GBSD costs go beyond simply putting a new missile in the ground, but also incorporate silo refurbishment and other ground infrastructure improvements, including a new nuclear command and control system designed to survive in a modern environment where cyber attacks are a real possibility. The new GBSD also incorporates a modular design that allows for rapid-retargeting, and flexibility when it comes to the payload carried, allowing for the introduction of new, improved delivery systems.

The scenario painted by the supporters of the GBSD is based upon an all-or-nothing approach—either spend the money of a new ICBM or lose the ground-based leg of the nuclear Triad forever. This logic mitigates both against the loss of ICBMs, and for a newer, more capable missile (the GBSD.) But it also ties the hands of arms control negotiators trying to come up with a formula that would result in the reduction of Russian and Chinese nuclear arsenals. By keeping the US nuclear Triad intact, and by deploying a new, more capable ICBM in the form of the GBSD, the US would eliminate any incentive on the part of either Russia or China to reduce the size and capability of their respective nuclear arsenals. Indeed, the exact opposite would happen—Russia would continue its current nuclear modernization programs, and China would have every reason to invest in enlarging their own ICBM force.

Moreover, there is virtually no chance that the US would unilaterally disarm its ICBM force by allowing the Minuteman III ICBM to age out without a replacement. The solution to this quandary is how to best manage the US ICBM force in a manner that retains the potential for viable force retention while keeping the door open for the possibility of elimination through new arms control agreements. In this light, the GBSD is the least favorable option, as its funding cycle calls for the production of some 650 new missiles sustained over the course of fifty years. Once this production level is funded and underway, it will be virtually impossible to stop it from reaching completion.

However, the US could seek to extend the life of the existing Minuteman III ICBM force, and then use arms control negotiations as a way to leverage their continued existence as a means of getting the Russians to agree to meaningful reductions in their own arsenal—the heavy Sarmat ICBM comes to mind.

Similar trade-offs could be negotiated with the Chinese, with a reduction/elimination of the US ICBM arsenal offered up in exchange for China agreeing not to field any new generation ICBMs. These negotiations, if they are to have any chance of success, must be concluded in the next five years—a very short time frame when it comes to arms control negotiations. The flexibility afforded by a Minuteman III SLEP would enable and enhance these negotiations, while an irreversible commitment to fund and deploy the GBSD would guarantee their failure. Seen in this light, there really isn’t much of a debate. The key question is who will prevail in the future internal US debate over nuclear force posture—the advocates for a continuation of the nightmare of nuclear deterrence predicated on mutually assured destruction (a self-fulfilling prophecy if there ever was one), or the proponents of meaningful nuclear disarmament through viable and verifiable arms control agreements.

Scott Ritter is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer and author of ‘SCORPION KING: America’s Suicidal Embrace of Nuclear Weapons from FDR to Trump.’ He served in the Soviet Union as an inspector implementing the INF Treaty, in General Schwarzkopf’s staff during the Gulf War, and from 1991-1998 as a UN weapons inspector. Follow him on Twitter @RealScottRitter

February 20, 2021 Posted by | Militarism | , | 1 Comment

The Trump Energy Resilience Plan which Could have Saved Texas

By Eric Worrall | Watts Up With That? | February 20, 2021

Has Trump derangement syndrome cost Texan lives? Back in 2017, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry proposed paying Coal and Nuclear Power Stations to keep at least 90 days worth of coal onsite, for disaster resilience.

At the time the resilience proposal was widely criticised as being a thinly disguised Trump scheme to pump government money into the coal and nuclear industries. But in hindsight, a bit more resilience might have saved Texas from days of painful electricity blackouts.

From 2017;

Rick Perry: DOE’s Coal, Nuclear Proposal Is ‘Rebalancing the Market’

Perry doubles down on arguments that the NOPR will protect Americans.


Energy Secretary Rick Perry said a proposed rule to subsidize coal and nuclear plants is “rebalancing the market” to correct for the Obama administration’s support of renewable energy.

They “clearly had their thumb on the scale toward the renewable side,” said Perry, who spoke about his energy policy priorities with Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd and Axios CEO Jim VandeHei at an event in Washington, D.C. on Thursday.

