Saturday, January 12, 2019

Nation-wide Protest Follows RCMP Wet'suwet'en Raid

Outrage In Canada After Militarized RCMP Arrest 14 Wet’Suwet’en Land Defenders on Sovereign Indigenous Land


January 11, 2019

The Wet’suwet’en people have never signed treaties with Canada or otherwise ceded their lands, a fact confirmed by Canada’s own Supreme Court in 1997 in a landmark decision known as Delgamuukw. On Monday, January 7, indeed, armed police, some dressed in camouflage fatigues, broke down homemade barriers at a checkpoint on unceded Wet’suwet’en territory and arrested 14 land defenders.

Solidarity protests erupt across Canada while Justin Trudeau faces hostile questions about indigenous rights in British Columbia

Indigenous Movements, Dissent, and the Security State

Policing Indigenous Movements Dissent and the Security State

by Andrew Crosby and Jeffrey Monaghan

May 2018

“An accessible must-read for all Canadians concerned about respectful relations with indigenous people and the decline of civil rights in the war-on-terror era.” — Publishers Weekly

In recent years, Indigenous peoples have lead a number of high profile movements fighting for social and environmental justice in Canada. From land struggles to struggles against resource extraction, pipeline development and fracking, land and water defenders have created a national discussion about these issues and successfully slowed the rate of resource extraction.

But their success has also meant an increase in the surveillance and policing of Indigenous peoples and their movements. In Policing Indigenous Movements, Crosby and Monaghan use the Access to Information Act to interrogate how policing and other security agencies have been monitoring, cataloguing and working to silence Indigenous land defenders and other opponents of extractive capitalism.

Listen to the authors speak to From Embers here.

Through an examination of four prominent movements — the long-standing conflict involving the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, the struggle against the Northern Gateway Pipeline, the Idle No More movement and the anti-fracking protests surrounding the Elsipogtog First Nation — this important book raises critical questions regarding the expansion of the security apparatus, the normalization of police surveillance targeting social movements, the relationship between police and energy corporations, the criminalization of dissent and threats to civil liberties and collective action in an era of extractive capitalism and hyper surveillance.

In one of the most comprehensive accounts of contemporary government surveillance, the authors vividly demonstrate that it is the norms of settler colonialism that allow these movements to be classified as national security threats and the growing network of policing, governmental, and private agencies that comprise what they call the security state.

Mystery at Heart of German State Christmas Advent Calendar Hack

Was the hack of German politicians data supported by the state?

by Ulrich Rippert - WSWS

12 January 2019

News broke at the beginning of January that personal and political data from German politicians, well-known musicians, and journalists was stolen and published online. According to current figures, 994 active or former politicians have been affected by the hack.

The main content of the leaks was personal contact information, including phone numbers and addresses, as well as internal party documents like application letters to party congresses. In a few cases, highly sensitive personal information was made public, including pictures from personal ID cards, documents confirming direct debit payments from bank accounts, chats with family members, and credit card details of relatives. Some of the documents are several years old.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer

The data was published before Christmas on Twitter in the style of an advent calendar.

The account which published the data has more than 17,000 followers. Personal details from celebrities have been repeatedly published there since 2017. Media reports have noted that multiple copies have been made of the data, making it almost impossible to delete.

At a press conference on Tuesday, federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (Christian Social Union, CSU) announced that the security agencies would take tougher measures in response to the hack. “The investigators responsible are working at top speed,” he said. A suspect has already been questioned and is cooperative, he added. The suspect is a 20-year-old student from the state of Hesse. The Interior Minister praised the “swift investigation,” and thanked the security agencies for “good and rapid cooperation.”

In the future, the cyber-security sector would be a focus around the clock, Seehofer declared. A new draft security law is almost complete and will be presented in the first half of 2019, he added. The Federal Agency for Security (BSI) will hire more personnel. The qualifications of BSI workers will also be reviewed more closely and improved in the future.

Seehofer said nothing about the fact that signs point to far-right forces around the Alternative for Germany (AfD) being involved in the attack. And it is well known that the right-wing party enjoys strong support from the security agencies.

A glance at the facts suggests that the data hack was part of the political conspiracy which the federal government has used to impose its policies of militarism and the strengthening of the repressive state apparatus to suppress all opposition in the population.

Firstly, it is noteworthy that of all the parties represented in parliament, only politicians from one remained unaffected by the hack: the AfD. 56 percent of parliamentary deputies, or a total of 398, have been affected, including 204 from the CDU/CSU, 90 from the SPD, 47 from the Left Party, 31 from the Greens, and 26 from the Free Democrats, but not a single one of the AfD’s 91 deputies.

The source of the attack also points to far-right circles. Die Zeit has carefully examined the case, and came to the conclusion,

“It is not yet possible to say who exactly was responsible for stealing the data. But the people associated with the accounts provide further indications that those responsible are active in right-wing politics. The main account, 0 rbit, participated in right-wing extremist discussions on Twitter.”

According to Die Zeit, other far-right accounts have ties to the main account, including AN_Ofiziell (anonymousness), which is active in right-wing politics and presents itself as part of the Anonymous hacker group. The twin account was also connected to the main account. The suspected person behind the account is a right-wing extremist from Erfurt who was sentenced to two years and ten months in prison in December 2018 due to illegally trading weapons. The man filed an appeal against the ruling and is currently free under strict police surveillance.

Julian Reichelt, editor-in-chief of the Bild newspaper, pointed to another aspect of the case Tuesday that undermines the official narrative of a lone 20-year-old student living out his fantasies of unlimited power online. It concerns the huge set of data he is currently reviewing and analysing with a trained team of specialist investigative reporters.

“This wasn’t one or two boys eating pizza and drinking cola in a basement. It must have been a larger structure. The most likely explanation is that there was state support for this hack, regardless of where it came from,” Reichelt explained.

The Bild editor-in-chief indicated that a state “possibly with subversive intent,” tried to undermine the Federal Republic, but then wrote,

“According to the investigators, there is no political motivation, nobody pulling the strings from Russia, China, or another country.”

The question is therefore posed: was the data hack organized by the AfD’s far-right network, which reaches deep into the state’s security apparatus and is used by the government to enforce its right-wing, anti-social, and militarist policies?

The right-wing extremist networks, which are present in all parts of the state apparatus, are well known.

Last summer, the head of the domestic intelligence agency, Hans-Georg Maassen, was removed from his post after defending neo-Nazi marchers in Chemnitz.

In its latest report, the domestic intelligence agency neglects to mention the AfD, even though it regularly agitates against immigrants, promotes racism, and trivialises the Nazis’ crimes and the Wehrmacht. By contrast, the Socialist Equality Party (SGP) is named in the report as a “left-wing extremist” party, with the justification that it criticises the capitalist system.

In the army, a neo-Nazi network was discovered when the terrorist plans of Franco A., (right) were accidentally revealed. The army officer, who had procured firearms and apparently planned attacks on high-ranking politicians, had registered himself as a Syrian refugee. He seemingly planned to blame his crimes on refugees. Nonetheless, the Frankfurt Court of Appeals saw no reason to press charges against him.

When Focus magazine published new details in November about the “conspiratorial network of around 200 soldiers in the army,” other media outlets ignored the revelation and the issue was quickly dropped.

A far-right cell in the police in Frankfurt was recently exposed, which described itself as “NSU 2.0”—a reference to the neo-Nazi National Socialist Underground terrorist group.

The existence of a right-wing conspiracy within the state apparatus is thus not the product of conspiracy theories, but bitter reality.

This is the context within which the political campaign to defend the AfD which began immediately after the data leak must be understood. A violent attack on the leader of the right-wing party in Bremen served as the pretext for politicians to line up with statements of solidarity for the AfD. On Tuesday morning, contrary to all the facts, a report was spread claiming that the AfD member was beaten severely by three masked individuals with a wooden baton.

Later, after footage from security cameras was reviewed, it was confirmed that the AfD politician was pursued by three men, who attacked him from behind. A spokesman for the Bremen state prosecutor stated that the pictures showed “nobody kicking someone lying on the ground,” and nobody striking the victim with an object.

Despite this, media outlets have reported the attack as an attempted murder, and all parties have declared their support for and solidarity with the AfD.

