Archive | June 6th, 2018

Italy, Behind the Parade. Italy’s Active Involvement in US-NATO led Wars ‘Video’ 

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The event on June 2nd (the day in 1946 when Italy became a Republic) was not a military parade, not even a parade, but a “review”, according to the Ministry of Defense that directed it (Minister Pinotti’s final act).

The parade at the Fori Imperiali – in front of the newly-installed government – was symbolically opened by 330 mayors representing civil society, followed by all the sectors of the Armed Forces, to celebrate “Italians’ Day – United for the Country”.

In his message, President of the Republic Mattarella expressed the gratitude of the Italian people to the Armed Forces for “the precious work they carry out in many troubled regions of the world to assist the populations who suffer from armed conflict”, a work based on “our Constitutional Charter, architrave of the Institutions and fundamental benchmark for all”.

As the military units paraded, the announcers listed the military missions in which Italian armed forces are engaged in over 20 countries: from Kosovo to Iraq and Afghanistan, from Lebanon to Libya and Latvia, from Somalia to Djibouti and Niger. In other words, they listed the wars and other military operations in which Italy has participated and is still participating, in violation of its own Constitution, in the framework of the USA/NATO’s aggressive expansionist strategy.

The number of military operations abroad in which Italy is engaged is constantly increasing. On June 5, on behalf of NATO, Italian Eurofighter Typhoon fighter-bombers began, together with units of the Greek airforce, to “protect” the airspace of Montenegro, the latest member of the Alliance. Italian fighter-bombers already “protect” the skies of Slovenia, Albania and Estonia from the “Russian threat”.

Italian warships are preparing to sail to the Pacific, where they will participate in RIMPAC 2018, the largest naval exercise in the world. The military navies of 27 countries will be taking part in the exercise, under US command, directed against China (accused by the US of “expansion and coercion” in the South Chinese Sea).

Italian special forces participated in Niger in an exercise run by United States Africa Command, sponsored by the European Union, in which about 1,900 soldiers from 20 African countries were trained.

In Niger, where the US is building a large base in Agadez for armed drones and special forces, Italy is preparing to build a base that will initially host 470 soldiers, 130 military vehicles and 2 aircraft. The official purpose of the operation, hampered by opposition within the Nigerian government, is to help Niger and its neighbors to fight terrorism. The real purpose is to participate, in the wake of France and the United States, in the military control of a region rich in raw materials – gold, diamonds, uranium, coltan, oil and many others – of which not even crumbs go to the population, who mostly exist in a state of extreme poverty. As a result, social tension is growing, and consequently, also the migratory flow towards Europe.

The new government intends to “re-evaluate our presence in international missions in terms of their effective importance for the national interest”. To do so, however, it is necessary to determine what the national interest is. That is, whether Italy should remain within the war system dominated by the US and by the major European powers, or should decide to be a sovereign and neutral country based on the principles of its Constitution.

Internal policy and foreign policy are two sides of the same coin: there can not be real freedom at home if Italy, subverting Article 11, uses war as an instrument of offense to the freedom of other peoples.

Source: PandoraTV

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Saudi Effort to Isolate Iran Internationally

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Saudi efforts to isolate Iran internationally are producing results in North Africa and Central Asia. Authorities and religious leaders in Tajikistan and Algeria have in recent weeks accused Iran of subversive activity and propagating Shiism while Morocco last month announced that it was breaking off diplomatic relations with the Islamic republic.

While similar accusations have been lobbed at Iran in the past as part of a four-decade-long covert war between Saudi Arabia and the Islamic republic, the more recent incidents suggest that the Saudis are increasingly focussing on isolating Iran diplomatically.

In doing so they are benefitting from ultra-conservative Sunni Muslim Islam’s appeal in North Africa and Central Asia even if Saudi Arabia is believed to have substantially reduced its financial support for Salafi and other groups.

At times, like in the case of Algeria, a country in which Shiites account for at most two percent of the population and that has seen an increase in popularity of Saudi-inspired Salafi scholars, the allegations seem to involve above board Iranian activities that are unlikely to have the alleged effect of fomenting sectarianism.

The anti-Iranian campaign at times also appears to be designed to pressure countries like Algeria, whose relations with the kingdom are strained because of its refusal to adopt anti-Iranian Saudi policies. Algeria supports the embattled 2015 international nuclear agreement with Iran as well as Iran’s presence in Syria and has refused to declare Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese militia, a terrorist organization.

In the most recent incident, Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat, a pan-Arab, Saudi-owned newspaper, quoted, former Algerian Ministry of Religious Affairs and Endowments official Idah Falahi as demanding the withdrawal of Iranian diplomat Amir Mousavi because of his “extensive contacts with civil society groups, through Facebook and social media” and alleged attempts to meddle in the dispute between Morocco and Algeria over the Western Sahara.

Morocco last month broke off diplomatic relations with Iran, alleging that Tehran had provided financial and logistical support as well as surface-to-air missiles to the Algerian-backed West Saharan liberation movement, Frente Polisario, using Hezbollah as an intermediary. Both Iran and Hezbollah have denied the allegation.

