Silencing free spech in the USA


This video about the USA says about itself:

31 October 2017

Russiagate is a purported attempt to uncover the alleged subversion of U.S. democracy, but it’s creating dangers of its own, says former FBI Special Agent Colleen Rowley.

By Andre Damon in the USA:

US Congressional hearing: Former FBI agent says tech companies must “silence” sources of “rebellion”

1 November 2017

Top legal and security officials for Facebook, Twitter and Google appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday, in a hearing targeting “Extremist Content and Russian Disinformation Online.”

Over the course of four hours, senators argued that “foreign infiltration” is the root of social opposition within the United States, in order to justify the censorship of oppositional viewpoints.

Russia “sought to sow discord and amplify racial and social divisions among American voters,” said Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California. It “exploited hot button topics…to target both conservative and progressive audiences.”

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa said Russia helped promote protests against police violence in Ferguson, Baltimore and Cleveland. Russia, he said, “spread stories about abuse of black Americans by law enforcement. These ads are clearly intended to worsen racial tensions and possibly violence in those cities.”

Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii demanded, for her part, that the companies adopt a “mission statement” expressing their commitment “to prevent the fomenting of discord.”

The most substantial portion of the testimony took place in the second part of the hearing, during which most of the Senators had left and two representatives of the US intelligence agencies testified before a room of mostly empty chairs.

Clint Watts, a former U.S. Army officer, former FBI agent, and member of the Alliance for Securing Democracy, made the following apocalyptic proclamation: “Civil wars don’t start with gunshots, they start with words. America’s war with itself has already begun. We all must act now on the social media battlefield to quell information rebellions that can quickly lead to violent confrontations and easily transform us into the Divided States of America.”

He added, “Stopping the false information artillery barrage landing on social media users comes only when those outlets distributing bogus stories are silenced—silence the guns and the barrage will end.”

As this “civil war” rages on, he said, “our country remains stalled in observation, halted by deliberation and with each day more divided by manipulative forces coming from afar.”

The implications of these statements are staggering. The United States is in the midst of a civil war, and the necessary response of the government is censorship, together with the abolition of all other fundamental democratic rights. The “rebellion” must be put down by silencing the news outlets that advocate it.

That such a statement could be made in a congressional hearing, entirely without objection, is an expression of the terminal decay of American democracy. There is no faction of the ruling class that maintains any commitment to basic democratic rights.

None of the Democrats in the committee raised any of the constitutional issues involved in asking massive technology companies to censor political speech on the Internet. Only one Republican raised concerns over censorship, but only to allege that Google had a liberal bias.

The Democrats focused their remarks on demands that the Internet companies take even more aggressive steps to censor content. In one particularly noxious exchange, Feinstein pressed Google’s legal counsel on why it took so long for YouTube (which is owned by Google) to revoke the status of Russia Today as a “preferred” broadcaster. She demanded, “Why did Google give preferred status to Russia Today, a Russian propaganda arm, on YouTube? … It took you until September of 2017 to do it.”

Despite the fact that Feinstein and other Democrats were clearly pressuring the company to take that step, the senators allowed Richard Salgado, Google’s Law Enforcement and Information Security Director, to present what was by all appearances a bald-faced lie before Congress. “The removal of RT from the program was actually a result of…is a result of some of the drop in viewership, not as a result of any action otherwise. So there was … there was nothing about RT or its content that meant that it stayed in or stayed out,” Salgado stammered, in the only time he appeared to lose his composure during the hearing.

Salgado’s apparently false statement is of a piece with Google’s other actions to censor the Internet. These include changes to its search algorithm, which, behind the backs of the public, have slashed search traffic to left-wing websites by some 55 percent, with the World Socialist Web Site losing some 74 percent of its search traffic.

Stressing the transformation of the major US technology companies into massive censorship operations, Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island asked the representatives of the firms, “I gather that all of your companies have moved beyond any notion that your job is only to provide a platform, and whatever goes across it is not your affair,” to which all answered in the affirmative.

