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Google renews attack on YouTube account of Iran’s Press TV

Press TV – March 30, 2021

Google has for the seventh time targeted Iranian broadcaster Press TV, blocking the English-language news network’s access to its official YouTube account without any prior notice.

The US tech giant shut YouTube accounts of Press TV late on Tuesday, citing “violations of community guidelines.”

“We have reviewed your content and found severe or repeated violations of our Community Guidelines. Because of this, we have removed your channel from YouTube,” Google said in a message.

The community guidelines, as YouTube says, are designed to ensure the video-sharing platform stays protected and set outs what is allowed and not allowed on YouTube. The guidelines apply to all types of content, including videos, comments, links, and thumbnails.

The last time Google blocked Press TV’s access to its official YouTube account was last September, again without any prior notice but citing “violations of export laws.”

The United States export laws and regulations prohibit the use of and access to controlled information, goods, and technology for reasons of national security or protection of trade.

Over the past years, the US tech giant has recurrently been opting for such measures against Iranian media outlets. It has taken on Press TV more than any other Iranian outlet given the expanse of its viewership and readership.

The measure comes hot on the heels of another hostile move and aggression on the Iranian media outlets, with Facebook having permanently shut down the page of Press TV news network.

The US-based social media giant informed Press TV on Friday that its account had been shut down for what it claimed to be the Iranian news channel’s failure to “follow our Community Standards.”

Facebook has on a number of occasions attacked Press TV, despite its claim of providing space for freedom of expression.

The Tehran-based English-language news network has repeatedly fallen victim to censorship on multiple fronts, including Twitter and Instagram besides Google and its services.


Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

www.presstv.ir

www.presstv.co.uk

www.presstv.tv

March 31, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 1 Comment

Cristina Fernandez Scores Major Win on Google’s Defamation Case

Vice President of Argentina Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, Buenos Aires, March 20, 2021. 

Vice President of Argentina Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, Buenos Aires, March 20, 2021. Photo: Twitter/ @thesunpostnews
teleSUR | March 20, 2021

In May 2020, Google defamed the Argentina’s Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner by calling her “Thief of the Argentine Nation” instead of making reference to her position.

Argentina’s Supreme Court dismissed the appeal filed by Google against the ruling which forces the company to keep the defamatory information against Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

Last year, Cristina filed a petition with her country’s justice system demanding that U.S. tech giant Google preserve the data naming her as “Thief of the Argentine Nation.”

The nickname appeared on Google’s platform replacing the information about her current positions when entering the Vice President’s name. The result was displayed without referring to any third-party website but under the sole responsibility of Google.

The Supreme Court ruling forces Google to keep the data associated with Fernandez from May 17, 2020, until the end of the investigation process, which will allow to get proofs and assess the defamation.

“Google’s reach in the world is immeasurable, so the damage generated in this opportunity is difficult to calculate without the results of the expert evidence,” said the former president’s lawyer Carlos Berardi.

Former president Cristina Fernandez (2007-2015) declared that if she wins the defamation case and there is compensation for the caused damages, the payment will be donated to the “Sor Maria Ludovica” Children’s Hospital in La Plata.

March 20, 2021 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 1 Comment

REPORT: Biden White House Working with Silicon Valley to Censor Vaccine Criticism

21st Century Wire | March 15, 2021

As reports of problems regarding the new experimental COVID vaccines continue to mount internationally, officials in the United States have been working behind the scenes to try and censor any dissent against the official party line on COVID policy, and vaccine efficacy, safety and distribution.

A recent Reuters report has revealed how a worried Biden administration has reached out to Silicon Valley’s digital monopoly firms Google Inc, Facebook, and Twitter – to coordinate efforts to shut down any discussions or independent journalism online which might challenge the credibility of either government or World Health Organization (WHO) pandemic and vaccine policies, as well crush any serious challenge to the credibility of pharmaceutical firms and the products they are pushing, namely their new experimental range of COVID vaccines.

According to a White House official, the new effort is meant to curb supposed “COVID misinformation” included making sure GoogleYouTubeFacebook and Twitter prevent any independent content from going viral.

A Twitter spokesman admitted that the firm was coordinating their censorship operation with the Biden team, and were “in regular communication with the White House on a number of critical issues including COVID-19 misinformation.”

According to a report by Reuters, a source confirmed the collusion between the White House and Big Tech is focused on protecting Biden’s vaccine numbers:

“Disinformation that causes vaccine hesitancy is going to be a huge obstacle to getting everyone vaccinated and there are no larger players in that than the social media platforms,”

“We are talking to them … so they understand the importance of misinformation and disinformation and how they can get rid of it quickly.”

The source also told Reuters that the companies “were receptive” as they engaged with the White House. “But it is too soon to say whether or not it translates into lessening the spread of misinformation.”

For its part, Facebook has committed to adding even more ‘dangerous informational’ labels to any posts which mention vaccines in a negative light, as part of its wider censorship effort to counter what it claims is “COVID-19-related misinformation” on its platforms.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg claimed in a blog post this week that his new warning labels will contain “credible information” about the vaccines from the W.H.O. which Facebook believes is an infallible source of information COVID and pharmaceutical products. Zuckerberg said that this operation will be global, covering multiple languages.

The social network is also adding a tool to help get users vaccinated by connecting them to information about where and when they can get their shot.

The mainstream media have been applying continuous pressure on Facebook and Instagram for allowing “anti-vaxxer propaganda”, with Facebook responding by applying its notorious ‘fact-check’ labels and other censorship measures.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. from Childrens Health Defense recently explained how this coordinated censorship effort is also targeting high-profile advocates, including himself:

Over the last two weeks, Facebook and other social media sites have deplatformed me and many other critics of regulatory corruption and authoritarian public health policies. So, here is some fodder for those of you who have the eerie sense that the government/industry pandemic response feels like it was planned — even before there was a pandemic.

In fact, a simulation called Event 201, which involved top public health officials, academics and NGOs was in fact paid for by Bill and Melinda Gates, taking place only a few months before the ‘global pandemic’ was declared in January 2020. Kennedy describes the confab which took place in late October 2019 at Johns Hopkins University in Washington DC:

Gates’ co-conspirators included representatives from the World Bank, the World Economic Forum (Great Reset), Bloomberg/Johns Hopkins University Populations Center, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, various media powerhouses, the Chinese government, a former Central Intelligence Agency/National Security Agency director (there is no such thing as a former CIA officer), vaccine maker Johnson & Johnson, the finance and biosecurity industries and Edelman, the world’s leading corporate PR firm.

At Gates’ direction, these eminences role-played members of a Pandemic Control Council, wargaming government strategies for controlling the pandemic, the narrative and the population. Needless to say, there was little talk of building immune systems, off-the-shelf remedies or off-patent therapeutic drugs and vitamins, but lots of chatter about promoting uptake of new patentable antiviral drugs and vaccines.

But the participants primarily focused on planning industry-centric, fear-mongering, police-state strategies for managing an imaginary global coronavirus contagion culminating in mass censorship of social media.

The real danger here is the Government and Big Tech may in fact be censoring important critical voices of what are fast proving to be highly problematic experimental vaccines. In doing so, they may be preventing important public health opinion and commentary from being heard, which raises the likelihood that any rank corruption like with the WHO’s Swine Flu hoax in 2009, or the Swine Flu vaccine disaster in 1976 – may happen again, only this time on a global scale.

March 16, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | 1 Comment

Congressional Testimony: The Leading Activists for Online Censorship Are Corporate Journalists

By Glenn Greenwald | March 14, 2021

There are not many Congressional committees regularly engaged in substantive and serious work — most are performative — but the House Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law is an exception. Chaired by Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) and Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), it is, with a few exceptions, composed of lawmakers whose knowledge of tech monopolies and anti-trust law is impressive.

In October, the Committee, after a sixteen-month investigation, produced one of those most comprehensive and informative reports by any government body anywhere in the world about the multi-pronged threats to democracy raised by four Silicon Valley monopolies: Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple. The 450-page report also proposed sweeping solutions, including ways to break up these companies and/or constrain them from controlling our political discourse and political life. That report merits much greater attention and consideration than it has thus far received.

The Subcommittee held a hearing on Friday and I was invited to testify along with Microsoft President Brad Smith; President of the News Guild-Communications Workers of America Jonathan Schleuss, the Outkick’s Clay Travis, CEO of the Graham Media Group Emily Barr, and CEO of the News Media Alliance David Chavern. The ostensible purpose the hearing was a narrow one: to consider a bill that would vest media outlets with an exemption from anti-trust laws to collectively bargain with tech companies such as Facebook and Google so that they can obtain a greater share of the ad revenue. The representatives of the news industry and Microsoft who testified were naturally in favor because this bill (they have been heavily lobbying for it) because it would benefit them commercially in numerous way (the Microsoft President maintained the conceit that the Bill-Gates-founded company was engaging in self-sacrifice for the good of Democracy by supporting the bill but the reality is the Bing search engine owners are in favor of anything that weakens Google).

While I share the ostensible motive behind the bill — to stem the serious crisis of bankruptcies and closings of local news outlets — I do not believe that this bill will end up doing that, particularly because it empowers the largest media outlets such as The New York Times and MSNBC to dominate the process and because it does not even acknowledge, let alone address, the broader problems plaguing the news industry, including collapsing trust by the public (a bill that limited this anti-trust exemption to small local news outlets so as to allow them to bargain collectively with tech companies in their own interest would seem to me to serve the claimed purpose much better than one which empowers media giants to form a negotiating cartel).

But the broader context for the bill is the one most interesting and the one on which I focused in my opening statement and testimony: namely, the relationship between social media and tech giants on the one hand, and the news media industry on the other. Contrary to the popular narrative propagated by news outlets — in which they are cast as the victims of the supremely powerful Silicon Valley giants — that narrative is sometimes (not always, but sometimes) the opposite of reality: much if not most Silicon Valley censorship of political speech emanates from pressure campaigns led by corporate media outlets and their journalists, demanding that more and more of their competitors and ideological adversaries be silenced. Big media, in other words, is coopting the power of Big Tech for their own purposes.

My written opening testimony, which is on the Committee’s site, is also printed below. The video of the full hearing can be seen here. Here is the video of my opening five-minute statement:


Opening Statement of Glenn Greenwald

March 12, 2021

Before the House Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law

Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee:

Thank you for the opportunity to testify.