“It…became apparent that Mousavi was in fact an Iranian intelligence agent, whose remit was to interfere in the dispute between Algeria and Morocco over the Western Sahara conflict,” said Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat columnist Tony Duheaume.

The newspaper reported that Iran was seeking to recruit Algerian Shiites who travel to the holy city of Karbala in Iraq and was using Iranian companies as vehicles to promote Shiism.

“With the launching of a production line for Iranian vehicles, plus another for the production of medicines, and with the two countries boosting their cooperation enormously in the private sector, Iran has ensnared Algeria through an ongoing succession of trade deals,” Mr. Duheaume said.

The newspaper quoted Algerian member of parliament Abdurrahman Saidi as charging that Iran was attempting to create a Shiite movement in North Africa.

“The Algerian state is aware today that it faces the risk of sectarianism,” the newspaper asserted.

Algerian minister of endowment and religious affairs Muhammad Issa last year compared Iran to the Islamic State in an interview with a Saudi newspaper amid a growing anti-Iranian sentiment in Algeria.

An international book fair in Algeria banned Iranian books because they “incite sectarianism and violence” after Bou Abdullah Ghulamallah, the head of Algeria’s High Islamic Council, charged that “thousands of imported books carry dangerous thoughts that are aimed at convincing the Algerian people that their Islamic religion is wrong.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani cancelled a visit to Algeria after an Arabic-language hashtag, #No to Rouhani’s visit to Algeria, went viral.

“It is difficult to corroborate allegations made in the Asharq al-Awsat report. It is also unlikely that Tehran would be able to significantly expand its influence in Algeria through the Shiite community,” said Ahmad Majidyar, the director of the Washington-based Middle East Institute’s IranObserved Project.

Its equally difficult to verify a link between Saudi-inspired Salafism’s increased popularity and rising anti-Iranian sentiment, but the development of anti-Shiite sentiment is not dissimilar to growing intolerance, anti-Iranian sentiment and anti-Shiism in countries like Tajikistan, Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia where the influence of Saudi-inspired religious ultra-conservatism is expanding.

Developments in Tajikistan, ironically a nation that has linguistic and cultural links to Iran, mirror the growing anti-Iranian sentiment in Algeria. Tajikistan’s Council of Ulema or Islamic scholars, this month accused Iran of trying to destabilize the country. The council charged that Iran was funding Muhiddin Kabiri, head of the opposition Islamic Renaissance Party (IRP), that has been designated a terrorist organization by the government.

The council’s statement came days after anti-Iranian demonstrators in front of the Iranian embassy in Dushanbe demanded the return of Tajik religious students from Iran and accused the Islamic republic of supporting extremists and planning assassinations.

Iran has in recent years suspended charitable operations in the capital Dushanbe, including a hospital managed with Tajik health authorities, and halted its economic and cultural activities in Khujand, Tajikistan’s second largest city, on orders of the government.

“Nowhere is this contrast between the hyped-up Iranian threat and reality more evident than in Tajikistan,” said Eldar Mamedov, who is in charge of the European Parliament’s delegations for inter-parliamentary relations with Iran, Iraq, the Gulf, and North Africa.

Iran helped negotiate an end to Tajikistan’s civil war and an agreement between President Emomali Rahmon, a former Soviet Communist Party official, and the IRP. Mr. Rahmon, determined to demolish any opposition, banned the IRP in 2015.

The stirring of the anti-Iranian pot coincided with a Saudi effort to woo Mr. Rahmon who was invited last year to an Arab-Islamic summit in Riyadh with Donald J. Trump during the US president’s visit to the kingdom despite the fact that he is a bit player on the global stage. Tajikistan was earlier invited to join a Saudi-led Muslim counter terrorism force.

Like in Algeria, it also coincided with rising popularity of Saudi-inspired ultra-conservatism in Tajikistan.

In a move that garners favour in Riyadh, Tajikistan has opposed Iran’s application for membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) that requires approval of membership by unanimous vote. Iran has observer status with the SCO, while Saudi Arabia has yet to establish a relationship.

By stirring the pot, Mr. Rahmon has a vehicle to maintain his iron grip at home and garner investment and financial support from the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia agreed last month to acquire a 51 percent stake, in troubled Tojiksodirotbank (TSB), Tajikistan’s largest bank. The Saudi investment was a life saver after other investors, including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), turned the opportunity down.

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Featured image is from the author.

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Syrian Army Carries Out Anti-ISIS Operation in Eastern Al-Suwayda ‘Video’

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Syrian government forces have launched a military operation against ISIS cells in eastern al-Suwayda and have already established control of the village of Ashrfya and the area of Beir Aura. Battle tanks, artillery units and warplanes actively supported the advance.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), 15 soldiers and officers of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and 9 ISIS members were killed in the clashes. However, this number of casualties allegedly includes results of the SAA-ISIS clashes near the T2 pumping station near the border with Iraq.

A source in the 9th Division of the SAA told SouthFront that ISIS members in eastern al-Suwayda are poorly armed. So, no serious ISIS resistance is expected there.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) captured the villages of al-Murjan, Kulib Tahtani, al-Khuirah and seven farms north of the town of Dashisha near the Syrian-Iraqi border.