When pressed by lawmakers to state how many people were employed by Facebook to moderate content, Colin Stretch, the company’s general counsel, said that Facebook employed “thousands” of such moderators, and was in the process of adding “thousands more.”

While the senators and technology companies largely presented a show of unity, just how far the companies were willing to go in censoring users’ content and helping the government create blacklists of dissidents was no doubt a subject of contentious debate in the background.

On Friday, Feinstein sent a letter to Twitter’s CEO demanding that the company hand over profile information—possibly including full names, email addresses, and phone numbers—related to “divisive” “organic content” promoted by “Russia-linked” accounts.

Although the senators largely steered away from the issue of “organic content” in their questions, a remark by Sean Edgett, Twitter’s acting general counsel, made clear that the “organic content” Feinstein’s letter was referring to included the social media posts of US-based organizations and individuals. Edgett said “organic tweets,” include “those that you or I or anyone here today can tweet from their phone or computer.”

The New York Times reported over the weekend, however, that Facebook has already begun turning lists of such “organic content” over to congressional investigators. Given that Facebook has said that just one “Russia-linked” company had posted some 80,000 pieces of “divisive” content, including reposts from other users, it is reasonable to assume Facebook and Twitter are being pressured to turn over information on a substantial portion of political dissidents within the United States.

Anti-Russia hearings in the US: Lawmakers demand tech companies censor journalists and conduct mass surveillance: here.

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Facebook censors Syrian Kurds, helping Erdogan, ISIS


This video from the USA says about itself:

How Facebook Decides If You See Nudity or Death (HBO)

Facebook employs 4,500 content moderators around the world. Moderators get two weeks of training and a stack of manuals to help them police the site for racism,

No racism? So, why is, eg, the racist, openly neonazi Dutch Nederlandse Volks-Unie party welcome and unmolested at Facebook?

misogyny,

No misogyny? Then, why Facebook censorship about women’s reproductive rights?

violence,

Then why the Facebook pages of the armed forces of the USA, Britain and many other countries; eg, of the army of Myanmar, busily killing Rohingya minority civilians?

and pornography.

Meaning in practice: censorship of famous works of art and of famous photos documenting Vietnam war crimes.

VICE’s partners at The Guardian obtained more than a hundred of these manuals and they offer the first-ever look at the sometimes logical, sometimes inexplicable ways Facebook asks a few thousand people to help patrol its close to 2 billion users. This segment is part of the May 23rd [2017] VICE News Tonight episode.

After Facebook censored this and that, helped the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar, etc. etc., now this.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Facebook ‘politically censoring’ Kurdish solidarity

Wednesday 18th October 2017

PRO-KURDISH activists accused Facebook of political censorship yesterday after it closed down a page expressing solidarity with Kurds in Syria.

The Leeds Friends of Rojava page was suspended after the site said it didn’t comply with Facebook’s “community standards.”

Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign (KSC) co-secretary Rosa Gilbert accused the social media giant of going out of its way to censor posts criticising Turkey and offering support for Kurds.

“Thanks to a leak a few years ago by one of Facebook’s ‘content moderators,’ we know that there is an internationally applied Facebook policy to censor maps of Kurdistan, criticisms of Turkey and Ataturk, and anything relating to the imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan.”

She said the policy had broadened to include censoring posts supporting the [Syrian Kurdish] YPG which is not listed as a terrorist organisation in Britain although it is in Turkey.

“This should concern anyone with an interest in freedom of speech — why should someone writing a Facebook post in England face censorship because the Turkish government doesn’t like what you’re writing?”

So Facebook is not only helping the genocidal regime in Myanmar. They are censoring the Syrian Kurds, the main force effectively fighting the ISIS terrorists. They are doing that on behalf of Turkish autocrat Erdogan, often accused of helping ISIS. Erdogan, voted ‘dictator of the year’ jointly with the ISIS boss.

