Blogger Recognition Award, thank you Mischenko!


Blogger Recognition Award

My blogging friend Mischenko of ReadRantRock&Roll blog has nominated Dear Kitty. Some blog for the Blogger Recognition Award.

Thank you so much for this kind gesture!

The rules of this award are:

Post an image of the award

Thank your nominator

Nominate 10 blogs

Comment on the blogs so they know of their nomination

Write a brief description about how your blog started

Write 2 pieces of advice for new bloggers

Provide a link to the original Blogger Recognition Award post

A brief description of my blog is here. It started in 2005 on ModBlog. However, ModBlog was sold to a big corporation which deleted it. So, after having been on Blogsome, I am on WordPress now.

Two pieces of advice for new bloggers are:

1. Especially in older blog posts, you may check whether links have become broken, and repair them. There is a tool for that, Xenu’s Link Sleuth, downloadable here.

2. Use categories and tags for your blog posts, making it easier for yourself, search engines etc. to find related posts. Not too many categories and tags, though; it seems that for WordPress over 12 is too many.

My ten nominees are:

1. Miss Ayo Délé

2. Ecstatic yet Chaotic

3. My Bicol Blog

4. Who owns England?

5. WilliWash

6. Milly Schmidt

7. Quietly Quirky

8. dwijeshsharma

9. Literary Dust

10. QUIESCENTLISTENER

Google censoring leftist, pro-peace Internet sites


A broad range of left-wing, progressive, and anti-war sites have had their traffic rankings fall in recent months

By Andre Damon and Niles Niemuth in the USA:

New Google algorithm restricts access to left-wing, progressive web sites

27 July 2017

In the three months since Internet monopoly Google announced plans to keep users from accessing “fake news,” the global traffic rankings of a broad range of left-wing, progressive, anti-war and democratic rights organizations have fallen significantly.

On April 25, 2017, Google announced that it had implemented changes to its search service to make it harder for users to access what it called “low-quality” information such as “conspiracy theories” and “fake news.”

The company said in a blog post that the central purpose of the change to its search algorithm was to give the search giant greater control in identifying content deemed objectionable by its guidelines. It declared that it had “improved our evaluation methods and made algorithmic updates” in order “to surface more authoritative content.”

Google continued, “Last month, we updated our Search Quality Rater Guidelines to provide more detailed examples of low-quality webpages for raters to appropriately flag.” These moderators are instructed to flag “upsetting user experiences,” including pages that present “conspiracy theories,” unless “the query clearly indicates the user is seeking an alternative viewpoint.”

Google does not explain precisely what it means by the term “conspiracy theory.” Using the broad and amorphous category of fake news, the aim of the change to Google’s search system is to restrict access to alternative web sites, whose coverage and interpretation of events conflict with those of such establishment media outlets as the New York Times and the Washington Post.

By flagging content in such a way that it does not appear in the first one or two pages of a search result, Google is able to effectively block users’ access to it. Given the fact that vast amounts of web traffic are influenced by search results, Google is able to effectively conceal or bury content to which it objects through the manipulation of search rankings.

Just last month, the European Commission fined the company $2.7 billion for manipulating search results to inappropriately direct users to its own comparison shopping service, Google Shopping. Now, it appears that Google is using these criminal methods to block users from accessing political viewpoints the company deems objectionable.

The World Socialist Web Site has been targeted by Google’s new “evaluation methods”. While in April 2017, 422,460 visits to the WSWS originated from Google searches, the figure has dropped to an estimated 120,000 this month, a fall of more than 70 percent.

Even when using search terms such as “socialist” and “socialism,” readers have informed us that they find it increasingly difficult to locate the World Socialist Web Site in Google searches.

According to Google’s webmaster tools service, the number of searches resulting in users seeing content from the World Socialist Web Site (that is, a WSWS article appeared in a Google search) fell from 467,890 a day to 138,275 over the past three months. The average position of articles in searches, meanwhile, fell from 15.9 to 37.2 over the same period.

David North, chairperson of the International Editorial Board of the WSWS, stated that Google is engaged in political censorship.

“The World Socialist Web Site has been in existence for nearly 20 years,” he said, “and it has developed a large international audience. During this past spring, the number of individual visits to the WSWS each month exceeded 900,000.

“While a significant percentage of our readers enter the WSWS directly, many web users access the site through search engines, of which Google is the most widely used. There is no innocent explanation for the extraordinarily sharp fall in readers, virtually overnight, coming from Google searches.

“Google’s claim that it is protecting readers from ‘fake news’ is a politically motivated lie. Google, a massive monopoly, with the closest ties to the state and intelligence agencies, is blocking access to the WSWS and other left and progressive web sites through a system of rigged searches.”

In the three months since Google implemented the changes to its search engine, fewer people have accessed left-wing and anti-war news sites. Based on information available on Alexa analytics, other sites that have experienced sharp drops in ranking include WikiLeaks, Alternet, Counterpunch, Global Research, Consortium News and Truthout. Even prominent democratic rights groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Amnesty International appear to have been hit.