I am a constitutional lawyer, a journalist, and the author of six books on civil liberties, media and politics. After graduating New York University School of Law in 1994, I worked as a constitutional and media law litigator for more than a decade, first at the firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, and then at a firm I co-founded in 1997. During my work as a lawyer, I represented numerous clients in First Amendment free speech and press freedom cases, including individuals with highly controversial views who were targeted for punishment by state and non-state actors alike, as well as media outlets subjected to repressive state limitations on their rights of expression and reporting.

Since 2005, I have worked primarily as a journalist and author, reporting extensively on civil liberties debates, assaults on free speech and a free press, the value of a free and open internet, the implications of growing Silicon Valley monopolistic power, and the complex relationship between corporate media outlets and social media companies. That reporting has received the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service and the George Polk Award for National Security Reporting. In 2013, I co-founded the online news outlet The Intercept, and in 2016 co-founded its Brazilian branch, The Intercept Brazil.

Over the last several years, my journalistic interest in and concern about the dangers of Silicon Valley’s monopoly power has greatly intensified — particularly as wielded by Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple. The dangers posed by their growing power manifest in multiple ways. But I am principally alarmed by the repressive effect on free discourse, a free press, and a free internet, all culminating in increasingly intrusive effects on the flow of information and ideas and an increasingly intolerable strain on a healthy democracy.

Three specific incidents over the last four months represent a serious escalation in the willingness of tech monopolies to intrude into and exert control over our domestic politics through censorship and other forms of information manipulation:

  1. In the weeks leading up to the 2020 presidential election, The New York Post, the nation’s oldest newspaper, broke a major story based on documents and emails obtained from the laptop of Hunter Biden, son of the front-running presidential candidate Joe Biden. Those documents shed substantial light not only on the efforts of Hunter and other family members of President Biden to trade on his name and their influence on him for lucrative business deals around the world, but also raised serious questions about the extent to which President Biden himself was aware of and involved in those efforts.But Americans were barred from discussing that reporting on Twitter, and were actively impeded from reading about it by Facebook.That is because Twitter imposed a full ban on its users’ ability to link to the story: not just on their public Twitter pages but even in private Twitter chats. Twitter even locked the account of The New York Post, preventing the newspaper from using that platform for almost two weeks unless they agreed to voluntarily delete any references to their reporting about the Hunter Biden materials (the paper, rightfully, refused).

    Facebook’s censorship of this reporting was more subtle and therefore more insidious: a life-long Democratic Party operative who is now a Facebook official, Andy Stone, announced (on Twitter) that Facebook would be “reducing [the article’s] distribution on our platform” pending a review “by Facebook’s third-party fact checking partners.” In other words, Facebook tinkered with its algorithms to prevent the dissemination of this reporting about a long-time politician who was leading the political party for which this Facebook official spent years working (See The Intercept, “Facebook and Twitter Cross a Far More Dangerous Line Than What They Censor,” Oct. 15, 2020).

    This “fact-check” promised by Facebook never came. That is likely because it was not the New York Post’s reporting which turned out to be false but rather the claims made by these two social media giants to justify its suppression. The censorship justification was that the documents on which the reporting was based constituted either “hacked materials” and/or “Russian disinformation.”

    Neither of those claims is true. Even the FBI has acknowledged that there is no evidence whatsoever of any involvement by the Russian government in the procurement of that laptop, and not even the Biden family, to this very day, has claimed that a single word contained in the published documents is fabricated or otherwise inauthentic. Ample evidence — including the testimony of others involved in the original creation and circulation of those documents — demonstrates that they were fully genuine.

    This means that two of the largest and most powerful Silicon Valley giants suppressed crucial information about a leading presidential candidate — the one which employees at their companies overwhelmingly supported — shortly before voting commenced. While Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey apologized for this banning and acknowledged that it may have been wrong, Facebook has never done so.

    While we will never know whether this censorship altered the outcome of the election, it is clear that this was one of the most direct acts of information repression about an American presidential election in decades. That was possible only because of the vast power wielded by these platforms over our political discourse and our political lives.

  2. In the wake of the January 6 riot at the Capitol, Facebook, Google, Twitter and numerous other Silicon Valley giants united to remove the democratically elected sitting President of the United States from their platforms. While many defenders of this corporate censorship tried to minimize it by claiming the President could still be heard by giving speeches and holding press conferences, several leading news outlets followed suit by announcing that they would not carry his speeches live and would only allow to be heard the excerpts they deemed to be safe and responsible.In response, numerous world leaders — including several who had clashed in the past with President Trump — expressed grave concerns about the dangers posed to democracy by the ability of tech monopolies to effectively remove even democratically elected leaders from the internet.

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel argued through her spokesperson that “it is problematic that the president’s accounts have been permanently suspended,” adding that “the right to freedom of opinion is of fundamental importance.” Attempts to regulate speech, the Chancellor said, “can be interfered with, but by law and within the framework defined by the legislature — not according to a corporate decision.”

    The European Union’s Commissioner for Internal Markets Thierry Breton warned: “The fact that a CEO can pull the plug on POTUS’s loudspeaker without any checks and balances is perplexing.” Commissioner Breton noted that this collective Silicon Valley ban “is not only confirmation of the power of these platforms, but it also displays deep weaknesses in the way our society is organized in the digital space.” (CNBC, “Germany’s Merkel hits out at Twitter over ‘problematic’ Trump ban,” Jan. 21, 2021).

    The Health Secretary for the United Kingdom, Matt Hanckock, sounded similar alarms. Speaking to the BBC, he said “‘tech giants are ‘taking editorial decisions’ that raise a ‘very big question’ about how social media is regulated,” adding: “That’s clear because they’re choosing who should and shouldn’t have a voice on their platform” (CNBC, “Trump’s social media bans are raising new questions on tech regulation,” Jan. 11, 2021).

    Objections to Silicon Valley’s removal of President Trump from their platforms were even more severe from officials with the government of French President Emmanuel Macron. The French Minister for European Union Affairs Clement Beaune pronounced himself “shocked” by the news of President Trump’s banning, arguing: “This should be decided by citizens, not by a CEO.” And France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said: “There needs to be public regulation of big online platforms,” calling big tech “one of the threats” to democracy (Bloomberg News, “Germany and France Oppose Trump’s Twitter Exile,” Jan. 11, 2021).

    Perhaps the most fervent and eloquent warnings about the dangers posed by this episode came from Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. In a press conference held the day after the announcement, he said:

    It’s a bad omen that private companies decide to silence, to censor. That is an attack on freedom. Let’s not be creating a world government with the power to control social networks, a world media power. And also a censorship court, like the Holy Inquisition, but in order to shape public opinion. This is really serious.

    The Associated Press further quoted President López Obrador as asking: “How can a company act as if it was all powerful, omnipotent, as a sort of Spanish Inquisition on what is expressed?.” And AP confirmed that “ Mexico’s president vowed to lead an international effort to combat what he considers censorship by social media companies that have blocked or suspended the accounts of U.S. President Donald Trump,” and is “reaching out to other governments to form a common front on the issue” (Associated Press, “Mexican President Mounts Campaign Against Social Media Bans,” Jan. 14, 2021).

    These world leaders are expressing the same grave concern: that Silicon Valley giants wield power that is, in many instances, greater than that of any sovereign nation-state. But unlike the governments which govern those countries, tech monopolies apply these powers arbitrarily, without checks and without transparency. When doing so, they threaten not only American democracy but democracies around the world.

  3. Critics of Silicon Valley power over political discourse for years have heard the same refrain: if you don’t like how they are moderating content and policing discourse, you can go start your own social media platform that is more permissive. Leaving aside the centuries-old recognition that it is impossible, by definition, to effectively compete with monopolies, we now have an incident vividly proving how inadequate that alternative is. Several individuals who primarily identify as libertarians heard this argument from Silicon Valley’s defenders and took it seriously. They set out to create a social media competitor to Twitter and Facebook — one which would provide far broader free expression rights for users and, more importantly, would offer greater privacy protections than other Silicon Valley giants by refusing to track those users and commoditize them for advertisers. They called it Parler, and in early January, 2021, it was the single most-downloaded app in the Apple Play Store. This success story seemed to be a vindication for the claim that it was possible to create competitors to existing social media monopolies.But now, a mere two months after it ascended to the top of the charts, Parler barely exists. That is because several members of Congress with the largest and most influential social media platforms demanded that Apple and Google remove Parler from their stores and ban any further downloading of the app, and further demanded that Amazon, the dominant provider of web hosting services, cease hosting the site. Within forty-eight hours, those three Silicon Valley monopolies complied with those demands, rendering Parler inoperable and effectively removing it from the internet (See “How Silicon Valley, in a Show of Monopolistic Force, Destroyed Parler,” Glenn Greenwald, Jan. 12, 2021).

    The justification of this collective banning was that Parler had hosted numerous advocates of and participants in the January 6 Capitol riot. But even if that were a justification for removing an entire platform from the internet, subsequent reporting demonstrated that far more planning and advocacy of that riot was done on other platforms, including Facebook, Google-owned YouTube, Instagram and Twitter (See The Washington Post, “Facebook’s Sandberg deflected blame for Capitol riot, but new evidence shows how platform played role,“ Jan. 13, 2021; Forbes, “Sheryl Sandberg Downplayed Facebook’s Role In The Capitol Hill Siege—Justice Department Files Tell A Very Different Story,” Feb. 7, 2021).

    Whatever else one might want to say about the destruction of Parler, it was a stark illustration of how these Silicon Valley giants could obliterate even a highly successful competitor overnight, with little effort, by uniting to do so. And it laid bare how inadequate is the claim that Silicon Valley’s monopolies can be challenged through competition.

How Congress sets out to address Silicon Valley’s immense and undemocratic power is a complicated question, posing complex challenges. The proposal to vest media companies with an antitrust exemption in order to allow them to negotiate as a consortium or cartel seeks to rectify a real and serious problem — the vacuuming up of advertising revenue by Google and Facebook at the expense of the journalistic outlets which create the news content being monetized — but empowering large media companies could easily end up creating more problems than it solves.

That is particularly so given that it is often media companies that are the cause of Silicon Valley censorship of and interference in political speech of the kind outlined above. When these social media companies were first created and in the years after, they wanted to avoid being in the business of content moderation and political censorship. This was an obligation foisted upon them, often by the most powerful media outlets using their large platforms to shame these companies and their executives for failing to censor robustly enough.