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Friday, January 11, 2019

"Lost" Mumia Evidence Surfaces

A Potentially Tectonic Event Shakes up the Mumia Abu-Jamal Case

by Dave Lindorff - This Can't Be Happening


 DA finds 6 crates of case materials in locked office storeroom

January 10, 2019
In a huge potential break in the long-running and controversial case of Philadelphia journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, currently in Pennsylvania’s SCI Mahanoy prison serving a life-without-parole term for murder, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office says it has discovered six banker storage boxes of materials about the case in a locked storeroom of the DA’s offices at 3 South Penn Square.

The boxes, spotted by Krasner himself during a search of the previously locked storeroom for an office desk, reportedly had the name “McCann” scrawled on their facing side, apparently referring to Edward McCann, the long-time head of the DA’s homicide litigation unit (McCann left the DA’s office in 2015). When the boxes were removed from under the desk, it was discovered that the name “Mumia” was written on the their hidden ends.

Five of the boxes were reportedly numbered 18/29, 21/29, 23/29, 24/29 and 29/29. The sixth box had no number on it. The department’s Mumia case record is stored in boxes numbered 1-32 and includes boxes similarly numbered to those found in the storeroom.

The newly located cardboard crates, which contain case files, evidentiary material and other materials relating to the Mumia case, are going to be provided to the defense for their inspection, according the DA’s office.

The significance of this surprising discovery by Krasner, a prominent progressive defense attorney who won election as DA in November 2017 and moved into the DA’s office last January, is that if those boxes contain any evidentiary material that was improperly withheld from the defense, and if what was withheld proved significant enough that it might potentially have led the original jury to a different conclusion — for example a non-unanimous decision to convict — it would be grounds for seeking a retrial of the case.

Even if such previously undisclosed evidence were less obviously significant, it could open the door for the defense to seek a new Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) hearing at the level of the court of common pleas. At such a hearing both sides — the defense and the DA’s office — would be able to make arguments and even, depending on the evidence found, to subpoena witnesses — potentially even witnesses from the original trial who could be re-questioned under oath.

The discovery of the crates comes at a critical juncture for Abu-Jamal, who has spent 29 years on death row and a total of 38 years in prison after having his death penalty for conviction in the 1981 shooting death of white Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner vacated on Constitutional grounds.

Just two weeks ago , Common Pleas Judge Leon Tucker issued a ruling that four important PCRA appeals by Abu-Jamal, including his first lengthy and contentious PCRA hearing in 1995 at which all of the important evidence in the prosecution’s case was challenged before the original trial Judge Albert Sabo, needed to be re-appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Judge Tucker ruled that all four of those appeals, each of which was summarily rejected by the state’s high court, had been unfairly dismissed because one of the Supreme Court justices, Ronald Castille, had, from 1986-1991, been Philadelphia DA, where he was in charge of the assistant DAs tasked with defending against Abu-Jamal’s appeal of his conviction. Tucker said that even if there was no documentary evidence of Justice Castille’s direct involvement in that appeal fighting process, the mere appearance of a conflict of interest meant he should have recused himself from discussions of and deciding on those appeals. Instead, Castille participated in high court’s majority decisions to reject all  four appeals.

PA Chief Justice (ret.) Ronald Castille (campaign photo)

Following hearings that preceded his ruling, Judge Tucker had ordered a thorough search of the DA’s office in an effort to locate any memos or other documents that might link former DA Castille to his office’s handling of Abu-Jamal’s case. While no Castille memo turned up, Krasner’s office, which had assigned a paralegal to the search, did locate two memos about the case with questions addressed to Castille, but never found his response.

The six crates, interestingly, were discovered on Dec. 28, just a day after Judge Tucker’s ruling was issued.

DA Larry Krasner (campaign photo)

Krasner’s office still has not responded to the judge’s decision, which would have to be appealed by his office within 30 days, or in other words, by January 26. No other party or agency besides the Philadelphia District Attorney has standing to appeal it, meaning if DA Krasner does nothing, it will stand.

Radio station WHYY, in a local news report today, quoted retired Assistant DA McCann, whose name was on all the newly discovered case document crates, as saying he “doubted” there would be any new evidence undisclosed to the Mumia defense team found in them. McCann suggested that the contents may have been all photocopies of material the defense has already seen.

The defense team, which declined to comment, believes McCann is wrong, and clearly will be going through the materials in the boxes with a fine-tooth comb looking for signs of original copies of evidence not disclosed to the defense at trial. (It’s worth noting that nobody in the DA’s office anticipated that Krasner would take over an office that for generations has been run by hard-line prosecutors less concerned with justice than with winning cases, and willing to bend the rules or overlook police or prosecutorial conduce in order to win convictions.)

The case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who has become a powerful voice from inside of what he calls the US “prison industrial complex,” whose original trial was widely seen as a corrupt travesty of justice, and whose freedom has been sought by supporters around the world who see the progressive journalist and former Black Panther as a political prisoner, is far from over.

DAVE LINDORFF is author of ‘Killing Time: An investigation into the death-penalty case of Mumia Abu-Jamal (Common Courage Press, 2003).

Numbering Six Media Lies About Assange/Russia Investigation Connections

6 False Claims Made by Media About Assange & WikiLeaks in Relation to Mueller’s Russia Investigation

by 21st Century Wire

January 8, 2019

Undoubtedly, the standoff between WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and the United States government is fast coming to a head, which means that both sides are now consolidating their positions – in preparation for something big which may be unfolding as we speak.

This week, Reuters news agency reported how WikiLeaks had disseminated an email to the press entitled, “Assange & WikiLeaks inaccurate and defamatory claims,” listing 140 things which journalists should not be saying about Assange.

The letter first prefaced WikiLeaks’ stellar record as a journalism outlet, followed by a list of false claims currently circulating freely across the western corporate mainstream media.

According to the statement released by WikiLeaks this week:

Julian Assange has published the largest leaks in the history of the CIA, State Department, Pentagon, the U.S. Democratic Party, and the government of Saudi Arabia, among many others, as well as saving Edward Snowden from arrest. Predictably, numerous falsehoods have been subsequently spread about WikiLeaks and its publisher.
Falsehoods have also been spread by third parties: media competitors, click-bait sites, political party loyalists, and by those linked to the governments WikiLeaks or Julian Assange are litigating or have litigated (U.K., U.S., Ecuador, Sweden), which seek his arrest (U.S., U.K.), expulsion (Ecuador), or who have formal criminal investigations (U.S., Saudi Arabia, Australia), or who have banned or censored WikiLeaks (Saudi Arabia, Turkey, China).

Since Mr. Assange’s unlawful isolation and gagging on March 28, 2018, the publication of false and defamatory claims about him has accelerated, perhaps because of an incorrect view that Mr. Assange, due to his grave personal circumstances, can no longer defend his reputation.”

One of the main reasons for this latest WikiLeaks publication appears to be an attempt to dispel and push-back against a virtual flood of misinformation fueled mainly by an increasingly desperate US corporate media and the Democratic Party establishment – who are attempting to attach Julian Assange and WikiLeaks with official conspiracy theory of ‘Trump-Russia Collusion.’

This speculation is also being promulgated by the obvious partisan witch hunt being conducted as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s two year-old Russia Investigation, which has yet to uncover any real evidence of ‘Trump-Russia collusion.’

Here’s a summary of 6 major false claims in relation to the Mueller Investigation – made repeatedly across the mainstream media over the past year (our list is derived from a recent analysis from online journal Law & Crime):

1. To date, the Mueller Investigation has not even bothered to contact Julian Assange or WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks: “It is false and defamatory to suggest that WikiLeaks or Julian Assange has ever been contacted by the Mueller investigation.” 

In other words, despite all the media noise about Assange and WikiLeaks around the Mueller probe, Team Mueller has never bothered to contact Assange to get a statement on the matter. Could it be because any such testimony might end up obliterating the central premise of the Official Washington’s Trump-Russia conspiracy theory? Well, yes.

2. The U.S. has not charged Assange with any crime relating to the Mueller Investigation.

WikiLeaks: “It is false and defamatory to suggest that there is any evidence that the U.S. charges against Julian Assange relate to the Mueller investigation.”

In other words, even though the two are mentioned in tandem non-stop across the entire western mainstream corporate media, Assange is not actually a subject of the Mueller probe. While this may initially seem odd, few are asking the fundamental question, which is… why not? The answer to that question should be obvious to anyone with basic logic and critical thinking skills – but we’ll spell it out to you anyway: it’s because there is no evidence connecting Assange or WikiLeaks, to Trump or Russia.