According to Google Trends, the term “fake news” roughly quadrupled in popularity in early November, around the time of the US election, as Democrats, establishment media outlets and intelligence agencies sought to blame “false information” for the electoral victory of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton.

On November 14, the New York Times proclaimed that Google and Facebook “faced mounting criticism over how fake news on their sites may have influenced the presidential election’s outcome,” and they would be taking measures to combat “fake news.”

Ten days later, the Washington Post published an article, “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say,” which cited an anonymous group known as PropOrNot that compiled a list of “fake news” sites spreading “Russian propaganda.”

The list included several sites categorized by the group as “left-wing.” Significantly, it targeted globalresearch.ca, which often reposts articles from the World Socialist Web Site.

After widespread criticism of what was little more than a blacklist of anti-war and anti-establishment sites, the Washington Post was forced to publish a retraction, declaring, “The Post, which did not name any of the sites, does not itself vouch for the validity of PropOrNot’s findings.”

On April 7, Bloomberg News reported that Google was working directly with the Washington Post and the New York Times to “fact-check” articles and eliminate “fake news.” This was followed by Google’s new search methodology.

Three months later, out of the 17 sites declared to be “fake news” by the Washington Post ’s discredited blacklist, 14 had their global ranking fall. The average decline of the global reach of all of these sites is 25 percent, and some sites saw their global reach fall by as much as 60 percent.

“The actions of Google constitute political censorship and are a blatant attack on free speech,” North stated. “At a time when public distrust of establishment media is widespread, this corporate giant is exploiting its monopolistic position to restrict public access to a broad spectrum of news and critical analysis.”

Does the WSWS write about Leon Trotsky? Not according to Google.

An intensive review of Internet data has established that Google has severed links between the World Socialist Web Site and the 45 most popular search terms that previously directed readers to the WSWS. The physical censorship implemented by Google is so extensive that of the top 150 search terms that, as late as April 2017, connected the WSWS with readers, 145 no longer do so: here.

Google’s new search protocol is restricting access to 13 leading socialist, progressive and anti-war web sites: here.

The New Censorship. How did Google become the internet’s censor and master manipulator, blocking access to millions of websites? Here.

Rembrandt’s drawings online


Rembrandt, The Pancake Woman, from the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam collection

From the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands:

Drawings by Rembrandt

Biblical and genre scenes, figure and animal studies, landscapes and portraits: an impressive selection of 64 drawings by the master that demonstrate his profound skill and penetrating psychological insight.

See all the works included in this catalogue.

Each entry can be found by scrolling down on the artwork page and clicking on ‘Catalogue entry’ below the image.

This online catalogue, an update of Peter Schatborn’s 1985 collection catalogue Tekeningen van Rembrandt, zijn onbekende leerlingen en navolgers/Drawings by Rembrandt, his Anonymous Pupils and Followers, features 58 sheets now considered genuine drawings by Rembrandt (1606–1669) in the Rijksprentenkabinet; with autograph versos, the tally comes to 64 drawings. If our holdings constitute only a fraction of Rembrandt’s surviving drawings, they provide a representative selection from his whole career.

The first seven drawings by Rembrandt to enter our collection – including the genre masterpiece The Pancake Woman – came through the Vereniging Rembrandt, a society founded by private individuals to save works for the nation from the 1883 sale of Jacob de Vos Jbzn. Nearly half of the collection comes from the 1906 donation of Dr Cornelis Hofstede de Groot, briefly director of the Rijksprentenkabinet, whose comprehensive catalogue of Rembrandt drawings appeared in the same 300th anniversary year. His bequest includes Three Scribes (a study for the artist’s most important early painting) on the verso of the beautiful Study of a Woman’s Legs. The rare early Self-portrait belongs to another major gift, the bequest of Mr and Mrs I. de Bruijn-van de Leeuw, which arrived in 1961. Outstanding purchases in recent decades are the Studies for the Sick Woman in the ‘Hundred Guilder Print’ and the Cottage with White Paling among Trees, both connected to etchings by the artist. The only acquisition to post-date Schatborn’s 1985 catalogue, Portrait of the Actor Willem Bartholsz Ruyter, was completely unknown before a photocopy of it was sent to him for his opinion in 1995.

In the coming months, this online catalogue will be augmented with texts on drawings by named artists from the school of Rembrandt, as well as those by anonymous pupils and followers.

See also here.

Real Neat Blog Award, congratulations to 11 nominees!


Real Neat Blog Award

Late in 2014, I made this new award: the Real Neat Blog Award. There are so many bloggers whose blogs deserve more attention. So, I will try to do something about that 🙂

It is the first award that I ever made. I did some computer graphics years ago, before I started blogging; but my computer drawing had become rusty 🙂

The ‘rules’ of the Real Neat Blog Award are: (feel free not to act upon them if you don’t have time; or don’t accept awards; etc.):

1. Put the award logo on your blog.

2. Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you.

3. Thank the people who nominated you, linking to their blogs.

4. Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs.