Sometimes this pressure was politically motivated — demanding the banning of people whose ideologies sharply differs from those who own and control these media outlets — but more often it was motivated by competitive objectives: a desire to prevent others from creating independent platforms and thus diluting the monopolistic stranglehold that corporate media outlets exert over our political discourse. Further empowering this already-powerful media industry — which has demonstrated it will use its force to silence competitors under the guise of “quality control” — runs the real risk of transferring the abusive monopoly power from Silicon Valley to corporate media companies or, even worse, encouraging some sort of de facto merger in which these two industries pool their power to the mutual benefit of each.

This Subcommittee produced one of the most impressive and comprehensive reports last October detailing the dangers of the classic monopoly power wielded by Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple. That report set forth numerous legislative and regulatory solutions to comply with the law and a consensus of economic and political science experts about the need to break up monopolies wherever they arise.

Until that is done, none of these problems can be addressed in ways other than the most superficial, piecemeal and marginal. Virtually every concern that Americans across the political spectrum express about the dangers of Silicon Valley power emanates from the fact that they have been permitted to flout antitrust laws and acquire monopoly power. None of those problems — including their ability to police and control our political discourse and the flow of information — can be addressed until that core problem is resolved.


What is most striking is that while Silicon Valley censorship of online speech and interference in political discourse is recognized as a grave menace to a healthy democracy around the democratic world, it is often dismissed in the U.S. — especially by journalists — as some sort of trivial “culture war” question when they are not actively cheering and even demanding more of it. Even more bizarre is that opposition to oligarchical censorship and monopoly power is often depicted by the liberal-left as a right-wing cause, largely because they perceive (inaccurately) that such oligarchical discourse policing will operate in their favor.

Whatever labels one wants to apply to it, it should not require much work to recognize that vesting this magnitude of power in the hands of unaccountable billionaires, who operate outside the democratic process yet are highly influenced by public media-led pressure campaigns, is unsustainable.

March 14, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

How the Big-Tech monopolies are hurting their own value

By David James | OffGuardian | February 19, 2021

The increasing censorship by the tech monopolies is rightly prompting protests from those who see it as an attack on free speech. What has been less noticed, however, is that the social media companies are adopting one of the strangest, and potentially most self-defeating, business strategies ever devised.

They are telling a large slice of their customer base – possibly as many as 100 million in the US and tens of millions elsewhere – to get lost. It represents a massive opportunity for new players and it seems a near certainty that citizen Donald Trump – who is very much a business person and not so much a politician – will be looking closely at it, as will many others.

[David’s prediction was actually right on the money – this was published just the day after he submitted his article – ed.]

It is common for monopolies or oligopolies to treat their customers with disdain, although they usually spend some of their marketing budget pretending otherwise. What never happens, though, is for monopolies to tell a large number of their customers to go away.

It is the equivalent of JD Rockefeller, owner of the infamous monopoly Standard Oil, refusing to sell petrol to anyone who voted for the Democratic party. What it confirms is that these companies have become political entities rather than businesses, a change of direction that will inevitably weaken them.

The social media company most vulnerable is also the most aggressive. Twitter has deplatformed Trump and is removing, at a rapid rate, users it deems to be ‘contravening the terms of service’ or ‘violating community standards’, or whatever. The company is valued at $US57 billion yet its sales are falling and it only started to make profits in 2018, when it recorded a $US191 million profit.

By 2019 it was back in the red and in 2020 it came in with a massive $US1.4 billion loss. Although the share price has almost doubled over the last year – as Keynes said, markets can stay irrational longer than you can remain solvent – the vulnerability is unmistakable.

Such counterintuitive share price movement is not entirely without logic. Investors typically attempt to price the future value of a company, not the present. Social media companies get high valuations because investors expect that they will continue to grow: increase their customers, sales and profits. That is far less likely to happen when you tell a large portion of your customers to look elsewhere.

Facebook and Google are far less vulnerable than Twitter but they also have high valuations. The basic metric used to assess shares is the price-earnings ratio (PE). Facebook’s PE ratio is 35 and Google’s is 30, which are very high for mature companies. Roughly, it means that it will take, respectively, 35 and 30 years to pay back the value of the shares at the current level of profitability.

The only way that makes any sense is for these companies to continue growing, which was already difficult enough. Facebook boasts having over two billion users and Google over four billion users. They already saturate the market; there isn’t much upside. Achieving growth becomes even harder when you deliberately turn away customers. Indeed, it is a deliberate choice to shrink.

Google’s and Facebook’s shift in attitude towards customers is an object lesson in what happens when businesses get too big and underlines why effective anti-trust law is crucial for economic and social health. On the way up, they were exceptionally innovative; so effective at providing better value to advertisers that they destroyed much of the world’s mainstream media industry.

Yet now that they are in a position of power the focus has shifted. They have become increasingly concerned about aligning themselves with politicians and government to get legal protection for their market dominance. When Mark Zuckerberg donated $US400 million to ‘help’ local election offices in the recent US election, the commercial rationale was unmistakable.

To date, new competitors have been relatively small and, some, such as Parler and Telegram, are being openly attacked with blatant anti-competitive tactics by what is surely one of the worst cartels ever. Aggressively doing whatever is required to take out the competition is, of course, another typical behaviour of monopolies.

That is where Trump, and those associated with him, may prove to be significant. The biggest barrier to entry in the digital media space tends not to be the technology but the marketing. That is what Facebook and Google at one time excelled at; it was key to their success. Marketing is labour intensive and costly, which makes it difficult for would-be competitors to gain traction.

If there was an enterprise associated with Trump, however, marketing costs would be far lower. He already appeals to tens of million of supporters who are being told they are not wanted by the tech monopoly. He represents so-called ‘populism’, which is to say he is very popular.

That is what powerful political and corporate elites, and social media companies – ‘GloboCap’ – find intolerable and are attacking in what is being accurately described as an American coup. It is hard to imagine that the potential market pull associated with providing an alternative to what amounts to an attack on democracy will not be exploited commercially.

This is not to suggest that the social media giants will go out of business, although Twitter may get into real trouble. But it is worth noting that very few companies, even giant monopolies, last longer than 20 years. Many get acquired, which invariably works out badly (an example being AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner, which will probably result in CNN being sold).

The most common reason businesses fail is that, when faced with new competitive threats, they are unable to innovate because they have become habituated into repeating what made them successful in the past.

That is exactly how Google and Facebook succeeded. When they offered advertisers a more cost-effective option than just space on a page, or a time slot in a program, almost no newspaper or television company was able to respond with a new way of providing value for their advertising customers. They simply went into a tail spin.

The tech giants seem unassailable now; Google and Facebook are two of the most highly valued companies in the world. But no company is invulnerable, and what the social media giants are doing to their customers is, from a business perspective, extremely unusual.

They are no longer just offering users the opportunity to “stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them,” to quote Facebook’s ‘vision statement.’ They are telling them what they can, and cannot, say. They are even trying to shape what they think.

It seems a near certainty that well-capitalised business interests will be noticing this – and preparing to eat their lunch. That could significantly affect what at the moment is looking like a descent into an information dictatorship.

February 19, 2021 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Leave a comment

DHS is paying Deranged Leftists to find a way to make you change your political beliefs

By Eric Striker | National Justice | February 19, 2021

Fresh off a summer of prolonged murder and arson organized by leftists, the Department of Homeland Security announced the lucky winners of its “domestic terrorism prevention” grant system last September.

One recipient program is at American University’s School of Communications, which got $568,613 from the DHS to partner with Google’s Jigsaw (an AI project that specializes in manipulating search results to achieve political ends) in order to “define and describe the growing threat of violent white supremacist extremist disinformation, evaluate attitudinal inoculation as a strategy for communication to combat the threat, and develop a suite of operational tools for use by practitioners and stakeholders.”

The highly subjective language of this description is only the tip of the iceberg. The project is being led by Kurt Braddock, a professor of Public Communications at AU. Braddock is known for pioneering social engineering and Soviet-style indoctrination techniques as a “vaccine” against what he arbitrarily deems to be “hate.”

Braddock’s leading role in this project, which seeks to develop his theories and put them into practice on a wide scale, is cause for concern. He doesn’t hide his fanatical left-wing prejudices, and he makes it a point to show his disregard for fundamental American values like free speech.

“Stochastic Terrorism”

Last month, Braddock penned a piece for Common Dreams declaring Donald Trump a “stochastic terrorist.”

The logic of the stochastic terrorism concept is that an individual engaging in lawful political advocacy should be found guilty of a crime if a person who he has no relationship to but shares his critique crosses the line and becomes violent. In other words, guilt by association.

In his article, he asserts that Trump should’ve been held responsible for the FBI agent instigated plot to kidnap Gretchen Whitmer, merely for previously tweeting the slogan “LIBERATE MICHIGAN.”

To understand the absurdity of the idea, Dylann Roof told investigators that his main inspiration for the shooting spree at the Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina was reading interracial crime statistics, which the FBI itself compiles and releases every year. Under a system that prosecutes stochastic terrorism, the FBI itself would be partially responsible.

For Braddock, there is no such thing as the peaceful expression of beliefs or even raw data that challenges his worldview. Most enlightened people side with Socrates in the trial that found him guilty and put him to death for blasphemy, but the assistant professor upholds the Athenian court’s decision, “As a professor of communication, my teaching and research is based on a fact that has been clear since the days of Socrates– words have consequences,” he says.

In an interview with CBS News earlier this week, he reiterated this view, complaining that “far-right leaders” will be emboldened by Trump’s Senate acquittal into making statements that “motivate the far right” due to seeing a lack of “repercussions.”

The underlying first principle of all of Braddock’s work, seen in works like Weaponized Words which talks about using social psychology and manipulation to alter people’s political values, relies on the assertion that simply disagreeing with him on a broad range of issues is an act of violence.

Braddock’s Experiments Aren’t New

While Braddock may present his ideas and experiments as novel to DHS grant makers, they are in truth mostly taken from the established work of Chinese commissars in the 1970s and 80s.

In Michael Keane’s The Chinese Television Industry, he details the Maoist theory of culture and mass media. Journalists and state-backed intellectuals in China were instructed to become “guardians of the soul” tasked with instilling loyalty to the ruling elite’s interests as a way to “protect” the masses from the “viral infection” of so-called disinformation and counter-revolution.

