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The Uyghur Tribunal: Inciting Hatred Against China

By Christopher Black – New Eastern Outlook – 22.06.2021

The fascists are very active these days and one of the proofs of this dark shadow looming over the world is the recent so-called “peoples’ tribunal” put on in London over three days in early June. Otherwise called the “Uyghur Tribunal,” it is headed by Sir Geoffrey Nice, Q.C, the Machiavellian British barrister, knighted by the Queen for his services to Britain, who became notorious for trying to frame-up Yugoslavia’s President Milosevic at the Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal.

This new ‘tribunal’ follows on the China Tribunal also headed by Nice and also based in London, which focused on fabricated allegations of forced organ trafficking by China. This second tribunal focuses on fabricated allegations against China concerning the treatment of Uyghurs in the Chinese province of Xinjiang. The allegations before both of these ‘tribunals’ have one objective; to slander the Communist Party of China and to undermine China as a developing and sovereign nation.

The ‘tribunal’ is part of the propaganda matrix being constructed by NATO, led by the USA and UK, which has the objective of manipulating people’s minds to generate hatred and hostility towards China to, at the least, hinder its trade and development, at worst, to prepare the minds of people for war. In that sense this ‘tribunal’ is nothing less than a part of the preparation for war, and can be seen, under international criminal law, as part of a conspiracy to engage in the supreme war crime, the crime of aggression.

The same tactics are being applied to Russia with all the false allegations being made by the Americans against Russia, allegations that Joe Biden shamefully repeated in his meeting with President Putin in Geneva, as if he was king of the world dressing down a wayward vassal. No wonder that meeting was cut short. Only a fly on the wall can tell us what was really said and happened in Geneva, but who can imagine the Russians sitting there for long having to listen to a lecture on how they should stop doing what they are not doing “or face the consequences.” How can any serious person sit there and not either laugh out loud or become angry at the absurdity of it? But of course that is the spin in the western media, the spin that Biden put on the meeting; that he “talked tough to Putin.” Bluster and lies is the American way.

The bluster and lies continued at the Uyghur tribunal over the three days of “hearings” that took place from June 4 to 7 which were staged as a piece of theatre, even to the extent of the organisers selling tickets to attend. It was all acted out by a company of roaming players who go from one forum to another playing their roles, speaking their lines on cue from a script written by shadowy men and women in shadowy rooms in London and Washington.

Geoffrey Nice not only is chair of the two tribunals dealing with China and persecutor of President Milosevic, he is also a co-author of the Caesar Report on Syria, produced by the NATO backed Centre For Justice and Accountability so-called, another propaganda outfit focused on slandering Syria, along with his friend, former US Ambassador For War Crimes, Stephen Rapp. He seems to be NATO’s ever eager go-to lawyer when they need some propaganda put out to justify their wars

One of Nice’s most notorious crimes in the Milosevic show trial at the ICTY was to deliberately mislead the judges and the world by stating that the Kosovo Field speech made by Milosevic proved Milosevic was for a Greater Serbia. But Milosevic produced the real speech proving that he had said the exact opposite of what Nice claimed, that he had called for inter-ethnic tolerance. Nice was proved to be a liar. But the judges did nothing to him. He was allowed to continue spewing lies day after day throughout that show trial because NATO wanted the show to go on and Nice was their chosen circus ringmaster. So, it is no surprise that he was chosen to be ringmaster of this new propaganda circus.

This ‘tribunal’ claims to be independent. Yet it is neither a “tribunal’ nor independent. It has no legal or other authority. It certainly has no moral authority when we look at its funding and the experts called upon to give their ‘evidence,’ for we see clearly the connections between it, the NATO governments and western financial interests.

Much of its funding comes from the World Uyghur Congress whose affiliations with the CIA and funding by the National Endowment For Democracy are well known. In fact it was the World Uyghur Congress that asked Geoffrey Nice to set up the tribunal, according to him, and it provided the initial funding, so that we see right at the beginning, that the US government, through the CIA and NED, is directly involved with the Nice tribunal. Let us look at some of the others involved.

There is Nick Vetch, an extremely rich British businessman, who is founder and CEO of BigYellow a large UK storage company, which, in turn, has some of its shares owned by US financial companies such as Blackrock Inc, Standard Life Aberdeen, American Financial Group and others. Vetch is also a director of the Global Human Rights Fund, a UK “human rights’ organisation, which appears to provide some funding to the Nice tribunal. He is also a member of Nice’s China Tribunal.

Vetch’s connection to the Fund indicates who is behind his activities since the Global Human Rights Fund in turn gets its funding from the European Union, the Swedish Government, the Ford Foundation, George Soros, The Rockefeller Foundation, and other US corporate-backed foundations. The Chair of the Fund is Chris Canavan, managing director of Lion’s Head Global Partners, formerly Director of Global Policy Development for the Soros Fund, formerly senior official with Goldman Sachs Bank in New York and a lifetime member of the US Council on Foreign Relations.

He who pays the piper calls the tune.

Other members of the ‘tribunal’ are members of the British Establishment, and aside from anti-China credentials seem to be brought in to add some credibility to the proceedings. They include Dame Parveen Kumar, a UK doctor and member of the British Establishment, Ambreeana Manji, UK law professor who once worked for the British Institute in East Africa, Tim Clark, a UK lawyer and senior director of Vetch’s company Big Yellow and who is also an adviser to G3, which claims to be ‘one of the leading international strategic advisory groups’. Based in London, G3 seems to be an intelligence group with murky connections.

The list includes Ramindar Kaur, social anthropologist, writer, and “human rights” activist who is also deeply immersed in the British establishment. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society and head of a number of government studies on UK social issues. There is Dr. David Lynch, a specialist on cancer at University College London, Audrey Osler, Professor of education and human rights, University of Leeds, an advocate of using human rights education to achieve changes in world societies, and Catherine Roe, who began her career as a British diplomat, specialising in multilateral negotiations and who is now a Trustee of the Institute of International Strategic Studies.

Hamid Sabi, is styled as “counsel to the tribunal.” He is a British lawyer, active in the service of the western powers. He is, among other things, a director of Justice For Iran, an organisation accusing Iran of human rights violations, whose recommendations for sanctions against Iranian officials and Press TV are followed by the US and EU and UK governments and who has a history of attacking China.

He is assisted by Aarif Abraham, another UK lawyer, and former lawyer for the NATO tribunal for Yugoslavia, (ICTY) another very anti-China, pro-foreign intervention type who wrote a paper on the Uighurs accusing China of all sorts of crimes. Another assistant is Aldo Samit Borda, a Maltese, but now a lawyer in the UK involved in human rights, who has connections with the British government as he once worked for the Commonwealth Secretariat. The NATO-ICTY connection continues with Marilena Stegbauer, their general assistant, a German, and former intern for the NATO prosecutor at the ICTY, former researcher at Human Rights Institute in the UK, then a writer for The German Diplomat in Germany, who now calls herself a “human rights consultant”.

There is Frankie Vetch, production assistant, son of the Vetch senior, making the tribunal a bit of a Vetch family affair, and Nevenka Tromp, another NATO asset who also worked at the ICTY as a researcher for prosecution in the Milosevic and Karadzic trials. The group is rounded off with Baroness Helena Kennedy, adviser and member of the British House of Lords, Queen’s Counsel, also member of the International Bar Association Institute of Human Rights who in 2020, worked with the Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith and “democracy activist” with Hong Kong Watch, Luke de Pulford, to create the global pressure group the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, in March 2021,

The Coalition for Genocide Response is a supporter of the tribunal. It is the project of John Luke de Pulford mentioned above who is a prominent London establishment anti-communist, anti Chinese Government figure and a supporter of Nathan Law, the Hong Kong fifth columnist working for British interests in Hong Kong, now fled to London. In fact the tribunal has also revealed that it was launched on 3 September 2020, with assistance from the Coalition for Genocide Response that was founded by John Luke de Pulford, the protégé of British journalist turned activist, Benedict Rogers, and Hong Kong Watch functionary, who also has close links to Stand with Hong Kong. Benedict Rogers is the founder of Hong Kong Watch, a notorious propaganda outfit that specializes in churning out fallacies about China. Rogers also has put out false claims about North Korea, works with governments from the UK to Canada and USA and is a leader of the anti-communist Christian Solidarity Worldwide. He states that he introduced Nice to the Uyghurs a couple of years ago. Rogers recently appointed Nice to Hong Kong Watch as a patron, joining the former British governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten. Another of its patrons is Lord David Alton, who is linked with the concocted report on the Hong Kong Police Force, which the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hong Kong, of which he is a vice-chair, produced in 2020.

On Sept 23, 2020, in the House of Lords, Alton asked the British foreign office minister, Lord Ahmad, if the government would “welcome” the initiative to set up the “Uyghur Tribunal”, and “cooperate” with it. The minister did not give a clear reply but the tribunal has since thanked the British government for fast-tracking visas for foreign nationals to attend the tribunal. In view of Alton’s links with Hong Kong Watch, the extent to which it is covertly involved in the tribunal cannot be underestimated as Benedict Rogers is also an adviser to the World Uyghur Congress. The circle of interconnections is complete.

Those are the people behind the tribunal. Some, like Nice, are clearly NATO assets. None of them are independent or objective.

Since this is supposedly a tribunal they had to produce witnesses. These fit into two categories, expert witnesses and witnesses of fact, that is, people who claim to have observed things.

These were duly paraded before the tribunal, one after one, made statements without offering any proof of their claims and then retired with none of them cross-examined on their statements. Their claims were not tested at all; not by the ‘judges’ who are also in fact the “prosecutors” nor by anyone else. Instead the statements were accepted as true without any examination and when the ‘witnesses’ faltered in reading their lines, the ‘judges’ assisted them. This is not the procedure of a trial or even a hearing. It is more closely associated with an Inquisition. Nice and company are not interested in the truth or falsity of the claims being made. Their only interest is in making sure the statements they require to make effective anti-Chinese propaganda are supplied.

The so-called ‘expert witnesses’ included Ethan Guttman, a Senior fellow at the anticommunist “Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, an American organisation funded by the US Congress to “educate people on the evils of communism,” who has made many wild claims about China in particular on allegations of “organ harvesting” and Adrian Zenz, also a fellow at the same anti-communist organisation. His propaganda work is notorious.

It incudes Laura Murphy, trained as a literature scholar, who became a “human rights” professor at the Helena Kennedy Centre for International Justice, University of Sheffield. Harvard educated, she seems to be a professional witness and has worked for US Government Office of Victims of Crime, and other US government agencies, has put out propaganda on the BBC about “forced labour” in China and received an award for her propaganda work from the US government agency the National Endowment For Humanities, and grants from their National Humanities Centre. She also received grants from the British Academy.

Finally there is Dr. Darren Byler, of the University of Colorado, who is engaged in post doctoral work with the ChinaProject, funded by the Henry Luce Foundation, a famous, anti-communist organisation founded by Henry Luce, and, Nathan Ruser, an Australian researcher with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute who is an expert in satellite data and surveillance who has written a number of anti-Chinese propaganda articles. There are a few others of the same type.

The factual witnesses are a travelling troupe of players many of whom have given statements in other venues, often contradicting their claims at the tribunal. The Chinese government has exposed the lies of several of these witnesses who travel the world as professional witnesses-earning their keep by telling stories which do not bear up under any scrutiny. But none of the witnesses testified under a real oath, none were questioned on the contents of their statements or how they came to the attention of the organisers, apart from being recruited by the World Uyghur Congress.

Having myself experienced how Nice and the other prosecutors at the Yugoslav and Rwanda tribunals got people to be witnesses, and how they coerced them into given false testimony when required makes it impossible to accept any of the statements made by these alleged witnesses with anything less than complete disbelief. Not that it matters in legal terms. Despite Nice spouting platitudes about “reasonable doubt” and “assessing the evidence” we all know what the outcome of the hearings, to be continued in September, will be; the condemnation of China.

So there we have it, another propaganda exercise masquerading as a search for justice and accountability, But it is about time these propagandists be held accountable for their actions, for manufacturing hatred and hostility towards a nation that has brought its people out of the poverty imposed on them by the west during the colonial period and which the west wants to impose again.

At the Nuremberg Trials the Nazi propagandist, Julius Streicher, was hanged for putting out propaganda about Jews and inciting hatred leading to genocide. At the Rwanda Tribunal the members of a radio station were convicted of genocide for allegedly making false reports on events that the prosecutors claimed instigated hatred that led to genocide. Hate speech is proscribed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other treaties. Is this not what Nice and his players are doing, trying to instigate hatred and hostility to justify war, to justify harming and killing Chinese? Is this not where it all leads? Is this not a crime against humanity? Are not they the real criminals?

Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto. He is known for a number of high-profile war crimes cases and recently published his novel Beneath the Clouds.

June 24, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Notorious London Spy School Churning Out Many of the World’s Top Journalists

The Maughan Library Gate at Kings College London, UK. David JC | Alamy
By Alan MacLeod | MintPress News | June 4, 2021

LONDON — In a previous investigationMintPress News explored how one university department, the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, functions as a school for spooks. Its teaching posts are filled with current or former NATO officials, army officers and intelligence operatives to churn out the next generation of spies and intelligence officers. However, we can now reveal an even more troubling product the department produces: journalists. An inordinate number of the world’s most influential reporters, producers and presenters, representing many of the most well-known and respected outlets — including The New York TimesCNN and the BBC — learned their craft in the classrooms of this London department, raising serious questions about the links between the fourth estate and the national security state.

National security school

Increasingly, it appears, intelligence agencies the world over are beginning to appreciate agents with a strong academic background. A 2009 study published by the CIA described how beneficial it is to “use universities as a means of intelligence training,” writing that, “exposure to an academic environment, such as the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, can add several elements that may be harder to provide within the government system.”

