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Atlantic Council urges Biden to enforce regime change in Belarus

By Paul Antonopoulos | February 18, 2021

A recent online meeting hosted by the Atlantic Council think tank discussed ways to force regime change in Belarus. The think tank detailed a plan with the aim of removing Aleksander Lukashenko, the current president of Belarus, from power by utilizing sanctions and other methods of pressure.

The Washington-based Atlantic Council is affiliated with NATO and receives funding from international billionaires like Adrienne Arsht, global companies like Goldman Sachs, Facebook and Google, as well as the Rockefeller Foundation and the JPMorgan Chase Foundation. These are only a few examples of their extensive funding. Some of the most powerful and influential figures in the world participate in the operations of the think tank, as well as a representative of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Belarus’ main opposition figure.

Objectives of the virtual meeting, entitled “Biden and Belarus: A strategy for the new administration,” includes organizing Washington’s control over the Belarussian opposition movement. In addition, they suggest a new position for a senior organizer to administer and maintain sanctions against Minsk, and appoint a senior official to administer assistance to the opposition. Their agenda also emphasized recognizing Tikhanovskaya’s position as the true leader of Belarus and delegitimizing Lukashenko by relocating the newly appointed U.S. ambassador to the Belarussian capital of Minsk, Julie Fisher, to the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius.

The Atlantic Council also suggested that U.S. Congressional funding for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty must be doubled from its current $117.4 million. The think tank also called for the U.S. to offer more advice to Belarussian opposition leaders. John Herbst, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, suggested in the virtual meeting that Belarussian opposition leaders should reduce public expressions about their aspirations for Minsk to be involved in Western security councils like NATO and economic structures like the European Union so that they do not provoke any response from Moscow.

Economist Anders Åslund, who is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center, also suggested that sanctions should be applied to companies in Russia and not Belarus. He argued that if sanctions hit Belarus, Minsk would be more dependent on Moscow. He also advised the Biden administration to sanction hundreds of Belarussian officials, saying that the aim of the sanctions is to put enough pressure on Belarus so that Lukashenko has no choice but to relinquish power. Åslund emphasized that this is really a group of regime change sanctions. In addition, the think tank suggested that the U.S. should increase its funding of the Belarussian opposition from $60 million to $200 million, saying that this amount came from Belarussian activists themselves.

As Åslund himself says, these measures exist entirely to force regime change against a sovereign nation. The mission of the Atlantic Council is to encourage and embolden the U.S. to control the Belarussian opposition movement with the aim of overthrowing Lukashenko. At the same time, the think tank claims that it respects Belarus’ sovereignty. However, it is evident that the think tank does not respect the sovereignty or self-determination of the Belarussian people and simply wants the Biden administration to install a lackey into power to continue Washington’s campaign of pressure against Russia.

If the Biden administration adopts the recommendations made by the Atlantic Council, this would not only cause significant tensions and further divisions in Belarus, but would also increase tensions between Washington and Moscow, which are already extremely strained.

The Atlantic Council promotes Western hegemony and a U.S.-led unipolar world order. The think tank is ranked seventh in the category of “2020 Top Think Tanks in the United States,” and tenth globally. Along with funding from the world’s richest people and most powerful corporations, the Atlantic Council wields great influence in not only NATO, but also various U.S. power structures like the White House and the Pentagon. For this reason, there is every chance that at some point during Biden’s presidential mandate that he will engage in a significant campaign of pressure against Belarus with the ultimate aim of further isolating Russia in Eastern Europe.

As the Atlantic Council attempts to maintain a U.S.-led unipolar order, Russia is one of its main targets because the Eurasian country inhibits American dominance over large areas of the Caucasus, Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Because Belarus is the sole friendly state in Eastern Europe towards Russia, Lukashenko’s removal from power will open the path for Russia to be completely isolated in the region. Biden also champions a U.S.-led unipolar order, and because of this there is every chance that at some point in the future he will enact the Atlantic Council’s program against Belarus to target Russia.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst.

February 18, 2021 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 1 Comment

Leaked emails show Anders Aslund, the Atlantic Council’s Russia-basher in chief, tried to solicit funds from Russian billionaires

By Kit Klarenberg | RT | December 2, 2020

Internal Atlantic Council emails reveal the NATO-connected ‘think tank’ aggressively schmoozed the obscenely wealthy owners of Russia’s Alfa Bank, in order to secure a slice of their vast riches.

The communications have been released publicly as a result of the ongoing defamation case brought against Fusion GPS and its founder and chief Glenn Simpson in a Washington, DC court, by Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven and German Khan, the owners of Alfa Bank. The three allege false allegations against them in the ‘Trump-Russia dossier’, produced for Fusion GPS by former MI6 operative Christopher Steele, damaged their reputation.

The now-notorious and utterly discredited dossier alleged they and the bank maintained a covert communications channel with Donald Trump, and moreover delivered “large amounts of illicit cash” to Vladimir Putin when he was deputy mayor of St. Petersburg in the 1990s.

In July, the trio were awarded damages in a separate action brought against Orbis Intelligence, Steele’s private espionage firm, in London after Judge Mark Warby ruled the dossier’s allegations were “inaccurate or misleading” and the former spy had failed to take reasonable steps to verify the claims.

‘We got nothing’

In May 2016, coincidentally around the same time the Democratic National Committee hired Fusion GPS to investigate Trump, the Atlantic Council caught wind of the fact Alfa Bank’s owners wished to give away the entirety of their fortunes to charitable causes while alive, and saw a prime opportunity for grift.

Writing to the think tank’s top executives, Council ‘senior fellow’ Anders Aslund lustily noted their intention, and respective net worth of Fridman ($15 billion) and Aven ($5 billion).

“This could open an opportunity. To date Fridman has been extremely stingy,” Aslund stated rapaciously. “Rich Burt represents both Fridman and Aven quite intensely. I shall tentatively have dinner with Aven in Moscow Sunday night so I might be able to ask him what he wants. As you remember, we hosted him here in November and got nothing.”

That the November 2015 event left the Council empty-handed was undoubtedly a crushing disappointment for Aslund, given he went to great lengths to be highly accommodating to Aven, letting him pick the time and format of his Council talk, the number of attendees, and more.

“Our preference would be a lunch talk, but please indicate what time that suits you. Do you want a private off the-record meeting with 20-24 people or a bigger public meeting? The choice is yours,” he wrote to Aven.

Aslund added chummily that whenever the billionaire had spare time in Washington, he and his wife Anna were “always happy” to see him. However, there were some organizational problems.

In an email to Council higher-ups, Aslund’s colleague Alison Perry suggests Aven wished to invite “former Russian propaganda minister” Mikhail Lesin to the meeting, to which Aslund initially agreed. However, the Council subsequently learned Lesin was under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for money laundering, and was forced to “find a polite way” of letting Aven know Lesin was no longer welcome.

The volte face was presumably begrudging in extremis, given Lesin’s purportedly immense wealth – five properties in California alone allegedly owned by companies affiliated with his family were worth a combined US$28 million. In a bizarre twist, the day after the Council event, he was found dead in a Washington, DC hotel room. Authorities concluded he died of blunt-force trauma to the head, induced by falling due to acute alcohol intoxication.

‘Nothing must be reported’

Fast forward to October 15, 2017, and Aslund’s gold-digging scheme was in full swing – he wrote to Council staff stating invitations for a “small, private, off-the-record breakfast” on October 26 with Fridman and Aven needed to be sent to a number of powerful individuals.

Proposed attendees included representatives of the US State Department, National Security Council, Treasury, Congress, Senate, and other influential government-funded think tanks, including the Council on Foreign Relations, Brookings Institute, RAND Corporation, and others. The senior fellow was keen to stress no journalists should be invited.

Aslund’s long-running effort to curry favor with Alfa Bank’s owners is highly ironic given his vociferous promotion of the Steele dossier, which in June 2017 he dubbed “outstanding intelligence.”

In February the next year, he wrote an essay for the Council stating the “reasons to believe Steele are multiple and overwhelming,” and slamming the refusal of the mainstream media to publicize the dossier during the 2016 presidential campaign due to the unverifiable nature of most of its contents.

Claiming news outlets had “confused the profession of journalism with that of prosecution,” Aslund also expressed contempt for the philosophy that “if not everything is proven correct, nothing must be reported” – a rather troubling indictment, given the Council’s ‘anti-fake news’ partnership with Facebook, and claims to be “on the front lines of disinformation.”

“The US media missed the greatest scandal of the 2016 election campaign because they were so stuck in medieval liturgy it rendered them incapable of reporting the truth… The question is not whether the Kremlin helped Trump win the election but whether it can be proved in court and whether it is punishable according to all too arcane US law, which could not even sentence Al Capone for anything but tax evasion,” he fulminated.

Strikingly, the essay has since been “retracted and removed” from the organization’s website.

What claims in the dossier can be verified have since been proven to be total fiction, its contents drunken tittle-tattle provided to Steele by Brookings Institute staffer Igor Danchenko. In interviews with the FBI in February 2017, he expressed dismay this gossip had been used to secure surveillance warrants against individuals connected to the Trump campaign.

Nonetheless, Aslund still views the dossier as “largely credible,” and has even praised the “excellent” and “knowledgeable” Danchenko, who somewhat amazingly was a student of his at Georgetown University.

‘Corrupt politically exposed persons’

Aslund’s fundraising activities are doubly ironic given in 2019 he authored ‘Russia’s Crony Capitalism’, a book documenting the country’s alleged descent from a “market economy to kleptocracy.”

In March this year, he predicted this shift would contribute to Russia’s economic collapse in the very near future. It was at least the fourth occasion Aslund has foretold the country’s impending and unstoppable implosion, having previously – and incorrectly – done so in 1999, 2001, and 2014.

All along, his willingness to personally profit from the very financial activities he condemns has endured untrammeled. In June 2018, Aslund was appointed to the supervisory board of Ukrainian state railway Ukrzaliznytsia – he resigned in September this year.