3. WikiLeaks and Julian Assange were not involved in soliciting for, or hacking the DNC (aka the DNC leak).

WikiLeaks: “It is false and defamatory to suggest that the U.S. government claims that Julian Assange or WikiLeaks directed, conspired, colluded or otherwise engaged in a crime, to obtain information from the Democratic National Committee or John Podesta [in fact, the government has made no such claim].” 

In other words, Assange hasn’t actually been accused of any crime relating to the DNC hack/leak. Assange also reiterated that WikiLeaks wasn’t alone in publishing “allegedly hacked Democratic Party materials.” Other mainstream media outlets also published the information including CNN, The New York Times, Politico, The Hill, and The Intercept, to name only a few. On the flip side, Assange and WikiLeaks did not provide any material in advance of publication (or no publication) to any third-party. Reporters at Law & Crime also add here:

WikiLeaks and Assange also denied they “privately provided information about its then pending 2016 U.S. election-related publications to any outside party, including Nigel Farage, Roger Stone, Jerome Corsi, Donald Trump Jr., Michael Flynn, Michael Flynn Jr., Cambridge Analytica, or Rebekah Mercer [it is defamatory because it falsely imputes that Julian Assange acted without integrity in his role as the editor of WikiLeaks, associates with criminals, or has committed a crime].”

4. The was never any “back channel” between Assange and political fixer Roger Stone before or during the 2016 election.

Assange has stated, “there was no ‘backchannel’ between Julian Assange and Roger J. Stone during, or prior to, the U.S. 2016 presidential election.”

In other words, Mueller and the entire US mainstream media have been attempting to advance the laughable conspiracy theory that either comedian Randy Credico, political fixer Roger Stone, or conspiracy author Jerome Corsi were acting as ‘middle men’ between Trump and WikiLeaks – no such plot ever existed. Again, there are no charges against Julian Assange relating to Mueller’s ‘Trump-Russia collusion’ probe.

5. WikiLeaks’ publication of the Podesta emails was not timed with the infamous Access Hollywood-Billy Bush tape.

Despite protestations by Clinton campaign boss John Podesta that WikiLeaks timed the release of the email dump, it was not made public to off-set the Trump campaign’s embarrassment over the audacious “pussy grabbing” audio release recorded 10 years earlier. Quite the opposite in fact, as evidence actually suggests that the release of the Access Hollywood tape was actually moved forward three days – in order to come out the same day as WikiLeaks’ publication of the Podesta emails.

6. Assange has never met or communicated with former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort.

This was one of many planted stories in the mainstream media, led by The Guardian, designed to smear Assange and reinflate the rapidly collapsing Russiagate narrative. In December, the UK newspaper, The Guardian, published a completely fabricated story claiming the Manafort had met with Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on ‘multiple occasions.’

This was a fake news story cobbled together by The Guardian’s own serial fabricator-in-residence, disgraced journalist Luke Harding, and his partner in crime Dan Collyns. The fake news ruse by The Guardian appears to have been a PR stunt designed to press Assange into the Mueller Investigation frame – effectively pinning Assange and WikiLeaks to the Trump-Russia Collusion investigation.

As 21WIRE stated previously in its Review of 2018, the current campaign to slander and defame Assange is an intentional tactic by the transatlantic establishment, ahead of his likely extradition to the US following the revelation of a secret sealed Grand Jury indictment filed years earlier. Which ever way it goes, the establishment will have to show its true totalitarian face.

READ MORE RUSSIAGATE NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Russiagate Files


Our Way or the Huawei Treatment: Putting Executives on the Trade War Board

US Snatches Chinese Executive – Sets Dangerous Precedent

by Tony Cartalucci - NEO

January 9, 2019

Claiming that prominent Chinese telecommunications company Huawei had violated US sanctions on Iran – Canada was requested to arrest and hand over Huawei Chief Financial Officer, Meng Wanzhou, who was transferring planes in Vancouver.

The arrest was described even by the Washington Post as “unusual” in its article titled, “Arrest of Huawei executive triggers stock market turmoil and unsettles U.S.-China trade talks.”

The article would also claim:

“Meng was arrested on a U.S. extradition warrant because Huawei is suspected of evading American sanctions on Iran, according to multiple news reports. U.S. prosecutors have been investigating since 2016 whether Huawei violated U.S. export and sanctions laws by shipping U.S.-origin products to Iran.
The arrest, on the same day President Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping met for dinner in Buenos Aires for trade and national-security talks, is being viewed in China as politically motivated.

And very clearly the move made against Huawei – along with a barrage of similar legal moves made to cripple rising Chinese companies competing against their waning US counterparts – is politically motivated – as are the sanctions the US has imposed on Iran in the first place.

Part of a Wider Pattern of Trying to Provoke, Humiliate China

Reuters in an article titled, “U.S. probing Huawei for possible Iran sanctions violations: sources,” would lay out previous examples of US attempts to cripple China’s largest tech companies, claiming:

“The probe of Huawei is similar to one that China’s ZTE Corp says is now threatening its survival.The United States last week banned American firms from selling parts and software to ZTE for seven years. Washington accused ZTE of violating an agreement on punishing employees after the company illegally shipped U.S. goods to Iran.

Nowhere on the websites of the US State Department, US Department of Treasury, or the US Justice Department is any information available regarding the alleged sanctions Huawei supposedly violated or how Huawei selling US technology to Iran allows the US to snatch Chinese citizens at Canadian airports.

China, for its part, has demanded the immediate release of Meng Wanzhou. Chinese state media portal, the Global Times in an article titled, “China urges release of Huawei executive,” would report:

“Chinese officials are urging the US and Canada to clarify why Meng Wanzhou, a senior executive of Huawei Technologies, has been detained and to immediately release her, slamming the arrest as a violation of her rights.
Experts said on Thursday that Meng’s detention is a move by the US to heat up the ongoing trade war between China and the US.”

The sudden and so far unexplained arrest on the same day US President Donald Trump and other high-level US representatives met with their Chinese counterparts in Buenos Aires, Argentina fits into a larger pattern of politically-motivated coercion, intimidation, and provocations that has increasingly dominated the shape of US foreign policy.

Snatching Foreign Executives for Violating Criminally-Motivated Sanctions

The US sanctions against Iran themselves are transparently aimed at stripping Iran of its sovereignty and influence in the Middle East and transforming the nation into either a client state of US interests or a failed state allowing the US to springboard chaos and subversion into southern Russia and beyond.

The US has leveled a myriad of sanctions against Iran since 1979 in an attempt to cripple the nation’s economy and collapse Iran’s ruling political order.

US policymakers have openly and repeatedly admitted that Iran poses no actual security threat to the United States and that attempts to pursue regime change are aimed instead solely at enhancing Washington’s unwarranted influence in the Middle East. They also have openly conspired to frame Iran through a number of schemes to justify Washington’s agenda of regime change.

In a 2009 Brookings Institution report titled, “Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy toward Iran,” US policymakers would conspire to offer Iran a peace deal they then planned to intentionally walk away from while accusing Tehran of having violated it.

The report would admit (emphasis added):

“…any military operation against Iran will likely be very unpopular around the world and require the proper international context—both to ensure the logistical support the operation would require and to minimize the blowback from it.
The best way to minimize international opprobrium and maximize support (however, grudging or covert) is to strike only when there is a widespread conviction that the Iranians were given but then rejected a superb offer—one so good that only a regime determined to acquire nuclear weapons and acquire them for the wrong reasons would turn it down.
Under those circumstances, the United States (or Israel) could portray its operations as taken in sorrow, not anger, and at least some in the international community would conclude that the Iranians “brought it on themselves” by refusing a very good deal.

That offer would eventually manifest itself as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or the “Iran Nuclear Deal,” signed by China, France, Germany, the EU, Iran, Russia, the UK, and the US.

The deal stipulated that if Iran upheld commitments regarding its nuclear program, crippling US sanctions would be incrementally withdrawn.

Iran upheld its commitments, and sanctions were initially, incrementally withdrawn.