The DOE’s request to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) would upend decades of energy market policy by guaranteeing cost recovery for power plants with 90 days of fuel supply on-site — something that only nuclear power, a few hydropower sites, and some larger coal power plants can provide.

“If you can guarantee me that the wind is going to blow tomorrow, if you can guarantee me that the sun’s going to get to the solar panels…then I’ll buy into that. But you can’t,” said Perry.

The notice of public rulemaking, or NOPR, implies that there is a looming threat to grid reliability due to coal and nuclear power plant retirements. Its conclusions are largely based on an incomplete analysis of the 2014 polar vortex, which could have led to blackouts had several coal-fired plants now slated for closure not been available to serve the load.

The move has been widely criticized by clean energy advocates as politically motivated and factually unproven, and has drawn a backlash from major sectors of the energy industry.

Read more:

Federal regulators rejected the plan, on the grounds that Rick Perry failed to provide enough evidence that retiring coal and nuclear plants was undermining grid stability. The plan was eventually dropped, after vigorous lobbying from gas and renewable energy groups.

Now that the scenario Rick Perry predicted has actually happened in Texas, it seems pretty obvious the Rick Perry was right about the risks. Nuclear power plants and fossil fuel plants which had access to adequate fuel supplies mostly stayed fully operational.

Why is government intervention required to ensure grid resilience?

Keeping several months worth of fuel onsite is a cost which does not contribute to company profits. The cost of all that reserve fuel represents money which could instead have been used to pay down capital debts, or pay out dividends to shareholders. Power companies which choose to wear this kind of expense are at a competitive disadvantage compared to power companies which run leaner operations, by running their reserves down to the bare minimum. The expense of keeping fuel in reserve impacts market share and company growth; consumers frequently flock to the lowest price energy service, without considering the long term consequences.

Rick Perry’s plan would have eliminated the financial penalty for keeping a fuel reserve onsite, by compensating power companies for the cost of maintaining substantial fuel reserves.

Given resilience payments seem to be a workable solution, will President Biden or Texas Governor Greg Abbott implement the 2017 Trump / Perry energy resilience plan, to ensure nothing like the Texas power outage disaster ever happens again?

February 20, 2021 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | | 8 Comments

France: Macron Government Looks to Outlaw More Anti-Immigration Activist Groups

By Eric Striker | National Justice | February 20, 2021

Two Jewish organizations in France, CRIF (Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions) and LICRA (International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism), are lobbying the embattled Emmanuel Macron government into beginning the process of outlawing Generation Identitaire (GI), a group that uses art and symbolic gestures to protest against globalization and immigration.

According to French media, Macron and a wide variety of Jewish groups believe that outlawing GI and other “far-right” groups could be useful in undermining Marine Le Pen’s 2022 electoral prospects.

The government in France has been aggressively disbanding nationalist groups in recent years. In 2019, the CRIF pressured the Macron government into moving forward on banning Bastion Social, a patriotic group made up mostly of students that advocated for the ethnic French poor, after its members defended themselves from repeated attacks by criminals and anarchists. Bastion Social’s headquarters in Lyons, which sought to provide shelter to the homeless, was raided and closed down by the police.

While the media repeatedly links Le Pen to GI’s publicity efforts that bring attention to the immigration problem in Europe, she has prohibited members of her party, Le Rassemblement national (RN), from protesting in defense of GI’s right to advocacy. Her father, Jean Marie Le Pen, has publicly condemned her for the decision.

Starting in 2011, Le Pen has purged numerous members — including her own father — for opposing homosexuality, Zionism, or a variety of other positions. This has allowed her party to receive somewhat friendlier treatment in some circles of the French elite, most notably BFM TV which is controlled by the Jewish plutocrat Alain Weill.

Le Pen’s shift away from an ethnic grounded nationalism towards a more liberal type focused on the effects of Islamic culture has helped her party avoid banishment and state pressure, but Macron has cynically capitalized on this. Macron has been aggressively campaigning against Islam after the brutal murder of a liberal French teacher, leaving Le Pen vulnerable to being outflanked on her main issue in next year’s election.