In explaining his decision, he claimed he was exposed to “excessive” legal risks by not being provided directors’ and officers’ liability insurance, and said many of the board’s decisions hadn’t been implemented by Ukrzaliznytsia’s management.

Principled enough, but there was also the small issue of directors not having been paid since April. Or, at least, not paid enough – earlier this year, President Volodymyr Zelensky capped salaries of public employees as well as members of management and supervisory boards of state-owned companies at 10 times the official minimum salary, about $1,700 a month, from April 1 to the end of quarantine.

In a statement to Interfax, Aslund moaned that while presented as a temporary emergency measure, “it might persist” even longer, an obviously horrifying and unacceptable prospect for the closeted kleptocrat.

“Members of parliament attack foreign members of supervisory boards of state-owned Ukrainian companies for being foreigners and having been paid too much, but we have been paid nothing since April,” he raged bitterly.

The month after his supervisory board appointment, BuzzFeed revealed Aslund was paid to write a paper alleging financial institutions in Latvia, long-lambasted as lairs of criminality and corruption, had made tremendous strides in enforcing anti-money laundering statutes – by the very banks involved. It was commissioned by Sally Painter, a lobbyist for Baltic banks and member of the Council’s board of directors.

The organizations that lined Aslund’s pockets included a subsidiary of ABLV Bank, which at the time was attempting to secure permission to establish an office in the US. The effort was ultimately unsuccessful, as the US Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network concluded ABLV was a bank of “primary money laundering concern.”

“ABLV executives, shareholders, and employees have institutionalized money laundering… Management permits the bank and its employees to orchestrate and engage in money laundering schemes; solicits high risk shell company activity that enables the bank and its customers to launder funds; maintains inadequate controls over high-risk shell company accounts; and seeks to obstruct enforcement of Latvian anti-money laundering rules in order to protect these business practices,” the Treasury ruled.

Some of this illicit activity, the Treasury alleged, involved transactions for parties involved in North Korea’s procurement and export of ballistic missiles, and money laundering for “corrupt politically exposed persons.” ABLV was accused of funneling billions of dollars “in public corruption and asset-stripping proceeds through shell company accounts,” and failing to mitigate risks stemming from these accounts, “which involved large-scale illicit activity connected to Azerbaijan, Russia, and Ukraine.”

Shortly after the Treasury’s findings were made public, ABLV was forced to close – but Aslund told BuzzFeed he stood by his report, as it was “factually correct.”

The paper was presented at a private Council event in October 2017, the same month he was arranging that “small, private, off-the-record breakfast” with Alfa Bank’s owners.

It was convened despite Aslund’s research not being an official Council publication, and the think tank claiming it was written and published without its input. Perhaps unsurprisingly, no reference to the report or the event can be found on the Council’s website.

Snouts in trough

The email tranche indicates Aslund wasn’t the only Council apparatchik determined to get the think tank’s proverbial mitts in the Alfa Bank till.

In July 2015, Council chief executive Fred Kempe emailed Petr Aven about a fully-fledged partnership between the Council and Letter One, an Alfa Bank affiliate, and suggested there was “a larger role” for him to personally play at the Council.

All the Council’s approaches to Alfa Bank were allegedly unsuccessful, but there’s no shortage of dubious institutions and individuals all too willing to lavishly bankroll the think tank. Its donors currently include the US embassies of UAE and Bahrain, Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk, defense giant Raytheon, the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), and the US State Department.

From 2006 – 2016, the Council’s annual revenue leaped tenfold, from $2 million to $21 million – a period in which, concurrently and not coincidentally, corporate and state budgets typically reserved for lobbying firms were increasingly directed to think tanks.

Its board of directors comprises well-connected US government veterans Henry Kissinger, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Michael Hayden, David Petraeus, and many others. The emails related to Alfa Bank also name Council officials Richard Burt, Daniel Fried, John Herbst and Richard Morningstar, all previously US ambassadors to European and/or Eurasian countries.

Such close ties to the US national security state unquestionably allow for very effective, well-targeted lobbying on behalf of its bankrollers indeed. Except Alfa Bank refused to bite.

Kit Klarenberg is an investigative journalist exploring the role of intelligence services in shaping politics and perceptions. Follow Kit on Twitter @Kit Klarenberg

December 6, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Russophobia | , , , | Leave a comment

Does this explain why Facebook suppressed Hunter Biden revelations?

By Andrea Widburg | American Thinker | October 18, 2020

The moment the New York Post reported on some of the sleazy, corrupt details contained on Hunter Biden’s hard drive, Twitter and Facebook, the social media giants most closely connected to the way Americans exchange political information, went into overdrive to suppress the information and protect Joe Biden. In the case of Facebook, though, perhaps one of those protectors was, in fact, protecting herself.

The person currently in charge of Facebook’s election integrity program is Anna Makanju. That name probably doesn’t mean a lot to you, but it should mean a lot – and in a comforting way — to Joe Biden.

Before ending up at Facebook, Makanju was a nonresident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council. The Atlantic Council is an ostensibly non-partisan think tank that deals with international affairs. In fact, it’s a decidedly partisan organization.

In 2009, James L. Jones, the Atlantic Council’s chairman left the organization to be President Obama’s National Security Advisor. Susan Rice, Richard Holbrooke, Eric Shinseki, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Chuck Hagel, and Brent Scowcroft also were all affiliated with the Atlantic Council before they ended up in the Obama administration.

The Atlantic Council has received massive amounts of foreign funding over the years. Here’s one that should interest everyone: Burisma Holdings donated $300,000 dollars to the Atlantic Council, over the course of three consecutive years, beginning in 2016. The information below may explain why it began paying that money to the Council.

Not only was the Atlantic Council sending people into the Obama-Biden administration, but it was also serving as an outside advisor. And that gets us back to Anna Makanju, the person heading Facebook’s misleadingly titled “election integrity program.”

Makanju also worked at the Atlantic Council. The following is the relevant part of Makanju’s professional bio from her page at the Atlantic Council (emphasis mine):

Anna Makanju is a nonresident senior fellow with the Transatlantic Security Initiative. She is a public policy and legal expert working at Facebook, where she leads efforts to ensure election integrity on the platform. Previously, she was the special policy adviser for Europe and Eurasia to former US Vice President Joe Biden, senior policy adviser to Ambassador Samantha Power at the United States Mission to the United Nations, director for Russia at the National Security Council, and the chief of staff for European and NATO Policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. She has also taught at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University and worked as a consultant to a leading company focused on space technologies.

Makanju was a player in the faux Ukraine impeachment. Early in December 2019, when the Democrats were gearing up for the impeachment, Glenn Kessler mentioned her in an article assuring Washington Post readers that, contrary to the Trump administration’s claims, there was nothing corrupt about Biden’s dealings with Ukraine. He made the point then that Biden now raises as a defense: Biden didn’t pressure Ukraine to fire prosecutor Viktor Shokin to protect Burisma; he did it because Shokin wasn’t doing his job when it came to investigating corruption.

Kessler writes that, on the same day in February 2016 that then-Ukrainian President Poroshenko announced that Shokin had offered his resignation, Biden spoke to both Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. The White House version is that Biden gave both men pep talks about reforming the government and fighting corruption. And that’s where Makanju comes in:

Anna Makanju, Biden’s senior policy adviser for Ukraine at the time, also listened to the calls and said release of the transcripts would only strengthen Biden’s case that he acted properly. She helped Biden prepare for the conversations and said they operated at a high level, with Biden using language such as Poroshenko’s government being “nation builders for a transformation of Ukraine.”

A reference to a private company such as Burisma would be “too fine a level of granularity” for a call between Biden and the president of another country, Makanju told The Fact Checker. Instead, she said, the conversation focused on reforms demanded by the International Monetary Fund, methods to tackle corruption and military assistance. An investigation of “Burisma was just not significant enough” to mention, she said.

Let me remind you, in case you forgot, that Burisma started paying the Atlantic Council a lot of money in 2016, right when Makanju was advising Biden regarding getting rid of Shokin.

In other words, there’s a really good chance that Sundance was correct when he wrote at The Conservative Treehouse:

That’s right folks, the Facebook executive currently blocking all of the negative evidence of Hunter and Joe Biden’s corrupt activity in Ukraine is the same person who was coordinating the corrupt activity between the Biden family payoffs and Ukraine.

You just cannot make this stuff up folks.

The incestuous networking between Democrats in the White House, Congress, the Deep State, the media, and Big Tech never ends. That’s why the American people wanted and still want Trump, the true outsider, to head the government. They know that Democrats have turned American politics into one giant Augean Stable and that Trump is the Hercules who (we hope) can clean it out.

UPDATE: It turns out that Makanju also has a Soros connection, for she received a fellowship from a foundation that Soros’s brother, Paul, and his wife, Daisy, created for immigrants and their children. It does not appear that Paul Soros was part of his brother’s empire, but the Soros connection is still intriguing, as well as being another reminder that, no matter where you look on the left, the same names keep turning up.

October 19, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , | Leave a comment

Useful Idiot or Trojan Horse? Belarusian opposition figure Tikhanovskaya’s links to NATO’s Atlantic Council adjunct raise eyebrows

By Kit Klarenberg | RT | October 16, 2020

‘Accidental politician’ Svetlana Tikhanovskaya has captured the West’s imagination, her lack of political experience presenting an ideal blank canvas for news-narrative weaving – and all too easily manipulated by malign forces.

From the moment she announced her candidacy for the Belarusian presidency after her husband Sergey was spuriously jailed for electioneering activities that would be considered normal in the rest of Europe, Tikhanovskaya has been a darling of the Western media. With her improbable ascension from stay-at-home mother to leading opposition figure, then proto-revolutionary leader-in-exile, documented on an almost daily basis.