But just as US policymakers had conspired to do all along, unsubstantiated accusations were made by the US that Iran had violated the deal. The US would unilaterally withdraw from it and reinstate economic sanctions as well as secondary sanctions aimed at nations who still intended to trade with Iran.

The US also attempted to ratchet up tensions both in the form of US-sponsored political subversion and terrorism, and even threats of direct military conflict aimed at Tehran.

That the deal was proposed and signed during the administration of President Barack Obama and then upturned during Trump’s administration is a reminder of just how much unelected special interests – those that fund and direct think tanks like the Brookings Institution – dictate US foreign policy regardless of who sits in the White House.

Iran’s adherence to the JCPOA was such that the majority of the deal’s signatories have attempted to maintain the agreement despite America’s withdrawal – and put together economic workarounds for renewed and unjustified US sanctions. This has prompted more extreme measures from Washington – both against competitors like China and even allies across Europe.

Backfire: Setting a Dangerous Precedent

If US sanctions against Iran are unjustified, then the arrest of those accused of violating them is also unjustified. It is one matter to impose unreasonable sanctions and attempt to enforce them among a nation’s own businesses and institutions – it is another to impose them upon other, sovereign nations.

The US and Canada – snatching a senior Chinese business executive – have set a dangerous precedent that will eventually backfire on the West. It is waning US economic, financial, and military power that has dragged out its confrontation with Iran for decades and allowed the rise of nations like China and the reemergence of nations like Russia upon the global stage.

While the US may calculate it can avoid serious consequences by snatching Chinese business executives today, this may not be the case in the near future as US power continues to wane globally.

By setting the precedent of snatching business leaders from other nations, the US and Canada have painted targets on the backs of their own corporate boards of directors, executives, bankers, and business leaders. They have done so in a game they are already losing, which prompted this latest episode of confrontation and provocation in the first place.

The hardliner approach Washington has taken not only endangers business between American enterprises still willing to work with companies and nations being targeted by America’s growing list of sanctioned nations and trade war opponents, it is now endangering their very safety as they travel the globe attempting to engage in business.

Even those corporations and financial institutions who shape US foreign policy including this hardliner approach may soon see themselves “snatched” after a precedent their own greed and provocations have set.

It is perhaps an irony that as the US attempts to tighten its grip on global hegemony, it finds itself increasingly isolated. Should the US fail to release Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou and make reparations for her mistreatment, a self-imposed travel ban in the form of fear of American executives being snatched and put on trial in foreign nations may emerge. Such is the fate of a nation leading a global order predicated on “might makes right” when it finds itself no longer “mightiest.”

While policymakers sell their agenda to the American public by citing a long and ever growing list of foreign enemies – in truth – Wall Street and Washington – along with their lust for power and wealth – constitute their own worst enemies.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazineNew Eastern Outlook”.

Former British Diplomat Says: "Security Services a Danger to Our State and Society"

Richard Dearlove Helped Blair Kill Millions. The Security Services are a Danger to Our State and Society 

by Craig Murray

11 Jan, 2019

When Sir Richard Dearlove, (left) was Head of MI6, the Blairites adored him as he approved the lying Dossier on Iraqi WMD which led to wars, invasion, the death of millions and the destabilisation which continues to wreck the entire Middle East.

Now, as he writes to the Tory constituency chairman advocating the hardest of hard Brexits, had they any capacity for self-reflection the Blairites would probably be thinking it was after all not such a great move of Tony to appoint the hardest of hard right nutters to head our overseas intelligence service.

In my last post, I noted how evidence against me was actually manufactured when I opposed the policy of torture and extraordinary rendition.

I have explained ad nauseam that, having been in a senior position in the FCO at the time, I know that Blair’s dossier on Weapons of Mass Destruction was a tissue of deliberate lies, and not just an honest mistake; furthermore it is impossible to read the Chilcot report without coming to that conclusion.

The UK has security services which operate dishonestly and illegally. Interestingly, I cannot say that they are currently out of the control of the UK government; the evidence is rather they are willing to engage in every dirty and dishonest trick at the behest of corrupt politicians like Blair.

Dearlove regularly features in the media shilling for maximum Cold War. His letter yesterday on the dangers of intelligence and security co-operation with the EU, as undermining NATO and the UK/US/Five Eyes intelligence arrangements, is simply barking mad. There is no evidence of this whatsoever. He makes no attempt to describe the mechanism by which the dire consequences he predicts will follow.

Amusingly enough, although those consequences are dire to Dearlove, to me they are extremely desirable. If I thought that May’s withdrawal agreement would undermine NATO and the CIA, I would be out on the streets campaigning for it.

But there is a very serious point. There is something very wrong indeed with the UK security services, which are most certainly not a force for freedom or justice. That MI6 can be headed by as extreme a figure as Dearlove, underlines the threat that the security services pose to any progressive movement in politics.

If Scotland becomes independent, it must not mirror the repressive UK security services. Furthermore it must be very chary indeed of employing anybody currently working for the UK security services. If Jeremy Corbyn comes to power in Westminster, he will never achieve any of his objectives in restoring a basic level of social justice and equality to society in England and Wales, without revolutionary change in major institutions including the security services.

My own view on Brexit is that the best deal for England and Wales would be EEA and customs union, essentially the Norway option. It seems that the Labour leadership have essentially got that right, but are making a complete pig’s ear of articulating it, presumably because of their desire not to antagonise their anti-immigrant voters.

Scotland demonstrably has a strong and strengthening pro-EU majority and this is the logical time for Scotland to move to Independence, with the assurance of strong international support. I trust the Scottish government is finally going to move decisively in that direction inside the next month.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Going Underground: Digging Up New Integrity Initiative Revelations

Chris Williamson on new Integrity Initiative revelations, Wash Westmoreland on ‘Colette’

by Afshin Rattansi - Going Underground - RT

January 9, 2019

On this episode of Going Underground, Chris Williamson MP discusses the new Integrity Initiative revelations including the organisation infiltrating Bernie Sanders’ campaign and it’s efforts to influence entertainment.

Next, Lembit Opik joins us for Broken News where he discusses Trump’s stalling withdrawal from Syria, the British Army’s new recruitment campaign targeting gamers among other young people, a new NHS hospital remaining empty just 3 miles from where Theresa May launched her NHS plan and the attempted coup in Gabon!

Finally, director Wash Westmoreland discusses his new film ‘Colette’.

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Newsguard: "Fact Checkers" Minding the Media Hen House

How a NeoCon-Backed “Fact Checker” Plans to Wage War on Independent Media

by Whitney Webb - MintPress News

January 9th, 2019

As Newsguard’s project advances, it will soon become almost impossible to avoid this neocon-approved news site’s ranking systems on any technological device sold in the United States.

Soon after the social media “purge” of independent media sites and pages this past October, a top neoconservative insider — Jamie Fly — was caught stating the mass deletion of anti-establishment and anti-war pages on Facebook and Twitter was “just the beginning” of a concerted effort by the U.S. government and powerful corporations to silence online dissent within the United States and beyond.

While a few, relatively uneventful months in the online news sphere have come and gone since Fly made this ominous warning, it appears neoconservatives and other standard bearers of the military-industrial complex and U.S. oligarchy are now poised to let loose their latest digital offensive against independent media outlets that seek to expose wrongdoing in both the private and public sectors.

Newsguard gives Fox News
high marks for accuracy.

As MintPress News Editor-in-Chief Mnar Muhawesh recently wrote, MintPress was informed that it was under review by an organization called Newsguard Technologies, which described itself to MintPress as simply a “news rating agency” and asked Muhawesh to comment on a series of allegations, several of which were blatantly untrue.

However, further examination of this organization reveals that it is funded by and deeply connected to the U.S. government, neo-conservatives, and powerful monied interests, all of whom have been working overtime since the 2016 election to silence dissent to American forever-wars and corporate-led oligarchy.

More troubling still, Newsguard — by virtue of its deep connections to government and Silicon Valley — is lobbying to have its rankings of news sites installed by default on computers in U.S. public libraries, schools, and universities as well as on all smartphones and computers sold in the United States.

In other words, as Newsguard’s project advances, it will soon become almost impossible to avoid this neocon-approved news site’s ranking systems on any technological device sold in the United States. Worse still, if its efforts to quash dissenting voices in the U.S. are successful, Newsguard promises that its next move will be to take its system global.

Red light, green light . . .