The political representatives of the American ruling class are engaged in a conspiracy to suppress free speech. Under the guise of combating “trolls” and “fake news” supposedly controlled by Russia, the most basic constitutional rights enumerated in the First Amendment are under direct attack: here.

‘Free press’ NGOs censor South Sudanese radio station


Media money to South Sudan

This picture shows the financing of supposedly independent media in South Sudan. On the left, the governments of the USA and the Netherlands. In the middle, the non(?)-governmental organisations Internews and Free Press Unlimited. On the right, the South Sudanese radio stations Eye Radio and Radio Tamazuj.

This week, there is a report by Maite Vermeulen on Dutch Internet site De Correspondent.

It says (translated):

Free Press Unlimited supports independent media worldwide. But when their South Sudanese radio station was critical about a sponsor, Free Press Unlimited clamped down. “Do not try to bite the hand which feeds you.”

The Dutch aid organization Free Press Unlimited censored their own journalists.

It’s early in the morning, December 2, 2016. Somewhere in East Africa, the editors of Radio Tamazuj start up their computers. One of the journalists types automatically his password to complete the first news reports on the website. ‘Sorry, unrecognized username or password. Have you forgotten your password?’

He tries again, letter after letter. No, the password is not recognized.

“I can not log in …” he hears a colleague next to him.

No-one on Radio Tamazuj’s editorial board can log in on the morning of December 2, 2016. Because the Dutch aid organisation Free Press Unlimited, which founded and used to support Radio Tamazuj, has changed their passwords.

Free Press Unlimited – an organization which fights for press freedom worldwide – censors its own radio station. The reason: money. Radio Tamazuj had a critical message about Internews, a sponsor of Free Press Unlimited.

The budget of Free Press Unlimited is paid overwhelmingly by the Dutch government; NATO military allies of the United States government. Meanwhile, USAID, that is, the United States government, pays some 75 million dollars to a project of the United States non(?)-governmental organisation Internews called i-STREAM: Strengthening Free and Independent Media in South Sudan. 1,5 million dollars of that goes to Free Press Unlimited.

There is bloody war in South Sudan between several militias. There are foreign soldiers, from the USA, Japan and elsewhere, attracted by South Sudanese oil. Civilians are massacred. Human rights are violated.

Radio Tamazuj reports about that. However, they find out that Eye Radio, paid by the United States government through Internews, practices self-censorship on atrocities and parrots government propaganda. Radio Tamazuj reports on that self-censorship on their Internet site.

And then the Free Press Unlimited bosses in the Netherlands clamped down on Radio Tamazuj, because they said Radio Tamazuj endangered their getting United States government money by way of Internews.

Trump administration wants censorship of their media critics


This video from the USA says about itself:

Sarah Huckabee scrambles after reporter asks why Trump thinks ‘very fine people’ march with racists

25 August 2017

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders refused to say why President Donald Trump thought there were some “very fine people” who protested alongside neo-Nazis in Charlottesville.

At a press briefing on Friday, ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl asked if Trump had spoken to his economic adviser Gary Cohn about his recent comments. Cohn said the president needed to do more to condemn hatred and bigotry.

“The president has been very outspoken in his condemnation of racism of bigotry, of hate of all forms,” Sanders replied. …

“What did the president mean”, Karl began to ask, before being cut off.

“Sorry, we are really short on time,” Sanders said.

By Chris D’Angelo in the USA today:

Updated 28 minutes ago

ESPN Host Committed ‘Fireable Offense’ With Trump ‘White Supremacist’ Tweet: White House Aide

″I think that’s one of the more outrageous comments that anyone could make,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

WASHINGTON — ESPN should consider firing host Jemele Hill for calling President Donald Trump a “white supremacist”, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says.

“I think that’s one of the more outrageous comments that anyone could make, and certainly something that I think is a fireable offense by ESPN,” Sanders said during Wednesday’s press briefing.

So, the Trump administration demands censorship of someone who is not a government employee for criticizing Donald Trump. Welcome to Big Brother’s 1984.