5. Let them know you nominated them (by commenting on their blog etc.)

My seven questions are:

1. Where do most visits to your blog come from?

2. What is your favourite sport?

3. What has been a special moment for you so far in 2017?

4. What is your favourite quote?

5. What was your favourite class when still at school?

6. Anything you had wished to have learned earlier?

7. What musical instrument have you tried to play?

My nominees are:

1. sideshowtog

2. Lavender and Levity

3. ReadRantRock&Roll

4. maryam-achillea

5. Letras & Poesia

6. Redvince’s Weblog

7. Millennial Millions

8. throughtheconundrumoflife

9. Abriendo el alma

10. Human Life Run

11. Didi Oviatt

UAE hacking of Qatari government Internet sites


This video says about itself:

U.S. Believes UAE Orchestrated Hacking That Sparked Gulf Crisis

16 July 2017

The U.S. intelligence community believes that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) orchestrated the hacking incident that sparked the diplomatic crisis between Qatar and Gulf countries, the Washington Post reported on Sunday. James Valles reports. (BNO News)

From the Washington Post in the USA:

UAE orchestrated hacking of Qatari government sites, sparking regional upheaval, according to U.S. intelligence officials

By Karen DeYoung and Ellen Nakashima

July 16 at 6:25 PM

The United Arab Emirates orchestrated the hacking of Qatari government news and social media sites in order to post incendiary false quotes attributed to Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, in late May that sparked the ongoing upheaval between Qatar and its neighbors, according to U.S. intelligence officials.

Officials became aware last week that newly analyzed information gathered by U.S. intelligence agencies confirmed that on May 23, senior members of the UAE government discussed the plan and its implementation. The officials said it remains unclear whether the UAE carried out the hacks itself or contracted to have them done. The false reports said that the emir, among other things, had called Iran an “Islamic power” and praised Hamas.

The hacks and posting took place on May 24, shortly after President Trump completed a lengthy counterterrorism meeting with Persian Gulf leaders in neighboring Saudi Arabia and declared them unified.

Citing the emir’s reported comments, the Saudis, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt immediately banned all Qatari media. They then broke relations with Qatar and declared a trade and diplomatic boycott, sending the region into a political and diplomatic tailspin that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has warned could undermine U.S. counterterrorism efforts against the Islamic State [ISIS].

In a statement released in Washington by its ambassador, Yousef al-Otaiba, the UAE said the Post article was “false.”

“The UAE had no role whatsoever in the alleged hacking described in the article,” the statement said. “What is true is Qatar’s behavior. Funding, supporting, and enabling extremists from the Taliban to Hamas and Qadafi.

Even if these UAE accusations would happen to be true, then it is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. As the UAE used to be one of only three countries (including also Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, not including Qatar) to recognize the Taliban regime in Kabul, Afghanistan; and as Qatar’s armed forces played a prominent role in the NATO regime change war in Libya, which caused the murder of Qadafi and the present bloodbath after bloodbath.

Inciting violence, encouraging radicalization, and undermining the stability of its neighbors.”

The revelations come as emails purportedly hacked from Otaiba’s private account have circulated to journalists over the past several months. That hack has been claimed by an apparently pro-Qatari organization calling itself GlobalLeaks. Many of the emails highlight the UAE’s determination over the years to rally Washington thinkers and policymakers to its side on the issues at the center of its dispute with Qatar.

All of the Persian Gulf nations are members of the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State. More than 10,000 U.S. troops are based at Qatar’s al-Udeid Air Base, the U.S. Central Command’s regional headquarters, and Bahrain is the home of the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet. All are purchasers of U.S. defense equipment and tied to U.S. foreign policy priorities in numerous ways.

The conflict has also exposed sharp differences between Trump — who has clearly taken the Saudi and UAE side in a series of tweets and statements — and Tillerson, who has urged compromise and spent most of last week in shuttle diplomacy among the regional capitals that has been unsuccessful so far. …

U.S. intelligence and other officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive matter. …

In what the [US Donald Trump] administration hailed as a high point of the visit, the Saudis agreed to purchase $110 billion in U.S. arms and signed letters of intent to invest hundreds of billions in deals with U.S. companies.

He had told the Saudis in advance, Trump said in an interview Wednesday with the Christian Broadcasting Network, that the agreements and purchases were a prerequisite for his presence. “I said, you have to do that, otherwise I’m not going,” Trump recounted. …

The day after the boycott was announced, Trump indirectly took credit for it. “So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with King and 50 countries already paying off,” he tweeted. “They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar.” …

Qatar rejected the demands. Tillerson appeared to agree that they were draconian. But when he called for the boycott to be eased, saying it was causing both security and humanitarian hardship, Trump said the measure was harsh “but necessary.” …

Asked about Trump’s tweets and other comments, he [Tillerson] noted that being secretary of state “is a lot different than being CEO of Exxon,” his previous job, “because I was the ultimate decision-maker.”

This report is contrary to earlier accusations by CNN that Russia was behind the hacking.