According to the SDF, its fighters had killed 42 members and 2 commanders of ISIS during their advance towards Dashisha.

The Syrian Liberation Front (SLF) and several Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups, including Jaysh al-Izza, Jaysh al-Ahrar and the Suqour al-Sham Brigades, are planning to merge their forces in order to form a unified group in the province of Idlib. The SLF was established in February after a merger of Ahrar al-Sham and Nour al-Din al-Zenki.

In late May, 11 other FSA groups created the Turkish-backed National Front for Liberation. Idlib militant groups are uniting larger groups in order to strengthen their position ahead of the expected developments after the SAA finishes dealing with militants in southern Syria.

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The Malfeasance of the US Military. Fallible and Negligent Men Armed to the Teeth with Missiles and Nuclear Bombs

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In 2015, ninety-two American missile officers were suspended because they had been cheating, taking drugs, or sleeping in the missile silos. These men are employed to guard and to operate 150 nuclear missiles at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming which constitutes one-third of the 400 Minuteman 3 missiles that stand “on hair trigger alert” 24 hours a day in silos which are scattered across the northern Great Plains.

Two officers aged between 22 and 27 are in charge of each missile silo, and each man is armed with a pistol to shoot the other if one shows signs of deviant behaviour.

The missile silos are equipped with antiquated equipment including floppy disks and telephones that often don’t work. Each Minuteman 3 missile contains three hydrogen bombs, almost 50 times the explosive power of the Hiroshima bomb. The officers in charge of these deadly weapons are clearly expected to follow strict behavioural standards at all times.

During the investigation, fourteen airmen had allegedly been using cocaine. Other drugs involved were ecstasy, cocaine, LSD and  marijuana.  All in all roughly one hundred officers were involved in the cheating scandal in 2015 and 2016.

Airman 1st Class Nickolos A. Harris, said to be the leader of the drug ring, testified that he had no trouble obtaining  LSD and other drugs from civilian sources and he pleaded guilty to using and distributing LSD plus ecstasy, cocaine and marijuana.

A side note – because LSD had showed up so infrequently in drug tests across the military, in December 2006 the Pentagon eliminated LSD screening from standard drug-testing procedures.

In more episodes of gross malfeasance, 2013 Vice Admiral Timothy Giardina, the head of the U.S. Strategic Command, was sacked for illegal gambling while Major General Michael Carey, a man in charge of all of the 450 intercontinental ballistic missile silos, was dismissed after a visit to Moscow when he became inebriated and insisted on singing in Russian night clubs, while cavorting with inappropriate women.

Considering all of these facts among many others, it is amazing to me that we are still here having not been incinerated in a global nuclear holocaust. Suffice it to say, we are in the hands of fallible men armed to the teeth with missiles and hydrogen bombs.

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The US Government Survey on ‘Precarious’ Jobs

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The US Government’s Labor Department today, June 7, 2018, released a report on the condition of what’s called ‘precarious’ jobs in the US. The meaning of precarious is generally assumed to be contingent labor, alternative work arrangements, and, most recently, ‘gig’ work.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ survey concluded, however, that contingent-alternative work is not a serious problem in the US today; that its survey showed that only 3.8% of the US work force (5.9 million workers) were ‘contingent’ (meaning they didn’t have a permanent relationship of work with their employers). And only another 9.5% were in what’s called ‘alternative work’ arrangements, meaning independent contractors, on-call, or temp help agency employment (about 15.5 million). The BLS then further concluded these numbers showed a decline compared to its previous 2005 report on the topic. (There was no ‘gig’ work in 2005 and the BLS excluded ‘gig’ jobs from its just released report). So only 13-14% of the 165 million US work force were contingent-alternative (e.g. precarious) according to its (BLS) worst case estimate.

What follows is my initial criticism of the BLS supplement report just released today. My comments are in the form of a reply to a noted progressive radio show–blogger, Doug Henwood, who distributed his view on the Report earlier today as well. Doug basically agrees with the BLS report, that it shows precarious work is not a problem. To consider it is so is a distraction, according to Henwood, from the problems faced by the vast majority of US workers still in traditional forms of work.

In my comments below, I disagree with Henwood, and argue the BLS report represents a ‘low-balling’ of the problem of precarious work arrangements (contingent, alternative, gig) that is a consequence of a radical restructuring of labor markets in the US in recent decades–i.e. a restructuring that is destroying jobs, wages, benefits, and working conditions in general. The expansion and deepening of precarious employment is a serious symptom of that restructuring. Moreover, it reflects an intensification of exploitation of workers now accelerating–in both precarious and traditional work.

Here’s my comment-reply to Henwood:

“While I rarely comment on other blogs, I feel it is necessary to do so to Doug’s current commentary on the BLS contingent-alternative survey just released.

I certainly agree with Doug that US workers who are not employed in what’s called ‘precarious’ jobs are being exploited increasingly severely. But that fact is not a justification for arguing that addressing those in precarious employment is a distraction from the conditions of those still in traditional work, as Doug seems to suggest.