The paper, written by two King’s College staffers, boasted that the department’s faculty has “extensive and well-rounded intelligence experience.” This was no exaggeration. Current Department of War Studies educators include the former Secretary General of NATO, former U.K. Minister of Defense, and military officers from the U.K, U.S. and other NATO countries. “I deeply appreciate the work that you do to train and to educate our future national security leaders, many of whom are in this audience,” said then-U.S. Secretary of Defense (and former CIA Director) Leon Panetta in a speech at the department in 2013.

King’s College London also admits to having a number of ongoing contracts with the British state, including with the Ministry of Defence (MoD), but refuses to divulge the details of those agreements.

American connections

Although a British university, King’s College markets itself heavily to American students. There are currently 1,265 Americans enrolled, making up about 4% of the student body. Many graduates of the Department of War Studies go on to attain powerful positions in major American media outlets. Andrew Carey, CNN’s Bureau Chief in Jerusalem, for example, completed a master’s there in 2012. Carey’s coverage of the latest Israeli attack on Gaza has presented the apartheid state as “responding” to Hamas rocket attacks, rather than being the instigator of violence. A leaked internal memo Carey sent to his staff last month at the height of the bombardment instructed them to always include the fact that the Gazan Ministry of Health is overseen by Hamas, lest readers begin to believe the well-documented Palestinian casualty figures brought on by days of bombing. “We need to be transparent about the fact that the Ministry of Health in Gaza is run by Hamas. Consequently, when we cite latest casualty numbers and attribute to the health ministry in Gaza, we need to include the fact that it is Hamas run,” read his instructions.


Carey leaked memo

King’s College alumnus turned CNN Jerusalem bureau chief Andrew Carey instructed reporters on how to cover Israel’s latest assault on Gaza

Once publicized, his comments elicited considerable pushback. “This is a page straight out of Israel’s playbook. It serves to justify the attack on civilians and medical facilities,” commented Al-Jazeera Senior Presenter and Producer Dena Takruri.

The New York Times, the United States’ most influential newspaper, has also employed Department of War Studies alumni. Christiaan Triebert (M.A., 2016), for example, is a journalist on their visual investigations team. He even won a Pulitzer Prize for “Revelations about Russia and Vladimir Putin’s aggressive actions in countries including Syria and Europe.” Hiring students from the school for spooks to bash Russia appears to be a common Times tactic, as it also employed Lincoln Pigman between 2016 and 2018 at its Moscow bureau.

Josh Smith, senior correspondent for influential news agency Reuters and formerly its correspondent in Afghanistan, also graduated from the department in question, as did The Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Ford.

Arguably the most influential media figure from the university, however, is Ruaridh Arrow. Arrow was a producer at many of the U.K.’s largest news channels, including Channel 4Sky News and the BBC, where he was world duty editor and senior producer on Newsnight, the network’s flagship political show. In 2019, Arrow left the BBC to become an executive producer at NBC News.

The British invasion

Unsurprisingly for a university based in London, the primary journalistic destination for Department of War Studies graduates is the United Kingdom. Indeed, the BBC, the country’s powerful state broadcaster, is full of War Studies alumni. Arif Ansari, head of news at the BBC Asian Networkcompleted a masters analyzing the Syrian Civil War in 2017 and was soon selected for a leadership development scheme, placing him in charge of a team of 25 journalists who curate news primarily geared toward the substantial Middle Eastern and South Asian communities in Great Britain.

Many BBC employees begin studying at King’s years after their careers have already taken off, and balance their professional lives with pursuing new qualifications. Ahmed Zaki, Senior Broadcast Journalist at BBC Global News, began his master’s six years after he started at the BBC. Meanwhile, Ian MacWilliam — who spent ten years at BBC World Service, the country’s official news broadcast worldwide, specializing in sensitive regions like Russia, Afghanistan and Central Asia — decided to study at King’s more than 30 years after completing his first degree.

Another influential War Studies alumnus at the World Service is Aliaume Leroy, producer for its Africa Eye program. Well-known BBC News presenter Sophie Long also graduated from the department, working for Reuters and ITN before joining the state broadcaster.

“It’s an open secret that King’s College London Department of War Studies operates as the finishing school for Anglo-American securocrats. So it’s maybe not a surprise that graduates of its various military and intelligence courses also enter into a world of corporate journalism that exists to launder the messaging of these same ‘security’ agencies,” Matt Kennard — an investigative journalist for Declassified U.K. who has previously exposed the university’s connections to the British state — told MintPress. “It is, however, a real and present danger to democracy. The university imprimatur gives the department’s research the patina of independence while it works, in reality, as the unofficial research arm of the U.K. Ministry of Defence,” he added.


Neri Zilber

Israeli writer and King’s College alumnus Neri Zilber has bylines in many of the media’s most important outlets

The Department of War Studies also trains many international journalists and commentators, including Nicholas Stuart of the Canberra Times (Australia); Pakistani writer Ayesha Siddiqa, whose work can be found in The New York TimesAl-JazeeraThe Hindu and many other outlets; and Israeli writer Neri Zilber, a contributor to The Daily BeastThe GuardianForeign Policy and Politico.

What’s it all about?

Why are so many influential figures in our media being hothoused in a department well known for its connections to state power, for its faculty being active or former military or government officials, and for producing spies and operatives for various three-letter agencies? The point of this is not to allege that these journalists are all secretly card-carrying spooks: they are not. Rather, it is to highlight the alarmingly close links between the national security state and the fourth estate we rely on to be a check on their power and to hold them accountable.

Journalists trained in this sort of environment are far more likely to see the world in the same manner as their professors do. And perhaps they would be less likely to challenge state power when the officials they are scrutinizing were their classmates or teachers.

These sorts of questions abound when such a phenomenon exists: Why are so many journalists choosing to study at this particular department, and why do so many go on to be so influential? Are they being vetted by security agencies, with or without their knowledge? How independent are they? Will they just repeat British and American state talking points, as the Department of War Studies’ publications do?

On the question of vetting, the BBC admitted that, at least until the 1990s, it conspired with domestic spying agency MI5 to make sure that people with left-wing and/or anti-war leanings, or views critical of British foreign policy and empire were secretly blocked from being hired. When pressed on whether this policy is still ongoing, the broadcaster refused to comment, citing “security issues” — a response that is unlikely to reassure skeptics.

“While it strikes me as very interesting that a single academic institution could play such a major role in the recruitment of pro-establishment activist intellectuals and delivery of the same to the media, it is not so surprising,” Oliver Boyd-Barrett, Professor Emeritus at Bowling Green State’s School of Media and Communication and an expert in collusion between government and media, told MintPress, adding:

Elite institutions in the past and doubtless still today have been major playgrounds for intelligence services. The history of the modern nation-state generally, not just the USA, seems to suggest that national unity — and therefore elite safety — is regarded by elites as achievable only through careful management and often suppression or diversion of dissent. Far more resources are typically committed to this than many citizens, drilled in the propaganda of democracy, realize or care to concede.

The Bellingcat Boys

While the journalists cataloged above are not spooks, some other Department of War Studies figures working in journalism could possibly be described as such, particularly those around the influential and increasingly notorious investigative website Bellingcat.

Cameron Colquhoun, for instance, spent almost a decade at GCHQ, Britain’s version of the NSA, where he was a senior analyst running cyber and counter-terrorism operations. He holds qualifications from both King’s College London and the State Department. This background is not disclosed in his Bellingcat profile, which merely describes him as the managing director of a private intelligence company that “conduct[s] ethical investigations” for clients around the world.

Bellingcat’s senior investigator Nick Waters spent four years as an officer in the British Army, including a tour in Afghanistan, where he furthered the British state’s objectives in the region. After that, he joined the Department of War Studies and Bellingcat.

For the longest time, Bellingcat’s founder Eliot Higgings dismissed charges that his organization was funded by the U.S. government’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED) — a CIA cutout organization — as a ridiculous “conspiracy.” Yet by 2017, he was admitting that it was true. A year later, Higgins joined the Department of War Studies as a visiting research associate. Between 2016 and 2019 he was also a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, the brains behind the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Higgins appears to have used the university department as a recruiting ground, commissioning other War Studies graduates, such as Jacob Beeders and the aforementioned Christiaan Triebert and Aliaume Leroy, to write for his site.

Bellingcat is held in very high regard by the CIA. “I don’t want to be too dramatic, but we love [Bellingcat],” said Marc Polymeropoulos, the agency’s former deputy chief of operations for Europe and Eurasia. Other officers explained that Bellingcat could be used to outsource and legitimize anti-Russia talking points. “The greatest value of Bellingcat is that we can then go to the Russians and say ‘there you go’ [when they ask for evidence],” added former CIA Chief of Station Daniel Hoffman.

Bellingcaught

A recent MintPress investigation explored how Bellingcat acts to launder national security state talking points into the mainstream under the guise of being neutral investigative journalists themselves.

Newly leaked documents show how BellingcatReuters and the BBC were covertly cooperating with the U.K.’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to undermine the Kremlin and promote regime change in Moscow. This included training journalists and promoting explicitly anti-Russian media across Eastern Europe. Unfortunately, the FCO notedBellingcat had been “somewhat discredited,” as it constantly spread disinformation and was willing to produce reports for anyone with money.

Nevertheless, a new European Parliament proposal published last month recommends hiring Bellingcat to assist in producing reports that would lay the groundwork for sanctioning Russia, for throwing it out of international bodies, and to “assist Russia’s transformation into a democracy.” In other words, to overthrow the government of Vladimir Putin.

An academic journalistic nexus

The Department of War Studies is also part of this pro-NATO, anti-Russia group. Quite apart from being staffed by soldiers, spooks and government officials, it puts out influential reports advising Western governments on foreign and defense policy. For instance, a study entitled “The future strategic direction of NATO” advises that member states must increase their military budgets and allow American nuclear weapons to be stored in their countries, thereby “shar[ing] the burden.” It also recommended that NATO must redouble its commitment to opposing Russia while warning that it needed urgently to form a “coherent policy” on the Chinese threat.

Other War Studies reports claim that Russia is carrying out “information-psychological warfare” through its state channels RT and Sputnik, and counsel that the West must use its technical means to prevent its citizens from consuming this foreign propaganda.

King’s College London academics have also proven crucial in keeping dissident publisher Julian Assange imprisoned. A psychiatrist who has worked with the War Studies department testified in court that the Australian was suffering only “moderate” depression and that his suicide risk was “manageable,” concluding that extraditing him to the United States “would not be unjust.” As Matt Kennard’s investigation found, the U.K. Ministry of Defence had provided £2.2 million ($3.1 million) in funding to the institute where he worked (although the psychiatrist in question claimed his work was not directly funded by the MoD).

King’s College London markets the War Studies department to both graduates and undergraduates as a stepping stone towards a career in journalism. In its “career prospects” section for its master’s course in war studies, it tells interested students that “graduates go on to work for NGOs, the FCO, the MoD, the Home Office, NATO, the UN or pursue careers in journalism, finance, academia, the diplomatic services, the armed forces and more.”

Likewise, undergraduates are told that:

You will gain an in-depth and sophisticated understanding of war and international relations, both as subjects worthy of study and as intellectual preparation for the widest possible range of career choices, including in government, journalism, research, and humanitarian and international organisations.

Courses such as “New Wars, New Media, New Journalism” fuse together journalism and intelligence and are overseen by War Studies academics.

It is perhaps unsurprising that the department has taught many influential politicians, including foreign heads of state and members of the British parliament. But at least there is considerable overlap between the fields of defense policy and politics. The fact that the very department that trains high state officials and agents of secretive three letter agencies is also the place that produces many of the journalists we rely on to stand up to those officials and keep them in check is seriously problematic.

An unhealthy respect for authority

Unfortunately, rather than challenging power, many modern media outlets amplify its message uncritically. State officials and intelligence officers are among the least trustworthy sources, journalistically speaking. Yet many of the biggest stories in recent years have been based on nothing except the hearsay of officials who would not even put their names to their claims.

The level of credulity modern journalists have for the powerful was summed up by former CNN White House Correspondent Michelle Kosinski, who last month stated that:

As an American journalist, you never expect:

  • Your own govt to lie to you, repeatedly
  • Your own govt to hide information the public has a right to know
  • Your own govt to spy on your communications

Unfortunately, credulity stretches into outright collaboration with intelligence in some cases. Leaked emails show that the Los Angeles Times’ national security reporter Ken Dilanian sent his articles directly to the CIA to be edited before they were published. Far from hurting his career, however, Dilanian is now a correspondent covering national security issues for NBC News.

Boyd-Barrett said that governments are dependent on “the assistance of a penetrated, colluding and docile mainstream media which of late — and in the context of massive confusion over Internet disinformation campaigns, real and alleged — appear ever more problematic guardians of the public right to know.”

In recent years, the national security state has increased its influence over social media giants as well. In 2018, Facebook and the Atlantic Council entered a partnership whereby the Silicon Valley giant partially outsourced curation of its 2.8 billion users’ news feeds to the Council’s Digital Forensics Lab, supposedly to help stop the spread of fake news online. The result, however, has been the promotion of “trustworthy” corporate media outlets like Fox News and CNN and the penalization of independent and alternative sources, which have seen their traffic decrease precipitously. Earlier this year, Facebook also hired former NATO press officer and current Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council Ben Nimmo to be its chief of intelligence. Reddit’s Director of Policy is also a former Atlantic Council official.

Meanwhile, in 2019, a senior Twitter executive for the Middle East region was unmasked as an active duty officer in the British Army’s 77th Brigade, its unit dedicated to psychological operations and online warfare. The most notable thing about this event was the almost complete lack of attention it received from the mainstream press. Coming at a time when foreign interference online was perhaps the number one story dominating the news cycle, only one major outlet, Newsweek, even mentioned it. Furthermore, the reporter who covered the story left his job just weeks later, citing stifling top-down censorship and a culture of deference to national security interests.