As for GI, much of the commotion created around them is based on lies. The organization specifically bans “anti-Semites” from membership, but this did not stop Zionist groups from inventing a brazen lie, claiming that they were chanting “dirty Jews” at one of their events (video emerged showing that the people chanting this were counter-protesters).

While Macron and his supporters have recently condemned the influence of anti-white American culture in their educational system, there is no reason to believe they are sincere. In France, the native majority is regularly persecuted for advocating for their own interests, particularly when their interests clash with the local Jewish power structure.

February 20, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 1 Comment

Congress Escalates Pressure on Tech Giants to Censor More, Threatening the First Amendment

In their zeal for control over online speech, House Democrats are getting closer and closer to the constitutional line, if they have not already crossed it.

By Glenn Greenwald | February 20, 2021

For the third time in less than five months, the U.S. Congress has summoned the CEOs of social media companies to appear before them, with the explicit intent to pressure and coerce them to censor more content from their platforms. On March 25, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will interrogate Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, Facebooks’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Sundar Pichai at a hearing which the Committee announced will focus “on misinformation and disinformation plaguing online platforms.”

The Committee’s Chair, Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), and the two Chairs of the Subcommittees holding the hearings, Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), said in a joint statement that the impetus was “falsehoods about the COVID-19 vaccine” and “debunked claims of election fraud.” They argued that “these online platforms have allowed misinformation to spread, intensifying national crises with real-life, grim consequences for public health and safety,” adding: “This hearing will continue the Committee’s work of holding online platforms accountable for the growing rise of misinformation and disinformation.”

House Democrats have made no secret of their ultimate goal with this hearing: to exert control over the content on these online platforms. “Industry self-regulation has failed,” they said, and therefore “we must begin the work of changing incentives driving social media companies to allow and even promote misinformation and disinformation.” In other words, they intend to use state power to influence and coerce these companies to change which content they do and do not allow to be published.

I’ve written and spoken at length over the past several years about the dangers of vesting the power in the state, or in tech monopolies, to determine what is true and false, or what constitutes permissible opinion and what does not. I will not repeat those points here.

Instead, the key point raised by these last threats from House Democrats is an often-overlooked one: while the First Amendment does not apply to voluntary choices made by a private company about what speech to allow or prohibit, it does bar the U.S. Government from coercing or threatening such companies to censor. In other words, Congress violates the First Amendment when it attempts to require private companies to impose viewpoint-based speech restrictions which the government itself would be constitutionally barred from imposing.

It may not be easy to draw where the precise line is — to know exactly when Congress has crossed from merely expressing concerns into unconstitutional regulation of speech through its influence over private companies — but there is no question that the First Amendment does not permit indirect censorship through regulatory and legal threats.

Ben Wizner, Director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, told me that while a constitutional analysis depends on a variety of factors including the types of threats issued and how much coercion is amassed, it is well-established that the First Amendment governs attempts by Congress to pressure private companies to censor:

For the same reasons that the Constitution prohibits the government from dictating what information we can see and read (outside narrow limits), it also prohibits the government from using its immense authority to coerce private actors into censoring on its behalf.

In a January Wall Street Journal op-ed, tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and Yale Law School’s constitutional scholar Jed Rubenfeld warned that Congress is rapidly approaching this constitutional boundary if it has not already transgressed it. “Using a combination of statutory inducements and regulatory threats,” the duo wrote, “Congress has co-opted Silicon Valley to do through the back door what government cannot directly accomplish under the Constitution.”

That article compiled just a small sample of case law making clear that efforts to coerce private actors to censor speech implicate core First Amendment free speech guarantees. In Norwood v. Harrison (1973), for instance, the Court declared it “axiomatic” — a basic legal principle — that Congress “may not induce, encourage or promote private persons to accomplish what it is constitutionally forbidden to accomplish.” They noted: “For more than half a century courts have held that governmental threats can turn private conduct into state action.”