Did Sarah Huckabee Sanders Break the Law When She Attacked a Black ESPN Reporter? Certain government employees are prohibited from influencing the employment decisions of private entities: here.

Asked by The Washington Post’s David Nakamura why an influential African American sportscaster might make such a comment, Sanders said, “I’m not going to speak for that individual, but I know that the president has met, again, with people like Senator [Tim] Scott, who are highly respected leaders in the African-American community.”

Scott, a Republican from South Carolina, met with Trump Wednesday at the White House, in part to discuss the president’s controversial comments following the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last month that sparked deadly violence. After Trump at a news conference said there was “blame of both sides” for the violence, Scott told Vice News that the president’s “moral authority” had been “compromised.”

ESPN’s Jemele Hill is not backing down from her Trump comments.

The White House continues its war on ESPN’s Jemele Hill. A black woman criticized the president and the White House is very upset: here.

JEMELE HILL HAS BEEN SUSPENDED FOR TWO WEEKS Over a social media “violation.” Hill had previously spoken out against Trump. [HuffPost]

This video from the USA says about itself:

12 September 2017

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi (R[epublican]) reversed course on pursuing allegations made against Trump University, a month after the Trump charitable foundation paid $25,000 to a group supporting Bondi’s campaign, and now Bondi has accepted a role in the Trump administration.

THAT TIME TREASURY SECRETARY STEVE MNUCHIN ASKED TO USE A GOVERNMENT PLANE FOR HIS EUROPEAN HONEYMOON Which would have cost taxpayers $25,000 per hour to operate. [HuffPost]

German government censors leftist Internet site


This 19 August 2017 video, from the Jewish Forum for Democracy and Against anti-Semitism in Germany, is about hundreds of nazis marching in Berlin to commemorate Adolf Hitler’s second in command, convicted war criminal Rudolf Hess. German police protected the nazi march. Nevertheless, anti-nazis managed to stop it with road blocks.

In Germany, the extreme right AfD party can call for stopping commemorations of Hitler’s mass murder of Jews without being bothered by the government. The extreme right AfD party can advocate anti-Semitism without being bothered by the government. The extreme right AfD party can advocate killing women and children, refugees from bloody wars, without being bothered by the government.

In Germany, high level elite force army officers do the nazi salute.

In Germany, army officers hatch a plot to murder government officials, seeking to blame Syrian refugees for that.

However, the German government has discovered today who the real enemy is [sarcasm off]. A leftist Internet site.

Today, Dutch NOS TV and Indymedia Germany report that the German government has banned the site linksunten.indymedia.org. That is a site especially for the south west of Germany (linksunten means ‘left below’ geographically), where in principle all people can post messages with not much moderation.

According to the NOS report, the German government did not explain this ban, but it is suspected there is a link to recent confrontations between police and demonstrators against the G20 summit in Hamburg. German minister De Maizière claimed his censorship was not that bad. As only German Indymedia was banned, while Germans would be still be able to read, eg, the Dutch Indymedia site. Herr De Maizière, maybe 1% of Germans can read Dutch, and Dutch Indymedia has few news on Germany.

After the G20 summit, Social Democratic Party (SPD) Justice Minister Heiko Maas called for a “Rock Against the Left” concert to target left-wing “extremists”. The slogan “Rock Against the Left” had previously been associated with neo-Nazi rock bands such as “Freikorps” and “Sturmfront.”

Minister Maas’ wishes became reality soon.

This German 15 Juli 2017 video is about many neonazis doing the Hitler salute and shouting Sieg Heil (illegal in Germany) at a concert in Themar, while police did nothing to stop them.

The irony is that Herr Maas’ Social Democratic Party is, at least on paper, leftist itself. At least, they were a left wing party when they were founded in the nineteenth century. They still were a left-wing party when, in 1912, they decided, jointly with socialist parties in other countries, that governments’ war plans should be stopped by mass strikes and demonstrations. They still were a left-wing party when, in August 1914, they organised demonstrations of hundreds of thousands of people against World War I just before it broke out. And then, most of the party leaders, like some party leaders in other countries, made a sharp rightward U-turn, supporting Emperor Wilhelm II’s bloody war, sowing the seeds for Hitler’s even bloodier World War II.