The purpose of this article is not to accuse any of those mentioned of being intelligence agency plants (although at least one person did actually work as an intel officer). The point is rather to highlight that we now have a media landscape where many of the West’s most influential journalists are being trained by exactly the same people in the same department as the next generation of national security operatives.

It is hardly a good look for a healthy, open democracy that so many spies, government officials, and journalists trusted to hold them accountable on our behalf are all being shot out of the very same cannon. Learning side by side has helped to create a situation where the fourth estate has become overwhelmingly deferential to the so-called deep state, where anonymous official’s words are taken as gospel. The Department of War Studies is just one part of this wider phenomenon.T

Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles

June 5, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

NED ‘regime change’ specialists claim credit for Belarus protests, boast of funding Russian opposition during prank call

RT | May 17, 2021

A pair of notorious Russian pranksters posing as leading Belarusian opposition figures have duped the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) into revealing the extent of US involvement in Eastern European political movements.

In a video call posted on the online channel of pranksters Vovan and Lexus, senior representatives of the American agency disclosed that they have actively financed and supported anti-government campaigns in the region. The officials from the NED, which is funded by Congress and describes its role as “supporting freedom around the world,” also revealed that they are coordinating efforts with prominent political activists in a range of countries, including Russia.

The officials believed they were talking to Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the figurehead of Belarus’ opposition movement, and one of her advisors.

During the call, Nina Ognianova, who oversees the NED’s work with local groups in Belarus, outlined the wide-ranging programs the agency bankrolls in the country, insisting that “a lot of the people who have been trained by these hubs, who have been in touch with them and being educated, being involved in their work, have now taken the flag and started to lead in community organizing.”

Ognianova claimed that, through this work, the NED played a role in igniting the colossal street protests that rocked Belarus after long-time leader Alexander Lukashenko declared victory in the country’s presidential election last August. The opposition and many international observers say the vote was rigged in his favor, and tens of thousands took to the streets for demonstrations each weekend after the election.

“We believe that this long-term trust-building that we have had with partners in Belarus has indeed brought the events, or the build-up to the events, of last summer,” Ognianova stated.

“We don’t think that this movement that is so impressive and so inspiring came out of nowhere – that it just happened overnight,” she added, “but it has been developing and we have our modest but significant contribution in that by empowering the local actors to do the important work.”

Carl Gershman, the president of the US state-backed agency, told the pranksters that Washington-based funding and policy groups were already working with Tikhanovskaya and her team “very, very closely.” He then asked the opposition figure, who fled to neighboring Lithuania after the election, to set out her thinking on the situation “so we can understand what your strategy is… and how we can be helpful.”

The comments are likely to add fuel to Lukashenko’s previous controversial claims that the widespread domestic opposition to his government is being stoked from abroad.

The pranksters also pushed the NED’s top team to outline their current activity in Russia, asking what they were doing to support anti-Kremlin activists. Gershman replied that such initiatives are “obviously incredibly important and we’ve emphasized this, going back to the election in August when the demonstrations were taking place in the Russian Far East, and people were connecting with each other and saying we share the same ideals, so we’re very committed to helping on that, and we will – working with our networks and our institutes.”

One of the duo, claiming to be Tikhanovskaya’s assistant, questioned this, saying, “I know that NED is prohibited in Russia now,” referencing a 2015 government decision declaring it to be an “undesirable NGO.” A number of the group’s senior leadership team began to laugh, with Gershman insisting “that doesn’t matter. We don’t have offices, we’re not like Freedom House or NDI [the National Democratic Institute] and the IRI [International Republican Institute], we don’t have offices. So if we’re not there, they can’t kick us out.”

“But we support many, many groups and we have a very, very active program throughout the country, and many of the groups obviously have their partners in exile,” the fund’s president added. “So we are very active and we can be very helpful on this issue.” He added that they were “of course” in touch with Leonid Volkov, a Lithuanian-based activist frequently described as the chief of staff of jailed Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny.

Barbara Haig, the deputy to the NED’s president for policy and strategy, also hinted at the potential scale of US funding for political groups, saying, “we have a very ample program in Russia” which “goes even down to the grassroots in provinces – oblasts – outside of Moscow. It is very deep and it is very broad.”

Both she and Gershman expressed concern about Russian military exercises billed to take place alongside Belarusian troops later this year, with Haig asking if the group should be “looking at the deployment of Russian military in the country and how that might be changing over time, and whether we should be raising this with some of our contacts.”

Somewhat ironically, Haig also insisted that opposition groups in Russia are concerned about purported efforts to infiltrate and monitor their activity, saying that “security is a huge issue.” How the NED’s most senior figures came to speak with the pranksters, who kept their cameras turned off and spoke in an unconvincing imitation of Tikhanovskaya’s voice, is unclear.

The pair, whose real names are Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexey Stolyarov, have previously blagged their way into calls with the likes of Prince Harry, Amnesty International and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. However, they have been accused by some Western commentators of disproportionately targeting opponents of the Kremlin, with their comedy gotchas frequently seeking to generate political controversy.

The NED describes itself as a “private, non-profit, grant-making organization that receives an annual appropriation from the US Congress through the Department of State.” It acknowledges that its “continued funding is dependent on the continued support of the White House and Congress,” but states that its own “independent Board of Directors” is in charge of how the funds are spent. The agency insists that its “independence… also allows it to work with many groups abroad who would hesitate to take funds from the US Government.” Representatives of the NED have been approached for comment.

May 17, 2021 Posted by | Deception | , , | 3 Comments

BBC secrets: Leaked files show UK state media engaged in anti-Moscow information warfare ops in E. Europe

By Kit Klarenberg RT | March 11, 2021

New documents raise serious questions about how well-deserved British state broadcaster BBC’s ‘unimpeachable’ reputation is, and also what impact its relationship with the UK government has on its supposedly ‘impartial’ output.

Within a tranche of secret UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) papers, recently leaked by hacktivist collective Anonymous, are files indicating that BBC Media Action (BBCMA) – the outlets ‘charitable’ arm – plays a central role in Whitehall-funded and directed psyops initiatives targeted at Russia.

American journalist Max Blumenthal has comprehensively exposed how, at the FCDO’s behest, BBCMA covertly cultivated Russian journalists, established influence networks within and outside Russia, and promoted pro-Whitehall, anti-Moscow propaganda in Russian-speaking areas.

However, the newly released files reveal BBCMA also offered to lead a dedicated FCDO program, named ‘Independent Media in Eastern Partnership Countries’ and targeted at Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. This endeavor forms part of a wider £100 million ($138.9 million) effort waged by London to demonize, destabilize and isolate Russia, at home and abroad.

A Whitehall tender indicates that under the auspices of the project, set to cost a staggering £9 million ($12.5 million) from 2018 to 2021, participating contractors are charged with crafting “innovative… media interventions” targeting individuals throughout the region, via “radio, independent social media channels, and traditional outlets.”

Further detail was offered by FCDO Counter Disinformation & Media Development (CDMD) chief Andy Pryce at a June 2018 meeting with prospective suppliers.

He made it clear that the effort’s ultimate goal was to “weaken the Russian state’s influence,” via the co-option of journalists and media organizations in target countries via funding, training, and surreptitious production of anti-Russian, pro-Western content. “Girls on HBO… but in Ukraine” was, bizarrely, one suggested example of such activity.

In response, BBCMA submitted extensive proposals, in conjunction with Thomson Reuters Foundation (TRF), the global newswire’s “non-profit” wing, and since-collapsed veteran FCDO contractor Aktis Strategy.

The project was to be managed and coordinated directly by BBCMA from BBC Broadcasting House headquarters in London, with local support provided by Reuters newswire offices in Kiev and Tbilisi, and Ukraine’s Independent Association of Broadcasters.

A dedicated board, comprised of representatives of the contractors involved, the FCDO’s CDMD program, and British embassies in the target countries, would also meet privately every quarter to discuss the operation’s progress. Publicly, Whitehall’s funding and direction of the vast project was intended to be completely hidden.

The consortium boasted of having an existing “strong profile” in Eastern Partnership countries, and conducting “broad consultations” with a number of major news outlets, media organizations and journalists in the region in advance of its pitch.

For example, the National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine (UA:PBC) had been approached and offered “essential support,” aimed at “improving its existing programs” and “developing new and innovative formats for factual and non-news programs.”

BBCMA was moreover said to be “already” working on building the capacity of Kiev-based Hromadske TV, and wished to use the FCDO program to extend this assistance to “co-productions” and “building support to Hromadske Radio.”

Launched with initial funding from the American and Dutch embassies in Ukraine, Hromadske began broadcasting in November 2013 on the very day Viktor Yanukovich’s administration suspended preparations for the signing of an association agreement with the European Union, and went on to extensively cover the resultant Euromaidan protests, which eventually unseated the government the next year.

It subsequently received support from Pierre Omidyar, billionaire founder of The Intercept, who bankrolled a number of opposition groups in the country prior to the coup. In July 2014, Hromadske anchor Danylo Yanevsky abruptly terminated an interview with a Human Rights Watch representative after she consistently refused to blame Russia for civilian casualties in the Donbas conflict, despite his repeated demands.

Beyond dedicated news platforms, the consortium also pledged to enlist “local” and “hyperlocal” media outlets, as well as “freelancer journalists,” bloggers and “vloggers” for its information warfare efforts.

BBCMA argued “journalism education” locally would be a “long-term investment” – in other words, the identification, cultivation, and grooming of a network of reporters in the countries who could be relied upon to take the Whitehall line in future.

As such, the organization sought to establish a journalism training center in Gagauzia, Moldova in collaboration with NGO Media birlii – Uniunia. The autonomous region, bordered by Ukraine’s Odessa Oblast, was said to be home to “six TV companies, four radio stations, six newspapers and five web portals” potentially ripe for influence and infiltration by BBCMA – and in turn, the FCDO.

In Georgia, BBCMA visited the offices of Adjara TV “to discuss training priorities and possible co-productions.” The station was reportedly interested in developing “youth programming,” which represented “a gap in the market” in the country.

In June 2020, Georgia’s Coalition for Media Advocacy slammed Adjara for its “persecution” of “outspoken journalists expressing dissenting opinions,” after it fired newsroom chief Shorena Glonti.

Strikingly, the Coalition is funded by US regime-change agency, the National Endowment for Democracy, which supports numerous anti-Moscow initiatives worldwide. Perhaps Glonti had been too well-trained in “weakening the Russian state” for the broadcaster’s liking.

The consortium furthermore proposed to tutor and support “independent” online Georgian news outlets, including Batumelebi, iFact, Liberali, Monitor, Netgazeti, and Reginfo.

Estonia’s Digital Communications Network – financed by the US State Department – would be central to these efforts, offering lessons in “building online audiences, innovative business models and reaching out to breakaway regions susceptible to Kremlin narratives.”

The importance of “target audiences in breakaway regions” is outlined in another file, which explicitly states that the consortium would work closely with “independent outlets in proximity of non-government-controlled areas of Donbas in Ukraine, Transnistria in Moldova and Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia.”

This undertaking aimed to counter the output of “separatist” media, and thus manipulate “hard-to-reach audiences,” which was “critical to achieving the project’s objectives.”

Any and all support covertly provided under the program was to be thoroughly intimate indeed, with “mentors” from the consortium “embedded” in target organizations, in order to provide “bespoke support across editorial, production and wider management systems and processes as well as on the co-production of content.”

These “mentors” include current and former BBC journalists.

“Our ability to recruit talented and experienced BBC staff is a great asset which will be harnessed for this initiative,” BBCMA promised.

These individuals may have been central to program efforts, if BBCMA’s pitch to the FCDO was accepted. For instance, UA:PBC was said to be “very interested” in receiving help from BBCMA to develop a “new debate show” and “discussion programming” to “enable audiences to think critically about the process and choices,” “counter disinformation” and “dispel rumors.”

Lofty objectives indeed, although commitments to nurturing analytical skills, thinking and debunking propaganda ring rather hollow when one considers the station’s output was perceived to be so overwhelmingly biased in favor of the government, opposition candidate Volodymyr Zelensky boycotted the channel’s official election debate during the 2019 presidential election.

BBCMA also proposed to establish an “independent” news platform in Ukraine, “timed for the run up to the 2019 election,” which would publish “vetted news content” freely syndicated to local and national media.

If the approach in Kiev was “successful,” the consortium would replicate the exercise in Georgia for the country’s 2020 election. Strikingly, the proposal brags of TRF’s experience establishing such platforms elsewhere, for example “the award-winning Aswat Masriya” in Egypt.

Other leaked files indicate the endeavor, founded after the 2011 revolution in Cairo, was secretly funded by the FCDO to the tune of £2 million ($2.8 million) over six years, and run out of Reuters’ Egyptian offices.

Over its lifespan, Aswat Masriya “became Egypt’s leading independent local media organization” and one of the most-visited websites in the country, providing news in English and Arabic, which was syndicated widely the world over. Its true, clandestine purpose seems to have been granting London a degree of narrative control over news coverage as events unfolded in the country, during its difficult and ultimately ill-fated transition to democracy.

That BBCMA likewise intended to use news coverage to influence politics in Eastern Partnership countries is amply underlined in the newly leaked files, with the organization pledging to “encourage” local news outlets to meet with “local stakeholders,” including lawmakers and community leaders, in order to “cement the media as a key governance actor.”

The organization furthermore sought to “foster a debate” in target nations, by producing wide-ranging analysis of the media environment therein. Its “long track record” of comparable efforts in “diverse” countries, including those “experiencing Arab uprisings,” had allegedly “shifted government policy.”