The process of social engineering was referred to by Chinese officials as “positive education.” In Keane’s retelling, “positive education” was described as a way to “inoculate” the people against ideas critical of the state. Positive education methods were used until the 1980s.

In Braddock’s experiments, individuals are shown pro-white or populist arguments deliberately taken out-of-context in a way to induce a psychological response. The subjects are then rapidly bombarded with ideological “counter-arguments,” almost identical in method to what Maoists did on a wide scale in China.

Braddock claims these experiments have shown a high success rate in “inoculating” white people against anti-establishment ideas. Through his partnership with Google, he is trying to figure out ways to apply this on an industrial scale to social media, similar to how Mao attempted to solidify obedience to his doctrine through newspapers and television in China.

Petty Partisanship, Not Science

Braddock’s social media behavior reveals an individual deeply entrenched in the world of the online far-left.

In one tweet tagging Tom Cotton, he refers to him as a fascist “licking the boots of those who advocate white supremacy” over a June op-ed calling for government action against unabated anarchist violence.

In an older message from 2016, Braddock refers to Antifa members who tried to stab outnumbered Sacramento nationalists attending a permitted march as “counter-protesters.”

A cursory look at Braddock’s personal webpage is filled with Rick & Morty references and infantile writings that demonstrate a lack of professionalism, such as a self-description that reads “Terrorism is bad, so I try to understand, interpret, and stop it. Counter-terrorism is good, so I try to do work that helps it.”

It should be noted that the money behind this crusade was allocated to Braddock’s team by the Trump administration. At best, the grant is a huge waste of taxpayer dollars. But the malice behind his thinking should not be underestimated. This small-souled man isn’t a blogger for the Huffington Post, he has the full deference of history’s most advanced surveillance state. If he gets his way, half of America could be classified as terrorists targeted for re-education. The consequences of this kind of designation is no laughing matter.

February 19, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

The Tycoon Plot

By ISRAEL SHAMIR • Unz Review • February 11, 2021

Millionaires want to make money. Billionaires want to make history. We may add that multi-billionaires take it further; they want mankind to adapt to their needs and wishes. As for people who control trillions, why, they care about our wishes as much as we care about ants while sweeping the garden. We do not apply ant-killer until anthills encroach on our flowerbeds; but we do not hesitate if we deem it necessary. Mankind came across many megalomaniacs; some of them had a lot of power. Genghis Khan was one. However, they were always territorially limited. Mighty Genghis could send tremors all the way to Rome, but the English and French didn’t have to care about the rising Mongol empire. New super-tycoons have no such limitations. Globalisation has allowed them to think outside the box. Their moves had been long anticipated by cinema, the world of dreams. As dreams allow a psychologist to ponder man’s desires and fears, cinematography offers insights into the collective ego of mankind. What did we fear in the relatively free Seventies?

A classic villain of 1970s and 80s was the evil tycoon. James Bond took on some of them. Meet Hugo Drax of the Moonraker, or Karl Stromberg of The Spy Who Loved Me; these guys were willing to destroy mankind to replace it with a better version. Stromberg planned to trigger a global nuclear war and survive it underwater. Drax intended to poison mankind with his deadly gas and repopulate the world with his new chosen ones. Another one was de Wynter, the super-villain of The Avengers, played by Sean Connery. He controlled the world weather, and could kill us all off by hurricanes and tsunamis.

Before the tycoons, when the Cold war raged, a villain was a KGB agent or a Chinese operative. As détente calmed relations between the blocks, the agents went out of fashion; later, the fantastic villains of Marvel came into a vogue. The evil tycoons were uncomfortably close to the real thing; and they moved from the cinematic world into our reality.

The world we live in is the world formed by evil tycoons. They are the modern Demiurges, the evil creators of the Gnostics, an early sect that confronted the Church. Like the Demiurges, they are practically omnipotent; stronger than the State. The government needs lot of permissions and authorisations to spend a penny. If a penny had been misspent, the dark word ‘corruption’ will sound. ‘Corruption’ is a silly concept; by applying it, the oligarchs eliminated state competition, for they can pay whatever they want to whomever they wish. The State must observe intricate arcane rules, while the tycoons have no such limits. As a result, they shape our minds and lives, making the State a poor legitimate king among powerful and wealthy barons.

The Corona crisis is a result of their activity. Now, a group of WHO scientists completed its four weeks inspection tour of Wuhan trying to find out how the virus found its way to humans; some of them think (as President Trump did) the virus escaped the Wuhan Lab. Matt Ridley of The Daily Telegraph concluded his piece analysing their findings: “A growing number of top experts [he provides the list] say that a lab leak remains a plausible scientific hypothesis to be investigated”. It is rather unlikely, said the WHO, but other explanations (pangolins etc) also border on the improbable. The Chinese are understandably upset. Hua Chunying, the spokeswoman for the Foreign Affairs ministry (the Chinese counterpart for the State Department’s Ned Price) rejected the idea saying, “The United States should open the biological lab at Fort Detrick, and invite WHO experts to conduct origin-tracing in the United States”. The Guardian report said she promoted “a conspiracy theory that it came from a US army lab”; while Ms Hua accused the US of spreading “conspiracy theories and lies” tracing the source to Wuhan. Whatever we say is a fact-based result of diligent research; whatever you say is a conspiracy theory – both the US and China representatives subscribe to this mantra.

Our own Ron Unz made an excellent analysis of these accusations and counter-accusations in his April 2020 piece. He noted that the virus attack in Wuhan took place at the worst possible time and place for the Chinese; therefore, an incidental release (or intentional release by the Chinese) is extremely unlikely. Ron Unz suggested that it was an American biowarfare attack upon China. Didn’t American people suffer from the disease? Yes, the US government is “grotesquely and manifestly incompetent” and they were likely to expect “a massive coronavirus outbreak in China would never spread back to America”.

Perhaps, but a better explanation is that some evil tycoon(s) played the part of Karl Stromberg who intended to nuke both Moscow and New York causing war and world-wide devastation, as in the James Bond movie. It could be somebody like Bill Gates, who is a major investor in Wuhan Lab. A fact-checking site with its weasel language admitted that the Lab “has received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, but Bill Gates can hardly be called a “partner” in the laboratory.” Sure, not a partner. Just an investor, and that is more important than a partner. And he is not the only one; other multi-billionaires also are involved in bioresearch, in vaccine manufacturing, in Big Pharma. “Glaxo, BlackRock, and Bill Gates are all partners, but not owners of Pfizer”, says another fact-checker. “In 2015, Anthony Fauci did issue a USD 3.7 million grant to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, but not to “create the coronavirus” – the fact-checking site adds. Well, you could not possibly expect Fauci to word the grant in such a straightforward way, could you?

Perhaps it is too formidable a job even for an evil tycoon like Gates. A plot of several evil tycoons is more likely. Together, they could try to change the world and mankind to suit them.

The evil tycoons could poison China on their New Year holiday and take this uppity state down a ring or two. They could import the virus into the US to undermine and remove Trump whom they hated. (He was certain to win the elections but for Corona.) They could poison Europe to weaken it and make it more docile and obedient to their demands – and to buy their assets on the cheap. Corona and lockdown did not harm them for they are normally withdrawn from the bustle of the common man’s life.

The billionaires control the media; that much we know, and the part media has played in the Corona crisis was enormous. The media coverage of the crisis has a huge hidden cost. Try to publish information you consider important on the front page of a newspaper. It will cost you a lot. Still, all newspapers belonging to the Billionaires’ Media block beginning with the New York Times and ending with Haaretz gave at least a third of its front page to Corona news each day. The sheer cost of this advertising runs into billions. Will we ever know who paid for it?

Steven Soderbergh’s (2011) film Contagion predicted many features of the Covid-19, notably the origin of the virus. In the film, the disease originates from bats in China and is spread through markets where contaminated pork meat is sold. How could Soderbergh (or his script writer Scott Z. Burns) possibly know eight years before the event that the contagion should originate in the Chinese bats? Who told him? Wouldn’t you expect he knew something? Burns was instructed by WHO experts, the CNN site explains. Isn’t it interesting that the same Bill Gates is a major donor of WHO? Is it entirely impossible that already in 2011 Gates’ people began to leak some details of the future virus through their own WHO to Hollywood?

The tycoons could force a weak state to follow their instructions. Scientists do obey orders: otherwise, no grants, no positions. In April 2020, the German scientists were ordered, “to instill the fear of Corona”. And they did it, as we learned this week, producing numbers of dead on demand.

It seems that tycoons gained most from the Corona Crisis. Their assets grew by trillions, while the assets of the middle classes decreased by the same amount. More importantly, all states suffered from the crisis; they took loans and credit, they were responsible for their citizens’ health, while billionaires just had fun and enjoyed it. For this reason, I tend to dismiss the case against states, be it the US or China, while (some) billionaires appear the only possible villains.

These billionaires are able to influence people much better that the state. Consider Pierre Omidyar. Besides being the owner of eBay, he is the force behind hundreds of NGOs. His organisations form the ‘progressive’ agenda and train the foot soldiers of the Green Deal. Roslyn Fuller of Spiked-online checked the plethora of NGOs he employs.

She says his NGOs and charities are “engaged in ‘social engineering’ – that is, using their resources to artificially change the structure of society to how they think it should be. If successful this would amount to an extreme circumvention of democracy, utilising money not just to win elections, but to substitute paid or subsidised content for actual support, and thereby flip an entire political culture on to a different track by amplifying some voices and drowning out others.”

He is just one of the Masters of Discourse, next to the infamous George Soros. Facebook, Google, Twitter and Amazon are even more powerful. The billionaires have immense clout and they decide what we can and can’t say and write. Just last week Amazon banned my Cabbala of Power, a book that was sold by them for some ten years. The estimable The Unz Review is banned on Facebook and shadow-banned on Google. Twitter switched-off President Trump, showing who is the real boss of the United States. Probably almost all movements described as ‘leftists’ nowadays are engineered by the tycoons like Omidyar or Soros. True left had been left for dead on the battlefield of ideas.

The tycoons are directly involved in the Corona Crisis, because its results are good for them. And it means they have us where they want to have us, and they won’t let us out. We are cancelled until we regain the government and cancel them.