Newsguard has received considerable attention in the mainstream media of late, having been the subject of a slew of articles in the Washington Post, the Hill, the Boston Globe, Politico, Bloomberg, Wired, and many others just over the past few months. Those articles portray Newsguard as using “old-school journalism” to fight “fake news” through its reliance on nine criteria allegedly intended to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to online news.

Newsguard separates sites it deems worthy and sites it considers unreliable by using a color-coded rating — green, yellow, or red — and more detailed “nutrition labels” regarding a site’s credibility or lack thereof. Rankings are created by Newsguard’s team of “trained analysts.”

The color-coding system may remind some readers of the color-coded terror threat-level warning system that was created after 9/11, making it worth noting that Tom Ridge, (right) the former secretary of Homeland Security who oversaw the implementation of that system under George W. Bush, is on Newsguard’s advisory board.

As Newsguard releases a new rating of a site, that rating automatically spreads to all computers that have installed its news ranking browser plug-in. That plug-in is currently available for free for the most commonly used internet browsers. NewsGuard directly markets the browser plug-in to libraries, schools and internet users in general.

According to its website, Newsguard has rated more than 2,000 news and information sites. However, it plans to take its ranking efforts much farther by eventually reviewing “the 7,500 most-read news and information websites in the U.S.—about 98 percent of news and information people read and share online” in the United States in English.

A recent Gallup study, which was supported and funded by Newsguard as well as the Knight Foundation (itself a major investor in Newsguard), stated that a green rating increased users likelihood to share and read content while a red rating decreased that likelihood. Specifically, it found 63 percent would be less likely to share news stories from red-rated websites, and 56 percent would be more likely to share news from green-rated websites, though the fact that Newsguard and one of its top investors funded the poll makes it necessary to take these findings with a grain of salt.

However, some of the rankings Newsguard itself has publicized show that it is manifestly uninterested in fighting “misinformation.” How else to explain the fact that the Washington Post and CNN both received high scores even though both have written stories or made statements that later proved to be entirely false? For example, CNN falsely claimed in 2016 that it was illegal for Americans to read WikiLeaks releases and illegally colluded with the DNC to craft presidential debate questions.

In addition, in 2017, CNN published a fake story that a Russian bank linked to a close ally of President Donald Trump was under Senate investigation. That same year, CNN was forced to retract a report that the Trump campaign had been tipped off early about WikiLeaks documents damaging to Hillary Clinton when it later learned the alert was about material already publicly available.

The Washington Post, whose $600 million conflict of interest with the CIA goes unnoted by Newsguard, has also published false stories since the 2016 election, including one article that falsely claimed that “Russian hackers” had tapped into Vermont’s electrical grid. It was later found that the grid itself was never breached and the “hack” was only an isolated laptop with a minor malware problem. Yet, such acts of journalistic malpractice are of apparently of little concern to Newsguard when those committing such acts are big-name corporate media outlets.

Furthermore, Newsguard gives a high rating to Voice of America, the U.S. state-funded media outlet, even though its former acting associate director said that the outlet produces “fluff journalism” and despite the fact that it was recently reformed to “provide news that supports our [U.S.] national security objectives.”

However, RT receives a low “red” rating for being funded by the Russian government and for “raising doubts about other countries and their institutions” (i.e., including reporting critical of the institutions and governments of the U.S. and its allies).

Keeping the conversation safe for the corporatocracy 


Newsguard describes itself as an organization dedicated to “restoring trust and accountability” and using “journalism to fight false news, misinformation and disinformation.” While it repeatedly claims on its website that its employees “have no political axes to grind” and “care deeply about reliable journalism’s pivotal role in democracy,” a quick look at its co-founders, top funders and advisory board make it clear that Newsguard is aimed at curbing voices that hold the powerful — in both government and the private sector — to account.

Newsguard is the latest venture to result from the partnership between Steven Brill and Louis Gordon Crovitz, who currently serve as co-CEOs of the group.

Brill is a long-time journalist — published in TIME and The New Yorker, among others — who most recently founded the Yale Journalism Initiative, which aims to encourage Yale students who “aspire to contribute to democracy in the United States and around the world” to become journalists at top U.S. and international media organizations.

He first teamed up with Crovitz, (left) in 2009 to create Journalism Online, which sought to make the online presence of top American newspapers and other publishers profitable, and was also the CEO of the company that partnered up with the TSA to offer “registered” travelers the ability to move more quickly through airport security — for a price, of course.

While Brill’s past does not in itself raise red flags, Crovitz — his partner in founding Journalism Online, then Press+, and now Newsguard — is the last person one would expect to find promoting any legitimate effort to “restore trust and accountability” in journalism. In the early 1980s.

Crovitz held a number of positions at Dow Jones and at the Wall Street Journal, eventually becoming executive vice president of the former and the publisher of the latter before both were sold to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp in 2007. He is also a board member of Business Insider, which has received over $30 million from Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos in recent years.

In addition to being a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Crovitz proudly notes in his bio, available on Newsguard’s website, that he has been an “editor or contributor to books published by the American Enterprise Institute and Heritage Foundation.” Though many MintPress readers are likely familiar with these two institutions, for those who are not, it is worth pointing out that the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) is one of the most influential neoconservative think tanks in the country and its “scholars,” directors and fellows have included neoconservative figures like Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, John Bolton and Frederick Kagan.

During the George W. Bush administration, AEI was instrumental in promoting the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq and has since advocated for militaristic solutions to U.S. foreign policy objectives and the expansion of the U.S.’ military empire as well as the “War on Terror.” During the Bush years, AEI was also closely associated with the now defunct and controversial neoconservative organization known as the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), which presciently called, four years before 9/11, for a “new Pearl Harbor” as needed to rally support behind American military adventurism.

The Heritage Foundation, like AEI, was also supportive of the war in Iraq and has pushed for the expansion of the War on Terror and U.S. missile defense and military empire. Its corporate donors over the years have included Procter & Gamble, Chase Manhattan Bank, Dow Chemical, and Exxon Mobil, among others.

Crovitz’s associations with AEI and the Heritage Foundation, as well as his ties to Wall Street and the upper echelons of corporate media, are enough to make any thinking person question his commitment to being a fair watchdog of “legitimate journalism.”

Yet, beyond his innumerable connections to neoconservatives and powerful monied interest, Crovitz has repeatedly been accused of inserting misinformation into his Wall Street Journal columns, with groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation accusing him of “repeatedly getting his facts wrong” on NSA surveillance and other issues. Some of the blatant falsehoods that have appeared in Crovitz’s work have never been corrected, even when his own sources called him out for misinformation.

For example, in a WSJ opinion piece that was written by Crovitz in 2012, Crovitz was accused of making “fantastically false claims” about the history of the internet by the very people he had cited to support those claims.

As TechDirt wrote at the time:

“Almost everyone he [Crovitz] sourced or credited to support his argument that the internet was invented entirely privately at Xerox PARC and when Vint Cerf helped create TCP/IP, has spoken out to say he’s wrong. And that list includes both Vint Cerf, himself, and Xerox.
“Other sources, including Robert Taylor (who was there when the internet was invented) and Michael Hiltzik, have rejected Crovitz’s spinning of their own stories.”

The oligarch team’s deep bench

While Brill and Crovitz’s connections alone should be enough cause for alarm, a cursory examination of Newsguard’s advisory board makes it clear that Newsguard was created to serve the interests of American oligarchy. Chief among Newsguard’s advisors are Tom Ridge, the first Secretary of Homeland Security under George W. Bush; Richard Stengel, former editor of Time magazine, a “distinguished fellow” at the Atlantic Council and Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy under President Barack Obama; Ret. General Michael Hayden, a former CIA director, a former NSA director and principal at the Chertoff Group, a security consultancy seeking to “advise corporate clients and governments, including foreign governments” on security matters that was co-founded by former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who also currently serves as the board chairman of major weapons manufacturer BAE systems.

Other Newsguard advisors include Don Baer, former White House communications director and advisor to Bill Clinton and current chairman of both PBS and the influential PR firm Burson Cohn & Wolfe as well as Elise Jordan, former communications director for the National Security Council and former speech-writer for Condoleezza Rice, as well as the widow of slain journalist Michael Hastings — who was writing an exposé on former CIA director John Brennan at the time of his suspicious death.