One objective of these lobbying efforts was achieving “a more enabling operating environment” for “independent” media in the target countries – i.e. ensuring regulations in the region were suitably conducive to and protective of the FCDO’s secret army of information warfare agents, to allow them to prosper for the duration of the consortium’s three-year offensive, and “post intervention.”

It’s not yet clear if BBCMA was successful in its pitch, and if so, which BBC journalists contributed to the program and as a result are implicated directly in cloak-and-dagger attempts to shape politics and perceptions in Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine for London’s benefit.

It’s also unknown whether their commitment to fulfilling the FCDO’s objective of undermining Moscow, and furthering Whitehall’s interests, truly ends when they return to their day jobs as “objective,” “neutral” purveyors of news.

As BBCMA boasts in its pitch, the BBC is “well-known and highly regarded” in the Eastern Partnership countries, and provides “millions of viewers, listeners and online users in the region with world-class news on a daily basis.” At the very least, the leaked files make clear that neither the British state broadcaster, nor its FCDO paymasters, has any qualms about exploiting that standing and perceived credibility for malign ends.

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

March 12, 2021 Posted by | Corruption, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , | 1 Comment

Human Rights Watch denounces Cuba for human rights violations

By Lucas Leiroz | February 9, 2021

Denunciations of human rights violations against Cuba have become routine in the West. For decades, governments, NGOs and activists have denounced the Cuban government for various attitudes of abuse of universal rights, but the sources of such reports and evidence of crimes remain weak and vague. Once again, the NGO Human Rights Watch issued a report warning of an alleged “abusive” situation with regard to human rights on the island – and again the evidence is weak and reveals an ideologized action.

Every year, Human Rights Watch releases its global reports, covering all regions of the planet and warning against alleged human rights violations worldwide. In its 2021 edition, published on January 13, in the topic dedicated to Cuba, several crimes were reported, including alleged arbitrary arrests on the island, lack of freedom of expression, presence of political prisoners in Cuban penitentiaries, travel restrictions and several others acts that are presented to international society as frequent and structural in Cuba.

There are explanations for Human Rights Watch’s frontal opposition to Cuba, which are little publicized in the international media. In the past, the Cuban government has accused the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) of funding more than 20 organizations to promote complaints and defamations against the Latin country, including HRW. NED’s ties to the CIA prompted the Cuban government to veto agents from organizations linked to the NED into the country. In fact, regardless of whether or not there is a plot against the island organized by the NED and the CIA, it is clear that HRW’s annual reports are focused on denouncing and criticizing emerging countries, especially non-aligned nations, anticipating coercive measures taken by the US and other Western powers. This led Havana to endorse the narrative that HRW creates justifications for subsequent coercive measures with its allegations of human rights violations.

The central problem for the credibility of HRW reports is the authenticity of the organization’s sources. The reports are based on data provided by anti-government activists who are ideologically committed to the end of communism and the triumph of American interests on the island. To this end, such activists, who work inside and outside Cuba, adulterate, exaggerate or even create data that does not correspond to the reality of the country, as has been reported several times by Havana. The speech of anonymous activists follows a model predefined by American agencies interested in the fall of the Cuban government. This speech is disseminated by human rights NGOs and finally justifies coercive measures by the American government. For this reason, Havana sees HRW as a threat to its national security and this will not change, even if Washington strengthens its sanctions further, as there is a central ideological incompatibility between these countries that cannot be overcome with mere coercive maneuvers.

Exaggeration is certainly the greatest weapon of these agents. Surely, there are human rights violations in Cuba – just as there are in any nation. There is no country that has been successful in completely abolishing acts contrary to human rights. Many nations may have officially abolished such practices, but they certainly still exist unofficially and, equally, deserve investigation and criticisms. However, this persecution against “human rights violators” is generally applied when the charged state is an emerging nation geopolitically opposed to Washington, like Cuba. In this way, NGOs like HRW observe cases of violation and exaggerate them, claiming that there is a state policy to confront universal rights, when, in fact, they are only marginal practices that exist in any country.

Just as mistakes are exaggerated, merits are ignored. Cuba has some of the best social indicators on the American continent, being a global reference in education and with some of the most qualified medical professionals in the world. Havana is responsible for several humanitarian missions sending doctors and equipment to nations in need of medical care, including not only poor countries, but developed states in emergencies, such as Italy during the pandemic. Furthermore, Cuba seems to be advanced in many agendas exalted in the West. For example, women occupy 51% of the deputies in the National Assembly and are 62% of the country’s scientists – which are remarkably high numbers by Western standards. These indices show that, with or without structural disrespect, there is undeniable progress in terms of human rights, and this cannot be ignored.

However, Havana is right to think that HRW’s reports are not by chance. What we should expect for the future is the resurgence of a focus of tensions between Washington and Havana. Trump, in his last days in government, reversed a process of rapprochement between the countries when he considered Cuba again as a terrorist financing nation – a totally unreasonable accusation and without any material evidence, which Trump certainly did not believe, but made this decision as a strategic maneuver to harm Biden and transfer power to his successor with more international tensions. Biden promised to review Trump’s policy against Cuba but gave no details of exactly what points he will reform. However, a peaceful policy for Havana was never expected from the new American president. Biden’s reforms are likely to occur, more likely, to facilitate the flow of migration and to include “humanitarian” issues in relations, shifting the focus of tensions from a security and defense perspective to one of respect for human rights and democracy.

In practice, this means that Biden must try to harm Cubans even more by imposing international sanctions in order to force Havana to comply with humanitarian standards that are already respected but whose compliance will never be recognized by NGOs committed to the American government.

Lucas Leiroz is a research fellow in international law at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

February 9, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hong Kong protest ‘hero’ Joshua Wong trained alongside the cream of Western-backed colour revolutionaries

By Kit Klarenberg | RT | December 10, 2020

On 2 December, high-profile Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong was sentenced to over a year in prison for his involvement in an unauthorised protest outside the territory’s police headquarters in June 2019.

It marks the third time the 24-year-old has been jailed for his political activities, and follows an amazingly rapid ascent to international prominence, which began in 2014, when the group he founded, Scholarism, played a pivotal role in the Occupy Central protests that year.

Wong was subsequently listed among Time magazine’s Most Influential Teens of 2014 and nominated as its Person of the Year, declared one of the “world’s greatest leaders” by Fortune the following year, and even nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017.

He somehow also found time to establish and lead pro-democracy political party Demosisto – which called for “self-determination” from China – until its disbandment after the implementation of the city’s highly controversial national security law in June, and was instrumental in influencing US lawmakers to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act in November 2019.

One would be hard pushed not to be awed by all Wong has achieved, or inspired by his indefatigable determination in the face of such risks to his liberty. That his campaigning efforts have captured the attention and imaginations of quite so many in the Western world is unsurprising.

However, there are strong indications that unseen forces surreptitiously helped Wong along every step of the way, and consciously groomed the young activist for many years for the position he now occupies.

“Davos for Dissidents”

In November 2014, the BBC’s Newsnight program broadcast an extraordinarily revealing report on the activities of the Oslo Freedom Foundation (OFF). The British state broadcaster dubbed it a place where “the aristocracy of activists” meet to “share ideas and learn about agitating for positive change over champagne and canapés.”

“In the basement of this four-star hotel, human-rights activists come to what feels a bit like a school for revolution,” intoned Laura Kuenssberg, then-Newsnight’s chief correspondent, now BBC News’s political editor. “This workshop? How to make sure your message – whether in Egypt, Ukraine, Hong Kong or North Korea – catches on. This may not evoke the spirit of the barricades, but the teaching here is that, to be successful, to topple a government for good, you have to be organized, and plan meticulously.”

She went on to note that activists present in the class had been involved “in organizing the current protests in Hong Kong,” strikingly revealing “their plan to put thousands on the streets of the territory was, in fact, hatched nearly two years ago.”

The report then cuts to an interview with Yang Jianli, who, in his mid-20s, was involved in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, and subsequently fled to the US. On his return to China in April 2002 on a friend’s passport to monitor labor unrest, he was arbitrarily detained for four years, then for another year for refusing to leave the country following his release.

On a table next to Yang is a laptop, via which he’s conducting a conversation with none other than Joshua Wong. Kuenssberg notes Yang has been talking to student activists in Hong Kong “on a daily, almost hourly basis,” and reiterates the fact that demonstrators in the territory were “trained, long before taking to the streets, to use non-violent action as a weapon of mass destruction.”

This segues into a brief interview with Jamila Raqib, Executive Director of the Albert Einstein Institution, which “advances freedom with non-violent action,” and has received funding from, among others, US government regime-change arm the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

“Protesters were taught how to behave in a protest, how to keep ranks, how to speak to police, how to manage their movements, how to behave when arrested,” she says.

The report ends with clips of an ensuing bout of booze-fuelled revelry, Kuenssberg noting that “like at any good conference, the evenings see deals done over drinks.”

“Schmoozing for democracy! To say this is a strange event hardly begins to cover it,” she says without apparent irony. “There’s something deeply incongruous about North Korean defectors, Ukrainian freedom fighters, even hackers, trading information over glasses of champagne. They call it ‘Davos for Dissidents’ for a very good reason.”

Kuenssberg concludes that, while viewers will “never know” most of those in attendance at the OFF summit, “the next revolutionary, who will change their country, could just be in this room,” while members of Pussy Riot snap selfies with other attendees.

Oddly, days after broadcast,the BBC issued a clarification, stating that, while the report “may have given the impression the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests were planned by foreign activists,” in fact, “references to the demonstrations were intended to mean the planning was carried out in Hong Kong, with support from abroad.”

“Fostering awareness”

Kuenssberg’s reference to the blueprints for the Occupy Central protests being “hatched” two years prior to her report’s broadcast is conspicuous, given it was in 2012 that the aforementioned NED began funding the National Democratic Institute (NDI) in Hong Kong to the tune of US$460,000 annually.

The NDI’s objective was “to foster awareness regarding political institutions and constitutional reform … and develop the capacity of citizens – particularly university students – to more effectively participate in public debate … allowing students and citizens to explore possible reforms leading to universal suffrage.”

This sounds highly relevant to the Occupy Central protests, and, in September 2016, the NDI published a report on the progress of its “democratization” efforts in Hong Kong, which made repeated references to Wong, Scholarism, and Demosisto.

In the meantime, NED grants and the organization’s involvement with activists in Hong Kong grew apace, expanding to include groups such as the Institute of Human Resource Management, Confederation of Trade Unions, Journalists Association, Civic Party, Labor Party and Democratic Party. NED funding extended to these groups exceeded US$1.8 million from 2017 to 2020 alone – a period concurrent with ever-escalating levels of protest in Hong Kong.

In 2015, the US’s Freedom House, which works closely with the NED, honoured Wong alongside Martin Lee, the founder of the Democratic Party and another noteworthy figure in the 2014 Occupy Central protests.

The NED was founded in November 1983, and then-US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director William Casey was at the heart of its creation. He wished to construct a public mechanism to support groups and individuals inside “enemy” countries that would engage in propaganda and political action, which the CIA had historically organized and paid for covertly, under the bogus aegis of democracy and human-rights promotion.

In 1991, senior NED official Allen Weinstein acknowledged that “a lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.”

Seeing in colours

Intriguingly, the Agency also played a role in the creation of the Albert Einstein Institution,  which was briefly featured in the Newsnight report.

In 1965, its founder, Gene Sharp, was recruited to Harvard’s Center for International Affairs, known colloquially as “the CIA at Harvard”. Its founders and staff were all prominent Cold War intellectuals, with intimate ties to the US national security state, the first co-directors being Henry Kissinger and Robert Bowie, future CIA deputy chief.

It was here that Sharp, who died in 2018, created many resistance methods that have influenced protest movements the world over ever since, earning him the nickname of the “Machiavelli of nonviolence.”

Sharp and the Albert Einstein Institution, through instructional writing and direct training, have helped out numerous revolutionary groups since the 1990s. They include Yugoslavia’s Otpor, which also received millions in NED funding, and whose members proceeded to found the Center for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies, which trained the various groups involved in the ‘colour revolutions’ that engulfed former Soviet states in the mid-2000s, as well as key Arab Spring activists.

“The bible of Pora has been the book of Gene Sharp … it’s called ‘From Dictatorship to Democracy’. Pora activists translated it themselves. We [wrote] to Sharp … he became very sympathetic towards our initiative, and the Institution provided funding to print over 12,000 copies of this book for free,” a member of Pora, a group central to Ukraine’s ‘orange revolution’, has said.

According to a 2006 US embassy cable published by WikiLeaks, protesters in Syria were tutored in Sharp’s writings. Another embassy cable the next year indicated Burmese officials feared Sharp was part of a “a vast internal and external alliance” that was trying to bring down the government.

The Albert Einstein Institution staffer featured in the Newsnight clip, Jamila Raqib, is a recurrent OFF speaker, to the point that she has a dedicated profile on the organization’s website. It notes she worked “closely” with Sharp and that, together, they authored ‘Self-Liberation’, which OFF states “has been used throughout the world as a practical guide for nonviolent resistance.”

If Raqib’s statements in the BBC report are accurate, she – and Sharp, whether directly or indirectly – had an intimate hand in training the Hong Kong protesters, even if remotely.

It’s unclear which other would-be insurrectionists have benefited from their collective expertise, although White Helmets chief Raed al-Saleh spoke at the Forum’s 2017 meeting, and self-avowed Belarusian president-in-waiting Svetlana Tikhanovskaya was guest-of-honour at OFF’s virtual 2020 summit.