In 2018, the ACLU successfully defended the National Rifle Association (NRA) in suing Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York State on the ground that attempts of state officials to coerce private companies to cease doing business with the NRA using implicit threats — driven by Cuomo’s contempt for the NRA’s political views — amounted to a violation of the First Amendment. Because, argued the ACLU, the communications of Cuomo’s aides to banks and insurance firms “could reasonably be interpreted as a threat of retaliatory enforcement against firms that do not sever ties with gun promotion groups,” that conduct ran afoul of the well-established principle “that the government may violate the First Amendment through ‘action that falls short of a direct prohibition against speech,’ including by retaliation or threats of retaliation against speakers.” In sum, argued the civil liberties group in reasoning accepted by the court:

Courts have never required plaintiffs to demonstrate that the government directly attempted to suppress their protected expression in order to establish First Amendment retaliation, and they have often upheld First Amendment retaliation claims involving adverse economic action designed to chill speech indirectly.

In explaining its rationale for defending the NRA, the ACLU described how easily these same state powers could be abused by a Republican governor against liberal activist groups — for instance, by threatening banks to cease providing services to Planned Parenthood or LGBT advocacy groups. When the judge rejected Cuomo’s motion to dismiss the NRA’s lawsuit, Reuters explained the key lesson in its headline:

Perhaps the ruling most relevant to current controversies occurred in the 1963 Supreme Court case Bantam Books v. SullivanIn the name of combatting the “obscene, indecent and impure,” the Rhode Island legislature instituted a commission to notify bookstores when they determined a book or magazine to be “objectionable,” and requested their “cooperation” by removing it and refusing to sell it any longer. Four book publishers and distributors sued, seeking a declaration that this practice was a violation of the First Amendment even though they were never technically forced to censor. Instead, they ceased selling the flagged books “voluntarily” due to fear of the threats implicit in the “advisory” notices received from the state.

In a statement that House Democrats and their defenders would certainly invoke to justify what they are doing with Silicon Valley, Rhode Island officials insisted that they were not unconstitutionally censoring because their scheme “does not regulate or suppress obscenity, but simply exhorts booksellers and advises them of their legal rights.”

In rejecting that disingenuous claim, the Supreme Court conceded that “it is true that [plaintiffs’] books have not been seized or banned by the State, and that no one has been prosecuted for their possession or sale.” Nonetheless, the Court emphasized that Rhode Island’s legislature — just like these House Democrats summoning tech executives — had been explicitly clear that their goal was the suppression of speech they disliked: “the Commission deliberately set about to achieve the suppression of publications deemed ‘objectionable,’ and succeeded in its aim.” And the Court emphasized that the barely disguised goal of the state was to intimidate these private book publishers and distributors into censoring by issuing implicit threats of punishment for non-compliance:

It is true, as noted by the Supreme Court of Rhode Island, that [the book distributor] was “free” to ignore the Commission’s notices, in the sense that his refusal to “cooperate” would have violated no law. But it was found as a fact — and the finding, being amply supported by the record, binds us — that [the book distributor’s] compliance with the Commission’s directives was not voluntary. People do not lightly disregard public officers’ thinly veiled threats to institute criminal proceedings against them if they do not come around, and [the distributor’s] reaction, according to uncontroverted testimony, was no exception to this general rule. The Commission’s notices, phrased virtually as orders, reasonably understood to be such by the distributor, invariably followed up by police visitations, in fact stopped the circulation of the listed publications ex proprio vigore [by its own force]. It would be naive to credit the State’s assertion that these blacklists are in the nature of mere legal advice when they plainly serve as instruments of regulation.

In sum, concluded the Bantam Books Court: “their operation was in fact a scheme of state censorship effectuated by extra-legal sanctions; they acted as an agency not to advise but to suppress.”

Little effort is required to see that Democrats, now in control of the Congress and the White House, are engaged in a scheme of speech control virtually indistinguishable from those long held unconstitutional by decades of First Amendment jurisprudence. That Democrats are seeking to use their control of state power to coerce and intimidate private tech companies to censor — and indeed have already succeeded in doing so — is hardly subject to reasonable debate. They are saying explicitly that this is what they are doing.

Because “big tech has failed to acknowledge the role they’ve played in fomenting and elevating blatantly false information to its online audiences,” said the Committee Chairs again summoning the social media companies, “we must begin the work of changing incentives driving social media companies to allow and even promote misinformation and disinformation.”