A look at Newguard’s investors further illustrates the multifarious connections between this organization and the American political and corporate elite. While Brill and Crovitz themselves are the company’s top investors, one of Newsguard’s most important investors is the Publicis Groupe. Publicis is the third largest global communications company in the world, with more than 80,000 employees in over 100 countries and an annual revenue of over €9.6 billion ($10.98 billion) in 2017. It is no stranger to controversy, as one of its subsidiaries, Qorvis, recently came under fire for exploiting U.S. veterans at the behest of the Saudi government and also helped the Saudi government to “whitewash” its human rights record and its genocidal war in Yemen after receiving $6 million from the Gulf Kingdom in 2017.

Furthermore, given its size and influence, it is unsurprising that the Publicis Groupe counts many powerful corporations and governments among its clientele. Some of its top clients in 2018 included pharmaceutical giants Eli Lilly, Merck, Pfizer and Bayer/Monsanto as well as Starbucks, Procter & Gamble, McDonalds, Kraft Heinz, Burger KIng, and the governments of Australia and Saudi Arabia. Given its influential role in funding Newsguard, it is reasonable to point out the potential conflict of interest posed by the fact that sites that accurately report on Publicis’ powerful clients — but generate bad publicity — could be targeted for such reports in Newsguard’s ranking.

In addition to the Publicis Groupe, another major investor in Newsguard is the Blue Haven Initiative, which is the venture capital “impact investment” fund of the wealthy Pritzker family — one of the top 10 wealthiest families in the U.S., best known as the owners of the Hyatt Hotel chain and for being the second largest financial contributors to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Other top investors include John McCarter, a long-time executive at U.S. government contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, as well as Thomas Glocer, former CEO of Reuters and a member of the boards of pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co., financial behemoth Morgan Stanley, and the Council on Foreign Relations, as well as a member of the Atlantic Council’s International Advisory Board.

Through these investors, Newsguard managed to raise $6 million to begin its ranking efforts in March of 2018. Newsguard’s actual revenues and financing, however, have not been disclosed despite the fact that it requires the sites it ranks to disclose their funding. In a display of pure hypocrisy, Newsguard’s United States Securities and Exchange Commission Form D — which was filed March 5, 2018 — states that the company “declined to disclose” the size of its total revenue.

Why give folks a choice?

While even a quick glance at its advisory board alone would be enough for many Americans to decline to install Newsguard’s browser extension on their devices, the danger of Newsguard is the fact that it is diligently working to make the adoption of its app involuntary. Indeed, if voluntary adoption of Newsguard’s app were the case, there would likely be little cause for concern, given that its website attracts barely more than 300 visits per month and its social-media following is relatively small, with just over 2,000 Twitter followers and barely 500 Facebook likes at the time of this article’s publication.

To illustrate its slip-it-under-the-radar strategy, Newsguard has gone directly to state governments to push its browser extension onto entire state public library systems, even though its website suggests that individual public libraries are welcome to install the extension if they so choose. The first state to install Newsguard on all of its public library computers across its 51 branches was the state of Hawaii — which was the first to partner with Newsguard’s “news literacy initiative,” just last month.

According to local media, Newsguard “now works with library systems representing public libraries across the country, and is also partnering with middle schools, high schools, universities, and educational organizations to support their news literacy efforts,” suggesting that these Newsguard services targeting libraries and schools are soon to become a compulsory component of the American library and education system, despite Newsguard’s glaring conflicts of interest with massive multinational corporations and powerful government power-brokers.

Notably, Newsguard has a powerful partner that has allowed it to start finding its way into public library and school computers throughout the country. As part of its new “Defending Democracy” initiative, Microsoft announced last August that it would be partnering with Newsguard to actively market the company’s ranking app and other services to libraries and schools throughout the country.

Microsoft’s press release regarding the partnership states that Newsguard “will empower voters by providing them with high-quality information about the integrity and transparency of online news sites.”

Since then, Microsoft has now added the Newsguard app as a built-in feature of Microsoft Edge, its browser for iOS and Android mobile devices, and is unlikely to stop there. Indeed, as a recent report in favor of Microsoft’s partnership with Newsguard noted, “we could hope that this new partnership will allow Microsoft to add NewsGuard to Edge on Windows 10 [operating system for computers] as well.”

Newsguard, for its part, seems confident that its app will soon be added by default to all mobile devices. On its website, the organization notes that “NewsGuard will be available on mobile devices when the digital platforms such as social media sites and search engines or mobile operating systems add our ratings and Nutrition Labels directly.” This shows that Newguard isn’t expecting its rating systems to be offered as a downloadable application for mobile devices but something that social media sites like Facebook, search engines like Google, and mobile device operating systems that are dominated by Apple and Google will “directly” integrate into nearly every smartphone and tablet sold in the United States.

A Boston Globe article on Newsguard from this past October makes this plan even more clear. The Globe wrote at the time:

“Microsoft has already agreed to make NewsGuard a built-in feature in future products, and [Newsguard co-CEO] Brill said he’s in talks with other online titans. The goal is to have NewsGuard running by default on our computers and phones whenever we scan the Web for news.”

This eventuality is made all the more likely given the fact that, in addition to Microsoft, Newsguard is also closely connected to Google, as Google has been a partner of the Publicis Groupe since 2014, when the two massive companies joined Condé Nast to create a new marketing service called La Maison that is “focused on producing engaging content for marketers in the luxury space.” Given Google’s power in the digital sphere as the dominant search engine, the creator of the Android mobile operating system, and the owner of YouTube, its partnership with Publicis means that Newsguard’s rating system will soon see itself being promoted by yet another of Silicon Valley’s most powerful companies.

Furthermore, there is an effort underway to integrate Newsguard into social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Indeed, as Newsguard was launched, co-CEO Brill stated that he planned to sell the company’s ratings of news sites to Facebook and Twitter. Last March, Brill told CNN,

“We’re asking them [Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and Google] to pay a fraction of what they pay their P.R. people and their lobbyists to talk about the problem.”

On Wednesday, Gallup released a poll that will likely be used as a major selling point to social media giants. The poll — funded by Newsguard and the Knight Foundation, which is a top investor in Newsguard and has recently funded a series of Gallup polls relating to online news — seems to have been created with the intention of manufacturing consent for the integration of Newsguard with top social media sites.

This is because the promoted findings from the study are as follows:

“89% of users of social media sites and 83% overall want social media sites and search engines to integrate NewsGuard ratings and reviews into their news feeds and search results”
and “69% would trust social media and search companies more if they took the simple step of including NewsGuard in their products.” However, a disclaimer at the end of the poll states that the results, which were based on the responses of 706 people each of whom received $2 to participate, “may not be reflective of attitudes of the broader U.S adult population.”

With trust at Facebook nose-diving and Facebook’s censorship of independent media already well underway, the findings of this poll could well be used to justify its integration into Facebook’s platform. The connections of both Newsguard and Facebook to the Atlantic Council make this seem a given.

Financial censorship

Another Newsguard service shows that this organization is also seeking to harm independent media financially by targeting online revenue. Through a service called “Brandguard,” which it describes as a “brand safety tool aimed at helping advertisers keep their brands off of unreliable news and information sites while giving them the assurance they need to support thousands of Green-rated [i.e., Newsguard-approved] news and information sites, big and small.”

At the time the service was announced last November, Newsguard co-CEO Brill stated that the company was “in discussions with the ad tech firms, leading agencies, and major advertisers” eager to adopt a blacklist of news sites deemed “unreliable” by Newsguard. This is unsurprising given the leading role of the Publicis Groupe, one of the world’s largest advertising and PR firms, has in funding Newsguard. As a consequence, it seems likely that many, if not all, of Publicis’ client companies will choose to adopt this blacklist to help crush many of the news sites that are unafraid to hold them accountable.

It is also important to note here that Google’s connection to Publicis and thus Newsguard could spell trouble for independent news pages that rely on Google Adsense for some or all of their ad-based revenue. Google Adsense has long been targeting sites like MintPress by demonetizing articles for information or photographs it deemed controversial, including demonetizing one article for including a photo showing U.S. soldiers involved in torturing Iraqi detainees at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison.