Along the way, Tikhanovskaya has been keen to stress the upheaval in Belarus is neither pro-Western nor pro-Russian in character, but pro-democracy, a key message reiterated uncritically over and again by mainstream journalists. However, not a single one has deigned to mention, much less question, the fact that one of her key confidantes, Franak Viacorka, is a ‘non-resident fellow’ at Atlantic Council, a think tank that aggressively propagandizes in support of NATO, and wider American financial, political, military and ideological interests in Europe and beyond.

This position isn’t mentioned in his Twitter bio, and it’s unclear precisely when he became Tikhanovskaya’s ‘international relations advisor.’ Viacorka’s Atlantic Council appointment was announced on August 15 – in a Washington Post op-ed published the same day, he and Melinda Haring, deputy director of the council’s Eurasia Center, painted a glowing, provocative portrait of the would-be president of Belarus, framing her as part of a wider feminist uprising against the country’s “deeply patriarchal” elite, an upheaval central to the radical shakeup of the country.

The council billed Viacorka as a “journalist from Belarus,” which is true, to an extent. A long-time anti-Lukashenko activist, his campaigning as a teenager in the run-up to the 2006   presidential election was even the subject of an award-winning documentary. Subsequently, he spent seven years at US government-controlled media outlets Radio FreeEurope and Radio Liberty, before moving to Washington DC in August 2018 to serve as Digital Media Strategist   for the US Agency for Radio Free Europe’s parent company US Agency for Global Media (USAGM), a role which ended just before he joined the Atlantic Council. In August 2018, USAGM’s then-CEO acknowledged its media outlets’ “global priorities reflect US national security interests.”

Founded in 1961, the council is best understood as NATO’s intellectual wing-cum-propaganda arm. Just as the alliance’s paradoxical purpose is, in the phrase of academic Richard Sakwa, “to manage the security risks created by its existence,” so too the organization exists to promote the notion of a Russian threat, in order to justify NATO’s post-Cold War endurance.

In this sense, the Atlantic Council is no different from most other ‘think tanks’ in that its raison d’etre is to defend and further the concerns of its financiers – in pursuit of that goal, as with most other lobby groups of this nature, it often publishes highly dubious, biased ‘research’ under the guise of objective academic inquiry, and recruits to its ranks individuals who advance its objectives in some way, promoting these as ‘independent experts.’

Some clue as to the council’s concerns and aims can be found in the publicly-available list of its key donors, which includes the US embassies of UAE and Bahrain, Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk, defense giant Raytheon, the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), and the US State Department. From 2006  to 2016, the council’s annual revenue leaped ten-fold, from $2 million to $21 million – a period in which, concurrently and not coincidentally, corporate and state budgets typically reserved for lobbying firms were increasingly directed to think tanks. Its board of directors is likewise highly illustrative, a veritable ‘who’s who’ of warmongers, comprising Henry Kissinger, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Robert Gates, Michael Hayden, David Petraeus, and many others.

Despite a host of council apparatchiks frequently popping up in media reporting, and in turn influencing debate, public perceptions and government policy, one would be hard-pressed to find a single mainstream article making even passing reference to the organization’s politically-charged agenda and funding sources. Indeed, the Atlantic Council’s press relations strategy has been astonishingly effective, its in-house ‘fellows’ and Digital Forensics Lab (DFRLab) operatives universally positioned as experts in an array of fields, ever-ready to provide insight on pressing issues in the form of op-eds, marketable quotes and more.

There’s no more palpable example of this phenomenon than former DFRLab chief Ben Nimmo, who for years has been widely-touted as an eminent authority on Moscow’s ‘information warfare’ and ‘cyber operations,’ as well as on Kremlin strategy and thinking – despite boasting zero discernible acumen in Russian politics, data analysis, information technology, or social media. Despite his palpable lack of relevant skills, Nimmo’s tour of duty at DFRLab saw him appear in a panoply of articles, reports and academic papers on the threat posed to the world by Russian ‘disinformation,’ in the process disseminating a vast amount of damaging untruths himself.

He was also a pivotal player in the council’s ‘anti-fake news’ partnership with Facebook. Launched in May 2018, DFRLab was granted exclusive and unprecedented access to the social media giant’s private data, in order to identify and study “disinformation networks,” before earmarking particular accounts and pages for deletion and banning. That an effective wing of Western state power was afforded such capacity failed to provoke any mainstream alarm, even when the initiative got off to a highly inauspicious start – a number of accounts Nimmo identified as Kremlin-directed ‘bots’ and ‘trolls’ and which were subsequently banned by social networks turned out to be real people.

Since then, at intermittent intervals this partnership has led to the purging of untold numbers of pages and accounts from the social network, among them many alternative media outlets, independent journalists, political groups, and other legitimate information sources, highlighting issues and events the mainstream media consistently downplays or ignores, including US interventionism, drug legalization, police brutality and more.

Viacorka’s work for the Atlantic Council to date hasn’t been quite so destructive, authoring articles for its website, and making appearances on major news networks, promoting Tikhanovskaya as the legitimate president of Belarus and perpetuating disputed and extremely questionable claims that she’d received up to 70 percent of the vote in that country’s recent election – key messages the council itself began aggressively advancing the day after the election.

Ever since, Tikhanovskaya has repeatedly appealed to US and EU leaders to recognize her as the winner and duly-elected president of Belarus, claiming she’ll step aside within six months of taking office, but her call has been ignored by international bodies and every government in the world, bar that of Lithuania.

Instead, typically at most an election re-run has been called-for, a somewhat odd display of reticence, given Washington, London, Berlin and Paris have priors in formally recognizing individuals with far less legitimate claims than she as de-facto leaders of countries, such as Juan Guaido in Venezuela. This may suggest Western governments aren’t actually as convinced of her alleged landslide victory as they publicly profess to be, and fear Lukashenko’s removal from office by external and internal force and/or without a viable, stable alternative in place could mean the country descends into further chaos, and in turn becoming a fresh flashpoint in Europe.

Viacorka himself acknowledged the disorganized nature of the protests in an Atlantic Council article – while taking as inevitable Lukashenko’s ouster and Belarus’ transition to democracy, he bemoaned how “a lack of coordination between the different elements within the protest movement” had left it “vulnerable to the divide-and-conquer tactics of authorities.”

Viacorka went on to note that, in a bid to address this “absence of leadership,” Tikhanovskaya had founded a Coordination Council to serve as the country’s effective government in waiting. He dubbed the endeavor “the main threat to Lukashenko” and “the first attempt to create a credible alternative,” but his description raises serious questions about whether it’s a legitimate attempt to provide a coherent, tangible face to the movement, or an opportunistic hostile takeover.

“The Coordination Council provides a degree of clarity for government officials and international observers looking to gain a better understanding of who represents the diverse opposition movement… The Council must occupy the political vacuum at the forefront of Belarus’s democratic uprising. Leaderless street protests have shaken the Lukashenka regime to its foundations, but they are not enough to bring about the kind of historic transition to democracy millions of Belarusians now expect… The Council features a number of members drawn from the professional classes… who are expected to play important roles in the attempt to move beyond today’s mass protests towards a national political transition,” Viacorka wrote.

One wonders whether the coordination council was an idea Viacorka himself presented to Tikhanovskaya in his capacity as her ‘international relations advisor’ – and if, in turn, his thinking was in any way influenced by the Atlantic Council.

Whatever the truth of the matter, it’s almost certain the Atlantic Council’s meddling in Belarusian politics has a clandestine element, given the organization’s key role in the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) initiative Open Information Partnership (OIP). Officially, under its auspices DFRLab, Bellingcat, Zinc Network and Media Diversity Institute “work together through peer-to-peer learning, training and working groups to pioneer methods to expose disinformation,” in collaboration with a sizable network of NGOs across Europe.

However, leaked documents make clear the endeavor is, in fact, a secret UK government information warfare outfit seeking to covertly further Whitehall’s global policy objectives, by, among other things, influencing “elections taking place in countries of particular interest to the FCO.” A file setting out the terms of the project indicates Belarus is one of a dozen “high impact, priority countries” for the OIP, strongly suggesting this year’s presidential vote was very much “of interest” to the project.

The same document indicates DFRLab, Bellingcat, Zinc Network and Media Diversity Institute had conducted a secret operation in Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus in 2018, “delivering audience insights and recommendations to increase reach and resonance of selected independent media outlets.”

While innocent-enough sounding, examples offered of the organization’s work offered elsewhere in the file indicate OIP has engaged in numerous ‘astroturfing’ initiatives across Eastern Europe, helping organizations and individuals to produce flashy, FCO-funded propaganda masquerading as independent citizen journalism, which is then amplified globally via its NGO network and other channels.

For instance, in Ukraine the Open Information Partnership worked with a 12-strong group of online ‘influencers’ “to counter Kremlin-backed messaging through innovative editorial strategies, audience segmentation, and production models that reflected the complex and sensitive political environment,” in the process allowing them to “reach wider audiences with compelling content that received over four million views.”

In Russia and Central Asia, OIP established a covert network of ‘YouTubers,’ helping them create videos “promoting media integrity and democratic values.” Participants were also taught how to “make and receive international payments without being registered as external sources of funding” and “develop editorial strategies to deliver key messages,” while the consortium minimized their “risk of prosecution” and managed “project communications” to ensure the existence of the network, and indeed OIP’s role, were kept “confidential.”

Were similar efforts undertaken in Belarus at some point subsequently, and if so, how many of the citizen journalists on the ground covering the protests this year have received funding and training from OIP, and what role has the organization and its extensive pan-European NGO matrix played in promoting their “compelling content” the world over?

At the very least, another leaked FCO file indicates a number of organizations in the country had exploratory discussions with OIP, including the Belarusian Association of Journalists, and Euroradio – both were said to have “expressed an eagerness to be part of the network,” and to be operating in “the most vital space in the entire network.”

It may be significant that Franak Viacorka has been a prominent amplifier of Euroradio’s “fearless” coverage of the unrest that has engulfed the streets of Minsk for the past two months.