SAGE, as British Corona management team rather presumptuously named itself (it included the ridiculous figure of Neil Ferguson, he of the millions of predicted deaths), already declared that lockdowns will be a part of British life for years to come, vaccine or no vaccine. The Guardian, the Voice of the Oligarchs, gently pooh-poohed them, for it is not good to declare what must happen right away. Let people have some hope, so they run to vaccinate themselves, and then only afterwards can we reveal that, sorry, it does not help, you still have to don a mask and observe social distance and, yes, suffer lockdowns. “It’s much easier to follow the rules if we think of them as temporary.”

The plotters’ plans aren’t secret; they were described by Klaus Schwab in his book The Great Reset. Schwab is not a great thinker, being merely a weak scientist with just a few publications, and not a good or even decent writer. He had to collaborate with a journalist Thierry Malleret to produce the book. He is just a voice for the tycoons. But the question is, will he/they get what they want?

My preliminary answer is No. We recently had an important event, Davos-2021, the online gathering of tycoons and their intellectual henchmen. For the first time in many years, they invited Vladimir Putin. Chairman Xi gave the first talk. The idea was to demonstrate that Russia and China agree to their plans. I was very worried, I must admit, and the Chinese leader’s speech didn’t calm me (as opposed to our friend Pepe Escobar who celebrated his appearance). Yes, Xi said China will proceed at its own speed and by its own route but towards the same goals. Sustainable, inclusive, all the dog-whistle words were there. I expected an even worse talk by Putin. For years he has wanted to be invited and co-opted by the Western decision-makers, and here was a great opportunity to jump on their bandwagon.

Putin surprised me. He flatly refused the offer of Schwab and his ilk. He condemned the manner of recent pre-Covid growth, for all the growth went into a few deep pockets. Moreover, he noted that digital tycoons are dangerous for the world. In his own words, “Modern technological giants, especially digital companies, are de facto competing with states. In the opinion of these companies, their monopoly is optimal. Maybe so but society is wondering whether such monopolism meets public interests”.

The tycoons were probably amazed. In 2007 in Munich, they laughed at him. Max Boot, a Russian Jewish émigré, called Putin, “The louse that roared” and added, “in Putin’s sinister and absurd rhetoric, you can hear an empire dying”. Mad Max didn’t know yet which empire is dying.

Putin was supposed to be softened up by pro-Navalny demos on January 23 (The Davos talk was on January 27), but he was not. Quite the reverse. The Russian President does not like to be pushed. The demo on January 31 was met with force; those detained were sentenced to heavy (by Russian standards) fines. Three European diplomats were expelled from Russia for joining the demonstration. Josep Borrell, a Spanish diplomat and a representative of the EU, went to Moscow and was harshly treated. In the concluding press-conference, the Russian minister for foreign affairs Sergey Lavrov told the press that Russia does not (repeat, not) consider the EU to be a “reliable partner”. The expulsions were carried out at the same time. In addition, Putin warned the West that ‘sanctions’ (acts of economic warfare) could cause Russia to use direct military force. It was probably the first such warning since 1968.

At the same time, Russia practically ended corona restrictions. Bars and restaurants have been opened for night revellers; sport events have returned; schools are open; in some parts of Russia, the masks became “recommended” instead of “compulsory”. Russians are now allowed to travel and return freely from many countries. The Russians have easy access for their vaccine Sputnik-V that was deemed by The Lancet the best of all existing Corona vaccines. It is a coup comparable to the first Sputnik launched in 1957, the Western experts said. Thus Russia has derailed the Grand Reset.

This development had caused a huge shift in consciousness in Russia. If until now (since 1970, at least) the Russian educated classes tended to feel inferior to the West, the prosperous lands of the free, then this has now changed. One of the leading Russian theatre directors, Constantine Bogomolov declared that the West is undone. The West’s compulsory political correctness, its culture-cancelling, its kneeling and boot-licking of BLM, its cult of transgenders, its fear of ‘harassment’ and sex, its obligatory smile, its wokeness, its fear of death (and of life!), are comparable to the behaviour of Alex, the victim of Clockwork Orange therapy, said Bogomolov.

The young man [Alex] does not just get rid of aggression – he is sick of music, he cannot see a naked woman, sex disgusts him. And in response to the blow, he licks the boot of the striker. The modern West is such a criminal who has undergone chemical castration and lobotomy. Hence this false smile of goodwill and all-acceptance, frozen on the face of a Western person. This is not the smile of Culture. It is a smile of degeneration.

He concludes:

The West tells us: Russia is at the tail of progress.

Wrong.

Just by chance, we have found ourselves at the tail of a runaway train, rushing headlong into [Hieronymus] Bosch’s hell, where we will be greeted by smiling multicultural, gender-neutral devils.

We should uncouple our carriage off the train, make a sign of cross and start rebuilding our good old Europe, the Europe we dreamed of. The Europe they have lost.

Take notice of his call to ‘make the sign of the cross’. In the West, the churches are barred, service had been discontinued. The Anglican Church is on the verge of dying, with its Archbishop of Canterbury celebrating BLM, removing statues from the churches, accepting every SAGE edict locking the churches up. Meanwhile Russian churches are all open and worshippers are pouring into their cathedrals every feast and Sunday.

Russian boys and girls are flirting with each other, fearless of MeToo and harassment charges. Russian cafes are open. Whoever wants, can get a jab against Covid, or ignore it.

For the first time in many years, Russia shows the way for the West. This is good. Perhaps, the West, after a long-needed correction, will be able to overtake Russia again. Though Russia showed the way of socialism to Europe, the best results of socialism were achieved elsewhere, in the North of Europe. Good old Europe (and the US, its overseas offshoot) are still able to repeat this feat and get rid of the plotting tycoons and their preaching of compulsory love. At this occasion, perhaps banning all tycoons is a good idea. In the better world before their rise, there were no multi-billionaires. History is not over; we are entering the most interesting part of it. Be of good cheer!

Israel Shamir can be reached at adam@israelshamir.net

February 11, 2021 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Silicon Valley and WEF-Backed Foundation Announce Global Initiative for COVID-19 Vaccine Records

Multiple airlines are now testing a digital health passport, called CommonPass, that will store health information needed for travel on a secure, easy-to-update app. The Commons Project
By Whitney Webb | Unlimited Hangout | January 15, 2021

Silicon Valley’s most influential companies, alongside healthcare companies, US intelligence contractors and the Commons Project Foundation, recently launched the Vaccination Credential Initiative. The initiative’s ambitions reach far beyond vaccines and will have major implications for civil liberties.

On Thursday, tech giants with deep ties to the US national-security state—Microsoft, Oracle, and the MITRE corporation—announced that they had partnered with several health-care companies to create the Vaccination Credential Initiative (VCI) to advance the implementation of digital COVID-19 vaccination records.

According to a Reuters report, the VCI “aims to help people get encrypted digital copies of their immunization records stored in a digital wallet of their choice” because the “current system [of vaccination records] does not readily support convenient access and sharing of verifiable vaccination records.”

The initiative, on its website, notes that the VCI is a public-private partnership “committed to empowering individuals with digital vaccination records” so that participants can “protect and improve their health” and “demonstrate their health status to safely return to travel, work, school and life while protecting their data privacy.” The initiative is essentially built on a common framework of digital vaccination “wallets” called SMART Health Cards that are meant to “work across organizational and jurisdictional boundaries” as part of a new global vaccination-record infrastructure.

The host of the VCI website and one the initiative’s key backers is the Commons Project Foundation. That foundation, in partnership with the World Economic Forum (WEF), runs the Common Trust Network, which has three goals that are analogous to those of VCI. As listed on the WEF website, the network’s goals are (1) to empower individuals by providing digital access to their health information; (2) to make it easier for individuals to understand and comply with each destination’s requirements; and (3) to help ensure that only verifiable lab results and vaccination records from trusted sources are presented for the purposes of cross-border travel and commerce.

To advance these goals, the Common Trust Network is powered by “a global registry of trusted laboratory and vaccination data sources” as well as “standard formats for lab results and vaccination records and standard tools to make those results and records digitally accessible.”

How CommonPass works, thecommonsproject.org

Another, and related, Commons Project Foundation and WEF partnership is CommonPass. CommonPass, which is also supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, is both a framework and an app that “will allow individuals to access their lab results and vaccination records, and consent to have that information used to validate their COVID status without revealing any other underlying personal health information.” Current members of CommonPass, including JetBlue, Lufthansa, Swiss International Airlines, United Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic, are also members of the Common Trust Network.

This overlap between the Commons Project Foundation/WEF partnerships and the VCI illustrates that the WEF itself is involved with the VCI, albeit indirectly through their partners at the Commons Project Foundation. The Commons Project Foundation itself is worth exploring, as its cofounders, Paul Meyer and Bradley Perkins, have long-standing ties to the RAND Corporation, the US’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the International Rescue Committee, as noted in this article published last year by MintPress News. The IRC, currently run by Tony Blair protégé David Milliband, is developing a biometric ID and vaccination-record system for refugees in Myanmar in cooperation with the ID2020 Alliance, which is partnered with CommonPass backer, the Rockefeller Foundation. In addition, the ID2020 Alliance funds the Commons Project Foundation and is also backed by Microsoft, one of the key companies behind the VCI.

Wearable IDs for your Health and your Wallet

Overlap between digital vaccination records, promoted via initiatives such as CommonPass and VCI, and the push for a new global digital-identity system is no coincidence. Indeed, the developer of VCI’s SMART Health Cards framework at Microsoft Health, Josh C. Mandel, noted in his overview presentation on that framework that digital identity is integral to the digital vaccination-record effort. SMART Health Cards, as of now, are expected to include a person’s complete name, gender, birth date, mobile phone number, and email address in addition to vaccination information, though it is possible and likely that more personal information will be required as the initiative advances, given that VCI states that these identifiers are merely a starting point.

While advertised as digital vaccination records, SMART Health Cards are clearly intended to be used for much more. For instance, public information on the framework notes that SMART Health Cards are “building blocks that can be used across health care,” including managing a complete immunization record that goes far beyond COVID-19 vaccines, sharing data with public-health agencies, and communication with health-care providers.