Since then, Google — a U.S. military contractor — has repeatedly tried to shutter ad access to MintPress articles that involve reporting that is critical of U.S. empire and military expansion. One article that has been repeatedly flagged by Google details how many African-Americans have questioned whether the Women’s March has aided or harmed the advancement of African-Americans in the United States. Google has repeatedly claimed that the article, which was written by African-American author and former Washington Post bureau chief Jon Jeter, contains “dangerous content.”

Given Google’s already established practice of targeting factual reporting it deemed controversial through Adsense, Brandguard will likely offer the tech giant just the excuse it needs to cut off sites like MintPress, and other pages equally critical of empire, altogether.

An action plan for the genuine protection of journalism

Though it is just getting started, Newsguard’s plan to insert its app into every device and major social-media network is a threat to any news site that regularly publishes information that rubs any of Newsguard’s investors, partners or advisors the wrong way. Given its plan to rank the English-language U.S. news sites that account for 98 percent of U.S. digital news consumption, Newsguard’s agenda is of the utmost concern to every independent media page active in the United States and beyond — given Newsguard’s promise to take its project global.

By linking up with former CIA and NSA directors, Silicon Valley Giants, and massive PR firms working for some of the most controversial governments and corporations in the world, Newsguard has betrayed the fact that it is not actually seeking to “restore trust and accountability” in journalism, but to “restore trust and accountability” in news outlets that protect the existing power structure and help shield the corporate-led oligarchy and military-industrial complex from criticism.

Not only is it trying to tank the reputations of independent media through its biased ranking system, Newsguard is also seeking to attack these alternative voices financially and by slipping its ranking system by default onto all computers and phones sold in the U.S.

However, Newsguard and it agenda of guarding the establishment from criticism can be stopped. By supporting independent media and unplugging from social media sites committed to censorship, like Facebook and Twitter, we can strengthen the independent media community and keep it afloat despite the unprecedented nature of these attacks on free speech and watchdog journalism.

Beyond that, a key way to keep Newsguard and those behind it on their toes is to hold them to account by pointing out their clear conflicts of interest and hypocrisy and by derailing the narrative they are carefully crafting that Newsguard is “non-partisan,” “trustworthy,” and true guardians against the scourge of “fake news.”

While this report has sought to be a starting point for such work, anyone concerned about Newsguard and its connections to the war machine and corrupt corporations should feel encouraged to point out the organization’s own conflicts of interests and shady connections via its Twitter and Facebook pages and the feedback section on Newsguard’s website. The best way to defeat this new tool of the neocons is to put them on notice and to continue to expose Newsguard as a guardian of empire, not a guardian of journalism.

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile. 

  Republish our stories! MintPress News is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License. 

Vive la Gilets Jaunes, Vive la Révolution!

Gilets Jaunes: The End of Dystopia

by Israel Shamir - UNZ

December 17, 2018

The French are the best. The men don’t get fat. The women don’t sleep alone. The kids are well-behaved. They have the best architecture, the best way of living, best bread, best wine, best olive oil, best cooking, some of the best writing, films, painting, poetry, perfume – and women. They also excel in revolutions. Each revolution of theirs is a peach, perfect, round and juicy. 
They open a new epoch for mankind.

Just thinking of a French revolution makes me feel young, for I remember the previous one, in May 1968, and it was a beauty, the revolution of Forbidden to Forbid
It ushered us into the short-living paradise of permissible. Believe it or not, we could freely flirt with the opposite sex, we could smoke in the pubs and cafés, we could have a drink and drive. 
We could rent a room for small price, and roam Europe for $5 a day. Workers weren’t fired, jobs were aplenty, there were no one-year contracts, parking was free and gasoline cheap. Oh yes, and the cotton was high.

Previously, the world had been hard, cold and rigid – more or less the way it is now, with prohibitions overtaking permissions. Half a century had passed since then, and the world is ripe for a new French revolution – and it came, the GJ rising. And in time for Christmas, making it an excellent gift for us all.

The French people said Non to prosperity for the rich and austerity for the rest, to dismantling of the social state, to privatisations, to wars abroad, to mass migration – to all these plagues unloaded upon civilised and advanced West for last thirty years.

The revolt is not over. Don’t get discouraged by a few setbacks. Like a bonfire, popular uprisings burn unevenly. Now they burst out, in a few days they appear extinguished, and suddenly flare up again. This is the case with the GJ uprising. It is impossible to predict what will happen next. Even if repressions, mass arrests, propaganda and armoured cars will help the Macron regime to hold on for a while, the bell rang: the end of the bankers’ plan to tighten our belts, and to grow their triple chin is nigh. After all, the final elimination of the old feudal order took place many years after the shining example of 1789 Revolution.

Paris sets fashion; their infrequent rebellions define humanity’s future. In 1789 rebellious Parisians buried the Ancien Régime, proclaimed democracy, liberty, equality and fraternity. In 1848 the rebellious Parisians started the Spring of Nations, the great pan-European revolution. In 1871 the Paris Commune became a forerunner of all socialist revolutions. Two world wars, the massive bloodletting of Verdun and Nazi occupation had kept the people of Paris in survival mode, and the next revolution came only in 1968. And now, in 2018, the Parisians put an end to the radical neoliberal project of enslaving humanity.

The usual suspects have already accused Putin’s Russia of fomenting the Paris uprising. The BBC has been caught in flagrante – they asked their stringer in Paris to find a Russian connection, a Russian businessman, or anything Russian to blame the events on the Russians and delegitimise them. This correspondence has been leaked, and the Russian MFA complained about it.

I’d be glad and proud if such an accusation had at least some basis. Alas, it is not the case. Russians did not support any French revolution ever, from 1789 to 1968. Now, too, the official Moscow does not intervene in internal affairs of other states as a matter of principle. Russia has not yet condemned the brutal suppression of the uprising and the arrests of schoolchildren, though Beijing and Teheran did.

The Russian social networks and public organizations are suspicious of the French rising. After the trauma of Kiev Maidan-2014, the Russians had been hit by conspiracy paranoia and they are seeing manipulations of the State Department in everything. In the Russian media, the events in Paris are often described as “pogroms”; their main Channel One even made a point to show sympathetically a French Jewish real estate dealer whose office had been rampaged. Their wonderful RT does provide great coverage of the French events, but the RT does not broadcast in Russian and in Russia.

Alexander Dugin, the maverick Russian thinker, astutely suggested that the enemy does not believe in Russian involvement, whether in the US elections, or in the GJ rising, but it uses Russia as a marker of hostile force. He identifies the enemy as the shadow World Government, the force that aims to rule the world behind and above national governments. The very existence of this force has been vehemently denied, but now it manifested itself in running a smear campaign against Jeremy Corbyn, the British Labour leader. The campaign was managed by a secretive Integrity Initiative; its existence has been disclosed by Anonymous hackers. This body, ostensibly run by British secret service, included some writers of the Guardian (Luke Harding etc) who were suspected of working for MI6. They attacked Julian Assange, they attacked me personally, but according to the hackers’ disclosure, they were supposed to go after Russia.

While going after Russia sounds legit – that is what the intelligence services are for, – fighting against and smearing the Her Majesty’s Opposition Leader Rt Hon Jeremy Corbyn, PC MP is not. Dugin says they created the myth of “Putin’s Russia as an absolute and unconditional enemy, embodying pure world evil” though they are aware that Russia’s involvement beyond its borders is almost non-existent.

“The World Government is clearly aware that with all its power, a serious opponent is about to appear – not so much even from the outside (from Russia or China), but from within. Russia is here only a marker and the easiest way to discredit and demonize these alternative trends. This applies to European populism (both left and right), the anti-globalist government of Italy, the GJ of France, the fighters against capitalism and mass immigration”.

This technique of using a marker to create “guilt by association” has been practiced for years. And as the old markers of “Nazis” and “antisemites” get worn and torn, a new marker of evil Russia has been employed against the GJ. 
No worry, the old markers still work! BHL (as the French call Bernard-Henri Lévy, their chief TV pundit and the never-failing voice of the Masters of Discourse) who approved of the rebels in Libya, Syria and Kiev, has already condemned the Parisian uprising and called the rebels – Nazis. He noticed supporters of Le Pen and of Mélenchon among the Vests, and this is no good!

However, the people of France were not afraid of this label. 75-80% of the people believe the GJ are right. (Probably we shall see soon a group of Jews for GJ, quipped Gilad Atzmon, for these excellent people like to have a finger in every pie, while keeping themselves separate.)