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

December 10, 2020 Posted by | Deception | , , , | Leave a comment

Bolivians Face Major Post-Coup Struggles As Luis Arce Seeks Justice, Economic Reforms, Activist Says

By Demond Cureton – Sputnik – 17.11.2020

Bolivians are tasked with numerous challenges after successfully voting out the former Jeanine Anez coup government, who seized control last year in elections contested by opposition forces. The nation has entered a period of restructuring and healing following major political crises in recent months.

Miriam Amancay Colque, spokeswoman for the Bartolina Sisa Resistance movement in London, spoke to Sputnik about events in Bolivia following President Luis Arce and Vice-president David Choquehuanca’s victory in national elections.

SPUTNIK: Can you tell us about the current mood in Bolivia? How are people feeling after Luis Arce’s electoral victory?

Miriam Amancay Colque: The Bolivian people have regained their hope or, as we call it, their Ajayu, or their ‘soul’.

The victories of President Arce and Vice-president Choquehuanca mark those of the Bolivian people that, despite intimidation, persecution and massacres, defended democracy against racist, genocidal Jeanine Anez dictatorship.

Bolivians, in particular indigenous people, feel that their dignity and identity has been restored and are now placing faith in their new leadership.

Former president Evo Morales has also returned from exile in Argentina, back to his roots in Bolivia. Nearly 1m people welcomed him in El Chapare, and we are sure he will work positively with the new government.

SPUTNIK: How was the swearing in ceremony and how did people react?

Miriam Amancay Colque: The swearing-in ceremony for the President and Vice-President was inspiring. It took place on 8 November and was attended by global delegates and Bolivians. Social movements from across the country joined the parade to show support for the two officials, and the event was celebrated with music and dances for over eight hours.

There was widespread jubilation, with several thousands taking part in the event. A small opposition group protested the event but failed to dampen the celebrations.

Bolivians have shown the world that a humble but dignified and courageous people were able to break the chains of the former Anez dictatorship to reclaim their democracy.

SPUTNIK: What has become of the previous coup administration?

Miriam Amancay Colque: The former regime strongman who launched massacres across the country, Arturo Murillo Prijic, was the first to flee the country. Jeanine Anez is also believed to have fled Bolivia, and her collaborators have either renounced or left their posts.

Most of them will face justice for numerous crimes, including massacres, torture, imprisonment, corruption and others.

SPUTNIK: Have they accepted defeat or do you think they will attempt further coups in the country?

Miriam Amancay Colque: The opposition will always be on the lookout, but as long as Bolivians remain united and mobilised, it will be very difficult for them to violate the rule of law and its institutions again.

Those most affected by the attacks from the right-wing groups were always indigenous people who, after over 500 years, continue to struggle against oppressors and will continue to defend their rights.

Dignified and sovereign people rebelled and empowered themselves by speaking out against the Anez regime and emerged victorious.

But it should be known that the opposition never works alone. US organisations such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) funded the right-wing opposition with millions to destabilise left-wing governments.

Groups such as Rios de Pie (Standing Rivers) were camouflaged as an environmental non-governmental organisation (NGO) lead by Jhanisse Vaca Daza, a US-backed operative with experience in toppling progressive governments.

Daza also holds racist views and is now campaigning against President Arce in an attempt to divide Bolivians again.

SPUTNIK: How will the incoming administration deal with those responsible for crimes against humanity?

Miriam Amancay Colque: To bring peace we need justice, and all people involved in crimes against humanity must be tried and punished. Massacres took place against mostly indigenous people, leading to over 30 people killed and hundreds injured, and cannot go unpunished.

Judicial authorities in Bolivia will need to investigate and restore justice and peace to affected families, and President Arce has met with families in Senkata to listen to their testimonies.

We remembered the victims killed and injured in Ovejuyo, Pedregal, Rosales and Chasquipampa in southern La Paz City on 11 November, and victims of the Huayllani, Sabaca massacre last year were remembered on the 15th.

Many of them have been unable to seek justice, and our organisation sends our heartfelt solidarity to all those affected.

Despite the pain and trauma, it is important to seek justice for all victims and their relatives subjected to threats and mistreatment by security forces, including police and paramilitary groups as well as health professionals refusing to provide medical care to victims because they ‘looked like Masistas’, or indigenous people.

SPUTNIK: According to Reuters, Arce promises “moderate” Socialism for the Bolivian people. What precisely does he mean by this and how would it work compared to socialism under Evo Morales?

Miriam Amancay Colque: Neoliberal policies have been imposed on Bolivia, leading to major poverty, unemployment and inequality, among others.

Capitalism is not the answer for these people there is a need to move to a system that works for the people rather than exploiting them, and that supports the majority rather than a few by redistributing wealth to the poorest and marginalised.

Arce’s socialist views were formed when he was a member of the Socialist Party 1 (PS1) in the 80s. His party leader, Marcelo Quiroga Santa Cruz, was tortured, killed and disappeared by military dictator Luis Garcia Mesa in July 1980.

We also recognise that Morales is an undisputed and charismatic indigenous leader with a major place in history, and Arce is, after all, the architect of the miraculous economic policies that transformed Bolivia under Morales.

Arce’s policies halved extreme poverty from 38 percent to 17 percent, reduced national debt and increased wealth by 5 percent each year. It is thanks to Arce that Bolivia has made such progress prior to the US backed coup. He is also a more pragmatic person and is well-qualified to rescue the nation from economic collapse and bring people together.

SPUTNIK: What are the most important challenges for the Arce administration?

Miriam Amancay Colque: President Arce has inherited a real challenge after the coup government left the country economically destroyed with state companies privatised and bankrupt, along with a -11 percent recession rate and unemployment tripled.

Jeanine Anez took power only to embezzle public funds with her collaborators, who never offered support to Bolivians left to their own devices in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dead victims were found in the streets, in houses and other places, without medical assistance and abandoned by the state.

President Arce’s top priority will be to tackle COVID-19 by providing full assistance to Bolivians. He recently stated he would rebuild the economy, boost domestic consumption and pledge financial support, and announced on 12 November a further Bonus Against Hunger to be paid in December to unemployed people over 18 years old.

The most pressing problems in the country will be economic and health issues. President Arce has said he would need to implement measures to boost the economy.

Personally, I think there should be no payments of foreign debt to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) until the economy is back on track and COVID-19 is suppressed.

The government should also continue industrialising national gas, lithium and other resources, and further advancements in social services should be implemented to inspire young, new leaders in the future.

SPUTNIK: What issues will they need to reverse from the former Anez coup government?

Miriam Amancay Colque: Measures will need to be implemented to reverse the damage of the Anez coup government, including boosting internal demand, renationalising strategic companies from foreign companies and backing state firms.

Education will need to be restored after the coup government shuttered schools for the year, leaving thousands of children without access to education.

The Arce government has reestablished the Culture and Decolonisation Ministry to continue to support the Bolivian people.

The Bolivian people are beginning to decide their own future for themselves.

November 17, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Environmentalism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | Leave a comment

Star ‘disinformation’ reporter brags about doxxing Trump supporters & NBC defends it as journalism

RT | October 22, 2020

An NBC reporter has bragged about doxxing Trump supporters, “anti-vaxxers,” and other societal rejects, one self-described victim has revealed, suggesting the aim is to turn the US’ national security apparatus against her targets.

Brandy Zadrozny, an NBC feature reporter who specializes in ‘disinformation’ and ‘extremism’ on the internet, is teaching the world how she digs up data on her targets – from phone numbers and home addresses to property records and even Amazon wishlists – to expose their real-life identities. She recently shared her doxxing methods in an online textbook hosted by DataJournalism.com.

But while this might sound like standard journalism practice, Zadrozny’s targets – who have recently included anonymous Trump supporters on Twitter – are private citizens who have committed no crimes, and exposing their real-life identities for allegedly posting “disinformation” is a not-so-subtle effort to turn them into enemies of the state, one such recent target, Revolver News reporter Darren Beattie, told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson on Wednesday.

“She uses state-of-the art-proprietary technical tools to dig up personal information about anonymous Trump supporters online,” Beattie told the Fox News host. “She’ll do anything she can to unearth anonymous Trump supporters – basically so she can ruin their lives.”

Beattie revealed that Zadrozny’s “doxxing handbook” is sponsored in part by Bellingcat, the notoriously partisan ‘open-source intelligence’ outfit that, in turn, is backed by the US’ National Endowment for Democracy. It’s also funded by Google, a military contractor in its own right, and the European Journalism Centre, which counts such oligarchic bogeymen as George Soros and Bill Gates among its financial backers. So much muscle behind the doyenne of doxxing would be enough to give anyone who’s ever tweeted “wrongthink” pause, especially when her how-to guide describes how she has “identified people by connecting photos of things like cars, homes, or pets” in addition to profile photos.

Calling the institutionally sanctioned outing “disgusting and disgraceful, even by modern journalism standards,” Beattie described the work of Zadrozny and her ilk as that of “a neo-Stasi” attempting to “crush the rebellion of the American people against their corrupt ruling class,” suggesting her repeated description of anonymous conservatives’ social media posts as “disinformation” was meant to bring down the force of the national security state “to silence Trump supporters domestically.”

The former White House staffer shared screenshots from the textbook on Twitter, revealing the extensive lengths to which Zadrozny went to “out” the Columbia Bugle, which she refers to as a “popular far-right anonymous Twitter account that boasts that it was retweeted twice by Donald Trump’s account.”

Such dogged detective work is one thing when an investigator is hunting a criminal, but quite another when the quarry’s only “crime” is posting political material on social media. And Zadrozny’s targets have been subjected to death threats and suffered real-world harm because of her work.

While Beattie and Carlson both called on NBC to denounce Zadrozny’s abusive tactics, the network responded by defending its employee, calling her an “incredible and meticulous reporter” whom they were “proud to call … our colleague.” Other colleagues stepped up to defend her and attack her accusers, painting the Fox News segment as a preemptive strike against an article Zadrozny was working on about Beattie’s site.

Trained by oligarch-funded journalism outfit the Poynter Institute, Zadrozny shot to journalistic stardom in the past few years, making her name hyping Russiagate, denouncing pedophile hunters, and shutting down Facebook communities in which parents of autistic children swap tips about healing what they believe are vaccine injuries. The unifying thread running through her work, other than a fanatical devotion to pro-establishment narratives, has been reliance on social media deep-dives to learn more about her subjects without having to actually, well, interview them.

October 22, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Social media fact-checking, brought to you by the Deep State

By Daniel Espinosa | OffGuardian | September 7, 2020

Almost four years of mainstream media hype about “fake news” and “Russian meddling” propaganda has brought to the world exactly what they were intended to bring: an effective mechanism for internet and social media censorship.

In the center of this move toward global discourse control is an organization called the Poynter Institute, home to the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), a body created to coordinate, promote and train dozens of fact-checkers from around the world.

The IFCN and many non-profits working in the same field are funded by the big capitalist “philanthropists” of our era, like George Soros, Pierre Omidyar, Bill Gates, and even the Koch brothers… but also by the US Department of State and a shady “aid” – in reality, political meddling – organization, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), historically linked to the CIA and regime change operations.

Google and Facebook – itself tied to the warmongering Atlantic Council and its “Digital Forensic Research Lab” – are also associated with Poynter, by funding and partnerships to fight “fake news” (including the development of an “automated” fact-checking program for the upcoming 2020).

The marriage between Poynter’s IFCN, politically inclined billionaires, the State Department – and the whitewashed public face of the Deep State – suggest that the institute is probably working in what Nelson Poynter, its founder, worked on for a key part of his life: propaganda and censorship for the US government.

Although this information is not available in Nelson Poynter’s Wikipedia profile or in poynter.org’s history page, his work for a government propaganda agency is not exactly a secret. A remembrance of his wife, Henrietta, also at the institute’s website, quickly passes over the fact that Poynter did work for the Office of War Information (OWI) during WWII, but his specific role as a government censor and propagandist is never mentioned.

Nevertheless, Hollywood Goes to War, a book written in 1987 by Clayton R. Koppes and Gregory D. Black, is one of the many historical sources that tell the details of Poynter’s job.

Film censorship and the birth of the Voice of America

Nelson Poynter was recruited by the OWI with his wife Henrietta, who worked as assistant program chief under Elmer Davis, head of the agency. She came up with the name for the “Voice of America”, the famous psychological war operation of the US government.

The radio project was established in February 1942 and soon grew to be the most important US overt propaganda arm of the Cold War.

Unlike his wife’s job, Poynter’s regarded not radio – or his previous line of work, journalism – but movies. In 1942, the OWI’s Bureau of Motion Pictures (BMP) set up office in Hollywood, naming Poynter as its head. His mission was to act as liaison between the agency and the owners of Warner Brothers, Twentieth Century Fox, MGM and the other big studio names.

Elmer Davis, head of the OWI, regarded films as:

The easiest way to inject a propaganda idea into most people’s minds”, in part, because they “do not realize that they are being propagandized”.

Davis was a career journalist who worked for ten years for the New York Times before being recruited by the government. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s White House needed the film industry to incorporate specific themes in their movies, ideas that promoted the notion of WWII as being a “popular” war, fought to defend his Four Freedoms.

But at first, Poynter’s office in Hollywood had little veto power over what the industry could produce – for the entire Western world – limiting itself to suggest cosmetic changes here and there, or the toning down of reactionary and racist imagery and language, an inherent feature in the Hollywood of that era.

The heads of the studios were on fairly good terms with the US Army, historically close to the industry. Its owners were happy to portrait US wars abroad as heroic, in exchange for the lending of military equipment, installations and expert advice.

But in most cases, a disappointed Poynter complained, war ended up only as “a backdrop” for shallow romance, cheap comedies and other proven formulas. Poynter and his boss at the BMP, Lowell Mellett, also hired a former assistant of Harold Lasswell, a famous social researcher who said – back in the 30s – that democracy needed propaganda because people were not the best judges of their own interest.