Nor do I think that just because the latest BLS supplement survey is not that different from the previously most recent 2005 survey, that it shows contingent-alternative work–which is almost always accompanied by lower pay, benefits, and working conditions–is not a critical issue. If non-contingent labor is being screwed more with every passing year, then contingent is being even more screwed. If American workers are being increasingly exploited (meaning wages stagnating, benefits being taken away or their costs shifting, employment security becoming even more tenuous, etc.) then workers in precarious jobs are super-exploited (wages even lower, benefits virtually non-existent for many, fired at any moment for any reason, exemption from rudimentary legal rights, etc.)

There are serious problems with the BLS supplement survey on contingency to which Henwood refers. One should not simply take the BLS ‘at face value’. What’s behind that ‘appearance’ is important. That’s not to say there’s a conspiracy by government to cook the numbers to reduce the magnitude of the precarious jobs growth problem. It’s all in the definitions, assumptions (overt and hidden), and statistical methodologies that underlay the BLS report.

First of all, the gig economy is excluded by the BLS own admittance (see the BLS Technical note on their website). No Uber, Lyft, Taskrabbit, AirBNB, etc. jobs are included in the BLS survey. They may add it later, but not in these numbers. So we’re talking about contingency and alternative work only. So what’s the definition of these terms, and is the BLS’s the best definition?

Moreover, according to the BLS study, all jobs (whether gig or contingent or alternative) that are second jobs are excluded. Only if the contingent-alternative jobs are the worker’s primary job are they included in the tally. But shouldn’t the BLS be estimating ‘jobs’ that are contingent-alternative, etc., whether primary or secondary, and not just if primary employment only?

Here’s another problem: Contingency refers to a condition that is not permanent in some way. The BLS defines lack of permanency by referring to time–i.e. hours of work and conditions of employment a year or less. A worker is contingent-alternative only if he expects to be employed less than a year. What about those who have been temp or on call or whatever for more than a year? But why the BLS definition based on a time limit? Shouldn’t contingency refer to the existence of a different set of conditions of work–i.e. a different wage structure, a second tiered benefits provisioning, restricted legal rights, other working conditions, or whatever may create a group of workers’ relationship to the employer that is second tier or ‘second class’? Why just time as the key definition; why not working conditions as the basis for defining contingent?

Given the BLS’s actual assumptions and definitions, there are significant problems in what the BLS includes and excludes. Here’s just a few:

First, BLS defines ‘temp’ workers as those employed by Temp Agencies. But there are hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, who are hired direct by employers on a temp basis, not through agencies. The CPS has always ignored temps direct hired. Check out the auto industry where their numbers have been expanding for years.

What about public workers and higher ed teachers? I could not find any verification in the BLS study that they interviewed this sector? Many studies show that 70% of higher ed college teachers are now lecturers. (CHeck out the SEIU study). I suspect they aren’t adequately weighted in the BLS survey if at all. What about, as well, public home health workers, and the growing number of K-12 part timers, especially in charter schools.

And what about the company practice of hiring interns without pay for 3 to 6 months, then let them go and hire another cohort without pay. That’s a growing practice in tech. Aren’t they ‘super-contingent’? One could add the general practice in Tech of requiring skilled tech job candidates to solve a company problem, for which they aren’t paid, and then not hire them. Or the exploitation of young workers in so-called ‘coding academies’, where they do projects for companies in the hope of being hired, and then aren’t.

Another big problem with the BLS survey is it was conducted in May. That’s a big seasonality problem. Other studies. that Doug dismisses, were conducted in October-November. Obviously there would be far more ‘contingent’ workers in retail, wholesale, warehousing, etc. that would show up in November than in May. Remember, BLS findings are ‘statistics’, not raw data. They aren’t actual real numbers but estimates of real numbers (as is all BLS data). Seasonality issues are an important problem in the latest BLS survey.

And what about farm labor. They are certainly contingent. Many are undocumented and are not accurately surveyed (their numbers are plugged in based on assumptions about their numbers and employment). The same could be said for the huge underground economy in the US, now at least 12% of US GDP. Millions of inner city youth are not accurately weighted in CPS surveys in general. The CPS does a phone survey. That survey is biased toward workers who are not transient, who have a landline phone (and only most recently has the BLS been adding cell phones to that phone survey). Inner city youth and undocumented workers do not respond to government phone surveys, if they are even called upon in the first place. These are problems with the BLS-CPS general employment and wage surveys, which they ‘resolve’ by simply assuming an adjustment factor.

The BLS admits it excludes day labor. Does that mean also that the majority of longshore ‘B Men’, casual workers (who fit the BLS definition of contingent) are also not included? And why shouldn’t students working also be considered contingent? It fits the BLS definition. Why exclude that arbitrarily?

In short, there’s a lot of problems with the BLS survey, that in general results in a low balling of the magnitude and growth rate of contingent-alternative work. That low balling is baked into the definitions, assumptions, and methodologies it uses. (And of course the many important occupation categories it excludes). The truth is probably somewhere between the Princeton academics’ and freelancers’ union estimates, and the BLS study. But whatever the numbers, it makes no sense to say that precarious employment is not a growing problem in the US (and elsewhere in the advanced economies). Or that we should ignore it and focus on the ‘real problem’ with noncontingent work. They’re both a problem. We should not ignore the growing exploitation and destruction of noncontingent work; nor should we fall in line with government estimates of the precariate world by simply taking their (BLS) report at ‘face value’.