The Washington Post, in reporting on this latest hearing, said the Committee intends to “take fresh aim at the tech giants for failing to crack down on dangerous political falsehoods and disinformation about the coronavirus.” And lurking behind these calls for more speech policing are pending processes that could result in serious punishment for these companies, including possible antitrust actions and the rescission of Section 230 immunity from liability.

This dynamic has become so common that Democrats now openly pressure Silicon Valley companies to censor content they dislike. In the immediate aftermath of the January 6 Capitol riot, when it was falsely claimed that Parler was the key online venue for the riot’s planning — Facebook, Google’s YouTube and Facebook’s Instagram were all more significant — two of the most prominent Democratic House members, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), used their large social media platforms to insist that Silicon Valley monopolies remove Parler from their app stores and hosting services:

Within twenty-four hours, all three Silicon Valley companies complied with these “requests,” and took the extraordinary step of effectively removing Parler — at the time the most-downloaded app on the Apple Store — from the internet. We will likely never know what precise role those tweets and other pressure from liberal politicians and journalists played in their decisions, but what is clear is that Democrats are more than willing to use their power and platforms to issue instructions to Silicon Valley about what they should and should not permit to be heard.

Leading liberal activists and some powerful Democratic politicians, such as then-presidential-candidate Kamala Harris, had long demanded former President Donald Trump’s removal from social media. After the Democrats won the White House — indeed, the day after Democrats secured control of both houses of Congress with two wins in the Georgia Senate run-offs — Twitter, Facebook and other online platforms banned Trump, citing the Capitol riot as the pretext.

While Democrats cheered, numerous leaders around the world, including many with no affection for Trump, warned of how dangerous this move was. Long-time close aide of the Clintons, Jennifer Palmieri, posted a viral tweet candidly acknowledging — and clearly celebrating — why this censorship occurred. With Democrats now in control of the Congressional committees and Executive Branch agencies that regulate Silicon Valley, these companies concluded it was in their best interest to censor the internet in accordance with the commands and wishes of the party that now wields power in Washington:

The last time CEOs of social media platforms were summoned to testify before Congress, Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) explicitly told them that what Democrats want is more censorship — more removal of content which they believe constitutes “disinformation” and “hate speech.” He did not even bother to hide his demands: “The issue is not that the companies before us today are taking too many posts down; the issue is that they are leaving too many dangerous posts up”:

When it comes to censorship of politically adverse content, sometimes explicit censorship demands are unnecessary. Where a climate of censorship prevails, companies anticipate what those in power want them to do by anticipatorily self-censoring to avoid official retaliation. Speech is chilled without direct censorship orders being required.

That is clearly what happened after Democrats spent four years petulantly insisting that they lost the 2016 election not because they chose a deeply disliked nominee or because their neoliberal ideology wrought so much misery and destruction, but instead, they said, because Facebook and Twitter allowed the unfettered circulation of incriminating documents hacked by Russia. Anticipating that Democrats were highly likely to win in 2020, the two tech companies decided in the weeks before the election — in what I regard as the single most menacing act of censorship of the last decade — to suppress or outright ban reporting by The New York Post on documents from Hunter Biden’s laptop that raised serious questions about the ethics of the Democratic front-runner for president. That is a classic case of self-censorship to please state officials who wield power over you.

All of this raises the vital question of where power really resides when it comes to controlling online speech. In January, the far-right commentator Curtis Yarvin, whose analysis is highly influential among a certain sector of Silicon Valley, wrote a provocative essay under the headline “Big tech has no power at all.” In essence, he wrote, Facebook as a platform is extremely powerful, but other institutions — particularly the corporate/oligarchical press and the government — have seized that power from Zuckerberg, and re-purposed it for their own interests, such that Facebook becomes their servant rather than the master:

However, if Zuck is subject to some kind of oligarchic power, he is in exactly the same position as his own moderators. He exercises power, but it is not his power, because it is not his will. The power does not flow from him; it flows through him. This is why we can say honestly and seriously that he has no power. It is not his, but someone else’s.

Why doth Zuck ban shitlords? Is the creator of “Facemash” passionately committed to social justice? Well, maybe. He may have no power, but he is still a bigshot. Bigshots often do get religion in later life—especially when everyone around them is getting it. But—does he have a choice? If he has no choice—he has no power.