Vaccine Credential Initiative partners, vaccinationcredential.org

Yet, this framework will not be limited to health-care information, as Mandel has said. In his presentation, he notes the application of SMART Health Cards could soon be used as IDs for commercial activity, such as renting a car. The VCI framework’s use of the term “digital wallet” to refer to its digital vaccination record is also suggestive of future connectivity to economic activity. Efforts to link digital identity, not just to economic activity but also to health data, have recently escalated, for example with the piloting of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (aka GAVI)–Mastercard–Trust Stamp partnership in Africa. That program, first launched in 2018, links Trust Stamp’s digital-identity platform with the GAVI-Mastercard Wellness Pass, a digital vaccination record, and Mastercard’s click-to-pay system run on AI technology called NuData. Mastercard and GAVI are both partnered with the ID2020 Alliance, which includes VCI member Microsoft.

Given the reasonable speculation that such platforms would utilize digital currency, specifically cryptocurrency, for financial activity, it is worth noting that VCI member Microsoft filed a patent in 2019 that would allow “human body activity,” including brain waves and body heat, to mine (i.e., generate) cryptocurrency. This, of course, would link biometrics to financial activity, among other things.

Such a system, as laid out in the Microsoft patent, would likely require the introduction of wearables in order to be implemented. Notably, numerous wearables for contactless identity, digital travel passes, and payment devices have recently been launched. Examples include DigitalDNA, Proxy, and FlyWallet. FlyWallet is particularly notable as their latest product, Keyble, is a wearable that combines digital identity through fingerprint authentication, which enables both contactless payments and health applications, such as vital-sign monitoring and data sharing with insurance companies and health-care providers.

The SMART Health Cards framework was developed by a team led by the chief architect of Microsoft Healthcare, Josh Mandel, who was previously the Health IT Ecosystem lead for Verily, formerly Google Life Sciences. Verily is currently heavily involved in COVID-19 testing throughout the United States, particularly in California, and links test recipients’ results to their Google accounts. Their other COVID-19 initiatives have been criticized due to still-unresolved privacy concerns, something that has also plagued several of Verily’s other efforts pre-COVID-19, including those involving Mandel.

Of particular concern is that Verily, and by extension Google, created Project Baseline, which has been collecting “actionable genetic information” with a focus on “population health” from participants since 2017. Yet, during the COVID-19 process, Project Baseline has become an important component of Verily’s COVID-19 testing efforts, raising the unsettling possibility that Verily has been obtaining Americans’ DNA data through its COVID-19 testing activities. While Verily has not addressed this possibility directly, it is worth noting that Google has been heavily involved in amassing genomic data for several years. For instance, in 2013, Google Genomics was founded with the goal of storing and analyzing DNA data on Google Cloud servers. Now known as Cloud Life Sciences, the Google subsidiary has since developed AI algorithms that can “build your genome sequence” and “identify all the mutations that an individual inherits from their parents.”

Google also has close ties with the best-known DNA testing companies in the United States, such as Ancestry.com. Ancestry, recently purchased by private-equity behemoth Blackstone, shares data with a secretive Google subsidiary that uses genomic data to develop lifespan-extending therapies. In addition, the wife of Google cofounder Sergey Brin, Anne Wojcicki, is the cofounder and CEO of DNA testing company 23andMe. Wojcicki is also the sister of the CEO of Google-owned YouTube, Susan Wojcicki.

Google and the majority of VCI’s backers—Microsoft, Salesforce, Cerner, Epic, the Mayo Clinic, and MITRE Corporation, Change Healthcare—are also prominent members of the MITRE-run COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition. Other members of that coalition include the CIA’s In-Q-Tel and the CIA-linked data-mining firm Palantir, as well as a myriad of health-care and health-record companies. The coalition fits well with the ambitions of Google and like-minded companies that have sought to gain access to troves of American health data under the guise of combatting COVID-19.

The COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition describes itself as a public-private partnership that has enabled “the critical infrastructure to enable collaboration and shared analytics” on COVID-19 through the sharing of health-care and COVID-19 data among members. That this coalition and VCI are intimately involved with MITRE Corporation is significant, given that MITRE is a well-known, yet secretive, contractor for the US government, specifically the CIA and other intelligence agencies, which has developed Orwellian surveillance and biometric technologies, including several now focused on COVID-19.

Just three days before the public announcement of VCI’s establishment, Microsoft Healthcare and Google’s Verily announced a partnership along with MIT and Harvard’s Broad Institute to share the companies’ cloud data and AI technologies with a “global network of more than 168,000 health and life sciences partners” to accelerate the Terra platform. Terra, originally developed by the Broad Institute and Verily, is an “open data ecosystem” focused on biomedical research, specifically the fields of cancer genomics, population genetics, and viral genomics. The biomedical data Terra amasses includes not only genetic data but also medical-imaging, biometric signals, and electronic health records. Google, through its partnership with the Pentagon, which was announced last September, has moved to utilize the analysis of such data in order to “predictively diagnose” diseases such as cancer and COVID-19. US military contractors, such as Advanced Technology International (ATI), have been developing wearables that would apply that AI-driven predictive diagnosis technology to COVID-19 diagnoses.

Predictive COVID-19 diagnosis is also an ambition of another company that backs VCI, Salesforce. Salesforce is one of three companies that created COVID 360, which Salesforce senior vice president Bob Vanstraelen describes as a “free full Coronavirus treatment solution for patients and citizens at risk” that is hosted on Salesforce Health Cloud and was by Deloitte’s Israel branch and the Israeli intelligence-linked AI firm Diagnostic Robotics. COVID 360 uses the Diagnostic Robotics clinical-predictions platform and applies it to COVID-19 so that “government agencies or caretakers” can identify individuals “in proximity to a potential positive coronavirus case” and mandate coronavirus testing and/or treatment regimes, based on a risk profile generated by COVID 360. Diagnostic Robotics and Salesforce are both members of the MITRE-run COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition.

Salesforce founder and CEO Marc Benioff, inclusivecapitalism.com

Salesforce founder, chair, and CEO Marc Benioff was previously a vice president at Oracle. Oracle, another VCI backer, was created as a spin-off of a CIA project of the same name, and its top executives have close ties to the outgoing Trump administration and also to Israel’s government. While Benioff’s pre-Salesforce history to a CIA-linked company like Oracle is significant, Benioff’s close ties to the World Economic Forum also deserve greater scrutiny.

Benioff is not only a member of the WEF’s board of trustees, but he is also the inaugural chair of the forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a “revolution” that its architect and WEF founder Klaus Schwab defines as a merging of humans’ physical, digital, and biological identities. Benioff is also the owner and cochair of Time magazine, which recently ran an entire issue focused on promoting the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the WEF-backed Great Reset.

Benioff also serves on the Council for Inclusive Capitalism, a collaboration between the Vatican and oligarchs to create a “more inclusive, sustainable and trusted economic system” for the twenty-first century. Alongside Benioff on the council are well-known figures such as Lynn Forester de Rothschild (close associate of Jeffrey Epstein and the Clintons), Mark Carney (UN special envoy for Climate Action and former Governor of the Bank of England), and William Lauder (executive chairman of Estée Lauder, nephew of Mega Group member Ronald Lauder) as well as the top executives of MasterCard, Visa, Dupont, Merck, Johnson & Johnson, BP, and Bank of America. Also present are the heads of the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations.

Benioff and others mentioned in this article are perfect examples of the cross-pollination between groups of oligarchs and their associated foundation and organizations and how these networks are working together to pursue a common agenda. While the push for combining digital identity with vaccination records and economic activity appears, superficially, to be the efforts of various organizations and groups, the same individuals and entities appear time and again, pointing to a coordinated push to not only implement such a system, but manufacture consent for such a system among the global population.

The effort to manufacture consent for an all-encompassing digital identification system is notable given that its main “selling point” thus far has been coercion. We have been told that such a system is necessary, or we will never be able to return to work or school, we will never be able to travel and we will be prohibited from participating normally in the economy. While this system is being introduced in this way, it is essential to point out that coercion is a built-in part of this infrastructure and will be used to modify human behavior to great effect, reaching far beyond just the issue of COVID-19 vaccines if implemented.

Whitney Webb has been a professional writer, researcher and journalist since 2016. She has written for several websites and, from 2017 to 2020, was a staff writer and senior investigative reporter for Mint Press News. She currently writes for The Last American Vagabond.

January 15, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trump’s been deleted from internet, and any one of us could be next

By Kit Knightly | OffGuardian | January 14, 2021

Donald Trump has been deleted from the internet. He hasn’t been put behind a warning or had his followers reduced, or been forced to switch platforms. He’s gone.
Snapchat. Twitter. Facebook. YouTube. Google. Amazon. Instagram. Shopify. Twitch. Tiktok. Gone.

And he’s the President of the United States. If they can do it to him, they can do it to anyone.

Indeed, that’s the message being sent. It’s an intimidation move, designed to frighten people into policing themselves.

Many people have picked up on this already.

But unfortunately, many more are still lost in what they falsely believe to be the heady scent of victory. They’ll realise their mistake eventually, but it may be too late for us all by then.

It didn’t even stop at Trump, either. Tens of thousands of other people were banned in the following days.

For years the refrain from people defending censorship on social media – ironically, people who would usually identify as “socialists” – has been that private companies have the right to police their platforms as they see fit, and if you don’t like it you can switch to another social network.

… but now those other social networks are being shut down too.

It started with Gab a few years ago, but the recent assault on Parler was even stronger. Gab survived, Parler has not. The tech giants got together and stamped the life out of a smaller competitor. (Pretty sure antitrust laws are there to prevent exactly that scenario, but nevermind.)

The whole week since the “Capitol Hill Riot” has been one long display of dominance. A peacock fanning its tail or a silverback banging on tree trunks.

They are telling us who’s in charge, but some people are refusing to listen.

A common meme doing the rounds among “liberal” voices – who are these days well-schooled in missing the point – goes something like this: “If he’s too dangerous to have a twitter account, why does he have the nuclear codes?”

But, of course, the real question is – if they don’t even let him have a Twitter account, do you honestly think they let him anywhere near the nuclear codes?

Do you really think he has, or had, any power at all? Do you think Joe Biden does?

Do you think the same architecture that just publically castrated the “most powerful man on Earth” and the “leader of the free world” will suddenly start doing what it’s told when a “progressive” voice is in charge?

If they don’t bow to the will of the people now, why should they ever?

They won’t. They never have.

We’ve been told, in very clear terms, who has the power. And it is certainly not us, nor is it our elected representatives.