It’s no service to the US working classes, that have been beaten down in countless ways for more than three decades now, to say that the accelerating capitalist restructuring of labor markets creating gig, contingent, and alternative work (with less pay and benefits) is not a problem. The US government is minimizing the problem. Those who call themselves progressives should not join in.”

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Facebook Security Officer: Not All Speech Is “Created Equal”

Alex Stamos, Facebook’s chief security officer, presented an overview of the Orwellian censorship regime implemented by the world’s largest social media company last week at an annual military conference in Tallinn, Estonia.

Speaking before an audience of generals, intelligence agents and US-aligned Eastern European politicians, Stamos warned that millions of “people who feel they have been ignored or oppressed” are using Facebook to “push for radical politics.”

The speech was an account of how the company is partnering with the US and other governments throughout the world to control public discourse online, with the primary but unstated aim of suppressing access to left-wing, anti-war and socialist viewpoints.

Stamos was speaking at CyCon, a conference sponsored by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on cyberwar and psychological operations. The very presence of a social media company at such an event, just a few hundred miles from NATO’s heavily-militarized border with Russia, makes clear the extent to which the US technology giants have been integrated into the US military-intelligence apparatus and its international operations.

Stamos began by pointing to a map of the social connections facilitated by Facebook.

“As the people who have drawn those lines, and given folks the ability to make those connections,” Stamos said, Facebook has the “responsibility to understand and to mitigate” the risks that its platform might be “used for bad,” which he called an attack “against the ideals of Facebook.”

First, Stamos said Facebook is seeking to combat “fake news” through “changes in the news feed that surface this content to people.”

But instead of seeking to determine if a piece of news is “fake,” Facebook is carrying out mass profiling of news sources by “Look[ing] to metadata around the people who have created the account, the news site that’s running it,” to evaluate whether it is “trustworthy.” Through this Orwellian censorship regime, Facebook segregates news organizations into categories and determines how many people are able to view their postings on that basis.

In other words, the company’s evaluation of whether a piece of news is “fake” is determined not by whether it is accurate, factually grounded or verifiable, but rather by who posts it. The logical implication is that if one of Facebook’s “partners” in the establishment media posts a story, no matter how inaccurate, biased, or poorly sourced, the company will still promote it as “trustworthy.”

Facebook’s policy on “fake news,” in other words, is political blacklisting.

In order to block “foreign influence operators,” Stamos said, Facebook is carrying out “manual investigations of organized groups,” and it is using machine learning to find “bad actors” at “scale” across its billions of users.

However, he added,

“The biggest growth category of information operations that we’re going to see over the next couple of years is domestic influence operations”—that is, political organizations who are seeking to “influence” politics in their own countries.

Facebook is targeting groups of “people who feel they have been ignored or oppressed,” whose “goal” is to “push for radical politics,” he said. These groups, he noted, can be “quite large.” As an example, Stamos mentioned Anonymous, a “hacktivist” group that supported the Occupy Wall Street protests against social inequality and was associated with support for the online journalism group WikiLeaks.

Alex Stamos speaking at CyCon

Numerically, however, the largest target of Facebook’s censorship measures consists of “individual participants,” who are often motivated by “legitimately held beliefs” to become “partners in information operations.” That is, millions of people who are not part of any organized political group, but who voice their agreement with the political views promoted by groups targeted by Facebook by sharing their content or voicing their support.

A “domestic operator,” he said, can have “thousands and thousands of people who believe in your cause.” The effect of “these people should not be understated,” he said.

To stifle the political statements of the broader public is open political censorship. For that reason, Facebook must be careful not to appear to stifle public discourse, but to block the “effectiveness” of the public in participating in “organized campaign[s].”

Stamos stated,

“Our response here has to be very, very careful because part of free expression means that sometimes people are going to say stuff you don’t agree with, right? Part of freedom is the freedom for people individually to be wrong, and we have to allow people to be wrong and to say things that while they don’t fall afoul of our hate speech standards or standards meant to ensure safety, but that are considered inappropriate, those are the kinds of things that open societies have to accept. But we do want to implement product enhancements to make sure that we are reducing the effectiveness of these people to be part of, unwittingly part of, an organized campaign.”

These “product enhancements” include redirecting users to content that Facebook approves of and providing “educational cues” informing them that their views are “disputed.”

Under American law, Facebook is regulated like a communications utility, similar to a phone company or a package delivery service. It has neither the “responsibility” nor the right to impose its “ideals” onto its users.

In the company’s view, however, the fact that it acts as a communications platform gives it the paternalistic obligation to police what its users say and block their speech if the company disagrees with it.