October 16, 2020 Posted by | Deception | , , | Leave a comment

The “Russia Report”: Deep State reinforcing delusion to spread fear and seize power

“Suppressed” report should be a lesson to those who begged for its release – be careful what you wish for.

By Kit Knightly | OffGuardian | July 22, 2020

The “Russia report” is an action plan for the intelligence agencies to hand MI5 direct control over the mechanisms of British democracy, and give the government legal power to control social media.

Nobody in the mainstream will tell you this. The media are going to tell you it’s a “shocking condemnation Britain’s vulnerability to hostile state actors” or something similar, the Remainers will tell you it’s cast iron evidence the Brexit vote was rigged, and Luke Harding will tell you it means “they” are all around us and you should buy a copy of his book.

The truth is it’s just the latest of the Deep State’s plays to secure as much power as possible as quickly as possible. If anything, it already feels old-fashioned, being authored in a pre-Covid world, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be put to use in service of the world’s “new normal”.

In terms of actual content, there’s nothing new here. It’s just a collection of familiar proven lies and unproven accusations in the service of four primary agendas:

  1. Invalidating the result of the Brexit referendum
  2. Boosting funding/resources for the UK’s “Cyber Offensive capabilities”
  3. Ceding more powers to MI5 to oversee and “protect” our democratic processes
  4. Creating a “protocol” that empowers the government/intelligence agencies to force social media companies to censor and/or ban certain material, opinions, websites or users

You can plow through the whole thing here if you really feel the need.

For those outside the UK, who may not be aware of this story, sometime last year it was “leaked” that the UK parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee had prepared a report on “Russian interference” in UK politics. In a brilliant piece of PR manoeuvring, Boris Johnson refused to make the report public.

This decision manipulated those who consider themselves “the left” in British politics to clamour for the release of the “Russia Report”, believing there would be something in it that Boris didn’t want us to see. This was an act of pure naivety by Corbynista influencers, and deliberate public manipulation by the “leftist” media.

Yesterday Boris Johnson’s government finally “caved” to this pressure, and released a “confidential report” which tells us nothing we haven’t been told a million times before. This apparently secret testimony has been blasted across headlines in every broadsheet and tabloid for years.

Russia is accused of poisoning the Skripals, leaking the DNC emails, using “bots and trolls” to influence public opinion…and so and so on.

The witnesses called are all either actual spies (Christopher Steele), or “journalists” heavily involved with the Integrity Initiative (Edward Lucas). No evidence is supplied, save the tired old links to “academic studies” conducted by bought-and-paid-for NATO shills like Ben Nimmo and Bellingcat (whose direct funding from the likes of the Atlantic Council and National Endowment for Democracy represents a massive conflict of interest that is never once mentioned in the report).

In that way, the report is massively dated. Its lies, worn smooth through repetition, are dry and stale.

But that’s not the point of this report. That’s the first part of the Hegelian Dialectic. The “problem”, long since mythologised, created by force of repetition without ever being evidenced. This report is far more concerned with generating a “reaction”, and the procuring consent for a pre-planned “solution” (the report doesn’t shy away from this obvious structure – using the terms “threat” and “reaction” instead).

In short, buried in the 55 pages of waffle, repetition and bureaucratic double-talk, are key suggestions to take a more warlike stance against Russia and parlay this into a simultaneous crackdown on dissent at home, all while securing shiny new powers for MI5.

Firstly, the UK plans to strike a new attitude on “attribution” of alleged cyber attacks, claiming, apparently with a straight face:

The UK has historically been reticent in attributing cyber attacks – as recently as 2010, this Committee was asked to redact mention of Russia as a perpetrator of cyber attacks, on diplomatic grounds.

But the UK’s “reticence” to blame Russia for cyber attacks is over, they now intend to “name and shame” foreign actors who carry out cyber attacks:

there has to now be a cost attached to such activity. When attacks can be traced back – and we accept that this is in itself resource-intensive – the Government must always consider ‘naming and shaming’.

[NOTE: This section on “attribution” would be an absolutely ideal time to mention that another state player – namely the US military – has the technology to carry out cyber attacks and make it appear to have come from somewhere else. We know they know, because of the Wikileaks Vault 7 leaks, but they don’t mention it.]

Oh, and they’re going to “leverage” their diplomatic relations to force those countries who would rather not start a new cold war based on the testimony of lunatics, fraudsters and underwear salesmen, to publicly blame Russia for… pretty much everything:

it is apparent that not everyone is keen to adopt this new approach and to ‘call out’ Russia on malicious cyber activity. The Government must now leverage its diplomatic relationships to develop a common international approach when it comes to the attribution of malicious cyber activity by Russia and others.

This is dishonest, and potentially dangerous, but this kind of geo-political positioning is very much the long game. It’s the short term stuff, the local stuff, we should really worry about.

Like handing over powers to “monitor” and “protect” the democratic processes of the country to MI5 [our emphasis]:

Overall, the issue of defending the UK’s democratic processes and discourse has appeared to be something of a ‘hot potato’, with no one organisation recognising itself as having an overall lead. Whilst we understand the nervousness around any suggestion that the intelligence and security Agencies might be involved in democratic processes […] that cannot apply when it comes to the protection of those processes […] Protecting our democratic discourse and processes from hostile foreign interference is a central responsibility of Government, and should be a ministerial priority. In our opinion, the operational role must sit primarily with MI5

They recommend this, based on MI5’s pre-existing “relationship built with social media companies”. They don’t mention, at this stage, how social media companies have “built a relationship” with MI5, or what role they might serve in “protecting democracy”, but it’s not hard to guess.

Social Media is an important theme in the report, actually, being mentioned fifteen times in 47 pages.

Firstly, we’re told that social media companies must bear the brunt of the blame for “hostile state activity” being at all effective:

we note that – as with so many other issues currently – it is the social media companies which hold the key and yet are failing to play their part

Before they add the government must seek a “protocol” by which social media companies remove any material the UK government deems “hostile state use” of their platform:

The Government must now seek to establish a protocol with the social media companies to ensure that they take covert hostile state use of their platforms seriously, and have clear timescales within which they commit to removing such material

Any companies who refuse to do this will be “named and shamed”.

You might think “well, this protocol could easily be used against people with no state affiliation whatsoever”, and you’d be right. It could. The government admits as much, but doesn’t seem to have a problem with it:

Such a protocol could, usefully, be expanded to encompass the other areas in which action is required from the social media companies, since this issue is not unique to Hostile State Activity

This would be a good time to note that the Atlantic Council employees this report cites have, in the past, labelled people “bots” who are definitely, provably not bots. This includes noted independent journalists and a world-renowned concert pianist.

The proposed “protocol” opens up an avenue for the state to silence dissident individuals by similarly “mistaking” them for state-backed agents.

Another thing the report is keen on is boosting the UK’s “Offensive Cyber” capabilities:

this is an era of hybrid warfare and an Offensive Cyber capability is now essential. The Government announced its intention to develop an Offensive Cyber capability in September 2013, and in 2014 the National Offensive Cyber Programme (NOCP) […]The UK continues to develop its Offensive Cyber capability.

What their offensive cyber capabilities ARE, and how they use them, is never described. Are they used solely against other states, or against domestic politic parties, organizations and individuals too? They don’t say.

Is cyberwarfare even legal under international law? Well, no. In fact, the way the report dances around the idea that cyberwarfare is actually potentially illegal under international law is a thing of beauty:

While the UN has agreed that international law, and in particular the UN Charter, applies in cyberspace, there is still a need for a greater global understanding of how this should work in practice […] Achieving a consensus on this common approach will be a challenging process, but as a leading proponent of the Rules Based International Order it is essential that the UK helps to promote and shape Rules of Engagement, working with our allies.

The fact that people out there can even begin to cite this report in earnest when it describes the UK as a “key defender of a Rules Based International Order” just boggles my mind.

The real scary stuff comes later though, in the “legislation” section.

The UK is already one of the most surveilled countries in the world, and the report happily mentions that last February, the UK police/intelligence agencies got [our emphasis]:

new powers to stop, question, search or detain any person entering the UK gained Royal Assent in February 2019; it is not necessary for there to be suspicion of engagement in hostile activity in order to use these powers.

Following on from this, the report recommends a new Espionage Act and a Foreign Agent Registration Act, to “crackdown” on espionage.

Hearings resulting from these acts could be “closed material proceedings” to protect national security.

For those who don’t know, in UK law a “closed material proceeding” is a hearing where a prosecutor presents some evidence directly to a judge which is kept secret from both the public and the defense counsel.

Until this new legislation is passed, the report warns, “the Intelligence Community’s hands are tied.”

To sum up, the long-awaited Russia report is – surprise surprise – not a trove of secrets and corruption which could bring down the Johnson government. It was never going to be that, despite what all the fake-left “journalists” were saying, and what all the Labour supporters who should know better were tweeting.

It was actually sickening to watch so many people, especially in Corbyn’s camp, cry-out for this report and not realise they were getting played. It’s the oldest trick in the book. Cheap reverse psychology that doesn’t work on children past the age of about five, but apparently does work on the majority of the members of the Labour party.

Thanks to their gullibility, no one is questioning the honesty, providence or intentions of a report which finds, in short:

  • MI5 should have more control over our democratic systems.
  • We should spend more money on developing cyber attack ability.
  • We should investigate and maybe overturn the Brexit vote.
  • We should pass authoritarian new legislation
  • Social Media companies should take down whatever the government says they should take down.

People who are supposed to guard against tyranny and hold power to account have abandoned their posts to take part in anti-Russia hysteria which endangers what remains of our civil liberties.

As a result, we’re getting headlines like this:

GUARDIAN : Report damns number 10 and spy agencies over Russia

And this:

MAIL : Now tame the Russian bear

And this:

THE TIMES : MI5 to get more powers

It’s the same old lies, on the same old topics, told by the same old people, for the same old reasons. The only difference is, this time, they managed to trick some of the gullible “woke” left into begging for it.