Eventually, the team devised a way to exert more power over the unruly, reactionary and overly commercial Hollywood studios. They decided to ask the US Office of Censorship to weigh in and threaten them with banning “offending” films from export, seriously reducing their potential earnings.

According to Koppes and Black’s Hollywood Goes to War, it was a success, prompting MGM, Warner and the other big names to start turning in their scripts for review to Poynter. The BMP knew it was important to intervene right at that stage, before large amounts of money were spent in production.

Poynter was a diligent censor and propagandist, going as far as to suggest dialogues for the movie scripts he was reviewing, breaching “one of the industries taboos” and provoking the powerful tycoons, according to the authors mentioned above.

When the war ended, Poynter went back to journalism. He eventually took over the St. Petersburg Times (renamed Tampa Bay Times in 2012), owned by his father. He also founded the Congressional Quarterly with his wife Henrietta, who died in 1968. As we can read in the Poynter institute’s website:

When Henrietta died suddenly at the age of 66, Nelson mourned deeply. ‘Her passing marked the end of an era for Mr. Poynter,’ said David Shedden, former research librarian at The Poynter Institute. ‘He started looking to the future and thinking about his legacy. He focused on creating a school for journalists, which of course became the Modern Media Institute, and then the Poynter Institute’.”

Nevertheless, historian W.C. Bourne explains that many of the OWI’s top brass – as Elmer Davis and Nelson Poynter, former journalists – returned to the corporate media after the war, but “retained an abiding belief in the things for which OWI stood and the possibilities of accomplishment in the international information picture”.

Many of them also retained the Deep State contacts and a nationalistic “spirit of collaboration”.

A legacy of censorship

Nelson Poynter’s work for the government ended many decades ago, and it would be reasonable to suggest that his ties to the US government and its propaganda apparatus probably never involved the journalism institution he founded years after leaving the OWI.

But we have evidence pointing precisely in the opposite direction.

Firstly, the obvious – and open – ties between the institute and today’s version of the foreign meddling machine installed by the US during the Cold War (i.e. the NED). As informed on many occasions by independent journalists, one of the founders of the National Endowment for Democracy once admitted that:

“A lot of what we do today was done covertly twenty-five years ago by the CIA.”

Secondly, the intimate ties between the Poynter Institute and the US State Department, which selected it to conduct the “Edward Murrow Program for Journalists”.

It brings together “more than 100 emerging international journalists from around the world to examine journalistic practices in the United States”.

In other words, to be indoctrinated in Western corporate journalism and culture and start a relationship with a potential foreign opinion leader.

The State Department’s Murrow program is part of Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), an agency dedicated to “cultural diplomacy”, intimately tied to intelligence and foreign policy since way before the Cold War. The participants to be trained by Poynter are chosen by US embassies abroad.

A 2017 report of the historical success of the educational exchange agency stated that:

… 565 alumni of the ECA programs are current heads or former heads of state and government, and 31 alumni are heads of international organizations.”

Thirdly, the Poynter Institute, too, redacted an infamous blacklist of “fake news” sites, with the intention of marginalize and, in this case, deny many of them of any kind of advertisement money.

A blacklist to defund them all

For this operation, launched on April 30, 2019, Poynter ganged-up with the rest of the fact-checking “cartel”, so to speak.

The institute gathered the blacklists and analysis done in recent years by Snopes, Fact-check.org, Politifact (owned by the Tampa Bay Times and Poynter), OpenSources and the Fake News Codex, and used them to create the mother of all blacklists, naming 515 “unreliable” news websites.

It was retracted shortly after its publication, on May 2, after coming under criticism for “unreliability and poor methodology”. The irony! And this should be understood as an indictment on the whole bunch. As one critic from the George Washington University noted:

Beneath the veneer of its precision, the fact-checking enterprise relies heavily on opinion and interpretation… If a list summarizing fact-checking results and verified by fact checkers is ultimately retracted by those same fact checkers for not being rigorous, it underscores the question of why we should trust anything from the fact-checking community.”

To add insult to injury, Poynter’s dubious list of “unreliable websites” was intended to cause financial harm to those named in it, by guiding advertisers and ad-technology applications to deny them of ads.

After the retraction, Stephen Gutowski, a writer from one of the affected websites, Free Beacon, wrote:

What a disgusting exercise in bad faith from an organization that’s supposed to be about improving and promoting journalism. Instead, they’re creating tabloid-level listicles to smear reporters without offering even a single piece of evidence. Shame on you, @Poynter.”

Philip Klein, from The Washington Examiner – also listed – thought it was:

… worrisome to call for advertisers blacklisting news organizations, especially given the opacity of the process and arbitrariness of many of the judgements [sic].”

The “cartel”

Most of the non-profits behind Poynter’s blacklist share patrons, except for the controversial Snopes, that runs on less grant money than advertisement revenues.

The International Fact-checking Network and its more than a hundred “associated” – subordinated – smaller fact checkers around the globe, are also funded by the same “philanthropists”, like Bill Gates, whose foundation already finances tens of mainstream corporate news outlets with tens of millions of dollars, just like the Columbia Journalism Review recently uncovered.

Regarding Poynter and Gates, specifically:

… Poynter senior vice president Kelly McBride said Gates’s money was passed on to media fact-checking sites, including Africa Check, and noted that she is “absolutely confident” that no bias or blind spots emerged from the work, though she acknowledged that she has not reviewed it herself.”

In a blatant conflict of interests, those same fact-checkers often (try to) debunk information related to the Gates Foundation, just like a private PR agency.

Many lesser players in the global constellation of fact checkers are also funded directly by George Soros and his Open Society Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the US embassy and/or the NED.

When “fact-checking”, the members of this private-public consortium often limit themselves to copy/paste from their “parent” sources, like Poynter’s Politifact and Snopes.

As Emil Marmol and Lee Mager recently wrote for Project Censored, the “fake news” psychological operation was little more than a “Trojan horse for silencing alternative news and reestablishing corporate news dominance” :

The fake news hysteria created by those in government and echoed by the corporate news media is being harnessed and used as a pretext for the suppression of dissent and counterhegemonic viewpoints while re-establishing the corporate press’s preeminence as the sole purveyor and manufacturer of public opinion.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the degenerative process under the guise of “protecting us”, prompting democratic governments to take dangerous paths, like arresting citizens for promoting street marches on Facebook.

The internet opened up a world of information to the regular citizen, we must keep it open so more of us can take a look.

Daniel Espinosa lives in Arequipa, second largest city of Peru. He graduated in Communication Sciences in Lima and started researching propaganda and mainstream media. He writes for a Peruvian in-print weekly, Hildebrandt en sus trece, since 2018, and collaborates with many online media. His writings are a critique of the role of mass media in society. You can read his previous work through his MuckRack profile.

September 8, 2020 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The US contracts out its regime change operation in Nicaragua

By John Perry | COHA | August 4, 2020

Masaya, Nicaragua – An extraordinary leaked document gives a glimpse of the breadth and complexity of the US government’s plan to interfere in Nicaragua’s internal affairs up to and after its presidential election in 2021.

The plan,[1] a 14-page extract from a much longer document, dates from March-April this year and sets the terms for a contract to be awarded by USAID (a “Request for Task Order Proposal”). It was revealed by reporter William Grigsby from Nicaragua’s independent Radio La Primerisima[2] and describes the task  of creating what the document calls “the environment for Nicaragua’s transition to democracy.” The aim is to achieve “an orderly transition” from the current government of Daniel Ortega to “a government committed to the rule of law, civil liberties, and a free civil society.” The contractor will work with the “democracy, human rights, and governance (DRG) sub-sectors” which in reality is an agglomeration of NGOs, think tanks, media organizations and so-called human rights bodies that depend on US funding and which – while claiming to be independent – are in practice an integral part of the opposition to the Ortega government.

To justify such blatant interference, a considerable rewriting of history is needed. For example, the document claims that the ruling Sandinista party manipulated “successive” past elections so as to win “without a majority of the votes.” Then after “manipulating the 2016 presidential elections” to similar effect, it was warned by the Organization of American States (OAS) that there had been various “impediments to free and fair elections” as a result of which the OAS requested “technical electoral reforms.” What the document omits, however, are the overall conclusions of the OAS on the last elections. Although it identified “weaknesses typical of all electoral processes,” the OAS explicitly said that these had “not affected substantially the popular will expressed through the vote.” In other words, the nature of Daniel Ortega’s victory (he gained 72% of the popular vote) made any minor irregularities irrelevant to the result: he won by an enormous margin. The leaked document makes clear that the US is worried that the same might happen again and aims to stop it.

Not surprisingly, the document also rewrites recent history, saying that the “uprising” in 2018 (which had strong US backing) was answered by “the government’s brutal repression” of demonstrations, while it ignores the wave of violence and destruction that the opposition itself unleashed. The economic disruption it caused is still damaging the country, even though (pre-pandemic) there were strong signs of recovery. USAID, however, has to paint a picture of a country in crisis “… broadening into an economic debacle with the potential to become a humanitarian emergency, depending on the impact of the COVID-19 contagion on Nicaragua’s weak healthcare system.” Someone casually reading the document, unaware of the real situation, might get the impression that, in Nicaragua’s “crisis environment,” regime change is not only desirable but urgently required. The reality – that Nicaragua is at peace, has so far coped with the COVID-19 pandemic reasonably well, and hasn’t suffered the severe economic problems experienced by its neighbors El Salvador and Honduras – is of course incompatible with the picture the US administration needs to present, in order to give some semblance of justification for its intervention.

A long history of US intervention

Given the long history of US interference in Nicaragua, going back at least as far as William Walker’s assault on its capital and usurption of the presidency in 1856, the existence of a plan of this kind is hardly surprising. What’s unusual is that someone has made it publicly available and we can now see the plan in detail. Of course, the US has long developed a tool box of regime change methods short of direct military intervention, such as when it sent in the marines in the 1920s and 1930s or illegally funded and provided logistical support for  the “Contra” forces in the 1980s. It now has more sophisticated methods, using local proxies, which are deniable in the unlikely event that they will be exposed by the international media (which normally displays little interest, being much more interested in electoral interference by Russia than it is in Washington’s disruption of the democratic processes).

The latest escalation in intervention began under the Obama presidency and continued under Trump, although the motivation probably has more to do with the US administration’s ongoing concerns about the success of the Ortega government’s development model since it returned to power in 2007 and began a decade of renewed social investment. Oxfam summarized the problem in the memorable title it gave to a 1980s report about Nicaragua: The Threat of a Good Example. Between 2005 and 2016, poverty was reduced by almost half, from 48 percent to 25 percent according to World Bank data. Nicaragua had a low crime rate, limited drug-related violence, and community-based policing. Over the 11 years to 2017, Nicaragua’s per-capita GDP increased by 38 percent—more than for any of its neighbors. Its success contrasted sharply with the experience of the three “Northern Triangle” countries closely allied to the US. While Nicaragua became one of the safest countries in Latin America, neighboring Guatemala, El Salvador and particularly Honduras saw soaring crime levels, rampant corruption and rapid growth in the drug trade that prevented social progress and produced the “migrant caravans” that began to head north towards the US in 2017.

The US administration’s efforts in 2016 and 2017, building on long experience of manipulating Nicaraguan politics, appeared to produce results in April 2018. The first catalyst for action by US-funded groups was an out-of-control forest fire in a remote reserve, inaccessible by road.[3] The tactics were clear: take an incident with potential to get young people onto the streets, blame the government for inaction (even though the fire was almost impossible to control), whip up people’s anger via social media, organize protests, generate critical stories in the local press, enlist support from neighboring allies (in this case, Costa Rica) and secure hostile coverage in the international media. All of these tactics worked, but before the next stage could be reached (protesters being repressed by the Ortega “regime”) the forest fire was extinguished by a rainstorm.

A week later, the opposition forces were unexpectedly given a second opportunity.  The government announced a package of modest social security reforms, and quickly faced new protests on the streets. The same tactics were deployed, this time with much greater success. Violence by protesters on April 19 (a police officer, a Sandinista supporter and a bystander were shot) brought inevitable attempts by the police to control the protests, leading to rapid escalation. Media messages proliferated about students being killed, many of them false. Only a few days later the government cancelled the social security reforms, but by now the protests had (as planned) moved on to demanding the government’s resignation. The full story of events in April-July 2018, and how the government eventually prevailed, is told in Live from Nicaragua: Uprising or Coup?

A section of the report

Laying the groundwork for insurrection

How were the conditions for a coup created? The aims of US government funding in Nicaragua and the tactics they paid for in this period were made surprisingly clear in the online magazine Global Americans in 2018, which is partly funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).[4] Arguing (in May 2018, at the height of the violence) that “Nicaragua is on the brink of a civic insurrection,” the author Ben Waddell, who was in Nicaragua at the time, pointed out that “US support has helped play a role in nurturing the current uprisings.”

His article’s title, Laying the groundwork for insurrection,[5] was starkly accurate in describing the ambitions behind the NED’s funding program, which had financed 54 projects in Nicaragua over the period 2014-17 and has continued to do so since then. What did the projects do? Like the recently leaked document, NED promotes ostensibly innocuous or even apparently beneficial activities like strengthening civil society, promoting democratic values, finding “a new generation of democratic youth leaders” and identifying “advocacy opportunities.” To get behind the jargon and clarify the NED’s role, Waddell quotes the New York Times (referring to the uprisings in Egypt, where NED had also been active):[6]

“… the United States’ democracy-building campaigns played a bigger role in fomenting protests than was previously known, with key leaders of the movements having been trained by the Americans in campaigning, organizing through new media tools and monitoring elections.”