The social content of these “ideals” is made clear by the military-intelligence audience Stamos was speaking before. Over the course of the past two years, Facebook has come under relentless pressure from the US government to serve as an agent of the state intelligence forces to censor and suppress oppositional views on its platform. Leading advocates of censorship, including Democratic Senator Mark Warner and Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, have made clear that the company will face intense regulatory and public pressure if it does not comply with their demands to stifle political opposition online.

In so doing, Facebook is acting as an agent of the American state, doing its dirty work to subvert the public’s constitutionally-protected freedoms of speech and assembly.

In perhaps his most ominous statement, Stamos concluded by calling for broader social changes in line with the measures Facebook has already taken. “Our societies overall are going to have to start to adapt to the idea that not all information is created equal,” he concluded. His conclusion harkens to the motto of the pigs in George Orwell’s Animal Farm:

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

With the vast majority of written communication taking place online, Facebook’s actions, together with other technology companies, constitute the largest, most comprehensive regime of censorship in human history. Outside of and in contradiction to fundamental constitutional and human rights, Facebook claims the right to determine what hundreds of billions of people read and say.

The World Socialist Web Site is fighting to expose the effort by Facebook, Google and other technology giants to censor the internet, which is the spearhead of a drive to dismantle the freedoms of association and expression across the world. We urge all of those who want to take up this struggle to contact us.

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How the War Industry Corrupts the U.S. Congress

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How can we, the public, make our voices heard by a Congress corrupted by war profiteers, when the war industry can buy a bipartisan majority for war and militarism in the U.S. Senate with such a tiny fraction of its profits?

 

Former President Jimmy Carter has called U.S. politics a system of“legalized bribery” in which powerful interests spend billions of dollars on lobbying and campaign funding to ensure that members of Congress pay more attention to them than to the general public. With the upcoming midterm elections, we will see the full force of this tsunami of cash washing over our electoral system.

The human cost of this corrupt system has been searingly rammed home since the Parkland school shooting, as grieving high school students determined to curb America’s gun violence have found themselves in a pitched battle with the “gun lobby,” led by the National Rifle Association (NRA), one of the most entrenched and powerful interest groups in the country.

The gun lobby has already spent over $12 million on lobbying and given at least $1.1 million to members of Congress in this election cycle, 98% of it to Republicans.  The gun lobby also wields power over Democrats through lobbying and public relations, and the threat of targeting individual Democrats who take a public stand for gun control.

But what about the even greater violence of America’s wars and the record military budget that makes them possible?  U.S. weapons makers spend far more money on lobbying and campaign contributions than the domestic gun lobby: $162 million on lobbying and tens of millions in direct funding for members of Congress so far in the 2017-18 election cycle.

There is a strong correlation between campaign contributions from the companies that build America’s warships, tanks and warplanes, and critical votes in Congress to keep the guns firing, the missiles flying, the bombs falling and the cash flowing to the military-industrial complex.

When an evenly-divided Senate voted to confirm Gina Haspel as CIA Director, six Democrats joined 48 Republicans to vote for her confirmation.  But it was not just any six Democrats. In the 2018 election cycle, those six – Senators Nelson (FL)Donnelly (IN)Manchin (WV), Heitkamp (NDShaheen (NH)and Warner (VA)– have received an average of $170,220 each in campaign cash from the war industry, while the 43 Democrats who voted against Haspel took in an average of only $91,409 each.

Four of the Haspel Six (Nelson, Donnelly, Manchin and Heitkamp) also recently cast critical votes to confirm Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State and to continue the murderous U.S.-Saudi war on the people of Yemen.

U.S. weapons companies have traditionally treated the Republican Party as their base in Congress, and they still contribute more to Republicans than Democrats. But as we can see in these three recent votes, hawkish Senate Democrats play a critical role as swing votes to keep the country at war and to ensure that the lion’s share of tax revenues keep flowing to the military-industrial complex.

The support of these hawkish Senate Democrats for endless war and record military spending stands in sharp contrast to the concerns of grassroots Democrats and Independents and even many Republicans, who are sick of the intractable cycle of violence and chaos that U.S. militarism has unleashed around the world since 2001.

The Haspel Six, who voted for a woman who oversaw horrific forms of torture, are not the only Democrats corrupted by the war industry.  Many more regularly vote for record military budgets that hand over the lion’s share of U.S. tax revenues to war profiteers.

Thirteen Senate Democrats have already raked in more than $200,000 each in contributions from the war industry in this election cycle: Durbin (IL); Reed (RI); Kaine (VA); Schumer (NY); Nelson (FL); Leahy (VT); Murray (WA); Shaheen (NH); Warner (VA); Blumenthal (CT); Schatz (HI); Donnelly (IN); and Heinrich (NM). Of these, only Leahy had the integrity to vote against final passage of the $700 billion FY2018 military budget.

In this election cycle, the 49 Democrats and Independents in the U.S. Senate have raised $5 million dollars in direct campaign contributions from the war industry, plus an additional $2.3 million for their “Leadership PACs,” from which they distribute funds to other corporate politicians and candidates.  That amounts to 44.5% of the war profits Lockheed Martin and other weapons makers have reinvested in the U.S. Senate in this election cycle, compared with $9.1 million, or 55.5%, to the 51 Republicans.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee may soon take up the Corker-Kaine Bill for the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), which would be an even more explicit blank check for endless war than the 2001 AUMF, which only authorized

“…all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons (the president) determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons….”