The revolution–1968 had been derailed because of their leaders’ sell-out. Danny the Red, or Daniel Cohn-Bendit had been one of the traitors, as I wrote after meeting him some years ago. The GJ movement has no HQ, no party, no leadership, and that’s why the regime did not manage to bribe and intimidate their leaders or to make a deal with their party, as the neoliberals have worked this technique to perfection over the past 50 years.

The GJ is a native French movement, mainly middle class, of people who live in small towns and villages. It is real France, not recent immigrants, and this real France had been pushed to precarious instability of being unable to have their ends meet. The very rich have it too good; they pay no, or little taxes, and the government is doing everything for them, at the expense of the once strong middle class. Such a middle class movement is a real thing; its participants are not likely to be tricked and they can insist on their agenda.

After the first successes of the movement, the political parties began to show interest. Le Pen could be a natural to support the movement of native French people, but Marine had recently lost the national elections to Macron, and her movement feels hurt and vulnerable. More importantly, Le Pen concentrated on immigration, a side issue for GJ. The GJ do not want to fight Arab and African immigrants; their problem is with the neoliberal government, while migration is just one of the neoliberal tools. That’s why, despite BHL’s claims, Le Pen’s party has no strong position among the protesters.

The Americans may learn from this experience. Immigration is a good topic for publicity, but it’s not likely to lead to big social changes. Yes, the GJ oppose mass migration and want to terminate it, but they balance this demand with another one: stop robbing Africa. Indeed, Africa is going from bad to worse because it has been exploited by the developed countries. The balance of payments between Africa and France favours France, and this is the main reason for African migration to France. The Africans just follow their money.

If the American populists were to adopt a similar demand, they should balance their desire for the wall and no immigration by calling the US companies to stop pumping profits from Latin America. Noam Chomsky correctly stated that Central Americans won’t run to the US if the US wouldn’t destabilise their countries for profit. Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador—three countries that have been under harsh U.S. domination, supply the most of refugees knocking at the US door.

This is true for Europe and the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) states, as well. If Europeans would not bomb Libya and undermine Syria, if the US would not invade Iraq, there would be no refugees, no immigrants, legal or illegal. The GJ gave us a lesson how to treat the immigration problem. The profit of invasions goes to the rich, while the middle classes suffer the consequences of mass migration.

Another correction of the Trump agenda has been suggested by Ron Unz. Trump is putting a lot of effort into stopping illegal migration and refugees from Latin America. He should read Ron Unz who proved with numbers that the real problem is not illegal but legal immigration running too high.

American legal immigration levels have been far too high for many years with net legal immigration been running at a million or more a year, and it should be sharply reduced. Trump’s focus on illegal immigration makes no sense at all.

There is little difference between legal and illegal immigrants, they are quite the same, there are just too many of them. And legal immigration can be stopped right away, without a wall.

The immigrants’ participation in the GJ rising has been quite small. Their underclass used the revolt to break shops’ windows and loot, yes, but they didn’t fight police. And the police, on their side, didn’t fight the looters. The government apparently instigated the looters and instructed the police to allow them to do their worst, while MSM used it to condemn the GJ as vandals. The mainstream media is strongly against the GJ, and it took me an effort to find a video neutral or sympathetic to the protesters. You may watch it with English subtitles here and see for yourself that the protesters are similar to you.

I am not horrified by some broken windows. On ne saurait faire d’omelette sans casser des œufs, you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs, as a French royalist famously said in 1796. The general de Charette broke heads, not eggs nor windows, and he was executed when caught, but he was still correct. Without some impressive violence, things can’t change. If you just stand in the square and sing a nice song, or if you march down the street shouting this or that, you will achieve nothing. The government loves people singing and marching for climate change or for gay equality. You should know that people are doing a right thing if police attacks them and they defend themselves valiantly.

The Bolsheviks used the battleship Aurora to make their statement. Her salvo in view of the royal palace proved their ability and readiness for violence; they had armed soldiers and sailors to take over the centres of power including banks, post and telegraph offices, and railway stations. At the occasion, windows were broken and people were robbed; this is unfortunate but otherwise, you can’t make an omelette. 
During the French Spring, the French marched in their hundreds of thousands in biggest and most peaceful demos Paris ever knew. The government disregarded it completely. The protest has to be violent and sustainable to get somewhere. Only after four rather violent weekends, Macron deigned to respond, and he has met some demands of the GJ – an extra hundred euro for low-paid workers, no tax on the annual bonus or on overtime, no gas price rise. It was a step in the right direction. 16 million middle-class French will enjoy the fruits of Macron’s forced benevolence; it will cost 12 billion euro – a good Christmas present for hard-working people, and proof that violence works.

The American nationalist right is too law-abiding to achieve anything. They used some non-institutionalised violence against blacks, and even that was long time ago. They collect a lot of weapons but never use them against hard targets. They have lost their will to fight. Probably they won’t even defend their President Trump if he were to be removed from power. They have to join forces with some dynamic blacks who aren’t afraid to disobey authority, but for that, they must understand that their enemy is the liberal establishment, not the blacks or immigrants. The French far right had concentrated on the immigrants for too long a time, and failed to take a place and lead the protests.

So much about the far right. What about the left? Mélenchon has many supporters among the GJ, but he is perceived as connected with the party that discredited itself while Hollande was in power. All major mainstream parties – whether nominally left or right, in Paris, Berlin, or London – acted the same and carried out the same neoliberal agenda. That’s why people voted for Macron who promised to be different – but it turned out he was not different at all. There is just one agenda, just one direction – the direction to the neoliberal state ruining middle classes. A new force is badly needed.

Alain Soral would be an excellent man to lead the new force. He is already known to English readers; in France he is very popular, though he is less known than the main contenders. Soral supported the GJ from beginning. His site has published an interesting political mandala explaining his – and others’ – position.

He locates his movement between Socialism and Nationalism, between Labour and Traditionalism, opposing Macron who stands for Capitalism and Globalism, between Profit and LGBT; while Le Pen prefers Nationalism (like Soral) and Capitalism (like Macron), and Melenchon takes a more familiar course of Socialism and Globalism. On the mandala, Soral is True North, a highly symbolical position.

On the frame of the mandala, you can discern names; bankers George Soros and Jacques Attali stand behind Macron; the above-mentioned Cohn-Bendit stands behind Melenchon; Finkelcraut and Zemmour are depicted behind Marine Le Pen; and (I am proud to note) the names of three writers of Unz Review are written at Alain Soral’s side, Norman Finkelstein, Gilad Atzmon, et moi, Israel Shamir. Soral also published my books, and I am very positive about him. A man who is not afraid to use the National Socialist moniker definitely has guts, especially as there are many young North African and Black men in his predominantly white nativist and masculine movement.

The demands of the GJ are already better than anything proposed by political parties of the left and the right. They want the rich to pay too, not only the middle class. They want to roll back privatizations, especially of the railways, re-install the dismissed workers and employees, recruit doctors to hospitals and teachers for schools, to put an end to the dismantling of the welfare state. Leave the EU, leave NATO, stop wars abroad. Stop the massive migration to the country and at the same time stop the looting of the former French Africa, because it is this looting that is pushing the Africans to a mass flight to France. Drop out of competition who will make more concessions to corporations and their owners, i.e. tax the international companies.

In short, the insurgents demand to reverse the reforms of recent years, for the previous administrations, whether of Sarkozy the rightist, Hollande the leftist or Macron the outsider competed who will do more for the companies and less for the people (they call it ‘increasing competitiveness”). They want to return to pre-1991 France. In those days, the rich people had some vestigial fear of communism and they paid some consideration to workers, and allowed them to live and flourish. The rebels also demand to decouple media off the elites, give a voice to the people, listen to their wishes, and this is a very important demand.

Judging by these demands, France is again leading the world. On the barricades of Paris, the neoliberal dystopia of creating a state for the super-rich had collapsed. Even if the uprising will be finally crushed, its basic demands will serve as a beacon for new uprisings and revolutions until they win. And the people will surely win.

P.S. If you feel the writer is biased and other nations are no less wonderful, you may find me saying good things about the English, the Germans, the Greeks, the Poles, the Japanese and Palestinians, Ukrainians and Russians, Norwegians and Swedes, Indians and Vietnamese…

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!