In the case of Nicaragua, the NED’s funding of groups opposed to the Sandinista government began in 1984, giving the lie to their aim being to “promote democracy” since that was the year in which Nicaragua’s revolutionary government held the country’s first-ever democratic elections. Waddell makes it clear that the NED’s efforts continued, years later:

“… it is now quite evident that the U.S. government actively helped build the political space and capacity in Nicaraguan society for the social uprising that is currently unfolding.”

The NED is not the only non-covert source of US funding. Another is USAID, which describes its role in the 2018 uprising in similar terms to the NED. Not long before he exposed the new document, William Grigsby was able to publish lists of groups and projects in Nicaragua funded by USAID and by the National Democratic Institute (NDI).[7] He showed that upwards of $30 million was being distributed to a wide range of groups opposed to the government and involved in the violence of 2018, and that in the case of the NDI at least this funding continued into 2020.

Last year, Yorlis Gabriela Luna recounted for COHA her own experiences of how US-funded groups trained young people, in particular, and influenced their political beliefs in the build-up to 2018.[8] She explained how social networks and media outlets were “capable of fooling a significant portion of Nicaragua’s youth and general population.” She explained how the groups used scholarships to learn English, diploma programs, graduate studies, and courses with enticing names like “democratic values, social media activism, human rights and accountability” at private universities, “to attract and lure young people.” She went on to explain how exciting events were organised in expensive hotels or even involving trips abroad, so that young people who had never before been privileged in these ways developed a sense of “pride,” belonging, and “group identity,” and as a result “wound up aligning themselves with the foreign interests” of those who funded the courses and activities.

The new task during and after the pandemic

Two years after the failed coup attempt, what are the organizations that receive US funding now supposed to do? The new document is full of jargon, requiring the contractor (for example) to engage in “targeted short-term technical and analytical activities during Nicaragua’s transition that require rapid response programming support until other funds, mechanisms, and actors can be mobilized.” The work also requires “longer-term programs, which will be determined as the crisis evolves.” Preparation is required for the possibility that “transition [to a new government] does not happen in an orderly and timely manner.” The contractor will have to prepare “a roster of subject matter experts in Nicaragua” to provide short term technical assistance, “regardless of the result of the 2021 election, even in the event of the Sandinistas ‘winning fairly’.” The document is full of requirements like being able to offer “a rapid response” and “seize new opportunities,” emphasizing the urgency of the task. In other words, a fresh attempt is underway to destabilize Daniel Ortega’s government and, in the event that this doesn’t work, and even should the Sandinistas win the next election fairly, as the document admits is a possibility, US attempts at regime change are stepping up a gear.

Who will carry this out? The document places much emphasis on “maintaining” and “strengthening” civil society and improving its leadership, which appears to refer to the numerous NGOs, think tanks and “human rights” bodies which receive US funding. At one point the document asks “what should donor coordination, the opposition, civil society, and media focus on?” – clearly implying that the contractor has a role in influencing not just these civil society groups but also the media and political parties.

Not surprisingly, the document has been interpreted as a new plan to destabilize the country. Writing in La Primerísima, Wiston López argues that the plan’s purpose is “to create the conditions for a coup d’état in Nicaragua.”[9] Brian Wilson, the VietNam veteran severely injured in the 1980s when attempting to stop a freight train carrying supplies to the “Contra,” and who lives in Nicaragua, concludes that the US now realizes that Ortega will win the coming election.[10] In response, the “US has launched a brazen, criminal and arrogant plan to overthrow Nicaragua’s government.”

Supposing that there is a clear Sandinista victory in 2021, will the US nevertheless refuse to accept the result? Having implied that the OAS had serious criticisms of the last election when this was not the case, the document implies that it will be pressured to take a different attitude next time, saying that “whether the OAS decides to pick up the pressure on electoral reform again will be an important international pressure point.” No doubt the US will try to insist that the OAS must be election observers, and if this is refused it will allow the legitimacy of the election to be called into question, if the result is unfavorable to US interests. Many question whether the OAS is even qualified to have an observer role any longer, however, after the serious harm it did to Bolivian democracy in 2019 by casting doubts on what experts considered a fair election and, in effect, instigating a coup.[11] This document creates legitimate concern that the US government would like to use the OAS to prevent another government that is not to its liking from winning an election, as it did so recently in Bolivia.

Not only must conditions be created to replace the current government, but once this is achieved the changes must extend to “rebuilding” the institutions of government, including the judicial system, police and armed forces. After the widespread persecution of government officials, state and municipal workers and Sandinista supporters that occurred in 2018, it is not surprising that this is interpreted as requiring a purge of all the institutions and personnel with Sandinista sympathies. As Wilson says, “the new government must immediately submit to the policies and guidelines established by the United States, including persecution of Sandinistas, dissolving the National Police and the Army, among other institutions.”

USAID makes it clear that it is internal pressure in Nicaragua that might eventually provoke a coup d’état, so it calls on its agents to deepen the political, economic and also the health crisis, taking into account the context of COVID-19. The US State Department recently awarded an extra $750,000 to Nicaraguan non-government bodies as part of its global response to COVID-19, and this includes “support for targeted communication and community engagement activities.”[12] As López points out in Popular Resistance, “Since March the US-directed opposition has focused 95% of their actions on attempting to discredit Nicaragua’s prevention, contention, and Covid treatment. However, this only had some success in the international media and is now backfiring since Nicaragua is the country with one of the lowest mortality rates in the continent.”[13] The Johns Hopkins University’s world map of coronavirus cases currently shows Nicaragua with 3,672 cases compared with 17,448 in El Salvador, 42,685 in Honduras and 51,306 in Guatemala.[14] Even though higher figures produced by Nicaragua’s so-called Citizens’ Observatory[15] are regularly cited in the international media, they currently show just 9,044 “suspected” cases, still far below the numbers in the “Northern triangle” countries.

What will the opposition do next?

COHA has already documented the disinformation campaign taking place against Nicaragua during the pandemic and how this has been repeated in the international media. So far, however, warnings of the health system’s collapse have proved to be unfounded.[16] If, as happened with the Indio Maíz fire and the social security protests in 2018, the opposition fails in its attempt to use the pandemic to destabilize the Ortega government, what will it do next? A recent incident shows that attempts to seize on events to spur a crisis will continue. On July 31, a fire occurred in Managua’s cathedral. The fire department responded quickly and put out the blaze within ten minutes, but a crucifix and the chapel where it stood were badly damaged. Within minutes opposition newspaper La Prensa reported that “an attack” had occurred involving a “Molotov cocktail” and that the government or its supporters were implicated.[17] This was echoed by other local and international media, opposition parties, the Archbishop of Managua, and by one of the NGOs which received USAID funding.[18] Despite the lack of any evidence to back up the media stories, the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights (UNHCR) also condemned the incident, obviously implying that it was an attack on human rights.[19]

Yet a police investigation quickly established that there was no evidence at all of any foul play, or that petrol or explosive materials were involved.[20] Their investigations pointed instead to a tragic accident involving lighted candles and the alcohol spray being used as a disinfectant as part of the cathedral’s anti-COVID-19 precautions. The Catholic Church has already announced that the damaged chapel will be restored to its former state. However, the damage that has been done to the government’s national and international reputation, and to its highly politicized relationship with the Catholic Church, will be more difficult to repair.

John Perry is a writer based in Nicaragua.

 


End notes

[1] Downloadable in English (pdf) at https://s3.amazonaws.com/rlp680/files/uploads/2020/07/31/aid-mayo-2020-ingles.pdf

[2] “EEUU lanza descarado plan intervencionista para tumbar al FSLN”, https://www.radiolaprimerisima.com/noticias/general/287264/eeuu-lanza-descarado-plan-intervencionista-A histotrypara-tumbar-al-fsln/

[3] “International Forces ‘Distorting’ Nicaragua’s Indio Maíz Fire,” https://www.telesurenglish.net/analysis/International-Forces-Distorting-Nicaraguas-Indio-Maiz-Fire-20180414-0019.html

[4] See details at https://www.ned.org/wp-content/themes/ned/search/grant-search.php (NED is nominally independent of the US administration, but is funded by Congress.)

[5] “Laying the groundwork for insurrection: A closer look at the U.S. role in Nicaragua’s social unrest,” https://theglobalamericans.org/2018/05/laying-groundwork-insurrection-closer-look-u-s-role-nicaraguas-social-unrest/

[6] “U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings,” https://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/15/world/15aid.html

[7] “Asi financia EEUU a los terroristas,” http://www.radiolaprimerisima.com/noticias/general/286068/asi-financia-eeuu-a-los-terroristas/

[8] “The Other Nicaragua, Empire and Resistance,” https://www.coha.org/the-other-nicaragua-empire-and-resistance/

[9] “EEUU lanza descarado plan intervencionista para tumbar al FSLN,” http://www.radiolaprimerisima.com/noticias/general/287264/eeuu-lanza-descarado-plan-intervencionista-para-tumbar-al-fsln/

[10] “NIcaragua targeted for US overthrow in 2020-21,” https://popularresistance.org/nicaragua-targeted-for-us-overthrow-in-2020-21/

[11] “Bolivia’s Struggle to Restore Democracy after OAS Instigated Coup,” https://www.coha.org/bolivias-struggle-to-restore-democracy-after-oas-instigated-coup/

[12] See https://www.state.gov/update-the-united-states-continues-to-lead-the-global-response-to-covid-19/

[13] “US Launches Brazen Interventionist Plan to Overthrow the FSLN,” https://popularresistance.org/us-launches-brazen-interventionist-plan-to-overthrow-the-fsln/

[14] See https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html

[15] See https://observatorioni.org/

[16] “Experts Warn about Possible Health System Collapse in Nicaragua,” https://www.voanews.com/episode/experts-warn-about-possible-health-system-collapse-nicaragua-4320606

[17] See https://www.laprensa.com.ni/2020/07/31/nacionales/2702954-lanzan-bomba-molotov-adentro-de-la-capilla-de-la-catedral

[18] See for example https://confidencial.com.ni/atentado-con-bomba-molotov-en-la-catedral-de-managua/ and https://elpais.com/internacional/2020-07-31/un-atentado-con-bomba-molotov-incendia-la-capilla-de-la-catedral-metropolitana-de-managua.html

[19] See https://twitter.com/OACNUDH/status/1289574031159488514?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1289574031159488514%7Ctwgr%5E&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.laprensa.com.ni%2F2020%2F08%2F01%2Fnacionales%2F2703388-organismos-de-derechos-humanos-condenan-ataque-a-la-catedral-de-managua

[20] “Esclarecimiento de incendio en Capilla de la Sangre de Cristo, Catedral de Managua”, https://www.el19digital.com/articulos/ver/titulo:105922-esclarecimiento-de-incendio-en-capilla-de-la-sangre-de-cristo-catedral-de-managua-presentacion

August 14, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Not Fact Checkers

By Iain | In This Together | February 28, 2020

Fact Checkers claim they check facts for you, so you don’t have to. The dictionary definition of a fact is:

“Something that is known to have happened or to exist, especially something for which proof exists, or about which there is information”

The legal definition of a fact is:

“An actual and absolute reality, as distinguished from mere supposition or opinion; a truth, as distinguished from fiction or error.”

Like reality and truth, a fact is absolute. It never changes, it is immutable and eternal. Our understanding of the facts may differ because we only have the available evidence to inform our knowledge of the facts. The availability of evidence is vital if we are to have any hope of knowing the facts. Our access to evidence doesn’t change the facts, it merely limits or expands our knowledge of them.

The definition of knowledge is:

“[Noun]… awareness, understanding, or information that has been obtained by experience or study, and that is either in a person’s mind or possessed by people generally.”

Vital Access to Information

Access to information is the key component for developing knowledge of the facts. Knowledge doesn’t mean we always get the facts right, but we have no chance if information is limited or deliberately restricted.

Some facts are relatively easy to understand. The boiling point of water is a fact we can physically measure with consistent results. Others are more difficult to know and therefore less certain from our perspective. For example, history comprises of nothing other than facts but for us to know what they are we need to sift through the evidence, some reliable some not, to build our knowledge of the historical facts.

The same is true with current affairs and public issues. The facts are fixed but our knowledge of them is determined by our access to information. Information is subject to many competing forces. Censorship, propaganda, commercial interest, fabrication, omission and basic human error all combine to distort, obfuscate or over emphasise information (evidence). This makes knowing the facts about contemporary public issues just as tricky as knowing the historical facts, often more so.

Fortunately, we can all employ critical thinking skills, cross reference the evidence from various sources and decide the facts for ourselves. Thanks to the current iteration of the internet, the logical pursuit of information, forming our own balanced judgments of the facts, has never been more accessible for ordinary folk. The process called thinking is the service the fact checkers are selling.

Fact checkers claim their knowledge of the information (evidence), which identifies fact, is both complete and indisputable. They are certain about what happened, thoroughly understand all the relevant circumstances, have a complete grasp of reality, knowledge of all the relevant information and are accurately able to determine what is fact.

In short, they say they possess the truth. If you disagree with them, you don’t know the truth and are therefore wrong, regardless of the evidence you cite.

If you rely upon the fact checkers for your facts you must accept this. You no longer need to think critically or examine the evidence yourself. The fact checkers will do the hard work for you. They will tell you what the information is, give you your knowledge and cement the facts in your mind. All you need do is “Google it.”

What Do Fact Checkers Do?

The State has decided people are incapable of critical thinking and can’t tell the difference between facts and disinformation. Further, they propose legislation that will fundamentally change the nature of the internet. It is in this political environment that fact checkers have been commissioned to discern the facts and present the truth to the confused public.

In 2014 there were just 44 Fact checkers worldwide. As of June 2019 there were 188. While the whole of Africa, Asia, Australasia and South America have 67 fact checkers between them, the much smaller geographical and less populated regions of Europe and North America have 121. So there must be more incorrect information in the U.S. and Europe than anywhere else in the world.