Germany’s Social Democratic president calls for tougher refugee policy and adaptation to AfD: here.

By Justus Leicht in Germany:

The myth of “left-wing” violence at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany

23 August 2017

More than a month after the clashes on the periphery of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, the official portrayal of events by the police, media and political establishment follows a definite pattern.

According to this narrative, Hamburg experienced an unprecedented outbreak of “left-wing violence,” which the police could ward off only using military means. However, it has become clear that the violence stemmed predominantly from the security forces, and that many of the acts described in the official narrative were either extremely exaggerated or completely invented.

For example, no evidence has been found to support the claim that protesters sought to throw stones and Molotov cocktails from rooftops. Even after intensive searches and forensic investigation, the police have not been able to present any such objects. Despite comprehensive video surveillance, they have not been able to definitively document their use. In fact, many of those who were on roofs or scaffolding were found to be film crews or curious onlookers.

An alleged “armed ambush” was cited to justify the use of heavily armed special forces, who deployed armoured vehicles, shotguns and assault rifles.

Because of the disturbances before and during the G20 summit, about 160 investigations are underway and 32 suspects are being held in custody. A clash on Rondenbarg Street in the Altona district stands out prominently. It is the subject of at least 59 investigations, resulting in 13 protesters being taken into custody. At least four of them are still in prison, three men and one woman from Italy.

In the very restrained words of the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, a police video of the event—which has not been released but has now been seen by the newspaper and broadcaster NDR’s programme “Panorama”—throws “doubt on the previous official presentation by the authorities”.

The footage shows a slow-moving group of demonstrators and a group of police officers in protective equipment. When the two groups are still about 50 metres apart, three “Bengalos” (Bengali flares) fly onto the empty street. All of them land far away from the police officers. The distant bang of a firecracker can be heard.

Although this cannot be construed as an assault, the police unit takes it as the opportunity to attack the demonstrators. As they flee, the protesters are encircled and fired upon from behind with a water cannon. In running away from the police, 14 protesters were injured, some seriously, when they stumbled over a railing and fell 2 metres to the ground.

Immediately following this operation, the deputy commander of the police unit involved gave a completely different account in a “witness statement of the facts”, which the Süddeutsche Zeitung has seen.

“When the crowd was about 50 metres in front of us, we came massively and purposefully under fire from bottles, firecrackers and bengalos,” he wrote. “Stones hit the police officers and the vehicles.” Only the “protective equipment” prevented police officers from being injured. “To ward off the current attacks, the unit ran towards the crowd and the hail of stones continued,” the police report adds.

The police videos show that not a word of this is true.

The State Criminal Investigation Department evaluated the videos in the evening that same day. The next day, the Saturday of the summit, the duty analyst reported to her superiors how little violence on the part of the demonstrators could be seen on the recordings, and that therefore the statement of the deputy unit commander was in doubt.

Even so, contrary to their better knowledge, police officials repeated for weeks that there had been a “massive hail of stones, bottles and pyrotechnics”.

Meanwhile, the Hamburg criminal justice system is proceeding with draconian harshness. For example, 18-year-old Italian worker Fabio V, with no previous criminal record, has been held in custody for more than four weeks. The courts have refused his release, citing crassly arbitrary grounds.

According to the daily taz, the detention order of the Hamburg Higher Regional Court states that “personal acts of violence cannot be attributed to the accused according to the current state of the investigation.”

Instead, the court reports that the 18-year-old is a member of the anarchist scene and is responsible for all the riots: “The accused had caused the civil war-like conditions,” the court writes.

In fact, his arrest had already taken place before the serious disturbances on Friday evening involving the Black Block. The court did not undertake its own analysis of the existing police videos, but relied on statements from the police.