In fact, it’s not anyone with either democratic mandate or legal accountability, but rather a series of nameless executives, faceless bureaucrats and a succession of tech-billionaires forming a new breed of royalty.

Deleting Donald Trump wasn’t just a “panic response” to the “violence” on Capitol Hill, and it wasn’t a punishment for the man himself – It was a calculated display of honesty. A declaration of intent.

A notification of the limitations we’re all going to face as the increasingly dystopian new normal shapes a different kind of society.

It’s all been clearly co-ordinated. The Deep State and big business and the media working together. Police are instructed to create unrest on Capitol Hill, allow “rioters” into the building. The media report it as an “attempted coup”, while the social networks remove all of Trump’s denunciations so he can be blamed for “inciting violence”.

They created the lie. They spread the lie. They silenced anyone who would gainsay the lie. They have, as Karl Rove would put it, “created reality”, and now we’re here analysing it.

It was a big lie, this time, because it had to be. Because the man – or rather the office – was big. But for Joe Bloggs it can be a small lie. “he posted child porn” or “he was spreading hate” or “he was denying the pandemic”.

The precedent has been created. They can ban anyone they want and make up the reasons later.

Frank Zappa famously said:

The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.

Well, we’ve been shown the wall, and we’re being encouraged to cheer because the first person to run into it was Donald Trump. Rather predictably, millions have fallen for it.

January 14, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How Silicon Valley, in a Show of Monopolistic Force, Destroyed Parler

In the last three months, tech giants have censored political speech and journalism to manipulate U.S. politics, while liberals, with virtual unanimity, have cheered.

By Glenn Greenwald | January 12, 2021

Critics of Silicon Valley censorship for years heard the same refrain: tech platforms like Facebook, Google and Twitter are private corporations and can host or ban whoever they want. If you don’t like what they are doing, the solution is not to complain or to regulate them. Instead, go create your own social media platform that operates the way you think it should.

The founders of Parler heard that suggestion and tried. In August, 2018, they created a social media platform similar to Twitter but which promised far greater privacy protections, including a refusal to aggregate user data in order to monetize them to advertisers or algorithmically evaluate their interests in order to promote content or products to them. They also promised far greater free speech rights, rejecting the increasingly repressive content policing of Silicon Valley giants.

Over the last year, Parler encountered immense success. Millions of people who objected to increasing repression of speech on the largest platforms or who had themselves been banned signed up for the new social media company.

As Silicon Valley censorship radically escalated over the past several months — banning pre-election reporting by The New York Post about the Biden family, denouncing and deleting multiple posts from the U.S. President and then terminating his access altogether, mass-removal of right-wing accounts — so many people migrated to Parler that it was catapulted to the number one spot on the list of most-downloaded apps on the Apple Play Store, the sole and exclusive means which iPhone users have to download apps. “Overall, the app was the 10th most downloaded social media app in 2020 with 8.1 million new installs,” reported TechCrunch.

It looked as if Parler had proven critics of Silicon Valley monopolistic power wrong. Their success showed that it was possible after all to create a new social media platform to compete with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. And they did so by doing exactly what Silicon Valley defenders long insisted should be done: if you don’t like the rules imposed by tech giants, go create your own platform with different rules.

But today, if you want to download, sign up for, or use Parler, you will be unable to do so. That is because three Silicon Valley monopolies — Amazon, Google and Apple — abruptly united to remove Parler from the internet, exactly at the moment when it became the most-downloaded app in the country.

If one were looking for evidence to demonstrate that these tech behemoths are, in fact, monopolies that engage in anti-competitive behavior in violation of antitrust laws, and will obliterate any attempt to compete with them in the marketplace, it would be difficult to imagine anything more compelling than how they just used their unconstrained power to utterly destroy a rising competitor.


The united Silicon Valley attack began on January 8, when Apple emailed Parler and gave them 24 hours to prove they had changed their moderation practices or else face removal from their App Store. The letter claimed: “We have received numerous complaints regarding objectionable content in your Parler service, accusations that the Parler app was used to plan, coordinate, and facilitate the illegal activities in Washington D.C. on January 6, 2021 that led (among other things) to loss of life, numerous injuries, and the destruction of property.” It ended with this warning:

To ensure there is no interruption of the availability of your app on the App Store, please submit an update and the requested moderation improvement plan within 24 hours of the date of this message. If we do not receive an update compliant with the App Store Review Guidelines and the requested moderation improvement plan in writing within 24 hours, your app will be removed from the App Store.

The 24-hour letter was an obvious pretext and purely performative. Removal was a fait accompli no matter what Parler did. To begin with, the letter was immediately leaked to Buzzfeed, which published it in full. A Parler executive detailed the company’s unsuccessful attempts to communicate with Apple. “They basically ghosted us,” he told me. The next day, Apple notified Parler of its removal from App Store. “We won’t distribute apps that present dangerous and harmful content,” said the world’s richest company, and thus: “We have now rejected your app for the App Store.”

It is hard to overstate the harm to a platform from being removed from the App Store. Users of iPhones are barred from downloading apps onto their devices from the internet. If an app is not on the App Store, it cannot be used on the iPhone. Even iPhone users who have already downloaded Parler will lose the ability to receive updates, which will shortly render the platform both unmanageable and unsafe.

In October, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law issued a 425-page report concluding that Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google all possess monopoly power and are using that power anti-competitively. For Apple, they emphasized the company’s control over iPhones through its control of access to the App Store. As Ars Technica put it when highlighting the report’s key findings:

Apple controls about 45 percent of the US smartphone market and 20 percent of the global smartphone market, the committee found, and is projected to sell its 2 billionth iPhone in 2021. It is correct that, in the smartphone handset market, Apple is not a monopoly. Instead, iOS and Android hold an effective duopoly in mobile operating systems.

However, the report concludes, Apple does have a monopolistic hold over what you can do with an iPhone. You can only put apps on your phone through the Apple App Store, and Apple has total gatekeeper control over that App Store—that’s what Epic is suing the company over. . . .

The committee found internal documents showing that company leadership, including former CEO Steve Jobs, “acknowledged that IAP requirement would stifle competition and limit the apps available to Apple’s customers.” The report concludes that Apple has also unfairly used its control over APIs, search rankings, and default apps to limit competitors’ access to iPhone users.

Shortly thereafter, Parler learned that Google, without warning, had also “suspended” it from its Play Store, severely limiting the ability of users to download Parler onto Android phones. Google’s actions also meant that those using Parler on their Android phones would no longer receive necessary functionality and security updates.

It was precisely Google’s abuse of its power to control its app device that was at issue “when the European Commission deemed Google LLC as the dominant undertaking in the app stores for the Android mobile operating system (i.e. Google Play Store) and hit the online search and advertisement giant with €4.34 billion for its anti-competitive practices to strengthen its position in various of other markets through its dominance in the app store market.”

The day after a united Apple and Google acted against Parler, Amazon delivered the fatal blow. The company founded and run by the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, used virtually identical language as Apple to inform Parler that its web hosting service (AWS) was terminating Parler’s ability to have AWS host its site: “Because Parler cannot comply with our terms of service and poses a very real risk to public safety, we plan to suspend Parler’s account effective Sunday, January 10th, at 11:59PM PST.” Because Amazon is such a dominant force in web hosting, Parler has thus far not found a hosting service for its platform, which is why it has disappeared not only from app stores and phones but also from the internet.

On Thursday, Parler was the most popular app in the United States. By Monday, three of the four Silicon Valley monopolies united to destroy it.


With virtual unanimity, leading U.S. liberals celebrated this use of Silicon Valley monopoly power to shut down Parler, just as they overwhelmingly cheered the prior two extraordinary assertions of tech power to control U.S. political discourse: censorship of The New York Post’s reporting on the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop, and the banning of the U.S. President from major platforms. Indeed, one would be hard-pressed to find a single national liberal-left politician even expressing concerns about any of this, let alone opposing it.

Not only did leading left-wing politicians not object but some of them were the ones who pleaded with Silicon Valley to use their power this way. After the internet-policing site Sleeping Giants flagged several Parler posts that called for violence, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez asked: “What are @Apple and @GooglePlay doing about this?” Once Apple responded by removing Parler from its App Store — a move that House Democrats just three months earlier warned was dangerous anti-trust behavior — she praised Apple and then demanded to know: “Good to see this development from @Apple. @GooglePlay what are you going to do about apps being used to organize violence on your platform?”

The liberal New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg pronounced herself “disturbed by just how awesome [tech giants’] power is” and added that “it’s dangerous to have a handful of callow young tech titans in charge of who has a megaphone and who does not.” She nonetheless praised these “young tech titans” for using their “dangerous” power to ban Trump and destroy Parler. In other words, liberals like Goldberg are concerned only that Silicon Valley censorship powers might one day be used against people like them, but are perfectly happy as long as it is their adversaries being deplatformed and silenced (Facebook and other platforms have for years banned marginalized people like Palestinians at Israel’s behest, but that is of no concern to U.S. liberals).

That is because the dominant strain of American liberalism is not economic socialism but political authoritarianism. Liberals now want to use the force of corporate power to silence those with different ideologies. They are eager for tech monopolies not just to ban accounts they dislike but to remove entire platforms from the internet. They want to imprison people they believe helped their party lose elections, such as Julian Assange, even if it means creating precedents to criminalize journalism.

World leaders have vocally condemned the power Silicon Valley has amassed to police political discourse, and were particularly indignant over the banning of the U.S. President. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, various French ministers, and especially Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador all denounced the banning of Trump and other acts of censorship by tech monopolies on the ground that they were anointing themselves “a world media power.” The warnings from López Obrador were particularly eloquent:

Even the ACLU — which has rapidly transformed from a civil liberties organization into a liberal activist group since Trump’s election — found the assertion of Silicon Valley’s power to destroy Parler deeply alarming. One of that organization’s most stalwart defenders of civil liberties, lawyer Ben Wizner, told The New York Times that the destruction of Parler was more “troubling” than the deletion of posts or whole accounts: “I think we should recognize the importance of neutrality when we’re talking about the infrastructure of the internet.”

Yet American liberals swoon for this authoritarianism. And they are now calling for the use of the most repressive War on Terror measures against their domestic opponents. On Tuesday, House Homeland Security Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) urged that GOP Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley “be put on the no-fly list,” while The Wall Street Journal reported that “Biden has said he plans to make a priority of passing a law against domestic terrorism, and he has been urged to create a White House post overseeing the fight against ideologically inspired violent extremists and increasing funding to combat them.”