Fact Checking is a rapidly changing startup industry. In 2014 nearly 90% of Fact Checkers were directly funded by mainstream media corporations. Today that figure has dropped to just 56% with many more claiming they are independent. We are going to look at how independent they are.

Some independent fact checkers, such as the UK’s Full Fact, have been given charity status. The UK Charity commission accepted Full Fact’s charitable purpose:

“To provide free tools, advice, and information so that anyone can check the claims we hear about public issues.”

Fact Checking?

Fact Checkers make money by fact checking for multinational corporations, non-governmental organisations (NGO’s), wealthy charitable foundations and the mainstream media. Global corporations, notably the tech giants, are under considerable political pressure to employ fact checkers and devise ways of stopping the spread of so called disinformation. Disinformation being anything that questions official narratives.

Recently Facebook announced that its subsidiary Instagram was working with fact checkers to deploy a rating system. They will apply a rating “label” to all information as either true, partly false or false. Information rated as partly false or false will then be removed from search results and associated hashtags denied. Once the label is activated Facebook and Instagram bots seek out all “matching” content and label it accordingly. Thus effectively removing the offending information from the public domain.

The public will then be redirected to the correct information:

“… If something is rated false or partly false on Facebook, starting today we’ll automatically label identical content if it is posted on Instagram (and vice versa). The label will link out to the rating from the fact-checker and provide links to articles from credible sources that debunk the claim(s) made in the post.”

“Credible sources”, as far as most International Fact Checking Network (IFCN) fact checkers are concerned, often means the mainstream media (MSM) who they cite while seemingly oblivious to the MSM’s never ending stream of fake news.

Independent Fact Checkers?

For fact checkers to have any credibility they need to be scrupulously unbiased, thoroughly independent and as objective as possible. Any evidence that they are not means they are not fact checkers at all but rather political organizations that offer an opinion. If they are paid by people or groups with clear agendas then they have no credibility and everything they say needs to be treated with caution. We would still need to exercise due diligence and examine the evidence ourselves to establish if the fact checkers opinions are indeed facts.

When the UK Government Foreign and Commonwealth Office established the Open Information Partnership (the Expose Network) they suggested their network of actors use approved fact checking services, such as Full Fact in the UK, who are members of Poynter’s International Fact Checking Network (IFCN). Poynter’s major funders include the Charles Koch Foundation, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the Omidyar Network (Luminate), Google and the Open Society Foundation.

Therefore it is a fact that the IFCN, the “official” trade organisation for “approved” fact checkers, is funded by, among others, the multinational corporation Koch Industries, the C.I.A (NED), globalist venture capitalists (Omidyar), aggressive internet monopolists (Google) and globalist currency speculator & social change agent George Soros (Open Society). Nearly all of the fact checking signatories to the IFCN code have similar agenda driven backers. Members include Politifact, Full Fact, StopFake and AP Fact Check, to name but a few.

Full Fact, for example, list their corporate members to include the City of London Corporation (the UK financial sector and a global center for international finance), the global corporate law firm King & Wood Malleson, St Jame’s Place Wealth Management (a huge global capital investment firm), and the defence contractor Rolls Royce. Their funding partners include Google, The Omidyar Network and the Open Society foundation. They even wrote a policy proposal paper called “Tackling Misinformation In an Open Society.”

Full Fact’s trustees include former BBC Director of News and Current Affairs James Harding. James was responsible for one of the most egregious pieces of fake news war propaganda in modern history when he oversaw production of the BBC’s fake documentary Saving Syria’s Children.

BBC Fake Documentary To Promote War

Chair of the board of trustees is Conservative Party donor Michael Samuel and he is joined by fellow Conservative Lord Inglewood and Labour Peer Baroness Royal. The political establishment is well represented when it comes to making sure we have the right facts.

Another Full Fact trustee is Lord Sharkey Liberal Democrat Peer and former strategic adviser to once UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. Clegg joined Facebook in October 2018 to become Facebook Head of Global Affairs. In January 2019 Full Fact became approved third party fact checkers for Facebook and in September 2019 Nick announced that Facebook won’t “fact check” politicians in the same way that it fact checks the general public. Speaking of Facebook’s approach to the political class Clegg said:

“From now on we will treat speech from politicians as newsworthy content that should, as a general rule, be seen and heard.” 

Obviously this carte blanche doesn’t extend to the general public. Presumably because we are all disinformation agents.

Another Full Fact trustee Tim Gordon was also an advisor to Nick Clegg. He co founded Best Practice AI which was the first UK AI firm invited to join the World Economic Forum’s Global AI Council (GAIC). The GAIC bring together representatives from tech giants including Microsoft , IBM and Google’s Chinese division with British government ministers, such as former Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Jeremy Wright, who attending their council meeting in 2019.

GAIC is one of six WEF global councils focused upon technology and the fourth industrial revolution. Their stated purpose is:

“… to provide policy guidance and address governance gaps.”

So as Full Fact rolls out automated AI fact checking, fully funded by regular WEF attendees Pierre Omidyar and George Soros, with the full support of GAIC members Google, it is good to know these projects are rooted firmly in Full Fact’s independence. As they only report the facts they state on their website:

“Full Fact fights bad information. We’re a team of independent fact checkers and campaigners who find, expose and counter the harm it does.”

“Bad information” is information that questions government policy agendas and harms globalist interests. These interests are defined for government by global institutions like the World Economic forum, where government ministers attend to get their orders. Independent, in Full Fact speak, must mean “employed by global corporations and oligarchs.”

The extensive political, intelligence, non governmental and globalist network steering Full Fact is by no means unique to them. A cursory glance at the supporters of the other fact checking signatories to the IFCN reveal a similar web of globalist and corporate interests in practically every case. The IFCN, and its members, are paid by people with overt political, financial and social agendas. Independence is non existent and consequently the fact checkers claims of objectivity need to be treated accordingly. They have no credibility at all.

Not Fact Checking

Get Your Facts Straight

If fact checkers check facts then you would at least expect them to report the evidence accurately. However, all too often, they don’t. For example, AP Fact Check are IFCN members who report that World Trade Center Building 7 (WTC7) collapsed on September 11th 2001 as a result of fires. This “fact” was first reported by AP Fact Check on 13/06/2017 and remains as their statement of fact today (28/02/2020.)

The engineering department of the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) undertook a 4 year long study into the collapse of WTC7. The UAF report is currently open to peer review and cites the evidence it is based upon. It was published in draft form in mid September 2019 and the findings were officially announced at the same time. It categorically states:

“… fire did not cause the collapse of WTC 7 on 9/11, contrary to the conclusions of NIST and private engineering firms that studied the collapse.”

The UAF study represents the most thorough, up to date, scientific analysis of the collapse of WTC7. Incomplete peer review of the UAF report is no reason for AP Fact Check to ignore it. The NIST report, the sole source for the fire collapse theory, has never been peer reviewed. Anyone using AP Fact Check to check the facts about the collapse of WTC7 would be wrong if they believed AP Fact Check. AP Fact Check haven’t got their facts straight.

This is a common problem with so called fact checkers. Due to the political nature of their role, all too often they stray into opinion rather than fact. There’s nothing wrong with that except the fact checkers falsely claim their opinions are facts not opinions. What’s worse is that the Internet is being policed and information censored on the basis that the fact checkers opinions are facts.

In January this year the HighWire released a video which contrasted clips of Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist for the World Health Organisation (W.H.O). The Video was titled “W.H.O. Chief Scientist Caught Lying To The Public.” Their was no commentary in the Highwire video, viewers were simply presented with the two clips of Dr. Swaminathan. It was left to the viewers discretion to decide if they believed Dr. Swaminathan was, in fact, lying.

In the first clip, from an official W.H.O. vaccine promotional video, Dr. Swaminathan states:

“We have vaccine safety systems. Robust vaccine safety systems … [The] WHO works closely with countries to make sure that vaccines can do what they do best: prevent disease without risks.”

The second clip records Dr. Swaminathan’s address to the U.N. Global Vaccine Safety Summit in 2019. She informs the summit:

“… We really don’t have very good safety monitoring systems in many countries…..we’re not able to give clear-cut answers when people ask questions about the deaths that have occurred due to a particular vaccine… One should be able to give a very factual account of what exactly has happened and what the cause of deaths are, but in most cases, there is some obfuscation at that level.”

Creating Truth Policy

These two mutually exclusive statements cannot both be true. If one is, the other is a lie. Vaccines cannot both “prevent disease without risks” while “deaths….have occurred due to a particular vaccine.”  The intention to deceive is an evident fact. Yet Facebook’s automated fact checking labeling system flagged the video as PARTLY FALSE and directed users to two articles from two credible sources which both presented specious, illogical arguments to discredit the factually accurate HighWire video.

In September 2019 climatologists and environmental experts protested to Facebook after its fact checkers labelled the article “The Great Failure of the Climate Models” as ‘FALSE.’ The article was blocked and users could not share it. The information in the article was censored. The article was based upon the work of scientists and statisticians and was factually accurate. Facebook not only labelled the article FALSE they directed readers to a dubious, poorly evidenced source, calling that “credible.”

Facebook removed the FALSE label shortly after receiving the protest letter, without explanation or apology. They clearly accepted their fact checking wasn’t checking any facts at all, simply censoring factually accurate information. However, in the fast paced modern information environment, the damage was done, and the political objective achieved.

This is not fact checking. This is political opinion masquerading as fact checking, deceiving the public into believing something is factually accurate (or inaccurate) when, in fact, it isn’t.

Poynter and the IFCN also confuse their opinion with fact. In May 2019 Poynter were forced to issue an apology, of sorts, to a number of media organisations after they issued an index of ‘unreliable’ media sources. When some of the listed organisations inquired about the basis for Poynter’s unfounded accusations, requesting Poynter and the IFCN provide some evidence to back up their claims, Poynter quickly removed the suggested “blacklist.”

Poynter’s IFCN make a great deal out of their fact checking principles so it’s a shame they didn’t apply any when they issued their blacklist. Poynter’s managing editor, Barbara Allen, said the purpose of the blacklist was as follows:

“… to provide a useful tool for readers to gauge the legitimacy of the information they were consuming… We began an audit to test the accuracy and veracity of the list, and while we feel that many of the sites did have a track record of publishing unreliable information, our review found weaknesses in the methodology. We detected inconsistencies between the findings of the original databases that were the sources for the list and our own rendering of the final report.”

This was tantamount to the IFCN admitting they chose who to put on their blacklist based upon their feelings. When we look at who funds the IFCN it’s pretty clear who those feelings lean towards.

When requested to evidence their decision the IFCN, guardians of the fact checking industry, couldn’t provide any. They had no relevant information, had no evidence to back up their opinion and were simply stating something as a fact when it was nothing of the sort.

Just because an organisation claims they are a fact checker it doesn’t mean they check facts. They are essentially establishment stooges whose role it is to police information and make sure the wider public doesn’t have access to any evidence that challenges official narratives and policy decisions. These fallible groups of people, no better informed than anyone else, are being used by the internet giants, at the behest of government, to censor what we can say online.

Let’s ignore the establishment’s fact checkers and hang on to our critical thinking skills for a while. It looks like we are going to need them more than ever.

July 8, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | 1 Comment

George Floyd protest is ‘for the benefit’ of ‘democratic struggles’ abroad, says US group known for promoting regime change

RT | June 6, 2020

The National Endowment for Democracy, a soft-power group mostly known for splashing government dollars on pro-US influence campaigns overseas to enforce regime change, has endorsed protests against police brutality at home.

In a statement on Friday, the NED came out in support of the protests against the police killing of unarmed black man George Floyd, which, while originally peaceful, spiralled into violence, wrecking havoc across dozens of US cities. The group, which styles itself as a “private and nonprofit foundation dedicated to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world” but is notorious for being used as a vehicle of US foreign policy abroad, said that it hopes that the movement for racial justice in the US will inspire other “brave people” to challenge the status quo all around the globe.

“Such a movement is needed not just for the sake of our own country, but for the benefit of brave people on the frontlines of democratic struggles around the world.”

In its emphatic endorsement of the ongoing protests, marred by looting, arson and numerous instances of violence, the group equated its doing of Washington’s bidding abroad with the civil rights movement that brought the system of legal segregation in the US to its formal end, arguing that the NED’s mission is “based on the same values of freedom and human equality.”

In a not so thinly-veiled innuendo, the group, which is sponsored by the US Congress and is backed by both Republican and Democratic parties, expressed hope that the events in the US could ignite similar movements elsewhere.

“May the present crisis lead to the realization of the ideals that animate our democracy, and may this give hope to those in other countries who share our commitment to freedom and human dignity.”

The NED, founded in 1983, has courted controversy for using its US government allocated resources for encouraging regime change in countries that refuse to toe Washington’s line, like  Russia and China. The group, along with other US-based “NGOs” supported the 2004 Orange Revolution in Ukraine and later funneled millions of freedom dollars to the country ahead of the 2014 anti-Russian coup that brought down Ukraine’s former President Viktor Yanukovych.

In 2015, Moscow designated the NED’s activities as “undesirable” after it was found to have sponsored political campaigns aimed at influencing the Russian government’s decisions, including discrediting the nation’s military forces and the results of elections.

The outlet has also been caught red-handed stirring anti-Beijing sentiment  in Hong Kong, drawing fire from the Chinese government. In December 2019, Beijing sanctioned the NED along with several other US-affiliated organizations, accusing them of  “horrible activities in the months-long turmoil in the city.”

“[There is] a great amount of evidence proving that these NGOs have supported anti-China forces to create chaos in Hong Kong, and made utmost efforts to encourage these forces to engage in extreme violent criminal acts,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said at the time.

June 5, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Progressive Hypocrite | , | Leave a comment