As evidence of his membership in anarchist groups, the court cites the clothes worn by the young man arrested: a black Gore-Tex jacket, a black-white scarf and dark sneakers. The court also holds against the accused the fact that on the left-wing Indymedia website there is a call to send the 18-year-old and all other G20 prisoners solidarity messages.

Even before a trial has been held, the Higher Regional Court judges wrote that the expected prison sentence “cannot be suspended”, according to a report in Die Welt newspaper. “Human dignity, the right to physical integrity and to property” are clearly “without any meaning” for the prisoner, according to the judges.

Furthermore, the Senate of the Higher Regional Court writes that the “discernible ruthless and deeply-founded propensity to violence” were of particular importance. The young man had participated in “the most severe riots”, which illustrates a “character attitude justifying the assumption of guilt”. Later, the Higher Regional Court Senate speaks of the “malicious inclinations” of the accused, and establishes “considerable educational deficiencies, which cause the risk of further criminal offences without the extensive education of the perpetrator”.

Fabio V. himself has not spoken. His Hamburg lawyer, Gabriele Heinecke, has lodged a constitutional appeal.

The fact that this young worker who has not shown any previous involvement in violent acts has been demonised, imprisoned, and threatened with a long term of imprisonment for allegedly belonging to the “left scene”, without any trial and a possibility to defend himself, is a serious warning.

The military rearming of Germany and the pursuit of a great-power role cannot be reconciled with democracy. The ruling class is determined to brutally suppress any political resistance.

The clashes on the periphery of the G20 summit serve as a pretext for speeding up the provision of wider powers to the security forces and a hysterical campaign against “left-wing extremism” by the political establishment and the media.

At the same time, all evidence of the massive, disproportionate use of police violence has been swept under the carpet, especially by the Social Democratic Party (SPD). There was no police violence, the concept alone was impermissible and merely left-wing extremist propaganda, said Hamburg’s mayor Olaf Scholz (SPD). The police were “heroes”, he claimed, and their actions completely justified.

The more the Social Democratic Party (SPD) declines in the polls—the party is running four weeks prior to the federal election at 22 percent, far behind Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) at 39 percent—the more it lashes out aggressively in its election campaign. In ZDF’s summer television interview on Sunday evening, SPD Chancellor candidate Martin Schulz attacked the German Chancellor from the right on foreign and domestic policy issues: here.

Germany’s Federal Criminal Police (BKA) are illegally storing masses of data regarding supposed “politically motivated crimes.” As broadcaster ARD reported, data on more than 100,000 people accused of such offenses is being held in a database called “Internal Security,” even though in the vast majority of cases, there has never been a charge, let alone a court proceeding. The ARD report suggests that the BKA is operating a “blacklist” of journalists and political activists classified as “left-wing extremists”: here.

The much-hyped televised debate between Chancellor Angela Merkel (Christian Democrats, CDU) and her Social Democratic challenger Martin Schulz on Sunday evening was a disgusting political spectacle. Merkel and Schulz agreed on virtually every issue and appealed, among other things, for a stricter crackdown on refugees, more police, and a more aggressive German and European foreign policy: here.

On September 1, the interior and justice ministers of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU) adopted a statement on domestic security which reads like a blueprint for dictatorship. The two “Union” parties head the current coalition government in Germany, with the Social Democratic Party (SPD) as a junior partner: here.

The media and political parties have long sought to keep the issues of war and militarism out of Germany’s federal election campaign. But reality is now catching up with them. US imperialism’s aggressiveness towards North Korea, Russia and China, and the Pyongyang regime’s testing of a nuclear weapon have brought the world to the brink of a nuclear war, which calls into question the very survival of humanity. A danger which the Sozialistische Gleichheitspartei (SGP) and International Committee of the Fourth International has been warning of for some time is now being openly discussed: here.

On October 1, the Network Enforcement Act took effect in Germany. Under the cover of a fight against “fake news” and “hate speech,” it creates a legal framework for censorship of the Internet: here.