July 22, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

Does Trump know his own government indirectly bankrolls some key promoters of the ‘Russiagate’ hoax?

By Bryan MacDonald | RT | May 13, 2020

US President Donald Trump was elected on a promise to “drain the swamp.” Almost four years later, the Washington think-tank racket is as murky as ever, and the gravy train keeps rolling.

The false ‘Trump/Russia collusion’ narrative has been dead for so long now that it’s hard to remember what killed it, whether it was the Mueller Report or simply death by a thousand cuts.

Here is what we know: ‘Russiagate’ was a giant scam, and many of those who promoted it knowingly lied for a considerable length of time. Their aim was either to undermine Trump’s presidency or prevent any improvement in US relations with Russia.

Most of the journalists who facilitated the hoax also knew it was nonsense. But their loathing of Trump – and in some cases Russia, too – trumped ethical considerations. Thus, much of the general public was, for years, fed a diet of grifters and washed-up old spooks pushing a scam.

Funded by the government

The crazy thing is that many of its chief architects work for Washington think tanks funded by the US government. Given Trump has taken no obvious steps to curtail public funding for these lobby groups, it means the president’s own cabinet has been effectively bankrolling activists who are out to smear and destroy him.

Take Evelyn Farkas. A rabidly anti-Russia official in Barack Obama’s government, she was subsequently looked after with a gig at NATO’s Atlantic Council adjunct. This has become a traditional route in DC. When one party loses power, its apparatchiks are placed in a sort of think-tank racket cryonics chamber from which they can be reanimated in future, if their own tribe gets back into the White House.

Farkas, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, told MSNBC TV in 2017 that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government to win the 2016 presidential election.

But, as Townhall reports, “during an interview with the House Intelligence Committee in June 2017, where she was under oath, she admitted she didn’t have any information about collusion during that interview.”

As its correspondent Katie Pavlich points out, “through dozens of House Intelligence Committee transcripts and after a lengthy Special Counsel investigation, it was clear from the beginning ‘Russian collusion’ with the Trump campaign was a made-up talking point that was used as a political weapon.”

Farkas’ involvement fits a pattern. Her dad came from an elite Hungarian family who had their status diluted after the Soviets installed a communist government in Budapest following World War Two. Farkas’ background is important, because US media ignores how many of the people who pushed the ‘Trump-Russia’ hoax come from East European migrant families with an axe to grind against ‘the Russians’.

‘Stolen’ emails

The idea that Russia stole emails from the Democratic National Congress (DNC) was based on information from CrowdStrike. This cybersecurity firm was the source of the allegation that Russian intelligence agencies had hacked the DNC’s servers. You may remember the ‘Fancy Bear’ and ‘Cozy Bear’ narrative which was popularised by US media at the time.

CrowdStrike’s co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch was born in Moscow and moved to the US with his family at the age of 14. Like Farkas, he is also attached to the Atlantic Council, and his first published involvement with the pro-NATO pressure group was in 2012.

Back in 2016, he was lionised by mainstream US media, with Esquire, for instance, saying he was “our special forces (and Putin’s worst nightmare)” and “leading the fight to protect America.”

It has now emerged that the following year, his partner at CrowdStrike Shawn Henry told Congress – in closed-door testimony, previously buried – that CrowdStrike had “no concrete evidence that the data was exfiltrated from the DNC.”

In other words, as journalist Aaron Mate has pointed out, “CrowdStrike, the very firm behind the accusation that Russia hacked & stole DNC emails, admitted to Congress that it has no direct evidence Russia actually stole (or) exfiltrated the emails.”

Pushing the hoax

Of course, promoting ‘Russiagate’ wasn’t limited to the immigrant community. The likes of Bill Kristol, Michael McFaul, John Podesta and Clint Watts are all connected to the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMFUS), another DC lobby group which receives US government funding.

Watts was front and centre in pushing the hoax, while McFaul was at one point ubiquitous on cable news shows waffling on about Russia helping Trump to win the 2016 election. Podesta, meanwhile, alleged his emails were hacked by Russia while he was chair of Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential campaign.

The GMFUS receives over $1 million annually from both the US State Department and USAID. Meanwhile, the Atlantic Council gets between $500,000 and $999,000 a year from the same State Department and $100,000 to $249,000 from each of the US Air Force Academy and the US Department of Defence.

Which means Trump’s government is partially funding the people who tried to destroy his presidency, based on a falsehood obvious to honest observers from the very start. So much for the US president’s campaign promise to “drain the swamp.”

Bryan MacDonald is an Irish journalist based in Russia. He has written for RT since 2014. Before moving to Russia, Bryan worked for The Irish Independent, the Evening Herald, Ireland on Sunday, and The Irish Daily Mail. Follow him on Twitter @27khv

May 14, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , | 1 Comment

This Is Why You Can’t Trust The Fact Checkers

By Derrick Broze | The Last American Vagabond | May 11, 2020

For the last eight years I have worked as a writer, researcher, and investigative reporter for many well-known American independent media outlets. I have spent my time investigating digital surveillance technology, attacks on indigenous communities, and the overall growth of the government and corporate power. As someone working in this field, writing about topics which are often seen as controversial or “outside the mainstream” – censorship and personal attacks are part of the job description.

However, the attacks on independent media have rapidly increased in the last four years, with many formerly active journalistic outlets ceasing to exist due to lack of traffic and thus, lack of funds. We have seen outlets outright branded “fake news” or accused of collusion with the Russian government. Some channels and websites have been unable to apply for advertising or use certain digital products based on these labels. Some channels and reporters have been deleted off social media and other digital platforms altogether. And, if the social media managers don’t delete you, they might just use the algorithm to hide your posts, limiting your ability to interact with the public.

Attack of the “Fact” Checkers

Perhaps the most insidious method is the recent use of “fact checkers” to limit the reach of an outlet, or simply brand them with the fake news scarlet letter to discourage readers from engaging. This has been increasing in the last 2 years and I personally know of several remaining indy media outlets who have had to decide whether or not to run certain articles or video reports out of fear they might be censored or banned. Of course, with the algorithmic games being played by social media platforms, most outlets are reaching a tiny fraction of what they once were.

Case in point, The Mind Unleashed. I have been part of the TMU team on and off for the last year or so. In that time we have been struggling to reach a small fraction of our 9 million Facebook followers. Part of the reason we are struggling to reach people is because we have the dubious recognition of being labeled fake news by Facebook and affiliated fact checkers.

In a recent article published in Newsweek Espanol, in partnership with Newsguard, The Mind Unleashed is described as a “site that promises to ‘promote and inspire unconventional thinking,’ but is actually dedicated to publishing falsehoods.” The quote was in reference to a story TMU had written about the origins of COVID-19 and the potential for the virus to have been created as a bio weapon.

Newsguard is one of a number of “fact checker” services which has proliferated since the election of Donald Trump to U.S. President. Newsguard is a browser plug-in for Chrome and Microsoft Edge that gives trustworthiness ratings to most of the internet’s top-trafficked sites. It uses a color coded system to warn readers of an article or website’s trustworthiness. In a previous investigation, TLAV writer Whitney Webb exposed the neoconservative roots of the Newsguard team. Webb wrote:

“Newsguard’s advisory board makes it clear that Newsguard was created to serve the interests of American oligarchy. Chief among Newsguard’s advisors are Tom Ridge, the first Secretary of Homeland Security under George W. Bush and Ret. General Michael Hayden, a former CIA director, a former NSA director and principal at the Chertoff Group, a security consultancy seeking to “advise corporate clients and governments, including foreign governments” on security matters that was co-founded by former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who also currently serves as the board chairman of major weapons manufacturer BAE systems.”

Newsguard started as a partnership between Steven Brill and Louis Gordon Crovitz, with Crovitz appearing to be the connection to the world of finance, media, and geopolitics. Crovitz held a number of positions at Dow Jones and at the Wall Street Journal, is a board member of Business Insider, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and claims to have been an “editor or contributor to books published by the American Enterprise Institute and Heritage Foundation.” As Webb noted, “the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) is one of the most influential neoconservative think tanks in the country and its ‘scholars,’ directors and fellows have included neoconservative figures like Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, John Bolton and Frederick Kagan.”

Most recently, Newsguard has created a list of “Websites Publishing False Coronavirus Information” and a list “Super Spreaders” of false information. These lists include many well-known and credible independent media outlets. This is not to say that every website listed is credible and should be supported. The point is that these types of lists only serve to “blackball” certain outlets and schools of thoughts which counter the mainstream version of events.

Newsguard is not the only fact checker service operating in the current “post-truth era”. Social media companies like Facebook have partnered with several organizations with the stated aim of fact checking and debunking disinformation. Of course, these organizations tend to reinforce the narratives being woven by the mouthpieces in the corporate media and the puppet masters working the politicians.  For a moment Facebook partnered with reviled “fact checker” Snopes, but, after Snopes was discredited, Facebook has now partnered with companies like Lead Stories.

Lead Stories also “fact checked” The Mind Unleashed a couple times, always using arbitrary standards and semantics to make a story appear to be false or misleading. In one story, Lead Stories relies on data from the aforementioned Newsguard. So who is Lead Stories? The About page states that since January 2019 they have been a part of Facebook fact checker program. They describe the partnership as follows:

“Under the terms of this partnership we get access to listings of content that has been flagged as potentially false by Facebook’s systems or its users and we can decide independently if we want to fact check it or not. In addition to this we can enter our fact checks into a tool provided by Facebook and Facebook then uses our data to help slow down the spread of false information on its platform. Facebook pays us to perform this service for them but they have no say or influence over what we fact check or what our conclusions are, nor do they want to.”