Three successive U.S. administrations have interpreted that language to justify wars that have destroyed several countries, and killed and maimed millions of people who had nothing to do with the crimes of September 11th. Now we face the even greater danger that, instead of simply repealing the serially-abused 2001 AUMF, a Congress bought and paid for by the war industry will explicitly authorize endless war.

How can we, the public, make our voices heard by a Congress corrupted by war profiteers, when the war industry can buy a bipartisan majority for war and militarism in the U.S. Senate with such a tiny fraction of its profits?

How can we bring the same good sense and common humanity to America’s bomb problem that the students from Parkland have brought to our domestic gun problem?

CODEPINK and other groups of concerned citizens have started a campaign called Divest from the War Machine. We ask elected officials to refuse contributions from the NRA and the top five weapons manufacturers: Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Boeing and General Dynamics. Since these officials are constantly voting on issues related to military spending, these decisions must not be tainted by the corrupting influence of weapons lobbyists. Check out the list of those who signed the pledge and help us get more officials on board.

Learn more about the campaign and join us in building an economy that is not dependent on killing and maiming people to boost the profits of weapons manufacturers.

Posted in USAComments Off on How the War Industry Corrupts the U.S. Congress

Syrian War Report June 6, 2018: YPG Forces Withdraw From Manbij

NOVANEWS

Image result for Syrian War Report CARTOON

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Units of the Syrian Army’s 11th Armoured Division have been delpoyed in the northern part of the Syrian-Lebanese border where they are set to replace Hezbollah fighters. The area of Qusayr has been one of the key Hezbollah footholds in western Syria. It is unclear if it will be abandoned.

According to some pro-government sources, Russian military police units are also withdrawing from the border area.

The situation over the northern town of Manbij has been rapidly developing since the US and Turkey endorsed a roadmap for the area.

On June 5, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) announced that their “military advisers” will leave the town. The militia claimed that its forces withdrew from Manbij in November 2016, but the military advisers remained to work with the Manbij Military Council (MMC). However, the group said its forces will be redeployed there once again if this is needed.

Both the MMC and the YPG are part of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). However, the YPG and its political wing the PYD clearly dominate within the group.

At the same time, Ankara says that the YPG is a local branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and describes them both as terrorist groups.

On the same day, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stated that Kurdish forces in northern Syria will be disarmed in the framework of the reached roadmap, which will also include the area east of the Euphrates. According to Cavusoglu, Turkish and US intelligence, military, defense officials and diplomats are set to hold a preparatory meeting in 10 days to set a foothold for the implementation of the plan.

According to the Turkish side, the roadmap will reportedly include 3 stages and will be fully implemented less than in 6 months.

While the US is yet to comment on Cavusoglu’s statements, it becomes clear that the YPG may find itself in a very complicated situation. If Ankara and Washington find a common ground over the situation in Syria, the YPG’s importance as a tool of the US foreign policy as well as the US support and supplies will decrease dramatically.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Syrian War Report June 6, 2018: YPG Forces Withdraw From Manbij

EXCLUSIVE: The So Very Jewish War on Russia

NOVANEWS

[Editor’s note: Russia just doesn’t get it… The infamous IDF cybercrimes, and by cybercrimes we mean actually doing them, the cabal’s Unit 8200, has happened again. They run Wikileaks, Intel Corporation, Google, Facebook, Youtube and literally, not just dozens, but hundreds of fake IT companies, fake news organisations and very real CIA contracting firms. Everything they do, they blame on Russia, they then get millions of dollars to protect their victims from Russia as well. You just can’t make stuff like this up….

Their newest incarnation, fronted through the Atlantic Council, Israel’s mechanism for controlling the Pentagon and State Dept., is called DisinfoPortal.org, made up of 23 mostly former CIA, Eastern European, Black Propaganda fronts now aptly renamed as anti-Fake or anti-Disinfo, borrowing dime store hipster jargon.

Tusk and Putin at the site of the plane crash that wiped out the Polish govt. Note how Tusk looks delighted whereas Putin is thoroughly disgusted.

The European end of this is controlled by Donald Tusk – Israel’s man at the heart of the EU. According to our sources, Tusk rose to prominence when the Mossad blew up an airliner, killing the entire Polish government; immediately thereafter, as the anti-Russia smear campaign went into high gear, Tusk showed up on the scene, reminiscent of Rudy Giuliani in the ashes of the WTC.

A reminder, our FBI source, back in 2014, informed us that it was Giuliani who lead the American portion of the team, including Israeli and Saudi terror groups that nuked the WTC and hit the Pentagon with a cruise missile.

The Atlantic Council organisation, tasked with scapegoating Russia, is fully engaged with partner organisations deeply involved in real acts, terror bombings, assassinations, plane crashes, poisonings, gas attacks and the smear campaigns and helped them get away with it.