For reasons not fully relevant here, I don’t agree entirely with that paradigm. Tech monopolies have enormous amounts of power, sometimes greater than nation-states themselves. We just saw that in Google and Facebook’s battles with the entire country of Australia. And they frequently go to war with state efforts to regulate them. But it is unquestionably true that these social media platforms — which set out largely for reasons of self-interest and secondarily due to a free-internet ideology — have had the censorship obligation foisted upon them by a combination of corporate media outlets and powerful politicians.

One might think of tech companies, the corporate media, the U.S. security state, and Democrats more as a union — a merger of power — rather than separate and warring factions. But whatever framework you prefer, it is clear that the power of social media companies to control the internet is in the hands of government and its corporate media allies at least as much as it is in the hands of the tech executives who nominally manage these platforms.

And it is precisely that reality that presents serious First Amendment threats. As the above-discussed Supreme Court jurisprudence demonstrates, this form of indirect and implicit state censorship is not new. Back in 2010, the war hawk Joe Lieberman abused his position as Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee to “suggest” that financial services and internet hosting companies such as Visa, MasterCard, Paypal, Amazon and Bank of America, should terminate their relationship with WikiLeaks on the ground that the group, which was staunchly opposed to Lieberman’s imperialism and militarism, posed a national security threat. Lieberman hinted that they may face legal liability if they continued to process payments for WikiLeaks.

Unsurprisingly, these companies quickly obeyed Lieberman’s decree, preventing the group from collecting donations. When I reported on these events for Salon, I noted:

That Joe Lieberman is abusing his position as Homeland Security Chairman to thuggishly dictate to private companies which websites they should and should not host — and, more important, what you can and cannot read on the Internet — is one of the most pernicious acts by a U.S. Senator in quite some time. Josh Marshall wrote yesterday: “When I’d heard that Amazon had agreed to host Wikileaks I was frankly surprised given all the fish a big corporation like Amazon has to fry with the federal government.” That’s true of all large corporations that own media outlets — every one — and that is one big reason why they’re so servile to U.S. Government interests and easily manipulated by those in political power. That’s precisely the dynamic Lieberman was exploiting with his menacing little phone call to Amazon (in essence: Hi, this is the Senate’s Homeland Security Committee calling; you’re going to be taking down that WikiLeaks site right away, right?). Amazon, of course, did what they were told.

(Along with Daniel Ellsberg, Laura Poitras and others, I co-founded the Freedom of the Press Foundation in part to collect donations on behalf of WikiLeaks to ensure that the government could never again shut down press groups that it disliked through such pressure campaigns and implicit threats, precisely because it was so clear that this indirect means of attacking press freedom was dangerous and unconstitutional).

What made Lieberman’s implicit threats in the name of “national security” so despotic was that they were clearly intended to punish and silence a group working against his political agenda. And that is precisely true of the motives of these House Democrats in demanding greater censorship in the name of combating “misinformation” and “hate speech”: their demands almost always, if not always, mean silencing those who are opposed to their ideology and political agenda. As but one example: one is perfectly free to opine online, as many Democrats do, that the 2000, 2004 and 2016 presidential elections (won by Republicans) were the by-products of electoral fraud, but making that same claim about the 2020 election (won by a Democrat) will result in immediate banning.

The power to control the flow of information and the boundaries of permissible speech is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime. It is a power as intoxicating as it is menacing. When it comes to the internet, our primary means of communicating with one another, that power nominally rests in the hands of private corporations in Silicon Valley.

But increasingly, the Democratic-controlled government and their allies in the corporate media are realizing that they can indirectly and through coercion seize and wield that power for themselves. The First Amendment is implicated by these coercive actions as much as if Congress enacted laws explicitly mandating censorship of their political opponents.

February 20, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite | | 1 Comment

Charities “Wasting” Money On Staff Unconscious Bias Training

By Richie Allen | February 20, 2021

Some of the UK’s biggest charities have been criticised for spending donations on “unconscious bias” training for staff. Companies pay for courses, often delivered online, where staff are taught to accept that even though they don’t think so, they are in fact inherently racist. The Red Cross and The Alzheimer’s Society are among the charities throwing away public donations on this utter nonsense.