Lead Stories is run by Perry Sanders Jr., an attorney known for representing the family of rapper Notorious B.I.G. after his murder, and Editor-in-Chief Alan Duke, who helped create Lead Stories after 26 years with CNN. Despite Duke’s bio stating that he “did ground-breaking investigative reporting on the Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking scandal“, CNN is most known as a “super spreader” of propaganda and fake news. It is CNN, ABC, CBS, the Washington Post and others who actually helped cover up Epstein’s crimes. The entire Lead Stories team is filled with former and current CNN employees, as well as other MSM outlets.

Two other organizations that have partnered with Facebook and fact checked TMU are Science Feedback and Africa Check, both which claim to identify and expose the spread of disinformation. Science Feedback describes itself as “a worldwide network of scientists sorting fact from fiction in science based media coverage. Our goal is to help readers know which news to trust”. Africa Check says they are a non-profit attempting to “raise the quality of information available to society across the continent.”

As with Lead Stories and Newsguard, Africa Check uses semantics to label a story false or misleading. Science Feedback uses a similar strategy, casting The Mind Unleashed (and other alternative media sites) in a web of “disinformation” related to a report about the potential for a “mini ice age”.

Interestingly, Africa Check’s list of partners includes The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, yet another example of how the Gates’ spread their influence and agenda around the world – this time as part of an effort to control the dialogue around hot topics. Gates also funded the Event 201 pandemic simulation exercise which discussed the potential for censoring the internet or even arresting individuals who spread information that has been deemed false. Africa Check is also partnered with the George Soros-funded Open Society Foundations.

How to Limit Discussion and Control the Narrative

The strategy for the social media companies and fact checkers is simple: label someone fake news, lower their reach with algorithmic manipulation, force them to comply to arbitrary commands if they want the fake news label removed, control the narrative and shape the conversation.

Over the last two years I have seen good, hard working reporters and members of the independent/alternative media struggle to maintain integrity and report truthfully about controversial topics while also walking on egg shells in an attempt not to upset the fact checkers. For example, in late February, one writer had an article fact checked for discussing the various reports about COVID-19 being engineered in a lab. The Facebook fact checker stated:

“As explained in our fact-check, the claim that was reported in your article, namely that the coronavirus was created in a lab, is unsupported by evidence and is in fact contradicted by multiple scientific studies indicating that the virus originated naturally in wildlife.”

The writer of this particular order actually went to great lengths to make it clear that some sources disagreed with the claim, but according to Facebook’s fact checker, “it does not acknowledge that the claim is false to begin with, giving readers the misleading impression that there is legitimate scientific doubt over the issue when this is not the case.”

In other words, there is no reason to tell the public that some professionals and researchers have a different theory about the origins of the virus. No matter what was offered to the fact checker there was no compromise. Not only did they want the title to be changed and for an editor’s note to be attached acknowledging the apparently “false” claim, but they said they would not remove the fake news label if we took the article down. The options were essentially to keep the article up and comply, or keep it up, change nothing, and be labeled fake news.

In emails from Newsguard, TMU was admonished for “its history of promoting conspiracy theories related to the Sept. 11 attacks and the Douma, Syria chemical weapons attacks, as well as its promotion of marijuana as a cancer cure in stories”. It’s clear to see that anyone who does not buy the official narratives about the major geopolitical events of our day, or support the Big Pharma kool-aid – will be punished.

Unfortunately, the censors are winning because many in the alternative media are choosing to self-censor in the hopes that things will get better in the long run or that doing so will allow them to stay on the platform longer, and continue to reach more people. As we are now seeing, this is a losing strategy.

Two Years After the FB-Atlantic Council Partnership & the Independent Media Purge

What we are witnessing today, in May 2020, is the continuation of the fight against “fake news” which began immediately following the election of Donald Trump. In November 2016, Merrimack College associate professor Melissa Zimdars posted a public Google document titled, “False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and/or Satirical ‘News’ Sources” which went viral after being reported on by most corporate mainstream outlets.

Within a matter of weeks, a new list appeared online from an organization calling itself PropOrNot, an allegedly independent group of researchers trying to find the truth about the dissemination of Russian propaganda and fake news. This list also contained names of prominent independent media outlets like Anti Media, The Corbett Report, Mint Press News, and many others.

It was this combination of the Zimdars list and the PropOrNot list which had the immediate effect of placing a target on the vast majority of independent journalists and outlets who have also been accused of directly or indirectly conspiring with the Russians. Websites and social media pages for these outlets began to suffer a drastic reduction in reach and interaction with their audiences. Many websites have lost access to Google advertising money due to these false associations. The problem is that the majority of the mainstream media unquestionably reported on and repeated the claims made by these two lists without any attempt at investigative work.

In January 2018, PropOrNot would be exposed for their connections to The Atlantic Council, a think tank with connections to the western Military-Industrial Complex. Coincidentally, in May 2018, Facebook announced a partnership with the Atlantic Council, which officially claims to provide a forum for international political, business, and intellectual leaders. The social media giant said the partnership was aimed at preventing Facebook from “being abused during elections.”

The press release promoted Facebook’s efforts to fight fake news by using artificial intelligence, as well as working with outside experts and governments.

“Today, we’re excited to launch a new partnership with the Atlantic Council, which has a stellar reputation looking at innovative solutions to hard problems. Experts from their Digital Forensic Research Lab will work closely with our security, policy and product teams to get Facebook real-time insights and updates on emerging threats and disinformation campaigns from around the world. This will help increase the number of “eyes and ears” we have working to spot potential abuse on our service — enabling us to more effectively identify gaps in our systems, preempt obstacles, and ensure that Facebook plays a positive role during elections all around the world.”

The Atlantic Council of the United States was established in 1961 to bolster support for international relations. Although not officially connected to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Atlantic Council has spent decades promoting causes and issues which are beneficial to NATO member states. In addition, The Atlantic Council is a member of the Atlantic Treaty Organization, an umbrella organization which “acts as a network facilitator in the Euro-Atlantic and beyond.” The ATO works similarly to the Atlantic Council, bringing together political leaders, academics, military officials, journalists and diplomats to promote values that are favorable to the NATO member states.

Officially, ATO is independent of NATO, but the line between the two is razor thin.

Essentially, the Atlantic Council is a think tank which can offer companies or nation states access to military officials, politicians, journalists, diplomats, etc., to help them develop a plan to implement their strategy or vision. These strategies often involve getting NATO governments or industry insiders to make decisions they might not have made without a visit from the Atlantic Council team. This allows individuals or nations to push forth their ideas under the cover of hiring what appears to be a public relations agency but is actually selling access to high-profile individuals with power to affect public policy. Indeed, everyone from George H.W. Bush to Bill Clinton to the family of international agent of disorder Zbigniew Brzezinski have spoken at or attended council events.

In 2016, The New York Times wrote “The Atlantic Council, which has seen its annual revenue grow to $21 million from $2 million in the last decade, offers access to United States and foreign government officials in exchange for contributions. Individual donors, like FedEx, have also helped fund specific reports that align with their agendas.” The Times wrote that giving financial support is rewarded with “an ‘unprecedented level of information and access,’ including the chance to have a corporate executive, if the company donates at least $50,000 a year, speak at an Atlantic Council event ‘with top U.S. and foreign leaders’ present.”

According to their website, “The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) has operationalized the study of disinformation by exposing falsehoods and fake news, documenting human rights abuses, and building digital resilience worldwide.” The DFRLab tracks global disinfo campaigns, fake news stories, and “subversive attempts against democracy while teaching the public skills to identify and expose attempts to pollute the information space.”

The Atlantic Council’s list of financial supporters reads like a who’s-who of think tanks and Non-Governmental Organizations. The Atlantic Council receives funding from the Brookings Institution, Carnegie Endowment, Cato Institute, Council on Foreign Relations, and the Rand Corporation, to name a few. In addition, various members of the Military-Industrial Complex are benefactors of the Atlantic Council, including Huntington Ingalls, the United States’ sole maker of aircraft carriers; Airbus, the plane manufacturer; Lockheed Martin, the shipbuilder and aviation company; and Raytheon, which makes missile systems. All of the companies have contracts with the U.S. Department of Defense and offer financial support to the Atlantic Council. The Council also receives support from Chevron and the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Finally, the Atlantic Council receives direct financial support from the U.S. Departments of the Air Force, Army, Navy and Energy and from the U.S. Mission to NATO.

By October 2018 – only five months after the Atlantic Council partnership with Facebook – the social media giant announced they were unpublishing, or purging, over 500 pages and 200 accounts who are accused of spreading political spam. Several of these pages and writers were also removed from Twitter on the same day.

“Today, we’re removing 559 Pages and 251 accounts that have consistently broken our rules against spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior,” Facebook stated in a blog post. Facebook states that the people behind this alleged spam “create networks of Pages using fake accounts or multiple accounts with the same names” and “post the same clickbait posts in dozens of Facebook Groups”.

Nearly 3 years later, we are still seeing the repercussions of the purge of independent media voices. In the wake of COVID-19 and calls for stemming the flow of “misinformation”, we will likely see more censorship and digital purging. Those who are attempting to stay informed and aware need to recognize that getting your news from Google, Facebook, YouTube, etc., will keep you trapped in a bubble of sanitized, state-approved information.

Step Outside the Matrix and Question Everything.

Question Everything, Come To Your Own Conclusions.

May 12, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Democrat advice for ‘combating online disinformation’ is common sense buried under hypocrisy and censorship

By Nebojsa Malic | RT | December 19, 2019

There is actually some good advice in the Democratic National Committee’s five suggestions for avoiding “disinformation” online. Too bad it’s buried in hypocrisy and promotion of literal disinformation shops, grifters and frauds.

On Tuesday, as Democrats launched their final impeachment push in the House of Representatives, the DNC posted a set of recommendations to its followers to protect themselves from “disinformation.” While the jokes about flogging the dead horse of ‘Russiagate’ write themselves at this point, some of the advice offered is actually quite solid.

For instance, it makes perfect sense to actively seek out information from multiple sources. The DNC spoils it, however, by insisting the sources have to be “authoritative.” As in what, approved by the Party? Well, no, merely by the self-appointed gatekeepers such as MediaBiasFactCheck and NewsGuard.