Listen very carefully; there would be no terrorism whatsoever, except for one thing. ALL, and we mean ALL terror attacks in recent years, are staged in order to blame an innocent perpetrator. Do remember, the fate of Osama Bin Laden, when he got sick of working as a stooge for the CIA, the US cut off his medical care and took his Washington apartment – we all know the rest – he was blamed for 9-11 and soon after died of kidney disease and worse still, killed again years later and dumped somewhere north of Antarctica in the Southern Indian Ocean. But we digress…

VT began tripping over the Atlantic Council’s partner organisation two years ago, when we established ties between the Mossad, Wikileaks, the White Helmets, Infowars and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights; on a larger scale we had the world crime organisation, the Kosher Nostra, with dozens of Zio-oligarchs joined at the hip with Wall St puppet Donald Trump.

Of course, the reason we are writing this is simple, we are ready to do battle, we are wondering how long it’s going to take Mueller to begin looking even closer to home. At the heart of these groups – the Atlantic Council’s disinformation cabal, past their Mossad roots and Saudi funding is European history; we might ask why Jewish-led organisations in America and Europe – the Atlantic Council, the ADL and AIPAC, are so cosy with Nazis – that’s who our man Tusk is, you know. His Nazi snipers were at Maidan, it was his SS commandos that staged the Odessa slaughter that brought about the Russian takeover of Crimea.

A pregnant woman murdered inside the govt building in Odessa, 2014, one of many victims of the Nazi massacre.

The tiny ‘guns for hire’ – failed academics and hack bloggers paid to browbeat the American public with McCarthyite scare tactics (please see website, you just won’t believe it) disinfoportal.org are probably unaware they joined the likes of ISIS, Al-Qaeda and the baby killing White Helmets. We’re going to keep reminding them…  G]

_________
Sputnik
US Think Tank Gathers 23 Top Orgs. to Tackle Alleged Russian Disinformation

Dozens of organizations and experts have come together to launch a new online portal that tracks what they call Russian ‘disinformation’ campaigns around the globe, the Atlantic Council said in a press release on Wednesday.

“Today the Atlantic Council launched DisinfoPortal.org, an interactive online guide to track the Kremlin’s disinformation campaigns abroad,” the release said. “The portal brings together 23 top organizations and more than 80 experts fighting Russian disinformation in the United States and Europe, and is an initiative of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center.”

The portal is meant to be used by journalists, governments and policymakers who need information about Russia’s ongoing influence operations, the release said.

“It’s time to stop ‘admiring’ the problem of Russian disinformation and start fighting back, using the tools of democratic societies to counter the autocrat’s playbook,” Ambassador Daniel Fried of the Atlantic Council said in the release.

Over the past year, Russia faced multiple accusations of spreading propaganda in the West, especially during elections and referendums. Moscow has repeatedly refuted the allegations of its interference in other states’ internal affairs.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, when speaking about accusations of meddling in elections in the United States, the United Kingdom or other countries, has emphasized that no shred of evidence has been provided to substantiate the claims.

Posted in RussiaComments Off on EXCLUSIVE: The So Very Jewish War on Russia

Unit 8200: Cambridge Analytica Laundered Payoffs to Assange

NOVANEWS

By Gordon Duff with Ian Greenhalgh

After denying contact with Wikileaks, it turns out that Cambridge Analytica, the fancy sounding Steve Bannon/Netanyahu “gas-bag” election rigging cabal, part of half a dozen Israeli 8200 (CyberWarfare/IDF) fronts, worked hand in hand with Assange.

It now turns out they hired Assange, who it seems will simply make up leaks and have his detail drive him from his hideaway among the Rothschild estates back to the Ecuadorian embassy.

The millions in cash he gets, of course, support the imaginary organization called “Wikileaks,” long exposed as a front for CNN, the Mossad and the Rothschild cabal.


From the UK Guardian:

Cambridge Analytica director apparently visited Julian Assange in February last year and told friends it was to discuss what happened during the US election, the Guardian has learned.

Brittany Kaiser, a director at the firm until earlier this year, also claimed to have channeled cryptocurrency payments and donations to Wikileaks. This information has been passed to congressional and parliamentary inquiries in the UK and US.

Cambridge Analytica and WikiLeaks are already subjects of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, but the revelations open up fresh questions about the precise nature of the organisations’ relationship.

There was no known connection until October last year, when it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica had “reached out” to Assange in July 2016 and offered to help him index and distribute the 33,000 emails that had been stolen from Hillary Clinton.

Assange issued a statement saying that he had turned down the Cambridge Analytica offer.

But visitor logs from the Ecuador embassy obtained by the Guardian and Focus Ecuadorappear to show that Brittany Kaiser, a senior executive at Cambridge Analytica until earlier this year, visited Assange on 17 February 2017. Information passed to the DCMS committee in the UK and the Senate judiciary committee in the US states that the meeting was “a retrospective to discuss the US election”.

Kaiser is also alleged to have said that she had funneled money to WikiLeaks in the form of cryptocurrency. She called the organisation her “favourite charity”. The reports passed to investigators say that money was given to her by third parties in the form of “gifts and payments”.

Posted in USA, ZIO-NAZI, UKComments Off on Unit 8200: Cambridge Analytica Laundered Payoffs to Assange


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