So much of this liberal support for the attempted destruction of Parler is based in utter ignorance about that platform, and about basic principles of free speech. I’d be very surprised if more than a tiny fraction of liberals cheering Parler’s removal from the internet have ever used the platform or know anything about it other than the snippets they have been shown by those seeking to justify its destruction and to depict it as some neo-Nazi stronghold.

Parler was not founded, nor is it run, by pro-Trump, MAGA supporters. The platform was created based in libertarian values of privacy, anti-surveillance, anti-data collection, and free speech. Most of the key executives are more associated with the politics of Ron Paul and the CATO Institute than Steve Bannon or the Trump family. One is a Never Trump Republican, while another is the former campaign manager of Ron Paul and Rand Paul. Among the few MAGA-affiliated figures is Dan Bongino, an investor. One of the key original investors was Rebekah Mercer.

The platform’s design is intended to foster privacy and free speech, not a particular ideology. They minimize the amount of data they collect on users to prevent advertiser monetization or algorithmic targeting. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, they do not assess a user’s preferences in order to decide what they should see. And they were principally borne out of a reaction to increasingly restrictive rules on the major Silicon Valley platforms regarding what could and could not be said.

Of course large numbers of Trump supporters ended up on Parler. That’s not because Parler is a pro-Trump outlet, but because those are among the people who were censored by the tech monopolies or who were angered enough by that censorship to seek refuge elsewhere.

It is true that one can find postings on Parler that explicitly advocate violence or are otherwise grotesque. But that is even more true of Facebook, Google-owned YouTube, and Twitter. And contrary to what many have been led to believe, Parler’s Terms of Service includes a ban on explicit advocacy of violence, and they employ a team of paid, trained moderators who delete such postings. Those deletions do not happen perfectly or instantaneously — which is why one can find postings that violate those rules — but the same is true of every major Silicon Valley platform.

Indeed, a Parler executive told me that of the thirteen people arrested as of Monday for the breach at the Capitol, none appear to be active users of Parler. The Capitol breach was planned far more on Facebook and YouTube. As Recode reported, while some protesters participated in both Parler and Gab, many of the calls to attend the Capitol were from YouTube videos, while many of the key planners “have continued to use mainstream platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.” The article quoted Fadi Quran, campaign director at the human rights group Avaaz, as saying: “In DC, we saw QAnon conspiracists and other militias that would never have grown to this size without being turbo-charged by Facebook and Twitter.”

And that’s to say nothing of the endless number of hypocrisies with Silicon Valley giants feigning opposition to violent rhetoric or political extremism. Amazon, for instance, is one of the CIA’s most profitable partners, with a $600 million contract to provide services to the agency, and it is constantly bidding for more. On Facebook and Twitter, one finds official accounts from the most repressive and violent regimes on earth, including Saudi Arabia, and pages devoted to propaganda on behalf of the Egyptian regime. Does anyone think these tech giants have a genuine concern about violence and extremism?

So why did Democratic politicians and journalists focus on Parler rather than Facebook and YouTube? Why did Amazon, Google and Apple make a flamboyant showing of removing Parler from the internet while leaving much larger platforms with far more extremism and advocacy of violence flowing on a daily basis?

In part it is because these Silicon Valley giants — Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple — donate enormous sums of money to the Democratic Party and their leaders, so of course Democrats will cheer them rather than call for punishment or their removal from the internet. Part of it is because Parler is an upstart, a much easier target to try to destroy than Facebook or Google. And in part it is because the Democrats are about to control the Executive Branch and both houses of Congress, leaving Silicon Valley giants eager to please them by silencing their adversaries. This corrupt motive was made expressly clear by long-time Clinton operative Jennifer Palmieri:

The nature of monopolistic power is that anti-competitive entities engage in anti-trust illegalities to destroy rising competitors. Parler is associated with the wrong political ideology. It is a small and new enough platform such that it can be made an example of. Its head can be placed on a pike to make clear that no attempt to compete with existing Silicon Valley monopolies is possible. And its destruction preserves the unchallengeable power of a tiny handful of tech oligarchs over the political discourse not just of the United States but democracies worldwide (which is why Germany, France and Mexico are raising their voices in protest).

No authoritarians believe they are authoritarians. No matter how repressive are the measures they support — censorship, monopoly power, no-fly lists for American citizens without due process — they tell themselves that those they are silencing and attacking are so evil, are terrorists, that anything done against them is noble and benevolent, not despotic and repressive. That is how American liberals currently think, as they fortify the control of Silicon Valley monopolies over our political lives, exemplified by the overnight destruction of a new and popular competitor.

January 12, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Senior House Republican Says Parler Shutdown by Rivals Breaks Monopoly Laws

By James Tweedie – Sputnik – 11.01.2021

Attempts by Big Tech to muzzle US President Donald Trump and his supporters have had mixed results. While conservative social media site Parler has been shut down, Twitter shares lost $5 billion in value on Monday following the deletion of Trump’s hugely-popular account.

California Congressman Devin Nunes has accused Big tech firms of breaching anti-trust, civil rights and racketeering law by banning social media site Parler.

Nunes, the senior Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said Amazon, Apple and Google committed a “clear violation” of laws when they banned the ‘free speech’ social media platform popular with conservatives.

“There should be a racketeering investigation on all the people that coordinated this attack on not only a company, but on all of those like us,” Nunes told Fox News on Sunday. “I have 3 million followers on Parler. Tonight I will no longer be able to communicate with those people and they’re Americans.”

Tech giant Amazon shut down Parler just after midnight US Pacific time (08:00 GMT) when it evicted the site from its rented servers. Google and Apple had earlier blocked access to the Parler mobile phone app, although tech-savvy users were still able to download and install it after changing the security settings on their devices.

“The effect of this is that there is no longer a free and open social media company or site for any American to get on any longer,” Nunes said. “Poof, it’s gone.”

Amazon claimed Parler was “unable to effectively identify and remove content that encourages or incites violence against others,” posing “a very real risk to public safety”. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, Parler does not aggressively moderate users’ posts according to a set of “community guidelines”.

Unintended Consequences

On Friday Parler stormed to the number one spot on Apple’s app store after Twitter deleted President Donald Trump’s account — which had some 88 million followers — in the wake of last Wednesday’s occupation of the US Capitol building in Washington DC by protesters attempting to disrupt the confirmation of Democratic candidate Joe Biden as president-elect by Congress.

Twitter shares tumbled by 12 per cent on the stock markets on Monday, losing $5 billion in value after Trump supporters left the site in droves. One pro-Trump ‘channel’ on Russian-founded messaging app Telegram had gained almost 44,000 subscribers by Monday afternoon, just two days after it was created.

Republicans and conservative media figures raised the alarm last week after tens of thousands of their Twitter followers mysteriously disappeared. House Democrats claimed those followers were “neo-Nazis”, “insurrectionists” and “terrorists” who Twitter had purged. But left-wing British broadcaster and former MP George Galloway experienced the same phenomenon.

“Republicans have no way to communicate,” Nunes said, “and it doesn’t even matter if you’re a Republican or conservative.”

Sunday’s New York Post editorial declared: “Big Tech is a cartel, and must be regulated.”

Blanket Ban

Parler CEO John Matze revealed on Sunday not only had the three tech leviathans united to shut down his company, but every firm providing services to the site had abandoned it.

“They made an attempt to not only kill the app, but to actually destroy the entire company,” Matze said. “And it’s not just these three companies. Every vendor from text message services to email providers to our lawyers all ditched us too on the same day.”

January 11, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , , | Leave a comment

Tech guru Durov warns Apple & Google pose threat to freedom, as Russian Senator says Trump Twitter ban a challenge to sovereignty

RT | January 11, 2021

The move by US Tech companies to censor US President Donald Trump has raised concern in Russia, with politicians and IT industry figures expressing concerns about it, and about its potential implications for political freedoms.

Alexey Pushkov, a prominent Senator and Chairman of the Federation Council on Information Policy and Media Relations warned on Sunday that the “diktat of internet giants” set a dangerous precedent. In a message posted to his official Telegram channel, the politician added that Moscow would “draw serious conclusions from the blocking of Trump by US social network conglomerates. Almost totally depending on foreign internet platforms is incompatible with the sovereignty of the country,” he argued.

However, the founder of the Russian-created Telegram messaging service, Pavel Durov, has now warned that “the Apple-Google duopoly poses a much bigger problem for freedoms than Twitter.” Of the two, he said, Silicon Valley stalwart Apple, worth more than $1.3 trillion, was the most worrying.

This, he suggests, is “because it can completely restrict which apps you use.” Over the weekend, the tech giant announced it would ban social media service Parler from its iOS store over apparent breaches to its guidelines. Telegram, which says it prioritizes the right to free speech more than its rivals, has become popular with Trump and his supporters since the president was indefinitely suspended from Twitter and Facebook. Telegram’s Durov added that his company was working on a web-based app as a contingency, should it become the next target of an App Store ban.

The Telegram founder, who first made his name with Russia’s top social network VK, also urged smartphone users to make the switch to the Android operating system, where users have more control over what they can install and use. This, he said, is “the least they can do to retain access to a free flow of information.”

In November, Russia’s media watchdog warned Google, and its subsidiary YouTube, over perceived censorship of content from the country’s media organizations. The row was sparked by the California-based streaming service’s decision to label an RT documentary on American right-wing militias as “extremist.” Roskomnadzor, the federal communications agency, warned that “cases of the administration of the YouTube video hosting service blocking, labelling, warning, consent and other restrictions with respect to materials of Russian media and journalists have become more frequent.”

Parler goes offline as Amazon pulls the plug on the conservative social network

Donald Trump has faced a near-total removal from social media sites since facing accusations that he’d encouraged his supporters to storm Washington’s Capitol building last Wednesday. Four protesters and one police officer are said to have lost their lives in the violent scenes. While he urged the activists to “go home,” the president reiterated claims that November’s election had been rigged, and told demonstrators that “we love you. You’re very special.”

As well as his removal from Twitter and Facebook, Trump has since faced action from platforms including Instagram, Google, YouTube, TikTok, Reddit, Snapchat and Pinterest.

January 11, 2021 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Russophobia | , , , , | Leave a comment