We’ve written about NewsGuard before. As for MBFC, it lists the Alliance for Securing Democracy – operators of the ridiculous Hamilton68 dashboard – and Bellingcat as “least biased” news sources. Enough said.

“Ask yourself who the author of online content is,” also amounts to good advice. That too is tempered by the realization that in its more commonplace, lazy form it amounts to identity politics: stuff “our” people create has to be correct, while anything done by “them” is suspect.

The third point is perhaps the strongest: “When you share, make sure you are sharing content that is true and helpful to others, not as a knee-jerk reaction to content that angers or scares you.”

One only wishes the Democrats would take their own advice, given how widespread the “woke rage clickbait” business model has become. A whole bunch of online outlets have catered to hate-clicks of Democrats perpetually aggrieved by Donald Trump’s presidency, until they went out of business and fired their staff.

The fourth piece of advice urges people to “try to inject truth into the debate” using fact-checkers like Snopes or PolitiFact. Leaving aside the proliferation of partisan fact-checkers and the whole industry of “arguments” based on redefining the meaning of words, this method is somewhat of a rare bird – mainly because of too many people following points two and three too literally, and generally launching personal attacks rather than debating the issues.

By far the worst offender, however, has to be the fifth point, urging DNC followers to “educate” themselves by reading a variety of articles, books and reports that actually peddle outrageous propaganda.

For example, one of the recommended resources is a report on disinformation by New Knowledge – a Democrat-funded shop that literally faked an army of Russian “bots” to sway a 2017 US Senate race in Alabama.

Another is a New York Times “documentary” on a Soviet conspiracy to “tear the West apart” that tells more about its authors than anything they claim.

Other recommendations include “smart civil society groups” that are literally disinformation shops run either by the Democrats themselves (Media Matters for America), or the Atlantic Council and NATO (Disinfo Portal). There is also Graphika, an outfit currently employing the Atlantic Council’s former chief troll-hunter Ben Nimmo, a disinformation story unto himself.

But wait, there’s more! Among the recommended authorities are Russiagate pushers Clint Watts and Malcolm Nance, CNN and MSNBC authorities on “disinformation” and “Russian bots” despite being repeatedly and colossally wrong on everything pretty much all the time.

Needless to say, DNC’s advice has attracted far more derision than appreciation on Twitter, with responses dominated by snark along the lines of “Tell us more about this and the Steele dossier,” or “disinformation [is] information that doesn’t lead to election of Democrats.”

Nor was all of the negative feedback from conservatives. “Coming from those who rigged the 2016 Democratic primary, no thanks. I don’t take advice from criminals,” quipped one diehard Bernie Sanders fan.

Tough luck, Democrats. Do better.

December 20, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sound familiar? Reddit says US-UK trade deal leaks may be tied to Russia, citing speculation from… of course, Atlantic Council

RT | December 7, 2019

A trove of secret papers cited by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in attacking the Tories may have links to Moscow, Reddit has announced. The proof? The US-UK-NATO-funded Atlantic Council says it isn’t sure but it might be true.

The leaked documents, which were shared on the discussion site several weeks ago, point to evidence that the United States would demand a market share in the UK’s National Health Service in any trade talks after Brexit. In a statement, Reddit said that it believed that the accounts that had shared the documents were “part of a campaign that has been reported as originating from Russia.”

The vague wording is further muddled by the source that Reddit cites: The Atlantic Council. Ben Nimmo, a senior fellow at the think tank, said that the leaks “closely resemble techniques” allegedly employed by Russia. He noted, however, that “we do not have all the data that allows us to make a final determination in this case.”

While media outlets rushed to hype the “findings” as definitive proof of Russia’s involvement, some journalists noted obvious holes in the story.

Aside from the Atlantic Council’s clear conflict of interest in the story (it’s a US and UK-funded think tank, allegedly investigating leaks that damage both governments), Nimmo’s prominence in this saga of alleged Russian meddling is also cause for concern. The self-professed disinformation fighter has links to the now-exposed Integrity Initiative, a shadowy group funded by the British Foreign Office that masquerades as an independent disinformation-busting ‘charity.’ In fact, Integrity Initiative even used its platform to spread talking points aimed at linking Corbyn to the Kremlin.

December 7, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , , , | 1 Comment

State Funded Propagandists Claim Anti-War Journalists Are State-Funded Propagandists

By Alan MacLeod | American Herald Tribune | October 5, 2019

Investigative journalism website Bellingcat released a bombshell report September 30, that claimed to uncover a network of “pro-Assad media” infiltrating Western journalism. The author, Charles Davis, alleged there was a “shadowy group” connected to the government of Syria that was financing the careers of both left- and right-wing journalists, bloggers and news outlets that toed an Assadist line. Named in the report as effective agents of Damascus were the likes of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, investigative journalists Max Blumenthal, Rania Khalek and Whitney Webb, news outlets like MintPress News and independent journalists such as Caitlin Johnstone. Even the Green Party’s 2016 Vice-Presidential candidate Ajamu Baraka was framed as an Assad puppet. Thus, virtually the entire gamut of Western antiwar voices on Syria was declared to be deceiving the public, feeding them Syrian propaganda.

These are extraordinary claims. Yet the evidence provided was far from extraordinary. Indeed, the base of the evidence given was that many of these figures had accepted awards from a US-based organization dedicated, in their own words to “integrity in journalism” which, Davis insists, is a front to spread Assadist propaganda. Despite the lack of concrete evidence, the article caused waves on social media, with many seeing it as final proof of a worldwide conspiracy.

What Davis did not divulge, however, as was quickly pointed out by many he pointed the finger at, including Mint Press’ Mnar Muhawesh, was that Bellingcat itself is directly funded by some extremely shady organizations, including the Open Society Foundation and the US government’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED). That is the same NED that is currently bankrolling the protests in Hong Kong and has organized regime change operations in Nicaragua and Venezuela.

The NED was established as a buffer organization between the CIA and the organizations it was sponsoring. “It would be terrible for democratic groups around the world to be seen as subsidized by the CIA,” NED President Carl Gershman told the New York Times in 1986. “We saw that in the Sixties, and that’s why it has been discontinued.” One of the NED’s founders, Allen Weinstein, was even more frank: “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA”, he told the Washington Post.

Davis’ report was met with scathing criticism by those who it named as Assad agents.

“I find it terribly ironic that an article that accused MintPress and other anti-war news sites and journalists of receiving “shady state-linked funding” was published on Bellingcat, a site funded by the US government – currently an occupying power in Syria ­– and Google – the tech behemoth currently working overtime to censor independent media” replied Whitney Webb, when asked by the American Herald Tribune for a response to the allegations, adding that the attempt to paint the Serena Shim Award as “shady” was “quite dishonest” as the cash prize is funded by an all-American political action committee that opposes US interventionism abroad.

Max Blumenthal appeared equally unconcerned with the allegations. “I’ll take a token award from an anti-war non-profit over a byline in an interventionist PR operation literally backed by a CIA cutout that destabilizes socialist and independent nations around the globe any day” he told the American Herald Tribune, adding that “it almost seems that Charles Davis’ entire life is dedicated to attacking and denigrating me. He literally does nothing else”.

If Webb, Blumenthal and others are correct, this latest article is little more than an attempt to denigrate anti-imperialist, anti-war voices, along the lines of what the Atlantic Council has attempted to do. Since 2016, the Council, an offshoot of NATO, has published a series of investigations called “the Kremlin’s Trojan Horses” claiming virtually every political party in Europe that does not fully embrace neoliberal economics and an aggressive policy towards Russia is secretly infiltrated by and directed from Moscow. These parties include Labour and UKIP in the UK, PODEMOS in Spain, Syriza and Golden Dawn in Greece and the Lega Nord in Italy.

The Atlantic Council’s board of directors is a who’s who of neocon, interventionist foreign policy planners including Henry Kissinger, ex-Bush officials like Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell and James Baker, Generals like David Petraeus and Wesley Clark, and a host of ex-CIA directors and senior tech executives. It was this organization that Facebook announced it was teaming up with to fight fake news. Thus, the Council is helping the social media giant to decide what America (and the rest of its 2.4 billion users) sees in their news feeds and what is likely Russian-sponsored fake news. When an organization like this decides what is news and what is not, it is state censorship by any other name. As soon as this partnership was in place, Facebook began deleting news and media channels from Iranian and Latin American (particularly Venezuelan) media that contradicted NATO’s official line on their countries. And Facebook was already working closely with the Israeli government to silence Palestinian voices on its platform.

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Eliot Higgins. Credit: Ars Electronica/ flickr

Bellingcat’s founder, Eliot Higgins, for the record, was a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council between 2016 and 2019, where he published purportedly expert and independent reports into Russian aggression in Ukraine. Yet Bellingcat continues to present itself as a neutral observer in the cyberwar between Russia and the West.

And that is the trick. Under the guise of protecting us from supposedly extensive foreign, state-funded propaganda campaigns, we are, ourselves, being exposed to an even bigger, Western state-funded propaganda campaign, the extent of which is far greater than even the most lurid Russian fantasies of Bellingcat. Last year, for instance, it was exposed that the UK secret services have infiltrated media across Europe, building up “clusters” of sympathetic journalists in many nations in order to push certain lines crucial to their perceived interests. This “Integrity Initiative” as it is known, sprung into action in Spain, using their journalists to stir up a storm of controversy that managed to block the appointment of Colonel Pedro Baños to the position of head of Spanish national security. Baños, the Initiative had decided, was not sufficiently warlike on Russia, and needed to be blocked. Yet this blatant interference in foreign politics received scant attention in corporate media.

Ultimately, there is a new information war being waged in cyberspace, and the lesson to be drawn from this affair is to be very cautious of those decrying Russian propaganda while not also warning against the power of Google and the NSA, or calling for the release of whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden and Julian Assange. Cyberspace is the new battleground; and in war, truth is always the first casualty.