The government scrapped it last year. Previously civil servants had to undergo it, but ministers rightly deemed it a waste of money. The Telegraph newspaper said today that as many as 120 charities are sending staff on courses that will make them aware of their bias. Speaking to the Telegraph, the MP Ben Bradley said:

“Whether they are ticking a diversity box or showing how lovely they are, that money really should be put toward the purpose of the charity. I hope in future that if charities waste the money people donate on things like this then the Government will be able to step in.”

In response, Corinne Mills, director of people and organisational development at Alzheimer’s Society, said:

“Unconscious bias training, offered online only, is one of a number of modules provided to the whole workforce aimed at increasing awareness, skills and confidence on equality, diversity and inclusion. We offer this core training as part of our wider commitment to ensure we have an inclusive workplace that demonstrates respect and values diversity.”

Core training. Gimme a break. What a load of tosh. Lewis Feilder, writing in the Spectator last August said;

We should be worried that firms are seeking to reprogramme their employees’ trains of thought, often through mandatory training, in which the refusal to participate would result in disciplinary action. When delivered by an amateur (and the people teaching these courses are not clinical psychologists), meddling with someone’s subconscious is like sticking a screwdriver into an aircraft engine and waggling it about in the hope it might fix something. We should be very worried about a corporate culture which encourages employers to tinker with their employees’ psyches in whatever manner they see fit, particularly when driven by pseudoscience they barely understand.

I think that it might be part of an agenda to gaslight the population. Telling people that they are subconsciously biased or racist is one part of it. I’ve explored this on The Richie Allen Show. Government and media are constantly breaking us down by telling us we are racist, homophobic, transphobic, anti-Semitic, not inclusive enough, not diverse enough and on and on.

It’s psychological abuse. When you inflict this sort of emotional distress on an individual, it leaves them feeling worthless and helpless. The military does it to new recruits. The idea is to break the young private mentally and then build him/her back the way you want them to be, in the army’s case, a killer. It’s not such a stretch to suggest that it can be used against the population. I think it has been going on for years.

Maybe, just maybe, it goes some way to explaining why the public rolled over and accepted the tyranny of lockdown. Maybe we’re not mentally equipped to stand up to our totalitarian governments as we’ve been stripped of the ability to recognise what is happening. I know that identity politics plays a big part here too, something else I have covered extensively on the radio show.

Richie Allen is the host of The Richie Allen Radio show, Europe’s most listened to independent radio show and is a passionate supporter of free speech. He lives in Salford with the future Mrs Allen and their two dogs.

February 20, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , | Leave a comment

Ex-MP Williamson slams University of Bristol for failure to defend anti-Zionist professor

RT | February 19, 2021

Former Derby North MP Chris Williamson has called out the University of Bristol for its “outrageous lack of solidarity” with sociology Professor David Miller, currently under attack by the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews has been targeting Miller, a professor in the University of Bristol’s sociology department, with a series of accusations, most recently blaming the academic on Friday for putting Jewish students at risk of “real physical harm” by sharing his view that the “Zionist movement” is the “enemy of world peace.” The group’s latest letter was addressed to Hugh Brady, the university’s vice chancellor.

Specifically, Miller had stated that Jewish students on UK university campuses were “being used as political pawns by a violent, racist foreign regime engaged in ethnic cleansing” – that is, the Israeli government. The Board of Deputies framed the statement as targeting the students themselves, even though “being used as political pawns” suggests that they are being led by the nose.

Williamson, a former Labour MP, tore into Brady for his university’s failure to muster more than a “mealy-mouthed response” to attacks by a “politically motivated lynch mob,” a lack of action that had encouraged “bad faith actors to continue pursuing this censorship drive.”

Williamson should know. He is no stranger to spurious allegations of anti-Semitism himself, and was suspended from the Labour Party for arguing that it had apologized unnecessarily for something of which it was not guilty – namely, the ‘chronic anti-Semitism’ the party was accused of by its own Blairite faction and media collaborators. Williamson witnessed the danger of excessive apologies secondhand, having watched his colleague Jeremy Corbyn get slowly buried under a pile of unnecessary apologies as the party’s phantom anti-Semitism plague invited further attacks upon him.

Declaring the rhetorical assault on Miller to be part and parcel of “a pernicious campaign of censorship that is currently being waged against British universities by apologists for the state of Israel,” Williamson urged Brady to come forward with “an unambiguous statement in support of Professor Miller,” to whom – as his employer – he owed it to protect him from “malicious complaints.”

Miller himself refused to be silenced, issuing a statement on Friday morning that affirmed his belief that “Zionism is and always has been a racist, violent, imperialist ideology premised on ethnic cleansing.” Hitting back at the Union of Jewish Students, who he accused of targeting him with “a campaign of manufactured hysteria for two years” in an effort to have him fired, he claimed the group even planted a fake student in one of his classes, who was not registered for the class at all, but was merely there “for the purpose of political surveillance.”

Miller concluded that the war on academics critical of Zionism was “an age-old Israel lobby tactic imported from the US, where academics are routinely harassed for teaching about Zionism and its effects.” Should any other foreign lobby try such an approach, they would be “laughed out of the room,” Miller pointed out, insisting “Israel and its advocates deserve the same treatment.”

Far from rendering Jewish students unsafe, Miller declared, the campaign of censorship against critics of the Zionist regime put Arab and Muslim students in danger – as well as anti-Zionist Jewish students.

While the comments about Zionism seem to have topped the list of the Board of Deputies’ grievances, the professor was also denounced as a conspiracy theorist for directing the Organization for Propaganda Studies (which, among other wrongthink views, takes issue with the squeaky-clean image of Syria’s White Helmets favored in the UK and US). Additionally, his concerns over the meddling of pro-Israel organizations in the previous two UK elections were pooh-poohed as mere fantasy, even though in one case an Israeli foreign agent was actually discovered working undercover in Labour Friends of Israel, caught on film plotting the downfall of Corbyn and his allies.

February 20, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | 1 Comment

Iran Describes as Invalid Any US Return to JCPOA without Lifting Sanctions

Al-Manar | February 20, 2021

Iran’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations said that any signature to return to JCPOA is invalid without verification of Tehran.

“During the Obama administration, we also sent reports to the JCPOA coordinator, protesting the actions of the United States at that time against its obligations,” said Majid Takht-Ravanchi in an interview with

“Now, they have imposed three kinds of sanctions on us. If none of this is repealed, there is no point in returning of the United States to the JCPOA,” he added.

“It is of no value to just say that I am ready to return to the JCPOA if the sanctions are not be lifted in practice,” the Iranian diplomat said, adding, “We can not just sign an agreement. It does not make sense if the signature is not accompanied by a process for verifying the actions.”

He highlighted, “If it is announced that the embargo on Iranian oil has been lifted, there must be guarantees that there will be no problem in selling oil, and the buyer can be able to easily transfer the money to Iran through the global banking system.”

“The Europeans told us to wait and we would compensate for the withdrawal of the US. But not only did they not compensate, but they also did not fulfill their obligations under the JCPOA,” Takht-Ravanchi noted.

After the illegitimate US exit from the JCPOA in May 2018, the three European signatories to the deal remained indifferent to making up for Iran’s losses.

Amid the Europeans’ lack of action, Iran took five steps to reduce its commitments to the deal while vowing that it will reverse the course as soon as the other parties live up to their commitments under the accord.

Recently, the Iranian parliament passed a bill, dubbed the Strategic Action Plan to Counter Sanctions in early last December, setting a Feb. 21 deadline for Biden to lift the US sanctions. Otherwise, Iran will halt inspections of its nuclear sites by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and further boost uranium enrichment.

Iran has so far resumed 20% uranium enrichment at Fordow plant in accordance with the Parliament’s legislation and has warned that in the case Washington does not remove all the anti-Iran illegitimate sanctions, it will also stop voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol, which gives IAEA inspectors unannounced visits to Iranian facilities.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has emphasized that for Tehran, the return of the United States to the JCPOA is not an important issue, but what is important is the lifting of US sanctions against Iran.

February 20, 2021 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , | 2 Comments