Alan MacLeod is a member of the Glasgow University Media Group. His latest book, Bad News From Venezuela: 20 Years of Fake News and Misreporting, was published by Routledge in April.

October 5, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , | 2 Comments

Establishment & media sympathize with Greta’s ‘Fridays for Future’ movement… So how is that a ‘protest’ exactly?

RT | September 27, 2019

As hundreds of thousands of people – many of them schoolchildren – take to the streets in another demonstration over climate change, one must wonder: at what point does protest become the status quo?

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg’s solo school walkout last August was little more than a sideshow to newspaper editors and TV crews. But the teenage crusader’s ‘school strike’ snowballed, and the ‘Fridays for Future’ movement grew.

Now, after an emotional speech by Thunberg at the UN Climate Action Summit on Monday, hundreds of thousands of climate strikers worldwide are packing the streets on Friday, demanding their governments declare a state of emergency, slash carbon emissions, penalize meat-eating and kill the car, to pick but a few of their proposals.

But these radicals – as they would have been called not so long ago – aren’t being met by the batons, tear gas and rubber bullets the state usually deploys to quash dissent (not that any peaceful demonstrations should be). Media outlets aren’t smearing those within their ranks as racists and downplaying attendance numbers, and the crowds occupying city streets aren’t risking injury and mutilation to do so.

The very idea of ‘protest’ implies some resistance, some injustice of state to be overcome. Climate protesters would argue that not enough is being done to heal our heating earth – and that’s a debate beyond the scope of this article – but government, media, and the world’s power brokers have aided Thunberg and co’s protest movement at every step of the way.

France’s ‘Yellow Vests’ protests began in opposition to a fossil fuel tax hike, and were met with all of the violence described above on a weekly basis. Thunberg, in contrast, was invited to address the French parliament in July. Likewise with her appearances at the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this year, her speeches before British parliament and the US Congress, and her most recent UN appearance. On every occasion, the world’s political leaders rolled out the red carpet and held the door open for her to lecture them.

Media coverage of Thunberg and the climate protests has been overwhelmingly favorable – with The Guardian comparing her speech on Monday to Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address for its historical significance, and New York Magazine calling her “the Joan of Arc of climate change.” The Yellow Vests, to continue the comparison, were described as a rabble of anti-semites and “notorious Holocaust deniers,” based on the actions of a tiny minority of protesters.

The school strikers and climate crusaders enjoy blanket support. “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money, and fairy tales of eternal economic growth,” Thunberg scolded leaders on Monday. However, even the world’s corporations have jumped on board the eco bandwagon, ever keen to virtue-signal their way to a few more dollars, even if their own green credentials are suspect at best.

If the protests are being framed as a David and Goliath story of children speaking truth to power and taking on the elite, why do the elite support them so wholeheartedly? An optimist would say that these leaders finally see the need for urgent climate action. After all, public outcry over the hole in the ozone layer in the 1980s led to the adoption of a landmark chemicals ban in 1987, and three decades later, NASA revealed proof last year that the ozone layer is recovering.

A cynic would argue that the upper echelons stand to benefit in some way. And that’s true too. Several conglomerates of the world’s leading financial institutions, backed by neoliberal think tanks like the Atlantic Council, have already expressed interest in getting their hands on public funds to finance green industry ventures, particularly in the developing world. What some call a crisis, they call the “climate opportunity.”

Addressing climate change too presents control-freak politicians with boundless opportunity to push otherwise unpalatable legislation. More than 100 US Lawmakers in Congress support the ‘Green New Deal.’ Among them are a handful of presidential candidates and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the hotshot New York Congresswoman who welcomed Thunberg to the city last month following her carbon-neutral Atlantic crossing.

As well as measures to wean the US off fossil fuels and replace airplane and car travel with greener alternatives, Ocasio-Cortez’ Green New Deal legislation comes bundled with a progressive wishlist of universal health care, minimum wage hikes, wealth redistribution, and government control of industry – traditionally anathema to American voters. All of this calls for higher taxes, and an expansion of federal government power.

Whether out of self-interest or benevolence, the climate protest movement enjoys the support of the elite, and taking Friday off school to demonstrate is about as safe as protest gets. Skipping school would normally earn truants a clip about the ears or a stern talking-to, but more and more teachers are getting on board with the strikes, and encouraging their students to take part.

When I was a teenager, we weren’t given the day off to protest the invasion of Iraq. Instead, we snuck off, changed into our baggy jeans and hoodies, and hopped on a bus to government buildings. Protest felt transgressive and anti-establishment.

Protest on a day off. Deny your parents and their generation the only meaningful chance in a busy week to spend some time with you. After all, as Thunberg said, adults have “stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.”

A protest stops being a protest when it’s pro-establishment. Once it reaches that tipping point, people begin to probe deeper and doubt the intentions of the protesters, and corporate support is a death knell for authenticity.

Most people who complain about climate protesters don’t hate Greta Thunberg for who she is. They just don’t like being browbeaten into thinking a certain way by the combined forces of activists, corporations, the media and the state, no matter how right or wrong that way is.

September 27, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , | 4 Comments

Two Think Tanks Claim Sputnik Meddled in 2017 French Election, Present No Proof… Again

Sputnik – July 11, 2019

Russian media outlets last year faced accusations of interfering in France’s internal politics, but a recent probe by French intelligence has reportedly found no signs of such activities.

The French Institute of Strategic Research of the Military School (IRSEM) and American think-tank the Atlantic Council have in a recent collaborative project produced a report, the latest in a row of similar ones, claiming that Russia meddled in the internal affairs of a foreign government. This time, the researchers accused Moscow of trying to prevent the victory of Emmanuel Macron in the 2017 French presidential election.

The researchers try to prove that by using state-funded media outlets, namely Sputnik, as an “information weapon”, the Kremlin allegedly organised a coordinated “disinformation campaign” against then presidential hopeful Macron. However, like many similar papers on alleged “Russian meddling”, this research also fails to present solid facts that substantiate the claims and stumbles into certain problems when trying to prove that such a targeted “campaign” actually existed in the first place.

Notably, the report’s key author and head of the IRSEM, Jean-Baptiste Jeangène Vilmer, who also serves on the Academic Advisory Board of the NATO Defence College, took most of his points of evidence from the works of Ben Nimmo, a researcher at the Atlantic Council. The latter, like many other Western think tanks, regularly publishes research devoted to proving the existence of Russian attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of Western countries and proposing ways in which they can counter this alleged “threat”.

“Anti-Macron Campaign” or Factual Reporting?

The IRSEM study recalls that back in February 2017, Macron’s digital manager accused Sputnik of publishing “fake news” about his employer from the “very beginning of [the election] campaign”. The author of the paper, Vilmer, claims that this “disinformation campaign” began when the French edition of Sputnik published a report about statements by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, in which he revealed that he possessed “interesting information” about Macron, albeit without specifying whether it was compromising in any way.

Referring to the Sputnik article as “menacing”, the IRSEM report draws parallels to the 2016 US presidential election and WikiLeaks’ publication of Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails. At the same time, the paper didn’t elaborate any further on how exactly reporting on an interview with a famous whistle-blower, in which no compromising information about Macron was published, was able to affect the outcome of the election. It also failed to mention that WikiLeaks’ threats, covered by Sputnik, were not limited to Macron, but also touched his main opponent in the second round, Marine Le Pen.

“Hand-Picked” Speakers vs Hand-Picked Examples

The IRSEM head admits in the report that Sputnik didn’t publish any “fake news” during the election campaign in France, but instead accused it of “information manipulation”. Vilmer claims that the Russian media outlet had expressed “a strong bias” by allegedly leaving out important information and by “hiding behind the quotations” of the “right people”.

While failing to present any proof that Sputnik had omitted any important facts in its articles, the researcher instead tried to substantiate his claim by indicating that Sputnik had interviewed only two persons, who happen to be members of the French Parliament – Thierry Mariani and Nicolas Dhuicq – in regards to the upcoming election. However, a simple search on the news outlet’s website reveals that in reality Sputnik had interviewed far more contributors on the topic, such as Jacques Lamblin, another member of the country’s parliament, as well as various European lawmakers and pundits.

Alleged “Focus” on “Macron Affair”

The paper proceeds to claim that Sputnik covered the election in France with “a distinct bias against Macron”. According to Vilmer, this was expressed in a strategy of giving a deaf ear to scandals involving other contenders for the presidency, such as “the Kremlin’s favoured candidate”, Marine Le Pen, and instead focusing on “rumours” about Macron’s alleged offshore accounts.

The IRSEM research insisted that most of Sputnik’s articles were devoted to the “invented Macron affair” involving offshore accounts while it “defended Le Pen and amplified her party”. However, the paper does not include any factual proof of a discrepancy in the coverage of Macron-related scandals and controversies involving his rivals. It also fully omits the actual fact that Sputnik covered the latter.

“Blame Russia” Trend

France was the second Western country to try to blame Russia for interfering in its domestic affairs. This was preceded by an attempt by the US Democratic Party, and specifically its candidate Hillary Clinton, to shift the blame for the defeat in the 2016 presidential election on to supposed meddling by Moscow.

This blame-game later became a trend among Western governments and political parties in countries such as the UK, Germany, and Spain, to name only a few. But just as in the case of the US, none of these states managed to provide any credible evidence to substantiate the claims, at best referring to obscure “intelligence reports”. Moscow has repeatedly pointed out this lack of underlying proof when rejecting these groundless accusations

Notably, following Macron’s victory in the elections his team abandoned the narrative for a while, only to return to it in February 2019, accusing Moscow of “orchestrating” the Yellow Vest rallies, which demanded Macron’s resignation, and pointing to Sputnik and RT for this purpose. However, earlier reports by local news outlets said that the French intelligence services’ investigation had failed to find any signs indicating that the Russian media was able to impact French domestic affairs.

July 11, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment